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A Tale of Parental Involvement

by Mary Ann Polish

Our Elko County Eagle Forum group decided that we must take an active part in educating the residents in our area about the Goals 2000 plan. Janet Weeks, Kay Dawn Jenkins and I accomplished this with very little help and effort.

Early in the year when the State of Nevada Board of Education was advertising for parents who would like to sit on one of the several boards for Goals 2000, Janet applied. Even though she was not accepted, Janet and a few other concerned parents drove 220 miles to a regional meeting. The state board, sensing Elko County's discontent (we are famous for spurning federal rule), decided to hold a public meeting here in order to push the program through.

This gift from the Almighty gave us the perfect opportunity to educate the citizens of Elko County. Through the use of a donated copy machine and paper, we printed copies of our "Goals 2000 Update." We used portions of a state brief on Goals 2000, the Phyllis Schlafly Report, and even some cartoons. Since Elko County is the largest county in Nevada, we knew we would not be able to take these flyers to every community. We enlisted the help of our Eagle phone tree, area church pastors, and the Christian Coalition to get the word out. The three of us concentrated on the Elko and Spring Creek areas. All this was done in a matter of three weeks.

There are 6 elementary schools, 2 junior highs, and 2 high schools in the Elko area. Each day of the week (this was one week before the meeting), we divided ourselves among three of the schools. With the help of a few other Eagles and our homeschool teenagers, we placed flyers on the vehicles of all the teachers and gave one personally to every parent who dropped off a child for school. The flyer specifically asked them to please attend the meeting and voice their opinions.

This had an explosive effect. So many teachers who were not familiar with the program and many highly offended parents called the state and the local school district to ask about the meeting. Seeing that this program was not going to be easily accepted, the state set the hearing time for 4 o'clock in the afternoon. This only compounded their problem when many working parents became upset that they would not be able to attend. The state finally extended the hearing until 9 p.m.

At this point in time, our county is heavily involved in the fight to get our federal lands returned to the state. Many miners, ranchers, and cowboys in this county feel that government has gone way overboard. We are in a "trim the government down" mode. Knowing this, we highlighted the fact that the Goals 2000 would be the monster of them all, especially since it would step over into the sacred area of our family life.

The turnout was great! Even though the people were divided over whether this program or that program could be good, almost everyone agreed that "government money means government control" and we don't want them controlling our schools any more than they do now.

The state speakers who presented this plan had no rebuttal for the audience on that point. Since the local school board and our brand new superintendent could plainly see that they would be held accountable, they voted the funding and the plan participation down. They also promised the parents that they would use local efforts to improve our schools before we tried any federally funded or state programs.

Time was very limited and so we feel that this was a miracle from Heaven. We really didn't have to do much. We had no funds, the other women and I live miles apart, and so the Lord did most of it for us. Helping Him gave us such a spiritual renewal. We can keep pushing on.

Elko is so diverse. We have mining, ranching, farming, gaming, etc.; there are so many different faiths; most of the population goes to church. Though there are some widely different political views here, most people have this common thread: We all have our property and means of living. We have our families and our churches. We have our life. We believe these things are our God-given rights and that government cannot and should not take them away. Elko is a wonderful place to live.

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