Saturday, November 12, 2011

Memorandum of Understanding Causes Parents Significant Concern

I opened my inbox this morning to dozens of emails from parents and concerned citizens who responded to their reading of the Memorandum of Understanding circulating in regards to the Superintendent's Plan to Improve Student Attendance in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. It is of great concern that every sheriff, chief of police, county attorney, and county commissioner are being asked to affirm their support for incongruous Mission, Guiding Principles and Vision of the GOALS Initiative.

The law has already caused parents significant concern and caused families to suffer the humiliation of being treated like "criminals". Some of the beliefs that are stated as guiding principles for the GOALS initiative are significant steps designed to crystallize a paradigm shift and will make it significantly harder for parents to reclaim their rights lost in 2010 by a unanimous vote in the Unicameral which shifted discretion over school attendance form parents and principals to lawyers and judges.

One email in particular expressed the increasing concern caused by the onslaught of policy implementation hastily approved since the law passed. The unequivocal statement that school attendance is the "single most important element to the student's ability to learn and be successful in school and life" places too much weight on only one of many important factors that contribute to a child's ability to learn and be successful in life and is compounded by the inference that the state should intervene when parents "occasionally" struggle to meet their child's NEED to attend school daily with practically NO exceptions.

The letter reads as follows:

"It is 3:23am on November 12th, 2011. I am unable to sleep because of the anxiety I am having over winter coming and the possibility of my children missing school. Thankfully my children are generally in good health, however, we have already missed 3 days this year due to illness and it is only the beginning of November. There have been at least 4 other days that I would have kept my children home, except they weren't "sick enough". My thought process is now, "Send them today, just in case it is worse tomorrow" and "Don't use up all your allowed sick days at the 1st of the year". Sadly, we have had more illness in our home in the past 3 months, more than the previous 13 years. I 100% believe this is because parents are now forced to send their children to school sick. EVERY person I know with children has sent them to school sick. Maybe not violently ill, but enough so that germs and illnesses are being passed around again and again.

"Where did common sense go? If you are sick, stay home. Germs and illness are NOT things that should be shared. I am a responsible parent and I know what is best for my children. Each person I associate with is responsible and they know what is best for their children. If my children miss school, we (both me and my student) gather the missed work from the teacher and get it turned in within a day or so of returning to school. If necessary, they go in before school or stay after to make up anything that they miss. I understand that there are issues with truant children. Staying home sick is NOT truant. Websters dictionary defines truant as: one who shirks duty; especially : one who stays out of school without permission. My children don't skip school, they aren't EVER truant. If they are out of school, they do have permission from me, their parent. to It boggles my mind that we are all now sending our children to school because of FEAR. That is not a good environment for anyone to learn.

"We had a family reunion in October that we passed on because of this law. We are NOT going to be with family for Thanksgiving this year because of this law. Our Christmas holiday will be shortened because of this law. Our Spring break vacation is now altered because of this law. My husband is now looking for a new job in another state because of this law. I know of at least 5 other families that are looking to move out of Nebraska because of this law. I know of 3 families that accepted jobs in other states because of this law. I am awake at nearly 4am because of this law.

"Please, please, please - allow good parents to be parents. Work with us in raising our children, not against us. Restore the classic definition of truancy and restore a parents right to excuse their child from school.

Thank you,
Christine Bates

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