Hot Issues Discussed at Fall Advocacy Day
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Posted by: Sandra York
October 25, 2014 - Michigan PTA's fall Advocacy Day, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Dearborn, unfolded in two segments. The first portion of the day included presentations of the National PTA and Michigan PTA 2014 Public Policy Agendas, followed by an engaging discussion with attendees about how local advocacy efforts connect to state and national efforts.
After brunch, a panel presented on three current issues in Michigan followed by Q&A. Rodd Monts, field director for the ACLU, shared information related to over 350 individuals serving mandatory life in Michigan prisons for crimes committed before the age of 18. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling from June 2012 that declared these mandatory sentences unconstitutional has prompted many states to make that decision retroactive. Michigan has yet to take that step, however, bills have been presented in both the House and the Senate.
Kathy Maitland, Executive Director of the Michigan Abolitionist Project and a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, informed attendees about modern-day slavery in Michigan. In July 2013, the FBI conducted a nationwide sex trafficking sting - the Detroit area (including Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Genesee Counties) ranked second of 76 cities in the recovery of juveniles, indicating both the prevalence of the crime and the need for an intentional, systemic response. Michigan recently passed bills to begin addressing this issue, however, there is still much work to be done.
Michigan PTA Executive Director, Sandra York, highlighted a recent success in the ongoing battle to address youth related violence that is perpetrated both on and by children. OK2SAY, Michigan's new student safety initiative, was launched in late September. The program operates 24/7, 365 days/year, providing students an anonymous means to report anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others via phone, e-mail, text, web, tweet or app. OK2SAY is a progressive step toward preventing tragedies by empowering children to replace the code of silence with a code of responsibility.
Discussion after the presentations revolved around potential next steps to advocating on these issues and other related topics.
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