May Day 'funeral' for education draws student and employee mourners
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 19:05
More than 200 hundreds of students, teachers and staff gathered to mourn and protest the “death” of education Tuesday May 1 in the LAC Quad.
The “The Funeral for the Death of Education” was presented on international workers day, May Day, following the Board of Trustees' decision to lay off of 55 support staff and reduce hours and pay of 96 others.
Lynn Shaw, a professor of electrical technology and president of the full-time faculty union, said, “We decided to do the funeral for education because the students were suffering and faculty feel that students are natural allies so we came up with an idea to draw attention to this that would be dramatic and make a statement.”
Layoffs were not the only issue that upset protesters. The reduction of classes was a sore topic for the protestors. Jenifer Pearce, 34, a human services major, said, “I wanted to take Spanish 2 and I can’t do it because they don’t offer it. It’s just sad, pretty soon it’s going to just be down to the basics, math, English and science and nothing else.”
One administrator attended the protest. Byron Breland, the associate vice president of PCC, said, “I’m very impressed with the way people have organized and shown up to speak out. … I’m happy to hear that people want to get involved with the source of the issue, which is the state’s funding. It’s unfortunate that there is a lot of misinformation out regarding how we got to this point or who is responsible for the budget short falls.”
Breland was reluctant to confirm what information given during the protest was inaccurate, but did state people tend to bend the statistics.
Students Rita Wright and Evelyn Loya were the masters of ceremony. Wright encouraged and roused the crowd through a passionate spoken word style of speech throughout the event. Loya introduced each speaker and helped lead the crowd of people on a precession from the auditorium to the marquee on Carson Street, and back to the Auditorium.
A bagpiper played in front of the Auditorium to start the event. The front lawn of the Auditorium was covered with cardboard tombstones that displayed the names of all the programs being cut due to the school’s budget. A silver casket was placed in front of the steps of the auditorium with 50 chairs on both sides for the audience. Volunteers dressed in black passed out fliers, flowers, pins and picket signs to anyone willing to join.
The Dance Club performed in graduation gowns and placed flowers on the casket at the end of their performance. Student vocalist Daunte Gregory sang “Amazing Grace” before DeWayne Sheaffer, the head of the counseling department, gave a speech. Sheaffer filled in for the president of California Community College Association union who was unable to attend. Sheaffer’s speech included a six-step process to invoke change at LBCC that included a recall campaign for all five LBCC trustees and the importance of students voting.
Eulogies at the event were presented by students Timothy Guzman, Christian Rodriguez and Alexa Castanon who each talked about their personal experience at LBCC and how the budget cuts and layoffs affected everyone.
Alta Costa, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, local 6108, also gave a eulogy.
The protest attracted many people around campus including Long Beach Press-Telegram writer and former LBCC student Tim Grobaty and KTLA news.