Sunday, 06 April 2014

Mother Who Opposed Common Core Suspended From Son's School

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The Mark Twain School in Sacramento has suspended the mother of a 12-year old student from the school grounds following a disagreement with the school over the impending Common Core Standards. The mother, Katherine Duran, was served the 14-day suspension at her home by Sacramento police.

Common Core State Standards Initiative is the official name of the scholastic standards copyrighted by the Washington, D.C.-based National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

The Blaze reported last week, “The two week suspension was reportedly triggered after the officials charged that Katherine Duran was ‘disrupting the school.’ When asked to clarify what Duran’s disruption was, Gabe Ross, a spokesperson for the school district, told the media, ‘It appears she went a little too far with regards to how she distributed information at school sites, distributing information to children directly.’”

Duran denies these allegations, asserting she did not provide any materials directly to students.

The school district later admitted that the statement by Ross was in fact false. It was Katherine Duran's son Christopher who had distributed the “opt out” forms.

After Duran had signed the “opt-out” forms, she provided additional ones to her son and encouraged him to hand them out to his friends to take home to their parents.

The “Opt-Out” form references California Education Code 51513, 60614, 60615, and 20 U.S.C 1231 (h), and asks that the child be exempted from the following:

1. Taking any and all statewide performance assessments, including but not by way of limitation to, academic, achievement and annual tests, and Common Core interim and formative assessments

2. The administration of any test, questionnaire, survey, examination or evaluation, containing any questions or items relative to my child, or my personal beliefs or practices or practices in sex, family life, morality, or religion

3. The administration of any test, examination, or assessment as part of a statewide pupil assessment program relative to my child, or my personal beliefs or practices in sex, family life, morality or religion, or any question designed to evaluate personal behavioral characteristics, including, but not limited to, honesty, integrity, sociability or self-esteem

4. The administration or any survey, analysis or evaluation that reveals: (1) political affiliations or beliefs of my child or me, my family, neighbors or friends; (2) mental or psychological problems of my child or his or her family; 930 sexual behavior or attitudes; (4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; (5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; (6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships such as those of lawyers, physicians and ministers; (7) religious practices, affiliations or beliefs of my child or me, or (8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program)

When the school discovered what Christopher was doing and took the forms from him, Katherine then confronted the principal. The school states that it was her visit with the principal that prompted the suspension.

Duran’s recounting of the confrontation does not seem to show a compelling reason for the school to suspend her.

According to Duran, the principal grew agitated and called her “opt-out” forms “inappropriate.” When Duran attempted to pick her forms up from the principal’s desk, the principal, Duran recalls, “slammed my hand down on top of those letters and said, ‘No, they’re not yours anymore; you left them here.’”

The school sent police to the Durans’ home with a threatening note warning of a possible arrest and a notice of a two-week “Withdrawal of Consent.” The note reads:

Further disruption of classroom or school activities, disturbance of school employees, or failure to comply with this letter may result in a misdemeanor and subject you to arrest. In addition, the District will consider further lawful proceedings, such as obtaining a temporary restraining order and other civil action to maintain safety and order on campus. The District will seek reimbursement for attorney costs the courts may impose.

Duran’s son Christopher, upon learning the news, told KXTV, “I was outraged.” He indicates that though his mother influenced his decision to bring the forms to school, his actions were completely voluntary.

“I wanted to pass out these forms so that the students could give them to their parents,” Christopher told KXTV.

The school’s response to Katherine’s seemingly peaceful resistance to the highly controversial Common Core Standards is a frightening one reminiscent of George Orwell's 1945 book, Animal Farm, in which dissenters’ voices are drowned out by the louder voices of the authoritative powers. 

It is the most blatant effort to quell opposition to Common Core seen to date.

Katherine had the last laugh, however, wrote the Daily Caller: “Katherine Duran took the lemons of the police visit and made lemonade by sending the officer who dropped by her home away with a few opt-out forms for his children.”

Katherine Duran’s efforts to stop Common Core are just one of many seen across the country as parents are becoming frustrated with the adoption of the standards.

In fact, Duran is not alone in her battle against her son’s school district. She belongs to the “Concerned Parents of Elk Grove,” whose Facebook Page indicates that members are “parents, educators, and concerned citizens who care deeply about the quality of our children’s education in the Elk Grove Unified School District.” The page notes that they are “particularly concerned about the Common Core Standards and how they will impact our children.”

Common Core has come under significant fire from parents, teachers, and school administrators across the country this year, who declare that the standards are a bid by the federal government to take over the education system. Additionally, privacy advocates have voiced concerns over the distribution to contractors of personally identifiable information about students and their families.

According to Joy Pullman, an education expert for the Heartland Institute, Duran’s reaction is not a unique one, as the opposition to Common Core is particularly “huge among mothers.”

“Common Core opposition is so completely grassroots, and support is so astroturf,” Pullman explains. “It is already becoming a primary and general election issue in everything from local school board races to gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.”

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