Stick Makes Teachers Sick

Education Austin walks the blocks for Mark Strama

The budget axe of the 78th Legislature fell hard on teachers and public schools, and now teachers are ready to fight back. As an opening volley, several dozen climbed aboard a yellow school bus Saturday to block-walk Pflugerville in support of Mark Strama's challenge to District 50 incumbent Jack Stick.

The campaign was organized by Education Austin, the AISD teacher's union. While it's common for unions to support candidates, send out promotional materials, or run phone banks, the block walk was the first of its kind, reflecting a deep (if not necessarily broad) enthusiasm on the part of many local groups to get hands-on with campaigns in a divisive election season. And for teachers, Stick – who served on the House Appropriations Committee that did the budget-chopping – was a natural target. "On his Web site he boasts that along with the Republican majority he balanced the budget without raising taxes," said Dick Fralin, a special education teacher at Porter Middle School who went on the walk. "Well, about $10 billion had to be accounted for, and a lot of that came out of public education. They balanced the budget on our backs."

Education Austin head Louis Malfaro noted that the group's determination was also fired by Stick's comment when Malfaro delivered the news that the teachers would support Strama. "He quoted Lao-Tzu to me," said Malfaro. "He said, 'If you're going to try to kill the king, you better make sure you kill him.'"

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Election 2004, Mark Strama, Jack Stick, Education Austin, Louis Malfaro

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