I apologize to all of my readers for my recent absence. Life has thrown me some curve balls and I feel that my efforts right now are needed in the fight against Common Core. It's not a fight that I ever thought I would find myself in the middle of but here I am. I have a lot of issues with Common Core but I am not going to go into those today. What I want to talk about today is how schools are trying to strip parents of their rights over their children. We keep seeing stories across the country of this very thing but what I never thought was that it could happen to me. But it did.
As parents, my husband and I talked and we have been very cautious with the programs that our children are participating in at school, particularly in regards to their health. We take them to the doctor regularly. We know how much they weigh. We know how tall they are. We take them to the dentist so they don't need the school to check their teeth. We, as their parents, are on top of these things. Medical data, in my opinion, is very private and we just prefer these things be kept between our children and their physicians. No big deal, right?! So I sent in an opt out form 2 weeks ago to prohibit my children from participating in the BMI screening that is now done a couple of times a year in gym class. We allowed them to do the physical aspects of the fitness test but just requested that they not be weighed or measured. The school principal called me back and while he was still trying to convince me not to opt out, he advised that the school respected my request and my kids would not have to participate. The time came in gym class for this to take place, and as expected, my children were skipped over and all was well.
In the meantime, I also have a multitude of issues with standardized tests. Again, my husband and I felt that it was in the best interest of our children to not be subjected to these tests so we chose to join the opt out movement. I again sent in a formal request for my children to be opted out of both the OAA's and the PARCC pilot exams that are coming up. After sending in the opt out forms, I contacted the superintendent, the principal and my children's teachers to ask what we could expect for my children on testing day. Would they be allowed to go to the library to read? Will they have something they can work on? I waited for several days on a response but still did not hear back.
Fast forward to this week. Tuesday night we hosted Dr. Terrence Moore here in our area and he spoke to a packed house on the dangers of Common Core. I awoke yesterday morning, and my life had been turned upside down. I received a letter from our superintendent telling me that I could NOT opt my children out of the standardized tests. He based this on Ohio law and advised that he had taken advice from the school attorneys on the matter and this was where he based his stance. I have attached the letter below so that you can see exactly what I received.
As if this was not bad enough, telling ME, a mother, that I have no RIGHT to choose this path for my children, what came next was unbelievable.
My kids came off the bus yesterday very upset. The superintendent had came to their school and my kids were singled out in gym class and forced to step on a scale to be weighed and measured, even though this had already been done in the class last week and my kids were opted out. I was never called. Never notified. My rights as a parent were violated. My kids rights to privacy were violated. And I am TICKED! I tried calling the principal but was told he was on the phone so I hopped in my car and drove straight there. What I was met with was unbelievably childish. Basically I was told by the principal that I am not his boss. They don't take orders from me. He gets his orders from HIS boss, the superintendent, and based on the letter that the superintendent had sent to me earlier in the day, they had voided my opt out forms and they were no longer applicable. What they did was take away MY rights to MY children. The Supreme Court has always held that parents have the supreme authority over their children in EVERY aspect of their lives, including education so how did this happen?
My job as a mother carries many titles but protector is the most important to me. When I see my children in harms way, it is instinct for me to do whatever I need to do to protect them from that harm. Isn't that the job of every parent? To protect our children? So what happens when our right to protect them as we see fit is taken away from us?
I am not going to lie. I feel like I went to sleep and woke up in a nightmare in another country. Surely I am no longer in America if I am being told that I do not have the RIGHT to parent my children as I see fit. Parental rights are being stripped away from us, right before our eyes, and we didn't even see it coming. I held it together all day yesterday. Right up until bedtime that is. When I looked at the faces of my 4 innocent children, for the first time in my life as a Mom, I felt helpless and I felt fearful for them. My 10 year old daughter asked me if they had to go to school today because she was afraid that they would be singled out again and humiliated in front of their peers. And for the first time in a long time, I was no longer able to hold it together. My husband held me as I sobbed into his chest, unable to hold back the emotions that I had been trying to suppress for so long. My heart hurt. Not just for my kids but for all of our kids. If this can happen to ME, it can happen to YOU! Don't think for a minute that it can't. I never imagined it would happen so close to home and could have never prepared myself for the emotions that I feel every time I read that letter telling me that I don't have a right to do what's best for my children. Every time I think about my kids being called out in that gym class, taken to that scale, my blood boils because at that moment, my job as my children's protector was stripped away from me and there was nothing I could do about it.
In the evenings, I sit down with my 8 year old son who is in the 3rd grade and often times, we end up with a box of tissues next to us to dry his tears because he is frustrated and he is confused by the "new math" methods that we are teaching. It is sad when I, a college educated parent, cannot help my child with his homework in the 3RD GRADE! When I sent in emails to the school asking about the things that we were seeing, I was told that my email inquiries were "borderline harassment."
What are we doing to our children? How can we sleep at night knowing that this is going on? It doesn't matter if you are for or against Common Core. This is about parental rights. God help us all because I'm afraid this has only just begun. Oh how it hurt my heart to send my kids out the door to school today. As I sit here typing, tears continue to pour down my face. My children are not human capital. They are kids. They have souls. They have hearts. They think for themselves. They are unique. And they are MINE! My kids do not belong to the state. They do not belong to the government. They do not belong to their school. They belong to ME and I will continue fighting to make sure that NO Mom or Dad ever has to go through what I have been put through because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.