Since its inception, Equity PAC has fiercely backed local millages that support schools, transportation, and our public libraries. The slow erosion and divestment from our public goods is stark in Michigan. Michigan is dead last in tax revenue generated for the state’s K-12 system, and no other state is remotely close to this kind of decline. Questions by the community about the future of libraries in a digital age are at an all time high. Similarly the Rapid pushes to evolve with technology and “become a 21st century transportation system that meets the need of all users” [Rose Fellows report, 2017].
The future of Grand Rapids will, in part, be determined by how public policy interacts with the power of the free market. The future public good is often viewed as more inclusive, technological, and accessible. However, as digital technology becomes a requirement (and cost) in our lives, how will libraries connect segregated neighborhoods with otherwise unaffordable technology and knowledge? As schools in Michigan bring up the rear in funding, how do students in segregated school districts access the networks that students in richer districts have? As poorer people get pushed farther out of the city, how do they get transportation access to the sources of economic opportunity in the city? The growth of business ideas and market ideas will exclude "failed markets", which means it will exclude the poorest, most segregated in the community. If Grand Rapids is to see wealth, education, and reading outcomes that cannot be predicted by race or poverty, then we as citizens will need to be acutely attuned to public policies that shape the future of libraries, schools, and transportation.
Equity PAC invited the leaders who are on the front lines of these issues to join us April 25th at Jeremy and Lorelei Moore’s house for a can’t miss event. Andrew Johnson is the new CEO of the Rapid. Elizabeth Welch is a lawyer, elected school board member, and long-time fighter for fair school funding through her involvement with the School Finance Research Collaborative. Marla Elhers is the Assistant Director of the Grand Rapids Public Library. We will also feature food and wine from George Walker’s Graped Out. This is a fundraiser but don’t let that stop you. Join us to think about the future of these public goods.