Legislators have gone home for the weekend, and they need to hear from you.
Here’s the good news…
None of the troublesome bills we told you about earlier in the week have been debated as of yet, so there is still time to influence your legislators’ votes.
The even better news is that word is spreading far and wide about the toxic atmosphere at the Capitol; voters are angry and ready for a change. New members are joining our effort – ready and willing to stand up and fight the political gamesmanship that is threatening our children’s futures.
The Tide is Turning
Many are using social media to voice their frustration and to join like-minded supporters of public schools to stand up for our children – that’s terrific! Here’s an easy way to join with thousands of others across the state to lift our voices, organize, and stand up for public education…
Use the hashtag #All4PubEd to let others know about – and to find – the various Facebook, Twitter, and other sites dedicated to promoting and supporting public schools. If you want to share information, ask questions, lift up ideas – even recruit candidates to run for the Legislature – tweet about it using #All4PubEd, and have an instant audience. Share Facebook posts on Twitter and vice versa to reach as many people as possible. Ask your legislators to “like” these Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter. See more here.
If you aren’t on Twitter, consider setting up an account (see easy instructions here) so that you, too, can join the conversation.
Legislators need to be reminded that they work for you and that you are paying attention to their votes.
Leadership Tips Its Hand on Privatization
In a move that makes clear the priorities of this administration, the leadership killed the bills that would provide direct services to children with special needs and pushed through voucher bills. They have promoted the vouchers as help for children with special needs when, in fact, the vouchers pay tuition at private schools that do not provide special education services to children. In fact, the authors of the voucher bills went to great lengths to specify that voucher schools could not be made to provide services – or even be held accountable for providing a quality education. Read more here.
Here’s our message to legislators:
Vote NO on any privatization bill – any bill or amendment that allows state funds to pay or offset the cost of tuition at a private, for-profit, or virtual school.
Vote NO on any bill or amendment that will reduce funding for public schools.
Vote YES on funding schools based on average daily membership (enrollment) rather than attendance.
Please get that message to your legislators this weekend. Their deadline to consider all of these bills is February 12.
Tell your legislators that we need their help to kill these bills and ensure that our children have the strong public education system they need to succeed:
HB 394 – Vouchers for children with special needs. Uses state funds to pay tuition at unaccountable private schools that are not required to provide special services or accommodations to students. (House version) See analysis of bill.
HB 488 – Amends the dyslexia higher education loan program to allow loan forgiveness for those who serve as dyslexia therapists in private special-purpose schools; removes provision requiring that loan recipients provide services in public schools.
SB 2695 – Vouchers for children with special needs. Uses state funds to pay tuition at unaccountable private schools that are not required to provide special services or accommodations to students. (Senate version) See analysis of bill.
SB 2191 – Districts of Innovation – Allows virtual schools in school districts and provides for modification of the MAEP formula to send MAEP funds to out-of-state virtual schools. (Lines 188-200)
HB 479 – MAEP – Changes the definition of at-risk students from poverty-related to those who score Basic or Minimal on state assessments. Research shows that poverty is the most significant factor outside the classroom affecting student achievement. HB 479 will penalize high performing districts with significant rates of poverty, punish districts for moving students to proficiency, and significantly reduce MAEP funding to school districts overall.
Unfunded Administrative Mandates
SB 2329 – Requires local school districts to administer assessments to home-schooled students who want to participate in the district’s extra-curricular activities, in order to show that the home-schooled student meets the academic requirements for participation. The school district will receive no funding for the student and the bill provides no compensation for the administering of assessments.
SB 2161 – Common Core State Standards – Establishes a commission to advise the State Board of Education in rewriting state standards.
Here’s some more good news…
Despite what you read, many of our legislators agree with us on education issues and have vowed to stand their ground in support of public schools, come what may. If this describes your legislators, thank them, praise them, and lift them up on social media. They deserve our support! If your legislators are not fully in for our kids, they need some attention. Let’s make sure they get it. After all, it’s our children’s futures that we are talking about – and on which they are voting. Now is the time to jump in and join the thousands of others who believe our children are worth fighting for!