The Daily Breeze :: From wire services
4/13/2008 - About 4,000 parents whose children attend Los Angeles Unified schools rallied Saturday at the 12th annual Parent Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center to condemn budget cuts to education proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, organizers said.
The parents chanted "no cuts to education" and "si se puede" (yes we can).
LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer told the parents he also opposed the proposed cuts because they would affect the almost 700,000-student school district.
Schwarzenegger has said the cuts are necessary if the state is to reduce an $8- to $16-billion budget deficit without raising taxes.
"Your agents are failing in Sacramento," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D- Los Angeles. "In the end, parents and voters must take responsibility for having elected folks who do not send their kids to public schools and then expecting them to respect public education."
"It cannot be about just cutting the budget," he added. "It must be about addressing needs by raising revenues."
He questioned the leadership of any officials who would propose or vote to spend $7 billion for prison hospitals while slashing education funding by $4.8 billion.
Keynote speaker George McKenna, a former school principal at a Los Angeles preparatory school portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie "The George McKenna Story," described the proposed cuts to the education budget as a "Sophie's Choice," leaving parents, educators and school board members to
choose which children get an education and which are doomed to lives of ignorance.
"Which kids?" he asked. "Special Ed? English learners? Poor? Black? Brown?"
Parent leaders said they will take their message to their legislators' local offices and to Sacramento.
When announcing a proposed $141 billion state budget in January, Schwarzenegger cut the projected increase for virtually every state agency by 10 percent because of a then-projected $14.5 billion deficit caused by declining state tax revenue from the economic downturn.
The projected increase in the education budget was cut by $4.4 billion, or $2.4 billion less than the current fiscal year, said H.D. Palmer, deputy director the state Department of Finance.
On Feb. 20, the Legislative Analyst's Office issued an analysis of the 2008-2009 budget bill where the deficit was projected to be about $16 billion "primarily due to the continued deterioration of the state's revenue outlook."
The proposed cuts would mean the loss of $560 million for the Los Angeles Unified School District through 2008-09, equivalent to $946 per student, according to the California Teachers Association.
Schwarzenegger, during an appearance in Santa Monica last month, said the "out of whack" state budget necessitates cuts across the board, although he lamented the education reductions. He also said he hoped layoffs would be carried out only under a "worst-case scenario."
"We would not have to put the schools or the teachers or the entire education system through this agony, through the uncertainties, on this roller-coaster ride where everyone has to hold on for dear life, if we reformed the state budget system once and for all," Schwarzenegger said.
Schwarzenegger said he wants to overhaul the budget with the goal of creating a "rainy day fund" whenever there is a surplus to bail out the budget when there is a deficit.
The California Federation of Teachers has called for increasing taxes to avoid the cuts.
Meantime, the CTA is on a statewide "Cuts Hurt" bus tour to expose the impacts of the governor's proposed cuts. The six-week CTA bus tour of hard-hit schools began in Inglewood and is to end in Sacramento May 20.