Archive for the ‘Common Core Gold Rush’ Category

Leaked Letter: Panicked Common Core Creators Want Documentary Discredited –or Not Seen   9 comments

building the machine

A  revealing CCSSO letter, leaked to the public, reveals Common Core investors’ collective panic about Ian Reid’s new film, Building the Machine.

Missouri Education Watchdog and Breitbart News  reported that CCSSO deputy executive director Carissa Miller’s letter shows top Common Core moneymaking / grant-receiving businesses are combining to discredit the Common Core documentary.  Many businesses need Common Core’s claims to be believed, or they lose this gold rush.  So they’re trying to stop it, understandably.

And if the documentary is seen despite their efforts to discredit it, the groups have laid a plan to smother the truth with smooth “positive” talking points and with a soon-to-be-released documentary of their own.

If you watch the film, you’ll know why they’re panicking.   Truth is truth.

The documentary solidly wipes out the “higher standards” claims of Common Core’s creators, using filmed speeches by Common Core’s creators and funders, and using interviews with top Stanford professors, Common Core validation committee members and respected members of think tanks, both for and against Common Core.  Importantly, it shows that the real issue of education reform is not even about academics, ultimately;  it’s about power.

The CCSSO doesn’t want people to know this power struggle exists.  But it does exist.  In fact, who ends up holding decision-making power is the main conflict inside ed reform, despite all the pleasant words about education standards.

As the backers of the new documentary succinctly put it:

“…This issue is  far more than what standards public schools should use. It is about who will decide how and what our children are taught.” -William Estrada, in Breitbart interview.

You can read the leaked letter here.  You can watch the movie here.

I want to point out this part of the panic-letter:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fordham [Institute] have put together the attached two documents that can be used to clarify the vast amount of misinformation that will be circulated as a result of the movie. Please note – these are EMBARGOED until Monday, March 31st…. The U.S. Chamber is in the final stages of producing their own Common Core mini-documentary…  Below we’ve include some tips for messaging and responding to the critical questions this film may generate in your state. We will send out the Chamber video when it is released.

Regards,

Carissa

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Why do they just include “tips for messaging and responding” rather than including documentation, facts, links to contracts and legally valid, scientifically valid evidence?  Evidence is not wanted.  Only marketing, “messaging.”

carissa-moffat-miller

FYI:    Carissa is  Carissa Miller, CCSSO deputy executive director.

For newcomers:  The CCSSO is a nontransparent group that co-created the Common Core and then partnered with the federal Department of Education to collect data on a national level.  It’s the same group that openly admits it has a “commitment to disaggregation of student data.”

I call the CCSSO a “superintendents’ club”.  It does not include all state superintendents nor is it an elected body.  The CCSSO seems want the public to believe –as does its twin sister, the NGA– that it has voter-designated authority to boss states around.  It does not.  Neither has authority and neither represents voters like our Congress does.  Repeat:  CCSSO and NGA have no elected authority.  Do not be decieved by their pomp.  They are just private groups that combined to create and copyright Common Core, heavily influenced/ funded by philanthopist-turned-takeover-king Bill Gates.

If you care about the traditional American voice of the local voter setting policy, rather than having closed-door private cliques that partner with the feds setting local policy, please oppose  these  goals of the CCSSO.  Make your voice heard.  Let your State Superintendent know you want him/her to bow out of membership in this club to focus energy on local control of education.

–While you’re at it, send your superintendent a link to the movie. 

I hope every American watches it.

 

building the machine

 

 

Brilliant Teachers Expose Federal-Corporate Connivance   2 comments

school

First, here’s a list.

It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken.  Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core.  They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.

Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy HooleyPeter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul BogushLaurie Rogers,  Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson  Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White,  David Cox, Peg Luksik,  Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia HayesBarry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and  an unnamed California teacher/blogger.

Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the  political spectrum.   It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.

And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful:  the Left-Right Alliance,   132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core,  the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core,  Conservative Teachers of America,  and over 1,100   New York professors. 

These teachers have really, really done their homework.

I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote  about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.

Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:

“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line.  It’s to generate data.  Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”

Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection.  His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)

He wrote:

Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.

“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.

“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.

“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.

“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.

“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.

“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.

“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.

“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.

“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?

“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.

“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS…   Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”

Read more here.

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I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:

1-  First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined.  Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise,  here.

2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.

In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.

 

 

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake: By Peter Wood   2 comments

This article was originally posted at MindingTheCampus.Com.  It is reposted with permission.    The author is president of the National Association of Scholars.

 

peter wood

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake

Guest post by Peter Wood

 

The College Board is reformulating the SAT.  Again.

The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics. David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country.  Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission.  As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver. I’ll explain, but first let’s get the essentials of how the SAT is about to change.

Changes

The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon.  The College Board calls this “Relevant Words in Context.”  Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone.  Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions.

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections.  (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.

What They Mean

The College Board’s announcement of these changes came under the headline “Delivering Opportunity: Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step.”  The “delivering opportunity” theme is divided into three parts:

Ensure that students are propelled forward.

Provide free test preparation for the world.

Promote excellent classroom work and support students who are behind.

There is a thicket of explanation behind each of these headings, some of it beyond silly.  We learn, for example, that the College Board, “cannot stand by while students’ futures remain unclaimed.”  Unclaimed?  Like lottery prizes?  Like coats left in a checkroom?

If you work your way through this folderol, it appears that the College Board is launching a whole battery of new diversity programs.   “Access to Opportunity (“A2O”) pushes (“propels”) low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students to college.  The “All In Campaign” aims “to ensure to ensure that every African American, Latino, and Native American student who is ready for rigorous work takes an AP course or another advanced course.”  Another program offers college application fee waivers.

Those initiatives bear on the redesigned SAT mainly as evidence of the College Board’s preoccupation with its ideas about social justice.  The announcement of the changes in the SAT itself is succinct–and friendly, with helpful icons to get across ideas like “documents”–

The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work:

  • Relevant words in context
  • Command of evidence
  • Essay analyzing a source
  • Math focused on three key areas
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts
  • Analysis in science and social studies
  • Founding documents and great global conversation
  • No penalty for wrong answers

The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation–and maybe even the journalist who reads it–might miss the full weight of that key phrase “college and career readiness.”  That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core.  That phrase, “college and career readiness,” is the Common Core mantra.  The Common Core was vigorously promoted to the states and to the public as something that would “raise standards” in the schools by creating a nationwide framework that would lead students to “college readiness.”

But alas, as the Common Core Standards emerged, it became apparent that they set a ceiling on the academic preparation of most students.  Students who go through schools that follow the Common Core Standards will be ill-prepared for the rigors of college.  That is, unless something can be done on the other end to ensure that colleges lower their standards. Then everything will be well.

The Bind

None of this might matter if the Common Core were just a baseline and students and schools could easily move above it if they wished to.  The trouble is that the Common Core has been designed to be a sticky baseline. It is hard for schools to rise above it.  There are two reasons for that.

First, it uses up most of the time in a K-12 curriculum, leaving little room for anything else.

Second, the states that were leveraged into it via Obama’s “Race to the Top” agreed that students who graduate from high school with a Common Core education and are admitted to public colleges and universities will automatically be entered into “credit-bearing courses.”  This is tricky.  Essentially what it means is that public colleges will have to adjust their curricula down to the level of knowledge and skill that the Common Core mandates.  And that in turn means that most schools will have little reason to offer anything beyond the Common Core, even if they can.

In this way, the Common Core floor becomes very much a ceiling too.  The changes in the SAT are meant to expedite this transition.

The Common Core Connection

The life-preserver that the College Board is throwing to the Common Core is a redefinition of what it means to be “college ready.” The SAT after all is a test aimed at determining who is ready for college. An SAT refurbished to match what the Common Core actually teaches instead of what colleges expect freshmen to know will go far to quiet worries that the Common Core is selling students short.  If the SAT says a student is “college ready,” who is to say that he is not?

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

The subject can get complicated, so it is best to consider an example.

Pre-pre-calculus

Perhaps the most vivid example of how the Common Core lowers standards and creates a situation which invites mischief with the SATs is the decision of the Common Core architects to defer teaching algebra to 9thgrade.  That move, along with several other pieces of the Common Core’s Mathematics Standards, generally means that students in high school will not reach the level of “pre-calculus.”  And that in turn means that as college freshmen, they will be at least a year behind where college freshmen used to be.  Instead of starting in with a freshman calculus course, they will have to start with complex numbers, trigonometric functions, conic sections, parametric equations, and the like.

Of course, lots of students who go to college today never take a calculus course and are in no way hindered if their high school math preparation stopped with binomial equations.  The trouble comes with students who wish to pursue science, technology, or engineering–the “STEM” fields. College curricula generally assume that students who set out to study these fields have already reached the level of calculus.

One might think that students who have aptitudes and interests in these areas could simply leapfrog the Common Core by taking accelerated math courses in high school.  Some indeed will be able to do just that.  They will be students who attend prosperous schools that have the resources to work around the Common Core.  Or they will be students whose parents pay for tutors or courses outside school.

We can be confident that Americans will be ingenious in finding ways to circumnavigate this new roadblock. And we can count on the emergence of entrepreneurs who will serve the market for extra-curricular math instruction.  There is no reason to think that MIT and Caltech will go begging for suitably prepared students.

But there is reason to worry that a large percentage of bright and capable students in ordinary American schools are going to be shortchanged in math.

And while I have chosen math as the example, the Common Core is up to similar mischief in English, and the SAT is being similarly altered to match the diminished K-12 curriculum there too. Those who have followed the debate on the Common Core will have some idea of how this works out.  The Common Core prizes “informational texts” above literature, and it prizes teaching students how to treat documents as “evidence” above teaching students how to search out the deeper meaning in what they read.  The Common Core approaches reading and writing in a utilitarian spirit. Clearly this has some power. It fosters certain kinds of analytic skills–those that might be called forensic.  But it scants the cultivation of other aspects of reading and writing, especially those that depend on analogy, implication, and aesthetic sense.

That’s why the Common Core has such limited use for imaginative literature and why it so readily turns to out-of-context excerpts and uprooted fragments.  Information is information; it does not much depend on a sense of the whole; nor does it depend on gathering in the unsaid background.  The now infamous example of the Common Core’s deracinated approach to writing is a reading of the Gettysburg Address shorn of any explanation that it was a speech commemorating a battlefield, let alone the battlefield of the decisive battle in the Civil War.

Presumably the Common Core folks will repair this particular mistake, but it is telling that it happened in the first place.  And it is telling that the College Board has adopted all the same conceptual devices in the new SAT:  relevant words in context, command of evidence, analyzing sources, and using fragments and excerpts of historical documents.  None of these by itself should raise concern.  Each is a legitimate line for testing.  But note that they come unaccompanied by anything that would balance the focus on “evidence-based” inquiry with examination of other skills.

A Puzzle

Why should a grandly announced effort to raise school standards end up lowering them instead?  The answer lies in the convergence of several political forces.  Politicians see a can’t-lose proposition in the conceit that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.  School standards that really separated the wheat from the chaff would be unpopular.  Americans today like the pretense that the only thing that holds us back is external circumstance, not natural limitation.  And the academic “achievement gap” between Asians and whites on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other has made forthright discussion of standards extremely difficult.

For all these reasons, we Americans were in the market for a new brand of educational snake oil and the Common Core provided it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to buy franchises: Obama on the left, Jeb Bush on the right, and many more.

Now that the charm has worn off, the politicians have become hotly defensive about their support for Common Core. This isn’t the place to delve into their excuses and recriminations, but it is important to remember that that rancor is the backdrop to the College Board’s decision to change the SAT. Again.

test

SAT Down

My account of what lies behind the changes differs quite a bit from whatThe New York Times reported. The Times story emphasized Coleman’s heroic decision to take on the test preparation industry, which profits by exploiting the anxieties of students over how they will perform on the SAT.  Test preparation can be expensive and thus wealthier families have an edge. According to the Times, Coleman declared, “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.”

How exactly the changes in the SAT will combat that “culture and practice” is unclear.  The test preparation industry itself seemed to shrug at Coleman’s oration.  The Timesquotes a vice president for Kaplan Test Prep saying that “Test changes always spur demand.”

Coleman is far from the first to rejigger the SAT to advance a notion of equality and justice.  The SAT was invented in 1926 to open the doors to college for students who were natively smart but came from unpromising backgrounds.  Over the decades it became a primary tool for college admissions officers to match potential students with the level off rigor embodied in a college’s curriculum. The goal was to find students who in all likelihood would succeed.

That began to change with the push for racial preferences in college admissions in the 1970s and 1980s. As colleges and universities more and more foregrounded the goal of “diversity” in admissions, the SAT began to look like an embarrassing artifact of an earlier time.  It stood for established standards and evidence of intellectual reach at a time when it had become much more useful to emphasize “evolving” definitions of excellence and achievement.  The new approaches emphasized cultural variety in how people think and what they think about, and the greater relevance to college work of “personal perspective” and viewpoint over mere knowledge.  Likewise “experience” began to seem as valuable in a college applicant as intellectual skill.

The first real fruit of these new concerns was the “recentering” of the SAT’s scoring system in the 1990s, which ballooned the scores of mediocre students and erased the differences among students at the higher end of the scale.  Then, among other changes, came the elimination in 2002 of the verbal analogies portion of the tests, which jettisoned a section for the explicit reason that black students on average performed less well on it than they did on other sections.  That same year the College Board removed the “asterisk” that indicated that a student had taken the test with special accommodations such as extra time.

So the attempt to use the SAT as an instrument to advance “social justice” is, in a sense, more of the same.  We can expect most colleges and universities to welcome Coleman’s changes in that spirit. But there are always costs, and sooner or later we will pay them.  We are embarking on a great expansion of the left’s long-term project of trading off our best chances to foster individual excellence for broadly-distributed access to mediocre education.

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Thank you, Peter Wood.

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New York Legislature: Democrats and Republicans Standing Together Against Common Core   2 comments

latimer

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6604-2013

Parents and teachers against Common Core in New York are celebrating the fact that both Democratic and Republican legislators are now taking a stand against the Common Core.

Why are the two parties coming together?

Senator George Latimer  (D) -Westchester County, wrote an article for the Albany Times last month that explained it well:

“For decades we have heard the rallying cry that American students’ performance is falling behind that of students in other countries and for decades education experts have attempted to come up with ONE solution.  This time, under the guise of making students more prepared for a global economy, New York has adopted the “Common Core” standards and is forging ahead at breakneck speed to implement a new top-down education mandate on local school districts. Without dissecting the validity of the “global competition” argument, there are elements of the Common Core’s implementation in New York that must be addressed first.

… There is something wrong with asking our students to perform at a higher level without properly preparing them. There is something wrong with asking someone in Albany or beyond to evaluate a student in Brooklyn the same as one in Bedford or Buffalo. 

There are many issues with New York’s implementation of Common Core, and the concerns are not limited to a small contingent, as some have suggested. Real people who have students in schools and are of every ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, age and geographic makeup share reservations about the Common Core. It is also an issue that does not pit Democrats versus Republicans; it is truly about the students. 

New York is asking students to take exams based on curricula that are not fully implemented in and certainly not readily embraced by those who are actually in classrooms every day. Yet proponents of Common Core continue to move forward without compromise. 

With significant corporate interests behind the shifts toward a “global” education system, I think it is imperative to analyze this in a business-oriented manner

Many business school students and graduates are surely aware of failure of the “New Coke” initiative in the early ’80s, a product that the top brass of Coca-Cola were convinced would usher in a new generation of an already successful brand. Consumers rejected it, prefering they product they already knew and liked. 

Aggregate scores from the entire state have already slipped in the first year of these new tests, and we know our students are not X percent less intelligent than they were the previous year. The scores dropped because the top officials at the Education Department, like those at Coca-Cola in the ’80s, are convinced that they have a new “brand” of education that will usher in a new generation of globally competitive students. The scores dropped because in its haste to implement the new “brand” of education, SED did not do “consumer” research and development before bringing this product to New York’s education “marketplace.” 

The critics of elements of the Common Core, myself included, are not against having students who are able to understand the “why behind how things work,” but we are opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to educating children in a state, nation and world where one size rarely fits all.

… the outcry against specific aspects of the Common Core — the lack of preparation, privacy of student data, and over-reliance on testing — is an opportunity for us to respond to consumer feedback and adjust to the market. … [P]roponents have failed to properly assess the need for a completely new product in their market, and if we don’t evaluate the public opposition to the Common Core as a gauge of the education market, we will make a mistake that will hurt our children.”

THE STORY KILLERS by Dr. Terrence Moore – Book Review   1 comment

storykillers book

Michelle Malkin has called The Storykillers  “a stopcommoncore must-read.”

It is a must-read.  It’s interesting and important.  It’s packed full of understanding about the Common Core English standards, which are ruining the love of learning as they distort what it means to be educated.

The book pits logic and common sense against the theories, deceptions and absurdities of the Common Core.  It cuts through the Common Core’s wordiness and plainly states this truth:  that Common Core is stunting and killing both the classic literature stories themselves and The Great American Story of liberty and self-government, stories that our children and our country cannot do without.

In  The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core, Dr. Terrence Moore tells us that the restoration of legitimate, time-tested classic literature –the best that has been thought and said and done and discovered“– can solve  America’s educational decline.  The faulty theories of Common Core can not.

If you don’t read book, please remember Dr. Moore’s most important point:  We Must Fight For Our Stories– which Common Core is stealing

The great stories are not disposable!  Who persuaded us that they were?  Losing them means losing, piece by piece, what it means –or meant– to be us.  No amount of supposed career prep info-texts can pretend to make up for that.

Good readers, regardless of what they did after they grew up, developed the love of reading/learning by reading stories.  Young and old need stories to process life.  Great learners fall in love with learning not because of manuals, articles, and  informational texts but because of fascinating stories.  Classic works of literature are being neglected, shortened, misinterpreted and replaced, under Common Core.  And THE Great American Story– the story of freedom –  is being undermined along with the other classics that Common Core neglects.  The book explains exactly how this is happening, using the standards themselves as its centerpiece.

We must fight for our stories.

applebook - Copy

Dr. Moore’s book asks questions like this one:  Why does the new Common Core edition of the  American literature textbook, The American Experience, by Pearson/Prentice Hall 2012, contain sections on government forms,  and an EPA report?  Is this the new and “more rigorous” literature that will prepare our children for college?  Or is it an attempt to “keep the nation’s children from reading stories, particularly traditional stories that run counter to the political ideology” of the authors of  Common Core?

Dr. Moore points out that a widespread, fraudulent adoption of Common Core brought us the fraudulent reading (and math) theories upon which Common Core Standards rest. Common Core was never pilot tested as it should have been, before virtually the whole country adopted it.

You know how long it takes for a new drug to get on the market before it receives approval from the FDA,” he writes,  “Yet here is the educational medicine, so to speak, that all the nation’s children will be taking every day, seven hours a day– and no clinical trials have been done.”

Dr. Moore points out, too, that “most of the money that funded the original writing of the standards came from the deep pockets of Bill Gates. Perhaps related to this fact, the Common Core will have students working far more with computers… the people behind the Common Core also have a hand in running the tests and stand to gain financially…. the other people who stand to make out like bandits are the textbook publishers. If that’s not enough to get one wondering, it turns out that the actual writing of the standards was done in complete secrecy.

(Shocking! Terrible! And true.  Yet how many people know these facts in the face of so many ceaseless Common Core marketing lies being put out by the likes of Exxon, Harvard, Jeb Bush, the National Governors’ Association and even the National PTA, all of whom were paid by Bill Gates to say what they say about Common Core.  Don’t listen to them!  They are financially bound to say what they say.  Listen to people like Dr. Moore, who do not accept money from the Gates club.)

In his book, Dr. Moore talks a lot about what is NOT in the English standards as well as what’s there.

The traditional aims of education– to pursue truth, to find true happiness, to be good, to love the beautiful, to know the great stories of our American tradition– are not the designs of Common Core, he says.  The Common Core is a program that kills stories in order to direct people to “be preoccupied with only  the functional aspects of human existence and to have almost no interest in the higher aims of life.”

plato

Dr. Moore reminds us that controlling stories (or the lack of stories) is the same thing as controlling people:   “Plato pointed out in his Republic a book never read in today’s high schools, nor usually even in college– whoever writes the stories shapesor controls– the minds of the people in any given regime.”

The book’s title describes the killing of two important types of stories:

The great stories are, first, the works of literature that have long been considered great by any standard of literary judgment and, second, what we might call the Great American Story of people longing to be free and happy under their own self-government. The Common Core will kill these stories by a deadly combination of neglect, amputation, misinterpretation…”

Then,

On the ruins of the old canon of literary and historical classics will be erected a new canon of post-modern literature and progressive political doctrine. Simultaneous to this change, fewer and fewer works of literature will be read on the whole. Great literature will be replaced with ‘information’ masquerading as essential ‘workforce training’.”

Moore explains that the proponents of Common Core hold up “the illusion of reform” while continuing to “gut the school curriculum” and to remove its humanity.  He points to page five of the introduction to the Common Core where  this chart appears for English readings:

Grade Literary Information
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%

So our little children under Common Core aligned school books won’t get more than 50% of their reading from stories.  And our high school seniors won’t get more than 30% of their reading from stories.  The bulky 70% of what they read must be informational text:  not poetry, not plays, not novels, not the books that move our souls.  In English class.

Thus literature is on the wane in public schools,” Dr. Moore writes, and traditional literature classes are being eroded, despite the fact that the Common Core proponents aim to deceive us and make the “public believe that they are requiring more rigor in reading.”

Dr. Moore calls us to fight for our children’s access to the great stories.

There has never been a great people without great stories. And the great stories of great peoples often dwell on the subject of greatness. They dwell on the subject of plain goodness as well: the goodness that is to be found in love, marriage, duty, the creation of noble and beautiful things. It is patently obvious that they authors of the Common Core are uncomfortable with these great stories of the great and the good.  They are plainly uncomfortable with great literature. And they are even more uncomfortable with what might be called the Great American Story.”

Read much of what the so-called education reformers are speaking about lately, and you’ll see it:  they call for sameness, common-ness, for the forced redistribution of teachers and funds, and above all, for equality of results.  Not greatness.  Not the ability for a single student or school to soar above the rest.  No exceptionalism allowed.  (Anyone ever read Harrison Bergeron?)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, the testing companies, the Common Core copyright holding groups– the reformers seem to avoid the concepts of goodness and greatness in favor of a twisted version of “social justice” equality, which is, frankly, theft, along with being as foolish as the reasoning behind the society of Harrison Bergeron, which is in no way truly fair, or truly helpful.

“…They fully expect us to shrug with thoughtless indifference.  Do not be fooled.  The fate of our stories is the fate of the nation,” writes Dr. Moore.

book and kite

Dr. Moore does the unthinkable:  he subjects the Common Core Standards to actual critical thinking (which they claim to promote).

Since everyone loves the expression ‘critical thinking’ these days, let us subject these standards to a little critical thinking.

He questions the  Common Core Initiative’s obsession with technology and testing.

bored by screen

Computers are a lot more like televisions than anyone is willing to admit… it is true that art teachers can now much more easily show their classes great paintings and sculptures by using the internet.  It is likewise true that history teachers can employ actual speeches of Churchill or Reagan using videos found on the web. Ninety percent of the time, though, that is not how the computer is being used… The arch-testers of the Common Core champion the use of the technological elixir that cures all illnesses and heals all wounds without even pausing to warn us of the potential side effects… we are not invited to consider how much technology is compromising the old literacy. Least of all are we supposed to realize that the remedy for our growing twenty-first-century illiteracy is traditional, nineteenth-century education.”

He asks us to re-examine the assumption that because technology has changed so much, schooling should also change so much.  “Does schooling belong in that class of things that does not get ‘updated’ every week…  human institutions and relations for which we must be initiated into certain permanent ways of thinking, lest we be cast adrift on a sea of moral, cultural, and political uncertainty?”

He points out that education should not be confused with job training and that “going to college” is not the same thing as gaining knowledge; and that the authors of Common Core are “lumping college readiness and career readiness together” without stopping to explain what either means nor how either will be affected by the lumping.

He points out that while the standards claim to wield the power to prepare children for “the twenty-first-century global economy,” that claim is based on nothing.  It’s just a claim.  And we have had economies to worry about since the beginning of time, none of which would have succeeded by taking away stories and classics, the very core that made people in the not too distant past far more literate than we are today.

He opposes this “pedestrian preoccupation with what will happen when children turn nineteen” because it “undermines the powers of imagination and of observation,” powers which are too important to ignore.  Think about it:  imagination makes children read and helps them to love books.  No little child is motivated to read because he/she is concerned about college and career, years from now.  The child reads because the story is interesting.  Period.

Dr. Moore also points out that the history of successful literacy shows a very different path from the one Common Core is leading America to follow.

Historically, what created the highest literacy rates?  Dr. Moore points out that it was high church attendance, combined with emphasis on the Bible, and schooling with an emphasis on traditional learning!  (And the Bible is composed mostly of stories and lyrical language, not of “rigorous informational texts.”)

Dr. Moore points out that Colonial Massachusetts and 18th-century Scotland had nearly universal literacy.  Newspapers in the 18th century were written at a far higher level than the journalism of today (which is written at the sixth-grade level.)

Yet the authors of Common Core insist that students should read far more recently written, informational texts, such as newspaper articles… Ergo, the literacy for the twenty-first-century global economy will be built upon the cracking foundation of our present semi-literacy. Was there not once a famous story-teller who said something about not building a house upon sand?”

He asks us to remember that the careful reading of stories enables us to “learn about good taste and manners. We learn all the the individual virtues and vices… human emotions… Through this vicarious activity, we are compelled to examine ourselves and thereby attain what used to be called self-government… What is a better study of ambition leading to ruin than Macbeth?  Wat is a better study of indecision and imprudence than Hamlet? What is a better example of adolescent love and passion in their raw state than Romeo and Juliet?  What is a better model of command than Henry V?… We hang onto these stories… that teach us who we are and who we ought to be. The study of human character through great literature, then, teaches us how to live.”

In the book’s last chapter, Moore explains that what is permanently valuable to students does not change very much.  He writes that a genuine common core would have included a group of magnificent books that each truly educated person would have read, at the very least.  Under THE Common Core, however, mostly informational, unproven texts and text excerpts are listed –and there is no set core of classic books.  He writes,  “Had the Common Core English Standards held up just a few great books, college professors could finally know what their incoming students had actually read.  Heck, even advertisers and comedians could know what jokes they could tell about literary characters”  Moore says that “the Holy Grail of school reform” is the set of “great books of our tradition.”

He recommends that students would read –PRIOR to high school–  titles such as The Tempest, Animal Farm, A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Then Dr. Moore lists a classical high school curriculum (which he says has been working in the schools in which he has helped to implement it):

Homer’s Iliad  (The whole thing, not a drive-by excerpt); the WHOLE of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth; the WHOLE U.S. Constitution; Le Morte D’Arthur, Pride and Prejudice, Plutarch’s Lives; Moby Dick; Huckleberry Finn, 1984; A Tale of Two Cities; Crime and Punishment; The Scarlet Letter, The Mayflower Compact; Uncle Tom’s Cabin The Prince; Confessions of Augustine; poetry by Frost, Longfellow, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare; biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, speeches by Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan; and so on and so on.

Despite everything that is being taken away from the American English curriculum because of Common Core, despite the damage that is being done to children’s love of learning by removing the thing that makes people love to read and become great readers– stories– despite all else he exposes about the Common Core, Dr. Moore’s bottom line remains this one:

Anyone who thinks I have travelled too far afield or have jumped to conclusions about the true aims of the Common Core should read one further phrase found on the opening page of the English standards.  That phrase is more alarming and more revelaing than all the jargon about a new literacy and college and career readiness. ‘The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.’ …The authors of the Core are  forecasting that their program will change over the next ten, twenty, forty years… but the same people will be in charge. What will be the new and better evidence that emerges?  Who will get to decide what constitutes better evidence? Who will do the revising?”

I have only scratched the surface of this important book here.  I hope you will buy copies for your friends, your school board, your legislator, your governor, and especially for your favorite English teacher.  This book is a powerful tool in the fight to  reclaim legitimate K-12 and college education in this country.

Link to book:   The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core

Open Letters: Common Core is Evil Posing as Good   10 comments

dixie

Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative

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Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
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Christel-

I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.

If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.

Dixie Allen
Region 12
Utah State Board of Education

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Dear Dixie,

My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.

I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!

Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.

I do not use the word “evil” casually.

Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.

It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.

It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.

And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?

I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.

While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).

Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.

Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.

1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.

If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.

Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.

Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.

Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)

Not you and not me.

Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… 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.”

2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”

3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.

4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:

Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech

: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.

Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?

Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.

Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.

We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.

Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.

Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher

apple books

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Updating with more letters 1-17-14

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Dixie,

To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.

But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.

Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.

I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.

It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.

I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.

–Christel

Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/01/08/15sessions_ep.h33.html

New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/assembly-speaker-common-core-should-be-delayed-1.6752646

New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call

http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2014/01/nysut-will-seek-no-confidence-vote-on-king/

New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/11/common-core-chaos-ny-state-website-sends-kids-to-offensive-test-prep/

Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/08/3859588/lawmakers-question-timeline-for.html

North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/08/3516802/nc-education-board-wants-to-keep.html

New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators

http://www.nhregister.com/social-affairs/20140108/new-testing-standards-stressing-new-haven-educators

Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/02/259082746/education-critics-say-common-core-standards-rollout-is-rushed

How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/01/are_progressive_critics_of_com.html

FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary

http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams

http://www.northjersey.com/news/239854621_Educators_air_academic_alternative_to_increased_student_testing.html

See Why and How Performance Assessment Works

http://www.fairtest.org/performance-assessments-succeed-new-york

Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System

http://childrenaremorethantestscores.blogspot.com/2014/01/we-demand-balanced-assessment-system.html

Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/virginia-lawmakers-call-for-fewer-sol-tests/2014/01/13/a7461654-789a-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html

North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/09/3519784/wake-to-give-more-tests-to-third.html

Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers

http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140110-r.i.-department-of-education-expands-necap-waiver-for-high-school-graduation.ece

Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/10/teachers-in-lee-ma-return-merit-pay/

Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-cooper/lets-teach-students-to-th_b_4556320.html

Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-weingarten/teaching-and-learning-ove_b_4575705.html

Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills

http://www.highlandernews.org/11749/standardized-testing-has-created-standardized-students-with-useless-skills/

Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2014/01/anthem-for-high-stakes-testing-era-with.html

“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule

https://www.facebook.com/STANDARDIZEDtheMOVIE

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Christel,

It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!

However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.

Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.

Best Wishes,

Dixie

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elephant

Dear Dixie,

It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.

Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.

Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”

Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.

Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:

“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.

I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.

At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:

Where is the evidence?

Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.

Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.

How will student data be used?

The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.

One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.

Why not a different approach?

Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?

For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.

… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.

While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders msanders@deseretnews.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt

Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.

I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.

Again, thanks for talking.

Christel

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Christel,

I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.

I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.

It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.

Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.

Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.

Thanks again!!

Dixie
————————–

elefant

Dixie,

I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.

But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.

He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.

Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.

He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.

For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.

He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.

A positive attitude?

I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.

You have the power. Please remove him.

Christel
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Christel,

Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.

We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.

————————————-

Dixie,

The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.

The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.

I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.

I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.

The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.

Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.

Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.

I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.

The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.

Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which 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 .

Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”

Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.

One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!

It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .

Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.

Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.

Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.

Thanks for listening.

Christel
————————————-

Christel,

Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!

First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.

Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.

Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.

Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.

I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.

Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.

Dixie
———————————-

Dixie,

Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)

Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.

Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.

Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”

“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”

Those are their words, not mine.

Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:

1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].

How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.

As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.

Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)

Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.

And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.

Thanks again for talking and listening.

Christel

———————-

Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.

So sorry!

Dixie

————————-

Dixie,

I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.

I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.

As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.

Christel

——————-

Meme Unconstitutional Common Core Christel Swasey

Faltering Coleman and Turnabout Huckabee: Is the Stop Common Core Movement Succeeding?   11 comments

The Stop Common Core movement is gaining tremendous momentum and the proponents of Common Core seem to be slowing down. Some of the leading characters have been so slowed that they have been stopped in their tracks.

A recent broadcast by proponent Mike Huckabee said he’s suddenly turned around and is now NOT not a proponent of Common Core.

A recent public letter from David Coleman said he’s decided he must delay the Common Core version of the SAT until 2016.

—David Coleman! The noneducator-businessman-leading architect of the Common Core, the one who dismissed the value of narrative writing and espoused letting informational text edge out classic literature in English classrooms— THIS David Coleman who is now president of the College Board, who is aligning college entrance exams to his Common Core– this is the man who is admitting he cannot push his Common Core agenda up the hill fast anymore, because of so much pushback.

But that’s not all. Look at what is happening all over the nation!

We’ve seen handfuls of states drop out of the SBAC and PARCC Common Core testing consortia.

We’ve seen the Manchester, NH school district outright reject Common Core.

We’ve seen New York superintendent Joseph Rella hold a district-wide rally in a football stadium to create awareness about the damages of Common Core

We’ve read the testimonies of the official members of the Common Core validation committee who refused to sign off on the standards.

We’ve read parents’ own executive order against Common Core.

We’ve seen lawsuits and demonstrations.

We’ve even seen teenagers speaking out to legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee, pleading with them to stop Common Core.

Top leaders in both the Democratic and the Republican parties are standing up and speaking out against Common Core.

There are countless grassroots groups in almost every state that are fighting Common Core, each going strong with thousands of Facebook and Twitter shares.

Every day we see more and more major news articles and radio programs and even debates and op-eds about the Stop Common Core movement.

There’s now a much-shared movie trailer for a Common Core documentary that comes out in February 2014. (It was posted on YouTube four days ago.)

We’ve seen anti-Common Core statements by many outstanding university professors; also, a letter from 132 Catholic scholars to Catholic Bishops, opposing Common Core.

There have been Stop Common Core resolutions passed in Bergen County, NJ; at Tammany Parish, Louisiana; at the Utah GOP convention, at the Alabama Republican Women’s Convention, and the national GOP convention, and elsewhere.

Many governors and other legislators are writing anti-Common Core documents and executive orders.

These happenings are simply amazing.

But listening to David Coleman and Mike Huckabee it becomes clear that the proponents have no intention of veering from their end goal: to hold complete local control in D.C. using the partnershipping of corporations and federal entities (neither of which have any authority over constitutionally state-held educational decisions).

Huckabee said, “Common Core is dead, but common sense shouldn’t be.”

Say what?

What part of stealing local control away from those who have a constitutional right to it, makes sense to Huckabee? What part of constitutionally, locally-set education standards aligns with the top-down “let’s raise standards nationwide” movement that pretends to serve while it robs? Huckabee even said that it was once a state-led movement that was hijacked by others. Really? Show me the convention at which my state representative helped write Common Core. I’ve talked to Sen. Lee and Sen. Chaffetz and they were not invited. Neither did anyone from my state school board come to such an event. There was none. It was businessmen and elite D.C. clubs that pushed this thing from day one, with the full support of the Obama Administration.

Sadly, it is clear that Huckabee in no way has abandoned the Common Core philosophy; he just wants to rebrand it.

Isn’t it AMAZING though, that Common Core has become an offensive word to many –even to Huckabee?

Isn’t it amazing that Huckabee wants to get away from the word, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education never uses it (instead using the term “college and career ready standards”. This could be seen as evidence that honest people with persistent voices can succeed against the mainstream, evidence that heaven has helped us.

But Common Core, by any other name, is still the unconstitutional partnershipping of corporations and federal entities to steal power from us.

Don’t be fooled. Obama’s Blueprint for Education is still with us although it never uses the term “Common Core,” either. But it’s all there: the federally-pushed standards, the standardization of student data, the teacher controls, etc. etc. etc. A rose by any other name…

Common Core Movie: Building the Machine (trailer)   13 comments

Here is the trailer for the upcoming Common Core documentary movie, Building the Machine.

To find out more, visit Common Core Issues at the Home School Legal Defense Association. http://www.commoncoremovie.com

Dr. Christopher Tienken Explains PISA and Real Education Beyond PISA   6 comments


This article, reposted with permission from Christienken.com, was written to challenge education bureaucrats who are using the latest PISA results to justify their crooked reforms. Diane Ravitch, Yong Zhao, and Rick Hess have excellent posts as well on the topic of PISA.
Dr. Tienken’s questions for ed reformers at the end of his article take the cake!

tienken

What PISA Says About PISA

by Dr. Christopher Tienken

Pundits, education bureaucrats, and policy makers rejoice! It’s PISA time once again. Cue the dark music, fear mongering, worn out slogans and dogma about the United States education system failing the country economically. Sprinkle in “global competitiveness” throughout your press release, gush over how well those non-creative, authoritarian Asian countries performed, push your market oriented, anti-local control reforms, and presto, you are ready for prime-time education-reformer status. It seems as if America is suffering from a severe case of PISA envy. But what do the vendors of PISA say about PISA?

Unfortunately, the release of the latest PISA scores tells us nothing about the quality of a country’s education system, nor do the results predict economic doom or success. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2013, p.265), the private group that sells the PISA, the results should not be used to make sweeping indictments of education systems or important policy decisions. In fact, the vendors caution that the results of the PISA tests are a combination of schooling, life experiences, poverty, and access to early childhood programs, just to name a few factors:

“If a country’s scale scores in reading, scientific or mathematical literacy are significantly higher than those in another country, it cannot automatically be inferred that the schools or particular parts of the education system in the first country are more effective than those in the second. However, one can legitimately conclude that the cumulative impact of learning experiences in the first country, starting in early childhood and up to the age of 15, and embracing experiences both in school, home and beyond, have resulted in higher outcomes in the literacy domains that PISA measures.”

Not only are PISA results influenced by experiences “in the home and beyond”, but there is a sizeable relationship between the level of child poverty in a country and PISA results. Poverty explains up to 46% of the PISA scores in OECD countries (OECD, 2013, pp. 35-36). That does not bode well for the U.S. with one of the highest childhood poverty rates of the major industrialized countries.

Schooling does not end when a child turns 15 or 16, the ages of the students tested by PISA. Students continue their education for another 2-3 years and are thus exposed to more content. The vendors of PISA acknowledge that the scores from a 15 year-old child could not possibly predict or account for all that child knows or will grow to learn in the future. According to the PISA technical manual (OECD, 2009 p. 261) curriculum alignment and the selectiveness in countries’ testing populations also contribute to differences in the scores:

“This is not only because different students were assessed but also because the content of the PISA assessment was not expressly designed to match what students had learned in the preceding school year but more broadly to assess the cumulative outcome of learning in school up to age 15. For example, if the curriculum of the grades in which 15-year-olds are enrolled mainly includes material other than that assessed by PISA (which, in turn, may have been included in earlier school years) then the observed performance difference will underestimate student progress.”

Furthermore, the vendors reiterate their cautions that PISA is not aligned to any curriculum (2009, p.48):

PISA measures knowledge and skills for life and so it does not have a strong curricular focus. This limits the extent to which the study is able to explore relationships between differences in achievement and differences in the implemented curricula.”

But what “skills for life” does PISA measure? A look at the released items suggest that some of the content measured is just rehashed versions of subject matter that has been around for the last 120 years: Hardly 21st century skills. PISA does not measure resilience, persistence, collaboration, cooperation, cultural awareness, strategizing, empathy, compassion, or divergent thinking.

So, if the vendors of PISA repeatedly warn that PISA is not aligned to school curricula, the scores are influenced strongly by poverty and wealth, the skills are left over from the 19th and 20th centuries, and out-of-school factors contribute to the overall education output in a country, then what does PISA really tell us about the quality of a school system or global competitiveness? Not much.

U.S. students have never scored at the top of the ranks on PISA or any other international test given since 1964. Countries like Estonia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Poland, and Latvia outscore the U.S. on every PISA. Does that matter? What is their per-capita GDP? How many Nobel Prizes have they won? How many utility patents do they produce each year? Where have high PISA scores gotten them? Are they going to “out-compete” the U.S.? I don’t think so.

Beyond the utterly anti-intellectual statements being made about the latest round of PISA scores, there are some basic questions that policy makers, education bureaucrats, and the latest crop of self-proclaimed savior-reformers should answer before thrusting assertions and untested policies upon 50 million public school children.

What is your definition of global competitiveness?

How can one test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

Was the PISA test designed to predict economic growth (OECD, 2009; 2013)?

What empirical evidence do you have that high PISA scores result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship (Zhao, 2012)?

Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the PISA tests (Riddle, 2009)?

Do you know what disaggregate means?

If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore us on PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)?

What empirical evidence do you have that PISA scores cause economic growth in the G20 countries (Tienken, 2008)?

What jobs are U.S. children competing for in this economy?

What evidence do you have to demonstrate U.S. students are competing for the jobs you cite and with whom are they competing (evidence for that as well…)?

Do you think that lower wages is a reason multinational corporations choose to sell out the American public and set up shops in places like Pakistan,
Indonesia, Cambodia, India, China, Bangladesh, and Haiti?

Are you aware of the strong relationship between our growing trade with China and the loss of our manufacturing jobs (Pierce & Schott, 2012; Traywick, 2013)?

Why are companies like Boeing and GE allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012)?

Can higher PISA scores change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages?

Are you aware that only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations
outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?

Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012)?

Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?

If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?

Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).

Did you answer “No” to three or more of these questions? If so, don’t you think it is time that you save the taxpayers money and resources and resign?

Sources

Gereffi, G., Wadhwa, V. & Rissing, B. (2006). Framing the Engineering Outsourcing Debate: Comparing the Quantity and Quality of Engineering Graduates in the United States, India and China. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1015831 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1015831

Kiwana, L., Kumar, A., & Randerson, N. (2012).The Skills Threat from China and India – Fact or Fiction. Engineering U.K. Retrieved from http://www.engineeringuk.com/_resources/documents/Engineering_Graduates_in_China_and_India_-_EngineeringUK_-_March_2012.pdf

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). PISA 2009 results: What students know and can do: Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Vol. I). Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ pisaproducts/pisa2009/pisa2009resultswhatstudents knowandcandostudentperformanceinreadingmath ematicsandsciencevolumei.htm

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). PISA 2012 results. What students know and can do: Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Vol. I). http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-I.pdf

Pierce, J.R. (2012). The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment. Yale School of Management and National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/schott-09-oct-2013.pdf

Prestowitz, C. (2012, Feb. 22). GE’s Competitiveness Charade. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from: http://prestowitz.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/02/22/ges_competitiveness_charade 5

Riddle, M. (2010, December 15). PISA: It’s Poverty not Stupid [web post]. The Principal Difference. Retrieved from http://nasspblogs.org/principaldifference/2010/12/pisa_its_poverty_not_stupid_1.html

Tienken, C.H. (2008). Rankings of International Achievement Test Performance and Economic Strength: Correlation or Conjecture? International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 3(3), 1-12.

Tienken, C.H. (2013). International Comparisons of Innovation and Creativity. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 49, 153-155.

Traywick, C.A. (2013, Nov. 5). Here’s Proof that Trading with Beijing is Screwing America’s Workers. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/ posts/2013/11/05/heres_proof_that_trading_with_china_is_screwing_american_workers

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (2012): Patents by Country, State, and Year: Utility Patents. Alexandria, VA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/cst_utl.htm

World Bank. (2013). GDP Per Capita. Retrieved from: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD
– See more at: http://christienken.com/2013/12/05/what-pisa-says-about-pisa/#sthash.iLc3v8ZP.dpuf

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Thank you, Dr. Tienken.

CA School District Sells Student Data to Fundraise for Duncan Visit   2 comments

barack arne

For those who still don’t realize that there’s an ugly, illicit student-data selling racket going on, here’s a news story for you.

A California school district just traded their students’ data for the large amount of money that they wanted for an event, a visit from the U.S. Secretary of Education. There’s thick irony in having the data-hungry Secretary of Education being the very guest of honor at the event that was purchased by the sale of student data to his Department of Education’s “Promise Neighborhoods” group.

So, this week’s article in the San Diego Reader exposes the racket of buying and selling private student data. The article says:

“Castle Park Middle School is a Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood school. Promise Neighborhoods are funded by the Department of Education and claim to offer “cradle to career” services. South Bay Community Services is the organization that oversees and distributes the $60 million government investment in Chula Vista.

On August 2 Principal Bleisch wrote to [district CFO Albert Alt]: “By the way, FYI-SBCS [Promise Neighborhood/South Bay Community Services] is prepared to give my school a good chunk of change (over $100K of PN money allocated last year for staff that was not used.) The catch is that they are kinda using the data-sharing agreement as leverage.) They promised to expedite this money transfer as soon as we deliver on the data agreement.

“We sent Dr Brand the revised [data] agreement yesterday. He said it looked good. If there is any way you can help me get that signed I then can put the pressure on them to get me the money. I plan to use this money for the stage and other things needed for the 9/13 visit.”

On August 5, Bleisch wrote Alt a reminder. The subject of the email is “Data-Sharing.”

“Just a kind reminder if you can help us get this data-sharing agreement signed.” FYI-They’re [reference to South Bay Community Services] holding up money until I deliver on this [smiley face] need this PN money to pay $17k for a new stage and $3000 Flags, $5000 cafeteria college banners for Arne’s visit…”

On August 22, Alt wrote to various staff regarding reimbursements for Castle Park Middle School:

“With approval from the Superintendent, I have authorized General Funds to be reimbursed to Castle Park Middle ASB funds. Mr. Bleisch utilized ASB funds to purchase a stage for the school, in particular for the visit of the United States Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan.”

Read the whole article here.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Secretary Duncan and the student data racket, catch up here and here and here.)

Data Baby

Betrayed: Laurie Rogers on the Secretary of Education   2 comments

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Secretary of Education displays arrogant, bigoted, anti-parent sentiment. Alas, he speaks for many.

by Laurie H. Rogers

“It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed this Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings or liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people—women as well as men.” — Susan B. Anthony, who in 1873 was under indictment for voting in a presidential election

On Nov. 15, 2013, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told state school superintendents he’s “fascinated” that “white suburban moms” are opposed to the Common Core initiatives.

Really? I’m “fascinated” that someone put Arne Duncan in charge of the nation’s public education system.

Duncan’s entire college education appears to consist of a bachelor’s degree in sociology. (This is a step up from community organizing, but not a very big step.) It’s bizarre that someone with a bachelor’s degree in sociology is the Secretary of Education, entrusted with 700 billion taxpayer dollars annually and now dictating education policy to all of us.

According to white suburban dad Duncan, the opposition of white suburban moms to the Common Core is because they’ve been blind up to now. He said: “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

Ah, yes: The 2013 version of “they’re just hysterical females.” Even if our children are stupid, it isn’t polite of Duncan to point it out. But that’s only the tip of what’s wrong with his comments.

Asked later to clarify, Duncan said he “didn’t say it perfectly,” but he declined to modify his central position that opponents of Common Core don’t get it, are opposed to higher standards, or might actually want “less” for students.

In a later email, Department of Education spokesman Massie Ritsch reportedly blamed extremists: “The far right and far left have made up their minds,” Ritsch reportedly wrote. “But there’s angst in the middle — which includes many open-minded suburban parents — that needs to be addressed.”

And just like that, the legitimate concerns of Common Core opponents are again misrepresented, mislabeled and dismissed.

What actually needs to be addressed is the fact that many of those in charge of education (and so the future of our children and the country) seem uninformed, arrogant, anti-parent, out-of-touch, antagonistic, bigoted, elitist, chauvinistic, condescending, dismissive, divisive, snobbish, petty, obstructive, ignorant of what actually works in education, blind to the children’s needs, and adept at saying things that obviously aren’t true.

In the echo chamber of education, Duncan’s comments exemplify the general attitude toward parents: You don’t get it. You’re the problem. We don’t need to listen to you because you have nothing to tell us. Stop being a pain. Vote for our levies if you don’t hate children, but please don’t talk unless you agree with us.

Indeed, if arrogance were water, it might have flooded the state superintendents’ Nov. 15 meeting and drowned them all.

Administrators frequently blame parents for not being involved. They also blame parents who are very involved. They accuse us of not knowing enough math, but most won’t listen to those of us who know a lot of math. Many have no problem calling us names, mocking our efforts, refusing to answer our questions, stepping between us and our children, and lying about their real intentions. To our face, they’re careful to produce acceptable language, but behind our back, in the echo chamber, Duncan has shown us exactly what many education administrators are: Arrogant, dismissive, bigoted and deceitful.

One must agree with Duncan on the public schools. Most are inadequate and most parents don’t realize it – because we are lied to constantly by the federal government, state education agencies, district administration, board directors, the media and some teachers. Duncan’s comments are a nice turn on the truth; a strategy that’s been his stock and trade pretty much since he took over as secretary.

Following a storm of outrage, Duncan blamed sound-bites, poor communication and a “fast-moving world” for the negative reaction. He said he “regrets” his “clumsy phrasing” – “particularly because it distracted” from the “important” conversation. He wants to return to the discussion of “implementing reform.”

Well, sure. He’s always welcome to join in as parents continue to question his “reform.” We anti-CC parents never left that conversation. We understand exactly how important it is, which is why we insist on and persist in having it. The CC initiatives are alarming – sloppy, expensive, unproved, poorly done, dictatorial, divisive and intrusive. Some parents call the initiatives “Obamacore.”

Whether or not you see Duncan’s attempt at damage control as an actual apology, it’s too late. He accidentally stated his inner thoughts, and there is no putting that nasty genie back in the bottle.

Being able to lie well used to be a sign of sociopathy, but it’s now a government norm. Consider the vast nationwide deceit that is public education. It must be that education agencies hire based on the abilities to lie well to children and parents; to turn away from the obvious needs of desperate children; and to deflect all parental doubt, worry and criticism as being the ravings of the deluded and uninformed.

In actuality, parental concerns about the Common Core initiatives are legitimate and worthy of media investigation.

The initiatives were supposed to be common standards in K-12 math and English, but are becoming national standards in all subjects, along with national tests, forced curricula and a creepy national data system on children and families. They’ve taken over the country, in preschools, K-12, colleges, public schools, charter schools, private schools, Christian schools, curricular materials, state and college testing, and public and private daycares. There is zero proof of their efficacy; this is a national experiment on children. Many CC-aligned curricular materials are already proving to be academically weak, with insufficient grammar, no cursive writing, heavy (and extreme) political bias, questionable literary content, and the same fuzzy math that devastated the last 30 years of K-12 math instruction.

The standards are both a “floor “ and a ceiling for students; there are mandated limitations on what can be taught, and the Common Core doesn’t provide for special types of learners. In addition, the cost of this national experiment could financially bury the country. It’s simple math. There are about 14,000 K-12 school districts. 14,000 districts x multi-millions of dollars each = billions of our tax dollars.

And yet, with all of this, Duncan says he’s “fascinated” that white suburban moms don’t get it. What those moms need is do, he said, is understand that education is global.

Right. Because that will fix it.

Journalist Michelle Malkin, who is not white, is anti-Common Core. Last week, Malkin wrote about Duncan: “He pretends that minority parents and students in inner-city charter and magnet schools with rigorous locally crafted classical education missions simply don’t exist. A textbook liberal racist, Duncan whitewashes all minority parents and educators who oppose Common Core out of the debate.”

On Nov. 18, Duncan explained that he didn’t mean to pick on white suburban moms. “Every demographic has room for improvement,” he clarified.

Ah, that’s better. In his mind, we all suck.

Dear Mr. Duncan: Every government agency nowadays has room for improvement, but most show no sign of knowing what improvement looks like. If you would stop mucking around in classrooms, insulting involved parents and capable teachers, wasting tax dollars on unproved initiatives, and secretively throwing your lightweight around – in violation of the U.S. Code and the Tenth Amendment – then We, the People could take care of making actual academic improvements.

Math advocates did that in Washington State in 2007-08 with better standards in math. Just two years later, Duncan, with his bachelor’s degree in sociology, caused those better math standards to be tossed in favor of the lesser and infinitely more expensive Common Core experiment. Clearly, the CC was never about academics or the children’s needs; it’s always been about money and control.

The solutions to problems in public education do not entail more government and more Arne Duncan; they entail less government and preferably no Arne Duncan at all.

———————————–

Thank you, Laurie Rogers.

Rogers, L. (November 2013). “Secretary of Education displays arrogant, bigoted, anti-parent sentiment. Alas, he speaks for many.” Retrieved November 26, 2013 from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

Pullman: Common Core is the Big Election Issue That Politicians Try to Ignore   2 comments

Published this week at The Federalist is an article by Joy Pullman: “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore”.

Pullman points out that while Washington does its best to ignore or discredit Common Core opposition, the fact remains that some heavy names and powerful organizations are fighting Common Core:

“Common Core opponents include, as entire institutions or representatives from them, the American Principles Project, Americans for Prosperity, the Badass Teachers Association, the Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, Class Size Matters, Eagle Forum, FreedomWorks, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Goldwater Institute, the Heartland Institute (where I work), the Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College, the Hoover Institute, Notre Dame University, the National Association of Scholars, the Pioneer Institute, Stanford University, United Opt-Out, and leaders from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to a coalition of Catholic university scholars and teachers union darling Diane Ravitch. These organizations’ flavors range from constitutionalist to libertarian to liberal. The people making the noise are regular moms, dads, and grandparents, but they’re backed up by organizations with intellectual chops.”

She writes, “Even so, knowledge of Common Core is relatively low among the general public, so many politicians have seen this as an opening to disregard or ignore it. That’s a dangerous move….the biggest thing Washington politicos may be overlooking about Common Core is the simple fact that wedge issues matter. Most of the populace does not show up to vote for most elections. People who have strong reasons to vote do, and turnout often determines elections. Getting passionate people to vote is half the point of a campaign. The Common Core moms have a reason to vote, and boy, do they have a lot of friends.”

Read the whole article.

7 Links to Evidence of Federal Control of Common Core   8 comments

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Folks, there can be no question that the federal government is using Common Core to take away our freedoms.

So why do many people still believe that “there’s no federal control of Common Core”? Because trusted education leaders are not being forthright with –or are not in possession of– the truth. Here in Utah, for example, the Utah State Office of Education, has a “fact-versus-fiction” pamphlet which still says that the standards “are not federally controlled.”

The fact is that states that adopted Common Core standards are being co-parented by two groups in partnership, neither of which takes seriously the constitutional rights of the states to govern education locally: these partners are 1) The federal government and 2) Private trade clubs financed by Bill Gates– NGA and CCSSO.

So first, here’s evidence of terrible federal controls: (click to fact check, please)

1. Federal micromanagement in Common Core testing grant conditions and now, Race to the Top grant lures that go directly to districts and ignore state authority over districts.
2.Federal ESEA 15% capped waiver conditions that deny states the right to add more than 15% to our standards;
3. Federal reviews of tests
4. Federal data collection
5. Federal
disfiguration of previously protective FERPA laws that removed parental rights over student data;
6. President Obama’s four assurances for education reform which governors promised to enact in exchange for ARRA stimulus funds;
7.Obama’s withholding of funds from schools that do not adopt Common Core as read in his Blueprint for Reform (aka The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) which says, “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.”

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And here’s evidence of unelected, corporate controls of Common Core:

1) Common Core copyrights (and “living work” alteration rights) are held solely by two unelected, private clubs, the superintendents’ club (aka CCSSO) and a governors’ club (aka NGA).
2) These two clubs’ Common Core creation was influenced and funded not by voters/taxpayers, by the politically extreme Bill Gates, who has spent over $5 Billion on his personal, awful version of education reform– and that dollar amount is his own admission.
3) No amendment process exists for states to co-amend the “living work” standards. The “living work” statement means that OUR standards will be changed without representation from US as the states; it will be controlled by the private trade groups CCSSO/NGA.
4) Bill Gates and Pearson are partnered. (Biggest ed sales company partnered with 2nd richest man on earth, all in the effort to force Common Core on everyone.)
5) The speech of corporate sponsor Bill Gates when he explains that “We’ll only know [Common Core] this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.” This explains why he is giving away so much money so that companies can be united in the gold rush of creating Common Core curriculum.
6. Virtually every textbook sales company now loudly advertises being “common core aligned” which creates a national monopoly on textbook-thought. This, despite the fact that the standards are unpiloted, experimental (in the words of Dr. Christopher Tienken, Common Core is education malpractice.)
7. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many huge corporations (ExxonMobil) are loudly selling Common Core as a way of creating wealth, despite the standards’ untested nature.

The federal partnering with the private groups like CCSSO/NGA, means that mandates and thought-monopolies of Common Core are truly beyond even legislative control. –Because they are privately controlled, they’re beyond voters’ influence.

This is why nothing short of an outright rejection of all things Common Core can restore us to educational freedom.

Why should you care? Why should you fight this, even if you don’t have children in school? Because of the Constitution.

The Constitution sets us apart as the only country on earth that has ever truly had the “freedom experiment” work. This makes us a miraculous exception. Why would we ever shred the Constitution by accepting initiatives that disfigure our representative system?

The G.E.P.A. law states that “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

So the federal government is prohibited from creating tests or instructional materials– but the private groups NGA and CCSSO, funded by Gates, are not! This is why the federal Department of Education officially partnered with these unelected, private corporate interests –groups which are not accountable to G.E.P.A. laws, to teachers, principals, taxpayers, voters or children. (This may also explain why Arne Duncan goes to such great lengths to distinguish between standards and curriculum. Everybody knows that standards dictate curriculum like a frame dictates the height and width of a house. But GEPA law doesn’t use the word “standards.”)

We are in unrepresented dire straits: In no way do voters or teachers (or states themselves) control what is now set in the Common Core standards.

This is true in spite of the so often-repeated “the standards are state-led” marketing line. Don’t believe the marketing lines! So much money is money being spent on marketing Common Core because of Bill Gates. Gates sees this whole Common Core movement as a way to establish his (and Pearson’s) “uniform customer base.”

Watch Gates say these words in his speech if you haven’t already. This speech needs to be widely known, especially by school boards –so that we can boycott this monopoly on thought and on our precious taxpayer dollars.

Please don’t let people keep getting away with saying that the Common Core is free from federal controls, or that “we can add anything we want to it” and “there are no strings attached.” It simply isn’t true.

(How we wish that it was.)

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Utah Mom Alyson Williams: The Common Core Standards That We Aren’t Talking About   15 comments

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Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.

6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:

1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”

2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”

3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”

4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”

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THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?

We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.

Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.

At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.

This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)

Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.

Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.

The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.

Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core

There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.

As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.

No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.

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This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.

This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.

Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.

A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4

When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.

What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”

The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.

Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.

My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

We’re Upset, Mr. Duncan: Slammed Mothers Bite Back   3 comments

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan felt free to slam moms who stand against Common Core –yes, MOMS– during an official speech last week.

He lashed out against “white, suburban moms” who stand up against Common Core. The story was reported by Politico and was echoed by Fox News, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Manchester Union Leader, the New York Post, Washington Times, CNN and others.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Moms are biting back. Read what they are saying. From New York mom Ali Gordon to Virginia mom Gretchen Moran Laskas to the Utah moms like me, we are all kinds of mothers –there are tea partiers and there are also moms who call themselves “Progressive, bleeding heart liberals.” Mother bears all.

Duncan’s comment revealed an odd disrespect for white, suburban moms (I wonder what his wife thought of the comment) and it also revealed that Mr. Duncan believes the reason that the average American mother is opposed to Common Core is as simple as (excuse the Secretary of Education’s grammar, please) “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought.” Really, Mr. Duncan?

Mr. Duncan.

We’re upset because students and teachers are being subjected to unpiloted standards and privacy-invading tests that no parent nor teacher had a say in crafting –standards contrived by businessmen intent on making a buck off the “uniform customer base” that schools represent.

We’re upset, Mr. Duncan, that education without representation is being sold to us deceptively, and that children are being experimented upon. We’re upset, Mr. Duncan, that the standards themselves were rejected by top members of their own validation committee, but are being touted as excellent college prep –Even Common Core’s own architects have admitted that they prepare kids at best for a nonselective college, not a four year degree, and do not prepare students for STEM careers. (What was that you said about international competitiveness?)

We’re upset, too, that Department of Education officials label us, but they do not listen. Last summer, the Department gave speeches labeling us as “just” right-wing tea-partiers. Now your spokesman, Massie Ritsch, is saying: “The far right and far left have made up their minds, but there’s angst in the middle.” Really?

Mr. Duncan, moms are going to bite back; that’s what mother bears do.

It’s not because your Common Core is discovering faults in our children! We already know our children.

Common Core is an affront to children, to parents, to teachers, and is a robbery of legitimate, time-tested education. Mr. Duncan, we do not and will not hold back when it comes to our childrens’ education, their Constitutional right to privacy (no “unreasonable searches”) and to their teachers’ freedom to teach as THEY —not as bureaucrats and corporate talking heads and grant lures— see fit.

Count on it.

My, What Big Data Teeth you have, Grandmother: An Open Letter to Utah Legislators   7 comments

Dear Utah Legislator,

I’m writing to you as a mother to ask you to put a stop to the use of Utah’s school systems as snooping agents on our children.

Corporate and federal partnerships and Utah state data systems and interstate partnerships now watch and track our children without anyone having asked for parental consent to do so.

Some Utah leaders are working hard to fortify privacy rights, I know. But many powerful organizations, departments and corporations are working hard to ignore, dismiss, or stop any efforts to defend student privacy– all with great intentions but absolutely without authority.

The result is a data collecting and sharing network that represents loss of parental authority and loss of individual privacy.

In recent years, Utah built and is now using a federally structured and paid-for ($9.6 M) State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) from which no parent is permitted to opt their child out.

This lack of liberty should be a red flag.

But few Utahns know that their child is being tracked and very few know that they can’t opt out of that tracking.

Fewer still know that there’s a Utah Data Alliance (UDA) that links K-12 data, collected by schools, with higher ed., with the State workforce and other agencies.

Utah’s UDA has agreed to use the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) State Core Model –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

I am not saying that Utah agencies are sharing private data yet; I am saying that there’s nothing strong preventing them from doing so and that school systems are moving in the direction of more and more data commonality and disaggregation of student data. (see point 4 at that link.)

Countless entities have lined up with a “Data Quality Campaign” to make sure all their data points and technologies match, so that student information can be pooled.

Federal FERPA laws, previously protective of student data, have now been grossly loosened, and federal agencies including the NCES and the Department of Education, as well as White House events such as “Datapalooza” and White House Chiefs such as Joanne Weiss, are encouraging us to pool data, while (weakly) noting that student privacy is, of course, important. Yet proper protections are missing.

The Department of Education does a two-faced dance, asking for “robust data” and altering FERPA on the one hand, and insisting that they don’t even collect student data when speaking to the press. The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are, however, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.

The PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”

PESC states that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

I find this alarming. You might find it hard to believe that Utah is lined up with it.

So here is the evidence:

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) and other XML schemas.”

Here is the PESC State Core Model abstract.

“1.0 Abstract

The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…
The Model [can replace] 625 distinct Federal reporting types with record-level data collections.

… The Model is designed to address unique, complex P20 SLDS relationships, business rules, and entity factoring… It addresses student-teacher link, common assessment data model, and comes pre-loaded with Common Core learning standards.

The State Core Model consists of three principle artifacts… All three artifacts can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution from [the EIMAC group site].”

Data Baby

And, what is EIMAC? In case you hadn’t heard of EIMAC: it’s the branch of the CCSSO that “advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.” Yes, they said that out loud. They collect data at the national level without authority nor any representation.

But, but– (we say) –Aren’t we protected by GEPA law and by the Constitution from any sort of “accountability” to federal agencies in educational matters or privacy matters including “unreasonable searches”?

Not if our legislators don’t defend these rights.

According to the PESC document, on page 5, we are drowning in “federal accountability”. There are at least 625 federal reports mentioned at PESC. A few include: http://www.pesc.org/library/docs/Common%20Data%20Standards/State%20Core%20Model%2011-17.pdf

EDEN – EDFacts 79 file types
CRDC – Civil Rights Data Collection 2 parts
SFSF – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 33 indicators, 3 descriptors
MSRI – Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative
CSPR – Consolidated State Performance Reports 191 Indicators
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs 34 indicators
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
CCD – Common Core Data (fiscal) Financial data collected in survey format
SDFSCA – Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Data are collected in CSPR
M-V – McKinney-Vento Collected through CSPR.
Perkins – Perkins Act
RTTT – Race to the Top N/A
TIF – Teacher Incentive Fund 6 Sections
N or D Annual Report of Neglected and Delinquent (N or D) Children Collected through CSPR”

—————–

To clarify: the document that signed us up for PESC is the Utah application for the ARRA grant for a SLDS database. (This document resulted in Utah receiving $9.6 million from the federal government, none of which was used for actual education, but only to build the student database (SLDS).)

That SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and it says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA.

Who are these individuals? How many of them are there? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?

NON-COGNITIVE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA, TOO.

Starting at page 87, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.

These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”

The SSI inventory –your child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS) and there are plans to do this for earlier grades, but for now it’s for 11th and 12th graders. Demographic information is captured while administering the test and SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed needs to see it. (This is not a parental decision but a state decision.)

INTEGRATING STUDENT PSYCHOMETRIC CENSUS DATA INTO THE SLDS SYSTEM:

The SLDS grant also promises to integrate our psychological data into the SLDS (that database which the feds paid for/pushed on us.)

“Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data
Warehouse
the UDA. Both the USOE (K-12) and the Postsecondary Outcomes and Data Needs
sub-sections will address these needs.”

(My, what big data collection teeth you have, Grandmother!The better to integrate you with, my dear.)

Next, on page 87 of the same grant, Utah’s application for the ARRA money, it says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs.
… We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”

So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s how they’re gathering the psychological data.

But that’s not the only way psychological data is being taken in Utah schools. “Behavioral indicators” are also required to be collected by the Common Core tests, those math and English A.I.R. or SAGE tests, as Utah House Bill 15, aka the Common Core Computer Adaptive Testing Bill, demands.

What can we do?

markey images

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey has taken action. He articulated his concerns on this subject in a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan. Other legislators around the nation are writing bills to take protective action for student privacy.

I hope all Utah legislators read Senator Markey’s letter, peruse the PESC and ARRA (SLDS) grant documents, look into the SSI surveys, study the machinations of Secretary Arne Duncan,and then take action to put an end to the unreined and ever-growing network of entities which collude for profit and for other, various control-related reasons, to dismiss the vital right of student privacy.

This would mean ending the “partnerships” by Utah with: the CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign, the PESC State Model, the SLDS interoperability framework, the National Data Collection Model, the CEDS program of EIMAC; it would mean creating proper protections inside the Utah Data Alliance, and most of all, it would mean establishing permission from parents prior to any student SLDS surveillance.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey
Utah Mother

Senator Markey: Letter to Arne Duncan Questioning Student Data Collection Practices   7 comments

markey images

Democratic Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey has written a vital letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the loss of student privacy under new education reforms. The Senator asks the Secretary eight great questions. My favorite is question #2.a): “Should parents, not schools, have the right to control information about their children?”

Senator Markey’s full letter is posted below. Please share it with your senators and with your state superintendents, who may, by their connection to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and its partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, have sway in getting to real answers more quickly.

Markey letter on data

October 22, 2013

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

Dear Secretary Duncan:

The efficient collection, analysis and storage of K-12 students’ academic records holds promise for improving scholastic performance and closing the achievement gap. By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better
ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive infomation of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.

According to a recent article in The New York Times (“Decidir1g Who Sees Students’ Data”, October 5, 2013), a growing number of school districts are outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. This change, the companies assert, will “streamline access to students’ data to bolster the market for educational products”. While better analysis of student reading may, for example, help educators better target the appropriate reading materials to students, disclosure of such information, which mayr extend well beyond the specific private company hired by the school district to a constellation of other firms with which the district does not have a business relationship, raises concerns about the degree to which student privacy mayI be compromised.

Moreover, as the article cited above also explains, sensitive information such as students’ behavior and participation patterns also may be included in files outsourced to third-party data firms and potentially distributed more widely to additional companies without parental consent.

Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.

Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permit “schools to share student data, without notifying parents, with companies to which they have outsourced core functions like scheduling or data management,” according to the Times article. The infomation shared with private companies mayr vary from infomation such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other sensitive data such as disability, ­family relationships, and
disciplinary data.

In an effort to understand the Department’s views on the impact of increased collection and distribution of student data on their privacy, I respectfully request that the Department provide answers to the follow questions:

1) In 2008 and 2011, the Department issued new regulations with respect to FERPA that addressed how schools can outsource core functions such as scheduling or data management and how third parties may access confidential information about students. These changes also permit other government agencies that are not under the direct control of state educational authorities, such as state health departments, to access student infomation. Please explain those changes.

a. Why did the Department make these changes?

b. Did the Department perform any analysis regarding the impact of these changes on student privacy? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

2) Has the Department performed an assessment ofthe types of infomation that are shared by schools with third party vendors, including but not limited to Contact information, grades, disciplinary data, test scores, curriculum planning, attendance records, academic subjects, course levels, disabilities, family relationships, and reasons for enrollment? If yes, please provide it. If not, why not?

a. Should parents, not schools, have the right to control infomation about their children even when their data is in the hands of a private company?

b. Do you believe that parents should have the right to choose which infomation is shared by schools with third party vendors and which is kept confidential?

In other words, is it the Department’s view that some elements of personal data are more sensitive than others, and therefore deserve greater protections?

2) Has the Department issued federal standards or guidelines that detail what steps schools should take to protect the privacy of student records that are stored and used by private companies? For example, are there guidelines about access to the information, how long it can be retained, hcw it will be used, whether it will be shared with other parties (including but not limited to colleges to which students apply), and if it can be sold to others? lf yes, please provide those standards 0r guidelines. If not, why not and will the Department undertake the development and issuance of such guidelines?

4) Are there minimization requirements that require private companies to delete information that is not necessary to enhance educational quality for students?

5) Do students and their families continue to have the right to access their personal infomation held by private companies as they would if their personal information were held by educational institutions? If yes, please explain how students and families may exercise this right and how they should be informed of the existence of this right. If not, why not?

6) While there are significant potential benefits associated with better collection and analysis of student data, does the Department believe that there also are possible risks when students’ personal infomation is shared with such ñrms and third parties? If yes, what is the Department doing to mitigate these risks? If not, why not?

7) Does the Department require entities that access student data to have security measures in place, including encryption protocols or other measures, to prevent the loss of or acquisition of data that is transferred between schools and third parties? What security measures does the Department require that private companies have in place to safeguard the data once it is stored in their systems?

8) Does the Department monitor whether these third parties are safeguarding students’ personal infomation and abide by FERPA or guidelines released by the Department? If yes, please explain. If not, why not?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide written responses to these questions no later than November 12, 2013. If you have any questions, please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender on Senator Markey’s staff at 202-224-2742.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

———————————————

Thank you, Senator Markey.

Multiple States Deny Parents the Right to Opt a Child Out of SLDS Tracking   12 comments

Data Baby

I’ve previously displayed the letter that I received from my Utah State School Board, which told me that the answer was no to the question of whether a parent could opt a Utah child out of the State Longitudinal Database System.

And today I’m sharing another, very similar letter that was received by a parent in Florida, from the Florida Department of Education.

Red and Yellow Florida Letter

So, the “Bureau Chief” of the PK20 Florida Data Warehouse informed the Florida parent that he was “unable to identify opt out provisions to PK2O Education Data Warehouse.” That’s right: unable to identify an opt out provision.

Parents like me are unable to identify any constitutional provision whereby parents might be ethically overridden so that a federal-state partnership could then track personally identifiable information about our children without our parental consent in a federally promoted and funded State Longitudinal Database System!

Are other parents in all of the other states receving similar responses from SLDS or P-20 systems managers?


Is this not America?
Why can’t we opt our children out? This is unacceptable, not parentally authorized, government-assumed, long-term, nonacademic and academic, individual, family and career surveillance. Don’t believe it? Study what the 50 SLDS systems and the Data Quality Campaign and the Common Educational Data Standards do.

If there was a state left in America that didn’t now have an SLDS tracking system that followed kids –without parental consent from early childhood through workforce and beyond– I would want to move there.

But there isn’t one. Every single state fell for the stupid lure and built a federally-specified State Longitudinal Database System. At least, for now, we can still opt our children out of the Common Core testing.

But this is America. Why can’t we opt our kids out of being tracked by SLDS? Is it really impossible to impart reading, writing and arithmetic without long term student surveillance? Really?

SIX THINGS THE US DEPT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY   42 comments

The story of Common Core and data mining begins as most stories do, with a huge, unmet need.

Self-appointed “stakeholder” know-it-alls at the federal level (also at state, corporate, and even university levels) determined that they had the right, and the need, for open access to personal student data– more so than they already had.

They needed state school systems to voluntarily agree to common data core standards AND to common learning standards to make data comparisons easy. They didn’t care what the standards were, as teachers and parents and students do; they only cared that the standards would be the same across the nation.

So, without waiting around for a proper vote, they did it. The CEDS (Common Education Data Standards) were created by the same people who created and copyrighted Common Core: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). No surprise.

CEDS common elements

Because the federal “need” to control schools and data was and is illegal and unconstitutional –the federal government “needed” to do (and did) at least six sneaky things.

SIX SNEAKY THINGS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY:

1. Sneaky Thing Number One: It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This act created a virtual national database.

These SLDS’s had to be interoperable within states and outside states with a State Interoperability Framework. Utah, for example, accepted $9.6 million to create Utah’s SLDS. Think about it. All states have an SLDS, and they are built to be interoperable. How is this not a de facto national database?

2. Sneaky Thing Number Two: It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”.

So now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit against the Department of Education by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC).

The Department of Ed also altered FERPA’s definitions of terms, including what would be defined as “personally identifiable information”.

Biometric Definition FEDERAL

So personally identifiable, shareable information now includes biometric information, (which is behavioral and biological information) collected via testing, palm scanning or iris scanning, or any other means. Schools have not been told that the information they submit to the state SLDS systems are vulnerable to federal and corporate perusal. Legislators write bills that call for the testing of behavioral indicators– but have they considered how this can damage a student’s lifelong need for, and right to, privacy?

The Department of Education openly promotes schools collecting data about students’ personalities and beliefs in the report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.” This document promotes the use of facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors and other measures of students’ beliefs and emotions. See page 44.

3. Sneaky Thing Number Three: The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

The CCSSO, or “Superintendents’ Club” as I like to call it, is a private group with no accountability to voters. This makes it in-valid and un-American, as far as governance goes. The CCSSO has a stated mission: to disaggregate student data. Disaggregate means to take away anonymity.

CCSSO disaggregation

The CCSSO states that it has a mission to collect data nationally in partnership with the US Dept of Ed: “The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.

The CCSSO site states that its data collection effort is a USDOE partnership: “The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United Staes Department of Education.”

(Do you recall voting for this arrangement, anyone? Anyone? –Me neither! )

4. Sneaky Thing Number Four: It used private-public partnerships to promote data linking among agencies. The Data Quality Campaign is one example. The National Data Collection Model is another example. The Common Educational Data Standards is another example.

What do these “models” really model?

Example one: from the Data Quality Campaign: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the Federal-to-CCSSO partnership. So nothing will be kept from any governmental agency; nothing is to be sacred or private if it is known by an SLDS serving entity (any state-funded, state-accountable school).

Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

Proponents point out that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; not yet. But it’s a federally partnered data model and many states are following it.

5. Sneaky Thing Number Five: The Department of Ed created grants for Common Core testing and then mandated that those testing groups synchronize their tests, report fully and often to the U.S. Department of Education, share student-level data, and produce “all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department”.

So federally funded Common Core tests require Common data interoperability standards.

Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.

But, do you think this “Agreement” information does not apply to you because your state dropped its SBAC or PARCC membership –as several states have? Think again. There is an incestuous, horrific pool of private and public organizations, all of which are VOLUNTARILY agreeing to Common Core based, technological interoperability and data collection standards!

The Data Quality Campaign lists as its partners dozens of groups– not only the CCSSO and NGA (Common Core creators), not only the College Board –which is now run by the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman; –not only Achieve, Inc., the group that contracted with CCSSO/NGO to write the Common Core, but even the School Interoperability Framework Association, the Pell Institute (Pell Grants), Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, American Institutes for Research (Utah’s Common Core testing provider) and many other Common Core product-providing organizations.

So virtually everyone’s doing data the same way whether they’re privately or publically funded. This should freak anybody out. It really should. We the People, individuals, are losing personal power to these public-private partnerships that cannot be un-elected and that are not subject to the transparency laws of elected offices.

6. Sneaky Thing Number Six: The Department of Education directly lied to the American Society of News Editors. In a June 2013 speech given to the American Society of News Editors, Secretary Duncan mocked the concerns of parents and educators who are fighting Common Core and its related student data mining:

A new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important… They make.. outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

Despite what the state school board and the federal Department of Education claim, corporations do know that Common Core and student data mining are interdependent.

CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at a recent White House event called “Datapalooza.” He said (see his speech on this video, at about minute 9:15) that Common Core “is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.

And President Obama himself has called his educational and data related reforms so huge that they are cradle to career” -affecting reforms. Secretary Duncan now refers to the reforms not as “K-12″ but as “p-12″ meaning preschool/prenatal. These reforms affect the most vulnerable, but not in a positive way, and certainly not with voters’ knowledge and consent.

The sneakiness and the privacy invasion isn’t just a federal wrong; there’s state-level invasion of local control, too: to be specific, our state’s robbing parents of the right to fully govern their own children.

When I asked my state school board how to opt out of having my children tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System, I was told that the answer was no. There was no way to opt out, they said: all children registered in any state school system (charters, online schools, homeschool-state hybrid programs) are tracked by the SLDS. Here’s that letter.

The Answer is No

Despite Constitutional and G.E.P.A.-law prohibitions, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that “The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more”. Duncan also said, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.” (Yes, it’s been so quiet that the people governed by it weren’t asked about this revolution.)

Yet, federal speeches, and scholarly research conferences and corporate marketers now openly push for common standards and common data systems. From the official White House website to federal educational grant applications to federally partnered corporate sites, to Secretary Duncan’s speeches, there are countless examples to show that the priorities of the federal government are these four things: 1) standards 2) staff 3) “robust” national data systems 4) labeling certain schools as low-achieving.

And the data product sales companies couldn’t agree more.

Common Core proponents insist that Common Core has nothing to do with data mining. But the federal government always bundles the common standards and the data systems, always. This federal push for common data standards and common education standards ought to be household knowledge. That is step number one, seeing the federal patterns and federal pushes for what they are.

EDFACTS

So, what difference does it make? I hear people say that since they have nothing to hide, they’re unconcerned about who’s tracking their children or their families without consent.

I say our founding fathers didn’t write the Constitution without inspiration.

The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

How easy will it be for those with access to the national databases to label a person as behaviorally unstable and therefore, unworthy of passing a background check for a job or for a gun purchase? How easy will it be for those with access to the databases to search and seize anything at all that they deem inappropriate, that they deem threatening, that they deem theirs?

Privacy is not properly protected by our state school systems and those who ought to know this, don’t. It’s not their fault; the truth has been carefully, quietly hidden. But widespread knowledge of the facts can –and must-- alter these facts.

Please share.

———————————————————-

Postscript: About Control

State school boards tell citizens to give them feedback on the Common Core Standards, and not to discuss anything else related to Common Core or its governance structures.

But citizens have the right to determine what will be discussed; this is America. And any discussion of the standards themselves can only be very temporarily relevant.

Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?

Because two private D.C. trade groups, the NGA (Governors’ club) and the CCSSO (Superintendents’ club) own the standards and have copyrighted them. They alone control the standards. The states do not; nor do the voters in the states.

Inside the state: We can alter the standards only by 15%, according to federal mandates and the writings of the private trade groups that created the standards.

Outside the state: We have no voice in future alterations to the standards. There is no written amendment process outlined for states to have a voice in “their” standards. There is no representative process. That’s why Common Core is unAmerican.

This is why we call Common Core education without representation. It is also accurate to call the education reform package citizen surveillance without warrant, as detailed above.

—————-

For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:

Parents Launch Executive Order to Stop Common Core and to Stop Student Data Mining   27 comments

This week, a group of Florida parents, supported by parents and educators nationwide, released an executive order, demanding an end to Common Core and the parentally unauthorized student data mining that’s taking place in every state.

As parents, we claim the privilege of directing our childrens’ educations, free from SLDS (state longitudinal database tracking systems), free from Common Core-aligned testing, standards, or “model” curriculum; free from private trade group EIMAC/CCSSO data collection, free from federal micromanagement, free from federal “accountability”; free from the both student and teacher data mining and tracking that is offensive to individual liberty and to Constitutional, local control.

As parents and teachers, we claim the privilege outlined in the Declaration of Independence that government is by consent of the governed. We, the governed, have not been asked nor have we approved these unvetted standards and systems. Therefore, any governance of children or school staff under the Common Core agenda is simply invalid.

Why: The promises of the promoters of the Common Core Standards do not add up. The evidence is overwhelming, and increases daily, that the Common Core agenda damages where it claims to serve; yet those who push back against the Common Core agenda are disrespected by school boards and in hearings around the nation. This is outrageous. We are the children’s parents; children are not the government’s human capital” despite what the Department of Education repeatedly claims.

Along with the executive order, parents have issued a longer, referenced document that explains the reasoning behind the executive order. This document is entitled “Welcome to the Common Core Fuzzy Math: Common Core Equals Conditions Plus Coercion Plus Conflict of Interest.”

Suzette Executive Order CC

Please pass this message along.

Here is a partial list of all the parent-educator groups working to fight the federal-and-corporate partnered machine of Common Core.

■Alabama: http://www.facebook.com/al.againstcommoncorestandards?fref=ts
■Alabama: https://www.facebook.com/AlabamiansUnitedForExcellenceInEducation?fref=ts
■Alaska: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreAK
■Arizona: https://www.facebook.com/groups/533815266661341/?fref=ts
■Arizona: https://www.facebook.com/groups/178924678928084/
■Arkansas: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ARKANSASAGAINSTCOMMONCORE/
■Arkansas: https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasAgainstCommonCore?fref=ts
■California: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-California/436128033134967?fref=ts
■California: https://www.facebook.com/groups/239664519505257/
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-and-Educators-Against-Common-Core-Curriculum-in-Colorado/369263259855000
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com Mesa County Citizins/Businesses Against Common Core Curriculum & Colorado Parents Against Common Core
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parent-LED-reform/183654775048900?fref=ts
■Conneticut: https://www.facebook.com/TheCommitteeToCombatCommonCoreCurriculumInCT?fref=ts
■Conneticut: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreinCT
■Delaware: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delaware-Against-Common-Core/141637639346274?ref=ts&fref=ts
■Delaware: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157115501116902/
■Florida: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Florida/516780045031362
■Florida (Central): https://www.facebook.com/groups/CentralFPACC/?fref=ts
■Georgia: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInGeorgia?fref=ts
■Georgia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/505453512861887/
■Idaho: https://www.facebook.com/IdahoansAgainstCommonCore?fref=ts
■Idaho: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Idahoans-for-Local-Education/120194641494340?fref=ts
■Illinois: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Illinois/388021897963618
■Indiana: http://www.facebook.com/HoosierMomsSayNoToCommonCore?fref=ts
■Indiana: https://www.facebook.com/HoosiersAgainstCommonCore?fref=ts
■Iowa: https://www.facebook.com/IowansforLocalControl
■Kansas: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kansans-Against-Common-Core/166572220165485?fref=pb
■Kentucky: https://www.facebook.com/KentuckiansAgainstCommonCoreStandards
■Louisiana: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreLa andhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Louisiana/325178490918603?fref=ts
■Maine: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopCCMaine/?fref=ts
■Maryland: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopCCSSinMaryland/
■Michigan: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Michigan/303312003109291?fref=ts
■Minnesota: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MinnesotansAgainstCommonCoreStandardsinEducationCG/
■Mississippi: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInMississippi
■Missouri: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Missouri-Against-Common-Core/115085478685281?fref=ts
■Missouri: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Missouri-Education-Watchdog/107272389320928
■Missouri: https://www.facebook.com/groups/missouriagainstcommoncore/
■Montana: https://www.facebook.com/groups/475298309202714/
■Nebraska: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nebraskafamilypolicyforum/
■Nevada: https://www.facebook.com/groups/183062228539486/184305295081846/?notif_t=group_activity
■New Hampshire:https://www.facebook.com/NHSchoolChoice; https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNH?ref=hl; https://www.facebook.com/CornerstonePolicyResearch?ref=hl
■New Hampshire: http://nhfamiliesforeducation.org/;https://www.facebook.com/groups/nhfamiliesforeducation
■New Mexico: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNewMexico
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CURE-NJ/274974855970782
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220888071386355
■New Jersey: http://www.facebook.com/groups/363967600385017/
■New York: https://www.facebook.com/groups/607166125977337/
■New York (State Island specifically): http://www.facebook.com/groups/638305829518125/
■New York (Long Island specifically): https://www.facebook.com/groups/141680156005331/
■North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-NC/150345585132550?fref=ts
■North Dakota: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-North-Dakota/431076243650481
■ Ohio: ohioansagainstcommoncore.com
■Ohio: http://www.facebook.com/OhioCommonCore
■Ohio: https://www.facebook.com/groups/415835035179973/
■Ohio: https://www.facebook.com/groups/516040641778582/?bookmark_t=group
■Oklahoma: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Restore-Oklahoma-Public-Education/116011401766695
■Oregon: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Oregon/310461619079878
■Pennsylvania: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pennsylvanians-Against-Common-Core/566916409995216
■Rhode Island: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=542616145789229&_mn_=11&refid=7&_ft_=qid.5865817560745279255%3Amf_story_key.-1168715708737317007
■Rhode Island: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-common-core-in-Rhode-Island/542616145789229?ref=ts&fref=ts
■South Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInSouthCarolina?ref=stream
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/SouthDakotansAgainstCommonCore
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/groups/stop.common.core.in.south.dakota/
■Tennessee: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Tennessee/322248557894269?fref=ts
■Texas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157776591054666/
■Utah: http://www.facebook.com/UtahnsAgainstCommonCore
■Virginia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/134077993445892/
■Washington State Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/WAstateAgainstCommonCore/?fref=ts
■Washington State Page: http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
■West Virginia: https://www.facebook.com/pages/WV-Against-Common-Core/359684890815537
■Wisconsin: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Wisconsin/185213384959404?ref=ts&fref=ts
■Wyoming: https://www.facebook.com/groups/434220420005865/
■Special Education Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249171258560458/249174031893514/?comment_id=249175028560081&notif_t=group_comment

Video: Vacaville, CA Hosts Pro and Con Common Core Forum   2 comments

A few weeks ago, Vacaville, California hosted a pro- and con- Common Core Forum.

Speakers include Bill Evers, of Hoover Institute, Stanford University; Wendy Hart, of Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah; Daly Gordon Koch, 4th grade teacher; Jeannette LaFors, former teacher and education analyst.

Pro Common Core:

Daly Jordan Koch, California Teachers Association teachers union
Jeannette LaFors, Education West-West
======
Con Common Core:

Bill Evers, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Wendy Hart, parent, Highland, Utah

Opening statements begin at minute 11:30, followed by a round table discussion, questions and responses among panelists; and questions and answers with audience members.

Common Core Eerily Like Challenger Launch   2 comments

In January 1986 I was a high school student in Orlando, watching out the window as the Challenger Space Shuttle launched about fifty miles away. Christa MacAuliffe, the first teacher in space, was being launched with a seven member crew.

shuttle challenger

Then we all saw the explosion in the sky.

The plumes represented total failure and the deaths of seven people. Christa MacAuliffe perished along with every one of the seven members of the Challenger crew– a horrible, history-scarring launch. But.

What wasn’t widely known until years later was that the Challenger disaster had been avoidable.

Avoidable!

Top engineers had alterted NASA not to launch. Memos had been circulated. Calls had been made but ignored. Groupthink had taken over.

help memo challenger

NASA chose to ignore legitimate concerns –under financial and cultural pressures. That decision to ignore proved disasterous to the entire country.

Today, launch-executives of Common Core (including School Boards/PTA/NGA/CCSSO/Bill Gates’-funded thinktanks) are choosing to ignore concerns because of financial pressure. This will prove disasterous to the children and teachers now being launched into Common Core.

The morning of the Challenger’s launch, Florida temperatures were very cold.

ice and challenger launch pad

As NASA has documented:

NASA remembered that the builder of the shuttle, Morton-Thiokol, had been concerned about low temperature launches and made a call to the Utah headquarters.

“A manager came by my room and asked me if I was concerned about an 18 degree launch,” recalled Morton Thiokol engineer Bob Ebeling. “I said ‘What?’ – because we’re only qualified to 40 degrees. I said, ‘What business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we’re in no man’s land.’”

The O-rings had never been tested below freezing.

The Senior Representative for Morton Thiokol, at the Kennedy Space Center, Alan McDonald, refused to sign off that the project was ready and safe; he said temperatures were too cold to safely use the booster motors Morton Thiokol had built.

But his supervisors in Utah OVERRULED HIM and faxed a signature to NASA indicating that the company approved the launch anyway. (Doesn’t this remind you of the way the state school boards are overruling concerned, local superintendents, teachers, parents and administrators?)

It wasn’t just the temperatures on that day that were a problem. It wasn’t just the fact that they hadn’t tested the O-rings at these temperatures. Problems had been percolating all along. Months earlier, in October 1985, engineer Bob Ebeling had sent out a memo with the subject heading, “HELP!”

The purpose of Ebeling’s memo was to draw attention to dangerous structural errors in engineering. Roger Boijoly, yet another Morton Thiokol Engineer, validated Ebeling and McDonald, saying that the management’s style, the atmosphere at Morton Thiokol, dis-allowed dissent. (Doesn’t this description remind you of the atmosphere of the State Office of Education which treats dissenting voices on Common Core as “misinformed” and insubordinate?)

Boijoly testified that “Many opportunities were available to structure the work force for corrective action, but the Morton Thiokol management style would not let anything compete or interfere with the production and shipping of boosters. The result was a program which gave the appearance of being controlled while actually collapsing from within due to excessive technical and manufacturing problems as time increased.”

Why were these whistleblowers ignored? This question lingers. Many university courses use the Challenger disaster as a case study in the dangers of groupthink and the importance of listening to dissenting voices –even when listening means risking great financial and cultural pressures.

(See samples of university case studies of the Challenger ethics/groupthink disaster here and here.)

Today, the Florida Department of Education uses this image on its website, calling it “Countdown to Common Core.” It is eerie but it’s real.

Eerie logo or not, most states in the US are launching these un-vetted, un-tested, un-piloted, un-constitutionally governed Common Core standards. And whistleblowers who testify that this launch must be stopped, are being marginalized and scorned, rather than being heard.

florida countdown common core launch logo

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Here are five parallels between the launch of Common Core and the launch of the 1986 Challenger.

1. In both cases, teachers were placed in harm’s way yet they nobly and confidently took on the high-risk role.

2. In both cases, there was a lack of pilot testing and a lack of proper study of the structure of the thing that was to be launched.

See Professor Christopher Tienken’s condemnation of the launching of Common Core without pilot testing in his research paper, here. See the side-by-side studies of pre and post Common Core academic standards, commissioned by Senator William Ligon of Georgia, here. See Pioneer Institute’s white paper on the rapid, unvetted implementation of Common Core across the nation, here.

3. In both cases, leading experts risked reputation and careers to be whistleblowers, to stop the doomed launches.</strong>

See expert educators’ testimonies here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

4. In both cases, whistleblowers were marginalized and leadership forged ahead, heedlessly.

See how the U.S. Secretary of Education and his corporate allies and pseudo-governmental allies deride the increasing number of dissenting voices.

5. <strong>In both cases, there was no escape hatch provided for those who chose to be onboard.

In the case of the Challenger shuttle, evidence suggests that some if not all of the people on board were alive during part or all of the descent of the cabin after it detached from the rest of the shuttle. It took over 2 minutes for the cabin to crash into the Atlantic. Might lives have been saved if there had been an escape system?

Launch escape systems had been considered several times during shuttle development, but NASA’s conclusion was that the shuttle’s expected high reliability would PRECLUDE THE NEED for one.

In the case of the Common Core launch, again, high expectations for reliability have apparently precluded the need for an escape hatch. While states may technically drop out of the Common Core initiative at any time, it becomes about as realistic to do so as it was for Hansel and Gretel being able to find their trail of crumbs in the woods that might have led them to freedom; with each passing day, that likelihood diminishes.

States are investing hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions nationwide to create technological infrastructures, teacher trainings, textbook repurchasings, and public advocacy programs to implement Common Core. They are not likely to pull out.

States staying in do try to make these standards feel locally owned, by changing the name from “Common Core” to “Utah Core” or “California Core,” or by adding some of the federally permitted 15% to the Common Core.

But the nationally aligned tests will never take any 15% into account. (How could they? Differing would mean states’ standards were no longer “common.” And then comparisons from state to state would not be useful to the data hungry corporations and governmental “stakeholders” who crave that student testing data)

And if states were to try to get together and actually significantly alter and improve the commonly held standards, GOOD LUCK.

The Common Core State Standards are under private copyright and there’s no amendment process offered outside of that private club which claims to be the “sole developers and owners” of the standards.

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Anybody see see an actual, functioning escape hatch for Common Core?

What happens if we decide, down the line, that we don’t like how things are going? How can we regain that control, that copyright, that states-owned amendability of state standards, and that privacy (pre-S.L.D.S?)

I don’t see proper testing or vetting in the history of these standards. Do you?

I don’t see proper discussion of whistleblowers’ concerns. Do you?

I don’t see proponents caring at all for the well-being of the children and teachers being launched without their consent on this thing. Proponents are driven by money and by indebtedness to funders and by the desire for greater power over our children and over all people.

It is time to stop the Common Core launch.

And if we can’t stop this launch– if our leaders choose to ignore all reason and ignore the voices of those who not only have elected them, but who are the first authorities over the children– then it is time to take action and pull our children off the machine.

shuttle challenger

Press Release: Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core   3 comments

This press release was issued last month by Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core, a group of parents dedicated to educating citizens about, and reversing the adoption of, the Common Core in Catholic schools across the country.

(Below the press release, see the video-statement about why Catholic K-12 private schools are moving to Common Core, by Sister Dale McDonald, Director of NCLA Public Policy.)

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: pittsburghcacc@gmail.com
http://www.pghcatholicsagainstcommoncore.com

National Catholic Educational Association promoting controversial Common Core Standards across the country

Pittsburgh, PA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the largest private professional education organization in the world (according to their website), had its first national conference on June 30, 2013 in Nashville, TN in support of the very controversial Common Core State Standards. It has hosted a total of three conferences in major cities this summer, called “The Cure for the Common Core Conference” in addition to a convention this past spring that presented everything Common Core and “21st Century” education models.

Common Core is being hotly debated right now. Citizens and legislators in cities and states nationwide have sounded the alarm about Common Core and have decried its content and inferior standards. And yet – the NCEA is forging ahead in building and promoting a vast network of resources for Catholic schools centered on Common Core
instruction and content. Sadly, over 100 Diocese across the country have succumbed to the secular influence of the Common Core proponents.

The NCEA is actively promoting and marketing these nationalized one-size fits all standards by providing teaching materials to Catholic Educators all over the country. They have helped create a Catholic version of Common Core, called the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII) that is stated to 1) empower Catholic schools and dioceses to design and direct the implementation of the Common Core standards within the culture and context of a Catholic school curriculum and 2) infuse the Common Core standards with the faith/principles/values/social justice themes inherent in the mission and Catholic identity of the school.

We are hearing from some Dioceses that they are using the Common Core Standards as a “minimum” benchmark for students, because Catholic standards are already so high. One wonders why they are needed if Catholic schools already have such a strong tradition and history of success with their existing standards. It is confounding to think that a minimum is even required when student performance can be, and always has been, measured
against the higher standard. The Common Core proponents tell us that the Common Core standards are more rigorous and require higher order thinking skills. With this, why would they be considered “minimum” standards by Catholic school leaders? This makes no sense.

We are also hearing from our sources in several cities that parents simply cannot get answers from their Diocesan school leaders about how it will be implemented. What parts of Common Core have been approved? What tests will be used? How will technology be used? Is the Diocese using CCCII? Parents are being left in the dark about these major shifts in how their children will be taught and how they will be expected to learn.

This has led us to believe that Diocesan leaders are either very uninformed on this significant shift in Catholic education and are merely reiterating what they were sold, or they are purposefully being elusive.

Under the direction of Dr. Lorraine Ozar, from Loyola University Chicago, and Sr. Dale McDonald, Director of Public Policy for the NCEA, the CCCII has created a massive amount of materials and detailed teaching guidelines, even showing the controversial behavioral psychology methods and philosophies that it is based on (Bloom’s taxonomy, Understanding by Design, Backward Design, Outcome Based Education, digital learning), weeks of unit content by grade and theme – including book lists for 1st grade that contain books referencing same-sex marriage, website links and books promoting social activism, questioning of parental authority and secular ideas such as building a Facebook page to make friends.

The NCEA has declared in a statement on their website that it does not “endorse” the Common Core State Standards. Yet it has fully embraced them; they were a “Launch supporter” of CCCII, according to the CCCII website. Its conferences allowed them to aggressively market this “Catholic” version of Common Core.

According to Dr. Lorraine Ozar in a July 2012 presentation, “Catholic schools need to pay attention to the fact that the common core standards are here and it is important to get on board”. And Sr. Dale McDonald said in an April 2012 video, “even though these are called ‘secular’ standards, there are ways in which we can make them personal to the Catholic School”.

Why do Catholic schools “need to get on board”? Are they worried about accreditation? Will they lose funding from the government in some way? Are they fearful of losing their alliances with Public-private organizations and partnerships?

Why are they embracing such an insidious agenda that is so diametrically opposed to the Catholic
faith?

Dioceses are being pushed and swooned in this direction and then guided by the NCEA, when really they should be seizing this opportunity to proclaim the accolades of a traditional Catholic classical education. We could see a true renaissance in Catholic education if school leaders chose to lead and purposefully distinguish themselves from public schools. But if Common Core is implemented in Catholic Schools, will it be worth the sacrifice that families are making to send their children to them? There are so many questions that have gone unanswered.

And we keep asking – why?

Catholic schools surely do not “need to get on board”. There is always a choice. And as this moves forward, many more Catholic parents will be asking the same questions and wanting to take their Catholic schools back.

Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core is a group of Catholic parents who are dedicated to educating citizens on the dangers of Common Core in Catholic schools and reversing the adoption of these standards in Catholic schools across the country.
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Florida Mother of Six Fights “The Machine” of Jeb Bush and Bill Gates, FLA Legislature   5 comments

“All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them – Debbie Higginbotham, Florida mother

jeb bush

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debbie h

FLORIDA’S FIGHT FOR EDUCATION: FREEDOM FROM “THE MACHINE”

By Debbie Higginbotham

In every state across this great nation, parents, grandparents, and great Americans are speaking out loudly against Common Core and the Race to The Top Agreement (RTTT). And they should!

Each state has their grassroots groups and coalitions marching to their state capitols demanding answers on why their children have been sold to the Federal Government.

When I started this personal crusade to save my children’s educational freedoms about a year ago, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. I am just a mom who is enjoying raising six beautiful children with no political aspirations nor experience in debating these political cronies.

Every state has their mountains to climb when fighting CC and ridding their state of these horrible standards and mandates all enclosed with the RTTT. Here in Florida most of our battles are the same, but we are fighting a white elephant in the room as well. That white elephant is Jeb Bush and his foundations and other groups he has “founded” that are promoting “higher standards”.

Many refer to Jeb Bush and his cronies as “The Machine”.

When originally talking with school board members and legislators– and being told that Common Core was here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it, I knew something was not right with this whole thing.

Some legislators were giving me the smile and wink –and I thought I was making progress.

It was pleasing to know, at the time, that my elected officials were taking my complaints to heart because this was going to affect their children as well.

I quickly started doing more research and that old saying of “follow the money trail” came to light so true and it wasn’t just looking into Bill Gates anymore, but looking into Jeb Bush and his involvement with Gates and his continuing efforts to alter Florida’s education system for his own political gain and a bid for the White House.

Those winks and nods were just that, empty promises.

The more I was learning, it soon disgusted me. How can a man with no elected accountability from voters have such an influence on my children’s education?

Everywhere I turned I was hitting the same roadblocks and that was “The Machine”. It wasn’t only Jeb Bush but I came to find out through more digging that Jeb Bush has pretty much bought and paid for almost all of the Republican legislators in office right now, including Governor Rick Scott. Even Lobbyists have a loyalty to him.

Jim Horne is the prominent one.

Back in August, Rick Scott called for an education summit to make it look like he was making an effort of hearing all sides of the education issues. He never showed up at the summit he’d called for, but then decided to further his political career and make decisions about Florida’s children over a bottle of an alcoholic beverage and dinner
on a Thursday evening with “The Machine” and its allies, Chair of the State Board of Education Gary Chartrand, and Republican Rep John Thrasher.

Most recently, Governor Rick Scott issued an Executive Order to withdraw from PARCC and resign from being the lead state. http://www.fldoe.org/news/2013/2013_09_23-2.asp?style=print

He also stated he would hold three district hearings to give parents and experts opportunities to voice their concerns on specific standards within Common Core. Great move on the Governor’s part, but the response from all of us was that this is just smoke and mirrors. Scott was only trying to pacify us, the parents, while still keeping “The Machine” happy.

When will this man stand on his own two feet? Even more disturbing is in the last few days our Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has come out and said that even though the hearings will be held, it will not change any outcome continuing with the implementation of Common Core.

REALLY! That just goes to prove it is all smoke and mirrors.

Everywhere we turn this white elephant shows up uninvited! There are little worker bees “The Machine” spreads throughout the state to try and shut us down. They make it their life each day to seek out moms like me and try to prove that we are misinformed about Common Core and how Florida needs higher standards and accountability from our children and teachers.

ACCOUNTABILITY!? Who is holding “The Machine” accountable?

Who is holding the NGA and CCSSO accountable? Let’s not forget ACHIEVE!

All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them and what they believe to be best for my children. They have nothing better to do than come after moms and dads like me and call us misinformed! Only my husband and I, the true authorities, know what is best for our children.

“The Machine” has even promoted radio ads to be played boasting the standards on how they will give our children higher learning. The group “Conservatives For Higher Standards” was also involved with making and promoting the ad. We know those two have close ties to each other. The ad also touts making getting into college a fair playing field, no rote memorization, helping kids learn more, and states can opt in or our of the standards along with the lie that there are no DC mandates.

We are working on a counter ad to make sure our voices are right with theirs, and we are not backing down.

We are going to call their lies out.

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debbie higginbotham

Debbie Higginbotham is a mighty but tiny, very adorable, very-pregnant-with-her-seventh-child, mother and fredom fighter, who currently homeschools all but her oldest child.

She can be reached via Florida Parents Against Common Core. (www.flparentsagainstcommoncore.com)

Thank you, Debbie.

The Indomitable Jenni White of Oklahoma   6 comments

jenni white

Jenni White, cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.) is a remarkable mother of five who writes research papers on ed reform with her children at the kitchen table, runs the organization of R.O.P.E., writes a lively education reform blog, creates videos, and also finds time to go (or sends a friend) to monitor each public meeting of the state department of education. Jenni’s videos, essays, memes, and white paper research are exceptional.

supermom

She’s very smart, and she’s very, very funny!

Attending the state meetings allowed Jenni/R.O.P.E. to discover (and share) that Oklahoma (like all 50 states) tracks students in a State Longitudinal Database. Attending meetings is also how Jenni and R.O.P.E. realized that Common Core was a network of corporate collusion that uses taxpayers and schools for their gigantic, uniform market base. Reading countless government documents and contracts added to the knowledge base, and now, R.O.P.E.’s website teaches the general population of Oklahoma vital, little-known facts about state and federal education reforms that are hurting children, teachers and taxpayers.

Einstein says

She puts a lot of fun into the dysfunction of education reform, with blogposts like “What Would Einstein Think of Common Core?” or “Critical Thinking and the Common Core – Snake Oil Salesmanship At Its Best!” or “The Dirty Little Secret of Common Core” or “Jeb Bush’s Common Core Valentine.”

She has given permission to repost her writing. Here’s a favorite:
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WHAT WOULD EINSTEIN THINK OF COMMON CORE?

I commented on an article today regarding Michigan’s attempts to shake free from the Common Core. Many of the comments came from sadly misinformed individuals who seem to believe that “common” is good and anything to which a large number of others subscribe must amount to some kind of awe-inspiring notion, spawning my concern that none apparently had mothers like mine, who constantly queried, “If Mary was going to jump off a bridge, would you?”

One man began his comment with this, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

This thought captured my imagination thoroughly. I have been blessed to know a man named Dr. Everett Piper, the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I love to hear him discuss the horrors of Common Core from a philosophical perspective, not only because he is such an excellent orator, but because people tend to forget the philosophical point of view – the notion that ideas shape the human condition and ideas reduced to commonalities do not advance the human condition.

The best opponents of Common Core predicate their arguments on fact – in stark opposition to proponents who tend to use half-truths and lies upon which to base their case – but the philosophy behind our Common Core concerns are palpable and real and I believe we need to advance these arguments at least as often as we tout our facts.

In this thought, I penned the following response:

The Common Core State Standards were written by several individuals – without education degrees I might add – who then, knowing national standards are against federal law, sent them out through a private organization – Achieve – to the nation’s governors and superintendents with the promise of federal money waiting in the wings – 500 BILLION dollars through Race to the Top – if they adopted them for their state sight unseen. It happened here in Oklahoma exactly as it happened in Michigan and all other adopting states.

Granted, the term “Common” was used to mean ubiquitous, however, another meaning for “Common” is the OPPOSITE of “individual”, which begs the question: How in the world can America continue to be seen as the most innovative country in the world when states fully intend to collaboratively adopt standards to “commonize” all students across all states?

How do you INCREASE student knowledge levels by pulling successful students down to the level of the ‘common’?

Are there really that many low performing students in every school in every state in the nation that we need to stop everything to bring them up to the ‘common’ level of each class?

Do we bring down 25 kids for 1 kid or even 6 kids in a class?

If so, then what are we doing to the other 21?

The simple, straightforward answer is that we’re dumbing them down – there is no other characterization possible – and we can’t scream “civil rights” for those at the bottom without inquiring about the “civil rights” of the individuals in the majority being pulled down.

For those of you in the Chamber of Commerce sect, how do you convince a company to come to Michigan when your students will be taught in a thoroughly homogenous way, forcing out uniqueness, drive and imagination – the very qualities necessary to produce the Einstein’s and Edison’s of this world?

How well do you think Einstein would fair with the Common Core?

Do you think we would have had a Theory of Relativity with the Common Core…well silly question…of course we would – the Common Core is nothing if not ‘relative’ among every state and every child.

Common Core is what it is – nonsense dreamed up by well-connected philanthropists (Carnegie, Broad, etc) and innovator/billionaires such as Bill Gates, with a dollar to be made in the education “industry”.

I hope no one escapes the irony imbued in the fact that these people who worked and scrapped and sacrificed to make their dreams reality – who reached the pinnacle of success by truly innovating in America – suddenly seem to forget that the great thing about America – the thing that gave them the ability to get to the top – was the variety inherent in every aspect of the American condition – the FREEDOM to receive the best education one could seek out from the very variety contained within.


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Thank you, Jenni White.

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.

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:


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

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.

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.

———————————————————————————–

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

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:

———————————————————————————————————————————————

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.

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.”

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.

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

Huffington Post Audits the Gates-Led –not State-led– Common Core   2 comments

Yesterday the Huffington Post published “A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending.” I learned from this article.

I already knew that Bill Gates spends billions implementing his personal version of education reforms –without any approval from American voters, without any authority other than his cash.

I already knew that Gates had singlehandedly paid for the development, creation and marketing of Common Core, which the Post noted, “demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions.” (The only part of Common Core that the federal government funds is common testing and interoperable longitudinal database set-up.)

I already knew that those promoting CCSS are deliberately misleading the public to believe that Common Core is ‘state-led’ when it is in fact “Gates-led.”

I already knew that with the help of Gates’ funding and connections, “strong state-federal partnerships” were colluding to accomplish the actually illegal goal of creating national education standards.

But I didn’t know, before reading the article, the extent to which Gates was involved in Common Core’s twin sister, the personal student data collection racket.

The article pointed out:

Gates gave $47.1 million to CCSSO …with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions“:

… Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:

… [Gates' stated] Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability

… Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standards Amount: $3,185,750 …” (The list, when you read the whole article, is much longer.)

Also, I did not previously know that the company that Common Core lead creator David Coleman (a noneducator) started in 2007, Student Achievement Partners, has no work other than CCSS. They live and breathe to push Common Core on all of us.

David Coleman first created the SAP company. Then he led the creation of the Common Core standards, on which his company depends to survive. Then, when Coleman moved over to the radically influential position of College Board president, he aligned college entrance exams to his creation, Common Core. He benefits from the whole deal at the expense of legitimate education and local control, as does Bill Gates, who has now partnered with the word’s largest education sales company, Pearson, to create more money-making curriculum for all of us who are trapped under the Common Core.

I am not against people making tons of money. That’s not the issue; American capitalism and entrepreneurship are wonderful inventions.

What I oppose are these unrepresentative, public-private partnerships (often called P3′s). All Americans ought to oppose the circumvention of the American voter by any “philanthropy” that creates new governance structures over previously representative educational systems.

Who is Gates’ constituency? Who elected him? Nobody. And nobody can vote him out –except by not cowering to his grantmaking wand.

As the author of yesterday’s Huffington Post article put it:

“So much Gates cash, and so many hands willing to accept it. Bill Gates likes Common Core. So, he is purchasing it. In doing so, Gates demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions… Can Bill Gates buy a foundational democratic institution? Will America allow it? The fate of CCSS will provide crucial answers to those looming questions.”

Read the whole article here.

Video Speech of the Most Courageous Superintendent in America at His Stop Common Core Rally   3 comments

Dr. Joseph Rella, Superintendent of Comsewogue School District in New York State, spoke to about two thousand parents on Saturday at a rally the superintendent called for, in order to stop Common Core.

Parents cheered wildly throughout the speech. One voice shouted out, “You’re our hero, Dr. Rella!” and the crowd broke out into loud cheers and applause over and over.

Countless parents in other school districts all over America are praying that their own superintendents will show the kind of courage and leadership that Dr. Rella displayed on Saturday. Thank you, Dr. Rella.

Here is the video of the speech Dr. Rella gave at the history-making event.

At minute 00:30 Dr. Rella said:

“To a greater or lesser extent, all of us have felt helpless, demoralized, frustrated, scared, angry, frightened for our children’s futures… Things have changed so much; they have, haven’t they? Well, remember. We– all of us– have been passengers on a plane being built in mid air, as our commissioner described his APPR initiative, but it applies to so many other things that are happening. There are a lot of planes. The Common Core plane, the PARCC plane. Well, none of that sad stuff today. None. No long faces because today, we are cancelling our flight reservations.

…Today’s message is a very simple and very important one. The New York State Common Core Initiative, its implementation and testing regimen is hurting our children and it must stop now.

… Any test designed to have 70% of the children taking it, fail, is abusive. We have to ask the question: what’s right about it? What’s right about any initiative that puts families in turmoil, puts dedicated people in fear of losing their livelihoods, and now the ultimate… damaging a child’s self-image and altering perhaps permanently a child’s self-definition? They should be ashamed of themselves.

… If you want to know how your child is doing in school, ask your child’s teacher. Ask your child’s principal.

…The Common Core Initiative is hurting our children. It must be examined by educational professionals, not businessmen.

…STOP IT, FIX IT, or SCRAP IT.

…I would like to put this as a motion before this magnificent assembly, a motion to approve the following resolution:

Whereas, the New York Common Core Initiative, implementation and testing regimen hurts children, and whereas, we believe that our children are a light, a beacon, and that this light is in serious jeopardy of being extinguished by this abusive initiative, now therefore be it resolved; we call upon the Governor, the Regents, the Commissioner of Education, and the state legislature, to call a halt to it immediately and have it examined by educators.

If it’s capable of being fixed, fix it. If it is not, then throw it out. Stop it, fix it or scrap it. Do I have a second for that motion? All in favor say Aye. [Cheering- AYE!] All opposed? [silence] The motion carries.”

Superintendent Joseph Rella’s Rally Against Common Core Propels Movement to Stop Common Core in New York State   5 comments

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella made a big, bold splash today when he led the unprecedented rally against Common Core as a school district leader.

Dr. Rella’s letter to legislators, his phone call to parents, the rally he held at his high school football stadium today, and his statement that he is willing to risk losing his job if Common Core is not to be given the boot, are huge hits to the federal-corporate takeover of education, known as Common Core.

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Dr. Joseph Rella led today's rally against Common Core in New York.

Dr. Joseph Rella led today’s rally against Common Core in New York.

Parents at today’s rally provided the photos that documented the rally.

Joseph Rella’s phone message to the parents of his district went viral within hours of its release. That message is quickening the rate at which the truth about Common Core is seeping out past the Common Core facade, despite federal promotion and despite millions of marketing dollars that Bill Gates has spent pushing the agenda on businesses, teachers, the PTA, politicians and the general public.

For those who want to get involved: a strong parent-led movement called Stop Common Core in New York State has planned a public forum for next month, which is free and open to all interested attendees.

The parent-led movement emphasizes the fact that this is not about being on the Left or the Right of the political spectrum. In fact, the Stop Common Core in New York State website opens up with a red, white and blue graphic that says, “It’s not about Left or Right. It’s about Liberty.”

Stop Common Core in NY’s forum in September will include a variety of speakers from CATO Institute, Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project, Seton Hall University, Education New York, and parents/teachers:

RENEE BRADDY

In Renee’s own words “I live in Highland, Utah with my patient and supportive husband and our 8 year old daughter and 3 year old son. I count it as one of my greatest blessings that I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home wife and mother. I graduated with a teaching degree from Brigham Young University and taught at Canyon Crest Elementary for 9 years. I have a love for education and children. Over the last couple of years as I have devoted countless hours researching Common Core, my life has been turned upside down and my laundry has often piled higher than I care to admit. I have felt compelled to protect my children and hopefully along the way inspire others”. Her continued commitment and perseverance to keeping education at a local level is what she has been fighting for not only for her children but for your children as well. Be sure to watch her video below where she discusses the role of the government and education and where it should **really** be — at the local level NOT the Federal. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piczxpQdul8

ALISA ELLIS

Alisa Ellis is a mother of seven children ranging from pre-k to 10th grade. She and her husband currently live in the beautiful Heber Valley. In the Spring of 2011 she became concerned with apparent changes in her children’s curricula and has spent countless hours researching and presenting her findings in public forums, radio appearances, and meetings. She touches not only parents who live in Utah but parents nationwide especially with this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI0XjBzsIfM

Alisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Family, Home and Social Sciences.

JAMIE GASS

Pioneer Institute’s Director of the Center for School Reform. At Pioneer, he has framed and commissioned over 60 research papers on education reform topics. Jamie has more than two decades of experience in public administration and education reform at the state and municipal levels. Previously, he worked at the Massachusetts Office of Educational Quality and Accountability as Senior Policy Analyst-Technical Writer and in the state budget office under two Massachusetts governors. In the 1990s, Jamie worked for the Dean of the Boston University School of Education/Boston University Management Team in its historic partnership with the Chelsea Public Schools. He has appeared on Boston media outlets: WBZ’s Nightside with Dan Rea, WRKO’s Tom & Todd Show, WBZ’s Keller at Large, WGBH’s Callie Crossley Show, WBUR, as well as talk radio across the country. He has been quoted in The Economist, Education Week, and The Boston Globe, and his op-eds are regularly published in The Boston Herald, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, The Lowell Sun, The Providence Journal, other regional newspapers, as well as pieces in magazines, such as Education Next and City Journal. Jamie speaks on school choice, academic standards, and school district accountability at events throughout the country. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Boston University.

SHEILA KAPLAN

A longtime independent education researcher, publisher, consultant, program developer, and advocate for students’ rights. Sheila founded Education New York Online in 2005 as a one-stop website for state and national education news, research on information policy and children’s privacy rights, and issues in education. In 1997 Sheila founded Education New York, at the time the only independent education publication in New York. Sheila has brought state and national attention to the issue of children’s privacy rights under federal education law and has identified gaps in the system that leave students vulnerable to breaches of their personal privacy. She has consulted with federal officials on making the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) more responsive to the 21st century challenges of protecting students’ education records in the electronic information age. Sheila’s comments submitted in May 2011 to the U.S. Department of Education on the proposed amendments to FERPA focused on the failure of the proposed rules to adhere to the highest standards of practice in protecting students’ privacy and confidentiality. (http://www.educationnewyork.com/)

NEAL MCCLUSKEY, Ph.D.

Neal McCluskey is the associate director of Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom. Prior to arriving at Cato, Neal served in the U.S. Army, taught high school English, and was a freelance reporter covering municipal government and education in suburban New Jersey. More recently, he was a policy analyst at the Center for Education Reform. He is the author of the book “Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education”, and his writings have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, and Forbes. In addition to his written work, Neal has appeared on C-span, CNN, the Fox News Channel, and numerous radio programs. Neal holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University where he double-majored in government and English, a master’s degree in political science from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University. (http://youtu.be/oo13VIX2aTg)

EMMETT McGROARTY, ESQ.

The Executive Director of the Preserve Innocence Initiative at the American Principles Project. Preserve Innocence works to protect parental rights and to promote government policies that protect the innocence of children and to fight those policies that drive a wedge between the parent-child relationship. It is working to stop the federal education takeover. Emmett has provided commentary and analyses on the federal education takeover and its affronts to the underpinnings of our democratic republic. Emmett received his bachelor’s from Georgetown University and his Juris Doctorate from Fordham School of Law. (http://americanprinciplesproject.org/)

CHRISTOPHER H. TIENKEN, Ed.D

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D. is an assistant professor of Education Administration at Seton Hall University in the College of Education and Human Services, Department of Education Management, Policy, and Leadership. He has public school administration experience as a PK-12 assistant superintendent, middle school principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and elementary school assistant principal. He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher. He is currently the editor of the American Association of School Administrators Journal of Scholarship and Practice and the Kappa Delta Pi Record. – See more at: http://christienken.com/

What Is Being Data-Mined Without Parental Consent?   14 comments

Even though the columns will be gone and it will be confusing and messy, I’m going to cut and paste a truckload of attributes from the National Data Collection model’s spreadsheet. You can click on the link to see the actual site and its spreadsheet so it’s not confusing or messy. http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary

These are the hundreds and hundreds of data points– personal details that the federal government is seeking to know about children. It’s absolute abuse of the trust we’ve put in our state and its schools, as now schools are forced to act as agents for state data collection without parental consent, through the use of many resources, including the standardized tests that are aligned to common standards, known as Common Core, and the housing of data in the State Longitudinal Databases (SLDS) that the federal government paid every state to build, for the purpose of reporting the K-12 data to the federal government.

Although this vast federal program (common nationalized standards, tests, and databases) started off appearing to collect just aggregated versions of data (not personally identifiable) the “aggregated” status is rapidly changing, as many state policies change, because the “big dogs” –such as the national association of state superintendents (CCSSO)– and others, have been working to fulfill their openly stated commitments to the DISaggregation of students’ data.

So, unless the National Center for Education Statistics deletes this information from its site, we can all see this information and then insist that elected representatives make a U-turn away from this nightmare of privacy invasion, and back to reason.

Step one: know what is happening. Step two: stop the state’s use of SLDS. I wish I could say Step two was to opt your child out of the SLDS tracking, but that is not allowed, at least not in Utah.

Below are the hundreds and hundreds of data points you’ll find there; my favorites include:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– even cause of death.

How they justify tracking students even beyond academics, even beyond death, I do not know.

–Keep in mind that this is the National Data Collection Model from the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal agency. Keep in mind that it is illegal under G.E.P.A. law, and under the Constitution, to have a federal database for innocent citizen surveillance.

This illegality is why the federal government had to pay each of the 50 states to create interoperable STATE longitudinal databases, so that they’d acquire a national database parading as 50 independent ones.

Compare the information below (National Data Collection Model) to the data points being sought at other federal sites, such as the Data Quality Campaign or the Common Educational Data Statistics site.

Realize, too, that they are not just using standardized tests or first-day-of-school paperwork to track children. They hope to increase the use of school biological sensory tracking devices that are recommended on page 44/62 of the Department of Education’s recent report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance”. There are descriptions and even photos of the biological detection devices that measure attitudes, engagement, and beliefs of students. http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf

They say this out loud? They publish for all to see online the recommended use on students of:

Facial Expression Cameras
Posture Analysis Seats
Pressure Mouses
Wireless Skin Conductance Sensors

How will such detailed, personal information about individuals be used or misused long-term? If a student is labeled –or mislabeled, will he/she lose future opportunities for jobs, education, political trust, or face gun ownership restrictions– based on tests or sensory devices or notes innocently scribbled by a gradeschool teacher, sent to the district-state-national databases?

Dear readers, if you are alive and breathing, you can do something to stop this. It’s your right and your duty. Contact your legislators and your governor. Show them the facts. Most simply haven’t been exposed to the facts and documentation yet.

Stand up and let your voice be heard. Our children cannot fight this fight for themselves; we have to do it.

Know that this is not theory. It is a real agenda, an openly documented plot: the federal government is in fact persuading test builders and governors of states to give away each child’s privacy rights, by building networks and databases and by secretly reducing formerly protective laws that once required written parental consent to access student data, but now call that just an optional “best practice.”

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Early Childhood Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS)
National Household Education Survey (NHES)

Elementary/SecondaryCommon Core of Data (CCD)
Secondary Longitudinal Studies Program
School District Demographics System
Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS)
more…

International Activities Program (IAP)

Library Library Statistics Program

Postsecondary Baccalaureate and Beyond
Career/Technical Education Statistics (CTES)
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)
more…

Data Systems, Use, & PrivacyCommon Education Data Standards (CEDS)
National Forum on Education Statistics
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program – (SLDS)
more…

ResourcesK-12 Practitioners Circle
National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC)
Statistical Standards Program
more…

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Physical Characteristic

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Common Attributes
Entity Identifier
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Person Characteristic
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Course
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School
Section
State
Student
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Student Elementary Secondary (studentElementarySecondary)
Definitions

Source: Handbooks
An individual for whom instruction, services and/or care are provided in an early childhood, elementary or secondary educational program under the jurisdiction of a school, education agency, or other institution or program.

Relationships
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Student Elementary Secondary

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Fr Free Reduced Fam App

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Student Academic Record
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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

receivesServicesFrom

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Asian
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Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

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Home|Technical View|Education View|Data Sets|Reports|Help|Advanced Search

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NewsFlash | Staff | Contact | Help | RSS | Privacy Policy
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——————————–

Remember– the Utah State Office of Education’s official statement still goes like this:

Nothing in Utah’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards promotes data mining of student’s personal information or other inappropriate use of student data. The Utah State Board of Education is committed to student and teacher privacy and will not share personally identifiable data.

–Please contact the state school board! I don’t think they understand what the Utah SLDS is doing, nor how weak the current policy is, against the mighty designs of the federal government, how the Common Core standards and tests play into the data mining scheme, or what the U.S. Department of Education has done to circumvent parents and Congress.

The Utah State School Board’s group email address is Board@schools.utah.gov

Three Things to Simplify Your Fight Against Common Core   2 comments

More and more sinister facts about Common Core are surfacing. Proponents are running scared. They are glossing over, avoiding, lying about and making fun of, those in possession of the powerful and ugly truths about Common Core.

For example, there’s a taxpayer-funded Utah propaganda campaign that the Utah State School Board is to employ this year to “correct the misinformation” that the board members won’t actually, directly address, at all. (See page 232-236 of the 518-page document) There’s the fact that the USOE refers to critics of Common Core as “The Common Core Crazies” in teacher development trainings. This has been verified to me directly by multiple teachers who’ve attended Utah teacher conferences this spring and summer.

Open debate is out of style. Freedom of speech, thought or expression seem politically incorrect. Proponents of Common Core are opposed to discussing pros and cons, and certainly won’t reference, source, or provide documented empirical studies (because they don’t exist) to prove the claims of Common Core’s proponents to be true.

This fear of standing in light should signal to honest seekers of truth that there’s something very wrong: intellectual honesty (defined by empirical evidence and pilot testing of new programs) and freedom of speech and thought (defined by two-sided conversations) are concepts that the proponents of Common Core dismiss in favor of hand-me-down,Gates-funded “talking points.” It’s: One Size Fits All. (“If the shoe doesn’t fit, you still have to wear it.”)

You may have seen the back and forth of national education analysts and former governors and assorted others.

These attacks, aimed at critics of Common Core, is actually great news: It’s evidence that we are making a dent in this power-grabbing beast.

Please remember three simple facts to spread the truth and to cut through Gates’ marketing noise:

It’s a shaky academic experiment; it slashes local control; it’s the glue in the unconstitutional surveillance program.

1) Common Core is an academic experiment on our children that will affect not just K-12 but also universities.

Nothing they say changes its experimental nature. There’s no empirical testing that’s ever been done, no pilot study, no proof that these standards are academically an improvement. It’s just marketing– the repetitive use of the misused words “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked” which, just as any grocery item that’s labeled “new and improved” — isn’t remotely new or improved. But who fact-checks? And yes, we should be rattled; these are radical changes: less literature; untested, way-different math. The time-tested, classical instruction’s flown out the standardized-common-testing window with the massive increase of testing. The ACT/SAT/GED/AP are all aligning to the experiment. And don’t forget about the massive increase of nonacademic student data-mining linked to the Common testing. It’s not small potatoes, folks.

2.) Common Core circumvents local authority and hands power to those who are furthest from the children/teachers.

The copyright by NGA/CCSSO is one proof. The 15% rule of the feds, that disallows soaring, is another proof. The micromanagement of the feds over the testing is another. The lack of any coming together to create a state-led amendment process is another proof. The monopoly on thought (via all texts being aligned, all ACT/SAT/GED/AP tests aligned) is another. There is no local control when the standards and tests are created from “on high.” There is no legitimacy when the standards and tests are experimental in nature and lack empirical validity. So even if the standards WERE excellent, states/districts have no control over those entities (NGA-CCSSO) who can alter them without our consent, sooner or later. When you lose control, you lose control. It doesn’t come back.

3) Common Core tests further entrench the surveillance of teachers and students by the government without parental consent.

If you remember these three points– and know where the links are to document them, you can stand up to the bullies, or to those who are uneducated about what Common Core is really all about.

All the opinion editorials in the world are not going to make the day night, or night day. Truth is truth whether people choose to believe it or not.

Informational Meetings Coming Up in Utah: You Are Invited   2 comments

Tonight at 7:00 p.m. there will be an informational meeting about Common Core concerns in Tooele, Utah, at the Deseret Peak complex. Speakers: Carie Valentine, Christel Swasey, and another member of Utahns Against Common Core (TBA). http://www.deseretpeakcomplex.com/venues/dpfire.htm

August 15th at 7:00 p.m. there will be an informational meeting about Common Core concerns at the Duchesne Library, Duchese, Utah. Speakers: Alisa Ellis, Renee Braddy and Christel Swasey.

The first week in September, there will be an informational meeting in Iron County, with details to be announced on the Utahns Against Common Core events website as soon as they are available.

If you are unable to attend one of these meetings but wish to learn about Common Core’s full agenda, a good place to start is with the linked documents available at the UACC website. You can also listen to the 2-hour, detailed discussion from yesterday’s KTALK radio, by clicking on the archived link titled, “Gayle, Christel and Carie” at this site: http://www.k-talk.com/index.php/archive/

Chicago Democrat Activist High School Teacher: Common Core a Massive Fraud   12 comments

Paul Horton is a Democrat, a political activist, and a Chicago high school history teacher who stands up against Common Core. He writes:

“I will vote for a Republican for governor who will get rid of Common Core and PARCC, if the Democrats can not produce a candidate who will. Thousands of Democratic voting teachers and parents are willing to the the same.”

Here’s Paul Horton’s most recent open letter, to Illinois Senator Kwame Raoul.

State Senator Kwame Raoul

Suite 4000 Chicago, Illinois; 60654

August 6,2013

Dear Senator Raoul,

We know from every measure that the Wilmette-Winnetka, Niles, Hinsdale, and Naperville schools are excellent. They are the highest achieving public schools in the state of Illinois. Their average SAT and ACT scores and the percentage of students enrolled in AP classes, not to mention exemplary performance on AP tests, makes these districts respected by competitive colleges all over the
country. Indeed, there is a national competition for graduates of these districts.

Why do we need another measure that we cannot afford? Why are we going to pay Pearson Education millions of dollars for products that will force many exemplary schools to lower their standards?

You will see what a massive fraud the Common Core Curriculum is when these schools are forced to lower their standards to teach Common Core and then their achievement will be denigrated by invalid measures designed to make all public schools look bad. When the New York public schools were required to take Pearson Education developed tests this spring, dozens of exemplary schools
and districts that have similar profiles to the Illinois public schools mentioned above, received substantially lowered school ratings. The same thing happened in Kentucky last year: scores went down in the best schools, and scores reflected preexisting conditions in underserved schools and communities.

Shame on the public officials of this country for turning their backs on the Northwest Ordinance, a document that precedes the Constitution in American history and law! The Ordinance made an historic commitment to public education. Federal and state governments have turned their backs on public schools because of their dependence on Wall Street funding for political
campaigns. How can we allow this to happen?

If Bill Daley is the Democratic nominee for governor and he plans to support the current state school board, I will vote for the Republican candidate if the nominee will do something about Superintendent Koch, Common Core, and the PARCC assessments. Superintendent Koch received paid trips from Pearson Education and the state then hired Pearson to develop its Common Core standardized tests.

I am a life long Democrat whose family has proud connections to the Civil Rights movement in the South. This administration and its operatives like Mayor Emanuel, have all but abandoned the country’s historic commitment to public education. When will an element within the Democratic party of Illinois stand up for common sense in Education?

Senator Raoul, you have stood very bravely in defense of teacher pensions. Can you stand up for the teachers and parents of Illinois, and buck Mayor Emanuel, Secretary Duncan, and the Democrats for Education Reform who seem more interested in attracting Wall Street money to Democratic campaigns in exchange for support of school privatization? Alderman Burns (the President’s local political protégé) will not do so for obvious reasons. I hope that you will consider a run against the plutocrats who currently control the Democratic Party in Illinois.

The citizens of Woodlawn where I live are sickened by what is happening to their neighborhood schools. An insurgent candidate for governor could gain the support of disaffected Democrats of many stripes.

All the best,

Paul Horton

History teacher, 1365 E 64th, #1; Chicago, Illinois, 60637; 773-241-9085

Intimidated? Stand Strong Against the Bully of Common Core   8 comments

I’ve spoken with one of the highest-ranking education leaders in Utah about Common Core. His primary reason for wanting Utah to remain tied to Common Core was to make Utah’s children ready for the altered college testing; ACT and SAT are now aligning to Common Core. I pointed out to this man that lemming-like adherence to Common Core, regardless of the fact that these standards are LOWERING high school graduation requirements for most states, and are ending local control of education, might be unwise. But he wanted to be a lemming. (Not his exact words.) If ACT/SAT was aligning, Utah would align. Hmmm.

Do you think it’s never going to become household knowledge that these standards are unpiloted, untested, and that they dumb down high school graduates? Do you really think that the ACT, SAT, and other tests will maintain their former levels of respect and authority once people realize that they’ve lowered themselves into the academic murk of Common Core math and its diminishment of classical English standards that used to lead out with classic literature?

Already, the truth is seeping into the general consciousness. The ACT and SAT are going to lose credibility with thousands if not millions, of Americans.

Proponents of Common Core are running scared. We are onto their racket. So, evidence that damns Common Core and its appendages is disappearing, lately. Did you notice that the video where the current College Board President David Coleman, (lead architect on Common Core English standards) curses and demeans student narrative writing– is gone? The video where MSNBC spokesperson Melissa Harris-Perry promotes collectivism/socialism, saying that “we have to break away from the notion that children belong to their parents–” is gone! Even our local Utah State Office of Education broke the link to the portion of their “Utah Core Standards” that said that Utah only modified our local standards after getting permission from the unelected D.C. group called CCSSO. Gone!

But proponents can’t cover up everything. The evidence trail is so wide and so damning. Dozens and dozens of links to documents, videos and government reports are still online and openly available. Please read them. Share them.

What I really think about the whole now-college-consuming monopoly of Common Core, via David Coleman making sure that every formerly respected college-related test in America now aligns with his Frankenstein (Common Core): it’s just a puffed up bully tactic, an intimidation technique. Without long-term muscle.

When I see articles describing how the ACT/SAT/GED/AP/textbooks/K-12 testing are ALL ALIGNING to this new monopoly on thought: Common Core? I think it’s no scarier than any other schoolyard bully intimidation game.

Why? Because we can choose not to fall for it, no matter how many big name companies and institutions Bill Gates’ dollar bills have persuaded to “endorse” Common Core alignment.

We can choose to opt out of the now experimentally-aligned tests, and we can still get our kids into good colleges. We can stand strong and have higher expectations for colleges and schools, and work to make sure alternatives materialize.

Liberty– and legitimate, time-tested education: That’s where I’m placing my bets.

Because what do the proponents of Common Core really have? Nothing real, just marketing and money. They don’t own our children’s futures.

They just want us to think they do.

Dozens of Links Documenting Common Core System Far More Harmful Than Good   7 comments

Common Core Concerns

Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.

The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.

States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.

It is noteworthy that despite claims that only aggregated data is submitted to Edfacts Data Exchange, the CCSSO (state superintendents society that copyrighted Common Core) has a “stated commitment to disaggregation of data” and numerous federal websites do model student data standardization and invite states to use common data sets which makes it easier to share personally identifiable information, including biometric and behavioral data.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted Common Core. The 15% rule limits innovation and excellence, being enforced in the common core aligned test systems and by textbook sales companies’ near-monopoly on any thought beyond Common Core. The 15% rule is also echoed in multiple documents from governmental and common core corporate developers.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”

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

Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.

http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/mathelem/Core-Curriculum/Utah-Core-Standards-in-Mathematics-Approved-Versio.aspx

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that Utah has no local voice in altering the national standards, which were written behind closed doors in D.C. and which can be altered by their creators at any time without representation from the states governed by them.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.

The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”

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 Department of Education has mandated a synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC and PARCC under the watchful eye of the Department.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s 2020 goal is to control teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know Common Core works until all the tests and curriculum align with these standards” and he’s writing curriculum for all. He also speaks of the usefulness of having students be “a uniform customer base.”

The speeches of David Coleman, non-educator, and the lead architect of the Common Core ELA standards who has been promoted to College Board President. He mocks narrative writing, has diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, promotes “informational text” without studying the effect of the reduction of classic literature on students long term, and, although he’s not been elected, yet he’s almost single-handedly reduced the quality and liberty of the high school English teacher’s options. As College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt universities, which now know, for example, that students are not learning Calculus nor much classic literature in high school any more.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.

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

The CCSS were rejected by key members of their validation committee, who have published and testified extensively that Common Core is an academic mistake that dramatically weakens high school standards.

American Institutes for Research - AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.

HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.

SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)

Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.

They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.

This is un-American governance.

TV News Covers Utah’s Common Core Protest – ABC 4   Leave a comment

http://www.abc4.com/content/news/slc/story/Teachers-parents-protest-outside-School-Board/nos_toxK3EOh_R8VASWnvg.cspx

Yay! Click on the link for the text/t.v. clip, showing students, teachers and parents who rallied at the Utah State Office of Education today to protest Common Core.

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