Some PTAs Want Out...
(Oh, we know, the PTA loyalists will claim she is a PTA Mom because she sits on the State PTA Board and was the State PTA President in Wisconsin but in Tennessee, her kid went to Page High School and that's a PTO school.)
Yep, loyal to a fault—to the Association, that is…
It is not unusual for high-up PTA loyalists to ignore the will of the membership and even resort to using intimidation tactics. An article in the Washington Post points to "a recurring narrative about how the leadership in so many education organizations are more responsive to those in power than to those whom they represent.” The article describes how life got really bad for some New York PTA parents around 2012-13 when Landers was National PTA President.
The PTA Moms were upset by the especially harsh testing for Grades 3-8 (with the infamous question about the talking, sleeveless pineapple) so, they tried to get a resolution to the floor at their State PTA convention. Among their concerns was the fact that the third-grade state test went from less than three hours to nine hours in length and served an additional purpose—to evaluate teachers. After numerous attempts, all of their resolutions were shot down by the state leadership. The PTA general membership never even got the opportunity to vote on them.
Oh, Honey!! Didn't you know the PTA can be Vicious?
If you take blood pressure medicine...now, would be a good time to take your pills.
A NY PTA official began threatening PTA parents with Child Protective Services if they opted their children out of high stakes testing. It's true. The ultimate in threats. The PTA supported putting children in state custody if their moms didn't force them to endure nine hours of state testing about talking pineapples.
WOW!! We couldn't make this stuff up.
"Many of the locals PTAs have been willing to educate parents on the problems of high-stakes testing. They have been active members in the Opt Out movement. However other local leaders seem fearful to stand up against New York State PTA’s support of high stakes testing and the Common Core. The last straw was when New York State PTA coordinator Bob Aloise went around to local PTAs to tell parents that Opt Out was illegal and that Child Protective Services (CPS) could be called if they kept their children home from the tests. We were flabbergasted that an organization dedicated to the welfare of children would spread such nonsense clearly intended to frighten parents.”
Just in case, you had any doubts: THE PTA OPPOSES OPT-OUT!
So, wouldn't it be great if we had a state law that settled things once and for all by giving parents the explicit right to opt out of standardized testing?
YEAH!!! Momma Bears would love to see a law giving parents explicit opt-out rights!!! But guess what?
If you are a Momma Bear PTA leader, you are not allowed to publicly advocate for legislation allowing parents to opt out of standardized testing. That's right. A couple of dozen uppity-ups in the National PTA all got together last year and decided that parents didn't want the right to opt their children out of testing.
National PTA does not believe that opting out is an effective strategy to address the frustration over testing. Mass opt-out comes at a real cost to the goals of educational equity and individual student achievement.
Oh, yeah, they didn't. Nope. There wasn't a vote. PTA members did not approve this position statement.
Instead, the PTA uppity-ups aligned with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose parents who wanted the right to protect their children from abusive testing. While the PTA attempts some lame plattitude about supporting parental rights, it's clear the PTA thinks that parents only get to decide what's best for their kids when it doesn't run afoul of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
"As PTA’s mission is on behalf of all children, and we continue to support parent’s rights, it would be contrary to the association’s mission to support or promote a strategy that does not consider the rights or consequences of that strategy for all children. When parents opt their children out of tests--even for legitimate concerns—they’re not only making a choice for their own children, they’re inadvertently making a choice that can affect efforts to improve schools for every child." As in "Every Child…One Voice"— the PTA motto.
If you thought that one voice was the collective voice of public school parents, you would be wrong. The PTA clearly stated that parents are not suppose to advocate for the individual needs of their children. Instead, PTA parents are supposed to comply with what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes to be best for all children—as if the Chamber knows beans about raising kids.
Now, we know why the PTA likes to say, "it's not your Momma's PTA" because our Momma's PTA actually taught parents to advocate for the best interests of their children. Today's PTA is nothing more than a corp-ed shill who wants to push parents right out of the decision-making process.
When the PTA says testing is best for EVERY child, they mean EVERY child. That includes our most vulnerable children with special needs. Oh, yes!! The Chamber wants data points for SPED students too.
In 2012, when, once again, Tennessee's own Betsy Landers was NPTA President; the National PTA testified before Congress that SPED students should be subjected to the same standardized testing regime as students without disabilities. That's right. PTA wants students with IEPs and 504 plans to throw them out the window and endure nine hours of testing just like every other child. The PTA actually went on record as opposing a provision in federal law which would allow an increase in the number of students permitted to take an alternative assessment—a test or portfolio more suited to their abilities.
Instead of supporting differentiated testing, the PTA argued that only the most severely disabled children should be given a reprieve from state standardized testing. Everybody else must take the exact same test regardless of learning disabilities, fluency in English, behavioral problems, mental disorders, functional skills, etc.
WTG PTA!!! That's how you shove equality down a child's throat. Yay, You!!
PTA Pushed the Common Core Agenda All the Way to the Bank
"NPTA feels so strongly that it will not stand any dissension in its ranks. It has moved to bar their affiliates at the state and local levels from continuing their efforts for the changes they believe are needed. In late February, the Delaware PTA informed its membership that it was being forced to change its position in support of the opt-out movement and that it would have to insist that all of its local chapters do the same."
So, how did all this get started? When did the PTA decide to side with corporate reformers against its own membership??? Who made the deal with the Devil?
Well, just one year after Betsy Landers was elected as National President-Elect, PTA took the now infamous Gates money to push common core. Also, that same year, PTA left its Chicago headquarters to purchase some fancy new digs in D.C.— closer to the political action.
It wasn't long until National PTA in its new D.C. headquarters became a major Common Core pusher with Landers as its number one cheerleader. She hit the PTA circuit, lauding the benefits of Common Core while cutting off any criticisms. Upset parents were dismissed as ill informed. Landers told them, "We understand that any change in education can seem scary. But before you push back, we urge all parents to become familiar with the standards and the new state assessments under development in order to fully understand how the standards will improve education for all students."
Then, she issued the PTA directive that all local PTA leaders "should work to educate other parents, regardless of PTA membership, on the benefits of Common Core State Standards and academic benchmarking." And just in case, there were any PTA leaders thinking about opposing Common Core, the TNPTA sent out a sternly worded warning to its local leaders advising them not to speak out against Common Core or any other PTA directive.
Likely, if someone asks you what you think of an education issue, whatever you answer will be thought of as the official position of PTA.Because you are a PTA leader, it is important that you only make statements that represent Board approved PTA position statements.
Your opinion may differ from the PTA's official position statement ... and we encourage our members to vote as they see fit. However, if this is the case, you are asked to excuse yourself from making any public and official comments on behalf of the PTA.
We are still waiting to understand how the standards will improve education for all students. So far, Common Core seems like a dismal failure. Too bad, PTA silenced parents at a time when they stood a chance of saving their children from the frustration of yet another failed education experiment.
When PTA Leaders Don't have Children in Public Schools...
When asked what her child's school did for its PTA Membership drive, Battle sheepishly replied that her children attended a private school that did not have a PTA. No doubt, her kids' private school probably didn't teach Common Core standards or administer Common Core assessments either.
Just another typical example of PTA preaching about what's best for other people's children.
We can't even remember the last time we've had a Tennessee PTA president with children who are actually enrolled in public school. By the time they are elected as State PTA President, their children are way too old for school— meaning our most important PTA leaders are out of touch with the monumental reforms currently happening in public education.
And that's a problem. A really big one. PTA leaders can't empathize with today's parents if their children have never been subjected to Eureka math or weeks & weeks of state testing. Out-of-touch PTA leadership can also become susceptible to being manipulated and duped by those with a political agenda or a profit motive. And that's exactly what happened to Betsy Landers.
If you don't stand for something, you fall for anything….
During the beginnings of the Corp Ed PTA takeover, NPTA President Betsy Landers pushed hard for technology in the class room even becoming a member of the Bammy Ed-Tech Academy. She implemented a Kindle e-book sponsorship program with Amazon which drew criticism from the National Federation of the Blind for not being inclusive of students with print disabilities. Landers also advocated school districts should spend their minimal resources on computer devices in an article commissioned by Amplify Education.
Amplify, backed by Rupert Murdoch, leased tablets similar to iPads to public schools. Landers was quoted in the Amplify spin-piece, as being somewhat of an expert on classroom technology, claiming that students were "more apt to perform better in the classroom because of this engagement [with Amplify devices] and innovation." The article even gave helpful suggestions for fundraisers to purchase the Amplify tablets if the school district did not have money in the budget. Parents could raise funds for the tablets with bike rides, scavenger hunts, and recycling.
It seems that Landers got herself involved in a sales pitch for what turned out to be an expensive piece of junk. It wasn't long before school systems began reporting that the Amplify tablets were malfunctioning, screens were breaking, and their chargers had melted. Even with tablets that supposedly worked, the Amplify system was soooo slow, it wasted valuable instruction time. By 2015, the New York Times was reporting on the "inglorious end" to Amplify.
So, there you have it… PTA supports common core, standardized testing, and junk technology. Is there any wonder why more and more schools like the ones in Germantown are making a break from PTA?