St. Michael/Albertville Superintendent: “Parents Have No Rights on Opt Outs!”
by Linda Bell
St. Michael/Albertville (STMA) superintendent, Dr Behle caught two area parents by surprise last week with a morning email outlining his new “proposal” mandating parents be “prevented” from opting out of district-adopted tests, including the “NWEA MAPs, DIBELS and ‘other’ common assessments”, ie. all 3rd party tests.
Prior to this, parents across Minnesota have opted their children out of these tests with no consequence and with the blessings of most teachers. Literally thousands of students opted out in 2015 in over 60 Minnesota school districts. There is no consequence for students whose parents have opted out or more commonly said, to “refuse the test” in Minnesota state law.
The email was sent to only two parents in the district, the morning of Monday, January 4th. The board meeting was called for that night. These particular parents had opted their children out of the above tests in the past. Behle’s proposed requirement was given a first reading that night, but no doubt most STMA parents had no idea that such an affront to parental rights would ever be considered by their school district.
According to parent Hollee Saville, who attended and spoke at the school board meeting, Dr. Behle stated, “As we’ve developed this policy, we’ve looked at the legal standing. [There are] no parental rights in law that give parents the right to opt out of testing. ”
Please note: Parents have no seat at the table in test adoption. Parents are neither a part of the decision-making process or discussion regarding the necessity for all these tests. These particular 3rd party tests are not written within the school district by teachers but by far away testing companies. By taking away a parent’s right to refuse some or all tests, STMA is suggesting that parents will have no voice in testing discussions going forward.
There are further connections to be considered! The NWEA MAP and DIBELS tests are Common Core aligned. The MAP test is directly tied to online, one-to-one curriculum vendors, sometimes called “personalized learning”. Dr. Behle stated, “We want better monitoring of the curriculum.”
The MAP is monitoring the curriculum! Today, with the nationalized common standards, testing and curriculum are irrefutably tied together. One must teach the curriculum in order to test well, or so it is thought. Thus, when Dr. Behle remarked that “we want to prevent parents from opting out” to attain “better monitoring of the curriculum”, he is making the point that parental rights in the STMA district are about to be obliterated! After all, isn’t curriculum and testing the “core” of what occurs in our schools?
Although Minnesota has a Parental Curriculum Review statute, MN Statute 120B.10 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=120B.20), parents may find it difficult to view the newer online lessons to know what is being taught. This statute rests curriculum decision-making authority with parents, who may view their school’s curriculum at any time, even prior to the curriculum being taught. If parents are uncomfortable for any reason, they may ask for alternate curriculum.
“Our nation has consistently maintained that parents possess a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit.” http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?SEC=%7B3051ABFF-B614-46E4-A2FB-0561A425335A%7D
The US Constitution and numerous federal parental rights’ laws place the sole responsibility of raising and educating children with their parents. STMA has no business trying to usurp parental authority!
The next school board meeting is on Tuesday, January 19th at 7:00pm. STMA superintendent intends to have the second reading and vote on his new policy. A new group, St. Michael/Albertville for Common Sense Education is quickly being formed to notify parents and teachers about the attempt to remove parental rights and communicate to school board members that parents and residents will not allow the rights of parents to be diminished.
St. Michael/Albertville for Common Sense Education is calling for ALL STMA parents and residents to call, email and/or visit the school over the next week. Please contact the school board members as well as Dr. Behle. We encourage everyone to be at this important meeting!!!
The meeting will be held at the District Office Board Meeting Room – Middle School West Door “A”. 11343 50th St. NE, Albertville, MN.
STMA School Board Members
|Board Member||Position||Phone||Term Expires|
You can contact the general board email address firstname.lastname@example.org to email all school board members.
Here is the proposed policy change, ie. removal of parental rights, to be voted on January 19th at 7:00pm in the STMA School Board Meeting Room.
VII. STUDENT PARTICIPATION IN ASSESSMENTS
- State and local assessments are used for a wide variety of educational purposes. These include assessing student growth, making instructional decisions that support student learning, monitoring curriculum, programs, school and district progress, determining student programming, benchmarking student performance against comparable groups and state standards, closing the achievement gap, and reporting for public accountability. Parental requests to have their child opt out of state testing requirements are honored by the district per the MCA procedures identified by Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).Local assessments such as NWEA MAP, DIBELS, and common assessments tied to educational purposes are required of all students.”