A Back To School Check-List

U.S. Parents Involved in Education had a back-to-school checklist that is comprehensive. In a nutshell: parents take time to KNOW what is going on at your student’s school and in their classrooms. Be persistent in getting this information. Don’t take no for an answer. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Here are their tips:

  • Check if your state is using the original Common Core Standards or a rebranded version.
  • Find out if your state assessments are under PARCC, SBAC, Pearson, and/or AIR Helpful article: https://edexcellence.net/articles/the-state-of-state-assessments
  • Ask to see all lesson plans outlined on a syllabus. Find out everything that they read in class, including digital books. This is your supreme court-protected right and you can opt them out of any material you feel is inappropriate. Things to look for include materials that favor international and globalism over American sovereignty, revisionist history, social justice issues as early as kindergarten, religious bias like Access Islam, sexually charged materials, and sustainable development.
  • Learn about the truth regarding Social and Emotional Learning.
  • Instruct your child to decline any and all surveys given in class. Refuse all behavioral and psychological profiles. Put this in writing. This is protected under the Hatch Amendment.
  • Read the fine print on everything before you sign it. Do not disclose any information that you do not want shared. Protect your child’s data from unnecessary collection.
  • Volunteer to see what is happening in the classroom and on the playground. Go observe for yourself and know what curriculum is being used. Also determine what is happening at your school regarding bullying.
  • Go to www.fairtest.org and find out which colleges no longer require the SAT/ACT.

Update: A reader, Audrey Buffington, sent the following tip which is great so I wanted to add it: “See if the teacher will return tests and quizzes to the student to be brought home so that you can see them.”

I know some teachers are concerned about having tests and quizzes floating around that students can pass around to cheat, but the way around that is to develop multiple tests that you rotate through every year. I hand back tests to the students in my government class that I teach (and give them the opportunity to correct the test for extra credit). Handing back tests and quizzes is a no-brainer for me, but that probably is not the case in every classroom. 

Pushing Parents Around

With Michelle Moore as co-contributor. 

It’s all too clear that there are some schools that think they must save your children … from you.

Yes. You.

Doctrinaire teachers, administrators, and boards of education have become presumptuous and smug.  And their contempt for parents is grounded in their surety that …  in all matters, not just academics. … parents fall short. Way short.

And the new, modern mission of public education … and those extra-enlightened educators …  is to provide the right wisdoms and morals and ideals for the children who arrive lacking.

Lacking because you’re lacking. Because you’re parental dummies.

So they have no qualms … no reluctance whatsoever … remodeling your child’s quaint moralities and passé decencies so that they can be fine-tuned for the new tomorrow that’s already assaulting us today.  A tomorrow that doesn’t feature parents like you.

Some school leaders bully parents outright. 

They argue that lots of parents are socially antiquated … and that it’s necessary to bypass them altogether. That it’s best if culturally-savvy teachers and cutting-edge school leaders simply impose the new realities on the school community because involving parents would only turn the transformation into a slog.

So they lay down new guidelines, issue new edicts, and institute new commandments. Then they sermonize and preachify. And too often, parents are the last to know that there’s a more vivid sex ed program … or a new co-ed bathroom policy … or a reconsidered approach to the Pledge or the National Anthem. Or that this holiday has been renovated or that tradition abandoned because they don’t meet the new expectations of some noisy fussers.

They learn head-shaking stuff through a newsletter … or the grapevine … usually after-the fact.  Perhaps it’s a menu redesign by the school’s vegan vigilantes. Or that some age-old playground favorites are suddenly too-too touchy. And touchy is bad stuff. Even in a game of tag. For first graders.

Other school leaders … in more toney communities … actually nanny parents.

Coax them. Induce them to embrace itchy changes that, at the same time, make them uneasy.

Teachers and school leaders appeal to a certain sophistication that is, in truth, a sloppy tactic to usher in disturbing changes under the flimsy guise of global awareness. Whatever that is.

It’s lookism at its worst.  The whispered warning that to oppose this or that might make the community appear less metropolitan or less secular. And that would reflect very badly.

So parents are smoothly duped with fraudy bullspit.  Principals and superintendents insist that  “progressive”schools must embrace the most startling changes of even the smallest minorities.  That to do otherwise would exhibit an embarrassing parochialism in a world gone cosmopolitan.

And that’s all followed by the cheesy urgency that it’s imperative for parents to sign on with the new educationalists lest their own children become global stragglers.

In other words, they’d look cornfed. Like social bumpkins. Or hicks. So parents nod each other … and go along with the new weirdnesses. Or just go silent.  

Either choice is a form of surrender.

Then they’re shocked when their own children become enthusiastic evangelicals of principles and ethics at odds with the family culture. Stunned to learn … even with all of the curriculum rewrites … and millions spent …  that their children lag behind in every measure of educational growth.

But then they reason away their convictions … and their shock … by convincing themselves that they cannot ignore the new realities even if they’re personally disturbed by it all because …  after all …  schools of excellence must be at their inclusive and multicultural best, right?

And dopey parents then nod each other because who can argue with that sort of brain soot.

And, no, these are not imaginings.

This great upheaval is not confined to our schools. It’s transformed our politics, crept into our religions, and even oozed into our sports and entertainment.

But there’s no doubt about it … classrooms are the new societal petri dishes that will grow the future of this nation because  … what we see in the classrooms of today, will take root in the America of tomorrow.

So we’d better be careful of what seeds are sown there. And who does the sowing.

That should be easy enough for hayseeds like us, right?

Cross-post.

Four Ways to Fight for Your Kids’ Education in 2018

This week J.R. Wilson made some pretty bleak predictions for 2018 here at Truth in American Education. On Wednesday, my friend Jenni White, in an article in The Federalist expressed her disillusionment with the fight against Common Core in Oklahoma who “repealed” Common Core but still has its tentacles dug in.

We’ve earned the right to be cynical. It’s understandable to be disappointed. I am on both counts. We face what is, by all appearances, an unstoppable juggernaut.

Where do we go from here?

We did not get to where we are at overnight, and change will not happen overnight either.

Here are four ways to continue to fight in 2018.

1. Take control where you can and however you can.

If you are a parent of a school-aged child affirm that you, not the school district, state, and certainly not the U.S. Department of Education, control the education of your student.

For a growing number of parents nationwide they have done the ultimate form of opting out by pulling their kids out of the public school system to homeschool. As a homeschooling parent myself, I have joked that the only positive result from Common Core was to increase the ranks of homeschoolers.

I understand that not everyone is in a position to do that. Some may have the ability to send their student to a private school that embraces classical education.

Some may not have the means or a school to send their child to.

You are still in control. Continue to resist standardized assessments. Let your school district know that you do not consent and will not consent to data collection of your child. Know your child’s teachers on a first name basis, make sure you know what is being taught in their classroom.

Seek out tutoring for your child if needed. Supplement what is lacking in your child’s education at home.

This will take commitment and sacrifice.

If you no longer have kids in school, how can you be a resource to those who still do? Can you help tutor? Can you provide financial support? Perhaps you can help organize a parental education co-op.

What can you do? We can’t just fight this takeover in education in the policy arena.

Also, stay informed and take time to inform your friends, family, and neighbors with accurate information.

2. Local… Local… Local…

Jenni mentioned how she’s focusing on local efforts in her piece at The Federalist.

If I learned anything from Common Core, I learned that local is the answer to nearly every government problem, and I turned my attention to my tiny Oklahoma town of 2,700 where, in April, I became mayor.

You may not be able to repeal Common Core in your state, but can you put pressure on the school board about the curriculum they use or how much testing they do beyond what the state requires? Can you push classical literature, traditional math to be taught in the classroom? Is your school district giving up control where they don’t have to? What is the bare minimum they can do and still be in compliance with state law?

3. Be the change you seek.

It’s easy to complain about wishy-washy elected officials and candidates. Maybe it is time for you to run for your local school board or for your state’s legislature.

If you can’t run yourself can you recruit candidates to run? A friend, family member, or neighbor whom you trust is the next best thing to running yourself.

4. Stay in the fight, but don’t forget low-hanging fruit.

Find the low-hanging fruit and start there.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We will not be able to bring down a corrupt system in one fell swoop.

I believe it is important that we stay in the fight even if we don’t succeed because as parents and taxpayers we must speak truth to power. Success begets success, however. This is true whether we are talking about legislation or elections. We may not be able to replace every elected official who has disappointed us on this issue, but who is vulnerable and can be targeted to send a message? What are some common-sense bills that you can rally bipartisan support behind? Local efforts have a greater probability of success than do efforts at the state level. State level efforts have a greater probability of success than federal initiatives.

Parents Can Challenge Textbooks in Florida

There has been an interesting development in Florida that gives parents an ability to challenge textbooks and instructional materials that they find objectionable.

NPR reports:

Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as “getting the school boards to recognize … the garbage that’s in our textbooks.”

Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards.

More recently, the group has turned its attention to the books being used in Florida’s schools. A new state law, developed and pushed through by Flaugh’s group, allows parents, and any residents, to challenge the use of textbooks and instructional materials they find objectionable via an independent hearing.

Flaugh finds many objections with the books used by Florida students. Two years ago, members of the alliance did what he calls a “deep dive” into 60 textbooks.

“We found them to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography,” he says.

Read the rest.

With Common Core legislation stalling out in many states and/or states simply rebranding the standards this bill may provide us another tool in the toolbox. It sounds good in theory, but we’ll have to see what difference it makes in practice.

(Video) New Local Control: Excluding Parents From Education

This video is the fourth in a series launched by FreedomProject Media. They record a roundtable with two activists that I’m certain most of our readers are familiar: Lynne Taylor from North Carolina and Kirsten Lombard from Wisconsin.  Mary Black is the moderator. In the first video, they talk about a shift in the education model to a workforce development model. In the second video, they discuss student data mining. In the third video, they discuss school choice.

Below is the description they give on YouTube:

Local control is another term that sounds like one thing but means something else entirely to those driving education policy today. The panelists expose the current but hidden meaning of local control and discuss how this deceptive word game works hand-in-hand with the codifying power of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to marginalize local school boards and the parents of all students, including private- and homeschoolers.

It has been frustrating to me to see how local control has been given a lot of lip service among educrats and education reformers. They talk local control while eroding it at the same time.

Watch the video below:

Education Voter Guide in Wisconsin 1st Congressional District Primary

nehlen-ryan-624x267

Hey Wisconsin friends I just wanted to post a quick update tonight (normally don’t post on Saturday night, but this is rather timely). Stop Common Core in Wisconsin just released a voter guide comparing Speaker Paul Ryan and his challenger in the Republican Primary on Tuesday – Paul Nehlen.

Ryan doesn’t have education listed on his campaign website. He does have an education page on his congressional website. Nehlen has a comprehensive position statement on his campaign website.

The voter guide looks at government transparency, federal control of education, cementing Common Core, reducing education to workforce training, out-of-control assessment, data privacy and parental autonomy.

Be sure to check the voter guide out.

Hillary Clinton’s Vision for Early Childhood Education

Hillary Clinton at the DNC Women's Leadership Forum in 2014. Photo credit: Karen Murphy

Hillary Clinton at the DNC Women’s Leadership Forum in 2014
Photo credit: Karen Murphy (CC-By-ND 2.0)

We know that Hillary Clinton likes national standards. She has picked a running mate who tried to bring Common Core into his state. She plans to expand the federal reach into preschool, and even the home.

From her own policy page on early childhood education she states she wants to make preschool access universal for every 4-year-old in America.

Make preschool universal for every 4-year-old in America. Despite research showing its benefits, only about half of the roughly 8.1 million 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States are enrolled in preschool, with only one in four enrolled in publicly funded preschool. Hillary believes that every child deserves the same strong start. That’s why she will work to ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years.

Right now this is just talking about access and funding, but with the unnatural and developmentally inappropriate “rigor” for kindergarteners I’ve been concerned about this push for universal preschool. When will states start making this compulsory? Especially when there is federal money at stake. They are not going to fund empty preschools.

Plus, this diminishes private preschools, especially church-based preschools that may not be able to compete.

She also wants to incentivize parents, especially mothers, to put their kids in day care.

Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care. The cost of child care has increased by nearly 25 percent during the past decade, while the wages of working families have stagnated. While families across America are stretched by skyrocketing costs, child care has become more important than ever before—both as a critical work support for the changing structure of American families and as an essential component of a child’s early development. These high costs severely squeeze working families, prevent too many children from getting a healthy start, and act as a disincentive for parents to stay in the workforce. Hillary will fight for every family in America to have access to high quality, affordable child care by significantly increasing the federal government’s investment in child care subsidies and providing tax relief for the cost of child care to working families.

Child care isn’t something that we typically write about here at TAE, but there is a theme present here. A push to further remove children from their parents at earlier and earlier ages. I’m not saying there is not a need for day care, and that many families have to have two incomes. What I’m concerned about is that staying at home, especially when children are young, is almost seen as a bad thing.

And of course government is going to fix all of this.

Then she wants to double down on a failed program.

Double our investment in Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program. Early Head Start provides comprehensive services to our youngest learners and their families—including health, nutrition, and pre-literacy support with a strong focus on children’s social and emotional development. The Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program brings Early Head Start’s evidence-based curriculum into the child care setting to provide comprehensive, full-day, high-quality services to low-income families. To ensure our children have a strong foundation to learn, Hillary will double the number of children served by Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program.

Head Start is a well documented failure. Even the federal government admits it, so it takes some incredible stupidity to think that doubling your investment is a good idea. Wow.

This brings me to what disturbs me the most with her early childhood education plan.

Expand access to evidence-based home visiting programs. There is increasing scientific evidence that brain development in the earliest years of childhood is crucial to economic success. That’s why Hillary will double our investment in home visiting programs such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. These programs—which provide home visits by a social worker or nurse during and directly after pregnancy—significantly improve maternal and child health, development, and learning.

Funding social workers to come into homes. Look having worked with at-risk youth for 13 years and adolescents in general for 20 years I understand the value of having parental coaching. Being a home schooling parent however the thought of a federally-funded social worker come into my home gives me the willies. No thank you. Here again we have the federal government stepping into the role that was once filled by the church and extended families. They used to be the ones who would provide mentoring and assistance for young parents. That has been lost, and programs like what Hillary Clinton suggests exasperates that loss.

Ultimately the question that needs to be asked of Hillary Clinton’s proposals is what is the constitutional mandate for this?

I wouldn’t wait long for an answer since there isn’t one.

Bobby Jindal Talks Common Core in Iowa

Branstad and Jindal

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (on left) talks with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal after he gave his speech at the Republican Party of Iowa Convention.
Photo credit: Shane Vander Hart/Caffeinated Thoughts

I was given the opportunity to interview Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) after he spoke to the Republican Party of Iowa State Convention (whose delegates passed an anti-Common Core plank) on Saturday.

The entire interview can be found at Caffeinated Thoughts.  Here is an excerpt detailing that part of the interview:

Jindal last week vetoed a bill that he noted opponents said would enshrine Louisiana’s participation in Common Core and PARCC.  The bill just added another year to a delay of rules approved by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved in 2012 regarding the implementation of the Common Core.

Jindal who touted his education reforms in Louisiana during his remarks has recently come out in opposition to the Common Core State Standards.  After affirming that he is in favor of high standards he said, “What I am against and what troubles me about Common Core and the reason I not only want to get Louisiana out of Common Core, but out of PARCC, out of the whole thing… We don’t need a federal takeover of education.  The reality is that the federal government never really had, and shouldn’t have, that role in education.”

“In Louisiana we have no state approval of curriculum, we have no state approval of textbooks, as I said to the convention, I believe in trusting parents.  I want the dollars to follow the child.  I want parents to decide what is the best learning environment for their student, their child.  Maybe it is a parochial school, maybe it is a Christian school, maybe it is a traditional public school, a charter school, online program, maybe it is a homeschool.  We don’t need a one-size fits all approach, every child learns differently.  My concern with Common Core is that not only is it a federal intrusion but you know for certain that once the federal government sets the standards then the curricula, the textbooks, everything is to be shaped around that,” Jindal added.

Jindal said that he’s also nervous about a federal involvement in education based upon his recent experience with Attorney General Eric Holder suing Louisiana in order to stop their scholarship program.  “We have seen the overreach of the federal government.  We have seen this federal government get involved.  At the end of the day it really comes down to trusting parents, trusting locals, we don’t need the federal government making this decision,” Jindal told Caffeinated Thoughts.

He reasserted that as Governor he believes he has the authority and power to get Louisiana out of Common Core, and that he was going to use his power to do that.  He also rejected the U.S. Department of Education’s threat of federal money and ESEA waivers as a paper tiger.  He said they put up false constructs.  He noted they insinuate that if you are not for Common Core, you are against rigor and quality standards, which he said is not the case.

Caffeinated Thoughts asked his opinion of the standards outside of their federal involvement, for instance its ability to help prepare students for STEM fields.  “I would invite any parent that has questions about Common Core, ask you kids to bring home their math.  Ask them to bring home their Common Core math homework and help them do just a couple of sheets.  Look my kids are in elementary school… pick a grade level, work through this math.  Forget the theory, forget the philosophy, forget the debate just work through these math sheets and then let’s talk about is this really the best way to teach our kids.  I think this is inevitable when you have a one-size fits all approach,” Jindal answered.  “I have nothing against a local school that decides on their own they want to do this curriculum that is fine by me.  I’m not saying they can’t do it.  What I am saying is choice and competition is the way we grow our economy.  What is ironic to me is that we believe in choice and competition in almost every aspect of our lives.  If the government were to come to us tomorrow and say we can only buy one kind of jeans we would rebel against that.”

He said that for some reason the left is ok with choice except in the arenas of healthcare and education.  They don’t think that citizens know best.  “This is a symptom of a much bigger problem,” Jindal said.

You can watch his remarks on Common Core here starting at the 1:30 mark and going to about 10:15.

Glenn Beck Outs the Common Core

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Glenn Beck today highlighted the Common Core on his show on The Blaze TV.  His guests were Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project, Sherena Arrington, a political consultant from Georgia, and two teachers from Utah, David Cox and Christel Swasey.

Beck in his opening remarks gave a wake-up call for those who may be apathetic about the Common Core.

 

Here is a segment where they discuss data collection, and that is something that every parent should be concerned about. The Common Core and data collection go hand in hand.

 

This segment highlights the fuzzy math that the Common Core promotes and how it is degrading our liberty through the process it was implemented

 

If you’d like to see the whole episode, and I encourage you to watch it, go sign-up for a two-week free trail and look for today’s show (3-14-13).

Education Has Come Into Sharp Focus in Presidential Race?

Opening two paragraphs of an op/ed at The Daily Caller by Robert Holland of The Heartland Institute says it all when looking at this presidential race through the lens of education policy:

Now that Mitt Romney has taken a stand for local and parental control of education and against federalized Common Core standards and tests, the issue of education has come into sharp focus in the presidential race.

The distinctions could become even clearer and education might even become a key issue, depending on how the Obama/Romney debates play out beginning Wednesday.

Key phrase – “depending on how the Obama/Romney debates play out.”  I wonder how much, if at all, education will be discussed tonight.  I’m on record not being a great fan of Romney’s education plan as it still exerts far too much federal control.  That said, his position still stands in stark contrast to President Obama’s position – especially in light of Governor Romney’s education remarks last week criticizing the Common Core.

Tonight will be interesting.