Archive for April 2012

Education Without Representation: a response to the unsubstantiated claims of the Utah State School Board’s Common Core flier   2 comments

Education Without Representation: 

A response to claims of the Utah State School Board’s Common Core flier  

The Utah State Board of Education has circulated a flier which is posted on the official website. http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/DOCS/coreStandardsPamphlet.aspx

None of the claims of the flier have been backed up with references.

 This response will be backed up with references to verifiable sources and legally binding documents.

The flier says that Utah is “free to change the Utah Core Standards at any time”

and denies that adoption of the Standards threatens the ability of parents, teachers and local school districts to control curriculum.

FACT: It is true that Utah can change the current Utah Core.  But Utah is not free to change the common CCSS standards.  Very soon, the CCSS standards will be all we’ll teach.  The CCSS standards are the only standards the common test is being written to.  The CCSS standards are the only standards that are truly common to all Common Core states.  Unique state standards are meaningless in the context of the tests.  This has been verified by WestEd, the test maker.  http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/

When teachers realize that merit pay and student performance depend on how well teachers teach the CCSS, and not on how well they teach the Utah Core, they will abandon the state core and focus on teaching to the CCSS-based test.  Since there is no possibility for Utah to make changes to CCSS, we have given up our educational system if we take the common test.  This is education without representation.  Already there are significant differences between the Utah Core and the CCSS (such as, we allow lots of classic literature and CCSS does not; it favors slashing literature in favor of infotexts in English classes).  When additional changes come to the CCSS standards, under Common Core, Utah will be unable to do anything about it. CCSS has no amendment process.

FACT:  The CCSS standards amount to education without representation.  They cannot be amended by us, yet they are sure to change over time.  A U.S.O.E. lawyer was asked, “Why is there no amendment process for the CCSS standards?” She did not claim that there was one.  Instead, she replied:  “Why would there need to be? The whole point is to be common.” (Email received April 2012 by C. Swasey from C. Lear)

The flier states that this is a myth:  “Utah adopted nationalized education standards that come with federal strings attached.”

FACT:   Utah’s Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education (via the SBAC tests; link below) presents so many federal strings, it’s more like federal rope around Utah’s neck.

The Cooperative Agreement mandates synchronization of testing arms and testing, mandates giving status updates and written reports and phone conferences with the federal branch and it demands that “across consortia,” member states provide data “on an ongoing basis” for perusal by the federal government.  This federal control is, according to G.E.P.A. laws and the U.S. Constitution, an illegal encroachment by the federal government on our state.  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

FACT:  The Federal government paid for the promotion of Common Core.  It paid other groups to do what it constitutionally forbidden to do.  Each group that worked to develop the standards and/or the test were federally funded and each remains under compliance regulations of federal grants.    For two examples, PARCC (a testing consortium) was funded through a four-year, $185 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education to delivering a K-12 assessment system.  http://www.achieve.org/achieve-names-three-directors.  WestED, the other consortium test writer for SBAC, is funded by the executive branch, including the  U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Justice.  http://www.wested.org/cs/we/print/docs/we/fund.htm.  There are many more examples of federal funding and federal promotion of this supposedly state-led initative if you just do a little digging.

FACT: To exit the SBAC, a state must get federal approval and the permission of a majority of consortium states.  www.oaknorton.com/Utah-rttt.zip    (page 297).

FACT:  Utah joined the SBAC in an effort to receive a Race to the Top Grant.  SBAC then applied for a grant through Race to the Top for Assessments and won.  It was a REQUIREMENT to adopt Common Core in order to join SBAC. Utah is a Governing State of SBAC.

The USOE is telling people that an MOU is not a binding contract. This may be true, but once that application is placed in a grant application and the grant is awarded, the MOU becomes binding, as the grant contract binding the group to the money is in force. That is what has happened with Utah and the SBAC and the U.S. Department of Education.

http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Smarter-Balanced-Governance.pdf  – pg. 3

FACT:  When South Carolina recently made moves to sever ties with the Common Core Initiative, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, began to make unsubstatiated attacks, insulting South Carolina.   http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-1   Duncan had similarly insulted Texas education on television and had made incorrect statements when that state refused to join Common Core.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2089503,00.html

The flier states that this is a myth:  “Utah taxpayers will have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards.” 

 

FACT:  No cost analysis has been done by Utah.  (Ask U.S.O.E. to see one.)

FACT:  Other states cited high implementation costs as reasons they rejected the Common Core Initiative.  The Texas Education Agency estimated implementing the Common Core standards in the state would result in professional development costs of $60 million for the state and approximately $500 million for local school districts, resulting in a total professional development cost of $560 million.  http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf (p. 15) Also, Virginia’s State School Board cited both educational and financial reasons for rejecting Common Core.  http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2010/jun16.pdf

FACT:  California is asking for tax hikes right now to pay for Common Core Implementation. http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/california-wants-a-tax-hike-to-pay-for-common-core/

FACT:  South Carolina’s Governor Haley is right now trying to escape Common Core’s federal and financial entanglements.  http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/sc-gov-nikki-haley-backs-bill-to-block-common-core-standards/

The flier states that  “The Utah Core Standards were created, like those in 44 other states, to address the problem of low expectations.”

This is a half-truth.   While some dedicated Utahns have been working to address the problem of low expectations for years, the Common Core Initiative was hastily adopted for financial reasons.  Utah agreed to join the Common Core and the SBAC long before the common standards had even been written or released, or any cost analysis or legal analysis had taken place.  Utah joined Common Core and the SBAC to get more eligibility points in the points-based “Race to the Top” grant application.  While Utah didn’t win the grant money, it stayed tied to Common Core and the SBAC testing consortium afterwards.  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/utah.pdf

The flier states that this is a myth:  “Political leaders and education experts oppose the Common Core State Standards.”

FACT:  Stanford Professor Michael Kirst testified, among other things, that it is unrealistic to call four year, two year, and vocational school preparation equal college readiness preparation: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

FACT:  Professor Sandra Stotsky who served on the CC Validation Committee refused to sign off on the standards as authentic English preparation for college: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/

FACT: Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman has testified to the South Carolina Legislature that the math standards are insufficient college preparation: http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120216_Testimony_Stergios_SC.pdf  and  http://truthinamericaneducation.com/tag/zeev-wurman/

 The flier states inaccurately states: “Most thoughtful people on this issue have lined up in favor of the Common Core State Standards.”

FACT:  Governor Herbert is in the middle of a legal, educational and financial review of the standards right now. He affirmed to Heber City teachers and citizens last month that he is willing to review the standards and the political complications of the Common Core Initiative and to meet again with the teachers and citizens together with his legal team.

FACT:  The majority of gubernatorial candidates and candidates for senate and house representation at the Republican convention have stated that they are directly opposed to the Common Core Initiative.  This fact is verifiable via the document published for the 2012 Republican convention by Alisa Ellis, on which each candidate was asked to state whether he/she was for, against, or still learning, about the Common Core Initiative.

FACT:  In less than two weeks, more than 1,500 Utah teachers, parents, taxpayers and students have signed the petition at  http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com without any advertising or marketing efforts, just by word of mouth.

FACT:   There is a significant group of Utah educators who have not and will not speak out in this forum, although they do have serious concerns about the Common Core.  There is a perception that to speak against the Common Core Initiative is unacceptable or disloyal. This spiral of silence spins from the fear educators have of losing their jobs if they express what they really see. Some educators quietly and confidentially reveal this to others who boldly oppose to Common Core.

Utah educators might respond well to an anonyomously administered survey, so that educators might feel safer in sharing multicolored rather than all rose colored, experiences from this first year of Common Core Implementation, without having to identify themselves.  Educators who have had a good experience with this first year of implementation of Common Core dare speak out.  But Utah educators who do speak out boldly against common core, if you pay close attention, are those who are on maternity leave or who have sources of income other than educating, for financial support, and are thus unafraid of losing jobs.

This final point is obviously difficult to substantiate, but ought to be studied and either verified or proven false, by the Utah State School Board

POSTSCRIPT:  The most misleading point of all was unwritten, but implied by the flier:  that Utah somehow benefits from the political ties of the Common Core Initiative or needs these ties to use the standards themselves.  These educational standards are in the public domain.  When we cut ties to the Common Core Initiative and the SBAC, we are free to use any standards that work for us in Utah, and we are free to amend them in the future.  –Not so if we stay bound to the Initiative itself.

Letter to Corbin White and Jordan School District: On FERPA revisions   Leave a comment

Dear Corbin White and Jordan School District,

 

It was good to meet you at the U.S.O.E. forum on Common Core yesterday. Although we testified on opposite sides of this issue, I think there is nothing to contend about.  We all want great school standards.  We all want political and parental freedom.

 

I’m writing as I said I would, requesting that you review and verify the information I’m sending, and that you share it with the other members of Jordan School Board and other Utah school boards or citizens if you feel it is appropriate.

 

Thursday night at the Wasatch School Board meeting, my local school board revised FERPA to overrride parental consent law in favor of the federal government and educational research groups having direct access to student data.

 

Parents did not want and were not informed of this.  Teachers and parents were not allowed to speak, but mouthed “please no,” and the board responded, “We can’t not pass this. It’s a federal law.” I do not know who sent our school board the directive to revise FERPA.  (If you have received such a directive,  I request that you share who sent it to your board.)

 

Without public input, without actually having researched federal and state FERPA laws and Utah’s SB287, and declining 30-day review, the Wasatch Board passed the revision. 

 

This FERPA revision is wrong for 5 reasons:

 

1.  Parental authority trumps federal authority over children’s privacy based on state FERPA laws.

2.  The board’s own bylaws demand that the board must “work closely with the public” especially on major policy changes.

3. State FERPA laws are in direct conflict with recent revisions to federal FERPA regulations, altered illegally by the executive branch (not by congress).

Only Congress is authorized to make changes to federal FERPA.  And if congress at some future time truly did elect to revise FERPA, to take away parental authority over student data, as the executive branch has attempted to do, in any constitutional conflict, states hold power over educational issues. (Also true under G.E.P.A. law).

4. School districts may face lawsuits from parents who learn what has been done to their parental authority, based both on state FERPA laws and on Utah’s SB287.

5. Data collection has changed; schools used to collect aggregated academic scores for legitimate educational reasons.  It’s all different now.

 

Now schools/states are being asked to collect personal information along with academic information, including (according to the National Data Collection Model) unique identifiers including names, nicknames, residences, immunization history, family income, extracurricular programs, city of birth, email address, bus stop times, parental marital status and parental educational levels, to name a few. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

 

When parents and teachers met with our Wasatch Superintendent yesterday, he agreed to share these things with the rest of the Wasatch school board. We anticipate that the board will agree to overturn Thursday night’s ruling and will begin a serious review of issues, as other school boards, congressmen, and the public, are doing.

 

Still, simply clarifying laws against federal intrusion is not enough. I feel Utah must create technological independence as a guarantee against losing local control of personal data.

 

Utah has already created technological interoperability that makes it easy for the federal arm to encroach on individuals’ privacy in the guise of educational and medical data collection.

 

A longitudinal database was made in 2009 in Utah, created from a federal $9.6 million ARRA stimulus grant Utah accepted in exchange for making “systems that promote the linking of data across time and databases from early childhood” –including childhood through post-secondary and workforce data collection– to “promote interoperability for easy matching and linking of data across institutions and States.”   http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/pdf/fy09arra_fedregister.pdf

 

The buck can stop right here.

 

The federal push for personal and academic data collection and loss of parental and state control, crouching under the good educational improvements of the Common Core Initiative, has gone too far.  Parents and local school boards must stand up and say no to the federal educational data collection.

 

There is no need for contention or fighting about any of this.

 

Districts who love Common Core improvements will be able to continue using these improvements because Common Core standards are in the public domain.  Cutting ties with the data collection push and the federal attempt to override parental rights has nothing at odds with raising Utah’s educational standards. When Utah stands up for her constitutional rights –whether it’s refusing to implement illegal requests by the executive branch, or whether it’s cutting ties with Common Core– we do not have to cut ties with high standards nor negate all the hard work that boards and teachers have done this year. 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Christel Swasey

Heber City

Teacher and Parent

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

1.  From Utah’s SB287:

 

http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/sbillenr/SB0287.htm

   

    53                (6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum        of understanding, or                     54            consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum        standards to any other entity, including                     55            a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including:                     56                (a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum        standards;                     57                (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are        inconsistent with community values; or

                    58                (c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding,        or consortium:                     59                (i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing        Federal Programs Act, or Title                     60            63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act;                     61                (ii) conflicts with Utah law;                     62                (iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a          national or multi-state database;                     63                (iv) requires records of teacher performance to be        included in a national or multi-state                     64            database; or                     65                (v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking        requirements on home school or                     66            private school students.                     67                (7) The State Board of Education shall annually report to        the Education Interim                     68            Committee on the development and implementation of core        curriculum standards.

 

2. From Utah’s FERPA law:

 

There are two portions to Utah’s law

 

http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE53A/htm/53A13_030100.htm  – this one was amended last fall

 

http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE53A/htm/53A13_030200.htm

 

3.  Federal FERPA:

 

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf

 

4.  Utah’s Federally Promoted Longitudinal Database:

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/fy09arra_announcement.asp

So Who Cares If The Feds Have My Kids’ Data? FERPA – Part II   Leave a comment

For those who are still asking, “Who cares if the federal government has access to my kids’ data without my parental consent?”

–please view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary  to see what kinds of data they will be collecting– it is unbelievable.

See the rules of the game:  read the “assurances” here:

and read with awe of all the intense federal controls http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf  over the testing and data collection, coordinating “across consortia” and synchronizing efforts nationally, all mandated by one man, without authority under the Constitution: Secretary Arne Duncan.

The Department of Education had no right to make changes that only Congress was constitutionally permitted to make.  Yet the Dept. of Education implemented changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and overrode the privacy protections Congress had included in FERPA, the Competes Act, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The changes allow access to any of the information in the databases.

While we have no reason to suspiciously assume that the federal government would abuse the power of knowing practically everything about practically everyone, we also have no guarantees that they would not abuse that power.

I’m thinking about China, where tiny kids who happen to be good at a sport get taken away from their families in order to train for the Olympics.  I’m thinking about countries in which it is mandated that women have abortions to align with federal agendas of low population growth.   Could bad grades, bad health, or behavioral problems documented in elementary school keep someone from getting a scholarship or a job many years later?

I’m wondering how these foreign federal agencies would ever have been able to enforce such things if they didn’t know so much about everybody from diapers to grave.  Knowledge is power and privacy is a sacred freedom.

I take very seriously the fact that our local school board deleted parental consent authority over kids’ data this week.  I wrote a letter to my son’s wonderful teacher and principal today, explaining why I will not allow him to take this year’s standardized test, even though it’s not the Common Core SBAC test.  (It’s state-collected and will be federally accessible now.)

April 25, 2012

Dear Ms. Marshall and Mr. Brown,

Thank you for all you do.  You are wonderful teacher/principals, and my son adores you both.

I am writing to let you know that during the testing times of April 30 and May 3, 7, & 9, I will be checking my son out of class.  Please let me know the exact times of the tests so I know what time I should come.  I will return him as soon as the testing is over.

I have never allowed my children skip testing before.  But this week, our local school board deleted parental consent laws in favor of federal access to student academic and personal data without encouraging or allowing, any parent to voice a comment about it. (The Wasatch school board’s ruling is attached).

I’ve recently become aware of the longitudinal databases about kids that our Common Core Initiative requires. States built database systems, according to federally dictated standards, to qualify for ARRA stimulus money. All 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. Utah was praised for having a database that met all ten essential components for the database, outlined by the federal government.

The information to be gathered by the U.S.O.E. and passed on to the executive branch is more than academic test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, bus stop times and more. This is not just student information, but information on families, too.

You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary .  When Utah signed up for Common Core, part of the application, mandated (page 288 of RTTT application) that Utah must “identify and implement a plan to address barriers in State law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system.”   As long as Utah’s bound to Common Core, we’re going to change state laws that stand in the way of the federal data collection goal.

The only choice I can make right now to ensure my child’s privacy from what I now see as federal illegality, is to opt out of standardized tests for my kids.

I do not want my son’s private or academic information to be accessible by the federal government for any reason.  Schools need to know academic information about children, but they have no business giving out that information to the federal government, especially without parental consent.

The Utah FERPA laws protected family and student privacy, but the newly rewritten federal FERPA laws do not.  They take privacy away.  Our local school board unfortunately believes federal laws have more clout than state FERPA laws do, based on their statements that “We can’t not pass this law,” at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law, educational decisions are in the hands of states, not the federal government. But for now, until our school board reinstates the constitutional sovereignty of Utah over federal FERPA law, and parental sovereignty over the privacy of children’s data, Axel will not be taking state-collected, federally accessible standardized tests.

I hope you understand.  Thank you sincerely for all you do for my son.

Christel Swasey

 

Posted April 26, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

BYU Professor Wiley   Leave a comment

Dear Professor Wiley,

I read your article in the Deseret News, extolling Common Core.

http://www.deseretnews.com/user/comments/765571454/Utah-should-adopt-the-Common-Core.html

I must respond.

I’m a BYU alum, too.  B.A. in English, M.A. in Communications.  I’m also a teacher (Cal State San Bernardino K-12 credential) and have been an adjunct professor (UVU, English).

A few questions on Common Core:

1.  Do you know that all over Utah, school boards are deleting parental consent laws to accomodate federal easy access to student data because of Common Core’s goals?

This week, our local Wasatch school board deleted parental consent laws in favor of federal access to student academic and personal data without encouraging or allowing, any parent to voice a comment about it. (The Wasatch school board’s ruling is attached).  They bypassed protective FERPA laws to accomodate Common Core and its testing requirements.

On pg. 288 of the RTTT grant application, Utah agreed to “address” any state laws and “remove barriers” that might stand in the way of Common Core’s goals.

2.  Do you know that the longitudinal databases about kids that our Common Core Initiative requires make us a lot like countries without freedom?  You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary .  When federal governments know everything about everyone, from diapers to grave, they tend to abuse that power.  It’s historic.  Look at China, mandating abortions because the feds know best about overpopulation.  Look at Germany, sending intellectuals to concentration camps because their feds knew better than the intellectuals how to value Jews. While there is no guarantee the U.S. feds would abuse similar power, there’s also no guarantee they would not. We have given away those guarantees because we have been blinded by the pretty promises of Common Core.

3.  Do you realize that our U.S. states have built massive, longitudinal database systems, according to federally dictated standards, to qualify for ARRA stimulus money?  The feds incentivized it, and now, all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. Utah was praised for having a database that met all ten essential components for the database, outlined by the federal government.

The information to be gathered by the U.S.O.E. and passed on to the executive branch is more than academic test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, bus stop times and more. This is not just student information, but information on families, too.

4.  Have you read how Common Core and its FERPA-deleting mandates, also delete state authority over education and parental authority over children’s data?

When Utah signed up for Common Core, part of the application, mandated (page 288 of RTTT application) that Utah must “identify and implement a plan to address barriers in State law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system.”   As long as Utah’s bound to Common Core, we’re going to change state laws that stand in the way of the federal data collection goal.  FERPA laws are sacred laws.  They protect families.  They protect children.  Common Core does not respect FERPA, families, or children’s rights to privacy and freedom from federal control.

I do not want my child’s private or academic information to be accessible by the federal government for any reason.  Schools need to know academic information about children, but they have no business giving out that information to the federal government, especially without parental consent.

The Utah FERPA laws protected family and student privacy, but the newly rewritten federal FERPA laws do not.  They take privacy away.  Our local school board unfortunately believes federal laws have more clout than state FERPA laws do, based on their statements that “We can’t not pass this law,” at Thursday’s meeting.

According to the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law, educational decisions are in the hands of states, not the federal government. But for now, until our school board reinstates the constitutional sovereignty of Utah over federal FERPA law, and parental sovereignty over the privacy of children’s data, my kids will not be taking state-collected, federally accessible standardized tests.

5.  Have you read the “Cooperative Agreement Between the U.S. Dept. of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium” for yourself?  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

The U.S.O.E.’s lead lawyer, Carol Lear, had not even read it until I provided the PDF for her.  Nobody is watching Utah’s back, constitutionally, on the Common Core’s intrusions on freedom.

That document triangulates data “across consortia” under the supervision of the U.S. Dept of Education, which mandates telephone conferences, status updates, synchronized testing, and centralization of data for federal perusal.

6.  Have you realized that Utah’s current Core will be irrelevant by 2015?  I wrote to WestEd myself, asking for an explanation as to how the test developer would address differences in states’ own standards.  They wrote back to say that it’s not helpful to have two sets of standards.  The federal set, CCSS, would do.  (Letter in WestEd attachment.)  What teacher, motivated by merit pay and high student scores, will teach to any other set of standards.

7.  Do you realize that while the Utah Core can be amended by the state school board’s majority vote, the CCSS standards have no provision for amendment by Utah?  We have no voice.  The federal standards can change, sending any wicked teaching down the pike, and we have to teach it and be tested on it.  This is as true as I’m sitting here typing to you.

8.  Did you know that there’s was no legislative discussion, no cost analysis, no legal analysis, and not even any educational analysis of Common Core before Utah joined in 2009?  The standards were released in 2010.  We are stuck with so much expense, so much that’s mandated, and so many freedoms stolen away, because we married before we dated Common Core.  In the words of Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina, “we sold our educational birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”

9.  Did you know that Common Core is in the public domain?  So any good that anyone likes from Common Core, we can keep and use, under our own sovereign Utah educational rights.  No teacher needs to cry when we cut ties to the CC Initiative.

10.  Did you know that a famous, retired Utah Judge has reviewed the legally binding documents of Utah’s arrangement with Common Core, and has stated that Utah is not free under Common Core?  Are any educational benefits meaningful without political freedom?

I would truly appreciate a response to these questions.  Thank you.

Christel Swasey

Posted April 26, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

If the Founding Fathers Came to Heber City   Leave a comment

There is wisdom in acknowledging the inspiration of our Founding Fathers and in supporting political candidates who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.

Likewise, we should support school boards who show by their actions that they are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.

I do not think our Founding Fathers would stand up for the side that is fighting to give away FERPA parental consent law and states’ constitutional rights.  They would not favor stripping FERPA law and would not approve of the  Common Core Initiative, which promotes many things, including federal government access to children’s data without parental consent.

But the “feds-trump-all” side is the side our local school board appears to be standing with, whether they realize it or not.  We must kindly but firmly hold our school board accountable for overturning parental rights last Thursday night.  We must hold our governor and state school board accountable for overturning Utah’s sovereignty over education to the Common Core Initiative and its testing system and tight federal controls. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

A great American civic and governmental leader who also served as a prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson, wrote, “Civic Standards For The Faithful Saints.”  http://www.lds.org/ensign/1972/07/civic-standards-for-the-faithful-saints?lang=eng

He said:

“… Our wise founders seemed to understand, better than most of us, our own scripture, which states that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority … they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39.)

“To help prevent this, the founders knew that our elected leaders should be bound by certain fixed principles. Said Thomas Jefferson: ‘In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.’

“These wise founders, our patriotic partners, seemed to appreciate more than most of us the blessings of the boundaries that the Lord set within the Constitution… In God the founders trusted, and in his Constitution…

“President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., put it well when he said:

“God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they may be. Under His plan our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up. So runs the oath of office of those who participate in government. A certain loyalty we do owe to the office which a man holds, but even here we owe just by reason of our citizenship, no loyalty to the man himself. In other countries it is to the individual that allegiance runs. This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. It is one of the great principles that distinguishes this ‘land of liberty’ from other countries.” (Improvement Era, July 1940, p. 444.)

“’Patriotism,’ said Theodore Roosevelt, ‘means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. …

“’Every man,’ said President Roosevelt, ‘who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.’ (Theodore Roosevelt, Works, vol. 21, pp. 316, 321.)

“And the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “… let the people of the whole Union, like the inflexible Romans, whenever they find a promise made by a candidate that is not practiced as an officer, hurl the miserable sycophant from his exaltation. …” (DHC, vol. 6, p. 207.)

“…’I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth,’ said the Prophet Joseph Smith. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.)

“The warning of President Joseph Fielding Smith is most timely: ‘Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don’t save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change of government.’ (Conference Report, April 1950, p. 159.)

Another guideline given by the First Presidency was ‘to support good and conscientious candidates, of either party, who are aware of the great dangers’ facing the free world. (Deseret News, November 2, 1964.)

Fortunately we have materials to help us face these threatening dangers in the writings of President David O. McKay and other church leaders…But the greatest handbook for freedom in this fight against evil is the Book of Mormon.

This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. “And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,” says Moroni, “and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.” (Ether 8:21.)

“Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.

“Then Moroni speaks to us in this day and says, “Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (Ether 8:14.)

The Book of Mormon further warns that “whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed. …” (Ether 8:22.)

“… By court edict godless conspirators can run for government office, teach in our schools, hold office in labor unions, work in our defense plants, serve in our merchant marines, etc. As a nation, we are helping to underwrite many evil revolutionaries in our country.

“Now we are assured that the Church will remain on the earth until the Lord comes again—but at what price? The Saints in the early days were assured that Zion would be established in Jackson County, but look at what their unfaithfulness cost them in bloodshed and delay.

“President Clark warned us that ‘we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known. …’ (CR, April 1944, p. 116.) And he stated that if the conspiracy “comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.” (CR, April 1952.)

“Now the third great civic standard for the Saints is the inspired word of the prophets—particularly the living president, God’s mouthpiece on the earth today. Keep your eye on the captain and judge the words of all lesser authority by his inspired counsel.

“The story is told how Brigham Young, driving through a community, saw a man building a house and simply told him to double the thickness of his walls. Accepting President Young as a prophet, the man changed his plans and doubled the walls. Shortly afterward a flood came through that town, resulting in much destruction, but this man’s walls stood. While putting the roof on his house, he was heard singing, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet!”

“Joseph Smith taught “that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (DHC, vol. 5, p. 265.)

Suppose a leader of the Church were to tell you that you were supporting the wrong side of a particular issue. Some might immediately resist this leader and his counsel or ignore it, but I would suggest that you first apply the fourth great civic standard for the faithful Saints. That standard is to live for, to get, and then to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)

“A number of years ago, because of a statement that appeared to represent the policy of the Church, a faithful member feared he was supporting the wrong candidate for public office. Humbly he took the matter up with the Lord. Through the Spirit of the Lord he gained the conviction of the course he should follow, and he dropped his support of this particular candidate.

“This good brother, by fervent prayer, got the answer that in time proved to be the right course.

“We need the constant guidance of that Spirit. We live in an age of deceit. “O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” (2 Ne. 13:12.) Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing…” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1949, p. 163.)

“The Lord holds us accountable if we are not wise and are deceived. “For they that are wise,” he said, “and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:57.)

“And so four great civic standards for the faithful Saints are, first, the Constitution ordained by God through wise men; second, the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; third, the inspired counsel of the prophets, especially the living president, and fourth, the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“God bless us all that we may use these standards and by so doing bless ourselves, our families, our community, our nation, and the world, I humbly pray, as I bear my witness to the truth of this great latter-day work, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Amen, President Benson.

Judge Rules: Utah Is No Longer Free Under Common Core   Leave a comment

Excerpted from Retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson’s report on Utah’s Common Core Standards:

Date: April 14, 2012 2:21:02 PM MDT

Subject: Whether the State of Utah or the United States Department of Education Is Or Will Be In Control of “Common Core” Educational Standards?

 

… [T]he political pot on this issue seems to be overflowing into two separate schools of thought…

The first school of thought in Utah comes from the Governor’s Office and the State School Board. They are circulating a six page Q&A document: Utah’s Common Core, Draft 2.22.12. It poses questions in three groupings 1. Frequently Asked Questions 2. Process 3. Implementation and Future Work. The next to the last question is: What is the role of the federal government in (Common Core) standards implementation? The answer is: The federal government has had NO role in their implementation. The first question on Page 2 is: Who is leading the Common Core State Standards Initiative? The answer is: The Council of Chief State State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

The second school of thought comes from several citizens, including concerned mothers and teachers who have done their homework. They have directed me to three basic underlying contract documents which Utah’s Executive Branch has agreed to. They conclude that these documents grant control of “Common Core” standards and implementation to the Federal Government, namely the United States Department of Education, ie President Obama’s staff.

Based on my examination of –  1. Memorandum of Understaning/SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium/Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessments Systems Grant Application/CFDA Number: 84.395B,  2. Smarter Balanced Assesment Consortium – Governance Structure Document, July 1, 2010, Amended November 22, 2011, and  3. Cooperative Agreement Between the U. S. Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the State of Washington (fiscal agent) dated January 7, 2011, PR/Award #: S395B100003 and S395B100003A (190 pages).

I Concur with the conclusion of the citizens.

My opinion is based on the plain language of these contracts as set forth in my Memo: To Whom It May Concern, Subject: Federal/State Common Core Initiatives and Standards, Dated April 12, 2012 (4 pages attached). The opinion has detailed analysis of each contract.   This opinion is also supported by a grant award notification letter (GAN) dated September 28, 2010 from Director Conaty of the U. S. Department of Education to Washington State Governor Gregorie. The award is for the Race to the Top Assessment Program. It is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the basis of an approved budget of $159,976,843 for the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. The notice set a deadlilne of January 7, 2011 to finalize the above Cooperative Agreement which bears the same date. The GAN states that it will “include substantial involvement of the U. S. Department of Education”.

FYI: I  have also attached a copy of National Federation of Republican Women Resolution, Defeat National Standards for State Schools, Adopted Unaniously at the NFRW 36th Biennial Convention, October 1, 2011 (1 page) .   In the interest of time, I am sharing this message with several other people. I invite them also to examine these materials and share their comments. Your cooperation and assistance are appreciated. Norman H. Jackson, Judge Utah Court of Appeals, Retired.

2 attachments — Download all attachments

Common Core Memo.docx 35K   View   Download

AFRW_Resolution_to_D_484455_(1)_10-12[1].doc 77K   View   Download

Posted April 25, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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Dear Anonymous Neighbor   Leave a comment

I received a letter from an anonymous person in Heber.  I will post the full text of what he/she wrote, and the full text of my response.  This is America.  Free press is important.

 

 

Dear Christel,

This is written out of concern for you and other friends and relatives of mine whose integrity you are questioning. This is Heber. Everyone is related to someone, but we’re all brothers and sisters regardless.

The simple truth is that nearly everyone who is given accurate information about the common core supports it. Active teachers do and tell me they are not afraid of speaking their minds if they didn’t. I’ve talked to all of them I know. I’ve known and worked with many of them my whole life.

That alone does not mean common core deserves my support. However, when I read the documents you forward around and your websites, your statements about our rights, literary education, privacy, cost, etc., simply seem unfounded to me. Because I, like you, am an informed fellow patriot dedicated to investigation, I’ve read them and the other side’s. It seems like you have not read or choose to ignore anything from the other side.

I don’t know you as well as I know some of the good people you do not trust. I also know the bad reputation of some of the extreme people and groups who support your cause in the papers.

Many good people I know believe many things that are just not true. They are entitled to their own opinions until they become so jaded and overly suspicious of everyone, and eventually faithless, disloyal Americans who hurt their community and country and others as they try tearing them down. In the end, they drag themselves down.

This is a great country with the ability to change course if necessary. This is a great town with great people. You’ll find after this battle, those you’ve offended will quickly forget.

Please rethink your approach. Some of the things you are writing, especially about public servants, are not true. It may have become too personal for you. If you choose to share this with others please be honest and don’t take my words out of context.

Having asked for honesty, I’m sorry I don’t have the courage to sign this, but you seem to have become increasingly uncharitable with anyone who disagrees with you — even some who should be your friends.

I have already read your info, your websites and the sites you refer to. No need to respond. This is the only time you’ll hear from me.

Sincerely,

One of several neighbors who are afraid you are damaging your reputation beyond repair, and hurting our schools.

 

Dear Anonymous Neighbor,

 

Thank you for your letter.   I’m sad that you feel the way you do, and I wish you would talk to me face to face. You cared enough to write to me, and so I appreciate you.  I hope you do write back because I want to know in detail how I have been “uncharitable to those who disagree” –If that is true, I am sorry I came across that way.

I am going to hold our local school board accountable for taking away parental consent laws that protect us all. If that’s uncharitable, then I guess you are right.  By that definition, Captain Moroni and Paul Revere and George Washington and Joseph Smith would be called uncharitable, too.

How can I not question the validity of the standards, since my own daughter tells me she’s learned nothing in math all year long?  I hope you are not her math teacher.  (Sorry, but that is what she testifies.)  How can I not question the validity of taking away parental consent law in Wasatch District?  That is totally outrageous for them to have done such a thing.

I wonder where you got the idea that I am “jaded and suspicious” or a “disloyal American.”  Wow.  I am actually willing to read anything you or any other Common Core proponent will send me.  As for disloyalty to America?  My whole argument is that we need to defend the U.S. Constitution from federal intrusion.  So I don’t understand that one.

I demand evidence that Common Core allows us to be free, which the Utah State Office of Education does not provide.  People who want to know what Common Core is, must  track down documents signed by Utah’s leaders, and read them on their own; the USOE is not transparent at all.

To know truth, we must study and ponder the meanings of binding evidence before believing claims made by anybody about Common Core, on either side of the argument.  And honestly, you should ask for evidence, too.  Some things are not just opinion, but are based on legal facts.

Nobody has entered into any kind of give and take with me, except one person on the school board.  So I don’t know who you say I won’t listen to.  I have been giving my emails to local teachers who are against Common Core secretly and who don’t dare say anything but they wink at me and want more knowledge and hope Utah gets us free of Common Core.  They want out.

I am not questioning any one person’s truthfulness or integrity, and I’m sorry you see it that way.  There is no finger pointing that needs to happen; I think we’ve all, all been duped by Common Core.

What I am questioning is people’s blind faith in the claims of the Utah State Office of Education without seeing any evidence to back up the claims, and people’s lack of spine in standing up to federal requests for access to our constitutionally delegated, local rights.

I am especially questioning the validity of deleting parental consent in schools, which our school board did Thursday.  I am questioning the Utah State Office of Education, the State School Board, and those whom the Governor has entrusted with the educational freedom of this state.

Did you know that over 90% of the Republican candidates for senate, governor, and representative, are firmly opposed to Common Core?   We called and asked them all before the convention.  More Utah leaders are against Common Core than are for it.  Even Governor Herbert, after Alisa and Renee and Kevin and I met with him, agreed that there is so much evidence that it confused him.  He wanted his legal team to look at it before he invited us back to his office.  So there is no consensus that Common Core is wonderful by any means.

If you will take the time to read the legally binding documents and explain them to your friends, you will see that the Emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes.  Utah is no longer free.  Even a retired Utah judge has now studied these documents and has affirmed that under Common Core, Utah is not free.

Utah is not free, he said.  Doesn’t that matter at all?  Is that not worth me ruining my reputation for, freedom?

These are the legal facts, whether friends and relatives and neighbors choose to read them or not.  That is up to each of us.

We cannot afford to give in to Common Core, out of fear of our own reputations.

The research is solid, so my sadness about what a neighbor might say or think about me is of little consequence.  I am following my conscience on this.  I am very proud to have a reputation as someone who recognizes error and fights to help others see it, because it’s about the Constitution even when others may interpret my efforts as “hurting schools.”

Of course I wish everyone agreed with me and loved me for doing this, but I can’t ask for that.

When we put flags in our yards on the fourth of July, what does it mean if we have no educational freedom any longer?  Should I really be quiet, out of fear of what others think of me, and allow freedoms to get sifted away? Would be the right thing for me to do, after all the knowledge I have?  Is that what you would have me do?

You said that I ignore everything from the other side. Not so.  I’ve asked that both sides provide more than “he-said, she-said” and they haven’t.  Only the anti-Common Core side has any proof and evidence.  Isn’t that strange?  Why does the CommonCore advocacy side not have any evidence backing up their claims?  It is beyond strange.

You said “everyone who is given accurate information about Common Core supports it.”  I would love to see that accurate information you speak of, and where it comes from.  I’ve read the entire U.S.O.E. website.  I’ve read the Common Core website.  And guess what?  They don’t back up their claims with evidence.  I’ve had to dig up the documents to read for myself.

I do not believe the claims because they don’t match the documents.  Please don’t accuse me of not being willing to read and review things.  That is exactly what the Common Core advocates do, and that is a sin in my book.  Send me anything and I will read it and compare it to the legally binding documents our Utah leaders have signed.

I have never refused to read anyone’s documents.  I’m willing to read more.  But are you?

Most importantly, I’ve read the legal documents our Governor and board signed, and they truly bind our state– lost freedom, loss of educational control, loss of the ability to amend the CCSS federal testing standards, which is something the U.S.O.E. has not been transparent/honest about.  This is as true as I’m sitting here typing.

I do not think you wrote to me because you have read the documents and actually have grounds to disagree with me.  I think you wrote to me because you have not read much at all and you are afraid– of not having everybody that you care for, see things the same way and appear to get along. But there is a time to agree and a time to disagree and this is one of those times!

You don’t have to read the evidence on both sides, if you don’t want to.  I do want to.

And we don’t have to be contentious, and hopefully, we will not be.  Contention is bad and wrong and I hope and pray to avoid it. But fighting for truth and freedom, even if it divides friends, is simply unavoidable to an honest heart.

We are free to disagree and still love one another and that is the American way.

Thanks for your letter.

 

Christel

 

 

 

 

Posted April 25, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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