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Protests over school budget cuts planned across Calif.

May 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Protests were held Tuesday over planned cuts to schools across California.

Parents were the driving force behind the movement. They said they were fed up with pink slips and cut backs. They started a grassroots organization called Educate the State. Their goal is to get the message out to lawmakers that they need to wake up and start caring about public education.

Parents, students and teachers held an organized walkout at Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks to echo that message.

"We've been, cut, cut, cut, cut," said parent Aleta Braxton-O'Brien. "We cannot take any more cuts."

They are trying to pressure lawmakers to extend a series of temporary tax hikes that are set to expire. Without the extensions there will be thousands more layoffs and higher class sizes will be likely.

The teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Unified School District are still negotiation a new contract. The LAUS says the district's other unions have agreed to take six furlough days, but UTLA says that's not acceptable.

It is something that schools say they cannot afford.

"Right now the most would probably be 40," said Millikan sixth grade student Rebekah Spector about her science class size.

"We are losing 20 percent of our teachers," said Millikan science teacher David Beraru. "That would be like having the LAPD fire 1,000 officers."

Actor and parent Luke Perry also joined the rally, challenging Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers to do the right thing when it comes to public education.

"They spend $40,000 a year on inmates and roughly $30,000 per student," Perry said. "By doing that you are turning students into inmates down the line."

Parents have organized fundraisers to help save jobs at their schools. They say without the teachers the future of every child is in jeopardy.

"I don't know if she will be able to get into college if she can't get through school," said parent Chariss Hill. "How is she going to go if she doesn't get the education she needs to get her there?"

All the local rallies taking place Tuesday culminated into a larger demonstration at the Federal Building in Westwood.

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