Fighting With the Utah State Office of Education   4 comments

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/common-core-movie-building-the-machine-trailer/

I am impressed by the new Common Core movie trailer (that I shared yesterday) and I do hope it gets a million views.

So, today I sent out an email link to the new Common Core documentary movie to many people I thought would be interested in it, both friends and foes: The state and local school boards, the Governor’s office, my representatives, newspapers, friends, relatives, etc.

One of these email link recipients was Sydnee Dickson, a Utah State Office of Education curriculum bureaucrat. (To see more about her, click on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1VnpQuJQsY or see this older post or read this to see her earlier attacks on me.)

syd

I think you might find Sydnee Dickson’s response to the trailer today, revealing:

SYDNEE DICKSON: I watched the trailer and noted at the end that it is directed and funded by Michael J. Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Michael P. Farris, attorney at parentalrights.org. The message in the trailer focuses on the false assumptions of federal takeover, dumbing down of education, lack of parental control, etc.

ME: False assumptions? I’d like to see evidence that they are false. I think they are true.

SYDNEE DICKSON: I am sure that you do and I respect your perspective… I just don’t share it. I appreciate you keeping us in the loop, however, as things are produced supporting your claims. It helps us know what people are concerned about.
Syd

ME: I would like to know what evidence you are basing your perspective upon. Since you used the term “false assumptions” I want to know how you arrive at that term and perspective. This is, after all, an intellectual, academic debate and evidence is important in order to establish truth. If you are willing, I and many others would be very happy to see it. Thank you.

SYDNEE DICKSON: We have provided plenty of evidence and have exhausted this debate with you. I am not interested in trying to change your mind; but am most interested in supporting students, teachers, and parents in ensuring their students are ready for their future. I know you believe this is important as well. I am happy to talk about how the Utah Core Standards play a part in this.
Syd

ME: Syd, your office has never provided evidence (beyond repeating opinions from Gates-funded organizations) that Common Core can ever help Utah children to succeed –because such evidence does not exist.

Common Core is an experimental, unpiloted program pushed for financial gain alone, at the expense of true college readiness, and you and I both know it.

The way to support students, teachers and parents would have been to build Utah’s future on time-tested standards, not Common Core. The way to support them would be to defend their (our) rights to locally controlled education, curriculum and testing, which the Common Core system is not. You know this as well as I do.

Even the term “Utah Core Standards” is deceptive; you know as well as I do that English and math standards in Utah ARE Common Core standards. I resent the deception.

You say that you simply “disagree” as if there were two equally viable and equally valid sides to the argument. The fact is, either you or I are alarmingly, frighteningly wrong.

We both cannot be correct. I say Common Core will do horrible, uncalculable damage to our future as Utahns; you say it’s nothing but a blessing. We cannot both be right! Is there no truth?

Proponents of Common Core should at least try to prove their system is academically legitimate and in harmony with the Constitution of the United States (separation of powers, decentralization, checks and balances). If not, why be a proponent? For money only?

If you are not even willing to discuss it, dismissing me as simply someone who “sees things differently” than you do, then you imply that the long-term effects do not matter, either.

I would venture to guess that I care a lot more about this than you do. I don’t get paid as you do, to fight about Common Core. The least you can do is stand up for your side of the argument if it is to be believed or discussed honorably.

(Waiting to hear back from her. I have a feeling I will never get any real answer.)

———————

Update: Two more exchanges:

———————

On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Dickson, Sydnee wrote:

Christel,

Our evidence has included letters and public testimonies from those who directed the writing of the standards and actually wrote the standards. You have called my statements from face to face meetings with the architects “not credible” on websites and you have indicated in the past that their testimony isn’t credible because they were funded in part, by the Gates Foundation. We have sent you and posted various documents which you and your peers reject as evidence. I spend most of my time working with teachers, principals, and district leaders on issues of high quality instruction and educator evaluation. I serve on panels, present at meetings, etc. on behalf of people interested in the CORE and am happy to continue to do so. It isn’t worth my time to continue to restate what we have already addressed. I merely included you on the email to the Board as you are the one who initiated the film trailer.

I would like to reiterate a point regarding the naming of the Utah Core. Utah has had CORE standards since 1984. I was a teacher at the time, using the standards. Our standards are continually reviewed and revised. We have never tried to hide the fact that we adopted the Common Core ELA and mathematics standards. We have been very up front about that. However, when they were adopted, they replaced our ELA and mathematics standards and are now Board adopted Utah Core Standards. You will find across the country that states have named them various things, based on the process of review in their particular state. They might be called ___________(state) College and Career Ready Standards, __________(state) Common Core Standards, or ___________(state) Core Standards. It varies. I am linking you to a aggregated website that shows all of the state websites addressing the CCSS https://sites.google.com/site/commoncoreinthecloud/the-other-49. This was developed by a state office employee in North Dakota.

I have never stated that the CCSS is “nothing but a blessing”. I do believe they are a key piece of reform that will help our students be better prepared to meet the demands of today’s economy. The irony is that for the first time in history, states have done exactly what the federal government thinks we can’t do. We’ve come together to create a set of standards to enable us to share resources, help military families be mobile without penalty to their children in schools, create a common set of standards that are more comparable on NAEP and other national reports, and allows for higher levels of collaboration among educators as we speak the same language. We are already getting great data out of a couple of our early adopting districts and exciting things are happening in classrooms all across Utah. We definitely still have work to do but, the potential for our children to achieve higher standards is exciting. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, Christel, and hope that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Syd

Sydnee,

Letters and opinions supporting Common Core are only as credible as the scientific data behind them. The architects of Common Core were businessmen, not content experts, and they had zero data driving their decision-making. This is common knowledge. They never even meant for Common Core to prepare kids for legitimate university (4 year) study nor for STEM careers. If you click on that link you will see the Common Core creator state that the standards were “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

They just want everything standardized.

Their being funded by Gates does create a conflict of interest, absolutely. But even without the monetary motivation, these testimonies are not credible because they are not based on empirical evidence. Empirical evidence means testing the theories upon which Common Core rests: like, actually testing (for many years, on many many students) the theory that diminishing narrative writing and reading in favor of increasing technical writing and informational reading is legitimately better in the long run. (The same goes for the theories of Common Core’s weak math theories.) These dramatic transformations ARE UNTESTED.

It doesn’t matter who thinks they’re a good idea or who doesn’t– you cannot testify with validity to what has never been tried, any more than you can come back from a location to which you have never been.

This is why people who are actually experts in curricular content such as Dr. Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. James Milgram, should be heeded. Dr. Tienken calls this Common Core “educational malpractice” because it’s based on nothing but marketing. Nothing. Else.

But even if the standards were academically legitimate, time-tested, proven, and in actual fact, better than what we had, I would still be opposed to them on Constitutional grounds. Liberty matters to me!

It is not an accurate statement to say that “states have come together to create a set of standards.” There was nobody from Utah who was sent to serve on that Common Core creation board. Brenda Hales who works with you said this in a Heber meeting. Nobody from Utah helped because the creators “didn’t want it to become a Constitutional convention.” And indeed it was not.

The states did not create these standards and that will always be a lie no matter how many times proponents repeat it.

The standards were funded by Gates, and were created by two unelected clubs, CCSSO and NGA, who have no voter accountability whatsoever. CCSSO and NGA are totally un-transparent, private D.C. clubs. Clubs! NGA and CCSSO are not Constitutionally recognized entities that are valid spearheads to speak for and decide for the actual people of Utah, any more than Miss Teen Utah is a politically valid representative for the citizens of our state.

These two clubs have copyrighted OUR standards. Where is the representation for you and me? Where is our voice? Where is Utah’s identity in all of this? Beyond being permitted, like house pets, to add 15% to the D.C.-created standards, there is no voice for Utah anymore.

The state school board gave away our authority– their authority! They had no right to do this. The board did, under the Utah Constitution, have the right to set Utah’s education standards, but they had no right to hand their assigned role over to the clubs of D.C. as they have done, or to delegate that authority out.

We didn’t need Common Core to “enable us to share resources.” We didn’t need Common Core to “help mobile families.” Less than 1% of American students move from state to state. Empirical fact. We didn’t need Common Core to create a one-language standardized system in order to collaborate. America is too diverse to be shacked to one language or one system. And those who control this new “language” do not have our local best interests at heart. The goals of those D.C. clubs and their funders will always be served before the goals of Heber City under the Common Core.

I have no personal reason to fight with you. The reason I fight is that these principles MATTER to me. Freedom and local control matter to me more than any of these talking points of the proponents of the core matter to me. I see them as the foundation for all that is good and right.

I do not agree with the president of the NCEE, Mark Tucker, who in promoting Common Core says that the “United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Maybe you agree with him.

I do appreciate your well wishing and your good holiday cheer and wish you the same happy season as well. If I lived on your street, I’d be baking you cookies and my kids would come caroling to your door. But I predict that your office and the USSB office will receive a lot more grief before this is over, as more and more people wake up to what has happened.

Thanks for the discussion.

Christel

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4 responses to “Fighting With the Utah State Office of Education

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  1. Great job! You nailed it! I am so excited you at least have someone who ‘pretends” to dialogue. I wish I had the same for Arizona.

  2. Great job!
    Glad we’re on the same side! ;)

  3. Great response with accurate information. Keep up the great work. And a Merry Christmas to all. Oh, and feel free to send those cookies my way.

  4. I am sick of the argument about families who move around and this idea that those children need their education aligned everywhere they go. We are one of those families and I can honestly say that I appreciate how their education has been UNIQUE because, after all, each of my children are unique. I think this idea of every child having to learn the exact same thing at the exact same time is narrow-minded and ridiculous. I for one actually want my children to learn how to “think outside the box” and go out in the world and be anything they want to be and make a contribution to society in their own unique way.

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