We are busy in Southwest Pennsylvania organizing special actions and participating in statewide efforts to support equitable and sustainable funding for public education. Recent events focused specifically on public schools include:
- A Candlelight Vigil for the 285 Pittsburgh teachers losing their jobs (June 13, 2012)
- Bus trip to Harrisburg and Rally in the Capitol (May 22, 2012)
- Our “Operatic Rally” went viral, reaching an enormous national audience furious over cuts to arts education in our schools (May 12, 2012)
- Three Mock Bake Sales (April 14, 16 & 17, 2012)
- “WriteNow! Education Matters” at the Children’s Museum (April 14, 2012)
- Statewide call-your-legislator days (December 2011; January 25, 2012; March 5, 2012; May 23, 2012)
- We Are One Education Action (March 3, 2012)
- South Fayette Partners for Public Education (February 29, 2012)
- Fall Back in Love with Education Harrisburg teen rally (February 14, 2012)
- Rally for Public Education (February 11, 2012)
Because the state budget cuts have also deeply affected other public goods, such as public transportation and health and human services, public education has been a part of a number of collaborative actions, including:
- The Last Lunch: Cutting into the “Lean” PA Budget (March 1, 2012)
- We Are One Coalition Western Pennsylvania rally against the budget cuts (February 15, 2012)
- One Pittsburgh and One Campus Harrisburg rally for the budget announcement (February 7, 2012)
But we don’t need special events to Take Action! Here are some simple things we should all be doing, all the time:
1. Write your legislators. Click here to find contact information for your legislator. Take a look at some talking points on the state budget cuts. Consider hosting a letter writing party in your home. At a recent Colfax community event 40 parents and kids generated over 70 letters!
2. Call your legislators. Click here to find contact information for your legislator. See some tips for making your call. Connect to EdVoters for their “call in days”: in January and again in March, inspired by Pittsburgh Montessori parents, several schools coordinated events at drop-off and pick-up time that generated hundreds of calls and garnered media attention.
3. Meet with your legislators. Visit their district offices (read some tips on meeting with your legislator). A group met with Rep. Frankel in January and he really encouraged others to do the same – especially if you live in a suburban district. Lara Cosentino organized a group in the South Hills that recently met with Sen. Pippy. These are really important meetings – keep them up, and let us know what your legislators have to say about public education.
4. Write letters to the editor. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published 8 letters in the past few weeks. We need more! Especially from people outside of the East End. Also, keep sending them to the Tribune Review. Read sample letters for inspiration and see our media guide for other regional newspapers.
5. Write op-ed pieces. Judy Wertheimer had a fabulous op-ed piece on January 29th; Michael Crossey’s great op-ed ran on February 28th. Gaby Gonzalez and Jeff Shook have op-ed pieces in the works. The more the merrier, keep them coming!
6. Get local leaders active in the fight for public education. Jay Aronson and Tamara Dubowitz recently cornered Carnegie Mellon University President Jerry Cohen and convinced him to send a letter to the Governor (which they drafted) asking to reverse the state budget cuts to public K-12 schools. Which business and civic leaders do you know? Yinzercation can help with talking points and to draft letters.
7. Network, network, network. This is key. Reach out to personal networks in other parts of the City and the suburbs, with a particular focus on key legislative districts, e.g. Turzai’s district in the North Hills AND encourage others to reach out to their networks and do the same. Read about one Mt. Lebanon mom who has developed a simple networking strategy. Consider volunteering for Education Voter’s phone bank tool.
8. Amplify the message. Remember to invite the media to your events, including local education and news reporters, from newspapers, television and others you can think of (click here for local media contact information). And if they don’t come to your events, share copies of your letters and work with them after, so they’ll know a truly serious effort of community members is underway. Channel 11 news, the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review all showed up at a Colfax event because they were invited. Don’t miss the opportunity to reach out!
9. Stay in touch. On the sidebar to the right, enter your email and click “Sign me up” to receive email notifications of new posts on Yinzercation. Join the conversation on our Facebook page and on our google group, “Harrisburg Strategy,” and invite your contacts to do the same.
10. Register to vote. It goes without saying, but just in case you haven’t done this yet, you can get voter registration materials on-line. The Primary election is Tuesday, April 24, 2012.