Archive for the ‘socialism’ Tag

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

Guarding the Minds and Hearts of Our Children

By Whitne Strain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Is This Curriculum Politically Neutral?

by Christel Swasey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

THE STORY KILLERS by Dr. Terrence Moore – Book Review   1 comment

storykillers book

Michelle Malkin has called The Storykillers  “a stopcommoncore must-read.”

It is a must-read.  It’s interesting and important.  It’s packed full of understanding about the Common Core English standards, which are ruining the love of learning as they distort what it means to be educated.

The book pits logic and common sense against the theories, deceptions and absurdities of the Common Core.  It cuts through the Common Core’s wordiness and plainly states this truth:  that Common Core is stunting and killing both the classic literature stories themselves and The Great American Story of liberty and self-government, stories that our children and our country cannot do without.

In  The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core, Dr. Terrence Moore tells us that the restoration of legitimate, time-tested classic literature –the best that has been thought and said and done and discovered“– can solve  America’s educational decline.  The faulty theories of Common Core can not.

If you don’t read book, please remember Dr. Moore’s most important point:  We Must Fight For Our Stories– which Common Core is stealing

The great stories are not disposable!  Who persuaded us that they were?  Losing them means losing, piece by piece, what it means –or meant– to be us.  No amount of supposed career prep info-texts can pretend to make up for that.

Good readers, regardless of what they did after they grew up, developed the love of reading/learning by reading stories.  Young and old need stories to process life.  Great learners fall in love with learning not because of manuals, articles, and  informational texts but because of fascinating stories.  Classic works of literature are being neglected, shortened, misinterpreted and replaced, under Common Core.  And THE Great American Story– the story of freedom –  is being undermined along with the other classics that Common Core neglects.  The book explains exactly how this is happening, using the standards themselves as its centerpiece.

We must fight for our stories.

applebook - Copy

Dr. Moore’s book asks questions like this one:  Why does the new Common Core edition of the  American literature textbook, The American Experience, by Pearson/Prentice Hall 2012, contain sections on government forms,  and an EPA report?  Is this the new and “more rigorous” literature that will prepare our children for college?  Or is it an attempt to “keep the nation’s children from reading stories, particularly traditional stories that run counter to the political ideology” of the authors of  Common Core?

Dr. Moore points out that a widespread, fraudulent adoption of Common Core brought us the fraudulent reading (and math) theories upon which Common Core Standards rest. Common Core was never pilot tested as it should have been, before virtually the whole country adopted it.

You know how long it takes for a new drug to get on the market before it receives approval from the FDA,” he writes,  “Yet here is the educational medicine, so to speak, that all the nation’s children will be taking every day, seven hours a day– and no clinical trials have been done.”

Dr. Moore points out, too, that “most of the money that funded the original writing of the standards came from the deep pockets of Bill Gates. Perhaps related to this fact, the Common Core will have students working far more with computers… the people behind the Common Core also have a hand in running the tests and stand to gain financially…. the other people who stand to make out like bandits are the textbook publishers. If that’s not enough to get one wondering, it turns out that the actual writing of the standards was done in complete secrecy.

(Shocking! Terrible! And true.  Yet how many people know these facts in the face of so many ceaseless Common Core marketing lies being put out by the likes of Exxon, Harvard, Jeb Bush, the National Governors’ Association and even the National PTA, all of whom were paid by Bill Gates to say what they say about Common Core.  Don’t listen to them!  They are financially bound to say what they say.  Listen to people like Dr. Moore, who do not accept money from the Gates club.)

In his book, Dr. Moore talks a lot about what is NOT in the English standards as well as what’s there.

The traditional aims of education– to pursue truth, to find true happiness, to be good, to love the beautiful, to know the great stories of our American tradition– are not the designs of Common Core, he says.  The Common Core is a program that kills stories in order to direct people to “be preoccupied with only  the functional aspects of human existence and to have almost no interest in the higher aims of life.”

plato

Dr. Moore reminds us that controlling stories (or the lack of stories) is the same thing as controlling people:   “Plato pointed out in his Republic a book never read in today’s high schools, nor usually even in college– whoever writes the stories shapesor controls– the minds of the people in any given regime.”

The book’s title describes the killing of two important types of stories:

The great stories are, first, the works of literature that have long been considered great by any standard of literary judgment and, second, what we might call the Great American Story of people longing to be free and happy under their own self-government. The Common Core will kill these stories by a deadly combination of neglect, amputation, misinterpretation…”

Then,

On the ruins of the old canon of literary and historical classics will be erected a new canon of post-modern literature and progressive political doctrine. Simultaneous to this change, fewer and fewer works of literature will be read on the whole. Great literature will be replaced with ‘information’ masquerading as essential ‘workforce training’.”

Moore explains that the proponents of Common Core hold up “the illusion of reform” while continuing to “gut the school curriculum” and to remove its humanity.  He points to page five of the introduction to the Common Core where  this chart appears for English readings:

Grade Literary Information
4 50% 50%
8 45% 55%
12 30% 70%

So our little children under Common Core aligned school books won’t get more than 50% of their reading from stories.  And our high school seniors won’t get more than 30% of their reading from stories.  The bulky 70% of what they read must be informational text:  not poetry, not plays, not novels, not the books that move our souls.  In English class.

Thus literature is on the wane in public schools,” Dr. Moore writes, and traditional literature classes are being eroded, despite the fact that the Common Core proponents aim to deceive us and make the “public believe that they are requiring more rigor in reading.”

Dr. Moore calls us to fight for our children’s access to the great stories.

There has never been a great people without great stories. And the great stories of great peoples often dwell on the subject of greatness. They dwell on the subject of plain goodness as well: the goodness that is to be found in love, marriage, duty, the creation of noble and beautiful things. It is patently obvious that they authors of the Common Core are uncomfortable with these great stories of the great and the good.  They are plainly uncomfortable with great literature. And they are even more uncomfortable with what might be called the Great American Story.”

Read much of what the so-called education reformers are speaking about lately, and you’ll see it:  they call for sameness, common-ness, for the forced redistribution of teachers and funds, and above all, for equality of results.  Not greatness.  Not the ability for a single student or school to soar above the rest.  No exceptionalism allowed.  (Anyone ever read Harrison Bergeron?)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, the testing companies, the Common Core copyright holding groups– the reformers seem to avoid the concepts of goodness and greatness in favor of a twisted version of “social justice” equality, which is, frankly, theft, along with being as foolish as the reasoning behind the society of Harrison Bergeron, which is in no way truly fair, or truly helpful.

“…They fully expect us to shrug with thoughtless indifference.  Do not be fooled.  The fate of our stories is the fate of the nation,” writes Dr. Moore.

book and kite

Dr. Moore does the unthinkable:  he subjects the Common Core Standards to actual critical thinking (which they claim to promote).

Since everyone loves the expression ‘critical thinking’ these days, let us subject these standards to a little critical thinking.

He questions the  Common Core Initiative’s obsession with technology and testing.

bored by screen

Computers are a lot more like televisions than anyone is willing to admit… it is true that art teachers can now much more easily show their classes great paintings and sculptures by using the internet.  It is likewise true that history teachers can employ actual speeches of Churchill or Reagan using videos found on the web. Ninety percent of the time, though, that is not how the computer is being used… The arch-testers of the Common Core champion the use of the technological elixir that cures all illnesses and heals all wounds without even pausing to warn us of the potential side effects… we are not invited to consider how much technology is compromising the old literacy. Least of all are we supposed to realize that the remedy for our growing twenty-first-century illiteracy is traditional, nineteenth-century education.”

He asks us to re-examine the assumption that because technology has changed so much, schooling should also change so much.  “Does schooling belong in that class of things that does not get ‘updated’ every week…  human institutions and relations for which we must be initiated into certain permanent ways of thinking, lest we be cast adrift on a sea of moral, cultural, and political uncertainty?”

He points out that education should not be confused with job training and that “going to college” is not the same thing as gaining knowledge; and that the authors of Common Core are “lumping college readiness and career readiness together” without stopping to explain what either means nor how either will be affected by the lumping.

He points out that while the standards claim to wield the power to prepare children for “the twenty-first-century global economy,” that claim is based on nothing.  It’s just a claim.  And we have had economies to worry about since the beginning of time, none of which would have succeeded by taking away stories and classics, the very core that made people in the not too distant past far more literate than we are today.

He opposes this “pedestrian preoccupation with what will happen when children turn nineteen” because it “undermines the powers of imagination and of observation,” powers which are too important to ignore.  Think about it:  imagination makes children read and helps them to love books.  No little child is motivated to read because he/she is concerned about college and career, years from now.  The child reads because the story is interesting.  Period.

Dr. Moore also points out that the history of successful literacy shows a very different path from the one Common Core is leading America to follow.

Historically, what created the highest literacy rates?  Dr. Moore points out that it was high church attendance, combined with emphasis on the Bible, and schooling with an emphasis on traditional learning!  (And the Bible is composed mostly of stories and lyrical language, not of “rigorous informational texts.”)

Dr. Moore points out that Colonial Massachusetts and 18th-century Scotland had nearly universal literacy.  Newspapers in the 18th century were written at a far higher level than the journalism of today (which is written at the sixth-grade level.)

Yet the authors of Common Core insist that students should read far more recently written, informational texts, such as newspaper articles… Ergo, the literacy for the twenty-first-century global economy will be built upon the cracking foundation of our present semi-literacy. Was there not once a famous story-teller who said something about not building a house upon sand?”

He asks us to remember that the careful reading of stories enables us to “learn about good taste and manners. We learn all the the individual virtues and vices… human emotions… Through this vicarious activity, we are compelled to examine ourselves and thereby attain what used to be called self-government… What is a better study of ambition leading to ruin than Macbeth?  Wat is a better study of indecision and imprudence than Hamlet? What is a better example of adolescent love and passion in their raw state than Romeo and Juliet?  What is a better model of command than Henry V?… We hang onto these stories… that teach us who we are and who we ought to be. The study of human character through great literature, then, teaches us how to live.”

In the book’s last chapter, Moore explains that what is permanently valuable to students does not change very much.  He writes that a genuine common core would have included a group of magnificent books that each truly educated person would have read, at the very least.  Under THE Common Core, however, mostly informational, unproven texts and text excerpts are listed –and there is no set core of classic books.  He writes,  “Had the Common Core English Standards held up just a few great books, college professors could finally know what their incoming students had actually read.  Heck, even advertisers and comedians could know what jokes they could tell about literary characters”  Moore says that “the Holy Grail of school reform” is the set of “great books of our tradition.”

He recommends that students would read –PRIOR to high school–  titles such as The Tempest, Animal Farm, A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Then Dr. Moore lists a classical high school curriculum (which he says has been working in the schools in which he has helped to implement it):

Homer’s Iliad  (The whole thing, not a drive-by excerpt); the WHOLE of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth; the WHOLE U.S. Constitution; Le Morte D’Arthur, Pride and Prejudice, Plutarch’s Lives; Moby Dick; Huckleberry Finn, 1984; A Tale of Two Cities; Crime and Punishment; The Scarlet Letter, The Mayflower Compact; Uncle Tom’s Cabin The Prince; Confessions of Augustine; poetry by Frost, Longfellow, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare; biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, speeches by Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan; and so on and so on.

Despite everything that is being taken away from the American English curriculum because of Common Core, despite the damage that is being done to children’s love of learning by removing the thing that makes people love to read and become great readers– stories– despite all else he exposes about the Common Core, Dr. Moore’s bottom line remains this one:

Anyone who thinks I have travelled too far afield or have jumped to conclusions about the true aims of the Common Core should read one further phrase found on the opening page of the English standards.  That phrase is more alarming and more revelaing than all the jargon about a new literacy and college and career readiness. ‘The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.’ …The authors of the Core are  forecasting that their program will change over the next ten, twenty, forty years… but the same people will be in charge. What will be the new and better evidence that emerges?  Who will get to decide what constitutes better evidence? Who will do the revising?”

I have only scratched the surface of this important book here.  I hope you will buy copies for your friends, your school board, your legislator, your governor, and especially for your favorite English teacher.  This book is a powerful tool in the fight to  reclaim legitimate K-12 and college education in this country.

Link to book:   The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core

Liar Liar Pants on Fire: Dr. Stotsky Exposes Marc Tucker   3 comments

pinocchio

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the famous Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of Common Core, is alarmed that N.H. legislators are being sold a false line by Mark Tucker about Common Core. She points out, among other things, that the Gates Foundation has “given millions to help Marc Tucker promote his own ideas on education in recent years” as it has given millions to promote Common Core nationwide. But there are more than financial incentives for Tucker, the CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a Center for American Progress (CAP) leader, and the infamous Dear Hillary letter author.

Tucker’s life’s work hangs on Common Core. He’s made it his mission to end local control, as a progressive socialist who openly fights Constitutional, representative America. The plot of his 1992 “Dear Hillary letter” falls apart without Common standards for control of data and control of education and workforce. He can’t let it fail.

Tucker’s infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton showed Tucker’s (and Clinton’s) twisted agreement that a “new” system of government should micromanage every citizen’s life, cradle to grave, using schooling as the core for the centralized control. Creepy as can be.

Fast forward to May 2013 and still, you see Tucker’s creepy goals outlined in his report from the “Center for American Progress” in which Tucker stated that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” He also dared write: “I propose to greatly strengthen the role of the state education agencies in education governance, at the expense of local control … [G]overnance roles of the local districts, as well as the federal government, would be significantly decreased. Independent citizen governing boards would be eliminated.”

tucker

Equally stunning is Tucker’s 2013 NCEE report called “What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?” where he admitted that his goal for education reform is NOT to raise, but to lower standards.

His report reads:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers… the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

(Why don’t our state school boards share these reports with us? Why do they lead us to believe that “college and career ready standards” mean better than we had before?)

The same NCEE report goes on to say that the traditional high school English class, with its emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report implies that Common Core will save students from the near-worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:

“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”

In labeling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, the NCEE underscores the Common Core/NCEE mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the liberty and potential of an individual.

With that introduction to Tucker’s motivations for promoting Common Core, here are highlights from Dr. Stotsky’s article on Tucker’s recent fibs in support of the Common Core agenda. (Read the whole thing at Pioneer Institute’s website.)

stotsky

Dr. Stotsky makes many important points, including the following:

1 “In October, members of the New Hampshire legislature heard Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, tell them more fibs than Pinocchio ever dreamed up. How many legislators will prove to be gullible Geppettos is another matter.”

2 “…all six of the “math experts” who “validated” Common Core’s mathematics standards are in an education school and/or spend their time on teacher education… [Dr. James Milgram, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the Common Core math standards], who has a doctorate in mathematics, was clearly the only mathematician on the Validation Committee. Tucker doesn’t know a mathematician from a mathematics educator.”

3 “It is true that Professor William McCallum, a consultant to Achieve, Inc., a mathematics professor at Arizona State University, and a lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, asked the heads of many national mathematics and science societies for endorsements, and he received them. However, there is no evidence that any of their members ever read Common Core’s high school mathematics standards.”

4 “Nor is there evidence that any of their members disagree with Milgram’s judgment that there are no precalculus standards in Common Core or with Professor Jason Zimba’s acknowledgment that Common Core does not prepare high school students for STEM. If members of these organizations do endorse high school mathematics standards that intentionally do not prepare high school students for STEM, they should speak up…”

5 “Mitchell Chester, current Commissioner of Education in Massachusetts, did not commission any leading education research organizations to compare the Massachusetts standards with Common Core’s …Achieve, Inc., Fordham, and the MBAE all received funding from the Gates Foundation… It is also well-known that a Race to the Top grant for $250,000,000 was promised to Massachusetts if it adopted Common Core’s standards.”

6 “Tucker plays fast and loose with the facts, and in the future New Hampshire legislators and educators should make sure a fact-checker is on the premises for a debriefing after he speaks.”

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

Read the rest here.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.

America, do we you want that sterile, big-government factory vision of workforce-focus to control the nation’s children? How has it worked out for European socialist countries and the communist nations?

Why listen to Tucker and go with his (Common Core’s) flow? Why destroy the vision of our founders, where each caring parent and locality governed the child’s education?

Local control and freedom have made us the greatest nation in the world. Others flock to our universities! Others envy our technological and medical advancement!

Freedom works. Don’t throw it away, foolishly following schemers such as Marc Tucker, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan –no matter how fancy the titles of their organizations sound.

We’re at a critical intersection of our country’s history. Our children’s futures and our country’s future depends on us seeing what these schemers are attempting to pull; depends on us standing up and simply saying, “No.”

Translating Obama’s Four Pillars of Education Reform: JaKell Sullivan   4 comments

Yesterday’s excellent editorial in the Deseret News by JaKell Sullivan translates the four innocent-sounding pillars of Obama’s education reforms into plain English.

The article points out: (The electronic links are mine)

“The US Department of Education’s website details the four federal education reforms that 46 states are almost done implementing:

1 Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students.
2 Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems.
3 Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers.
4 Turn around the lowest-performing schools.

These reforms sound somewhat innocuous until one starts reading… original source documents. The translation of the reforms appears to be:

1. Adopt 2-year college and job-ready national standards to ensure that college diplomas are “equitable” and more attainable to the masses through a Common Core that is not internationally benchmarked.

Use federally-required Computer Adaptive Tests that will not be accessible to local teachers or administrators — or parents at a set point after they are given. Meanwhile, federal reformers are remaking America’s entire testing system by aligning all K-12 testing — including the GED, SAT and ACT — to Common Core so that subjective questions can assess real world knowledge as the means for social change. This overhaul is being orchestrated by the new head of the College Board, David Coleman, who is considered the architect of Common Core.

2. Develop interoperable data systems to track students from “cradle to career.”

The federal executive branch revised regulations within FERPA —privacy law — so that data tracking could occur without Congressional approval and so student identifiable data can be shared with stakeholders without parental consent. According to the Data Quality Campaign, student data should be linked with health, social services and criminal justice data systems.

3. Tie teacher pay to student test scores on Common Core tests and redistribute “highly effective” teachers by federal mandate.

The federal government’s idea of “highly effective” teachers means people who complete 5 weeks of training through Teach for America, or teachers who are accredited in programs dedicated to equit, diversity and social justice — not student achievement.)

4. Create new school grading systems to enforce the federal government’s equity measures on schools.

This explains why West High and other outstanding schools recently received failing grades. They are “underperforming” in equity measures. The system is not set up to evaluate the student achievement that local parents value, but rather the equity measures that social justice reformers demand.

The article also points out that since governors were directed by the White House to spend the stimulus funds quickly, the directive “has allowed the federal government to remake K-12 education in three years time without public knowledge, without using our representative form of government and without vetting the ongoing costs to states.”

Read the whole article here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865589745/Education-reforms-Obamacare-destabilize-state-budgets.html

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THANK YOU, JAKELL SULLIVAN.

My, What Big Data Teeth you have, Grandmother: An Open Letter to Utah Legislators   7 comments

Dear Utah Legislator,

I’m writing to you as a mother to ask you to put a stop to the use of Utah’s school systems as snooping agents on our children.

Corporate and federal partnerships and Utah state data systems and interstate partnerships now watch and track our children without anyone having asked for parental consent to do so.

Some Utah leaders are working hard to fortify privacy rights, I know. But many powerful organizations, departments and corporations are working hard to ignore, dismiss, or stop any efforts to defend student privacy– all with great intentions but absolutely without authority.

The result is a data collecting and sharing network that represents loss of parental authority and loss of individual privacy.

In recent years, Utah built and is now using a federally structured and paid-for ($9.6 M) State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) from which no parent is permitted to opt their child out.

This lack of liberty should be a red flag.

But few Utahns know that their child is being tracked and very few know that they can’t opt out of that tracking.

Fewer still know that there’s a Utah Data Alliance (UDA) that links K-12 data, collected by schools, with higher ed., with the State workforce and other agencies.

Utah’s UDA has agreed to use the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) State Core Model –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

I am not saying that Utah agencies are sharing private data yet; I am saying that there’s nothing strong preventing them from doing so and that school systems are moving in the direction of more and more data commonality and disaggregation of student data. (see point 4 at that link.)

Countless entities have lined up with a “Data Quality Campaign” to make sure all their data points and technologies match, so that student information can be pooled.

Federal FERPA laws, previously protective of student data, have now been grossly loosened, and federal agencies including the NCES and the Department of Education, as well as White House events such as “Datapalooza” and White House Chiefs such as Joanne Weiss, are encouraging us to pool data, while (weakly) noting that student privacy is, of course, important. Yet proper protections are missing.

The Department of Education does a two-faced dance, asking for “robust data” and altering FERPA on the one hand, and insisting that they don’t even collect student data when speaking to the press. The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are, however, 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 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 Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”

PESC states 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…”

I find this alarming. You might find it hard to believe that Utah is lined up with it.

So here is the evidence:

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) and other XML schemas.”

Here is the PESC State Core Model abstract.

“1.0 Abstract

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)…
The Model [can replace] 625 distinct Federal reporting types with record-level data collections.

… The Model is designed to address unique, complex P20 SLDS relationships, business rules, and entity factoring… It addresses student-teacher link, common assessment data model, and comes pre-loaded with Common Core learning standards.

The State Core Model consists of three principle artifacts… All three artifacts can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution from [the EIMAC group site].”

Data Baby

And, what is EIMAC? In case you hadn’t heard of EIMAC: it’s the branch of the CCSSO that “advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.” Yes, they said that out loud. They collect data at the national level without authority nor any representation.

But, but– (we say) –Aren’t we protected by GEPA law and by the Constitution from any sort of “accountability” to federal agencies in educational matters or privacy matters including “unreasonable searches”?

Not if our legislators don’t defend these rights.

According to the PESC document, on page 5, we are drowning in “federal accountability”. There are at least 625 federal reports mentioned at PESC. A few include: http://www.pesc.org/library/docs/Common%20Data%20Standards/State%20Core%20Model%2011-17.pdf

EDEN – EDFacts 79 file types
CRDC – Civil Rights Data Collection 2 parts
SFSF – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 33 indicators, 3 descriptors
MSRI – Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative
CSPR – Consolidated State Performance Reports 191 Indicators
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs 34 indicators
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
CCD – Common Core Data (fiscal) Financial data collected in survey format
SDFSCA – Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Data are collected in CSPR
M-V – McKinney-Vento Collected through CSPR.
Perkins – Perkins Act
RTTT – Race to the Top N/A
TIF – Teacher Incentive Fund 6 Sections
N or D Annual Report of Neglected and Delinquent (N or D) Children Collected through CSPR”

—————–

To clarify: the document that signed us up for PESC is the Utah application for the ARRA grant for a SLDS database. (This document resulted in Utah receiving $9.6 million from the federal government, none of which was used for actual education, but only to build the student database (SLDS).)

That SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and it says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA.

Who are these individuals? How many of them are there? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?

NON-COGNITIVE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA, TOO.

Starting at page 87, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.

These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”

The SSI inventory –your child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS) and there are plans to do this for earlier grades, but for now it’s for 11th and 12th graders. Demographic information is captured while administering the test and SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed needs to see it. (This is not a parental decision but a state decision.)

INTEGRATING STUDENT PSYCHOMETRIC CENSUS DATA INTO THE SLDS SYSTEM:

The SLDS grant also promises to integrate our psychological data into the SLDS (that database which the feds paid for/pushed on us.)

“Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data
Warehouse
the UDA. Both the USOE (K-12) and the Postsecondary Outcomes and Data Needs
sub-sections will address these needs.”

(My, what big data collection teeth you have, Grandmother!The better to integrate you with, my dear.)

Next, on page 87 of the same grant, Utah’s application for the ARRA money, it says:

“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs.
… We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”

So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s how they’re gathering the psychological data.

But that’s not the only way psychological data is being taken in Utah schools. “Behavioral indicators” are also required to be collected by the Common Core tests, those math and English A.I.R. or SAGE tests, as Utah House Bill 15, aka the Common Core Computer Adaptive Testing Bill, demands.

What can we do?

markey images

Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey has taken action. He articulated his concerns on this subject in a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan. Other legislators around the nation are writing bills to take protective action for student privacy.

I hope all Utah legislators read Senator Markey’s letter, peruse the PESC and ARRA (SLDS) grant documents, look into the SSI surveys, study the machinations of Secretary Arne Duncan,and then take action to put an end to the unreined and ever-growing network of entities which collude for profit and for other, various control-related reasons, to dismiss the vital right of student privacy.

This would mean ending the “partnerships” by Utah with: the CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign, the PESC State Model, the SLDS interoperability framework, the National Data Collection Model, the CEDS program of EIMAC; it would mean creating proper protections inside the Utah Data Alliance, and most of all, it would mean establishing permission from parents prior to any student SLDS surveillance.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey
Utah Mother

Utah Legislator Sparks Debate on US Education: To Reform or Restore?   7 comments

This week, a Utah legislator posted his views about education reform on his Facebook wall. The following post was compiled from that wall, by a Utah mother, Alyson Williams.

(Names have been replaced with generic titles.)

Thank you, Alyson.

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U.S. Education: to Reform or Restore?

Guest post by Utah Mother Alyson Williams

While we wish that these kinds of exchanges were happening in our state halls rather than just social media platforms, this exchange between a parent, a teacher, and a legislator as excerpted from the Utah legislator’s Facebook wall introduces an important question: should we be expanding and advancing centralized education reform or be seeking to restore ideals that have been lost? Do we know our own history well enough to discern the difference?

Parent: [Teacher], you seem to be talking just about the [Common Core] standards while [parent activist] has raised a warning about a bigger issue. Every state that adopted the standards did so in conjunction with a number of other reforms, the combination of which shift governance of education in significant ways. I hope this overview helps clarify that: http://prezi.com/icbma_8t5snu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

I appreciate [Representative] taking the time to attend a presentation I did on this subject in [City.]

Teacher: I did watch your presentation. I commend you for your activism and I understand your viewpoint. I have done my own extensive research. I even interviewed people from the Gates Foundation. I just don’t agree with your view point. Best wishes.

Parent: [Teacher], one way of demonstrating that we understand one another’s viewpoint is to restate it in our own words as I have attempted above. Apparently my understanding of your viewpoint being based on the standards alone is not complete. Would you be willing to share your research? What did you learn in speaking to the Gates Foundation? The goal of the reforms has been clearly stated as making kids “college and career ready,” or as the Governor explains it, “education for the workforce demands of the marketplace.” The reforms ensure a more coordinated and central role for state and federal government in this workforce oriented goal. Am I correctly understanding that you support that outcome?

Teacher: Yes that is correct and I think it is reasonable to believe that no matter what I share, you and I will still be of the same opinion still:) I have only replied to a few of [Representative’s] points as he is my representative and someone I have a great deal of respect for. You and I also know we could spend hours exchanging research-hours of which I do not have. I have a family, a full time teaching job and a personal life. I wish you well on your own path.

Parent: I can certainly identify with how busy you are [Teacher.] Thank you for confirming your viewpoint. I think it will be helpful to those following this thread to see more clearly both sides. As you say, I simply have a different viewpoint and value the way that education in our country was, for a long time, unique. For much of our history the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. Government-coordinated education for the workforce is an imported philosophy. Our Founding Fathers and other great thinkers were who they were because they studied the great works, not work itself. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a broadly educated and free people pursuing their own dreams works better than centrally planned education for efficiently trained workers.

Representative: … this is a good discussion. As a taxpayer, I don’t want my dollars going to public schools unless those schools are focusing on getting kids ready for jobs and the work force. Most of our country’s founders were not products of a public education system and they had different goals for their own classical education, and leisure time to pursue those goals (philosophy, government, law). I want the schools in my world to do everything they can to train the students to be ready to get a job in the modern workplace, and to expose them to those career and job skills now. Most of the skills that need to be taught in K-12 public schools to prepare students for the work force are essentially just literacy and numeracy, and those can and will continue to be taught by studying classical works (as my own kids are doing to the hilt now under Utah’s Common Core standards, based on my own personal experience reading The Scarlet Letter and other works together with them this year). But if we don’t make sure that these foundational language and math classes are aligned to the workplace and producing the skills needed in the work force, then I think we are wasting precious taxpayer dollars. By using terms such as “centrally planned economy,” many critics of Common Core make it sound like our U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by endorsing Common Core, is advocating moving our country to socialism. But of course that is not the case. Private businesses recognize that a large reason for the success and ascendancy of the United States on the world stage in the past century has been careful government planning and regulation (roads and transportation infrastructure, banking systems, stock market regulation, etc.). Central government planning is not inconsistent with free-market capitalism — in fact, I would argue it is essential for its endurance, if the U.S. wants to continue to be the leader on the world stage. For me, it is all about finding the right balance between government management and individual liberty. I think the minimal educational guidelines being implemented as Utah’s Common Core strike that proper balance and do not in any way endanger an individual’s liberties to pursue in this great country whatever she or he wishes to in life — in fact, the standards are an aid to help individuals more fully exercise and realize those individual freedoms of self-expression. Thanks for weighing in.

Parent: [Representative], I hope you, and the parents reading that last entry can recognize the false dichotomy implicit in your opening assertion. Current education reform is not about whether students should be well educated and prepared for professional success or not. The conflict is about whether that desirable goal is best achieved under local governance or if we should disregard the wisdom of history (and current federal statute) and allow for greater federal or otherwise centralized control. “Education for the workforce demands of the marketplace” does not just mean that we want our kids to be able to get a good job. It means policy, funding, programs etc. are prioritized for assessing and predicting what skills will be most useful to the workforce by the time our kids reach the workforce, and who has those skills – predictions that are notoriously inaccurate. Instead of fitting education to the aptitudes and interests of the individual, giving each his best shot, this system attempts to guide the individual to the education deemed best for the “greater common good.” The emphasis on the child as an investment of the collective, not an agent unto himself, is a principle of socialism and this, not the shortsighted endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is what liberty-minded people are criticizing. You mention your objective of finding a balance between government management and individual liberty. The bedrock principle for conservatives in identifying this balance is to only assign to the higher level of government what cannot be accomplished by a more local level. Thomas Jefferson explained it this way, “… the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.” You specifically praise the federal role in transportation infrastructure. That is a good example of something that might best be accomplished through the cooperation of states working through Congress (the body we elect to make these kinds of collective decisions, as opposed to that one club for Governors who’ve taken this role upon themselves recently.) This happens to be President Obama’s favorite example as well. [Ironically, he used it often when promoting the Stimulus which proved the catalyst for advancing these education reforms.] If I had a dollar for every speech in which he mentions “roads and bridges” (and how they’re crumbling, necessitating more spending) while touting the benevolence of an increasingly powerful and indebted federal government! It is clear that you like the standards which are under the jurisdiction of the State School Board. The rest, and the bulk of the reforms, are under the jurisdiction of the State Legislature. As an elected representative in that body I hope you’ll continue to familiarize yourself with the impact of those policies as well. Thank YOU for weighing in. It is so important to constituents to understand the positions of their representatives.

Parent again: As long winded as that was, I forgot to respond to one point you made. The founding fathers were indeed, for the most part, more fortunate in their opportunities for education because of their wealth and privilege. One notable exception is of course Benjamin Franklin, the youngest son of a mixed family that included something like 16 total siblings and step siblings. (There’s a fantastic study of a self-taught, self-made man.) What many of these men seemed to understand about the sustainability of their newly-formed Republic was that in order to have a self-governing people education had to become more than training for a trade like the privately arranged apprenticeships of the day – that the domains such as history, philosophy and law previously accessible only to the elite must be accessible to all. Our abandonment of this ideal in favor of skills rewarded in the workforce, especially over the past half-century, has resulted in our current situation where key protections of liberty established by the Constitution are systematically eroded and erased while too many sit idly by in apathy or ignorance. Meanwhile we continue to saddle the upcoming generations with the servitude of an outrageously unsustainable debt all the while professing to have their future financial success and the desire for a robust economy at heart. (We never did get a cost analysis on these reforms.)

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I want to add two things to what Alyson compiled.

1. “Combination of education with industrial production” is a direct goal, point #10, of the Communist Manifesto.. The push to align workforce with education goes directly against free agency and toward central planning. Do American legislators realize they’re enabling socialism/communism when they support “finding the right balance between government management and individual liberty?” You can’t balance the human tendency toward controlling others very easily; hence, the limitations outlined to keep the government very, very small and the people’s power big. The individual should have full control over his/her life.

2. In a book called “Free Agency: A Divine Gift,” a Utahn, David O. McKay, who was also a former teacher, wrote: “Let us, by exercising our privileges under the Constitution… Preserve our right to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, preserve the right to work when and where we choose. . . Feel free to plan and to reap without the handicap of bureaucratic interference, Devote our time, means, and life if necessary, to hold inviolate those laws which will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience.”

The wonder of individual, unfettered freedom and the absurd lie (that society needs central planners) is debunked in a great short film called “I, Pencil.” Worth watching.

Video: Heber City Hosts Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan on the Damages of Education Reforms   1 comment

Alyson Williams, the remarkable Utah researcher-mom who wrote the very popular and much reblogged essay “Children For Sale,” came to Heber City to speak about education reforms and how they hurt America. Here is that video.

Jakell Sullivan, another remarkable Utah researcher-mom, also gave an excellent talk and powerpoint presentation about resource redistribution that is taking place under new education reforms. Here is that video.

Thank you, Alyson and Jakell!

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