Thursday, January 10, 2013

SHAC Shocked

Stephen Topp, "Day One Hundred Fifty-four" March 10, 2011 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

I got cocky today.  I went to the Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies meeting and gave an update on the Hollister nurse-in and on AISD and another local school district.  I was feeling jazzed, sharing about how all these moms came together and had largely positive experiences (with the notable exception of Concord Mall).  I was happy to be able to share that we had submitted language for our proposed regulation and that we were hopeful that there would be a new AISD regulation soon.  I was particularly excited to share that another local district drafted a policy and I was able to influence how that policy reads.

I was feeling so high and empowered that I agreed to be our HMHB representative on the Austin Independent School District's School Health Advisory Council (AISD's SHAC), and I think I might have also volunteered to be an Outreach Coordinator.

Like the laundry's just going to do itself.  Like I actually have the hang of this three kids thing, and have time on my hands.  But I was steeped in the happy of all this success, and feeling like I could take on the world.

I got super cocky.

So tonight I went to the SHAC meeting.  Unfortunately, I went to the wrong location, the one where it was held last month.  By the time I had the baby back in the van and arrived at this month's location, wouldn't you know it, I missed the discussion about the breastfeeding regulation.  Someone was kind enough to come over to me and let me know what had transpired.

The district has decided not to write a new policy. 

They're just going to follow the law, apparently.

The law that their chief of staff and legal clerk wrote a four-page legal memorandum decrying.  The law Mr. Waxler says is "open to interpretation."

The law that was in place when I and countless other mothers were shamed for feeding our babies at AISD schools over the years.

A policy - or regulation, whatever we call it - is obviously necessary to communicate expectations to staff.  There needs to be something in writing that will be seen by the staff of one hundred twenty-four schools.  Do you know the attrition rates in education?  They can't just send out an email one month and figure there will suddenly be consistency across the district.

They need to stand up and do the right thing.  Be an example of supporting breastfeeding mothers.  Be a leader in the shift that is happening across the country, whether everyone is ready for it or not.
Nursing a baby in public is not shocking. 
But AISD's decision to forgo adoption of an obviously-needed
breastfeeding regulation - that's shocking.
Photo by Jewell Stremler

I spent the meeting trying to focus, despite being distracted by my baby (who was supposed to be sleeping, but I guess he didn't get the memo), and by the shock that kept sending my mind back to the need for a breastfeeding policy.  We were told we'd get language soon a month ago.  We were told they would work with us.  I thought the delay was the holidays, not that they'd dropped the whole thing and not bothered to communicate that with any of us. 

But given how this has all unfolded, I'm starting to wonder where my shock came from.  Really, why am I even surprised?

I let myself think we were almost there.  I grew complacent.

No more.

The winter break is over.  It's time to go back to school.

Please sign and share our petition and Facebook page.  We're also (though less so) on Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.  Please help get the word out, and show AISD that it's not enough to be right back where we started.  If the administration won't write a regulation, let's write to the trustees to ask for a board policy.  And if you're local, please attend the board meeting on the evening of January 28th (more info to follow).  

As always, thank you for your support of breastfeeding moms and babies!

1 comment:

  1. Nagging thought in the back of my mind came true.... Dang. Don't worry lady, we'll keep at em.