On this Friday morning, pink is in.
Teachers from districts across the Coachella Valley wore pink clothes and held pink signs, rallying for support before school started.
Ironically, pink may also mean they are out, as in, out of a job.
“It’s one of the most heart-wrenching things that we have to do,” Cahuilla Desert Academy principal Estalla Palacio lamented. “It’s part of our job, and these are daysI don’t like.”
Eighth grade teacher Dioscelina Zavala got her pink slip on Pink Friday.She saysshe was expecting it since she’s one of the newer teachers on campus.
“It’s really the students that are being cheated,” Zavala said.
This Pink Friday showdown is a statewide effort.According to the California Teachers Association, the Golden State slashed over $11 billion from the education budget.It forced all districts to review their own budgets, to start cutting back, and to start piling up students.
“Right now,I have 20 students per class. With layoffs, that will easily increase to 30, 35 students per class, which means each student gets less teacher attention,” Principal Palacio explained.
This protest comes at the heels of Thursday night’s Coachella Valley Unified school board meeting in which the district voted to layoff over 200 people –228, to be exact. This same district last year laid off 28 people.
Other districts in the Desert are announcing cuts.
Desert Sands Unified plans to eliminate up to 136 jobs.Last year, the DSUSD intially gave 118 pink slips but only 16 jobs were evenutally lost.
After three rounds of budget cuts between 2008 and 2010,DSUSD will lose close to $21 million.
One way the District is trying to avoid layoffs is by offering early retirement incentives for employees. If more retire, less have a chance at losing their jobs.
Palm Springs Unifiedplans 160 layoffs. These figures, though, are preliminary.
Districts have until May 15 to hand out their final pink slips. It’senough time for educators to conjure up support from families.
Statistically, California ranks dead last, 47th place, when it comes to education funding.And with these looming layoffs, the Golden State may easily flunk to the bottom.
Gov. Schwarzenegger responded to today’s protests around the Golden State.
In a statement given by his press secretaryAaron McLear, he says:
“In the face of the state’s $42 billion budget deficit, the governor went to extraordinary lengths to ensure California’s schools were given increased funding flexibility so they can prioritize their spending on what they need the most during this national economic downturn.”