Last Friday, my children and I were on an educational field trip to see Governor Herbert address the state school board in Salt Lake City. We were learning how to use civic rights to free speech and expression. I had hoped to influence the establishment to not renew the federal waiver (NCLB/ESEA) and hoped to influence them to consider withdrawing from Common Core and all its data-and-teacher-control-tentacles. We also wanted to spread the good news: that Mia Love’s H.R. 524, if it passed, might help enforce states’ constitutional rights to control education locally.
There we stood holding signs outside the door of the state school board meeting, my children and I: “Vote No on NCLB Waiver” and “We Support Mia Love’s H.R. 524“ (the anti-common core bill).
We couldn’t go inside the meeting because 1) one of my children is very young and noisy, and 2) there was no room.
We had even been discouraged by USOE officials and by the governor’s bodyguard (!) from standing in that hall outside the board meeting; they said the handful of us posed a fire hazard.
Yet we were standing there when Governor Herbert made his exit alongside Tami Pyfer. The Governor read our signs and he said, “I support Mia Love’s H.R. 524.”
Explain that quote.
I immediately felt the same sick way I’d felt when President Obama came out with his student data review saying he was concerned about privacy, after his administration had done everything in its power to destroy student privacy: from decreasing privacy rights in federal FERPA, to paying each state to build matching, interoperable SLDS databases, to hosting “Datapalooza” and pushing inter-agency “data-mashing.”
Obama (and Herbert) get away with blatant hypocrisy because most of us are, sadly, low-information voters. People don’t know. And they don’t know who to trust.
I prefer it when everyone gives each other plates of warm cookies instead of headaches. I don’t like thinking of –or labeling– my country’s president or my state’s governor as hypocrites.
But I am not going to pretend that I don’t see what I clearly see: repressed real conversation under a pretense of reasoning things out, strict topic-control and topic-narrowing; no debate.
The governor has only asked Utah to comment about the standards, not the governance of them, and he never asked for comments about the data mining nor testing nor lack of parental and teacher freedom. Although months ago Governor Herbert said, “we will not cede that responsibility [of local education] to anyone else,” we know that Utah had already given that responsibility away years ago (control of tests, data sharing and of standards-amending). That power left when Utah adopted standards from private groups NGA/CCSSO who created and copyrighted Common Core, groups in which Governor Herbert holds top leadership positions. Governor Herbert’s words about standing up to federal encroachment are either feigned or very, very fractional.
We all heard the Governor quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in his speech to the board that day, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) But there is no “reasoning together” happening! Where is the real discussion, the real debate? I see a top-down dispensing of “politically correct” marketing lines about Common Core, a one-sided “conversation”. Under the public radar– in emails and blogs and social media, discussion percolates, sans Governor.
We don’t see our Governor (nor Common Core financier Bill Gates nor Common Core architect David Coleman nor Common Core test grant-giver Arne Duncan) ever participating in debates on this subject. These top promoters/creators of Common Core are actively hiding, as is clear from Kathleen Jasper’s Conversation ED and countless others. They don’t want to thoroughly, honestly, honorably reason. They don’t have a leg to stand on. Common Core, when you scratch beneath the surface, is utterly indefensible and unconstitutional.
The Utah public is only allowed ten minutes (divided by five citizens, with two minutes each) per month at state school board meetings. Per month! Some reasoning together! Meanwhile, the state school board is appointed via a very biased, committee-to-the-governor selection process. And yet taxpayers fund this charade, these one sided flyers, mailers and the USOE website itself, all debate-free, marketing the Common Core product without intellectual discussion of any kind.
It’s maddening to those of us who are paying close attention.
Know these facts (and fact check me, so you really actually know it for yourself.)
1. Only NGA/CCSSO can amend the shared Common Core. And they will. (The “living document” will change, the Common Core declares on page 3.)
In Friday’s meeting, presentation after presentation pretended that Utah could amend the shared Common Core.
2. Common Core states like Utah can’t delete from the standards, and can only add 15% max.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the 15% limit that says no state may add much to the standards (to keep the tests all aligned nationally).
3. Speaking about standards-tweaking is a charade.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that if Utah adds the permitted 15%, the addition will never be seen on the nationally aligned test questions. So what’s motivating the teachers to teach the addition? And it won’t be in the shared textbooks anyway.
4. Common Core ELA and math standards are under copyright.
In Friday’s meeting no mention was made of the Common Core copyright.
5. Common Core was rammed down Utah’s throats without proper discussion, and a parent and teacher led lawsuit is underway because of that fact.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that no teachers or administrators were ever asked for input prior to the state adopting Common Core.
6. The Attorney General and the Governor are not correct in saying that we retain local control under the Common Core standards, tests and aligned data standards.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of any rebuttals to the Attorney General’s blanket statement (that Common Core in no way harms Utah autonomy over education). It was just: “Tell us which particular standard did Utahns find troubling?”
The narrow, controlled “conversation” about Common Core in our state is light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted, “Come and let us reason together.”
I am really, really tired of the hypocrisy.