Saturday, February 13, 2016

These are OUR children

You can barely see the top of the head of Timothy Green in the background of this picture. He's sitting at his desk in the Family Resource Center of MLK Elementary School in Hartford.
He is the Project Coordinator and one of his roles involves the ULA backpack program, which provides food to children who would ortherwise go hungry on weekends.
I spoke to him while we were there and I suspect he likes to stay in the background, doing the important work, not looking for the limelight.

Latter we gathered at the Hartford Federation of Teachers office with leaders of the community to discuss where we are, where we need to go, and how can we best get there.
The problems can seem daunting; schools in very bad need of repair, children and families going hungry, a lack of racial diversity in teachers, and more.
I won't go into too many specifics but when you hear of hungry children and mice droppings in classrooms, and you remember that we live in the richest country in the world and in a state that is considered "blue" and "liberal," you can understand how it is even worse in other cities like Detroit.

But we must not be discouraged.
The teachers we spoke to, in spite of conditions that have to be discouraging, spoke of the love they have for their students and their profession.
That is our strength.
The leaders of the ULA, echoed Mr Green's words to me when they spoke of the individual students and families the have been helped by the backpack program.
That is our strength.
The presidents of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, AFT Connecticut, and AFT (Lori, Jan, Randi) are committed to fight on the streets, in the classrooms and hospitals, and at the capitol.
That is our strength.
The HFT and the Hartford Federation of Paraprofessionals are partnered with Hartford Rising and other community groups because they live in the city, it is their city.
That is our strength.

There is hope.

But it requires work.

When a budget is presented that cuts services to the most needy and vulnerable, when it cuts services to our children, when it fails to ask the top 1% to pay their fair share, this is not right!
The top 1% pay less by percent of income of any group.
This in "blue" and "liberal" Connecticut.

I understand the political problems with tax increases.
What I am saying is this.
The proposed Connecticut budget with result in tax increases at the local level in property taxes, decreases services, or both.
Unless the richest of us pays their fair share.
This is the richest country in the world.
These are OUR children, not some faces we see on TV.
Let's care for them

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