South Tahoe teachers protest in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO - The signs were being made while the school bus cruised past Folsom, Calif.:

"Don't erase public education."

"Maria would you do this to your own children?"

"Arnold go back to Hollywood, you're an OK actor but lousy governor."

Armed with the signs and a hearty distaste for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed education cuts, a contingent of 18 teachers, parents and two students from South Lake Tahoe hopped on the yellow bus to join thousands of protesters on the trimmed capital lawn Wednesday afternoon in sweltering valley heat.

"Now that he's (angered) everyone I think we have a chance," said Jodi Dayberry, a vice president with the South Lake Tahoe teachers' union, during the bus trip.

Estimates ranged from 5,000 to 25,000 people at the protest, with the official estimate around 10,000 people, the largest in Schwarzenegger's tenure.

Anger has flared from Schwarzenegger's budget proposals and ballot initiatives he's targeting for a November special election, which he has until mid-June to declare. Included are plans to tinker with employee pensions and not fulfill education money many feel is owed under Proposition 98, which guarantees 40 percent of the state budget is given to education.

Schools gave up half of a $4 billion increase in funding to help Schwarzenegger address the state's budget deficit. In return, the governor promised to return the money over time and protect education from any future suspension of Proposition 98.

At issue in the current dispute is whether Schwarzenegger also agreed to increase funding to schools if the state's fiscal condition improved. It has, generating billions of additional dollars for the state. But Schwarzenegger has proposed using that extra money to pay down the state's debt and to fund long-delayed transportation projects across the state.

"Education should be seen as an investment and not a cost because what happens is when you invest in education you grow businesses, you grow communities and you strengthen a society," said Tahoe parent Norma Santiago.

n The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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