2020 began as an ordinary year for us. We were watching education legislation, writing postcards to our representatives, working on scheduling an event, and holding our meetings. And then, of course, everything changed.
What We Accomplished
Now we can divide the year into a clear “before” and “after.” In the before—that stretch of time from January through early March—we met in person. We held a well-attended event about the struggle for school desegregation with historian Elizabeth Mitchell and education professor Stephanie Power-Carter at the site of Bloomington's first segregated school. A friend opened her house to us on a few Sundays so that we could write letters to legislators together. And some members attended the annual Rally at the Statehouse on President's Day.
In mid-March, that all changed, and like everyone else, we had to approach our work very differently. We met on Zoom and tried to get our bearings. And we did. We accomplished a lot in 2020—despite having a chair who was obsessively checking covid numbers every night.
ICPE–Monroe County members worked on several creative and collaborative projects this past year.
In the summer, our membership committee of Peg Smith, Wendy Marencik, and Janet Stake conducted a thorough and successful membership drive. We also collected donations for our “Vote for Public Education” yard signs. Keri Miksza designed them and drove them throughout the state. Proceeds went to public education candidates through the state ICPE PAC.
In July, we issued a call for metrics around reopening schools during the pandemic. This was cosigned by other ICPE groups and the Washington Township Parent Network. We certainly can’t take credit for this, but several weeks later the Indiana Department of Health did introduce its county metrics map and somewhat more specific guidelines for schools in different phases of virus spread.
As we geared up for the election in the fall, our member Heather Hundley organized phone banking for public education candidates.
In September, Bob Arnove and Debbie Fish participated on a panel about assessment organized by Democracy for Monroe County. And, with the gracious help of Sofia McDowell and Democracy for Monroe County, we hosted two school board forums, one for Richland Bean Blossom, and one for MCCSC.
In October, Keri and I presented at the Monroe County Children’s Summit sponsored by Building a Thriving Compassionate Community. Our topic was school funding and the importance of investing in our public schools. This session was recorded and is available for viewing on the BTCC website.
Lastly, in early December, we were able to hear from our outgoing state senator Mark Stoops and our incoming state senator Shelli Yoder about what we might expect in this upcoming session.
How We Spent Your Annual Membership Fees and Donations
Membership fees and general donations provide essential support for our efforts. Here is how we spent your contributions last year. Keep in mind that $25 of every combined state/local membership goes to the state-level ICPE to support them and our lobbyist, Joel Hand. Joel attends education committee meetings at the Statehouse, gives testimony representing ICPE’s positions, and learns what bills may be headed our way.
This year, even though we spent most of the year operating remotely via Zoom, we did decide to put large chunks of our funds towards things we believed in. We brought in $2861, which was $739 shy of our goal of $3,600. While no one wants to be short a financial goal, it was a pandemic year. In total we spent $3,393 this year, pulling funds from our cash reserves to help make ends meet.
Special Thanks and Going Forward
In closing, thank you to all our members for supporting our work for public schools. Special thanks are owed to my fellow officers, Pam Bessler, Nancy Goswami, and Keri Miksza. Pam as our treasurer does the careful and meticulous work of keeping track of our budget, income, and expenditures. Nancy stepped up and took on the crucial role of secretary when we needed to fill it. And Keri has about twenty hats—among them, researcher, designer, data cruncher, maintainer of social media, writer, and builder of relationships.
2020 was also a year of change: Three of our long-time board members left our board during the course of this year: Charlie Savage, Janet Stake, and Debbie Fish. Also, Byron Turner decided to step back from the board after serving through December 2020. Each of them has given so much to this organization over the years and I cannot begin to thank them for all their time, creativity, and knowledge. Please thank them when you see them, either in the material or the virtual world. Lastly, I am thrilled that our amazing Keri Miksza is taking over as chair. Volunteer if you can—Keri will put you to work!
Here's to a healthy 2021.
Indiana Coalition for Public Education–Monroe County (ICPE–Monroe County) advocates for all children to have high quality, equitable, well-funded schools that are subject to democratic oversight by their communities.
We are a nonpartisan and nonprofit group of parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and other community members of Monroe County and surrounding areas.