Volume 46, Number 4
Action ranges from rallies to sit-ins at the state Capitol
In an inspiring show of solidarity, higher ed faculty joined their colleagues in grades K-12 in a week of events in mid-May to demonstrate that California is in a “State of Emergency” when it comes to supporting public education and essential public services.
The week’s events included campus protests, news conferences, meetings with legislators, four major regional rallies and five days of demonstrations and sit-ins at the state Capitol building by nearly 500 educators. By the end of the week, some 30 educators including Theresa Montaño, CTA Board member representing higher education, and David Sanchez, then president of CTA, were arrested in an act of civil disobedience and spent the night in jail.
Montaño wasn’t the only one to take a stand for education at the Capitol. CCA Secretary DeWayne Sheaffer, a counselor at Long Beach City College and local chapter president, spent his week in the capitol building as well.
Can’t sit around
“We can’t sit around waiting for someone to save us,” Sheaffer said of his action. “We need to get active and explain to legislators what’s happening not only to K-12 schools but higher education, which is moving more toward privatization. Pretty soon it will be more like a privilege than a right to go to college.”
Community college and CSU faculty joined other educators, parents, students and public employees at rallies in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino.
Speaking at a rally at the Capitol on May 13, CCA President Ron Norton Reel told the crowd, “We must stand behind our community colleges because they stand behind us.
“When you are sick and need medical attention, did you know you turn to a nurse trained in a California community college 70 percent of the time? When we need a firefighter, police officer, or an emergency medical technician, did you know that 80 percent of the time that person was trained in a California community college?
“Yet, our community colleges are going to have to turn away over 400,000 students this fall because politicians won’t do their job. We must ask politicians to do their job so that we as educators can do ours,” he said.
The week was aptly named, because, as Sanchez said, “We are living in a state of emergency. Educators, parents and community leaders are fighting back against state budget cuts that are decimating our schools, public safety and health care services. To protect essential public services, the Legislature must finish the job of resolving the state budget crisis by extending current tax rates legislatively. Time is running out for our students and our communities.”
Both CCA and CTA supported the governor’s proposed state budget plan that called for more than $12 billion in cuts and a temporary extension of current taxes, which means no one would be paying more than they are now. CTA supported a June special election on the tax extensions, but some lawmakers hijacked the process and blocked that vote. The tax extensions must now be done legislatively because time is running out for our students and communities