Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our Voices Magnified

Stephanie Morgan and Christy Hall

Yesterday we participated in the government of our state in order to defend the bed rock of our society, the family. Together with friends, fellow society members, and mothers who I admire and respect, I went to Lincoln to testify before the judiciary committee in opposition to LB 463.

I have always loved politics, prided myself on being informed, and would never skip an election, but yesterday for the first time I really participated in this great democracy that I love.

It wasn’t easy! Even after closely following the issue for nearly two months, reading the bill dozen times, writing a handful of articles, and combing over our testimonies for a week; I was nervous and still delivered my testimony with a few hiccups, but it was worth it.

There is a story in the World Herald today by Martha Stoddard that re-caps the hearing pretty well. It’s the most complete of the news coverage on this story. (Read: Moms: Truancy Bill too Harsh)

Here are some of the highlights of our testimonies. Autumn Cook testified first for the opposition, she said, “the net was being cast too wide, and would catch families that don't need catching.”

In my testimony I highlighted the statistical ploy that is used in the funding section of this bill that first triples the percentage of students considered truant and then requires a fifty percent reduction of this higher rate.

I testified that, “The requirement that the truancy rate be reduced by fifty percent based on ten absences will obviously pressure schools to begin an aggressive investigation after only five absences. It’s the only way to reduce the rate by fifty percent when that rate is calculated at ten absences.”

Christy Hall focused her testimony on the consequences that follow after only five absences, she said, “I am concerned that regular parents and students will become the object of inappropriate and undeserved scrutiny.”

Crystal Young testified that this legislation undermines parental authority and will result in weakening the family and by extension the education of our children. Her testimony made brilliant use of personal experience and was a passionate defense of the family.

I must report to our society that I was disappointed when the Millard School District sent a representative to testify in support of LB 463 while the State Board of Education and OPS took a neutral stand on this legislation.

The representative from OPS in contrast came well informed and from his neutral position was in a better position to discuss both positives and negatives about the bill. He addressed more of our concerns then our own school administrator.

During Autumn Cook’s testimony Senator McGill said, “We often don’t hear from regular people at the Capitol.” What a shame! Shame on us regular people, that is! But not yesterday! Yesterday, we were great! We sat in front of powerful people – scary! – And told them how we felt and what we thought. We were prepared and thoughtful, and we reminded them and ourselves that these laws affect real families.

For the better part of two months we have closely followed this truancy bill, wrote letters to lawmakers, and informed our friends. We have done our best to provide some balance to this important legislation. I want to thank those who gathered their courage, left their children, and drove in a blizzard to testify before the committee; but I also want to thank those parents of our society who were with us in spirit, who prayed for us, and shared their experiences and perspectives for us to voice. We took your concerns with us and voiced your frustrations.

The members of the committee were respectful and receptive to our concerns; we had an opportunity to talk to school administrators, the county attorney, and Senator Ashford after the hearing. I am pleased with the work we have done so far but we are not done yet. We must use this opportunity to push for amendments that will protect us and other parents like us.

No comments:

Post a Comment