Parents and students who support the Carson Smith Scholarship joined us at the Capitol during the legislative session to let their legislators know how much this program means to their child and family and to lobby them to support the bill. They were there participating in the first annual Carson Smith Scholarship Day on the Hill. As reported in the news, “Dozens of parents of special needs children rallied at the Capitol Friday to tell their story to lawmakers and show support for the Carson Smith Scholarship program.” (Read the article)
CAPTION: PCE trains Carson Smith Parents how to lobby their legislators at the state capitol
After meeting with their legislators, the Carson Smith parents met for lunch where they were addressed by elected officials who have been long supporters of the Carson Smith Scholarship. Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert thanked the parents for what they stood for because it allowed him as an elected official to “have a little more courage” and “little more vision” for K-12 policy. He continued:
"Carson Smith, I know, is a great blessing to you and your family...but I'm here to tell you it's a blessing in other ways because it's a visionary thing. It has taken some courage by some of our legislators, and it's something that's going to open the door to other opportunities for us for parental choice."
Representative Merlynn Newbold and Morgan Philpot, a former legislator and original sponsor of Carson Smith legislation along with Rep. Newbold, recounted what the scholarship meant to them and how it had blessed so many families in the state.
For most of the Carson Smith parents in attendance, this was their first exposure to direct advocacy. Many came away from the experience empowered with the knowledge that they can and did have an impact on K-12 legislation.