Hundreds Protest Proposed Cuts to School Funding (CA)
May 10, 2010
About 600 people rallied in Balboa Park on Saturday to protest a state budget proposal to cut funding to schools.
The event, held at Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street, drew a range of concerned participants, including teachers, parents and children, many of whom chanted “No more cuts!” and carried signs urging citizens to voice their concerns directly to the Legislature.
The message wasn’t lost on the younger demonstrators.
“I think we have a lot of support,” said Darius Cade, 10, a fourth-grader from Birney Elementary School in University Heights. “I’m in school, too, and I’m a child and I need a good education.”
His mother, Vanessa Ward, used the rally to teach her son about activism, pointing to the history of the civil rights movement: “If you believe in something, you have to get out there and do something about it.”
Several youngsters in the crowd and onstage Saturday gave examples of what they are missing because of dwindling funds for public education.
A trio of 10th-grade s tudents — Louie Evans, 15, Estefania Velascquez, 15, and Shelbi Southgate, 16 — from the San Diego High Educational Complex School of Media, Visual and Performing Arts said they’ve lost many beloved teachers and haven’t been able to go on field trips.
“We barely even have paper in class,” Shelbi said.
The event attracted a number of political figures, including San Diego City Councilmen Todd Gloria and Tony Young, and Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego. It was organized by a coalition of activists called Educate for the Future.
Among them is Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School District board president, who asked people in the crowd to take out their cell phones and call Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“What this really is all about is choices,” Barrera said, adding that the state spends 10 times more money per year, on average, on prisons than on education.
It’s an issue that has personally stung Tinicia Smith. Smith, a physical education teacher at Horace Mann Middle School, received a layoff notice Friday.
Smith said the cuts have a particular impact on students who might lack stability at home and now are losing their teachers. It’s a message she hopes the rally will impress upon state legislators.
“I’m just hoping that they get the message,” Smith said.