Archive for June 2016
State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.
The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”. The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.
Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.
While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA. CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor). That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.
That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing. It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director. Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.
Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing. The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report. The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE. But it wasn’t true.
Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.
He said: “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’. This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”
Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth. But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.
Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference? Phone: 801-538-7500 Address: 250 East 500 South PO Box 144200 SLC UT Email: email@example.com
Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:
Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],
I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:
“The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”
As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test. This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.
I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study. Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity. I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim.
As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response. The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/
Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.
I am going to keep this short and sweet:
Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:
1. Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)
2. Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test. Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/) Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?
3. Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf ) How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?
4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years? Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?
5. Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents? Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”
When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.
In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.
Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.” This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc. I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.
In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.
Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future. Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education
My friends and neighbors are receiving mailers this week that look like this.
When my husband saw this, he said, “So what? What’s so bad about Education First?”
Glad he asked.
Here’s the short version: Education First = Common Core.
If you love Common Core and federal-corporate takeover of local control, vote for Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert. That’s what they and their funders, Education First, stand for, and will be pressured to vote for. Past legislative sessions have shown this to be the case, in the very own words of the co-chairs of Education First.
If you love local control of education, with local children (not monied lobbyists) being put first, vote for Johnson, Greene, Voeks and Philpot.
These are in my area; ask any Utah candidates if they’ve accepted money from Education First.
If they have, they are either ignorant and thus incompetent to see through the maze of deceptions they’ll encounter as legislators, or they really believe in the idealogy of the Common Core.
Please vote for candidates Jonathan Johnson (Governor), Brian Greene (UT Rep), Casey Voeks (UT County Commissioner) and Morgan Philpot (State Senate) –each of whom refused Education First money– instead of candidates Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert (who are all paid campaign babies of Education First).
Here’s the longer explanation:
In 2012, Education First sent out a letter to every legislator in the state of Utah. A legislator showed me his letter, and I posted much of it.
The letter told legislators that Education First had, and would continue, to “champion Common Core implementation” with “consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core“.
It also explained that Education First had partnered with Governor Herbert’s “Prosperity 2020” movement –which is modeled after Obama’s 2020 movement– to put business-governmental financial partnerships first– but they call this, instead, putting “education first”.
The Education First letter said, “Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business-led education movement in state history.”
There’s a big problem with Education First “leading” and promoting workforce alignment to K-12, especially in “partnership” with the government.
If Susie Q. wants to be an entrepreneur or a ballerina, Big Business has no business pushing her into truck driving or computer coding –even if, during Susie Q’s high school years, the business sector says it needs more truck drivers or coders.
That’s central planning, and it’s un-American.
Big business, in partnership with big government, wants to make pathways for children based on “robust assessment”. Ugh! Can you say China?
Why should free, American children be pressured and funneled into career paths determined by central planners (governmental-business forecasts)? Since when is the American Dream to be determined by others, and not by individual Americans? That’s the “citizens are grains of rice and the collective consumes the rice bowl” mentality.
What can we expect from Herbert, Haynie, Hemmert, and others who have taken large sums of money from the Education First lobby?
Let’s look at the evidence.
The co-chairs of Education First co-wrote a Salt Lake Tribune opinion editorial this March, praising the legislature for funding many of the bills for which Education First had lobbied, including bills for: workforce development (which is China-styled central planning) early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), personalized learning (which is a euphemism for digital everything; impersonal, privacy-killing “learning”) and community schools (which is Obama’s socialistic vision that integrates healthcare with academics and socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”). Is that what you want? Not me!
The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2014 that Governor Herbert (whose baby is Prosperity 2020, the partner of Education First) had appointed Rich Kendall (the co-chair of Education First) to assess the pros and cons of the Common Core in 2014. So no one should have been surprised to find out that Kendall’s committee found the Common Core to be “sound, legal and rigorous”. Were Kendall’s and Herbert’s Common Core committee’s findings correct?
Not according to the the Utah GOP which found quite the opposite, announcing that Common Core was: “a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between … unelected boards and consortia” that “violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a… (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS)… pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted, penalties including loss of funds”.
There is a big problem with Education First loving and promoting Common Core as if it were good for everyone, as if it weren’t suffocating innovation for localities and teachers, as if the Utah GOP wasn’t officially opposed to it. There’s also a big problem with Education First trying to lead education, marginalizing local citizens because their “leadership” means siphoning off most education dollars from teachers and students toward big ed tech sales companies, while setting up data mining programs approved by federal (unconstitutional) initiatives (not approved by moms and dads.)
Since Education First gives huge marketing dollars to newbie candidates like Dan Hemmert and Xanie Haynie and to incumbents like Gary Herbert, we naturally see their billboards EVERYWHERE, and far fewer billboards for the stalwart, unbought candidates: Morgan Philpot, Brian Greene, Casey Voeks and Jonathan Johnson.
Education First invests huge money in the candidates that they foresee being able to control when they are in the legislature, so that later, Education First can make more big money, all at our expense and at the expense of our children.
See through this, please.
I have personally spoken, face to face, with the Education First-funded candidates. They are nice people; this is NOT a personal attack. I would be happy to be their neighbors or co-workers or dog-walkers. But I am totally unwilling to let them put their hands on the levers of real power –when I can see that they either don’t understand, or lack a healthy fear, of what Education First lobbies and promotes.
Lisa Cummins (see her campaign site here) is running for District 11 (Herriman area) for Utah’s State School Board. Her speech below was given at the June 11, 2016 rally at the State Capitol, where citizens gathered to focus on “Elevating Education: Common No More”.
At Saturday’s rally at the State Capitol, “Elevating Education: Common No More,” Michelle Boulter spoke as a candidate for Utah State School Board in District 15 (St. George area).
Here’s her campaign site.
Here is her speech. (You’re going to love it!):
Geologist Frank Strickland is running for State School Board; he’s definitely my pick for district 7. See his campaign site here. If you live in Park City or Salt Lake City, please vote for Frank.
On Saturday, he gave the following speech at the “Elevating Education: Common No More” rally at the state capitol building. Enjoy and share!
Alisa Ellis spoke at the “Elevating Education: Common No More” rally on Saturday at the State Capitol. She’s running against Dixie Allen and Jim Moss in the huge Heber-Duschesne-Lindon area known as Utah’s District 12.
Her speech was introduced by radio host Rod Arquette, who said:
“Alisa is one of the moms who gained national attention in their fight against Common Core… I look out and I see Christel and I see Renee and up on the stage, I see Alisa. One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; I absolutely love that movie… it’s a movie about two scoundrels running across the Western U.S., being chased by a group of guys who don’t like them robbing trains and banks. Paul Newman, who plays Butch Cassidy in the movie, keeps on asking himself as he looks at those guys coming after him, ‘Who are those guys?’ Well, I think when they heard about the Utah moms against common core around the country, people were asking, ‘Who are those guys?’ Well, they gained national attention and they were one of the early pioneers in the fight against Common Core.”
Alisa’s full speech is posted below the video. My favorite part of her oratory was this:
“As the Utah Constitution states, it is my primary responsibility to educate my children. The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job. We even have presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who said that parents have “no role” in education! …When it came to discussing meaningful education policy with my superintendent, I was told that ‘we have no local control’. He even went so far as to tell Renee and I that our local school board no longer represented us. He told me that he was tired, that he’d been fighting the fight for local control for a long time. I told him that day that if he wasn’t willing to do it, that I would pick up the fight to restore local control in education.”
Elect Alisa Ellis to represent District 12 in the Utah State School Board!
Alisa’s got a four-year track record which her opponents cannot touch.
As the mother of seven children –some of whom are home schooled and some of whom are public-schooled– Alisa effectively lobbied the legislature for the past four years, and has spoken across the state and outside the state, in cottage meetings and on radio shows, calling for increased parental control, student data privacy, real science standards, and for the hearing of the voices of teachers and localities in the fight against Big Ed (Fed Ed and Corporate Ed) –which is the fight against Common Core and nationalization of education.
Her opponents, including the incumbent, cannot hold a candle to her track record of effective, courageous action.
Her campaign site is here: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343457342383929
Full rally speech:
“Some may ask what qualifies me to run for state school board. I don’t have a fancy resume. I don’t lots of letters behind my name but I do have 7 children that no one but God knows and loves better than me. No one knows how to reach them quite like I do. No one knows their fears, insecurities, strengths and numerous other accolades quite like I do. It is my responsibility to see that they receive the best education possible. As the UT constitution states it is my primary responsibility to educate my children. The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job. We even have Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton saying parents have no place in education. This is wrong.
It’s time to put the lead of education back into the hands of parents as the founders originally intended and as our state’s constitution says.
I’m running for state school board because when it came to discussing meaningful education policy concerns with my Superintendent I was told WE HAVE NO local CONTROL. We have to do what the state tells us to do. He even went so far as to say the local school board did not represent me. He told me he was tired of the fight and that he’d been fighting a long time. I promised him that I would take up the fight for local control.
So what is local control? The local control I envision, involves much more than merely stating teachers have the freedom to choose textbooks. The local control I envision means that as a parent I have freedom to find a classroom in the public school that can teach the type of math, English, Science, History, Art etc. that I deem valuable not what a conglomerate of states finds valuable. I’m not trying to take away your right to have your children taught with ‘common standard’ but don’t take away my right either.
Imagine a system where parents can choose the type of education they value. Even with all the choices out there today there is still a centralization of control and power that is strangling the free market in education.
Imagine a system where teachers are given the freedom to truly teach.
There are too many regulations placed on the backs of teachers; too many mandates to meet; too many test to oversee and not enough time to teach. We need to allow teachers the courtesy we give other professionals and let them use their professional judgment to decide what methods work best in their classroom. In turn, we need to give parents the power to find the methods that best match their children’s needs. One size doesn’t fit all and one teaching method doesn’t teach all.
It is often stated that we have full control over our education. This is true. We do. But we aren’t exercising that right. We are continually, voluntarily following the carrot dangled before us either out of fear of falling behind, gaining or losing money or many other unknowns. Historically, this pattern has given us things like the unconstitutional Federal Department of Ed which in turn has given us a tongue twister of acronyms to manage: NCLB, ESEA, SLDS, SFSF, FERPA, AYP, ESSA, CCSS, RTT, RTTA, RTTD, GRIT, and countless other programs. I’ve spent the last 5 years in in depth study of these acronyms and the freedoms they take away from this district.
Recently, we had the opportunity to push back against ALL federal intrusion in to education but instead we codified into law President Obama’s blueprint of education reform in a grandiose bipartisan effort [ESSA] that will give the Department of Ed full Veto power over our state’s education plan and call for Family Engagement Plans. This is NOT local control.
We have come to a cross roads. It is no longer acceptable to go along to get along. We need leaders that are willing to stand up to the bullying that is coming from the federal Department of Ed. It seems that every candidate says they’re against Common Core but it has become an empty promise by most and I am here to tell you that it is not an empty promise with me. If elected I will do everything in my power to stop this trend toward nationalizing and corporatizing education.
Hugh B. Brown said,’One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong… We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom…and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.’
I pledge to push back on the micromanaging come down from the Feds and state to the local districts. I would love to see local districts have more autonomy. I would love to see teachers be able to teach without having to jump through hoops. I’m tired of bad policy being blamed on poor implementation.
It’s time to bring meaningful decision making power back as close to the family and the community as we can. I’m Alisa Ellis and I ask for your support.
In case you missed the rally speeches and missed the Fox News report, here begins a series of posts featuring the speakers at this week’s rally at the state capitol, where Utah voters had the opportunity to hear from candidates for Utah State School Board.
The rally was entitled “Elevating Education: Common No More”.
Radio host Rod Arquette introduced each school board candidate speaker and the gubernatorial candidate Johnathan Johnson. Each speaker declared that Utah can elevate education beyond the Common Core.
The first video shows Dr. Gary Thompson‘s speech; below is the text version of that speech. (Other candidates’ speeches will be posted soon.)
Text of Dr. Thompson’s speech:
Communities are judged by how well they treat the most vulnerable children amongst them.
If given the honor of representing parents and teachers as a State Board Member, I will only ask four questions regarding any policies placed in front of me regarding our children and students:
1. Does the policy conform to industry standard ethical practices?
2. Does the policy allow ground level parental control and teacher choice?
3. Are stealth psychological evaluations and data collection being performed on children without your knowledge and informed consent?
4. Is the policy based on “Voodoo-Pseudo Science”, or independent, peer reviewed research?
Our School Board’s failure to view education policy via these four principles has resulted in 12 dangerous realities in place in Utah public schools:
I call them the “Dirty Dozen”:
1. Lawmakers recently deemed the SAGE test invalid for teacher evaluations, yet did nothing to protect our most vulnerable children from the same flawed test.
2. Many Utah Standards are developmentally inappropriate for our younger children.
3. Not one independent developmental psychologist was active in writing Utah K-3 Educational Standards.
4. The test used to measure knowledge of Utah Standards, the SAGE test, has never been independently validated to measure academic performance.
5. Without parental knowledge and informed written consent, Utah schools are collecting our children’s most intimate cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and sociological information.
6. Utah’s test vendor, AIR, is currently using Utah public school children as “experimental lab rats”, as part of the largest, non consensual, unethical, experimentation ever performed on Utah soil.
7. Performing unethical, experimentation on Utah’s children place many of them at risk for serious emotional, behavioral and cognitive damage.
8. Common Core special education practices are harmful, not based on sound science, and put our divergent learning students at risk for suicide. Utah has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the Country.
9. The Utah State Board of Education does not have effective policies in place requiring technology vendors to follow ethical and privacy guidelines, designed to protect parents and children from exploitation and harm.
10. Student data security and privacy is a myth.
11. Utah’s Preschool and Kindergarten programs are not supported by independent, peer-reviewed research.
12. Utah’s adoption of the Common Core Federal mandate to have ALL Kindergartners reading, as opposed to emphasizing play, is abusive, and flies in the face of 75 years of child developmental research.
Since the advent of Common Core, the Board of Education, and the Utah State Office of Education, have dismissed “The Dirty Dozen” as “dangerous misinformation”, and have accuse parents like me of spreading fear into the community.
Today I draw a line in the sand, and for the sake of my children and Community, I ask State School Board Chairman Dave Crandall to do the same.
The contrasts between us could not be more evident.
One of us will protect your children….
One of us is dangerously wrong.
In Exchange, I challenge Chairman Crandall to publicly acknowledge the existence of “The Dirty Dozen”, as THE most pressing, dangerous assault on parental rights, teacher autonomy, and child safety present in Utah Public Schools.
If Chairman Crandall ignores this, and ignores this challenge, I believe he is not fit to serve another term representing our children, and I respectfully request for him to immediately drop out of the election.
I ask the next Governor of this State, sitting on this stage; I ask Governor Johnson to place the destiny of the next generation of children into the hands of local parents and our talented ground level teachers, as opposed to catering to technology special interest groups, who now own many Utah lawmakers.
I ask parents to demand that our education leaders base their decisions on ethics, and the rule of constitutional law, as opposed to agenda based, harmful mandates being forced upon our children via the U.S. Office of Education, and adopted without question by the Utah State Office of Education, and the State Board of Education.
I close from a quote from an American who was buried yesterday in Kentucky, Muhammad Ali. His example and courage inspired my father to pursue a dream of becoming one of America’s first generation of black medical doctors in modern history:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact…. It’s an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration…. It’s a dare.
Impossible is potential…Impossible is temporary….Impossible is nothing.”
Thank you for your time and consideration. May God bless this great, and truly exceptional Nation.”
Dr. Thompson’s campaign website link is here: http://www.vote4drgary.com/#!Dr-Thompsons-Utah-CapitolTown-Hall-Speech/b8v6m/575b6c780cf24c9615a7f130
Early voting begins tomorrow, and voting ends June 28th. Please vote wisely. No elected position in this state affects your children and your family more than the state school board position.