Sunday, June 08, 2008

California Teachers Challenge Proposed Cuts

Teachers in Los Angeles taking part in a scheduled protest against proposed state budget cuts. They left their classrooms for an hour on Friday morning, then returned when the protest ended.

Published: June 7, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Tens of thousands of teachers formed picket lines outside nearly 900 schools here Friday morning to protest cuts to education financing proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to help close California’s projected $17 billion budget gap.

If passed, the cuts would reduce financing for Los Angeles schools by $340 million next year, said A. J. Duffy, president of United Teachers of Los Angeles, the local teachers union.

Mr. Duffy said the union, which represents 48,000 teachers, had announced plans for the hourlong protest more a month ago, allowing principals and teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest K-12 public school system, to work together to plan supervision of almost 700,000 students between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Substitute teachers and administrators from neighboring districts were brought in to sit with students in auditoriums, gymnasiums and on playgrounds, he said.

When the protest ended at 8:30 a.m., teachers reported to their classrooms for their regular duties. School district officials said they opposed the budget cuts, but denounced the protest as a disruption of the school day. The district failed to win a court injunction in early May to prevent teachers from leaving their classes to take part in the protest.

On Thursday night, Superintendent David Brewer sent an automated call to parents, notifying them of the protest and calling it “the wrong message” to send to legislators and to the community.

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