Archive for the ‘Utah’ Tag
Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.
Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.
If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.
An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day. Present were the Governor and his bodyguard; legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates. The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.
At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools. The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core. (The video that was looped is viewable here. For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view – see this video, too.)
There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC) booth than around any other, by a long shot. Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.
I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems. (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)
But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process. These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.
Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation. It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be. It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.
Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass. It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that had passed earlier this year in California.
But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory. The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly. The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core. (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)
And the media were generally against us. Both the Tribune and KSL had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.
So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth. I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle of the resolution passing.
Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news. Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word: “PASSED!!!!”
Our resolution passed! It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns. 65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.
It was a welcome surprise.
Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed. I learned that the powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution. They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held. Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage. There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.
Finally the resolution was debated. There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.
Sixty five percent voted for it to pass! That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core. This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.
But it didn’t make the Tribune. It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.
Who knows why? Sigh.
Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks. There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.
Let’s not let them get away with it.
Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.
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. “
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.
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.
“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.
He was very gracious and I appreciated his willingness to answer questions.
I asked him if he could verify the information I’d received from the state school board, that the reason that a Utah student is not able to opt out of the SLDS tracking system, is because of limitations of technology.
( I had received that idea from the state school board: “Current data systems do not allow for individual student data to be withheld from the data submission process.”
But Jerry Winkler told me that it’s not a technology limitation.
“It’s a policy question,” he said, and directed me to inquire further about the policy from Carol Lear, the top lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education.
I shuddered. I know more than I want to about Carol Lear, the top U.S.O.E. lawyer. Just FYI: Carol Lear told me last year that since “the whole point is to be common” — it was of no importance that there’s no amendment process to Common Core. She also told me she believed a cost analysis had been done on Common Core in Utah, when there had not –and still has not. She displayed zero respect for the 10th Amendment and the General Educational Provisions Act. and told me that she had never heard of the Cooperative Agreement and she thought it was a hoax. Finally, she refused to respond to further questions and told me to go talk the the public relations department. With no sense of valiance in defending states’ rights, would Lear balk at caving in to any request the federal Dept. of Education made of Utah?
Back to today:
I asked Jerry Winkler how compliant our state has been, so far, to the requests from the federal government at the Data Quality Campaign and the National Data Collection Model, those federal websites which request hundreds of non-academic data points about children from schools (including nicknames, family, voting, income, health and psychological information, etc.)
He verfied that Utah does submit information gathered by schools to the federal government, but assured me that right now, Utah is giving only aggregated (grouped) information to the federal government (He verified that this takes place at the portal called the Edfacts Exchange )
Winkler said that right now, Utah is keeping dis-aggregated data (personally identifiable data) inside the state at the SLDS database.
“Who or what would change that?” I asked, “At what point will Utah give in to federal requests to give up disaggregated (personal) data to the federal government, as well? Who makes the call to be more “compliant” with the federal requests?
Carol Lear, he said. She is the one who would make the call.
Jerry Winkler also told me he believed that students could opt out of being tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System at the local LEA level, but if the data was entered by the LEA, it would automatically be sent to the SLDS and Utah Data Alliance, at which point opting out would end.
I had not heard this. I will be asking my LEA how to accomplish that.
He had not heard of it.
Utah senator joins others in signing letter opposing the Common Core.
By Lisa Schencker
|Reposted highlights from Salt Lake Tribune article
First Published Apr 29 2013 06:48 pm
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
, has jumped into the ongoing fray over Common Core State Standards
, signing a letter asking Senate budget leaders to “restore state decision-making and accountability.”Lee, along with eight other Republican senators, sent the letter to the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds education on Friday. The letter asks that any future education appropriations bill includes language prohibiting the U.S. Secretary of Education from using the money to implement or require the standards in any way, in hopes of eliminating “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education
with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”
“The decision about what students should be taught and when it should be taught has enormous consequences for our children,” the letter says. “Therefore, parents ought to have a straight line of accountability to those who are making such decisions. State legislatures, which are directly accountable to the citizens of their states , are the appropriate place for those decisions to be made, free from any pressure from the U.S. Department of Education
In an interview with the Tribune Tuesday, Lee declined to comment on Utah’s adoption of the standards, saying his concern is with keeping the federal government out of state and local education decisions.
“If they choose to adopt them, I hope they do so because they’re relevant standards and local leaders think they’re good standards not because of any federal mandate,” he said of states’ adoption of the standards. He said, so far, he’s noticed “disturbing trends” in the direction of the federal government becoming overly involved in pushing the standards.
Utah proponents of the standards, however, have long fought against arguments that they were federally developed or imposed. The Utah state school board adopted the standards in 2010 in hopes of better preparing students for college and careers. The standards — developed as part of a states-led initiative — outline the concepts and skills students should learn in each grade, while leaving curriculum decisions up to local teachers and districts.
Critics of the standards point out that the federal government, several years ago, encouraged states to adopt the standards as they applied for federal Race to the Top grant money. They also point to a federal requirement that states adopt college- and career-ready standards in order to receive a waiver to No Child Left Behind .
But Utah did not win that money, and to receive waivers, states could adopt either Common Core standards or different standards of their choosing…
The Utah State Office of Education sent out this email to state curriculum directors yesterday, labeling calls by teachers, senators and parents who ask for honest debate on the many constitutional, academic and privacy-related issues of the Common Core agenda, ”vicious” attacks. The recipients of the email have been removed to protect privacy. The links have been added to clarify the email.
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 3:55 PM
Subject: [Curriculum Directors] Your action is needed
As you are probably aware the Utah Core based on the Common Core is under vicious attack. Opponents of the core cite reasons against the core ranging from fears about data collection to federal government intrusion. They have specifically begun attacking the mathematics core, in some cases because it “holds students back” and in others because “students who were formerly receiving good grades are now struggling”. These complaints have caught the attention of the legislature and some members of the Utah Board of Education.
At the same time, everywhere I go I am hearing stories of student successes that far exceed previous expectations. I am visiting with teachers who tell me about engaged students who are doing real mathematics, not just copying problems out of textbooks. And teachers are empowered by creating units of study for students that go beyond anything their textbooks ever provided. Wonderful things are happening in Utah!
The time is now to contact policymakers and reassure them that the adoption of the Core was the right thing to do and give them specific evidence of how the integrated model is supporting student learning of mathematics. It’s ok to recognize challenges, but it is critical that policymakers understand that the Core has already had a positive impact on student learning and is likely to result in changes that really will close achievement gaps in the future. I cannot stress enough how important it is that policymakers hear directly from teachers regarding what is happening in their classrooms. The teachers do not need to advocate for the core, just give evidence of the results.
Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members. Also, letters to Aaron Osmond firstname.lastname@example.org and Todd Weiler email@example.com may have extra pull because of their roles in the Utah Senate. Copies sent to USOE, either to me or to Brenda Hales Brenda.firstname.lastname@example.org are also appreciated. The legislators and other policymakers need real information. If we do not voice our thoughts now, we may not have another chance.
Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator
Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
250 E. 500 South
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200
So, the USOE is inviting teachers to speak out. I thought that was what I was doing.
“Please invite teachers to send their stories to their own legislators and State Board of Education members.”
Now, I invite teachers to truly do this. Send your stories anonymously if you fear career repercussions for telling the State you don’t like to be micromanaged. Tell them the truth: that whatever’s okay about Common Core, we are free to do without the federal mandates. Whatever’s bad, we should be able to amend. The Constitutional right to self-direct education by states has been violated. SPEAK UP NOW or lose your chance, maybe forever.
Send letters and stories to legislators, the school board (at email@example.com ), newspapers, and send a copy here, in the comment area. I will repost as a guest post.
Also, remember to take the optionally anonymous teacher survey at Utahns Against Common Core.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah joined other senators — Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in signing Iowa Senator Grassely’s letter that points out that the Dept. of Education must be restrained from funding and promoting nationalized standards and must not be allowed to continue the illegal implementation of Common Core with federal tax monies.
The letter said: “”While the Common Core State Standards Initiative was initially billed as a voluntary effort between states, federal incentives have clouded the picture. Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a ‘common set of K-12 standards’ matching the description of the Common Core. The U.S. Department of Education also made adoption of ‘college- and career-ready standards’ meeting the description of the Common Core a condition to receive a state waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Race to the Top funds were also used to fund two consortiums to develop assessments aligned to the Common Core and the Department is now in the process of evaluating these assessments.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/eight-senators-join-fight-against-common-core-94876/#DUmSios6cdzc1Orf.99 and http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2013/04/eight-senators-join-chuck-grassley-fight-to-defund-common-core/
Utah’s D.C. Senator, Mike Lee, also wrote yesterday at his official website:
“The first principle of education, and therefore of education policymaking, is that parents are the primary educators of their children. And because responsibility for children’s education lies primarily with parents, to the greatest extent possible so should decision-making authority over Pre-K to secondary education. The further such decisions are removed from the parents and guardians of children, the further they are removed from those who will promote the best interests of students. Therefore federal influence over pre-K, elementary, and secondary education should be limited. Neither members of Congress nor Department of Education bureaucrats can be expected to promote the interests of individual students – with unique talents, interests, and learning styles – more than those students’ own parents, teachers or principals.
While the Common Core Standard Initiative was initially promoted as an effort to move in this direction, it has become polluted with Federal guidelines and mandates that interfere with the ability of parents, teachers and principals to deliver the education our children deserve.” Read More Here
Thank you, Senators Lee, Grassley, Coburn, Cruz, Fischer, Inhofe, Paul, Roberts, and Sessions.
As a teacher, as a parent, and as a believer in the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution, I can not thank you enough.
Guest post by a parent who requested that his/her report would be anonymously published
I attended the meeting held by Uintah School District last week.
The meeting appeared to be a training on the new assessments for Common Core that will cost $30 million. The guy turned his back on the room and spoke quietly when he said ‘$30 mil’, so I’m not sure I heard him correctly. He was more than happy to face the room and speak loudly about how great these assessments will be and how very much we need them–in his opinion. (Note-his job is dependent on him holding to that opinion.)
A little more than halfway through the meeting, he finally allowed questions. He would NOT allow questions before that. When question time came, it was very clear that the majority of the people in the room were unhappy parents, not educators there for his training. With a great deal of pressure from parents, it was decided that some common core questions would be answered by Dixie Allen of the state school board.
All individuals interested in common core questions being answered were invited to get up and move to a smaller room to talk with Dixie. By the time everyone had gathered in the smaller room, common core was on a screen at the front of the room and Dixie was prepared to give a presentation. Parents tried to ask questions and Dixie tried to give a presentation.
When it became clear that Dixie’s intent was to deliver a Common Core ‘sale’, one parent specifically requested that questions be answered first and the presentation be given second because people were obviously wanting their questions answered now. Dixie said no, but eventually had to give in because the questions wouldn’t quit coming. We didn’t have to watch or listen to a big presentation from Dixie, but we did have to listen to her state several times that common core standards are higher (to which one parent consistently replied ‘no, they’re not’ every time). She also told the parent in the room who knew the most about Common Core that she (Dixie) didn’t want that mom asking anymore questions because the mom gave comments, informing other parents of the details so Dixie could not shut them down completely. Obviously, Dixie is frightened of the truth getting out.
Dixie also denied being the homeschool teacher for 2 of her grandchildren in her home. (I think the count was 2.) She later backtracked on that one and admitted that she teaches one grandchild who is in 9th grade right now and homeschooled because of bullying. (A difficult to fully believe claim because the junior high principal here is quite strict and everyone else says this principal put an end to bullying in that school when she was first put in as principal, long enough ago that bullying in that school would have ended by the time Dixie’s grandchild would have entered the jr. high.)
Dixie also repeatedly stated that Utah must do Common Core because otherwise we cannot buy curriculum to match our core because we don’t spend enough money on education and therefore the curricula vendors don’t cater to us. No one in the room agreed with her on needing more money, but she made this claim repeatedly. Then when the question “How much will these new curricula materials to match common core cost us?” was asked, the answer was “Nothing, we’re making our own.”
None of the parents in the room said anything, but note that the argument that we need to do common core so we can buy materials to match our core falls when you consider that we’re not buying the materials!
In short, no one in the meeting was convinced that common core was a good idea. Parents talked afterwards, exchanging their contact info and more information on common core. One parent had watched a program on the miserable failure of common core in Michigan and was there with her notes in hand, asking questions and providing details of how bad things are in Michigan. Dixie tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, to refute the points this good mom made throughout the meeting. Another mom mentioned that history has proven how very dangerous a national curriculum can be, but many people in the room are unaware of that and just thought she’s a little paranoid.
I left the meeting thinking that Dixie is either completely ignorant of the facts surrounding common core or she is an outright liar. I spoke with some people who know her personally the next day and they told me that she just truly believes in big government, so she wouldn’t even be able to see the facts. It was interesting to watch her at the meeting. Dixie is an elected representative of the people, but you couldn’t tell. Elected representatives should listen to the people, treat them respectfully, and do as the people want. Dixie did none of that. As an elected representative of the people, she ARGUED with them and spoke condescendingly when they didn’t understand education lingo. It was very sad.
Dixie did state that Utah might not adopt the science part of common core because of pressure from the ‘right wing’ in the state. She also said that Utah might try to vary from common core by more than the 15% allowed, but there will be no attempt to get out of common core.
Sadly, the powers that be cannot admit they’ve made a mistake and are completely disrespectful to the people who gave them power and pay the taxes that support them and their decisions.
- Anonymous attendee at UT State Office of Education Common Core presentation to Uintah School District
Did you watch the Deseret News live feed of the Davis District meeting tonight?
I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.
I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked. She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless. It’s tragic. I feel almost sorry for her.
What makes me say this?
One example: When parents asked about the data collection issue she seemed to be blissfully unaware that the Utah State Longitudinal Database System collects personally identifiable information on every student –without parental consent and without any opt-out alternative.
“There’s federal laws. There’s all the protection in the world,” she said, and added a little simile:
As banks can’t give away your money, databases can’t give away your personally identifiable information, she said.
– Does she not know that there’s a huge lawsuit going on right now because the Department of Education has loosened and ruined privacy regulations so entirely that parental consent has been reduced from a legal requirement to an optional ”best practice”??
– Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?
– Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?
– Has she not seen the hundreds of data points that the federal government is “inviting” states to collect and share on students at the National Data Collection Model?
– Has she never studied the Utah Data Alliance and the Data Quality Campaign?
– Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?
– Does she not know that state FERPA is protective and good, but federal FERPA is utterly worthless because of what the Dept. of Education has done?
Ms. Park said:
“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,” and: “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”
Dear Ms. Park! I wish I could believe you.
But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect. He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe. But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.
Why don’t our leaders study this stuff? Why, why?
Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing. It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education. Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education? Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.
I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.
This portion is reposted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.
I’m mortified at USOE.
I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, ” we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”
Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, ect) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I here one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glen Beck appearance look like minor league.
It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.
Their response over a week later?
Not even a thank you note….and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.
How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (out new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.
Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.
God bless you.
— — —
Please, if you live in Uintah District, attend the meeting about the Common Core (AIR/SAGE) tests to be presented by the USOE on
April 25, 2013 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Maeser Training Center 1149 North 2500 West Vernal,UT 84078 USA
Today from 4 to 6 PM
District Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor) 70 East 100 North in Farmington, Utah
USOE to present Common Core Testing System to Public
Please attend the Davis School District meeting today at 4:00 p.m. The press is reportedly going to be there, too.
If you are in the vicinity, please attend the meeting today and ask your questions about AIR/SAGE. If you need a list of questions, you can borrow these:
- Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
- What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
- Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
- Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
- What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system?
- Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
- I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
- Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, both my legislator and I missed any invitation to discuss this before it was decided for us; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
- 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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“ In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.
You may want to read these posts before the meeting.
“Much has been said about Common Core – by those who support it and those who oppose it. To me, the greatest benefit of Common Core is the fact that it has generated an army of parent activists who have educated themselves on the implementation of national standards, USOE regulations, and the data mining of students academic and personal information. We should all take note of the trends taking place in education.” – Utah Senator Margaret Dayton
The Greatest Assessments in the U.S.A.
(and other such nonsense)
guest post by Alyson Williams
During the first public meeting on anything Common Core related in Nebo School District it probably should not have come as a surprise to the USOE that there might be a number of intensely inquisitive or disenfranchised parents in attendance… or that their questions might extend beyond the bells and whistles of the new testing software that was being introduced.
This is, after all, part of a broader reform that was set in motion when former Governor Huntsman and Superintendent Harrington signed a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in the National Governor Association’s Common Core State Standards Initiative in the spring of 2009.
Mr. John Jesse, the Assessment Director for the USOE must have felt like he’d been fed to the wolves… or more accurately to bears of the mama and papa variety.
Perhaps feeling caught off guard by the unusual and poorly communicated standards adoption process that required this initial agreement of participation before the standards were even written (recently re-framed by the State School Board as an “exploratory” phase minus the ability to explore), parents were understandably critical of Mr. Jesse’s emphatic claim that these tests were the “best in the United States” and that Utah was a shining example to the rest of the country of all things assessment.
“But, you said these particular assessments haven’t even been written yet, or piloted anywhere, right?” one mother clarified in an attempt to point out the glaring credibility gap of showing the timeline of implementation that is just beginning while at the same time making this emphatic claim.
There were so many questions a decision was made to have parents write their questions on a white board, to be answered at the end, in order to allow Mr. Jesse to complete his presentation (or even complete a sentence) with some coherence.
The introduction to the testing company that Utah has contracted with included the disclaimer, or justification, that a company can be involved with a variety of projects or seek certain societal outcomes that one does not agree with, but it is still okay to use their products that are unrelated.
This was likely intended to pacify or pre-empt concerns about the mission of the testing company, American Institutes of Research (AIR), to promote global values as key supporters of the Clinton Global Initiative, or with their work on issues of mental health and sexuality as applied to children.
In other words, as long as the tests themselves meet the need, it shouldn’t matter that Utah tax payers are giving $39 million to a company whose mission they would not otherwise support.
The main advantages of this software, according to Mr. Jesse, are features to accommodate special needs, i.e. hearing or vision impaired, that it is adaptive (questions each student sees are determined in real time based on previous response) and that the results are instantly available.
He also touted the optional, formative assessment capability that is basically the ability to administer both mini-tests and mini-curriculum from an open source curriculum library that has been developed by AIR and comes pre-loaded with the system. After being pressed on the issue, Mr. Jesse confirmed that student activity while using the formative system is tracked.
A number of teachers attended the meeting as well, and one had to wonder what was going through their minds as Mr. Jesse pointed out at least three times that these tests were not high-stakes tests for children but that they were high-stakes tests for teachers and for schools. (A reference to a law passed in 2012 linking teacher pay and school grading to tests.)
What might an experienced teacher’s reaction be to his explanation of how, with the help of precise statistical analysis by a computer, a teacher could really know if a student was struggling or excelling?
Is there research that substantiates the claim that student-teacher interactions are enhanced and not disrupted by certain applications of technology? This would seem an important reference to offer along with this particular assertion. So often in education assumptions that seem sound based on anecdotal observations have unexpected outcomes or unanticipated side effects.
Mr. Jesse did not touch on the aspect of the tests that might be considered the specialty of AIR, the integration of psychometric predictors – a science that requires far more scrutiny when applied to statewide assessments because of its powerful ability, in combination with statistical data mashing enhanced by the existence of interoperable State Longitudinal Data Systems, to profile individuals and assess “dispositions” without it being apparent in the questions or content of the assessment itself.
Utah Child Psychiatrist Dr. Gary T. Thompson has publicly expressed that parents and students deserve a more thorough explanation of how this science will be applied in these assessments. http://www.earlylifepsych.com/common-core-note-to-the-community/
He, along with Edward D. Flint Esq. Special Education Attorney at Law, issued the following assertion as part of a longer article addressing this topic:
“Someone, independent of AIR, MUST have access to every single item on the tests being designed in order to insure that absolutely ZERO behavioral indicators are being measured on tests that parents in Utah believe are only measuring “reading, writing and arithmetic.”
As the question portion of the meeting began, Mr. Jesse reiterated his focus on assessments and his inability to answer unrelated questions. He took a head count of parents who expressed concern over the broader reforms related to the Common Core State Standards with the promise to report this to the USOE along with a request that there be another forum in the future for questions to be answered on a broader range of topics.
In response to the concerns related to content and the inaccessibility of the test questions to parents, or regarding the “use of behavioral indicators” (as specified in the section of 2012’s House Bill 115 governing computer adaptive testing) Mr. Jesse said that there would be nothing objectionable in the tests and that the audience should take his word for it, challenging those present to check his references if there were any doubts about his credibility.
This ironically was the straw that, in light of the circumstances already mentioned, broke the proverbial camel’s back in terms of credibility. “Trust me,” is not a phrase that any parent in the state wants to hear from anyone involved in the implementation of any aspect of Common Core right now… nor should it be sufficient regardless of the circumstances when it comes to a parent’s right to vet any program to which their child will be subjected.
As the tone of the meeting further devolved, insults and accusations of misinformation were exchanged leading to an abrupt end to the Q&A.
Mr. Jesse was admittedly put in a tough situation, and the meeting by any account was a disaster.
An informal survey of sentiment afterward garnered reactions that ranged from disappointment over the tone of both presenter and attendees in their remarks, to surprise that the audience had not been even more insistent that answers have some verifiable basis other than the word of the person whose job it is to promote the project.
Thanks to Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core for providing the following.
Protecting Student Data: Becoming Informed About Personal & Behavioral Data Collection & Sharing
Allow parents to opt out* of testing and certain data tracking on behalf of their children.
Prohibit non-academic data collection, i.e. behavior and require disclosure of student data types tracked in Utah’s Federally funded State Longitudinal Data System.
Prohibit any kind of testing that does not allow parents to see assessment questions upon request
The Federal government has established the National Education Data Model to facilitate state collection and sharing of behavioral, health, psychological, and family data. In 2012, Utah included provisions in law to permit schools to assess “student behavior indicators.” Utah also requires that “Computer Adaptive Tests” (CATs) be used in all Utah schools.
Utah has partnered with behavioral and social science company AIR to provide CAT tests. Utah has stated its intent to upload Utah student data to an AIR database in 2013. Utah plans to keep “SAGE” CAT questions secret from all but fifteen Utah parents. Utah has not disclosed to the public the student data types tracked in Utah’s federally-funded State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS.)
The US Education Department undercut “parental consent” in federal student privacy laws without going through congress “It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing and education of their children.” -Utah Code Title 53A Section 302
National Education Data Model:
Sample from over 400 data points recommended for SLDS
Born Outside of the U.S.
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Discontinuing Schooling Reason
Disease, Illness, Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early
Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Non-school Activity Description
Social Security Number
* A form has been created and is being circulated now, which parents will send to the school and State Superintendent. I will post it when I receive it from Utahns Against Common Core. The form states that the parents of this child withhold permission for the State to track the child’s personally identifiable information. We hope to flood the State Office of Education and the Governor’s Office with these forms to protect children across this state.
– — – — – — –
National Education Data Model, including behavioral, health, & other personal data elements: http://tinyurl.com/cyecjwt.
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), line 59: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), lines 9, 10, 11: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
AIR behavioral testing: tinyurl.com/bp55kxd and behavioral profiling: tinyurl.com/bwfdmnr
Utah contracted with AIR to provide Computer Adaptive Tests: tinyurl.com/cpxuoxk
Utah student data to be uploaded to AIR: tinyurl.com/cujlplf
Utah computer adaptive test questions to be reviewed by appointed panel of 15 out of 700,000 Utah parents (line 22):http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
EPIC is challenging changes to the Federal FERPA http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
“Student Data,” for the purposes of this document includes, but it not limited to, behavioral test question results, and the data elements in the federal government’s National Education Data Model (NEDM), found at tinyurl.com/crd944a. The NEDM includes over 400 student data elements, including those listed above.
After a whole year of never receiving an email response from Asst. Superintendent Judy Park, today she wrote back! Wow.
But. The billion dollar question was dodged again. It’s been dodged in emails for over a year. It was dodged twice more at last night’s Common Core (S.A.G.E./A.I.R.) presentation, both during and after the event. But I wrote an email asking it again.
Here it is, and here’s her answer.
My Question: Please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
Ms. Park’s Answer: You have received a great deal of information about the common core from Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent. I would encourage you to direct your questions about the common core to her.
Another dodge! Another D O D G E!
Utterly, completely unbelievable!
This dodge is like building a house (a new Utah educational system) on quicksand (illegitimate standards) and insisting that everyone to keep admiring the roof (nifty technology) –and telling the homeowner (teacher/taxpayers/parents) who paid for the whole thing and will live in it for life, to quit asking the pesky questions about those sinking wobbly motions in the foundation, directing that homeowner to ask an irrelevant wallpaper hanger why the home was built in quicksand.
There comes a time when you either keep yelling at the t.v./radio/computer screen/newspaper, or you make a move.
Utah, I am asking you to make a move. Call. Write. Tell our Governor, School Board, legislature and U.S.O.E. that we deserve answers to these most basic of all questions that affect our children and grandchildren in dramatic ways, for the rest of their lives. Please act.
This is what I wrote to Assistant Superintendent Judy Park today.
Thank you for taking the time to partially respond to some of my questions.
Please– stop dodging the most important question, for me and for all Utahns.
“First, do no harm” applies to education as well as to medicine. Please show us proof that the USSB/USOE is doing no harm by implementing Common Core; this should be easy. Brenda Hales, the public relations person is not an academic expert; you are. By dodging the question to her it appears that you don’t even know whether Common Core is snake oil –or not.
Don’t teachers, parents and legislators deserve to know that hundreds of millions of dollars and hours and children’s minds all pushing toward Common Core implementation is being spent wisely?! Do we not deserve to see evidence and references backing up the oft-repeated claim that these standards are helpful?
Where is the study showing that long-term, lives are enhanced when high school seniors are deprived of 70% of their classic literature? Where is the study showing that long-term, students who are deprived of the knowledge of how to convert fractions into decimals, are blessed by that fact? Countless examples could be shared.
You serve on the CCSSO, the D.C. group which developed and copyrighted these unproven standards. You have been doing this longer than our State Superintendent and you stand uniquely qualified to answer questions about the academic legitimacy of the standards and about the lack of any empirical evidence to back up the U.S.O.E.’s claims– which have been replicated on every district website in this state– and which are false.
The standards are not serving children honorably. They take away from, rather than raise, Utah’s educational hopes. Less classic literature. Less traditional math. Slowing of the age at which algorithms are introduced. Less narrative writing. Less parental consent. No district-held control over the sharing of student data. And worst of all, the standards and connected reforms and mandates have robbed Utah of educational sovereignty, a constitutional right. We have no voice, no amendment process. For such a trade, the standards must surely be magnificent.
Yet you cannot even point me to the documentation that these standards are more than a blind experiment on our kids, written by noneducators and adopted at grant-point, rather than after thorough and honorable academic vetting in Utah?
This is an absolute outrage.
In the name of integrity, what are you going to do about it?
There’s a fine line between watching a state leader hold multiple roles in business and politics that are a bit too close for comfort, and having a leader hold multiple roles that clearly create unwarranted favoritism –or even corruption.
I don’t know exactly where this line falls.
But I’ve noticed an uncomfortable “two-hats-wearing” pattern with some businesspeople-turned-politicians. And it’s harming the process of proper vetting, voice and vote of “We, the People.” The people’s debate never takes place. The business-side-of-education “experts” rise to positions of political authority and they then make the calls. I am not comfortable with it.
Two examples: Todd Huston of Indiana and Aaron Osmond of Utah– both are Republicans and both are youngish family guys, seeminlgy “nice guys”.
But each is employed by education-product sales companies while also serving in the state legislature in positions that influence decisions about which educational products will be needed, and will be purchased, using state tax dollars.
Huston works for the College Board, whose president financially contributed to his political campaign. Osmond works for Certiport-Pearson which has huge contracts with the state, and would probably have more if Osmond’s recent bill had passed.
The president of the College Board, David Coleman, recently gave Todd Huston a large (his second largest) campaign contribution, of $10,000. Other campaign contributers included Stand for Children, another controversial political group. David Coleman also hired Huston to be Senior Vice President of the College Board.
(Remember: prior to running the College Board, you will recall, Coleman served as chief architect of the ELA portion of the Common Core Standards. Coleman’s now working to alter the SAT to match his creation, the Common Core. Surely Huston has a role to play in that. David Coleman, Todd Huston and Aaron Osmond, are each influencing governmental education policy despite the fact that they work for these educational business companies.)
Will we file this information under ”Things that must be exposed and changed” or just “Things that make you go hmmm”?
It’s more than corporate aggression that comes into play. The organizations (Pearson, and now Coleman’s version of the College Board) hold extreme philosophical positions that many are uncomfortable with.
For example, Pearson pushes the idea of having not just every state, but every country using the exact same educational standards, and Pearson pushes public-private-partnerships, which means having business and government collude over education policy and funding. These ideas are promoted in the very public speeches of Pearson’s CEA, Sir Michael Barber.
Meanwhile, Coleman, the College Board president, pushes for the minimizing of classic literature and mocks narrative writing– and he doesn’t do it politely.
These people are not educators. They are businessmen– setting education policy.
I remember watching Senator Osmond, in a Senate Education Committee meeting last summer when Ted Rebarber and Jim Stergios testified that Common Core was set to harm Utah education. Senator Osmond was visibly agitated by their testimonies, and said that “the train had left the station” concerning Common Core, and he said that people should stop talking about the problems with Common Core.
His company sells Common Core implementation products. It wouldn’t do for him to side with Rebarber and Stergios, would it?
This two-hat wearing circumvents the American process of representative government. We trust our leaders to be objective enough to weigh options openmindedly. Someone whose paycheck comes from education technology and testing can not possibly be objective. Osmond, Huston and others in similar career paths should not be in roles of education policy making over a state.
We should question the financial and philosophical motivations of our education leaders. We should not allow the niceness of these individuals to wilt our resolve to make sure we are doing what is actually right for our children and not harming our educational system irreparably.
RECLAIM EDUCATIONAL LIBERTY
Many people –including bipartisan U.S. groups and freedom fighters in other nations– are working to save educational liberty. We are waking up to shake off the chains that have settled over education.
Please leave a comment if you know of updates to this chart.
Interesting. In the same month, both President Obama and Utah’s Sen. Aaron Osmond are pushing to get more toddlers in the arms of the government. Are they concerned for the well-being of the little ones? Then why are they doing this? Why does government desire to hold our babies while we work?
Two reasons: both titled “human capital.”
1. HUMAN CAPITAL. Government sees toddlers as property. Socialist-styled governments increasingly are using the term “human capital” to refer to the people they plan to feed, work, tax, and yes, teach. They want to imprint upon their capital their ideas and values as early as possible. Yes, it’s creepy. But it’s no secret; it’s very openly admitted and promoted. “Education for all” (UNESCO’s term) has now become “Preschool for all” (Obama’s term.)
2. HUMAN CAPITAL. Government sees mothers (or fathers) as property. The socialist-styled governments are increasingly hoping to redistribute the parents; if a parent is highly educated or trained, it is not in the best interest of those who view those parents as human capital to “allow” them to be home, raising children, when they could be serving the government in other ways. It is a basic choice that is being taken away from a parent when the government financially or in other ways, incentivizes the leaving of babies in daycare so that the adults will work and be taxed.
Think I’m making this up?
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s speech: “Improving Human Capital in an Competitive World– Education Reform in the United States” here:
Then read Sweden’s Mireja Institute’s sad “lessons learned” on the topic, here: http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso
We are not the government’s human capital. We are free human beings, children of God.
Let’s not be asleep while our leaders turn our society into a socialist/communist styled nanny-government nation and manipulate our babies out of our arms.
Recognize the wrong-minded, popular notion that socialism is good, that government is the ultimate provider, and that individual families are inept caretakers for their own offspring. This should be taken as false doctrine in any church, in any family, in any reasonable mind. Government can never provide a thing; it can only forcibly take from you to redistribute to me, or, forcibly take from me to redistribute to you. But government is not a provider– it’s only a forcible redistributor.
I believe these words on the subject, from Ezra Taft Benson:
“It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.
“We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence.
“It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character.
“Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness.”
Today’s string of interesting emails
(between my State School Board representative, Dixie Allen, and me)
On Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 7:45 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
There is some very informative information in this weeks Ed Week – Thought you might gain some valuable insight – if you have time to check it out.
Thanks again for including me in your loop.
Were you aware that Ed Week, like so many organizations that promote Common Core, is a Gates’ product?
I can’t take Ed Week seriously because it is published by Gates’ funding and its articles support his unelected-dictatorial influence over American education policy.
Christel – that saddens me because most of their articles are written by educators and of all the participants involved in education – I trust teachers, students and parents most.
I also believe it is important to keep an open mind.
Openmindedness is great, but sincerity does not trump truth. Teachers and parents have written articles on both sides of the Common Core debate. I hope you listen to all of us, not just those published by Gates. There are some teachers and parents whose side of this story has been published elsewhere, because Gates will never publish the side that hurts his well-intentioned but unrepresentative agenda.
Yes Christel, I do — however, in Utah where we are the lowest funded state in the nation by a long shot for per student expenditure, it would be so costly to throw out the Core curriculum that we have adopted and try to put in place another curriculum — especially the way we have developed curriculum over the past many years I have been in education (over 30 years).
The way we have created core standards over time is to bring teachers and other educators together from all over the state and decide which standards work in specific curricular areas and grade level expectations. By adopting the Common Core we upgraded all the curriculum by grade level for both Language Arts and Mathematics. Up until that time our State ranked about a C in Language Arts curriculum and a B for our Mathematics curriculum. So the issue of rewriting the curriculum is just not economically possible for this state — the best we can do is take standards that we know work and change those that we don’t believe will work.
When a state like Utah funds education at such a low level, there are many parts of the educational process that we must borrow from others who have the funding to develop them. In some cases that has been other states, that allowed us to use some of their identified quality education practices — so you may be right that those with lots of money have influenced this core — however, I know from experience that our State Office and many experts in the fields of educational mathematics and language arts were really the ones who wrote the standards — not the Bill Gates of the world.
Please, in conjunction with your fellow educators who have concerns – share those concerns with us or the State Office of Education and allow us to work on improving what we can with the little funding we do have now and over time. But don’t ask us to throw out the Core, because we cannot afford to do that, either in time or money.
Thanks for your passion.
Thanks for continuing to talk with me.
As you know, Utah districts are funded primarily by local taxpayers, then some by the state, and then a small fraction of funding comes from the federal government. So, the fact that the people who pay the most have the least say, and the people who pay the least have the most say, is absurd. I’m sure you agree.
We can’t afford NOT to toss out the core. Although we have invested tens of millions (at least) in the tests and standards and PD so far, this is a drop in the bucket. California and Mississippi and other states are publishing news articles about the painfulness of having to implement all Common Core’s platforms without having the financial support from those who invited us to join Common Core. It’s a huge burden that will only become heavier with time.
The cost of creating our own Utah standards need not be exorbitant. In fact, I can almost promise you that it could be FREE. Many of the top curriculum and standards writers in our nation are on the stop common core side of this debate. ELA standards have been posted and published for free, for use by us or any state, for example, here: http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/Stotsky-Optional_ELA_standards.pdf
Math standards, I am sure would also be available for free if we were to ask, from such giants in the math and curriculum fields as James Milgram, Ze’ev Wurman, Christopher Tienken, William Mathis, Jim Stergios, David Wright, and others who are true friends to education and to Utah.
The CCSSO/NGA have published that they solely developed the standards, so I don’t know how any Utahns can claim to have done it.
The CCSSO meetings are closed-door without transparency for some reason, so there is no way that we will ever be able to find out who really did what. Nor can we influence what they’re doing with social studies and science right now. Nor can we amend the many problems we see, and/or that teachers and parents will be seeing over the next few years. By then it may be way too expensive to pull out.
That’s why I feel the time is now. Thanks for listening.
Robert Scott was the Texas Commissioner of Education when Common Core rolled into town on the Race to the Top grant application train.
In this video, he says many important things. None are more important than his opening, where he states that his experience with the Common Core started: ”when I was asked to sign on to them before they were written. I was told I needed to sign a letter agreeing to the Common Core and I asked if I might read them first, which is, I think, appropriate and I was told they hadn’t been written but they still wanted my signature on the letter. And I said, ‘That’s absurd; first of all I don’t have the legal authority to do that because our law requires our elected state board of education to adopt curriculum standards to be done with the direct input of Texas teachers, parents and business. So adopting something that was written behind closed doors in another state would not meet my state law.”
This is an extremely important testimony for anyone weighing the decision of remaining tied to Common Core rules, or breaking free.
Stop Common Core
Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013
A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.
In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.
There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.
It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.
One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.
But this is changing dramatically.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.
Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.
Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.
The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.
The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.
COMMON CORE HISTORY:
The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.
Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.
In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions 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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.
He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.
The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.
We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.
Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.
States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.
We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.
Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis
One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.
While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.
But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.
Gulliver’s Second String:
The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems
The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.
Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.
I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?
The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.
There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?
So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.
The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.
We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.
Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All
The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.
Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.
Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.
I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”
Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.
There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.
So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:
Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing
The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.
There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.
Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.
Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.
Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.
Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:
David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation
The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.
Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.
It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.
Does this differ from actual book burning?
It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )
David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ 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.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
• No more cursive.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.
Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math
The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.
Gulliver’s Seventh String:
Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights
• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)
Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.
Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy
The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.
But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.
When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html
While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)
In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.
I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”
The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )
Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:
Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.
Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.
We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.
The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.
Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.
Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.
There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.
We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.
Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it. Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.
Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
—– —– —–
Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert 801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov
State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: email@example.com“
Utah State Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Superintendent: email@example.com
Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov
Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035
Stuart C. Reid firstname.lastname@example.org“
Patricia W. Jones email@example.com
Mark B. Madsen firstname.lastname@example.org“
Wayne L. Niederhauser email@example.com
Aaron Osmond – firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard A. Stephenson email@example.com
Jerry W. Stevenson – :firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen H. Urquhart – email@example.com
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used. –Used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families. I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further being “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html While John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
But first, an interjection: I want to introduce this article: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/your-students-privacy/
I like this article because it exposes the facts plainly, that parents are unaware that their children’s information is being shared without parental permission, beyond the school, beyond the district, and even beyond the state. It is verifiable and true.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names and income, is being watched by the U.S. government via schools.
Verify for yourself: The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind…
These databases (State Longitudinal Database Systems, SLDS; also, P-20 and state data combinations such as the Utah Data Alliance) are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized,” according to alterations made to FERPA (Family Education Privacy Act) regulations by the Dept. of Education.
These now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate snoops (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for examples) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (behavioral qualities, dna, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )
This is a nightmare of Big Brother in action, except it’s not a fiction. You can verify it all on the government’s own public sites, such as:
States would not get stimulus money if they didn’t agree to build the SLDS system.
So they all agreed. All.
I happened to ask the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply “No.”
No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are and will be tracked.
I ask you, dear readers, to turn your feelings about this intrusion toward positive action.
Call your governor.
If you are from Utah, Governor Herbert is here 801 538-1000 and here: http://demo.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html
Public feeling and individual actions are the only, only chance we have to alter the course we are currently traveling.
I wish the media and the politicians in my dear state would fully wake up and see Common Core for the education disaster that it is.
I thought Utah was a pretty wise, pretty constitutionally-grounded state, as a whole. And I used to assume Massachusetts –Pappa used to call it “Tax-achussetts” –was practically in Europe as far as socialism and lousy ”progressive” thinking goes.
But now I wonder if some folks in Massachusetts are smarter than many folks in Utah –for loudly exposing the fallacy of Common Core, which is supposed to benefit, not retard, American education.
I’m thinking now about editorials. I see some very smart ones coming from Massachusetts. But do I see clear thinking, common core-questioning, stop-in-your-tracks editorials (like the Boston Herald piece I’ve reposted below) coming from Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News?
“Massachusetts eighth-graders are entitled to congratulations for their outstanding performance on the 2011 version of the Trends in International Math and Science Study examination. But adults should not expect such excellence under the state’s embrace of the dumbed-down “Common Core” national curriculum standards.
A sample of Massachusetts students, competing as a separate country, placed sixth among 63 entrants in math, and second only to Singapore in science.
The Massachusetts test-takers spent six years studying math and science under the rigorous standards adopted as a result of the 1993 education reform law that required passing the MCAS test to graduate from high school. This created the kind of momentum that clearly bolstered the TIMSS results. The squishy “Common Core” standards adopted in 2010 have not had time to undo that yet.
But just look at the new math standards. Students are not expected to be able to use the common algorithms for arithmetic operations, which are barely nodded at. They are expected instead to reason or intuit their way to answers and discover “principles.” While 12-year-olds struggle with this process, better left to high school or college, they miss a lot.
The state still gives an MCAS test, but the Common Core organizers expect to produce a new test for 2014, which should be based on the 2010 curriculum standards. “I find it hard to believe that adopting lesser standards would lead us to expect that we would improve,” commented Michael Sentance, secretary of education under Gov. Bill Weld.
The state’s new secretary of education, Matthew Malone, a veteran of four years as superintendent of the Brockton school system, ought to rethink the dumbing down of what had been high standards.”
Now that’s a significant editorial on state education.
If you live in Utah, please come to this informational meeting about Common Core at the Provo Library next week.
Have you seen what’s happening over in Bluffdale? The building is called NSA. National Security Agency. (Or, Never Say Anything)
A new KSL article quotes William Binney, a Washington whistleblower, saying Utah’s new NSA is “a serious threat to civil liberties.”
Binney, who worked for the NSA for 32 years and still lives by the secure headquarters near Baltimore, says the NSA can dice billions of emails, phone calls and Internet records, looking for clues to terrorist plots. –But it also can, and does, snoop on citizens.
When Binney worked for NSA, Binney’s team had smartly built into the software some sophisticated protections so that communications by U.S. citizens would be protected from NSA snooping. But the NSA passed over his citizen-protective system, for an unexplained reason.
Binney retired in anger. According to KSL, Binney said:
“It didn’t take but probably a week or so after 9/11 that they decided to start spying on the U.S. domestically, on all U.S. citizens they could get.”
He now suspects the facility in Bluffdale will be used to store communication data so the NSA can sift through it, whether it’s from foreign terrorists or law-abiding U.S. citizens.
So I think this: the NSA, I’m sure, has legitimate duties, like ferreting out terrorist plots against innocent Americans. But I’m also very sure its doing some inappropriate data snooping. Where are the checks and balances? Who’s watching the watchers?
The NSA is very tight-lipped and secretive.
But there are others who aren’t secretive about their data-gathering goals.
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, comes to mind. He’s always making speeches about the importance of increasing data-gathering efforts to have “more robust databases” to “increase accountability” to the federal agency.
John Brandt of Utah comes to mind. He directs the Utah Data Alliance’s mashing of data from six Utah agencies using taxpayer money and Utah State School Board approval
. He’s got a powerpoint that explains how he’ll then share this data from schools to USOE and Utah higher ed and then to the federal Department of Ed. He won’t return emails from me or my friends on the subject of data collection. And he works for the NCES (federal research agency) as well as working as Utah Director of Technology. He’s not going to be making speeches about federalism.
Even David Wiley, BYU Professor, comes to mind.
He told me that he feels it’s “totally appropriate” for researchers and governments to conduct research on students without getting parental consent because the importance of the research and the logistical difficulties of getting parental consent trump the rights of parents.
This scares me.
Who’s protecting our civil liberties, our privacy and our parental rights?
The lack of public outcry concerns me. But I think it’s mostly based on people simply not knowing. Or not considering the ramifications of the path we’re moving down.
Some of my own friends who I’ve brought this matter up with, say, “Who cares if they’re tracking us? I have nothing to hide.”
Maybe not from God. –But from theives, stalkers, hackers, or people who are happy about communism? We must keep private things private.
There are reasons we have locks on our doors and walls others can’t see through. There are reasons for books like “1984″ and the other George Orwell and Ayn Rand classics.
Privacy is a sacred freedom. When governments know everything about everyone, people become cattle, prodded and controlled by the all-knowing agencies “who know best”. Hackers and stalkers and thieves can get government jobs and can get access to the private data of citizens, if there aren’t protections in place.
Could Sweden have enforced their anti-homeschooling law if they didn’t have absolute name, number and address tracking on every citizen?
Could China have enforced mandatory abortions under the one-child-only law if they didn’t have absolute knowledge of the medical and family records of every citizen?
Could governments separate children from parents to fulfill the Olympic dreams of that government, if the government was not tracking the physical traits of even tiny children?
There are endless ways people can abuse having access to citizens’ private data.
Surveillance on citizens is a dangerous, slippery slope.
And why won’t even the Utah State Office of Education discuss it? Why is this so under the public radar?
I think I know.
It’s called “spiral of silence” theory.
Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann wrote the ”spiral of silence” communications theory to explain how atrocities come to pass in civilized societies.
Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, the German political scientist, explained how Jews’ status became so widely agreed upon, during World War II under the Nazi control. Hitler dominated the whole society and the minority Jews became silent due to the fear of isolation or separation.
The one view dominated the public scene and others disappeared from the public awareness as it adherents became silent. People feared separation or isolation from those around them, so they kept their attitudes to themselves when they felt they were in the minority. This process is “Spiral of Silence”.
If a teacher doesn’t like the data collection that’s happening on students, or a board member, or even a state-level leader is not satisfied with the decision, the one person does not express the thought publicly. Why?
1. They may feel unsupported by the others on the school, state or federal level. Peer pressure.
2. Fear of isolation or job loss
3. Fear of rejection (adult popularity contests)
4. They may try to save a job by suppressing or avoiding personal statements in public.
Until many of us speak out and speak up, the spiral of silence will grow. The perceived majority belief –that most people somehow agree with all this student and citizen data collection and the new norm of NOT asking for parental consent, and the communist-style common core implementation (without a vote) –will grow if we are quiet. Nobody will stop its implementation, and it will take over as the new norm if we are quiet.
This is why I speak up. This is why I ask you to research for yourself, and then speak up.
I believe more of us are against this (once we understand what it is) than there are those for it. It’s creepy and must be stopped.
SLDS means: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems.
SLDS is a citizen tracking program, and a grant program, that rewards states financially for participating. It’s also called P-20, which stands for preschool through age 20 (workforce) tracking. I see citizen tracking as creepy and Orwellian. What do you see?
The federal website shows, here– http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html — that SLDS was presented as a financial prize to states, a grant, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It sounded good, but in reality, its purpose –besides the uneven redistributing of taxpayers’ money– is to track citizens (students).
The assumption was that everyone everywhere would approve of citizen tracking and would want to be tracked. A secondary assumption is that the government’s holding detailed, intimate information about its citizens would never be used against anybody wrongly, and that none of this has nothing to do with constitutional rights to privacy. (For more on that, click here: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/rightofprivacy.html )
I highlighted the first element of data to be collected because it speaks about PII, personally identifiable information. PII can be a name, a social security number, a blood sample, handwriting sample, a fingerprint, or almost anything else. The fact that the government included “except as permitted by federal/state law” is VERY significant because the federal Department of Education did the dastardly deed of changing federal privacy law, known previously as the protective, family-empowering, FERPA law. The Department of Education did this without Congressional approval and are now being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for doing it. But as it stands now, FERPA has been altered and won’t be put back to its formerly protective state. So parental rights over children’s data, and parental consent rules, have been cast aside. –All in the name of getting lots and lots and lots of data available, whether with malignant or benign intention, especially for federal use.
Here it is, pasted directly from the government site and available in English or Spanish:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: $250 million
Type of Grant: Competitive
The program provides grants to states to design, develop, and implement statewide P-20 longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.
Since it started in fiscal year 2005, the program has awarded grants worth $265 million to 41 states and the District of Columbia. The Recovery Act competition requires that the data systems have the capacity to link preschool, K-12, and postsecondary education as well as workforce data. To receive State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, a state must provide an assurance that it will establish a longitudinal data system that includes the 12 elements described in the America COMPETES Act, and any data system developed with Statewide longitudinal data system funds must include at least these 12 elements. The elements are:
- An unique identifier for every student that does not permit a student to be individually identified (except as permitted by federal and state law);
- The school enrollment history, demographic characteristics, and program participation record of every student;
- Information on when a student enrolls, transfers, drops out, or graduates from a school;
- Students scores on tests required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act;
- Information on students who are not tested, by grade and subject;
- Students scores on tests measuring whether they’re ready for college;
- A way to identify teachers and to match teachers to their students;
- Information from students’ transcripts, specifically courses taken and grades earned;
- Data on students’ success in college, including whether they enrolled in remedial courses;
- Data on whether K-12 students are prepared to succeed in college;
- A system of auditing data for quality, validity, and reliability; and
- The ability to share data from preschool through postsecondary education data systems.
Tonight at 6:05, I’ll be on the Morgan Philpot show as a guest, speaking about this important issue and all its many tentacles, including the E.P.I.C. lawsuit against the Dept. of Education, the statements on data-mashing by Utah’s John Brandt and D.C.’s Joanne Weiss, letters I’ve received from the USOE on the subject of student tracking, and what we can do about it.
Tune in if you live nearby. KNRS.
States Starting To Rebel Against Common Core Standards
–Reposted Sept. 27, 2012 from Donna Garner, Texas Educator, at http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/
Although the Common Core national standards have been accepted in 46-1/2 states, implementation is going slower than advocates had hoped. One group of states actually introduced legislation to withdraw from the Common Core or disapprove the standards, others have failed or refused to pass the legislation necessary to fund or align them with state tests, higher education or professional development and still others are doing more formal reviews of either cost or curriculum. In all, nearly three-fifths of the states that have accepted the Common Core fall into one of these groups. Please read on to find out what you can do both to stop the further implementation of the Common Core in your state as well as what you can do to stop the nationalization of education.
| Although education has not been a front burner issue in this election cycle, there is some evidence that word about the dangers of and problems with the Common Core national standards, about which we have warned you for a long time, is slowly getting out. In addition to Education Liberty Watch, the group of academics, policy makers and individuals that developed and gained over 100 original signatures on a counter-manifesto against the Common Core, The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Truth in American Education, teachers, parents, and policy makers are working hard to educate and to protest this loss of autonomy, local control and academic rigor. Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in interviews on Fox News and the Mike Huckabee show pointed out the constitutional and academic dangers of the Common Core in his new book Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities. In it, he said:
The core of the hard-left’s education agenda – a program shared by Obama, Ayers, and Darling-Hammond alike – has three parts: 1) a politicized curriculum that promotes leftist notions of “social justice,” 2) reducing ”disparate outcomes” between students in different districts by undercutting standards, and 3) a redistribution of suburban education funding to less-well-off urban schools. Achieving these goals on a broad scale requires the federal government to usurp local control of K-12 schooling.
Obama is half-way there.
How did he do it? Instead of submitting his controversial education proposals to Congress and kicking off a vigorous national debate, Obama quietly marked $4.35 billion of federal stimulus spending for his Race to the Top education initiative. Since the stimulus bill was rushed through Congress with barely any debate on economic policy, much less education, Obama never had to go public with his plans.
By coordinating with outside groups not accountable to the voters, like the deep-pocketed Gates Foundation, the White House then orchestrated the creation of a national Common Core of education standards, with an accompanying curriculum and tests.
Supposedly, these standards have been voluntarily adopted by more than 40 states. In fact, by effectively conditioning eligibility for Race to the Top grants on participation in the Common Core, the Obama administration has forced economically pinched states to surrender control of their school curricula to the federal government. Cleverly, states have been pressed to sign on to the Common Core before the actual standards, curricula, and tests are revealed in a second Obama term. The entire scheme is arguably both illegal and unconstitutional. Yet it is moving forward, and the public knows virtually nothing about it.
In addition, state legislators and governors are also starting to respond to this unconstitutional federal takeover of education curriculum. According to the states listed or not listed on this comprehensive review table by Daniel Thatcher of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the breakdown of how states are dealing with the Common Core is as follows:
- Twelve of the 46-1/2 states and Washington DC (Minnesota has accepted the English and reading standards) or almost 25% have actively sought through legislation to withdraw from, disapprove, require legislative input or other negative measures regarding the Common Core. Four of these measures were enacted.
- The strongest of the four measures that passed was enacted in Utah which allows the state to withdraw from any kind of arrangement that cedes Utah’s control over its own standards and curriculum.
- Indiana enacted a resolution to urge a state board review of the CCSS.
- Kansas requires a cost analysis and formal review before implementation
- South Dakota implemented a requirement of four public hearings before enactment of the standards.
- Other states had bills disapproving or rejecting the Common Core or future adoption fail in the legislature (Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington)
- Minnesota’s bill to require legislative approval of new standards passed both chambers of the legislature but was vetoed by the liberal governor.
- Four other states have required a formal review of the curriculum or cost analysis. (California, Iowa, Maryland, and New Mexico).
- Twelve states (Alabama*, Arizona, California*, Hawaii, Indiana*, Kansas*, Minnesota*, Missouri*, New Jersey, New Mexico*, Pennsylvania, and Vermont), including seven on one of these other lists (*), have rejected, either by failure in the legislature, by gubernatorial veto, or by failure to introduce a bill, any legislative implementation of the appropriation, enabling, or alignment of the Common Core in their states.
- Five other states (Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) and Washington DC were not listed in the review as having even introduced any kind of Common Core related legislation at all in 2012.
That brings the total to twenty-six out of forty-six and one half states that have accepted them or 56% who are rejecting or showing some kind of hesitancy or concern with implementing these unconstitutional, illegal and dumbed down, politically correct standards and their accompanying tests. This is very important good news for state and local autonomy, academic excellence, constitutionality and state budgets It is also very important for the the maintenance of private and home schooling as viable alternatives to government education. (More new details on the dangers to private school autonomy via the Common Core and how the Romney education plan affects this issue will come next week. In the meantime, please see Imposing a Federal Curriculum on Private Schools – Why Voucher Programs that Require State Tests Are So Dangerous)
After speaking at Phyllis Schlafley’s Eagle Council along with Education Liberty Watch’s Dr. Karen Effrem, The American Principles Project’s Emmett McGroarty, and Heather Crossin, the Indiana mom who led the rebellion against the Common Core in that state, Kurtz wrote more about the problems with the Common Core and the coming parental revolt in National Review Online:
Crossin has successfully galvanized Indiana’s tea-party groups into fighting the Common Core. It’s a taste of what’s going to happen across the country once Obama’s new national school curriculum hits the ground. Angry parents like Crossin will be multiplied many times over, and they won’t just be making funny protest videos. They’ll be marching on state legislatures and giving the federal government an earful as well.
The resistance to the Common Core seems to be following the same state level resistance or inertia that is happening with the health insurance exchanges that unless stopped will serve as the implementation portals for the life robbing, health endangering, tax increasing and economy wrecking mandates of Obamacare.
It is therefore critical to make education freedom part of the consideration as we choose not only a new president, but members of Congress, governors, and state legislators. Please do not be shy about asking candidates where they stand on the implementation of the Common Core and what they will do to stop it at both the state and federal levels. If officials or candidates are not interested in discussing the lack of constitutionality or terrible quality of the standards, remind them that Common Core implementation cost estimates vary between $16 and $60 BILLION dollars that will not be available from the federal government given current debt levels of $16 TRILLION dollars and the state deficits that many states have accumulated. Please also consider a generous donation to Education Liberty Watch as we join with groups and individuals across the nation to try to stop this other major usurpation of rights. The future ability of our children to be the thinking, reasoning citizens that will know how to maintain our heritage of freedom depends on being able to stop this Obamacare for education gambit. -Donna Garner
In his presentation to the United Nations last year, Sweden’s Jonas Himmelstrand did some mythbusting about the “joys” of Swedish socialism.
Here’s the short version: http://www.mireja.org/Resources/110603_un_new_york_handouts.pdf
Here are the long versions: http://www.mireja.org/Resources/110603_haro_un_paper.pdf
Dear Utah Leaders,
I am writing to ask you not to promote the government-run preschool bill further. This preschool issue is keeping me up at night. Literally.
Why? I think about the borderline-poor moms –as I have often been– who will say, “Well, preschool is free, so I guess I better put my baby in the preschool and go make money.” It makes my heart ache. That is no kindly favor from the government. That is a temptation that most parents will not choose to resist.
It will push them to leave their children to go to work.
I am praying that you will take the time to listen further to Jonas Himmelstrand http://www.mireja.org/articles.lasso
and to analyze how Sweden went from good, helpful intentions (based on someone’s version of research, as always) –to a point where parents are being disenfranchised from children via the “helpfulness” of the government.
I’ve been reading “A Patriot’s History of the United States.” Great book. I read that when the U.S. government decided to give money to single mothers, long ago, to be helpful, guess what happened? People stopped getting married, of course. So children went fatherless, literally, because of the “helpfulness” of the government; the temptation for that money was too great for people to resist. And it mostly impacted black families, who were economically more disadvantaged. It perpetuated the cycle of trouble for black families; fatherlessness led to children growing up troubled and in jail; more single moms, more fatherless kids, more poverty. No help at all.
I’ve also been in contact with Jonas Himmelstrand. His writings ring true. They make sense. They are profoundly different than the studies and reasoning that is bringing Utah legislators to consider adding free government preschool for at-risk children.
I appreciate that the government has good intentions. But if they are not based on correct principles (limiting the involvement of government, rather than increasing it) the intentions will backfire; it is only a question of how long it takes to backfire.
Putting at-risk babies in government preschools is not a good idea. Those families need strengthening, but not by being tempted to separate from those with whom they need the strong attachment bonds.
Encourage mothers to stay at home with their children. Don’t tempt them to go to work and drop off their kids. Could you use the money to create jobs for moms that they can perform from home, instead? Could you use the money to pay grandmothers to do the daycare if the moms have to work, at least? I’m sure there are solutions other than creating Swedish-styled free government preschool.
- - - - - - - - - -
So, after doing more reading today, I wrote the legislators another letter on the subject:
The following research sharply contradicts the research that has previously been presented in the Legislative Education Interim Committee meeting regarding the wisdom of providing early preschool for at-risk children.
While there is little debate about whether academic performance is enhanced for preschool attendees generally, it is found that behavioral problems, self-control problems, motor skill trouble, aggression, illness, worse parent-child relationships, and other disadvantages arise from early preschool attendance.
We must not assume the proposed Utah preschool bill is good in the short or long term, especially not for at-risk children.
Jonas Himmelstrand of Sweden, who provided me with the research, is an international consultant, speaker and author. He has consulted for the 2011 EU Child Wellbeing Workshop in Brussels, the 2011 UN World Expert Group Meeting in New York, the Institute of Marriage and Family in Canada, the Hungarian Presidency Conference, the Conferenza Famiglia in Italy, the FamilyPlatform Conference in Lisbon, and the Forum Europeen de Femmes in Brussels. He is also the chairman of the board of the world’s global home education conference. He suggested that I share this research with you.
Himmelstrand finds that Swedish children do not suffer from material poverty but from emotional poverty, attributed to too much separation from parents at too early an age.
His charts on the envisioned outcomes versus the actual outcomes of the Swedish model are astonishing. The envisioned model planned to increase academic success, to even out social class differences, and to liberate mothers, for example. The actual model resulted in serious discipline problems in school, national school rating –going from top to average in 30 years– plummeting quality in day care, high rates of sick leave, especially among women; deteriorating psychological health in youth, and deteriorating parental abilities, even in the middle class.
See pages 2 through 4:
He also directed me to the research done by others on this subject:
Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?
NBER Working Paper No. 10452 Issued in April 2004 NBER Program(s): CHED
Prekindergarten programs are expanding rapidly, but to date, evidence on their effects is quite limited. Using rich data from Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, we estimate the effects of prekindergarten on children’s school readiness. We find that prekindergarten increases reading and mathematics skills at school entry, but also increases behavioral problems and reduces self-control. Furthermore, the effects of prekindergarten on skills largely dissipate by the spring of first grade, although the behavioral effects do not. Finally, effects differ depending on children’s family background and subsequent schooling, with the largest and most lasting academic gains for disadvantaged children and those attending schools with low levels of academic instruction.
Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being
NBER Working Paper No. 11832 Issued in December 2005 NBER Program(s): CHPE
The growing labor force participation of women with small children in both the U.S. and Canada has led to calls for increased public financing for childcare. The optimality of public financing depends on a host of factors, such as the “crowd-out” of existing childcare arrangements, the impact on female labor supply, and the effects on child well-being. The introduction of universal, highly-subsidized childcare in Quebec in the late 1990s provides an opportunity to address these issues. We carefully analyze the impacts of Quebec’s “$5 per day childcare” program on childcare utilization, labor supply, and child (and parent) outcomes in two parent families. We find strong evidence of a shift into new childcare use, although approximately one third of the newly reported use appears to come from women who previously worked and had informal arrangements. The labor supply impact is highly significant, and our measured elasticity of 0.236 is slightly smaller than previous credible estimates. Finally, we uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to motor-social skills to illness. Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships.
http://www.nber.org/papers/w11832 – Full text
Finally, Himmelstrand directs us to study the findings of the Canadian Institute of Marriage and Family.
This research includes a psychological explanation of why early formal learning is harmful to children, and offers some public policy advice: http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/nurturing-children-why-early-learning-does-not-help
The Institute says:
There are some elements of public policy being discussed that would help undo the damage of current trends. Family income splitting allows parents to share their income and pay a lower tax burden. More money in parents’ pockets always means more choices. While the federal Conservatives made this a policy plank in the last election, they watered it down by saying they’d only institute family taxation when the books were balanced, possibly in 2015. Ending the preferential treatment of non-parental care by funding families themselves would make a dramatic difference.
For Dr. Neufeld, the capacity for healthy relationships is meant to unfold in the first six years of life. “It’s a very basic agenda,” he says. “By the fifth year of life if everything is continuous and safe then emotional intimacy begins. A child gives his heart to whomever he is attached to and that is an incredibly important part….The first issue is always to establish strong, deep emotional connections with those who are raising you. And that should be our emphasis in society. If we did this, we would send our children to school late, not early.”
I hope this is helpful to you.
Jonas Himmelstrand, Swedish education-freedom author, who was a guest on the Morgan Philpot radio show today, has recommended this article, wherein Dr. Gordon Neufelt explains why, rather than following the Swedish socialist model of preschool for the very young, children are better served when they start attending school later.
Nurturing children: Why “early learning” doesn’t help
Children should start attending school later, not earlier, Canadian development psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld reveals. “Early learning” programs for young children have no benefits for kids, he adds. So why are governments running down the opposite track?
August 30, 2012 | by Andrea Mrozek, Manager of Research and Communications, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada
“I want to make sure that my son learns how to get along with others,” one parent will say. Another will add, “My daughter is shy. I want her to be with other children, to help her come out of her shell.” A third might enthusiastically report that her child loves all her friends at daycare: “She can’t wait to go and spend time with them!”
These are just some of the things parents say when it comes to the benefits they see in the social settings that pre-schools, daycares and all-day kindergarten provide. Parents are rightly concerned about whether their children get along well with others.
However, is it true that early interaction with peers improves socialization for young children? Canadian developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld says this is not the case, particularly in sending young children into “social” environments before they are ready. 
The word socialization can mean different things to different people.
With regards to small children, Dr. Neufeld clarifies one thing that socialization is not: “Probably the greatest myth that has evolved is this idea that socializing with one’s equals leads to socialization.”
Developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner also clarifies what socialization is not: “It should be clear that being socialized is not necessarily the same as being civilized. Nazi youth were also products of a socialization process.” 
Socialization in childrearing means rendering children fit for society so that children can grow and mature into becoming contributing adults, who can respectfully interact with others in community, be it at work or home, with colleagues, family and friends.
Successful socialization is of particular interest where reports of bullying hit the media with some regularity. 
For Dr. Neufeld and his colleagues at The Neufeld Institute, socialization is more complex than simply being able to get along well with peers.  Socialization involves being able to get along with others while at the same time being true to oneself.
Getting there from here
Dr. Neufeld describes a teacher who is unable to express her views for fear of causing conflict. Picture a staff meeting, where this teacher chooses to stay silent rather than disagree. This may create the appearance that she is “really nice,” and able to get along well with others—something she may well tell her students to do as well. The reality is she may be unable to hold on to her own identity in face of conflict.
Constantly agreeing and being nice may, in fact, be immaturity in disguise. “You have to be separate enough so you can be with your equals without losing your distinctiveness,” says Dr. Neufeld.
He adds that someone who always “gets along” may not be able to handle diplomacy without a loss of integrity. If this form of mature self-expression can be hard for adults, how much more difficult is it for children?
“Premature socialization,” says Dr. Neufeld, “was always considered by developmentalists to be the greatest sin in raising children ….[w]hen you put children together prematurely before they can hold on to themselves, then they become like [the others] and it crushes the individuality rather than hones it.” 
A is for “attachment”
One of the issues with large numbers of little people in group care settings is the issue of peer orientation. This means having small children attach to their peers, rather than to adults.
The concept of attachment, developed primarily by psychologist John Bowlby, denotes the instinct that causes adults to care for children and children to receive that care. Successful early attachment is necessary for adult emotional development. In Bowlby’s words, attachment is the tendency “of human beings to make strong affectional bonds to particular others.” 
As humans, we are highly sociable creatures. But we identify some relationships as being higher priority, and are very particular about who takes that position.  It is through these connections that we develop a sense of self. 
And importantly, our high priority attachment figures (aka the people we see the most of and really love) are intended to be enduring. These are not people who should disappear from our lives, neither are strong attachments something small children should “grow out of.” 
This is one reason why daycare employees can never imitate the potent power of the parent: A job is a job, and employees change cities or jobs with some regularity.
Helen Ward is the president of a non-partisan, grassroots group called Kids First Parents Association. She highlights how attachment and socialization work together. “In order for children to grow up into the mature adults we desire them to be, they have to spend time with adults they are attached to, not their own likewise immature peers.” She goes on: “This means that if we take the attachment figure away—through death, illness, distractions, daycare, or any disruption in attachment relationships—and replace it with peer attachment – puff – the kid will be a ‘lord of the flies’ type because the seemingly ‘socialized’ behaviour is simply copying, it is not ‘inside’ yet. It is developing, but can just as well ‘undevelop.’” 
If parents aren’t aware of this, they may interpret negative developments as positive. The three-year-old who can’t wait to be with his friends in daycare may in fact be on his way to becoming peer rather than parent attached, because being attached makes us want to be with those we are attached to.
The problem is that the more children are peer attached, the less attached they are to adults—and this can result in children becoming very hostile to being parented or taught.
When small children spend too much time with their peers, they will imitate the features of those they see around them. Dr. Neufeld speaks of a “flatlining” of culture as a result. “We have a children’s culture of today. In Europe, there is a crisis, which is that youth are not integrating into mainstream society and people believe it is happening in North America as well.”
The question might also be whether they are integrating into a newly mainstream culture that is not altogether mature. “Children have become fit for a society that does not reproduce itself and does not contribute to the larger society as a whole,” says Dr. Neufeld. 
Diversity—creating it, respecting it and allowing it to flourish—is one of today’s most popular buzzwords, something to which we pay lip service. However, the early placement of children with as-of-yet undeveloped personalities in group daycare for long hours, when they aren’t able to “hold on to” their own special, unique personalities creates sameness, not individuality.
This is, in many instances, one of the reasons parents might choose to delay entry to school. In fact, for much of Canada’s history, children did not attend so-called “early learning programs;” school started at age six.
Ironically, some who advocate for homeschooling do so in order for proper socialization to occur. In Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization, author Richard G. Medlin highlights how healthy socialization does happen for homeschoolers, writing “home-schooled children are taking part in the daily routines of their communities. They are certainly not isolated; in fact, they associate with—and feel close to—all sorts of people.” 
Another researcher, Larry Edward Shyers, compared homeschooled children with those in traditional schooling for his PhD thesis at University of Florida. He found that with regards to self-esteem, there was no difference. 
The problem with children socializing at school, Ward says, is that children can be fickle in their friendships. “Kid’s ‘friends’ are not really ‘friends’ in any meaningful sense of the word. They are not mature people who can handle another’s pain or difference of opinion. Peers want you to be the same as them,” says Ward.
The result is less individual expression and less personal growth, she concludes.
Crushing the spirit of childhood
Back in 1988, child psychologist David Elkind wrote The Hurried Child, saying, “we are going through one of those periods in history, such as the early decades of the Industrial Revolution, when children are the unwilling victims of societal upheaval and change….Today’s child has become the unwilling, unintended victim of overwhelming stress.” 
Elkind worried that children are increasingly being treated like mini adults. In childhood as a replica of adulthood, daycares and pre-schools put children under academic pressure. Child sports teams have pro uniforms and poor peewee players are sidelined. Children’s clothes have an adult look about them. If this was Elkind’s problem some twenty years ago, the situation today is not much changed.
More evidence that the smallest of children are being subjected to adult standards is the Early Development Instrument (EDI).  Under the auspices of improving child outcomes, the EDI asks teachers to answer a host of entirely subjective questions about a child’s proficiency physically, academically and emotionally and then chronicles how and where children are “behind.”
Activists use this flawed research to lobby for more early learning programs for younger ages. In Ontario, for example, a special advisor to Premier McGuinty desires to create schools as hubs, where children can be dropped off all day, possibly all year, to attain greater “school readiness.” 
When Francois Legault, of the Coalition for Quebec’s Future recently proposed that secondary school should follow work schedules, running from 9 am to 5 pm, some found it provocative.  The reality is that many grade schoolers in before and after-school care already experience adult working days, and the same could be said of a toddler in daycare. Children’s lives are scheduled down to a T, with little free time to just be kids.
Why the anti-child direction?
The reasons for this are varied. However, a big one is the current trend in public policy which creates pressure for all parents to have full time jobs. As a result, labour force attachment trumps parent-child attachment. Canada’s below-replacement birthrate means we are constantly searching for more employees. Having both parents work full-time is entirely reliant on putting their children in some form of standardized care, hence the reation of subsidized daycares. 
This has little to do with child development. The problem is that once centre-based care is preferentially funded and the cost heavily tax-subsidized, it creates an incentive for parents to use it. At that point, parents no longer truly have a real choice. They can’t assess the unique needs of their own children because their lives have been set up around two parents at full time jobs.
When asked what are the gains from early learning for small children, Dr. Neufeld simply replies: “I don’t think there is anything to be gained except parental emancipation. And certainly not parental fulfillment. That’s a totally different issue.” 
What to do?
Dr. Neufeld emphasizes that who parents are to their children matters more than what they do. 
This research is not intended to panic parents whose young children are in all-day care. However, it is wise to understand why your children are there. Some parents put their children in care for the express purpose of socializing them; this is not a researched reason to do so.
For parents whose children must be in care, it would be wise to confirm that the “early learning” is limited exclusively to playing in an environment of adult attachment.  Sometimes it is parents themselves who put pressure on teachers to provide “educational content” to younger and younger ages. When the “report cards” come back and show poor grades, this creates further anxiety in parents who now believe their children are behind.
Parents should eschew the creation of any kind of one-size-fits-all system. This is the sort of system that governments try to create—to “help” each and every family. By definition, these environments are less personal and more distant from parents. Even the local primary school may not, in fact, be the closest thing to the home environment for small children, if for example, a neighbour next door wants to take in additional children on top of her own, and that neighbour is known to the parents and the child.
For far too long, this form of high quality care for kids has been labelled “unregulated,” by those who strive to create school-based daycares with unionized employees. Facing a lack of criticism in the press, “unregulated” has come to be known as “dangerous.” But Helen Ward points out that all parents are “unregulated,” and this alone is not cause for concern. Parents need to inspect all care from top to bottom—whether government-regulated or not.
There are some elements of public policy being discussed that would help undo the damage of current trends. Family income splitting allows parents to share their income and pay a lower tax burden. More money in parents’ pockets always means more choices. While the federal Conservatives made this a policy plank in the last election, they watered it down by saying they’d only institute family taxation when the books were balanced, possibly in 2015. Ending the preferential treatment of non-parental care by funding families themselves would make a dramatic difference.
For Dr. Neufeld, the capacity for healthy relationships is meant to unfold in the first six years of life. “It’s a very basic agenda,” he says. “By the fifth year of life if everything is continuous and safe then emotional intimacy begins. A child gives his heart to whomever he is attached to and that is an incredibly important part….The first issue is always to establish strong, deep emotional connections with those who are raising you. And that should be our emphasis in society. If we did this, we would send our children to school late, not early.” 
- This article is based on an interview with Dr. Gordon Neufeld on May 18, 2012. Dr. Neufeld is a developmental psychologist and the co-author of the 2004 national bestseller Hold on to your kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers.
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (1970). Two worlds of childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, p. 2.
- For greater understanding of how to stem the bullying tide, see Simon, L. (2012, July 18). Empathy: An antidote to bullying. Ottawa: Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Retrieved from http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/empathy-antidote-bullying
- The Neufeld Institute can be found online here http://www.gordonneufeld.com/
- Personal communication with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, May 18, 2012.
- Green, M. and Scholes, M. (eds.) (2004). Attachment and human survival. London: Karnac, p. 7.
- Ibid, p. 8.
- Ibid, p. 37.
- Ibid, p. 8.
- Personal communication with Helen Ward, August 21, 2012.
- Personal communication with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, May 18, 2012.
- Medlin, R. G. (2000). The home education movement in context, practice, and theory. Peabody Journal of Education, Vol. 75, No. 1/2, pp. 107-123.
- Bunday, K.M. (2006). Socialization: A great reason not to go to school. Retrieved from http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html
- Elkind, D. (1988). The Hurried Child. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc, pp. xiv, 3.
- The EDI questionnaire can be viewed online at http://earlylearning.ubc.ca/media/uploads/publications/edi_bc-yukon_2012.pdf
- Pascal, C. (2009, June). With our best future in mind. Implementing early learning in Ontario. Report to the Premier, Government of Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.ontario.ca/en/initiatives/early_learning/ONT06_018865
- Quebec’s Francois Legault wants schools open from 9 to 5. (2012, August 9). The Canadian Press. Retrieved from http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Quebecs+Francois+Legault+wants+kids+stay+school+until/7063972/story.html
- For more on concept of schools as community hubs, see Pascal, C. (2009, June). With our best future in mind. Implementing early learning in Ontario.Report to the Premier, Government of Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.ontario.ca/en/initiatives/early_learning/ONT06_018865
- Personal communication with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, May 18, 2012.
- Denis Friske, D. (2012, January 16). Moments of connection with our children. The Neufeld Institute blog. Retrieved from http://www.neufeldinstitute.com/blog/2012/01/moments-of-connection-with-our-children/
- Laucius, J. (2012, February 4). All work and no play is not good for the developing brain, says psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. Ottawa Citizen, p. J3. (Helen Ward also points out that “child led” or “free play” can in fact mean even less interaction for children with adults, as staff will simply provide toys and ensure that no child is physically hurt.)
- Personal communication with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, May 18, 2012.
Permission is granted to reprint or broadcast this information with appropriate attribution to the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.
I gave the speech below, at the Heber City council meeting tonight, asking the council not to adopt Communities that Care, right after three state employees gave speeches encouraging the city to adopt Communities That Care.
http://youtu.be/YtecukxKAhY (Click to watch the video of the presentation)
Please write our city council here:
I also shared the actual youth survey itself with them:
– and the “availability-of-firearms-as-a-risk-factor-for-behavior-problems” page from the CTC pdf available online here:
10 Reasons Not to Adopt Communities That Care (CTC)
1. We know so little about the obligations of joining this coalition. The general public cannot get online access to read the grant itself. But what is it, really, other than $10,000 of our federal taxes returned to us?
I used to write grants professionally, full time, for a consortium of charter schools in Utah County. As a grant writer, I learned that federal grants are extremely bureaucratic and agenda-driven. I learned to apply for private grants from local corporations instead.
Grants are not Christmas presents or free money without strings attached. Grants come with obligations. What are the CTC obligations? Has Heber City had a professional grant writer or lawyer assess the application’s obligations fully? I suggest Heber refrain from “getting married” to CTC, this federally operated coalition, before we “date” it thoroughly.
The question is not whether or not some Heber City youth have serious problems that need our help. (We do have great programs in place already that we are underutilizing; I’ll address them llater. ) The question is whether we want/need the federal supervision and lack of flexibility that always comes with federal money and “free training.”
2. University of Kansas has done a study of the pros and cons of CTC. Citing Univ. Kansas:
- CTC is a copyrighted, structured process. It was previously private, owned by the Channing-Bete Corporation, but has been sold to the federal government.
- University of Kansas calls the CTC approach “only inclusive and participatory for certain people,” and notes that
“While it claims to involve the whole community, the formal CTC approach is actually top-down, starting with a small number of “key community leaders.” These leaders who may or may not be representative of the whole community in terms of race, socioeconomic class, or interests – then “invite” other participants “from all sectors” to make up a community board of 30. The reality is that they’ll usually invite people they know, who are apt to be much like them and may not represent the true diversity of the community.”
Especially in a large community, it takes research to know whom to include, and 30 may be too small a number to be truly representative of all sectors. Furthermore, some sectors – youth themselves, for instance, or single parents on welfare – are unlikely to be included unless specifically targeted by the process. And if the “key community leaders” see themselves as leading the process, its participatory nature can go out the window.
-CTC allows the choice of only a finite number of approaches. University of Kansas found that “CTC’s claim of allowing communities the freedom to devise their own solutions is only partially accurate. Communities can create combinations of interventions that speak to their needs, but only from a limited pool of choices. “
…”On the one hand, it presents…the security of set curricula … On the other, it can limit the possibilities for creativity and the use of local wisdom that might arise if there were more freedom of choice and the chance for the community to craft its own program.”
- “Choosing from among best practices may encourage communities merely to follow directions, rather than throwing heart and soul into the effort. Though it simplifies the process, it’s an intervention that’s laid out for the community, rather than built from the ground up… “
-CTC is narrowly focused. CTC “implies taking a small-picture view of community health and development, and not necessarily planning for the long term or for the whole community. If the ultimate goals are as narrow as reducing one or more of the problem behaviors, they can give the impression that reaching those goals “fixes” the problem and the community. If the goal is the end of the process, there’s no community commitment to long-term social change. And long-term social change is usually needed to fully solve community problems.”
- “CTC is, to a certain extent, based on assumptions. While the theory behind it and the best practices have been subject to a fair amount of research, the program has only been shown to be effective in the short- to mid-term range. Long-term data have not yet been collected.”
- “CTC is sold as a package that includes literature, training, and support. While there are some obvious advantages to this, it also means that there can be less flexibility in the model than might be desirable… whether they’re the most appropriate or effective possibilities for the community or not.
Moving on from University of Kansas, I have made the following observations about some additional disadvantages of CTC:
3. CTC is owned by federal government; it makes us beholden to mandates and rules set by bureaucrats far from Heber City, long after the grant money has been spent.
4. CTC will require ongoing solicitation of federal funding or finding other grantors or raising of taxes to continue.
5. CTC adds a layer of bureaucracy and government salary.
6. CTC asks for archival and ongoing data to be collected and shared with the federal government. There may be serious data privacy concerns for some Heber citizens.
7. Most concerning of all to me is blind acceptance of the values embedded in the CTC training and youth surveys. They appear in some instances to indoctrinate with collectivism, and with specific biases that do not match my own, or may not match your own. (See youth survey questions.)
For example, on the risk factors page, it places drug abuse and alcohol abuse and availability of firearms in the same category, all labeled as risk factors for behavior problems. In Heber, a lot of teenagers shoot guns but they aren’t in gangs; they’re hunting deer or recreationally shooting targets. There’s a disconnect there. I quote two cited risk factors: one,
“Availability of firearms: Statistics show that the more available firearms are in a community, the higher the violent crime rates tend to be, and, conversely, fewer firearms in a community is correlated with lower violent crime rates.” [Yikes. Where do they get those nutty statistics? Ask a Swiss citizen!]
Community laws and norms favorable to drug use, firearms, and crime. “
–In the same sentence! Drugs, firearms and crime. Some are norms in Heber, some aren’t. That’s not going to give us accurate data. Nor will it give our kids the message we want to send them about firearms. Is it?
Another example. I quote this from CTC itself: “…The ideal here… is one where the community speaks with one voice about values and standards.” That sounds extremely collective. We should have many voices heard in our community. Not one. That’s always been the American way. Because if there’s only one voice, who gets to speak? Who gets to set those standards for our children– the federal government, or the people of Heber?
There’s also an “innocence alert” issue. What happens when very young children are exposed to these types of questions? Sometimes, that’s their first introduction to deviant behavior and it could have the opposite effect on some children of creating curiosity. On the youth survey, there are specific questions about drugs which would require a child to know the difference between prescription drugs and illegal drugs that I don’t even know.
I quote from the drugs cited in the youth survey. Do you know which of these are which? : adderall, LSD, peyote, psychedelics, PCP, ecstasy, vicodin, oxycontin, tylox, xanax, valium, ambien, methamphetamine, crank, meth, crystal meth, etc. And are you going to ask a 10 year old these questions?
One question there was how often the child had “Used prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall without a doctors’s orders during the past 30 days?”
The question did not allow the child to say “I used it but it was actually 31 days ago,” or “What the heck is Adderall?” We can write better questions that are more appropriately crafted.
8. Examples of questions from the youth survey:
- What are the chances you would be seen as cool if you a) smoked cigarettes b) began drinking alcoholic beverages regularly c) smoked cigarettes d) carried a handgun [umm… Shouldn't this at least be an essay question? Should guns and alcohol both be in the same question? ]
- –Used derbisol in your lifetime? [what the heck is derbisol and how do I mark a multiple choice quiz to say huh?]
- We argue about the same things in my family over and over. [what a question. Is there any family in the world that never has a disagreement? What is the point of asking whether the disagreements vary or are about the same things? We should write our own survey at the very least, and make it essay based.
9. There are some very controversial issues surrounding bullying-prevention workshops. And bullying prevention workshops are sponsored by CTC. See http://www.communitiesthatcarecoalition.org/
To many this seems noncontroversial, but in fact, in many places, anti-bullying legislation has been used to promote gay lifestyle acceptance via the protection of gays from bullying above any others who may be bullied. This may be an unfair bias, and carefully worded surveys may produce student results that try to legitimize what is actually a political agenda, not an agenda of equal compassion for all groups.
10. Under-utililizing our current resources – Heber City is overflowing with churches, schools, 12-step groups and other resources that stand ready to deal with youth problems.
Families and extended families
Heber City police
Church youth programs in many denominations
Long established 12-step groups
The WHS Cool To Care program
Wasatch District schools’ guidance counselors
Scouting and sporting programs
I spoke this week with the facilitator of one of the valley’s 12-step groups. He told me the groups have very small attendance for people of any age and need to be promoted. The groups welcome all religions, all ages as long as a parent attends if the addict is under age 18, and have separate groups for men and women. They have groups several times a week for groups that include sex addiction, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse.
Utah’s First Lady has been campaigning for EmpowerParents.Org, a Utah coalition designed to help parents learn how to keep their children from underage drinking. The organization gives parents resources
Groups that have joined and support EmpowerParents.Org include
Northeastern Counseling Center
Bear River Health Department
Four Corners Behavioral Health
Tooele Valley Mental Health
Summit Valley Mental Health
Utah Substance Abuse and Anti-Violence
Weber Human Services
Larry H. Miller
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
The Power In You
Utah Dental Association
Salt Lake Police Dept.
Salt Lake County Sanitation
Utah Attorney General
–and many more
In closing, here are a list of questions we must answer before we move forward with CTC:
1. What will be our ongoing our obligations to the federal government for accepting the $10,000 and how will we pay for the program when the money runs out?
2. Do we want to use our current resources better, or do we want to add a layer of bureaucracy to implement this program, and then pay for that layer indefinitely, regardless of whether the program “works” or not?
3. Do the values embedded in the youth survey align with our own; for example, how do gun control, homosexuality, and family privacy issues come up in CTC?
4. What will be Heber’s ongoing “accountability” for the CTC program to the federal government, if it accepts the grant rather than paying for CTC ourselves?
5. Are there better, less expensive, more autonomous or higher quality alternatives Heber can choose to use, to work on youth drug use prevention and other important youth issues?
6.What will be the up-front and ongoing-maintenance costs to Heber City for adopting CTC?
7. How will the privacy of data be assured?
Let’s use our local resources.
Heber City Mom
According to the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above, five Utah school districts are applying for Race To The Top funds. Granite, Ogden, Provo, Morgan and Washington County school districts are applying for tens of millions of dollars each, to be accepted directly from the U.S. Department of Education in exchange for making certain federally-determined ”reforms.”
Nationwide, the Tribune states, 893 districts are applying, but only 15 to 25 will win the grants.
If the rules of the district Race to the Top grant game are the same as the rules were for the states’ Race to the Top grants, then even those applicants who do not win the grant money will still have been “reformed” in ways pleasing to the Federal Department of Education. (For example, when Utah applied for, but did not win, its original Race to the Top grant, it made policy changes to enhance its eligibility toward winning. It adopted Common Core standards. It joined a testing consortium. Today, Utah has dropped its consortium membership but it still hasn’t dropped Common Core, and students are paying the price for the mediocre standards that slow down math learning, eliminate cursive, dramatically diminish classic literature, homogenize what college and career readiness standards used to be, yet go by the self-appointed title of “rigorous” college prep.)
Contrary to popular belief, grants are not “free money.” They come with rules, mandates, requirements, and legally binding chains created by the grantor.
The Dept. of Education’s decision, to dangle the carrot of Race to the Top for districts, is particularly alarming to many Texans. Texas was one of the few states independent-minded enough to reject joining the Common Core movement. But today, 64 Texas school districts are applying for the Race to the Top for districts, effectively creating the federal dependence for many districts which Texas had worked hard to avoid as a state.
Donna Garner, Texas educator, explains:” On Jan. 13, 2010, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the former Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced their decision that Texas should not enter the statewide Race to the Top competition for $700 Million because they knew the federal strings attached to the money would require school districts to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative.Not to be deterred, the Obama administration and Sect. of Ed. Arne Duncan came up with a “work around” so that the RTTT funds (requiring schools to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative) could be sent directly to the local school districts in spite of being blocked by the state agencies.Unfortunately, local Texas school administrators are ignoring the dangers of the federalstrings and are salivating over the federal funding. Nationwide, there are 893school districts (and other eligible entities) that have indicated their intent to apply for the RTTT’s $400 Million “workaround.” The deadline for these entities to file their formalapplications is Oct. 30, 2012.
This is what happens: Even though most of these local entities do not have a chanceto receive the RTTT federal funds, the applications themselves end up driving school district decisions.
School administrators know their schools’ grant applications will not have a chance ofbeing accepted unless the districts can prove the federally desired changes are already in place (or well on their way to being implemented) in their districts; therefore, the administrators, acting like little robots, configure their districts to match the USDOE’s agenda. They swear to do such things as implement the Common Core Standards, base teacher evaluations upon student improvement on the CCS assessments, and collect the personally intrusive information on students, parents, and educators that is required for the national database.
Thus, the USDOE ends up nationalizing the public schools without ever giving the districts the RTTT grant funding. Entire states such as California applied for the statewide RTTT funds in 2011 andreconfigured their school district policies to match the USDOE’s application requirements; but in the end, California found out that their state was notselected to receive the RTTT grants. The same outcomes will occur with the RTTT’s direct-to-school funding. Many locals will implement the USDOE’s changes but will not receive the RTTT funds.
The“carrot and stick” used by the USDOE – RTTT federal funds:
[The arrows mean “lead to.”]
National standards → national assessments → national curriculum → national teacher evaluations with teachers’ salaries tied to students’ test scores → teachers teaching to thetest each and every day → national indoctrination of our publicschool children → national database of students and teachers
Please go to the following links to read more about the Common Core Standards Initiative:
3.26.12 — “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals” — http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/View.aspx
9.14.12 – “Nationalized Public Schools Almost Here in America” – http://educationviews.org/nationalized-public-schools-almost-here-in-america/
ACTION STEP: Parents and taxpayers, please take the time to go to administrators and school board members in your district and demand that they not apply for these RTTT grants nor make any of the changes that the USDOE applications require schools to make to get the funds.”
I am writing to second Renee Braddy’s attached email. As you are aware, a lawsuit is in full gear right now between the Department of Education and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which alleges that the Department of Education overstepped statutory authority by redefining terms and loosening parental consent law in the federal FERPA regulations; remember, federal FERPA laws have not been altered by Congress. Nor has state FERPA law been altered. These oversteps by the Dept. of Education are illegal under GEPA law and under the U.S. Constitution.
If the Utah board supports this illegality, they will be held accountable under the Utah Constitution as well.
More importantly, the core issue here is that student privacy, a civil right, is being shoved aside to further empower federal and corporate forces in the nonconsensual access to private academic and nonacademic data. Let’s do the right thing.
———- Forwarded message ———- From: Renee Braddy
Dear State School Board Members,
I just reviewed your agenda for today’s meeting and I amvery concerned about the action item regarding data. On line 213 where the document is referring to studentinformation, it reads that it will be released in accordance with the FERPA, 34 CFR 99-31. This is the new regulation that went into effect Jan. 3, 2012 and was written by the US DEPT of ED and DID NOT pass through the US congress. This regulation is currently being challenged by EPIC in a lawsuit. Ithink it would be wise to have our children’s data dispersed in accordance withFederal LAW 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, not the regulation.
There are LOTS of concerns with this new regulation and I believe it would be a BIG mistake to pass this rule change without further study. Please DO NOT vote for this, but rather please table the item for further discussion.
I have extensively study the new FERPA regulation due to anincidence in Wasatch County. This new regulation literally turns the FERPA law on its head and DOES NOT protect our children’s personal information. This is a very serious matter.
It further states online 216 that such responses may (not SHALL) include:
1. de-identified data
2. agreements with recipients of student data where recipients agree not to report or publish students identities (the way I read this is that this is personally identifiable student data– otherwise there wouldn’t have to be an agreement to protect it, right?)
3. release of student data, with appropriate binding agreements, for state or federal accountability or for the purpose of improving instruction to specific student (this would mean that personally identifiable student data is being released with parental knowledge).
6. Board Committee Meetings
ACTION: R277-487 Public School Data Confidentiality and Disclosure Tab 6-L
R277-502-8 EducatorLicensing and Data Retention -
Comprehensive Administration of Credentials for Teachers in Utah
R277-484-9 Data Standards – Disclosure of Data for Research
(Amendment and Continuation for all)
And when I click on the tab for more info. Is this really what I think it is and they are changing the rules to come into compliance with the FERPA Regulation?!?!? Someone, please help me if I’m off on this. If it’s underlined, does that mean it’s being added to the rule?
187 R277-487-6. Public Education Research Data.
188 A. The USOE may provide limited or extensive data sets
189 for research and analysis purposes to qualified researchersor
191 (1) A reasonable method shall be used to qualify
192 researchers or organizations to receive data, such asevidence
193 that a research proposal has been approved by a federally
194 recognized Institutional Review Board (IRB).
195 (2) Aggregate student assessment data are available
196 through the USOE website. Individual student data are
198 (3) The USOE is not obligated to fill every request for
199 data and has procedures to determine which requests will be
6200 filled or to assign priorities to multiple requests. The
201 USOE/Board understands that it will respond in a timelymanner
202 to all requests submitted under Section 63G-2-101 et seq.,
203 Government Records Access and Management Act. Infilling data
204 requests, higher priority may be given to requests that will
205 help improve instruction in Utah’s public schools.
206 (4) A fee may be charged to prepare data or to deliver
207 data, particularly if the preparation requires originalwork.
208 The USOE shall comply with Section 63G-2-203 in assessing
210 (5) The researcher or organization shall provide a copy
211 of the report or publication produced using USOE data to the
212 USOE at least 10 business days prior to the public release.
213 B. Student information: Requests for data thatdisclose
214 student information shall be provided in accordance with the
215 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 34 CFR
216 99-31(a)(6); such responses may include:
217 (1) individual student data that are de-identified,
218 meaning it is not possible to trace the data to individual
220 (2) agreements with recipients of student data where
221 recipients agree not to report or publishdata in a manner
222 that discloses students’ identities. For example, reporting
223 test scores for a race subgroup that has a count, also known
224 as n-size, of less than 10 could enable someone to identify
225 the actual students and shall not be published;
226 (3) release of student data, with appropriate binding
227 agreements, for state or federal accountability or for the
228 purpose of improving instruction to specific student
Ted Rebarber with James Stergios at Utah’s Capitol
James Stergios kindly provided this copy of the testimony he gave last month to education committee legislators in Salt Lake City.
Testimony to the Utah 2012 Education Interim Committee
by James Stergios
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I thank the co-Chairs of the Committee, Senator Howard Stephenson and Representative Francis Gibson, for the opportunity to provide testimony to the Committee.
My name is James Stergios, executive director of the Boston-based think tank, Pioneer Institute. Pioneer Institute has produced the most analytic work on the Common Core in the country, with multiple peer reviewed published reports on their relative quality, cost, and legality. In doing this work we have taken no funding from interested parties, and we have commissioned the reports from the most highly qualified scholars and experts in the country.
Our motivation is the same as yours: We care deeply about our children and this country’s future, and want to prepare our students to compete internationally and to be citizens in a free society characterized by strong state and federal institutions.
My testimony presents four concerns about the Common Core national standards and assessments, which are fully derived from empirical analysis:
1. The quality of the Common Core standards is mediocre and aims for community college-level.
2. The implementation of national standards and assessments limits Utah’s ability to innovate.
3. The promotion of national standards and assessments by the federal government is illegal.
4. Utah has adopted the national standards and assessments without adequate deliberation.
It also makes suggestions for actions by the Utah legislature.
First, the quality of the Common Core is mediocre and aims for community college readiness. Pioneer Institute has conducted four independent evaluations of the national standards, comparing them to states that have or had high standards. In every case, our experts found Common Core to be of lower quality. The Common Core English Language Arts standards suffer from many technical shortcomings, such as their lack of coherent grade-by-grade progressions through high school. But the problems are larger than that. As Dr. Stotsky’s testimony underscores:
Common Core’s standards for English language arts are neither research-based nor internationally benchmarked… To judge from my own research on the language and literature requirements for a high school diploma…, Common Core’s ELA standards fall far below what other English-speaking nations or regions require of college-intending high school graduates.”
In fact, that is the main reason that [Stotsky] and four other members of the [Common Core] Validation Committee declined to sign off on Common Core’s standards.
Nor is there evidence to support the idea [embedded in Common Core] that having English teachers teach more information reading (or literary nonfiction) and less literary reading will lead to greater college readiness.
Let me underscore three points here:
- First, the Common Core ELA standards are not authentic academic standards; rather, they are empty skills standards. I would be pleased to elaborate on this important issue later.
- Second, Massachusetts’ remarkable rise on national assessments is not because we aligned our reading standards to the NAEP. Rather, it is because, unlike Common Core, our reading standards emphasized high-quality literature. Reading literature requires the acquisition in a compressed timeframe of a richer and broader vocabulary than non-fiction texts. Vocabulary acquisition is all-important in the timely development of higher-level reading skills.
- Third, English teachers are trained not to teach Federal Bank reports, or computer and other manuals. They are people steeped in the love of language and literature. Asking an English teacher to teach one of Microsoft’s software development manuals is really not going to work out well.
Common Core’s math standards also suffer from a lack of coherent grade-by-grade progressions, but they too have deeper problems. Common Core’s standards for Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II are not demanding and reflect a less than rigorous definition of “college readiness.” Common Core’s goal of teaching Algebra I only in high school makes it at least one year behind the recommendations of the National Mathematics Panel and current practice among our international competitors. Common Core alarmingly replaces the traditional Euclidean foundations of geometry with an experimental approach to middle and high school geometry that has not been widely or ever successfully implemented at the middle and high school levels.
Stanford mathematics professor James Milgram, well known to Utah during its revision of its state math standards and also a member of the review committee for the Common Core math standards, considers the material covered in Common Core’s math standards by fifth grade to be “more than a year behind the early grade expectations in most high-achieving countries” and by seventh grade to be “roughly two years behind.” He says that the national math standards “are written to reflect very low expectations.”
As Stotsky notes in her testimony: Jason Zimba, lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, admitted at a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that passing a college readiness test in mathematics will mean that students in Utah or Massachusetts will only be qualified to enroll in a non-selective community or state college.
Former head of the Council of Chief State School Officers Gene Wilhoit’s insistence that Utah can add whatever it wants to the national standards is meaningless for two reasons: First, there may be no federal policing of the standards today, but there is ample evidence across many policy areas that the federal government often moves from “gentlemanly agreements” to mandates. Second, Common Core requires that states adopt the standards verbatim, with flexibility to add up to 15 percent to the content. However, the national assessments will not cover that additional material. As a result, no districts and no teachers will end up teaching the add-ons.
I know that Utah has removed itself from the Smarter Balanced consortium, but that begs the question: If you are not going to use the tests crafted by the national consortia and you are going to deviate as much as you want from the national standards, why have them at all?
Second, the implementation of national standards and assessments limits Utah’s ability to innovate. Any time a state education official seeks to change a strand in the standards or change the test, it will have to get support from the US Department of Education and 40-plus other states and jurisdictions. If a parent has an issue with the standards, you, as a legislator, will have no ability to help them. You will have to suggest that they call a federal 800 number and wait who-knows-how-long for an answer.
And just what does “innovation” mean when one actor (the federal government) controls the standards? What does innovation mean when there is no longer a competition to innovate among states?
States have led the way in education reform. We have made steady gains over time in a way that, frankly, is not seen from the federal government. Utah’s own state math standards were rated as at least as good as the Common Core math standards, as more clearly articulated and succinct by the Fordham Institute, one of Common Core’s biggest backers. You have done well with your standards—and you can do even better.
Third, the promotion of national standards and assessments by the federal government is illegal. Writing in a paper entitled The Road to a National Curriculum, former USDOE General Counsel Kent Talbert and Deputy General Counsel Robert Eitel write:
With only minor exceptions, the General Education Provisions Act (“GEPA”), the Department of Education Organization Act (“DEOA”), and the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (“NCLB”), ban federal departments and agencies from directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction, and instructional materials. The ESEA also protects state prerogatives on Title I content and achievement standards.
The Department has used discretionary grants to herd state education authorities into adopting national standards and tests. Talbert and Eitel contend that conditional waivers to NCLB offered by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have never been approved by Congress. Past secretaries of the federal department of education have granted waivers, but never with a unilateral, material change to federal law. Moreover, the recent announcement of a new round of Race to the Top for districts includes the advancement of Common Core. Finally, the two consortia receiving over $300 million in federal funds include in their funding applications explicit recognition that they would develop curricular materials and instructional practice guides.
These two distinguished attorneys note that the US Department of Education is therefore likely violating the aforementioned three federal laws.
While Secretary Duncan’s statement in a letter of March 7th to Superintendent Larry Shumway that the State of Utah has “complete control of Utah’s learning standards” may be true on paper (and given that date), Utah’s waiver from NCLB in June, potential impacts on future federal funding, and the announcement of a new round of Race to the Top for districts, all suggest that Utah’s complete control is much more tenuous than the Secretary’s good letter states.
Utah—and the country—are at a critical juncture, a decision point.
Finally, Utah has adopted the national standards and assessments without adequate deliberation. You, like legislators across the country, are only now debating this issue, after the fact, because Common Core was advanced as an end-run around state legislatures. When Race to the Top was announced in the depths of a recessionary 2009, the federal department emphasized that states adopting national standards would be viewed favorably in funding decisions. As Stotsky notes in her testimony:
… the Utah State Board of Education did not provide a full public discussion before it voted to move control of the curriculum from local school boards to a distant federal bureaucracy.
The USBE tentatively approved the standards two days after they were published (June 4, 2010) to make a U.S. Department of Education deadline of August 2 and then approved them on August 6, 2010.
They were not “thoroughly” vetted. Developing and vetting standards takes time. When states advance new standards, the process of holding public meetings and hearings, which includes developing and deliberating on various drafts, usually requires well over a year.
Not only did the federal government truncate its public comment and other important processes meant to uphold the public trust, but so did the Utah State Board of Education.
What the legislature can do.
The legislature has a role here because the board of education’s decisions on learning standards have an impact on the public purse. The legislature also has an interest in ensuring an open and public vetting of the standards. Our empirical work gives me confidence that, given a proper vetting, the legislature and the state board would agree that the Common Core is deficient in ways described above.
A handful of states have said “no” to Common Core national standards and tests. I urge you not only to say “no” to Common Core—which is a matter of prudence regarding the state’s future and its purse—but also to use the opportunity of this debate to move forward with positive improvements to Utah’s previous state math and reading standards and assessments. As Dr. Stotsky states in her testimony,
If Utah negates its adoption of Common Core’s English language arts standards, I volunteer to help Utah develop a first class set of ELA standards.
Her work helped guide Massachusetts from above average nationally to become the top-performing state in the nation. That is what Utah’s students deserve rather than mediocre national standards.
James Stergios is Pioneer’s Executive Director. Prior to joining Pioneer, he was Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Policy in the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, where he drove efforts on water policy, regulatory and permit reform, and urban revitalization. His prior experience includes founding and managing a business, teaching at the university level and in public and private secondary schools, and serving as headmaster at a preparatory school. Jim holds a doctoral degree in Political Science.
James Stergios is Pioneer’s Executive Director. Prior to joining Pioneer, he was Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Policy in the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, where he drove efforts on water policy, regulatory and permit reform, and urban revitalization. His prior experience includes founding and managing a business, teaching at the university level and in public and private secondary schools, and serving as headmaster at a preparatory school. Jim holds a doctoral degree in Political Science.
Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.
85 Devonshire Street, 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02109 | T: 617.723.2277 F: 617.723.1880 | http://www.pioneerinstitute.org
The last thing our struggling education system needs is for local school districts to become dependent on Washington for education funding, further centralizing school-level policies in the hands of federal bureaucrats.
RTT-D is an offshoot of the original Race to the Top (RTT), the Obama Administration’s $4.35 billion competitive grant program to states carved out of the “stimulus.” The DOE says the new district-level program will “help schools become engines of innovation”…
Concern about the Administration’s push to nationalize the content taught in schools across America through the Common Core State Standards led some states to pass on the original RTT competition. States like Alaska, Texas, and North Dakota have never applied for RTT grants. Under the new district-level competition, the feds will appeal directly to school districts, offering up millions in exchange for adoption of the White House’s preferred policies.
Applicant districts must agree to implement the four core components of RTT (common standards, teacher evaluations, data systems, and the Administration’s school turn-around model), and must secure school board and teacher union buy-in for their application.
The DOE notes that all school districts with more than 2,000 students are eligible to apply, including those districts in states that did not apply for RTT grants. While smaller school districts may pull together to apply for a grant, the 2,000-student minimum biases larger districts, making it unlikely that small rural school districts will be winners of one of the 15–25 grants that are awarded.
The Administration has demonstrated a pattern of circumventing Congress on key education policy issues. It set an arbitrary deadline for No Child Left Behind reauthorization, and when Congress (in the midst of a thoughtful debate about the future of the nation’s largest education law) failed to meet it, began offering strings-attached waivers to states that agreed to implement the White House’s education agenda. Now the Administration will circumvent states that have chosen not to apply for RTT grants and dangle up to $40 million each to districts willing to toe the line.
It’s another step in centralizing education control and a continuance of Washington-centric education policy that has burdened taxpayers, encumbered states, and failed students for the last half-century.
If you click on the link, prepare to be shocked.
It is a common core math book.
It models an absurd way to teach math. And it pushes a terrible, negative agenda.
You can find questions relating to serial killers, food shortages, population control, drug lords, infectious diseases, oil spills, and loneliness. You can also find dozens of questions that do not even remotely relate to mathematics at all but instead pushes collectivism, communal thinking and consensus.
diminishes by 4.5%. How many residents are left after the killer’s three-year rampage? HOW WILL YOU
instance of poor judgment on your part. At 22% interest per year, how much will you owe on a loan of
%5,000 after one year? What about after three years?
food supply is adequate for 4 million people (now) and is increasing at a constant rate adequate for an additional
0.5 million people per year. Based on these assumptions, in approximately what year will this country first experience shortages of food?
15. A student comes to school with the flu and infects three other students within an hour before going home. Each newly infected student passes the virus to three new students in the next hour. This pattern continues until all students in the school are infected with the virus…
Did anyone try to include that person? If not, why not? If yes, then how? What might you have done to help with the situation?
What has been your experience when someone in your group has made a mistake?
How do you think a group should handle mistakes by other group members?
Think of a time when you wanted to say something, or you did not understand something, but were too
afraid to say something. Describe the situation and why you did not say what you wanted to. How do you wish you would have had handled the situation?
discussions and how your preparation affects the grade your group receives?
I wrote this letter to our State Superintendent today. Do you think he’ll respond this time? He never has before. But hope springs eternal.
Dear Superintendent Shumway,
Although I have asked for a meeting with Carol Lear, with Judy Park, and with Brenda Hales, my requests have been turned down.
As you may know, I’m a Utah teacher with an up to date level II credential and a former English professor at UVU, and am concerned about Common Core nationalized education both for academic and liberty-based reasons.
I have tried to meet with your staff to discuss this in person. I would deeply appreciate a meeting to talk about these things, or a referenced, thorough email response to the following:
1. What proof can you offer teachers and parents that Common Core standards are not equalizing education within such narrow limits that they actually dumb down the expectations for 4-year college readiness to cater to career readiness and 2-year nonselective college readiness? People as diverse as Stanford’s Michael Kirst and Jason Zimba, Common Core architect, have addressed this issue but Utah has not done so on the USOE website or elsewhere.
2. Why is the board citing the retiring CCSSO leader Gene Wilhoit’s verbal assurances that “there’s no common core police” rather than believing what our state has committed to in writing, which is the federal government’s 15% speed limit on adding to the non-amendable standards, being copyrighted (by NGA/CCSSO) ?
Fact: We need to be able to add more than 15%. More than a year’s worth of math is missing for most grades, according to Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee. Speed limit on learning is set in stone at 15% in writing. Why is that okay with the Utah school board? Please explain.
3. It has been claimed that many teachers actually had input into the writing of the standards; yet no one I know, including myself, was ever asked to help write the national standards. And the copyright on the standards (held by NGA/CCSSO) states: NGA/CCSSO are the “sole developers” and sole owners, and “no claims to the contrary shall be made.” http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
4. Why was Common Core never piloted nor ever discussed in the public eye, with parents or teachers or legislators, before this transformative, experimental program was implemented across America?
5. How can Common Core avoid lowering standards for top-achieving students when “college and career readiness” means the exact same thing for 4-year college, 2-year college, and vocational school prep?
6. Why does Common Core diminish classic literature? What research supports this drastic change? What percentage of English Language Arts teachers and professors actually approve of this, or believe in the idea that this is increasing rigor and improving college prep? Do you know?
7. Common Core claims to improve international competitiveness. Why then is Algebra I introduced in 9th grade under Common Core, but it was previously introduced in 8th grade in most states and is introduced in 8th grade in the amazing Asian countries? Fact: Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation but dropped them to adopt mediocre Common Core. Massachusetts even tested independently as an independent country, and ranked extremely high –but before Common Core.
8. If it is true, as has been claimed, that Common Core is a state-led program, then why is the federal government incentivizing its adoption via grants (Race to the Top and Race to the Top for Assessments)?
9. Why is the federal government further incentivizing its adoption via No Child Left Behind waivers if there are no federal strings attached?
10. How can states afford Common Core in this economy? Utah, like most states, hasn’t done a cost analysis. Texas and Virginia did a cost analysis and both states rejected the offer to join Common Core. (Texas estimated a $3 billion dollar implementation).
11. Why can’t we have an open, referenced, well-publicized public hearing on common core with experts from both sides being heard in a non-confrontational, non-argumentative way?
The Granite District meeting was dominated by Ms. Roberts’ long speech, with only 2 minutes then given for hundreds of members of the public; and no experts were given time there from the opposition to common core side.
12. Why hasn’t the Longitudinal Database System and the P-20 student tracking system been made transparent to the public, so that parents who would prefer not to have their child and family tracked by the government, could choose to send their children to private school or homeschool?
Let’s talk openly about these issues, for the good of the students, the teachers, the taxpayers, the general public, and the cause of liberty as it applies to education under the U.S. Constitution.
Let’s reason with John Adams. In 1763, Adams didn’t know Utah would be facing the decision to reverse adoption of Common Core and reclaim local freedom over education, or not. But he did know this much:
- “…[A]s we know that ignorance, vanity, excessive ambition and venality, will, in spite of all human precautions, creep into government, and will ever be aspiring at extravagant and unconstitutional emoluments to individuals, let us never relax our attention… We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands… It becomes necessary to every subject then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly, a British, and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party virulence and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government, any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others, who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.”
Do some research. Don’t assume others’ claims and promises are correct or true, when they give no verifiable references. Even leaders (especially leaders) are subject to vanity, ignorance, ambition and unconstitutionality. Search for facts. Ask questions. Look for an application of Constitutional principles on new education reforms. Do they put the government above the parent? Do they put federal government above local? Do they sell something valuable for something temporarily sparkly? Be smart.
Learn what Common Core means to local control of standards, to Constitutional issues like representation and limited government power over people, to student math standards, to English standards, to taxpayer burdens, to data privacy, to parents worried about the speed and quality of what their kids are being taught, to parental consent issues. Common Core is much more than most realize.
Adams did speak to us directly:
- “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
Adams also said:
- “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live.”
Common Core Architect David Coleman’s idea was to cut classic lit and narrative writing so that schools churn out kids who can read and write computer manuals and infotext.
But how to live? That comes from stories. David Coleman is blind to the spiritual human need for stories. And he just got promoted to be the College Board President. Heaven help us all.
There are those who hold Sec. of Education Arne Duncan’s letters as if they were freedom-guaranteeing facts, as if the letters held any legal water in comparison to his mark on definitive documents states are really bound by: the Race to the Top Executive Summary, the ED website’s definitions pages, the ESEA Flexibility Waiver, the Cooperative Agreement.
I apply it to the USOE’s unreferenced
lie claim that Common Core makes kids “globally competitive” and gives more “rigorous” standards while all the while it’s homogenizing 2 year, 4 year and vocational college-readiness, (common for all) and while it slows Alg. I from 8th grade to 9th grade, and while it slashes cursive and classic literature. –Oh, and there are the little details called GEPA law and the U.S. Constitution, which Common Core kicks to the curb. And then there’s that little fact that the only math professor (James Milgram) and the top English Language Arts professor (Sandra Stotsky) refused to sign off on the standards when they served on the Common Core Validation Committee because the standards were not high. Truth and factuality are slung aside by Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and the Common Core troops.
Three more John Adams quotes for Common Core debate:
1- “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.” AMEN.
2- “I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” Yep.
3- “But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
Utah Takes First Step in Regaining Control of Education
by Lindsey Burke
Reblogged from Heritage Foundation – August 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm
When the fight for control over what is taught in American schools is won, Utah will be remembered for having fired the shot heard ’round the country’s classrooms and statehouses.
In a move that should inspire other state leaders concerned with the Obama Administration’s push to nationalize standards and tests through the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the Utah State Board of Education voted 12–3 to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), the national testing consortium the state joined as part of the its agreement to adopt national standards.
While Utah still plans to implement the standards in the coming academic year, it will now choose from among various testing companies to measure the academic achievement of students, divesting the state from the federally funded testing consortium. As Washington’s overreach creeps further into the nation’s classrooms, Utah has wisely taken a step away from further federal intervention into its schools.
After the Berlin Wall fell in the late 1980s, central planning was all but discredited throughout the world. The exception, Representative Rob Bishop (R–UT) notes, was in Washington, D.C., “where every bureaucracy has, since that time, doubled down to insist that central planning be done out of Washington with one-size-fits-all solutions.” Indeed, the central planning mentality continues apace with the push for national standards and tests. As the Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi points out:
The end result of President Barack Obama’s centralization schemes is loss of control by individual Americans. Under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office says that millions of workers will not be able to keep their current coverage. Under the president’s national standards-and-testing regime, individual parents will have less and less control over the education of their children and what takes place in the classroom.
Bishop argues that further centralizing education and nationalizing standards isn’t going to solve Utah’s education woes. “The only thing we haven’t tried to do,” Bishop notes, “is allow schools to be free. Go back to what has always worked: the free market. When people have freedom, they make better choices.”
Utah has now gained a little more of that freedom back and will be choosing from a market of testing companies. Hopefully the Beehive State will take that thirst for educational freedom a step further and exit the national standards bandwagon entirely.
— —– —– —– —— —— ——
Thank you, Lindsay Burke and Heritage Foundation.
There’s a meeting, open to the public, to be held in room 30 in the House Building at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. This meeting will be important, as heavy hitters will be speaking about Common Core issues:
Dr. Larry Shumway, Utah Superintendent of Schools, John Brandt, Technology Director, and Dr. Judy Park, Associate Superintendent, will be speaking.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, University of Arkansas, member of Common Core Validation Committee http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/stotsky.html
–and Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, will be speaking.
A G E N D A
Education Interim Committee – Utah Legislature
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 • 2:00 p.m. • Room 30 House Building
1. Committee Business
2. Flexibility Waiver
Utah is among the 32 states granted a flexibility waiver to replace the federal accountability system created under No Child Left Behind with its own state accountability system. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, schools will be evaluated based on a new state accountability system, and school performance reports will be issued this fall showing each school’s results under the new state accountability system. Committee members will receive a briefing on the flexibility waiver and the new state accountability system.
3. Utah Data Alliance and the State Longitudinal Data System
As a collaborative, multi-organizational partnership, the Utah Data Alliance seeks to enhance the quality of educational research and analysis in Utah regarding policies, practices, and programs by utilizing an integrated statewide longitudinal data system of individual, de-identified information. The Utah Data Alliance provides policy and decision makers research findings with the goal of improving education and workforce policy and practice. Committee members will receive a briefing on the Utah Data Alliance and the state longitudinal data system.
4. Report on Utah’s Core Standards and Participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
Dr. Shumway will report on a process for the State Board of Education to receive and consider proposed changes to Utah’s core standards for English language arts and mathematics. He will also report on State Board of Education action regarding Utah’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium.
5. Common Core
Dr. Stotsky, a member of the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, will testify on the common core standards. Mr. Robert Scott, Commission of Education of Texas, a state that has not adopted the common core, will express his concerns with the common core.
• Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas
• Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education of Texas
6. Other Items/Adjourn
Democrats, Republicans and others packed the Wasatch Bagel Cafe in Park City to standing room only last night in an effort to learn the pros and cons of Utah’s membership in the Common Core Movement. Common Core is a set of national standards and common tests that was initiated by states, is incentivized and promoted by the federal government, and is backed financially by private interest groups, largely by Bill Gates.
Wasatch Representative Kraig Powell, Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond, House Committee Chair Francis Gibbons, and Joel Briscoe, also of the Utah Legislature, led the meeting. None of the four vocalized a strong stand for or against the Common Core Initiative. Questions and comments by citizens generally addressed the questions of whether local autonomy and control over educational standards and good education would be available with Common Core.
Doctor and Park City citizen John Zimmerman said, “We don’t need the federal government in education,” and asked why the Common Core educational movement was involved with the federal government. Aaron Osmond responded that the movement did not start out being federally led but the federal government has taken advantage of the movement. Kraig Powell added that it’s as if we were headed down the road in a small car and the federal government came along with a faster car and we got in.
Representative Kraig Powell said that raising educational standards is an important and laudable goal. He said that he trusts people and feels that as long as there is plenty of public discussion, Utah will come up with something we can all live with. He voiced concern about the Department of Education’s use of “shall” language in the No Child Left Behind waivers that push states toward Common Core. He mentioned that there was a larger legislative turnout than he’d ever seen last month when four national educational experts spoke against Common Core at a legislators’ lunch and at another public forum. He emphasized that there must be lots of input and study so people’s voices can be heard. (Currently, few citizens know what Common Core is.) Powell also noted that just as Medicaid has put mandates on Utah which come with funding concerns many Utahns are not comfortable with, there is a concern that the same demoralization of teachers and the same costly requirements may happen with Common Core that were problematic with No Child Left Behind.
Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond said that the Utah Constitution allows the state school board a lot of power. He voiced a concern that we must preserve state sovereignty and the right to control standards in our state, saying, ”If we lose that, I concur that it’s wrong.”
Newly appointed chair of the Utah House Education Committee, Francis Gibson, said that both the pro and con sides of the Common Core have arguments that make sense. He liked the fact that the standards promised not to dictate curriculum and hoped there was a way to fix the low portion of the math segments of Common Core. He did not mention whether there was a way to amend standards under the common core contractual documents.
Representative Joel Briscoe said that his entire family, including himself, consists of teachers. While the Common Core requires students to read less literature, he felt that fact did not represent any lowering of standards. He addressed the fact that at the high school level, 70% of English language readings are to be informational text with only 30% being allowed to be classic literature readings. He supports the less-literature, more-informational text shift. He did not address Common Core’s shift away from narrative writing. He did not address the non-amendability of the reading and writing standards.
Heber citizen Anissa Wardell asked what the legislators’ stand was on data collection, including personally identifiable student information, to be gathered without parental consent, a concern connected to Common Core reforms. Kraig Powell responded that we have to ask ourselves whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the P-20 systems and/or private entities track a child from before kindergarten through college and work. He did not take a stand on the question.
All four legislators said they applauded the effort of the Utah State School Board in attempting to raise educational standards for Utah.
A Heber citizen, Anissa Wardell, contacted the Utah State School board to ask whether Utah can still get out of Common Core (and write our own standards, using University input, an option also known as ESEA option #2) –after the waiver deadline of September 6, 2012.
Rather than answering the question, state school board member Tami Pyfer told her constituent that there was no chance our state would get out of Common Core and then proceeded say that evidence proving that Common Core was free of federal strings had “been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times.” This is simply not true.
1. Most people don’t even know what the term Common Core even means, according to a recent poll by Achieve, Inc. (Do you? Does your neighbor? Do your teachers know– other than knowing there are different standards this year– do they know that the standards are under copyright, can’t be amended, dumb down college readiness to a lowest common denominator that matches vocational/tech schools, and they were never validated by the only math professor and were also rejected by the English professor on the official Common Core validation committee? Nobody knows these things. Why? Because the Dept. of Education doesn’t want them to know. They think that if they say “these standards are good” often enough, they’ll be good.)
2. The one and only public forum put on by the USOE about Common Core was held two years after the state school board signed us up for Common Core. That forum was at the Granite School District last spring. The first 45 minute speech, praising Common Core (without any documentation or evidence) was given by the USOE, followed by 2 minute testimonials from impassioned parents and teachers and politicians from both sides of the issue: hardly fair or thorough or timely. And nope, evidence was not shared there, to prove federal strings were not attached. (Incidentally, Professor David Wiley told this exact same lie, just as publically, when he was debating FERPA regulatory changes done illegally by the Dept. of Education this year.) The bypassing of the public and of legislators in pushing Common Core on us all, is something the proponents of Common Core are willing to lie about. Or do they really not understand? Have they really not seen the documentation of lost autonomy?
3. The statement: “Common Core is federal strings-free” is not true. The Department of Education is micromanaging the common tests, the testing consortia, and forcing consortia to synchronize their efforts and give the Dept of Education access to data collected thereby. Evidence: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf Even if we get out of the SBAC, which we might, tomorrow, if the school board votes that way, we are still federally controlled by Common Core. Look at this definitions page from the Dept. of Education’s website: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions . It says: ”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.” So you either have to do common core, or write your own university approved standards. But the deadline is ending Sept. 6th, so perhaps after that, the only option will be common core. Wish I livd in Virginia or Texas right now. They are the only states with educational freedom. And Utah not only doesn’t have educational freedom anymore, but we collectively don’t even seem to realize it’s gone.
And the Dept. of Education has mandated in the waiver, in the original RTTT application which our Governor and board signed, and in the assessments RTTT that Washington state, our contracted fiscal agent, signed us up for and which we are responsible to obey as long as we are in the SBAC, that we can’t take anything away–nothing– and we can not add anything beyond 15% to the national standards. How can anyone call this federally string free? How? It is an absolute falsehood.
With that introduction, here are the emails:
Dear Governor & Board,
It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012. Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?
Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.
Tami Pyfer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:26 PM
Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.
If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.
While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.
Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.
From: Tami Pyfer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 5:53 PM
I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.
Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.
It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.
Dear Principal Weber,
Thank you for giving my son and me a tour of your beautiful campus last week. You were gracious to spend so much time with us, and we were impressed with the skiing and other wonderful programs your school offers, and with the care you show for the individual student.
Prior to the visit, we were not aware of the extent to which sustainable development is a part of the school’s educational emphasis. The posters on the walls and the students’ artwork heavily promoted sustainable development. Also, the information packet stated that the school’s charter is environmental education.
While studying nature is neutral, the sustainable development movement is not academically nor politically neutral. I don’t think it would be reasonable nor kind for me to have him attend the school and at the same time be critical of its main emphasis. I am sorry we will be missing out on the other wonderful benefits of Soldier Hollow.
Thanks again very much for your kindness and time, and we wish you and your school the very best.
P.S. Here is a journal article that explained to me how environmental education is not academically neutral.
Excerpt: “[E]ducation is concerned with enabling people to think for themselves.
Education for sustainable development, education for deep ecology (Drengson, 1991), or education “for” anything else is inconsistent with that criterion.
In all cases these phrases suggests a pre-determined mode of thinking to which the pupil is expected to prescribe.
Clearly, I would not want my children to be taught sustainable development. The very idea is contrary to the spirit of education.
I would rather have my children educated than conditioned to believe that sustainable development constitutes a constellation of correct environmental views“ - Bob Jinkins, Yukon College