Archive for June 2013

Boston Globe Op Ed: How Common Core Harmed Massachusetts   1 comment

In the upside down, inside-out world of education reform, one of the most glaring inconsistencies is the case study of Massachusetts, a state that led the nation in standards and high student test scores, a state that had actually achieved competitiveness with leading international competitors, yet a state that dropped all that success, dropped its own tried and true success formula, to apply for a Race to the Top grant which tied it to common standards: Common Core.

I’m sharing portions of a recent opinion editorial written by the former president of the Massachusetts Senate, Tom Birmingham, on the subject of how Common Core hurt Massachusetts.

The full article is here, at the Boston Globe.

Birmingham said:

“If you had told me on that hot day in Malden 20 years ago when Governor Bill Weld signed the Education Reform Act that over 90 percent of Massachusetts students would pass MCAS, or that the Commonwealth’s SAT scores would rise for 13 consecutive years, or that our students would become the first in every category in every grade on national testing known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” or that Massachusetts would rank at or near the top in international science tests, I would have thought you wildly optimistic…

I’m …troubled by the Commonwealth’s willingness to replace our tried-and-true standards and MCAS with totally unproven national standards and testing. This conversion will come at an estimated cost of $360 million for new textbooks, professional development, and technology…

Most of the lowest-performing states have adopted the standards, known as Common Core. Based on nationally administered exams, states like Alabama and Mississippi could not hope to attain Massachusetts’ standards.

In implementing the Common Core, there will be natural pressure to set the national standards at levels that are realistically achievable by students in all states. This marks a retreat from Massachusetts’ current high standards. This may be the rare instance where what is good for the nation as a whole is bad for Massachusetts.

Given our incontrovertible educational successes, those seeking changes should bear in mind the admonition of the Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm.”

Tom Birmingham, former president of the Massachusetts Senate, is senior counsel at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP. He coauthored the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993.

Minersville Parent: Utah Must Withdraw From Common Core   2 comments

Here is a letter written to the Editor of a Southern Utah newspaper. I received permission to repost it here.

Dear Editor,

I am a concerned parent who strongly opposes Utah’s Core Standards (Common Core). Understand, I’m not opposed to having State-Controlled Educational Standards. My biggest concerns with the Common Core Standards are that they are controlled by D.C. private interest groups working closely with the United States Department of Education.

It is a public-private partnership. The Common Core tests are, in fact, funded by the federal government. It’s federally approved, federally funded, and federally promoted.

Frankly, it’s a control grab that cuts the American voter out and is clearly a violation of the General Educational Provisions Act (G.E.P.A.) which prohibits “any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration . . . of any educational institution, school, or school system .”

Further, there is no amendment process in place that our state can utilize if it disagrees with, or does not like the curriculum or the standards. The question begs to be asked: “Who will really be in charge of the curriculum, the state (as it should be) or private interest groups and the federal government?” It would appear that we will not be as free to make changes or improvements in the curriculum as easily as Ms. Roberts suggested in her recent letter to the editor.

Now is the time to act! We CAN and SHOULD withdraw from Common Core and protect our state’s educational system from the grasp of the federal government!

Ms. Roberts also stated that these standards were discussed and adopted over a period of time and in public meetings where we “could have commented during the public participation period”.
Does anybody else remember any advertising of such meetings? I don’t.

What I do know, however, is that there are parents and citizens that would like to have open discussions and answers to their questions RIGHT NOW!

Personally, I would like Ms. Roberts to publically answer the questions* outlined in the recent article by Christel Swasey–giving specific, detailed answers, not blanket statements and talking points.

I believe that parents have the ultimate responsibility of teaching their children and providing for their education.

If we do not stand up as parents and demand that our concerns and desires for their education be addressed and met by those in public leadership positions, then we will be held accountable.

Consequently, until Common Core is rejected, I am pulling my children from the public school system.

Sincerely,

Deyette Bradley
Minersville, Utah

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*The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?

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Thanks to Deyette Bradley for sharing her letter here.

Russian Student to USA: Keep Fighting Common Core   8 comments

I wanted to share a letter that a professor at Fordham University received from a former student from Russia. The letter is addressed to everyone who opposes the Common Core.


I believe you are fighting a very noble fight against the Common Core curriculum. I am telling you this as a product of a centrally-controlled education system myself. Soviet Union was notorious for this and the new Russia hasn’t changed that.

I never liked my school. To be honest, I hated it with all my heart and sometimes still have nightmares where I see myself having to return to school.

I always thought it was a senseless, cold system that I just had to get through, survive. I was frustrated all the time because instead of following my interests, tapping on my talents, I was concerned about carefully watching the requirements and trying very hard to fit in.

Questioning the requirements was not productive because you couldn’t change them anyway. I questioned and doubted them all the time and therefore suffered. I saw teachers as senseless machines whose only goal is to make sure you memorize what’s in their centrally approved textbooks.

There was no room and no time for creating, thinking, dreaming, exploring. My school years felt like a constant run in front of a moving train that, if I were to pause, try to look around, turn, would hit me: I would get a bad grade and jeopardize my chances to get into college, upset my parents, ruin my life. I was a good, hardworking student yet school was one of the most stressful experiences in my life.

Part of the problem with common curriculum is that at one point teachers become so concerned about following the standards (that naturally become more and more demanding with time) that they forget about kids. Their work is then not to educate kids but to make sure the requirements are fulfilled. The profession stops being rewarding and attractive to those who love kids and teaching, and attracts those who are comfortable inside a command and control structure.

America is obviously far from getting where Soviet Union/Russia is, but I am convinced it is because of people like you.

U.S. Secretary of Ed to News Editors: Spin It Like Duncan   12 comments

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is angry.

How dare Americans demand freedom from nationalized testing, nationalized standards and data collection?

In yesterday’s speech to the American Society of News Editors, Duncan said:

“…This event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects.  For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs.  So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards.  Academic standards used to be just a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they’re a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. Why? That’s because a new set of standards… are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools…  And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.”

Indeed it is.

Duncan admits: “… the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula.  So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created…Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist”.

Thank you, Secretary Duncan, for pointing this out.

FEDERAL FINGERPRINTS

Federally created lesson plans don’t exist because Duncan’s department has worked so hard to get around the rules (i.e., Constitution) and to make others do the wrongs that the Department then promotes and funds.  The Department’s associates (i.e. Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Gates, David Coleman) work with Achieve, Inc., with SBAC, with PARCC, with CCSSO, with NGA and others, to collectively produce the federally-approved education “reform” agenda known as the Common Core Initiative. We know this.

But, thanks to Duncan for bringing up the term “lack of evidence.” We’ll get to that.

AUTHORITY, PLEASE

Duncan says: “The Department of Education is prohibited from creating or mandating curricula.”  YES!

Yet the Department has coerced and urged and cajoled  and bribed American educators into joining the Common Core State Standards Initiative, has funded tests upon which these standards are bases, and have mandated that the testing consortia must share student-level data with the federal government concerning Common Core tests. Just see the Cooperative Agreement for oodles of power-grabbing evidence that uses the tests as vehicles.

Duncan says there is no evidence of a federal takeover using Common Core.  Well, almost;  there is no trace of an Department of Education fingerprint on the writing of the national standards, tests and curriculum. This it correct.

But there are massive, unmistakable Department of Education fingerprints all over the promotion, marketing, funding and imposition of the standards on states. These fingerprints are everywhere.

But the Department of Education has been very careful to use other groups as smokescreens for its “reforms” while the Department oversteps its authority. It was the CCSSO/NGA that copyrighted the national standards, not the Department of Education.

It was David Coleman and his four friends who wrote the standards (with token feedback, largely ignored, from others) It was PARCC, SBAC, and AIR that created the common tests.  It was Bill Gates (who partnered with Pearson) to write the lion’s share of the American educational curriculum.  And it is the Department of Education that put a 15% cap on top of those copyrighted standards that they say are state-led.

EVIDENCE, PLEASE

Guess what? There is no evidence that Common Core will do anything it has claimed it can do does not exist– there’s no empirical data, no pilot test, no study to verify claims that the standards will improve diddledy.

We might each ask the reporters to ask for that evidence.

NOT RADICAL/ NOT CURRICULUM

Duncan says that Common Core agenda is “neither radical nor a curriculum.”

I beg to differ.

It is radical to create nationalized, (socialist-styled) testing and standards for schools in a land of liberty.

It is radical to shred the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) as the Department of Education has done, to demote “parental consent” from a privacy-protecting mandate to a “best practice” and to redefine protective terms to make them nonprotective, including “educational agency,” “directory information,” and “authorized representative.”

It is radical to carefully work around the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law’s prohibitions against federal control of education. For just one example: in the “Cooperative Agreement” between the Department of Ed and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government demands that states give conferences and phone updates, synchronicity of educational tests, triangulation of collected student-level data under the federal eye, and much more.

 

And Common Core is driving and creating a national curriculum, by encouraging governmental and corporate collusion to narrow and monopolize the educational purchases of the nation.

Duncan tries hard to persuade the American Editors Society in his speech to separate standards and curriculum, yet we all know that standards and curriculum go hand in hand –like frames shape homes, like hands shape gloves, like bones support flesh– standards direct curriculum.

As the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates, said in his speech at a 2009 Conference of State Legislatures, “Identifying common standards is just the starting point. We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards… When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well…. for the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers.” Watch clip here.

WE’RE NOT COLLECTING STUDENT DATA

Duncan also denies the existence of any federal push to collect personal student data. He says that critics, “make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

No federal collection of student data? What a huge lie. Readers, please fact-check Secretary Duncan yourselves.

Aggregated student data has long been collected federally at the Edfacts Data Exchange. Edfacts states, “EDFacts is a U. S. Department of Education initiative to put performance data at the center of policy, management and budget decisions for all K-12 educational programs. EDFacts centralizes performance data supplied by K-12 state education agencies.” Although the information collected here is aggregated (grouped, not individualized) data, this will change because of the federal requests for more disaggregated (ungrouped, individualized) data.

Here are some federal sites you may click on to verify that the federal government is asking for more and more data points about each individual in our school systems. Click on:

Common Educational Data Standards – click on K12 student and find personally defining words like “identity,” “parent,” “incident,” “contact,” “authentication identity provider.”

National Data Collection Model – under “core entities” you will find “teacher,” “student,” “school,” “bus stop” and other identifying terms.

And Duncan is surely aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which helped copyright and produce the standards, has a stated commitment to disaggregation of student data.

Lastly. A simple common sense test.

If Arne Duncan were truly concerned about the quality of American schools, if he and his group cared about the education of children and not the controlling and surveillance of populations, then would they not have pushed for tested, piloted standards that would have used, for example, the sky-high standards of Massachusetts as a template, rather than circumventing all voters, circumventing academic tradition, and using this literature-diminishing, algorithm-slowing, cursive-slashing, informational text-pushing, unpiloted experiment called Common Core?

So am I suggesting that this is a diabolical scheme? YES.

Duncan himself used the term in his speech. To make fun of those of us who see it as exactly that.

He quoted columnist Michael Gerson —President Bush’s former speechwriter— who wrote that if the Common Core “is a conspiracy against limited government, it has somehow managed to recruit governors Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, current governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… A plot this vast is either diabolical or imaginary.”

Diabolical is the right word.

While Duncan and his education reformers may truly believe that socialism/communism is the way to go, I do not. And if most of America does, then let’s at least vote on it.

If anyone doubts that total governmental control of schools and children, to the detriment of families, is Duncan’s direction, view Duncan’s interview on Charlie Rose, where he outlines his goals for the complete takeover of family life by schools. Schools are to be health clinics, parental education centers, are to be open six or seven days a week and twelve hours or more per day, all year round, as day and night centers of civilization.

Folks, it’s not just standards.

Not by a long shot.

Concerned Women For America: Informational Conference Call June 27   2 comments

I received this email announcing an informational conference call. Joy Pullman, Sandra Stotsky and Richard Innes will be the guest speakers.

Many of us have watched the video that the Concerned Women’s group produced together with the American Principles Project, about Common Core. (If not, click here.)

Here is the CWA invitation:

CWA Hosts Nation-Wide “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”

Calling all parents and grandparents! There is a power grab unfolding within your local school system. And it’s time you know the truth.

Over the past three years, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been quietly working to seize control of the American education system without any input by the states. As a part of President Barak Obama’s stimulus package, Race to the Top grant money was earmarked for education initiatives in the states. Tied to this money is the progressive Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) and the results could be devastating to parent’s rights and our respective states’ education system.

It is imperative that you understand the CCSS initiative and how it will affect your child’s classroom.

Please join CWA’s nation-wide “Facts Common Core Conference Call” on June 27 at 8:30 p.m. EDT, as CWA’s Executive Director, Kenda Bartlett, moderates the discussion on exactly what is the CCSS, the program’s origins and the steps you can take to educate yourself and others on the Common Core.

Expert guests will include:
•Joy Pullmann, Heartland Institute

•Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Common Core Validation Committee Member
•Richard Innes, Bluegrass Institute

Please don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Call (760) 569-7676 , and enter the participant access code 303989 to join the conference call.

Most states adopting CCSS did so to be eligible to compete for federal funding. To have a chance at that money, recession-racked states agreed to adopt the CC standards and the aligned national tests sight unseen. Only five states did not sign on to the CCSS; so unless you live in Alaska, Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, or Virginia, this will affect your school system.

So please, learn everything you need to know about Common Core on CWA’s “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”.

Sincerely,

Penny Nance
Chief Executive Officer and President

What State Fiscal Hawks Are Saying About Common Core   Leave a comment

Why state leaders must make the choice on Common Core

Reposted from http://www.statebudgetsolutions.org/publications/detail/financial-incentives-are-the-core-of-new-education-standards

State Budget Solutions, a national nonprofit dedicated to fiscal responsibility and pension reform, released a study analyzing the Common Core education standards and the important educational, legal and fiscal factors that must be considered by state leaders. Currently 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards, and as SBS points out, states must determine if the promise of federal funding, tied to implementing Common Core, is too good to pass up.

“First and foremost, states should be making decision about education standards based on what is best for students in that state. All too often, the incentive of federal funds forces a state’s hand – just look at what is happening with Medicaid expansion. With Common Core, state leaders must step up to the plate and make good choices for students based on education research – and not be distracted by the sparkle of more federal funds,” said Bob Williams, President of State Budget Solutions.

Most states jumped at the chance to get a piece of the $4.35 billion pie from the Race to the Top fund, a federal educational grant fund, by accepting the Common Core standards. But they were not forced to do so, and now, parents, teachers and other local leaders in every state are speaking out about keeping government local.

“States are quick to give up control to the federal government, and then complain that the feds are impeding on core state functions, such as education,” said Williams. “States are separate and independent sovereigns, sometimes they need to act like it.”

As SBS reported earlier this year, all states are already dangerously reliant on the federal government for financial support—with some states accepting nearly half of their budget funding from the federal government.

CLICK HERE to read the entire State Budget Solutions report.

Heritage Foundation Livestream NOW   2 comments

http://www.heritage.org/events/2013/06/cwn-common-core – click on this link

I’m watching Joy Pullman’s articulately presented research on Common Core. Heritage Foundation Livestream– hope it’s viewable later on YouTube. It is so good.

A Global Monitoring Report From the International Bureau of Education   8 comments

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/post-2015/

With all your free time this summer, here’s something fun.  Study the reports of the global monitoring group at the U.N.’s International Bureau of Education, and see how much of what they say aligns with, or has inspired, Common Core.

No?  Okay, fine.  I’ll do it.

Here’s just a peek into the International Bureau of Education and the Global Monitoring Report.  These sound like something from a horror movie or a chapter in Orwell’s 1984, I know.  But they are actually real.

“Education for All” is a United Nations project that uses the same catch phrases used by Common Core proponents in the United States.  For instance, the stated goals of the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) –which of course, sound good on the surface– mirror recent U.S. education reforms:  Emphasizing equity.  Emphasizing measurability. Emphasizing finance.

Click here:  GMR Proposed post-2015 education goals: emphasizing equity, measurability and finance.

But what do those three concepts mean for U.S. citizens?

EquityEducation For All promotes the redistribution of world wealth so that ultimately, no locality or individual has ownership over his/her own earnings, and global government owns all, so that global government can ensure fair distribution to all.  This is not voluntary sharing; this is punishable, forced redistribution– it is legalized stealing of local taxes, by governments abroad.

Measurability – this means increased surveillance and testing of all teachers and students so that all can be compared and controlled by the global governance.

Finance – In the powerpoint presentation that was given at  a Brussels, Belgium meeting last month, ‘Education post-2015: Equity, measurability and finance’, you can see that it is the United States that is being told to “donate” to make this global educational governance possible.  Annually, the U.S. should “donate” 53 billion, the powerpoint presentation states.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6O8_EjUkaU (GMR “Education for All” video link)

So when you watch this Global Monitoring Report video, you’ll hear the presenter describing the sad facts of poverty in foreign countries as if she were leading a fundraising effort for a charity.

But that’s not what it is.  It is a justification for global communism, which religious leaders have been warning us about for many, many years; communism is, frankly, a  captivating tool of evil.  And many are falling for its lure because it beckons to the envious as well as the charitable.  It asks both to give away self reliance, self respect and freedom– in favor of forced redistribution.

My point today is that a Common Core of cookie-cutter education is not just an American phenomenon.  Globalists want it, too.  And they don’t care if some people lose academically or financially, so long as everyone ends up the same.  The very same.

One particular character who reveals the Common Core / Global Core same-same connection is British globalist Sir Michael Barber, CEA of the world’s largest educational sales company, Pearson.

Barber praises and promotes nationalized educational systems in many countries, lumping Common Core in with the rest.  Watch and listen to his Council on Foreign Relations video and audio interviews. Watch his speeches on YouTube.  He specifically mentions irreversible global reforms, global data collection, and the American Common Core. He says education should be borderless. He defines all education as needing to be “ethically underpinned” by the environmental movement.  He says that all children in all places should be learning the exact same things.  He promotes global databases to compare all people in global educational.  He has written a book (“Deliverology”) dedicated to American education reformers, telling them how to force “irreversible reform”.

He also likes the terms “sustainable reform” and “revolution” and uses these in his Twitter-tweets, (along with  rantings about the need for gun control in the U.S.)  Oh, and his company, Pearson, has aligned all its textbooks, teacher trainings, early childhood education products and other merchandising, to Common Core. Of course.

Sir Michael Barber is highly praised and quoted by our U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan– openly,  lavishly, in public speeches.

Sir Michael Barber.  The man who bridges Common Core to Global Core.

Don’t let him out of your sight.

Video: Hillsdale College Lecture on Common Core   11 comments

The video below is part of a new series about Common Core, from Hillsdale College.

At 37:00 Professor Daniel B. Coupland speaks about the servile quality of Common Core’s skills-based focus: “As long as students are told that the end of education is a job or a career, they will forever be servants of some master.”
He further quotes Heartland Institute’s education policy analyst Joy Pullman, who spoke recently at a Wisconsin hearing on Common Core: “In a self-governing nation, we need citizens who can govern themselves. The ability to support oneself with meaningful work is … only a part of self-government. When a nation expands workforce training so that it crowds out other things that rightly belong in education, we end up turning out neither good workers nor good citizens.”

Professor Coupland continues: “The ancients knew that in order for men to be truly free, they must have a liberal education that includes the study of literature, history, mathematics, science, music and art. Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s requium… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here…”

Quoting another professor, Anthony Esolen, a professor of Renaissance English Literature at Providence College in Rhode Island, Coupland says:

“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

In closing, Professor Coupland proundly says:

“If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

Amen.

Renee Braddy: Dear Alpine School District   4 comments

Renee Braddy is a former teacher and concerned parent who gave permission to publish her this letter to her local school board that asks them to exert due diligence in studying all the implications of Common Core and its tests.

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Dear Alpine School District Board Members,

I want to thank you for being willing to listen to the public last night and I appreciate the board even being willing to offer a few answers and some clarifications. I realize that many of you were in a very tough spot and that it isn’t easy to be involved and put yourself out there for possible public ridicule. I appreciate your service and the time you devote.

Like I stated when I spoke last night, I honestly believe that the Alpine School Board consists of leaders who have the ability and wherewithal to push back against the federal government and state’s top-down control over education. I think this will give other districts and states the courage to follow, if you are willing to ask the hard questions and encourage the discussion to happen. The federal top-down control over education isn’t a new thing that is happening with just this administration, this has been happening for decades in America. Honestly, I don’t really care who started it, I just want to know who is willing to be a part of stopping it.

I feel that as Americans we not only have a right to be involved in govt., we have a responsibility. We must protect the blessing of freedom that this nation was founded upon. When we see things happening in government that are not in-step with what we believe is best for ourselves, our families, and our communities, then I believe the public has the responsibility to hold their feet to the fire so they can be accountable. This should be happening at a federal, state, and local level.

It is no small task for people to attend a board meeting, especially with small children and the many obligations that are demanding of our time. I was actually very surprised by the large crowd in attendance last night. I know that they represent a very small percentage of the many, many people who are concerned about the nationalization of education that is happening through the Common Core Agenda. This is education without representation. It has been my experience as I have spoken to people that a very large majority of the people in this valley still don’t have a clue about what is happening in education, nor have they ever even heard the words “Common Core”. Silence is NOT acceptance, it is most likely ignorance.

As elected officials who have the responsibility to represent the concerns of your constituents, I hope you are willing to do your homework and ask the hard questions of the state school board and governor. Study the NCLB Flexibility Waiver and the RTTT application. This is what has helped me realize that the standards are a very tiny piece in a HUGE educational reform agenda. Our president and his administration have been very vocal about wanting a “cradle to career education” reform agenda. I am well aware that UT did not win any money from their RTTT application and we are not bound to any of those obligations that we committed to, but ironically enough, we are still implementing them. Therefore, it is still worth your time to study what UT was willing to do in order to get their share of the ARRA $.

This is serious and I believe that we are writing American History. We need to be very vigilant and realize that this isn’t just the next trend in education that will pass. Nationalizing education creates a centralization of power. This will lessen, if not completely remove, teacher and parental input. This is in direct violation with our US Constitution as well as our Utah Constitution.

When we stray from the principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which were intended to limit the power of government and promote independence and liberty, then we are disregarding the very document that defines us as being an Americans and this will result in our nation ceasing to be America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. This whole agenda consisting of: national standards, national tests, data collection, teacher accountability systems, and the turn-around schools model should be rejected by those who value LOCAL CONTROL and PARENTAL INPUT. We do NOT need or want a top-down approach to education where we have to get “approval” from the federal government or any other unelected bureaucrats.

It is concerning to me that we have not already rejected being a part of national experiment at an unknown cost financially and a high cost to freedom. From a teacher’s perspective, I believe that the truth is that we have no idea what curriculum our children will be taught under Common Core because the tests haven’t even been released. Tests dictate curriculum. As John Jesse from the USOE said at the Alpine AIR meeting, “it’s a sad fact, but they do”.

This is the reason why many, many people rallied at the capitol years ago when there was bill that would push for home schoolers to take state-mandated tests. Whoever writes the test will essentially dictate what is going to be taught, especially when teachers merit pay and/or jobs are being based upon student performance on these tests. We have three federal laws prohibiting a national curriculum in the US and yet this is exactly what is happening through the creation of national standards and federally funded national tests with publishers criteria and curriculum models. It is no wonder that the key players including the CCSSO didn’t want to go through the US Congress, they knew they would reject it, the same way they rejected national history standards in 1995.

I could go on and on, but I am requesting that you to please do your due diligence. I would like to know each board members position and thoughts on where you stand currently on this whole educational reform package including the CC standards?

Also, we will be presenting on Thursday evening in Saratoga Springs from 7-9 pm in the clubhouse at Talon’s Cove Golf Course: 2220 South Talons Cove. We would love to have you and anyone else that may interested attend, if possible. Also, if there is someone who would like to speak for Common Core, please let me know and we will add you to the program.

Thanks so much,

Renee’ and Kevin Braddy

Highland, UT

You’re Invited: Saratoga Springs Tomorrow: Informational Meeting about Common Core   Leave a comment

You are invited to an informational meeting about Common Core.

When and Where:

June 20th from 7-9 pm at Talon’s Cove Golf Course: 2220 S. Talons Cove Drive, Saratoga Springs, Utah

Who:

Speakers include: Dr. Gary Thompson (Child psychologist), mothers/teachers who have thoroughly researched Common Core, and local school board members. State school board members have been strongly encouraged to attend by Superintendent Menlove.

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, teacher or just a concerned citizen of Utah… whether your children attend the public/charter school system, private schools, or even home school, you should be informed about Common Core, a program that nationalizes education, testing and student data collection, and which will affect us all.

*There will be a questions/answers session during the last 30 minutes, between 8:30-9:00.

EVERYONE is invited to attend, so bring a friend or neighbor. Thank you for making time for such an important issue.

If you cannot attend, please study the source documents of Common Core on your own so that you will be informed about your child’s altered education system.
Source Documents to Study: (all searchable online)

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 analyzing and influencing student attitudes.

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.

Department of Education Surveillance of Student Attitudes   9 comments

The Department of Education is increasingly creepy.

There’s no other word for it. It’s as bad as any Orwellian-styled fiction. I say this without being in the least speculative– proof is published openly in the actual source documents coming out of the current Department of Education.

I invite you to scan over the Department of Education’s document entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.”

This 126-page report was published four months ago by the Office of Educational Technology and the U.S. Department of Education.

The whole document is about student data mining– but not just the type of data mining we’ve talked about before, where math and English and a student’s personal name and address are the issues.

Here, the issue is having schools/governments collect data about a student’s will, character, beliefs and attitudes using multiple measures that go beyond standardized testing to physical control and measurement of the child, by eye tracking and nerve sensory devices.

On page 44, see exhibit 11. It shows how affective sensors are used in some areas to measure student “engagement”. You’ll see facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, and a wireless skin conductance sensor.

These are supposed to be good things?!

We see clearly that it is not enough for the “education reformers” to nationally control, via common standards and testing, the math and English teaching; they also desire to test, analyze and control, noncognitive individual attitudes.

How is freedom of thought, freedom of belief/attitude/religion, or freedom of expression, upheld by these “reforms” in any way?

The document also says:

“There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors— attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability…”

Attitudes! Dispositions!

I re-read Orwell’s 1984 recently. Do you remember it? The main character lives in a world completely controlled by the government, which watches all citizens through virtually omnipresent screens and makes all citizens daily chant, with the same expressions on their faces– or else.

Of course he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.”

In Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance, as in other documents and speeches promoted by the current administration, you will also see the marginalization of parents. Parents are not seen as the primary instructor and authority figure over the child. Parents are seen as just the supporting cast. They can play a role. They can support. They can be educated about governmental “best practices” to practice at home. Think I’m kidding?

From page xiv: “Conclusion 6: Parents and guardians can also play a direct and important role in promoting
their children’s grit, tenacity, and perseverance… Recommendation 6a: Parents may employ some of the research-based best practices at home as they work with their children around academic goals… Parents can also support children in structuring their home work
environments to support effortful control…
Recommendation 6b: Educators… should consider outreach to parents and guardians as an important support for
students… parents may need to be educated about best practices.

This goes right along with Obama’s Lean Forward campaign, where the video spokeswoman, Melissa Harris-Perry said, (see below) “We haven’t had a collective notion of ‘these are our children.’ We have to break through this kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents.”

Last I heard, our Utah State Office of Education was claiming that Utah’s Common Core tests (A.I.R.) will only test math and English, and will not test behavioral indicators, attitudes, grit or tenacity.

Do you believe it?

I wish I could.

But while the Department of Education is pushing behavioral indicator measurement, and while the testing company Utah has chosen to create its Common Core tests –American Institutes for Research– has a mission statement “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation,” and while the Utah legislature has passed HB15, a bill that requires “behavior indicators” in school testing, and when Bill Gates, the main funder of all things Common Core, is promoting the merger of technology, games, education and biometric-psychometric control– when these forces combine, how can anyone still believe that all is well?

All is not well.

Parents, teachers and legislators must stand up, speak out, and not be quiet until we stop this erosion of individual rights.

If we don’t, who will?

Video: Conejo Valley District’s Forum on Common Core   1 comment

This week, concerned parents of the Conejo Valley Unified School District in California held a forum about Common Core.

One of the first panelists in the video is Stanford Professor and Hoover Institute researcher Bill Evers, who shares facts, experiences, lively stories and teacher quotes that point out the absurdity of accepting the Common Core, on academic and on federalism-related issues.

Professor Sandra Stotsky is another panelist. Dr. Stotsky served on the official Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the standards because they do not prepare students adequately and because they reduce literary study.

Here’s the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srYHUdSpuR0

President of College Board: I Convinced the Governors   2 comments

In the video posted here, David Coleman speaks. (Coleman is current president of the College Board, a non-educator, who was the chief architect of Common Core English Language Arts standards.)

Coleman says in this 2013 video: “When I was involved in convincing governors and others around this country to adopt these standards, it was not ‘Obama likes them.’ Do you think that would have gone well with the Republican crowd?

Special interests, meaning money-hungry businessmen like David Coleman and Bill Gates, led Common Core. I hope this video clip helps put to rest the oft-repeated mantra that Common Core was in any way “state-led” or that it in any way represented the actual will of the American voters, teachers, principals, parents or students.

Watch the video.

More detailed commentary is available at the Missouri Education Watchdog about this David Coleman video, too. See it here.

Teachers’ Letters to Gates   Leave a comment

Teachers are writing letters on a blog dedicated to letting Bill Gates know what they think of his education reforms.

Must share.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/14/teachers-letters-to-bill-gates/

http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/

Posted June 17, 2013 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Laurie Rogers: On Taking Over Children, America’s Future   1 comment

I love this educator’s site, entitled Betrayed –by Laurie Rogers.

This most recent article on the Betrayed website is greatly enriched by Laurie Rogers’ use of Animal Farm quotes, like: “He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?” (Animal Farm)

Article reposted in full, with permission from Laurie H. Rogers

Click on link to read the original, with electronic links to referenced items.

Enjoy!

Children are the key to America’s future. The government wants control of that key.

Those who exert the first influence upon the mind, have the greatest power.– Horace Mann, Thoughts

The writing is on the wall. In a June 7, 2013, statement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said President Obama is planning to “redesign” America’s high schools. This redesigning will take place through “competitive grants” (also known as “bait”). Who will pay for this redesigning? (Taxpayers will, as we always do.) How much will it cost? (The secretary and president haven’t said, as they rarely do.) Does the president have the legal or constitutional authority to “redesign” America’s high schools? (No.) According to 20 USC 3403, Obama and Duncan also lack the authority to direct standards, curriculum and teaching approaches. That isn’t stopping them. They say their interventions are for our own good.

He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? (Animal Farm)

Please take note of the language in Duncan’s press release. The “redesigned” high schools will entail:

•”Student-centered” learning

•”Project- or-problem-based” learning

•”Real-world experiences” and “real-world challenges”

•”Evidence-based professional development”

•Engaging in “complex projects” and working with others to apply knowledge

•Moving “away from the traditional notion of seat time”Uh, oh.

Math advocates will recognize that language. It typically alerts us to reform math – to fuzzy content, “discovery learning” (or constructivism), excessive group work, teachers who don’t directly teach, and lofty concepts presented before skills. That approach has not worked well for students for the last three decades.

It seems Duncan is a reformer, and why wouldn’t he be? Public education systems, colleges of education, curriculum developers and policy makers all have been bathed in reform philosophy and approaches since the 1980s. The president’s new mandate – excuse me, his new initiative – appears to mandate an instructional model that has completely failed children for 30 years.

Duncan and Obama also push the controversial Common Core initiatives, which are leading many districts to fuzzy math and weak English programs. The CC math standards contain a separate section, called the “Standards for Mathematical Practice.” Many states and districts are emphasizing the SMP, and the SMP supports a constructivist approach. Voila: more reform math.

It’s noteworthy that the publisher of Singapore Math – a series long praised by traditionalists – released a new “discovery” version based on the CC. Other publishers also have done so. They appear to believe the CC embraces constructivism, and they’re going along with it.

And now we have this high-school initiative, announced with the same language used by proponents of reform math. After three decades of grim failure, reform approaches to math are unlikely to suddenly work for students just because the feds throw another trillion taxpayer dollars at them.

In April, Obama also announced plans to “expand” early learning programs for 4-year-olds, rolling them into the K-12 system. Initially, children will be from low-income families, but other families and toddlers are to be rolled in, too. “Preschool for All” is estimated to cost taxpayers $75 billion over 10 years.

This de facto federal takeover of public education is cunning and devious. Many Americans have been persuaded that the Common Core and related initiatives are “state-led” and academically better; that nothing is federally mandated; that our right to privacy is intact; and that the Standards are the key.

Not true.

Proponents say the CC initiatives are voluntary; internationally benchmarked; research-based; rigorous; proved to work; that they’ll save money; they’ll provide commonality and consistency; and that they aren’t “one-size-fits-all.”

Not true.

The CC initiatives were never internationally benchmarked or academically sufficient. They aren’t grounded in scientifically conducted, replicable research. They’re unproved, with no student data behind them. They’re a national experiment on children. They won’t save taxpayers money. A base cost estimate just to get started is $140 billion nationwide (14,000 school districts x $10 million each).

The CC initiatives are voluntary only in a technical sense. States and districts have been threatened with the loss of federal funds, with the loss of money for impoverished students, and (ironically) with punishments under the No Child Left Behind Act if they don’t comply.

This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half. (Animal Farm)

The CC initiatives aren’t “state-led.” The feds are pushing them very hard. They were rammed through states before they were completed, with many proponents appearing to have had a financial reason to support them. The Department of Education has yet to fulfill my FOIA request from four years ago on its role in the development of the CC, but even if the initiatives really were “state-led,” why do the organizations in charge claim to not be subject to public-disclosure laws?

The nature of the CC also is expanding rapidly. Initially, this was K-12 standards in mathematics and English/language arts, but now it’s to be a complete nationalized educational program – with standards, tests, curricula and professional development; from cradle through workforce (P-20); in all subjects, all grades and all schools; in daycares, preschools, K-12 systems and colleges.

The CC initiatives also include an intrusive national database on children and their parents and guardians. Data and information are to be collected and shipped around public agencies, corporations and organizations without our knowledge or consent. Certain state and federal laws were altered or ignored in order to allow and facilitate this sharing of private information. Citizens were not informed.

At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. … [N]ear at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. (Animal Farm)

The CC initiatives appear to entail serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Code. The overall deceit is so huge, few believe it. Fewer in leadership have questioned it. Legislators on all sides, media, state agencies, governors, districts, money advocates, unions, corporations and foundations have lined up at the Common Core trough, ready for a treat and a pat on the head.

The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. (Animal Farm)

How long will it be before the feds threaten the loss of taxpayer dollars if states don’t comply with the new high school “grant” initiative or the new early learning initiative? How long before states and districts shrug off questions from parents and taxpayers, saying they had no choice in these matters?

Considering the unproved and dictatorial nature of these federal initiatives, they can’t be about academics. I expect the feds will find it necessary to redesign middle schools to “align” with redesigned high schools. Elementary schools will have to “align” with redesigned middle schools. Preschools will have to “align” with redesigned elementary schools. Colleges are already aligning. It will be one brick at a time, each ripped from the fabric and foundation of the country. This is about control.

With this incredible taxpayer expense – and with academic programs that continue to be as weak as a White House explanation – the children and the country will sink into economic and academic dust. Education policy makers have learned nothing over three decades. Or, perhaps they’ve learned everything. Choose your poison. No doubt, Obama and Duncan will report great improvements.

Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. (Animal Farm)

The Department of Education is now dictatorial and intrusive, assisted by non-government organizations and corporations working together behind our back. Did you think fascism was just for right-wingers? Read up on “fascism” (but do look beyond Google’s definition). This is educational tyranny.

There are some things you can do, however:

Help your child. Fill in academic gaps. Leave the public system if it isn’t working for your child.•Support Alabama Representative Martha Roby’s effort to rein in the U.S. Department of Education. Ask your representatives to support H.R.5 (the Student Success Act 2013), introduced in Congress on June 6, 2013. This bill won’t undo everything, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Say no to the intrusive data collection that comes with a district’s participation in the CC. Don’t tell them anything about your family that you don’t want Bill Gates, Pearson Education, the ED, the IRS, the Department of Justice, and other government agencies to know. Refuse questionnaires and surveys. Don’t tell them your voting status, political preference or religion.

“In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king…” (BBC series Sherlock). Don’t let them have the key.

———————————-

Rogers, L. (June 2013). “Children are the key to America’s future. The government wants control of that key.”

Retrieved June 17 2013 from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

Teaching Kids to Value Liberty   1 comment

A friend of mine says that her husband gets angry on the Fourth because of hypocrisy– the people waving the flags and celebrating as if unaware that our nation is losing all its liberties, one by one.

My husband’s co-worker, who is from another country, says that America is less free than his home country. It’s so regulated, and there are so many licenses and rules; the government puts its nose into every aspect of life, he says.

These people may be right.

But I still believe in people. I believe that they believe in liberty. As they wake up to the fact that it’s quickly going away, they will stand up.

They will see through the socialist lies. They will preserve this beautiful country and the freedom that made it so great.

I plan to celebrate this year’s American Independence Day as never before. So much is still right and many U.S. liberties are still reclaimable– including educational liberty.

I thought about this last night, at our boy scout camp, after a day of BB-gun shooting, archery, geology, flag history, boondoggle, and picnics, at a closing campfire.

Three Native Americans did a “retiring” for a huge, old American flag as we all sat in a wide circle their huge teepee. They reverently unfolded the flag, held it high, and lowered it over the fire. A woman sang a native warrrior song and beat her drum. I felt tears filling my eyes as we remembered the warriors who fought to earn and keep the liberty that the flag stands for.

Experiences like this are rare.

Patriotism is being marginalized by the current administration, and global citizenship is promoted in schoolbooks as the thing to seek, over local citizenship, so it’s never been more important to teach our own kids to love our country, and to be loyal to the principles of individual liberty, local sovereignty, and the U.S. constitution. How can you do it?

This year, we’re attending kids’ patriot camp.

http://hebervalley.info/news/316_utah-patriot-camp-comming-to-midway-august-12—16-2013.Info

We’re going to do as many of the amazing activities as possible at this year’s Provo Freedom Festival. http://www.freedomfestival.org/events/

At home, we’re reading the stories of American history together from the book “The Making of America.”

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/500648.The_Making_of_America

And we memorized the 50 States song this year in home school and practiced making the U.S. map puzzle to learn where the states are located. We really had fun with it.

There is so much we can do. And we really have to do it.

Deseret News Op-Ed: We’re Not Misinformed; We Know What Common Core Is And We Reject It.   4 comments

Hooray, Hooray! Today, the Deseret News published my op-ed. Here’s the link and the text:

Utah state delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?
——————–

Truth in American Education also published the article. This one’s actually a later draft, and is a bit better, with links to references. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/were-not-misinformed-we-know-what-common-core-is-and-we-reject-it/

The Constitution v. Redistribution of Teachers and Money in Ed Reform   Leave a comment

The heavyhanded education reform machine, by which I mean both the federal Department of Education and the corporate education business machine that’s led by the Bill Gates/Pearson folks, could never get away with what they are getting away with, taking over public education, testing, privacy, and the direction of textbook alignment nationwide, if the average American understood –and demanded– his/her constitutional rights.

1. There’s the right to representation.

Remember the rallying cry of the American colonists against Mother England in the 1700′s? No Taxation Without Representation. I don’t see many people carrying signs down at the Capitol today that read, “No Education Without Representation.” Yet, under Common Core, we have no representation. Putting aside for a moment* the fact that it’s constitutionally illegal to even have nationalized education in this country– if it was legal, it should at least be representative! But the copyrighted Common Core standards are written behind closed doors by private, unelected groups (NGA and CCSSO) that have no public accountability and are not subject to the laws to which elected groups (like Congress) are subject. The two groups are tricky; for example, using the official sounding name of National Governors’ Association (NGA) one group fooled most of us into believing that they were a representative, legitimate governing group. No. NGA has some governors as members, but it is a private group with zero accountability to you or me.

We weren’t represented when our legislatures were bypassed and our states adopted Common Core as part of a grant application signed by only two Utahns.

And we weren’t represented when the money and influence of Bill Gates (not a public vote) produced the whole Common Core, partially by bribing the national PTA and countless other influencers to call this “state-led” and to call it good for kids. Even though it never was.

2. There’s the 10th Amendment* which we are now taking back.

It says that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, to the people! That means that education is reserved to the states, to the people. There is no such thing as accountability to the Department of Education– unless we stupidly accept grants with strings attached, from that department. Then we are accountable to whatever we agreed to under the conditions of the grant.

3. There’s the right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Many people still don’t realize that unreasonable searches are happening electronically, using schools to collect personal and family information about individual students. And too many of those who do realize it, are unalarmed.

As NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden recently explained, “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change… People will know the lengths to which government is going to grant themselves powers– unilaterally– to create greater control over American society and global society but they won’t be willing to take the risk necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interest…. the only thing that restricts surveillance activities are policy… They’ll say that because of the dangers… we need more authority… it will be turn-key tyranny.” (see minute 10:48)

4. There’s the right to pursue happiness.

–Not the right for groups to take away others’ happiness or rearrange the happiness distribution of citizens.

The pursuit of happiness for teachers and students is being threatened by new plans for the redistribution of teachers and of wealth, wrapped up in the education reforms that we’re all having rammed down our throats.

If you read the Executive Summary of Race to the Top, (RTTT was the original grant contest that lured states into the Common Core movement) you will see this on page 3:

(D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.

What will this look like?

As one teacher recently noted:

“I can’t make teachers understand that the equitable distribution of effective teachers mean that they get moved if they do a good job. Principals don’t get this either. They will no longer have the ability to retain their best teachers. They will be placed. I can just imagine, a teacher does a good job and has high test scores, so her reward is to be placed in a failing school and as a bonus, she will now be deemed a “leader” charged with extra responsibilities on her new PLC team. That won’t possibly cause problems, will it? And what about the people who move into a certain attendance area because they like the teachers and principals? Schools will become revolving doors with no stability or consistency. We will be on a hamster wheel forever. Well, maybe when principals find out they will lose their best and brightest, they might stop drinking the Kool-aid. They’ve been fed a dribble of this for years and now they just accept it! By the way, this includes them as well. They will be rewarded by being moved to a turnaround government-run school… They have to begin actively recruiting minorities and start hiring a certain amount. No longer the best teacher for the job, but the best minority who might not be as good as [another] applicant. What happened to opportunity for all? When I interview for a job, I would like to think that I get a fair shot.”

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are founding American rights. Redistribution of wealth and redistribution of teachers is totally un-American.

Op Ed: Professor Colorio of Massachusetts on Common Core   Leave a comment

Shine light on Common Core

By Donna Colorio
Massachusetts Educator

As I see it, our country is going through a major educational transformation and I ask myself, “Where are the parents?”

In 2010, a D.C.-based nonprofit called Achieve, under the guidance of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, created what is now known as the “Common Core” standards. It appears that the goal is to create standardized learning throughout our country.

I hope this makes you ask yourself, “What is the Common Core?”

In my opinion, the lack of transparency is disturbing. In May 2008, The Gates Foundation started funding the promotion of the Common Core standards. In December 2008, the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve released their report “Benchmarking for Success.”

The first draft of the Common Core grade level standards was released to states in November 2009. The first public draft followed, on March 10, 2010. By that time, 40 states had already applied for Race to the Top phase-one grant funding.

If the new and largely untested Common Core standards were not adopted by a state by Aug. 1, 2010, the state would lose crucial points in Round 2.

Massachusetts applied for Race to the Top funds by the Jan. 19, 2010, round one deadline. Our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core state standards that July, with a goal to be fully implemented in 2013-14.

Just like that, essentially brand new curricular standards had re-oriented 17 years of curricular development and MCAS alignment, which had evolved in Massachusetts since passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993.

Now is it clear: Parents, elected representatives, school committee members and teachers appear to have been largely bypassed in the initial process of adopting the Common Core state standards.

Educational policy is too important to be decided this way. It ignores the very heart of the democratic process, and the value of thoughtful, deliberative, inclusive planning. As parents, we should be very concerned.

As a parent and School Committee member, I believe many questions still need to be answered:

How much local control of education do we lose to a nationalized-educational curriculum? Have the Common Core standards been piloted to show they work? Are the present Massachusetts educational standards (using the MCAS as a benchmark) better or at least equal to the Common Core? How much will this new standard cost the Massachusetts taxpayers (estimates are over $15 billion)? What kind of tests will be required as a result of the implementation of the Common Core? How are our disadvantaged or higher achieving students affected by this change in standards? What will the impact be on our teachers?

There is a secondary impact of the Race to the Top money. In 2012, there was a change in federal educational privacy law. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education website ( http://www.doe.mass.edu) a significant share of the Race to the Top money awarded to Massachusetts mandate enhanced data collection activities about our students. As parents, we should ask ourselves, “What type of questions are our students being asked? How much of this student data will be shared with the federal or state government? Do we want this data collected or shared?”

I have long believed that education is a state and local responsibility. As a member of the Worcester School Committee, I believe it is my job to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that curriculum is developed or chosen by our state and/or local authority.

Parents have the right to know what is happening with their child’s education. It seems that Common Core is yet another reform being pushed through too quickly with too many potential costs and lifelong learning consequences (remember Whole Language?).

Neither parents nor educators had a truly effective opportunity to study the standards, to enable them to exercise an informed and persuasive voice in the process or decision, prior to their adoption. Some Catholic and other private schools are also implementing the Common Core. As parents, we need to understand what we gain or lose with this decision.

A forum titled “Can Common Core Standards Make Massachusetts Students Competitive?” will take place at the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem St., in Worcester from 6:30 to 9 p.m. next Tuesday, May 28. It is free and open to the public. The forum features English Language Arts curriculum author Sandra Stotsky and cost and accountability expert Ted Rebarber.

I encourage Massachusetts’ parents, members of school committees, state representatives and teachers to attend this one-time forum. Don’t be left in the dark.

Donna Colorio is an educator at Quinsigamond Community College and serves on the Worcester School Committee. She can be reached at dcolorio@gmail.com.

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This op ed was published at Telegram.com and is republished with permission from Donna Colorio. http://www.telegram.com/article/20130522/NEWS/105229940/0/SEARCH&Template=printart

The forum mentioned in the article was filmed and viewable online.

MSNBC Video: Emmett McGroarty on Common Core and Local Control   1 comment

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/preserve-innocence/2013/emmett-talks-common-core-on-msnbc/

Emmett McGroarty: “This is a mom-led movement, really… If you dig down deep enough, there’s a bedrock principle that almost all Americans can agree upon… that includes the idea that parents should have a say in what children learn.”

MSNBC: “Should the federal government have zero role?”

“Here’s the problem… They never answer the question: ‘Accountability to whom?’ You can’t have accountability running to the federal government and running to parents and local officials….

…I am against the federal government having a role[in education].”

I agree!

USA Today Op-Ed : Don’t Underestimate the Mama and Papa Bears   Leave a comment

USA Today has published an op-ed by Emmett McGroarty. The author quotes Alisa Ellis of Utah and Anne Gassel of Missouri, parents who typify the Mama and Papa bears in opposing Common Core.

From Alisa Ellis: “Administrators want parents like me to step back and be quiet, but we will not. These are my children, and my voice will be heard.”
From Anne Gassel: “Parents and their legislators were cut out of the loop. Even now we can’t get straight answers.”

McGroarty also writes that “Although Common Core is regularly described as “state-led,” its authors are private entities, which are not subject to sunshine laws, open meetings or other marks of a state-led effort.”

The author also points out that the federal government gave states the incentive to adopt the Common Core and to use aligned, federally funded standardized tests which, “with teacher evaluations geared to them, will act as an enforcement mechanism.”

McGroarty points out that Bill Gates has told the National Conference of State Legislatures that this is more than minimal standards: “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well — and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching.”

Lastly, McGroarty points out that while Common Core developers claim the standards are “research and evidence based,” “rigorous” and “internationally bench-marked,” that’s not true:

He quotes Professor Sandra Stotsky, a member of the official Common Core validation committee, who wrote that the English standards of Common Core actually “weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” He also quotes Stanford professor James Milgram who concluded that the math standards “are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades eight to 12,” and who also wrote that Common Core math doesn’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry or second-year algebra course.

Read the rest of the article here: http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2413553
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Thank you, Emmett McGroarty, for pointing out the awful, hidden truth about Common Core, and for supporting parents in our quest to reclaim authority over what our own children will learn in our local schools.

Alaska Succumbs   5 comments

I used to think of Alaska as one of the hero holdouts, because that state, along with Texas, Virginia, others, once flatly rejected Common Core. I remember reading with a mixture of awe and envy, how Alaska had opted out of the standards project in June 2009.

An Alaska Dept. of Ed spokesman, Eric Fry had once explained in a Heartland.org article that “We wanted to formulate our own plan… [Alaska] “would like to be the entity that declares its own standards.http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

That was then. This is now.

https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreAK

Alaska has now succumbed to the federal pressure and has officially and quite enthusiastically jumped into the nationalized education control trap.

Alaska will no longer be “the entity that declares its own standards.”

How did it happen? Well, Alaska decided to join the Common Core testing group called Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

http://education.alaska.gov/news/releases/2013/sbac_april2013.pdf

Membership in SBAC demands that Alaska obey the decisions made by other, “governing” and “lead” states of the SBAC.

Of course, there was no vote by the Alaska legislature to decide to join Common Core. It’s an underhanded business, education reform. And what does it mean?

If you read the “Cooperative Agreement” between the SBAC and the Dept. of Ed, you will learn that despite the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law, the SBAC members have agreed to obey every whim of the Department of Education and must:

Provide updated, detailed work plans and budgets for all major activities identified in the recipient’s application, including but not limited to:
• development, quality control, use and validation of artificial intelligence for scoring;
• selection of a uniform growth model consistent with test purpose, structure, and intended uses;
• development of performance tasks (addressing items such as technical challenges of scoring, reliability, and large-scale administration of performance-based items);
• development of a research and evaluation agenda (addressing items such as validity, reliability, and fairness);
• development and delivery of the technology platform for assessment.
3) Actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff to discuss (a) progress of the project, (b) potential dissemination of resulting non-proprietary products and lessons learned, (c) plans for subsequent years of the project, and (d) other relevant information, including applicable technical assistance activities conducted or facilitated by ED or its designees, including periodic expert reviews, and collaboration with the other RTTA recipient.
4) Be responsive to requests from ED for information about the status of the project, project implementation and updated plans, outcomes, any problems anticipated or encountered, and future plans for the assessment system, including by providing such information in writing when requested.
5) Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis…” (page 3, Cooperative Agreement.)

But citizens of Alaska are speaking out.

An Alaska economist, Dr. Barbara Haney, put together the following list of questions:

1)What elected officials were involved in the process to opt into SBAC?

1a) Upon what authority did the state of Alaska put our state’s education system under the authority of the state of Washington and the SBAC consortium? Doesn’t this violate the Alaska Constitution?

1b) Isn’t SBAC an example of an Agenda 21 style regional board? In fact, isn’t this agenda 21?

2) Isn’t it true that the real reason that SOA entered into agreement with SBAC is to get the RTTT money and the NCLB waiver? How much money exactly are we getting from RTTT? To whom will those funds be disbursed?

3)The Race to the Top grant defines College and Career read as follows:
According to the USDOE “College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.”

http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions

In other words, if you adopt the common core standards, you have career ready standards.

How do these new standards meet the needs of Alaska’s employers? (Specific references, specific industries, not platitudes). What career codes in Alaska’s economy are these standards keyed to? How does the SBAC test demonstrate this to Alaskan employers? How do these standards fit in with Alaska’s Manpower forecasts by AKDOL?

4) “Smarter Balanced is grounded in the notion that putting good information about student performance in the hands of teachers can have a profound impact on instruction and—as a result—on student learning.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html
Isn’t this teaching to the test?

Further, if that is so, then how will Alaska students perform well on the Common Core curriculum tests if they are not using the common core curriculum?

Isn’t this just the state’s way of bullying local districts into adopting the common core curriculum?

5) Another statement by SBAC to the State of MO in May 14, 2013 “This spring we are pilot testing the first 5,000 items and tasks we have developed with about a million students, engaging more than 5,200 schools drawn from all 21 of our governing states. The pilot test also serves as a beta test for our test delivery software. In addition to testing out our items, performance tasks, and software, the pilot test also gives us an opportunity to evaluate a variety of accessibility features for students with disabilities and English language learners.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html

Why is the state of Alaska not looking at established tests like ITBS and the ACT? Why are we using a test that doesn’t exist yet? Why are we using an experimental test?

How can SOA even argue that this is a test superior to other tests when the test hasn’t even been used anywhere?

Why was this test selected rather than ASPIRE, ITBS, or Alaska’s past NCLB test? Since that test is written for Alaska why couldn’t we continue to use it?

6) When SBAC was asked about their own cost structure on May 14, 2013 own cost structure, they stated:
“One element dominates the cost: approximately 70 percent of the vendor cost for summative assessments is tied to hand-scoring. Measuring the deeper learning required by the Common Core requires that students write extensively and much of that writing cannot yet be scored by technology. Paying teachers, faculty, and other content experts to score student responses is costly, but it is currently the only effective way to measure important elements of the Common Core.”

a) will Alaska Teachers be employed to grade Alaskan students?
b) isn’t this essentially what the original Alaska Test went to SBA testing? Didn’t we leave SBA testing due to this cost and alleged capricious nature of the grading system?
c) How then is the writing SBAC actually cheaper than the Digitcorp writing test?
Isn’t it true that SOA adopted this for the NCLB waiver and not because it is a superior test?
How does this test then become a superior instrument of evaluating student success?

7) In the area of English Language Arts (ELA), Smarter Balanced places these capabilities within its claims for both writing and for speaking and listening. In rural village schools there are some English speaking conventions are radically different from those in the roadway system. There is no way to avoid the obvious outcome that this test could discriminate against certain ethnic groups.
Has there been any effort to prepare these schools in speaking? Further, given that Hanley’s office indicates these schools will likely have a paper & pencil version of the test, how will the speaking component be evaluated?

8) SBAC funding ends Sept. 2014. In their comments to the state of MO on May 14, 2013, SBAC stated:
“At the conclusion of the federal grant, Smarter Balanced will transition to being an operational assessment system supported by its member states. The consortium does not plan to seek additional funds from the U.S. Department of Education.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html

How much will Alaska be expected to commit in the future of their funds? How does this break out on a per pupil basis (Vermont was told it would be $300 per student for the test alone). Where will this money come from?

Why did the state submit the members of the state to a new taxing authority?

Given Governor Parnell’s commitment to SB21 (now signed) and the short term revenue fall, where will the revenue come from in 2014 to pay for SBAC?

9) Pioneer Institute study on implementation show a staging acceleration in costs of SBAC. On average the costs are 4 times the amount given by the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant monies.

http://pioneerinstitute.org/education/study-estimates-cost-of-transition-to-national-education-standards-at-16-billion/

Will Borough Governments be expected to pay a share to SBAC? If so, have borough governments been informed for budgetary purposes?
How much will property taxes have to increase to meet these costs?

10) According to a CRESST study by UCLA & CA Board of Regents of SBAC and PARC dated May 2013 at http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf, page 9, second column, states
“Smarter Balanced plans to refine its specifications as it develops items and tasks, a contract for item development has been established, and item and task development are currently underway, as is a contract for specifying the test blueprint (see http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balancedassessments/ for the preliminary blueprints).

Why did the state of Alaska sign on to a test that is not yet written or tested? When there are clearly other tests available that are cheaper (by SBAC’s own admission) and comparable (according the Washington States’ OWN Washington Policy Center), why are we going with this far more expensive assessment?

11) The CRESST Report by UCLA on page 10 states, “However, collaboration may be incorporated into Smarter Balanced performance tasks, and metacognition may well be required in solving the complex, extended problems that both consortia plan as part of their performance task components.”

The use of group answers is a radical departure in Alaska State testing. How will group answers be used in scoring individual students? Will Alaska students be denied a diploma because they did not pass a group answer? Has the use of group answers been vetted in national testing norms? How will group answers be received by parents? Why does SOA DOE feel the use of group answers to be a superior measure of student performance over traditional methods of assessing individual students?

12) The CRESST Study further states on page 18 http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf
Both consortia have been optimistic about the promise of automated constructed-response and performance task scoring and have incorporated that optimism into their cost estimates for the summative assessment. Both are estimating summative testing costs at roughly $20 per student for both subject areas. In the absence of promised breakthroughs, those costs will escalate, there will be enormous demands on teachers and/or others for human scoring, and the feasibility of timely assessment results may be compromised.

(My note: Optimistic is academic way of saying full of excrement…) How will these escalating costs be met by the state of Alaska, particularly given that the full results of SB21 may not be realized?

13) Continuing on page 17: http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf the study states
“In addition to costs, extended performance tasks also offer a challenge in assuring the comparability of scores from one year to the next. Without comparable or equitable assessments from one year to the next, states’ ability to monitor trends and evaluate performance may be compromised.”

What this is saying that that this years scores cannot be compared to last years score (of course, there is no test yet either). So if there is no ability to make time series comparisons, how can you tell if a school is doing better or worse over time? This is a radical departure from past assessments used by SOA where there has been some degree of comparability over time. How can a school then look at last years results and this years results to measure improvement?

14) Continuing on page 19 of the CRESST Study http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf states specifically that SBAC is going against the grain of deeper learning assessments in their methodology.

“For example, Smarter Balanced content specifications include a relatively large number of assessment targets for each grade—on average 29 targets in mathematics and 35 targets in ELA. The claims, in contrast, reflect a reasonable number of major learning goals and represent the broad competencies that students need for college and career readiness. History suggests that focusing on discrete, individual standards is not the way to develop deeper learning, yet this is the strategy that states, districts, schools, and teachers have typically followed.”

Why is the State of Alaska then using an assessment of “deeper learning” that is designed in a way that history has shown will not reflect that deeper learning? Further, how will the curriculum used in schools reflect the acquisition of this deeper learning?

15) The CRESST Study on page 19 states, “Smarter Balanced has been very transparent in posting all of its plans and the results of its contracts. Yet, because its computer adaptive testing approach essentially individualizes test items to every student, it may be difficult to ascertain how well deeper learning is represented for every student or overall. The test blueprint will provide rules for item selection and presumably, those rules will include those for representing higher levels of depth of knowledge, but this is yet to be seen.”

If test questions are not the same for each student, then how can results be compared across students? Further, since the adaptive technology for the test does not yet exist, why is the state investing in it? Doesn’t this represent a radical departure from the traditional type of test given in SOA? Why does the state want to engage in this experimental test over other proven testing methods?

16) Many of the state’s schools do not have the equipment to offer this test on line. Who will be paying the cost of upgrading the school computer lines? Software? Computers? The purchase of additional computers?

In sum….
The test hasn’t been field tested, validated, or normed. The test will not offer a result that is comparable from one year to a next for a given institution. The adaptive technology isn’t available yet. Many of the districts in Alaska do not have the technology to offer this test. The Consortium is out of money in Sept. 2014.The test is using a strategy that has been shown to reflect the sort of knowledge it claims to test (deeper learning). The $20.00 per test estimate is considered overly optimistic and costs are expected to escalate. In contrast, there are instruments that have been validated that have a certain cost. Further, as the study states on page 18 “… while built-in accommodations may be easier to accomplish, there will still be the validity challenge of establishing the comparability of accommodated and non-accommodated versions of the test.”

17) Further, if the state is not using the Core Curriculum, then why are we using an assessment that reflects the core curriculum?

Great questions. Thank you, Dr. Haney.

Good luck, Alaska.

Not Misinformed: We Know What It Is And We Reject It   3 comments

If we remain bound to the Common Core stranglehold, it will be because a low-information citizenry passively buys the unsubstantiated claims of the proponents of Common Core without doing their own homework on this crucial subject.

Our state school board refuses to let go of its praise-common-core talking points. And it continues to call those of us who care about local control and high, legitimate education standards, “misinformed” even though they won’t return emails letting us know what specifically we seem to be so misinformed about.

Today I read this blog post by Tami Pyfer of the USSB on Utah Policy. http://utahpolicy.com/view/full_story/22848521/article-We-Do-Deserve-Better?instance=newsletter_featured_articles_policy

Here’s what I think as I read her post:

Yes, we deserve better.

We deserve fact-checked information from our state school board. State school board members are in a position of trust and should be held to higher standards. Misinformation being spouted by elected board members is cause for concern.

The Common Core agenda has been presented as being so rigorous, so consensually adopted (which is was not) and so academically legitimate that it is beyond debate. The fact is that the Common Core is a liability, rather than an asset, both in terms of liberty and local control, and in terms of academic strength.

It concerns me, bothers me, and keeps me up at night, that as a credentialed Utah teacher, I am not allowed to meet with my own state school board members, face to face, to get real answers to my concerns about Common Core. I have gone out of my way to try to communicate, to find out what exactly is “erroneous” (their words) about my concerns, but my emails are not being responded to.

There are simple questions.

“Where is the evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?”
“Where are the long term studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?”
“Where is the amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards under the copyrighted Common Core?”
“How can I opt out of the SLDS tracking system?”
“Where is the legal –constitutional– authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?”
“Why is Utah allowing Obama to redesign our schools without putting up a fight?”
“Why is there a culture in education today that demands everyone agree or pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in all of the Common Core agenda, when teachers and principals fear to dissent or lose their jobs?”
“Where is the evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms, improves college readiness?”
“Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher trainings and texts?

– There are many, many more questions that need answers. Yes, State School Board, we do deserve better. When will you condescend to actually speak with those who elected you to serve us?

When will you listen? Did you not notice that the Utah State Delegates disapprove Common Core? They voted and they passed the anti-common core resolution. Utah doesn’t want Common Core. Why is the board still defending it?

We are not misinformed. We know what it is we reject it.

When will your board stand up to the federal Dept. of Ed. and its tsunami of assault on liberties, rather than fighting us, the locals who desire nothing more than liberty and high quality education?

Obama Redesigning All High Schools   11 comments

The Federal government is altering America and shrinking liberty so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with all the destruction. Much of it is connected to education reforms.

There’s the removal of local control of education via Common Core tests/standards. There’s the removal of parental consent via the 50 federally placed (paid-for) State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS and P-20) which track all children and from which no student can opt out. There’s Obamacare and its mandate to support abortion, and its related plot to increase the numbers of medical facilities that are in public schools. There’s the IRS/FBI assault on privacy, which violates our Constitutional right not to be subject to unlawful searches and seizures and which plays in to the SLDS/P-20 tracking. There’s Obama’s ConnectEd Initiative, which taxes phone bills to pay for Common Core testing technology nationally, regardless of how any of us feel about the unvetted Common Core. But all of this is old news.

Today I learned that Obama is “redesigning” all high schools.

Here’s the link. http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-redesigning-americas-high-schools

In part, the redesigning will “promote a rethinking of the high school learning experience” by using more “student-centered learning,” using more “wrap-around support services,” provide “career-related competencies,” doing “project-or-problem-based learning” do “structured work-based learning,” “redesigning school calendars,” and “expanding a comprehensive system of student support.”

It’s central planning. The “wraparound support services” were described by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the interview below. Arne wants 6-7 days a week of school. He wants schools to be the center of society, rather than families being the center of society. He is a socialist.

Are we all?

Video: Common Core Forum in Massachusetts   3 comments

The following videos are from last Tuesday night’s forum,”Can Common Core Standards Make Massachusetts Students Competitive?” at the Worcester Public Library in Massachusetts.

At minute 2:15 on the first video, adjunct professor Donna Colorio says, “The bottom line is that there are serious questions and overwhelming evidence that Massachusetts currently has a higher academic standard than the Common Core. Why, when we are among the top in the nation in academic standards and testing, would we change? After 17 years of revising our standards… would we abandon our standards and our curriculum? Just like that? These national standards are unproven, untested, and underfunded.”

At minute 3:04, Colorio says, “It was the best kept education reform secret yet. Do a little experiment. Ask random parents at your next meeting if they know what the Common Core is…. parents, elected representatives, school committee members… were largely bypassed.”

In this next video, Professor Sandra Stotsky speaks. She was the expert who served on the official Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.

In this next video, Ted Rebarber of Accountability Works, speaks about the costs associated with Common Core.

To see all of the video clips from this forum, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/EndCommonCore

Dr. Gary Thompson on Common Core A.I.R. Testing   5 comments

Dr. Gary Thompson is an African American Doctor of Clinical Psychology from Utah.

He doesn’t mess around.

He recently posted the following letter, which he wrote in response to the Common Core testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR).  The letter has to be shared. If you don’t have time to read it all, here’s the toothpaste-cap-sized serving of what he’s saying:

1. A.I.R., the testing company to which Utah has written out a check for $39 million to write Common Core tests, will not answer specific, professional, focused questions and lacks the professional qualifications to do what it has set out to do.

2. Dr. Thompson says that “The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.”

3. Dr. Thompson calls for the resignation of John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education.

—————————————————-

Here is the intro.

Public Response Letter to Mr. Jon Cohen – American Institutes for Research

*Note: In light of Dr. Thompson’s recent appointment to the Board of Trustees at the Utah Law & Disability Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, it must be noted for the record that his opinions are independent, and do not represent the official positions of any one Board member or employee of the Center or their affiliates.

Introduction:

In early March of 2013, we as concerned parents of children in public schools in Utah, wrote a detailed letter upon the request of Utah State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove regarding our serious trepidations about privacy and testing issues surrounding the implementation of “Common Core.” In it, we expressed strongly that our children would be pulled from Utah public schools unless these concerns were addressed, or in the alternative, at least acknowledge that they were “a work in progress”.

After I accepted a national television appearance, Dr. Menlove was kind enough to invite  both Mr. Flint and I into his office where the conversation started out with him sincerely asking, “What can we do to ensure that your daughter Zoey will be enrolled in a Utah public school Kindergarten?”

We described our concerns verbally, but we were asked to write down our apprehensions, as well as appropriate suggestions for changes for the Utah State Office of Education to consider implementing prior to Common Core arriving at full speed in the State of Utah.

We both spent an entire weekend drafting our 12-page letter to the Superintendent and presented an email copy to him, as well as to the entire Utah State Board of Education. Dr. Menlove was kind enough to call my home three weeks later to let me know that our concerns “were heard”, our clinic was a “wonderful asset” to the community, and he appreciated all of the hard work that we do for the children in the State of Utah.

Apparently he forwarded the letter to AIR, and AIR responded to Dr. Menlove specifically about our concerns. The original AIR letter link in response to our concerns is cited below:

http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/AIR-Letter-to-Superintendent.aspx.  The following is our joint response to the letter:

————————————————————————————–

Here is the whole letter.

—————————————————————————————

Dear Mr. Cohen:

The Utah State Office of Education was kind enough to post your rejoinder to our inquiries into possible professional practices regarding AIR on their state webpage. Both Attorney Edward D. Flint and I have reviewed your letter. We would both like to thank you in advancefor the kind tenor of your response. In our state, apparently a titanic issue with parents is whenever many of them have questioned the accuracy or efficacy of issues surrounding Common Core, they are publically branded as “right wing, conspiracy theorists wearing tin foil hats.”

We both wish to thank you for your professional tone by not dragging political or religious ideology into an issue that is purely about science, law, parental choice, and common sense. Clearly, neither Mr. Flint nor myself have ever been accused of, or confused with being “right wing nut bags.”

The vast majority of your response letter dealt with Mr. Flint’s privacy concerns. I will cut and paste Mr. Flint’s direct response in the latter parts of this letter under the section titled “Privacy Issues”.

As for the issues regarding disability and learning disorders, you devoted a grand total of exactly 74 words (compared to my to my 8 pages of written concerns) regarding issues associated with Adaptive Testing and Common Core. Here is the exact quote from your letter regarding disability issues and the Common Core:

“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf

Here are my professional thoughts regarding your paragraph:

1. You state that you have a “long history of serving students with disabilities.”

Yet you failed to provide a single reference or smidgen of evidence that you have designed adaptive tests/assessments for children of color, gifted children, or children with specific learning disabilities that are scientifically reliable or useful. Providing data links to pilot studies of successes you have had with these, and other groups of children with “learning quirks” in regards to adaptive testing would have been the appropriate professional response to a interested “shareholder” in your corporation. Whereas my tax money is funding this $39,000,000.00 endeavor, I indeed have the strong attitude that you work for the parents of public school children in the State of Utah. Your responses along these lines lacked intellectual rigor and were disingenuous at best.

2. You stated, “we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible.”

Where is the data from pilot studies that support your claim?  If is only accurate “as much as possible,” then certainly you are aware that certain groups of children will most likely statistically slip through the proverbial cracks with your adaptive testing design. Who are these kids? What have you done to encourage these children from avoiding potential emotional/psychological harm from opting out of this test you are designing? Your response along these lines again lack intellectual rigor and again was professionally affronting to me.

3. You stated in the paragraph, “we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing….”.

Who in UTAH is designing this new adaptive common core test?  What qualifications does this person have? I assume that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education, is not this person, whereas he does not have the training or experience to design such a complex, adaptive test for every public school child in the entire State of Utah.

If someone was found in our State to design this test, please tell me why a $39,000,000.00 check was written out to your company to design this test? Your attempt to conceptualize Utah as “design partner” is either a direct lie, or a mistake on your part. For $39,000,000.00, Utah taxpayers and parents expect a certain degree of honesty and/or accuracy from a company that is designing the most important test in the history of our state.

4. Speaking of accuracy, you referred us to link via this sentence:

“In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing,which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf. ”

The link in the letter you drafted and posted to the entire State of Utah to view as evidence of your concern for children with disabilities in Utah was THE CATALINA ISLAND CONSERVANCY.

I simply am speechless.

As far as the Washington D.C. based, non-profit special interestgroup, “Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities” is concerned, the guidelines on their webpage are bereft of any references towards specific practices regarding at risk children and adaptive testing. This may have something to do with the fact that it appears that absolutely none of their Board of Directors has any type of formal, graduate school level education or clinical training experience with children displaying disabilities in assessment settings. I could go on for days regarding my concerns about CCD, but time is a limiting factor.

In addition, you also failed to detail how AIR works specifically with CCD as such might concern the development of the pending $39,000,000.00 Utah adaptive test. How often have your test designers consulted with CDC? What specific advice did the CDC give you concerning our unique population of children? Did the CDC make your aware that Utah has the highest number of children diagnosed with Autism in the entire United States?

If so, what specific professional guidance did the CDC give to AIR in regards to designing test for children with Autism? Would you be so kind to share this information with my fellow parents in the State of Utah?

I will not rehash the vast majority of my concerns to you again. I do believe you have a copy of our last letter. In that letter I provided multiple avenues by which AIR and the Utah State Department of Education can alleviate our “paranoia” by at least considering the implementation of several transparency features into your $39,000,000.00 contract with the citizens and parents of the State of Utah.

Let me refresh your memory with a few nuggets of change to consider from our previous letter:

1. “Anyone who states that AIR does not have the capacity to input selected variables that measure “behavioral characteristics”, along with variables that measure language arts, science or math is sorely misguided. It would be relatively “easy” to design a language adaptive test that has behavioral characteristics embedded into the design of the test.”

2. “Someone, independent of AIR, MUST have access to every single item on the tests being designed in order to insure and that absolutely ZERO behavioral indicators are being measured on tests that parents in Utah believe are only measuring “reading, writing and arithmetic”.

3. “A truly independent review by three independent, Board Certified, joint Ph.D. level psychometricians and licensed clinical psychologist, of all of the test items developed by AIR to ensure that there are no line item variables that could be reasonable utilized to measure“behavioral characteristics” as such may be defined by the American Psychological Association, or Journals published by this group.”

4. Implying, as was done in the USOE Alpine Town Hall Meeting, that any disability group in the country has approved a test (that has not yet to be designed) for the valid use with these populations, is disingenuous at the very least, or a flat out, deliberate misrepresentation to the parents of Utah (and the rest of the country) at worst.

5. An “opt out option” for children with disabilities until data of validity and efficacy is published and disseminated to the public, which ensures fair and accurate measurement of academic achievement.

Your letter failed to even acknowledge reflection of these common sense suggestions and protections for our $39,000,000.00 investment with AIR.

Per se, as far as your response to our clinic’s concerns that were outlined to Superintendent Menlove, I find it to be nothing but a piece of disingenuous public relations rubbish that is affronting in its lack of clarity and references. In a nutshell, you have asked the entire State of Utah to simply “trust you.”

Perhaps you have not spent any recent time in our great state. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the vast majority of Utah citizens have become a little queasy regarding believing authority figures in politics and business regarding positions of fiduciary and moral trust. Common Core, good or bad, is undisputedly the largest experiment of academic and assessment change in the history of our country. With such a grand experiment, the word “trust” should never be uttered.

I strongly suggest that both AIR and the Utah State Office of Education step up to the plate with some real answers, as opposed to the public relations fluff that we as parents are tired of digesting. Your joint, continued efforts of quasi-deception by proxy might incite this highly intelligent, bi-partisan, independent group of Utah parents to descend 10,000 strong to have their voices heard on the steps of our Capitol. Outsiders may make fun of our dominant culture, may laugh regarding our Utah Jazz, however we draw the line where it comes to the health and safety of our children. Our children will not become your psychological and academic guinea pigs without reasonable pilot-study data, specific to our unique population of children and teenagers.

Privacy Issues:

The vast majority of your letter was in response to attorney Flint’s concerns regarding data mining and related privacy issues. The following is a direct quote from Mr. Flint that I received this morning after he reviewed your letter to Dr. Menlove:

“AIR responds to our concerns about privacy, misuse of data and the protection of the database by re-stating that their contract precludes misuse or dissemination and would violate existing laws. I think we can all agree on that, however, it completely fails to answer the questions posed.

For example, in my letter to Superintendent Menlove, I cited a number of instances where both governmental and private agencies have lost or misplaced data while transferring it via flash drive, and the numerous instances of professional hackers obtaining the most sensitive and private information from medical and other databases.

The government agencies and companies that were “victims,” were also all required by law and contract to not disclose, disseminate or negligently lose the data, and to have sufficient firewall and other protections against hackers. They failed. Miserably.

AIR is in no better position than the dedicated public servants who have utterly failed us on a regular basis. They ignore the new 21st Century realities of data-mining and the veracity of how valuable data is sought after by many organizations for many, including nefarious, purposes. AIR dangerously skips past my concerns for the numerous exemptions to obtaining parental written consent, such as “academic surveys” or the oft-repeated abuses now being reported in other states that have implemented Common Core.

Like the Utah State Office of Education, they simply say “trust us, we’re professionals.” What they really mean is “screw you, we’re in charge here.”

It appears off hand that you failed to impress a trial lawyer with 26 years of litigation experience, as well as a father of a young son with Asperger’s Disorder.

Conclusion:

The repeated refusal of education leaders in positions of trust to responsibly address privacy and testing concerns (as well as other well documented concerns regarding curriculum development) surrounding Common Core may ultimately result in potential academic and emotional harm to a significant portion of Utah’s public school children. The repeated refusal to even responsibly acknowledge the very possibility of potential harm to children in our communities borders on delusional thought processes.

The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.

In plain terms, you are experimenting with our children without our consent. Such actions are not acceptable to any parent in the State of Utah, regardless of political or religious affiliations. It’s time for some “new perspectives” to be heard in various education circles.

As such, I would deferentially request that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Ms. Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Ms. Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education resign from their respective professional and/or political duties prior to the commencement of the 2013-2014 public school academic year.

(Superintendent Menlove is new to the political jungles associated with Utah, and appears to be making an active effort in trying to wrap his head around the massive changes he inherited from Washington D.C. and his predecessor. In addition, I believe that he is a man of integrity.)

As an alternative to resignations of the above named parties, I would respectfully request that both the Utah State Office of Education, as well as the Utah State School Board, discuss and objectively educate parents via their respective official websites regarding areas of Common Core that have not been vetted in a reasonable and proper manner via pilot studies (e.g.,testing issues), as well as acknowledge that potential exists for the misuse of private “educational” data. This new transparency and intellectual honesty will result in allowing parents to make individual decisions regarding either opting out of Common Core, or making arrangements for alternative educational instruction for their respective children.

Mr. Cohen, your role at AIR will be key to ensuring that USOE honors our request for more in-depth, and objective scientific and legal transparency, as well as building bridges of trust between you and the community of citizens who are paying for your services. I think I speak for and in behalf of tens of thousands of Utah parents who believe that trust must be earned when it comes to the process and execution of educating our children. The days of signing “blank checks of trust” are done in our state…especially when such involves $39,000,000.00 and our children.

This is all very simple: Prove your claims with scientifically reliable pilot data, or in the alternative, acknowledge potential deficits in a clear and concise manner so that parents, who are the true experts of their children, can make decisions regarding their unique kids and their continued involvement (or not) in Common Core.

One size does not fit all.

Best Regards,

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

Edward D. Flint, Attorney at Law

  • Dr. Thompson can be reached for comment at drgary@earlylifepsych.com.
  • Mr. Flint can be reached for comment at specialedflint@gmail.com.

Dr. Thompson’s appearance on The Blaze t.v. show with Glenn Beck is highlighted below.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU

What’s Wrong With Social Justice? Rabbi Lapin Explains   9 comments

I’ve never seen a better episode on the Blaze than that April 2013 episode with Rabbi Daniel Lapin. They spoke about collectivism. Some call it Socialism. Others, Consensus or Social Justice. It’s all the same: it’s top-down redistribution, by force.

The collectivism movement has its heartbeat inside education reform. It aims to lure us away from individual worth, individual wealth, individual rights, liberty or having an independent voice, all in the name of consensus, social justice, and collectivism.

In Utah, we have a problem with being too trusting. So many honest people fall into the trap of believing that others must think and behave honestly, too. And they fall into the trap of believing that collectivism or social justice have something to do with compassion.

Jesus warned his followers of this trap.

“I send you forth as as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)

Because the serpents are out there. We have to be smarter than we have been. We have to identify and outsmart the serpents –or we and our children will live without liberty under the collectivist banner of equality. It’s that simple. Right now, it’s called social justice. Proponents of social justice make it sound like compassion, steering clear from the pesky concepts of “individuality” or “freedom” or “local control” that the Founding Fathers bled for.

The U.S. Secretary of Ed., Arne Duncan, says, “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.” – Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009 speech. At an IES research conference, again Duncan said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.” – IES research conference, 2009

Social Justice and wealth redistribution are concepts that come up over and over again in Department of Education reports and speeches. They are pervasively being taught in our schools and in teacher colleges.

The current U.S. Equity and Excellence Commission recently served up a report called “For Each And Every Child.” Read it. It aims to redistribute education and wealth. You will actually find these phrases: “allocate resources to level the playing field across states,” “address disparities,” “advancing national equity and excellence goals using a combination of incentives and enforcement,” and “Historically, our approach to local control has often made it difficult to achieve funding adequacy and educational equity.”

It’s down with local control; up with forced redistribution.

Parents must arm their schoolgoing children with truth so that they can be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

I saw a very wise dove two months ago on t.v. He is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and the day I heard him speak, he was a guest on the Glenn Beck t.v. show.

The t.v. conversation went like this:

Rabbi Daniel Lapin: Collectivism is, as it’s usually defined, as any kind of political, or social or economic philosophy that stresses our interdependence with one another. You and I agree with that. We couldn’t live without each other. We know that; we understand that.

Glenn Beck: Yeah, no man is an island.

Rabbi Lapin: We get it. That’s not what collectivism really is. What collectivism really is, is a formalized, deliberate structure…deliberate attempt to create a moral matrix to legitimize taking things from one group of people and giving it to another. That’s what collectivism is all about. It’s essentially finding a framework of virtue about stealing.He goes on to say that the “manure” that fertilizes the idea of collectivism is materialism, “the fundamental conviction that nothing that isn’t material matters in the world.”

Glenn Beck: Define materialism. Because in my own head I was thinking it was about having all this great stuff. But you’re talking about that there is no spiritual part of the world, that it is only the material make-up.

Rabbi Lapin: Well… Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco, speaker of the California State Assembly… defined materialism.… What he said is, “If I cannot eat it, wear it, drive it, or make love to it, I’m not interested in it.” That’s a pretty good definition of materialism. If I can’t actually see it, touch it, make use of it, exploit it, benefit from it in some way, it doesn’t exist. In other words, there is no such thing as love. There’s no such thing as loyalty. There is no such thing as awe. There’s no such thing as staring at the heavens in wonder or biting into an apple and just wanting to thank somebody for giving that to you. None of that is true, because it’s all just firing of neurons in your cortex and your spinal column. There’s no mystery in life; it is all thoroughly basic and scientific.

…If materialism and collectivism encourages competition about being a bigger victim, what does this [making money] philosophy engender? Competition to provide service. How beautiful is that! It’s figuring out, to recognize that you will succeed best at making money if you are obsessively preoccupied with supplying the needs of your fellow human beings.
Which is better? Making wealth for your use by providing service to others, or requiring wealth from service providers to provide goods and services to someone who did not earn it? Clearly, the answer is making wealth through service is more moral.
But what about those who can’t provide for themselves? The best answer is for those whose love makes them feel responsible for the weaker members of society to provide for them willingly. And where those closest can’t do enough, then the caring larger public of service providers will offer help. I’m more willing to trust that goodness to a people whose goal is to find ways to serve than I am to trust a people who look for ways to take wealth from service providers.

———

The t.v. conversation went on as Rabbi Lapin explained why collectivism is materialism, which sees everything in tangible, ownable terms, and sees nothing in spiritual terms –there’s no love, loyalty, eternity, or other intangibles; collectivism sees a plant or a cow no differently than a human being; it also sees the death of a plant or a cow no differently than the death of a human being. This is why the collectivists want so badly to indoctrinate all people into earth-worship rather than God-worship; because by persuading humans that we are no more important on earth than a plant or a cow, we may more easily give up our rights, our property, our money and our liberty –to the collective, which is of course, controlled and operated by a very few.

Collectivism v. Making Money

Rabbi Lapin provided a powerful chart. It clearly explained how service/capitalism differs from theft/collectivism. Collectivism/Materialism has as its highest virtue, equality; collectivism stimulates envy, creates competition for victimhood, creates an ambition community organized for politics, and results in static poverty. On the other side, the chart explained that Making Money has as its highest virtue, freedom; that captitalism creates competition for service, that it stimulates success and achievement, that it creates ambition for respectability and riches; and that its result is dynamic growth.

It’s pretty simple. But few people know it.

Please make sure your own children understand it.

Our children are now navigating textbooks that preach the opposite of what the Rabbi (and our founding fathers) have said. Increasingly, textbooks teach that the United Nations (collectivism) are more impressive than the United States (individualism/liberty); that local control is overrated, and that environmental concerns outweigh the concerns of the U.S. Constitution. At least my daughter’s Pearson A.P. Geography textbook did. There was a great emphasis on the United Nations and Sustainability and a de-emphasis on actually learning where countries, rivers and mountains are, in that book. It’s just geography, right? No. Everything is changing.

Deseret News Op-Ed: USOE Officials Provide No Operational Assurances of Student Data Privacy   Leave a comment

In today’s Deseret News opinion piece, Matt Sanders makes the observation that similar, disturbing trends make the National Security Administration’s actions and the Department of Education’s actions snooping mirror images of each other. These trends are First Amendment violations, government overreach, and cradle to grave data tracking. The article also makes the point that on the local level, the Utah State Office of Education has provided no legal or operational assurances of student data privacy, although the USOE is quick to offer verbal assurances and to “soothe fears of ever more federalism by labeling opponents as detractors and alarmists.”

Sanders also writes:

“…[A]nother problematic revelation has roiled Washington, D.C. This time it goes beyond snooping around journalists looking for a scoop. It involves the National Security Administration collecting phone data on of Verizon customers.

This is a problem. A real problem. The U.S. federal government derives its power through the consent of the governed through a system of duly elected representatives acting as agents for their local populations. Additionally, the Constitution goes to great lengths to curb the tendency of government to overreach its bounds, and therefore set up a system of checks and balances.

… In light of the federal agency’s incursions, parents and lawmakers should likewise revisit the data privacy standards in Common Core testing approach… While Utah State Office of Education (USOE) officials verbally assured community members that they should not be concerned, they’ve provided no such assurance legally or operationally.”

Read the whole article: http://reframingthedebate.blogs.deseretnews.com/2013/06/06/3-reasons-why-nsa-snooping-worries-parents-and-lawmakers/

North Carolina Stands Up to Goliath   2 comments

Now that North Carolina’s Lt. Governor is standing up to Common Core, many North Carolinians are taking notice. Will they stand up, too? https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KdCav9-2Ri4

How did the original Old Testament David really feel when he trod toward the original, actual Goliath? He saw a sweaty mountain of a man before him. David was short, underfunded, scared, scorned. He must have heard voices– laughing at him, or praying for him. He knew that logically, he ought to fail. There must have been fear. But also, David knew Goliath was more than just huge and famous; he was arrogant –and wrong, with nothing to support him but stupid bulk. Just like Common Core.

I say this in the context of my favorite part of a recent Civitas article about Common Core where Jane Robbins* states:

“Goliath should be very, very concerned about David! Parents and other concerned citizens have stood up to the lavishly funded special interests and have demanded a return of their constitutional right to control their children’s education. Common Core is not inevitable, and patriots can still prevail if they refuse to give in… the forces behind Common Core are wedded to certain buzzwords and talking points that have absolutely no evidence to support them – “rigorous,“ “college- and career-ready,” etc. – and that the promoters frequently resort to outright deception.”

Here’s more of that article:

Expert Highlights Dangers in Common Core Standards

Posted on May 17, 2013 by Bob Luebke in Education, Issues

Last fall public schools in North Carolina along with 44 other states began implementing Common Core Standards. The standards — developed by academic experts and private trade associations with the financial backing of several large foundations — have unleashed a brushfire of criticism, fueled in part by the controversial ideas behind Common Core, parental anger over the lack of input and dissatisfaction over how the standards are implemented in our schools.

To help our readers learn more about Common Core, we’ve asked Jane Robbins, a Senior Fellow with the American Principles Project and someone actively involved in the national fight to stop Common Core, to share with us her thoughts about Common Core Standards and what these changes mean for students and parents in North Carolina. What follows is a transcript of Jane’s responses to our questions.

Tell me why North Carolina parents should be concerned about Common Core.

Common Core is an attempt by private interests in Washington, DC, aided by the federal government, to standardize English language arts (ELA) and math education (and ultimately, education in other subjects as well) throughout the nation. By adopting Common Core, North Carolina has agreed to cede control over its ELA and math standards to entities outside the state. Not only does this scheme obliterate parental control over the education of their children, but it imposes mediocre standards based on questionable philosophies, constitutes a huge unfunded mandate on the state and on local districts, and requires sharing students’ personal data with the federal government.

Specifically, how will Common Core impact a child’s education?

In ELA, the child will be exposed to significantly less classic literature – the books and stories that instill a love of reading – and significantly more nonfiction “informational texts.” The idea is not to educate him as a full citizen, but to train him for a future static job. In math, the child won’t learn the standard algorithm (the normal computational model) for addition and subtraction until grade 4, for multiplication until grade 5, and for division until grade 6. Until then, the child will be taught what we used to call “fuzzy math” – alternative offbeat ways to solve math problems. He probably won’t take algebra I until grade 9 (meaning he’s unlikely to reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities), and will be “taught” geometry according to an experimental method never used successfully in K-12 anywhere in the world.

Aren’t Common Core standards supposed to be better than existing school standards?

That’s the claim, but it simply isn’t true. Even the Fordham Institute, which has been paid a lot of money by Common Core-financier the Gates Foundation to promote the standards, admitted that many states had better standards and others had standards at least as good. The Common Core website itself no longer claims that the standards are “internationally benchmarked,” and the Common Core Validation Committee was never given any information on international benchmarking. And one of the drafters of the math standards admitted in 2010 that when Common Core proponents talk about “college-readiness,” they’re aiming for a nonselective community college, not a four-year university.

How are teachers impacted under Common Core?

Seasoned teachers are likely to be unhappy with the educational “innovations” described above. And once the SMARTER Balanced national test is implemented in 2014-15, teachers will have to teach to this test because their performance evaluations will be tied to the test scores. The national test will be completely online, which means schools without sufficient technology will have to rotate their students through computer labs. (SMARTER Balanced suggests a 12-week testing window). This means students who are tested in the first week will have significantly less instruction under their belts than students who are tested later – but all teachers’ evaluations will be tied to the scores.

Is it true that local districts will be able to choose their own curriculum under Common Core? If all curricula will ultimately be tied to the standards, does that really matter?

The point of standards is to drive curricula. While local districts still have some choice over curricula, they are already seeing that their choices are narrowing, because all curricula must be aligned with Common Core. And the federal government is funding the two consortia that are developing the national tests and that have admitted they are creating curriculum models. Two former U.S. Department of Education officials concluded in a comprehensive report that, ultimately, the Common Core scheme will result in a national curriculum – in violation of three federal statutes.

Tell us more about the student database and what parents need to know.

Both the 2009 Stimulus bill and the Race to the Top program required states to build massive student databases. It is recommended that these databases ultimately track over 400 data points, including health-care history, disciplinary history, etc. Any of this data that will be given to the Smarter Balanced consortium as part of the national test will be sent to the U.S. Department of Education. USED can then share the data with literally any entity it wants to – public or private – because of regulations it has issued gutting federal student-privacy law.

North Carolinians should also be concerned about a new initiative called inBloom, which is a pilot program designed to standardize student data and make it available to commercial vendors creating education products. North Carolina is one of the nine states involved in the inBloom pilot.

How did all this happen?

Very stealthily. Private interests in Washington, funded largely by the Gates Foundation, decided in 2007 to try again (as progressive education reformers have in the past) to nationalize standards and curriculum. Thus began the development of Common Core. When the stimulus bill passed in 2009, the U.S. Department of Education used the money it was given to create the Race to the Top program. To be competitive for Race to the Top grants, a state had to agree to adopt Common Core and the aligned national tests. The commitments were due before the standards were released, and without the opportunity for involvement by state legislatures. So most states that adopted Common Core did so for a chance at federal money, and without legislators’ and citizens’ knowing anything about it.


In your view who’s behind the development of Common Core Standards and what are they trying to accomplish?

The standards were created primarily by a nonprofit called Achieve, Inc. in Washington, DC, and released under the auspices of two DC-based trade associations (the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, neither of which had a grant of legislative authority from their members to create national standards). Funding and support came from the Gates Foundation, as well as from other foundations including the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. The common denominator seems to be a belief that very smart elites in Washington are better able to direct our children’s education than we are. As for what they are trying to accomplish, two points: first, Bill Gates seems to favor a “Common Core operating system” that can be imposed on every school, everywhere, to increase efficiency: and second, the initiative seems directed at workforce development, not true education.

What have you learned from traveling around the country working with parents and groups who are fighting Common Core?

That Goliath should be very, very concerned about David! Parents and other concerned citizens have stood up to the lavishly funded special interests and have demanded a return of their constitutional right to control their children’s education. Common Core is not inevitable, and patriots can still prevail if they refuse to give in. I’ve also learned that the forces behind Common Core are wedded to certain buzzwords and talking points that have absolutely no evidence to support them – “rigorous,“ “college- and career-ready,” etc. – and that the promoters frequently resort to outright deception to get what they want. The ends justify the means, apparently.

How do you respond to concerns that withdrawal from Common Core will threaten Race to the Top funding or the No Child Left Behind waiver?

Regarding Race to the Top, several points: 1) nothing in the grant requires paying back the money if Common Core is discarded; 2) even if repayment were demanded, it should be only a fraction of the money actually paid out (since the commitments to Common Core and the SMARTER Balanced tests were only a fraction of the Race to the Top commitment); 3) even if full repayment were required, this would be much cheaper than continuing to implement the Common Core unfunded mandate; and 4) it is highly unlikely, from a political standpoint, that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would require repayment, since he has claimed for two years that nothing about this program is a federal mandate – if he now imposes a huge penalty for North Carolina’s exercise of independence, he will be proving the point of the Common Core critics. Regarding the No Child Left Behind waiver, there is a way within the waiver application itself that allows a state to use standards other than Common Core. If North Carolina has its alternative standards certified by its major institutions of higher education, it can still qualify for the waiver (assuming it wishes to do so – the waiver simply exchanges one set of federal shackles for another).

Do you have any final advice on how parents can be actively involved in fighting Common Core Standards in North Carolina?

Yes. Educate yourselves and your friends by visiting truthinamericaneducation.com and stopcommoncore.com. Talk to your local school officials and school board members. Call your state legislators, your state school board members, and your Governor, and demand that they take action to restore North Carolina control over North Carolina education.

(For North Carolina, also visit stopcommoncorenc.org.)
——

Thanks to Jane Robbins, Dan Forest, and all the “Davids” in North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and elsewhere for your excellent examples of standing up for liberty.

(*Jane Robbins also appears in this Common Core video series that is highly recommended, put out by the American Principles Project and Concerned Women of Georgia.)

Obama’s Common Core Tax Hike   2 comments

Since many schools do not have the technologies necessary for nationalized testing of Common Core standards, President Obama has decided to raise taxes on everyone’s phone bills to pay for the Common Core testing access.

Yes, really.

See this Huffington Post article about the new ConnectED Initiative.

A national Common Core tax hike.

This is tyranny. What about the states that rejected Common Core? What about the home schoolers and private schools that reject Common Core? Why do we all have to pay for Common Core?

We were told that Common Core was voluntary. We were told that we can get out of Common Core any time we like. But now we’re told that we have to pay taxes to support it.

If you don’t pay taxes, you end up in jail.

Voluntarily?

Gass on Oklahoma Radio: The Fascinating Rise and Fall of Massachusetts’ Ed Standards   2 comments

On a radio station in Oklahoma this week, radio host (and former math teacher) Pat Campbell interviewed Jamie Gass, of the Center for School Reform at the Boston-based think tank, Pioneer Institute.

They covered the sad tale of Massachusetts, which in the 1990s had risen to become the leading state in education for the entire country, and which fell because of Common Core, throwing legitimate academic success away for a chance at the Race to the Top federal grant money– a gamble which coerced the state into dropping the high, independent standards for the very mediocre Common Core.

In the interview, Jamie Gass explained that Common Core is a fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s vision for socialist education, long ago outlined in his famous “Dear Hillary” letter to Hillary Clinton.

Gass now calls states like Texas “the smart ones” for holding on to state-level control of educational standards and rejecting Common Core. He mentions that Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson signed laws long ago making sure that the federal government would stay out of local education. These are being bypassed by various means to implement the Common Core.

He also discussed the astronomical estimates of what Common Core will cost states to implement, and spoke about the low quality of the standards themselves.

The interviewer, Pat, commented that on the Common Core website, calculus is not even there. “Why would we want this?” he asked.

Gass gave as resources to listeners the following: www.pioneerinstitute.org, which has a toolbox with all the research the think tank has done, and the American Principles Project site, too, which has done a lot of work to study and expose the facts about Common Core.

Listen to the whole archived radio show here: http://www.1170kfaq.com/podcasts/patcampbell/209332381.html

Michigan, Florida to Stop Common Core   1 comment

By defunding or in other ways pausing/stopping Common Core, legislators in a growing number of states aim to take back local control of education, redirecting the state’s educational focus and funds toward more legitimate educational endeavors that do not include the full Common Core agenda.

A guest post at The Washington Post, on Valerie Strauss’ blog, (the post by Michael McShane) shows how easily Michigan is stopping Common Core. McShane writes:

“Michigan state senator Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) doesn’t like the Common Core.

It is, according to [Sen. McMillin], “An obvious overreach by the federal government into our classrooms.” He believes that “The federal government should not dictate what is taught in every classroom in the nation, especially in Michigan.”

Agree with him or not, he has a perspective that is shared by numerous legislators in states all across the country, from Kansas to Louisiana to Indiana to Georgia to Pennsylvania which is causing headaches for Common Core advocates.

To try and stop the Common Core, McMillin introduced, along with several other senators, HB 4276, which specifically states that “The state board model core academic curriculum content standards shall not be based upon the Common Core Standards.”

Now, trying to pass a bill to openly thwart the Common Core — which, it should be stated, Republican Governor Tom Snyder supports — is probably a bridge too far. To date, it appears that the bill, like several others throughout the nation, has stalled in the Senate Education Committee.

So what is a Senator like McMillin to do? Well, all he needs to do to stop the Common Core is make sure that it doesn’t get funded… House Republicans were able to use the 11th hour conference committee that gets the state budget passed to slip in a provision that prohibited the Michigan Department of Education from funding Common Core implementation. Before folks knew what hit them, the budget was approved, and the die was cast.

In doing so, he knowingly or not created a playbook for Common Core opponents in state houses nationwide. Trying to openly oppose the Common Core by amending state code is extremely difficult. Cutting the legs out from under it in the budget does not appear to be…”

——–
Read the full Michigan defunding Common Core article by Michael McShane at the Washington Post here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/05/is-it-really-this-easy-to-block-the-common-core/
——–

Democrats against Common Core seem mostly to oppose the privatization of public education (Bill Gates-Pearson style) and Republicans against Common Core seem mostly to oppose Common Core’s socialist-styled centralization of power.

But for a growing number of Americans, Independence Day will be redefined when Common Core goes away.

Look around.

Indiana has passed a Common-Core-on-time-out bill, rather than a defunding bill. Kansas, Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, Florida* and other states are moving, each in slightly different ways, to throw off the chains.

The voices are growing.

——

*Watch Florida lawmakers questioning Common Core at a recently filmed hearing here:

Video: North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Opposes Common Core   1 comment

North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest speaks out about why he wants the state to follow Indiana’s lead in taking a time out to study Common Core before implementing this untested, one size fits all nationalization of education.

Three cheers for Dan Forest.

Orange County Register Editorial: Classroom No Place for Central Planning   3 comments

The Orange County Register published a smart editorial this week.   It makes the point that most of the opponents of Common Core agree with: this is not about whether the standards are being lowered for some states and raised for others, or any other academic argument.  This is about avoiding getting sucked into the central planning vortex.  Below is  a good chunk of that editorial.  Read the rest at this link:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/education-510818-common-core.html

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

May 31, 2013

 Classroom no place for central planning

Common Core not right path for raising performance of American students.

We’re hopeful that the recent spate of scandals out of Washington will cause more Americans to think twice before ceding more authority to government. If there’s any good to be derived from the revelations of misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department, it’s an increased recognition that the state can’t be blindly trusted to discharge its fiduciary duties to its citizens.

There is perhaps no issue where this insight is as valuable as education. Government involvement in our children’s schools represents a tremendous concession of sovereignty. By allowing the state to set the parameters of what children learn in their formative years, we grant government sweeping influence to form their character and shape their understanding of the world. This is a natural byproduct of widespread public education. We can, however, keep it from getting worse.

 

The first step is to resist Common Core, a set of nationwide K-12 curricular standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Thus far, 45 states, including California, have signed on to Common Core.

…The problem… is the centralization of power that Common Core introduces. Defenders of the program will note that states are not mandated to adopt Common Core – which is true only in the most technical of senses. The Department of Education has already made adoption of the program a factor for receiving grants from the Race to the Top program, as well as a condition of receiving waivers from No Child Left Behind. It’s a virtual certainty that the amount of federal money tied to Common Core will only increase. What Washington can’t get through coercion, it can usually achieve through bribery.

We’ve long insisted that one of the keys to meaningful education reform is decentralizing power. As often as possible, decision-making should devolve to parents, teachers, and state and local authorities. When it comes to shaping America’s next generation of citizens, one size cannot fit all. Education ought to be our children’s first introduction to the marketplace of ideas, not to a government monopoly.

We applaud the impulse to raise the quality of the nation’s schools – but such efforts should be undertaken freely and subject to competition in the marketplace. Central planning is always inefficient and dangerous. We find it doubly so with education.

Louisiana Teacher: Teachers Never Asked For This   1 comment

Weingarten Wants Me to Want the Common Core State Standards.

This Louisiana teacher, Mercedes Schneider, has darned good aim.  In this post, she explains why the AFT teachers’ union has Common Core wrong.

“I have not met American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten in person, but from what I have read about her, I have learned that she has chosen to “play to the middle”– to appear to support both traditional public school teachers and corporate reform at the same time. And now, Weingarten has positioned herself to appear to stand against Common Core via her ‘moratorium” while simultaneously standing with it…

… This AFT study is lousy research. Weingarten could have just dropped the insulting, shoddy “research,” cut to the chase, and said, “Bill and I have already decided to endorse CCSS. Forget the moratorium.

Teachers never asked for this federally-imposed curriculum in the first place.”

Read the rest:  http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/weingarten-wants-me-to-want-the-common-core-state-standards/

Video: Citizens of New Hampshire Speak Out Against Common Core   3 comments

I really enjoyed watching this  New Hampshire video, which was filmed at a curriculum and instruction meeting of the Manchester school board.

Citizens were allowed to speak for three minutes apiece.

http://manchestercommunitytv.pegcentral.com/player.php?video=ded36c2e6dc5d55415f5b053f1880a83

Testifiers included several high school students, as well as parents and other citizens before the local school board.

At 22:35 a graduating high school senior speaks about how “we forget about the high achieving students” in the misguided effort to comply to government policies and financial carrots and not allowing enough AP and honors classes.  He says,  “Time and time again we look at the middle, we do look at the bottom… that also affects the higher achieving students.”  He is so right.

Most eloquent and impressively source-based is the seven minute testimony of Anne Marie Banfield.   (ending at minute 20:00 and picking up again at 26:25 – 30 when another testifier gave her three minutes to Anne Marie.)

At minute 31:10 a woman spoke (directly to the high school students who were in attendance as testifiers ) saying that in the past a principle might have said to a child who was getting detention, “that’s going to go on your permanent record” as a threat, but now because of the SLDS systems, absolutely everything that a student does, good or bad, is going to be used as part of everyone’s permanent record.  “It’s none of their business!” she said.

Then the listeners gave their loudest applause.

The fact that these testimonies were given at a local, not state, school board meeting is evidence to me that it’s individual localities that make a difference, not top-down, far-flung policies from D.C. groups with official sounding names like CCSSO and NGA.

It’s the individual voice that matters.

We the People are individuals, not a coagulated, collective mind as defined by the self-proclaimed know-it-bests: Duncan, Barber or Gates.

Local school boards can make a difference.

 

Here are the words of a wise member of another local UT school board member, who will remain anonymous here:

 

“One of the main reasons, in my opinion, Common Core and all of its predecessors have had any traction at all is because we, as a society, have mostly given up on the idea of local control of educationWe’ve bought into having “experts” tell us what and how our children will be taught.  I’m not opposed to experts, but parents need to be the biggest experts.  Local control is exactly what will fix this problem.  However, most people don’t know what local control would look like.  We drop our kids off at the door, volunteer for PTA, and sometimes go into the classroom.  Some fellow school board members in another district were actually in shock when I mentioned that one of the problems with Common Core was that parents were left out of the process.

“Do you really think parents should be involved with standards and curriculum?”
“Yes, I really do.”

Back to the point.  In our city, a few years back, we put together a rotating group of people to attend city council meetings and report back.  It wasn’t much, but it made a huge difference.  It only took a commitment of attending 2 meetings/year.  And, of course, the more people you can get to attend, you can either have a greater impact or reduce the number of meetings each person needs to attend.

If you had 20 or 30 people in each school district, depending on the number of meetings they hold, you could certainly set something up like that. 

The beauty of it is 1) the content of the meetings will change when “outside people” are present.  I can personally attest to this.  If the press isn’t there and if “regular people” aren’t there, it has a different feel.  2) there is an organized group of people to show up for any and all public hearings (like budgets) or if there is an issue of concern.  You don’t need to worry about how to get in touch with people, you just email the group and they show up. 3) You end up with a “head’s up” on all new issues.  In our district, there is public comment allowed in every board meeting.  And having members of the public voice comments and concerns actually has a greater impact than just the individual board members.  If you are a board member in the minority, then your voice is often dismissed because of that minority status.  Having people in the public show up to voice a similar concern give weight to the board member’s concerns.  I tell people that the elected officials are just the tip of the spear.  The people need to be behind that spear providing the force.

People keep asking, “What do we use in place of Common Core if we are successful?”  The actual answer is: Local Control. 

If we don’t backfill with more involved, and locally concerned parents and taxpayers, then there will be another creation, just like Common Core or maybe worse, that will take it’s place.  Power abhors a vacuum.  So, we need to step up and get back to the system that used to work, once upon a time. 

And even if your local district isn’t going in the right direction, it’s a lot easier to replace the local school board than the CCSSO. 

My two cents.”  

-from a school board member of a local school board in Utah.

—————————————–

 

Thank you to the school board member who shared those “two cents.” 

I completely agree.

Open Letter: Democrats Uniting Against Common Core and Race to the Top   9 comments

This open letter is published with permission from the author, liberal high school history teacher and former professor Paul Horton of Chicago.

 

The Honorable Tom Harkin

Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor,

Health and Human Services, and Education

Senate Appropriations Committee

June 3, 2013

Dear Chairman Harkin,

I was very saddened to hear that you have decided not to run for reelection as a United States senator. You have always represented the most honest branch of the Democratic Party and the long proud legacy of Midwestern prairie populism extending from James B. Weaver, to Williams Jennings Bryan, to Bob LaFollette, the Farm-Labor party, Paul Simon, George McGovern, and Tom Daschle. We could also count the comedian turned senator from Minnesota in this, but he needs a few more years of “seasoning.” I am sure that you are mentoring him in the tradition. Your friend and my senator, Dick Durbin, shares this tradition, but I am worried that he has cozied up too closely with the Chicago plutocrats to be an effective spokesperson for “the small fry.”

I write because you hold a very important position in congress that has oversight over Education. I am a history teacher, a historian, a leader of history teachers, and a critic of the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top Mandates. I have thirty years of teaching under my belt, including service to the people of the great state of Iowa at Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls where I taught high school students and trained pre service history teachers at the University of Northern Iowa.

Your friend and colleague, senator Grassley, has sent you a letter expressing his concerns about the Race to the Top mandates and the Common Core Curriculum Standards, so I will not belabor the concerns that he has already expressed to you, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/19/common-core-standards-attacked-by-republicans/.

I would like to encourage you to call our Secretary of Education before your committee and ask him some hard questions about the way that the RTTT mandates were constructed. His responses to the concerns that many citizens have from all points on the political spectrum have been exceedingly evasive. He typically claims that those who are opposed to the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards are hysterical wing nuts who fully embrace Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories about attempts to create a one world government: <http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/paul_horton_of_common_core_con.html&gt;.

In fact, despite the claims of a recent Washington Post story (<http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tea-party-groups-rallying-against-common-core-education-overhaul/2013/05/30/64faab62-c917-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html&gt;), critics of the RTTT mandates and the CCS come from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. In the national education debate, the status quo agenda that is being pushed comes from the corporate middle of both parties that is backed by many of those who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the current economic “recovery” in Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Manhattan (and Westchester County) and large foundations.

I humbly recommend that Mr. Duncan be called before your committee to answer some serious questions under oath about corporate and investor influence on Education policy. Mr. Duncan told a committee of congress that he did not want to “participate in the hysteria” surrounding the RTTT and the CCS. Because he is a public servant, it is his duty to serve the people of the United States. Part of his job is to be accountable to the public.

I recommend a few questions that any populist or progressive senator would have asked in the 1890s or early twentieth century:

1)     How many of your staffers have worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Who are they, and why did you hire them?

2)     What role did these staffers and Bill Gates have on the formulation of the RTTT mandates?

3)     How much classroom teaching experience do the principal authors of the RTTT mandates have, individually, and as a group?

4)     Why are these individuals qualified to make decisions about education policy?

5)     Were you, or anyone who works within the Department of Education in contact with any representative or lobbyist representing Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, or InBloom before or during the writing of the RTTT mandates?

6)     What is the Broad Foundation? What is your connection to the Broad Foundation? What education policies does the Broad Foundation support? How do these policies support public education? How do these policies support private education? What was the role of the Broad Foundation in the creation of the RTTT mandates?

7)     How many individuals associated with the Broad Foundation helped author the report, “Smart Options: Investing Recovery Funds for Student Success” that was published in April of 2009 and served as a blueprint for the RTTT mandates? How many representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assisted in writing this report? What was their role in authoring this report? How many representatives of McKinsey Consulting participated in authoring this report? What was David Coleman’s role in authoring this report?

8)     Do you know David Coleman? Have you ever had any conversations with David Coleman? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with David Coleman?  Did anyone within the Department of Education have any connection to any of the authors of the Common Core Standards? Did anyone in your Department have any conversations with any of the authors of the Common Core Standards as they were being written?

9)     Have you ever had any conversations with representatives or lobbyists who represent the Walton Family Foundation? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with the Walton Family Foundation or lobbyists representing the Walton Family Foundation? If so, what was the substance of those conversations?

10)Do you know Michelle Rhee? If so, could you describe your relationship with Michelle Rhee? Have you, or anyone working within the Department of Education, had any conversations with Students First, Rhee’s advocacy group, about the dispersal foundation funds for candidates in local and state school board elections?

This is just a start. Public concerns about possible collusion between the Department of Education and education corporations could be addressed with a few straightforward answers to these and other questions.

Every parent, student, and teacher in the country is concerned about the influence of corporate vendors on education policy. What is represented as an extreme movement by our Education Secretary can be more accurately described as a consumer revolt against shoddy products produced by an education vendor biopoly (Pearson and McGraw Hill). Because these two vendors have redefined the education marketplace to meet the requirements of RTTT, they both need to be required to write competitive impact statements for the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice.

Senator Harkin, I have a simple solution to this education mess. You represent a state with a great education system. In Iowa, there are great teachers in Cumming, Hudson, and West Des Moines. Most teachers across the country are dedicated, talented, and creative. They, and not Pearson, McGraw Hill, or InBloom , have a better sense about what is good for kids. Allow teachers to create national rubrics to evaluate authentic assessments and allow teachers to do their jobs and grade these assessments. We can save billions of dollars in a time of austerity if we do this.  You have control over the disbursement of RTTT funds. These funds should go to teacher assessments, not assessments designed by people with little or no classroom experience. Likewise, these assessments should be graded by teachers, not by temporary employees or computers under the control of for profit corporations.

Let’s invest in our teachers to insure that this investment stays in our communities and states.  Education vendors are not loyal to kids, parents, or states. They seek profit, and they will invest their proceeds wherever they can make the most money. It is time for some common sense. We need education policy for the small fry, not education policy for plutocrats.

I would love to speak to you and to your committee on these issues.

The very best to you,

Paul Horton

History teacher

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

former History Instructor, The University of Northern Iowa

Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Cedar Falls, Iowa

National Pushback on Common Core in the News   1 comment

 

National News Roundup for Common Core Pushback:

 

LA Times: Schools’ effort to shift to Common Core faces a difficult test

Washington Post/Strauss blog: Common Core — Assessing the real level of support

Fox News/Megyn Kelly: Concern over new ‘common core’ standards in education

Fox News: Conservatives crying foul over new education standards (Joel Klein — defends Common Core)

Christian Post:Tea Party, Conservatives Protest Common Core as Federal Overreach, Threat to Homeschoolers http://www.christianpost.com/news/tea-party-conservatives-protest-common-core-as-federal-overreach-threat-to-homeschoolers-97086/#x8CLqCca1KMkcVku.99

MA: Getting at the Core — Parents should take hard look at new standards

MA: Battle Lines Drawn Over Common Core Standards

NH/NPR: The Common Core State Standards: Not Yet In Place, Already Controversial

WI: Opposition to Common Core standards defies political lines

WI: Budget Committee ‘Hits Pause Button’ On Common Core Standards

WI: Common Core on hold while lawmakers take a look

WI: Common Core Opponents Pleased With Budget Committee Decision

MI: Common Core Debate Ongoing –State standards face a funding challenge in Lansing.

MI: Michigan Common Core Standards Under Debate

MI: Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush warn Michigan legislators against abandoning Common Core standards

MI: Controversial K-12 standards face opposition

UT: GOP rejection of Common Core a ‘rallying point’

77c0a37bd09d.html

UT: Tea party behind opposition to Common Core school reforms

UT:Common Core solutions

“Our math standards prior to adopting Common Core were actually more highly rated than Common Core, and they were created here in Utah. Why did we leave them if they were better standards? Because the federal government offered states a chance at $4.35 billion if they would agree to sign on …

OH: Common Core’s claims are false

KS: Kan. Senate OKs bill stalling school standards

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/05/31/2827036/kan-senate-panel-approves-bill.html#storylink=cpy

KS: Education officials defend Common Core standards

KS: Senate votes to block new education standards

KS: House narrowly defeats late Common Core challenge

KY: Common Core Standards won’t fix problems

“Despite the good intentions, support for the standards has eroded dramatically, and several states are reconsidering their commitment to them. One reason for the backlash is the intrusion of the federal government into the process.”

NY: Is Common Core Politicizing School Elections?

NV/Las Vegas Sun: Some states push back on common core standards http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/jun/01/us-common-core-standards-pushback-glance/#ixzz2V9EFzAeQ

NH: Common Core Comes To New Hampshire

GA:Panelists answer questions about Common Core at Tea Party forum RN-T.com – Panelists answer questions about Common Core at Tea Party forum

GA: ‘Common Core’ opposed in Senoia

GA: Profit motive behind Common Core Standards

CA: Common Core meeting scheduled

CA: Classroom no place for central planning — Common Core not right path for raising performance of American students.

DL: Cape area residents take aim at Common CoreMinard: Board should withdraw from national initiative

AL: Technological hurdles remain to new Common Core assessments

AL: Common Core standards survive the Legislature — this time

MN: Some states push back against new school standards

IN: Common Core debate is far from over in Indiana

U.S. Education Overhaul Fires up Emboldened Tea Party

WA: Common Core Standards – the other side of the story

TN: New Common Core standards raise questions

OR: Hillsboro School Board adopts math books but raises questions about Common Core Standards

CT: The common core juggernaut

How Common Core and School Data Mining are Inseparable   7 comments

A growing number of the proponents of Common Core say they are opposed to the data mining that uses school-collected data.

How does this position even make sense?  The two programs are so married. 

1.  President Obama’s the  head cheerleader for both programs and he bundles them in his vision for education reform.  Part of the Race to the Top application was an agreement for states to adopt Common Core Standards, and part was to have a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that would match every other SLDS in the nation (using federal grants to build it.)  Points were awarded to states who did both.   Clearly, both Common Core and the SLDS data system were part of that federal reform package and both comply with the “Big Government” vision of socialistically controlled education.  (The fact that our state –Utah– received no RTTT monies and isn’t part of RTTT, is irrelevant, since Utah still chose to remain bound under Common Core and the federally funded SLDS even after not winning any grant monies.  Don’t ask me why.  That decision makes no sense at all.)

2. In public speeches, Secretary Arne Duncan calls for “robust data” –and he is the very man who altered federal FERPA regulations to make access to private data more easily accessible by a large number of agencies –without parental consent, and this is the same Arne Duncan who boasts of Obama’s “College and Career Readiness” (Common Core standards) as if he birthed them,  in public speeches.  Again, the two programs go hand in hand and come from the socialistic ideals of the Department of Education.
3. At a recent White House event entitled “DataPalooza,” eScholar CEO Shawn T. Bay gave a speech in which he stated that although aggregate data is useful, it’s most useful to look at the individual consumer or the individual student. He said, too, that Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because Common Core is “the glue that actually ties everything together.”Here is the video.  http://youtu.be/9RIgKRNzC9U?t=9m5s  See minute nine to find where the data push depends on Common Core.
4.  For those states (including SBAC-droppers like Utah) who are still in any way connected to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) there is the damning evidence found in a key document called the Cooperative Agreement with the Dept of Education.  Here you will discover that only the fiscal agent state, Washington, has any real authority over what happens in all the other states of the SBAC.  Here you will also see the illegal moves of the Department of Education very clearly.  The Department mandates synchronization of tests between the SBAC and the PARCC.  It mandates the sharing of data on an ongoing basis.  It mandates phone calls, conferences and much more sharing of testing information. This is completely illegal under GEPA law and under the 10th Amendment.  By triangulating tests and data between the SBAC, the PARCC and the Dept. of Education, they have created a nationalized system that removes local authority and the local voice.It troubles me that the proponents of Common Core continue to call opponents like me “misinformed” when the opposite is obvious from source documents.

It troubles me that I actually go out of my way to request proof that we opponents are “erroneous” and “misinformed” and the proponents don’t even respond to the emails.

Proponents of Common Core seem to me to be increasingly uninterested in the truth.  That troubles me most of all.

I am interested in the truth.  I have no other object in this fight against Common Core except wanting academically legitimate, locally amendable and locally controlled standards.

I am a teacher and a mother, not a politician or lobbyist or even a reporter.

But.
If I actually was a politician or reporter, here’s what I would take the time to study and then write.  The article would be entitled:
“Putting the Pieces Together on the Data Mining - Common Core Puzzle.”
A good starter article on the data mining of schools has been done by Caleb Warnock at the Daily Herald.  More is needed.
First, I’d call state technology directors in various states and I’d ask them the same questions about federal compliance issues surrounding data collection that I’ve asked our Jerry Winkler of Utah.
First, I’d  clarify whether the technology director is aware of the federal requests for voluntary submission of private student data (not in aggregate form).  I would mention at least three federal sources: CEDS, DQC, NDCM.  They’d likely be unaware (but maybe not).
Then I would ask the technology director what information is currently being collected by the state student surveillance system, the SLDS, (which all states have and use on the state level but which most states do not YET open up to the feds –except on an aggregate level.)  This would vary from state to state.
Then I would ask him/her what information is given to the federal EDFACTS Data Exchange.  I would also ask if he/she is aware of the law suit against the federal Dept. of Education (altering privacy regulations to loosen parental rights)
Then I would ask the big question:  Who makes the call on when these puzzle pieces will fit together in compliance with federal goals?  Who has that authority in our state?
We have fitting pieces of the horrific, 1984-esque puzzle, but when will we choose to put it  together? 
We know that the feds are asking us to voluntarily share personally identifiable data, we know that the Dept. of Ed sneakily destroyed FERPA privacy law to make data accessing easier; we know that we as states do collect it, and we know that we already share the aggregated form of student data.
What’s next? And who makes the call?
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