One of the purposes of our site is to give conservatives, both parents and educators, a place to speak out about education. Below is a piece from Debbie Higginbotham. Ms. Higginbotham is a Florida parent who did exactly what more parents need to do, get involved and know what is going on in our schools. If you live in Florida, you might consider joining our discussion group for the state.
As I sit here listening to the sounds of my home and my children exploring their environment, I wonder what their world is going to be like when they have children. Will their children be enslaved to an education system that expects everyone to conform to one style of learning? Will they have the freedom to choose their educational path? We need to ask these questions now before it is too late to change the path of American education.
I started researching the Common Core State Standards about four months ago. I saw a headline on a news website that consisted of the words, “Public Education and Bill Ayers.” Chills rushed through my body, as I thought how that name could have any positive affect on my children’s education in the public sector. After reading the article and finding out what Common Core was, I was not satisfied and needed to know more. I started digging deeper and deeper and what I found truly troubled me as a mom, who only wants the best for my six children. I learned Common Core is a national standard, which will not allow local control; at the state level or at the county level, over what gets put into our classrooms. How could people in Washington know what is best for my kids all the way here in Florida?
In my research, I found multiple resources from different viewpoints. As I gathered the information, I got in touch with local school board members and started asking questions. I was told Common Core was pretty much here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it. Questions started popping into my head that I couldn’t get answered fast enough. I wondered why no one realized how wrong it is to have Washington control the local educational needs of our children. If, by chance, someone did think this was wrong, why they didn’t stand up and say something? Well, I am now standing up and speaking to as many people as I can to inform them of this educational travesty. Although, we have elected these board members and the superintendent to look after the educational needs of our children within the public schools; it is ultimately our responsibility, the parents, to be involved in our children’s lives. We clothe them, feed them, and discipline them. We need to also stand up and take responsibility for their education. We need to put our voices behind our tax dollars and make sure our elected officials have our children’s best interest at heart.
After talking with multiple school board members, I was encouraged to speak at their next meeting and voice my discontentment with the Common Core. What frustrated me the most was the lack of research done by the teachers. They are supporting the idea of the “one size fits all” standards without understanding what it really means. School leaders do not have to conduct the research on these topics, but at least they should read it and dig below the surface to understand it. Following the era of Jeb Bush and the FCAT, teachers and parents alike have learned to greatly dislike this standardized test system. In my opinion, removing the FCAT is music to the teachers’ ears. That may have pleased them so much that they neglected to listen to what is going to replace the FCAT. Doing away with one bad system does not mean it will be replaced with a better system.
All I keep hearing is that the Common Core is going to be great for our kids. That there will be rigorous, new teaching methods introduced to help our children rise above where they are now and be proficient in the lessons being taught. My interpretation of this rubbish is that these teachers are being sold a bill of goods and have been indoctrinated, through the CCSS workshops, to sell this to our children and their parents. They are losing the true meaning of being called to be quality teachers to our young people. Teachers may not realize that their voices are being muted, as are ours. The parents and teachers know best and have the power to provide the best education for our kids, but only if we first stop the higher ups from silencing us. Teachers’ hands will be tied, as the Common Core offers little freedom to adjust the curriculum to the needs of the students within the classroom.
In preparation for the school board meeting I got all of my notes together and poured them all into a ten minute speech to present to the board. I presented the following facts: how CCSS was created; who wrote the standards; how it is unconstitutional and illegal for a national curriculum and test to be created by the federal government; and how its implementation will be a huge expense for taxpayers. I feel satisfied to have voiced my concerns to the school board and am hopeful that I conveyed important information to the people who need to be aware of the Common Core and its inadequacies. I also pray that my words were truly heard by everyone in attendance.
One of the school board members was present at yet another meeting the next day, at which the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Florida was in attendance. The school board member eagerly told the Representative about my presentation and he wanted a copy of it and my information. I thought this was a huge step in the right direction. Making appointments with my local representatives was my next goal. The following week, I was able to talk to the Chief Legislative Assistant to one of my representatives. Before I could make any impact on this guy, he shot me down saying the same words I had heard before, “Common Core is a done deal and there is nothing we can do about it.” I found it frustrating that he was unwilling or unable to listen to a parent’s point of view. The overall result of that meeting was not as productive as I had hoped. Since I was not overly pleased when I left, the Assistant to the Representative offered to set up a meeting for me to speak to the State School Board in Tallahassee. I thought of his gesture as a way of showing me that he wasn’t blowing me off or maybe it he was testing my resolve to pursue the protection of my children’s educational freedom.
During the meeting, the Legislative Assistant asked me why I wasn’t engaged in the planning meetings to implement the Common Core Standards here in Florida? I explained to him that as a parent, I felt confident I had my children in a good school that went above and beyond my high expectations in providing a good education. If something as important as new educational standards directly affecting my children were being planned, a simple notice should have been sent out. I would have thought parents would be given an opportunity to be informed of such a monumental thing. But, there was no notice sent home in my children’s backpacks. There was no letter sent to my home letting me know there was a meeting. I thought I was an informed mom, but it is impossible to stay informed when so much is going on behind the backs of parents and taxpayers. The point of the comment was, “You weren’t interested when the changes were happening and now that the changes are here and you don’t like them, you want to complain about them.” If I had been aware of the planning meetings, I certainly would have gone and done my best to be proactive. Now, I can only react.
Our government and other entities within it are eagerly taking over every aspect of our lives and even our grandchildren’s lives to shape this country into what they think it should be to compete in a global society. I am disheartened to think what this global society is going to be like in eighteen or twenty years when the true results of the federally run schools are revealed.
I encourage all parents to take the time to do some research of their own to really understand the full aspect and consequences of the Common Core State Standards. These standards are not what the United States needs for its children. This drastic overtaking of local control is another freedom being quietly pulled out from underneath us and another way to control its people so we will learn to fear our government instead of the other way around. President Kennedy’s words are very appropriate even now. “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” We can make our country better, one child’s education at a time.