By Dina Martin
At a Visalia news conference, teacher Dale Kennedy, a Republican, urges GOP leaders to approve tax extensions and pass a budget.
Fed up with stonewalling by GOP leaders and the failure of the Legislature to approve tax extensions, several Republican teachers from the Central Valley turned out on June 9 to urge their lawmakers to do the right thing for schools, students and California by approving tax extensions to prevent deeper cuts to education.
The teachers, all prominent in the Republican Party and active in CTA’s Republican Caucus, particularly took aim at two local Republican legislators during a news conference at the Visalia Adult School.
“I’ve been a Republican all my life, and I know that Republicans care about California and about our schools,” said Ron Edwards, chair of CTA’s Republican Caucus and a sixth-grade teacher at Cardozo Middle School in Stanislaus County. “That’s why we are calling on Assembly Member Connie Conway here in Visalia, state Senator Tom Berryhill representing my area, and other Republican legislators to get the job done: Approve the tax extensions and pass a budget. That’s the best thing we can do for our students.”
Several of the teachers recalled their own school days in California when schools were adequately funded, and asked that legislators continue the promise.
“When I attended California schools in the 1960s as a child, California ranked highly in the nation in per-pupil spending,” said Dale Kennedy, a sixth-grade teacher in the Kings Canyon Unified School District in Reedley. “Today, California ranks 43rd in the nation. As a state that is a leader of the technology industry, we need schools that produce highly qualified individuals to fill the workplace vacancies in the future.”
His daughter, Julie Kennedy, an intervention teacher who works with students in grades 2-8 at T.L. Reed School, also made a passionate plea to Republican lawmakers.
“My students are the reason why I support the tax extensions and May Revise of the state budget,” she said. “Without the funding that this would provide, my students won’t have an intervention teacher next year, and will be lost. I fear that the barriers to their success might be insurmountable. The growth that they have made this year won’t be matched. And the future of California itself will be bleaker.”
Visalia Unified Teachers Association President Karl Kildow urged his Assembly representative, Connie Conway, to join her colleagues in passing the tax extensions.
“Without them, California schools face further overcrowding, a decrease in the school year that is already one of the shortest in the industrialized world, and the laying off of even more teachers and other educators,” Kildow said. “It’s time for California to move forward.”