Teachers call for action on budget

September 5, 2008 1:28:58 PM PDT
Thousands of teachers around the bay and the state held protests on Friday over the lack of a state budget. Friday is the 67th day without any money to pay the state's bills and teachers say students are being affected.

Teachers, parents and education officials are mad, saying that the state is holding students and their public schools hostage, with no budget in place. They say it's becoming impossible to plan ahead for the academic year.

The ongoing delay of passing a state budget is affecting some Californians right down to the basics.

"For example, in my daughter's school, I hear her sneezing over here, they don't even have Kleenex or tissues for the kids to blow their noses, and the governor is proposing to cut further into our classrooms," said a San Francisco public school parent.

Parents of San Francisco public school students joined teachers and other education officials for one of hundreds of statewide protests on Friday to highlight the educational impacts of the state budget impasse.

"It shows to me a profound lack of leadership from the governor to our state legislators, and if our legislature cannot come up with a decision on our budget that really benefits and honors schools, then I don't know why they're there," said Frank Pugh, of Calif. School Board Association.

Upset about the delay, the California Teachers Association organized these "Day of Action" protests. Five were held at schools and district offices in the Bay Area, from San Francisco to Richmond, Walnut Creek, Fremont and San Jose. The teachers' concerns are plentiful.

"Whether they're going to have a job, whether they're going to have the same students, whether your schools are going to be reconfigured, whether your going to have to change class sizes," said Dean Vogel, VP of California Teachers Association.

Parent Rachel Norton says even young children are anxious about the ripple effect of budget cuts. That's why her 3rd grade daughter's class also took action.

"She and her classmates all wrote a letter to the governor saying, 'please don't give my teacher a pink slip. I need my teacher'," said Norton.

Education officials believe the state needs to blend both revenue and cuts to better balance the state budget. But they hope public education remains untouched.

They're asking all California residents to urge legislators pass a compromise budget, ideally the original budget conference committee proposal that restores more than $2-billion dollars of the governor's proposed $4.3 billion dollars in cuts to education.

In very simple sentences, educators are saying: get to work. Get a budget passed. Even the governor has been chiding both Democratic and Republican legislators urging them to pass a compromised budget.

The governor's office says that education dollars have not been cut in the latest compromised budget.


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