Over the last few years, I’ve taken note of a trend in our public education system. That trend mimics the federal government on a number of levels.
These levels include, but are not limited to:
- Disintegrating transparency; not just at the local or state board levels, but also right at the parent-teacher level
- The rapid erosion of Parental Rights in the realm of public education
- Increasingly labyrinthine organizational structure at both the local and state levels
- More and more ‘social’ related programs pushing out instruction time on essential courses like reading, math, science and history
- Rising budgets and lowering ROI’s
- An explosion in administrative staffing bloat
- Monetizing our kids and turning them into data sets to be studied
- The explosion of ‘education non-profits’ whose funding is often spent circumventing parents and voters in order to influence legislation — because it’s for the kids!
Has our education system become the Post Office? I say yes.
I’d like to go back to the first point above — “disintegrating transparency”.
As a blogger and free-lance news journalist, I am used to filing Freedom of Information Act Requests, emailing officials for comment or documents and having to dig for sometimes what should be very basic, easily located information.
My digging, especially on Common Core and issues related to parental rights, has led parents in North Carolina to seek me out for help in finding information. I used to get a few of emails and a requests here and there, but lately, my inbox is on fire with parents who can’t get a straight answer from education officials they talk to.
An recent example would be a Mom from the Triangle area who wanted an answer to what is the question: What is the opt-out policy for testing in North Carolina and what is the legal foundation for it?
The school told her to refer to the State Board. So she asked.
The response came back from the State Board’s attorney, which in part said:
“The State Board Attorney’s Office does not give legal advise or information to the public. You will need to address your concerns and questions directly to the Wake County Public School System’s Board of Education. In the alternative, you may wish to obtain the services of your own private attorney.”
The mom moved on to Wake County Schools attorney. The answer was nearly the same:
Thank you for your email. Our firm does represent the Wake County Public School System (“WCPSS”). However, due to legal, ethical, and professional obligations we cannot offer advice or analysis about WCPSS legal matters to third parties. You can certainly submit your questions to staff in the WCPSS Communications Department.
Frustrated, she forwarded her request as the Wake attorney recommended. Then, she turned to me for help.
I hit Twitter, knowing that the WCPSS account is very responsive — and we got our answer quicker than inquiring through ‘official channels’.
@LadyLiberty1885 We are required to abide by state law (G.S. §115C-549) and state BOE policy. No local policy exists on this topic.
— Wake County Schools (@WCPSS) April 29, 2015
This is just one example of one parent having to chase all over the place to get an answer to a question.
The school couldn’t or wouldn’t help her – perhaps they have been told to refer people to the State Board, who knows?
The State Board bounced her to the Local District, who then bounced her to the local district communications department.
Ultimately, it was a blogger who pinned it down.
The parent was shuffled down the line like a letter on a Post Office conveyer belt until a regular citizen rescued them.