California Educator

MARCH 2011

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State budget cuts are shortchanging students’ futures “Our teachers lost their jobs, but our students lost their inspi- ration, motivation, and the peo- ple they looked up to every day.” This poignant statement by Por- tola Elementary PTA President Mandi Heathcote, at a March 15 Day of Action news confer- ence held at Portola Elementary School in San Bruno, expressed the sadness and dismay felt by students, parents and supporters of public education statewide on the deadline day for Califor- nia school districts to issue pink slips. CTA President David A. San- chez — joined by the CTA Board of Directors and state Superin- tendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson — gave partici- pants the grim news that nearly 19,000 pink slips had gone out, and predicted that the number would increase to more than 20,000 once all the schools had reported. “In my 30 years as a kindergarten teacher, I have nev- er seen such unprecedented cuts that are so deep and impact so many,” said Sanchez. The Education Coalition- sponsored event was just one of many similar events held through- out California on “Wear Red for Ed” Tuesday as CTA members and supporters of public education, reeling from the unprecedented cuts, conducted news conferences, participated in rallies and march- es, and demonstrated at school board meetings to bring attention to the devastating impact that the loss of so many teachers and edu- cation support professionals will have on California’s students. “Teachers, like those here in San Bruno, are struggling to give students the time and assistance they need to learn, as class sizes soar due to state cuts,” said San- chez. “What kind of message are we sending to our students when we cram more and more of them into a classroom, or cut their music, arts and PE programs, take away their counselors, close the doors to their libraries, or re- duce their school year? Other- wise, we are shortchanging the future of the students in this room, and the futures of the 6.2 million K-12 students we serve.” Here’s a snapshot of events around the state. Union City In Alameda County, teachers, administrators and parents in the New Haven Unified School District conducted a 6:30 a.m. news conference March 15 in the Alvarado Middle School’s brand- new library — a facility that will close in the fall as part of $10 million in cuts if the governor’s budget plan and tax extensions are not approved and a May 3 parcel tax fails. The district has issued 60 pink slips. Speakers included CTA Board members and Bay Area teachers Eric Heins and Don Dawson; a pink-slipped kindergarten teach- er, Quyen Tran, who is six months pregnant; a high school librarian; and New Haven Teach- ers Association President Char- maine Kawaguchi. The Alvarado Middle School jazz band — also on the chop- ping block — performed at the news conference. Sacramento At the state Capitol, members of the Sacramento City Teachers LEFT: Concerned students, parents and CTA Board members joined the news conference at Portola Elementary in San Bruno. ABOVE: CTA President David A. San- chez announces the grim news at a March 15 San Bruno news conference that at least 19,000 California educators had received preliminary pink slips. That number is expected to rise. Association stood some two hours in the rain at a rally spon- sored by to “De- fend the Dream.” Teachers joined a crowd of labor and community organizations to protest the re- cent attacks on collective bar- gaining rights in Wisconsin and around the country, and to high- light the impact of federal and state budget cuts. In addition to sending out 400 pink slips to teachers, coun- selors and librarians, the Sacra- mento City Unified School Dis- trict approved a “worst-case sce- nario” budget just two weeks earlier, threatening to cut finan- cial support for sports, band, cheerleading, choir, drama, year- book and debate. The school board has also voted to increase class sizes in all grade levels. In all, the district is planning for a budget shortfall of $22.35 million. If the tax extensions that Gov. Jerry Brown proposes make MARCH 2011 | 33 CTA photo by Mike Myslinski Photo by Scott Buschman

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