I don’t teach on Fridays this semester, so I decided to stay home today to be here for the cable guy and take the dog to the vet. I slept late and looked forward to a low-key day and some paper-grading. Little did I know of the high drama that was about to unfold. My first call of the day was from East Side Councilman, public education advocate, and Nathan Bishop supporter, Cliff Wood. He told me that a rescheduling of the Board of Regents meeting regarding Nathan Bishop was creating a potentially disasterous situation. Kudos to Cliff for keeping his eye on the ball!
The entire story (minus the dozen phone calls and 50 emails) can be told with two (rather hurried) emails that ESPEC sent out. The first was sent just after 1:00pm.
Dear friends of East Side public education,
We are writing to ask for your help in saving Nathan Bishop from an imminent funding crisis. This is a matter of great urgency.
The Board of Regents was scheduled to meet next Wednesday, Dec. 5th, to vote on the plan and funding for the new Nathan Bishop. We understood that the plan would be approved at that time. However, we learned this morning that the Board has postponed their meeting until Dec. 19th. The reason for this is not clear at this time, but it creates a serious problem.
The City has said that, if the meeting does not take place until the 19th, it will not be able to complete the bonding process before Dec. 31st. If that happens, Nathan Bishop will become subject to a new State law requiring separate approval from the General Assembly, even after the Rhode Island Department of Education has approved the project. The consequence will be that Bishop’s opening will likely be delayed until at least 2010, and perhaps longer. It is also possible that the General Assembly will kill the project entirely.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Please Act Today! Email House Majority Leader Gordon Fox at email@example.com or call his office at 222-2466. (This may be answered by Speaker Murphy’s staff…just ask for Gordon Fox). Urge Leader Fox to use his office, enlisting his East Side colleagues in the House and Senate if necessary, to discover what the problem is and what can be done to encourage the Regents to complete the process as scheduled. If you can not write or call today, please do so over the weekend.
Leader Fox represents the East Side, and Nathan Bishop sits in his district. He has a strong interest in making sure Bishop reopens and has expressed his support for Bishop’s reopening. If you are his constituent, let him know that, but he should hear from all of us who have an interest in reopening our only middle school.
Thank you for your help.
The second email was sent at 4:00pm after a call from Representative Fox:
Dear friends of Nathan Bishop School,
There is very good news to report. This afternoon, Majority Leader Fox, working in conjunction with Mayor Cicilline, had discussions with the Board of Regents. Rep. Fox told us that he received a commitment that the Regents’ meeting would be moved forward from the 19th, likely to the original date of Dec. 5th, but in no case later than Dec. 7th. If so, the meeting will take place in time for the City to complete its own work before the Dec. 31 deadline.
I heard from many of you [who] called or wrote to Leader Fox to alert him to the importance of this, and know that many others of you did so as well. Thank you for showing that we as a community are pulling together for our schools, and congratulations on your effective citizen-advocacy!
Many thanks to Majority Leader Fox and Mayor Cicilline for responding so quickly and effectively to this crisis. Thanks also to Councilman Cliff Wood for his continued support of Nathan Bishop.
Have a great weekend!
Apart from the happy ending for Nathan Bishop, I take the whole day as a big civics lesson, one which I’ll be using as an illustration in my classes. Citizens CAN make a difference when they work together, and government DOES respond to those demands. Not always, of course, but on the whole, today leaves me pretty hopeful.