Georgia Teachers Going On Hunger Strike To Protect Education Funding

Nearly 50 Georgia teachers are pledging a hunger strike, urging legislators to continue education funding for their state.

The teachers’ campaign, called Hungry for Education — a group of local teachers, parents and students — is aimed at convincing state lawmakers to continue to fully fund education under a new governor and lieutenant governor. Among teachers joining the strike is Alex Robson, Gwinnett County’s Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2017, who hopes the strike makes a change, according to WSB.

“This may be the first hunger strike in history not to change something, but to keep it the same.”

Robson plans to only consume water, lemon juice, vitamins and one Gatorade each day until August 26. Although the strike is challenging, Robson said he has been preparing for quite a while.

“Before this, I got down to about 500 calories a day. So I’m doing okay,” Robson said. “This is actually one of the happier protests I’ve ever seen. We’re celebrating this success and just asking lawmakers to keep going.”

The two-week call for the hunger strike brought over 50 teachers from Gwinnett county and other parts of metro Atlanta, Georgia to join. Teachers from G.I.V.E Center West plan to take different approaches to the strike; some, like middle school teacher Topaz Thompson, are choosing a sunup to sundown fast.

“I just want to do something to show that this is a really important issue and needs to be taken seriously by our heads of state.”

The current governor, Nathan Deal, fully funded public education in Georgia this year for the first time in 16 years. The governor used revenue increases to fund the formula that determines how much funding a school district receives.

The increased funding is changing Gwinnett schools, according to Robson, by adding school resource officers as well as cost-of-living adjustments.

“We’re not anti-government or anything like that,” said Robson, organizer of the movement. “We think Governor Deal has done a tremendous job, and we want the next four years and beyond to be just as education-focused.”

Teachers want to continue this trend with the new candidates as well, hoping to ensure they will fully fund schools. Both candidates expressed support for fully-funded education. Republican candidate Brian Kemp released a statement Monday, saying, as governor, he would be a “strong supporter” of public education.

Robson said the candidates’ promises are motivating, but he wants to ensure they keep their promises throughout the November elections, so the strike continues.