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No Excuse For Not Passing Civic Engagement Bill

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My Assembly Bill 796 recently passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of six to one.  If it is signed into law, eligible students would be able to be excused from school without penalty to participate in civic engagement and leadership activities. Joining the list of excused absences would be serving on a community committee, an advisory board or task force, attending a town hall meeting or an educational conference on the legislative or judicial process, or becoming a member of a youth commission. An excused absence could not include participation in a demonstration or political campaign.

There is no better example of my bill’s intent than President Barack Obama’s cute, human gesture at a Wisconsin town hall-style meeting on health care. He penned 10-year-old Kennedy Corpus a memorable note excusing her from her from the last day of school as her father stood to ask a question about health care reform. John Corpus told him that his daughter was missing school to attend a public meeting to see the President and that he hoped she wouldn’t get in trouble. “Do you need me to write a note?” President Obama asked.

If AB 796 passes, California students in Kennedy’s situation wouldn’t have to worry. But for now, you can’t really argue with a hand-delivered note from the President of the United States: “To Kennedy’s teacher,” he wrote, “Please excuse Kennedy’s absence...she’s with me.” Kennedy will never forget this experience with her father. It’s important that we encourage such activities so that students make civic engagement a lifetime commitment.

Wilmer Amina Carter
Assemblymember, District 62

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