Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"She is Broken": Another innocent child is irreparably damaged by Nebraska's attendance law

Last month, NFF member Ann Summers stated in an impassioned letter to Gov. Dave Heineman and Sen. Brad Ashford, “My heart bursts each time I read one of these cases of sick children, desperate parents, and uninformed, if not disingenuous civil advocates.”

My own heart is bursting today after listening to yet another story of a sweet child with good grades from a loving and supportive family who has been irreparably harmed by Nebraska’s “excessive absenteeism” law.  This child has done nothing wrong; she only has the misfortune of having a chronic illness.  Yet she has been threatened, mocked, and bullied by the adults whom her parents trusted to educate her.  Never once has she been offered help with making up her assignments, she’s only been asked when she will be back at school, and reminded regularly of how many days she’s missed.  To the school district, her attendance matters more than her good character, her excellent grades, and her sweet personality--and she knows it.

As her mother told me yesterday, “She is broken.”

Today, as I have done many times in the past two years, I will help this mother fill out homeschooling papers.  Another family will flee our public schools to protect their sick child.

NFF parents, this must stop.  These schools are OURS, and they are for all of our children, including the ailing, the impoverished, the struggling.  Every attendance monitor, school counselor, social worker, and principal works for US.  Not vice versa.  The county attorneys and their young deputies assigned to truancy work for us too, and so do the juvenile judges who convict our sick children of crimes, remove them from their homes, and throw their parents in jail.  Yet school districts, county attorneys and judges across the state continue to use Nebraska’s atrocious (non)truancy law to bully, frighten, and threaten innocent children and families.

Listen up, Nebraska legislators, school officials, county attorneys and judges!  We are Nebraska voters, taxpayers and parents, and WE CAN NOT AND WILL NOT LET THIS STAND.

We will flood Lincoln with these children and families, we will speak to every senator, we will write letters and make phone calls and testify before committees, and we will not stop until this law is repealed. 

We will not stop, because no mother should have to pick up the pieces of a child who has been broken in the name of education.

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