Archive for the ‘parents know best’ Tag

Opt Out Form And Miracles   5 comments

Utahns Against Common Core posted an opt-out form today that anyone may use to inform a school district that a child will not be participating in the Common Core testing and data collection program. Find it here.

In addition, Utahns Against Common Core posted a video clip from a new movie featuring the President of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It is called “Miracles.”

The video was posted with the opt out form because it will be a long-sought for miracle when parents take the reins of their children’s educational lives and say “no” to Common Core’s totally experimental testing and data collection program.

It will be a miracle when state boards of education and legislatures realize that “We the People” have actually woken up and stood up to their top down control efforts; that we will not allow the invasion of our children’s privacy– not by state nor by federal forces; and that we will not allow the invasion of our state’s sovereignty over education. They will hear that we will have a voice in what goes on in our children’s testing.

It will be a miracle to see parents take a stand in their rightful place as primary protectors of local control, a right that we hold under Constitution.

Why is it so important? Because testing Common Core’s standards is the key to the whole Common Core agenda. That’s where the control lies. The tests sets the pace for Common Core’s monopoly on text types to be bought, on stifling innovation in any other direction, on aligning private curricula nationally, on controlling teachers’ use of instructional time, and on tracking children and teachers.

Parents hold the key to that key. Teachers or principals can’t do it; they’ll lose their jobs.

But parents saying no to the Common Core tests can become the force that ends the unconstitutional losses of Common Core’s centralized decision-making and data-collection in D.C.’s agencies and organizations.

Remember that no matter how many times the state school board says “adopting Common Core as Utah’s own “Utah Core” standards was the board’s constitutional right under the Utah constitution” –still, the effect of that decision– robbing our state of local control of education– was wrong under the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law which have long made educational decision making a state’s right.

Remember the words of James Madison:

“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads, other than post roads. In short, everything,from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called if Congress pleased provisions for the general welfare … I venture to declare it as my opinion, that were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundation, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America…” – James Madison

In short, Madison said: if we allow the centralization of education we subvert the very foundation of what has made us free.

While my own school has promised that there will be no academic punishment for my public school attending child who opts out of the Common Core test, I have received emails from parents in other areas of Utah where the opposite was said. These parents were told that their child would receive a non-proficient score and would be academically penalized for opting out of the test.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether fear of getting an undeserved failing grade outweighs our desire to preserve local control of education, a constitutional right. That is a personal decision.

I opt out.

Alyson Williams at Utah State Capitol: “The Fistful of Flowers They’ve Shoved in My Face”   5 comments

Utah parent Alyson Williams gave permission to share the following speech which she gave at last week’s Common Core informational meeting at the Utah State Capitol. Dozens of legislators as well as parents, teachers, students and school board members heard this speech.

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I was reading recently about George Washington as a child. I’d heard the story of the cherry tree and his father, but there was another story with his mother that was new to me.

His mother had a prized peony bush. One day, with the sweetest of intentions, George picked some of the flowers and presented them to his mother. He was surprised when she was angry. Young Washington learned that actions taken with good intentions still have consequences.
I think there are those who brought Common Core to Utah with good intentions. But they seem to not understand that in making decisions that affect my children, they are in my garden, messing with my flowers.

In response to the complaints of Utah parents about the way Common Core came into our State, Board Member Dave Thomas wrote last week that we are “late to the party.”

I think that is like a policeman telling someone who’s house has been robbed that it’s their own fault because they weren’t home at the time of the theft.

The truth is I was home – but while I was watching the front door, the thieves snuck in the back door… and the the policeman is the one who gave them the key.

The Utah constitution gives authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to the National Governors Association who outsourced it to another group of so called experts. No meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.

And now they’re surprised that I’m not pleased with the fistful of flowers they’ve shoved in my face. They only want to talk about how pretty the standards are.

When George Washington’s father learned about the flowers, he took the opportunity to help his son reflect on how his desire to be helpful didn’t change the fact that he’d done something he had no right to do.

There is no such thing in the Constitution as a council of governors or chief state school officers. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. If every state, or even most states have the same standards, we have de facto national standards. Those who brought Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did. It’s a role they assigned themselves, and they did it in a way that circumvented constitutional representative processes.

So why am I talking to you, members of the legislature? I don’t want the legislature to act as a school board, or to set standards, but when the State executive branch or State school board act outside of their enumerated powers or try to delegate those powers to others who have no obligation to Utah voters, I think they should be held accountable. Isn’t that what the checks and balances of our Constitutional Republic are all about?

For me this is not only about my children’s education it’s about preserving the kind of constitutional government I hope they will inherit when they have children of their own.

According to our laws the role of the state is supposed to be secondary to that of parents, but as I’ve sought answers to my concerns in various meetings I’ve been dismissed, told I’m not an expert, been given Utah history lessons, and told that it’s a complicated issue in terms of the law. For me it is really simple: “These are my kids, it’s my garden! If you want to even get near my flowers you’d better come to the front door and ask!”

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What a powerful, important speech. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

Video: Citizens of New Hampshire Speak Out Against Common Core   3 comments

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.

http://manchestercommunitytv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=ded36c2e6dc5d55415f5b053f1880a83

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 educationWe’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.

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Thank you to the school board member who shared those “two cents.” 

I completely agree.

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