SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of teachers from around California descended on the state Capitol Monday to make the case for extending tax hikes as a way to stave off deep budget cuts to public education.

Amid tightened security, the teachers marched to the Capitol in hopes of meeting with lawmakers and even staging sit-ins in the building.

The day was a kick-off to a week of action the California Teachers Association has dubbed a “State of Emergency.” It includes demonstrations and teach-ins throughout the state as schools face the prospect of mass layoffs and program cuts.

Chanting “Tax, tax, tax the rich, we can solve the deficit,” hundreds of teachers clad in pale blue shirts carried banners and signs into the Capitol building, where California Highway Patrol officers blocked the main rotunda areas to prevent demonstrators from staging sit-ins there for most of the day. By late afternoon more than 150 protesters rallied in the rotunda and about 65 of them succeeded in staying for two hours after the building closed, prompting arrests.

Several teachers were among those arrested. They said they wanted to stand with students.

“I watched us last year and now we’re worse off,” Union City math teacher Charmaine Kawaguchi told the crowd before being arrested. “So now I’m willing to do anything to make it better.”

Doug Nielson, a government and economics teacher at Coalinga High School, said he was frustrated after visiting the offices of Republican lawmakers whom he said seemed more concerned with adhering to their ideology than addressing what he called a crisis in public education.

“If we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer,” Nielson said. “You can’t have first-class teaching on a Third World budget.”

Republican legislative leaders were pointing to an unexpected $2.5 billion in extra tax revenue that came to the state last month as a way to fully fund education without having to extend the recent tax increases.

“It’s an opportunity for us to live within our means and do the right thing, and still protect schools and law enforcement and the things that I believe are important to taxpayers and what taxpayers believe they’re paying taxes for in the first place,” said Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Tulare.

About 300 volunteers wearing shirts saying, “I will be a lay-off!” were expected to rally outside Conway’s district office in Visalia later Monday.

At issue are temporary increases in the sales, personal income and vehicle taxes the Legislature enacted two years ago. The increases are scheduled to end by June 30, but Brown wants a special election to renew them for another five years to help close the remainder of what had been a $26.6 billion budget deficit.

The deficit now stands at $15.4 billion after Brown and Democratic lawmakers cut spending and transferred some money between government accounts. So far, Brown has been unable to win the two GOP votes he needs in each house of the state Legislature to put the tax question before voters.

The California Teachers Association and other interest groups are calling on lawmakers to vote on the taxes outright before they expire, rather than waiting for a special election the teachers say would take too long and imperil about 20,000 public school jobs. That’s about the number of layoff notices that were issued to teachers and other staff for the next school year.

David Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member teachers association, the politically powerful union that is organizing most of the week’s activities, kicked off the protest in Sacramento by saying schools already are suffering from previous cuts that have devastated art, music and physical education programs. The union represents about three-quarters of the state’s 300,000 teachers, as well as other school personnel.

“These cuts run deep and they not only impact the present, they impact our future,” Sanchez said. “We are here today and we will be here the entire week to tell our legislators they must extend the temporary taxes.”

Without a renewal of the tax increases, Brown and Democratic lawmakers warn the state will be forced to make deep cuts that affect the lives of nearly every Californian and further erode the quality of the public school system.

“I think it’s time to get mad as hell and say enough. This is a disgrace, a national disgrace,” San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia said while addressing an early morning rally in San Francisco.

About 100 school personnel gathered at 5:30 a.m. Monday in San Francisco and marched to school district headquarters, with 60 boarding a chartered bus to Sacramento to join other protesters.

Garcia also said California should consider revising Proposition 13, the 1978 voter initiative that rolled back and capped property tax increases, so more tax revenue can be generated from commercial properties.

In addition, the California Federation of Teachers began running a radio ad in selected areas, singling out Republican state senators who oppose extending the tax increases. The ad will run in the districts of senators Tony Strickland of Thousand Oaks, Anthony Cannella of Ceres and Tom Berryhill of Modesto.

Strickland welcomed the ads, saying the effort prompts people to call his office so he can explain that one of his goals is maximizing classroom dollars by cutting education bureaucracy and other government waste.

He said Republicans intend to release their own budget plan that would avoid more cuts to education and law enforcement by using $2.5 billion to $5 billion in projected revenue growth as the state economy improves.

“California is not in this position because we’re taxed too little,” Strickland said. “We’re in this position because we’re taxed too much. I understand teachers’ concern, because 50 cents of each dollar we spend in Sacramento is going to education, but not much of it is getting to the classroom.”

School funding accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s general fund spending, but it has fallen from $71.1 billion in the 2007-08 fiscal year to $64.4 billion this fiscal year.

The California Federation of Teachers also supports a bill by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would increase the income tax rate from 9.3 percent to 10.3 percent on taxable income of $500,000 and up, union spokesman Steve Hopcraft said. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that six in 10 likely voters favored raising income taxes on top earners to fund education.

The protests will culminate Friday with a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol.

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Associated Press writer Judy Lin contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (30)
  1. Steve - West Sac says:

    Why not let the city, counties or even the state begin seizing foreclosure/bank owned properties that have become run down and neglected by those same banks. Sell them at current market value and use those funds to fill in the holes of the schools budgets.

    1. TeachersAreCrooks says:

      Wow. This is the gang of thugs teaching are kids and demanding $75,000 a year plus a pension. Thanks for opening up everyone’s eyes to who you are. Why does any public employee get a pension. Hello, private companies cut out pensions years ago. Teaching is a part time job. Get off work at 3pm and have the summers off. Give me a break. Plus you can’t even teach our kids to read and write. You are all jokes and now everyone in the State has seen it. HA HA. You loose!!
      VOTE NO ON ALL TAX HIKES. We are over taxed and as you can see if thugs like these have jobs we are paying to much.

      1. Josh - Roseville says:

        Wow! Do you realize that your claims are common misconceptions but completely false? My wife is a teacher and she works 10 hour days. Just because your kids get let out at 3:00 doesn’t mean teachers stop working at that time. They have to grade all of the homework that is assigned and prepare lessons for the next day they are going to spend with your kids. They try their best to teach your kids how to read and write but it is hard to give individual attention to the kids who really need it when there are over 30 kids in a class and they get no support from parents who would rather let their kids play video games than spend an hour helping with homework.
        Before teaching, my wife worked year round in a desk job. She loves teaching and helping children, but she has told me numerous times that it is significantly more difficult than her old job and she is always exhausted. If she didn’t have two months “off” in the summer, the burnout rate for teachers would be astronomical. Oh yeah, did I mention she only makes just over $40,000 a year and has been given a pink slip each of the last two years? ‘

      2. CA_Needs_Teachers says:

        stupid, stupid person – this is why we need teachers. educated people like you

  2. Bob says:

    Let’s have the teachers give back their $4250 a month retirement payments and funnel the extra funds to the schools. Retired teachers in California make more then working teachers in 28 other states. The benefits paid to government workers are bleeding the state dry.

    Which president of the teacher’s union said the following:

    When the children start paying dues, I’ll start worrying about them.

    Quit being selfish teachers and realize that the well is dry and it is not fair that you retire with the bloated payments. Let’s see you do the right thing for the children and the teachers that are going to be laid off.

    1. Pensionwatcher says:

      You are quoting the retirement of administrator not teachers – considering most of us aren’t even making that as take home salary as an active teacher! You have fallen for the “pensions are the root of all our problems” falsehood. The pension system is NOT even close to the cause of the state budget issues and anyone who falls for that line is supporting the Wall Street crooks that want to eliminate their corporate governance oversight. Keep the focus where is should be – on funding education.

    2. Robert Rapisura says:

      Where do you get this figure of $4250 a month? I have been teaching over twenty years and if I retire now, I would be lucky to receive $1,000 a month retirement. I would have to teach over 40 years to even get close to $4,000 a month retirement. I retirement account which I contribute to every month out of my salary. Please do not confuse teachers’ retirement with other public employees that do not contribute to theirs.

      1. Sylvia says:

        Public employees (state of Ca) also contribute every month to their pensions out of their salary. Please, it is already bad enough that we have become a country that pits public worker against private worker, lets not now start pitting public employee against other public employee. It is time for all of us, public, private and all the variations to give up the blame game and work together

  3. JJ says:

    They should not be teaching children.

  4. LD says:

    Here are the role models California certified to to work in classrooms with our children. What a mess. Getting rid of them should be easy enough. Don’t pay them, and let their glorious unions figure it out In the meanwhile, good riddance.

  5. gene reynolds says:

    i can not believe the article i just read here.If you notice the people who are speaking up for more money are ALL associated with collectors of THOSE FUNDS.Before you working CLASS VOTERS listen to any of them you better find out how much all of these people including TEACHERS are being paid and what their benefits are NOW. They have all drained the tax pools for years and now want to continue doing it.They and the police and firemen need to back off and give the public YOU a chance to build the economy back up.And you teachers,Show a little class and quit trying to use kids scare us into to lining your pockets.Our STATE is in trouble .do your part to help it out.If you think for one second that taxing the rich any more is going to help WRONG the will just rite it off so you working class will pay it for them,you all need to get real

    1. DBB says:

      A total joke! Never have we seen a worst display of self-righteous people sucking every penney possible from a system and then lay ing down at the state capitol and demanding more. Graduation rates down 20%, reading skills at record lows, math scores sinking and they want more money so their health plans are paid for by the tax payers and their retirement pensions are free! Enough is enough…fire their butts like they did with the air controllers under Reagan and you would a whole NEW attitude around our schools. A total joke!

  6. Sylvia Lewis says:

    The average pension for teachers and other government workers is actually around 35k a year. Most teachers have the equivalent of an MBA. Go ahead offer an MBA the opportunity to earn that much after 15-25 years in the business, an average of 7-10 lay offs and the privilege to be constantly criticized by people who do not know the facts, and have no clue what it takes to run a classroom. See if they line up for the opportunity. People continue to complain and call teachers names and then wonder why the teacher does not teach. Could it be that they are dealing with kids that witness all of this and thus have no respect for the classroom teacher. Don’t worry folks, the teachers with experience are getting fed up, getting mad as hell and bolting. Are you ready to teach your kids at home?

    1. marc sac says:

      Hell yes! I work hard just to keep my kids out of those schools where they “have no respect for the classroom teacher.” Let them dig their own holes, die in them.

    2. gene reynolds says:

      Sylvia Lewis you are joking ,right, i know of at least 6 young people who graduated college to be teachers,wanted to be teachers,dreamed about being teachers but cant get a job teaching because the current teachers have the school budgets dry,how much do you think the school system could get any one of them for. Teachers are a large part of their own problems in the class room,when the were striking for more wages and benenifates they should have also ask for a clause for CONTROL of their students,they didn`t though did they.Instead of 35k what if you had to settle for social security after all look it up YOU teachers were some of the biggest reasons S.S. was started,oh and that is what construction workers have after 25 or 30 years and their salarys are what our economy is BASED ON. Get real lady

  7. Elk Grove Teacher says:

    The civil disobedience leading to some getting arrested was NOT a CTA sanctioned activity. If you hadn’t noticed in the video, the hundreds of teachers identified by their blue t-shirts had purposely left the building because WE did not want to be associated with the faction of individuals who were not there to join our message but hijacked our permit to assemble in the rotunda as a means of getting media attention. The CTA message was: pass the budget with an extension of the current taxes and no further cuts to education. The individuals Channel 13 chose to focus upon did not represent CTA’s purpose of being there . While I understand the frustration expressed by these individuals – the majority of them NOT teachers – the media focused on them instead of the teachers who walked the halls today to tell legislators and staff the stories of real teachers working in schools after YEARS of budget cuts. It may not be sexy enough for Channel 13’s style of reporting but it is that reality that they should be focused on – not on the few citizens that came with the purpose of being arrested.v

    1. Elk Grove Teacher Stinks says:

      Teach or shut up and get a new job. Eimination of your pension and require you to pay into the SSI program is the way to go. The schools can set up a 401K plan and provide matching up to 6% of your salary. That is what most private companies provide. You should also pay a higher amount of your beneifits package. Specifically Medical and Dental. No raises in pay until you raise or kids test scores to the 80 percentile of the US. Also, no summers off. Summers will require you to repair classrooms and the school grounds. All continueing education will be during the summer as well. You get 10 sick days and no more then 3 weeks vacation. All use or loose. No more carry over BS. Don’t like it.. Go find a better job.

    2. gene reynolds says:

      passing those tax`s for the rich only hurts the working class even more because even with STATE TAX`S the rite off`s for the rich are even greater which means the working middle class has to pick up the diffrience and in case you don`t know or care “the middle class has had enough

    3. gene reynolds says:

      who cares IF you were there YOU were there and THERE was the problems,hell you probably make the American kids go to the back of the room and shut up so YOU can spend more energy teaching ILLEGAL student RIGHT

  8. Jared H. says:

    I agree with Sylvia, I know many teachers personally, both parents in fact, and if you think they are making big bucks, you are blinded by lies. Many government officials make multiple times the annual salary as teachers in CA or any state for that matter. Most teachers I know, including my parents, are forced to work side jobs to pay for their meager lifestyles. Look around you, even farmers in CA make many times more money than teachers. I’ve never seen a teacher living in a mansion, but I’ve seen many a farmer with a nice mansion tucked in amongst their orchards.

    1. steve b says:

      Farmers have their mansion because they work their a#$ off to get them. They wake up at 5:00am every morning and work in the dirt, no air conditioning or break rooms. Just because you have been giving water to a fern all these years does’nt make you a farmer. Trust me, if teachers made what farmers made we would all starve. Farmers would love to make alot of money teaching even the dumbest kids their ABC’s.

  9. flameforjustice says:

    I’m so pleased that the public is finally seeing the truth about teachers and their unions. Money,retirement,benefits,money and not delivering the goods. Our youth rank so low compared to other countries(even poor countries) it’s absolutely shameful. Using children/students as an excuse for your greed and incompetence is so very DISGRACEFUL

    1. SUSD Teacher says:

      Greed and incompetence? Really? The vast majority of teachers come to school everyday because of their students. There are bad apples in every profession but that is a small percentage. I work at a great school, but every year we watch more of our top students leave to go to charter schools along with their involved parents. When progress reports and report cards are given out, not one parent calls or comes to school to wonder why their child is failing. Students are not reading at home, there are little if any books, magazines or newspapers in the home. The expectations get higher every year and every year we receive children farther below grade level to work with. Most teachers spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars out of their own pocket for school supplies for their students. We are also willing to take a pay cut in these tough economic times, but poor working conditions and lack of respect and understanding from the general public will soon drive the best teachers out of the profession.

  10. Opinionater says:

    The historical parallels to the French Revolution are uncanny. Everyone get’s a piece of the Koch cake. NOT!

  11. barrack says:

    Farmers live in mansions, because the government subsidies……… That is a bigger waste of money than public pensions.

  12. Cindy V. says:

    If the teachers had only US citizens to teach we could save millions. Remember when you had to show a birth certificate to get registered for school. Plus, the CA Constitution requires everything to be done in English. Just think of all that could be saved in textbooks alone, if we didn’t have to pay to have everything in more than one lanquage. The education budget has been so bloated for years that the system is in need of an extreme overhaul. Bring in a business major to run the system and make the required cuts or better yet, just obey the law. Stop funding illegals.

  13. Mike says:

    Looks like all the normal activists and extremists getting arrested. It’s union hacks, SEIU thugs, Code Pink and hippie looking students fresh from smoking a bong. Only thing missing was Cindy Sheehan, a partridge and a pear tree…

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is not enough…the teachers have the right idea; but, we had all better wake up and realize that things are being taken away from us.

    The decision between waking up every day and living a mediocre life or fighting vehemently to protect the one we already have is a decision each of us must make.

    Whether we realize it or not everything is at risk right now, and I for one am ready to move “all in” at a moment’s notice.

    Die on your feet or live on your knees America.

  15. Marty B Goode says:

    Wow! Die on your feet or live on your knees America. Bet you’ve been waiting to use that line. Drama queen…

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