- They have been given since 2010 in TN. Some schools gave them in the fall.
- Some districts may have notified parents, but most did not (note: we haven't heard from any parents who were notified about these surveys, and we've heard from a lot of parents. We don't think they intended to notify parents until parents got wind of what was going on.)
- Principals and school districts are being blamed for not notifying parents before the surveys were given, but that does not change the fact that it was still an inappropriate survey created by and given by the TNDOE.
- "Active" consent is different than "passive" consent. "Active" consent means you have to opt-IN. "Passive" consent means you have to opt-OUT. Momma Bears has identified a new kind of consent: "Sneaky-passive consent" = parents aren't even told that these surveys are happening until our kids tell us they already took it. SCARY TRUTH: Parents don't know they can refuse these surveys because they aren't ever informed they are happening.
- There are so many new mandates coming from the top (TN Department of Education and from local districts, too) that Principals and teachers are giving surveys & tests that they've never seen before. And with the volatile environment and job insecurity, they are afraid to speak up. It is all coming too fast and without parental input. That's a problem. A big problem. We are glad that some legislators agree with this. Momma Bears hopes that there are some swift changes with the TN Commissioner of Education and TN Board of Education (they are appointed by the Governor) because they are getting too big for their britches. There are way too many business and unqualified Teach For America people being paid huge salaries in the TNDOE, and not enough real teachers and educators in those roles.
I met with my child's Principal, whom I hold in high regard, and he told me his hands were tied on the Climate Survey. It was easy to see that he was upset about it. After a little prompting, he has decided to put upcoming tests and/or surveys in the weekly school memos. I am really excited about that. More opportunity to opt out if needed. He didn't bat an eye when I told him I didn't want my child to take the TRIPOD (another survey with demographic questions. Click HERE to read a previous Momma Bear blog on TRIPOD). He said he is tracking the number of hours spent on tests and prep for tests, because he wants to put the focus back on learning, not testing.
I mentioned there was a kid in my child's class who told the teacher he thought the questions were inappropriate and the teacher AGREED, but told him he needed to take it anyway. The principal looked disturbed by that. I think he is going to rattle a few cages and is thankfully one of the best middle schools in TN, so maybe he won't get axed.
Is this Common Core???
The TNDOE will, of course, say that the intrusive collection of student data is not common core. They will then try to hypnotize you with this chant until your eyes glaze over:
"Common core is just rigorous standards...
Common Core is just rigged (oops) standards...
Common Core is just rigorous standards..." Namaste.
Then, they will pass the blame on one of these scapegoats:
- poor implementation of common core,
- teachers who aren't yet trained in the common core voodoo magic,
- dumb parents who are too stupid to understand the new mysterious math methods (because they prefer the simple old ways that worked)
- the companies that make the new common core curriculum
Parents were surprised to learn that their children answered some personal questions on the TCAP Writing Assessment this past week (these questions were separate from the Climate Surveys. Students couldn't skip them and they were not anonymous). Parents had no clue. These questions were tied to our children's names and ID numbers so they weren't anonymous. The questions seem harmless enough (Do you have a computer at home? internet? How often do you write? etc.), but the fact that our children were asked questions without our knowledge makes the Momma Bear fur stand up on our necks yet again (especially after reading Appendix C of the RTTT Application). How far will they push with asking our kids personal questions without telling us??? They've lost our trust already with the Climate Surveys, Tripod Surveys, Gaggle, and PLAN assessments they didn't tell parents about. Plus, the fact that Momma Bears has contacted the TNDOE 3 times and still not heard any response makes us even more apprehensive and suspicious.
One Momma Bear asked her child's principal about these surveys and this was the conversation:
Mom: "My concern is about the survey that my son had to take this week, can I get a copy of that?"
Principal: "I don't think that will be a problem, the questions were just about writing."
Mom: "My concern is that you had my son take a survey without parental consent."
Principal: "I can tell you this is the same survey they have taken for years."
Mom: "So, you are telling me for years you have had children do a survey without parental consent?"
Principal: "Can I contact the district office about this?"
- Check with your school district to see what surveys are being given.
- Opt your children out of surveys.
- Opt your children out of standardized tests, pretests, and assessments.
- Ask your elected legislators to get rid of common core.
- Ask your elected legislators to vote to support these bills
- Sign this petition to get rid of common core in TN.
- Sign this petition to get rid of the appointed TN Commissioner of Education
Some parents have spoken with attorneys and are pursuing legal action. If you feel your rights have been violated, contact us and we'll put you in touch with that group.
Representative Sheila Butts just introduced a bill in TN that would require that parents be informed of all tests (and she says the bill will be amended to include surveys) before they are given to their children. Contact your legislator and ask them to support it. HB2167/SB2404 is the Bill. Click HERE to find your legislators and their contact info. They need to hear from Momma Bears and Daddy Bears in TN.