In an attempt to stave off a huge projected budget deficit this year, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the grotesque Republican governor of California, has proposed a $4.8 billion cut in education funds.
This was the governor who decided (unsuccessfully) to go after those well-known parasites of society, hospital nurses, and who has now targeted teachers and their support staff.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 200 hundred teachers and administrators from the United Educators of San Francisco (click here for their nifty website) met in front of the California PUC building at the corner of McAllister and Van Ness, wearing pink to symbolize "no pink slips," which quite a few of the teachers have already received.
Though the PUC building has nothing to do with education, its headquarters does have a huge state seal above its stairway entrance that is great for photo-ops. Plus, the intersection gets lots of traffic and is perfect for a protest.
As the math teacher Matthew Hubbard writes at his "Lotsa 'Splainin 2 Do" blog (click here for the whole thing):
"Schwarzenegger says he's pro-education. Hell, so does Bush, and we know what a load of crap that is. Fees will rise, fees that were just reinstated to earlier levels, and students will take less classes, and less classes will be offered."
The protest itself was fairly jolly and featured a couple of teachers performing witty songs about the situation atop a flatbed truck that had been parked on Van Ness in front of the building.
Then there were the mostly dreary speeches, punctuated by the hypocrisy of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (above), who is facing his own budget shortfall this year.
Much like Schwarzenegger, Mr. Newsom is cutting funds for those who most need it such as public health workers, while increasing the budget for what he considers necessities, such as six-figure aides to help him in his quest for the governor's seat, multi-million dollar wheelchair ramps in the Board of Supervisors chambers, and ridiculous, graft-ridden climate change initiatives.
Still, he was promising the protestors a one-time $30 million reinstatement of money from a municipal "rainy day fund" to replace the $40+ million in cuts that are being proposed by the state for San Francisco. He also made sure the crowd knew that he was disagreeing with Schwarzenegger "respectfully."
I was heartened by the homeless looking guy standing next to me who, after Newsom crowed about everything looking up for San Francisco's schools in every which way, heckled him, "That's because you're driving all the poor kids out of town."
There was a nervous chuckle from some of the teachers around the heckler, but Newsom received a mostly respectful reception even though his speech was the usual litany of cliches delivered with his raspy voice and pointed finger for emphasis.
After a couple of hours, the group walked a block up McAllister Street to school district headquarters on Franklin, where they were instructed to pop their pink balloons on a signal from one of the ringleaders during a district meeting. I hope it was a mighty sound.