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April 21, 2010 > Make your voice heard for education

Make your voice heard for education

By Dave Cortese

Spring is here, the birds are singing and our allergies are re-awakening. For most of you, that means that the summer break is almost here and your children will be out of school and off playing with their friends. However, for elected officials such as myself, the beginning of summer is when we must make the difficult decisions needed to balance the budget. Here at Santa Clara County, we are facing at a minimum, $250M in cuts, but that is not all that scares me; our schools, the future of our children, face millions of dollars in cuts.

Last year, when I took a group of more 100 local residents up to Sacramento to lobby for school funding, the concern was that sports, art and music and other enrichment programs would be cut to save money. However, this year, the situation has become even more dire. As the State tries to balance its budget, school districts are sending out layoff notices and proposals being made to increase class sizes. I have been told many of our local schools are being forced to increase their class sizes to 30 students or more. As a former school board trustee, I know first-hand how important it is to maintain appropriate class sizes so our wonderful teachers can ensure all students receive quality education.

With that in mind, I would like to invite you to participate in this year's 8th Annual Sacramento Bus Trip, co-sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and join me in personally speaking with our state legislators to remind them how important it is to maintain school funding for our children's future. If your child is in a public school, if you work in a public school, or even just know a parent or child in the public school system, I urge you to make your voice heard in Sacramento.

Last year we were joined by more than 100 people, including 10 youth from the East Side Union High School District. Their heartfelt pleas to protect our schools from the devastating cuts were painful to hear but very important because it gave the state legislators direct and personal insight into our needs locally in Santa Clara County.

This year's trip will take place on Monday, May 17 and, as in years past, there is no cost to participate. We shall board the bus at 6 a.m. from a location in San Jose and once we arrive in Sacramento, we shall gather in a committee room in the State Capitol Building for a series of intense discussions with Assembly Members and Senators. Lunch will be FREE and attendees will be fully briefed on the topics for the day.

As an added encouragement, we will offer a "participating organization" status to any community group that pledges to send five or more members on the bus trip. Participating organizations will be featured on all trip literature and in our correspondence to the legislators.

Furthermore, this year, we are adding a whole new dimension by hosting a pre-bus trip Educational Summit to discuss issues related to state budgeting for education and the impact funding reductions have had on our schools. This summit is for both those who will be taking the bus to Sacramento and also for those who cannot attend the bus trip but would still like to make themselves heard by creating a foundation for our discussions in Sacramento. The Educational Summit will take place on May 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Isaac Newton Center Auditorium at the County Government Center and I hope you will consider attending.

I look forward to another successful trip which will make a difference for our schools. Besides making our concerns known to our state delegation, this trip is an excellent opportunity for residents to establish relationships with the state's elected leadership and with fellow education supporters from around the county. I truly believe we must ensure our schools provide our children the best possible education so they can grow up to be our future leaders. I encourage you to join me in that mission and board the bus to Sacramento.

Educational Summit
Thursday May 13
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Isaac Newton Center Auditorium at the County Government Center
70 West Hedding St., San Jose
(408) 299-5500

Sacramento Bus Trip
Monday, May 17 RSVP
(408) 299-5030

Dave Cortese
(408) 299-5030

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