Enterprising PTA members have organized a Town Hall meeting on February 25 to “begin the conversation” on proposed budget cuts to our schools. Local legislators, including Assemblymembers Fiona Ma and Tom Ammiano, as well as Senator Mark Leno, are scheduled to attend (Superintendent Garcia and Board President Jane Kim will represent the district).** Below, PTA members Holly Carver and Crystal Brown discuss their advocacy plans in a Comcast Newsmakers interview:
The meeting will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on February 25, 2010 at Marina Middle School (3500 Fillmore St. at Chestnut St. in San Francisco). For more information, and to reserve free childwatch or translation, please visit the event’s web site: www.fundingourfuturesf.com
**State Senator Leland Yee, who represents west side neighborhoods in San Franciso and parts of the Penninsula, is apparently having trouble fitting the Town Hall meeting into his schedule. Constituents of Senator Yee’s might want to contact his office to impress upon him how important it is for every member of our local delegation to attend this meeting and hear from their constituents, because their votes on the state budget this year will directly affect the level of funding in our local schools.
Crystal, I mean using examples that give a clearer picture. If you say “class sizes could reach 30 kids”, people who do not have children in schools do not know there are 20 in Kindergarten now. So give the viewers statistics, like “class sizes will increase 50%” (from 20 to 30) . With 30 kids in class, the teacher will have 10 minutes for each child per day (based upon a 5 hour day, when you eliminate lunch and recess).
This is in response to Betsy’s suggestion that we (the PTA moms) get our rap down more specifically with how it will impact schools. We would love some concrete examples that express the dire nature of these cuts. To some that are watching/reading about these cuts – 30 kids/class doesn’t do it, cutting art/music doesn’t do it…so, please weigh in. Those of us on the front line (i.e. kids in the schools get it) but to the TV viewer…we need to SHOW them.
The reality for those of us that live in Leland Yee’s district is that he is missing in action – in my eight years as a public school parent I have not once seen him at any public education function to gather or give feedback on public education – and I have been to more of these than I can count.
If he has higher aspirations – as it appears he does, he needs to come around. Too late for this event – he should be noted as MIA.
While Ma, Ammiano and Leno should be applauded for at least showing up, we need to push them to go beyond ‘standing behind’ us in the effort – we must ask them to become leaders in the effort to reform public school funding.
Where are they in introducing legislation? Driving ideas? Working with counterparts in other areas of the state? We must make our SF elected reps see that public education is a priority for their voters. We haven’t don’t that yet. None of them are making public education their top priorities – hopefully, that could change.
I’ve thought about what Betsy says — especially to outsiders, to whom 30 in a classroom doesn’t sound outrageous. I think the PR effort does need to come up with some concrete examples that really will make a mark with those who have no contact with today’s schools.
I admire the attempt, but talking to Fiona Ma, Tom Ammiano, and Mark Leno is preaching to the converted, and is not going to accomplish anything besides getting a blip on local news.
A march on Sacramento is what is needed.
These PTA spokespeople should get their rap down too, instead of just saying “it’s outrageous” and “we don’t have pencils” — when the newspeople ask the question: “How will it affect education?” give them a direct answer.
I’d like to know from Kathy who in our local delegation who has voted FOR cuts to education.
I believe that this event is part of this generation’s “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!” moment — the point when we hit bottom in terms of starving public services and shift our philosophy back to restoring a “we’re in this together” culture. Yee is going to regret it if he’s not on the train when it leaves the station.
Thanks for that information! Sounds like we need Senator Yee more than ever at this event so that he can clue the others in on the importance of standing firm against any budgets containing further cuts to education. His absence from the Town Hall meeting, given the confirmed attendance of the rest of the SF delegation, sends an unfortunate and apparently unintended message. I’ve been told that the reason he can’t confirm attendance is that the Senate is in session, but that doesn’t completely make sense to me since Senator Leno has confirmed that he will attend.
I think it is the other legislators that need the phone calls, not Senator Yee. He is the only one that voted against the cuts to education in the previous state budgets.