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Fight for our schools

March 29, 2002 | Page 11

Berkeley High School

By Jean Whittlesey, Berkeley Federation of Teachers

BERKELEY, Calif.--About 300 Berkeley High School students walked out of class March 6 to protest budget cuts.

The Berkeley Unified School District cut $3.8 million from its budget in its first attempt to make up for a shortfall of $6 million.

Chanting "We will not go quietly into the night, we will not give up without a fight," students confronted the new school superintendent Michelle Lawrence on the district headquarter steps.

The cuts will restructure the school day into six instead of seven periods, meaning fewer elective choices such as African American studies, music and art.

The esteemed science program will be cut in half, and 173 temporary and probationary teachers received pink slips March 6 and 7. This will mean larger class sizes, teachers being moved within the district to fill vacancies and further cutting of electives.

Students and teachers need to stand together against the Berkeley budget cutters.

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Stop the cuts at CUNY

By Lee Wengraf

NEW YORK--City University of New York (CUNY) students are gearing up to fight a new round of budget cuts.

About 50 demonstrators from Jobs with Justice, Student Liberation Action Movement, Al Sharpton's National Action Network and Borough of Manhattan Community College students and professors gathered at New York's City Hall March 22 to protest Gov. George Pataki's proposed cuts to the Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP). The plan will raise student costs by $2,000 over four years.

CUNY faculty had been working without a contract since August 2000, and reached a tentative agreement in early March--providing for a 9 percent increase in pay and benefits. But protesters demanded that raises for faculty not come at the expense of more costs for students.

When Mayor Mike Bloomberg happened to arrive during the protest, demonstrators surrounded him and demanded to know what steps he would take for CUNY. Scurrying up the steps, all the billionaire mayor could say was that his hands were tied on the state's budget.

We need to keep up the pressure so politicians like Bloomberg can't hide from the impact of their cuts.

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