Archive for the ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah’ Category

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

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.

 

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

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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.

Video: New York Forum on Taking Back Education from the Common Core Agendists   Leave a comment

This month in Wappingers Falls, New York, a panel presented concrete ideas for how to take back control of education from the federal government and from its corporate Common Core partners.

To these ideas, add the brilliant idea recently presented by Utah Dad Oak Norton.  View that here.

 

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.

Missouri Common Core Test Use Altered by Restraining Order   4 comments

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A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting [some aspects of] Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Update:  Missouri Education Watchdog has asked to make the following clarification/correction.  Here it is:

The TRO does not stop the state from implementing the SBAC test. It simply stops the state from paying any money to SBAC in the form of membership payments. The state will continue with its plans to administer the SBAC test in spring 2015, but the recently passed HB1490 prohibits the student scores from that test from being used in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determinations. They call it a “Pilot” test. The money we pay them would have to be classified as a purchase of SBAC… 

We were stuck in an odd situation where the company that serviced our previous test (we called it MAP) stopped providing that test in 2014 so continuing with that for another year while we develop new standards was not even an option. The legislature went for the easier temporary fix of allowing the state to use SBAC for our NCLB accountability while the new standards are being developed. They didn’t have the guts of KY to simply say we won’t be providing test data for a year. “

 

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   2 comments

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

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USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

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Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

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