Have you ever been at one of those meetings where you can't believe what you're hearing? When one person speaks and no one seems to have heard what they said? That was the school board meeting last night.
The first item on the agenda was recognition for the Capital High state football championship(GO BRUINS!). But, the team didn't show up. What?!!- they didn't show up. 3 kids were there and the coach- and these kids did not include the quarterback. I remember when my daughter's soccer team won State- they were so proud-they were all there at the board meeting to be recognized. What's going on? Then the coach said- this sounds unbelievable- that he "chest bumped" the principal! He laughed but I certainly did not get a funny picture in my mind.
Well, on we go. Then they asked for public comment on consent items-but they didn't say what these were so they passed unanimously with no comments. The boy scouts were there to see "democracy in action", some democracy! I looked through my materials and I think the consent action items may have been the 403(b) HEART amendment which had to do with benefits for employees absent because of military service and a plan termination which was eliminating all the extra benefits for our wonderful superintendent who has fortunately moved on to Boulder.Wow, it took some looking to find these, they were stapled to the back of the agenda behind minutes from 6 previous meetings. What if this had been something seriously objectionable. Too bad, moment has passed, on we go. Democracy?
The next item was the transportation bid update. The man presenting explained very carefully why we don't need seat belts on these huge busses 1) the weight of the bus 2) the shape of the bus and the seats are specifically designed for incredible safety 3) the information from ADVOCATES OF SEAT BELTS points out that they saved 2 lives (maybe) out of TWENTY SIX MILLION STUDENTS TRANSPORTED TWICE A DAY NATION WIDE. Students were safer in the bus than outside of it. He went on to explain many things. There is no Montana law but if we put in seat belts than ALL THE FEDERAL REGULATIONS kick in. In other words, EVERY CHILD UNDER 60 POUNDS WILL NEED A CAR SEAT! That is approximately every child until at least 3rd grade! He went on about the cost and that these will have to be shoulder harnesses. Our school board immediately began to discuss- and of course they just love the idea of seat belts- what liberal would ever turn away from a chance to control and regulate? Regulations are always a good thing aren't they? So- without a vote they directed this man to look for a bid WITH SEAT BELTS. He explained to them that you can't just ask for it and then restart the whole bidding process when you realize how expensive and cumbersome this is going to be. Can't you just see our bus drivers out there with a scale to make sure he's in compliance with the car seats? Of course he'll have to make sure they're all buckled in (Liability). What will the time frame be on this? Another half hour of instruction time lost because bus riders will be late? I guess breakfast at Bryant will have to be delayed until the bus riders get there. Will there be ANY TIME to teach before first recess? Well, why worry about such a pesky thing as instruction time. On we go. I wonder why we're below state average in math at every grade level?
The next item on the agenda was COMMON CORE STANDARDS. You see, everyone in the WORLD- I'm not just making this up- is going to learn the same things!! And in case your wondering-according to the presenter- this is NOT a national thing!! It's a state thing! REALLY?? How can that be if they're all going to be the same? IS THERE SOME MIND READING GOING ON HERE? Well apparently thirty six states are already on this bandwagon and of course Denise Juneau(our state superintendent) just couldn't wait to sign Montana up. Why do people vote for Democrats? Let's vote for a Republican next time and get some INDEPENDENT THINKING. So according to the curriculum director- there will be no need for teachers to be on curriculum committees anymore because the curriculum will be done for them. Just think of that, nameless bureaucrats in Washington and at the U.N. deciding what we will teach in Helena, Montana! She gave the example of Finland- if our students go there they will know everything because everyone will be teaching the same thing! But wait a minute, don't they speak Finnish in Finland? Won't they learn to read and spell and do grammar in Finnish? Will they really be interested in learning Montana History? Won't they be learning English as a second language? They don't use feet, inches, or pounds so will they be learning that anyway? Will they be learning all about our buffalo and elk on the plains or will they be learning more about their natural habitat by the sea? They could put all of this into every curriculum but we're having some real trouble teaching what we have now! Twenty five percent of our kids aren't even making it to graduation.
CORE STANDARDS, of course, will be heavy in across grade level collaboration and critical thinking. Let's talk about critical thinking first. To be flip about it- if our little kids could critically think they wouldn't believe in Santa Clause! But seriously, little children are not just miniature adults. Besides, they need to learn their letter sounds first so they can blend them into words and then maybe be able to read something so they have some information to think critically with. Otherwise, guess what?- They'll critically think what the teacher wants them to think- they'll be propagandized. The across grade level collaboration is just another way to take the control of the classroom and curriculum out of the teachers hands. He/She is responsible for kids performance on tests but has no control over the teaching. Good teachers get to use their own teaching style and creativity. Under these new programs our teachers' independence and passion is being buried!
If this was just one of those boring office meetings with the jokers we could laugh it off. But this is our kids and the future of this nation. Core Standards has effectively inserted an I.V. (to use medical terminology) into the veins of our school system and can now pump in any garbage and propaganda they want to fill our kids' heads with. It's really time for all of us to vote for board members that "get to the meeting" i.e. think and use their common sense and independent thought.