June 1, 2015

Voices Heard in Sacramento

Nicola Berlinsky, Jessie Mobley, and the 4th Grade Class

The fourth grade class at Oakwood School had something to say. In the Spring of 2015, they traveled to our state capital to have their voices heard.

Teachers, Nicola Berlinsky and Jessie Mobley, began by asking students to carefully observe their communities and question things that didn’t sit well in their hearts. For two days, the students compiled a list of issues they wanted to address, falling into categories such as discrimination, animal rights, quality of life, environmental protection, public safety, and intellectual property rights. Teams were formed around these categories, then students created vision statements for their work and found an immediate focus for their efforts. To expand their knowledge on respective issues, teams interviewed experts in related fields. Signatures were gathered, articles written for the school website, and t-shirts with slogans supporting each team’s issues were designed.

On Monday, June 1, 2015, the class flew to Sacramento for a one-on-45 Senate Floor chat with their elected representative, Senator Bob Hertzberg, who listened to their views and received their petitions.

In an instance of great timing, Senator Hertzberg will be voting on many of these issues this week.

Nicola and Jessie send special thanks to Maritza Zelada for her huge support, and to Natalie (’15) for help provided as part of her senior project.

Below are summaries, written by our 4th graders, of issues presented in Sacramento:

LGBT Discrimination

We support ending LGBT job discrimination. The 2015 4th grade class at Oakwood supports this because it’s not right for any person to be treated poorly for being who they are. California Bill SB703 says that the government cannot do business with private companies that discriminate the LGBT community in the workplace. Join us in encouraging our elected officials to approve this bill.

Rights of the Homeless

SB608 supports letting homeless people sit, stand, share food, and practice religion in public without being arrested. We are supporting this because it is so hard on someone to be homeless, so they need a chance to be able to do those four things without being arrested. So join us in encouraging our elected officials to approve this bill.

Pay Equity

Women’s rights have gotten better, but one of the biggest issues we still face today is pay inequality. Each woman gets paid an average of seventy-seven cents for every man’s dollar. The bill we are supporting, CA Assembly Bill #1017, is trying to help equalize gender pay equity. This bill will prohibit people from paying one gender more than the other gender. CA Assembly Bill #1017 also focuses on African American and Latino women, who get paid an average of sixty-four or forty-four cents to every man’s dollar. Help women all around the United States of America by teaching elected officials how to vote!

Spay/Neuter Incentives

We are trying to spread the word about a new bill idea. We would like the government to pay for spaying and neutering animals in the form of a tax rebate. We support this because overpopulation is a big problem in animal shelters. When shelters get too full, they euthanize the animals. If the government gave incentive for spaying and neutering, there would be fewer animals to euthanize at shelters.

Animal Abuse Prevention

We are supporting Washington State Bill SB5501, a bill that will give the police the right to come into a house if they have the belief that an animal is being abused. The police will take the animal away from the owner under reasonable evidence of abuse before that owner is found innocent or guilty. This is not considered invading privacy because they have to give them a few days’ notice.

Cybersecurity & Copyright Protection

Do you support cybersecurity? We do. The 2015 4th grade class at Oakwood School supports the idea for a cybersecurity bill because we believe that everyone’s private information should be kept safe and artists should get credit for writing or creating original work. We want to protect people from having someone hack their ideas and all their information and share with everyone. If companies are willing to share their information with the government, then the government can help keep that information safe. We believe that even though sharing information with the government may seem like a violation of privacy, it is worth it in the long run to prevent cyber-attacks. Join us in letting our elected officials know that we support the idea for a cybersecurity bill.

Animal Testing for Cosmetics

The Oakwood School 4th grade class supports stopping animal testing because we don’t think that animal testing is right. H.R.4148 supports stopping testing cosmetics on animals. The 4th grade class is supporting this bill because animals shouldn’t have to be put through painful tests and be abused for something that’s not essential. Please help support this bill.

Step-Up Education Program

The organization, Step-Up, helps teen girls get educated and go to college. We support Step-Up because we want to help break the cycle of having teens who live in poverty not going to college, following in the footsteps of their parents before them. Join us in encouraging our elected officials to get the word out about Step-Up, and sign up to be a mentor today.


The 2015 4th grade class of Oakwood School would like you to help stop oil fracking. Bill H.R. 1951 is a bill to help stop oil fracking. Oil fracking is when people put water and chemicals into the ground and compress it, and then oil comes out. So far, people have found no actual evidence of why it is bad for the environment, but we have reason to believe it may be bad. Bill H.R 1951 wants to stop fracking until it is known for sure that it is good or bad. If it is bad and we continue before scientists prove this right or wrong, the oceans could be completely polluted and endangered species like otters and blue whales may go extinct! Join us in encouraging our elected officials to approve the bill. You can save the ocean and a lot of species!

Gun Control

The Finish the Job campaign supports background checks for anyone who gets a gun. We would like you to go to the website, bradycampaign.org and fill in the online petition letting elected officials know to vote to complete the Brady Bill. The background checks will make it so people who are convicted felons, domestic abusers, fugitives from justice, and who have other dangerous criminal records cannot get a gun. Please help by spreading the word and by telling a politician about the Finish the Job campaign.

Racial Discrimination

We would like the Oakwood community to know that we are trying to raise awareness about racial discrimination and are trying to end the problem as soon as possible. Racial discrimination has been going on for as long as anyone can remember, and we think this situation is wrong. From slavery to the Civil War to Bloody Sunday to Travon Martin, it has to stop. We think racial discrimination is wrong because we are all people, and no one should be treated differently because of what they look like or where they come from. Racial discrimination should come to an end all over the world.