Calif. teachers wrap up week of protests

May 13, 2011 6:02:13 PM PDT
Teachers across California are wrapping-up five days of protests in a big way. On Friday, there was a massive demonstration at the Civic Center in San Francisco. All week, they have tried to focus the attention of the public and of lawmakers on the consequences of slashing the education budget.

Several thousand people attend a rally in Sacramento. There was a good mix of teachers, parents, and students, but at the end of this week of protests, there are no additional votes for tax extensions.

Friday's protest in several California cities capped off a week of statewide protests over education funding. Teachers are trying to pressure GOP lawmakers into supporting Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to extend a series of temporary tax hikes that are set to expire. Without the tax extensions, more layoffs, more kids per classroom, and a shorter school year might happen.

"If it allows us to talk to parents, to engage with the media, to engage with the community, and to bring attention to the plight of our students who are having their education robbed from them, then I think it's worth it," said David Goldberg, a teacher from Los Angeles.

The Wisconsin-style protests at the Capitol never materialized as teachers behaved during business hours, but after the building closed at 6:00 p.m., it was a different story.

CHP arrested more than two dozen teachers Thursday night, as they protested outside the offices of Republican leaders. Among those hauled away, was President of the California Teachers Union, David Sanchez. He and others spent the night in jail and were given a hero's welcome when they bonded out.

"I hope that somehow we can have the Assembly people listen to our needs," said Claire Merced, a teacher from San Francisco.

Despite the arrests, protests and other activities statewide, none of them changed Republican minds on extending taxes.

"I think the voters understand that yes, we are in budgetary hard times, and we value education, but throwing good money into a bad system is not the answer," said Jon Coupal from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

"What we accomplished was the opportunity to speak to the Legislature, send a strong message to our Republican colleagues that we need their support to get this funding done now," said Sanchez.

Republicans do believe in protecting education funding and have proposed giving the $2 billion of the tax windfall to public schools.


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