Archive for May 2012

Two Truths and a Lie, or, What the Common Core Debate is Really About   2 comments

Have you ever played the game “Two truths and a lie”?  Each person gets a turn to say three statements.  Two of them must be true, and one must be false.  The listeners must try to guess which of the three statements is the lie.

Sometimes I feel like the Utah State Office of Education is playing this game with the state of Utah.  The only problem is, we didn’t know that we were playing that game.  We thought everything they stated was true.  Sadly, no.

In the flier on Common Core that the USOE promotes on their website and sends to each district in Utah, there are so many lies that it’s hard to find a truth.

Think I’m biased?

Here are the items I base this on.  These are documents and statements from people in positions of great power:   Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Common Core Validation Committee Members, Top USOE lawyer Carol Lear, Members of the Utah State School Board, the Utah Educator’s Network, and retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson.

1. The Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Dept of Education and the SBAC, which Utah belongs to.  It’s not biased; it’s a document that anyone can read.  It clearly reveals that Utah has given up her freedoms under Common Core.  Maybe freedom doesn’t matter to you; it matters to me.  This document proves that the USOE’s statement that Common Core comes without federal strings attached, and that it’s a state-led and state-determined initiative, is a lie.  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

2. The academic reviews of Dr. James Milgram and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the national Common Core Validation Committee, and both refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.  http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/stotsky.html    http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/   These academic reviews conflict with the USOE’s statement that “most thoughtful people” like Common Core and the USOE’s statement that the standards are rigorous and promote college readiness.

3. Conversations I’ve had with State School Board members and with the top lawyer of the USOE, Carol Lear. These people have made it clear that the idea of being common, or equal, with other states, is more important to them than the idea of maintaining state freedoms like the power to educate as we ourselves see fit, and the power to hold parental authority as more important than federal authority over student privacy, and the power to amend educational standards if our state wants to amend them.  Carol Learaffirmed that there is no amendment clause for the Common Core standards; yet, she saw no value in the “freedom to disagree” with other states.  She did not seem to recognize that being in a cooperative with other states is much different from being cooperative with other states.  She did not see that we sell our liberties one by one, as we buy into the siren call of equality for all.

4.  The network of data gathering and data collection on kids that may or may not have to do with academics rather than surveillance of children and families.  In this network  is the P-20 workforce Utah and many other states have implemented to track children from preschool to age 20.  In this network is the longitudinal database that Utah built with ARRA stimulus money  http://www.recovery.utah.gov/news.html with the purpose of tracking children over time and allowing “all stakeholders” including the federal government to view this data.  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/staff.asp   In this network, locally, so far, are the Utah Educator’s Network, the Utah Data Alliance, Choice Solutions, and UTRex. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm

5. Utah Judge Norman Jackson (retired) published a legal analysis of Common Core.  It is noteworthy. It says that Utah is not free under Common Core.  http://commoncorefacts.blogspot.com/

A teacher (who is also a proponent of Common Core) recently said that he had not read the pros and cons of Common Core because he thought it would be biased.  To people like him I can only ask:

Do you think you are unbiased?  I don’t think anyone is un-biased.

It is only a question of which side you listen to, and whether you are discerning enough to even realize which side you listen to.

In Common Core, there is the pro-liberty side and the pro-equality side.

On the equality side, education means an agreed-upon cooperative, a one-size-fits-all system so that it is common to all, convenient to all, and available to all.

On the liberty side, education means being free to choose (but not to mandate) cooperation with other states,  to maintain local power to innovate, to be different, to maintain autonomy and sovereignty, and to leave power with the local entities to change our educational standards as we desire in the future.

When you boil the arguments down, these are what remain.  It’s not really about how educated or ignorant our high school graduates may be.  It’s not really about whether Algebra I should remain in 8th grade or 9th.  It’s not really about whether classical literature should be slashed to make room for info-texts in English classes. It’s not really about how much money we spend or don’t spend on new technologies for testing.  It’s about whether our highest priority ought to be providing educational equality, versus maintaining educational freedom.

–In my (very biased-toward-freedom ) opinion.

Vermont State Board of Education smarter than Utah State Board of Education   Leave a comment

Vermont’s “Bennington Banner” reports that Vermont is fed up with the U.S. Dept. of Education and has turned away from the Obama Administration’s bureaucratic NCLB waiver.

http://www.benningtonbanner.com/local/ci_20724897/vermont-drops-waiver-request-no-child?source=email

In an April 17 letter … the U.S. Education Department said Vermont’s waiver application lacked “Detail regarding Vermont’s proposed accountability system,” and did not “Ensure significant progress in improving student achievement.”

Since applying for the waiver, Vermont has held a series of time-consuming negotiations as it attempted to create its own system of measurement and accountability that relied less on standardized tests and punitive actions against teachers, administrators and schools.

Throughout those negotiations it became more and more apparent that the U.S Department of Education would not be willing to budge on many of Vermont’s requests, and so when the latest letter arrived in Montpelier asking for more details the State Board of Education decided to cut its losses and move on.

“As the Vermont Department of Education has continued to negotiate for the flexibility that was promised since we started in August, it has become clear that the U.S. Education Department is interested in simply replacing one punitive, prescriptive model of accountability with another,” Vermont Department of Education Spokeswoman Jill Remick said. “We cannot continue to expend energy requesting a detailed accountability system that looks less and less like what we want for Vermont.”

Vermont, we applaud your independence from federal control.  We wish the Utah State Board of Education had the same brains and brawn.

The Snow White Birds: Elder Boyd K. Packer on Education   1 comment

http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=10919

This talk was given in 1995 at BYU by Boyd K. Packer.  Elder Packer titled this talk from a dream  President Brimhall had:

He saw several of the BYU professors standing around a peculiar machine on the campus. When one of them touched a spring a baited fish hook attached to a long thin wire rose rapidly into the air. . . .

Casting his eyes around the sky he [President Brimhall] discovered a flock of snow-white birds circling among the clouds and disporting themselves in the sky, seemingly very happy. Presently one of them, seeing the bait on the hook, darted toward it and grabbed it. Instantly one of the professors on the ground touched a spring in the machine, and the bird was rapidly hauled down to the earth.

On reaching the ground the bird proved to be a BYU student, clad in an ancient Greek costume, and was directed to join a group of other students who had been brought down in a similar manner. Brother Brimhall walked over to them, and noticing that all of them looked very sad, discouraged and downcast, he asked them:

“Why, students, what on earth makes you so sad and downhearted?”

“Alas, we can never fly again!” they replied with a sigh and a sad shake of the head.

Their Greek philosophy had tied them to the earth. They could believe only what they could demonstrate in the laboratory. Their prayers could go no higher than the ceiling. They could see no heaven—no hereafter.7

   This dream moved him to action.  When an exercise in administrative diplomacy suddenly became an issue of faith, President Brimhall acted.  Elder Packed concludes his talk by saying, “The largest block of the tithing funds spent at BYU goes for teaching salaries. We cannot justify spending the widow’s mite on one who will not observe either the letter or the spirit of the contract he or she has signed. Every department chair, every director, every dean and administrator has a sacred obligation to assure that no one under their care will pull the snow-white birds from the sky or cause even one to say, “Alas, we can never fly again!” or to “believe only what could be demonstrated in a laboratory” or to think that “their prayer could go no higher than the ceiling, or to see no heaven—no hereafter.”

Here is the whole talk:

The Snow-White Birds

BOYD K. PACKER


Boyd K. Packer was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this Annual University Conference address was given on 29 August 1995.

© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Complete volumes of Speeches are available wherever LDS books are sold.

For further information contact: Speeches, 218 University Press Building, Provo, Utah 84602. (801) 422-2299 / E-mail: speeches@byu.edu / Speeches Home Page


I greet you tonight with the blessings and good wishes of the First Presidency of the Church, who serve as the officers of the board of trustees and represent them in this assignment. With the faculty, staff, and administration present, only the students are missing. It is in their interest that I have entitled my message “The Snow-White Birds.”

A few days ago President Lee asked me to substitute for Elder M. Russell Ballard, who is recovering from heart surgery and is doing very well. President Lee urged me to reminisce about my years of association with Brigham Young University.

My preparation, of necessity, has been limited to small blocks of time pried open in an already solid schedule—mostly when you were asleep. I have been shaken by the thought that my presentation this evening might bring you to that same condition!

President Harold B. Lee told me once that inspiration comes easier when you can set foot on the site related to the need for it. With a very sincere desire to be guided in preparing what I should say to you, early Sunday morning, before you were about, I stood in the Maeser Building, and I found that President Lee was right!

In one sense, this is a graduation. President Rex Lee has reported periodically to the public on the condition of his health, most often with Janet at his side. I do not know of anyone else who has shown the wisdom and the courage to do that. The Lees have served faithfully and well. I do not know another first lady of BYU who has shown more devotion. She has sparkled in public and has been an unfailing support to our president in the greater role known only to them. Together they deserve the highest marks. President Lee, never satisfied with less than his best, has earned them now. They both have our commendation and affection.

In one sense, I too am graduating tonight. After 34 years on the board of trustees for BYU, most of it on the executive committee, I have been released.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve will now be rotated on the board. That is as it should be, for the Twelve, under the direction of the First Presidency, are responsible to watch over and “set in order”1the Church in all the world.

Since the future of the Church rests with our youth and since the budget for their education is the second largest of all Church appropriations (the budget for BYU alone is in the hundreds of millions of dollars), you deserve the responsible attention of all of the Twelve. And I am sure you will have that.

It has been said that young men speak of the future because they have no past, and oldmen speak of the past because they have no future. Responding to President Lee’s request, I will act my age and reminisce.

Our first visit to this campus was 48 years ago this month. Donna and I were returning from our honeymoon. Seven years later I walked into the Maeser Building, then the administration building, to an office I was to occupy as chairman of a summer school for all seminary and institute personnel. There were problems, and so we had been called in for some reinforcement, some shaping up.

Our instructor was Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He invited guest lecturers. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. came more than once; President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elders Spencer W. Kimball, Mark E. Peterson, Marion G. Romney, LeGrand Richards, Delbert L. Stapley, and Richard L. Evans, President Belle S. Spafford of the Relief Society (one of the greatest women of our time), and others came. For two hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks we were taught at the feet of the apostles. The influence of those days is still evident in our lives and in Church education.

The following year, as a supervisor of seminaries and institutes, I returned to the Maeser Building. I occupied an office there until the administration moved to the newly completed Smoot Building.

In 1958 A. Theodore Tuttle, the other supervisor of seminaries, was called as a member of the First Council of the Seventy.

In October 1961 I was called as an Assistant to the Twelve. One of my first assignments was to the Church Board of Education, the BYU Board of Trustees, and the executive committee.

I can remember Presidents Franklin S. Harris, Howard McDonald, and Acting President Christen Jensen. I have had a close association with Presidents Wilkinson, Oaks, Holland, and Lee.

I remember as well Sunday, January 8, 1956. To understand why that is memorable to me, we must go back to 1910.

George Brimhall, having already served 19 years as president of BYU, determined to establish a recognized teachers college. He had hired three professors: one with a master’s degree from Harvard, one with a doctorate from Cornell, and the other with a doctorate from Chicago. They hoped to transform the college into a full-fledged university. They determined that practicality and religion, which had characterized the school, must now give way to more intellectual and scientific philosophies.

The professors held that “the fundamentals of religion could and must be investigated by extending the [empirical] method into the spiritual realm,” and they “considered evolution to be a basic, spiritual principle through which the divinity in nature expressed itself.”2 The faculty sided with the new professors and the students rallied to them.

Horace Cummings, superintendent of Church schools, became concerned because they were “applying the evolutionary theory and other philosophical hypotheses to principles of the gospel and to the teachings of the Church in such a way as to disturb, if not destroy the faith of the pupils,” and he wrote, “Many stake presidents, some of our leading principals and teachers, and leading men who are friends of our schools have expressed deep anxiety to me about this matter.”3

Superintendent Cummings reported to the board that:

1. The teachers were following the “higher criticism”. . . , treating the Bible as “a collection of myths, folk-lore, dramas, literary productions, history and some inspiration.”

2. They rejected the flood, the confusion of tongues, the miracle of the Red Sea, and the temptation of Christ as real phenomena.

3. They said John the Revelator was not translated but died in the year A.D. 96.

4. “The theory of evolution is treated as a demonstrated law and their applications of it to gospel truths give rise to many curious and conflicting explanations of scripture.”

5. The teachers carried philosophical ideas too far: (1) “They believed sinners should be pitied and enlightened rather than blamed or punished,” (2) and they believed that “we should never agree. God never made two things alike. Only by taking different views of a thing can its real truth be seen.”

6. . . . .

7. The professors taught that “all truths change as we change. Nothing is fixed or reliable.”

8. They also taught that “Visions and revelations are mental suggestions. The objective reality of the presence of the Father and the Son, in Joseph Smith’s first vision, is questioned.”4

Superintendent Cummings concluded his report by saying that the professors “seem to feel that they have a mission to protect the young from the errors of their parents.”5

President Brimhall himself defended the professors—that is, until some students “frankly told him they had quit praying because they learned in school there was no real God to hear them.”6

Shortly thereafter President Brimhall had a dream.

He saw several of the BYU professors standing around a peculiar machine on the campus. When one of them touched a spring a baited fish hook attached to a long thin wire rose rapidly into the air. . . .

Casting his eyes around the sky he [President Brimhall] discovered a flock of snow-white birds circling among the clouds and disporting themselves in the sky, seemingly very happy. Presently one of them, seeing the bait on the hook, darted toward it and grabbed it. Instantly one of the professors on the ground touched a spring in the machine, and the bird was rapidly hauled down to the earth.

On reaching the ground the bird proved to be a BYU student, clad in an ancient Greek costume, and was directed to join a group of other students who had been brought down in a similar manner. Brother Brimhall walked over to them, and noticing that all of them looked very sad, discouraged and downcast, he asked them:

“Why, students, what on earth makes you so sad and downhearted?”

“Alas, we can never fly again!” they replied with a sigh and a sad shake of the head.

Their Greek philosophy had tied them to the earth. They could believe only what they could demonstrate in the laboratory. Their prayers could go no higher than the ceiling. They could see no heaven—no hereafter.7

Now deeply embarrassed by the controversy and caught between opposing factions, President Brimhall at first attempted to be conciliatory. He said, “I have been hoping for a year or two past that harmony could be secured by waiting, but the delays have been fraught with increased danger.”8 When an exercise in administrative diplomacy suddenly became an issue of faith,President Brimhall acted.

And now to Sunday, January 8, 1956. President David O. McKay came to Brigham City to dedicate a chapel built for students of the Intermountain Indian School. I stood next to him to introduce those who came forward to shake his hand.

A very old man, a stranger to me, came forward on the arm of his daughter. He had come some distance to speak to President McKay. It was impossible for me not to hear their conversation. He gave President McKay his name and said that many years ago he had taught at BYU. President McKay said, “Yes, I know who you are.” Tears came as the old man spoke sorrowfully about the burden he had carried for years. President McKay was very tender in consoling him. “I know your heart,” he said. That old man was one of the three professors who had been hired by President Brimhall in 1910.

Let me share with you another experience or two from which I learned valuable lessons.

During our BYU years we lived in Lindon. Early one Christmas Eve I received a telephone call. I told Donna that I must run in to Provo to the office. By doing so, one of our teachers could have a much happier Christmas.

I thought I was alone in the Maeser Building. Not so. President Ernest L. Wilkinson, whose office was at the other end of the hall, walked into President Berrett’s office, then into Brother Tuttle’s office, looked in the storeroom, and then stepped into my office. Without saying a word to me, he looked around my office and walked out. Although I knew him to be absorbed in whatever he did, I shook my head and muttered to myself, “Well, cuss you!”

Shortly thereafter, Vice President Harvey L. Taylor came into the office and made the same tour. Startled to find me at my desk, he asked, “What on earth are you doing here on Christmas Eve?” I explained why I was there. He then told me how much I was appreciated and how grateful he was for one who would go the extra mile. He wished me a merry Christmas and left.

After he was gone, I had generous thoughts about President Wilkinson. If he was smart enough to have a man like Harvey Taylor follow him around, I could put up with his exasperating ways.

Some time later I was summoned to a meeting of the Administrative Council in President Wilkinson’s office. They were discussing the appointment of someone in St. George to recruit the graduates of Dixie Junior College to BYU. I recommended the director of the institute there and said, “To appoint someone else would be misunderstood.”

The others there agreed. But after discussion, President Wilkinson said someone else would be better. I responded, “That’s all right, President, but you are still wrong.”

Suddenly there was dead silence. When President Wilkinson was greatly amused or angry, he had a way of running his tongue around the inside of his cheeks. He stood up and walked around his desk two or three times. I suppose he was trying to get control of himself. Finally he sat down, and Joseph T. Bentley said quietly, “President, Brother Packer is right.”

At that point I was excused from the meeting. That night I told Donna that we would be leaving BYU, and I hoped we could return to Brigham City to teach seminary. Two days later I received a memo from President Wilkinson appointing me to the Administrative Council of Brigham Young University.

During the years I served on that council, I came to appreciate President Wilkinson. He had a profound influence on the university, and the naming of a building, this building, for him is little enough by way of tribute to him.

In 1966 BYU underwent an accrediting evaluation. The evaluation of the College of Religion by two clergymen from differing faiths was thought to offer a fresh insight into the role of religion at BYU.

These two “outsiders” expressed concern over the intellectual climate and the “revelational and authoritarian approach to knowledge.” They recommended that, for the purpose of intellectual ferment and free inquiry at BYU, the university should have one or two atheists on the faculty.

President Wilkinson wrote a response to the accreditation report and asked for corrections. He pointed out that “there were no limitations on teaching about these philosophies, but there were cautions about advocating them!”

Although the chairman of the commission invited a response to President Wilkinson’s letter, none was ever received.

Perhaps the answer came from the 1976 Accreditation Committee. They explained in the introduction of their report:

Institutional evaluation, as practiced by the Commission on Colleges, begins with an institution’s definition of its own nature and purposes; and a declaration of its goals and objectives pursuant upon that definition. The institution is then evaluated, essentially in its own terms, from the point of view of how well it appears to be living up to its own self-definition; and how well its goals and objectives fits that definition, as well as the extent to which they appear to be carried out and achieved in practice.9

That 1976 accreditation report was highly favorable. They found BYU “to be a vibrant and vital institution of genuine university caliber.”10

Perhaps this is enough reminiscing. Yesterday President Lee spoke with keen insight about the future of Brigham Young University, and he did it very well.

Perhaps young men do speak of the future because they have no past, and old men of the past because they have no future. However, there are 15 old men whose very lives are focused on the future. They are called, sustained, and ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. It is their right to see as seers see; it is their obligation to counsel and to warn.

Immediately ahead is the appointment of a new president of BYU. A search committee has been appointed. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve has been named chairman of that committee. Members of the committee are Elders M. Russell Ballard and Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Presiding Bishop Merrill Bateman, and President Elaine Jack of the Relief Society.

They are now at work. The appointment of the next president of Brigham Young University is a crucial one. During the next 10 years, 59 percent of the faculty will retire. That comes about because of the enormous growth during the Wilkinson years. Imagine a 60 percent turnover in faculty!

The board has long since charged the administration to refine the hiring process to ensure that those who will come to replace you will be of the same quality of worthiness, spirit, and professional competency as you were at the beginning of your careers.

It is not always possible to give the watch care that you deserve. When things come to us a piece at a time, without an explanation of how they fit together, we may fail to see overall changes that are taking place.

Several years ago, the then president of the Relief Society asked why the name of one of the colleges at BYU was changed. It concerned her. She had watched the establishment of the College of Family Living, a decision that was far ahead of its time. The Joseph F. Smith Family Living Center, one of the largest buildings on campus at the time, was built to house the college. BYU stood unique in all the world in organizing such a college.

Why, she asked, did they change the name of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences? Her concern was that family would be lost to social and to science.The names of the courses were changed, things were shifted about, and their objectives shifted toward the professional and theoretical.

I thought that the Relief Society president asked a very insightful question, and I shared her concern. She was told that, since there was no counterpart in other universities to a college that concentrated on the family, there were academic reasons for the changes.

When researchers are too focused on what is, they may lose sight of what oughtto be. A kitchen then may be regarded as a research lab, and a family as any group of unrelated people who spend the night under the same roof—defined that way because experts in the world convince the government that it is supposed to be that way.

Has something like that happened in the other colleges as well? Is the teaching of religion given a preeminent place, and are those who teach religion full-time recognized for the vital contribution they make to every other discipline? Has there been a drift in the College of Education? Has the responsibility to prepare teachers been divided up and parceled out and lost? Have words such as training, instruction, and valuesbeen brushed aside in favor of loftier theoretical and intellectual considerations? Consider these lines:

Today a professor in a garden relaxing Like Plato of old in the academe shade Spoke out in a manner I never had heard him
And this is one of the things that he said:
Suppose that we state as a tenet of wisdom That knowledge is not for delight of the mind Nor an end in itself, but a packet of treasure To hold and employ for the good of mankind.
A torch or a candle is barren of meaning Except it give light to men as they climb,
And thesis and tomes are but impotent jumble Unless they are tools in the building of time.
We scholars toil on with the zeal of a miner For nuggets and nuggets and one nugget more,
But scholars are needed to study the uses Of all the great mass of data and lore.
And truly our tireless and endless researches Need yoking with man’s daily problems and strife,
For truth and beauty and virtue have value Confirmed by their uses in practical life.[Anonymous]

If students are going to partake of the fruit that is “desirable to make one happy,” yeah, “desirable above all other fruit,”11which Lehi saw in his vision, they had better have their ladder leaning against the right tree. And they had better hold onto the iron rod while they are working their way toward it.

Now, in an absolutely remarkable consensus, leaders in politics, government, law enforcement, medicine, social agencies, and the courts recognize that the breakdown of the family is the most dangerous and frightening development of our time, perhaps in all human history. They are casting around for answers.

There is a desperate need for stable families and teachers who know how to teach values. Were we not better equipped a generation ago to produce them? Have some among us measured themselves against the world and its sophisticated intellectual standard? Have they “cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed”12and let go of the iron rod of Lehi’s vision?

The prophet Jacob spoke of wasting one’s time by following those who, “when they are learned they think they are wise.” “To be learned is good,” he further said, “if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”13

Your faculty committees are now at work on the self-evaluation of the university. We have heard good reports of their progress. Those committees might well look thoughtfully and long and prayerfully at these issues.

Surely you will remember that the board of trustees has directed that in order to contribute to the central mission of the Church, “BYU is a Church-related [and I might say parenthetically totally owned], very large, national, academically selective, teaching-oriented, undergraduate university offering both liberal arts and occupational degrees, with sufficiently strong graduate programs and research work to be a major university, but insufficient sponsored research and academic doctoral programs to be a graduate research institution.”14

Let them honor this direction from the minutes of the board of trustees: “Boards make policy and administrators implement policy.

“Boards must be informed of all proposed changes in basic programs and key personnel in order to achieve better understanding with the administrators.”15

Your committee, indeed all of you, would do well to read carefully Jacob’s parable of the olive vineyard in the Book of Mormon. You might stand, as the Lord of the vineyard did, and weep when he saw that some branches “grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves.”16 You might ask with him, as we have asked, “What could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it?”17And yet some branches bring forth bitter fruit. And you might do as the lord of the vineyard did and as Brother Brimhall did. They pruned out those branches that brought forth bitter fruit and grafted in cuttings from the nether most part of the vineyard.

And by so doing, “the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning.”18

Now I must speak of the snow-white birds that Brother Brimhall saw in his dream or vision. I say vision because another old man, Lehi, told his son Nephi, “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.”19

We have now enrolled in our institutes of religion 198,000 students. We spend approximately $300 a year on each of them. We spend more than $7,500 a year on each student at BYU and over $12,000 per student on the Hawaii campus, all of it from tithing funds.

That inequity worries the Brethren. We are trying to reach out to those in public colleges, as well as to the college-age members who are not, for various reasons, in school. We have invited them to attend classes in the institutes.

General Authorities often speak at firesides in the Marriott Center. Lately we have been broadcasting these messages to the institute students by satellite. Last time I was assigned, I spoke from Seattle. I wanted to show an equal interest in and an equal desire to be close to those who do not attend Church schools.

They need our help, these snow-white birds who now must fly in an atmosphere that grows ever darker with pollution. It is harder now for them to keep their wings from being soiled or their flight feathers from being pulled out.

The troubles that beset President Brimhall were hardly new. Paul told Timothy that, even in that day, they were of ancient origin:

“As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,” he told Timothy, “so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”20

Paul prophesied plainly that those challenges would face us in the last days. They seem to cycle back each generation. They emerged in the early ‘30s. The Brethren called all of the teachers of religion together for a summer school at Aspen Grove. President J. Reuben Clark Jr., speaking for the First Presidency, delivered the landmark address “The Charted Course of the Church in Education” (1938). That address should be read by every one of you every year. It is insightful; it is profound; it is prophetic; it is scripture.

That opposition emerged again in the institutes of religion in the early ‘50s, and the Brethren called the summer session of which I spoke earlier, with Elder Harold B. Lee of the Twelve as our teacher.

We need to be alert today. Although there are too many now in our schools for us to call all of you together, here at BYU much is being done to reaffirm standards. You yourselves have helped refine the credentials for one who will influence these snow-white birds of ours. That standard is temple worthiness, with a recommend in hand for members and a respect for our standards by those who are not.

But that is not all. There must be a feeling and a dedication and a recognition and acceptance of the mission of our Church schools. Those standards will and must be upheld. The largest block of the tithing funds spent at BYU goes for teaching salaries. We cannot justify spending the widow’s mite on one who will not observe either the letter or the spirit of the contract he or she has signed. Every department chair, every director, every dean and administrator has a sacred obligation to assure that no one under their care will pull the snow-white birds from the sky or cause even one to say, “Alas, we can never fly again!” or to “believe only what could be demonstrated in a laboratory” or to think that “their prayer could go no higher than the ceiling, or to see no heaven—no hereafter.”

We expect no more of anyone than that you live up to the contract you have signed. We will accept no less of you. The standards of the accreditation agencies expect no less of us. It is a matter of trust, for we are trustees.

I have said much about teachers. Many of you look after housing and food services or maintain the libraries, the museums, or the sports fields or keep the records, protect law and order and safety, service equipment, keep up the campus, publish materials, manage the finances, and a hundred other things. Without you this institution would come apart in a day. You are absolutely vital to the mission of Brigham Young University.

You obligation to maintain standards is no less, nor will your spiritual rewards fall one bit below those who are more visible in teaching and in administration.

All of you, together with the priesthood and auxiliary leaders from the community who devote themselves to these snow-white birds of ours, are an example, an ensign to the whole Church and to the world. The quality of your scholarship is unsurpassed, your service and dedication a miracle in itself. There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything that can compare with you. Much in the future of the restored Church depends on you. Your greater mission lies ahead.

The prophet Isaiah said:

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.21

President Brigham Young told Karl G. Maeser: “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”22

Now I would, as one standing among those who hold the keys, do as President Young did, and that is invoke a blessing. I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you, as teachers, as administrators, as members of the staff, as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. May you be blessed in all that you do, that the Spirit of the Lord will be in your hearts, and that you will have the inspiration combined with knowledge to make you equal to the challenge of teaching the snow-white birds who come to you to learn how to fly. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Notes

1. D&C 107:58.

2. Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, vol. 1 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 415.

3. Years,1:419.

4. Years,1:423.

5. Ibid.

6. Years,1:421.

7. Years,1:421–22.

8. Years,1:430.

9. Years,4:112; emphasis added.

10. Years,4:113.

11. 1 Nephi 8:10, 12.

12. 1 Nephi 8:25.

13. 2 Nephi 9:28-–9; emphasis added.

14. Adopted by Board of Trustees, June 1990; emphasis added.

15. Executive Meeting Minutes, April 27, 1982; emphasis added.

16. Jacob 5:48.

17. Jacob 5:47.

18. Jacob 5:74.

19. 1 Nephi 8:2.

20. 2 Timothy 3:8.

21. Isaiah 40:29-31.

22. Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography by His Son (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1928), 79.

Mitt Romney’s New Research on Education Reform   Leave a comment

This week, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney published an article on Education Reform.  I have been reading it and am disappointed that it never mentions Common Core at all.  Here’s the full document.

http://www.mittromney.com/sites/default/files/shared/120523-Education%20White%20Paper%20FINAL%20for%20PDF.pdf

The words “common core”  or “Common Core State Standards” are absent from this document.  In other words, Romeny has no comment on whether they are good or bad, either academically or in terms of the sovereignty of states.  Strange, since Common Core is the top program being implemented –almost nationally– right now.

The forward to Romney’s document is written by Jeb Bush, which might explain the lack of comment on Common Core.  Bush does say, “What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”  Amen.

Yet, his statement is odd –this is from Jeb Bush, a strong proponent of Common Core. Truly, Common Core is a “prescriptive top-down mandate,” with its rules being handed down to states as if they were laws, by the trade group that copyrighted the standards, the NGA.  I do not know why Jeb Bush is for the Common Core.  Obviously, and unfortunately, Romney trusts Bush.  He let Bush write the forward to Romney’s white paper on education reform.

An Education Week report links to a letter that Mr. Bush sent to a subcommittee slated to discuss of legislation opposing national standards. Mr. Bush urged members to not even talk about it, because apparently, even considering that the Common Core might have dangerous downsides should be avoided, even among people who believe in individualism and liberty.

Most state legislators have no idea what’s going on with national standards:

“Legislators have heard of it, but not a whole lot of states engage legislators in discussion of the common core,” said [John Locke Foundation education analyst Terry] Stoops, who describes himself as a common-core opponent. “Some wanted to know more about it, because state education agencies or state boards of education didn’t give them much information, if any, on the common core.”

If this is accurate, it confirms exactly what I’ve been saying for months: Despite being told that the national standards drive is “state-led,” the people’s representatives have been frozen out of it… it suggests that national-standardizers’ strategy of sneaking standards in is working… The legislators need to be educated on what these standards entail, how they have been left out of the process by their state education boards, and the enormous amount of debt this will cost their state.”

The underlined portion, above, comes from the Missouri Education Watchdog site, and explains why perhaps Mitt Romney does not yet understand what Common Core is all about or have any comment about it.  Let’s all tell him what we think!

Jeb Bush supports Common Core so much that Bush does not even want legislators to debate it.  Why? I want to know.

Romney’s white paper concludes:

“Unfortunately, like a man with a hammer that sees every problem as a nail, President Obama’s policy response to every education challenge has been more federal spending. Increased spending on our K-12 public schools has failed to produce results, and increased spending is already one of higher education’s greatest problems. … he has succeeded only in pushing state budgets closer to the brink and pushing student budgets over it, all while handsomely repaying teachers unions for their political support. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney understands that more spending is the last thing our schools need. As a former governor with one of the most successful education records in the nation, he understands the challenges that states face and the futility of attempting to spend their way out of them.”

So, what’s in Romney’s thirty four page report, between Jeb Bush’s intro and Romney’s conclusion?

  • A Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA… [Details, please.]
  • To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. [This is fine if it's not a federal or consortium-triangulated, national testing system. But we have no guarantees anymore, now that each state built its inter-facing longitudinal data system.]
  • Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts parents and students’ interests ahead of special interests. [Sounds good.]
  • What we need is leadership from state and federal policymakers to free public education from a paralysis that keeps our schools and students from reaching their full potential. [AGREED.]
  • Both parents and taxpayers should have detailed and timely information on school and district spending to ensure accountability for the use of public funds. [AMEN]
  • Romney will pursue genuine reforms that unleash the forces of innovation on our institutions of higher learning, pressing them to improve their education models and forcing them to compete against new entrants with entirely different models.
  • Less regulation, more innovation:  the hallmark of the U.S. economy is its constant ability to innovate, to develop and deliver new products and services, and to offer ever-increasing quality to consumers at an ever-lower cost.
  • A Romney Administration will eliminate unnecessary data collection requirements
  • Parents will have the information they need to hold school administrators accountable and make the right decisions for their children.
  • States will remain in control of implementing reforms.
  • These reforms will transform the teaching profession from one burdened by bureaucracy, focused on certification, and evaluated based on years of service to one that attracts the best and the brightest, builds crucial skills, and rewards effective performance.
  • A Romney Administration will work closely with Congress to strengthen NCLB by reducing federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to provide transparency and accountability. The school interventions required by NCLB will be replaced by a requirement that states provide parents and other citizens far greater transparency about results. In particular, states will be required to provide report cards that evaluate schools and districts on an A through F or similar scale based primarily on their contribution to achievement growth.  [I don't like this one because I don't like NCLB].
  • As a result of NCLB, standards, assessments, and data systems are light-years ahead of where they were a decade ago. [Really? Umm...]

KSL publishes biased survey on Common Core   Leave a comment

There was a terribly biased survey on KSL a week ago.  The wording of the questions was terribly misleading and it was clear that the survey maker was pro-Common Core. 

Here is one example of the slanted questions: “Opponents, especially arch-conservatives, who fear Common Core standards will compromise Utah values, threaten local control of education, and impose one-size-fits-all requirements.”  So they are implying that nobody opposes these standards except fearful people and/or extreme conservatives?  Puh- leeease.

The follow up article started like this:

“SALT LAKE CITY — In the latest sign that the  Common Core curriculum debate is winding down, a recent  non-scientific survey of Utah political insiders shows…  most Republicans and almost all Democrats agree with  supporters of the new educational standards for public  schools…”

I really disagree with reporter Ben Woods here.

First of all, in a direct phone survey done by Alisa Ellis of all Republican candidates running in Utah for any office in 2012, it was found that 99% of all candidates were opposed to the Common Core State Standards.

Secondly, the Common Core debate is far from “winding down”. Presidential Candidate Romney just shifted his presidential campaign focus to education. President Obama is beginning to take credit for the implementation of this nationalized education system. Teachers and parents are signing the petition every day at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com, and nationally, reporters and parents are writing more, not less, about the subject.

And mother bears and teachers like me are increasingly angry that our children are not going to be learning adequately –all because of Common Core and its many lies.

Mother bears do not go back to sleep easily once woken.

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation   Leave a comment

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation.

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation   1 comment

There is nothing wrong with caring for our earth; it is a duty we all have.  The problem with environmental education arises when earth-care becomes too obsessive, and begins to intrude on other vital principles, including national sovereignty, human liberty, the right to own property, the right to have as many children as we like, or well-rounded education.

Just ask landowners in Provo who are being removed from their farms by eminent domain law, because the June Sucker fish has become more important than property rights under environmental agendas in Utah.  Orrin Hatch wrote an op-ed about it, too.   http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/provo/landowners-angry-over-proposal-to-shut-down-lower-provo-river/article_9940f649-9030-5505-a54f-d2d1f76eed83.html   and http://hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/op-eds?ID=fdd19792-7cd8-4df2-93ac-6a21c9492b1e

I read several interesting articles today about the world “godfather of environmentalism,” Maurice Strong, who may likely be elected the next president of the United Nations.

It’s funny that environmentalism and education and property rights are all networked together because they all avoid this question:  What About Individual Freedom? 

You will never see the concept or word” liberty” or “sovereign” or “freedom” in the U.N.’s World Core Curriculum, for example, found on United Nations websites (http://robertmuller.org/rm/R1/World_Core_Curriculum.html_ )  — and using words that sound so similar to the words used to promote goals of the new U.S. Common Core.  (There are many connections between Common Core and the U.N.; to make this a short post, I will stick with the most obvious and tangible one– financial. )

Everyone knows Bill Gates and other U.N.-supporting groups have thrown oceans of money to promote both environmental education and Common Core in America. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2010/1207/Does-the-Bill-Gates-approach-to-education-work-for-peacebuilding  http://www.gatesfoundation.org/speeches-commentary/pages/bill-gates-united-nations-2008.aspx

Gates is a big proponent of global education and gives speeches to the United Nations on the subject. He promotes the U.N. “Milennium Development Goals” and sees eye to eye with the U.N. environmental agenda, and he’s pushing it (and his money) on U.S. education.

This is not good, to have one of the richest men on earth paying for and forming education policies with both our U.S. Dept of Education and with the United Nations and promoting and paying for Common Core, which obviously limits local freedom over education.

But this post is not about Bill Gates.  This one is about Maurice Strong, another U.N. loyalist.  I give you Gates just so you see the network of pro-radical-environmentist, pro-forced-and-standardized-education elites.  Please read on:

( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,250789,00.html  and http://www.thenewamerican.com/opinion/tom-deweese/item/11288-the-most-dangerous-man-in-the-world  and http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/66/Letters/PDF/PGA%20letter%20and%20summary%20on%20rio+20%20retreat%20-%209%20January%202012.pdf )

Maurice Strong is an absolute anti-American, so concerned with the environment that he has become anti-liberty.

He doesn’t want any country to have a Constitution: “It is not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states.” He doesn’t want any person to have property or to eat what they want or use air conditioning at all.  “….high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable.”  These things are against his religion; he belongs to a nature-worshiping religion called Gaia.

Maurice Strong and the U.N.’s radical environmental influence on U.S. policy and textbooks seems to extend to my own children’s schooling, where recycling is not taught one day of the year, but is a repeated theme across topics and school subjects yearlong.  My teenage daughter’s geography textbook quotes the United Nations policies ad nauseum and uses the term “sustainable” or “sustainable development” countless numbers of times.  This concerns me.

I’m going to give you highlights of an article about Maurice Strong, this one by Tom DeWeese, found in full here:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/opinion/tom-deweese/item/11288-the-most-dangerous-man-in-the-world

DeWeese writes:

“The assault on world property rights is led by Maurice Strong, the number one force behind UN and US environmental policy… In 1992, Strong told a UN conference…:“It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class, involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable.”

…this new term “Sustainable” …[now means] that all of man’s activities on Earth are harmful (and therefore not sustainable)…   man is a cancer on the Earth.  [The environmentalist] goal is to slowly cut back and finally end all development and reduce human habitat to specific areas while the rest of the world is turned into wilderness.

[Gaia, Strong's religion] is pure nature worship. Maurice Strong is also a director of the Temple of Understanding in New York City, where pagan rituals and earth worship include escorting sheep and cattle to the alter for a blessing. ..

…Today’s environmental agenda has grown way beyond a call for clean air and the recycling of plastic bottles and newspapers. In Maurice Strong’s Gaia-driven world — it’s OK for a beaver to build a dam — but not man. It’s OK for a bear to fish in the lake — but not man. It’s OK for a wolf to eat meat (especially if it’s the farmer’s sheep — but not man. Suffice it to say that no human activity is “Sustainable.”

…Maurice Strong said, “It is not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful.” That’s the Constitutional sovereignty of the United States he is talking about…

…Now, it is extremist, radical fringe and politically incorrect to suggest that the United Nations is engaged in a drive for one world government. It is well known — according to our president and the news media — that the UN is only interested in promoting world peace and stability…

But it does cause concern when a man, [Maurice Strong] believes that industrialized society is the most vile, evil structure on earth, is placed in charge of an organization, without general election, and that body is able to reap trillions of dollars of income, answerable to no one, with its own army, its own world bank and treaties signed by every nation on earth giving it control over policy and development.

… Maurice Strong today controls the UN’s Business Council for Sustainable Development. It is a hand picked group of 50 of the world’s most powerful business leaders. Among them: Kenneth Derr of Chevron and William Ruckleshous. Both Derr and Ruchelshous now serve on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development.

That environmental policy calls for turning 50% of every American state into wilderness, it will destroy industry and jobs and take away private property rights. And it will tie American sovereignty directly to United National policies. It has nothing to do with preserving clean air and water.

…The biodiversity treaty and UN Heritage Sites are being implemented on American soil right now. And property owners are already suffering as environmental policies are taking their land and their jobs.

There is only one way to fight back. Only one way to stop Maurice Strong’s Drive for power… Get the United States out of the United Nations.”  -Tom DeWeese

So, what do you think of all that?  You can’t  call it a conspiracy because it’s so openly professed.  It’s an agenda that is freely admitted and pushed, and many U.S. leaders– including Obama, of course– are okay with it.

Just to let you know: Salt Lake City is on board with the U.N.’s environmental policies, too:  a board called ICLEI is here. 

 ICLEI is not elected, but the group has a say over local decisions, and it’s directed by the United Nations.

ICLEI of Salt Lake City:

http://www.slcgov.com/search?search=iclei&x=0&y=0

http://www.slcclassic.com/slcgreen/climate/pdf/ETSP_Full_Plan_11_1_11_draft.pdf

 http://www.greentowns.com/initiative/icleicreating-climate-awareness-and-support-to-local-governments-committed-to-sustainability/iclei-member-salt-lake-city-ut-salt-lake-city-ut

Parents in Park City Question Rigor of Common Core Math   Leave a comment

Letter from Patti, a parent in Park City, May 2012:

 

Went to a district meeting this week up here in Park City touting the wonders of the Common Core math which we have been experiencing all year. 

In a room full of angry parents, they explained in an attempt to get us to cut them some slack, that the reason the kids really didn’t learn anything this year and only did a repeat of material they already learned (ie: my daughter did 5th grade level math in 8th grade all year) was because the teachers really have not learned yet how to teach this new way of teaching math, and they still do not have any textbooks.  But they hope to have some online textbooks by next year. 

When asked why on earth they would start this when they clearly were not ready,  the presenter said it was because the kids now in 9th grade need to be able to pass some test at the end of 11th grade so they wanted them to be ready. When asked why are we so concerned about the tests and not having the proper curriculum to be teaching off of, she totally slipped up and said, “because this is how the FEDERAL GOV’T wants us to implement it.  She practically gasped once it was out of her mouth as if to try and suck the words back in from out of the air and quickly corrected herself saying, “well not the gov’t but the state lead consortium.”

  Good thing I had my kids in the parking lot during the meeting putting flyers on windshields directing them to the Utahn’s against CC website.  :o)

 They showed an example of some of the 6th grade math.  What a joke.  “Let’s say you’re going to divide a fraction into another fraction.  Well before we can do that we need to get the students thinking “deeper”.  Why would you need to divide a fraction?  And what exactly is division? Why is division a necessary thing to know/learn. Once we know the kids understand the deeper meaning of what it is they are going to be doing, then we can proceed in teaching them”   WHAT!!!!!!!??????????  They told us that the kids would  be interacting with eachother more to “find the deeper meaning of things” and the teachers would be interacting less with the students and they would be using less material.  WHAT!!!!??????

The sad thing is, the email about the meeting went out to parents of 5 schools, there were only about 30 people in attendance. 

I plan to hand out flyers to the parents at the elementary schools in the pick-up line.  These people need to wake up.

 

Patti

Letter from a Texas Writing Professor on Student Writing   Leave a comment

Donna Garner, at Libertylinked, posted this letter she’d received from a Texas Professor of Writing.    http://libertylinked.com/posts/9864/instead-of-lowering-bar-how/View.aspx

Letter received on 5.19.12:

 

Hi, Donna,

 

I am a college professor who teaches ALL writing and reading intensive courses in both criminal justice and sociology.

 

I paid a visit to the Director of Instruction (D.I.) of English curriculum at a large public school district a month ago. This was done at the urging of the high-school principal who is very concerned about the lack of correct grammar in students’ writing and speaking.

 

 

I told the D. I. that, as a university instructor, I deduct the first 20 points off for grammar and spelling on ANY paper students submit to me for a grade. Students are always horrified and don’t believe that I will do it until they see it on their first set of returned papers.

 

 

After mid-semester, students begin visiting the tutoring and writing centers for help and review of their papers before submission. But, the papers STILL come in with many errors, and I receive word from those tutorial groups that the students HAVE been in there!

 

 

Seldom does a student make above 80 on any written assignment turned in to me. When they make 85, 90, 92, or 98, I really praise them and usually in front of the class. I tell them to set up their own tutorial services and charge at least $20/hour. Everyone laughs! But, they know that I am serious.

 

What it tells me is that there are incompetent people in the tutoring and writing centers as well. Too often, the tutoring centers do not have English proficient people in there… maybe they are math or science tutors but cannot help in English grammar, even when the student makes an advance appointment.

 

I count off for run-on sentences, sentence fragments, incorrect sequencing; mis-use of semi-colon and comma, spelling, andverb tense change in mid sentence. I warn them that after the second typed line of the sentence, they are treading in very dangerous waters; the possibility of a run-on sentence is increased dramatically!

 

You would NOT believe how many of them use text messaging in their papers now, like “til” for “until” or “u r” for”you are” or “your” for “you are.”  I carve up the papers. It looks as if I stuck my finger with a pin and dripped blood all over the pages.

 

 

The older students are very appreciative for the analysis. It takes me hours to do this. But, I encourage them to look over their first papers, find out what they did wrong, and NOT to do it again. I tell them to read aloud their own papers; they will catch many of their own errors then.

 

 

I warn them days in advance: NO contractions in formal writing;use “who” for people and “that” for things; we shouldn’t be writing the way we talk.

 

The English department was VERY surprised when they found out the way that I grade. I told them that I have done this (and am STILL doing this) at the various college campuses where I  have taught. I will continue doing this. My students are going to learn how to write, one way or the other. Most every job requires writing.

 

 

A number of police officers in my city because their written reports were so poorly written that they were not admissible as evidence in court. It could not be determined whom the policeman was talking about or what he/she was trying to say. So now, the police academies have an instructional block on “writing.” It has become a REAL problem for the D.A.’s office to prove a case because of the very poor use of the English language in the officers’ reports!

 

Students tell me that they have not been trained in grammar since 4th grade !  In high school, the grammar books stay under their chairs all semester. When I was teaching high school, we used them every week! What is the matter with our English teachers? 

 

 

One teacher told me that her department has been told to teach forcreativity and to forget about the specifics of grammar; it will come to thestudents LATER !  English teachers are being told to do this! I am hearingthis from teachers in various districts. It is shocking to me.

 

 

We also EXPECT for these kids to come into college already KNOWING how to operate the library software. We should not have to teach this to them again, but most of them don’t have a clue how to operate JStor, Ebsco, or any of the major library programs.

 

 

Students have never seen a peer-reviewed article. Our public school systems are paying a FORTUNE for these fancy software programs. Are only the administrators using them? At best, the kids are getting a brief explanation of what is there, and that’s it … instead of being given a research project where they have to show documentation from peer-reviewed articles, as well as newspapers and magazines, covering their subjects. Are only the students at the gifted and talented levels getting the benefit of this product?

 

News Concerning Education Reform: Governor Weighs SB10; CCSSO rebrands the term College and Career Readiness to mean forcing kids’ paths; Texas and Federal Money   1 comment

So much goes on every day  concerning education reforms being pushed  by the federal department of education and the understandable alarm of some states and some teachers. (To catch up, see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/common-core-state-standards-center-on-education-policy_n_1233181.html    and http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-national-governors-association-and-state-education-chiefs-common-core )

—I don’t know where to begin.

So I’ll start here in Utah with brand new news.  The Governor is announcing he will probably hold a special session to discuss approval of  SB10.  Not good!

SB10 accomodates the push of the state school board and its never well-publicized Common Core agendas, that promote more and more governmental and interstate controls over, and data collection via, Utah education: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=20551186&title=herbert-contemplating-special-session-to-deal-with-high-school-tests-liquor-licenses&s_cid=queue-2

SB10 is a bill that might get passed unless many speak up.  SB10 has a great sounding name:  College and Career Readiness Assessment.  –But wait a minute. We already had the ACT, the SAT, and a 10th grade basic skills competency.  What does this new bill actually do?

1. requires schools to administer a new test that pushes kids into one of three tracks they can’t easily switch from:  vocational school, 2 year college, or 4 year college track.  This limits freedom to improve and change.

2. eliminates an assessment system pilot program

3. creates a differentiated diploma system that may label kids for life (low, middle or high diploma) especially now that there’s such an increase in data gathering/collection technologies in our state. (a HUGE increase, sponsored by ARRA stimulus money– this longitudinal database interfaces with other states and with the federal government as never before dreamed)

And there is more.

To understand this newly-trendy phrase “College and Career Readiness,” it is helpful to study a CCSSO document (not written by us, but meant to be “voluntarily adopted by states”.  It’s meant to teach governors how to implement policy changes, across states.  The document repeats the phrase 44 times.

The document is put out by the CCSSO, the same group that pushes us to believe Common Core was state-led, the same group that helped to pay for and promote and develop the Common Core State Standards.

CCSSO means “Council of Chief State School Officers,” and their document is called  “Roadmap for Next Generation State Accountability Systems.”  I have the PDF but don’t know how to post it here.  (Techno geniuses, comment please.)

In that document, there are so many things that give me the creeps.  Samples:

“Now that most states have the ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data and information, we must leverage each element within the accountability system to utilize that information.”

Or this one:  “states have demonstrated significant leadership… on issues such as common graduation rate calculations, P-20 data systems, [which track preschoolers through twenty year olds] and common state standards and assessments aligned with college and career expectations…   learning from international models – so as not to be confined by the parameters and realities of the current system.” 

So, what they are saying here is that the American states’ ways are confining and is not to be trusted– even though we have the best medical schools, the smartest technologies, the most coveted universities in the world.  Our U.S. educational system, they say, is rock bottom and hopeless and so is our U.S. governmental system which “confines” us.  This reminds me of the Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Ginsberg, who is sworn to be loyal to the U.S. Constitution but who went around on t.v. telling other countries not to copy our lousy U.S. Constitution when they were writing their own.  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/06/ginsburg-to-egyptians-wouldnt-use-us-constitution-as-model/

These “progressives” are people who are “progressing” us away from the good our Founding fathers set up, toward more and more socialism and globalism.  Look at the fruits of “educational reforms” handed down by the CCSSO, the NGA, Arne Duncan’s Dept. of Education under Obama, and WestEd.  Not good!

So what are “accountability systems”?  I think of them as governmental surveillance systems with a little bit of educational research intent, thrown in to make it look pretty.

It’s convenient for these political edu-experts to slide mass surveillance goals in under our radar, on the coattails of educational assessments.  And we, just plain old teachers and citizens, seem to fall for it and thank them for it.

There is, of course, such a thing as legitimate survey and test taking, that truly serves research.  But there is also, especially now, an emphasis that is to me, overkill on testing and surveying that collects way too much data and ties it to individually identifiable people, and it can and will be used to regulate people, for good or ill.

How do you like the idea of your kids being tracked with I.D. chips, like pets?  It’s happening in parts of our country already.  See:   http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Students-will-be-tracked-via-chips-in-IDs-3584339.php#ixzz1vt9CHhWQ  I can guarantee there are some parents who won’t see any problem with this. It will make them feel safer, knowing they can find their child at all times. No sloughing school. No kidnapping.  (“So what if there is also no privacy?” they seem to think.)

The CCSSO document also says, under “Student Level Longitudinal Data System Requirements to Support Next-Generation Accountability Systems” that “States must not overlook the need for robust P-20 data [preschool to age 20 tracking systems] in order to generate and create the data necessary… As requirements under NCLB, and later ARRA, spurred states to develop and implement P-20 data systems, we now have a strong basis… for remediation and/or continuous improvement, must stem from the data generated….”  Does “requirements under ARRA spurred states” and “p-20 data systems” not give you the creeps? 

They go on:

“Lessons Learned from the USED Differentiated Accountability Pilot” says:  “ Nine states are now implementing differentiated accountability plans approved by USED. These plans provide states with greater flexibility to determine appropriate interventions for schools and districts”.

Did they just use the term “appropriate interventions” on schools the way officials use the term on prisoners or addicts?

On this point, I’m going to leave the CCSSO document for a moment and show you what is going on in Texas.  Because the U.S. Dept. of Education can’t force Texas to join Common Core, thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Rick Perry, poor Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is mad again.  His efforts to take over national education of the largest state in the union are unsuccessful.  But now, Arne Duncan,  –like Wiley Coyote who never gives up– Duncan is trying to use money to thwart the sovereignty of Texas.  Look:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Districts-can-seek-Race-to-the-Top-money-3581321.php

 http://www.statesman.com/news/local/two-central-texas-school-districts-awarded-85-million-934497.html

Utah School Board Member Asks To Be Taken Off Teacher’s Mailing List   Leave a comment

Dear Tami Pyfer,  

I know you are busy and probably inundated with mail, but unfortunately, I cannot take you off the list of school board members with whom I am communicating as long as you are a valid member of this board.

 http://schools.utah.gov/law/Administrative-Rules/ConsolidatedRules-CurrentThrough5-1-12.aspx

The Utah Constitution, Article X, Section 3 vests “general control and supervision of public education in the Board, Section 52-4-1 and directs that the actions of the Board be taken openly and that its deliberations be conducted openly and by Section 53A-1-401(3) which allows the Board to adopt rules in accordance with its responsibilities.

B. The purpose of this rule is to describe procedures to be followed by the Board in its conduct of the public’s business in order to hear from those who desire to be heard on public education matters in the state…”

Additionally,  “63G-3-201(4). B. Public Petition

(1) Any person may petition the Board to make, amend, or repeal a rule. The petition shall contain the name and address of the person submitting the rule, a written copy of the proposal, a statement concerning the Board’s legal authority to act, and the reasons for the proposal. The petition is submitted to the Superintendent.

(2) The Superintendent reviews petitions prior to consideration by the Board. Within 30 days after receiving a petition, the Superintendent does one of the following:

(a) Notifies the petitioner that the petition has been denied and gives reasons for the denial; or

(b) Notifies the petitioner that the petition has been accepted.”

I have petitioned this board and am still patiently waiting for the board to:

a) respond to my petition for evidence that the Common Core flier is in fact true, and

b) repeal Common Core in the state of Utah, on the grounds that it is educationally mediocre at best, and on the grounds that it has robbed this state of  freedom of education.

Thus, I cannot honor your request to not hear from me anymore.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing you.

 

Christel Swasey

Utah Teacher

 

 On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM, Tami Pyfer wrote:

Christel,

Please remove my name from your email list. I’ve forwarded your recent email to our Board Chair, Debra Roberts, and asked that either she or our board secretary be the point of contact in this ongoing debate. Any new or relevant information that you send in future emails will be forwarded to me, as needed, by our board chair.

Thank you.

Tami Pyfer, District 1

 

 

From: Christel

Subject: Second Request for References

 

Dear School Board and Superintendent,

Some of you know me.  I’m a Utah parent, teacher and adjunct professor.  For many years, I’ve taught high school English, elementary school, and college at Utah Valley University, in the English and Basic Composition departments.

 

I’m writing to make a second request that this board provide the public with links to references, to back up the claims about Common Core State Standards, including the claims that they are truly rigorous, that they have been internationally benchmarked, that they promote authentic college readiness and raise our educational standards; also, that there are no federal strings attached, and that we, the people, are able to amend or discard the CCSS standards upon which our children will be tested.

I have learned that there is no escape clause nor amendment clause on these standards; I previously believed that the standards were in the public domain. I since learned that they are copyrighted by the trade group called NGA, and the CCSSO. That makes them even less free or amendable by Utahns. Such issues –of liberty lost and of low educational promise, trouble my soul.

The fact that the standards were never piloted and are not –despite claims– “internationally benchmarked,” troubles me. The fact that the public, teachers and legislators were so left out of this huge, transformative (for good or ill) decision, troubles me.

I have scoured the CCSS standards, legally binding agreements, letters from Arne Duncan, grant applications, the U.S.O.E. website and other district websites. I’ve attended local and state school board meetings and the statewide forum. I have read news articles and white pages by reporters and think tanks on both sides of this debate. I have communicated with WestEd, the company writing the nationalized assessments. I have talked with students, parents, legislators and teachers –all concerned about different aspects of the Common Core. I have read the legal analysis of retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson, about Common Core’s destructive effect on Utah’s educational sovereignty.

Based on all of this research, I testify that the Governor, Superintendent and State School Board should halt further implementation of the Common Core to protect the quality and autonomy of our educational system.

I have seen the failure of the math standards in my own ninth grade daughter’s experience.  This is the year that Common Core was implemented at Wasatch High. This is the year she would, according to the promises of Common Core, have gotten a better education than ever before. But the old standards introduced Algebra I to eighth graders, and the Common Core doesn’t introduce Algebra I until ninth grade, so she learned nothing new this school year. What a terrible fact.

Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina wrote: “We have sold our educational birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”  I concur.

How did this happen?  I cannot address all the issues, but I feel qualified to speak about Common Core’s marginalization of classic literature, because literature is something I have spent much of my life learning and teaching.

I hold two degrees, one focusing on literature and one focusing on info-texts:  I hold a BYU BA degree in English, and a BYU MA degree Communications.  I wrote a 382-page thesis on Ethnographic Literary Journalism, which is the study of informational text.  I was invited, and did present this research, at the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies at the Medill School of Journalism in Illinois in 2009.

I understand and highly value informational text.  You can see my exhaustive research on that subject in my Master’s thesis “Ethnographic Literary Journalism” athttp://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ETD/id/1888  ).

– Still, I view the literature-limitation mandate of Common Core as having the same effect on student learning as a book burning would. Nothing can replace precious time spent on classic literature, in terms of what it does to students as human beings. This is a terrible flaw in the English Language Arts standards, one that we now have no power to amend –except by cutting ties with Common Core.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at University of Arkansas, served on the national Common Core Standards Validation Committee http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/stotsky.html.

Dr. Stotsky refused to sign off on the standards as being authentic college preparation in English.

She wrote a letter to the National Governors’ Association and to the CCSSO which she also sent to Education Commissioners nationwide, explaining why she refused validate the standards as being rigorous or adequate.

http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Reasons%20for%20not%20signing%20off%20on%20Common%20Core’s%20final%20standards.pdf

Her reasons concern me deeply, (as do Professor James Milgram’s, the math professor who also served on that validation committee, who was another professor unwilling to sign off that the standards were valid or adequate).

Milgram’s, Stotsky’s, and other professors’ concerns that the standards are inadequate, are documented in exhibits A and B and in the introduction to this white paper:     http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf  as well as at the Stanford University College Success site: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

In the English Language Arts standards, I see one big red flag above anything else: a mandate to slash literature to 50% or less, to make room for informational text.  Probably nothing bothers me more about this Initiative than the fact that under Common Core, literature is marginalized –in English classes, where literature belongs!

Unrelated to literature, but included in my top ten reasons that I oppose Common Core and its many repercussions, is FERPA de-regulation by federal –and some local agencies.  FERPA changes are connected with Common Core via the “Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Dept of Education and the SBAC” as well as via the Race to the Top Application’s rule that states must “identify and address barriers in state law”.  Even if Utah cut ties to the Common Core Initiative, the technologies and laws are now put in place to destroy parental authority over children’s data and family privacy, both academic and nonacademic.

Few people know what has been happening to parental authority over children and their data.

As you know, in January, without Congressional approval, federal regulations of FERPA (The Family Education Right Privacy Act) were altered to loosen parental consent rules, providing “more flexibility” for outside entities to get student data. See http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a ).

Last month, our local Wasatch school board coincidentally created similar flexibility for external agencies to get local data, where families had had protections before.

The data-seeking network is growing: our state built a longitudinal database with federal stimulus money; the Utah Educator Network then partnered with the Data Alliance and Choice Solutions to build  “seamless” sharing of data, both statewide and for entities outside Utah.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm.  Meanwhile, the federal government started asking for previously state-analyzed, aggregated academic data: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf .

The federal government is also setting up the technological and legal ability to get dis-aggregated academic data, plus truckloads of far-from–academic data, about individuals and their families: living arrangements, biometric information, medical information, mental health, family income, bus stop times, nicknames, everything. See http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/information/aboutThe.aspx

Utah meets all elements of the federal data campaign in its longitudinal database, and Utah permits a P-20W workforce to track children (from preschool to age 20) making data available for any group calling itself a “stakeholder” of children: http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/Who-Benefits-P20-Data.pdf

Family privacy laws should never have been changed to accomodate parentally un-authorized “stakeholders” who want data without having to ask parents.  What steps are the state and local school board taking to make sure locals understand these state and federal issues with great clarity so that they can inform and protect parents and students?

Thank you for taking your time to read and respond to my concerns and to give solid references to back up the important claims about Common Core that were made by the USOE on its website and flier, claims that have now been republished in equally unreferenced form by school district websites, statewide.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

 

Dear Kraig Powell: On Measuring Common Core’s Validity After Implementation at Wasatch High   Leave a comment

Dear Kraig,

Common Core is about my children ‘s education, and yours.

 

Fact:  Common core puts Algebra I in 9th grade.  It used to be in 8th grade.

 

This information was never given to parents in any of the fliers passed out about Common Core by our district or by USOE.  I learned it by seeing my 9th grader’s math experience this year, and having that experience validated last week by the attached document (exhibits A and B are academic reviews of the math and English CC standards by national Common Core Validation Committee members: English Professor Dr. Sandra Stotsky and mathematicians Dr. James Milgram and Ze’ev Wurman.)

 

The mother bear in me is upset and I think you will find more and more people upset.  Why?

 

My own daughter was made to take Common Core because educational leaders bought the promises about “raising standards” and “rigor.”

 

But she learned nothing in math this year.  It was basically a review of 8th grade Algebra I.   (If I hear one more person claim the standards are rigorous, or repeat the false claims of the U.S.O.E.,  or point to Arne Duncan letters as if they don’t completely conflict with what Arne Duncan wrote in the “Cooperative Agreement” with us, I am going to pull my hair out and run screaming from the room.)

 

Because Utah’s Senate Education Committee has urged the state school board to “continually monitor the board’s implementation” of Common Core standards, I ask you to write a letter to our local and/or state school boards, asking them how they have monitored and measured this year’s implementation of Common Core.

 

I suggested that our local board do an anonymous survey of Common Core experiences with all students, teachers and parents who have piloted Common Core.

 

One member of our local board did agree that it would be a good way to monitor what is happening here.  This should absolutely be done on the local and state levels!  But will it happen?

 

Please do what you can.  I am not convinced that enough people care about whether the standards are actually doing any good for our kids, and I don’t believe there’s a  will to do such a survey –without an overwhelming amount of input in that direction.

 

If the standards are actually good, then let’s put that fact on display so we can all see it.   If they’re not, we need to know it.

 

I used to think that the real issue was political– that no matter how good the standards were, losing our freedoms in exchange wasn’t worth it.

 

Now I think the biggest issue is educational– we can’t get this time back to teach our children properly.  They grow so fast; by the time we all wake up to what’s happened, this generation will have grown up.

 

I’m hoping a survey will shed light very quickly on these things.  Thanks for your consideration.

Christel

Please Contact Your School Boards If You Care About Family Privacy Law   Leave a comment

Dear Editor:  Few people know what has been happening to parental authority over children and their data.

 

In January, without Congressional approval, federal regulations of FERPA (The Family Education Right Privacy Act) were altered to loosen parental consent rules, providing “more flexibility” for outside entities to get student data. See http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a ).

 

Last month, our local school board coincidentally created similar flexibility for external agencies to get local data, where families had had protections before.

 

The data-seeking network is growing: our state built a longitudinal database with federal stimulus money; the Utah Educator Network then partnered with the Data Alliance and Choice Solutions to build  “seamless” sharing of data, both statewide and for entities outside Utah.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm.  Meanwhile, the federal government started asking for previously state-analyzed, aggregated academic data:  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf .

 

The federal government is also setting up the technological and legal ability to get dis-aggregated academic data, plus truckloads of far-from–academic data, about individuals and their families: living arrangements, biometric information, medical information, mental health, family income, bus stop times, nicknames, everything! See http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/information/aboutThe.aspx

 

Utah brags about meeting all elements of the federal data campaign in its longitudinal database, and Utah permits a P-20W workforce to track children (from preschool to age 20) making data available for any group calling itself a “stakeholder” of children:  http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/Who-Benefits-P20-Data.pdf

 

Family privacy laws should never have been changed to accomodate parentally un-authorized “stakeholders” who want data without having to ask parents.

 

If this is important to you, write to our schools, local and state school boards, and our governor. Public comment has been invited by the Wasatch school board for a 30-day policy review that will end at the board’s meeting June 14th.

 

 

Christel Swasey

On Religious Freedom – from LDS Newsroom May 2012   Leave a comment

Reposted from the LDS Newsroom:  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/religious-freedom

 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the importance of defending and preserving religious freedom throughout the world. The following is a six-part series of commentaries exploring the Church’s position on Religious Freedom:

Part 1: An Introduction to Religious Freedom

Part 2: What Religious Freedom Means: Religious freedom is a fundamental freedom that runs deeper and reaches farther than many realize.

Part 3: Why We Need Religious Freedom: Religious freedom, or freedom of conscience, is critical to the health of a diverse society.

Part 4: Why Religious Freedom Matters to Mormons: Religious freedom is both a lesson of Mormons’ history and a principle of their faith.

Part 5: How Religion is Vital to Society: Religion is essential to a vibrant, democratic society.

Part 6: What Religious Freedom Requires of Us: Religious Freedom Is as Much a Duty toward Others as It Is a Right for Oneself.

 

Listed below are significant speeches given by Church leaders that also address the Church’s position on religious freedom:

“The Restoration of Morality and Religious Freedom” Elder Quentin L. Cook 16 December 2011 Brigham Young University-Idaho Full text of speech News release

“Truth and Tolerance” Elder Dallin H. Oaks BYU Marriott Center 11 September 2011 Full text of speech News release

Preserving Religious Freedom Elder Dallin H. Oaks Chapman University School of Law 4 February 2011 Full text of speech News release

“Fundamentals of Our Constitution” Elder Dallin H. Oaks Tabernacle in Salt Lake City 17 September 2010 Full text of speech News release

“We Are All Enlisted” Elder Russell M. Nelson To the Young Adults of the Boston and Hingham Stakes 10 June 2010 Excerpts from speech

“The Threatened Demise of Religion in the Public Square” Elder Lance B. Wickman J. Reuben Clark Law Society 11 February 2010 Full text of speech

“Religious Freedom” Elder Dallin H. Oaks Brigham Young University-Idaho 13 October 2009 Full text of speech News release

 

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of the Catholic Church also addressed the subject of religious freedom during a speech at Brigham Young University:

Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom Cardinal Francis George Brigham Young University 23 February 2010 Full text of speech (.pdf file) News release

In Heber Today: Chaffetz, Love, Ivory, Reyes, Swallow, Osmond and more   Leave a comment

Highlights

  of the political education event

 hosted by Rocky Mt. Conservatives at Wasatch High School in Heber City today  (only 2 hours of the all-day event)

The first speaker: Senator Jason Chaffetz on the state of Washington, D.C:

“It’s a mess; it’s an absolute disaster,” Chaffetz said about D.C., explaining that no mess is of more importance to him than the current national debt which is spinning more out of control every day.

“Most Americans have no idea the their President has no plan,” he said, referring to President Obama’s budget submission, which was defeated 99-0.  Not even one Democrat would vote for the latest Obama budget, which included trillions in tax increases.  It was defeated 414-O in the House of Representatives, too.

Of every single dollar spent by anyone, every day in America, Chaffetz said, 24 cents of that dollar are spent by the federal government alone.

He also cited “The Fast and the Furious” as a major concern.  The federal government has willingly supplied 2,000 weapons to known drug cartels, said Chaffetz, and the Department of Justice has not complied with a subpoena which would hold them accountable for the outrage.  Chaffetz said that except for Fox news, ABC and the LA Times, the national media has completely ignored the story, probably out of campaign allegiance to President Obama.  So here are those rare links:

http://video.foxnews.com/v/1612907370001/wh-hiding-fast-and-furious-facts-from-the-public

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/02/mexico-arrests-fast-and-furious-gun-smuggler.html#comments

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/ag-under-fire-over-fast-and-furious-when-did-he-know-about-program/

Sean Reyes and John Swallow debate

Sean Reyes and John Swallow, both campaigning for the job of Utah Attorney General, were given the opportunity to write questions for each other to answer.  http://www.seanreyes.com/   http://www.johnswallow.com/

Swallow said that the “spirit of full disclosure and transparency is missing a lot in this state,” and pledged to continue his fight for property rights and for the 2nd amendement, and to fight against illegal immigration, against federal theft of state public lands, and against Obama’s health care plan.

Reyes said that government encroachment is more than just the federal government pushing the legal boundaries of what they can do to states.  It’s also state governments doing the same thing to municipalities and citizens.  I had to applaud when he said that. Lots of people talk about liberty and standing up to federal encroachments, but how many actually get it and take real action and fight those who are literally opposing the principles of liberty with their actions?  Joseph Smith considered himself  “the greatest advocate of the Constitution.”  He said, “I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth. In my feelings I am always ready to die for the protection of the weak and oppressed in their just rights.”  Amen.  But back to the topic of Heber’s debate today:

Swallow and Reyes did attack each other’s leadership records and each got a little hot under the collar for awhile, but overall, they both did very well in the debate and both seemed to stand for the same important things:  limited government, parental choice, civil liberties, and property rights.  Swallow’s strength seems to be his history of fighting illegal immigration and Obamacare, and his endorsement by the NRA and Mike Lee.  Reyes’ strength seems to lie in his passionate, active plan to use strong “declaratory judgment action against the federal government” for lying to and misleading the states concerning federal lands that belong to Utah.

Entertainment by Nathan Osmond:  “It’s An Honor to be Fighting for the Stars and Stripes”

Nathan Osmond provided an entertainment highlight with a brand new song never before performed for an audience, a powerful song about American soldiers’ sacrifices.

Mia Love:  Running for Senate Against Jim Matheson

Mia Love said, “The Democratic party is frightened and they definitely should be.” She said that she recently had the opportunity to walk over to Jim Matheson to shake his hand and to introduce herself.  He wouldn’t shake hands.  He held up both hands so she could not shake his hand.  She said that Matheson announced in April he will support Obama.  She also said that the Democratic party acts like it is concerned about the war on women, but it’s just an act.

She said, to applause and cheers, that we will put America back on its feet again.  She said, “We need limited government that supports in and believes in the American dream.”

Trevor  Louden:  American Freedom Affects the World   http://www.trevorloudon.com/

New Zealand author and researcher Trevor Louden gave a speech about the dangers of Obama’s slashing military power in America.  He said we can weather an economic depression better than we can weather the loss of our military strength.  He said American miltary power affects many countries outside this one; if the U.S. Navy stops patrolling the South Pacific, for example, his own country will become a Chinese colony.  He outlined the history of the communist mentors of Obama and his communist network that stemmed from a 1940s Chicago group that, among other things, had villified Barry Goldwater and other freedom lovers to the point they could not be elected any longer.

He said that President Obama poses a big danger to the United States and that this is a historic moment.  Grandchildren will give speeches someday, he said, about this audience, their grandparents or parents, who were leaders in the tea party movement that saved American freedom.

He said that America is a shining example for freedom lovers all over this planet.  In his strong New Zealand accent, he concluded: “Thank you for what you are doing. We’re rooting for you all over the globe.  Thank you and God bless America.”  Louden’s speech ended in a standing ovation.

Representative Ken Ivory on State Lands Held by Federal Government:

Ken Ivory spoke about the federal lands that are being held illegally by the federal government.  He said that long ago, at statehood, the federal government promised each state that it would transfer title for all public lands within the states. The U.S. Supreme Court has called these promises “solemn compacts,” “bilateral (two-way) agreements,” and “solemn trusts” that must be performed “in a timely fashion.”  But for some reason, just the western states are still waiting for the federal government to keep its promise.   http://www.arewenotastate.com/  He also invited the audience to come to Tombstone, Arizona, on June 8th and 9th with shovels to help that town reclaim control of its water rights which the federal government has intruded upon with a law forbidding mechanized tools.

After Ivory’s speech, he told a handful of us who were speaking with him in the hall, that he was behind a bill that never made it to a vote (but should) that said Utah would not be allowed to impose federal directives about education (such as the assessments of the Common Core Initiative) before approving them with the legislature’s education committee.  He said that if the claims are correct that there’s no federal involvement in educational reforms like Common Core, then marvelous; let’s make it sure.  Keep it that way.

States Must Return Federal SLDS Funds or Lose Privacy Rights – Analysis by Jenni White   Leave a comment

Full text:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/94149078/An-Analysis-of-Recent-Education-Reforms-and-the-Resulting-Impact-on-Student-Privacy

AN ANALYSIS OF RECENT EDUCATION REFORMS AND THE RESULTING IMPACT ON STUDENT PRIVACY

This 15-page paper explains a lot.  The authors conclude by recommending that individual states reclaim control in these ways:
 
 
  • Return accepted SLDS or P20 grants to federal authorities. 
  • Rescind state authority for P20 or SLDS councils and dissolve these organizations. 
  • Return autonomy of reporting K-12 student data to local districts. 
  • Individual district schools should collect no personally identifiable information from students beyond that considered to be basic contact data (name, address, age, telephone number, parental/guardian contact information). 
  • In order to provide accountability for school performance to taxpayers, individual schools should report disaggregated test score data to the district without associated personal identifiers of any kind. 
  • Each district may analyze disaggregated data as desired (and as necessary to comply with state law) and return only analyses to the state department of education for statewide examination and dissemination. 

To see a video by the same author on the same subject:  http://youtu.be/z1pwUSlqerg

Nanny Us: Feds Combining Socialized HealthCare and Nationalized Education Inside Schools   Leave a comment

THIS IS A GUEST POST FROM SUSIE SCHELL:

 ObamaCare Coming to a School Near You

Two news stories caught my eye this week because they both deal with the federal takeover of Education and Health Care within our nation’s schools. The first is about Health Clinics on school campuses, and I’m not talking about supplying Band-aids. The second is about the federal food police fining our local schools thousands of dollars, thereby penalizing innocent children in the name of health and education.

ObamaCare Coming to a School Near You

Obama Pours Millions into Building and Renovating Healthcare Centers on School Campuses

Last Wednesday $75 million in taxpayer money became available to build and renovate health clinics inside schools. This is part of the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act which appropriates $200 million for theSchool-Based Health Center Capital Program. The recommendations “envision a greater federal role in make[sic] health part of the academic curriculum.”

According to the CNS News article, “Wellness is not relegated to an occasional health lesson orphysical education class—it is part of math, science, lunch and everything inbetween. It means providing teachers with professional development related to children’s physical and emotional development, and integrating health into every subject, reward system and classroom management strategy.”

“[T]hese recommendations represent a major culture shift in how the nation views health – health will no longer be separated from education, transportation, housing and other clearly connected policies,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health.

Health Data Collected “Schools (will) track health and wellness data, which would be used to make “data-driven decisions” about how health and wellness impact student learning.” With new FERPA changes urging schools to share personally identifiable, biometric and psychometric data with state, federal and private organizations (without parental permission),adding health clinics to schools makes additional private records accessible tooutside interests. The Obama Administration’s goal is to track all childrenand their personal records from Pre-K to age 20 and into the work force. Information from schools and these on-campus health clinics go directly to the US Dept of Ed and US Dept of Health and Human Services, not to mention research firms.

What Kinds of Services? School Based Health Centers usuallyinclude immunizations, well-child exams ,acute care, chronic disease care, dental services, mental health care,substance abuse treatment and reproductive/sexual health services. Many ofthese services are provided without parental knowledge and are easilyaccessible to children and teenagers.

Could it happen here? It already has. Several clinics have been built in Utahin the last few years. Canyon Heights School Based Health Center is located between a college, a high school and a Jr. High in Davis School District and includes mental health services and family planning.

What’s the Big Picture? In this shocking  video, US Dept of Education’s Arne Duncan outlines the Administration’s goal of 21st Century Education and how School-based Health Care Centers are a part of that vision of 12 houra day/12 month full-service community schools where children are schooled, fed, and all of their social, physical, mental and health needs are met. No need for parenting!

What does this have to do with Common Core? First the Obama Administration pushed through unconstitutional ObamaCare, nationalized health care. Then in an unprecedented executive branch takeover, they nationalized education through Common Core and got states to sign on to get out of the NCLB disaster. (Hmm. First, create anational crisis and then ‘fix’ it with more federal control, all paid for b your tax dollars.) By building School Based Health Care Centers, the Federal Govt. has combined nationalized healthcare with nationalized education, removed more parental rights, and now has access to even more personal data from Pre-K through workforce.

How are local communities affected when nationalized Health and Education decisions are combined and dictated from the top?

Two Utah High Schools Fined $16,000 and $19,000 for Not Unplugging Vending Machines During Lunch. Two years ago Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, creating federal food police at our local schools. This week, two Utah high schools have been fined $16,000 and $19,000. What were their crimes? During their lunch hour, someone accidentally forgot to unplug the soda vending machines for 47 min. Now the students are the ones being punished becausethousands of dollars will have to be taken out of their arts and music programs.

You tell me how federal control creates better education or better health.

We need to fight for local control and to cut federal intrusion into ourlocal schools.

Susie Schnell

http://UtahnsAgainstCommonCore.com

CNN Video Clip and Parent Letter to Schools: On the Invasion of Privacy   Leave a comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1pwUSlqerg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This important video begins with a CNN clip describing the Dept. of Education’s recent steps that make it easier for federal forces to see massive amounts of personal information.

Then the video moves to an Oklahoma Educational group’s conference that explains what P-20 means (preschool to age 20) and why states have P-20 councils and workforces to track every person.  (Yes, it’s here in Utah.)

Before the era of nationalized education under Common Core, states (not the federal government) just collected aggregated (not individualized, kid-specific) academic information for schools.

But now the federal government is pushing to make it legal for the feds to access schools’ information about absolutely everythingacademics, health, mental health, school bullying statistics, where kids live, how much money their parents have, where they live, where they were born, how many absences they have had from school, how much they weigh, what time they get on the bus.  (Don’t believe it?  Look up “National Data Collection Model” online.)

Also, see the federal Family Policy Compliance Office website: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/index.html which openly admits: “The changes to the FERPA  regulations will have the important effect of improving access to data.”  Indeed!

A huge fat lie from that same site: “The Department values this trust and strives  to do all it can to protect the privacy of student information.”

The government does not want to have to go to the trouble to get parental consent before accessing student and family information.  (This is why FERPA laws are being abused by the U.S. Dept of Education –the feds changed FERPA regulations in January 2012 without getting permission from Congress– and this is why Common Core requires states to “address barriers in state law”).

Because of these and other facts, I gave my school a letter today.  I’ll paste it here: Feel free to use this to protect your own kids and family from this invasion in your own school.  I hope it works.

May 18, 2012

Dear Wasatch High School and District,

My daughter, _____________________, is taking the A.P. Geography test today, and I give permission for the school to release her test scores –to A.P. only.

I do not give permission for my daughter’s academic or nonacademic information to ever be released to any group,  entity or stakeholder outside Wasatch school district without my written consent.  This applies to the whole duration of her high school career.

Christel Lane Swasey

How Does Common Core Dumb Down Math?   8 comments

When my 9th grader told me she wasn’t learning anything in math this year, I didn’t understand why.  I didn’t have enough information to even begin asking administrators or teachers why.  But when the school year was almost over, because of a friend, I  found out what “Common Core” education was and I started to research  it for myself.   And then I got it– like a kick in the head.

After you read the detailed review of the math standards (below, by mathematician Ze’ev Wurman) you’ll understand, too.

Before Common Core came to our town, teachers used to teach Algebra I in 8th grade.  That’s when my daughter learned Algebra I: last yearNow Common Core has come, claiming to provide rigor and to raise standards while placing Algebra I in 9th grade; she’s learned nothing.  A wasted year.  A review year.  

How I wish I had somehow known earlier.

Our school district website and the Utah State Office of Education’s website continues to post and promote the claims of increased rigor boasted by Common Core Standaristas.

They must surely know this is worse, not better, math:  why else are they working so hard to add honors classes and extra advanced math that make up for the deficiencies of Common Core?  My 9th grader is currently enrolled in an extra before-school math class now, in addition to her regular 9th grade Common Core math class.  Parents each had to pay $20 tuition for this extra class.

I am grateful the extra math class exists.  But why hasn’t Wasatch School District, by now, removed the now obviously false claims of Common Core’s high standards and “rigor” from their websites?   Excuse me while I scream into a pillow and pull out a handful of hair. 

Okay.  I’m back.

 How Common Core math dumbs down math:  mathematician # 1:  Ze’ev Wurman

Ze’ev Wurman is a great mathematician who served as Senior Policy Adviser in the U.S. Department of Education 2007-2009 and served on the California Standards Commission that evaluated Common Core math standards for that state.  

Wurman reviewed the Common Core Standards in math and stated: “they fail to achieve their stated goal of improving U.S. K-12 mathematic achievement.” 

Ze’ev Wurman also set forth this description of major deficiences of Common Core in math:

1. Its abandonment of the expectation that students take Algebra I in grade 8. This expectation, based on the standard of the high-achieving countries (and our international competitors), has currently pushed about half of American students to take Algebra I by grade 8, more than double that of a decade ago. The Common Core will reverse this trend by firmly relocating Algebra I back to a grade 9 high-school course. This change means that, as a practical matter, the great majority of American students will not be able to reach calculus in high school. Among other consequences, far fewer students will be able to take and excel in Advanced Placement (AP) math courses if the Common Core is implemented.

2. Related to the above-deficiency, a course of study aligned with the Common Core would provide students with poor preparation for taking Algebra in grade 8. Only private and elite schools will continue to provide sufficient preparation and, consequently, one should expect the proportion of students from challenging backgrounds taking Algebra by grade 8, or advanced mathematics in high school, to drop precipitously.

3. Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used in any sizable system; in fact, it failed even in the school for gifted and talented students in Moscow, where it was originally invented. Yet Common Core effectively imposes this experimental approach on the entire country, without any piloting.

4. Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college (see point 9 below). This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

5. Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.

6. Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Research Council, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the presidential National Advisory Mathematics Panel.

7. Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra,” which does not prepare students for STEM careers.

8. More specifically, at the K-8 grade span:

8.1 Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

8.2 Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

8.3 Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

8.4 Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.

8.5 Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.

9. At the high school grades:

9.1 Common Core barely touches on logarithms, of great importance for chemistry, physics, and STEM in general.

9.2 Common Core fails to address mathematical induction.

9.3 Common Core fails to address parametric equations, and infinite geometric series (progressions with common ratio), and incompletely addresses conic sections.

9.4 Common Core omits in trigonometry the phase of periodic functions, half-angle formulas, and polar forms and functions.

Common Core suffers from a number of systemic defects. It groups mathematics standards into “conceptual categories,” which provide a vague structure for high school courses and makes for difficult use by teachers and textbook publishers. It provides verbose and imprecise guidance as to the level of fluency needed, omits basic skills such as factorization (reducing problems to the basic “building blocks” of the equation), and deemphasizes algebraic manipulation, leading to under-preparation for STEM disciplines. In terms of college readiness, its content is far below what is presently expected for college eligibility, which will create unreasonable expectations by parents and pressure on state universities to admit under-prepared students, with concomitant growth in remedial enrollment in college.

In this statement, I have endeavored to set forth a concise list of deficiencies in the Common Core math standards. Certainly, the issue requires more detailed discussion, and in that respect I draw your attention to the following study: Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman, Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade, Pioneer Institute, No. 65 (July 2010).  http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

-Ze’ev Wurman

How Common Core math dumbs down math:  mathematician # 2:

  Professor James Milgram of Stanford University

Mathematics Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University was the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee. 

He concluded that the mathematics standards would put students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries, such as those in East Asia. Like Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Milgram refused to sign off on the adequacy of the Common Core standardsMilgram identified several specific problems with the math standards; a significant concern was that Common Core places algebra I in grade 9 rather than grade 8. This means that the large majority of students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by good 4-year colleges.

Professor Milgram concluded that the Standards simply do not qualify as “comparable to the expectations of other leading nations.”

“In most high-performing countries, calculus is a high school graduation requirement. It’s almost a joke to think students [who master the common standards] would be ready for math at a university.” Professor Milgram added that at Stanford University calculus is “considered remedial.”

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf

How Common Core math dumbs down math:  mathematician # 3:

Professor Johnathan Goodman of New York University

Professor Jonathan Goodman of New York University criticized Common Core’s significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries.”

How Common Core math dumbs down math:  mathematician # 4:

Professor Andrew Porter, Dean of University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Professor Andrew Porter, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, found “surprising” results about the lack of international competitiveness of both the ELA and the math standards.

How Common Core math dumbs down math:  mathematician # 5: 

Professor Michael W. Kirst, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University:

“My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented…

http://youtu.be/8n2tbCk4rUA  This link goes to Nikki Hayes’ YouTube math history videos.  She wrote the biography of math warrior John Saxon.

You Are SO Not Alone in Thinking Common Core is Ridiculous   Leave a comment

Organizations  and People Against Common Core:

Heritage Foundation

CATO Institute

Pioneer Institute

Utah Eagle Forum

Joyce & Dick Kinmont Family

LDS Home Educators Assn.

American Leadership Fund

Standard of Liberty

Proper Role of Government

United Women’s Forum

Principled Liberty Foundation

Citizens for Strong Families

Freedom for Utah Education

Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Studies

Senator Michael Fair of South Carolina

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina

Governor Rick Perry of Texas

Commissioner of Education Robert Scott of Texas

Alabama Federation of Republican Women

Utah citizens

 – over 1,700 Utah citizens, including many teachers like me, so far, have signed the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

A growing number of people are learning what Common Core does to education, to freedom, and to parental authority.  We are fighting to get the Common Core Initiative out of our schools and state.

It’s helpful to know that we are not alone in this.

Thinktanks and reporters nationwide are writing a ton about Common Core and its impacts.  Politicians are scrambling to make bills to protect states.  More and more teachers and parents are talking and writing about it, nationwide.  Last time I checked, the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com  had close to 1700 signatures, gathered via word of mouth in one month, and about 100 of the signatures are by teachers, including me.

Texas rejected Common Core.  So did Virginia.  Alabama  and South Carolina are  fighting  hard to get out right now. Other states have rejected as much as they can of the initiative.

Let’s free Utah!

Some people have told me they get overwhelmed with the Common Core fight and feel like giving up.  They say the “Progressives” will just come along with another educational takeover if we get free of Common Core and NCLB.  I think Common Core is different; it’s got so many angles that it’s like cement and there will not be another one coming.  We have to get rid of this one.

We all get depressed about this stuff.  But we have to turn that energy out and do something with it.  I am never depressed about it when I am working hard.  It’s when I feel helpless and do nothing that I want to curl up in a ball!  I think we have to encourage each other a lot.  The lady, Jenni White, who wrote that incredible paper and made the video about P-20 (Restoring Oklahoma Public Education) was so happy when I simply thanked her for her paper.  She said they get abused by their OK legislators and the press constantly, and it’s so nice just to have someone say thank you for your work that you are doing for free (and for freedom.)

There’s a communications theory called “Spiral of Silence” that Neumann came up with watching what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 40s.  http://masscommtheory.com/category/theory/spiral-of-silence/     http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0767430344/student_view0/chapter24/

People who perceive that they were in the minority, even if they really are not,  generally shut up.  People who perceive that they are in the majority, even if they are not, feel free to talk.  It is self-perpetuating.

I think that is why it is so huge when one of us speaks, writes, or gives out educational material (real and referenced material, not like the Arne Duncan letters or USOE propaganda that never has legal references).  Even when we thank each other,  I really think it’s a key to winning these battles for our God-given rights of parental authority, and local freedom to determine the educational standards for our kids.

Educating ourselves, our school boards and our Governor about the whole truth about Common Core, is key.

So, here’s a nationwide collection of expert testimonies, legal documents, school board reasoning, news articles, research papers, laws, official government letters, teachers’ blogs, thinktanks’ and other reading materials I’ve found interesting as I’ve just begun studying the Common Core Initiative over the last two months.

Enjoy!

http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/national-standards-wont-help-wont-work/2011/09/01/gIQAzfpD2J_story.html

http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

http://youtu.be/Mk0D16mNbp4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cgnprQg_O0

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/05/15/alabama-opposes-national-education-standards/

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/judge-norman-jackson-the-two-schools-of-thought-of-citizens-versus-the-utah-state-office-of-education/

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf

http://educationnext.org/the-common-core-math-standards/

http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/tag/kent-talbert

http://blog.heritage.org/tag/common-core/

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/sc-gov-nikki-haley-backs-bill-to-block-common-core-standards/

http://soitgoesinshreveport.blogspot.com/2012/05/alabama-has-second-thoughts-about.html

http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100520_emperors_new_clothes.pdf

http://www.kdp.org/publications/pdf/record/winter11/RW11_Tienken.pdf

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/state-costs-for-adopting-and-implementing-the-common-core-state-standards/

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2012/02/haley-supports-blocking-common-core-standards/

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/

http://blog.coreknowledge.org/tag/zeev-wurman/

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/08/3845

http://www.utahsrepublic.org/proof-utah-is-on-the-hook-with-sbac/

http://commoncorefacts.blogspot.com/

http://www.themoralliberal.com/2012/02/11/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states/

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/

http://www.keepeducationlocal.com/

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/08/robert-scott-fi.html

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/information/aboutThe.aspx

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/how_the_feds_are_tracking_your_kid_xC6wecT8ZidCAzfqegB6hL

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/uncategorized/arne-duncan-loses-temper-deviates-backroom-strategy/

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/english/sol_ccss_comparison_english.pdf

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/uncategorized/jay-matthews-joins-growing-anti-common-core-crusade-2/

http://mommylawyers.blogspot.com/

http://www.freedomadvocates.org/articles/education_transformation/subverting_the_constitution_in_high_school_20040910109/

https://www.freedomadvocates.org/articles/police_state/real_id%3a_connecting_the_dots_to_an_international_id_20081020327/

http://zhaolearning.com/2011/07/17/ditch-testing-part-5-testing-has-not-improved-education-despite-all-the-costs/

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

http://dailycensored.com/2011/10/18/the-crocodile-in-the-common-core-standards/

http://livingbehindthegates.wordpress.com/category/common-core-curriculum/

http://educationnext.org/the-battle-over-common-core-math-standards-will-a-larger-federal-role-help-or-hinder-curriculum-improvement/

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm

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

http://www.forumfyi.org/files/DQCbrief_Mar19_FINAL.pdf

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/ferpa/index.html

http://shark-tank.net/2012/01/06/rubio-calls-out-obamas-fiscal-recklessness/

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1221

http://constitutionus.com/

New Publication: Controlling Education From the Top   2 comments

New Publication from Pioneer: Controlling Education From the Top.  So well written and referenced.  Get our educational freedoms back!

Governor Herbert: Please Do Not Re-Appoint Leslie Castle to Utah’s State School Board   5 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

As you are in the process of selecting some members of the State School Board, I ask that you do not select Leslie Castle for another term, based on two things:

1.  She does not know what the U.S. Constitution is about, nor does she value freedom for Utah. She fails to stand up against federal encroachments in Utah’s educational system.

2. She has behaved  dishonestly and rudely in her position as school board member toward a teacher –me– who spoke out against Common Core.

Evidence for #1:

On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Leslie Castle wrote:

I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality… Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…  your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards…

 On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM, Christel S <212christel@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Leslie,

The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.

If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term.  Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and  establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over.  It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational  and other matters.

A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.

… “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution.  The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core)…

Equality can never be mandated…  Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.

…I am not “campaigning for ideology over standards.”  I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change.  It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.”  Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.

The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted.  Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.

In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative.  We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.

I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as campaigning for idealogy.  I want tangible answers.  I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that.  I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah.  Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it.  I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone.  I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.

That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.

Christel

Evidence for #2 that Leslie Castle has been rude and unprofessional:

When Leslie Castle received the 4-page, well-referenced rebuttal I had written to the State Office of Education’s “fact v. fiction” flier about Common Core, http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2012/04/  Ms. Castle did not defend the flier nor answer any question I’d raised about that flier being unreferenced or misleading.

Instead, she began a personal attack.  She said that I was not to be believed because I was lying about being a teacher.   I asked her to check my references but she did not.  She spread her lie about me to the whole school board.  (see below)  She received multiple letters from other people who were teachers where I taught, or parents of a student I’d taught, to rebut her lies.  She never apologized for her errors or tried to clean up the damage.  The board never reprimanded her in any way.

I will paste one of her emails here; I’m willing to share them all, if anyone wants to read them.

Ms. Castle wrote this to the board and to me:

“…you have been deceptive, because you were caught and because you remain deceptive in this email. You create diversions to mislead others from the truth, as demonstrated by the misleading about your “teaching” experience. You ask me if it matters if you were nothing but a mom. I would ask you the same question. You tell me. If it doesn’t matter, why would you inflate your credentials? Why would you represent yourself as being a “teacher” at Odyssey when in fact, you weren’t? Why would you represent yourself as having “taught” at Odyssey for a year, when in fact, you did not. Nor at Renaissance Academy. You distract from the truth by telling me to call this person or that person to ask if you were the “best” teacher.  But really Christel, isn’t it all about hiding the fact that you fibbed about yourself and what your “credentials” were. I don’t think anyone has to be a teacher to be a credible voice in this discussion but I don’t think a person can be openly, continually deceptive and expect to be taken seriously. To make matters even more shameful, you have pounded the State Board and USOE about OUR motives and credentials, all the while pretending and posturing self-righteously in front of audiences and in flurries of emails copied to everyone you think would listen.

In reality, you are the one who is to be mistrusted and doubted. You are the one who is committing mischief and ill-will. You are the one who is self-serving and silly. And, you have the audacity to accuse me or anyone else at USOE or USBE of being less than helpful and constructive. You remain arrogant even in your humiliation.

Shame on you. I would suggest you find another target for your unjustified hostility and shenanigans and stop wasting everyone’s time with your pretext. Notice I have copied this to the State Board and some of the USOE.   Leslie Brooks Castle “

TEACHER AND PARENT DEFENSE OF CHRISTEL SWASEY:

Date: Sun, May 6, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER!!!

My name is Audra Call (formerly Audra Adams) and I have worked at Odyssey as a teacher since it began.  Christel Swasey, otherwise known as Christel Lane taught 3rd grade with me at Odyssey Charter School.  The former principal Nyman Brooks, Nikki Carpenter, Brooke Garrett, and Robyn Merill (who is now at Odyssey) can all verify this fact.

I am very disappointed and quite honestly furious about the way Christel Lane Swasey has been treated by Leslie Castle and others at USOE.  Remember the Bill of Rights guarantees free speech.  Whether or not people agree with Christel, all should be professional and respectful towards her as she is towards others.

 I am so grateful to Christel for the research and her insurmountable sacrifice of time that she has spent in educating teachers and parents about the realities of the Common Core initiative. 

I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until I began reading the research myself.  My freedom of choice is of the greatest importance and will always be.  I will always be against anything that is unconstitutional and that which takes our rights and freedoms away. 

Our founding fathers would be ashamed right now if they were still alive to see what was happening.  I hope Leslie Castle gets a severe reprimand for her demeaning words and lies.

Thank you,

Audra Call

From: Karin J

Date: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER

My name is  Karin Jaccard.  My children attended Odyssey Charter School for five years.  One of my sons had Christel Lane as his third grade teacher. Yes, Christel IS a teacher, and a good one.  Since then she remarried, and is now Christel Lane Swasey.

I find it disturbing that members of the STATE school board degrade themselves to such low tactics as trying to defame the reputation of a concerned teacher and citizen.  (When you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger?)  Ironically, her careful study, logical conclusions, and clear warning message would be no less valid, were she not a teacher.

I believe Utah is at a critical point in it’s history.  Ironically, as elected members of the school board, you have the power to free or enslave the citizens and children ( future citizens)  of our state.   Will you bend to powerful pressure? Will you value the skin you have in the game over the freedom and privacy of those you serve? I hope not.

I hope you find the mental strength to plow through all the information your are presented with.  I hope you have the clarity of mind to understand the principles, values and freedoms that are at stake.  I pray you have the courage to make correct decisions, regardless of personal consequences.

Sincerely,

Karin Jaccard

Governor, as far as I know, none of these letters were answered by any member of the school board.   I do not want to fight publicly with Leslie Castle. I feel this little drama takes away from the real issue, which is that federal encroachments have totally taken over Utah’s educational system and freedom, in the guise of raising standards under the Common Core Initiative.   Yet I feel I must direct attention to Leslie Castle’s emails because it is now time to make important changes in the state school board membership.

Thank you for your consideration  and time.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

Common Core Requires Governors to “Address Barriers in State Law” and to frame Common Core so that people accept it   Leave a comment

Common Core Requires Governors to “Address Barriers in State Law” and to frame Common Core so that people accept it.

Deseret News: Parents and Teachers Should Oppose Common Core – letter to editor   Leave a comment

Deseret News: Parents and Teachers Should Oppose Common Core – letter to editor.

Gordon B. Hinckley’s Prayer for Freedom   Leave a comment

This prayer was given in 1997 at the Freedom Festival, by Gordon B. Hinckley.  Today, I am saying this prayer with reference to the Common Core Initiative, which is taking over American education and has taken away the liberty of our state and has blinded so many along the way that I believe now only a miracle from God will make the truth clear.  I hope others will pray with me for increased freedom and for an end to this federally controlled movement which poses as a blessing to education.

Oh God, our Eternal Father, thou who presides over the nations and their people, we come unto thee in prayer. We thank thee for this great and sovereign nation of which we are citizens. Touch the minds of those of our Congress that they shall stand tall and independent in defense of the liberty of the people. Bless the chief executive. He is our president. Let thy spirit move upon him to bring to pass those measures which will lift the burdens of government from the backs of the people and keep this nation under God, a citadel of freedom standing as an example to all the world. Bless the Supreme Court of the United States which in recent days has declared unconstitutional a measure designed to secure the religious liberty of the people of this nation. May a way be found under thy divine inspiration to bring to pass another measure which will be sustained by the court. May thy peace rest upon this nation. May we as a people look to thee and live. May the benevolent hand of the almighty protect us from the evil forces of the world. May humanism and secularism bend to an increased knowledge of these our Father and our God. May a spirit of brotherhood spread throughout the land. As we pray to thee, we do so in our manner and respect the prayers of others who speak after their manner. That thou wilt hear us all as we lift our voices in behalf of our beloved nation. Almighty Father, hear us, guide us, protect us, make us both strong and benevolent before the world. Forgive our erring ways. May we turn back to thee in our search for wisdom, for guidance, for direction, we humbly ask in Jesus’ sacred name, Amen.

(Source: Freedom Festival, BYU Marriott Center, Provo, Utah 1997)

What is Common Core? Top 10 Things To Study   1 comment

What is the Common Core?

Rather than simply tell you what I think it is, I will show two schools of thought and have you make your own determination about what Common Core is.

If you read the definition set out by the Utah State Office of Education or your local school district, you’ll think Common Core is an educational improvement that raises educational standards; that increases students’ college entrance preparation; that Common Core in no way adds to taxpayer burdens,  and that it in no way damages state sovereignty.  If you read the criticisms of Common Core, you will wonder why the Utah State Office of Education is lying to teachers, parents and citizens about all of the above.

For those just starting to research Common Core for themselves, here are 10 things you could begin to analyze:

1.  Which version of Arne Duncan’s truth about control over Utah’s education should be believed?  Duncan says one thing in the “Cooperative Agreement,” which is an agreement between himself (as U.S. Secretary of Education) and the SBAC (Utah’s educational testing consortium).  He says something completely opposite  that, in his public letter which he sent to Utah’s Superintendent Shumway, which asserts that Utah maintains full control of her own educational decisions.

Compare for yourself. Here’s the “Cooperative Agreement.”  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf   This document shows the federal government’s micromanagement plans for the SBAC Common Core tests and the data collection that it will triangulate and synchronize.  Tests and data from the other testing consortium (PARCC) will match that of the SBAC, and all data will be served up on an ongoing basis to the Federal Department of Education.  Compare this to the public letters between Arne Duncan and Utah’s Governor and School Superintendent. http://utahpubliceducation.org/2012/03/06/letters-to-utah-lawmakers-secretary-duncan-on-utahs-core-standards/  and http://utahpubliceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Secretary-Arne-Duncan-March-7-2012-Letter_edited-1.jpg  These letters say that Utah education is free from federal controls.

2.  Who is to be believed, the 15-member State School Board and the State Superintendent, or Utah teachers and parents who oppose Common Core?   Compare the USOE’s flier about Common Core (fact v. fiction) which unfortunately has no references to back up its claims: http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/DOCS/coreStandardsPamphlet.aspx  with a Utah teacher’s referenced rebuttal of that flier: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/correcting-the-usoes-facts-education-without-representation/ .

3.  Which is to be believed:  members of the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the standards as being authentic preparation for college work, or Common Core proponents who claim common standards are high, “rigorous,”  “internationally benchmarked” and make kids “globally competititive”? 

Many educators have spoken out about the inadequacy of these supposedly “rigorous” standards:  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, validation committee member:  http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/  and http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

Dr. James Milgram, validation committee member and the only math professor on the committee, also refused to sign off on the standards’ adequacy:  http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/does-common-core-provide-an-international-benchmark/

Also, Stanford Professor Michael Kirst voiced concerns about the validity of using the term “College readiness” as Common Core advocates do:  http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466   In essence, Common Core redefines college readiness to mean “ready for a nonselective two year school” rather than having students aim for four year universities.

Mathematician Ze’Ev Wurman, a Senior Advisor (2007-2009) in the Department of Education, has also been outspoken about the low math standards: http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120216_Testimony_Stergios_SC.pdf

4. Compare GEPA law (General Educational Provisions Act) and our Constitution, to the “Cooperative Agreement” (above).

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system  – G.E.P.A. law

5.  Ask your school board to show you a cost analysis on Common Core implementation.  There isn’t one for Utah.  Common Core’s been signed up for without taxpayers or legislators having input.  But here’s one think-tank’s cost analysis that includes cost-related reasons Texas and Virginia refused to join Common Core:  http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf

6. Compare how we used to be able to change educational standards and could try new innovations prior to 2009, to how much we can innovate now, under Common Core.  Try to find any proof that Utah has a voice in amending Utah’s future educational standards.  The USOE claims we can change our Utah Core Standards, which is true, but only to add 15% beyond the CCSS national standards.   We can delete nothing. The CCSS standards cannot be altered in any way by Utah.  They’re copyrighted by trade associations, not owned by any political or educational authority.  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license  These can change later and will be handed to us like a law from outside Utah. Any principle might be called a standard and we’d have to teach it.  And the common test is based, 100%, on the CCSS standards, not on Utah’s unique extra 15%.  This is verified to me in writing by the test creator, WestEd.  http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/

This reminds me of getting chained to a refrigerator we didn’t stock themselves, and being told we’re free to eat anything that’s here, and we can order 15% more of whatever we like, but we can’t get away from this fridge, nor eat anywhere else— ever again.  Nice.

7. Compare parental consent laws under FERPA last year, to what they are today.  FERPA federal regulations were altered in January, without congressional approval.  FERPA laws are being altered in Utah school districts now, possibly to make way for Common Core’s rule that we must “address barriers in state law” that stand in the way of the federal data collection push.  The federal government doesn’t want to have to ask.  Yes, really.  Ask your local school board.  Here’s Wasatch County’s recent ruling: http://www.wasatch.edu/cms/lib/UT01000315/Centricity/Domain/5/FERPA%2004.19.12.pdf

8.  Study why a $9.6 million grant was given to Utah from the ARRA stimulus money to build a huge longitudinal database. This will collect data, both academic and non-academic data, about students and about families, via standardized tests taken in schools.  Data will be read by “all stakeholders” including the federal government.  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/utah.pdf

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/information/aboutThe.aspx   This link shows the massive intrusion via the types of information the “educational” database may collect and share with “all stakeholders”:  nicknames, bus stop times, family income, mother’s maiden name, parental educational level, health questions, and more– mostly information that has absolutely nothing to do with math and reading scores.  And preschoolers are included, now.  The USOE voted for that last week.  Data collection for the federal government now goes from preschool through adulthood and beyond.

9.  Study the timeline.  The way Utah adopted Common Core and SBAC looked like marrying without dating. Did you know that Utah signed up for Common Core  before the standards had even been written?  So much for rigor.  Did you know we signed up without doing a cost analysis, and educational analysis or a legal analysis?   http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions  Standards were released in 2010. We signed up in 2009. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/utah.pdf

10. Study the U.S. Constitution and compare it to the following quotes from State School Board Members and the USOE’s lawyer:   http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html  Do you see any references in the Constitution to equality being more important than liberty, or references to educational control by the federal government being legal?

Our state school board and the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education believe equality in education is more important than freedom over education.

Carol Lear, USOE top lawyer, was asked, “Why is there no amendment process for the CCSS standards?” She did not claim that there was any amendment process.  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)

Quote from Leslie Castle, top USSB member:  “I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality…not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…”

How Will Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage by U.S. Secretary of Education Affect Educational Standards in States Adopting Common Core?   1 comment

Arne Duncan, U. S. Sect. of Education, endorsed same-sex marriage, which is in direct violation of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law  passed by Congress.

What could the purpose be for a Secretary of Education making such an announcement, anyway?  He said Common Core was about reading and math scores. And didn’t he say Common Core was just about rigor in education and raising standards –and was not political?  Wait a minute!  Wait a minute!

So, what difference does it make that U. S. Sec. of Education Arne Duncan endorsed same-sex marriage?

Duncan is in charge of our nation’s public schools – millions of kids!  Because some 46 states have committed to teach public school students the Common Core Standards approved by Arne Duncan and Obama, it makes a huge  difference.  What ideas will be implemented into the CCSS standards and assessments?

Why, oh why, are we so naiive?  Why are we still connected to the Common Core Initiative?

 

Letter to the Editor   Leave a comment

Letter to the Editor.  Why Common Core is a wolf in educational sheep’s clothing.

Does Freedom Even Matter to the Utah State School Board? The Board versus a teacher –me.   Leave a comment

A voting member of the Utah State School Board wrote in an email to me this week that freedom was not as important as equality.  Stop.  Did you read that?  This is America. A top Utah educator, with power over education that not even our legislators hold, said this. Please read it again.

Here, read the entire thing:  This member of the elite, 15-member UTAH STATE SCHOOL BOARD wrote:

“I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution.

“Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality…  Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…

I understand perfectly that you might not agree with the tour guide’s script at the US Supreme Court but… your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards.”

 

So then I wrote back to the Utah State School Board member:

 

” I am not ‘campaigning for ideology over standards.’  I am campaigning for meaningful standards…   it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change.

“It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.”  Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence that the standards are good enough, are amendable, and allow for local control –before we move forward.

The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted.  Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.

In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative.  We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.

I want tangible answers.  I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that.  I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah.  Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it.  I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone.  I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.

That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label ‘ideology’.”

The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.

If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term.  Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and  establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over.  It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational  and other matters. 

A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.

For fun, I just did a quick word check.  “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution.  The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core).  The tour guide made that part up.

Equality can never be mandated.  The Communists tried it and look where it got them.  Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.

Christel

Judge Norman Jackson: The Two Schools of Thought of Citizens Versus the Utah State Office of Education   1 comment

Here is the full text of the memo Retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson wrote after he reviewed the legally binding documents that tie Utah to the Common Core Initiative.

For those who won’t read every word, here’s a summary.  There are 2 schools of thought:  1) The USOE says: Common Core is just a movement for common educational standards, and it’s no threat to state sovereignty nor to the budget.  2) Citizens –like me– say:  Common Core hijacks Utah’s freedoms: it robs parental authority over private student data, it forces Utah into a one-size-fits-all lockstep program Utah can not amend or add to; it bleeds the state educational budget that was already suffering, it allows the federal government to call the shots for the common test and to collect family and student non-academic data forevermore; and it deletes high standards in favor of common ones.

Guess who the judge sided with?  Not the Utah State Office of Education.  

 

MEMO: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
SUBJECT:   FEDERAL/STATE COMMON CORE EDUCATION INITIATIVES AND STANDARDS
FROM: JUDGE NORMAN H. JACKSON, UTAH COURT OF APPEALS, RETIRED.

Some concerned Utah parents recently asked me to evaluate the following contractual documents:

LEGAL ANALYSIS OF UTAH’S COMMON CORE STANDARDS CONTRACTS -

1. “Memorandum of Understanding/SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium/Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessment Systems Grant Application/CFDA Number: 84.395B.”

This contract is dated May 14, 2010. The State of Utah became a party to this contract when it was signed by Superintendent Shumway 05/20/10, School Board President Roberts 05/20/2010, Procurement Official Beers on 05/25/10 and Governor Herbert on 05/25/10. All participating states signed separate portions of the document consisting of about seventeen pages each.
The State of Washington signed a separate signature block as the member acting on behalf of ALL states joining the Consortium. Washington State officials signed the contract and certified as follows:

“I certify on behalf of the Consortium that each member of (it) has agreed to be BOUND by every statement and assurance in the application and that each Governing State is FULLY COMMITTED to the application and WILL SUPPORT its implementation”. Utah is #5 of 16 Governing States. (Page 12)

To be an eligible Consortium, at least 15 states must participate and at least 5 of them must be Governing States. Washington is designated as both a Governing State and the Lead Procurement State/Lead State for the Consortium. 30 states have signed the contract with 17 designated as Governing States. Utah is listed as one of the Governing States above.
Eligibility Requirement (3), Page 15: To remain in the Consortium, each applicant must submit an assurance that (1) by December 31, 2011, it WILL ADOPT a common set of college and career standards pursuant to NIA definitions and (2) by the 2014-2015 school year, it WILL ADOPT common achievement standards per NIA definitions. Note the mandatory language.

Utah’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) above is numbered pages “UT 1-17”.  It BINDS Utah to the PROGRAM published in the “Federal Register on April 9, 2010 (75 FR 18171-18185).  The stated purposes of the MOU are numbered (a) to (h). Purpose (f) prescribes how a state can enter, EXIT or change status. A state can leave the Consortium “without cause”. BUT IT MUST COMPLY with a FIVE STEP EXIT PROCESS: (1) File a written request and the reasons for it, (2) must include the statutory or policy reasons for it, (3) submit to Project Management Partner with same signatures as the MOU, (4) the Executive Committee is to act on it within a week, and (5) if APPROVED, the Project Management Partner will submit a change of membership to the United States Education Department for its APPROVAL. (Both Approvals are discretionary rather than mandatory.)

Based on the above plain language of this Contract (MOU), I am of the opinion that the State of Utah is legally bound by and locked into the Consortium on a contractual basis. Further, Utah would find it difficult to withdraw/exit (1) because there has been substantial performance of the contract by all parties (assuming there was compliance with past contractual deadlines) and (2) because the exit process requires discretionary APPROVAL of the Executive Committee of the State partners plus discretionary APPROVAL of the Federal Government. The following Contracts bind Utah to further Common Core Standard provisions.

2. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Governance Structure Document dated July 1, 2010, Amended November 22, 2011. The amendment was approved by vote of the Governing States on December 5, 2011 with 16 in favor and 0 opposed.
An official of the State of Utah must have approved this contract by an affirmative vote. I assume it was our State Superintendent.  In any event, the minutes of the State School Board Meeting held August 6, 2010, state that the Board officially voted to adopt the Common Core Standards. Moreover, “This document states that it “supersedes the specific GOVERNANCE structure provisions set forth in the MOU”.
Section IV, B sets forth the identical exit process above described.  It appears that Utah now can act by a VOTE to approve and amend these contracts rather than signing them.

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. (190 pages).
The objective of this document is “to assist the consortium in fulfilling, at a minimum, the goals articulated in the consortium’s approved Race to the Top Assessment (RTTA) application per requirements published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2010”. This award is a cooperative agreement in accord with 34 Code of Federal Regulations 75.200(b)(4) because the Secretary of Education has determined that substantial involvement between the U. S. Department of Education is necessary to carry out a successful project.
It contains a Project Management Plan listing the Responsibilities of the Recipient and the Federal Government. Patrick Rooney is designated as the Program Officer for the United States Department of Education and Joe Wilhoft is designated as the Program Representative for Washington State (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium). The estimated cost for the work to be performed under this Agreement 2is $159,976,843 and $15,872,696 for a supplemental award.

Article VI – Failure to Address Objectives states: “Failure to comply with the content of this agreement may result in the Secretary imposing special conditions on the award pursuant to EDGAR Section 80.12 or taking other enforcement actions, including partly suspending or terminating the award pursuant to EDGAR Section 80.43.

Appendix E lists fourteen Race to the Top Conditions including: Condition B requires compliance with sections 14005 and 14006 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Condition C requires compliance with “all applicable operational and administrative provisions in Titles XV and XVI of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Appendix A8 contains Budget Tables, Narratives and Detailed Budget Modules. Part A: Summary Table projects Budgets for four years for the following items:  1. Governance $10,435,922.  2. Assessment Design $97,950,884. 3. System Design $428,693. 4. Research and Evaluation $5,008,550.  5. Professional Capacity and Outreach $ 7,550,650.  6. Technology $27,074,143.  7. Higher Education Engagement $1,538,977. Total = $149,987,819.  $9,994,724 is then budgeted for three years of Comprehensive Assessments.
Appendix A8-7: Survey of Operational Costs for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium States itemizes “Estimated Annual Contracted Expenditures for Mathematics and ELA Assessment” divided between General Funds and Federal Funds:  The estimate for #27 Utah is $383,000 of General Funds and $1,595,000 of Federal Funds.

In my opinion, the plain language of the three contracts legally binds Utah and the Consortium to proceed with implementation of the Federal Common Core Standards.
Additionally, this Opinion is supported by the material fact that on September 28, 2010, Director Joseph Conaty, of the United States Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Academic Improvement And Teacher Quality Programs, delivered to Washington State Governor Gregorie a grant award notification (GAN) for the Race To The Top Assessment Program. The award was 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 deadline of January 7, 2011 to finalize the above Cooperative Agreement which bears the same date.

The GAN states that it will “include substantial involvement on the part of the Department of Education. A second GAN was enclosed for a supplemental award of $15,872,696 with the same conditions and deadline.

COST TO ALIGN UTAH TO THE NATIONAL COMMON CORE STANDARDS –
At this point, I have not been able to confirm whether Utah’s Budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 included funds from the Consortium. Even so, Utah has already been expending funds to implement the Race to the Top Assessment Program. Also, it is not clear if either our Executive Branch or the Legislature has estimated the costs Utah will incur during the next four years to implement and align the Program.
I have located a recent national study which contains some estimates for Utah: National Cost of Aligning 3States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper, No. 82, February 2012.

These are mid-range estimates that only address basic expenditures required for implementation of the new standards. Also, they are based on a typical standards time horizon of seven (7) years rather than four (4) years.
Figure 4B, Professional Development Costs for the States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only. Utah’s estimate is $50,000,000. (Page 16)
Figure 5B, Textbooks and Materials Costs for States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only. Utah’s estimate is $35,000,000. (Page 19)
Figure 6B, Multi-Year Technology Costs for States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only. Utah’s estimate is $100,000,000. (Page 22)

The study states that “As of this writing, none of the states that have adopted Common Core have released a cost feasibility analysis of the technology infrastructure and support necessary to administer either of the testing consortia’s online assessments”. It concludes “Implementation of the Common Core Standards is likely to represent substantial additional expense to most states. While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough public vetting of the costs and benefits. In particular, there has very little attention to the potential technology infrastructure costs that currently cash-strapped districts may face in order to implement the Common Core assessments within a reasonable testing window”.

Queries: Has Utah begun to analyze these costs? Has there been a thorough public vetting of both the costs and the benefits?

Date: April 12, 2012. Judge, Norman H. Jackson, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired. (801) 224-4947. normjacksonjd@msn.com.

Tough luck, Taxpayers: Utah State School Board Votes in “Free” Common Core Preschool Program   Leave a comment

They did it again. The Utah State School Board they passed even more Common Core mandates on to Utahns without running it by parents, legislators, teachers or taxpayers.  This time, they added preschool to the Common Core, and preschool will be “free” (except that it will be expensive and the taxpayers get to pay the bill, without having had a chance to vote on it). 

(It’s “Off With Her Head” to anyone –like me– who voices opposition. This week, a member of the Utah State School Board stooped to spreading  a blatant lie about me to the rest of the board, a lie about me personally, in an effort to make my message less meaningful. She actually said that I was not a teacher at all and that I’d “inflated” my credentials. Why?  No idea.  This is almost hilarious, since I’ve been teaching for almost my whole adult life and I’ve been credentialed and up to date since 1995.  I am not posting her lie letters nor my letter asking for her to be officially reprimanded, because I don’t want to create too much distraction and drama here.  The purpose of this blog is to enlighten people about, and not to distract people from, the wolf in sheep’s clothing that is Common Core.  But realize that some members of our State School Board are that desperate to shut up those who oppose Common Core !) 

 Here’s a link to the audio recording of the State School Board Meetings.  They are updated, so come back if the part you are missing isn’t here right now.

http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Audiocast/2012.aspx

Utah Withdrawing as an SBAC governing state but remaining in SBAC: Letter from Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education   Leave a comment

Education Colleagues,

 

During the May Utah State Board meeting, it was announced that Utah will be sending a letter to SBAC withdrawing as a Governing State and changing to an Advisory State.  The decision to change the membership status for SBAC was made because Utah is currently developing a RFP for an adaptive testing system, and there were concerns that if Utah continues with the current level of involvement in SBAC, there could be claims of bias in the selection process if SBAC deliverables are included in any proposals or resulting contracts.  This change in membership letter also requires that Utah not participate on any workgroups – therefore Judy will be resigning as EC co-chair, and Kevin, John, Julie and Wendy will also resign from participation on their workgroups.  Our greatest concern at this time is to ensure that SBAC is impacted as little as possible, and so will spend the month of May working with SBAC to transition our positions with the goal that no later than June 1, Utah will no longer be participating in any of our current positions.  As an advisory state, Utah will attend meetings and participate on calls as appropriate to an advisory state.  After the RFP process has concluded and contracts are awarded, then Utah will determine the appropriate membership (if any) at that time. If you have any questions, please contact Judy Park.

 

 

Judy W. Park, Ed.D.

Utah State Office of Education

Associate Superintendent

Student Services and Federal Programs

801-538-7550

Letter to the Editor   Leave a comment

Dear Editor,

 

The Utah State School Board seems blind and deaf to the whole truth about Common Core and its many goals for Utah. Despite half of Utah turning out in opposition to the Core at the USOE forum, the board forges forward: last week, the board voted to add preschool to the Common Core in Utah.

 

The Initiative binds education with federal and other ties, via the unamendable standards, via the testing consortium –of which we are not the master but the servant– and via the invasive data collection by the federal government, which is out of harmony with the Constitution’s declaration of sovereignty for states.

 

A state school board member, Leslie Castle, wrote that equality, not freedom, was the theme of the U.S. Constitution; she felt giving up freedom over education in an effort to equalize education, was a noble goal.

 

Without freedom, we have nothing in education.  We cannot innovate, we cannot soar; we can do nothing that is not ruled by others.  No matter how good Common Core sounds –and it does sound good, although none of its claims have been referenced nor piloted–  it’s a huge mistake.

 

 

 

No claim made by this educational program is worth the price we are paying in lost blessings: 1) lost parental authority, in favor of federal perusal of data, due to Common Core’s rule that we “address barriers in state law.”  2) lost educational freedoms; we can never amend or improve upon CCSS standards which have been handed down like a law from outside our sovereign state  3) lost privacy; the data collection poses as educational data collection for a common test but intrudes on families and students beyond any reasonable educational motive, allowing for the collection of income records, parental details, bus stop times, biometric information, etc. 4) and less classic literature being permitted, in favor of info-texts, in English classrooms.

 

 

 

 

By the time we wake up to this multifaceted error, it may be too late to change what Utah’s leaders have signed children up for, without many teachers or parents making a peep.

 

Christel Swasey

Heber City

Teacher and Parent

http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

And Now, A Vocabulary List   Leave a comment

A big difference between the pushers of Common Core and normal people is this: The Common Core pushers are experts on speaking in euphemisms and in acronyms. We ask for clarity, but this is never supplied by the pushers. Even state educators fall for the “eduspeak” and soon join the top Common Core pushers, who label those of us asking for clarity (or evidence or measurable answers) as conspiracy theorists.

College Readiness – this term means nothing beyond maybe a two year nonselective college prep under Common Core.  Common Core throws the term around a lot.  They hope you think it means four year college.  It doesn’t.   (See what Stanford Professor Michael Kirst said about this when he examine the Core Standards for math.) http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

High Standards – this term means nothing.  Common Core throws it around.  They say that adding a requirement for info-texts in English classes, pushing classic literature into a confined half or less of allotted teaching time, or pushing Algebra I to 9th grade from 8th grade (!) is raising standards.  They say a lot of things that aren’t proven, and certainly the Common Core has never been piloted anywhere.

Global Competitiveness – see “college readiness” and “high standards” – one more pretty phrase Common Core tosses around, without substantiation or evidence that Common Core achieves it.  Another word we teachers and parents naturally take to, like a fish takes a shiny fly, not asking what it really contains:  a federal hook that won’t let us go.

FERPA – Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.  A great thing.  But  under attack due to Common Core.

Privacy – this term means less than nothing in Common Core.  State FERPA laws that protected families and students are being overridden by federal regulations created this year without the permission of Congress.  In Wasatch County, for example, the school board took away parental consent over student data in favor of giving federal access to it.

SBAC – Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – Utah’s boss under Common Core; we have to obey other states, especially Washington State, who can sign us up for what they see fit for our educational system, and we must obey. We must also obey the terms of grants Washington State receives, even when we do not get any money from that grant.  The SBAC is federally controlled. See “Cooperative Agreement” document http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf  We must give our data to the SBAC who must give it to the feds.

PARCC – the other consortium.  Florida’s boss.  They are to synchronize testing with SBAC and share “across consortia,” triangulating with the feds.

NCLB – No Child Left Behind.  A federal program that crashed miserably.  The Dept. of Ed. is offering waivers so states can escape it, in exchange for their nextborn child:  states have to do Common Core.

GEPA- General Educational Provisions Act. Like the Constitution, it protects us and promises states can educate kids, free of federal control, but the feds are ignoring it and trying to take over education anyway.  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system” – GEPA law.

Sustainable Development   -  a term that means taking care of the earth but has been twisted by the pushers to mean “we must take rights and freedoms away from individuals and hand all to the much wiser government so that we can ensure sustainable development at all costs.”

Computer Adaptive Testing   1 comment

When I taught English at Utah Valley University, we were given a new computerized essay editing and essay grading system which I used for about two days and then rejected.  I picked up my red pen and a stack of essays and went to work the way I always had.  Why?

The computer adaptive essay editing system was not fluid.  An instructor could click on “comma splices” or “run on sentences” or “capitalization problems” but could not make thematic suggestions, nor write big, curvy arrows showing students where to move things to, or scribble extensively or get sufficiently customized and close for my taste.  Writing and editing are fluid processes and I felt computers weren’t fluid enough to do that well.

Now, my friend’s 7th grade daughter has been taking writing tests via computer.  The test gives points for the number of adjectives she’s used in her essay, regardless of whether they fit the theme or sound moronic.  The test is so non-fluid as to be ridiculous, and takes the life out of the writing process.  The computer literally grades the test without an instructor even reading it.

Maybe computer adaptive testing’s different with math.  Maybe it’s different with social studies.  Surely there must be many benefits with Computer Adaptive Testing since we are bleeding the budget to make it happen here in Utah.

But I don’t feel good about it.

Freedom versus Equality: what I think versus what the State School Board thinks   2 comments

I would never have imagined, a month ago, before I started to study Common Core, that there were members of the Utah State School Board and a top lawyer of the Utah State Office of Education who believed that genuinely high educational standards and actual freedom were unimportant in comparison to guaranteed equality of education.

The USOE lawyer, (responding to my question as to why Utah has adopted this educational system, Common Core, that won’t allow Utah a voice in amending its standards nor its common test,)  said:

“Why would there need to be? [an amendment process] The whole point is is to get to a place where there is a “common core” – that would mean the same standards for all the states that adopt it. If the states had the freedom to “disagree” and “change” them, I guess they would no longer be “common”.”

This lawyer illustrates a key attitude happening at the USOE and Utah State School Board:  these people realize Utah has ceded our sovereignty and freedom.  They know lots of people don’t think the Common Core standards answer the legitimate question of “how do we help students truly succeed academically and truly become college-ready?”

Still, they push for Common Core because these educational leaders value being common more than they value being free.

A state school board member wrote to me yesterday, saying: ” I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality. It is that principle that sets us apart from other “free” nations like India and Mexico and the countless other free countries that don’t resemble us in any way.

Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality.

This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality and I have never heard that from a political scholar. Are you reading something other than these documents to draw your conclusion?

I understand perfectly that you might not agree with the tour guide’s script at the US Supreme Court but it is going to be a hard-sell to the people of this state to base this decision about the common core on principles that differ from those. How can I tell folks that your opinions about American values are better than theirs and we are going to base this decision on your minority views? What would the constitution say about that? I just need a good argument to take to them…what would it be? What should Brenda Hales say when the majority of folks do not agree with you? It is a hard place for her to be in when your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards. This is what I am struggling with and I need your help to answer this legitimate question.”  – from the state school board member.

I responded:

Dear ______,

The Constitution is … the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.

If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term.  Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and  establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over.  It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational  and other matters.

A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.

For fun, I just did a quick word check.  “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution.  The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core).  The tour guide made that part up.

Equality can never be mandated.  The Communists tried it and look where it got them.  Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.

The push towards nationalized education is directly opposed in spirit and in letter to the laws of our landBesides the Constitution, three laws prohibit the direction, supervision or control in any way of standards, curricula and curricular materials and instructional practice.

The General Educational Provisions Act clearly states:

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.

Read that, and then read the “Cooperative Agreement” between the SBAC consortium and the U.S. Dept. of Education with its telephone conferences, status updates, coordinating “across consortia,” making data available on an ongoing basis to the federal government…

It is simply not legally permissable.  And it matters.  Our ability to govern educational decisions in Utah, matters.  It affects our children and their families tremendously.

…I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change.  It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.”  Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.

The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted.  Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.

In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative.  We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.

I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as “campaigning for idealogy.”  I want tangible answers.  I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that.  I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah.  Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it.  I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone.  I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.

That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.

Christel

 

WE THE PEOPLE VIDEO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=JVAhr4hZDJE&vq=medium#t=19

 

Getting out of the SBAC consortium is not enough: Who gets to read the longitudinal database?   Leave a comment

Getting out of the SBAC consortium is not enough: Who gets to read the longitudinal database?.

Yes, the feds really are tracking our kids and families via the Common Core testing initiative.

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