During a recent public forum held by Maryland’s Department of Education on the nation’s new Common Core curriculum standards, a concerned but mild-mannered parent named Robert Small stood up with notebook in hand to ask a question. What happened next was a chilling scene right out of the Soviet playbook — and it was all captured on video.

“My question is, how does lowering America’s educational standards prepare kids for community college?” asked Small, before being physically accosted and removed by a security guard. At this point, the audience of some 160 parents, teachers, administrators, and others were growing noticeably uneasy, prompting one individual to shout, “Let him ask his question!”

“Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle!” a shocked Small pleaded with the audience. “Is this America?” he asked.

No one stood up in defense of Small. No parents. No teachers. No one.

As a teacher myself, watching a parent who was cool, calm, and collected aggressively be shutdown at a public school forum made my stomach turn inside-out. Teachers put an exorbitant amount of time and emphasis on anti-bully programs. Yet, when the real bullies come out, they cower within the comfort zone of the herd. It’s disgraceful! But in my view, this tragic incident speaks to a broader and far more dire issue: America’s constitutional crisis.

Not enough citizens seem to have what it takes to defend traditional principles of liberty anymore. Yellow-bellied politicians have sold themselves out for more power at the expense of those they serve, while those they serve suck their thumbs in dark corners. Such public apathy is exactly what emboldens the government bullies and their cronies to run roughshod over us. One only has to reflect on the escalating strong-arm tactics heaved upon Americans by the IRS, NSA, EPA, and now the DOE. If they’re willing to arrest a concerned parent for insisting he be able to ask and receive an answer to his question at a public school meeting, what are they prepared to do next?

Perhaps the real question is, what are you prepared to do? Of the 160 individuals who attended the forum, Small was the only one in the room who cared enough and had the courage to stand up for himself and his children.

Small was arrested and bogusly charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, which carries a $2,500 fine and up to 10 years in prison. But that’s not all. In yet another bold attempt to intimidate citizens into accepting how wonderful Common Core is, Small was also charged with “disturbing a school operation,” which carries an additional fine of $2,500 and up to six months in jail. Translation? When you’re invited to a public forum, best be careful about the kind of question you want to ask, lest you be hauled off by the authorities for exercising your First Amendment right!

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Hmm, I seem to remember this kind of thing happening some years ago in Germany just before they . . . but that’s another story.

Luckily, the video of the incident went viral on the Internet and enough citizens around the country made a stink. As a result, all charges against Small were dropped. This is what it takes to defeat tyranny. But what if there was no alternative media or powerful voices like those on talk radio? What if it were just up to the average citizen? Only time will tell if we, as a nation, will have the character to take back our education system and return America to the shining example it once was.

Kimberly Bloom Jackson holds a doctorate in anthropology. She recently completed her first book, a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s social politics.

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