Print this Article

CTA President Voluntarily Arrested

Thousands Rally at Capitol to Protest Education Cuts

May 19, 2011

Education stakeholder groups pressed their case in Sacramento last week, with daily rallies designed to put pressure on California legislators, urging them to approve limited extensions of three existing taxes, rather than make further reductions in state funding for California’s public schools.

In an attempt to create “visuals” that would drive home the contention that tens of thousands of teachers and other school employees have lost their jobs as a result of reduced state funding, some 400 folding chairs (with the number “100” taped on each chair) were arranged on the lawn outside the State Capitol, representing “the 40,000 educators (30,000 teachers and 10,000 support professionals) who have been laid off over the past three years due to the state budget crisis,” according to a statement from the California Teachers Association.

An estimated 14,000 people gathered for the final rally at the Capitol on Friday. At that event, statements were made by the leaders of multiple groups:

David A. Sanchez, CTA President:  “Our schools, our colleges and our communities are in a State of Emergency. This week we stood up for the millions of California students who are being robbed of their future and spoke out against the drastic budget cuts to public education and other essential services. Our students simply can't take any more cuts. It's not fair to them. It's not the future they deserve. And it's not the California we want for our families. It's time for lawmakers to finish their state budget work, approve the temporary tax extension and pass a state budget now that protects our kids and our communities.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson: “It’s time to recognize California’s teachers for the heroes they are – not the scapegoats that some politicians pretend. It’s time to recognize that our students are a treasure to serve – not pawns in a political game. And it’s time to realize that California can’t solve its problems by shortchanging teachers and selling our students short.”

Bob Wells, Association of California School Administrators Executive Director: “Our schools have been cut to the core, as evidenced by overcrowded classrooms, a lack of teachers, counselors and librarians, and the elimination of programs such as art, music and career training that once served millions of students. Revenue extensions are needed to reverse this downward spiral and to deliver the high quality education our students deserve.”

Jo A.S. Loss, President, California State PTA: “We need our representatives in Sacramento to understand that we must invest in our children today, to ensure a brighter future for all of us.”

Jeff Freitas, California Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer-elect: “We intend to make it known to local voters which legislators are failing to support public education. CFT calls upon the Legislature to approve the Governor’s tax extensions and a 1% surtax on the richest 1% of Californians. Students are not getting the support they need, while millionaires and billionaires are pocketing a $9 billion per year federal tax break.”

Julie Jackson, a library media technician at Esparto Unified School District and president of the local California School Employees Association chapter: “If these budget cuts continue, I fear that more school libraries will close, which breaks my heart.  I strongly believe students should have a book in their hands at all times, because the more they read, the better readers they become.”

Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation: “Budget cuts are devastating our communities and our families. Throughout the week, we’ve seen teachers join with workers from all walks of life to stand up and say 'enough.' The fight for a fair budget is a fight that affects every Californian. We're all in this together, and together we'll prevail.”

Ed Foglia, president of CTA-NEA Retired: “Stop scapegoating public schools, unions and pension systems for the fiscal mess our state is now in. We are not part of the problem. We are part of the solution.”

On Friday evening, CTA President David A. Sanchez and two dozen other CTA educators were voluntarily arrested at a meeting with Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.  Sanchez had gone to meet Dutton and Conway to discuss the Republican budget proposal, and refused to leave the Capitol until Dutton and Conway agreed to support the tax extensions proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. No such agreement was forthcoming from Dutton and Conway.

After his arrest, Sanchez told reporters, “Today, I took a stand for the millions of California students who are being robbed of their future. I refused to step aside while California’s public schools and colleges go without the vital resources they need. Our schools and colleges have been cut $20 billion in the past three years, and without action by California lawmakers, will endure another $4.1 in cuts next year. Enough is enough. Our students deserve better and our state can do better.”

Source:  Association of California School Administrators, California Teachers Association.