Regional Organizers Spent Summer Growing MA Education Justice Movement
MEJA has worked hard over the past year on the Fund Our Future campaign to update the state school funding formula and increase state funding for public higher education. But MEJA is about more than any one campaign; it’s about building a statewide, grassroots movement for education justice. That’s why we were grateful to be able to bring on two regional organizing coordinators who hit the ground running this summer. Table coordinators Jacob Folsom-Fraster, Yrma Fiestas, and Rebecca Ludvino spent summer vacation organizing in Worcester, Everett, and Lowell. Here is just some of what they were able to accomplish:
Lowell Education Justice Alliance (LEJA) – Rebecca Ludvino
Lowell Education Justice Alliance (LEJA) took time this summer to set goals, reach out to Lowell Public School families, raise awareness about funding inequity and the Fund Our Future campaign, and engage the new Lowell superintendent in conversations about the needs of our district.
In July, LEJA members and allies participated in three Fund Our Future neighborhood canvasses. They knocked on doors and spoke with the neighbors of the two Lowell representatives who do not support the Promise Act, Representative Tom Golden and Representative David Nangle. The neighbors learned about how the Promise Act would remedy funding inequities for many districts. In turn, many committed to reaching out and speaking with their neighbors/legislators.
In August, LEJA presented hundreds of parents with information about the organization and the Fund Our Future campaign and held the first annual Lowell Public Schools Back-to-School Block Party in August 22.
Lowell has undergone many administrative changes over the summer, resulting from the School Committee’s abrupt termination of former Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui. In early August, Dr. Joel Boyd began his position as Superintendent of Lowell Public Schools. Along with the newly hired Chief Equity and Engagement Officer, Latifah Phillips, Superintendent Boyd attended LEJA’s August meeting.
Superintendent Boyd has requested that LEJA compile a list of priorities to be addressed now, as well as long-term strategic goals for how each child will have a respectful and joyous learning experience.
Worcester Education Justice Alliance (WEJA) – Jacob Folsom-Fraster
WEJA worked this summer to develop and strengthen the group’s internal structure, to launch a social media presence, to have a community celebration, and to get involved with the school committee election.
In June, WEJA developed bylaws, core principles and structures for governance and membership. Jacob met candidates for school committee and others involved in education justice, learning about the political landscape in Worcester.
WEJA sent out a policy questionnaire to all 13 school committee candidates and will evaluate the candidates and where they stand in relation to WEJA’s core principles.
In early July, WEJA’s social media took shape, with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and a website featuring information and articles about education justice in Worcester and across the state.
At the end of July, WEJA held a day of action, mobilizing people (coordinating with the Education Association of Worcester) to contact two key legislators to support the Promise Act through social media.
WEJA plans a back-to-school cookout to invite community members to be a part of the larger education justice movement in Worcester. Jacob says he is excited about building a base, sharing a vision, and informing voters on this very important election.
Everett Education Coalition – Yrma Fiestas
EEC members attended the “State House Beach Party” and brought State Rep. Joe McGonagle a snowcone to invite him to an in-district meeting scheduled for August 15th at the Parlin Library Community Room.
After many phone calls and personal contacts, it was evident that the Everett community and parents are very aware of and interested in our education services and problems.
EEC had an excellent turnout for our meeting with Rep. McGonagle. Thirty interested and caring people joined us.
We plan to continue to work to keep people informed and make them comfortable enough to share their concerns and questions.
EEC has scheduled a meeting on September 18th at 6PM at La Comunidad to discuss the upcoming School Committee election and the superintendent search process.