Ten people sat down this afternoon with Representative Frankel to talk about the state budget crisis and the work of this group to date. Rep. Frankel continues to be a huge supporter of public education and the group wanted to find out what he feels our grassroots movement should be doing to sway our legislative leaders on this issue. Here is a re-cap of the conversation:
- On Gov. Corbett’s budget announcement (Feb. 7th), Rep. Frankel feels the “best case” scenario would be that we will see no additional cuts, but no additional spending on public schools. The good news is that we may avoid additional cuts because our voices are being heard; the bad news is that keeping state subsidies to our schools flat will actually result in a decrease in money, since costs continue to go up (including mandated expenses such as pension contributions).
- A group is forming to work on a response to Governor Corbett’s budget announcement. Kathy Newman is coordinating a meeting for next week: if you are interested in helping with this event, please contact her at knewman4_at_gmail.com. We are hoping to get parents from across the region involved in this, with lots of media attention.
- Rep. Frankel agreed that it is crucial to continue reaching out to suburban districts and pull in all our friends and colleagues to this effort: the battle will be won only with Republican support, and those legislators need to hear from their constituents. Setting up meetings with those legislators with small groups of their constituents, like the one held today, is key.
- On March 5th, the House will have a committee hearing with Sec. of Education Tomalis testifying: Rep. Frankel believes this could be a good opportunity to “fill the stands.” It is Pitt’s spring break and it was suggested that we try to recruit some Pitt students, many of whom are local public school graduates, to attend such an event, too. Mark your calendars, and if you are interested in working on this, please join our google discussion group and let us know!
- Finally, Rep. Frankel suggested starting a “rolling protest,” with groups from across the state each taking a week when the legislature is in session during the budget negotiation process and sending people to Harrisburg. He feels it could actually be quite effective to have even 200-300 people showing up each week to rally and then knock on legislator’s doors (again, particularly if the groups include constituents from Republican districts). There was enthusiasm for this idea as it would help our movement stay visible during the critical May-June period. Jessie Ramey will talk to our friends at Education Voters PA to see if there is interest in coordinating state-wide. And again, if you are interested in working on this, please join our google discussion group and let us know!