LETTER: Colorado needs to pass the parental involvement for academic activities bill for families like mine

125

As a widow with a 12-year-old son, I am responsible for my son’s health and wellbeing. Like all children, he needs his mom to be a partner with his teachers, principal and school to ensure his academic success. This isn’t always easy— those of us with inflexible jobs and rigid bosses struggle to be the supportive parents we want to be. So I’m hopeful about a proposed state bill – sponsored by Aurora Rep. Janet Buckner – that would allow parents to take a limited amount of job-protected time off from work to attend their children’s academic activities.

In 2012, I thought I had found the perfect job working for the Cherry Creek School District’s Food and Nutrition Center at my son’s school. That year, my son got into trouble at school a couple of times. I was notified by my boss that the principal wanted to meet to talk about my son.  However, my boss did not permit me to talk to the principal, or even to call someone else come and get him. My son was sitting alone in the principal’s office, and I was not even allowed to go down the hall to talk to them. When I couldn’t take time to speak with the principal about my son’s disciplinary issues, I was forced to call my mom, who then had to take time off from her job to come pick my son up, even though he was in the same building as me. Whenever I needed to have some time off for parent-teacher conferences, I would ask well in advance. No matter when I asked, I was always told no. I eventually ended up losing my job because I needed time to attend my son’s parent-teacher conferences.

When the old parental involvement law was on the books, I wasn’t able to use it because I didn’t know it existed. But now that it’s gone, it is even more critical to stand with women and families and pass HB-1002. This time around, the bill includes important language that will notify parents of their rights under the bill. Parents should be able to attend their child’s parent-teacher conferences, and other academic meetings, without fear of getting fired for it. When parents can attend their children’s academic activities, it puts much less stress on families, and leads to happier and healthier children. This creates a better work environment for everyone. My family and families like mine need the protections that HB-1002 provides.

That’s why I went to the Capitol as a member of 9to5 to testify about my experience in front of the House Education Committee, so that all working parents can give their kids the support they need. Ironically, one representative put the vote on hold so he could take his child to a doctor’s appointment before returning to cast a no vote against the bill. Thankfully, Rep. Buckner’s bill passed and it heads to the State Senate for the next vote. I urge all of our elected officials to stand with women and families to support the Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act. Our children are depending on it.