Themes in the News for the week of March 1-5, 2010 By UCLA IDEA Staff
03-05-2010 -- Calling for a fair and fully-funded public system of higher education, thousands of protestors across California’s colleges and universities vented their outrage at the cuts and fee hikes that are undermining education—kindergarten through college. Nationwide, at least 30 states witnessed similar protests (Washington Post).
Across California, many called for mobilization and civic engagement to continue after the March 4 “Day of Action.” "Protest is one of the best chances we have of restoring funding and (to) rescue the education system from crumbling," according to state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, who sits on the Senate Education Committee (San Jose Mercury News).
Echoing the sentiments of many of the protesters, UC Santa Cruz student Rafael Velazquez said, “'my whole family went to California public schools. I plan to be a teacher, but it’s not my job prospects I’m worried about. It’s the whole system'” (New York Times).
New blows to higher education come in the wake of Sacramento pulling about $1 billion from California universities (CNN), and cuts could continue as California faces a $20 billion budget shortfall (San Francisco Chronicle). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger commented this week “that he is making it a priority to find permanent funding sources for higher education in California” (San Francisco Chronicle).
The Legislative Analyst’s Office reports that Schwarzenegger’s plan would partly restore funding for colleges and universities, but further cut funding to K-12 education (Capitol Weekly), which is already reeling from deep cuts and massive teacher layoffs.
College and university classes are packed; faculty and staff contend with cut salaries and furlough days. California State University turned away all new students this semester, and more than 20,000 students will be denied admittance to community colleges next fall (San Francisco Chronicle). Also, higher education fees have spiked dramatically. At University of California campuses, the UC Regents approved a 32% fee increase in November (Sacramento Bee).
The protests yesterday also included K-12 education advocates. In downtown Los Angeles, students, staff and faculty from not only universities, but also high schools, converged on Pershing Square and then marched to a rally near the Ronald Reagan State Office Building. Some students at Oceana High School in Pacifica formed an "SOS" on a beach, while in San Francisco more than 50 Commodore Sloat Elementary fifth-graders boarded a Muni bus to the State Building (San Francisco Chronicle).
At the end of their long day of protest, marchers in San Francisco yelled out, "March 5! Don't stop the fight!" (Politics Daily). Speaking at a rally at the state capital, Senator Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, highlighted the importance of ongoing dialogue between young people and their representatives. "This should be the beginning of their advocacy throughout the budget process. More legislators and the governor need to heed their call"(San Jose Mercury News).