Stop the cuts to youth funding

May 24, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO--A multiracial group of 150 adults, teens and kids marched to City Hall for a rally and press conference on May 20 to protest proposed cuts to city-funded youth services.

The march and rally were called by the Mission Community Peace Collaborative, in conjunction with city agencies whose budgets are on the chopping block. The demands of the action were simple: "Don't Cut Youth Funds," a play on the name of the threatened Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF).

The handmade signs and banners that protesters carried called for saving DCYF health, employment and violence-prevention services by cutting wasteful city spending--in particular, bloated administrators' salaries--and instituting a progressive tax system, where the rich and corporations would be forced to pay their fair share.

Theresa Alvarez, a local family and community organizer, and a member of the Mission Community Peace Collaborative, expressed frustration at how budget cuts always fall on the backs of working families and youth, while the city and state spend millions on highly paid bureaucrats and do not tax corporations appropriately.

Explaining why she was part of building the demonstration, she said, "We want to protest and protect the vital family services in San Francisco and stand up against wasteful spending."

The fliers organizers handed out to passersby featured statistics that crystallize how bad the situation is, and how turned around city priorities are. For example, the San Francisco Unified School District pays $3.9 million annually to house cops in San Francisco schools--while voting on May 10 to serve layoff notices to 357 teachers.

And the $4.3 million in overtime paid to 52 police department employees whose base salary is already over $200,000 annually could stop all proposed DCYF cuts, save summer school for K-12 students for the next three years, or create jobs for almost 100 long-term unemployed parents in the Bayview, an impoverished, largely Black, neighborhood in San Francisco.

California is the world's eighth-largest economy. The money is there to support working families and youth, if only there were the political will to raise it. Kids should not have to fight for funding for their health, safety and education.

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