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CHILDREN’S FREEDOMS ARE AT RISK – UVU MAY 13th JOINT SYMPOSIUM – PLEASE COME!   Leave a comment

 YOU ARE INVITED TO AN AMAZING EVENT. REGISTER TODAY.

wendy alyson

  • What:  A day-long symposium dedicated to learning how to preserve freedom for children. You can –for free or almost for free– attend workshops, hear speakers, enjoy live music; have lunch while being taught by famous freedom fighters; watch the Operation Underground Railroad movie “The Abolitionists,” and mingle all day long with local, national, and international warriors in the battle for freedom for children.  This event is brought to you by a joint coalition of organizations concerned for children and family freedom, including:  Family First Utah, Big Ocean Women, Operation Underground Railroad, Constitution Mothers, Utahns Against Common Core, Utah Opt Out of Sage Testing, Eagle Forum, Locally Directed Education, and countless individuals who truly care about freedom for children.
  • Why: Because children’s freedom is at risk, both locally and abroad
  • When:  Wednesday, May 13th, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Workshops will be held at Sorenson Student Center, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT (park by student center.)  Evening events start at 6:30 at Ragan Theater at Utah Valley University.
  • Who:   YOU!
  • Speakers:   Band of Mothers – Joy Pullman – Big Ocean WomenJenny BakerOperation Underground RailroadTim Ballard –  KNRS’s Rod ArquetteFive Strings Musical Group – Senator Al Jackson – Juleen Jackson – Wendy Hart – Jared Carmen – Family First Utah – Heather Zahn Gardner – Parents Against Common Science Standards – Vince Newmeyer –  Utahns Against Common Core  – Constitution Mothers – Laureen Simper and Stacie Thornton.
  • Entertainment:   “The Abolitionists” – a documentary film about Operation Underground Railroad’s ongoing rescue operation that saved over 300 trafficked child sex slaves last year, in its first year of operation.  Free at this special event.
  • abolitionist movie    abolition poster
  • Also:  Five Strings Musical Group – a Southern Utah-based family of incredible musicians.  –Free at this special event.   five strings
  • Cost:  Free events include the evening speakers, music, and film;  morning workshops:  $5 for the whole bundle;  bring-your-own-lunch training costs $5;  eating the catered lunch with training included costs $15.
  • Space limited:  Workshops are held in classrooms and will be closed as soon as they are filled up on the day of the event.  First come, first served.  Ragan Theater evening events are held in a 400-person capacity setting; first come, first served.
  • PLEASE PRE-REGISTER.  Please pre-register even if you are only attending the free events by clicking here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/symposium.  Below are photos of some of the people and presentations you’ll encounter.

 

juleen jacksonjoybomrodOURal jacksonbig oceanemily bopt out 2015heather gardnerjared carmen

 

renee braddygaylelaureentim speak

 

Utah State Office of Education Lies to Legislature and Board about National Common Science Standards Adoption   Leave a comment

You can’t just watch this; you have to act:  email your legislators and school board members and members of the media.

One dog barking does not wake up a town.  Ten thousand barking dogs will.

This short, seven minute video is a powerful documentation that uses the actual voices from recorded audio and video from legislative meetings and school board retreats that show the trail of promises broken and the belittling and bullying happening to our legislators, parents, and teachers by the Utah State Office of Education.

  • You will hear the USOE curriculum director promising an elected school board that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE superintendent promising the Utah legislature that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE representative justifying the adoption of the common science standards and their hiding of the true science standards, giving parents a watered down, fake version –even during the time that USOE has an official “public comment” period happening— with the excuse that parents would find the standards “overwhelming”.

 

Please watch and share.

Open Letter from Alisa Ellis: USOE Deliberately Withholding Actual Science Standards from Public Scrutiny   Leave a comment

alisa

 

Alisa Ellis, parent member of Utah’s Science Standards Review Committee, is calling for an immediate stop to:

 

1- the USOE’s public comment survey –because USOE has only allowed the public and the parent review committee to see a sterilized, watered down version, rather than a true, full version of the common science standards and appendices that teachers will be using– yet USOE is asking the public to comment in this blind manner;

2- the USOE’s statewide tour, aimed to give parents the impression that they have been given full disclosure of the new science standards.  Since the science standards that the public is being shown, upon which the public has been asked to comment, are not the same as the standards that teachers are to be using, nor  the same as the standards upon which the parent review committee was asked to work, this tour to present the standards is at best, partially truthful and at worst, a deliberate deception.)

Here’s Alisa’s  letter to the state school board:

 

Board Members,

 

The public comment period of the proposed science standards needs to stop immediately and be restarted with the correct document.  Mr. Scott admitted on Tuesday night that the teachers will not be presented with the draft of standards that the public is being asked to review but with the full version from Achieve’s Next Generation Science Standards.  I don’t believe this review falls within the provisions of the law.  The law does not say, “present the public with the watered down version because it would be “too overwhelming” for them to see the full version”.  This is what was suggested was the reason for not presenting the public with the full version.

 

The NGSS have many things included besides simply the performance expectations.  The full version has clarification statements, assessment boundaries; the full NRC framework with all the cross-walking to the Common Core standards and appendices.  It is my right as a parent and citizen to be shown exactly what will be taught to my children..  This is both according to federal law and state law.

 

Therefore it is my recommendation that the public review period ceases immediately.  It is apparent that the power structure is willing to do whatever it takes to push forth their agenda so I would also recommend starting fresh with a new writing and lead team.

 

Also, board member Dixie Allen claimed at the meeting in Vernal that the standards committee knew all along that the Next Generation Science Standards were being used.  Mr. Scott also claimed that the draft given to the parent review committee, of which I am a member, was presented with a draft that cited the NGSS and NRC framework.  This is not accurate.  I have the copy in front of me and there is no mention of the NGSS standards.  In fact, Sarah Young, at our first meeting proudly talked of all the hard work the writing team was putting into writing these “UT science standards” when in fact they were simply reorganizing the format and order of the national science standards.

 

This board has the desire to improve public relations, but with the deceptive and dishonest way things are presented I worry the gap in public trust is growing wider and wider.  Also, as the state office of ed is currently facing a lawsuit for the lack of parental involvement surrounding the adoption of Common Core it would behoove the board to put a stop to the deceptive manner information is fed to the public.

 

Also, in the Vernal meeting Mr. Scott revealed that the writing team which he renamed the “organizing team” was given 6 sets of standards to pick from.

 

  •  I am formally requesting the names and titles of the individuals that chose the sets of standards the committee was allowed to choose from.
  • I am requesting the six sets of standards offered the committee
  • I am requesting the names and titles of every member of the writing/organizing team (I asked for this last fall)
  • I am requesting all correspondence between the above requested individuals with staff and board members.

I also became aware today of an implementation guide published by ACHIEVE for the 6-8 grade standards.  Here is an excerpt:

propaganda achieve

  • Therefore, I am also formally requesting all minutes from meetings and discussions, both with board members and without, surrounding the revision of science standards.
  • There were cameras present at the December review committee meeting held at the State Capitol.  I am requesting a copy of all raw video.

As these requests will benefit the public at large, I am requesting all fees be waived and the process be expedited.  I understand that correspondence between individuals will take longer than some of the other requests, I would like to see the committee names and standards immediately while the other information is being gathered.

 

Further, there was an attempt at the meeting this week to prevent recording of the meeting which would be in direct violation of open meeting laws.  There was also an attempt to suggest committee members identities were to be kept private, which is also a direct violation of open meeting laws.  Please do everything in your power to stop this practice.

 

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

 

 

This 7 minute video explains the deception using audio from legislative meetings and board retreats.

 

This video from the Vernal USOE science standards meeting below shows Mr. Ricky Scott of the USOE with Alisa Ellis asking questions about why the board refused to show the real standards to parents, citing “not overwhelming” parents as a reason for the lack of transparency.

 

——————–

Please support Alisa’s call for honesty and integrity in the process of setting Utah’s academic standards.  Contact the state school board members today, asking for a full disclosure of the actual science standards to the public and an immediate ceasing of the tour and public comment survey as it stands.  Include a copy of your letter to your local school board and to your elected representatives in the legislature.  Find your senator or representative here.

And come to the upcoming Provo, Salt Lake, and Ogden meetings, if the USOE fails to listen to Alisa by halting these planned public meetings.

 

District 1: Terryl Warner
623 Anderson Avenue
Hyrum UT 84319
435.512.5241
Terryl.Warner6@gmail.com

District 2: Spencer F. Stokes
4259 Skyline Drive
Ogden, UT 84403
801.923.4908
utahboard2@gmail.com

District 3: Linda B. Hansen
5149 Village Wood Drive
West Valley City, UT 84120
801.966.5492
linda.hansen@schools.utah.gov

District 4: Dave Thomas (First Vice Chair)
7875 South 2250 East
South Weber, UT 84405
801-479-7479
dthomas@summitcounty.org

District 5: Laura Belnap
845 East 1500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010
801.699.7588
lbelnap@utahonline.org

District 6: Brittney Cummins
4601 Poseidon Drive
West Valley City, UT 840120
801.969.5712
b4cummins@gmail.com

District 7: Leslie B. Castle
2465 St. Mary’s Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
801.581.9752
lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com

District 8: Jennifer A. Johnson (Second Vice Chair)
802 Winchester Street, #100
Murray, UT 84107
801.742.1616
jj@jenniferajohnson.com

District 9: Joel Wright
9102 Silver Lake Drive
Cedar Hills, UT 84062
801.426.2120
joel.wright..uted@gmail.com

District 10: Dave Crandall (Chair)
13464 Saddle Ridge Drive
Draper, UT 84020
801.232.0795
crandall@xmission.com

District 11: Jefferson Moss
1668 Aspen Circle
Saratoga Springs, UT 84045
801.916.7386
jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com

District 12: Dixie L. Allen
218 West 5250 North
Vernal, UT 84078
435.789.0534
dixieleeallen@gmail.com

District 13: C. Mark Openshaw
3329 Piute Drive
Provo, UT 84604
801.377.0790
markopenshaw@gmail.com

District 14: Mark Huntsman
435 South 700 East
Fillmore, UT 84631
435.979.4301
mhuntsman@sunrise-eng.com

District 15: Barbara Corry
1022 Cedar Knolls
Cedar City, UT 84720
435.586.3050
Barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov

Appointed Board Members:

Teresa Theurer
322 East 2280 North, #D
North Logan, UT 84341
435.753.0740
teresatheurer1@gmail.com

Marlin K. Jensen
1500 North 7900 East
Huntsville, UT 84317
801.718.0858
jensenmk@ldschurch.org

Freddie Cooper
1307 West 200 North
Clearfield, UT 84015-8601
801.773.2426
freddiecooper1@comcast.net

Kristin Elinkowski
3261 Twin Peaks Drive
Layton, UT 84040
801.941.1789
kelinkowski@msn..com

Dean Rowley
526 South 170 West
Springville, UT 84663
801. 489-6935
dbrowley@q..com

Reject Biased NGSS Science Standards May 6 in Provo   2 comments

The Vernal and St. George science standards meetings have passed, but you can still attend the Provo, North Logan, and Salt Lake City meetings.  The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) has set them up for parents and teachers to give input or to question the adoption of common, national standards for science for Utah.

Here are the remaining dates and addresses.  Please come!  You don’t have to be a scientist.  You just have to care about defending principles of academic honesty, academic freedom, and preserving our students’ right to debate and discover truth, unfettered to a politically slanted set of science standards.

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

For a long time, the USOE was pretending that the revisions of Utah’s science standards were not the national, common science standards, (Next-Generation Science Standards or NGSS) and were saying that these new standards were just a revision.  Now USOE admits this is actually NGSS, which is created by the same businessmen (at Achieve, Inc.) that wrote Common Core standards for English and math.  USOE is defending the upcoming adoption, a facade-dropping that might have something to do with the fact that at least two parents who served on the committee to review Utah’s science standards, Alisa Ellis and Vincent Newberg, have spoken out and have exposed Utah’s adoption of NGSS.

This week, Alisa Ellis posted the following chart, showing that Utah’s “new, revised” science core is the exact same thing as the NGSS standards, word for word, but with renumbering.  Vincent has pointed out that the NGSS standards are extremely biased and politically slanted, with “climate change” being presented over fifty times while electricity is mentioned once; with Darwinism presented as if it were settled science while life sciences like in-depth cell structure study, the human respiratory system, and other basic biology concepts being pushed aside in favor of the politicized environmental agenda.

If nobody shows up, speaks up, or posts comments at the USOE’s public comment site (only good for 90 days) then they’ll push forward with this agenda.  Please show up and speak up.

After you leave your comments at the USOE’s survey monkey, please copy and paste your comments into an email for the local and state school boards.   State email:  Board@schools.utah.gov 

ngss 1ngss 2

Alisa  Ellis also gave me permission to post her letter here, which went to the state school board.  I appreciate her insistence that Mr. Scott, the USOE and the State Board cease censoring public comment.  This censorship of the public happened when the public was asked to give comment about the English and math common standards by the Governor last year (two and a half years after Utah had adopted Common Core).

Only standards-specific comments were admitted!  This ridiculous censoring practice pretends there are no problems with national standards outside their content.  But there are two huge prongs to the pitchfork:  content, and control.  Trying to limit public comment to content-only issues just ignores the big problem of loss of local control and academic liberty.

 

Letter from Alisa Ellis:

 

State Board Members,

 

I’m writing to encourage you all to attend one of the 4 remaining science meetings that are being held around the state.  I was very disappointed to hear that not one elected official was at the meeting in St. George last week.  After one mom in attendance wrote to her local school board expressing her disappointment that they weren’t in attendance, a board member told her that they had no idea the meeting was taking place.  This is the same story we’re finding across the state.  

While it is your job to set the standards, the local boards will have to implement them.  Notice should be sent to each local board in the state inviting them to these meetings.  I already covered Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne for you.  

After enduring years of pushback by citizens that are in-part frustrated by the lack of discussion with parents prior to adoption of Common Core, I expected to see these meetings advertised far and wide to get as many people there as possible.  Each district has systems capable of calling or email every parent in the district.  Why aren’t these systems being utilized?  I sit in disbelief that I, a parent, have to ask friends to help me advertise, email local boards, get on the radio, etc to draw attendance to these meetings.  It’s unbelievable.  Please stop doing the bare minimum in advertising these events.  It doesn’t have to cost money to get the word out.

It is also reprehensible the first meeting was only announced 2 days before.  

According to the UT constitution it is the board’s job not the staff of the USOE to set standards.  That means the responsibility lies on your heads.  I’m tired of the the staff being the ones that shield the elected officials from those that elect them.  By not attending these meetings and only listening to Ricky Scott’s report, you will be getting a sanitized/ censored version of public feedback. 

Mr. Scott informed attendees that he would only be taking specific criticism and when given specific feedback he didn’t agree with, the citizens felt ignored.  I understand the desire by the staff to keep the discussion focused on specific problems with the standards, but that is not the only complaint the public has.  As elected officials you don’t get to tell us what we’re allowed to be concerned about.  While important, it leaves no room for philosophical complaints.  For instance, I see many, many problems with the specific standards but I also 100% do not agree with using a national standard, whether federal or private industry; it is not in line with my vision of education.  Children should not be standardized.

 Please take some initiative and stop the censoring of comments, unless they disparage individuals by name, or use foul language, etc.

 Alisa Ellis

 

————————————-

 

Fordham Institute rated Utah’s science standards as being higher than the NGSS.  So why is the USOE pushing so hard to adopt NGSS?

The biggest and ugliest answer may be that although Utah’s SAGE test, written by American Institutes for Research, already aligns to common core math and English, it doesn’t align with common science standards yet.  Since Utah’s  AIR/SAGE test is not (for science) yet aligned to the federally synchronized SBAC and PARCC tests, student scores cannot be understood by the overlords in their federal, common Edfacts Data Exchange lens.   So the feds are most likely pressuring the USOE to align.

The question is, will parents and teachers just be too busy; will they just roll over; will they let someone else worry about it?  Or will they stand up and say no?

Once lost, these freedoms don’t come back.

 

This video documents the deception history of the USOE and its false promises to legislators to NOT adopt nationalized science standards:

 

Please Show Up to Push Back on Science Standards at Statewide USOE Meetings Starting TOMORROW   4 comments

creation_hands_xlarge

 

The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members–  is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science.  Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.

 

 

 

You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.

Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS.   To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee.  Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say.  But do your research.  They’ve been caught fibbing more than once.  And they are fibbing now.

So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS)  and why should we take time fight them?

NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide.  Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being.  (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)

As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS.  Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning.  We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested.  That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators.  We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.

It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards.  Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards  to be in Common Core.  It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.

There are important reasons  that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.

And so did Wyoming.

Kansas parents sued the state school board over it.

West Virginia is fighting about it.

It’s a hot topic in many other  states.

But do Utahns even know it’s going on here?  (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?)  The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS!  To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article.  And this one. 

Then come to the meeting.  The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards.  The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.

Parents need to take control of this conversation.

Ask yourself:  1)  Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS?  2)  Do I want national science standards in Utah?

Answer one:  If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.

Answer two:  As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons:  control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).

CONTROL

Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.

If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.

Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged.  We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards.   Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution?  Never.  Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?

Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards.  Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted.  Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.

Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer?  Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.

CONTENT

Know this:  NGSS are neither neutral nor objective.   This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS.  NGSS standards are slanted.

It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards.  This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]

 

So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism.  Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.

Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources;  that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.

Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.

Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors.  If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did.  Please cancel your other plans.  Bring your video cameras if you come.  It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair.  Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens.  If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s  90 day public comment survey link.

Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county.  I don’t know who wrote this email:

 

————————————-

Washington County Email:

“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom.  They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them.  We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home.  We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.

 

It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system.  Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular.  As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world.  They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.

 

We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children.   The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states.  Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee.  We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George).  Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS.  These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.

 

Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”  

 ————————————-

 

USOE Public Feedback Meetings

All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked.  Access through the front side doors.

Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

 

 

Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing   4 comments

opt out 2015

 

 

1.  THE TESTS HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.  It is out of the norm for tests to be given to children that never have been validated in a formal, scientific, peer-reviewed way.  Professor Tienken of Seton Hall University calls this “dataless decision making“.  What does it mean to a mom or dad to hear that no validity report has ever been issued for the SAGE/Common Core tests?  It means that the test is as likely to harm as to help any child.

We would not give our children unpiloted, experimental medicine; why would we give them unpiloted, experimental education?  –And, did you know that Florida bought/rented the SAGE test from Utah, and now Florida points to Utah students as its guinea pigs?  Where was Utah’s parental consent? Is it okay that the youngest, most helpless citizens are compulsory research subjects without the knowledge or consent of their parents?

2.  THE STANDARDS (upon which the test is based) HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.   Building a test on the sandy foundation of unvalidated standards –hoping but not having actual evidence on which to base that hope– that the standards are unquestionably legitimate, means that not only the test but the teaching that leads up to it, is experimental, not time-tested.  The SAGE evaluates teachers and even grades schools (and will close them) based on test scores from this flawed-upon-flawed (not to mention unrepresentative/unconstitutional) system.   Dr. Tienken reminds us that that making policy decisions in this baseless way is “educational malpractice.”

3. THE TESTS UNFAIRLY REDEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EDUCATED.  The tests assume improper authority to enforce the common core and they thus cement this new definition of what education is.  The redefining was not done by educators, but by businessmenfalse philanthropists and politicians. The copyright on the standards for this test ensure that nobody gets any influence in what the standards will look like years from now, except those who hold copyright.  Teachers are pressured, even against their professional judgment, to conform to test-centric standards and curriculum.  Schools can get shut down, teachers can get rewarded, punished or fired, all based on the high stakes test.

4. THE TESTS ARE SECRETIVE.  Parents and teachers may not see test questions, not even years after the test is over.  Last year’s leaked screen shots of the test, taken by a student with her cell phone to show her mother, revealed an unpleasing agenda that asked students to question the value of reading (versus playing video games).  The student who took the photos was told that she was a cheater, was threatened with expulsion; and the teacher who didn’t notice (or stop) the cell phone photography was threatened with job loss.  Members of Utah’s 15-parent SAGE review committee have expressed grave concerns about the quality and content of SAGE, citing “grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.,” but were never shown whether corrections were made to SAGE, prior to its hasty rollout.

5.  TEST ITEM CREATION IS QUESTIONABLE.  SAGE questions were written by two groups: a few hand picked Utah educators, and the psychometricians at the testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is not an academic organization but a behavioral research group.  We don’t know why psychometricians were entrusted to write math and English questions.  And we don’t know what the percentages are– how many SAGE questions come from educators, and how many from AIR’s psychometricians?

6.  THE TEST DISREGARDS ETHICS CODES FOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH TESTING.  As Dr. Gary Thompson has pointed out, behavioral tests are normally governed by strict codes of ethics and test-giving psychologists lose their licenses to practice if they veer from the codes of ethics.

The Utah State Office of Education claims tests do not collect psychological information, but it seems unreasonable to believe the claim.

Consider:

  • Behavioral Indicators” is a phrase that’s been in Utah laws concerning student testing for years.  It’s old news.  Happily, last month, Sen. Aaron Osmond wrote a bill to remove that language.  (Thank you,  Senator Osmond.)  Time will tell if the new law is respected or enforced.
  • Psychometric census” of Utah students was part of the agreement Utah made with the federal government when it applied for and received a grant to build a longitudinal database to federal specifications, (including federal and international interoperability specifications.)  Utah promised in that grant contract to use its Student Strengths Inventory to collect noncognitive data.
  • The test company, AIR, is a behavioral research company that creates behavioral assessments as its primary mission and focus.
  • U.S. Dept of Education reports such as “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” promote collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via tests, encouraging schools to use biometric data collection devices.  I have not seen any of these devices being used in Utah schools, but neither have I seen any evidence that the legislature or our State School Board stand opposed to the Dept. of Education’s report or the advice it gives.
  • The NCES, a federal agency, has a National Data Collection Model which it invites states to follow.  Since Utah has no proper legal privacy protections in place, there is nothing stopping us from accepting the invitation to comply with the Model’s suggestions, which include hundreds of data points including intimate and even belief-based points: religious affiliation, nickname, voting status, bus stop times,  birthdate, nonschool activities, etc.

7.  UTAH’S NEW SCHOOL TURNAROUND LAW WILL SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS OR TAKE THEM OVER –USING SAGE AS JUSTIFICATION.  The bell curve of school-grading uses SAGE as its school-measuring stick; when a certain number of schools (regardless of quality) are inevitably labeled “failing” because of their position on that bell curve, they will be turned over to the state, turned into a charter school, or closed.  These events will alter lives, because of Utah’s belief in and reliance on the illegitimate SAGE test scores.

8.  SAGE TESTS ARE GIVEN ALL YEAR LONG.  These are not just end-of-year tests anymore.  SAGE tests are summative, formative, interim, and practice (assignment based) tests.  The summative (ending) test is given so early in the year that content has not been taught yet.  But it gets tested anyway, and teachers/students/schools get negatively judged, anyway.

9.  OPTING OUT IS ONE WAY TO PROTEST DATA MINING AND TO MINIMIZE IT.  The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) collects daily data on every school child without ever asking for parental consent.   SLDS collects much more than test-gathered data.  The government of Utah will not allow an SLDS opt out.  And since SLDS does not have an opt out provision (while SAGE does) it makes sense to minimize the amount of data mining that’s being done on your child by not taking these tests.

10.  OPTING OUT OF SAGE FIGHTS EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.  The lack of transparency, of fairness, of any shared amendment process or true representation under Common Core and its testing system defies “consent of the governed,” a principle we learned in the Declaration of Independence.  “It is the right [and responsibility] of the people to alter or abolish” governments [or educational programs] destructive of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness –or those that govern without the knowledge of, or consent of, the governed.

I believe that parents now have the right and responsibility to abolish SAGE testing, by refusing to participate.

If you haven’t yet realized that the Utah State Office of Education acts as an unaccountable bully to both the State School Board and to parents/teachers/legislators, please watch this; it is yet more reason to not allow your child to take the SAGE/AIR test, which is a science test as well as English and math:

 

Beware of Stealth Assessment as SAGE replacement

Please beware, however:  The testing opt out movement has grown so huge (outside Utah) that some Utah legislators have decided to hop on the anti-testing bandwagon with an eye toward replacing SAGE with something  from which public school parents can never, ever opt out (unless they home school or use private school).  That’s called embedded testing, or stealth assessment.

Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution to create a task force to study getting rid of SAGE and to replace it with embedded, or stealth assessments, passed in the Utah legislature this year.  That means that it will most likely become law next year.

Opt out of SAGE this year; fight Stealth Assessment next year.

 

———————————————————————————————

 National News Update on Test Opt-Out Movement

provided by Fairtest.org 

We’ve pulled together this special edition of our usually-weekly newsclips because of three huge stories that broke in the past several days.

–  In New York, more than 173,000 students opted out of the first wave of state testing, at least tripling last year’s boycott level.

–  In five states (Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota) computerized Common Core testing systems collapsed in a replay of the widespread technical problems which plagued Florida exams earlier this spring.

Both major developments further undermine the credibility of judgements about students, teachers and schools made on the basis of standardized exam results.

—  And, in Washington DC, the U.S. Senate education committee responded to grassroots pressure for assessment reform by endorsing an overhaul of “No Child Left Behind,” which eliminates most federal sanctions for test scores.  The bill does not go far enough to reversing test misuse and overuse, but it is a step in the right direction

Remember that these updates are posted online at: http://fairtest.org/news/other for your reference and for use in Facebook posts, Tweets, weblinks, etc.


U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Kill “No Child Left Behind,” But High-Stakes Testing Era is Far From Over
http://www.thenation.com/blog/204593/senate-committee-votes-kill-no-child-left-behind-high-stakes-testing-era-isnt-over#
NCLB Reauthorization: A Chance to Right a Wrong That is Hurting Low-Income Children
http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/esea-reauthorization-chance-right-wrong-commentary/

California Large Urban School District Leadership Rebukes Standardized Testing Fixation
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/apr/15/san-diego-schools-rebuke-testing/

Colorado Computerized Testing Shut Down Statewide by “Technical Difficulties”
http://gazette.com/technical-difficulties-cause-statewide-shutdown-of-standardized-testing-in-colorado/article/1549677

Florida
Governor Signs Modest Testing Reductions into Law; Parents and Teachers Promise Escalating Pressure
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article18529547.html
Florida’s New Student Testing Law Should Have Gone Further
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-new-student-testing-law-should-have-gone-further/2225493

Georgia Judge Sentences Educators to Up to Seven Years in Prison for Test Cheating
https://celebrity.yahoo.com/news/pleas-mulled-former-atlanta-educators-test-cheating-scandal-120733406.html

Indiana
Legislators Have Competing Views About Future of State Testing
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/04/15/no-clarity-yet-on-competing-vision-for-indiana-state-testing/#.VTDyTkZLUZw

Michigan
Opt-Out Movement is Starting to Gain Steam
http://www.tctimes.com/news/local_news/opting-out/article_231a679c-e377-11e4-9a4a-53b0b97da9c8.html

Minnesota
Student Assessments Snarled by Computer Crash
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27914106/minnesota-student-assessments-snarled-by-computer-crash

Montana
Cancels Smarter Balanced Testing Mandate After Computer Administration Woes
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2015/04/montana_lets_schools_cancel_smarter_balanced_testing_after_technical_woes.html

Nevada
Common Core Testing Disrupted for Two Days by Computer Problems
http://www.8newsnow.com/story/28811425/nevadas-common-core-testing-halted-for-second-day

New Jersey
More than 15% of 11th Graders Skipped Standardized Test
http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/04/15/new-jersey-nearly-th-graders-skipped-standardized-test/25850117/

New York
Fed-up Parents Revolt Against Testing in Historic Fashion
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/fed-up-parents-revolt-state-standardized-tests-article-1.2185433
Tens of Thousands Boycott New York State Exams, Raising Questions About Test-Based Evaluations
http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=157&sid=34264074&title=thousands-skip-ny-tests-raising-questions-about-evaluations
Track District-by-District Data Here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview?pli=1

North Dakota Testing Plagued by More Computer Glitches
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html

Ohio Panelists Blast Testing at League of Women Voters Forum
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/panelists-relay-school-testing-concerns-at-league-of-women-voters-forum-1.583799

Oklahoma
Schools Struggling to Meet State Requirements for Test Monitors
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/help-wanted-schools-struggling-to-meet-state-requirements-for-test/article_ce65ce4c-28ce-577d-9815-66ee2f0a1631.html

Oregon
House Passes Bill Making it Easier to Opt Out of Tests
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32990672-75/oregon-house-oks-bill-making-it-easier-for-parents-to-opt-out-of-common-core-standardized-tests.html.csp
Oregon District Considers Suspending Common Core Test
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32980118-75/springfield-board-considers-moratorium-on-smarter-balanced-standardized-tests.html.csp

Pennsylvania Sees More Students Opting Out of Standardized Tests, Especially in Philadelphia
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html
Lehigh Valley Opt-Outs on the Rise
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/04/lehigh_valley_pssa_opt_outs_on.html

Texas Parents Speak Out Against STAAR Exams
http://www.connectamarillo.com/news/story.aspx?id=1192443
Texas Principal’s Firing May Stem From Testing Criticism
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20150416-popular-dallas-isd-principal-at-rosemont-elementary-to-lose-her-job.ece

Vermont
School Board Chair Explains Why State Voted to Suspend Use of Smarter Balanced Scores
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/opinion/my-turn/2015/04/16/opinion-vermont-dropped-sbac-testing/25901041/

Washington
State Students Are Right to Fight Testing Requirements
http://www.queenannenews.com/Content/News/Breaking-News/Article/EDITORIAL-Students-right-to-fight-testing-requirements/26/539/37377
Washington Board of Ed Wants to End Biology Exam That Blocks 2,000 From Graduating
http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/scrap-biology-test-or-2000-students-wont-graduate-state-board-of-education-tells-lawmakers/

West Virginia Common Core Testing Off to Rocky Start, “The Logistical Issues Are Terrible
http://wvmetronews.com/2015/04/17/common-core-woes-continue-in-wv/

Wisconsin Opt-Out Movement Gains Ground
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/opt-out-movement-gaining-ground-for-testing-in-madison-schools/article_83c01e97-b2d8-5fbc-b595-ce437251d1b5.html

Computerized Tests Face Major Technical Barriers
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/techtank/posts/2015/04/15-next-generation-assessment-glitches
FairTest Chronology of High-Stakes Computer Test Failures
http://www.fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-2013-2015

Common Core Science Standards Arrive in Utah This Week: 90 Day Comment Period Announced   6 comments

politics of science 10

 

Utah’s State Office of Education appears to be, once again, quite secretively rubber-stamping controversial and politically loaded national standards and calling them Utah’s own standards– this time, for science.

The English and math deception happened a few years ago when the USOE did the same thing with the adoption of Common Core’s math and English national standards, calling them “Utah Core Standards”.

This week, when the Utah State School Board meets, it will discuss statewide changes to science standards.  They do not openly admit that in fact the Utah draft mirrors the controversial NGSS standards.  In fact, the official statement from the State Office of Education states nothing about Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but the new “Utah” science standards drafts have now been exposed as the very same as the NGSS Standards– by multiple parents who serve on the Utah parent committee for science standards.

Vincent Newmeyer, one of the parents who serves on the parent committee, has given permission to share his response to the revised standards.  He says that he is alarmed at the errors and unfitness of these standards for Utah students as well as the deceptiveness of the rewriting committee.

He explains that the Utah rewriting committee appears to be attempting to hide, by renumbering or rearranging, the truth that the new Utah standards are just NGSS standards.  He notes:

“Utah’s science standards rewriting committee has removed all but the performance expectations [from national NGSS] and renumbered them.  A few performance expectation sequences have been rearranged  and one new NGSS standard was inserted.  The Performance Expectations are essentially identical to what they were in the previous draft.  Again, in the introductory material it is still claimed to be Utah grown standards, perhaps because Brett Moulding from Utah is the chair of the NGSS writing committee.  These performance expectations as prepared are only one word different from the published NGSS Performance Expectations –yet again there is no attribution to NGSS.”

He points to the NGSS national science standards guidelines which state:  “States… that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright notice provision of this license.”  Newmeyer points out that Utah is either in the process of adopting national science standards in whole, or are infringing on copyright.  –So, which is it?

Newmeyer goes on: “Though we are just looking at grades 6-8, it is inconceivable that our state would adopt 6-8 (even if slightly modified) and then settle on a totally different standard for other grades, especially when you consider the desire to have a cohesive and progressively building program.  So in fact we are not just looking at grades 6-8.  We are laying a precedent for the adoption of NGSS for all grades with additional material not even considered.”

Why must we as parents, teachers and scientists, oppose it?

1.  Control.   Our state loses local control of teaching students what we accept as scientifically important and true, when we adopt NGSS standards rather than using standards we have researched and studied and compiled on our own.  We further lose control when we then test students using these national science standards that are aligned to the philosophies (and data mining structures) of the federal agenda.

2.  Content.  Vincent Newmeyer explains that some of the standards are based on recognized fallacies, and others on controversial assumptions.  Failing to properly research and vet these standards publically is unethical and unscientific.

For example, Newmeyer asks us to look at “the newly renumbered but present all along standard number 7.2.2 : “Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities  in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.”  This leads students to favor the Darwinian Evolutionary view –which has solid counterpoints arguing precisely the opposite view.  Newmeyer explains that although it is true that we can find similarities in embryos, still “if studied in detail we find differences that completely undermine the whole premise of why they inserted this performance expectation.  In the standard they are not looking at the differences.”

Even those who actively defend the Darwinian view of common ancestry who have looked at the data see the weakness of the argument, says Newmeyer.  He questions why we want to teach it in Utah as if it were settled science.  There are also standards that promote the controversial global warming paradigm, and there are other content problems in the NGSS standards.

Utah’s already using the standardized test developed by American Institutes for Research (SAGE) which includes science, English and math standards aligned to the nationally pushed agenda.  So the USOE is not going to want to go in another direction.  But it must.  If enough parents, teachers and scientists pelter the Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and legislature with firm “NO to NGSS” emails, phone calls and personal visits, they can’t get away with this like they did with Common Core.

A few months ago, a concerned Utah State School Board member contacted every single one of the science teachers who were in her constituency district, asking them how they felt about NGSS.  She reported that every single one of them said that they wanted to keep Utah’s current science standards and they rejected NGSS.  Every  last teacher.

South Carolina rejected the national science standards.  So did Wyoming.  Kansas is fighting a law suit about it.  Are we going to do nothing in Utah to defend scientific objectivity and neutrality, not to mention defending the power and right to local control?

There will be a 90-day comment period.  You can also attend and speak up (2 min max) at the state school board meetings if you request time in advance.  Please participate.

Also, please share your passion with your legislators.  Find your representatives here or click here for the state school board’s email address and all of the Utah senators and representatives.

 

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