Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a rejuvenating holiday season.
VACOLAO’s annual Immigrant Advocacy Day is January 18th in Richmond. Please let me know if you’re interested in participating and I’ll get you more information. There will be a training on legislative advocacy techniques prior to that date.
I was following up on an article in The Washington Post about PTA fundraising inequities and read up on Portland, Oregon’s school district, which not only created a foundation to create equity grants, but also wrote a Five Year Equity Plan in 2011 that looks really wonderful. I have reached out to them to learn more about the foundation, but also to find out how their plan went in practice. Can you imagine having such a clearly outlined and honest document in our county? Does this look like something we can use as a model as we advocate for our school board to take action on towards addressing equities here?
Related to our collaborative goals, I started making a list of organizations in our community that are working on social justice (racial and economic) issues to help with our ability to collaborate with and among them. And then I came across a similar list of organizations that have been partnering with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington and I’m wondering whether creating this list is actually useful for our group or might be another example of duplication of effort. What kinds of resources would help all of you coordinate with each other besides my weekly emails?
Also, check out the “Love Resists” campaign the UU Church has going on.
I have received 9 responses to the survey at this point, and overwhelmingly our group is interested in Education/Schools (100%), building Community Awareness (78%), and Parenting/Raising Kids (67%). These results make me think that these areas are where we should focus our energy for now.
Given that, I’d like to propose a plan for the first quarter of 2018:
(1) Group meetings. We’re planning to host a meeting with a County Board member to discuss schools and overall county equity issues. I’ll put together some potential dates for another large group meeting and send that out for feedback after we set the meeting with the County Board member so we can identify an appropriate venue.
(2) County Board FY 2019 Budget Decision. The Superintendent will submit his budget request at the School Board meeting on Thursday, February 22. The County Manager will present his budget at the County Board meeting on Saturday, February 24. There will be about two months for public comment and the County Board will vote at their April meeting. The county-wide PTA is getting a working group together to explore budget suggestions/advocacy as well and I’ll keep you updated as I hear more about their efforts. We can also ask the County Board member about the best ways to have our voices heard about this issue.
(3) County-wide PTA involvement and grant fund — Please find ways to support the schools your children attend by encouraging participation in the county-wide PTA (each school can send a rep to their meetings, once a month on Mondays). This is a powerful advocacy group and the more voices we have, the more likely it is that we will represent the county’s students effectively. Please also advocate for contributing funds to the grant fund, or in applying for funds depending on your school’s needs/abilities. The more attention this gets, the better we can raise awareness about inequity among our county schools.
(4) School Board efforts. We will keep our eyes on the Elementary School Boundaries review especially since it directly affects a couple of schools that are located on the south side of our community. More immediately, the School Board will be addressing Inclusion in January and February, and will make a decision in March. This looks like an opportunity to address policy, so the more vocal we can be about this, the better. School Board meetings in January and February are on January 4, January 18, February 1, February 15, and February 22.
What are your goals? How can we help each other?