Archive for the ‘liberty’ Tag

UT Canyons District Teacher: “This is Why Teachers Are Afraid to Speak Out”   9 comments

Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis.  Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:

 

“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS.  Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”

 

Passed: Utah County Republican Resolution Against Common Core   3 comments

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

 utahns against Common Core
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,
 
utahns against Common Core
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,
 
utahns against Common Core
 
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,
 
utahns against Common Core
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
assessments; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
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,
 
utahns against Common Core
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
 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee and Utah State Republican Convention recently passed a
resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
utahns against Common Core
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;
utahns against Common Core
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.

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments


jenni

Jenni  White of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education spoke  last night in Midvale, Utah, to a clapping, cheering, energized crowd that included two  legislators from the Utah House of Representatives, Kay Christofferson and LaVar Christiansen, both of whom stood and spoke after Jenni’s speech to voice their support.

Feisty, hilarious, sassy and smart, Jenni White’s presentation explained that she and her group have been working for many, many years (longer than the majority of us have in Utah) to stop Common Core.  The bills that were written there never got heard, or only made it through one committee hearing, year after year.  It took hard work and dogged persistence to work the miracle that Oklahoma finally saw this year.  Her speech was filmed and will be posted soon.  Here are highlights:

What Oklahoma moms did:

1.  They didn’t just work with one or two legislators.  They emailed all the legislators, every week, with short, vital pieces of information to help educate them about just what the Common Core Initiative has done to schools, to student privacy, to teacher autonomy, to the voice of parents, to the power of local control of education.

2.  They showed up by the hundreds during the legislative session, wearing the green Stop Common Core t-shirts, and made it impossible during rallies for legislators to walk down the halls without swerving around green t-shirted parents and teachers and students.  They would not be ignored or dismissed.

3.  They sent legislative baseball cards, stop common core cookie bouquets, postcards, notes, legislator memos, tweets, emails.

4.  They held a “Hear the Bills!” rally to persuade legislators to at least listen, to at least let this issue have a fair hearing.

5. They did photo ops with Governor Fallin, wearing the green t-shirts, even before she had decided to stand against Common Core.

6. They had meetings statewide, educating the public, asking the public to call their legislators and tell them they wanted Common Core to be repealed and replaced with better standards like Massachusetts had prior to the Common Core-ing of America.

7. They stuck together, not allowing infighting or small disagreements to break apart their coalition of parents, teachers and citizens who wanted Common Core to go away.

Since the Oklahoma miracle, some pro-Core advocates such as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrelli, (a financial beneficiary of Bill Gates, of course) have tried to spin the Oklahoma miracle of repealing Common Core as a disaster, saying that Oklahoma teachers have no idea what to teach right now.

The indomitable Jenni White, rather than shrink under his arrogance and criticism, happily invited Petrelli to Oklahoma for an open debate and discussion on this subject.

Petrelli has accepted, according to his Twitter feed.

Thank you, Oklahoma!  We love you!

green

 

 

Guarding the Minds and Hearts of Our Children: What Utah Parent Whitne Strain Discovered While Taking the SSAT   3 comments

Guarding the Minds and Hearts of Our Children

By Whitne Strain

As parents desiring to find a proper high school education for our 13 year old son, my husband and I have been researching a prep school in Indiana that shares our values of faith, founders and traditional academics.  This school employs the services of the SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) exam as most prep schools do.   To help my son, I voluntarily took the first practice exam which we purchased directly from SSAT.org.

I labored through the reading comprehension portion, shocked and dismayed.  Within the nine essays presented were subjects on racism, an anti-Christian sarcastic dig, environmentalism, class warfare, history revision and collectivism.  Any follower of current affairs recognizes these issues as tools of manipulation used by those of the “progressive” ideology.   Here is one example:

“Approximately 28 percent of all energy used in the United States is devoted to transportation and of that fraction, 40 percent is supplied in the form of gasoline to fuel the nation’s nearly 255 million registered passenger vehicles.  Americans use more energy to fuel their cars than they do for any other single purpose. The fuel used by American automobiles and personal trucks would just about fill all the energy needs of Japan, a nation of over 127 million and the world’s largest consumer of energy after the United States and China.  In an urgent effort to reduce consumption of an increasingly costly fuel whose chief reserves lie overseas, the government has RIGHTLY [emphasis added] identified the American automobile and current habits of its utilization as prime targets for change.”

My first thoughts were, “Do any of the teachers and administration of these schools ever read these tests?   Isn’t it presumptuous on the part of the creators to include politically charged, behaviorally persuasive essays for children in 8th grade?”

This started me on a journey and here is what I found:

The SSAT board consists of 19 participants who mostly come from private schools across the country.  I found that the board chair, Kilian Forgus, is a spokesperson for one of their 2014 annual meeting sponsors, inResonance. On the face of it, I see a financial conflict of interest.

More concerning to me, though, is their keynote speaker, Charles Fadel, Founder and Chairman of CENTER FOR CURRICULUM REDESIGN. On Fadel’s website at www. curriculumredesign.org/about/team/#charles, he is presented as a global education thought leader and expert who was the liaison with UNESCO, the World Bank and Change the Equation (STEM) while the Global Education Lead at Cisco Systems. Of the other six speakers, five had backgrounds in global aspects of culture, trade, demographics, marketing and business .  Progressive ideology uses the word “global” freely as a euphemism for  ”make everyone the same”.  One of the speakers, Amy Wilkinson, recently spoke at a National Governor’s Association meeting, the birthplace of the national institution of Common Core.

Can anyone say CONNECTIONS?  Are these the types of philosophies that influence the design of that test? After three hours of research, I stopped for the night, but I can tell you that I’m not done.

Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking at a conference on February 28, 1966 in St. Louis, Missouri had this to say,

“To take over our schools, the educational system will first have to be federalized and then prostituted entirely to serving the propaganda needs of the state planners with absolutely no regard for truth or scholarship or tradition.”

Is this happening today?  Is the SSAT just one of many means of prostitution and propaganda? Are the SAT and ACT similar? Who is guarding the minds and hearts of our children?

I ask myself whether it’s worth fighting.  The machine is so big.  I’m just one mom.  But I’ve decided to adopt this statement from Secretary Benson’s  same speech: “We must be neither fatalists nor pessimists.  We must be realists, of high character and deep spirituality.”

If enough of us see this, we can stop it.

 

———————————————————————————————————————————

 

Thank you, Whitne Strain!   Parents, please research textbooks and other materials found in schools, soon to be found in our children’s minds.  I want to back up Whitne’s perspective with my own recent experience (and encourage all parents and teachers to do this.)

 

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Is This Curriculum Politically Neutral?

by Christel Swasey

For the past few months I’ve been tutoring some high school students, part time.  The students are enrolled in an online, digital school.  I’ve been appalled by the online school’s lack of political neutrality and the emphasis on the same types of things Whitne Strain mentioned above:    curriculum that is extremely politically charged, an extreme environmental focus, the assumption that global warming is a settled scientific fact (not just in the “environmental science” class but also in English class) and an emphasis on collectivism –along with a de-emphasis, even in the U.S. history class, on our founding fathers.

For example, I read one test question for an environmental science class that  went like this (paraphrasing, from memory):

“Which of the following terms best describes an environmental movement that views the rights of the majority of people as more important than the rights of individual property owners?  a) environmental law  b) environmental justice  c) environmental activist  d) other”

The question was not teaching science.  It was teaching a one-sided political message.  It was teaching that the public (the government) could have the right to infringe on individuals’ property rights –maybe for any reason, but at least for environmental reasons.  This may be common speech among extreme left-wing politicians –but in school!?

Schools should teach, and used to teach, that all Americans have constitutional rights, including the right and control of their own property.  Now it seems that some are teaching that individual, constitutional rights are subservient to environmental socialism.

Tutoring other high school students in their online English classes this summer, I noticed the same extreme left-wing rhetoric.  I didn’t write down the questions but recall –for example–  many global warming political cartoons popping up multiple times even within one English test.  This didn’t seem to match what English classes are supposed to be teaching.

Test questions in this English class took a one-sided stand, making the assumption, for example, that global warming was a settled scientific fact –and that this message belonged in an English class.   I asked the online school to take a look at the controversies and debates among scientists in the news to see that global warming is highly controversial, and far from a settled science.  I asked them to consider tossing out these inappropriate questions.

Regardless of parents’ own political ideology, I think most would agree that school is not the place for any type of subtle political indoctrination.  Just as schools are forbidden from preaching a particular religion, schools must be forbidden from preaching a particular political doctrine.

Parents and teachers, we can’t move a mountain all at once.   But we can start by being more aware.  We can notice what is being emphasized and re-emphasized, and also notice what isn’t there and should be.

Tell your local and state school boards that you insist on politically neutral curriculum.  Look at the curriculum for yourself.  You’ll soon dodge anything from Pearson and Microsoft, for example, which together form the world’s largest and most powerful education sales group partnership and which also happen to be working for the United Nations’ Global Education First Initiative.  Ask yourself as you read:

  • Is it promoting “social justice” (socialism and collectivism over classic Americanism) while teaching math, English, history or science?
  • Is it glorifying the politically controversial United Nations and “global citizenship”? (As I noticed years ago that the widely-used Pearson “Human Geography” textbook does)
  • Is it pushing minimizing or degrading the American Constitution and founders?
  • Does it push environmentalism into every subject, promoting environmental activism as an appropriate or necessary behavior for students?    (To get up to speed on this issue, look at minute 4:00 -6:05 on http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA –the Pearson Education CEA Summit speech.  Pearson CEA Sir Michael Barber said “citizens of the world” including every child, “all 9 billion people who will be alive in 2050″ must have all teachings multiplied by “ethical underpinnings.” Barber explains that “ethical underpinning” is “shared understanding” of earth and “sustainability” that every child in every school around the world will learn.  Ethics, to Barber, have nothing to do with the supreme sanctity of human life, individual liberty or the Golden Rule.  It’s simply education for the environmental collective.)

So, if you see the typical “learning target” which says something like: “Students will understand current global issues and their rights and responsibilities in the interconnected world,” which is a learning target that I recently saw in my own child’s student disclosure– then speak up.

Say that it troubles you, and say why. Speak from the heart.

I recently explained this to one of my children’s teachers, after receiving the above mentioned “learning target”.  I said, “Even though we are of Swedish heritage and speak Swedish at home, I have taught my child to be a deeply rooted American citizen, and to avoid teachings that push global citizenship.  I’m opposed to the now-popular concept of “global citizenship” in education, because rights and responsibilities as Americans differ dramatically from those held in other countries or those promoted by the U.N., and I don’t want my child to think of himself/herself as subject to global values, laws, or global governance, which allow for fewer freedoms than those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” 

 

If schools do not respect your wishes, take your business (and children) elsewhere:  to private schools, to home schools, or to a different public school where the principals and curriculum directors still respect parental research and input.

 

 

Utahns Petition State School Board to Drop Fed Waiver and Common Core   1 comment

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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.

Signed—

 

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.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Protect Your Child’s Privacy –and Happiness– by Opting Out of State Testing   2 comments

—————  On Children’s Privacy ————————–

The insatiable data-hunters at American Institutes for Research (AIR) –who also happen to create Utah’s SAGE/Common Core/Utah Core school tests– seem to qualify as stark enemies of student privacy and parental rights.

Desperate to access personal information about children, AIR  wants us to believe the following lie: “your information is out there anyway, so stop fighting for your child’s right to privacy.”   That’s the gist of  this interview with Julia Lane, a “fellow” at American Institutes for Research (AIR).  It’s short, and a must-see.

 

Jakell Sullivan, a Utah mom, has provided the following commentary on Julia Lane’s interview:

  • “It’s impossible to get informed consent about collecting big-data.” 
    … (TRANSLATION-”We can’t wait for you, the parent, to understand our need to collect your child’s data. We’ll need to change public policies at the federal and state level without your consent. We can unilaterally do this by lobbying legislators to stomp out your parental rights.”)
  • “Google knows where you are every single minute of the day”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We couldn’t let Google have a monopoly over big-data, so we partnered with them in 2012. Now, we can drill down on what your child is doing and thinking. Luckily, your child will be using Google Chromebooks soon to learn and take SAGE tests. Once we get every child on a one-to-one device, we can continuously assess your child’s skills through the technology without them having to take a formal test—or be at school!”)
  • “The private sector has been using the data to make a lot of money.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We deserve to make obscene amounts of money, too, by tracking your child’s thinking patterns from PreK to Workforce. Then, we can manipulate their education data to spread the wealth right back into our coffers.”)
  • “In the public sector, we tend not to use those data.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We don’t see a need to follow ethical rules anymore. Everybody else is collecting big-data. We deserve big-data on your child! Your natural right to direct your child’s learning is getting in the way of US doing it. We deserve to control their learning!”)
  • “The good that is being lost is incalculably high.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We can’t save your child because you won’t let us track their personal learning. We must be able to track what they think from PreK to Workforce—for the good of the collective.”)
  • “The rules that exist are no longer clear and are probably no longer applicable.”
    … (TRANSLATION-”We don’t think federal or state privacy laws are fair. We will unilaterally decide how Utah’s state policies will be changed so that we can track your child’s personal learning styles, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s for the good of the collective, of course!”)

 

This video shows how very wrong we are to buy into AIR at all, or to buy into the current “children live to serve the workforce” movement.

Consent does matter.  Privacy is an important right.  Personal choice shouldn’t be superseded by what so-called “stakeholders” desire.  Governments and corporations don’t have the right to take away  privacy –any more than they have the right to take away your property.  No fluffy argument can trump these inherent rights.

Don’t let them have it!  Don’t give your child’s privacy up so easily!  The more people who opt their children out of taking the high-stakes AIR/SAGE tests, the less information these data hounds will have.

Just today, I was registering my high school student for the upcoming school year, online, and was asked many questions about personal, non-academic things: what languages do we speak at home, whether my child has contact lenses, emotional troubles, what our ethnic background is, and endless medical data questioning.

It was not possible to go to the next screen without saying “yes” or giving out each piece of information.

So I wrote to the school district and complained.  Please do the same.

If many of us stand up, things will not continue to hurtle down the path toward a real-life Orwellian 1984 where privacy can no longer exist.

 

——————–  On Children’s Happiness ————————–

 

Privacy from big-data mining is not the only reason people are opting their children out of state tests.

The other thing that opting your child out of state testing gives you, is a happier child.   The tests are very long and don’t benefit your child.  They are non-educating, are secretive (parents may not see them) and test the experimental Common Core standards rather than legitimate, classic education.  Why participate?  What is in it for your child?

Currently, teachers in Utah are under a gag order; they are not allowed to tell parents that parents have a legal right to opt a child out of state testing.  The fact is that although schools are required by current law to administer these terrible tests, students and parents are under no obligation to take them.  Schools are not allowed to penalize students for opting out, in any way.

Opt out.

Learn more about how and why to boycott SAGE/AIR/Common Core tests, and learn what your legal rights are, as a parent or as a student,  at Utahns Against Common Core.

 

Utah T-shirt Design Contest   Leave a comment

Click here to participate in Utah’s Stop Common Core T-shirt Design Contest and to get information about how to vote on the winning design.

We plan to wear these shirts at upcoming state school board meetings and at the State Capitol to help raise awareness about Common Core.

The shirts will be available in a week or two!

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