For Those Who Missed the Meeting: Woes at UT Senate Education Committee   1 comment

Did you miss the last Senate Education Committee Meeting for the state of Utah?

Anyone can subscribe, free, to a report of the meeting’s minutes. I do.

—After I rant and rave about what the heck they’re doing at the Utah State Capitol I’ll paste the official meeting minutes, below.

First:

1. Senator Aaron Osmond disclosed that he now works for Certiport/Pearson.  If any of you know anything about Common Core and Pearson, or the CEA of Pearson, Sir Michael Barber, your spidey senses could be ringing.  (For more, see https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/sir-michael-barber-leads-common-cores-deliverology-via-edi-and-pearson/ )

This Pearson sales employment could appear to be potential conflict for Senator Osmond; he is the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, while he is also a salesman for the company that has already set up major contracts with the Utah State Office of Education. But Osmond stated that he has recused himself from negotiating or influencing contracts in Utah and has recused himself from any interim committee votes or decisions relating to the Common Core or any topic that would benefit his employer. Osmond’s employer provides software to test and certify students in software applications.

Pearson Publishing develops curriculum and training for Common Core.  For Utahns like me who hope and pray for a statewide repeal of Common Core, this is not pretty.

Pearson has a dramatically pro-Common Core marketing angle; so, this sales position of the Chair of the Senate Education Committee calls into question whether Osmond can be fair and detached in the heated pro- and anti- Common Core arguments that are happening in Utah.  What do you think?

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

2. Next issue: it was announced that the “Utah State Office of Education has instructional materials that may be used for parent education on health and human sexuality.

Say what?

Has anyone else detected a “de-parenting” attitude coming from the state (and federal) leaders?  It really bothers me.

Perfect example of that here: Utah bureaucrats feel the need to educate parents about sex and how to explain sex to their children?  Why? Parents can’t be trusted? They depend on the Utah State Office of Education? And in the nick of time, USOE swoops in to save the day from bumbling fools? Left to our own devices, we parents would not teach our own children where babies come from? What is the USOE  thinking?  

It reminds me of Reagan’s line:  “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ “

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

 U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan

3. Next issue:

Brenda Hales and Ms. Shumway discussed how to fund Career and Technical Education (CTE).  I don’t like CTE, Career Academies, SLDS systems, P-20 tracking, or any of the pushy ways in which government tells kids who to be –and who they’ll never be.

President Obama and Arne Duncan have huge plans to make CTE take center stage in an effort to control individual choices as early as possible in each citizen’s life.  And Brenda Hales and Ms. Shumway, apparently, couldn’t agree more. (To see Sec. Duncan’s white house speech and what CTE and Career Academies are about, see: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/obamas-career-tracking-and-education-reforms-so-much-more-than-common-core/ )

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

4.  Next point:  Brenda Hales also discussed Civic and Character Education.  Double sigh.

If you’ve ever see her leading a state school board breakout meeting, you’ll hear the chattiest, bubbliest, won’t-let-others-get-a-word-in, but least sinister-seeming person, of the entire USOE.  She’s nice, okay?  Brenda comes across as very, very nice.

But “nice” is not enough.  We need “valiant”.

Brenda said that she is “the most apolitical creature you will ever meet.”

a·po·lit·i·cal
(p-lt-kl) adj.

1. Having no interest in or association with politics.
2. Having no political relevance or importance

I don’t know if Ms. Hales meant to categorize herself in the first or the second definition of “apolitical.” If she meant she has no interest in politics, that’s not good;  we need politically valiant people leading our educational system not naiive leaders who swallow whatever the propaganda ministers (Secretary Duncan) cook up.

But if Brenda Hales meant the second definition, “having no political relevance or importance,” then she is a stranger to the truth.  Nice or not!

Her own published, written assertions about Common Core are extremely political. http://utahpubliceducation.org/2012/07/10/utahs-core-standards-assessments-and-privacy-regulations/,  She agrees with Obama about the supposedly improved quality of Common Core standards/curriculum and makes assertions I don’t believe, that student private data are being protected (study Utah’s IT director John Brandt, SLDS, P-20 to see why it’s not believable) and –she still says Common Core’s  not under federal control and that Utah’s autonomy under Common Core is unharmed.  If her claims were true, I could sleep better at night.  But they aren’t correct, and part of the proof of that pudding is the fact that even though I (and others) have asked her to provide references for her claims, she never responds to that vital request.  Why?  If her claims are true, why won’t she reference them?

Here’s my rebuttal and her unreferenced assertion which she never did respond to, even though I asked her to, SO many times:   http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/

But I see now that again, I  got way off topic.

Brenda Hales. Civic and Character Education.  Sounds good?

According to Stanford University’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the difference between character education and character indoctrination is:

“Indoctrination is a form of socializing persons… to hold the“right” values. Education, on the other hand, implies some critical distance from the topics so that persons can reflect on different aspects of and on alternatives to what’s presented.”

Which will our students be receiving?  The type that allows freedom to determine what is right individually, or the one that shoves an agenda down the student’s throat?

The good or bad effect of “civic and character education” depends on who gets to call the shots.  Who gets to determine what will be taught?  Parents? Doubtful.

If the philosophies of President Obama and Secretary Duncan lead the charge, as they have been in Utah educational circles, you know what we’ll see.

Students will be molded to hold the “right” values as defined by those “progressing” society toward collectivism and socialism, far away from the Constitution and far away from Judeo-Christian tradition.

How I wish the schools would quit going out on socialist limbs and would just teach.  Teach time-tested, old-fashioned math, teach writing, teach classic literature– yes, actual academics!  Leave the indoctrination to the churches and the families.  (And while you’re at it, since you’ll have more time once you quit taking over the responsibilities of parents and churches, why not shorten the school day?!  I miss my high school student.  I want more time to teach her values and skills I know and believe in, and I don’t believe it takes thirty-five hours a week, twelve years consecutively, to prepare a human being for college.)

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

 I’m finished with my commentary; below are the official minutes.

Enjoy:

MINUTES OF THE

EDUCATION INTERIM COMMITTEE

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 – 2:00 p.m. – Room 30 House Building

Members Present:

Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, Senate Chair

Rep. Francis D. Gibson, House Chair

Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard

Sen. Karen W. Morgan

Sen. Wayne L. Niederhauser

Sen. Aaron Osmond

Sen. Jerry W. Stevenson

Sen. Daniel W. Thatcher

Rep. Johnny Anderson

Rep. Patrice M. Arent

Rep. LaVar Christensen

Rep. Steven Eliason

Rep. Gregory H. Hughes

Rep. John G. Mathis

Rep. Kay L. McIff

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss

Rep. Merlynn T. Newbold

Rep. Jim Nielson

Rep. Val L. Peterson

Rep. Marie H. Poulson

Rep. Kenneth W. Sumsion

Members Absent:

Rep. Bill Wright

Staff Present:

Ms. Allison M. Nicholson, Policy Analyst

Ms. Constance C. Steffen, Policy Analyst

Ms. Angela Oakes Stallings, Associate General Counsel

Ms. Debra Hale, Legislative Secretary

Note: A list of others present, a copy of related materials, and an audio recording of the meeting can be found at www.le.utah.gov.

1.   Committee Business

Chair Gibson called the meeting to order at 2:26 p.m.

Sen. Osmond took a point of personal privilege and stated that, because of his role as Chair of the Senate Education Committee and to ensure complete transparency in his public service, he would like to verbally disclose potential conflicts due to a recent job change. He described his recent job change as Vice President of Sales for Certiport, Inc., a company that provides software to test and certify students in popular software applications. He stated that he has recused himself from negotiating or influencing contracts in Utah. He noted that Certiport was acquired in May 2012 by Pearson Publishing, which owns Pearson Education, a company that is developing curriculum for the Common Core standards.

Sen. Osmond noted that he has reviewed these potential conflicts with Senate leadership, who concluded that no change in committee assignment is necessary at this time. Sen. Osmond stated that he has also recused himself from any interim committee votes or decisions relating to the Common Core or any topic that would benefit his employer or its related companies.

MOTION: Sen. Hillyard moved to approve the minutes of the September 19, 2012, meeting. The motion passed unanimously. Sen. Stevenson, Rep. Hughes, Rep. Newbold, Rep. Peterson, and Rep. Sumsion were absent for the vote.

2.   Consider Draft Legislation “Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training”

                         

Sen. Stuart

Reid discussed draft legislation “Parental Responsibility for Sex Education Training” (2013FL-0007/010), which requires the Utah State Board of Education to offer training and instructional resources to parents to assist them in providing instruction in health and human sexuality to their children.

Dr. Martell Menlove, Deputy Superintendent, Utah State Office of Education (USOE), noted that the USOE has instructional materials that may be used for parent education on health and human sexuality.

3.   Consider Draft Legislation “Voted and Board Levy Program Amendments”

                         

Ms. Steffen distributed the most recent version of draft legislation “Voted and Board Levy Program Amendments” (2013FL-0315/006).

Rep. Stephen Handy discussed draft legislation “Voted and Board Levy Program Amendments,” which requires the full amount of the state contribution appropriated for the Voted and Board Levy Programs to be distributed each year. He distributed a handout, “Voted & Board Leeway Program Amendments,” which contains a chart and a table that show the effect of fully distributing the state contribution appropriated for the Voted and Board Levy Programs. Rep. Handy stated that, in FY 2012, the value of the state guarantee for the Voted and Board Levy Programs would have increased by $1.78 per weighted pupil unit, and three more school districts would have qualified for the state guarantee.

Mr. Bruce Williams, Associate Superintendent, Utah State Office of Education, noted there may be a timing problem with one aspect of the bill. School district tax collections are not finalized until May, so the information needed to adjust the state guarantee for the next fiscal year would not be available for the 2013 General Session.

Dr. Menlove stated that the bill is supported by several districts.

Chair Gibson turned the chair to Sen. Stephenson.

4.   School Performance Report

                         

Dr. Menlove and Dr. Judy Park, Associate Superintendent, Utah State Office of Education, discussed plans for complying with statutory requirements pertaining to school performance reports. Dr. Park distributed a chart, “School Performance Report Data Reported for the 2010-11 School Year,” which indicates data that will be reported in 2012 school performance reports and data that is not available. She also distributed a chart, “School Performance Report – Components – Annual Filing,” which addresses the process for creating and delivering school performance reports, as well as a document containing suggested amendments to Utah Code Section 53A-3-602.5. Dr. Park also showed an example of a school performance report on the USOE website.

Chair Stephenson invited members of the committee to work with the USOE and committee staff in drafting legislation pertaining to school performance reports for consideration at the committee’s November meeting.

MOTION: Sen. Osmond moved to open a committee bill file regarding school performance reports. The motion passed unanimously.

5.   Elimination or Modification of Reports Required by Local Education Agencies

Dr. Menlove reviewed “USOE Report on H.B. 500 – Education Reporting Efficiency Amendments,” distributed in the mailing packet, which describes reports school districts and charter schools are required to make. He noted that most reports are required by federal law or state statute and asserted that many of the reports are burdensome for smaller districts and charter schools.

In responding to committee comments and questions, Dr. Menlove assured committee members that they will be invited to join him on visits to Utah schools.

6.   Career and Technology Education Funding Model

                         

Ms. Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent, Utah State Office of Education, assisted Ms. Mary Shumway, Director, Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Utah State Office of Education, as they distributed and reviewed a report, “Student and Course Based Funding for Career and Technical Education” (CTE), which included funding formulas for CTE. They discussed a method of funding CTE courses based on a weighting of job demand, wages, and skill level. Ms. Shumway noted that other factors may be appropriate and requested feedback from the Legislature.

7.   Reports

A.Civic and Character Education

Rep. Christensen, Mr. Robert Austin, Education Specialist, Utah State Office of Education, and Ms. Hales reviewed the requirements of Utah Code Section 53A-13-109, which provides for civic and character education. Ms. Hales discussed some of the projects in which schools are engaged.

B.Financial and Economic Literacy

Ms. Hales reviewed Utah Code Sections 53A-13-103 and 53A-13-110, which address financial and economic literacy education.

C.New Century and Regents’ Scholarship Programs

Mr. David L. Buhler, Commissioner of Higher Education, due to a time restraint, referred the committee to the “New Century and Regents’ Scholarship Annual Report,” which was included in the mailing packet.

8.   Other Items/Adjourn

Chair Stephenson adjourned the meeting at 5:48 p.m.

One response to “For Those Who Missed the Meeting: Woes at UT Senate Education Committee

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  1. Wow.

    I wish I had seen this before 3 pm today before I published a blog that went viral around the country centered on Common Core tests, and the mental health harm a large group of students may be subjected too.

    I should have just stuck to the science, but my desire to say something positive lead me to devote a few sentences regarding the potential of one Sen. Aaron Osmond to lead Utah out of money grabbing wilderness associated with the Trillion dollar testing industry.

    Sometimes, the depth of my stupidity and naïveté surrounding politics astounds me.

    I LIKE Senator Osmond. Rumors of a possible conflict of interest associated with one of the worlds largest testing corporations and Common Core supporters have been openly floating around for close to A YEAR AND A HALF. Senator Osmond was present at a Herriman Townhall meeting I spoke at in 2013 about the multiple dangers associated with Common Core Testing. There have been one or two private communications over the past 18, but he certainly did not discuss with me this HUGE conflict of interest of working for a company either associated with Pearson’s Inc., or owned by Pearson’s.

    Senator Osmond’s disclosure about his private employment this late in the “game”, two weeks after the AIR/SAGE Common Core tests were thrust upon almost every Utah public school aged child, was simply too little, and too late.

    The ONLY ethical choice that could have been made and announced at this meeting was one of two options:

    1. He quit his job, and has no quasi lobbying ties with his former employer.

    2. Announced his immediate resignation from the Education Committee, and his intention to recuse himself from ANY votes in the Senate that could be even remotely tied to the implementation and/or funding of Bills tied to education issues that could be associated with Common Core, and it’s twin monster, High Stakes Common Core Testing.

    In addition, it would have been nice at the time to state that he has not reviewed any direct, or indirect (ala Former A.G. John Swallow) political contributions from Pearson, Inc., or his employer at the time he announced his candidacy for Senate.

    For someone who has been in the forefront and limelight on the local and national media regarding education issues, this is not a good position for him to be in.

    I don’t judge Aaron Osmond. I obviously really like the Senator if just 7 hours ago, I basically implied that he should someday be my Govenor. Frankly? Hell, I would have done the same thing. However, that self awareness is the exact reason I am not a politician….or your role model.

    Senator Osmond? You need to be mine now. I can’t take back the “Send” button on the blog hosted by my spouses corporation.

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