Students from The Evergreen State College dressed in black and sang a parody of “Amazing Grace” in the Senate gallery Thursday to criticize state budget cuts.
After several warnings to not interrupt proceedings, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen tried to gavel down the group. The lyrics to the parody included the words, “The bright young minds of our country, Now wake to meet their doom; So why should we apply to school, When close ahead lies gloom?”
Washington State Patrol troopers and security guards escorted 50 to 60 protesters from the Senate gallery as they continued singing.
The protest started on Evergreen’s campus, with a mock funeral, a cardboard coffin marked “R.I.P. Education” and eulogies for the state’s Basic Health program, as well as higher education. A funeral procession wound through Olympia.
The protest was one of more than 100 student rallies, protests, strikes and walkouts nationwide Thursday that decried cuts to education funding in what was called the National Day of Action for Public Education.
In Washington, the 2010 supplemental budget proposals from Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Senate and the House include between $81 million and $230 million in cuts to higher education. These cuts come on top of 14 percent tuition increases that were approved by the Legislature for this school year and the next one.
To the state, this would mean reductions in work-study programs and cuts in services at public colleges and universities.
Venice Buhain and Maks Goldenshteyn, staff writers