Parents and teachers aren’t ‘special interests’

I would like supporters of unproven Common Core “reforms” to stop using the term “special interests” in discussions of public education. Buffalo School Board member James Sampson and others have used this label to disparage and marginalize professional educators and parents who speak out about what is happening to public education and children. Rather than respond to legitimate concerns and questions of parents and educators, these people, along with the commissioner of education, have resorted to name-calling.

Our public school teachers and principals are professionals who have dedicated their careers to the education of our children. They are not troublemakers or old-style union thugs. They are people motivated by their love of teaching, concern for our children and years of hard-won experience on the front lines. When they criticize the latest school “reform” plans, they generally do it for good reasons.

Similarly, parents are not a “special interest” group. They speak out of love and concern for their children and their public schools. If they are critical of excessive and so far meaningless, secret, and therefore useless tests that freak out their children, it is also for good reasons.

Who more than educators, students and parents should have a right to speak about what they see as wrong turns in education “reform?” In fact, many people have called this “reform” a misguided hoax; its purpose is to privatize schools, rob them of resources and local control, rate and fire teachers, bust unions and weaken public schools. When parents and educators question what’s happening, we cannot dismiss them with a simple tag like “special interests” and try to shut them up.

We must have input from people who are most affected by this untested agenda. They are not “special interests.”

David Grotke