It has become a yearly ritual. To balance the state budget, Sacramento announces big cuts to public education. Our local school districts threaten to lay off teachers and eliminate programs. Then money gets moved around and the crisis is averted and our kids go back to school in the fall. Ho hum, another year, another education disaster averted.

Well, wake up, San Diego. The state’s budget crisis is real, and the politicians have targeted public education as a way to solve their financial mess.

Why no accounting magic to save our schools this time? Just look at the numbers. Since 2004 over $300 million has been cut from the San Diego district budget. Now, the state has proposed cutting over $120 million for 2011-2012. There’s no fat left, so we’re going to lose bone: school counselors and nurses eliminated; school libraries closed; magnet programs closed; school athletics eliminated; visual and performing arts slashed; gifted programs eliminated; vastly increased class sizes. The list goes on and on.

I say enough is enough. It’s time our elected officials got the message: no more cuts to public education!

This Saturday, May 8 at 10am, a rally is going to be held at Sixth and Laurel in Balboa Park. Thousands are gathering with one clear message: no more education cuts. It’s organized by Educate for the Future, a nonpartisan, grassroots group of parents, students, teachers, principals and concerned citizens all dedicated to supporting public education in California.

What good does a rally do? It sends a clear message to politicians that if they want to keep their jobs, they have to stop these cuts. No more lip service about how they “support public education.” We want accountability. We are joining together and demanding real solutions.

I don’t have the answers to the state budget crisis. Our politicians got us into this mess, and I think they need to get us out of it. Whether it means increasing revenues, cutting other services, closing tax loopholes — I don’t know. What I do know is that we elect and pay the salaries of these people so they will properly manage our state. And now it’s time they make the hard decisions, without hurting OUR kids and OUR schools.

I’m the father of a 14 year-old student at San Diego High. My entire family benefited from public education. My father earned his Ph.D. under the GI Bill and was a psychologist. My sister is a neurobiologist who earned her doctorate at a public university, and just received a Guggenheim grant to conduct potentially life-saving research at a public university. My brother is a licensed architect thanks to public education. And I earned my masters degree at SDSU and run my own company.

I want my daughter to have the same opportunities my family did. I want her to be properly prepared for her career and for life. I don’t want her to suffer through endless cuts to the most vital educational services. No school libraries? Packed classrooms of standing room only? No counselors or nurses? No athletic programs or performing arts programs? This is not what her education should look like!

If you value your own experiences with public education … if you are angry that our politicians are not solving this budget mess … then join us at Sixth and Laurel on Saturday. Demand that our elected officials develop real solutions that provide California’s children with the quality education they need … and the future our county and state deserve.

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