The Owl Newsletter
ISSUE 31 | FEBRUARY 28, 2001
SCHOOL LAW MAY FINALLY BE INFLUENCED BY PARENTS' VOICES
The Owl has spotted signs of intelligent life in the law-making world. It is a newly formed outfit called EdVoice, whose purpose is to bring parents' views to legislators on school issues. They are well led. They are well funded. They are focused on issues that matter. The Owl is not noted for optimism. But this owl is getting downright hopeful.
The group was built by ex-assemblyman Ted Lempert. In his many years in the legislature, he witnessed education law being made by lawmakers whose only dialogue was with interested parties: lobbyists representing teachers unions, school boards, and single issue cause groups.
In the last session of the legislature, over 600 bills were introduced. Very few were considered with parents' opinions attached. This is the silence Edvoice intends to end.
Mr. Lempert wants to bring parents' voices to legislators. He believes this will mean fewer dumb laws will get passed, and perhaps even a few smart ones will squeak through. A little guidance from the parents of California would go a long way, in his view.
You may think this was the purview of the PTA. If so, you are mistaken. They've been missing in action for years, perhaps decades. They are disconnected from their base, and they now represent no one. A weak PTA has, in fact, preserved a dangerous illusion that parents have had a voice in making education law. Not so.
The group is backed by Reed Hastings, now president of the state's school board. He helped make possible the passage of Prop. 39, and has been an articulate defender of charter school options.
The other key backer is John Doerr, who has been seriously committed to causes good for public education like Props. 26 and 39. He puts his money where his mouth is, and he believes that parents should have a seat at the table when law is being made.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
They have identified four issues that they believe matter most to California parents. The Owl encourages you to read what they have to say by visiting the EdVoice web site.
These issues are:
You may agree with their top four choices. You may disagree. But the power of EdVoice is in bringing parents into the lawmaking process at all. This may help counterbalance the excessive influence of the teachers' unions (among others), and anchor the debates to the customers' concerns at last.
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