Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag
Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). I went with Alisa, Renee, my sister and others whose district is Alpine. I wanted to compare the attitudes of parents and teachers in Alpine to Wasatch District, where the same meeting was held last Monday.
Alpine’s meeting was so different.
The room was packed, with extra chairs being brought in and still, standing room only. I have no idea if the majority of people were teachers, principals, or parents, but obviously, many people were concerned and many more came than had been anticipated by the district.
John Jesse had apparently predetermined that no questions would be taken until after the hour-long presentation. When a parent raised her hand to ask a question, Mr. Jesse said that he would not answer the question until later.
The parent said that it was necessary to answer it now to understand, and other parents shouted out, “Just answer her question,” but Mr. Jesse would not. The shouts of support continued to the point that Mr. Jesse appeared truly unreasonable, yet he would not budge.
Mr. Jesse lost the respect and confidence of his audience by refusing to answer questions as they came up.
Audience members (parents? teachers? administrators?) decided to write their questions on the large white board wall on the side of the meeting room. It was flooded with questions quickly. I wish I would have written them all down to share with you here.
When an audience member asked how long, after a test, parents would be able to see the test items (a week? a month? longer?) Mr. Jesse said that in order to be able to release the tests to the public each year (like ACT, SAT, etc, do), they would need to have a new set of tests created each year.
He said that one set of adaptive test items costs Utah taxpayers $32M. In his words, “It’s so expensive to build these tests, it’s just not possible to make these test items available to parents.” (Money trumps legal, moral parental rights?!)
One parent asked why we are spending so much money on these tests rather than using the money to reduce class size.
Other parents brought up the illegality of not allowing parents to view test questions (referring to the rule that only 15 parents, appointed by the state, would have that privilege.) One parent showed Mr. Jesse a copy of the bill that states that the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests must collect ”behavioral indicators” along with academic indicators.
She also had a copy of the state FERPA (Privacy law) and read portions aloud to Mr. Jesse, showing the violations of Common Core test and data collection.
Alisa and I had to leave early because we were on our way to make a presentation about the Common Core agenda to a group in Murray. I quickly wrote my billion dollar question on a note and asked my sister if she would ask it. (Even though I had been standing up, waving my arm back and forth, Mr. Jesse had not called on me during the Q and A.) I had to leave, I thought, without asking my question.
The exit door was next to the presenter. I decided to ask my question on my way out. So I turned to the audience, the presenter and superintendent. To the best of my recollection (a videotaper –I hope– will post the video of the event soon) this is what I said:
“In medicine, the motto is FIRST DO NOT HARM. The same applies to education. We are here discussing the wonderful technology of the Common Core tests, but the standards on which they are built have not been vetted and there’s not a shred of evidence shown, ever, to prove to us that these standards are not doing harm and that the claims being made about them, claims being replicated across all district websites, are true. There is no evidence. I am a credentialed Utah teacher and testify to you that the Common Core is a detriment to our students. I don’t hold Mr. Jesse or Mr. Menlove personally accountable or blame them, but I say to all of us, as a state, we MUST get OUT of Common Core.”
It seemed as if the entire room jumped to its feet and started cheering and applauding. I felt like Pedro after Napoleon Dynamite finishes the dance. The audience was cheering enthusiastically on and on, and I didn’t know what to do. (Do I take a bow? Do I run out the door?) I stood and blinked at all the people in shock and joy.
I share this because I want to offer hope to the parents, teachers, school board members and administrators who have yet to attend these A.I.R. trainings. Parents don’t want Common Core for the kids once they find out what the whole agenda is about. Parents are standing up. They are speaking out. They are demanding to see evidence of claims. They don’t want their kids being used as guinea pigs and they don’t like the lack of parental control and stifled teacher voices.
I heard that after I left the meeting, parents passed around a signup list to have a rally at the State Capitol. But I also heard, sadly, that after I left the meeting, some parents became overly hostile and that Mr. Jesse was hostile as well.
I was not there then; this is hearsay, but I do hope that all those who stand for educational freedom do so with dignity and respect. We do not wish to humiliate our leaders. We just want them to do the right thing and study this fully and act then act on the knowledge that we are, in fact, being acted upon by an increasingly oppressive Executive Branch at the federal level. This is harming quality, legitimate education. It is harming data privacy rights. It is removing local control. We need our leaders to act. But we do not want to be unkind.
I heard that at the Cedar meeting earlier yesterday, the USOE separated the teachers and the parents because they didn’t want teachers hearing the parental controversy. This is wrong. Do not put up with that. These controversies affect us all. We are in this together.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the state meetings. Please share with friends. Show up and make sure your voice is heard. These are your children. This is your tax money. These are your rights. I think Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents and administrators can agree that we want no part of education without representation, and no part of education standards and tests that lack references, pilot testing or legitimate vetting.
IF YOUR DISTRICT IS NOT LISTED, CALL THE UTAH STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION AND ASK FOR A MEETING ABOUT THE COMMON CORE TESTS.
Jordan District4–6 pmElk Ridge Middle School / Auditorium3659 W 9800 S, South Jordan Wednesday March 20
Granite District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Auditorium A2500 S State Street, Salt Lake City Thursday March 21
Salt Lake District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Room 116440 E 100 S, Salt Lake City Monday March 25
Washington District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room121 W Tabernacle St., St. George Thursday March 28
Tooele District4–6 pmStansbury High School / Auditorium 5300 N Aberdeen Lane, Stansbury Park TuesdayApril 2
Park City District4–6 pmEcker Hill Middle School2465 W Kilby Rd, Park City WednesdayApril 3
Grand District4–6 pmGrand County High School / Auditorium608 S 400 E, Moab ThursdayApril 4
San Juan District4–6 pmSan Juan High School / Arena Theater311 N 100 E, Blanding MondayApril 8
Wasatch District4–6 pmDistrict Office101 E 200 N, Heber Tuesday April 9
Iron District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room2077 W Royal Hunte Dr., Cedar City Tuesday April 9
Carbon District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room 1251 W 400 N, Price Wednesday April 10
Sevier District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room180 W 600 N, Richfield Thursday April 11
Box Elder District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room960 S Main, Brigham City Thursday April 11
Alpine District4–6 pmDistrict Office575 N 100 E, American Fork TuesdayApril 16
Weber District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room5320 Adams Ave. Parkway, Ogden Tuesday April 16
Logan District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room101 West Center, Logan Wednesday April 17
Juab District4–6 pmJuab High School / Little Theater802 N 650 E, Nephi Thursday April 18
Nebo District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room350 S Main, Spanish Fork TuesdayApril 23
Davis4–6 pmDistrict Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor)
70 E 100 N, Farmington Thursday April 25
Uintah District4–6 pm Maeser Training Center1149 N 2500 W, Vernal
Alisa, Renee and I interviewed Dr. Bill Evers, from Hoover Institute at Stanford University, and Angela Weinziner, the president of the Travis District School Board, also from California. We asked how Common Core is impacting California’s education and the economy.
Dr. Evers tells the story of how an error found in the elementary level English standards about long and short vowels could not be corrected. The standards had already been printed and sent to the states. It was too late to course correct, even on a small matter. How will we course correct on large matters? There is no amendment process.
Angela Weinzinger explains that few parents or school board members really understand what Common Core is all about. She asks parents to speak out and voice their concerns.
Dr. Evers explains what “competitive federalism” is and what its benefits are to education.
This article needs wide exposure.
Misadventures in Common Core
By Mark Rice – reposted from Huffington Post
My daughter — a bright, fun-loving 8-year-old who isn’t easily rattled — was reduced to tears in school yesterday. Apparently, while working on a math lesson involving fractions, she wasn’t “getting it” the way that she thought she should, and her frustration mounted and her eyes welled up and, later, when her teacher talked to her in the hallway on the way to gym class, she lost it and she cried and cried.
I know this because her teacher — a committed professional who does wonderful work with her class of third-graders — cared enough to call us at home to tell us. When asked, she said that lots of kids were feeling frustrated by this particular lesson. The reason, we learned, is New York’s recent embrace of the “Common Core” that has been adopted by 46 states. It’s the latest experiment put into place by educational policy experts who continually jockey to get the newest big ideas into the classroom.
When I first heard about the Common Core, I was excited. Many of the college students I teach are unprepared to do the kinds of textual analysis and critical thinking that I expect of them, and what I had heard about the Common Core made it seem promising. One article that I read in The Atlantic made it sound, well, revolutionary.
Maybe it will be. The Common Core might turn out to be one of the best reforms in K-12 education in decades. It’s all still pretty new and its cumulative impact on the intellectual development of students might turn out to be a great thing. What I know right now, though, is that it is asking third graders to approach math in ways that seem terribly unsuited to them.
I don’t just mean things like the worksheet that included a rectangle divided into six sections with written instructions asking students to shade one-fifth of it.
[Note: As I wrote the above sentence, my daughter -- who had been in bed for an hour and should have been asleep -- came downstairs in tears, saying that she was still upset by what happened in math class. After talking about her frustrations, she fell asleep beside me on the sofa.]
No, I’m not talking about the typographical error on an official New York State Common Core third-grade math worksheet, though such a boneheaded mistake does little to inspire confidence.
What I mean by math problems unsuited to third-graders are ones that go something like this: Two kids are served brownies. One kid, “Julian,” eats one-half of a small brownie and the other kid, “Debbie,” eats one-eighth of a big brownie. Julian claims that he ate more than Debbie (because one-half is more than one-eighth). The students are asked to explain why Julian’s claim is false, using words and pictures, and then use words and pictures to make that supposedly false statement into a true statement.
I guess that what the students are supposed to realize is that because the brownies are different sizes (though what kind of adult would cut unequal-sized brownies for kids?), one-half isn’t necessarily bigger than one-eighth. That’s true, but without knowing the size of each brownie, there really isn’t enough information to determine which brownie piece is bigger. Maybe Julian really did eat more than Debbie.
More to the point though, is this question: How in the world is that problem supposed to help a third-grader learn fractions? Third-graders are concrete thinkers and they are just learning the basics of fractions. Why throw in a poorly-written word problem that asks them to explain an abstract concept such as the idea that one-eighth of a larger whole may be bigger than one-half of a smaller whole? Until they fully understand the basics of halves and eighths — and unless there is a picture showing the relative sizes of each whole — such abstractions only muddy the waters of learning.
Then there is the problem of dividing a “whole” into two “halves,” calling each half a new whole, and then asking the students to divide the new whole into new halves. My daughter looked at the problem and she knew that she wasn’t seeing two new wholes. She was seeing two halves of the original whole that still stared back her from the page.
More insidious still is a worksheet that seems determined to confuse students by its use of two very similar sounding, and similar looking words. The instructions for Column A read: “The shape represents one whole. Write a fraction to describe the shaded part.” Below the instructions are a variety of shapes with different fractions shaded. The same shapes and shades are found in Column B. This time students are instructed: “The shaded part represents one whole. Divide one whole to show the same unit fraction you wrote in A.”
These third grade students are expected to keep in mind not only the lesson on fractions, but also the fine distinction between the words “shape” and “shade” in determining wholes and fractions. It’s absurd.
I don’t know how my daughter will do in math today or in the coming weeks. I hope that with her teacher’s guidance, and with the support of her mother and me, she’ll make the adjustments she needs to make in order to regain her confidence in understanding the math concepts that she was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.
Until then, we’ll just keep reassuring her that the problem isn’t her ability to understand math; the problem is how she’s being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental “big idea” that she’s unknowingly become part of.
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Thanks to Mark Rice for his article.
At Wasatch High School, where my teenager goes, there have been no math books for two years and there won’t be any next year either. I know this because I called and asked.
No textbook. No online book. No resource for parents or students, other than the offer to have parents attend class with the student. Or afterschool tutoring. Still booklessly.
This is the case because Wasatch High (or the school board– not sure who made the call) has decided to “lead” the state in implementing the Common Core. So rather than to take some time –full implementation and testing must be done in 2014– Wasatch started implementing immediately, booklessly.
Math teachers just “make it up” and make daily worksheets from the standards themselves, but without real instruction. These worksheets don’t look like a math book by any stretch of the imagination. They are virtually instruction-free. And my teenager can’t stand it.
I wish there were private schools in the Heber Valley but there are not. My options are to homeschool my teenager, or put up with a THIRD year of no book and no traditional math.
Thank you, Utah State School Board, for truly messing up children’s academic lives and calling it wonderful.
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While I’m on the subject of how incredibly frustrated I feel with the Utah State School Board and the State Office of Education, I will share a thread from facebook. Joel Coleman is the state school board member who comments here, and Wendy Hart is a district school board member who understands how bad common core really is. Joel does not. :
Kansas, too, is joining the debate on whether it was foolish or wise to adopt national, untested, unpiloted, unproven, expensive and highly criticized Common Core standards and tests. Read about it here: Critics pan Common Core in House hearing | CJOnline.com.
An article in today’s Heartland Institute, by Joy Pullman, quotes Indiana’s State Superintendent and the Department spokesman saying that Indiana must re-evaluate the Common Core Standards and that “It’s not easy to get rid of Common Core.”
Bipartisan Leaders Rethink Indiana’s Common Core Participation
by Joy Pullman
A bill to withdraw Indiana from Common Core national education standards is morphing into a bipartisan bid to have the state reconsider with more public input.
When 46 states signed the initiative in 2010, few held public hearings. Kentucky even agreed to adopt the requirements for what K-12 kids should know in English and math before they were published. Even now, nearly three years later, legislators, teachers, parents, and the general public routinely report in interviews and opinion polls they’ve never heard of the Core.
Lack of public input is a central concern of state Sen. Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), Senate Bill 193’s original author. During a January 16 hearing on the bill, however, he publicly noted testimony from Indiana Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Vice President Derek Redelman. Redelman worried that by overriding a state board of education vote to adopt the Core, the legislature was thwarting established procedure.
A Senate Education Committee vote on SB 193 was scheduled for Jan. 23, but has been moved back several times and now is slated for Feb. 13. The delays reflect a pending amendment to the bill “to make it more acceptable to a greater number of members on the committee,” said Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn).
Once senators pin down the amendment, the bill will likely put the Common Core on hold in Indiana, Kruse said. That means it would stay in place for kindergarten and first grade, where the state has already phased it in. Between the bill becoming law and the end of 2013, it would have the state department of education hold one public hearing in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. The bill would also require the governor’s budget office to analyze the Core’s costs to the state over the next five years. After that, the bill may require the Education Roundtable, a board under the governor’s purview, and state board of education to publicly reconsider their 2010 decision.
“More people are aware of [Common Core] now than the first time around,” Kruse told School Reform News. “So even though groups may try to approve it again, we’ll have more people involved in the decision.”
Despite these accommodations to ICC concerns, the chamber has issued email blasts to members, asking them to pit their state senators against SB 193.
“Common Core is under assault from a contingent of out-of-state special interests, tea party activists and conservative Republican legislators,” reads one email from ICC President Kevin Brinegar.
Since 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Common Core’s underwriter stationed in Washington state, gave the ICC’s parent organization $3.8 million to “engage the business community” to support national standards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce then disseminated this money and advocacy to its state and local members, according to public tax documents.
Newly elected state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat and former teachers union president, has signaled her support for SB 193 based on concerns she’s heard from teachers, administrators, and parents around the state, said Indiana Department of Education spokesman David Galvin.
“Indiana had exceptional standards before Common Core,” Ritz said in a statement. “The Indiana Department of Education, and its board, must re-evaluate Common Core Standards to determine what parts we will accept or reject and determine which of our current Indiana standards should be retained.”
Ritz also plans to withdraw Indiana from Common Core tests because she is against high-stakes testing, Galvin said, and is investigating whether she can decide that herself or if that move requires approval from the governor or board of education.
“The idea is to make an Indiana standard, to take the best of these programs and make our own,” Galvin said. Ritz agrees with conservative critics that the Core constitutes “removal of local control. That’s something the superintendent wants to reinstall,” he said.
Ditching the Core may cost the state federal education money, he noted, because its federal No Child Left Behind waiver requires involvement.
“It’s not easy to get rid of Common Core,” he said.
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The reason I’m reposting this article is that there are many things happening in schools that parents may not feel comfortable with, but most do not speak up because they don’t know their rights over their own children.
Many schools administer something called the “SHARP” survey. Locally, here in Heber City, it’s done in schools. But you can opt out.
SHARP is an in-your-face survey that asks very detailed, intimate, and intrusive questions, without attaching names to the results. So what could be wrong?
Proponents of “SHARP” or ”Communities That Care” or other survey-based youth data collection instruments claim that the survey is a necessary way to assess whether children are involved in drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, or mental ill health.
Others say that these types of surveys may do more harm than good, by introducing children to the ideas of many deviant behaviors they would otherwise not have known about, and/or should be learning about from their parents in a loving, trusting environment rather than on a bubble sheet in a classroom. Others also say that embedded in the language of the surveys are values that may not match those of the parents. (For example, some surveys I have seen do equate gun ownership with gun violence rather than realizing that many homes have guns for protection, hunting and to demonstrate 2nd Amendment rights. See: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/10-reasons-not-to-adopt-communities-that-care-ctc/ )
Children may not have the courage to tell school staff they would like to opt out, but you can send your school a letter to let your wishes be known at the beginning of the school year. Then your child will not be allowed to take the survey.
With that intro, here is Morgan Olsen’s article on your parental rights, with links to laws you can point to when you go to your school district with concerns.
What are my parental rights?
Published at Utahns Against Common Core website January 24, 2013. | By Morgan Olsen | Reposted here with thanks to Morgan Olsen.
When faced with incorrect school policies and practices, parents can easily feel overwhelmed and powerless. Throughout my Common Core research, I have gathered a few tidbits of law that can help you re-establish your parental rights in the education of your child. Exercise regularly your God-given right to advocate for your child’s best interest, and remind schools and government agencies that your child’s unique needs are better served with a parental representative over a hired one. No amount of social planning, exorbitant spending or teacher training can provide a better representative than an emotionally attached lifelong parent who’s most basic instinct and sacred duty is to lovingly protect, nurture, and guide their child. Regularly claim your God-given right and duty to advocate for your child’s best interest as their primary representative. For as the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it.”
Right to review Curriculum (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
1232h Protection of pupil rights
(a) Inspection of instructional materials by parents or guardians
All instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program shall be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of the children.
Limits on Survey, Analysis, Evaluations, or Data Collection (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations
No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning—
(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
(3) sex behavior or attitudes;
(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
United States Code, Title 20 1232c
(c) Surveys or data-gathering activities; regulations
Not later than 240 days after October 20, 1994, the Secretary shall adopt appropriate regulations or procedures, or identify existing regulations or procedures, which protect the rights of privacy of students and their families in connection with any surveys or data-gathering activities conducted, assisted, or authorized by the Secretary or an administrative head of an education agency. Regulations established under this subsection shall include provisions controlling the use, dissemination, and protection of such data. No survey or data-gathering activities shall be conducted by the Secretary, or an administrative head of an education agency under an applicable program, unless such activities are authorized by law.
Activities prohibited without prior written consent (Utah Code Title 53A Section 302)
(1) Policies adopted by a school district under Section 53A-13-301 shall include prohibitions on the administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information, whether the information is personally identifiable or not, concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
(a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
(b) mental or psychological problems;
(c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
(d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close family relationships;
(f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
(g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers; and
(h) income, except as required by law.
(2) Prior written consent under Subsection (1) is required in all grades, kindergarten through grade 12.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
Right of the Parent to raise their child without undue government interference (Utah Code Title 62A Chapter 4a Section 201)
(1) (a) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children. A fundamentally fair process must be provided to parents if the state moves to challenge or interfere with parental rights. A governmental entity must support any actions or allegations made in opposition to the rights and desires of a parent regarding the parent’s children by sufficient evidence to satisfy a parent’s constitutional entitlement to heightened protection against government interference with the parent’s fundamental rights and liberty interests.
(b) The fundamental liberty interest of a parent concerning the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children is recognized, protected, and does not cease to exist simply because a parent may fail to be a model parent or because the parent’s child is placed in the temporary custody of the state. At all times, a parent retains a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of family life. Prior to an adjudication of unfitness, government action in relation to parents and their children may not exceed the least restrictive means or alternatives available to accomplish a compelling state interest. Until the state proves parental unfitness, the child and the child’s parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship and the state cannot presume that a child and the child’s parents are adversaries.
(c) It is in the best interest and welfare of a child to be raised under the care and supervision of the child’s natural parents. A child’s need for a normal family life in a permanent home, and for positive, nurturing family relationships is usually best met by the child’s natural parents. Additionally, the integrity of the family unit and the right of parents to conceive and raise their children are constitutionally protected. The right of a fit, competent parent to raise the parent’s child without undue government interference is a fundamental liberty interest that has long been protected by the laws and Constitution and is a fundamental public policy of this state.
(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.
Watch out, Common Core. Political analysis Michelle Malkin has stepped up to the plate.
Malkin’s New Year’s resolution is to use her syndicated column and blog space “to expose how progressive “reformers” — mal-formers — are corrupting our schools.”
Rotten to the Core: Obama’s War on Academic Standards
By Michelle Malkin – (Part 1)
January 23, 2013 09:43 AM
…This is the first in an ongoing series on “Common Core,” the stealthy federal takeover of school curriculum and standards across the country.
…. Under President Obama, these top-down mal-formers — empowered by Washington education bureaucrats and backed by misguided liberal philanthropists led by billionaire Bill Gates — are now presiding over a radical makeover of your children’s school curriculum. It’s being done in the name of federal “Common Core” standards that do anything but raise achievement standards.
… In practice, Common Core’s dubious “college- and career”-ready standards undermine local control of education, usurp state autonomy over curricular materials, and foist untested, mediocre and incoherent pedagogical theories on America’s schoolchildren.
Over the next several weeks and months, I’ll use this column space to expose who’s behind this disastrous scheme in D.C. backrooms. I’ll tell you who’s fighting it in grassroots tea party and parental revolts across the country from Massachusetts to Indiana, Texas, Georgia and Utah. And most importantly, I’ll explain how this unprecedented federal meddling is corrupting our children’s classrooms and textbooks…
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.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further being “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 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, 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
But first, an interjection: I want to introduce this article: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/your-students-privacy/
I like this article because it exposes the facts plainly, that parents are unaware that their children’s information is being shared without parental permission, beyond the school, beyond the district, and even beyond the state. It is verifiable and true.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names and income, is being watched by the U.S. government via schools.
Verify for yourself: 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 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…
These databases (State Longitudinal Database Systems, SLDS; also, P-20 and state data combinations such as the Utah Data Alliance) are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized,” according to alterations made to FERPA (Family Education Privacy Act) regulations by the Dept. of Education.
These now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate snoops (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for examples) 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 (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 )
This is a nightmare of Big Brother in action, except it’s not a fiction. You can verify it all on the government’s own public sites, such as:
States would not get stimulus money if they didn’t agree to build the SLDS system.
So they all agreed. All.
I happened to ask 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 and will be tracked.
I ask you, dear readers, to turn your feelings about this intrusion toward positive action.
Call your governor.
If you are from Utah, Governor Herbert is here 801 538-1000 and here: http://demo.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html
Public feeling and individual actions are the only, only chance we have to alter the course we are currently traveling.
Common Core and the Fiction/Non-Fiction Question.
Read this post by Diane Ravitch.
She says: “It is interesting that the two loudest voices defending [common core] are Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, both quite conservative groups.
The way the issue is framed unfortunately misses the point, at least the point that I and others have raised.
Why do the [common core] standards mandate a proportionate split between fiction and non-fiction?
Who thought it was necessary to turn NAEP’s instruction to test developers into a mandate for teachers?
Who will police the implementation of the arbitrary ratios of 50-50 or 70-30?
If the ratios apply to all courses, can’t we assume that students will read “informational text” in math, science, civics, history, and other subjects, leaving teachers of English language arts to assign as much fiction or non-fiction as they want?
In the interests of clarity, here’s what I want: the ratios should be eliminated. They are an overreach. They have no basis in research or experience. There is no justification for imposing them.
I urge this not as a partisan of fiction or non-fiction, but as a partisan of common sense.”
Here’s the UNESCO’s brainwashing site for teachers. It’s aim is to “reorient” academics to focus on “sustainability” and to slowly eradicate personal liberty in favor of collectivism.
The goal: UNESCO (United Nations) wants to “teach” (indoctrinate) everyone to become obsessed with “sustainability” to the point that they are willing to give up everything for sustainability– traditional academics; traditional authority of parents over their own children; parents, especially women, raising their own children; personal property, Constitutions, religions; traditional museums and media. Nothing will be allowed to be more important than “sustainability” in anyone’s mind.
UNESCO wants to transform the thinking of every human on earth. This is easier to do if they first indoctrinate teachers, since they can more easily “teach” their new religion of sustainability if teachers are converted first.
This link will bring you to UNESCO’s teacher training page: Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future: a multimedia teacher education programme.
Another interesting and scary page on the same site is : http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/ This is where they show which political programs teachers are to focus on. One that is particularly disturbing to me is the emphasis on girls and women.
They want to make sure every mother is in the workforce rather than being home with her child. And they want to limit the amount of babies being born in the first place; thus, they redefine as “rights” things like reproductive norms.
Those who think the “sustainability” obsession of the United Nations (and increasingly, of the U.S. Department of Education) is just about recycling are very naiive. Sustainability is an ultimately anti-human, cruel political agenda that aims to governmentally control every person on earth –under the deceptive banner of earth care.
”Sustainability” has no business in legitimate academic life.
Dear Mrs. Swasey:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It is good to hear from you.
As you may know, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the CRPD in 2006 and President Obama transmitted it to the Senate earlier this year. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held only one hearing on this treaty and quickly reported it to the full Senate. As one of the principle authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I support this treaty’s general goal of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities but believe that an international treaty is the wrong means of achieving that goal.
The CRPD would authorize a United Nations committee of individuals chosen by foreign countries to evaluate whether, in its opinion, a ratifying country is complying with the treaty. If the United States ratified it, this committee would scrutinize our political, social, cultural, and even family life. Since a ratified treaty has the same legal status as the Constitution itself, this treaty undermines American sovereignty and self-government.
With these concerns in mind, I voted against the CRPD on December 4, 2012. The 61-38 vote was fewer than the 2/3 margin that the Constitution requires for ratification. However, I will continue to support legitimate ways of promoting the rights and opportunities of persons with disabilities.
Once again, thank you for writing.
Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senator
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah has decided to spend $39 million on American Institutes for Research’s version of Common Core testing. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55349773-78/tests-state-system-students.html.csp
Here’s the website of AIR, if you want to see who they are. http://www.air.org/reports-products/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=2154
While I feel grateful we did not go with Pearson (Sir Michael Barber) or with ACT (David Coleman) I don’t know if this is any different –the AIR group appears to be, just like Pearson and ACT, just another D.C. global-citizen indoctrination institute.
I wish we’d chosen to spend that 39 million on real blessings to our kids: great libraries of books, wonderful basketball courts, more high quality teachers, field trips— actual learning supplies, instead of on high-stakes tests that will track and manage (and limit) our children’s futures all the way into their careers.
The AIR tests will be meshed with the tracking system (P-20) that manages children from preschool to workforce via the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that the federal government paid us almost $10 million to use. (That contributed to the U.S. debt– it was ARRA stimulus money).
Interstate and intra-state agencies, and also state-fed relationships will share access to these test scores and to the citizen profiles the tests will build.
It’s a 1984-esque citizen profiling situation that can only be halted if teachers, parents and citizens stand up and say no, loudly.
Remenber, the new tests and the mediocre Common Core standards are not our local will. There’s never been a vote. These are products of the federal and globalist will that move under the general public’s radar.
The article quoted Dr. Menlove’s reference to “federal education law”– Oh, what an example of how far off we are! What would the writers of the Constitution say about states bowing to federal laws that are clearly unconstitutional, such as those which permit federal control of state education?
I do not think that the education leaders in Utah understand that they are playing directly into the hands of those who would replace freedom and the U.S. Constitution with a Collective where the individual has no say.
Think it’s too awful to believe?
It’s like the telephone game. Utah’s education leaders are whispered to by the federal educational leaders, who have been whispered to by top “Education Reform” activists: Sec. Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Clinton, Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber, ACT’s David Coleman, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, Bill Gates/UNESCO, and the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Education Reform.
It is not rocket science to see where they are pushing us.
I really don’t think the Utah leaders know it. Sadly, we all –and our children– pay for their obvious ignorance of the goals of globalist ”Education Reform”.
Just pasting some recent tweets from Sir Michael Barber, the Chief Education Advisor for Pearson. (FYI, Pearson is one of the big corporate groups getting rich from implementing Common Core.)
Sir Michael Barber is all about one-world indoctrination.
Check him out. He talks about revolution. He talks about gun control and U.S. politics. He quotes someone talking about ending the “promised land” of Jerusalem and turning it into a place that belongs to everyone, not to Jews. He talks about the environment. And he talks about education reform as if everyone knew what he means by the term. And most don’t.
His definiton of education reform means a one-world, top-down, global education with an emphasis away from academics and sovereignty and toward environmentalism and collectivism. IS THIS NOT CREEPY TO YOU?
Why do so many people avoid politics?
What do we suppose our Heavenly Father feels about politics?
What do the holy scriptures and prophets say about politics?
There are detailed lessons on:
– to name a few vital political topics.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who became the President and prophet of the church, said:
“The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time. http://youtu.be/PJf9Rc78vb0
Some churches, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, remain politically neutral while urging its members to be politically active. Why? From the church website: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org.uk/official-statement/political-neutrality
The Church encourages members to be informed about issues and to vote in elections and expects members to engage in the political process in an informed manner.
The Church does not promote political parties or attempt to direct any government leader.
Yet, the Church reserves the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences.
So we are expected to study politics carefully. We are expected to act on what we learn from studying.
We are not supposed to sit this one out.
Liberty depends on our ability to recognize what is going on around us.
Let’s reason with John Adams. In 1763, Adams didn’t know Utah would be facing the decision to reverse adoption of Common Core and reclaim local freedom over education, or not. But he did know this much:
- “…[A]s we know that ignorance, vanity, excessive ambition and venality, will, in spite of all human precautions, creep into government, and will ever be aspiring at extravagant and unconstitutional emoluments to individuals, let us never relax our attention… We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands… It becomes necessary to every subject then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly, a British, and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party virulence and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government, any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others, who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.”
Do some research. Don’t assume others’ claims and promises are correct or true, when they give no verifiable references. Even leaders (especially leaders) are subject to vanity, ignorance, ambition and unconstitutionality. Search for facts. Ask questions. Look for an application of Constitutional principles on new education reforms. Do they put the government above the parent? Do they put federal government above local? Do they sell something valuable for something temporarily sparkly? Be smart.
Learn what Common Core means to local control of standards, to Constitutional issues like representation and limited government power over people, to student math standards, to English standards, to taxpayer burdens, to data privacy, to parents worried about the speed and quality of what their kids are being taught, to parental consent issues. Common Core is much more than most realize.
Adams did speak to us directly:
- “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
Adams also said:
- “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live.”
Common Core Architect David Coleman’s idea was to cut classic lit and narrative writing so that schools churn out kids who can read and write computer manuals and infotext.
But how to live? That comes from stories. David Coleman is blind to the spiritual human need for stories. And he just got promoted to be the College Board President. Heaven help us all.
There are those who hold Sec. of Education Arne Duncan’s letters as if they were freedom-guaranteeing facts, as if the letters held any legal water in comparison to his mark on definitive documents states are really bound by: the Race to the Top Executive Summary, the ED website’s definitions pages, the ESEA Flexibility Waiver, the Cooperative Agreement.
I apply it to the USOE’s unreferenced
lie claim that Common Core makes kids “globally competitive” and gives more “rigorous” standards while all the while it’s homogenizing 2 year, 4 year and vocational college-readiness, (common for all) and while it slows Alg. I from 8th grade to 9th grade, and while it slashes cursive and classic literature. –Oh, and there are the little details called GEPA law and the U.S. Constitution, which Common Core kicks to the curb. And then there’s that little fact that the only math professor (James Milgram) and the top English Language Arts professor (Sandra Stotsky) refused to sign off on the standards when they served on the Common Core Validation Committee because the standards were not high. Truth and factuality are slung aside by Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and the Common Core troops.
Three more John Adams quotes for Common Core debate:
1- “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.” AMEN.
2- “I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” Yep.
3- “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
David Coleman has never been a teacher. And he’s kind of a jerk and a potty mouth. But this architect of Common Core is now President of the College Board.
He is Michelle Rhee’s treasurer at StudentsFirst. He openly mocks narrative writing and classic literature. He thinks literature is inferior to nonfiction (info-texts) and his Common Core does mandate the minimalizing of literature in English classes.
Explaining why he believes students need less literature and less narrative writing practice, he says, “As you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” –Coleman at NY State Department of Education presentation, April 2011
His bizarre ideas go virtually unchallenged.
A lot of English teachers disagree with him quietly. But he’s the chief architect of the K-12 ELA Common Core national standards and President of the College Board. What can we do? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/education/david-coleman-to-lead-college-board.html
At least, we should be aware of his mind operates; it affects all of us now.
He’s now aligning the K-12 Common Core national standards with college entrance exam standards.
Aligning the ACT and SAT to the CCSS will require lowering college standards. If the K-12 CCSS were truly college- and career-ready standards, then why would anyone adjust the “standard measures” of college readiness? http://boston.com/community/blogs/rock_the_schoolhouse/2012/05/the_wrong_lesson_on_national_s.html
So Coleman’s work is now to lower standards for most college students across the nation. Why?
One of the lies of Common Core is that it raises standards for all. This doesn’t even make logical sense. How can everyone be brought to a single standard without holding back the highest achievers and without rushing the struggling achievers? In reality, Common Core raises standards for students in states who had low standards before, and lowers standards for states who has higher ones before (like Massachusetts).
Stanford Professor Michael Kirst explained that Common Core’s
“standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven…” http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466
These Coleman lies need exposure. The illogical claims need exposure. Colleges need to speak up and demand the removal of Coleman from the College Board and abolish his plot to create a single, common educational denominator for all.
Dear Governor Herbert,
As you are in the process of selecting some members of the State School Board, I ask that you do not select Leslie Castle for another term, based on two things:
1. She does not know what the U.S. Constitution is about, nor does she value freedom for Utah. She fails to stand up against federal encroachments in Utah’s educational system.
2. She has behaved dishonestly and rudely in her position as school board member toward a teacher –me– who spoke out against Common Core.
Evidence for #1:
On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Leslie Castle wrote:
“I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality… Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality… your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards…
On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM, Christel S <email@example.com> wrote:
The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.
If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term. Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over. It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational and other matters.
A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.
… ”Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution. The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core)…
Equality can never be mandated… Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.
…I am not “campaigning for ideology over standards.” I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change. It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.” Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.
The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted. Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.
In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative. We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.
I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as campaigning for idealogy. I want tangible answers. I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that. I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah. Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it. I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone. I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.
That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.
Evidence for #2 that Leslie Castle has been rude and unprofessional:
When Leslie Castle received the 4-page, well-referenced rebuttal I had written to the State Office of Education’s “fact v. fiction” flier about Common Core, http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2012/04/ Ms. Castle did not defend the flier nor answer any question I’d raised about that flier being unreferenced or misleading.
Instead, she began a personal attack. She said that I was not to be believed because I was lying about being a teacher. I asked her to check my references but she did not. She spread her lie about me to the whole school board. (see below) She received multiple letters from other people who were teachers where I taught, or parents of a student I’d taught, to rebut her lies. She never apologized for her errors or tried to clean up the damage. The board never reprimanded her in any way.
I will paste one of her emails here; I’m willing to share them all, if anyone wants to read them.
Ms. Castle wrote this to the board and to me:
“…you have been deceptive, because you were caught and because you remain deceptive in this email. You create diversions to mislead others from the truth, as demonstrated by the misleading about your “teaching” experience. You ask me if it matters if you were nothing but a mom. I would ask you the same question. You tell me. If it doesn’t matter, why would you inflate your credentials? Why would you represent yourself as being a “teacher” at Odyssey when in fact, you weren’t? Why would you represent yourself as having “taught” at Odyssey for a year, when in fact, you did not. Nor at Renaissance Academy. You distract from the truth by telling me to call this person or that person to ask if you were the “best” teacher. But really Christel, isn’t it all about hiding the fact that you fibbed about yourself and what your “credentials” were. I don’t think anyone has to be a teacher to be a credible voice in this discussion but I don’t think a person can be openly, continually deceptive and expect to be taken seriously. To make matters even more shameful, you have pounded the State Board and USOE about OUR motives and credentials, all the while pretending and posturing self-righteously in front of audiences and in flurries of emails copied to everyone you think would listen.
In reality, you are the one who is to be mistrusted and doubted. You are the one who is committing mischief and ill-will. You are the one who is self-serving and silly. And, you have the audacity to accuse me or anyone else at USOE or USBE of being less than helpful and constructive. You remain arrogant even in your humiliation.
Shame on you. I would suggest you find another target for your unjustified hostility and shenanigans and stop wasting everyone’s time with your pretext. Notice I have copied this to the State Board and some of the USOE. Leslie Brooks Castle “
TEACHER AND PARENT DEFENSE OF CHRISTEL SWASEY:
Date: Sun, May 6, 2012 at 8:26 PM
Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER!!!
My name is Audra Call (formerly Audra Adams) and I have worked at Odyssey as a teacher since it began. Christel Swasey, otherwise known as Christel Lane taught 3rd grade with me at Odyssey Charter School. The former principal Nyman Brooks, Nikki Carpenter, Brooke Garrett, and Robyn Merill (who is now at Odyssey) can all verify this fact.
I am very disappointed and quite honestly furious about the way Christel Lane Swasey has been treated by Leslie Castle and others at USOE. Remember the Bill of Rights guarantees free speech. Whether or not people agree with Christel, all should be professional and respectful towards her as she is towards others.
I am so grateful to Christel for the research and her insurmountable sacrifice of time that she has spent in educating teachers and parents about the realities of the Common Core initiative.
I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until I began reading the research myself. My freedom of choice is of the greatest importance and will always be. I will always be against anything that is unconstitutional and that which takes our rights and freedoms away.
Our founding fathers would be ashamed right now if they were still alive to see what was happening. I hope Leslie Castle gets a severe reprimand for her demeaning words and lies.
From: Karin J
Date: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM
Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER
My name is Karin Jaccard. My children attended Odyssey Charter School for five years. One of my sons had Christel Lane as his third grade teacher. Yes, Christel IS a teacher, and a good one. Since then she remarried, and is now Christel Lane Swasey.
I find it disturbing that members of the STATE school board degrade themselves to such low tactics as trying to defame the reputation of a concerned teacher and citizen. (When you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger?) Ironically, her careful study, logical conclusions, and clear warning message would be no less valid, were she not a teacher.
I believe Utah is at a critical point in it’s history. Ironically, as elected members of the school board, you have the power to free or enslave the citizens and children ( future citizens) of our state. Will you bend to powerful pressure? Will you value the skin you have in the game over the freedom and privacy of those you serve? I hope not.
I hope you find the mental strength to plow through all the information your are presented with. I hope you have the clarity of mind to understand the principles, values and freedoms that are at stake. I pray you have the courage to make correct decisions, regardless of personal consequences.
Governor, as far as I know, none of these letters were answered by any member of the school board. I do not want to fight publicly with Leslie Castle. I feel this little drama takes away from the real issue, which is that federal encroachments have totally taken over Utah’s educational system and freedom, in the guise of raising standards under the Common Core Initiative. Yet I feel I must direct attention to Leslie Castle’s emails because it is now time to make important changes in the state school board membership.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
This prayer was given in 1997 at the Freedom Festival, by Gordon B. Hinckley. Today, I am saying this prayer with reference to the Common Core Initiative, which is taking over American education and has taken away the liberty of our state and has blinded so many along the way that I believe now only a miracle from God will make the truth clear. I hope others will pray with me for increased freedom and for an end to this federally controlled movement which poses as a blessing to education.
Oh God, our Eternal Father, thou who presides over the nations and their people, we come unto thee in prayer. We thank thee for this great and sovereign nation of which we are citizens. Touch the minds of those of our Congress that they shall stand tall and independent in defense of the liberty of the people. Bless the chief executive. He is our president. Let thy spirit move upon him to bring to pass those measures which will lift the burdens of government from the backs of the people and keep this nation under God, a citadel of freedom standing as an example to all the world. Bless the Supreme Court of the United States which in recent days has declared unconstitutional a measure designed to secure the religious liberty of the people of this nation. May a way be found under thy divine inspiration to bring to pass another measure which will be sustained by the court. May thy peace rest upon this nation. May we as a people look to thee and live. May the benevolent hand of the almighty protect us from the evil forces of the world. May humanism and secularism bend to an increased knowledge of these our Father and our God. May a spirit of brotherhood spread throughout the land. As we pray to thee, we do so in our manner and respect the prayers of others who speak after their manner. That thou wilt hear us all as we lift our voices in behalf of our beloved nation. Almighty Father, hear us, guide us, protect us, make us both strong and benevolent before the world. Forgive our erring ways. May we turn back to thee in our search for wisdom, for guidance, for direction, we humbly ask in Jesus’ sacred name, Amen.
(Source: Freedom Festival, BYU Marriott Center, Provo, Utah 1997)
I received a letter from an anonymous person in Heber. I will post the full text of what he/she wrote, and the full text of my response. This is America. Free press is important.
This is written out of concern for you and other friends and relatives of mine whose integrity you are questioning. This is Heber. Everyone is related to someone, but we’re all brothers and sisters regardless.
The simple truth is that nearly everyone who is given accurate information about the common core supports it. Active teachers do and tell me they are not afraid of speaking their minds if they didn’t. I’ve talked to all of them I know. I’ve known and worked with many of them my whole life.
That alone does not mean common core deserves my support. However, when I read the documents you forward around and your websites, your statements about our rights, literary education, privacy, cost, etc., simply seem unfounded to me. Because I, like you, am an informed fellow patriot dedicated to investigation, I’ve read them and the other side’s. It seems like you have not read or choose to ignore anything from the other side.
I don’t know you as well as I know some of the good people you do not trust. I also know the bad reputation of some of the extreme people and groups who support your cause in the papers.
Many good people I know believe many things that are just not true. They are entitled to their own opinions until they become so jaded and overly suspicious of everyone, and eventually faithless, disloyal Americans who hurt their community and country and others as they try tearing them down. In the end, they drag themselves down.
This is a great country with the ability to change course if necessary. This is a great town with great people. You’ll find after this battle, those you’ve offended will quickly forget.
Please rethink your approach. Some of the things you are writing, especially about public servants, are not true. It may have become too personal for you. If you choose to share this with others please be honest and don’t take my words out of context.
Having asked for honesty, I’m sorry I don’t have the courage to sign this, but you seem to have become increasingly uncharitable with anyone who disagrees with you — even some who should be your friends.
I have already read your info, your websites and the sites you refer to. No need to respond. This is the only time you’ll hear from me.
One of several neighbors who are afraid you are damaging your reputation beyond repair, and hurting our schools.
Dear Anonymous Neighbor,
Thank you for your letter. I’m sad that you feel the way you do, and I wish you would talk to me face to face. You cared enough to write to me, and so I appreciate you. I hope you do write back because I want to know in detail how I have been “uncharitable to those who disagree” –If that is true, I am sorry I came across that way.
I am going to hold our local school board accountable for taking away parental consent laws that protect us all. If that’s uncharitable, then I guess you are right. By that definition, Captain Moroni and Paul Revere and George Washington and Joseph Smith would be called uncharitable, too.
How can I not question the validity of the standards, since my own daughter tells me she’s learned nothing in math all year long? I hope you are not her math teacher. (Sorry, but that is what she testifies.) How can I not question the validity of taking away parental consent law in Wasatch District? That is totally outrageous for them to have done such a thing.
I wonder where you got the idea that I am “jaded and suspicious” or a “disloyal American.” Wow. I am actually willing to read anything you or any other Common Core proponent will send me. As for disloyalty to America? My whole argument is that we need to defend the U.S. Constitution from federal intrusion. So I don’t understand that one.
I demand evidence that Common Core allows us to be free, which the Utah State Office of Education does not provide. People who want to know what Common Core is, must track down documents signed by Utah’s leaders, and read them on their own; the USOE is not transparent at all.
To know truth, we must study and ponder the meanings of binding evidence before believing claims made by anybody about Common Core, on either side of the argument. And honestly, you should ask for evidence, too. Some things are not just opinion, but are based on legal facts.
Nobody has entered into any kind of give and take with me, except one person on the school board. So I don’t know who you say I won’t listen to. I have been giving my emails to local teachers who are against Common Core secretly and who don’t dare say anything but they wink at me and want more knowledge and hope Utah gets us free of Common Core. They want out.
I am not questioning any one person’s truthfulness or integrity, and I’m sorry you see it that way. There is no finger pointing that needs to happen; I think we’ve all, all been duped by Common Core.
What I am questioning is people’s blind faith in the claims of the Utah State Office of Education without seeing any evidence to back up the claims, and people’s lack of spine in standing up to federal requests for access to our constitutionally delegated, local rights.
I am especially questioning the validity of deleting parental consent in schools, which our school board did Thursday. I am questioning the Utah State Office of Education, the State School Board, and those whom the Governor has entrusted with the educational freedom of this state.
Did you know that over 90% of the Republican candidates for senate, governor, and representative, are firmly opposed to Common Core? We called and asked them all before the convention. More Utah leaders are against Common Core than are for it. Even Governor Herbert, after Alisa and Renee and Kevin and I met with him, agreed that there is so much evidence that it confused him. He wanted his legal team to look at it before he invited us back to his office. So there is no consensus that Common Core is wonderful by any means.
If you will take the time to read the legally binding documents and explain them to your friends, you will see that the Emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Utah is no longer free. Even a retired Utah judge has now studied these documents and has affirmed that under Common Core, Utah is not free.
Utah is not free, he said. Doesn’t that matter at all? Is that not worth me ruining my reputation for, freedom?
These are the legal facts, whether friends and relatives and neighbors choose to read them or not. That is up to each of us.
We cannot afford to give in to Common Core, out of fear of our own reputations.
The research is solid, so my sadness about what a neighbor might say or think about me is of little consequence. I am following my conscience on this. I am very proud to have a reputation as someone who recognizes error and fights to help others see it, because it’s about the Constitution even when others may interpret my efforts as “hurting schools.”
Of course I wish everyone agreed with me and loved me for doing this, but I can’t ask for that.
When we put flags in our yards on the fourth of July, what does it mean if we have no educational freedom any longer? Should I really be quiet, out of fear of what others think of me, and allow freedoms to get sifted away? Would be the right thing for me to do, after all the knowledge I have? Is that what you would have me do?
You said that I ignore everything from the other side. Not so. I’ve asked that both sides provide more than “he-said, she-said” and they haven’t. Only the anti-Common Core side has any proof and evidence. Isn’t that strange? Why does the CommonCore advocacy side not have any evidence backing up their claims? It is beyond strange.
You said “everyone who is given accurate information about Common Core supports it.” I would love to see that accurate information you speak of, and where it comes from. I’ve read the entire U.S.O.E. website. I’ve read the Common Core website. And guess what? They don’t back up their claims with evidence. I’ve had to dig up the documents to read for myself.
I do not believe the claims because they don’t match the documents. Please don’t accuse me of not being willing to read and review things. That is exactly what the Common Core advocates do, and that is a sin in my book. Send me anything and I will read it and compare it to the legally binding documents our Utah leaders have signed.
I have never refused to read anyone’s documents. I’m willing to read more. But are you?
Most importantly, I’ve read the legal documents our Governor and board signed, and they truly bind our state– lost freedom, loss of educational control, loss of the ability to amend the CCSS federal testing standards, which is something the U.S.O.E. has not been transparent/honest about. This is as true as I’m sitting here typing.
I do not think you wrote to me because you have read the documents and actually have grounds to disagree with me. I think you wrote to me because you have not read much at all and you are afraid– of not having everybody that you care for, see things the same way and appear to get along. But there is a time to agree and a time to disagree and this is one of those times!
You don’t have to read the evidence on both sides, if you don’t want to. I do want to.
And we don’t have to be contentious, and hopefully, we will not be. Contention is bad and wrong and I hope and pray to avoid it. But fighting for truth and freedom, even if it divides friends, is simply unavoidable to an honest heart.
We are free to disagree and still love one another and that is the American way.
Thanks for your letter.
I am still learning about Common Core and its financial, political and educational complications. But I won’t let what I don’t know stop me from asking questions about what I do know.
The burden of proof is on the Utah State Office of Education, which has not proved its claims (creating college readiness, allowing local control, ensuring high and honorable standards, being free of federal intrusions, no privacy loss for kids) with legally binding documents we can have faith in.
Sorry, pretty words about college readiness are not enough. Show me some facts.
What I see in the legally binding documents I’ve studied, and that others like me have studied, leads us to believe cutting ties to the Common Core Initiative is a win-win for all Utahns.
1. Taxpayers win when we cut ties to Common Core. Utah can escape the expensive mandates of the SBAC and can demand genuine congressional relief from both NCLB and Common Core. Utah does not have to accept a NCLB waiver nor the Common Core fetters. See what Florida Senator Marco Rubio had to say.
Here is Senator Rubio’s letter to the federal Dept. of Education on the subject: http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=8aab326e-4051-4545-9ae2-76ca29434eb8
Here’s an “Exit Strategy” report for governors like Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and (hopefully) Governor Herbert of Utah, who want to escape Common Core. From the Heritage Foundation:
Also from Heritage:
If you don’t think Common Core costs Utah money, read how California is struggling to raise taxes now to pay for expensive Common Core implementations. http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/california-wants-a-tax-hike-to-pay-for-common-core/
And read the cost analysis done by the Pioneer Institute on the outrageous costs to states of implementing Common Core. This is money we’ll have to come up with, on top of our educational needs that we’ve always had, before Common Core hit. http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf
We got zero money for the Race to the Top application. That’s a blessing because we don’t have to give it back when we sever ties with Common Core.
Utah also got no money from the SBAC’s Race to the Top application, but we are still bound by the terms of that grant so long as we stay in the SBAC, because the SBAC did get money to make the test. Utah belongs to the SBAC now. We need to cut ties with SBAC for that reason as well as for the reason that they can boss us around as a consortium and, when push comes to shove, Washington State gets to tell Utah what to teach Utah kids. WA is the fiscal agent and lead state in the consortium. That’s just plain silly, giving WA power over Utah.
Where is the law that says: In order for states to receive educational funding (our own tax dollars returned to us) we must obey federal mandates over education? This is absurd. The Executive Branch has no authority over educational decision making although it is trying illegally to use intimidation tactics to do so. This must be stopped by you and me and Senator Rubio and others like him, including our local school board and state leaders.
2. Teachers win when we cut ties to Common Core. The teachers who dislike Common Core are mostly afraid to say so out loud because they fear losing their jobs or being seen as “not team players.” But the teachers who love Common Core are very vocal about it. They even say things like, “Don’t take this program away from us, now that Utah’s finally gotten higher standards.” Well, good news, folks! Anything you like about Common Core is in the public domain and you can use it. Anything you don’t like, we can delete from Utah’s standards. Utah can genuinely raise standards across the bar, setting the assertions aside that CCSS standards are experimental or still too low, http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100520_emperors_new_clothes.pdf and
–and we can retain our rights of freedom and flexibility in Utah school districts to determine what local standards should be.
3. Parents win when we cut ties to Common Core. Parents, upset about the privacy laws being overturned by school boards all over Utah to make way for Common Core’s intrusive data-collecting goals, can reclaim their rights to determine who gets to study their kids’ psychological, physical, and academic characteristics.
And parents worry about the fact that the federal CCSS standards can be changed at any time (but not by locals) to include any horrific standard unapproved by Utahns. These parents will be happy when we cut ties to Common Core and the SBAC tests, because Utah will reclaim its right to set its own educational standards according to local values and high, flexible academic aspirations.
We must take a stand. No one else will do it for Heber or for any other Utah town; our governor is indecisive so far, and our State School Board is totally pro-common core– led by Larry Shumway, who sits on three Common Core boards outside of his job as Utah State Superintendent of Schools. We each, locally, must say no to each one of these federal intrusions.
Many people realize that the very existence of the federal Dept. of Education is constitutionally illegal and a constitutional president should and would disband this entity.
It’s funny; I wrote a letter to the U.S. Dept of Ed. recently and they responded with a form letter that quotes the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, as a reason for not replying. It is so ironic.
The feds know they have no Constitutional right to say or do anything about state education, and they hide behind that fact when they don’t want to answer difficult questions about the Common Core Initiative, which they promoted, and which they control on the testing and data collection end.
They send people like me to the NGA or CCSSO to get questions answered, even though we know the NGA and the CCSSO are Common Core promotional agencies, funded by the federal Dept of Education.
The Dept. of Education has paid others to do what it is not legally permitted to do. It’s a scam; all of Common Core is a scam to try to persuade us to allow the federal arm to take over our state educational system. We are too smart for that. Stand up and say, “We see this for what it is and you can’t boss us around.” We need to call their bluff. The Emperor (of Common Core) Is Wearing No Clothes. There is nothing in it for Utah.
Without Common Core, we can still have high standards and be the masters of them. We can be free. We lose no money, we lose no power to raise standards, we lose no freedoms, we don’t have to do the expensive mandates of the SBAC and Common Core; it’s a win-win for us to cut ties with CC and SBAC.
I wish people would realize that it’s not just about standards; it’s about who got to set them, who has authority to amend them, and who ends up paying for their huge implementation costs. It’s about freedom and self-determination.
Highlights (paraphrased) from the Resolution by the National Federation of Republican Women (to reject Common Core):
The “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the federal agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;
The proponents of Common Core have used the same model to take over education as was used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;
National education standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;
National education standards undercut the principle that states, not the federal government, make educational decisions under the Constitution;
There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, curricula, or assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and
The proponents of Common Core are attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized education system by (1) having the federal government fund more than $345 million to groups that developed national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national education standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national ecuation standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);
What to do:
(1) contact State Board of Education members, State Superintendent and Governor to request that our state retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing, (2) contact Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the federal government takeover attempt of education.