Mark Schauer, who has announced he will seek the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2014, kicked the event off. He said education in Michigan "must be recognized for what it is – Michigan’s single most important investment we can make to guarantee an economy that works for everyone."
Both of Meridian Township's elected state-level representatives were on hand supporting education. Representative Sam Singh attended the rally, and Senator Gretchen Whitmer gave an impassioned speech imploring the crowd to chant "kids come first." Whitmer said "We are the voice of the majority of Michigan . . . We know the majority of Michigan knows our kids come first . . . We have to make sure the people inside this building hear us." West Michigan's Representative Brandon Dillon and many others also spoke.
Among the most compelling speakers were a pair of high school students - Dustin Hazen from Portland, and Billy Dering from Ann Arbor:
Hazen: "For starters, I do not agree with the privatization of our public schools. Our Governor says he only privatizes public schools because they are financially stressed or because teachers are failing their students. That's a good argument, but how can schools function if they are not properly funded?"
The rally was organized by Save Michigan's Public Schools, a grassroots organization. Ecletablog has a great photo essay and several video clips. The event was covered by Michigan's major news outlets:
- Hundreds rally in Lansing in support of public education, Detroit Free Press
- Mark Schauer, other Democrats speak at rally to 'Save Michigan's Public Schools', MLive.com
- Hundreds rally for more school funds, Lansing State Journal
- Michigan Dems blast GOP over school funding cuts, Detroit News