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Education and Youth

Virginia Governor Makes Good on Commitment to VOICE, Proposes $36 Million to Fund Additional School Counselors

Governor Northam attended VOICE’s 1,358-person non-partisan accountability action on Oct. 22st
 
In addition to a raise in teacher salaries announced December 10th, Governor Northam is also proposing to allocate $36 million to fund additional school counselors for school divisions across the Commonwealth. This announcement comes on the heels of Governor Northam’s commitment to 1,358 VOICE leaders at the October 21st VOICE State Action that he would work with VOICE on a multi-year strategy to increase the school counselor-to-student ratio back to 1:250, which would cost $90M.
 

Durham Public School Board Hires Three New Bilingual Interpreters and Pledges to Improve Communication with Growing Spanish-speaking Community

Over 450 immigrants and their allies attend action with Durham Public School Board
 
Durham CAN demanded and won the hiring of three bilingual interpreters to serve the growing Spanish-speaking community. Over 25 percent of the student body at Durham Public Schools speaks a language other than English. Parents and students have trouble communicating with teachers, principals and counselors. The Durham Public Schools’ new Strategic Plan reflects additional hiring goals over the next five years. The announcement was made at a public action attended by over 450 immigrants and their allies.
 
 

First-Ever IAF “Writing for Organizers and Leaders” Workshop Held in Chicago


Greg Pierce, publisher of ACTA Publications in Chicago and long-time IAF leader and organizer
 
Do we have to “love” writing to do it well, or can we write well just because it needs to be done? 
 

Maryland IAF Wins Commitments from State Delegates and Senators to Fully Fund Maryland Schools


Youth leaders share their experiences attending Baltimore City Schools.
 
Maryland is fighting to lead the country by giving public schools the resources they need. The Kirwan Commission, which brings together representatives from across Maryland to make recommendations for improving education in the state, is set to issue a once-in-a-generation plan for fully funding schools - a $3 Billion increase across the state if it passes and gets funded in the 2019 legislative session.
 
The Maryland Industrial Areas Foundation (MD-IAF) [People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), Action in Montgomery (AIM), and Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD)] targeted Maryland legislators with a week of action to gain commitments to pass and fully fund the Kirwan Commission recommendations.
 
MD IAF Week of Action kicked off with 65 BUILD leaders at "Truth 101" with Baltimore City Public Schools Chief of Staff Alison Perkins-Cohen. Leaders and Ms. Perkins-Cohen set the record straight on the truth behind Baltimore City's funding, and made sure every person in the room could go back to their schools, neighborhoods, and houses of faith to become truth-tellers about Baltimore City School Funding.
 
The rest of the week in Baltimore, Howard County, and Montgomery County, actions at local schools and churches turned out 400 leaders at six actions. At all Baltimore City actions, youth leaders made the direct asks of their elected officials and shared their experiences in Baltimore City Schools, emphasizing the need for mental health professionals and counselors in schools, particularly when students are in crisis and there is no one for them to talk to. Twelve State Delegates and Senators and three candidates committed to work with MD IAF to fully fund the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.
 

BUILD leaders sharing the truth behind Baltimore City’s school funding with BCPS Chief of Staff Alison Perkins-Cohen.

Jersey City Together Push Adds $5.3 Million for Schools


Jersey City Together leaders fight for “banked cap” to be included in school board budget, providing an additional $5.3 million for schools.

At a time when Jersey City schools are $100 million underfunded every year ($3,250 per student), Jersey City Together research uncovered an opportunity that would allow the school board to add an additional $5.3 million in local tax revenue by using its "banked cap." Jersey City Together organized parents from across the city to pressure the school board "not to leave money on the table" when the district was threatening layoffs and many schools don't have access to working water fountains. On May 7th, the Jersey City Board of Education passed their 2018-2019 budget including the full banked cap as part of it. The board credited Jersey City Together's research & organizing with making this happen and with bringing the "banked cap" to their attention. Jersey Journal article.

Get Out The Vote Effort Launched in Durham as Leaders Take Action to Increase Bilingual Personnel in Schools


450 Latino Leaders and allies met at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham with Candidates for School Board and Sheriff. 
 
On May 6th the NC Congress of Latino Organizations and Durham CAN launched a get out the vote effort after 450 Latino leaders and allies negotiated and won agreements with candidates for Durham Public School Board and Sheriff .
 
Latino leaders uncovered the lack of bilingual personnel in a School District where 30% of the student population is Latino.  None of the counselors in the 53 schools of the District are bilingual.  On average, each interpreter serves more than one thousand families.  All candidates for school board agreed to invest in the hiring of at least two additional interpreters as well as to back their proposal to the superintendent and his promise to introduce a five year public hiring plan to deal with the critical shortage of bilingual personnel.
 

See short video HERE.

 

VOICE Victorious in Keeping Fairfax County Public Schools Accountable to Honoring Muslim Holidays, Wins Options for Muslim Students Taking Standardized Testing During Ramadan


VOICE leaders at May 2017 action where Fairfax County Public Schools committed to honoring Muslim and Jewishholidays.
 
VOICE leaders received notification from Fairfax County Public Schools regarding student end-of-the-year standardized testing. Fairfax County Schools will allow all Muslim families with children fasting for Ramadan to take their standardized tests before the designated testing timeframe, which would be prior to the start of Ramadan. 
 
Schools have also made available to parents the option for students to take their tests during the designated school testing period, but with a request for students to take their tests in the early morning when children have better energy levels. This victory follows VOICE’s demands that Fairfax and Prince William Counties honor Muslim and Jewish holidays by issuing new regulations that student absences related to the celebration of religious holidays would not affect attendance records. The two counties also committed to avoiding testing and major school events during those holidays as well.

BUILD Victory Restores $2.58 Million in Cuts to After-School Programs

On June 7th, BUILD won the restoration of $2.58 million in cuts to Baltimore City after-school and community school programs.  The BUILD One Baltimore campaign began in 2015 with jobs, safety, and youth program funding demands. Every major Mayoral candidate – including then candidate Pugh – agreed to these demands at the largest Baltimore City mayoral candidate accountability forum in March 2016.

When Mayor Pugh reneged on her promise to retain funding for after-school programs, BUILD, along with the No Boundaries Coalition and the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP), confronted the Mayor at a youth-led action attended by hundreds of youth and supportive adults. When she refused to meet demands, BUILD stepped up the pressure by securing unanimous commitment from City Council members to make cuts to the Mayor’s budget to force her to restore money to the school budget.  Halfway through the June 7th youth-led hearing before the Council budget committee attended by hundreds, Council President Jack Young announced that negotiations had ended with the Mayor agreeing to restore the funding.

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