Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Parental Rights in the Kingdom of Colorado

Things are brewing here in Colorado – or should I say boiling. The events over the last few months have been an eye opener to say the least.

We can begin with the petition I sent out this fall.  This petition spoke to the negative effects of high stakes testing and has received close to 4,000 signatures.  The petition states:  Colorado school children are spending too much time on standardized tests and not enough time learning. These tests do nothing to actually help the students who take them. Worse yet, politicians are using the results of these tests to justify deep budget cuts for public schools and to punish good teachers. It's time to end the era of high-stakes standardized tests in Colorado. We, the undersigned, demand that the era of high-stakes standardized tests in Colorado must end immediately.

We thought Governor Hickenlooper might be interested in this petition.  I had planned to hand deliver it to him.

We also thought he might like to learn about the parental rights bill (HB12-1049) introduced in this state legislature session titled:  Parental Rights Regarding Statewide Ed. Assessment. The bill summary states: The bill prohibits a public school from penalizing a student whose  parent does not allow the student to take all or part of a statewide student  assessment.  Further, the department of education shall not lower a public school's attainment level on the accreditation performance indicators or otherwise penalize a public school due to a parent's refusal to allow his or her child to participate in statewide student assessments.

We wanted to share a second bill which reduces state testing and increases preschool funding.  HB12-1091 summary states:  The bill removes the provisions of the Colorado student assessment program that require the department of education (department) to administer statewide assessments in certain subject matters to students in certain grades. Statewide assessments administered by the department shall not exceed federal requirements for the administration of assessments of students. The bill states that for the 2012-13 budget year and for each budget year thereafter, the general assembly intends to appropriate to the department, for the purposes of the Colorado preschool program, the general fund savings realized in implementing the provisions of the bill.

It seemed the right time to request a meeting with Governor Hickenlooper.  So we did.  He works for us - right?

The request for the meeting simply stated:  We would like to meet with the Governor regarding upcoming education policies, budget priorities, and concerns regarding children and education. During this time, we'd like to present a petition with more than 4,000 signatures from parents across Colorado requesting a reduction in state testing. While I've listed a date and time according to the required fields, we will accommodate a meeting at any date or time within the next two months. It is important that we meet directly with the Governor. Thank you.

The sponsors for this meeting included: Uniting4Kids and the Coalition for Better Education.

Yet, Hickenlooper declined the meeting.

I received this email from Angela Engel of Uniting 4 Kids:

I thought I'd just let you know that Governor Hickenlooper declined to meet with parents. The proposed meeting date and time was open ended so this is a clear refusal to hear to the concerns of parents. Education decisions will continue to be made by those working outside of education - big business and government. Please inform your members that the request for 50 parents to meet with our Governor for 30 minutes, was denied.

Thank you,

Funny how the state of Colorado feels more like a kingdom than a democratic state built on democratic values.  I am exaggerating?  I don’t think so.

So, let me continue….

Recently I wrote a blog about Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools.  Tom Boasberg lives in Boulder. His kids go to school in Boulder.  Yet, he represents and serves the children of Denver.

David Sirota writes, “Boasberg, you see, refuses to live in the district that he governs. Though having no background in education administration, this longtime telecom executive used his connections to get appointed Denver superintendent, and he now acts like a king. From the confines of his distant castle in Boulder, he issues edicts to his low-income fiefdom — decrees demonizing teachers, shutting down neighborhood schools over community objections and promoting privately administered charter schools. Meanwhile, he makes sure his own royal family is insulated in a wealthy district that doesn’t experience his destructive policies.”

If you are unfamiliar with Boulder, here’s a brief synopsis from my previous blog on Boasberg:
NeighborhoodScout has the following to say about Boulder: "Boulder home prices are not only among the most expensive in Colorado, but Boulder real estate also consistently ranks among the most expensive in America. Boulder is a decidedly white-collar city, with fully 90.59% of the workforce employed in white-collar jobs, well above the national average."

Boasberg and Hickenlooper have something in common. You see, Hickenlooper is also a millionaire with a net worth estimated between five and ten million.  

It seems that Governor Hickenlooper is as detached from his constituents as Boasberg. He has declined to meet with parents – when the meeting time and date were left open and flexible to meet his needs.  What about our needs? 

I wonder what it will take to turn the tide on the corporate kingdom ruling our state?

I, for one, am not waiting around to bow down to Hickenlooper, Boasberg, or any of the millionaires running our state with little understanding of the needs of the 99%.

The politicians.  The leaders.  The media.  Have. Been. Bought.

Would you like to regain some of your parental rights – or better yet – let’s restate that – there’s no need to regain them, they’ve always been there. We simply trusted, while unknowingly, decisions were being made to dismantle our democracy.  We need to reclaim what is ours.

Start here. 

Sign the petition.

Support the Parental Rights bill

Support the bill to reduce state testing and increase preschool funding.

And begin to use your voice.

The petition and the bills are the catalyst to allow us to regain what is rightfully ours.  The governor and the superintendent work for us; we are the taxpayers paying their salaries.  Don’t forget who is in charge here.

Come to the capitol on February 9th  to share your testimony at the committee hearing regarding the need for the Parental Rights Bill (HB12-1049), Room 0112, State Veterans & Military Affairs (upon adjournment of House Assembly - plan to be there around 9:30 a.m.).  Come to the capitol on February 23rd to share your testimony regarding the need to reduce state testing and expand preschool placement for at-risk children (HB12-1091) - also Room 0112 - and also at 9:30 a.m.

Let the bills and the petition be a catalyst to return a whole and equitable education to all children.  Currently “choice” within our public schools represents only choice for a few.  Let’s begin by halting high stakes testing, so that the corporate education reformers no longer have the data to punish our students, teachers, schools and communities.

And then, let’s do what our leaders should have done. Let’s remind Colorado about the foundation of our democracy:  equal opportunity for a whole education for all of Colorado’s students.  And let’s make it happen.  If you take away their data, they will be forced to listen.


  1. In Florida, four parent groups including the Florida PTA were unable to get included on the list to speak to,committee members considering parent trigger legislation, but a representative from Los Angeles Parent Revolution, a parent trigger advocacy group was flown in to speak. Watch the Florida playbook to be prepared.

  2. Appalling that a governor refuses to meet with parents on education. 4,000 signatures = a problem that needs to be addressed.

  3. Can you clarify whether school or currently negatively impacted if a parent opts their child out of the CSAP/TCAP? I have heard conflicting opinions on this. It would seem that the legislation that is being proposed would assure that schools are not penalized, but does this mean that school are being penalized currently? If so, in what way. Thanks for any clarification on this you can give me.

  4. Currently it impacts accreditation, but this legislation would remove that punitive consequence.

  5. For each student that opts out of the test it is recorded as an unsatisfactory score for that child. The number of unsatisfactory scores determines the schools accreditation rating. Poor accreditation ratings cause schools to lose teachers and administrators, as well as funding and charter renewals in some cases. When I opted my 3rd grade daughter out of the CSAP last year, she had to sit in the principals office all day! This year she will be opted out and not attending on testing day, a total of 6 school days!

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