By Bill Guy
National City Elementary Teachers Association members rally in South San Diego County.
“Call your legislators and the governor now and tell them to stand up for students by stopping the cuts and restoring funds to California’s future,” said CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett in a rallying cry echoed at March 4 events throughout Southern California. “Hundreds of thousands of students are suffering from the unprecedented cuts that are decimating California’s once nationally envied kindergarten-through-university public education system.”
Joining Doggett at a Huntington Beach rally and march featuring teachers and education supporters from the Ocean View, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach City, and Huntington Beach Union High School districts, CTA Board member Michael Stone told the crowd of several hundred, “Public education in California isn’t broken. It’s broke!”
Stone later commented, “On March 4, I saw local chapters that have seldom participated in CTA events get organized and stand alongside their communities to fight for public education.”
Activities took place all across Southern California. In Laguna Hills, Saddleback Valley Educators Association members demonstrated on all four corners of a busy intersection, accompanied by a rhythm band composed of four pink-slipped music teachers. “What’s happening to my colleagues is such a shame,” said SVEA Secretary Chrissy Smedberg, an English teacher at Trabuco Hills High School. “But even more important, what’s happening to the students we teach. California can do better than this.”
Members of Associated Calexico Teachers in Imperial County invited members of the community to join them at a Stand Up for Education rally in Calexico that featured music and guest speakers. ACT members also handed out fliers with information about the detrimental effects of education budget cuts to parents at each school site prior to the beginning of school.
“From Mexico to the Oregon border, and everything in between, supporters of public education throughout California are standing up to say that enough is enough! California cannot enact any more cuts to schools and yet claim to be providing a quality education for its students,” said CTA Board member Jim Groth in a live interview with San Diego’s FOX 5 news at a before-school rally at Helix Charter High School in La Mesa.
“It’s my hope that by raising the awareness of how harmful the cuts to education are,” said Helix Teachers Association President Ben Stone, “it will motivate the public to take action by calling their legislators to demand decent funding for public schools.”
Facing about 360 pink slips, Riverside City Teachers Association members rallied at several before-school demonstrations throughout the city, wearing black arm bands and carrying black and pink balloons and posters. CTA Board member Mikki Cichocki, former CTA President Barbara E. Kerr, and RCTA President Mark Lawrence participated at Pachappa Elementary, where four of the six teachers who have taught Cichocki’s daughter have received layoff notices. “There is nothing more important than a child, and standing up for our students on March 4 was just one way I could show my support for my daughter, her teachers and all the members I represent who are being harmed by the draconian education budget cuts enacted in this state,” said Cichocki.
Fontana Teachers Association members stood up for students at before-school rallies throughout the district, and prior to a meeting of the Fontana Unified school board meeting, FTA members hosted their second annual “Poor Man’s Dinner” of hot dogs and chips, wearing black to lament state education budget cuts.
In Palm Springs, educators, classified school employees, parents and community members participated in before-school protest rallies and passed out fliers to draw attention to education budget cuts. “Our students are paying the price,” said Palm Springs Teachers Association President Bev Bricker. “Quality public schools build strong communities. We have joined together to say our children deserve better. Investing in public education is the best investment we can make in their future.”