Last Friday, my children and I were on an educational field trip to see Governor Herbert address the state school board in Salt Lake City. We were learning how to use civic rights to free speech and expression. I had hoped to influence the establishment to not renew the federal waiver (NCLB/ESEA) and hoped to influence them to consider withdrawing from Common Core and all its data-and-teacher-control-tentacles. We also wanted to spread the good news: that Mia Love’s H.R. 524, if it passed, might help enforce states’ constitutional rights to control education locally.
There we stood holding signs outside the door of the state school board meeting, my children and I: “Vote No on NCLB Waiver” and “We Support Mia Love’s H.R. 524“ (the anti-common core bill).
We couldn’t go inside the meeting because 1) one of my children is very young and noisy, and 2) there was no room.
We had even been discouraged by USOE officials and by the governor’s bodyguard (!) from standing in that hall outside the board meeting; they said the handful of us posed a fire hazard.
Yet we were standing there when Governor Herbert made his exit alongside Tami Pyfer. The Governor read our signs and he said, “I support Mia Love’s H.R. 524.”
Explain that quote.
Governor Herbert –Vice Chair of the National Governors Association, which created and copyrighted Common Core — now supports the anti-common core bill?!
I immediately felt the same sick way I’d felt when President Obama came out with his student data review saying he was concerned about privacy, after his administration had done everything in its power to destroy student privacy: from decreasing privacy rights in federal FERPA, to paying each state to build matching, interoperable SLDS databases, to hosting “Datapalooza” and pushing inter-agency “data-mashing.”
Obama (and Herbert) get away with blatant hypocrisy because most of us are, sadly, low-information voters. People don’t know. And they don’t know who to trust.
I prefer it when everyone gives each other plates of warm cookies instead of headaches. I don’t like thinking of –or labeling– my country’s president or my state’s governor as hypocrites.
But I am not going to pretend that I don’t see what I clearly see: repressed real conversation under a pretense of reasoning things out, strict topic-control and topic-narrowing; no debate.
The governor has only asked Utah to comment about the standards, not the governance of them, and he never asked for comments about the data mining nor testing nor lack of parental and teacher freedom. Although months ago Governor Herbert said, “we will not cede that responsibility [of local education] to anyone else,” we know that Utah had already given that responsibility away years ago (control of tests, data sharing and of standards-amending). That power left when Utah adopted standards from private groups NGA/CCSSO who created and copyrighted Common Core, groups in which Governor Herbert holds top leadership positions. Governor Herbert’s words about standing up to federal encroachment are either feigned or very, very fractional.
We all heard the Governor quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in his speech to the board that day, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) But there is no “reasoning together” happening! Where is the real discussion, the real debate? I see a top-down dispensing of “politically correct” marketing lines about Common Core, a one-sided “conversation”. Under the public radar– in emails and blogs and social media, discussion percolates, sans Governor.
We don’t see our Governor (nor Common Core financier Bill Gates nor Common Core architect David Coleman nor Common Core test grant-giver Arne Duncan) ever participating in debates on this subject. These top promoters/creators of Common Core are actively hiding, as is clear from Kathleen Jasper’s Conversation ED and countless others. They don’t want to thoroughly, honestly, honorably reason. They don’t have a leg to stand on. Common Core, when you scratch beneath the surface, is utterly indefensible and unconstitutional.
The Utah public is only allowed ten minutes (divided by five citizens, with two minutes each) per month at state school board meetings. Per month! Some reasoning together! Meanwhile, the state school board is appointed via a very biased, committee-to-the-governor selection process. And yet taxpayers fund this charade, these one sided flyers, mailers and the USOE website itself, all debate-free, marketing the Common Core product without intellectual discussion of any kind.
It’s maddening to those of us who are paying close attention.
Know these facts (and fact check me, so you really actually know it for yourself.)
1. Only NGA/CCSSO can amend the shared Common Core. And they will. (The “living document” will change, the Common Core declares on page 3.)
In Friday’s meeting, presentation after presentation pretended that Utah could amend the shared Common Core.
2. Common Core states like Utah can’t delete from the standards, and can only add 15% max.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the 15% limit that says no state may add much to the standards (to keep the tests all aligned nationally).
3. Speaking about standards-tweaking is a charade.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that if Utah adds the permitted 15%, the addition will never be seen on the nationally aligned test questions. So what’s motivating the teachers to teach the addition? And it won’t be in the shared textbooks anyway.
4. Common Core ELA and math standards are under copyright.
In Friday’s meeting no mention was made of the Common Core copyright.
5. Common Core was rammed down Utah’s throats without proper discussion, and a parent and teacher led lawsuit is underway because of that fact.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that no teachers or administrators were ever asked for input prior to the state adopting Common Core.
6. The Attorney General and the Governor are not correct in saying that we retain local control under the Common Core standards, tests and aligned data standards.
In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of any rebuttals to the Attorney General’s blanket statement (that Common Core in no way harms Utah autonomy over education). It was just: “Tell us which particular standard did Utahns find troubling?”
The narrow, controlled “conversation” about Common Core in our state is light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted, “Come and let us reason together.”
I am really, really tired of the hypocrisy.
I was invited to speak on the Rod Arquette show today about the results of a poll published by Utah Policy. I’ve decided to write here what I won’t have time to fully say there.
The poll’s questions narrowed the larger Common Core Agenda to a tiny fraction (just the academic standards, string free) so that it reaped the kinds of positive responses that it sought.
For example, it said: “Utah is currently participating in a coordinated effort with other states to set similar education standards in math and language. These standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade in K through 12 education.” This half-truth left out volumes that would have altered the poll-taker’s responses if the poll taker would have been more fully informed.
Focusing on the actual standards themselves is as foolish as focusing on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Good or bad, the standards, like deck chairs, will soon be in an uncontrollable, different place.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are not coordinated by Utah and other states but by private, unelected organizations in D.C. (NGA and CCSSO) which have copyrighted the standards, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards-creators, (NGA/CCSSO) are official partners with the federal government in creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) that are aligned to Common Core Academic Standards, so that CEDS can be used to track students in state (SLDS), federal (EdFacts) and corporate data banks, thanks to the recent federal alteration of FERPA, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are unamendable by states and that there is, in fact, no amendment process by which any participating state could alter or influence future versions of “Common Core 2.0″ answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Prosperity 2020 Initiative is promoting Common Core for financial gain and that special interests make millions from Utah’s education tax dollars, due to schools now being essentially forced to purchase the standardized books, test infrastructures, and technologies, answers would have been different.
- If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core standards lack empirical evidence (meaning that they are unpiloted, unproven, and that they turn our children into unconsenting, unpaid guinea pigs for marketers, researchers and for the creators of Common Core) –answers would have been different.
- If Utah policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core may raise some specific standards spottily in some grades and in some states, but it lowers them elsewhere, dumbing down some and rigor-izing others, but making everyone common, as if one size could fit all — answers would have been different.
The poll’s article said: “Utah’s Education IS NOT controlled by the federal government, Herbert has said time and time again.” True, Herbert has said that. So has the Utah Attorney General. Yet it is false. Fact check for yourself. Truth is truth whether we believe it or not.
The federal government micromanages the Common Core testing network. Evidence in Cooperative Agreement of SBAC (Utah’s company, AIR’s partner) here. The federal government offers a waiver from the much-hated No Child Left Behind (unconstitutional) law in exchange for adoption of Common Core (aka College and Career Ready Standards Adoption).
Education standards-alteration was the very first of the Obama Administration’s four assurances as listed stated in the ARRA grant money documents, in Secretary Duncan’s “Vision for Education Reform” speech, and on the White House website. College and career ready standards is a term that was specifically hijacked and redefined as the Common Core, as “standards common to a significant number of states” by the federal government.
In fact, in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s 2010 “Vision” speech, he said:
“Traditionally the federal government has had a limited role in education policy… the Obama Administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role so that the Dept. is doing much more… creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum… In March 2009 Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.”
Both the Republican and the Democratic parties in various states –and even the Chicago Teacher’s Union — have written resolutions condemning Common Core. Not just because of the fuzzy math. Not just because of the lessening of classic literature. It’s all about Constitutional rights.
If you like socialist-styled, distant, top-down, big government, big-corporate control of tests, teachers and standards, Common Core may be your thing. But if you believe in local control, in free and independent academic thought, and if you want parental aims met –as opposed to big-government-big-corporate aims, then Common Core is not for you.
Shame on Utah Policy for its misleading poll.
Tomorrow morning, the Utah State School Board will vote on whether or not to renew the federal No Child Left Behind ESEA Flexibility Waiver.
Governor Herbert will address the board in person prior to this vote, at the USOE offices at 250 E 500 S in Salt Lake City.
It’s an open meeting. Many of us will be there, and you are wanted and needed there. If you can’t come, please write to the board. Here’s the board’s email address. Board@schools.utah.gov
Here’s my letter.
Please vote no on the ESEA/NCLB renewal of waiver tomorrow.
No Child Left Behind was bad; but the waiver from it (meaning that we consent to continue with Common Core) is far worse, because of the suffocating strings attached. A million tiny strings took Gulliver down.
I am referring to:
2- Teacher handcuffing via teacher grading related to Common Core testing.
Bottom line: we owe no accountability to the federal government Constitutionally and it returns very little money, percentage wise, of our education budget –of which Utah wastes much on bloated administrative salaries and on the common core tech ed sales cartel, not giving much to truly benefit children or teachers.
We have constitutional rights and we are shredding them, voluntarily, by tying our school system down under Common Core and Common Data.
Please vote NO on renewing NCLB.
Utah Credentialed Teacher
Senator “Let’s-Don’t-Talk-About-Common-Core” LaMar Alexander has proposed a bill to amend ESEA (No Child Left Behind Act) in order “to restore freedom”. The bill is called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.
I read the 387-pager after I learned that education experts, slated to testify against the bill, had abruptly been dismissed and were told that the bill had been “fast-tracked,” so there wouldn’t be time for them to speak. –No time to hear testimony and debate about a historic, child-impacting bill?
I read this bill with these six facts and questions in mind:
Fact 1. There’s a de facto federal database composed of fifty individual databases with interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems. These feed on the federal school testing/data collecting system, and feed different federal databases and their powerful branches. This clearly violates “consent of the governed” because nobody can opt out.
QUESTION 1: Would LaMar’s bill restore “consent of the governed” to education and to student data mining?
Fact 2. There’s a federal testing system comprised of Common Core aligned, synchronized testing partnerships: PARCC, SBAC, and AIR. This violates Constitutional separation of powers since the federal government has no business in state-directed educational affairs such as testing.
QUESTION 2: Would LaMar’s bill restore separation of powers and deny federal supervision of school tests?
Fact 3. There’s a corporate cartel of educational technology and text sellers (Pearson Inc, partnered with Gates/Microsoft, etc) advising the federal testing system. This violates the Constitutional principle of agency; individuals and states are coerced to use certain corporations’ products with federal approval.
QUESTION 3: Would LaMar’s bill restore a diverse exchange of academic ideas to the American textbook and technology market?
Fact 4. The corporate cartel finances the private groups that created and copyrighted the common education and the common data tags programs. Federal approval of such financing and implementation is clear by the official partnering of the U.S. Dept. of Education with the private creator-copyrighter groups. That violates consent of the governed, too.
QUESTION 4: Would LaMar’s bill create fairness and freedom for non-Common Core aligned education providers?
Fact 5. Because Common Core standards are copyrighted, states (voters, teachers, you and I) don’t get to vote on them. There’s no amendment process for any state to alter Common Core Standards nor the Common Education Data System (CEDS). Federal promotion and partnershipping with those who copyrighted nonamendable standards, violates states’ rights and consent of the governed.
QUESTION 5: Would LaMar’s bill move us away from these chokehold national standards and restore individual agency?
Fact 6. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are hacking at the limbs of the Constitution openly, aiming to phase out the authority of the states and of parents regarding educational authority, privacy and other issues. Aiming to “phase out the authority of states” is blatantly unconstitutional.
QUESTION 6: Would LaMar’s bill stop the Department of Education’s agenda to “phase out state authority”?
Now, to the bill.
I knew from page one that this was going to be a big, fat two-tongued document because the bill’s purpose statement: “to restore freedom” conflicts with its own title: “The Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.
This bill by its title and throughout its text cements the Common Core Initiative into federal law without once using the term “Common Core”. How?
Did you know that the phrase College and Career Ready has been repeatedly, federally and corporationally defined in multiple places as only Common Core. (See College and Career Ready definition: the Dept. of Education defines college and career ready standards as “standards common to a significant number of states.” There is one thing that meets that definition. Anytime you see “college and career ready,” run; it equals only the Common Core.
Can a bill claim to restore freedom while it promotes the exact, synonymous term that takes freedom in education away?
On page three I found red flag #2: “Close the achievement gap between high and low performing children“. It’s another way of saying “everyone has to be the same at any cost– even at the price of slowing or dumbing down high achievers.” Posing as fairness, it’s precisely the opposite, as nonsensical as the Handicapper General in Harrison Bergeron. ( The funny, tragic short story of Harrison Bergeron is online if you haven’t read it.)
The bill explains how money must be allocated to ensure that the achievement gap-closing happens. The Harrison Bergeron-ian “fairness” will be enforced with (our) tax dollars in federally set ways.
On page 8 we learn: States will have to create a peer review board with the purpose of promoting “effective implementation of the challenging State academic standards“. A mandated review board will promote implementation of Common Core, the very thing so many hope to eradicate. Note the slickness: later on the same page, it says: “with the goal of supporting State- and local-led innovation”. It’s pleasant sounding, but it’s a lie; one can’t support local innovation while implementing centrally controlled, Common Core standards on a federally mandated review board.
I already don’t want to read the rest of the 379 pages. I’m only on page 8.
Next is a section called “State Plan Determination, Demonstration and Revision” which makes me wonder: why should states demonstrate to the federal government, when education is not in federal jurisdiction? (Calling for “accountability” without authority to make that call should always raise eyebrows. I’m envisioning Emperor Arne being fed grapes while the Constitution is being used as bird cage liner.) This gets worse when the bill says that the Secretary of Education can decline to approve a State plan (pages 8 and 9) and that the Secretary of Education would withhold funds from states who don’t comply. (page 12) This is clearly out of harmony with the bill’s stated purpose “to restore freedom” as well as being out of harmony with the U.S. Constitution.
Page 13: The same standards have to be used throughout the entire state. They have to be aligned with state college standards. (They can’t be lower, but they can’t be any higher, either, than the worst of any state college. They can’t align with any unusually high private university standards.) This control freakishness –and this obvious dumbing down, may succeed in closing that achievement gap but only by harming high achievers, it seems to me.
Page 16: In complete contradiction to pages 8 and 9, this section says that the Secretary has no authority to supervise or direct state standards.
Page 17: Here we go with the assessments. Every state must use standardized tests aligned to the college-and-career-ready standards (Common).
Page 20: Here we go with the data collecting: tests must “produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports… include information regarding achievement on assessments… provided… in an understandable and uniform format” [meaning, I am sure: Common Educational Data Standards and SIF interoperability formats, which preclude strong privacy protection].
The data collected must be disaggregated, says the bill, by state and by school using these factors: gender, economic status, race, ethnicity, English proficiency, disability, migratory status, etc., but will not be personally identifiable. (Hmm. On page 20 they just said tests must report on “individual interpretive, descriptive and diagnostic reports.” How is that not personally identifiable?)
On page 34 I’m troubled by this: “achievement gaps between each category of students described“. So they will divide and label student achievement groups by race, by gender, by ability, by economic status, etc. to further identify groups.
On page 35 the bill identifies schools that must be “turned around”.
On page 37 the state assures the federal government that it will participate in the NAEP test for 4th and 8th graders.
On page 39 the bill mandates uniform state report cards.
On page 54 the “Local Educational Agency Plan” mandates identifying students and identifying achievement gaps. The plan also funds HeadStart or other government preschools.
Page 66 tells states how they have to spend any unused money.
Page 89 gives priority to low achievers.
Page 92-96 discusses private schools and how Title I funds will follow the low income child. Where funding goes, strings are attached and mandates (i.e., data mining and government tests) follow. Title I funds look like the way Common Core aims to infiltrate charter schools and private schools.
Page 99: Grants for Common Tests: The Secretary of Education will give grants to pay for tests and standards, if the states are working in partnership with other states.
Page 101: Summative, interim and formative tests will be developed or improved. (More Common Core testing, more frequently, and more in disguise–as practice or as assignments, rather than traditional end of the year summative tests.)
Page 111: “At risk” students will be indentified, intervened, and reported.
Page 117: If there is failure to reach consensus, the Secretary of Education is empowered to act on his own with the “alternative process” that “if Secretary determines that a negotiated rulemaking process is unnecessary...” he simply tells Congress (not asks, tells) –and then he does his own thing, allowing for public comment afterward, and then, finally, makes it an official regulation. I hope people are reading this.
Page 135: Here the states are told the conditions by which they will make subgrants to schools and to teachers.
Page 145: This fulfils Arne Duncan’s dream of replacing family with school as the centerpiece of life and community, “providing programs that…extend the school day, school week, or school year calendar.” Remember what the Secretary Duncan said in his Charlie Rose interview? This is his one minute video:
Page 153: “Secretary may waive” requirements. So this may be a Congressionally vetted law, but it’s more of a suggestion than a hard and fast law, always subject to the whims of the Secretary. This is repeated on page 224: “The Secretary may waive any statutory or regulatory requirement… with respect to charter schools.. if.. Secretary determines that granting such a waiver will promote the purposes...”
Page 163: Grant recipients must provide data to the federal Secretary of Education.
Page 226: On Charter Schools: “support the opening of… replication of… charter schools… expansion of high quality charter schools”.
Page 229: “A description of how the State will actively monitor and hold authorized public chartering agencies accountable… including… revoking the authority of an authorized chartering agency based on the performance of the charter school… in areas of student achievement… and compliance”.
Page 249: The Secretary of Education can take money out of the charter school’s reserve account if the grant wasn’t used in “carrying out the purposes” of the Secretary.
[On and on and on the bill rambles about charter school expansion and federal controls on the charter schools. Endless pages are devoted to charter schools. Why the increased interest of the federal government in supporting charter schools? Because charter schools don’t have elected school boards. The ruling bodies of charter schools are appointed, not elected. In some places, philanthropists and huge corporations are administering charter schools –with zero accountability to any parent or any voter. This is education without representation! This is why the Obama Administration is pushing to identify and “turn around” “low performing” public schools and turn them into voter-untouchable institutions of the cartels and governments who benefit from that kind of power.] I happen to have one child who attends a charter school and I know from personal experience that the board is under no obligation to listen to any parent, and no parent can vote a board member out. You’re just lucky if the board happens to be made of people with whom you share values and goals for children.]
Page 268 talks about using magnet schools to desegregate “students of different racial backgrounds”. I don’t agree with redistribution by government force of anything– not money, not teachers, not not principals, not standards, and not students of different races. But the Department of education does.
Page 276 “State Innovation and Flexibility“: think about the way that title rations liberty. What would the founding fathers say about the federal government creating a document with a section heading titled like that? States are allowed to have some innovation? Some flexibility? Those are sub-particles of a rationed freedom, not freedom at all.
Page 297: “Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native Education” – This part has me confused. Someone please comment below if you understand it. Why would the federal government spend pages and pages and pages outlining different rules for these specific minority groups? Not just a few— a LOT of pages.
Page 369: “Participation by private school children and teachers” – By definition, private school children and their teachers are to be left completely alone by the government; that’s what private means. Why is this federal law taking the effort and time to mention them? If, according to page 92, the Title One funds follow the private school child to his/her school, then the government will be taking reports, data mining, and putting out mandates as well.
The answer to each of my six questions, from the top, is “no”.
The stated purpose of the bill is “to restore freedom”. Does this happen? No.
The bill –without even using the term “Common Core” a single time, works to cement Common Core. It supports more common tests and emboldens the collectors of both academic and nonacademic personal student data (without parental consent), will intrude on private schools; and decreases representative school decision making by replacing a large number of public schools with no-elected-board, no-vote-allowed, charter schools; all under the banner of equitably meeting student needs and “closing an achievement gap.”
Please do something positive: tell your senators and reps to help push an actual freedom-granting bill in education.
I learned with gratitude today from Utah’s Mia Love that she is working with Rep. Joe Wilson on a bill “to allow states to opt out of Common Core without being penalized.” Support Mia Love. Write to her. Rep. Wilson, too. Please call other Congressmen and ask them to work with her and support her.
David Vitters’ bill, too, sounds a thousand times more honest than Alexander’s ESEA “Every Child College and Career Ready Act of 2015″.
Vitters’ bill (S73) is “A bill to prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing States to adopt the Common Core State Standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.” https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s73 )
—But LaMar Alexander’s ESEA? No.