Tuesday, June 2, 2009
LOBBYING FOR EDUCATION
Our trip to Sacramento yesterday was a huge success!
We were able to take 5 students and 5 teachers onto the senate floor when they went into session. After the prayer and the pledge, Senator Mark DeSaulnier introduced us to the senate while the other teachers, parents, and family members watched from the gallery. We sat in on the senate session and experienced our state lawmaking process in action (much more casual than we expected). Sen. DeSaulnier knelt down beside us for much of the time talking to us about the process and his views. After about an hour, we left the floor and went into a hallway outside where the senator listened while the teachers, parents, and students shared their experiences with the recent budget cuts to education:
- Mr. Cuizon introduced our group and the intention of our visit; we were there to impress upon him, and other lawmakers, how important educational funding is and to implore them to consider our stories when in the process of making laws and balancing the budget.
- Ms. Machado spoke about the effect on our own school and how it felt to have a pink slip served and then rescinded.
- Ms. Adler told her story of multiple status changes and the uncertainty she has been dealing with for months now.
- Mrs. Hood shared the story of her and her husband's loss of employment in the district and the effect it is having on their family.
- Mrs. Murphy talked about the journalism class and their activism, as well as the feeling of being a non-pink slipped teacher and the fight she felt she needed to be a part of for her friends and colleagues.
- Mrs. Eitzel spoke of feelings and concerns that our students' parents are going through due to the cuts in funding. She mentioned a serious concern for the future and safety of MDUSD's students if the program and personnel cuts go through.
- Our 5 students took turns sharing their letters and thoughts very eloquently (making us all very proud).
Senator DeSaulnier listened to us all and spoke to our group at the end. He shared his concerns and urged the students to stay active. We then handed over the letters/DVD the students of EDMS wrote and created for him and thanked him for his time as he headed back to the floor of the senate.
Next, our group took our message to the office of another local lawmaker, CA Assemblyman Tom Torlakson. He too was in session at the time, but his Chief of Staff Richard Zeiger welcomed our (unannounced) visit and took a great deal of time to talk to our group about the current state crisis and the importance of our kids' diligence in staying active and informed. We dropped off letters and asked him to forward our message to Asm. Torlakson.
Finally, we took the students' letters which were addressed to the governor down to Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. Mr. Cuizon went in and delivered them to the governor's secretary.
It was a great day due to the help of the amazing staff in Mark DeSaulnier's office. Thank you to Lia Muñoz and Lynne Shields especially. You have made our movement here in Concord feel important and meaningful on a larger level and we appreciate the work you're doing.
Thanks also to the amazing parents of our 7th graders. Your children are a reflection of your passion and integrity and I'm sure you are deeply (and justifiably) proud of the people they have become.