Archive for the ‘Utah State Office of Education’ Tag
Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.
Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.
If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.
An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day. Present were the Governor and his bodyguard; legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates. The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.
At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools. The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core. (The video that was looped is viewable here. For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view – see this video, too.)
There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC) booth than around any other, by a long shot. Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.
I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems. (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)
But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process. These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.
Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation. It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be. It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.
Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass. It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that had passed earlier this year in California.
But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory. The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly. The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core. (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)
And the media were generally against us. Both the Tribune and KSL had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.
So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth. I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle of the resolution passing.
Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news. Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word: “PASSED!!!!”
Our resolution passed! It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns. 65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.
It was a welcome surprise.
Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed. I learned that the powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution. They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held. Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage. There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.
Finally the resolution was debated. There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.
Sixty five percent voted for it to pass! That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core. This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.
But it didn’t make the Tribune. It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.
Who knows why? Sigh.
Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks. There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.
Let’s not let them get away with it.
Last night at your presentation on Common Core tests, you promised to direct me to references documenting the truth of your statement: that the new common core AIR/SAGE tests are written by Utahns, for Utahs, in Utah. I am writing to request a direct link to that documentation. I appreciate your response.
You also promised to answer questions after the meeting; however, when I asked you mine after the meeting, you turned away from me and began to speak to a principal instead. The question remains unanswered: will you please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are truly legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
While the testing technology is indeed impressive, it reminds me of admiring a shiny new roof on a building built on quicksand. Admiring the roof seems a bit pointless. I’m asking you to prove we’re not on quicksand. Can you?
Last night, a few of us were asking whether student behavioral indicators would be tested. You smiled warmly and said the test would only cover math, English and science.
However, in HB15, the legislation that created space for these new common core computer adaptive tests, it says:
59 (d) the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance;
I was unsure what student behavior indicators were until I read the recent explanation of a licensed clinical psychologist, who explained that it’s literally anything– anything from mental health evaluation to sporting events to social habits to family status and that measuring behavioral indicators gives results-readers “godlike predictive ability” over that child. Since A.I.R. is a behavioral research agency before it’s an academic testing company, according to its own website, this concerns me greatly.
Please explain how Utah parents can rest assured that their children will not be tested and tracked concerning anything other than math, English and science in light of this legislation and in light of A.I.R.’s stated purpose.
Of all the things that the Truth in American Education site has posted, my favorite thing is that title.
Truth in American Education. The title itself teaches a fact most Americans still don’t realize: that there are loads of lies parading as education reform improvements that need exposure via verifiable, well researched facts. It does not matter if good people with good intentions, merely parroting information received from other organizations, tell those lies in all sincerity. Sincerity does not trump truth. Facts are still facts and the consequences for all of us are huge for aligning our school systems with such lies.
Our children’s futures are at stake, yet few parents stand up. Why? For those of us who are naturally nonconfrontational and trusting, the title, Truth in American Education, is a wakeup call that we should ask questions, verify claims and demand references for promises being spoken by authority figures in education reform today. We should know our educational rights under the Constitution and know our rights as parents. Don’t take unreferenced promises as answers.
Speaking of which: today I became aware of a 204-page document put out by the Utah State Office of
It’s called “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards.”
You can access the 204-pager here:
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, an education scholar and whistleblower, one who is often quoted at the Truth in American Education website, happens to have read the 204-page Utah document, “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards.”
Stotsky previously served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and was among those who refused to sign off that the Common Core standards were, in fact, adequate.
Of ”A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards,” Stotsky states, ”lies and unsupported claims“ abound in the document.
She also writes:
“the writers didn’t even get the committee I was on right. I was appointed to the Validation Committee, not the Standards Development Committee, and along with the one mathematician on the Validation Committee (and 3 others) declined to sign off on the final version of Common Core’s standards.
The writers keep repeating ad nauseam that Common Core was a state-led effort. Everyone knows most of the effort was financed by the Gates Foundation and that Gates chose the standards writers who had no qualifications for writing K-12 standards in either ELA or math (David Coleman and Jason Zimba).
… I frankly can’t spend time on people who can’t document with citations their claims. What country was used for international benchmarking? Where’s the evidence?
The document simply repeats the false claims made by CCSSO from the beginning.”
— —– —
Despite not being willing to spend time rebutting a resource guide that fails to document its claims with citations, Dr. Stotsky took the time to bust 5 myths that the document contains:
1. Myth (Lie): Common Core was a state-led initiative.
Truth: Common Core was funded and directed behind-the-scenes by the Gates Foundation at every step. Gates funded NGA and CCSSO to serve as the front organizations, selected key people to be on the standards development committees (mostly from testing agencies), and funded many organizations, including the Fordham Institute and the PTA, to promote its adoption. Fordham was funded in particular to ensure that Common Core’s math and ELA standards (no matter what their condition) were given a high grade in a comparison review so that most states would accept the lie that CC’s standards were fewer, clearer, and more in-depth than whatever they had. Most states were willing to accept this lie because the USDE dangled RttT funds before their eyes. Gates and the USDE worked together on the incentives to states. Gates also funded the writing of many states’ applications for RttT funds by hiring consultants to write the applications for them.
2. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards were developed by the states—or by experts.
Truth: CC’s standards were written by people chosen by the Gates Foundation to write the standards: David Coleman and Jason Zimba, in particular. Coleman had no credentials for writing ELA standards, had never taught at any grade level, and was not a literary scholar. (Nor had his associate—Susan Pimentel. She had taught only in Head Start and had no degree in English.) Zimba, too, had never taught in K-12 mathematics, and had no experience in developing or writing math standards.
3. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked.
Truth: Common Core’s standards were never internationally benchmarked because they couldn’t be. They are about two grades lower than what most other countries accept as “college readiness”. No countries have ever been mentioned by CCSSO as “benchmarking” countries.
4. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s standards prepare students for college or university.
Truth: Jason Zimba told the Massachusetts Board of Education in March 2010 that college readiness in mathematics means readiness for admission to a non-selective community college. (This is recorded in the minutes of the meeting.)
5. Myth (Lie): Common Core’s ELA standards promote literary study.
Truth: Coleman’s 50/50 mandate requires English teachers to teach to 10 informational reading standards and 9 literary standards each year. His mandate reduces literary study because English teachers must add informational texts to their curriculum. There is no research base showing that an increase in informational reading in the English class leads to greater college readiness. Just the contrary. The evidence, historical and empirical, shows that a focus on reading and discussing complex literature in high school leads to college readiness.
What more can I possibly add to Dr. Stotsky’s clear corrections to the Utah State Office of Education?
–Maybe an acronym translator:
ELA – English Language Arts
NGA – National Governors’ Association (the group that with CCSSO created Common Core)
CCSSO – Council of Chief State School Officers (the group that with NGA created Common Core)
USDE (U.S. Department of Education)
RTTT – Race To The Top (a competitive grant opportunity that the federal government used to incentivize Common Core adoption to the states)
PTA (Parent-Teacher Association, a national group that promoted Common Core because Bill Gates paid them to)
Children for Sale
By Alyson Williams
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!
Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.
That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?
At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:
Question: “How much will this cost?”
Answer: “These are really good standards.”
Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”
Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”
Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”
Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”
Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’
Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”
It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”
I stopped asking. I started reading.
I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.
I learned a lot.
I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.
I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”
I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.
I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.
I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.
I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.
I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.
I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.
I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.
I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.
I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.
I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?
I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.
I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.
I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.
I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.
Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.
If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?
If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?
What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.
When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!
Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.
As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.
When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.
As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.
When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.
Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.
I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.
If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.
Sources for research: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FlowchartSources.pdf
I wrote a letter to the principal who heads the school that my non-homeschooled child attends. It’s posted below. What got me thinking enough to write it was Sue Schmidt’s letter, posted by Oak Norton on Utahns Against Common Core, today. It is posted under my letter.
Regardless of what political views you hold, you likely agree that educators should recognize and get rid of Anti-American bias that poses as modern “fact”. Freedom of thought and expression demand that bias be exposed, not promoted, especially in schools.
I am forwarding this email below, hoping you will double check before ordering any history or social studies texts that minimize teaching a reverence for American history and citizenship, in favor of anti-American, collectivist “global citizenship”.
I see an aggressive “progressive” move in education today, away from traditional loyalty to the Constitution and toward global citizenry and U.N. reverence. I noticed this slant in last year’s WHS A.P. Geography text, for example.
I have taken the time to study actual speeches (posted on YouTube) given by Michael Barber, the CEA of educational text corporation PEARSON. We use Pearson in Wasatch, as you know. But you may not know where they come from politically.
This British CEA, Michael Barber, also regularly “tweets” about American politics needing to veer left. I heard things in Barber’s speeches that I don’t think parents here want to push students toward. I assume Barber’s philosophies trickle down into Pearson’s instructional materials.
Just asking you to read extra carefully.
———- Forwarded message ———-
I received this email yesterday and (with permission from Sue to post) thought I would pose the question to parents, do you know what’s in your child’s school books?
I just thought you would be interested and I want to let as many parents as possible aware of my experience. I have been a homeschooling mom mostly since my now 17 year olds were in 3rd grade. We recently moved to Springville and that combined with other circumstances led me to try public school for all my 7 kids who are of school age (I have 2 younger ones still at home.)
It has a positive experience so far in many ways but I continue to dislike common core on many levels and I have really been concerned about what is and isn’t being taught in history. So concerned that I decided to ask my 6th grade child’s teacher if I could borrow a copy of the history books he is teaching out of.
Appalled is the ONLY word I can think of to describe what I found there! It’s a world history book and the section on the US is maybe 4 pages long. It has no mention of our founding fathers but teaches abundantly about Karl Marx and his “wonderful ideas”.
The section on Christianity is a joke but the section on Islam is lengthy. It’s just ridiculous! !
Needless to say my kids will either be transferring to the local charter school that does not use common core and teaches much about our founding fathers or it’s back to homeschooling.
I think the media needs to hear about this! Just thought you’d be interested.
Oak Norton, a Utah parent who heads Utahns Against Common Core, recently filed a GRAMA request with the state. In correspondence with the legal counsel for the Utah State Office of Education, he was told the request was going to be charged to him because they felt it was primarily of private interest instead of public, since state board members had not received a single complaint on the subject of the selection of the new superintendent.
Oak happened to know this was false.
A few years ago, in the course of a single month, Oak was contacted by 4 separate families who went to Alpine School District to complain about Investigations math, and the very same administrator at the district office told each one of them that they were the only parent to ever complain about the math program.
Each one left wondering if they were the only one to speak up. Unless many more people speak up about the problems and work to get neighbors informed and speak up as well, our school system will continue the downward slide into politically-controlled curriculum and indoctrination.
I am asking you to do the same: contact your local school board, principal and political representative by phone or email if these things matter to you.