A trip to City Hall may not seem like a fun way to spend an afternoon but with my new found passion for government, I was stoked to be there.
I reached out to a family friend, Councilman Zachary Reed of Cleveland’s Ward 2, because my good friend, Deemyi, needed to interview a local political figure for a class assignment. I also wanted to pick his brain a little since I’m looking into a Master’s in Political Science. He, luckily, got back to me that same day and scheduled a meeting with us at the end of March. Deemyi and I were so excited and so grateful.
We took a half-day from work, we’re co-workers as well, and walked over to City Hall in the rain. It was well worth the short, rainy journey as we got a lot of great content and we even ran into Mayor Frank Jackson.
Deemyi is currently studying to obtain her Master’s Degree in Health Education and Promotion. She asked Zachary about his thoughts on the HR 610 bill sponsored by Republican Congressman, Steve King. According to the official Congress website, “The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA’s geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.”
Furthermore, unfortunately, “the bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs,” Congress.gov explains. This rule HR 610 would “repeal requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children’s nutritional needs within their caloric requirements”. Deemyi does not support the bill for obvious reasons.
Councilman Reed, explained that the he and his colleagues wouldn’t actually be initially involved in finding solutions for the bill if it were to pass. In Cleveland, the CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District would be more involved than he would, personally, but he did mention his preference on the reach of the vouchers. He would prefer the vouchers be valid not only in private schools or for home schooling but in public schools in surrounding suburbs as well.
He then went on to talk about the importance of ensuring that every child is fed a nutritious meal during school hours as that could be their only balanced meal they receive that day due to their potential situations at home. He discussed after school programs and initiatives that even go as far as feeding some children dinner before they return home. I couldn’t help but feel sad that our federal government would want to take that away. Why? Because they personally have never experienced going without nor will their own children ever go without so, they just don’t care? That’s really upsetting.
I enjoyed listening to Deemyi and Zachary talk back and forth as it was a learning experience for me. I gained more understanding on the bill and had a chance to see how passionate they both are about children having access to a great education and the resources needed for healthy living.
A younger gentleman popped his head in the office we were talking in and invited the Councilman into a conference room to speak to a group of elementary students. Zachary and I still had a few things to discuss so he invited us to tag along with him to see the students. The kids were so excited to see him and he spoke to them with such kindness.
Mayor Frank Jackson walked into the conference room to speak to the children too. He took a few moments to speak with Deemyi, Zachary and I and even took photos with us. He expressed his concerns with HR 610, which was awesome for Deemyi to get a statement from the mayor for her assignment as well. He was friendly and so willing to chat with us.
On our way out, Councilman Reed gave me some much needed advice about my possible future in political science. He told me to focus on the issues are important to me and find a way to get involved. He said that people typically get into political science because they see a need for policy changes and want to help make those changes happen. I got to thinking and he was definitely right. With PoliSci, it’s not really a traditional career path where you start at the bottom and work your way up. It’s different than that and almost more difficult. I have a lot of planning and thinking to do but I haven’t even gotten through my prerequisites yet so I have plenty of time to find my purpose.
Councilman Reed formally announced that he is throwing his hat into the Cleveland mayoral race just yesterday! As he’s been a friend of the family since I was a child, I couldn’t be more proud of him and am ecstatic for his new journey. Mayor Frank Jackson is also running for re-election. I wish them both the best of luck! May the best man win! ❤
Thank you, Councilman Reed and Mayor Jackson for your time and your insight. Deemyi and I appreciate it more than you know.