Please join us for our next Alki Elementary Advocacy Committee Meeting.
Town Hall with our District 34 State Legislators
Senator Joe Nguyen
Representative Eileen Cody Representative Joe Fitzgibbon
TOPIC: Statewide Funding for School Health Professionals
WHEN: Wednesday, 5/6/2020, 6:30pm-7:30pm
For our next Alki Advocacy Committee Meeting, we will be hosting a Town Hall with our District 34 Legislators, Sen Joe Nguyen, Rep Eileen Cody, & Rep Joe Fitzgibbon. This is the next step in our pursuit of statewide funding for School Health Professionals.
In preparation for this meeting, it is not required but if you can make some time to do a bit of research, that would be much appreciated. You can pick something that interests you on this spreadsheet…
…and fill-in any information that you find helpful. The more we educate ourselves on this issue, the better prepared we will be to ask the right questions in the Town Hall (and beyond).
You can also re-acquaint yourselves with what we discussed in our previous meeting, here…
Zoom Call = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7teyAp5fLI Presentation Slides = https://tinyurl.com/AlkiAdvocacyMeeting-20200414
Please join us for this opportunity to prepare our legislators for the big decisions that they’ll have to make with regard to how to keep our children and community healthy upon a return to school, and along the journey that follows.
What’s all this stuff about Advocacy lately? What is that? Why is there an Advocacy Committee? What’s that all about?
All children need someone to look out for them, to help make their education a success. But not all children are positioned with equal access to that support. Left entirely to its own devices the institution of education does not equally distribute opportunity. Systemic issues like racism, sexism, poverty, developmental differences, and several other things position some children with more opportunity than others. So for every decision that we make in our community, we should be asking, “What is the impact on students, particularly those furthest from opportunity?”
When we discover that we need to advocate for children’s opportunity, it’s quite difficult for any one person to do this on their own. There is emotion, there is personal perspective, and although these often provide the initial spark for change, just one or two people acting on their emotions can lack the capacity and credibility to achieve change. They have a much better chance of reaching their goal by transforming their emotion into a strategy. Systemic problems are often so much stronger than any one person, and advocacy is therefore more likely to reach an outcome with a group of people pooling their resources to complete all the necessary research and planning.
So on this past Tuesday (4/14), we had our first Alki PTA Advocacy Meeting. We want to be able to support each other in our efforts to advocate for children with less opportunity. But why, all of the sudden, are we doing that now?
School Nurses and Counselors are not completely funded by Washington State. These critical services are therefore dependent on funding from the district, and each school’s community fundraising efforts. Alki’s PTA funds our half-time counselor, and recent success at the Auction is increasing school nurse hours for next year. This is awesome, and even if we can continue to find ways to sustain it, we recognize that this is in large part due to our fortunate position. Lack of statewide funding for school nurses and counselors is clearly not equitable for all children, as school communities with substantial PTA funds can pay these salaries, while several other school communities cannot. This is, and always has been, an equity issue. A classic example of opportunity being afforded to some children, but not others.
Enter Covid-19, and now any lack of coverage for School Nurses and Counselors, throughout the state, is a public health issue. It always was, but certainly now more than ever. Can we really send our children back to school without nurses there to monitor for symptoms? Can we really send our children back to school without counselors to help them re-adjust? Without statewide funding many schools will have to re-open without professional health services.
We’ve been engaging the Seattle Council PTSA (SCPTSA) on this issue, and we took the opportunity to discuss this with Seattle Superintendent Juneau at a recent Town Hall. She agreed that solving for this will require legislation, and then the very next day the Covid-19 crisis forced Governor Inslee to veto $445million in new spending on 147 programs, including almost $150million for much better school counselor coverage throughout Washington. There will likely be a special session for the legislature very soon, and it will likely involve even more difficult budget decisions, to prepare for the obvious revenue shortfall that is already being observed in the Covid-19 economy.
So we are organizing right now, as the Alki Advocacy Committee, to compel our legislators to make decisions at the advice of scientists, at the advice of the CDC, and to be fully prepared with proper health services when children return to school. We are partnering with Child Health activists throughout Seattle to ensure that we understand the issue fully, have a clear ask, are prepared for counter-arguments, and have the best chance to advocate successfully for the health of our children, and for our community.
If you’d like to help with this effort, please reach out! Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
, and we’ll sync up on how you might like to help. Thank you for caring about the health and opportunity of all children!
– Mike Uehara-Bingen, Alki PTA Advocacy Chair