Educators Rally Against Cuts

Anderson High School teacher Jeff Carr boiled it down to a simple resonating sentiment: “The cuts must stop!”

Carr described the fiscal storm brewing in Sacramento that threatens to further damage public education across the state and certainly impact the landscape in Shasta County.

“The cuts must stop!” he repeated, and the crowd of some 300 gathered at Redding City Hall to protest the cuts, joined in on the cry.

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Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Tom Armelino addresses the large rally crowd Wednesday.

The audience was an impressive cross section of teachers, administrators, school assistants, parents and students from throughout Shasta County. The event was spearheaded by the Shasta County Education Coalition, a grassroots group formed to oppose the cuts.

Following $36.5 million in state funding cuts to Shasta County schools over the past two years, the county is now facing an additional $5.9 million in cuts, as proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010-11 fiscal year budget.

The sun broke out for the afternoon rally, but a sense of urgency was palpable. School districts have issued layoff notices to 163 employees so far, which is translating to heavy losses in music, sports and art programs, library services, occupational classes, transportation services, classroom supplies and more.

Tenured teachers are being notified that they’re on the chopping block.

Wednesday’s rally included speeches by Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Tom Armelino, coalition and California Teachers Association member Cork McGowan, Shasta College President Gary Lewis, and several others.

“You don’t need me to tell you the stats, but believe me when I say I know these cuts will decimate public education in California,” Verdevale Elementary School third grade teacher Kathleen Haagenson said from the podium.

“The cuts have moved into our tenured employees … but students are the ultimate victims,” Enterprise School Board member Scott Swendiman said.

Added Grant Elementary School music teacher Jeanette Kyle: “I see 700 kids a week. These cuts mean these kids don’t get music anymore. It’s such a disservice to our kids.”

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The event drew a crowd of some 300 supporters.

Many of the speakers acknowledged the reality that the recession has distressed more than just the world of education, but they warned that deep cuts now could have far-reaching consequences.

“Our schools need ongoing stable revenues now more than ever,” superintendent Armelino said. “The proposed cuts to education in addition to the cuts we’ve already received will be catastrophic for Shasta County students. These cuts directly impact students in the classroom, whether it’s through an increase in class size, laying off teachers, classified employees, administrators and other staff. Our schools can no longer take these cuts.”

Wednesday’s rally was part of a statewide movement to draw attention to the proposed cuts. Rallies were planned across the state for Wednesday and today.

In addition to the large crowd gathered to hear the speakers, several supporters holding signs lined Cypress Avenue and heard car horns continually honking in support. Signs read such things as “Schools are not broken, they’re broke,” “Cuts hurt kids,” and “Quality education is a necessity, not a luxury.”

A flier distributed at the rally listed a variety of educational ills, including the stat that California ranks 46th nationally in per-pupil funding. More than 29,000 layoff notices have been sent to California educators this year.

Armelino and the other speakers urged action. The coalition is encouraging teachers, parents, students, school workers and others to contact Sen. Sam Aanestad and Assembly Member Jim Nielsen and urge for “no more cuts to education” and/or “we must have adequate funding to maintain high quality education — find a way.”

Senator Sam Aanestad

State Capitol, Room 3063

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 651-4004

Fax: (916) 445-7750

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Assembly Member Jim Nielsen

280 Hemsted Drive, Suite 110

Redding, CA 96002

Phone: 223-6300

Fax: 223-6737

Avatar
is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com
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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Cork McGowan says:

    Great article except the writer neglected to mention the much-appreciated "live music" that he provided prior to the beginning of the speeches! Thank you again for that!

  2. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Yes, speaking for my husband who is a retired teacher, it is a real shame that teachers are being laid off, thus making a real burden for those who remain, and bad for the students who may not get the education they so deserve. There is more than one reason why funds are short, and I'm sure many know what those are.

  3. Avatar Jim Dyar says:

    Full disclosure: I did play a few songs to kick the event off. So it was a combination performance/journalistic assignment I guess.
    By the way, missing from California's funding equation for public education is the question of Prop. 13, passed in 1978.
    A friend wrote to remind me of this today. Here were some of his thoughts:
    • Before Prop. 13, property taxes provided most school funding, and the state provided a minor portion. Prop. 13 reversed that formula. The state bailed out the schools.
    • Every state is a little bit different, but in most states, the school district (or the city, which in many states runs the schools) has the ability to set property tax rates. There's much more of a direct connection between taxation and services. In California, Prop. 13 sets the property tax rate, which is quite low.
    • Prop 13 totally altered how public services are funded in this state. Until someone is willing to address that, the system is gonna remain broken (and mostly broke)."

  4. Avatar Leslie E says:

    Nice article. Let's not forget the real victims of this condition are students. First students will not be offered courses that might keep them interested in school and the courses they will have will be crowded with VERY large numbers of students. However, I hear students becoming less focused on school – could it be if the government is less-concered about education the message to students today is education doesn't matter?

  5. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Don't forget that lottery money was supposed to go to education. That claim is the only reason the lottery became legal in California.