Wednesday, June 2, 2010

If you feel so inclined . . .

As most of you know, the funding for my job has been cut entirely for next year. San Francisco's Department of Children, Youth, and Families--our primary funders--are currently revising their budget proposal, which means that they're literally in the process of deciding which programs to reconsider funding. So crucial!

The chairman of the Board of Supervisors is John Avalos, SF City Supervisor for District 11 (the district my high school's in!). Imagine my surprise when I walked into our graduation ceremony today and the program said:

Keynote Speaker: John Avalos

Avalos speaking at our graduation today

I immediately texted one of my 5th period rascals and asked if he was still in the neighborhood. When he confirmed that he was, I snuck him in the back door of graduation and we planned a sneak attack. When Avalos was done speaking, MP and I bombarded him on the way out the side door paparazzi-style. MP said "Can I please have five minutes of your time?" Avalos nodded and we gathered in the hall, where Matt and I serenaded him with all the reasons he needs to rally for funding for ROOTS! Avalos gave me a business card with two email addresses on it, and suggested I send another "mini proposal" to each of them.

My boss (who is working tirelessly to save ROOTS) says that what we need to be doing right now is overwhelming the Board of Supervisors and Maria Su--the head of DCYF (our funders!)--pleading that they add back our program. This means that we need to get in as many calls and emails as possible! Those of you know me or my students, and/or who have any personal connection with the effects of incarceration . . . if you have just two minutes to leave a message with Supervisor Avalos or Maria Su (the head honcho at DCYF), I'd be eternally grateful:

John Avalos
San Francisco City Supervisor, District 11
(415) 554-6975

Maria Su
Director, Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF)
(415) 554-3547

Here is the email I just sent off to John Avalos:

Hi Supervisor Avalos,
Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to my student, MP, and me this afternoon at Balboa's graduation. I know that it's a frenzied time of year, and everyone's pressed for time (and money!), but it meant so much to us to have your ear for a few minutes to chat about Community Works' ROOTS program.

I've taught ROOTS, a program at Balboa High School for children of incarcerated parents, for the past four years. Honestly, there are far more students at Balboa who've been impacted by incarceration than I can serve. I've been so fortunate to teach as many of them as possible for the past four years, and I beg you to rally for Community Works to get the necessary funding to keep us going for another year.

Most of my students are classified Special Education, many have severe emotional disturbances, and all have been wrecked by the prison system (their family members have been incarcerated, and many of them have been incarcerated in juvenile hall themselves). I wish you could have seen them pile into the auditorium at CIIS last month, and read their brave, eloquent stories about witnessing their parents' arrest and incarceration in front of 200 people. It was moving, to say the least. They have such a capacity to shine; they just need individualized attention and special accommodations to access their feelings about incarceration. I believe with all my heart that programs like ROOTS are the most successful tools in interrupting the cycle of incarceration that plagues our society (and specifically, our young people in District 11).

Please encourage DCYF to fund Community Works' ROOTS program at Balboa High School. The amount of money we are requesting is marginal, comparatively, and it would earn four times its value in success and heart--I promise.

I will send a "mini proposal" to Peter Masiak and Raquel Redondiez, as you requested. Thank you again!

Claire Kiefer
Community Works ROOTS Teacher
Balboa High School

Please keep your fingers crossed that we get good news. I just can't bear the thought of not being here next year, teaching my little monsters. It's unimaginable. :(

Thank you!


Faiza said...

amazing letter ck!! amazing! love your moxy and courage and voice. sent an email to both john and maria as a canadian who has heard wonderful things about the program.

bananas. said...

lady i'm ON IT!!! now right this second but it's going on my to do list tomorrow. i promise i will call and email on behalf of you. PROMISE!!!

J. said...

Kudos to you for grabbing the bull by the horns and talking to him!! (Total Texas saying... sorry!) :)
You have my support- consider it done!
I've also got my fingers AND toes crossed for you ;)

Hope Chella said...

I am rooting for you!!! I have no idea what my situation looks like next year either, but let's stay optimistic!!! You sound like an awesome teacher and the kids NEED YOU TOO!!!!!!

Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

You got my support lady!
Hopefully the parents are active as well~
Hope for the best!

Sarah Ann said...

I hope that it all works out!! Way to go for aggressiveness! It's definitely worth it!

Phoenix Peacock said...

You are amazing! I'll totoally see what I can type up this weekend!

Meghan said...

You have my support, too! I completely understand how important it is to fight for educational programming! I admire you for standing up for these kids!

Jeanette said...

Yes, big Moxy and good on you. They need more champions like you. Mailed your necklace off this morning - if ever there was a person it was made for, it's you!

Claire Kiefer said...

y'all are wonderful people. thank you for all the love and support!

Summer {Bisfor...} said...

all over it mama! xoxoxox

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

well done!! hoping for the best xoxo

its simple love said...

What a good plan! I am glad he was in the neighborhood. I wish you well in your endeavor to have the program! I am in Social Work so I understand the need and the effects of those horrible budget cuts.


Diana Mieczan said...

Great plan sweetie....Well done!!!World needs more people like you! You are amazing!

Iva said...

you have my support!!!

Happy Friday! Have a great sunny weekend!