MADISON, Wisc. – Wisconsinites have been censured, silenced, and threatened by school board members who protect a political agenda rather than serve the people who elect them.
Although Wisconsin’s state statutes are intended to assure citizens the right to determine the academic standards taught in their schools, state laws have been ignored by school board members who abuse the rights of their fellow board members and of citizens.
When Kewaskum School Board member Grace Mueller requested information about the other side of the Common Core issue, fellow school board members asked her to resign. Board members who refuse to hear concerns about Common Core are protecting a political ideology while Americans lose their freedoms.
Wisconsinites who refuse to be intimidated are protecting the right of each citizen to participant in local control of schools. Because education has become politicized, many school board members are determined to silence the other side.
The Lammars from Oostburg, Wisconsin, represent many citizens who develop a positive working relationship with school officials only to learn that political ideologies are more valuable to these educational leaders than protecting the rights of the electorate.
When the Lammars requested time during a school board meeting to express some concerns about Common Core, the school board refused to allow them to make that information available—a direct violation of state statutes governing local-control of schools.
Determined, The Lammars ran radio and newspaper ads promoting an event to discuss the issue and soon learned that a school district official had contacted that venue and stopped the presentation from being held.
After several ambushed attempts, the Lammars held the event at a private residence.
Thanks to determined citizens like the Lammars, the American public is learning about the federalization of education through implementation of Common Core.
Some state educational leaders have suggested threatening parents with a call to Child Protective Services if they opt their kids out of Common Core curricula or testing. They would charge these parents with “educational neglect.”
When the federal government gets involved in education, the issue is no longer what is best for children but who is on the winning team. Team mascots are typically donkeys and elephants.
Citizens do not have to tolerate this abuse. Newly elected school board members are often given The Key Work of School Boards Guidebook. Written by the National School Board Association in 2009, the book encourages board members to “articulate values such as respect for others, civility, integrity, and inclusion.”
The guidebook explains that the board must foster long-term collaborative relationships, inside and outside the school system. It recommends maintaining good relations with stakeholders and collaboration when people come together to achieve solutions to problems. Citizens need to make certain that collaboration includes views of opponents.
Therefore, parents and school board members should obtain the materials used to prepare their local school board members and find the areas that apply to their concern. Citizens can write to their state association of school boards and identify ways that a local school board is not meeting these requirements.
Most likely, the state board will say that they give legal advice to school boards only –not to the public. This good sign means that there is a probable legal issue. The state board will likely remind the local school board members of their legal responsibility to their constituents.
If writing to your state school board association does not provide a solution, contact an attorney who specializes in Constitutional law. Advocates for Academic Freedom works with Attorney Jeff Scott Olson who explains that the law might permit a successful suit under the First Amendment, but there is certainly no guarantee of a quick result. He says, “Anyone who had been kept from speaking could be a prospective plaintiff.” Sometimes, a simple notification from such an attorney will solve the problem for a relatively minimal cost.
Elected officials must feel responsible to the entire electorate. To remain a free society, all citizens must have as much respect for the freedoms of others as they have for their own freedoms.
Most bullies back down and adopt more acceptable behavior once confronted. These issues are too important for citizens to remain silent or to allow their freedoms to be undermined. Citizens who refuse or neglect to spend the energy, time, or money needed to protect their freedoms can expect to lose those freedoms.