Originally Published Summer 2007
Home Educators’ Capitol Day 2007 was definitely a great day! According to our counts, over 600 individuals representing approximately 190 families were in attendance from 63 districts. No doubt many of the legislators who were unfamiliar with home education now have a better understanding, as well as a face from their districts to make home education more personal for them.
We received many reports of successful visits with legislators. We’ve highlighted three of those visits here to encourage your family to get involved in the coming year. Choose to be involved citizens—every family has a part to play as we represent and promote home education in Oklahoma.
Scott & Sara McPherson and their children, Abigail, Esther, and Lydia of Lindsay wrote:
We were so excited about Capitol Day! This was a great opportunity to share the way our family is educating our children. Our daughters drew pictures of their Presidents’ Day lesson, and we created a postcard collage of some of our projects to leave our legislators. We also wrote thank-you notes for their devotion to bettering education in Oklahoma. We did not get to meet with our representative but left him our notes and pictures. However, we had a delightful, quick visit with Senator Paddack. She even had water and animal crackers for our girls. We didn’t visit with her in hopes of converting her to homeschooling but to show her that we were just as serious about education as she is. We began follow-up efforts immediately with thank-you notes and pictures.
It was encouraging to see other families from across the state politely, quietly fighting to keep our freedom to choose. We’d encourage more families to go next year—not to quote stats and make converts. OCHEC provides packets of information for the legislators to read. Meeting us face-to-face adds to the effectiveness of those stats! Remember, legislators want the same results we do; they just have differing ideas on how to get there. By attending Capitol Day, we get to say, “We’re here. We are providing quality education to our children. We’d love to have your support by leaving things as they are!”
Rev. Dr. Joseph & Kat Hébert of Okemah:
While participating in this year’sCapitol Day activities, my wife Kat and I were able to meet both of our legislators. Senator Roger Ballenger joined us at the box luncheon and had a photograph made of the three of us on one of the rotunda balconies. Representative Dale Turner was not able to join us at the box luncheon but was available to meet with us when we dropped in at his office. Though we learned quite a bit about pending legislation earlier in the day at the town hall meeting, we did not discuss any specific bills with our legislators. Instead we spoke only briefly of home education, and then only in general terms, and kept otherwise to polite conversation. We did make a point of telling both of our legislators that unlike other constituencies, we weren’t interested in acquiring any kind of financial support from the state. Both Senator Ballenger and Representative Turner expressed a sympathetic understanding of how tax breaks have a way of evolving into intrusive regulation.
Our objective was not to lobby for any one specific bill. Our intention was instead to establish an association of our faces with our names. We wanted our legislators to recognize us as reasoned and thinking neighbors, not just anonymous constituents. To further cement this association, we followed up by sending thank-you letters to both of our legislators.
Will & Nancy Schwab and their children, Leah, Olivia, and Dean of Shawnee wrote:
Being new to Oklahoma, we were a little reluctant to participate in Capitol Day, but are we glad we did! Our legislators did not attend the luncheon, so we decided to visit their offices, not knowing what to expect. To our surprise, our senator, Charlie Laster, invited us into his office. He put us at ease and spoke with our six-year-old daughter about his own kids and showed us some of their artwork. We asked him about homeschooling, and he said he believed it was a parent’s right to choose how to educate their children. We spent twenty minutes talking with Representative Kris Steele’s wonderful assistant, who insisted we stay until he finished his meeting. When Rep. Steele arrived, we discovered that he is one of the pastors at a church around the corner from us in Shawnee and has two young children. He also expressed his support for homeschooling and gave us a tour of the House chamber. After returning home, our girls (ages six and three) drew pictures of their day, and we sent thank-you notes to both men. Recently we received a nice letter of appreciation from Rep. Steele. What a great experience! We see the value of this time spent at the capitol with our legislators and will be back next year so they don’t forget we’re out here.