Archive for the ‘Data Privacy is a Right Schools Must Not Violate’ Category
Dr. Gary Thompson is a rock star.
Despite his shy nature, he’s one of the loudest, smartest, funniest and most fearless fighters in the quest to protect children and to expose the widespread education-establishment corruption called Common Core.
He actually fights. Actually cares. Is not in it for money.
He’s not one of the politicorporate bad guys who use the pretense of “doing what’s best for the children” as a facade for just the opposite– to gain power, prestige and money at children’s expense. (I’m talking about: Pearson Education/Bill Gates/Arne Duncan/A.I.R./Chambers of Commerce/Marc Tucker/ Obama/ CCSSO, etc. etc. –as well as those who sustain the bad guys’ club, promoting Common Core and student data mining and teacher redistribution– yes, yes, the education folk whom we’ve elected or appointed even here in Utah.)
Dr. Thompson is a Utah doctor of clinical psychology and a very vocal advocate for children’s protection –from data mining, from excessive high-stakes testing and from age-inappropriate educational standards.
He’s given me permission to post his notes here, which were directed to the Utah State School board and State Office of Education. Thanks, Dr. Thompson.
From July 18, 2014:
In a public hearing yesterday Utah State Board members debated the issue of going back to the “old” (“No Child Left Behind”) or pushing forward with the developmentally inappropriate Common Core.
State Board Member Debra Roberts stated –in support of going forward with Common Core and renewing the NCLB waiver– “What counts to me is the immediate impact on individual students who are most vulnerable, and absolutely there would be an immediate impact on those kids.”
The adoption of Common Core for “the most vulnerable” of our kids flies in the face of science and parental common sense. I will leave all the political and money issues to the Board experts, but I will crucify on social and national media any and all Utah State Board members who are insane enough to cite the heart string pulling, manipulative “vulnerable kids” argument in support of Common Core.
That one-size-fits-all recent adoption of special education policies of the U.S. Department of Education is nothing short of developmental and cognitive child abuse.
Yes, Ms. Roberts, I said “Child Abuse“.
Use ANY other justification to support your wish to go forward with the waiver and stay on course with Common Core, but to use “vulnerable children” as any part of that justification is disingenuous, not supported by facts of science and child psychology.
Ms. Robert’s comments are nothing but a shameless manipulation of parents who voted for her to represent the best interests of their children, not the special interest groups of Utah’s teachers union or Bill Gate’s special interest testing groups.
Fellow Board Member Jeff Moss had the wisdom and courage to pull a last second, heroic motion out of his bag of procedural tricks to halt voting on this issue until more facts were gathered. One of these facts is the harm Common Core has on our States “most vulnerable children.”
Regardless of the consequences personally or professionally, I will not silence my voice while any Utah State Board Member uses the “vulnerable children” argument as justification to move forward with the NCLB waiver so that Common Core can continue to cause emotional, developmental, and cognitive harm to the children I dedicated my life to treating and serving…. and raising.
Ms. Roberts: Feel free to “spin” money issues. Spin the Standards debate. Spin anything you want in this debate Ms. Roberts. However, if you use “vulnerable children”…my therapist’s clients…or my own developmentally vulnerable children as part of your spin, I promise I will make you famous this summer.
-Dr. Gary Thompson-
Parent & Stay Home Dad
Dr. Thompson also posted this letter, which is somehow hilarious even though it points out a tragic fact: that our educational leaders are promoting experimental, unvetted, non-peer-reviewed education standards –the Common Core standards– as if they were legitimate.
From July 24th:
Attached is something called “peer reviewed research”. When treating or testing children, especially those designated as “vulnerable populations,” we gear all our practices to be aligned with this type of research.
It’s best practice. It’s safe for the children. It’s the smart thing to do.
We do not base services provided to kids based on influences of special interest groups or Bill Gates. Nor do we give out propaganda-based information to parents, as such may pertain to children in vulnerable populations.
Peer reviewed research: Try it. You may like it!
-Dr. Gary Thompson
The next Utah State School Board meeting is on August 8th. It’s an open meeting. The public is wanted–and needed.
Many will be there, showing by our presence that it matters to us what the board does in this vote. We will wear matching stickers to petition the board NOT to renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind (ESEA). The board will vote on that day. The email for the board is email@example.com and the phone number is 801-538-7517. You may have two minutes to speak at that meeting if you call well in advance.
At the Provo mall theater Tuesday night, people were being turned away because every seat was purchased for the Glenn Beck “We Will Not Conform” event. The theater was overflowing with parents, teachers and grandparents wanting to know how to reclaim locally controlled education and a feeling of empowerment. I don’t know about the other 700 or so movie theaters, but at this one in Provo, people were energized. After the event, audience members had to be asked to leave because many stayed to talk long after the event. Those post-event conversations moved me more than anything I saw on the screen, even though the event itself was excellent. I’ll explain further along, down this post.
The filming took place in Dallas live, and included a powerful group of panelists. Audience members nationwide participated via twitter, taking surveys and being asked to answer questions. On July 29th, there will be a rebroadcast of the event. If you didn’t attend last Tuesday, or can’t attend on the 29th, here are a few highlights:
- Michelle Malkin – Malkin, that vibrant firecracker of an analyst, called Common Core “educational malpractice” and said that no one has a right to experiment upon, and track, our children as if they were guinea pigs. Malkin said that parents need the intellectual ammunition to fight the regurgitated talking points of the pro-Common Core groups. She said that parents should verify and re-verify the claims and assumptions being spoken by the pro-Common Core side.
- Kathleen Jasper – Jasper, a former teacher and vice principal, said that there is a giant machine of common core and high-stakes testing that can only be stopped by cutting off the fuel supply, which is the testing; she said parents and teachers must stand up and boycott the common core aligned assessments. She said parents need to know that media centers and computer centers in schools are being shut down to accomodate the high-stakes tests; all the money that classrooms need is being redirected to pay for the testing machine.
- Emmett McGroarty- McGroarty, of American Principles Project, said that Common Core’s highly defined standards/curriculum/testing program ushers in an unconstitutional system that parents can stop. He said that legislators must be held accountable by voters; if they’re not fighting it, they are going along with it. Tolerance of common core is a litmus test for legislators.
- Jenni White – White, a mom who was instrumental in getting Common Core repealed from Oklahoma, said that one of their greatest challenges was the Chamber of Commerce, since it was paid by Bill Gates to push Common Core. She said that persistence (and matching, eye-popping T-shirts) were key.
- Glenn Beck – Beck said that the kinds of teachers who can make the complex simple and the mundane exciting are worth their weight in gold, but these teachers are being systematically wiped out because of the enforcement of Common Core by the tests that make everyone and everything conform.
- David Barton – Barton, a historian, make the point that some people think Common Core is “not that bad,” but it is like a tiger cub, cute and manageable at first, but given time, will destroy.
- Terrence Moore – Moore, a professor and principal, said that because Common Core uses public money, the public has the right to ask, “what is education?” and not have it re-defined for us. He said, “We have to get those stories back,” referring to the classic literature and the great American stories that Common Core marginalizes due to an emphasis on informational text and progressive ideology.
- Heather Crossin – Crossin, an Indiana mom, made the point that we have the truth on our side; once people begin to look at Common Core they realize that the talking points aren’t true.
- Brian Glicklich – Glicklich, a marketing specialist, said that when we work to repeal the Common Core agenda, we have to remember that rarely can we be both angry and effective; we should make our best points, but don’t try to make all of our points at once.
When the event ended, some friends and I passed out fliers inviting people to attend the Utah State School Board meeting on August 8th, and to take the time to make public comment there (two minutes per person are allowed.) At that event, the state board will vote on whether or not to cowtow to the federal government by renewing the ESEA/NCLB waiver, which Utah received in exchange for the agreement to do Common Core (as option a; we also could have chosen option b, which was to create local standards using higher ed as a sounding board). After the event, I listened with mouth agape as to two teachers spoke about their distress about Common Core in the theater lobby. One said that her first graders are being truly cheated and manipulated by the new Common Core math. She said that when she attempted to speak out in staff meetings, she had her job threatened by her administrator. She got scared. She feels that teachers being forced to “collaborate” by PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) — having to sign off, promising to not veer from the common core as defined by the PLC, feels extremely restrictive. She said that healthy debate does not exist; it’s not allowed to exist in the professional educator community. She said that if teachers don’t agree, they have to be silent or they are labeled “not a team player” or “insubordinate.” The teacher also told me that she received a letter from her district, informing her that although parents have the right to opt students out of the tests, teachers do not have the right to inform parents of that right. The letter said that teachers must administer the tests, and any teacher found telling students or parents that they have the legal right to not take these tests, would be in trouble. I spoke with a mother of twelve who has been learning about and fighting against Common Core for three years. She said that many of her neighbors and friends who work in the school system have told her that they feel their hands are tied, and that they cannot do anything about Common Core even though they see its damages. She opts all children out of the tests. In Utah, at least, we are fortunate because we have the law on our side; schools are not allowed to penalize a student’s grade if that student refuses to take the test. Opt out!
These are watershed moments for education in our State.
If you’ve signed the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com you received the following update today. If not, here you go.
Common Core Alerts
1. Attend the Utah State Board of Education meetings Thursday, July 17 from – 4:00 PM to 5:45 PM and Friday, August 8 (please save the date) at Utah State Office of Education, Board Room/Conference Rooms, 250 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. We plan to PACK THE HOUSE.
The state school board will consider “a decision on whether to apply for an extension to its waiver under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)” to be voted on at the August Board meeting (http://schoolboard.utah.gov/news/board-considers-not-applying-for-an-extension-on-utahs-esea-waiver). We hope that they DO NOT renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind. By not renewing the waiver, Utah can send a clear message that we are in charge of our education and would take us one step closer to cutting the many federal ties that are preventing true local control over education. We will not be the first state to make this vital stand. Read more here.
Our strong presence is vital to voice our support so that the board to vote in our favor. This is a critical vote. Please attend; bring your children; we need to fill the room. (This is their work meeting but with brief public input, so we need to be respectful. Signs are welcome to use in the hallways or outside.)
2. Call and write, before the July 17th meeting, to Governor Herbert, the State School Board, USOE representatives and send copies to your legislators, newspapers, and local school boards, asking them NOT to renew the ESEA waiver, to get us out of Common Core, and to return full control of education to Utah.
Governor – http://governor..utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html State Board – firstname.lastname@example.org Your Board Member – http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2
Find other officials here – http://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/index
3. WE WILL NOT CONFORM – GLENN BECK EVENT
JULY 22nd we hope to see you as we pack all the available movie theaters throughout our state (and nationwide) for Glenn Beck’s event: “We Will Not Conform: A night to make Common Core history”. It’s in 700 movie theaters! Several Utah parents will be attending the event live in Texas as well. An updated theater list can be found here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/we-will-not-conform-live/more-info/theater-locations
4. Parent Groups and Candidates Organized to Stop Common Core:
We have updated the local parent group listings for those organizing in their areas.
There is a large SLC group until smaller groups form from it. Here’s an announcement from them.
Salt Lake County Committees – To Organize, Plan, Educate, and Act! Salt Lake County Committees will meet each fourth Thursday, except when it is a Holiday – like July 24. In which case we will meet on the third Wednesday (to help other attend that might not be able to). So we will meet July 16th 7 PM, at 7679 South Main St. (700 West), Midvale, a nicer and more central location. All are needed at these education and organization meetings (but attendance is more vital at State Board meeting on the 17th). Come one, come all and join your efforts to making Utah Education the best. The building is Utah Addition Centers – but is unmarked so look for signs, to enter, on the front and rear doors. Parking is in the rear. Contact Wendell W. Ashby email@example.com, and Administrative Support – Michelle Rodgers firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live in –or know people who live in– Rich County, please contact Bryce Huefner (435-757-0967, email@example.com) to help with his campaign.
An interesting art exhibit now at the 464 Gallery in Buffalo, New York features the work of a teacher, Jennifer Scott. It’s receiving national attention because the art is an anti-Common Core protest. The central piece in Scott’s exhibit, “For the Love of Learning: Students First” stars a man in a crown of standardized test bubble sheets –a man exactly resembling NY Education Commissioner John King.
Another Jennifer Scott art piece with a privacy-invasion theme also features Commissioner King. This time he’s a giant, peering in through the school room window with a gleeful countenance at small, unhappy students.
Why does Jennifer Scott use King as the puppetmaster of Common Core? Why not Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Sir Michael Barber, David Coleman or President Obama?
Commissioner King has been an longtime, outspoken defender of the indefensible in New York.
Recently, King has been more than just hotly criticized. The New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE, a coalition of 45 parent and educator groups in the state) actually, publically condemned Commissioner King to termination last month in a press release.
NYSAPE cited too much emphasis on testing, problems with Common Core standards, “one-size-fits-all” statewide curriculum, and the casual dismissal of the concerns of parents and educators “to the detriment of their children for far too long.” (Stop Common Core New York, a parent-led group, had been calling for King’s resignation for at least six months previous to NYSAPE’s call.)
The New York anti-fed-ed-reform movement grows and grows. (A full 48% of Worcester Central School District, NY, opted out of standardized math tests!) It was New York (Comsewogue District) Superintendent Joseph Rella who led a huge rally in his school’s football stadium against Common Core last year. And now, national news about the poignant art of teacher Jennifer Scott is receiving media attention while New York legislators work to restore local control and legitimate education.
Still, can the art of an indignant teacher, or can a handful of legislators, or can the pressure of 45 educational coalitions in New York, or can the clear reasoning of remarkable, outspoken local professors– Diane Ravitch, Alan Singer, Christopher Tienken, Nick Tampio and others– really oust John King, his Board of Regents and the fed-ed reforms?
Consider the fact that King is a favorite, a true darling of Secretary Arne Duncan and a staunch member of the brave new politicorporate ed reform establishment. For years, King and Duncan have been buddying about, making speeches both together and separately, officially explaining the religion of fed-ed. This includes not only Common Core and “robust” federally accessible data but also the idea that children should be forced to stay in school for more hours of the day, (a longtime Duncan favorite theme) or “let’s mandate more and more high stakes testing with Common Core adoption” –notions the two insist are very, very good for children– despite a complete lack of empirical evidence to support their points.
How do they get away with this?
I don’t know. It’s so clearly wrong. More people need to know it.
Let’s hope Jennifer Scott’s art multiplies and influences millions of additional New Yorkers to take a long, hard look at the awful transformations happening in their school systems. Let’s hope the parents and educators in New York win the fight for their children.
Then, let’s have an early –very early– retirement party for Commissioner King.
Thank you, Jennifer Scott.
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 Hooley, Peter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul Bogush, Laurie 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 Hayes, Barry 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.)
“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.
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.
Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?
The State School Board doesn’t think so.
Boiling down the conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?
1) - Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)
2) – The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.
Take some time. Think about it. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.” And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit. This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.
“Data Quality Campaign” has many partners including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers! “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,” “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”
From the DQC’s site: “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.”
Do you share that vision?
On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core) they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”
And Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges. Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data. http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf
Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?
But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”
So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:
DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test. (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)
American Institutes for Research will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.
(Why the nonacademic information too? Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)
Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills. But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.
Every state has a federally-invented SLDS: State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding). And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs. So did all the other states. It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.
We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him. Why keep him around at all?
The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.” This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
Not surprisingly, 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 “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags 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…”
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)
Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data. In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.
But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.
Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.
Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened. Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.
The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, 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 bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.
I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”
Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.
Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!
It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information
Is this what we want for Utah?
Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.
To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.
This is not hyperbole. Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data. We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.
Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing. They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.
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.”
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…
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
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.)
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.
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.”
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.)
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.”
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.
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.
Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.
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.
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?
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.
Recently America met the remakable Patrick Richardson, a teenager from Arkansas, who blasted through Common Core in power point presentations and speeches to his legislators.
Now, meet the eloquent Ethan Young of Tennessee, another brilliant teenager whose five minute, out-of-the-ballpark speech, utterly flattens the many false claims of the Common Core.
In this video speech you can hear these highlights:
On teacher evaluations: “These subjective anxiety producers do more to damage a teacher’s self esteem than you realize.”
“Erroneous evaluation coupled with strategic compensation presents a punitive model that as a student is like watching your teacher jump through flaming hoops to earn a score.”
“A teacher cannot be evaluated without his students, because as a craft, teaching is an interaction. Thus, how can you gauge a teacher’s success with no control of a student’s participation or interest? I stand before you because I care about education but also because I want to support my teachers… This relationship is at the heart of instruction and there will never be a system by which it is accurately measured.”
On bureaucratic convenience: “We can argue the details ad infinitum. Yet I observe a much broader issue with education today. Standards based education is ruining the way we teach and learn. Yes, I’ve already been told by legislators and administrators: “Ethan, that’s just the way things work.” But why? I’m going to answer that question. It’s bureaucratic convenience.”
“…It works with nuclear reactor and business models…. I mean, how convenient: calculating exactly who knows what and who needs what? I mean, why don’t we just manufacture robots instead of students? They last longer and they always do what they’re told.”
“Education is unlike every other bureaucratic institute in our government. The task of teaching is never quantifiable. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I haven’t learned anything.“
On the way Common Core sprung up:
“The initiative seemed to spring from states when in reality it was contrived by an insular group of testing executives with only two academic content specialists. Neither specialist approved the final standards and the English consultant, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, publicly stated she felt the standards left students with “an empty skill set, lacking literary knowledge.”
“While educators and administrators were later included in the validation committee and feedback groups, they did not play a role in the actual drafting of the standards…. the standards aren’t rigorous, just different, designed for industrial-model schools.”
“If nothing else, these standards are a glowing conflict of interest. And they lack the research they allegedly received. And most importantly, the standards illustrate a mistrust of teachers.”
On the purpose of teaching:
“Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness, these are impossible to scale. But they are are the purpose of education, why our teachers teachers, why I choose to learn.”
“And today we find ourselves in a nation that produces workers. Everything is career and college preparation. Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves pleading, screaming, and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds, we teach to inspire, we teach to equip, and the careers will come naturally.”
“Ask any of these teachers, ask any of my peers… Haven’t we gone too far with data?”
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.. but… the problems I cite are very real… Do not dismiss them as another fool’s criticisms…”
“You can not ignore me, my teachers or the truth. We need change, but not Common Core, high stakes evaluations, or more robots.”
Watch the video here.
Dr. Gary Thompson of the Utah-based Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center traveled to Wisconsin to testify about the damages of Common Core to the Wisconsin Legislature.
You can watch his whole testimony by clicking here.
Below is a lively commentary by Dr. Thompson about his reasons for testifying boldly against Common Core both as a father and as a clinical psychologist.
Our Kids Are Bigger Than You: Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Common Core Legislative Testimony
by Dr. Gary Thompson
“All students are expected to participate in the state accountability system with only a few exceptions, as noted below. This principle of full participation includes EL students, students with an IEP, and students with a Section 504 plan…. The IEP, EL, Section 504, EL with disabilities, and EL on Section 504 team cannot exempt a student from the statewide testing requirements.”
-Utah State Office Of Education, 2013-14 Testing accomodations policy
Part I: Pre Hearing, or, My Motivations for Professional Suicide
On October 12, 2013, “a person in a position of influence” called from Wisconsin and asked if I would like to participate as an expert witness in the State of Wisconsin’s “War against Common Core.”
He obviously did not have that much influence, because my response was a quick, “Thank you, but hell, no.”
Education leadership, both at the local and national levels, is talented at turning any movements geared towards change into politically-based personal warfare.
I had already attempted to fight this battle in Utah and did not wish to engage in it any further.
But then an interview, featuring my teenage daughter and her battle to drop an AP class that was exacerbating her anxiety, appeared in our local newspaper:
“Utah Father Had To Fight To Have Daughter Drop A Class“.
After reading over 50 ignorant and cruel comments directed toward my daughter —many of which were made by (alleged) current educators/administrators in Utah—I simply could not take it anymore.
Now, I generally have a pretty thick skin. Although I currently do not practice clinical psychology in any licensed form, I am a licensed – eligible trained clinician with over 5,000 documented clinical training hours (11,000 hours total). Part of that training revolves around maintaining a healthy professional distance from highly emotional situations. But these people were attacking my child. And they didn’t even know her!
Prior to my daughter’s situation with her school, I had given up all thoughts of future participation regarding Utah’s education reform. Politicians, educators, and parents had decided the current path of Common Core-based education was just fine for their constituents and their children. My response to that was basically, “Good for you. Have fun with that… I’m out.”
My focus would be on my work, my wife and my children. I felt relief.
To hell with the State of Utah.
To hell with the Common Core movement.
It was not my problem anymore. My kids were “safe.”
Wisconsin’s education issues? Not my problem either.
But after my daughter’s school decided to play hardball over what should have been a relatively simple decision and total strangers decided to weigh in with their opinions on my daughter’s character, my wife received the following e-mail from a professor at the University of Wisconsin:
Dear Dr. Frances Thompson:
I write to thank you sincerely for understanding why it is imperative that Gary testify against Common Core in the state of Wisconsin on 23 October 2013.
Common Core will put our most vulnerable students at risk, and is especially destructive to special needs children. We have already seen the damage done to these students by programs like No Child Left Behind, which in reality left behind many of our poorest and most needy students, especially minority students.
The problems with No Child Left Behind are magnified significantly with Common Core, and the high stakes testing and one size fits all approach to education will wreak irreparable harm for a whole new generation of special needs kids.
We have invited anumber of specialists in Math and Science and English to testify about the data and explain to our state senatorial committee why Common Core is bad education, bad pedagogy, and bad for teachers and students in general These committed scholars will provide raw numbers and make academic arguments.
Gary’s gift –beyond his credentials and professionalism–lies in putting a human face on these kids for the committee, humanizing a problem that is all too often viewed in terms of statistics and dollars, and championing with great compassion those who have no voice of their own in this battle for our children’s futures. In the final analysis, this is what matters most, and without Gary our case is merely mechanical.
I cannot guarantee that Gary’s testimony will be the blow that turns back Common Core in Wisconsin. But I do know that without him, our case is weakened. I understand the hardship his absence will cause your family in the short term, but I also believe that Gary’s advocacy for thousands and thousands of school children in Wisconsin will bless them and his family in the long run. We would be extremely grateful to you for enduring his absence for a short period of time on behalf of the people of Wisconsin.
Thank you very much,
Dr. Duke Pesta
Professor of English
University of Wisconsin
That simple, humble plea from someone who has dedicated his life to teaching our nation’s young adults affected me deeply.
I decided I had to go to Wisconsin.
I also decided that if I went, I wanted to be effective. I am not an effective public speaker. I speak slowly, and I stammer sometimes when my brain processes information faster than I can speak.
It is my disability, and going to Wisconsin would display it to the world. However, if my teenager had the courage to display her “disability” to the world, I did not care if I stuttered and stammered like an uneducated idiot on crack on live television for two hours for the world to see. I was going.
Part II: Preparation, or, Ensuring That My Professional Suicide Is Effective
That meant I had to condense a very complex issue down to a few key points and hammer them home with the force of my convictions. I also had to communicate in a way that would resonate with conservatives and liberals of all cultures.
I also had to prepare myself for those who seek to destroy reputations and self-esteem. People entrenched in the political and education machines of either party will go to great lengths to keep the status quo. I knew the facts of what I would testify to would be indisputable. However, I had to find a way to blunt the comments of those who would seek to make this about politics,religion, as opposed to what was in the best interest of the children or myself.
My theme was simply going to be this: “You are not bigger than the children.”
It was this thought that came to mind when what I feared the most occurred during the very first question of the hearing from a Senate Democrat Lehman. It was not about the issues, but about the money.
Politics and money have to take a backseat to the best interests of the children in order for education to be effective. Ironically, the comments directed towards my family and my daughter in the Tribune served as a training ground for the upcoming testimony. I read every of those vile attacks in preparation. I was more than prepared for “straw man” attacks.
The “Core” Of the Issue: Testing — the Ultimate Trojan Horse
The November 13, 2013 issue of Wired magazine published an article titled, “How A Radical New Teaching Method Could Unlock A Generation of Geniuses”.
I found it by accident on the plane to Wisconsin. Here are some excerpts that hit home:
“…the dominant model of public school education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when work places valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else.” (P.159).
“…we don’t openly profess those values nowadays, but our educational system—which routinely tests kids on their ability to recall information and demonstrate a master of narrow skill sets— doubles down on the view that students are material to be processed.” (P.160).
I found that I could not focus on research articles on the subject at hand, but was drawn to read the hundreds of letters and texts I have received from parents around the country whose children have been victimized, some permanently, by a education system that values conformity over the common sense and expertise of the parent.
I then made the decision to use these letters as my motivation, but to keep the issue simple. I have always advised “professional” activists to focus less on the political or religious aspects that may or may not be associated with the Common Core. Trying to convince a group of Democrat lawmakers that President Obama is a socialist from Kenya who is undergoing mind control from the Chicago Political Machine did not make sense to me as a Doctor. If the goal was to stop Common Core, then my plan was to relentlessly attack their “Trojan Horse,” which was the test itself.
So in the 20 minutes of… testimony, the following points were hammered home:
1. Despite misleading reports from State Superintendents from Utah and Wisconsin regarding how well Core Tests have been “pilot tested”, it was indisputable that the FINAL version of the Core test (complete with its most experimental component of “adaptability”) would never be properly tested, evaluated and “tweaked” in a transparent manner by independent experts prior to our children taking the tests in 2014-2015.
2. With that fact in mind, the only reasonable conclusion was that our children were being used as research guinea pigs under the direction and approval of our respective State Superintendents. (See Dr. Thompson and Attorney Ed Flint’s Letter To Utah Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martell Menlove: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dr-thompsons-letter-to-superintendent-menlove/)
3. We have over 50 years of peer reviewed data showing psychology’s struggles of measuring “achievement” as well as cognitive potential (I.Q.) of African American, Latino, ADHD, Autistic, Dual Exceptional, and children diagnosed with specific learning disabilities.
The SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), the group that the federal government paid hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate the production of these tests, proudly proclaimed on their web pages that they have basically solved this problem. My exact words were, “SBAC has just announced to the world that they have created the ‘Holy Grail’ of Achievement Tests.” That feat is kind of hard to perform if no validation studies have been performed.
4. I compared and contrasted the extreme difference between the ways children were tested/evaluated in the private clinical psychology sector, versus the current way proposed by the U.S. Department of Education via the SBAC. Professionals in clinical psychology have learned through a 100-year history of well-documented testing abuse in America to put into place restraints to ensure the safety of our children. Common Core testing policies arrogantly ignored each and every one of these.
5. We need to stop our obsessive focus on measuring WHAT our children havel earned and focus on utilizing neuropsychology technologies available that can now measure with great accuracy HOW a child’s brain processes information (PASS Theory, Naglieri, 2008).
6. Professional recommendation: Stop Common Core testing.
7. Recommendation as a father: Don’t let your kids take the test.
Part III: The Night Before: Fearless or Foolish?
I did not sleep the entire night before the Hearing. The enormity of what I was about the say to the entire country, and the probable consequences for engaging in this form of idiocy against the “machine” weighed heavily on my mind. It is one thing for a father to get ticked off at a local high school’s treatment of his daughter and have that anger on display in a mid-market newspaper.
It’s a entire different ballgame for a Black dude to get up in front of 17 of the State of Wisconsin’s lawmakers with cameras rolling and tell them that the most significant piece of the U.S. Department of Education’s signature education reform in the history of the nation… was simply made up.
If that was not enough, I was going to tell them this piece of legislation that came through under their watch, as currently constituted, has a very high statistical chance of harming millions of children while the “kinks” get worked out. Indeed, they would be initiating “cognitive child abuse.”
Unlike the Affordable Care Act, whose rocky start has been chronicled by both liberal and conservative media outlets, if Common Core displays similar problems, a generation of children will not be able to take advantage of the power that higher education bestows. Ironically, the group of children of Black and Latino descent stand to suffer at the hands of the nation’s first African American President. Even more ironic was the fact that I campaigned for the President with my daughter.
Mark Twain famously penned, “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.”
The education machine was caught without a significant form of statistical validity proof showing that the Common Core tests will actually work on a significant population of children.
The solution for the education machines problem? Make something up. Publish the imaginary statistics. Call the Doctor an idiot. Move on.
When Utah’s Superintendent of Schools Martell Menlove was confronted with the same exact proof that Common Core tests will be nothing more than an experimentation that will most likely harm tens of thousands of vulnerable children in Utah, he responded to the masses with a letter from the Test Designer (American Institute of Research) that is still posted on the Utah State Office of Education website.
After the powers to be from the powerful AIR test development group devoted a page-and-a-half of weak attempts to debunk solid concerns surrounding privacy issues of testing, my concerns were addressed in a single paragraph. The response from the V.P. of AIR can be roughly translated as, “Trust me.”
“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at: http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf.
Part V: Aftermath, or, What’s Next?
…Suffice to say, I do not feel that I am a hero or a role model. Heroes and role models do the right thing, regardless of consequences, because of a well-formed sense of right and wrong based on well-developed principles.
Me? Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education sent down a bunch of unproven education policies that harmed not one, but two of my children over the past two years. I went to Wisconsin because I was a rage-filled dad. I was a father who was able to tap into a Doctoral level education as well as his “inner A-Hole.” The e-mail sent to my wife by Professor Pesta was influential in my decision, but it was not what fueled my passion. Nelson Mandela I am not.
A parent wrote me last night and asked if I was going to send a copy of this treatise along with the clip of my testimony to the very same Utah Board of Education that ignored my public pleas as a father. I did not respond at the time, but here is my emphatic reply: No.
With a few clicks of a mouse on Google, interested parties, parents, and activist groups can find close to 100 pages of my written opinions, multiple video testimonies, and radio/television interviews. There is nothing more to say.
I did, however, hire a publicist yesterday after my cell phone started ringing off the hook with media requests and my Facebook page filled up with everything from a marriage proposal, to a guy in Georgia who called me a “House Negro.” My days of putting myself out there via attempts to reform public school education are over. It appears from the size of her operation that Julie Jakob of Jakob Marketing Partners does not need a business plug from me, but perhaps it may save our clinic some money when the first invoice arrives (http://www.jakobmp.com).
In addition to answering inquiries and protecting the brand of my wife’s clinic that may come under siege because her husband “lost his mind”, I will be using this firm to assist those without means to obtain the state-of-the-art services my wife’s educational psychology clinic offers. Jakob Marketing Partners will be responsible for touting a future webpage/link that will solicit donations from this community to help children whose families are not otherwise in a position to help them.
In 2014, we will be proud to announce the formation of the “Booker-Dewey Early Life Scholarship Foundation” which will be the vehicle for securing funds for those children in Utah with unique learning disabilities to obtain services not offered in public schools.
The scholarship is named after two highly influential people in my life. The first is my recently deceased grandmother, Lizzette Booker. While living in the sticks of West Virginia without plumbing, she raised two African-American daughters who obtained college degrees. She also obtained one herself when she was 70 years old. John Dewey is a former classmate of mine who saved my life during a difficult time during my long journey to obtain my doctorate degree. You would not be reading this letter if it was not for either of them. Their legacy will ensure that the lives of at least some vulnerable children in the States of Utah and California will be able to take advantage of the talents of the next generation of clinical psychologists. I placed emphasis on the word “next” because my time at the clinic needs to come to an end.
I have a three-year-old that is (still) waiting for her dad to help her learn to “poop in the potty”.
I also need to contribute my time and talents to the “Booker-Dewey Foundation”. Someone sent me a message two days ago stating that there is a book about Common Core on Amazon that apparently is making profit off the fruits of my many interesting journeys as a reluctant “activist.” I figure I could probably do the book thing better, since they were my experiences. All proceeds will be donated to the Foundation. I would encourage you all reading this to “Like”the Clinic’s Facebook page so you can be informed of future developments of the foundation and the upcoming e-book.
Thank you, State of Wisconsin, for this opportunity. Please remember and practice the mantra, “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Why? Because “They are not bigger than your children.”
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Director of Clinical Training and Community Advocacy Services
Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Inc.
Thank you, Dr. Thompson.
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.
October 22, 2013
The Honorable Arne Duncan
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
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.
Edward J. Markey
United States Senator
Thank you, Senator Markey.
This interview with Indiana Mother Heather Crossin is not to be missed. Speaking to the Civitas Institute, she tells the story of how she got involved with the fight against Common Core:
Her third grade daughter came home from her Catholic parochial school with Common Core math worksheets. The worksheets had a “shockingly small amount” of practice, and an “inordinate amount of time spent explaining in writing how students got to answers” which had to be written by students in very scripted ways. Heather started to ask questions.
She soon found herself at a school meeting to discuss the Common Core styled math, and heard a sales pitch from a Pearson Education sales representative. She and the parents in the room didn’t like the pitch nor the new math. Then the principal informed them that there was no choice. That was Heather’s moment of illumination.
“Suddenly I realized the control over what was being taught in my child’s third grade classroom was now not at my school level. In fact, it was not even at the state level. It had been removed and all control now resided outside the state of Indiana, with private trade associations that owned the copyright to these standards. So no one in my school building, or even in my state, had the ability to change, edit or delete a set of standards that I found right out of the gate to be problematic…
“…We could not believe that a shift of this magnitude had occurred in our state and no one was aware of it. We felt an overwhelming desire to at least let the people know what had happened. We felt strongly that if people knew that this type of a shift in power and control had occurred, they would be outraged as we were, and I think we found that they were.”
In this interview, Heather also explains why parents can and must get involved:
“The stakes are so high. This is not an issue that can be ignored. It really affects not just our children’s future but really our country’s future.”
She touches on the fact that the Common Core testing system (aligned now with college entrance exams) places even home schooled students and private school students at a serious disadvantage. She also relates the method by which she and other parents pushed for, and succeeded in getting, the first “pause” legislation to stop Common Core for Indiana, adding:
“The most powerful weapon that we’ve had… is that the truth and the facts are overwhelmingly on the side of the Common Core opponents. That is a very powerful weapon.”
Watch and share.
To see an additional film of Heather’s public speech at the Civitas event, see: http://stopcommoncorenc.org/2013/10/14/heather-crossin-ordinary-people-can-make-difference/
Thank you, Heather!
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
– 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com Mesa County Citizins/Businesses Against Common Core Curriculum & Colorado Parents Against Common Core
■Florida (Central): https://www.facebook.com/groups/CentralFPACC/?fref=ts
■Louisiana: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreLa andhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Louisiana/325178490918603?fref=ts
■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
■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/
■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
■Special Education Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249171258560458/249174031893514/?comment_id=249175028560081¬if_t=group_comment
Common Core Down: Crossing the Line
An Open Letter to Parent Advocates for Local Control
Guest Post –by someone who wishes to remain anonymous
The Common Core is going down.
It is going down one way or another. It will happen sooner in some places and later in others. In large part it is going to go down as a result of your efforts and the efforts of countless and nameless others like you. It will go down in spite of the efforts of the likes of Boeing, Microsoft, Exxon, Gates, the federal government and the rest of the human capital/workforce pipeline driven corporate entities, within and without our country (read that as global corporations). They have been messing with the education of students in our country for decades now. They have gone too far this time. They have crossed the line.
Let me tell you about that line. If you are a birder or someone who enjoys nature you may have experience with this. On a number of occasions I have been out in the wild and spotted nests in trees and cliff aeries of owls, falcons, and hawks when there have been young ones in the nest. It usually was the cries of the young ones in the nest that attracted my attention. The momma bird has a protective eagle eye (pun intended). I have approached and found the line. The line was never visible. I knew I found the line when I stepped too close and the momma bird took flight and started to attack me. One step back and momma bird, while still on guard, would cease her attack. That is how you know where the line is—-when momma starts to attack out of a maternal instinct to protect her offspring.
This line occurs elsewhere in nature and not just with birds of prey. You do not want to get between a momma bear and her cub or between a cow moose and her calf (I have watched the nostrils flare and the ears lay back on a cow moose). If you do, you are in danger. And I never want to get so far across the line with a bird of prey or any other living creature that I can’t rapidly, within one step, retreat across the unseen line.
Well, they, with the CCSS and related issues, have crossed the line. As a result the CCSS is in serious danger. The CCSS and related issues have been placed smack between parents and their children and as a result are or will be seen as an imminent threat. And parents, in particular, moms, are on the attack as maternal instincts kick in to protect their offspring from accurately perceived physical, emotional, and/or intellectual harm.
The common core could and should go down for any number of reasons—federal overreach, constitutional issues, content, cost, privacy… but it really is going to go down because it has crossed the invisible line that will invoke the protective parental nature. That is what will bring it down. All of you have been instrumental in helping, and must continue to help, parents see where that line is.
I have been tracking issues related to CCSS since spring of 2009. It was a rare article that could be found at that time about it and it was usually one glowing with what we now see as the standard boiler plate blather. As time progressed it was a busy day if there were three to five articles about the CCSS. Of course, they were all positive about the CCSS or promoting the CCSS. That continued for some time. At some point a rare article would appear that was negative towards the CCSS. Over time that grew—-now I see what appears to be as many anti=CCSS articles as pro-CCSS. Even after filtering out many articles, it is common to see 10 to 30+ new articles a day. A significant portion of those articles is about the push back against the CCSS or they are anti-CCSS. With the increase in articles it is hard to find the time to read them all. It is easy to see that the CCSS is in trouble. The CCSS is not just in trouble it is in serious trouble. At this point only a small portion of parents have realized the line has been crossed. More will realize it soon enough.
Don’t let up. Keep the pressure on and help others learn to see the line and what it means to them and the future of their children. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, anonymous friend, for this guest post.
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.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Thank you, Jenni White.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
22808 East Highway 86
Granby, Missouri 64844
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
I laughed out loud a year ago, when I read what Governor LePage of Maine said upon withdrawing Maine’s membership in the National Governors’ Association. Along with citing the waste of taxpayer’s money on NGA “membership dues” ($60,000 per year) LePage described NGA meetings as “too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey, and no decisions are ever made.”
But Governor LePage of Maine made much bigger news this week when he issued an executive order opposing Common Core, and stated: “I don’t believe in Common Core. I believe in raising standards in education.”
An increasing number of Governors now openly oppose Common Core, although the National Governors’ Association co-created and copyrighted the Common Core.
Governor Haley of South Carolina backed a bill to block Common Core. Governor Deal of Georgia issued an executive order to address the crisis of Common Core. Governor Pence of Indiana signed legislation to halt Common Core for at least one year in his state. Governor Bentley of Alabama has condemned Common Core, saying that having just one national standard in place “goes against the intent of the founding fathers of the United States.”
When Texas Governor Perry rejected Common Core, he said, “The academic standards of Texas are not for sale,” and has explained that the reason Texas doesn’t pay National Governors’ Association (NGA) dues is that the Governor doesn’t believe the $100,000 cost to Texas taxpayers was justifiable.
According to CNN, way back in 2011, Texas, South Carolina and Idaho were not paying NGA dues.
But Utah’s Governor Herbert remains on the Executive Committee of the National Governor’s Association, Utah taxpayers continue to pay dues for the Governor’s NGA membership, and both the Governor and the State School Board are advocates of NGA and of Common Core.
This video shows New Hampshire State Rep Emily Sandblade peppering the New Hampshire State School Board with questions about Common Core’s legitimacy.
The list of questions below is from at a parent-run site called “Math Wizards: Dedicated to Preserving and Promoting Mathematics in Education in New Hampshire.”
“List of Questions:
1) Are there plans on adding/changing the Common Core Standards in an effort to improve them? IF so, will the administration offer a detailed document so the public can see this? If not, why not?
2) What were the specific problems with the old NH standards (GLE’s)?
3) Are there other standards that are superior to Common Core and if so, why not focus on aligning w/those Standards?
If not, why not?
4) Are these standards internationally benchmarked? If so, which countries would you point to for a comparison?
5) Does the Administration believe the academic standards used in the district should be the best?
6) Will the teacher’s evaluation be tied to the standardized assessment? IF so by what percentage?
7) What evidence exists that Common Core will lead to better results?
8) Has anyone looked at or evaluated the new Smarter Balanced Assessment sample questions? If so, do they believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment is a good measurement tool for student proficiency in English and Mathematics?
9) What is the total estimated cost to the School District to implement Common Core?
10) Have they done any kind of cost/benefit analysis?
11) Are there any identified flaws with the English/Math Common Core Standards? If so, what is being done to correct those flaws? If not, has anyone in the district reached out to the two content experts on the Validation Committee to listen to their expert analysis and why they refused to sign off on the Math and English Standards?
12) Will the Administration commit to releasing the assessment questions to the public after students complete the testing?
13) What non-academic questions will be asked of the students on the new assessment?
14) Will parents be able to opt their children out of the new assessment?
15) Will parents be able to see the non-academic questions prior to their children taking the assessment?
16) Will Administrators support a policy that protects the privacy of the student and suggest a new policy to the Board?
17) How does the Administration plan on involving parents in the selection of textbooks/materials, etc?
18) Is the School District “technology” ready to implement CCSS and the new assessments? IF not, how long will that take and how much money will that cost local taxpayers?
19) What is the bandwidth capability of each school and have they run any tests to check the capacity?
20) If the bandwidth has not been tested, why not?
21) What specific actions has been taken to protect the teachers and set them up for success?
22) Does the school district have the IT staff to handle technological demands?
23) What specific adaptations and accommodations are being made for the special needs students?
24) How are the teachers aligning their curriculum to CCSS?
25) Are there additional costs to adding the Broadband for the district? IF so, what is the cost?
26) What is the timeframe for adding Broadband across all of the schools?
27) Schools began implementing CCSS 2012-2013, are there any findings that can be shared?
28) Are the CCSS definition of “college readiness” consistent with the requirements needed to enter a four-year university in the University of New Hampshire system? If not, what will the district do to alleviate that problem?
29) Do you agree that if a student graduates from a school that follows the “College and Career” readiness standards, that student will not be in need of remedial classes upon entering college?
30) Will the district evaluate graduates to see if they were in need of remedial classes? If so, will that information be made available to parents?
31) If students are graduating in need of remedial classes, what then is the course of action? Will district then need to fund new textbooks/curriculum, etc. to alleviate this problem?
32) Will Administrators commit to holding a public hearing on how Common Core will be implemented in the district? If so, will they commit to presenting all information, including info that is critical of Common Core so information is transparent to parents and residents?
Common Core is sold as a way to get your children to “think critically”. (Although the Common Core validation experts would argue that will not happen under Common Core Standards) If they really want to teach kids to “think critically,” why not present all of the critical information on Common Core to the parents too?
Why is the New Hampshire DOE running around town “selling” Common Core but refusing to offer ANY critical information or analysis on Common Core?”
Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.
Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!
I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.
Dear Principal and Teachers,
Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.
I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.
I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.
I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.
Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.
(–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)
Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.
164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.
A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.
A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.
There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.
WHY DO PARENTS WANT TO OPT OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING?
1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive.
2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control.
3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5.
4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason.
5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time.
6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.
First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.
So far, so bad.
Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.
Do the fact check.
The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)
And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”
See their official definition:
College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.
(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)
So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?
Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?
What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)
What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?
Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.
Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:
“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”
So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.
Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.
Other Thoughts On Funding Schools
– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.
Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.
By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.
Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?
When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?
How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)
Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.
And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.
Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.
Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.
Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.
Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?
Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.
And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.
Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.
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.
On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.
Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.
Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.
My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.
The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.
So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.
Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?
The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.
Clearly, the federal government lacks authority to search private data, to produce common tests, or to promote common standards, yet using private institutions, secretive regulatory changes to privacy laws, long-winded grantmaking contracts, and a well-intentioned governors’ club and superintedents’ club as smokescreens, it is overstepping its bounds and is falsely assuming these powers.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.
This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making “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.”</strong>
I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.
For years, Duncan has been saying that, “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…”
Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.
Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?
How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.
The U.S. Department of Education is:
1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:
Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”
The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).
2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS
a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers
In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.
b) Edfacts Data Exchange
Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model
c) National Data Collection Model
It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:
your child’s name
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
– and even cause of death.
People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.
d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics
The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.“
Also at the same CCSSO site (remember, this is a private Common Core-creators’ website, and not a voter-accountable group) CCSSO we learn that the CCSSO runs a program called the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) with this purpose: “improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level.” – See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.L2t0sFCm.dpuf
The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“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 USDOE-CCSSO partnership.
And it’s already begun.
There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.
3. PROMOTING CORPORATE DATA COLLECTION
Data-mashing across federal agencies and is not the only way in which data is becoming accessible by greater numbers of eyes. It’s also across corporate entities that data sharing is becoming more and more of a push.
At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.
4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE
Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.
5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT
There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.
That was then. This is now.
Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”
The Department of Ed formally defined the term “biometric” on a list of ways a student would be personally identified: “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or
more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be
used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include
fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.
For all of this, the Department has been sued.
6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES
In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “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.”
This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.
We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.
Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:
— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.
— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the Common Core tests without penalizing the student academically.
— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the SLDS tracking and surveillance databases.
— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
We, the People, have to call them on it.
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.”
Please come if you can, or spread the word if you have contacts in or around Maine:
On Wednesday, August 21st at noon, there will be a Stop Common Core press conference in Augusta, Maine, at the Capitol in the Hall of Flags led by Maine State School Board member Heidi Sampson.
There will also be a Stop Common Core Rally at 6:00 pm that night at the Governor Hill Mansion, Augusta, Maine.
I am excited. I get to participate in person.
Speakers will include Heidi Sampson, of the Maine State School Board; Emmett McGroarty, of American Principles Project; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Erin Tuttle, activist mom from Indiana; and me– Christel Swasey, from Heber City, Utah.
The East Coast is suddenly exploding with new energy dedicated toward stopping Common Core and reclaiming education.
Last weekend in New York, we saw the tremendous, unprecedented example set by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella of Comsewogue, NY, at his high school football stadium rally with parents against Common Core.
And now, Heidi Sampson, a member of the Maine State School Board, steps up to the plate, leading citizens of Maine to see the facts and take action against the damages of Common Core.
If you visit some of the parent-led websites on Facebook and elsewhere, representing states all up and down the East Coast, you’ll see No Common Core Maine, Stop Common Core of Florida and Stop Common Core of Georgia and Stop Common Core in North Carolina and Stop Common Core in South Carolina and Stop Common Core New Hampshire, and you will be impressed– Each site tells the same story: parents and educators are hosting increasing numbers of town hall meetings and informational presentations; on radio stations, in churches, in conference calls, in auditoriums, at State Capitol Buildings, and in their homes– all over, from Miami, Palm Beach, Rome, Greenville and Raleigh, to Concord, Alfred, Augusta, and more.
And in New York State, on September 21st, there’s going to be an important forum, put on by the parent-led Stop Common Core in New York State with grassroots activists, esteemed professors and think-tank professionals flying in from across the country to participate.
The big boys and their millions cannot, can not, stand up to the tens of thousands of Mama and Papa bears who are here to protect our children.
Common Core is going out. Liberty and local control are coming back. We the People are taking back the educational rights and privacy rights of our children. Count on it.
My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.
Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:
1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.
2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)
So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level - See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf
Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??
Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?
Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:
“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”
FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.
FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.
FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.
FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.
FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”
The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.
Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.
He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.
Right Under Our Noses.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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/
At a filmed “Understanding Common Core” forum in Oklahoma a week ago, a passionate elementary school teacher spoke up. This is what she said.
(She speaks just after minute 50:08 to 52:00.)
“My name is Olivia Goodwin and I’m a first grade classroom teacher. You have used the phrase ‘if Common Core is implemented’ . We’ve been implementing it in our classrooms for almost two years…. so it’s not a question of if. It’s already happening.
“We’re spending our own time and money doing a lot of professional development on how to incorporate it into our classrooms because there is no state funding or professional development, or it’s really vague.
“With that being said: you’ve said that Common Core is going to be raising the bar and increasing the rigor. From my first grade standards in math, nothing has become more rigorous. The standards are exactly the same as what the past was. They’ve just taken some away.
“I’m no longer teaching my first graders about money. They don’t get any money skills in kindergarten. They no longer get money skills in first grade. They don’t get any money skills until second grade. Calendar skills are gone. Fractions are gone. Patterning is gone. That’s all moved up to a higher grade. So how is Common Core more rigorous when in my personal experience with my first grade math standards, nothing has become more rigorous? They’ve just taken stuff away.”
In response, one of the forum leaders waffles for awhile: “I can speak to what I’ve read so far… They are focused on making sure students learn… to build on knowledge over time… I’m not a teacher so I don’t know all the terminology, but it is an attempt to raise standards.”
The elementary teacher then repeats, “But how is that bar being raised if it’s taking away a portion of standards that we previously taught, but it’s not being made more rigorous?”
Then the forum speaker then says, “I don’t have an answer to your specific issue… I think it would be an issue that– what does your principal say?”
The teacher says, “We don’t have a choice. We have to teach common core.”
Some teachers, like this Oklahoma teacher and many others, say the standards are not at all rigorous. Other teachers say they are much, much too rigorous. It depends on the grade level taught, the subjects taught, and the level of Common Core exposure. So, what’s to be done?
One more story.
A very close friend of mine teaches fifth grade Common Core. She says that she isn’t so sure about liking the math, but she does like the Common Core English Language Arts.
I say, “Even if you loved both ELA and math today, what happens when the unelected D.C. groups that wrote and copyrighted the standards change them next year to something you really hate? The heart of this issue isn’t the standards themselves. It’s a battle for control of who gets to set them and who’s writing the tests and books for them.”
Come on, America. We can do better than to marry the concept of standardization and give up our constitutional responsibility to drive education locally.
We can shake this thing off our shoulders if many keep gathering courage and speaking up.
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
bus stop times
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
nonschool activity involvement
maternal last name
— 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
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.”
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)
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)
Data Systems, Use, & PrivacyCommon Education Data Standards (CEDS)
National Forum on Education Statistics
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program – (SLDS)
ResourcesK-12 Practitioners Circle
National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC)
Statistical Standards Program
Data; ToolsCustom Datasets; Tables
Peer Comparison Tools
Questionnaire Item Banks
States/District Profiles, Comparisons, and Mapping
Offsite Archive of NCES Data
Tables; Figures Search Tables/Figures
Popular Keyword Title Searches
Fast Facts Assessments
Elementary and Secondary
Postsecondary and Beyond
School Search Search for Schools, Colleges and Libraries
Other Search Tools Public Schools
Public School Districts
News; Events What’s New at NCES
Education Leadership Artifact
Operations Artifact Organization
Student Elementary Seco…
Students – Postsecondar…
Student Elementary Secondary (studentElementarySecondary)
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.
Student Elementary Secondary
has Associated Accommodation
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Elementary Secondary Transcript
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Extra Curricular Program
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Fr Free Reduced Fam App
Student Elementary Secondary
Fr Head Start Eligibility Verification
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Individual Learning Plan
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Academic Record
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Administrator Conference
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Assessment Registration
Student Elementary Secondary
Student District Enrollment
Student Elementary Secondary
Student District Registration
Student Elementary Secondary
Student School Assignment
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Section Assignment
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Collaboration Group
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Student Elementary Secondary
Ability Grouped Status
Absent Attendance Categories
Academic Honors Type
Activity Curriculum Type
Activity Involvement Beginning Date
Activity Involvement Ending Date
Activity Leadership/Coordinator Participation Level
Additional Geographic Designation
Additional Post-school Accomplishments
Additional Special Health Needs, Information, or Instructions
Ala Carte Non-Reimbursable Purchase Price
American Indian or Alaska native
Amount of Activity Involvement
Amount of Non-school Activity Involvement
Assessment Reporting Method
Assignment Finish Date
Assignment Number of Attempts
Assignment/Activity Points Possible
Attendance Status Time
Awaiting Initial Evaluation for Special Education
Base Salary or Wage
Black or African American
Born Outside of the U.S.
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
Bus Stop Description
Bus Stop Distance
Bus Stop from School ID
Bus Stop to School Distance
Bus Stop to School ID
Career and Technical Education Completer
Change in Developmental Status
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Community Service Hours
Compulsory Attendance Status at Time of Discontinuing School
Condition Onset Date
Corrective Equipment Prescribed
Corrective Equipment Purpose
Country of Birth Code
Country of Citizenship Code
County FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) Code
County of Birth
Daily Attendance Status
Diagnosis of Causative Factor (Condition)
Diploma/Credential Award Date
Discontinuing Schooling Reason
Diseases, Illnesses, and Other Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Early Intervention Evaluation Process Description/Title
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Electronic Mail Address Type
Eligibility Status for School Food Service Programs
Employment End Date
Employment Permit Certifying Organization
Employment Permit Description
Employment Permit Expiration Date
Employment Permit Number
Employment Permit Valid Date
Employment Start Date
End of Term Status
English Language Proficiency Progress/Attainment
English Proficiency Level
Established IDEA Condition
Evaluated for Special Education but Not Receiving Services
Evaluation Extension Date
Evaluation Parental Consent Date
Expulsion Return Date
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Fee Payment Type
Financial Assistance Amount
Financial Assistance Descriptive Title
Financial Assistance Qualifier
Financial Assistance Source
Financial Assistance Type
First Entry Date into a US School
First Entry Date into State
First Entry Date into the United States
Former Legal Name
Full Academic Year Status
Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Status
Future Entry Date
Gifted and Talented Status
Gifted Eligibility Criteria
Grade Point Average (GPA): Cumulative (High School)
Graduation Testing Status
Head of Household
Health Care History Episode Date
Health Care Plan
Health Condition Progress Report
Highest Level of Education Completed
Hispanic or Latino Ethnicity
Homeless Primary Nighttime Residence
Homeless Unaccompanied Youth Status
IEP Transition Plan
IFSP Goals Met
Immunizations Mandated by State Law for Participation
Impact of Early Intervention Services on the Family
In-school/Post-school Employment Status
Individualized Program Date
Individualized Program Date Type
Individualized Program Type
Initial Language Assessment Status
International Code Number
Languages Other Than English
Last/Surname at Birth
Length of Placement in Neglected or Delinquent Program
Length of Time Transported
Limitation Beginning Date
Limitation Ending Date
Limited English Proficiency Status
Maternal Last Name
Meal Payment Method (Reimbursable/Non-reimbursable)
Meal Purchase Price (Reimbursable)
Meal Service Transaction Date
Meal Service Transaction Type
Medical Laboratory Procedure Results
Migrant Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Status
Migrant Classification Subgroup
Migrant Continuation of Services
Migrant Last Qualifying Arrival Date (QAD)
Migrant Last Qualifying Move (LQM) Date
Migrant Priority for Services
Migrant QAD from City
Migrant QAD from Country
Migrant QAD from State
Migrant QAD to City
Migrant QAD to State
Migrant Qualifying Work Type
Migrant Residency Date
Migrant Service Type
Migrant to Join Date
Military Service Experience
Multiple Birth Status
Name of Country
Name of Country of Birth
Name of Country of Citizenship
Name of County
Name of Institution
Name of Language
Name of State
Name of State of Birth
National/Ethnic Origin Subgroup
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
NCLB Title 1 School Choice Eligible
NCLB Title 1 School Choice Offered
NCLB Title 1 School Choice Transfer
Neglected or Delinquent Below Grade Level Status
Neglected or Delinquent Pre-test and Post-test Status
Neglected or Delinquent Program Placement Duration Status
Neglected or Delinquent Program Type
Neglected or Delinquent Progress Level
Neglected or Delinquent Status
Non-course Graduation Requirement Date Met
Non-course Graduation Requirement Scores/Results
Non-course Graduation Requirement Type
Non-resident Attendance Rationale
Non-school Activity Beginning Date
Non-school Activity Description
Non-school Activity Ending Date
Non-school Activity Sponsor
Non-school Activity Type
Notice of Recommended Educational Placement Date
Number of Days Absent
Number of Days in Attendance
Number of Days of Membership
Number of Dependents
Number of Hours Worked per Weekend
Number of Hours Worked per Work Week
Number of Minutes per Week Included
Number of Minutes per Week Non-Inclusion
Number of Tardies
Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Hearing
Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Speech and Language
Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Vision
Overall Health Status
Participation in School Food Service Programs
Personal Information Verification
Placement Parental Consent Date
Planned Assessment Participation
Points/Mark Value Description
Post-school Training or Education Subject Matter
Preparing for Nontraditional Fields Status
Present Attendance Categories
Primary Disability Type
Primary Telephone Number Status
Program Eligibility Date
Program Eligibility Expiration Date
Program Eligibility Status
Program Exit Reason
Program of Study Relevance
Program Participation Reason
Program Placement Date
Program Plan Date
Program Plan Effective Date
Progress Toward IFSP Goals and Objectives
Promotion Testing Status
Public School Residence Status
Qualified Individual with Disabilities Status
Reason for Non-entrance in School
Recognition for Participation or Performance in an Activity
Referral Completion Date
Referral Completion Report
Related Emergency Needs
Residence after Exiting/Withdrawing from School
Residence Block Number
Resource Check Out Date
Resource Due Date
Resource Title Checked Out
Responsible District Type
Routine Health Care Procedure Required at School
Safety Education Status
School Choice Applied Status
School Choice Eligible Status
School Choice Transfer Status
School District Code of Residence
School Food Services Eligibility Status Beginning Date
School Food Services Eligibility Status Determination
School Food Services Eligibility Status Ending Date
School Food Services Participation Basis
School Health Emergency Action
School ID from which Transferred
Score Interpretation Information
Screening Administration Date
Screening Instrument Description/Title
Section 504 Status
Service Plan Date
Service Plan Meeting Location
Service Plan Meeting Outcome
Service Plan Meeting Participants
Service Plan Signature Date
Service Plan Signatures
Social Security Number
Social Security Number (SSN)
Special Accommodation Requirements
Special Diet Considerations
Special Education FTE
State FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) Code
State of Birth Abbreviation
State Transportation Aid Qualification
State-assigned Code for Institution
State-assigned County Code
Student Program Status
Substance Abuse Description
Technology Literacy Status in 8th Grade
Telephone Number Type
Title I Instructional Services Received
Title I Status
Title I Supplemental Services: Applied
Title I Supplemental Services: Eligible
Title I Supplemental Services: Services Received
Title I Support Services: Services Received
Title III Immigrant Participant Status
Title III LEP Participation
Total Cost of Education to Student
Total Distance Transported
Total Number in Class
Transition Meeting Date
Transition Meeting Location
Transition Meeting Outcome
Transition Meeting Participants
Transition Plan Signature
Transition Plan Signature Date
Transition Service Description
Transportation at Public Expense Eligibility
Tribal or Clan Name
Tuberculosis Test Type
Tuition Payment Amount
Uniform Resource Identifier
Unsafe School Choice Offered Status
Unsafe School Choice Status
Ward of the State
Work Experience Paid
Work Experience Required
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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
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.
This week, an Edweek article focuses on Utah’s “robust” data collection system and portable “backpack” records that track students. The article doesn’t mention the fact that parents were never asked whether they wanted their children to be tracked (stalked) by the government. Nor does it mention the fact that parents have no recourse to opt out of this state surveillance program. (I know this because I asked and got a response from the State School Board.)
The article also fails to mention word one about the federal shredding of FERPA law (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) that takes away the parental consent requirement and makes students sitting ducks for snoopy vendors, federal snoops and virtually any snoop who calls himself an “authorized representative”. Check out the lawsuit against the Federal Department of Education for more on that.
The article does expose the fact that “In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports” new recommendations will be “tracking additional information” which has long being sought from numerous federal education agencies. Here and here and here.
And Utah law has created “data backpacks” so all student data is in one place. Here’s the lead to that article:
Utah Personalizes Learning With Portable Records
By Tom Vander Ark on August 7, 2013 9:25 AM Coauthored by Robyn Bagley and Tom Vander Ark
In October, Digital Learning Now! published Data Backpacks: Portable Records & Learner Profiles . The paper makes the case for portable academic K-12 transcript that follows students grade to grade and school to school. In addition to demographic information, state testing data, and supplementary student supports, the paper recommended tracking additional information in order to represent a more holistic picture of student achievement–such as a gradebook of standards-based performance data and a portfolio of personal bests–and better capture the student’s progression at any moment in time. Since this data would follow students to each new learning experience, learning could be tailored to meet their individual needs from the first lesson rather than the extra time teachers must spend diagnosing student needs and abilities.
Robyn Bagley, Parents for Choice in Education, saw the paper and knew Utah’s existing data system infrastructure gave them a big head start on a portable record. She talked to a champion of Ed Tech policy and personalized learning, Senator Jerry Stevenson who agreed to sponsor a bill. Together they were able to knock out this groundbreaking legislation in one session, placing Utah schools one step closer to tailoring education to the individual needs of the student by providing those closest to them with access to meaningful data.
The Student Achievement Backpack bill, Utah Senate Bill 82, was signed into law in March. It provides for access by a student’s parent/guardian or school/district to the electronic record. The bill gives schools until June 30, 2017 to fully incorporate the expanded record into their student information system.
When fully implemented, The Student Achievement Backpack will use cloud-based technology to create a common Student Record Store. Senate Bill 82 implementation will occur in three phases:
•Phase one creates a cloud-based repository for all grades.
•Phase two functionality will expand the data collected from student information systems into the Student Record Store.
•Phase three will ensure final mobility integration of all required data collected in the Student Record Store into all LEA student information systems; and made available to all authorized users in an easily accessible viewing format to include administrators, teachers and parents no later than June 30, 2017.
… Utah has one of the most robust longitudinal data collection systems in the nation due to federal grants adding up to nearly $15 million plus an investment of over $6 million appropriated by the Utah Legislature…
Read the rest here: