HOUGHTON - Carrying signs that read "Local control means our kids succeed" and "Local control: kids, teachers, parents," siblings Kristyn and Zachary Blessing of Calumet know the importance of education.
Saturday at the U.P. Rally for Schools held at Veterans Park in Houghton, their objective was to share their frustrations about local lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget.
"It always seems the students are the ones that hurt whenever budgets are cut," Kristyn said. "It's important to show support for schools, parents and teachers."
More than 50 people turned out at the U.P. Rally for Schools in Veterans Park in Houghton last Saturday. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Stacey Kukkonen)
Education is an important factor in the siblings' lives; their entire family works in education and as the cuts directly affect people involved with education, Zachary said everyone is affected in some way.
"Pretty much everyone goes to school," he said. "It affects everyone for the rest of their life and they lose a quality education."
More than 50 people turned out to show their support and praise local schools for their efforts to provide quality education. Guest speakers at the park included Terry LaJeunesse, Uniserv director with the Michigan Education Association, former Congressman Bart Stupak, Democrat Gary McDowell, former Congressional candidate, and Ann Campbell, the vocal music teacher at Houghton-Portage Township Schools.
Campbell opened by asking the crowd what a series of people, including Brad Pitt, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, NBA player Malik Rose and Steven Spielberg, among others, have in common.
"Every one of those people sang in a school choir or performed in a school marching band," she said.
Campbell spoke to the crowd about the importance of music, which helps students score higher on tests, and said the best colleges encourage continued involvement in fine arts.
"They recognized that those activities are essential to them," she said.
Campbell said the arts create a positive sense of involvement and promote creative thinking.
"Representative (Matt) Huuki has referred to fine arts classes as, and I have to make the finger folds, 'hobby classes' which can be cut from our curriculum," she said. "I maintain that we don't know what may be a hobby for another person."
Stupak took the microphone and said the way to get ahead is through education, not by transferring money from public education to give to corporations.
"You cannot take the cuts they are giving us," he said. "Why do you have to take from us to give more to the rich? We the people have to take back our government."
LaJeunesse also told the crowd the idea of the rally was to educate about the importance of public funding.
"The education that our children are receiving is second to none in the country," he said. "We have never needed Lansing or Washington to tell us how to do it."