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Education and Youth

ACT Won School Transportation Equity of $745,100

I believe this is an equity issue. I met with ACT this week and they told me that [school transportation] has been a problem not just for one year, not just for two years, but going back twenty, thirty, forty years.”
– Councilman Nathan Volke, R-District 3

ACT won a $745,100 restoration to the school transportation budget to fund seven jobs that will address systemic racial inequities, including overcrowding and gross inefficiencies. We brokered a truly bipartisan agreement, splitting the county council among both Democrat and Republican lines while lifting up generations of stories addressing the failings of school transit.

The Capital-Gazette filed an initial article on this action HERE
You can read our co-chair’s Op-Ed in the Capital-Gazette HERE



BUILD exceeds Turnout Quota to Win Mayor’s Commitment to School Funding

turned out 436 people from most member institutions to an action in November to demand that Mayor Young increase the school budget by $25-30M this year, $90M next year, and work with us towards the $330M needed to leverage well over $1B from state money.

Rev Foster Connors (clergy co-chair) and Rev Michael Martin of new member institution Stillmeadow Community of Faith co-chaired the action. Pastor George Hopkins led the action with framing and pinning the Mayor. BUILD leader Elizabeth Reichelt laid out the politics and
put tension on Mayor Young. As a result, BUILD won $120M over the next 2 years in increased educational funding. Father Bruce Lewandowski of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church closed the evening with a call to action: “The last shall be first, our children.” This down-payment of an additional $90M will help us argue for Kirwan and to keep the deal, we must organize people to go to Annapolis and hold all elected officials accountable.

Baltimore Sun:  Baltimore mayor tells agencies to anticipate cuts as city prepares to fund statewide plan to improve schools

Channel 2: Mayor Young: City will provide schools with additional funding for upcoming school year

Students, Parents Lead in School Construction Justice Action

For over two years, AIM leaders across the county have worked to secure funding to renovate two long-neglected elementary schools: Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools. This year, Superintendent Smith made these two schools (the two highest poverty schools on the school construction list) his top priorities. However, we knew that wasn’t enough—we needed to show members of the Board of Education in a real way that citizens of Montgomery County support the Superintendent’s priorities.

On Tuesday, November 5, students, leaders, teachers, and staff from Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools joined together, along with other leaders from AIM, before the Board of Education to demonstrate their united commitment to securing the best education possible for the children of Montgomery County.

With over 186 in attendance to stand with Burnt Mills and South Lake, the Board of Education had to open an overflow room to accommodate our energetic support.

Students and parents from the two schools testified about what they love about their schools. Sarah, a fifth grader from South Lake, told the Board of Ed, “Every morning, Ms. King, Mr. McKinley or Ms. Levy stop by my classroom to say good morning which makes us feel special.” For Gabriella from Burnt Mills, she loves that she has “great friends who stand up for me.”

Nevertheless, the physical facilities of these two schools are inadequate, in stark contrast to the warm community and excellent education found there.

A parent from South Lake asked the Board, “Did you know that we have only 3 girls and 3 boys bathrooms to serve all 897 students?”

A parent from Burnt Mills posed another question: “Kids have to eat lunch as late as 2pm because the cafeteria is way too small to accommodate the number of students in Burnt Mills. We are all aware that some of these kids do not get regular meals at home. How are they expected to concentrate in school on a hungry stomach?”

Gabriella reported, “In the room where I wrote this speech, the air conditioner was being held together with tape and propped up on boards. There is not central heating or air. Tiles were falling off the wall and there were tables and chairs and boxes on both sides of the hallway because there’s not enough storage.”

By showing up and standing together in support of new school construction for two of the highest-poverty schools in Montgomery County, the students and parents of Burt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools demonstrated to the Board of Education their very real commitment to securing the best education possible for their children.

The message was received loudly and clearly: Montgomery County residents support Superintendent Smith’s commitment to school construction justice for Burnt Mills and South Lake. Our students deserve better!

Orange County Justice United Wins Budget Support to Increase Teacher Diversity

Justice United members take action to win funds for diversity hiring.
Justice United won $156,000 in line item budget support from the Orange County Board of Education for a best practices strategy to increase teacher diversity within the school district where African American teaching staff is at a 10 year low. Read more in the Herald Sun

Jersey City Together decries schools funding crisis, secures $7 million in commitments

Bill Young from Jersey City Together questions Interim Superintedent Franklin Walker with Jyl Josephson

200 parent & faith leaders gathered in Jersey City on March 19th to press the interim superintendent and school board president to address the schools funding crisis head on and move the school system forward towards a world class district. This included demands to address lead in the water (the mayor pledged his support for this the day after the action as well), increasing per pupil funding, funding for social workers, counselors, and community schools, and additional funding through a reasonable tax increase. The initial budget includes these priorities, but the budget will not be finalized until May 2019.

Virginia Governor Makes Good on Commitment to VOICE, Proposes $36 Million to Fund Additional School Counselors

Governor Northam attended VOICE’s 1,358-person non-partisan accountability action on Oct. 22st
In addition to a raise in teacher salaries announced December 10th, Governor Northam is also proposing to allocate $36 million to fund additional school counselors for school divisions across the Commonwealth. This announcement comes on the heels of Governor Northam’s commitment to 1,358 VOICE leaders at the October 21st VOICE State Action that he would work with VOICE on a multi-year strategy to increase the school counselor-to-student ratio back to 1:250, which would cost $90M.

Durham Public School Board Hires Three New Bilingual Interpreters and Pledges to Improve Communication with Growing Spanish-speaking Community

Over 450 immigrants and their allies attend action with Durham Public School Board
Durham CAN demanded and won the hiring of three bilingual interpreters to serve the growing Spanish-speaking community. Over 25 percent of the student body at Durham Public Schools speaks a language other than English. Parents and students have trouble communicating with teachers, principals and counselors. The Durham Public Schools’ new Strategic Plan reflects additional hiring goals over the next five years. The announcement was made at a public action attended by over 450 immigrants and their allies.