By Dina Martin
It’s only mid-September, but Kerry Castellani says she cannot keep enough “No on 32, Yes on 30” window clings on hand for members. The strategy committee chair for her chapter says the clings and the yard signs are going fast.
And members of the Modesto Teachers Association aren’t stopping there. On their Oct. 5 furlough day, they are staging a massive walk through Modesto neighborhoods to reach out to local voters. Joining them will be administrators, trustees, parents and community members.
“We have well over 200 teachers signed up to walk 130 precincts,” Castellani says.
The day will begin with a breakfast and news conference before the walkers fan out into the neighborhoods to distribute campaign fliers.
“We don’t always agree with the school district,” Castellani says, “but we do agree on Prop. 30. Our district will lose $13.2 million if Proposition 30 doesn’t pass.”
Modesto Unified has been hard hit with budget cuts over the past few years. Teachers are now taking seven furlough days, including five instruction days. A $13 million cut in 2009-10 resulted in the layoffs of 65 teachers, loss of sports and academic coaches, closure of school libraries and booming class sizes. Castellani teaches in the International Baccalaureate program at Modesto High School, where she has 39 students in an English class and 40 in her Theory of Knowledge course.
Wherever she visits, Castellani focuses the discussion on what has already happened in Modesto schools, and then veers into what could happen if Prop. 30 fails to pass.
“It would be ugly,” she says. “People realize they don’t want this to get worse.”
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