One teacher admitted it was possible that some of the teachers used the postcards in class, but not all teachers did so. The other teacher said she was uncomfortable with what was being asked of her, so she just wrote a note to 'remember to vote on November 4th.'
My neighbor Ed brought a postcard to me last night because he was so irate over what it was.
At first, it appeared innocuous - addressed to the parents of ... with his son's name and address on the front. It was a "Vote for Issues 34 & 35" mailing, advocating a yes vote on Toledo Public Schools' two ballot issues, one a renewal of an existing levy and the other a new bond issue for school construction.
Then he noticed that the handwriting for the return address was in his son's. When he turned it over, he found a handwritten message from his son:
"Dear Mom or Dad,
Please vote for the levy. Issue 34 and 35 are important to TPS and our school."
Ed, of course, sat down with his son in order to understand what this was all about.
His son said this was supposed to be a 'how to write a letter' lesson, though he explained that they weren't doing anything similar in any of their previous lessons. Ed said he checked with other parents at the school and found out that every class did this little exercise, with kindergarten classes being asked to draw pictures on the post cards.
Each postcard cost $.27 to mail and was paid for by a postage meter (although since the meter was printed in red, it doesn't show up on the image below). I called the main Post Office Bulk Mail office to see who the meter number was registered to. It was the Toledo Public Schools meter number.
According to the disclaimer on the post card, it was paid for by "the Committee for Schools, Angela Jordan, Treasurer" - and was "Printed by union labor at no cost to the taxpayers."
So I called Angela Jordan, who is the assistant to TPS Superintendent John Foley, and asked her about this.
She explained that the TPS print shop creates the post card and then issues her a bill for the work. As the treasurer, she pays the bill. She couldn't answer other questions about design or usage because she's just the treasurer, which is understandable.
So here we have an internal department of TPS using TPS equipment to produce a campaign piece and distributing it to local elementary schools. Teachers then have the kids, as part of a class assignment, copy what they've written on the board about supporting the ballot issues, and then mail out the postcards using the TPS bulk mailing permit.
Whether or not the campaign committee reimburses for the costs is not the major point, although I would hope that they wouldn't be using school resources for their campaigning.
What is important is that Toledo Public Schools forced elementary school children to participate in an electioneering stunt, making it part of a classroom assignment, and shamelessly used them as a pawn in their political campaign. And, according to what my neighbor Ed reported, no parent was asked ahead of time for their permission to use their child in such a despicable manner.
Here are the contact numbers - make your opinion known!
John Foley, Superintendent - 419-671-8281
Lonny Rivera, Chief of Staff - 419-671-8362
Jan Kilbride, Chief Academic Officer - 419-671-8422
Carol Thomas, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent for Human Resources - 419-671-8231
Dan Romano, Treasurer - 419-671-8245
Main Switchboard - 419-671-8200
Below are the scanned images of the postcard - unfortunately, the pencil writing on the back of the card did not show up very well: