At the Provo mall theater Tuesday night, people were being turned away because every seat was purchased for the Glenn Beck “We Will Not Conform” event. The theater was overflowing with parents, teachers and grandparents wanting to know how to reclaim locally controlled education and a feeling of empowerment. I don’t know about the other 700 or so movie theaters, but at this one in Provo, people were energized. After the event, audience members had to be asked to leave because many stayed to talk long after the event. Those post-event conversations moved me more than anything I saw on the screen, even though the event itself was excellent. I’ll explain further along, down this post.
The filming took place in Dallas live, and included a powerful group of panelists. Audience members nationwide participated via twitter, taking surveys and being asked to answer questions. On July 29th, there will be a rebroadcast of the event. If you didn’t attend last Tuesday, or can’t attend on the 29th, here are a few highlights:
- Michelle Malkin – Malkin, that vibrant firecracker of an analyst, called Common Core “educational malpractice” and said that no one has a right to experiment upon, and track, our children as if they were guinea pigs. Malkin said that parents need the intellectual ammunition to fight the regurgitated talking points of the pro-Common Core groups. She said that parents should verify and re-verify the claims and assumptions being spoken by the pro-Common Core side.
- Kathleen Jasper – Jasper, a former teacher and vice principal, said that there is a giant machine of common core and high-stakes testing that can only be stopped by cutting off the fuel supply, which is the testing; she said parents and teachers must stand up and boycott the common core aligned assessments. She said parents need to know that media centers and computer centers in schools are being shut down to accomodate the high-stakes tests; all the money that classrooms need is being redirected to pay for the testing machine.
- Emmett McGroarty- McGroarty, of American Principles Project, said that Common Core’s highly defined standards/curriculum/testing program ushers in an unconstitutional system that parents can stop. He said that legislators must be held accountable by voters; if they’re not fighting it, they are going along with it. Tolerance of common core is a litmus test for legislators.
- Jenni White – White, a mom who was instrumental in getting Common Core repealed from Oklahoma, said that one of their greatest challenges was the Chamber of Commerce, since it was paid by Bill Gates to push Common Core. She said that persistence (and matching, eye-popping T-shirts) were key.
- Glenn Beck – Beck said that the kinds of teachers who can make the complex simple and the mundane exciting are worth their weight in gold, but these teachers are being systematically wiped out because of the enforcement of Common Core by the tests that make everyone and everything conform.
- David Barton – Barton, a historian, make the point that some people think Common Core is “not that bad,” but it is like a tiger cub, cute and manageable at first, but given time, will destroy.
- Terrence Moore – Moore, a professor and principal, said that because Common Core uses public money, the public has the right to ask, “what is education?” and not have it re-defined for us. He said, “We have to get those stories back,” referring to the classic literature and the great American stories that Common Core marginalizes due to an emphasis on informational text and progressive ideology.
- Heather Crossin – Crossin, an Indiana mom, made the point that we have the truth on our side; once people begin to look at Common Core they realize that the talking points aren’t true.
- Brian Glicklich – Glicklich, a marketing specialist, said that when we work to repeal the Common Core agenda, we have to remember that rarely can we be both angry and effective; we should make our best points, but don’t try to make all of our points at once.
When the event ended, some friends and I passed out fliers inviting people to attend the Utah State School Board meeting on August 8th, and to take the time to make public comment there (two minutes per person are allowed.) At that event, the state board will vote on whether or not to cowtow to the federal government by renewing the ESEA/NCLB waiver, which Utah received in exchange for the agreement to do Common Core (as option a; we also could have chosen option b, which was to create local standards using higher ed as a sounding board). After the event, I listened with mouth agape as to two teachers spoke about their distress about Common Core in the theater lobby. One said that her first graders are being truly cheated and manipulated by the new Common Core math. She said that when she attempted to speak out in staff meetings, she had her job threatened by her administrator. She got scared. She feels that teachers being forced to “collaborate” by PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) — having to sign off, promising to not veer from the common core as defined by the PLC, feels extremely restrictive. She said that healthy debate does not exist; it’s not allowed to exist in the professional educator community. She said that if teachers don’t agree, they have to be silent or they are labeled “not a team player” or “insubordinate.” The teacher also told me that she received a letter from her district, informing her that although parents have the right to opt students out of the tests, teachers do not have the right to inform parents of that right. The letter said that teachers must administer the tests, and any teacher found telling students or parents that they have the legal right to not take these tests, would be in trouble. I spoke with a mother of twelve who has been learning about and fighting against Common Core for three years. She said that many of her neighbors and friends who work in the school system have told her that they feel their hands are tied, and that they cannot do anything about Common Core even though they see its damages. She opts all children out of the tests. In Utah, at least, we are fortunate because we have the law on our side; schools are not allowed to penalize a student’s grade if that student refuses to take the test. Opt out!