Rallies to cap week of California teacher protests

AP News
Posted: May 13, 2011 4:27 PM
Rallies to cap week of California teacher protests

California teachers were wrapping up a week of protests over education funding with mass demonstrations in major cities statewide and a rally that organizers hope will draw 3,000 people to the state Capitol Friday evening.

Other mass gatherings are planned for San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, 27 teachers who were arrested Thursday night were being released from jail on Friday, including California Teachers Association President David Sanchez, who was detained after a peaceful protest.

Teachers converged on the Capitol this week to make their case for more schools funding. They are trying to pressure Republican lawmakers to support Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to extend a series of temporary increases in the sales, vehicle and income taxes. Without those, the governor has warned of deep cuts to public schools that could force thousands of teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and a shorter school year.

But Assembly Republicans countered with their own budget proposal this week in which they propose to spend about $2 billion from an unanticipated $2.5 billion in tax revenues on schools, which they say would leave them fully funded. Education lobbyists noted, however, that the GOP's budget plan would suspend a $450 million annual payment that funds programs in some of the state's neediest school districts.

Brown is scheduled to release on Monday his updated plan to close California's remaining $15.4 billion deficit. Republicans in the state Legislature have steadfastly opposed the tax extensions, denying him the two GOP votes he needed in each house to get his proposal on the ballot in June as he had hoped.

A group called Stand Up California, made up of university employees, home care workers and other activists representing health care, poverty and education groups also planned to take part in the rallies.

Thursday's arrests were the second this week. About 65 protesters, many of them students, were arrested Monday night after staging a sit-in at the Capitol after hours.

All were being charged with misdemeanor trespassing on state property.