Castro Valley teachers speak out

March 2, 2009

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif.--Wearing all black to mourn the loss of public education, more than 125 teachers and parents rallied against budget cuts on the evening of February 25, easily dominating one of Castro Valley's busiest intersections.

Motorists greeted the action at Redwood Road and Castro Valley Boulevard with an unending stream of honks, thumbs-up and shouts of encouragement.

Turnout at this year's rally was three times larger than last year's event, and included classified staff and administrators. The community's response gave everyone a sense of optimism and confidence that sustained struggle can make a difference.

Due to California's new anti-worker state budget, public schools face an $8 billion reduction next school year. In Castro Valley, this translates to a loss of $5.1 million, which could impact approximately 7 percent of our staff. Increased class-sizes and the loss of at-risk counselors, custodians, bus drivers and music teachers would leave an unimaginable scar across a generation of youth.

Local television, radio and newspapers covered the event, allowing us to reach across the San Francisco Bay Area with our message that new revenues must be found in place of cuts.

In between chants of "Save our schools," teachers and parents discussed solutions to the budget crisis, such as repealing Proposition 13 or instituting a more progressive income tax in the state.

The rally comes on the heels of a black armband campaign of silent protest that built support for our action, and an organized phone banking to reach out to more educators in the Castro Valley Teachers Association than ever before.

Although regional protest actions are planned for "Pink Friday"--March 13, the day layoff notices are to be given to individuals--there has yet to be a call for a statewide march or job action by the California Teachers Association.

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