April 20, 2011

Locals in Action: Steel Valley EA's T.E.A.C.H. program

Across the state, local associations are preparing for the PSEA Week of Action - April 25 to 29.  But locals like Allegheny County’s Steel Valley EA already have their plans in full swing. 

Steel Valley’s 153 members know what Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed $1.2 billion in school cuts means to their schools and students – and they are working hard to T.E.A.C.H. him.

T.E.A.C.H., which stands for “Tell Everyone All Cuts Hurt,” is a full-blown organizing and public relations campaign, complete with slogans, yard signs, t-shirts and events. 

“We need everyone in the Steel Valley community to know how high the stakes are,” said Jill Fleming-Salopek, a high school building rep. “This is our way of telling them.”

Steel Valley EA’s efforts are catching on. T.E.A.C.H. is everywhere in Allegheny County, where yard signs and have sprung up in front of homes and intersections and where the members’ activities have been featured in local newspapers.

“We want to draw attention to these cuts and how they impact the middle class and the quality of education,” Fleming-Salopek said. “We came up with slogans and signs so other locals, parents, and community members could catch on.”

Fleming-Salopek, who spearheaded the effort, described how her team put the program together. 

With colleagues Megan O’Toole, Rusty Firestone, Steve Singer, Ryan Dunmire, Melissa Pentin, Jane Kulhanek, Christy Ruffing, Nicole Strom, Sue Wilder, LuAnne Szczypinski, Jeff Catterall, and Beth McCallister they came up with T.E.A.C.H., designed slogans like “Good Schools = Good Communities” and “Governor Corbett’s Budget = All Children Left Behind,” and created a letterhead. 

In addition to yard signs and t-shirts emblazoned with those slogans, the Steel Valley group holds weekly meetings to coordinate activities, has published letters to the editor, and is planning a town rally with a local legislator – who also opposes the Governor’s school cuts. 

The community has responded.

“Teachers and administrators from other districts have contacted us and have told us what a great job we are doing,” she said. “That means that our grass roots movement here is taking hold.”

Now, with the Week of Action on the horizon, Fleming-Salopek and her team are going to continue to do their part.

“This is a fight we all need to join,” she said. “T.E.A.C.H. is how we are doing it.  But everyone can.  And, to meet the challenges we face, all of us have to.”

Learn about the Week of Action at www.psea.org/weekofaction.



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