Photo credit: Bryon Lippincott via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Parent Fights Back After Common Core Math Publisher Sues to Silence Him


Blain Dillard, the Carey, N.C., parent in the Wake County School District that we wrote about several weeks ago who is being sued by a Common Core math curriculum company for speaking out against the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP), is now countersuing:

A Cary parent who is being sued for libel and slander for criticizing a controversial math curriculum that’s being used in the Wake County Public School System has filed a countersuit against the Utah-based company, Mathematics Vision Project, also known as MVP. 

Blain Dillard, a father of three, is asking that MVP pay his attorney’s fees and damages, anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000. In a statement provided Tuesday, an attorney for Dillard said, “It is alarming that a parent would be sued for defamation for expressing opinions and making truthful statements about his son’s high school math curriculum.”

“The lawsuit appears to be an attempt to silence Mr. Dillard and other critics of MVP, and to chill their First Amendment rights to speak about MVP’s services,” Dillard’s attorney, Jeffrey Hunt, wrote. “We believe the lawsuit has no legal merit and we intend to vigorously defend the right of Mr. Dillard, as well as other parents, to have a voice in the education of their children.”

MVP announced in July that it was suing Dillard and accused him of commencing a crusade against the company and acting with reckless disregard by knowingly making false and defamatory statements with the intent to harm MVP’s reputation. The lawsuit accuses him of libel and slander and tortious interference with business relations. The company wants a jury trial and is seeking damages. 

Dillard has said he is “innocent of all allegations and can defend each and every point made in the summons.” Friends and supporters of Dillard have created a website to share court documents and updates about the lawsuit. They also created a GoFundMe account to raise money for his legal defense.  

As it turns out, thanks to excellent research by Cheri Kiesicker at Missouri Education Watchdog, MVP is funded by an organization called Open Up Resources — which is in turn funded by none other than the world’s largest backer of Common Core standards, data collection and testing, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates is now turning his attention to curriculum instead of standards and testing. Open Up Resources is making the MVP curriculum “personalized,” which allows all sorts of individualized data collection, something in which Gates has much interest. According to The Washington Post, about 60 percent of the new $1.7 billion Gates wants to spend on education will be spent to:

…develop new curriculums and “networks of schools” that work together to identify local problems and solutions, using data to drive “continuous improvement.” He said that over the next several years, about 30 such networks would be supported, though he didn’t describe exactly what they are. The first grants will go to high-needs schools and districts in six to eight states, which went unnamed…

… Each [school] network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching and data collection and analysis. [Emphasis added]

As has been written here and many other places, data is the new gold for these big ed tech firms, and they are destroying our children’s privacy and future.

Phil Daro, one of the key architects of the Common Core math standards, is on the board of Open Up Resources. Professor Bill McCallum, another main author of Common Core math, is part of Illustrative Resources, Open Up Resources highest paid contractor. More background is available here.

Although the MVP curriculum is ostensibly “free,” Open Up Resources is charging the Wake County school district $150,000 to train teachers how to use it. From the descriptions of problems with the curriculum reported by Wake County parents whose children are now starting to fail math since using MVP, it appears that this money is being wasted.

Even the Gates-funded Education Week noted:

It’s a surprising move that some say could have broad implications for parent advocacy around curriculum and instruction. A win by the company “would certainly cast a shadow on the idea that parents have a right to participate in their own children’s education, to criticize schools for buying particular textbooks, to voice their concerns about instruction and curriculum,” said Tom Loveless, an education researcher formerly at the Brookings Institution, who is not involved in the case.

Suing parents that disagree with one’s curriculum probably could not be a worse business model. The fact that the school district is not doing anything to support this parent is appalling and will likely only fuel the mass exodus from public schools. Please support Blain Dillard and all parents in this cause to preserve his right to help protect children from bad curriculum and teaching.

Photo credit: Bryon Lippincott via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Karen R. Effrem, MD

Dr. Karen Effrem and her husband have three children. She is trained as a pediatrician and serves as national education issues chairman for Eagle Forum and president of Education Liberty Watch.

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