Dear Senators: "About your decision to disregard parental authority....."
The following email was sent to Arizona's senators. It is published with permission of Ms. Lisa A. Hudson (LD23), member of the Mommy Lobby. NOTE: The best response to threats to the test resistance movement is to focus your efforts, as Ms. Hudson has done, on policy makers. See These are the Senators Who Sneer at Parental Authority
As a follow-up to Ms. Christy's earlier email attaching a response to baseless threats by the Secretary of Education, John King, I would like to add a few more comments. First, I've attached another link to the press release issued by Senator Tom Reed's office. The content of the press release is very important to this discussion and I am confident all of you will take the time to read it.
Several other facts should be noted. First, there was some concern at the Senate Education Committee hearing that the Federal Government would withhold funding if states failed to meet the 95% threshold. That is simply not true. Pursuant to ESSA, the decision to render punitive measures for failing to meet the threshold is left entirely to the states. States decide how to deal with particular schools, including making the decision to do nothing. Note, also, under NCLB mandates, the Federal Government has NEVER withheld funding from any school. It is extremely unlikely the state would deviate from that path. Withholding education funding from Title 1 kids would be political suicide for any official hoping to survive an election cycle.
Next, we are waiting for the State Board of Education to produce results to the validity/reliability reports pertaining to the AZMerit assessment. None of you should be shocked to know there are none. The AZMerit is, for all intents and purposes, the Utah SAGE test. Florida also uses the SAGE test (aka Florida Student Assessment). The Florida Senate determined the SAGE had never been validated in Utah or in any other state prior to being administered in 2015. After having the FSA independently validated, it was determined 33% of the test questions didn't align to the state standards.
Validity and reliability studies are essential prior to administering a standardized test. Without them, no one knows if the test actually measures what it says it does. On that principle alone, the administration of the AZMerit is unethical and antithetical to the rhetoric heard around the Capitol, that without standardized testing we won't know how children are performing in school.
The reality is, you won't know any more about how children are performing in school if they do take the test. AZMerit simply doesn't do what legislators and other elected and appointed officials say it does, and parents know it. They also know their rights supersede any directive from the state and expect their elected officials to stand up for those rights.
Last, and most importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the parental right to direct a child's education in the 1923 decision in Meyer v. Nebraska. Meyer is still good law and the SCOTUS has never seen fit to limit a parent's right to direct the education of his/her child in nearly a century. See Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as “Fundamental”
The sweep of parental authority is very broad, as it should be. The voters in Arizona have every right to expect their elected officials to support parental rights to the same degree as protected in Meyer, et al., as well as Article 2, ¶1 §1, and ¶2 §2 of the Arizona Constitution:
1. Fundamental principles; recurrence to
Section 1. A frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the security of individual rights and the perpetuity of free government.
2. Political power; purpose of government
Section 2. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.
To that end, Title 1, Chapter 6, Article 1, §601 and 602 of Arizona Revised Statutes sets forth, consistent with the Arizona Constitution:
1-601. Parents' rights protected
A. The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right.
B. This state, any political subdivision of this state or any other governmental entity shall not infringe on these rights without demonstrating that the compelling governmental interest as applied to the child involved is of the highest order, is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.
1-602. Parents' bill of rights; definition
A. All parental rights are reserved to a parent of a minor child without obstruction or interference from this state, any political subdivision of this state, any other governmental entity or any other institution, including:
1. The right to direct the education of the minor child.
D. Unless those rights have been legally waived or legally terminated, parents have inalienable rights that are more comprehensive than those listed in this section. This chapter does not prescribe all rights of parents. Unless otherwise required by law, the rights of parents of minor children shall not be limited or denied.
There is nothing ambiguous about these sections. The rights of parents shall not be limited or denied. Anything else is in contradiction to the Arizona Constitution.
Please vote yes on SB1455. Any other vote is an unconstitutional violation of parental rights.
Thank you for your attention,
Lisa A. Hudson