BLUE PENNSYLVANIA: WHAT WE'VE ACCOMPLISHED, AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO

I know. We are all exhausted with politics and campaigning. No sense in listing the causes. The question is: How do we recapture the spunk we all had in 2016 to address all of these difficulties?


The short answer is: We may not have a choice if we want to hold onto our democracy.


And continuing to campaign in this past election cycle as if our democracy depended on it has paid off. Let’s consider some of the campaigns. With wealthy donors such as Jeffrey Yass and Paul Martino funding the judicial races at the top of the ballot, as well as many of the school board races in the area, all of our candidates faced an uphill battle; yet a modest, but determined group of canvassers and phone bankers from Blue Pennsylvania and other organizations were there to offer support.


At the top of the ballot, Lori Dumas was one of the four Democratic candidates to win in the appellate court races. While these election returns appear to be disappointing, the reality is that there will be a net gain of one Democrat in these courts since all four departing judges were Republicans. Judge Dumas will also be the first African American to sit in Commonwealth Court.


Since the spring, we have been monitoring a number of school board races in suburban Philadelphia (N.B. The Philadelphia School District is the only district in the state without an elected school board). We chose those races, based upon whether candidates were funded by Keeping Kids in School, the only anti-mandate PAC that existed at that time.


There were therefore 28 districts across four counties that were of interest to us going into this election. Democrats won 47 of the 84 school board races in those 28 districts, whereas 37 races went to Republicans.



BUCKS

CHESTER

DELAWARE

MONTGOMERY

TOTALS

# OF DISTRICTS

7

3

3

15

28

DEMS

9

6

5

27

47

REPS

18

2

7

10

37

Our Blue Pennsylvania group concentrated on races in three school districts (along with the other campaigns on the ballot): Hatboro-Horsham, North Penn, and Perkiomen Valley.


Of the five races In Hatboro-Horsham, three Republicans and two Democrats won, although the Democrats netted an additional seat on the school board because four of the five existing seats were held by Republicans. In North Penn, all the Democrats won, and in Perkiomen Valley, three Republicans and one Democrat won, although Democrats won other races in the area.



WHAT DO WE NEED TO SUCCEED?

Two things: Better messaging and you.


Messaging

Given the popularity of Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the catchphrase of this campaign season, we may see Republicans reprise it for the midterms.


Although CRT is a subject taught in higher academia, its detractors conflate two opposing claims about the theory: That it makes white people, in particular grade school students, feel badly about themselves; and, that race permeates every aspect of society.


With regard to the first point, discussions about institutional racism should be a valid subject of study in our high schools. Consider, for instance, the current case in Commonwealth Court of a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools and the NAACP-Pennsylvania State Conference, claiming that the state’s educational funding system harms children of color. Many of the districts accused of teaching CRT are also districts that are unfairly funded. Shouldn’t students in these districts have the opportunity to discuss such issues that affect them almost every day?


And, if the institutions, rather than people, are racist, why should white children feel badly about themselves?


But rather than go on the defensive about what Republicans think, let’s concentrate on what Republicans have actually done.


Education: CRT issues are a sham, but Republicans funding religion with educational dollars is not. A high proportion of high school students at many of the schools currently receiving money from the state, through Education Improvement Tax Credits, and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credits are not taught English, mathematics, social studies, or science; and, although private schools do not share performance data with the Commonwealth, there are strong indications that many of these schools are under-performing.


Climate: Currently 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas production comes from Pennsylvania, but the Republican led General Assembly has consistently attempted to stop our state from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap and trade program that should cut our greenhouse gasses significantly.


The Big Lie: After the 2020 election, 84 (out of 113) Republican PA House members signed onto at least one of two letters asking for either a delay or cancellation of the certification of the election results. Twenty-five of 29 Senate members signed onto one of three such letters.


You

After the new year, we’ll be reaching out to many you, to find out how you would like to be involved in this next election cycle, but, if you live in Philadelphia, here’s something that you can do now.


A VOTER EDUCATION AND REGISTRATION POLICY FOR THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA


Earlier emails detailed a campaign to have the Philadelphia Board of Education approve a voter education and registration policy for the schools under its jurisdiction.


Well, those emails paid off. After 2 ½ years of advocacy, the Board’s Policy committee met earlier this month to discuss the policy.


The committee will not meet before the new year, but here is your chance to write an email, based upon the latest information that we have about the process.


The new emails would go to the Board, City Council, and the Mayor’s Chief Education Officer.

And here’s the good news. AFSCME DC 47 has created a web page that makes this process very easy.

1. Just go to the website;

2. enter your name, address, email;

3. click on START WRITING;

4. you will be carried to a second page where you can modify the letter, and sign your name; and

5. when you are through, simply click on SEND LETTER.


Happy Thanksgiving,

Coleman


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