Assemblyman Pat Hickey blames parents and students for legislative failure
Pat Hickey needs to apologize to each and every parent of a public school child in the state of Nevada.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Mr. Hickey posted the following tweet:
Mr. Hickey’s remark is in response to the not surprising ACT results of Nevada’s Juniors who took the test this past spring.
If only I could say, in his defense, that Nevada parents have had a seat at the education table for years and that we really dropped the ball on this one – or -- If I could just say, with a straight face, that the majority of Nevada's legislators, Hickey leading the charge, fought long and hard to stop the federal control of our education system – or if I could even, weakly spew out that state leaders have been working alongside parents diligently and that both were completely blindsided by these lackluster scores – but none of these is true and unlike Mr. Hickey I could not make such an asinine, self-serving statement.
Mr. Hickey needs to step down from his ivory tower – he does not wear it well. Hickey knows very well that the parents of Nevada did not and do not want the federal reforms that are, no doubt, playing a role in the ACT scores (not to mention there are other factors for students not scoring well).
Let’s review. The Common Core State Standards Initiative was agreed to by the State Superintendent, Dr. Keith Rheault, in May of 2009. Although we are continually fed the fiction that the standards were “approved” in March of 2010 after Governor Gibbons formed his Blue Ribbon Task Force, (not all of us are asleep at the wheel), there was no notification to parents and certainly no permission given by parents prior to Dr. Rheault's agreement.
The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Math, which are part of the Common Core State Standards INITIATIVE were rolled out into the classrooms across Nevada first with parents being notified afterward. When parents began to inquire as to what the standards and changes were all about they were – in no particular order: labeled, ignored, threatened, intimidated and/or otherwise kicked to the curb.
When parents began to complain about the ELA and math standards and how the teaching methods were not working or otherwise inappropriate they were dismissed as “non-experts” on their own children. Does it get anymore insulting than that?
In April 2014, Mr. Hickey, and a group of other political candidates, met with this writer and Jane Robbins of American Principles Project. At that time all the ills of the Common Core State Standards Initiative were laid out for them, including the over testing and sudden “alignment” of curriculum and testing materials and the lack of educational expertise behind the creation of the standards. Everyone in attendance was cautioned on the fact that this entire national reform was a country wide experiment with no evidence of success anywhere. No warning was left unsaid. Mr. Hickey sat with a plate of Mexican food in his lap and chatted with another candidate through most of Jane Robbins' presentation and at the end of the presentation said, “I don’t see the issue (with the Common Core State Standards Initiative).” Do you see the issue now Mr. Hickey?
Mr. Hickey’s ill-mannered behavior at the meeting in April 2014 could be forgiven if he had chosen to act subsequently when the opportunity was offered to him and other legislators during Nevada’s session this last spring.
Assemblyman Jones presented AB303 to the Assembly’s Education Committee. AB303 would have removed the Common Core State Standards Initiative from the state of Nevada along with the standardized testing. The Education Chair, Melissa Woodbury, gave the bill a hearing, which included allowing a Bill Gates bought and paid for representative to waste twenty minutes on nothing educationally germane. However, Woodbury refused to allow the bill to be voted on – usurping the one chance parents had during the session to protect their children from CCSSI. No where, in the public record, have I found any comments or demands from Mr. Hickey that he attempted to persuade Mrs. Woodbury to push forward with a vote.
AB303 was the only bill parents had a hope with because a second bill, SB290, was never heard at all in the Senate. Freshman Senator, Becky Harris, named as Education Chair (still a mystery to all) singularly refused to allow the Senate Education Committee to even hear SB290 which would have removed CCSSI and the required standardized testing as well. Senator Harris effectively silenced the voices of Nevada’s parents when she slammed the door on SB290.
When you make statewide changes to something as important and far reaching as public education without actually inviting in the public that it impacts - you will have “issues.” When the top two stakeholders are not allowed a seat at the table – you will have “issues.” When you consciously choose to pass on the solution to the problem – you will have “issues.”
Mr. Hickey has chosen to use these poor test scores as a verbal sword against the very people who warned that they were coming. Here’s another parental admonishment: Take responsibility for your own actions.