Archive for the ‘Education Without Representation’ Tag
Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.
I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!
Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.
I do not use the word “evil” casually.
Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed
New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call
New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep
Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams
North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests
New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators
Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog
How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows
FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams
See Why and How Performance Assessment Works
Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System
Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests
North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests
Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers
Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses
Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly
Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing
Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills
Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)
“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders email@example.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which 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 .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS’ DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)
Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
Yesterday the Huffington Post published “A Brief Audit of Bill Gates’ Common Core Spending.” I learned from this article.
I already knew that Bill Gates spends billions implementing his personal version of education reforms –without any approval from American voters, without any authority other than his cash.
I already knew that Gates had singlehandedly paid for the development, creation and marketing of Common Core, which the Post noted, “demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions.” (The only part of Common Core that the federal government funds is common testing and interoperable longitudinal database set-up.)
I already knew that those promoting CCSS are deliberately misleading the public to believe that Common Core is ‘state-led’ when it is in fact “Gates-led.”
I already knew that with the help of Gates’ funding and connections, “strong state-federal partnerships” were colluding to accomplish the actually illegal goal of creating national education standards.
But I didn’t know, before reading the article, the extent to which Gates was involved in Common Core’s twin sister, the personal student data collection racket.
The article pointed out:
Gates gave $47.1 million to CCSSO …with the largest amount focused on data “access” and “data driven decisions“:
… Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for CSSS implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control:
… [Gates’ stated] Purpose: to support the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in helping States’ to build their data inoperability capability
… Purpose: to partner with federal, state, public, and private interests to develop common, open, longitudinal data standards Amount: $3,185,750 …” (The list, when you read the whole article, is much longer.)
Also, I did not previously know that the company that Common Core lead creator David Coleman (a noneducator) started in 2007, Student Achievement Partners, has no work other than CCSS. They live and breathe to push Common Core on all of us.
David Coleman first created the SAP company. Then he led the creation of the Common Core standards, on which his company depends to survive. Then, when Coleman moved over to the radically influential position of College Board president, he aligned college entrance exams to his creation, Common Core. He benefits from the whole deal at the expense of legitimate education and local control, as does Bill Gates, who has now partnered with the word’s largest education sales company, Pearson, to create more money-making curriculum for all of us who are trapped under the Common Core.
I am not against people making tons of money. That’s not the issue; American capitalism and entrepreneurship are wonderful inventions.
What I oppose are these unrepresentative, public-private partnerships (often called P3’s). All Americans ought to oppose the circumvention of the American voter by any “philanthropy” that creates new governance structures over previously representative educational systems.
Who is Gates’ constituency? Who elected him? Nobody. And nobody can vote him out –except by not cowering to his grantmaking wand.
As the author of yesterday’s Huffington Post article put it:
“So much Gates cash, and so many hands willing to accept it. Bill Gates likes Common Core. So, he is purchasing it. In doing so, Gates demonstrates (sadly so) that when one has enough money, one can purchase fundamentally democratic institutions… Can Bill Gates buy a foundational democratic institution? Will America allow it? The fate of CCSS will provide crucial answers to those looming questions.”
Read the whole article here.
Common Core Concerns
Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.
The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.
States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.
It is noteworthy that despite claims that only aggregated data is submitted to Edfacts Data Exchange, the CCSSO (state superintendents society that copyrighted Common Core) has a “stated commitment to disaggregation of data” and numerous federal websites do model student data standardization and invite states to use common data sets which makes it easier to share personally identifiable information, including biometric and behavioral data.
The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted Common Core. The 15% rule limits innovation and excellence, being enforced in the common core aligned test systems and by textbook sales companies’ near-monopoly on any thought beyond Common Core. The 15% rule is also echoed in multiple documents from governmental and common core corporate developers.
The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”
The lawsuit against the Department of Education – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the U.S. Department of Education for shredding previously protective federal FERPA law. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.
Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.
The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.
The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”
The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the Department of Education has mandated a synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC and PARCC under the watchful eye of the Department.
The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w
The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s 2020 goal is to control teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.
The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.
The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know Common Core works until all the tests and curriculum align with these standards” and he’s writing curriculum for all. He also speaks of the usefulness of having students be “a uniform customer base.”
The speeches of David Coleman, non-educator, and the lead architect of the Common Core ELA standards who has been promoted to College Board President. He mocks narrative writing, has diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, promotes “informational text” without studying the effect of the reduction of classic literature on students long term, and, although he’s not been elected, yet he’s almost single-handedly reduced the quality and liberty of the high school English teacher’s options. As College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt universities, which now know, for example, that students are not learning Calculus nor much classic literature in high school any more.
Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.
The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.
The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. (CCSS)
The CCSS were rejected by key members of their validation committee, who have published and testified extensively that Common Core is an academic mistake that dramatically weakens high school standards.
American Institutes for Research - AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.
HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.
SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)
Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.
They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.
This is un-American governance.
Stop Common Core
Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013
A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.
In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.
There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.
It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.
One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.
But this is changing dramatically.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.
Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.
Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.
The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.
The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.
COMMON CORE HISTORY:
The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.
Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.
In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions 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…”
So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.
He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.
The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.
We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.
Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.
States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.
We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.
Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis
One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.
While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.
But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.
Gulliver’s Second String:
The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems
The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.
Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.
I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?
The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.
There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?
So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.
The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.
We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.
Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All
The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.
Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.
Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.
I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”
Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.
There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.
So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:
Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing
The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.
There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.
Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.
Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.
Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.
Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:
David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation
The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.
Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.
It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.
Does this differ from actual book burning?
It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )
David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
• No more cursive.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.
Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math
The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.
Gulliver’s Seventh String:
Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights
• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)
Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.
Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy
The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.
But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.
When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html
While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)
In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.
I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”
The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )
Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:
Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.
Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.
We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.
The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.
Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.
Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.
There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.
We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.
Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it. Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.
Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
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Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert 801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov
State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org“
Utah State Superintendent: email@example.com
Assistant Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov
Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035
Stuart C. Reid email@example.com“
Patricia W. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark B. Madsen email@example.com“
Wayne L. Niederhauser firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Osmond – email@example.com
Howard A. Stephenson firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry W. Stevenson – :email@example.com
Stephen H. Urquhart – firstname.lastname@example.org