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.
To support B&L, click here.
* (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).
Moms Alyson Williams, Jenni White, Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey, of Utah and Oklahoma, chat in a Google Hangout about their concerns and experiences with government data mining children without parental consent.
At this year’s Agency Based Education (ABE) conference, one speaker, Jakell Sullivan, presented the following remarkable research. Please watch and share.
Oak Norton, founder of ABE, shared this insight in his introduction to Jakell’s video:
“In the Old Testament we read of a curious story where “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). David’s temptation caused him to look upon his people as human capital and as a result he brought a severe curse upon Israel. As a result, God took away a portion of David’s “capacity” to build or make war by offering him one of three curses. David chose the shortest curse, pestilence, which brought upon his kingdom a three day plague and killed 70,000 men.
Statewide longitudinal database systems and digital badging are the designated “numbering” systems used by the education system in America today. When Secretary Arne Duncan and others speak about human capital, they are literally engaging in an effort to control and direct the economic future of our nation. Instead of independent thinkers, we have “common” education standards nationwide, with national assessment, tracking, and a host of other programs to bring all children into a standardization to fit them to the economic desires of those in power.
In this presentation, JaKell Sullivan enlightens and exposes what is happening in the White House and departments of education across the nation and how they are dramatically overstepping their bounds. Please watch and share this presentation, and become a member of Agency Based Education today to help support our mission.”
(You might want to tweet it to @OrrinHatch or other D.C. senators who are about to vote about ESEA/ESSA. Ask them to vote no because the bill hurts Jakell’s cause, the cause of freedom and putting family and individuals first as it entrenches standardization, gives the feds veto power over anything a state wants to do, enriches ed corporations rather than children, accepts as normal the ongoing, unconstitutional federal encroachment into education, and cements the power of student-data mining.)
Michelle Malkin’s #STOPESEA video is available on her public Facebook page; click here to view. It was posted 18 hours ago and already has over 120,000 views. I hope each viewer called D.C. (202-224-3121) or tweeted to Congress @repjohnkline @SpeakerRyan or will do so now.
Michelle Malkin said in the video that even though many have not heard of the hashtag #STOPESEA, it is one of the most important issues on the table in Washington D.C. today.
She called out the media for not covering “bread and butter” education issues like this one and praised “firebreathing moms and dads” from across the political spectrum who “have been ever vigilant on all of the issues involving federal encroachment into education”.
She noted that “so much of this process is taking place behind closed doors out of view of the public with back door and back room negotiations and no sunlight and no input from the people who are most affected. That’s you and your kids and your grandkids.”
“You’ve got a vote coming up in just a couple of days on this massive piece of legislation which isn’t accessible to the public yet [wasn’t as of last night; link just added] that many of these politicians on Capitol Hill will, of course, never read, and will have two days for their staffs to digest before they cast votes on it. It is supposed to be released November 30 with the first vote on December 2nd….Same-o Same-o, business as usual in Washington, D.C., don’t you think?”
“What good is it to elect new GOP leaders who promise transparency and pay lip service –the same way that Barack Obama did– and then sabotage that very process? So much for Constitutional Conservatives.”
“Not only does the process stink, but as many of these vigilant parents have been warning about, it’s the actual policy itself that stinks, too.”
” One of the few heroes out there who’s been warming about this Senator Mike Lee from Utah, who during a floor speech on November 18th warned that voting for this ESEA/NCLB reauthorization will be tantamount to doubling down or tripling down on all of the awful Common Core concepts that have taken so long for so many so-called Constitutional Conservatives on Capitol Hill to finally acknowledge. It’s the expansion of the federal role in education and the meddling in the classroom; the cementing of grant money to all sorts of crony educational special interests; along with that of course is the continued federalization of curriculum, the cementing again of contracts and special arrangements between the federal government and a lot of tech companies in the business of leveraging the power and the money that they’re making on these boondoggles on everything from textbooks to testing to technology. And that data mining aspect, of course, is something that people across the political and ideological spectrum should be objecting to and warning other parents about, and opposing.”
“Of course, it’s hard to digest all that’s in these hundreds and hundreds of still unseen pages in just a matter of days. It’s an absolute disgrace. So Monday morning, tomorrow morning, I hope those of you who have been active in any manner in opposing Common Core will see the connection here…call your congress people: 202-224-3121. ”
She emphasizes that (see minute 8:47) for those in every type of schooling system, those in “public schools, private schools, private schools, charter schools, home schools, Christian schools, secular schools— there is no safe space from fed ed. That’s one of the most important messages I want to get across tonight.”
She adds, “There are all of these strategists in Washington, D.C., who are always puzzling and pulling their chins on, ‘how do they reach out to nontraditional consitituencies” and you have to watch out because when they start talking out loud you have to watch out… that they are about to pander, pander, pander, pander, pander and move to the left on everything… how do we reach out to nontraditional constituencies? What it really means is throwing all their conservative principles and conservative constituencies under the bus in some desperate attempt to cow-tow to nontraditional constituencies. What they should be doing is looking at issues where they can find agreement with people across the political spectrum, without compromising their principles … and yes, that includes Common Core and this massive expansion of the testing racket that has usurped so much of the already limited time that there is in the classroom? Guess what? It’s not just us right-wing, fire-breathing Mammas and Pappas who care about that.”
“…Issues include all of the money that is being poured into overtly political organizations that are using our kids as political and ideological and pedagogical guinea pigs. And I can’t tell you how many parents and educators who span the political spectrum who I’ve talked to over the years since I’ve started learning about this, who tell me, “I don’t agree with practically anything else you say, but you are right on this.”
“It’s finding those issues and actually listening to the people who are affected, that is going to have the most promise for Republicans who are looking to win over people who otherwise wouldn’t vote for them. Education is one of those issues.”
Thank you, Michelle Malkin!
Note to readers: today, the full ESEA bill was released. It’s well over 1,000 pages long. The Congressional vote is set for the day after tomorrow. MAKE SOME NOISE.
Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards posted the following incredibly important video of this week’s “Information Security Review” of the US Department of Education which was led by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz.
Please watch it.
Chaffetz opens the discussion (minutes 1-9) showing slides of the US Department of Education getting an “F” in protecting student data –with negative scores across every category. The students’ vulnerability, Rep Chaffetz says, is huge, not only students but for their parents, because of data collected, for example, in the National Student Loan Database which collects data that families fill out and submit together.
(He doesn’t mention this, but each state’s SLDS system gathers and feeds data from your child’s schoolwork to the state to the feds, too; for example, via the EdFacts Data Exchange.)
Next, Chaffetz says that the Dept. of Education is responsible for 4 billion dollars in improper payments (minute 8:30) which will be discussed in the next hearing in detail (not during this one).
After summarizing the mismanagement of funds and data, Chaffetz summarizes the gargantuan harms of the Department of Education: “It has become a monster, an absolute monster. We don’t know who’s in there; we don’t know what they’re doing.”
Then, the hearing begins.
Listen at minute 43 to minute 47. Those four minutes blew my mind. The US Dept. of Education’s representative, Dr. Harris, nervously skirts having to directly answer the question, at first, of how many databases it holds. It admits to three. The chairman says that it has at least 123, but if you count all of the data contractors, there are countless more. The only way that the Dept. of Education can say it only has three is by pretending that it is not responsible for, or does not subcontract out, the service, the questioner points out. And those high numbers of organizations collecting data for the US Dept. of Education mean a high probability that data will be compromised.
Meanwhile, most people believe that student data remains with the teacher and principal; those who do know that there’s a state/federal database believe that it’s a good thing; and they tell me that my opposition to permitting databases to stalk our kids is baseless, that the Utah State Office of Education does not release individual students’ information and that nonconsensual student data mining could never have a down side.