While we might not all agree on policy matters, using district budgets to punish students for district-level policy is simply wrong. It is cruel and we cannot allow our children to pay the price of these politics.

After efforts to sabotage annual meetings of the electorate were thwarted in communities like Whitefish Bay by strong attendance of public education champions, Kenosha was caught unaware on September 21 when an organized group hijacked the annual meeting to vote board member salaries down to next to nothing and propose a $1.2 million cut to the tax levy. While the proposed tax levy cut is advisory and not binding, the board salaries are fixed by that vote until the next annual meeting.

Local folks were outraged to wake up and learn that the will of voters in entrusting the duly elected board was overturned by a tiny minority, and a group called Kenosha Parents for Safety & Equity is already organizing to call for a re-do of the annual meeting and circulating a petition calling for a budget that meets the needs of all students…but this moment serves as a huge wake-up call to all of us: this is what happens when we don’t show up.

We are currently witnessing an unprecedented attack on our students and their public schools, and we must remain vigilant in protecting and defending both.

Now is the time to show your community that you support local students and their public schools and to speak strongly and clearly for safe, welcoming, and fully funded public schools that provide equal opportunity for all students to thrive.

Wherever you live, please take time to take action.

Here are 3 things you can do right now:

(1) Be a voice for students! SHARE your opinion on what local students need most and what you expect of your local community. Use social media, letters to the editor, and public comment at board meetings to be a voice in support of what’s best for kids.

(2) SIGN our pledge to support safe and equitable schools.

(3) ATTEND YOUR ANNUAL MEETING TO SAFEGUARD RESOURCES & SUPPORT FOR LOCAL STUDENTS. If you live in a “common” school district, find out when and where your annual meeting is being held, and to make a plan to show up and bring education champions with you. These are very important meetings where local voters approve the annual tax levy. Only common districts are required to hold annual meetings, and many have already held them. Unified school districts (and MPS, which is in its own class), are not required to hold annual meetings. If your district is not on this list, it is a common school district and holds annual meetings of the electorate.

In times of tension, we must take the high ground and demand what’s best for local students. We must stand up to the political game-playing and demand better. Our kids are counting on us!

About the author: Christian Phelps

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