Friday, February 5, 2010

March to save public schools

Join us on March 4 to save our schools!
Statewide Day of Action to Defend Public Education

San Francisco schools are facing $113 million in budget cuts over the next two years. All schools will see layoffs and class size increases. It's time to say enough is enough!

Thursday, March 4, 2010:
3pm - Parents, educators and students from southeast area schools meet at 24th and Mission
3:15 - March together from the Mission to the State Building at Van Ness and McAllister
4pm - Rally with UESF at the State Building (505 Van Ness), march to Civic Center
5pm - Mass rally in the Civic Center with pre-K through college level students, parents, educators, families from all over the city

Our message to Sacramento: Fully fund public education - reform the state budget process and Prop 13! Cut prison spending, not schools!
Our message to SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia and the Board of Education: Stand with educators and families! No Cuts! No Layoffs! Emergency Funding Now! Defend the Classroom!

Let us know if your school will be coming - or for more information:; 415-706-4004
Come to our next planning meeting: Monday, Feb. 8, 5 - 6 pm at San Francisco Community School, 125 Excelsior St. (one block up from Mission), 2nd floor.

Superintendent Garcia has announced an increase in K-3 class size to 25-30; a wage freeze and furloughs for all district employees; and other drastic measures to make up the State's $1,500 per student cut. The politicians and administrators say there is "no alternative" to the cuts. But if there's money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education? Why is California, the world's eighth largest economy, now at the very bottom of U.S. states in education spending? On March 4, students, teachers, workers and families from all levels of public education, pre-K through university, and all over our state will be walking out and taking action to say NO to budget cuts, class size increases, tuition increases, and privatization, and to demand adequate funding for public education, our human right. Please join us.


  1. Is there anything for parents not in the South East schools? I would love to participate...

  2. Oh, please come regardless of where your kid(s) go to school. 24th and Mission is a MUNI stop, so you don't have to drive, or just show up on the arrival end. There will be people from the UC, CSU and community college systems, the middle and high schools, and so on. It's not about the southeast schools, it's a state-wide day of action to protest CA's final blows in its 30-year destruction of public education K-16.

  3. This is a national day of protest, focused on California but with organizing and sympathetic protest nationwide. Anyone can and should get involved, whether through marching, letter writing, infomational picketing, etc. It's not just about southeast side schools, SFUSD, K-12 education: this is about our priorities in California.

  4. Good luck. Marches give participants the emotional benefit of feeling like they're taking action but whether they actually influence policy is dicey. Remember all those people who marched against the Iraq war before it started? As long as the anti-taxation people who worship at the temple of the private sector can stop reform, they will. You have to get those people out of government.

  5. Isn't there something more dramatic we can do? What if every family in CA sent a school photo of their kid(s) to the governor? It could be a postcard campaign. He'd get millions of postcards in the mail with people asking to think about their kid(s)' future when he's setting the budget.

    Or it could be with kids' artwork. Straight from the kids.

    Anybody out there good at starting viral campaigns?

  6. An increase in K-3 class size to 25-30?

    A wage freeze and furloughs for all district employees?

    Those both sound like reasonable actions to me.

  7. I agree - I think the march is important but might not have very much impact. I like the viral marketing idea but I am concerned that sending anything to the governor might be a waste of time.

    I would much rather see news stories that show that there is a strong movement underway to fund political enterprise X to fix CA's governance problem:

    1. Break the 2/3 majority for a budget
    2. Dismantle prop 13

    There is a theory that what we are going through now is a "starve the beast" process where we essentially starve our public entities to a breaking point.

    Only when we hit that breaking point will fundamental change occur.

  8. The press and opinion leaders have long repeated the line that Prop. 13 is the "third rail" and "untouchable."

    I believe that those claims are not true, but their constant repetition (which I think is mindless rather than some kind of plot) helps reinforce them. So they need to be corrected every time. Getting rid of that perception is really important to changing Prop. 13.

    First, we already know Prop. 13 is not untouchable, because Prop. 39 in 2000 dismantled a piece of it -- the 2/3 supermajority requirement for passing local school bonds, which was reduced to 55% (it should be 50%+1, but obviously 55% was still a significant improvement).

    Most people asked in polls if they approve of Prop. 13 do not know what it is. A leading pollster told me they show the respondents a brief description, but asking people their opinion when they have no information but that is simply not valid. (Only people who were born before June 1970 and who lived in California in June 1978 were here to vote on Prop. 13 -- that's a pretty small segment of the current population. And few outside that are versed in what it is.)

    Here's a step toward dismantling another piece, reducing the requirement passing a local parcel tax from 66 2/3 to 55%:

    Another step will be reducing the requirement for the state lege to pass the state budget from 2/3 to a simple majority. An additional step will be establishing a "split roll" -- eliminating Prop. 13 limits for corporations.

    I think that all efforts to demonstrate that the current generation of parents, voters and community leaders oppose the "you're on your own," "government is the problem, not the solution" philosophies that sparked Prop. 13 and that gained impetus from it have a cumulative effect, creating momentum for this change. Those philosophies have led to our current crisis; they've been fully discredited; we need to show that in every way possible.

  9. Agreed, Caroline, that those are some of the most important governance issues. It may make political sense to break them out and tackle them separately.

    To those who say the march will not be effective: I'm not one who loves to march, especially in SF--I've been to too many "preach to the choir," feel-good actions myself. If you only go to one in a few years, though, do consider this one. It is not only San Francisco this time, and not only K-12. It originated in the UC protests and will include actions all over the state for public education at all levels. There may be work stoppages involved too. There will be protests at UC and CSU and community college campuses as well soccer moms and kids marching in diverse locations all over the state. It will get press.

    No, it cannot be the only thing--it has to be combined with effective legislative and ballot box pressure, and behind-the-scenes pressure too. I believe there is a wave developing that includes a number of moderates as well as liberals who are appalled at the destruction of the public sector in our state, particularly of education; and who are appalled at the inability of our state government to function at all. Large and broad protests will not move things on their own, but they will help push the issue given that there are increasingly people with access to power who want to be pushed (that never was the case with GW Bush and Iraq).

  10. i'm really interested in this conversation. i'm not much of a marcher either, but i'm going to march this time because, personally, it will motivate me to join the dismantle-prop-13 effort for the long haul; it will energize me for that huge -- and necessary -- effort.

    i just read the new yorker piece about the origins of the UC protest (at cal, specifically). i was so moved. i highly recommend reading it. these people are the real deal. (as opposed to, say, the mostly soap-boxers who owned sproul plaza when i was at cal.)

    i am californian, born and raised, went to CA public schools my whole life (pre-prop 13), and attended two UCs (berkeley and davis). hell, my parents went to UCLA and my two sibs went to UCSB. we had a good thing going. how in christ did we let this happen under our noses? this is the end of business as usual, and, frankly, maybe that's a good thing.

    do you live here? then go to the march. think of it as your first step into the movement to save not just the schools, but california. she's worth it!

  11. How we let this happen would be an interesting study in a fall-of-Rome kind of situation.

    I think it was a combination: the people who started the fall were not going to be around to feel its full impact, though they have to have started noticing the increasingly potholed roads and other effects while they were still on this mortal coil. Prop. 13 was a creature not just of my mother's generation (b. 1927) but my grandparents', the generation in their 60s and 70s in 1978. Those who were its main constituency have gone to that great low-taxes-less-government haven in the sky.

    So, they short-sightedly left a cruel legacy for their great-grandchildren. Meanwhile, the impact on the rest of us has been like heating up the water one degree at a time. Or maybe it's an increasing series of crises that have a band-aid slapped on at the last minute, so the counterrevolution hasn't happened yet -- until now. But is it time?

    The appropriate response is to take up arms (laptops, iPhones, Facebook) and join the charge.

  12. You can talk all you want about repealing Prop. 13 and the two-thirds majority, (and I agree these things need to happen) but there's more to the story of why California is struggling to pay its bills:

  13. Oh, put a sock in it, 9:44, unless you are Native American.

  14. The claim that marching is simply a feel-good gesture is ridiculous. This protest will raise awareness. Many community members are not aware of how bad the cuts will be, especially if they don't have children in the schools. The long term effects of these cuts will be paid by every Californian, and everyone should advocate against them. It's also important for stakeholders to hear personal stories: cuts are ugly but not particularly emotional until they have a human component or an ancedote.

    These cuts are inequitable, too. Layoffs hit high-needs schools harder than other schools. High-needs schools will struggle more to meet the needs of their students in larger classes. These schools have no PTAs to tap for some level of funding. If we believe in social justice, there is a responsibility to advocate for those in need.

    Critically, California needs to have an open and honest debate about our public school system. If we want one, we need to fund it. If we don't, then no changes to Prop. 13 are necessary, and the Governor can pull as many tricks to starve Prop. 98 as he likes. The system we have now cannot continue forever. If nothing else, I hope these protests start that conversation.

    Not to mention: the proposed cuts are just that: proposed. The Governor didn't like the protests in 2005 and 2006 that much - if you'll remember, he suddenly got a lot more interested in paying back the Prop. 98 freeze.

  15. A previous generation, oppressed by increases on the property tax assessments on their skyrocketing home values, made their 1978 rallying cry: "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!"

    Seems like we can just dust off their old signs and use them today.

  16. The march from 24th and Mission to Civic Center is snowballing!
    Participating schools include Miraloma, SF Community, Monroe, Hillcrest, El Dorado, Fairmount, Moscone, Cesar Chavez, Longfellow, Daniel Webster, L. Flynn, Lafayette, San Miguel CDC, CCSF-Mission - and more daily!
    This is a historic moment in building a strong statewide campaign to repeal Prop 13.

    Join us!

    facebook group -