Going up to The Hill was different this year. It was my first time since Covid and the first time as a mom and educator. I spent two Fridays on The Hill this year, and each experience was very different.
On the first Friday, I attended committee meetings and watched the Senate floor. I took the time to watch and soak in the legislative process, something I’d never had time to do before. The following Friday, I got busy and felt like I had made an impact.
On the second Friday, I brought my 10-week-old daughter with me to The Hill. I wanted to spend time with her on my day off, but I also wanted to make a difference in this session. I strapped my daughter onto my chest and tried to meet with my legislators. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with either my representative or my senator due to scheduling conflicts.
When I went back for lunch, my legislative experience got interesting. A colleague was texting me about how maternity leave worked and its implications. She then told me that Rep. Ballard was running a bill requiring LEAs to provide paid parental leave and leave sharing. As I had just gone through this process, I reached out to Rep. Ballard myself to try and meet with her. Her intern quickly texted back, saying they had time right then to meet. Lunch was on hold, and my daughter and I ran back to the Capitol.
When I met with Rep. Ballard, I shared my story. I explained that I had to save four years of sick leave to use for maternity leave, any doctor appointments I took also came out of my sick leave, and we had no leave sharing in my district. After I shared my experience, Rep. Ballard asked if I would write a letter sharing my story that she could distribute on the House floor. I said yes, and I went home to write my truth.
Unfortunately, the bill was defeated on the House floor. Through this experience, I was reminded of the impact that educators make every day in the classroom with our students and up on The Hill with grown adults. Nobody knows what educators go through daily until we speak up and show up. Our experiences are valid, and we must stand up for what we believe is best for our students and ourselves. Bills that favor us don’t always get passed, but we can at least let dialogue between our elected officials flow.
The first thing I try to establish in my classroom every year is relationships. Without relationships, I have nothing. The same is true up on The Hill. Without relationships, we have shoddy bills that are introduced without educator input. I was able to start a relationship with a representative, and even though I wasn’t a constituent, it’s still a start.
Granite School District