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GOP leaders says schools know best – parents should shut up..

and take a back seat because they, the professional educators, are smarter and know better than parents do.

**** Post revised due to my poor grammar and overly emotional rant *******

I agree with him in a sense, because professional educators do know more about teaching children than non-professional educators do, however, that doesn’t mean elected school board members should ignore parents concerns or brush them off as irrelevant simply because they don’t come from the professionals. Like it or not, the people who know their children best and who love them the most, are their parents.

The issue which brought about his comments was an agenda item discussing giving parents a choice in how their children are taught mathematics. My previous post discussing the curriculum and efforts by parents to be given a choice can be found here.

The meeting was rather long, it went until well after midnight. Most of the speakers were quite polite, although sometimes a bit heated. One speaker, who opposes to idea of giving parents a choice and is employed by the county, spoke forcefully that the professional educators, such as herself, ought to make the decisions regarding curriculum and parents should be quiet because they don’t know what they’re talking about and the educators have the children’s best interests at heart. Her comments were met with resounding applause from the close to 50 teachers and administrators who attended the meeting.

Board members debated the issue, and seemed to be leaning toward holding a work session for further discussion, but no decision regarding a work session or vote to allow choice was made. One board member, Mr Richardson, who is opposed to choice, stated that allowing parents a choice in how their children are taught math would set a precedent and open every other instructional program to the same standard. I found that rather interesting because I agree with him, but I tend to think that allowing parents a choice in what their children are taught and how, is a good thing.

The board then ended the meeting with their comments. That’s when things got a bit more heated.

The first member to speak, Mr Lattin, went directly after one of the parents who has lead the charge for choice. He accused the parent of lying, of being a master manipulator and using the other parents as puppets who simply repeat whatever he tells them to say. He questioned the veracity of parents concerns when “almost 2/3 of the emails were just cut and paste”. A number of parents left the meeting at that point.

Then Mr. Richardson spoke. Mr. Richardson called the parents who left the room childish. He accused them and other parents of defaming the school system and the character of it’s employees. He accused the parents of spreading misinformation. He said the school board had spent far too much time listening to these parents when they should be listening to the people who know what they’re talking about.

As one of the parents on the receiving end of this diatribe and many others from the same two individuals, nothing I have ever said is misinformation. Everything is backed up with evidence gathered from sources unaffiliated with our fight and from documents obtained from the school system via FOIA. No one has ever told me what to say or how to say it. And the people who walked out did so rather then sit mutely by and take sucker punches.

So, where are we now? Nowhere, really. We believe four members support choice, two oppose it, and two others are undecided. The school system is facing severe budget shortfalls next year and will have to decide what to cut. Purchase orders for instructional materials will be issued in a few weeks – including somewhere between $500,000 to $750,000 for annual math “consumables” and material to expand to program to fifth grade. There is no time in the schedule for a work session on choice and no action item voting on choice is on the horizon.

The truth is that I don’t want to take anything away from anyone. I recognize that many parents and teachers believe the current program is more than adequate, but I disagree. I believe that the current program lacks the academic rigor necessary for my kids to succeed and would like to be able to enroll them in a program which has that rigor. That’s all I really want.

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A link to the web site with the meeting broadcast can be found here. The meeting was long – the last 15 to 20 minutes are where the member comments appear.

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Thank you for your feedback on the original post.  I hope that this one is an improvement.

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