May 23: Call-in day for education funding

This is our last chance to make our voices heard loud and clear in the Governor's Office and in the State Legislature. We need all of you to participate in the statewide call-in day for public education funding and convince everyone you know to participate. The Call-in Day and flyer published on Yinzercation is pasted below so you can easily circulate it via email to friends and colleagues. 

Q. I've already called my representative and the Governor; they know how I feel. Why should I call again on May 23rd?
A. We need to keep the pressure on, especially now while the Governor’s additional $100 MILLION in proposed budget cuts to public schools are under consideration. (That’s on top of the continuation of the $1 BILLION in cuts our schools suffered last year.) It’s not like voting: you can, and should, call your legislators more than once! When we participate in these call-in days scheduled by our friends at Ed Voters PA, we add our voices to a state-wide movement – there’s a real multiplier effect when we all do this together on a single day. Legislators hear us!

Q. But my legislator is already supportive of public education. Why should I bother him (or her) about this?
A. Even if your representative generally supports public education, we want her (or him) to take a more active role – especially during these next few critical weeks. You might ask your legislator to become a public education champion. And it doesn’t hurt to let them know that we “have their back” on this issue. We will never see sustainable dollars put back into our schools unless our legislators take this issue by the horns.

Q. Phone calls seem so simple. Is this really working?

A. Yes! Legislators and others in Harrisburg tell us that they are hearing from parents in numbers they have never seen before. Our other actions are important, too (rallies, letters, face-to-face meetings) – but these call-in days are an opportunity for all of us to speak up and be heard directly by our politicians. They are listening!

Q. What should I tell them?

A. Give a couple examples about how these state budget cuts are having a devastating impact on our school. At Colfax, we:
• Lost our after-school and Saturday tutoring program for struggling students
• Had to layoff paraprofessionals (adults in classrooms) and custodians
• Have larger class sizes and no more supply or text book money
• Will lose our Parent Engagement Specialist, our Gifted Education teachers, our instrumental teacher, and possibly our librarian next year

Q. Where should the state find money to pay for public schools?

A. We need our legislators to find a sustainable way to support public schools, using an equitable formula (like the one recently abandoned by Governor Corbett). It’s a matter of priorities. Here are some suggestions for sources of revenue:
• Close the Delaware Loophole, one of the single largest forms of corporate welfare
• Tax Marcellus shale (even the drilling companies have said they’re willing to pay)
• Eliminate the bonus depreciation rule passed by the Revenue Department last year without a legislative vote (cost us $260 the first half of this fiscal year alone)
• Repeal the sales tax exemptions for things like coal ($120M) and candy ($90M) which essentially give away state revenue

Gov. Corbett:  

Rep. Frankel:  (717) 705-1875 or (412) 422-1774
PA House District 23: Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze (South), Greenfield, Park Place (west of Braddock), Regent Square, Shadyside

Sen. Costa:  (717) 787-7683 or  (412) 241-6690
PA Senate District 43: Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze (South), Greenfield, Park Place (all), Regent Square, Shadyside

Rep. Preston:  (717) 783-1017 or  (412) 361-3692
PA House District 24: East Hills, East Liberty, Highland Park, Park Place (east of Braddock), Point Breeze (North)

Sen. Ferlo:  (717) 787-6123 or (412) 621-3006
PA Senate District 38: East Hills, East Liberty, Highland Park, Point Breeze (North)

Find your legislator at:

1. You will be speaking to a staff member. Introduce yourself and identify yourself as a constituent. For example: “Hi this is _____, I am a constituent of Representative _____, and I am calling because I strongly support public education and I am very concerned about the impact of budget cuts on my school, and on our community.”

2. In your own words, say something like the following (pick a few points):
• Stop these drastic budget cuts! The $1 BILLION cut last year was devastating to our district and we can’t lose another $100 MILLION.
• I am concerned / outraged / distressed that (give examples, see list on reverse)
• Every kid must have an opportunity to learn and good schools make stronger communities; education is a human right.
• Education is my top priority issue as a taxpayer and voter – a responsiblecommunity with strong values educates all of our children and makes it a priority.
• We can find the money to pay for schools. It’s just a matter of priorities.

3. Let them know you plan to follow these issues and see what happens. For example: “I am interested in the Representative’s position on these cuts and would like to hear back about it. My email address is …. Thank you.”

Phone Tips
Be really pleasant to the staff. They take a lot of calls, often from people who are upset about things. Think of it as a conversation you might have at work or a meeting: keep the tone professional and courteous, make your point about the issue.

Try to sound like yourself. It is okay to prepare notes to remind yourself what you are calling to say, but try not to read something. Share your sincere personal opinion and your reasons for it, in your own words.

Keep it short: a 2-3 minute call is usually plenty to say WHAT you SUPPORT (or oppose), WHY, and to give your contact information and ask for a response.

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