A report published late Wednesday by World Net Daily says parents in South Carolina participating in a nationwide “revolt” against Common Core claim they are being threatened with jail over their stance. Tamra Hood, a member of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, said the state Education Department’s Chief Operating Officer, Elizabeth Carpentier, warned parents could spend 30 days in jail if even a single day of testing is missed.
A memo obtained by Breitbart News that was sent to district superintendents by State Superintendent Molly Spearman, titled “Testing Requirements for All Students,” stated the following:
“There is no statutory provision for parents to opt their children out of testing. The State, districts, and schools are required by state and federal law to administer assessments to all public school students. Please ensure that your district and school leaders are consistently communicating that the schools’ obligation is to administer tests to all students. Because of that obligation, it would not be appropriate to provide alternative activities for students in lieu of testing.”
That memo does not specifically mention jail time for parents who refuse to allow their children to take part in the testing, but makes it clear that all students are required and expected to participate. Hood also said Carpentier warned that groups that encourage parents to refuse the Common Core-aligned tests could be charged with aiding and abetting a crime.
Dino Teppara of the state agency’s public information office denied any threats were made and also denied that Carpentier said parents can be held criminally liable if they remove their children from school on testing days, insisting she “simply noted the truancy provisions in state statutes.” Truancy provisions in South Carolina do include jail time for parents of children with excessive absences. Parents can be charged with neglect and have their children removed from the home in some cases. It seems reasonable that if Carpentier “noted” those provisions to parents, it could have been construed as a threat under the circumstances.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has warned in the past that if states don’t fix the problem of parents opting out, the federal government will “have an obligation to step in.” National Review Online reported Duncan’s position is that in the past, English language learners, students in special education and racial minorities were “swept under the rug.”
Duncan seems to be falling back on the favorite tactic of the left in this situation, using race to cloud the issue. In 2013 he claimed that opposition to Common Core comes mainly from “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – [realize] their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association noted Duncan did not specify what he meant by “stepping in.”
“Duncan’s statements reflect a growing pressure on education bureaucrats to keep states locked into the Common Core,” HSLDA said. “Students nationwide are still opting out of voluntary benchmark assessments, which are meant to prepare them for all-day Common Core tests.”
HSLDA said it is “concerned that federal officials will again resort to financial incentives – or threaten to withhold funding – to coerce students into participating in these tests.”
One South Carolina parent, Artie Allen, has a Facebook page encouraging “Stop Common Core in South Carolina.” Allen says he has no sympathy for state and district school officials who are complaining over the federal government’s threat to cut funding to states who opt out of Common Core.
“We got the sob story from one of our 3 kids schools that we kept our kids home from [testing] today that we could cause them to lose federal money. Maybe you should have thought about that before you took the money in the first place!! See what happens when you sleep with the devil,” Allen said in a recent post on the page.
South Carolina isn’t the only state where parents are protesting common core. Resistance to Common Core, which has been adopted by 46 states, is building.
We saw a glimpse of that resistance in New York state earlier this month, when 184,000 of 1.1 million eligible students refused to take Common Core English exams. Renowned educator Diane Ravitch asked, “What if they threw a test and nobody took it? New York is about to find out,” the Long Island Press reported after the revolt.