Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What are all these Acronyms???...OMG!

If you live in Issaquah you often hear words like ISF, VIS, LEV, and PTA. These are acronyms (a word formed from the first letters of each of words it represents) for different organizations which help our kids in the Issaquah School District. I have made each acronym a link. It may be hard for you to see depending on what kind of screen you have, but all red words in this blog are links to useful websites.

So, what do these acronyms mean? What are these organizations? What are they doing?
  • ISF stands for Issaquah Schools Foundation. ISF is a nonprofit organization which does fundraising to offer grants to our kid's schools. Their two major fundraising events are the Nourish Every Mind Luncheon and the All in for Kids Annual Fund Campaign. You can visit their website to see what types of grants our kids get from ISF. 
  • VIS stands for Volunteers for Issaquah Schools. This is a non-profit, citizen organization which works to pass bonds and levies to support funding for Issaquah public schools. Levies are local taxes which go to operational costs of public schools such as teacher's salaries, textbooks, library materials, extra curricular activities etc. Bonds go to the building, and maintenance costs of our schools, and can be used for some technology. These are the only things Bonds can be used for. Levies and Bonds expire, which is why the school district runs them every few years. If you would like more information on bonds and levies, the Woodland Public Schools has a great explanation on their website.  
                    Kelly Munn, Co-Director of VIS and State Field Director of LEV explains VIS: "Volunteer for Issaquah Schools is a community based, non profit organization that runs the campaigns to pass the Issaquah School District bonds and levies."

  •  LEV stands for League of Education Voters. "The League of Education Voters Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to engaging ordinary citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media in the effort to provide a quality education for all students in Washington State – from preschool through college.
    Through its activities and publications, including an annual Citizen’s Report Card, LEV Foundation serves as a source of credible, timely information about the state’s education system. LEV Foundation helps highlight best practices, measure progress, and motivate people across Washington State to be a part of the solution." (http://www.educationvoters.org/lev-foundation/ Retrieved 6/19/12.  
  •  PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association. You may also see certain schools use the acronym; PTSA. In this case it stands for the Parent Teacher and Student Association and has a seat for a student body representative or accepts input from student governments. PTA is a large organization and has many pieces. 
                              Your School ~ Local Council ~ Region ~ State National
                    One of the big things that PTA does for our kids is advocate! That is what I do for the Issaquah Valley Elementary School. I attend the Legislative Forum for the Washington State PTA and represent the PTA of our school (IVE) there. The former Legislative Advocate for IVE was City Councilman Tola Marts, who served for several years. Thank you Tola!
                    At this forum we decide on what kind of "platforms" we have. That means we have identified a problem or we have an idea for policy change or support/oppose something the legislature is doing. The platform is where PTA stands on issues and contains the details of how it, as an organization stands on the issues. This platform is then presented to the WA State Legislature. Forming a platform is a lot of work, and involves a lot of discussion. This year's is October 19th-20th, and I look forward to going. I will be updating you on the issues and results of the forum in this blog as we go.

http://www.issaquahschoolsfoundation.org/.  information on fundraising and grants from "about" section,    Retrieved 6/19/12.

http://www.educationvoters.org/lev-foundation/. Copied from "about" section and "mission," Retrieved 6/19/12.

 http://www.wastatepta.org/advocacy/index.html. information on advocacy and platforms,  Retrieveed 6/20/12.

Kelly Munn, State Field Director LEV, VIS Co-Director, quote taken: 6/21/12 from email.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why do Politics Matter to my Family?

Why should you get involved in politics? What does it mean to be 'involved' anyway?

I can answer the first question with one word: 'kids'. Kids are growing up in a world that is changing by leaps and bounds with technology year by year. We live in a world that passes information, ideas, and technology at astounding rates. Issues affecting our community are decided on by people who hold elected office, and those politicians represent us. They represent our opinions and values. They make decisions on the type of community we live and raise our kids in. Who those people are should be a great concern to us because they are forming the policy which shapes the community our kids grow up in.

Answering the question of what it means to be involved is simpler than you might think. Politics can be a confusing, painfully boring, aggravating subject. Recently I had a conversation with a mother of a young child. I wanted to introduce a local candidate to her preschool group of 50+ moms. She decided to cancel the meeting because it seemed to her, "Moms of preschoolers really are not that interested in Politics--especially local Politics." This statement concerned me greatly. We are missing the boat if we don't utilize the tools we have to elect people who will make good decisions for our communities. We need to know who they are, if they represent us, and how they are going to legislate. We need to be responsible as parents of people who have no public voice or ability to vote, and insure they live in a healthy community which reflects our values. Our local representatives are important because they make decisions literally in our backyards--directly affecting our lives.

Being 'involved' can mean you inform yourself on candidates for election, (there are some local and of course presidential in November 2012) and vote. Involvement can mean that you write emails, or phone  politicians holding office to let them know your opinion. Locally, you can show up for meetings for the City Council, City Planning and Development, School Board Meetings, or read summaries of meetings provided by the City of Issaquah website.   You may even give testimony to the WA State Legislature on subjects you're passionate about. Any of these things are becoming 'involved'--from simply voting to becoming an advocate. Even if you can't or choose not to vote, informing yourself and letting your opinion be heard to politicians is a way to be involved.  You may ask, "Do they really listen?" I can say they (politicians) do for the most part. Hey, if they don't --work to replace them! One politician said to me, "If a constituent (that's someone in their district) shows up in my office, I stop what I'm doing and listen to them. If they write me a letter, I write them one back myself." His reasoning was simple. "I was elected to serve. How would I be doing my job if I didn't listen to the people who put me here?" Politicians may not do what one or two of us want, but when more of us speak and say predominately the same thing, it makes a difference. 

It is my intention in offering this blog, to provide tools for involvement, give factual, unbiased, understandable information on political activity in Issaquah districts, tell you who is running for election, and inform you on PTA issues.

Even if I'm not your Legislative Advocate, I hope that the information contained in this blog can inspire you to become more politically aware and at the very least, register to vote and vote in each election. 

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.
Maya Angelou