Having successfully advocated for and secured $6 million in annual funding from the City of Santa Monica for public schools, Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) is now turning its sights on the State Capitol.
Governor Arnold Shwarzenegger’s proposed education budget breaks his promise to restore Proposition 98 monies, provides inadequate funding overall and will force deep cuts in public schools statewide.
In collaboration with local PTAs and the California State PTA, CEPS is providing organizing support for “Caravan for Kids,” a two-day, statewide mobilization of parents and kids throughout the state to protest the budget.
PTAs held events statewide today, April 27, before boarding buses, planes and cars to converge on Sacramento for a rally on the Capitol steps tomorrow, April 28.
More than 50 Santa Monica and Malibu parents, students and community leaders joined today’s caravan, boarding a bus that left at 10:30 a.m. from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium parking lot for a noon rally downtown at Governor’s LA office in the Ronald Reagan State Office Building on South Spring Street.
Speaking at the rally were Scott Folsom, incoming PTA President, 10th District (LAUSD PTA); Patty Scripter, PTA Council President, Glendale; Sheri Osborne, Member, Northwest Valley PTA Council Volunteer of the Year; Maria Rodriguez, PTA Council President, Santa Monica-Malibu; and Denny Zane, CEPS member, PTA parent and Santa Monica activist.
“Years of funding cuts have forced schools to increase class sizes and let go of teachers, librarians, school nurses, and education programs vital to our children,” stated Shari Davis, CEPS co-chair. “California has some of the most overcrowded classrooms and the lowest number of librarians and counselors per student in the nation. Our kids deserve better than this.”
“California parents, from Eureka to San Diego, are motivated and mobilizing as never before to make sure our voices and those of our children are heard in Sacramento,” said California State PTA President Carla Niño. “We’ve been patient in the past, but this budget proposal is the last straw. It breaks a promise that parents and their kids were counting on. We will not sit back and watch the continued under-funding of our schools and the assault on Proposition 98.”
Proposition 98 is a Constitutional measure approved by California voters that guarantees a minimum funding level for schools.
CEPS has provided organizational, logistical and financial support to allow parents and students from throughout California to go to Sacramento and challenge the governor and legislators to “make California’s public schools great again.”
Supporters from Eureka, Red Bluff, Plumas and Lassen counties, as well as Chico in northern California, coastal cities and suburbs of the nine-county Bay Area down through Monterey and south to San Luis Obispo, the Central Valley communities of Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto to Fresno and Bakersfield, small towns to the east scattered across the Sierra Nevada mountains, and from Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties, the Inland Empire, and San Diego will join in the effort. They will all meet in Sacramento and rally at the Capitol Steps.
“We are grateful to our wonderful communities of Santa Monica and Malibu for showing, through their support of local funding measures and City support of public education, that they truly make education a top community concern,” stated Davis. “But local support can’t solve the problem. The only real solution to inadequate funding for our schools has to come out of Sacramento. While CEPS will remain vigilant locally, we must also be vigilant at the State level.”
“The role of PTA has changed dramatically in the past ten years,” Rodriguez said. “PTA has been forced into assuming an ever greater role in advocacy, local fundraising and public education. Ten years ago, we were raising funds for extras. Now we’re raising millions of dollars each year for basics that the state has stopped paying for. And on top of that we’re finding ourselves taking on leadership roles in passing local funding measures. But if we don’t let people know what is going on in our schools, who will?”
California State PTA Legislative Chair, Cecelia Mansfield “Thanks Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) for its organizational support for the Caravan for Kids. CEPS’ efforts have made California State PTA’s goal of giving parents and children a strong voice in Sacramento at this crucial time a reality.”
For more information and for parents interested in participating, visit www.caravanforkids.orgFor more information about CEPS visit www.excellentpublicschools.org.