Pershing Square Packed on National Day of Protest

Edgar Sanchez

The streets roared as thousands of protesters, including some from Glendale College, gathered near Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles on March 4 to protest the recent education cutbacks, higher fees and elimination of school programs.

An estimated 2,000 protesters began to rally around 3 p.m. They began their march on Hill Street chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho! Budget cuts have got to go!” Protesters marched to the governor’s district office in the Ronald Reagan Building.

Gov. Schwarzenegger may not have been on hand but if he were he would have heard 19-year-old Taylor Bloom from Susan Miller High School say, “We don’t want minimum wage jobs like flipping burgers, we want to go to college, but how can we go to college when they increased the cost by 30 percent?”

Several students, teachers and community activists spoke at the rally, from students angry about high fees to teachers who had been laid-off or were challenging increased class sizes.

Aliyah Moran, a teacher at Manual Arts Senior High School and a member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles said, “I was inspired to become an educator, having committed teachers who believed in me.”

“As a new teacher my goal is too inspire my students to reach their educational goals, but we need to give them that opportunity to actually reach them. How are we going to do this? By fighting back, once again. I want them to know that even if they face challenges they need to stand up and demand their educational rights.”

“Cut the bull, not the budget,” said Luz Porhon, who works for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and represents the Academic Professionals of California union.
A program endangered by cutbacks, the EOP works with the California State University system to serve low-income and educationally disadvantaged students.

Kelsey Rechetnik, a Cal Poly Pomona English literature major, was moved to protest over steep tuition increases. “Tuition was $900 and has risen to $1,600,” she said.
GCC student Susie Sanchez said, “High tuition fees and the cost of books has me unable to attend college this semester.”

The rally was mainly organized by labor unions and student government leaders. Some of the main organizers of this rally were the California School Employee Association, United Teachers Association and the United Auto Workers.

As the day ended on this educational protest rally, demonstrators left saying, “Education is a right, not a privilege.”