Hands Off Our Schools, a nonpartisan grassroots movement that advocates for local control for all Connecticut school districts, has signed on its 10,000th member, according to Tammy Ward, one of the group’s organizers.
The group has grown dramatically in numbers since it was launched at a meeting of concerned citizens in Wilton on Jan. 31, following Sen. Martin Looney’s introduction of a bill to force school districts to combine with neighboring ones.
The group welcomes new members through its Facebook page, #Hands Off Our Schools.
“We are very excited that so many neighbors have taken a stand to defend our schools and preserve our autonomy,” said Bill Lalor, chairman of the Wilton Republican Town Committee and organizer of the Jan. 31 meeting. “I think it’s great that in two months, 10,000 citizens from around the state have come together to remind the politicians in Hartford that local governance and accountability are bedrock features of Connecticut governance.”
While Hands Off Our Schools supports voluntary shared services for the purpose of improving educational outcomes and reducing costs; the removal of state- imposed barriers that drive up education costs; and measures focused on improving educational outcomes across all school districts, the group is also opposed to forced regionalization of school districts and state- imposed punitive measures to coerce regionalization.
The group has written thousands of letters, articles and emails to alert citizens in towns all over Connecticut to the legislature’s attempt to regionalize local schools.
Members of Hands Off Our Schools have also testified in large numbers at public hearings of the legislature’s Education Committee.
“It is a privilege to know and work with everyone who has worked so hard to convey their views on these important education and governance issues to the legislature,” said state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) who represents parts of Wilton, Norwalk, and Westport and has been a guiding member of the group.
“10,000 is just the start,” said Lalor. “There are thousands more out there who are looking for an easy way to take action and save our schools. We welcome anyone who wants to join our grassroots effort and make a difference.”
For more information, visit handsoffourschools.org, or handsoffourschools on Facebook.