Archive for the ‘Democrats and Republicans agree’ Category

Why U.S. Education Needs the U.S. Constitution Now   3 comments

obama

Phillip Hamburger, law professor at Columbia Law School, gave a moving speech at Hillsdale College about the Constitution, also published in Imprimis this year.  It laid out more clearly than I’d seen it before, exactly how the U.S. has strayed from our Constitution, and how it’s endangering us.  His speech was titled, “The History and Danger of Administrative Law”.

Professor Hamburger made no allusion to education reforms, yet he wonderfully, as a bonus, happened to explain the foundational problem of the Common Core Initiative: that the governance system of Common Core is unrepresentative, unconstitutional and dangerous.  Here’s how.

Hamburger explained that administrative law revives something that the Constitution barred:  prerogative, or absolute power.  He wrote: “Administrative law is commonly defended as a new sort of power, a product of the 19th and the 20th centuries that developed to deal with the problems of modern society in all its complexity… What I will suggest, in contrast, is that administrative power is actually very old.”

Old is right.  Throughout history, countless generations suffered because others have wielded power over their lives.  The whole purpose of the suffering and sacrifices of American pilgrims and pioneers was to escape unbalanced, top-down, often cruel, power.  The success and freedom of the USA stemmed from the Constitution’s restraining of human power over other humans, and its strict limitation of its own government, and its checking and spreading of power, in order to avoid the cycle of oppression that the founders fled.  The Constitution gives no lawmaking power to anyone but Congress.

Hamburger said, “Put simply, administrative acts are binding or constraining edicts that come, not through law, but through other
mechanisms or pathways…In a way we can think of administrative law as a form of off-road driving… For those in the driver’s seat, this can be quite exhilarating. For the rest of us, it’s a little unnerving.

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Reading this, I thought about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who drove off-road when he made regulations and policy changes to what Congress had long ago created in the privacy-protecting federal FERPA laws, so that he could meet his education data mining goals, which included (as outlined in his cooperative agreements* with state testing consortia) the sharing of “student-level data” –subject to law. Duncan had to alter that law. He shredded the previously protective FERPA when he made those regulatory changes.   The Electronic Privacy Information Center sued him for it.  But Duncan got away with it.  Case dismissed.

I also thought of Duncan’s waving of money in front of cash-strapped states, tempting/coercing states into adopting Common standards and assessments and database systems in exchange for money.  Off-road again.  No basis in Constitutionality, just in cash.

I also thought about  the little unauthorized onto-the-road drive taken by a little private club with a misleading name, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) which acts as if it were a legitimate voice for the people, as if it were Congress.  NGA created, promoted and copyrighted these national standards, (the Common Core) as well as partnering with CCSSO in making national data collection standards (CEDS).  The CCSSO and NGA hold no representational authority over education.  It’s a giant bluff, and would almost be laughable, but it’s not funny, because it damages America.

I also thought about the blurring of lines of authority and power that happen with the creation of public-private-partnerships.  When NGA and its sister-club, the superintendents’ club, CCSSO, partnered with the federal government and with Bill Gates to create education policy, Common Core bypassed Congress in two ways: by federal overreach plus corporate overreach –into what ought to be the states’ voters’ decision making arena.

Here’s a screenshot, evidence that the federal government has partnered with the private club that copyrighted Common Core and created Common Data Standards:

ccsso eimac dept of ed ceds

Remember our Constitution.  It says that ALL legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress.  Congress is supposed to make the laws.  The Department of Education isn’t Congress. Neither is the National Governors’ Association, and neither is Bill Gates.  Their assumption of unauthorized power over education policy, rather than having voters, via their Congressional representatives, to determine how education goes, is a clear corruption.

So what about corruption? Who cares?

Here’s why we must care. Hamburger writes that administrative law is “essentially a reemergence of the absolute power practiced by pre-modern kings. Rather than a modern necessity, it is a latterday version of a recurring threat—a threat inherent in human nature and in the temptations of power.”

He reminds us: “Early Americans were very familiar with absolute power. They feared this extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated
power because they knew from English history that such power could
evade the law and override all legal rights… Americans established the Constitution to be the source of all government power and to bar any absolute power. Nonetheless, absolute power has come back to life.”

He goes on: “ over the past 120 years, Americans have reestablished the very sort of power that the Constitution most centrally forbade. Administrative law… binds Americans not through law but through other mechanisms—not through statutes but through regulations—and not through the decisions of courts but through other adjudications. It… requires judges to put aside their independent
judgment and defer to administrative power as if it were above the
law—which our judges do far more systematically than even the worst
of 17th century English judges. And it is consolidated in that it combines the three powers of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—in administrative agencies.”

He concludes:  “In sum, the conventional understanding of administrative law is utterly mistaken. It is wrong on the history and
oblivious to the danger. That danger is absolutism: extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated power. And the danger matters because administrative power revives this absolutism. The Constitution carefully barred this threat, but constitutional doctrine has
since legitimized this dangerous sort of power. It therefore is necessary to go back to basics…  We should demand rule through law and rule under law. Even more fundamentally, we need to reclaim the vocabulary of law: Rather than speak of administrative law, we should speak of administrative power—indeed, of absolute power...”

Read the rest here.

Thank you so much, Professor Hamburger.

imrs

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*Today, I noticed that the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia link says “webpage not available.” But I had typed it into another post, not in full but at length, if you are interested, here.

Education Commander David Coleman’s New Essay   7 comments

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Mark Twain said that it’s easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled.

Having tried and failed for (going on three) years to persuade Governor Herbert and the State School Board of Utah to withdraw from the Common Core Initiative and its snake oil data mining programs, I agree with Twain.

And I’ve stopped trying to figure out whether people who promote or go along with Common Core are witting villains or not, remembering my dad’s saying, that it doesn’t matter much if someone is a pawn or a knave; the results of their actions or inactions are the same.

Actual villains don’t have claws and fangs to tip us off, like characters in a Disney movie; they don’t even know they’re on team villain, in most cases. Out of ignorance and arrogance, most villains sincerely believe in their paths.

disney villian

 

Consider the case of David Coleman, who wrote the Common Core English Language Arts Standards and then snagged the gig of president of the College Board (the group that creates college entrance exams and writes the A.P. standards and tests).

Coleman’s villainy, in my opinion, really boils down to his own blinding pride.  As Homeschool Defense Association President Michael Farris smartly said: “I told Mr. Coleman… Just because you have a good idea (homeschooling in my case, Common Core in his case), it doesn’t mean that it is appropriate to force everyone in the country to follow your idea. And that is my central problem with the Common Core and all forms of centralized educational planning.”

It’s strange that Coleman, a non-teacher, a businessman, believed that he held the only vision for what was best for every American child’s education, and also sincerely believed that it was a veddy, veddy good idea to impose it, by unconstitutional means if necessary, on the entire nation.

Just watch the first minute of this video.

He admitted on this film that he went around talking governors into his vision. (It wasn’t the governors who thought of Common Core; it was Coleman.  Coleman didn’t realize that governors don’t have constitutional authority to represent voters in creating a national education system.)

But Coleman was so convinced of the superiority of his ideas that he successfully directed their imposition on K-12 schools throughout America, and then successfully altered college entrance exams to match his Common Core.  That’s a lot of power in one guy.

That’s a lot of nerve in one guy, too.  Where did he get the nerve to defy millions of teachers, years of time-tested tradition, simple logic and all due process?   I don’t know.

There have been excellent rebuttals to the David Coleman version of education– don’t know if anyone’s read them:  Dr. Thomas Newkirk, of University of New Hampshire, has written “Speaking Back to the Common Core,” one of my favorites.   Dr. Terrence Moore’s “The Storykillers” is another.

But recently, in response to Coleman’s completely mis-titled essay, “Cultivating Wonder” two additional educators have spoken up eloquently:  Professor Nick Tampio of Fordham University and teacher Peter Greene of Pennsylvania.

The purpose of my post today is to share what they have said.

Tampio’s and Greene’s reviews clarify what’s wrong with Coleman’s Common Core vision: 1) Faulty, narrow assumptions in the actual standards  2) The restrictiveness; in other words, even if the standards weren’t faulty, they are one person’s vision: we’re all stuck with his One True Vision.  Nobody else gets a voice.

Professor Nick Tampio writes that Coleman’s Common Core:

1.  Places “tight restrictions on what may be thought — or at least what may be expressed to earn teacher approval, high grades and good test scores.”

2. “Expects students to answer questions by merely stringing together key words in the text before them. This does not teach philosophy or thinking; it teaches the practice of rote procedures, conformity and obedience.”

3. Minimally discusses historical context or outside sources that may make material come alive.  “For instance, he suggests that teachers ask students, “What word does Lincoln use most often in the address?” rather than, say, discuss the Civil War.”

4. “Discourages students from making connections between ideas, texts or events in the world — in a word, from thinking. Students are not encouraged to construct knowledge and understanding; they must simply be adept at repeating it.”

5.  Imposes Coleman’s philosophy of education across all subjects. [Coleman] observes, “ ‘Similar work could be done for texts … in other areas such as social studies, history, science and technical subjects.’ Like a chef’s signature flavor, Coleman’s philosophy of education permeates the myriad programs that the College Board runs.”

6. Copies China’s test-centric system.  “U.S. schools have educated many successful intellectuals, artists and inventors. By contrast, the Chinese model of education emphasizes rigorous standards and high-stakes tests, pre-eminently the gaokao college entrance exam. Chinese policymakers rue, however, how this education culture stifles creativity, curiosity and entrepreneurship. The Common Core will lead us to the same trap. Educators should not discard what has made the U.S. a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

7.  Disrespects student individuality.  “In perhaps his most famous public statement, Coleman told a room of educators not to teach students to write personal narratives, because “as you grow up in this world, you realize that people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” This statement expresses, albeit more crassly, the same sentiment as his essay on cultivating wonder. He demands that students do what they are told and not offer their own perspectives on things.”

Pennsylvania teacher Peter Greene is likewise more than slightly annoyed at David Coleman.

Greene notes that Coleman is a “man who has singlehandedly tried to redefine what it means to be an educated human being.”

Greene writes, “Some reformsters may pay lip service to the accumulated wisdom of the vast army of professional educators; Coleman never does.”   Coleman “is not here to share some ideas and techniques teacher to teacher, but is here to give his superior insights to the nation full old lesser beings who are hopelessly lost and failing.”

In sum:

“Coleman repeatedly fails to distinguish between his own experience of the text and Universal Truth. This leads him to believe apparently that if he just figured something out about Bernardo, he must be the first person ever to see it, that his own reaction to a line is the universal one, that his path into the text is the only one, and that things that do not matter to him should not matter to anybody. Of all the reformsters, he is the one least likely to ever acknowledge contributions of any other living human being. For someone who famously said that nobody gives a shot about your thoughts and feelings, Coleman is enormously fascinated by and has great fait on his own thoughts and feelings.”

“…Coleman thinks a standardized test is really a great model of life, where there’s always just one correct answer, one correct path, one correct reading, and life is about showing that you have it (or telling other people to have it)…  what David Coleman doesn’t know about literature is what David Coleman doesn’t know about being human in the world. Life is not a bubble test. There is a richness and variety in human experience that Coleman simply does not recognize nor allow for.

His view of knowledge, learning, understanding, and experience is cramped and tiny. It’s unfortunate that circumstances have allowed him such unfettered power over the very idea of what an educated person should be.  It’s like making a person who sees only black and white the High Minister of National Art.”

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Thank you, Nick Tampio and Peter Greene.

Herbert’s Spending to Cement Utah to Common Core and Common Data Standards   Leave a comment

imagesgreen

The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it.  His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)

It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to.  The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his  report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government.  (See rebuttal to the report here.)

But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?

We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.

How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests?  (Not only that– we are now leading others along:  Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)

How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?

The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”.  The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”  

The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.

Sadly, these are lies.  The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.

This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology.  These are D.C. based systems.

Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children.  Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.

This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.”  This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice SolutionsUtrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.

Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data  financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.

That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature.  Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.

fish

It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s  copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.

The Governor’s new budget gives:

“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology  infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”

These  budgetary decisions do not educate.  They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.

Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?

Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.

The opposite is happening.

Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”.  Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20″ human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.

I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education.  Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.

Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.

 

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*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.

White House ConnectED: Phase Out Printed Textbooks   5 comments

connected

I already had a sense of growing nausea attached to my observations of locals’ infatuation with technology-centric schooling.

It got worse when I read the latest White House fact sheet on Obama’s ConnectEd plan.  Utah’s perfectly in line with  D.C. –the cool people are dumping the old fashioned notion of using books in schools to spend gobs and gobs and gobbledy-gob-gobs on technology.

Both the left wing (Obama’s ConnectEd plan) and the right wing (Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now) plan to gobbledy-gob our tax dollars on Common Core-aligned,  Common Data Standards-aligned technologies –always provided by the same little money-gobbling  clique.

Even embedded in the Common Core tests and curriculum is the trendy party line that books are out –because technology is in.

I’m not against technology.  I’m against foolishness.

Technology is a great, glittering servant. But it’s a terrible master.  Its imperfections can be disastrous.  But in Obama’s version of reality, it has no flaws and it deserves our full (tax dollar) attention.

In the White House fact sheet on President Obama’s ConnectED “Plan for Connecting all Schools to the Digital Age”  we read that traditional education, the kind that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were raised with, is to be discarded for solely technology-based education:

“Our schools were designed for a different era – based on a limited school day and a seasonal calendar. This system does not take into account the constant learning opportunities of global connectivity…”

(Recall that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been saying for many years that he wants students to attend school 6-7 days per week,  up to 14 hours per day, all year round. If you haven’t seen it before, watch that video clip here.)

ConnectED sounds appealing on the surface: upgraded connectivity, reaching out to rural students, exposing students and teachers to new technology.  It even appears, on first reading, that ConnectEd promotes local control: “purchasing choices remain in the hands of local educational leaders,” it says.

But remember: when the Gates-owned “Microsoft and its hardware partners unveiled a range of devices at various price points to help U.S. public schools make the digital transition,”  it promised: “all of the devices are Common Core testing compliant“.  Is there any actual choice here?

Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) is the unshakable shadow to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) –both of which which ConnectEd depends upon, and both CEDS and CCSS come from the same people:  The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –a private, unelected, nontransparent club of superintendents, financially backed by Gates.

CEDS common data standards ensure that all state databases (aka SLDS) match one another, and that all student and teacher information is fully labeled and compare-able.  Thus, there is no room for true diversity among states/schools in this system; no true freedom of thought, no true competitive soaring, just sameness.  And because CEDS are used in every state’s longitudinal database, are interoperable with the federal EdFacts Data Exchange, and are no longer protected by federal privacy law, it means also: no guarantee of student data privacy.

Fact:  “A continued commitment to disaggregation” of student data is a central goal of the CCSSO Council.  These facts make national school interoperability and connectivity sound a lot less peachy.

Still, the Obama and Jeb Bush clique is pushing for a one-size-fits-all national, matching technology system.  We are not just to receive the good things touted, like upgraded connectivity and new technology for kids;  we are also getting shackled to the CEDS/NCES data collecting system and to the Common Core testing system, and to the corporate educational products that are aligned to these systems.

Additionally, under the misleading subheading “Restoring U.S. Leadership in Vital Areas” the ConnectEd fact sheet touts the end of using actual books in schools, as a good thing.

“The United States is now falling behind… In South Korea, all schools are connected to the internet with high-speed connections, all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”

rose book

Why the hurry?  Are people afraid that if they question the race to “phase out books,” they will be labeled “against progress” and out of touch?  Are we backwards if we raise an eyebrow at the mad rush toward every student being hooked up to the internet?  What are the unintended consequences and opportunity costs of phasing out books and tangible libraries to bring about the brave new unvetted vision of Bill Gates, Marc Tucker, Sir Michael Barber, Obama and Bush?

Studies show that reading a paper-and-ink book is a better, more lasting learning experience than reading electronically.   For sobering reasons, top Silicon Valley computer experts send their children to technology-free schools.  Education systems can suffer when so many eggs are placed in one basket– and the basket falls. When we become overly reliant on technology, when technology is hacked or when it breaks; when it’s philosophically hijacked by software designers employed by narrow minded politicians, or when it is aligned with consent-less data mining,  what then?

Remember the smell of a book and the feeling of paper.  Are books suddenly worthless because they are not speedy, networked and electronic? If we don’t invest philosophically and financially in books, soon there won’t be many around.   

Please wake up, American leaders and Utah leaders.  We can find solutions for increased technology, free from the Obama-Bush-Gates clique’s narrow vision.

Let’s hold on to real books, real libraries, and the time-tested culture of academic  freedom and student data privacy.  Let’s shake off the chains of  common data, common testing, and common data mining that will bind our children down.

 

 books qu

Louisiana Senator’s Bill to Free States From Common Core   8 comments

Vitter

 

The Daily Signal reported yesterday that Louisiana Senator David Vitter has filed a bill that would help ease the way for any state to opt out of Common Core.

Breitbart News reported that Vitters used to be a Common Core supporter, but is now opposed.

Vitter’s new bill intends to enable states to more easily exit the national Common Core standards, which so many parents and educators now oppose, by voiding requirements attached to issued waivers from federal law. The Daily Signal reports: “States likely could retain their waivers from the law, called No Child Left Behind, even if they chose to pull out of Common Core.”

Breitbart News reported that Vitters explained why he changed his stance on Common Core:  “After listening to literally thousands of parents, teachers, and others…I don’t believe that we can achieve that Louisiana control, buy-in, and success I’m committed to if we stay in Common Core…

“First, Common Core is controlled by national groups and interests outside Louisiana… many Louisianans legitimately fear that it will become a federal government takeover of education under President Obama and his far-left allies.

“Second, Common Core is causing deep frustration and worse in many classrooms and homes, and not because of greater rigor… “It’s preventing lots of involved parents and teachers — our most important education leaders — from being effective and helping kids learn.”

Vitter added that a third reason for his change of heart is his view that “an entrenched few in public education are trying very hard to manipulate the Common Core controversy to greatly weaken or reverse accountability measures.”

Senator Vitters proposed that his home state:

  • Exit the Common Core PARRC testing consortium immediately and adopt a rigorous interim test that is not aligned with Common Core.

  • Have the Governor, Legislature, and BESE convene a blue-ribbon panel of Louisiana parents, teachers, experts from higher education, and business leaders to develop an updated system of rigorous Louisiana standards and testing outside of Common Core/PARCC.

  • Require that this new system be developed, debated, and adopted in a fully inclusive, transparent, and democratic way.

  • Implement it in a careful, methodical manner, unlike the roll-out of Common Core.

Thank you, Senator Vitter.

Is Idaho’s Battle Over– Or Just Starting?   2 comments

In November 2013,  and again in June 2014,  Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna rejected offers to participate in moderated, formal debates concerning the pros and cons of Common Core.  He did participate in one panel debate, to a packed house.   But Luna’s unwillingness to participate in further open debate is remarkable because, beginning in 2011, Luna was president, top dog at the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted the Common Core:  Council of Chief State School Officers.  Nobody should have felt more vested.  This article, a response to a recent Idaho Statesman interview  with Luna, comes by request.  Thank you, Stephanie Zimmerman.

 

Is Idaho’s Common Core Battle Over– Or Just Starting?

 

By Stephanie Zimmerman, Idaho mom/writer at Idahoans For Local Education

 

In the Nov. 30th Statesman interview granted by Tom Luna, I was not surprised to read Luna’s responses to the following questions:

Is the battle over Idaho Core Standards over?  “It is definitely over in the education arena. And my experience has been so far that it is primarily over with the vast majority of parents, but it is not over politically.”

How big were the Idaho Legislature education committee hearings on Common Core standards?  “I think it was an eye-opener to a lot of legislators and even people around the state who tuned in and listened because I think you heard a lot of the concerns that were raised – that were then shown to be not true: whether it’s the data we collect, who developed the standards, who has control of the standards. I have yet to have one person who says they oppose the standards tell me which standard it is that they oppose … If we do nothing else in education over the next three or four years, but continue to teach every kid to these higher standards, then measure students with this better assessment, then that is going to have more impact on improving student achievement than anything that we can do.”

Where to begin…
Common Core is just now (in the past three months) being fully implemented in Idaho’s schools.  How can Mr. Luna possibly say the battle is over –when it hasn’t even had a chance to begin??  Nowhere in the country was Common Core fully, fairly or publicly vetted or debated in legislatures, with parents, or with educators before it was quietly imposed upon us.  Most educators and parents are still learning the full implications of the Common Core .   More and more teachers are stepping forward with their concerns about the way children are being treated. Meg Norris, Kathleen Jasper, David Cox, Savannah Kucerak Mercedes Schneider  and Kris Nielson  are just a few who have made waves nationally by speaking out against Common Core.  Polls show  that the more parents know about it the less they like it.
four pillars of ed takeover
As more parents, educators, and legislators take even just a few minutes to educate themselves by reading source documents (instead of simply believing the talking points we’ve all heard) about the data being collected, who developed the standards, and who has control of the standards, an ever-increasing number of Idahoans will become concerned about the loss of our local control over our kids’ education.
Common Core is about far more than simply singling out which standard we do or don’t like.  It’s the reform package as a whole that’s the problem; the standards, assessments, data collection, tiered licensure (yes, that’s Common Core, too), and the star ratings system (which make our schools sound like a motel chain).
I wouldn’t care if these are the best standards in the world; I still wouldn’t want them in Idaho because of the federal strings and mandates that come with them.
Tom Luna is a man who was essentially defeated by Common Core.  His extreme political unpopularity began with his 2011 push to pass Students Come First, a set of educational reforms for Idaho that weren’t even his or his department’s original idea but that came straight out of the national Common Core playbook , and that only got worse as more and more people realized the role this former president of the CCSSO played in selling out our children’s future.
So, this particular battle may be over for Mr. Luna – we all know he’s moved on to bigger, better things.  But for those of us in the trenches, we know this is far from over.  We will continue to fight for local control of our children’s education.
Unfortunately for Tom Luna, his legacy will ultimately end up as the man who sold Idaho’s children’s birthright for a mess of pottage.
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Stephanie Zimmerman, author of this post, stands second from the right in the photo below. 
Mom meme

Video: Utah Dad Oak Norton’s Solution: 116 School Districts, Parents Empowered   Leave a comment

Utah Dad Oak Norton runs a yearly freedom-in-education conference and website called “Agency Based Education (ABE).”  At this year’s ABE conference in Provo, Utah, he presented an exciting, specific solution that could go a long way toward reclaiming local power over education.

He explained that if every high school in the state were to become its own district, rather than having 40 districts Utah would have 116.  This would almost triple the number of elected, local school board members, allowing much more personal, accountable leadership to take place.  It would mean that each board would be directly responsible to about 4,000 students rather than the current average of over 13,000 students.

Norton explained that empowering local parents by electing far, far greater numbers of them to local school boards, over smaller districts, echoes what the founders promoted, (which is exactly the opposite of what education reforms are doing today).

Jefferson said, “the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many…   What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body.”

This screen shot, from Norton’s presentation, shows the current Utah system versus what could be:

 

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The principles and ideas presented in this video could dramatically empower local control if legislators, encouraged by their consituents, would take notice.   Please watch and share this video.

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