Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Am Off To The Capitol In Hartford Today


I'll be testifying in front of the Select Committee On Children regarding SB162
and here is what I will say:

TESTIMONY TO SELECT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN REGARDING WITHDRAWAL FROM PUBLIC SCHOOL

Good Morning, Chairmen Meyer and McMahon, and other respected committee members. My name is Judy Aron and I am the Research Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. I have successfully homeschooled my three children, through K-12. One has graduated from Boston University and currently works in New Haven as a transportation analyst, one is working through his junior year at Wentworth Institute of Technology studying computer networking, and my youngest is 16 and recently made the Dean’s List at Tunxis Community College. I withdrew my oldest two children from public school 11 years ago, without any question to my ability or authority as a parent and with just a letter from me and my husband to their school, and thankfully our family never encountered any problems when we parted ways. It is a shame to me that we now have to have a statute put in place to enforce the rights that parents have already always had in the past, just to insure that schools do not abuse their authority.

I am here today to speak to you about SB 162 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE WITHDRAWAL OF A CHILD FROM ENROLLMENT IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL.

I support this legislation if and only if the original language proposed by Representative O’Neill is in place.

You are all very hardworking and engaged legislators and so I think you can appreciate the importance of making sure proposed legislation does what it is intended and carefully crafted to do. Representative O’Neill has worked long and hard with parents to create language that will solve a terrible problem which has been burdening and costly to parents, school systems and DCF alike in the past few years. It makes it very clear how a parent can satisfy their duty to educate their child by withdrawing their child from public school to educate them without harassment and hindrance by public school officials and by stating that what parents must do to withdraw their child is to provide a signed letter of withdrawal to the school district and that the school district must accept the letter and immediately disenroll the child. It is not the place of public schools to give approval for parents to withdraw their child from school; rather it is the parent’s decision to withdraw their child which must be respected and adhered to by the school.

The Department of Education and school administrators are under the false notion that it is their "obligation under the law to educate all children" Actually our State Constitution- does not say that at all! What the state is mandated to do, as was brought out by the Sheff vs. O'Neill lawsuit, was that the state must provide an equal opportunity to receive an adequate education. That's it. Additionally, the state has nothing whatsoever to do with educating all children... only those enrolled in their system. And parents have always had the right to disenroll their children from that system without question. In the words of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, "Every child is entitled to a public education, but public education is not entitled to every child" (Jan. 26, 2005)

With regard to the language of this proposed statute, I implore you to JF this bill as was originally proposed by Rep. O’Neill and to make quite sure that it is not amended or changed or watered down along the way. It is imperative that a parent’s right to disenroll their child not be turned into merely a request that awaits approval from others who are not parents or guardians of the children. Erosion of parental rights in this manner would be a grievous injustice and I believe that is not the result that you all seek here today.

We must not only do this to protect parental rights, but we must do this to end the coercive and heavy handed tactics by schools which end up wasting precious tax dollars on unnecessary litigation, and which also wastes time and resources in the Department of Children and Family with false allegations of educational neglect made by these same schools and administrators. This practice as you will hear causes unnecessary financial burdens and trauma to a family. It needs to stop. You have the power to stop it. Passing this legislation will strengthen a parents right to make a clean cut between a school and their children, so that they can part ways and do what it is their duty to do as parents as outlined by CGS 10-184.

Please amend this bill with the original language as put forth by Rep. O’Neill, and if you cannot do that then I would prefer that this bill be killed now with it’s imperfections and incorrect and damaging language, because this should be done the right way the first time and not create unintended consequences nor should it serve to erode a parent's right to dictate how and when their child should be educated.

Thank you.

Judy Aron
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Representative O’Neill’s Original Language:
AN ACT CONCERNING WITHDRAWAL FROM SCHOOL.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That subsection (a) of section 10-220 of the general statutes be amended to provide when a parent or guardian of a child provides by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the principal of the school that the child attends or to the superintendent of the local or regional board of education, written notice originated by and signed by the parent or guardian of a child stating that the parent or guardian is withdrawing the child from enrollment in a public school and will provide instruction for the child as required pursuant to section 10-184 of the general statutes, the principal of the school that the child attends or the local or regional board of education shall accept such notice and shall deem the child withdrawn from enrollment in the public school immediately upon receipt of such notice.

Statement of Purpose:
To allow parents to home school their children and to require the board of education to respect their decision.

4 comments:

mrs. dani said...

Good Luck and let us know what happens. There have been and will be prayers said for all of you today.

Jennifer in OR said...

Well said, Judy, I hope it all goes well!

Anonymous said...

I admire you very much, Judy, and am learning a great deal from your spirited and thoughtful blog. May you never stop writing it! I cannot WAIT to hear to hear how it went in Hartford today, and hope you won't make me--all of us-- wait until tomorrow to hear your news!--:o)

Judy Aron said...

Thanks for your kind words.
My heart breaks when I hear the stories of the parents who have had to deal with the abuse of authority practiced by these school districts.
This is what compels me to do what I do. No parent should have to go through what these parents go through in order to advocate for their child and give them the education that they require and deserve. No school administrator or state agency should be allowed to treat these parents as if they were criminals.
The fact that these school administrators do this without any consequence to them is appalling, and in the meanwhile families are put under tremendous stress and trauma and financial hardship. That to me is a crime in and of itself.