Berkeley educators lobby for funding, charter accountability at Sacramento rally

Matthew Meyer/Courtesy

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More than 750 people from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, or BFT, and Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, joined other California educators in Sacramento on Wednesday to lobby for charter accountability measures and to show support for greater funding for education.

Their effort was a part of the Red for Ed Day of Action, which was organized by the California Teachers Association, or CTA. The event involved lobbying, marching and entertainment.

“It was inspiring to be in the State Capitol with teachers, staff and board members from across the state demanding full and fair funding for public education,” BUSD board director Julie Sinai said in an email. “Each and every district in the State is struggling to keep pace with the cost of quality education and it’s our students and staff that pay the price.”

The teachers advocated for four bills, one of which passed in the state Assembly with a vote of 44-19, with 17 abstentions. The passed measure, called AB 1505, mandates a local curriculum for charter schools.

According to BFT Organizing Team member Dustin Patenaude, the chanting of the teachers outside the Assembly floor could be heard within the walls of the chamber. He added that he felt that the event was successful and that he and his colleagues made a difference.

The event reduced the number of staff and teachers the district had for the day, which it compensated for by asking parents to keep their children home and having other staff members fill in at the schools to act as supervision, according to BUSD spokesperson Charles Burress. Superintendent Donald Evans said he filled in for a third grade class Wednesday.

“We strongly support the call for more state funding for public education, and at the same time, we cannot close our schools and leave many students and families without options,” the district said in a districtwide email.

According to BFT Vice President Matt Meyer, the union plans to continue to advocate for political measures. According to Patenaude, BFT also has future lobbying days planned.

Patenaude added that the fight for increased state funding is not over and that he looks forward to continuing to advocate for change.

“(The) California economy ranks 5th in the world, we should be ashamed that we rank 41st in per pupil spending in the country,” Sinai said in an email. “We have to act now.”

Contact Katherine Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.