Saturday, April 12, 2008 - FOUR THOUSAND PARENTS from across the Los Angeles Unified School District rallied at the 12th Annual Parent Summit today at the L.A. Convention Center - and left with a single unified message: The budget cuts proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger are totally unacceptable.
"No cuts to education!" was the call - echoed with a heartfelt "¡Si se puede/Yes we can!" to calls for activism and resistance to the catastrophic budget reductions proposed in Sacramento.
Superintendent David Brewer addressed the crowd along with school board members and parent leaders from across the almost 700,000 student district.
His call to action was seconded by Congressman Xavier Becerra, who reminded the group that the governor and the legislature - and indeed he - are their employees and that the dictionary definition of 'constituent' is 'one who authorizes another to act as their agent'.
"Your agents are failing in Sacramento," Becerra said. "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 continued. "It must be about addressing needs by raising revenues." Becerra went on to question the leadership of any officials who would propose or vote to spend $7 billion for prison hospitals - and slash education $4.8 billion.
Keynote speaker George McKenna described the false alternative being posed in Sacramento 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 agreed, promising to take their message to their legislator's local offices and to Sacramento:
- Children did not cause this crisis, they cannot be expected to pay for it by sacrificing their futures.
- Parents are a special interest group.
- Our special interests are the six million schoolchildren in California and each and every one of them are our children.
The Parent Summit also featured workshops and breakout sessions on Special and Gifted Education, Parenting, Advocacy, Organizing PTAs, Student Health, Nutrition, Safety and other community concerns. The Parent Summit is a joint effort of all the constituent parent groups in LAUSD, including English Language Learners, Title One, Special and Gifted Education Parents and the two districts of the State PTA; organized and put on by the parents themselves.