Archive for the ‘curriculum’ Tag

Standing Room Only at Utah State Capitol’s Stop Common Core Meeting   3 comments

Legislators heard two and a half hours of public testimonies at last night’s Stop Common Core meeting at the Utah State Capitol Building which packed the Hall of Governors to overflowing.

Legislators claimed the first few rows of seats, and at least 500 people filled every chair while many people had to stand along the walls. The crowd and the legislators listened to two and a half hours of testimonies from teachers, parents and students.

Hundreds who wanted to speak out against Common Core were prevented by time. (Their written or filmed testimonies will be uploaded later at Utahns Against Common Core.)

Highlights:

– Teenage students speaking out against Common Core.
– Teachers, both current and retired, speaking out against Common Core.
– A licensed child psychologist speaking out against Common Core.
– Three (out of the seven members) of the Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest school district, each speaking out against Common Core, especially noting concerns about the common core-aligned standardized testing which ends liberty and local control.
– A legislator who rose to the enthusiastically cheering crowd and said, “We hear you. And we are going to work.”

The event was filmed and will be viewable soon. It was also covered by Channel 4 and by the Deseret News.

http://www.abc4.com/mostpopular/story/Utahns-gather-at-the-State-Capitol-to-voice/IA79JikQ2EmeaAnaG-M6LA.cspx

Freedom Project Education   6 comments

I just saw this today in an email and wanted to share the fact that there are alternatives to common core aligned curricula.

 

Official Policy of FPE Curriculum on Common Core

In mid-March of 2013, FreedomProject Education was made aware that many homeschool publishers planned to adapt their textbooks to align with Common Core mandates, those national standards developed by Washington D.C. insiders, lobby- ists, and liberal special interest groups, all subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Upon learning that some of the textbooks currently used in FPE classes were slated for Common Core adaptation, FPE immediately reiterated our staunch commitment to removing any textbook from our curriculum that migrated to Common Core standards. We began an extensive review of our booklists and contacted many publishers and presses directly to ascertain first-hand their posi- tion and plans vis a vis Common Core. FPE also inaugurated a series of free and public Webcasts designed to explain and expose the insidious governmental power grab that is Common Core.

Among the things we discovered in researching our booklists is that a number of our current publishers do indeed plan to adapt their textbooks to Common Core requirements. In many cases this adaptation is in the works for future editions and has yet to manifest itself in the textbooks we currently use. In other instances, certain textbooks have already included elements in preparation for the coming move to Common Core. Further complicating the issue, some of our publishers have been designated by government agencies asCommon Core compliant” without—they claim—having asked for that designation or having taken any steps to adapt their curriculum to Common Core Standards. Our research has found a good deal of dishonesty in these claims, with representatives telling us there will be no incorporation of Common Core, while their very websites tout compliance. These are the realities as we currently find them since our investigation com- mencing in Mid-March 2013.

FPE decided on booklists for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year in October of 2012, and those lists went out to faculty, current FPE families, and prospective students in early March 2013, two weeks before we learned that some homeschool publishers were adapting to Common Core standards. Given that 1) most of our current textbooks have yet to be altered to reflect specific Common Core guidelines; 2) that we have mailed out hundreds of program guides and distributed thou- sands of fliers listing as required the textbook list established in October 2012; 3) that many current FPE students, as well as new-enrollees for 2013-2014, have already purchased books based on the October 2012 list and will not easily be able to return them; and 4) that many of our teachers need time to adapt their courses to new textbooks that are free of any taint of Common Core ideology; we feel it is in the best interest of all concerned to proceed in the 2013-2014 academic year with the booklists established in October 2012.

Keeping the current roster of books will allow us to avoid the considerable confusion and expense that would occur if we made immediate and precipitous changes. It will also allow FPE to be careful and judicious in selecting alternative Common Core free textbooks for the 2014-2015 academic year. Further, the extra year will allow teachers to both monitor current books for Common Core problems and begin the process of transitioning from current texts to new ones in a methodical and pedagogically sound way. We plan to make each and every FPE teacher aware of any perceived Common Core bias in our current textbooks, to assist them in circumventing these standards, and to encourage them to bring to our attention any instances of infiltration they discover on their own.

We at FPE remain adamantly opposed to the implementation of Common Core in public schools, and under no circum- stances will we tolerate Common Core in our own classrooms moving forward. As we work through the upcoming 2013- 2014 school year, we encourage FPE faculty, families, and students to share with us their opinions about current textbooks and partner with us in being vigilant in opposing all such examples of gross government overreach. We also intend to host a new series of Webcasts in May 2013 that address FPE’s specific plans to counter Common Core and provide an online, homeschool education for America’s children that is free of spin, indoctrination, and cynical government manipulation.

FPEUSA.ORG

1 (800) 807 7292 750 N. Hickory Farm Lane, Appleton, WI 54914

Sincerely,

FreedomProject Education

Common Core Plague Hits Independent Curricula Companies   40 comments

Popular Home School Curricula and Common Core

By Kristen Chevrier

Reposted from http://homeschoolwise.com/2013/03/02/popular-home-school-curricula-and-common-core/

After learning that some very popular home school curricula have aligned their programs with Common Core, I decided to do some research. I will be keeping a running list of those who have and have not aligned with Common Core. I would appreciate your input.

After learning that some very popular home school curricula have aligned their programs with Common Core, I decided to do some research. I will be keeping a running list of those who have and have not aligned with Common Core. I would appreciate your input.

Having curricula that meet (or exceed) Common Core standards is not the same as aligning a program with Common Core. And having elements of Common Core in a program does not make it all bad. What is important in choosing any study materials is that you are aware of what your child is learning.

While we are on the topic of curricula: Many people come into home schooling thinking that they must have a completely planned curriculum and follow it exclusively. Not so. You have much more flexibility to address the needs and interests of individual children if you are willing be creative. While there are benefits to having a standard curriculum for the basics, it’s okay to create your own by picking and choosing materials from any source that suits your needs. Don’t get stuck in a box. Be flexible. Embrace your instincts. And actively choose to be your child’s guide.

Here is what I have found, so far:

Common Core-Aligned or Receiving Funding from Common Core Proponents:

Right Start Math

MathUSee

Math Mammoth

Critical Thinking Press

BYU Independent Study

Writing Road to Reading (Spalding)

Core Knowledge Curriculum

BJU Press

Alpha Omega

K12

Appear to be acknowledging where they align with CC, but not necessarily changing to align:

Singapore Math (Please see statement by Jeffrey Thomas, President and Co-Founder of Singapore Math in the comments below.)

Saxon Math

Explode the Code

Excellence in Writing

Easy Grammar

Khan Academy (Khan Academy is funded by some of the same people who fund and promote Common Core, but the videos are pre-CC and not likely to be re-made to align with CC. )

Currently Not Aligned with Common Core:

Ray’s Arithmetic

Rod and Staff Arithmetic

Life of Fred

Miquon Math

Teaching Textbooks

Jacob’s Math

Euclid’s Elements

McGuffey’s Readers

Simply Grammar

Primary Language Lessons

Apologia Science

Sonlight Curriculum

Media Angels Curriculum

Christian Light

Abeka

Kiselev’s Math

This is not an exhaustive list. I will add to it as I find more information. Please feel free to give input.

If you are using one of the programs that has aligned with Common Core I encourage you to write to or call the publisher and let them know how you feel about it.

— — — — —

Thank you, Kristen, for your helpful research.

Dare to Home School   7 comments

 Dare to Home School

Education is the continuation of God’s creation of a human life.

This idea comes from author and scholar Dr. Neil Flinders. Think about it: the instant the baby leaves the womb  –and even before leaving the womb–  he/she is beginning to learn. He gains knowledge from us as parents, from the beginning– language skills, the ability to eat, to feel love, to hear music and to absorb all our “norms”.

Why do so many parents feel pain when they send their five-year-olds to kindergarten– and cry?

They are giving away the child.  For most of the day, for the rest of their lives, that child belongs to the school system, not to the parent.  It often feels like the wrong thing to be doing. And maybe it is.

When I mention that I’m home schooling my fourth grader, I often get this response: “Oh, I wish I could do that. I don’t dare. I am not ____ enough.”   (adjectives vary– organized, smart, brave, educated, confident, etc.)

It is sad that there are parents out there who long to spend more time with their own children, who would be experiencing the academic miracles and family joys that home school parents see, but something holds them back.

So I’m writing today to the parents who are almost ready to home school their children.  I encourage you to jump in. Those who want to home school, but don’t do it, usually state either: 1) I don’t know what I would teach, or 2) My child needs peers for social development:

1. I don’t know what I would teach/ I am not educated enough to teach.

There is a misperception that “real” teachers have fairy dust or all-powerful diplomas that make them fundamentally different from you. But every parent, like every child, has got a combination of gifts and weaknesses.

The teaching diploma is Dumbo’s feather. (Remember the story? Dumbo did not really need the feather to fly; it made him think he could fly but he already had that ability without it.)

I know this because I learned next to nothing of actual value in my CSUSB teaching program. The valuable stuff came from mentors and from personal experience.

And, guess what? Even though I am a credentialed teacher and have taught third grade, high school and college for years and years and years, still, when it came time to make the choice whether to home school or not, I froze.

I felt a heavy responsibility to make sure my son received the very best education I could possibly acquire for him. Could I do it without authority figures and lists of rules and tests and bureaucratic ideals to follow? Seriously! I was nervous.

That heavy responsibility is on us whether we choose to home school or not.

The responsibility for what a child learns and becomes is not the government’s or the school system’s. It’s ours as parents, and always has been.

There are so many curricula, programs, textbook series, online ideas and sets of standards that your problem won’t be: “what will I teach?” It will be “what must I leave out” because there is so much you can do.

Just start researching what other successful home school parents do. Then make up your own mind which method sounds the very, very best– to you. You are in charge and you know your child better than anyone on the earth.

So trust your judgment as you would have trusted a favorite principal or mentor in the past.

Studies show that even home schooling parents with low levels of education wind up with children that are better educated than children who attend public schools.   See:  http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso

I can see why. Home school works more like the brain works. A child studies a topic, thinks about it, gets questions, and goes to find answers for those questions almost immediately. You don’t have to wait for the whole class to get to the topic. Curiosity stays fresh. Students learn more quickly and more specifically to how the mind works.  And if a child especially loves art, math, physics or sewing, he/she may advance in that area much more than he or she could in most one-size-fits-all public systems.

If there’s a subject you fear teaching, GET OVER IT.  Those oft-hated subjects, of math, history or science are only hard when you have had boring teachers in your past. There’s a spoonful of sugar element most math-haters or history-haters or other subject-haters, have never seen.

When people say “I’m not a math person,” or some similar comment, to me, it’s like saying, “I don’t speak French.” That’s nothing but exposure, baby. You can enjoy any subject with love, patience and determination.

I am teaching traditional Saxon math  to my son right now, who went from 4th to 6th grade math ability in five months’ time by homeschooling.  I also teach him the same things I taught my remedial college writing classes– parts of speech, diagramming sentences, using commas properly, writing complex sentences, using more interesting and rich vocabulary, and HAVING FUN by writing about interesting things.  His writing skills did the same thing that his math skills have done– soared.

He was not a strong writer last autumn.  But last week, he volunteered to write and submit a 500 word essay to a local political essay contest on a very hard topic.  No kidding.  He did it on his own.  And it was good.

No matter what else we do on any given day– and it varies widely; some days we’re swimming and diving at the pool; some days we’re picnicking at the park; some days we are a museum or a grandparent’s house or a quilting bee or touring the local university– but we never skip the Saxon math lesson or the essay writing. 

Now, essay writing might mean writing a poem, or creating a powerpoint on the computer with sentences under each photo, or writing a letter to Santa or to a grandparent; it might mean writing a fictional story.  It might mean writing about the first five presidents of the United States after we’ve studied them in our history lesson. It varies, but we never skip the writing, nor the math. That’s my way.  But you’ll have your own.

I make sure to add in the things that Common Core is deleting from public education:

  1. Cursive- every day, my son writes a verse from the scriptures in cursive, and on many days, I have him write his whole essay in cursive.  Because it’s beautiful.
  2. Traditional math- as I’ve said before, I do not like the common core “constructivist” math programs and most textbooks are aligning now to common core.  I purchase old, pre-common core text books from Saxon (there are other traditional programs, too).
  3. Classic literature – the only place “informational text” is read in my home school is when we are studying subjects other than English, such as history, science, math, geography, and now, journalism.  When we choose reading materials, we choose actual literature: Tom Sawyer, The Hobbit, Swedish Fairy Tales, Great Expectations, etc. The vocabulary’s so rich; the imagery and metaphors and good versus evil concepts and life-lessons are no where else in such abundance as they are to be found in classic literature.  Kids need it.

2. My child needs to be surrounded by his or her peers for social development.

The second concern parents usually raise is that their child needs socialization and that’s only available in public school.  Really?

With sports teams, scouting, church activities, neighborhood friends, cousins, siblings, parents, field trips, and other, outside-our-home, homeschooling events, I never feel that my homeschooler is socially deprived.

In fact, the opposite is true. He now receives more one-on-one teaching time and talking time with me than he did when he attended public school. Even when I’m not teaching, I’m teaching. He’s conversing with an adult much of the day, and that is educational. He’s not just told to be quiet and listen and occasionally to raise his hand. He talks with me all day long. And we go out of our way to make sure he gets peer play time, as well.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, he mentioned that one of his favorite traditions in public school was decorating a box to receive valentines in. So we made creative boxes for each member of our family and displayed them on the piano. We are putting cards and candies in them all month long. And mailing valentines to cousins, missionaries and others, just for fun. There are very few positive public school activities that cannot be recreated in home school. And many useless ones that can be skipped.

Additionally, there are other home school families either in your neighborhood or online that you can connect with.

Last week, four homeschool families in my neighborhood got together for a “snow day.” The children went sledding while the parents had a teachers’ conference. One mother who had only been home schooling for a few weeks was so excited that she brought all her history curriculum and her children’s binders and was showing us what they’re doing. The children love it so much that when they have free reading time, they are still reading their history books.

Home schooling is hard work; yes, but it absolutely works –and it is so much fun.

One of the most wonderful things about home school is that I get to teach my child faith in God, something government schools are forbidden to do. And I do.  The teaching of all subjects under the umbrella of “God is real and God is love” makes a huge difference in the approach we take to any subject.

I will close with one fine example.  It’s a video I showed my son as part of our science curriculum this week, that features a renowned scientist, Dr. Lewis, a NASA advisor, explaining his beautiful faith in God and how he combines science with faith.

Enjoy.    http://youtu.be/JR8qIrJcJh4

History Teacher Speaks Out: Stop Common Core   2 comments

A History Teacher’s Message to America

About Common Core Standards

by C.E. White

This week, President Obama will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America.

As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation. Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality.

As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.

In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.” As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism. However, over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards. A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research. My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me. I care about their future, and the future of our country.

My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking. I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards. I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children. How can “common” standards be a bad thing? After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts?

As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed. I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught. The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.

One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.” In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”
When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.” I am forced to drink the kool-aid. These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know. Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction? Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education? Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?

I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.” As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change. Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core. This is a brainwashing bully tactic. It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own. Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right. In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change. I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.

I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards. Our children deserve more. Our teachers deserve more. Our country deserves more. Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.

President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own. Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more. These tests violate our states’ rights. I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests? Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested?

What about privacy under Common Core? Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act? Do parents realize their child’s data, including biometric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others?

If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same. What is America becoming?

As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history. And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.

C.E. White

A Homeschool Update   4 comments

We’ve been doing homeschool for my fourth grader since October.

It’s so much fun! 

Having a two year old next to a fourth grader means that sometimes we’re schooling in the hall, watching the baby take a two hour bath next to the open door.  It means that sometimes, we have to send the fourth grader into a quiet room with a locked door because the two year old is tantruming and it’s hard to focus in that environment.  It means that I rarely dust and barely get the groceries bought before we’re out of everything.  Sometimes the laundry and other to-do lists sit for days.  I haven’t perfected my systems. But in the midst of the imperfection, it feels like a kind of perfection.

My priorities are teaching my kids and enjoying our lives, before challenging the dust or laundry or almost anything else.

We learn a ton, have a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.

A few weeks ago, we drove to Camp Floyd, a historic site in Utah, to learn about Utah history in the 1800s.

Another day, we went to the local Recreation center to play basketball.

We go to the library, often.

We went one day to the church quilting project, to make Christmas quilts for jail inmates.  My son learned how to tie a quilt.

We are so free.

No set of Common Core standards.  No dumb school assemblies.  No asking strangers for their permission to spend time with my own child.

We are in charge of our schooling.

Every day, we read scriptures, writes a verse in cursive, and we talk about it.  Some days it’s the Book of Mormon. Some days it’s the New Testament. Today we read the story of Daniel and his three friends who were kidnapped by King Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem and taken far from home, never to return.  (I hadn’t remembered the full story. Did you know that Daniel and his friends were to be killed because they were considered wise men, and the king didn’t believe in his wise men anymore because nobody could tell him both what he’d dreamed and interpret the dream?  So Daniel and his friends prayed and God revealed the king’s dream and also its interpretation to Daniel– a great, great miracle.  It saved Daniel’s life, but more importantly, it taught the king that there is a God who does give power to human beings on conditions of faithfulness to Him.

We have been studying geography a lot (he now knows where the countries of Central and South America are, where the counties of Utah are, and is beginning on the Caribbean Islands.)  There are fun and free online games for Geography students.

We have been studying history. He now knows all about the founding of our nation– the first five presidents in detail– and about early North and South American explorers– de Soto, Hudson, Erikson, Columbus, Magellan, Lewis & Clark, etc., and now we’re reading about 14th century Europe.

We read about the Bubonic plague, the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Vikings.  I plan to make a giant timeline going all around his bedroom, where he can draw things he’s learned about through history.

Some days I make him diagram sentences, with verb, subject, preposition, direct object, adverbs, adjectives, articles, etc.

Some days I have him correct sentence errors– commas, capitalization, apostrophes, etc.

Some days he does an art project.  Some days he takes great photos for his little photography portfolio.

Some days he does a science experiment or looks at things under his microscope and writes about them.

Some days I teach him how to spell a very difficult word and I test him on it later in the day.

Some days we read Swedish books and do Swedish vocabulary or Swedish grammar sheets that I write myself.

One day, we spent the whole day studying volcanoes.  We watched some great YouTube clips about volcanoes.  I liked the one from Bill Nye the Science Guy.  We also read about them in books.  We found them in science and in literature.  And they were in our text, “What Your Fourth Grader Needs To Know.”

I let curiosity guide us.  I don’t keep a tight leash on our curriculum, with two strict exceptions:  every day, a chapter of Saxon math and every day, he has to write an essay.

His essays can be poems, journal entries, fiction stories, reports about what he’s been learning, letters to Santa or to a great aunt… he just has to write every day, about a page (a little less, or a lot more than a page, every day).

All the other subjects are covered, but not each day, and not for any set amount of time.  Our curiosity determines what we study, with those two exceptions I noted.

Today, as usual, we did a chapter of Saxon math.  I usually sit with him for the first half, and then set him to answer the 30 questions that are after each lesson.  I usually put dots on a handful of the questions meaning “skip these” if I know he knows the review problems very, very well, so he can fly through.  I am trying to keep it interesting and invigorating, not dreadfully heavy, so he’ll love to learn and love math.  He’s going to be in the sixth grade book very soon.

Today we read in our Usborn science book (very colorful and thick book which I love) all about the periodic table (we just scanned it) and we talked about why there are groups in one row and periods in another row, and how cool the elements are and how interesting it is that these metals and nonmetals and semi-metals are in everything around us, even in our foods and in our bodies, and how they make jewels and everything on earth.  We already knew in detail about the Halogens, but we’ll read about the elements and the rocks they are found in, next week.

    We read a few more chapters in “The Hobbit” by Tolkien, today.  He can’t get enough.  I have to drag him away to do his writing or to eat lunch. When he finishes the book, I’ll take him to see the movie but he must promise to look away during the war scenes. He is only 9 and it’s a PG-13 movie which will certainly be more violent than I want to see, let alone allow a 9 year old to see.  But we both love the story.  It’s full of new vocabulary words for him (it’s way above a fourth grade reading level) and it enlivens his imagination.  He reads it silently sometimes, and we read it together aloud, some times.

     This week, we visited his grandfather, a retired Pan American Airlines captain, to have a lesson on how airplanes fly.  Grandpa/Morfar also taught my son his math out of the Saxon math book, and taught him how to tie ropes (scouting) and next week, we’re going with Grandpa to a field trip to the swimming pool to learn how to dive, since Grandpa/Morfar used to teach swimming lessons years ago.

He’s also doing a project that his stepfather created for him.  They bought supplies to do an experiment.  My son has to do the experiment and then, using the receipt from Wal-Mart of the supply list, he has to figure out how much each “kit” costs and how much each part of the kit costs (100 paper clips for $1.37 for example) and then he gets to assess the materials (research and development).

He just finished writing a story.   I guided the story by saying it had to be in cursive and it had to include two new vocabulary words: “aileron” and “frond” –but other than that, anything goes.  He did a great job.  He wrote a vivid adventure that involved an emergency landing of an airplane into a jungle that had mosquitoes the size of your head.

And during recess, he decided to create his own musical instrument.  He used a rubber band, a toilet paper tube, a piece of paper, a screw, a paper clip, some tape and a pipe cleaner.  It really works, too.

He is getting more and more creative; also wiser.  He recognized and pointed out to me an analogy from “The Hobbit” that he saw which reminded him of common core education.  Common Core was a goblin bent on making certain useful –but only useful and never beautiful– tools.   I guess he was listening when I was ranting about Common Core architect David Coleman and his removal of narrative writing and classic literature from the common core, and I said that literature is for soaring, for beauty and joy, and not just for basic employability.

He read to me:

“... armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they can make many clever ones.”

- p. 62, The Hobbit.

What more can I say?

Dear Principal   2 comments

I wrote a letter to the principal who heads the school that my non-homeschooled child attends.  It’s posted below.   What got me thinking enough to write it was Sue Schmidt’s letter, posted by Oak Norton on Utahns Against Common Core, today.  It is posted under my letter.
Shawn,
Regardless of what political views you hold, you likely agree that educators should recognize and get rid of Anti-American bias that poses as modern “fact”.  Freedom of thought and expression demand that bias be exposed, not promoted, especially in schools.
I am forwarding this email below, hoping you will double check before ordering any history or social studies texts that minimize teaching a reverence for American history and citizenship, in favor of anti-American, collectivist “global citizenship”.
I see an aggressive “progressive” move in education today, away from traditional loyalty to the Constitution and toward global citizenry and U.N. reverence.  I noticed this slant in last year’s WHS  A.P. Geography text, for example.
Two years ago, Texas kicked out the liberal bias from their textbooks.  Could Wasatch schools identify and remove bias similarly? http://www.creators.com/opinion/phyllis-schlafly/texas-kicks-out-liberal-bias-from-textbooks.html
I have taken the time to study actual speeches (posted on YouTube) given by Michael Barber, the CEA of educational text corporation PEARSON.  We use Pearson in Wasatch, as you know.  But you may not know where they come from politically.

This British CEA, Michael Barber, also regularly “tweets” about American politics needing to veer left.  I heard things in Barber’s speeches that I don’t think parents here want to push students toward.  I assume Barber’s philosophies trickle down into Pearson’s instructional materials.
Just asking you to read extra carefully.
Christel
———- Forwarded message ———-

Post: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/whats-in-your-childs-textbook/

I received this email yesterday and (with permission from Sue to post) thought I would pose the question to parents, do you know what’s in your child’s school books?

Oak,

I just thought you would be interested and I want to let as many parents as possible aware of my experience.   I have been a homeschooling mom mostly since my now 17 year olds were in 3rd grade.  We recently moved to Springville and that combined with other circumstances led me to try public school for all my 7 kids who are of school age (I have 2 younger ones still at home.)

It has a positive experience so far in many ways but I continue to dislike common core on many levels and I have really been concerned  about what is and isn’t being taught in history.   So concerned that I decided to ask my 6th grade child’s teacher if I could borrow a copy of the history books he is teaching out of.

Appalled is the ONLY word I can think of to describe what I found there!  It’s a world history book and the section on the US is maybe 4 pages long.  It has no mention of our founding fathers but teaches abundantly about Karl Marx and his “wonderful ideas”.

The section on Christianity is a joke but the section on Islam is lengthy.   It’s just ridiculous! !

Needless to say my kids will either be transferring to the local charter school that does not use common core and teaches much about our founding fathers or it’s back to homeschooling.

I think the media needs to hear about this!  Just thought you’d be interested.

Thanks,

Sue Schmidt

_____

Oak Norton, a Utah parent who heads Utahns Against Common Core, recently filed a GRAMA request with the state.  In correspondence with the legal counsel for the Utah State Office of Education, he was told the request was going to be charged to him because they felt it was primarily of private interest instead of public, since state board members had not received a single complaint on the subject of the selection of the new superintendent.

Oak happened to know this was false.

A few years ago, in the course of a single month, Oak was contacted by 4 separate families who went to Alpine School District to complain about Investigations math, and the very same administrator at the district office told each one of them that they were the only parent to ever complain about the math program.

Each one left wondering if they were the only one to speak up. Unless many more people speak up about the problems and work to get neighbors informed and speak up as well, our school system will continue the downward slide into politically-controlled curriculum and indoctrination.

I am asking you to do the same: contact your local school board, principal and political representative by phone or email if these things matter to you.

 

Boston Herald Mourns: Common Core’s Dumbing Down Massachusetts Education   Leave a comment

I wish the media and the politicians in my dear state would fully wake up and see Common Core for the education disaster that it is.

I thought Utah was a pretty wise, pretty constitutionally-grounded state, as a whole.  And I used to assume Massachusetts –Pappa used to call it “Tax-achussetts” –was practically in Europe as far as socialism and  lousy “progressive” thinking goes. 

But now I wonder if some folks in Massachusetts are smarter than many folks in Utah –for loudly exposing the fallacy of Common Core,  which is supposed to benefit, not retard, American education. 

I’m thinking now about editorials.  I see some very smart ones coming from Massachusetts.  But do I see clear thinking, common core-questioning, stop-in-your-tracks editorials (like the Boston Herald piece I’ve reposted below) coming from Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News?

Nope.

 

The Boston Herald’s editorial this week said:        http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/opinion/editorials/2012/12/salute_and_warning

“Massachusetts eighth-graders are entitled to congratulations for their outstanding performance on the 2011 version of the Trends in International Math and Science Study examination. But adults should not expect such excellence under the state’s embrace of the dumbed-down “Common Core” national curriculum standards.

A sample of Massachusetts students, competing as a separate country, placed sixth among 63 entrants in math, and second only to Singapore in science.

The Massachusetts test-takers spent six years studying math and science under the rigorous standards adopted as a result of the 1993 education reform law that required passing the MCAS test to graduate from high school. This created the kind of momentum that clearly bolstered the TIMSS results. The squishy “Common Core” standards adopted in 2010 have not had time to undo that yet.

But just look at the new math standards. Students are not expected to be able to use the common algorithms for arithmetic operations, which are barely nodded at. They are expected instead to reason or intuit their way to answers and discover “principles.” While 12-year-olds struggle with this process, better left to high school or college, they miss a lot.

The state still gives an MCAS test, but the Common Core organizers expect to produce a new test for 2014, which should be based on the 2010 curriculum standards. “I find it hard to believe that adopting lesser standards would lead us to expect that we would improve,” commented Michael Sentance, secretary of education under Gov. Bill Weld.

The state’s new secretary of education, Matthew Malone, a veteran of four years as superintendent of the Brockton school system, ought to rethink the dumbing down of what had been high standards.”

http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/opinion/editorials/2012/12/salute_and_warning

Now that’s a significant editorial on state education.

Why I Decided to Homeschool My Child   5 comments

     Even though the elementary school my son attended up until this week is one of the friendliest, most parent-involved and teacher-dedicated school I’ve ever seen, I decided to homeschool. 

My decision to homeschool is not a political statement, although I am vehemently opposed to the Common Core Initiative which has taken over our schools. 

It’s not an attempt to shield my son from the pegging that happens with high stakes testing; I had already opted us out of all high stakes, standardized tests at the elementary school.

Although I am a certified teacher with an up to date credential and many years’ experience teaching in schools, I am not basing my decision on that; research I’ve seen by Jonas Himmelstrand, and by others, has shown that even children taught at home by parents with low education levels turn out better educated kids, on the whole, than kids who are taught in public school systems.

My decision was not an attempt to hide from the citizen surveillance program that has recently been implemented via the SLDS and P-20 systems in each state, although I am vehemently opposed to that, too.  (BTW, the fact that kids can’t attend school without being personally tracked was verified in an email to me by Lorraine, the secretary of the Utah State School Board that is posted on this site.)

I’m homeschooling because one-on-one, customized tutoring is more effective than teaching in large groups.  I’m homeschooling because I can eliminate things I don’t feel are important and make more time for things I feel are important.  Example: I have time to teach him things that public schools do not prioritize, such as not only reading and math and social studies, but also geography, cursive, Swedish, diagramming sentences, reading scriptures, analysis of government and liberty.  I’m homeschooling because my son wants me to.  He asked me to.

Friends have been asking me what I am using.

  • Lined paper and a pencil, because I want him to have great handwriting, the ability to write in cursive, and no spellcheck until he’s older.
  • A computer, because he can create powerpoints based on what he’s learned, and practice typing, and find maps and dictionaries, etc.
  • Saxon math, because it’s “real” math, traditional math, and there’s an online placement test before you buy the text book.  I love it. 
  • “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know” because I used this line of books when I taught elementary school a few years ago and liked it.
  • CK Colorado because it’s a free website with lesson plans that match the “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know.”
  • Swedish Fairy Tales.
  • The Scriptures.
  • The same grammar books I used for remedial students when I taught English at UVU
  • Mad Libs.
  • The CIA World Factbook and maps on the internet to teach geography.
  • Virtual Field Trips (online: to an apple cider factory, woolen mill, surfboard factory, museums worldwide, Machu Piccu via National Geographic YouTube, etc.)
  • Real Field Trips (there are so many things close by– university art and science museums, farms, airports, libraries, historical sites)   

And, to ensure he’s not socially left out, I also have him in karate three times a week, boy scouts, church, and I encourage neighbor and sibling play time all afternoon, and I’ve joined the Utah County homeschooling association and will probably do things with them as well.

   Ironically, in the October 15, 2012, issue of the National Review, there’s an article called The Last Radicals“The Last Radicals: Homeschoolers Occupy the Curriculum” that came out, ironically, the same week that I decided to homeschool my own fourth grade son.   

The author, Kevin D. Williamson, writes:

<!—->          There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.

In the public imagination, homeschooling has a distinctly conservative and Evangelical odor about it, but it was not always so. The modern homeschooling movement really has its roots in 1960s countercultural tendencies; along with A Love Supreme, it may represent the only worthwhile cultural product of that era. The movement’s urtext is Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, by A. S. Neill, which sold millions of copies in the 1960s and 1970s. Neill was the headmaster of an English school organized (to the extent that it was organized) around neo-Freudian psychotherapeutic notions and Marxian ideas about the nature of power relationships in society. He looked forward to the day when conventional religion would wither away — “Most of our religious practices are a sham,” he declared — and in general had about as little in common with what most people regard as the typical homeschooler as it is possible to have.

“People forget that some of the first homeschoolers were hippies,” says Bob Wiesner, a counselor at the Seton Home Study School, a Catholic educational apostolate reporting to the bishop of Arlington, Va. In one of history’s little ironies, today most of homeschooling’s bitterest enemies are to be found on the left. “We don’t have much of a problem from conservatives,” Wiesner says. “It’s the teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, and liberal professors. College professors by and large don’t want students who can think for themselves. They want students they can indoctrinate, but that’s hard to do with homeschoolers — homeschoolers push back.”

Full Article here:  https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/328699/last-radicals

Fox News: Obama’s biggest plan to socialize America may be his secret: Common Core   4 comments

   According to Stanley Kurtz, whose Fox News editorial is excerpted below, one of Obama’s biggest plans to create socialism in America comes in the form of Common Core education.  His book on the subject is in stores now:  “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.”

Kurtz says that Obama is quietly promoting a dumbed-down national curriculum (called “rigorous”) that is designed to  artificially suppress achievement gaps between urban and suburban students. Kurtz says that although the  right way to help poorly performing students is not to gut standards but to  raise achievement, still Obama is committed to defining performance down.   What a way to equalize college readiness.

Kurtz concludes that Obama’s ultimate goal is to erase the differences  between local school districts with a massive redistribution of suburban  education spending to the cities.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/07/should-white-house-control-what-your-kids-learn-in-school/print#ixzz25oIO40oT

   By the way, if you also want to hear Stanley Kurtz speaking on the subject on the Mike Huckabee radio program, click here. http://jstsay.in/0006MD

Should the White House control what your kids learn?

   By

Published September 07, 2012

Adapted from “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay  for the Cities” (Sentinel HC August 2012).

What if President Obama’s most ambitious attempt to transform American  society was also his quietest plan? You wouldn’t vote against the president on  account of a program you’d never heard about, of course. That, I’d wager, is why  President Obama has told the American public next-to-nothing about his plans to  undercut the political and financial independence of America’s suburban school  districts.

Obama is quietly busy making an end-run around our constitutional system,  which forbids federal control of what your children learn in school. Step one,  already well under way, is a dumbed-down national curriculum designed to  artificially suppress achievement gaps between urban and suburban students. The  right way to help poorly performing students is not to gut standards but to  raise achievement, yet Obama is committed to defining performance down.   That’s why the president’s ultimate goal is to erase the differences  between local school districts with a massive redistribution of suburban  education spending to the cities.

The 2008 controversy over Obama’s years of education work with that famously  unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers has faded from view. For a  moment, it seemed as though Ayers’ radical education legacy would carry forward  into Obama’s presidency. That’s because Linda Darling-Hammond, Ayers’ favorite  education expert and head of Obama’s education transition team, was on a fast  track to appointment as secretary of education until her leftism alienated even  many Democrats.

  (LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND)

When Arne Duncan, who ostensibly backs demanding standards and tests, became  education secretary instead, it looked as though Obama had tacked center. He  hadn’t, and appearances to the contrary, neither had Darling-Hammond left the  scene.

  (BILL AYERS)

The core of the hard-left’s education agenda – a program shared by Obama,  Ayers, and Darling-Hammond alike – has three parts: 1) a politicized curriculum  that promotes leftist notions of “social justice,” 2) reducing “disparate  outcomes” between students in different districts by undercutting standards, and  3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban  schools. Achieving these goals… requires the federal government  to usurp local control of K-12 schooling.

  (ARNE DUNCAN)

Obama is half-way there.

How did he do it?  Instead of submitting his controversial education  proposals to Congress and kicking off a vigorous national debate, Obama quietly  marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top  education initiative. Since the stimulus bill was rushed through Congress with  barely any debate on economic policy, much less education, Obama never had to go  public with his plans.
By coordinating with outside groups not  accountable to the voters, like the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, the White  House then orchestrated the creation of a national Common Core of education  standards, with an accompanying curriculum and tests.

Supposedly, these standards have been voluntarily adopted by more than 40  states. In fact, by effectively conditioning eligibility for Race to the Top  grants on participation in the Common Core, the Obama administration has forced  economically pinched states to surrender control of their school curricula to  the federal government. Cleverly, states have been pressed to sign on to the  Common Core before the actual standards, curricula, and tests are revealed in a  second Obama term. The entire scheme is arguably both illegal and  unconstitutional. Yet it is moving forward, and the public knows virtually  nothing about it.
A few conservatives have been fooled by the seemingly  traditionalist call for national “standards.”  Yet most conservative  education experts understand that the new national standards will be low, not  high. With so many pressing economic issues on the table, however, nobody’s  listening. Too bad, because the ultimate outcome of Obama’s education scheme  will actually be economic: a sweeping redistribution of suburban education  funding to the cities.
    Far from having departing the scene, Obama’s  former adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond, is at the center of this plan. She works  with the Smarter-Balanced Assessment Consortium, selected by the administration  to create the testing system for the new Common Core. Darling-Hammond has gone  out of her way to downplay her role with the Smarter-Balanced Consortium, but  the group’s own publications make it clear that she is effectively running the  show. So, although Darling-Hammond is the top national opponent of standardized  tests, she is now effectively in charge of designing a new K-12 testing system  for much of the nation. The result will be politically correct questions, and  standards that aren’t really standards at all.
That’s only part one of  the plan.  President Obama’s Department of Education has established an  Equity and Excellence Commission, charged with finding “ways to restructure  school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational  resources and further student achievement and attainment.” Conveniently, the  commission’s recommendations will emerge only during a possible second Obama  term. Darling-Hammond is a member of that commission, and if past experience is  a guide will have outsize influence on its recommendations.
Darling-Hammond has already made her intentions clear. She is pushing a plan to  add common “resource standards” to the new Common Core’s curricular standards.  That is, Darling-Hammond hopes to condition federal education aid on the  equalization of school funding across municipal lines. She has also proposed  allowing students to transfer across school district lines, with transportation  provided at government expense.
    The target here is the suburbs.   Obama and Darling-Hammond are both longtime supporters of the little-known “regional equity” movement, which aims to undercut the political independence of  America’s suburbs so as to redistribute suburban wealth to the cities.   Obama is too sharp politically to advertise this part of his program, yet  he is aggressively pressing it forward.
The right to educate your  children as you see fit has traditionally stood at the very center of the  American vision of self-government and personal liberty…  Agree or disagree, shouldn’t President Obama clearly explain his ambitious  redistributive plans for K-12 education – and America’s suburbs – so that they  can be discussed and debated during this epochal national election?

http://www.foxnews.comhttp://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/07/should-white-house-control-what-your-kids-learn-in-school

Anissa Wardell and Tami Pyfer’s Email Exchange   1 comment

  A Heber citizen, Anissa Wardell, contacted the Utah State School board to ask whether Utah can still get out of Common Core (and write our own standards, using University input, an option also known as ESEA option #2) –after the waiver deadline of September 6, 2012.

  Rather than answering the question, state school board member Tami Pyfer told her constituent that there was no chance our state would get out of Common Core and then proceeded say that evidence proving that Common Core  was free of federal strings had “been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times.”  This is simply not true.

1.  Most people don’t even know what the term Common Core even means, according to a recent poll by Achieve, Inc.  (Do you?  Does your neighbor?  Do your teachers know– other than knowing there are different standards this year– do they know that the standards are under copyright, can’t be amended, dumb down college readiness to a lowest common denominator that matches vocational/tech schools, and they were never validated by the only math professor and were also rejected by the English professor on the official Common Core validation committee?  Nobody knows these things.  Why? Because the Dept. of Education doesn’t want them to know.  They think that if they say “these standards are good” often enough, they’ll be good.)

2. The one and only public forum put on by the USOE about Common Core was held two years after the state school board signed us up for Common Core.  That forum was at the Granite School District last spring.  The first 45 minute speech, praising Common Core (without any documentation or evidence) was given by the USOE, followed by 2 minute testimonials from impassioned parents and teachers and politicians from both sides of the issue:  hardly fair or thorough or timely.  And nope, evidence was not shared there, to prove federal strings were not attached.  (Incidentally, Professor David Wiley told this exact same lie, just as publically, when he was debating FERPA regulatory changes done illegally by the Dept. of Education this year.)  The bypassing of the public and of legislators in pushing Common Core on us all, is something the proponents of Common Core are willing to lie about. Or do they really not understand?  Have they really not seen the documentation of lost autonomy?

3.  The statement:  “Common Core is federal strings-free” is not true.  The Department of Education is micromanaging the common tests, the testing consortia, and forcing consortia to synchronize their efforts and give the Dept of Education access to data collected thereby.  Evidence:  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf   Even if we get out of the SBAC, which we might, tomorrow, if the school board votes that way, we are still federally controlled by Common Core.  Look at this definitions page from the Dept. of Education’s website: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions .  It says:   “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.”  So you either have to do common core, or write your own university approved standards.  But the deadline is ending Sept. 6th, so perhaps after that, the only option will be common core.  Wish I livd in Virginia or Texas right now.  They are the only states with educational freedom.  And Utah not only doesn’t have educational freedom anymore, but we collectively don’t even seem to realize it’s gone.

And the Dept. of Education has mandated in the waiver, in the original RTTT application which our Governor and board signed, and in the assessments RTTT that Washington state, our contracted fiscal agent, signed us up for and which we are responsible to obey as long as we are in the SBAC, that we can’t take anything away–nothing– and we can not add anything beyond 15% to the national standards.  How can anyone call this federally string free?  How?  It is an absolute falsehood.

With that introduction, here are the emails:

Dear Governor & Board,

It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core  so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?

Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.

Thanks!

Anissa Wardell

Tami Pyfer [mailto:tami.pyfer@usu.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:26 PM

Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.

Tami Pyfer

Tami,

If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.

While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.

Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.

Thank you,

Anissa

From: Tami Pyfer [mailto:tami.pyfer@usu.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 5:53 PM

I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.

Tami Pyfer

Tami,

Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.

It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.

Anissa

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