March in March 2012: When will the students’ voices be heard?
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Approximately 10,000 people were unified and standing up in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento on March 5. Many of them were students asking for lower school fees, more classes, teachers and affordable textbooks.
Each year students, teachers and supporters from all regions of California unite at the State Capitol in Sacramento to protest against the budget cuts and ask for priority for education. All kinds of banners and posters were held up calling for financial aid for students and asking millionaires to pay their fair share of taxes.
The first March in March happened on April 6, 1987, and March in March this year was the 25th march for education held in Sacramento.
“It’s time to speak up and speak out before they take away everything,” said Cory Lawry, 25, a music major from Pasadena City College.
According to the official website for March in March, http://www.Iwillmarch.com, California community colleges are the most affordable system of higher education in the United States. The 112 community colleges in the system provide more than 175 programs for nearly 2.9 million students and confer more than 125,000 degrees per year.
Chuck Stevens, activities coordinator at San Jose City College, said community college graduates make up one third of the work force, and they are eager to get a degree to have a good job. However, he said the fees keep rising higher, and that is closing the door of education for many people.
According to http://www.couragecampaign.org, the California Legislature voted to increase the fee from $36 to $46 per unit this year, and that is a 300 percent increase in tuition over the last decade. Billions of dollars have been cut from public education since 2009, and students and their families are the 99 percent that pay for it.
“I really believe that education should be set to a level where everyone has a chance to go to community colleges or universities,” said John Hooper, 29.
This year California community colleges systems were not alone. The University of California systems and the California State University systems also joined in the March. Many co-sponsored organizational partners took part in setting up the protest against the rising fees.
“I’m here,” said Bena Pierson, 31, from Alliance of California for Community Empowerment, “because I want to see a difference in America.”