Hunger Striker's Regret: 'People Have To Starve To Call Attention To Education'

San Leandro High School senior Veronica Mandujano reflects on what she and fellow hunger strikers learned from their fast to protest budget cuts.


San Leandro High School senior Veronica Mandujano has learned from the seven-day hunger strike that she and fellow stuents Kayla Ely and Anai Rosales staged to protest teacher layoffs.

"I knew it would get a lot of attention," Mandujano said of the fast that ended Tuesday. "But it's a shame people have to starve to call attention to education."

The three seniors quit eating solid foods on March 6 that local shool board members blamed on reductions in state funding.

The students ended their fast after at a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Mandujano, who will be attending San Francisco State University next year, said she will continue making the case that public schools and students are being starved by inadequate funding. 

"I grew up in San Leandro, I went to school here, I have a sister behind me, I have to stay active," she said.

Her current priorities are getting enough signatures to quality Proposition 1522 for the state ballot and helping school board officials persuade San Leandro voters to support a parcel tax increase for local schools.

Prop 1522, and a similar measure, Proposition 1572, which is also gathering signatures, would impose taxes of 15 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively, on oil that is pumped out of wells in the state.

Mandujano said California is the only oil-producing state without such a tax and that it could raise $3 billion for schools.

The parcel tax is a local measure that, according to polling data, is favored by six out of 10 San Leandro voters but it would need to pass.

"I think it's unfortunate we have to ask homeowners to pay more but I think it's necessary," she said.

Mandujano is no stranger to activism. She and her fellow hunger strikers are members of San Leandro High's Social Justice Academy, which trains students around a curriculum focused on history, economics and social change.

In October, Mandujano and other Social Justice Academy students organized one of the first protests to echo the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Reflecting on what she called "a crazy year," Mandujano offered this insight about what it takes to effect change: "I'd rather have a few people who truly care than a hundred people who are half-hearted."

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Tracie Cearley-Kinser March 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM
As a politically active person these girls make me proud! I am so glad to see these young adults standing up for their convictions and fighting for education! This state and country have devalued education to the point of disaster! We must band together and fight the destruction of public education!
David March 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM
It's regrettable that the students, rather than fighting an uphill lobbying effort to raise taxes, don't realize that they should be instead lobbying the Democratic legislators who run the state and support the Democratic governor's budget, which proposes to massively increase "general government" spending by $3 billion. It would be a lot easier to get a small group of legislators and one man (Jerry Brown) to stop holding kids hostage to his tax and spending plans that starve the schools in order to feed bureaucrats in Sacramento and the prison guard lobby.
Leah Hall March 16, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Thank you, Tom for this news. A huge shout out to Veronica Mandujano, Kayla Ely and Anai Rosales! BTW - I feel that the 'other' local paper's headline "Hunger strike put on back burner" was a tad callous. I'm curious to learn if others feel the same. Any thoughts?
Tom Abate (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful comments.
Craig Williams March 16, 2012 at 07:40 PM
People throughout the East Bay have said very nice things about the students. At the Democrat's St. Patrick's Day event in Hayward last night and a meeting in Oakland two days ago people mentioned how admirable the kids were and how the Social Justice Academy might be something other schools should emulate.Keep up the great work .
Craig Williams March 17, 2012 at 05:46 AM
The story made national news , sort of. Free Speech Radio News ran a story today , which airs locally through KPFA but also in other Pacifica Radio markets including NY and DC and LA.
Tim March 17, 2012 at 07:05 AM
@Craig... so in other words you and about 14 others heard about it.
Craig Williams March 17, 2012 at 07:27 AM
Go Tim , the guy or gal who is afraid to reveal himself.Strong words from a coward blogger.
Tim March 17, 2012 at 04:55 PM
That's right Craig. I don't need you and your gang of community agitators showing up at my house and vandalizing my property. You and your malcontent friends in Occupy have already shown your idea of a "peaceful" protest. No thank you.
Craig Williams March 17, 2012 at 04:57 PM
No one thinks you're that important I'm sure . But you are probably afraid of your own shadow so I'll leave it at that.
Leah Hall March 17, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Agreed. I don't think anyone takes these strings terribly seriously, let alone put much value on posts/comments by folks that won't stand behind what they write. Keep it real, kids...
David March 17, 2012 at 05:57 PM
The clown takes posts seriously enough to work very diligently to silence views the clown disagrees with. As usual the clown is consistently inconsistent. Keep it real old blog clown. Keep it real.
Leah Hall March 17, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Hush, David.... Wow, I'm glad that works. Who knew? ;-)
Tim March 17, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Apparently, it's no longer "clown" but "clowns".
Tim March 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
isn't tolerance a wonderful thing.... liberals always preach tolerance... so long as we're talking about skin color.... when it comes to thought then they want "1984".
Leah Hall March 17, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Tim has a sweet voice for expressing his thoughts and great big bunny ears created for listening....
Craig Williams March 17, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The link for the radio story is http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/78781, at about 22 minutes into the newscast.They were very articulate, we should be very proud.
David March 17, 2012 at 09:10 PM
As stated before, clown, you won. It's clear you're happy about it, so happy, you're busy distracting from Peggy's post with your blog clown antics. Keep it real, old blog clown. The day you contribute something real and relevant to a discussion will be a first.
Leah Hall March 17, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Lovely, thank you for sharing the link, Craig. Tip of the hat to the caring students at SLHS!


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