Renee Braddy is a former teacher and concerned parent who gave permission to publish her this letter to her local school board that asks them to exert due diligence in studying all the implications of Common Core and its tests.
Dear Alpine School District Board Members,
I want to thank you for being willing to listen to the public last night and I appreciate the board even being willing to offer a few answers and some clarifications. I realize that many of you were in a very tough spot and that it isn’t easy to be involved and put yourself out there for possible public ridicule. I appreciate your service and the time you devote.
Like I stated when I spoke last night, I honestly believe that the Alpine School Board consists of leaders who have the ability and wherewithal to push back against the federal government and state’s top-down control over education. I think this will give other districts and states the courage to follow, if you are willing to ask the hard questions and encourage the discussion to happen. The federal top-down control over education isn’t a new thing that is happening with just this administration, this has been happening for decades in America. Honestly, I don’t really care who started it, I just want to know who is willing to be a part of stopping it.
I feel that as Americans we not only have a right to be involved in govt., we have a responsibility. We must protect the blessing of freedom that this nation was founded upon. When we see things happening in government that are not in-step with what we believe is best for ourselves, our families, and our communities, then I believe the public has the responsibility to hold their feet to the fire so they can be accountable. This should be happening at a federal, state, and local level.
It is no small task for people to attend a board meeting, especially with small children and the many obligations that are demanding of our time. I was actually very surprised by the large crowd in attendance last night. I know that they represent a very small percentage of the many, many people who are concerned about the nationalization of education that is happening through the Common Core Agenda. This is education without representation. It has been my experience as I have spoken to people that a very large majority of the people in this valley still don’t have a clue about what is happening in education, nor have they ever even heard the words “Common Core”. Silence is NOT acceptance, it is most likely ignorance.
As elected officials who have the responsibility to represent the concerns of your constituents, I hope you are willing to do your homework and ask the hard questions of the state school board and governor. Study the NCLB Flexibility Waiver and the RTTT application. This is what has helped me realize that the standards are a very tiny piece in a HUGE educational reform agenda. Our president and his administration have been very vocal about wanting a “cradle to career education” reform agenda. I am well aware that UT did not win any money from their RTTT application and we are not bound to any of those obligations that we committed to, but ironically enough, we are still implementing them. Therefore, it is still worth your time to study what UT was willing to do in order to get their share of the ARRA $.
This is serious and I believe that we are writing American History. We need to be very vigilant and realize that this isn’t just the next trend in education that will pass. Nationalizing education creates a centralization of power. This will lessen, if not completely remove teacher and parental input. This is in direct violation with our US Constitution as well as our Utah Constitution.
When we stray from the principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which were intended to limit the power of government and promote independence and liberty, then we are disregarding the very document that defines us as being an Americans and this will result in our nation ceasing to be America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. This whole agenda consisting of: national standards, national tests, data collection, teacher accountability systems, and the turn-around schools model should be rejected by those who value LOCAL CONTROL and PARENTAL INPUT. We do NOT need or want a top-down approach to education where we have to get “approval” from the federal government or any other unelected bureaucrats.
It is concerning to me that we have not already rejected being a part of national experiment at an unknown cost financially and a high cost to freedom. From a teacher’s perspective, I believe that the truth is that we have no idea what curriculum our children will be taught under Common Core because the tests haven’t even been released. Tests dictate curriculum. As Jesse James from the USOE said at the Alpine AIR meeting, “it’s a sad fact, but they do”.
This is the reason why many, many people rallied at the capitol years ago when there was bill that would push for home schoolers to take state-mandated tests. Whoever writes the test will essentially dictate what is going to be taught, especially when teachers merit pay and/or jobs are being based upon student performance on these tests. We have three federal laws prohibiting a national curriculum in the US and yet this is exactly what is happening through the creation of national standards and federally funded national tests with publishers criteria and curriculum models. It is no wonder that the key players including the CCSSO didn’t want to go through the US Congress, they knew they would reject it, the same way they rejected national history standards in 1995.
I could go on and on, but I am requesting that you to please do your due diligence. I would like to know each board members position and thoughts on where you stand currently on this whole educational reform package including the CC standards?
Also, we will be presenting on Thursday evening in Saratoga Springs from 7-9 pm in the clubhouse at Talon’s Cove Golf Course: 2220 South Talons Cove. We would love to have you and anyone else that may interested attend, if possible. Also, if there is someone who would like to speak for Common Core, please let me know and we will add you to the program.
USA Today has published an op-ed by Emmett McGroarty. The author quotes Alisa Ellis of Utah and Anne Gassel of Missouri, parents who typify the Mama and Papa bears in opposing Common Core.
From Alisa Ellis: “Administrators want parents like me to step back and be quiet, but we will not. These are my children, and my voice will be heard.”
From Anne Gassel: “Parents and their legislators were cut out of the loop. Even now we can’t get straight answers.”
McGroarty also writes that “Although Common Core is regularly described as “state-led,” its authors are private entities, which are not subject to sunshine laws, open meetings or other marks of a state-led effort.”
The author also points out that the federal government gave states the incentive to adopt the Common Core and to use aligned, federally funded standardized tests which, “with teacher evaluations geared to them, will act as an enforcement mechanism.”
McGroarty points out that Bill Gates has told the National Conference of State Legislatures that this is more than minimal standards: “When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well — and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching.”
Lastly, McGroarty points out that while Common Core developers claim the standards are “research and evidence based,” “rigorous” and “internationally bench-marked,” that’s not true:
He quotes Professor Sandra Stotsky, a member of the official Common Core validation committee, who wrote that the English standards of Common Core actually “weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” He also quotes Stanford professor James Milgram who concluded that the math standards “are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades eight to 12,” and who also wrote that Common Core math doesn’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry or second-year algebra course.
Thank you, Emmett McGroarty, for pointing out the awful, hidden truth about Common Core, and for supporting parents in our quest to reclaim authority over what our own children will learn in our local schools.
In today’s Deseret News opinion piece, Matt Sanders makes the observation that similar, disturbing trends make the National Security Administration’s actions and the Department of Education’s actions snooping mirror images of each other. These trends are First Amendment violations, government overreach, and cradle to grave data tracking. The article also makes the point that on the local level, the Utah State Office of Education has provided no legal or operational assurances of student data privacy, although the USOE is quick to offer verbal assurances and to “soothe fears of ever more federalism by labeling opponents as detractors and alarmists.”
Sanders also writes:
“…[A]nother problematic revelation has roiled Washington, D.C. This time it goes beyond snooping around journalists looking for a scoop. It involves the National Security Administration collecting phone data on of Verizon customers.
This is a problem. A real problem. The U.S. federal government derives its power through the consent of the governed through a system of duly elected representatives acting as agents for their local populations. Additionally, the Constitution goes to great lengths to curb the tendency of government to overreach its bounds, and therefore set up a system of checks and balances.
… In light of the federal agency’s incursions, parents and lawmakers should likewise revisit the data privacy standards in Common Core testing approach… While Utah State Office of Education (USOE) officials verbally assured community members that they should not be concerned, they’ve provided no such assurance legally or operationally.”
Before I post the highlights from the Tribune article, I have to make a comment.
I read the two USOE-created resolutions* cited below. They are written by people who obviously do not understand the recently altered federal FERPA changes which have severely weakened student privacy and parental consent requirements, among other things. One resolution used the word “erroneous” to describe citizens opposing Common Core’s agenda. This, for some reason, makes me laugh. Why?
Because so much of what the Utah State Office of Education does is utterly erroneous, unreferenced, theory-laden and evidence-lacking; it may be nicely based on slick marketing, financial bribes and the consensus of big-government promoters– Bill Gates, Pearson Company, Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, etc but it is nonetheless false. (“State-led”? “Internationally benchmarked”? Improving Education”? “Respecting student data privacy”? “Retaining local control”? —NOT.)
It is downright ridiculous (although sad) that the State Office of Education calls those citizens who ask questions armed with documents, facts, references and truth, the “vicious attackers” and the “erroneous.”
Let’s call their bluff.
Let’s insist that the Utah State School Board engage in honest, open, referenced debate with those they label “erroneous.”
It’ll never happen. They cannot allow that. They know they have no leg to stand on, or they’d already have provided references and studies showing the Common Core path they chose for Utah was a wise and studied choice. We’ve asked repeatedly for such honest face-to-face discussion. We’ve asked them to send someone to debate Common Core.
They have no one to send; sadly, each USOE official and USSB member can only parrot the claims they’ve had parroted to them about Common Core.
Honest study reveals that local control is gone under Common Core, privacy is gone, parental consent is no longer required to track and study a child, and academic standards are FAR from improved.
I pray that level-headed Utah legislators will study this Common Core agenda thoroughly and will act as wisely as those in Indiana have done with their “time-out” bill that halts implementation of Common Core, pending a proper study and vetting of the expensive, multi-pronged academic experiment that uses and tracks children as if they were government guinea pigs.
And now, the Tribune article:
Utah school board denies guv’s Common Core request
Board rejects request to change paperwork critics see as a commitment to use Common Core academic standards.
By Lisa Schencker
| Highlights of article reposted from the Salt Lake Tribune
First Published 2 hours ago
Hoping to ease some Utahns’ fears about Common Core academic standards, the Governor’s Office asked the state school board to change an application it submitted last year for a waiver to federal No Child Left Behind requirements.The state school board, however, voted against that request Thursday.
Utah education leaders checked the first option, as Utah had joined most other states in adopting the Common Core. Critics have decried that decision, saying it tied Utah to the standards.
Christine Kearl, the governor’s education advisor, told board members Thursday that she believes checking Option B would alleviate those concerns without actually having to drop the standards. She said the Governor’s Office hears daily complaints about the Common Core.
“It’s become very political as I’m sure you’re all aware,” Kearl said. “We’re under attack. We try to get back to people and let them know we support the Common Core and support the decision of the state school board, but this has just become relentless.”
But Assistant Attorney General Kristina Kindl warned board members the change would give the state’s higher education system approval power over K-12 standards.
Some board members also bristled at the idea of changing the application, saying it wouldn’t mean much. Former State Superintendent Larry Shumway had already sent the feds a letter asserting that Utah retains control over its standards.
“It just seems like we are caving to political pressure based on things that are not based in actual fact,” said board member Dave Thomas.
Some also wondered whether switching would allay the concerns of foes, who began arguing that the Core was federally tied before Utah applied for the waiver. State education leaders have long responded that the standards were developed in a states-led initiative and leave curriculum up to teachers and districts
Oak Norton, a Highland parent who helped develop a website for the group Utahns Against Common Core, said he was disappointed by the board’s decision against changing the waiver.
“Then we could have looked at adopting our own standards that were higher than the Common Core,” Norton said.
The board did vote to send a resolution* to the governor, lawmakers and the state’s political parties asking them to work with the state school board to support the Common Core for the good of Utah’s students.
The resolution follows a letter sent by members of Congress, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, last week to Senate budget leaders asking them to eliminate “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”
Utah senator joins others in signing letter opposing the Common Core.
By Lisa Schencker
|Reposted highlights from Salt Lake Tribune article
First Published Apr 29 2013 06:48 pm
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has jumped into the ongoing fray over Common Core State Standards, signing a letter asking Senate budget leaders to “restore state decision-making and accountability.”Lee, along with eight other Republican senators, sent the letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds education on Friday. The letter asks that any future education appropriations bill includes language prohibiting the U.S. Secretary of Education from using the money to implement or require the standards in any way, in hopes of eliminating “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”
“The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children,” the letter says. “Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states , are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education.”
In an interview with the Tribune Tuesday, Lee declined to comment on Utah’s adoption of the standards, saying his concern is with keeping the federal government out of state and local education decisions.
“If they choose to adopt them, I hope they do so because they’re relevant standards and local leaders think they’re good standards not because of any federal mandate,” he said of states’ adoption of the standards. He said, so far, he’s noticed “disturbing trends” in the direction of the federal government becoming overly involved in pushing the standards.
Utah proponents of the standards, however, have long fought against arguments that they were federally developed or imposed. The Utah state school board adopted the standards in 2010 in hopes of better preparing students for college and careers. The standards — developed as part of a states-led initiative — outline the concepts and skills students should learn in each grade, while leaving curriculum decisions up to local teachers and districts.
Critics of the standards point out that the federal government, several years ago, encouraged states to adopt the standards as they applied for federal Race to the Top grant money. They also point to a federal requirement that states adopt college- and career-ready standards in order to receive a waiver to No Child Left Behind .
But Utah did not win that money, and to receive waivers, states could adopt either Common Core standards or different standards of their choosing…
Wondering what you can do? Here are some suggestions that add to what you’ll find in Truth in American Education’saction center tool kit.
1) Check this map of the U.S. to see if legislative educational liberty movements are happening in your state.
2) Check this spreadsheet to see if there are people fighting common core in your state and join them.
3) If nothing is happening at all in your state, do an internet search for Race to the Top application (name your own state) and find the application from Jan. 2010
4) Go to your state school board’s minutes site and find out at which meeting the CCSS were approved (June 2, 2010 the standards were finalized… states such as Illinois approved them 22 days later!)
5) Like “Truth in American Education“ because this is a main hub for national cooperation.
6) Start speaking to friends, teachers and family about common core — many use Facebook FB, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc.
Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“ In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.
Thanks to Alyson Williams for this explanation of how our state board of education abdicated local autonomy.
TO HONOR, UPHOLD AND SUSTAIN THE LAW … even when you think you have a really good reason to do otherwise
by Alyson Williams February 5, 2013
Board members insist that these standards are better… They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.
The Utah Constitution and related statutes establish the Utah State Board of Education and assign them authority to set standards for Utah students. Members of the State Board of Education are appointed or elected from a narrowed field of candidates to represent the citizens of Utah.
In adopting the Common Core State Standards it appears that the Utah State Board of Education abdicated their control over standards to unelected bodies* outside the jurisdiction of the State or Federal government, and usurped the role of parents or citizens to monitor or give feedback to the process.
This is not how standards have been established in our state before.
The authority to do it this way can’t have been implied or hidden in their legal commission, because this is a newly invented process. This is a creative path to national standards through private brokers who are not constrained by federal laws that would prevent the Federal Government from doing the same thing.
Abdicating authority (whether voluntary or motivated by federal or financial considerations) is not an option established under the constitutional commission given to the State Board of Education. Any right not specifically given to the Board by law is a right that is retained by the people.
The people of Utah did not vote directly, or indirectly through the representative voice of the legislature, to transfer the standards-setting authority to another body.
Board members claim to have retained control by representing the citizens of Utah during the standards writing process. Again, this was not their commission. Furthermore, the Board can point to no specific input or influence they had on the final, copyrighted, standards. In light of the fact that 46 other states were also involved, and they had zero input on who was hired to write the standards, any influence real or imagined would have been highly diluted.
There is broad disagreement on the quality of the standards. The term “scientifically-based” seems to have been re-defined to mean the opinions of few “experts” rather than peer-reviewed research. The wording of certain standards doesn’t just specify what the student should know, but how they should be able to demonstrate that knowledge which in some cases requires or favors specific, controversial methods of teaching.
Still, board members insist that these standards are better than Utah’s previous standards. They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.
Even if they were the best standards ever, or if the arguments for homogeny outweighed the real challenges of aligning demographically and financially diverse states, the end does not justify the means.
Despite a well-documented timeline and recorded statements that would suggest a correlation between the adoption of the standards and federal incentives in the form of Race to the Top grant money and a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the Board insists that Common Core does not represent a Federal overreach in violation of the 10th Ammendment and several other federal laws.
Finally, the Common Core State Standards do not represent the competing opinions of a diverse group of education experts. The writers were a group of like-minded education reformers. The writing, evaluation and promotion of the standards was paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. While the State Board of Education can assert that they themselves were not influenced by the special interests of those funding the process, they cannot claim that the standards themselves were not wholly influenced by the education reform ideals of the funders.
It is a violation of trust that our elected officials would be complicit in a re-organization of the standards setting process that favors well-funded outside interests over the voice of the people.
* Unelected bodies include :
–the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
– the National Governors’ Association (NGA)
– the Department of Education (USDE)
–the 2 testing consortia: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and
–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!
Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.
That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?
At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:
Question: “How much will this cost?”
Answer: “These are really good standards.”
Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”
Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”
Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”
Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”
Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’
Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”
It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”
I stopped asking. I started reading.
I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.
I learned a lot.
I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.
I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”
I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.
I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.
I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.
I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.
I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.
I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.
I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.
I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.
I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.
I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?
I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.
I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.
I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.
I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.
Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.
If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?
If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?
What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.
When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!
Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.
As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.
When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.
As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.
When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.
Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.
I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.
If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.
The Utah Legislative Session begins in two weeks. It is short.
Please call legislators, state school board members and Governor Herbert and ask for the following:
• UT LEGISLATORS MUST WRITE FREEING LEGISLATION – Utah should reclaim its educational sovereignty by following the lead of states such as Indiana and South Carolina which are attempting to break free of Common Core by writing legislation that halts it.
• PRIVACY ISSUES – Common Core testing requires that every student be tracked using personally identifiable information that is sent beyond the local school and district to six Utah agencies (Utah Data Alliance) and uses the federally instated “State Longitudinal Database System” (SLDS) which allows interoperability for all states and federal oversight. The Dept. of Education has been sued because it altered Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations without congressional approval to empower common core testing data to be accessed by them and others. These alterations redefine terms such as “authorized representative,” “directory information” and “educational program” to remove the obligation of school systems to keep family information private.
• NO COST ANALYSIS – It is utterly irresponsible to have no cost analyis on Common Core. One of Texas’ and Virginia’s reasons for rejecting it was financial. Texas estimated $560 million just in CC professional development costs. Utah just spent $39 million just on CC test development alone. Corporations such as Pearson, Microsoft, Wireless Generation, and countless others will become wealthy at students’ learning expense and at taxpayer expense as they implement the mandates of common core in textbooks, teacher development courses and technology and sell them to us.
• NO ACADEMIC ANALYSIS – The standards and the preschool- through-workforce system they promote (P-20 system) are not only what amounts to an unfunded mandate; they are academically inferior to what we had before and far inferior to what top states (Massachusetts) had before. The line about “rigor” is a false claim, especially at the high school level. Members of the official CC validation committee Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram refused to sign off that these standards were rigorous or legitimate. We note that CC was written without input from any of the major curriculum research universities and is an unpiloted experiment without any metric to measure intended or unintended consequences. Its harms are less marked for lower grades, yet it slashes classic literature by 70% for high school seniors and dramatically dumbs down high school math.
• ILLEGALITY ISSUES – There is a Constitutional ban on federal direction of instruction which is underscored in the 10th amendment and further clarified in a law called the General Educational Provisions Act. Yet the Dept. of Education has gone around the law and congress to promote the copyrighted CC standards (developed by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and has put a 15% cap on top of it, so that no state may add freely to the supposed “minimum” standards. Additionally, the CC national tests are written specifically to CC standards, to divest the 15% allowance of states’ “wiggle room” of meaning. The Dept. of Education has coerced states into adopting the CC, using the lure of possible grant monies, and this financial incentivization has not put the best academic interests of children first.
Additionally, share a video link:
There are five short videos which explain Common Core very simply and with verifiable references (point out that the State Office of Education does not provide references for claims in any explanation of what Common Core is.)
There are 5 videos and each is short. The American Principles Project created them, with Concerned Women of Georgia.
It’s important for homeschooling families to realize that Common Core is a movement that is transforming education for every one who ever wants to go to a college or university. It’s deleting freedom and innovation for everyone, not just public school attendees.
December 17, 2012
Common Core State Standards Initiative: Too Close to a National Curriculum
William A. Estrada, Esq. Director of Federal Relations
Will Estrada has been leading our efforts to defend homeschooling on Capitol Hill since 2006. As the oldest of eight kids, and a homeschool graduate who married a homeschool graduate, he has a passion for protecting homeschool freedom. Read more >>
In 2010, the National Governors Association published their “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS). These were meant as voluntary math and English guidelines which individual states could adopt.
HSLDA and numerous other organizations grew concerned about this push to standardize what public school students are taught. HSLDA wrote two articles outlining our concerns, one in March of 2010, and one in June of 2010. We explained that states were being enticed by the federal government—through the Race to the Top program—to align their state curriculum with the CCSS, resulting in de facto national standards. We were concerned that this would lead to a national curriculum and national test, and that the pressure would grow for homeschool and private school students to be taught using this national curriculum.
During President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech, the president stated, “We’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards.” How were the states convinced to adopt the CCSS? The simple answer—federal dollars. President Obama added adopting the CCSS as a criterion for states to gain points in the Race to the Top education federal grant program, regardless of whether the state already had comparable or superior educational standards. States with the highest points are more likely to win the competitive Race to the Top federal grants.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS since 2010. Only Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have not.
Are the Common Core State Standards a Good Idea for Public Schools?
Recently, there has been a growing controversy over whether the CCSS are even beneficial. Many states have spent years adopting their own state standards, only to throw them away in favor of the CCSS. Some commentators have said that the CCSS will weaken English learning and reduce analytical thinking. Others point to a weakening of math teaching. Still others point out that the CCSS will cost billions of dollars to implement—which could be deal-breaker for states struggling to implement the standards.
The CCSS by themselves are not necessarily controversial. They’re similar in certain respects to other state curriculum content standards for public schools. However, HSLDA believes that children—whether homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled—do best when parents are fully engaged. And parents are most engaged when they know that they are in charge of their child’s education. Top-down, centralized education policy does not encourage parents to be engaged. The CCSS removes education standards from the purview of state and local control to being controlled by unaccountable education policy experts sitting in a board room far removed from the parents, students, and teachers who are most critical to a child’s educational success.
Will the CCSS Affect Homeschools?
The CCSS specifically do not apply to private or homeschools, unless they receive government dollars (online charter school programs have no such protection). However, HSLDA has serious concerns with the rush to adopt the CCSS. HSLDA has fought national education standards for the past two decades. Why? National standards lead to national curriculum and national tests, and subsequent pressure on homeschool students to be taught from the same curricula.
The College Board—the entity that created the PSAT and SAT—has already indicated that its signature college entrance exam will be aligned with the CCSS. And many homeschoolers worry that colleges and universities may look askance at homeschool graduates who apply for admission if their highschool transcripts are not aligned with the CCSS.
HSLDA believes that a one-size-fits-all approach to education crowds out other educational options, including the freedom of parents to choose homeschools and private schools. A common curriculum and tests based off common standards could be very harmful to homeschoolers if their college of choice refuses to accept a student’s high school transcript if it is not based on the CCSS. Homeschoolers could also have trouble on the SAT if the test is fundamentally altered to reflect only one specific curriculum. And our greatest worry is that if the CCSS is fully adopted by all states, policy makers down the road will attempt to change state legislation to require all students—including homeschool and private school students—to be taught and tested according to the CCSS. Common Core State Standards spreading
The National Governors Association first focused the CCSS on the general subject areas of math and English. However, there is now movement to create CCSS in numerous other subject areas. The National Governors Association is also urging states to align early education programs for young children.
Due to laws prohibiting the creation of national tests, curriculum, and teacher certification, governors and state legislatures are the only policy makers who can actually decide whether or not to adopt the CCSS. While the federal government has encouraged the states to adopt the CCSS through federal incentives, the states are completely free to reject the CCSS.
To find out whether your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards, you can visit this website’s useful map. (Please note that this is the website for the common core state standards initiative.)
Contact your state legislators, including the governor, to discuss this issue with them. Ask them about their position on the issue. Find your governor’s current information here.
If you have a governor’s election coming up in your state, we encourage you to raise this issue with the candidates. Even if a state has already adopted the national education standards, a new governor will be faced with the costs of implementing these new standards and new accountability to the federal government.
Numerous states that have already adopted the CCSS are considering rejecting the CCSS. Now is the time to help raise awareness of this issue and educate yourself about the CCSS.
Because this affects all parents, and will not currently affect homeschool freedom, it is not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler.
My fourth grader saw this poster. He asked me what a carbon footprint was.
I told him that some scientists think carbon hurts our earth, while other scientists say that is not actually true. Some people think that the government wants to tax people so much that they use, as an excuse, the idea of carbon footprints. They will tax people more if they do an activity that increases carbon on earth.
I told him that I have not studied it enough yet to have an opinion of my own. I do not know which scientists are closer to the truth, but because it’s not settled, schools should not be teaching it as if it were a fact.
And people should not be hanging posters like this where children will see and assume one side of the argument is the only true side.
This anecdote is just a forward to the reason I’m writing today. The original reason is this link:
If you click on that top link, you’ll find a powerpoint presentation entitled: “EPA Region 3 Sub-Award Update.”
EPA means Environmental Protection Agency. And Region 3 refers to a region –not a state– that the US Dept. of Education is now recognizing (moving away from the concept of states which can be such a pesky reminder of Constitutional rights). ”Sub-Award update” means that money is being accounted for, having been awarded by the federal government to “region 3″ to alter local education to align with EPA goals –rather than previously held academic priorities for schools, which were previously determined by local entities like school boards and principals.
Yes, it’s creepy. It is propaganda, pure and simple. And the head of all public schools in our country, Arne Duncan, has promised us he’s going to push for more and more of it.
US Sec. of Education Arne Duncan announced, “Education plays a vital role in the sustainability movement… education must be part of the solution… This week’s sustainability summit represents the first time that the Department is… educating the next generation of green citizens and preparing them to contribute to the workforce through green jobs… Educators have a central role in this… teach students about how the climate is changing… explain the science behind climate change and how we can change our daily practices…. prepar[e] students for jobs in the green economy… the Department of Education hasn’t been doing enough in the sustainability movement. Today, I promise you that we will be a committed partner…”
You’re kidding, right, Arne? You are saying that you will use schools to promote green propaganda despite the fact that millions of scientists, teachers, students and parents don’t believe a word of the “global warming” and “climate change” science?
It’s interesting that “Green Schools” are being promoted by the U.S. Department of Education. On the surface, greening schools sounds a little bit boring but not bad. Students learn wonders like “turn off the lights when you leave the room” and “eat healthy food”.
But along with that, they also learn things that are not science, not high-quality, uncontroversial, settled science. Teachers are being told to teach sustainable propaganda and call it science. Controversial points will be taught as if they were absolutes. It goes against the whole spirit of what education is about: students are not told to weigh information, study empirical evidence from many sources, and judge truth from fiction, fact from opinion.
They are just told that the sustainablility movement is true.
Schools will get grants if they push the green curriculum.
If you are new to governmentspeak, you won’t see many red flags. It’s not until you slow down and really think about what they are writing (and not writing) that you begin to see how twisted this Agenda 21 really is.
From Chapter 25: “Ensure access for all youth to all types of education… ensure that education… incorporates the concepts of environmental awareness and sustainable development throughout the curricula…”
Did you catch that? Throughout curricula, that means in every single class– spelling, grammar, science, English, math, history, technology, art, languages, sports, student government, debate, home economics, and the rest– students must be learning environmental awareness and sustainable development? Does that not strike you as dogmatic- almost crazy?
Also from Chapter 25: ” Consider…recommendations of… youth conferences and other forums that offer youth perspectives.”
–On first reading, that sounds fine, right? Listening to young people. What could possibly be wrong with it?
Well, look up “Delphi Technique” when you have some time on your hands.
There are sustainability youth “conferences” happening right now that are clearly little more than the globalists’ politically motivated indoctrination camps.
After youth spend time ”dialoging” about environmental issues –where the dialogue is being controlled by Agenda 21 activist facilitators– those facilitators will take the youth recommendations back to headquarters. Nice. Here’a a link to such a youth conference. All 14-year-olds and up are cordially invited to be totally immersed in the green, anti-sovereignty, anti-constitution, pro-collectivism, pro-communist, environmental agenda:
It should not be creeping into our schools. But it is.
Teachers are being taught to teach sustainable development across the curricula.
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.”
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”
If the U.N. convention won’t affect U.S. laws, how can it change other nations?
by Senator Lee
December 6. 2012 – Supporters of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are attempting to have it both ways. They dismiss as a myth any concerns about protecting sovereignty or parental rights because the treaty lacks a formal enforcement mechanism. They suggest that Congress can simply ignore any United Nations demand that isn’t in our national interest.
Yet they simultaneously argue that U.S. ratification is necessary in order to force other countries to institute reforms. This inconsistent logic begs the question: If the treaty cannot be used to force changes in American law, how can it then be used to change the laws of other countries?
Ironically, no one highlighted this inconsistency more eloquently during Tuesday’s floor debate than one of the treaty’s most ardent supporters, Sen. John Kerry: “When have words or suggestions that have no power, that cannot be implemented, that have no access to the courts, that have no effect on the law of the United States, and cannot change the law of the United States, when has that ever threatened anybody in our country?”
Or any other country, for that matter.
Supporters argue the treaty gives us a seat at the international table. But America already sits at the head of that table. Our laws are the gold standard for protecting the rights of disabled persons. Nothing about Tuesday’s vote changes that. We continue to be influential throughout the world in promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act as the model for other countries. Ratifying the treaty would not strengthen our hand, nor would it provide further rights or benefits for Americans at home.
At best, the treaty is ineffective. At worst, it could have grave consequences for U.S. domestic law. By their very nature, treaties diminish our sovereign authority to govern ourselves. Parties to this particular convention must answer to an unaccountable U.N. committee and are subject to its directions. If you believe Sen. Kerry, then the U.S. has nothing to worry about, but also no reason to support the treaty. If he is wrong, we have many reasons to oppose it.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It is good to hear from you.
As you may know, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the CRPD in 2006 and President Obama transmitted it to the Senate earlier this year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held only one hearing on this treaty and quickly reported it to the full Senate. As one of the principle authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I support this treaty’s general goal of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities but believe that an international treaty is the wrong means of achieving that goal.
The CRPD would authorize a United Nations committee of individuals chosen by foreign countries to evaluate whether, in its opinion, a ratifying country is complying with the treaty. If the United States ratified it, this committee would scrutinize our political, social, cultural, and even family life. Since a ratified treaty has the same legal status as the Constitution itself, this treaty undermines American sovereignty and self-government.
With these concerns in mind, I voted against the CRPD on December 4, 2012. The 61-38 vote was fewer than the 2/3 margin that the Constitution requires for ratification. However, I will continue to support legitimate ways of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities.
In Sweden, many families lack the power to make their own decisions about their close relationships, especially when children arrive.
Symptoms are visible in the national statistics: High levels of stress-related sick leave, ambitious but insecure parents, increasing psychological ill heath among youth, plummeting learning results and more disorder in schools.
The governmental impediments are often well-intentioned: The everyone-to-work policy, gender equality, high subsidised day care, pre- and after-school care and school. But rather than create more welfare, these are in effect often hindrances to the close relationships which are so important to human health, learning and development.
The Mireja Institute seeks to educate people on this important subject.
Mireja Institute is politically and religiously unaffiliated and is neither based on any specific ideology, apart from democracy and human rights. The purpose of The Mireja Institute is to present the knowledge available today about health, learning and personal growth through attachment and relationships, to the political level.
This knowledge is lacking today in the political debate in many countries, Sweden being no exception. When this knowledge is publicly known family policies in most political camps will look different, even though the solutions may vary.
The goal is to make available the knowledge about the potential in close relationships to build welfare, development and democracy.
Founder of The Mireja Institute
Mireja founder Jonas Himmelstrand has been a consultant in business for nearly 30 years focusing on leadership, education and personal development.
Meeting a great number of Swedes in business life during many years raised some concerns about how well the Swedish people were actually doing in the world’s best well-fare system. Jonas spent five years working on a book to explain the phenomena. The problems seemed to boil down to a social system not acknowledging the key importance of family and close relationships to health, personal growth and self-fulfilment. He currently lives in exile outside of Sweden, due to Sweden’s anti-homeschooling laws.
With The Mireja Institute Jonas spreads knowledge on the subjects of family attachment and educational liberty. Mireja sends out a free newsletter with research videos and links.
This is a newsletter from the think tank Mireja.
The mailing list is expanded and professionalized. You can sign up for the list on the web, and anytime unsubscribe – all with IT automation – see links below. You are receiving this mailing for the first time can learn more about me and think tank Mireja on www.mireja.se/om_mireja.html .
It has been thin with “clips” in the last year. The forced relocation to Åland in Swedish education policy reasons, plus the global homeschooling conference in Berlin took all my time this year. Now with safer living conditions in exile and some good news there are many reasons to revive this mailing list. Knowledge Channel to broadcast a full study day with Dr. Gordon Neufeld on TV!
The world’s foremost experts on children and young people’s development is the Canadian psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld.
His book “Dare to Take Place in Your Child’s Life” has been translated into 14 languages and is based on a synthesis of classical developmental psychology, attachment theory and contemporary neuroscience. Dr. Neufeld has been to Sweden several times and given study days for school staff and lectures for parents. One key message is that parents and families are far more important for children’s development than we now recognize in the West and especially in Sweden.
Dr. Neufeld’s study day in Sweden in November, “Why doesn’t Charlie listen to his teacher?” Filmed by Knowledge Channel and will be broadcast in its entirety – just over five hours – as follows:
Monday, December 17, at. 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., parts 1 and 2. Tuesday, December 18, at. 4:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., Part 3 and 4. Then, all components of the replay: Friday, December 21, at. 12:00 to 17:15, Part 1-4
After the program was broadcast on television for the first time, they will be available online at www.urplay.se and www.ur.se . To find them, search for “Gordon Neufeld” or the name of the series, “Why doesn’t Charlie listen to his teacher?” (“Varför lyssnar inte Kalle på sin lärare?”)
Do not miss this opportunity to listen to the entire field day with Dr. Gordon Neufeld absolutely free!
Think tank Mireja’s Swedish website is now fully updated with all the year’s events, including exile, and also with ten links from the historic homeschooling conference in Berlin a few weeks ago.
At a recent conference of “Agency Based Education,” Alisa Ellis spoke about the goals of the U.S. Department of Education as they align with the United Nations’ “Universal Education” goals. This informative video explains how the nice-sounding plans of the United Nations actually harm us. They take away parental rights over children and take away teachers’ and school boards’ rights about what will be taught in local schools.
Common Core needs to be considered a means to an end, not the end. The end is International Education. We don’t have to speculate any more. We have new information:
The US Dept of Education website speaks of education for the “Global Public Good”. Here are some titles: “Broadening the Spirit of Respect and Cooperation for the Global Public Good” and “Strengthening Education as a Global Public Good”. The emphasis now is on International Education. Common Core is not the ends. It is only the means to get us there.
Another phrase for “International Education” is “World Class Education”. Traditionalists, like you and me, would define this term as excellent education, the best in the world, so we don’t see any red flags when it is used. I believe the new progressive definition of “World Class Education” is a ‘one-size-fits-all international Agenda 21 equity in education’.
In other words, children in all countries learn exactly the same thing, mainly, Agenda 21 UN goals of sustainability, working for the common good, climate change mixed with basic academics in order to succeed in a global world. We need to start understanding these new definitions of old terms in order to understand the international goals coming to schools near you. Arne Duncan says he no longer wants the U.S. to compete with other countries. He wants us to work with them, using the same curriculum so there will be equity among all nations.
He thinks the goal for the US Dept of Ed is to create equity across the world and to reach out and teach other nations as well, using our tax money. We are now partnered with the UN to bring these goals to pass.
The author of this blog thanks Susie Schell for her research.
If there is any doubt in any reader’s mind whether the agenda of the U.S. Department of Education’s agenda is precisely following and implementing the one-world, one-entity, control goals of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, please read this 2010 statement from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:
Statement on International Education Week 2010
by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
November 15-19, 2010
It is my privilege to invite you to participate in the 11th annual International Education Week, November 15-19, 2010. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State. It celebrates the importance and benefits of international education in the United States and around the world. This year’s theme is International Education: Striving for a Sustainable Future.
…We are reminded that the challenges we face today are increasingly borderless. Climate change, the environment, and the economy are but some of the issues that affect our daily lives and demand our attention on a global scale. Finding sustainable solutions is imperative and will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation. [NOTICE HOW HE USES 'CLIMATE CHANGE' AS A MATTER OF UNCONTESTED, SETTLED SCIENCE; NOTICE HOW HE NEVER SPEAKS OF LITERACY, MATH, OR LEARNING TRUTH, BUT HE USES THE EXACT TERMINOLOGY OF THE U.N.'S AGENDA 21 WHICH IS TO REORIENT EDUCATION TO BE ABOUT "COLLECTIVITY AND SUSTAINABILITY."]
A complete education in the 21st century must teach our children about their interdependent world, and it must prepare them to be good leaders and good global citizens …as they participate in international education and international exchange, our students can gain the knowledge and experiences to help them contribute to a sustainable future for all. [IF YOU EMPHASIZE BEING A GLOBAL CITIZEN AND BEING INTERDEPENDENT OVER BEING AN INDEPENDENT U.S. OR OTHER CITIZEN, YOU GIVE UP TEACHING NATIONAL PATRIOTISM, THE SAFETY OF NATIONAL LAW, A SENSE OF VALIANT DEFENSE AGAINST ENEMIES, AND THE PROTECTIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION]
…I strongly urge everyone to join the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State in celebrating international education…
It doesn’t feel like the happy neighborhood schools we used to have. Principals are trained to put off parents and just stand firm on what the districts dictate. Parents have become afraid to speak, too, because they are singled out.
I came clean with a few parents at parent teacher conference and tried hard to express my discontent in a friendly way, not making the district look too harsh, but they are.
They ask teachers out of formality to make it look like they respect us, then go ahead with their own agenda.
I am glad to share – I had a lot of emotional, upset moments in the publics schools over this and held SO MUCH INSIDE. Everyone is afraid – it feels like communism, really.
Parents need to be reading and speaking up. They need to be going to EACH school board in hoards, and protesting this but there has been NO discussion amongst parents at all, no voting, as you said in the website, and we have just been told as teachers what to teach and how to teach it. That is not what any of us want for our public schools! I can only speak from experience, but at least you know you are getting one teacher’s story.
While I feel grateful we did not go with Pearson (Sir Michael Barber) or with ACT (David Coleman) I don’t know if this is any different –the AIR group appears to be, just like Pearson and ACT, just another D.C. global-citizen indoctrination institute.
I wish we’d chosen to spend that 39 million on real blessings to our kids: great libraries of books, wonderful basketball courts, more high quality teachers, field trips— actual learning supplies, instead of on high-stakes tests that will track and manage (and limit) our children’s futures all the way into their careers.
The AIR tests will be meshed with the tracking system (P-20) that manages children from preschool to workforce via the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that the federal government paid us almost $10 million to use. (That contributed to the U.S. debt– it was ARRA stimulus money).
Interstate and intra-state agencies, and also state-fed relationships will share access to these test scores and to the citizen profiles the tests will build.
It’s a 1984-esque citizen profiling situation that can only be halted if teachers, parents and citizens stand up and say no, loudly.
Remenber, the new tests and the mediocre Common Core standards are not our local will. There’s never been a vote. These are products of the federal and globalist will that move under the general public’s radar.
The article quoted Dr. Menlove’s reference to “federal education law”– Oh, what an example of how far off we are! What would the writers of the Constitution say about states bowing to federal laws that are clearly unconstitutional, such as those which permit federal control of state education?
I do not think that the education leaders in Utah understand that they are playing directly into the hands of those who would replace freedom and the U.S. Constitution with a Collective where the individual has no say.
Think it’s too awful to believe?
It’s like the telephone game. Utah’s education leaders are whispered to by the federal educational leaders, who have been whispered to by top “Education Reform” activists: Sec. Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Clinton, Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber, ACT’s David Coleman, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, Bill Gates/UNESCO, and the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Education Reform.
It is not rocket science to see where they are pushing us.
I really don’t think the Utah leaders know it. Sadly, we all –and our children– pay for their obvious ignorance of the goals of globalist ”Education Reform”.
I was just reading the above-linked article about how CSCOPE is getting rich replacing Texas textbooks with an online system that parents cannot view and the board of education will not need to approve. Important article.
But my point here is something completely different:
A quote in the article was from Education Service Center Region 9 Executive Director Anne Poplin.
What?? Region 9?
Part of the U.N.’s Agenda 21 goal to overcome American exceptionalism and sovereignty is to have regions replace states. It’s a subtle and effective way to subvert the Constitution’s careful separation of states’ powers and federal powers.
I have been watching these videos today because my son is sick and has been napping. I’m glad I took the time. I have learned even more about the Sustainable Development movement that I did not know before. Highly recommended.
(This one Impact, a Heber, Utah radio show, with Bob Wren and Paul Royall interviewing Renee Braddy and me (Christel).
(This one’s Professor John Seddon, speaking to California State University faculty on why they will ruin education if they use Sir Michael Barber’s “Deliverology” methodology, which harmed the UK.)
This one’s Sir Michael Barber, speaking at the August 2012 Education Summit about how education reform is a global, not a local, control issue; and that every child in every country should learn exactly the same thing, and that all learning in every land should be underpinned by one “ethic,” that of environmental sustainability. See 2:55- 5:30 at least.
(This one’s me speaking to the Heber City Council about “Communities That Care” as a federally controlled, top-down, agenda-laden program we don’t want in Heber.
(This one is Jenni White of Oklahoma’s ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education) being interviewed by the three moms about P-20 councils, data collection via schools, and common core.)
(This one’s Jenni White’s presentation about Common Core to Oklahoma legislature)
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who became the President and prophet of the church, said:
“The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical conceptsof our time.
There is still plenty o’confusion in the state of Utah. Lawmakers are realizing that due to the Utah Constitution’s giving authority to the Board to determine educational issues, they are almost powerless (except to defund Common Core). The board seems skittish and embarrassed now that so many of us know the new standards are inferior and that our freedoms have been traded for what started out as a way to increase Utah’s chance at a federal education grant during an economic low. And some on the USOE and state school board ship seem to be steering toward the possibility of purchasing SBAC tests despite the fact that Utah just voted to cut membership ties with SBAC.
The board now admits it’s a federal program. Lawmakers are not fully aware yet of all aspects of Common Core, while the Board is digging in their heels about giving any references for their claims of increased rigor or local control.
It’s a great drama, but a sad one.
Illustration: After the meeting, Alisa Ellis and I asked School Board Chair Debra Roberts if we might get a chance to sit down and talk with her about all of this. She said, “We’ve already wasted $10,000 in Board time as this group has been sitting down with us so much.”
Really? We asked who they have actually been talking/sitting with. (I’ve never had the opportunity, but would like it. I have had the majority of my many emails ignored and was told “no” to a sit-down conference with USOE lawyer Carol Lear.)
Chair Roberts said, “Well, we’ve sat with Christel many times.” Hmm. I said, “I am Christel. And that is not true.”
She insisted it was. So, I asked who said that they had sat and talked with me. She didn’t say. I said that somebody has misinformed you or somebody needs to take a lie detector test.
She hurried away, refusing to even discuss sitting down with us. So did Superintendent Shumway. Strange. The board now seems afraid of the truth that might come out during a legitimate discussion with an educated citizen, and they simply will not give references for their claims nor will they sit down and talk like gentlemen. Or gentlewomen.
Both the Tribune and the Deseret News covered the historic meeting of the House and Senate Education Committee on Common Core at the State Capitol yesterday. But they failed to report on some of the more fascinating moments.
Like what? Well, they skipped the Data Alliance’s data-mashing discussion and skipped the probing questions legislators directed toward both the pro-Common Core, such as Utah Superintendent Larry Shumway (and his staff) and to the visiting experts who testified at the meeting, the heroes of Utah’s day:
Jim Stergios of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute and Ted Rebarber of the D.C. -based AccountabilityWorks
The papers also totally blew the hilarious part, where Rep. Moss’ rhetorical questions got “Yes!”es –called out by several audience members including me, after Rep. Moss asked, “Have these people even read the standards? Are they English teachers? Do they have Master’s Degrees?”
So, here are links to the local newspapers’ coverage of the event:
And here’s my version. Photos first, details follow.
Senator Howard Stephenson: he said if he were “the king of Utah,” he would follow the recommendation of the visiting education experts.
Representative Francis Gibson: he asked Stergios and Rebarber to clarify whether it was true that Massachusetts had had the highest educational standards in the nation [and had tested as an independent country, ranking in the top six internationally] before they dropped their standards to adopt Common Core. You could have heard a pin drop. Stergios answered: it was the very reason a Massachusetts scholar traveled to Utah to testify against Common Core.
Rebarber and Stergios: Why not brand Utah as the great state with courage to be independent of federal manipulation via Common Core?
Jim Stergios and Ted Rebarber have agreed to share written copies of their ten minute testimonies to the Utah legislature, but until I get a copy, here are a just few bullet points:
The quality of the Common Core standards is mediocre. Cutting classic literature to make room for informational texts has been said by Dr. Sandra Stotsky to be weakening college prep, taking away from the richer and broader vocabulary of classic literature.
The math standards are less rigorous; for example, they place Alg. I in high school rather than in middle school. Math lacks a coherent grade by grade progression. The Common Core experimental approach to teaching geometry has never been successfully piloted in the world.
Stergios quoted Jason Zimba, math architect for Common Core, who said that passing the Common Core test in math will only show a student is prepared to enter a nonselective community college.
Stergios said that CCSSO administrator Gene Wilhoit’s recent statement to the Utah School Board that “there’s no Common Core police,” is misleading. Stergios said that gentlemen’s agreements quickly become mandates, as the pattern of the Dept. of Education’s recent history shows. It is best to rely on what is in writing.
Stergios mentioned the Race to the Top for DISTRICTS, which is brand new. This shows zero respect for state authority over education. There is a steady pattern of encroachment by the federal government on education.
Common Core did not have adequate deliberation; after a 2 day approval and no public input, Utah adopted Common Core. Even Fordham Institute, a pro-common core think tank, rated Utah math standards higher prior to adoption of Common Core.
Stergios said Utah should brand itself as independent, thus attracting more talent and economic growth by reversing the adoption of Common Core.
Legislators hold the purse. There’s a separation of powers between the legislature and the State School Board, which holds the authority over determining standards. There’s also the Constitutional principle of checks and balances. The ESEA waiver shows the federal arm is tying funds to adoption of Common Core –or to a college program that the Dept. of Ed must approve. If legislators don’t approve of either the experimental, inferior aspect, or the federally-promoted aspect of the standards, they can withhold all Common Core funding. The school board will have to create independent standards.
NAPE tests provide national results; SAT and ACT do not. They are only used by certain states, not all.
SBAC’s passing scores are non-negotiable; the purpose is to define what proficient means. Utah can’t affect SBAC.
Federal Dept of Education has herded states into a set of standards. The benefits for collaboration are over when all have the same standards, whether you call them Utah Core or Common Core. It is the same.
Texas’ Robert Scott has said he would love to do collaborative work with other states, creating an item bank rather than exact common tests. There are other approaches and ways that don’t require everyone to be the very same.
The legislature has a duty to protect the right of Utah citizens not to give up education to federal control. Protecting state sovereignty is a legitimate concern.
Of the nearly packed to capacity room, who spoke up or asked questions? Several lawmakers:
Rep. Ken Sumison:
Who spoke up from the Utah Data Alliance and NCES? One man:
And who spoke at lennnnggggth from the Utah State School Board?
Superintendent Larry Shumway
Assistant Superintendent Judy Park
(who used the word “thrilled” multiple times in the same sentence as “sharing with the Department of Education”)
–and Utah State School Board Chair Debra Roberts:
Chair Roberts said: “I don’t care what the federal government has to say…I will listen to Utah educators.” (But she refuses to speak for even five minutes to educators like me, who oppose Common Core. )
Others in the audience (non-speaking roles) included:
The Honorable Judge Norman Jackson: (who has thoroughly reviewed the legal aspects of Common Core and based on his assessment, recommended Utah reject Common Core)
Rep. Kraig Powell
who has been studying both sides of Common Core with interest
And the pro-freedom in education activist, Alisa Ellis, with many more citizens against Common Core restraints:
So, with the exception Aaron Osmond –who says he’s to the point of nausea because of how much he’s had to face Common Core controversy –most legislators and citizens and teachers still don’t understand what Common Core is. I make this judgement from having heard very important, basic questions asked by legislators.
Sen. Stephenson, Rep. Gibson, Rep. Nielsen, Rep. Moss, Rep. Christianson, Rep. Sumison and others asked good, probing questions and made clear, excellent points, such as Rep. Sumison’s “Whoever pays, makes the rules.” (He wasn’t referring to the fact that the legislators hold the Utah public purse, but to the fact that the federal government has financially incentivized Common Core.)
–I’ll get to the rest of the legislators in a minute.
First, all in the audience had to trudge through almost two hours of the Pro-Common Core Show led by Superintendent Larry Shumway and Judy Park.
Park reported on the No Child Left Behind waiver. Dr. Park bubbled and gushed about what she called her “thrill of sharing Utah’s work with the Department of ED” in applying for No Child Left Behind. She used the word “sharing” and “thrilled” multiple times. Superintendent Shumway said that he was “offended” that people “in this room” have implied that he gets something out of sitting on boards outside Utah other than providing a helpful service. He said he receives no pay for sitting on the board of CCSSO (The Council of Chief State School Officers). He did not mention another board he sits on, WestEd, which is the test writer for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
John Brandt and his staffer said the Utah Data Alliance is no threat to citizen privacy, although, he chuckled, ”there are no guarantees,” and he admitted that ”about 10 people will have clearance to access personally identifiable” citizen information.
The Q + A:
So: What did the legislators want to know? What did the pro and con answerers say?
When Rep. Moss asked her rhetorical questions and got “Yes!”es shouted out in response, Superintendent Shumway answered her, too: “Standards set a base line. Standards don’t set a cap.” (I thought: Really? What does the 15% speed limit on learning set by the Dept of Education, and copyrighted by NGA/CCSSO, do– if it does not cap our rights to educate as we see fit? Please.)
When Rep. Stephenson pointed to the academic reviews of Common Core that are unfavorable to the school board’s claims that the standards will increase rigor and strengthen legitimate college prep, Superintendent Shumway deflected the question. Waving aside official reviews by actual members of the only official national Common Core Validation Committee, professors who refused to sign off on the Common Core standards as being adequate, Superintendent Shumway said: “there’s no dearth of documents.” (The referenced reviews of Dr. Sandra Stotsky on English and by Dr. James Milgam on math are available in Exhibit A and B here:
http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf and in many other places.
Rep. Christensen said he wants Utah to be independent and said, “Education is a local matter.” He was troubled by the”implicit recognition of federal supremacy,” illustrated by the majority of states having asked the federal government for waivers from No Child Left Behind. He added, “We’re going down a road” he is not happy about, illustrated by the fact he cited: a school board member said Utah had paid a $90,000 fine for noncompliance with No Child Left Behind.
In response, Superintendent Shumway said that there were various disclaimers in the No Child Left Behind application.
Rep. Nielsen asked if it was true that by 7th grade, under Common Core math, students would be two years behind world class standards. Jim Stergios responded that indeed, Common Core was a step backward for Utah, but it would be closer to one year behind. For other states, Common Core brings math standards back two years.
Rep. Nielsen stated concerns about local control, saying that the U.S. Dept of Education uses terms like “allows” this and “allows” that. Sup. Shumway responded that “We are navigating through compliated waters.”
Sen. Osmond and Sen. Stephenson asked cost-related questions: hadn’t Utah already borne the brunt of the online costs for technology to match Common Core? Ted Rebarber answered that the state should do a cost analysis as other states have done. Common Core requires transformative realignment to the national standards. Rebarber asked, “Why do it?” –Since the cost/benefit analysis shows Utah is giving away state authority while adding costs, for inferior standards or at best, very similar to previously held, state standards.
Sen. Stephenson asked about the “legitimate concerns about abandoning what districts are doing” concerning assessments. Sup. Shumway said, “We haven’t preselected any vendor [for testing]. We were careful not to create requirements that would exclude anyone.” Shumway invited any Utahn to go to schools.utah.gov and click on “popular links” and submit input on specific standards that Utahns find problematic. He said these must be academically central comments, not comments about state sovereignty over education.
Several legislators questioned the timing of simultaneously asking the public for feedback to change the standards when the test Request for Proposals (RFP) has already been written and the SBAC has long been in the test writing process. How could Utah’s changed standards match? (I would add, how do you think we’re going to get away with changing more than 15% of our standards when it’s copyrighted and the Dept. of Ed. is aiming for seamless commonality between states?)
Sup. Shumway said that the timetables are challenging.
Both Rep. Nielsen and Rep. Christensen were concerned with the costs of Common Core and the state longitudinal data system (SLDS), costs which have not been studied by Utah. The SLDS grant will run out in 2013.
Utah Technology Director John Brandt responded that he hoped the legislature would continue to fund SLDS, ”this valuable tool.”
Valuable tool for whom? Children? Parents? Freedom lovers? –Excuse me while I run screaming from the room and cross-stitch and frame in gold the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.
The SLDS and Data Alliance is either–
What John Brandt and his team said it is, yesterday: a state network of data (never to be shared with federal agencies) –a way to share preschool-to-workforce data about Utahns, among six state agencies (Dept. of Workforce Services, Utah State Office of Education, and more). Brandt assured legislators that personally identifiable portions of this data would be only accessed by about ten people in the state, but countless people can access the nonidentifiable portions of the data.
This makes more sense since Brandt belongs to the Dept. of Education’s research arm, the NCES, and he also belongs to -and chairs– the group that developed and copyrighted the Common Core standards, the CCSSO or Council of Chief State School Officers. NCES has a long-standing “National Data Collection Model” you can view here:
So Brandt is a fed, along with being the Technology Director for the state of Utah.
Relevantly, the Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, Joanne Weiss, has recently said that she’s combining or “mashing” data systems of federal agencies and is “helping” states (Oh, thank you!) by writing reports to assist them in developing research partnerships. She has said, ”Politicians often warn of the law of unintended consequences—as if all unintended consequences are negative ones—but in the world of data, we should also be aware of the law of welcome surprises.” (Weiss at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) annual conference.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html Thanks, Ms. Weiss. That makes me feel better.
I will keep this in mind while I continue to study exemplary progressive collectivism such as China’s Ministry of Public Security, as I recall the “data sharing” on citizens in Germany’s 1940s, or as I enjoy George Orwell’s immortal “1984″.
Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,
I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium. It was a heroic moment and America is watching.
Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.
I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education. Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.
This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests. Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests. Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.
I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests. But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level. Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to ”help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well. These things trouble me. I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.
–Or are we? Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue. This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC. If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties. Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government. We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.
On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends. I have asked a question but have not received a response: does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?
We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards. We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core. Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top. Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA. Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road. Does Utah really want that? If so, why? Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions? Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?
Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth: that Common Core is not rigorous enough. It does not solve our very real educational problems.
First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre. Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.
Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.
Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate. Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards. She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.
Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement. 1) States can use Common Core. Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark. If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!
Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free. She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.
Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.
Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.
Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.
QUESTION OF THE DAY: Since Massachusetts’ educational standards were the highest in the nation before Common Core came along; since Massachusetts’ standards were so high that, testing as an independent country, they ranked in the top worldwide, then why did we adopt Common Core “race-to-the-middle-denominator” instead?
James Gass, of Boston’s Pioneer Institute, asked this question. He said:
Given the historic success of Massachusetts on NAEP and TIMSS testing and the very average performance of the states that have worked with national standards players, unless national standards weren’t a ‘a race to the middle,’ why didn’t other states just adopt the Massachusetts standards, as 2010 Pioneer Institute and Diane Ravitch recommended?
Ravitch goes so far as to say that the Obama administration is wasting its time trying to establish national standards in English and math. “I wish they had just adopted the Massachusetts standards,’’ she said. “They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.’’
Diane Ravitch, historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Let me start by saying thanks to you as well. I think this conversation has been extra-ordinarily civil, despite our obvious differences of opinion. In today’s political realm, I can think of nothing more important than civility in discourse. So much of what could be productive dialog is reduced to worse than time-wasting shouting. I am genuinely grateful for your obvious passionate – yet polite – engagement around this topic.
I would disagree that my argument has been that ‘because research is supremely helpful in making improvements to education, anything that stands in the way of gathering research is reduced to optional/unimportant.’ I have argued for the importance of research in improving education, and I have argued for the importance of the exceptions to FERPA – which are clearly limited.
The study exemption FERPA governs schools initiating research and evaluation of their own programs – in other words, a school or district that wants to study itself. If a school district doesn’t have sophisticated research expertise in-house (and given today’s budgets – how could they afford to?), under the study exemption they are permitted to engage outside expertise in the process of conducting that research. Those outside experts may be contractors, consultants, or volunteers. And they can conduct this research without having to ask parents’ permission first. That seems wholly appropriate to me.
You suggest that “researchers should shoulder the inconvenience of getting parental/individual consent” before any research can be done. If the researcher has come to the school and proposed the work, this is exactly what would have to happen. And the research rarely occurs because too few parents engage in meaningful tasks like helping their child with homework, let alone signing a research consent form. And if these researchers can’t persuade enough parents to consent the research won’t happen, which is perhaps as it should be.
But when a school asks, “We want to understand how we can serve our students better – Ms. Research Expert, will you please help us?” Then under the exception a strict written contract is executed governing what data Ms. R. E. can and cannot see and what she can and cannot do with that data. Now that she is under contract, she is treated like other employees because she is subject to similar contractual obligations. And those obligations are what make “employees” in the first place.
I agree that must act ethically. And I ask, which is more ethical – prohibiting students from achieving more of their potential by prohibiting research that would facilitate that fulfillment? Or providing all individuals who are appropriately and contractually obligated to protect PII with access to PII for the reasons specified in their contracts?
The USOE has been holding public meetings about Common Core literally for years now, asking for community feedback and listening carefully to all opinions expressed. Some of that feedback has been critical, some of it has been supportive. Regardless of which path they choose to follow, they were certain to disappoint a large portion of their constituency. I’m genuinely sorry that you feel they have made the wrong choice. If they had rejected the Common Core, I’m sure I would have felt the same overwhelming sense of frustration and disappointment that I expect you feel because of their adoption of it.
While I can’t speak on behalf of the USOE, I would guess that if they seem unexcited by the idea of holding yet another hearing on these issues, it is because they have already held so many of them and have heard the arguments for and against repeated so many times in these meetings and other settings (op-eds, blog posts, Facebook comments, etc.) that they can recite – and explain – each of the pro and con arguments from memory. This does not mean that they are anti-transparency or anti-public input. But once you’ve heard all the arguments a dozen or more times, there is simply no “gaining the public’s input” function served by convening yet another meeting. The USOE has a clear obligation to obtain and consider public input, but that obligation does not mean that meetings must continue to be held quarterly as long as a portion of the constituency disagrees with their decision.
I believe the record of open public meetings (which was reviewed at length in the most recent public meeting on Common Core) provided ample opportunity for these decisions to be made with meaningful public vetting from 100% of schoolchildrens’ parents. The fact is that – even when you and I run around the state talking to everyone we can get our hands on – people don’t engage. I agree with you, that most parents in Utah still don’t even know what Common Core is nor what FERPA is about. But it is only partly up to people like me (and you!) to right this wrong. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. You and I can cry from the rooftops about how important this issue is, but parents have the agency to choose to ignore us. And they have largely exercised that agency to choose apathy. If, as you say 99% of them won’t engage over something this important, what prayer do we have of them ever signing a research consent form? =)
Finally, please do mistakenly believe that my views represent those of the David O. McKay School of Education or BYU. I am not a spokesman for either, and there are people in both the MSE and broader BYU communities who agree with your point of view (perhaps more than would agree with me). I am simply a person who supports the Common Core, and finds great pleasure in constructive dialog with people with other opinions.