What is the event, and will there be a march?
The event includes thousands of school employees from across the state coming to the Capitol on March 11 to rally and visit with legislators on public education issues. There is no “march,” so you can think of your trip to Austin and walk to the Capitol as your march! (An earlier plan had one in the works.)
Who can attend?
Everyone is invited: school employees, students, parents, and supporters of public education. The rally is sponsored by Texas AFT and the the Texas State Teachers Association, which will be bringing in members by bus and other transport from local unions throughout the state. But you do not need to be a member to attend. And yes kids are welcome and encouraged to attend!
Do I need to RSVP?
No. But for Facebook users, we’d appreciate it if you’d check “Going” or “Interested” on our Facebook event. If you would like to find out about getting a ride to Austin (by bus or other means), see the transportation question below, but you can also let us know you’re coming and indicate a need for transportation or meeting with a group from your area here.
What will happen on March 11?
Attendees will arrive throughout the morning, with some opting to make visits with legislators. Then:
11 a.m.: Box lunch (free) on the Capitol lawn, and water provided
Noon to 1 p.m.: Rally on the South Steps with speakers (three teachers and our state and national union leaders)
1 p.m.: Attendees head into the Capitol (expect delays going through security) Please consider using one of the additional entrances to the Capitol on the North, West and East sides. A wheelchair accessible entrance is located on the North side of the Capitol.
1:45 p.m.: Attendees gather inside in the Capitol Rotunda (on all four floors…pick one!) for a brief word, song and photos. (You can download the lyrics to the song here.)
2:00 p.m.> Attendees are free to visit more with legislators, sit in the House or Senate galleries to watch (if they are in session) or head home.
What’s the best way to stay informed about any changes, rain plans, etc.?
Like us on Facebook and monitor the event page. Also check in on this page occasionally for any updates. You can also follow us on Twitter.
What if it rains?
The Capitol has rules about not setting up tents (where lunch will be served) if the ground is soaked from rain on previous days or day of the rally. So lunch may not be provided in that case (except to bus passengers). If rain is very light, the rally will continue on South Steps at noon. If rain is heavy, we will simply meet inside in the Rotunda at noon instead. Please check the weather and bring appropriate clothing and possibly rain gear.
What if I want to visit with my legislator?
Local unions have scheduled visits already, so get in touch with your local to see their schedule. (Texas AFT locals and TSTA locals.) If you don’t belong to a union or are a statewide member, feel free to look up your legislators and drop by their office to share your thoughts with them (or most likely a legislator’s staff member). You also can sign in at their offices so that lawmakers know you have visited in support of public education. Remember the three rules of informal lobbying: Be nice. Be nice. And Be Nice.
How do I get to Austin?
We have a large number of local unions with buses coming in the morning of March 11 (and some locals may have ridesharing available). If you’re interested, please check this list and contact these locals directly.
If you’re coming by car, you’re advised to try the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage, which is the closest, most obvious choice, but it may fill up. There is also metered parking around the Capitol, some city-owned that take credit cards and some state-owned that still take coins. You also can consider parking farther away from the Capitol and using the city’s transit system or rideshare companies to get to the Capitol.
What should I wear?
Red for Ed would be the first choice. Or blue because it’s Texas AFT’s traditional color. Or purple if your a Texans for Public Education member. If you have something with a local union or slogan supporting public ed, that would be great too! Legislators are accustomed to rally days with this apparel, so professional attire is not required.
What about signs?
We’ll have some signs to hand out at the rally, but consider making some of your own to add to the diversity. And remember, some signs (e.g. with long sticks) might be prohibited inside the Capitol. Other signs can brought inside, but not displayed in the galleries or committee hearings.
Is the Rally and Capitol accessible for those with mobility issues?
The Capitol’s north entrance is wheelchair accessible, and elevators are located in the Capitol. Please take into consideration, however, the need to get from parking to the Capitol if you can’t get dropped off at the nearest gate to the grounds. Those with official/valid Texas Disabled Parking plates or placards are allowed to park at state meters by the Capitol for free.
What other tips do you have for the day?
- Go to the bathroom before you get to the Capitol or in the Capitol during the morning! Yes, the Capitol has bathrooms on every floor and for the Extension floors, but it will obviously be crowded and you could face a wait. Also try other floors or the Extension for bathrooms.
- Take the stairs in the Capitol if you are able. Elevators will be packed.
- Bring a small snack for you and your kids if they attend. While plans call for a box lunch to be provided for free, and water, they may not be able to be distributed with heavy rains or soaked Capitol grounds. See “What if it rains?” above.
- We’ll have plenty of water at the Capitol grounds (unless it rains heavily!) Bring a water with you, but feel free to leave it in the car/bus if weather is nice.
- Wear sunscreen, even for a cloudy day.
- Remember that you will have to go through a security screening to scan items and through a metal detector to enter the Capitol. While it’s perfectly acceptable to have a bag or backpack, you’ll be wearing it all day, and it might face inspection, so pack lightly.
- If the South entrance to the Capitol is packed (and it will be) on completion of the rally, consider entering one of the other three doors.
- With thousands of people at the Capitol, be ready to be patient, and enjoy the company of public education supporters from across the state!