Parents standing up and in the gap on behalf of their children’s education is definitely my love language. Since my senior year of high school, when my own mother began to show up in small ways for me and full-blown advocacy for my younger siblings, I’ve never questioned the power and intrinsic value of a parent’s presence in a child’s educational journey. Thirty years later, that belief has changed only in intensity.
Inside the education ecosystem, parents and guardians are the most disrespected stakeholders yet have the most to lose. Every day I communicate with parents desperate for their child and children like them to get the education they deserve. Whether its high-quality school choices or curriculum that meets the needs of both traditional and diverse learners, parents are pounding the pavement at central offices and podiums at school board meetings only to be flat-out ignored, placated with empty promises or worse, sued.
I have watched Nashville charter school parents tearfully plead before a stoic school board to stop the negative attacks and anti-choice policies only to be ignored. More recently, a group of passionate Nashville parents appealed to the mayor to stop the hemorrhaging in the city’s most underserved schools. I suspect the status of the promise made after the ask is still pending.
We are too comfortable with dispassionate responses to parents’ desperation. Further, if it’s not happening to us or someone we know, we turn our backs completely. Maybe the story about a curriculum company suing a North Carolina public school dad will grab your attention.
Blain and Goliath
I’m not sure how I learned of the lawsuit against Blain Dillard, but it was all I could think about over the weekend. I just had to know how a Wake County Public Schools System (WCPSS) parent concerned about his son’s abrupt decline in math performance ended up being sued by math curriculum vendor Mathematics Vision Project LLC (MVP).
According to the lawsuit, “Dillard commenced a crusade against MVP, claiming that MVP is ineffective and has harmed many students.”
So far, so good.
It goes on to say that Dillard’s “crusade” continued through blog posts, a Facebook page, appearance at several school board meetings, and tweets, phone calls, and emails.
The company is seeking damages (yes, damages) for libel and slander and tortious inference with business relations. To wit, he lied and intentionally interfered with their bottom line.
From March 2019 until the present, Dillard penned 19 hyper-detailed blogs all contributing to a larger, tragically familiar narrative of curricula that works for some and is harmful to others. As the Cary, NC dad explains:
With MVP, the approach to pedagogy (the study of how knowledge and skills are exchanged in an educational context) has shifted from direct TEACHING to more FACILITATION. With facilitation, EXPLAINING THINGS is removed from the equation.
This is especially challenging in MATH, where such a large component of MATH education involves explaining and understanding concepts never before encountered.
Through his blog and social media posts, Dillard shares what he and other parents have learned about pedagogy, learning styles, curriculum costs, and performance outcomes. Further, the WCPSS parent crew led by Dillard has partnered with parents from districts in California and Washington state with similar MVP stories. He doesn’t stop there. The “emails and phone calls” explicitly listed in the lawsuit might refer to the emails to the MVP founder’s former school in Utah as well as WCPSS leaders. Besides the David vs. Goliath angle, perhaps the most troubling is the appearance of WCPSS administration siding with their vendor against one of their own parents. Make sure you read this June 5, 2019 post: Witness Tampering, Suppressing Public Records – Will Anyone Be Held Accountable for the Latest Deceit from WCPSS?
No doubt, the lone parent named in the lawsuit is a formidable opponent and, if you know like I know, a parent who recognizes and operates in his/her power cannot be stopped (See Virginia Walden Ford). Unless or until legal action.
Cary Today, Your Town Tomorrow
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, so parents across America must lock arms and say “oh, hell no!” Look, a parent advocates for his child’s right to a curriculum that creates opportunities of success for all learners and now he’s forced to lawyer up against a multi-million dollar corporation. This, at a time parent voice is increasingly silenced by the demands of labor unions, expectations of the social elite, and quid pro quo amongst the political class. Parents, already crushed under the weight of every other stakeholder in the ecosystem, stand to become virtually obsolete. I don’t know if there are previous cases where curriculum companies have brought legal action against parents for advocating for their children, but this is poised to be the case by which other school district vendors dispose of their opposition.
Don’t sleep on this one people. Blaine Dillard said it best:
Yes, parents everywhere are being sued. Your value tested. Your voice challenged.
Twitter: Take Back WCPSS Math