The Utah Educator’s Association has a blog that covers educational issues. Unfortunately, nobody there is looking out for issues of liberty and freedom, as we are on this blog. So, for those who haven’t been following SB10, Utah’s soon-to-be-voted upon education bill, here are a few letters between me and a legislator.
Thank you for writing back. To answer your three issues:
Does the local or federal government have any business using taxpayers’ money to mandate that every child takes the ACT regardless of the wishes of his/her parents?
ACT and other high stakes exams have existed for decades, yes, but they were not presided over by the architect of the Common Core ever before.He will keep the push for nationalized education going stronger and stronger.http://www.act.org/commoncore/
David Coleman, the main architect of Common Core, and now the president of the College Board who has partnered ACT with Common Core, happens to be a potty-mouthed non-teacher with ideas like “let’s slash classic literature in favor of info-texts” and “let’s tell children that nobody cares what they think, and so we’re not doing personal narratives anymore.” http://theline.edublogs.org/2011/11/02/common-core-director-to-you-no-one-gives-a-st-what-you-think-or-feel/
Yes, really .The ACT is going to change very rapidly over the next few years because of its Common Core alignment.
My solution and recommendation is to drop SB10 and allow parents, students and districts to determine whether they will use the ACT, SAT or something else. Mandate nothing; fund teacher raises and district textbook needs instead.
David O. McKay, a great Utah educator, suggested that a fundamental principle is free agency, which may be a measuring rod by which the actions of men, of organizations, of nations may be judged.
Judging SB10 by the principle of free agency, it appears that SB10: Removes a child’s (and a parent’s) agency to choose a career track, based on high-stakes testing. Forces taxpayers to pay the ACT, which has never been done before. Puts children’s future at the mercy of any bad elementary school teacher who may not have prepared a highly intelligent child properly for a high-stakes test that then put that child on a track for a low-level “differentiated diploma” that would remain on that individual’s record for life. Puts the government, rather than individuals, more firmly in the driver’s seat. Dovetails into UNESCO’s agency-limiting goals for inter-governmental tracking and top-down “guidance” [control] of people through the instrumentality of education. http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=42579&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html and http://www.worldcat.org/title/towards-world-understanding/oclc/06322964
1. Differentiated diplomas may discourage students from staying in school if they either fail or barely pass the graduation exam orhaven’t taken advanced level courses because they know they will be ineligible to receive a higher-level diploma.
2.There’s a dishonesty about permanently labeling student diplomas based on test performances, rather than their 12 years of academic work.
3.If diplomas are differentiated based on graduation exams, attaching diploma endorsements to performance on tests increases the stakes of already high-stakes tests.
4. There is minimal research affirming the efficacy or value of differentiated diplomas and their affect on student achievement, employment, or participation in postsecondary education. http://drs.dadeschools.net/InformationCapsules/IC0701.pdf
We cannot assume this bill will help students compete better. We can assume it will “guide” and track them via governmental, rather than teacher and parental, input.
The funding solution is to give taxpayers and districts the freedom and the money individually to let them make the call.
If SB10 slides under the radar without the public being informed or asked for their input, as Common Core and the free preschool program has done, it’s just one more violation of the spirit of citizen-based sovereignty in this state.
Thanks for listening. I do appreciate your open dialogue.
1) In my view SB 10 was good legislation to remove a test (UBISCET) that provided no tangible assessment value or guidance for students and replace it with recognized/proven exams (ACT and ASVAB) used by ALL colleges and universities today to establish college and career readiness.
2) Tying this SB 10 and the effort to improve high-stakes testing to the Common Core effort is illogical to me. ACT and other high stakes exams have existed for decades. While they are nationally accepted high stakes exams, there is no logic to the idea that moving to ACT tests is evidence of Common Core take overs of our public education system by the federal government or other entities.
3) You outline concerns and fears about the risks of high stakes tests but you give no solutions or recommendations on what we should instead. The ACT, ASVAB, and SAT are well recognized and established testing standards with millions of data points showing how these test results tie back to academic potential and career readiness. You know that we use them in our state regularly. SB 10 provides a funding solution so every student can take one of these tests and see where they stand in their Jr. year and then make decisions on what to do and how to get ready for their future. How does this hurt our children or our teachers? What’s the alternative?
The bottom line for me is this: US and Global businesses want to hire kids with industry credentials and/or recognized university degrees. The providers of these degrees/credentials look to high stakes testing standards to compare and differentiate the tens of thousands of applicants they receive. If we are not willing to compete in this environment because we are afraid of our kids will be mislabeled, or our teachers will be stressed, then we will suffer the economic consequences of falling behind in a very competitive world.
From: Christel S [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 4:27 PM To: email@example.com; Christel S Subject: SB10 = Continued Mislabeling of Children as Failures
Dear Utah Leaders,
Please do what you can to stop SB10.
Education reform is out of control and SB10 is part of that flood of errors, supported by Arne Duncan-styled educational socialists but not by common sense nor by parents and educators. At the very least, this bill needs public vetting.
Topping the flood of educational reform errors, and leading the philosophy of SB10 isCommon Core, an unfunded national mandate that slid under the radar without public discussion, which never had a cost analysis, never went to a vote, was never consulted upon by any group of teachers, parents, taxpayers or legislators, and was passed by three individuals in our state (our Governor, State Board Member Debra Robers, and Superintendent Shumway). To fully understand Common Core, I urge you to read Governor Rick Perry’s rejection of it, which included a $3 billion estimated implementation price tag and the loss of state sovereignty. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-DuncanArne201001130344.pdf
It now forces thousands of teachers and students into what amounts to a communist educational system. How can I use the word communist? Under Common Core, every Utah child, regardless of ability, is required to meet a certain standard, as if a newborn can be forced to walk. Every Utah child, regardless of ability, is prevented from achieving above that standard, as if a racehorse should be made to stroll. Common Core is nationalized, educational lockstep. The standards have claimed to be state-led, but in reality have been handed down like a law from outside Utah, have been financially incentivized by the executive branch, and are unamendable, as verified by Carol Lear, top lawyer at the USOE. (Email communication, April 2012)
Not only that, the standards themselves are terribly flawed; to be brief: they diminish the amount of classic literature that isallowable in English classrooms. They discourage or eliminate high school calculus. They retard the exposure of Algebra I from 8th grade to 9th grade. The list of errors in the Common Core standards themselves is long, but isnot as important as the ever-so-important fact that the standards have cut off our educationalliberties and state sovereignty over eduation. How?
By the time Common Core is implemented in 2015, our own Utah Core Standards will be utterly irrelevant. I verified this fact with the test developer, WestEd. https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/ “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement fromWestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.
And we have zero voice in any sort of amendment for the common standards. They are locked out of our reach, under copyright. http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use
Yet, when updates and changes come, as they inevitably will, we will beforced to obey them, regardless of agreement or disagreement, regardless of values that may be introduced that we are opposed to, all because of overhasty adoption of the standards that had not even been written yet, when we agreed to them in hopes of getting a grant that we never even got (Race to the Top).
The top-down governmental control of education worsens with SB10. SB10 is just a pea in the pod with Common Core and its no-soaring-allowed-in-school philosophy.
In SB10, differentiated diplomas and high-stakes testing are promoted. This is a mistake. Students are increasingly seen as “human capital,” rather than living beings, while they are forced by high stakes tests into tracks they cannot easily change out of, and are then labeled for life, perhaps inaccurately, by the high-stakes tests that place them in the tracks that lead to the differentiated diplomas. How can thistest-centric system be good for us? It’s certainly good for those who benefit financially from Utah taxpayers’ contributions to their testing systems. It’s good for a few politicians who hope to prove themselves via “data driven decision making” but is it good for our children? No, no, no.
High-stakes testing and differentiated diplomas de-professionalize teaching, create teacher burnout, fail to close the achievement gap, stress out and burn out students, cause less teaching to happen (teaching to the test = less teaching) and cause less learning to happen (teaching to the test = less learning).
Have we learned nothing from the failure of NCLB? Basing so much on one or two tests is just wrong. The most important things cannot be measured that way, but need human interaction from caring teachers. Creativity in our students will decline as high stakes tests and differentiated diplomas become the norm.
The mislabeling of many children as mediocre or as failures will continue.
Please do not support SB10.
Christel Lane Swasey
Stay Home Mother, Teacher, Adjunct Professor, Patriot
Heber City, Utah