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Do Something - Community Advocacy & Action
This space will become a landing page for information on legislative initiatives important to our community. It will include letter templates, links to articles, and other information our community may find important as they look for ways to take positive action for change.
CENSORSHIP AT EAST BURKE HIGH SCHOOL
At the beginning of October 2022, students at EBHS who had been working on a mural thanks to a grant from the NC Arts Council, walked into school to see part of their mural art censored. The mural was the school letters, each standing for a larger idea or concept. E was for Equality, B for Belonging, H for Heritage, and S for Success. That morning, rainbow colored butterflies and multi-skin-toned equality fists were painted over. Eventually, the entire E was painted over. The News Herald interviewed students and school personnel and the BOE was quoted as responding that the school is able to "restrict political expression". Unfortunately, the BOE missed the mark because the symbols in the E of the mural represented a human rights statement, not a political statement. Students' voices, spoken through their art, were silenced and censored.
In response, the bookstore is providing a painting protest gathering, The Art of Anti-Censorship, on October 22nd from 11am-1pm. Students and supporters from across the county are welcomed. Students will have the chance to paint and will be given a public space to display their art and voices. We will also have t-shirts with a blank capital letter E available for them to have further opportunities to express themselves. We are trying to make these shirts available to students of EBHS at no cost. If you would like to help cover the cost of one or more shirts for a student, you can do so here (label your contribution AntiCensorship) or by coming by the store. The cost per shirt is $12. Additional shirts will be made available to other students in the county as well as supporters. Student shirt cost - $12. Adult shirt cost - $15 (the extra $3 will go to offset the cost of shirts for students and supplies for the event).
2022-2023 CHILD NUTRITION WAIVERS EXTENSION (Summary provided by bookstore team member Pam)
A federal program which benefits school children throughout the United States and which has proven to be remarkably successful during the COVID pandemic is set to expire on June 30, 2022—in just a few days—unless Congress approves its renewal.
The nationwide waivers which allowed for free breakfasts and free lunches to public school students were administered by the US Department of Agriculture via Congressional funding through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-17) and the subsequent Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 117-43).
During those many months when schools throughout the United States were closed, and supply chain disruptions limited access to many essential goods, and staff shortages reached critical levels, one constant remained: children’s access to nutritious food at no cost. Agencies and organizations had the flexibility to find ways to provide food in their communities, minus some of the usual “red tape” restrictions. And it worked! Reports from many news sources cited the serious drop in child hunger during the pandemic; for example, in the March 14, 2022, article on the independent news organization The Conversation’s website:
Many school meal staff across the country created grab-and-go meals that families could pick up, which was particularly important in the spring of 2020 and the following school year. Another major change, which has continued during the 2021-2022 school year, is that school systems are able to serve meals to all students at no cost.
Children cannot achieve their fullest potential when they are hungry or tired, when they are falling asleep in class or appear to be distracted or are, perhaps, disruptive to the classroom activities. These situations can be addressed by attending to children’s nutritional needs. Consider that some children are rushing to get ready for a school day that starts very early; some children have a parent or parents whose responsibilities preclude their preparing even a quick meal in the morning; some children may bear the responsibility in their household for preparing whatever food they and their siblings will be eating or carrying to school; some children and their families cannot afford to purchase a meal at school and feel the shame of having to acknowledge this reality; some children who can afford to pay for their meals experience social anxiety to the degree that they may decline interaction beyond the basics of choosing the food and picking up the tray at the school meal.
It isn’t necessary to know the exact “why”—especially if it interferes with providing the food to the children. In fact, when too much attention is paid to the “why,” it often leads to making value judgments and serves as a further deterrent to the provision of food to the children.
Hunger Free America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Organizations Concerned about Rural Education, Swipe out Hunger, YMCA of the USA, the National Urban League, the National PTA, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Indian Education Association, the League of United Latin American Citizens are among many groups who support the waiver’s extension through 2022-2023 school year.
Members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, can make a funding decision that will benefit all the children in the nation’s public schools by extending funding through the 2022-2023 school year; it is the right and compassionate thing to do. If they need impetus to make this decision, they need only acknowledge the success of both programs they have funded over the past two years and then choose to extend funding through the 2022-2023 school year.
But House Representatives need to act quickly—June 30th is almost here. It is imperative that they hear from their constituents immediately!
For Further Reading
Follow the links at the bottom of the linked joint letter for additional reading and sources.
Sample Letter to Represenativies
Below is a letter template, in Word format, you may adapt if you'd like to write to your representatives.