Kids as political props: OK or appalling?

Kissing babies may be a time-honored tradition in American political campaigns, but residents of Burlington say the sight of elementary school kids chanting slogans and singing songs in support of the city’s school budget increase was appalling — and perhaps a violation of campaign laws.

As captured on video, the Vote Yes Unity March organized by the Burlington Friends of Education brought together the children of Burlington schools to show their support for the budget, and to sing “We Are One Nation” on the steps of City Hall.

“We have put out a call for all Burlington students to meet us here for a show of unity, to come together, to sing a song.” said Marni Slavik, a rally organizer.

“They already know some of their beloved programs have been cut. They’re really upset about losing Spanish, they know kindergarten paraeducators have been cut, and they know that voting no will mean more of those types of cuts,” she added.

resent at the rally to chant “Vote yes!” and sing songs was Zoe Hecht, a student of Edmunds Elementary School who serves on student council.

“Since we’re the future, if we don’t get good education at our schools, then we won’t be able to get a job .… And then we won’t be able to pay for our kids to get good education for them. And the chain will just keep going on and on, and there will be so many poor families because we won’t be able to get good education,” she said.

While parents and organizers beamed with pride as children urged city residents not to ruin their futures by voting “no” on the budget, some Burlington residents said the children’s rally was appalling, especially since it was promoted through the school.

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