Local Protests Against Education Cuts Draw State Teacher Union's Biggest Guns

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is bringing its biggest guns to Orange County and nearby Long Beach this Thursday afternoon as part of the statewide "Start the Day for Students" action that is aimed at stopping "the governor and Legislature from cutting billions more from a public school system already reeling from $17 billion in cuts over the past two years and to tell lawmakers it's time to close corporate tax loopholes."

The 320,000-member state union--and affiliate of the 3.2 million-member strong National Education Association--claims that California handed out massive tax breaks to corporations and oil companies last year while cutting education spending to the bone. As a result, class sizes mushroomed, "critical" student programs were eliminated and tens of thousands of teachers received pink slips.

"Start the Day for Students" actions are taking place in Sacramento, Merced, Redding, Stockton, Georgetown, Cupertino, Monterey, Riverside, La Mesa, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area.

However, the Huntington Beach rally and march is the only demonstration scheduled to include CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett, who will join CTA Board of Directors member Michael Stone and local teachers and supporters from the Ocean View, Huntington Beach City and Huntington Beach Union High School districts.

They will meet in front of Ocean View High School at the corner of Gothard Street and Warner Avenue at 4 p.m. Thursday before marching to the corner of Warner and Beach Boulevard.

According to the CTA, supporters of the action include the West Orange County United Teachers Association union as well as unnamed school superintendents, school board members, administrators, PTA members and members of local classified staffs.

A few miles away, at the Wilson High School gymnasium in Long Beach, the Teachers Association of Long Beach holds its own protest rally at 4:15 p.m. Thursday that is also tied to "Start the Day for Students." Long Beach Unified School District is among the hardest hit by California budget cuts, as 650 district teachers have received pink slips.

Perhaps that sad fact explains why the Wilson High rally is drawing CTA President David A. Sanchez, who is scheduled to address the crowd.

"These are the largest cuts our students have seen since the Great Depression and they will hurt a generation of students, robbing them of the future they deserve," Sanchez says in a statement CTA released to announce details of each protest across the state.

"Now the governor is proposing $2.5 billion in additional cuts-and wants to renege on an agreement signed into law last summer to repay schools more than $11 billion they are owed," Sanchez continues. "It's time to stop the cuts, have everybody start paying their fair share and start changing the conversation about additional revenues for our public schools and California's future."

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