Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Someone Else Will Do It
Someone Else Will Do It: When Fear Stops You
by Gina Miller
When I received the first letter stating that my child had missed a certain number of days of school, and my school district was required by law to inform me that if she missed any more school they would be referring her to the County Attorney, my sense of injustice went right through the roof. I immediately started working to find out who I could partner with to figure out how something so sacred as the relationship between myself and my child’s school could be turned into threats and intimidation, into bullying of my child by school personnel, with innuendo and public conversations about her attendance in front of her friends.
I have been in this fight for three years. I have worked with amazing, passionate people who have put their lives on hold to fight for my child and all of yours. I have had the opportunity to meet with principals, superintendents, school boards, legislators, county boards, county attorneys, and pretty much anyone else who would listen.
I feel that I have been pretty effective getting our message out and connecting with decision and policy makers. Through all of my efforts it was not until just recently that I disclosed that I had a child that was affected by the law. Most of my friends thought this was just one of my “causes” that I was working on.
Why did I not disclose that my child was targeted, that I feel that my family has been injured and harassed?
I have struggled with this question for quite some time. Even after I told people that my daughter was in jeopardy of being referred to law enforcement, when I was asked to say something publically about it, I became paralyzed! What was that? I have fought to change this law for three years. I knew that the one thing policy makers were impacted by were family stories! I have privately told people my personal story, so what was stopping me from going public with our story?
THE DOUBTS, THE FEAR, THE INTIMIDATION….yep, that was it. What would other people say? WHAT IF “they” were right and my child really wasn’t sick and just “wanted to stay home.” WHAT IF my child received further harassment from the school because of me going public with our story? WHAT IF, since we were into year three of this harassment, they decided to use the clause in the law that said you can refer at any time if the child has previously gone over 20 days? What if, what if, what if…….
I knew we had “other family stories” and that they had been effective. What I didn’t know is that once the policy makers hear a story, they are done with it. They don’t want to hear about it again. They assume these are “one off” situations, that there is a simple explanation for that one case and they move on. Once we started getting families who would agree to tell their story publically and we were able to piece together a “quilt” of stories across districts, across counties, across the state, THEN PEOPLE STARTED LISTENING.
This is what we need: We need PEOPLE, we need FAMILIES who can personally recount their experiences with this law. We need them to stand up, to be heard, to engage, to let policy makers hear their story. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be detailed. Just SHOW up. Just start. Just come together with other families who are experiencing the same thing. You ARE NOT ALONE! There IS POWER in numbers!
What I discovered once I received a “little push” to go public is that I WAS FREE! I was free to tell my story! I received support, not judgment! I was free to go past the typical chain of command to get to the decision makers to CHANGE my situation! I was free to GET THINGS DONE! That is all I have wanted for three years! For three years I have felt like I have been screaming in the dark, fighting an unwinnable battle. But since there were brave families willing to go public I can now say that we are within inches of getting this law repealed.
We CAN NOT STOP right before the finish line! We NEED NEW STORIES, WE NEED MORE FAMILIES, and WE NEED YOU!!!!
Please join me in setting us ALL FREE!
Posted by OPS parent Gina Miller, 11/13/13
Posted by Brenda Vosik at Wednesday, November 13, 2013