Looking out from the rally stage at the crowd of about 3,000 Bay Area educators, students, and parents, CTA Secretary-Treasurer Gail Mendes spoke in front of San Francisco City Hall tonight about how the headlines all this week were about “waves and waves” of teacher protests across the state.
So Mendes led the crowd on three solidarity waves, watching the teachers raise and lower their arms and picket signs as they shouted and laughed. “That was good to see,” Mendes said into the microphone. “And we all know what happens when you turn your back on a large wave. You get knocked down! Or swept away. ”
The crowd applauded as Mendes spoke about the “CTA 27” – including CTA President David Sanchez — getting arrested for civil disobedience in Sacramento Thursday night.
Over two and a half hours in length, the spirited San Francisco rally included 17 speakers (Bay Area teachers, parents, labor leaders) and music by the Angry Tired Teachers Band comprised mostly of Hayward Unified teachers. To the tune of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” the band did a song about school cuts and pink slips with the crowd singing along to one verse that asked, “Where have all the teachers gone?”
State PTA President-elect Carol Kocivar urged lawmakers to pass a budget that protects children. “Parents will not be silent as children lose counselors, classroom aides, reading specialists. They will not be silent while arts and music are stripped from our schools!”
One pink-slipped teacher who spoke talked about the personal stress she is going through. “My name is Quyen Tran Bullard and I am one of the more than 20,000 educators in the Bay Area and across the state who got pink slips this spring. I am a kindergarten teacher in the New Haven Unified School District in Union City and I am eight months pregnant. What does the State of Emergency in our school district mean to me? It means that next year I will not have a teaching job. It means that my husband and I are going to be living off of one income. It means that we have to find other ways to support our baby daughter once she is born.”
Numerous speakers urged legislators to extend current taxes to spare our schools and cities from more devastating cuts.