San Francisco March Against Education Budget Cuts

Cesar Chavez Elementary School parent and student get ready to march in the day's protest

By Vanessa Bohm

The voices of elementary school children chanting with excitement caught the attention of business owners, employees, and store customers, who stepped outside to see the commotion as children walked down Mission Street in San Francisco’s Mission District on Thursday, March 4th. They and their parents were heading towards the heart of the historically Latino neighborhood to meet other elementary, middle, and high schoolers, college and university students, for a state-wide day of action against budget cuts that have heavily impacted educational institutions in California.

Child carries sign as they walk down Mission Street in San Francisco

Students held up signs reading “S.O.S. – Save Our Schools” and “Books Not Bars” as they weaved through the city’s streets on their way to San Francisco’s City Hall, where the main rally was to take place and where protesters hoped to make an impression on city officials with a sizeable show of discontent around reductions in education spending.

Teachers, unions, and community-based organizations also joined students and parents to demand alternative solutions to fund the state’s substantial budget deficit of over 20 billion dollars. Some of the suggestions included new revenue sources and the increasing of taxes for the wealthy at a local level, while others called for an end to the nation’s military spending.

Community-based organization La Raza Centro Legal marches in solidarity against budget cuts to education

Over 5,000 people by some estimates and nearly 10,000 by others participated in the San Francisco march to reverse budget cuts that have led to reduced educational services, classes, faculty pay, and tuition hikes by 32% in schools across California.

Protester holds up sign reading "Save Our Future"

A strong presence of Latino community members was evident as chants and rally cries were echoed in both English and Spanish. The familiar Spanish chant of “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido” or “The people united will never be defeated” was repeated frequently throughout the march. Feeling the weight of budget cuts to social services and education, Latinos have mobilized against reductions in spending arguing that the Latino community and other communities of color, along with low-income families, are disproportionately affected by the cuts.

Thursday’s march was the biggest gathering of protestors San Francisco has seen in the last several years and hopes were high that the strong turnout was a sign of a burgeoning movement against the effects of the state’s economic crisis on education. Some also hoped that the mobilizing issue of education would also open the door to include struggles around other social justices issues.

Parent holds up sign during protest against budget cuts

Gigantic "Death of Education" with a robe reading "Still Paying My Student Loan", makes it way through the march

Elementary School children lead March 4th protest against budget cuts in San Francisco

Protesters wave signs during march against education budget cuts in San Francisco

Young boy fights wind as he marches with a sign reading "Save Our Schools"

A little boy from the San Francisco Community School marches as he holds both his parent's hands

Man holds up sign reading "Education is a Right Not a Privilege" during protest

Poster is hung up on the door of San Francisco's City Hall as protesters take-over the building's main steps

Young children at Longfellow Elementary School do their best to hold up a large banner during the march

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~ by vanessabohm on March 5, 2010.

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