Calif. students hold sit-in

April 13, 2009

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif.--In response to sweeping cuts in Castro Valley schools, a small group of students and teachers held an overnight protest at Castro Valley High School that began April 6 evening and ended the next morning around 7 a.m.

California's new state budget will leave local school districts millions of dollars in the red. In response, Castro Valley has slated 25 teaching and counseling positions throughout the district for elimination. This is equivalent to 5 percent of the certificated staff.

The idea to hold an overnight sit-in sprang up during a conversation between Kristin, a junior, and the school principal. The principal readily agreed to the idea, and a faculty sponsor coordinated field trip forms for all interested students.

"I started by going around and telling my friends to tell their friends," said Kristin. "It started with one student with an idea, and mushroomed into 15 spending the night at school."

In addition to time spent for dinner, homework and ping-pong, the group of about 20 people stayed up late brainstorming next steps: A lunch-time rally to reach the student body, informational posters about the cuts, printing T-shirts, utilizing student government, and organizing a much larger overnight sit-in to correspond with California's "Day of the Teacher" on May 13.

As a gesture of support, the Castro Valley Teachers Association unanimously voted to pay for the protesters' dinner.

For the Bay Area, this is the first overnight high school protest in recent memory, attracting the local newspaper and sparking many conversations that could hopefully lead to a larger 'push back' against the cuts this spring.

As Kristin put it, "When young people stand up and say 'this isn't fair,' it says something to the legislature and the governor. It grabs media attention."

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