A Call for Action

November 7, 2009

If you read the superintendent’ s message Friday, you may have a sense of the crisis facing Michigan schools. If the budget for schools stays where it is today, and if the state continues to collect fewer and fewer taxes and fees, our school and nearly every school in the state will be in big trouble. We all know that there is very little left to cut from our district, except people’s jobs.

That’s where your help is critical. I know we don’t have time for this. I know many of us have never called or written to an elected official before. I know that at various times we have been told that there is a crisis. Why is this time any different?

Our district is collecting all the local taxes allowed. There is no way to ask our community for help — the law forbids it. We are at the mercy of enrollment numbers in our schools and funding from the state. The approved state budget is all about cutting spending and contains almost no provisions for increasing earnings. Without some drastic changes in state revenue and changes in how schools receive operating funds, we have no option other than to cut — again.

So the men and women elected to lead this state must hear from the citizens. Telephone calls are probably the most powerful means of sending your message, but emails are nearly as effective. Letting elected officials know that you are a voter, a taxpayer, and/or a parent of a child in school (K-16) is going to have more impact than identifying yourself as a school teacher. They need to know that “ordinary” Michigan citizens are worried about school funding, not just those of us directly impacted by the funding problems.

If you aren’t sure who your elected state official is, click here to enter your home address and locate the right people to contact. You will find names, addresses, office phone numbers and email links after entering the information.

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Andy Dillon, is the one who has proposed a state-wide alternative to the messa insurance we currently have (and have bargained for over the years). His contact information is 517.373.0857 or andydillon@house.mi.gov
The Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mike Bishop, is the official I’ve watched saying we shouldn’t be “growing government” at a time like this. In other words, providing the money our schools need is, in his opinion, another example of “big government.” I’ll bet you never saw yourself in that light before! His contact information is 517.373.2417 or
Email via website at   http://www.senate.michigan.gov/gop/senators/

When you call or write, please remember to do so from home. Don’t use school email or phones.

The bottom line: politicians SAY they vote their conscience, but the reality is that they vote the way they think will get them re-elected or moved on to loftier positions of power. If they receive hundreds of concerned messages about the lack of money for schools (and police, fire, human services, etc.) they will sense change in the air and magically their “conscience” may change too.

Please take fifteen minutes to compose and send an email to your state representatives today, or take five minutes to make a brief comment via telephone.  The deadline is November 21, so we have just two weeks to make a difference — for our students and ourselves.