Op Ed: Telling It Like It Is in NC-Studying Our Options in NC-Opting Out, Teacher Tenure

Written by Charlie Morris (aka not Zoe)
I have been seriously inactive lately for Blue Hat stuff. Pamela Grundy, the co author of a recent and courageously written N&O article about Opting Out,  has been in touch with Zoe and I.  I have been ducking calling her even though I support the cause.  First of all, I am a single dad and hey…my plate is FULL.  But there are other reasons. Here they are…
I must admit that I am currently suffering from not a lack of courage, but a lack of belief that the current system can just be buffered up and made good once again.  My attempts to get Zoe’s 0 status removed at the state level, from her opting out of testing last year has gone no where-literally.  No help from the Principal.  The letter I wrote to the state level rep, who is in charge of such things, went completely ignored.  I also offered my piece on the topic to the N&O, the local newspaper in Raleigh.  They didn’t mention it or cover it in the paper, even after the reporter had asked to see it.  I still admittedly feel disappointed that last year Zoe was literally the only kid in the district to opt out.  We live in a pocket of NC that is supposedly exceedingly liberal and free minded.  Yet, not one other person stepped forward?  So…where am I at? Frazzled.  Disappointed for sure in the elected leaders of NC for what they are supporting for our children.   Enjoying the relative virtues of being marginilized by this bizarre system that was formerly about education. In other words, I have been fairly quiet.
I have been feign to do much lately because I am unsure of how to proceed best.  I truly feel that the corporations are not one, but two or three steps ahead of us in their quest to standardize all “learning”.  Why? Please see “standardized packaging”.  It makes it easier to deliver a product.  And that is what is being sold now.  Education is being sold like a product instead of a process or dare I say it…a fascinating journey. So, even as we fight what is here currently to wrestle with, they are already on to the next thing…rendering the current battle sort of as a distraction or an obfuscation to what they already have planned.  I feel that as long as we do not self organize, we will always be requesting fairness from those who seek to take advantage of our collective trust that they have our best interests at heart…and they apply a system that is only fair to a certain segment of the population.  I feel that the writing is on the wall here if we look around the country.  The friendly requests for fairness simply do not work.  What works is mass refusal and taking education (not) back…but taking it somewhere new altogether.
So, I hate to sound negative.  But currently I am picking my fights a bit better and staying out of losing ones.  I am sitting still and looking for the right kind of opening to present itself.   I think the fight to get schools back to a good place cannot be won. Fighting the gov’t cannot be won.  But organizing children completely differently and into smaller groups of decentralized learning groups…to me that feels possible and more positive.  We shouldn’t fight to make the gov’t agree with us about how to educate our children.  They never had the right to do so from the start.  In a way, arguing with them, lends credence to their power.  When you find yourself asking for your rights back…it means that you are talking to someone who took them without your permission.  I say we need to change the conversation completely.  Don’t talk to them at all.  We simply should educate our children.  And for the parents that cannot because they are working (like me), we can hopefully find a way to have things in place that support them as well.  I don’t think that we can ever get the gov’t out of the current educational system.  They created it. It is their system and we merely partake of it.   It will never be ours.  If we want education that is ours for our children, we must make our own, pulling together resources that make sense to us.  The government has no role in the education of most of the wealthiest families in America.  That isn’t an opinion.  It is the truth.  The government does not tell private schooled children how to learn or what test to take.  Many have never considered that.  We debate the merits of common core, assuming it is something that all children must struggle through.  It isn’t. The wealthiest do not.  All the things that we public school parents struggle with (testing, learning by rote, more testing, et al) is something that private schools do not have to contend with.  It is only us…the working folks who cannot afford such schools who are subject to government style education.  And I want to be clear that I am not saying teachers in public schools are the “government”.  I feel the worst for them.  I have never met a teacher who wanted what we have now in public schools.  I am also not setting up a class divide argument or an us or a them.  What I am saying is that if Common Core was such a valuable tool, such a wonderful democratized method of education…don’t you think that the well funded private schools all across America would be using it?  Guess what?  They aren’t.  Case closed.
A comment I get a lot from concerned parents and even teachers is a retort to when I mention corporate and for profit interests.  Many people simply do not grasp the connection between Pearson Publishing and many other influences.  If you had to sum up what is happening in our schools in two words…here they are “profit motive”.  So let  me be clear, and just sound terribly off base when I say that you will not truly understand what is happening to public schools until you do your research and grasp that government sponsored education is now in the hands of business and for profit interests.  The best way to fight it is to not fight them at all.  But to create a system that does not include them.
Just as the wealthier among us do not have to fight the government or for profit interests when it comes to a quality education for their children…we deserve the same.  There has to be a better way to go about this.  And for this many children, I honestly don’t know how this will work.  Homeschooling and Unschooling can achieve this end, but only for a relative few.  But as a people we can’t leave behind children with parents who both work full time and cannot be at home with their children.
I hope that we see a new way to teach and learn in a more collaborative fashion.  Free from control by CEO’s.  I don’t want my daughter’s name on any sheet that indicates Profit/Loss statements and her school’s name on the top.  We all deserve education that is filled with the input of students, teachers and involved parents, not a corporation, not a politician.
Until then we can take steps.  We can refuse-flat out-to take tests.  We can refuse to allow Common Core in our schools.  And to draw a line in the sand…if you are not opting out…you are responsible for supporting the system that you wish did not exist.  If you want something to change, you have to do something first.  So, opt out at the end of this schoolyear.  Make it so my daughter isn’t the only one who is brave enough to do so here in our little town.
Check out what is happening in Guilford County, NC where they are suing the state over the abolishment of teacher tenure….and make it happen in your county too (if you are in NC).
If you agree…share this article.
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Lunch Petition, 3rd Report

So, one of my friends comes up to me a couple of days ago in the hallway. She hands me the petition back. I ask her, “Are they going to do anything about it?” And guess what her answer was:

No. We had a petition of students with 207 signatures on it, and (to their credit) it was the first thing that the committee talked about at their meeting, but they’re not going to change it at all.

So, what we figure right now is that either we run the petition through again and see if we get different results a second time, or we find something else to try.

What does everyone reading this think we can do here? Really, if you have an idea, please do comment.

Well, thanks for tuning in for this episode of “How Many Times Do We Have To Say This Before Someone Will Listen”! See you next time, on N.C. Ed. Network.

(The original petition post link, and the 2nd petition post link here!)

Zoe’s EOG Scores!…the results are in

Sorry to be so brief in this posting.  Like many of our readers I am a full time worker and a parent.  Days are long and I am typing this out at 12:15 AM.  I wanted to type out the whole story about the end result of Zoe refusing to take the EOG’s last year and how it affected things….but the following letter I just wrote should fill in most of the details.

I wrote the following letter to Tammy Howard, NCDPI’s Director of Accountability Services today….

Good morning Ms. Tammy Howard,

My daughter, Zoe Morris, opted out of the EOG’s for the 2013 school year at McDougle Middle School in Orange County.  To my knowledge she was the only student to actually do so in her district.
I had notified Nelson, the county testing coordinator months prior to this.  I did so to make sure that there would be no issues regarding what our rights were.  In the end, my daughter…who is a straight A student, was booted off of campus and we were told we were breaking the law.  I do not need to recount this all really…we both know how it played out.  The short version is that Zoe never took the test.
So I was quite surprised to discover the letter that came home regarding the NC Ready Student Report for School Year ending 2013.  According to this report Zoe took the test and scored a “1” for Reading and Mathematics.  Zoe is currently a straight A student who has been invited to take the SAT towards involvement in the Duke Talent Identification Program.
What I want to know from you is how your policy of running an untaken test as if it was taken supports what schools are about…education.   As you know, a score of “1” indicates a “limited command” in the subject areas of Math and Reading.
The ironic part of this though illustrates exactly why we are against how Common Core testing is being applied to students.  These tests cannot measure how well a student learns.  They will  never measure how well a teacher teaches her students.  Even if a student took the test and scored a 2 or a 3…it is no more indicative of their value than this falsified “1” is for my daughter.
I am not the typical hothead, nor a fanatic.  I just am a parent who is supporting his daughter in her repulsion for the Common Core, from top to bottom.  And yes, I do share her feelings.  I do not see a lot of good solutions here at the present moment, not for fans of the CCSS nor for the opponents.  It is all quite a mess at the moment and the tenure situation isn’t helping much either.
I do what I can though.  And what I can do is support my daughter in refusing to participate in agendas that she is ethically against.
I can also try to get straight answers out of adults who are meant to be held to a higher standard, especially when they are meant to be responsible as role models for students.  My daughter read this NC Ready report right along with me and realized the same thing I did.  This test result is completely false and only shows how testing is flawed when a student who did not take the test, still was graded as if they did.
My questions are as follows:
  • who made the decision to run the test as if it was taken…is this policy?
  • is there no testing provision yet made to illustrate “refused to take test”?
  • who in our state is the person who literally made the law that says every child must be tested?
  • now that my daughter was given a “1”, in error, how will this mistake be repaired on her record?
  • she is not taking the test again this year…what will happen then?  Will it be given a “1” again?
Thank you,
Charlie and Zoe
The Blue Hat Movement

Videos From L.A.

Here are two videos from L.A.

My favorite part of the fists one is the end of number 45, at about 7:30:00.

06-18-13RegularBd – Jun 18th, 2013.

Favorite part of this next one: about 5:34:20, Steven Zimmer talks passionately about class sizes and such.

http://lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

However, those are only very small parts of both videos; all of both are still absolutely worth watching!

Video: Parent Trigger Explained

Bah…it’s late and I am sleepy.  Zoe, Quinn and I worked hard on this video outlining what our sense of things is after researching the Parent Trigger as applied in the state of CA.  We read through reams of online pages.  And honestly, there are many sides to this issue…ahem…to this “law”.  It can be applied in ways that make sense.  But what the heck are corporations doing enacting laws regarding education.  If there isn’t a profit to be gleaned, by the very definition of Return On Investment (ROI), no corporation is going to support this kind of law without an expected return.  The ROI here is to turn your children, my children, our children into one of these:

$$$$$$

Children who legally must attend school are not a revenue stream for a public school.  The money that goes with each child to their school in the form of taxes barely covers costs because of what politician’s and elected officials do with it.  But for a corporation, for a corporate charter school system…children become a source of revenue.  A guaranteed source of revenue for 12 years per child.  Corporate America, it isn’t just for selling stuff anymore…now education is business.  How do you encourage parents to ‘see the light’ and put their children into a charter school run by a corporation?  One way is to put corporate money into a front that appears to be all about parental rights, while all along you are just getting them to help your company open up the schoolhouse doors for guaranteed revenue.  When we looked at the website for Parent Revolution and Parent Trigger we were all scratching our heads.  We were sitting there reading it and just flabbergasted.  It is so transparent that it makes no sense that anyone would believe it, let alone be duped into actually trusting it.  It’s a crazy world out there folks.

More Problems With Opting Out in NC

Around 2 days ago, we learned of another case of exactly what had happened to me (Zoe) when I tried to opt out, also in North Carolina. The girl in question was taken out of school because her principal told her that as long as she was in school, they had to test her; same story. About a minute or two ago, I sent an email to this girl’s mother about what I did and how to get out of it relatively cleanly. Below is the email, of course with the names taken out.

Also, and this is Zoe here, it doesn’t matter what the principal says. My principal also said that she would be required to test me. You know what I didn’t do? Care. What the school actually is required to do is give your daughter the test. ********, however, is not required to take it.
The thing is, ******** has to be strong enough in her beliefs about not taking the test so that when she is given the test, because she will be given the test, she can just sit there and not touch it. That is what I did. I was given the test, all right. There is no way that I know of to get out of that one. However, I wouldn’t touch it. I just sat there and wouldn’t even lift my pencil.
It doesn’t matter what the principal says she’ll do. ******** just has to be certain about what she’ll do when given that  test.

Thanks and good luck,
Zoe

It’s true. It doesn’t matter what the principal says they’ll do. It just matters that you know what you’ll do when given that test.

A Booklet, Protests, Gandhi, MLK and Education in the USA.

Plainly and simply I just want to encourage people to read this…

Booklet for Legislators

It is from Utah.  Put together by these FOLKS.  Why read it if you are not from Utah?  It is chock full of incredible information about what is happening with the Common Core…how it originated.  All of the answers to many of your questions can be found here.  It is Utah specific in some spots.  But really the overall agenda is a national one and it is made clear in this pamphlet written for Utah legislators.

Our Blue Hats are off to these men and women who are working so diligently.  They are super organized!

There is one thing I want to point out though.  It is a problem I have with many anti-common core movements.  It is here, in this quote from the booklet…

“Representing thousands of Utahans, we implore you as legislators to try
freedom. Release school districts from education mandates and let them adopt
whatever high standards they want to set for the children in their care. It’s not
too late to protect Utah and preserve local control of education.”

The problem that I have?  Too many movements are still asking for freedom instead of just reclaiming it.  I hate to sound like an agitator.  But when someone seeks to remove your freedom without asking you…they aren’t likely to ever give it back because you asked nicely.  I asked my local school to let my daughter opt out of standardized testing that was Common Core aligned and they said we were breaking the law.  I  asked nicely more than once…they said no.  Finally…we just behaved within our freedoms, our moral freedoms, and they had to concede.  Gandhi didn’t ask for Britain to leave India alone.  Martin Luther King Jr, didn’t say “please”.  These men led people towards retaking their rightful freedoms and without untold numbers of people being willing to stand up for what was right and not what was “legal”….nothing would have ever changed.  We have a moral imperative to behave in a way that is ethical, peaceful…and that protects the education of our children.  Asking permission to do so, asking for legislators to look out for us AFTER they have sold us down the river, isn’t likely to work.  Parents and teachers and schools must have a coordinated, peaceful, respectful but firm complete shunning of what is NOT working and damn the protests and lamentations of those passing down CCSI on our schools.

Taking back our schools isn’t defiant of us.  It is just returning things to how they were before they began trying to control everything.  What we need, is a new way to stage protests and actions where teachers will not lose their jobs for teaching in ways that are appropriate, creative, and educationally rich.  To be clear, I do find merit in asking and going through appropriate channels.  But at this late stage in the game, a whole new field is required before all is lost.  That is my ten cents worth this evening…

(please forgive any typos…tis late and I am weary!)

-Charlie