There are many kinds of Open Letters. Some are written by groups of concerned community members, some by politicians and some are in the form of letters to the editor
An Open Letters is a letter that addresses a specific person or organization. It is written with the goal of expressing opinions and expanding the conversation around an issue to the general public. Open Letters are a very effective way to influence people and to get them fighting for a cause important to the community. It is a great way to move people to action,
An Open Letter is a great way to unite multiple voices in an effort to drive awareness for an issue to the broader community, especially when a position is not being well addressed by community leaders or school board members.
For the most effective Open Letter, write it in a clear, pointed and concise way that is easy to read, while still compelling enough to attract public attention to your issue.
Letters are most often published in the newspapers, but they can be published in blogs, emails or even sent out in mail. Letters can be from groups of parents, alumni, students.
Open Letters can put the necessary pressure on school boards and policy makers.
Here are some examples of effective open letters recently sent to schools:
- Open Letter to Regis
- Loving Concern at Dalton
- Andrew Gutmann’s letter to Brearley
- Gabriela Baron’s letter to Spence
- Institutional Racism at the American School in London
THIS GOES ON THE PARENTAL RIGHTS PAGE
Parents’ Bill of Rights:
To protect the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing of a child.
Parent(s): Parent(s)/Legal Guardian(s)
LEA(s): Local Education Agency(ies)
SEA(s): State Education Agency (ies)
The role of parents in the raising and rearing of their children is of immeasurable value and deserving of both praise and protection by all levels of government. The tradition of western civilization recognizes that parents have the responsibility to love, nurture, educate, train, and protect their children.
Parental Rights to direct the upbringing of a child are inalienable, Further, these rights are enshrined by the following:
- S.984 – Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act of 1995 which prohibits the Federal Government or any State or local government, or any official of such a government, from interfering with or usurping the right of a parent to govern the upbringing of a child of the parents. It also disallows any exceptions to this Act unless the government or official is able to demonstrate, by appropriate evidence, that such interference or usurpation is valid to accomplish a compelling government interest, in which case only the least amount of interference may be used; and
- The Supreme Court of the United States Meyer vs Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923) – the court ruled that the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is implied in the concept of ordered liberty within the Due Process under the 14th Amendment and Case Law; and
- The Supreme Court of the United States Pierce vs Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925) – the court ruled that the child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
Therefore, this legislative body resolves to observe and enforce the following:
Article I: Commitment to Respect for the Rule of Law, the [Insert State] Constitution, and the Constitution of the United States of America:
School divisions, being arms of local government, are obligated to follow the Constitutions of [Insert State] and the United States of America; and
In all its operations, curricula, and teaching, the school divisions shall prioritize meritocracy, equal opportunity, equitable assignment of resources, respect for the rule of law, and respect for the constitutions of [Insert State] and the United States of America.
Article II: Fundamental Parental Right to Parent as they see Fit: This right is afforded to parents by the Due Process Clause under the 14th Amendment and Case Law.
Article III: Parental Right to Know what their Child is Learning (Legal Right of Parents in Schools):
- Transparency of Curriculum: Every school division in the [Insert State] shall prominently display on the school division’s website and on the website of each school in the division the following information by July 1st of each year, organized by subject and grade level: The instructional materials and activities that were used during the previous school year and for the upcoming school year, including any materials assigned, distributed, or otherwise presented in any course for which a student receives credit, or any materials from which students are required to select one or more options if the selection is restricted by the school; and
- Transparency and Display of Training Materials:
- Each school division in the [Insert State] shall display on the school division’s website any materials used by the school division for staff and/or teacher training, any procedures for the documentation, review, or approval of the learning materials used for student instruction, including by the principal, curriculum administrators, the office of “equity”, or other staff; and
- Each school division in the [Insert State], display of training materials shall include all details necessary to identify the learning materials and activities used for instruction, including the title and the author, organization, app, or website associated with each material and activity. When possible, trainings will be live streamed on the school division’s website and Parents will be notified via email and social media. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the digital reproduction of the materials themselves or the separate reporting of individual components of materials produced as a single volume; and
- Parents’ Right to their Children’s School Records: Parents shall have the right to obtain their student(s)’ trueschool records per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). No duplicate or alternate records shall be made with the purpose of inhibiting transparency; and
- Parental Right to Transparency from the School Board and the School Division’s Administration: Each school division in the [Insert State] shall host quarterly, open town hall meetings to present and update on the division’s activities, take questions from the public on those activities, and openly discuss other matters of public concern. The town hall meetings will include the superintendent, members of the School Board, the Chief of Staff of the school division, and relevant department heads of the school division; and
- Parental Right to Provide Input on Certain School Division Contracts: Any and all proposed contracts valued at more than $5,000 between any school division in the [Insert State] and an outside contractor or consultant will be posted on the division’s website and will invite public comment for a duration of 45 days. Such public comments will be posted on the website and addressed by the school board and superintendent at the school board meeting following the close of public comment. The school division will not execute any such contract before this process has been completed; and
- Parental Right to Visit and Observe their Child’s Classroom: This right is afforded to parents under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and
- Prohibition of Charges for Freedom of Information Act Requests: Being that the residents are already paying taxes to the county, and a significant portion of those tax dollars are spent on the schools, no school division in the [Insert State] shall charge the residents for Freedom of Information Act Requests.
Article IV: Parental Right to their Student’s Data and the Protection of Student’s Data:
- Parents have the right to refuse or minimize data collection of their student. Students’ data is to be used for “educational purposes” and/or “educational quality” only, and prior consent must be given; and
- Parental prior consent must be given before any student data is disclosed to a third party; and
- Parents must give informed consent prior to the collection of their student’s data and use, including information on what data points are to be collected, including metadata, generated data, and data used in personalized or adaptive learning; and
- Parents have the authority to determine who receives access to the data collected outside of the LEA, and/or any third-party vendors including all technology companies, application providers, scientists, and researchers. Without prior consent, no data is to be given to third-party vendors; and
- Any data collected on a student may only be used within the context of the student that provided said data. LEAs and third-party vendors or companies may not repurpose student data without informed prior consent of the Parent.
- Any data collected on a student may only be used within the context of the student that provided that data. LEAs and third-party vendors or companies may not repurpose student data without the affirmative and informative consent of the parent; and
- Parents have the legal right to expect secure and responsible data practices. LEAs, SEAs, or third-party entities have a legal responsibility to use best practices for security and publish algorithms directing their decision-making process per parent request.
- Student Privacy and Safety:
- No school shall require a student to use an identification device that uses radio frequency identification or similar technology to identify the student, transmit information regarding the student, or monitor or track the student without approval of the school board, after a public hearing, and without the written consent of the parent of an affected student which may be withheld without consequence; and
- No school shall install remote surveillance software on a school supplied computing device provided to a student without the approval of the school board, after a public hearing, and without the written consent of the parent of the affected student which may be withheld without consequence. “Surveillance” refers to observing, capturing images, listening, or recording, and shall not include locating equipment when there is reason to believe the equipment is about to be or has been stolen or damaged; and
- No school shall visually record in any way, a school classroom for the purpose of teacher evaluations without school board approval after a public hearing, and without written consent of the teacher and the parent of each affected student; and
- Nothing in this section shall preclude the use of audio or video recordings for use with or by a student with a disability, or by such student’s teacher or service provider when the student’s individualized education program or accommodation plan includes audio or video recordings as part of the student’s education, services, assistive technology service, or methodology, so long as such audio or video recordings are made, used, and maintained in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and applicable state law; and
- Parents have the right to recourse, including private right of action, in the event of data abuse and non-compliance.
Article V: Parental Rights to Freedom of Speech, Private and Public Communications Guidelines, and Social Media Conduct:
- Parents and Students are entitled to Freedom of Speech without reprisal from the government (local, state, or federal), without defamation of character, either slander-spoken or libel-written. Defamation of Character can lead to civil penalties. Sources: What is Freedom of Speech; Defamation of Character; and
- Each school division in the [Insert State] and its board members, administrators, teachers, and staff shall refrain from any and all implied or explicit threats, personal attacks, misinformation, activism, paid campaigning not related to running for office, and discussion of these activities against any member of the community; and
- Each school division in the [Insert State] and its board members, administrators, teachers, and staff shall refrain from participating in any social media groups that restrict or otherwise discourage membership based on political, policy, or social viewpoints as they relate to the division’s public schools; and
- Prohibition on Political Affiliation Discrimination: no school division in the [Insert State] shall discriminate against any student, teacher, staff member or parent on the basis of political affiliation or perceived political affiliation; and
- Anonymous Reporting: for any and all students accused of either discrimination, or the use of a slur based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, the school division shall work with the student’s teachers and parents and provide that student and the student’s parents with an opportunity for a hearing conducted in accordance with the due process of law; and
- Prohibition against all forms of Social Emotional Learning, without informed prior parental consent. This includes surveys or instructional materials or lessons with specific data gathering, that intends to determine the emotional state of a student, or views held by a student. This prohibition is consistent with the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA, 1978) and as amended (2002), which also requires the district to seek parental permission prior to any such activity; and
- Prohibition against any administrator, school counselor, school psychologist with a master’s or lesser degree, or any teacher or staff member, assigning a mental health, psychological, emotional assessment, or survey, diagnosing, and/or treating or assigning a course of action. Parents must be informed of such request from their student. Parents must be made aware of all and any such assessments and give informed prior consent to any such assessments and/or any data that may be shared with third parties.
Article VI: Freedom of Religion:
- Parents shall be able to excuse their student(s) from ANY school activity if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Source: ACLU The Right to Religious Freedom; and
- Parents have the right to dispute an educational topic that is in conflict with their educational or moral beliefs. Sources: Parental Rights Case Law; CA and Constitutional Parental Rights Case Law.
Article VII: Teachers are not Certified Mental Health Professionals:
Pursuant to The Public Health and Welfare Code 42 USCS § 254c-16 (2) [Title 42. The Public Health and Welfare; Chapter 6A. The Public Health Service; General Powers and Duties; Primary Health Care; Health Centers] – the term qualified mental health professionals refers to “providers of mental health services reimbursed under the Medicare program carried out under title XVIII of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) who have additional training in the treatment of mental illness in children and adolescents or who have additional training in the treatment of mental illness in the elderly.” Teachers are not qualified to provide lessons and/or counseling on matters of mental health or social views.