Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Open Letter To The CT State Senate

Dear Senate Pro Tem Williams and CT State Senators,

As I sit here watching you all on CT-N debating and unanimously passing the Ethics Reform Bill with its amendment, and lauding the merits of working together in a bi-partisan manner to get important legislation passed, I can only wonder why it is that you cannot all work in a similar fashion to re-instate the language into SB162 that amends CGS 10-220, via LCO 4143 and LCO 4055, and pass the parental rights bill SB162. Instead, this bill is being held up and has been put to the foot of the calendar while parents across CT are being harassed by school administrators and DCF who threaten to take their children away from them even as you sit in session!

I know that many of you have already expressed your support and advocacy for this bill in the form that was originally and unanimously passed out of the Children's Committee with the help and leadership of Sen. Meyer, and for that parents across CT deeply thank and commend you. But for those of you who haven't expressed support or are unsure for some reason, we ask you to please reconsider, and to put party politics and Department of Education interests aside. It is time that you show the parents in this state that you support the rights that they have always had, and that you will put an end to the abuse of authority by school administrators and DCF that has been allowed to continue. By the volume and content of correspondence, you must know that your constituents are crying out to you for action and that their rights as parents cannot be compromised or haggled with.

Parents who have had their children sexually assaulted and bullied in school have also has to endure the bullying tactics of their local school administrators and of DCF as well. Parents who have decided that the public schools are not an appropriate choice for them are being harassed for choosing to withdraw. Parents should not be put into a position of asking permission to leave those public schools, especially when those schools have been abusive or hostile to their choice. Rather parents should be able to say they are withdrawing their children from public school and to have that declaration honored by the public school. That is what this bill's amendment seeks to accomplish, and in fact will accomplish. That was, and remains, the original intent. It will stop the current abuse of authority by schools from happening.

Put simply: When a parent sends a letter that they have written which says that they are withdrawing their children from public school, that letter should be honored by the school administrators and the child should be removed from the enrollment list upon receipt. There should be no reason for the school to continue to keep a child on their enrollment list only to report the child to DCF for truancy simply because the school disagrees with a parents choice to remove the child from public school. It is also unconscionable that schools should keep children on the enrollment lists merely to collect public funding for that child! That really constitutes fraud. You need to amend CGS 10-220 with the language offered by Rep. O'Neill and the Children's Committee. You need to stop the abuse of authority and harassment of parents. You need to protect parental rights in CT and You need to work together to do this NOW!

As always, CT parents who have been communicating with you welcome any and every chance to come to Hartford to speak with you about any questions or concerns that you have with this bill. Hear our voices. We elected you to represent US. Otherwise what will you say to the children who are now afraid of their government? What will you say to those children who have worked to study civics and believe that the voice of the people really does matter from where you sit? What will you say to the children who fear being taken away from their families because they have chosen non-public education? They are depending on YOU to work together and make the statement that in CT their parents and the choices they make regarding raising their families are protected. Understand too that someday those children will also be parents who may make similar decisions for their children. They want to have the right to make those choices preserved for them as have been preserved for the past 350 years.

Please do not delay. Take this bill off the foot of the Senate calendar, amend it to Rep. O'Neill's language and pass it to the House. Parents and children across CT are waiting to see you be the leaders and champions that we know you are.

Judy Aron