Beth Oswald - Helping Families Get Involved in Their Child’s Education

Helping Families Get Involved in Their Child’s Education
My teachers’ union gave me a copy of the Senate bill; it was an amendment to the Family Medical Leave Act, and it would include 16 hours a year for parents to attend school conferences, special ed meetings, anything that’s academically related. They had me go speak to the Senate Education Committee and over a year later, to the House. (Things never happen fast in government).

It was really powerful because I think a lot of our policymakers don’t realize that there are parents out there who can’t just go to their boss and say, “Hey, I’m going to be gone for an hour or two. I’m going to my kids’ conference.” There are people whose boss would say, “Well, no you’re not, unless you don’t want this job.”

I got to share some anecdotal stuff about my own students and their parents and myself, as a grocery clerk [when] I got two personal days to take a year. I put in six months in advance for my wedding and was told the day the schedule came out that it was denied,  that they had given a temporary summer-help guy the day off.

I shared that story with the Senate and one of the esteemed men on the committee said, “Well, it must have worked out because I see you have a ring on a finger.” I said, “Yes, I do, but it was only because I had to bend over backwards to cover my hours.”

Parents deserve the opportunity to do this. Parents need to be there for their kids; not everyone’s fortunate enough to be in a job like I currently am where I have a boss who says, “It’s family first. If you need to be with your children, if you need to be with your spouse or your parents for any kind of a situation, you need to be there.”

With the [state] Assembly, it was even a larger group of people. I’m not sure if it’s going to pass, but it was really neat to be able speak to them about the importance of family involvement in school.