Day of the Teacher sees budget cut rallies across state
By Mike Myslinski
Like thousands of passionate educators across the state, Ashley Lucey celebrated California’s 26th annual Day of the Teacher on May 14 by carrying a picket sign to a boisterous protest rally to fight state budget cuts and teacher layoffs in public schools.
But for Lucey, 26, the protest was more personal, as the eighth-grade history teacher’s job is now history.
A first-year teacher in Redwood City in the Bay Area who comes from a family of educators, she is being laid off by the Redwood City School District. Still, she wanted to greet the CTA “Cuts Hurt” school bus at its stop at a shopping center in San Mateo County.
Parents, students and teachers greet the CTA bus in Redwood City.
“It was a great job,” she said of her Roy Cloud School position, “and a great way to make a difference in the lives of so many students. I wanted to come out and support my colleagues, and I wanted to send a message to the governor that the cuts to our schools are not fair.”
Her protest — part of a symbolic 40-mile picket line along El Camino Real in the Bay Area — was one of scores of Day of the Teacher demonstrations across the state that attracted media coverage and showed the power of union solidarity. The protests ranged from a “Rally in the Valley” in downtown Merced to a Burbank City Hall demonstration to huge gatherings and rallies in San Bernardino and San Diego. Everywhere, teachers mobilized against state budget cuts.
Along with Lucey at the bus tour stop in Redwood City were her mother, retired local teacher Jean Lucey, and her pregnant sister Taylor White, a teacher at Sequoia High School in Redwood City.
The bus was greeted by more than 200 teachers, students and parents as it arrived to great fanfare and waves of picket signs. CTA President David A. Sanchez disembarked to lead the crowd in a chant: “Cuts hurt! Stop the cuts!” He announced to the crowd the breaking news of the day — that the governor’s newly revised state budget plan would not require gutting Proposition 98, but that the plan still contained education cuts which total $4.3 billion.
“The governor’s decision to avoid suspension of Proposition 98, the minimum school funding law, is a step in the right direction,” Sanchez said later. “His proposed budget revision shows that the organizing by members, parents and community supporters since January is having an impact. But any cut to education hurts our students and schools — and let’s be clear, this revised budget proposal still cuts billions of dollars from public education.”
Sanchez criticized the governor’s May Revision spending plan for proposing to cut the state’s Class Size Reduction program, which means squeezing even more students into already overcrowded classrooms. It also cuts programs that target low-income students and those schools that need help the most. “With this budget plan, California continues to rank 46th in per-pupil funding and dead last in teachers, librarians and counselors per student,” said Sanchez.