The Political Action Committee of the MEA is chaired by Tom Lynch and Shane Rozamus.
This committee interviews candidates for local offices and makes recommendations to the Executive Board. Committee meetings are held at various times throughout the year, depending on political season. Please refer to the calendar for meeting dates and times.
The PAC often holds fundraising activities throughout the year to build our political action account. This account is used to contribute to candidates who stand with MEA on education issues, and who MEA recommends. Dues dollars do not go toward Political Action.
Think Education: The MEA asks for all members to contribute $5 each year to build the PAC fund. For every $5 donated, the members name goes into a box used for multiple raffles throughout the year.
Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) News:
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter
October 12, 2018
Welcome to our October 12th newsletter! As always, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.
Boston Public School Students Have a Message for Northeastern University
Many Boston Public Schools lack librarians, cafeterias and nurses – partly because the city hasn’t had the money to pay for them. But parents, students, educators and activists have an answer: Boston’s wealthy institutions like universities and hospitals, need to pay their fair share towards the city’s public schools.
Boston has a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program that asks non-profit institutions that are exempted from paying property taxes, to make a contribution towards the city services that they receive—like fire and police protection, snow removal…and public schools. But many of these institutions, even though they sit on huge endowments, fail to pay their full PILOT contribution each year, denying the city budget tens of millions of dollars.
For example, Northeastern University has paid only 29% of its requested PILOT taxes this year, meaning that over $13 million that could have gone to public education, healthcare or affordable housing, instead stayed in Northeastern’s coffers. Can the university afford to contribute? Well, the home of the Huskeys just finished construction of a new $225 million science and engineering complex, while still ending FY 2017 with a surplus of over $66 million.
Today, October 12th, over 90 elementary school students, high school organizers and parents are descending on Northeastern University to ask the university to do its part.
For more information about Boston’s PILOT program and the campaign, by the PILOT Action Group and the Boston Education Justice Alliance, is available at https://pilotaction.weebly.com/ You can also sign a petition urging Boston’s universities and hospitals to pay their share.
A Shift in the Winds on School Funding — A guest article by Jeff Bryant
In a promising sign, many Democrats running for office in the November midterm elections are proposing tax increases for education. In Arizona’s competitive governors race, Democratic candidate David Garcia wants to bring back the state’s sales tax, close corporate tax loopholes and exemptions, and make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. In the tight race for governor of Florida, Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum wants to raise corporate income taxes and tax legalized marijuana sales. Ben Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland, wants to boost teacher pay by 29 percent and legalize and tax marijuana to pay for prekindergarten for 4-year-olds.
For years, polls have found that Americans name lack of funding as the biggest problem facing their local schools. But the share of the public that agrees with that is the highest ever, with two-thirds saying teacher pay is too low and 60 percent supporting spending more on students who need extra support. Half of the public favors raising taxes to accommodate the additional need. There’s a reason for the support for increased school funding. It works. There is a direct correlation between what we spend on schools to how well our students perform on achievement tests and other measures. In states that were forced by court order to increase education spending, students experienced gains in student achievement.
Teacher Walk-Outs Help Elevate the Need for More Funding
You can credit last spring’s wave of teacher walkouts and protests for making people more aware of the need to fund school resources for students, pay teachers a professional salary, and upgrade aging school buildings. Listen to these teachers protesting in Raleigh, North Carolina explain what schools need to ensure their students are educated.
The spring “RedForEd” actions were heard by candidates for office at all levels. Over 500 teachers are running for office in November, and voters will have other opportunities to stand up for their schools. In November, important ballot measures in three states – Colorado, Hawaii, and Utah – call for raising taxes for schools. Here’s a complete description of all the ballot measures in this election that could make or break school funding. Today, the Center for American Progress is out with a new report finding that if all the ballot questions on education passed in November, an additional $2.6 billion could be made available for schools. That’s a start. More investment is needed at all levels, as documented in the latest report from AROS, Confronting the Education Debt.
As is the tradition, Education Secretary embarked on her second “Back to School” tour last week. Again dubbed the “Rethink School” tour, DeVos visited a mixture of charter, public and private schools in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana—all states carried by President Trump in the 2016 elections, and surely targeted to boost Republican turn-out in the November mid-terms.
In one surprise comment, DeVos said she believes that teacher salaries should be raised, even suggesting that “the best teachers” should be making $250,000 per year. But, as Education Weeknoted, DeVos hasn’t backed that statement up with action, but has in fact called for the elimination of a federal program that helps cover teacher salaries in some districts.
DeVos was met by protesters when she stopped to visit the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The persistent protests against DeVos are probably part of the reason why DeVos is the first education secretary, and the only current cabinet member who is protected by the Federal Marshals Service, to the tune of over $7.7 million annually, according to the Washington Post. The Federal Marshals Service calls the protection of DeVos “commensurate with the existing threat.” PHOTO CREDIT: Bob Andres, Atlanta Journal Constitution
DeVos Pays Secret Visit to Koch Industries Group
An unannounced component of Secretary DeVos’ travels last week included a visit to Koch Industries in Wichita, Kansas on October 1st. The meeting at the Koch Industries offices was not listed in the Secretary’s schedule, published regularly by the Department of Education. Nor were local school district officials or the media informed of her visit.
DeVos apparently met with a small group of teachers and students from a Wichita-based non-profit called Young Entrepreneurs, which is funded by Charles Koch.
DeVos, as you will recall, is a major donor to the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing organization that has been active in the fight to privatize public schools among many other causes. Read more about the Secretary’s visit to Koch Industries HERE.
“Get out of the line to buy school supplies and get in line to demand the state fully fund public schools.” – Andre Perry
Confronting the Education Debt – a new report from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools – identifies over $580 billion in authorized federal funding to support public schools, particularly in Black, Brown and low-income communities, that has not been appropriated over the last 13 years alone.
Confronting the Education Debt identifies five policy choices, made by elected officials at all levels of government, that contribute to the under-funding of our public schools:
1. * Federal under-funding of Title I and IDEA;
2. * State and local school funding formulas that inherently cause inequities in school funding;
3. * Tax codes and corporate subsidies that help the rich get richer, while draining public budgets of much-needed funds;
4. * Rising investments in corrections and police—including investments that disproportionately criminalize Black and Brown students and contribute to the School-to-Prison Pipeline;
5. * Privatization, including charter schools and voucher programs.
The report was released yesterday (September 12th) at an event held in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference at the D.C. Convention Center. It was a spirited event that included speakers from labor and community organizations. We were thrilled to hear from Virginial Congressman Bobby Scott, who has been a stalwart supporter of public education and has introduced bills each year calling for billions in new funding for public schools. Also speaking were Advancement Project director Judith Brown Dianis, Alliance for Education Justice director Jonathan Stith, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Center for Popular Democracy’s Jennifer Epps-Addison, SEIU’s Executive Vice President Heather Conroy, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Schott Foundation President John Jackson, Coalition for Community Schools Director Jose Munoz, Journey for Justice representative Zakiyah Ansari and Denisha Jones with the Badass Teachers Association.
The report is getting some attention. The Young Turks published a story about the report, along with two videos (see them here, and here) that are gaining tens of thousands of views and hundreds of shares. The report was also covered in the Hechinger Report, and by bloggers Jan Resseger, Jeremy Mohlerand Jeff Bryant.
The next steps are to continue driving out the report and pressing the narrative that public schools in Black and Brown communities are broke on purpose!!
(Photos from top: Representative Bobby Scott, AROS Director Keron Blair, Advancement Project Director Judith Brown Dianis)
“This report and its findings should outrage and push every parent, community member and educator to get informed, active and engaged in the education justice movement, especially with the midterm elections just around the corner.” – Zakiyah Ansari
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is calling on Congress, as well as state and local legislative bodies, to make a new commitment to fund the schools all our students deserve. These steps would get us started:
1. * Fully fund Title I and IDEA;
2. * Dedicate federal, state and local funding to the creation of 25,000 Sustainable Community Schools;
3. * Establish a new focus on equity at the U.S. Department of Education;
4. * Make the wealthy, and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes;
5. * Divest from the school-to-prison pipeline;
6. * Place an immediate moratorium on the Federal Charter Schools Program, which funds new charter start-ups regardless of need or invitation from the communities affected.
Together, we can confront the Education Debt. The time to start is now. Download the full report and additional resources from: http://educationdebt.reclaimourschools.org This website includes some organizing tools, a social media toolkit, quotes from other education justice activists and organizers, and more. Please help us drive this message out. Share this e-blast with your friends!