Teachers, Parents, Students March Against Cuts
Passing drivers honked their support for several hundred teachers, parents and students who gathered at Roosevelt Middle School Tuesday afternoon. The crowd heard from Bill Freeman, president of the teachers' union, religious leaders, students and a mayoral candidate, Congressman Bob Filner, before they marched to the Board of Education offices to deliver a petition calling for more state funding for public education and to prevent teacher layoffs.
The rally was one of several May Day rallies across the city on Tuesday.
Freeman said he hopes the larger community will join the teachers union in its fight.
“Because we don’t think that this alone will get the attention of our elected officials and get them to do what's right," he said. "Because we know that they are choking the financial life out of public education.”
San Diego Unified has sent notices of possible layoffs to more than 1,600 teachers and nearly 1,000 other staff to close a $122 million budget gap for next year. Rick Budzynski, who teaches math, was protesting because of what those notices would mean for his classes.
“I spend my day today with 108 kids that come through the door because I’m a middle school teacher," he said. "Next year, with these supposed numbers, that’ll go up to approximately 160 kids through the door.”
Sharleen Clark works in one of San Diego Unified's Child Development Centers. She's worried that losing thousands of preschool seats to state funding cuts will be devastating now and in the future.
“The statistics show that kids who start out in preschool, less of them drop out later on in life. So, that’s a big deal,” she said.
Freeman said the teachers union is willing to fight along side the district for more funding. But they have not agreed to contract negotiations, which could also prevent some layoffs