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School boards must choose a master: parents or the federal government

School boards must choose a master: parents or the federal government

Wayne Hoffman
October 16, 2015

Idaho school board members will need to decide next month who they work for: parents and students, or the federal government. The answer should be obvious, but a recent resolution approved by the Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA) executive committee would favor the federal government and its newest education schemes rather than kids and their families. The committee approved a resolution opting to “hold at bay any expansion of parental rights” in education as contemplated by a bill that passed the Legislature earlier this year. The resolution, offered up by the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District, will be voted on at the association’s annual meeting Nov. 11 in Coeur d’Alene.

The organization’s executive director, Karen Echeverria, told IdahoReporter.com that giving parents authority over their children’s education could put school districts at odds with federal mandates, including testing requirements that are part of Common Core. Parents are calling their school districts, asking to take their kids out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

“What is a school district to do?” Echeverria asks. “We’re going to have to breach one and comply with the other.” The resolution calls for the ISBA to tabulate instances in which aggrieved parents ask to exercise parental authority over their children’s education.

Mila Wood, a parent from Canyon County, has a pretty good idea: side with the parents. “To find out this private trade group wants parents to have less of a voice in their child’s education and privacy protection, it makes me sad.”

She points out that parents would probably be disappointed to know that their money—funding that otherwise would be used in the classroom—is instead being diverted to mount a lobbying campaign to block parents from having a say in their children’s education.

Wood’s point is paramount, and it requires us to take a closer look at what’s fueling ISBA and its policy engine: The ISBA is made up of Idaho school board members who are elected by voters in Idaho school districts. Many of those voters are parents. Many of these parents have kids who attend schools in ISBA-member districts. The ISBA gets its money from Idaho school districts, and school districts get their money from taxpayers. Therefore, the notion that ISBA is siding with the federal government instead of parents ought to put people in a tizzy. The ISBA is contemplating using your own money to “hold at bay” your rights as parents.

In gargantuan special interest vortex that is Education, Inc., there are plenty of organizations aligning with and fighting for the status quo in education. This status quo often includes support for top-down mandates driven by faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., aided and abetted by either rudderless or spineless state government officials who don’t want to piss off labor union bosses, or who worry what textbook makers, software companies might do, say, think or where they might donate campaign money.

School boards, being truly the government closest to the people, ought to be the ones who take a stand in defense of parents, in support of locally-driven education, in support of the right of parents to make decisions regarding their kids’ education. School boards either represent parents and taxpayers, or they represent the federal government and the federal bureaucracy. We’ll now find which next month.

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