It has been an exciting week for parent testimony at the State Board of Education monthly meetings.  

We have heard from the real “experts” who truly know our kids… the people that raise them, like Randy Houchins and Dr. Lori Hines.  They have done an exceptional job of demonstrating how the  Texas Math TEKS are hurting our children and their futures.  They have introduced common sense back into the process of arithmetic.

The problem is, they were not speaking to the people that have the power. Yes, as I was told by Julie Shields of Governor Abbott’s office on Friday, the buck stops with the SBOE.  They are the ultimate authority on writing the standards and ensuring a quality education for our children.  Except, they are not. Not really.

I became aware of the impending revisions to the English/Language Arts/Reading rewrites by reading Donna Garner’s blogs.  When I met Barbara Cargill on October 20, I asked her what could be done to avoid the same chaos happening in ELA/R that we have seen in Math.

I have this terrible affliction.  It is called a gut feeling and I can only remember once in my life that it was wrong.

I suspected Mrs. Cargill was not playing with all her cards so I continued to press her with questions and was met with odd responses like she did not understand what I was asking.  When I did not get the response that I believed was an accurate representation of the facts, I began asking others the same questions.

What was presented to me was evidence that gut feeling was right. SBOE Representative Cargill was not being forthcoming with the the truth.  I obtained the memorandum that was issued March 27, 2015 by Johnny Veselka of the Texas Association of School Administrators to Barbara Cargill.  In this memorandum, Mr. Veselka lays out they why’s and general how’s of how to prepare our kids for global competition and the 21st century world they will encounter. He is sure to let her know that isn’t just his lobby that is giving these directives, but a number of others and of course, there is nothing suggestive about this. It is a directive.

By September 3, SBOE Rep Cargill had been replaced  as chairperson, due to meeting her term limit.  As her successor, the new recipient of. Mr. Veselka’s directives was Donna Bahoric, now Chairperson of the SBOE.  Mr. Veselka clearly and succinctly advised Ms. Bahoric that he was forwarding the framework for the standards that were to be used for the Texas English/Language Arts/Reading re-writes.  (The standards are up for review every 8 years, but it is not mandatory that they be re-written.)  He goes on to define the lobbies that assisted in developing the framework and tells that he is sending the ELA/R Framework with alignments to the College and Career Readiness Standards, SAT and ACT, along with a cover letter to the members of the State Board of Education.

He continues his explanation of how the standards are developed by saying that “in order to provide the greatest opportunity for student success, the College Career Readiness Standards (aka the new daddy of Common Core) standards were backward mapped into the framework, which is also aligned with the SAT and ACT standards.”

What does this mean?  it translates to this… you have no representation in the standards being developed for your kids. The existing TEKS are laid out (which have been previously manipulated by national standards, just not to the present degree.)  It is the first layer, then the SBOE calls in a “panel of experts”   who provide very detailed feedback for consultant fees.  A great deal of the feedback is useful, but it is really just to document that we asked for feedback.  Then TASA sends the directives on to the SBOE and says we used your TEKS to back in the national standards and make it look like it was your idea.

That is bad, but not as bad as it could be, unless…

The email goes on to explain to Donna that the framework is topped off to focus on “rigorous student achievement goals as recommended by Shirley Dickson and is unanimously supported by these organizations. (the six lobbies I will post at the end of this blog.)

Surely, you are kidding me?  Don’t call me Shirley.

Shirley Dickson’s career as a consultant has been with the Education Commission of the States and she sits on the board of the National Assessment Governing Board.

Are you following me yet?  The national standards are being shoved into our state standards so that we align with either College & Career Readiness/College Board/Common Core.  In the end, they are all the same; nationalized education.

With this model, the people have no voice.  The State Board of Education has been rendered completely impotent.

What is the most frightening part of this?  You have an elected body of 15 people and not one of them are standing up and asking their constituents to help them.  Not one of them has said, we are being forced into big government by big lobbies and we no longer represent your voice. Instead, mine sends me coy emails acting as if she does not understand my questions.

One piece at a time, our country is dismantled because we elect people that lack courage, fortitude, grit, integrity or self respect.

I encourage you today to do a few things.  It is time consuming, but if you want to participate in restoring our republic, this is a great way to do it.

Go to the Governor’s website and tell him that you reject nationalized standards in public education.

Go to your Congressmen’s (House & Sentate) websites and ask them to reject the ESEA re-write and support bringing education back home to the local control.

Go to your state representatives websites and tell them that you reject nationalized standards in public education.

Show up to your next school board meeting.  Ask your board to “get onboard” with the initiative to stop the nationalization of our standards.

Call your principal, ask to meet with them and ask them to join your efforts to stop the nationalization of our English/Language Arts/Reading standards.  If they agree, have them contact their areas superintendents and elected representatives.  If they do not agree, politely let them know you will be lobbying to find their successor.

Teach your child what you want him or her to know about his rights, government, states’ rights and most importantly his civic duty to our fellow citizens.

Ultimately, we are the body that determines the course of the nation, not the figureheads that we elect.

Which direction will you help move us toward?

{The comments below contain the email, framework and comments sent by Johnny Veselka of TASA to the SBOE.}