MANHATTAN — More than a thousand teachers, students, parents and supporters rallied Saturday for better educational resources in New York state at the People's March for Education Justice in midtown Manhattan.
There were seven March for Education Justice rallies held in New York, with the biggest turnout in midtown Manhattan according to The Alliance for Quality Education, who organized the event.
The group aims to "defend public education from federal attacks by Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos... defend here in New York from Governor Andrew Cuomo," according to the group's Facebook page.
Parents, students, teachers and education activists marched from Trump International Hotel to Cuomo's office on Third Avenue. They demanded a use of $4.3 billion owed to the public "statewide" which includes $1.9 billion owed to New York City; to 'Raise the Age' and end youth criminalization; to end the state's reliance on "high stakes testing"; to demand that the state invests in pre-K and childcare; to ensure that all public schools, colleges and universities in the state are sanctuary schools; to demand that SUNY and CUNY schools are truly made free when Cuomo's proposed free tuition plan takes effect this fall; and to extend and expand the millionaire's tax, which would potentially bring billions of dollars in funding to schools.
The group's page says both Cuomo and President Trump have "attacked" public education and "called public schools a 'monopoly.'"
Many of the attendees told PIX11 News they're against president Trump and U.S Secretary of Education Betsy Devos' stance on public education, adding governor Cuomo needs to do more.
"I think we need more funds not less," Martha Tiffany said at the march. "We need to make sure all students have equal opportunity and an equal chance for higher education."
"We have a two-week window for the state budget to happen," Zakiyah Ansari said, who is the Advocacy Director at The Alliance for Quality Education in NYC.
"It's about putting pressure and showing that the public will is putting the pressure on the political will to finally phase in the 4.3 billion dollars that are owed to our students that the governor and state legislature can make happen now."
Cuomo said after the march that his "education budget is the highest in history."
"It's one billion dollars more than last year, some advocacy groups that's what they do, they just argue it's not enough," Cuomo said.
Still, teachers like Jose Vilson, who has been teaching at I.S. 52 in Washington Heights for 12 years, think it's not enough.
"I buy a thousand dollars in supplies every year, things like pencils, paper, chalk, and white board markers," Vilson said.
"We want to make sure there's more art, dance, theatre and we want to make sure all of our students have enough curriculum and adults around, including guidance counselors. "
Organizers urged attendees to call governor Cuomo's office Monday and continue to fight for more money and opportunities for NYC students.