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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