Archive for the ‘slds’ Tag
This week, the Salt Lake Tribune invited Utah Assistant State Superintendent Dr. Judy Park and me to a filmed interview concerning the increasing number of Utah parents who are opting their children out of the Common Core aligned SAGE testing. Here is the link if you want to watch the half hour at “Trib Talk.”
(I will return to this post to update it soon. There is so much more that needed to be explained about the psychometrics that are apparent when you read the AIR (test writer) contract with Utah; about the data collection SLDS machine that is fed by student participation in SAGE and other digital testing/learning; about the need to defend teaching time and teacher professional judgment which are harmed by this testing; about the national opt out movement that is growing in strength and numbers across the nation. I also want to transcribe some of the questions and answers, word for word, later.)
First, here’s a list.
It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken. Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core. They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.
Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy Hooley, Peter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul Bogush, Laurie Rogers, Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White, David Cox, Peg Luksik, Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia Hayes, Barry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and an unnamed California teacher/blogger.
Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the political spectrum. It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.
And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful: the Left-Right Alliance, 132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core, the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core, Conservative Teachers of America, and over 1,100 New York professors.
These teachers have really, really done their homework.
I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.
Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:
“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards– all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line. It’s to generate data. Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”
Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection. His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)
“Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.
“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.
“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.
“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.
“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.
“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.
“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.
“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.
“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.
“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?
“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.
“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS… Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”
Read more here.
I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:
1- First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined. Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise, here.
2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.
In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.
Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?
The State School Board doesn’t think so.
Boiling down the conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?
1) - Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)
2) - The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.
Take some time. Think about it. We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.
Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.” And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit. This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.
“Data Quality Campaign” has many partners including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers! “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,” “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”
From the DQC’s site: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
Do you share that vision?
On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core) they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”
And Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges. Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data. http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf
Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?
But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”
So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:
DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test. (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)
American Institutes for Research will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.
(Why the nonacademic information too? Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)
Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills. But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.
Every state has a federally-invented SLDS: State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding). And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs. So did all the other states. It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.
We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him. Why keep him around at all?
The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.” This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”
The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)
Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data. In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.
But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.
Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.
Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened. Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.
The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)
The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.
I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”
Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.
Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!
It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information
Is this what we want for Utah?
Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.
To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.
This is not hyperbole. Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data. We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.
Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing. They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.
Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative
Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.
If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.
Utah State Board of Education
My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.
I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!
Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.
I do not use the word “evil” casually.
Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.
It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.
It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.
And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?
I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.
While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).
Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.
Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.
1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.
If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.
Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.
Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.
Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)
Not you and not me.
Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”
2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”
3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.
4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:
Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech
: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?
Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.
Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.
We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.
Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.
Updating with more letters 1-17-14
To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.
But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.
Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.
I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.
It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.
I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.
Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues
New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed
New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call
New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep
Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams
North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests
New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators
Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog
How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows
FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary
Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams
See Why and How Performance Assessment Works
Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System
Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests
North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests
Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers
Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses
Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly
Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing
Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills
Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)
“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule
It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!
However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.
Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.
It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.
Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.
Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”
Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.
Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:
“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.
I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.
At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:
Where is the evidence?
Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.
Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.
How will student data be used?
The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.
One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.
Why not a different approach?
Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?
For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.
… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.
While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders email@example.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt
Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.
I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.
Again, thanks for talking.
I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.
I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.
It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.
Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.
Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.
I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.
But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.
He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.
Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.
He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.
For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.
He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.
A positive attitude?
I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.
You have the power. Please remove him.
Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.
We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.
The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.
The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.
I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.
I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.
The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.
Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.
Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.
I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.
The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.
Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .
Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”
Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.
One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!
It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .
Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.
Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.
Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.
Thanks for listening.
Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!
First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.
Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.
Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.
Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.
I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.
Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.
Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)
Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.
Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.
Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”
“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”
Those are their words, not mine.
Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:
1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].
How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.
As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.
Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)
Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.
And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.
Thanks again for talking and listening.
Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.
I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.
I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.
As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.
Carol S. Moss, Utah legislator, caused a bit of a splash when she posted this photo of herself with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Facebook this week. Rep. Moss must have felt it was an honor to meet Mr. Duncan.
Some Utahns feel very differently.
If you don’t know much about your U.S. Secretary of Education, please learn about him.
1. In his own words: (speech) How Duncan and President Obama plan to increase the role of the federal government.
2. In his own words: what top-heavy controls Duncan has mandated for those states who were beneficiaries of the Race to the Top for the Assessments grant (SBAC and PARCC testing consortia members)
3. There is Duncan’s outrageous, official Department of Education “partnership” with the unelected, private D.C. club (CCSSO) that wrote and copyrighted the Common Core Standards –as well as the Common DATA standards. Yes, you read that right. Common Data Standards. The better to control you with, my dear.
4. In Duncan’s own words: what Duncan spun to the Society of American News Editors last June about student privacy and Common Core.
5. A letter– un-responded-to open letter to Secretary Duncan from teachers in Chicago.
6. Another letter –also un-responded-to – the open letter to Secretary Duncan from Democratic Senator Edward Markey about Duncan’s abuses of student data privacy.
Additional own research on Secretary Duncan’s “reforms”:
–Why Duncan made the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list
–The obvious lies of Arne Duncan about student privacy violations: “Spin it Like Duncan“
–Six sneaky moves that truly harm student privacy that Secretary Duncan has spearheaded
I don’t think many people could be aware of all of this and still feel good about posing for a picture with Secretary Duncan.
I do not think Rep. Moss is bad. I think she is naiive like virtually all our state education leaders. So few have even bothered to ask question one about Common Core’s origins, designs, price tag, experimentality, controlling governance system, and ultimate effects on children.
I’m going to paste Rep. Moss’s Facebook thread here. Decide for yourself whether we ought to be modeling admiration for this “reformer” as Rep. Moss has done, in front of children and other citizens. Or not.
REP. CAROL MOSS: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to Salt Lake City to see the remarkable success of Northwest Middle School and hear from their administrators, teachers, students, and parents about how they transformed Northwest from a low-achieving school with an at-risk population to one of Utah’s best middle schools. A major factor: a $2.3 million school improvement grant which provided additional resources needed to assist struggling students. Most important factor: Visionary administrators and dedicated, talented teachers. (Yes, I am short, but Sec. Duncan is verrrrry tall.) I wish every legislator had been there.
LISA CUMMINS (of Utahns Against Common Core): What a shameful picture! After what Mr. Duncan has said and done, to violate family privacy rights, what he has said about parents (and white suburban moms) and other things, this is not a proud moment for Utah Rep. Moss! I wonder, as does Heather Andrews Williamson, if data was sold for Mr. Duncan’s visit, as it was in California. If I was a parent who’s child was at Northwest, I’d pull my child out of that school as fast as I could! What a pariah!
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss: Your comments are insulting to all the great teachers, administrators and parents who are proud of the success of NW Middle School. They used the grant to help the students make great gains and change a school culture that did not create a great learning environment. They were proud to have Sec. Duncan visit their school and tout it as a public school success. I am sorry to hear such hateful comments about what was a celebratory occasion.
Christel Lane Swasey: Carol Moss, I have to defend Lisa Cummins. Arne Duncan has a history of lying to the American people. I’m sure he’s nice to his children and small animals, and I wish him a Merry Christmas, but he is not a good Secretary of Education nor is he a good example of one who upholds the Constitution or teacher’s autonomy. Lisa Cummins and others are trying to defend teachers’ rights, to defend students’ rights and to fight Duncan’s Common Core and related disaterous “reforms” that hurt us. Some may have felt Mr. Duncan’s visit was a celebratory occasion, but many do not. His painful reforms speak for themselves. We cannot pretend that “all is well in Zion” when it is not.
LISA CUMMINS: Carol, I am sorry you feel my comments are insulting. But I was in no way directing them to the parents, administrators, and especially the teachers. I believe that local control is best, and they do not need the head of education, a department which I see as unconstitutional, to come to give them praise! Seeing their children succeed is of course, great to see. However with Mr. Duncan coming to our State, into our schools, coming close to our children concerns me a great deal!
This man has limited my and other parents authority over our kids’ data by his editing of FERPA laws, two years ago this month. He had the laws edited without Congressional approval or oversight, sighting that shareholders needed to be able to have access when necessary. That getting parental approval was ‘optimal or best practice’.
As our Representative, I would hope that you would support parents’ rights and the privacy of our children, and not be proud to celebrate with a man who seeks to take these away. If Utah is going to retain local control we cannot take handouts and the strings that are attached. There are better ways and people have succeeded with much less.
I hope you will respect my concerns of Arnie Duncan and protecting my and others’ children.
Christel, thank you for standing beside me!
SARAH FELT: I agree with Lisa and Christel. His visit is not something I would be proud of. Yes, be proud of NW school’s accomplishments. (Which by the way she did not attack.) And I would still like to know if what Lisa brought up is true here in Utah also. Was our student data bartered for just like in California? That question was not answered by you. I, as a parent, do not feel it justified to have my child’s personal data sold, particularly without my express consent, not for any amount of money for any potential educational “gain”. You mentioned that NW accepted a grant. What were the terms and conditions of that grant? Are all the parents aware of those conditions? Was there full disclosure?
LeNell Hancock Heywood: Arne Duncan is not a celebrity. The teachers are the true heroes! We need less bureaucrats and more teachers so that class sizes are smaller.
Dr. Gary Thompson of the Utah-based Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center traveled to Wisconsin to testify about the damages of Common Core to the Wisconsin Legislature.
You can watch his whole testimony by clicking here.
Below is a lively commentary by Dr. Thompson about his reasons for testifying boldly against Common Core both as a father and as a clinical psychologist.
Our Kids Are Bigger Than You: Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Common Core Legislative Testimony
by Dr. Gary Thompson
“All students are expected to participate in the state accountability system with only a few exceptions, as noted below. This principle of full participation includes EL students, students with an IEP, and students with a Section 504 plan…. The IEP, EL, Section 504, EL with disabilities, and EL on Section 504 team cannot exempt a student from the statewide testing requirements.”
-Utah State Office Of Education, 2013-14 Testing accomodations policy
Part I: Pre Hearing, or, My Motivations for Professional Suicide
On October 12, 2013, “a person in a position of influence” called from Wisconsin and asked if I would like to participate as an expert witness in the State of Wisconsin’s “War against Common Core.”
He obviously did not have that much influence, because my response was a quick, “Thank you, but hell, no.”
Education leadership, both at the local and national levels, is talented at turning any movements geared towards change into politically-based personal warfare.
I had already attempted to fight this battle in Utah and did not wish to engage in it any further.
But then an interview, featuring my teenage daughter and her battle to drop an AP class that was exacerbating her anxiety, appeared in our local newspaper:
“Utah Father Had To Fight To Have Daughter Drop A Class“.
After reading over 50 ignorant and cruel comments directed toward my daughter —many of which were made by (alleged) current educators/administrators in Utah—I simply could not take it anymore.
Now, I generally have a pretty thick skin. Although I currently do not practice clinical psychology in any licensed form, I am a licensed – eligible trained clinician with over 5,000 documented clinical training hours (11,000 hours total). Part of that training revolves around maintaining a healthy professional distance from highly emotional situations. But these people were attacking my child. And they didn’t even know her!
Prior to my daughter’s situation with her school, I had given up all thoughts of future participation regarding Utah’s education reform. Politicians, educators, and parents had decided the current path of Common Core-based education was just fine for their constituents and their children. My response to that was basically, “Good for you. Have fun with that… I’m out.”
My focus would be on my work, my wife and my children. I felt relief.
To hell with the State of Utah.
To hell with the Common Core movement.
It was not my problem anymore. My kids were “safe.”
Wisconsin’s education issues? Not my problem either.
But after my daughter’s school decided to play hardball over what should have been a relatively simple decision and total strangers decided to weigh in with their opinions on my daughter’s character, my wife received the following e-mail from a professor at the University of Wisconsin:
Dear Dr. Frances Thompson:
I write to thank you sincerely for understanding why it is imperative that Gary testify against Common Core in the state of Wisconsin on 23 October 2013.
Common Core will put our most vulnerable students at risk, and is especially destructive to special needs children. We have already seen the damage done to these students by programs like No Child Left Behind, which in reality left behind many of our poorest and most needy students, especially minority students.
The problems with No Child Left Behind are magnified significantly with Common Core, and the high stakes testing and one size fits all approach to education will wreak irreparable harm for a whole new generation of special needs kids.
We have invited anumber of specialists in Math and Science and English to testify about the data and explain to our state senatorial committee why Common Core is bad education, bad pedagogy, and bad for teachers and students in general These committed scholars will provide raw numbers and make academic arguments.
Gary’s gift –beyond his credentials and professionalism–lies in putting a human face on these kids for the committee, humanizing a problem that is all too often viewed in terms of statistics and dollars, and championing with great compassion those who have no voice of their own in this battle for our children’s futures. In the final analysis, this is what matters most, and without Gary our case is merely mechanical.
I cannot guarantee that Gary’s testimony will be the blow that turns back Common Core in Wisconsin. But I do know that without him, our case is weakened. I understand the hardship his absence will cause your family in the short term, but I also believe that Gary’s advocacy for thousands and thousands of school children in Wisconsin will bless them and his family in the long run. We would be extremely grateful to you for enduring his absence for a short period of time on behalf of the people of Wisconsin.
Thank you very much,
Dr. Duke Pesta
Professor of English
University of Wisconsin
That simple, humble plea from someone who has dedicated his life to teaching our nation’s young adults affected me deeply.
I decided I had to go to Wisconsin.
I also decided that if I went, I wanted to be effective. I am not an effective public speaker. I speak slowly, and I stammer sometimes when my brain processes information faster than I can speak.
It is my disability, and going to Wisconsin would display it to the world. However, if my teenager had the courage to display her “disability” to the world, I did not care if I stuttered and stammered like an uneducated idiot on crack on live television for two hours for the world to see. I was going.
Part II: Preparation, or, Ensuring That My Professional Suicide Is Effective
That meant I had to condense a very complex issue down to a few key points and hammer them home with the force of my convictions. I also had to communicate in a way that would resonate with conservatives and liberals of all cultures.
I also had to prepare myself for those who seek to destroy reputations and self-esteem. People entrenched in the political and education machines of either party will go to great lengths to keep the status quo. I knew the facts of what I would testify to would be indisputable. However, I had to find a way to blunt the comments of those who would seek to make this about politics,religion, as opposed to what was in the best interest of the children or myself.
My theme was simply going to be this: “You are not bigger than the children.”
It was this thought that came to mind when what I feared the most occurred during the very first question of the hearing from a Senate Democrat Lehman. It was not about the issues, but about the money.
Politics and money have to take a backseat to the best interests of the children in order for education to be effective. Ironically, the comments directed towards my family and my daughter in the Tribune served as a training ground for the upcoming testimony. I read every of those vile attacks in preparation. I was more than prepared for “straw man” attacks.
The “Core” Of the Issue: Testing — the Ultimate Trojan Horse
The November 13, 2013 issue of Wired magazine published an article titled, “How A Radical New Teaching Method Could Unlock A Generation of Geniuses”.
I found it by accident on the plane to Wisconsin. Here are some excerpts that hit home:
“…the dominant model of public school education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when work places valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else.” (P.159).
“…we don’t openly profess those values nowadays, but our educational system—which routinely tests kids on their ability to recall information and demonstrate a master of narrow skill sets— doubles down on the view that students are material to be processed.” (P.160).
I found that I could not focus on research articles on the subject at hand, but was drawn to read the hundreds of letters and texts I have received from parents around the country whose children have been victimized, some permanently, by a education system that values conformity over the common sense and expertise of the parent.
I then made the decision to use these letters as my motivation, but to keep the issue simple. I have always advised “professional” activists to focus less on the political or religious aspects that may or may not be associated with the Common Core. Trying to convince a group of Democrat lawmakers that President Obama is a socialist from Kenya who is undergoing mind control from the Chicago Political Machine did not make sense to me as a Doctor. If the goal was to stop Common Core, then my plan was to relentlessly attack their “Trojan Horse,” which was the test itself.
So in the 20 minutes of… testimony, the following points were hammered home:
1. Despite misleading reports from State Superintendents from Utah and Wisconsin regarding how well Core Tests have been “pilot tested”, it was indisputable that the FINAL version of the Core test (complete with its most experimental component of “adaptability”) would never be properly tested, evaluated and “tweaked” in a transparent manner by independent experts prior to our children taking the tests in 2014-2015.
2. With that fact in mind, the only reasonable conclusion was that our children were being used as research guinea pigs under the direction and approval of our respective State Superintendents. (See Dr. Thompson and Attorney Ed Flint’s Letter To Utah Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martell Menlove: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dr-thompsons-letter-to-superintendent-menlove/)
3. We have over 50 years of peer reviewed data showing psychology’s struggles of measuring “achievement” as well as cognitive potential (I.Q.) of African American, Latino, ADHD, Autistic, Dual Exceptional, and children diagnosed with specific learning disabilities.
The SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), the group that the federal government paid hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate the production of these tests, proudly proclaimed on their web pages that they have basically solved this problem. My exact words were, “SBAC has just announced to the world that they have created the ‘Holy Grail’ of Achievement Tests.” That feat is kind of hard to perform if no validation studies have been performed.
4. I compared and contrasted the extreme difference between the ways children were tested/evaluated in the private clinical psychology sector, versus the current way proposed by the U.S. Department of Education via the SBAC. Professionals in clinical psychology have learned through a 100-year history of well-documented testing abuse in America to put into place restraints to ensure the safety of our children. Common Core testing policies arrogantly ignored each and every one of these.
5. We need to stop our obsessive focus on measuring WHAT our children havel earned and focus on utilizing neuropsychology technologies available that can now measure with great accuracy HOW a child’s brain processes information (PASS Theory, Naglieri, 2008).
6. Professional recommendation: Stop Common Core testing.
7. Recommendation as a father: Don’t let your kids take the test.
Part III: The Night Before: Fearless or Foolish?
I did not sleep the entire night before the Hearing. The enormity of what I was about the say to the entire country, and the probable consequences for engaging in this form of idiocy against the “machine” weighed heavily on my mind. It is one thing for a father to get ticked off at a local high school’s treatment of his daughter and have that anger on display in a mid-market newspaper.
It’s a entire different ballgame for a Black dude to get up in front of 17 of the State of Wisconsin’s lawmakers with cameras rolling and tell them that the most significant piece of the U.S. Department of Education’s signature education reform in the history of the nation… was simply made up.
If that was not enough, I was going to tell them this piece of legislation that came through under their watch, as currently constituted, has a very high statistical chance of harming millions of children while the “kinks” get worked out. Indeed, they would be initiating “cognitive child abuse.”
Unlike the Affordable Care Act, whose rocky start has been chronicled by both liberal and conservative media outlets, if Common Core displays similar problems, a generation of children will not be able to take advantage of the power that higher education bestows. Ironically, the group of children of Black and Latino descent stand to suffer at the hands of the nation’s first African American President. Even more ironic was the fact that I campaigned for the President with my daughter.
Mark Twain famously penned, “There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics.”
The education machine was caught without a significant form of statistical validity proof showing that the Common Core tests will actually work on a significant population of children.
The solution for the education machines problem? Make something up. Publish the imaginary statistics. Call the Doctor an idiot. Move on.
When Utah’s Superintendent of Schools Martell Menlove was confronted with the same exact proof that Common Core tests will be nothing more than an experimentation that will most likely harm tens of thousands of vulnerable children in Utah, he responded to the masses with a letter from the Test Designer (American Institute of Research) that is still posted on the Utah State Office of Education website.
After the powers to be from the powerful AIR test development group devoted a page-and-a-half of weak attempts to debunk solid concerns surrounding privacy issues of testing, my concerns were addressed in a single paragraph. The response from the V.P. of AIR can be roughly translated as, “Trust me.”
“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at: http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf.
Part V: Aftermath, or, What’s Next?
…Suffice to say, I do not feel that I am a hero or a role model. Heroes and role models do the right thing, regardless of consequences, because of a well-formed sense of right and wrong based on well-developed principles.
Me? Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education sent down a bunch of unproven education policies that harmed not one, but two of my children over the past two years. I went to Wisconsin because I was a rage-filled dad. I was a father who was able to tap into a Doctoral level education as well as his “inner A-Hole.” The e-mail sent to my wife by Professor Pesta was influential in my decision, but it was not what fueled my passion. Nelson Mandela I am not.
A parent wrote me last night and asked if I was going to send a copy of this treatise along with the clip of my testimony to the very same Utah Board of Education that ignored my public pleas as a father. I did not respond at the time, but here is my emphatic reply: No.
With a few clicks of a mouse on Google, interested parties, parents, and activist groups can find close to 100 pages of my written opinions, multiple video testimonies, and radio/television interviews. There is nothing more to say.
I did, however, hire a publicist yesterday after my cell phone started ringing off the hook with media requests and my Facebook page filled up with everything from a marriage proposal, to a guy in Georgia who called me a “House Negro.” My days of putting myself out there via attempts to reform public school education are over. It appears from the size of her operation that Julie Jakob of Jakob Marketing Partners does not need a business plug from me, but perhaps it may save our clinic some money when the first invoice arrives (http://www.jakobmp.com).
In addition to answering inquiries and protecting the brand of my wife’s clinic that may come under siege because her husband “lost his mind”, I will be using this firm to assist those without means to obtain the state-of-the-art services my wife’s educational psychology clinic offers. Jakob Marketing Partners will be responsible for touting a future webpage/link that will solicit donations from this community to help children whose families are not otherwise in a position to help them.
In 2014, we will be proud to announce the formation of the “Booker-Dewey Early Life Scholarship Foundation” which will be the vehicle for securing funds for those children in Utah with unique learning disabilities to obtain services not offered in public schools.
The scholarship is named after two highly influential people in my life. The first is my recently deceased grandmother, Lizzette Booker. While living in the sticks of West Virginia without plumbing, she raised two African-American daughters who obtained college degrees. She also obtained one herself when she was 70 years old. John Dewey is a former classmate of mine who saved my life during a difficult time during my long journey to obtain my doctorate degree. You would not be reading this letter if it was not for either of them. Their legacy will ensure that the lives of at least some vulnerable children in the States of Utah and California will be able to take advantage of the talents of the next generation of clinical psychologists. I placed emphasis on the word “next” because my time at the clinic needs to come to an end.
I have a three-year-old that is (still) waiting for her dad to help her learn to “poop in the potty”.
I also need to contribute my time and talents to the “Booker-Dewey Foundation”. Someone sent me a message two days ago stating that there is a book about Common Core on Amazon that apparently is making profit off the fruits of my many interesting journeys as a reluctant “activist.” I figure I could probably do the book thing better, since they were my experiences. All proceeds will be donated to the Foundation. I would encourage you all reading this to “Like”the Clinic’s Facebook page so you can be informed of future developments of the foundation and the upcoming e-book.
Thank you, State of Wisconsin, for this opportunity. Please remember and practice the mantra, “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Why? Because “They are not bigger than your children.”
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Director of Clinical Training and Community Advocacy Services
Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Inc.
Thank you, Dr. Thompson.
Jenni White, cofounder of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (R.O.P.E.) is a remarkable mother of five who writes research papers on ed reform with her children at the kitchen table, runs the organization of R.O.P.E., writes a lively education reform blog, creates videos, and also finds time to go (or sends a friend) to monitor each public meeting of the state department of education. Jenni’s videos, essays, memes, and white paper research are exceptional.
She’s very smart, and she’s very, very funny!
Attending the state meetings allowed Jenni/R.O.P.E. to discover (and share) that Oklahoma (like all 50 states) tracks students in a State Longitudinal Database. Attending meetings is also how Jenni and R.O.P.E. realized that Common Core was a network of corporate collusion that uses taxpayers and schools for their gigantic, uniform market base. Reading countless government documents and contracts added to the knowledge base, and now, R.O.P.E.’s website teaches the general population of Oklahoma vital, little-known facts about state and federal education reforms that are hurting children, teachers and taxpayers.
She puts a lot of fun into the dysfunction of education reform, with blogposts like “What Would Einstein Think of Common Core?” or “Critical Thinking and the Common Core – Snake Oil Salesmanship At Its Best!” or “The Dirty Little Secret of Common Core” or “Jeb Bush’s Common Core Valentine.”
She has given permission to repost her writing. Here’s a favorite:
WHAT WOULD EINSTEIN THINK OF COMMON CORE?
I commented on an article today regarding Michigan’s attempts to shake free from the Common Core. Many of the comments came from sadly misinformed individuals who seem to believe that “common” is good and anything to which a large number of others subscribe must amount to some kind of awe-inspiring notion, spawning my concern that none apparently had mothers like mine, who constantly queried, “If Mary was going to jump off a bridge, would you?”
One man began his comment with this, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)
This thought captured my imagination thoroughly. I have been blessed to know a man named Dr. Everett Piper, the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I love to hear him discuss the horrors of Common Core from a philosophical perspective, not only because he is such an excellent orator, but because people tend to forget the philosophical point of view – the notion that ideas shape the human condition and ideas reduced to commonalities do not advance the human condition.
The best opponents of Common Core predicate their arguments on fact – in stark opposition to proponents who tend to use half-truths and lies upon which to base their case – but the philosophy behind our Common Core concerns are palpable and real and I believe we need to advance these arguments at least as often as we tout our facts.
In this thought, I penned the following response:
The Common Core State Standards were written by several individuals – without education degrees I might add – who then, knowing national standards are against federal law, sent them out through a private organization – Achieve – to the nation’s governors and superintendents with the promise of federal money waiting in the wings – 500 BILLION dollars through Race to the Top – if they adopted them for their state sight unseen. It happened here in Oklahoma exactly as it happened in Michigan and all other adopting states.
Granted, the term “Common” was used to mean ubiquitous, however, another meaning for “Common” is the OPPOSITE of “individual”, which begs the question: How in the world can America continue to be seen as the most innovative country in the world when states fully intend to collaboratively adopt standards to “commonize” all students across all states?
How do you INCREASE student knowledge levels by pulling successful students down to the level of the ‘common’?
Are there really that many low performing students in every school in every state in the nation that we need to stop everything to bring them up to the ‘common’ level of each class?
Do we bring down 25 kids for 1 kid or even 6 kids in a class?
If so, then what are we doing to the other 21?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we’re dumbing them down – there is no other characterization possible – and we can’t scream “civil rights” for those at the bottom without inquiring about the “civil rights” of the individuals in the majority being pulled down.
For those of you in the Chamber of Commerce sect, how do you convince a company to come to Michigan when your students will be taught in a thoroughly homogenous way, forcing out uniqueness, drive and imagination – the very qualities necessary to produce the Einstein’s and Edison’s of this world?
How well do you think Einstein would fair with the Common Core?
Do you think we would have had a Theory of Relativity with the Common Core…well silly question…of course we would – the Common Core is nothing if not ‘relative’ among every state and every child.
Common Core is what it is – nonsense dreamed up by well-connected philanthropists (Carnegie, Broad, etc) and innovator/billionaires such as Bill Gates, with a dollar to be made in the education “industry”.
I hope no one escapes the irony imbued in the fact that these people who worked and scrapped and sacrificed to make their dreams reality – who reached the pinnacle of success by truly innovating in America – suddenly seem to forget that the great thing about America – the thing that gave them the ability to get to the top – was the variety inherent in every aspect of the American condition – the FREEDOM to receive the best education one could seek out from the very variety contained within.
Thank you, Jenni White.
Yay! Click on the link for the text/t.v. clip, showing students, teachers and parents who rallied at the Utah State Office of Education today to protest Common Core.
The Federal government is altering America and shrinking liberty so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with all the destruction. Much of it is connected to education reforms.
There’s the removal of local control of education via Common Core tests/standards. There’s the removal of parental consent via the 50 federally placed (paid-for) State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS and P-20) which track all children and from which no student can opt out. There’s Obamacare and its mandate to support abortion, and its related plot to increase the numbers of medical facilities that are in public schools. There’s the IRS/FBI assault on privacy, which violates our Constitutional right not to be subject to unlawful searches and seizures and which plays in to the SLDS/P-20 tracking. There’s Obama’s ConnectEd Initiative, which taxes phone bills to pay for Common Core testing technology nationally, regardless of how any of us feel about the unvetted Common Core. But all of this is old news.
Today I learned that Obama is “redesigning” all high schools.
Here’s the link. http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-redesigning-americas-high-schools
In part, the redesigning will “promote a rethinking of the high school learning experience” by using more “student-centered learning,” using more “wrap-around support services,” provide “career-related competencies,” doing “project-or-problem-based learning” do “structured work-based learning,” “redesigning school calendars,” and “expanding a comprehensive system of student support.”
It’s central planning. The “wraparound support services” were described by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the interview below. Arne wants 6-7 days a week of school. He wants schools to be the center of society, rather than families being the center of society. He is a socialist.
Are we all?
In today’s Deseret News opinion piece, Matt Sanders makes the observation that similar, disturbing trends make the National Security Administration’s actions and the Department of Education’s actions snooping mirror images of each other. These trends are First Amendment violations, government overreach, and cradle to grave data tracking. The article also makes the point that on the local level, the Utah State Office of Education has provided no legal or operational assurances of student data privacy, although the USOE is quick to offer verbal assurances and to “soothe fears of ever more federalism by labeling opponents as detractors and alarmists.”
Sanders also writes:
“…[A]nother problematic revelation has roiled Washington, D.C. This time it goes beyond snooping around journalists looking for a scoop. It involves the National Security Administration collecting phone data on of Verizon customers.
This is a problem. A real problem. The U.S. federal government derives its power through the consent of the governed through a system of duly elected representatives acting as agents for their local populations. Additionally, the Constitution goes to great lengths to curb the tendency of government to overreach its bounds, and therefore set up a system of checks and balances.
… In light of the federal agency’s incursions, parents and lawmakers should likewise revisit the data privacy standards in Common Core testing approach… While Utah State Office of Education (USOE) officials verbally assured community members that they should not be concerned, they’ve provided no such assurance legally or operationally.”
Read the whole article: http://reframingthedebate.blogs.deseretnews.com/2013/06/06/3-reasons-why-nsa-snooping-worries-parents-and-lawmakers/
He was very gracious and I appreciated his willingness to answer questions.
I asked him if he could verify the information I’d received from the state school board, that the reason that a Utah student is not able to opt out of the SLDS tracking system, is because of limitations of technology.
( I had received that idea from the state school board: “Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.”
But Jerry Winkler told me that it’s not a technology limitation.
“It’s a policy question,” he said, and directed me to inquire further about the policy from Carol Lear, the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education.
I shuddered. I know more than I want to about Carol Lear, the top U.S.O.E. lawyer. Just FYI: Carol Lear told me last year that since “the whole point is to be common” — it was of no importance that there’s no amendment process to Common Core. She also told me she believed a cost analysis had been done on Common Core in Utah, when there had not –and still has not. She displayed zero respect for the 10th Amendment and the General Educational Provisions Act. and told me that she had never heard of the Cooperative Agreement and she thought it was a hoax. Finally, she refused to respond to further questions and told me to go talk the the public relations department. With no sense of valiance in defending states’ rights, would Lear balk at caving in to any request the federal Dept. of Education made of Utah?
Back to today:
I asked Jerry Winkler how compliant our state has been, so far, to the requests from the federal government at the Data Quality Campaign and the National Data Collection Model, those federal websites which request hundreds of non-academic data points about children from schools (including nicknames, family, voting, income, health and psychological information, etc.)
He verfied that Utah does submit information gathered by schools to the federal government, but assured me that right now, Utah is giving only aggregated (grouped) information to the federal government (He verified that this takes place at the portal called the Edfacts Exchange )
Winkler said that right now, Utah is keeping dis-aggregated data (personally identifiable data) inside the state at the SLDS database.
“Who or what would change that?” I asked, “At what point will Utah give in to federal requests to give up disaggregated (personal) data to the federal government, as well? Who makes the call to be more “compliant” with the federal requests?
Carol Lear, he said. She is the one who would make the call.
Jerry Winkler also told me he believed that students could opt out of being tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System at the local LEA level, but if the data was entered by the LEA, it would automatically be sent to the SLDS and Utah Data Alliance, at which point opting out would end.
I had not heard this. I will be asking my LEA how to accomplish that.
He had not heard of it.
Click link here to see which congressmen have cosigned. http://massie.house.gov/sites/massie.house.gov/files/documents/commoncore.pdf (THANK YOU CONGRESSMAN CHAFFETZ!)
April 20, 2013
The Honorable Arne Duncan Secretary U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan,
As you know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allows Congress to authorize and allocate funding for public K-12 education and, most importantly, is the primary vehicle in which we implement education policy reform. Most recently reauthorized through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the ESEA’s authorization expired on September 30, 2008, and has yet to be reauthorized. Since the ESEA’s expiration, the Department of Education (Department) has moved forward with education policy reform without Congressional input. Such action is, at best, in contravention with precedent.
In addition to expressing our concern with the Department’s circumvention of Congress to reform education policy, we are writing you to express our concerns with the implementation of Common Core standards and changes to federal data collection and disbursement policies.
In 2009, forty-six governors signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Governor’s Association committing their states to the development and adoption of new education standards within three years. As we understand it, states then had the option of adopting Common Core standards or creating their own equivalent standards. At the time, Common Core standards were simply an idea where states would collaborate to create uniformed education standards. Details about Common Core were not only unknown to the states, they did not exist. From there, your department offered Race To The Top (RTTT) grants and NCLB waivers to states under the condition that each state would implement “college and career ready” standards. At the time, the only “college and career ready” standards with the Department’s approval were Common Core.
In addition to serious concerns we have regarding the Department’s aforementioned coercion of states to opt-in to Common Core standards, many of which were and continue to have serious budgetary issues and specific issues with existing education policies, we have become increasingly concerned over the development of the Common Core standards themselves. Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, Common Core standards, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort. In just one very troubling instance, Common Core standards will replace state-based standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government. The long-term, annual administering of the exams, the cost of which has not been specified by the Department, is to be funded by the states.
As representatives from states across the nation, we understand the diverse cultures and state-specific education needs that exist in America. We believe that state-driven education policy is vital to the success of our children and that Members of Congress can best demonstrate the specific needs of their constituents. As with most one-size-fits-all policies, Common Core standards fail to address these needs.
As you know, because states opted-in to Common Core standards, there is little Congress can do to provide any relief from these burdensome and misguided standards. Instead, the ability to opt-out of these standards lies with the state. With that in mind, we will be working with our respective state legislatures and governors to provide relief to our education systems. In the meantime, we urge you to work with Members of Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in a manner that allows state-specific education needs to be addressed.
Separate from reauthorization, we are extremely concerned over recent changes your department has made to the manner in which the federal government collects and distributes student data.
As you know, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was signed into law in 1974, guaranteeing parental access to student education records and limiting their disclosure to third parties. FERPA was intended to address parents’ growing privacy concerns and grant parental access to the information schools use to make decisions that impact their children.
Once again circumventing Congress, in 2011 your agency took regulatory action to alter definitions within FERPA. With the technological advances that have occurred in recent years, changes to FERPA deserve the full scrutiny of the legislative process more so than ever before.
In addition, we understand that as a condition of applying for RTTT grant funding, states obligated themselves to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students by obtaining personally identifiable information.
_ Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03)
Did you watch the Deseret News live feed of the Davis District meeting tonight?
I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.
I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked. She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless. It’s tragic. I feel almost sorry for her.
What makes me say this?
One example: When parents asked about the data collection issue she seemed to be blissfully unaware that the Utah State Longitudinal Database System collects personally identifiable information on every student –without parental consent and without any opt-out alternative.
“There’s federal laws. There’s all the protection in the world,” she said, and added a little simile:
As banks can’t give away your money, databases can’t give away your personally identifiable information, she said.
– Does she not know that there’s a huge lawsuit going on right now because the Department of Education has loosened and ruined privacy regulations so entirely that parental consent has been reduced from a legal requirement to an optional “best practice”??
– Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?
– Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?
– Has she not seen the hundreds of data points that the federal government is “inviting” states to collect and share on students at the National Data Collection Model?
– Has she never studied the Utah Data Alliance and the Data Quality Campaign?
– Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?
– Does she not know that state FERPA is protective and good, but federal FERPA is utterly worthless because of what the Dept. of Education has done?
Ms. Park said:
“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,” and: “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”
Dear Ms. Park! I wish I could believe you.
But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect. He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe. But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.
Why don’t our leaders study this stuff? Why, why?
Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing. It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education. Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education? Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.
I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.
This portion is reposted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.
I’m mortified at USOE.
I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, ” we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”
Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, ect) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I here one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glen Beck appearance look like minor league.
It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.
Their response over a week later?
Not even a thank you note….and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.
How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (out new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.
Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.
God bless you.
— — —
Please, if you live in Uintah District, attend the meeting about the Common Core (AIR/SAGE) tests to be presented by the USOE on
April 25, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Maeser Training Center 1149 North 2500 West Vernal,UT 84078 USA
- Does every state have a federally funded, interoperable State Longitudinal Database System that tracks people throughout their lives? Yes.
Every state has accepted 100% federally funded data collection (SLDS). The Data Quality Campaign
states: “every governor
and chief state school officer has agreed to build statewide longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early childhood through K-12 and postsecondary ed and into the workforce as a condition for receiving
State Fiscal Stabilization Funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). A condition of getting the funding (ARRA money) was that the system would be interoperable
- Is the SLDS accessible by the federal government? Yes.
The SLDS grant
explains that the SIF (state interoperability framework) must provide interoperability from LEA to LEA, from LEA to Postsecondary, from LEA to USOE, and from USOE to the EdFacts Data Exchange.
The EdFacts Data Initiative
is a “centralized portal through which states submit data
to the Department of Education.”
The P-20 workforce council exists inside states to track citizens starting in preschool, and to “forge organizational and technical bonds and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions” for stakeholders both in and outside Utah. — http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
Is personally identifiable student information gathered, or only aggregate group data? Personal, identifiable, individual data is collected.
- Many of us in Utah were present last summer when UT technology director John Brandt stood up in the senate education committee and testified that there are roughly twelve people in the state of Utah who have access to the personally identifiable information of students which is available in the Utah Data Alliances inter-agency network of student data. So it is not true that we are talking about only aggregate data, which leaders often insist. The Utah School Board confirmed to me in writing, also, that it is not allowed for any student to opt out of the P-20/ SLDS/ UDA tracking system, (which we know is K-workforce (soon to include preschool) citizen surveillance.)
- Is the collected private student data accessible to agencies beyond than state education agency? Yes:
There are state data alliances that connect agencies. The Data Quality Campaign states: “states must ensure that as they build and enhance state K–12 longitudinal data systems, they also continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce (P–20/workforce) and with other critical agencies, such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”
- What data will be collected? According to the new FERPA regulations, pretty much anything. Social security numbers, psychometric and biometric information (see pg. 4 and 6) are not off the table. According to the National Data Collection model, over 400 points. Jenni White mentioned another federal model that asks for thousands of data points.
- How does this affect parents?
Data linking changes being made in regulations and policies
make former privacy protection policies meaningless. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sued the Dept. of Education
, under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing that the Dept. of Ed’s regulations that changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in Dec. 2011 exceeded the Department of Education’s authority and are contrary to law
The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that it is not now a necessity for a school to get student or parental consent any longer before sharing personally identifiable information; that has been reduced to the level of optional.
“It is a best practice to keep the public informed when you disclose personally identifiable information from education records.” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf
Dec. 2011 regulations, which the Dept. of Education made without Congressional approval and for which they are now being sued by EPIC, literally loosen, rather than strengthen, parental consent rules and other rules. http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=5aa4af34-8e67-4f42-8e6b-fe801c512c7a
The Federal Register of December 2011 outlines the Dept. of Education’s new, Congressionally un-approved regulations, that decrease parental involvement and increase the number of agencies that have access to private student data: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-02/pdf/2011-30683.pdf (See page 52-57)
Although the Federal Register describes countless agencies, programs and “authorities” that may access personally identifiable student information, it uses permissive rather than mandatory language. The obligatory language comes up in the case of the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and the states’ testing consortium http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
Effectively, there is no privacy regulation governing schools anymore, on the federal level. Khalia Barnes, a lawyer at EPIC disclosed that these privacy intrusions affect not only children, but anyone who ever attended any college or university (that archives records, unless it is a privately funded university.)
- Why did the Dept. of Ed need to alter FERPA regulations?
To match their data collection goals (stated in the Dept. of Ed cooperative agreement with testing consortia) which contracts with testing consortia to mandate triangulation of tests and collected data. This federal supervision is illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment). http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
- Who can access collected data?
The National Data Collection Model
(the federal request for what states ought to be collecting) represents 400 data points schools should collect and “it is a comprehensive, non-proprietary inventory… that can be used by schools, LEAs, states, vendors, and researchers”.
Vendors are already using this
- How can we get free of this system?
has provided expert testimony about the student data collection
, but has also said that an educational data monopoly is an issue, too. She explains that a group exists, including Bing, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., that assigns high or low attention to content and directs internet traffic. So if code uses hashtags and common core aligned taxonomies, your education data will get traffic. If not, it won’t. If you are searching for any educational data it won’t come up unless it’s using that coded taxonomy. This wrecks net neutrality and is, in her educated opinion, an anti-trust issue
of the internet. She mentioned the CEDS, (common element data system) that is ending net neutrality. She also finds appalling the Learning Registry
, funded by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education, which is a place for teachers to advertise for common core aligned products– all using stimulus money.
- Why did the Dept. of Ed redefine FERPA’s meaning of the term “educational agency” to include virtually any agency and redefine “authorized representative” to mean virtually anyone, even a “school volunteer?
When FERPA is weak, linking of data allows easy access to data, both technologically and in terms of legal policy. It also trumps other laws, such as HIPPA. For example, as both Gary Thompson and Jenni White have pointed out, the new, weak FERPA law takes precedence over HIPPA (patient privacy) when medical or psychological services are provided in schools or when educational services are provided in jails.
In that document, states are obligated to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis,” to give status reports, phone conferences and other information, and must synchronize tests “across consortia”. This triangulation nationalizes the testing system and puts the federal government in the middle of the data collecting program.
For understanding of the motivation of the federal government, read some of US Dept. of Education Arne Duncan’s or Obama’s speeches that show the passion with which the federal agency seeks access to data to control teachers and educational decisions. http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.pdf
- Are teachers also to be studied like guinea pigs, along with students? Yes.
The Common Core of Data (CCD)
is another federal program of data collection that studies TEACHERS as well as students. It calls itself “a program of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that annually collects fiscal and non-fiscal data about all public schools, public school districts and state education agencies in the United States. The data are supplied by state education agency officials and include information that describes schools and school districts, including name, address, and phone number; descriptive information about students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.” http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/
- How does Common Core relate to the federal and corporate data collection movement?
Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss at the Dept. of Education has been publicly quoted saying that “data-mashing” is a good idea. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gives speeches calling for “more robust data.” And at the recent White House Datapalooza
, the CEO of eScholar stated that without Common Core tests being “the glue” for open data
, this data movement would be impossible.
There may be someone in America who has studied the education data collection scheme more than Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Public Education. But I haven’t found that person. Here’s a video interview that Alisa, Renee and I filmed with Jenni this week.
What is the State Longitudinal Database System?
Why does every state track every citizen with the SLDS?
What is the P20 system?
Why did the federal government pay every state many millions to build the system?
Why did they require states to build interoperable systems if they were not to share data outside the state?
How do schools, prisons, hospitals and military agencies now share data?
Is this really just career path assistance or is it citizen surveillance?
Stop Common Core
Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013
A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.
In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.
There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.
It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.
One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.
But this is changing dramatically.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.
Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.
Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.
The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.
The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.
COMMON CORE HISTORY:
The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.
Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.
In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.
He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.
The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.
We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.
Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.
States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.
We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.
Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis
One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.
While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.
But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.
Gulliver’s Second String:
The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems
The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.
Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.
I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?
The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.
There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?
So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.
The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.
We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.
Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All
The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.
Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.
Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.
I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”
Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.
There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.
So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:
Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing
The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.
There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.
Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.
Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.
Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.
Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:
David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation
The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.
Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.
It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.
Does this differ from actual book burning?
It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )
David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
• No more cursive.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.
Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math
The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.
Gulliver’s Seventh String:
Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights
• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)
Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.
Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy
The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.
But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.
When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html
While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)
In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.
I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”
The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )
Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:
Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.
Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.
We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.
The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.
Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.
Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.
There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.
We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.
Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it. Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.
Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
—– —– —–
Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert 801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov
State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org“
Utah State Superintendent: email@example.com
Assistant Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov
Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035
Stuart C. Reid email@example.com“
Patricia W. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark B. Madsen email@example.com“
Wayne L. Niederhauser firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Osmond – email@example.com
Howard A. Stephenson firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry W. Stevenson – :email@example.com
Stephen H. Urquhart – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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”.
SLDS means: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
SLDS is a citizen tracking program, and a grant program, that rewards states financially for participating. It’s also called P-20, which stands for preschool through age 20 (workforce) tracking. I see citizen tracking as creepy and Orwellian. What do you see?
The federal website shows, here– http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html — that SLDS was presented as a financial prize to states, a grant, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It sounded good, but in reality, its purpose –besides the uneven redistributing of taxpayers’ money– is to track citizens (students).
The assumption was that everyone everywhere would approve of citizen tracking and would want to be tracked. A secondary assumption is that the government’s holding detailed, intimate information about its citizens would never be used against anybody wrongly, and that none of this has nothing to do with constitutional rights to privacy. (For more on that, click here: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/rightofprivacy.html )
I highlighted the first element of data to be collected because it speaks about PII, personally identifiable information. PII can be a name, a social security number, a blood sample, handwriting sample, a fingerprint, or almost anything else. The fact that the government included “except as permitted by federal/state law” is VERY significant because the federal Department of Education did the dastardly deed of changing federal privacy law, known previously as the protective, family-empowering, FERPA law. The Department of Education did this without Congressional approval and are now being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for doing it. But as it stands now, FERPA has been altered and won’t be put back to its formerly protective state. So parental rights over children’s data, and parental consent rules, have been cast aside. –All in the name of getting lots and lots and lots of data available, whether with malignant or benign intention, especially for federal use.
Here it is, pasted directly from the government site and available in English or Spanish:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $250 million
Type of Grant: Competitive
The program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.
Since it started in fiscal year 2005, the program has awarded grants worth $265 million to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The Recovery Act competition requires that the data systems have the capacity to link preschool, K-12, and postsecondary education as well as workforce data. To receive State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, a state must provide an assurance that it will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the 12 elements described in the America COMPETES Act, and any data system developed with Statewide longitudinal data system funds must include at least these 12 elements. The elements are:
- An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);
- The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;
- Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;
- Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
- Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;
- Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;
- A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;
- Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;
- Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;
- Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;
- A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and
- The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.
Tonight at 6:05, I’ll be on the Morgan Philpot show as a guest, speaking about this important issue and all its many tentacles, including the E.P.I.C. lawsuit against the Dept. of Education, the statements on data-mashing by Utah’s John Brandt and D.C.’s Joanne Weiss, letters I’ve received from the USOE on the subject of student tracking, and what we can do about it.
Tune in if you live nearby. KNRS.
The “Restore Oklahoma Public Education” research team has done it again.
Read this tremendously detailed explanation of how the federal government is robbing United States citizens of their privacy, using schools as data collection vehicles and redefining even nonacademic student data collection (blood type, nickname, mental health) a federal entitlement.
- There are a ton of open governmental meetings that people don’t really know about, and thus few attend them.
- Here’s one: November 13th at 12:30 you– all of you– all of us, are invited to an open committee meeting at the Utah Senate Building, Olmstead room. The Federalism Subcommittee will be discussing whatever’s on their agenda. I’ve politely requested that Common Core will be.
- Because there is such a thing as a legislative Federalism Subcommittee for Utah, (who knew?) and because its purpose it is to make sure the feds don’t step on the state’s toes and/or siphon off our sovereignty under the Constitution, I wrote to them today to ask them to study Common Core a little bit more closely.
- I wrote:
Dear Representative Noel, Senator Niederhauser, Representative King, Lt. Governor Greg Bell, Dep. Attorney General Swallow and Senator Romero,
I’m writing to ask you, as members of the Federalism Subcommittee council, to place a federal action for evaluation on the state agenda for the upcoming meeting November 13, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. to be held in the Olmstead Room in the Utah Senate Building.
“In accordance with Section 63C-4-107, the Federalism Subcommittee shall evaluate a federal law submitted to the Federalism Subcommittee by a council member.” Utah Code Ann. §63C-4-106(2).
There is a lot of solid research available about Common Core, its origins, authors, copyright, nonamendability, unpiloted and unverified claims, and the ways in which the Obama Administration has hijacked it, an initiative that started as a state-led initiative, but has become a federally-pushed agenda tied to the No Child Left Behind waivers and also tied to the State Longitudinal Database System, the P-20 tracking system, and ultimately, now appears to be becoming a form of federal citizen surveillance –under the guise of educational research and reforms.
No fight deserves our attention more than the fight against nationalized education via Common Core.
Our state’s top lawyers at the Utah State Office of Education have not probed this issue, and have not even analyzed it as an issue of federalism. We have not even had a hearing (even teachers are being turned away by the USOE who want to speak out on this subject) because Common Core has become so controversial and so hotly defended by those who introduced it to our state.
I am happy to share the research that national thinktanks, elite institutes, and even my Utah friends and I have found, including the Dept. of Education’s current lawsuit (led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center) due to Dept. of Ed FERPA overstep; the Dept. of Education’s Cooperative Agreement which micromanages education against G.E.P.A. law and against the provisions of the U.S. Constitution; including the “data mashing” programs of Utah’s John Brandt and the federal chief of staff, Joanne Weiss; and emails from the USOE that confirm the end of student privacy has come due to this network of “education reforms” that are radically transforming our state’s educational system without a vote and without public knowledge.
I will be out of state on November 13th, but as it is an open meeting, and as there are thousands of Utahns who feel as I do and who have signed a petition against Common Core at http://Utahnsagainstcommoncore.com I feel sure you will be well supported as you evaluate this initiative and its implications for state sovereignty.
Thank you for your consideration.
Untangling the Choice Solutions/Pearson/UEA/Utah Data Alliance Partnerships
So today I’m imagining Utah’s State Technology Director, John Brandt, and Pearson’s CEA Sir Michael Barber having a conversation over crumpets and tea about all the data Sir Michael Barber hopes to collect on the “global” citizenry –and how John Brandt can help. http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA
Brandt did set up the 2011 UTREX contract that allowed Pearson to design and deliver Utah’s massive data sharing project. Then, suddenly, in 2012 Pearson also “partnered” with John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance.
Meanwhile, not only does Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber go around praising Common Core and similar nationalized education systems worldwide while calling the shots for Pearson as its Chief Education Advisor…
—also, Pearson’s Sir Barber recently founded a business in the United States called EDI (Education Delivery Institute) which partners with many state education departments (not in Utah, yet, thank heaven) to “drive delivery of the state’s reform agenda as outlined in its Race to the Top (RTTT) proposal.” -Translation: to implement the federal Common Core.
EDI’s and Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber openly advocates for global environmental education standards, to be mandated for every human on the earth, as a priority over giving students knowledge or the ability to think for oneself. He says “we want them to have some knowledge.” He calls his formula for all:
E(K+T+L) Think I’m making this up? See his speeches: http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA
Yet, John Brandt and the USOE apparently support Utah’s close partnership with Pearson and Barber. Maybe they don’t know what Pearson’s goals really are. Or maybe they share those goals.
I don’t know. But I think it’s strange that Brandt never responds to an email on the subject.
Juggling all of that, keep in mind, too, that Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, has spoken recently for federal agencies “data-mashing” as much as possible. She’s also spoken about being “helpful” to states who want to partner in data sharing. Nice.
If you’re interested, here’s the press release that explains (some of) it.
Press Release: Utah Data Alliance Partners with Choice Solutions to Implement a P-20W Statewide Longitudinal Data System
Salt Lake City, Utah (PRWEB) February 15, 2012
“The Utah Education Network (UEN) working as a key partner of the Utah Data Alliance (UDA) has selected Choice Solutions to deliver a secure data warehouse of de-identified early childhood, K-12, post-secondary, and workforce data provided by multiple state agencies that will use this warehouse for analysis and research in support of data driven decision making.
Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W)… The challenge is in the linking, in determining how best to forge the organizational and technical bonds, and to build the data system needed to make informed decisions. Choice Solutions, the leader in P-20W SLDS’s, has worked with 15 states across the nation to customize, integrate, and implement edFusion™, their enterprise grade P-20W SLDS. Choice’s level of P-20W data linking experience, in concert with the edFusion™ product stack, will serve Utah’s system requirements.
The P-20W SLDS project won’t be a cold start to the partnership; the Utah State Office of Education and Choice (in partnership with Pearson Data Solutions) have been working together for the past year to implement the Utah e-Transcript and Record Exchange system (UTREx). UTREx is being phased into production with the core (collection, validation, reporting) functions having been implemented statewide in August 2011. In addition, UTREx allows individual, detailed student records to be exchanged electronically between any two Utah local education agencies (LEAs). UTREx is currently piloting submission of official student transcripts to any institution of higher education in the country from any Utah high school… Choice Solutions is an end-to-end global Enterprise IT Service and Solutions provider… Choice has the privilege of serving many government organizations, including 15 state Departments of Education and numerous districts, regional education centers, and privately run agencies. For more information about Choice Solutions visit choicep20 dot com.”
(P.S. I went to the Choice.com website and read that Choice’s partners are not only Pearson, but also CCSSO– the ones who copyrighted the Common Core, the ones whose board membership includes Utah’s Larry Shumway. Choice also partners with the U.S. Dept. of Education. –The point is that John Brandt’s Utah Data Alliance partnered with Choice/Pearson which is partnered with Superintendent Shumway’s own CCSSO. And Brandt is a member of NCES, so he’s a federal and a state officer. Unless I read it wrong. See for yourselves. Just google NCES and John Brandt and you’ll see how many speeches he’s making for the federal NCES nationwide. http://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/statsdc/2012/session_VII.asp)
Yes, the data collection push is out of control.
Data collection issues and privacy rights were the last thing on my mind, until last April, when I learned what Common Core was (besides educational standards that are communizing America’s education). When I learned that common core tests gather kids’ data that is nonacademic, personally identifiable, and longitudinal –meaning it goes from preschool through adulthood and is tracked by the government and researchers who will not need permission to study it– I was horrified. But the data collection desperation of agencies worldwide, continues. For example:
- Just this morning I got an email from a company that contracts with a company I work with to translate foreign documents. They wanted to purchase –in any language– full blogs, full email accounts, and other writings, for a secret client that they said needs a lot of data to practice a new spellchecker. Nuts! (I’ll post the full “job” email* at the bottom.)
- This week, I learned about a German man, Malte Spitz, now an international data privacy freedom fighter. Here’s part of his story (for full text: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/malte-spitzs-ted-talk-_n_1701775.html )
In 2006, the EU issued the Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC. This allowed European phone companies to store user data for six months to two years — including phone numbers, addresses, the times emails and data were sent, as well as users’ locations. Since then, several countries have either rejected or declared unconstitutional this legislation. In 2010, Germany’s Federal Constitution Court suspended the directive, calling it “inadmissable.”
The directive does state that the content of users’ text and voice conversations are not to be stored.
Police agencies could request information from mobile phone companies to access user data, but only via the court system. Spitz filed a suit against his phone company Deutsche Telekom in order to receive his own stored data.
After reaching a settlement, Spitz received a CD of his records in the mail. “At first I thought, okay — it’s a huge file,” he said, “But then I realized, this is my life. This is six months of my life […] You can see where I am, when I sleep at night, what I’m doing.”
- Then there’s Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Dept. of Education, who openly admits to “data-mashing,” meaning blending the databases from different federal agencies. She also has said she wants to be helpful to states who want to “partner” and share data.
- Then there’s John Brandt, our Utah Technology Director, CCSSO chair, and NCES member (translation: he’s a fed). He openly admist on his powerpoint online, that the Dept. of Education can be one of the recipients of Utah’s inter-agency data mashing.
- Then there’s “Communities that Care,” a nice-sounding euphemism for a federal lure to give up local data via a program that on the surface, is all about preventing teen drug use and crime. But it’s also a way for the federal government to access what we are thinking, both via ongoing youth surveys, and via archived family and individual data kept by the city.
- My own doctor said that he was offered thousands to share data with the government about his patients. He opted not to accept the money because he believes in patient privacy.
Why are governments so desperate to gather so much private data on citizens? So desperate that they’re overriding Congressional FERPA laws, so desperate that they’re cutting out parental consent.
To read more about this topic:
Department of Education Being Sued for Invasion of Privacy: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
Oregon Senator’s Website: http://www.merkley.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=457f640a-2995-49c4-b386-27ca44c639a8
Federal Surveillance of data via Common Core tests: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf
TrapWire Surveillance: http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/12473-trapwire-the-federal-govt-is-literally-watching-every-move-you-make http://thenewamerican.com/tech/item/12635-trapwires-alleged-corporate-and-government-connections-grow
SmartMeter Opt-Out: http://thenewamerican.com/tech/energy/item/12344-privacy-and-health-concerns-on-%E2%80%9Csmart-meters%E2%80%9D-growing-globally
Many thanks for your interest in our program and for providing your experience in translation. Unfortunately we are not looking for a translation service at present; however, as mentioned in our advert we are collecting many versions of data on behalf of a client of ours. This data will be used to assist them in the development of their language tools. If this is something which you think you can assist us in, then please review the details below.
Below you will find some frequently asked questions which will provide you with more data on the program. Please read carefully to check if your language is available.
Note: We are only accepting languages which are available on the list at present.
We aim to collect a large amount of data for each language, so we hope we can collect a minimum of 150,000 words from each person participating. If you think you can reach this number, please let us know. If not, then please continue to save your data and contact us again in the near future.
Unfortunately everyone who contacts us may not be able to join this program, however, if you do know of someone that has their language included, please pass our information to them. We encourage all people to review their language / data.
On reading the FAQ, please reply and let us know what type of data / language you can provide to our program. We can then work on the collection process.
Please note, we do allow participants to donate more than one language if available.
We look forward to working with you.
Kind Regards, Lionbridge Data Collection Group
1) What languages are available? In our program we are now looking for the following languages: English UK, English US, Basque, Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Finnish, Galician, Hungarian, Kazakh, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic), Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Arabic (Standard), Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese European, Spanish European, Swedish, Indonesian, Latin American Spanish, Danish and Thai.
2) What if my language is not on the list? We are beginning with the languages listed above. However, we may begin collecting for your language in the future. Please begin to save your emails / reports etc. Also, you may know of a friend / colleague who may be able to join now. If so, then pass on our information to them.
3) Who gets my data? We are collecting all data in conjunction with a client who requires a large amount of words to help develop their language tools e.g. spellchecker. No other party will have access to your data
4) What data can I include? a. Email – you can include personal emails which you have written in your own language b. Reports – If you are at college, you can include draft reports which you have written for college (i.e. these are the first writings of your reports, not the final delivered version to your lecturer). If you are a journalist, you can include drafts of articles you have written. Note draft articles should contain both grammar and spelling mistakes i.e. they are not proof read. c. Letters – any letters which you have written in your native language d. Blogs – If you have created a blog and write regular updates, this could be included.
5) If I send email, what happens if I include personal email? Once you send us your email, we will first change all of the email addresses and numbers to email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> and 000 to remove any personal identification. Your name / signature however will remain on the email if included.
6) Can I use any email account? Yes you can use most email accounts which can be setup either on the internet or at home. Note we are having some issues with exporting from yahoo.
7) How much data to I need to send you? We are looking to collect 600,000 words from each person; however we understand that this is a lot of data for one person. Therefore to assist you we are willing to receive as low as 150,000 words: - On average 2,000 emails. - 200 pages
8) What if I do not have enough data? Don’t worry if you don’t have enough data right now. You can begin to save your data and join our program at a later date. Also, remember, if you have emails and reports, you can join both to reach the required number. We can help you with this.
9) How long do I have to collect the data? We appreciate it can take time to get this detail together and to assist you we will be providing step by step instructions. This program is running until September 30th 2012.
10) Do I get paid for my data? Yes you do! For every 100,000 words you send to us, we will pay you $110.
11) How do I know my data is secure? On acceptance of your data, you will sign a data release form to say that our client can now use your data. No other party will have access to your data.
I didn’t make up this question: “Can FERPA and SLDS coexist?”.
It’s in a white paper written by ESP solutions group, called “Could FERPA halt your SLDS: A Mini-Guide That Explores Potential FERPA Roadblocks Disruptive to Your SLDS Project,”directed at state leaders who are attempting to data-mash their state agencies’ systems.
(I’m guessing readers of this document are people like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dept. of Education Chief of Staff J. Weiss, Utah Technology Director John Brandt, Utah School Superintendent Larry Shumway, the USOE, and folks like Professor David Wiley. I add in Wiley because he’s partnered with USOE to write Common Core books and has publically said he is FOR going behind parents’ backs to get access to student data for research purposes.)
FYI- Data systems mashing and meshing is also soon to be done with federal data systems, not just state SLDS, according to a recent statement by J. Weiss, the Chief of Staff of the Department of Education.
The ESP white paper shows the disregard the movement has for individual privacy –calling privacy law, FERPA, a “roadblock”– and it shows the conflict the data-seeking SLDS/P-20 crowd feels toward traditional privacy law, such as the Congressionally approved and created FERPA as it was originally written in the 70′s by people who actually respected parental consent law and student privacy.
Remember, though, that the Dept of Education has altered FERPA to empower the data-mashing gang i.e., Arne Duncan, President Obama, John Brandt, Shumway, Weiss and Wiley. The Dept. of ED has been sued for doing so, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (thank heaven and hope they win.)
What meaning do I make of it?
The good news is, FERPA still has the data-hungry, big-government educrats scared. Remember: state FERPA laws have not changed although federal regulations to FERPA did.
The bad news is, there are individuals and whole organizations like ESP or David Wiley, getting paid by our government (by us) to think of ways of getting around family privacy law so that without our consent, they can access private information– in the guise of caring for our students and with the good intentions of any non-elected, self-appointed stakeholder/decisionmaker over other people’s children.
Dear Utah School Board,
Last week, I asked a simple yes or no question. I received one response, and that board member did not say yes or not, but said he’d forward my question to Judy Park’s secretary. I still have no answer.
The question is simple: Is it possible for a student in Utah to attend public school and not be tracked by the P-20 and SLDS tracking systems?
On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Austin, Lorraine <Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov> wrote:
I have consulted with the Associate Superintendent in the office over data collection, and have received the following answer to your question:
All students who attend public schools have their data submitted to USOE for multiple purposes including accountability and monitoring aggregate student progress. USOE does not release student level data. Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process. Current state and federal accountability requires that a minimum of 95% of students participate in all assessment programs.
Lorraine Austin, Secretary to the Board
Utah State Board of Education
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200
Thank you! I appreciate you going to the effort to find the answer to my question. I have a follow-up question.
The Associate Superintendent over data collection said that USOE does not release student level data; could you tell me how long that policy will remain in place and where I can find it in written form? Thank you.
I am concerned with this question because Joanne Weiss, the U.S. Education Department’s chief of staff, said that information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
Another source confirms this trend: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
It says, “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner.
Added to these facts is the fact that recent changes were made by the Department of Education to FERPA (privacy laws/regulations) that remove the necessity for researchers to gather parental or student consent prior to accessing personally identifiable information (PII).
So the only thing standing between our students’ PII and interstate, intrastate and federal persual (including entrepreneurs and both governmental and nongovernmental researchers) is local policy.
That is why I’d like to see what that policy is, and when it’s due to expire.
Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.