School wars

A busy week of protests.

A busy week of protests.

It was a busy week of activism at the state Capitol. And it appears, at least according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revise, that the protests bore fruit.

Last week, however, teachers, students and parents weren’t optimistic.

Alice Mercer is a computer lab teacher at Oak Ridge Elementary School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. “For a number of years, state education funding has been precarious,” said Mercer, an educator going on nine years. “There have been a lot of one-year solutions, and now federal stimulus money to help out education has run out.

“We’re at the end of our rope.”

This past Friday capped off a week of school-funding protests at the Capitol. The California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers coordinated the Sacramento rally, one of six actions statewide, calling for five-year extensions of temporary taxes, which expire June 30.

“People need to have a choice to vote on the tax-extension measure,” said Grace Trujillo; her sons Matthew and Andrew attend first and third grade in SCUSD.

Without extending the income, sales and vehicle taxes, an “all cuts” budget in 2011-12 would have taken more funds from public education. But Gov. Brown announced in this Monday’s budget revision that education now, in fact, stands to gain up to $3 billion this coming fiscal year.

Still, teachers are ready to mobilize next year if “all cuts” is again on the table. Oakridge teacher Mercer, for instance, says she distributed pro-education leaflets in her district to draw neighbors to the weeklong Capitol rallies.

If the dire budget were to go through this year, K-12 classroom sizes would have risen, along with teacher layoffs, as higher-education tuition fees too would have increased.

Estevan Hernandez, a graduating senior in anthropology at Sacramento State, was part of campus protests in April and last week’s rallies at the Capitol. “I understand the value of education,” he said. “My parents come from straight poverty, and they were able to pull themselves up through education. I’m out here on behalf of myself and other students.”

His sacrifice was profound: California Highway Patrol officers arrested Hernandez on misdemeanor trespassing charges on May 9 at the Capitol rotunda for failing to leave when ordered. According to Hernandez, he has a court date in June. (Seth Sandronsky)

Zero waste, lotsa fruit

West Sacramento’s first farmers market opens this week.

The location, at 1271 West Capitol Avenue across from City Hall, will celebrate its first day this Thursday, May 19, from 4:30 p.m. to dusk. West Sac officials are encouraging patrons to ride the Yolobus to the market, which they say will be “zero waste” and also will accept EBT/SNAP benefits. Find out more at (Nick Miller)