By SHIKIRI HIGHTOWER
Hundreds rallied in Civic Center Plaza on Thursday night wearing pink to symbolize the pinks slips that 453 teachers across San Francisco received this week.
“Education rules save our schools,” the marchers chanted as they walked from Civic Center Secondary School to city hall.
“Mission schools are always hit the hardest,” said Mark Murray, who teaches at Horace Mann Middle School. “About one-third of our staff got pink slips, but hopefully with the rainy day fund they all won’t get laid off.”
Already, he said, cutbacks have affected supplies and equipment.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the San Francisco Unified School District should qualify for the full $23 million of the city’s rainy day fund. The fund was created in 2003 with the passage of Proposition G. It requires the city to save 5 percent of the city’s revenue during prosperous economic times.
The school district is eligible for up to 25 percent of the total fund if two conditions are met, one of which is significant teacher layoffs.
Miranda Hanrahan-Beach, a sixth grader at Aptos Middle School, said she regularly attends demonstrations with her mother, who teaches English composition at San Francisco State University. The 11-year-old said that more than just teachers are affected by the possible layoffs.
“Say 300 teachers lose their jobs. That isn’t as big as the thousands of students who are now not going to be qualified to find jobs later in life,” she said.
Next fall, Hanrahan-Beach wants to take Ms. Ripley’s seventh-grade English class and described the teacher as, “a wonderful person that has a fundamental niceness that shines through.”
That might not be an option now, as the English teacher is one of the hundreds who received a pink slip.
“Ms. Ripley is a good teacher and I want to be in her class,” said Hanrahan-Beach. “It’s upsetting because I feel like the whole reason she might be laid off is absurd.”
Miranda’s mother, Jennifer Beach, said that eight people including the principal got pink slips at Aptos Middle School. Antonio Mankini, who has been teaching at James Lick Middle School for three years, also got a pink slip.
“I got a pink slip, and I got one last year,” said Mankini, who last year was rehired after a few weeks.
“It’s a totally demoralizing process,” he said. “I’m here to ensure that our supervisors stand to the promise and release the rainy day funds to the teachers of San Francisco.”
Mankini said he thinks he will be teaching next year.
“Because I’m a highly qualified educator,” he said.
Hene Kelly, who taught at Marshall High School and Horace Mann Middle School in the Mission before she retired, also experienced being laid off.
“I was never the same after that,” said Kelly, who has been protesting ever since. “It’s a terribly debilitating thing. Many people look for some other type of job. I felt that I was worthless.”
Kelly, who taught for 40 years, remembered when times were better academically for California’s youth.
“When I first started teaching we were No. 1 one per pupil. Now we are 47th of all the states,” she said. “In one teacher’s lifetime that’s a terrible thing to see.”
Rose Curreri, who teaches reading recovery and instills early literacy, said she felt public schools needed to be funded, and that she and other teachers shouldn’t have to be out marching to keep their jobs.
“I taught hard today. I’m teaching children to read,” she said.