Archive for the ‘Utah’ Tag

Ghanan-American Immigrant Speaks Out Against Common Core   10 comments

ALMA O  Guest Post by Alma Ohene-Opare

Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world. ”

Alma Ohene-Opare, now a Utahn, is originally from Accra, Ghana.  Alma came to the U.S. at age 19, primarily because of what he called “America’s innovative educational system.”   He said, “I was educated from K-12th grade in a Common-Core-like educational system.  My family (who owns and runs a private K-12 institution) battles daily because of the system.The end result is seemingly educated (on paper) graduates, with no ability to think for themselves, solve problems or innovate in any way. Parents and teachers alike have become conditioned to place the standardized tests at the forefront of education, leading to what we call in Ghana, “Chew and pour, pass and forget.” Here is his story.

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Common Core – A Failed Idea Newly Cloaked in the Robes of Good Intentions

 

My name is Alma Ohene-Opare, an alumnus of BYU and a native of Accra, Ghana. Over the past few months, I have followed with much amusement, the nationwide debate for or against the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The arguments have been fierce and passionate on both sides and seem to stem from a universal desire to raise the quality of education in America. The desire is noble. However, this noble desire will not compensate for or mitigate the empirically documentable effects of the failed policy being proposed.

 

Common Core may be new to America, but to me and the thousands who have migrated to the United States to seek better educational opportunities, it is in large part the reason we came here. If you are wondering what qualifies me to make the assertions I will make in this article, know this; I am one of the few victims of a standardized national education system in Ghana, who was lucky enough to escape its impact. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of a private K-12 institution in Accra, Ghana. Golden Sunbeam Montessori School was founded by my mother in 1989 and is currently leading the fight to rid our country of an educational system that has led to the systematic degradation and deterioration of our human capital.

 

Let’s get to the core of my argument; pun intended. What Americans are calling Common Core is eerily similar to my educational experience growing up in Ghana. In Ghana, K-12th grade education was tightly controlled by the Ghana Education Service, an organization similar to the US Department of Education. From curricula to syllabi to standardized testing, the government controlled everything.

 

In 9th grade, all students, in order to progress to high school are required to take a standardized exam known as the B.E.C.E, which stands for Basic Education Certification Examination. Depending on the results of the test, each student is assigned by a computer program to a public high school without regard to his or her interests, passions or ambitions. Each student is then assigned an area of focus for the next three years. Some of the focus areas are General Science, Business Management, General Arts, Visual Arts, Home Economics, Agriculture, etc.

 

Although things may have changed slightly since I graduated, most students generally did not have a choice as to which area of focus they were assigned. The only way to get a choice was to ace the standardized exam or to call in a favor either through bribery or some other type of corruption. The students who failed miserably were usually those who attended public schools; many of whom dropped out of school entirely.

 

The process was then repeated at the end of High School with another standardized exam called the W.A.S.S.S.C.E. This exam tested your readiness for college and ultimately determined which course of study you were assigned by the government in college. I did not ace that exam and did not get admission into the state run college of my choice. Instead, I went to a private university founded by a former Microsoft employee and was found smart enough to be admitted to BYU a year later as a transfer student, to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and to be hired right out of college as a Program Manager at Microsoft Corporation.

 

Although the education system in Ghana is not similar in all aspects to Common Core as it is being proposed today, some of the basic tenets are the same. The curriculum was controlled by an external body without input from or accountability to teachers, individual schools or parents. Some argue that teachers and parents have control in Common Core. It pains me to witness such naivety. That myth has always been an inevitable play by proponents of any centralized system. The goal is to make people think they are in control while nudging them blindly towards a perceived public interest. The truth is simple; the institution that controls the exams, controls the curriculum.

 

By controlling the standardized exams, each school in Ghana was forced to make passing the exam its primary focus rather than actual teaching and learning. Hence anything that was deemed outside the purview of the test was cast aside and treated as non-important. Extra-curricular activities were cut if not totally eliminated and the school day was lengthened to ensure that students had even more time to prepare for the test.

 

In my case, school started at 6:00 am and ended as late as 6:00 pm. We attended school on Saturdays. Even when school was out we still attended school half day. Our lives were consumed with preparation for the standardized test. We all had booklets of past tests going back 15 years. Those who anticipated failing the test registered in advance to retake the test. The value of teachers was measured solely on the performance of their students on the standardized tests. Scammers who purported to know what would appear on the tests duped schools, parents and teachers alike by selling bogus test questions. Schools with political connections always unanimously aced the tests.

 

You may wonder why nobody ever tried to change the system. The answer was simple. The government made it impossible by requiring all students who wanted to go to High School or College to take the test. Hence, any time spent trying to change the system meant time taken away from preparing for the test. Parents became completely beholden to the system and would threaten to take the kids to other schools if administrators spent any time not preparing their kids for the test.

 

Now that you have a sense of how an education system can become trapped in the death spiral of standardized tests, let me interest you with the impact of this system on actual student outcomes. In Ghana, we had a phrase to describe how we felt about standardized tests. We called it “chew and pour, pass and forget”. Translated, it means memorize, regurgitate, pass the exam and forget everything.

 

Unfortunately that has become reality for many graduates of our educational system. As my father put it in a recent petition to the Ghana Education Service, “the education system in Ghana is akin to an assembly line setup by the government to create employees for an economy largely devoid of innovation, entrepreneurship, originality or risk taking”. Because students never learn to solve problems or think critically for themselves and are largely discouraged from challenging their teachers or the status quo, they are inevitably groomed to maintain the failed traditions of the past while believing they are completely powerless to change anything. The result is the fact that even with an abundance of natural resources, the country in general continues to suffer in the doldrums of socio-economic development without any clear path out of it.

 

Recently my brother left a well-paying job in the US to return to Ghana to take over my parent’s school. He had dreams of changing the system. He imagined students groomed to become innovators and entrepreneurs. He soon learned it was impossible to achieve any of those dreams if the school was to remain subject to the rules, restrictions and common standards the government had set. The only solution was to completely abandon the system, which he fears would cause parents to withdraw their children from the school. He is now stuck in the limbo of a catch 22 but continues to fight to win students, teachers and parents over to a new beginning for the education of their children.

 

In December 2012, I returned to Ghana with my family and had the opportunity to speak to 10th grade students at the school. I gave what I thought was an inspiring speech. I proposed to start an innovation and entrepreneurship club which will employ students to identify and propose solutions to some of the problems facing the country. I promised to provide the capital and resources necessary to support these kids in this new challenge. I ended by asking the kids who were interested to write their names on a piece of paper and email it to me. It’s been more than 18 months since I returned. I have received nothing and I don’t blame them. Their parents have paid a large sum of money because they believed our school would help their kids pass the standardized exam. I was not about to distract them from that goal. What a tragedy.

 

I have personally wondered what makes Africa so uniquely challenged in its attempts at economic development especially when all the innovations needed to do so are readily available to us. I came to a personal conclusion which admittedly is not scientific but captures what I believe to be the elusive culprit. It is contentment with mediocrity and a lack of curiosity to change the status quo. The problem is not inherent in the nature of Africans but rather the imposition of an educational system that burned out the light of innovation and made us content to live on the spoils of the countries brave enough to venture into the glory of the unknown.

When I came to the US, many people would ask what the difference was between the US and Ghana. I responded that in Ghana, I could dream. In America I can do.

 

In writing this article, I am by no means endorsing the current state of public education in the United States. The problem with the system today is that the US government, aided by self-interested unions, has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to return to a system of education that America abandoned a long time ago; a system which has proven a failure in many parts of the world. Common Core is just the latest iteration of the failed system. Like a wise man once said, oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart; to stand on the mountain top to warn against the path you are choosing to take. As an outsider looking in, I recognize one thing that most Americans lack. Because America has been free for so long, many have no sense of what tyranny looks like and how quickly physical and intellectual freedom can be lost on the path paved with good intentions.

 

I plead with all you well-intentioned but definitely misguided administrators, teachers and politicians. Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world.

 

America is desperate to find a solution to a problem that you solved decades ago. Return to originality. Put teachers and parents in charge of the education of their children. Encourage critical thinking that rejects conformity for the sake of some perceived societal benefit. Teach children to solve problems and not just to regurgitate the solutions of generations past. I have been silent too long and have now seized this opportunity to stand up for what I believe, which ironically is something I have learned from my experience in America.

 

America, I urge you to learn from the mistakes of those around because, like the plaque in my former bishop’s office read, “you may not live long enough to make all those mistakes yourself.”

 

–Alma Ohene-Opare, Salt Lake City, UT

 

 

 

Salt Lake Tribune Hosts Video Interview: Judy Park v. Christel Swasey on Common Core Aligned SAGE Tests   4 comments

This week, the Salt Lake Tribune invited Utah Assistant State Superintendent Dr. Judy Park and me to a filmed interview concerning the increasing number of Utah parents who are opting their children out of the Common Core aligned SAGE testing.  Here is the link if you want to watch the half hour at “Trib Talk.”

(I will return to this post to update it soon.  There is so much more that needed to be explained about the psychometrics that are apparent when you read the AIR (test writer) contract with Utah; about the data collection SLDS machine that is fed by student participation in SAGE and other digital testing/learning; about the need to defend teaching time and teacher professional judgment which are harmed by this testing; about the national opt out movement that is growing in strength and numbers across the nation.  I also want to transcribe some of the questions and answers, word for word, later.)

Guest Post by the Mother of Screen Shot-Capturing Student   8 comments

Guest Post

by the mother of the Utah high school student who captured questionable screen shots of the Common Core/SAGE test

 

The minds of our children are our most precious asset. They are the most vulnerable citizens and we must protect them.

If my daughter comes to me with a questionable essay test, then I must listen to her and validate her feelings. But more than that, I felt like other parents deserve to know that kind of propaganda that is being pushed on our children.

Abraham Lincoln said,  “He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statues or pronounces decisions”. The public sentiment is being changed here, little by little. These high school students who were in the room with my daughter were not, for the most part, taking this essay test seriously. They thought the questions were a joke. Her daughter was offended by the claims in the articles attached to her test question.

The statement made about books and dyslexia was a complete joke. We know people who have had dyslexia and work through it. Now they are fabulous readers. Books do not discriminate against them.

Even if these questions are just being posed in some alternate universe, they are biased.

Ultimately, the reason why Common Core and SAGE tests are raising so many flags for parents is because we cannot even see the test after the fact.

Why not make test questions available to see after the tests are taken? Why does everything have to be kept secret?

Again, I say, that my daughter was not cheating. No one even felt it necessary to cheat because they were not being graded anyway.

Let’s have some common sense here. Let’s try to reason together for the safety and protection of our children from powerful men and women who want to take over our education system so they can rule the minds of our children.

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Thank you to this mother and her courageous high school daughter.

Now, another Utah mother reported that her high-school attending son took the Common Core writing test this week.

Her son saw bias in a question that was framed around the question of whether property ownership or renting is better.  (He didn’t take any screen shots.)

Some readers may not see his test question as propaganda.   I do.  Property ownership is basic to the pursuit of happiness. Americans have always seen this as true; it’s one reason we fought England in the 1770′s.  Being subservient to a landlord will never be superior to the empowerment of owning your own land, in any universe.

As Professor Boettke of George Mason University has put it, “Few concepts have been more important for human survival, yet maligned as unjust by intellectuals, as the concept of private property rights. Since at least the time of Aristotle, the superiority of private property over collective ownership in generating incentives to use scarce resources effectively has been recognized. It was a core idea of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith, as well as the American Revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.”

 

But there are some today (including the test writers, apparently) who want young people to question the wisdom of property ownership.  It’s a very trendy concept within the education branch of the United Nations and elsewhere to suggest that individual property ownership is “not sustainable”.  Renting, they say, is more compassionate to Mother Earth.

Introducing this  socialist notion to impressionable minds during a secret test makes a lot of sense to those who oppose personal property ownership.  Undiscerning others think it’s fine.  They chalk it up to “critical thinking” and the humanists’ idea that truth and God don’t exist.  Yet critical-thinking humanists don’t like it when students or parents think critically about the assignments.  Ironically, thinking critically about the test is called a shutting down of critical thinking.

In the 80′s when I took high school writing tests, we were given literature-based writing assignments that were not very controversial nor politically charged, yet they demanded strong critical thinking skills –and as a bonus, the test itself exposed students to time-tested classics.

If the shift from classic literature to modern informational text hadn’t taken place, as it did under the Common Core, our students might actually have been exposed to something valuable during these tests, rather than being exposed to the ideas that video games could have more value than libraries of books, or that renting a little apartment might have more value than owning a mansion.

How dumb do they think our children are?

UT High School Physics Teacher Resigns Over Common Core   4 comments

Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today.  The letter is powerful.  These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.

When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around?  When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?

Read the full letter here. 

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“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.

In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written,  stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.

A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.

I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”

I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.

I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.

… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.

I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.

My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.

Sincerely,

Mr. Stuart Harper

Teacher, Citizen, and Father”

Reader Responses to Utah High School Student’s Screen Shots   14 comments

The Utah teenager and her mother who decided to take a stand last week by taking screen shots and sharing them with the public  –photos of the SAGE/Common Core writing test,  hit some raw nerves.  Over a hundred comments were added here, with more posted on Facebook, and almost a hundred thousand views of those screen shots were logged in a few days.

Why? Reasons ranged and tempers flared:   Was the act of sharing screen shots heroic– or was it cheating? Was the test itself fair –or manipulative?  Should the student be failed and the teacher who didn’t see or stop her be fired?  Was the blog posting itself fair or manipulative?  Is this all evidence of an improved education system that creates deep-thinking students, or the very opposite?

A few of the responders words are worth repeating and are posted below.

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Former teacher Laureen Simper wrote:

“Author Ray Bradbury could have used a SAGE test with a prompt like this, in his book “Farenheit 451″. As another commenter mentioned, Bradbury wrote:  ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’

“I have questioned the motives of central educational planners for years, ever since I had school-aged children. That was when I learned about John Dewey, when “Common Core” was going by the name du jour: “Outcome-Based Education“. That was when I read the original Humanist Manifesto.    John Dewey was one of the original drafters/signers of what I recognized as an anti-God constitution.  I learned that secular humanism and progressivism were the idealogies driving education “reform”.

“Progressive central planners continually repackage education reform when “the ignorant masses” figure out what the true motive is: to manage the lives of those ignorant masses, because they’re seen as too ignorant to manage their  lives for themselves. Sadly, as long as a shell game can continually be played with shifting appellations, all the sleepy little frogs go back to sleep, as our nice warm bath continues to heat up.

“The agenda to shift public thinking away from self-government started at least as early as the early 20th century. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. Its original members believed that 60 college campuses were enough leavening to turn social thinking towards government dependence.

“Originally, the movement focused on higher education. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton, said that the goal of higher education should be for a young man to come out of university as unlike his father as possible.

“But the plan was not limited to changing graduates of higher education. John Dewey, a few decades later, said that the influences of the home and family are properly challenged (by “steadying” ) in the government schools. This came from the “father” of modern education.

“Those who have not connected the same dots will disagree.  But I’ve read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard – straight from the mouths of the arrogant progressive central planners.

“Their motives are not pure. They plan to manage our lives of the ignorant masses, because they think that people are  too stupid or too lazy to govern themselves.  And the education reformers’ answer is not Jefferson’s answer:   ‘…If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ‘ –Thomas Jefferson, 1820

“Education reformers today, from Dewey to Coleman, seem to feel that the best answer is to wrest that self-government from the people.

“It is a big deal that a 16-year-old kid risked photographing test questions, knowing what kind of retribution could be brought to bear if she were caught.

“It is a big deal that a mother, equally aware of that retribution, would get those photos into the hands of a group of warriors who have connected the same dots I have connected – putting these test prompts into a completely different, stark, sobering context.

“Those who are screaming that anti-Common Core crusaders are taking these test questions out of context need to ask themselves if it is not they, themselves, who are taking them out of context.”    –Laureen Simper

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Another commenter, Michelle, wrote:

“And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.

“One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.)  I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in other test questions.

“The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games make us smarter, yet the assertion fails miserably to back up those claims with actual science.

“So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.

Our poor children.”

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A dad named Jared wrote:

“I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year.  I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
- ‘Two sides’ of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
- The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
- The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.

“… these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument.  In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.

“If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material.  Why don’t they?”

Kentucky University Student Speaks Up About Common Core   3 comments

shannon of kentucky

Guest Post by Shannon Crouch

Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012.  I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

My brother’s story

To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.

To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.

In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking.  These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.

My experience as a university math tutor

Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.

The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.

The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.

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As an update to this story:  Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board.  This is what she received:

from: DEBBIE.JONES@wasatch.edu>

Subject: Re: Kentucky and Common Core
Date: March 13, 2014 at 8:33:22 AM MDT
It makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.
Take care,
Deb
———————-
Shannon then wrote back:
———————-

Ms. Jones,

I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.
Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.
I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.
Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.

Shannon Crouch

Fighting Manipulation in Education Reform Bills   1 comment

brian greene pg

Rep. Brian Greene of Pleasant Grove –

His fair and transparent state school board elections bill passed the House vote and may pass into law if the Senate votes yes this week

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We are fighting manipulation in education reform. Utah legislators have written multiple bills this year that take important steps to curb it.  Before I give links to these very important bills –which we need to beg the senators and representatives to vote YES on– let’s talk briefly about the question of how  manipulation happens under the guise of education reform.

This six minute video featuring Dr. Peg Luksik, starting at 1:15, explains a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4iMwlarNA

This speech was given a few weeks ago, when education expert Dr. Peg Luksik spoke about the manipulation that happens in computer adaptive, standardized tests.

Luksik explains:

The problem isn’t that it’s self-paced; the problem is that the test is open to manipulation.” (minute 1:15-1:20)  Test creators can adapt the test to make it appear to the average taxpayer, parent or policy maker to have been more difficult or easier.  It’s an internal mechanism, not a valid assessment.  A child has to agree or comply with questions along the way, or he/she cannot move on to take the rest of the test.

Dr. Luksik gives examples of this compliance.  In the 1990′s she saw internal documents of these tests that explained that the test was not to assess objective knowledge at all; it was to test –and score for– the child’s threshhold for behavior change without protest.

A sample question wanted a child to answer whether a child would join a vandalism group. There was no way a child could answer that he/she would not ever join a vandalism group; he or she could only indicate whether he/she would join if a best friend was in the group or if mother would not find out or other similar options.  Another example asked whether a child would cry, be upset, argue, when the family was moving to another country.  There was no option that was not outc0me based.  This prevents individual thought.

(FYI:  In Utah, these tests are called S.A.G.E. and are co-created by the federally funded Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and a company called American Institutes for Research which has taken at least $39 million Utah tax dollars to deliver Utah’s children a computer adaptive, Common Core aligned test.)

Dr. Luksik also explains that test questions that are supposed to be testing reading, are aiming to test other things, such as this example: a child’s level of honesty was tested in what was supposedly a reading test:  If he/she found a wallet with money in it what would he/she do?  No option was: return it.

Now, these tests were 1990′s Outcome Based Education (OBE) tests.  But the embedding principle is the same in today’s Common Core tests; just much easier for test creators to hide, since they’re not pencil and paper  tests anymore.

A child will simply answer questions on a test,  Dr. Luksik points out: “No child would think to say, ‘Is this a reading question?’ because they’re kids; they just take the test.’”  But how can teachers or parents protect them?

Three Bills:

Now, in Utah, we have the opportunity to take small steps in a better direction–  small but important steps.

mike kennedy

Right now, Rep. Mike Kennedy has a bill that  expands a committee of parents or guardians of Utah public education students to review computer adaptive test questions.  The bill also requires the State Board of Education to prepare and publish on its website a report containing information about test questions identified by the committee as problematic.  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0081.html

It has passed the House vote.   Hope and pray that it also passes the Senate.  And write to your senators and reps!

brian greene pg

Another great education bill in Utah that passed the house and may, possibly, pass the Senate and become a rare, good new law is Rep. Brian Greene’s bill for fair and transparent, partisan state school board elections. (Our system is horrible and MUST change: it begins with a closed-off, exclusionary, and Common Core-promoting questionnaire, followed by a small, biased committee making recommendations to the governor and then the governor appointing two preselected candidates from which the voters can choose.  And voters are not allowed to know whether these two are each or both Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or of any other party.)  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0228.html  We need this bill.

anderegg

There’s also Rep. Jake Anderegg’s important house bill 169 which aims to restrain the sharing of student data without parental or adult student consent.   http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0169.html

These  bills are wonderful.  I’m so grateful for them.  But they’re far from silver bullets.

They do not stop Common Core standards.  They don’t stop Common Core testing.  They don’t stop the stalking being done by the un-opt-out-able State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  They don’t take away the 15% rule (meaning that Utah can’t add to its math and English standards because of the Common Core copyright and the federal 15% ceiling over the standards.)  The bills don’t change the fact that Common Core standards are still dumbing down the top level high school students by removing almost all of the calculus and trigonometry requirements that Utah had prior to Common Core; nor do they restore to high school students the missing 70% classic literature that’s been robbed.

But–

They are important steps in the right direction, in the direction of restoring parental (and voter/taxpayer) control over what’s going on in education today.  They work around the manipulation and put individuals in better control of what has felt like an almost overwhelmingly unfair education system.

Thank you, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Greene, and Rep. Anderegg.

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you!

USOE Curriculum Director Opposes Increased Parental Power in Curricular Decisions   Leave a comment

Utah parents, please take note:

Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email today:

———————-

From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342

Curriculum Friends,

Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.

This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.

Go to www.le.utah.gov  to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action.  Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.

Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.

Director, Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

801-538-7788

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

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Utah Public School Rejects Common Core: Maeser Prep’s Open Letter to State School Board   Leave a comment

maeser

Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy,  in Lindon, Utah, is the first public school in Utah to issue a letter to the State School Board that asks the board to reject Common Core and return to time-tested, legitimate education.

The letter is posted here.  The board of directors of this public charter school writes that the Common Core Standards compromise Maesar’s educational mission and purpose.  They say that Common Core Standards were adopted without an opportunity for the local school districts or parents to review them first.   And they urge the state school board, Governor Herbert, and the Utah legislature to replace the Common Core with locally vetted standards.

Amen, Karl G. Maeser Academy.

 

High-Stakes Tests and Common Core Standards are Inseparable   3 comments

tami and martell

Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakes tests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.

This is a fact-checking post.

First, look at their statements:

Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the  Morgan News:  “while not related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.’”   The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘We do not support high stakes testing.‘”

tami

Pyfer also wrote, at  a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.

menlove

Really.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core.  In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”

Oh, Dear.  Tami and Martell!

Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.

(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names:  Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core).  And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).

Here are several hard-to-ignore reasons why:

1.)  Utah’s 2012 house bill 15 makes Computer Adaptive Testing the law in this state, and it uses specific language that mandates that Common Core standards are used for the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests for all Utahns.

2.)  The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

“SFSF requires progress on four reforms ….
1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”

3.) The federal government paid for the Common Core tests and mandated in its test grant contract that testing groups align to one another and to Common Data Collection standards and to Common Core Standards. The standards promoters use veiled language and most often refer to Common Core as “college and career ready standards” instead, but they have been specifically defined on the ed.gov official website in a way that can only be interpreted as the Common Core. Utah’s testing group, AIR, is officially partnered with SBAC, which is under mandate to align its tests with Common Core and with the other testing groups.

4.  The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along.  (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)

5. The Council of Chief State School Officers, to which Supt. Menlove belongs, co-created and copyrighted Common Core.  The CCSSO officially partnered with the Department of Education  toward a common goal to collect “data on the national level” (see below) and to “coordinate assessments” –and to use the Common Core standards which CCSSO co-wrote.

It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.

Take a closer look at the CCSSO/EIMAC website:

“Education Data & Information Systems Programs:

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)

The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.

Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”

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In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests?  Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me)  –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?

So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today:  a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.

Enjoy.

NEWS UPDATE:  NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich Blasts “Obsessive Focus on Standardized Tests” http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/19/robert-reich-on-standardized-testing/

Test Score Pressure May Lead to More ADHD Drug Prescriptions http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304275304579392932032900744

NCLB Waivers Reinforce Flawed Accountability Measures http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/waivers_missed_opportunities.html

Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Alliance Formed to Bring Sanity to Education Policy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/21/anti-testing-groups-form-alliance-to-bring-sanity-to-education-policy/

Timely Statement by Former U.S. Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Eve of Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Launch

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/02/coalition_launches_testing_res.html

Campaigns Against Test Misuse, Overuse Explode Across Nation

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/20/1279029/-Testing-Resistance-Reform-Spring-Launched?detail=hide

New National Alliance Aims to Unite Grassroots Opposition to Testing Overkill

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2014/02/new_alliance_aims_to_unite_grassroots_testing_opposition.html

High School Grades Are Better Predictors of College Performance Than Test Scores Are

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/confirmed-high-school-gpas-predict-college-success/

New Report: Test-Optional Admissions Promotes Equity and Excellence

http://fairtest.org/new-report-shows-testoptional-admissions-helps-div

The Failure of Test-Based School “Reform” — By the Numbers

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/23/why-test-based-school-reform-isnt-working-by-the-numbers/

Test-Based “Accountability” Does Not Work

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/02/nclb_california_and_accountability_in_all_its_guises.html

No High-Stakes Testing Moratorium, No Common Core

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/no-moratorium-no-common-c_b_4843791.html

Common Core Testing Costs Strain Rural Schools

http://www.wbir.com/story/news/2014/02/18/common-core-testing-costs-strain-rural-tennessee-schools/5575073/

Washington State Senate Revolts Against Teaching to the Test

http://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2014/02/state-senate-revolts-against-teaching-to-the-test.html

Feds Threaten Washington State With Return to NCLB Testing Rules

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/21/washington-no-child-left-behind_n_4828183.html

Chicago Parents Organize Opt-Out Campaign

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-isat-testing-boycott-met-20140225,0,1746622.story

Left and Right in Colorado Agree on Testing Cutback

http://coloradostatesman.com/content/994657-left-right-agreement-state-testing

Colorado Students Take a Stand Against One-Size-Fits-All Test-Driven Education

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Continues to Support Common Core Test-Based Evaluation

http://www.lohud.com/article/20140223/NEWS/302230033/Educators-say-evaluation-system-broken-Cuomo-isn-t-convinced

Computerizing a Poor Standardized Exam Does Not Magically Make it Better (or Stop Test Score-Misuse)

http://udreview.com/2014/02/24/delaware-explores-new-testing-options/

Common Core Assessments: Myths and Realities

http://fairtest.org/fairtest-infographic-common-core-more-tests-not-be

Teacher Apologizes to Third Grades for Being Forced to Label Them with Test Scores

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/18/teacher-to-3rd-graders-i-apologize-for-having-to-quantify-you-with-a-number/

Mom of Severely Disabled Boy Asks Florida School Board to Let All Kids Experiencing “Pain and Suffering” Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/19/mom-to-officials-stop-forcing-severely-disabled-kids-to-take-high-stakes-tests/

Washington, D.C. Mayoral Candidate Says Test-Driven Schooling is a Failure

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/shallal-criticizes-dc-school-reform-efforts-saying-he-would-chart-a-different-course/2014/02/18/4ba4b45a-97f7-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html

Important New Book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” by David Berliner, Gene Glass and Associates

http://store.tcpress.com/0807755249.shtml

Dana Layton’s Stop Common Core Bill For Utah   3 comments

Dana

Representative Dana Layton

I sent a an email letter to my representatives, asking them to vote yes on Represenative Dana Layton’s bill HB0342.

The bill would return local control to Utah’s educational system.   Utah needs this bill.  I hope every Utahn writes to his or her legislators and begs them to pass this bill.

For those who don’t know, Rep. Layton’s bill  “specifies procedures for the development and adoption of core curriculum standards  for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, including:   the establishment of a standards development committee consisting of parents,  teachers, and representatives of school districts, business, and higher education  to assist the board in developing standards; and public review and comment of draft core curriculum standards;   equires the State Board of Education to establish a standards review committee  consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review proposed core  curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social   studies;   requires the State Board of Education to maintain control of, and the power to   modify, core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science,   and social studies; and  requires the State Board of Education, on or before July 1, 2016, to adopt revised  core curriculum standards for English language arts and mathematics that are developed  specifically for Utah.”

All day, I keep asking myself, why would the state school board NOT want this, not want a return to local control of education?

Anyway, I copied my letter (email number one, below) to legislators also to the school board.

Dixie Allen, my state school board representative, wrote back to me and to the same legislators, saying that what I had written was untrue. It’s not every day that I get called a liar, and I dislike it, for some reason.  I doubt the school board enjoys it, either.  So rather than rebut the lies, I simply wrote again, asking the legislators to fact-check for themselves.  The truth can stand up under close inspection.  Empty claims cannot.

Then Dave Thomas, another state school board member, sent the legislators and me the Utah State School Board’s  link to a wordy, undocumented, verbiose posting –which is without any footnotes, without links or proof of truthfulness –and he said it “explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.”

Sigh.  I try to keep giving the board the benefit of the doubt; they were rushed into Common Core adoption; they wanted that Race to the Top grant application turned in so fast; they made trusting assumptions about what the quality of the standards would be once they actually had the opportunity to study them; they asumed the standards had been pilot tested; whatever.

But now, now in 2014, when it’s been made so clear and obvious that the standards are not what they claimed to be, now that it’s so clear and obvious that we’ve traded local control for a substandard mess of pottage– now can’t we just ‘fess up and agree that Utah made a big mistake, a mistake anyone in the shoes of the state board could have made and would likely have made– and just turn around now and walk away from the mistake?  Why hold on to this judgment error with such doggedness? It is not too late for us to change our course.  In fact, the longer we stay in Common Core, the more money we waste and the more entrenched our curriculums are becoming in this substandard and centrally controlled monster.

So, here are all those emails in case anyone is interested.

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EMAIL NUMBER ONE:  (It was very long so I am not copying the whole thing; it’s just the Common Core 101 research that I cut and pasted from the front page of my blog.)

From me to the legislators and school board:
————————-
Please Pass HB 342.    This is why:
                 Common Core: 101
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
Heber City
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EMAIL NUMBER TWO:
From Dixie Allen of the state school board:
Good Morning,
Since many of you are my constituents or my respected representatives at the State Level, I feel like you need to understand that most of what Christel has alluded to is untrue.
First, the standards were written under the control and supervision of the nation’s Governor’s Association and the Chief State School Officers, by experts in the field, including our own experts from USOE and several of our college professors.
We did not receive any money for adopting the standards, but did save money because we did not need to go through the traditional method of upgrading our standards by bringing in experts in the field for days and weeks to help write and rewrite the upgraded standards for Math and English/Language Arts.
We continually at the State Office and State Board level, try to explain that we upgrade Standards in all areas of the curriculum about every 5 years.  We have been working on Social Studies for the past two years.  We have and will tweak and upgrade the Common Core Standards as we move forward.  We have already added back in Cursive Writing into the Language Arts Standards and have asked teachers not to use some recommended readings, as they do not seem to be suitable for the age of students we are addressing.  We will continue to upgrade and revise all our standards to insure they are the best standards for the expectations of our students as they move into college and careers.
I have often told my constituents that as a teacher and principal and curriculum director in the public schools for over 26 years, I see such great promise for especially the mathematics standards, as they make it possible for all students to become competent in the higher levels of mathematics, which before was a “stair step approach”, which many were not able to make it through in the 4 years of high school.  Now we introduce some of the advanced mathematics concepts in late elementary and middle school, thus providing the opportunity for all students to receive the proper amount of mathematics instruction to enter STEM Fields and almost any college or career program they wish to pursue.
The same advantage is true of the English/Language Arts curriculum as it helps students identify and understand complicated texts, written to explain history, mathematics, etc.  All of which is needed at the College and Career level.
Finally, if the legislature or any other group suggests or insists that we throw out the Common Core Curriculum, which has been in place for three plus years in our schools, it will cost millions of dollars to replicate standards that are as effective, and the school system will have to throw out years of work on creating curriculum and assessments to meet these standards.
Please allow the educators in the field, with help from USOE and our professors of higher learning work to upgrade these standards as we move forward, knowing that there has been and will always be invitations to parents and constituents to give input into any upgrades — as was the case with the Common Core.  At the State Board and Utah State Office of Education level, we are always frustrated that the invitation to become involved in reviewing standards or test items is overlooked or possibly not shared with all that wish to be involved — however, in the case of the Common Core, I believe that most of those speaking out against the Core are not talking about the Standards or the Curriculum, but the intrusion of the Federal Government.  I wish all could see that this set of standards was a coalition of Governors and State School Officers who knew we needed better standards and enough of our Nation using such standards to receive quality textbooks and computer programs to help teachers teach it in our schools.
I do hope that you will look at this issue realistically in relationship to insuring that our students can and will compete for quality higher education and careers, both within our state and throughout the nation and world.
Thank you for your service and continued support of our educational system!!
Sincerely,
Dixie Allen, Region 12
Chair, Standards and Assessment
Utah State Board of Education
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EMAIL NUMBER THREE
From me again:
Dixie,
It is time for the truth to stand up to fact-checking.  I have given documented links to all of my statements about Common Core, while you and the state school board continues to give none.
Let the legislators and the people do the fact-checking and look at documentation rather than words and claims.
Dixie, I am an honest and truthful reseacher and I will gladly alter anything if you can show me I have written anything false.  Will you do the same?
Christel
———————————
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EMAIL NUMBER FOUR:
From Dave Thomas of the state school board:

The State Board has had a website for a long time that explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.  If you would like to read the State Board’s position it is at http://www.utahpublicschools.org/index.html.

David L. Thomas

Utah State Board of Education

1st Vice Chair

————————————-

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EMAIL NUMBER FIVE:

From Dixie Allen again:

Christel,
As Dave Thomas suggests, we have done that!!
Dixie

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EMAIL NUMBER SIX:

From me:

Dixie, you have not.
Your claims are never linked to documentation.   And you don’t acknowledge ours.
The USOE’s claims about Common Core are wordy and empty.  Why not show me where Utah has a voice over amending the shared core?  Show me how a teacher can have a voice in what will be tested.  Show me where these experimental standards were tried in a classroom anywhere successfully prior to being foisted on all the states.  Show me proof that deleting classics will improve literacy!
This is a giant academic fraud no matter how many people say it’s improving standards.
It is false to rob students of classical literature to 70% by senior year.   It’s wrong to diminish the teaching of the personal narrative essay.
It is a crime to steal calculus and other higher level math from high school students.
It is absurd to make little children do the type of math they are being forced to do.
Almost weekly I get letters from people who are pulling their children out of math or all of public education.  They want to know what they can do.  I tell them to ask you.  Your board has destroyed good education in this state and we are angry and we are not about to back down until you make  it right.
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Stop Common Core Rally Report   6 comments

A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S  STOP COMMON CORE  RALLIES

This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits.  All on the same night,  Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event,  while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat.   More and more, people are taking a stand for local control:  for the end of any involvement with Common Core.

Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reporters attended the Utah rally; read their reports here  and here.

Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.

siri

Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of  Common Core math

a rallyVolunteers explained to attendees how to opt out of Common Core tests.

a rally lots of people cc slc

Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night

rally feb 2014 with me judge and pytt

Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.

brian g

After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections.  His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228.   He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.

Dana

Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342.    She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”

margaret dayton

State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.

joan landes two

Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.

brian halladay

Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates:  Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher.  All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.

I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest.  In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.

Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing.  It prefers technical writing and info-texts.  In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing:  ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ ”    Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50%  but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place.  (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.)  So.  Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and  works to incrementally delete classical literature,  we must work to restore them.

This is why we held the essay contest.

sinhue

After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.

ed flint

Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved.  Details here.  

rod a

Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you?  Why not us?”  Arquette turned the question to the audience.  Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core?  Why not us?

Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.

oak

Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.

The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.

Judge Jackson prayed:

Dear God and Father of us all,

We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others.  Enable us to live with charity for all.

We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children.  May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning.  Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.

Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.

Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care.  Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Amen.

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

 

Stop Common Core Rallies Nationwide   2 comments

capitol with alyson

There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere.   The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.

utah rally

 UTAH RALLY

Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors,  is the Utah Stop Common Core rally.   As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators:  “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”

Please, Utahns, come.

We need many hundreds of people here tonight.  Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things.  There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being.  Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend.  I’ll tell you why.

If you care about liberty and local control, if you care about what your children will be learning in school and you want a voice in that, if you care about teachers being given respect and not micromanaged by an increasingly top-heavy government, if you care about the privacy of student data, if you think that classic literature should remain in schools, not edged out by “informational texts” down to 70% by the senior year, if you think that children should have access to calculus and other higher level math classes if they want to learn it, in high school; if you think traditional math algorithms are more valuable than group discovery of math pathways, if you believe in the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that states, not federal forces or corporate boardrooms, should be directing schools; if you believe in the Declaration’s guarantee that innocent people will not be subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure” to which the educational SLDS tracking system does subject all schoolchildren; if you think schools should be using educational standards that are un-experimental, time-tested, and actually analyzed and vetted locally prior to adoption; if you want to send a message to the state school board and governor that we don’t want national sex standards, national social  studies standards, and national science standards which are waiting in the wings to join our current math and English national standards;  if you want to send a message that you believe in representation and not in having unelected corporate boards and untransparent, unelected groups like the CCSSO and NGA making decisions for US that we cannot alter; if you want to see independent thought and not just groupthink taking over the textbooks of our state and nation; if you believe in the principle of honest debate rather than profiteers paying for their version of reforms without the debate of the people ever happening; if you think education reforms should have something to do with parents and teachers rather than with bureaucrats and corporate partners— then COME TO THE RALLY TONIGHT.  GOD BLESS YOU FOR COMING.
Speakers will each be giving 5-minute-or-shorter power speeches.
Utah Mom Alisa Ellis will be the Emcee.
supermom
Tonight’s speakers will be:
State Senator Margaret Dayton
Representatives Brian Greene and Dana Layton
Radio Host Rod Arquette
Attorney Ed Flint
Alpine School Board Member Brian Halladay – essay contest winner
Teacher Amy Mullins – essay contest winner
Teacher Cami Isle - essay contest winner
Agency Based Education – Oak Norton
Utahns Against Common Core – Renee Braddy
Teacher and Author Sinhue Noriega
Libertas Institute – Connor Boyack
Left/Right Alliance – Autumn Cook
Eagle Forum – Gayle Ruzicka
Mental Health Expert Joan Landes
Capitol common core meeting
There will be a meet-and-greet at 6:00 if you want to come early to ask questions.
…AND, IN OTHER PLACES….
—————————————————-
THE NEW YORK RALLY:

ny i refuse too

The New York  iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally.  One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test.   The iREFUSE New York community page:  https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout

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THE MISSOURI RALLY - HAPPENING TODAY: 
http://www.moagainstcommoncore.com/
mo rally

———————————-
THE LOUISIANA RALLY
 louisiana forum

Essay Contest for Utah Stop Common Core State Capitol Event February 18th   1 comment

write
ESSAY CONTEST for FEBRUARY 18th STOP COMMON CORE RALLY
On the 18th of Feburary at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., hundreds of Utahns will gather at the State Capitol to take a stand against Common Core.  As part of that event, Utahns Against Common Core has announced an essay contest.  Three essays will be chosen and read by their authors at this event.   Here’s the announcement:
——————————————————————————————
What’s the powerful reason that you’ve taken a stand against Common Core?  Why do you want the restoration of high quality, time-tested education standards and local control in Utah?  Do you have a great story?  Utahns Against Common Core wants to hear it!
——————————————————————————————
Submit your essay to Utahns Against Common Core at consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com by the deadline:  midnight on February 15th.  Three essays will be selected to be read at the State Capitol Common Core Event on February 18th  from 6:30 to 8:00.  Winners will be notified on February 17th and winners will be announced at the public meeting.  Winning and non-winning essays will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.  If you do not want your essay made public, please let us know.
——————————————————————————————
Topic:  Why I oppose the Common Core Initiative
Length:  Essay must be readable in less than three minutes.
Deadline:  12:00 midnight on February 15th, 2014
Prize:  You get to share your story/essay at the State Capitol Common Core Event
Capitol common core meeting

National Common Core News Update   4 comments

capitol roof

Truth in American Education and Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado have compiled most of the following information and I thank them for it.

First, here are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy pushback bills  happening right now, almost all over this nation:

Alabama tba; Arizona: SB 1121 SB 1153 SB 1095 HB 2316 SB 1310 ; Arkansas: HR 1007 SR 4; Colorado: SB 14-136; Connecticut: SB 53 Florida: PCB KTS 14-01:  See Karen Effrem’s analysis of it here; HB 25 CS/HB 195 CS/SB 188 SB 232 SB 864 ; GeorgiaB 167 SB 203 ; Illinois: HR0543 SR0638; Indiana:  SB 91This bill has passed the Senate 36-12 and will be considered by the Indiana House; Iowa HF 2140 HF 2141 SF 2123; Kansas tba; Kentucky: HB 5  HF 215;  Louisiana:  Here’s an article that discusses the work being done; Maryland: HB 76 SB 0578   SB 0579 SB 0408 Minnesota tba;  Mississippi  SB 2736; Missouri: HB 1708 HJR 74 SB 514  SB 798 SB 819 ; New Hampshire: HB 1239 HB 1508  HB 1262 HB 1586 HB 1496 HB 1587 HB 1238; New Jersey: S. 2973 A. 4403; New Mexico: SB 296: New York:  A07994  S6604  S06267;  Ohio: HB 237 HB 181 HB 193 HB 413; Oklahoma: HB 2786 HB 2849 HB 3331 HB 3166  HB 3399 SB 1146 SB 1310 Rhode Island: H 7095 South Carolina: SB 300 H. 3943 South Dakota: HB 1237:   South Dakotans Against Common Core is against this bill.  You can read why here. HB 1214 HB 1187 HB 1243 SB 63; Tennessee:  SB 2405 HB 1549 SB 1835 (Tennessee Against Common Core is not excited about this bill.) HB 1826 HB 1825 SB 1985 HB 1828 SB 1984 HB 2253 HB 1697 HB 1696 HB 1841 HB 2453 SB 2559 HB 2290 SB 2057  HB 1882 SB 1470  HB 1705 Utah tba; Wisconsin tba;  Wyoming: HB 0097

(To see a brief analysis of each bill, go to Truth in American Education.)

capitol with alyson

If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list?  We have no stop Common Core bill yet.  We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders.  So please:  please come to the State Capitol next week, on Feb. 18th at 6:30-8:00 to show your concern for this issue.  Please share this event  where we will hear from and speak with legislators, parents and organizations who are opposed to Common Core.  We need large numbers of people to show up and to show support, to get proper protections for our children here in Utah.

————————–

     And here’s more related news:

————————–

Senate Republicans to Obama:  No More Common Core Coercion  http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/05/senate-republicans-no-more-common-core-coercion/#!

Both Houses of New York Legislature Support Two-Year Delay in Common Core Testing

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/nyregion/a-call-to-ignore-exam-results-when-evaluating-educators.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Regents Likely to Stall Parts of Common Core Implementation

http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302100021&gcheck=1

Parents and Educators Outraged by Regents Failure to Address Deeper Flaws

http://www.nysape.org/parents-and-educators-outraged-by-regents-unwillingness-to-assume-responsibility-and-change-course.html

N.Y. PTA Survey Finds Students Stressed Out by Testing, Parents Opposed to Common Core Exams

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/new-york-common-core-stress_n_4747863.html?utm_hp_ref=education

Gov. Cuomo Appoints Common Core Proponents to Evaluate Common Core

http://www.nysape.org/new-yorkers-outraged-by-governors-flawed-common-core-panel.html

Missouri Board of Ed. Plans Major Reduction in Testing

http://www.semissourian.com/story/2047976.html

Alaska State Board of Education Supports Graduation Test Repeal

http://www.frontiersman.com/schools/state-board-supports-repeal-of-grad-exam/article_13c15946-8d5a-11e3-ac4b-001a4bcf887a.html

Virginia Senate Votes for Delay in Test-Based School Grades, Reduction in Testing Volume

http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/article_4e588c5a-8e1d-11e3-bf18-001a4bcf6878.html

Kentucky Ed. Commissioner: Kids Over-tested, Scores Misused

http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140206/NEWS0103/302060040/Holliday-kids-overtested-schools-overburdened

Connecticut Students Say Testing Fixation Kills Learning

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/community_meeting_raises_concerns_on_testing/

“Guinea Pigs” and “Lab Rats” Storm Rhode Island State House as Student Protest Exit Exam

Students Aren’t “Guinea Pigs” — How Field Testing Hurts Children

http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/news/

Oregon Test is Wrong for Children

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/oregons_kindergarten_test_is_w.html

Parent of Dying Florida Boy Has to Prove Her Son Can’t Take Standardized Tests

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275853/-Florida-mother-has-to-prove-her-dying-son-can-t-take-a-standardized-test#

Tennessee Teachers Fight Back Against Test-Fixated Evaluations

http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20140209/NEWS04/302090069/TN-teachers-push-back-evaluation-process

Exit Exams Make Diplomas, Jobs Elusive for Special Education Students

http://hechingerreport.org/content/for-special-education-students-diplomas-jobs-increasingly-elusive_14612/

Technical Problems Plaque Nebraska Online Writing Exam

http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/problems-with-statewide-writing-test-plague-lps-others/article_ff2965f0-6fc4-5568-b41f-581f5cc0e1d1.html

Chicago Opt Out Leaders Push Back Against Chief Executive Officer’s Hollow Threat

http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-public-fools/2014/02/its-almost-testing-season-in-chicago-opt-out-at-your-peril/

The 95% Participation Rate and How Schools Do Not Lose Funding

http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.html

Test Scores = Voodoo Data for Evaluating Students, Teachers and Schools

http://www.dailycall.com/news/editorials/3572277/Its-all-so-predictable

Colorado School Testers Flunk Themselves

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25071195/colorados-school-testers-flunk-themselves

Federal Court Upholds New York City Liability for Teacher Licensing Test Racial Bias

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2014/02/appeals_court_upholds_nyc_liab.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

Tennessee School Board Reconsiders Role of Student Test Scores in Teacher Licensure

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140201/NEWS/302010011/TN-state-board-reconsiders-role-learning-gains-teacher-licenses

Documentary Takes Standardized Testing Fight to Big Screen

http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/02/09/new-documentary-takes-standardized-testing-common-core-battle-to-big-screen/

NJ Professor Releases Common Core-Opposing “Assessments Landscape” Video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r9_ZpNbU6A

Common Rotten Core Testing ‘Toon

http://www.caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID={0037B5D8-9059-4A29-91D5-CC42A7B72B4E}

Mexico Eliminates National Exam, Test Score Bonuses

http://newspapertree.com/articles/2014/02/05/mexico-chucks-test-bonuses-national-exams

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Weighing Data-Driven Decision Making Against Privacy Under Common Core   4 comments

fish

Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?

The State School Board doesn’t think so.

Boiling down the  conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?

It’s either:

1) -  Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)

OR:

2) -  The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.

Take some time.  Think about it.  We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.

Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and  gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.”  And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit.  This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.

Data Quality Campaign” has  many  partners  including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers!   “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,”  “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”

From the DQC’s site:  “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Do you share that vision?

On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core)  they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”

And  Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected  (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges.  Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data.  http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf

Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?

But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”

Data Baby

So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:

DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test.  (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)

American Institutes for Research  will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.

(Why the nonacademic information too?  Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)

Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills.  But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.

Every state has a federally-invented SLDS:  State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding).  And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs.  So did all the other states.  It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.

We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him.   Why keep him around at all?

The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.”   This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance  agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)

Not good.

Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data.  In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.

fish bigger

But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.

Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.

Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened.  Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.

The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)

The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.

I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”

Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.

Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!

It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information

Is this what we want for Utah?

Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.

To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.

This is not hyperbole.  Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data.  We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.

Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing.  They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.

Do you?

Dear Governor Herbert: Let’s Be Like Indiana!   2 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

Let’s be like Indiana!   The support of the State Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence are making it possible for the people to reclaim local control of education.  Indiana’s dropping Common Core.  We in Utah should do the same, rather than continually giving lip service to local autonomy.

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/01/29/ind-senate-panel-oks-plan-to-drop-common-core/5013185/
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/16/Governor-Mike-Pence-Hints-Indiana-May-Drop-Common-Core
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
——
Please, fellow Utahns–  write  often to our Utah leaders.  Let them know what is going on in national education reform and pushback, since our local newspapers rarely do.  Tell them what you want them to do.   They are supposed to represent us– not D.C. corporations or agencies of the federal government.  We must speak up.
————-
CONTACT INFORMATION:

Governor Herbert:  constituentservices@utah.gov

Superintendent Menlove: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Utah State School Board:  Board@schools.utah.gov

Utah Mother of Seven Alisa Ellis to Speak This Week in Kansas and Wyoming About Common Core   3 comments

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control – Alisa Ellis

Alisa

Picture a bread-baking, fun-loving, church-going, small-town mother of seven –who was never politically active, who never even used to vote, –picture her becoming a sudden political activist who now travels across Utah and to other states to speak to live audiences, radio audiences, and on t.v. about the Common Core Initiative. Let me tell you a little bit about Alisa Ellis, a woman whose motto is, “I do not live in fear.”

To Alisa, education had always been important. She and her husband liked to say that they were proudly raising a family of nerds. They were the kind of parents who volunteered in the classroom. They were the kind who paid attention.

But their introduction to the educational transformation of America known as Common Core came in 2011, long after the initiative had been adopted by the state. (2011 is a whole year after the Utah state school board adopted Common Core without public knowledge or vetting; and it was two years after the state had agreed to accept the federal $9.6 million to create an “SLDS” student tracking database.)

Alisa received a Common Core pamphlet at a parent-teacher conference.

She stared at it. She puzzled. She asked the teacher to explain.

“I didn’t know how one size-fits-all would work without hurting the top and bottom students,” she recalls. But when she asked the teacher to expound on the subject, that teacher didn’t know anything.

Alisa began to ask around.

“I asked everyone I knew for their thoughts on Common Core. I tried researching online but everything was fluff,” she said, “It was nine months before I was invited to a meeting to learn more.”

One day at the grocery store, she bumped into a friend who actually knew something about the Common Core Initiative. The conversation lasted a long time. The friend invited Alisa to come to a “Cornerstone of Freedom” meeting to learn more. The friend added, “Oh, and would you make a few comments?”

Alisa thought that meant that she should raise her hand and make comments. She found out, during the meeting, that she was an actual scheduled speaker– after the other speaker.

“I saw my name on the schedule and immediately panicked. I pulled out my tablet and started researching ‘What is Common Core?’ After a few minutes, I realized it was pointless and I would be better off just sharing my concerns.”

She told the audience of her concerns which had begun with the Common Core pamphlet at the parent/teacher conference. She told the story of another meeting, a gifted-and-talented informational meeting, where the director said that next year, teachers would ‘start digging deeper.’

(“Digging deeper? That same line was repeated so many times that I knew I was being fed something,” she explained.)

She also told the audience another story: a school guidance counselor had advised her to take her son out of AP history. The counselor had said that her son’s “career track was more along the lines of engineering.”

He’d said, based on Alisa’s son’s ACT practice test, that: “clearly your son isn’t going to be a history professor, so we should pull him out of AP world history and put him in a class that follows his career path.” Because Alisa had trusted the system, she hadn’t questioned the counselor’s advice so she pulled her son out of AP history. This was a decision she later regretted.

Alisa started digging more deeply into the whole Common Core Initiative. She read the state’s Memorandum of Understanding with the developers of the Common Core. She read the Cooperative Agreement. She saw how the State Longitudinal Database System intertwined with the academic standards and tests. She read speeches by secretary of education Arne Duncan. She read the No Child Left Behind documents and waivers. She read the implementation manuals that were sent out to governors to tell them how to promote Common Core. She read documents by Achieve, Inc., the group that helped create the standards for the copyrighters. She could hardly believe that the Common Core’s takeover of local control was out in the open, yet unknown by virtually everyone who ought to know about it.

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control,” she said.

She went with her friend, Renee Braddy, to meet with local teachers, principals, local school board members, the community council, and the local superintendent to discuss Common Core. These discussions resulted in the opportunity to make a presentation at the local school board meeting. (That presentation was filmed, and is called Two Moms Against Common Core on YouTube.) The superintendent had asked them not to film their presentation, but since it was an open, public meeting they did anyway. The video was shared around the state and ignited a firestorm of activists to stand up and fight against Common Core. I was among the people who got to see Alisa and Renee’s video the first week it was posted.

Next, Alisa decided it was time to become more active. She became the county delegate to the Republican convention, and before the convention, she started making phone calls to find out which candidates were promoters of Common Core. She found that all the candidates running for national level seats were opposed to Common Core. All the local candidates, aside from the current Governor, were also against it. (Governor Herbert was undecided at the time.) However, the candidates running for state legislature seats were less willing to take a position.

With unflinching determination, she successfully set up two face-to-face meetings with Governor Herbert to discuss Common Core. Then she organized public meetings and helped bring in expert academic witnesses to meet with legislators; she started her blog called Common Core Facts, she repeatedly attended and spoke up at state school board meetings, and she co-founded Utahns Against Common Core with a handful of other Utahns. (That website and petition “Utahns Against Common Core” today has over 8,000 signatures.)

Alisa’s actions, along with other activism happening around the state, eventually helped push Utah’s leadership to agree to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortia. It was a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Common Core. (Side note: after Utah bowed out of SBAC, other states also began to withdraw from SBAC and PARCC. Sadly, Utah’s state school board subsequently chose to use another Common Core testing entity, AIR, which is partnered with the same SBAC. –But that’s another story.)

From the beginning, Alisa began to get invitations to speak across the state and then from other states. Today, she has probably given over fifty speeches on the subject, in tiny places and large venues, both with other speakers from Utahns Against Common Core and on her own.

This week, she will be speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in Merriam, Kansas.

You are invited.

Girl with Barcode on Foot

WYOMING

What: WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE: TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE

Where: Snow King Resort Teton Room

When: 6:15 PM on January 28, 2014

Who: Speakers will include Amy Edmonds – Wyoming Liberty Group; Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core; Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher; Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core – Presented by Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole

Cost: Admission free; a donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.

Alisa in Kansas

KANSAS

What: Alisa Ellis will speak on the history and truth about Common Core and its impact on our children and their education.

When: Tuesday, February 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: Antioch Library – 8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS 66202

Note from the Antioch Library: Besides the library’s parking lot, parking is available behind Taco Bell and to the larger lot west of Taco Bell.

—-

Thank you, Alisa. And thank you, Renee. (I will write about Renee and her adventures another day.)

Deseret News to Live Stream Common Core Debate Tonight   5 comments

images

Tonight’s much-anticipated Common Core debate, featuring Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams arguing against Common Core, versus two state school board members, Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer arguing for Common Core, will be live-streamed by the Deseret News.

Additionally, it will be featured on http://www.deseretnews.com later today and on http://watchit.deseretnews.com.

If you want to attend the event in person, here is the time and address.

(Note: a Logan newspaper mistakenly wrote the start time to be 7:00. It is actually 6:00.)

Where: Mount Logan Middle School at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.
When: January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Who: The public, legislators and press will be there. Moderator: radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Please come and bring friends.

Live Stream/ Youtube link:

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   7 comments

state school board picture photo utah

untitled

Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.

Submit questions to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.

The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.

I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?

3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?

4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?

5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?

6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?

7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?

8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?

17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?

18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.

19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for your answer.

20. Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?

21. Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?

22. What roles does the Utah State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)play in reporting to the federal Edfacts Exchange and to the national E.I.M.A.C./CCSSO data collection machines?

23. How do you respond to the question asked by Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University? He said:
“This is not data-driven decision making… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the Common Core standards?”
24. Do you see Common Core’s emphasis on testing as potentially harming American creativity and entrepreneurial fields in which U.S. graduate have historically led the world– or do you see this emphasis on standardization and testing as simply creating more individuals who are very good at taking tests– like students in some Asian countries– without any harm being done to creativity or love of learning?

25. The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system …“ In light of this, please explain why our state has partnered with those who agree to micromanagement by the federal department of education such as the CCSSO.

26. Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally-lauded Common Core standards and tests?
27. What types of legal protections does student data have in writing that can protect us from the federal government and vendors and researchers– in light of recent changes to FERPA privacy regulations, and in light of the federally funded and federally-reporting State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that is partnered with the CCSSO (and PESC) under Utah’s SLDS grant agreement?

28. Why has the Utah State School Board not stood up against federally-partnered and SBAC-partnered Common Core tests to defend local control?

29. For students in the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. High test scores in a few subjects can be achieved in most developing countries, so how could Common Core increase global competitiveness for U.S. students?

30. How can any test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

31. What empirical evidence do you have that high Common Core test scores could result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship?

32. If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore the U.S. on standardized tests such as PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)? In other words, what evidence do we have that pressuring students to focus on standardized testing will improve the U.S. economy?

33. Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the international PISA tests? (see Riddle, 2009) In other words, why are we pushing Common Core when our previous system of local control and freedom worked better academically than other countries’ governmentally standardized systems?

34. Companies like Boeing and GE are allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012). Can U.S. emphasis on standardized test scores create global competitiveness, really, or is it more likely that we should change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages, to increase our global competitiveness?

35. Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012) while only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

36. Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).

37. Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship –and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?

38. To what extent do you agree with this statement? “Common Core is a standardized education philosophy that transmits prescribed content via nationally aligned standards, aligned tests and aligned texts; the previous system was less organized, more loosely monitored, less unified, but spent more time on creativity, individual exploration and innovation.”

39. How do you feel about the funding of the Common Core: one unelected businessman– Bill Gates– funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks (Fordham Institute, Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Educational Excellence) that advocate for it, he partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base”, and that he has said that his goal is for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align? See Gates’ public speech here.

40. How do you feel about Secretary Arne Duncan’s stated goals for national Common Core Educational Standards and Common Data Standards? To summarize, a few of Duncan’s stated goals are:

–1) to have the federal government take more control over American schools than ever before,
–2) to make schools (not families) be the community centers, open 6-7 days a week, 12 months a year, 14 hours per day; and
–3) to partner the federal department of education with the copyrighters of the Common Core (CCSSO) for both education standards AND for data collection standards.

———————-

THE CONTINUAL WEARYING a.k.a. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

(More thoughts on the ongoing Common Core debate:)

If you aren’t going to attend the debate, please use these questions or your own to create more strong pushback from the Common Core disaster.

This is America! We are the people with the power to make things right when we see that they are wrong. This is not a land of centralized power, dictatorship, socialism. This is a land of liberty, where the local people self-govern. We have to wake people up to see that freedom matters– and that Common Core surely takes it away from our children.

We can use the beautiful American processes of debate, of real representation, and of constitutional balances of powers that are supposed to defend freedom and local autonomy.

If everyone who cared deeply about the damages of Common Core were to weary the school boards and governors with questions –repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasinglyCommon Core could not stand.

Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.

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 wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.

What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.

But it lacks the important stuff.

Parents (and teachers) can win back local control. We care more deeply about our children and about legitimate education than the proponents care about our children or Common Core.

We just have to be the squeaky wheel.

unrighteous judge parable

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.”

Weary them, weary them.

We can write or call 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 principal and others in the school districts and especially make sure to pester state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber.

Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov

Here is the state superintendent’s address: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: ckearl@utah.gov

If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov

DEBATE in Logan Jan. 6th   3 comments

This should be very interesting.

Mount Logan Middle School is providing the facility for a Common Core issues debate on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.

Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams will debate two state school board members: Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer.

The event is open to the public and will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

Please come and bring friends.

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

This informative video, “Utah Bites Into Common Core” features Wendy Hart, one of the debaters, who is both an elected member of the Alpine School Board, and an active member of Utahns Against Common Core.

School Counselors Required to Push Common Core   4 comments

school counselor

I feel sorry for school guidance counselors. There’s a document out called “Role of the School Counselor in Utah Core” that says:

“You [the guidance counselors] are often the first line of defense in honoring the validity of the Utah Core State Standards.”

How many school counselors do you think became counselors so that they could serve (without pay) as marketing agents for the Gates-Pearson-Duncan power machine? I wonder if any school counselors are asking the state school board or their local superintendents on WHAT grounds they should honor the Core’s supposed validity. –Or is even the asking now seen as being insubordinate?

School counselors are supposed to “honor” the validity of UNVALID standards.

Does anything about this seem right to you?

VALID?

Doesn’t the word “valid” imply passing a validity test?

Common Core is both academically and politically invalid.

It’s 100% untried, experimental, and was rejected by its key validation committee members. It has a governance system over states that is contrary to the Constitutional way.

Surely at least some of the school counselors know these things.

The document quotes Jeb Bush: “The Common Core State Standards are an example of states recognizing a problem, then working together, sharing what works and what doesn’t.”

JEB BUSH.

Yikes. Jeb Bush, of all people, is not about to tell the truth about Common Core. Jeb Bush is funded by the very “philanthropist” who funded the entire Common Core and all its marketing, the one and only Bill Gates. Jeb Bush as a neutral, trustworthy source? Not even close!

But his statement is a lie even if it wasn’t coming from a Gates-bought man. Because Common Core is not, and never has been, an example of states “working together”. States didn’t ever “share what works and what doesn’t” to create the Core. That never happened, no matter how many times proponents claim that it did.

It was a group of D.C. businessmen that created the Common Core Standards without input from any Utah representatives nor Utah educators. There’s nothing state-led about it!

Nor did any state (or anyone) ever test these experimental standards. Ever.

This document for school counselors fails to mention, too, that no state has been given any authority by the Common Core Initiative to “work together” in the future, either, to amend or ever ALTER these commonly-held, supposedly states-controlled standards.

In truth, only the D.C. businessmen who created the standards can alter them because the standards are bound under copyright by D.C. businessmen. And they’re not accountable to voters.

So where’s the voice of the people in all of this?

School counselors are being pressured to believe and repeat actual falsehoods to students and parents.

INTERNATIONALLY BENCHMARKED?

Guidance counselors are told in the document that the standards are internationally benchmarked, which is another lie. As Dr. Stotsky has explained, “we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor… Not mentioned at all… is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director. Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked.

On what planet are the Common Core standards in fact internationally benchmarked?

STATE-LED? NO FEDERAL ROLE?

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments”.

So the President claims he thought up Common Core.

But school guidance counselors are reading that “The Federal Government played NO role in the development of the Common Core State Standards.”

Confusing? Not really.

There are unarguable proofs to rebut the “no-federal-control-of-standards” claim.

There’s a federal cap of 15% on Common Core in the ESEA flexibility document, meaning that the federal government is telling states that they can’t add more than 15% to their standards if they’ve accepted Common Core.

There’s a federal review of Common Core tests.

Obama claimed he asked American governors to create common standards.

Duncan and Obama advocate for Common Core as they alter the meaning of the term “college and career ready standards,” –(click on it)– the term is now officially redefined on the federal website as being standards “COMMON TO A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF STATES” –on the ed.gov website!

Duncan promised that he and Obama would enlarge the federal role in education. He announced in a speech to UNESCO, “Traditionally [Constitutionally] the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more“. Clearly, Duncan and Obama have unconstitutional aims in controlling states’ educational systems. They are not hiding their aims very well.

There is also the top-heavy federal controls mandated for beneficiaries of the Common Core test grant called “Race to the Top for the Assessments” for (SBAC and PARCC testing consortia members.)

There is also the outrageous, official Department of Education partnership with the unelected D.C. club (CCSSO) that wrote and copyrighted the Common Core Standards –as well writing the Common DATA standards. Then we have the federal carrot of money going directly from the federal Department of Education to individual DISTRICTS that accept Common Core. Next there are federal reviews of Common Core tests. And there is federal data collection by federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO and the federal EDFACTS data exchange, of information gathered by Common Core tests. And don’t forget President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform, which includes STANDARDS as well as data collection and teacher controls and more.

This lie is repeated, as counselors are told in the document’s “helpful talking points” section, that Common Core was a state-led effort “spearheaded by governors and state school chiefs” –assuming counselors (and all of us) are too stupid to realize that governors and school chiefs have ZERO authority over creation of unconstitutional, national education standards and do not represent voters on a national stage.

So on what planet is it a true statement that there is no federal role in the Common Core?

NO HARM TO CLASSIC LITERATURE?

The next “myth” that the document addresses is “the standards do not limit reading to non-fiction but promote a balance between literature and non-fiction works”.

The fact is that Common Core standards will drive the Common Core aligned tests and thus will drive the teaching.

Common Core standards do reduce the amount of classic literature that a student may be exposed to, and that limitation level increases gradually so that by the time a student is in high school, only a small percentage of his/her reading may be literature; most of it must be informational text, the types of nonfiction reading assignments that used to be given in history, science, journalism, or health classes. Now it’s invaded the sacred territory of the English classroom, to the marginalization of stories, and in my view, also to the detriment of the love of reading.

The English professor who served on the Common Core validation committee and refused to sign off on the validity of the standards, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, explained in a white paper:

“Common Core’s “college-readiness” standards for ELA and reading are simply empty skill sets… As empty skill sets, Common Core’s college-readiness standards for ELA and reading cannot strengthen the high school curriculum, and they cannot reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. Instead, they weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework… Common Core expects English teachers to spend over 50 percent of their reading instructional time on nonfiction and informational texts such as seminal U. S. political documents, court decisions, and scientific and technical manuals. This is not what English teachers are trained to do in any college English department or teacher-preparation program… Common Core makes it impossible for English teachers to construct a coherent literature curriculum in grades 6-12, since most of the reading curriculum in those grades must address nonfiction and informational topics. Information about what? Will test developers select informational texts from science, history/social studies, and mathematics that English teachers have never been expected to teach?”

On what planet is there no harm to classic literature (to student learning of it) under Common Core?

STUDENT DATA PRIVACY?

Next, the school counselors’ document says that it is a myth that “implementation of the standards requires the collection and retention of personally-identifiable student data“.

First, a few questions: Can I, (barring homeschool) opt my child out of the Common Core aligned curriculum in any public/charter school in Utah? Of course not; it’s the new (although WRONG) normal.

Second: Can I opt my child out of being tracked by the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System)? No. Not according to the Utah State School Board.

(If Common Core and student data tracking are completely unrelated, as the document claims, then why are both mandated by the state school board and why do new core tests link the two?)

Third: Even if I opt my child out of taking the Common Core math and English tests, can I opt her out of taking Common Core-aligned college entrance exams, to keep her information from reaching the State Longitudinal Database Systems and the federal reporting exchanges? How?

Common sense shows us that Common Core and common data systems are intertwined. But here’s more than common sense: links to proof.

If you go to the website of the CCSSO, that private D.C. club to which some superintendents belong, that same club that created and copyrighted Common Core, you will read this:

“The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.” So the Department of Education has partnered officially with the CCSSO/Common Core makers to also create a Common Data Standards Initiative.

When Utah accepted a $9.6 million grant to build a federally-stipulated student longitudinal database in Utah, it also agreed to the PESC model, a CCSSO creation funded by the Gates Foundation. The PESC Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”

PESC states that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

Did you read that? The core purpose of SLDS is to FULFILL FEDERAL REPORTING. Creepier and creepier. Why even call it a “State” database? Why not just call it a federal database housed inside our state?

I find this alarming. Here is the evidence:

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA SLDS Data Grant: “The UDA (Utah Data Alliance) will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) and other XML schemas.”

We see clearly that Utah agreed to PESC common data standards in exchange for federal money. And the PESC “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum” and the purpose of the $9.6 million SLDS was “to fulfill federal reporting.”

But wait, there’s more.

The Common Core federal grant for Common Core testing, also known as the “Cooperative Agreement,” says that states receiving this grant money must “Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements… including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity, and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.” (And recall that the Department of Education shredded the previously protective privacy laws.)

Democratic Senator Edward markey of Massachusetts wrote a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan months ago, to which Duncan has not yet responded. In it, the Senator asked Duncan to explain why he had altered previously protective student privacy regulations known as FERPA.

Equally bad is the lack of safety for student data in the hands of the vendors of Common Core-aligned educational products. A New York Times article this week says that “when school districts are transferring student information to cloud service providers, by and large key privacy protections are absent from those arrangements,’ said Joel R. Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham who led the study. ‘We’re worried about the implications for students over time, how their personal information may be used or misused.’”

The NYT article also states that “privacy specialists, industry executives and district officials say that federal education privacy rules and local district policies are not keeping up with advances like learning apps that can record a child’s every keystroke or algorithms that classify academic performance. Without explicit prohibitions on the nonacademic use of the information, specialists warn that unflattering data could hypothetically be shared with colleges or employers, to the detriment of the student” and that “under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, schools that receive federal funding must generally obtain written permission from parents before sharing students’ educational records. An exception allows school districts to share student information with companies, like those providing student information systems, without parental consent.”

So, on what planet does Common Core have nothing to do with federal student data collection or vendor data collecting?

A TRAGIC EXPERIMENT ON OUR FUTURE

Tragically, the entire underlying assumption that the Common Core standards are in fact an improvement, rather than a detraction from education, is totally questionable.

Though we wouldn’t allow a doctor to operate on our children without first vetting his surgical theories, yet state school board members and our governor are allowing children to be subjected to experimental standards that rest on zero research data– and there is no empirical data for unpiloted experimental standards. (For more on that, read Seton Hall University Professor Christopher Tieken’s article and video on “Dataless Decisionmaking” and the educational malpractice of Common Core.)

At what point does a parent raise her voice?

At what point does a teacher just say no?

At what point does a guidance counselor stand up for truth?

If I were a school guidance counselor, I would find a job at a private school, independent of Common Core.

If I couldn’t find another job, I would tell my students and inquiring parents that Common Core is a controversial topic and that they should research it for themselves.

I would tell my principal and school board that I did not become a guidance counselor to promote unproven theories of businessmen, noneducators, federal agencies and racketeers.

I would call out the lies of all the Common Core pushers, and not let them make me one of them.

Sec. Arne Duncan Makes a Personal Visit to Utah   5 comments

moss and duncan

Carol S. Moss, Utah legislator, caused a bit of a splash when she posted this photo of herself with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Facebook this week. Rep. Moss must have felt it was an honor to meet Mr. Duncan.

Some Utahns feel very differently.

If you don’t know much about your U.S. Secretary of Education, please learn about him.

1. In his own words: (speech) How Duncan and President Obama plan to increase the role of the federal government.

2. In his own words: what top-heavy controls Duncan has mandated for those states who were beneficiaries of the Race to the Top for the Assessments grant (SBAC and PARCC testing consortia members)

3. There is Duncan’s outrageous, official Department of Education “partnership” with the unelected, private D.C. club (CCSSO) that wrote and copyrighted the Common Core Standards –as well as the Common DATA standards. Yes, you read that right. Common Data Standards. The better to control you with, my dear.

4. In Duncan’s own words: what Duncan spun to the Society of American News Editors last June about student privacy and Common Core.

5. A letter– un-responded-to open letter to Secretary Duncan from teachers in Chicago.

6. Another letter –also un-responded-to – the open letter to Secretary Duncan from Democratic Senator Edward Markey about Duncan’s abuses of student data privacy.

Additional own research on Secretary Duncan’s “reforms”:

–Why Duncan made the “Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform” list
–The obvious lies of Arne Duncan about student privacy violations: “Spin it Like Duncan
Six sneaky moves that truly harm student privacy that Secretary Duncan has spearheaded

I don’t think many people could be aware of all of this and still feel good about posing for a picture with Secretary Duncan.

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I do not think Rep. Moss is bad. I think she is naiive like virtually all our state education leaders. So few have even bothered to ask question one about Common Core’s origins, designs, price tag, experimentality, controlling governance system, and ultimate effects on children.

I’m going to paste Rep. Moss’s Facebook thread here. Decide for yourself whether we ought to be modeling admiration for this “reformer” as Rep. Moss has done, in front of children and other citizens. Or not.

Facebook Thread:

REP. CAROL MOSS: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to Salt Lake City to see the remarkable success of Northwest Middle School and hear from their administrators, teachers, students, and parents about how they transformed Northwest from a low-achieving school with an at-risk population to one of Utah’s best middle schools. A major factor: a $2.3 million school improvement grant which provided additional resources needed to assist struggling students. Most important factor: Visionary administrators and dedicated, talented teachers. (Yes, I am short, but Sec. Duncan is verrrrry tall.) I wish every legislator had been there.

LISA CUMMINS (of Utahns Against Common Core): What a shameful picture! After what Mr. Duncan has said and done, to violate family privacy rights, what he has said about parents (and white suburban moms) and other things, this is not a proud moment for Utah Rep. Moss! I wonder, as does Heather Andrews Williamson, if data was sold for Mr. Duncan’s visit, as it was in California. If I was a parent who’s child was at Northwest, I’d pull my child out of that school as fast as I could! What a pariah!

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss: Your comments are insulting to all the great teachers, administrators and parents who are proud of the success of NW Middle School. They used the grant to help the students make great gains and change a school culture that did not create a great learning environment. They were proud to have Sec. Duncan visit their school and tout it as a public school success. I am sorry to hear such hateful comments about what was a celebratory occasion.

Christel Lane Swasey: Carol Moss, I have to defend Lisa Cummins. Arne Duncan has a history of lying to the American people. I’m sure he’s nice to his children and small animals, and I wish him a Merry Christmas, but he is not a good Secretary of Education nor is he a good example of one who upholds the Constitution or teacher’s autonomy. Lisa Cummins and others are trying to defend teachers’ rights, to defend students’ rights and to fight Duncan’s Common Core and related disaterous “reforms” that hurt us. Some may have felt Mr. Duncan’s visit was a celebratory occasion, but many do not. His painful reforms speak for themselves. We cannot pretend that “all is well in Zion” when it is not.

LISA CUMMINS: Carol, I am sorry you feel my comments are insulting. But I was in no way directing them to the parents, administrators, and especially the teachers. I believe that local control is best, and they do not need the head of education, a department which I see as unconstitutional, to come to give them praise! Seeing their children succeed is of course, great to see. However with Mr. Duncan coming to our State, into our schools, coming close to our children concerns me a great deal!

This man has limited my and other parents authority over our kids’ data by his editing of FERPA laws, two years ago this month. He had the laws edited without Congressional approval or oversight, sighting that shareholders needed to be able to have access when necessary. That getting parental approval was ‘optimal or best practice’.

As our Representative, I would hope that you would support parents’ rights and the privacy of our children, and not be proud to celebrate with a man who seeks to take these away. If Utah is going to retain local control we cannot take handouts and the strings that are attached. There are better ways and people have succeeded with much less.

I hope you will respect my concerns of Arnie Duncan and protecting my and others’ children.

Christel, thank you for standing beside me!

SARAH FELT: I agree with Lisa and Christel. His visit is not something I would be proud of. Yes, be proud of NW school’s accomplishments. (Which by the way she did not attack.) And I would still like to know if what Lisa brought up is true here in Utah also. Was our student data bartered for just like in California? That question was not answered by you. I, as a parent, do not feel it justified to have my child’s personal data sold, particularly without my express consent, not for any amount of money for any potential educational “gain”. You mentioned that NW accepted a grant. What were the terms and conditions of that grant? Are all the parents aware of those conditions? Was there full disclosure?

LeNell Hancock Heywood: Arne Duncan is not a celebrity. The teachers are the true heroes! We need less bureaucrats and more teachers so that class sizes are smaller.

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Fighting With the Utah State Office of Education   4 comments

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/common-core-movie-building-the-machine-trailer/

I am impressed by the new Common Core movie trailer (that I shared yesterday) and I do hope it gets a million views.

So, today I sent out an email link to the new Common Core documentary movie to many people I thought would be interested in it, both friends and foes: The state and local school boards, the Governor’s office, my representatives, newspapers, friends, relatives, etc.

One of these email link recipients was Sydnee Dickson, a Utah State Office of Education curriculum bureaucrat. (To see more about her, click on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1VnpQuJQsY or see this older post or read this to see her earlier attacks on me.)

syd

I think you might find Sydnee Dickson’s response to the trailer today, revealing:

SYDNEE DICKSON: I watched the trailer and noted at the end that it is directed and funded by Michael J. Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Michael P. Farris, attorney at parentalrights.org. The message in the trailer focuses on the false assumptions of federal takeover, dumbing down of education, lack of parental control, etc.

ME: False assumptions? I’d like to see evidence that they are false. I think they are true.

SYDNEE DICKSON: I am sure that you do and I respect your perspective… I just don’t share it. I appreciate you keeping us in the loop, however, as things are produced supporting your claims. It helps us know what people are concerned about.
Syd

ME: I would like to know what evidence you are basing your perspective upon. Since you used the term “false assumptions” I want to know how you arrive at that term and perspective. This is, after all, an intellectual, academic debate and evidence is important in order to establish truth. If you are willing, I and many others would be very happy to see it. Thank you.

SYDNEE DICKSON: We have provided plenty of evidence and have exhausted this debate with you. I am not interested in trying to change your mind; but am most interested in supporting students, teachers, and parents in ensuring their students are ready for their future. I know you believe this is important as well. I am happy to talk about how the Utah Core Standards play a part in this.
Syd

ME: Syd, your office has never provided evidence (beyond repeating opinions from Gates-funded organizations) that Common Core can ever help Utah children to succeed –because such evidence does not exist.

Common Core is an experimental, unpiloted program pushed for financial gain alone, at the expense of true college readiness, and you and I both know it.

The way to support students, teachers and parents would have been to build Utah’s future on time-tested standards, not Common Core. The way to support them would be to defend their (our) rights to locally controlled education, curriculum and testing, which the Common Core system is not. You know this as well as I do.

Even the term “Utah Core Standards” is deceptive; you know as well as I do that English and math standards in Utah ARE Common Core standards. I resent the deception.

You say that you simply “disagree” as if there were two equally viable and equally valid sides to the argument. The fact is, either you or I are alarmingly, frighteningly wrong.

We both cannot be correct. I say Common Core will do horrible, uncalculable damage to our future as Utahns; you say it’s nothing but a blessing. We cannot both be right! Is there no truth?

Proponents of Common Core should at least try to prove their system is academically legitimate and in harmony with the Constitution of the United States (separation of powers, decentralization, checks and balances). If not, why be a proponent? For money only?

If you are not even willing to discuss it, dismissing me as simply someone who “sees things differently” than you do, then you imply that the long-term effects do not matter, either.

I would venture to guess that I care a lot more about this than you do. I don’t get paid as you do, to fight about Common Core. The least you can do is stand up for your side of the argument if it is to be believed or discussed honorably.

(Waiting to hear back from her. I have a feeling I will never get any real answer.)

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Update: Two more exchanges:

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On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Dickson, Sydnee wrote:

Christel,

Our evidence has included letters and public testimonies from those who directed the writing of the standards and actually wrote the standards. You have called my statements from face to face meetings with the architects “not credible” on websites and you have indicated in the past that their testimony isn’t credible because they were funded in part, by the Gates Foundation. We have sent you and posted various documents which you and your peers reject as evidence. I spend most of my time working with teachers, principals, and district leaders on issues of high quality instruction and educator evaluation. I serve on panels, present at meetings, etc. on behalf of people interested in the CORE and am happy to continue to do so. It isn’t worth my time to continue to restate what we have already addressed. I merely included you on the email to the Board as you are the one who initiated the film trailer.

I would like to reiterate a point regarding the naming of the Utah Core. Utah has had CORE standards since 1984. I was a teacher at the time, using the standards. Our standards are continually reviewed and revised. We have never tried to hide the fact that we adopted the Common Core ELA and mathematics standards. We have been very up front about that. However, when they were adopted, they replaced our ELA and mathematics standards and are now Board adopted Utah Core Standards. You will find across the country that states have named them various things, based on the process of review in their particular state. They might be called ___________(state) College and Career Ready Standards, __________(state) Common Core Standards, or ___________(state) Core Standards. It varies. I am linking you to a aggregated website that shows all of the state websites addressing the CCSS https://sites.google.com/site/commoncoreinthecloud/the-other-49. This was developed by a state office employee in North Dakota.

I have never stated that the CCSS is “nothing but a blessing”. I do believe they are a key piece of reform that will help our students be better prepared to meet the demands of today’s economy. The irony is that for the first time in history, states have done exactly what the federal government thinks we can’t do. We’ve come together to create a set of standards to enable us to share resources, help military families be mobile without penalty to their children in schools, create a common set of standards that are more comparable on NAEP and other national reports, and allows for higher levels of collaboration among educators as we speak the same language. We are already getting great data out of a couple of our early adopting districts and exciting things are happening in classrooms all across Utah. We definitely still have work to do but, the potential for our children to achieve higher standards is exciting. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family, Christel, and hope that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Syd

Sydnee,

Letters and opinions supporting Common Core are only as credible as the scientific data behind them. The architects of Common Core were businessmen, not content experts, and they had zero data driving their decision-making. This is common knowledge. They never even meant for Common Core to prepare kids for legitimate university (4 year) study nor for STEM careers. If you click on that link you will see the Common Core creator state that the standards were “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

They just want everything standardized.

Their being funded by Gates does create a conflict of interest, absolutely. But even without the monetary motivation, these testimonies are not credible because they are not based on empirical evidence. Empirical evidence means testing the theories upon which Common Core rests: like, actually testing (for many years, on many many students) the theory that diminishing narrative writing and reading in favor of increasing technical writing and informational reading is legitimately better in the long run. (The same goes for the theories of Common Core’s weak math theories.) These dramatic transformations ARE UNTESTED.

It doesn’t matter who thinks they’re a good idea or who doesn’t– you cannot testify with validity to what has never been tried, any more than you can come back from a location to which you have never been.

This is why people who are actually experts in curricular content such as Dr. Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. James Milgram, should be heeded. Dr. Tienken calls this Common Core “educational malpractice” because it’s based on nothing but marketing. Nothing. Else.

But even if the standards were academically legitimate, time-tested, proven, and in actual fact, better than what we had, I would still be opposed to them on Constitutional grounds. Liberty matters to me!

It is not an accurate statement to say that “states have come together to create a set of standards.” There was nobody from Utah who was sent to serve on that Common Core creation board. Brenda Hales who works with you said this in a Heber meeting. Nobody from Utah helped because the creators “didn’t want it to become a Constitutional convention.” And indeed it was not.

The states did not create these standards and that will always be a lie no matter how many times proponents repeat it.

The standards were funded by Gates, and were created by two unelected clubs, CCSSO and NGA, who have no voter accountability whatsoever. CCSSO and NGA are totally un-transparent, private D.C. clubs. Clubs! NGA and CCSSO are not Constitutionally recognized entities that are valid spearheads to speak for and decide for the actual people of Utah, any more than Miss Teen Utah is a politically valid representative for the citizens of our state.

These two clubs have copyrighted OUR standards. Where is the representation for you and me? Where is our voice? Where is Utah’s identity in all of this? Beyond being permitted, like house pets, to add 15% to the D.C.-created standards, there is no voice for Utah anymore.

The state school board gave away our authority– their authority! They had no right to do this. The board did, under the Utah Constitution, have the right to set Utah’s education standards, but they had no right to hand their assigned role over to the clubs of D.C. as they have done, or to delegate that authority out.

We didn’t need Common Core to “enable us to share resources.” We didn’t need Common Core to “help mobile families.” Less than 1% of American students move from state to state. Empirical fact. We didn’t need Common Core to create a one-language standardized system in order to collaborate. America is too diverse to be shacked to one language or one system. And those who control this new “language” do not have our local best interests at heart. The goals of those D.C. clubs and their funders will always be served before the goals of Heber City under the Common Core.

I have no personal reason to fight with you. The reason I fight is that these principles MATTER to me. Freedom and local control matter to me more than any of these talking points of the proponents of the core matter to me. I see them as the foundation for all that is good and right.

I do not agree with the president of the NCEE, Mark Tucker, who in promoting Common Core says that the “United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.”

Maybe you agree with him.

I do appreciate your well wishing and your good holiday cheer and wish you the same happy season as well. If I lived on your street, I’d be baking you cookies and my kids would come caroling to your door. But I predict that your office and the USSB office will receive a lot more grief before this is over, as more and more people wake up to what has happened.

Thanks for the discussion.

Christel

Utah Mom Alyson Williams: The Common Core Standards That We Aren’t Talking About   15 comments

apple books

Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.

6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:

1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”

2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”

3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”

4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”

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THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?

We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.

Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.

At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.

This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)

Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.

Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.

The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.

Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core

There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.

As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.

No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.

apple poison

This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.

This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.

Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.

A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4

When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.

What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”

The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.

Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.

My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

Translating Obama’s Four Pillars of Education Reform: JaKell Sullivan   3 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THANK YOU, JAKELL SULLIVAN.

Meetings in Logan, Heber, and Manti This Week – and How to Study If You Can’t Attend   Leave a comment

The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.

– LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey

– HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan

– MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey

The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.

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A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:

The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The Race to the Top Grant Application- Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can, however, opt out of Common Core tests.)

The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that it states that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.

The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.

The testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors who have testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.

Follow the money trails – See what Bill Gates has paid for, and see how Common Core is a money-making monopoly that circumvents voters via public-private partnerships.

Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina Have Local Control –but Utah Does Not?   Leave a comment

According to an article at EagNews.org, some states have true local control and some do not. Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina have local control; Utah does not.

The article explains:

MADISON, Wis. – If you live in a “local control” state in terms of public education – and chances are you do – here is some enlightening news.

Your local school board probably has the legal right to remove your school district from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts around the nation by state education officials.

It’s true in my home state of Wisconsin, and it’s been confirmed by state education officials in Ohio and North Carolina.

Legislators and (state education departments) have, in my opinion, kept this information very close to the vest. That is deceit of the ugliest kind.

I contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and asked the following question: If a school district decides to reject Common Core standards and replace them with a superior set of standards, will that school district still receive state and/or federal funds?

I received the following response from Emilie Amundsen, director of the Common Core State Standards Team at DPI:

Yes. In Wisconsin, each school board has the statutory authority to adopt the state standards or any other set of standards, inferior or superior. This is called local control. When applied to schools, local control means that decisions about standards, curriculum and instruction are made at the local level. School districts must have standards. The type, quality and scope of those standards are left to local school boards to decide. This has always been the case in Wisconsin, and this has not changed as a result of Wisconsin adopting Common Core state standards.”

The staff at EAGnews is trying to contact education officials in numerous states, to determine if their districts also have the right to opt out of Common Core.

So far only three states have responded. Officials in North Carolina and Ohio have acknowledged that districts are free to dump Common Core, but caution that students in those districts may struggle with mandatory state tests, which will be aligned with Common Core.

Officials in Utah say local districts do not have the power to drop out of Common Core…

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(I always thought Utah was the land of the free.)

Read the rest of the article here: http://eagnews.org/school-districts-in-local-control-states-like-wisconsin-can-dump-common-core-standards-without-financial-penalties/

The Federal Fist: No Formula Funding if States Reject Common Core   5 comments

First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.

So far, so bad.

Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.

Do the fact check.

The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)

And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”

See their official definition:

College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.

(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)

So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?

Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?

What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)

What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?

Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.

Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:

“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.

Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.

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Other Thoughts On Funding Schools

– I am done with my post. But I have more to say.

Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.

Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?

When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?

How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)

Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.

And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.

Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.

Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.

Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.

Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?

Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.

And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.

Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.

What Is Being Data-Mined Without Parental Consent?   14 comments

Even though the columns will be gone and it will be confusing and messy, I’m going to cut and paste a truckload of attributes from the National Data Collection model’s spreadsheet. You can click on the link to see the actual site and its spreadsheet so it’s not confusing or messy. http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentElementarySecondary

These are the hundreds and hundreds of data points– personal details that the federal government is seeking to know about children. It’s absolute abuse of the trust we’ve put in our state and its schools, as now schools are forced to act as agents for state data collection without parental consent, through the use of many resources, including the standardized tests that are aligned to common standards, known as Common Core, and the housing of data in the State Longitudinal Databases (SLDS) that the federal government paid every state to build, for the purpose of reporting the K-12 data to the federal government.

Although this vast federal program (common nationalized standards, tests, and databases) started off appearing to collect just aggregated versions of data (not personally identifiable) the “aggregated” status is rapidly changing, as many state policies change, because the “big dogs” –such as the national association of state superintendents (CCSSO)– and others, have been working to fulfill their openly stated commitments to the DISaggregation of students’ data.

So, unless the National Center for Education Statistics deletes this information from its site, we can all see this information and then insist that elected representatives make a U-turn away from this nightmare of privacy invasion, and back to reason.

Step one: know what is happening. Step two: stop the state’s use of SLDS. I wish I could say Step two was to opt your child out of the SLDS tracking, but that is not allowed, at least not in Utah.

Below are the hundreds and hundreds of data points you’ll find there; my favorites include:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– even cause of death.

How they justify tracking students even beyond academics, even beyond death, I do not know.

–Keep in mind that this is the National Data Collection Model from the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal agency. Keep in mind that it is illegal under G.E.P.A. law, and under the Constitution, to have a federal database for innocent citizen surveillance.

This illegality is why the federal government had to pay each of the 50 states to create interoperable STATE longitudinal databases, so that they’d acquire a national database parading as 50 independent ones.

Compare the information below (National Data Collection Model) to the data points being sought at other federal sites, such as the Data Quality Campaign or the Common Educational Data Statistics site.

Realize, too, that they are not just using standardized tests or first-day-of-school paperwork to track children. They hope to increase the use of school biological sensory tracking devices that are recommended on page 44/62 of the Department of Education’s recent report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance”. There are descriptions and even photos of the biological detection devices that measure attitudes, engagement, and beliefs of students. http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf

They say this out loud? They publish for all to see online the recommended use on students of:

Facial Expression Cameras
Posture Analysis Seats
Pressure Mouses
Wireless Skin Conductance Sensors

How will such detailed, personal information about individuals be used or misused long-term? If a student is labeled –or mislabeled, will he/she lose future opportunities for jobs, education, political trust, or face gun ownership restrictions– based on tests or sensory devices or notes innocently scribbled by a gradeschool teacher, sent to the district-state-national databases?

Dear readers, if you are alive and breathing, you can do something to stop this. It’s your right and your duty. Contact your legislators and your governor. Show them the facts. Most simply haven’t been exposed to the facts and documentation yet.

Stand up and let your voice be heard. Our children cannot fight this fight for themselves; we have to do it.

Know that this is not theory. It is a real agenda, an openly documented plot: the federal government is in fact persuading test builders and governors of states to give away each child’s privacy rights, by building networks and databases and by secretly reducing formerly protective laws that once required written parental consent to access student data, but now call that just an optional “best practice.”

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Early Childhood Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS)
National Household Education Survey (NHES)

Elementary/SecondaryCommon Core of Data (CCD)
Secondary Longitudinal Studies Program
School District Demographics System
Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS)
more…

International Activities Program (IAP)

Library Library Statistics Program

Postsecondary Baccalaureate and Beyond
Career/Technical Education Statistics (CTES)
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)
more…

Data Systems, Use, & PrivacyCommon Education Data Standards (CEDS)
National Forum on Education Statistics
Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program – (SLDS)
more…

ResourcesK-12 Practitioners Circle
National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC)
Statistical Standards Program
more…

Data; ToolsCustom Datasets; Tables
Search Tools
Peer Comparison Tools
Questionnaire Item Banks
States/District Profiles, Comparisons, and Mapping

Offsite Archive of NCES Data

Tables; Figures Search Tables/Figures
Popular Keyword Title Searches

For Kids

Fast Facts Assessments
Early Childhood
Elementary and Secondary
Library
Postsecondary and Beyond
Resources

School Search Search for Schools, Colleges and Libraries
College Navigator

Other Search Tools Public Schools
Public School Districts
Private Schools
Public Libraries

News; Events What’s New at NCES
Conferences/Training
NewsFlash

About NCES
Education Leadership Artifact
Information Exchange
Instruction Artifact
Operations Artifact Organization
PersonClientBeneficiary
Child
Education Completer
Learner
Library Patron
Parent/Guardian
Student Elementary Seco…
Students – Postsecondar…

Physical Characteristic

Service Provider
Person
Place
Program
Common Attributes
Entity Identifier
Locus
Organization Characteristic
Person Characteristic
Core Entities
Course
District
School
Section
State
Student
Teacher

Student Elementary Secondary (studentElementarySecondary)
Definitions

Source: Handbooks
An individual for whom instruction, services and/or care are provided in an early childhood, elementary or secondary educational program under the jurisdiction of a school, education agency, or other institution or program.

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Student Elementary Secondary

has Associated Accommodation
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Student Elementary Secondary

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Elementary Secondary Transcript

Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

Fr Free Reduced Fam App

Student Elementary Secondary

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Fr Head Start Eligibility Verification

Student Elementary Secondary

Home

Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Academic Record
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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Student Elementary Secondary

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Learner

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Student Elementary Secondary

receivesServicesFrom

Teacher

Student Elementary Secondary

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Family Income Range

Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early Intervention Services on the Child

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First Name

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Languages Other Than English

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Limitation Beginning Date

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Limited English Proficiency Status

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Marking Period

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Military Service Experience

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Name of Country

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Name of Institution

Name of Language

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Name of State of Birth

National/Ethnic Origin Subgroup

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

NCLB Title 1 School Choice Eligible

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Neglected or Delinquent Below Grade Level Status

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Non-resident Attendance Rationale

Non-school Activity Beginning Date

Non-school Activity Description

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Non-school Activity Sponsor

Non-school Activity Type

Nonpromotion Reason

Notice of Recommended Educational Placement Date

Number of Days Absent

Number of Days in Attendance

Number of Days of Membership

Number of Dependents

Number of Hours Worked per Weekend

Number of Hours Worked per Work Week

Number of Minutes per Week Included

Number of Minutes per Week Non-Inclusion

Number of Tardies

Other Name

Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Hearing

Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Speech and Language

Overall Diagnosis/Interpretation of Vision

Overall Health Status

Participant Role

Participation in School Food Service Programs

Payment Source(s)

Percentage Ranking

Personal Information Verification

Personal Title/Prefix

Placement Parental Consent Date

Planned Assessment Participation

Points/Mark Assistance

Points/Mark Value

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Post-school Recognition

Post-school Training or Education Subject Matter

Postal Code

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Primary Disability Type

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Program Eligibility Date

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Progress Toward IFSP Goals and Objectives

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Race

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Referral Cause

Referral Completion Date

Referral Completion Report

Referral Date

Referral Purpose

Related Emergency Needs

Released Time

Religious Affiliation

Religious Consideration

Residence after Exiting/Withdrawing from School

Residence Block Number

Resident

Resource Check Out Date

Resource Due Date

Resource Title Checked Out

Responsible District

Responsible District Type

Responsible School

Routine Health Care Procedure Required at School

Safety Education Status

School Choice Applied Status

School Choice Eligible Status

School Choice Transfer Status

School District Code of Residence

School Food Services Eligibility Status Beginning Date

School Food Services Eligibility Status Determination

School Food Services Eligibility Status Ending Date

School Food Services Participation Basis

School Health Emergency Action

School ID from which Transferred

Score Interpretation Information

Score Results

Screening Administration Date

Screening Instrument Description/Title

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Service Alternatives

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Service Plan Date

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Social Security Number

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Special Accommodation Requirements

Special Diet Considerations

Special Education FTE

Start Date

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State Abbreviation

State FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) Code

State of Birth Abbreviation

State Transportation Aid Qualification

State-assigned Code for Institution

State-assigned County Code

Street Number/Name

Student Program Status

Substance Abuse Description

Technology Literacy Status in 8th Grade

Telephone Number

Telephone Number Type

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Title I Instructional Services Received

Title I Status

Title I Supplemental Services: Applied

Title I Supplemental Services: Eligible

Title I Supplemental Services: Services Received

Title I Support Services: Services Received

Title III Immigrant Participant Status

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Total Cost of Education to Student

Total Distance Transported

Total Number in Class

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Transportation at Public Expense Eligibility

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Tribal or Clan Name

Tuberculosis Test Type

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Uniform Resource Identifier

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White

Work Experience Paid

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Remember– the Utah State Office of Education’s official statement still goes like this:

Nothing in Utah’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards promotes data mining of student’s personal information or other inappropriate use of student data. The Utah State Board of Education is committed to student and teacher privacy and will not share personally identifiable data.

–Please contact the state school board! I don’t think they understand what the Utah SLDS is doing, nor how weak the current policy is, against the mighty designs of the federal government, how the Common Core standards and tests play into the data mining scheme, or what the U.S. Department of Education has done to circumvent parents and Congress.

The Utah State School Board’s group email address is Board@schools.utah.gov

Does Opting Out Mean a Student is Labeled Nonproficient? Force-Feeding Students Ed Testing Reforms   6 comments

“A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.” -Proposed amendment to Utah Senate Bill 175

After I read that a Utah student who opts out of common core testing will be labeled “nonproficient” and that his or her school will be punished in accountability scores, I was stunned.

So I wrote to my state school board representative and the state superintendent for clarification. I still don’t know who wrote the amendment or whether it will be law soon. Here is the email string.

Martell or Dixie,

Please explain why USOE documents now say that students who opt out of common core testing will be given a nonproficient score and their school will suffer “accountability” punishments. I have not and will not allow my high school student to take state standardized tests. She takes a pencil and paper alternative so that her school teacher (not the entire state) knows how she’s doing. Up till now this has never affected her straight A record. It has not harmed her schools’ scores.

Am I to understand that new policies will damage her record and her school’s record?

Thanks for taking the time to explain.

Christel Swasey
———————————————

Christel,

Unfortunately the State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education do not write the legislation that requires our schools, districts and state to provide data on school performance for our students, their teachers, their schools, districts or the state. We are required under several legislative mandates to provide data on student performance in relationship to our schools, teachers and our state. Thus if we have parents and students that refuse to provide such data via the assessment systems provided to evaluate student success, we cannot provide the necessary data to the state or national legislative mandates that require such data. It is not that we wish to punish anyone for “accountability”, but as a state organization, we must live by the rules as well as those we serve.

Christel, I would highly encourage you to read a book I just rediscovered from Gerald W. Bracey called “On the Death of Childhood and the Destruction of Public Schools”. It was written in 2003 based on the fallacy of “No Child Left Behind” calling the Act “The Plan for the Destruction of Public Education: Just Say No”. To me it speaks volumes of how far we have come in regard to this act and how long it has taken parents to recognize the expectations it brought to our school system.

Needless to say, as a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, I believe our State Office of Education and our State Board are doing the best they can to limit the intrusion, while abiding by the legislation that we must enforce. I hope you will take the time to look deeper into this issue and others you rail against.

Dixie
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Dixie,

I do aim to fully study the history of education reform once I don’t feel so threatened by the suffocating power of Common Core.

But thanks, and I will take the book recommendation for later. Right now, I have no time.

Because of this school board’s decision to implement Common Core –without ever sending out a memo to teachers, letting us know that our kids and our teaching careers were going to be forever strangled by the transformations of Common Core-- because of that decision, I have to homeschool my kids and give speeches and write articles to try to knock sense into those who do not study these things– none of which I did before, none of which I want to do, none of which I get paid to do.

My time, my life, has been redefined by this school board’s terrible, terrible decision.

This is why I “rail” against the decision. I “rail” for liberty. I rail for legitimate education that puts kids, not fat bank accounts of educational sales companies, first.

I’m sorry that it bothers you. I am doing what I feel compelled to do. I am trying to save something precious.

Christel
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Martell, do you agree with Dixie on this? Was it the legislature, and not the USOE or USSB who created the language that says that a student who opts out of the common core test will be labeled “nonproficient”? Do you agree with, or disagree with, this language? If you disagree will you join me in writing a letter to our legislature to amend the language so that no student nor school will be punished for excercising their free agency?

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Then I wrote to a few legislators who are concerned with education:

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Dear Legislators,

Please direct me to those who are writing proposed amendments to SB 175. I would like to meet with them to discuss deleting the proposed changes.

The amendments effectively stop a parent’s or student’s ability to opt out of the secretive, nontransparent Common Core tests and the related mandatory behavioral indicators assessments (See HB 15 line 59) and the related SLDS federal surveillance* program.

In SB 175′s new wording,

1. Schools will be punished if students opt out of the Common Core tests.

2. Students will be punished if they opt out of the Common Core tests, not just with a crashing G.P.A. due to the mandated “non-proficient” score to be received for opting out (which is, of course, inaccurate and dishonest labeling for an opt-out) but also because Common Core tests will count on a student’s academic grade and will help determine whether he/she advances to the next grade.

3. Parents will be punished because any good university will decline allowing a student to enter who has a suddenly-crashed G.P.A., due to having opted out of the Common Core test.

“A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.”

Years of straight A’s and hard work will be marginalized whenever the parental right is exercised, to opt out of Common Core testing, a punishment for following the dictates of conscience.

Utah education reforms such as this one are out of control. Please stop this freedom-suffocating trend.

Christel Swasey
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I will publish their responses when I get them.

Even Salt Lake Police Will Root for Anti-Common Core Demonstration Friday at USOE: Teachers and Parents Against Common Core   2 comments

When Carie Valentine, a mother against Common Core, secured the proper permit yesterday to have a peaceful demonstration against Common Core this coming Friday, she also called the Salt Lake Police to let them know about the event.

The officer on the other end of the line told her that he was thrilled that Utahns are not backing down and asked her to continue the fight, saying that he spoke for many in his office.

Wow.

So, this Friday, outside the State School Board’s monthly, all-day meeting, Utah teachers, parents and citizens will demonstrate against Common Core. The peaceful demonstration has been organized for many reasons.

1. Normally, the public may only speak at USSB meetings if a request is made ahead of time, and only two minutes are given per person, with a firm limit on numbers allowed to speak.

2. There is a long history with most of the members of this board, that demonstrates a refusal do adequate research about the experiment called Common Core or to acknowledge that there are terrible, sobering academic flaws, and even unconstitutional flaws, in the new agenda. The board tends to use talking points rather than evidence or references, such as pilot studies, references to laws, or empirical data, to make their parroted claims that the Common Core system is legitimate. Many citizens feel that this atmosphere of no debate is an anti-intellectual, un-American stance.

3. There are numerous, serious concerns about the 518-page agenda to be addressed in the meeting, (including a tax-funded propaganda campaign to push common core acceptance on schools, media and parents).

4. The board did not provide a thorough public and media vetting of the transformative changes to our children’s educational experience prior to implementation; and Common Core cannot be amended without Utah asking permission from unelected D.C. groups who copyrighted the standards Utah uses. Local control has thus been opted away by the board.

5. There appears to be no escape now for parents who object to Common Core’s tests (for many reasons, including behavioral assessments mandated by HB 15). Why? SB 175 mandates that any child who opts out of Common Core testing will be labeled “non-proficient” and the child’s teacher is forced by the state to give the child a bad grade and the school will be punished. It reads: “A teacher shall consider students’ summative adaptive assessments in determining students’ academic grades for the appropriate courses and students’ advancement to the next grade level… Students not tested due to parent request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be used in school accountability calculations.” Opting out of tests, standards or attendance quotas should be a parental decision, God-given. As long as we are a free country, the state should take a back seat to parental conscience. But most of the education reforms happening in Utah display a disregard for parental (or teachers’) conscience and agency.

Many who would stand up and protest can not do so; they have to be at jobs at 8:30 on a Friday morning; or they are children, who don’t have a voice to articulate their displeasure with the Common Core situtation; or they are principals, staff and teachers whose jobs depend on them appearing to agree with Common Core’s implementation in Utah.

Keeping that in mind, if you can make it, please come. Know that you likely represent thousands who cannot join us Friday.

———————————————-
Where:

Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114

When: beginning 8:30 a.m. this Friday, August 2.

Who: All are welcome.
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From Carie Valentine, event organizer:

“…[W]hen I found out about Common Core I was upset and even angry that our state would make such radical and damaging changes to our education system. Since that time, many good parents just like you have worked tirelessly to get the word out about Common Core. Parents are not being educated by our own state school board and so we have had to educate ourselves.

The rally at the capitol was amazing. The [many hundreds of] people that showed up to voice their opposition was inspiring. I would like to continue that momentum and demonstrate in front of the state education offices. Their last meeting before the traditional school schedule begins is this Friday, Aug 2. Please join me to send them a message that we are in this for the long haul.

I have secured the proper permit for a demonstration this Friday at the State School Board Offices in Salt Lake City. This is considered a spontaneous demonstration.

…I have also called the SLC police dept. and they know we are coming and the officer I spoke with was thrilled we aren’t backing down. He asked us to continue the fight and said he spoke for many in his office.

If you have access to a bigger bank of people, please pass the word along. These are our children, our tax dollars, and our schools. You have my permission to give out my email address to others who want to come. Please try and make time. We are all busy but this is important.

This is a chance to let them know we are not going away. If you are coming, plan on attending the public comment period from 8-8:30 and the picketing will be from 8:30am-9:30am. Please make your own sign and if you have an button wear that. Here are the “rules”.
We can’t block the sidewalk or the entrance to the building. We can’t (shouldn’t) swear or yell through bull horns. We can hold signs and chant something clever about “no common core”. We can’t prevent movement of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Please email me your confirmation so I can have an idea of how many of us there will be.

If you would like to speak to the board directly the public comment period will be from 8-8:30.

You must sign up in advance. I tried attending and signing up at the meeting and they took the sign up away before I could put my name on it.

To sign up to speak at the board meeting in advance, contact Board Secretary Lorraine Austin at (801) 538-7517.

To picket outside, there is no need to sign up in advance, but if you want to give us a head count, email Carie Valentine at carie.valentine.2@q.com

Utah Teen Takes a Stand Against Common Core at State Capitol   1 comment

Kenny Bradley, a Utah teenager, gave the following speech at the State Capitol last week, which was heard by a crowd of 500-600 people that included dozens of legislators, and teachers, parents and school board members. Bradley, a recent high school graduate, Valedictorian, Math Sterling Scholar Winner in the Southwestern Utah Region, and former math teacher’s aide, aiding in Common Core math classes, has given permission to share this speech.

______________________________________________________________

I would like to start my speech with Aesop’s Fable of The Flies and the Honey-Pot.

“A number of flies were attracted to a jar of honey which had been overturned in a housekeeper’s room, and placing their feet in it, ate greedily. Their feet, however, became so smeared with the honey that they could not use their wings, nor release themselves, and were suffocated. Just as they were expiring, they exclaimed, ’O foolish creatures that we are, for the sake of a little pleasure we have destroyed ourselves.’”

I oppose Common Core because it is like the honey that trapped and suffocated the flies, because although it appears to be wonderful, it is dangerous. It is untested, unalterable by the people and teachers in local communities, and we cannot realistically “opt out” after it is fully implemented.

First, as a recent high school graduate, Valedictorian, Math Sterling Scholar Winner in the Southwestern Utah Region, and a former math teacher’s aide, I experienced firsthand the common core math standards being implemented at my high school. I saw students struggle with the common core curriculum in the math class where I was a teacher’s aide. Not because it was advanced or difficult, but because of the rapid pace at which new concepts were introduced and the lack of necessary explanations. Many lessons jumped from one concept to another and often combined them after five problems or so, before they have fully learned or even understood the original concepts. Most importantly, they never learned “why” these concepts function, work together, or even exist. They simply learned “what” they are called and, if they are lucky, they learned “how” to do them.

Despite these issues with the math section of common core, our school is being forced to adopt Common Core fully this next school year –if something is not done by the legislature soon.

Second, Common Core is taking our children’s education away from us locally and placing them into the hands of an ever expanding government. Almost every case of this in history has led to a tyrannical government fueled by the rising generation that has been indoctrinated with specific political and social views, such as the example of youth being taught to believe in anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.

Thankfully, our Founding Fathers included the Tenth Amendment in our Constitution to protect States’ rights protecting our children’s education from any federal program. The General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) also explicitly protects the education system from federal control. We must enforce these protections.

Third, once Common Core is fully implemented in the next school year, with so much invested money and training, we will not be able to easily “opt out.” This is especially alarming because State
Education Boards signed into Common Core before the standards were ever written!!! Common Core’s federal control does not stop with public schools. Students in charter and private schools, as well as homeschoolers, will also eventually have no choice but to learn what the federal government wants to teach them. Why? Because of the National Standards that will naturally follow Common Core in the States that it is implemented in. The ACT and SAT, necessary tests for college placement, will be aligned to Common Core standards, which may prevent homeschooled children from attending college if they do not study Common Core material.

Therefore, I oppose Common Core because it is untested, unalterable except by getting permission from outside Utah, and we are unable to “opt out.” May our children and our education system not become stuck and suffocate in Common Core like the flies trapped in honey from Aesop’s fable.

Thank you.

————————————————————————————————

You can imagine that, despite the no-applause-please request of the meeting’s moderator, there was thunderous applause following this speech. Thank you, Kenny Bradley.

Common Core Watch   1 comment

In Utah, lawmakers and the Utah State School Board are hotly debating solutions to the problems created by the adoption of Common Core.

I wanted to share this one, to the Utah School Board from Pleasant Grove’s Representative Brian Greene.

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On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 5:30 PM, Brian Greene wrote:

The 15% rule is a “red herring” and entirely inconsequential. The fact that K-12 assessments used by 90% of the states will be aligned to the CC standards, and the SAT & ACT will be aligned to the CC standards, will preclude any deviation from the standards by states that have adopted CC. For any state to deviate even 5% will put their public education system at a comparative disadvantage relative to other states, and will compromise their students’ chances of gaining acceptance to the most competitive universities and colleges.

All the federal Dept. of Education needs to do now is to triumphantly watch and wait as states blindly consolidate their independence and sovereignty into a tidy package that can be swiftly raided. In light of the recent attempts by the federal government to inject itself into this “state-led” process, and the proclamations of success by President Obama and Arne Duncan for encouraging adoption of CC by 46 states, it is naïve to think that the federal government will take a hands-off approach once CC is fully implemented in 90% of the states.

Even if you believe that CC is the best ever advancement in education, it should be rejected on the basis that states are being complicit in creating a structure that significantly increases the risk of and opportunities for a complete federal takeover of all education.

Utah can have assessments that allow its students to be compared with students from other states, or Utah can have its independence—but we are foolish to believe we can have both.

Brian Greene

Utah House of Representatives

Utah County – District 57

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Representative Green hit the nail on the head.

What’s happening outside Utah? Here are some highlights, which Heartland Institute collected this week: (See full article here: http://news.heartland.org/education )

Common Core Watch

• TEST COSTS: One of two Common Core testing groups announces a price hike for the national tests. Georgia immediately withdraws from plans to administer the tests. The price hike puts the national tests above what several states currently pay for state-controlled tests.

• HIGHER TAXES: The FCC commissioners release more details on their proposed Common Core tax through the federal program known as E-Rate. The big news: Instead of calling for an end to the troubled K-12 tech subsidy, this is the first time a Republican commissioner instead suggests ways to revamp and expand it. A few weeks earlier, the federal agency discussed increasing phone taxes by $5 per line per year to subsidize the tech buildup necessary for Common Core tests.

• CLOSED LIPS: A Kansas board of education member wants to know why the people who worked on national science standards had to sign confidentiality agreements. Shouldn’t public affairs be conducted in public? he asks. That same question hangs, unanswered, over the English and math Common Core standards.

• FLORIDA: The state’s top legislators tell Superintendent Tony Bennett to drop national Common Core tests. The federally funded national testing group is still low on details lawmakers want, just one year out from their tests hitting school computers.

• OHIO: A lawmaker plans to introduce a bill to reconsider Common Core. Gov. Kasich indicates he’ll veto it.

To read the rest from Heartland Institute, click here.

Compulsory Education’s Unforeseen Consequences: Nebraska Case Studies   5 comments

Lately, there’s been quite a buzz about ending compulsory education. Utah Senator Aaron Osmond propelled the idea when he wrote a piece on this subject at the Utah Senate blog. Osmond pointed out that it is a “parental right to decide if and when a child will go to public school,” adding that “in a country founded on the principles of personal freedom and unalienable rights, no parent should be forced by the government to send their child to school under threat of fines and jail time.”

Public education started out as an opportunity, but over the years, turned into a governmentally enforced mandate. The mandate flies in the face of other laws, such at Utah’s FERPA, which asserts that it is the parent, and not the government, who is the primary authority over a child.

That’s just common sense to most of us; in fact, most parents are utterly unaware that there is a battle going on between government “collectivists” and parents. The idea that parents hold authority over a child is not acceptable to an alarmingly pushy segment of society, who say government should take ownership of children.

This is, of course, communism.

But it’s becoming acceptable to many. Watch the video put out by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, of the Lean Forward campaign. She asserts that “we have to break out of the notion that children belong to parents.”

It is time to wake up and protect parental authority. With that introduction, I’m presenting this guest post by Autumn Cook. Thank you, Autumn.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

COMPULSORY EDUCATION: THE GREAT CONTROL GRAB

Guest Post by Autumn Cook

12-year-old Lucas Maynard and his parents found themselves in truancy court last week. Lucas’ offense? He got sick too much this year. The punishment? They’re still waiting to find out, but the judge has informed him that removal from his parents’ custody is a possibility.

All around the country, there is a quiet assault on families taking place. In the name of “helping children,” state laws and school district attendance policies are being altered to draw thousands of innocent children into the juvenile justice system and wave the heavy threat of state force and social services intervention over the heads of ordinary good parents.

Innocent children whose crimes amount to being frequently ill, or struggling with mental health issues such as autism, or being the victim of bullying, are being hauled into court, coerced into lengthy “diversion programs,” threatened with removal from the custody of their parents, actually removed from the custody of their parents, and in other ways terrified and treated like criminals. Their families are being put through the wringer with unpaid time from work for court dates, costs for attorney fees, and fear of state intervention in their families.

Untold numbers of other families are being frightened into doing everything possible to avoid entanglement in this system, including sending their kids to school sick and cancelling family travel. It is happening in states all over the country – I personally know of cases in Indiana, Texas, and Wyoming, with particular knowledge of what is happening in Nebraska because of personal involvement.

Here’s how it’s been playing out in Nebraska. In 2010, motivated by an attempt to get points on its Race to the Top application, the Nebraska legislature passed a law at the request of the Governor which effectively took away the right of a parent to excuse her child from school. The new law required schools to report kids to law enforcement if they had more than 20 days of absence – for any reason at all. Nebraska could get more points on its application by having a plan in place to increase attendance. All states were able to earn more points for implementing more oppressive attendance laws.

At the same time, school districts started tightening up their attendance policies, disallowing excuses for family travel or time home with seriously ill family or military parents on leave from deployment. Before the change, Nebraska applied the reasonable and widely-used standard of reporting kids with unexcused absences – those whose parents hadn’t accounted for their whereabouts.

Where once state law, school district policies, and public officials worked to reduce truancy – kids missing school without their parents’ permission (a.k.a. “skipping”) – the focus is shifting to reducing absences of any kind. The shift is leaving untold collateral damage in its wake, including the relationships between school administrators and the parents they serve. And it’s shifting our culture to embrace the “state knows best” mindset, minimizing the authority of parents and giving far too much power to state officials to decide what’s “best” for individual children. It’s also generating a lot of business for the social service industry.

Last week, the story of the Maynards – referred to above – became the latest in a long list of such abuses out of Nebraska. Their story highlights much of what’s wrong with the “brave new approach” to school attendance that’s sweeping the nation. Lucas experienced a lot of illness – plus two days of impassable winter roads in rural Nebraska – during the past school year. This innocent offense landed him in court, forced to sit away from his parents between the prosecutor and the guardian ad litem assigned to him, listening in terror as the judge informed him that one of the consequences of his absences from school could be removal from his parents’ custody. (Children are assigned a guardian ad litem in cases of alleged abuse or neglect. So the state of Nebraska has implied that the Maynards committed abuse or neglect by keeping their son home when he was ill and when the roads were too dangerous to travel!)

The Maynards’ entire story can be read at the Nebraska Family Forum blog. Unfortunately, it’s only one of hundreds if not thousands of such cases, and that’s just in Nebraska. The toll around the country is much higher, with many cases even more egregious, such as this one involving a 9-year-old in Wyoming.
If you see attendance policies and laws like this, don’t wait a day to contact your local school boards and state legislators. They need to hear the message that laws and policies must protect the fundamental right that parents have to make decisions for their children. For those who are lucky enough to live in states and districts where this approach hasn’t been implemented yet, watch your legislature and local board meetings like a hawk! Proponents of this approach to school attendance are pushing the “state knows what’s best for each child” approach all over the country, including here in Utah this last session.

It’s another piece – an especially frightening piece – of the education reform puzzle that is shaping up all over the country.

More stories from Nebraska

The Chambers Family
A quiet middle-schooler with severe allergies is sent to the county attorney, forced to submit to a drug test without her parents’ knowledge, made to feel like a criminal, and ends up attending school when sick, staying in a quiet room where she naps and eats lunch – just so they can count her present.

The Herrera Family
A mother decides to homeschool her 3rd-grade daughter for the last few weeks of the school year after school officials fail to deal with her bullies and she gets beaten with a stick on the way home from school. Because she doesn’t waited to receive official notice of approval from the state – her daughter was in imminent physical danger – when she comes back the next year she is reported to law enforcement, made a ward of the state, and her mother is placed on the child abuse and neglect list.

The Garrity Family
The story of a 15-year-old boy with autism shows how families who already struggle with unique challenges are abused and put through further suffering by the state of Nebraska and its school districts.

The Hall Family
A well-liked honor roll student with seasonal asthma is forced into a “diversion program.” Diversion from what? Asthma? The solution the following year is that when she is too sick to go to school, her parents must bring her to school so the school nurse can verify the parents’ judgment.

Calling All Utahns Today: Historic Day at the Capitol   2 comments

Today is a historic day in Utah.

Dozens of Utah senators and representatives have RSVP’d to come tonight, to hear hundreds of teachers, parents, local school board members and even students speak out against Common Core.

Each person may speak for up to three minutes. We are asking legislators to defund and halt Common Core testing, teacher retrainings, educational product purchasing, and other forms of implementation, just as Michigan, Indiana, Pennyslvania and other states are doing (pending a serious public vetting of this foundationless whole-system transformation.)

Individuals are the reason.

Children and teachers deserve non-experimental, piloted education standards, tests and curriculum; they deserve the freedom to opt out of the SLDS data tracking system which amounts to surveillance of all they do throughout their school careers; they deserve not to be over-tested like lab rats nor to be viewed as human capital, pipelined into the workforce according to the needs of the government, rather than planning according to their own desires, personal dreams and faith.

They deserve a system that is representative, as America is supposed to be. The Common Core system is simply education without representation; Utah can only alter “her own” standards by getting permission from the D.C. groups that copyrighted it and can’t add more than 15% according to federal dictates; also, Utah’s Common Core A.I.R. standardized tests are aligned to the shared standards that Utah has no voice in amending; and the curriculum aligned with Common Core is monopolizing the educational sales market, drowning alternative voices and ending the publishing of future school texts containing innovative, individual lines of thought.

The only way to hold on to the reins of local control is to take a stand: we, the people. Not paid lobbyists. Not obligated politicians. Moms. Dads. Students. Teachers. Grandparents. Please come tonight. If you are shy, just come to watch. Show up. Show that it matters.

5:30 at the State Capitol, Hall of Governors. See you there.

Utah Ed Standards Were Modified by Permission from an Unelected D.C. Group   3 comments

http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/mathelem/Core-Curriculum/Utah-Core-Standards-in-Mathematics-Approved-Versio.aspx

If you click on the link above, you will come to the Common Core standards for Utah.

I believe that the Utah State Office of Education is deliberately misleading us in this document, which calls itself Utah Core State Standards, not Common Core Standards.

The document presents itself as if it were a Utah-specific set of standards. But it’s Common Core.

How do we know?

If you go to page four, you will see that these standards were modified after Utah asked for permission to do so, from the Council of Chief State School Officers (a group not accountable to taxpayers nor unelectable by the voting public).

Page four says:

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School
Officers. All rights reserved. Modified and printed with permission from CCSSO, May, 2012.

Response to UT School Board Member Dave Thomas on Common Core   1 comment

http://utahpubliceducation.org/2013/07/10/sit-in-my-seat/#comment-97870

When I saw that a Utah State School Board member had taken the time to (sort of) answer my questions about Common Core, I was grateful. When I realized that he had not read previous rebuttals on these same topics, I was discouraged. I don’t think they are studying what we have been asking them to study.

Here’s today’s letter. Here’s the link that it was based on. Here’s the list of questions that his letter was based on.

——-

Dear Mr. Dave Thomas,

I appreciate you taking the time to answer previously unanswered questions about the Common Core agenda.

Unfortunately, the questions were incompletely and not directly answered.

I hope to someday meet in person, to have an open discussion using source documents; until that meeting is offered, I will try writing point by point.

No evidence to support the experiment

You answered question #1 by giving Fordham’s opinion of Common Core. That’s not empirical data nor is it evidence of field testing. No research has ever been done to prove that Common Core will help our students. It’s theoretical and experimental.

We need to see a long-term pilot study of students trying out Common Core to know that it works better. There is no research to support Common Core’s claims –because it is an experiment.

Reduction of literature

You answered question #2 by saying that ELA does not reduce literature. This is untrue. It is common knowledge that informational text is to be the main type of reading for students in Common Core English classes. Common Core testing companies, curriculum writing companies, and teachers all know it. You can see it in the standards themselves. It is unrealistic to think that math and science teachers will be teaching literature; the split is going to harm the amount of literature kids read in English classes. Saying otherwise does not reconcile with the textbooks coming out right now, that are Common Core aligned. While some people believe it’s better to focus on informational texts (I do not) the point is, where were the dissenting voices? Where was the debate? How did this huge transformation toward informational text happen without obvious, noisy vetting?

Math Problems

If integrated math was universally seen as superior, and was beyond debate, then why is there so much arguing going on about whether its viable as a math system among top educators? Why didn’t the Utahns get to debate whether we’d use integrated math, of which not everyone shares your high opinion?

It is common knowledge that Algebra II is taught at the eighth grade level in top performing Asian countries. James Milgram who was the mathematician who rejected Common Core when he served on its validation committee, said:

“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“

You mention Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu. But for every Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu who approves of this type of math, there’s a Yong Zhao and a Ze’ev Wurman and a James Milgram, arguing just the opposite.

The point: The majority of Utahns never got to argue out this vitally important transformation of what we are to teach our kids.

Amendability

On the issue of amendability, you slid right past discussion of the 15% cap that the federal government placed on the standards after they were copyrighted by the CCSSO/NGA. Utah can only amend these standards by 15% and that 15% will not be on the common core nationally-aligned tests. We only amended cursive by asking for permission from the CCSSO/NGA. It says so, right on the USOE website: “By Permission.” Where’s the autonomy in that?

Data Collection

On the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests’ data collection issue, you correctly say that the federal government is requiring aggregated student data to be given. However, you do not admit that Utah is collecting increasing amounts of student information, both academic and nonacademic, using schools as data collectors for the SLDS, and that AIR will collect even more when it administers the Common Core aligned tests.

AIR is partnered with SBAC, which you failed to mention. And SBAC is under obligation to share its collected student data with the federal government. What evidence is there that AIR and SBAC don’t share collected data? The National Education Data Model and the Common Educational Data Standards and the Data Quality Campaign– all federal groups– ask for personally identifiable information down to voting status and bus stop times.

You are correct that this is not part of the standards, but it is part of the overall Common Core agenda and it is part of the President’s vision for education, and it confirms what eScholar CEO said at the White House Datapalooza event –that “Common Core is the glue” without which the masses of student data could not be so easily shared.

Testing

You say that “Utah is not part of any of the Common Core testing consortiums,” but the test that we have opted to use (AIR) is partnered with one of the Common Core testing consortiums (SBAC) and it is totally Common Core-aligned. I see no benefit to choosing AIR over SBAC. Do you? In fact, in light of the “behavioral indicators” that HB15 (line 59) mandates that the CAT tests will be collecting, and in light of the fact that AIR is a behavioral testing institution, with a mission to apply behavioral research, I think we are in over our heads as far as attempting to hold any type of student psychological data privacy inviolable –while remaining with AIR.

Constitutionality

It is not true that “No one from outside our state is setting standards, creating tests or monitoring them as part of Common Core.” Private interest groups in D.C. have written the standards we now call “Utah Core,” for math and English. It is unrepresentative to allow our state school board to cede control of standards, testing, or to give access to school-collected data to groups outside Utah.

Pushback on Federal Overreach

I would like thank you and anyone on the state school board who has been “fighting federal intrusion into public education,” but I personally haven’t seen any evidence of it. I see the exact opposite happening; whatever comes from D.C., our state school board seems to applaud and obey as if there were no G.E.P.A. law, as if there were no constitutional prohibition for federal “accountability” from states in educational matters.

It is nice that the NASBE told the USDE to stay out of Common Core; but the USDE clearly laughed at that message. In fact, according to the U.S. Secretary of Education, “in March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.” Secretary Duncan seems to think it was President Obama’s idea to have Common Core. It never was “state-led” in any way.

Spiral of Silence

If you would like to see evidence of a culture of silence, simply ask teachers to fill out an anonymous survey as we have done. Teachers won’t speak out –unless, like me, or Susan Wilcox, or Margaret Wilkin, or David Cox, or Renee Braddy– they are Utah teachers who have retired, semi-retired, or are soon to retire.

Teachers value their jobs and therefore, fear speaking out.

Not State-Led

While you assert that Common Core was state-led and that it “was the brainchild of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,” according to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Common Core was originally President Obama’s brainchild. He says, “in March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.”

Utahns do not elect our governor to represent us on a federal stage; for that, we have representatives and congressmen. Were they asked to analyze Common Core before our state adopted the agenda? Not even close.
Cost

Do you believe that not having done a state cost analysis of Common Core implementation was wise?

Do you believe that the total transformation of all Utah schools to a different set of standards, tests, teacher trainings, and textbooks, will not require any additional funding? I don’t. I also cannot believe the claim that “there was no more impact to textbooks than there normally is,” when teachers are telling me that they have put excellent, even newly purchased, textbooks into permanent storage, because all new Common Core aligned materials must be bought. If indeed this is somehow true, that there was no increase to schools because of Common Core, let’s see the line-item proof to be transparent with taxpayers.

Imposition of Federal Standards

You implied that those of us who want to return to educational liberty want to “impose the federal NAEP standards on Utah,” but this is false. We want to control education locally.

Christel Swasey

Utah Credentialed Teacher

Heber City

UTAHNS AGAINST COMMON CORE AT THE CAPITOL JULY 17   Leave a comment

You are invited to a public and legislators’ meeting to express concerns about Common Core.

The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., in the Hall of Governors, on the first floor of the Utah State Capitol.

Each person attending will be given 3 minutes (max) to testify before the legislators in attendance. Answer this question: why do you oppose Common Core?

Please bring your spouse, friends, and neighbors. They can come to listen or they many choose to testify.

The day before, Tuesday, July 16th, the Utah State School Board is having their own meeting with legislators to tell them why they believe Common Core is the answer for Utah students.

It is important for the legislators to hear that there are thousands of us who disagree with these Board members –and why.

————–

Here’s a list of questions that the board has remained silent on, which you may want to ask out loud:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Common Core math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will the board continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?

Hope to see you there on July 17.

If possible, please RSVP if you can attend by clicking the Utahns Against Common Core survey link and confirm how many will attend from your group (even if it’s just you). We need an idea of how many chairs to ask them to set up. But feel free to come and stand in the back if you decide to come at the last minute. http://survey.oaknorton.com/index.php/survey/index

You’re Invited: Saratoga Springs Tomorrow: Informational Meeting about Common Core   Leave a comment

You are invited to an informational meeting about Common Core.

When and Where:

June 20th from 7-9 pm at Talon’s Cove Golf Course: 2220 S. Talons Cove Drive, Saratoga Springs, Utah

Who:

Speakers include: Dr. Gary Thompson (Child psychologist), mothers/teachers who have thoroughly researched Common Core, and local school board members. State school board members have been strongly encouraged to attend by Superintendent Menlove.

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, teacher or just a concerned citizen of Utah… whether your children attend the public/charter school system, private schools, or even home school, you should be informed about Common Core, a program that nationalizes education, testing and student data collection, and which will affect us all.

*There will be a questions/answers session during the last 30 minutes, between 8:30-9:00.

EVERYONE is invited to attend, so bring a friend or neighbor. Thank you for making time for such an important issue.

If you cannot attend, please study the source documents of Common Core on your own so that you will be informed about your child’s altered education system.
Source Documents to Study: (all searchable online)

The Race to the Top Grant Application – Utah got points for having a kid-tracking SLDS database system. Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable Common Core standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange.

The lawsuit against the Department of Education – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He seems to believe Common Core was Obama’s idea from the start.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s goal is total control of everything– teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for us all.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance – behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. It’s all about analyzing and influencing student attitudes.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards.

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.

Deseret News Op-Ed: We’re Not Misinformed; We Know What Common Core Is And We Reject It.   4 comments

Hooray, Hooray! Today, the Deseret News published my op-ed. Here’s the link and the text:

Utah state delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?
——————–

Truth in American Education also published the article. This one’s actually a later draft, and is a bit better, with links to references. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/were-not-misinformed-we-know-what-common-core-is-and-we-reject-it/

Not Misinformed: We Know What It Is And We Reject It   3 comments

If we remain bound to the Common Core stranglehold, it will be because a low-information citizenry passively buys the unsubstantiated claims of the proponents of Common Core without doing their own homework on this crucial subject.

Our state school board refuses to let go of its praise-common-core talking points. And it continues to call those of us who care about local control and high, legitimate education standards, “misinformed” even though they won’t return emails letting us know what specifically we seem to be so misinformed about.

Today I read this blog post by Tami Pyfer of the USSB on Utah Policy. http://utahpolicy.com/view/full_story/22848521/article-We-Do-Deserve-Better?instance=newsletter_featured_articles_policy

Here’s what I think as I read her post:

Yes, we deserve better.

We deserve fact-checked information from our state school board. State school board members are in a position of trust and should be held to higher standards. Misinformation being spouted by elected board members is cause for concern.

The Common Core agenda has been presented as being so rigorous, so consensually adopted (which is was not) and so academically legitimate that it is beyond debate. The fact is that the Common Core is a liability, rather than an asset, both in terms of liberty and local control, and in terms of academic strength.

It concerns me, bothers me, and keeps me up at night, that as a credentialed Utah teacher, I am not allowed to meet with my own state school board members, face to face, to get real answers to my concerns about Common Core. I have gone out of my way to try to communicate, to find out what exactly is “erroneous” (their words) about my concerns, but my emails are not being responded to.

There are simple questions.

“Where is the evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?”
“Where are the long term studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?”
“Where is the amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards under the copyrighted Common Core?”
“How can I opt out of the SLDS tracking system?”
“Where is the legal –constitutional– authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?”
“Why is Utah allowing Obama to redesign our schools without putting up a fight?”
“Why is there a culture in education today that demands everyone agree or pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in all of the Common Core agenda, when teachers and principals fear to dissent or lose their jobs?”
“Where is the evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms, improves college readiness?”
“Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher trainings and texts?

– There are many, many more questions that need answers. Yes, State School Board, we do deserve better. When will you condescend to actually speak with those who elected you to serve us?

When will you listen? Did you not notice that the Utah State Delegates disapprove Common Core? They voted and they passed the anti-common core resolution. Utah doesn’t want Common Core. Why is the board still defending it?

We are not misinformed. We know what it is we reject it.

When will your board stand up to the federal Dept. of Ed. and its tsunami of assault on liberties, rather than fighting us, the locals who desire nothing more than liberty and high quality education?

Dr. Gary Thompson on Common Core A.I.R. Testing   5 comments

Dr. Gary Thompson is an African American Doctor of Clinical Psychology from Utah.

He doesn’t mess around.

He recently posted the following letter, which he wrote in response to the Common Core testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR).  The letter has to be shared. If you don’t have time to read it all, here’s the toothpaste-cap-sized serving of what he’s saying:

1. A.I.R., the testing company to which Utah has written out a check for $39 million to write Common Core tests, will not answer specific, professional, focused questions and lacks the professional qualifications to do what it has set out to do.

2. Dr. Thompson says that “The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.”

3. Dr. Thompson calls for the resignation of John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education.

—————————————————-

Here is the intro.

Public Response Letter to Mr. Jon Cohen – American Institutes for Research

*Note: In light of Dr. Thompson’s recent appointment to the Board of Trustees at the Utah Law & Disability Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, it must be noted for the record that his opinions are independent, and do not represent the official positions of any one Board member or employee of the Center or their affiliates.

Introduction:

In early March of 2013, we as concerned parents of children in public schools in Utah, wrote a detailed letter upon the request of Utah State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove regarding our serious trepidations about privacy and testing issues surrounding the implementation of “Common Core.” In it, we expressed strongly that our children would be pulled from Utah public schools unless these concerns were addressed, or in the alternative, at least acknowledge that they were “a work in progress”.

After I accepted a national television appearance, Dr. Menlove was kind enough to invite  both Mr. Flint and I into his office where the conversation started out with him sincerely asking, “What can we do to ensure that your daughter Zoey will be enrolled in a Utah public school Kindergarten?”

We described our concerns verbally, but we were asked to write down our apprehensions, as well as appropriate suggestions for changes for the Utah State Office of Education to consider implementing prior to Common Core arriving at full speed in the State of Utah.

We both spent an entire weekend drafting our 12-page letter to the Superintendent and presented an email copy to him, as well as to the entire Utah State Board of Education. Dr. Menlove was kind enough to call my home three weeks later to let me know that our concerns “were heard”, our clinic was a “wonderful asset” to the community, and he appreciated all of the hard work that we do for the children in the State of Utah.

Apparently he forwarded the letter to AIR, and AIR responded to Dr. Menlove specifically about our concerns. The original AIR letter link in response to our concerns is cited below:

http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/AIR-Letter-to-Superintendent.aspx.  The following is our joint response to the letter:

————————————————————————————–

Here is the whole letter.

—————————————————————————————

Dear Mr. Cohen:

The Utah State Office of Education was kind enough to post your rejoinder to our inquiries into possible professional practices regarding AIR on their state webpage. Both Attorney Edward D. Flint and I have reviewed your letter. We would both like to thank you in advancefor the kind tenor of your response. In our state, apparently a titanic issue with parents is whenever many of them have questioned the accuracy or efficacy of issues surrounding Common Core, they are publically branded as “right wing, conspiracy theorists wearing tin foil hats.”

We both wish to thank you for your professional tone by not dragging political or religious ideology into an issue that is purely about science, law, parental choice, and common sense. Clearly, neither Mr. Flint nor myself have ever been accused of, or confused with being “right wing nut bags.”

The vast majority of your response letter dealt with Mr. Flint’s privacy concerns. I will cut and paste Mr. Flint’s direct response in the latter parts of this letter under the section titled “Privacy Issues”.

As for the issues regarding disability and learning disorders, you devoted a grand total of exactly 74 words (compared to my to my 8 pages of written concerns) regarding issues associated with Adaptive Testing and Common Core. Here is the exact quote from your letter regarding disability issues and the Common Core:

“On a final note, Dr. Thompson expresses concern about the tests appropriately serving students with disabilities. AIR has a long history of serving students with disabilities, and we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible. In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing, which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf

Here are my professional thoughts regarding your paragraph:

1. You state that you have a “long history of serving students with disabilities.”

Yet you failed to provide a single reference or smidgen of evidence that you have designed adaptive tests/assessments for children of color, gifted children, or children with specific learning disabilities that are scientifically reliable or useful. Providing data links to pilot studies of successes you have had with these, and other groups of children with “learning quirks” in regards to adaptive testing would have been the appropriate professional response to a interested “shareholder” in your corporation. Whereas my tax money is funding this $39,000,000.00 endeavor, I indeed have the strong attitude that you work for the parents of public school children in the State of Utah. Your responses along these lines lacked intellectual rigor and were disingenuous at best.

2. You stated, “we have invested in making our testing platform the most accessible possible.”

Where is the data from pilot studies that support your claim?  If is only accurate “as much as possible,” then certainly you are aware that certain groups of children will most likely statistically slip through the proverbial cracks with your adaptive testing design. Who are these kids? What have you done to encourage these children from avoiding potential emotional/psychological harm from opting out of this test you are designing? Your response along these lines again lack intellectual rigor and again was professionally affronting to me.

3. You stated in the paragraph, “we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing….”.

Who in UTAH is designing this new adaptive common core test?  What qualifications does this person have? I assume that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education, is not this person, whereas he does not have the training or experience to design such a complex, adaptive test for every public school child in the entire State of Utah.

If someone was found in our State to design this test, please tell me why a $39,000,000.00 check was written out to your company to design this test? Your attempt to conceptualize Utah as “design partner” is either a direct lie, or a mistake on your part. For $39,000,000.00, Utah taxpayers and parents expect a certain degree of honesty and/or accuracy from a company that is designing the most important test in the history of our state.

4. Speaking of accuracy, you referred us to link via this sentence:

“In addition, we always advise our clients to design tests that adhere to the principles of fair testing outlined by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities guidelines for adaptive testing,which can be found at  http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/education/CCD_Computer_Adaptive_Testing_final.pdf. ”

The link in the letter you drafted and posted to the entire State of Utah to view as evidence of your concern for children with disabilities in Utah was THE CATALINA ISLAND CONSERVANCY.

I simply am speechless.

As far as the Washington D.C. based, non-profit special interestgroup, “Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities” is concerned, the guidelines on their webpage are bereft of any references towards specific practices regarding at risk children and adaptive testing. This may have something to do with the fact that it appears that absolutely none of their Board of Directors has any type of formal, graduate school level education or clinical training experience with children displaying disabilities in assessment settings. I could go on for days regarding my concerns about CCD, but time is a limiting factor.

In addition, you also failed to detail how AIR works specifically with CCD as such might concern the development of the pending $39,000,000.00 Utah adaptive test. How often have your test designers consulted with CDC? What specific advice did the CDC give you concerning our unique population of children? Did the CDC make your aware that Utah has the highest number of children diagnosed with Autism in the entire United States?

If so, what specific professional guidance did the CDC give to AIR in regards to designing test for children with Autism? Would you be so kind to share this information with my fellow parents in the State of Utah?

I will not rehash the vast majority of my concerns to you again. I do believe you have a copy of our last letter. In that letter I provided multiple avenues by which AIR and the Utah State Department of Education can alleviate our “paranoia” by at least considering the implementation of several transparency features into your $39,000,000.00 contract with the citizens and parents of the State of Utah.

Let me refresh your memory with a few nuggets of change to consider from our previous letter:

1. “Anyone who states that AIR does not have the capacity to input selected variables that measure “behavioral characteristics”, along with variables that measure language arts, science or math is sorely misguided. It would be relatively “easy” to design a language adaptive test that has behavioral characteristics embedded into the design of the test.”

2. “Someone, independent of AIR, MUST have access to every single item on the tests being designed in order to insure and that absolutely ZERO behavioral indicators are being measured on tests that parents in Utah believe are only measuring “reading, writing and arithmetic”.

3. “A truly independent review by three independent, Board Certified, joint Ph.D. level psychometricians and licensed clinical psychologist, of all of the test items developed by AIR to ensure that there are no line item variables that could be reasonable utilized to measure“behavioral characteristics” as such may be defined by the American Psychological Association, or Journals published by this group.”

4. Implying, as was done in the USOE Alpine Town Hall Meeting, that any disability group in the country has approved a test (that has not yet to be designed) for the valid use with these populations, is disingenuous at the very least, or a flat out, deliberate misrepresentation to the parents of Utah (and the rest of the country) at worst.

5. An “opt out option” for children with disabilities until data of validity and efficacy is published and disseminated to the public, which ensures fair and accurate measurement of academic achievement.

Your letter failed to even acknowledge reflection of these common sense suggestions and protections for our $39,000,000.00 investment with AIR.

Per se, as far as your response to our clinic’s concerns that were outlined to Superintendent Menlove, I find it to be nothing but a piece of disingenuous public relations rubbish that is affronting in its lack of clarity and references. In a nutshell, you have asked the entire State of Utah to simply “trust you.”

Perhaps you have not spent any recent time in our great state. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the vast majority of Utah citizens have become a little queasy regarding believing authority figures in politics and business regarding positions of fiduciary and moral trust. Common Core, good or bad, is undisputedly the largest experiment of academic and assessment change in the history of our country. With such a grand experiment, the word “trust” should never be uttered.

I strongly suggest that both AIR and the Utah State Office of Education step up to the plate with some real answers, as opposed to the public relations fluff that we as parents are tired of digesting. Your joint, continued efforts of quasi-deception by proxy might incite this highly intelligent, bi-partisan, independent group of Utah parents to descend 10,000 strong to have their voices heard on the steps of our Capitol. Outsiders may make fun of our dominant culture, may laugh regarding our Utah Jazz, however we draw the line where it comes to the health and safety of our children. Our children will not become your psychological and academic guinea pigs without reasonable pilot-study data, specific to our unique population of children and teenagers.

Privacy Issues:

The vast majority of your letter was in response to attorney Flint’s concerns regarding data mining and related privacy issues. The following is a direct quote from Mr. Flint that I received this morning after he reviewed your letter to Dr. Menlove:

“AIR responds to our concerns about privacy, misuse of data and the protection of the database by re-stating that their contract precludes misuse or dissemination and would violate existing laws. I think we can all agree on that, however, it completely fails to answer the questions posed.

For example, in my letter to Superintendent Menlove, I cited a number of instances where both governmental and private agencies have lost or misplaced data while transferring it via flash drive, and the numerous instances of professional hackers obtaining the most sensitive and private information from medical and other databases.

The government agencies and companies that were “victims,” were also all required by law and contract to not disclose, disseminate or negligently lose the data, and to have sufficient firewall and other protections against hackers. They failed. Miserably.

AIR is in no better position than the dedicated public servants who have utterly failed us on a regular basis. They ignore the new 21st Century realities of data-mining and the veracity of how valuable data is sought after by many organizations for many, including nefarious, purposes. AIR dangerously skips past my concerns for the numerous exemptions to obtaining parental written consent, such as “academic surveys” or the oft-repeated abuses now being reported in other states that have implemented Common Core.

Like the Utah State Office of Education, they simply say “trust us, we’re professionals.” What they really mean is “screw you, we’re in charge here.”

It appears off hand that you failed to impress a trial lawyer with 26 years of litigation experience, as well as a father of a young son with Asperger’s Disorder.

Conclusion:

The repeated refusal of education leaders in positions of trust to responsibly address privacy and testing concerns (as well as other well documented concerns regarding curriculum development) surrounding Common Core may ultimately result in potential academic and emotional harm to a significant portion of Utah’s public school children. The repeated refusal to even responsibly acknowledge the very possibility of potential harm to children in our communities borders on delusional thought processes.

The continued dissemination of non-data supported conclusions of Common Core by leaders in our education community, and specifically AIR, regarding testing and privacy issues, despite receipt of well documented concerns from educational, legal and psychology experts from around the country, is nothing short of malfeasance of duty.

In plain terms, you are experimenting with our children without our consent. Such actions are not acceptable to any parent in the State of Utah, regardless of political or religious affiliations. It’s time for some “new perspectives” to be heard in various education circles.

As such, I would deferentially request that Mr. John Jesse, Director of Assessment for the Utah State Office of Education; Ms. Brenda Hale, Associate Superintendent of Public Schools; and Ms. Debra Roberts, Chairperson for the Utah State Board of Education resign from their respective professional and/or political duties prior to the commencement of the 2013-2014 public school academic year.

(Superintendent Menlove is new to the political jungles associated with Utah, and appears to be making an active effort in trying to wrap his head around the massive changes he inherited from Washington D.C. and his predecessor. In addition, I believe that he is a man of integrity.)

As an alternative to resignations of the above named parties, I would respectfully request that both the Utah State Office of Education, as well as the Utah State School Board, discuss and objectively educate parents via their respective official websites regarding areas of Common Core that have not been vetted in a reasonable and proper manner via pilot studies (e.g.,testing issues), as well as acknowledge that potential exists for the misuse of private “educational” data. This new transparency and intellectual honesty will result in allowing parents to make individual decisions regarding either opting out of Common Core, or making arrangements for alternative educational instruction for their respective children.

Mr. Cohen, your role at AIR will be key to ensuring that USOE honors our request for more in-depth, and objective scientific and legal transparency, as well as building bridges of trust between you and the community of citizens who are paying for your services. I think I speak for and in behalf of tens of thousands of Utah parents who believe that trust must be earned when it comes to the process and execution of educating our children. The days of signing “blank checks of trust” are done in our state…especially when such involves $39,000,000.00 and our children.

This is all very simple: Prove your claims with scientifically reliable pilot data, or in the alternative, acknowledge potential deficits in a clear and concise manner so that parents, who are the true experts of their children, can make decisions regarding their unique kids and their continued involvement (or not) in Common Core.

One size does not fit all.

Best Regards,

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

Edward D. Flint, Attorney at Law

  • Dr. Thompson can be reached for comment at drgary@earlylifepsych.com.
  • Mr. Flint can be reached for comment at specialedflint@gmail.com.

Dr. Thompson’s appearance on The Blaze t.v. show with Glenn Beck is highlighted below.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NjqOBEc3HU

How Common Core and School Data Mining are Inseparable   7 comments

A growing number of the proponents of Common Core say they are opposed to the data mining that uses school-collected data.

How does this position even make sense?  The two programs are so married. 

1.  President Obama’s the  head cheerleader for both programs and he bundles them in his vision for education reform.  Part of the Race to the Top application was an agreement for states to adopt Common Core Standards, and part was to have a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that would match every other SLDS in the nation (using federal grants to build it.)  Points were awarded to states who did both.   Clearly, both Common Core and the SLDS data system were part of that federal reform package and both comply with the “Big Government” vision of socialistically controlled education.  (The fact that our state –Utah– received no RTTT monies and isn’t part of RTTT, is irrelevant, since Utah still chose to remain bound under Common Core and the federally funded SLDS even after not winning any grant monies.  Don’t ask me why.  That decision makes no sense at all.)

2. In public speeches, Secretary Arne Duncan calls for “robust data” –and he is the very man who altered federal FERPA regulations to make access to private data more easily accessible by a large number of agencies –without parental consent, and this is the same Arne Duncan who boasts of Obama’s “College and Career Readiness” (Common Core standards) as if he birthed them,  in public speeches.  Again, the two programs go hand in hand and come from the socialistic ideals of the Department of Education.
3. At a recent White House event entitled “DataPalooza,” eScholar CEO Shawn T. Bay gave a speech in which he stated that although aggregate data is useful, it’s most useful to look at the individual consumer or the individual student. He said, too, that Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because Common Core is “the glue that actually ties everything together.”Here is the video.  http://youtu.be/9RIgKRNzC9U?t=9m5s  See minute nine to find where the data push depends on Common Core.
4.  For those states (including SBAC-droppers like Utah) who are still in any way connected to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) there is the damning evidence found in a key document called the Cooperative Agreement with the Dept of Education.  Here you will discover that only the fiscal agent state, Washington, has any real authority over what happens in all the other states of the SBAC.  Here you will also see the illegal moves of the Department of Education very clearly.  The Department mandates synchronization of tests between the SBAC and the PARCC.  It mandates the sharing of data on an ongoing basis.  It mandates phone calls, conferences and much more sharing of testing information. This is completely illegal under GEPA law and under the 10th Amendment.  By triangulating tests and data between the SBAC, the PARCC and the Dept. of Education, they have created a nationalized system that removes local authority and the local voice.It troubles me that the proponents of Common Core continue to call opponents like me “misinformed” when the opposite is obvious from source documents.

It troubles me that I actually go out of my way to request proof that we opponents are “erroneous” and “misinformed” and the proponents don’t even respond to the emails.

Proponents of Common Core seem to me to be increasingly uninterested in the truth.  That troubles me most of all.

I am interested in the truth.  I have no other object in this fight against Common Core except wanting academically legitimate, locally amendable and locally controlled standards.

I am a teacher and a mother, not a politician or lobbyist or even a reporter.

But.
If I actually was a politician or reporter, here’s what I would take the time to study and then write.  The article would be entitled:
“Putting the Pieces Together on the Data Mining - Common Core Puzzle.”
A good starter article on the data mining of schools has been done by Caleb Warnock at the Daily Herald.  More is needed.
First, I’d call state technology directors in various states and I’d ask them the same questions about federal compliance issues surrounding data collection that I’ve asked our Jerry Winkler of Utah.
First, I’d  clarify whether the technology director is aware of the federal requests for voluntary submission of private student data (not in aggregate form).  I would mention at least three federal sources: CEDS, DQC, NDCM.  They’d likely be unaware (but maybe not).
Then I would ask the technology director what information is currently being collected by the state student surveillance system, the SLDS, (which all states have and use on the state level but which most states do not YET open up to the feds –except on an aggregate level.)  This would vary from state to state.
Then I would ask him/her what information is given to the federal EDFACTS Data Exchange.  I would also ask if he/she is aware of the law suit against the federal Dept. of Education (altering privacy regulations to loosen parental rights)
Then I would ask the big question:  Who makes the call on when these puzzle pieces will fit together in compliance with federal goals?  Who has that authority in our state?
We have fitting pieces of the horrific, 1984-esque puzzle, but when will we choose to put it  together? 
We know that the feds are asking us to voluntarily share personally identifiable data, we know that the Dept. of Ed sneakily destroyed FERPA privacy law to make data accessing easier; we know that we as states do collect it, and we know that we already share the aggregated form of student data.
What’s next? And who makes the call?

TribTalk: Is Classical Literature Diminished by Common Core, or Not?   14 comments

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56311293-78/standards-core-common-utah.html.csp

I watched this video, where the Salt Lake Tribune reporter asked Utah School Board Chair Debra Roberts whether Common Core took away classic literature –see minute 15:40.

Roberts laughed, said that she was an English major and would never support standards that were not strongly supportive of classic literature—  and then, without answering, took the conversation in the direction of how important informational texts are.

The fact is, informational texts used to be taught where they OUGHT to be taught– in science classes, history classes, and other classes.  But they are being force fed in all English classes now.

Certainly, some classic literature is still permitted in Utah schools under Common Core.  But it has been dramatically reduced, especially at the high school level.  Roberts would not admit this. WHY?

Debra Roberts’ signature (together with our former governor’s signature) put Utah’s former educational liberty under the thumb of the Common Core agenda.  She’s been on the Common Core adoption team longer than our current governor.  She cannot be ignorant of the truth.

She knows that Common Core emphasizes informational text and takes away classic literature.  She knows that in elementary school, students may read 50% classic stories and 50% informational text; and she knows that the percentage of informational text MUST increase while the percentage of classic literature must decrease, so that when a student is a high school senior, he/she must have 70% of his/her English class reading be informational, while 30% max may be classic literature.

She and others on the state school board continue to call those of us who call for the whole truth, “misinformed” and “erroneous.”

I requested an explanation of what exactly seemed “erroneous,” in the school board’s view, in the GOP resolution that Utah’s State Delegates voted to support last week.

I have not heard back from them.

I have also requested face to face meetings with board members and have been denied a meeting.   Here I am, a credentialed Utah teacher, denied a meeting to discuss my concerns about Utah’s new Core Curriculum.  Does that seem good?

I am willing to be proven wrong.   One person could be wrong.

But I don’t think it’s fair to call all 6,000 petition signers at Utahns Against Common Core, plus the 1500— 2,000 state delegates who voted against common core at the resolution vote,  plus the entire Republican National Committee, plus Sutherland Institute, Heritage Institute, Pioneer Institute, Cato Institute, Senator Mike Lee, Jason Chaffetz, and Rob Bishop, all “misinformed.”  –Especially not in the same week that the chair of the board misinforms reporters about Common Core.

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.

Orem, Utah – Video Presentation about Common Core by Three Moms   8 comments

Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.

State School Board Seen as “Unaccountable Bureaucrats”   12 comments

I appreciate Rep. Brian Greene’s recent statement on his Facebook page, in reference to the recent KSL article.  He said that the state school board should not ask the Legislature  “to validate the board’s adoption of Common Core by quashing public opposition to it. ” 
   Amen.
Funny how the state school board wants to make it clear that they have full authority over public education, but want the Legislature to validate their adoption of CC  by quashing public opposition to it. If the Board is so committed to CC, they need to begin acting like the elected officers they are and take their message directly to the voters and stop acting like unaccountable bureaucrats.
The State School Board has unanimously passed two resolutions that state official positions on the Utah Core Standards and the security of personal student information.

Want to see more from

Gov Pence of Indiana Puts Common Core in TIME OUT: “Education is a Local Function”   2 comments

Indiana’s Governor Pence has signed the “Common Core ‘pause’ legislation” bill.  It puts a time-out on Common Core implementation so that legislators, parents, teachers and school boards can have the time they were denied previously, to actually vet and analyze the Common Core educational system.

How I wish Governor Herbert would do the same.

How I wish we had a governor, newspapers, a state school board and local school boards whose actions showed they truly valued local control, that all-important principle of our country’s founding.  But they do not.  They prioritize being the same as other states over maintaining the power to run our own lives,  and they value that common core over having academically legitimate, non-experimental standards.

It is a Utah tragedy.  Not so in Indiana.

IndyStar reports:

“The bill requires public input meetings and a new vote on whether to continue implementing the Common Core by the end of 2014 by the State Board of Education, which originally approved common Core in 2010.

Critics of Common Core, which was adopted by Indiana’s state board in 2010, say the criteria are less rigorous than Indiana’s prior standards and adopting them would mean giving up too much power over the setting of standards.

But supporters argue Indiana could fall behind by backing out, as textbook publishers and standardized test makers — including those who make college entrance exams — are moving quickly to adapt to the new standards.

“I have long believed that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that our curriculum is developed by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said in a news release. “The legislation I sign today hits the pause button on Common Core so Hoosiers can thoroughly evaluate which standards will best serve the interests of our kids.”  

Read the rest here.

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