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Teachers, parents protest LAUSD layoffs

March 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Teachers and parents expressed their anger over LAUSD layoffs by protesting outside a school in Highland Park Thursday.More than 100 students and staff took part in the rally early Thursday morning. They say the cuts to education are too deep and costing them their future.

Students took to the streets outside Florence Nightingale Middle School to make sure that their voices were heard.

"I am out here because if we put more kids into a classroom we are not going to learn because there will be too many of us," said student Leslie Palomar.

"The classrooms are going to be more crowded. Seventh grade and 6th grade might end up in one classroom," said student Luis Vargas. "We aren't going to be able to learn more."

Nine teachers, half of the 6th grade staff, have received pink slips as the district struggles with the budget deficit.

"This disrupts the repore that we have already built with our students," said David Robles, a laid-off teacher. "I think that hurts more than anything."

Superintendent Ramon Cortines says the district had no choice given Sacramento's deep cuts to education -- nearly 18 billion over the last two years.

The teachers at Florence Nightingale say that the dire situation is becoming a matter of safety.

"Our nurse is leaving and we won't have a nurse for 2,000 students," said Violeta Sujo, a teacher. "Right now we have four counselors and now they are only going to give us one counselor."

The lack of funding is also going to cost the school its librarian and several assistant principals next year. Members of the teachers union says there are other ways to deal with the budget deficit.

Young students that took part in the rally say they know they have to stand up to save their education.

"It is completely wrong what they are doing to us," said student Lizette Ayala. "Just because California is in a crisis doesn't mean the students of public schools should suffer the consequences. It is not our fault and we should not be punished for something that the government did."

The staff and students say they will continue to speak out to make sure that their message reaches the school district and Sacramento.