California schools in crisis, Unions lead the fight back

Duane Campbell

by Duane Campbell

The financial crisis is hitting most of the nation’s public schools including those in most states- particularly California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida,  and others.   In California as of 2011, 30,000 teaches have already been laid  off as federal stimulus money runs out, and another 15,000 face possible lay offs depending upon what happens in the state budget conflict. More than 4.1 Billion $ has been cut from California school budgets in the last three years as a consequence of the national economic crisis and there will be at least a  $2.1B additional cut under the best case scenario.

State revenues for schools are in crisis around the nation.  School spending is expected to  bottom out  over the next two years as  states and districts run out of $100 billion in federal stimulus aid for education passed when Democrats controlled the Congress. The stimulus money saved about 368,000 school-related jobs during the 2009-2010 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Most school funding comes from the state and local levels.   Only about 11 % come from federal funds Continue reading

California Teachers Union begins “State of Emergency” campaign

David Sanchez in Sacramento

by Duane Campbell

Almost 800 teachers and their supporters rallied in Sacramento on Monday  and marched to the state capitol to demand that the legislature pass a budget that adequately funds the schools. Scores of protests, rallies, teacher sit-ins and grade-ins, and town halls are part of a statewide “State of Emergency” campaign week of actions  launched Monday by the California Teachers Association (NEA) CTA and a coalition of all of organized labor and parent supporters calling on the Legislature to extend current taxes now to avoid the catastrophe of an all-cuts budget.

David Sanchez in Sacramento

“We are living in a state of emergency,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Educators, parents and community leaders are fighting back against state budget cuts that are decimating our schools, public safety and health care services. To protect essential public services, the Legislature must finish the job of resolving the state budget crisis by extending current tax rates legislatively. Time is running out for our students and our communities.”David Sanchez in Sacramento

Educators are fed up with endless cuts and will be holding daily sit-ins at the Capitol building in Sacramento. In the past three years, K-12 and higher education have been cut by more than $20 billion. An all-cuts state budget would add another $4 billion in education cuts, the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst warns. CTA supported the governor’s call for a June special election to extend taxes, but Republican  lawmakers hijacked the process and blocked that vote. The time to protect the revenue we have is now.

Events this week will   show the impacts of budget cuts on students and our communities.  Rallies will be held in  5  California cities on Friday, culminating in a march on the capitol and a potential occupation of the California Capitol.

The campaign website is www.castateofemergency.com and features events planned statewide, along with blogs, videos and news coverage about cuts and the growing crisis in California.

What is similar to the occupations in Wisconsin and the demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana? Continue reading