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Teachers rally to shield schools from budget cuts

Roseland University Prep Spanish teacher Silvia Langan grades schoolwork Tuesday in Old Courthouse Square, in Santa Rosa, during a Teach In organized by the Santa Rosa Teachers Association. CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/PD

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

High school Spanish teacher Silvia Langan pulled a composition book from a large plastic container Tuesday afternoon, preparing to grade the journal entries and essays as the wind flapped the pages.

“I do this every day in my classroom, so I decided to do it here,” the Roseland University Prep teacher said.

She was one of about 25 teachers who gathered in Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on Tuesday afternoon for a public demonstration of what teachers do after the final bell rings on campuses across California.

“People don’t realize how teachers work,” Langan said. “School ends at 3:15 p.m. but we work hours and hours correcting papers and preparing lesson plans.”

The teach-in was part of a statewide campaign spearheaded by the 325,000-member California Teachers Association to urge lawmakers to support tax extensions to lessen the impact of the state’s remaining $15.4 billion deficit — $4 billion of which likely would come from schools.

As part of the State of Emergency campaign, teachers have spent mornings in front of schools with signs urging parents to contact lawmakers regarding the budget impasses.

The Rohnert Park Cotati Educators Association is holding a forum tonight at Spreckels Performing Arts Center to highlight what teachers union President Stacie McGwier called “a constant state of loss and reorganization” caused by diminishing funding. On Friday, Windsor educators are planning a rally in Esposti Park.

“In our district, we lost our librarians, lost a number of teachers who were temporary, and our class sizes (have grown),” said Dan Evans, a Rincon Valley Middle School counselor and member of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association political action committee.

He called further cuts an impending “disaster” for education in California.

But Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, said the statewide protests are holding little sway with Republicans, who have so far successfully blocked Democrats’ bids to put the tax extensions on the ballot.

Conway pointed to the additional $2.5 billion in unanticipated tax revenue expected to flow into the state and said that unexpected funding should be directed to schools, but she said the tax extension proposal should be axed.

“I’m absolutely certain that extending the taxes is not the right way to go,” Conway told KMJ Radio on Tuesday.

“I think it’s false pretenses that we put out that these taxes are necessary,” she said. “I think we can do it and fund what is important to the taxpayers, live within our means for once, and fix the economy. That will grow the pie.”

“State government needs to live within its means,” she said.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to release a revised budget on Monday.

Local school districts are crafting budgets based on the presumption that per-pupil cuts will average about $350 next year. But with the $15 billion deficit remaining unsolved, lawmakers are contemplating taking another $4 billion from schools.

That could shoot the per-pupil cut to between $700 and $800, said Wade Roach, chief financial officer of the Cotati-Rohnert Park District.

“Honestly, there would be nothing left in our budget to cut if we went to $700 or $800,” he said. “We are using ($350) as our reality. If we learn something different at the end of this week, we’ll circle the wagons and figure out what we do about it.”

The base per-student funding for 2011-12 school year in Cotati-Rohnert Park is expected to be $4,857 after the $350 is cut out, Roach said.

In the Wright School District, the sizes of primary grade classes depend on the outcome of state budget negotiations, said Superintendent Casey D’Angelo. The district eliminated the equivalent of six full-time positions when they became open from retirements this spring.

To keep kindergarten-through-third-grade classes at an average ratio of 20 students to one teacher, D’Angelo said he would have to hire six new teachers. If state cuts go deeper than $350 per student, those hires won’t be made and class sizes in those grades will likely climb to 24 students per class.

“We obviously can’t wait until August to make that decision,” he said.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.





16 Responses to “Teachers rally to shield schools from budget cuts”

  1. GAJ says:

    Kim, from today’s Chronicle.

    The CTA is the enemy, clearly:

    “Teacher’s pets: A bill to allow school districts to use performance rather than seniority as a criterion for laying off teachers died an interesting death in committee this past week.

    The bill by state Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County), needed six votes to go forward. It got three – Huff’s and those of fellow Republicans Sam Blakeslee and Sharon Runner.

    Democrats Juan Vargas and Elaine Alquist voted “no” – with fellow Democrats Alan Lowenthal, Loni Hancock, Carol Liu, Joe Simitian and Curren Price taking a duck and not voting at all.

    California Teachers Association members packed the hearing room to voice their opposition. Not that they had to – a check of campaign records by the nonpartisan watchdog group MapLight.org shows that, collectively, Democrats on the committee received $176,200 from the two largest teachers unions since 2004.

    Republicans got zippo.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/14/Po821JG2SE.DTL#ixzz1MS7KlrGG

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. Kim says:

    Just when you think that you’re the only one who thinks government employee unions are wrong, now and again ya come upon some like minded people. Its nice to not be the lone soul!

    So Sanchez, the president of the CTA gets arrested along with some others in Sacramento. HOw much did that cost the taxpayers to have the police there, arrest them, process them and then have them go through the judical system? Proof that they care not about the taxpayer, only their personal agenda.

    It also fries my bacon each and every time I hear a CTA advertisement on the radio or TV. The advertisements are so very deceptive as they say one thing a mean another. I drives me nuts that people buy that stuff. How much does the CTA spend on such advertisements? IF they were TRUELY worried about the kids and not their own agenda, don’t ya think they’d put some of that extorted dues money back into schools? I have yet to hear of the CTA donating to ANY school. What (insert dirty word) hypocrits!

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  3. Common Sense says:

    This just proves that at least 6 people DO NOT CARE about anyone else but themselves. Special interest groups are NOT helping but are making this budget worst and bankrupting our State.

    Previous comment,

    I guess they don’t care about the other important services that we give to the people. It not like they are being picked on! All I ask is for them to decide who get less to increase their funding.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

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  4. CA Native says:

    get rid of the CTA and all public employee unions and you will see a dramatic change in the cost effectiveness of social services and public education. Run it like a business and make each employee and department accountable!

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  5. Social Dis-Ease says:

    Kay: I don’t know what kind of music you like…BUT YOU ROCK. Most all the social injustice discussed on this blog is from the same cause. AGENDA 21/ICLEI/Sustainable Development/Smart/Redevelopment.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  6. Kay Tokerud says:

    What happened to ending the $6 Billion/year drain of redevelopment? Abolishing redevelopment missed by only one vote so far. According to a recent State audit, redevelopment costs twice as much as the economic development it creates, thus 50% waste. Of course, the cities trying to keep this money have worked hard committing themselves to future spending on unnecessary projects. They don’t care that the schools will not have the funding they need to educate the students.

    What has redevelopment done for you lately? Lots of stacked and packed housing, except that many of these buildings are mostly vacant. Oops. Redevelopment fueled the building frenzy and is at least partly responsible for the severe crash of the housing market. Schools now have to take the brunt of these boondoggles. Vote out the redevelopment hounds from our cities so that financial sanity can be restored.

    Do you want, fire, police, schools, libraries, senior centers, pools, roads in good repair, or more mixed- use partially filled buildings that take 30 or more years of our property taxes to pay off the redevelopment subsidies? The debt of redevelopment is over $80 billion now. How are we going to pay all of this? The teacher’s Union should be working toward ending redevelopment and reclaiming that wasted money for the teachers and the schools.

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  7. Pearl Alquileres says:

    ABOLISH ALL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE UNIONS!

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  8. I know they’re separate budgets, but how many people from Sonoma County do we have in a Middle East war zone right now?

    Each of those pair of boots on the ground, according to recent White House estimates, costs US taxpayers $1 million dollars annually. A single soldier back out of Iraq or Afghanistan would more than pay ALL TWELVE of these teacher’s salaries (average $67,900).

    And which is more important to Sonoma’s and our nation’s future?

    Let’s back up and get our priorities straight. Education should be the last item on the chopping block.

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  9. CTA is focused on the wrong target says:

    Instead of campaigning for more taxes the CTA should be focused on consolidating all the little fiefdoms here in Sonoma County.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  10. Lucille says:

    As bad as all of the above is, it gets worse. A well respected teacher at a charter high school in Santa Rosa was given a pink slip and yet there is another teacher there, with some seniority, who is verbally abusive (quite horribly) to the kids in the class to the point that it’s obvious this teacher hates kids and doesn’t want to be there — yet knows he/she won’t get fired because of performance and credibility. The system is very seriously broken and they are deliberately dumbing down the kids today so that it can never be fixed. Cut it at the top, make the fundamental, necessary changes to get California and the US back on track. We are really quite laughable. Sad, isn’t it…

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  11. On To Truth & Justice says:

    This pathetic show of “we work too,” is amazing. Everyone who has a job these days is expected to work hard in most cases harder than ever before. And teachers get the summer off.

    California pays teachers more than anywhere else in the country and still they are unhappy. Why because the reality of budget cuts which will affect their salaries and pensions.

    Have the test scores improved? Are kids learning how to read, write, and do math? Not very well according to the reports. All of this is blamed on the celebrated diversity in our schools and on parents who don’t care.

    How about getting out of the political games and begin teaching the basics so the youth can get a job when they graduate and don’t have to take remedial reading and math at a community college?

    Public schools are very poorly organized and managed very badly. Hopefully those who were on strike yesterday are disciplined and your pay withheld.

    Striking during a school day to show how miserably you are treated just robs your students. It doesn’t help your cause.

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  12. No New Taxes until The Fat At The Top Is Cut says:

    When the PD reports that Scott Mahoney is leaving the Waugh School District in Petaluma (two schools, 900 students) to become Superintendent at Ross School District in Marin County (one school, 400 students) at an annual salary of $185,000 (plus a $600/month car allowance and health care that brings his overall annual compensation package to over $200,000) then the school system has zero credibility with me when it comes hat in hand. An annual compensation package in excess of $200,000 to run a 400 student school district sounds like white-collar crime to me. And then schools turn around and cry poor? Cut the fat at the top and then come and talk to me.

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  13. Common Sense says:

    If one were to do a little research regarding the past and most current published budgets (California Department of Finance), then one would discover that the largest expenditures by far are for Education K-12 and Higher Education, next in terms of expenditures would be the Health and Human Services Departments and then the Transportation and Housing Departments. It appears that at least at the state level, funding for these things has always taken priority and by a large margin (one can view past budgets also). Also, if you compare budgets over the last few years the expenditures on education don’t appear to be far less then prior years, and in fact appear greater for the most part. So, I really do have to wonder, is this really a revenue problem that requires a tax hike/adjustment or is it a problem of mis-spending the very large amount of our state income we budget for education? I admire teachers, but I’m suspicious of just how much of this is about them and thier students and how much of this is about the CTA and others higher up the chain not wanting to have to “re-organize” and do a little house cleaning. How does CTA justify spending millions on political ad campaigns, while claiming insufficient resources? Why not use that sway to garner public financial support for local schools.

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  14. Common Sense says:

    I guess they don’t care about the other important services that we give to the people. It not like they are being picked on! All I ask is for them to decide who get less to increase their funding.

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  15. Dan Delgado says:

    Courthouse Square was the wrong venue. They should have done it in front of the police dept. That’s where the money goes.

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  16. sheryl judge says:

    A whole 2 dozen? WOW!

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