Anyhow, the very San Franciscan part of last week wasn't the toothache or sitting in coffee shops. No. Last Thursday the girls and I went on a march in protest at cuts to the education budget in California. I haven't been on a march in years - not since the chants went along the lines of "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out, Out, Out" - yes I am that old. And I think this was one of the first marches where bystanders cheered, honked their horns and looked generally happy to see us. Even some of the people in cars stuck in the jams were happy to see us.
We marched from the school towards the BART at 24th and Mission and then headed north through the Mission, along Market and onwards to the City Hall. I wasn't quite expecting the march to be as large as it was. Most schools seem to have taken part and many many students from university and college were also there. The weather was gorgeous, there were loud drums to keep us going, a dancing girl on stilts, several papiermache characters and at least one 6' 6" transvestite in full regalia and pink wig (well it is SF).
There were also signs saying "Raise taxes" which isn't something you see much in America, or anywhere really. And some (though admittedly not many) Socialist Workers down in the square at the end. We had a great time. The girls walked nearly three miles and never complained. And afterwards we went out for pizza with friends.
The reason this all matters is that California is basically broke. Unfortunately it needs a 2/3 majority in the both houses of the state legislature to raise taxes to cover its costs and as that is next to impossible, the budget is being cut in a drastic manner, which will mean that in the next month or so, redundancy slips will be sent out to teachers cutting their numbers by c. 175 in the elementary schools of San Francisco. Cuts are going to be severe throughout the education system. Leastways that is my novice interpretation of the political situation.
I won't pretend that I think the many many public protests that took place last Thursday all over the US will make a difference to the cuts. From what I understand, it is increasingly difficult to effect real change here and without the ability to raise taxation with a simple majority the governor of California (or governator as Arnie is known) has his hands tied. But at least the staff at our school and the many others that took part, know that the parents and children give a damn.