At the #AboutTheChild conference in Houston last week, B&L Network speakers said that even in the middle of a struggle we might seem to be losing, we have great power and great hope.
Although America is seeing dangerous shifts in who can and who cannot amend tests, in who controls (and does not protect) children’s data; in who gets to redefine even babies’ “educations” as a collective-economy-purposed thing; while we see corporate and federal “central planners” ram initiatives without a vote to assume “stakeholder” rights over our little ones– even in this awful situation, we can defend children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy education; that is, time-tested, soul-enlarging, non-Common Core education.
I cannot do the conference justice briefly, yet I want to try. A few moments that stood out came from these speeches:
1 Troy Towns, an Alabama minister and political activist, spoke about the numbers of people who should be actively involved in the fight against Common Core and other false reforms. He retold the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. Not only did it not bother the Lord that Gideon was vastly outnumbered; the Lord told Gideon to reduce his numbers, by sending away all warriors who were fearful. Then the Lord instructed Gideon further, to send away all those who were not alert to the enemy while drinking at the stream. Reduced to 300 people, surrounded by countless armies, the Lord then led Gideon’s group to victory… It’s not about numbers. It’s not about who appears to be winning in the moment. It is about who is on the side of true and honorable principles.
2. Daisy Whisenant, Texas advisor in the Christian Educators Association International, a Christian teacher’s union, implored listeners to let teachers and students know the truth about “separation between Church and State”. That idea is designed to prevent governments from promoting one religion above another, while upholding all religions’ freedom of speech. It is not designed to shut down religious discussions. A teacher is a government employee, but a child is not. Nongovernmental citizens (students of all ages) may speak and write freely about their religious beliefs. For more information, visit CEAI.
3. Jason Hoyt, Florida radio personality and author, discussed what “Consent of the Governed” means. The concept is also the title of his book. (Click here to find the book Consent of the Governed. ) I read it on my trip home. It teaches the history of local, state, and federal grand juries, and outlines the disintegration of that constitutional authority, which serves –or should serve– as a fourth branch and a check on the other three branches. The book shows that if “We the People” reclaim proper controls of our grand juries, we can reclaim vital, lost political power –more effectively than if we rely only on elections as the means to enforce fair government.
4. Angelique Clark, a Las Vegas high school student, spoke about the stand she took and the fight that ensued as she founded a pro-life group for teen activists. When her application for a high school pro-life club was denied, Angelique fought for her First Amendment rights inside a school, with a lawsuit to the school district that finally allowed her to form the pro-life club. She won. Her story has been seen on Fox & Friends, On the Record with Greta, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, and elsewhere.
5. Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, author and researcher, a leader of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and of Education Liberty Watch, spoke about the amount of data being collected on every public school student in the nation without parental knowledge or consent; about the psychological and belief data-gathering goals outlined in the US Department of Education’s “Developing Grit, Tenacity and Persistance” Report; about the unfortunate, newly passed, Every Student Succeeds Act; and about the monster on the horizon, the “Strengthening Education Through Research Act“. Her presentation should be seen by every member of the U.S. Congress.
6. Dr. Peg Luksik, a former reform evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, a lifelong teacher, speaker, and honoree by multiple U.S. Presidents, spoke about the idea of common standards. She asked the audience if there was such a thing as good standards, and answered her question: no. There is no such thing as a good set of standards because every child is so different. She has a child who is a math genius, who cannot do ballet. She has a daughter who is a ballet genius, who cannot do math. She asked: where would the proper, common standard be for those two children? The idea of top-down decision making for teachers and students is ridiculous. She said that years ago, “Outcome Based Education” was pushed on the nation, and was defeated by a handful of level-headed patriots. Common Core and its related initiatives are the same thing, repackaged. Those who would be central planners of all children’s lives must be defeated again.
7. Dr. Duke Pesta, an energetic literature professor and administrator at Freedom Project Academy, spoke about the devious history of the Common Core Initiative, up to its promoters’ most recent coup against liberty, the Every Student Succeeds Act. He emphasized the words of Arne Duncan about the Every Student Succeeds Act, and pointed out that even trusted Republican leadership betrayed liberty with ESSA. We must be smarter and faster in overturning the deceptions of this fight. (FYI, Utahns: rumor has it that Dr. Pesta will be speaking in Utah this April.)
8. Neil Mammen, a minister and activist at NoBlindFaith.com (author of 40 Days to a More Godly Nation and Jesus Is Involved in Politics: Why Aren’t You?) echoed the message given by Troy Towns (about Gideon and the numbers-of-warriors issue, above) as he spoke about the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. In the scene, when Westmoreland laments not having ten thousand more men to help them fight, the king responds:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (Read the whole speech.)
9. Joan Landes, a Utah therapist, crystallized the issue when she said that the problem with government initiatives like Common Core and its web of tests and controls is that it hurts human relationships. Her presentation about reversing Saul Alinsky’s evil tactics, and her idea of asking every concerned citizen to spend five minutes or five dollars as often as they can, were truly remarkable.
I spoke, too. The heart of my speech, “Reclaiming Parental Power” came from a realization I had a few nights before the conference, as I thought about the awful situation that is U.S. Education Reform today. As I wondered how we can keep going in the face of losing, losing, and losing (Common Core is still here; Common Education Standards and Longitudinal Databases are still here; the ESSA federal law makes things so much less free; and SETRA may soon make them even worse) –I had a clear thought: HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRADE PLACES WITH A MOM IN CHINA– or a mom in any socialist/communist nation, for that matter? You would have no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to publish, freedom to work to repeal bad laws. You hardly have freedom to think, in China. A lover of freedom living in China, loving her children, would give her arms or legs to have the opportunity to face the problems that we face. Arms and legs.
The glass will always be half full– never half empty– as long as there is a person left in America who remembers the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.
Freedom is always worth the fight.
Children will always be the reason.
This blog post is a partial, inadequate sampling that has not included many additional, wonderful speakers at the conference. Every speaker (see biographies and speaker list here) –was moving.
If you missed the conference and the livestream, you can still watch it as part of a package deal with B&L* Network by purchasing a B&L year membership here. I’m advertising it because:
The conference speakers were an inspiration, and their words need to be heard far and wide, as do the messages from United States Parents In Education (USPIE) which held a press conference as part of this conference, rolling out a campaign to #StopFedEd. Also, importantly, consider this: the conference organizer was Alabama homemaker and radio show host Diana Crews, who, with her sweet husband, a professional trucker, went into debt to make this conference happen. If nobody watches, she stays in debt. This was her sacrifice because she believes in making this issue About The Child. It’s not about the “global economy” or the “school to workforce pipeline” or about “human capital”. It is about the child.
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* (If you want to know what B & L stands for– and I asked, and was so glad I did– it’s Bears and Lord; as in, Mama & Papa Bears and their Lord).