Archive for the ‘arne duncan’ Tag

Gates is Funding U.S. Department of Education Directly   3 comments

Here’s a must-read.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is accepting the “philanthopy” of Bill Gates, putting our nation and its children directly in Gates’ deep pocket.

Not okay.  Wake up, America.   Our rights and voice are being buried under truckload after truckload of government-embraced corporate “philanthopy.”

And thank you, Mercedes Schneider. (I want to point out that Ms. Schneider, the author of this research, is a teacher.)

Read her research on the subject here:

Gates Is Funding U.S. Department of Education Conferences and “Innovations”.

Massachusetts Dad to Department of Education: My Child Will Not Be Your Guinea Pig   5 comments

 Video update here:  http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/video_common_core_protesters_v.html

mass mike watson
Protesting Common Core and PARCC testing during Arne Duncan’s visit to Worcester today:  Mike Watson and son

“We met a lot of great folks at the protest but I spent most of my time with my favorite little activist! It was fitting this little man in the Spider Man hat was with us, as Common Core, PARCC and the policies of Arne Duncan and Mitchell Chester will directly impact his education and his future along with the rest of his generation….unless we stop them!

As a parent who cares deeply about my children (and others across my state and our country) I have a message for Arne, Mitchell Chester, Bill Gates, the big testing and data collection companies and my elected representatives on Beacon Hill who either support Common Core and PARCC or who are not willing to speak out in an effort to tow the party line……

NOT MY KIDS!You will have to arrest me and drag me through the courts along with all the media attention that will bring before I allow you to force my children to take a field test for a private company in our public schools! Our children our NOT your guinea pigs or state property to be used to test your experimental education reforms!Massachusetts is currently leading the country in education standards and positive student outcomes with our standards that were in place before Common Core. Standards that were publicly vetted, involved local educators and decision makers and have now been proven to produce positive outcomes.

Why throw all of that hard work and progress away for yet another untested education reform experiment? The little boy holding the sign in the picture will have to pay the price if your experiment fails as will children across the great state of Massachusetts. I refuse to let you throw away a generation of children without a fight and the army of parents, educators and citizens from across our state and our country have my back!

Mike Watson
Massachusetts

No….. NOT OUR KIDS!

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Yes, Mr. Watson.  The rest of us have your back. 
For more on today’s Massachusetts protest at Arne Duncan’s town hall:   http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/common_core_protesters_picket.html
Video update here:  http://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2014/03/video_common_core_protesters_v.html

What Is Common Core: 101   32 comments

common core logo

What Is Common Core? 

This post aims to be as unmistakably direct and documented as possible.    Feel free to use it without asking permission.

DOES  COMMON CORE PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE?

Not for a 4-year university.  It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges.

zimba

A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers.  He said:  “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness…  but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley,  whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”

IS THERE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR VOTERS TO ALTER THE COMMON CORE?

No.  When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. (See official site .)

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS LOCALLY CONTROLLED?

No. They are under copyright by an unelected, private D.C. group called NGA/CCSSO which has reserved the legal right to alter them.  The federal government has made money and waivers conditional on using Common Core standards and tests.

ccssonga

DO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS  IMPROVE K-12 EDUCATION?

No one knows.  They are an unpiloted experiment.   But people who are financially invested in Common Core  say yes  to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.

milgram

Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee) reported:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or GeometryMoreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…  They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“

stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core) said:

As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readinessstandards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinkingand completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Full testimony here.

book and kite

IS COMMON CORE LEGAL?

No.  Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states.  It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions.  National standards are illegal.  National data collection is illegal.  And the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:

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…”  

capitol roof

DOES COMMON CORE REALLY  TAKE AWAY MOST OF THE TRADITIONAL CLASSIC LITERATURE AND NARRATIVE WRITING?

Yes.  Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%.  By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.

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

WHAT IS INFORMATIONAL TEXT?

Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.

tucker

WHY DON’T COMMON CORE PROPONENTS WANT STUDENTS TO LEARN MUCH MATH?

It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training.  In  this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school;  it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:  “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless.  The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:

The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge.

WHY DID ALMOST EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. DROP THEIR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, WHETHER LOWER OR HIGHER,  TO ADOPT COMMON CORE STANDARDS?

Proponents say that the reason was to improve education.  Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top.  Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.

WILL  THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS REMAIN AS THEY ARE TODAY?  

No. Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.

common core logo

WHY DOES THE STATE SCHOOL BOARD SAY WE’RE FREE TO CHANGE THEM?

States can’t delete anything.  We can add –a tiny bit.   A Common Core 15% rule  says: “A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total  standards”

(This rule is repeated in the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, in the Race to the Top Assessments Grant application, in documents of both PARCC and SBAC testing groups, and in the implementation guide of Achieve, the group contracted to create Common Core.)

WILL THE CREATORS OF COMMON CORE CHANGE THESE STANDARDS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL?

Yes.  Common Core’s official site says:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”  There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.

copyright

WHERE DO PROPONENTS GET THE NOTION THAT COMMON CORE WILL IMPROVE  EDUCATION?

From believable, expensive marketing lines.  Not from evidence.  Opponents point out that there was never any field testing for Common Core standards;  so this is a national experiment using virtually all children.  Supporters never attempt to explain how education is supposedly improved by Common Core, nor show a pilot state or pilot classroom where Common Core had been successfully used.    Beyond the many pleasant-sounding and but words, there is no documentation or evidence to back up any of the claims that the standards are higher, nor the other claims such as “Common Core was internationally benchmarked” or “is rigorous” or “improves college and career readiness.”  They are baseless advertising words.

Upon this lack of evidence we build our children’s futures.

bill at nga

ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS FREE TO US?

No.  The standards’ development and marketing was paid for primarily by Bill Gates.  The Common Core tests for most states was paid for primarily by the federal government.  States pay countless millions for the rest of the Common Core Initiative:  the re-training, new text purchases, aligned computer technologies, etc.  They incorrectly say that these high costs would have been spent anyway, even without Common Core.

WAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “HANDS-OFF” THE STATES’ ADOPTION OF COMMON CORE?

No.  Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010.  He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money.  He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRIBE STATES TO ADOPT COMMON CORE?

Yes. States received federal ARRA money to implement pre-common core reforms that paved the way for Common Core, including building a State Longitudinal Database System.  There were 4 federal key objectives for education reforms  laid out by President Obama which were the four conditions for receiving stimulus monies.  Federally defined common standards and tests were one of the conditions.

More evidence of bribery and coercion can be seen in the timing of a majority of the states’ adopting Common Core simultaneously with the Race to the Top money lure.  And recently, a group of U.S. Senators have denounced what the Executive Branch (Obama Administration) has done in coercing states with  Common Core bribes.

obama light

 

IS COMMON CORE RELATED TO STUDENT DATA MINING?

Yes.   But Secretary Arne Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.” 

He just told a bold-faced lie.  The federal Edfacts Exchange collects data for local, state and federal levels.  The federal government paid for the states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.  The White House hosts Datapalooza where Common Core and common data standards are spoken of warmly and together.  The Department of Education is listed as a partner at the EIMAC (Education Information Management Advisory Consortia) There are many other things that the Department of Education has done to take away student privacy, aiming aims to align common data standards with common educational standards.

Data Baby

WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DO TO REMOVE PRIVACY FROM STUDENT DATA?

– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This  created a virtual national database.

– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data–  “legal”.  Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit between the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the Department of Education.

– The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the Data Quality Campaign and the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

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

IS THIS ABOUT MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF QUALITY EDUCATION?

Yes.  Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core.  Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested.  The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - MicrosoftPearson Education - National PTA - Jeb Bush - Harvard University - National Governors’ Association - Council of Chief State School Officers - Fordham Institute – Manhattan Institute – Exxon, and many, many more.

 

IS COMMON CORE RESPECTED BY HIGHER ED?

132 professors of Catholic Universities recently wrote  a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.

Also:

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island has written:

“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”

Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire has written:

The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”

Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College has written:

“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”

 Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has written:

“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”  Dr. Tienken also has two powerful short videos on the subject of standards and of assessments.

Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University has written:

“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”

Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University noted:

“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.

So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.

But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College has written:

“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”    (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)

Dr. Sandra Stotky (spoken of at the top) has written:

“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”

“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”

Dr. Stotsky also testified that:

“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”

“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”

“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”

“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”

“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”

“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”

“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students. At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky

Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado, has written:

“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”

capitol with alyson

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Parents and retired teachers, it is up to us to stop this thing.  Teachers who are currently teaching, or principals, or others who work in the education sales industry dare not speak up too loudly or risk losing their jobs.  It is up to us.

Weighing Data-Driven Decision Making Against Privacy Under Common Core   4 comments

fish

Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?

The State School Board doesn’t think so.

Boiling down the  conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?

It’s either:

1) -  Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)

OR:

2) -  The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.

Take some time.  Think about it.  We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.

Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and  gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.”  And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit.  This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.

Data Quality Campaign” has  many  partners  including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers!   “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,”  “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”

From the DQC’s site:  “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Do you share that vision?

On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core)  they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”

And  Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected  (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges.  Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data.  http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf

Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?

But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”

Data Baby

So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:

DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test.  (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)

American Institutes for Research  will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.

(Why the nonacademic information too?  Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)

Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills.  But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.

Every state has a federally-invented SLDS:  State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding).  And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs.  So did all the other states.  It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.

We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him.   Why keep him around at all?

The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.”   This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance  agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

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

Not good.

Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data.  In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.

fish bigger

But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.

Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.

Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened.  Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.

The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)

The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.

I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”

Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.

Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!

It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information

Is this what we want for Utah?

Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.

To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.

This is not hyperbole.  Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data.  We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.

Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing.  They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.

Do you?

Breaking News Stories: Rejection of Common Core and Its Tests: Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Congressional Leadership and More   15 comments

With all the pushback across our country against Common Core standards and testing it’s almost impossible to keep up!

Here is an incomplete list with links to some important, recent news stories you may have missed.

SOUTH CAROLINA:     Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is taking on the Common Core standards in a draft resolution that he says is “an incentive-based mandate from the federal government.”

It states: “national standards lead to national assessments and national assessments lead to national curriculum.”  http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/31/senate-resolution-to-tackle-common-cores-threat-of-national-curriculum/

KENTUCKY:  Kentucky drops membership in one of the federally funded Common Core testing groups as many states (including Utah) have done:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/01/kentucky_withdraws_from_parcc_.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2

KANSAS:    U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill Thursday targeting the U.S. Department of Education over the Common Core mathematics and English standards.  The bill would stop the federal government “from coercing states to adopt education standards like Common Core” and would “strictly forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula, and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.”

Sen. Roberts said Kansas should pick standards “without bribes or mandates from Washington.”  http://cjonline.com/news/2014-01-30/roberts-targets-us-ed-department-bill

ARKANSAS:   Arkansas Teachers Against Common Core join Arkansas parents to rally against Common Core at state capitol.  http://www.thv11.com/news/article/296732/2/Parents-rally-against-common-core

TENNESSEE:  Tennessee hitting the brakes on Common Core after realizing what Common Core and its testing will cost.  http://www.fox17.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/calls-curb-common-core-tn-19336.shtml     and:      Test-Fixated Schools Hurt Tennessee
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140125/OPINION03/301250012/2071
and:  Tennessee Republican Legislators Prepare Resolution Seeking Delay  of Common Core Tests and Standards  http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/2014/01/21/tn-lawmakers-balk-at-common-core-school-standards/4709341/

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  Nashua, New Hampshire principal writes a letter to the superitendent, saying his school staff “believe that the Smarter Balance [Common Core] Test is inappropriate for our students… this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.”  http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/1027308-469/nashua-middle-school-principal-outlines-serious-concerns.html#

CONNECTICUT:     Connecticut Common Core Costs Up, Teaching Time Down, Opt-Out      Movement Takes Hold http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/01/27/common-core-costs-instruction-time-opt-movement-takes-hold/  and    Opting Out: Connecticut Parents Answer to a Higher Authority
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Opting-out-parents-answer-to-a-higher-5173196.php

IDAHO:  Testing Crisis in Idaho Public Schools
http://www.argusobserver.com/independent/news/opinion-testing-crisis-in-our-public-school-system/article_c8acd928-8451-11e3-9d93-0019bb2963f4.html

NEW YORK:       Defiant Parents: Testing’s Discontents  http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/01/the-defiant-parents-testings-discontents.html#entry-more
Resources for Refusing the Test: Samples From New York
http://www.nysape.org/refusing-the-test-resources.html
Schools with High-Stakes Testing Exemption
http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2014/01/21/school-without-regents-exams-says-mayor-should-spread-its-model/    NY Governor Cuomo under attack by Stop Common Core in New York State: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/new-york-parents-launch-common-core-math-homework-at-governor-nygovcuomo/        NY Republican Legislators Push Bill to Cut Back Common Core  Testing  http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/01/post_690.html

MICHIGAN:  Michigan Schools Not Ready for Shift to Online Common Core Testing
http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140128/SCHOOLS/301280025/Some-Michigan-schools-districts-not-ready-shift-online-tests

CALIFORNIA:  Los Angeles Classrooms Lack Technology Capacity for New Exams
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-lausd-computers-20140128,0,5974079.story#axzz2rhHCjRGK

INDIANA:  Indiana Testing Not Designed to Improve Learning
http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140124/EDITORIAL/140129795/1021/LARSON

RHODE ISLAND:   Rhode Island Grad Test is Not a Good Measure of Student  Achievement
http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/commentary/20140120-ron-wolk-rhode-island-flubs-diploma-standards.ece        Providence City Council Unanimously Endorses Testing “Pause”
http://ripr.org/post/providence-city-council-calls-pause-high-stakes-testing

MASSACHUSETTS:  Mass. Teacher Licensing Tests Block Minority Access
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/01/27/state-needs-overhaul-test-for-licensing-teachers/zmkavJxEa4jFbbWA7KyRcP/story.html

MINNESOTA:  Task Force Wants to Scrap Minnesota Teachers Tests
http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/01/24/education/teacher-tests?from=education

OHIO:  Ohio House Passes Bill to Let Schools Delay New Test Requirements
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/01/23/house-bill-would-delay-new-testing.html

D.C.     DC Scales Back Test-Based Evaluations of Principals
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-schools-changes-impact-evaluations-for-principals/2014/01/17/7f17e90a-7df9-11e3-93c1-0e888170b723_story.html
D.C. Schools Forms Parent Task Force to Examine Testing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-schools-forms-task-force-to-study-student-testing/2014/01/23/3f9764ca-8472-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html

AND MORE:

The Coming Common Core Meltdown:
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_02/28_02_karp.shtml
Bipartisan Opposition to Common Core Tests-and-Standards Grows
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/28/267488648/backlash-grows-against-common-core-education-standards?ft=1&f=1013
States Examine Cost, Quality of Common Core Assessments
http://www.pewstates.org/projects/stateline/headlines/states-reconsider-common-core-tests-85899535255
Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

Resist Federal Pressure to Use Test Scores in Teacher Evaluation
http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2022749780_robertcruickshankopedteacherevaluations25xml.html

Time to Hold Arne Duncan Accountable to a Higher Standard
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-stanford/arne-duncan-pearson-testing_b_4648554.html

Education historian Diane Ravitch speaks at MLA Conference about Common Core: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

Mike Huckabee speaks to CCSSO officers (Common Core creators) telling them to just “rebrand” rather than to drop Common Core because the term has become “toxic”.   http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/02/01/Huckabee-To-Common-Core-Creators-Rebrand-Refocus-But-Don-t-Retreat

Utah Mother of Seven Alisa Ellis to Speak This Week in Kansas and Wyoming About Common Core   3 comments

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control – Alisa Ellis

Alisa

Picture a bread-baking, fun-loving, church-going, small-town mother of seven –who was never politically active, who never even used to vote, –picture her becoming a sudden political activist who now travels across Utah and to other states to speak to live audiences, radio audiences, and on t.v. about the Common Core Initiative. Let me tell you a little bit about Alisa Ellis, a woman whose motto is, “I do not live in fear.”

To Alisa, education had always been important. She and her husband liked to say that they were proudly raising a family of nerds. They were the kind of parents who volunteered in the classroom. They were the kind who paid attention.

But their introduction to the educational transformation of America known as Common Core came in 2011, long after the initiative had been adopted by the state. (2011 is a whole year after the Utah state school board adopted Common Core without public knowledge or vetting; and it was two years after the state had agreed to accept the federal $9.6 million to create an “SLDS” student tracking database.)

Alisa received a Common Core pamphlet at a parent-teacher conference.

She stared at it. She puzzled. She asked the teacher to explain.

“I didn’t know how one size-fits-all would work without hurting the top and bottom students,” she recalls. But when she asked the teacher to expound on the subject, that teacher didn’t know anything.

Alisa began to ask around.

“I asked everyone I knew for their thoughts on Common Core. I tried researching online but everything was fluff,” she said, “It was nine months before I was invited to a meeting to learn more.”

One day at the grocery store, she bumped into a friend who actually knew something about the Common Core Initiative. The conversation lasted a long time. The friend invited Alisa to come to a “Cornerstone of Freedom” meeting to learn more. The friend added, “Oh, and would you make a few comments?”

Alisa thought that meant that she should raise her hand and make comments. She found out, during the meeting, that she was an actual scheduled speaker– after the other speaker.

“I saw my name on the schedule and immediately panicked. I pulled out my tablet and started researching ‘What is Common Core?’ After a few minutes, I realized it was pointless and I would be better off just sharing my concerns.”

She told the audience of her concerns which had begun with the Common Core pamphlet at the parent/teacher conference. She told the story of another meeting, a gifted-and-talented informational meeting, where the director said that next year, teachers would ‘start digging deeper.’

(“Digging deeper? That same line was repeated so many times that I knew I was being fed something,” she explained.)

She also told the audience another story: a school guidance counselor had advised her to take her son out of AP history. The counselor had said that her son’s “career track was more along the lines of engineering.”

He’d said, based on Alisa’s son’s ACT practice test, that: “clearly your son isn’t going to be a history professor, so we should pull him out of AP world history and put him in a class that follows his career path.” Because Alisa had trusted the system, she hadn’t questioned the counselor’s advice so she pulled her son out of AP history. This was a decision she later regretted.

Alisa started digging more deeply into the whole Common Core Initiative. She read the state’s Memorandum of Understanding with the developers of the Common Core. She read the Cooperative Agreement. She saw how the State Longitudinal Database System intertwined with the academic standards and tests. She read speeches by secretary of education Arne Duncan. She read the No Child Left Behind documents and waivers. She read the implementation manuals that were sent out to governors to tell them how to promote Common Core. She read documents by Achieve, Inc., the group that helped create the standards for the copyrighters. She could hardly believe that the Common Core’s takeover of local control was out in the open, yet unknown by virtually everyone who ought to know about it.

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control,” she said.

She went with her friend, Renee Braddy, to meet with local teachers, principals, local school board members, the community council, and the local superintendent to discuss Common Core. These discussions resulted in the opportunity to make a presentation at the local school board meeting. (That presentation was filmed, and is called Two Moms Against Common Core on YouTube.) The superintendent had asked them not to film their presentation, but since it was an open, public meeting they did anyway. The video was shared around the state and ignited a firestorm of activists to stand up and fight against Common Core. I was among the people who got to see Alisa and Renee’s video the first week it was posted.

Next, Alisa decided it was time to become more active. She became the county delegate to the Republican convention, and before the convention, she started making phone calls to find out which candidates were promoters of Common Core. She found that all the candidates running for national level seats were opposed to Common Core. All the local candidates, aside from the current Governor, were also against it. (Governor Herbert was undecided at the time.) However, the candidates running for state legislature seats were less willing to take a position.

With unflinching determination, she successfully set up two face-to-face meetings with Governor Herbert to discuss Common Core. Then she organized public meetings and helped bring in expert academic witnesses to meet with legislators; she started her blog called Common Core Facts, she repeatedly attended and spoke up at state school board meetings, and she co-founded Utahns Against Common Core with a handful of other Utahns. (That website and petition “Utahns Against Common Core” today has over 8,000 signatures.)

Alisa’s actions, along with other activism happening around the state, eventually helped push Utah’s leadership to agree to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortia. It was a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Common Core. (Side note: after Utah bowed out of SBAC, other states also began to withdraw from SBAC and PARCC. Sadly, Utah’s state school board subsequently chose to use another Common Core testing entity, AIR, which is partnered with the same SBAC. –But that’s another story.)

From the beginning, Alisa began to get invitations to speak across the state and then from other states. Today, she has probably given over fifty speeches on the subject, in tiny places and large venues, both with other speakers from Utahns Against Common Core and on her own.

This week, she will be speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in Merriam, Kansas.

You are invited.

Girl with Barcode on Foot

WYOMING

What: WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE: TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE

Where: Snow King Resort Teton Room

When: 6:15 PM on January 28, 2014

Who: Speakers will include Amy Edmonds – Wyoming Liberty Group; Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core; Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher; Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core – Presented by Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole

Cost: Admission free; a donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.

Alisa in Kansas

KANSAS

What: Alisa Ellis will speak on the history and truth about Common Core and its impact on our children and their education.

When: Tuesday, February 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: Antioch Library – 8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS 66202

Note from the Antioch Library: Besides the library’s parking lot, parking is available behind Taco Bell and to the larger lot west of Taco Bell.

—-

Thank you, Alisa. And thank you, Renee. (I will write about Renee and her adventures another day.)

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   7 comments

state school board picture photo utah

untitled

Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.

Submit questions to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.

The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.

I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?

3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?

4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?

5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?

6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?

7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?

8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?

17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?

18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.

19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for your answer.

20. Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?

21. Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?

22. What roles does the Utah State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)play in reporting to the federal Edfacts Exchange and to the national E.I.M.A.C./CCSSO data collection machines?

23. How do you respond to the question asked by Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University? He said:
“This is not data-driven decision making… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the Common Core standards?”
24. Do you see Common Core’s emphasis on testing as potentially harming American creativity and entrepreneurial fields in which U.S. graduate have historically led the world– or do you see this emphasis on standardization and testing as simply creating more individuals who are very good at taking tests– like students in some Asian countries– without any harm being done to creativity or love of learning?

25. The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system …“ In light of this, please explain why our state has partnered with those who agree to micromanagement by the federal department of education such as the CCSSO.

26. Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally-lauded Common Core standards and tests?
27. What types of legal protections does student data have in writing that can protect us from the federal government and vendors and researchers– in light of recent changes to FERPA privacy regulations, and in light of the federally funded and federally-reporting State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that is partnered with the CCSSO (and PESC) under Utah’s SLDS grant agreement?

28. Why has the Utah State School Board not stood up against federally-partnered and SBAC-partnered Common Core tests to defend local control?

29. For students in the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. High test scores in a few subjects can be achieved in most developing countries, so how could Common Core increase global competitiveness for U.S. students?

30. How can any test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

31. What empirical evidence do you have that high Common Core test scores could result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship?

32. If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore the U.S. on standardized tests such as PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)? In other words, what evidence do we have that pressuring students to focus on standardized testing will improve the U.S. economy?

33. Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the international PISA tests? (see Riddle, 2009) In other words, why are we pushing Common Core when our previous system of local control and freedom worked better academically than other countries’ governmentally standardized systems?

34. Companies like Boeing and GE are allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012). Can U.S. emphasis on standardized test scores create global competitiveness, really, or is it more likely that we should change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages, to increase our global competitiveness?

35. Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012) while only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

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

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

38. To what extent do you agree with this statement? “Common Core is a standardized education philosophy that transmits prescribed content via nationally aligned standards, aligned tests and aligned texts; the previous system was less organized, more loosely monitored, less unified, but spent more time on creativity, individual exploration and innovation.”

39. How do you feel about the funding of the Common Core: one unelected businessman– Bill Gates– funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks (Fordham Institute, Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Educational Excellence) that advocate for it, he partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base”, and that he has said that his goal is for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align? See Gates’ public speech here.

40. How do you feel about Secretary Arne Duncan’s stated goals for national Common Core Educational Standards and Common Data Standards? To summarize, a few of Duncan’s stated goals are:

–1) to have the federal government take more control over American schools than ever before,
–2) to make schools (not families) be the community centers, open 6-7 days a week, 12 months a year, 14 hours per day; and
–3) to partner the federal department of education with the copyrighters of the Common Core (CCSSO) for both education standards AND for data collection standards.

———————-

THE CONTINUAL WEARYING a.k.a. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

(More thoughts on the ongoing Common Core debate:)

If you aren’t going to attend the debate, please use these questions or your own to create more strong pushback from the Common Core disaster.

This is America! We are the people with the power to make things right when we see that they are wrong. This is not a land of centralized power, dictatorship, socialism. This is a land of liberty, where the local people self-govern. We have to wake people up to see that freedom matters– and that Common Core surely takes it away from our children.

We can use the beautiful American processes of debate, of real representation, and of constitutional balances of powers that are supposed to defend freedom and local autonomy.

If everyone who cared deeply about the damages of Common Core were to weary the school boards and governors with questions –repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasinglyCommon Core could not stand.

Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.

It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.

What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.

But it lacks the important stuff.

Parents (and teachers) can win back local control. We care more deeply about our children and about legitimate education than the proponents care about our children or Common Core.

We just have to be the squeaky wheel.

unrighteous judge parable

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

Weary them, weary them.

We can write or call newspapers and t.v. stations.

We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number).

We can politely and persistently pester the principal and others in the school districts and especially make sure to pester state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber.

Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov

Here is the state superintendent’s address: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: ckearl@utah.gov

If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov

It’s All About the Language: Applying Greenfield’s New Speak to Common Core   2 comments

orwell language

If you scour the official Common Core websites, ed.gov website, and the official speeches of Secretary Duncan and President Obama and the Pearson CEA on education, as many of us have done, you may at first knit your eyebrows in confusion.

It all sounds sweet.

How would education reforms that use such pleasant words ever be taking away my constitutional rights? Did the reformers really aim in completely opposite directions from their peachy words in arrangements and mandates and deprivations written elsewhere, in contracts and speeches and grant documents and regulatory changes on the same subject, written by the same groups of people?

Yes, they did.

Government and CCSSO/NGA sites come across as harmless, toothless, and positive, making it nearly impossible to interest the masses in fighting education reforms even though they are hurting our children and our country’s future. It’s even harder to change the direction of state school board members, governors and business people who also see nothing wrong with implementation of Common Core.

Why don’t they see the shackles?

It’s all about the language.

Daniel Greenfield at the Sultan Knish Blog has shed light on the deception. He illuminates the differences between the “new speak” envisioned by “1984″ author George Orwell, and the actual “new speak” deceiving people in 2013.

Below are highlights from Greenfield’s explanation.

Read his full article here.

———-

“Orwell’s mistake in 1984 was assuming that a totalitarian socialist state would maintain the rigid linguistic conventions of bureaucratic totalitarianism…. Liberal Newspeak is the hybrid product of advertising, academia and bureaucracy. It takes ideas from creative leftists, rinses them in conformity, uses techniques from the ad world to make them as safe as possible and then shoves them down everyone’s throat.

[In Orwell's "1984"] Newspeak’s objective was to enforce linguistic schizophrenia… making opposition into a form of madness. Liberal Newspeak’s is less ambitious. It settles for muddling your brain.

Like modern advertising, its goal is to make you feel comfortable without actually telling you anything.

Liberal Newspeak is the chirpy announcer in a drug commercial soothingly telling you about all the fatal side effects while on screen couples have romantic picnics and go whitewater rafting.

That is the job of most of the news media… to be that announcer telling you that… your taxes will go up, your job will go to China and you will die, without getting you upset about the terrible news.

The dictionary of Liberal Newspeak is full of empty and meaningless words. Community, Care, Access, Sharing, Concern, Affordability, Options, Communication, Listening, Engage, Innovating and a thousand others like it are wedged into sentences. Entire pages can be written almost entirely in these words without a single note of meaning intruding on the proceedings.

… The techniques of advertising have been used to pluck up words that people once felt comfortable with and wrap them around the agendas…

Liberal Newspeak is concerned with making people safe while telling them absolutely nothing. It’s a new language that conveys reassurance rather than meaning. Its totem words are almost pre-verbal in that they mean nothing except “You are safe” and “We are taking care of you.”

That is what gibberish like, “We are improving access options for all community interest groups” or “We are striving to innovate while listening to everyone’s concerns” means. Daily life has become filled with meaningless pats on the head like that, which dedicated liberal newspeakers spew up like newborns. This empty babble says nothing. It’s the hum of the beehive. The signal that keeps all the drones headed in the same direction.

… It owes less of its perversity to Marxism than it does to Madison Avenue. The language that was used to convince millions to buy junk that was bad for them or that they didn’t need is used to convince them to buy liberalism.

While the implications of Liberal Newspeak are ominous, its tones aren’t. It deliberately embraces the feminine side of language. It strives to be comforting, nurturing and soothing. It never tells you anything directly. Instead it makes you read everything between the lines. It rarely answers questions. Instead its answers indirectly explain to you why you shouldn’t even be asking the questions.

… Its terminology is so vague that specific questions require a convoluted assemblage of words … There is no room for thoughts, only feelings. You can feel guilty in Liberal Newspeak. You can be outraged, self-righteous or concerned. But you can’t weigh one idea against another because it isn’t a language of ideas. It’s a vocabulary of emotional cues that could just as easily be taught to a smart animal.

… what they are really doing is maintaining conformity in the same way that the Soviet and Red Chinese engineers constantly discussing Lenin and Mao as inspirations for their work…Liberal Newspeak is full of terms about listening, engaging and sharing, but it’s a closed loop.

It’s language as a command and control mechanism for establishing conformity… It’s an unbroken loop of reassuring gibberish punctuated by bursts of anger at outsiders who are not part of the hive and don’t understand how important community access and engaged listening really are.

… It has emotions, but no ideas. Its purpose is to take an individualistic culture… and reduce it to a conformity that promises safety in exchange for never thinking again.”

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COMMON CORE (AKA VOLDEMORT)

If you want to see one example of Greenfield’s idea applied to Common Core, simply look at the word Common Core.

It is the phrase that is most often unspoken. Like Voldemort.

In Utah, they call Common Core the “Utah Core”. In other states it has other names.

On the federal website, it is magically defined without even using the term at all!

“College and Career Ready Standards” are defined there as standards common to a significant number of states.

So any time –ANY TIME– you hear the phrase “college and career ready” you are being talked at, about Common Core.

But you don’t know that, or most people don’t.

You think it could be anybody’s legitimate definition of what makes a student prepared for a great career or a great college. Right? Nope. It means a mediocre standard that may or may not mean a student even studied as high as what used to be a normal course of high school math. (Just ask the NCEE or Jason Zimba.)

It’s all about the language.

The only way to fight manipulation of words and of truth is with its opposite: clear, direct, truthful language.

Thank you, Daniel Greenfield.

Sec. Arne Duncan Makes a Personal Visit to Utah   5 comments

moss and duncan

Carol S. Moss, Utah legislator, caused a bit of a splash when she posted this photo of herself with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Facebook this week. Rep. Moss must have felt it was an honor to meet Mr. Duncan.

Some Utahns feel very differently.

If you don’t know much about your U.S. Secretary of Education, please learn about him.

1. In his own words: (speech) How Duncan and President Obama plan to increase the role of the federal government.

2. In his own words: what top-heavy controls Duncan has mandated for those states who were beneficiaries of the Race to the Top for the Assessments grant (SBAC and PARCC testing consortia members)

3. There is Duncan’s outrageous, official Department of Education “partnership” with the unelected, private D.C. club (CCSSO) that wrote and copyrighted the Common Core Standards –as well as the Common DATA standards. Yes, you read that right. Common Data Standards. The better to control you with, my dear.

4. In Duncan’s own words: what Duncan spun to the Society of American News Editors last June about student privacy and Common Core.

5. A letter– un-responded-to open letter to Secretary Duncan from teachers in Chicago.

6. Another letter –also un-responded-to – the open letter to Secretary Duncan from Democratic Senator Edward Markey about Duncan’s abuses of student data privacy.

Additional own research on Secretary Duncan’s “reforms”:

–Why Duncan made the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list
–The obvious lies of Arne Duncan about student privacy violations: “Spin it Like Duncan
Six sneaky moves that truly harm student privacy that Secretary Duncan has spearheaded

I don’t think many people could be aware of all of this and still feel good about posing for a picture with Secretary Duncan.

————————

I do not think Rep. Moss is bad. I think she is naiive like virtually all our state education leaders. So few have even bothered to ask question one about Common Core’s origins, designs, price tag, experimentality, controlling governance system, and ultimate effects on children.

I’m going to paste Rep. Moss’s Facebook thread here. Decide for yourself whether we ought to be modeling admiration for this “reformer” as Rep. Moss has done, in front of children and other citizens. Or not.

Facebook Thread:

REP. CAROL MOSS: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to Salt Lake City to see the remarkable success of Northwest Middle School and hear from their administrators, teachers, students, and parents about how they transformed Northwest from a low-achieving school with an at-risk population to one of Utah’s best middle schools. A major factor: a $2.3 million school improvement grant which provided additional resources needed to assist struggling students. Most important factor: Visionary administrators and dedicated, talented teachers. (Yes, I am short, but Sec. Duncan is verrrrry tall.) I wish every legislator had been there.

LISA CUMMINS (of Utahns Against Common Core): What a shameful picture! After what Mr. Duncan has said and done, to violate family privacy rights, what he has said about parents (and white suburban moms) and other things, this is not a proud moment for Utah Rep. Moss! I wonder, as does Heather Andrews Williamson, if data was sold for Mr. Duncan’s visit, as it was in California. If I was a parent who’s child was at Northwest, I’d pull my child out of that school as fast as I could! What a pariah!

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss: Your comments are insulting to all the great teachers, administrators and parents who are proud of the success of NW Middle School. They used the grant to help the students make great gains and change a school culture that did not create a great learning environment. They were proud to have Sec. Duncan visit their school and tout it as a public school success. I am sorry to hear such hateful comments about what was a celebratory occasion.

Christel Lane Swasey: Carol Moss, I have to defend Lisa Cummins. Arne Duncan has a history of lying to the American people. I’m sure he’s nice to his children and small animals, and I wish him a Merry Christmas, but he is not a good Secretary of Education nor is he a good example of one who upholds the Constitution or teacher’s autonomy. Lisa Cummins and others are trying to defend teachers’ rights, to defend students’ rights and to fight Duncan’s Common Core and related disaterous “reforms” that hurt us. Some may have felt Mr. Duncan’s visit was a celebratory occasion, but many do not. His painful reforms speak for themselves. We cannot pretend that “all is well in Zion” when it is not.

LISA CUMMINS: Carol, I am sorry you feel my comments are insulting. But I was in no way directing them to the parents, administrators, and especially the teachers. I believe that local control is best, and they do not need the head of education, a department which I see as unconstitutional, to come to give them praise! Seeing their children succeed is of course, great to see. However with Mr. Duncan coming to our State, into our schools, coming close to our children concerns me a great deal!

This man has limited my and other parents authority over our kids’ data by his editing of FERPA laws, two years ago this month. He had the laws edited without Congressional approval or oversight, sighting that shareholders needed to be able to have access when necessary. That getting parental approval was ‘optimal or best practice’.

As our Representative, I would hope that you would support parents’ rights and the privacy of our children, and not be proud to celebrate with a man who seeks to take these away. If Utah is going to retain local control we cannot take handouts and the strings that are attached. There are better ways and people have succeeded with much less.

I hope you will respect my concerns of Arnie Duncan and protecting my and others’ children.

Christel, thank you for standing beside me!

SARAH FELT: I agree with Lisa and Christel. His visit is not something I would be proud of. Yes, be proud of NW school’s accomplishments. (Which by the way she did not attack.) And I would still like to know if what Lisa brought up is true here in Utah also. Was our student data bartered for just like in California? That question was not answered by you. I, as a parent, do not feel it justified to have my child’s personal data sold, particularly without my express consent, not for any amount of money for any potential educational “gain”. You mentioned that NW accepted a grant. What were the terms and conditions of that grant? Are all the parents aware of those conditions? Was there full disclosure?

LeNell Hancock Heywood: Arne Duncan is not a celebrity. The teachers are the true heroes! We need less bureaucrats and more teachers so that class sizes are smaller.

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

barack arne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole article here.

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

Data Baby

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole article.

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

arne barackk

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

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

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

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

1. Federal micromanagement in Common Core testing grant conditions and now, Race to the Top grant lures that go directly to districts and ignore state authority over districts.
2.Federal ESEA 15% capped waiver conditions that deny states the right to add more than 15% to our standards;
3. Federal reviews of tests
4. Federal data collection
5. Federal
disfiguration of previously protective FERPA laws that removed parental rights over student data;
6. President Obama’s four assurances for education reform which governors promised to enact in exchange for ARRA stimulus funds;
7.Obama’s withholding of funds from schools that do not adopt Common Core as read in his Blueprint for Reform (aka The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) which says, “Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

barack arne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(How we wish that it was.)

arne barack

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

apple books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

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

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

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

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

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

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

Mr. Duncan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Count on it.

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

markey images

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

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

Markey letter on data

October 22, 2013

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

Dear Secretary Duncan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a. Why did the Department make these changes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

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Thank you, Senator Markey.

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

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

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

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

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

CEDS common elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best practice FERPA

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

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

Biometric Definition FEDERAL

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

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

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

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

CCSSO disaggregation

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

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

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

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

What do these “models” really model?

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

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

Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:

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

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

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

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

Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Answer is No

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

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

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

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

EDFACTS

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

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

The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:

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

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

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

Please share.

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Postscript: About Control

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

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

Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Dr. Christopher Tienken Speaks Out in New York   1 comment

Dr. Christopher Tienken spoke at a conference on Common Core held in New York this month. His hard-hitting speech, posted below, includes the powerful, shattering truth that there’s no evidence to support the claims of Common Core proponents. The emperor is wearing no clothes.

“Major policies that we impose on children and parents should have evidence to support their effectiveness.” -Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

After you watch the speech, read Dr. Tienken’s scholarship, book chapter excerpts and previously released video about Common Core at his website.

Manchester Union Leader Editorial Stands Up Against Common Core   2 comments

It’s good to see major U.S. Newspapers taking a stand against Common Core, especially after seeing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan specifically target news editors, asking them to spin Common Core the way that federal power grabbers and corporate monopoly-makers want it spun.

This week, the Union Leader said:

“More and more parents are skeptical because there is no satisfying answer to even the most basic questions about Common Core. For example: What is Common Core? It is a set of standards in English “language arts” and math. But what does that mean? The standards are not a list of items students are expected to know, but brief, vague descriptions of broad skills students are expected to have at each grade level. How teachers impart those skills is largely left to them – except that the standards come with suggested methods, some of which seem highly questionable. And even among education experts there is great disagreement over whether these standards are as rigorous or as predictive of success as supporters claim… Many people who hated No Child Left Behind now champion Common Core. But they are peas in a pod. Both amount to national experiments being conducted in real time on our children without any firm sense of what the results will be. This is exactly the wrong way to do education reform in the American republic. One of the primary benefits of a federated republic is that states can funcion, in the famous phrase, as “laboratories of democracy.” Common Core weakens that advantage when it comes to education…

See the full Manchester Union Leader editorial here:

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130922/OPINION01/130929840/0/SEARCH

File This Under We Are Not a Monarchy: “Off With Their Heads” Statement from Arne Duncan to California   3 comments

In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.

But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!

I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”

Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.

And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.

Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law states:

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”

Accountability and transparency to whom?

States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.

We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.

Remember this: Duncan lacks the authority. He only has the audacity. And Congress is letting him run amok with our tax money. Congress needs to reel him in, as Paul Horton and Chuck Grassley and so many others have been declaring.

So, here’s Duncan’s statement:

“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.

“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em

And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:

“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.

The Federal Fist: No Formula Funding if States Reject Common Core   5 comments

First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.

So far, so bad.

Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.

Do the fact check.

The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)

And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”

See their official definition:

College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.

(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)

So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?

Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?

What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)

What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?

Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.

Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:

“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.

Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.

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Other Thoughts On Funding Schools

– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.

Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.

Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?

When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?

How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)

Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.

And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.

Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.

Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.

Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.

Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?

Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.

And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.

Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.

Without Authority: The Federal Access of Private Data Using Common Core   5 comments

Data Baby


On Wednesday, I gave this talk at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta, Maine. I spoke alongside Erin Tuttle, Indiana mother against Common Core; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Heidi Sampson, board member of the Maine State School Board, and Erika Russell, Maine mother against Common Core. I hope to publish the other speakers’ speeches here soon.

——————————————————-

Speaking with legislators in Utah, I’ve learned that the number one concern that Utah constituents repeatedly bring up to representatives is the Common Core and its related data mining.

Utah has not yet followed the lead of Indiana, Michigan and other states in pausing and/or defunding the Common Core, but I believe Utah legislators will soon take a stand. They have to; the state school board and governor won’t, even though the Utah GOP voted on and passed an anti-common core resolution this year, and even though thousands of Utahns are persistently bringing up documented facts to their leaders showing that Common Core damages local liberties and damages the legitimate, classical education tradition that Utahns have treasured.

My talk today will explain how federal data mining is taking place with the assistance of the Common Core initiative.

………………………

The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

So, I ask: Have voters given consent to be governed in matters of education, by the federal government? Nope.

Does the federal government hold any authority to set educational standards and tests, or to collect private student data?

Absolutely not.

The Constitution reserves all educational authority to the states; the General Educational Provisions Act expressly prohibits the federal government from controlling, supervising or directing school systems; and the Fourth Amendment claims “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.

Clearly, the federal government lacks authority to search private data, to produce common tests, or to promote common standards, yet using private institutions, secretive regulatory changes to privacy laws, long-winded grantmaking contracts, and a well-intentioned governors’ club and superintedents’ club as smokescreens, it is overstepping its bounds and is falsely assuming these powers.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is fully aware of these limitations placed upon his agency.

This summer Duncan made another speech, saying critics of Common Core were making outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”</strong>

I need to get that quote cross-stitched and framed.

For years, Duncan has been saying that, “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…”

Translation: Duncan and Obama won’t let pesky laws nor the U.S. Constitution stop them from their control grab even though they’re fully aware of the laws of the land.

Are they really collecting student data without parental knowledge or consent?

How are the Common Core standards and tests involved?
There are at least six answers.

The U.S. Department of Education is:

1. STUNTING STANDARDS WITH A PRIVATE COPYRIGHT AND A 15% CAP FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRACKING STUDENTS:

Why would the federal government want to stunt education? Why would they say to any state, “Don’t add more than 15% to these common standards.” ? Simple: they can’t track and control the people without a one-size-measures-all measuring stick. It is irrelevant to them that many students will be dumbed down by this policy; they just want that measure to match so they can track and compare their “human capital.”

The federal Department of Education works intimately with the Superintendents’ club known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). After the CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the Common Core standards –in partnership with the governors’ club (NGA)– the federal government put a cap over that copyright, saying that all states who adopted Common Core must adhere to it exactly, not adding any more than 15% to those standards, regardless of the needs, goals or abilities of local students. This stunting is embarrassing and most state boards of education try to deny it. But it’s published in many places, both federal and private: That 15% cap is reiterated in the federal Race to the Top Grant, the federal NCLB Waiver, the federal Race to the top for Assessments grant, the SBAC testing consortia criteria, the PARCC eligibility requirement, the Achieve, Inc rules (Achieve Inc. is the contractor who was paid by CCSSO/NGA/Bill Gates to write the standards).

2. CREATING MULTIPLE NATIONAL DATA COLLECTION MECHANISMS

a) Cooperative Agreement with Common Core Testers

In its Cooperative Agreement with the testing group known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government mandated that tests “Comply with… requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis… subject to applicable privacy laws.” Making student-level data available means that personally identifiable student information, such as name, academic scores, contact information, parental information, behavioral information, or any information gathered by common core tests, will be available to the federal government when common core tests begin.

b) Edfacts Data Exchange

Another federal data collection mechanism is the federal EDFACTS data exchange, where state databases submit information about students and teachers so that the federal government can “centralize performance data” and “provide data for planning, policy and management at the federal, state and local levels”. Now, they state that this is just aggregated data, such as grouped data by race, ethnicity or by special population subgroups; not personally identifiable student information. But the federal agency asks states to share the intimate, personally identifiable information at the NCES National Data Collection Model

c) National Data Collection Model

It asks for hundreds and hundreds of data points, including:

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

People may say that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; yet it’s a federal data model and many are following it.

d) CCSSO and EIMAC’s DATA QUALITY CAMPAIGN and Common Educational Data Statistics

The Dept. of Education is partnered with the national superintendents’ club, the CCSSO in a common data collection push: common data standards are asked for at the website called Common Education Data Standards, which is “a joint effort by the CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.

Also at the same CCSSO site (remember, this is a private Common Core-creators’ website, and not a voter-accountable group) CCSSO we learn that the CCSSO runs a program called the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) with this purpose: “improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level.” – See more at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.L2t0sFCm.dpuf

The CCSSO’s Data Quality Campaign has said that
“as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the USDOE-CCSSO partnership.

And it’s already begun.

There are state data alliances that connect data in state agencies, and there are federal data alliances, too. In Utah, the Utah Data Alliance uses the state database to link six agencies that enables examination of citizens from preschool through the workforce. On the federal level, the Department of Defense has partnered with the Department of Education.

3. PROMOTING CORPORATE DATA COLLECTION

Data-mashing across federal agencies and is not the only way in which data is becoming accessible by greater numbers of eyes. It’s also across corporate entities that data sharing is becoming more and more of a push.

At a recent White House event called “Datapalooza,” the CEO of Escholar stated that Common Core is the “glue that actually ties everything together.” Without the aligned common standards, corporate-aligned curriculum, and federally-structured common tests, there would be no common measurement to compare and control children and adults.

4. BUILDING A CONCEALED NATIONAL DATABASE BY FUNDING 50 STATE DATABASES THAT ARE INTEROPERABLE

Every state now has a state longitudinal database system (SLDS) that was paid for by the federal government. Although it might appear not to be a national database, I ask myself why one of the conditions of getting the ARRA funds for the SLDS database was that states had to build their SLDS to be interoperable from school to district to state to inter-state systems. I ask myself why the federal government was so intent upon making sure every state had this same, interoperable system. I ask myself why the grant competition that was offered to states (Race to the Top) gave out more points to those states who had adopted Common Core AND who had built an SLDS. It appears that we have a national database parading as fifty individual SLDS systems.

5. SHREDDING FEDERAL PRIVACY LAW AND CRUSHED PARENTAL CONSENT REQUIREMENT

There was, up until recently, an old, good federal law called FERPA: Family Educational Rights Privacy Act. It stated, among other things, that no one could view private student data without getting written parental consent.

That was then. This is now.

Without getting permission from Congress to alter the privacy law, the Department of Education made so many regulatory changes to FERPA that it’s virtually meaningless now. The Department of Ed loosened terms and redefined words such as “educational agency,” “authorized representative,” and “personally identifiable information.” They even reduced “parental consent” from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The Department of Ed formally defined the term “biometric” on a list of ways a student would be personally identified: “Biometric record,” as used in the definition of “personally identifiable information,” means a record of one or
more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be
used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include
fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

For all of this, the Department has been sued.

6. RELEASING A REPORT PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL DATAMINING TECHNIQUES

In his speech to the American Society of News Editors this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that there is no federal collection of student data, and then he said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

This was another attempt to mock those who are doing their homework, and to further deceive the American people. Because biometric data mining (biometric is defined by the Dept. of Ed as biological and behavioral characteristics of students –see above–) is exactly what Duncan is advocating. In the 2013 Department of Education report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” the federal government recommends the use of data-mining techniques that use physical responses from biofeedback devices to measure mood, blood volume, pulses and galvanic skin responses, to examine student frustration and to gather “smile intensity scores.” Using posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, wireless skin conductors, schools are encouraged to learn which students might lack “grit, tenacity and perserverance” in engaging with, or in believing, what is being taught.

Grit sensors

We can call the bluff on the Department of Education and on the Council of Chief State School Officers. They have no authority to gather private student data without parental knowledge or consent. We can help state leaders understand and fight against what is going on, and help them to say no to what the CCSSO terms their “coordinated data ask.” Strong legislation can be written and SLDS systems can be reworked to end privacy threatening interoperability frameworks.

Here’s a To-Do list for state representatives:

— We can stop the 50 states’ SLDS interoperability.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the Common Core tests without penalizing the student academically.

— We can make it possible for parents and students to opt out of the SLDS tracking and surveillance databases.

— We can stop the educational and data mining malpractice that is clearly happening under the Common Core Initiative, remembering what Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University said: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

We, the People, have to call them on it.

Right Under Our Noses: EIMAC   16 comments

My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.

Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:

1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.

2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)

So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level - See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf

Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??

Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?

Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:

“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.

FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.

FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.

FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.

FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”

The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.

Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.

He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.

Right Under Our Noses.

Video: What We Shared at Beck’s Man in the Moon Event   7 comments


Here’s a video from the conference at Glenn Beck’s Man in the Moon event in Salt Lake City this weekend. Thanks to FreedomWorks for introducing and filming this presentation.

In this video, Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis, Christie Hooley and I speak.

In this one, Wyoming teacher Christie Hooley speaks again.

U.S. Secretary of Ed to News Editors: Spin It Like Duncan   12 comments

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is angry.

How dare Americans demand freedom from nationalized testing, nationalized standards and data collection?

In yesterday’s speech to the American Society of News Editors, Duncan said:

“…This event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects.  For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs.  So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards.  Academic standards used to be just a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they’re a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. Why? That’s because a new set of standards… are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools…  And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.”

Indeed it is.

Duncan admits: “… the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula.  So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created…Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist”.

Thank you, Secretary Duncan, for pointing this out.

FEDERAL FINGERPRINTS

Federally created lesson plans don’t exist because Duncan’s department has worked so hard to get around the rules (i.e., Constitution) and to make others do the wrongs that the Department then promotes and funds.  The Department’s associates (i.e. Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Gates, David Coleman) work with Achieve, Inc., with SBAC, with PARCC, with CCSSO, with NGA and others, to collectively produce the federally-approved education “reform” agenda known as the Common Core Initiative. We know this.

But, thanks to Duncan for bringing up the term “lack of evidence.” We’ll get to that.

AUTHORITY, PLEASE

Duncan says: “The Department of Education is prohibited from creating or mandating curricula.”  YES!

Yet the Department has coerced and urged and cajoled  and bribed American educators into joining the Common Core State Standards Initiative, has funded tests upon which these standards are bases, and have mandated that the testing consortia must share student-level data with the federal government concerning Common Core tests. Just see the Cooperative Agreement for oodles of power-grabbing evidence that uses the tests as vehicles.

Duncan says there is no evidence of a federal takeover using Common Core.  Well, almost;  there is no trace of an Department of Education fingerprint on the writing of the national standards, tests and curriculum. This it correct.

But there are massive, unmistakable Department of Education fingerprints all over the promotion, marketing, funding and imposition of the standards on states. These fingerprints are everywhere.

But the Department of Education has been very careful to use other groups as smokescreens for its “reforms” while the Department oversteps its authority. It was the CCSSO/NGA that copyrighted the national standards, not the Department of Education.

It was David Coleman and his four friends who wrote the standards (with token feedback, largely ignored, from others) It was PARCC, SBAC, and AIR that created the common tests.  It was Bill Gates (who partnered with Pearson) to write the lion’s share of the American educational curriculum.  And it is the Department of Education that put a 15% cap on top of those copyrighted standards that they say are state-led.

EVIDENCE, PLEASE

Guess what? There is no evidence that Common Core will do anything it has claimed it can do does not exist– there’s no empirical data, no pilot test, no study to verify claims that the standards will improve diddledy.

We might each ask the reporters to ask for that evidence.

NOT RADICAL/ NOT CURRICULUM

Duncan says that Common Core agenda is “neither radical nor a curriculum.”

I beg to differ.

It is radical to create nationalized, (socialist-styled) testing and standards for schools in a land of liberty.

It is radical to shred the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) as the Department of Education has done, to demote “parental consent” from a privacy-protecting mandate to a “best practice” and to redefine protective terms to make them nonprotective, including “educational agency,” “directory information,” and “authorized representative.”

It is radical to carefully work around the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law’s prohibitions against federal control of education. For just one example: in the “Cooperative Agreement” between the Department of Ed and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) the federal government demands that states give conferences and phone updates, synchronicity of educational tests, triangulation of collected student-level data under the federal eye, and much more.

 

And Common Core is driving and creating a national curriculum, by encouraging governmental and corporate collusion to narrow and monopolize the educational purchases of the nation.

Duncan tries hard to persuade the American Editors Society in his speech to separate standards and curriculum, yet we all know that standards and curriculum go hand in hand –like frames shape homes, like hands shape gloves, like bones support flesh– standards direct curriculum.

As the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates, said in his speech at a 2009 Conference of State Legislatures, “Identifying common standards is just the starting point. We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards… When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well…. for the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers.” Watch clip here.

WE’RE NOT COLLECTING STUDENT DATA

Duncan also denies the existence of any federal push to collect personal student data. He says that critics, “make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

No federal collection of student data? What a huge lie. Readers, please fact-check Secretary Duncan yourselves.

Aggregated student data has long been collected federally at the Edfacts Data Exchange. Edfacts states, “EDFacts is a U. S. Department of Education initiative to put performance data at the center of policy, management and budget decisions for all K-12 educational programs. EDFacts centralizes performance data supplied by K-12 state education agencies.” Although the information collected here is aggregated (grouped, not individualized) data, this will change because of the federal requests for more disaggregated (ungrouped, individualized) data.

Here are some federal sites you may click on to verify that the federal government is asking for more and more data points about each individual in our school systems. Click on:

Common Educational Data Standards – click on K12 student and find personally defining words like “identity,” “parent,” “incident,” “contact,” “authentication identity provider.”

National Data Collection Model – under “core entities” you will find “teacher,” “student,” “school,” “bus stop” and other identifying terms.

And Duncan is surely aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which helped copyright and produce the standards, has a stated commitment to disaggregation of student data.

Lastly. A simple common sense test.

If Arne Duncan were truly concerned about the quality of American schools, if he and his group cared about the education of children and not the controlling and surveillance of populations, then would they not have pushed for tested, piloted standards that would have used, for example, the sky-high standards of Massachusetts as a template, rather than circumventing all voters, circumventing academic tradition, and using this literature-diminishing, algorithm-slowing, cursive-slashing, informational text-pushing, unpiloted experiment called Common Core?

So am I suggesting that this is a diabolical scheme? YES.

Duncan himself used the term in his speech. To make fun of those of us who see it as exactly that.

He quoted columnist Michael Gerson —President Bush’s former speechwriter— who wrote that if the Common Core “is a conspiracy against limited government, it has somehow managed to recruit governors Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, current governors Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… A plot this vast is either diabolical or imaginary.”

Diabolical is the right word.

While Duncan and his education reformers may truly believe that socialism/communism is the way to go, I do not. And if most of America does, then let’s at least vote on it.

If anyone doubts that total governmental control of schools and children, to the detriment of families, is Duncan’s direction, view Duncan’s interview on Charlie Rose, where he outlines his goals for the complete takeover of family life by schools. Schools are to be health clinics, parental education centers, are to be open six or seven days a week and twelve hours or more per day, all year round, as day and night centers of civilization.

Folks, it’s not just standards.

Not by a long shot.

A Global Monitoring Report From the International Bureau of Education   8 comments

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/post-2015/

With all your free time this summer, here’s something fun.  Study the reports of the global monitoring group at the U.N.’s International Bureau of Education, and see how much of what they say aligns with, or has inspired, Common Core.

No?  Okay, fine.  I’ll do it.

Here’s just a peek into the International Bureau of Education and the Global Monitoring Report.  These sound like something from a horror movie or a chapter in Orwell’s 1984, I know.  But they are actually real.

“Education for All” is a United Nations project that uses the same catch phrases used by Common Core proponents in the United States.  For instance, the stated goals of the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) –which of course, sound good on the surface– mirror recent U.S. education reforms:  Emphasizing equity.  Emphasizing measurability. Emphasizing finance.

Click here:  GMR Proposed post-2015 education goals: emphasizing equity, measurability and finance.

But what do those three concepts mean for U.S. citizens?

EquityEducation For All promotes the redistribution of world wealth so that ultimately, no locality or individual has ownership over his/her own earnings, and global government owns all, so that global government can ensure fair distribution to all.  This is not voluntary sharing; this is punishable, forced redistribution– it is legalized stealing of local taxes, by governments abroad.

Measurability – this means increased surveillance and testing of all teachers and students so that all can be compared and controlled by the global governance.

Finance – In the powerpoint presentation that was given at  a Brussels, Belgium meeting last month, ‘Education post-2015: Equity, measurability and finance’, you can see that it is the United States that is being told to “donate” to make this global educational governance possible.  Annually, the U.S. should “donate” 53 billion, the powerpoint presentation states.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6O8_EjUkaU (GMR “Education for All” video link)

So when you watch this Global Monitoring Report video, you’ll hear the presenter describing the sad facts of poverty in foreign countries as if she were leading a fundraising effort for a charity.

But that’s not what it is.  It is a justification for global communism, which religious leaders have been warning us about for many, many years; communism is, frankly, a  captivating tool of evil.  And many are falling for its lure because it beckons to the envious as well as the charitable.  It asks both to give away self reliance, self respect and freedom– in favor of forced redistribution.

My point today is that a Common Core of cookie-cutter education is not just an American phenomenon.  Globalists want it, too.  And they don’t care if some people lose academically or financially, so long as everyone ends up the same.  The very same.

One particular character who reveals the Common Core / Global Core same-same connection is British globalist Sir Michael Barber, CEA of the world’s largest educational sales company, Pearson.

Barber praises and promotes nationalized educational systems in many countries, lumping Common Core in with the rest.  Watch and listen to his Council on Foreign Relations video and audio interviews. Watch his speeches on YouTube.  He specifically mentions irreversible global reforms, global data collection, and the American Common Core. He says education should be borderless. He defines all education as needing to be “ethically underpinned” by the environmental movement.  He says that all children in all places should be learning the exact same things.  He promotes global databases to compare all people in global educational.  He has written a book (“Deliverology”) dedicated to American education reformers, telling them how to force “irreversible reform”.

He also likes the terms “sustainable reform” and “revolution” and uses these in his Twitter-tweets, (along with  rantings about the need for gun control in the U.S.)  Oh, and his company, Pearson, has aligned all its textbooks, teacher trainings, early childhood education products and other merchandising, to Common Core. Of course.

Sir Michael Barber is highly praised and quoted by our U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan– openly,  lavishly, in public speeches.

Sir Michael Barber.  The man who bridges Common Core to Global Core.

Don’t let him out of your sight.

Laurie Rogers: On Taking Over Children, America’s Future   1 comment

I love this educator’s site, entitled Betrayed –by Laurie Rogers.

This most recent article on the Betrayed website is greatly enriched by Laurie Rogers’ use of Animal Farm quotes, like: “He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?” (Animal Farm)

Article reposted in full, with permission from Laurie H. Rogers

Click on link to read the original, with electronic links to referenced items.

Enjoy!

Children are the key to America’s future. The government wants control of that key.

Those who exert the first influence upon the mind, have the greatest power.– Horace Mann, Thoughts

The writing is on the wall. In a June 7, 2013, statement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said President Obama is planning to “redesign” America’s high schools. This redesigning will take place through “competitive grants” (also known as “bait”). Who will pay for this redesigning? (Taxpayers will, as we always do.) How much will it cost? (The secretary and president haven’t said, as they rarely do.) Does the president have the legal or constitutional authority to “redesign” America’s high schools? (No.) According to 20 USC 3403, Obama and Duncan also lack the authority to direct standards, curriculum and teaching approaches. That isn’t stopping them. They say their interventions are for our own good.

He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be? (Animal Farm)

Please take note of the language in Duncan’s press release. The “redesigned” high schools will entail:

•”Student-centered” learning

•”Project- or-problem-based” learning

•”Real-world experiences” and “real-world challenges”

•”Evidence-based professional development”

•Engaging in “complex projects” and working with others to apply knowledge

•Moving “away from the traditional notion of seat time”Uh, oh.

Math advocates will recognize that language. It typically alerts us to reform math – to fuzzy content, “discovery learning” (or constructivism), excessive group work, teachers who don’t directly teach, and lofty concepts presented before skills. That approach has not worked well for students for the last three decades.

It seems Duncan is a reformer, and why wouldn’t he be? Public education systems, colleges of education, curriculum developers and policy makers all have been bathed in reform philosophy and approaches since the 1980s. The president’s new mandate – excuse me, his new initiative – appears to mandate an instructional model that has completely failed children for 30 years.

Duncan and Obama also push the controversial Common Core initiatives, which are leading many districts to fuzzy math and weak English programs. The CC math standards contain a separate section, called the “Standards for Mathematical Practice.” Many states and districts are emphasizing the SMP, and the SMP supports a constructivist approach. Voila: more reform math.

It’s noteworthy that the publisher of Singapore Math – a series long praised by traditionalists – released a new “discovery” version based on the CC. Other publishers also have done so. They appear to believe the CC embraces constructivism, and they’re going along with it.

And now we have this high-school initiative, announced with the same language used by proponents of reform math. After three decades of grim failure, reform approaches to math are unlikely to suddenly work for students just because the feds throw another trillion taxpayer dollars at them.

In April, Obama also announced plans to “expand” early learning programs for 4-year-olds, rolling them into the K-12 system. Initially, children will be from low-income families, but other families and toddlers are to be rolled in, too. “Preschool for All” is estimated to cost taxpayers $75 billion over 10 years.

This de facto federal takeover of public education is cunning and devious. Many Americans have been persuaded that the Common Core and related initiatives are “state-led” and academically better; that nothing is federally mandated; that our right to privacy is intact; and that the Standards are the key.

Not true.

Proponents say the CC initiatives are voluntary; internationally benchmarked; research-based; rigorous; proved to work; that they’ll save money; they’ll provide commonality and consistency; and that they aren’t “one-size-fits-all.”

Not true.

The CC initiatives were never internationally benchmarked or academically sufficient. They aren’t grounded in scientifically conducted, replicable research. They’re unproved, with no student data behind them. They’re a national experiment on children. They won’t save taxpayers money. A base cost estimate just to get started is $140 billion nationwide (14,000 school districts x $10 million each).

The CC initiatives are voluntary only in a technical sense. States and districts have been threatened with the loss of federal funds, with the loss of money for impoverished students, and (ironically) with punishments under the No Child Left Behind Act if they don’t comply.

This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half. (Animal Farm)

The CC initiatives aren’t “state-led.” The feds are pushing them very hard. They were rammed through states before they were completed, with many proponents appearing to have had a financial reason to support them. The Department of Education has yet to fulfill my FOIA request from four years ago on its role in the development of the CC, but even if the initiatives really were “state-led,” why do the organizations in charge claim to not be subject to public-disclosure laws?

The nature of the CC also is expanding rapidly. Initially, this was K-12 standards in mathematics and English/language arts, but now it’s to be a complete nationalized educational program – with standards, tests, curricula and professional development; from cradle through workforce (P-20); in all subjects, all grades and all schools; in daycares, preschools, K-12 systems and colleges.

The CC initiatives also include an intrusive national database on children and their parents and guardians. Data and information are to be collected and shipped around public agencies, corporations and organizations without our knowledge or consent. Certain state and federal laws were altered or ignored in order to allow and facilitate this sharing of private information. Citizens were not informed.

At the foot of the end wall of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written, there lay a ladder broken in two pieces. … [N]ear at hand there lay a lantern, a paint-brush, and an overturned pot of white paint. (Animal Farm)

The CC initiatives appear to entail serious violations of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Code. The overall deceit is so huge, few believe it. Fewer in leadership have questioned it. Legislators on all sides, media, state agencies, governors, districts, money advocates, unions, corporations and foundations have lined up at the Common Core trough, ready for a treat and a pat on the head.

The birds did not understand Snowball’s long words, but they accepted his explanation, and all the humbler animals set to work to learn the new maxim by heart. (Animal Farm)

How long will it be before the feds threaten the loss of taxpayer dollars if states don’t comply with the new high school “grant” initiative or the new early learning initiative? How long before states and districts shrug off questions from parents and taxpayers, saying they had no choice in these matters?

Considering the unproved and dictatorial nature of these federal initiatives, they can’t be about academics. I expect the feds will find it necessary to redesign middle schools to “align” with redesigned high schools. Elementary schools will have to “align” with redesigned middle schools. Preschools will have to “align” with redesigned elementary schools. Colleges are already aligning. It will be one brick at a time, each ripped from the fabric and foundation of the country. This is about control.

With this incredible taxpayer expense – and with academic programs that continue to be as weak as a White House explanation – the children and the country will sink into economic and academic dust. Education policy makers have learned nothing over three decades. Or, perhaps they’ve learned everything. Choose your poison. No doubt, Obama and Duncan will report great improvements.

Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer – except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. (Animal Farm)

The Department of Education is now dictatorial and intrusive, assisted by non-government organizations and corporations working together behind our back. Did you think fascism was just for right-wingers? Read up on “fascism” (but do look beyond Google’s definition). This is educational tyranny.

There are some things you can do, however:

Help your child. Fill in academic gaps. Leave the public system if it isn’t working for your child.•Support Alabama Representative Martha Roby’s effort to rein in the U.S. Department of Education. Ask your representatives to support H.R.5 (the Student Success Act 2013), introduced in Congress on June 6, 2013. This bill won’t undo everything, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Say no to the intrusive data collection that comes with a district’s participation in the CC. Don’t tell them anything about your family that you don’t want Bill Gates, Pearson Education, the ED, the IRS, the Department of Justice, and other government agencies to know. Refuse questionnaires and surveys. Don’t tell them your voting status, political preference or religion.

“In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king…” (BBC series Sherlock). Don’t let them have the key.

———————————-

Rogers, L. (June 2013). “Children are the key to America’s future. The government wants control of that key.”

Retrieved June 17 2013 from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

Obama Redesigning All High Schools   11 comments

The Federal government is altering America and shrinking liberty so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with all the destruction. Much of it is connected to education reforms.

There’s the removal of local control of education via Common Core tests/standards. There’s the removal of parental consent via the 50 federally placed (paid-for) State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS and P-20) which track all children and from which no student can opt out. There’s Obamacare and its mandate to support abortion, and its related plot to increase the numbers of medical facilities that are in public schools. There’s the IRS/FBI assault on privacy, which violates our Constitutional right not to be subject to unlawful searches and seizures and which plays in to the SLDS/P-20 tracking. There’s Obama’s ConnectEd Initiative, which taxes phone bills to pay for Common Core testing technology nationally, regardless of how any of us feel about the unvetted Common Core. But all of this is old news.

Today I learned that Obama is “redesigning” all high schools.

Here’s the link. http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-redesigning-americas-high-schools

In part, the redesigning will “promote a rethinking of the high school learning experience” by using more “student-centered learning,” using more “wrap-around support services,” provide “career-related competencies,” doing “project-or-problem-based learning” do “structured work-based learning,” “redesigning school calendars,” and “expanding a comprehensive system of student support.”

It’s central planning. The “wraparound support services” were described by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the interview below. Arne wants 6-7 days a week of school. He wants schools to be the center of society, rather than families being the center of society. He is a socialist.

Are we all?

What’s Wrong With Social Justice? Rabbi Lapin Explains   9 comments

I’ve never seen a better episode on the Blaze than that April 2013 episode with Rabbi Daniel Lapin. They spoke about collectivism. Some call it Socialism. Others, Consensus or Social Justice. It’s all the same: it’s top-down redistribution, by force.

The collectivism movement has its heartbeat inside education reform. It aims to lure us away from individual worth, individual wealth, individual rights, liberty or having an independent voice, all in the name of consensus, social justice, and collectivism.

In Utah, we have a problem with being too trusting. So many honest people fall into the trap of believing that others must think and behave honestly, too. And they fall into the trap of believing that collectivism or social justice have something to do with compassion.

Jesus warned his followers of this trap.

“I send you forth as as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16)

Because the serpents are out there. We have to be smarter than we have been. We have to identify and outsmart the serpents –or we and our children will live without liberty under the collectivist banner of equality. It’s that simple. Right now, it’s called social justice. Proponents of social justice make it sound like compassion, steering clear from the pesky concepts of “individuality” or “freedom” or “local control” that the Founding Fathers bled for.

The U.S. Secretary of Ed., Arne Duncan, says, “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.” – Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009 speech. At an IES research conference, again Duncan said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.” – IES research conference, 2009

Social Justice and wealth redistribution are concepts that come up over and over again in Department of Education reports and speeches. They are pervasively being taught in our schools and in teacher colleges.

The current U.S. Equity and Excellence Commission recently served up a report called “For Each And Every Child.” Read it. It aims to redistribute education and wealth. You will actually find these phrases: “allocate resources to level the playing field across states,” “address disparities,” “advancing national equity and excellence goals using a combination of incentives and enforcement,” and “Historically, our approach to local control has often made it difficult to achieve funding adequacy and educational equity.”

It’s down with local control; up with forced redistribution.

Parents must arm their schoolgoing children with truth so that they can be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

I saw a very wise dove two months ago on t.v. He is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and the day I heard him speak, he was a guest on the Glenn Beck t.v. show.

The t.v. conversation went like this:

Rabbi Daniel Lapin: Collectivism is, as it’s usually defined, as any kind of political, or social or economic philosophy that stresses our interdependence with one another. You and I agree with that. We couldn’t live without each other. We know that; we understand that.

Glenn Beck: Yeah, no man is an island.

Rabbi Lapin: We get it. That’s not what collectivism really is. What collectivism really is, is a formalized, deliberate structure…deliberate attempt to create a moral matrix to legitimize taking things from one group of people and giving it to another. That’s what collectivism is all about. It’s essentially finding a framework of virtue about stealing.He goes on to say that the “manure” that fertilizes the idea of collectivism is materialism, “the fundamental conviction that nothing that isn’t material matters in the world.”

Glenn Beck: Define materialism. Because in my own head I was thinking it was about having all this great stuff. But you’re talking about that there is no spiritual part of the world, that it is only the material make-up.

Rabbi Lapin: Well… Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco, speaker of the California State Assembly… defined materialism.… What he said is, “If I cannot eat it, wear it, drive it, or make love to it, I’m not interested in it.” That’s a pretty good definition of materialism. If I can’t actually see it, touch it, make use of it, exploit it, benefit from it in some way, it doesn’t exist. In other words, there is no such thing as love. There’s no such thing as loyalty. There is no such thing as awe. There’s no such thing as staring at the heavens in wonder or biting into an apple and just wanting to thank somebody for giving that to you. None of that is true, because it’s all just firing of neurons in your cortex and your spinal column. There’s no mystery in life; it is all thoroughly basic and scientific.

…If materialism and collectivism encourages competition about being a bigger victim, what does this [making money] philosophy engender? Competition to provide service. How beautiful is that! It’s figuring out, to recognize that you will succeed best at making money if you are obsessively preoccupied with supplying the needs of your fellow human beings.
Which is better? Making wealth for your use by providing service to others, or requiring wealth from service providers to provide goods and services to someone who did not earn it? Clearly, the answer is making wealth through service is more moral.
But what about those who can’t provide for themselves? The best answer is for those whose love makes them feel responsible for the weaker members of society to provide for them willingly. And where those closest can’t do enough, then the caring larger public of service providers will offer help. I’m more willing to trust that goodness to a people whose goal is to find ways to serve than I am to trust a people who look for ways to take wealth from service providers.

———

The t.v. conversation went on as Rabbi Lapin explained why collectivism is materialism, which sees everything in tangible, ownable terms, and sees nothing in spiritual terms –there’s no love, loyalty, eternity, or other intangibles; collectivism sees a plant or a cow no differently than a human being; it also sees the death of a plant or a cow no differently than the death of a human being. This is why the collectivists want so badly to indoctrinate all people into earth-worship rather than God-worship; because by persuading humans that we are no more important on earth than a plant or a cow, we may more easily give up our rights, our property, our money and our liberty –to the collective, which is of course, controlled and operated by a very few.

Collectivism v. Making Money

Rabbi Lapin provided a powerful chart. It clearly explained how service/capitalism differs from theft/collectivism. Collectivism/Materialism has as its highest virtue, equality; collectivism stimulates envy, creates competition for victimhood, creates an ambition community organized for politics, and results in static poverty. On the other side, the chart explained that Making Money has as its highest virtue, freedom; that captitalism creates competition for service, that it stimulates success and achievement, that it creates ambition for respectability and riches; and that its result is dynamic growth.

It’s pretty simple. But few people know it.

Please make sure your own children understand it.

Our children are now navigating textbooks that preach the opposite of what the Rabbi (and our founding fathers) have said. Increasingly, textbooks teach that the United Nations (collectivism) are more impressive than the United States (individualism/liberty); that local control is overrated, and that environmental concerns outweigh the concerns of the U.S. Constitution. At least my daughter’s Pearson A.P. Geography textbook did. There was a great emphasis on the United Nations and Sustainability and a de-emphasis on actually learning where countries, rivers and mountains are, in that book. It’s just geography, right? No. Everything is changing.

Open Letter: Democrats Uniting Against Common Core and Race to the Top   9 comments

This open letter is published with permission from the author, liberal high school history teacher and former professor Paul Horton of Chicago.

 

The Honorable Tom Harkin

Chairman, Subcommittee on Labor,

Health and Human Services, and Education

Senate Appropriations Committee

June 3, 2013

Dear Chairman Harkin,

I was very saddened to hear that you have decided not to run for reelection as a United States senator. You have always represented the most honest branch of the Democratic Party and the long proud legacy of Midwestern prairie populism extending from James B. Weaver, to Williams Jennings Bryan, to Bob LaFollette, the Farm-Labor party, Paul Simon, George McGovern, and Tom Daschle. We could also count the comedian turned senator from Minnesota in this, but he needs a few more years of “seasoning.” I am sure that you are mentoring him in the tradition. Your friend and my senator, Dick Durbin, shares this tradition, but I am worried that he has cozied up too closely with the Chicago plutocrats to be an effective spokesperson for “the small fry.”

I write because you hold a very important position in congress that has oversight over Education. I am a history teacher, a historian, a leader of history teachers, and a critic of the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top Mandates. I have thirty years of teaching under my belt, including service to the people of the great state of Iowa at Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls where I taught high school students and trained pre service history teachers at the University of Northern Iowa.

Your friend and colleague, senator Grassley, has sent you a letter expressing his concerns about the Race to the Top mandates and the Common Core Curriculum Standards, so I will not belabor the concerns that he has already expressed to you, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/19/common-core-standards-attacked-by-republicans/.

I would like to encourage you to call our Secretary of Education before your committee and ask him some hard questions about the way that the RTTT mandates were constructed. His responses to the concerns that many citizens have from all points on the political spectrum have been exceedingly evasive. He typically claims that those who are opposed to the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards are hysterical wing nuts who fully embrace Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theories about attempts to create a one world government: <http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/paul_horton_of_common_core_con.html&gt;.

In fact, despite the claims of a recent Washington Post story (<http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tea-party-groups-rallying-against-common-core-education-overhaul/2013/05/30/64faab62-c917-11e2-9245-773c0123c027_story.html&gt;), critics of the RTTT mandates and the CCS come from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. In the national education debate, the status quo agenda that is being pushed comes from the corporate middle of both parties that is backed by many of those who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the current economic “recovery” in Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Manhattan (and Westchester County) and large foundations.

I humbly recommend that Mr. Duncan be called before your committee to answer some serious questions under oath about corporate and investor influence on Education policy. Mr. Duncan told a committee of congress that he did not want to “participate in the hysteria” surrounding the RTTT and the CCS. Because he is a public servant, it is his duty to serve the people of the United States. Part of his job is to be accountable to the public.

I recommend a few questions that any populist or progressive senator would have asked in the 1890s or early twentieth century:

1)     How many of your staffers have worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Who are they, and why did you hire them?

2)     What role did these staffers and Bill Gates have on the formulation of the RTTT mandates?

3)     How much classroom teaching experience do the principal authors of the RTTT mandates have, individually, and as a group?

4)     Why are these individuals qualified to make decisions about education policy?

5)     Were you, or anyone who works within the Department of Education in contact with any representative or lobbyist representing Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill, or InBloom before or during the writing of the RTTT mandates?

6)     What is the Broad Foundation? What is your connection to the Broad Foundation? What education policies does the Broad Foundation support? How do these policies support public education? How do these policies support private education? What was the role of the Broad Foundation in the creation of the RTTT mandates?

7)     How many individuals associated with the Broad Foundation helped author the report, “Smart Options: Investing Recovery Funds for Student Success” that was published in April of 2009 and served as a blueprint for the RTTT mandates? How many representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assisted in writing this report? What was their role in authoring this report? How many representatives of McKinsey Consulting participated in authoring this report? What was David Coleman’s role in authoring this report?

8)     Do you know David Coleman? Have you ever had any conversations with David Coleman? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with David Coleman?  Did anyone within the Department of Education have any connection to any of the authors of the Common Core Standards? Did anyone in your Department have any conversations with any of the authors of the Common Core Standards as they were being written?

9)     Have you ever had any conversations with representatives or lobbyists who represent the Walton Family Foundation? Has anyone on your staff had any conversations with the Walton Family Foundation or lobbyists representing the Walton Family Foundation? If so, what was the substance of those conversations?

10)Do you know Michelle Rhee? If so, could you describe your relationship with Michelle Rhee? Have you, or anyone working within the Department of Education, had any conversations with Students First, Rhee’s advocacy group, about the dispersal foundation funds for candidates in local and state school board elections?

This is just a start. Public concerns about possible collusion between the Department of Education and education corporations could be addressed with a few straightforward answers to these and other questions.

Every parent, student, and teacher in the country is concerned about the influence of corporate vendors on education policy. What is represented as an extreme movement by our Education Secretary can be more accurately described as a consumer revolt against shoddy products produced by an education vendor biopoly (Pearson and McGraw Hill). Because these two vendors have redefined the education marketplace to meet the requirements of RTTT, they both need to be required to write competitive impact statements for the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice.

Senator Harkin, I have a simple solution to this education mess. You represent a state with a great education system. In Iowa, there are great teachers in Cumming, Hudson, and West Des Moines. Most teachers across the country are dedicated, talented, and creative. They, and not Pearson, McGraw Hill, or InBloom , have a better sense about what is good for kids. Allow teachers to create national rubrics to evaluate authentic assessments and allow teachers to do their jobs and grade these assessments. We can save billions of dollars in a time of austerity if we do this.  You have control over the disbursement of RTTT funds. These funds should go to teacher assessments, not assessments designed by people with little or no classroom experience. Likewise, these assessments should be graded by teachers, not by temporary employees or computers under the control of for profit corporations.

Let’s invest in our teachers to insure that this investment stays in our communities and states.  Education vendors are not loyal to kids, parents, or states. They seek profit, and they will invest their proceeds wherever they can make the most money. It is time for some common sense. We need education policy for the small fry, not education policy for plutocrats.

I would love to speak to you and to your committee on these issues.

The very best to you,

Paul Horton

History teacher

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

former History Instructor, The University of Northern Iowa

Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Cedar Falls, Iowa

Just Like Stalin’s 5-Year Plan   3 comments

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.

Get Wise, America: Defining Terms of Education Reform   3 comments

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?
 

School Data Collection Facts Summary   32 comments

 
  • 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.
The types of information that the Department will collect includes biometric information (DNA, fingerprints, iris patterns) and parental income, nicknames, medical information, extracurricular information, and much more. See page 4 at  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf and see http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
  • 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. http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
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?
Jenni White of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) states that the only way to get free of this federal data collection invasion is to put political pressure on our governors to give that ARRA money back.  As long as we keep it, we are in data collection chains by the federal government; also, our increasing buy-in to common core exacerbates the educational tech scam on the corporate side. Dept. of Education infringements upon state law and freedom are explained in the white paper by Jenni White entitled “Analysis of Recent Education Reforms and the Resulting Impact on Student Privacy”  –  http://www.scribd.com/doc/94149078/An-Analysis-of-Recent-Education-Reforms-and-the-Resulting-Impact-on-Student-Privacy
  • What else is at stake?
Sheila Kaplan 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/
The system also allows the governments to track, steer and even to punish teachers, students and citizens more easily. http://cte.ed.gov/docs/NSWG/Workforce_Data_Brief.pdf
  • 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.

Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform: #8 – Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education   13 comments

Arne Duncan:   U.S. Secretary of Education

Countdown #8

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

and:

“…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.

Because Stalking is Creepy –Especially When the Government Does It   Leave a comment

Michelle Malkin’s true to her word. She said her New Year’s Resolution would be to expose the truth about Common Core, and she’s well on her way. Her fourth installment in the series “Rotten to the Core” is out.

In “The Feds’ Invasive Student Tracking Data Base” Malkin brings up the fact that while millions of Americans worry about government drones spying on citizens from the skies, millions are unaware that Washington is already spying on us using a web of recent “education reforms” known as the Common Core Initiative.

Malkin shares a link to the National Data Collection Model which asks states to report intimate details of an individual’s life, including bus stop times, parental names, nicknames, languages spoken, and more.

Reading her article made me think of last year’s “child privacy no more” revelation.

Last year, when I first learned these student data tracking facts, I contacted my state school board to ask if there was an opt-out privilege.  Could my public school attending child NOT be intimately tracked by the state’s SLDS data collection system?  The answer came back, eventually.  They said NO.  They blamed it on the technology: the technology doesn’t allow us to opt certain children out.

Agencies mashing data = citizen surveillance but under the nice concept of "sharing".

The idea of “data driven decision making” has become a passion to many educrats, corporate icons  and government leaders (Think Obama, Duncan, Joanne Weiss,  –or Utah’s  own John Brandt, David Wiley, and Judy Park).

“Data Driven” is a  concept used as justification  for behavior that in the end amounts to corporate/government stalking of children –without any parental consent.

I’m not using the word “stalking” facetiously. Does the governmental obsession with personal data collection differ from stalking?

Individual stalkers have their reasoning for doing what they do, that makes sense to them, just as gleaning student data without parental consent  that makes sense in Utah’s education leaders’ own heads, too.

I can think of only one answer to the question of how these differ:  an individual stalker tends to stalk just one person at a time and rarely “inspires” millions to help stalk.

So what do we do? Let’s look at our options. We can:

1. Dismiss facts and call student stalking by government a silly conspiracy theory –even though there’s nothing secret about it– as many do.

or–

2. Wake up, stand up and tell our state leaders that we and our children have had enough.

J.R. Wilson: Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy

Our Governor’s To-Do list:

1. Read the Constitution closely and think about what freedom looks like, in comparison to what Utah leaders promote;

2. Shut down Utah’s SLDS, P-20, and Prosperity 2020 systems;

3. Fire John Brandt, Judy Park, the Utah Data Alliance staff, and everyone who works as if “1984″ was an instruction manual for school improvement;

4. Stop accepting money and directives from the Dept. of Ed.;

5. Cancel membership with the National Governors’ Association;

6.  Get rid of the trojan horse of Common Core which serves the tracking goals of the federal and corporate elite;

7. Insist that only parents of school-aged children, people who honor freedom, not socialism –and know the difference– serve on any school board;

8.  End cradle to grave tracking in the state.

Secretary Arne Duncan: Reading, Writing and Redefining Terms   6 comments

Words are powerful.

Redefining words is risky business because the redefining can change everything.

One who knows this truth is our nation’s Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. He has a history of going out of his way to alter the definitions of words.  He did get the Department of Education sued  for doing this, but did anyone notice?

Okay. Let’s start paying attention.

Our U.S. Secretary of Education has officially redefined :

1) COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS.   Did you know that “college and career readiness” can now officially mean only one thing in American schools?  It only means having the same standards as other states.   Odd!   Check it out for yourself.

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.

But that’s not all.

When Sec. Duncan’s not redefining words to loosen parental consent law over student privacy, or siphoning off states’ sovereignty over their own testing systems, he’s giving speeches.

Whenever he’s not talking about social justice, he’s talking about international education.  Whenever he’s not talking about international education he’s talking about social justice.

Arne Duncan clearly wants schools to teach global  social justice.  But what does Sec. Duncan mean when he says  “global citizen” and  “social justice”?

“Global Citizen”

In his speech at International Education Week, Duncan praised globalist Sir Michael Barber, and glowingly used the terms: “global citizen,” being “internationally engaged” and “globally competent,” and playing on the “world stage”.  He never once said “United States citizen.”  –Why the omission?  And what is the cost of this omission to students who will grow up without learning to prize Americanism?

“Social Justice”

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.” 

To the average American, “global citizenry” and “social justice” might sound like positive things.  But look them up.  “Global citizenship” ultimately submits American citizenship and sovereignty to a global collective.

And 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.

George Washington explained:  “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a  dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Teachers for social justice are to be  “change agents” to engrain principles of “social justice” to their young captive audiences.  Such children are taught that “justice” means government can and should “redistribute the wealth.”  –But how do you re-something if you haven’t done it in the first place; government bureaucrats didn’t give us land or money, so they can’t re-give it; they can only take it.  They can only negate individual financial status by assigning one person’s money or assets to another, by force.

Yes, by force.

So, how well are teachers and school districts following the advice of the Secretary of Education and “teaching for social justice“?

Teacher’s colleges are pushing it.  Parents –at least in some places– are fighting it.  Even our local school district  has a vision statement that says: “We believe in enculturating the young in a social and political democracy.”

At  http://www.radicalmath.org/ for example, you’ll find hundreds of lesson plans for teachers to teach “social justice” (which is redistribution of property and money) to math students.

There are endless books and lesson plan websites prodding teachers to use social justice in their lesson planning.

      

An unfortunate fact is that most teachers simply don’t know that social justice is not a neutral term; at least, it is not neutral in the way that Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, and other renowned promoters of the phrase, use it.

One of the leaders in “Teaching Social Justice,”  William “Bill” Ayers, a former domestic terrorist, explained (see video below) at a New York University “Change the Stakes” meeting that the Left should use schools to promote a left wing agenda. He said, “If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to– the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon,” but added, “We have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom…”

Such shamelessly biased promotion of left-wing idealogy is, sadly, what most “social justice” books and lesson plans teach.

Parents, read your children’s textbooks.  Tell your school that you want to start a parents’ review committee to study school texts before they are adopted.  If we sit idly by, the “teachers for social justice” who wish to indoctrinate our children into an overtly socialist/communist idealogy will absolutely get their way.

 

Department of Education Stealth in Data (Surveillance) Setup   50 comments

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.

So If You Live in Texas   1 comment

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.

TASA–The Culprit

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

http://scienceprojectideasforkids.com

- – - – - – - – - – - – -

Thank you to Janice VanCleave for sharing this work and for promoting educational freedom and quality of education.

Documentary Movie on Anti-American Education   6 comments

I just finished watching a documentary called “Agenda: Grinding America Down,” which you can access here: https://vimeo.com/52009124

I learned a lot.

At 52 minutes, it discusses why the hard left has tried so hard to take over education, turning children into willing tools and dependents upon the socialist state rather than individuals with self-reliance, intellect and moral character. The left pushes “social justice” in schools (meaning, we must steal from the rich, to redistribute to the poor) and teaches “relative truth” rather than truth. At 58:15 the film discusses the education unions and cites the National Education Association platform as being openly anti-parent. At 1:00 it discusses an NEA resolution to take children from parents as close to birth as possible. It discusses the new “pledge to the world” that is replacing the “pledge to the US flag” that is being chanted in an increasing number of schools.

Without using schools as a vehicle of socialist propaganda, these socialist/communist revolutionaries would never have been able to change the thinking of the majority of Americans from traditional, Constitutional Americanism to socialism (which they have successfully done, as evidenced by the latest Obama election.)

    If there is any doubt where Arne Duncan, Sec. of the Dept. of Education, is pushing our American education system (using Common Core as a vehicle) please compare his speeches– here–

http://find.ed.gov/search?client=default_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=default_frontend&q=arne+duncan+speech&sa.x=0&sa.y=0

–to the constitution of Communist Party USA.

Here’s the link: http://www.cpusa.org/cpusa-constitution/

Unbelievable, yes.

Yet there it is, in writing.

Read the Full Text of Agenda 21 (Educational Systems to be Supplanted by Environmental Agenda)   21 comments

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.

Two examples:

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”

Link here:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/green-propaganda-does-not-belong-in-schools-yukon-college-professor-explains/

What Does Teacher Improvement Really Mean?   Leave a comment

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.

The Battle Over the American Classroom   2 comments

There is a battle going on for control of American classrooms.

It’s a battle about which many students, teachers and State School Board Members are still blissfully unaware.

It’s a battle between the rights of each individual and each locality, versus the collective, as defined by the United Nations and, now, even by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

It’s a battle for what gets planted in the mind of the child.

It’s a battle for constitutional, local control (of students’ standards, tests, and curriculum) versus worldwide control (with education to be determined by federal and global cooperatives without any significant local representation.)

It’s also a battle between teaching the traditional academics: reading, writing, math, science and history, versus teaching the United Nations’ Agenda 21, which envisions a new “education” –that many are calling indoctrination.

The new “education” marginalizes academics.

It calls itself “World Class Education” but it is only a communistic sameness of learning across all countries.  It prioritizes “sustainable development,” “Social Justice” (redistribution of global wealth), the “collective good,” “going green” and “global citizenship” far above teaching academics.

And it presents “climate change” as if it were a real and settled science.

     The Department of Education, sadly, has betrayed us, lining up with the United Nations in this battle.  Link: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

Today,  the battle for the rights over a child’s life and learning has hit the news in a new form, under the title of  a United Nations treaty for the Disabled.   But it’s the same fight.  It’s a fight for our children.  http://news.yahoo.com/republicans-oppose-vote-un-disability-treaty-223300511.html

In the U.N. Disability treaty, the word “disability” is fuzzily defined.  Not really defined.  It uses an “evolving” definition.  Slippery!  Does “disabled’ mean a child with a mental handicap, including dyslexia or another common academic struggle?  Does it mean someone with a missing finger? A missing leg? A missing tooth?  And why should the government be the one to determine what is in such a child’s best interests, over the parents’ feelings?  This is a slippery slope of giving another sacred, hard-won American freedom, of parental rights over the child, utterly away.

This United Nations treaty poses as a helpful move, to ensure rights for the disabled, but what it really does is make the government, and not the parents, decision makers about what is in the best interest of a child, including whether home schooling is legal.

That provision, in the words of Rick Santorum, is “a direct assault on us and our family.”

Some also say that the treaty calls for people with disabilities to have “access to the same sexual and reproductive health programs as others” which means it might be linked to abortion.

So often, what starts off as an apparently  kindly socialistic “access to” a thing, soon becomes compulsory.

Former Utah Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks ruled that:

“Family autonomy helps to assure the diversity characteristic of a free society.  There is no surer way to preserve pluralism than to allow parents maximum latitude in rearing their own children.  Much of the rich variety in American culture has been transmitted from generation to generation by determined parents who were acting against the best interest of their children, as defined by official dogma.  Conversely, there is no surer way to threaten pluralism than to terminate the rights of parents who contradict officially approved values imposed by reformers empowered to determine what is in the ‘best interest’ of someone else’s child.”

—Dallin Oaks’ point is so vital.  Parents’ idea of what is in the best interest of their children does NOT necessarily match the “official dogma” of governments. 

No education reformers –U.S. Dept. of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, President Obama, Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber, Bill Ayers, UNESCO– have the right to determine what is in the best interest of someone else’s child.  Period.

Arne Duncan’s 2010 speech exposes the U.S. Dept. of Education’s stance: that education should be the same everywhere, globally, and that competition and innovation is of the past.  Listen to this communist speak.  He is our U.S. Secretary of Education.  He is in charge of American K-12 children.  He even quotes Sir Michael Barber as if that’s a good thing.

“It is an absolute honor to address UNESCO. During the last 65 years, UNESCO has done so much to advance the cause of education and gender equity…   The promise of universal education was then a lonely beacon—a light to guide the way to peace and the rebuilding of nations across the globe. Today, the world… faces a crisis of a different sort, the global economic crisis. And education is still the beacon lighting the path forward—perhaps more so today than ever before.

Education is still the key to eliminating gender inequities, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet… education is the new currency…

… the Obama administration has an ambitious and unified theory of action that propels our agenda. The challenge of transforming education in America cannot be met by quick-fix solutions or isolated reforms. It can only be accomplished with a clear, coherent, and coordinated vision of reform.

Second, while America must improve its stagnant educational and economic performance, President Obama and I reject the protectionist Cold War-era assumption that improving economic competitiveness is somehow a zero-sum game, with one nation’s gain being another country’s loss.

I want to make the case to you today that enhancing educational attainment and economic viability, both at home and abroad, is really more of a win-win game; it is an opportunity to grow the economic pie, instead of carve it up.

As President Obama said in his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last year, “Any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

There is so much that the United States has to learn from nations with high-performing education systems… I am convinced that the U.S. education system now has an unprecedented opportunity to get dramatically better. Nothing—nothing—is more important in the long-run to American prosperity than boosting the skills and attainment of the nation’s students… Closing the achievement gap and closing the opportunity gap is the civil rights issue of our generation. One quarter of U.S. high school students drop out or fail to graduate on time. Almost one million students leave our schools for the streets each year. That is economically unsustainable and morally unacceptable.

One of the more unusual and sobering press conferences I participated in last year was the release of a report by a group of top retired generals and admirals. Here was the stunning conclusion of their report: 75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school…   education is taking on more and more importance around the globe. In the last decade, international competition in higher education and the job market has grown dramatically…

Yet there is also a paradox at the heart of America’s efforts to bolster international competitiveness.

To succeed in the global economy, the United States, just like other nations, will have to become both more economically competitive and more collaborative.

In the information age, more international competition has spawned more international collaboration. Today, education is a global public good unconstrained by national boundaries.

… economic interdependence brings new global challenges and educational demands…. America alone cannot combat terrorism or curb climate change. To succeed, we must collaborate with other countries.

These new partnerships must also inspire students to take a bigger and deeper view of their civic obligations—not only to their countries of origin but to the betterment of the global community. A just and socially responsible society must also be anchored in civic engagement for the public good.

…Yet even as the United States works to strengthen its educational system, it is important to remember that advancing educational attainment and achievement everywhere brings benefits not just to the U.S. but around the globe. In the knowledge economy, education is the new game-changer driving economic growth.

Education, as Nelson Mandela says, “is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

From Indonesia to Pakistan to Kenya, education has immeasurable power to promote growth and stability. It is absolutely imperative that the United States seize the opportunity to help Haiti build a stronger school system from the ruins of its old, broken one—just as America coalesced to build a fast-improving, vibrant school system in New Orleans after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

…Educating girls and integrating them into the labor force is especially critical to breaking the cycle of poverty. It is hard to imagine a better world without a global commitment to providing better education for women and youth—including the 72 million children who do not attend primary school today.

And don’t forget that a better-educated world would be a safer world, too… My department has been pleased to partner with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help ensure that our best domestic practices are shared world-wide.

The United States provides over a billion dollars annually to partner countries working on educational reform.

Our goal for the coming year will be to work closely with global partners, including UNESCO, to promote qualitative improvements and system-strengthening…

Ultimately, education is the great equalizer. It is the one force that can consistently overcome differences in background, culture, and privilege…

Now, it is true that not all will share equally in the benefits of the knowledge economy. College-educated workers will benefit the most. That makes President Obama’s 2020 goal, the goal of once again having the highest proportion of college graduates, all the more central to building U.S. competitiveness.

… President Obama, a progressive president… wants to improve teacher evaluation…The President and I both recognize that improving educational outcomes for students is hard work with no easy answers. And transformational reform especially takes time in the United States…

The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal that, by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That goal can only be achieved by creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum that starts with early childhood learning and extends all the way to college and careers.

In the U.S., early learning has come into its own. It is now recognized as the first and most critical stage in human development. We have a special opportunity today to build a bigger and better coordinated system of early care and education that prepares children for success in school and life—in place of a system with uneven quality and access.

…Tragically, low-income and minority students do not have equitable access to effective teachers in the United States. Too often, the children who need the most help get the least. Too often, we perpetuate poverty and social failure—and that has got to stop.

…The United States cannot substantially boost graduation rates and promise a world-class education to every child without ending the cycle of failure in the lowest-performing five percent of our schools. Year after year, and in some cases for decades, these schools cheated children out of the opportunity for an excellent education. As adults, as educators, as leaders, America passively observed this educational failure with a complacency that is deeply disturbing.

Fewer than 2,000 high schools in the United States—a manageable number—produce half of all its dropouts. These “dropout factories” produce almost 75 percent—three-fourths—of our dropouts from the minority community, our African-American and Latino boys and girls.

…Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy.

Before the 1960s, almost all policymaking and education funding was a state and local responsibility. In the mid-1960s, the federal role expanded to include enforcing civil rights laws to ensure that poor, minority, and disabled students, as well as English language learners, had access to a high-quality education.

As the federal role in education grew, so did the bureaucracy. All too often, the U.S. Department of Education operated more like a compliance machine, instead of an engine of innovation. The department typically focused on ensuring that formula funds reached their intended recipients in the proper fashion. It focused on inputs—not educational outcomes or equity.

The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more to support reform and innovation in states, districts, and local communities. While the vast majority of department funding is still formula funding, the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund, which we call i3.

I’ve said that America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform. And this is very much a revolution driven by leaders in statehouses, state school superintendents, local lawmakers, district leaders, union heads, school boards, parents, principals, and teachers.

To cite just one example, the department’s Race to the Top Program challenged states to craft concrete, comprehensive plans for reforming their education systems. The response was nothing less than extraordinary. Forty-six states submitted applications—and the competition drove a national conversation about education reform. Thirty-two states changed specific laws that posed barriers to innovation. And even states that did not win awards now have a state roadmap for reform hammered out. [UTAH]

The i3 program also had a phenomenal response. The $650 million i3 fund offered support to school districts, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education to scale-up promising practices.

…I said earlier that the United States now has a unique opportunity to transform our education system in ways that will resonate for decades to come. Last year and this year, the federal government provided unprecedented funds to support education and 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 [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… standards… That is an absolute game-changer …

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. In September, I announced the results of the department’s $350 million Race to the Top assessment completion to design this next generation of assessments.

Two state consortiums, which together cover 44 states and the District of Columbia, won awards. These new assessments will have much in common with the first-rate assessments now used in many high-performing countries outside the U.S. When these new assessments are in use in the 2014-15 school year, millions of U.S. schoolchildren, parents, and teachers will know, for the first time, if students truly are on-track for colleges and careers.

For the first time, many teachers will have the assessments they have longed for…

    Sir Michael Barber’s book, Instruction to Deliver, reminds us that the unglamorous work of reform matters enormously…

…we are committed to establishing a different relationship with the 50 states—one more focused on providing tailored support to improve student outcomes.

… America has a great deal to learn from the educational practices of other countries…

…I welcome this international dialogue, which is only beginning. In December, in Washington, I will join the OECD Secretary General for the global announcement of the 2009 PISA results. In March, we will be sponsoring an International Summit on the Teaching Profession

Thinking of the future as a contest among nations vying for larger pieces of a finite economic pie is a recipe for protectionism and global strife. Expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all…”   – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, 2010 speech

Full text:

http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/vision-education-reform-united-states-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-united-nations-ed

How Fast Are We Losing Educational Liberty?   5 comments

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 & SIG results in: Billions Wasted By Dept. of Ed   Leave a comment

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):

http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/2012/the-disappointing-but-completely-predictable-results-from-SIG.html

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. “

http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/2012/the-disappointing-but-completely-predictable-results-from-SIG.html

Videos in Five-Part Series Explain Common Core   Leave a comment

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.

Mark Davis or Wilma Cowley? Shad Sorenson or Jen Kelson? Wasatch School Board   Leave a comment

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

vs.

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

http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/news/2012/07/18/fact-checking-usoe-claims-on-common-core/

Pioneer Institute’s several:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

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.

It matters.

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 Obama’s pushing and paying for Master Teacher Corps   3 comments

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 plancurrently 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

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/07/19/obama-proposes-federal-paychecks-for-local-teachers/

Repealing Common Core: Fantasy or American Imperative?   2 comments

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.

How?

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.

Obama’s Career Tracking and Education Reforms: So Much More Than Common Core   3 comments

  The more you study the plans and plots of Obama and of his Federal Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, the more you see the crushing trend.  They crush any individuality and local independence or control over education paths or career paths.  And the Constitution be damned.

Individuals’ desires or states’ desires are not to be taken into account.  The word “accountability” is used as a weapon of coercion.  And the desires of the Collective Government are assumed to best determine what a student studies and what he/she becomes.  “What benefits society?” they ask; they do not ask what benefits the child, or what do the parents want for the child?

The crushing and stifling effect comes from so much more than the Common Core Standards –or even than the Common national testing.  The federal government wants to determine how children will be placed into an almost unalterable path that determines that student’s future based on imposed plans squeezed out of standardized tests early on in life.  They call it Prosperity 2020 in Utah.  They call it Obama’s 2020 Educational Initiative in D.C. They call it Education For All, a part of Agenda 21, at the United Nations.  They all use nice-sounding words but they all slice away at local and individual rights and freedoms over what is to be learned and what is to be eliminated from the learning.

For example, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan makes references to “personalized learning” which sound good.  But what is it, really?  The removal of a student’s choices.  The personalization by the government of that individual’s life path.  It starts with “differentiated diplomas” which call students, to use politically insensitive words, “dumb” “mediocre” and “smart.”  These “differentiated diplomas” will prepare students for differentiated careers– all determined by standardized, high stakes tests and by people who are NOT the student himself/herself.  Nor the parents.  (All “for the good of the collective”.)  I’m not buying it.  Are you?

Career Academies and  “College and Career Readiness*” are the new buzzwords.   The concepts sound good on the surface– to help students get diagnosed with skills and trained for specific career skills as early as possible, to make a direct leap into a career.

But think: what if the student later hates that career and has traded his/her well-rounded, meaningful, whole education for a narrow skill set?  Then where is he/she going to be? Trained to be a plumber, but with desires to be a nurse?  Trained to be a rocket scientist, but with desires to cook?  Trained to pick up trash, but with desires to practice law?  It’s not good.

The educational trend seems to benefit “society” far more than it benefits the individual.  But that’s what socialists are all about.  Communists, too.  The individual never matters; his or her desires are not significant to The Collective.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explains it this way:

” My goal today is to share an outline of our plan to transform career and technical education, or CTE.  Then, with that as context, I’ll discuss our plans to implement the President’s proposed $1 billion investment in career academies…

…First, a career academy is a secondary school program that is organized as a small learning community or a school within a school to provide a supportive, personalized learning environment.

Second, the academy begins by the 9th grade. 

Third, the academy would need to provide a combined academic and technical curriculum that includes CTE courses for which students may receive academic credit. The academy’s curriculum would be organized around a career theme—like the themes identified by NAF: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Health Sciences, or Engineering—and aligned with the State’s college-and career-ready standards*.

Fourth, a career academy provides work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers. 

And, fifth and finally, the academy’s program articulates and reflects the entrance requirements of postsecondary education programs—to ensure that students graduate from high school ready to pursue a degree or credential. 

Now, I’m very interested to hear what you think about our career academies plan, the proposed academy definition, and the CTE Blueprint.”  Full speech here:  http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/remarks-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-national-academy-foundation-next-conference

* By the way, Duncan’s allusion to “the State’s college-and-career-ready standards” does not mean what you think it means. It’s just common core.  “College and Career Readiness” is like a code term.

NO INDIVIDUAL STATE WHO IS UNDER THE COMMON CORE YOKE CAN MAKE CHANGES NOR DEFINE COLLEGE AND CAREER READY DIFFERENTLY FROM ANY OTHER STATE.

So, according to Duncan/Obama, being ready for college and career doesn’t mean being ready for college and career.  Too forthright.

The term means being yoked to a substandard set of educational standards that are the same, same, same and that are non-negotiable and that are NGA/CCSSO copyrighted, with a 15% federally mandated cap on top of that copyright.  (See the definition on the Ed.gov site here: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions)

Education isn’t Neutral   Leave a comment

What does Obama really mean when he says that he created education reforms in 46 states during his presidency?

Words need context.

The word “education” and the concept of “education reform” as Obama and others use the terms, rest on our false assumption that reforms are positive in all contexts.

Many education reforms are being done under the public radar, without public knowledge, without any vote or citizen agreement, and they actually negatively affect student/citizen privacy –as well as harming certain academic –and also non-academic– outcomes.

We misplace our trust when we buy the idea that “education reforms” never make things worse, or never indoctrinate, or never promote dumbing-down, or  never push unconstitutional or ungodly agendas, or that educational systems are never used to promote nice-sounding surface ideas that ultimately prove harmful.  This misplaced trust will hurt us.  Why don’t more people study and pay attention to what the government is doing to our educational freedoms and educational standards?!

Violations of good education are happening behind the unassailed assumption that “education” always means “good for children”.  But it doesn’t.  We have to study what the people behind the reforms stand for, to see where their trajectories are taking our children and ultimately, this nation. (Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Bill Ayers, Linda Darling-Hammond, Sir Michael Barber, Bill Gates, Joanne Weiss, Michelle Rhee…. the cast of characters is long, colorful and frightening.)

Obama and his cast of educational characters speak about pouring more money into “education” as if that is always beneficial.  Well, that all depends on what they’re buying.  (With our tax dollars and without our consent and without constitutional authority.)

Many assume he’s just talking about buying pencils, salaries and books.  But new reforms do include indoctrination, corporate enrichment and yes, even dumbing down in some cases.

The recent Common Core reforms include DELETING most classic literature at the high school level, DELETING cursive for all ages, DUMBING Algebra I to 9th grade rather than introducing it to 8th graders, ending FERPA’s previously protective parental consent requirements before agencies and business people can access private student data; pushing the assumption that the United Nations are a positive force on earth; pushing the “green” extremist political agenda, and pushing most anything Bill Gates/Microsoft touches.  To name a few.  The data surveillance bothers me the most.  Even though I am a lifelong English teacher and hate the fact that they’re slashing the literature increasingly, as the children work toward graduation.  The closer to graduation they get, the less literature they will be allowed to read and write.  It’s got to be info-texts, they say.

There are some ideas that some parents and teachers might like, and some we definitely don’t, but the fact remains that we never get a chance to weigh in on them via a vote.  That’s what nationalized education means: the elite at the top determine what is good and true for all.  Oh, for the days of local control over education to be back in my state again!

Wearing the shield of “education reform,” guess what the education reformists on the left have wielded?

- a war on student data privacy

- a war on classic literature

- a war on traditional, time-tested math

-a national set of educational standards that is without an amendment process, so nobody can change anything.

-a national set of standards that are under copyright by an unelected group called CCSSO/NGA

-a national set of standards that the Dept. of Education has put a cap on; you can’t teach more than 15% above the Common Core

-a war against transparency;

Parents and teachers are in the dark; very few people know what all the consequences of adopting Common Core really are. And it’s deliberate.  The Common Core is supposed to be “state-led” (because it’s illegal and unconstitutional for the executive branch to supervise or direct curriculum).  So they are trying to make it appear to be so.  They even invite people to help “write” the standards, even though the public license on Common Core says that CCSSO/NGA are the “sole developers” and “no claims to the contrary shall be made.”  The half-truths are empowering the radical transformation and, ultimately, indoctrination of our kids to be government-centric collectivists stripped of the ability to self-determine, or to soar.

May I share the words of a great American?  Ezra Taft Benson (who served as the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower in the 1950′s-1960′s and later as a Latter-day Saint prophet) said:

“As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members… if [parents] have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others. Today there are much worse things that can happen to a child than not getting a full college education. In fact, some of the worst things have happened to our children while attending colleges led by administrators who wink at subversion and amorality.”   - In Conference Report, Ezra Taft Benson, 1970

President Benson also warned that communism was and is still a great, satanical threat.

How could communism ever become a real threat unless somehow people were taught to like its principles?  How could it ever take root in freedom-loving America unless it were widely promoted as something good, diseminated via an information dissemination system (like government schools?)

One-size-fits-all is the name of the common core/socialist game.  Individuality is marginalized or deleted; all is collective that is considered good.  It’s the redistribution of educational funding and educational sovereignty. Common Core is a huge step toward socialism in America today, accepted because it’s sugar coated with pretty words: “education reform,” “rigorous standards” and “common core.”

I noticed that a political flier for a local Utah representative came in the mailbox yesterday.  It touted as one of the candidate’s bragging points the fact that this candidate/incumbent had “protected public education from extremists.”  I think he was referring to me, and the whole anti-Common Core crowd, thousands of us that will soon be millions, I venture to guess, as the truth trickles out almost completely unaided by mainstream media.

But my point is this: the candidate did not protect the public as he claimed to have done.  He didn’t protect public education from extremists – Arne Duncan, Bill Ayers, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Linda Darling-Hammond, Sir Michael Barber, and the rest got their wicked way.  This local candidate did not understand who the enemy of quality education and educational sovereignty is.  He thought the extremists were those who want us to sticking close to the spirit of freedom and individuality as supported in the U.S. Constitution.  This is why I could not vote for him.  I did a write-in vote.  But he’ll win anyway, because most people do not have time to really care.  And the Common Core’s moment of impact hasn’t happened for them yet.

What is SLDS and Why Should I Care?   1 comment

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:

en Español

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $250 million

Grantees: States

Type of Grant: Competitive

Purpose:

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.

Program Requirements:

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:

  1. An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);
  2. The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;
  3. Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;
  4. Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
  5. Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;
  6. Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;
  7. A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;
  8. Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;
  9. Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;
  10. Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;
  11. A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and
  12. 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.

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