Berkeley students march to protest public education cuts

Protesters march down Telegraph Avenue this afternoon in Berkeley: Photo: Pete Rosos

Hundreds of students in Berkeley took part in protests Thursday against cuts to public education.

On campus, a Day of Action at UC Berkeley began with teach-outs and protesters wrapping California Hall in caution tape. Many Cal students marched to Oakland to join other protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza from where a march on Sacramento is set to depart.

Several hundred Berkeley High students left campus at 2:40 pm and converged on Old City Hall on MLK Jr Way. There they listened to performers and speakers. There were chants, including ones calling for money for schools and against wars. Some students were dancing.

Berkeley High students walked off campus and gathered outside Old City Hall to join the anti-cuts protest. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The BHS students joined the demonstration despite a statement from BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi issued yesterday stating that unexcused absences were not allowed. He wrote: “BHS sees the initiative, activism, and consciousness of our students as qualities far preferable to the apathy and indifference sometimes exhibited by young people where social and political issues are concerned, and while we can celebrate that spirit of activism, and agree in principle to what they are demonstrating for, it is our charge as as an administrative team to see that students remain safe and encourage them to find the most productive and responsible ways to advocate for change during the school day.”

Julia Marlin, a Berkeley High student who participated in the Day of Action. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Today’s protests by Cal students, as well as demonstrations planned for March 5, were endorsed by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau in an email statement. According the Daily Cal, campus faculty groups — including the Berkeley Faculty Association and the campus division of the Academic Senate — have also publicized their support, stating that several faculty members will march from Richmond to Vallejo alongside demonstrators.

Protesters convened on Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Pete Rosos

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  • Kirstin Mandalay

    I think BHS Principal  Pasquale Scuderi meant that he agrees in *principle* with what high school students are protesting for, but he misspelled it as Principal, ironically. 

  • Kirstin, I guess he gets to write “principal” a lot during the course of the day, so that one just slipped in! We have changed it to “principle”.

  • The Sharkey

    Why not just call a spade a spade?

    99% of the several hundred kids at BHS who participated in this were probably just looking for a convenient excuse to ditch class.

  • I don’t know about that.  Probably a good 17% thought that it would be cool to post some random “Occupy XYZ” pics to their tumblr accounts.

  • Sue Tomasello

    Come on give them a break.  It’s just possible that they are sincere and for you to assume the worst it really negative.  I get so tired of hearing the same old tune around here.  Makes me want to scream.

  • Calicoastmarc

    I agree with Sue .. My HS daughter walked out and marched here in Pacifica and took the cut as I did not offer to excuse the absence.  I’m proud of her to be willing to serve the dentention for her convictions.  The kids that participated got a lot out of the experience.  And yes, there were those that left on their own to get an afternoon off.  As always, it takes all kinds.

  • Pete Rosos

    At the risk of making an “ass” out of “u” and “me,” I’m going to guess that you’re an adult who in their years of high school looked for every available opportunity to knock off from class. Bad thing? Not necessarily, and I’d be a hypocrite if I inferred my position as the model student during my high school days. Regardless of the students’ motivation, at least they’re participating in their right to assemble as apposed to just reading or talking about it in the classroom they find themselves for most of the rest of the year. One thing is for certain. High schoolers are extremely good at being loud and obnoxious, and a protest is a perfect place to channel such talents. You might be right about your particular 99% here, but if I’m not mistaken one of the goals of framing our laws the way they are is for the protection and inclusion of that 1% of BHS students who are smart enough to realize that if someone doesn’t speak up and voice their opinion, in all likelihood, everyone will be worse off. 

  • The Sharkey

     Based on the numbers of people that actually attended the rallies at Cal and in Oakland (as reported in the Oakland Tribune), fewer than 30% of the students who cut actually went to one of the marches/rallies.

  • The Sharkey

    I think I ditched class a total of one time during my High School career – on Senior Ditch Day. Don’t get me wrong, I loathed High School just as much as the next I’m-too-smart-to-be-here teenage know-it-all, but ditching class was one of those things I just didn’t do.

    For the kids who are participating, good for them. Occupy is a fairly juvenile movement in a lot of ways, but maybe some younger viewpoints can help them clarify their goals.

  • Bruce Love

    Several hundred Berkeley High students left campus at 2:40 pm and converged on Old City Hall on MLK Jr Way. There they listened to
    performers and speakers. There were chants, including ones calling
    for money for schools and against wars. Some students were dancing.

    Sounds like a rally to me.

    The separate Cal action started in the morning.  The Cal rally started at noon.  After the campus rally, the Cal march left Berkeley for Oakland before the BHS walkout was even scheduled to start.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I bet that 99% of the people who comment on berkeleyside are just looking for an excuse to waste time while they are at work. 

    They don’t really care about Berkeley issues at all.

  • Charles_Siegel

    There is an interesting article about this in today’s NY Times:

    Where the Jobs Are, the Training May Not Be

    As state funding has dwindled, public colleges have raised tuition and
    are now resorting to even more desperate measures — cutting training for
    jobs the economy needs most.

    Technical, engineering and health care expertise are among the few
    skills in huge demand even in today’s lackluster job market. They are
    also, unfortunately, some of the most expensive subjects to teach. As a
    result, state colleges in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and Texas have eliminated entire engineering and computer science departments.

    At one community college in North Carolina — a state with a severe nursing shortage — nursing program applicants so outnumber available slots that there is a waiting list just to get on the waiting list.

    This squeeze is one result of the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher
    education. During and immediately after the last few recessions, states
    slashed financing for colleges. Then when the economy recovered, most
    states never fully restored the money that had been cut. The recent
    recession has amplified the problem.

  • The Sharkey

     Do you include yourself in that 99%?  :-)

  • The Sharkey

    Point being, how many of them will actually take it to the next level rather than just ditching class for the afternoon?

  • Batard

    Says Sharky, who comments on 99% of the articles …