Thousands to gather to protest California education cuts on 'Day of Action'

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Los Angeles teachers and parents join to protest school cuts outside the offices of the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009. in Los Angeles.

Thousands of teachers, parents, students and others are expected to gather today at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles and elsewhere to protest state and local cuts to education that could result in nearly 5,200 LAUSD employees losing their jobs.

The downtown rally and march to the nearby Ronald Reagan State Building is part of a statewide "Day of Action" that seeks to stop the governor and Legislature from cutting billions from a public school system already reeling from $17 billion in cuts over the past two years.

Rallies are also scheduled at UCLA, Cal State Northridge, Gladstone High School in Covina and Wilson High School in Long Beach.

"These are the largest cuts our students have seen since the Great Depression and they will hurt a generation of students, robbing them of the future they deserve," said David A. Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association.

"Now the governor is proposing $2.5 billion in additional cuts – and wants to renege on an agreement signed into law last summer to repay schools more than $11 billion they are owed," Sanchez said.

"It's time to stop the cuts, have everybody start paying their fair share and start changing the conversation about additional revenues for our public schools and California's future."

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education authorized sending layoff notices to nearly 5,200 employees, including teachers, administrators, counselors and nurses. The move is aimed at cutting into the district's anticipated $640 million budget deficit for the coming school year.

Today's mobilization kicks off with an early morning news conference at Farmdale Elementary School in Los Angeles, where speakers will include Sanchez and other union leaders.

Today, Sanchez said, will be "a day for all of us – parents, administrators, school board members, college faculty, education support professionals and teachers – to be united against the state budget cuts that are destroying a generation of students."

Much of the day's rhetoric is expected to target Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his proposed budget.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Mike Naples said education remains a top issue for the governor.

"In the face of a $20 million deficit, the governor is prioritizing education," Naples said in a statement. "His budget proposal fully funds K-14 education at the same levels as last year and his proposal also increases funding for higher education."

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