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Parents rally to fight school program cuts

District slated to lose $4.2 million for 2010-11 year
By: Eric Laughlin Telegraph Correspondent
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Some 200 parents of middle school children in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District came together last week to rally against a proposed state budget that could mark an end to electives like band and art. If it goes through the legislature and is signed by the governor this summer, the planned budget would mean the district could lose $4.2 million for the 2010-2011 school year. The district is already set to cut 12 percent of its budget, or $13.9 million, on the heels of $14.7 million worth of cuts made last year. “The legislative leaders have become deaf to voices like mine,” district Superintendent Patrick Godwin told parents in an assembly hall at Folsom Middle School last week. “If things are going to change it’s going to have to be a grassroots organization, where people stand up and say, ‘not my child, not now.’” Parents also heard from leaders of the non-profit organization Support California Kids, a group born of parents and educators frustrated over education cuts made in Elk Grove. “A lot of people have been trying to get things done, but they’re not getting any results,” said Marie Correa, the organization’s president. “But now we know that the missing link is parents. There are over nine million students in California. If we can just tap into 1 percent of those parents, we’ll get (legislators’) attention.” Correa then referenced a massive grassroots effort that stood in the way of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2009 proposal to shutdown 48 California State Parks. “Lawmakers got 87,000 letters from people who didn’t want to lose their parks and it didn’t happen,” she said. “That’s the kind of pressure we’re talking about.” She said the state’s education system is on a diet and that “in order for us to lose weight, we’re going to have to take out major organs.” One of the more emotional moments during the rally came when Folsom High School student Sydney Pierce spoke of how being in the marching band changed her life. “It gave me the power to multi-task and the confidence to break through in the classroom,” she said. “I was no longer afraid to raise my hand and participate in class.” She said music is important for students. “By eliminating music, we are directly hacking away at the pillars of our education system,” she continued. Aside from speakers, the rally also featured performances by the district’s middle school-age jazz band, as well as the Folsom High Jazz Band. “Music is a byproduct,” band director John Zimny told the crowd. “What’s ultimately going to come out of this (are) stronger students.” At the rally’s conclusion, parent Scott Davies said he plans to take action. “Seeing the band play and seeing those kids in their element was a big wake up call,” he said. “I don’t think we have a choice, we can’t take it away from them.” For more information on Support California Kids, visit the organization’s website at supportcakids.com. There you’ll find sample letters to mail lawmakers. You can also become a fan of the group on Facebook.