It’s near the end of the school year and parents are exhausted. News of impending cuts to education has school booster clubs scrambling to raise money to help keep teachers who received pink slips this spring. Class size will likely go up and teachers will have to do even more with less and less.
“I think it’s sad that they keep cutting our future,” my friend Christina said to me Tuesday. “And children are our future.”
She should know. She has one child in a West LA public school and teaches at a drastically underfunded school in Inglewood. After a long day teaching and then volunteering to help with her school’s end-of-the-year play, she brought her 3- and 5-year old boys to the Federal Building in Westwood to join in the Educate Our State rally Tuesday afternoon.
The goal of the rally, one of 10 across California that day, was to send a strong message to state legislators, said Teri Levy, one of Educate Our State’s co-founders.
“We need funding that is predictable every year,” she told the gathering of about 150.
Educate Our State was formed by a group of parents who want high quality public education for every child in the state. They want parents to speak up and demand that California get its act together and stop cutting funding to schools.
Unless Gov. Jerry Brown can get an extension of the 2009 temporary tax hikes, schools are looking at a worse time than they had this past year, when the school year was cut and services reduced. California is already near the bottom in per pupil spending in the country.
I don’t understand why people aren’t taking to the streets in droves at the possibility of what could happen to public schools over the next few years. Thirteen teachers at my son’s school got pink slips this year. The school’s booster club pays for a P.E. teacher, art teacher, music teacher, librarian, and teachers aides. At schools without this powerful force of parents (mostly moms, of course), they go without. The booster club has been working around the clock to raise money, but it’s difficult to sustain that level of commitment year after year.
During the rally, writer and public radio host Sandra Tsing Loh led the crowd in her rewriting of the song "Proud Mary” called “Proud Mamas” with part of the chorus saying “burning 'bout the budget.”
But are we burning about the budget and the effect cuts will have on schools? Why weren’t there more parents at the rally at the Federal Building? Or at the rally held downtown two weeks ago? I know a rally at 4 p.m. on the Westside isn’t doable for a lot of people, but there are those who could have come, but didn’t.
As we stood on Wilshire holding up signs, another friend, Angelike, and I talked about parent apathy as the cars drove by the demonstration.
“What’s really sad is that people can’t even be bothered to honk,” she said.
She organized a demonstration at the school our kids go to a few weeks ago. Many parents picked up their kids and went home instead of picking up a sign and joining in the demonstration.
But now is the time. It’s time to fight for our public schools and show legislators that there is nothing more important than our children.
Parents, if we don’t stand up for our kids, who will?