Author Archive

C.S. Lewis and the Freedom to Fail   4 comments

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Are you afraid of freedom?  Are you so afraid of the possibility that, with freedom to choose, some people choose to fail, that you would remove all freedom, even the freedom to soar?

A few weeks ago, at the Utah County Republican Convention,  I met a man at our Stop Common Core booth.  He was a sweet faced,  caring man.  He liked the common core agenda of national standards and tests because, he said,  he could not stand to see anyone suffer and fail because he’d seen the worst of the worst in Mississippi.  The fact that Massachusetts had dropped its high academic standards to come down to Common Core’s level didn’t bother him, he said, because lowest-performing states like Mississippi had upped their standards to the Common Core level.  He didn’t want to see anybody fail; so he’d rather see everyone mediocre.

This one sided “philanthropy” struck me as misguided, but it is the trendy philosophy of social justice, the philosophy of Arne Duncan-style redistribution.  It is theft– easily justified because it’s done on a large, impersonal, governmental scale.

Where do you stand?

Would you– alone– steal from one, in order to benefit another?  Then why do you let government do it?  What gives “us” the right to redistribute anything at all– money, education standards, teachers, data?  Would you make this a habit: Alone–  you walk outside, knock on the door,  and then forcibly take money or items from your next door neighbor to then hand to another neighbor?  It’s cruel.  That is, on a smaller scale, what our society is doing on a large scale with its increasingly socialistic answers to almost every aspect of life, with the justification that this theft is a kindness, a social justice.   This type of enforced equality is an impossible absurdity (Read Harrison Bergeron) but people believe it will work.  It’s why we are in this ed reform mess.

The freedom to fail and the freedom to soar are two ends of the same stick.  So much freedom has been sacrificed at the fake altar of “no soul left behind”.   Ironically, as these equality enforcements  come, people still fail.  This fake philanthropy (aka “social justice”) takes away the possibility for those who might soar, to ever soar.  In the 1950s, they used to call this equalizing “communism”.  But today, if you use describe the education reforms taking place in America as socialistic/communistic, you get labeled a believer in Unicorns.  (Thanks, Representative Kraig Powell.)

Truth is truth whether people believe it or not.

Long after I’d left the man that day at the booth, I found this perfect answer to his confused philanthropy.  Thank you, C.S. Lewis.

——————

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.

If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk.

(…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

                                                                                                               – C.S. Lewis

Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey Continue to Try for a Meeting With Governor Christie   3 comments

CONCERNED CITIZENS OF SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY - AKA "THE COMMON CORE FOUR"

CONCERNED CITIZENS OF SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY – AKA “THE COMMON CORE FOUR”

In the photo:  Jan Lenox, Lynne Shirk, Deb Yoa and Michelle Mellon, four unstoppable grandmothers of New Jersey who spearhead a group called Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey

Jan Lenox wrote a letter that was published this week at the Cape May County Herald in New Jersey.

 

To the Editor:

Concerned Citizens of South N.J. made the two hour+ trip to Trenton April 28 to deliver our petitions on Common Core/PARCC to the governor.

We attended the Senate budget hearing on education with Commissioner David Hespe’s testimony. It was just one more dog and pony show in a long list of same old, same old educratical nonsense. The only glimmer of light was brought from Senator Jeff Van Drew when he asked a few pointed questions about the never-voted-on legislation, presented last year.

After three long hours of waiting for a reason to be there, we decided to leave the chamber and continue on to what we came to Trenton to do. We were met by a state police officer when we entered the governor’s ante-office; we were told we couldn’t enter. We explained that we wanted to present our petition to Governor Christie. We then were sent to the security office, checked in and waited for the governor’s aide-de-camp to greet us there. Kia, the aide, a very young woman and her even younger assistant came through the door and stood before us.

“What do you want,” she asked without introducing herself. I asked, “Who are you?” She answered, “I am the governor’s aide and this is my assistant.”

I introduced our group by name and stated that we came to deliver our petition. I stated to her that we had previously sent formal requests to the governor’s scheduler and followed with emails, and were denied a meeting. I continued to explain that we had carried these signatures with us for over two years and attached to the package was a personal letter signed by our group.

Her response was less than polite or professional. To paraphrase her response: “I cannot guarantee he will get these. He gets thousands of letters. I am not his scheduler.”

Then she went on to say that the governor’s schedule was full until June 30. She told us to attend his upcoming town hall meetings that were being planned throughout the state. We heard that if you attend six town halls, you can request a meeting with the governor. This is ludicrous at best. She was very curt and annoyed that we came to bother her. Kia offered no information to help us.

She took our package and said she would deliver it to his office without any other information or response. According to Kia, Governor Christie was very well aware of people’s angst over the Common Core and PARCC.

Well then, why won’t he meet with concerned citizens and alleviate our angst?

At the very least, we should have been met with a smile and a courteous attitude.

It was a very long day. We left the State House and started our journey home. Thank God, we have copies and thank Him for keeping our tempers in check. After all, we had two state troopers right behind us.

Did I mention that we’re all grandmothers?

 

The petition letter, which was stapled to many pages of signatures from the citizens of New Jersey:

 

Dear Governor Christie,

We are here today on behalf of the citizens of the state of New Jersey.  On March 23, 2013 a letter was sent to you regarding our urgent request for information and support regarding the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  Forty letters were sent to representatives of our state, Commissioner Cerf, county superintendents and local school principals.  Our requests were never answered.

For over 25 months, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey has partnered with many other groups north, south, east and west, and have shared our message.  Parents, grandparents, guardians, as well as teachers and many legislators believe as we do, that Common Core is an unjust, unnecessary and unwanted commodity.  New Jersey had good standards.  We want them back!

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of the University of Arkansas, and one of only two experts on the original CCSS validation committee, said that the standards were inferior and refused to sign off on them.  She has since offered to write new standards, at no cost to the US DOE, however, that most generous offer was flatly negated.

Your office has twice denied CCSNJ a scheduled visit with you to explain our position; however, our children’s educational future hangs in the balance.  So, we are here to present you with our petitions to end this agenda now.  We hope you will stand with the voters, parents and most importantly the children of our great state and repeal   Common Core.

God bless you and may He guide your course going forward.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Janice Lenox__________________________     Carolyn B. Shirk___________________________

Michelle Mellon_______________________     Deborah Yoa_______________________________

 

 

———————————————————

 

It is remarkable that this scenario is replaying itself in state after state across this great nation.  Citizens who stand up and speak up for their rights and their children’s best interests in education and are being ignored, maligned, or threatened by the new ruling elite.  The new education elite is comprised of the members of the private trade organizations with the presumptuous sounding names like “National Governors’ Association,” or the equally unelected and equally presumptuous State Superintendents’ Club, the “Council of Chief State School Officers,” hand in hand with the federal Department of Education, the  corporations such as the British-owned education sales conglomerate Pearson Inc., and the philanthropists whose heavy handed generosity sets policy that governs millions, notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Call me crazy but I like liberty and self-government; I like the style of Americanism that the founders envisioned and set into the Declaration and the Constitution.  This new education-by-elite ain’t that.

Threatening Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth: Last Chance Public Meeting with USOE on Nationalized Science Standards   2 comments

 

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How Do the Common Core Science Standards Threaten Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth?

(This information is provided by Vince Newmeyer, a scientist and member of Utah’s science standards review committee.)

Please Attend:  Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Issues of controversy range from:

  • Politicized presentation of Global Warming and Environmentalism
  • Darwinian Dogma

o    The lack of an objective view of data

o    The indoctrination of a materialistic mantra, which excludes any data or logic that indicates that there is anything more than simply Matter and Energy as an explanation of human origins.

o    This enthroned materialistic view has a devastating affect on the morals of society as a whole.

  • Instances of bad science
  • Missing and “implicit” content
  • Artificial limits on learning
  • The failure to include essential math critical to science learning
  • Lack of depth in critical topics
  • Missing science foundations
  • The watering down of science with social issues
  • The failure to evaluate the whole of the NGSS and only looking at grades 6-8
  • The presentation to the public of only selected material, and not the full body of material that will be presented to our teachers
  • Submitting to a National Standard can bring Federal consequences if we should add to or deviate from those set standards in the future

 

I feel we would be selecting a substandard and politicized science program unfit for what the parents of Utah would really want for their public school students.

Students of Utah Families should be free to hear the full breadth of scientific evidence. Science teachers should not be shackled to sterilized arguments and filtered scientific facts, as we find in the NGSS standards, simply because other data points to what has become politically unpopular conclusions.  I firmly believe that we should not accept the substandard NGSS being proposed for our Utah students. We can do better!  – Vince Newmeyer

 

The Utah State Office of Education promised to never adopt national science standards, but that is exactly what they are doing. Watch this short video.  Ask yourself why the state was so determined not to adopt a nationalized set of science standards then, but are doing it now.  What changed?  Please share it with your legislators and state board member.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/
Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 19th

5:00 – 6:30 PM The PRE-MEETING – organized by parents

Day-Riverside Branch
Salt Lake City Public Library
1575 West 1000 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
7:00 PM- USOE meeting – official USOE meeting

Salt Lake Center for Science Education Media Center

1400 Goodwin Ave.

Salt Lake City Utah, UT 84116

Please Attend these Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

 

 

See also:

  • Updates at ScienceFreedom.org
  • Open letter from another member of the parent science review committee:   https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/open-letter-from-alisa-ellis-usoe-deliberately-withholding-actual-science-standards-from-public-scrutiny/
  • Kansas Parents suing Kansas Board over NGSS science standards  http://www.copeinc.org/science-readings.html      (Notice that the newspapers deride this parental group as an” anti-evolution” group; but the parents themselves call their group Citizens for Objective Public Education.  The parents are clamoring for actual science,  for open mindedness that includes the possibility of intelligent design in this universe.  It’s a very important word game that’s being played.  Which side is really for or against academic open dialogue, scientific freedom, true debate, and an open mind?  Which side is really pushing a one sided dogma and subjective, controlled learning?  Study it carefully.)

 

U.S. Senator David Vitters’ Privacy Bill in Congress Can Protect Student Data   1 comment

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Ever since that dark day three years ago when I received a written response from the State Office of Education saying that the answer to my question was “No,” –NO to the question of whether a student could attend school to simply learn (as opposed to being tracked at school, as “human capital” by the state and federal SLDS and P-20w data mining systems, without parental consent or knowledge)  –ever since that day, I’ve been on a quest to reclaim our basic constitutional freedom of privacy, the right to NOT be inventoried like merchandise of the state.

A lot of other people agree that privacy and freedom matter.   But not all.   The big money in big data is so big; data is the Gold Rush of our age, not to mention to big control issue “datapalooza movement” of our age, making it difficult to overpower the big data lobbyists and their giant piles of fat money that work very effectively against moms and dads and non-monied lobbyists and activists like you and me.

Twice, for example, a Utah state legislator has tried to run a privacy protection bill for Utah kids.  Two years in a row it hasn’t even gotten close to getting off the ground in the Utah legislature.  Seems that money and power talk more persuasively than children’s or family’s rights, even in Utah.

But today many organizations nationwide are joining to support and to push forward Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s congressional bill that returns control of education records to parents on the federal level.  It’s big news.  See Breitbart, The Hill, Truth in American Education.

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

  • The bill implements new, more robust guidelines, in order to protect student privacy, for schools and educational agencies to release education records to third parties, even in cases of recordkeeping.
  • These entities will be required to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Further, educational agencies, schools, and third parties will be held liable for violations of the law through monetary fines.

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

  • FERPA does not currently apply to students who do not attend a traditional education institution, such as students who are homeschooled, despite some states requiring homeschoolers to file information with their school district.
  • This bill extends FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

  • The bill prohibits educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Federal education funds will be prohibited from being used to collect any psychological or behavioral information through any survey or assessment.

 

Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

  • American Principles in Action
  • Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
  • Eagle Forum
  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Women on the Wall
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
  • Stop Early Childhood Common Core
  • Arkansans for Education Freedom
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents RISE
  • The Tea Party Network
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowa RestorEd
  • Iowa for Student Achievement
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Louisiana  Against Common Core
  • Common Core Forum
  • Stop Common Core Massachusetts
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Tennessee Against Common Core
  • Truth in Texas Education  
  • Truth in Catholic Education  
  • Utahns Against Common Core
  • WV Against Common Core
  • Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

 

Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill. 

Board@schools.utah.gov  is the email for all the members of the state school board.    Find congressional legislators and state legislators here:   http://www.utah.gov/government/contactgov.html
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P.S.      I often get asked why this matters.   Last week, for example, at the Salt Lake County Republican Organizing convention, people came up to the booth where I was answering questions and asked, “What information is being collected about my child?”  My response?  Rather than to point them to the National Data Collection Model data points that are being requested, I simply say this truth:  there are NO proper privacy protections in place; federal FERPA law was destroyed by the Dept. of Education, and we have no idea what information is being collected locally; we do know there is a database that we aren’t allowed to opt out of;  we do know that there are no prohibitions on the schools/state/federal government/corporations collecting as much as they can get away with.
We know that the National Data Collection Model invites and encourages schools and states to collect over 400 data points.  And we know that no laws currently prevent schools/states from doing so.  It is only good intentions and individual/district policy that is preventing an Orwellian data collection reality today.
We need to establish proper, real protections.  We need strong laws that establish that students and families, not the state/corporate/federal education forces, own the data and control the data.  We need opt out laws from participation in the database systems too.  We need to talk about this issue often and openly.  And the ball is in the parents’ court.  The boards aren’t fighting for data privacy.  The lobbyists are actively fighting against data privacy.  And no legislator will fight for your child until you demand that he does.
Ask your legislator to support Senator Vitters’ bill, and to write state laws that enforce these protections too.

New York Teacher: “Bald Piano Guy” Plays Now-Viral Billy Joel Anti-Common Core Songs   Leave a comment

“Bald Piano Guy” is a New York teacher who sings “Opting Out” to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Moving Out,” and sings “Seen Them Opting Out on Broadway” to the tune of “Seen the Lights go out on Broadway”. He sings “The Arrogant Man” dedicated to NY Governor Cuomo, to the tune of “Angry Young Man”.  He has many more YouTube performances but I’ll share just a few here.

I appreciate “Bald Piano Guy”!  I also feel jealous of the passion and care that New Yorkers and parents in many other states seem to have for honest education; they seem to have many more people on the ball about fighting for their rights of liberty than we do in Utah.  While New York opt outs are angering Arne Duncan and making headlines with hundreds of thousands of opt outs, and while zero juniors showed up to take the Common Core SBAC test at Seattle High School, here in Utah, opt out numbers are low and the State Office of Education pooh-poohs the concerns, research, and even the political rights of teachers and parents.

Hats off to this teacher, who chooses to be simply:  “Bald Piano Guy”.

New York and “Bald Piano Guy,” I feel you!

Pay attention to the lyrics of the last song especially:

“Just like the Battle of Saratoga turned around the American Revolution, the revolution against standardized testing began in New York State….

I’ve seen them opting out on Broadway from Babylon to Buffalo. Parental anger up in Albany; they chased the Senators to the stop at Ramapo.

They tore the Common Core in Plattsburgh and threw the tests into Oyster Bay.

The governor lost his clout the day they opted out.

 And schools could live another day

… They slam-dunked Pearson there in Syracuse.

 They never made a truce

with children’s lives at stake.

They all refused the test in Lockport and Rockville Center rocked with rage.

Assemblymen took flight

when parents showed their might

and shredded booklets page by page.

 You know they opted out on Broadway.  But those refusals meant much more.

It’s ’cause America took note of this

and forced the government to kill the Common Core.

When parents stand up for their children

how can opponents still survive?

We’ll tell the world about

the way we opted out

and kept our public schools alive

…. Agree or disagree with opting out, the power of a parent can spark a revolution.”

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National Opt Out Movement Update:

Bob Schaeffer, of Fairtest.org in Colorado,  again provided the following links of news updates about the national opt out movement:

U.S. Opt-Out Movement Explodes, Test-and-Punish Empire Strikes Back
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guisbond/the-testing-optout-moveme_b_7222544.html
Federal Education Department Disinformation Campaign Seeks to Quell Opt-Out Movement
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/06/education-dept-disinformation-aims-to-quell-opt-out.html

Arizona Seven Schools Implicated in Exam Cheating Scandal
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2015/05/11/did-seven-schools-in-arizona-cheat-on-high-stakes-tests-and-is-it-really-only-seven

California
Standardized Testing Sparks Backlash
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/california-standardized-tests-spark-backlash-in-oakland/Content?oid=4269257

Colorado
Legislature Passes Modest Assessment Reform “Compromise” in Final Hours of Session
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2015/05/06/testing-agreement-comes-in-sessions-final-hours/#.VUqwtEZLUZw

Connecticut
Officials Confuse Parents About Test Opt Outs
http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/05/06/on-common-core-sbac-still-left-asking-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-these-people/

Delaware
House Overwhelmingly Supports Opt-Out Rights
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/05/07/house-passes-testing-opt-legislation/70966896/

Florida
Ongoing Computer Testing Programs Disrupts School Schedules
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-computer-testing-schools-20150505-story.html
Florida Elected Officials Don’t Subject Their Own Kids to the Standardized Exam Frenzy They Mandate
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-school-testing-scott-maxwell-20150507-column.html

Georgia
Exams Leave Some Feeling “Testy”
http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/26615357/article-Georgia-Voices–Exams-have-some-feeling-testy
Atlanta Test Cheating Hurt Students’ Reading Performance
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2015/05/atlanta_schools_test-cheating_.html

Louisiana
Testing Overkill Drives Veteran Teachers Out of the Profession
http://www.katc.com/story/29029794/lack-of-education-veteran-educators-walk-away-from-the-profession

Massachusetts
Teachers Say PARCC Test is “Bar to Real Work”
http://www.cambridgeday.com/2015/05/06/teachers-renew-efforts-against-parcc-test-as-bar-to-real-work-student-has-other-way-to-reduce-stress/
Mass. Teachers Association Supports Parental Opt-Out Rights
http://massteacher.org/news/archive/2015/annual_meeting_coverage.aspx

Maine Legislature Hears Bill to Eliminate Smarter Balanced Test
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/education/2015/05/11/state-test-bills/27136703/

Michigan
District Super and PTA President Outline Five Ways to Improve State Assessments
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/5_ways_to_improve_standardized.html

Mississippi
Educators Protest Politically Set Test-Score Cutoff That Could Hold Back 6,000 Third Graders
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/07/nearly-6k-could-repeat-third-grade/70947606/

Montana
State Testing Will Not Come Close to 95% Participation
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/5/montana-unlikely-to-meet-test-participation-requir/

New Hampshire
Parents on a Mission
http://www.ledgertranscript.com/home/16720744-95/parents-on-a-mission

New Jersey
Students Share Thoughts on PARCC
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2015/05/08/students-parcc/26980093/

New York
English Language Arts Test Opt Outs Topped 205,000 Statewide
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview
N.Y. Educators Have Lengthy Grievance List Against State Assessments
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/233549/educators-have-lengthy-grievance-list-about-evaluations/

North Dakota Computerized Testing Glitches Hurt Students
http://www.grandforksherald.com/opinion/our-opinion/3742822-our-opinion-testing-glitches-hurt-students-common-core

Ohio Super Says K-3 Literacy Test Scores Are Unfair
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local-education/literacy-scores-unfair-springfield-superintendent-/nmCYZ/

Oklahoma
School Testing Error Affecting Thousands of Students
http://www.newson6.com/story/28985864/oklahoma-school-testing-error-affecting-thousands-of-students

Pennsylvania Overhaul of Federal, State Laws Needed to Curb Testing Frenzy
http://thenotebook.org/blog/158537/nclb-rewrite-relieve-standardized-testing-abuse-opt-out-frenzy
Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Are One Big Headache for Students
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-lehigh-valley-keystone-project-based-assessments-20150509-story.html#page=1

Texas Governor Signs Law Exempting Thousands of Seniors From Graduation Exams
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20150511-abbott-signs-bill-exempting-thousands-of-high-school-seniors-from-graduation-exams.ece

Vermont
Testing is Profitable But Not for Students
http://www.vnews.com/home/16811190-95/steve-nelson-testing-is-profitable-but-not-for-students

Virginia
Parents Learn How to Keep Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests
http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2015/05/06/in-a-season-of-testing-how-to-avoid-them/70901846/
Virginia is Sadly Obsessed With State Testing
http://www.newsleader.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/05/09/sadly-obsessed-sols/27062009/

Washington
Students Protest Common Core Exams
http://www.keprtv.com/news/local/Students-protest-Common-Core-testing-302683131.html
Maryville, Washington, Teachers Hold One-Day Strike Over Funding, Testing
http://www.marysvilleglobe.com/news/302779281.html#

Wisconsin State Legislature Advances Bill to Make Opting Out Easier
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_28068256/wisconsin-bill-would-make-opting-out-school-tests

Contact U.S. Senators for Less Testing, More Learning
http://www.fairtest.org/roll-back-standardized-testing-send-letter-congres

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As I’ve said before, please be wise and very careful about what happens in each of our states as a replacement for high stakes testing.  The controlistas love to take a crisis and turn it to their own advantage.

In Utah we are on another brink of doing something exceedingly stupid right now:  Utah’s legislature has created a task force that will promote the idea of stealth assessment, or embedded, hidden tests in assignments.  This absolutely kills privacy and kills parents’ ability to opt out or even to know when tests are happening at all.  Think I’m kidding?  Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution passed this last legislative session.  See line 66 and ask your legislator exactly what it means.  

Detailed Schedule: Band of Mothers Event at UVU this Wednesday, May 13   Leave a comment

The Band of Mothers Tour proudly presents the “Empowering Parents Symposium,” convening to present freedom’s true fight for children this Wednesday, May 13th, at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

Have you registered yet?  (Click here!)

 

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Here’s the outline.  Starting at 9:00 a.m., attendees will choose from nine available workshops held in classrooms at the UVU Sorenson Center (see below – detailed workshop information follows).

Following the workshops, attendees will enjoy an elegant luncheon while hearing from KNRS star Rod Arquette.  In the evening, the symposium reconvenes at the UVU Ragan Theater 6:00 with entertainment and discussion starting with the Five Strings Band, followed by keynote speakers Senator Al Jackson,  Analyst Joy Pullman and Child Rescuer Tim Ballard.  The evening’s finale will be “The Abolitionist,” the documentary movie, introduced by its star, Tim Ballard, founder of the truly amazing rescue force, Operation Underground Railroad.

Operation-Underground-Railroad

 

If you haven’t registered yet, please click here.  Donations are appreciated and needed, but all the evening events are free and the morning workshops only cost $5 apiece.  You can register at UACC or just show up.  Remember: all events are first-come, first-served, with registered attendees having priority.  (If you happen to own filming equipment, please bring it and film the workshops that you attend.)

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If you want to hear Rod Arquette’s power-packed talk at mid-day and haven’t registered for the catered lunch, you have now missed the deadline for the order, but you can brown-bag it or come listen without eating.

To see “The Abolitionist” documentary, come very early because the seats will be filled up in the Ragan Theater by those who are there for the earlier events that begin at 6:00.

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Here’s the morning workshop schedule.  (Descriptions and teacher bios further below.)

  • 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. – Choose from:

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

  • 10:00 to 10:55 – Choose from:

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

  • 11:00 to 11:55 – Choose from:

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

 

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MORNING WORKSHOPS – Register here.

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Detailed Class Descriptions with Teacher Bios:

9:00 to 9:55 a.m.

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

The word “Education” has been redefined.  Education used to evoke images of children and youth engaged in the learning process as they discover their own endless potential.  With recent educational changes, “Education” brings an image of frustration, canned answers and testing.  What is the purpose of this new form of “Education”?  What can you do about it?

Jenny Baker is the founder of Return to Parental Rights and The Gathering Families Project.  She has just returned from the United Nations as part of the Big Ocean Women delegation which hopes to raise awareness of the anti-family ideas that affect our world.  Jenny lives in St. George, Utah and is married to Blake Baker.  She is the mother of five daughters.

Stories_BakerFamily

 

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2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

Technology has opened Pandora’s Box by giving government and private organizations the power to collect very private information about people and create unerasable dossiers that can follow them for life.  What is possible now– how can we benefit from technology while controlling it, and what are ways people can reclaim their personal property from the institutions taking it without consent?

joyJoy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3.  Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

This class is an introduction to the principles of liberty embedded in the Constitution.  It explains the Founders’ “success formula” based on their thorough study and knowledge of history, past civilizations and human nature.  Learn the principles behind what George Washington called “the science of government” which, when applied, yields results that can be predicted and replicated.

Watching the news can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.  Studying eternal principles of agency will leave you feeling empowered, joyful and hopeful!

laureen

Laureen Simper taught junior high English and reading before raising her two children.  She has run a private Suzuki piano studio for much of 31 years.

 

stacie t

Stacie Thornton was the financial administrator for the U.S. District Court in Utah before marrying and raising five children.  She began homeschooling nearly 20 years ago, and continues now with her two youngest children.

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10:00 to 10:55

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

big ocean

Learn about international organizations and their motivations behind data collection.  Come unite in standing in defense of our families:  find out what you can do and what we can do together.

carolina

Carolina S. Allen is the founder and president of Big Ocean Women which is an international grassroots “maternal feminist” movement taking the world by storn. Recently representing at the United Nations this past march, their message is picking up steam internationally.  Big Ocean Women are uniting in behalf of faith, family and healing the world in their own way, on their own terms.  Carolina is the happy homeschool mother of five.

michelle boulter

Michelle Boulter is a mother of three boys.  She recently attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.  She currently serves on the board of Big Ocean Women over politics and policy.  She is co-founder of Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families.  Her passion is to empower other families to be primary educators in the lives of their children.

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2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

This class is a short history lesson explaining why and how American education shifted from supporting self-government through individual and local action into a massive national conglomerate where no one is responsible but everyone is cheated.

joy

 

Joy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

Heather Gardner will speak about the parental rights laws that are in place –and the laws that are lacking– for the protection of children and the rights of parents in determining what they will be taught and who can access data collected on individual children.  Know the law and know your rights.

 

heather gardner

 

Heather Gardner is a former state school board candidate and is currently a middle school teacher at Liberty Hills Academy, a private school in Bountiful, Utah.  She was appointed by Senator Niederhauser to the standards review committee for Fine Arts in Utah.  She has been actively involved in supporting parental rights via media interviews and grassroots efforts during legislative sessions.  She and her husband are the parents of five children.  Heather is an advocate for students, special needs children, teachers and parents.

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11:00 to 11:55

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

Utah is in the process of adopting new science standards.  Contrary to public pronouncements from officials of the State Office of Education, on multiple occasions and before a variety of legislative bodies, that Utah would not adopt common national standards, there is now an admission that this is precisely what is happening.  Just what is in these standards that would be troubling for most Utah parents– and what can we do about it?

politics of science 10

Vince Newmeyer has had a lifelong love of science.  He attended BYU studying engineering, and has dabbled with experiments and inventions.  Vince ran his own computer consulting company, designed and built solar power installations, and engaged in electronic technical work.  Vince took an intense interest in evolutionary thought in 1998 and has studied it deeply since that time.  As an amateur geologist and science buff, he has done extensive research on topics in geology, biology, physics, astronomy and earth sciences.  He speaks about data which fundamentally challenges current popular views on our origins.

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2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

Should you opt your children out?  Come learn about SAGE testing and why thousands of parents are choosing to opt their children out.

wend

Wendy Hart:  “First and foremost, I am a mom.  I have three kids and a wonderful husband.  The responsibility I have for my children’s well being motivates me to ensure that they have the best education possible.  I currently have the honor of representing Alpine, Cedar Hills, and Highland residents on the Alpine School Board.

I started my own data migration and programming business 14 years ago.  Before establishing my own business, I worked for various local companies doing database migration and analysis, as well as project management.  I graduated from BYU cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a French minor.  I served a mission for my church in Northern France and Brussels, Belgium.  Raised in Cupertino, CA (home of Apple Computers) I am the oldest of five girls.  I play the piano and harp, and I like to sing.”

 

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3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

Centrally managed education policy is weaking Utah family rights, responsibilities and relationships.  We need to “run, not walk” to turn this around.  What could we accomplish with 1,000 active, local groups of families in Utah who know each other, meet regularly, set and achieve specific goals, and synchronize efforts with other groups?  Come learn how to:

  • Organize and nurture a local group
  • Conduct effective, action-oriented meetings
  • Coordinate with other group leaders to support education policies that “put family first”.

 

 

jared carmen

 

Jared Carmen is a husband, dad, citizen lobbyist on education issues, member of the Utah Instructional Materials Commission, and advisory board member for a K-8 private school in Salt Lake City.  He holds an MS in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and is the founder/owner of two online learning companies.  He serves his precinct as a state delegate.

 

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EVENING EVENTS – Register here.

Evening events begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Ragan Theater at UVU

FIVE STRINGS BAND

five strings

SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

al jackson

JOY PULLMAN

joy

TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

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abolitionist movie

abolition poster

Letter from Local School Board Member to State School Board   4 comments

This letter is reposted with permission from its author, Wendy Hart of Alpine School Board, of Utah’s largest school district.

wendy alyson

Wendy Hart is sitting on the left in this photo.

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Dear State Board Members,

I am asking that you restart the entire process of science standards adoption.  There is a very real, very large deficit of public trust on the issue of standards.  While I appreciate the parent review committees and the public comment periods, it really is the perception that this was a ‘done deal’.  The subsequent release of the Fine Arts standards that are identical to the national fine arts standards indicates a desire by either this Board or the USOE or both to completely align everything we do to a national set of standards created by a national set of ‘supposed’ experts in these fields.  The assumption that national (or broadly-adopted) standards are inherently superior is flawed, as is the assertion that a lack of national (or broadly-adopted) standards will  prohibit individual students to grow up to be successful, educated individuals.  Some high-performing nations have national standards, but about the same number do not.

Here are some of my concerns and requests.

The most major concern is that of creating uniformity and centralization.  Education is not something that can or should be standardized.  We like to think that there are certain basics that all kids should know, and there may be, but they are very broad and many must keep the individual child in mind.  In point of fact, that is why we have teachers…to customize and personalize this process of every individual.  Our system of education has been extremely successful when we harness the power of the individual, and not try to fit everyone into the same mold.  I realize with accountability measures, this is a very difficult thing to do.  But it doesn’t get easier when we buy into the idea that we will be left behind if we don’t keep up with the national standards group du jour.   While that may be true, we will never have the opportunity to excel either.  And, I’m afraid, that is the intent.  When we have no risk, we have no chance of failure, but we have no chance of success either.  Centralization removes the flexibility of adaptation and change.  Even if we have the power to change, in a few years, we will lack the ability due to SAT, GED, ACT and textbooks all aligning.  We have to be completely sure that these are the very best standards and that we will NEVER want to change without the rest of the states going along.

Additionally, adopting national or broadly adopted standards has been touted as allowing teachers greater resources.  I have heard this repeated over many years as justification for national or frequently adopted standards.  We have felt slighted in the past for having had our own standards.  However, I hope you understand that in trying to find non-CC textbooks and materials, right now, it is virtually impossible.   You have to order out-of-print materials and lots of things on eBay.  Common Core was officially adopted by 46 state only 5 years ago.  So, while you may have a lot of materials to choose from that are aligned to CC, they are really shades of gray.  Bright colors and pastels no longer exist.  There are no laboratories of education that are trying different ideas and finding success or failure.  There is no compelling free-market interest to create or to continue to supply textbooks and teaching materials to the small private and homeschool market and the 5 states that didn’t sign on to Common Core.  It’s a boon for the textbook suppliers–one set of standards equals one set of teaching materials that can be moved around and modified, but, ultimately, stay the same.  (Bill Gates predicted as much, and was quite excited about it.  Bill Gates at the National Conference of State Legislatures clip on Common Core )  It has been suggested that because of this lack of resources, we MUST align our standards to those of other states.  With all due respect, we will then be hastening the demise of diversity and options.  We are walking directly into that trap and helping set the bait for others.

At the end of the day, each of you has the burden of proof, as our elected representatives, to explain the following to us, the parents and citizens of Utah, for every set of standards that you adopt.
1.) What is lacking in our current set of standards?  Please be specific; don’t just say ‘they need to be updated’.  With all due respect, if our previous standards were based on truth and objective fact, then, unless there have been changes, and science would be one of those areas where I would agree there are probably ‘holes’, there is no need to throw out the objective truth that we are already teaching.  Can we simply ‘tweak’ what we have now?2.) What is the evidence that the proposed set of standards will be able to fill those gaps in our current standards?3.) Have the proposed standards been either pilot-tested (for how long, what were the demographics, what were the metrics used to show improvement) or, as a baseline, benchmarked against other states or countries that we feel confident have been successful with this particular discipline?  (And what are those metrics?)

4.) Taken as a whole, over the course of 13 years, is there a prevailing worldview that emerges, and if so, is that worldview consistent with the diversity and the values of the citizens of this state? Do we seek to provide a broad, general knowledge, without influencing the attitudes, values, and beliefs of our students?

5.) What are the pieces that are missing from the current standards?  For example, the NGSS does not address Life Systems, specifically body systems, or Computer Science.  Climate change is heavily emphasized, but electric circuits are briefly mentioned.  While I appreciate both climate change and electric circuits being taught, it appears, at least to me, that there is an over-emphasis of one at the expense of others.  It is usually easier to find problems in things that exist.  It is much more difficult to take the time to determine what isn’t even there.  (This concept is why the request to point out the standards one doesn’t like doesn’t work.  I can point to those I don’t like, but I can’t point to those that do not exist but should.)

6.) Do the standards seek to obtain compliance of thought, instead of an understanding of the rationale and disagreements involved in controversial or politically charged issues?  This is especially important in science.  If we create a generation of students who believe that all science is not to be questioned, we have failed in our task.  Science is always to be questioned, and refined.  We should be constantly looking for ways to support or to disprove the current knowledge of the day.

7.) Have you looked at some of the available curricular materials, as well as other states’ implementations, to make sure that implementation of these standards, while supposedly wonderful in theory, won’t fall flat in the application?  My past experience with the adoption of new standards and ‘programs’ (over the last decade) has been a trail of grand promises and disappointing results that are always blamed on local districts and teachers.  There has never been, to my knowledge, a set of bad standards.  It’s always, we are told, just poor implementation.  With all due respect, if a set of standards can’t be implemented successfully in at least 51% of the schools, then they should not be adopted, no matter what the claims and promises.  (Please see item #3.)

8.) Is there enough emphasis on fact and foundational knowledge?  There is a trend to focus on the ‘critical thinking’ and to not get bogged down into rote memorization.  While I can appreciate and respect that position, it is impossible to have critical thinking about any issue without the foundational, factual knowledge of the subject.  Especially for children in the early grades who have limited abstraction and limited reasoning skills, are we allowing and encouraging those fact-based pieces of information that will form the foundation for greater understanding later on?

9.)  Will these standards strengthen the parent-child relationship or hinder it?  For example, implementing standards that parents don’t understand, no matter how great they are supposed to be, creates a rift between parent and child.  This is an unacceptable consequence for an education system that is supposed to be secondary and supportive to the primary role of the parent in educating his or her children.  The more involved parents are, the better the academic success of the child.  That is the number one factor in student success… the parent, not the standards.  We need to keep that in mind.

Having attended the Provo meeting last night, I heard a lot of promises and things that sounded really good.  I have heard all those things as they relate to Common Core and Investigations Math.  In both instances, the promises did not materialize.  Please do not adopt standards based on promises.  Please adopt standards based on fact, and knowledge, and proof, not just the opinion of ‘experts’.  Sometimes ‘experts’ are wrong or have their own agendas too.

The burden of proof is not on the people to show that the standards are bad, or wrong, or insufficient.  It is up to you to demonstrate to us that adopting these new standards will provide the opportunity for each, individual student in Utah to live up to their potential, to be free to choose their own direction in life.

Thank you for all the long hours that you spend in our service and your willingness to listen, even when we disagree.  It is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Wendy Hart
Mother of 3
Highland, UT
Board Member, Alpine School District, Alpine/Cedar Hills/Highland
Business Owner

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