Parents Outraged over School District’s Common Core Questions: Religion, Assault Rifles and More

By on October 18, 2013

by Shannon Jones

A Maryland high school has allegedly dispensed a survey to its sophomore class that requested the students answer personal questions about themselves and their families.

The Blaze was the first news organization to break the story, following complaints by parents about the survey, which was then followed up by asking the school district questions. At first, the allegations were denied, but within the hour, all traces of the survey and its “opt out” form were deleted from the school’s education web portal.

Dana Tofig, the Montgomery County School District’s public information officer, has since admitted that the survey did exist and confirmed that it had been removed. Tofig also stated that the survey was a volunteer project created by students. Parents state that what Tofig said was a lie and the survey was put together by teachers with some student involvement, not the other way around.

At Poolesville High School, sophomores stated that they were told it was an anonymous survey that was to be taken as a part of a lesson about polls and demographics. Parents of these students said that whether or not the students were told that it was an anonymous survey, they were still instructed to log into their own Edline accounts, which is an online education support system for teachers, students, and parents. The accounts do require names and passwords in order to log on.

Among the questions asked in the survey was, “If President Obama were Caucasian how much more or less criticism do you think he would he receive?” Other questions included the basic survey questions involving gender, number of siblings, race, religion, and the name of the school that the students attend in the Montgomery District. The survey continues by asking the student’s sexual orientation. Most of the remaining questions dealt with whether or not assault rifles should be banned, whether marijuana should be legal in the state, the student’s feelings on ObamaCare, parents’ political stance, who is to blame for the government shutdown, and should same sex marriage be legal? There are also several other simple questions such as what time the school day starts and a question about field trips.

When the survey was brought up at a town hall event, Superintendent Starr’s only response was that, “We had already heard about it… something we don’t know about.”

For the most part, members of the school district are remaining silent on the survey and are not answering any questions. Although, Dana Tofig did release an official statement, which says:

Students at Poolesville High School’s Advanced Placement (AP) National, State, and Local Government class are studying polls, surveys and trends. Several students in the class volunteered to create a survey after school that would be given to the school’s sophomores and would cover topics that were currently in the news. The idea was that they would then analyze the data and see what trends develop along demographic lines. The poll was given to the 10th graders at Poolesville High only. Some took it in class and, for others, the classroom teachers posted it on EdLine–our system used to communicate with parents and students about homework, assignments and school events– so students could take the survey outside of class.

Normally, surveys that are going to be given to students at Poolesville are provided to school administration to review, but that did not happen in this case. Once the survey was brought to the attention of the administration, it was removed from EdLine.

[…]

The results of the survey were only going to be analyzed by the AP Government classes, and not provided to anyone else. All responses, regardless of where they were submitted, were done anonymously, and neither the students nor the teachers would have had access to the demographic data on a student-by-student basis.

The principal, Deena Levine, spoke to the teachers today. Ultimately, their intent was to help the students create an authentic poll, based on criteria detailed in the AP curriculum, in a way that would engage the students. But she made it clear that the surveys should not have been placed on EdLine, that some of the questions were inappropriate, and that it should have been brought to school leadership to review before it was distributed. The survey has been removed and the results will not be calculated.”

According to one concerned parent, there was no “opt-out” offered, and the one student who tried to say no was bullied into taking the survey by a teacher — another claim that the school district denies.

More information has reportedly come in supporting the parent’s claims that this was not a student created, volunteer survey; however, until additional facts are known, this information will not be released at this time.

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