Asking Questions in Meetings

If what happened to Christel Swasey and others in the Wasatch School District Meeting is any indication of state tactics to avoid answering your questions, you need to be prepared to take control back in a meeting. There are a few tactics that get used in meetings you need to be aware of.

  1. The presenter drones on and doesn’t leave time for questions.
  2. The presenter deflects your question and tries to act like nobody else is interested and they’ll address your question after the meeting.
  3. The presenter works to separate you from the group during the meeting so you or your position are isolated. There are cases elsewhere, where a person might be pulled out of the room for someone to answer your question.

This is called the Delphi Technique and if you read this excellent article you will be prepared to defend yourself against it.

In general:

  1. Keep a calm voice and never lose your cool.
  2. Bring the person you’ve asked the question to, back on subject to answer your question. Stay focused.
  3. Don’t let them deflect or delay. Just calmly reiterate that your question hasn’t been answered.
  4. If someone else is being deflected, support them by asking the question again.

Read this report by Christel Swasey’s experience in a Wasatch School District meeting presentation by State Office of Education official Judy Park.

Here are some questions which you can ask at meetings. Please post your questions below in the comments.

  • Where is some empirical evidence that Common Core tests are based upon legitimate educational standards?
  • Why hasn’t a cost study been done to determine the actual costs of implementing common core?
  • Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests? What will it cost per pupil?
  • Since a main selling point of Common Core was that we would have portability of students, why did Utah decide to adopt the integrated upper math version with Vermont instead of discrete years of math like all the other states?
  • Did you know that Common Core delays full completion of algebra to 9th grade while our 2007 standards set it in 8th? This means most students in Utah will not be able to take an authentic calculus class in 12th grade. How can we get better standards back in Utah?
  • Since Common Core introduces behavioral testing and tracking of our children, how can we opt our children out of all testing and tracking? State law says I have a “fundamental liberty interest” in the education of my children and the state is only there to support me in my responsibility. If that is true, and state law says it is, I want to know the process.
  • What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
  • Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
  • Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
  • What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system?
  • Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
  • I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
  • Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
  • The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.


4 thoughts on “Asking Questions in Meetings”

  1. Soon after Clinton’s election, the New Yorker did a cover story on Hillary and praised her in using this technique in her efforts to reform education in Arkansas and then again to take over healthcare. They actually praised her for manipulating people.

  2. If possible, take others with you to the meetings that share your views. Do not enter together and do not sit together or speak to each other during the meeting. Try to disperse yourselves evenly throughout the room. Ask your questions and back each other up as suggested in the article. Spreading out also gives you the opportunity to reach more people who are sitting near you when they have questions they may not want to ask to the whole group.

  3. When I asked two of our State legislatures, namely Senate leader Wayne Neiderhauser and my House Representative LaVar Christensen, where they stood on the issue of Common Core, there has been dead silence.
    My guess – (1) they were unaware of it’s implementation (2) they chose not to address such a controversial issue or (3) they are in agreement with it, partly as a result of the Federal funding flowing into the State’s educational coffers.
    When I called the Governor’s office, they deflected and said Governor Herbert had no control over the implementation or curriculum and that it was each school district’s responsibility. Not buying it. The Governor has full cognizance of any specific educational funding from the Federal Government. It’s in his budget and he knew what was in there for Common Core implementation. If he didn’t know what the curriculum entailed, then he didn’t want to know.

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