Why Every State Needs Strong
Parent & Community Stakeholder Participation
to Address Power Imbalances in Decision-making

The teachers' unions do not speak for the American public. But, do they speak for certain
political groups who represent the public --- who rarely speak out against their 
political stances as if their loyalty has been bought, especially when union 
policies that work against children of color are called into question?  
Is it any wonder then that certain concerns have been overlooked for decades?  

These are  critical issues, of course, that need to be pondered. Unfortunately, it will not be the
last time that parents and community stakeholders are called upon to address this need or necessity. Parenting, without question, is a lifelong role, a role with requirements and expectations underscoring the key importance of showing up on behalf of children. Parents and community stakeholders, therefore, must not buy-in to certain stances without understanding the meaning and impact of these decisions on student achievement.  They must do their homework and build their knowledge base. They must never relinquish their right to parent. In this light, anyone who states that they support parent and community stakeholder programming must be willing to: (1) honor genuine, inclusive decision-making processes tied to best practices (rather than off the cuff decisions).  
Most importantly, they must agree to: (2) keep their eyes on the prize and/or on equity and excellence for all children --- and, in the process, (3) never stop pursuing  the true purpose   of the public school system .   Special interest groups must not distract (i.e.,   here, here, and here) from  this
overall commitment .

By now, of course, the public should know, without question, that the nation had 43, 000 failing schools, at last count, or before the unions declared war on objective testing measures or any type of information, penalty or sanction that had anything to do with teacher accountability in the classroom. Their explanations against objective testing continue to stem from the mandates of a former national law that had historical bipartisan support but were deemed irrelevant when they failed to meet its requirements --- as if rules apply to other people but never to them. Unfortunately, the test scores were probably worst  or the number of failing schools was probably higher than what was last reported since NCLB state standards and assessments varied from state to state with many states lowering their standards to compensate  for their inability to educate their students.  It is, therefore, instructive  to discuss what the unions (and states) did or  will continue to say and do to  hide NCLB's discoveries or --- to
prevent the unearthing of an unequal public school system
(often across and within districts and even within schools).

From this perspective, discussions and debates must center on these points in an informed way rather than a "who has the most power way" with a recognition that many times educators are motivated or incentivized by different things. This list is long and is filled with a wide range of variables and factors that may or may not include equity and excellence in schools for all children. Why? Unions are special interest groups who care about their members, first and foremost (there's  a union for everyone associated with the public school system)  --- groups that rarely place equity (or integration) goals as their chief concern(s) --- not now or in the past. While charter schools provide parents with school choice options they, too exist for a variety of reasons that are not readily apparent to parents whose children will never escape the fact that  they must live in a diverse world. Clearly, the U.S. public school system has not done enough to support equity and excellence in schools and it shows (e.g. Segregated schools are at an all time high) --- goals that many special interest groups have no problem ignoring. As a result, parents and community members must demand transparency and accountability in state governance tied to student achievement .  To date (or as of 2018), states have not even disseminated state report cards for 3 years. Yet, DeVos is giving some states an additional year to prepare one. This means that the public has been waiting patiently for school leaders to explain what exactly is going on in
states, districts, schools and classrooms for years.

It stands to reason then that if the public school system is to fulfill its function it must exist with the best interests of children in mind, (a simple directive but one that is often missed or overlooked) ---- otherwise its focus will be undermined by the groups and individuals who are allowed to usurp its true purpose on a national scale. After all, it is not an employment factory devoid of goals, standards or ethics. It is not a money making machine for organizations such as the NRA who want to use it to promote their own agenda --- such as creating a Wild, Wild West ideology even within schools  ---  with armed teachers in each and every classroom. Unfortunately, they, along with the POTUS (who receives money from them) have proven that they are willing to create a market for guns "anywhere" and by any means necessary. 

Another urgent reason to focus on the best interests of children, under the current educational law, is Secretary of Education DeVos --- who says that she has never, to date, visited a low performing school. As a result, she has, in so many words, told the nation based on her inactions that she is not interested or equipped to discuss the school-based concerns associated with  poor children, a point that should lead to questions about what she does to earn a salary or what she actually does  period. . .  (To be fair, she says that poor performing schools do not want her to visit . But if DeVos was an experienced administrator who could advance positive student outcomes
would parents ignore her?)

In this light, should parents and community members (including parent leaders) join the teachers' unions and school officials in ensuring that the U.S. public school system will
continue to shun bona fide transparency and accountability practices and policies and/or effective change efforts --- 52  years after the passage of ESEA 1965 or 152 years after December 6, 1865?? In other words, should they support them in creating a culture of anti-accountability, on behalf of all public school students --- as though all stakeholders are against testing?  Should they continue to join them in going backward in time, to the days, when school accountability measures were nowhere to be found or when 99% of U.S. teachers and, in turn, schools were considered highly effective even when they were not?
(By the way, we still do not know
what happened to those schools.)

This is an important topic to explore, especially since most educational leaders don't seem to know what happened to them, either. This fact can be proven in many ways but, most importantly, by reviewing the latest NAEP scores. (Thank God for the NAEP scores, our national test in actuality --- a test that should not be confused with state assessments --- for it allows parents and stakeholders to know what states are actually accomplishing in spite of what states say. As a result, consider that: " NAEP’s definitions of proficiency are closer to international benchmarks for proficiency than the standards set by the vast majority of states.") For instance, only 7% of black 12th graders are proficient in math and only 13 % are proficient in reading. 
I do not believe that the scores are the fault of the students at all.
criticized for being   crude measures of accountability in schools.  

Valid and reliable ESSA tests or assessments belonging to states, in this sense,  depend on many factors and serve many purposes that must be in place.   Stakeholders then need to ask if rigorous standards such as the Common Core being are being implemented correctly, a critical, urgent question that must be answered across the nation (i.e., Lessons learned indicate that far too many states, districts and schools do not have a history of strong oversight goals. Their weak records must be addressed if not by DeVos then the public.).  Moreover, can states guarantee that teachers have received the training that they need to support the implementation of the Common Core and/or classroom instruction tied to the state assessments and a research-based curriculum? Can states guarantee that the students have received t he classroom content to pass the aligned tests ? Needless to say, these ethical concerns and how they are addressed allow stakeholders to know and understand 
if schools can truly do  what school officials say they can do.

Part II

These long-standing problems ---  represent state, district and school-based neglect of children of color and the poor, in particular (or children overall) --- neglect that parents & community stakeholders must bring up on a regular basis if state, district and school-based transparency and accountability goals are to be reached at every grade level, in every school. Clearly, parents and community stakeholders must be the ones who always expect school leaders to establish genuine partnerships and collaborations with them --- that reach beyond mere consulting roles --- so that they feel free enough to discuss issues that impact school effectiveness. 

In fact, fully functioning educational systems require their input --- if not, demand it. In this light, parents and community stakeholders must never take on the roles of  loyal subjects who can only think and speak when they are allowed to think and speak.  They must not act as if their views must be limited, corrected or interpreted by state officials, school leaders or teachers --- and/or filtered through school representatives until they
no longer recognize their own input. 

To address this need, parents and community stakeholders must never be confused about the roles of school representatives or see them as superior beings or deities --- even if school representatives do jealously guard public spaces as their own territories. Acting  omnipotent (or all powerful) and omniscient ( or all knowing) and even vengeful on a human level is entirely different from actually being God --- that role, of course, has already been taken. Instead, they must be viewed as true public servants who, as a matter of principle, are strong enough to handle challenges, answer questions or respond to concerns.

Why? These longstanding concerns keep showing up in the nation decade after decade as the   unfair distribution of effective teachers in schools and across districts . They show up as  low academic standards,  watered down school curriculums and classroom instruction for children of color based on  low expectations of   children of color --- even children of color who take part in gifted programs.  They show up as inflated graduation rate schemes, which are symptoms of school leadership problems across the nation  (click here,   here, herehere and here for more info). They show up  ---  in the poor implementation of research-based   targeted interventions. They show up as nation-wide school ratings that keep masking a multitude of concerns, leaving many stakeholders to wonder if
state, district and school officials are accurately "auditing, monitoring or reporting" on school practices and their impact on student achievement at all. 

For example,  Maryland's ESSA plan shows that only  65 percent of the school score — will be based on objective academic measures: "the operative word here is objective" --- scores that will barely hold educators accountable for their students' education, especially their underserved students. (The Scottish economist Adam Smith once said: "the disposition. . .to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”) This is an incredibly low percentage and should be called into question when the information needs of all stakeholders are considered, a percentage so low that it should be rendered  meaningless when it comes to transparency, accountability or the responsibility of school officials to prove that they are educating children of color or all of their student, a fact that cannot be emphasized enough. What is even more surprising is that this percentage will remain in place for the next 15 years if their plan is approved. In contrast,  Delaware's 80% focus on academic measures has already been deemed too low (to put MD's in perspective, i.e.,  --- and/or its need to set "insufficiently ambitious goals for student achievement") --- for a bona fide school system with a public mission by most, morally-minded educators.

Parents and community stakeholders must, therefore, ensure that states serve their students, first and foremost rather than their employees, only.  For example, recent history shows that eliminating or undermining the importance of tests has, indeed, increased the number of high school graduates --- but at what cost? Hint. . . The students are graduating even if classroom instruction is weak If you connect the dots, you will find that there's also an increased number of college dropouts (at an alarming rate, according to current research findings). These school-based expedient tactics protect the jobs of educators (e.g.  when 82% of the students of a suburban district fail to pass an algebra test) but they hurt the life chances of students who will one day regret that they did not receive a high, quality education even though they attended school
day after day --- year after year. 

Clearly, more parents (community leaders, community stakeholders and faith-based leaders) must  show up and speak up on behalf of public school students about all of  these concerns .). Yet, at the same time, they must never give up on the idea of establishing a genuine partnership with school officials, a partnership that "finally" allows them to know that their rights  are truly being exercised  --- along with an "agreed upon"  definition of a partnership (e.g. a consultation is not a partnership ---- complete with data to support its meaning.  
For more information, click here.

​​News About the Trump Administration 
Input about Trump. . .
from a wide range of perspectives representing parents, community stakeholders,
 civil rights leaders, teachers, educational leaders, charter school leaders, etc.

Learn more about how Trump is refusing to denounce white nationalists
by clicking here. To learn more about Heather Heyer, click here

Learn more about how states are " removing eligible voters from the
rolls without adequate evidence" under the Trump administration and/or
"through a sham commission."

Learn what civil rights organizations are saying about his
strategy for public schools here,  here, and here

Learn what teachers' unions are saying about his
strategy for public schools here,  here, here and  here.

Learn what educational leaders are saying about his
strategy for public schools herehere, here,  here and here.

Learn what public school parents are saying about his
strategy for their children here,  and  here .

Learn what community members are saying about his
strategy for public schools here.

Will Trump address equity and fairness concerns between districts in public school systems?   Will he try to do away with educational standards as he said he would do and lead the public education system back to a time when most children were failing without anyone even understanding why or how it happened? To learn more, click here, here, and here.  

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COPACS is a U.S. collaborative of parents and community stakeholders (across races/ethnicities, gender, geographical regions, socioeconomic status and age groups) that was organized to support public school effectiveness.
This mission-driven goal moves beyond the “one size fits all” traditional school-based approach to parent engagement.  Instead, COPACS supports
parents as well as community stakeholders in gaining access to the latest research-based findings, best practices, lessons learned and/or the best possible solutions tied to positive student outcomes. 

To meet this need and/or to  further deepen parent and community stakeholder involvement in public schools, COPACS offers its members a wide range of programming ---  from capacity development opportunities aligned with research-based practices --- to "shared democratic spaces for knowledge creation, exchange and use." 

At its root, COPACS' purpose then underscores the importance of a culture of inquiry that guarantees  transparency and accountability in public school governance, discourse and decision-making connected to student achievement. 
To learn more about COPACS, please click here.
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Joining  COPACS