There was another budget meeting last night, and I didn’t go. I know, I know: I’m terrible. But Cute W was out of town, so I would have had to either just go for a little bit (because I wouldn’t want to leave the kids alone for long) or drag my children to the meeting with me. Because no way am I going to hire a babysitter for something this lame. I’m sorry. It’s just not going to happen. And then there was the news that the dang thing was going to be simulcast online, and I said to myself, “Hey, I can watch from home.” And did I watch from home? Nope. I got caught up in life and completely blew it off.
Besides, I’m exhausted from all the budget meetings this year. It’s unbelievably depressing. Our local middle school is almost surely going to close, and now it looks like we might close an elementary school as well. This blog post by Robert Lowry on the The New York State Council of School Superintendents’ EdVANTAGE Blog explains why schools have hit such a fiscal crisis.
Anyway, last night’s meeting was an area-wide NY State Council of Superintendents Advocacy Forum to teach people to ask for more money for schools. As in, please, please, please give us some money. But, really, beyond just the money, there are many issues going on in education right now. Maybe you’re upset that not a single K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional was among the 135 people who wrote and reviewed the K-3 Common Core Standards. Or possibly you’re concerned about the children who don’t fit into the fill-in-the-blanks test format, and the teachers who teach them and are evaluated based on their test performance.
Whatever you’re concerned about, now is the time to speak up. Or write up, or call up, or share-on-Facebook up, or Tweet up. Especially since The New York State Legislature is aiming to finalize the budget by March 21st.
Now, I know that these folks are not the best listeners. Why, my State Senator already told his constituents not to bother writing him. That’s discouraging. So yes, it feels like an exercise in futility. I know that. I feel that, too. So I did a search for quotations to inspire us to do something, anyway:
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
― Elie Wiesel
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
“To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
― Abraham Lincoln
“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Okay, so are you ready to do something?
The New York State School Boards Association has a nifty little Legislative Action Center. You can click on my link, scroll down a bit, and fill in your address, and it will pop up all your relevant local representatives, along with their basic contact information. You can even click from the site to send an email. They’ve got some form letters in there, but all of the advocacy advice recommends that you write something of your own. Give specifics about what concerns you, offer personal stories about why this impacts your family and your neighborhood, and then ask for what you want.
Here is the presentation from the NY State Council of Superintendents Advocacy Forum last night. It includes an overview of the issues and some tips for advocacy, along with some very cute pictures of children.
Education Speaks, a blog “devoted to a thoughtful discussion of the issues shaping public education in New York’s Greater Capital Region and beyond” has an Advocacy Toolkit with tips on what you can do.
If you Tweet, you can use the #NYSchoolsInPeril and Governor Cuomo’s handle is @NYGovCuomo.
Okay, I’m going to stop the full-on rant now. I would love comments with information, links to relevant articles, and any other information. Because I am not particularly knowledgeable about any of this stuff, and I know that some of you are. But I was feeling guilty about not getting to that meeting, plus Dr. Seuss, Gandhi, et. al. were totally breathing down my neck.