In California, a faltering economy, a burst housing bubble and dwindling tax revenues are adding to a growing budget deficit that is projected to reach $18.9 billion in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. To combat the growing deficit, lawmakers have enacted sharp cuts across the state budget, including public education at all levels, from K-12 to the University of California.
School systems trying to fill budget gaps have employed stimulus money, furloughed employees, deferred hiring, cut enrollment and increased fees.
Over the last year, the fallout from funding cuts has spurred protests, from student, faculty and staff walkouts, to strikes, protests, riots and vandalism. On Berkeley’s campus, thousands of students, professors and employees staged a walkout in September. Two months later, on Nov. 20th, a group of about 40 students took over the second floor of Wheeler Hall, while several hundred students staged a sit-in outside of the building.
On March 4, parents, students, faculty, and school staffers throughout California are planning a statewide “day of action” to protest cuts to education funding. Organizers have planned events on campuses, at the state capitol, and in Oakland. The initial call for the day of action came from the California Coordinating Committee, a loose network of students and faculty from across California that met once last spring. Since then, the idea has spread and many education and labor groups across all campuses have taken up the call. The OUSD board approved a resolution to support the DoA at their Feb 10 meeting and have planned the days events in conjunction with the OEA (teacher’s union) and the other unions with members who work for the school district.
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