I’ve been too busy to post a follow up on the September 18th visit to the Capitol to advocate for state school finance reform. Sorry for the delay.
Let me start by thanking all those who participated. We had a good crowd, about thirty total in three groups, most under age twelve. As you can imagine it was a bit chaotic, but the energy was great. Next time we’ll try to be better organized…there will be next time and a time after that and beyond.
The kids were great and I loved the signs they brought. The parents were great too. I was impressed by how well informed their comments and questions were and how they pushed the legislators and staff to get past the canned talking points.
When I was thinking about it later it came to me that one of the things I like about Madison is that many people believe that they can make a difference, that they can create positive change. That was the spirit I saw in our group and the lesson I saw our children learning. How wonderful.
On one hand we know that a handful of parents and children is not going to undo the damage done by the $366,674 that Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce spent lobbying from January to June of 2007. On the other hand we know that if we refuse to be ignored, we can do some good. It is the William Lloyd Garrison “I will be heard” attitude. Keep it up!
We will be doing more of this, stay tuned for details. For now I want ask for a couple more things. First, for those who joined us at the Capitol a quick note to the offices you visited — thanking them for their time and reiterating the purpose of our effort — would be a good idea. All the legislators are listed here. The notes, letters and calls from those who couldn’t make it are always good too. I would especially push Brett Davis on the timeline of his proposal and for a better, less political explanation of why he refuses to give the Pope-Roberts resolution a hearing. The second request has to do with the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (disclosure, I’m a Board member of WAES). WAES has been doing the best work on state education finance reform for years. Recently it became clear that we will not be able to depend on foundation funding in the future and would need to find an alternate way to keep going. We are in the midst of transitioning to a dues structure. On October 1, Tom Beebe (of WAES) will be doing a presentation to the MMSD Board of Education Communications Committee, explaining the changes and beginning the process of asking that our district become a dues paying partner. There will be public comment that evening and your support would be appreciated.
Thanks to all again, especially those who got this started and the kids.
Thomas J. Mertz