November 23, 2004 – Legislator tours and Parents United Update

November 23, 2004 – Legislator tours and Parents United Update

 
The election is over.  Thank you for making our public schools an issue throughout the election cycle! Now we need to turn our attention to the legislative session.  If public schools are going to see relief from their funding problems we need a concerted effort to make that happen.

Parents United Network, in cooperation with the PTA and Parents United for Public Schools, is working to bring legislators into Minnesota’s public schools, with parents as their hosts.  This is our second year hosting Legislative Tours of our schools.  Our goal is to get more parents involved with their legislators on public school issues and inform legislators, from a parent perspective of the successes and the challenges facing schools in their districts. We are also looking for their commitment to work for our public schools.

We are hoping you will be interested in participating in this important event.  We are asking that you host a tour between December 1, 2004 and January 20, 2005.  The session begins on January 4 and many legislators may be too busy those first weeks to be home and visiting schools.

Parents United Network will provide parents with any help they need inviting and hosting their representative.  A simple, step-by step “How-To” packet is available.  The suggested time frame for the visit is two hours.  We expect this to be a great experience for parents, legislators and the children.

You may want to suggest to your legislator that they invite a colleague to accompany them on their tour—and invite a parent from that legislative district as well.  This is a great opportunity for legislators and parents to visit schools outside of their own districts to gain a sense of the struggles schools are having around the state.  Your legislator may want to invite one of his/her colleagues that sit on the education committee. If they do not know of a parent from that district who may be interested in touring a school, we certainly have contacts in most areas.

We hope you will be interested in hosting your legislator in your child’s school.  We will do all the follow-up with you or any other prospective parents.—please feel free to email Mary Cecconi or call her with your questions.  Mary can be reached at 651-214-6565 or mary@parentsunitednetwork.org.

Other exciting news is that Parents United for Public Schools (PUPS) received a grant of $25,000 from the Otto Bremer Foundation last August to help get positive messages about supporting public schools out to a broader audience.  PUPS is developing an e-mail and mail campaign to attempt to match the funds from the Bremer Foundation and plan to then launch a media campaign in early 2005. We will keep you updated on our progress and welcome both your support and input for our efforts.

This coming legislative session will impact the education of your children in public schools in many ways:

  • Funding:  Will the state provide an inflationary increase on the basic funding formula? Will voucher pilot programs pass into legislation? Will the legislature provide funding adequate for students to meet state standards? Will the legislature allow principals to manage the majority of state dollars rather than district? Will school boards get the authority to levy for state-equalized dollars to fund mandatory programs like special education and transportation?
  • State Testing: How can the state provide for measures of student progress? What knowledge and skills will tests emphasize and how will that impact the instruction of your children? How can the state provide for better communication of test content and results to you?
  • State Standards: Will students be able to meet all of the hundreds of state academic standards? How can the state better prioritize and communicate state academic standards?

Tune in to www.parentsunited.org and www.parentsunitednetwork.org now through the legislative session for updates on these and other important education issues that will impact the quality and quantity of education opportunities for your children.