Volume 46 Number 3
Events to include sit-in, rallies
Community College faculty are urged to join in a statewide week of action May 9-13 to demand that the Legislature approve a state budget that protects schools, colleges and essential public services from further cuts.
“The Legislature has not approved Gov. Brown’s balanced budget approach that mixes $12.5 billion in budget cuts with a $12.5 billion extension on temporary taxes. So now, it is up to us to show lawmakers we are serious. The people of California deserve a budget that will protect funding for education and public services,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel.
“That is why CTA and CCA have declared a ‘State of Emergency’ and urge educators to participate in an escalating series of events the week of May 9-13,” he said.
Set forth by CTA’s State Council of Education at its April meeting, the plan includes activities ranging from a weeklong sit-in at the State Capitol the State Capitol to a massive “Not business as usual” mobilization on Friday, May 13, in which educators will participate in large-scale regional regional rallies culminating in the release of the occupiers in the Capitol.
It’s anticipated that other groups will be participating in the rallies and events, including the statewide Education Coalition, nurses, firefighters, other labor unions, and faith and community groups.
The CCA board of directors and staff will work with CCA chapter leaders in developing activities on their campuses. Those “escalating” activities are likely to focus on calls and visits to Republican legislators in critical areas; walking neighborhoods; educating members and the community about tax fairness; and attending the rallies at the end of the week.
“You may not be able to do it all, but you should plan to do at least one activity,” Reel urged faculty.
If the temporary taxes are not extended, K-12 schools and community colleges would face another $4 to $5 billion in cuts. Reductions would include doubling of community college fees, elimination of all sports in community colleges, and reducing the number of CalGrants available to low-income students.
Since California community colleges are currently faced with $400 million in budget cuts, the failure by the Legislature to put the tax extensions on the ballot now means an $800 million budget hole.
Brown had been in months-long negotiations with the Legislature to put the tax extensions up for a vote by the public in a special election in June, but those negotiations broke now without any election date set. Although the Legislature agreed to the budget cuts, several key Republicans prevented the tax extensions from being put to a vote until the governor agreed to a changing list of demands – which he could not approve.
“It’s a devastating blow to community colleges and to our students,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “If we don’t find a solution, we are looking at denying access to more than 400,000 students. That’s unimaginable.”
California’s community colleges turned away 140,000 students during the last school year and it’s estimated that twice as many have been turned away this year.
Even now, almost half of the students who were able to enroll in the colleges reported they were unable to get the courses they needed because classes were full, according to a survey conducted by the Pearson Foundation. That’s twice the rate as the rest of the nation.
“It’s not only the students who are hurt by the continued erosion of funding for higher education,” said Jack Scott, chancellor of the California Community Colleges. “The state’s future economy is damaged, too. If just 2 percent more of California’s population earned an associate degree and 1 percent more earned a bachelor’s degree, the state’s economy would grow by $20 billion. We have to remember that funding for higher education in California is not a cost, but an investment.”
Students aren’t the only ones who will feel the impact of more extensive budget cuts. For the first time in many years, some community college instructors will face being laid off, just like their K-12 colleagues. (See inside story, Page 5).
Reel notes, “CTA’s Legal Department will assist chapters and all full-time faculty members who receive a RIF notice. “However, you must be a member before the district issues a RIF notice in order for CCA/CTA to represent you.”