A Girl Scout troop made up of seventh- and eighth-grade girls from Walnut Creek Intermediate School are taking action against the proposed $4.5 billion cuts in state education funding.
They have started a petition opposing the cuts and plan to deliver it to local lawmakers and the governor by mail within the next few weeks. The petition was passed out at the school last week, and unlike other petitions, students were asked to sign. So far, they have collected more than 1,000 signatures.
"The reason why we included kids is because it's our education and we should be able to have a say in what's happening," said Callie Cowdery, 14, who came up with the idea to start the petition.
Walnut Creek School District is cutting $1.5 million from next school year's budget. Walnut Creek Intermediate is set to lose an office clerk and a counselor. A total of 13 teachers are being cut in the district, how many, or if any, are from the middle school is not yet known.
With protests and letter writing campaigns happening around the state, the seven members of Troop 2543 made the petition special.
It mimics the preamble of the Constitution: "We the people of Walnut Creek Intermediate School, in order to have a more perfect education, urge you to establish an adequate budget for our education ... Please don't leave the students of California behind."
Troop member Rachelle Hanson, 14, said that she worries cuts will be in electives, which is what she likes most at school.
"It's really not fair," she said. "I was looking around at students signing (the petition) and people were talking about it and were wondering why (lawmakers) would do this to us. ... Maybe they will realize their plan is bad."
Glynnis Cowdery, troop leader and Callie's mom, said the troop has never done anything like this before but when the girls heard about the cuts everyone wanted to be involved.
The school allowed the petition, with every teacher participating and passing it out during class.
Many students didn't know about the education funding crisis, she said.
"I think the girls really wanted to make their fellow students aware," Cowdery said. "I think that we all hope every message that comes from parents or from kids will have a little bit more impact -- especially for those who want to get re-elected."
She could see these student petitions popping up at other schools in the area.
Chris Giotta, art teacher at Walnut Creek Intermediate, said this kind of activism from students is inspiring.
"This is an example of the new civic generation in action," Giotta said. "These girls have faith that their actions for the teachers and their education will not fall on deaf ears. They are standing up for the future -- their future."
Callie said she fears losing her teachers but mainly that cuts will affect her overall education.
"If we have a worse education background and then go to high school, we won't know as much and we won't be as successful in life," she said.
Reach Elisabeth Nardi at 952-2617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.