AAF BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Advocates for Academic Freedom became an active organization in 2009. The need for such an organization was realized by its president, Karen Schroeder, in the early 1980s when she became concerned for the well-being of her country as she witnessed the rapid deterioration of the public educational system.
In the late 1970s, as an elementary classroom teacher, Ms. Schroeder was alarmed when she was required to teach from a history book which demeaned the value of our founding documents, the integrity of our founding fathers, and taught children to respect a democracy and collectivism rather than teach the students that America was a Constitutional Republic.
Ms. Schroeder agrees with Abraham Lincoln who stated that the philosophy of the classroom of one generation would become the philosophy of the government of the next generation. Ms. Schroeder watched this progression first hand and realized that parents were the solution to these problems but they needed more information and encouragement to initiate their right to control of local schools. She created Advocates for Academic Freedom to provide information and support for parents to re-engage in their public schools.
The weak curriculum that she was required to teach also concerned Ms. Schroeder. The Constitution and letters from soldiers describing their experiences during the Revolutionary War had been written by people who knew basic grammar, the value of concise sentence structure, and the importance each word held in a sentence. It was very unsettling for Ms. Schroeder to see that American students were allowed to ignore the tools of cogent expression. Classes in math, history, science, and literature suffered similar declines in educational standards.
Each year irrelevant activities took more time from classroom instruction. One year, the principal asked all teachers to present the video, “The Story of Stuff” at the beginning of first hour class. Not only is this an activity that interrupted the learning of students in every subject, but the video was an anti-American propaganda piece which presented five falsehoods as truth during the first few minutes of the video. After Ms. Schroeder stopped the video and corrected the falsehoods, she talked to the group of teachers who had recommended the video. These teachers felt that a new America was being created and that Ms. Schroeder had no right to override the wisdom of the college professors from Ivy League schools, brilliant educational experts, and school administrators who were all able to see the importance of the video.
Conservative teachers who express frustration with the unnecessary decline in academic standards are rebuked, mocked, shunned, and often punished. Too often, children who express views that are conservative are often told that they are foolish, irrational, idealistic, presumptuous, and setting themselves up for failure. Many school libraries have resource materials which reflect respect for every culture, religion, lifestyle choice, and governmental system except conservatism and a Constitutional Republic.
When Ms. Schroeder offered to donate two magazines and a conservative newspaper to the library of the school in which she taught, the librarian firmly responded by claiming that the donation offer was out-of-line. The librarian explained that all resource purchases were curriculum based, suggested by textbook companies, approved by the librarian and a committee from each subject area. The problem was that the list of suggested resources were anti-conservative, collectivistic in nature, and provided by outside special interest groups who were “buying” their way into the classroom by providing their materials at little or no cost to the district. Special interest groups also get their materials into the classroom by making them available through generous grants. MS. SCHROEDER BECAME MORE DETERMINED AND HAS SINCE DONATED CONSERVATIVE RESOURCE MATERIALS TO MANY SCHOOLS.
Ms. Schroeder is not only alarmed that our children are being robbed of a quality education, but she is also concerned for the future of the American political system. Since retirement she has dedicated much time approaching the problems in the educational system from the outside.
The goals of Advocates for Academic Freedom are:
- Advocate academic freedom for all students
- Support comprehensive and effective accountability programs
- Promote respect for the value of truth
- Promote academic excellence through fact-based curriculums
- Promote teaching for mastery
- Bring conservative current events materials to the school libraries
- Bring traditional American values to the classroom
- Return critical thinking skills to school curriculums
THE FOLLOWING PROVIDE DETAILS ABOUT THE GOALS AND PHILOSOPHY OF ADVOCATES FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM:
FOUNDERS AND PUBLIC EDUCATION
Many current debates about education represent a false assumption that the founding fathers did not support public education. In the Federalist Papers, John Adams described public education as a movement for universal education which began in 1647 in New England. The Massachusetts legislature passed a law requiring every community of 50 families or households to establish a free public grammar school to teach the “fundamentals of reading, writing, ciphering, history, geography, and Bible study.” They made it a crime for any town to be “destitute of a grammar schoolmaster” for even a few months and subjected it to heavy penalty. The penalty was so large that it was much cheaper for the town to provide public education than not. John Adams wrote that the educational expectation was designed to have “knowledge diffused generally through the whole body of the people. So that the education of all rank of people was made the care and expense of the public, in a manner that I believe has been unknown to any other people, ancient or modern.”
At the time the founders wrote the Constitution, they also wrote the Northwest Ordinance which is considered by many to represent the first federal education standards. Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance states: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” Notice that formal education was to include among its responsibilities the teaching of religion and morality. The first English Bible in America was published by Congress for use in schools. One of these Bibles is on display at the capital and its intended use is printed inside the front cover.*
Thomas Jefferson wrote a “Bill for Establishing Elementary Schools in Virginia” and emphasized that “No religious reading, instruction, or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced inconsistent with the tenants of any religious sect or denomination.” These restrictions limited religious instruction in public schools to those tenants which were universally accepted by all faiths and completely fundamental in their premises.
During a visit to France, John Adams was sickened by the realization that only about 500 thousand of the 24 million inhabitants were literate. Our founders realized that unless our people were educated and moral, we could not keep our republic. The success of their efforts was recorded in DEMOCRACY OF AMERICA written in 1831 by Alexis de Tocqueville: “In New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution. In the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon.”
Our founders cared about the quality of education for every child. They understood that the philosophy of the classroom of one generation would become the philosophy of the government of the next generation. Citizenship was not easy for our founders, and they did not expect it to be easy for future generations. They knew this wonderful experiment of individual liberty and freedom would fail if future generations neglected their obligation to protect diligently the Constitution and fight for the right of every citizen to have a quality public education. Once again our founders were proven correct. When a large group of citizens protect the education of their own child only, the philosophy of the classroom deteriorates and the philosophy of the government devolves away from a republic. This reality is evident in the American classroom an in American politics today. Citizens have not been diligent on these issues. To compensate for this neglect, our generation must make significant sacrifices if things are going to be improved.
Our founders sacrificed to create a Constitutional Republic for us. Generations of ancestors have given their lives to protect that Constitutional Republic. An examination of current social studies books used in private and public schools will show that little if any reference is made to a republic or a Constitutional Republic. Most of the information focuses on democracy and social justice. Our republic has been slowly lost without the shedding of a single drop of blood. Is it too late to regain our republic?
People who unite and dedicate a few hours each week to the project will be the new “soldiers” who will save the republic and return traditional American values to our society. We owe that to our children, our society, our founders, and ourselves.
*See the video posted on the blog page on my website for more information about this Bible and the role of religion in education. http://advocatesforacademicfreedom.org/
Legislators across our country have created a golden opportunity to bring accountability to education and to return traditional American values to the classroom. This can be done with the support from teachers IF LEGISLATORS create accountability programs that empower teachers to decide which teaching methods would be most appropriate for any given situation in the classroom. Accountability programs must also be objective, impartial, and free from political and social influences.
LOCAL CONTROL OF SCHOOLS IS SACRED IN AMERICA
In Wisconsin, and most states in the United States, local control of schools is considered sacred; but too few parents exercise their influence on school policy. State legislators influence the standards provided by the state departments of education, but state departments of education have little influence on school policy. Many conservative parents are hopeful that the election of conservative legislators will result in the educational system returning to traditional American values and high academic and behavioral standards. This is NOT necessarily true. The pendulum will swing in education when the parents organize and demand that the schools adopt the academic and behavioral policies that have historically made our schools successful.
If a legislator passes a law requiring that all schools teach students that America is a Constitutional Republic, for example, the state department of education must include that requirement in the Common Core State Standards. (These standards may have different names in each state and can be found on the website for each state department of education). Adding new legislative standards occurs when new standards are written by state departments of education. The last time the Wisconsin Department of Education wrote standards for social studies was during the late 1990s. Therefore, any new law would become part of updated standards if the law is viable when the new standards are written. Legislators must demand that Common Core State Standards are updated annually as legislation is passed.
A state department of education cannot require any text book company to include state standards in their social studies text books. Individual school districts are not required to adopt the standards created by the state department of education. Each school district has a choice to adopt the Common Core State Standards or write their own. For example, schools that cannot afford new text books may write their own standards based on the content of their current text book.
Too many parents believe that the state departments of education have more power than they really do because school boards feign responsibility to the Common Core State Standards in an effort to discourage any changes to their current policies. Conservative legislation can have a positive impact on school change at this point. If that legislation becomes part of the Common Core State Standards, the parent has “state support” for his requested changes. When parents are unaware of the process, they often surrender their influence because they are frustrated, confused, and intimidated. Advocates for Academic Freedom was created to help provide parents with the necessary information to push back effectively. Once parents are successful, they must be willing to support a local referendum to cover the cost of updated textbooks which include the new standards.
Many parents simply choose to run from the public education process rather than spend precious time standing up to the process. But many of the alternative learning environments have already been infiltrated by liberal propaganda. Some conservative parents have indicated that in this case they will just find another private school or learning option for their child. When children begin to make friends and become involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities, they will protest bouncing among schools. Then what will the parent do? Finally surrender? The time for change is now.
Real change in education requires parental involvement. The Advocates for Academic Freedom website has everything a parent needs to begin the process. The button entitled Educational Goals provides resolutions that can be presented to legislators. Simply change the word BECAUSE to WHEREAS and change the word THEREFORE to BE IT RESOLVED. Parents may ask their legislators to turn these resolutions into law.
Advocates for Academic Freedom has a petition that visitors to the site may sign. Signed petitions will be sent to the representative of the signee. The more petitions each representative receives, the more support he expects for each change. This is very important for the successful passage of legislation. When Obama Care was being debated on the floor of the house and senate, legislators rolled out dollies stacked with huge boxes filled with signed petitions requesting government-provided health care. This action was persuasive.
Parents need to visit school libraries to make sure conservative principles are represented. Advocates for Academic Freedom provides a step-by-step process for accomplishing this task. Let school leadership know that your child feels censored and bullied when his ideas are not represented. Protect your child from being “punished” because you have become an advocate.
To protect their child, parents have a right to demand that teachers provide specific standards for each grade option for each assignment. This is easy for teachers to do. When I began teaching, this was a required practice. It helped the teacher and the child focus on the mastery of basic facts and the development of specific skills while discouraging personal ideologies from infiltrating the lessons. If the child meets the standards described for an “A”, then he earns an “A”. If he meets the standards for a “D”, he earns a “D”. Parents must be willing to accept this consequence gracefully. Grading standards have become very flexible and often meaningless because of parental demands for easy grades! ! ! The schools have become what they are because of the demands made by some parents and the indifference of many. Too few parents recognize this fact. Parents have the greatest level of influence on their local schools. GET INVOLVED AND ENCOURAGE OTHER PARENTS TO JOIN YOU.
Accountability in Education: Introduction
Most teachers realize that a credible accountability program would make their jobs more manageable and return respectability to the profession. If accountability programs are going to be successfully implemented, we must overcome the historical evidence that any accountability program is likely to be politicized and ineffective. Discussions of accountability in education must include curriculum, administrators, school boards, educational experts, peer-review publications, legislation, parents and students. Current efforts are failing because the focus is mainly on public school teachers who have the least amount of power or influence to correct the problems in the educational system.
The problems began at the college level. In 1951, William F. Buckley, Jr. complained in God and Man at Yale that college professors were often selected because of their social and political standing. The value of the subject matter that educators were expected to disseminate to their students had become irrelevant, in part, because words no longer had fixed meanings; therefore, values and ethics had become relative. Because his warnings went unheeded, even basic math facts became relative by the 1970s.*
Mr. Buckley addressed the impact of these social and educational practices on other academic areas. Economics courses became collectivistic as did sociology and psychology classes. Professors who advocated for conservative ideologies were publicly criticized. Mr. Buckley seemed to be sending a plea for a grassroots effort to stop the disregard for ethics in American Ivy League colleges. Had his warnings been addressed, perhaps the public educational system would be stronger today.
While neither the skill nor the intellect of college professors has been the issue, authors like Charlotte Allen wrote in the November 29, 2010 Weekly Standard that “most people, including students, poorly comprehend even the most elementary and agreed-upon principles of economics.” The curriculum, the teaching methods, and the imposed social philosophies were identified as the culprits.
Ms Allen and William F. Buckley, Jr. admit that students are learning what they are taught which is not academic as much as it is political. Colleges and the public schools have willingly or unwittingly embraced social engineering. Both authors have shown that our educational system has been very successful in fulfilling this goal. When teachers successfully do what they have been instructed to do, they should not be criticized for the results!
Before there can be credible accountability programs in education, the purpose of the educational system must be redefined. Teachers must be assured that the assessment process will be fact based, ethical, and free of political and social manipulation. Sound learning goals must include development of critical thinking skills, an active search for truth, and a respect for values and ethics. If critical thinking skills become an integral part of the curriculum, the argument that perception is reality and that truth is relative will be limited. Conservative current-events materials must be placed in school libraries as a first step in reaching these goals. No longer should schools be allowed to censure conservative views from the curriculum or class room discussions.
Achieving genuine discussions about accountability for academics in education is one goal of Advocates for Academic Freedom. Please join us in this quest by becoming a member and contributing to our purpose.
A few sources which address math standards since the 1960s:
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards and principles 1960 through 2008
Katherine Kersten, “Teachers Group Takes Lint Remover to ‘Fuzzy Math,'” Star Tribune, October 5, 2006
Debra J. Saunders, “Return to Basics Is Still Fuzzy Math,” Star Tribune, September 18,2006
Anne Wheelock, Crossing the Tracks: How “Untracking” Can Save America’s Schools, New York, NY.: The New Press 1992 pp.244-245
Accountability in Education Issue II Administrators
Teachers are facing inevitable accountability programs. It is time that we unite to assure that teachers are not held solely accountable for the problems facing their profession.
The May 18, 2011, issue of the Rice Lake Chronotype article “Schools beleaguered by retaliation” records the observations of Team Works International, an impartial third party hired to identify the problems facing the district. A few of the problems identified were:
- Inconsistency among administration
- Absence of clear directives, administrative oversight and accountability
- Excessive administrative “ command and control”
- Absence of creativity and too much compliance
- Cronyism and manipulation of the system
- Punishment for teachers who “speak up” at meetings
Unfortunately, the problems identified in the Rice Lake School District are present in many American school districts and represent the reasons pilot programs for merit pay and accountability programs have always failed.
The impact of the best trained, most talented teachers on the academic success of students is often hindered by an incompetent administrator, yet, rarely are administrators included in the discussion about accountability in education. About fifty percent of new teachers leave the profession before their fifth year of teaching, and one of the most common reasons given for leaving the profession is a lack of support.*Since it is the responsibility of school leadership to create a supportive environment, school administrators must become part of the discussion and the solution to accountability in education.
If the school district sets academic and behavioral standards for the classroom but administrators do not support the teachers who implement those standards, the teacher will be ineffective. For example; if district standards require that children arrive to class on time and the district provides a consequence for those children who are late, administrators must support teachers who implement the consequence. If a parent rejects that consequence for his child and the administrator supports that parent, repercussions for those teachers who continue to implement the standard often become unbearable.
Soon, even the cooperative students will avoid a consequence by simply claiming the teacher is mean and treats them differently than he treats other students. No longer is tardiness an issue for the parent; now the issue has become an incompetent teacher who is mistreating a child. This is a FALSE ISSUE, but it becomes the focus. This is often too much pressure for teachers. Many of the strongest teachers will eventually ignore tardiness to avoid being called into the principal’s office while a child watches the parent accuse the teacher of being mean and discriminatory for implementing the required consequence as the administrator sits by silently.
The situation is similar for academic standards. If the administrator of the school is unable or unwilling to implement reasonable consequences for students who refuse to accept basic behavioral and/or academic standards, the teacher will not be successful in expecting students to follow these standards.
During my thirty-six years in the classroom, teachers in my district evaluated our principals on three occasions. After the first two evaluations, teachers were told that the results were negative and seemed vindictive thereby serving no purpose. The third evaluation process required that teachers submit evaluations to the principals. The district then provided a summary of the results and a list of teacher concerns and suggestions. When many teachers realized that their concerns had been omitted, it became obvious that the principals discarded the most negative evaluations. District administrators decided that evaluations of principals were unnecessary because so few teachers responded.
Credible accountability programs must include teacher evaluations of a principal’s effectiveness in implementing district academic and behavioral standards. Principals should also be evaluated on their ability and willingness to provide support and encouragement for teachers who are trying to implement programs intended to help students reach their academic potential. These evaluations should provide space for teachers to give specific examples. District administrators need to take teacher concerns seriously. Perhaps the evaluations should be submitted to an impartial third party who makes specific recommendations to the school district. Until administrators are held accountable for their role in assuring quality learning environments for students and supportive work environments for dedicated teachers, there will be little accountability in education.
*http://www.edutopia.org/new-teacher-burnout-retention or http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/05/08/AR2006050801344.html
An alternative to the teacher’s union: http://www.aaeteachers.org/index.php/blog/432-aae-state-policy-update-may-16-2011
PEER REVIEW POLITICIZES ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAMS
AAF has been encouraging citizens and politicians to return traditional American values, fact-based curriculum, critical thinking skills, and accountability to the educational system. To be successful, our legislators need to know that you support quality educational opportunities for every student in every educational setting.
Peer review and teacher mentoring are no better cures for the problems facing education today than they were when William Buckley, Jr. wrote God and Man at Yale. Peer review did not work when thousands of highly respected scientists were prevented from addressing global warming issues, or when respected historians falsely accused George Washington of being a Deist,* or when citizen groups unsuccessfully tried to reinstate critical thinking skills as an educational goal.* Peer review and mentoring too often allow a single-minded philosophy to be protected while truth, scientific principles, ethics, and traditional American values are replaced with political, social, and financial goals.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, students accepted into colleges of education had to hold at least a “B” average in high school, our smartest and finest students. That group of teachers was prepared to implement traditional teaching methods as well as a variety of modern methods including cooperative grouping of students, increased calculator use, and a move from paper and pencil assignments to more group projects. The teachers educated during the 70s were encouraged to use journals, student opinion, and projects as an integral part of the grading process.
When these teachers realized that many of the recommended teaching methods were replacing academic achievement with indoctrination into collectivistic ideologies, many teachers melded the best aspects of these methods with traditional teaching methods. When their students were academically successful, they found that younger teachers and administrators became angry and focused on those teachers’ hesitation to implement fully those modern teaching methods rather than discuss the reasons for their students’ academic success. Younger teachers were being taught to reject all traditional teaching methods as inferior, and administrators were directed to focus on equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities. The younger teachers and administrators turned against the more senior teachers calling them antiquated, inept, or dead wood. The academic success of the student seemed irrelevant.
At that time, the only standardized testing tool was the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Teachers who wanted to know the progress of these students would have to look up each child’s academic file. This was impossible for teachers of students in the sixth grade because those student files were transferred to the middle school during the summer months.
Teachers who researched student testing scores to determine whether high academic and behavioral standards were being met and who continued to teach traditional American values became as vulnerable to criticisms and public humiliation as Ivy League Professors faced in God and Man at Yale, and as professors and citizen groups faced in “More Adam Smith, Please…and less Barbara Ehrenreich” printed in the November 29, 2010 issue of The Weekly Standard, and as teachers experienced in No! Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It by David Walsh, PhD and many other sources.
Because Peer review systems quickly become political processes which typically prevent any consideration of opposing viewpoints, teachers have little confidence that an objective accountability program can be implemented in education. If the goal of accountability programs is to assure that schools embrace high academic standards, effective accountability programs must hold responsible all who impact the learning experience. Standards must be fact based and well defined in advance. The evaluation process must be removed from the politics of a typical school environment and must be performed by well-informed, impartial third parties.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CLASSROOM OF ONE GENERATION BECOMES THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NEXT GENERATION. Abe Lincoln
*Sacred Fire by Peter A. Lillback
* “More Adam Smith, Please…and less Barbara Ehrenreich”, Weekly Standard, November 29, 2010.
CHEATING BY ATLANTA EDUCATORS REVEALS SPECIFIC CHANGES NEEDED
The current revelation that a significant number of Atlanta teachers and administrators were caught changing student test scores reveals the desperation educators experience when they are held accountable for productivity while given little power to make classroom decisions that would promote maximum academic achievement among students.
Educational experts continue to prepare new teachers to use the same teaching methods which have failed our children for seventy years. Administrators endorse these inadequate methods by basing teacher evaluations on the teachers’ implementation of the same methods of instruction. Cooperative grouping of children and the inquiry and discovery methods of instruction all have positive aspects, but they are not necessarily the most effective methods for introducing new concepts to children or for development of student understanding of fundamental principles.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recommended that calculators replace the memorization of basic facts, that students be required to do less pencil and paper assignments, and that math homework be limited. These approaches have failed our students, and the proof is in the rapid decline of student test scores over the last seventy years. If teachers are going to be held accountable for academic success of students, teachers must be empowered to select the teaching methods which will bring positive results to any specific learning situation. That includes a return to a reasonable amount of homework in core subjects where repetition is essential to memorize basic facts as in math and grammar and where extensive reading is necessary as in literature and history.
Academic success has also been hindered by heterogeneous grouping of children, a result of the Brown vs. the Board of Education law suit in the 1950s. Consequently, each classroom must include students of differing ability levels and diverse backgrounds creating insurmountable problems in many classrooms. This level of diversity in the classroom requires the teacher to find a teaching method which reaches all students equally. This is often impossible. Continuing to ignore this truth almost guarantees poor academic results. Students who struggle academically need to have new information presented differently than a presentation would be for students who have a strong background, interest, or aptitude for the subject. Yet, teachers are not given the flexibility to group children according to learning style or needs, but they are held solely responsible for the consequences of this impractical situation.
While these problems are not the only ones which limit a teacher’s opportunity to help students excel, they are among the most damaging. This professional educational environment is not unlike holding a teacher accountable for maintaining high academic and behavioral standards even though her mouth has been taped shut and her hands tied behind her back. Such an untenable educational environment is destructive to the educational process, to students, and to our society.
Curriculum materials too often focus on political and social goals rather than mastery of basic skills that are prerequisites for student proficiency in the subject. Even math teachers have been required to spend class time showing videos like THE STORY OF STUFF and AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH which do not address age-appropriate math issues relevant to the class curriculum. Critical thinking skills have been removed from classroom curriculum because their development would require two sides of an issue to be discussed. There has been no time planned for this discussion in the modern classroom so one side of an issue has been imposed time and again upon both students and teachers even though the irrelevance of the socio/political goal to the subject matter is clear. This would not happen if student academic achievement were the primary goal.
An investigator of the Alabama cheating stated, “In sum, a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation permeated the APS system from the highest ranks down. Cheating was allowed to proliferate until, in the words of one former APS principal, ‘it became intertwined in Atlanta Public Schools … a part of what the culture is all about.’ ” Many educators are trying to use this experience as proof that assessment tools are the culprit, but that is the wrong approach to take.
Children must learn how to take tests because they face tests throughout their lives. ACT and SAT tests are required to enter college, and college exams provide the main criteria for determining a student’s grade. Teachers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, realtors, electricians, and plumbers are all tested to prove their competence and their understanding of the subject matter. Testing is NOT the problem. A culture that refuses to place the academic achievement of students above political and social ideologies is the problem.
The most effective solution to the problem of cheating among teachers and administrators is to empower teachers to use the teaching methods which best meet the needs of their students, to refuse curriculum that does not focus on the subject, to provide curriculums that encourage the mastery of basic skills, and to require students to meet practical academic expectations by consistently showing their work and finishing reasonable amounts of homework. This support for teachers must come from the American public.
Financial documents are provided upon request. Please use the “Contact Us” feature on our website.
Board of Directors
Karen Schroeder is President of Advocates for Academic Freedom. With 36 years of experience teaching at the elementary school and the middle school levels, she retired and became an educational consultant for local political candidates. Karen provides seminars about educational issues for the general public. Ms. Schroeder is a free-lance writer and a contributor to many publications including the Eau Claire Journal, Missouri Education Watchdog, and Conservative Teachers of America.
Karen formed Advocates for Academic Freedom because she and fellow conservative teachers often wondered, “Why do conservative parents surrender their children and tax dollars to progressive ideologies when they could actively support the teacher who is trying to retain high academic and behavioral standards, critical thinking skills, and mastery of basic facts?” She wants to provide parents with information and encouragement to regain control of their local schools.
Karen has Masters’ degrees in special education and learning disabilities from the College of St. Thomas. She negotiated teacher contracts in the early 1980s and is the president of KPT’s and a property management company. Karen is also the current President of the Barron County Republican Women.
Pat Malesa has a degree in Medical Technology from Mount Mary College. During her forty-year tenure working in various hospitals in the Milwaukee area, Pat raised four children. Political activism has been a lifelong passion. Serving with the Vilas County and Oneida County Republican Parties, Pat has held several leadership roles. She currently serves as second Vice-Chair of RPOC. Education has always been a focus for Pat. Assuring that her children received the finest educational opportunities possible, Pat wishes to continue working for academic excellence in all educational settings.
Marcia Fridland is the Secretary of Advocates for Academic Freedom. She is a grammarian and English teacher with twenty-eight years of teaching experience at the high school level. Her students were frequent winners of the coveted national writing contest sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English. Ms. Fridland is a free-lance writer and has been published in many women’s magazines. She has a Master’s Degree in English/Education from the College of St. Thomas.
Larry Schroeder is the treasurer of Advocates for Academic Freedom. Mr. Schroeder has a BSME degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a sales manager for Carter-Day Company, the Principal of Cedar Lake Engineering Company, and is currently the sales manager for Air-Cure Inc. Mr. Schroeder is a past member of four NFPA Technical Committee.
Tamara K. Olson is the Director of Marketing and Promotions for Advocates for Academic Freedom. Ms. Olson’s networking and communication skills and her dental office administrative experience have proven effective tools for advancing AAF. She is President of Olson’s Communications, a custom design company which creates unique and artistic tools for written communication. Ms. Olson is a member of many service organizations including the Barron County Republican Women.
Representative Romaine Quinn is a board member of Advocates for Academic Freedom and the youngest Mayor of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He is earning a political science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Barron County. Mr. Quinn is Chairman of the Planning Commission and has been a City Council Member for the City of Rice Lake, Chairman of the Parks, Recreation, and Cemetery Board, member of the Community Development Block Grant, and member of the Housing Authority Board. Mayor Quinn is a sales associate for Mosaic Telecom. He has attended Young America Foundation Conferences in Washington D.C. and in Minneapolis. He is president of the Barron County Teenage Republicans and he is assisting in the creation of the Barron County Young Republicans group. Romaine is currently the Representative of Wisconsin’s 75th Assembly District.
Robert O. Olson is a fund raiser whose skills are in high demand. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for many individual political candidates and service organizations. Some candidates who have benefitted from Mr. Olson’s fundraising include Governor Scott Walker, Senator Sean Duffy, Representative Ron Johnson, and Representative Roger Rivard. With 35 years of experience in promotions including television advertising, public relations, and professional association management, Robert Olson is a respected resource for community organizations. With his demonstrated successful leadership abilities in his work within the business community, the Home Builders Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business, he is a popular public speaker on topics relating to fundraising, leadership skills, and managing political campaigns. As Director of Membership and Field Services for The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (USJC), Tulsa, Oklahoma (1986-1990), he developed and administered membership drives and incentive and retention programs for two-hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) members. He also developed and administered the Ten Outstanding Young Americans Congress, the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce National Convention, and the USJC National Membership Awards program.
Nichole Jensen is a mother of young children whose insight regarding the needs facing parents with pre-school age children has been most helpful in forming policy for Advocates for Academic Freedom. Ms. Jensen employs her networking skills to help AAF reach parents of pre-school and early elementary age children.
Barbara McPartlin is an advocate for children with special learning needs. She plays a key role in assuring that the needs of special needs students and their parents are not overlooked during transitional periods of educational change.
Berni Rivard provides insight into office management and assists with communications. Mrs. Rivard was the communications director and campaign organizer for her husband’s successful run for the 75th District Assembly. Mrs. Rivard has been an office manager for twenty years.
Representative Roger Rivard is an advisory member of the Board of Directors. Before his successful run for Assembly, Representative Rivard was a real estate broker and developer in Rice Lake, Wisconsin and parts of northern Wisconsin. Representative Rivard has dedicated much of his life to volunteer service. He served as President of the Rice Lake Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the St. Joseph’s School Board, as Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, as Scoutmaster for Troop 28. He served as a volunteer firefighter and first responder for the Rice Lake Fire Department for over 20 years. Support for a comprehensive educational policy which includes successful public schools, home-schooling, private schools, voucher programs and other educational issues has been integral to Representative Rivard’s Assembly campaign.
Tom Gjerde has a BS degree in forestry from the University of Wisconsin. He has spent twenty years working in the forestry products industry. The father of two sons, Tom serves as a Basketball Official with the WIAA and is a volunteer for many youth basketball programs. Tom has current experience with charter schools and public schools since he has a son in each educational setting. Tom’s experiences and insights will serve AAF well.
Joyce Bant, a mother of five children, was the past Chair of the Oneida County Republican Party, a Vice-Chair in 2004, and a past Vice President of the Lakeland Area Republican Women’s Club. She is a Program Assistant for the Community Corrections and for McNaughton Correctional Center for the Department of Corrections for the State of Wisconsin. She participated in the Community Historians in Residence Project with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and was on the board of the Price County Historical Society from 1984-1989. She served as President of the board of the Forest History Association of Wisconsin from 1989-1992. Joyce received a writer’s award at the 25th anniversary of Rhinelander School of the Arts for “The Story of Ruth.” She received the Distinguished Service Award from the Forest History Association of Wisconsin for “contributions as a Director and officer and as the researcher and author of a widely acclaimed study of the now extinct mill town of Knox Mills in Price County” She has also received the coveted Alan E. Bovay Award at the 8th Congressional District in recognition of outstanding contributions made to the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 2009.
Grace Mueller is a retired member of the Kewaskum School District Board of Education (2012-present). During her fifteen year tenure with CESA #1, and as their alternative programs grew, Ms. Mueller became the Administrative Assistant to both the Directors of Special and Alternative Education. Prior employment included serving as Executive and Legal secretaries to Universal Mortgage, Whyte Hirschboeck, and Frishch Dudek Ltd.. From 1979 to 1985, Grace earned the “Rookie of the Year” award from the Wauwatosa Realty, served on the Washington County Board of Realtors, and organized Home Shows. From 1976 to 1979, Grace transcribed disciplinary reports for the West Bend School District Department of Special Services. She participated in off-campus programs provided through Mr. Senario College and attended real estate course at Moraine Park Technical Institute in order to obtain her State of Wisconsin realtor license. Ms. Mueller has dedicated her life to her community and the children in that community through a variety of service organizations including the Cedar Valley Center-Town of West Bend.