Third graders at Coleman A. Young Elementary in Detroit, Michigan brought a letter home that threatened them with suspension if their parents didn’t come to a meeting about the new Common Core testing – in the middle of a work day.

The letter started by thanking 24 parents who made it to a previous meeting. It went on to “berate” the other parents who didn’t come. They set a make-up meeting (for the same time of day) and said if parents didn’t make that one, “your child will be suspended.”

Many parents of the 60 third-graders who received the letter were understandably shocked and angry. “I was like, ‘Wow, is this a joke?’ I really couldn’t believe what I was reading,” said Derrick Smoak.

I don’t like being threatened … especially when it comes to my child’s education,” said Latrica Smoak.

The meeting is being emphasized because it discusses a new test this year that measures students by the Common Core education standards.

But wouldn’t parents be better off at home helping their students prepare? Homework help is hard enough as it is under the Common Core standards.

Regardless, Landon Smoak’s parents say they’ll never make the meeting unless the school changes the time. The initial meeting and the make-up meeting were both scheduled for 2 p.m., when parents are at work. In the job environment in this area, “you’re not even allowed to take off an hour or two and go up to the school just for a parent meeting,” the mother said.

“I believe in options. Let’s find a date when it can actually work for the parents for the both of them, so they both can be there,” the father suggested. Now there’s a voice of reason.

The school district didn’t offer any criticism of the threatening letter. In fact, they defended its intention “to express the level of importance of students’ progress as they prepare for the upcoming M-STEP test.” The teachers wrote it, anyway, so school officials couldn’t take responsibility.

This example is just one more negative consequence that comes when the federal government inserts its power into local education.

Why would any standard merit threatening a child based on their parent’s behavior? Could it be that the teachers are feeling pressure from the school district, passed on from the state that is under pressure from the federal Department of Education? Many states were manipulated into adopting Common Core when compliance was tied to funding.

And who suffers for it? The real, everyday American people – even down to third-graders.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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