Teachers, parents protest education cuts

June 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Schools throughout the state are bracing for painful, deep cuts. In Sacramento on Monday, lawmakers met to discuss the multi-billion dollar cut backs coming to public education. Parents and teachers were there to protest the plan.

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"There are a handful of cases where districts seem to be on the brink of insolvency," said one parent at a meeting before lawmakers.

There is no way to sugarcoat the devastating cuts California public schools may have to endure.

Parents lined up in droves at a Capitol hearing room to tell lawmakers their children's schools are already cut to the bone.

"We've lost music, drama, art and dance teachers. We've lost our middle school orchestra. We've lost our 5th grade band. We've eliminated our computer instructional assistant. We've lost all of our librarians," said parent Laura Kieffer of Pasadena.

Under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent budget revisions, K-12 education stands to lose $5.5 billion more through June of 2010; and another $5 billion in payments to schools would be delayed.

"It is like taking money from babies. In fact, it's taking money from my babies, and one of them is a disabled baby," said parent Gina Hale of Pittsburg. "So look at yourselves and how you feel now."

"Add to that, our district is now proposing taking away our health coverage for our families, retroactively to January 1st. Who'll come to teach the children?" said teacher Pixie Hayward Schickele of Richmond.

With declining tax revenues, state leaders have to revisit the budget. The governor says since voters last month turned down his propositions that involved borrowing, shifting funds and extending some tax hikes, the budget axe now must fall on core services.

"It's very tough. It's very tough, but under this crisis those are the kinds of decisions we have to make. We have been sent to Sacramento not only to lead in good times, but also in tough times. And these are the tough times right now," said the governor last Thursday.

Some parents urged lawmakers to raise taxes to prevent some of the cuts to education. However, it would be next to impossible to get the necessary handful of Republicans to agree to that.

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