Invest in PUSD Kids (IIPK) Wins Major Victory in Campaign for Public Education!
April 30th, 2013:
After a three-year grassroots organizing campaign led by Invest in PUSD Kids and supported by a broad spectrum of Pasadena residents, the Pasadena City Council Monday night voted to make public education one of the city government’s top priorities.
The City Council voted to add an eighth priority – called a “guiding principle” – to its General Plan acknowledging the crucial role that public education plays in promoting a strong city. The City Council unanimously approved the following language: “Pasadena is committed to public education and a diverse educational system responsive to the broad needs of the community.”
“This is a big victory for public schools,” said Steve Cole, IIPK president. “It puts in writing the importance of collaboration between the city government, the Pasadena Unified School District, and the other elements of our community, including businesses, nonprofit organizations, and civic groups.”
Founded in 2005, IIPK has been working to strengthen broad community support – including local government – for public education. It has encouraged city officials and school officials to find ways to work together for the benefit of PUSD students and parents. IIPK took the lead in pushing for a “Community Schools” initiative and the School/City Work Plan that was adopted in February, which are now underway to align health care, recreation, and other resources from city government, the school district, and nonprofit groups to help improve the lives of students and their families.
“We’ve seen a significant change in the past few years in the willingness of city officials, including the city Council and the city manager, to support our public schools,” said Rob Filback, a PUSD parent and IIPK leader. “This didn’t happen by accident.” IIPK and other groups have been meeting with our elected officials, the city manager, and other city staff to show them how important it is to Pasadena’s economy, housing market, and social fabric to have strong ties between the city government and the schools.
“Although the School Board is governed by its own board, by adopting this 8th Guiding Principle, the city government is saying that the condition of our public schools and the lives of Pasadena’s youth are a shared responsibility of the entire the community,” said Darla Dyson, a PUSD parent and IIPK leader.
Shortly after the City announced it was updating its General Plan, IIPK began a grassroots campaign to urge the City Council to add a separate “guiding principle” about the centrality of public education. IIPK recruited its members and allies – including groups like the League of Women Voters, Pasadena Educational Foundation, United Teachers of Pasadena, American Association of University Women, local religious congregations, and others – to attend public forums with city staff to discuss the General Plan and the importance of schools to issues such as transportation, jobs, the business climate, crime, land use, open space, and other issues. IIPK’s coalition also met with City Council members, City Manager Michael Beck, Mercy Santoro, the Director of the Pasadena’s Department of Human Services and Recreation, and School Board members to foster support for adding language to the General Plan supporting the public schools.
“Putting these words into the General Plan is important,” said Steve Cole, “but equally important is translating those words into policies, resources, and actions that improve the lives of Pasadena kids and families, including families who don’t have kids in public schools. The whole community benefits when we have a first-rate public education system.”
Pasadena joins Arcadia, Santa Ana, Anaheim, and a growing list of cities that have added public education to their General Plan.