Bay Area rallies denounce education cuts

March 12, 2008 12:52:38 PM PDT
Leading state lawmakers and educators are today holding not one, but two rallies in the Bay Area. They're protesting Governor Schwarzenegger's $5-billion dollar cut to education funding.

Around 100 people attended the first education rally at Peralta Elementary School -- more than a dozen Senate Democrats and school administrators led a discussion on the impending state budget cuts and solutions. Later today there will be a separate but similar rally in Santa Clara County.

The few hundred students at Peralta Elementary in Oakland are just a sampling of the state's public school children who will be affected by Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to cut $4.8 billion dollars from K-12 education funding.

"I think it's really outrageous to balance the budget on the backs of little children, and you know I have a child in this school and I'm a parent who can't afford private school, so I don't know what we'll do if the class size increases or the quality of education decreases," said Naomi Tucker, Peralta Elementary School parent.

In Alameda County for example, this level of state cuts would translate into a reduction of $637 dollars per student.

"If you take $24,000 dollars out of every classroom in California and lay off 8,000 teachers, which is what the governor's proposal would require, we are destroying public education," said St. Sen. Don Perata (D) Senate President.

State Senate President pro Tem Don Perata today joined local parents, teachers and education officials in Oakland to declare their commitment to do everything possible to protect education funding.

One idea he's already proposed is raising sales taxes by one percent. This would bring in $5-billion dollars, which would cover what Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing to cut from education. That's just one solution Perata is exploring.

"I'm looking at also changing the way we collect taxes. Maybe dropping the tax rate for personal tax rates and extending the sales tax to services and then dropping the overall rate," said Don Perata.

Both parents and politicians agree that if solutions for alternate revenue are not created soon, then second-rate education will eventually affect the rest of society, from social services to the job market.

Today's gathering is the fourth in a series that Senate Democrats are holding up and down the state to talk about the governor's impending education cuts.