Letter: HB 156

As a classroom teacher in public schools, I’m concerned about the rights of my students’ parents. I am fortunate to work at two schools with fabulous parent volunteers who work diligently to help make our community schools the best they can be. They volunteer to work with students in classrooms. They volunteer to teach writing and art lessons. They set up and share science experiments. They share about their careers, their history and their cultural stories. They work on our Site Councils and Parent Teacher Organizations to enhance our community schools in a multitude of ways. As guest teachers, they help us instruct in every academic area.

Now, HB 156 has a clause that establishes roadblocks for one group of our parents. While all other parents are able to volunteer to the best of their ability without additional restrictions, those who work in the medical profession and volunteer to help teachers instruct our health curriculum will be asked to first submit their credentials publicly to the school board for approval with at least two weeks notice prior to volunteering in the classroom. Now, instead of asking those parents to sacrifice their time to come into help teach, we are also asking them to first sacrifice more time and submit their medical credentials to a school board. No other parents have this requirement. Even when we ask our parents who have careers in politics to come in and guest-teach about government, they don’t have to submit their credentials to the school board first. Why are parents in the health profession being singled out? Who is next? Do our school boards have time to micromanage such a guest list? What will be the objective criteria for boards to approve or deny credentials as worthy of volunteer access to their child’s classroom?

I’m confused. If the school board has approved the curriculum and the state has approved the teacher’s certificate, why do any guest volunteers have to spend their time submitting their credentials to the school board in order to volunteer in our classrooms? HB 156 has added on amendments that cause hardship for a select group of parents and needlessly adds a layer of government-controlled micromanaging that is at best a useless waste of time and at worst a scary foretelling of Big Brother to come.

Amy Jo Meiners,

2016 Alaska Teacher of the Year,