By Bill Guy, Dina Martin, Mike Myslinski
CTA President David A. Sanchez kicks off the Day of the Teacher in a live television news interview in the Oakland studio of the KTVU "Mornings on 2" program.
On May 13, California Day of the Teacher, thousands of teachers across the state celebrated the day named in their honor with picnics and other fun events — but many also fanned out to protest loudly against drastic school cuts and layoffs and to raise support for the May 19 ballot measures.
CTA President David A. Sanchez kicked off the day with a live five-minute interview about school cuts and the special election for "Mornings on 2" on the Oakland Fox affiliate, KTVU.
Noting the Day of the Teacher theme — "California Teachers: Standing Up for a Better Tomorrow" — Sanchez said, "We can't have a better tomorrow if we ignore the funding crisis our schools face today."
CTA Vice President Dean Vogel stood at a busy intersection near Eastridge Mall in San Jose with nearly 150 educators from several Santa Clara County chapters. Near him, spread out in front of a gas station, was a row of 10 empty chairs with signs reading "California Day of the Former Teacher." Two TV stations covered Vogel and the protesters asking motorists to vote yes on Propositions 1A-1F.
Cars honked in support as teachers marched. The protest was the result of the hard work of Franklin-McKinley Education Association President Scott Shulimson, who wore a "Save Our Schools" T-shirt and praised his chapter's organizing chair Yvonne Tran for her efforts.
"We got the news out there, and we made a difference," Shulimson said.
In Alameda County, members of the San Lorenzo Education Association wore pink and red as they protested the San Lorenzo Unified School District's decision to lay off more than 70 teachers, including Samantha Terrasas, who had just been named the district's Outstanding First-Year Teacher. Another pink-slipped educator was San Lorenzo High School teacher Judy Smith.
"I'm totally devastated," Smith told the Hayward Daily Review newspaper. "I love San Lorenzo — the kids, the teachers, the community."
In nearby Contra Costa County, hundreds of Mt. Diablo Unified School District teachers and parents protested on Day of the Teacher in Concord, Walnut Creek and Bay Point and urged motorists to pass the statewide propositions and a local parcel tax (which also failed at the polls). The district issued more than 400 permanent pink slips to teachers.
In San Mateo County, teachers from San Carlos and Belmont gathered for phone banking for Props. 1A and 1B at the CTA offices in Foster City, and educators from all over Monterey County joined parents in a night of community phone banking in Salinas.
In Bakersfield, about 1,500 teachers celebrated Day of the Teacher in what has become a tradition for them, a picnic in Yokuts Park. But, in what has also become a rite of spring, the teachers seized the opportunity to talk about what further state budget cuts would do to schools. On their minds specifically this year was the need for voters to pass Propositions 1A-1F on the statewide May 19 ballot.
"I think if they fail, the state Legislature will essentially have to go back to the battle. They're not going to be at square one, but they're certainly going to have massive shortfalls they are going to have to deal with," Mitch Olson, president of the Kern High School Teachers Association, told a local TV station that had sent a crew to cover the event.
Teachers and parents also worked side by side at the Sacramento City Teachers Association, calling voters.
In Chico, educators from the Butte County Teachers Association, the Chico Unified Teachers Association and the Thermalito Teachers Association joined together to observe Day of the Teacher by phoning voters to urge them to vote yes on the ballot propositions. At the same time teachers were phone-banking, the Chico Unified School District announced that it would eliminate 135 full-time positions.
Association members in Southern California celebrated the day in a variety of ways that included both advocacy and recognition of their accomplishments.
Members from several locals demonstrated at rallies along highways and very visible public places. Members of Orange County's Tustin Educators Association lined up with signs at the intersections of Jamboree Road and Airport Avenue and Irvine Boulevard in Irvine, urging support of the ballot measures. And in north San Diego County, the Fallbrook Elementary Teachers Association coordinated a demonstration at a major shopping center, and members of the Oceanside Teachers Association and the Carlsbad Unified Teachers Association demonstrated near the intersections of State Highway 78 with Jefferson Street and El Camino Real in Oceanside. San Marcos Educators Association members demonstrated along Highway 78 in San Marcos.
More than 800 Murrieta Teachers Association members and their families celebrated Day of the Teacher at a local restaurant, as did members from the six local associations that form the South County Teachers United alliance in south San Diego County. Members of the Riverside City Teachers Association met in a local park to commemorate and enjoy the day.
The Riverside City Teachers Association held a teacher appreciation picnic at a local park the Saturday before Day of the Teacher. Nearly 200 people attended and enjoyed a barbecue lunch, face painting, craft-making and line dance lessons. Vendors were there, along with staff from a local gym who worked with the association during the Million Step Challenge. The picnic was also a celebration of all those members who participated in and completed the Million Step Challenge, a walking program that lasted 100 days. Many local businesses donated prizes for a raffle.
Members of the La Mesa-Spring Valley Teachers Association in east San Diego, in a show of solidarity with laid-off colleagues, chose to take funds that they normally use to mount a spring end-of-year celebration and use it instead to purchase gift cards for members of their association who received pink slips this year.
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