Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hot topic: The March

Did you attend today's march? What were your impressions?

48 comments:

  1. We just got back - it really was inspiring. I was surprised to find so many people, and from so many different age levels and schools. I look forward to seeing pictures.

    SFGate only had UC Berkeley photos as of 6pm, but their protest was rather small compared to the much more newsworthy (to me!) thousands and thousands in SF.

    Our elementary school marched next to the SFSU puppeteers, which was really awesome. They put a lot of work into it, in a short time.

    Interesting discussions to be had with youngsters about "why are we doing this?" "Why is that person dressed as a skeleton?" etc.

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  2. We were there. We marched down Market street with a contingent that included parents, teachers, and children from Alvarado, Harvey Milk, McKinley, and Sanchez Elementary schools -- about 200 folks in all.

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  3. Where is the money going to come from? The rich? California already has the highest top marginal tax rate. At a certain point the affluent will start walking. Repeal Prop 13? I like this idea but good luck. From other services like prisons, the poor, the elderly, parks?
    Everyone has to tighten their belts.

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  4. I joined some friends in the march from 24th and Mission to the Civic Center. It was fun, but of course what matters is whether -- in conjunction with marches statewide and nationwide -- it has any impact.

    Regarding Prop. 13 -- repealing it in so many words is not going to happen. But it can and will be dismantled piece by piece. One piece was removed 10 years ago, when Prop. 39 in 2000 cut the former required 2/3 supermajority for passing a local bond measure down to 55% -- that 2/3 requirement was part of Prop. 13. It's high time other parts are removed too, including all the other 2/3 supermajorities required by Prop. 13.

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  5. The state will never get it. The last large scale auto manufacturing plant in the state just closed and the representatives still wanted to blame the company and point out their recall mistakes. Clear and simple, this is just not a good state to do business in. I'm hoping this serves to wake the state up a bit.

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  6. Lots of news vans. Good mix of people of all ages but a majority of college students. Overall the crowd more mild-mannered than I'd expected; the police stayed on the sidelines and looked relaxed.

    Several people spoke from the platform set up across the street from City Hall. Each was mercifully short and they kept things moving.

    People on stage and in the crowd did a reasonably good job of staying on topic and not hijacking the event for their own issues.

    My favorite sign: "GUVERNOR PLEEZE EDUKATE MEE"

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  7. I find the "Funding Our Future" organizers to exemplify the hypocrisy that surrounds our school funding crisis.

    They organize a meeting, drag in public officials and worried parents in, only to push for a parcel tax increase. A parcel tax is not a proportional tax and will not generate sufficient revenue to fix the more challenged schools in the city.

    They don't breathe a work about a change to prop 19 and yet howl about funding curbs on their school, Sherman, which is in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the country.

    Most of the organizers are sitting on $500,000 plus increases in the equity of their homes. Yet, do they pay property tax on this? NOOO!

    They actually have the nerve to press for a parcel tax increase, rather than just sucking it in, which is what most of us will have to do.

    I suggest they get of their high priced derriers, stop complaining, and stop unloading the cost of their overpriced homes on the rest of us (most of whom don't have $500,000 equity increases OR access to a good public school.)

    The hypocrisy of this "funding the future" initiative really sickens me.

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  8. I agree that a parcel tax does not fix the problem, but blaming these ladies who are just trying to do something good makes no sense. They are not reponsible for Prop 13 The only thing they did wrong is live in a nice neighborhood. The shame. Your point of view seems more driven by envy than any genuine rightheous indignation.

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  9. I recommend going to the local union headquarters and protesting there. The union members are the people who are getting the money that should go to education instead.

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  10. I am really tired of people picking on Sherman in this context! I do not have my kid there, nor do I live anywhere near it, but the fact is that these are people with kids in a PUBLIC school, which does not get any more money from the state than the rest of the schools, and they are making a huge effort to improve their own school, as well as to drum up support for public schools overall. Power too them, and "thank you" from this public school parent. The parents at Sherman are probably from all over town, given how the system STILL works, and even if they were to live in a $6,000,000 house (unlikely in public in this city, but you never know) then they chose public, and that is benefiting other kids as well as their own. It seems to me that getting off their derriers, high priced or not, is exactly what they HAVE been doing.

    You have no idea how they would vote on repealing prop 19. Personally we would probably end up paying considerably more tax on our house if it were to be repealed, and I am ALL for it.

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  11. > but the fact is that these are
    > people with kids in a PUBLIC
    > school, which does not get any
    > more money from the state than
    > the rest of the schools,

    The school is in a part of the city that is not accessible to many disadvantaged families. It does not have the demographic challenges that a school in the Mission or Excelsior would have.

    > and they are making a huge
    > effort to improve their own
    > school,

    Good for them. There putting in a huge effort to improve their own situation.

    > as well as to drum up support
    > for public schools overall.

    Again, they're putting in a huge effort to ask for a parcel tax which is a tax that is not adjusted for home value. It is in essence an unfair tax.

    > The parents at Sherman are
    > probably from all over town,

    No, the key organizers of the "Funding our Future" campaign live close to the school.

    > even if they were to live in a
    > $6,000,000 house (unlikely in
    > public in this city, but you
    > never know) then they chose
    > public, and that is benefiting
    > other kids as well as their own.

    Apparently, they don't want to benefit too many "other kids" because they seem violently opposed to class size increases. Let's be real here. It is not going to hurt these middle class kids if their class sizes go from 22 to 26.

    > It seems to me that getting off > their derriers, high priced or
    > not, is exactly what they HAVE
    > been doing.

    Yes, to ask for a parcel tax, not a change to prop. 13.

    > You have no idea how they would > vote on repealing prop 19.

    No. But it is interesting that they are pressing so vehemently for a parcel tax increase and again, not a mention of a change to prop. 13.

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  12. I went to the march at the Civic Center & it was Awesome--thousands of people from schoolkids to college students demonstrating peacefully for public education.

    Monroe Elementary schoolkids also marched this morning through the Excelsior & it was also great. Really empowering for the kids, since working-class neighborhoods & schools are especially hard-hit by the poor economy.

    re: 7.28 (I thought anonymous posts weren't allowed anymore?). There's also a movement to start an oil tax in California, which is the only major oil-producing state in the US that doesn't have one (Texas does, why not us?) There are other creative solutions being pursued that will try to shift the taxation burden to corporations as well.

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  13. Yeah!!

    "There are other creative solutions being pursued that will try to shift the taxation burden to corporations as well."

    Shift all our taxes onto corporations. Great idea. They we won't have jobs or the tax revenues derived from those jobs.

    Yeah! We can just tax ourselves into oblivion.

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  14. Many are pressing for a parcel tax since that is seen as the most feasible move for now. It would not mean that they would be against changes to prop 13. Who CARES where these people live!? Sherman actually has the same amount of kids on free lunch as Harvey Milk (a fine school, but not a trophy, and with plenty of kids from the Mission) according to the SFUSD web site (%35.5), and are you proposing that most of them come from swanky pads in the neighborhood?? I am aware that this is lower than the city average, but it is also higher than at a lot of other schools that you seem to want to group Sherman in with. In fact, Sherman is a relatively recent success story. (Clarendon, Miraloma, Lilienthal and Grattan have 7, 10.7, 12.5 and 16 % free lunch respectively. Rooftop, Sloat, Lawton, Lafayette, Argonne, West portal, and probably others, fall in the 20-something range. Sherman is not in that category in terms of its school population)

    Everyone who is engaged in public schools in this city spend a lot of time trying to improve THEIR school. Not all do as much for the rest of them. I bet that if these were Harvey Milk parents, living in or near that neighborhood (which ain't cheap by the way), no one would be complaining. You are going to have to get the chip off your shoulder. The goal is precisely to get everyone involved in fighting for public schools, the more resourceful (by all definitions) the better for all our kids.

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  15. "Everyone who is engaged in public schools in this city spend a lot of time trying to improve THEIR school. Not all do as much for the rest of them. I bet that if these were Harvey Milk parents, living in or near that neighborhood (which ain't cheap by the way), no one would be complaining. You are going to have to get the chip off your shoulder. The goal is precisely to get everyone involved in fighting for public schools, the more resourceful (by all definitions) the better for all our kids."

    Yes. The only feasible and fair way to do that is to repeal prop 13.

    So why don't we get on with that?

    And by the way, a parcel tax increase will not pass. Bay Area tax payers have been polled on this matter recently. It would be very difficult to pass a parcel tax increase of even as little as $50. So why waste everyone's time in a misguided effort?

    Voter's are clearly not in the mood to vote for any kind of tax increase. This morning, I heard even Jerry Brown promising that he would not impose any new tax increases if elected governor. And he is going to battle to win against Meg Whitman.

    Again, this idea of passing a parcel tax is unfair, unproductive and out of touch with the electorate.

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  16. I find the comments about the 'Sherman' moms upsetting on so many levels. Whoever made the comment - how much have YOU done to generate awareness of a 30 year old problem and gotten anyone to take notice?

    These women took the initiative and should be applauded - and we should all join them.

    And remember --- there is an achievement gap in EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL IN SFUSD. Like hundreds of parents around the city, these parents helped generate awareness about a great schooll in the city that many in that neighborhood wouldn't even take a look at 5 years ago.

    The nasty sentiment here shows no good deed goes unpunished.

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  17. "The nasty sentiment here shows no good deed goes unpunished."

    Pointing out that lobbying for a parcel tax is unfair, unproductive and out of touch with the electorate has nothing to do with being "nasty."

    Anyway, nasty or not, a parcel tax increase will not pass in this city in the next several years.

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  18. The only thing guaranteed to pass in SF are laws benefiting renters and getting money from those eeeevil homeowners (many of whom I might add are under water on their homes, not sitting on $500k in equity, hello!).

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  19. How about taxing families that send their kids to private school? I consider private schools a luxury so think of it as a luxury tax.

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  20. 12:42 AM:

    Quite wasting your time. I'm sorry your angry about the fact that the state has lost the base of its corporate wealth and can no longer properly fund public schools.

    It is not as if any of us are not aware of the problem. It is not as if we all haven't been angry about the problem of poor public schools.

    However, private school parents are not the source of the lack of funding for public schools.

    Anyway, go ahead. Pick your favorite scapegoat: private schools.

    It is simply not constructive to dream away about fantasy sources of revenue for beleagured public schools.

    Public schools have always been funded by taxing the middle class. When the middle class have high paying jobs, schools win.

    In California, we do not have

    1. a middle class large enough to support the number of students who need education.

    2. a fair property tax structure (due to prop 19)

    3. a fair income tax structure (due to bush tax reductions on capital gains on the wealthy and due to people earning income that they do not pay tax on.)

    Until these problems are addressed, our public schools will continue to be amoung the worst in the nation.

    No parcel tax, no gas tax, no tax on private school parents can begin to scratch the surface of the breadth and capacity of an enabled and willing tax paying middle class.

    Massachusetts has this. They have the best schools in the nation.

    And if you think you are going to tax the wealthy, be prepared for an exodus of the business class, along with the tax revenue they generate, to Massachusetts and other states like it.

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  21. correction:

    2. a fair property tax structure (due to prop 13)

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  22. God, who are all these horrible trolls? The hot topic was the march, not "your pet peeves about public school, private school, parcel taxes, and corporate well-being."

    The march. Actually, I went alone, and spent the first 15 minutes or feeling weepy and strange. It was inspiring to see so many kids, parents, people of all races and social classes (well, OK, not too many Pacific Heights white folk, but you know what I mean). But I couldn't help feeling a sense of deep shame for this stupid, stupid state and its misguided priorities. My favorite sign, held by a teenager: "California: where the sign shines and the kids can't read." What I wanted to write on a sign wouldn't fit: "Hey governator, why don't you just storm the classrooms, chop up the desks, pour kerosene everywhere, and light a match? That'll teach 'em!"

    it would cost $32 per taxpayer per year to restore the UC system to full funding; I imagine even less for the K-12 system. Yet the anti-tax trolls would rather watch the classrooms burn.

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  23. You do NOT need an education in SF. Bus drivers are pulling up in their Benz's because they make an average of $140k a year with FREE pension free health care free time off for sick leave or personal days free vacation. Ralphie is moving up in the world and is neighbors with the Jeffersons now.

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  24. I am definitely NOT voting for yet another parcel tax. If the state screws up its funding then it has to learn to fix it before I keep adding to the hole. SFUSD administrative offices better be on the chopping block before I agree to add another penny. If they want to keep raising taxes on me, I'll be more than house my business in Nevada.

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  25. California spent $11,626 per pupil all local, state and national revenues included.

    Here's the link to the Legislative Analyst's Office with that info-

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis_2008/education/ed_anl08006.aspx

    So why is the weighted student formula budget for the average student less than $5000 next year and only slightly over $5000 this year?

    The education bureaucracy eats this money like a dog chewing through Johnny's homework.

    This is one of the main reasons why voters do not want more taxes. Unfortunately we cannot wait to fix the system while students go underfunded, whatever the reason. But we should start.

    Don't just demand more taxes, but ask that we clean up government inefficiency,too.

    The only way to do that is to untether all the state mandates and let districts spend as they individually require. This was already done to some relatively small extent with Tier III categorical programs. Unfortunately, SFUSD opted not to take advantage of that opportunity. And that is the local cause of our class size increases, despite the budget cuts. Millions were made available to be repurposed for essential services, but we neglected to reconsider the budget last June.

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  26. I'll continue to vote "No" for every school measure until San Francisco adopts a pure neighborhood school assignment system.

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  27. It's totally not true that the Sherman Elementary parents who organized the FUnding our Future event haven't mentioned changing Prop. 13. They are actively promoting the Lakoff initiative and the Local Control of Local Classrooms initiative, each of which would correct a destructive and anti-democratic law imposed by Prop. 13.

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  28. 10:23, how can you think a move to repeal Prop. 13 would succeed but a local parcel tax wouldn't? That so flies in the face of political wisdom (and, frankly, reality) that I'm just curious what your thinking is.

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  29. I was at both the Feb. 25 meeting to discuss solutions, and yesterday's march (with my husband, cousin, and my two small kids). There was EXTENSIVE discussion of Prop 13 at the large Funding Our Future meeting and anyone who thinks it was focused exclusively on the parcel tax clearly was not at the meeting. I give huge kudos to the six Sherman moms who made enough people take notice of SFUSD funding that nearly 1000 people attended that meeting, along with Newsom, Garcia, Kim, Yee, Ma, Ammiano, Leno and others. It was very clear there that the main problem is on the state level, not the city level, and that a parcel tax would only provide some relief.

    I'm glad I took my kids to the march (a pre-K'er in the current lottery, and a toddler). I didn't find the speakers to be particularly inspiring but they were pretty decent and mostly stayed on topic. What was most important about the march was just being there -- adding to the numbers so that more people take notice of this issue. I bet most people w/o kids in CA have no idea that we are 47th in per-pupil funding, and poised to slip lower.

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  30. Info from last Wednesday's principal meeting.

    1. There will be no transfer of students for class size purposes, only the ordinary transfers.

    2. Teachers get a $3,900 wages and benefits increase next year, despite the economic woes.

    3. The $4,950 per pupil spending is actual only $2700 to the school site per student. So out of the $11,700 in total per pupil allocations schools get just $2700 of it to educate.

    4. Despite the turmoil and the need for SSCs to budget, the union has not agreed to ANYTHING yet. They control the district.

    FYI - SFUSD is the only major district that has an administrative union (AFL-CIO).

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  31. Anonymous @8:43,

    I cannot promise you a neighborhood schools system, but I can tell you that very soon you will be hearing about the efforts to do just that. I cannot say more now, except that concurrent choice would remain in effect.

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  32. I was stuck in traffic in the City as a result of the March. Note the best way to persuade people to adopt your position is NOT intentionally blowing up rush hour traffic.

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  33. Caroline,

    The FundingOurFuture website has been changed.

    It no longer indicates that the primary objective of the group is to push for an SF parcel tax to fund education.

    Glad to see they got the message about how unpopular and ineffective a parcel tax increase would be.


    Their objectives as now stated sound more plausible.

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  34. Layoff lists have been sent to all administrators as of today. I don't have the details but it's a lot of cuts.

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  35. I think it's time for the district to explain where the other $9,000 goes.

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  36. Elementary school kids from Starr King marched with parents, almost all of our teachers, principal, and other staff - 3.5 miles from the school to the 24th Street BART and then all the way to Civic Center. While marching down 24th Street, we marched alongside (on opposite sides of the street) students, teachers, staff, and parents from Flynn, then eventually alongside Horace Mann Middle School. It was inspiring and I was proud of our school and the larger SF public school community. But I agree, I was also saddened to think of how these idealistic kids probably don't know how unlikely it is that our march will make a difference.

    And I agree with those defending the parents from Sherman. If they only cared about their own school, they wouldn't be trying to organize a city-wide effort to respond.

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  37. Note to Don:

    California spent $11,626 per pupil all local, state and national revenues included.

    The source you cite is from 2008 (which means it was probably 2007 numbers.)

    While I get your point - where is the difference? - it'd help to compare apples to apples as the amount per pupil SFUSD has been getting has declined each year since 2007/2008.

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  38. Don---

    Again, can you update the $11,700 to this year? You are citing a number that is 2+ years old and we all know the state has cut per pupil funding each year since then.

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  39. I realize a parcel tax isn't a slam dunk by any stretch, but do wonder how the heck anyone thinks we're going to close the gap?

    Unlike Gov. Arnold, make it up with cuts to 'inefficiencies' isn't going to do what it takes (even if we could erase the SFUSD central office.)

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  40. Why aren't we taxing oil producers like Texas does?

    Why not push for the 1% tax on entertainment tickets that Leno advocated for at the Town Hall? (In essence, 10 cents out of every 10 dollar movie ticket would go to arts education.)

    We're going to need a combination of short term and long-term tactics to solve this one.

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  41. Why weren't there any private school educators or parents marching in solidarity?

    Do they only care about educating their own?

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  42. "Why weren't there any private school educators or parents marching in solidarity?"

    Who says there wasn't? And why are you trying to start a flame war?

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  43. Per pupil funding is always calculated retroactively due to the way that California finances education retroactively.

    Given that the legislature used all kinds of accounting tricks to make the numbers to avoid rescinding Prop 98, it is difficult to say. Tier 3 Categorical programs took a 20% hit for sure. But that makes up a small percentage of total funding. I would guestimate that it is not down more than 15% at most. The fact that California did not get the Race To The Top grant doesn't help, but it was only a fraction anyway.

    The point I'm making is about the huge disparity between revenue raised and what filters down to the classroom.

    As long as there is a perception that the bureaucracy is eating the dollars we will be swimming upstream trying to pass taxes. That's why I said any call for revenue increases should be coupled with waste reduction. That is probably harder to do than raising taxes. Every one of those multi billion dollar categorical programs has a lobby to keep them in place and they are the least efficient of all the funding streams.

    BTW you don't need to ask the same question twice. I appreciated it the first time. Sorry I cannot give you a more current figure.

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  44. 2:03, I agree with what you are saying about the parcel tax (alongside attempts to dismantle Prop 13 piece by piece).

    Just also wanted to say as a middle school parent that I have come to appreciate that much of what is called central office funding is actual site funding paid from central funds, for staff positions such as custodians (sure need those with hundreds of middle schoolers running around); counselors--very, very important at middle school for all kinds of stuff....I am amazed at how my daughter's counselor knows her name and those of all her friends; music teachers for 4th/5th graders; and I could go on.

    Sure, there is waste at the central level. But remember that not all is based at 555 Franklin. I think I would also suggest that it is good to have administrative staffing even at much-maligned 555 Franklin Street, to process payroll for teachers, to keep accounts, and hopefully to lead in the person of Supt Garcia. And by the way, he is miles better than the guy they had two supes ago (Rojas). Miles and miles and miles.

    Okay, my 2 cents.

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  45. I'm at a K-8 school, and our counselor's salary comes out of our site budget, not from the central office. Are 6-8 schools different?

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  46. 6:22 -- I think that is correct, but perhaps a current site council rep for a 6-8 school or teacher can comment as to current practice.

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  47. At the principals meeting it was also announced that some layoff notices were going out to teachers with 5-8 years in the district. That is a lot different (and a lot more people) than what the district has been saying, or what they asked for at the last Board meeting.

    There was also some talk of UESF refusing to negotiate for furlough days for class size reductions. If it were that simple, I think the district would be publicizing it more widely, since small classes are popular. I don't think either side is negotiating with the interests of students, teachers and school communities in mind.

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  48. It was thrilling to march with my kids (ages 4 and 6) all the way from Starr King Elementary (which will have an additional 40 students next year and $112K less than this year to spend on them if the cuts go through)! Our school had a great turnout, and so did many other elementary schools, including Flynn and Monroe with whom we marched. Unfortunately, most of us had to get our kids home, bathed, fed, and in bed after walking 3 miles (homework had to take the night off since we were busy trying to save education) and weren't able to hang out at the rally for long. I was very disappointed that the media seemed to emphasize college students--again! While I agree with the college students and support everyone's right to a great education that doesn't have them paying off loans for decades, student protests in Berkeley are hardly big news. The fact that people were marching with their preschoolers, kindergarteners, and babes in arms is a bigger deal, I think.

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