By Jane Fernandez
Children from the Child Development Center rallied against budget cuts toward education at East Los Angeles College last Wednesday.
These children, along with their parents, the center’s teachers and volunteers and supporting students, shouted things like, “Save our schools,” “No more cuts,” and “We have the power, schools have the power.”
Martha Gayton, one of the teachers who participated in the protest, commented about the enthusiasm the children showed as they marched down the street. “(The children were) our little junior activists,” Gayton said.
The Stand for the Children Day rally was created by Advocates and Educators for Young Children and the Child Development Center. The rally was in opposition of Governor Jerry Brown’s budget cuts and promoted collective commitment to young children through advocacy.
Teacher Linda Jimenez, who has been working at the Child Development Center for over 37 years, said that it is important for the children to participate in the rally. She said that it is important for the children to get involved with what is going on because they also have a voice and speaking up is something that they learn as part of the center’s curriculum. “This institution fought really hard to get us here. It would be very sad if we are not able to provide quality childcare to the children,” Jimenez said.
She added that some parents would not be able to make it through school without the opportunities the center offers. Prior to the rally, the Center hosted a workshop to inform parents about who was making budget cuts, so the parents could understand what was going on with their children’s education. At the meeting parents were encouraged to write letters to legislators about how budget cuts affected their family.
Over 100 letters from parents were collected and sent. The center has been taking little steps throughout the year to let the community know about the budget cuts and the changes it will take on education. Teacher’s assistant Queena Delgado said, “We are doing this for the children, what will happen to the children if there is no education?”
Although the participating children were young and might not have an entire understanding of what is going on, parent Esther Mendoza believes that they all joined together to fight for their school to stay open. Mendoza joined her five year old daughter, who has been a student at the Center for three years, and rallied for the first time. “It is kind of cool to do it with my kid,” Mendoza said.
Although, not many parents attended the rally that took place on ELAC campus. Many parents attended a bigger rally in Downtown Los Angeles on April 12 for the same reasons. “A lot of parents are trying to figure out what is going on,” Mendoza said, stressing the budget cuts.
The Center is not only concerned with the cuts that will be made to them, but also to what will happen to students on the main campus. Jimenez believes that the changes will not only impact quality care for children, but it will also impact changes for Child Development Majors, specially ELAC students who will not be able to work with the children at the center like other generations have in the past.
Apart from the budget cuts, the center is trying to better the children’s education by having its teachers attend workshops and take continuing education classes. The center fundraises from what parents and the community donates to it. This money is later on used for educative fieldtrips and to bring educational entertainment to the center. The Center will continue to fight for higher education for all.
For now teachers, parents, and students hope that the rallies that have been going on and the letters to the legislators have brought enough attention for a change for the better of education to occur. “Nobody is going to do anything until we stand up for our rights,” Mendoza said.