Deborah Torres Henning, a mother of four, appeared at a March 9 meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature in New York to read the heartbreaking testimony of Gwendolynn Britt, who suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband. Britt’s testimony, which was read in her absence, compared the abuse she experienced in her marriage to the suffering that children are enduring under the Common Core standards. Britt warned that our children are being conditioned to accept abuse through the implementation of the Common Core Standards: “It took one final, massive beating for me to leave. By then my brain had been hardwired to accept bad as good, good as bad, and to believe that I was a small-minded crazy woman who didn’t deserve better.”
Henning read more of Britt’s story at the meeting:
I was the victim of abuse at the hands of my husband. For years, he emotionally and verbally abused me. This may sound strange, but I was relieved the first time he beat me. I finally had something to show others. I finally had something he couldn’t twist and manipulate. Something tangible that he could no longer claim was my imagination. When I look at Common Core assignments I see them as a physical manifestation of the abuse that is occurring right now, across our country, directed squarely at our children.
For a decade I was told by my “loved one” that I was stupid and crazy. I was told that things I knew in my heart were right, were really wrong. I was told things that I really felt in my heart were wrong, were really right. If I said, “I have an idea!” I was told, “Don’t think.” If I said, “I feel like this is wrong,” I was told, “I make the decisions. This is my domain.” If I cried after being yelled at for four hours and asked to be allowed to care for our four small children, I was told I was crazy. You see [I was told] my priorities were backwards. My allegiance should be to my husband first, not our children. It’s been four years since I left him and to this day I cannot think or speak the words, “I have an idea” without hearing him yell back, “Don’t think!”
Britt said that when she looks at her children and sees what’s happening with the Common Core standards, alarm bells go off in her head. “I ignored these bells in the past and I vowed never to ignore them again.”
She said it’s abusive to test children on developmentally inappropriate math standards and then fault them for failing. “You are essentially giving them a task they cannot do and then telling them they’re stupid. Now do that over and over and over again,” she said. “Are these rigorous results we are looking for or is this simply abusive?”
Many of these students are then diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, Britt said. “Now we are telling the child there is something wrong with them mentally. We are telling them that they are crazy.”
“Children naturally want to please. They want their parents and teachers to be proud of them. Let me tell you from experience, if your hand gets slapped every time you reach out, guess what you learn to do? You stop. You just stop trying. Do you want your children turning away? Do you want them giving up? That’s what they will have to do to protect themselves. They will retreat away from their parents and teachers. They will no longer feel safe to take that next step. To reach out — to venture out and grow,” she said.
Britt warned that Common Core will cause the hearts, minds, and spirits of children to atrophy. “We’ve only begun down this path. Imagine what it will look like in ten years,” she asked.
Henning and other parents appeared before the Dutchess County Legislature to ask them to send a resolution to the New York State Legislature supporting repeal of the Common Core.