"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Can Parents Set Curriculum in Common Core Standards?

We are pleased to have a guest blogger on Missouri Education Watchdog today. Karen Schroeder, founder of Advocates of Academic Freedom, has written an article informing parents how they can demand Common Core standards reflect local and state values. She provides information and links for parents to impact state legislation regarding Common Core standards. Please visit the website listed below for more information.

Thanks to Karen detailing procedures on how to regain some local control of state standards. We hope you find this helpful in having a voice in your state's curriculum. Local school control is disappearing rapidly and districts are overwhelmed with mandates set by the Federal government or a consortia of states. We appreciate her suggestions and constructive ways to regain control of our educational systems we pay into and currently have little to no input.

LOCAL CONTROL OF SCHOOLS IS SACRED IN AMERICA--Karen Schroeder, Advocates for Academic Freedom

In Wisconsin, and most states in the United States, local control of schools is considered sacred; but too few parents exercise their influence on school policy. State legislators influence the standards provided by the state departments of education, but state departments of education have little influence on school policy. Many conservative parents are hopeful that the election of conservative legislators will result in the educational system returning to traditional American values and high academic and behavioral standards. This is NOT necessarily true. The pendulum will swing in education when the parents organize and demand that the schools adopt the academic and behavioral policies that have historically made our schools successful.

If a legislator passes a law requiring that all schools teach students that America is a Constitutional Republic, for example, the state department of education must include that requirement in the Common Core State Standards. (These standards may have different names in each state and can be found on the website for each state department of education). Adding new legislative standards occurs when new standards are written by state departments of education.
The last time the Wisconsin Department of Education wrote standards for social studies was during the late 1990s. Therefore, any new law would become part of updated standards if the law is viable when the new standards are written. Legislators must demand that Common Core State Standards are updated annually as legislation is passed.
A state department of education cannot require any text book company to include state standards in their social studies text books. Individual school districts are not required to adopt the standards created by the state department of education. Each school district has a choice to adopt the Common Core State Standards or write their own. For example, schools that cannot afford new text books may write their own standards based on the content of their current text book.

Too many parents believe that the state departments of education have more power than they really do because school boards feign responsibility to the Common Core State Standards in an effort to discourage any changes to their current policies. Conservative legislation can have a positive impact on school change at this point. If that legislation becomes part of the Common Core State Standards, the parent has “state support” for his requested changes. When parents are unaware of the process, they often surrender their influence because they are frustrated, confused, and intimidated. Advocates for Academic Freedom was created to help provide parents with the necessary information to push back effectively. Once parents are successful, they must be willing to support a local referendum to cover the cost of updated textbooks which include the new standards.

Many parents simply choose to run from the public education process rather than spend precious time standing up to the process. But many of the alternative learning environments have already been infiltrated by liberal propaganda. Some conservative parents have indicated that in this case they will just find another private school or learning option for their child. When children begin to make friends and become involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities, they will protest bouncing among schools. Then what will the parent do? Finally surrender? The time for change is now.

Real change in education requires parental involvement. The Advocates for Academic Freedom website has everything a parent needs to begin the process. The button entitled Educational Goals provides resolutions that can be presented to legislators. Simply change the word BECAUSE to WHEREAS and change the word THEREFORE to BE IT RESOLVED. Parents may ask their legislators to turn these resolutions into law.

Advocates for Academic Freedom has a petition that visitors to the site may sign. Signed petitions will be sent to the representative of the signee. The more petitions each representative receives, the more support he expects for each change. This is very important for the successful passage of legislation. When Obama Care was being debated on the floor of the house and senate, legislators rolled out dollies stacked with huge boxes filled with signed petitions requesting government-provided health care. This action was persuasive.

Parents need to visit school libraries to make sure conservative principles are represented. Advocates for Academic Freedom provides a step-by-step process for accomplishing this task. Let school leadership know that your child feels censored and bullied when his ideas are not represented. Protect your child from being “punished” because you have become an advocate.

To protect their child, parents have a right to demand that teachers provide specific standards for each grade option for each assignment. This is easy for teachers to do. When I began teaching, this was a required practice. It helped the teacher and the child focus on the mastery of basic facts and the development of specific skills while discouraging personal ideologies from infiltrating the lessons. If the child meets the standards described for an “A”, then he earns an “A”. If he meets the standards for a “D”, he earns a “D”. Parents must be willing to accept this consequence gracefully. Grading standards have become very flexible and often meaningless because of parental demands for easy grades!!!
The schools have become what they are because of the demands made by some parents and the indifference of many.
Too few parents recognize this fact. Parents have the greatest level of influence on their local schools. GET INVOLVED AND ENCOURAGE OTHER PARENTS TO JOIN YOU. Help in organizing neighborhood parents can be found at: advocatesforacademicfreedom.org or click on the hotlink below.

Karen Schroeder is President of Advocates for Academic Freedom. With 36 years of experience teaching at the elementary school and the middle school levels, she retired and became an educational consultant for local political candidates. Karen provides seminars about educational issues for the general public. More information about Advocates for Academic Freedom and the seminars may be found at: www. advocatesforacademicfreedom.org.

Karen formed Advocates for Academic Freedom because she and fellow conservative teachers often wondered, “Why do conservative parents surrender their children and tax dollars to progressive ideologies when they could actively support the teacher who is trying to retain high academic and behavioral standards, critical thinking skills, and mastery of basic facts?”

Karen believes that improving educational opportunities for our children is also a battle to save the soul of our nation from a growing number of citizens who no longer value a Constitutional Republic and who see our constitution as a “living” document, outdated and in need of change to reflect their values. Karen is motivated by Abraham Lincoln’s statement that the philosophy of the classroom in one generation will become the philosophy of the government of the next generation.

Karen has Masters’ degrees in special education and learning disabilities from the College of St. Thomas. She negotiated teacher contracts in the early 1980s. The president of KPT’s and a property management company, Karen is also the current President of the Barron County Republican Women.

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