Fighting for your right to education

City College English Professor Jim Miller has returned from a journey reminiscent of Cesar Chavez and other civil rights leaders. His pilgrimage was to the state capitol and his goal was to stand up (and march) for students in California.

On March 6, in Bakersfield, a determined group of social funding advocates, Miller among them, began walking north through the Central Valley with Sacramento as their goal.

The seven primary marchers, made up of education professionals, law enforcement officers and community organizers, were joined along the way by supporters throughout the region over the six week trek.

“It was over 350 miles because we were diverted to side roads,” Miller said. “After a couple weeks I was used to it; you get your calluses up. The walking was my favorite part.”

The caravan was a mobile mouthpiece for their anti-budget cut cause, blogging, issuing press releases and attracting media attention as they traveled. Miller wrote and spoke frequently in defense of school funding, including two articles that appeared on

“But the 24/7 of it was tiring. There was little privacy and we were sleeping in RVs. There were cameras around all the time and the logistics were intense.” he said.

Miller remembers, “90 percent of the people we met were positive when they found out we were marching for education, social services, state parks and the future of California.” At one stop, children came out of their school chanting, “si se puede” (yes we can). The students offered food to the marchers and later presented a ballet.

One of the locals who was less cordial was a man on a tractor who told the marchers that schools deserve less funding and “they should swat the kids.” Miller tried to explain to the man that funding has already been drastically cut for education but he did not seem sympathetic.

“I really expected more hostility in the most conservative part of the state,””said Miller. “The tractor guy was hostile and exemplified unfocused rage.”

In Sacramento, the marchers were joined by hundreds of supporters, including a contingent from City College, who celebrated the completion of the odyssey by accompanying them over the last mile.

On the west lawn of the capitol building they were met by a rally attracting thousands who were addressed by Miller and the other marchers, union leaders and student representatives.

Miller said the prime objective of the march was to help gather enough signatures to place a majority budget act on the November ballot which would change the current two thirds of the legislature needed to pass a budget to a simple 50 percent.

In recognition of the City students who traveled to Sacramento, Miller said, “The faculty and student participation has been excellent. We were the farthest campus from Sacramento to come to the rally. I was impressed.”

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Fighting for your right to education