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Locals join protest of state cuts for schools
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Ken Johnson, president of the Manteca Educators Association, speaks on protecting public school funding at the “Black Thursday” rally held at Delta College. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

STOCKTON – Enough is enough.

That was the message delivered by speakers of the San Joaquin Education Coalition at Thursday’s candlelight vigil and rally at Delta College.

Included was a walk that took place along Stockton’s Miracle Mile consisting of students, parents, community groups, and other education stakeholders. They came together to mourn the loss of public education while calling attention to the devastating impact of budget cuts to education from the State of California.

Judiana Rojas and other members of the League of United Latin American Citizens club sported skeletal face paintings.

“This is a symbol of the death to education as we know it,” said the Delta College student. “(The state) continues to make cuts while taking away our classes.”

 Rick Wentworth, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools, told the large group gathered in front of Delta College that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting another $2.5 billion from schools and students.

That’s on top of the $17 billion already cut from education funding over the last two years.

Wentworth noted that if the governor’s proposal is passed, every California student in kindergarten through 12th- grade will be cut by a total of $2,500 per year.

“Now the governor has taken it one step further, and wants to renege on the July budget agreement he signed into law and the commitment to restore more than $11.2 billion to our students and schools, as required by Proposition 98, the constitutionally required minimum school funding guarantee.

“The Governor wants to retroactively cut last year’s funding to schools, breaking the deal and defaulting on yet another promise to California’s students,” he said in an earlier press release.

Ken Johnson, president of the Manteca Educators Association, also pointed out some figures regarding the state education.

He asked:

“California spends $2,400 less per student than the national average – Is that fair?”

“California ranks 46th in the nation in education spending – Is that fair?”

“Tuition at UC, state and community colleges increased over 30 percent – Is that fair?”

Johnson was one of several guest speakers at the event that called for their voices to be heard from here to Sacramento.

The rally was sponsored by California Teachers Association, American Federation of Teachers, California School Employees Association, Association of California School Administrators, and California School Board Association. The rally was calm compared to the other statewide “Day of Action” events.

Bobby Bivens, president of the local NAACP chapter, said protestors in Oakland stopped traffic along freeway.

“At Berkeley, classes couldn’t even be held (because of protestors),” he added.

Students protesting cuts at Davis reportedly caused a commotion by threatening to shut down Interstate 80 during the afternoon commute.

Johnson, meanwhile, indicated that about 50 members of MEA came out in support of public education.

Those taking part wore black to symbolize solidarity.

“The actions we take tonight are forced upon us by the politicians in Sacramento,” he said. “That’s why we need to act boldly and we must act now.

“For every day we wait or drag our feet, more pain will be felt, more dreams will be lost, and more opportunities will vanish.”

Johnson added that those at home can do their show of support by logging on to for an easy link in contacting their local legislators.