Under a bright blue sky, I joined my daughter and her elementary school, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, in a walkout today to protest the planned massive and catastrophic budget cuts to an already fairly impoverished city school district. Over the next few days we expect many of the people who work at her school to receive pink slips. District-wide, over 900 people expect to be notified that they will be laid off.
People are marching around the country today to bring attention to the crisis in educational funding of all kinds — but in our community, the kids said it best.
We rallied in the schoolyard before we marched through the neighborhood. I spoke to some of the teachers and staff, who expressed not so much a (very real) fear for their own jobs as much as pride, admiration, and support for the kids. “It’s not about the adults; it’s about the kids that are going to be affected in the long run… We’re losing good teachers… which means we’re losing our children, the future,” said Coach Glenn Castro.
The kids had all made signs — my girl’s said “Save our schools; love, lucy.” Others demanded to “Prioritize education” or begged “Please don’t take our teachers away.”Principal Christina Velasco banged the drum to the chorus of “Save our Schools” as we marched up Castro street, blocking traffic and getting a lot of cheers from the community. At Castro and Market Ms. Velasco led the group into a passionate sit-in:
“Today as you sit you’re sitting for your education — for your future. We need to let everyone know that it’s not ok that they’re cutting money and those cuts affect you.”
Some kids got up during the sit-in to address the crowd — and I can attest that there’s no passion quite like the passion of our community’s children. Andre said “Our teachers are our future and I don’t want to lose ANY of them!” People in the crowd were in tears as another student got up to talk about how he didn’t want to lose his teachers. “I don’t want to end up on the streets like other people,” he said.
These kids truly are our leaders. The truth they speak is pure and strong — and urgent. Are we listening?