Since the Portland Superintendent announced next year’s school budget, I have received about a hundred emails and letters from concerned parents, teachers, and constituents. Every letter has encouraged me not to cut positions and to not to reduce classes, administration, and opportunities for students. Several parents let me know that that they would prefer that Portland City Councilors raise taxes before cutting funding and positions at Portland’s schools.
I started my political involvement in Portland as a member of the Occupy movement. I arranged marches and demonstrations to call attention to massive austerity and cuts for schools. I ran for School Board in Portland with the desire foster educational opportunities for children in Maine.
I encourage every parent, student, teacher, and anyone who loves education to get involved in your local activist communities. We need a social movement to counter our culture of recession, which has plagued our schools especially over the past decade. I am calling on you to join me in taking direct action to pressure your representatives, state legislature, and national government to end the downward spiral that we have created for ourselves. I do not believe that simply sending an email with concern will create the change that you and I so desperately want to see in this world.
As you know, I am not for cutting any services or positions that will negatively impact students. The state is cutting funding in order to place the burden directly upon the local taxpayers. The City Council would have to approve a local tax increase for us to remain at the same budget. If you would like to pay more in taxes to support our schools, PLEASE let your City Councilor know! If your representatives continues to be complacent or “rubber stamp” these devastating cuts or to follow status quo, don’t vote for them!
When I reflect upon the global recession that we have been facing for years now, I am reminded that we are in the same boat as “failing” economies and other “failing “ schools. The problem is a global austerity agenda that we the people need to work to end. I have spoken with the teacher’s unions and have encouraged the unions to stand up and join me in events that will call media and local attention to the austerity problem.
On May first, the AFL-CIO and other activists will march starting at 4pm at Lincoln Park. If you are concerned about massive education cuts, you should join the celebration on “May Day” this year and create an event in Portland to call attention to our schools and the future for our children.