Teachers protest layoffs on "Pink Friday"

March 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of teachers across the Bay Area and California are protesting on what they are calling "Pink Slip Friday.'" Public schools, colleges and universities are looking at more than $11 billion in state budget cuts.

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California Superintendent of California schools Jack O'Connell tried to explain to a class of second graders why their teacher might not return next year.

"She'll be back here in September, we hope," O'Connell said.

Their teacher, Michelle Gianola was also having a hard time.

"You work really hard throughout the school year and you still have three months left to continue teaching with the same energy level you had in the beginning," Gianola said.

More than 26,000 California teachers received preliminary layoff notices, twice the number from last year.

The notices prompted rallies and marches throughout the bay area Friday, deemed "Pink Friday" by teachers.

But that is not to say they will not be rehired. San Francisco Unified School District expects to rescind all 506 layoff notices, after the mayor announced the city will release $23 million from its rainy day fund to help the district.

The San Jose Unified School District mailed out letters to 404 teachers and administrators.

"We got to let them go based on the process, what we really wish we could do is bring them all back, which has happened in the past, but it's never been this deep," Principal Nico Flores said.

O'Connell says federal dollars could save those jobs.

"I am hopeful the Obama economic stimulus package that he signed a couple of weeks ago will lead to many of these pink slips being rescinded," he said.

Still, the report released this morning showing the state facing a brand new, unexpected deficit, has O'Connell and teachers worried that this time, most of the layoffs will become permanent.

"It's hard to see an additional $8 billion added to the deficit side of the equation," O'Connell said.

"With the May revise, if all of a sudden the state receives less money, that means there will be getting less funding for education," San Jose Unified School District spokesperson Chris Funk said.

Which could mean hopes of rehiring some teachers will fade away.

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