Archive for the ‘Utah State Office of Education’ Tag

Utah Unhappily Bound by Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

menlove

SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

I like Superintendent Martell Menlove.  He’s approachable, pleasant, polite; has a warm smile and even responds to emails.
But there is a problem.  Dr. Menlove is not just any Utahn; he’s the State Superintendent.  He supports Common Core and he’s a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers,  which created and copyrighted Common Core (with the NGA).
ccsso
CCSSO is an organization that aims to destroy (“disaggregate”) student privacy and thus, student liberty.
Dr. Menlove is also on the Board of Directors of WestEd, an organization with a key role in the creation of the Common Core tests.  I don’t know why he remains a member of these groups.  Maybe he thinks he can influence them for good instead of having them drag him (and our state) down. Maybe.  But Dr. Menlove told me once that the reason he supports Common Core is that the ACT and SAT do.  He thinks that our students have to align with whatever ACT/SAT do because of college entrance traditions.  (I suggested to Dr. Menlove that now that David Coleman has corrupted the college entrance exams  (here and here)  down to Common Core standards, we should flee ACT/SAT and find alternative testing for Utah students.)  He did not agree.
oak
Yesterday, my friend Oak Norton wrote a letter to Dr. Menlove.  He asked him to publically clarify whether Utah Core Standards are the same thing as Common Core Standards because some people are of the false belief that Utah has independent math and English standards.   Dr. Menlove wrote back and clarified.  Utah does Common Core standards.  He wrote: “The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.”  (See?  He is nice.)
But there’s still a problem.   It’s never been made clear by him nor other leaders  that because we do Common Core, we cannot control our own standards anymore.  Whether our leaders don’t understand this, or choose not to understand this, or don’t want the people to understand this, is no matter.  What matters is that people are confused.
menlove 2
Let’s not be confused.  We can fact-check our leaders who say,  “Utah isn’t obligated to Common Core and we can easily alter “our” standards while still belonging to the Common Core Initiative”.  It’s wishful thinking at best; lies at worst.   Here’s why:
Look at 7 basic facts:
1.   The Department of Education’s official website explains the conditions of getting ARRA money. It says:
“As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring.”
F.Y.I. – “College and Career Ready Standards and high-quality assessments” means only ONE thing to the federal government:  COMMON CORE.  Read their definitions page.
Yes, we traded our educational freedom for federal ARRA money.   Sad choice, Governor Huntsman.  That’s where it all started: there were four assurances in that signup (which included common standards and assessments and data collection) that Governor Huntsman signed us up for in that State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; the standards were one of the conditions.  Data collection and testing were also included.
Maybe Dr. Menlove doesn’t know this.  He really should.
2.   BUT THERE IS MORE:  the MOU  (Memorandum of Understanding) that the school board signed got us started further down the path of Common Core –this MOU, which was used in other federal funding applications, proved we were on the Common Core commitment train.
3.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  the NCLB temporary waiver application (see page 18) binds Utah to COMMON STANDARDS.
4. BUT THERE IS  MORE:  the Common Core copyright page itself binds users to precisely what’s written and offers no amendment process for states governed by the standards;
5.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  there is a  15% clause in the Achieve implementation manuals (see page 23) and in the NCLB waiver and elsewhere, that is a “ceiling rule”, stifling what Utah can add to the Utah Core, and ensuring that anything Utah adds to the Common standards, including or beyond that 15%, won’t be tested or recognized by the national testers nor written into the “acceptable” Common Core aligned curriculums
6.  BUT THERE IS MORE.  The lack of any amendment process for the states to alter the common standards should be a red flag to our leaders– whose duty is to protect us from the tyranny of corporate copyrights as well as to protect us from the tyranny of the federal Department of Education.
7.  BUT THERE IS MORE.   Even if we stand firm and reject the coming science and social studies standards, which Dr. Menlove told us he would do, we are still standing without control over what our students will learn about history and science!  We’ve been duped by David Coleman, lead Common Core creator and now College Board President.
jakell
This duping is clearly explained in a letter from another friend of mine, Jakell Sullivan, on the subject:
———————————
Dear Legislators,
Oak Norton published Superintendent Menlove’s reply to his email where Dr. Menlove admits that we have indeed adopted Common Core; however, he does not make any effort to address the places where Utah is bound to the federal mandates—this is, in my opinion, a consistent effort by him and Board members to never address the actual reality of the situation.  Please see Dr. Menlove’s response, and please keep in mind that the Common Core Standards creators were clever in their approach to telling states they were only adopting Math and English. The actual cover of the English Language Arts standards reads:
“English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
This was a sleight of hand by the Standards creators, and why parents around the country are beginning to see such wordy math problems. All subjects will be enmeshed under Common Core standards, providing an easier framework to slip ideas and beliefs into all subjects.
Here is video of CC architect, David Coleman, talking about how he threatened to resign from writing the standards unless “teachers in history and social studies, and tech subjects bear the responsibility of bringing their kids to literacy.”
But, it is not about bringing English into all subjects, it is about bringing all subjects together so that states, who would never accept the anti-American history standards, would be getting those standards through the back door through the recommended curricula.
Watch from about the 6 min.-7.5 min. point.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLba9mBFmbY#t=471
I hope legislators will find a way to vet what has actually occurred.
JaKell
make your voice heard
Please make your voice heard.  Call or write to your local and state leaders.  Let them know that this loss of local control is NOT OKAY with you.  Speak up or you will lose your window of opportunity to defend freedom and your children’s rights.  Silence is acquiescence.
Here’s contact information:

GOVERNOR HERBERT:  constituentservices@utah.gov

 SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE: 

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

STATE SCHOOL BOARD:   board@schools.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (SENATE)

Stuart Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen mmadsen@le.utah.gov

wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson  jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart  surquhart@le.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (HOUSE)

fgibson@le.utah.gov

vlsnow@le.utah.gov

parent@le.utah.gov

rcunningham@le.utah.gov

seliason@le.utah.gov

greghughes@le.utah.gov

blast@le..utah.gov

dlifferth@le.utah.gov

dmccay@le.utah.gov

csmoss@le.utah.gov

jimnielson@le.utah.gov

vpeterson@le.utah.gov

mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

kraigpowell@le.utah.gov

dsanpei@le.utah.gov

kstratton@le.utah.gov

UTAH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(It promotes Common Core via “Prosperity 2020″):

revans@slchamber.com

MANY OTHER UTAH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

info@westjordanchamber.com

info@sslchamber.com

sandychamber@sandychamber.com

chamber@tooelechamber.com

russ@stgeorgechamber.com

semile@cachechamber.net

 

Utah Republican Delegates to Governor and State School Board: Withdraw Utah From Common Core   3 comments

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.

Dear Judy Park   5 comments

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.
Thanks.
Christel Swasey
Heber City

Wasatch School District Unveils Common Core Tests to Parents April 8, 2013 at 4:00   2 comments

You Are Invited:

Monday at Wasatch School District – April 8th at 4:00 p.m.

101 E 200 N Heber City, UT 84032  (435) 654-0280

Presentation on Common Core Assessments:

American Institutes for Research (AIR) Tests

Utah children will be subjected to Common Core tests for the first time this coming school year, to be provided by the behavioral scientists at American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Children in every public and charter school in 46 states will be subjected to AIR’s (or SBAC’s, or PARCC’s)  Common Core tests for the first time in the 2013-14 school year.

So on Monday  I will drag myself to hear the Utah State Office of Education leadership speak about the Common Core tests and test company here in the Wasatch School District.

I dread Monday.  I dread more evidence of how cemented we are becoming into the Common Core via its testing, which is the vehicle for federal and corporate data mining. (Data mining of our children will go into fifth gear as testing begins.)

I dread hearing more lies and misrepresentations by education leaders about the cure-all snake oil of Common Core.  Many don’t realize that they are lying; they are trusting people who haven’t done their own homework and don’t even know that the Common Core is an experiment on our kids unsupported by empirical study.  In repeating the false phrases that our too-trusting local leadership has been handed by D.C. groups, our locals are guilty, too, of naiively promoting false claims.

I dread experiencing more evidence of my lack of voice as a Utah teacher and as a citizen. I know I will not be allowed to speak Monday.  Our local school board does not give local citizens the courtesy of  even two minutes’ time for a citizen or teacher to stand up and raise concerns.

The state school board does allow two minutes per visitor at state meetings.  But not the local.

Should I speak anyway, and let them call the police to drag me to jail for exercising my freedom of speech about this important issue? I’m so tempted.

But I’m here to talk about AIR tests.

I have not done that much research on AIR because it’s so hidden; it’s hard to find out much.  I will share what my research friends and I have found as we simply read the AIR website, the AIR facebook page, and  email our state superintendent and board.

Of  itself, AIR says:  “AIR is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world… AIR’s purpose is to conduct and apply behavioral and social science research… with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged… “

So, Utah’s using behavioral and social science research –to give math and English tests. We are going to conduct and apply behavioral research on Utah children, with special emphasis on a disadvantaged group, without causing neglect to those lucky enough not to be labeled disadvantaged, somehow.

Moving on.  Let’s look at the leadership hierarchy of AIR.  Right after the CEO and the Director of Longitudinal Analysis comes a committee of people creating tests.  After that committee comes another whole committee to develop education.  I am sure this cannot mean developing model curriculum because we were promised that Common Core would be limited to guidelines and standards, and the USOE never lies.  Right?

On its website, right under the CEO, the AIR leadership lists Jane Hannaway, Director of the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

Translation:  Ms. Hannaway’s job is to analyze children’s lifelong data, as collected by the state and by the ongoing common core tests.

FYI, this information will be held in the state’s longitudinal database system and shared among the many agencies in our Utah Data Alliance –not just education agencies, but workforce and other agencies.  And it may be shared federally, too.  All without parental consent.

Don’t believe me?  Study it yourself.  Read the SLDS grant  conditions.  Read the Utah Data Alliance press release.  Read the Dept. of Ed Cooperative Agreement with other testing consortia.  It’s all online. (Wow.  It was online.   I just checked and they’ve taken away the online Cooperative Agreement from the Dept. of Ed website.  But if you click on the link, you’ll be able to read most of it because I pasted much of it on the blog.)

Superintendent Martell Menlove told me in an 2-14-13 email that:

We will not see each individual test but we will see and review every test item. Every test item, as required in Utah Code will be reviewed by a 15 member parent committee… We will develop an adaptive test that has the main purpose of providing academic achievement data…”  -Martell Menlove

State School Board member Joel Coleman wrote to me in an email that “Our children will be tested on academics.”  So we can expect that the tests will not test psychometrics or behavior– despite AIR’s main focus as behavioral and social science testing research?  I hope,  I really hope, that’s true. But we’re already pushing the creepy SHARPE surveys in our local schools.  So why wouldn’t we add AIR behavioral/psychometric testing? And then there’s the legislative language about behavioral assessments in the tests.  (See below)

I asked Mr. Menlove and Mr. Coleman to clarify something else.  I wrote:

“I am grateful that the test questions can be read by at least 15 Utah parents. I wish it were more.  [Isn't it illegal to have tests that all parents cannot view?]  What still remains unclear is how Utah will avoid the influence of the AIR when the AIR makes the test. I am referring to AIR’s mainstreaming of globalism (as opposed to constitutional Americanism);  promoting two-spiritedness, transgender, gay and lesbian, and such issues published as priorities on AIR’s website.”

To this email I did not get a response.

Why?  Why don’t our state educational leaders see any red flags or causes for concern?

I think there are several reasons.  One problem is that the state school board and superintendent are extremely trusting of all education reformers;  they don’t do extensive homework as my research friends and I do, and they don’t know what is now obvious to us.

Example:  both the state superintendent and school board member felt that only academics will be tested.  But in a bill that was held in committee, SB69 http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillint/SB0069.htm  in the paragraph about the computer adaptive testing that will be administered by AIR, it reads:
“line 66 – (d) the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance”
So, even if Mr. Coleman and Mr. Menlove aren’t aware of the psychological profiling aspects of the testing, someone who helped write this bill felt it important to include this in the written statute that would govern assessments.

The same bill set up a 15-parent (appointed, not elected) panel to review the test questions for all grade levels on behalf of ALL the parents in the state.

Do we realize how many questions are in a database pool for each grade level for each test in a computer adaptive testing system?

“…computer-adaptive testing (in which items are geared to the student) requires a larger and better-designed pool of test items than does traditional testing… High-stakes tests will require a larger pool of items—likely 1,600 or more—than low-stakes tests, which might require closer to 200,” explains Mark D. Reckase, a professor of measurement and quantitative methods at Michigan State University. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2011/05/computer-adaptive_testing_pose.html

So 15 unpaid parents, without any expertise in how  “behavioral indicators” are applied to tests, will review upwards of 12,000 questions? Reckase reviews the process of creating and adding questions to a computer adaptive testing pool, which in scope sounds prohibitive to the resources Utah has assigned to this and may likely result in our using the same test questions created for AIR under the Smarter Balanced Assessments Consortium that are reviewed and controlled by the federal government.

We don’t want any more one-line assurances;  we would like the people who are responsible for submitting our children to these tests to show some deeper understanding of the technology, the processes for creating the tests and the sheer enormity of the undertaking before they assure us that Utah remains “in control.”

AIR really does come with indoctrination strings attached and our leaders don’t want to think deeply about their intended and unintended consequences of AIR’s stated positions, such as:

Twenty Percent of Children are Mentally Ill ?

Our leaders must surely have seen that the AIR  company website takes the stance that a huge percentage of children are mentally ill and need to be treated that way:  “…One in five children and adolescents (20 percent) may have a diagnosable mental health disorder,” says AIR.

Every Nation’s Ed. Standards Should be the Same?

Utah leaders must surely have noticed that the AIR company also believes that every nation should adopt the same education standards.  “We are currently working to benchmark individual state tests to international standards,” AIR’s site states.

The Disadvantaged or Nontraditional Student is More Important?

Utah leaders must have noticed that AIR takes the position that it is not local or parental prerogative, but a “public health issue” to test and assist “disadvantaged” children, defined as most children– the mentally ill (which they call 1/5 of all kids); and the gay, lesbian, transgender, two-spirited, or bisexual.

What about math and English?  Why are we talking about the disadvantaged in an academic testing setting anyway? Is this more of Obama’s redistribution plan, using schools, as outlined in his For Each and Every Child report and in his counselor, Linda Darling-Hammond’s writings on social justice and forced financial equity?

Another issue: test start-up costs are $39 million dollars, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Why  waste money on the socialist AIR company and common core tests, when we need that money for legitimate learning goals, like buying desks and pencils and actual (not Pearson electronic) books and increasing teachers’ salaries?

And why is the public being told, rather than asked?  After the fact.

Utah did not have to choose AIR.  Why did we?  Does AIR represent Utah’s values or goals?  I do not think so.

A wise Utah leader has written: “Schools should be reminded that their primary field of competence is academic, not social adjustment, or world citizenship, or sex education. Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by ‘professional educators.’ After all, it’s their children and their money.”  -Ezra Taft Benson, “An Enemy Hath Done This” p. 232

Do parents want a company of psychologists to store test results in a database for which there are no laws governing how long data can be stored, how it can be used or with whom it can be shared?

One last issue for those who want to study this further:  AIR is partnered with SBAC, with Linda Darling-Hammond, with George Soros, and with many, many, many other groups that are frighteningly socialist or anti-American.

Please write to our governor, legislators, and school boards.  Tell them we want out of Common Core, out of the AIR/Common Core testing, the SLDS data mining, common core aligned textbook adoption, and the unvetted and unreasonable financial waste.

Here’s the state school board’s email address: Board@schools.utah.gov

The AIR presentations will be happening statewide.  Find your area’s scheduled presentation event on the USOE website.  Or call them at  (801) 538-7500.

-  –  –  –  –  -

Alyson Williams and Morgan Olsen contributed to this report. 

Truth in American Education vs. “A Complete Resource Guide for Utah’s Core Standards”   1 comment

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/

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 Misinformation Education.

It’s called “A Complete Resource Guide  On Utah’s Core Standards.”

You can access the 204-pager here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B745qngYVLvVWXRFeU9MRUIzRTQ/edit?usp=sharing

http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/Utah-Core-Standards/CommonCoreResourceGuide.aspx

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)

A Mother Speaks Out: Children For Sale – Guest Post by Alyson Williams   131 comments

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

Dear Principal   2 comments

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.
Shawn,
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.
Two years ago, Texas kicked out the liberal bias from their textbooks.  Could Wasatch schools identify and remove bias similarly? http://www.creators.com/opinion/phyllis-schlafly/texas-kicks-out-liberal-bias-from-textbooks.html
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.
Christel
———- Forwarded message ———-

Post: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/whats-in-your-childs-textbook/

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?

Oak,

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.

Thanks,

Sue Schmidt

_____

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.

 

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