Education activists from Santa Monica and Malibu joined others from throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties to rally last Friday at the governor’s downtown Los Angeles office to protest the education cuts proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s for his fiscal year 2008-2009 budget.
Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who was on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s (SMMUSD) school board for 12 years and now chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, told the activists, “We’ve got a long haul on this budget to get to a place where we’re going to have a more balanced budget that represents the priorities of our ourselves, of our state, and puts education in the forefront.”
Brownley then mentioned that the governor, in his May revision to the budget, stated there is a $15.2 billion deficit and he plans to resolve the deficit without suspending Proposition 98, which guarantees baseline funding to California’s public school system. She then emphasized, “State revenues have gone way down” since January of this year so guaranteed funding to education has gone way down as well, while at the same time “the cost of living has gone way up.”
Scott Folsom, immediate past president of Los Angeles Tenth District PTA and a current Community Concerns Commissioner for the California State PTA, stated that the proposed cuts in the Governor’s May revision “are not as Draconian as previously and perversely threatened — but the cuts to children’s programs like foster care, medical and vision and dental health are probably worse. California is 47th in the nation in per pupil spending; we spend $1900 less than the national average per student.”
NPR commentator and Los Angeles Unified School District parent Sandra Tsing Loh told the demonstrators, “Wouldn’t it be great if 2008 marked the beginning of a new populist revolution in California – one that was about kids. Through them, California’s future can once again be golden.”
The SMMUSD had a very large group participate in the rally. Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council member Laura Rosenbaum told the Mirror, “We do have a lot of resources in Santa Monica and Malibu, and we’re lucky for that, but still these cuts due affect us and every dollar that doesn’t come to us affects our children.”
“I think it’s critical that parents show up in full force to protest these enormous budget cuts, because if the budget gets cut to such an extent now that’s the basis for the future,” stated Karen Gardner, who is a member of the PTSA at both Lincoln Middle School and Franklin Elementary School. She continued, the state “will cut from” where we go now again. ”These cuts are not conscionable.”
The PTSA President of Santa Monica High School, Judith Meister, told the Mirror she thought it was important to participate in the rally because we need the “governor to know this is no way to run the state budget, certainly not on the backs of our kids. He’s got to be a leader and needs to restructure the budget and raise the state’s revenues.”
Thousands of letters and messages regarding the budget were presented to the governor’s representatives at the conclusion of the rally.