Is East Lansing Losing Its Humanity Part II

My letter is in response to Scott Bame’s most recent piece:


I have lived in East Lansing for 12 years. My husband and I bought a home in the Bailey subdivision that was most desirable to us because of its close proximity to MSU, but more importantly, neighborhood schools. I was only 26 at the time and kids were to come a few years down the road (we now have three!) but even then, we understood the value of our location.



Fast forward to present day, and I find myself in the midst of a campaign to get a heavily researched and thoughtfully presented bond passed, that our city, children, teachers and future generations so desperately need.



If you feel “there is no talk” about how this bond will improve the education of the students, it might be because myself and many other community members are spending a lot of time publicly addressing negative and false comments, trying to steer the community toward the facts. If you’re not hearing the talk of education improvement, it’s because you’re not listening or talking to the right people.



I volunteer in Marble’s cafeteria EVERY MORNING. I serve as a co-chair on one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. I am a Kindergarten classroom mom. I am in the mix of the schools every single day. It’s because of my involvement that I am working my tail off to promote the bond and get better facilities for our children and teachers.



I’m working as one of two administrators on the YES Facebook page. I film the conditions of the building to show just how desperate we are in need of rebuilds. I canvas door to door. Most importantly, I speak with teachers, custodial and cafeteria staff in every single building and I’ve yet to meet one that isn’t in support of better facilities to accommodate updated teaching models and needs. I hear them and I am advocating for them.



Necessary improvements at our buildings go beyond “lighting” and “increased safety” both at our school entrances and parking/bus lots. Stagnant sewage sits beneath our floors because of outdated plumbing, our early childhood programing is housed in portable units because of lack of space at Pinecrest, our heating systems are inefficient, classrooms are windowless, buildings don’t have space for school-wide assemblies… I COULD GO ON. We are not a community that values “fancy pretty buildings” but one that values workable conditions for our teachers and our students.



With the passing of this bond, our schools will offer:

1. Outdoor classrooms to reconnect children to their environment through outdoor instruction.

2. Areas designated for Flex and STEAM.

3. Small group and meeting spaces

4. Safe and secure entrances.

5. Flexible learning environments (bigger open spaces, flexible seating for mobile kids)

6. Separation of parent and bus traffic

7. Age appropriate furnishings and technology

8. AND MORE!



It’s a shame that our teachers, who work in our buildings every single day, have to rely on us to help improve their working conditions and I feel they are the ones getting lost in all the back and forth unnecessary ugliness surrounding this bond. We have the opportunity to change that. Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. Students of all ages learn better when they are allowed to work in collaborative, youth-centered, safe spaces like those we have an opportunity to develop if the bond passes.


I don’t know how many more times this can be said, but I will try once more. The bond committee, comprised of 22 citizens volunteered months of their time, pouring over the research, crunching the numbers, and talking it through to then come together to put forth the plan that we are voting on May 2. They presented it to the board, who unanimously voted to put it on the ballot. Renovating was looked at extensively, and it was agreed upon that rebuilding was the best way to go.



I did not receive the letter Rima and Raphael Addiego sent publicly, but I did read it. The biggest takeaway I received is this: when comparing numbers with interest and principal, the 2012 bond and 2017 bond are much closer in cost than previously suggested. There is only a 15.53% difference between the 2012 and 2017 bond proposals, and we now get five brand NEW schools and one renovated school. WOW.

I know Rima was on the board when the five-school renovation bond didn’t pass. Beyond that, I don’t know much else about her or her motives that intend to encourage people to vote down a bond that will strengthen our school system, increase our property values and essentially, bring our community together. It’s stated there are better and other plans out there. Where are they? The five-school renovation bond failed, and if this one fails, next on the ballot is the four-school model. Financially that could be a viable option, however socially and emotionally? I think we all know that would not fly. This current plan has been positioned as a compromise for our community. I believe it is that and so much more.



If East Lansing votes down another bond, our city is going to suffer. Many people’s perception of our town will become our reality. We are no longer going to attract young couples looking to the future for their children. Families are going to move to neighboring districts that publicly support education, teachers, and educational facilities.



I implore you to attend the next forum at Donley on April 11 at 4 pm. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and to get a tour of the building.



Watch these videos put together highlighting the conditions of our schools:

East Lansing Bond YES


Stay up to date via the district’s page:

District Bond Information


Follow the YES committee’s Facebook page to read endorsements from Gretchen Whitmer, Mark Meadows, Erik Altmann, Sam Singh, Curtis Hertel, elementary teachers, and many community members in full support of this bond:
YES committee’s Facebook page


For more on 21st Century Learning Environments, visit:

21st Century Learning Environments

Or, join me for coffee if you’re open to reviewing the YES side of things. I’d love to chat (and I’ll even buy) on why I, and so many of my neighbors, friends and ELPS employees believe the time to pass this bond is NOW.


Tali Faris-Hylen
tali@ripplepublicrelations.com
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