More than 100 parents and teachers held a demonstration at Ventura and Laurel Canyon boulevards Tuesday morning to protest state budget cuts for schools.
“I like to think of it as a rally, rather than a protest,” said Tina Raksin, who made signs and handed them to parents after they dropped their children off at Carpenter Community Charter School. “This is for education and to get people to educate themselves about what is going on in our schools.”
Raksin’s favorite signs said: “If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance” and “If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher.” The rally is part of the grassroots EducateOurState.org movement started by parents to unite Californians who support high-quality public education.
Many of the parents and teachers at Tuesday morning's demonstration said they planned to participate at a rally that afternoon at the Federal Building in Westwood.
“It’s a great turnout, we’ve had great cooperation,” said Carpenter PTA President Andrew Barrett, who helped rally people from Walter Reed Middle School and Rio Vista Elementary School. Parents at nearby Colfax Charter, Riverside Elementary and Milliken Middle schools were also demonstrating on selected busy streets or in front of their schools.
“This is such an important issue," said Ron Taylor, a parent from Walter Reed, "and the erosion of the public school system has been happening for about 20 years. Not everyone can afford to send their children to private schools. ... We need to protect the public school system. This is what America is all about.”
Local celebrity Bill Nye, TV's "Science Guy," was sitting outside on his porch not far from Carpenter School eating his oatmeal, blueberries and bananas, when one of the parents waved to him and coaxed him out to the rally. Nye said he agreed with the cause, picked up a sign and jumped in with the demonstrators at the Ventura and Laurel Canyon intersection.
“I have had great chemistry teachers and great math teachers in school, and they inspired me, so it’s important to keep a good and strong public education system,” Nye said. “I think more science should be taught at elementary school levels, and there needs to be a continued emphasis on algebra for middle school students.”
Carpenter mom Yanti Palleschi and her dog, Jelly, came out for the rally because she was concerned for the teachers who may not be returning to the school because of budget cuts. “We thought that if we became a charter school we wouldn’t have these kinds of problems," Palleschi said, "but we still need money from the state.”