Archive for the ‘education’ Tag
Today, right now, the unmaking of history is happening at the Utah State Capitol. I just found out now, via email.
Listen at this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&event_id=83651
So the Utah Legislature’s education committee is meeting now, listening to (among other things) the Utah State Office of Education’s reasoning for adopting the David Coleman-pushed, awful, transformed U.S. History standards for A.P. History. These standards have come under extreme criticism for promoting a negative view of American accomplishments. They deleted the necessity for teachers to even mention –at all– Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Martin Luther King, the Gettysburg Address, Hitler, and much, much more that is crucial to understanding American history. The noble portions of history and vital facts simply won’t be on the test.
It seems truly too bad to be true.
I wish some mom, grandpa, teacher, or professor were there, testifying, as this Texas mother did, that the state must absolutely fight, not adopt, these new history standards!
I wish that Sydnee Dickson, Diana Suddreth, and Robert Austin ( USOE officials responsible for promoting the new history standards) were elected officials –so that we could vote them out. But they are plain state employees, so they stay in, reel in fat taxpayer funded salaries, and they are unstopped by the legislators, parents or administrators who have the power to stop them –if enough would just stand up.
So much is happening, so fast, to transform and deform our educational system now that it feels impossible to keep up with or try to rein in.
We have to try. We have to educate and activate the necessary numbers of citizens to push our elected representatives to say no.
Please write to your representatives and school boards. Let them know that you oppose the transformed AP U.S. History Standards for our schools.
Here is the link to find your Representative: http://www.le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp
Here is the link to find your Senator: http://www.utahsenate.org/#
USA Today published an opinion editorial– today– by Jane Robbins of American Principles Project on this subject. I’m reposting:
AP EXAM ERASES U.S. EXCEPTIONALISM
Defenses of the College Board’s revised Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Curriculum Framework have ranged from “it’s a balanced document” to “teachers will have flexibility” to “what’s wrong with a leftist slant?” None of these defenses should be acceptable.
To the “balanced document” argument, we say: Read it. A Pioneer Institute study by experts, including renowned Madisonian scholar Ralph Ketcham, describes the framework as “a portrait of America as a dystopian society — one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism and injustice.”
The origins of the framework have been traced to the philosophy that the U. S. is only one nation among many, and not a particularly admirable one at that. Every trace of American exceptionalism has been scrubbed; seminal documents such as the Gettysburg Address have vanished.
What about teachers’ flexibility? Will APUSH teachers still teach the vital content in their state history standards? Although the College Board (under duress) is erasing its warning that none of this state material will be tested, the practical reality remains that teachers won’t waste time on it.
The exam’s structure will encourage students and teachers to stick to the leftist framework. We’ll have a national history curriculum rather than state flexibility and control.
The College Board’s recent release of the previously secret sample exam confirms this conclusion. All sample questions are anchored firmly in the framework, even the pejorative language used to describe President Reagan. The sample exam makes it clear that if teachers want their students to score well on the APUSH exam, they will teach the framework.
So we’re left with the argument that the APUSH course rightly veers off into progressive territory (diminishing content knowledge in favor of “historical skills” and “themes” and embracing identity politics) because accurate history is disfavored in some university programs. If so, parents will want their children to avoid APUSH. The unelected College Board may decide to impose revisionist history, but its customers need not buy it.
Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group.
Below is the full text of the resolution that Utah County Republicans voted to pass, in opposition to Common Core this week.
It will be interesting to see what Governor Herbert does with the mounting evidence that Utahns oppose Common Core. Despite publically taking a second look at the academics, he has not taken any steps to get a second look at state and federal data mining done in Utah, nor has he taken a second look at the actual governance structure of Common Core which seems far, far more important than the academic snapshot. The governor’s still moving full steam on with the Common Core-promoting Prosperity 2020 and SLDS systems in this state, and has not resigned from his Common Core-promoting role in the National Governors Association (that unelected, private trade group which created and copyrighted the Common Core.)
Governor, is it time to start listening more closely to voters?
Utah County Republican Resolution
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), adopted as part of the “Utah
Core,” is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of nationally-based standards and tests
developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and
unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core binds us to an established copyright over standards, limiting our ability to
create or improve education standards that we deem best for our own children; and,
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits federal authority over curriculum and
testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-
building and data collection is federally managed; and,
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural
(i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and
WHEREAS, Common Core promotes the storage and sharing of private student and family data without
consent; using a pre-school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State
Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating substantial opportunities for invasion of privacy; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core intrudes on the constitutional authority of the states over education by
pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’, and if not adopted, penalties include loss of funds and, just as Oklahoma experienced a loss of
their ESEA waiver; and
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee and Utah State Republican Convention recently passed a
resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw
from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, the
Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other similar alliance, and;
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor
and the State legislature requesting executive and legislative action.
I wrote this essay for the Libertas Institute essay contest. If you like it, please click on “like” at the Libertas link before August 22nd 2014, and share it so that I have a shot at the prize for the most “like”s. Thank you. Also, thanks to Libertas for asking Utah citizens to think and write about this important subject.
Queen Esther of the Bible modeled the proper role of civil disobedience when she chose to break the law to free her people from the sentence of death. She did not shrink from personal consequences that her act of agency would bring. She said, “I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
Esther illustrated the justification for civil disobedience: we break a law only when lawful appeals cannot overcome threats to life, liberty, property, or free exercise of conscience; when it’s the only honorable course. Esther’s selfless act contrasts with the self-indulgence of others who break laws without being willing to shoulder the consequences.
Martin Luther King wrote about that willingness: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
Thoreau explained that governments were only able to commit wrongdoings, to “crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels,” because individuals upheld bad governments by their failure to exercise agency, who “serve the state…as machines.” He pressed every individual not to “resign his conscience” to a government, and asked, “Why has every man a conscience then?”
Utah’s predominant religion teaches “We believe… in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law” (Article of Faith 12) and warns: “sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected ” (D&C 134). But further study of D&C 134 reveals that “thus protected” means “protected in their inherent and inalienable rights” –defined as “free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” “Thus protected” is key: we honor government as long as we are protected in our inalienable rights. When laws fail to protect, when foul oppressions are enacted, people of conscience recognize the duty –of lawful pushback when possible, and of civil disobedience when regular appeals fail.
Pondering heroic acts of civil disobedience helps to clarify the difference between noble and ignoble disobedience.
1. 150 B.C. – Abinadi of the Book of Mormon defied the rule against freedom of speech and willingly faced the consequence of death by fire. 2. 1500′s – English protestants by the hundreds were burned at the stake or beheaded for breaking the law in refusing to follow the state religion under Queen Mary I (“Bloody Mary”). 3. 1776 – Many signers of the Declaration of Independence were punished or killed for signing, which was an act of civil disobedience under British law. 4. 1850′s – Harriet Tubman traveled between Northern and Southern states, illegally freeing 300 slaves. 5. 1940′s – Sweden’s diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, jumped on top of trainloads of Jews on their way to death camps; ignoring governing protocol and soldiers’ warning bullets, Wallenberg gave out illegal passports and ordered captives to exit the trains. He saved thousands and then lost his own life in a Russian prison. 6. 1940′s – Holland’s Caspar Ten Boom illegally hid Jews during World War II. He responded to those who criticized him: “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.” 7. 1950′s – Rosa Parks was arrested for breaking segregation laws by deliberately sitting “illegally” on a bus. 8. 1989 – China’s “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square deliberately walked straight into communist tanks aimed to quell all freedom-seeking demonstrators. He was seized; it’s unknown whether he was executed. 9. 1990′s – Mongolia’s Oyun Altangarel, a state librarian, was fired for seeking freedom of religion and speech, but her organization’s hunger strike moved her country toward freedom.
Oppression is not only found in distant times and countries. It’s happening under our noses in 2014 in Utah –as are corresponding heroes of civil disobedience. Consider three stories.
1. In 2013, the Salt Lake Tribune published teacher Ann Florence’s op-ed, in which Florence wrote about “an avalanche” of counter-productive mandates which did not benefit students and did cause teacher demoralization. She lamented standardized tests and Common Core. She wrote, “We are tired of the threats and disrespect… tired of having our dedication reduced to a number. Educating children is… a life’s work that deserves the highest honor.”
In 2014, when Florence openly criticized computer-adapted standardized tests as “a waste of time and irrelevant,” refused to grade them, and spoke out to news media, the honors English teacher was fired by Granite School District for “a pattern of noncompliance”.
Florence told ABC4 news, “I am challenged constantly to teach my students to consider their own opinions, to examine their opinions …but when I try to employ critical thinking as a teacher and I have the support of hundreds of other teachers, I’m silenced and I’m fired.”
2. When Stuart Harper, St. George High School Physics Teacher, spoke out against the Common Core “reform,” he was threatened with job loss. Harper had stated that he didn’t like Common Core being “pushed upon us [teachers],” nor could he tolerate the “lack of control we have over its content.” He criticized the “awful quality of its math core,” an “over-emphasis on testing,” “burdens on schools for curriculum changes and data collection” and said that “its focus drives schools deeper into the political realm and further from real education.”
The district told Harper he’d created rebellion and insubordination. They insisted that he accept their claims about Common Core– as if seeking verification was not scientific; as if truth cannot hold up under scrutiny; as if freedom of thought equals insubordination; as if debate equals unethical conduct.
Harper reasoned with officials, saying, “my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told, ‘Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply’ … I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign…”
Harper would not be silenced, though he knew that the system “expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions… and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. ” In his resignation letter, he wrote, “Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas…” He revealed that the system hurts not only teachers’ freedom of conscience but also students’ freedom of conscience: it “no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think.”
Harper was pressured to resign and did resign– not just over academically inferior standards, but over “an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech.”
3. When Utah high school student Hannah Smith (not her real name) saw, during the state’s Common Core (SAGE) test, that an objectionable test question should be viewed by parents, she captured screen shots of the question with her cell phone. She sent them to her mother, and they were shared, published and viewed nationally.
Smith was threatened by administrators with possible loss of graduation and was told that she was a cheater. The teacher who had been in the room was also threatened with professional action. State education leader Judy Park was quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune, threatening, “Any licensed educator that has been involved, I will report to UPPAC (Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission of the state Board of Education), because they have now violated the obligation to follow ethics.” Park added, “[A]ll this concern about Common Core and SAGE has led us to the point that parents are encouraging students to break the law.”
Utah’s government uses multiple methods to stifle debate and freedom of thought in education. Utah teachers and school staff report (anonymously) that they must conform to education and data reforms without discussion. They’re told that they may not inform parents nor students of legal rights to opt out of SAGE testing, nor speak out against the Common Core without punishment for insubordination.
Key to the coffle is the state school board’s selection procedure, which narrows the candidate pool before voters get a chance to vote. The selection procedure starts with a survey that asks whether candidates support Utah Core/Common Core. It is further narrowed by insider committees and narrowed again by the governor to two pre-selected candidates. From these, voters may choose one. A rejected candidate recently sued the governor, calling this selection procedure “viewpoint discrimination.”
Why must we reclaim the sacred freedom to disagree and debate? Benjamin Franklin explained: “Grievances cannot be redressed unless they are known; and they cannot be known but through complaints and petitions. if these are deemed affronts, and the messengers punished as offenders, who will henceforth send petitions?”
Speaking against inappropriate education reforms now ranks as civil disobedience for Utah educators. Utah parents who opt children out of SAGE tests are sometimes chided by school administrators as “unsupportive” of schools despite the law upholding the parental right to opt out of the tests.
Utah’s predominant religion says that we “do not believe that human law has a right to…… bind the consciences of men” (D & C 134). It states that the “magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” The chapter teaches “that the commission of crime should be punished… all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment” (D&C 134). I think Thoreau would agree: he called government’s harm to conscience a “sort of bloodshed” and said, “through this wound a man’s real manhood” flows out. He wrote: “we should be men first, and subjects afterward.”
Although Utahans are witnessing the lack of freedom being put into place by the Common Core tests and Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) –most fail to step forward.
In part this may be because there is controversy over whether new standards harm or help, but it’s unarguable that the oppressive nature of implementation harms free exercise of parent/teacher conscience and that the tests and data collection systems make students unwitting guinea pigs of D.C.’s experiment. These things should matter; even those who believe Common Core’s claim to improve education may recall that the Declaration of Independence speaks of “consent by the governed” which Common Core can’t claim since it wasn’t vetted by teachers, parents or taxpayers prior to adoption.
Fact: Utah’s government oppresses exercise of conscience by threatening job loss to educators who exercise it. Teachers governed thus are not protected in their inalienable rights. Fact: because the government creates no allowance for parents to opt children out of its federal-state database tracking system (State Longitudinal Database System) it also violates parental “right and control of property”–privacy being personal property. Fact: for at least two years the state school board (collectively) has rejected every plea for relief from parents and teachers on this matter, and the legislature has not succeeded in righting the wrong.
The choice then has become to behave as silent property, as governed as cooped chickens, or to rise to the scary, defining moment of Common Core. Stand-up actions (parents opting students out of testing, administrators claiming the right to say no) may result in ridicule or job loss but may be the only way we can defend the Constitutional right to local control of education, the only way to do the right thing.
Consider Thoreau’s words: “under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”
For the sake of our American liberties and for the sake of our children, it is time for those who share the spirit of Queen Esther to echo her example: “I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
Yesterday, Utah’s Stop Common Core folks followed the example of Oklahoma and Maine, wearing grass-green T-shirts for a protest held in Salt Lake City outside the offices of the Utah State School Board.
Trucks honked, kids danced, families waved signs. Honestly, it was fun. A teenage protester (who was dancing with his “My Education is Not Your Experiment” sign) said he thought we were “pretty amateur protesters”. We are! Next time, we need soap boxes, megaphones for the cheerleaders, and a lot more people.
Two thousand people had signed the letter asking the board not to renew the federal waiver, in just 24 hours. But they didn’t all show up in person at the protest. Neither did the almost 12,000 people who have signed the Utahns Against Common Core petition.
Still, so many green shirts packed the public meeting of the board after the protest that two hallways outside the meeting were filled with green shirts, as well as the whole board room being filled and encircled by standing green shirts who could not find seats. The testimonies were incredible. Anyone without an already hardened heart would have been moved. I wish I could give you a link to hear what was spoken.
The vote didn’t go our way. The board signed the federal waiver that further cemented Utah to Common Core and continued the illusion (a bluff by the federal Dept. of Ed) that there is any authority for D.C. to tell Utah what to do in our schools.
Continuing Utah’s relationship with the federal waiver means that we are two steps away from removing Common Core, rather than just one. (This is because in order to get the federal waiver, Utah had to promise to do option A (common core) or option B (the also-unacceptable, unconstitutional delegation of state board authority to higher ed authorities).
A few board members had tried to sway the vote: Jeff Moss and Heather Groom, and possibly one or two others. We appreciate their efforts. But except for adding some language that affirmed the board’s wish to be sovereign over Utah’s standards, the waiver application got signed and sent to D.C. without hearing the parents and teachers who pleaded and testified against this move.
If you still don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong on this issue, consider the motivations and rewards of those who are asking for renewal of the federal waiver and Common Core, verus those who are asking for cessation of the federal waiver and Common Core. It’s pretty revealing to note that the letter to the board from Utah’s Chamber of Commerce members, favoring federal waiver renewal, was authored by Rich Kendall (the governor’s appointee to supposedly study whether Common Core is good or not) –who is a Gates grant recipient as an Education First member, and who is also a Common Core advocate as a Prosperity 2020 leading member. Remember that Gates is THE main financier of the whole Common Core and Common Data agenda. How can Rich Kendall be both an advocate for, and an impartial judge of Common Core? How can business people, directly making money from the implementation of Common Core, pretend to be objective in this discussion? How can the state school board take these people as credible witnesses?
There’s always the chance that D.C. will reject Utah’s waiver application as it did Washington’s. Then we’ll only be one step away from the possible removal of Common Core.
More articles, videos and photos of yesterday’s protest and the school board’s vote:
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58276195-78/utah-waiver-board-state.html.csp
FOX NEWS – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/08/common-core-under-fire-at-utah-state-board-of-education-meeting/
DESERET NEWS – http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865608431/State-School-Board-approves-extension-of-NCLB-waiver.html
If you have not already done so, please sign the petition letter that’s going to the State Board of Education. Link here.
Tomorrow’s state school board meeting is a big deal. Please be there and bring people. Wear a grass green shirt to show opposition to the federal ESEA/NCLB waiver and to Common Core.
At 9:00 a.m., this peaceful outdoor protest by the offices of education will feature YOU and YOUR friends and family, with your signs, taking a stand.
We will take a stand against the stripping away of local control of our schools, the guinea pig-like academic experimentation on our children, and against the replacement of classic, time-tested education with the Common Core snake oil that nobody was consulted about, prior to being billed for. We will stand against the unconstitutional power grab of the Department of Education and claim the right as parents and as citizens to reclaim local control. We are calling the bluff of the Department of Education, which pretends to authority that it does not hold.
If you have not already done so, please sign the petition letter that’s going to the State Board of Education. Link here.
Another letter and petition has already gone to the State School Board from members of the Utah Chamber of Commerce and others. It says the opposite message. Understand: the national and state Chambers of Commerce have put huge pressure on the state school boards to continue with the ESEA/NCLB waivers for one simple reason: money.
In their letter, signed by many Utah business people and local school board members, the governor’s appointee to review Common Core wrote that “as a key stakeholder, surely the perspectives and support of the business community are an important plan of any successful plan for improving education in the state.” Translation: “because we’ve invested money in the Common Core-based technologies and are making a mint off this experiment, and because we work for organizations heavily funded by Common Core financier Bill Gates, we want and claim a stake in your child’s education.”
Our letter, which was written yesterday, has already been signed by hundreds and hundreds of people. It says this (highlights):
To the Members of the Utah state Board of Education:
… To receive a waiver from NCLB, Utah agreed to option A, which required Utah to show proof that we had adopted Common Core. In other words, the state was coerced into agreeing to a reform package that exerts a far greater control over our state education system than NCLB.
The waiver should not be renewed… The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no opportunity to be involved in Utah education. By renewing the waiver, Utah will be obligated to continue with their Common Core commitment to the federal government, which is a violation of both federal and state Constitutions.
…Utah law states that we can and shall be flexible with our funding to utilize it to meet state goals and objectives over federal goals and objectives.
Concerns that there may be a reduction in federal funds affecting Title I schools should not stop the board from doing the right thing.
It will be the responsibility of the legislature and the Governor to make sure that Title I schools have necessary funding.
Please do not sign the waiver.
Please ask friends to sign our letter to the board. Then come to tomorrow’s open board meeting and to the protest. If you are unable to come, write to the state and local boards of education.
Renee Braddy, a Utah mother and a former elementary school teacher, has given permission to post this letter which she sent to the Utah Educator’s Association office.
As of this posting, she has still not heard back from the UEA.
Thank you, Renee.
To Whom it Concerns:
I am writing to you first and foremost as a parent and second as a former public school teacher in Utah. I faithfully belonged to and supported the UEA the entire time I taught.. Today, I was sent an email from a friend. [Read it here.] The letter was from the UEA and it was a request for its members to voice their support for the Common Core because of concerns being voiced by a “small vocal minority”.
I would likely fit into that category. It seems this emailwas an attempt to label, marginalize, and thus dismiss those who have voiced concerns or opposition. I feel that my concerns, both as a parent and educator, are valid and are based on legal documents and lengthy research. I am writing in hopes of working together.
My experience has been that the large majority of citizens (including parents, teachers and administrators) are unaware of the big picture that comes with the adoption of the Common Core agenda. It is so much more than a set of standards. So, I would say that my experience has been that a large majority are silent on their like or dislike for Common Core. Silence is not acceptance; it is most likely ignorance.
I believe that as American citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to voice our opinions and to have questions answered and concerns addressed. Unfortunately, this opportunity never happened with Utah’s adoption of common core. Due process didn’t occur and the parents and teachers feel like a trust was violated.
I believe that Utah has some of the finest educators in the nation and my hope is to return educational decisions to the hands of parents, teachers and local administrators. I don’t think the shift began with Common Core, but it is the current reform and parents and teachers aren’t happy now. The issues need to be addressed, not dismissed.
Teachers have been told that “it will not bode well professionally to speak against Common Core.” They have told me that they have been sent a clear message that they should not talk about their concerns –and definitely not while at school. Local school board members are also being told to not speak out, and that they need to support the state board.
I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns and attempt to work together for a solution that is right for our state.
Please let me know when is most convenient.
While we wait patiently together to see if the UEA has the inclination to respond to Renee, I have a few thoughts. I happen to be waiting patiently, too, for a response to my letter to Governor Herbert (see below). But visiting or writing letters to any member of the education establishment results in either: a) silence or: b) a ridiculous pat on the head. Anyone who’s tried, knows.
This happens over and over and over– not only at the Utah state level, but also at the local school board level, and at the federal (unconstitutional) Department of Education level.
It does not stop us from writing, calling, and going to as many of their meetings as we can stomach.
I believe in the squeaky wheel theory, and I believe in Jesus’ parable about the woman and the unrighteous judge from Luke 18. If everyone who wanted Common Core to go away would call, write, and pray repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasingly– Common Core could not stand. No legs.
Why not? Because Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing networks and lies– to stand on. It has countless millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
And that is the simple, incredible truth. No legs.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no actual international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no wisdom, no love for classical education, no state-led history, no hope of developing a real love of learning; no common sense.
Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18
: There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
There are people at the State Office of Education and at the State School Board who likewise “fear not God, nor regard man” yet because we trouble them, they may choose to “avenge” our cause, since by our “continual coming” we weary them. And weary them we must because as a state, we are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence.
Spiral of silence is the name of a well-studied communications theory by Dr. Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a phenomenon which happens when people fear separation or isolation (or job loss or even death) but perceiving or believing that they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
Spiral of Silence theory arose as an explanation for why so many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. Parents, teachers and legislators who do not know enough about Common Core and the Common Data Standards, and who are told to “support” them, do not feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. The pressure is even more intense for state school board members and the UEA, which explains, in part, the repeated official stonewalling that we experience and the relatively low number of teachers and education officials who fight against the whole suffocating Common Core and Common Data Standards agenda.
But I will admit that I laughed out loud when I saw the “official” silencing response sent to me by a clerk from the governor’s office, in response to my letter last week to our governor. I would have received the same email had I sent the governor my favorite potato salad recipe.
Following my letter to the governor
, I received this from email@example.com
July 9, 2014
Thank you for your email to the Office of the Governor regarding Education (Common Core). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Governor.
Our office appreciates hearing from constituents and your comments and opinion regarding this issue have been noted.
Thank you for taking time to contact us regarding this matter.
I wrote back.
That was not a response to my letter. Please contact your supervisor.. I feel that an honest and important letter deserves and honest and important response.
Constituent services wrote back:
Thank you for your follow up email. I regret that my response was not satisfactory. We receive hundreds of email, letters, and calls daily and aim to make sure every constituent gets confirmation that their correspondence was received and that their opinion is taken under consideration.
Common Core is a very important issue and the Governor is paying close attention to the feedback, opinions, and concerns he is receiving from constituents all over the state. Having said that, our office is appreciative of the initiative you took to thoughtfully email us with your experience related to Common Core and your concerns for the Common Education Data Standards.
I wrote back.
While I appreciate the fact that you are responding, I still request a substantive response from someone at the Governors’ office. Noting that the Governor “is paying close attention” is not a response to the issues I raised but merely an acknowledgement that I wrote at all.
Please, forward my email, and the other emails you have been receiving, to those in office who are responsible to the people for these decisions. Perhaps the lieutenant governor has more time to answer specifics than the governor?
Constituents deserve real answers, not pats on the head and thank yous for simply writing at all.
I am patiently waiting to see if anyone at the Governor’s office or anyone who I copied the letter to at the office of education has the time to respond with substance.
Meanwhile, I sent a form of the same letter to the Daily Herald
. My state school board representative, Dixie Allen, decided to respond. Dixie Allen’s response at the Daily Herald
did not address my concerns although it was long. It said that she was one those responsible for bringing Common Core to Utah, and she defended that decision. I remain unanswered, by deafening silence by both the Governor’s office and my state school board representative, on these issues:
- 1) Why are parents denied the right to opt children out of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which tracks them almost for their entire lives without parental consent?
- 2) Why has there been no freedom of conscience, no open debate among educators when it comes to Common Core?
- 3) How can we maintain the reins of local control of education when we are attached like siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control Common Core?
- 4) Why doesn’t Utah have her own standards, instead of copyrighted standards coming out of unelected D.C. groups?
- 5) Why has Utah agreed to Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) which align our private data with federal data standards?
- 6) Why doesn’t Utah look to the example of South Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s governors, who have decried the Common Education Agenda, and get Utah out of it, as those states have so wisely, so importantly, done?
Please make some time and join me and other teachers and parents this Thursday in Salt Lake City as we simply show up to show that we are aware of what is going on in education today. We will attend the open state school board meeting. Some of us will speak at the 2 minute public comment segment. Most of us won’t say a word. Please, just show up. That day, they are to decide whether or not to renew the federal NCLB waiver which Utah received in part as a reward for agreeing to do Common Core instead of NCLB.
If you can’t be there, please DO SOMETHING ELSE. There is so much we can do. Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can write or call the board, the newspapers and t.v. stations. We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number). We can politely and persistently pester the principals and state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not
Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber of Pearson Ed. (If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things any month, at the monthly state school board meeting
, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov)
These are watershed moments for education in our State.
If you’ve signed the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com you received the following update today. If not, here you go.
Common Core Alerts
1. Attend the Utah State Board of Education meetings Thursday, July 17 from – 4:00 PM to 5:45 PM and Friday, August 8 (please save the date) at Utah State Office of Education, Board Room/Conference Rooms, 250 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. We plan to PACK THE HOUSE.
The state school board will consider “a decision on whether to apply for an extension to its waiver under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)” to be voted on at the August Board meeting (http://schoolboard.utah.gov/news/board-considers-not-applying-for-an-extension-on-utahs-esea-waiver). We hope that they DO NOT renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind. By not renewing the waiver, Utah can send a clear message that we are in charge of our education and would take us one step closer to cutting the many federal ties that are preventing true local control over education. We will not be the first state to make this vital stand. Read more here.
Our strong presence is vital to voice our support so that the board to vote in our favor. This is a critical vote. Please attend; bring your children; we need to fill the room. (This is their work meeting but with brief public input, so we need to be respectful. Signs are welcome to use in the hallways or outside.)
2. Call and write, before the July 17th meeting, to Governor Herbert, the State School Board, USOE representatives and send copies to your legislators, newspapers, and local school boards, asking them NOT to renew the ESEA waiver, to get us out of Common Core, and to return full control of education to Utah.
Governor – http://governor..utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html State Board – email@example.com Your Board Member – http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2
Find other officials here – http://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/index
3. WE WILL NOT CONFORM – GLENN BECK EVENT
JULY 22nd we hope to see you as we pack all the available movie theaters throughout our state (and nationwide) for Glenn Beck’s event: “We Will Not Conform: A night to make Common Core history”. It’s in 700 movie theaters! Several Utah parents will be attending the event live in Texas as well. An updated theater list can be found here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/we-will-not-conform-live/more-info/theater-locations
4. Parent Groups and Candidates Organized to Stop Common Core:
We have updated the local parent group listings for those organizing in their areas.
There is a large SLC group until smaller groups form from it. Here’s an announcement from them.
Salt Lake County Committees – To Organize, Plan, Educate, and Act! Salt Lake County Committees will meet each fourth Thursday, except when it is a Holiday – like July 24. In which case we will meet on the third Wednesday (to help other attend that might not be able to). So we will meet July 16th 7 PM, at 7679 South Main St. (700 West), Midvale, a nicer and more central location. All are needed at these education and organization meetings (but attendance is more vital at State Board meeting on the 17th). Come one, come all and join your efforts to making Utah Education the best. The building is Utah Addition Centers – but is unmarked so look for signs, to enter, on the front and rear doors. Parking is in the rear. Contact Wendell W. Ashby firstname.lastname@example.org, and Administrative Support – Michelle Rodgers email@example.com
If you live in –or know people who live in– Rich County, please contact Bryce Huefner (435-757-0967, firstname.lastname@example.org) to help with his campaign.