On October 24, 2009, more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the conference democratically voted, as its principal decision, to call for a statewide Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. Local actions took place at De Anza College, San Jose State University, and local high schools. The struggle and mobilization against budget cuts continues, and another statewide conference is planned for October 2010.
Below are personal accounts of how the budget cuts have devastated different students‘ campuses during the past semester and quarter:
At San Jose State University, the statewide $2 billion cut to higher education is having devastating effects. First and foremost we are facing a $41 million cut at San Jose State. We have had 26 furlough days imposed on our academic year. As if that were not bad enough, we are facing fee hikes costing us more than $10,000 per year. Layoffs are at the order or the day, resulting in families being left to their own luck and fewer classes available for the students. In short, we are paying a high price for a poor quality education. What we are seeing is that the state’s financial crisis is being balanced on the backs of students, faculty and campus workers.
In the De Anza/Foothill Community College District, we are expecting a $10.6 million deficit. The physical shape of our campus has been deteriorating since there are only four custodians left maintaining our campus of 25,000 students. In total, 42 positions are to be eliminated, which will leave only 3 people working in the Administration and Records Department. More than 500 hundred classes have been cut already, and more cuts across the board are planned for all departments. Last fall quarter, there were more than 3,000 people on the waiting list. This quarter, three Spanish classes have been combined into one. This results in an overcrowded classroom with people sitting on the floor and the instructor having to juggle three classes at the same time for the same pay. The tutoring center is also in serious lack of funds and cannot provide the same service it used to. EOPS, a program to help out low income students, students of color, and those who are the first one to go to college in their family, is at risk. At the rate we are going, our tuition will increase over the next six years to $60 dollars per unit. Due to budget cuts, even community colleges like ours have to deny those seeking higher education, and those who are able to afford it receive a poor education.
Student Demands: Repeal Proposition 13, Support AB 656, Stop the layoffs, Stop the privatization of education, Democratization and transparency of our schools (Instructor, student and campus worker control over the management of our schools)
Watch video footage of the May 4 De Anza Rally:
Video by Anne and Phil Pflager.