Students, parents, union members, and members of the community gathered Wednesday night at the City College of San Francisco Mission Campus to speak out against cuts being made to education.
The town hall forum got underway around 7:20 p.m. and those who attended voiced their concern for justice, calling out against the recent and proposed budget cuts in education from kindergarten through graduate school. Some of those who attended also expressed hope for progressive taxation.
“Only in America do teachers get pink slips and big street bankers get bonuses,” said Chris Jackson, vice president of the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees.
Parents, faculty and students from all over San Francisco spoke out regarding how the budget cuts to California’s education system have individually affected them.
Jackson, an SF State alumnus, explained that while attending SF State he often had to sit on the floor in his women’s studies class and didn’t learn much as a result. “We have an entire generation of students and community folks that only know budget cuts. We don’t actually know what the times were like when we had money.”
The packed room often broke out in unity chanting slogans such as “up with the people, down with the budget cuts” and “tax the rich, not the poor.”
“It is unusual that parents and students will be united with workers and I am proud that is happening in San Francisco,” said District One Supervisor Eric Mar.
Mar showed his support Wednesday night and commended the community for coming together.
“I am proud because this is a multi-ethnic, cross-class alliance that is being built by staff and the organizers. I feel that something different is going to happen this year as opposed to the March 4 actions last year,” Mar said.
There are already events planned for the near future, so those affected by the budget cuts to California’s education system can continue to speak out and protest against them. A rally and protest will be held at the state capitol in Sacramento on Monday, March 14. It is being called the “March in March” and California Community Colleges, the CSU system and the UCs will unite to fight for education.
Wednesday, April 13 a day of “Class Action” will be taking place on campus at SF State and many other CSU campuses. This event is to save higher education and show how learning has been affected by the changes made to the budget for the CSU system.
“This is how we get justice. When people ask the big questions and we get the big answers. Without asking the big questions our democracy is in serious trouble, we have to fight back,” said Ramon Castellblanch, president of the California Faculty Association at SF State. “We are a campus that fights and we are going to fight for quality education.”
Those who attended Wednesday night left with optimism and a sense of unity hoping that their voices were heard. “When you get down to it every dollar you put into education puts four dollars back into the economy. The real vehicle for economic recovery is through education,” Jackson said. “It shows the kind of capitalistic system we have when that is allowed to happen.”