schools.jpgEducators and students are continuing to rally across the Bay Area and state today to honor teachers and protest looming budget cuts to education.

The rallies, including one this afternoon in San Francisco, are part of a weeklong “state of emergency” declared by the California Teachers Association, which represents about 325,000 educators, librarians, social workers, and support staff in the state’s K-12 schools.

At the forefront of their demands, demonstrators hope that state lawmakers will consider extending a sales tax increase, vehicle licensing fees, and other revenue generators set to expire June 30 that provide billions of dollars to schools each year, an event spokeswoman said.

Demonstrators will rally this afternoon between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza.

Protests have also been planned today in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino, Alameda Education Association president Patricia Sanders said.

“The potential budget cuts are just insane,” Sanders said. “We’re possibly looking at cutting 20 days off a child’s school year, down from 180 days to 160 days.”

Schools across the state could cumulatively lose an estimated $4 billion in funding annually without the tax extensions, according to the CTA.

“There’s a demand in our culture to make sure no child is left behind in education,” Sanders said. “But how can we do that if we’re continually under-funding education?”

On Thursday, more than two dozen demonstrators were arrested at the state Capitol building in Sacramento for refusing to leave after offices closed at 6 p.m., according to the CTA.

“We had just been informed of a Republican budget and some of us decided to stay,” Sanders said.

A spokesperson for the agency in charge of the arrests, the California Highway Patrol, did not immediately return a phone call for comment on whether the protesters had been released.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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