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California Briefing / California

Rallies protest layoff notices for teachers

March 14, 2009|Seema Mehta

Jennifer Fitts is in her second year teaching first grade at Oliveira Elementary School in the Bay Area city of Fremont. And it's the second year the 24-year-old has received a layoff warning because of state budget cuts.

"I hate this time of year," said Fitts, who is among more than 300 teachers to receive pink slips in the Fremont Unified School District. "I never thought that being a teacher, it would be so uncertain."

Fitts was among hundreds of teachers, parents and children marching through downtown Fremont on Friday, one of more than 100 "Pink Friday" protests that unfolded across the state, with students walking out of classes, teachers donning pink clothing and unions holding rallies.

Under state law, teachers must be warned by March 15 if they face layoff. Nearly 27,000 pink slips, including 5,500 in Los Angeles Unified, were issued by Friday, the last business day before the deadline.

At John C. Fremont Senior High School in South Los Angeles, more than 1,000 students left after first period, many chanting "Strike!" as they poured into the quad to protest layoffs that they fear will worsen classroom overcrowding, decrease the number of Advanced Placement courses and increase the dropout rate.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the governor tried to protect education during trying economic times.

"In the face of the state's $42-billion budget deficit, the governor went to extraordinary lengths to ensure California schools were given increased spending flexibility so they can prioritize their spending on what they need most during this national economic downturn," said Camille Anderson.

-- Seema Mehta

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