DMPS Advocates Take to Capitol Hill

People talking at the state capitol.

Senator Matt McCoy talks with a group of people from Des Moines Public Schools.

Despite a major legislative disappointment earlier in the week when lawmakers set school funding for next year at only 1.1% above this year’s level, a measure the governor signed into law yesterday, advocates for DMPS kept their appointment on Capitol Hill Thursday which was designated as DMPS Day on the Hill.

“This (state aid funding formula) is only one piece of what the legislature does for our schools,” said Louisa Dykstra, Co-Chair of the DMPS Community Legislative Action Team (DMPS-CLAT). “While we’re disappointed in the vote (on school funding), we regroup and move forward advocating for other bills affecting our DMPS students, specifically pre-k access for kids in poverty, increased resources for our ELL students, and extension of the SAVE penny tax so we can keep our buildings in good repair.”

When your first exam of the year doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped you’ve got to keep getting to class, right, and do the best you can on the rest of them.

So first thing Thursday morning at East High a spirited mix of concerned citizens, school board members and high school students from East’s Scarlet Ambassadors met and proceeded to the statehouse to engage directly with legislators on those key issues that are still pending.

Specifically, they sought face to face meetings with legislators concerning House File (HF) 25 which addresses the preschool access, HF 230 (SAVE tax) and Senate File (SF) 150 (extension of weighted ELL funding from five to seven years per pupil).

“There is some momentum behind each of these bills,” CLAT’s Joe Nolte told the group in the auditorium at East. “Try to speak with legislators about them specifically.”

Kelli Soyer, another of the CLAT organizers, emphasized that “This is not just a one-day event. Think of today as starting a relationship with your legislators and follow-up with them by phone and e-mail.”

By the time the troops headed across the freeway to the statehouse they were suited up in bright DMPS t-shirts and well-fortified with plenty of fruit and facts. In their citizen kits were talking points and calling cards.

It was a short trip but the golden dome can have an almost planetary effect on visitors as they draw near to it. It has gravity and an atmosphere that is generally life-supporting. But it can always be more so. That’s the goal of missions like the one undertaken Thursday by DMPS-CLAT.

Think you’ve got the right stuff to join their crew? If you live around here and want the schools to be the best anywhere, you do. Just click here and find out how to join up.

Photos from DMPS Day on the Hill

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