Students vs. Schwarzenegger

By Guest Columnist May 16, 2008

by Jarad Sanchez Yesterday, high school students from across California swarmed the State Capitol building and delivered some 10,000 signatures to the Governor demanding that he fully fund education. Only about fifty percent of Black and Latino students in California graduate from high school. Recent studies have concluded that the state public education system is underfunded to the tune of sixteen billion dollars per year. In response, Schwarzenegger has proposed to cut funding to public schools by several billion dollars, exacerbating the problem. Thousands of teachers statewide received pink slips stating that their schools could no longer afford their services. Class sizes will be larger next year. Some school districts have even considered closing whole schools to accommodate the cuts. But it appears there is reason for hope. For the first time in a long time, high school students let legislators know just how they felt. At a festive rally in 100 degree weather, students chanted for two hours that they wanted real schools that provide real opportunities and that the status quo just isn’t good enough. What was equally unusual was the sheer honesty the students commanded of the politicos. They met with dozens of legislators and their staffers, asked tough questions and there was no tolerance for buffaloing an answer. In a place where maybe, maybe not is an acceptable response, the students told legislators that their yes meant yes and their no meant no. They wouldn’t take maybe for an answer. The public school finance debate has been a largely academic exercise in the Capitol with unaffected parties deciding the fate of other people’s children. For the first time in a long time, the children spoke for themselves. Their message was crystal clear, “Little brother is watching you.”