In the biggest mass demonstration at the state capitol in recent memory, thousands of Texas teachers flocked to Austin on Saturday to rally against deep cuts in education funding.
"The pursuit of quality education is now threatened," Aledo school board member Bobby Rigues told the crowd estimated by organizers to number 11,000.
Lawmakers are considering slashing as much as $10 billion from education to make up for a huge budget shortfall.
The proposed cuts have forced school districts across the state to plan to eliminate thousands of jobs.
Teachers want legislators to dip into the state’s $9 billion “rainy day” fund, but Gov. Rick Perry has said the money should be saved for a true emergency and urged districts to trim administrative expenses.
Many teachers were critical of the governor's position. One carried a sign saying, "Charlie Sheen makes more sense than Gov. Duh Perry."
Many speakers also called on Texas to change the way education is funded to avoid future shortfalls.
The rally, on the south steps of the state capitol, was organized by a group called Save Texas Schools.
As the demonstration kicked off, teachers gathered a block away and marched around the capitol to the south law. A band from Reagan High School in Austin led the way.
Dalton Sherman, a Dallas sixth-grader, gave a stirring speech warning that cuts in education will only hurt students.
"We need to help each other and believe in each other if we are to succeed," he said. "We're scared, governor, we're scared for our future."
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa also spoke at the rally.
He quoted the cartoon character Popeye in saying, "I've had all I can stand and I can't stands no more."