Archive for September 2013

Alabama School Board Fights For Childrens’ Privacy   3 comments

Betty-Peters- -Alabama-State-Board-of-Education_

Betty Peters of the Alabama State School Board is fighting for the privacy rights of children in Alabama by requesting documentation about what types of information is currently being disclosed without parental consent, and to whom.

Below are draft versions of the requests.

For more information about the shredding of parental rights under previously protective federal FERPA laws, see the lawsuit currently raging against the Department of Education, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. I have written about this issue previously as have many other people.

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Memo to Alabama State Board Members:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of redisclosure of data, personally
identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demanding that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Members and legislators, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All meetings and debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not be used without the informed written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what should be done to protect student privacy.

Sincerely,

Betty Peters

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Request for Documents, Written Agreements, Cooperative Agreements

RE: Redisclosure of Personally Identifiable Information on Students According to 99.31 of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA Unknown to Parents and Legislators

Request the Cooperative Agreements between the US Department of Education and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, to determine the use of redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request the Cooperative agreement with the Department of Education allowing Florida to be the fiscal agent for each of the states in the PARCC consortium. Request the Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Education allowing Washington to be the negotiating partner for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington state as the negotiating partner, and WestEd, the project management partner, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII, for each state in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Request the Memorandum of Understanding between Florida, and Achieve, Inc., Florida as acting fiscal agent for the PARCC consortium and Achieve, Inc as project management partner. Please submit all written agreements allowing access to redisclosed personally identifiable information , PII, for each state.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements Alabama or other states not using PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessment, has with the US Department of Education, ACT (Aspire, Explore, or Plan,) and/or Pearson, that has access to redisclosed personally identifiable information, PII,
used to evaluate individual students toward Common Core Standards.

Request any written agreements, memorandums of understanding, or cooperative agreements with other contractors who have been given redisclosed PII on student data to develop curriculum, computer adaptive digital software, and/or any testing development. These “school officials” may be identified as private sector contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom an agency or institution has outsourced services or functions, including, non-profit organizations, corporations, or businesses to develop curriculum and/ or computer adaptive resources for individual students. These contractors may include Microsoft, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ETS, & ACT. Please submit any written agreements that allow access to PII, which was unlocked by order of President Obama, Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President, January 19, 2012

Request the purchase agreement and amount for each written agreement between any “school official” and the US Department of Education, PARCC, and/or Smarter Balanced Assessment, for the purchase of obtained redisclosed data on personally identifiable information, PII, on individual students to develop curricula or computer
digital programming or testing materials.

Request any Requests for Proposal, RFP, or Written Agreements between any private sector working group, defined as a “school official” in FERPA, 99.31, including PARCC, Smarter Balanced Assessment, Wested, or Achieve, ACT or ETS, who are developing and expanding Common Core Standards to new individualized criteria to “
improve instruction”, called, CCCR, College Career Citizenship Readiness, in which Citizenship, measures dispositions. Source: http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements to test and measure disposition test items that are ” difficult to measure” and may infringe on personal privacy rights, violate federal law for redisclosing psychological information without informed written parental consent.

Request any memorandums of understanding or cooperative agreements that may be used as identifiers for interventions for changing dispositions or improving instruction, without the informed written consent of the parent violating privacy laws, personal liberty, and illegal access to mental health criteria.

Request sample test items or test blueprints with scoring criteria that will measure dispositions and values in the new College Career Citizenship Ready Standards, CCCR, that are being introduced to the Common Core Standards by the CCSSO.

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Working Draft:

Put this letter in writing to clarify requests:

Since there is a debate without documentation about the use of data on our students of whether personally identifiable data is released on our students, we must request the following documents to clarify and end this discussion. Once we have documents that would substantiate the use of Redisclosure of data, personally identifiable information, PII, that the US Department of Education now allows under FERPA, we can better resolve the issues and take steps to protect our children in the state of Alabama. I am requesting and demand that all documents requested herein, be given to each State Board Member, and only then, can we make decisions to protect our students and their families. All debates should be tabled until documents are received from the Department, and/or under the Freedom of Information Act that will prove one way or another, that will substantiate whether personally identifiable information can be used or not without the written permission of parents. These documents will provide the basis of our decisions and requests to our legislators of what
should be done to protect student privacy.

Other questions to be answered:

Was Congressional authority given to expand FERPA regulations concerning redisclosed access of data and the flow of personally identifiable information, PII to outside contractors?

Which federal law expanded FERPA to include all outside contractors as “school officials” to have access to personally identifiable information, PII,on students without the informed written consent of parents or legislators?

Why was the Hanson Memorandum rescinded in the ‘‘direct control’’ requirement contained in the policy guidance on authorized representatives allowing the flow of personally identifiable information to outside organizations, corporations, non-profits, and business to have access to personally identifiable information, PII?

Request the Presidential Executive Order providing that FERPA regulations were to be revised and changed to unlock data and allow re-disclosure of personally identifiable information, PII, to outside contractors.

Do outside contractors pay for the data? Examples:

• If outside for-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do these contractors pay for the data or intellectual property rights taken from individual students to research and develop testing, assessments, curriculum, and adaptive software to be re-sold to
states and individual schools for use in the classroom?

• If non-profit contractors are developing tests, assessments, curriculum, or computer software to meet individual specific outcomes aligned to the Common Core Standards, including non-cognitive areas called dispositions, do they pay for intellectual property rights? Are they violating their non-profit status to make a profit when these items that they are developing are re-sold to states and individual schools
for use in the classroom?

• Are individual states co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

• Is the National Center for Education Statistics co-contributors to Redisclosure of PII?

Whitehouse Unlocks Data:see source http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf

FERPA sections allowing Re-Disclosure of PII

§ 99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information?

(a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by § 99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:

(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution

whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.

(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party—

( 1 ) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use
employees;

( 2 ) Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of

education records; and ( 3 ) Is subject to the requirements of § 99.33(a) governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

§ 99.31(ii) Paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section does not prevent a State from further limiting the number or
type of State or local officials to whom disclosures may be made under that paragraph.

(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;

(B) Administer student aid programs; or

(C) Improve instruction.

Video: Dr. Christopher Tienken Speaks Out in New York   1 comment

Dr. Christopher Tienken spoke at a conference on Common Core held in New York this month. His hard-hitting speech, posted below, includes the powerful, shattering truth that there’s no evidence to support the claims of Common Core proponents. The emperor is wearing no clothes.

“Major policies that we impose on children and parents should have evidence to support their effectiveness.” -Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

After you watch the speech, read Dr. Tienken’s scholarship, book chapter excerpts and previously released video about Common Core at his website.

Data Addiction and Common Core Dictates Destroying Schools: Utah Teacher Diana McKay Speaks Out on Common Core   4 comments

Diana McKay is a currently teaching, Utah public school teacher who wrote this poem, “I Became a Teacher– Why?” and the essay “Saturday Musings” below, and also the statement on Common Core below that.

She said, “This poem sums up what it is that we want for our educated children and why I went into education –and why I never would in today’s climate. It is frightening to look at how political maneuvering can have a subversive intent that is not immediately apparent”.

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I Became a Teacher. Why?

I became a teacher
to lead children along the journey of learning
so they might journey to where the love of learning leads.
I became a teacher
to introduce children to the world of awesome art
so they might create art to awe the world.
I became a teacher
to ensure children recognize and cherish nature’s gifts
so they might ensure nature’s gifts are preserved to cherish.
I became a teacher to encourage children to dream so they might find encouraging dreams to follow.
I became a teacher to open children’s minds to all that is possible so they might put their open minds to making the impossible, possible.
I became a teacher to show children how to find peace in the world around them
so they might bring peace to the world.
I became a teacher to inspire these future citizens of our country to have a vision
so they might envision a greater future for our country.
I became a teacher to model putting one’s efforts toward that which is greater than one’s self
so that my students might find the greatness within themselves.

This why I can no longer be a teacher. I can no longer do what I went
into teaching to do.

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SATURDAY MUSINGS
by Diana McKay

A Letter to my mother-who believed I could have been more.

I just called you, wanting you to tell me that it is acceptable, no, justifiable, to still be in my pajamas at almost noon, escaping in novels, or just musing, thereby avoiding the endless and monumental pile of test papers waiting to be scored. I wanted you to tell me, that after almost forty years of nights, weekends, spent on lesson plans, on time consuming preparations and collections for science experiments or social studies lessons, on wasted hours providing so called “instructional feedback” that I deserve a break. I needed you to tell me that I am entitled to enjoy a Saturday. You didn’t answer. But, you would have scolded me again reminding me that I was magna cum laude, Phi Beta
Kappa, for hell’s sake, I could have been a doctor, lawyer, chief executive officer and I’d
retort, “They make only money, I make a difference.”

I often wonder was a “difference” worth it?

Then, once in a decade, a letter arrives at the school address, with “please forward to” in front of my name. No need to “forward to” me, I’m still here. The letter opens with, “You may not remember me, but I was in your 2nd grade class in 1988 and I became a teacher because of the way you taught,” or “ I just wanted to thank you for making me believe in myself,” and a flood of emotion washes over me. Is it joy in knowing I did indeed make a little difference or is it relief that my life was not totally wasted in hours of test grading? But, then it hits me with astounding clarity. It is not the lessons, the science experiments, the hours spent writing “constructive” feedback on papers or comments on report cards that make a difference. It is the moments spent in “real” time, the “teachable” moment, guiding students toward something far more vital and ephemeral. It is the discovery that we are only here in this world, this universe, to learn and grow into whomever we are meant or choose to be, and we’re here for such a short time.

So in these last hours of a lifetime career, I will wave a white flag and surrender the minutia of unnecessary skill “kill” drills.

I’ll surrender soul-sucking data delirium, and follow my 1969 musings about my future in education. I’ll embrace this quote by John Holt as I did in those youthful years when choosing to become a teacher.

“Children do poorly in school because they’re bored with the meaningless work . . . scared of being punished or humiliated . . . In essence I’d realized, from observing and teaching, that school is a place where children learn to be stupid!” – John Holt

Holt explains why in these last ten years I am shockingly aware of the seeming decline of intellect. In the effort to “train” students to perform better in world competition for the right answers on tests, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has failed to raise test scores, failed to lower drop out rates, failed to increase literacy rates and failed to increase rates of college graduation. It has only been successful in “failure”. Failure is the theme, the torch, the stick, and the misnomer given to the public schools. Feed on failure, focus on failure, hold failure foremost, and what you get is failure. Is it the schools or the teachers’ failure or is it a failure of leadership?

It is a fact, as the proportion of children in poverty rises, the scores for US schools drop. In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 16% of the U.S. population lived in poverty, including 22% of all people under age 18, approximately 13 million children. The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty. The war on poverty has been replaced with a war on public education scapegoating teachers who devote their
lives to educating our youth, despite the rhetoric.

Maybe next year will be my last.

I’ll be a casualty of that war, but, before I go I may just finally teach children “to fish” so that they will always be able to satisfy their hunger for information. Maybe I’ll create “seekers of knowledge” and guide them in their self selected quests to quench their curiosity. I will promote passion. I will not police production, or sort students by standardized scores, and waste gifted minds with endless mind numbing repetition so that “no child is left behind”. Next year, I will not bow to the tyranny of parent terrorists whose agenda is to destroy at least one teacher each year to appease their guilt over not really wanting to participate in educating their own child. I will not become dispirited by legislators abusing their political right to blame educators for their own failure in economic policy to reduce poverty. I will not surrender to the district dictates to demonstrate mastery of core skills under the NCLB Act which demoralizes both the student and me, with the threat of being doomed to failure if we don’t continually collect data as mandated, and to master the skills on the testing timeline. I think next year I will actually choose to “fail” to do what I am accused of failing to do and instead I’ll make a difference. But first, I’ll have to quit musing and get busy. I still have all those tests to score.
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Statement by Diana McKay on Common Core:

My position is that the Common Core Standards left to teachers to teach is not the problem.

The problem is multifaceted. The data addiction and dictates derived from research using easily measured variables in schools impacted from poverty and applied to all settings is causing no child to be “left ahead”.

Overzealous testing of easily measured objectives using multiple choice answers and the omission of any untestable processes that are essential, reduces education to training. The arts are therefore being lost, but it might be worse if the arts were to be tested.

Scapegoating teachers and reducing them to robots who follow scripted lessons “with fidelity” that are designed by publishing companies has killed the professionalism of talented teachers. Publishing companies are profiting most from the Common Core– one set of texts fit all–no updates needed. Profiteers selling data system management has caused spread sheets to become more important than the content of instruction.

The grading of schools is a precursor to justifying voucher systems to line the pockets of richly connected individuals who can tap the taxpayers for private school buildings, etc. that aren’t needed, and which contribute to a caste system as children are prevented from mixing with ethnically or economically different peers.

This is my position. Politicians and corporations have no business in education and school districts
should not use taxpayers’ money to support the goals of business.
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Thank you, Diana McKay.

Video: Professor Nick Tampio Speaks on Outrages of Common Core – HuffPostLive   7 comments

Fast forward to minute 9 where Professor Nick Tampio of Fordham University speaks, in this video segment from HuffPost Live entitled “Race to the FLOP”:

“I moved into my school district because it has small classes, very well educated teachers… Each year they put out a pamphlet showing where the graduates go to school… 95 out of 100 are going to good schools, some are going to the very best in the country.

Our school district was not broken.

In 2012 we got this incredible, radical shift across the curricula… I just got my son’s homework last night. It’s a MacMillan McGraw Hill which I just learned is a subsidiary of Pearson. And it’s just this incredibly rote –I just think it’s way beneath– where a lot of children are. And what’s very frustrating to me is that I can’t have a meaningful discussion with my son’s teacher or the principal or the superintendent because it’s not our call anymore.

I have this letter from 2010 signed by David Patterson saying we’re committed to Race to the Top. There was no public debate beforehand. There was no legislative debate. Now, as a parent, I’m voiceless in my school district.

I just think that’s outrageous.”

Hear more from Professor Nick Tampio about Common Core on this radio interview from Pacifica News:


Gideon’s Math Homework   6 comments

Reposted with permission from Alan Singer of Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Gideon, my grandson, is almost nine-years old and starting fourth grade this year. He loves soccer, baseball, online videos, hip-hop, and school because that is where his friends are during the day. His attitude toward homework, and I suspect any school assignment, is to get it done fast so he can move on to more important and interesting things.

On last year’s New York State 3rd grade common core aligned math assessment Gideon scored in the proficient range, not the highest level, but not bad on a test where 70% of the students failed. I have been doing math homework with Gideon since school started and I noticed a couple of things that concern me about how math is being taught. I am not blaming his teachers or the school. I am certainly not blaming Gideon. But I worry that the problems he is having in math reflect the push for test prep for standardized tests.

The first problem is that Gideon seems to be convinced that there is only one right way to solve a problem and if he does not solve it that way he will be marked wrong. This problem he will get over either as he learns more about how the world works or becomes less interested in pleasing his teachers.

The second problem is a bit more serious to me as a teacher and grandparent. Instead of trying to understand a math problem and being willing to play with the numbers, Gideon is committed to remembering a long, complicated sequence of steps to finding a solution. If he makes a mistake somewhere in the sequence he gets the answer incorrect, but he does not recognize it as incorrect, because his goal was following the prescribed steps, not coming up with a result that makes sense.

Kids are supposed to be learning to estimate from the start of elementary school so they can stop and say this cannot possibly be the answer, but estimation requires both feeling comfortable with the relationships between numbers and a willingness to experiment and speculate, qualities that appear to be neglected in the test prep math curriculum.

One night recently Gideon had to figure out how many tens are in 540. He set up number groups. There are 10 tens in one hundred so he had five groups of 10 tens each. There are 4 tens in forty. He then added 10+10+10+10+10+4=54. I did not have a problem so far. But then he had to figure out how many tens were in 370 and he started to set up his number groups again instead of just saying if there are 54 tens in 540, there must be 37 tens in 370. He did not see or even look for the relationship between the two problems. They were separate entities.

The third question was how many twenties are in 640 and again he started by setting up his number groups. I asked him how many tens were in 640 and if there were more tens or twenties, but his response was “That’s not the way we are supposed to do it.”

Maybe that was what he was told, maybe he was misinterpreting instructions, but in either case, he would not play with the numbers and try to figure out a solution on his own. He was memorizing rules, not learning math.

Initially I thought the problem here might just be Gideon’s stubbornness and anxiousness to be finished, after all there were other more rewarding things to be done. But email exchanges on the Long Island “Middle School Principals” listserv (principals-ms@nassauboces.org) point towards much more serious problems with the way math is being taught and assessed in the New World of Common Core and high-stakes assessments.

A principal at one affluent Nassau County middle school reported that in his school 235 eighth grade students took accelerated ninth grade math and 190 of them, 78.6% of the students, earned a grade of 80% or better. But inexplicably, 82 out of the 190 high scorers, 43%, scored less than proficient on the 8th-grade common math assessment. Three other middle school principals from similar districts reported the same phenomenon.

A fifth principal from another affluent high-performing Nassau County school district described the state math assessments as a “Kafkaesque system” that “does not make sense,” as a “fake testing system” that “hurts kids” and their teachers. He has middle school students who passed high school math examines with mastery level scores but who failed the common core standardized test and now must be assigned to remedial classes. He also cannot figure out how when his school had the highest seventh grade English and math assessment results in the state on the common core test, only one out of six of his seventh grade ELA and math teachers was rated highly effective.

He charged that the current instructional and testing system “only enriched consultants, textbook companies and service corporations.” He called it a “fiasco” that “only ensures further unfunded mandates, pushes schools to become test-prep centers, further institutionalizes an over-testing system that terribly hurts kids, and enshrines an unfair evaluation system that actually makes it harder to terminate unsatisfactory teachers.”

Actually, I do not find the lack of correlation between the 9th-grade algebra test scores and the 8th-grade common core assessments inexplicable. I think the same phenomenon is at work that I saw in Gideon’s homework. Students are not learning math, they are being prepped for tests to maximize test scores.

When you put different types of questions on the math test they are stymied because the procedures they were taught to follow do quite line up with the problems and they either do not know how, or are afraid to, adjust. They do not estimate, they do not hypothesize, they do not “do the math,” they just get lost in the steps and get the answers incorrect.

I remember learning math the old-fashioned way, my friends and I had fun figuring out things we actually wanted to know and were very competitive at it. Back in the days before calculators and computers, the newspapers only updated baseball batting averages on Sundays, except for the league leaders. My friends and I were big baseball fans, our elementary and middle schools were about a mile from Yankee Stadium, and we needed to know the latest batting averages for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and “The Moose” Bill Skowron, so we calculated them every day during lunch (and sometimes when we were not paying attention in classes). It was not that we liked math –we loved baseball. Math was just a tool.

I walked into my high school 10th grade statewide geometry math test without having paid attention for most of the year (Bill Cosby used to tell the joke that when he was a kid his family was so poor he couldn’t afford to pay attention). But I was comfortable with math, numbers and problem solving and actually figured out geometry while taking the test itself.

I like finding patterns in math, I enjoy problem solving, and I appreciate the way it helps me to think systematically and provide evidence to support my conclusions. But I am convinced my comfort level is rooted in my love of baseball and the Yankees.

The other night I asked a group of college students if Robbie Cano is batting .310 and goes one for three with a sharp single, two fly outs, and a base on balls, what happens to his batting average. Some of the students had no idea, some of them started to calculate, but I knew his batting average went up, by just a little bit, because I know the relationships between numbers. That is what I am trying to teach Gideon.

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549

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Thanks to Professor Singer for this article which is also published at Huffington Post.

Manchester Union Leader Editorial Stands Up Against Common Core   2 comments

It’s good to see major U.S. Newspapers taking a stand against Common Core, especially after seeing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan specifically target news editors, asking them to spin Common Core the way that federal power grabbers and corporate monopoly-makers want it spun.

This week, the Union Leader said:

“More and more parents are skeptical because there is no satisfying answer to even the most basic questions about Common Core. For example: What is Common Core? It is a set of standards in English “language arts” and math. But what does that mean? The standards are not a list of items students are expected to know, but brief, vague descriptions of broad skills students are expected to have at each grade level. How teachers impart those skills is largely left to them – except that the standards come with suggested methods, some of which seem highly questionable. And even among education experts there is great disagreement over whether these standards are as rigorous or as predictive of success as supporters claim… Many people who hated No Child Left Behind now champion Common Core. But they are peas in a pod. Both amount to national experiments being conducted in real time on our children without any firm sense of what the results will be. This is exactly the wrong way to do education reform in the American republic. One of the primary benefits of a federated republic is that states can funcion, in the famous phrase, as “laboratories of democracy.” Common Core weakens that advantage when it comes to education…

See the full Manchester Union Leader editorial here:

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130922/OPINION01/130929840/0/SEARCH

Meetings in Logan, Heber, and Manti This Week – and How to Study If You Can’t Attend   Leave a comment

The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.

– LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey

– HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan

– MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey

The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.

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A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:

The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The Race to the Top Grant Application- Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that 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 (by states) common standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. 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. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can, however, opt out of Common Core tests.)

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. Notice that it states that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.

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 Agreement 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 states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.

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 and actions 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 his “uniform customer base” –all children.

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. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)

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 creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.

The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.

The testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors who have testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.

Follow the money trails – See what Bill Gates has paid for, and see how Common Core is a money-making monopoly that circumvents voters via public-private partnerships.

Video: Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy Speak in New York   1 comment

Utah Moms Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, the two whose 2012 presentation was my first introduction to Common Core, spoke this week at the Stop Common Core Forum in West Harrison, New York.

Here’s what they said. Please watch and share.

Missouri School District Passes STOP COMMON CORE Resolution   4 comments

East Newton School District in Missouri needs a standing ovation. The resolution posted below has passed, according to the Missouri Education Watchdog.

The school board officially recognizes that Common Core is: “designed to manipulate states and facilitate unconstitutional federal overreach to standardize and control the education of our children for the purposes of workforce planning.” Well put.

Here’s the whole resolution:

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This RESOLUTION was made and adopted by the Board of Education of the School District of East Newton, R- 6, on the date set forth after the signature of each of the board members set forth below.

1. CCSSI was never approved by Congress, but was embedded in the “four assurances” that the U.S. Department of Education required of governors to apply for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Race to the Top grants financed by the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
2. CCSSI was never evaluated by Missouri State Legislators; the people’s representatives were bypassed.
3. CCSSI was presented as an enticement for “Race to the Top” funds and the waiver of “No Child Left Behind.” Because “No Child Left Behind” saddled school districts with the unrealistic requirement that 100% of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014, a waiver was a must to avoid loss of accreditation.
4. CCSSI are copyrighted to non-government trade organizations. We have concerns regarding access to additional information and the cost of such information.
5. Individual school districts are committed to paying unknown costs associated with implementing Common Core assessment plans, and purchase of materials, of which tax payers and their elected representatives never had any input. This would imply taxation without representation.
6. There is an apparent conflict of interest by our Governor who sat on the Board of Directors of the National Governors Association in 2010, which holds the copyright to the CCSSI English and math standards when the standards were developed. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Achieve Inc. which holds the copyright to the Next Generation Science Standards.
7. CCSSI, which is an integral component of a U.S. Department of Education plan to collect a large amount of data collection on students as well as teachers, could lead to unauthorized sale or sharing of personal data to commercial sources. Although, it has not presented a problem to date, MO has no formal restrictions on DESE from populating data systems designed according to the National Data Model of over 400 data points including non-education related information such as religion, voting history, biometric data, etc.
8. The Department of Education Organizational Act of 1979, the General Education Provision Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that was reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind of 2001 each prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from involvement in developing, supervising, or controlling instructional materials or curriculum (Federal Law 20 USC 1232a-Sec. 1232a. and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 US.C. ch. 70), CCSSI and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment tests coming in 2014 were funded, incentivized, and will be controlled under the memorandum of agreement with the Federal Department of Education. This seems to be an overreach of the Federal Government into the state’s educational system.
9. There is no evidence that DESE complied with Missouri State Statute 160.526 2. prior to administration of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium pilot tests. The statute states,

The state board of education shall, by contract enlist the assistance of such national experts, as approved by the commission established pursuant to section 160.510, to receive reports, advice and counsel on a regular basis pertaining to the validity and reliability of the statewide assessment system. The reports from such experts shall be received by the commission, which shall make a final determination concerning the reliability and validity of the statewide assessment system. Within six months prior to implementation of
the statewide assessment system, the commissioner of education shall inform the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house about the procedures to implement the assessment system, including a report related to the reliability and validity of the assessment instruments, and the general assembly may, within the next sixty legislative days, veto such implementation by concurrent resolution adopted by majority vote of both the senate and the house of representatives.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE EAST NEWTON R6 SCHOOL DISTRICT

1. Recognizes the CCSS for what it is – a component of the four assurances that are designed to manipulate states and facilitate unconstitutional federal overreach to standardize and control the education of our children for the purposes of workforce planning, agreed to by Governor Nixon outside of due process while on the Board of Directors of the National Governors Association,
2. Recognizes that, as per Missouri Revised Statute 160.514 of the Missouri Outstanding School Act, curriculum frameworks adopted by the state board of education may be used by school districts, and we have great concerns regarding the adoption of the Missouri Core Standards/Common Core State Standards curricular framework for the East Newton School District,
3. Recognizes that, as per Missouri Revised Statute 160.514 of the same Act, the state board of education shall develop a statewide assessment system that provides maximum flexibility for local school districts to determine the degree to which students in the public schools of the state are proficient in the knowledge, skills, and competencies adopted by such board, and we exercise our right to insist on that flexibility. We have great concerns in participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessments,
4. Rejects the collection of student assessment data outside of the limits specified in Missouri Revised Statute 160.518; and rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state,
5. Insists that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shall adopt academic standards and a statewide assessment system as required by Missouri Revised Statute 160.526 of the same Act, that is, as approved by the legislature,
6. Insists that any amending of Missouri’s Learning standards must be done through a transparent public rulemaking process that allows Missouri’s people ample time and opportunity to review proposed changes and provide feedback. Specifically, the DESE shall ensure that any amendment to the Learning Results be posted for public review and comment for at least 60 days. Any comments received during this notice period shall be made public prior to final adoption of any changes.
7. Calls on the Governor and the Missouri State Board of Education to re-evaluate Missouri’s participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and asks the Missouri State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with Common Core State Standards Initiative/Missouri’s Core and any other alliance that promotes standards and assessments aligned to them until such re-evaluation can be completed.

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor and the State Legislature for executive and legislative action.

This resolution was adopted by the Board of Education School District of East Newton, R-6.

East Newton
22808 East Highway 86
Granby, Missouri 64844

Video: Maryland Dad Arrested For Persistent Questioning of Common Core   19 comments

Maryland Dad Robert Small, the Rosa Parks of 2013.

Maryland Dad, Robert Small, was forcibly removed from a meeting last night, when he stood to ask questions about Common Core that were not being answered in the preferred written format.

The Baltimore Sun, The Blaze, and Examiner.com have all reported on this story.

In the video taken at last night’s event, you hear other parents in the audience pleading with the board to allow this man the dignity to ask his question. But the man was removed by security, and he was then arrested –for “disturbing a school operation” and reportedly for also assaulting an officer. The reports say Small will face jail time and/or hefty fines.

Fines for disturbing a school operation? This was an informational meeting for parents, where information was clearly not being honorably and fully disclosed.

Robert Small refused to be told that he doesn’t have a voice, refused to be told he, as a parent with concerns, doesn’t matter. He refused to say that the edu-government knows best about what is best for his child– without his input.

He is a hero. I am thinking that Rosa Parks is smiling down on Robert Small tonight.

Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/20/is-this-america-parent-manhandled-arrested-while-speaking-out-against-common-core-at-public-forum/

Dear Miami Herald   8 comments

Dear Miami Herald,

I’m writing to point out five gross factual errors published in the Herald’s editorial yesterday. I realize that it’s an opinion editorial, not objective reporting; however, credibility demands common knowledge facts ought to be truthfully presented by a reputable newspaper.

Please have an independent source fact-check the following quotes, which came from the editorial, and issue a correction:

1 — “Common Core standards outline what is expected of students at each grade level in each core subject, like reading and math. They do not — we repeat, not — include suggested books or how teachers should plan their lessons.”

Fact Check: At the official Common Core website, there is an extensive list of suggested books and excerpts of books. (Additionally, the federally funded testing consortia are pointing teachers toward model curriculum to go with the tests).

2 — Common Core standards “were developed by Florida educators, backed by the state Board of Education and have the blessing of Florida’s former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.”

Fact Check: The Common Core official website states that the standards were developed solely by NGA Center/CCSSO. “NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.” It also states that localities must display “the following notice: “© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers.” (Not exactly home grown standards.)

It’s true that they have the blessing of Jeb Bush– but why? Because his Foundation is so heavily funded by –and dependent on– Bill Gates, who bankrolled the whole Common Core. Follow the money trail.
It’s not academic betterment at all, but almost exclusively Gates’ money that drives proponents to call Common Core legitimate.

3 — “tea party elements of the Republican Party have twisted Common Core and PARCC into some kind of federal assault on states’ rights.”

Fact Check: There are bipartisan organizations and individuals ranging from Marco Rubio to Diane Ravitch to Democratic teachers against Common Core, to a Left Right Alliance for Education, to the tea party, to an increasing number of child psychologists, to the National GOP –which voted to pass a resolution against Common Core, to name just a few. Please don’t paint us all with the same paintbrush. All these oppose Common Core for valid, sobering reasons, including a loss of local control and a realization that the standards lack empirical validity, academic legitimacy, or child developmental psychological sensitivity.

4 –”Common Core is about higher education standards devised by the states”

Fact Check “higher” standards: Common Core lowers standards in some states; (for example, Georgia and Massachusetts.) It lowers expectations for high school graduates by minimizing exposure to classic literature and by putting us years behind in math by catering to nonselective, community college standards.

Fact Check “devised by states”: In fact, Common Core was devised by unelected, unrepresentative groups in D.C., including Achieve, Inc., NGA and CCSSO. None of these groups are subject to sunshine laws, none are accountable to taxpayers/voters, and none represent the teachers or parents of this nation. Even the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman, has boasted that he talked the NGA into using “his” standards.

5 — “But the simple fact is, no one can defend the lower standards that we have across this country.”

Fact Check: Many can defend the high standards that were previously held by many states before dumbing down to Common Core. And they have.

Even more importantly, many defend the principle of local control as outlined in the Constitution and under federal G.E.P.A. law, which prohibits federal involvement in the direction of local education.

Christel Swasey
1987 Graduate of West Orange High School, Orlando, Florida
Current Utah Resident and Credentialed Utah Teacher

Dr. Gary Thompson to Deseret News: Let Readers Know the Truth about Common Core   3 comments

gary thompson

Guest Post by Dr. Gary Thompson

Forward by Christel Swasey: Dr. Gary Thompson is a valiant defender of children, not only in his clinic, but also in the public square. He’s written and spoken extensively about the damages to children via Common Core testing and standards. See his previous writings here and here and here and here.

This week, Dr. Thompson took on a reporter at the Deseret News, calling his reporting on Common Core “a case study of deception and lies by omission.” He points out that the reporter has omitted key facts such as the biggest elephant-in-the-room: the fact that huge financial interests are driving the marketing of Common Core in Utah. Thompson points out that the reporter did no follow up to fact-check the School Improvment Network’s (Common Core proponents) claims that opponents of Common Core are “misled”.

Thompson points out that Deseret News readers deserve to know what’s motivating Common Core proponents who throw out accusations against those questioning Common Core: they’re defending their financial interests, tooth and nail. They fight the idea of allowing full and legitimate public debate about Common Core to happen. It’s their rice bowl.

But it’s OUR KIDS.

The fact remains that there are serious questions about Common Core that remain unexplored by the general public despite the fact that the Common Core standards, tests and data collecting now governs their children’s lives.

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Guest Post by Dr. Thompson: (shortened from the original)

Deseret News and Common Core: A Case Study Of Deception and Lies by Omission.

16 September 2013 at 16:51


The following note is based on today’s Deseret News article titled, “Survey Shows Parent, Educator Support of Common Core” by Benjamin Woods. The link is provided here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865586457/Survey-shows-parent-educator-support-of-Common-Core.html

Dear Community:

I have no personal or monetary stake in the Common Core civil war unfolding all around us and gaining traction and attention nationwide. In fact, I have much to lose writing this post. First off, I have a clinic to run and manage that is not being managed while I waste an hour out of my day commenting on the latest Deseret News Article (“Survey Shows Parent Educator Support of Common Core” Benjamin Wood, September 13, 2013). Secondly, our clinic has a legal and ethical duty by law and practice not to produce misleading articles under the penalty of…well….not being able to feed our children. I am not a Common Core activist, I am not a member of the Tea Party, and we have previously announced our intention of getting out of the Common Core debate so that we focus on client care.

This, however, is different.

Pro or anti Common Core, I think we all as parents, taxpayers and citizens want to have accurate information on the subject so that we can all make independent choices regarding this very important issue. Considering what is at stake, having accurate, non-biased information is crucial. As a mainstream, well respected source of information, it is imperative that the Deseret News be a source of accurate and unbiased information when it comes to reporting what is going on in our public schools.

Unfortunately, the above cited article by Benjamin Woods of the Deseret News does not meet this criteria of accuracy and ethics. What Mr. Woods offered to parents in my community was simply a case study of “lies by omission.” Here is the definition of “lies by omission”:

“A “lie by omission” is a misrepresentation of fact when the failure to say something or to provide complete information would lead a reasonable person to an incorrect conclusion.”

As a local clinical community scientist, whenever I read information regarding the Common Core, I now only ask myself three questions:

1. Where are the references that support factual statements?

2. Are their any potential conflicts of interest or biases associated with the either the writer or the person being interviewed for the article?

3. What is this persons/organizations current or future financial stake in the issue presented?

In the case at hand, Deseret News does not provide one source of verification, reference or peer reviewed citations to support over 10 statements regarded as “factual” throughout the article. In addition, the subject being interviewed (Chet Linton) has multiple conflicts of interest not mentioned or reported by Mr. Woods, the biggest being a HUGE financial interest.

The Deseret News published the results of a survey from a private citizen from a private company. That in and of itself is fine. The following is what Deseret News & Mr. Wood omitted from their article:

Mr. Linton, a executive at the “School Improvement Network” is a unabashed, cheerleading supporter of Common Core with a obvious financial stake regarding the final outcome of Common Core…

…in summary, Deseret News published results of a “survey” and a subsequent “fact based article” that pretends that there is support for Common Core by teachers and parents based on and validated by the following flawed sources:

1. A private corporation that has a contract with the State of Utah education complex that is probably worth several millions of dollars.

2. An interview of a young executive from this same company who is probably receiving a hefty salary from the company.

3. The company that produced the survey has a very prominent link on its web page to private Common Core training items that it sells and distributes nationwide.

4. Allowing the subject of the article to bash opponents of Common Core as “misled” without naming who the opponents are (other than the psychologically manipulative link to “Republicans”) failing to interview the referenced “misled” people, and failing to provide one shred of data that supports the conjecture that Common Core opponents are, in fact, “misled.”

Read the rest: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Early-Life-Child-Psychological-Educational-Services-Inc/131916893532057#!/notes/early-life-child-psychological-educational-services-inc/deseret-news-common-core-a-case-study-of-deception-lies-by-omission/635753799778544

Who’s Protecting Children from the Unintended Damages of Common Core?   54 comments

crying child cc

Guest Post by Stacie R. Tawbush: mother, math major, and common core opponent from Leeds, Alabama

I’m about to be controversial but it’s about damn time somebody be.

For more than a year now I’ve talked about the effect that Common Core is having on my family and on my life in general – and what it’s doing to the morale of my children. CC has now been fully implemented. And just as other parents are starting to wake up – I’ve absolutely had all I can take!

We had another 3-hours-of -homework-night tonight. The kind of night I’ve told you all about. The kind of night some have called me a liar about.

Tonight, though, instead of taking a picture of the ridiculous math my child is being forced to do, I decided to take a picture of my child doing it. Call me insensitive, but I don’t care what you think. What I care about is my children. I see this on a regular basis and it’s time for others to see it, too… Because this is what Common Core really looks like.

This is Savannah. This is a 3rd grader at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night literally crying over her homework. This is a child hungry for knowledge – a child who loves to learn. This is a child with a broken spirit. I didn’t have to take several pictures to capture one that happened to include a tear, because the tears were pouring down her face. This is a very smart kid in the midst of feeling like a failure.

So: To those of you who tell me Common Core is a good thing. To those of you who claim it’s no different than what children have always done. To those who speak against it but don’t act. To those without the spine to stand up against political pressure. To those in which CC has just become another political talking point. To those who think we need the money from the federal government to sustain AL education. And to those who had a chance to stop this and didn’t…

Tonight I’m mad at YOU.

Tonight you share blame in making a child feel stupid and her [single] mother feel like a disappointment.

And guess what? This happened all over the state tonight. Not just in my house. You had a hand in that, too.

Finally: To the warriors out there who’ve been fighting this as long (or longer) as I have. To the parents who just heard about CC yesterday. To the few politicians who refuse to back into the darkness. To the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who are seeing this everyday in your own home…

This is why we’re so passionate.

This is why we fight.

Fight On.

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Postscript from Stacie Tawbush:

“It is not that the teacher is assigning massive amounts of homework. It is that the Common Core way of solving math problems is irrational. I sit up with her as long as I need to to help her understand equations. I teach her every which way to solve an equation – even algorithms! If we didn’t do this, my daughter would still be struggling to add. I blame nothing on the teachers. The blame is on the curriculum. I am a math major and cannot wrap my brain around how these teachers are being forced to teach the kids math. It takes us 3 hours to work through 5 or 6 word problems. I’m not worried about her getting the assignment completed… I’m worried about her learning.” -Stacie R. Tawbush

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Postscript from Christel Swasey:

Child psychologists agree with what Stacie Tawbush is saying. Increasingly, clinical psychologists are speaking out about Common Core’s inappropriate standards and pressure, especially on the lower grades.

Here in Utah, Joan Landes and Gary Thompson have spoken out. Dr. Thompson calls Common Core and its testing program “cognitive child abuse.”

gary thompson

Dr. Thompson has written:

“There are kids/teens (as well as adults like myself) who will never master “symbolic processing” of numbers and math concepts…..just like I will never be able to hit a 90 mile per hour fastball 385 feet over the left field wall in Dodger Stadium.

Ever.

We have high functioning, genius IQ autistic/Aspergers kids who, despite demonstrated giftedness in math, will never be able to answer this question due to their brains’ inability to process anything symbolically….let alone stuck at a desk in front of a computer screen.

Tens of thousands of Utah public school children will never be able to process math in this manner over the course of their public school education.

This is cognitive child abuse.”

joan landes

Utah Child Psychologist Joan Landes explained in an email:

“I agree that CC standards are not only developmentally inappropriate for youngsters, they focus on a very limited range of learning modalities (neo-cortical left-brain areas) thus limiting future abilities to learn much more complex subjects. The CC developers entirely missed the point of early/young childhood education when they focus on either the acquisition of facts (losing the opportunity to develop other areas of the brain to enhance future learning capabilities) or by making demands for abstract reasoning before developmentally ready (which will create a myriad of behavioral, emotional and learning problems). In addition, because the standards and assessments are so hyper-focused and high pressured for rigid cognitive (left-brain) activities, the children who have learning disabilities and/or delays will find school even more destructive to self-confidence and flexible learning.

In my opinion, a better approach to education in the primary grades would incorporate many of the tried and true activities from the first part of the 20th century to activate many disperate areas of their incredibly plastic brain (not to mention a child’s heart): Learning an instrument, Character values, Art, Sports, Games, Penmanship, Speaking, Singing, Reading and listening to narrative fiction and poetry and memorization (the kids even used to memorize poetry in foreign languages!). These activities (while not meeting a fact-acquisition or analytical benchmark) nevertheless activates critical areas of the brain which increases later connections exponentially.

Where’s the CC assessment for creativity? Or innovation? Integrity? Or emotional intelligence? It is a grave mistake to force youngsters to limit their brain activities to narrow interests, thus diminishing future originality and future ability to learn. It is a graver mistake to neglect educating the heart with character values, thus producing unfeeling, self-centered “clever devils” at graduation.”

Additionally, at a Notre Dame Conference this month, Dr. Megan Koschnick spoke out on the same topic.

Her remarkable speech at the University of Notre Dame was filmed and is posted here.

Study the Common Core Money War   4 comments

This week’s Politico article entitled “The Common Core Money War” made me snort. While the authors admitted that the Gates Foundation has spent almost 200 million pushing Common Core on the masses, they asserted that opponents of Common Core (that would be people like me) are “backed by an array of organizations with multimillion dollar budgets.”

Not very funny. Not very true.

I am an example of the opposition to Common Core. I may be just one mom/teacher/voice against Common Core. But I can testify that I have never received a penny for any of my work against Common Core, and neither have my friends in this battle.

We spend countless hours researching government documents and attending boring school board meetings, write hundreds and hundreds of blog articles based on hours of research; plead with legislators and our governor; speak to groups and to the media. Our “stop common core” work is very tightly sandwiched time, budgeted between teaching school, changing diapers, doing laundry, being wives and mothers and church people.

We don’t sleep a lot and our houses aren’t all that tidy. We do this because it MUST BE DONE.

We are protecting our children and our Constitution. This is the only reason we work so hard.

We lose money in this fight; we pay for all our photocopies and the gas in our cars to drive to give speeches all over Utah. Notice: the reason there are no donate buttons on this blog, and the reason I haven’t paid WordPress the $100 they charge to get rid of their ads at the bottom of my page, the reason I don’t choose to accept ads or to make money off this blog is simple: I think I would lose credibility if this became a paid job for me. I think I would watch my words too carefully, be too careful of who I might offend, be afraid to speak out of my heart, be afraid to quote religious leaders or business leaders. WordPress is the only entity making money off my anti-common core fight.

There may be salaried folk at FreedomWorks or some of the think tanks that are against Common Core, but none of them are paid off by the conflict-of-interest, Microsoft-owning, Pearson-partnering Leviathan of all Grantmaking, Bill Gates.

And almost all of the Common Core proponents are paid by Gates. Follow the money trail: National PTA: paid by Gates to advocate. Harvard: paid by Gates to advocate. Jeb Bush: Paid by Gates to advocate. National Governors’ Association and Council of Chief State School Officers: Paid by Gates to develop and advocate for the Common Core.

But Politico is right about one thing: there is definitely a Common Core Money War going on. Lots of people ARE GETTING SO RICH because of the Common Core gold rush.

Just today in the Salt Lake City paper, Deseret News, I saw this little doozy: Companies are announcing plans to bring over a thousand new jobs to Utah. Guess what almost all of them are? Common Core jobs. Jobs that are Common Core dependent.

The article states: “The School Improvement Network provides tools and resources to educators to help them improve their teaching ability and meet the needs of all students. Over the 10-year life of the agreement, the company will pay out more than $5.9 million in new state wages… School Improvement Network will pay more than $15 million in new state taxes and invest more than $10 million in capital expansion at the Utah-based offices….’Utah is increasingly known as the emerging Wall Street of the West,’ Gov. Gary Herbert said. “The opening of the new office by Indus Valley Partners demonstrates the capabilities of Utah’s educated and hardworking workforce’”

Governor Herbert is more concerned with Utah making money by using Common Core technologies and Common Core sales products than he is concerned with making sure we haven’t been sold snake oil. But we have.

The Governor’s never done a cost analysis on Common Core although he promised us in a face to face meeting that he would.

He’s never looked into the fact that Common Core is an unpiloted experiment on children that throws out time-tested classical education and local control of education in favor of a collective notion of federally supervised and funded tests and standards.

I don’t care how much money Common Core implementation could make for our state. So could legalizing gambling, prostitution and drugs. It’s so wrong.

Common Core’s an academic scam, a prime example of –in Dr. Chris Tienken’s words– dataless decisionmaking. It’s a crime against the Constitutional right to determine education locally. Its tests are a robbery of student privacy and student time.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/education-common-core-standards-schools-96964.html#ixzz2fG7XltoA

Stop Common Core.

Bergen County, New Jersey: Resolution to Stop Common Core   1 comment

Bergen County, NJ has put together a resolution against Common Core stanards and tests.

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Resolution in Opposition to Common Core Standards and Assessments
Adopted by Both Democrats and Republicans
Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders
September 17, 2013
(The text of the Resolution is copied below these comments.)

With sincere and heartfelt appreciation, please join me in thanking all of our Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their unanimous vote earlier tonight opposing Common Core Standards and Assessments, and, in particular, Vice-Chairwoman Joan Voss (D) and Freeholder John Mitchell (R) who jointly sponsored and actively lobbied for this important Resolution! Had you been there to hear all their wonderful comments, (and I hope to share the entirety with you soon as such must be circulated – not only in New Jersey – but across the USA), you would have been as overwhelmed as I with thankfulness for their passion, understanding, and commitment to the wise education of our children. Further, the date of this passage is significant: on September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was adopted. The very wording of this Resolution honors that as Common Core violates Constitutional law by granting the United States power that the Constitution reserves for the States and we the people.

It has been my extraordinary privilege to appear before this august body on several occasions sharing a multitude of information concerning the topic of this Resolution. In each appearance, I have experienced their utmost respect, sincere concern, and obvious careful examination of all presented. It is impressive to note that members of both Parties came together, in unanimity, to oppose this unconstitutional, expensive takeover and dumbing down of the education of children.

Joining me tonight to express our appreciation was Kim Barron and Susan Winton. Kim’s son, Jordan, a student in 8th grade, was our *star* witness! He spoke with ease, experience, and excellence regarding why he opposes Common Core. He had also been our *star* when he testified before the New Jersey State Board of Education and at a “Stop Common Core” press conference this month in Trenton with Kim, Nora Brower, Barbara and Bill Eames, Jan Lenox, Michelle Mellon, and Roseann Salanitri.

Please thank the Freeholders:
David L. Ganz, Freeholder Chairman, 201-336-6280
Joan M. Voss, Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman, 201-336-6279 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John D. Mitchell, Freeholder, 201-336-6277 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John A. Felice, Freeholder, 201-336-6275
Maura DeNicola, Freeholder, 201-336-6276
Steven A. Tanelli, Freeholder, 201-336-6278
Tracy Silna Zur, Freeholder, 201-336-6281

http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/FormCenter/Freeholder-3/Contact-a-Freeholder-34

BERGEN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS RESOLUTION
IN OPPOSITION OF
COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

WHEREAS, the Board of Chosen Freeholders believes that the Common Core State Standards initiative is not representative of Bergen County’s residents but rather developed by non-governmental organizations and unelected boards outside of Bergen County.

WHEREAS, the Common Core is financed by private foundation funds and is therefore influenced by private interest and not representative of our voters.

WHEREAS, the Common Core violates privacy laws by requiring storage and sharing of private student and family data without individuals consent.

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Education Association urges the State to “slow down a headlong rush to over-rely on student test scores to evaluate teachers in New Jersey”.

WHEREAS, the Common Core has been repudiated by both Republicans and Democrats and it has been stated that curriculum reform should be done at the state level.

WHEREAS, the Common Core violates Constitutional and Federal Law by granting the United States powers which the Constitution reserves for the States, or to the people.

WHEREAS, the New Jersey General Assembly and New Jersey Senate have introduced legislation to further investigate the principals of The Common Core Initiative, and that The Bergen Board of Chosen Freeholders fully supports the passage of *A4197 and *S2973.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders opposes The Common Core Initiative; asks Congress and the Administration to withdraw support and discontinue funding The Common Core Standards Initiative.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution shall be delivered to Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Jeffrey Chiesa, Governor Chris Christie, Congressman William Pascrell, Congressman Albio Sires, Congressman Scott Garrett, and the entire State Legislative Delegation from Bergen County.

*http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S3000/2973_I1.HTM
*http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A4500/4197_I1.HTM

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Professors Provide Proof Georgia Math and English Standards Were Better Before Common Core   Leave a comment

In July (2013) a report was issued (at the request of Georgia Senator William Ligon) that compares Georgia’s pre-Common Core standards to Georgia’s now-adopted Common Core standards.

Oh, boy.

You can read the full reports at the Senator’s web page, here and you can see the web page of Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, the Georgia math professor who provided the report, here. You can also read the report of Dr. Sandra Stotsky who provided the English Language Arts segment for Senator Ligon’s report, here.

There are a few vital highlights that I want to share.

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From Dr. Bacallao’s math report:</strong>

“What is missing in the new Common Core Math Standards? A few examples:

- Mean, median, mode, and range — gone in elementary grades.

- The concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles – gone in elementary grades.

- The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (prime factorization) – gone completely.

- Using fractions, decimals, and percents interchangeably — gone completely.

- Measurement -density – no measurement instruction after 5th grade.

- Division of a fraction by a fraction – gone in elementary grades.

- Algebra — inadequate readiness in the elementary grades and pushed back one year (from middle school – 8th grade – to high school – 9th grade). This means the majority of Georgia students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities.

- Geometry — simple skills such as calculating the area of triangles, parallelograms and polygons are no longer taught in elementary grades.”

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Highlights from Dr. Stotsky’s English Language Arts report for Georgia:

“1. Georgia should re-adopt its previous standards with some revisions spelled out below because they are far superior to Common Core’s. They emphasize reading far more than does Common Core, they stress the kind of reading (literary study) that fosters critical thinking, and they serve as far better guides to the kind of reading that secondary students in Georgia should be assigned in the school curriculum whether they choose to go to an institution of higher education, go into an occupational trade, or go into the military.

2. Georgia should base its state assessments in reading and literature on its previous standards, not on Common Core’s inferior English language arts standards. It would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money to base state assessments on a set of standards that needs to be completely revised, if not abandoned.

3. Georgia’s legislators should ask literary and humanities scholars at their own fine universities to work with a group of experienced and well-trained high school English teachers to design a readiness test in reading and literature for admission to Georgia’s own colleges and universities. They should also ask engineering, science and mathematics faculty at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology to design a readiness test in mathematics and science for admission to Georgia’s own higher education institutions, as well as the syllabi for the advanced mathematics and science coursework this faculty wants to see Georgia high school students take. Georgia can do much better than Common Core’s standards or tests for these purposes. Georgia does not need federal education policy-makers (or test developers) to decide what admission requirements to Georgia’s colleges and universities should be in reading, literature, mathematics, or science.

4. Before Georgia uses its previous ELA standards to guide classroom curriculum and state testing, the legislature should require them to be reviewed and vetted by experienced Georgia high school teachers and literary scholars at its own colleges and universities.
a. Some standards belong at the graduate level.
b. Some standards are repetitious, superfluous, or non-accessable.
c. The Reading Across the Curriculum (RC) standards should be removed. They are inappropriate for English teachers and English classes.
d. All of the standards for “multicultural” literature should be folded as appropriate into grade 8 or the high school courses for American, British and world literature. High quality literary works by “multicultural” authors are part of one of these bodies of literature and should not be isolated.”

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Post Script:

The fact is, the Common Core standards are an unpiloted experiment. School boards and governors signed on to them via federal coercion, to get a shot at the Race to the Top grant money. It was never about academic superiority. (That part about “international competitiveness” and “rigor” has always been an unverifiable claim / lie.)

So as brilliant and helpful as the above explanations are in educating Americans about the tragic weaknesses of Common Core, I still feel that ultimately, long term, the discussion –about whether Common Core Standards are worse or better in any given state– barely even matters. It’s always been about control of the American people and their schools; it’s never really been about raising educational standards.

Georgia (and every other state that adopted Common Core) should reject Common Core, yes. –But not primarily for the reason that previous standards were better. The standards should be rejected because they rob states of their Constitutionally guaranteed right to determine educational standards locally.

Nationally controlled education systems have been a well-known hallmark of tyrannies throughout modern history. The only thing standing between Americans and modern day kinglike tyranny is our separation of powers and our clearly defined state sovereignties outlined in the U.S. Constitution. And Common Core disrespects that– in pursuit of collectivity; of monopoly on thought, curriculum and education sales products.

Common Core pushes the nationalization of education not only federally (the Dept. of Ed used grants as a lure and NCLB waivers as a threat) but also corporate-wise (Common Core uses the biggest ed sales company on earth –Pearson– that is officially partnered with the 2nd richest man in the world –Gates–to create one size fits all curriculum and a uniform customer base.) This public-private partnershipping circumvents the American voter. We are left on the sidelines.

Just yesterday I was speaking with a friend about her kindergarten teacher/friend who says that she loves the Common Core standards, because teachers used to introduce new letters to kindergarteners too slowly and now they do many more letters fast.

(Here, I took a deep breath. I’d heard this so many times before: one can always find teachers who like Common Core, just as you can find teachers who hate Common Core. But the argument misses the more important issue: of future control of standards.)

I said, “Ask the teacher what she’d think if Common Core’s writers next year announced that they will be introducing all 26 letters of the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten. Think about it. If Common Core has the power to raise a standard in an area, it also has the power to lower it– or to raise it so high that it hurts children. The point is, why should the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors’ Association hold the right to sit there in D.C. and tell us in our state how fast to introduce kindergarterners to the letters of the alphabet?”

Common Core is education without represenation. Whether the standards are academically better or worse is NOT the issue. Whether school boards, teachers and parents remain free to chart the course for their own students is the issue.

Those who hold the power over Common Core Standards (the private, unaccountable organizations that hold the copyright on these standards: NGA and CCSSO) can and will change them. They could take Dr. Bacallao’s and Dr. Stotsky’s recommendations and turn out new and improved Common Core standards. Or they could take the advice of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and actually lower national education standards further and further. Not kidding. The NCEE actually says this out loud: “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers… the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

So arguing about the academic value of the Common Core standards seems to me a little bit pointless. Good or bad, they still put us in a position of helplessness by their governance structure and testing structure and data collection schemes.

Good or bad, the Common Core standards still leave us out of decisionmaking regarding national or local standards for learning and testing. They leave us powerless and unrepresented. As American education has morphed into the opposite of freedom and self-determination under the Common Core agenda, we’ve also become powerless to alter the data-mining (without parental consent) that is such a huge part of the Common Core. Interoperable databases are aligning all states’ standards, tests, teacher accountability systems and technological capacities (interoperabilities) –under federal supervision.

Isn’t it ironic that the Common Core debate is barely even about education –it’s about political and corporate power.

We The People, are losing our constitutional rights and freedoms.

Fight back. The stakes could not be higher. We are talking about the liberty of our children. Don’t let Common Core win.

September 4 2013 371

Bold Alton New Hampshire School Board Votes to Reject Common Core   5 comments

A local New Hampshire school board voted yesterday to drop Common Core.

According to a Laconia Sun report, one woman cited the N.H. state motto, “Live free or die,” and asked, “why would we want to take federal money? Once you let the government in, you can’t get rid of it. It gets bigger and bigger.”

But teacher Richard Kirby observed that despite the vote, students will have to take the Common Core test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) — which is formatted to measure Common Core standards.

The school district is, for now, obligated by the state to test students under the Common Core nationally aligned tests, and on the very Common Core standards just rejected by the local school board.

But that testing obligation could change. Many states have dropped membership in SBAC and PARCC, synchronized testing groups which are federally supervised, federally financed, and federally data-collecting.

Reading the comments of New Hampshire citizens quoted in the Laconia Sun highlights a tragic lack of understanding that exists even among policymakers, about Common Core.

For example, Superintendent William Lander assured citizens that “there is no mining of data,” and said privacy of students is protected. How interesting that the superintendent is still –as most superintendents still are– apparently unaware of his state’s federally funded and federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) , and unaware of the federal EdFacts Data collection project that the SLDS feeds, and unaware of the national data collection programs that are Common Core dependent, including EIMAC, a division of a national superintendents’ club (Council of Chief State School Officers, the private group that co-developed and co-copyrighted the standards) They simply don’t know what is going on because it’s not part of what Common Core proponents explain when they share their talking points that market Common Core to the nation.

The Laconia Daily Sun reported that NH Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) said officials of the New Hampshire Department of Education could not even answer basic questions about the program. Rep. Cormier said, “they’re making it up as they go along,” and asked, “why should we adopt something when we don’t have all the answers?”

But Stephen Miller, one of the local board members who had voted to remain associated with the Common Core Initiative, claimed, “This is not a political issue. It’s an education issue.” Hmm.

I see it exactly in the opposite way, Mr. Miller. To me, Common Core is not an educational issue; it’s a political control issue. Why? Because these education standards are likely to be changed (by those who own copyright) and are impossible to affect (by those governed by the standards). So we can’t even nail down, long term, what the standards are, or legitimately call them good or bad since they’re set far away are are utterly out of our local control, folks.

Yet. Proponents of Common Core have quite successfully disguised this as an educational issue, as an improvement upon education. They’ve lured us. They’ve (falsely) asserted that Common Core is a time-tested, proven system of top standards that will solve the nation’s educational challenges –without harming local ability to innovate or control education.

Common Core’s marketing has been snake-oil salesmanship from the start. No evidence exists to support those lofty claims. The Common Core has no pilot studies to point to, no long-term empirical evidence that shows that the theories on which it rests will bring about desired results. In fact, its educational theories (which include reducing the amount of classic literature and narrative writing students engage in; slowing the pace at which algorithms are taught, etc.) have been condemned by top members of the Common Core validation committee, who have refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.

But even that academic condemnation is irrelevant when you consider the fact that NO educational standards are going to be settled science. Education is always going to be an issue to be debated, innovated upon, argued, and there is no ONE way that works best in every school, for every state. Think about this fact carefully, again and again: that there is no representative amendment process for the commonly held standards. That’s bad!

If New Hampshire, Utah and Florida were to privately agree that they wanted to change things, for example, and they decided that they wanted to have 100% classic literature and zero informational texts in their high school literature classes (rather than sticking with the Common Core mandate of cutting away 70% of the classics) –how would they go about persuading Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia and the others to alter the standards? And then, if somehow all 45 states agreed that more classic literature would truly be more legitimate college prep, well, it would still be too-bad-so-sad-for-us!

Because there is no representation by the states in the copywritten, privately-held standards initiative. The NGA and CCSSO hold copyright over the standards and only these unaccountable groups can alter OUR standards. Adding insult to injury, the federal government put a 15% cap on top of the copyright, so states aren’t allowed to add more than 15% to the commonly held standards.

But still worse, look at the tests. The assessments themselves –anchored in the unalterable (by us) Common standards– actually cement states’ lack of power over their own standards. Because there’s not even a 15% flexibility in the Common Core aligned testing.

What does all of this mean in practical terms?

What does it mean, for example, that teachers say that they like some (or even all) aspects of Common Core, as some verifiably do?

Short term, it’s fine and good.

But long term, it means nothing. It’s utterly meaningless. It’s like discussing the arrangement of sun chairs on the deck of the Titanic. Why spend time talking about something not likely to remain in place, something beyond our control –and all because we chose to jump onboard?

We locals can’t control, influence, or improve on the common standards and tests. It is out of our hands.

Our state school boards and governors most likely did not realize it at the time, yet they sold our state educational birthright when they adopted Common Core. They sold our data privacy birthright when they adopted federally articulated and funded State Longitudinal Database Systems.

We are not now in our Consitutionally correct place of sitting in the driver’s seat. We the People must wake up and stop Common Core.

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Read the whole report by the Laconia Sun on Alton’s rejection of Common Core here.

A Republic of Republics: Robert Scott on Common Core   7 comments

Robert Scott is the former Texas Commissioner of Education and the man responsible for the heroic “No Thanks” that Texas gave to Common Core, back when virtually every other state was swallowing that pill for a shot at the Race to the Top millions.

This week, Pioneer Institute has published a white paper by Robert Scott that explains why preserving the local control guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution demands stopping funding for Common Core. It is called “A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education“.

Its summary states:

“… the United States has witnessed a sweeping effort to dramatically alter how educational systems are governed and standards and curricula are developed. … the federal government has succeeded in fundamentally altering the relationships between Washington and the states… participating states have ceded their autonomy to design and oversee the implementation of their own standards and tests. The implications of ceding this autonomy are varied. Not only do some states risk sacrificing high quality standards for national standards that may be less rigorous, all states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn…”

That last line is the hardest punch in the gut to any of us, from Common Core: “All states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn.”

We may see great damages from Common Core’s confusing math, limitation of classic literature, discouraged cursive, or creation of a monopoly on thought throughout the textbook publishing industry. And yes, all these things are bad.

But the real and incomparable tragedy is the loss of control, and the twin fact that those who have lost it refuse to admit it’s gone.

This is why Robert Scott’s paper is so important. It helps expose the lie that the general public has been led to believe. That lie is everywhere; just look around you. All over countless official school board websites in various states who have fallen victim to Common Core, you see the same thing: a claim that local control remains in place, under Common Core.

But as Robert Scott explains, Common Core is a control grab by the federal government partnering with private groups, circumventing We, The People:

“… my original response to the effort was one of “wait and see.” If something truly remarkable came out of such a process, it would be foolish for Texas not to incorporate it into our curriculum frameworks. Unfortunately, that was not the offer. Once we were told that states had to adopt the so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math with only a marginal opportunity for differentiation, it was clear that this was not about collaboration among the states. It was about control by the federal government and a few national organizations who believe they will be the ones to operate this new machinery.”

I have to comment. Those “few national organizations” that Mr. Scott referred to include two big-boys’ clubs that I can not stomach: the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) . Its members are not elected by the public, and they’re under no sunshine laws for accountability or transparency to taxpayers.

They work under the radar. The un-transparent and private groups have no authority to be setting state or national educational standards, yet they do it anyway. They are even the basis upon which Arne Duncan labels Common Core a “state-led” movement.

These groups happen to include many (but not all) governors and superintendents. These groups form the backbone of Common Core governance and exclude all states from any amendment process to the shared standards. These groups solely developed and copyrighted the standards –by their own claim. And they were funded, by the multi-millions by Bill Gates, another influence we can’t un-elect. These groups represent a big part of the problem: public-private-partnerships (P3) totally circumvent local authority and voter’s voices. And they run contrary to the spirit of Constitutional respect for local control. Who voted them in? Nobody. Yet they birthed Common Core which has almost entirely taken over American schooling and testing.

This “new” governance system is a direction we have to turn around from or risk losing all local autonomy.

Robert Scott writes: “…if we continue down the current path to national education standards and tests, the United States stands to lose that which makes our education system unique among nations: our long tradition of state and local autonomy. It is important to remember that American schools were established in towns and cities by parents and community members who saw the value of formal education. This organic approach ultimately led to a system of compulsory education overseen by each state, but until now, the tradition of local schooling has largely been maintained. American public schools are governed by local school boards and committees comprised of parents and community members. Even at the state level, citizens with an understanding of local norms and interests drive decision-making processes around standards and curricula. These facts beg the question: If we nationalize standards and testing in this country, what is the real impact of the likely loss of state and local autonomy and input?”

Please read the rest.

File This Under We Are Not a Monarchy: “Off With Their Heads” Statement from Arne Duncan to California   3 comments

In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.

But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!

I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”

Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.

And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.

Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law states:

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

Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”

Accountability and transparency to whom?

States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.

We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.

Remember this: Duncan lacks the authority. He only has the audacity. And Congress is letting him run amok with our tax money. Congress needs to reel him in, as Paul Horton and Chuck Grassley and so many others have been declaring.

So, here’s Duncan’s statement:

“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.

“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em

And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:

“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.

Democrats and Republicans Agree: Please Listen. Stop Funding Common Core.   5 comments

It’s interesting to see such striking similarities in what Republicans and Democrats are saying about the need to stop Common Core by not funding it, and by returning the money to legitimate and local education.

These Democrats and Republicans who have done their homework (and who are not funded by the Gates-Common Core machine as most Common Core advocates are) agree: because Common Core ends local control and liberty, Americans have to stop feeding the standardization-of-education beast and must start funding legitimate, classical education.

The buck stops (isn’t this an ironic sentence?) –with funding.

Compare what both Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and what activist Paul Horton, an Illinois Democrat and current high school history teacher, have vocally (and repeatedly) said.

From Sen. Grassley:

I seek to eliminate further U.S. Department of Education interference with state decisions on academic content standards by using Congress’s power of the purse to prohibit any further federal funds being used to advance any particular set of academic content standards. Whether states adopt or reject the Common Core Standards should be between the citizens of each state and their state elected officials. State governments must be able to make that decision, or to change their decision, based on direct accountability to the citizens of their states, free from any federal coercion.”

Meanwhile, from Paul Horton*, a Democratic high school history teacher (who wrote to his Senator, Richard Durbin (Democrat from Illinois):

“Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB [No Child Left Behind], RTTT [Race to the Top], and I don’t want Mr. [U.S. Education Secretary Arne] Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!”

In Michigan, Common Core has already been defunded. And other states are working hard to follow suit.

*Paul Horton’s full letter is posted below:

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Dear Senator Durbin,

Please listen more closely……

RTTT will not reduce achievement gaps. No research supports RTTT on this matter. The only thing that will reduce the achievement gaps id full employment,
livable wages, and more investment in neighborhood schools to supply support staff, clinics, and four well qualified teachers in every classroom of no more than twenty-two students. We need to pursue policies that attract the best people that we can into the classroom like Finland. It should be an honor to be a teacher because it is an honorable profession.

This administration has chosen to vilify teachers. Most credible studies show that we have 3% of teachers nationally that are ineffective, but current punitive policies discourage most from considering the profession. This party has turned its back on a very loyal, well educated, and hardworking constituency. If you continue these policies, you no longer deserve the support of teachers.

I strongly encourage you to look to what Singapore, Finland, and China are doing, which is quite the opposite of RTTT.

Our current policies are a boondoggle for Pearson Education, Microsoft, and Achieve, etc. You simply must see through the smoke! Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan are following the precepts of Democrats for Education Reform. The Wall Street bundlers who have supported RTTT and private charters are acting under a quid pro quo deal made between them and those in the current administration who decided to choose Mr. Duncan over Ms. Darling-Hammond. The trade-off is money for national Democratic campaigns in exchange for policies that will lead to more school privatization. This is becoming increasingly obvious to more citizens.

Shame on this party!

What is happening is absurdly crass. The money that will go to Illinois testing for the RTTT will not stimulate the economy of Illinois. We are talking about an estimated $733 million dollars. Why should this money go to Pearson Education?

Pearson Education produces shoddy product, look at their record. We may as well be flushing taxpayer’s money down the toilet.

You know people who are very close to the Joyce Foundation that has fed the Chicago Tribune misinformation.

The DOJ Anti-Trust Division needs to investigate Pearson Education. I attach a complaint to the Federal DA that has been circulating among thousands of citizens in Northern Illinois. The Education Secretary is in clear violation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and this administration
is doing its best to protect him by not allowing him to respond to specific questions.

Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB, RTTT, and I don’t want Mr. Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved
districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending
for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!

You have recently voiced much concern about gun violence in Chicago. Senator Durbin, consider the effect o the failure of 70% (RTTT Pearson Education
developed tests) of the students on the South and West sides. The citizens of New York state are currently experiencing this immoral fiasco. What will happen
to the dropout rate when this happens? We will not be preparing students for college, we will be preparing them for prison. I live in Woodlawn, and the young
people already say school is increasingly like prison. Wake up!

Invest remaining education funds in people, not corporations, and not in standardized testing. I thought that the Democratic Party was supposed to listen
to the people. More and more people are beginning to see through Mr. Duncan’s blatant misrepresentations.

We need education that serves kids, not the plutocrats this party is in bed with.

All the best and remember the working people,

Paul Horton
1364 E. 64th #1
Chicago, Il. 60637

Opt Out Form And Miracles   5 comments

Utahns Against Common Core posted an opt-out form today that anyone may use to inform a school district that a child will not be participating in the Common Core testing and data collection program. Find it here.

In addition, Utahns Against Common Core posted a video clip from a new movie featuring the President of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It is called “Miracles.”

The video was posted with the opt out form because it will be a long-sought for miracle when parents take the reins of their children’s educational lives and say “no” to Common Core’s totally experimental testing and data collection program.

It will be a miracle when state boards of education and legislatures realize that “We the People” have actually woken up and stood up to their top down control efforts; that we will not allow the invasion of our children’s privacy– not by state nor by federal forces; and that we will not allow the invasion of our state’s sovereignty over education. They will hear that we will have a voice in what goes on in our children’s testing.

It will be a miracle to see parents take a stand in their rightful place as primary protectors of local control, a right that we hold under Constitution.

Why is it so important? Because testing Common Core’s standards is the key to the whole Common Core agenda. That’s where the control lies. The tests sets the pace for Common Core’s monopoly on text types to be bought, on stifling innovation in any other direction, on aligning private curricula nationally, on controlling teachers’ use of instructional time, and on tracking children and teachers.

Parents hold the key to that key. Teachers or principals can’t do it; they’ll lose their jobs.

But parents saying no to the Common Core tests can become the force that ends the unconstitutional losses of Common Core’s centralized decision-making and data-collection in D.C.’s agencies and organizations.

Remember that no matter how many times the state school board says “adopting Common Core as Utah’s own “Utah Core” standards was the board’s constitutional right under the Utah constitution” –still, the effect of that decision– robbing our state of local control of education– was wrong under the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law which have long made educational decision making a state’s right.

Remember the words of James Madison:

“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads, other than post roads. In short, everything,from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called if Congress pleased provisions for the general welfare … I venture to declare it as my opinion, that were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundation, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America…” – James Madison

In short, Madison said: if we allow the centralization of education we subvert the very foundation of what has made us free.

While my own school has promised that there will be no academic punishment for my public school attending child who opts out of the Common Core test, I have received emails from parents in other areas of Utah where the opposite was said. These parents were told that their child would receive a non-proficient score and would be academically penalized for opting out of the test.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether fear of getting an undeserved failing grade outweighs our desire to preserve local control of education, a constitutional right. That is a personal decision.

I opt out.

Which Governors Stand Up Against Nat’l Governors’ Association and Common Core?   3 comments

LePage Maine Governor 2

I laughed out loud a year ago, when I read what Governor LePage of Maine said upon withdrawing Maine’s membership in the National Governors’ Association. Along with citing the waste of taxpayer’s money on NGA “membership dues” ($60,000 per year) LePage described NGA meetings as “too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey, and no decisions are ever made.”

But Governor LePage of Maine made much bigger news this week when he issued an executive order opposing Common Core, and stated: “I don’t believe in Common Core. I believe in raising standards in education.”

Indeed.

An increasing number of Governors now openly oppose Common Core, although the National Governors’ Association co-created and copyrighted the Common Core.

Governor Haley of South Carolina backed a bill to block Common Core. Governor Deal of Georgia issued an executive order to address the crisis of Common Core. Governor Pence of Indiana signed legislation to halt Common Core for at least one year in his state. Governor Bentley of Alabama has condemned Common Core, saying that having just one national standard in place “goes against the intent of the founding fathers of the United States.”

When Texas Governor Perry rejected Common Core, he said, “The academic standards of Texas are not for sale,” and has explained that the reason Texas doesn’t pay National Governors’ Association (NGA) dues is that the Governor doesn’t believe the $100,000 cost to Texas taxpayers was justifiable.

According to CNN, way back in 2011, Texas, South Carolina and Idaho were not paying NGA dues.

But Utah’s Governor Herbert remains on the Executive Committee of the National Governor’s Association, Utah taxpayers continue to pay dues for the Governor’s NGA membership, and both the Governor and the State School Board are advocates of NGA and of Common Core.

Top Ten Professors Calling Out Common Core’s So-called College Readiness   114 comments

I can hardly wait to quote these ten brilliant American professors who have spoken out to say that the Common Core is far from its claim of representing academic excellence; that it’s a sheer academic tragedy.

But before I share the professors’ words, let me tell you what sparked today’s post.

I saw for the first time this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) that says OUT LOUD that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.

No joke. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Outragous, yes. But absolutely factual: this is what they are telling America: Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

(Maybe Common Core proponents better quit using the word “rigorous.”)

So, the NCEE report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

They just trashed English lit. And, in calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents only underscore the socialist mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the mind and soul of the individual.

A TOP TEN LIST OF AMERICAN PROFESSORS WHO SPEAK OUT AGAINST COMMON CORE

First, Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island:

“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.”

Second, Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire:

The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Third, Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College:

“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 Requiem… 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… 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.”

Fourth, Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University:

“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”

Fifth and Sixth, Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University) and Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas):

“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or
endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students.
At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College
Readiness Level?
by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky

Seventh, Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University:

“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”

Eighth, Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University:

“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.

So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.

But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Ninth: Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College:

“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”

Tenth: Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado

“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap.
• For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum.
• The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased.
• Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs.
• The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

Notre Dame Conference Address of Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee   11 comments

notre dame conference

On Monday, at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Sandra Stotsky will present a white paper about Common Core’s validation committee at a conference entitled “The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core.” It is posted below.

A few of powerful points from Dr. Stotsky’s paper:

1. “One aspect of the ELA standards that remained untouchable despite the consistent criticisms I sent to the standards writers… was David Coleman’s
idea that nonfiction or informational texts should occupy at least half of the readings in every English class, to the detriment of classic literature… Even though all the historical and empirical evidence weighed against this concept, his idea was apparently set in stone.”

2. “The standards were created by people who wanted a “Validation Committee” in name only. An invalid process, endorsed by an invalid Validation Committee, resulted not surprisingly in invalid standards.”

3. “Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.”

4. “There has been no validation of Common Core’s standards by a public process, nor any validation of its college-readiness level in either mathematics or English language arts by the relevant higher education faculty in this country… It is possible to consider the original vote by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void, regardless of whether a state board of education now chooses to recall its earlier vote. Any tests based on these invalid standards are also invalid, by definition.”

Dr. Stotsky has permitted widespread publication of her paper, and it is posted here.

notredame

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Common Core’s Invalid Validation Committee

Sandra Stotsky


Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas

Paper prepared for a conference at University of Notre Dame

September 9, 2013

Common Core’s K-12 standards, it is regularly claimed, emerged from a state-led process in which experts and educators were well represented. But the people who wrote the standards did not represent the relevant stakeholders. Nor were they qualified to draft standards intended to “transform instruction
for every child.” And the Validation Committee (VC) that was created to put the seal of approval on the drafters’ work was useless if not misleading, both in its membership and in the procedures they had to follow.

I served as the English language arts (ELA) standards expert on that committee and will describe today some of the deficiencies in its make-up, procedures, and outcome. The lack of an authentic validation of Common Core’s so-called college-readiness standards (by a committee consisting largely of discipline based higher education experts who actually teach freshmen and other undergraduates mathematics or English/humanities courses) before state boards of education voted to adopt these standards suggests their votes had no legal basis. In this paper, I set forth a case for declaring the votes by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void—and any tests based on them.

For many months after the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was launched in early 2009, the identities of the people drafting the “college- and career-readiness standards” were unknown to the public. CCSSI eventually (in July) revealed the names of the 24 members of the “Standards Development
Work Group” (designated as developing these standards) in response to complaints from parent groups and others about the lack of transparency.

What did this Work Group look like? Focusing only on ELA, the make-up of the Work Group was quite astonishing: It included no English professors or high-school English teachers. How could legitimate ELA standards be created without the very two groups of educators who know the most about what students should and could be learning in secondary English classes? CCSSI also released the names of individuals in a larger “Feedback Group.” This group included one English professor and one high-school English teacher. But it was made clear that these people would have only an advisory role – final decisions would be made by the English-teacher-bereft Work Group.

Indeed, Feedback Group members’ suggestions were frequently ignored, according to the one English professor on this group, without explanation. Because the Work Group labored in secret, without open meetings, sunshine-law minutes of meetings, or accessible public comment, its reasons for making the decisions it did are lost to history.

The lead ELA writers were David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, neither of whom had experience teaching English either in K-12 or at the college level. Nor had either of them ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither had a reputation for scholarship or research; they were virtually unknown to the field of English language arts. But they had been chosen to transform ELA education in the US. Who recommended them and why, we still do not know.

In theory, the Validation Committee (VC) should have been the fail-safe mechanism for the standards. The VC consisted of about 29 members during 2009-2010. Some were ex officio, others were recommended by the governor or commissioner of education of an individual state. No more is known officially about the rationale for the individuals chosen for the VC. Tellingly, the VC contained almost no experts on ELA standards; most were education professors and representatives of testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram (there were several mathematics educators—people with doctorates in mathematics education and, in most cases, appointments in an education school). I was the only nationally acknowledged expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project high school exit standards for ELA and subsequent backmapped standards for earlier grade levels.

As a condition of membership, all VC members had to agree to 10 conditions, among which were the following:

Ownership of the Common Core State Standards, including all drafts, copies, reviews, comments, and nonfinal versions (collectively, Common Core State Standards), shall reside solely and exclusively with the Council of Chief State School Officers (“CCSSO”) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (“NGA Center”).

I agree to maintain the deliberations, discussions, and work of the Validation Committee, including the content of any draft or final documents, on a strictly confidential basis and shall not disclose or communicate any information related to the same, including in summary form, except within the membership of the Validation Committee and to CCSSO and the NGA Center.

As can be seen in the second condition listed above, members of the VC could never, then or in the future, discuss whether or not the VC discussed the meaning of college readiness or had any recommendations to offer on the matter. The charge to the VC spelled out in the summer of 2009, before the grade-level mathematics standards were developed, was as follows:

1. Review the process used to develop the college- and career-readiness standards and recommend improvements in that process. These recommendations will be used to inform the K-12 development process.

2. Validate the sufficiency of the evidence supporting each college- and career-readiness standard. Each member is asked to determine whether each standard has sufficient evidence to warrant its inclusion.

3. Add any standard that is not now included in the common core state standards that they feel should be included and provide the following evidence to support its inclusion: 1) evidence that the standard is essential to college and career success; and 2) evidence that the standard is internationally comparable.”

It quickly became clear that the VC existed as window-dressing; it was there to rubber-stamp, not improve, the standards. As all members of the VC were requested to do, I wrote up a detailed critique of the College and Career Readiness Standards in English language arts in the September 2009 draft and
critiques of drafts of the grade-level standards as they were made available in subsequent months. I sent my comments to the three lead standards writers as well as to Common Core’s staff, to other members of the VC (until the VC was directed by the staff to send comments only to them for distribution), and to Commissioner Chester and the members of the Massachusetts Board of Education (as a fellow member).

At no time did I receive replies to my comments or even queries from the CCSSI staff, the standards writers, or Commissioner Chester and fellow board members. In a private conversation at the end of November, 2009, I was asked by Chris Minnich, a CCSSI staff member, if I would be willing to work on the standards during December with Susan Pimentel, described to me as the lead ELA standards writer. I had worked with her (working for StandardsWork) on the 2008 Texas English language arts standards and, earlier, on other standards projects. I was told that Pimentel made the final decisions on the ELA standards. I agreed to spend about two weeks in Washington, DC working on the ELA standards pro bono with Pimentel if it was made clear that agreed-upon revisions would not be changed by unknown others before going out for comment to other members of the VC and, eventually, the public.

A week after sending to Minnich and Pimentel a list of the kind of changes I thought needed to be made to the November 2009 draft before we began to work together, I received a “Dear John” letter from Chris Minnich. He thanked me for my comments and indicated that my suggestions would be considered along with those from 50 states and that I would hear from the staff sometime in January.

In the second week of January 2010, a “confidential draft” was sent out to state departments of education in advance of their submitting an application on January 19 for Race to the Top (RttT) funds. (About 18 state applications, including the Bay State’s, were prepared by professional grant writers chosen and paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—at roughly $250,000 each.) A few states included the watermarked confidential draft in their application material and posted the whole application on their department of education’s website (in some cases required by law), so it was no longer confidential. This draft contained none of the kinds of revisions I had suggested in my December e-mail to Minnich and Pimentel. Over the next six months, the Pioneer Institute published my analyses of that January draft and succeeding drafts, including the final June 2 version. I repeatedly pointed out serious flaws in the document, but at no time did the lead ELA standards writers communicate with me (despite requests for a private discussion) or provide an explanation of the organizing categories for the standards and the focus on skills, not literary/historical content.

One aspect of the ELA standards that remained untouchable despite the consistent criticisms I sent to the standards writers, to those in charge of the VC, to the Massachusetts board of education, to the Massachusetts commissioner of education, to the media, and to the public at large was David Coleman’s
idea that nonfiction or informational texts should occupy at least half of the readings in every English class, to the detriment of classic literature and of literary study more broadly speaking. Even though all the historical and empirical evidence weighed against this concept, his idea was apparently set in stone.

The deadline for producing a good draft of the college-readiness and grade-level ELA (and mathematics) standards was before January 19, 2010, the date the U.S. Department of Education had set for state applications to indicate a commitment to adopting the standards to qualify for Race to the Top grants.

But the draft sent to state departments of education in early January was so poorly written and contentdeficient that CCSSI had to delay releasing a public comment draft until March. The language in the March version had been cleaned up somewhat, but the draft was not much better in organization or substance – the result of unqualified drafters working with undue haste and untouchable premises.

None of the public feedback to the March draft has ever been made available. The final version released in June 2010 contained most of the problems apparent in the first draft: lack of rigor (especially in the secondary standards), minimal content, lack of international benchmarking, lack of research support.

In February 2010, I and presumably all other members of the VC received a “letter of certification” from the CCSSI staff for signing off on Common Core’s standards (even though the public comment draft wasn’t released until March 2010 and the final version wasn’t released until June). The original charge
to the VC had been reduced in an unclear manner by unidentified individuals to just the first two and least important of the three bullets mentioned above. Culmination of participation on the committee was reduced to signing or not signing a letter by the end of May 2010 asserting that the standards were:

1 Reflective of the core knowledge and skills in ELA and mathematics that students need to be college- and career ready.

2. Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity.

3. Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations.

4. Informed by available research or evidence.

5. The result of processes that reflect best practices for standards development.

6. A solid starting point for adoption of cross-state common core standards.

7. A sound basis for eventual development of standards-based assessments.

The VC members who signed the letter were listed in the brief official report on the VC (since committee work was confidential, there was little the rapporteur could report), while the five members who did not sign off were not listed as such, nor their reasons mentioned. Stotsky’s letter explaining why she could not sign off can be viewed here, and Milgram’s letter can be viewed here.

This was the “transparent, state-led” process that resulted in the Common Core standards. The standards were created by people who wanted a “Validation Committee” in name only. An invalid process, endorsed by an invalid Validation Committee, resulted not surprisingly in invalid standards.

States need to reconsider their hasty decisions to adopt this pig in an academic poke for more than substantive reasons. There has been no validation of Common Core’s standards by a public process, nor any validation of its college-readiness level in either mathematics or English language arts by the relevant higher education faculty in this country. And there is nothing in the history and membership of the VC to suggest that the public should place confidence in the CCSSI or the U.S. Department of Education to convene committees of experts from the relevant disciplines in higher education in this country and elsewhere to validate Common Core’s college-readiness level. It is possible to consider the original vote by state boards of education to adopt Common Core’s standards null and void, regardless of whether a state board of education now chooses to recall its earlier vote. Any tests based on these invalid standards are also invalid, by definition.

Video: New Hampshire State Rep Interrogates NH State School Board with These Questions   4 comments

This video shows New Hampshire State Rep Emily Sandblade peppering the New Hampshire State School Board with questions about Common Core’s legitimacy.

The list of questions below is from at a parent-run site called “Math Wizards: Dedicated to Preserving and Promoting Mathematics in Education in New Hampshire.”

“List of Questions:

1) Are there plans on adding/changing the Common Core Standards in an effort to improve them? IF so, will the administration offer a detailed document so the public can see this? If not, why not?

2) What were the specific problems with the old NH standards (GLE’s)?

3) Are there other standards that are superior to Common Core and if so, why not focus on aligning w/those Standards?
If not, why not?

4) Are these standards internationally benchmarked? If so, which countries would you point to for a comparison?

5) Does the Administration believe the academic standards used in the district should be the best?

6) Will the teacher’s evaluation be tied to the standardized assessment? IF so by what percentage?

7) What evidence exists that Common Core will lead to better results?

8) Has anyone looked at or evaluated the new Smarter Balanced Assessment sample questions? If so, do they believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a good measurement tool for student proficiency in English and Mathematics?

9) What is the total estimated cost to the School District to implement Common Core?

10) Have they done any kind of cost/benefit analysis?

11) Are there any identified flaws with the English/Math Common Core Standards? If so, what is being done to correct those flaws? If not, has anyone in the district reached out to the two content experts on the Validation Committee to listen to their expert analysis and why they refused to sign off on the Math and English Standards?

12) Will the Administration commit to releasing the assessment questions to the public after students complete the testing?

13) What non-academic questions will be asked of the students on the new assessment?

14) Will parents be able to opt their children out of the new assessment?

15) Will parents be able to see the non-academic questions prior to their children taking the assessment?

16) Will Administrators support a policy that protects the privacy of the student and suggest a new policy to the Board?

17) How does the Administration plan on involving parents in the selection of textbooks/materials, etc?

18) Is the School District “technology” ready to implement CCSS and the new assessments? IF not, how long will that take and how much money will that cost local taxpayers?

19) What is the bandwidth capability of each school and have they run any tests to check the capacity?

20) If the bandwidth has not been tested, why not?

21) What specific actions has been taken to protect the teachers and set them up for success?

22) Does the school district have the IT staff to handle technological demands?

23) What specific adaptations and accommodations are being made for the special needs students?

24) How are the teachers aligning their curriculum to CCSS?

25) Are there additional costs to adding the Broadband for the district? IF so, what is the cost?

26) What is the timeframe for adding Broadband across all of the schools?

27) Schools began implementing CCSS 2012-2013, are there any findings that can be shared?
28) Are the CCSS definition of “college readiness” consistent with the requirements needed to enter a four-year university in the University of New Hampshire system? If not, what will the district do to alleviate that problem?

29) Do you agree that if a student graduates from a school that follows the “College and Career” readiness standards, that student will not be in need of remedial classes upon entering college?

30) Will the district evaluate graduates to see if they were in need of remedial classes? If so, will that information be made available to parents?

31) If students are graduating in need of remedial classes, what then is the course of action? Will district then need to fund new textbooks/curriculum, etc. to alleviate this problem?

32) Will Administrators commit to holding a public hearing on how Common Core will be implemented in the district? If so, will they commit to presenting all information, including info that is critical of Common Core so information is transparent to parents and residents?

Common Core is sold as a way to get your children to “think critically”. (Although the Common Core validation experts would argue that will not happen under Common Core Standards) If they really want to teach kids to “think critically,” why not present all of the critical information on Common Core to the parents too?

Why is the New Hampshire DOE running around town “selling” Common Core but refusing to offer ANY critical information or analysis on Common Core?”

Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina Have Local Control –but Utah Does Not?   Leave a comment

According to an article at EagNews.org, some states have true local control and some do not. Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina have local control; Utah does not.

The article explains:

MADISON, Wis. – If you live in a “local control” state in terms of public education – and chances are you do – here is some enlightening news.

Your local school board probably has the legal right to remove your school district from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts around the nation by state education officials.

It’s true in my home state of Wisconsin, and it’s been confirmed by state education officials in Ohio and North Carolina.

Legislators and (state education departments) have, in my opinion, kept this information very close to the vest. That is deceit of the ugliest kind.

I contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and asked the following question: If a school district decides to reject Common Core standards and replace them with a superior set of standards, will that school district still receive state and/or federal funds?

I received the following response from Emilie Amundsen, director of the Common Core State Standards Team at DPI:

Yes. In Wisconsin, each school board has the statutory authority to adopt the state standards or any other set of standards, inferior or superior. This is called local control. When applied to schools, local control means that decisions about standards, curriculum and instruction are made at the local level. School districts must have standards. The type, quality and scope of those standards are left to local school boards to decide. This has always been the case in Wisconsin, and this has not changed as a result of Wisconsin adopting Common Core state standards.”

The staff at EAGnews is trying to contact education officials in numerous states, to determine if their districts also have the right to opt out of Common Core.

So far only three states have responded. Officials in North Carolina and Ohio have acknowledged that districts are free to dump Common Core, but caution that students in those districts may struggle with mandatory state tests, which will be aligned with Common Core.

Officials in Utah say local districts do not have the power to drop out of Common Core…

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(I always thought Utah was the land of the free.)

Read the rest of the article here: http://eagnews.org/school-districts-in-local-control-states-like-wisconsin-can-dump-common-core-standards-without-financial-penalties/

Yes, You Can Opt Out of Common Core Tests   29 comments

Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.

Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!

I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.

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Dear Principal and Teachers,

Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.

I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.

I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.

I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.

Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.

(–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)

Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.

164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.

A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.

A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.

There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.

Signed…

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WHY DO PARENTS WANT TO OPT OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING?

1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive.

2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control.

3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5.

4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason.

5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time.

6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.

Video: Dr. Terrence Moore Testifies Against Common Core Readings and the Lack of Local Control   5 comments

Dr. Terrence Moore, professor of history at Hillsdale College, testified last month to the Indiana legislature. This is the video of his short, (ten minute) excellent testimony.

He describes in detail what Common Core robs from students, as it cuts classic literature and dramatically cuts the heart away from readings including the U.S. Constitution and Tom Sawyer. He describes the truncation that will happen to classic works of literature in favor of informational texts in new Common Core aligned ELA anthologies. He describes how Common Core robs charter schools of parental control with the piercing question, “Are you Common Core compliant?” He also describes how Common Core testing makes teachers and charters servile to the Common Core.

He also says:

The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”

That’s the real issue. Whether politicians, teachers or school board members like it today is actually, totally irrelevant. Don’t ask them if they like Common Core; ask them if they know that it can change at any time, but they don’t get a vote or a voice in what happens to it. Ever.

Thank you, Dr. Moore.

ABC Channel 4 and Deseret News: On Praying for Freedom from Common Core   4 comments

praying family

Reporters from both the Deseret News and ABC Channel 4 t.v. surprised me last week by asking for interviews –on the subject of prayer, which I’d written about a few days earlier. I was really, really surprised to learn that praying is perceived as news. Or, at least, asking people to pray is perceived as news.

There is so much that is extremely damaging, and therefore extremely newsworthy about the Common Core Initiative– so much that is anti-intellectual, anti-parent, anti-teacher, anti-local-control. The reporters didn’t ask about any of that. They wanted to talk about the prayers my friends and blogpost-readers are praying to escape the Common Core by a miracle. That praying was their news. All I can say is that many of us are grateful to Ben Woods and Brian Carlson, the reporters, for shedding light on the subject, and I do consider the fact that they reported on this, part of the answer to many fervent prayers.

Because many people do care and do pray, others are becoming more aware every day that Common Core hurts: it hurts academics, hurts students and teachers, hurts privacy rights, hurts parental rights, hurts local control, hurts state sovereignty, hurts freedom. Even Fox news is helping; big surprise! I saw a poll today on Fox, asking millions of readers whether they are for or against Common Core. At the time that I voted in the poll, 57% said they were against Common Core. I hope you take that poll. It’s another blessing, right there.

So, here are the links to what the Deseret News and ABC 4 had to say about the fact that we are praying.

Links:

The Deseret News article is here.

The ABC Channel 4 news report (text version) is here.

The ABC Channel 4 (t.v. version) of that same report is here, but you have to first watch the video of the school grading report (which is very important also) and then after that report and an ad, then comes the report on the request for prayers.

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… I just can’t help but wonder when the media will report about the enormously newsworthy things –terrible things that folks don’t know, but should know.

I hope to see many news reports about:

SLDS — The fact that parents have no rights over, and no ability to opt their children out of, the current school-originated, federally paid for, federally interoperable, citizen surveillance program known as States’ Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that follows people from the time they’re tiny children until at least adulthood without their consent –or even their knowledge. That’s huge, considering all the scandals on the federal stage right now: (Ed Snowden exposing the unconstitutional activities of the federal government spying on the innocent; the IRS using data to favor and disfavor certain people and organizations without the right to do so; the FBI being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); the Department of Education also being sued by EPIC for similar violations to human privacy; etc. etc.) But people don’t know it’s real. And they can’t protect their kids if they don’t know what’s going on.

EXPERIMENT ON KIDS — The fact that Common Core standards are an experiment on our children. They lack any empirical studies or proof that they can do anything they claim/hope to do. They have been condemned by the main English Language Arts validation member, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and have been condemned by the main mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram. They are an academic step down for many states.

EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION — The fact that Common Core ends local control. The standards are under private copyright by two unaccountable, unelected private groups that are a national superintendents’ club (CCSSO) and a national governors’ club (NGA). Not all superintendents or governors belong. No voter can affect what they do. The federal government put a shackle over that copyright when it mandated that no state may add more than 15% to the common standards.

CORPORATE MONOPOLY ON THOUGHT — The fact that Bill Gates, Pearson and other corporate interests are circumventing the American voter in educational decision making and privacy controls, decisions that negatively affect children. The fact that corporate “alignment” of new technologies, curricula, books and educational products to the very same standards that Gates bankrolled, is conflict of interest and creates a monopoly on anything having to do with education, and limits innovative thought nationwide.

PARENTS HAVE NO VOICE — Example: Common Core recommends that its students read literature of pedophilia (The Bluest Eye) it will be on high school reading lists (Lehi High School) and will be read by Utah students, even if the state school board has not technically recommended it. Why? Because the board adopted Common Core. And teachers are under pressure to have their students perform well on high stakes tests that are aligned to Common Core. Governance is confused; D.C. groups end up calling the shots for Utah students, under Common Core. Parents are totally left out of the discussion of what children should read.

CONSTITUTIONALITY — The fact that G.E.P.A. law and the U.S. Constitution have been broken by the Department of Education’s foray into state educational business. Also, federal privacy law (FERPA) has been shredded by the Department of Education. Although the Department of Education has rightly been sued, they’ll most likely get away with it because WHO IS CHECKING UP ON THEM? Not congress. Not state departments of education. Not the media. Just parents like you and me. We The People.

NO DISSENT ALLOWED — The Common Core tests can’t be seen by parents. Also, the Utah State School Board appointing/electing process includes taking a questionnaire that asks (First question) Do you support the Utah Core? (Remember, Utah Core = Common Core for all English and Math classes, K-12) So nobody who dissents can run for the incredibly powerful and important office of state school board member.

I hope many of you will write letters to the editor, opinion editorials, or email your legislators and school board representatives to make your voices heard. This is still America. And we are the people. We, the voters and taxpayers –and yes, the pray-ers– are the real bosses of this great country. Make your voice count.

The Federal Fist: No Formula Funding if States Reject Common Core   5 comments

First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.

So far, so bad.

Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.

Do the fact check.

The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)

And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”

See their official definition:

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.

(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)

So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?

Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?

What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)

What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?

Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.

Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:

“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.

Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.

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Other Thoughts On Funding Schools

– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.

Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.

Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?

When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?

How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)

Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.

And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.

Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.

Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.

Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.

Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?

Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.

And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.

Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.

Rally Tomorrow: School Grading Bill is Interconnected with Common Core Tests   1 comment

Tomorrow, Sept. 3rd, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a rally. It’s not directly about Common Core. But it’s about an issue very, very closely related: school grading. And what makes this one interesting is that it’s not parents, but the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) that’s heading the rally. The USBA may even be surprised to see that many Utahns Against Common Core members will be there to support their rally. (I can’t go; I will be teaching at that time, but I’m there in spirit.)

Wendy Hart, a school board member in Alpine school district, has written an article that explains how school grading and common core are intertwined and must be opposed. I highly recommend it. She says, “School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?” (Read the rest.)

I think people get stuck on the misused word “accountability” which is often used as if it is always a good thing. But accountability’s obviously dependent on who is accountable to whom. People who don’t have authority to ask for an accounting, shouldn’t be given any accounting. It’s wrong. And it leads to abuse of power.

Should teachers and principals be accountable to the parents of the children they serve? Yes.

But should they be accountable to the long list of so-called “stakeholders” who have no authority over them under the Constitution, GEPA law, or common sense? No.

Should they be accountable to Common Core’s creators or testing agents, including the nonelected clubs of superintendents (CCSSO) and governors (NGA) and the AIR testing group, groups which now hold power over what will be on Utah’s standardized, nationally common test, to be nationally used as an accountability measuring stick? No!

And that’s why I oppose these Utah bills touting school grading. It’s accountability to the wrong groups, groups who are far removed from those who actually care.

Details of this Stop School Grading rally: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings).

Parents and others from Utahns Against Common Core have been encouraged to bring signs saying “No School Grading tied to Common Core Tests.”

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Wendy Hart has given her permission to repost her entire article here. Thanks, Wendy.

Friday, August 30, 2013

No Man Can Serve Two Masters: School Grading/Accountability

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24)

School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?

A prime case in point is the presentation we received as a Board on Aug. 13 about the new school grading and teacher evaluation programs. (A great overview can by found online, courtesy of the Alpine Parent Society.) These programs have been put into law by the legislature, but are also requirements of the Federal Waiver from No Child Left Behind. I could go into the mathematical flaws in the system, the necessary faith in the test creators, and the fact that testing drives what is taught in the classroom. However, the biggest issue I have is who will truly have the power to determine what our children learn. If you realize teacher evaluations, school grades and student grades are all tied to the Common Core tests, you realize whoever writes and grades those tests affects every aspect of education in this state. Say what you will about standards, the practical application of it will be in the tests.

Here’s an example. Some people have heard recently of the Toni Morrison book, The Bluest Eye. I have never read it, but the excerpts I’ve read put it, in my opinion, in the category of pornography. (You may disagree, but bear with me for the sake of the argument.) I have an acquaintance back East whose children have read this repeatedly in her private, Catholic school, not because the teachers and administrators agree with the book, but because selections from the book appear on the AP English test. In this case, the AP test determines what is taught in the classroom, even if it is completely contrary to the values and mission of a particular school.

Additionally, the federally-funded Common Core tests (SBAC and PARCC) are testing “process and communication skills over content knowledge”, according to one reviewer. Since our test-developer (AIR) is also developing the SBAC test, one wonders if our state tests will follow suit. If so, anyone who fails to teach the proper methodology, not just the facts, puts their students, their career, and their school in jeopardy. (An example of this from another state can be found here.) Testing is the way standards, curricula and teaching methods are enforced.

Joseph Stalin is supposed to have said, “It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.” Similarly, “He who makes the tests, controls the education.”

Parents can want certain things taught. Our laws and constitution can say how parents are primarily involved in their child’s education. We can speak till we’re blue in the face about how parents and local control of education is so important. But as soon as we tie everything to the grade on a test–a test parents have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over–we realize we have a different master. Instead, we must have complete faith in the test developers. Have they created a fair, accurate system of measuring what we, as parents, want? And if they do not, there is nothing we can do at a local level to change it.

We think an end-of-year test will be testing fact, knowledge, and information. However, the emphasis of Common Core and its testing is to test “higher-order thinking” over fact. Most parents want their kids to learn higher-order thinking. But what does higher-order thinking mean to the test developer? Benjamin Bloom, author of the well-respected Bloom’s Taxonomy (used extensively in education) defines it this way,”…a student attains ‘higher-order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong.” (Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, p. 185) This is completely inconsistent with my motto on education: Truth vanquishes darkness. You cannot serve two masters. Education cannot serve the parents if they don’t control the test. Higher-order thinking cannot lead to the discovery of truth if it also means no right or wrong. In the end, who is the master of education in Utah? The state tests, brought to you by American Institutes for Research. It’s not you, and it’s not me.

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About 50% of the time, I agree with the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) on legislation. This is one of those times. We may not agree for all the same reasons, but we agree on the end result. Last session, the legislature passed SB271 on school grading. This is an update of a school grading bill from 2011. In response to the 2011 law, the State Office of Ed developed a process for grading schools, called UCAS. UCAS is mathematically flawed and, like every accountability measure emanating from the state, will take local control away. SB271 is opposed by the USBA because, while they must have some sort of school grading to get the No Child Left Behind waiver, they prefer the UCAS grading system. I think we need to get rid of it all. However, I will be at the press conference/rally the USBA is holding in opposition to the current version of school grading, SB271, on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings). I’d invite everyone who is opposed to the enforcement Common Core via testing, or to centralized control over education to attend.

Just remember, we can’t serve two masters. Until we reassert our rightful position, as masters of our children’s education, education in Utah will continue to be subject to a master set up by those who are willing to fill the void we have left.

–Wendy Hart, member, Alpine School Board

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OTHER STOP COMMON CORE EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Layton, Utah
Wednesday night, September 4th 7:00 pm
Common Core Informational Meeting
Speakers – Peter Cannon (Davis School District Board Member) and Pamela Smith (Eagle Forum)
Layton City Library – September 4, 2013
155 Wasatch Dr.

Cedar City, Utah
Saturday, September 7th, 7 pm
Speaker – Alisa Ellis – of Utahns Against Common Core
Crystal Inn (1575 W. 200 N. Cedar City, Utah)

Roy, Utah
Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 7:00 pm
Roy Library, Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core

Ogden, Utah
Tuesday September 24, 2013 @ 6:30pm
North Ogden Library
(475 E. 2600 N. North Ogden, Utah 84414)
Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core

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