Stemming from a discussion during the May Education Team meeting, the following letter was sent to the Board of County Commissioners regarding the proposed Board of Education budget.
Members of the Board of County Commissioners-
We are writing on behalf of the People's Alliance Education Team today to offer our support for the Board of Education proposal to provide 10.9m of additional dollars to fund the Durham Public Schools for the upcoming 2017-18 budget year. We are asking you today to stand with the BOE, and our community, to fully fund this request.
As we all know too well, our public schools are drastically underfunded at the state level, and the recent actions of the General Assembly fail to improve funding for public education. We recognize that local governments are left in an untenable position. But the fact remains that this is where we are, and that you, our County Commissioners, will make the final decision on funding for our schools in Durham in a way that allows for either continued support, or that further depletes a system that is already significantly strained.
We are aware that fully supporting the Board of Education's funding proposal requires homeowners to shoulder a tax increase on top of what is already slated in order to support the 2016 bond vote. While we share the frustration that we have to find this money locally at all, and stand with you in placing the blame squarely on the lack of state support, we also know that the citizens of Durham have consistently indicated that education is a service they are willing to increase taxes to support. Please listen to our citizens now.
As the People's Alliance Education Team, we can commit to you that we will continue to work to lobby the state for the funding that our schools and our children deserve along with other public education advocates. We will also continue to work with the Durham Board of Education to increase budget transparency and to utilize funding in a way that is both most efficient and funnels money to the places that best serve our children.
Funding the budget as the BOE has requested is critical if we want to support our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. We look forward to hearing the voices of the community with you on June 12th, and continuing to work alongside your board to support our public schools.
Molly Parks and Amanda Maris
Co-chairs of the People's Alliance Education Team
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Why are we proposing updates? The PA vision statement has served the organization well for many years. In 2017, the PA board reviewed the vision statement and decided that some revisions would allow it to more fully encompass all areas we focus on in our work today - including adding a more explicit commitment to dismantling structural racism and other forms of oppression. The board also believes that adding a mission statement, which PA does not currently have, could help clarify how we go about pursuing our vision.
What is the process for making for updates? The board has drafted a mission statement and updated vision statement. We are asking for PA members to provide feedback on this draft and help us refine it so that it reflects the values that should guide PA's work. Please use this form to sign-up to attend a gathering to provide feedback on the draft vision and mission statement. We will hold several sessions to gather PA member input and will make revisions to the vision and mission statement based on the feedback we receive (more opportunities for feedback will be added if there is interest). We'll update the membership on next steps over the coming months. Finalizing the vision and mission statement will be contingent on a full membership vote at a future membership meeting. Please email Magan Thigpen (PA Board, Co-President) with any questions or concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DRAFT PA VISION & MISSION STATEMENT FOR MEMBER FEEDBACK
Our Vision for Durham as a Model Progressive Community
We believe in a just, equitable and inclusive Durham where all people can live well. This will be possible when everyone:
Works to dismantle structural racism and other forms of oppression, including sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and homophobia.
Supports and advocates for the rights of LGBTQ people
Benefits from strong public education
Votes, stays informed and advocates for how we want our elected officials to act
Can support themselves and their families on full-time employment with living wages
Advocates for workers’ rights to organize for their collective interests
Lives in quality and affordable housing and are not displaced from their neighborhoods as a result of gentrification.
Has access to quality and affordable healthcare, transportation, nutritious food and other basic needs that we all require to lead full lives
Embraces those who come here as immigrants or refugees as full members of our community
Can breathe clean air, drink clean water and enjoy a variety of natural environments
Lives free of fear from all forms of violence, including state sanctioned violence
Embraces the truth that there is enough for all
We work to advance this vision for Durham as a model progressive community by:
Engaging with Durham’s elected officials and holding them accountable 365 days a year
Advocating for just, equitable and inclusive policies and practices
Educating and building the capacity of Durhamites to be progressive activists who:
1. Show up for direct action
2. Advocate for progressive elected officials, policies & practices
3. Promote change within their spheres of influence
4. Educate others on causes aligned to our vision
CURRENT PA VISION STATEMENT (for reference)
What we want our community to be like: A community can be more than a place where people live. It can be a place where people live well. We are committed to a community where all basic needs are met and each individual has the opportunity for a life of accomplishment, dignity and pride.
We envision our community, from local to global, as one which follows these principles:
Community Guarantee of Basic Needs. Our economy will provide full employment in safe workplace. In our community there will be affordable housing, health care, public transportation, quality childcare and education for our children, nutritious food available at reasonable prices, and recreational and cultural opportunities open to all. The cost of providing for basic needs will be distributed fairly within the community.
Celebration of Diversity. Our community will be a place where the perspectives of diverse groups such as different races, economic classes, genders, religious perspectives, sexual orientation, ages, and abilities, are respected. There will be an atmosphere of tolerance, good humor, and recognition of diverse cultural values.
Stewardship. Our economy will encourage local self-sufficiency through the use of renewable resources of both energy and goods. We will maintain clean air, water and a variety of natural environments.
Local Decision-Making. Citizens will participate in democratic decision-making within our neighborhoods and community. People affected by decisions will play a major role in those decisions.