Archive for the ‘arne duncan’ Tag
There’s a term too few people know about: “The Stalinization of Education.” I learned this from page 68 of the book by Professors Christopher Tienken and Don Orlich, “The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth, and Lies.”
The Stalinization of Education is a term that describes how America’s “No Child Left Behind,” “Common Core” and national testing are eerily similar to Stalin’s 5 year plan of over 70 years ago. How?
- There was the complete politicization of schools (today it’s form is “teaching for social justice”).
- There was the transformation of teachers from caretaker-nurturer to technician-like soldier, from child centered to test- or curriculum-centered.
- There was the conversion of teachers to a new party line (today it’s “environmental sustainability”)
- There was the altering of loose-tight to tight-loose controls over education. Secretary Arne Duncan used those exact words in his speech to the inter-american-development-bank (Ed secretary speech to a bank!?!) –recently.
- There was the removal of teachers’ use of intellectual skepticism, benevolence, spontaneity, and openness to an emphasis on militaristic strength, effectiveness and being political and curriculum-centered.
- Pay-for-performance transformed the definition of what a high quality teacher would be.
Academia has been bought by the Common Core pushers (Gates, Soros, Pearson).
And academia not questioning
the lack of empirical evidence behind the push the Common Core experiment is the promotion of educational malpractice. Common Core is absolutely intellectually dishonest. It’s academic fraud. But the highest ranking academics in our nation will not say so.
No one can explain this problem better than these guys do in this book
(it’s the book I mentioned on Glenn Beck
Still, it’s true that countless educators believe our educational system was so awful that it is worth giving up local constitutional control of standards, for the cure-all of supposedly much better standards.
In South Carolina’s Senator Mike Fair’s words, we need to show them that Common Core is a case of trading our birthright for a mess of pottage –but not even getting the pottage.
The real trade was actual education and actual local control, for one size fits all progressive education and no control.
America, we need to get smart about education reform. Fast.
Lesson one: when education reformers use the term “rigorous,” they mean to impress you. Don’t be impressed. One size fits all education can never be rigorous for every student. That’s like calling a mile run “rigorous.” It might be rigorous for the couch potatoes but it won’t be for the athletes. The term is meaningless when applied to every child and stripped of teacher input.
Lesson two: when education reformers use the term “high quality teacher,” they mean their version. Don’t buy the assumption that what they call a high quality teacher is what you imagine when you think of a great teacher. The new high quality teacher must be “effective” as a data-collector, test-prepper, and political indoctrinator of environmental and social justice agendas. Gone are the days when good teachers were characterized by benevolence, spontaneity, creativity, love, nurturing, and intellectual openness and honesty. A high quality teacher to the Dept. of Ed means one that pushes the line that the government wants pushed, one that no parent got to vote on.
Lesson three: when education reformers use the term “education reform,” they mean their version. It’s a tightly controlled, standardized, data-collection focused, collective-not-individual focused, environmentally-obsessed, social-justice promoting, uncreative form of education that has little to do with what a particular student needs or wants. Don’t buy the assumption that it’s actually improving education the way a reasonable parent or grandparent would want education to be improved! Ask for evidence and empirical studies to back up claims– always.
Lesson four: when education reformers use the term “internationally competitive,” they mean to intimidate you. Don’t be intimidated. The truth is that America turns out so many highly qualified college graduates that we can’t even employ them all. We are incredibly competitive internationally. Not only are we smart, but we are creative because we have been free. We innovate miracles in medicine, technology, entertainment and agriculture because we have not been stifled as so many other countries are. Watch this video.
Lesson five: when education reformers name-drop, (Harvard, Stanford, Fordham Foundation, Manhattan Institute, the P.T.A., etc.) they mean to marginalize you. Don’t be moved. Common Core is educational malpractice and many –even in academia– know it. Common Core is an untested experiment being pushed without empirical evidence as a foundation. Harvard, Stanford and countless other supposedly intellectual institutions have been literally bought with Bill Gates’ foundation money –bribed to say that the naked emperor is wearing clothes– and these establishments have, by taking Gates’ bribes, lost their ability to question the validity of the Common Core. Don’t listen to anyone’s academic reviews who has been paid to say Common Core is valid. That’s not honest; that’s gold digging.
Lesson six: when education reformers say Common Core is “state-led,” they mean to reassure you that it’s no threat to your constitutional rights. Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing state-led about Common Core. Legislators were completely bypassed. There was never a vote. There was never a public discussion. Most people in most states still don’t even know what the term Common Core means, much less feel they led the process. The standards were developed stealthily behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., by the NGA/CCSSO, two unelected groups who copyrighted the standards and who have provided no amendment process for any state to alter a single strand of a standard. And the federal government claims credit for pushing the standards on the states. Just listen to Sec. Duncan’s and Pres. Obama’s speeches on the subject. For example, see Sec. Duncan’s 2010 speech on “The Vision of Education Reform“:
“In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.” Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming.
But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked. That is an absolute game-changer in a system which until now set 50 different goalposts for success.
The second game-changer is that states have banded together in large consortia to develop a new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards.”
The unconstitutional, detrimental, top-down nationalization of education and usurpation of states’ rights to determine education has clearly and without question, occurred.
The thing that remains unclear is this: what are Americans going to do about it?
- Does every state have a federally funded, interoperable State Longitudinal Database System that tracks people throughout their lives? Yes.
Every state has accepted 100% federally funded data collection (SLDS). The Data Quality Campaign
states: “every governor
and chief state school officer has agreed to build statewide longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early childhood through K-12 and postsecondary ed and into the workforce as a condition for receiving
State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). A condition of getting the funding (ARRA money) was that the system would be interoperable
- Is the SLDS accessible by the federal government? Yes.
The SLDS grant
explains that the SIF (state interoperability framework) must provide interoperability from LEA to LEA, from LEA to Postsecondary, from LEA to USOE, and from USOE to the EdFacts Data Exchange.
The EdFacts Data Initiative
is a “centralized portal through which states submit data
to the Department of Education.”
The P-20 workforce council exists inside states to track citizens starting in preschool, and to “forge organizational and technical bonds and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions” for stakeholders both in and outside Utah. — http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
Is personally identifiable student information gathered, or only aggregate group data? Personal, identifiable, individual data is collected.
- Many of us in Utah were present last summer when UT technology director John Brandt stood up in the senate education committee and testified that there are roughly twelve people in the state of Utah who have access to the personally identifiable information of students which is available in the Utah Data Alliances inter-agency network of student data. So it is not true that we are talking about only aggregate data, which leaders often insist. The Utah School Board confirmed to me in writing, also, that it is not allowed for any student to opt out of the P-20/ SLDS/ UDA tracking system, (which we know is K-workforce (soon to include preschool) citizen surveillance.)
- Is the collected private student data accessible to agencies beyond than state education agency? Yes:
There are state data alliances that connect agencies. The Data Quality Campaign states: “states must ensure that as they build and enhance state K–12 longitudinal data systems, they also continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce (P–20/workforce) and with other critical agencies, such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
- What data will be collected? According to the new FERPA regulations, pretty much anything. Social security numbers, psychometric and biometric information (see pg. 4 and 6) are not off the table. According to the National Data Collection model, over 400 points. Jenni White mentioned another federal model that asks for thousands of data points.
- How does this affect parents?
Data linking changes being made in regulations and policies
make former privacy protection policies meaningless. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sued the Dept. of Education
, under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the Dept. of Ed’s regulations that changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in Dec. 2011 exceeded the Department of Education’s authority and are contrary to law
The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that it is not now a necessity for a school to get student or parental consent any longer before sharing personally identifiable information; that has been reduced to the level of optional.
“It is a best practice to keep the public informed when you disclose personally identifiable information from education records.” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf
Dec. 2011 regulations, which the Dept. of Education made without Congressional approval and for which they are now being sued by EPIC, literally loosen, rather than strengthen, parental consent rules and other rules. http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a
The Federal Register of December 2011 outlines the Dept. of Education’s new, Congressionally un-approved regulations, that decrease parental involvement and increase the number of agencies that have access to private student data: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf (See page 52-57)
Although the Federal Register describes countless agencies, programs and “authorities” that may access personally identifiable student information, it uses permissive rather than mandatory language. The obligatory language comes up in the case of the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and the states’ testing consortium http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
Effectively, there is no privacy regulation governing schools anymore, on the federal level. Khalia Barnes, a lawyer at EPIC disclosed that these privacy intrusions affect not only children, but anyone who ever attended any college or university (that archives records, unless it is a privately funded university.)
- Why did the Dept. of Ed need to alter FERPA regulations?
To match their data collection goals (stated in the Dept. of Ed cooperative agreement with testing consortia) which contracts with testing consortia to mandate triangulation of tests and collected data. This federal supervision is illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment). http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
- Who can access collected data?
The National Data Collection Model
(the federal request for what states ought to be collecting) represents 400 data points schools should collect and “it is a comprehensive, non-proprietary inventory… that can be used by schools, LEAs, states, vendors, and researchers”.
Vendors are already using this
- How can we get free of this system?
has provided expert testimony about the student data collection
, but has also said that an educational data monopoly is an issue, too. She explains that a group exists, including Bing, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., that assigns high or low attention to content and directs internet traffic. So if code uses hashtags and common core aligned taxonomies, your education data will get traffic. If not, it won’t. If you are searching for any educational data it won’t come up unless it’s using that coded taxonomy. This wrecks net neutrality and is, in her educated opinion, an anti-trust issue
of the internet. She mentioned the CEDS, (common element data system) that is ending net neutrality. She also finds appalling the Learning Registry
, funded by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, which is a place for teachers to advertise for common core aligned products– all using stimulus money.
- Why did the Dept. of Ed redefine FERPA’s meaning of the term “educational agency” to include virtually any agency and redefine “authorized representative” to mean virtually anyone, even a “school volunteer?
When FERPA is weak, linking of data allows easy access to data, both technologically and in terms of legal policy. It also trumps other laws, such as HIPPA. For example, as both Gary Thompson and Jenni White have pointed out, the new, weak FERPA law takes precedence over HIPPA (patient privacy) when medical or psychological services are provided in schools or when educational services are provided in jails.
In that document, states are obligated to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis,” to give status reports, phone conferences and other information, and must synchronize tests “across consortia”. This triangulation nationalizes the testing system and puts the federal government in the middle of the data collecting program.
For understanding of the motivation of the federal government, read some of US Dept. of Education Arne Duncan’s or Obama’s speeches that show the passion with which the federal agency seeks access to data to control teachers and educational decisions. http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.pdf
- Are teachers also to be studied like guinea pigs, along with students? Yes.
The Common Core of Data (CCD)
is another federal program of data collection that studies TEACHERS as well as students. It calls itself “a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.” http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
- How does Common Core relate to the federal and corporate data collection movement?
Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss at the Dept. of Education has been publicly quoted saying that “data-mashing” is a good idea. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gives speeches calling for ”more robust data.” And at the recent White House Datapalooza
, the CEO of eScholar stated that without Common Core tests being “the glue” for open data
, this data movement would be impossible.
Arne Duncan: U.S. Secretary of Education
This is the third in a countdown series of introductions, a list of the top ten scariest people leading education reform in America. For number 9 and 10 click here.
Before I begin, let’s remember a few pesky laws that make it illegal for Arne Duncan’s Department of Education (as part of the Executive Branch) to tell any state what to do about any aspect of education. States, not the federal government, hold authority over education. Period.
Under 1) the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA law) and 2) the U.S. Constitution, the Department of Education has zero authority. You already know the Constitution gives states authority over education in the tenth amendment. But did you know that federal GEPA law states this?
“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”) Translation: the Department of Education has no authority and nobody really knows why it exists at all.
This is, in some circles, common knowledge.
So topping the list of reasons that U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan is on the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list is this: he’s doing the wrong thing –and he knows it.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S MICROMANAGEMENT PLANS
“…We have tried to flip the traditional tight-loose relationship between the federal government and the states, where the federal government had been loose“
“…We have pursued a cradle-to-career agenda, from early childhood programs through postsecondary graduation… [the] final core element in our strategy is promoting a career-to-cradle agenda.”
Part of that agenda involves the creation of a school-centered rather than a family-centered nation. Duncan aims to make the schools the community center, to include health care clinics and after school programs and to extend school to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. He insists that America needs to extend learning time and says, “we have to learn to think very, very differently about time. I think our school day is too short. I think our school week is too short. I think our school year is too short.”
- In a June 2009 speech Duncan showed his aim to centralize power over education through tracking and data collection:
“[No Child Left Behind] let every state set its own bar and we now have 50 states, 50 different states all measuring success differently, and that’s starting to change. We want to flip that.”
“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career. We must track high growth children in classrooms to their great teachers and great teachers to their schools of education.”
“Robust data gives us the roadmap to reform.” (Who exactly is the “us” in a country that constitutionally gives zero authority to the executive branch over education?)
- In 2010 speech to Unesco Duncan showed how he consciously –though illegally– grows the federal intrusion into states’ running of education:
“Our goal for the coming year will be to work closely with global partners, including UNESCO” –Wait a minute. What business does UNESCO have in my state’s right to educate? It’s almost unbelievable that Duncan dares say this stuff out loud. But it does get worse.
“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…”
Reread that quote. Then check G.E.P.A. law, above. Really, Mr. Duncan?
Duncan has also admitted that the Common Core Standards were not state-led: “President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments,” he said, adding, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… To cite just one example, the department’s Race to the Top Program…”
–Quiet revolution is right. Virtually no one knows what Common Core really is.
In the most ironic line, Duncan called Common Core assessments the tests teachers have longed for. Seriously, Mr. Duncan. “Teachers will have the assessments they have longed for“? The truth is, teachers are lining up to sign a Dump Duncan petition because –the petition states– Duncan coerces states into using high-stakes tests and student test scores in the evaluation of teachers, as well as using test scores as a basis for closing schools; Duncan excludes and demoralizes teachers and discourages creative pedagogy, instead pushing assessments and “teaching to the test.”
- Most tellingly, we read Duncan’s Cooperative Agreement with the Common Core testing groups and we see even more micromanagement and data collection to come:
The Cooperative Agreement mandates that “the recipient [all the states under Common Core testing] will …provide updated, detailed work plans and budgets for all major activities… use and validation of artificial intelligence for scoring…. actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff… collaboration with the other RTTA recipient… be responsive to requests from ED for information… Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff … working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… foster synchronized development of assessment systems”
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S PRIVACY-KILLING FERPA ALTERATIONS
Secretary Duncan altered longstanding federal privacy law (FERPA) and loosened its parental consent rules and redefined its key terms. These alterations got his Department of Education sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, but for some reason, that doesn’t seem to be newsworthy. According to Khalia Barnes, the lead lawyer on the E.P.I.C. case, they’ve had virtually no press on the law suit.
She also told me that few people realize that it’s not just children who will be hurt by the alterations to privacy law. Any one, of any age, whose records are archived at any university that ever received federal funding, can have their data seen without their knowledge or consent.
The Department of Education has lied. It said that the FERPA alterations would improve student privacy, while the opposite is true. The regulations exceed the agency’s legal authority and expose students to huge privacy risks. The new rules permit educational institutions to release student records to non-governmental agencies without obtaining parents’ consent. The rules broaden the permissible purposes for which third parties can access students records. The rules also fail to safeguard students from the risk of re-identification.
Not newsworthy at all.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S REDEFINITIONS OF TERMS
Next, let’s look at the terms that our U.S. Secretary of Education has had redefined to better suit his purposes:
1) COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS. Did you know that ”college and career readiness” can now officially mean only one thing? It means having the same standards as other states. Odd! Check it out on the ed.gov website.
2) AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE – Did you know that an “authorized representative” has been redefined by the Dept. of Education (without Congressional approval) to expand privacy exemptions that had previously protected student privacy under FERPA law? And reinterpretations ”remove affirmative legal duties for state and local educational facilities to protect private student data.” Yes, the Dept. has been sued over this. Yet, ”authorized representative” can now mean anyone who wants to see student data, even “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions…” A volunteer can be “authorized” to see personally identifiable data without parental consent.
3) EDUCATION PROGRAM – Did you know that Sec. Duncan’s redefinition of “education program” now ”includes, but is not limited to” early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, special education, job training, career and technical education, and adult education, “regardless of whether the program is administered by an educational authority.” That last part is almost funny. But not.
4) DIRECTORY INFORMATION – Sec. Duncan made sure it would be allowable to “nonconsensually disclose a studentnumber or other unique personal identifier” and that directory information could include a name; address; telephone listing; electronic mail address; photograph; date and place of birth; major field of study; grade level; enrollment status, dates of attendance; participation in activities and sports; weight and height; degrees, honors and awards received; and educational institution attended.
5) BIOMETRIC DATA - in the Dept. of Education’s definition of “personally identifiable information,” biometric data 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. That one wins the creepy award.
SECRETARY DUNCAN’S ROLE IN WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION
Of all the reasons Secretary Duncan is scary, the cherry on top is his role in the Obama wealth redistribution agenda. With the help of Congressman Fattah (PA) and Congressman Honda (CA) Sec. Duncan was an architect of the wealth redistribution program known as The Equity and Excellence Commission, which is sliding under the public radar disguised as education reform.
Congressman Fattah explained what he and Duncan and Honda created: “The Equity and Excellence Commission I worked with Congressman Honda to initiate and that has been established by Secretary Arne Duncan will begin to close the gap in resource distribution between rich and poor…” The commission presents “a big and bold new vision on the federal role in education by recommending transformations in school funding structures.”
While Duncan more often employs the term “social justice” than the term “wealth redistribution,” the documents of his Equity and Excellence Commission reveal that they are one and the same. And Duncan does push for both. At a University of Virginia speech, Duncan said: “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.” At an IES research conference, he said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.”
FYI, social justice means governmentally-enforced financial equality; it means wealth and property redistribution.
We are not talking about philanthropy, compassionate, voluntary giving. We are talking about force.
After a recent town hall meeting, I stood in line to mention to my visiting Congressman that the Department of Education had gone behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA (family privacy law) that circumvented parental consent and broadened definitions of who gets access to personal student data, including nonacademic and family data.
This is, of course, dangerous to student privacy and ultimately, to citizen autonomy.
The Congressman said he was interested in more information about what the Department of Education had done. So, here is what I have shared, and I share it here, too, for anyone who’s interested in parental consent laws or student privacy protection.
The interplay of the several Dept. of Ed. actions reveal to me that a main reason the Executive Branch alloted so much money toward incentivizing Common Core to states, is this fact: common, national tests will collect so much data, to be perusable by the federal government –and others.
“Others” will include public-private-partnerships (PPP’s) as modeled by global-education sales giant Pearson. Pearson’s CEA, Michael Barber –who is quoted often and praised by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan– says that education standards should be the same globally, and that global data must be perused “without borders”. See Pearson’s new global education data bank .
Arne Duncan is aware of the limitations of the federal role in educational decision making and data collection, legally, in America.
Still, he meddled. He altered the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations to benefit the Dept. of Education’s testing/data collection goals; the FERPA alterations will continue to benefit corporations, notably Pearson; and will link to various state and federal agencies under the Data Quality Campaign. Any “authorized representative” who claims to be a “stakeholder” –even a school “volunteer” can access the now loosened rules about seeing personally identifiable information (PII) unless a school refuses to collect it in the first place. You will notice that the Federal Register speaks out of both sides of its mouth about loosening and preserving privacy rights. It is impossible to do both, and the Dept. of Education has not done both.
It loosened the requirement that school systems previously were under; previously, schools had to get parental consent (or above 18-yr-old students’) consent, before sharing data. It also altered definitions of terms including “directory information” and “educational agency.” Very dangerous stuff.
The alterations by the Dept. of Education really need a context, to understand the motives, and why the Dept. didn’t wait for Congressional approval.
So, in addition to recommending you read the incredibly boring but vital Federal Register vol 76.232: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/html/2011-30683.htm which laid out the alterations to FERPA– in addition to that, I’m also recommending reading:
1. A link to the lawsuit filed by EPIC (Electronic Privacy Info Center) against the Dept. of Ed: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
2. A “Cooperative Agreement” – another super boring but vital “governmentspeak” document that shows the Sec. Arne Duncan micromanagement and oversight that the Dept. of Ed plans to have over citizen data, via national test consortia: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
3. A link to the National Data Collection Model’s recommended data points, for schools to collect (including health-care history, family income, nicknames, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stop times among other pieces of information on the student and the families. http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
4. The official White House push for “robust data” for tracking of citizens (students): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ed_data_commitments_1-19-12.pdf and by Sec. Duncan: http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html
5. The SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) information. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/index.asp SLDS was bought with ARRA Stimulus money; every state bought one and they must be interoperable; they track students/citizens using personally identifiable information that includes biometric, psychometric, nonacademic and academic info.
6. A link to the Race to the Top application, since it shows that one of the points necessary was the SLDS people-tracking database. http://www.schools.utah.gov/arra/Uses/Utah-Race-to-the-Top-Application.aspx The No Child Left Behind waiver pushes the same thing. See: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/federalized-education/facts-about-the-no-child-left-behind-waivers/ and http://pdflike.com/read.php?url=http://www.nsba.org/SchoolLaw/Issues/NCLB/NSBAFederalGuidanceDocumentsandPublications/ESEA-Flexibility-Request.pdf
7. Another link to how FERPA alterations of the USDE allow DNA, fingeprints, voiceprints and other biometric records to be used to identify persons. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf This link states: “’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.”
By stealth, and by financial incentivization to states (increasingly to school districts directly, in states that rejected Common Core data collection tests), it appears that the Department of Education used school systems to create a strong citizen surveillance web, better known as “robust data.”
It turns out that the Constitutional rights-saving fairies are off duty. They’ve left it up to you and me.
We, the People, must call the Dept. of Education on this.
Months ago, I said that I was wishing we could move to Texas or Virginia because they were the only two states that had wisely, and 100%, rejected the Common Core.
But I would not move to Texas now.
While Texas escaped the Common Core, it got something equally bad in its place: CSCOPE.
One Texas science teacher who blogs extensively about CSCOPE http://www.txcscopereview.com/ has written that “CSCOPE and Common Core Standards are the same, just in different wrapping.” She says if parents don’t stop district superintendents, they will give away Texas schools to the federal government in return for money.
I repost her article here with thanks for enlightening all Americans, not just Texans.
CSCOPE: Texas Renowned Science Author Banned
By Janice VanCleave
January 19, 2013
As a science writer, I work with many educators and online curriculum companies. I’ve written 50+ science activity books for kids and educators, thus I can say without being immodest that I understand the basics of science. Since the content of my books cover all the topic taught in taught in elementary science, I can with confidence claim to be an expert in elementary science.
Some of my books are translated into fifteen different languages. Google my name and you will find over one hundred thousand sources.
I am not much on tooting my own horn, but the CSCOPE directors are not taking me seriously. They have banned me from viewing the CSCOPE lessons. This has made me even more curious about what this group, called the TESCCC, is hiding. What are in the CSCOPE lessons that not even parents can view?
Teachers are anonymously supplying me with copies of the CSCOPE lessons and assessments because they are concerned about the education of their students. They have good reason to be concerned. The CSCOPE lessons are poorly written and many are incorrect or misleading.
Since CSCOPE lessons are not transparent, how do you know they align with the TEKS?
§ CSCOPE lessons do not align with the TEKS.
§ CSCOPE lessons do not have the rigor required by TEA.
Parents: Your school administrators are not telling you the truth about CSCOPE. This is an unapproved supplementary material. It has nothing to do with the state. It is all about the money. Textbook funds are being used to RENT CSCOPE each year. Listen up! CSCOPE is online and your superintendent is paying $7.00 to $10.00 per student each year just to view the material. NOTE: CSCOPE has never been evaluated independently.
I’ve reported errors in the CSCOPE lessons, such as how gravity affects the motion of objects.
When it comes to the effects of gravity, I have more experience than most educators. Few have had the opportunity to investigate changes in gravity due to the flight path of NASA’s “Vomit Comit,” a plane that had been used to train astronauts and later was used for zero gravity investigations.
Prior to and after this flight, I spent time researching the effects of gravity and have a very good understanding of its effects.
CSCOPE has mystery authors as well as mystery science experts who are never identified. The CSCOPE science experts make the decisions about the science being taught to Texas children in CSCOPE schools. They use no science books, so kids are at the mercy of CSCOPE mystery science experts.
The CSCOPE assessment are the worst example of testing I’ve ever viewed. Not only do the questions often not relate to the lessons, but the answers are incorrect or there are no answers.
For example, the fifth grade lesson on forces has no investigation related to gravity. But one of the assessments is all about the effects of gravity of an object on a ramp. As is too often done, the assessment question is not grade appropriate. See for yourself the errors in a CSCOPE 5th grade force assessment for two consecutive years. This will give you proof that CSCOPE directors do not improve the CSCOPE instruction material — not even when errors are pointed out to them. While I am not wasting time sending in errors, I will do what I can to publish the errors and corrections.
If CSCOPE directors were interested in education, they would be encouraging veteran teachers and experts in education to identify errors in the CSCOPE instruction materials. Instead, veteran teachers as well as experts in specific subjects are vilified by the administrators and CSCOPE directors.
Actually I am being nice. I was courted so to speak by CSCOPE directors and encouraged to work with them. I could have been a CSCOPE consultant, maybe even have my name listed along with atheist Linda Darling-Hammond and Marxist Lev Vygotsky —YIKES! For this degradation of my name, I had to sign a gag-order promising never to reveal the content of CSCOPE. After viewing some of the CSCOPE lessons, I can understand why authors of CSCOPE material do not want their names published. I decided to “pass” on this offer. Instead, I asked and received from teachers CSCOPE lessons. They are much worse than I ever thought possible. It is understandable that the CSCOPE directors do not want the public to view this material. It does not align with the TEKS and was never designed to do so.
As to rigor, not even TEA knows what this means, but CSCOPE claims to have it.
I originally requested copies of the CSCOPE lessons to help tutor elementary kids in Marlin ISD. This was about 14 months ago and these elementary kids still have no science or math textbooks. Nothing has changed. The school still uses CSCOPE, which provides no instructions for students. Technology–HA!!! CSCOPE has nothing for students except a list of websites, many sites that parents would not allow their children to access at home.
How could I tutor kids when I had no clue what they were studying? Note that the Marlin elementary school has failed the state tests six consecutive years. One would think help would be appreciated. Not so. In fact, Marsha Ridlehuber the interim superintendent at the time, was most unpleasant when I met with her. This woman looked me in the eyes and said that CSCOPE is copyrighted; thus, CSCOPE lessons cannot be viewed by the public–not even parents.
Copyrighted? Was this woman crazy? No! She actually was getting away with this stupid answer. Of course she added what has been coined as CSCOPE Educaneze, which are terms that have been made up by the CSCOPE directors. Basically, the CSCOPE Educaneze is used in an effort to intimidate some parents and make the news media think CSCOPE really has substance. But it doesn’t.
All the Educaneze floating out of Ridlehuber’s mouth brought to mind Shana Twain’s song, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”
At this point I was not sure what was going on. Had the superintendent really said textbooks were not used because they don’t provide the rigor required by the state standards?
Instead, the online program called CSCOPE was being used. and it had secret lessons because they were copyrighted. Thankfully the program director of Faith, Hope and Charity, an after school program, accompanied me to this meeting. Someone else heard this absurd conversation.
I asked Rhidlehuber how parents could find out what was being taught to their children. Ridlehuber said parents could visit their children’s classes if they wanted to know what was going on. What a pompous, rude response.
Having parents visit classrooms in order to know what was being taught was a stupid suggestion, but one that I was happy to make happen. Thus, I asked what procedure parents needed to follow to schedule their visits. Obviously, Ridlehuber had made a tongue-in-cheek comment and now was forced to resend it. The answer was that parents have to have an FBI clearance to visit their children’s classrooms.
I was no longer interested in volleying stupid ideas around but had every intention of viewing the CSCOPE lessons. I contacted the local Region Service Center, ESC-12 and spoke with Becca Bell, the CSCOPE director. Same response with a little extra added. As a published author, I am considered a vendor and can view the lessons if I sign a non-disclosure document stating I’ll not reveal what I see. Are these people crazy?
I felt like I’d stepped into the Twilight Zone. “Beam me up Scotty, there is no intelligent life down here.”
Had I actually discussed Texas education with President George Bush? Yep! I was not sold on his idea of “No Child Left Behind.” It is not realistic to think that teachers can provide individualized instruction for every student, especially now that children of all ability levels are mixed together in one class.
Obama’s catchy education phrase is “Race to the Top.” CSCOPE and Common Core Standards have embraced both slogans. With CSCOPE, a mandatory schedule is dreamed up by some unknown author. Teachers are forced to stick to this timeline. They are even rated low on performance if they don’t. CSCOPE directors have no clue if the schedule is doable. Education is not the objective. Instead, the objective is control. Control over the teachers so that they will do what they are told. Teach what they are told to teach, no questions asked. CSCOPE directors train administrators to view veteran teachers as being negative instead of listening to their constructive criticism of CSCOPE. Young teachers with no experience are easier to mould.
The CSCOPE schedule is much like a race and many students fall behind. But, there is no time in the schedule to reteach. Stragglers are not left behind, instead teachers just carry on with the next lesson. According to CSCOPE directors, kids that don’t understand will eventually figure it all out and all the kids will cross the finish line together. YEA! This is the CSCOPE and TASA [Texas Association of School Administrators] vision that all kids are equally educated.
Yep! The accelerated classes and basic skills classes will in time be one happy group, all functioning on the same level. Since CSCOPE promotes that education is more about experiences and how students feel about things than facts, this could happen. The US students would all be equally under-educated and easily controlled.
Are we there yet? Is this what you want for your children and grandchildren?
It didn’t make sense that public school lessons were not transparent to anyone. I contacted the Texas State Board of Education, Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. and about everyone I could think of including Rep. Rob Eissler, who was chair of the House Education Committee.
In late January, 2012, Wade Labay (State CSCOPE Director) and Ed Vera (State CSCOPE Instruction Director) at Region 13, drove from Austin to Marlin, Texas, to meet with me. Along with Becca Bell, Region 12 CSCOPE director, Rhidlehuber, and the Marlin curriculum director, the five of them had planned for me to come alone and they would convince me how wonderful CSCOPE is.
I arrived with Ginger Russell, my daughter, and Earl Johnson, both members of the Woodland’s Tea Party. The CSCOPE group was shocked that I was not alone. They repeated several times, “We thought you would be alone!”
The CSCOPE group refused to allow the meeting to be videotaped.
Ed Vera had brought a copy of one of my books and he asked me to sign it for a friend. Soon after this meeting, Ed sent a petition to the Texas Attorney General (TAG). In the petition Ed asked the TAG to protect CSCOPE from me and other vendors who might write a competitive product if allowed to view the content of the CSCOPE instruction materials.
WHAT! One day I am autographing a book for the State CSCOPE Instruction Director, and Wade Labay (State CSCOPE Director) is inviting me to join the CSCOPE team. Then they reported me to the TAG as not being trustworthy.
Speaking of being trustworthy—Teachers are still reporting that some CSCOPE lessons are plagiarized. I was sent a section of a first grade CSCOPE weather lesson that is either deliberately plagiarized or someone “forgot” to credit the website source because the information was directly copied word-for-word. The lesson was quickly taken off the CSCOPE website when it was reported. Must have been time to retire this lesson, like the following Islamic power point.
Neither Wade Labay, Ed Vera, nor Becca Bell from Region 12 had a clue what was in the CSCOPE lessons. Becca said other people read the lessons. Ginger pointed out the 25 colored power-point slides used to teach world history students about Allah and the Islamic religion. Labay seemed genuinely surprised and within weeks I was contacted by Labay that the slides were removed— Not because of the content of the slides, but as a general clearing out of older materials.
I assume this means that at any time comparable material may again be part of the CSCOPE lessons for our children.
One selling point for CSCOPE is that 80% of the Texas school districts have purchased it. The CSCOPE directors point this out and use it as proof that CSCOPE is wonderful. NOT SO! Our Texas superintendents know little-to-nothing about education, but they do understand perks if they follow the TASA leaders. TASA stands for Texas Association of School Administrators. With no shame or fear of consequences, in 2006, TASA published its education mission, which aligns with the federal government’s takeover plan for American schools.
CSCOPE, which has the same Socialist education philosophy being promoted by TASA, entered some Texas schools in 2006. At first, schools had to use local tax money to purchase CSCOPE. No problem, school board members are elected with the public thinking these members represent them. But, TASA took care of this problem. Via, TASB, Texas Association of School Boards, school board members have been trained? –coerced?– bribed? or made an offer they can’t refuse to allow the superintendent to make all the decisions.
Decisions, such as using local tax funds to pay for their TASA/TASB membership dues as well as finance TASA/TASB conferences, amount to tens of thousands of dollars for each school district.
Since TASA has robbed schools of their local school taxes, there is money to pay lobbyists to deceive legislators into proposing and passing legislation, such as Senate Bill 6. I am trying to understand how this happened. But hopefully giving superintendents the right to use student textbook money to purchase unapproved materials, such as CSCOPE, will be viewed as not being such a good idea.
Superintendents do have to sign a statement that what they purchase provides instruction for every element of the TEKS. BIG DEAL!! Who checks to see if this is true? NO ONE!
What happens if it can be proven that CSCOPE does not align with the TEKS? NOTHING! There is nothing on the record about punishment. The same is true with Thomas Ratliff who is a lobbyist and is serving on the Texas State Board of Education. The TAG says it is not legal. SO WHAT? Ratliff does what he pleases–why? Only law-abiding people obey the law. If it is illegal, they don’t do it or if they do they expect to be punished. Not Ratliff. No punishment is on the books. Now this makes a great Texas history lesson for our kids.
This must be Ratliff’s motto: “Do anything you want to as long as you can get away with it.”
I have gone to the Geographic South Pole, not because I like snow and ice. Instead, I was there doing an experiment designed by students. This was an enrichment activity that any child regardless of where they live, age, ability, etc.. could be involved in. Sadly, if the project were being done now, CSCOPE teachers would not be allowed to be involved. They are being trained to do nothing that is not on the CSCOPE schedule and it must be done within the time frame that is set in stone.
Prior to the hostile takeover of Texas Public Schools by CSCOPE, authors, such as me, presented special programs to students. Programs that included activities, such as measuring how far the Geographic South Pole moves toward the ocean each year. Note in the picture above, the poles in the distance. The first pole is marked with a green flag. This was the pole that marked where the south end of Earth’s axis exits Earth. The position of the axis doesn’t change, but the ice the pole is stuck in moves. A new pole is positioned each year.
The picture to the right shows me at the frozen edge of the Arctic Ocean on the coast of Barrow, Alaska.
[Please go to http://www.txcscopereview.com/2013/tx-renowned-sci-author-banned/ to view the photos. – Donna Garner]
I dislike what CSCOPE is doing to our schools. I plan to continue screaming about CSCOPE until someone listens. REALLY LISTENS!
I want children to do more than make posters and tri-folds that are considered science investigations. I want kids to have opportunities to really learn by discovery.
CSCOPE and Common Core Standards are the same, just in different wrapping. If you don’t stop your superintendents, they will give away our Texas schools to the federal government.
Someone! Please look Governor Perry in the eyes and tell him that TASA is making him look stupid.
The TASA president is in Washington learning how to implement the federal government’s Common Core standards in our Texas schools. Will someone in Austin get the attention of Governor Perry and let him know that TASA has no concern about his statement that Common Core will not be used in Texas Schools? If Governor Perry doesn’t take action, our disloyal school superintendents will have Common Core Standards filling the CSCOPE framework by fall of 2013. CSCOPE directors have already lined up the online textbook and resource materials to sell to schools to support the Common Core Standards.
- Janice VanCleave
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Thank you to Janice VanCleave for sharing this work and for promoting educational freedom and quality of education.
Here’s a link to the full text of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 global transformation plan: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/index.html
I take particular interest in these three chapters: 25, 24, and 36, as a teacher and as a mother.
Chapter 25 – the one about children: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-25.htm
Chapter 24- the one about girls: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-24.htm
Chapter 36- the one about education: http://habitat.igc.org/agenda21/a21-36.htm
If you are new to governmentspeak, you won’t see many red flags. It’s not until you slow down and really think about what they are writing (and not writing) that you begin to see how twisted this Agenda 21 really is.
From Chapter 25: “Ensure access for all youth to all types of education… ensure that education… incorporates the concepts of environmental awareness and sustainable development throughout the curricula…”
Did you catch that? Throughout curricula, that means in every single class– spelling, grammar, science, English, math, history, technology, art, languages, sports, student government, debate, home economics, and the rest– students must be learning environmental awareness and sustainable development? Does that not strike you as dogmatic- almost crazy?
Also from Chapter 25: ” Consider…recommendations of… youth conferences and other forums that offer youth perspectives.”
–On first reading, that sounds fine, right? Listening to young people. What could possibly be wrong with it?
Well, look up “Delphi Technique” when you have some time on your hands.
There are sustainability youth “conferences” happening right now that are clearly little more than the globalists’ politically motivated indoctrination camps.
After youth spend time ”dialoging” about environmental issues –where the dialogue is being controlled by Agenda 21 activist facilitators– those facilitators will take the youth recommendations back to headquarters. Nice. Here’a a link to such a youth conference. All 14-year-olds and up are cordially invited to be totally immersed in the green, anti-sovereignty, anti-constitution, pro-collectivism, pro-communist, environmental agenda: http://www.agenda21now.org/index.php?section=home
It should not be creeping into our schools. But it is.
Teachers are being taught to teach sustainable development across the curricula.
The U.S. Department of Education is pushing it. http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/greening-department-education-secretary-duncans-remarks-sustainability-summit
Secretary Duncan says in the above linked speech, “Educators have a central role in this… They teach students about how the climate is changing. They explain the science behind climate change and how we can change our daily practices to help save the planet. They have a role in preparing students for jobs in the green economy. Historically, the Department of Education hasn’t been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner.”
And here: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001433/143370e.pdf Unesco promotes “Guidelines and Recommendations for Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability”
It’s obvious that teachers are being pushed in the direction of Agenda 21 without knowing it’s a political agenda. The Agenda 21 tenets, such as the supposed importance of limiting human reproduction, of limiting building, sports or recreational activities that touch grass, oceans or trees; of limiting airplane and car use, or of believing that there is human made global warming, are not settled facts among scientific communities (or in religious ones, for that matter.) Yet teachers are supposed to teach them as settled facts, as doctrine.
Please have the courage to say no if you are a teacher, a school board member, a principal, or a parent.
Even if you happen to believe in the tenets of Agenda 21, such as global warming, population control, or putting plants above or equal with humans’ needs, do you believe that all children should be subject to these teachings, regardless of what their parents or teachers or churches believe?
Shouldn’t a child be taught to weigh competing theories and judge empirical evidence for his/herself, rather than accepting a dogma blindly? Isn’t that what education is supposed to mean?
Yukon College Professor Bob Jickling’s article on this subject is worth reading: “Why I Don’t Want my Children to be Educated for Sustainable Development”
Remember Inigo Montoya’s quote in The Princess Bride? ”You keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The way that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and the writers of the education chapters of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, use words, remind me of that quote –continually.
They keep using these words. I do not think they mean what we think they mean.
Examples of words that mean the exact opposite of how they sound:
- “social justice” – it really means stealing, the “redistribution of weath”
- “college and career readiness” – it really means Common Core, having the exact same standards as virtually everyone else on earth (See Ed.gov definitions: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions
- “accountability” – it really means top-down control, not mutual accountability
- “world class education” – it really means having the same –which is mediocre at best– the same education as every other country in the world
- “globally competent” – it really means acting out the “sustainable development” agenda which seeks to erase individual sovereignty.
- “teacher improvement” – it really means getting rid of the teachers –and teachings– that do not agree with the fanatical “sustainable development” agenda, as agreed upon by the United Nations and the U.S. Department of Education.
Alisa Ellis made this last point, about “teacher improvement” in her talk. –Among many, many other important things.
How fast are our leaders negatively transforming U.S. Education and removing parents from the process since the election?
Ten days after the election, our Secretary of Education announced a new direction in which the US will partner with the UN and Common Core will be the vehicle for “International Education.”
Then, the Utah State Board of Education announced a $39 million contract with American Institutes for Research (AIR) an extremely liberal international organization with ties to one-world promoters Bill and Melinda Gates and socialist George Soros. AIR collects data on school children and plays a very active role in projects dealing with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) youth, Civil Rights, social and behavioral issues, and international health care.
How many parents know AIR is the group writing their child’s new school tests?
Then, just this week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch voted to bring a very dangerous UN Treaty to the floor of the Senate which Harry Reid will push into a vote. It takes parental rights away in favor of a UN committee to decide what is best for the “rights of the child”.
Please call and write your representatives.
Duncan Sketches Out Second-Term Agenda – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
This above linked article’s highlights:
- The Department of Education is not releasing key data and asks us to take their word for the fact that supposedly, 2/3 of schools are seeing improvements under Secretary Duncan’s reforms.
- Secretary Duncan “reaffirmed his committment to using federal incentives as a lever for education policy changes. In his first term, that leverage came in the form of $100 billion in education aid from the 2009 federal economic-stimulus package, and later, from the announcement that the administration would grant waivers and flexibility from key parts of the NCLB law.”
- [This Duncan speech was made to a self-appointed group, the CCSSO, which holds a copyright on the Common Core federally-approved national education standards. ] The article says Gene Wilhoit, the CCSSO’s executive director, is retiring—passing the torch to Chris Minnich. And one of the group’s board members, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who helped create a separate group of “Chiefs for Change,” was not re-elected. He did not attend the meeting, but his successor and the victor in that race, Glenda Ritz, did. [This is a big deal because it was the Indiana parents against Common Core who helped educate the voters and helped give Tony Bennett the boot. Hallelujah!]
See another commentary on the same subject of SIG (School Improvement Grants):
I like what Andy Smarick has to say about the fact that the Dept. of Education just spend billions on education reforms that did not work. He writes:
“Now we face a fork in the road.
We can do what we’ve done for decades. That would mean allowing this story to get buried or, despite the evidence, hoping that SIG results will improve if we only give the program more money and time. Then, in a decade or so, some other contrarian blogger can add SIG to the long list of failed turnaround efforts.
Or we can finally recognize that we’re dealing with a much bigger problem. We can accept that “turnaround” efforts are not a path to ensuring low-income urban kids get a great education; that dysfunctional schools are a function of dysfunctional districts; that we need to close these schools, open new schools, and allow great schools to replicate and expand.
In other words, we need a new approach to the ongoing failure of our city school systems—one that stops behaving as though the broken schools of yesterday need to be the schools of tomorrow, one that stops jamming scarce resources into dysfunctional systems that remain impervious to reform and improvement.
Said another way: The traditional urban school system is broken. It cannot be fixed. It must be replaced. “
The American Principles Project and Concerned Women for America of Georgia have created the following high-quality videos. The videos in the five part series explain what Common Core is.
Wasatch County School Board: Cowley, Kelson in front; Jones, Baird, Horner in back.
I would be happy to sit by them at the Heber rodeo or say hello at the grocery store, but I would not cast a vote for a single one of these nice people. Sorry.
I’d put up a yard sign for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson, though.
The old school board might be good people. But part of that goodness does not include studying what the heck is going on in American education today.
There’s been a national betrayal in public education and they don’t even know about it. Not studying it and not informing the local citizens, teachers and parents of students of both sides of the issue is irresponsible.
They let the state board call the shots without listening to parents or teachers. The state board defines Common Core for all. But the state board is guided by the Common Core-promoting philosophies of Sir Michael Barber, CEA of Pearson; the SBAC’s socialist Linda Darling-Hammond, bomber-and-education reformer Bill Ayers, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama. Extremists.
These local incumbents don’t seem to perceive how the state board’s tolerance of Common Core is damaging. Their unwillingness to study these issues deeply and diligently will hurt us.
The district website still sings the praises of the highly controversial Common Core.
Check it out. Compare what they say, below, to what Utah’s Sutherland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Boston’s Pioneer Institute, Bill Evers at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, or thousands of other patriotic, education-loving, anti-Common Core parents, teachers and intellectuals have to say:
Here’s the local board’s side of it: http://www.wasatch.edu/cms/lib/UT01000315/Centricity/Domain/27/Common%20Core%20FACTS%20revised.pdf
NPR news: http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/2012/09/26/why-common-core-academic-standards-are-dividing-republicans-on-education/
Education Week and Romney’s stand on Common Core: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/09/mitt_romney_doesnt_think_the.html
Here’s Sutherland’s several: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/article_detail.php?id=3276&type=Press+Releases
Pioneer Institute’s several: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf
Heritage Foundation’s: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/03/indiana-superintendent-obama-administration-nationalized-common-core-standards/ and http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states
Thousands of Utahns who signed the petition: http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com
— and there are so many more who have pointed out that ”facts” about Common Core, as they are being presented by our school board on our local district website, are simply not true, or are only half-truths. It is quite sobering.
So, why do they do it? Why not show the facts and the national dialogue about Common Core, to be transparent about the pros and cons and real concerns of teachers, students, and parents? I do not know. But I have a solution.
Solution: vote them out. Vote for people who will study the issues, and who won’t rubber stamp everything Arne Duncan’s troops and the state board push as “good for” the local people.
Vote for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson.
Wilma Cowley, nice and grandmotherly though she is, simply does not return emails. It is not acceptable to ignore the community that voted for you in the first place and to disregard serious concerns.
She refuses to study the pros and cons of Common Core and refuses to explain why. She never says anything during the school board meetings and just allows others to talk. Kind, adorable, but not tough and not diligent in researching enough.
Her opponent, Mark Davis was willing to meet with concerned citizens and was willing to listen to our concerns about the dramatic changes in the way our state collects student data (via the Utah Data Alliance, the State Longitudinal Database, and the P-20 child tracking systems.)
He was also open to hearing the truth about Common Core. He was not automatically buying all the drooly praise that Obama and his educational elites offer concerning the Common Core without seeing some references. He is no wimp. He stands up for what he believes in, which I know only because he told us some stories that I don’t have permission to share here.
Vote Mark Davis.
Shad Sorenson said, in the “Meet the Candidates” forum, that he was glad Utah had backed out of the SBAC testing consortium. So he gets it. He understands that Common Core hurts local control.
I prefer Shad Sorenson to Jen Kelson because Shad has done some homework on Common Core, which Jen has not. Kelson (like Wilma Cowley) never returns an email. She talks, talks, talks at board meetings and never listens to concerned teachers and citizens like me. We don’t even get a return email–nothing.
School board members should study the facts and the scary contracts and academic limitations of Common Core. Our current board simply doesn’t address anything that the USOE and Arne Duncan aren’t selling. I can’t respect that. I want new people in there.
There are serious issues in American education today, and we need local school board members who know it and who study it so they can be in a position to protect our children and the quality of their education and their data privacy.
Vote Shad Sorenson.
Lastly, I have no comment about whether anyone votes for Blaik Baird or his opponent; they both, at the Meet the Candidates event, seemed to be unconcerned in any way that Common Core might be harming our educational system. They believe it’s all Arne Duncan and Obama and Larry Shumway have said. Even though it ain’t the truth.
After all this time, they still haven’t cracked the books on it. So it’s probably not going to matter which one of those two gets elected.
But Sorenson and Davis are better, I think; I hope.
I’d give them my vote anyway.
Why’s Obama allocating money to pay local teachers with federal money? Hmm.
It’s gotten to the point that I automatically search the United Nations’ website any time I wonder why Obama or Arne Duncan are coming up with a new reform. It’s the fastest way to figure out what they are really doing. They have no interest in local sovereignty, whether state or national.
Look at this:
From the White House, July 2012:
“Today, the Obama Administration announced
the President’s plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps
. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin in 50 locations across the country… Over the next four years the Corps will expand to include 10,000 of the best STEM teachers in the nation… STEM education is one of President Obama’s top priorities
… In a roundtable today with a group of K-12 math and science teachers at the White House, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, OSTP Director Dr. John Holdren, and PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Eric Lander announced the proposal, which the Administration will launch with the $1 billion allocated in President Obama’s 2013 budget plan
currently before Congress…”The rest of the text: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/18/president-obama-announces-new-plan-create-stem-master-teaching-corps
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What does it mean?
The entity providing the paycheck is the entity that gets to call the shots. That means, the feds will be telling those local teachers who “qualify” as master teachers, what to do and how to do it.
For those of you who have been under a rock, Common Core math (Obama-and-co.’s -approved math) is much different than traditional, time-tested math. Common Core math is fuzzy-styled, student-and group-work-centered and highly controversial math that pooh-poohs excellent traditions of teaching such as drilling math facts and actually showing students how to do algorithms. Common Core has students waste energy guessing and fumbling toward the formulas, often working in collective groups.
But it’s the math that Obama and Secretary Duncan believe in.
Secondly, Common Core science will be far different from traditional, empirically-based science. It will be politicized version of science that focuses on “green” education, “sustainability” and on “global,” rather than local, citizenship. It’s a globalist, anti-Constitution indoctrination that uses the smokescreen of “sustainability” as if that word defines real science, but it’s based not on widely recognized scientific truth but rather is based on control-and-politics based “green” science, Al Gore style.
Our American STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) teachers will teach that socialists’ version of these subjects to our children. It’s political indoctrination, absolutely.
Think it’s a conspiracy theory? Then fact-check me. Read Obama’s, Duncan’s, Sir Michael Barber’s, and the United Nations’ own words on education reform and see if it’s not all built on the foundation of “sustainability” indoctrination.
This is the reason Obama’s pushing STEM Master Teacher Corps and allocating taxes (or debts) for it; he wants to “transform” education according to the education chapter of the United Nations’ agenda for our century.
Fact-check here: http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_25.shtml and http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=218
Bill Gates: Common Core promoter, United Nations promoter, Unesco’s Constitution promoter.
And, for another article, this one from the Heritage Foundation, on the same subject:
Obama Proposes Federal Paychecks for Local Teachers
I was chatting with an acquaintance as we both watched our kids’ karate lesson today.
She said, “I don’t know what’s different this year. My kids’ teachers say that there are so many rules: ‘You can’t teach this. You have to teach this. It’s like the Nazis have moved in.’ “
She didn’t know what Common Core was.
This is the problem. Most folks still don’t know what it is. There was never a vote. There was never a t.v. infomercial. There was never a cost analysis given to taxpayers nor an academic analysis given to teachers when Common Core got made the tyrant king of American education.
I know because I am a teacher and my credential’s always been up to date, since I began to teach in the 90′s. And I didn’t get the memo.
Yet Common Core’s taken over. It’s in the process of forever changing the systems of education in over FORTY SIX STATES in the U.S.A.
And even in the states who were smart enough to reject the federal offer to join Common Core (via the Race to the Top grant application a few years back)– even those states are now being bought by Arne and Barack.
Sad to report: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan happily bypassed the wise state superintendents in states like Texas and Virginia who had rejected Common Core, and offered a brand new DISTRICT version (not state version) of the Race to the
Middle Top money.
The catch? The districts have to skip to the ever-so-common tune Arne and Barack are fiddling.
Oh, they have other words for it: Career-and-College Readiness is a favorite. But when you go to the ed.gov website and read the way they’ve nailed education reform definitions to the wall, you’ll see. Now, Career and College Readiness means you must teach Common Core, no more and no less; you must march lockstep with the nationalized education drumbeat Arne and Barack are drumming. You can’t (by their definition) be preparing anyone for college and career unless your standards are the same as “a significant number of states.”
That reminds me of Henry Ford’s Model T car ad.
“ANY CUSTOMER CAN HAVE A CAR PAINTED ANY COLOR THAT HE WANTS SO LONG AS IT IS BLACK.”
The famous line of the founder Henry Ford referred to the T model since, due to express production, no other color could dry as fast as black.
So, Obama/Duncan’s version is:
“ANY STATE CAN HAVE ANY ED. STANDARDS, SO LONG AS THEY ARE THE SAME AS COMMON CORE.”
(And as long as we hold the lock and key –no amendability– on these national standards. The lock? NGA/CCSSO copyright. The key? A U.S. Dept. of Education mandate that states can’t add more than 15% to what’s in Common Core.)
Does this sameness mandate not upset anyone? Especially since Common Core’s full of terrible rules like REMOVING AS MUCH CLASSIC LITERATURE as possible, SLOWING DOWN Jr. high and high school MATH, and totally ELIMINATING CURSIVE at any age.
Does the dumbing down of the older students’ standards not upset you? Does the force-feeding of the youngers ones not upset you?
I seriously attempted to persuade my friends this week to join me in creating a gigantic banner that would read: REPEAL COMMON CORE.
We’d bear the banner at this week’s ”Meet the Candidates” events. Then we’d fly it over the State Capitol building. But this was a fantasy.
–We’ve talked ourselves blue in the face with Rep. Kraig Powell, Sen. Aaron Osmond, Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Greg Bell, and others. They all think Common Core is dandy.
So do tons of teachers. –But not all. I know a few teachers who wish I’d flown over their schools in a small plane with a big banner.
But they won’t say this out loud. (Spiral of Silence.) They think they’ll lose their jobs. They’re supposed to buy the line that Common Core doesn’t hurt local control in any way, and that it improves education.
They are not supposed to ask why the data collection of students has changed so dramatically, why nonacademic data is now part of the personally identifiable information states are collecting via schools. They are not supposed to ask why there are no references to any real research showing that Common Core is viable or beneficial or better than the old system. They are not supposed to notice that it’s a socialist-communist style of national education now, where states no longer have sovereignty over their educational decision making. They are not supposed to ask why the copyright page of the Common Core standards says that CCSSO/NGA wrote the standards solely, and that “no claims to the contrary shall be made,” even while they were asked to help write portions of the standards. Empty gesture. Teachers had no voice.
SLDS means: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
SLDS is a citizen tracking program, and a grant program, that rewards states financially for participating. It’s also called P-20, which stands for preschool through age 20 (workforce) tracking. I see citizen tracking as creepy and Orwellian. What do you see?
The federal website shows, here– http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html — that SLDS was presented as a financial prize to states, a grant, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It sounded good, but in reality, its purpose –besides the uneven redistributing of taxpayers’ money– is to track citizens (students).
The assumption was that everyone everywhere would approve of citizen tracking and would want to be tracked. A secondary assumption is that the government’s holding detailed, intimate information about its citizens would never be used against anybody wrongly, and that none of this has nothing to do with constitutional rights to privacy. (For more on that, click here: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/rightofprivacy.html )
I highlighted the first element of data to be collected because it speaks about PII, personally identifiable information. PII can be a name, a social security number, a blood sample, handwriting sample, a fingerprint, or almost anything else. The fact that the government included “except as permitted by federal/state law” is VERY significant because the federal Department of Education did the dastardly deed of changing federal privacy law, known previously as the protective, family-empowering, FERPA law. The Department of Education did this without Congressional approval and are now being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for doing it. But as it stands now, FERPA has been altered and won’t be put back to its formerly protective state. So parental rights over children’s data, and parental consent rules, have been cast aside. –All in the name of getting lots and lots and lots of data available, whether with malignant or benign intention, especially for federal use.
Here it is, pasted directly from the government site and available in English or Spanish:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $250 million
Type of Grant: Competitive
The program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.
Since it started in fiscal year 2005, the program has awarded grants worth $265 million to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The Recovery Act competition requires that the data systems have the capacity to link preschool, K-12, and postsecondary education as well as workforce data. To receive State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, a state must provide an assurance that it will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the 12 elements described in the America COMPETES Act, and any data system developed with Statewide longitudinal data system funds must include at least these 12 elements. The elements are:
- An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);
- The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;
- Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;
- Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
- Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;
- Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;
- A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;
- Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;
- Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;
- Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;
- A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and
- The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.
Tonight at 6:05, I’ll be on the Morgan Philpot show as a guest, speaking about this important issue and all its many tentacles, including the E.P.I.C. lawsuit against the Dept. of Education, the statements on data-mashing by Utah’s John Brandt and D.C.’s Joanne Weiss, letters I’ve received from the USOE on the subject of student tracking, and what we can do about it.
Tune in if you live nearby. KNRS.
For those who still believe Common Core is “rigorous” and good for kids, here is a must-read from Jay Mathews and the Washington Post.
Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown
By Jay Mathews, Published: October 17
There is no more troubling fact about U.S. education than this: The reading scores of 17-year-olds have shown no significant improvement since 1980.
The new Common Core State Standards in 46 states and the District are designed to solve that problem. Among other things, students are being asked to read more nonfiction, considered by many experts to be the key to success in college or the workplace.
The Common Core standards are one of our hottest trends. Virginia declined to participate but was ignored in the rush of good feeling about the new reform. Now, the period of happy news conferences is over, and teachers have to make big changes. That never goes well. Expect battles, particularly in this educationally hypersensitive region.
Teaching more nonfiction will be a key issue. Many English teachers don’t think it will do any good. Even if it were a good idea, they say, those who have to make the change have not had enough training to succeed — an old story in school reform.
The clash of views is well described by two prominent scholars for the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy group, in a new paper. Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas and Mark Bauerlein of Emory University say the reformers who wrote the Common Core standards have no data to support their argument that kids have been hurt by reading too much fiction. They say analyzing great literature would give students all the critical thinking skills they need. The problem, they say, is not the lack of nonfiction but the dumbed-down fiction that has been assigned in recent decades.
“Problems in college readiness stem from an incoherent, less-challenging literature curriculum from the 1960s onward,” Bauerlein and Stotsky say. “Until that time, a literature-heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of pre-college training students needed.”
The standards were inspired, in part, by a movement to improve children’s reading abilities by replacing standard elementary school pabulum with a rich diet of history, geography, science and the arts. University of Virginia scholar E.D. Hirsch Jr. has written several books on this. He established the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville to support schools that want their third-graders studying ancient Rome and their fourth-graders listening to Handel.
Robert Pondiscio, a former fifth-grade teacher who is vice president of the foundation, quotes a key part of the Common Core standards making this case:
“By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades.”
The Common Core guidelines recommend fourth-graders get an equal amount of fiction and nonfiction. Eighth-grade reading should be about 55 percent nonfiction, going to a recommended 70 percent by 12th grade.
Bauerlein and Stotsky say that could hurt college readiness. The new standards and associated tests, they say, will make “English teachers responsible for informational reading instruction, something they have not been trained for, and will not be trained for unless the entire undergraduate English major as well as preparatory programs in English education in education schools are changed.”
Pondiscio says he admires Bauerlein and Stotsky and doesn’t see why English classes have to carry the nonfiction weight. Social studies and science courses can do that. The real battle, he says, will be in the elementary schools, where lesson plans have failed to provide the vocabulary, background knowledge and context that make good readers.
Those who want the new standards say learning to read is more than just acquiring a skill, like bike riding. It is absorbing an entire world. That is what the fight in your local district will be about.
Okay, this is a big one. A dangerous one.
This week, the Utah State School Board will meet to discuss whether or not to change state FERPA policy.
Once Utah changes this policy, it will be next to impossible to get the privacy laws put back in place. And it affects every student and his/her family’s household information.
Please call or write the board and demand that they NOT change our protective state FERPA policy to match the new, questionably legal, federal FERPA regulatory changes.
Why do I say “questionably legal federal changes?”
Congress made the original FERPA law many years ago to protect citizen privacy. But recently, the Department of Education overstepped its authority in making regulatory changes to FERPA. Regulations are not as binding as law. But the regulatory changes are being seen by some as federal mandates.
Federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Meanwhile, the Department of Education’s actions have been so shockingly unacceptable to some (including me) that the Department of Education has been sued. Yes, sued. The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and it’s in full gear, with an undetermined outcome. If EPIC wins, the Dept. of Education will have to repeal its regulatory changes to federal protective FERPA law.
Why does anyone want to REMOVE parental consent over student privacy?
They want to make the government more powerful than parents for “research-based” reasons, they say.
They want the government to be able to study our data without interference or permission. And they assure us that this power will never be misused. Hmmm.
Last month at the State School Board Meeting the changes relevant to Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new regulations of FERPA were discussed.
Larry Shumway, Director of State School Board/ Superintendent
The State School Board decided to table the issue until this month as they wanted to review information on it. Our Wasatch Superintendent was at the State School Board testifying about our local FERPA policy. Wasatch local school board had changed our policy so that it had no protection in the spring, but thanks to great participation of emails from many citizens, the policy was changed again and strengthened. Thanks to Renee Braddy for gathering information, teaching citizens and leading this charge.
Since that time, people who have talked directly to the US Department of Ed, verifying the fact that the new FERPA policy does not protect, but in fact loosens, the restrictions so more data can be collected without our knowledge.
If you would like to learn more about it directly from the US Dept. of Ed. You can call this number and ask for Ellen Campbell in their FERPA policy division. 1-800-872-5327
What we need to do now is to write the State School Board Members and ask them to leave our current State FERPA policy in place. We have a good State Policy. PLEASE NOTE – the new federal policy is VOLUNTARY.
You will be told that it is not, but you can verify that for yourself by calling the number above. Superintendent Larry Shumway responded in an email to Renee Braddy that it was truly voluntary. James Judd, Student Service Director, Wasatch County, stated publicy that indeed this policy does loosen the protections.
Be firm but polite. Remember that emails that are too long don’t get read:)
Another interesting point to note is that John Brandt, the technology director for all Utah schools and director of the inter-agency Utah Data Alliance, is a federal government worker and NGO officer via his membership in NCEE and his chair position on the Council of Chief State School Officers. He is a man who feels great about Utah sharing data with the feds. And he doesn’t answer emails on the subject. Ever.
Additional Research about FERPA- put together by Renee Braddy:
FERPA stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act” (20 U.S.C. 1232g (US Code)
It was originally put into law in 1974 at the federal level to limit the amount of children’s personally identifiable information that could be given without parental consent.
(Legislative History of Major FERPA Provisions)
There are federal and state FERPA laws, as well as district FERPA policies. In 2011, the US Dept. of Education created a new FERPA regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012. Regulations are usually created by non-elected departments and therefore DO NOT pass through congress, but in essence they are observed the same as law.
The US Dept. of Education created this new regulation (34 CFR Part 99) which significantly broadens the definition of “personally identifiable information” as well as the term “authorized representatives”.
According to the regulation, “personally identifiable information” includes:
The term includes, but is not limited to—
(a) The student’s name;
(b) The name of the student’s parent or other family members;
(c) The address of the student or student’s family;
(d) A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;
(e) Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;
(f) Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
Wondering what in the world “biometric record” means and what is includes?
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.
This allows for a collection of personal health records!
As a parent, I had to ask myself, to whom is this information being given? The answer is found in the regulation with the definition of “Authorized representative”
“Authorized representative” means any entity or individual designated by a State or local educational authority or an agency headed by an official listed in § 99.31(a)(3) to conduct – with respect to Federal- or State-supported education programs – any audit or evaluation, or any compliance or enforcement activity in connection with Federal legal requirements that relate to these programs.
So, our children’s personal information can be given to: Pretty much anyone without parental consent.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FERPA FINAL REGULATIONS
Specifically, we have modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge;
(6)(i) The disclosure is to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:
(A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
(B) Administer student aid programs; or
(C) Improve instruction.
What is predictive testing? Here’s one definition from Wikipedia.
Predictive testing is a form of genetic testing. It is also known as presymptomatic testing. These types of testing are used to detect gene mutations associated with disorders that appear after birth, often later in life. These tests can be helpful to people who have a family member with a genetic disorder, but who have no features of the disorder themselves at the time of testing. Predictive testing can identify mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing disorders with a genetic basis, such as certain types of cancer. For example, an individual with a mutation in BRCA1 has a 65% cumulative risk of breast cancer. Presymptomatic testing can determine whether a person will develop a genetic disorder, such as hemochromatosis (an iron overload disorder), before any signs or symptoms appear. The results of predictive and presymptomatic testing can provide information about a person’s risk of developing a specific disorder and help with making decisions about medical care.
Why would the federal government want to track genetic and medical information coupled with educational information in a cradle to grave longitudinal database? Why is the Gates Foundation funding biometric tracking? Why is the Gates Foundation also co-hosting the London International Eugenics Conference with Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) next month? Why would the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius (responsible for the FERPA changes listed above) be offering $75 million in grants for schools to open health clinics inside their schools away from parental oversight?
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the federal government is in the business of control and not pure education. Why aren’t Utah leaders moving to protect Utahn’s from these overreaches of the federal government? Gates Foundation paid nearly $20 million to the National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization to prompt them to create Common Core. Schools will soon be the ultimate laboratories in fulfillment of Marc Tucker’s dream for creating central planning for the American workforce.
–Many people contributed to the writing of this post.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above, five Utah school districts are applying for Race To The Top funds. Granite, Ogden, Provo, Morgan and Washington County school districts are applying for tens of millions of dollars each, to be accepted directly from the U.S. Department of Education in exchange for making certain federally-determined ”reforms.”
Nationwide, the Tribune states, 893 districts are applying, but only 15 to 25 will win the grants.
If the rules of the district Race to the Top grant game are the same as the rules were for the states’ Race to the Top grants, then even those applicants who do not win the grant money will still have been “reformed” in ways pleasing to the Federal Department of Education. (For example, when Utah applied for, but did not win, its original Race to the Top grant, it made policy changes to enhance its eligibility toward winning. It adopted Common Core standards. It joined a testing consortium. Today, Utah has dropped its consortium membership but it still hasn’t dropped Common Core, and students are paying the price for the mediocre standards that slow down math learning, eliminate cursive, dramatically diminish classic literature, homogenize what college and career readiness standards used to be, yet go by the self-appointed title of “rigorous” college prep.)
Contrary to popular belief, grants are not “free money.” They come with rules, mandates, requirements, and legally binding chains created by the grantor.
The Dept. of Education’s decision, to dangle the carrot of Race to the Top for districts, is particularly alarming to many Texans. Texas was one of the few states independent-minded enough to reject joining the Common Core movement. But today, 64 Texas school districts are applying for the Race to the Top for districts, effectively creating the federal dependence for many districts which Texas had worked hard to avoid as a state.
Donna Garner, Texas educator, explains:” On Jan. 13, 2010, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the former Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced their decision that Texas should not enter the statewide Race to the Top competition for $700 Million because they knew the federal strings attached to the money would require school districts to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative.Not to be deterred, the Obama administration and Sect. of Ed. Arne Duncan came up with a “work around” so that the RTTT funds (requiring schools to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative) could be sent directly to the local school districts in spite of being blocked by the state agencies.Unfortunately, local Texas school administrators are ignoring the dangers of the federalstrings and are salivating over the federal funding. Nationwide, there are 893school districts (and other eligible entities) that have indicated their intent to apply for the RTTT’s $400 Million “workaround.” The deadline for these entities to file their formalapplications is Oct. 30, 2012.
This is what happens: Even though most of these local entities do not have a chanceto receive the RTTT federal funds, the applications themselves end up driving school district decisions.
School administrators know their schools’ grant applications will not have a chance ofbeing accepted unless the districts can prove the federally desired changes are already in place (or well on their way to being implemented) in their districts; therefore, the administrators, acting like little robots, configure their districts to match the USDOE’s agenda. They swear to do such things as implement the Common Core Standards, base teacher evaluations upon student improvement on the CCS assessments, and collect the personally intrusive information on students, parents, and educators that is required for the national database.
Thus, the USDOE ends up nationalizing the public schools without ever giving the districts the RTTT grant funding. Entire states such as California applied for the statewide RTTT funds in 2011 andreconfigured their school district policies to match the USDOE’s application requirements; but in the end, California found out that their state was notselected to receive the RTTT grants. The same outcomes will occur with the RTTT’s direct-to-school funding. Many locals will implement the USDOE’s changes but will not receive the RTTT funds.
The“carrot and stick” used by the USDOE – RTTT federal funds:
[The arrows mean “lead to.”]
National standards → national assessments → national curriculum → national teacher evaluations with teachers’ salaries tied to students’ test scores → teachers teaching to thetest each and every day → national indoctrination of our publicschool children → national database of students and teachers
Please go to the following links to read more about the Common Core Standards Initiative:
3.26.12 — “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals” — http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/View.aspx
9.14.12 – “Nationalized Public Schools Almost Here in America” – http://educationviews.org/nationalized-public-schools-almost-here-in-america/
ACTION STEP: Parents and taxpayers, please take the time to go to administrators and school board members in your district and demand that they not apply for these RTTT grants nor make any of the changes that the USDOE applications require schools to make to get the funds.”
Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation exposes misrepresentations of the financial/educational truth.
FACT CHECK: Secretary Arne Duncan on Education Cuts
Lindsey Burke September 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm
During remarks to attendees in Charlotte last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan claimed that the budget passed by the House of Representatives would mean “fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer resources for poor kids and students with disabilities, [and] fewer after school programs.”
However, the House budget does not designate specific cuts to K-12 education programs; it simply calls for reductions in non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade. Duncan, as he did in testimony earlier this year, is using unspecified spending reductions suggested in the budget to assume reductions in specific education programs—something the budget proposal does not do.
But even if federal education spending were to be cut by 20 percent—a goal worth pursuing—would that mean fewer teachers, fewer resources for poor and disabled students, and fewer after-school programs, as Duncan suggests?
Since the 1970s, federal per-pupil expenditures have more than doubled (after adjusting for inflation). Those increases haven’t all gone to the classroom or toward teacher salaries. Much of that money has gone toward expanding bureaucracy and non-teaching administrative positions in our nation’s public schools.
From 1970 to 2010, student enrollment increased a modest 7.8 percent, while the number of non-teaching staff positions increased 138 percent. But the number of teachers has also been increasing steadily over the decades.
In fact, if preliminary data from the National Center for Education Statistics is accurate, the student-teacher ratio in our nation’s public schools, at 15.2 to 1, will be lower this year than at any other point in history. Since 1970, the number of public school teachers increased 60 percent, while the number of students increased by only about 7 percent.
Duncan also claimed in his remarks that “10 million students could see their Pell Grants reduced, putting higher education further out of reach.”
What has put higher education “further out of reach” is ever-escalating college costs, which federal subsidies have exacerbated over the years. The House-approved budget aims to better target Pell funding to the low-income students it was originally designed to help while limiting the growth of the grants.
There is ample room to trim bureaucracy at the Department of Education. And it would be bad policy to continue blindly increasing federal education spending. The Obama Administration has been on an education spending binge for the past three and a half years: a nearly $100 billion bonus to the department in 2009 through the “stimulus,” a $10 billion public education bailout the year after that, and now a proposed $70 billion education budget (up from $68 billion) with $60 billion in supplemental spending.
Taxpayers cannot afford to continue financing the federal government’s failed experiment in education intervention. Like most federal policy areas, some fiscal restraint is needed in education spending.
A better approach would be to give states more control of their share of federal education funding and allow for flexibility. Schools would get far more bang for their bucks with flexibility than by continuing to filter money through 150 bureaucratic federal education programs.
Intrusive to the core
Article excerpted and reposted from The Boston Herald
By Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass | Sunday, September 2, 2012 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Op-Ed
…The so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math were almost entirely developed inside the Beltway by a small group of D.C.-based education trade organizations.
Many of the 46 states that adopted the standards did so before they were even complete. In the vast majority of states, educational officials adopted the standards unilaterally; few state legislatures ever even voted on them.
To bolster their decisions, some state education officials relied on comparisons of their existing standards to Common Core, comparisons that were funded by the same Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that has spent more than $100 million to develop and promote the national standards.
This embarrassing spectacle calls into question John Adams’ famous claim that the United States is “[a] government of laws, and not of men.”
At least three federal laws explicitly prohibit the federal government from directing, funding or controlling any state and local standards, curriculum, testing or instructional materials.
Despite these clear legal prohibitions, the Obama administration made adoption of Common Core a criterion for states competing for more than $4 billion in federal grant money. Each state that received a so-called Race to the Top grant had either adopted or promised to adopt Common Core.
Another $362 million in federal grants was doled out to two national consortia that are developing common assessments to “help” states transition to nationalized standards and tests.
In their federal grant applications, the two testing consortia flat-out stated their intent to use the money to create a “model curriculum” and instructional materials “aligned with” Common Core, in direct violation of the law. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even said that the consortia’s work includes “developing curriculum frameworks” and “instructional modules.”
In short, the U.S. Department of Education has paid others to do what it is forbidden from doing. The tactic should not inoculate the department against curriculum prohibitions imposed by Congress.
Courageously, Thomas Gosnell, who heads the state chapter of the union Shanker once led, opposed Massachusetts’ 2010 adoption of Common Core. “Our standards . . . are clearly higher than what the federal government is proposing,” he said. “Our students are number one in the nation and the Western world, and here we are being asked to sign onto those [national] standards”…
Charles Chieppo is a senior fellow and Jamie Gass directs the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank.
Yes, the data collection push is out of control.
Data collection issues and privacy rights were the last thing on my mind, until last April, when I learned what Common Core was (besides educational standards that are communizing America’s education). When I learned that common core tests gather kids’ data that is nonacademic, personally identifiable, and longitudinal –meaning it goes from preschool through adulthood and is tracked by the government and researchers who will not need permission to study it– I was horrified. But the data collection desperation of agencies worldwide, continues. For example:
- Just this morning I got an email from a company that contracts with a company I work with to translate foreign documents. They wanted to purchase –in any language– full blogs, full email accounts, and other writings, for a secret client that they said needs a lot of data to practice a new spellchecker. Nuts! (I’ll post the full “job” email* at the bottom.)
- This week, I learned about a German man, Malte Spitz, now an international data privacy freedom fighter. Here’s part of his story (for full text: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/malte-spitzs-ted-talk-_n_1701775.html )
In 2006, the EU issued the Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC. This allowed European phone companies to store user data for six months to two years — including phone numbers, addresses, the times emails and data were sent, as well as users’ locations. Since then, several countries have either rejected or declared unconstitutional this legislation. In 2010, Germany’s Federal Constitution Court suspended the directive, calling it “inadmissable.”
The directive does state that the content of users’ text and voice conversations are not to be stored.
Police agencies could request information from mobile phone companies to access user data, but only via the court system. Spitz filed a suit against his phone company Deutsche Telekom in order to receive his own stored data.
After reaching a settlement, Spitz received a CD of his records in the mail. “At first I thought, okay — it’s a huge file,” he said, “But then I realized, this is my life. This is six months of my life […] You can see where I am, when I sleep at night, what I’m doing.”
- Then there’s Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Dept. of Education, who openly admits to “data-mashing,” meaning blending the databases from different federal agencies. She also has said she wants to be helpful to states who want to “partner” and share data.
- Then there’s John Brandt, our Utah Technology Director, CCSSO chair, and NCES member (translation: he’s a fed). He openly admist on his powerpoint online, that the Dept. of Education can be one of the recipients of Utah’s inter-agency data mashing.
- Then there’s “Communities that Care,” a nice-sounding euphemism for a federal lure to give up local data via a program that on the surface, is all about preventing teen drug use and crime. But it’s also a way for the federal government to access what we are thinking, both via ongoing youth surveys, and via archived family and individual data kept by the city.
- My own doctor said that he was offered thousands to share data with the government about his patients. He opted not to accept the money because he believes in patient privacy.
Why are governments so desperate to gather so much private data on citizens? So desperate that they’re overriding Congressional FERPA laws, so desperate that they’re cutting out parental consent.
To read more about this topic:
Department of Education Being Sued for Invasion of Privacy: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
Oregon Senator’s Website: http://www.merkley.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=457f640a-2995-49c4-b386-27ca44c639a8
Federal Surveillance of data via Common Core tests: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
TrapWire Surveillance: http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/12473-trapwire-the-federal-govt-is-literally-watching-every-move-you-make http://thenewamerican.com/tech/item/12635-trapwires-alleged-corporate-and-government-connections-grow
SmartMeter Opt-Out: http://thenewamerican.com/tech/energy/item/12344-privacy-and-health-concerns-on-%E2%80%9Csmart-meters%E2%80%9D-growing-globally
Many thanks for your interest in our program and for providing your experience in translation. Unfortunately we are not looking for a translation service at present; however, as mentioned in our advert we are collecting many versions of data on behalf of a client of ours. This data will be used to assist them in the development of their language tools. If this is something which you think you can assist us in, then please review the details below.
Below you will find some frequently asked questions which will provide you with more data on the program. Please read carefully to check if your language is available.
Note: We are only accepting languages which are available on the list at present.
We aim to collect a large amount of data for each language, so we hope we can collect a minimum of 150,000 words from each person participating. If you think you can reach this number, please let us know. If not, then please continue to save your data and contact us again in the near future.
Unfortunately everyone who contacts us may not be able to join this program, however, if you do know of someone that has their language included, please pass our information to them. We encourage all people to review their language / data.
On reading the FAQ, please reply and let us know what type of data / language you can provide to our program. We can then work on the collection process.
Please note, we do allow participants to donate more than one language if available.
We look forward to working with you.
Kind Regards, Lionbridge Data Collection Group
1) What languages are available? In our program we are now looking for the following languages: English UK, English US, Basque, Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Finnish, Galician, Hungarian, Kazakh, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic), Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Arabic (Standard), Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese European, Spanish European, Swedish, Indonesian, Latin American Spanish, Danish and Thai.
2) What if my language is not on the list? We are beginning with the languages listed above. However, we may begin collecting for your language in the future. Please begin to save your emails / reports etc. Also, you may know of a friend / colleague who may be able to join now. If so, then pass on our information to them.
3) Who gets my data? We are collecting all data in conjunction with a client who requires a large amount of words to help develop their language tools e.g. spellchecker. No other party will have access to your data
4) What data can I include? a. Email – you can include personal emails which you have written in your own language b. Reports – If you are at college, you can include draft reports which you have written for college (i.e. these are the first writings of your reports, not the final delivered version to your lecturer). If you are a journalist, you can include drafts of articles you have written. Note draft articles should contain both grammar and spelling mistakes i.e. they are not proof read. c. Letters – any letters which you have written in your native language d. Blogs – If you have created a blog and write regular updates, this could be included.
5) If I send email, what happens if I include personal email? Once you send us your email, we will first change all of the email addresses and numbers to email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> and 000 to remove any personal identification. Your name / signature however will remain on the email if included.
6) Can I use any email account? Yes you can use most email accounts which can be setup either on the internet or at home. Note we are having some issues with exporting from yahoo.
7) How much data to I need to send you? We are looking to collect 600,000 words from each person; however we understand that this is a lot of data for one person. Therefore to assist you we are willing to receive as low as 150,000 words: - On average 2,000 emails. - 200 pages
8) What if I do not have enough data? Don’t worry if you don’t have enough data right now. You can begin to save your data and join our program at a later date. Also, remember, if you have emails and reports, you can join both to reach the required number. We can help you with this.
9) How long do I have to collect the data? We appreciate it can take time to get this detail together and to assist you we will be providing step by step instructions. This program is running until September 30th 2012.
10) Do I get paid for my data? Yes you do! For every 100,000 words you send to us, we will pay you $110.
11) How do I know my data is secure? On acceptance of your data, you will sign a data release form to say that our client can now use your data. No other party will have access to your data.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Since Massachusetts’ educational standards were the highest in the nation before Common Core came along; since Massachusetts’ standards were so high that, testing as an independent country, they ranked in the top worldwide, then why did we adopt Common Core “race-to-the-middle-denominator” instead?
James Gass, of Boston’s Pioneer Institute, asked this question. He said:
Given the historic success of Massachusetts on NAEP and TIMSS testing and the very average performance of the states that have worked with national standards players, unless national standards weren’t a ‘a race to the middle,’ why didn’t other states just adopt the Massachusetts standards, as 2010 Pioneer Institute and Diane Ravitch recommended?
Ravitch goes so far as to say that the Obama administration is wasting its time trying to establish national standards in English and math. “I wish they had just adopted the Massachusetts standards,’’ she said. “They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.’’
Diane Ravitch, historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
I didn’t make up this question: “Can FERPA and SLDS coexist?”.
It’s in a white paper written by ESP solutions group, called “Could FERPA halt your SLDS: A Mini-Guide That Explores Potential FERPA Roadblocks Disruptive to Your SLDS Project,”directed at state leaders who are attempting to data-mash their state agencies’ systems.
(I’m guessing readers of this document are people like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dept. of Education Chief of Staff J. Weiss, Utah Technology Director John Brandt, Utah School Superintendent Larry Shumway, the USOE, and folks like Professor David Wiley. I add in Wiley because he’s partnered with USOE to write Common Core books and has publically said he is FOR going behind parents’ backs to get access to student data for research purposes.)
FYI- Data systems mashing and meshing is also soon to be done with federal data systems, not just state SLDS, according to a recent statement by J. Weiss, the Chief of Staff of the Department of Education.
The ESP white paper shows the disregard the movement has for individual privacy –calling privacy law, FERPA, a “roadblock”– and it shows the conflict the data-seeking SLDS/P-20 crowd feels toward traditional privacy law, such as the Congressionally approved and created FERPA as it was originally written in the 70′s by people who actually respected parental consent law and student privacy.
Remember, though, that the Dept of Education has altered FERPA to empower the data-mashing gang i.e., Arne Duncan, President Obama, John Brandt, Shumway, Weiss and Wiley. The Dept. of ED has been sued for doing so, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (thank heaven and hope they win.)
What meaning do I make of it?
The good news is, FERPA still has the data-hungry, big-government educrats scared. Remember: state FERPA laws have not changed although federal regulations to FERPA did.
The bad news is, there are individuals and whole organizations like ESP or David Wiley, getting paid by our government (by us) to think of ways of getting around family privacy law so that without our consent, they can access private information– in the guise of caring for our students and with the good intentions of any non-elected, self-appointed stakeholder/decisionmaker over other people’s children.
Rod Arquette hosts national education experts: James Gass of Pioneer Institute, Emmett McGroarty of American Principals Project, Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford, and Kent Talbert, D.C. lawyer and former counsel to Department of Education. Photo taken the day before the public forum in Salt Lake City.
On July 10th, 2012, a public forum was held where Jamie Gass, Bill Evers, Kent Talbert and Emmett McGroarty, four national education experts, taught evidenced facts to the public concering Common Core. A press release about the forum upset Brenda Hales, a USOE administrator, who then posted a statement on the Utah Public Education website giving the official line of the USOE on Common Core.
Brenda Hales, Utah State Office of Education
I decided to provide a referenced rebuttal to challenge her statement. You can read at http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/ . (You can read Brenda’s post as well so you can see what’s being said by the USOE.) The Utahns Against Common Core website posted both the USOE’s statement and my rebuttal.
Dr. David Wiley, pro-Common Core professor
Next, comments were sent in on one aspect of the Common Core debate, privacy issues, by BYU Professor David Wiley. The purpose of this blog post is to record his comments and my responses to his responses so readers may determine for themselves what they feel is right.
Many people are upset about federally imposed ”education reforms” that leave teachers and parents out of decision making. There’s now a nationwide ”Dump Duncan” movement that’s petitioning President Obama to fire the Secretary of Education.
Dump Duncan was started by two grandfathers, one in Washington State and one in New York, who are upset about what is happening to the public schools of the nation. Those who have signed the Letter to Obama include parents, teachers, college professors, and other citizens.
The petition asks the President for: a Secretary of Education who is a lifetime educator; a meaningful voice for teachers, parents and administrators in Dept. of Education decision making that affect them; an end to the compelling of municipalities to use student test data as a basis for evaluating teachers, and more.
“Dump Duncan” has a Facebook page, a “Dump Duncan” website and a petition at http://dumpduncan.org/ . It even put on an “Occupy the Department of Education” event this year.
There’s a collection of teacher-written poetry on the ”Dump Duncan” poetry contest page, and a lot of creative graphics uploaded by various petition signers. So far, there are about 6,000 Dump Duncan petition signers. This is what the full petition requests:
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s teachers and their supporters, wish to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although many of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, it is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives are changed:
- The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership.
- The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on “bad teachers” rather than poverty and neighborhood distress.
- The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools.
Because of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation’s educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”
We therefore submit the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort:
- The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
- The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
- An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
- Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.
We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing could ever hope to do.
Kurt Vonnegut’s ”Harrison Bergeron” was in the literature text we taught at Colton High School in Colton, California where I taught in 1995-2000. My students read this profound story, which has become ironic today, because public education is being transformed, via COMMON CORE, into the very nightmare Vonnegut envisioned.
Our country has agreed (with the exception of Texas and Virginia) that everyone ‘s educational experience must be the very same.
If you are gifted or educationally advanced, you really have been punished with an educational handicap. Everyone must be common in Common Core.
Now, when I read this, I picture Common Core Architect David Coleman as the United States Handicapper General, and picture Secretary Arne Duncan as the television announcer.
by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.
It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.
On the television screen were ballerinas.
A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.
“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.
“Huh” said George.
“That dance-it was nice,” said Hazel.
“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.
George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.
Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.
“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.
“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel a little envious. “All the things they think up.”
“Um,” said George.
“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. “If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”
“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.
“Well-maybe make ‘em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”
“Good as anybody else,” said George.
“Who knows better than I do what normal is?” said Hazel.
“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.
“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”
It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.
“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”
George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.”
“You been so tired lately-kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”
“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”
“If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean-you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just sit around.”
“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it-and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”
“I’d hate it,” said Hazel.
“There you are,” said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”
If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.
“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.
“What would?” said George blankly.
“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?
“Who knows?” said George.
The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen.”
He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.
“That’s all right-” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.
And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me-” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.
“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”
A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.
The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.
Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.
And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.
“If you see this boy,” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him.”
There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.
Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.
George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. “My God-” said George, “that must be Harrison!”
The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.
When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.
Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood – in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.
“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.
“Even as I stand here” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”
Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.
Harrison’s scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.
Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.
He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.
“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”
A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.
Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.
She was blindingly beautiful.
“Now-” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.
The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. “Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”
The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.
The music began again and was much improved.
Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.
They shifted their weights to their toes.
Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.
And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!
Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.
They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.
They leaped like deer on the moon.
The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.
It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.
And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.
It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.
Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.
It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.
Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.
George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying” he said to Hazel.
“Yup,” she said.
“What about?” he said.
“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”
“What was it?” he said.
“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.
“Forget sad things,” said George.
“I always do,” said Hazel.
“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.
“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.
“You can say that again,” said George.
“Gee-” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy.”
“Harrison Bergeron” is copyrighted by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1961.
Alisa, Renee and I speak out about our opposition to Common Core.