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Rally Sends Message to Sacramento: Stop Cutting our Schools’ Budgets

Thousands turn out to support school districts facing continued cuts in funding.

Students, teachers and staff of schools throughout Southern California were joined by enthusiastic supporters Friday afternoon at a rally in downtown San Diego meant to send a message to Sacramento politicians to stop cutting the budget for education.

The crowd of several thousand came from San Diego, Imperial, Orange and Riverside counties for the “State of Emergency” rally organized by the California Teachers Association. They waved signs and chanted as speakers warned of the consequences of further cuts to education funding. Speakers included administrators, teachers, students, staff, parents and labor leaders.

Darin Curtis, a physical education teacher at Tierra del Sol Middle School in Lakeside and the current California Teacher of the Year, recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with President Obama in the Oval Office and other federal education officials.

“I confronted the important educational leaders in our nation’s capital, and believe me, my fire is lit,” Curtis told the crowd, drawing loud cheers.  

He described meeting with Obama and showing him a picture of the president a second-grader keeps in her desk. Obama signed the picture and learned the story of the student’s teacher and her hard work that goes beyond the school day.

“She comes to the school early. She stays until dark and comes back on the weekends to develop lessons that inspire the dreams of her students,” Curtis said. “It’s not a six-hour job. Are you kidding me?”

One of the best-received speeches was one delivered by Natalie Mason and Kalvin Payne, students at San Diego High School of International Studies. They stood together at the podium and spoke with passion and humor about their teachers.

“We understand that money doesn’t grow on trees. We’re employed ourselves,” they said, drawing laughs. “But every time a teacher loses a job, a student loses a person they can count on.”

Carol Lamb, a bus driver in the Vista Unified School District, represented the Classified School Employees Association. She said budget cuts a few years ago resulted in bus service being cut for middle school students. A seventh-grader that had to walk three miles to school along busy streets was hit by a car and killed, she said. Bus service was restored after the accident.

“Because of the ongoing budget cuts, our children’s safety is constantly put at risk,” she said.

Gregg Robinson of the California Federation of Teachers gave a fiery speech that blasted politicians for cutting education funding while undertaxing billionaires. He said he fears that more budget cuts will result in students with no math skills whatsoever, “like a lot of those legislators up in Sacramento.”

“Because they’re telling us in Sacramento there’s no money for education. They tell us they can cut taxes on the wealthy but they can’t fund education,” Robinson said. “That’s bad math.”

Jim May 16, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Sorry Joshua, Bush tax cuts are not the problem. You can take all the rich peoples income and the problem will not get better.
coronado May 16, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Joshua is drinking the liberal "kool-aid". It would be comical if it wasn't a large portion of the population's mentality. Here's a news flash for you: Education is better served on a local level and shouldn't be funded by the federal govt. Let the counties and cities keep the tax dollars and spend them wisely and as each district's needs dictate. SMALLER govt and school-vouchers is the answer to education in California. The public schools have drained the state coffers with ridiculous pay and benefits. Private schools competing for students would bring our education system up out of the gutter. Let teachers EARN their pay and benefits compensation based on performance. Why are the teachers afraid of THAT? My pay, and 95% of U.S. worker's pay, is based on performance. Thank God my daughter got a PRIVATE education in Australia. I did this on a truck driver's salary so no rich jokes.
Jim May 17, 2011 at 03:13 AM
Well said Jeffery, and I would like to add that public employees are much less affected by this economy than the majority of us. Welcome to reality and adulthood this is just the beginning.
James Jones June 09, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Hey! Don't worry everybody! The Lottery is gonna fund education...oh wait a minute...nevermind. My favorite tactic the union uses is juxtaposing education cuts vs. taxing the rich, now that's bad math! Parents that dont care or participate, educating illegals, language barriers, no child left behind. Let's start with these and stop thinking that the only answer is to throw more money at the problem.
James Jones June 09, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I also love how the union indoctrinates the kids in class to their "bad math" and then uses them as political pawns. Also, in their rhetoric, always look for the "budget cuts will put our kids' safety at risk" logic. How about if the teachers do a lesson on basic economics and how government spending, taxation and free market forces effect the economy.

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