Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011-05-03 "East Bay Groups Rallying To Protest State Cuts To Education" from "KTVU 2"
RICHMOND, Calif. -- East Bay education advocates are rallying today to encourage the state Legislature to extend tax increases instead of making what they say would be devastating cuts to education funding to balance the budget.
Protesters in Richmond and San Leandro are asking lawmakers to extend increases to the state's sales tax, vehicle licensing fee and other revenue generators scheduled to expire this summer to avoid making $5 billion in cuts to K-12 education.
The California Teachers Association is holding a "State of Emergency" campaign all next week, but supporters of the West Contra Costa Unified and San Leandro Unified school districts decided to get an early start.
"If these taxes aren't extended, we're looking at a real catastrophe as far as I'm concerned," San Leandro Teachers Association President Jon Sherr said. "We've already cut anything that could halfway be described as 'fat.' I'm not sure what's left. Shorten school year? I don't know."
Sherr said the San Leandro school district had to cut $3 million this year from a budget that has already been shrinking for years.
Kindergarten through third-grade class sizes have gone from 20 students to 24 to 28 over the last three years, and this year they will go up to 32, he said.
Half of the district's elementary physical education specialists have been laid off, meaning classroom teachers will have to take on some of those duties.
Middle school counseling is also being eliminated, which Sherr called a "tremendous hit" to the district because it serves many students in need, he said.
He said teachers in the district had already been planning today's rally before the state campaign was announced, and that they decided to continue because they thought it would be a good precursor to the "State of Emergency" events.
"We want to alert the community to what's on the table here," he said.
Teachers and other supporters planned to flock to San Leandro High School at 2200 Bancroft Ave. as soon as the school day ended at about 3 p.m., Sherr said.
San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Superintendent Cindy Cathey and School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose are scheduled to speak.
Protesters in Richmond are also rallying all day to publicize the impacts of billions of dollars in state cuts to education funding over the last three years, according to the United Teachers of Richmond union.
Educators gathered at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Cutting Boulevard at 6 a.m. today and planned to after school let out, according to the union.
Labor groups and parents are picketing throughout the day while staff and teachers are in school.

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