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Teachers plan to turn CA state capitol into 'another Madison'... Teachers arrested in protest in California state capitol... 65 taken into custody by California State Police for refusing to leave at closing time

News has just come into Substance from a number of sources that at least 65 teachers — who were protesting cuts in education and the refusal of California lawmakers to raise taxes on the rich — have been arrested in the capitol building in Sacramento. The arrests took place on May 9, 2011. Protests are scheduled to continue today (May 10).

A California teacher (unidentified in the photograph) being arrested by California Highway Patrol on May 9, 2011, at the California State Capitol building. Teachers began a week of protests against cuts in public education on Monday, May 9, and promise to continue their protests throughout the week. One of the first stories came in from Sacramento late last night from KCRA TV. Other stories (below) are from other news sources, all attributed. Substance is waiting to hear from teachers who were at the scene and will publish updates as they come in.

KCRA STORY BEGINS HERE:

CHP Arrests 65 People At Capitol, Teachers Arrested During Protest Over Education Cuts, 10:30 pm PDT May 9, 2011, 11:40 pm PDT May 9, 2011, Danielle Leigh/KCRA.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Highway Patrol said it arrested 65 people, many teachers, for refusing to leave the Capitol Monday when it closed at 6 p.m.

Those arrested were booked in Sacramento County Jail on charges of trespassing. Some were also charged with resisting arrest.

The protesters stood in a circle with their arms linked chanting, "Tax the rich. We can fix the deficit," and "Teachers and students united for justice."

The arrests came at the end of the first day in an entire week of protests planned by the California Teacher's Association.

The California Teacher's Association is trying to convince lawmakers to stop further cuts to education and extend tax increases set to expire this year.

One of the banners carried by protesting teachers in Sacramento on May 9.If lawmakers don't, education will likely face roughly $4 billion in additional cuts meaning more lay-offs, larger class sizes and programs lost.

"The point is not getting arrested," said Lita Blanc, a reading teacher who was arrested minutes later. "The point is it's our civil right to make a statement."

"We have to do whatever it takes to protect our children. Public schools are going to be demolished next year," said Charmaine Kawaguchi, a mathematics and computer programming teacher who was also arrested.

A spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol said he was disappointed a day of peaceful protests had to end with arrests.

He said he hoped tomorrow's protests will not end with a similar display.

SACRAMENTO BEE STORY BEGINS HERE:

May 9, 2011, CHP arrests protesters at Capitol, By David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau

About 65 teachers and students protesting budget cuts at the Capitol were arrested this evening after the building closed and California Highway Patrol officers warned them repeatedly to leave.

The crowd chanted "shame on you" as protesters were led off one by one, mostly without incident. All were booked into the Sacramento County Jail on misdemeanor trespassing charges, CHP spokesman Sean Kennedy said. He said two or three of the protesters also face charges of resisting arrest.

The daylong protest, organized by the California Teachers Association, drew about 1,000 protesters for various activities. About 150 moved into the rotunda in late afternoon, and some of them refused to leave at the 6 p.m. closing time.

"We're not just here to lobby," Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, told the crowd before the arrests took place. "We're here to raise some hell."

Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and of peace activist Cindy Sheehan's group Peace of the Action monitored the demonstration and said booking the protesters into jail was unwarranted. They said protesters should instead have been cited and released.

"It's ridiculous," said Gregory Vickrey of Peace of the Action. "This was clearly a nonviolent event."

Kennedy said the CHP takes "the security of this building seriously." Protesters throughout the evening were given the option to leave on their own, he said.

Protesters linked arms and sang songs in the Capitol rotunda, the arrests coming in spurts as officers waited for vans to take protesters to a CHP office and return. Protesters' wrists were bound in plastic ties before they were taken in groups in an elevator to a van waiting downstairs.

An officer issuing warnings with a bullhorn - "The Capitol is closed," he said - could hardly be heard over the protesters' chants. One protester danced in front of him as he spoke.

The crowd chanted "CHP join us!" during a lull in arrests.

A CHP officer filmed the demonstration and the arrests. Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, looked down on the protest from a second floor railing before officers started arresting protesters.

Mike Parker, a community college teacher who was among those arrested, said the protest was to provide a "moral witness...What's happening in this society is totally out of kilter."

Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2011/05/chp-begins-arresting-protestor.html#ixzz1Lvwf2BS4

LONGER MIDNIGHT ARTICLE FROM THE SACRAMENTO BEE BELOW HERE. THIS STORY IS SUPPOSED TO BE APPEARING ON PAGE ONE OF THE PRINT EDITION OF THE BEE ON MAY 10.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011, California teachers' budget protests include tax pitch, arrests, By Jon Ortiz and David Siders, jortiz@sacbee.com Published: Tuesday, May. 10, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1A

The state's largest teachers union revved up its faithful Monday to lean on state lawmakers to extend current tax rates – and eventually increase them.

The daylong rally by the California Teachers Association kicked off a week of budget lobbying, press events and teach-ins by the union. Their plans and those of anti-war protesters this week prompted stepped-up Capitol security over concerns that some activists might stage Wisconsin-style sit-ins at the Capitol or commit other acts of civil disobedience.

Although law enforcement officials said the crowds were generally peaceful, they arrested about 65 protesters after warning them to leave the Capitol rotunda after the building closed at 6 p.m. They were charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

"We're not just here to lobby. We're here to raise some hell," Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, said as the arrests began.

About 1,000 teachers, parents, school support workers and religious leaders began in the morning, urging lawmakers to immediately pass a tax extension to avoid deeper cuts to education budgets around the state. After that, they want a tax hike put before voters.

"Amen! Shame!" said CTA members in light blue T-shirts as CTA President David A. Sanchez and other speakers blasted what they said is corporate greed and politics that have scapegoated public employees, gutted government budgets and put children, the poor and the infirm at risk.

"It's not right that the rich and big businesses don't pay their fair share of taxes," Sanchez said.

School funding has fallen from a high of $56.6 billion in fiscal 2007-08 to between $49 billion and $50 billion in each of the last four budget years. The cuts have forced shorter school calendars, larger class sizes, outright layoffs for tens of thousands of teachers and staff and furloughs for most of the rest.

Meanwhile, schools districts are in the final week of issuing pink slips to teachers.

"Teaching has become crowd control in our district," said Ellen Old, president of the Stockton Teachers Association.

CTA hopes to persuade at least two Republicans in each chamber to support the five-year extensions that Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking to income, sales and vehicle taxes. That's the bare minimum of GOP support needed to reach the two-thirds constitutional threshold to approve a tax bill, assuming that all Democrats support it.

"One of our messages (to Republicans) is that we'll be there for them" when their re-election rolls around, Old said Monday before heading into the Capitol to lobby.

But their quest for taxes faces increasingly long political odds, and the risk of the deepest school cuts they fear may be abating with positive revenue reports from state tax collectors.

Republicans haven't been sympathetic to tax extensions, which they view as tax hikes by another name.

"We respect (the teachers') First (Amendment rights) to protest and say what they want. My question is, why aren't they in school if school and education is their highest priority?" asked Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

GOP lawmakers have said surging state revenues – about $2.5 billion above expectations this year and perhaps even more in the fiscal year starting July 1 – prove there's no need to extend the taxes. Under Proposition 98's education funding guarantees, schools get 40 percent to 50 percent of new general fund tax revenues, which means the recent surge could bring them close to even with this year – even without the tax extensions.

Huff said the revenue "should be plenty enough to take care of education." He said the GOP likely wouldn't support any further cuts to schools under the current conditions.

CTA's Sanchez and California PTA President Jo Loss both said Republicans still need to agree to taxes.

The revenue surge, Loss said, is "an uptick that doesn't begin to fill in what's been taken away."

Rally organizers on Monday wanted to walk in silence from Cathedral Square and around the Capitol, but a group of people carrying peaceandfreedom.org posters joined the back of the procession and started shouting, "Who should we tax? The rich! When should we tax them? Now!"

The loud group split off as the teachers turned at the Capitol's northeast corner, but it illustrated how several groups are in Sacramento this week seeking to ride the budget crisis' political draft.

Code Pink and activist Cindy Sheehan came to Sacramento on Sunday. Peace of the Action, another anti-war group, called for a weeklong "Occupy Sacramento" movement.

Like the teachers, those groups want to close corporate tax loopholes, increase school funding and hike taxes on the rich.

All the activity raised the specter of mass demonstrations, or at least plenty of congestion at the Capitol.

The Assembly and Senate Rules committees issued a joint memo Friday warning staffers that high turnout for the events this week "may have an impact on your daily work environment."

The memo told staff to expect extra visits, email and phone calls: "If you experience any disturbing situation or become apprehensive about anything occurring, please contact your Senate or Assembly sergeant-at-arms immediately."

At one point Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg had to show his identification to a uniformed California Highway Patrol officer as he tried to cross the temporarily closed Capitol rotunda.

CBS NEWS REPORT FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BEGINS BELOW HERE:

Calif. teachers protest budget at state Capitol

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of teachers from around California descended on the state Capitol Monday to make the case for extending tax hikes as a way to stave off deep budget cuts to public education.

Amid tightened security, the teachers marched to the Capitol in hopes of meeting with lawmakers and even staging sit-ins in the building.

The day was a kick-off to a week of action the California Teachers Association has dubbed a "State of Emergency." It includes demonstrations and teach-ins throughout the state as schools face the prospect of mass layoffs and program cuts.

Chanting "Tax, tax, tax the rich, we can solve the deficit," hundreds of teachers clad in pale blue shirts carried banners and signs into the Capitol building, where California Highway Patrol officers blocked the main rotunda areas to prevent demonstrators from staging sit-ins there for most of the day. By late afternoon more than 150 protesters rallied in the rotunda and about 65 of them succeeded in staying for two hours after the building closed, prompting arrests.

Several teachers were among those arrested. They said they wanted to stand with students.

"I watched us last year and now we're worse off," Union City math teacher Charmaine Kawaguchi told the crowd before being arrested. "So now I'm willing to do anything to make it better."

Doug Nielson, a government and economics teacher at Coalinga High School, said he was frustrated after visiting the offices of Republican lawmakers whom he said seemed more concerned with adhering to their ideology than addressing what he called a crisis in public education.

"If we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer," Nielson said. "You can't have first-class teaching on a Third World budget."

Republican legislative leaders were pointing to an unexpected $2.5 billion in extra tax revenue that came to the state last month as a way to fully fund education without having to extend the recent tax increases.

"It's an opportunity for us to live within our means and do the right thing, and still protect schools and law enforcement and the things that I believe are important to taxpayers and what taxpayers believe they're paying taxes for in the first place," said Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Tulare.

About 300 volunteers wearing shirts saying, "I will be a lay-off!" were expected to rally outside Conway's district office in Visalia later Monday.

At issue are temporary increases in the sales, personal income and vehicle taxes the Legislature enacted two years ago. The increases are scheduled to end by June 30, but Brown wants a special election to renew them for another five years to help close the remainder of what had been a $26.6 billion budget deficit.

The deficit now stands at $15.4 billion after Brown and Democratic lawmakers cut spending and transferred some money between government accounts. So far, Brown has been unable to win the two GOP votes he needs in each house of the state Legislature to put the tax question before voters.

The California Teachers Association and other interest groups are calling on lawmakers to vote on the taxes outright before they expire, rather than waiting for a special election the teachers say would take too long and imperil about 20,000 public school jobs. That's about the number of layoff notices that were issued to teachers and other staff for the next school year.

David Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member teachers association, the politically powerful union that is organizing most of the week's activities, kicked off the protest in Sacramento by saying schools already are suffering from previous cuts that have devastated art, music and physical education programs. The union represents about three-quarters of the state's 300,000 teachers, as well as other school personnel.

"These cuts run deep and they not only impact the present, they impact our future," Sanchez said. "We are here today and we will be here the entire week to tell our legislators they must extend the temporary taxes."

Without a renewal of the tax increases, Brown and Democratic lawmakers warn the state will be forced to make deep cuts that affect the lives of nearly every Californian and further erode the quality of the public school system.

"I think it's time to get mad as hell and say enough. This is a disgrace, a national disgrace," San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia said while addressing an early morning rally in San Francisco.

About 100 school personnel gathered at 5:30 a.m. Monday in San Francisco and marched to school district headquarters, with 60 boarding a chartered bus to Sacramento to join other protesters.

Garcia also said California should consider revising Proposition 13, the 1978 voter initiative that rolled back and capped property tax increases, so more tax revenue can be generated from commercial properties.

In addition, the California Federation of Teachers began running a radio ad in selected areas, singling out Republican state senators who oppose extending the tax increases. The ad will run in the districts of senators Tony Strickland of Thousand Oaks, Anthony Cannella of Ceres and Tom Berryhill of Modesto.

Strickland welcomed the ads, saying the effort prompts people to call his office so he can explain that one of his goals is maximizing classroom dollars by cutting education bureaucracy and other government waste.

He said Republicans intend to release their own budget plan that would avoid more cuts to education and law enforcement by using $2.5 billion to $5 billion in projected revenue growth as the state economy improves.

"California is not in this position because we're taxed too little," Strickland said. "We're in this position because we're taxed too much. I understand teachers' concern, because 50 cents of each dollar we spend in Sacramento is going to education, but not much of it is getting to the classroom."

School funding accounts for more than 40 percent of the state's general fund spending, but it has fallen from $71.1 billion in the 2007-08 fiscal year to $64.4 billion this fiscal year.

The California Federation of Teachers also supports a bill by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would increase the income tax rate from 9.3 percent to 10.3 percent on taxable income of $500,000 and up, union spokesman Steve Hopcraft said. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that six in 10 likely voters favored raising income taxes on top earners to fund education.

The protests will culminate Friday with a rally and sit-in at the state Capitol.



Comments:

May 10, 2011 at 11:46 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Society's values out of kilter

If we, as a society, can provide hundreds of billions of dollars to bail banks out (and in the process still provide millions of dollars in bonuses for those who ran those banks into the ground), we should be able to find a few billion dollars for our schools. The teachers in California are protesting for their children and for society itself.

Those who criticize teachers for not being in the classroom are deliberating misdirecting the argument.

The teachers are protesting for what's right. Period.

May 13, 2011 at 12:07 AM

By: Renee Vargas

Tax Monies for Schools?

What happened to lottery dollars? The promise of a great portion going to schools has not been realized? Where is it going? and why do teachers need to disgrace themselves for the sake of the children? Why isn't the dollar getting to the schools? Our society is failing to our children...there is so much that can be written about all this!!! One of my friends is sitting in jail over this! What a shame she has to do this to make a point!

May 15, 2011 at 8:45 AM

By: Jean Schwab

taxes

Yesterday at the Quest conference we talked about the tax breaks that big corporations receive. It is about time corporations give back to schools and the communities they have made money off of. The teachers in the demonstrations are advocating for their students. It is brave and the right thing to do.

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