Contact: Dina Martin at 415-710-6794
BURLINGAME – Making two stops in the Central Valley today, the statewide California Teachers Association’s “Cuts Hurt” bus tour revealed local impacts in Fresno and Kern counties of the governor’s proposed $4.8 billion in state budget education funding cuts.
“In the Central Valley and up and down the state, we are sounding the alarm over the proposal to balance the state budget through across-the-board cuts alone,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 340,000-member CTA. “Schools in Fresno and Kern counties are facing teacher layoffs, program cuts and larger class sizes. With 14,000 teacher pink slips issued statewide, and 4,000 more for education support professionals and other school employees, we will continue speaking out. Providing a quality education for our students is the most important thing we can do to invest in their future.”
In Fresno County, Sanchez spoke at Addams Elementary, a high-poverty school in Fresno Unified, which is facing $35 million in cuts and the loss of scores of teaching “coaches” who assist their colleagues in literacy and math programs. Other funding cuts facing local districts include $8.7 million in Clovis Unified and $4.4 million in Central Unified. Cuts of $9 million in Madera Unified mean the loss of 85 teaching, administrative and support positions, which will swell some class sizes to 36 students.
The budget cuts in Fresno Unified hurt schools with lower-income students and only add to their hardships, said Larry Moore, president of the Fresno Teachers Association. “These are already some of the poorest schools in the state that are being hit, where 80 and 90 percent of our students qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunches. These cuts will be devastating to our students.”
In Kern County, Sanchez and pink-slipped teachers spoke out in the parking lot of the district office of Assembly Member Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, calling on the former educator and school superintendent to support public schools and oppose massive cuts. Some Kern High School District cuts are eliminating classes related to the area’s huge agricultural industry, said pink-slipped Arvin High School teacher Donald Mills, who teaches agricultural science courses. “It really hurts our community when you cut education programs that will help our students get the better-paying jobs in the agricultural industry,” Mills said.
The six-week CTA “Cuts Hurt” bus tour hit schools in Inglewood and Rialto April 7, and in Orange and San Diego counties April 17. The tour rolls on to Redding and Chico, May 5; the San Francisco Bay Area, May 14; and ends in Sacramento May 20. Follow the tour at www.cta.org.