Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Urges Higher Taxes, Science/Math Priority

FireShot Screen Capture #013 - 'Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Urges Higher Taxes, Science_Math Priority - Government - Imperial Beach, CA Patch' - imperialbeach_patch_com_groups_politics-and-elections_p_abdul-jabbar-at-educatioThis story was reported for Patch on Oct. 16, 2012.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t mention tax and education measures on the Nov. 6 ballot at a San Diego appearance Monday but left no doubt which side deserved an assist.

“We have to pay more taxes,” he told the California STEM Learning Network Summit at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel—with STEM standing for science, technology, engineering and math.

The NBA legend and sometimes actor noted he didn’t want to get “political.” But he wasn’t shy about the question of education funding for arts vs. sciences.

Science, math and engineering should be favored, the 7-foot-2 former star center told the event, which featured the work of 40 California students and aimed to bring together business, government, education, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to drive education.

Read the full story on Patch.com or click on the picture to the right.

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1,200 marchers protest against budget cuts at Schwarzenegger’s office

This story was reported for the San Diego News Network on March 4, 2010.

See original copy of story.

A daylong effort against budget cuts led by student organizers throughout the San Diego region concluded with about 1,200 protesters gathering outside Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s San Diego office late Thursday afternoon.

Labeled the “Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education,” the protests led by students at UC San Diego, SDSU, City College and others expressed anger against the state government and the millions of dollars cut to the education system in the past months.

“Education is a fundamental right and we’re standing up for it now,” said City College student Wayne Sherra, who led the group of protesters. “We are united today against the politicians and the cuts to education. We’re not taking it… we’re saying no more.”

Similar protests were seen statewide across various college campuses which concluded at different civic offices in their regions. Though individual marches began Thursday morning at UCSD, SDSU and City College, the groups congregated at Balboa Park in the evening and marched to Schwarzenegger’s office downtown. The gathering sparked plenty of attention from onlookers and forced an increased San Diego Police Department presence.

Students from the private University of San Diego, Lincoln High School and Monarch School were also present at the march.

“This is just the beginning of a far reaching and diverse mobilization effort and there is no question that the connections made today will solidify the power of this movement,” said City College political science professor Larissa Dorman, whose students held another rally at the Governor’s office in January.

Holding posters, banging drums and screaming in air horns, the protesters chanted various phrases including “Real pain; real action” and “Cut that; fight back.”

Monarch student D’Angelo Burton, 14 years old, participated in the march. He said the budget cuts have affected him despite the fact that he has four years until college.

“I don’t know which college I want to go to yet, but I do know that the budget cuts could hurt my chances and I want to have choices,” he said.

Students began protesting heavily last year after campuses saw a series of million-dollar cuts which forced administrators to raise tuition and fees and cut classes and teachers.

In previous statements, Schwarzenegger’s office said he understood the frustration felt among students but that the state can “only spend what it has.”

Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network.

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Hundreds of students march, protest against California budget cuts

This story was reported for the San Diego News Network on March 4, 2010.

See original copy of story.

Hundreds of San Diego college students took part in a protest against state budget cuts to higher education Thursday.

Making another attempt to have their voices heard by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State Legislature– students at San Diego State University, City College and UC San Diego joined thousands of California collegians in expressing their anger once again.

“We hope that we can get the message to anyone out there who is listening,” said SDSU sociology graduate student Paulo Camacho. “It is a statewide rally so maybe the Governor will listen this time.”

Statewide student rallies began last fall when 800 students, workers and teachers signed a resolution at UC Berkeley’s Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. Membership grew as 32 colleges and universities agreed to participate in the March 4 rally, dubbed “Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education,” according to its official Web site. The date was chosen to coincide with the National Day for Public Action.

Organizers said they have a list of demands for Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers including: free public education from preschool through graduate school; outlawing charter schools; stopping what they call “union busting,” and restoring cuts and expanding “vital” public programs.

Protestors expressed optimism that the statewide scope of the gathering would yield results.

“Schools across California are all participating in today’s protest. I think it’s really helping to get our voices heard,” said Debora Santos, a senior sociology major at SDSU, where over 200 people participated in the march.

Santos, who said she had to move back in with her parents because of the increase in tuition and fees this school year, said the entire higher education system has been an “inconvenience.”

Lori Stewart, a professor of religious studies at SDSU, said she chose to march alongside the students to show support for their cause.

Stewart said her salary was cut and she now works fewer hours because of the budget crisis. But she has just as much work as before because of the stress that students are now facing, she said.

“Classes have been reduced but I still have 80 students per class,” she said. “It’s not a lot but when you have 120 crashers asking you if they can be in your class, it’s hard to turn them away. My students are involved in an education system that is working against them.”

The City College campus saw just as much anger against the state government Thursday as hundreds gathered in front of the school’s cafeteria.

One student encouraged her peers to respond to lawmakers by saying, “f- that” the next time they say, “cut that.”

Rene Vera, who said he has participated in numerous protests in past months, said it’s been difficult for him to get into the classes he needs even though he’s attended City College for four years now. Vera said though morale may be down given the frequency of protests, today’s statewide effort would “definitely make a difference.”

Perhaps the most anger and frustration found among California students was found at UC San Diego as protesters tied in racism and prejudice, claiming that budget cuts would hurt minority students most.

More than 300 students, along with some faculty and staff members, marched through the center of the UCSD campus, which has been rocked by several recent racially charged incidents.

The students chanted as they marched, banged on drums and carried signs that read “Equal Access, Equal Rights,” and “Public Service is not Public Plunder.”

The news conference was hosted by the UCSD Faculty Coalition, the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice and a union that represents many University of California system employees.

Earlier Thursday, the Black Student Union held a rally outside the offices of Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

“Racism has gone unchecked for so long (that) UCSD’s continued failure to act has resulted in promoting the bigotry behind the recent events,” Mohamad Raad told the more than 200 people in attendance.

Racial tensions on campus were inflamed last month when a party dubbed the “Compton Cookout” was held during Black History Month. More recently, a female student left a noose in the seventh floor of the Geisel Library, and someone placed a white pillowcase crudely fashioned into a Ku Klux Klan-style hood on a campus statue.

“Under-represented groups have long felt unwelcome at UCSD,” said Raad, a fourth-year medical student.

Students began protesting heavily last year after campuses saw a series of million-dollar cuts which forced administrators to raise tuition and fees and cut classes and teachers.

In previous statements, Schwarzenegger’s office said he understood the frustration felt among students but that the state can “only spend what it has.”

The statewide protest will end Thursday evening in different civic centers throughout California’s major cities.

Check SDNN later for more coverage of the rally that is expected to end at Schwarzenegger’s San Diego office Thursday evening.

City News Service and Associated Press contributed to this report. Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network.

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Community college students present ‘demands’ to Schwarzenegger

This story was reported for San Diego News Network on January 4, 2010.

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San Diego City College students protested at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s San Diego office Monday – demanding changes to the state’s budget to offset the cuts made to higher education.

The students, who are also members of City College organization Bringing Education and Activism Together or BEAT, say they are faced with fewer classes for their buck and a longer road to graduation because of the millions cut to the California Community College system.

About 30 students gathered outside of the state office Monday evening seizing signs that read statements such as, “Don’t ruin our future” and “Return California’s education system.” The rally was a conclusion to a day-long dissent of the Governor after nine students occupied Schwarzenegger’s lobby in the morning hours. The nine students, who say they felt “placated” by the Governor’s representatives, had three students speak via telephone with Schwarzenegger’s Director of External Affairs Bismarck Obando. Schwarzenegger, however, was not available to speak.

“They just want to make their presence and concerns known,” said BEAT faculty advisor and political science professor Larissa Dorman. “The cuts are happening because of the two-thirds majority vote required in the Legislature and the fact that a third of the lawmakers are neo-liberals, pure capitalists, who believe education should just be thrown away.”

The students demanded that the Governor fulfill or, at the least, consider three requirements:

1) Eliminate the requirement in the State Legislature that stalls fiscal related bills and tax increases without a two-thirds majority vote.

2) Apply an oil severance tax for companies extracting oil in California.

3) Increase taxes by 10 percent for those earning $250,000 and 11 percent for those earning $500,000.

The students, who were accompanied by Dorman and later, City College’s Dean of Students Denise Whisenhunt, said if those demands are met – more funding would be available for California’s future – or in other words — public education.

“We told him [Obando] our demands and pretty much, he was in opposition to all of it,” said City College history major Jose Rodriguez. “Without public education, we will not be able to have a future…. We deserve better.”

Due to a peak in California’s deficit at the start of the recession, state legislators chose to make a budget cut to the California Community College system of $850 million for the combined school years of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The budget cut forced Community College administrators to reduce the faculty by 30 to 40 percent, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Additionally, students saw a tuition increase of $4 dollars per unit, which administrators hope to bring in at least $80 million in revenue for campuses. A student typically takes around 12 units a semester.

The $4 per unit is a hard hit to students say protest attendees, who chose Monday because it would have been the start of intersession classes had the funding to the school not been cut.

Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Ortiz, a history major, said it’s a two-fold hit to students. They’re faced with increased costs and a limited selection of classes.

“The classes are really hard to get into and tuition has gone up,” he said. “So you’re paying more for less. ”

Ortiz, who said he’s receiving aid from his parents at the moment, said he’ll probably be “badly in debt” by the time he graduates and estimates that it make take an extra two years to receive his degree.

Political science major Crystal Browning, 27, also said it would take her an estimated two more years to transfer to, what she hopes, will be UC Berkeley. Browning, who was one of nine students to occupy the building and to speak to Obando, said she felt dismissed by the Governor’s representatives.

“They were nice but if you looked at their body language, it showed that they were really pissed off that nine students were there,” Browning said. “And, it’s crazy to think that nine students would require two cops with full on gear.”

According to the students, after they had entered the building – two California Highway Patrol officers were called to the Governor’s office. However, according to the Governor’s office – CHP officers are staffed at the state’s office and their presence was not abnormal. Media representatives were not allowed to enter Schwarzenegger’s office.

Despite what the students say was a dismissal by Schwarzenegger’s office, spokesperson Andrea McCarthy said their thoughts will be addressed after Obando listened to them for 45 minutes.

“Their concerns were taken down and they will be considered,” McCarthy said. “But when it comes to these sorts of cuts, the Governor understands how the students feel; but he also knows that the state can only spend what it has — it’s an economic reality.”

However, if the Governor does not address their concerns — Browning told protestors they would find other ways.

“Hopefully they’ll listen,” she said. “If not, we’ll find another avenue to have our voices heard.”

Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network.

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Protestors against education cuts gather at SDSU campus

This story was reported for San Diego News Network on August 31, 2009.

See original copy of story.

San Diego State University students returned to school Monday with 2,000 fewer peers and in the words of former professor Gean Lamke, they are “madder than hell.”

SDSU leaders gathered together alongside thousands of students to rally against California legislators and cuts they’ve made to education. Lamke was emcee of the event.

As part of the Big 5 budget agreement passed by state lawmakers in July, the California State University system saw a $600 million cut in funding with about $55 million hitting SDSU. Campus leaders say though, $35 million may become a permanent reduction and they’re protesting against it.

SDSU president Stephen Weber, alongside Associated Students president Tyler Boden and others, spoke against the cuts as thousands of students cheered them on. The two asked students and education advocates to write to legislators and “fight” for education.

Weber said over 2,000 SDSU applicants were rejected because of the budget cuts despite being qualified to join the school. In the CSU system, about 44,000 students were rejected.

“We are at a critical crossroads,” Weber said. “California slammed the door on them and their own future.”

He said the university has about 650 fewer faculty and staff members compared to what they had a year ago.

“The faculty (left) are being furloughed which means less compensation for those who are already underpaid,” Weber said.

The students who attended the rally were given an opportunity to sign banners and petitions to be sent to state lawmakers. In addition, a “Vent Tent” was available for rally-goers to record a video message to also be sent to legislators.

Two students, who said they will sign the petitions, were frustrated about the cuts.

Patrick Schultz, a junior majoring in business, said he will most likely graduate two semesters later than expected because of the decreased number of classes.

“I was dropped from my classes because I usually pay later in the school year but they had to give (classes) to students who paid first,” he said. “It’s pretty sad.”

His friend, Sarah Bonde, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she was confused as to where the California money was going. She said she didn’t understand why she had to pay more for her classes while teachers were getting paid less.

“Where’s all they money going?” Bonde asked.

Jill Singer also expressed her concern during the rally, stating her daughter, Jacklyn, an SDSU student, would now be hurt by the cuts. She also asked that current students think about those who were not admitted due to the decrease in the size of the incoming freshman class.

“Two-thousand students were told this year they would not be freshmen at SDSU,” she said. “Think about how you would have felt if you received that rejection letter.”

Other rally attendees included SDSU senate chair Edith Benkov, SDSU Labor Councils representative Mark Wheeler and staff member Jose Preciado.

SDSU is home to about 34,500 students, while 417,112 students attend the California State University system.

Singer asked that those 34,500 students stand up for their university.

“Take two minutes to tweet, instant message, whatever the heck you do and send it to your state legislator and say you will not sacrifice your future,” Singer said. “The cuts are going to write your personal history, don’t let that happen.”

Hoa Quach is the political editor for the San Diego News Network.

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