In the latest blast against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2005-06 budget proposals, Berkeley parents and students will be joining a statewide caravan to the state capitol in Sacramento Thursday to protest state education cuts. Buses will be leaving from Berkeley at 9:30 a.m. from the West Campus pool at the corner of Browning and Addison streets.
The local contingent for the “Caravan For Kids” is being organized by the Berkeley PTA Council in coordination with the Berkeley Unified School District, which has been distributing local leaflets for the event.
“We’ve been patient in the past, but this budget [proposal] is the last straw,” said California State PTA President Carla Niño in a prepared statement. “It breaks a promise that parents and their kids were counting on. We will not sit back and watch the continued underfunding of our schools and the assault on Proposition 98.”
Proposition 98 was the 1996 voter-passed California Constitutional amendment that was supposed to guarantee minimum levels of funding for California public schools. Last year, Schwarzenegger withheld $2 billion in Prop 98-mandated school funding with the promise that he would restore it in this year’s budget. Instead, the governor has moved to make much of the education budget cuts permanent.
Local caravan coordinator Cynthia Papermaster—a former Berkeley PTA Council President—said that a rally will be held on the steps of the state capitol at noon, and that “we are setting up appointments with State Senator Don Perata and State Assemblymember Loni Hancock” to be held afterwards.
Papermaster said that two buses have been chartered to attend the rally from Berkeley, and that reservations for seating can be arranged by calling her at (415) 393-8248 or or by writing to Cynthia_papermaster@yahoo.com.
She also said that middle and high school students, with the exception of seniors, will not be attending the Sacramento rally due to the STAR tests scheduled for the same day.
The statewide event is being jointly coordinated by the California State PTA and the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), a Santa Monica-based organization working to improve public schools.