Students Rally Against Governor's Proposed Education Cuts


Posted on 14 March 2011

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By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

A protest against Governor Brown's proposed $1.4 billion dollar budget cuts to the UC, CSU and Community College systems was held today on the west steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

The rally, numbering well into the thousands, consisted primarily of college students from the Los Angeles area but included students from all education levels. Official estimates by the California Highway Patrol representative Sean Kennedy have yet to be released. The rain-soaked protest, which followed an earlier march around the Capitol, was peaceful.

BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a coalition to defend affirmative action, integration and immigrant rights, was one of the organizers of the event and the first to call for a protest against the Governor's proposed cuts.  "The historic civil rights gains that have been won in California -- gains that have provided educational opportunities to millions over the last 50 years and have made California's higher education system a model for the world -- are now endangered," claims BAMN in its press release.

Yvette Felarca, a spokesperson for BAMN, described today's march and rally, "Overall, a huge success."  Felarca said crowd estimates for the march, which occurred before the rain began, at approximately 30,000.  "There were students from all sectors of education, from middle and elementary schools all the way to UC students," attending, Felarca told the California Progress Report.

Felarca claims "there is zero support" among today's protesters, "for the huge tax education cuts proposed by the Governor.  What we know is there's money in California, it's just a matter of where and how to get it.""  The most popular chants during the march were 'Tax the Rich,' and 'Tax the corporations,' Felarca told CPR.

Felarca believed most of today's protesters were not at the Capitol to pressure Republican lawmakers to support the Governor's June ballot tax initiatives, but instead to protest the governor's $1.4 billion dollar budget cuts to the State's education system, still reeling from last year's budget axe.  "Even if the tax proposals pass in June, we'll still be facing these proposed cuts," Felarca told CPR.

According to BAMN's press release, the event was intended "to defend California's promise of higher education for all."

Felarca told CPR that further protests are planned, and believes there is support to get "five hundred thousand protesters" to attend an event planned for sometime this spring.  "We definitely believe we need more actions like today's," Felarca told CPR.

Today's march and rally were co-sponsored by the California State Student Association and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges.

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Dan Aiello reports for the California Progress Report.

Remember a half century ago when California legislators supported the state's "Great Promise" to provide access to higher education for all? That promise gave thousands the ability to rise out of poverty. It was also responsible for high tech industries locating in the golden state with the promise of access to the highest educated workforce in the nation.

Now, when we're struggling to compete globally, when an educated workforce is needed for any government looking to draw business, our short sighted legislators would rather retain tax benefits for oil companies than support education.

We are doomed.

Probably. You can't go back, and the way forward doesn't look promising.
70 years ago, when the state ran a surplus, Earl Warren saved it for a rainy day. Eleven years ago, when the state ran a surplus, Sacramento spent it.
60 years ago, California was not so densely populated, nor was it the welfare state that it has become. There was no Federal Department of Education messing things up. Universities focused on research and teaching, not on social engineering. The University of California admission was based on grades and application tests. There was minimal, if any, financial aid that favored one student over another, and no need for such aid. Today, the Universities, with the help of the state and federal government, bail out the poor while screwing the middle class. 60 years ago the poor, the rich, and the middle class all had equal opportunity at, and with respect to, Cal. Not today. It would be no surprise if the middle class - the struggling taxpayers - weren't more than ready to "starve the beast."

The middle class- which you refer to as "the struggling taxpayers," have every reason to be fed up, but not with the poor, but rather with corporations like GE and Exxon, neither of which paid any Federal taxes last year according to Forbes magazine, because of tax breaks afforded them by GOP legislators. Middle class taxpayers should be outraged by the $10 billion dollars spent by our government every month to fund the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. Middle class taxpayers should be outraged by the tax credits given to corporations who outsource jobs overseas. And middle class taxpayers should be outraged at legislators who choose to cut access to higher education for their children and the children of the poor instead of taxing the extraction of oil from our state, both on and offshore. But why would the middle, or any, class believe in starving the beast when the truth is 'beast' is just a GOP political term for 'poor.' Starve the poor before first demanding corporations pay their fair share? That's ludicrous, as is pointing out California is a welfare state while proposing we cut the only access the poor have to rise out of a life of poverty.

Republican strategists in California are claiming proposed cuts to education and social programs as just a way to "starve the beast." GOP legislators at the Capitol have stated they believe the "struggling" middle class taxpayers are ready to starve the beast.

Sounds reasonable enough.

But isn't 'beast' some conservative spin doctor's euphemism for 'poor?' Starving the poor doesn't poll as well, I'm guessin,' but that's what it is.

Can we wait on starving the poor more until AFTER we've first asked corporations like Exxon and GE (which Forbes magazine claims paid zero federal taxes last year) to pay their fair share? And while we're at it, maybe we can ask our legislature to stop giving tax credits to corporations that outsource the very jobs that helped create the "struggling middle class" in the first place?

Just sayin'... it's kind of funny how conservative legislation turns a respectable "middle class" into a "struggling middle class," then claim to know the cure for what ails them!

Republican strategists in California are claiming proposed cuts to education and social programs as just a way to "starve the beast." GOP legislators at the Capitol have stated they believe the "struggling" middle class taxpayers are ready to starve the beast.

Sounds reasonable enough.

But isn't 'beast' some conservative spin doctor's euphemism for 'poor?' Starving the poor doesn't poll as well, I'm guessin,' but that's what it is.

Can we wait on starving the poor more until AFTER we've first asked corporations like Exxon and GE (which Forbes magazine claims paid zero federal taxes last year) to pay their fair share? And while we're at it, maybe we can ask our legislature to stop giving tax credits to corporations that outsource the very jobs that helped create the "struggling middle class" in the first place?

Just sayin'... it's kind of funny how conservative legislation turns a respectable "middle class" into a "struggling middle class," then claim to know the cure for what ails them!

That was before we had 3 million illegal immigrants that need to ne fed, clothed, educated, medicated and incarcerated. Now the taxpayers are fed up!!

The March for Higher Education on March 14th was organized by the California State Student Association and the Student Senate for Community Colleges. I am one of the organizers of the event, the last paragraph of the article reads that the "co-sponsors," SSCCC and CSSA are asking for donations to be sent to UEAALDF. This is not the case, although UEAALDF may be a noble cause, we have not endorsed or asked for donations to be sent to UEAALDF. Please correct the article. Thank you.

As long as we can still afford hand outs to illegal immigrants there is no need to extend tax extensions to us taxpayers. We can still do a lot of cutting.