MSIP (Missouri School Improvement Plan) is the process by which public schools in our state are evaluated for accreditation and the need for state level intervention. DESE is about to revised the evaluation requirements in MSIP-6. There is a rubric in these proposed changes that we want to draw your attention to and ask that you consider providing DESE with your comments.

The public comment period for MSIP 6 expires tomorrow, Saturday, August 31st. To comment, go to https://dese.mo.gov/msip-6-standards-and-indicators.

There is a standard in the proposed rubric, EA4, paragraph D,  that is vaguely written and could be used to justify the inclusion of programming or curriculum on a broad spectrum of values and attitudes. The standard reads as follows:

The school system safeguards and promotes the values of democracy, individual freedom and responsibility, equity, social justice, community, and diversity.

PROBLEM
The above language is directly lifted from 2015 standards adopted by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration — a non-governmental 501(c)(3) organization. NPBEA’s 2016 990 describes its mission as, “PROVIDE A FORUM FOR COLLABORATIVE ACTIONS BY ORGANIZATIONS INTERESTED IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCHOOL AND SCHOOL-SYSTEM LEADERSHIP.” This NGO, unanswerable to the public, is providing language for state agencies to cut and paste into their own policies.

The problem with the above standard is that there is no definition of the terms included in it. For example, while the public might recognize the term democracy, social re-constructionists in school bureaucracies might not define it as a tool in our republican form of government, as most conservatives do. Instead, the emphasis on a democracy can be interpreted to promote “one person, one vote” which the “left” would use to undermine representative government and state sovereignty. 

The term social justice is another one that has no consistent community definition. In some cases it is simply a tool for getting an outcome that you can’t get through normal proscribed procedures. Some people might call that vigilante justice.

And diversity is a term fraught with multiple meanings which could be used to justify the NEA’s recent Assembly Actions relating to transgender inclusivity. From the Report to the Representative Assembly of the NEA 7/4-7/19:

“NEA shall, using existing digital media, have all state and local affiliates encourage K-12 teachers to view a series of films called Creating Gender Inclusive Schools and use the accompanying study guides of the Youth and Gender Media Project ( youthandgendermediaproject.org) to create inclusive communities for all youth, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of gender identity and expression (2018-11).”

In the Youth And Gender Media Project sited above you find language that fits perfectly under the vague standard proposed by DESE.

“And the good news is that gender inclusion work intersects beautifully with all the other work that needs to be done to embrace and celebrate diversity. We look forward to supporting and hearing from you as you join us on this fascinating and fun journey around re-defining gender for the 21st century.”

One of the biggest problems with the standard we have highlighted is that it effectively eliminates local parent and taxpayer input from public discourse because districts will suffer poor accreditation ratings if they do not comply with the standard.

HISTORY
The document reports that the Council of Chief State School Officers (organization of state commissioners of education) and the National School Boards Association (organization of local boards of education) were members of this organization at the time of its publication; they are also non-governmental organizations funded by the elitist foundations that brought us the Common Core State Standards. More specifically, like the Common Core State Standards, the proposed MSIP 6 standard was NOT written by the people of Missouri. It is promoted by a leftist academic, Mark A. Smylie, who was at the University of Illinois Chicago and directed a project to analyze the effects of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a grant program for Chicago Public Schools chaired by Barack Obama that failed spectacularly. Smylie was curator of the papers of the CAC, some of which have been made unavailable to external researchers.

QUESTIONABLE LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR EA4 para. D
The fact is, the standard is designed from the perspective of social reconstruction theorists, who promote schools as the transformers of society and circumvent the role of parents in the transmission of family, traditions, values and moral codes. The Missouri Constitution Article IX Section 1(a) and HB 1490, the statute pertaining to content taught in schools, do not authorize the State Board of Education or the Department of Education to usurp the rights and liberties of the people through district accreditation standards or to use schools for teaching anything other than the specified academic content of English language arts; mathematics; science; and history and governments. In other words, districts should not be evaluated on compliance with a standard that usurps Missourians constitutionally protected religious freedom and liberty of conscience.

CALL TO ACTION
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently receiving comments to the Proposed Rule for the Missouri School Improvement Program 6 (“MSIP 6”). Please consider the implication of EA4 para. D. If you agree its language negatively effects parent authority and local control, submit a comment to DESE by tomorrow, Saturday, August 31.

To comment, go to https://dese.mo.gov/msip-6-standards-and-indicators. It would take just a few minutes.  You can go right to the specific section to which you’d like to make your own comments.  The more people from whom DESE hears, the more likely they will be to remove the standard. 

Thanks to Dr. Mary Byrne for her research on this important topic and significant contributions to this post.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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