Parents don’t look the other way

Written by Lisa Nielsen | Edited by Lisa Cooley, The Minds of Kids

“Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Humans come equipped with a primitive defense mechanism aimed at reducing anxiety: "If I ignore it, it'll go away."  Very human, very natural, very understandable. We all do it. It may even have some evolutionary advantage. After all, facing away from a problem can lower blood pressure and keep stress under control.

But problems have a momentum of their own; they only get worse when they're ignored.

When we don’t face the truth because it might frighten and upset us,  we move to the place called Denial. But emotions have little to do with logic. (Article Source). If denial is a small dark room, joining with others and facing the truth together brings out the light of day.

But denial is where some parents are living. They are looking the other way. Ignoring problems or worse, justifying them.

I suppose it’s understandable. Parents across the nation are faced with the reality that the education system that they placed their faith in, that they experienced themselves, may have flaws that are not being fixed and they are led to believe they have no control over them. This is a hard reality to face and would turn the world of any parent upside down. So these parents sometimes turn their faces away. They throw down mattresses and close the blinds and live happily in their room of Denial.

This is exactly the reality that New York mom Christine Dougherty had to face after her 12-year-old son Joseph, with her guidance and support, decided he was going to opt out of his school’s standardized tests. Instead, he requested the right to engage in more meaningful learning. Despite the wishes of Ms. Dougherty and her child, bully principal Thomas Capone forced Joseph to take the test.  Joseph’s teachers called him a fresh little boy for not following their orders to do as he was told.  

Joseph’s mother fought back doing everything she could to counteract a number of manipulative tactics by her son’s principal and the teachers under his charge. The principal furthered the lie that parents have no rights when it comes to the best interests of their child. He flat out refused to respect the wishes of Joseph and his mother demanding they comply, “OR ELSE...he’d have no choice but to look into having Joseph taken away from his mother!”

Christine was not living in denial and was not dissuaded. She stood up to the principal and did everything she could to have her son’s wishes granted.  

Unfortunately, not all parents are as brave, strong, or able to face facts as Ms. Dougherty did. Instead, when they heard of the situation, some took up residency in a horrible state called denial.  

They went after this mother and defended the principal rather than looking at the facts behind what this principal had done. They refused to acknowledge that across the state New York  teachers, superintendents, and principals one and all were speaking out, starting petitions, writing to the ed secretary all expressing agreement with Ms. Dougherty’s belief that these tests are not good for children. Those who learned of this principal’s actions were horrified that a man, entrusted with the care of children, had overstepped his bounds in such a way and violated the rights of both parent and child.

There was also an explosion of Tweets by administrators, teachers, and parents alike appalled by the actions of this school’s leader and his minions. Fortunately, many citizens are guided by a moral compass that puts the rights of kids first; they did not condone this man’s actions.

Unfortunately, several of the parents at Ms. Doughterty’s son’s school found a comfortable home in their state of Denial and to solidify residency, they  started a  Facebook page that bashed the mother and those who outed the bully principal (like here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). What they did not realize was that instead of the support they expected, they received a flood of comments from those who supported the mother and did not agree with these parents or the principal. Since the intent of this page was to keep a Denial alive, all those who posted comments stating they supported the mother and disagreed with the principal were swiftly bashed, banned, and censored from sharing the other side of the story.

Such tactics are understandable when you take into consideration that they were made by those who have no intention in giving up residency in their state of Denial. (Perhaps the river in Egypt is nice and warm and good for swimming? Too bad about the crocodiles.)

Parents like those who rose up against this mother for standing up to the system and protecting her child represent an unfortunate segment of our population that has lost faith in themselves or other parents to decide what is best for their own children. We have come to a point in America where many parents are all too willing to hand their children over to an institution to raise them even when it is as clear as day that impositions such as these tests are hurting children like Joseph.

How can the mega billion industry of one-size-fits-few, standardized test-taking be mistaken for what is best for children? You can believe it is what’s best for the system if you choose, but that is a system that cannot bear the burden of criticism, and needs full compliance in order to survive.

There are parents who dig their heels in and continue to ignore the truth rather than acknowledge the harm that is taking place with children in their schools. There’s a name for what they’re doing. Denialism: which means choosing an alternate reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth.

Because, here’s the thing: much of traditional education as we know it today is not good for children. Many of the practices we all know and have lived with are not serving our children best.

And that is so hard to face!

“The human mind isn't a terribly logical or consistent place. Most people, given the choice to face a hideous or terrifying truth or to conveniently avoid it, choose the convenience and peace of normality.” Jim Butcher, Turn Coat
Parents have been indoctrinated by the system that says: do as you’re told.  Drop off your children and parental rights at the door. They have been conditioned not to trust themselves or their instincts when it comes to their kids. They have accepted that (as shared on the Facebook page and in blog comments), “the best interests of their children are left to the experts.” They explained that, as a professional, the principal, NOT PARENTS, know what is best for children, explaining that Mr. Capone, “obeys rules because he has the experience that should be trusted.”

And here’s the scary part.  

The parents at Ms. Dougherty’s school who “liked” this Facebook page had this advice for her:
Do not let your heart decide what is best. There is not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that the principal had best interests of the child in mind when he took this action.”
The action they are referring to was the disregard of the judgment of a parent who feared for his well being. These parents were defending a principal who forced a child to do something against the wishes of himself and his mother and falsely (informed his family that failure to follow orders could result in him being taken from his parents.


Despite the fact that they were surrounded by parents and teachers who told them they believed the principal was right and they should just do as they’re told, Joseph and his mother stood strong. Ms. Dougherty had done her homework and knew  that the government did NOT have the right over her as a parent to force her child to engage in an activity she did not condone.After contacting child protective services it was also revealed that had this principal wasted the time by making a false report of abuse and maltreatment, he would actually be endangering the ability to properly focus on the children who had real abuse issues.  Note opting out does not fall in the category of child abuse or maltreatment. Visit this link to learn what does.

Joseph’s mother had EVERY right to act as she did.  She took ownership of her son’s freedom to learn in the way that serves him best.  

If these parents had left their state of Denial behind, they’d have to face a hard reality.  For now, parents like these are much more comfortable defending the status quo.  Though several did admit that they understood that forced testing was wrong, they believed  their children still needed to do as they were told.

I hate these tests and that we are forced to give them, and what they represent..reducing children to numbers and data. However, unfortunately it is the law that children take these tests.”
She went on to say that as long as the principal forced her child to do this in a professional way, then he was right.  This well meaning parent goes on to explain, 
“The only way this testing goes away is if voting parents take an active interest in changing the politics surrounding education and voting for candidates who truly have the children’s interests at heart, and not statistics that make them look good.”

Americans never voted on a law that made our kids the mega billion dollar profit bearing guinea pigs of the school system! This was not a referendum placed on a ballot.  This is an illegal imposition that is hurting kids and making mega-billions for greedy corporations who care nothing about children but followed the money into the “Race to the Top” testing frenzy.   

It’s time to WAKE UP! Listen to your heart. Leave the dark room. It’s sunny out here; there’s fresh air and fresh debate and clear thinking about children and what is best for them. And our numbers are growing.

Don’t trust principals, politicians, or corporations that push bad policies that harm children. Be on your child’s side, and trust your instincts if you feel your child is suffering! Take back your parental rights. Give the freedom to learn to your children. Do not let anyone bully you into doing otherwise.  

Know the facts!
“Child protective services would not take a report on a parent who is opting their child out of standardized tests due to emotional stress or illness. Opting out of standardized tests is NOT something that teachers and principals should call in as mandated reporters.” -Jason DeSantis | Central Register for Child Abuse | 8006351522
Principals or others who convey this information are threatening parents and violating their rights.If anyone tries to do so, you have the ACLU and the Office of Civil Rights on YOUR side. Both are filing complaints against this principal and others like him around the nation. If your child’s rights are being violated, contact them. You may also want to contact your local child advocacy group.

Parents, not the government employees or corporations, have the best interests of your children at heart. Fight to protect your children! Protecting your child is your right.  
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