Archive for the ‘Stop Common Core’ Tag

Lee County School Board Opts All Children Out of High Stakes Tests   1 comment

Today, the Washington Post reported that in Lee County, Florida, the school board voted to opt the entire school district out of high stakes testing.  The superintendent didn’t love it, but she has to abide by the vote of the board.  Watch the cheering, standing ovation on this video after the board voted for the opt out.

Wahooo!

 

 

Oregon Rep Dennis Richardson Takes a Stand Against Common Core   4 comments

Read this week’s powerful letter by Oregon State Representative Dennis Richardson.

 

dennis r OREGON

Rep. Richardson’s Newsletter August 20, 2014

 

Common Core. The Answer to Oregon’s Failed Education System?

 

I flew helicopters for the Army in Vietnam. In flight school it was commonly known that one-third of us Warrant Officer Candidates would “wash-out” and not graduate. While a one-third wash-out rate may have been acceptable there, it is not acceptable for one-third of Oregon high school students to drop-out before graduation.

There are hard questions about Oregon’s education system that deserve to be answered. What will be the costs to individuals, families and society of having one-third of our students dropping out of high school? How are they going to perform in the competitive 21st century global job market? What is Governor John Kitzhaber and Oregon’s state education leaders doing to stop the race to the bottom, where Oregon currently has the second lowest graduation rate in the country, and the highest rate of chronic student absenteeism?

As families get their school supplies in order and make other preparations to help their students start the new school year on the right foot, many are questioning Oregon’s latest endeavor to fix our failed education system and wondering if it will pass the test. Today’s newsletter will address the misguided solution enacted by the Governor and state education leaders to the abysmal condition of Oregon’s public education system, by implementing the newest in a list of federally-promoted educational programs known as Common Core. To put this discussion into perspective, consider the following scenario: For years, the dilapidated Sellwood Bridge in SE Portland has been a source of concern. Out-of-date and unsafe, it needed to be completely rebuilt to remain functional, a project that is currently underway. Now imagine that because of the dilapidated condition of the Sellwood Bridge, every bridge in the state is to be torn down and rebuilt– all at the same time. Think of the cost, the disruption, the waste. Of course the idea would be ridiculous, but in a way it is exactly what is being foisted on the entire Oregon education system by mandating implementation of the Common Core, and the silence from the Legislature is deafening.

What is Common Core?

Starting this academic year, all Oregon public schools (as well as those in many other states) are scheduled to abandon previously established academic standards and implement a new and untried nationalized set of learning goals called Common Core. The performance of these standards will be measured by new standardized tests. At Common Core’s outset, when the federal government offered “stimulus” money to the state Governors that accepted Common Core, the standards and tests involved had not even been written. In other words, the Governor and state education leaders unilaterally committed all Oregon’s school districts to adopting a new statewide curriculum before it had even been developed, and Oregon was committed without Legislative consideration or approval.

Since then, Common Core’s standards and tests have been created by a group of people with very limited classroom experience, and in many cases NO classroom experience at all. Now, Common Core’s standards are being implemented without any legislative or public involvement, and still have not been fully tested. (The implementation of Common Core sounds to me like our national health plan, which was passed by Congress before any of our Congressional representatives had the opportunity to read it.) Currently many states are seeking to repeal or delay implementation of Common Core, and a great deal of legislation has been proposed across the nation to address this issue. The American Federation of Teachers union, called for a midcourse moratorium on the high-stakes consequences of Common Core. The Oregon teachers’ union (O.E.A.) has also called for a moratorium. Even Common Core’s biggest supporter, the Gates Foundation, has called for a two-year delay. Concern over prematurely implementing Common Core crosses political party lines. People who would normally be on opposite sides of the issues are banding together to speak out against Common Core.

Why is opposition to Common Core so widespread and impassioned?

Let’s ask the teachers, those who work in the ‘trenches,’ in Oregon’s classrooms, those who often spend more time with our children than anyone else. The best teachers will tell you that regardless of low pay or long hours, they are teachers because they are passionate about the subjects they teach, about learning, and about being able to make a difference in childrens’ lives. I can only imagine what it will do to the state of our classrooms if, when summer vacation ends, our teachers must throw out the lesson plans they adjust to meet their students’ needs and instead teach to Common Core’s new standardized tests—replacing curriculum with test preparation activities. The ‘heart’ and the passion that connects our best teachers to their students will be missing when they are relegated to class monitors, provided scripted materials written by bureaucrats and other non-educators. Certainly Oregon’s educational system needs to be overhauled, but Common Core is not ready to solve the systemic needs of Oregon’s failed educational system. Veteran teachers are reporting morale is at an all-time low and it’s attributed to the confusion and sterility of Common Core State Standard’s (CCSS) approach to learning and testing. This concerns me greatly, for if passion and creativity are forced out of teaching, we will lose our passionate and creative teachers.

To make matters worse, the future of our teachers are at risk. The new system will tie teacher evaluations to student success on Common Core tests without provisions made for those who teach our more “high-risk” learners, such as low-income students and those with learning disabilities. It seems an almost foregone conclusion that our at-risk learners will fail and the jobs of their teachers are jeopardized since pro-Common Core State Deputy School Superintendent Ron Saxton expects only 35% of Oregon students will pass the Common Core tests. The Oregon Department of Education has requested the U.S. Department of Education to temporarily let teachers off the hook for expected low test scores of Oregon students, but the schools and school districts will be ranked. Who then will teach our most challenged students, when teachers know their reputations or professional futures could be jeopardized if they work with at-risk students? Add the fact that teachers have been given little or no training on these new standards, and it becomes very evident that there are serious flaws with Common Core. Should we really be implementing something we are expecting students to fail? Who will flourish in this setting? Gifted students will be bored, students who already dislike school will be even more inclined to skip, and students with obstacles to learning will simply be unable to succeed. Teachers in schools that have already begun implementing Common Core tell me how struggling students are being pulled from electives in order to pass early implementation Common Core tests. These teachers are witnessing the marginalization of students whose strengths lie outside of the areas being tested. Many teachers are agonizing that Common Core’s mandate will do more harm than good, and will only compound Oregon’s problems with absenteeism and lack of on-time graduation. Is this really what we want for Oregon’s children? Of course not.

When it comes to enacting these new standards, we have more unanswered questions. How much will it cost to train teachers to implement Common Core? How much to purchase new learning materials and to acquire the technology necessary to administer and track the tests? And, who will pay? With schools already in dire financial straits, where will the money come from to implement yet another federal educational experiment on Oregon’s rising generation? Finally, it concerns me to see that many of the people behind these standards and the requirements of these tests are affiliated with multi-billion dollar companies with financial conflicts of interest.

These are companies that have near monopolies on the contracts to provide the tests and corresponding curriculum. There is a glaring conflict of interest in having mandatory materials designed by those who are positioned to profit from them. And even if profits to its originators didn’t taint this new system, even if good intentions were the sole impetus behind this top-down policy, national control of state education policies is still a bad idea.

Decisions about the education of our children should not be dictated by a select, distant few. Educational decisions are best made by those closest to the students—parents, teachers and local school boards—not far away state and federal bureaucrats and large, conflicted corporate representatives. Oregon’s education standards need local control with rational state oversight and evidence-based practices learned from Oregon’s most successful schools. Currently, Oregon’s on-time graduation rate is second worst in the nation and our student absentee rate higher than every other state. I believe in educational equality for all students and that every student deserves three things—a mentor, a reason to stay in school and an opportunity for a decent job after graduation. I believe action to fix Oregon’s failing schools system must be taken, but it should be based on what is working in Oregon’s most successful schools, not untried educational experiments fomented by national “educrats” and funded with federal largess.

Solutions for Oregon educational system’s tragic failure. Rather than fret over the dismal state of Oregon’s statewide educational system and rather than pathetic attempts by Governor Kitzhaber and his appointed education leaders to address it by implementing Common Core, let’s look to Oregon’s home-grown examples of success. Let’s look to the many stories of exemplary teaching and learning that are setting the standard for academic achievement in Oregon. At Riverdale High School in SW Portland, students in Mark Wechter’s physics class are ranked among the best national and international young bridge engineers today. At Summit High School in Bend, more than 40% of the students take AP classes prior to graduation. Students in the Portland School District have won more National Constitution Team championships than any other city in the nation. Singers in Sue Schriener’s vocal ensemble, “Souled Out” at Wilsonville High have competed nationally and are strong enough musicians to share the spotlight with professional ensembles. And there are many more stories like these. In fact, 77 Oregon public schools were exemplary according to the US News and World Report 2014 list of America’s best high schools.

The list of Oregon schools included four with gold medals (Beaverton’s International School ranked #26 out of more than 19,000 public schools nationwide), 22 with silver medals and 51 with bronze medals. With answers and examples of excellence right here in Oregon, why on earth should we diminish these rich learning environments by focusing on untried, one-size-fits-all nationalized experiments like Common Core? We shouldn’t. I believe it’s in the best interests of our students to stop implementing Common Core. It’s a remotely managed reform measure fraught with problems. Let’s look to model programs in Oregon’s own commendable schools for guidance on how to improve the performance of schools and students that are struggling. We should halt Common Core’s race to the middle and allow local schools who best understand their students to engage in creating Oregon’s educational solutions. We should focus on what it is that engages students and keeps them interested and in school, rather than on high stakes educational experiments written by “educrats” who don’t have an understanding of our children. Simply put, I strongly recommend we join the ranks of states that require “evidence-based” practices and have turned down Common Core.

Since our students are returning to class in less than a month, our Governor and state education leaders should immediately put a moratorium on Common Core. If they fail to take the initiative, our Legislative leaders should be unified in demanding an immediate moratorium on Common Core. We only have one chance to educate a child and all our children deserve better than what they’ll get from Common Core.

 

Sincerely,

 

Representative Dennis Richardson

The Hero Behind Saxon Math   5 comments

saxon

Recognizing an American Hero: John Saxon

by Nakonia (Niki) Hayes

This article, found at Education Views, introduces John Saxon, whose math materials are used by one million home schooled students today.  Saxon’s textbooks are found in Arizona’s BASIS schools, as well as in private schools and some public schools across the country.  

Both this article and the book about John Saxon are written by Niki Hayes, who has given permission to repost the article here. 

Seeking recognition for a hero in mathematics education may be a waste of time since so many Americans’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of the word “math.” Too many claim they don’t like math, can’t do math, or don’t want even to think about math. (This phenomenon is found only in America. Interestingly, such attitudes are not heard in Third World countries that produce strong math students.)

So what’s the point in looking at an American math hero now? Maybe recognizing a math teacher-turned-millionaire-author-and-publisher who took a beating for 15 years from the powerful math education establishment will help refuel the parents and citizens—those special “Davids”—who are stepping up to fight the unified Goliaths of Common Core.

His enemies, who are among today’s Goliaths, will sneer upon hearing his name: John Saxon. They still refuse to accept the results of his “common sense genius” in teaching K-12 mathematics.

Saxon literally popped onto the national math education scene unexpectedly and uninvited in 1981 after self-publishing his first algebra textbook. Reformist authors, who quickly became his opponents, were claiming that making math more fun and “relevant” to girls and minorities was the answer to getting higher scores on international tests. He said his proven book was user-friendly and historically-based and was the answer for all students. They said his ideas worked only for white males and Asians because American girls and minorities couldn’t think analytically or with deductive reasoning. He called them racist and sexist. War was declared on Saxon with all the might of federal, state, and local resources of the math education leadership.

He had no idea that he, in turn, would ultimately choose to be a catalyst for the “math wars” that erupted among parents, school districts, and state textbook committees in the 1990s, and that the results of his promoting parent empowerment for a decade might help set up the battles by parents against Common Core.

Saxon was simply a retired U.S. Air Force officer who had begun teaching algebra to students in night classes at Oscar Rose Junior College in Oklahoma in 1970. Having taught engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he discovered woeful deficiencies in his community college students’ basic math skills. Determining they were capable of learning but that they had not been taught those basic skills, he began creating specially-designed worksheets of problems for his students over the next five years, with step-by-step procedures and a use of creative repetition for continuous practice. By 1975, he had a manuscript that the junior college print shop mimeographed and collated for the students.

Then in 1980, after a year-long pilot study in 20 Oklahoma public schools with amazing results (monitored by the Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation of Teachers), Saxon was ready to publish his book in hardback for any school that taught a first year algebra course. He was rebuffed by six publishers in New York City because he wasn’t “a member of a math education committee.” One other publisher did suggest, however, that he publish the book himself. Borrowing $80,000, Saxon did just that. When he died in 1996, Saxon Publishers in Norman, Oklahoma, had sales of $27 million. When his company was sold in 2004, the reported selling price was $100 million.

For those 15 years as a teacher, author, and publisher, Saxon found himself on the defensive against not only government bureaucrats, but the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), a powerful special interest group with political ties to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The followers of NCTM were receiving large federal grants to write reform math materials that promoted equity over excellence as the new American goal in mathematics. They did not want to share their bounty and prestige with an outsider who wasn’t even “trained” as a teacher. Worse, he disagreed with their equity ideology as the new function of math education.

They attacked his traditional content with no pictures as boring and “drill and kill.” He had refused to put color photos in his books, saying that such space and costs should be used for showing examples on how to work the problems rather than promoting social justice. He insisted on incremental development with one lesson per day, his unique creative repetition, and no separate chapters which he called “hunk learning”—i.e., students trying to consume a major concept and moving on to the next hunk even if they hadn’t digested the previous one. He required a test after every five lessons so reteaching, if needed, could be planned immediately. And, unbelievably, students were not allowed to use calculators for daily work or tests until the eighth grade. (That’s still true today with Saxon Math.)

Saxon scoffed when reformists insisted that historically-proven mathematics, which had been developed over 2,000 years by diverse cultures from around the world, was effective only with “white males” in America—and “Asians.” Then, he would explode with anger over what he called disastrous teaching materials and methods being purchased without proof of their results.

The biggest surprise to the leaders was when Saxon bought full-page advertisements in mathematics journals, magazines and major newspapers to respond to the charges laid against him and his work. As a World War II veteran, West Point graduate, Korean War combat pilot awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Vietnam veteran, Saxon was a fully trained and experienced warrior who was now fighting “a good war” for children in American mathematics education. Later described as the “George Patton of math education,” Saxon saw no purpose in losing any battle and was not averse to launching a frontal assault. He often got bloodied, but so did they.

As a man with three degrees in engineering, he also knew about the use of mathematics in the real world, including flying airplanes in life and death situations. He ridiculed the elitists’ feigned “real world” problems in textbooks. Saxon wasn’t about to back down from those he thought were promoting their ideology in textbooks and not proving their programs’ results before launching them into schools. “Results matter,” he kept saying, and he had reams of results to show that his textbooks were working.

He constantly called on parents to step forward and fight the new “fuzzy math” programs. Some parents finally did come out swinging in California and in 1994 led a major change in that state’s curriculum standards. That parental action is being repeated now across America regarding Common Core.

Some of his opponents literally cheered when he died. They still hate him today, 18 years after his death. Schools of education that train teachers dismiss his work even though many of his warnings about their programs have come true:

  • Use of calculators too early ruins students’ acquisition of basic skills, many of which must be learned by memorization, such as multiplication facts and mental math.
  • Not understanding the importance of algebra—true algebra—at the eighth grade level as the gateway subject for later entry into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would prevent many students from entering those fields and leave America short-handed for individuals who could help provide growth and development of the country.
  • Turning teacher-facilitated, rather than teacher-led, classrooms into discovery fun fests with lots of conversation, written explanations of problem-solving, and a focus on non-competitive, differentiated learning found math classrooms that included the weakest to the gifted student. “White males,” gifted children, and Asians were effectively ignored. Process, not the results, was to be enjoyed. Saxon warned this would cause both girls and boys of all races to be in remedial math classes in college, which would negate many of their career choices. Seventy to ninety percent of community college students are indeed enrolled in remedial math today. Up to forty percent must take it in four-year colleges. Common Core proponents claim they will change that statistic—with their weakened math program that even their leaders admit won’t prepare students for STEM careers.

John Saxon’s Story, a genius of common sense in math education, is the biography of a man who fought for his country in three wars and then, in an unexpected second career, for American children in mathematics education. He became, and still is, a real hero to millions of children:

A class of eighth graders in a Spokane, WA, Catholic school put his algebra book on the church’s altar at Thanksgiving in 1985 because of their appreciation for its impact on their learning. The Window Rock High School Navajo students in Fort Defiance, AZ, chose him as their graduation speaker over the state’s governor in 1992. His materials are used by one million home schooled students today and his textbooks are found in Arizona’s successful BASIS charter schools, as well as in private schools and smaller public schools across the country.

The biography is filled with facts and stories of his successes, as well as an honest portrayal of a colorful, eccentric man “cursed with clarity” who proved to be a born teacher as well as a born warrior. All proceeds from the biography go to West Point’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in honor of LTC (Ret.) John Harold Saxon, Jr. More can be learned about John Saxon and the book at http://saxonmathwarrior.com. (A free 16-page booklet can also be downloaded.)

Dr. Gary Thompson: On the State Board of Education Meeting   1 comment

Dr Thompson

 

Dr. Gary Thompson is a rock star.

Despite his shy nature, he’s one of the loudest, smartest, funniest and most fearless fighters in the quest to protect children and to expose the widespread education-establishment corruption called Common Core.

He actually fights.  Actually cares.  Is not in it for money.

He’s not one of the politicorporate bad guys who use the pretense of “doing what’s best for the children” as a facade for just the opposite– to gain power, prestige and money at children’s expense.  (I’m talking about:  Pearson Education/Bill Gates/Arne Duncan/A.I.R./Chambers of Commerce/Marc Tucker/ Obama/ CCSSO, etc. etc. –as well as those who sustain the bad guys’ club, promoting Common Core and student data mining and teacher redistribution– yes, yes, the education folk whom we’ve elected or appointed even here in Utah.)

Dr. Thompson is a Utah doctor of clinical psychology and a very vocal advocate for children’s protection –from data mining, from excessive high-stakes testing and from age-inappropriate educational standards.

He’s given me permission to post his notes here, which were directed to the Utah State School board and State Office of Education.  Thanks, Dr. Thompson.

 

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From July 18, 2014:

 

In a public hearing yesterday Utah State Board members debated the issue of going back to the “old” (“No Child Left Behind”) or pushing forward with the developmentally inappropriate Common Core.

debra roberts   State Board Member Debra Roberts stated –in support of going forward with Common Core and renewing the NCLB waiver– “What counts to me is the immediate impact on individual students who are most vulnerable, and absolutely there would be an immediate impact on those kids.”

The adoption of Common Core for “the most vulnerable” of our kids flies in the face of science and parental common sense. I will leave all the political and money issues to the Board experts, but I will crucify on social and national media any and all Utah State Board members who are insane enough to cite the heart string pulling, manipulative “vulnerable kids” argument in support of Common Core.

That one-size-fits-all recent adoption of special education policies of the U.S. Department of Education is nothing short of developmental and cognitive child abuse.

Yes, Ms. Roberts, I said “Child Abuse“.

Use ANY other justification to support your wish to go forward with the waiver and stay on course with Common Core, but to use “vulnerable children” as any part of that justification is disingenuous, not supported by facts of science and child psychology.

Ms. Robert’s comments are nothing but a shameless manipulation of parents who voted for her to represent the best interests of their children, not the special interest groups of Utah’s teachers union or Bill Gate’s special interest testing groups.

Fellow Board Member Jeff Moss had the wisdom and courage to pull a last second, heroic motion out of his bag of procedural tricks to halt voting on this issue until more facts were gathered. One of these facts is the harm Common Core has on our States “most vulnerable children.”

Regardless of the consequences personally or professionally, I will not silence my voice while any Utah State Board Member uses the “vulnerable children” argument as justification to move forward with the NCLB waiver so that Common Core can continue to cause emotional, developmental, and cognitive harm to the children I dedicated my life to treating and serving…. and raising.

Ms. Roberts: Feel free to “spin” money issues. Spin the Standards debate. Spin anything you want in this debate Ms. Roberts. However, if you use “vulnerable children”…my therapist’s clients…or my own developmentally vulnerable children as part of your spin, I promise I will make you famous this summer.

-Dr. Gary Thompson-
Parent & Stay Home Dad

 

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Dr. Thompson also posted this letter, which is somehow hilarious even though it points out a tragic fact: that our educational leaders are promoting experimental, unvetted, non-peer-reviewed education standards –the Common Core standards– as if they were legitimate.

 

From July 24th:

Dear USOE:

Attached is something called “peer reviewed research”. When treating or testing children, especially those designated as “vulnerable populations,” we gear all our practices to be aligned with this type of research.

It’s best practice. It’s safe for the children. It’s the smart thing to do.

We do not base services provided to kids based on influences of special interest groups or Bill Gates. Nor do we give out propaganda-based information to parents, as such may pertain to children in vulnerable populations.

Peer reviewed research: Try it. You may like it!

exc.sagepub.com

 

-Dr. Gary Thompson

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The next Utah State School Board meeting is on August 8th.  It’s an open meeting.  The public is wanted–and needed.

Many will be there, showing by our presence that it matters to us what the board does in this vote.  We will wear matching stickers to petition the board NOT to renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind (ESEA).  The board will vote on that day.   The email for the board is board@schools.utah.gov and the phone number is 801-538-7517.  You may have two minutes to speak at that meeting if you call well in advance.

Oklahoma Parents and Teachers Win State Supreme Court Case Against Common Core   1 comment

From Jenni White of Oklahoma
After filling the Supreme Court of Oklahoma with so many people the Bailiff had to bring in folding chairs to accommodate everyone, the lawsuit brought by parents, teachers and members of our own Oklahoma state school board was heard yesterday morning.  I took copious notes because the entire proceeding was fascinating to me, as I had never seen a case argued before the Supreme Court.  I certainly encourage everyone to do so as well!  One day I hope to get the notes transcribed to share, but the important thing here, is that in the end, Solicitor General Wyrick did a beautiful job defending the legislature and the people of Oklahoma and the case was decided in favor of the people by a ruling of 8-1.
Though I know of no one who was sure of the outcome, a question asked by Justice Edmondson probably provided a hint. There were many smiles and even a few muffled laughs, as Justice Edmondson asked Attorney McCampbel, a question similar to, “Didn’t the legislature direct the state school board to adopt Common Core in the first place?”
Thank you to all those who helped us hire our attorneys. With Amicus briefs filed on behalf of ROPE, Tulsa912Project, Professional Oklahoma Educators and Eagle Forum, I do believe it helped. Also, thank you so much to all of you who attended. There was great decorum in the room and I think it was important for the Justices to see that this issue was so important to so many parents and citizens.   I hope our three successive wins this year (the passage of HB3399, electing a new superintendent and winning the court case against HB3399) are helping you to understand that citizens/parents can have an impact on OUR government. In fact, my greatest hope is that Oklahoma citizens will begin to realize that We The People can influence our government through our Representatives.  Education, combined with a few emails, calls and an appearance once or twice at the Capitol can encourage our representatives in state government to support educational liberty in our state.   I‘m attaching a number of articles at the bottom of this email in case you want to read more about the decision.
Thank you so much for your support, I will be releasing another email soon with more information on where we go from here. Please do not think the fight for educational liberty is over in Oklahoma. It is not. Too many laws, rules and identities have been forged to perpetuate the notion of education ‘reform’ and accountability. There is much, much more to do, so continue to stay aware and informed.
Very Sincerely,

Event Ticket Giveaway Today: Beck’s We Will Not Conform   3 comments

Glenn_Beck_by_Gage_Skidmore_3copy_2

If you are interested in attending the Glenn Beck “We Will Not Conform” event which will play live on the big screen at the Provo, Utah Cinemark 16 on 1200 Towne Center Boulevard, today’s a lucky day. I’ve been given four special event passes by a Glenn Beck producer to give away and they need your name on them.

Just send an email to consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com with one reason that you would like two free tickets to this show.  Give me your mailing address and I’ll send out the four tickets,  two tickets per winner, today.  If you don’t win the free tickets, you may buy tickets at FathomEvents.com

About the event:

This Tuesday, July 22nd,  liberty goes up against the Common Core.  A live, interactive event will take place at about 700  local movie theaters across the nation simultaneously.  It will be filmed at the Glenn Beck studios in Dallas, Texas, where a handful of Utah friends will join others in Dallas as part of Glenn Beck’s participant panel.

Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Jenni White, David Barton and many other Common Core fighters will interact with the nationwide audience, via social media, in a meeting of the minds to use “the brainpower, experience and passion of thousands of people from around the country…captured in a comprehensive, unified plan of action”.

You don’t want to miss this.

Another, non-interactive repeat showing of the evening will be rebroadcast in theaters on the evening of July 29th.

Dear Utah Educators Association: From Renee Braddy   1 comment

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Renee Braddy, a Utah mother and a former elementary school teacher, has given permission to post this letter which she sent to the Utah Educator’s Association office.

As of this posting, she has still not heard back from the UEA.

  Thank you, Renee.

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To Whom it Concerns:

I am writing to you first and foremost as a parent and second as a former public school teacher in Utah.   I faithfully belonged to and supported the UEA the entire time I taught..  Today, I was sent an email from a friend. [Read it here.]   The letter was from the UEA and it was a request for its members to voice their support for the Common Core because of concerns being voiced by a “small vocal minority”. 

I would likely fit into that category.  It seems this emailwas an attempt to label, marginalize, and thus dismiss those who have voiced concerns or opposition.  I feel that my concerns, both as a parent and educator, are valid and are based on legal documents and lengthy research.  I am writing in hopes of working together. 

My experience has been that the large majority of citizens (including parents, teachers and administrators) are unaware of the big picture that comes with the adoption of the Common Core agenda.  It is so much more than a set of standards.  So, I would say that my experience has been that a large majority are silent on their like or dislike for Common Core.  Silence is not acceptance; it is most likely ignorance. 

I believe that as American citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to voice our opinions and to have questions answered and concerns addressed.    Unfortunately, this opportunity never happened with Utah’s adoption of common core.  Due process didn’t occur and the parents and teachers feel like a trust was violated.

I believe that Utah has some of the finest educators in the nation and my hope is to return educational decisions to the hands of parents, teachers and local administrators.   I don’t think the shift began with Common Core, but it is the current reform and parents and teachers aren’t happy now. The issues need to be addressed, not dismissed. 

Teachers have been told that “it will not bode well professionally to speak against Common Core.”   They have told me that they have been sent a clear message that they should not talk about their concerns –and definitely not while at school.  Local school board members are also being told to not speak out, and that they need to support the state board.

I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns and attempt to work together for a solution that is right for our state. 

Please let me know when is most convenient.

Renee Braddy

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While we wait patiently together to see if the UEA has the inclination to respond to Renee, I have a few thoughts.   I happen to be waiting patiently, too, for a response to my letter to Governor Herbert (see below).   But visiting or writing letters to any member of  the education establishment results in either: a)  silence or: b)  a ridiculous pat on the head.   Anyone who’s tried, knows.
This happens over and over and over– not only at the Utah state level, but also at the local school board level, and at the federal (unconstitutional) Department of Education level.
It does not stop us from writing, calling, and going to as many of their meetings as we can stomach.
I believe in the squeaky wheel theory, and I believe in Jesus’ parable about the woman and the unrighteous judge from Luke 18.  If everyone who wanted Common Core to go away would call, write, and pray repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasingly Common Core could not stand.  No legs.
Why not?  Because Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing networks and lies– to stand on.  It has countless millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
And that is the simple,  incredible truth.  No legs.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no actual international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no wisdom, no love for classical education,  no state-led history,  no hope of developing a real love of learning; no common sense.

angryteacher

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:   There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.   And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
There are people at the State Office of Education and at the State School Board who likewise “fear not God, nor regard man” yet because we trouble them, they may choose to “avenge” our cause, since by our “continual coming” we weary them.  And weary them we must because as a state, we are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence.
Spiral of silence is the name of a well-studied communications theory by Dr. Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a phenomenon which happens when people fear separation or isolation (or job loss or even death) but perceiving or believing that they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
Spiral of Silence theory arose as an explanation for why so many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s.  Parents, teachers and legislators who do not know enough about Common Core and the Common Data Standards, and who are told to “support” them, do not feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them.  The pressure is even more intense for state school board members and the UEA, which explains, in part, the repeated official stonewalling that we experience and the relatively low number of teachers and education officials who fight against the whole suffocating Common Core and Common Data Standards agenda.
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But I will admit that I laughed out loud when I saw the “official” silencing response sent to me by a clerk from the governor’s office, in response to my letter last week to our governor.  I would have received the same email had I sent the governor my favorite potato salad recipe.
Following my letter to the governor, I received this from constituentservices@utah.gov:

July 9, 2014

Dear Christel:

Thank you for your email to the Office of the Governor regarding Education (Common Core). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Governor.

Our office appreciates hearing from constituents and your comments and opinion regarding this issue have been noted.

Thank you for taking time to contact us regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Tiffany Clason
Constituent Services

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I wrote back.
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Tiffany,

That was not a response to my letter.  Please contact your supervisor..  I feel that an honest and important letter deserves and honest and important response.
Thank you.

Christel
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Constituent services wrote back:
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Christel, 

Thank you for your follow up email. I regret that my response was not satisfactory. We receive hundreds of email, letters, and calls daily and aim to make sure every constituent gets confirmation that their correspondence was received and that their opinion is taken under consideration.
Common Core is a very important issue and the Governor is paying close attention to the feedback, opinions, and concerns he is receiving from constituents all over the state. Having said that, our office is appreciative of the initiative you took to thoughtfully email us with your experience related to Common Core and your concerns for the Common Education Data Standards.
Kind Regards,
Tiffany Clason
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I wrote back.
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Tiffany,

While I appreciate the fact that you are responding, I still request a substantive response from someone at the Governors’ office.  Noting that the Governor “is paying close attention” is not a response to the issues I raised but merely an acknowledgement that I wrote at all.
Please, forward my email, and the other emails you have been receiving, to those in office who are responsible to the people for these decisions.  Perhaps the lieutenant governor has more time to answer specifics than the governor?
Constituents deserve real answers, not pats on the head and thank yous for simply writing at all.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
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I  am patiently waiting to see if anyone at the Governor’s office or anyone who I copied the letter to at the office of education has the time to respond with substance.
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Meanwhile, I sent a form of the same letter to the Daily Herald.    My state school board representative, Dixie Allen, decided to respond.  Dixie Allen’s response at the Daily Herald did not address my concerns although it was long.  It said that she was one those responsible for bringing Common Core to Utah, and she defended that decision.   I remain unanswered, by deafening silence by both the Governor’s office and my state school board representative, on these issues:
  • 1) Why are parents denied the right to opt children out of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS)  which tracks them almost for their entire lives without parental consent?
  • 2)  Why has there been no freedom of conscience, no open debate among educators when it comes to Common Core?
  • 3) How can we maintain the reins of local control of education when we are attached like siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control Common Core?
  • 4)  Why doesn’t Utah have her own standards, instead of copyrighted standards coming out of unelected D.C. groups?
  • 5) Why has Utah agreed to Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) which align our private data with federal data standards?
  • 6) Why doesn’t Utah look to the example of South Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s governors, who have decried the Common Education Agenda, and get Utah out of it, as those states have so wisely, so importantly, done?
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Please make some time and join me and other teachers and parents this Thursday in Salt Lake City as we simply show up to show that we are aware of what is going on in education today.  We will attend the open state school board meeting.  Some of us will speak at the 2 minute public comment segment.  Most of us won’t say a word.  Please, just show up.  That day, they are to decide whether or not to renew the federal NCLB waiver which Utah received in part as a reward for agreeing to do Common Core instead of NCLB.
If you can’t be there, please DO SOMETHING ELSE.  There is so much we can do.   Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov.  We can write or call the board, the newspapers and t.v. stations. We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number). We can politely and persistently pester the principals and state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber of Pearson Ed.  (If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things any month, at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov)
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