High School, Community College Students Rally Before Arrival of UC Berkeley Activists

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OAKLAND-Students from high schools and community colleges throughout the East Bay congregated in Frank Ogawa Plaza outside Oakland City Hall in support of the March 4 Statewide Day of Action.

Students marched down Broadway Avenue, arriving in front of Oakland City Hall around noon. Many chanted loudly "No cuts, no fees, education should be free!" as well as carrying signs protesting the current state budget crisis and its effects on public education system.

Kimberly Guzman, a junior at Fremont High School, addressed the crowd first, stating how budget woes may be affecting her future.

"We already have about thirty students in every of our classes and with cuts there will be forty or more," said Guzman. "It makes its really hard for students to learn and for teachers to teach. How can they expect us to learn?"

Many of those who marched said prisons and bank bailouts have taken precedence over funding education.

Jack Gerson, a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District and an organizer for the March 4 protest in Oakland, said that rather than allowing the education system to be supported by low-income and working-class individuals and students, the state should focus on having banks and corporations support higher education.

"We should be the ones who are bailed out, not the banks," said Gerson. "We should stop having to pay for Wall Street's blunders. We need quality education, and people just aren't going to take these cuts anymore."

In addition to high school students' speeches, students from community colleges also spoke out about their own problems as they face increased cuts from the state.

Jevon Cochran, a sophomore at Laney College, said to the crowd that since while budget cuts have been well publicized, today's events show the rest of the state that students think it is time to move forward with solutions.

"The long lines at the financial aid office are just a small window into the overall issues we are facing," he said. "Yes, no one is getting financial aid. But we are using that as a reason for today. We want solutions. We want answers."

Cochran added that the March 4 protests illustrate the dedication of the entire higher education community. The protests also show just how much budget cuts have permeated, noting the strong support from high school students and teachers at the rally.

"What we want to do is bring all the protests and uprising that happened last semester and at the beginning of this semester into one coordinated day of action that can express unity and can express the fact that we are a movement," he said. "This is a movement. We are sending a message that we won't stop until our demands are met. When we say free public education, we mean it."

Judi Bank, a grandmother who has resided in Oakland for more than forty years, said she came out to show support for her family and for the city which she said has seen severe hits from the lack of educational funding.

"All of my children went to school in Oakland and then went onto graduate from the UC system," she said. "It used to be a privilege to send your kids to public school in Oakland. Now, people are looking to send their kids to school anywhere but Oakland."

Gabby Fastiggi of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Tags: OAKLAND, MARCH 4 DAY OF ACTION, FRANK OGAWA PLAZA


Contact Katie Nelson at [email protected]



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