Silencing Anti-Common Core Activists Spreads Outside of Texas

Silencing Anti-Common Core Activists Spreads Outside of Texas

Breitbart Texas recently exposed attacks against Texas parents, every day concerned moms and dads who were questioning why Common Core books and worksheets were showing up in Texas classrooms. Why was this happening at all?  Texas said no to the Common Core. 

It’s a new and troubling trend in Texas that continues to spread across the rest of the country. Instead of getting answers, citizens wind up thrown out  of school board meetings or treated as targets of ridicule. High-profile Common Core opponent Dr. Sandra Stotsky told grassroots activists that the push to suppress debate against the Common Core is real.

The latest incidences of Common Core critics coming under attack have come out of Missouri, land of the tin foil hat stunt by Missouri Representative Michael Lair, Chair of the Appropriations Education Committee, who added $8 into the state’s K-12 budget. It got a lot of news coverage. It was also a deliberate swipe against lawmakers who opposed the Common Core standards. It may well have been an indirect slam at taxpayers and citizens who question the federal overreach into the classroom. 

Gretchen Logue, a prominent voice in the Stop Common Core movement told Breitbart Texas, “I am troubled by this trend.”  Logue is the co-editor of the Missouri Education Watchdog and the Missouri Coalition Against the Common Core. She said it has been disturbing to see high profile people like US Department of Education chief Arne Duncan attacking suburban moms and Representative Lair going after what he calls black helicopter people just to silence citizen voices. 

She said, “Common Core’s proponents criticize constituents for speaking up in local communities but they have never ever been willing to say, what information do we have wrong?”  Logue is concerned why asking questions is such a problem from Common Core proponents.

It’s a fair question to ask. When Breitbart Texas asked a Common Core supporter why it was a problem for a parent to ask questions about Common Core materials being used in a Dallas area school district in the report “Common Core Critics Under Attack in Texas,” that question was not answered.

In response, Logue asked, “Isn’t it all about asking questions and getting answers?” According to Logue, getting transparent information is sketchy for most citizen activists.

Logue then shared other incidences of how this has been happening in the “Show Me” state, recalling a community meeting held on May 2, 2013. It was organized by the Missouri Department of Education (DOE). According to Logue, it was supposed to be a public forum where citizens could address questions or concerns about the Common Core. Logue noted that once the local DOE speakers arrived, they handed out presentations only to those 8th Congressional District members present.

“They would not answer questions. The only thing you could ask was ‘what do like about Common Core?, What do not like about Common Core?’,” she stated.

Logue also told Breitbart Texas about another incident between the Missouri grassroots “9-12 We the People of Monroe County” and Paris RII Superintendent of Schools Chris Johnson. The group, in a letter to Johnson, requested a meeting to discuss the Common Core State Standards.

“Three minutes is not nearly enough time to express our concerns of these standards. We would appreciate an opportunity to present facts concerning this program and have an open discussion concerning how adopting these standards will impact our students,” the letter stated.

Three minutes is the standard allotted time per speaker for public comment and citizen concerns at school board meetings in and out of Missouri. 

The letter also said: “We feel the taxpayers and parents have been taken out of the decisions in adopting this new teaching system.  No vote was taken by Congress or the public.” In a three line letter response, the superintendent denied the request.

Requests are not always denied. Sometimes they are ignored. Jill Carter is a Grundy, MO mom who Logue credits with moving a Stop Common Core resolution from a small rural school district to Missouri subcommittee hearings underway on a bill to remove Common Core from the state entirely.

Carter told Breitbart Texas that she was only looking for answers about this new education coming into her tiny R6 East Newton school district. She said she was never looking to stir things up. She explained that she was just a parent, one of many who wanted to learn more about the Common Core. 

“I wanted to learn. I wanted them to teach me about Common Core,” she insisted. However, no school district officials ever responded to her requests. Carter then took matters into her own hands by holding community meetings throughout 2013 to discuss education. 

Carter added, “I had come to the conclusion that (Common Core) was being shoved down our throats but the people who are for it — legislators, state board and education department  representatives weren’t even willing to ‘sell it’ to the public.” 

These meetings held by Carter got the school board’s attention. She invited pro and con Common Core sides to speak. After five months, the school board passed a resolution against the standards. Carter then got permission from the school board president to send the resolution out to the state Department of Education (DOE) and the Speaker of the House to help it get traction around the state. According to Carter, all she got was a nasty letter from her Superintendent of Schools.   Carter added, “They had no interest in answering our questions but isn’t education about asking questions?”

Other parents aren’t getting their questions answered either. According to Carter, in frustration parents often resort to email to get their school official’s attention. Over time, this results in online correspondence overload for school districts. Carter pointed out that parents are only trying to voice legitimate concerns about their children, concerns that seem to go unnoticed. Carter told Breitbart Texas about a Springfield, Missouri mother of a special needs student. The mother was unclear how the Common Core implementation would affect her autistic child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) and was frustrated that her questions weren’t answered to allay her concerns.

Interestingly, this same parent received a three-page letter from the school district attorney, dated February 5, 2014, which was given to Breitbart Texas. The letter indicated that the school district and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) “made reasonable attempts to provide you with a response to your concerns,” also bullet pointing the parent’s requests as “demands” throughout the letter. 

The letter also pointed out that “while the District is always interested in assisting parents to understand the educational process and to work with students and their parents, you have given the District no indication that you are willing to work in a collegial manner with the District.” 

Carter commented that the issues may not have been as resolved as the school district claimed because the parent continued to seek information for questions unanswered or not understood. She also emphasized that receiving a letter from an attorney is very intimidating to any parent. 

Carter wanted to understand how the very parents being admonished for asking questions about their children are the same people who pay the taxes that support these school districts.  No doubt, Carter is concerned about where are parent’s rights? She asked, “Who is working for whom?” 

Missourians are not alone and Texans are not alone. In 2013, in Los Angeles suburban dad activist Tony Dolz also tried to get the word out to others in his California community. He created Concerned Parents of the Conejo Valley, a Common Core opt-out of the high-stakes testing grassroots citizens group. According to Dolz, he attended an open enrollment meeting at a local middle school for prospective parents. His understanding was that the meeting was open to the public. Dolz and other volunteers passed out flyers about their advocacy group but Dolz was stopped from doing so and was asked to leave by the principal. Dolz told Breitbart Texas, the next day he received a phone call and a letter from the school district’s superintendent admonishing him for his actions. Dolz acknowledged that he may not have understood the district policy for attending meetings but he questioned if this was unnecessarily harsh for the mistake of handing out flyers.

“People can call us ‘tin foil hats’,” added Anne Gassell, co-editor of Missouri Education Watchdog, who is gravely concerned with how Fed Led Ed moves the control of public education into corporate hands with no voter or taxpayer accountability. She said, “a red flag should be going up on the facts and not on the citizens asking the questions.”

Breitbart Texas will continue to report on incidences where citizen activists who speak up against the federally led education mandate, the Common Core, are being silenced.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom