Open Letter to the Argyle ISD School Board- TRANSDISCIPLINARY (Updated)
By Alice Linahan 05.02.2016
Dear Argyle ISD School Board,
Below is a link to my public testimony at the Jan. 19th Argyle ISD school board meeting. Listen and then please take the time to read below for more information.
As a Mom with a student in Argyle ISD, I am very concerned about the direction our school district is heading. As our schools embrace 21st Century Learning and the College and Career ready standards, we must ask ourselves as parents and adults; are our children being harmed by this?
As Moms and Dads, we need to step back and start asking “ourselves”…….
1. If our children graduate from high school or college with the attitudes, values, beliefs, behaviors and a worldview that we oppose and we know it is because their teachers have been trained to believe it is their responsibility to be the devil’s advocate and teach our children ‘Critical Thinking’ and to question and even oppose the foundational beliefs of our family; is that really a solid academic education that will serve our children and their future well?
2. Is our child getting college credits in high school more important than protecting our child’s mind and their soul?
3. If your child graduates from college, gets a great high paying job but no longer respects, much less believes, they are worthy of a strong marriage, a free and prosperous country, and that by the grace of God anything is possible; have we done our best to give our child a strong foundation for a happy joy filled life?
Let me give you a personal story from right here in Argyle ISD. This is what “21st Century Learning” also known as getting students “College and Career Ready” looks like in the classroom.
For a little background, my daughter is the only student in her class whose parents have refused to allow her to use a district issued chrome book or google student account.
One day she texted me screen shots of a quiz her AP/Dual Credit English 3 teacher asked the class to take. Because my daughter did not have a chromebook, her teacher told her to take the quiz on her cell phone. The lesson plan for the class shows that they were working on group presentations on philosophy (in an English Class) and these quizzes were a part of the research each group was to do. Each group was assigned a Philosophy and after their research, each group gave a presentation to the class. The Philosophy’s the groups were assigned were….
3. Civil Disobedience
5. Categorical Imperative
6. Hierarchy of Human Needs
7. Social Contract
Parents!! Would you want your child taking a quiz called ‘Philosophy Experiments,’ in high school, much less on their district issued Chromebook that sends students to a 3rd party website that grades their answers compatibility, and then gives the student a “tension score” on a bar graph? Whenever two answers contradict, the website analysis plays devils advocate and makes the student question their core beliefs.
Here are just some of the questions asked:
* There are no objective moral standards; moral judgements are merely an expression of the values of particular cultures. Agree or Disagree
* So long as they do not harm others, individuals should be free to pursue their own ends. Agree or Disagree
* It is always wrong to take another persons life. Agree or Disagree
* The right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant in any effort to save lives. Agree or Disagree
* Homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural. Agree or Disagree
* It is quite reasonable to believe in the existence of a thing without even the possibility of evidence for its existence. Agree or Disagree
* There exists an all-powerful, loving and good God. Agree or Disagree
* The second world war was a just war. Agree or Disagree
* There are no objective truths about matters of fact; “truth” is always relative to particular cultures and individuals. Agree or Disagree
* Atheism is a faith just like any other, because it is not possible to prove the non-existence of God. Agree or Disagree
* To allow an innocent child to suffer needlessly when one could easily prevent it is morally reprehensible. Agree or Disagree
* The holocaust is an historical reality, taking place more or less as the history books report. Agree or Disagree
As I said, where there is a conflict with two answers, it analyzes the two and scores the student.
Here is an example……
Statements 5 and 29: Can you put a price on a human life?
28% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
The right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant in any effort to save lives
But disagreed that:
Governments should be allowed to increase taxes sharply to save lives in the developing world
If the right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant when it comes to making decisions about saving human lives, then that must mean that we should always spend as much money as possible to save lives. If it costs £4 million to save a cancer patient’s life, that money should be spent, period. But if this is true, then surely the West should spend as much money as possible saving lives in the developing world. You may already give $100 dollars a month to save lives in the developing world. But if financial considerations are irrelevant when it comes to saving lives, why not $200, or $1000, or just as much as you can afford? If you do not do so, you are implicitly endorsing the principle that individuals and governments are not obliged to save lives at all financial cost – that one can spend ‘enough’ on saving lives even though spending more, which one could afford to do, would save more lives. This suggests that financial considerations are relevant when it comes to making decisions about saving lives – there is a limit to how much one should spend to save a life.
28% of the people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:
There exists an all-powerful, loving and good God
And also that:
To allow an innocent child to suffer needlessly when one could easily prevent it is morally reprehensible
These two beliefs together generate what is known as ‘The Problem of Evil’. The problem is simple: if God is all-powerful, loving and good, that means he can do what he wants and will do what is morally right. But surely this means that he would not allow an innocent child to suffer needlessly, as he could easily prevent it. Yet he does. Much infant suffering is the result of human action, but much is also due to natural causes, such as disease, flood or famine. In both cases, God could stop it, yet he does not.
Attempts to explain this apparent contradiction are known as ‘theodicies’ and many have been produced. Most conclude that God allows suffering to help us grow spiritually and/or to allow the greater good of human freedom. Whether these theodicies are adequate is the subject of continuing debate.
Here is a link you can take the quiz yourself. http://www.philosophyexperiments.com/health/Default.aspx
After taking this quiz, Clinical Mental Health Counselor Joan Landes stated….
“It’s a classic psychological deconstruction technique to put a person in a double bind and collapse his cognitive framework. Then the “leader” picks up the pieces and reassembles them to order. This is an inappropriate use of psychological force on impressionable minds and unformed identities.”-
Now, you might say, what public high school teacher would think this is a good quiz to give and blame it all on the teacher, but…..
That local superintendent is ultimately in charge of curriculum, and you the locally elected school board are ultimately in charge of approving funding for the professional development of both the teacher and the superintendent. In addition, you are in charge of funding technology used in the classroom that allows for our student’s data to be collected. It has been stated to me that this is an AP/Dual Credit class, therefore it is a college level course and okay. To that I have to ask. Why is this okay in college? It is certainly not appropriate for high school age students.
The challenge with 21st Century Learning/Common Core/College and Career Ready Standards transformation of education, is how teachers are being re- trained to teach. It is their professional development. In addition, administrators are being trained, through their professional development, how to deal with parents who complain. It is actually the teacher who is in danger, because they are many times used as the fall guy. Education is no longer about reading, and writing in a 21st Century English classroom. It is about the 4 C’s Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration.
In Texas we said NO to the Common Core National Standards, but we’ve said yes to our teachers being re-trained for 21st Century Learning using the InTASC Model CoreTeaching Standards; Learning Progressions for Teachers. The Copyright for these standards is owned by the Council of Chief State School Officers, who as you will remember own the copyright to the Common Core National Standards. They are all aligned to a collectivist philosophy of education. Check out standard #5. When you begin to research what is happening, you will see, this is NOT 21st Century Learning it is simply another push for OBE (Outcome Based Education).
“The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to authentic local and global issues.”
Clearly worded in the InTASC paper is states; “these standards differ from the original standards in one key respect: These standards are no longer intended only for “beginning” teachers but as professional practice standards.”
Have you heard the term Transdisiplinary ?
The College Board’s SAT and AP (Advanced Placement) assessments and conceptual frameworks can be described as “Transdisiplinary” in their purpose.
Transdisiplinary is when the function of the subject matter, concept themes in the syllabus, and course frameworks are all used to guide how a student views the world. The technical term most commonly used is lenses. Effectively these lenses become the values, attitudes, and beliefs the students are to be taking away from the curriculum.
Therefore my question is, are you okay with this? As parents are you okay with your child in Argyle ISD being taught using these learning theories and teaching strategies?
Argyle ISD is not an isolated incident. Nor is it isolated to AP/Dual Credit classes. This is happening in school districts across Texas. (RISD) Richardson ISD held a meeting for angry parents speaking out against (PBL) Project-based learning. In the audio clip below you will hear Tabitha Branum, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education (formerly Coppell ISD) describe how teachers are no longer teaching as they did in the past and are being re-trained. She goes on to explain that the STAAR exams no longer ask questions about facts, such as “can you identify this organ” and or “what is the function of this organ?” Then the biology lead teacher explains why they are shifting away from learning facts in exchange for building “social skills”.
I would also like to let you know that my children are NOT allowed to take any surveys online or for the school district, state or federal government. If their grades suffer because of this I would like to let you know about this federal law.
Limits on Survey, Analysis, Evaluations, or Data Collection (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations
No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning—
(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
(3) sex behavior or attitudes;
(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.
Alice Linahan, Argyle Parent