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They’re Watching You, Lansing

Three parents in the Thornapple Kellogg Schools district are determined to get the public’s voice heard on education issues, and that’s why they’ve formed Parents for TK Schools. Keeping people informed and getting them to let legislators know how they feel about their schools are the group’s main goals.

“We want to inspire people to learn more about how things work in Lansing,” said Kristen Cove, one of the organizers of the group. Students, parents, educators and concerned citizens rallied for education reform at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing in June  Courtesy photo

About 25 people attended the group’s first meeting of the year. “The forum was wonderful,” said Cove. “We had great audience participation. The TK community can’t wait to get involved.”

The group meets again Wednesday, October 16, 9:15 a.m. at Lee Elementary.

The first meeting’s main topic was the complicated subject of school funding. Many don’t understand how it works, said  Alexis Snyder, one of the other organizers of the group. “It’s important to share with people where the money comes from and how it’s divided,” she said.

Concerns About Funding, Overloaded Teachers

One misconception people have is wondering why money spent for new buildings can’t be spent instead, for the things schools say they lack money for. The millage that funded those buildings, though, can’t legally be used for operating costs, Snyder explains.

Members of the Parents for TK Schools were among the hundreds who attended the Save Michigan Public Schools rally in June at the state capitol in Lansing, where gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer spoke  Courtesy photo

Sandy Koski, the third organizer of the group, said overloaded teachers are another concern – they’d rather have the teachers spending time on their children’s learning. “With everything a teacher has to do, they get run down,” she said. “Others need to step forward with this.”

“We think the district is doing a great job,” Snyder said. “They’re really putting kids as the focus and insulating them from the cuts.”

Cove, has four children in Thornapple Kellogg schools, Koski and Snyder have three. That, of course, is another reason they think it’s important to monitor politicians in Lansing. “Our kids are here now,” Cove said. “This is their opportunity, and we want the very best for them.”

The group isn’t waiting until meetings to do its work. It sends out updates that explain important education issues to the nearly 300 people who have signed up for its emails.

Sandy Koski, Kristen Cove and Alexis Snyder have taken on the task of forming a new group, Parents for TK Schools, to educate people about school issues and monitor what state legislators are doing  Courtesy photoParents for TK Schools is non-partisan and open to everyone in the community. It got its start after the women attended a meeting in February of Friends of Kent County Schools, another area legislative group. 

Times for future meetings are still being coordinated, but both day and night forums are planned. The group can be found on Facebook and its Twitter account is @parentsforTK. Email parentsfortkschools@gmail.com to be added to the email list.

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Linda Odette
Linda Odette
Linda Odette is a freelance writer and editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism. She’s worked primarily as an editor in feature departments at newspapers in West Michigan, including the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Holland Sentinel. She lives in East Grand Rapids near the Eastown edge, has a teenage son and a daughter in college. Read Linda's full bio or email Linda.

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