I really enjoyed watching this New Hampshire video, which was filmed at a curriculum and instruction meeting of the Manchester school board.
Citizens were allowed to speak for three minutes apiece.
Testifiers included several high school students, as well as parents and other citizens before the local school board.
At 22:35 a graduating high school senior speaks about how “we forget about the high achieving students” in the misguided effort to comply to government policies and financial carrots and not allowing enough AP and honors classes. He says, “Time and time again we look at the middle, we do look at the bottom… that also affects the higher achieving students.” He is so right.
Most eloquent and impressively source-based is the seven minute testimony of Anne Marie Banfield. (ending at minute 20:00 and picking up again at 26:25 – 30 when another testifier gave her three minutes to Anne Marie.)
At minute 31:10 a woman spoke (directly to the high school students who were in attendance as testifiers ) saying that in the past a principle might have said to a child who was getting detention, “that’s going to go on your permanent record” as a threat, but now because of the SLDS systems, absolutely everything that a student does, good or bad, is going to be used as part of everyone’s permanent record. “It’s none of their business!” she said.
Then the listeners gave their loudest applause.
The fact that these testimonies were given at a local, not state, school board meeting is evidence to me that it’s individual localities that make a difference, not top-down, far-flung policies from D.C. groups with official sounding names like CCSSO and NGA.
It’s the individual voice that matters.
We the People are individuals, not a coagulated, collective mind as defined by the self-proclaimed know-it-bests: Duncan, Barber or Gates.
Local school boards can make a difference.
Here are the words of a wise member of another local UT school board member, who will remain anonymous here:
“One of the main reasons, in my opinion, Common Core and all of its predecessors have had any traction at all is because we, as a society, have mostly given up on the idea of local control of education. We’ve bought into having “experts” tell us what and how our children will be taught. I’m not opposed to experts, but parents need to be the biggest experts. Local control is exactly what will fix this problem. However, most people don’t know what local control would look like. We drop our kids off at the door, volunteer for PTA, and sometimes go into the classroom. Some fellow school board members in another district were actually in shock when I mentioned that one of the problems with Common Core was that parents were left out of the process.
“Do you really think parents should be involved with standards and curriculum?”
“Yes, I really do.”
Back to the point. In our city, a few years back, we put together a rotating group of people to attend city council meetings and report back. It wasn’t much, but it made a huge difference. It only took a commitment of attending 2 meetings/year. And, of course, the more people you can get to attend, you can either have a greater impact or reduce the number of meetings each person needs to attend.
If you had 20 or 30 people in each school district, depending on the number of meetings they hold, you could certainly set something up like that.
The beauty of it is 1) the content of the meetings will change when “outside people” are present. I can personally attest to this. If the press isn’t there and if “regular people” aren’t there, it has a different feel. 2) there is an organized group of people to show up for any and all public hearings (like budgets) or if there is an issue of concern. You don’t need to worry about how to get in touch with people, you just email the group and they show up. 3) You end up with a “head’s up” on all new issues. In our district, there is public comment allowed in every board meeting. And having members of the public voice comments and concerns actually has a greater impact than just the individual board members. If you are a board member in the minority, then your voice is often dismissed because of that minority status. Having people in the public show up to voice a similar concern give weight to the board member’s concerns. I tell people that the elected officials are just the tip of the spear. The people need to be behind that spear providing the force.
People keep asking, “What do we use in place of Common Core if we are successful?” The actual answer is: Local Control.
If we don’t backfill with more involved, and locally concerned parents and taxpayers, then there will be another creation, just like Common Core or maybe worse, that will take it’s place. Power abhors a vacuum. So, we need to step up and get back to the system that used to work, once upon a time.
And even if your local district isn’t going in the right direction, it’s a lot easier to replace the local school board than the CCSSO.
My two cents.”
-from a school board member of a local school board in Utah.
Thank you to the school board member who shared those “two cents.”
I completely agree.