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Pinole Students Give Up Sugar As Teacher Fasts Over Budget Cuts

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Frank Marrero, a fifth grade teacher at Ellerhorst Elementary in Pinole, has gone on a hunger strike over possible education cuts. His students are giving up eating sugar, playing video games and watching TV alone. (CBS)

Frank Marrero, a fifth grade teacher at Ellerhorst Elementary in Pinole, has gone on a hunger strike over possible education cuts. His students are giving up eating sugar, playing video games and watching TV alone. (CBS)

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Elizabeth Cook is co-anchor for KPIX 5 News at 5, 6, 10 (KBCW) a...
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PINOLE (CBS 5) — A teacher at a Pinole elementary school has gone on a hunger strike over possible education cuts. As he gives up food, his students are also giving up some of their favorite things.

It started as a dare, according to Frank Marrero, a fifth grade teacher at Ellerhorst Elementary.

“I bet I can not eat anything longer than you guys can give up sugar,” he said. “And they said ‘You’re on’ and they jumped at it.”

Students, who are 10 and 11-year-olds, are not eating sugar, playing video games and watching TV alone.

“Instead of just eating ice cream on the couch and just watching a movie, I would be climbing a tree or walking my dog and eating healthy foods,” student Elora Chernis said.

Marrero hasn’t eaten anything since March 18th. “At times it’s been painful and lots of discomfort. But that is nothing compared to how harsh the pain would be if we don’t support our schools,” he said.

The class is using the fasting exercise to support funding efforts to education.

Marrero said, “Across the state, schools are being hammered and we are cut to the bone already.”

The city of Pinole is also facing its own set of challenges. In June, voters will decide on Measure K, which would continue a school parcel tax. If it doesn’t pass, schools including Ellerhurst Elementary would be forced to make major cuts.

“I really don’t want a bad education and I don’t want anybody else to,” said student Alexis Ozuna.

Marrero admits he will have to eat something soon. As for the kids, they plan to be sugar and TV free for the long haul.

“Anything is possible if you try,” Ozuna said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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