Teachers rally for funding

DOWNTOWN — Car horns blaring on Brand Boulevard Wednesday afternoon meant more than just the start of rush-hour traffic.

The honks and beeps were signals of support for Glendale teachers as they marched up and down the main thoroughfare advocating increased state funding for public education.

Several hundred teachers from the Glendale Unified School District, many wearing the bright green T-shirts of the Glendale Teachers Assn., walked in a loose crowd carrying signs with messages like, “Honk if you love teachers.”

“We came here for the camaraderie and to help educate Glendale about the needs of education,” said Steve Hogren, a teacher at Dunsmore Elementary School.

The rally was meant to make the public aware of the proposed state cuts to education for the 2008-09 year, as well as where education funding stands in California in general, teachers said. The rally also corresponded with California’s “Day Of The Teacher.”

In January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a 2008-09 budget that would cut public education funding next year by more than $4 billion statewide. A cut of that magnitude would have required the suspension of Proposition 98, a 1988 ballot measure that set a minimum amount of state funding for education.

But on Wednesday, the governor released his revised budget for the 2008-09 year that would give kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and community colleges the $1.8 billion they are due to fund Proposition 98 next year.

The proposed deference to Proposition 98 is a step in the right direction, teachers said, but just brings California to the minimum funding level that it was supposed to get without question.

“We are fighting every year to get what we are legally entitled to have,” said Daniel DiMundo, a teacher at Monte Vista Elementary School.

California spends less per student on education than all but a handful of states around the country, teachers said.

“I think more people need to be aware of how low funding is in the state of California compared to other states,” said Vickie Bouldin, a teacher at Crescenta Valley High.

Currently, California ranks 46th in the country when it comes to per-pupil spending, said Allen Freemon, a Crescenta Valley High teacher and Glendale Teachers Assn. president.

If California spent what the average state spends on education, the Glendale Unified School District would have an extra $135 million more each year to work with, Freemon said.

“It’s nice to honk, but we need to take it a step further,” DiMundo said.

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