Archive for November 2014

Video: New York Forum on Taking Back Education from the Common Core Agendists   Leave a comment

This month in Wappingers Falls, New York, a panel presented concrete ideas for how to take back control of education from the federal government and from its corporate Common Core partners.

To these ideas, add the brilliant idea recently presented by Utah Dad Oak Norton.  View that here.

 

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Video: Utah Dad Oak Norton’s Solution: 116 School Districts, Parents Empowered   Leave a comment

Utah Dad Oak Norton runs a yearly freedom-in-education conference and website called “Agency Based Education (ABE).”  At this year’s ABE conference in Provo, Utah, he presented an exciting, specific solution that could go a long way toward reclaiming local power over education.

He explained that if every high school in the state were to become its own district, rather than having 40 districts Utah would have 116.  This would almost triple the number of elected, local school board members, allowing much more personal, accountable leadership to take place.  It would mean that each board would be directly responsible to about 4,000 students rather than the current average of over 13,000 students.

Norton explained that empowering local parents by electing far, far greater numbers of them to local school boards, over smaller districts, echoes what the founders promoted, (which is exactly the opposite of what education reforms are doing today).

Jefferson said, “the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many…   What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body.”

This screen shot, from Norton’s presentation, shows the current Utah system versus what could be:

 

abe

The principles and ideas presented in this video could dramatically empower local control if legislators, encouraged by their consituents, would take notice.   Please watch and share this video.

Missouri Common Core Test Use Altered by Restraining Order   4 comments

missouri

A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting [some aspects of] Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Update:  Missouri Education Watchdog has asked to make the following clarification/correction.  Here it is:

The TRO does not stop the state from implementing the SBAC test. It simply stops the state from paying any money to SBAC in the form of membership payments. The state will continue with its plans to administer the SBAC test in spring 2015, but the recently passed HB1490 prohibits the student scores from that test from being used in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determinations. They call it a “Pilot” test. The money we pay them would have to be classified as a purchase of SBAC… 

We were stuck in an odd situation where the company that serviced our previous test (we called it MAP) stopped providing that test in 2014 so continuing with that for another year while we develop new standards was not even an option. The legislature went for the easier temporary fix of allowing the state to use SBAC for our NCLB accountability while the new standards are being developed. They didn’t have the guts of KY to simply say we won’t be providing test data for a year. “

 

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   2 comments

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

Sandra cropped

USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

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Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

Video: Common Core Panelists: Kurtz, Evers, McClusky, Estrada, Rebarber   1 comment

Heritage Foundation hosted a panel this month to inform and update the public about Common Core.   The introduction by Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation includes her story of New Jersey homeschoolers who are being told by the state that they must conform to Common Core, even in home school.   Burke also cites the rapid decline of teacher support for the Common Core, from 76% down to only 46% according to the latest poll.  Enjoy.

 

Panelists:

Stanley Kurtz, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and contributing editor, National Review Online

Ted Rebarber
CEO and Founder, AccountabilityWorks

Neal McCluskey, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, The Cato Institute

William Estrada
Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

Williamson M. Evers
Research fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Second Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   6 comments

This is the second in a series of posts to be added by members of Utah’s Common Core SAGE test’s parent review board.  Parent Molly Foster spoke out previously and is joined now by fellow mom Christine Ruiz as a SAGE parent review committee member who also wishes to set the record straight and to expose the objectionable aspects of the tests.

SAGE Parent Review Committee Member Speaks Out

By Christine Ruiz

In 2013 the Utah Legislature mandated  parental review of SAGE test questions and established what is now called the SAGE Parent Review Committee. It was a response to concerns that the computer adaptive tests could include biases or agendas that are objectionable to Utah family values.

 

Much has been written about the committee and unfortunately some of it has been misleading. Consequently many Utah parents are misinformed about the review committee and are making decisions with that ‘bad information’; decisions that affect their children.

 

I am one of those committee members and I’d like to correct the record.

 

The statute, 53A-1-603, is vague as it relates to our duties; “…a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.” Yep, that’s it. Talk about your nutshell.

So, here’s what we did and didn’t do.

 

WE DID review all questions (about 1500 each).

WE DID flag questions for a variety of reasons (grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.).

WE DID sign nondisclosure statements (agreeing not to discuss specific test questions and materials).

 

Now the important part …

WE DID NOT ‘approve’ the test. We were neither tasked to nor qualified to approve the test in any aspect.

It has been erroneously suggested that “…we all feel comfortable with the test” in an article by the Deseret News (Nov 2013). That’s a misleading quote from only one member of the committee. That statement was actually contradicted by another member later in the same article. But it’s no surprise here; we expect that from the media.

However, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) perpetuated that myth when it plastered that same quote all over its SAGE informational brochures. We/ I expect more due diligence from USOE.

I never received a phone call to verify that I concurred and I suspect the same is true for the rest of the committee. It was either an act of deliberate deceit or jaw-dropping negligence to tell parents across the state that the Parent Review Committee gives its blanket approval of the test. Neither option comforts me in the slightest.

I shudder to think that some parents may have decided to let their children take the SAGE because ‘we’ said it’s okay. That’s on me and every other committee member that feels the same as I, and didn’t speak out sooner.

This myth and any others perpetrated in the future will no longer go unanswered by this committee member. That’s a promise.

Christine Ruiz

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state statute 53A1603

(8)

(a) The State Board of Education shall establish a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah

public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.

(b) The committee established in Subsection (8)(a) shall include the following parent members:

(i) five members appointed by the chair of the State Board of Education;

(ii) five members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; and

(iii) five members appointed by the president of the Senate.

(c) The State Board of Education shall provide staff support to the parent committee.

(d) The term of office of each member appointed in Subsection (8)(b) is four years.

(e) The chair of the State Board of Education, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and

the president of the Senate shall adjust the length of terms to stagger the terms of committee

members so that approximately 1/2 of the committee members are appointed every two

years.

(f) No member may receive compensation or benefits for the member’s service on the committee.

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   40 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

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