Is An Education-World War Coming?
World War I started, really, because Austria-Hungary wanted to stop the Serbian movement to create a Greater Serbia. They were planning to invade the country to make it part of their empire. There were many nation state alliances in play at the time which ultimately drew “the world” into the conflict. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was just the spark that set the inevitable war into motion.
The modern field of education is similarly full of power players and alliances, all vying for ultimate power over the next generation and wealth from a government monopolized business. Parents, school districts, legislatures, USDE, textbook suppliers, and big tech are all struggling to see who controls the world of education. And things are really heating up. Is the most recent filing of a libel lawsuit by a curriculum supplier against an individual parent, who spoke publicly about his opinion of the quality of the curriculum, the spark that will ignite a full Education World War?
Mathematics Vision Project (MVP Math) is suing a Wake County North Carolina parent, Blain Dillard, for “libel and slander” and “tortious interference with business relations” after he publicly criticized the MVP math program and organized parents to get the district to stop using it. MVP Math was designed to teach Common Core math standards. The company claims that the Dillard’s comments were “intentional interference” with company business.
It is true that his comments could interfere with company business, much like those who complained about the unrestricted discharge of feces, oils, solvents and industrial chemicals into the Rouge River in Detroit, interfered with the business of the oil companies along the river banks. Those people were labeled anti-progress wackos, but their complaints were accurate.
“I am innocent of all allegations and can defend each and every point made in the summons,” Dillard said in a statement. “This is an attempt at intimidation and bullying to silence me and other parents’ free speech advocating for our children’s education.”
You can read here about North Carolina parents who are having to hire tutors to teach their children, who had previously excelled in math, the math the Wake County School District is supposedly teaching with MVP. Children are feeling frustrated and depressed by this program, which shifted from direct instruction and formula memorization (both with solid research behind them) to a program which focused on group exploration of math questions and teacher facilitation of those discussions. Lower or failing grades have ensued. A review panel formed by the district, and stacked with MVP supporters but not one math degreed person (only math education degreed people), returned, unsurprisingly, a recommendation to give the implementation more time. It’s always the fault of implementation, never the program/curriculum itself.
The lawsuit story is one of many news stories (here, here and here) about parents advocating in their districts for different curriculum or pedagogy, who are being marginalized or bullied by other power seekers in education. They are part of a movement seeking Greater Parental Control and the education machine wants to shut that nonsense down.
Comments like this, from a digital curriculum supplier (Summit Learning) chief executive regarding parent protests in Kansas City against using their software because it was “turning kids into zombies”, are proof that the goal is not happy, well educated kids, it’s money. Ms. Tavenner referred to the parent protests as “largely about nostalgia,” dismissing parent complaints of kids with headaches, hand cramps, anxiety and a dread of going to school with a Marie Antoinette-esque nonchalance.
The message to parents in MVP’s lawsuit is, “You have no say in what we are going to do to your children. Speak up and we will destroy you.”
When an education business goes after an individual parent for claims about the effects of its product on children, claims which can easily be proved true, in an effort to save its contract with the school district, we may be witnessing the newest assassination attempt that could spark an all-out war in public schools over who has the ultimate say about what happens inside the buildings and to the children.