Hands off our school funds!


Alamance members won education increases across the board! 



It all started when our Alamance County members overheard a conversation they weren’t supposed to hear. The County Commission was planning to take money from the education reserve fund, which is intended for school repairs and physical upgrades, and put it into a project to expand the courthouse in Graham. To most of us, that smelled like investing in the prison pipeline. Our kids deserve better. 

Most people in Alamance County don’t want the money for our children’s schools taken away- so our members decided to put their outrage into action and organize the “Our Dollars, Our Schools” campaign

Tameka Harvey speaks out
Photo: Member Tameka Harvey speaks out at an Alamance County Commission meeting. (Photo by Milton Lindsay)

Using our voices

Alamance County’s government has a long history of being on the wrong side of the people they are supposed to represent. From squandering taxpayer dollars on  the defense of a Confederate statue, to attacking and pepper-spraying kids and the elderly during a march to the polls our elected officials have repeatedly attacked people of color, the poor and working class. So when our members heard the commissioners might be investing in the prison pipeline instead of education, they knew they had to act to hold the local government accountable.

“What kind of society do we want our kids to grow up in?” asked Amanda Baker-Perry, Alamance County member. “What kind of opportunities do we want to give our children? When we invest in our schools and we give them safe places to learn, with adequate equipment, with safe environments, and comfortable temperatures, they can excel. And if we tell them we don’t want to fix your school because we would rather build a courthouse, that says a different message.”

Amanda and other members knew the first step was to make sure the County Commission’s plans didn’t remain hush-hush. Everyone agreed that their neighbors needed to know what they knew about the plan to misuse school funds. To this end, members planned a door knocking canvass, a phone bank, and a petition drive. Soon, new people started to come to local chapter meetings as they heard about the county’s plan. They, too, got fired up about the issue, and invited their friends into the organizing. Seasoned members like Amanda and Tanya, a former ABSS social worker and current ABSS parent, took leadership roles, and a lot of new people stepped up, like Brian, Tameka, and Anita. 

Once people were informed about the issue– and rightfully upset!– it was time to take their message to the County Commission: Our Dollars, Our Schools. Dozens of Down Homies turned out to the local board meeting and one after another made it clear that working people’s tax dollars  should fund things our communities need… In other words we should fund schools, not courthouses. 

“They spoke out and saw they can have a voice,” says Regional Organizer Bryant Crisp. 


Video: Member Amanda explains why this campaign was important to her as a resident of Alamance.

What we won

Down Home members were visible at meetings and they were diligent about looking at budget lines and holding the county commissioners accountable to their constituents’ demands. Our relationships with them grew, and ultimately we got a lot of wins for education. 

We didn’t stop the commissioners from using reserve funds, but we did get important education means met in the yearly budget.

“A good portion went to education,” says Bryant. “Our ask was that they not steal from the education fund, and they wound up using most of those reserve funds for education, so it’s a win.”

Teachers‘ supplements are paid by the county, and they’ve been traditionally very low. Now they’ve added another $1.3 million to the teachers’ stipend fund. The county also added another $500,000 to supplement coaches’ salaries. Now every school has an athletic trainer, not just select schools, which helps the student athletes and the schools. Coaches have been speaking out about it for a long time, but this time the County Commission really listened and did something for them and for the teachers.

“We didn’t get what we asked for, but we got increases across the board,” says Bryant. These include high teacher supplements, so Alamance can keep and attract a great pool of teachers. The budget increases coaches’ and trainers’ supplements, too.

The biggest accomplishment for the chapter was building member leadership.  Not only did the chapter talk to over 500 new residents about our people-powered movement, but Bryant says there are 30 new regular participants, 8 new members, and 6 new member leaders.

“Our members have skilled up and are canvassing and speaking out and are ready for the next campaign we choose,“ he says.