DESE and The Hijacking of HB 1490

Last Friday, I received confirmation from the Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives office that I was picked to be a participant on a work group established by HB 1490. This allows for groups of parents and educators to work together to develop standards for our schools. The language of HB 1490 is as follows, as related to the makeup of these work groups:

3. Work group members shall be selected in the following manner:
(1) Two parents of children currently enrolled in grades kindergarten through twelve shall be selected by the president pro tempore of the senate;
(2) Two parents of children currently enrolled in grades kindergarten through twelve shall be selected by the speaker of the house of representatives;
(3) One education professional selected by the state board of education from names submitted to it by the professional teachers’ organizations of the state;
(4) One education professional selected by a statewide association of Missouri school boards;
(5) One education professional selected by the state board of education from names submitted to it by a statewide coalition of school administrators;
(6) Two education professionals selected by the president pro tempore of the senate in addition to the members selected under subdivision (1) of this subsection;
(7) Two education professionals selected by the speaker of the house of representatives in addition to the members selected under subdivision (2) of this subsection;
(8) One education professional selected by the governor;
(9) One education professional selected by the lieutenant governor;
(10) One education professional selected by the commissioner of higher education;
(11) One education professional selected by the state board of education from names submitted to it by nationally-recognized career and technical education student organizations operating in Missouri; and
(12) One education professional selected by the state board of education from names submitted to it by the heads of state-approved baccalaureate-level teacher preparation programs located in Missouri.

This would be a total of 16 members for each of the designated work groups. Notice that nowhere in this language will you find a role for DESE or their designees.

When I arrived at the Capital this morning, I was energized to be a part of the process that would determine the future of our children’s education, while preserving the local control of our school districts set forth in our state Constitution. As a parent in one of the state’s smallest school districts, the opportunity to work with parents and educators to define our State’s path in education is an honor. The responsibility of being appointed to these work groups is one that I definitely felt as I walked through the halls of our State Capital.

As I told the fellow members of our work group (History and Government, K-5), this is the single most important thing I have ever done in my life. I felt a swell of pride when I made that statement, along with a rush of emotion.

It is a responsibility not just to my children, but to all children, and parents, in the state of Missouri.

When I made my way to the Truman Building to meet the members of our work group, I was ready to get about this serious work. Upon arriving, I found myself faced with a reality that was the anti-thesis of what I was expecting and completely contrary to the language in HB 1490.

I walked in to find a small group of people, considerably less than the full 16 member panel clearly defined in HB 1490. Only ten members of our group were assembled. This was the first disappointment of the day.

I was greeted by a ‘facilitator’ when I entered the conference room. This person had assumed the role of leadership over our work group and was flanked by two other representatives from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary education. I was puzzled. DESE, according to HB 1490, was not supposed to be a participant in these work sessions. While they are open to the public (and I encourage anyone who can attend to do so), DESE is not supposed to have a role in these groups. The state legislature went to great lengths to determine who is supposed to participate in these sessions. They did not list DESE in the language above, defining the makeup of these groups.

I didn’t say anything at first. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was witnessing. Soon after I took my seat, it became abundantly clear.

I was witnessing the same assumption of authority by DESE that has become the standard in schools across Missouri. DESE’s ‘facilitator’ was lying in wait to execute a coup of the process set forth by HB 1490, perched behind her Power Point presentation like a Black Widow ready to devour any hapless fly who dissented from DESE’s darling, the Common Core Standards.

From DESE’s own website, http://www.dese.mo.gov:

The meetings are open to the public, but are not open meetings. Only members of the work groups may contribute to the discussion, again as specified in the law. However, three public hearings will be held during the development process to allow for comments from the public on the proposed standards.

When another parent and I questioned her role and participation in the group, it became immediately clear the room was stacked with DESE designees. Administrators from across the state leapt to her defense, eager and willing to give up their responsibilities under HB 1490 in order to follow DESE’s lead.

When I questioned moving forward without a full work group, I learned how determined DESE and its supporters were to thwart the entire process laid out in HB 1490. Over and over I was told that it didn’t matter that the other representatives were in attendance. The rationale that was given was that we ‘were already here’ so we should proceed with our work session.

As I pointed out, beginning any work without the full assembly of our group was problematic. Given the importance of the task we are charged with, it seemed imperative that we adhere to the process set forth by HB 1490.

Our work group is, after all, developing standards for History and Government. It seems laughable that we should disregard the legislature’s intent with HB 1490 because DESE and a few hell bent administrators say so.

These concerns also fell on deaf ears. A majority of the group that was assembled today were all too willing to ignore the fact that we were missing six members of our group. Their desire to effectively disenfranchise other members of our work group, by insisting we play ‘follow the leader’ and continue the charade was disconcerting. Those most vocal in wanting to press forward, without a full group and, as DESE themselves said, in violation of the law with the participation of a ‘facilitator’ set off several alarm bells in my head.

It made me thankful that my children aren’t in their districts.

The hit parade continued with objection after objection being voted down by a count of hands willing to continue a process that was very clearly flawed.

Finally, when the afternoon session resumed, I found that I could not, in good conscience, continue to participate in an illegitimate process. Too much is riding on what comes out of these work groups. To begin a process under the pretense that we are following the path laid out by HB 1490, would be to participate in a sham. I cannot, and will not, lend my name as validation for a process that is flawed from inception. I cannot and will not participate in the hijacking of our children’s future. To do so, gives the charade the pretense of validity and there was nothing valid, legal or legitimate about the coup I witnessed in today’s meeting.

In talking with several other parents, I made the point that our only leverage is our participation. If we, as parents and people who can read HB 1490, continue to lend our credibility to this process through our attendance, we are failing our children and become willing conspirators in a fraud.

While administrators across our state seem willing to move forward with this, I am not.

Our children’s future is far too valuable to be traded away for a DESE meal ticket.

Occupy Common Core: The Corporatization/Privatization of Education

Friday morning, March 28, an email was circulated calling for supporters of Common Core standards to rally in favor of the standards. In this email, it is stated that Missouri legislators are getting “pressure from right wing activists around the state”.

Right wing activists?

That, I must admit, caused me to actually laugh out loud. This is the latest in a run of empty assertions that have been made by the alphabet soup organizations of unelected educrats in Missouri in regards to the demographic of Common Core opposition.

I am not a conservative Mom. I am not a right wing activist. I am the antithesis of these things and unfortunately for MASA, DESE, MSBA, etc and et al, I also stand against Common Core. Let me shatter the illusion they would like to present to you, the one that identifies opponents of Common Core as right wing activists and conservative soccer moms.

My ‘political activism’ began after the tea party movement had launched, but my awareness of the corruption embodied in the implementation of Common Core began long before that. The rise of global corporatism and corruption, assumptions of power by branches and agencies of government in clear violation of Constitutional law and efforts to silence and marginalize dissenters drew me to an inevitable, inescapable conclusion: We, as a nation, are held in the grip of fascism. There is no clearer symptom of this condition than the government overreach exemplified by Common Core.

I have curated the website http://www.americanspring2011.com for nearly three years. My activism, such as it has been, was the direct result of the protests of workers in Madison, Wisconsin, the ‘Arab Spring’ and the for-profit police state that was rising around us. My education comes from years of schooling, common sense and practical knowledge. My beliefs spring from the moral code instilled in me by my family. My experience comes as a result of growing up in a small rural Missouri town, graduating with seven classmates. My views have been formed by the culmination of these and an endless number of lessons learned through the course of my life. My anger, my righteous fury, at those who would seek to implement ANY system that robs us of local control of our schools, is fueled by the love I have for my children and the hopes I have for their future.

I am neither a mother, nor am I a right wing activist. I’m a father who identified far more with the Occupy Wall Street message than the purchased political talking heads who hijacked the authentic grassroots movement, the tea party. The root message of the OWS movement was missed amid a flurry of symptoms of an ill society. What was lost in that movement’s translation, with its many signs and seemingly mixed messages, is that each of the messages displayed on the signs of the 99% were caused by the same root disease. Fascism. The levers of power of the most powerful military on the planet are in the hands of fascists. Their philosophy is a brutally simple one: enslave a population, through all means necessary. And now they have turned their sights on our schools.

By destroying wage protections, the door is open for economic slavery, as wages will be dictated by corporations like Wal-Mart. By increasing the militarization of police and constructing a data collection network, government and corporate powers have opened the door to tyranny. By extending the talons of government control to our schools, via the implementation of Common Core, the doors to our homes are not just opened, they have been kicked in. These conditions, each, describe fascism.

The threat of Common Core is not confined to schools, classrooms and education. It is much more personal than that and represents a greater danger. It is, in its base form, control. It institutionalizes a bully system through emphasis on student, teacher and district ‘performance’. It expands this ‘competition’ across our country, so that ‘failing’ districts become prime targets for replacement from private, for-profit educational warehouses, the kind of ‘education’ promoted by special interest groups like Fordham.

Fordham is subsidized not only by Bill Gates, but by the same Wall Street vulture who helped bankrupt the city of Detroit, by raiding the pensions of workers. John Arnold, former Enron executive, played a large role in that city’s demise. Now Detroit is being dismantled, with the goal of privatizing that city’s public services and turning it into a laboratory to conduct neoliberal economic experiments. This same mad scientist approach is now being made reality in our schools through Common Core.

Fordham certainly isn’t alone. A cabal of corporate interests and their representatives have their fingerprints all over Common Core. It has been supported by a consortium of players, united in this fascist takeover of education. Bill Gates is a major player. So is Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News with holdings in multiple private educational pies. So is Mike Huckabee. So is Jeb Bush. So are hundreds of others, scavengers all, each ready to take their bite out of the corpse of locally controlled education. All ready to fill their bloated bank accounts at the expense of our kids.

They support Common Core for precisely the same reason. It is a way to privatize what is public. It is a way to monetize our children’s future. It is a way to discourage learning, to control and monitor our children, to initiate them into a subservient way of thinking. It is a way to herd our children into the low wage jobs Chambers of Commerce have waiting for them. It is a way to discourage our children from seeking a college education that is becoming more and more unattainable through rising costs. It is a way to create a true life Idiocracy through bureaucracy.

Nor is Common Core the singular mechanism of this corporate takeover of education. Laws, some currently pending in the Missouri State Congerss, have been written and endorsed by ‘conservative’ politicians in this state that offers a clear picture of the handwriting on the wall. They have been debating, along with Common Core legislation, to allow a forty hour work week for children 14 and older. They have passed laws to expedite the process through which the state can ‘take control’ over districts that ‘fail’ accreditation tests. They have passed laws that have made it easier to fire teachers. They have set the stage for the next evolution in the transformation of education. It is a for-profit system, subsidized by parasitic interests that feed off each ‘failure’.

Common Core is the proverbial ‘no-win’ situation for parents. Without a vote and without consent, government has overstepped its authority and the citizens of the United States have been told they have two options for their children’s education: Government dictated corporate education via Common Core in our ‘public’, ‘locally controlled’ schools or privatized, for-profit corporate education via ‘failed’ districts. Each student who ‘fails’, each family whose child doesn’t ‘perform’ under this ‘educational’ model, are at risk of school/government led ‘intervention’. This ‘intervention’ is done not under the rule of law, but under the assumption of authority. It is the same assumption of authority that ‘supports’ arguments in favor of this transformation of eduction.

The state of Missouri used to have protection from this type of hostile takeover of Missouri school districts by the federal government. The statute, in an abridged, layperson form, set a higher standard for educating Missouri children than the federal government’s. This statute was used by Sherry Lagares to defeat the assumption of authority by the Camdenton school district. Shortly after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in her favor, Sherry was called to Jefferson City as lobbyists from DESE, MSBA and other special interest groups fought to repeal that same statute. She watched as both corporate-sponsored politicians and corporate-sponsored emissaries kicked down the door protecting Missourians from Common Core. Now, her family has been visited by unbelievable acts of retribution by the same entities and players standing in support of Common Core in Missouri.

Common Core is a system that is built to profit from each child’s failure, regardless of their parent’s political affiliations. Those who stand in support of the corporatization of education do so in spite of false party labels. So to, do those who stand in opposition to this gross assumption of authority. To claim otherwise is disingenuous, it is foolish and it speaks to the blind ignorance of those who would take control of our children’s futures.

Our schools are where we lay down our political banners and pick up the crests of our families. It is on this battleground, the first, the most personal, that we don armor made of ironclad truth and carry shields forged in the fires of American determination. We gather under the flags of our children in protection of their future and here, we all have common ground.

I am not a conservative mom, nor am I a right-wing activist. I’m a liberal father.

But when I see a threat like this leveled against my kids and their future… I’m a real mother.

Missouri State Senators Concerned About Teacher Suppression

Wednesday, Missouri Senators heard testimony from a growing coalition of parents, teachers and educators who oppose the implementation of Common Core in our districts. During this testimony, the Senators were stunned to hear of the suppression tactics being used against teachers in districts across the state who chose to speak out in opposition of this transformation of education.

The State Senators called a sidebar Thursday, about testimony regarding teacher suppression efforts, taken by administrations around the state, against teachers who aren’t in favor of the corporate model of Common Core standards. They witnessed this type of behavior and suppression of teachers first hand in Jefferson City, courtesy of Lt. Governor Kinder. The Senators also had concerns about the veil of secrecy surrounding Common Core and lack of answers from DESE.

Debate continues in Jefferson City on several pieces of legislation regarding Common Core.

Stay tuned to http://www.americanspring2011.com for the very latest in news from Camdenton to the Congo. Follow on Twitter @AmericanSpring or on the Facebook page Guerrilla Radio with American Spring. Guerrilla Radio is on Monday through Friday from noon until two in the afternoon. Tuesday’s Prime Time edition of Guerrilla Radio is live at 8. All shows are archived on line for easy access.

Camden County P&Z Problems/Legal Questions Reach State Reps

Monday afternoon, local business owner Theresa Townsend was contacted by Rep. Diane Franklin’s office regarding questions about violations and abuses of Camden County Planning and Zoning.

Ms. Townsend, owner of Gidgets and Gadgets novelty store in Sunrise Beach, has been vocal in her criticisms of how planning and zoning is being administered in Camden County. Her concerns range from the punitive and selective enforcement of planning and zoning, the invention of violations by planning and zoning, a lack of oversight by the Camden County Commission and an ignorance of the ULC in practical application. During her research into Missouri state statutes regarding planning and zoning, she found continued violations, up to and including Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken’s end-around attempt to unilaterally rewrite Article 800 of the ULC.

This rewrite, authored by Franken, contains multiple violations of state statutes.

It would appear that violating state statutes is the norm in Camden County planning and zoning. As a first class county, planning and zoning in Camden County is supposed to have seated on it’s P and Z board one member of the Camden County Commission. Also, the Board of Adjustment for planning and zoning for a first class county is not to be made up of political appointees. Instead, this board is to be made up of the three members of the county commission.

Repeatedly, Theresa Townsend has addressed, emailed and attempted to be put on the agenda of the P&Z board. Her inquiries, concerns and questions have been met with predictable silence from the Camden County Courthouse.

Because of this lack of leadership, Theresa took her concerns to the Lake’s local state representatives.

She was contacted by Mr. Bryant with Diane Franklin’s office yesterday, who assured her that her concerns were hand delivered to Rocky Miller, Theresa’s state representative. She was given additional assurances that this matter would receive immediate attention from Jefferson City.

Taxpayers of Camden County, who are liable for any and all mistakes made in the administration of planning and zoning, hope to see the rule of law restored to Camden County P&Z.

Breaking News: Two Democrats Call for Missouri Education Commissioner to resign | Missouri Education Watchdog

http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/breaking-news-two-democrats-call-for-missouri-education-commissioner-to-resign/