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Yesterday my family was proud to join other children and moms braving the 100 degree heat to hold a lemonade stand at the General Assembly raising money for education and other kids’ programs cut in the current budget proposal.

Unfortunately, in addition to raising some much needed money for the state budget, our children learned an ugly lesson in politics as they attempted to deliver their donations to Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger. The stand, organized by NC MomsRising and Together NC, raised $140 through small donations chipped in by families and school children visiting the museums across from the General Assembly.

The families running the stand wanted to highlight parents’ willingness to share the burden of raising revenue and to ask lawmakers to consider including revenue in their final budget proposal.

The children were proud of the contribution they were making to save teachers’ jobs and excited to deliver their profits to lawmakers.

When we reached the offices of the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore, we were surprised to learn that they couldn’t accept donations to the General Fund, but we were ok with trying to find a way to donate through the Dept of Revenue.

The much more unpleasant surprise was the way we were treated. A plain-clothes police officer joined us in the Speaker’s office as we tried to speak with staff, followed us into the hallway afterwards, and watched us from the balcony as we went to the floor below.

And, despite a courteous reception by his staff, Senator Berger declined to stick his head out of what had been an open door to his office and say anything to the children on their efforts.

Instead, staff shut the door to his personal office upon hearing we were waiting.

What started out as an exciting lesson for my kids in how our government needs everyone’s participation ended with my six year old asking, “Why did they call the police on us, Mama? We didn’t do anything wrong. We were just trying to save our teachers.”

And that’s a question no NC parent should have to answer.

 


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