AUTHOR: A. Patrick Huff, PhD
In part one of this two-part article I wrote on the build-up of emotional anger and total frustration on the part of parents toward school policy as it relates to the testing madness that exists in schools today. Project Veritas exposed the blatant greed that appears pervasive in the textbook companies, and the mega powerful testing industry. While the work done by Mr. O’Keefe with Project Veritas is worthwhile, it is continuing to stoke the fires smoldering inside parents as they see their children emotionally scarred from the pressure of high stakes testing. This anger is prompting parents to take matters into their own hands and opt-out.
So where does the danger lie in opting out of the test? It lies in the laws dictated to the schools through the Accountability System. Specifically, the problem lies in how many students in each individual school have taken the state test in any given year. The Accountability System requires that 95% of the students in every school take the test. If 95% of the students do not take the test, then the school fails to meet standards for that year. One of the things that occur in every school on the day after the state standardized test, is that all the students who were absent on the day of the test are taken to a test taking area of the building and administered the test. The schools are allowed time to correct their absentee issue, but it has to be done expediently in a manner that can be justified in the state report. The schools know how vital it is for at least 95% of the students to take the test. No school wants to get a label of improvement required by the state after they have worked so hard to get the students prepared to take the test. Everything is riding on the accountability rating and one of the factors in the rating is the percentage of students that took the test.
Will the opt out movement have a bearing on a school’s rating? Yes, it most certainly will. If your child attends a school where improvement required is the accountability rating, you understand what this does to the overall atmosphere in the school. It can be devastating, especially when your school is in danger of takeover by the state agency. Again, school failure is not the focus of this article. If you want to educate yourself further on school failure, you can read my article, School Accountability Madness , that I wrote in the fall of 2015 and appeared in the News With Views website. School failure, however, could be an outcome if a significant opt-out movement took place in the school your child attends.
We are in a very dangerous time in public education. It is my opinion that the government, corporate, education industrial complex would like to see schools fail. As hard as it is to believe that statement, it is not hard to believe if you take the time to research and investigate the realities of what is happening at your state capitol, what is occurring in Washington D.C. and what is happening in the corporate testing industry. When a school fails to meet standards for two years in a row, they enter into the School Improvement Program, where schools often times do not improve. This has more to do with the accountability system and the schools demographics than it does with the quality of the educational program within the school. Trust me, it is not the teachers. They are working as hard as they can within the parameters of what they have to work with. The state would like nothing better than to have schools fail to the point of takeover so that the school can then be turned into a charter school. Once a school fails and is turned into a charter school many opportunities open up that benefit the Education Industrial Complex. The most immediate thing that happens is the school enters into a public-private type of operation and governance structure. When this happens, the parent is removed from the picture. The school is no longer accountable to the parent for how their child is educated. There is not an up-line chain of appeal if the parent disagrees with a decision that is made regarding their child. The school is now a business organization. The up-line chain of command goes to the corporate entity that operates the charter school. The parent is out of the picture. The school has become privatized. This is the endgame for those who seek to control education.
The school choice movement occurring across the country, and being pushed by the Republican Party as part of its platform, promotes charter school development and school vouchers. By making that statement it is not an advertisement for anyone in the Democratic Party running for president. What it demonstrates is both political parties have a globalist agenda for our public schools. The globalist agenda for education can be tied to UNESCO. Yes, that’s right, the UN is involved. The school reform agenda is bigger than the state and its bigger than the federal government. A completely controlled education system, where a one size fits all curriculum placed into a charter school where the parent is excluded, or a private school forced to adopt government mandates because they took government tax money in the form of a voucher, is exactly where both political parties want our schools to eventually end up. It is in the interest of the reader to investigate vouchers and the detrimental impact they have on public and private education. If you would like to read my article published in 2015 Looking Behind The Curtain of Texas Education Reform, you will find good information on the business and political connection in the education reform movement. In this article the reader can come to an understanding of why certain laws are passed, or are trying to be passed, that will facilitate vouchers once they become law in your state. The above article appeared in Charlotte Iserbyt’s blog, which has a wealth of information from respected journalist across the country. If you read the article above, please bookmark her site. You will be glad you did.
Mrs. Iserbyt is also one of the few journalist and education historian, that is making the connection to what is happening today and its beginning back in the 1930’s. Mrs. Iserbyt makes the connection to the expansion of charter schools and the eventual replacement of our representative form of government. In Charter School Trap, part one, the reader can connect the dots with the relationship of charter schools and the impact this will have on our representative form of government.
Is making the connection between corporate textbook company interests and what is occurring in our nation’s schools important? Yes it is, but it is only part of the picture and it is not the issue we should be focused on. If we want to reclaim our schools and return them to true public oversight, it has to be done by eradicating the Accountability System. Everything else as a focal point is nothing but peripheral issues, including Common Core. Common Core can be renamed and packaged in a different format, and still remain intact. In fact this is what has happened in Texas. The Republicans in the state legislature thought they could prevent Common Core from coming into the state. In fact, they even passed a law that forbade any such intrusion. House Bill 462 passed in 2013 specifically states no public school will use any curriculum that is Common Core. The new curriculum set to go into Texas public schools is called 21st Century Leaning, or Next Generation. Members of The Texas State Board of Education are currently answering parent questions about this new initiative in focus groups across the state. Are Texas parents and teachers suppose to be glad that Common Core is not coming into Texas but 21st Century Learning and Next Generation is? Who was that politician again that said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig?” This is only a new name on the same set of curriculum standards that is Common Core. By trying to pull this slight of hand the State Board of Education is demonstrating a clear disrespect of the parents and general public. It won’t take long for the parents to see through this ruse.
If the Accountability System is removed as the mechanism that controls schools, then local control is truly possible. There was a time when school districts chose their own curriculum to follow and selected their own textbooks to use. Let’s get our schools back for good. I will say again as I have said before in other articles, if any politician says that to improve education the state must strengthen accountability, maintain rigorous college and career ready standards, bring school choice to parents in order to give every child an equal opportunity to go to a good school, please stand your ground and argue your educated points. There are some politicians out there that will listen. There are also people running for office in 2016 that definitely will listen.
What can we learn from the Project Veritas videos? First, we can thank Mr. O’Keefe for the time, effort and cost of producing the videos, and second, for the enlightenment he gave us of misplaced values in the corporate education industry. We eagerly await more videos, for sure. But getting angry over Common Core or corrupt individuals inside a huge textbook company will only serve to let the citizens vent their emotions for a time. It will not create the change we need if we intend to get our schools back under local control.
I hate to say it, but short of storming the Bastille, the road to getting local control back is through the state legislature in your state. It has to be done through policy revision and the representatives and senators who should be serving the people. School reform controllers have been on this crusade for over 30 years now. Incrementally the temperature in the pot has risen slowly while parents and the education profession have been far too trusting of those who make policy and also work behind the scenes. We have to keep making our voices heard to the politicians currently in office and educate the people running for office, on what the true issues are in education and wake them to the truth about education reform. Mr. O’Keefe, I invite you to contact me and I will be glad to have a thorough discussion with you about what truly does control the entire education industrial complex; the Accountability System.
Patrick Huff is the author of “ The Takeover of Public Education in America: The Agenda to Control Information and Knowledge Through the Accountability System”, 2015. The book can be found at http://www.aphuff.com. Dr. Huff is a retired middle and high school principal with 34 years in the public education profession. He lives with his wife of 35 years in Tomball, Texas and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org