Educators Form Coalition to Fight Proposed Budget Cuts

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Schools administrators, labor unions, and parent groups from the Southland announced Tuesday that they've banded together to fight Governor Schwarzenegger's nearly $5 billion proposed cut to California's education budget. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified School Board President Monica Garcia said the proposed cuts would amount to a $460 million hit to her school district.

Monica Garcia: We are standing here together to say that our families and schools cannot take this kind of cut. We are standing here as advocates of over 700,000 children in LAUSD and over millions of children statewide.

Guzman-Lopez: Garcia spoke at an elementary school auditorium west of downtown L.A. with all her L.A. Unified school board colleagues, teachers' union officials, as well as educators from Whittier and Palos Verdes.

In previous lean years, says Ivan Pastrano of the California School Employees Association, the first jobs on the chopping block were those of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians.

Ivan Pastrano: This has resulted in deteriorating campuses, conditions over the past few decades, and yet we know students can't pay attention in class if they go to school and they're hungry, or if they can't even get to school 'cause there's no bus driver to take them that day.

Guzman-Lopez: Members of this education coalition say they haven't decided who to target as the bad guy. Leaders in the Democrat-controlled legislature are usually tight partners with teachers unions and school district administrators, and no one publicly criticized Governor Schwarzenegger.

The president of L.A. Unified's teachers union did say the state's fiscal woes could be solved by closing tax loopholes for wealthy Californians. Teachers and school administrators are all waiting for the Governor's revised budget proposal two months from now. That's when the high stakes negotiation begins.