In tough times, art and creative expression can be the best strategy. Check out this response to the budget crisis from students at LAUSD’s Millikan Middle School, a performing arts magnet school. (Looks like embedding has been disabled for this video so you’ll have to watch it on the YouTube site. But it’s worth it. )
Hope to see everyone at City Hall at 5 p.m. TODAY for a massive rally against state cuts to K-12 and higher education. UESF members and K-12 advocates will be assembling at 4 p.m. at the state building on Van Ness for a rally and march to the main rally an hour later.
Schools all over the city are observing the Day of Action — I’m sure photos will start appearing around the Web so I’ll post things as I see them.
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.
Advocates for improving school lunches have come up with a novel and artistic advocacy campaign: ask children to send a message to Speaker Pelosi!
Volunteer to become a school coordinator for the SF School Food Coalition’s inaugural campaign, Paper Plates for Pelosi!
This year (or early next), Congress will decide how much money to allocate to the National School Lunch Program. More money means better food for kids, plain and simple. Our goal is to remind Speaker Nancy Pelosi how much her leadership on this issue count. We know that children deserve improved school food in order to be healthy and to be better students. What better messengers than the kids themselves? All of the plates will be hand-delivered to Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco office. [Editorial comment from your BOE representative: Currently, San Francisco schools receive $2.68 in reimbursement for each meal we serve to students who are qualified for free or reduced price lunch. Once overhead and labor costs are taken out, we have less than a dollar per student to pay for actual food. Here’s the message we need Washington to hear: First, high cost areas like San Francisco need a higher reimbursement rate so that we can afford better food; Second, the entire school lunch program needs a more realistic level of funding! ]
Parents! Ask teachers at your school to do a classroom art activity decorating a paper plate with two
simple messages to Speaker Pelosi. Any teacher who submits entries from 15 or more students will be entered into a drawing to win a $75 VISA gift card.
Teachers! Make this paper plate art and letter-writing project a classroom activity. Ask all of your students to let Speaker Pelosi know how important healthier food is to their education.
All plates need to be returned to the school coordinator by November 6, 2009.
The top 13 entries – our Baker’s Dozen – will be turned into a poster and sent to California’s Congressional delegation, First Lady Michelle Obama, and President Obama! All paper plates will be hand-delivered to Speaker Pelosi’s Distirct Office in San Francisco.
Contact Lena Brook at sfschoolfood “at” gmail.com for more information, to volunteer and receive paper plates for your school!
And for inspiration, watch this lovely video on how school food could be improved:
Baseball Rodent Productions (aka Max Schreiber and Dana Woldow) and assorted SFUSD students (including Board of Education student delegate Tristan Leder) have done it again with a really well-crafted advocacy video to be shown at a national convention of food writers and slow food advocates next month. See below:
At issue: the ridiculously low reimbursement rate the Federal government gives public schools under the National School Lunch Program — a little over $2 per meal. As Ed Wilkins, SFUSD’s Director of Student Nutrition Services says in the video, after labor and overhead are paid, only about a dollar is left to go to the cost of food. The video offers one view of what a lunch program funded at $5 per meal (with a not insignificant additional investment in a central cooking kitchen) could look like for students.
(Full disclosure: I rounded up a group of 4th graders for some of the voice overs and arranged for a second grade class to draw pictures of healthy lunches).