Archive for May 2013

Wyoming to Stop Common Core   9 comments

This week Alisa and I spoke in Star Valley, Wyoming at the Afton Civic Center.   The event was filmed and I’ll post it when  receive it.

What I learned:

Wyoming is in great shape to reclaim educational liberty and control.   I’m almost jealous of the state’s position.  Why?

1)  Wyoming could walk away from the temptation of federal monies easily because it has strong education funding through state royalties. 

“Each biennium, Wyoming gets about $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion in federal mineral royalty payments (FMRs), which account for a sizable portion of the state’s entire two-year $8.9 billion budget. More FMRs flow to Wyoming than any other state, largely because of extensive coal mining on federal land” – WyoFile.

2) Wyoming only recently (1 year ago) formally adopted Common Core.  The amount of wasted money, time, teacher development and other Common Core-related waste that is happening in other states, has not happened there yet.   It will be so easy to cut bait and walk away, because there’s not a lot of bait to cut.

3)  Wyoming has an enviable state school board.

The Wyoming state school board only voted 8 to 4 to adopt Common Core.  That means that a good chunk of the school board was opposed to it from day one.  Enviable!  (In supposedly conservative Utah each of the board members adore the Obama-pushed Common Core.)

Perhaps best of all, the Wyoming state superintendent, Cindy Hill, really gets it– she fights for local control of educational quality and liberty.  She recently gave a speech to her state legislature about the foolishness of being federal-compliance-focused rather than having a “laser-like focus” on academic excellence.

Hill had refused to throw her state under the national testing bus and was severely punished for her wisdom.  She  was recently pushed aside and relieved of virtually all her powers and duties except for ceremonial and paperwork duties, because she opposed the federal-compliance mentality of the majority of the Wyoming School Board.  Hill’s powers were reassigned –not by a vote, but by an appointment–  to the new position:  Director of Education, one who would dance the dance of federal compliance more cheerfully.

But Wyoming citizens rose up in protest, getting thousands and thousands of citizens to sign a petition to vote on the issue and to get Cindy Hill reinstated with her full powers.

4) Wyoming has strong, devoted people who value local control and are not willing to give it away.

 

Wyoming, we love you.  Go, Fight, Win!

 

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Sign the Wyoming Petition to STOP COMMON CORE here.

TribTalk: Is Classical Literature Diminished by Common Core, or Not?   14 comments

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56311293-78/standards-core-common-utah.html.csp

I watched this video, where the Salt Lake Tribune reporter asked Utah School Board Chair Debra Roberts whether Common Core took away classic literature –see minute 15:40.

Roberts laughed, said that she was an English major and would never support standards that were not strongly supportive of classic literature—  and then, without answering, took the conversation in the direction of how important informational texts are.

The fact is, informational texts used to be taught where they OUGHT to be taught– in science classes, history classes, and other classes.  But they are being force fed in all English classes now.

Certainly, some classic literature is still permitted in Utah schools under Common Core.  But it has been dramatically reduced, especially at the high school level.  Roberts would not admit this. WHY?

Debra Roberts’ signature (together with our former governor’s signature) put Utah’s former educational liberty under the thumb of the Common Core agenda.  She’s been on the Common Core adoption team longer than our current governor.  She cannot be ignorant of the truth.

She knows that Common Core emphasizes informational text and takes away classic literature.  She knows that in elementary school, students may read 50% classic stories and 50% informational text; and she knows that the percentage of informational text MUST increase while the percentage of classic literature must decrease, so that when a student is a high school senior, he/she must have 70% of his/her English class reading be informational, while 30% max may be classic literature.

She and others on the state school board continue to call those of us who call for the whole truth, “misinformed” and “erroneous.”

I requested an explanation of what exactly seemed “erroneous,” in the school board’s view, in the GOP resolution that Utah’s State Delegates voted to support last week.

I have not heard back from them.

I have also requested face to face meetings with board members and have been denied a meeting.   Here I am, a credentialed Utah teacher, denied a meeting to discuss my concerns about Utah’s new Core Curriculum.  Does that seem good?

I am willing to be proven wrong.   One person could be wrong.

But I don’t think it’s fair to call all 6,000 petition signers at Utahns Against Common Core, plus the 1500— 2,000 state delegates who voted against common core at the resolution vote,  plus the entire Republican National Committee, plus Sutherland Institute, Heritage Institute, Pioneer Institute, Cato Institute, Senator Mike Lee, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop, all “misinformed.”  –Especially not in the same week that the chair of the board misinforms reporters about Common Core.

Senator Mike Lee: Education Policy Statement   Leave a comment

Have you seen Senator Mike Lee’s statement on education policy?

Education Policy

Senator Mike Lee

The first principle of education, and therefore of education policymaking, is that parents are the primary educators of their children.

And because responsibility for children’s education lies primarily with parents, to the greatest extent possible so should decision-making authority over Pre-K to secondary education.

The further pre-K to secondary policymaking authority is removed from the parents and guardians of children, the further it is removed from those who will promote the best interests of students.

Therefore federal pre-K, elementary, and secondary education policy should be limited. Neither members of Congress nor Department of Education bureaucrats can be expected to promote the interests of individual students – with unique talents, interests, and learning styles – more than those students’ parents, their teachers or principals.

And indeed, history has borne out this basic human insight. Pre-K Federal pre-K policy primarily amounts to the Head Start program, which for forty years has utterly failed to improve the lives of the poor children and families it ostensibly serves.

It is a demonstrable fact that the federal Head Start program does not help, and in most cases hurts the children and families enrolled in it. The $8.1 billion the federal government today wastes on this failed program, on the other hand, might conceivably do some good for poor children and families – if federal bureaucrats surrender control over it to states, school boards, and, ideally, parents themselves.

Senator Lee has therefore introduced the Head Start Improvement Act (S. pending) to eliminate the federal Head Start bureaucracy and block grant its full $8.1 billion budget to the states, to spend on pre-K education for the underprivileged as they see fit, including as vouchers to defray the costs of private pre-school tuition.

Primary & Secondary

Federal K-12 policy today consists of the No Child Left Behind Act, which has bound states and schools in so much red tape that even some of NCLB’s “successes” have been revealed as little more than administrative book-cooking.

Tying educators and administrators in federal red tape does nothing to educate children, or protect parents’ rightful authority over the education of their children.

Therefore Sen. Lee is an original co-sponsor of the “A-Plus” Act, which creates an alternative, locally-controlled accountability and regulatory system for federal K-12 funds. Borrowing the logic of charter schools – under which new public schools are freed from bureaucratic supervision in exchange for meeting performance goals – APlus would in effect allow for the creation of “Charter States.”

States would be free to continue under the current NCLB system, or they could instead adopt rigorous performance standards in exchange for being released from NCLB red tape. If over time the standards are not met, the state will revert back to the NCLB system.

Federal K-12 funding – which should generally be limited – should finance innovation, opportunity, and success in the classroom – not Washington bureaucracy.

Dr. Peg Luksik: The Unasked Question   4 comments

The Unasked Question

by Dr. Peg Luksik

Reposted from http://foundedontruth.com/index.php/battlelines-news-info/32-the-unasked-question

The public debate over the Common Core Standards is intensifying as parents and teachers learn more about the changes to our educational system.

When the proponents of the standards mention them, they always begin with the word “rigorous”.  The word is always used, and there is never a synonym.  This is marketing at its finest.

Who could ever be opposed to rigorous standards that would make America’s children college and career-ready?

Then the definition of “rigorous” began to emerge.  To quote the training materials being used with teachers across Pennsylvania, rigor does not mean “difficult, as AP Calculus is difficult”.  Rigor meant… that lots of effort would be required.  In the example given by one of the official presenters, the rigorous activity in a high school chemistry class was to have the students use balls to build little models of each of the atoms in the Periodic Table.  She explained that the brightest students were frustrated with this activity because they were not used to having to do such “rigorous” work.

And now the Common Core based secondary school math assessment has been revealed.  To meet these “rigorous” new standards and be able to graduate from high school, America’s students will have to pass Algebra I.

In testimony before the PA Senate Education Committee this month, a proponent of these standards was asked about this situation.  He responded that a graduate only needed Algebra I to be “career-ready” – which he clarified by specifying that he was referring to working a service or manufacturing job or joining the military.

His response brings us to the unasked questions in this movement to radically restructure our schools.

Who is the client of the educational system? What is the purpose of  education?

In classical education, which is how most adults over the age of 35 were taught, the client of education was the child, and the purpose was to give each child the ability to reach his fullest potential.  The school was supposed to open doors so children from any background would have the chance to achieve their dreams.  Educational programs were not aimed at what a child “only needed” – they were aimed at giving each child as many options as possible.  They aimed a child at the ceiling instead of the floor.

And in reaching the ceiling, those adults learned what they needed to find and keep a job.  Some of them went to college and some of them entered the work force and some of them joined the military.  But those decisions were theirs, based on their abilities and preferences and effort.  And if they decided to make a different choice, they had the ability to do so.

But the Common Core changes the answers to those basic questions.  In the new system, the client of the educational system is business, and the purpose of the educational system is to create a work force with the skills they need to do the job.  And if the job only requires Algebra I, then, as the gentleman testifying said, there is no need for the workers in that job to have any education beyond Algebra I.

Who decides which students will be allowed to continue learning and which will be stopped at “the skills they need to do their jobs”?

That too is an un-asked, and un-answered, question.

And it is the most chilling question of all.

http://foundedontruth.com/index.php/battlelines-news-info/32-the-unasked-question

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Thanks to Dr. Luksik for her essay.

Source Documents for Common Core   11 comments

Nobody has to choose between relying on the proponents of Common Core, or relying on the opponents of Common Core.

To find out what Common Core really is and does to education and to liberty, study for yourself.

These are just a starter batch. There are more!  Some of these are Utah-specific.  If you are in another state, do a related word search to easily find your own.

 

DOCUMENTS:

The Race to the Top Grant Application

The No Child Left Behind Waiver

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant

The lawsuit against the Department of Education

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education

The speeches of President Obama on education

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange,  the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.

The Common Core English and Math standards

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.

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Here are some explanations of each of the documents, and what you can learn from them.

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The Race to the Top Grant Application  - Utah got points for having a kid-tracking SLDS database system.  Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core.  This was how we got into it.  Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver  – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable Common Core standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant  – This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has.  It tracks students within the state.  Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange.

The lawsuit against the Department of Education  – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA  – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama.  It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC.  This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment.  It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He seems to believe Common Core was Obama’s idea from the start.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s goal is total control of everything– teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every  school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda.  He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for us all.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be.  This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance  – behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government.  It’s all about control.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.  -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards.

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.  – This shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute.  Parents and teachers may not see the test questions.

Upon This Lack of Evidence We Base Our Children’s Futures   3 comments

Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. – Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University, NJ

In the Education Administration Journal, the  AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (Winter 2011 / Volume 7, No. 4) there’s an article by Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University that clearly explains the ridiculousness of Common Core.  The full article, “Common Core: An Example of Data-less Decision Making,” is available online, and  following are some highlights:

Although a majority of U.S. states and territories have “made the CCSS the legal law of their land in terms of the mathematics and language arts curricula,” and although “over 170 organizations, education-related and corporations alike, have pledged their support,” still “the evidence presented by its developers, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), seems lacking,” and research on the topic suggests “the CCSS and those who support them are misguided,” writes Dr. Tienken.

Why?

“The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children,” he writes.

Tienken and  many other academics have said  that Common Core adoption begs this question: “Surely there must be quality data available publically to support the use of the CCSS to transform, standardize, centralize and essentially de-localize America‘s public education system,” and surely there must be more compelling and methodologically strong evidence available not yet shared with the general public or education researchers to support the standardization of one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world. Or, maybe there is not?”

Tienken calls incorrect the notion that American education is lagging behind international competitors and does not believe the myth that academic tests can predict future economic competitiveness.

Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons.”

He observes: “Tax, trade, health, labor, finance, monetary, housing, and natural resource policies, to name a few, drive our economy, not how students rank on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)” or other tests.

Most interestingly, Tienken observes that the U.S. has had a highly  internationally competitive system up until now.  “The U.S. already has one of the highest percentages of people with high school diplomas and college degrees compared to any other country and we had the greatest number of 15 year-old students in the world score at the highest levels on the 2006 PISA science test (OECD, 2008; OECD, 2009; United Nations, 2010). We produce more researchers and scientists and qualified engineers than our economy can employ, have even more in the pipeline, and we are one of the most economically competitive nations on the globe (Gereffi & Wadhwa, 2005; Lowell, et al., 2009; Council on Competitiveness, 2007; World Economic Forum, 2010).

Tienken calls Common Core “a decision in search of data” ultimately amounting to “nothing more than snake oil.”  He is correct.  The burden of proof is on the proponents to show that this system is a good one.

He writes: “Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Many of America‘s education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.

This seems like the ultimate in anti-intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy.”

Further, Dr. Tienken reasons:

“Where is the evidence that national curriculum standards will cause American students to score at the top of international tests or make them more competitive? Some point to the fact that many of the countries that outrank the U.S. have national, standardized curricula. My reply is there are also nations like Canada, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland that have very strong economies, rank higher than the U.S. on international tests of mathematics and science consistently, and do not have a mandated, standardized set of national curriculum standards.”

Lastly, Dr. Tienken asks us to look at countries who have nationalized and standardized education, such as China and Singapore:  “China, another behemoth of centralization, is trying desperately to crawl out from under the rock of standardization in terms of curriculum and testing (Zhao, 2009) and the effects of those practices on its workforce. Chinese officials recognize the negative impacts a standardized education system has had on intellectual creativity. Less than 10% of Chinese workers are able to function in multi-national corporations (Zhao, 2009).

I do not know of many Chinese winners of Nobel Prizes in the sciences or in other the intellectual fields. China does not hold many scientific patents and the patents they do hold are of dubious quality (Cyranoski, 2010).

The same holds true for Singapore. Authorities there have tried several times to move the system away from standardization toward creativity. Standardization and testing are so entrenched in Singapore that every attempt to diversify the system has failed, leaving Singapore a country that has high test scores but no creativity. The problem is so widespread that Singapore must import creative talent from other countries”.

According to Dr. Tienken, Common Core is a case of oversimplification.  It is naiive to believe that all children would benefit from mastering the same set of skills, or that it would benefit the country in the long run, to mandate sameness.  He observes that Common Core is “an Orwellian policy position that lacks a basic understanding of diversity and developmental psychology. It is a position that eschews science and at its core, believes it is appropriate to force children to fit the system instead of the system adjusting to the needs of the child.”

Oh, how I agree.

Since when do we trust bureaucracies more than we trust individuals to make correct decisions inside a classroom or a school district?  Since when do we agree force children to fit a predetermined system, instead of having a locally controlled, flexible system that can adjust to the needs of a child?

What madness (or money?) has persuaded even our most American-as-apple-pie organizations – even the national PTA, the U.S. Army, the SAT, most textbook companies and many governors– to advocate for Common Core, when there never was a real shred of valid evidence upon which to base this country-changing decision?

Cherie Zaslawsky: Brave New Schools   5 comments

Brave New Schools

Guest post by California English teacher Cherie Zaslawsky

The much touted Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative that is being pushed as a silver bullet to improve our schools is not simply the latest fad in education: CCS is actually an unprecedented program that would radically alter our entire K-12 educational system, affecting content (i.e. curriculum), delivery (largely via computer), testing (also via computer), teacher evaluations (connected to test scores), as well as creating an intrusive database of sensitive information from student “assessments.” This program, for all the protestations to the contrary, represents the nationalization of education in America, extinguishing any semblance of local control. Furthermore, it was essentially developed at the behest of billionaire Bill Gates, who also funded it to the tune of some $150 million, and who clearly thinks he knows what’s best for everybody else’s children. (His own are safely ensconced in private schools).

California adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative on August 2, 2010, only two months after the standards were released. Nor has this multi-billion dollar program ever been piloted anywhere! It’s a nationwide experiment—with our children as the subjects.  Nor was CCS ever internationally benchmarked. In California, as in most states, there was no time to devote to studying the intricacies of the program, vetting it, or introducing it to the public. Instead, Race to the Top money was dangled in front of state legislatures, and 45 states sprang for it, but 16 of these states at last count are already seeking to withdraw from the program.

Parents need to understand the implications of the Common Core Standards. These standards, which amount to a national curriculum via bundled tests, texts and teacher evaluations, would severely degrade our local schools. How? By lowering the standards of high-performing schools to make them “equal” with low-performing schools, in a misguided attempt to reach what its proponents call “equity” or “fairness” by mandating the lowest common denominator for all schools. True, this would close the muchballyhooed “achievement gap”—but only by dumbing down the education of the best and brightest to better match that of the unmotivated and/or less academically gifted.

The idea that all students should perform identically sounds eerily like something out of  Mao’s China. What happened to our relishing of individual talents and uniqueness? Would we lower the standards for the best athletes to put them on a par with mediocre athletes to close the “performance gap” in, say, high school football?

How do a few of the experts view this program? Dr. James Milgrim of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Common Core validation team, refused to sign off on the math standards because he discovered that by the end of 8th grade, CCS will leave our students two years behind in math compared to those in high-performing countries. And according to Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the respected expert who developed the Massachusetts standards, widely regarded as the best in the nation, “Common Core’s ‘college readiness’ standards for ELA are chiefly empty skill sets and cannot lead to even a meaningful high school diploma. Only a literature-rich curriculum can. College readiness has always depended on the complexity of the literary texts teachers teach and a coherent literature curriculum.”

As English teacher Christel Swasey notes:  “We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories. Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.”  Instead, students will swim in the murky waters of relativism where all things are equal and no moral compass exists. We should not be surprised if they are also encouraged to view history along the lines of multiculturalism, “social equity,” and the Communitarian glorification of the collectivist “global village.”

Consider how drastically literature is being marginalized (30%) in favor of “informational” texts (70%) in the 12th  grade, with a maximum of only 50% literature ever, throughout middle and high school English classes. The switch to a steady diet of “informational” texts virtually ensures that students won’t be learning to think critically or to write probing, analytical essays, let alone to develop the love of reading and appreciation for the literary masterpieces of Western culture. Put in practical terms, it means that instead of reading Hamlet, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice, your child will be reading computer manuals and tracts on “climate change,” “environmental justice,” and the virtues of recycling.

And the price of mediocrity? In California, implementation cost is estimated at $2.1 billion, with $1.4 billion as upfront costs—mainly for computers (every child needs one—along with special apps—could that be one reason Bill Gates poured a cool $150 million into this program? Perhaps giving new meaning to the word “philanthropist”…) along with training teachers to navigate the complicated new programs. Even though it’s been proven—as if we needed proof—that children learn better from real live teachers than from staring at LCD screens.

In addition, tests and “assessments” will be taken on computers—resulting in the harvesting of personal data that amounts to a dossier on every child, including choice tidbits about Mommy and Daddy.  And what is to stop the powers-that-be from using these assessments and test results to “re-educate” “politically incorrect” students who show too much independence?

Clearly Common Core is a disaster in the making.  So what can we do? The simplest solution is to insist that our school boards turn down the carrot of federal funding and reject Common Core in order to preserve the integrity of our local schools through local control and to continue to allow our teachers to use their creativity in the classroom. The price of compliance with Common Core, however tempting monetarily speaking, is just too high— the mortgaging of our children’s future.

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Thanks to Cherie Zaslawsky for permission to publish her essay here.

Ogden Examiner Covers GOP Rejection of Common Core While Tribune and Deseret News are Silent   6 comments

The Ogden Examiner covered the Utah GOP’s  rejection of the Common Core at Saturday’s convention. But Utah’s main newspapers, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, have not yet covered the story.

That lack of coverage speaks volumes.

Discussing Common Core is now akin to bringing up religion, sex or politics at family reunions.  People have such varied, and intense, beliefs about it that it can get a little awkward.

WHAT DO TEACHERS WANT?

Almost whispering, a woman in my town came up to me this week and quietly said thank you.  She said that she and the other educators are grateful for those who speak out.  Most of those currently employed in schools don’t dare say anything against common core, fearing ridicule or job loss.

There are exceptions.  David Cox  is currently teaching; Margaret Wilkin, just retired;  and others nationally have spoken out.  And there’s even me.  I’m also a currently credentialed teacher, but I’m homeschooling instead of sending my ten year old (and myself) into the schools of Common Core.  Will the USSB renew my credential?  Will schools hire me in the future when they know I disagree so strongly with the Common Core agenda?  I wonder.

I spoke with a member of the Utah State School Board this week about teachers’ feelings about Common Core, asking if the board would be willing to create an official USOE anonymous survey for teachers like the one Utahns Against Common Core is doing, in order to receive honest, two-sided feedback about Common Core.  The board member told me that would be pointless because “there are always teachers who are angry.”  Those angry ones must not taken too seriously.

This makes me think that teachers need to make it clear to the USOE/USSB that the angry few are not the minority or the “always angry” types.  I suggest that teachers write letters, anonymously if necessary, but often– and many.  How else will the state leaders believe that there is a serious problem?

DEFINING COMMON CORE

Another reason there is a lack of coverage and discussion about the issue is that when we say “Common Core,” we don’t all think of the same thing.

Remember the story of the blind men describing the elephant?  Each blind man reached out and touched the elephant, and were asked to describe it.  One said it was like a tree trunk.  One said it was like a wall.  One said it was like a rope.  All disagreed yet none was lying.  The beast was just bigger and more complex than any of them realized.

Because different teachers teach at different grade levels, and different teachers teach different subjects  (only some of which are affected by Common Core); and because some schools jumped on the Common Core implementation wagon fast, while others are slow; and because the Common Core tests don’t begin until this coming school year; and because the Common Core-aligned textbooks are for the most part, not yet purchased and not yet even printed, things look different in different places.

Then there’s the confusion outside the teachers’ arena; some people are aware of the political strings (such as the lack of an amendment process for common core standards; the copyright on CCSS, the 15% cap placed on it by the Dept of Education; and the lack of voter accountability to the groups who created the standards)  –while many people are unaware, and say, “Common Core is just minimum standards.”

All of these various angles make it difficult to even speak about what Common Core is.

But we have to keep speaking about it.

MOVE– BEFORE THE CEMENT HARDENS

Common Core is not like past education reforms that are quickly altered and tossed away for another set of equally bureaucratic –but alterable– reforms.

This one’s going in cement. Two reasons:

1.  The main architect for Common Core’s ELA standards, David Coleman, was given the position of College Board president, and is aligning college entrance exams (SAT) to Common Core.  The ACT is said to be aligned as well.  This fact alters our entire system of education in the country –and cannot be easily changed later.

2. There is a philosophical and curricular monopoly happening.  The textbook industry is dominated by Pearson, the world’s largest education sales business.  Pearson is officially partnered with Bill Gates, the world’s 2nd richest man, and the main funder of all things common core.  The partnership is writing model common core curriculum (as are the testing consortia) to align all books, teacher trainings, and tests with the same standards.  Meanwhile, 99% of all smaller textbook companies are also republishing all their books to align with Common Core because of this new monopoly on what academic standards ought to cover (or what they ought to skip).

We need more states, more private schools, and more textbook companies  to stand independent of this outrageous, baseless monopoly.  Otherwise, there will soon be no alternatives, no freedom of choice, no ability to soar above the common –for any of us.

We need alternatives to a common alignment with corporate monopolies and one college exam standard.

I hope the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News decide to cover this issue fully, rather than worrying about what the Governor, State School Board, and Prosperity 2020 businesses want them to do.

People deserve to hear the full story, thoroughly covered.  It’s not unimportant:

We are reclaiming the local ability to determine what we will teach our kids.

 

 

 

 

Utah Republican Delegates to Governor and State School Board: Withdraw Utah From Common Core   3 comments

Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.

Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.

If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.

An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day.  Present were the Governor and his bodyguard;  legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates.  The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.

At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools.  The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core.  (The video that was looped is viewable here.  For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view –  see this video, too.)

There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC)  booth than around any other, by a long shot.  Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.

I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems.  (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)

But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process.  These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.

Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation.  It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be.  It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.

Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass.  It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that  had passed earlier this year in California.

But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory.   The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly.  The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core.  (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)

And the media were generally against us.  Both the Tribune and KSL  had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.

So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth.  I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle  of the resolution passing.

Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news.  Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word:  “PASSED!!!!”

Our resolution passed!  It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns.  65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.

It was a welcome surprise.

Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed.  I learned that the  powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution.  They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held.  Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage.  There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.

Finally the resolution was debated.  There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.

Sixty five percent voted for it to pass!   That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core.  This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.

But it didn’t make the Tribune.  It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.

Who knows why?  Sigh.

Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks.  There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.

Let’s not let them get away with it.

Professor Nicholas Tampio: On Gates’ Micromanagement of Education   4 comments

Reposted from a School Book op-ed with permission from Professor Nicholas Tampio

May 17, 2013

Bill Gates Should Not Micro-Manage Our Schools

By Prof. Nicholas Tampio

The multinational software giant, Microsoft, once bundled its Explorer search engine with Windows, and refused, for a time, to have Windows run WordPerfect, a competitor to Microsoft Word. As head of Microsoft, Bill Gates wanted everyone to use the same program. As funder of the Common Core, I believe he wants to do the same with our children.

The Common Core is one of the most effective educational reform movements in United States history. Gates is a financial backer of this movement. Looking at this connection enables us to see why the United States should be wary of letting any one person or group acquire too much control over education policy.

Launched in 2009 and now adopted by 45 states, the Common Core articulates a single set of educational standards in language arts and mathematics. Although the Common Core claims not to tell teachers what or how to teach, school districts must prove to state legislatures or the federal government (via the Race to the Top program) that they are complying with the Common Core. The simplest and most cost-effective way for a school district to do that is to purchase an approved reading or math program.

The Common Core transfers bread-and-butter curriculum decisions from the local to the state and national level.

On the Common Core website, Gates applauds this development, stating that the initiative brings the nation closer to “supporting effective teaching in every classroom.” Here, I believe, one sees a link between Gates’s business and advocacy sides.

The Common Core may raise standards in some school districts, but one ought to read the literature with a critical eye. The Common Core has not been field-tested anywhere. The Common Core does not address many root causes of underperforming schools, such as hungry students or dangerous neighborhoods. And the Common Core has an opportunity cost, namely, that it forces thriving school districts to adopt programs that may be a worse fit for the student body.

We can learn a lesson from the recent history of the computing industry. Apple and Microsoft have pressed each other to make better applications, phones, notepads, and cameras. Though Gates may have wanted to vanquish Apple, Steve Jobs prompted him to improve his products, which in turn benefited every computer user. Competition brings out the best in people and institutions. The Common Core standardizes curricula and thereby hinders competition among educational philosophies.

Surely, one could say, certain standards are self-evidently good. A Common Core principle of first grade math is that students should “attend to precision” and “look for and make use of structure.” Just as a computer program requires each number, space, and function to be in its right spot to operate, so too the standards emphasize thinking in an orderly fashion and showing each step of the work.

In a new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, the Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson argues that the demand for precision can hurt the scientific imagination. Wilson celebrates the fanciful nature of innovation by reflecting on how Darwin formulated the idea of descent with modification while sailing on the H.M.S. Beagle and Newton discovered that white light is a mix of colored lights while playing with a prism. Though teachers sometimes need to write orderly equations on a blackboard, real progress comes “amid a litter of doodled paper.” Doodling is a prelude to a eureka moment, the fuel of scientific research.

Would it be wise to nationalize an educational policy that frowns on doodling?

One could argue about the details of the Common Core standards: how to strike the right balance, say, between fiction and non-fiction, humanities and sciences, doodling and straight lines, and so forth. And yet this approach concedes that America ought to have the same approach in every classroom.

America needs many kinds of excellent programs and schools: International Baccalaureate programs, science and technology schools, Montessori schools, religious schools, vocational schools, bilingual schools, outdoor schools, and good public schools. Even within programs and schools, teachers should be encouraged to teach their passions and areas of expertise. Teachers inspire life-long learning by bringing a class to a nature center, replicating an experiment from Popular Science, taking a field trip to the state or national capital, or assigning a favorite novel. A human being is not a computer, and a good education is not formatted in a linear code.

As a result of the Common Core, teachers in our school district must now open boxes filled with reading materials, workbooks, and tests from a “learning company.” How depressing and unnecessary. As Apple and Google have shown, great work can be done when talented employees are granted power and encouraged to innovate.

In regards to education policy, I’d prefer Bill Gates to have a loud voice in his school district, but a quieter one in mine.

        Prof. Nicholas Tampio teaches Critical Theory at Fordham University.

http://www.schoolbook.org/2013/05/17/bill-gates-should-not-micro-manage-our-schools/

Postscript from Professor Nicholas Tampio on why he began to study the Common Core:

Last spring, my son’s kindergarten education went from outstanding to mediocre in a blink. The teacher is a wonderful woman who lives and breathes her craft. For years, she developed innovative curricula and inspired children to love school. The year before my son started kindergarten, the high school valedictorian spoke at length about how this teacher sparked his curiosity in physics and space. He is at Stanford now.

In February, the teacher had to use a program designed to satisfy the Common Core criteria. She was required to open big boxes and follow a script. My son’s curriculum went from fresh to canned and, as could be anticipated, the classroom mood suffered. My son’s problem at the start of kindergarten was that he was too excited to learn (he would answer every question she asked, etc.). That “problem” disappeared.
I met with administrators and they were nice and helpful. But their hands are tied. The state signed up for the Common Core. The state wants proof that our school district is complying and the way to do that is to use a program.
My motivation, then, is simple: I want my kids to have a great education. When the rubber hit the road, the Common Core damaged our school district. I am confident that Americans, when presented with good arguments and evidence, will realize that the Common Core is a misguided initiative. The sooner the better.
I present some of these points in my Huffington Post piece: Do We Need a Common Core?

Religious Freedom and Homeschool   4 comments

An article in the Washington times about the Romeike family contains some very important details.  For example, U.S. Attorney-General Holder argues in the brief for Romeike v. Holder that parents have no fundamental right to home-educate their children.

Say what?!

The arguments being  presented by the U.S. government against the soon-to-be-deported Romeike family are important to all  American people.

Will the U.S. uphold the rights of parents to raise their  children in the way that seems best to them, or will a socialist standard be  imposed upon millions of homeschooling families in America?

The WT article says:

“HSLDA founder Mike Farris warns, “[Holder’s office] argued that there  was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans  homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for  some but permitted it for others. Let’s assess the position of the  United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s  rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of  constitutional rights of citizens – fundamental liberties and equal protection.  The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no  fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling  broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”

Farris goes on to reveal another argument presented by the  Attorney-General: “The U.S. government contended that the  Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on  religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all  homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to  homeschool.” 

The US Government, says Farris, “does not  understand that religious freedom is an individual right.”

Just  because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain  standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this  standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by  individuals, not by groups.

Farris contends, “One need not be a  part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious  freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church  to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God  Himself.

The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that  religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not  seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and  factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any  understanding of individual liberty.”

 

Read the WT article: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/high-tide-and-turn/2013/feb/12/deportation-german-homeschool-family-affects-us-ho/#ixzz2TZwwBfNU

See also:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/12/german-home-schooling-family-fights-to-stay-in-us/

See also: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/03/18/there-is-nothing-more-un-american-than-this-becks-interview-with-the-lawyer-representing-homeschooling-familys-fight-to-stay-in-the-u-s/

 

Kansas Needs Your Help   Leave a comment

Kansas is requesting help from all those who care for educational liberty nationwide.  Do you have time to send an email or make a phone call?

The Kansas legislature is discussing whether to promote or oppose Common Core.  What happens in other states affects our own.

It matters.

http://www.kansas.com/2013/05/16/2806191/kansas-budget-proposal-could-halt.html

Here’s the contact information for the Kansas Legislature.

Kansas House Roster   2013

Name District Capitol Phone Email

Rep. Alcala 57 785 296-7371  john.alcala@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Alford 124 785 296-7656  j.stephen.alford@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Ballard 44 785 296-7697  barbara.ballard@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Barker 70 785 296-7674  john.barker@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Becker 104 785 296-7196  steven.becker@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Bideau 9 785 296-7636  ed.bideau@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Boldra 111 785 296-4683  sue.boldra@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Bollier 21 785 296-7686  barbara.bollier@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Bradford 40 785 296-7653  john.bradford@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Bridges 83 785 296-7646  carolyn.bridges@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Bruchman 20 785 296-7644  rob.bruchman@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Brunk 85 785 296-7645  steve.brunk@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Burroughs 33 785-296-7630  tom.burroughs@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Campbell 26 785 296-7632  larry.campbell@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Carlin 66 785 296-7649  sydney.carlin@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Carlson 61 785 296-7660  richard.carlson@house.ks.gov

Rep. Carpenter 75 785 296-7673  will.carpenter@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Cassidy 120 785 296-7616  ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Christmann 113 785 296-7640  marshall.christmann@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Claeys 69 785 296-7670  jrclaeys@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Clayton 19 785 296-7655  stephanie.clayton@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Concannon 107 785 296-7677  susan.concannon@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Corbet 54 785 296-7679  ken.corbet@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Couture-Lovelady 110 785 296-4683  travis.couture-lovelady@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Crum 77 785 296-6989  david.crum@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Davis 46 785-296-7630  paul.davis@house.ks.gov,

Rep. DeGraaf 82 785 296-7693  pete.degraaf@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Dierks 71 785 296-7642  diana.dierks@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Dillmore 92 785 296-7698  nile.dillmore@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Doll 123 785 296-7380  john.doll@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Dove 38 785 296-7670  willie.dove@house.ks.gov

Rep. Edmonds 112 785 296-5593  john.edmonds@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Edwards 93 785 296-7640  joe.edwards@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Esau 14 785 296-7631  keith.esau@house.ks.gov ,

Name District Capitol Phone Email

Rep. Ewy 117 785 296-7105  john.ewy@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Finch 59 785 296-7655 blaine.finch@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Finney 84 785 296-7648  gail.finney@house.ks.gov

Rep. Frownfelter 37 785 296-7648  stan.frownfelter@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Gandhi 52 785 296-7672  shanti.gandhi@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Garber 62 785 296-7665  randy.garber@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Goico 94 785 296-7663  mario.goico@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Gonzalez 47 785 296-7500  ramon.gonzalezjr@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Grant 2 785 296-7650  bob.grant@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Grosserode 16 785 296-7659  amanda.grosserode@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hawkins 100 785 296-7631  dan.hawkins@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hedke 99 785 296-7699  dennis.hedke@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Henderson 35 785 296-7697  broderick.henderson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Henry 63 785 296-7688  jerry.henry@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hermanson 98 785 296-7658  phil.hermanson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hibbard 13 785 296-7380  larry.hibbard@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Highland 51 785 296-7310  ron.highland@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hildabrand 17 785 296-7659  brett.hildabrand@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hill 60 785 296-7632  don.hill@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hineman 118 785 296-7636  don.hineman@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Hoffman 116 785 296-7643  kyle.hoffman@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Houser 1 785 296-7679  michael.houser@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Houston 89 785 296-7652  roderick.houston@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Howell 81 785 296-7665  jim.howell@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Huebert 90 785 296-1754  steve.huebert@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Hutton 105 785 296-7673  mark.hutton@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Jennings 122 785 296-7196  russ.jennings@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Johnson 108 785 296-7696  steven.johnson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Jones 5 785 296-6287  kevin.jones@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Kahrs 87 785 296-5593  mark.kahrs@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Kelley 80 785 296-7671  kasha.kelley@house.ks.gov

Rep. Kelly 11 785 296-6014  jim.kelly@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Kinzer 30 785-296-7692  lance.kinzer@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Kleeb 48 785 296-7680  marvin.kleeb@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Kuether 55 785 296-7669  annie.kuether@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Lane 58 785 296-7649  harold.lane@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Lunn 28 785 296-7675  jerry.lunn@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Lusk 22 785 296-7651  nancy.lusk@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Macheers 39 785 296-7675  charles.macheers@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Mast 76 785-291-3500  peggy.mast@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. McPherson 8 785 296-7695  craig.mcpherson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Meier 41 785 296-7650  melanie.meier@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Meigs 23 785 296-7656  kelly.meigs@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Menghini 3 785 296-7691  julie.menghini@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Merrick 27 785-296-2302  ray.merrick@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Montgomery 15 785 296-7677  bob.montgomery@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Moxley 68 785 296-7689  tom.moxley@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. O’Brien 42 785 296-7683  connie.obrien@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Osterman 97 785 296-7689  leslie.osterman@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Pauls 102 785 296-7657  jan.pauls@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Peck 12 785 296-7641  virgil.peck@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Perry 24 785 296-7669  emily.perry@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Peterson 32 785 296-7371  michael.peterson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Petty 125 785 296-7676  reid.petty@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Phillips 67 785 296-6014  tom.phillips@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. J. Powell 50 785 296-7674  joshua.powell@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Proehl 7 785 296-7639  richard.proehl@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Read 4 785 296-7310  marty.read@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Rhoades 72 785 291-3446  marc.rhoades@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Rooker 25 785 296-7686  melissa.rooker@house.ks.gov

Rep. Rothlisberg 65 785 296-7653  allan.rothlisberg@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Rubin 18 785 296-7690  john.rubin@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Ruiz 31 785 296-7122  louis.ruiz@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Ryckman Jr. 78 785 296-6287  ron.ryckman@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Ryckman Sr. 115 785 296-7658  ronald.ryckman@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Sawyer 95 785 296-7691  tom.sawyer@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Schroeder 74 785 296-7500  don.schroeder@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Schwab 49 785 296-7501  scott.schwab@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Schwartz 106 785 296-7637  sharon.schwartz@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Seiwert 101 785 296-7647  joe.seiwert@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Shultz 73 785 296-7684  clark.shultz@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Siegfreid 121 785 368-7166  arlen.siegfreid@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Sloan 45 785 296-7654  tom.sloan@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Sloop 88 785 296-7646  patricia.sloop@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Suellentrop 91 785 296-7681  gene.suellentrop@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Sutton 43 785 296-7676  bill.sutton@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Swanson 64 785 296-7642  vern.swanson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Thimesch 114 785 296-7105  jack.thimesch@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Tietze 53 785 296-7668  annie.tietze@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Todd 29 785 296-7695  james.todd@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Trimmer 79 785 296-7122  ed.trimmer@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Vickrey 6 785-296-7662  jene.vickrey@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Victors 103 785 296-7651  ponka-we.victors@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Ward 86 785 296-7698  jim.ward@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Waymaster 109 785 296-7672  troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Weber 119 785 296-5481  brian.weber@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Weigel 56 785 296-7366  virgil.weigel@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Whipple 96 785 296-7366  brandon.whipple@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Wilson 10 785 296-7652  john.wilson@house.ks.gov ,

Rep. Winn 34 785 296-7657  valdenia.winn@house.ks.gov,

Rep. Wolfe Moore 36 785 296-7688  kathy.wolfemoore@house.ks.gov ,

Here’s a letter for reference:

Dear Kansas Legislator,

It might surprise you that a citizen of Utah is going out of her way to ask you to oppose the Common Core agenda taking root in Kansas.
I have studied the Common Core thoroughly.  I urge you to study it closely.
1)  It isn’t state-led, despite the rhetoric.  Legislators and voters were totally bypassed.  The NGA is not a constitutionally recognized entity to rule on the national stage.
2)  The academic standards are highly controversial, are untested and are based on no evidence to support their theories (diminishing classic literature, slowing math, etc.)
3)  Common Core tests collect personally identifiable student data by State Longitudinal Database Systems, federally interoperable.
4) THERE IS NO AMENDMENT PROCESS.  The standards are under copyright.  Local control is gone.
Here are some videos that will help you learn the agenda of Common Core.
Seton Hall University – Professor Christopher Tienken: http://vimeo.com/58461595
Concerned Women of America – Jane Robbins:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coRNJluF2O4  (five part series)
Utahns Against Common Core – Alisa Ellis, Christel Swasey, Renee Braddy:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYj-HDDrL4w
Heritage Foundation Conference on Common Core – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P40GaKlIwb8
Restore Oklahoma Public Education – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTbMLjk-qRc
Glenn Beck t.v. on common core   – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-uAi1I_6Ds
Kansas School Board hears parents against common core – http://www.wibw.com/home/localnews/headlines/Parents-Against-Common-Core-Inti-207448271.html
Thank you for studying this issue very carefully.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher and Mom

Video: Kansas Parents, Students, Teachers Against Common Core   Leave a comment

http://www.wibw.com/home/localnews/headlines/Parents-Against-Common-Core-Inti-207448271.html

Start at second 23 to see and hear the parents, teachers and students speaking out against Common Core.

 

 

Posted May 17, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

The Vehicle of Our Educational Future   2 comments

Common Core:  The Vehicle of our Educational Future

–Driving Away Freedom

The chart below is adapted from J.R. Wilson’s article at Education News, Common Core and the Vehicle of our Future.  Thanks to J.R. Wilson for sharing this insightful metaphor.

 Read the whole article here:

 

For a Car For Common Core
Shopping You decide what car best fits your needs. You shop around   and find the best car for your money. You had no say in these standards. They are not the best. You   didn’t get to test the standards – or see any testing of these standards –   before they were bought for you with your tax money.
Decision to Buy You make the decision to buy, or – just as important – to   not buy. You bought these standards though you may not know it, and   even if you protested their purchase. The decision to buy, or to not buy, was   never up to you.
Purchase You get to select the make, model, package, and options   you want. You don’t know what you’re buying. The Common Core began   with math and language arts standards. Then it included tests; then social   studies, science, and civics; then curricular materials; a data system; and   an early learning program. Then it included public colleges.
Selling Points Most car salesmen are knowledgeable about the features of   the car. Buyers still need to be responsible and do their own fact checking. Many of the selling points used to sell these standards   sound wonderful, but in truth are deceptive.  The deeper you dig, the more dismayed you become.
Costs You know exactly how much the car will cost you once you   have settled on a price. Once the car is paid for it is yours. There was no state cost analysis. Costs will be ongoing.   The public does not own Common Core and has no ability to change it although   they must pay.
Safety & Quality Control The car has to meet required safety standards. The   automaker has put the car and many components through a lot of testing and   checks to make sure the components work well together. There are no required safeguards to protect our children’s   academic success, their future, and our liberty. It is unknown how anyone   will be held accountable for outcomes.
Insurance You can get insurance for your car when you buy it. No insurance is available although you still have to pay   premiums. There is no protection for children’s academic success or   liberties.
Maintenance You can take the car to the dealer or any other auto   mechanic. If you don’t like the car, you can get rid of it and buy a   different car. There is no dealer for repair. Modifications can only be   made by the owners (two non-government entities). Parents or teachers cannot   change the standards.
Warranty Most cars come with a warranty. No warranty is available.
Lemon Laws There are some protections provided by state and federal   lemon laws. There are no lemon law protections.
CarFax Records of maintenance and repairs are kept in a database   with information available to others. The data is compiled in a state longitudinal data system   with intergovernmental access to data, without parental knowledge or   permission and with no opt-out alternative.

Georgia Governor Signs Executive Order to Stop D.O.E. Push for Common Core   1 comment

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/may/15/governor-attempts-prevent-common-core-mutiny-his-g/

There’s a very interesting article in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal.  Apparently, the governor of Georgia feels the heat that the Common Core controversy has generated.  He believes he can save the state from Common Core’s federal ties by writing an executive order against it.

 

RADIO SHOW: IDAHO REPORTER.COM AND OTHER NEWS   Leave a comment

Nice to see our neighbors to the North are talking about Common Core.  Here are two recent radio programs about Common Core from the Idaho Reporter.

http://www.idahoreporter.com/2013/stacey-knudsen-of-idahoansforlocaleducation-com-discusses-common-core-academic-standards-on-the-austin-hill-show/

http://www.idahoreporter.com/2013/jamie-gass-education-policy-researcher-at-the-pioneer-institute-of-boston-ma-discusses-common-core-academic-standards-in-idaho-schools-calling-it-a-nationalized-school-standards-movemen/

Additional news –nationwide– all about the Common Core controversy:

Ed Week: New Attack on Common Core From Pennsylvania Democrats

Ed Week (Pioneer cited): Common-Core Pushback to the Pushback: Who Has the Political Mojo?

“Opponents of the common core are smelling blood in the water and are trying various methods to diversify their portfolio of attacks. On May 2, several anti-common-core groups and individuals held a “Twitter rally” to #stopcommoncore, and afterwards provided an analysis of anti-common-core tweets from the rally. The stats, provided to me by Jamie Gass of Pioneer Institute, showed that the rally produced 14,970 uses of the #stopcommoncore hashtag during the rally, which reached a peak at about 9 p.m. The analysis claimed that it had a “spread” of nearly 9.8 million Twitter accounts, referencing the number of accounts that “follow” those who tweeted or re-tweeted the hashtag.”

WaPo/AFT Prez/Natl Tests: Why we need a moratorium on the high stakes of testing

Heritage: Union Leader — Put Stakes Associated with Common Core Tests on Hold

PA: Lawmakers hear case for Common Core school standards–Opponents to curriculum bombard reps with letters and emails http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-pa-common-core-education-0514-20130514,0,4871015.story

PA: Common Core — Differences get aired at the Capitol

MI: Debate on Common Core Held in Brighton

GA state senator: Educational Accountability Should Be Local, Not Federal

GA: Is Common Core all it’s cracked up to be?

Stanford’s James Milgram, the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on common core math standards, arguing they leave students two grade levels behind their international counterparts in math by grade 8.”

MO: Common Core opponents form group to educate public

KS: Kansas Common Core critics voice concerns

KS: Kansas Common Core Critics To Voice Concerns

KS TV: Common Core Initiative Frustrates Parents And Educators

ID: Idaho group forms in opposition to state implementation of Common Core standards

ID: Motives behind Common Core Standards dubious

CA: CCSS — 21st century skills and shifts

“The new common core standards for English Language Arts differ from the previous way of instructing because they’re shifting toward new 21st century skills…teaching solely literature-based material is out…The new Common Core State Standards are moving away from traditional direct instruction models and expecting teachers to transition to more student-centered models. Instead of being the sage on the stage, teachers will become more of the guide on the side…”

 

 

 

 

 

Posted May 15, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Marc Tucker at it again: “The United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”   4 comments

There aren’t many people of whom you can correctly say that this person is a conspirator against the America we all know and cherish.  But Marc Tucker fits into that category, indisputably.

(Evidence:  His 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, which was archived in the Congressional Record, showed his twisted vision of a new form of government that would micromanage every step of the citizens’ lives, using schooling as the facade for the control.  Read it here.)

Marc Tucker’s been arguing his point in academic circles for a long time.  He got a recent beating-up by the brilliant Professor Yong Zhao for his controllist ideas.  But he doesn’t give up.

Marc Tucker has long been ambitious to break down all that represents freedom in education.

BUT NOW:

The Center for American Progress (which “progresses” America away from the Constitution) published this recent report in which Tucker asserts, among other things, that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Here’s a little taste of what his report proposes:

If Americans are  going to decide which level of government we want to run our education systems,  the only realistic choice is the state. No one wants a national education system  run by the federal government, and the districts cannot play that  role.              

                                                                                          [Mr. Tucker-- why not?  Why wouldn't districts play that role?  --Silly man.]

…Each state needs to consolidate in its state department of  education the policymaking and implementation authority that now resides in a  welter of state-level commissions, agencies, and other independent  bodies.  And the United States will have to largely  abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is  to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies,  much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local  control.

….I  propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in  education governance, at the expense of “local control,” and of the federal  government. In this plan, school funding would be the responsibility of the  state, not the locality, and the distribution of state funds for schools would  have nothing to do with the distribution of local property wealth. Thus the  governance roles of the local districts, as well as the federal government,  would be significantly decreased. Independent citizen governing boards would be  eliminated. The line of political accountability would run to mayors and  governors through their appointees. At the state level, the governance of the  schools, higher education, early child- hood education and youth services would  all be closely coordinated through the governance system. Though the role of the  federal government would be curtailed, there are some very important national  functions that must be served in a modern education system. I propose that a new  National Governing Council on Education be established, composed of  representatives of the states and of the federal government, to create the  appropriate bodies to oversee these functions…”

Did Tucker really think that WE THE PEOPLE were going to roll over and give in to his constitution-slaughtering dream to end local control and to permit governmental tyranny over education?

Really?

I believe that WE THE PEOPLE will stand up for our children.

Tucker’s 1992 socializing-America letter to Hillary may have partially come to pass.  But he will not win this one.  Because this time, we are awake.

Does Freedom of Religion Have Anything to do with Common Core?   3 comments

A student from Colorado wrote today, asking this question.  Does Common Core infringe on freedom of religion?
I’m not a lawyer, but I am a thinker, and this is what I think:
All freedoms depend on the most fundamental freedom, freedom of religion.
The freedom to educate according to the dictates of local (parental and teacher) conscience is –without question– sorely infringed by Common Core.
So, if freedom of conscience is related to freedom of religion, which I feel it is, then Common Core is guilty of bashing both.
Evidence of the harm done by the Common Core Initiative to individual freedom of conscience is found in many things, including:
1.  the alteration of parental consent to private student data being accessed (see E.P.I.C lawsuit against Dept. of Education to understand this better);
2. the fact that Common Core is under copyright by unelected organizations;
3. the fact that Common Core standards are under federal control, and cannot be added to by more than 15% and that the federal government also mandates doing federal “reviews” of  tests and collected data.
4. Common Core tests, too, cannot be seen by parents or teachers (at least not in Utah.)
5.  The testing groups are building model curriculum which they will sell.  No local voice in that.
6.  Bill Gates and Pearson have partnered to build curriculum to align with Common Core, and both Gates and Sir Michael Barber (Pearson CEA) are socialists who have openly admitted they want to see America politically transformed to be more like England or other less-free countries, where there is top-down control.  They have a near monopoly on all American textbooks today, through Common Core alignment.
7. There is no amendment process — no way at all to give a local voice to local conscience, concerning the common core system.
Being angry is not very productive.  What we really need are active people who are working, writing op-eds, making videos, doing social media, speaking to legislatures and to school boards and holding virtual or actual rallies and presentations to raise public awareness.  Activists are sorely, sorely needed to overpower the propaganda machine that Bill Gates and Obama have built to “support” common core.
For more understanding of the fundamental role of freedom of religion to freedom of education, read what Imprimis Magazine of Hillsdale College has to say.

Orem, Utah – Video Presentation about Common Core by Three Moms   8 comments

Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.

State School Board Seen as “Unaccountable Bureaucrats”   12 comments

I appreciate Rep. Brian Greene’s recent statement on his Facebook page, in reference to the recent KSL article.  He said that the state school board should not ask the Legislature  “to validate the board’s adoption of Common Core by quashing public opposition to it. ” 
   Amen.
Brian Greene shared a link.
15 hours ago
Funny how the state school board wants to make it clear that they have full authority over public education, but want the Legislature to validate their adoption of CC  by quashing public opposition to it. If the Board is so committed to CC, they need to begin acting like the elected officers they are and take their message directly to the voters and stop acting like unaccountable bureaucrats.
The State School Board has unanimously passed two resolutions that state official positions on the Utah Core Standards and the security of personal student information.

Want to see more from

Gov Pence of Indiana Puts Common Core in TIME OUT: “Education is a Local Function”   2 comments

Indiana’s Governor Pence has signed the “Common Core ‘pause’ legislation” bill.  It puts a time-out on Common Core implementation so that legislators, parents, teachers and school boards can have the time they were denied previously, to actually vet and analyze the Common Core educational system.

How I wish Governor Herbert would do the same.

How I wish we had a governor, newspapers, a state school board and local school boards whose actions showed they truly valued local control, that all-important principle of our country’s founding.  But they do not.  They prioritize being the same as other states over maintaining the power to run our own lives,  and they value that common core over having academically legitimate, non-experimental standards.

It is a Utah tragedy.  Not so in Indiana.

IndyStar reports:

“The bill requires public input meetings and a new vote on whether to continue implementing the Common Core by the end of 2014 by the State Board of Education, which originally approved common Core in 2010.

Critics of Common Core, which was adopted by Indiana’s state board in 2010, say the criteria are less rigorous than Indiana’s prior standards and adopting them would mean giving up too much power over the setting of standards.

But supporters argue Indiana could fall behind by backing out, as textbook publishers and standardized test makers — including those who make college entrance exams — are moving quickly to adapt to the new standards.

“I have long believed that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that our curriculum is developed by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said in a news release. “The legislation I sign today hits the pause button on Common Core so Hoosiers can thoroughly evaluate which standards will best serve the interests of our kids.”  

Read the rest here.

Ask Utah Businesses to Stop Pushing Common Core and Prosperity 2020   3 comments

On August 9, 2012, two groups sent a mass mailer to all legislators in Utah.

The two groups are  Prosperity 2020,   a business group led by our Governor, and a politcal action group Education First, who say they are a business-led movement concered with accountability.   They do explain that their vision is to “champion educational investment,” but they never explain who is accountable to whom, and under what law they assume authority for such accountability.

Since when do business leaders take such an interest in elementary schools and secondary schools?  What are all the reasons for this going out of their way– just altruism?  What do they hope to gain?  Why are they promoting the awful, untested experiment of Common Core? What will be the intended or unintended consequences of having businesses influence what’s taught in our schools? 

They use the claim of “consensus” rather than persuading others that their group and its goals are based on a legitimate constitutional or voter-based foundation.

Has anyone noticed the extreme similarities between Prosperity 2020′s goals and Obama’s 2020 vision?  Has nobody noticed how many “2020″ groups exist nationally and internationally? Why isn’t anyone questioning Prosperity 2020 in the local news?

Well, this is what last summer’s letter said.

————————-

PROSPERITY 2020

IT STARTS WITH EDUCATION

August 9, 2012

RE:  SUPPORT FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

Utah business leaders have organized a movement– Prosperity 2020– to advance educational investment and innovation.  We share a common vision with Education First, a citizens group dedicated to improved accountability, innovation and increased investment for education in Utah.  Our vision is that Utah’s educated and trained workforce will propel Utah to enduring prosperity

Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business led education movement in state history.

During the 2012 legislative session, Prosperity 2020 championed Common Core implementation accompanied by robust student assessment…

Business leaders have found consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core… We stand with… our state board of education in moving forward with Common Core….

Prosperity 2020 and Education First are prepared to again champion educational investment and innovation during the 2013 legislative session…

———————–

And on and on the letter goes.

I am concerned about the effect of public-private partnerships on true capitalism and individual representation.  It appears that Prosperity 2020 and Education First are concerned primarily about the economy, not about the well being of children or teachers.  Evidence for this lies in the fact that even the state school board admits there is no evidence to support the theories upon which the Common Core experiment is built– it’s based on unfounded “consensus” and money-hungry “trust.”

These groups represent businesses and a political action committee, linking arms with the governing powers of Utah’s education system– for financial gain.

It’s scary.

Do you know about public-private-partnerships?  Study it.

“What is a public-private partnership? What purposes were they supposedly created to serve? What, on the other hand, is free enterprise? Are the two compatible? In answering these questions we shall see that although advocates of public-private partnerships frequently speak of economic development, public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice being built…  -Dr. Steven Yates (Professor Yates’ white paper is available here. )

His main points are these:

  • Public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice
  • The individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective
  • Public-private partnerships bring about a form of “governance” alien to the founding principles of Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed
  • Vocationalism in education makes sense if one’s goals are social engineering, since it turns out worker bees who lack the  tools to think about the policies shaping their lives

By not questioning the motivations and the possibly unintended consequences of these public-private partnerships, we set ourselves up to lose even more local control and voter representation.

Let’s analyze Prosperity 2020 a little bit more.  Let’s not “consensus” our way to disaster.

Video: Heritage Foundation Conference Panel About Common Core   2 comments

Heritage Foundation hosted a multi-day conference recently in Orlando.  Below is a video which is available at Heritage Foundation’s website and on YouTube, taken from  a panel at that conference, which was followed by Q & A about Common Core.

Conference Keynote speaker Michelle Malkin, recipient of the 2013 Breitbart Award for Excellence in Journalism  was an attendee at the panel that discussed the Common Core.

Panelists included Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation, Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core, and me.

Fighting the Adoption of Common Core-aligned Science Standards and Textbooks   1 comment

None of us have enough time to process, comprehend and then fight against all of the intrusions on our time and our God-given rights and liberty.

But some things are more important than others.  And fighting the adoption of Common Core-aligned science standards and textbooks must be high on the To-Do list.

Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman explains it in a great article found here.  http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards

She writes: “Individual liberty advocates counter that centralization in education is as foolish and damaging as centralizing the economy. They note the ideological tendencies of science education toward politics as a substitute for actual science, particularly in the area of highly debatable global warming alarmism, which is falsely assumed as reality in these standards. The standards also promote a simplified understanding of science and are still incoherent despite revisions…. They ignore central scientific concepts and push a progressive teaching style that has been proven to erode student learning…”

Yet textbook companies are rewriting science to align to the false assumptions of common core, so even those states who wisely rejected the common core or who aim to do so, will likely end up with common core textbooks anyway.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my local and state school boards and superintendents today.

Dear Superintendent and School Boards,
Our homeschooling group attended the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City yesterday. What a wonderful museum.  The Mummy exhibit was fascinating, the hands-on digital learning activities were great, the craft workshop and prosthetics exhibits and art were absolutely engaging for visitors of all ages.
But in the multi-room exhibit entitled “Human Rights Exhibit,” visitors were shown not only ecology art, but vocabulary words in the context of the claim that human behavior is killing plant and animal life –and will likely kill off the human race.  There were paintings of futuristic apartment projects teetering dangerously close to the ocean, on islands and cliffs.  The captions stated that because of the FACT of global warming and oceanic flooding, people will be living like this.
I use this as an example of the unscientific assumptions and lies being taught all around us, which are also loading the common core-aligned science standards and science textbooks coming our way.
Let’s not turn a blind eye to the ongoing politically-based rewrite of actual science.  Let’s stand independent of this.  Let’s actually teach the kids hard science based on settled facts as we did in all the wise years up till now.
For a detailed list of news articles and science reviews of Common Core science standards and textbooks, please read this.
http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards
We have Martell Menlove’s word that Utah will never adopt Common Core science and social studies standards.  But with the majority of textbook companies belonging to the monopoly of the insanely unrepresentative system of Common Core, we as a state have to go out of our way to find true science for our kids.  Let’s do it.
Thanks for listening.
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
Heber City
——————————————————-
Green Insanity in the Schools Update:
Update from Illinois:  http://www.christianconservativeresistance.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-i-was-banned-from-my-childrens.html
You have to read this woman’s blog.  First, she and her husband protested the Disney-like green propaganda film that was shown to the elementary school children to “teach” them that humans are destroying the earth. Then she was banned from volunteering in the school.  Then she was reinstated.  Sigh.
——

News Roundup on Common Core   2 comments

Michelle Rhee: Reframe Common Core As a Global-Competitiveness Issue http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/05/michelle_rhee_defends_common_c.html

WaPo: Eighth grader: What bothered me most about new Common Core test

UT: Federal interference in education

FL: Collier parents raise concerns over Common Core Standards

FL: Hillsborough School Board frets about new Common Core standards

GA state senator: Common Core sacrifices sovereignty

MO: Common Core meeting draws skeptical audience

Posted May 8, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Bill Gates: Common Core Must Align Standards to Curriculum and Tests – VIDEO   2 comments

Many people are still under the impression that “Common Core only sets a minimum standard.”

They believe localities are free to improve meaningfully upon the standards.  I wish I could believe them.  Why don’t I?

Bill Gates speaks about Common Core’s need to align all curriculum and tests together.  After watching this, you cannot say that Common Core only consists of minimum standards.  It’s a complete control package.

So what, you say.

So, one man says we’re aligning the standards to our monopoly-held textbook curriculum and the common core tests.

What can one man do?

Realize that Gates, the world’s 2nd richest man, has paid $5 BILLION to reform OUR education system– without going through the channels of state legislatures.

Gates paid unelected trade groups (NGA and CCSSO) who wrote and copyrighted  the standards, as well as paying countless institutions to advocate for Common Core –before assessing the legitimacy of the standards– these include the national  PTA, Harvard University, Education Week Magazine, etc., –they obeyed Gates’ directive to advocate for Common Core, or forfeit the grant money.  Gates’ company, Microsoft, and Gates’ partners, notably Pearson, gain immeasurable financial benefits from this lockstep system which circumvents the American process of voters and legislatures who used to be in charge of major transformations of the American governance system.

Ask yourself this:  how will any school or teacher give students much beyond the Common Core when merit pay and school closures depend upon getting high student scores on the Common Core tests, which are under mandate to be federally reviewed?  Federal tax money being withheld is an additional carrot in front of our noses.

The tests will drive the curriculum.  They are both to be based on Common Core, the unamendable and copyrighted standards we “voluntarily” adopted.

While top lawyers are advising our state legislatures not to worry– that we can “get out” any time we like, realize that David Coleman– lead architect of the ELA portion of Common Core (despite the fact that he’s not an educator and is openly hostile toward narrative writing and calls for the diminishing of classic literature in English classrooms)– this same David Coleman is now College Board President.  He’s aligning the SAT and ACT to Common Core.

How effective will it be to drop out of common core later?  The time is now.  The time is before every textbook in the nation has been rewritten to align.  The time is before all teachers are forced to teach to the test because of the narrowing of the curriculum to the standards and tests.

The time to say no to Common Core should have been before we adopted Common Core– but as you know, legislatures were bypassed.

We were never given the chance to say no.

So, the Common Core is a monster larger and more powerful than most people realize.  But it can still be stopped and it must be stopped.  WE are THE PEOPLE.

We know our rights.

We know Common Core is illegal.

It’s educationally illegitimate.

It’s costing us our birthright and not giving us even the mess of pottage in return.

Millions of parents and teachers are fighting to get rid of it.

If  you haven’t already, please join us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle Rhee v. Constitutional Rights   1 comment

John Merrow’s Investigation of Michelle Rhee.

I’m posting this link to Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Why?

Yesterday, a Utah State School Board Member told me that Michelle Rhee is telling legislators to “reframe the debate” about Common Core– so that instead of it being about local control and the VOICE of the GOVERNED, it’s about being more and more like CHINA.

The school board member seemed to think this was a good idea.

Insane, yes.

Dismissive of the constitutional rights of Americans, yes.

Revealing of the fact that Rhee and her group care only about making money off Common Core, yes.

As you read the post from Diane Ravitch’s blog on the subject of John Merrow’s investigation of Michelle Rhee, please notice that she mentions the RIGHT supporting common core. And we all know Obama supports common core.

This is not a left v. right or a Democrat v. Republican issue.

This is about saving America for every last one of us.

Please pay attention.

Common Core ends local control in MULTIPLE WAYS:

It’s in the financial monopoly over educational materials held by the marriage of Pearson and Gates and the copycat alignment of 99% of all textbooks nationwide.

It’s in the political takeover of unelected boards that do not answer to the voters, groups that have copyrighted the standards and have left no amendment process for states.

It’s in the common core tests, which are federally reviewed and micromanaged and from which student data is given to the federal portal called the Edfacts Exchange for anyone– even researchers and vendors– to peruse.

It’s in the academic standards themselves, which are educational malpractice— unproven, unpiloted, unvetted, and relying on nutty theories like slashing classic literature and delaying the time math algorithms,get taught— standards which were passionately rejected by key members of the core validation committee,  James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky.

It’s in the lack of any state cost analysis, with states throwing out perfectly good, actually vetted, curriculum, and bearing the burden of paying for all this implementation, teacher training, textbook purchasing, technology sales of Common Core aligned structures.

We must get out.

Fast.

Yet Another Teacher Speaks Out: a Letter to Utah Legislature   4 comments

“There is much more involved here, than just a list of standardsif all the facts were known,

it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.”

- Recently retired Utah Teacher Margaret Wilkin

Margaret Wilkin has given permission to post her letter to the Utah legislature.  She retired last year from Canyons District.

 

May 4, 2013

Senator Aaron Osmond

South Jordan, Utah 84095

 

Dear Aaron,

 

… On March 21, 2013, I was asked to return to the elementary school from which I retired last June, to give a presentation at their Literacy Night.  Some of the parents and students I taught in the past came down to the room where I was to say hello. In the course of the conversation, a mother of one of the smartest and most conscientious students I have ever had, said that her daughter was struggling in math.

I was surprised, but told her mother that teachers are required to teach to a rigid schedule and must move on to the next unit of study, even if the students don’t understand it.

Sticking to the schedule is more important than spending the time making sure everyone understands.

I knew as a teacher what I didn’t like about Common Core, as well as what had taken place leading up to it, but I didn’t have any concrete facts; therefore, I couldn’t give the parents any verifiable information other than my own story. I have spent the last five weeks researching and learning about Common Core. There are so many facets to Common Core, and I still don’t know everything, but I know much more than I did five weeks ago and enough to know that even without my own experience, I could not support it.

This morning I saw the e-mail from Diana Suddreth, the STEM Coordinator at the USOE, asking the Curriculum Director in each school district in Utah to solicit “success stories” from teachers using Common Core standards. She has further stated in her e-mail that she has seen marvelous and exciting things happening in classrooms since the implementation of Common Core. She stated that these “success stories” are needed to counteract the “vicious attacks” by those opposed to Common Core.

Aaron, are you aware that you and Senator Weiler are named by Diana Suddreth as the only two legislators to contact with the Common Core “success stories”? Am I to understand that you and Senator Weiler are therefore supportive of the Common Core Standards for the State of Utah?  If you are, I find this confusing since you have spoken so often of the important principle of local and State control of education. Common Core takes away local and State control, and puts the control into the hands of the Federal Government.

My response to Diana Suddreth is:

1. Utah has always had standards which teachers were required to follow.  2. It is not a matter of “voila” Common Core is here and at long last, wonderful things are happening in classrooms!  Exciting and wonderful things happen in classrooms because of the teacher’s own hard work and creativity along with the freedom to decide how to best teach the standards that make for success in the classroom, NOT because a list of Federally mandated Common Core standards.  3. Tax payers asking legitimate questions of elected officials and those employed at the USOE, and having the expectation of them to have studied the issues more carefully than the people asking the questions “is not too much to ask”.  Asking questions is not a “vicious attack”.  This is the future of our children’s education at stake as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here is my unsolicited “success” story about Common Core:

Please note that I am speaking only to what is happening in the Canyons School District and at the elementary level. And I am speaking out because I am retired. Those teachers in the school system are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out against Common Core and against the policies of the District.

The teachers have been given a rigid schedule which MUST be followed. In the morning, there is to be three hours of reading and language arts followed in the afternoon by two hours of math. P.E. and computer time has been shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a week.  That leaves 15 minutes of time each day for one of the following: music, art, science and social studies.

The teachers are monitored regularly by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel to make sure they are following the schedule.

Last year, when I was still teaching, the math portion of Common Core was put into place with the District’s purchase of the Pearson-Scott Foresman math series. As of last year, the “curriculum map” or math schedule did not match the organization of the book.  So every night, I had to hunt, using many sources, for what I was to teach the next day in order to follow the curriculum map. This is still the case as of this year.

We were to teach certain concepts during specified blocks of time and sometimes these concepts had no relationship to each other. After the specified blocks of time are completed, the students are tested in the computer lab, mainly so that the district can make sure the teachers are following the schedule. Even if the students do not understand the concepts being taught, the teacher must move on to the next block in order to follow the mandated schedule.

This removes the teacher’s ability to teach according to the needs of her/his particular class. One of the basic tenants of teaching is: monitor and then adjust to the needs of your students. The schedule as required by the District makes this very difficult to do.

We skim over the surface of many concepts. If you have seen any of the ridiculous examples of teaching two-digit multiplication and addition that people have posted on Facebook, yes, I have taught this because it is on the test.

I was in the classroom through the time leading up to the implementation of Common Core, as math was being “dumbed down” and during the time when we were told not to teach multiplication facts, two and three digit multiplication and long division to fourth graders. How could any respectable teacher not teach this?  This is not the case at the present time (times tables and long division and two and three digit multiplication are again being taught); however, the time allotted to teach these concepts is not long enough for many kids to grasp the idea.

My ability to be an effective math teacher was GREATLY diminished by having to follow the Common Core standards.

For this current school year, Canyons District purchased the Pearson reading series, “Reading Street” to match up with Common Core. (A perfectly good reading series which was not worn out was discarded. Why couldn’t this discarded series just have been supplemented with additional materials instead of wasting taxpayer money on new books?)

Reading and language arts, as in math, requires strict adherence to the schedule with regular monitoring by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel.

The students have 8 math and 6 reading computerized tests as well as three oral reading tests administered by the district. The upper grades have an additional test called MAZE. This does not count the end of the year testing in the computer lab. After the results are back the teacher is called into the principal’s office, along with the reading specialist, to account for the scores.

These tests are in addition to the regular weekly spelling, reading and math tests from the book publisher and teacher for the report card grades.

Speaking of report cards, we were told last year that the District was going to have workshops for parents so that they could understand the new report card which was going to be aligned with the Common Core standards. Wouldn’t the necessity of needing a workshop to teach parents how to interpret an elementary school report card, tell the District that this was a bad idea?

The lower performing students have just plain given up with this constant testing and will not even try any more. Teachers report that some of their students’ scores are actually getting worse. And again, teachers are called into the principal’s office to be grilled about what the teacher is going to do to bring up the scores, so that EVERY student is meeting the required benchmarks, when they are already doing everything they can to teach the material. Apparently, a child’s developmental readiness or ability is not taken in to consideration.

Is the child’s or teacher’s value only a test score?

The pressure on the teachers from the administration is INTENSE and many teachers say all they can do is teach to the test.

A second grade teacher recounted that she didn’t even dare have her class color a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because of the constant micromanaging by the administration and coloring a shamrock is not on the schedule.

Many teachers are saying they just can’t do this anymore. The joy and creativity of teaching in elementary school has been taken away by Common Core and the excessive testing. Kids and teachers both are burning out. Is this really what we want for our children?

Because of Common Core our freedom is being lost even down to the lowest level: the classroom.

There are MANY reasons to oppose Common Core. Here are just a few:

1. Data and assessment driven.  2. Adopted by the State School Board by accepting stimulus money and agreeing to the Common core standards before they had even been written.  3. Family rights to privacy, as spelled out in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), have been essentially amended making computer testing a major tool in gathering information about students that should remain private. This is known as Data Mining.  4. Adopting these standards takes decision making out of State and local school boards and districts, but, even more importantly, out of the hands of teachers and parents. 5. The State Legislature was bypassed by not being included in the decision of whether or not to adopt Common Core.

There are so many layers to Common Core. There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards. My experience is just one part, but an important part. Frankly, it seems to me that if all the facts were known, it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.

I am not against Common Core because I have been around for SO long that I don’t want change, but because I can see the harm it is doing to my profession and to students. The freedom of the parents, teachers, school districts and states to choose what is best for them has been taken away and will be controlled by the Federal government.

May I recommend to you a video presentation explaining Common Core that has been posted on You Tube. It is one of the best presentations I have seen. If you type in Google “You Tube Subversive Threat to Education”, you should be able to find it. It is a current talk given to a group in Tennessee.

Thank you again for all the hours of service you give to our community and State.

Sincerely,

Margaret Wilkin

How Long Until Utah “Complies” With Federal Requests for Hundreds of Data Points on Individuals?   13 comments

Today I called Jerry Winkler, Utah Information Technology Director to ask questions about the federally paid-for  State Longitudinal Database System
He was very gracious and I appreciated his willingness to answer questions.
I asked him if he could verify the information I’d received from the state school board, that the reason that a Utah student is not able to opt out of the SLDS tracking system, is because of limitations of technology.
( I had received that idea from the state school board:  “Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.”
See email here: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/usoe-the-answer-is-no-can-a-student-attend-public-school-without-being-p-20slds-tracked/ )
But Jerry Winkler told me that it’s not a technology limitation.
“It’s a policy question,” he said, and directed me to inquire further about the policy from Carol Lear, the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education.
I shuddered.  I know more than I want to about  Carol Lear, the top U.S.O.E. lawyer.   Just FYI:  Carol Lear told me last year that since “the whole point is to be common” — it was of no importance that there’s no amendment process to Common Core.   She also told me she believed a cost analysis had been done on Common Core in Utah, when there had not –and still has not.   She displayed zero respect for the 10th Amendment and the  General Educational Provisions Act. and told me that she had never heard of the Cooperative Agreement and she thought it was a hoax.  Finally, she refused to respond to further questions and told me to go talk the the public relations department.  With no sense of valiance in defending states’ rights, would Lear balk at caving in to any request the federal Dept. of Education made of Utah?
Back to today:
I asked Jerry Winkler how compliant our state has been, so far, to the requests from the federal government at the Data Quality Campaign and the National Data Collection Model, those federal websites which request hundreds of non-academic data points about children from schools (including nicknames, family, voting, income, health and psychological information, etc.)
He verfied that Utah does submit information gathered by schools to the federal government, but assured me that right now, Utah is giving only aggregated (grouped) information to the federal government (He verified that this takes place at the portal called the Edfacts Exchange )
Winkler said that right now, Utah is keeping dis-aggregated data (personally identifiable data) inside the state at the SLDS database.
“Who or what would change that?” I asked, “At what point will Utah give in to federal requests to give up disaggregated (personal) data to the federal government, as well? Who makes the call to be more “compliant” with the federal requests?
Carol Lear, he said.  She is the one who would make the call.
Yikes.
Jerry Winkler also told me he believed that students could opt out of being tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System at the local LEA level, but if the data was entered by the LEA, it would automatically be sent to the SLDS and Utah Data Alliance, at which point opting out would end.
I had not heard this.  I will be asking my LEA how to accomplish that.
I asked Jerry Winkler if he had read of the Department of Education’s destructive alterations to federal FERPA (privacy law) and of the lawsuit over the matter, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
He had not heard of it. 

The General Educational Provisions Act (G.E.P.A. Law) – Yes, Common Core is Illegal.   11 comments

The shortest, most important post I’ve written:

In addition to the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, a federal law called The General Educational Provisons Act (G.E.P.A.)

 prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:

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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…

 

Read the rest here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232a

Please ask an honest legislator to notice that Obama and Secretary Duncan  openly promote Common Core –and use our taxes to give out grants for common core tests.  Someone has to stop this.

Alyson Williams: Centralized Education By Any Other Name   1 comment

Centralized Education Reform by Any Other Name Would Smell

Reposted from Utahns Against Common Core
by Alyson Williams

Centralized Education Reform

 

Getting caught up in discussions about whether Common Core is “state led” or a federal program seems a fruitless debate of semantics.

What is the danger of a federally controlled education system that makes “state led” sound better? Those who oppose federal control typically oppose a concentration of power that would dictate one set of educational ideals (yes, even standards represent certain values) to the exclusion of others, establishing an intellectual tyranny of sorts.

Whether one sees Common Core as a federal program, or as the product of an extragovernmental cartel of state leaders (aka state-led) and special interests who had no constitutional commission to affect nationwide education policy in the way that they did, the outcome is the same:

Decisions were concentrated into the hands of a select few and the reforms of one ideology were championed (with the help of federal funds) while all other voices were shut out.

In other words, those who argue that this was not an outright federal mandate have a valid point. Common Core is the result of the second scenario, which is even worse than a direct federal mandate (as if No Child Left Behind wasn’t intrusion enough) from our duly elected representatives in Washington D.C.

This process sets an alarming precedent for circumventing our constitutional representative form of government and seems to establish a safe haven for the collusion of public funds and private interests without the traditional oversight established by law at either the federal or the state level.

I question what seems to be a generally accepted notion that Governors and Chief State School Officers have the legal authority to represent the state in making decisions jointly with other states. I see that as the role of Congress.

Common Core was not a “best practice” that was modeled by one state and copied by others. It was a joint initiative that had never been piloted anywhere… an unusual collaboration between the executive branches of State and Federal government and private interests that was brokered by the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was a process that was not openly accountable to “we the people,” that was not subject to open meetings, open records, lobbying restrictions etc.

There is a long history of disagreement over the best way to teach math, or what books and literature are of the most worth. In a free society, this competition of ideas has traditionally been considered a valuable condition that would encourage innovation, preserve liberty, and provide options. When the results of competing ideas and methodologies can be compared, people can make informed decisions and choose for themselves what works best.

Those who comfort themselves with the remaining sliver of local control over curriculum within the confines of the Common Core standards and tests seem strangely willing to trade some of the last vestiges of local control (unlikely to ever be returned once surrendered) to support an untried philosophy of education that is dismissive of the experience and creativity of our best teachers, and of the primary stewardship of parents over their children.

Meanwhile textbooks, summative assessments, prepackaged curriculum and formative assessments grow ever more homogenous as they align to “common” standards, and the benefits of school choice are practically erased.

If this were just about standards that would be one kind of disagreement… but the furor over Common Core is about a fundamental shift in control over education.

This is about how decisions for education, and perhaps even other “state led” initiatives, are governed going forward.

This is about whether those closest to the children and their needs will be marginalized in favor of overgeneralized policy by bureaucrats and educrats.

This is not just about what our kids will learn, but about who gets to decide.

——–

Thank you, Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core.

KrisAnne Hall of Florida Speaks Out   4 comments

Worth watching to the end.

Dr. Stotsky Sets the Record Straight on English Language Arts 70/30% @ USOE   5 comments

Is it logical to say that writing and literature will be effectively taught by all subject teachers?  All teachers do not have adequate training in grammatical, literary and editing background teach writing and literature.  But our Utah State Office is claiming that this will be the case.  A letter, seen below, from Tiffany Hall of the Utah State Office of Education, will serve as evidence.
The USOE is telling legislators and parents that nothing is really being taken away by Common Core, but informational text is being added to English literature in all classes and across all subjects:
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards,” writes Tiffany Hall of USOE, “Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area.” 
Does that make sense?  Can you imagine P.E. teachers, math teachers, and woodworking teachers effectively sharing the burden of teaching reading and writing skills, including literature and informational texts?  This is how we cut down on remedial college work?
Please.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K4URgulWhk
Before I post the USOE’s letter, here are two messages from Dr. Stotsky– a video, (above) and an explanation (below) from an email I received this week dealing with the misleading statements being put out by the Utah State Office of Education.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, as you recall, served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the validity of the standards because they were so academically weak.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Sandra Stotsky

Christel,
This needs to be explained over and over again.  The reading standards for ELA are divided into 10 informational standards and 9 literature standards.  That division goes from K to 12.   It affects high school English as well as middle school English.
It means that over 50% of the reading instruction must be devoted to informational reading and less than 50% to poetry, drama, and fiction.   The 30/70 division is from NAEP and is for the selection of reading passages on NAEP reading assessments.  It is specifically NOT for the English curriculum.
   
Just because David Coleman thinks that the NAEP chart is for the English curriculum doesn’t mean that it is.   He does want informational reading in other subjects.  But he refuses to clarify his stupid misunderstanding of the NAEP percentages.  He doesn’t know how to read tables and charts.
If Tiffany really thinks the 30/70 split means what she thinks it does, ask her how the English teacher can take care of 30% literary reading on a weekly basis (or daily basis) when she only teaches English 20- 25% of the school day or week.   Where is more literary reading to be done to get kids up to the 30% Tiffany thinks kids should be doing?  What other classes will literary reading be done in, if 30% of what kids read every day or every week must be literary and the English teacher is only 1 of 5 subject teachers?
–Dr. Sandra Stotsky
———————-
From USOE’s Tiffany Hall:
Hello—
I appreciate your concern about the Utah Core Standards limiting the study of literature in English classes. I studied and have taught English literature, and if I felt that students were not going to be reading high-quality literature as a part of their K-12 education, I would be devastated.
The study of literature is not limited or reduced by the Standards. Rather, we are looking at a more comprehensive view of literacy that includes a focus on reading information text in all content areas—and not just reading, but reading and writing with purpose and understanding in every subject area. You are correct that we already have these informational  books; we are now focusing on using them more effectively, and in supplementing them with authentic reading from the appropriate content discipline.
The evidence of this can be found in the  Utah Core Standards , which you can read here: http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/LangArts-CE-web.aspx
I’d like to guide you to a few specific places for evidence relative to your concerns about literature and instruction in English Language Arts (ELA) and how the Utah Core Standards are focused on creating a culture of literacy in schools.
On page 3, the Standards state “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.”
This section continues on page 4, where there is a table indicating the recommended distribution of literary and informational passages by grade. This table shows a 50-50% split between literary and informational text in grade 4; 45-55% in grade 8; and 30-70% in grade 12. However, this refers to reading over the entire school day, not in a student’s English Language Arts course alone.  The Standards strive to balance the “reading
of literature with the reading of informational texts, including texts in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects…” The level and quality of reading informational text in all subjects is a critical element of creating independent readers who can read and understand a wide variety of texts that are present in career and college settings.
So what do the Standards say about reading in English Language Arts courses? In addition to literature, they also include literary nonfiction. A good example of what these two categories mean can be found page 65, where literary fiction and literary nonfiction texts are sampled. These are not required texts; the choosing of texts remains a local decision. These are offered to illustrate the range of high-quality reading. For example, these are the sample texts listed for students in grades 11 and 12:Literary Fiction:
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats (1820)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1848)
“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson (1890)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)Literary Non-Fiction:
Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
“Society and Solitude” by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1857)
“The Fallacy of Success” by G. K. Chesterton (1909)
Black Boy by Richard Wright (1945)
“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell (1946)
“Take the Tortillas Out of Your Poetry” by Rudolfo Anaya (1995)

These selections have merit for their content and their writing. An ELA teacher has the opportunity to link themes and subjects across the full range of literary choices: novels, poems, dramatic works, essays, speeches, memoirs, etc. As an English teacher, I always tried to provide a variety of reading choices for students. Great literary works are how we understand other people, other times, and other cultures. Students need examples of many kinds of great writing.

In Appendix B, found here http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Language-Arts-Secondary-Home/APPENDIX-B.aspx, the Standards provide a list of exemplary texts. (These are not required texts, but rather examples of appropriate reading selections.) Please look at the Table of Contents, beginning on page 5, for a listing of readings organized by grade level. You will notice informational readings are included in addition to stories and poetry. Informational reading is an important part of helping students answer questions and learn content in the elementary classroom. However, the topics and presentation are interesting and grade-appropriate. At the elementary level, all subjects are generally taught in the same classroom and by the same teacher, so a wider range of topics is included in these lists.

You’ll notice that by the grades 6-8, the  examples of Informational texts have been grouped by content area (ELA, History/Social Studies, and Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects); the ELA texts are literary nonfiction. And, you will probably also notice that the lists of fiction and poetry contain many of your favorites—there are certainly many of mine, including Chaucer, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Shakespeare.

I completely and fundamentally agree with your statement, beautifully written: “Great writing creates great writers. We learn how to write best from studying great literature. We learn about shared values. We learn the consequences of both good and bad choices without having to experiment personally. We learn about our rich culture and heritage when we study the works of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson and others.” And when I look at the suggested readings in the Standards, these readings are reflected. They are the study of English and Language Arts.

I am not sure from whence the claim that we are replacing literature with “tracts from the EPA” or “dry technical writing” stems. As you have seen in the Standards, the writing is high-quality, appropriate, and interesting.

The Standards outline reading in all the content areas, including writing created by and for scientists, historians, engineers…every field has writing and communication that is important to the work that field supports. While I might not pick up a computer programming manual to read for fun, I know that there are many people who would, and I’m grateful that we are all different in our interests and reading. I am also glad that teachers in all the content areas will choose appropriate informational texts for their students to read and develop content knowledge and communication fluency. As a concerted effort, as a collaborative school, students will have the opportunity to read and learn what they will need to know in our society.

And I will always believe that includes Macbeth and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you for your concern. I hope that examining the evidence—the actual Standards document—has assured you that students in Utah are reading high-quality literature in their ELA classrooms—and reading high-quality writing in all the content areas.

Tiffany Hall, MA, M.Ed.
K-12 Literacy Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note: Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

No More Databases Tracking Our Kids Without Our Consent!   4 comments

I want to share this most VITAL point recently articulated on the Utahns Against Common Core website by Utah parent Oak Norton:

“We totally agree [with the State Office of Education] that we should strengthen privacy laws. In fact, the most secure way to secure our children’s personally identifiable information is to NOT STORE IT IN A DATABASE.  It’s pathetic that the USOE and State Board signed us onto this whole mess with grant and wavier applications and now go running to the legislature (whom they constantly criticize for interfering in education), and ask them to protect them from themselves. HELLO??? Who signed the waivers and applications? The Board President, State Superintendent, and the Governor.

The best way to protect this data is to unwind it.”

Salt Lake Tribune: School Board Denies Governor Herbert’s Request to Increase Local Control of Common Core   3 comments

Before I post the highlights from the Tribune article, I have to make a comment.

I read the two USOE-created resolutions* cited below.  They are written by people who obviously do not understand the recently altered federal FERPA changes which have severely weakened student privacy and parental consent requirements, among other things.  One resolution used the word “erroneous” to describe citizens opposing Common Core’s agenda.  This, for some reason, makes me laugh.  Why?

Because so much of what the Utah State Office of Education does is utterly erroneous, unreferenced, theory-laden and evidence-lacking; it may be nicely based on slick marketing, financial bribes and the consensus of big-government promoters– Bill Gates, Pearson Company, Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, etc but it is nonetheless false.  (“State-led”? “Internationally benchmarked”? Improving Education”? “Respecting student data privacy”? “Retaining local control”?   —NOT.)

It is downright ridiculous (although sad) that the State Office of Education calls those citizens who ask questions armed with documents, facts, references and truth, the “vicious attackers” and the “erroneous.”

Let’s call their bluff.

Let’s insist that the Utah State School Board engage in honest, open, referenced debate with those they label “erroneous.”

It’ll never happen.  They cannot allow that.  They know they have no leg to stand on, or they’d already have provided references and studies showing the Common Core path they chose for Utah was a wise and studied choice.  We’ve asked repeatedly for such honest face-to-face discussion.  We’ve asked them to send someone to debate Common Core.

They have no one to send; sadly, each USOE official and USSB member can only parrot the claims they’ve had parroted to them about Common Core.

Honest study reveals that local control is gone under Common Core, privacy is gone, parental consent is no longer required to track and study a child, and academic standards are FAR from improved.

I pray that level-headed Utah legislators will study this Common Core agenda thoroughly and will act as wisely as those in Indiana have done with their “time-out” bill that halts implementation of Common Core, pending a proper study and vetting of the expensive, multi-pronged academic experiment that uses and tracks children as if they were government guinea pigs.

And now, the Tribune article:

Utah school board denies guv’s Common Core request

 Board rejects request to change paperwork critics see as a commitment to use Common Core academic standards.

By Lisa Schencker

|  Highlights of article reposted from the Salt Lake Tribune

First Published 2 hours ago

Hoping to ease some Utahns’ fears about Common Core academic standards, the Governor’s Office asked the state school board to change an application it submitted last year for a waiver to federal No Child Left Behind requirements.The state school board, however, voted against that request Thursday.

The waiver asked states to identify their choice of academic standards, which outline concepts and skills students should learn in each grade. States either had to check “Option A,” affirming that they had adopted standards “common to a significant number of states,” or “Option B,” indicating their standards had been approved by the state’s higher education institutions.

Utah education leaders checked the first option, as Utah had joined most other states in adopting the Common Core. Critics have decried that decision, saying it tied Utah to the standards.

Christine Kearl, the governor’s education advisor, told board members Thursday that she believes checking Option B would alleviate those concerns without actually having to drop the standards. She said the Governor’s Office hears daily complaints about the Common Core.

“It’s become very political as I’m sure you’re all aware,” Kearl said. “We’re under attack. We try to get back to people and let them know we support the Common Core and support the decision of the state school board, but this has just become relentless.”

But Assistant Attorney General Kristina Kindl warned board members the change would give the state’s higher education system approval power over K-12 standards.

Some board members also bristled at the idea of changing the application, saying it wouldn’t mean much. Former State Superintendent Larry Shumway had already sent the feds a letter asserting that Utah retains control over its standards.

“It just seems like we are caving to political pressure based on things that are not based in actual fact,” said board member Dave Thomas.

Some also wondered whether switching would allay the concerns of foes, who began arguing that the Core was federally tied before Utah applied for the waiver. State education leaders have long responded that the standards were developed in a states-led initiative and leave curriculum up to teachers and districts

Oak Norton, a Highland parent who helped develop a website for the group Utahns Against Common Core, said he was disappointed by the board’s decision against changing the waiver.

“Then we could have looked at adopting our own standards that were higher than the Common Core,” Norton said.

The board did vote to send a resolution* to the governor, lawmakers and the state’s political parties asking them to work with the state school board to support the Common Core for the good of Utah’s students.

The resolution follows a letter sent by members of Congress, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, last week to Senate budget leaders asking them to eliminate “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”

—- —- —–

The Deseret News is carrying Common Core controversial news as well:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765628026/Utah-Common-Core-testing-fraught-with-flaws.html

Salt Lake Tribune: Senator Lee Joins Opposition to Common Core   2 comments

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56236233-78/standards-state-education-lee.html.csp

Utah senator joins others in signing letter opposing the Common Core.

By Lisa Schencker

|Reposted highlights from Salt Lake Tribune article

First Published Apr 29 2013 06:48 pm

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has jumped into the ongoing fray over Common Core State Standards, signing a letter asking Senate budget leaders to “restore state decision-making and accountability.”Lee, along with eight other Republican senators, sent the letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds education on Friday. The letter asks that any future education appropriations bill includes language prohibiting the U.S. Secretary of Education from using the money to implement or require the standards in any way, in hopes of eliminating “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”

“The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children,” the letter says. “Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states , are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.”

In an interview with the Tribune Tuesday, Lee declined to comment on Utah’s adoption of the standards, saying his concern is with keeping the federal government out of state and local education decisions.

“If they choose to adopt them, I hope they do so because they’re relevant standards and local leaders think they’re good standards not because of any federal mandate,” he said of states’ adoption of the standards. He said, so far, he’s noticed “disturbing trends” in the direction of the federal government becoming overly involved in pushing the standards.

Utah proponents of the standards, however, have long fought against arguments that they were federally developed or imposed. The Utah state school board adopted the standards in 2010 in hopes of better preparing students for college and careers. The standards — developed as part of a states-led initiative — outline the concepts and skills students should learn in each grade, while leaving curriculum decisions up to local teachers and districts.

Critics of the standards point out that the federal government, several years ago, encouraged states to adopt the standards as they applied for federal Race to the Top grant money. They also point to a federal requirement that states adopt college- and career-ready standards in order to receive a waiver to No Child Left Behind .

But Utah did not win that money, and to receive waivers, states could adopt either Common Core standards or different standards of their choosing…

lschencker@sltrib.com

Common Core News Roundup: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, Fox News, Manchester Union Leader, Washington Examiner, Indiana Star, Arizona Journal, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, Cincinnati News and more   11 comments

Thanks to Jamie Gass for this compilation of news outlets that are covering the national Common Core controversy.

“The Common Core is in trouble,” said Randi Weingarten, the AFT union president,  “There is a serious backlash in lots of different ways, on the right and on the left.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/turmoil-swirling-around-common-core-education-standards/2013/04/29/7e2b0ec4-b0fd-11e2-bbf2-a6f9e9d79e19_story.html

The Wall Street Journal: New School Standards Spur a Backlash

http://stream.wsj.com/story/latest-headlines/SS-2-63399/SS-2-223674/

The Hill: GOP — White House taking over state education policy

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/297219-gop-says-obama-administration-taking-over-education-policy-with-no-input-from-congress

Washington Post: Turmoil swirling around Common Core education standards

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/turmoil-swirling-around-common-core-education-standards/2013/04/29/7e2b0ec4-b0fd-11e2-bbf2-a6f9e9d79e19_story.html

Washington Times: Common Core school standards hit another roadblock, this time in Indiana

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2013/apr/29/common-core-school-standards-hit-another-roadblock/

Washington Times: Indiana legislature latest to halt application of Common Core school standards

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/29/resistance-to-the-nationwide-k-12-school-standards/

Michigan: Michigan House Blocks Common Core Implementation

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/04/25/michigan-house-blocks-common-core-implementation

Michigan: Michigan Pulling Away from Common Core

http://blog.heritage.org/2013/04/26/michigan-pulling-away-from-common-core/

Atlanta: Are we rushing Common Core without field testing it?

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/apr/30/are-we-rushing-common-core-without-field-testing-i/

New York Daily News: Teachers union chief Randi Weingarten has it correct on Common Core

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/randi-wrong-article-1.1331669

Washington Post: AFT’s Weingarten urges moratorium on high stakes linked to Common Core tests

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/30/afts-weingarten-urges-moratorium-on-high-stakes-linked-to-new-standardized-tests/

Washington Examiner: AFT’s Randi Weingarten calls for time out on Common Core testing

http://washingtonexaminer.com/afts-randi-weingarten-calls-for-time-out-on-common-core-testing/article/2528627

Fox News/NY: Common Core standards facing criticism

http://www.myfoxny.com/story/22124434/common-core-standards-facing-criticism

NJ: Concern Expressed Over Common Core System and Privacy Issues

http://thealternativepress.com/articles/concern-expressed-over-common-core-system-and-pri

Indy Star: Hoosiers are right to be wary about Common Core

http://www.indystar.com/article/20130430/OPINION03/304300036/Hoosiers-right-wary-about-Common-Core

Mississippi: Beware of the Common Core State Standards

http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20130501/OPINION/305010158/Beware-Common-Core-State-Standards

OH: Teachers Union Worried About Common Core Tests

http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/2013/05/01/ohio-teachers-union-worried-about-common-core-tests/

OH: Growing criticism of Common Core

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130429/NEWS/304290016/Growing-criticism-Common-Core

NH: Common core education talk draws opponents in Manchester

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130501/NEWS04/130509962/0/FRONTPAGE

TN: Common Core pushback in TN

http://www.examiner.com/article/current-common-core-standards-to-change

TN: New common core standards raise questions in Tenn.

http://www.theleafchronicle.com/viewart/20130501/NEWS01/305010030/New-common-core-standards-raise-questions-Tenn-

TN: New Common Core Standards Raise Questions

http://www.newschannel5.com/story/22131452/new-common-core-standards-raise-questions

TN: Critics speak out about new Common Core standards

http://www.wkrn.com/story/22124884/critics-speak-out-about-new-common-core-standards

Huff Post: Common Core Stakes Moratorium Proposed By Unions As National Standards Face Backlash

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/common-core-moratorium-teacher-evaluations_n_3187419.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

AZ: Common Core draws praise, pejoratives

http://www.azjournal.com/2013/05/01/common-core-standards-draw-praise-pejoratives/

PA: Opponents say Common Core oversimplifies education, lessens local control

http://articles.dailyamerican.com/2013-04-30/news/38938363_1_common-core-state-standards-early-childhood-education-school-board-member

FL: Who Supports, Opposes The Common Core?

http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/05/01/who-supports-opposes-the-common-core/

Christian Post: Eight US Senators Join Fight Against Common Core

http://www.christianpost.com/news/eight-senators-join-fight-against-common-core-94876/

WY: The dangers of ‘Common Core’

http://trib.com/opinion/letters/the-dangers-of-common-core/article_0a192301-8dc4-5b70-8177-206c5bc8f020.html

National Twitter Rally TODAY: 9pm EST 7pm MST to #StopCommonCore   2 comments

Another  #Stopcommoncore  Twitter Rally

Just a week ago Parent Led Reform rallied 2,493,308 Twitter users to #Stopcommoncore.  A second Twitter Rally is planned for today, Thursday,  May 2, at 9pm EST- 7pm MST to include participation of working parents, educators and citizens.

Parent Led Reform will host the rally as a collaborative project with Truth In American Education, designed to share the research diligently collected by parents and citizens concerned about the government’s push for national common standards in education.

This rally is an encore of the April 16 #Stopcommoncore Twitter event, which reached 2,493,308 Twitter users.

Karin Piper, spokesperson for Parent Led Reform, said, “Parent Led Reform opposes a lock-step approach to education that takes the focus away from the student and decisions away from the parent.”

The #Stopcommoncore Twitter Rally features a panel of experts who are planning on answering questions by the moderator, as well as taking live questions from Twitter users across the nation.

Panelists are Shane Vander Hart (Truth in American Education), William Estrada (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) Joy Pullmann (Heartland Institute), Ben DeGrow (Independence Institute), Emmett McGroarty (American Principles Project).

#Stopcommoncore           http://tinyurl.com/bs94qmb

Follow our host and panel: @parentledreform @shulsie @shanevanderhart @BenDegrow @will_estrada @Joypullmann @approject @Truthinamed

Supported by Pioneer Institute, AFP, Heartland, Independence Institute, American Principles Project, Freedom Works, Home School Legal Defense Association

Missouri Congressman Luetkemeyer to Sec. Duncan: “We Formally Request A Detailed Description of Each Change to Student Privacy Policy”   3 comments

This letter from Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri condemns the coercive nature of Common Core and formally requests a detailed description of alterations to student privacy policy made under Sec. Duncan’s leadership.

Click link here to see which congressmen have cosigned.  http://massie.house.gov/sites/massie.house.gov/files/documents/commoncore.pdf  (THANK YOU CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ!)

 

April 20, 2013

The Honorable Arne Duncan Secretary U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan,

As you know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allows Congress to authorize and allocate funding for public K-12 education and, most importantly, is the primary vehicle in which we implement education policy reform. Most recently reauthorized through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the ESEA’s authorization expired on September 30, 2008, and has yet to be reauthorized. Since the ESEA’s expiration, the Department of Education (Department) has moved forward with education policy reform without Congressional input. Such action is, at best, in contravention with precedent.

In addition to expressing our concern with the Department’s circumvention of Congress to reform education policy, we are writing you to express our concerns with the implementation of Common Core standards and changes to federal data collection and disbursement policies.

In 2009, forty-six governors signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Governor’s Association committing their states to the development and adoption of new education standards within three years. As we understand it, states then had the option of adopting Common Core standards or creating their own equivalent standards. At the time, Common Core standards were simply an idea where states would collaborate to create uniformed education standards. Details about Common Core were not only unknown to the states, they did not exist. From there, your department offered Race To The Top (RTTT) grants and NCLB waivers to states under the condition that each state would implement “college and career ready” standards. At the time, the only “college and career ready” standards with the Department’s approval were Common Core.

In addition to serious concerns we have regarding the Department’s aforementioned coercion of states to opt-in to Common Core standards, many of which were and continue to have serious budgetary issues and specific issues with existing education policies, we have become increasingly concerned over the development of the Common Core standards themselves. Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, Common Core standards, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort. In just one very troubling instance, Common Core standards will replace state-based standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government. The long-term, annual administering of the exams, the cost of which has not been specified by the Department, is to be funded by the states.

As representatives from states across the nation, we understand the diverse cultures and state-specific education needs that exist in America. We believe that state-driven education policy is vital to the success of our children and that Members of Congress can best demonstrate the specific needs of their constituents. As with most one-size-fits-all policies, Common Core standards fail to address these needs.

As you know, because states opted-in to Common Core standards, there is little Congress can do to provide any relief from these burdensome and misguided standards. Instead, the ability to opt-out of these standards lies with the state. With that in mind, we will be working with our respective state legislatures and governors to provide relief to our education systems. In the meantime, we urge you to work with Members of Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in a manner that allows state-specific education needs to be addressed.

Separate from reauthorization, we are extremely concerned over recent changes your department has made to the manner in which the federal government collects and distributes student data.

As you know, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was signed into law in 1974, guaranteeing parental access to student education records and limiting their disclosure to third parties. FERPA was intended to address parents’ growing privacy concerns and grant parental access to the information schools use to make decisions that impact their children.

Once again circumventing Congress, in 2011 your agency took regulatory action to alter definitions within FERPA. With the technological advances that have occurred in recent years, changes to FERPA deserve the full scrutiny of the legislative process more so than ever before.

In addition, we understand that as a condition of applying for RTTT grant funding, states obligated themselves to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students by obtaining personally identifiable information.

Regarding these two very concerning changes to the manner in which government collects and distributes student data, we formally request a detailed description of each change to student privacy policy that has been made under your leadership, including the need and intended purpose for such changes. We also request that you submit to us the authority under which the Department has implemented Common Core, FERPA and SLDS.

It is our sincere hope that the Department works with the Legislative Branch to implement any changes to education standards and student privacy policy. We look forward to your response and welcome the opportunity to address these issues in the future.

Sincerely,

_ Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03)

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