In the previous post, I referred to Din Armstrong of Lee County, Florida, as a hero for his principled stand against Florida’s insane obsession with testing.
Here is more from Don Armstrong:
“Good morning, everyone. Like always, I spend my Sunday, gathering my thoughts and thinking of the upcoming week over a cup of coffee.
“One thought that has crossed my mind this past week is regarding our Constitution. Perhaps this is due to the fact that last week was Constitution Week in the United States. Yet, while listening to our leaders in Tallahassee, as well as many here locally, it seems the Constitution is rarely considered in their talk about parent rights and student rights, specifically with regard to what options and control parents have in schools.
“Specifically, I am referring to our Lee County, FL school district’s stance on parent rights to opt out of testing. In a recent communication from our district, taken from previous board attorney comments, legal advice was provided that although the “14th Amendment provides that parents have the right to control the upbringing of their child, including the education the child receives … the right does not enable the parent to dictate the instruction provided to the student or the assessments administered to the student.” This quote is taken directly from our district directive that further implies the only control a parent has is to choose public or private schools. I can not disagree strongly enough with this statement.
“This misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment infuriates me. Our Constitution is clearly defined and gives specific rights to parents which has been upheld in court precedence. To borrow from Fair Test, a national organization ran by Lee Cty local advocate, Robert Schaeffer, here is a more correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment, with regard to parenting:
“According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children. Furthermore, The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interference is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).”
“Like the Supreme Court who criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own”, I also suggest our school district reconsider its position on parent rights. Lee County is lucky to have an active community, highly involved in our school system. And, while involvement often leads to greater accountability, it is exactly what we strive for here in Lee County. It is the true definition of local control and I know that is what Lee County residents want. It is certainly the wish of every parent: not just local control over their schools, but especially, local parental control over their children. To expect less of our community is not reasonable.
“So, as I try to always offer solutions, here are a couple. Firstly, I would solve the problem of parent concern by redrafting the district position on parent rights to fully recognize the rights of our local parents, more correctly honoring the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. Let our local parents know we understand their concerns with the overtesting and scripted curriculum. Let our parents know that we appreciate their activism and we know that only through the combined voices of board members, parents, and citizens will we get relief from the overbearing mandates from the state and feds. Local control comes from local voices. Listen to the parents.”
A note from an admirer who sent this letter from Don:
-Don Armstrong, former Lee County School Board Member, well known for being the first board member to opt his own, twin children out of the state FSA exam, creating the momentum to garner the first county wide opt out in the US. While Lee County reversed its decision to opt out of tests, Armstrong and local parents are keeping up the fight.