Students Protest Ed Entitlement Cuts

MAR. 5, 2012


Middle-aged, greying 1960s radicals, pimply faced kids, teachers, throngs of SEIU members, angry Occupy protestors, and union members of all kinds descended upon the state Capitol Monday. They demanded, “Wall Street and the wealthy 1 percent, pay to refund education, jobs, essential services, and a better future.”

The protest was sponsored by the California Teachers Association and the Occupy movement.

The protest even included roving bands of gang-attired youth probably not connected to education, dreadlock-wearing Rastafarians, earth children and the unmistakable sweet smell of marijuana wafting about.

Vapid stares, body odor, anger and an abundant use of the “F” word, some attended the rally with an express purpose in mind, while others appeared less committed and just were there for the chanting and day off of school.

“Enough is enough,” came the rally cry from college student body presidents. “We stand in solidarity,” said one speaker as Che Guevara signs waived wildly.

Shortly into the protest, it became clear that the rally really was about passing Gov. Jerry Brown’s $7 billion tax-increase ballot initiative, and the attendees were just human props.

Brown’s tax increase proposal, if approved, will:

* Increase the state income tax levied on annual earnings over $250,000 for five years.
* Increase the state’s sales and use tax by half a cent for four years.
* Allocate 89 percent of these temporary tax revenues to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges.

Senenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, spoke to the thousands of protestors and outlined his goals:

1. Removing “Republican obstructionists” who were able last year to block the majority vote preventing passage of Brown’s state budget, which included tax increases. They blocked the tax increases even after voters passed Proposition 25 in 2010, a measure that allowed a majority vote of the Legislature instead of the previous two-thirds vote requirement in favor of the budget. Democrats were unable to get the budget passed without Republican help in 2011 because of the tax increases within it.

2. “Chant in November to pass the revenue measure,” Steinberg said.

3. Steinberg asked students to support Assembly Speaker John Perez’s AB 1500 and AB 1501 “to end tax loopholes for billionaires,” thereby funding a “two-thirds savings” on college tuition for middle class students. There was no talk about the more than 50 percent of California college students who already do not pay for school at the state’s public colleges and universities, or the dropout rate of 50 percent of first-year college students.

4. Affordable textbooks. This is where Steinberg and I will mostly agree, since the college textbook scam has a long and profitable history for the professor-authors. “A statistics textbook should not cost $240,” Steinberg said. And to end this high cost,  Steinberg said that he has introduced  SB 1052 and SB 1053, which are supposed to address this problem. Steinberg said that textbooks should cost $20 or less.

But the bills would add provisions to the Donahoe Higher Education Act to establish a new California Open Education Resources Council of nine members, including three faculty members from each of the public postsecondary segments, selected by the respective faculty senates of each segment. It’s just another state commission, but this one is for the CTA.

Signs were everywhere demanding a free education:









A large group was wearing t-shirts that read, “Education is the key — give us the key to set us free.”

And, of course, the purple-shirted State Employees International Union members were en masse. I even saw SEIU jackets on tough-looking guys.

What’s a Protest Without Police Action?

There was a minor dust-up between police and a bicyclist, when police asked the guy to not ride through the crowd. Predictably, he yelled at police, demanding rights and insisting that it wasn’t illegal to ride a bike at the Capitol. I had seen this guy earlier with a group of militant bicyclists, identified with matching t-shirts. They weren’t there for the education rally.

It got interesting when a loudmouth guy with a bullhorn started calling the police names. “Get those animals off those horses,” the bullhorn guy and his group screamed at the mounted police.

When another police officer asked him to stop yelling obscenities, he didn’t react well. “You’re protecting the people who f*****d us over,” he screamed, obviously a little tightly wound.

While there were many police officers present, they were mostly in the background or on the periphery of the Capitol. It was protestors, like the bullhorn guy, who went out of their way to goad the police.

Bullhorn fellow tried to gin up his group by bringing up the Occupy Oakland protests. Instead of engaging, some of his group walked away. “Five hundred years of oppression, and look where it’s got us,” said a black protestor who had been hanging out with bullhorn guy’s group.

As noon neared, most of the students left the Capitol and filled up local restaurants. Protest leaders remained, and headed into the Capitol for meetings.

Related Articles

Why biz leaders don't change politics

Given all the business talent in America, you would think we could promote some of those pros to the top

VIDEO: Dinesh D’Souza: A World Without America

What would the world look like if the spirit of 1776 hadn’t shaped the West? Filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza talks to

Hillary Clinton moves to consolidate support of CA Dems

Sensing an opportunity to shore up her base and fuel a resurgence, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has moved swiftly to consolidate