Advocacy Information - How You Can Help
Never has your voice for public education been more important.
As our state and country begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and look to rebuild and be more resilient for future crises, we need to make sure that our legislators, the state, and federal government know that in order to achieve those goals, education must be a priority.
As we have all recently learned, the basic things that we know and understand to be truths in life can turn on a dime. We have also been reminded through our COVID-19 response that our community looks to us for comfort, guidance, and to provide ongoing services in times of need. For example, in the first few weeks:
- We provided preschool-5th grade student learning packets and resources for secondary students.
- We set up four food distribution centers and began making home deliveries to feed students.
- We announced virtual counseling services to provide social and emotional support for students and to help address issues like increased anxiety.
- We collaborated with agencies and organizations to ensure that essential services could continue to support our community through challenging times.
All of that happened before the Executive Order closed the state’s schools for the remainder of the year. After which we developed a Continuity of Education Plan, which needed to include:
- A method to provide alternate modes of instruction.
- A method to keep pupils at the center of educational activities.
- A description to manage and monitor student learning.
- A description of how the administration, school board, and teachers collaborated in the development of the plan.
- A description of how the district will notify pupils and parents of the plan.
- A method to provide or arrange for food distribution to eligible pupils.
- A plan to continue to pay school employees.
- A method to evaluate the participation by pupils.
- A method or provide mental health support to pupils.
We did that too. Now we are being asked to consider cuts upwards of $650 or more per student. At the same time we have already been asked to continue to not only find ways to make up for the educational slide that is expected post-pandemic, but also to be prepared to deliver high quality education remotely or as a hybrid model should something like this happen again. That is why now, more than ever, is not the time to make deep cuts. It is the time to make an investment in public education.
We have the power to use our individual and collective voices to say to our lawmakers that we must continue to fund public education if we are to successfully recover from the economic wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure our state has the talent pool necessary to take on the demands of today and meet the challenges of tomorrow. We must also continue to fight to ensure that our schools receive equitable funding, so that students in our state have every chance possible at success in their lives after graduation.
We know that hearing from you and your personal stories will have a greater impact than one hundred calls from superintendents. Below, find additional information and resources. We hope that you will consider calling your lawmaker, sending a letter, or raising your voice in your own way to ensure that the critical work we do on behalf of the children of our community and country can continue. We need resources to raise the next generation of learners and leaders.
Excerpt from Interim Superintendent Jim Pavelka's June 2020 Letter to Staff
What we know about our public schools and their impact:
- Education is the key to the future.
- We help teach critical thinking and foundational skills that are key to building understanding and resiliency in tomorrow’s employees and leaders.
- We know that children who attend public school have broader educational experiences, because on top of the opportunity to master academic concepts and skills, students also have a chance to meet people who are not like them, who come from different and diverse backgrounds, which benefits them into their future.
- Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Michigan’s economy has struggled significantly, leading to budget shortfalls.
- The U.S. Congress has passed some federal funding for education-related expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not nearly enough. We need Congress to work with the President to quickly pass a comprehensive stimulus package with maximum flexibility to protect our schools from devastating budget cuts.
- FastFact: Investment in public education results in billions of dollars of social and economic benefits for society at large.
- FastFact: The cognitive-intellectual gains that children and youth make in school contribute to the social and economic benefits derived from education for all members of society.
- The impact of under-resourced schools on student achievement is severe and worsens over time.
- Research shows that individuals who graduate and have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive citizens.
- They are also less likely to commit serious crimes, less likely to place high demands on the public health care system, and less likely to be enrolled in welfare assistance programs.
- A good education provides substantial benefits to individuals and, as individual benefits are aggregated throughout a community, creates broad social and economic benefits. Investing in public education is thus far more cost-effective for the state than paying for the social and economic consequences of under-funded, low quality schools.
- Mortality decreases for every additional year in schooling by 7.2% for men and 6% for women; and the chances of optimum health is up to 8 times higher for citizens with eighteen years of education versus only seven.
Source: June 8th BOE Resolution
- We support the passage of legislation by the U.S. Congress appropriating needed funds to be distributed to states and local districts with maximum flexibility to fill budget gaps during this state of emergency and that these funds be distributed to state and local districts on an equitable basis.
- We support congressional action to provide additional funding for the highly successful E-Rate Program, which helps schools ensure connectivity for online learning.
Advocacy Letter Samples
Senator Debbie Stabenow, www.stabenow.senate.gov/contact
Senator Gary Peters, www.peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary
Senator Wayne Schmidt, SenWSchmidt@senate.michigan.gov
Congressman Jack Bergman, Constituent.Bergman@mail.house.gov
Representative Larry Inman, LarryInman@house.mi.gov
Amplify Your Message
Other ideas to help amplify your message include:
- Tell a Friend: Encourage friends, family members and others to help raise their voice for public education.
- Share on Social Media: Consider furthering your outreach efforts by sharing your efforts with friends and family.
- Submit a Letter to the Editor: Consider submitting a letter to your local newspaper, Bridge Magazine, or other outlets that publish opinion letters.
- Let Us Know What Action You Took: We would like to hear about the actions you are taking to raise your voice for public education in Michigan. Email email@example.com.
June 2020: Resolution in Support of State & Federal Funding for Schools
Board of Education Resolution in Support of State and Federal Funding for Schools
June 8, 2020
WHEREAS, in March 2020, the coronavirus disease that causes COVID-19 first appeared in Michigan, causing the Governor to declare a state of emergency under her powers in the Michigan Constitution; and
WHEREAS, in response to this emergency, after Michigan school districts were required to cancel in-person learning, school districts have risen to the challenge by being innovative and focused on their unique needs, provided distance learning for all Michigan students; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous uncertainty on how to provide quality education while maintaining safe conditions for both staff and students, causing districts to face new expenses and challenges for the upcoming school year, including providing personal protective learning spaces to accommodate social distancing; developing new remote methods of instructional delivery; and expanded access to school-based mental health services; and
WHEREAS, due to falling revenues, local school districts face severe budget shortfalls for the current fiscal year, including a potential proration cut of at least $650 per student, and similar budget problems for the upcoming year, making it difficult to provide high-quality education, access to technology, and safety for both students and staff;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Traverse City Area Public Schools District Board of Education supports the passage of legislation by the U.S. Congress appropriating needed funds to be distributed to states and local districts with maximum flexibility to fill budget gaps during this state of emergency and that these funds be distributed to state and local districts on an equitable basis; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Traverse City Area Public Schools District Board of Education urges congressional action to provide additional funding for the highly successful E-Rate Program, which helps schools ensure connectivity for online learning; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution shall be transmitted to our Governor, and to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate representing the families in our District.
ADOPTED by the Board of Education of the Traverse City Area Public Schools District, Grand Traverse County, Michigan, at the regular open public meeting thereof, held this 8th day of June 2020.
Signed by the TCAPS Board of Education on June 8, 2020