Educators join the Big Bird on the Roof Tour in Florida


At four stops in major cities across Florida, the Big Bird on the Bus Tour brought together teachers, seniors and concerned parents to stand in solidarity and push presidential candidate Mitt Romney for details on how he will pay for his $5 trillion in tax cuts other than end the life of characters on educational television.

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At last week’s debate, Romney blamed Big Bird and his friends on Sesame Street for the federal deficit and claimed that ending funding to public broadcasting – a whopping 1 hundredth of 1 percent of the nation’s budget – would be a key piece of his plan to strengthen the economy. Romney has given few details on how he plans to pay for his tax cuts, other than his pledge to cut funding for PBS, but we do know that implementing these tax breaks for millionaires would lead to devastating cuts to education.

Peggy Brookins [ed note: pictured above], a math teacher at Forest High School in Marion County, was one of the educators who took part in the tour, joining the bus in Orlando and giving a rousing speech taking Romney to task for his attacks on children and education:

My name is Peggy Brookins and I am a high school math teacher in Marion County.

It is from that perspective that I am here today to talk about what America’s children need, and also a little about what they don’t need.

America’s children need good teachers. They need modern classrooms. They need strong communities to make their schools work. They need safe roads and bridges to get to school on. They need up-to-date textbooks and sometimes they need summer school, and after-school programs and extra help.

And yes, yes America’s children need, truly need Big Bird.

Here’s what America’s children do not need:  Tax cuts for millionaires and Romney economics.

Now unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what Big Bird and Romney’s plan to cut trillions of dollars in taxes for corporations and the wealthiest one percent  have in common.

In a debate last week, Mitt Romney offered the American public one of his very first and very few specifics on how he was going to cut the federal budget and grow our economy. He said he would get rid of Big Bird.

That’s right, friends. This man – this multi-multi millionaire – actually said he was going to get rid of Oscar, and Ernie and Bert, NOVA, Frontline and all the other programming that makes public television the world’s largest and one of its most effective classrooms, and that was going to solve our problems.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. It’s sad because not everyone watching that debate knew that his plan to fire Big Bird was pretty much the only honest thing Mitt Romney said that night.

Everything else that came out of his mouth – about education, and most especially about taxes, seemed to have been an attempt to wipe out the last two years of his life on the campaign trail as if by a magic eraser.

But of course, that’s not possible. Romney’s promises and Romney’s plan haven’t changed. He  has been promising a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and has offered no realistic plan to pay for them – beyond Big Bird – because he didn’t want to tell the public how they’d really be paid for – by you, the middle class.

He didn’t want to tell you that he’d cut taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent and cut teachers from your children’s classrooms. He didn’t want to have to say – more than once – that class size didn’t matter.

So he said instead that he’d get rid of Big Bird.

Well it looked like Mitt Romney didn’t watch enough Sesame Street when he was growing up. Because, Mr. Romney, that math just doesn’t add up.

Thank you.

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