Archive for the ‘Academic Standards’ Category

Ten Reasons to Flee NGSS Common Core Science Standards   7 comments

My hair catches on fire when I hear about more standards being shoved at the states by corporate-federal partners, because I believe that constitutional, local conscience, not federal or corporate intentions, should determine what a child’s standards should be.

To me, it’s a matter of huge consequence:  whether to give away my power of finding and defining truth for a child, to then be determined by a corporate-federal partnership’s board meeting, or whether to retain that power.

But this post is written for people unlike me, those who ask, “what’s wrong with common NGSS science standards; isn’t this just a modern science update?”

I want the public to realize that the NGSS standards are not the standards to which anyone should aspire, not even for those who believe that standardizing education nationally and globally is a good idea.

Here are ten reasons to flee from the Next Generation Science Standards.

 

  1.  NGSS  DODGES  MATH 

NGSS standards were rated a “C” by Fordham Institute.  Fordham suggested states that are seeking science updates should check out Massachusetts’, South Carolina’s, and Washington D.C.’s superior science standards:

“NGSS aren’t the only alternative and, in the judgment of our reviewers, they aren’t nearly as strong as the best that some states developed on their own. A state with shoddy science standards should also consider replacing them with those of another state that’s done this well.”

What was Fordham’s “C” rating of NGSS based upon?  Its review included these reasons:

  • “… Our expert team was disappointed by what they found, and didn’t find, by way of math, especially in relation to physics and chemistry…

  •           “… Far too much essential science content was either missing entirely or merely  implied.”
  • … There is virtually no mathematics, even at the high school level, where it is essential to the learning of physics and chemistry.  Rather, the standards seem to assiduously dodge the mathematical demands inherent in the subjects covered.”

    And then, this surprise:

  • “… Where NGSS expectations require math in order to fully understand the science content, that math goes well beyond what students would have learned in classrooms aligned to the Common Core.

 

2.  NGSS IS COMMON CORE FOR SCIENCE — FROM THE SAME FUNDERS AND DEVELOPERS

The Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core were each birthed and funded by Achieve, Inc., with the Gates Foundation.  It’s no secret: NGSS boasts of being aligned with Common Core.  See Appendix A #7: “The NGSS and Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts and Mathematics) are aligned.”

Achieve, which directed the Common Core of English and math, is the developer and partner of NGSS science standards “on behalf of the lead states and other partners”.  NGSS explains:  “Achieve is leading the effort…  Achieve coordinated the second phase of the NGSS development process”.

 

 

3.  NGSS SCRAMBLES “INTEGRATES” SCIENCE  

A Common Core-shared attribute of NGSS science is the integrating of science subjects.

This means dissolving distinct classes in biology, chemistry, physics, etc., as we know them today, to be replaced by conceptually-based (not math based) integrated science.  At every grade level, children will be taught a watery version of these integrated subjects.  This dilutes the expertise of teachers, too, who must change from teaching the richness of biology or chemistry or physics, to teaching a simplified, mostly mathless, conceptual mix of all the science subjects integrated at all grade levels.

 

4. NGSS THREATENS INQUIRY FOR STUDENTS

NGSS standards for sixth graders include this: “design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment”.

The assumption that minimizing human impact on the environment is always the right thing to do is unscientific.  Think of all the remarkable human decisions that have blessed the earth’s environment.  The assumption that humans should be monitored is, likewise, politically and academically narrow-minded.

How can students learn the scientific method, creating hypotheses and then proving or disproving theories with evidence, reason and intellectual debate– when NGSS holds assumptions and many scientific theories as already settled science?  NGSS sets into concrete certain things that the scientific community has not settled.  Is global warming a theory or a fact?  Is Darwinian evolution one of many theories, or is it a fact?  Is the idea that humans are to be blamed for the globe’s problems  a settled science, or a fact?  Is the theory of intelligent design (God) a scientifically mentionable, debatable question, or a settled fact?

Even though I side with intelligent design (a literal, actual God) I would not force this belief or its opposite into the science curriculum as the only allowable conversation.  Scientific, political and religious freedoms demand open minded discussion and debate.

But NGSS frowns upon this.

Some who believe that NGSS is just “updating” school science say that any opposition to NGSS comes from closed-minded creation believers who want to push their religions into schools.  But both Darwinian evolutionists and in Bible-based creationists should hope for freedom of thought and of scientific inquiry and debate.  Otherwise, there’s no freedom nor true science at all– just dogma.

 

5. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NGSS ACTUALLY OPPOSES OBJECTIVITY 

In Kansas, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) sued the state for adopting NGSS because of a lack of objectivity. The lawsuite wasn’t based on the idea that NGSS dismisses intelligent design (creation) –although it does– but instead, based on the idea that the NGSS promotes a religion of its own that crushes objective thought about the design and/ or evolution of the earth.  So, NGSS stands accused by COPE of being its own religion (evangelizing the sustainability movement at the expense of scientific discussion)– while NGSS accuses opponents of the same thing.

Science standards should not be about Darwin vs. God.  They should promote open inquiry for truth.  As board member Wendy Hart of Alpine School District in Utah wrote:

I know many believe the opposition to NGSS is purely religious.  For me, it is purely scientific.  Our ACT science scores are better than the NGSS states… The math associated with physics and chemistry is currently taught and applied…. I don’t think science standards should compel or repel belief one way or another.  It is not our role as public educational entities to dictate belief systems for the students in our purview.  True scientific inquiry does no such thing.”    More here:    http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/05/state-standards-burden-of-proof-rests.html.

6.  NGSS PUTS A CEILING ON SCIENCE:  “ASSESSMENT BOUNDARIES”

Fordham Institute noted that “… Inclusion of assessment boundaries… place an unintended but undesirable ceiling on the curriculum that students would learn at each grade level.”  Why would science standards control or limit assessment boundaries?  I can only guess that the standardization of tests is more important to NGSS than the power of a student to learn science.

7. NGSS OFFERS NO LEGITIMATE UPDATES

The dull, gray flavor and language and goals of the promotion of NGSS is the same as for common core.  For example, “The NGSS are designed to prepare students for college, career and citizenship” and “Science concepts in NGSS build coherently from K-12“.

I think: if NGSS came up with the idea of preparing kids for college, what were classic science standards doing, then?  How did our standards manage to churn out Nobel Laureate scientists and amazing U.S. astronauts, doctors and engineers?  Were previous science standards an incoherent mess of scrambled eggs? Are we helpless without top-down education dictators?  The truth is that this is not an update to science, but a skewing of it, to become a political tool to influence young people.

 

8.   NGSS  DELETES LEARNING  

Fordham noted, as others have, that “Far too much essential science content was either missing entirely or merely implied”.  NGSS literally deletes some scientific subjects, and grossly minimizes others.  This is probably the most egregious, and most grimly ironic, of NGSS’s academic crimes.

What does that deletion of science look like, close up? 

A sixth grade science teacher from Morgan County, Utah, Dana Wilde, wrote:

My biggest concern with the NGSS is that key science concepts are missing… Why is matter and energy repeated throughout 6th-8th grade as almost an overkill of that subject, whereas other key science concepts are completely removed from the new standards? This is very concerning to me as a 6th grade science teacher… Virtually all the science concepts we have been teaching in 6th grade are not part of the new standards, with the exception of heat energy. The new standards are very environmentally heavy and move [away] from talking about microbes, heat, light, sound energy, space and astronomy to mostly global warming and human impact on the environment…  The new proposed standards are not exciting topics for 11 and 12-year-olds, nor are students mature enough at this age to sift through all the information and misinformation that is out there about global warming (one of the performance tasks required in the new drafts). It’s not that I don’t think students should learn about these topics, it’s that I don’t believe it should be in the 6th grade curriculum… I believe the Next Generation Science Standards were not written by anyone who has spent the last 20 years in a room full of 6th graders.”

Another 5th and 6th grade science teacher from Southern Utah, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote this letter to Utah’s superintendent:

“I am doing this anonymously because of the tensions… I don’t have faith that those of us that have a different opinion will be allowed to voice our opinions without repercussions…. I love helping young people discover their potential, but these standards are stifling my ability to do just that. I will never sabotage my students’ learning for a political agenda…”

The teacher’s letter listed three examples of political sabotage in the new science standards:

“6.2.4 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century, 6.4.1: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment,  and 6.4.3: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.  These are very odd requirements to put in a 6th grade science standards. These belong in a college level environmental debate class, not in a 6th grade classroom.  I have seen the other NGSS standards for the lower grades, and they do not allow a teacher to delve deep into each concept. They require a very shallow teaching of the standards. I understand that the theory behind this is that each year will build on the previous year. That is not how younger minds work. Students need an understanding that they can take with them.”

A science and math teacher who has been compelled to teach Common Core math and NGSS science standards at Mar Vista Heights High School, at Imperial Beach, California, wrote:

“At the high school level, NGSS standards require integrated science, just like common core requires integrated math. My school tried integrated math in the 1990’s and abandoned it as a bad idea. Now, I am teaching integrated math III.

“However, science is different than math. Most math teachers have enough background in algebra, geometry and statistics to teach any level of integrated math. It is the rare science teacher who has expertise in all science domains: earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.

“NGSS writers posited that chemistry and physics principles like Newton’s laws, the gas laws, and atomic structure would be so thoroughly apprehended by 8th grade, that it would not be necessary to teach them in high school. In high school, student are to create reports and videos that explain the energy transformations behind global warming and how Darwin’s laws of evolution correctly explain the development of life.There are almost no high school chemistry or physics standards in NGSS.

“I personally believe that the existence of global warming caused by human activity (burning fossil fuels) is settled science. I also think Darwin was a gifted scientific observer, whose theory of evolution is well-founded. On the other hand, why overweight the standards with these two controversial topics? I am not saying ignore them, but they are central to these new science standards and they do not need to be.

NGSS was never pilot tested and was rushed into existence before people had a chance to vet it. Therefore, NGSS is full of errors and horribly misaligned.NGSS is another of those dreams held by a rich powerful man that has been ramrodded into existence. Luis Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, started campaigning for these standards in 1995. In 1996, he talked the National Governors Association into making him chairman of a new non-profit named Achieve Incorporated. Achieve was charged with making his standards dream a reality…  Like Gates’s Common Core, Gerstner’s NGSS is terrible education policy that came about because America’s democratic process and the principal of local control of education were sundered.”

Julie King, A PTA mom who serves on the Community Council in Utah’s Alpine School District, wrote:

“…There are holes in the NGSS.  There is a lack of computer science as well as chemistry, and the lack of any human anatomy is what raises a red flag for me.  Why would we completely eliminate human anatomy?

“… There is obvious bias in the standards…. Part of true science is being willing to question things and doubt.  We need to look at what our focus is.  When there are over 50 mentions of climate change and only one reference to electric circuits, we are overemphasizing one idea and excluding others.  Am I ok with my kids learning about climate change?  Absolutely!  But I am not OK with my kindergartener being asked to solve global warming.  The following is a kindergarten standard: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.

“…Do you know what kindergarten science should be?  The five senses, weather, and the life cycle of a butterfly and ladybug.  Maybe planting seeds and learning about how plants grow… With less than 3 hours a day, kindergarten should largely be about reading and learning to follow rules… not about rationing paper so that less trees are cut down.”

9. DISHONESTY:  ALSO, WHAT NGSS SHOULD REALLY ADMIT

Visit NGSS’s hogwashy, vague and frankly boring website.  Even just for a minute.  Doesn’t it sound scienc-y and savvy?  How can a math-slaying, science-erasing set of science standards look so slick?

Now visit a state office of education’s website for evidence that NGSS is being used.  It’s hard to find.  States know that the public is against common standards as a movement.  In my state, the officials pretend we’ve no intentions of using NGSS.  But it’s not really so.

In fact, for some grade levels, Utah’s been secretively using NGSS for years.

Here is what I wish NGSS and Utah’s State Superintendent would flat-out admit –and publish:

The NGSS are designed to standardize U.S. students’ science learning and testing, for the convenience of unelected bureaucrats and for the financial gain of NGSS partners, also meeting the social and political goals of NGSS funders and UNESCO. 

NGSS will curtail scientific debate in schools and will dismiss academic freedom of teachers, to promote the controversial, U.N.-based initiative of sustainable development, which seeks to bring about forced, global redistribution of resources by stirring up earned and unearned guilt in human beings. 

NGSS is promoted under the banner of  “updating science” but NGSS will mimimize the teaching of science subjects:  electricity, astronomy, anatomy, chemistry, math, etc., in favor of finding enough room to focus on sustainable development programming. 

To silence its critics, NGSS will call critics unfashionable, or religious, or stupid.

If you haven’t already, please watch the video that documents the promises Utah’s superintendents made to citizens that we’d never adopt common science standards.

10.  NGSS REMOVES LOCAL CONTROL

Like the math and English Common Core standards, the NGSS science standards are  locked up by the people who made them and are double bolted by the tests and curriculum to which they are aligned.  A local, nobel prize-winning scientist or a state superintendent or a dad will have absolutely no say in what students will learn as truth when we’re all shackled to NGSS.

NGSS-based tests may label your child or your school as incompetent if he or she has freedom of thought that goes beyond NGSS “scientific” assumptions and standards.

For certain, NGSS is no friend of local control.

Maybe because of the standardization of education data standards, maybe because of the standardization of federal, unconstitutional mandates and the conditional money they come with, maybe because of the standardization of federally approved school testing, now maybe our state office of education believes that saying “no” to common science standards is too much like swimming upstream.

Maybe we don’t believe we have power anymore.  Maybe we believe other people are better off deciding for us what’s best for us. But if so, we are wrong.

The U.S. Constitution is still the supreme law of this land.  That means people, not bureaucrats, are to  have the power over their own lives –and it means that education is to be a local, not a federal, authority.

Stand up and make your voice heard.

Just because the corporate greed and political goals of Microsoft and Pearson and the United Nations match the standardization movements of the NGSS (and of CCSS and CSE and common library standards and common art standards) it does not mean that we don’t  have the power to say no to these partnerships whose gaze is on our tax dollars.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know of the extreme dishonesty that’s been going on at the state office of education concerning science standards.  Why the state office chooses to hide its headlong dive into using the common NGSS science standards is a mystery.  Why the teachers and parents don’t rise up in absolute rebellion against NGSS is another.

We can say no.  If we don’t, we might be as unthinking as NGSS wants us to believe that all its opposers are.

Open Letter to Utah Leadership: On Informed Consent in Science Education   5 comments

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

Dear Superintendent Dickson, State School Board, Diana Suddreth, Rich Nye, Governor Herbert, Tami Pyfer, and Legislators,

To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?

I’m writing to clarify whether Utah has or has not adopted controversial, common science standards (NGSS) and whether we are using those non-approved standards in current or future tests for K-12 children, without proper vetting and fully informed public consent.

I’m trying to reconcile promises –made by multiple superintendents to the public and to the legislature, that common science standards would never happen because of political and “philosophical differences”– with the attached PDF from the board’s website. It says that a science MOU in common with other states is set to be approved this Wednesday.

Utah’s voting taxpayers strongly oppose common, nationalized standards; some because of content, and some because  nationalized programs work against intellectual freedom and local control.

Anti-Common standards sentiment was powerfully illustrated in Utah’s last gubernatorial election, when Governor Herbert was booed at conventions for his promotion of Common Core, and was beaten when GOP delegates voted. He very narrowly won the final vote after changing his speeches with sudden, fervent promises to repeal the Common Core.

Those promises lacked integrity and evaporated after the election, but the illustration makes clear that Utahans want the common standards gone.

It can be alarming when superintendents make promises that common science standards will never take over here, when no vote to approve common NGSS standards has happened, and yet the public can see that someone is furtively, gradually, replacing Utah’s traditional science standards with controversial NGSS standards.

On the Board’s PDF, we see that Utah is set to approve use of a common test bank for students’ science tests. Since tests are based on standards, and since Utah’s official policy is that we have our own science standards, not the common NGSS standards, how can Utah share a test bank with many other states?  Without using the common science standards that they use, or without making those states use our science standards, it doesn’t make sense.

Please clarify.

What makes sense, but won’t likely be admitted, is that the current Superintendent and her co-workers personally buy into the philosophies of the ed tech elite, inspired by the Pearson- Microsoft-Gates cartel. They admire Gates and NGSS.  Unlike many of their fellow Utahns, they love the common standards, so they are using their positions of power to guide the state in the direction to which they personally subscribe, against the will and without the knowledge of the people.

Shouldn’t these moves be transparent to the public?  It seems our top education officers give lip service to local control, but in actions, create the very opposite.

Students and taxpayers who value liberty and classic education standards deserve informed consent and open debate, prior to Utah’s use of any kind of additional common standards.

“Consent of the governed” is a crucial founding concept, one of the best phrases ever penned, one I hope this group will ponder before moving further away from local control.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

#StopCommonCore Mom Sheri Few Runs for U.S. Congress for South Carolina   3 comments

It isn’t every day that one of the original #StopCommonCore moms runs for U.S. Congress.

America, please support this mom; if every one who read this donated even five or ten dollars, that would buy many thousands of signs or mailings for Sheri Few’s important, but financially limited campaign.

The article below is a guest post by Sheri Few.

 

I want to thank Christel for the opportunity to explain why I am running for Congress and why my election is so important for those of us concerned about education in America today.

All my children attended public schools and I could see firsthand the problems in education, from proposed standards for sexuality education to anti-American and pro-Communist propaganda in geography and history books.  I decided to get active and fight for change.

I formed South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE) in 2000 and began a newsletter informing parents and taxpayers about public education instruction problems, from teaching children they evolved from apes to teaching young children to put condoms on bananas, to anti-Christian/anti-American rhetoric.

Like many of you, I’ve been attending Donna Hearne’s Educational Policy Conference in St. Louis for many years, where I’ve learned so much more about the intentional agenda in public schools to transform our country’s government through the minds of our children – hearing all along about Common Core forerunners: Goals 2000, Outcome-based Education, School-to-Work, and No Child Left Behind.

Around the same time, I became politically active; joined my local Republican Party and was soon the Chairman and member of the State GOP Executive Committee.  This provided a platform for the changes I saw necessary in public education.  The work of SCPIE writing newsletters turned to educating lawmakers and advocating for and against education policy. I also became active in the Tea Party movement.

Although I knew what was being taught, I mistakenly left my children in public schools, thinking I would no longer have a voice if I withdrew them to homeschool.  Now, to my chagrin, my oldest son has rejected his Christian faith because of what he learned in public schools. He also believes the climate change hoax and has adopted many other liberal philosophies.  I now never recommend that anyone put their children in public schools.

Six years ago, Jane Robbins from the American Principles Project approached me to help expose the Common Core Standards in South Carolina.

I created a PowerPoint and began traveling my state, making presentations to audiences in nearly every county about the problems with Common Core and the data-mining tests.

Three years of work resulted in the bi-partisan, unanimous passage of a legislation rescinding our agreement with the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium and a requirement for the State Department of Education to rewrite the English and Math standards.

In 2014, I ran in the Republican Primary for State Superintendent of Education in a field of nine candidates. narrowly missing the runoff by less than 2 points (in South Carolina, if one candidate does not receive 50 percent plus one, the top two vote-getters enter a runoff election).

The new Superintendent was charged with rewriting the English and Math standards, but to no one’s surprise, my state ended up with Common Core rebranded as South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards.

Even our state’s Education Oversight Committee did a comparison and found the standards to be 91 percent aligned to Common Core and they would have been more like 98 percent aligned if there hadn’t been a separate law passed the year prior mandating the return to memorization of Math facts and cursive writing.

SCPIE expanded in 2015 into a national organization adding a Leadership Team of colleagues from around the country who led the fight against Common Core in their state.

We had conference calls twice a month, and as we shared our very similar experiences with Common Core, we agreed that the problems originated with and are perpetuated by the federal government, so we set our goal to end the U.S. Department of Education and all federal education mandates.

Our movement grew quickly and thirty state chapters have been created, coupled with an exemplary Advisory Board of national leaders.

United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) still has twice-a-month calls with PIE state presidents and is very engaged in implementing strategies to obtain our goal.

President Trump’s decision to name my Congressman, Mick Mulvaney, to lead the Office of Management and Budget, created a vacancy for his seat.   I prayed about running, talked about it with my husband, made several calls to people in the District who supported my run for State Superintendent of Education, and talked to national Common Core leaders about a possible run.

Everyone I spoke with agreed that there is no one in the U.S. Congress that fully understands the problems in public education.  I also analyzed the returns from my 2014 Superintendent’s race and found that I had finished FIRST in the Fifth District, winning by more than 3,000 votes over my eight competitors.

I announced my candidacy in the Republican Primary for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District in mid-January, and as of this writing, there are seven other Republicans who have filed with the Federal Election Commission.

This is where I stand out from my opponents in this very conservative district that President Trump won by nearly twenty points.  Most are “establishment” Republicans who have raised taxes, supported Common Core or sat silent on issues of political correctness.

And none of the others in this race have a clue about education policy and the ongoing problems with Common Core and the data-mining tests that are used to enforce the standards.

I am writing my story to urge you to help me win this election and be our voice in Congress.

I am determined to win and am working 24/7 to do all I can to make that happen, but I need to raise a lot of cash to get my message out to this sprawling district.  Several of my opponents are wealthy and can self-fund their campaign, but I am just a mom activist who has volunteered and spent personal resources most of my adult life to fight for the children of this country and to maintain our free Constitutional Republic.

I took a trip to D.C. recently to meet with political action committees, hoping to gain endorsements and financial support.  Many of them said they will see how much money I can raise on my own first, and they will be looking at the financial disclosures due the end of this month to gauge who they might support.

I talked to them about the importance of our issue and explained that what is being taught in public schools is fundamental to many of the problems our country faces politically.  I explained the intentional agenda to change our form of government through the liberal indoctrination of our country’s children and pointed to the evidence of the fact that most young Americans wanted the self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders for their President.  We must stop allowing our tax dollars to fund this agenda.

Please help this mom activist go to Washington D.C. to be our voice.  Seize the moment with me while we have a Republican-led Congress, and a bold president who does what he said he would do.  Time is of the essence if we are to preserve our Constitutional Republic.  I need your help.

Please donate any amount to my campaign, but please give a lot of thought to contributing $250 or more right away, so I can list your name on my FEC report as one of my strongest supporters.  Alternatively, would you consider a weekly pledge of $10, $20, $50 or $100 for the remaining nine weeks of the campaign?

Many of you have never contributed to a candidate before.  I hope you will consider making your first contribution to help me win this seat.

This election is too important to lose, because with President Trump’s election and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, it’s time to seize the moment and work as aggressively as possible to move our conservative agenda as fast and as far as we can.

I’m planning to run an aggressive campaign, and I have no fear of calling out my opponents for enabling those who are taking away our freedoms.  Too many conservatives lose elections because they are afraid to stand up when the left attacks.  I welcome it.

I am working twelve to sixteen hours a day, making calls to raise money, speaking at events and issuing press statements, because I know I can win this race.  I need your help and support from others across America who are concerned about our nation’s future.  Please do what you can today.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, for considering my candidacy, and for all the work you do to take back our schools.

Sheri Few

https://www.sherifewforcongress.com/

 

 

Dr. Stotsky Exposes MA Supreme Court’s Stopping of Voters From Opportunity to Repeal Common Core   1 comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, published with permission from the author;

article was originally published July 8, 2016 at New Boston Post.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

       Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stopped voters from weighing in on a citizen-backed initiative to repeal Common Core.

In her opinion, Chief Justice Margot Botsford blocked on a technicality the petition to let voters decide whether to keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own educational standards. Her reasoning? The measure, she wrote, was unconstitutional because the portion of the ballot question that required the state to release used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests.

Got that? Justice Botsford thinks that release of used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests and standards as a matter of coherent public policy.

It was an oddly-reasoned decision since any classroom teacher in Massachusetts could have told her that the annual release of all used MCAS test items in the Bay State, from 1998 to 2007, was clearly related to the transparency of the state tests and very useful to classroom teachers. Among other things, the information allowed teachers to find out exactly what students in their classes did or did not do well and to improve their teaching skills for the next year’s cohort of students.

Botsford could have asked test experts as well. Any test expert would also have told her that the transparency of an assessment begins with an examination of the test items on it, followed up first by the names and positions of the experts who vetted the items on all tests at each grade level, and then by information on how the pass/fail scores for each performance level were determined, and the names and positions of those who determined them.

Botsford could also have found out from the testimony of those involved with the state’s tests from 1998 to 2007 that the cost of replacing released test items is negligible. It is not clear if her unsupported belief that there is a high cost for replacing released test items was what led her to conclude that the petition addressed matters that were unrelated to each other. As Botsford indicated in her ruling, “the goal of the petition…

… comes with a significant price tag: as the Attorney General agreed in oral argument before this court, implementing section 4 will require the development and creation of a completely new comprehensive diagnostic test every year, which means a substantial increase in annual expense for the board — an expense to be borne by taxpayers and to be weighed by voters in determining whether increased transparency is worth the cost.

In 2015, Attorney General Maura Healey certified the petition for placement on the November 2016 election ballot. But the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) was not content to let the democratic process play out, so they brought a lawsuit — seemingly paid for by grants to the MBAE from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — to stop the matter from ever reaching the voters.

Both Botsford’s decision that the petition was unconstitutional and the unanimous agreement by the other justices as part of a “full court” session are puzzling, given the thorough review the petition had received from the Attorney General’s office. Here is how one of the pro bono lawyers who wrote the petition for the organization collecting signatures to place it on the November 2016 ballot described the vetting process to me (in a personal e-mail):

The process for an initiative petition has a series of check points. The initial draft is reviewed by the staff in the Government Bureau in the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). They look at the proposal to identify whether the proposal meets the threshold of the Constitutional requirements. The Government Bureau is made up of the best attorneys in state government. This review raised no flags.

After the collection of the signatures and submission to the AGO, the language is published and offered for public comment. It was at this point (in 2015) that the MBAE weighed in and opposed the petition (in a Memorandum of Opposition), using arguments that were dismissed by the AGO but that were later used in 2016 with the Supreme Judicial Court (as part of the MBAE’s lawsuit). In 2015, the review includes the staff attorney who oversees the petitions, the chief of the Government Bureau, the chief of the Executive Office (the policy-making administrative part of the AGO) and the Attorney General herself. This is a strictly legal discussion on the merits. … In my opinion, she decided it on the legal issues alone. And she and her staff decided that the petition passed the Constitutional requirements.

Now there can be legitimate differences on legal issues. But we structured the petition with the advice of a former U.S. attorney and his staff at his law firm. We passed several reviews at the Attorney General’s Office, including a contested review. The AGO’s brief on behalf of the petition was strong.

We had a petition that was complete, parrying threats that would have undermined the repeal of Common Core. The Attorney General understood that and supported our desire to bring it before the public.

To date, the parent organization that collected about 100,000 signatures for the petition has received no explanation from the lawyers who wrote the petition for them about why there was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Judicial Court that the petition was unconstitutional (on the grounds that there was a lack of connection among its sections, even though all the sections were in the original statute passed by the state legislature in 1993—a statute that was never criticized as incoherent). Nor has there been any word from the Attorney General’s office.

By preventing the voters from having their say, the Massachusetts court did a disservice not only to our public schools – which were better off under Massachusetts’ own rigorous academic standards — but even more to the institution of democracy itself.

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. Read her past columns here.

Can Parents Combat the Media’s Tolerance of Institutional Manipulation?   Leave a comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

This week, the New Boston Post published this article by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, which is republished here with the author’s permission.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

The efforts by the Gates Foundation to manipulate our major institutions lie at a very deep level in order to remain difficult to detect. Its efforts have been made much easier because our media don’t seem to care if the manipulation is done by a “generous philanthropist,” someone with an extraordinary amount of money and ostensibly the best of intentions for other people’s children. At least, this is how they seem to rationalize their tolerance of political manipulation by moneyed and self-described do-gooders—and their unwillingness to dig into the details.

As one example, we can surmise that Gates gave the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) the funds it would need to pay a very pricey Boston law firm (Foley Hoag) for its 2015 Memorandum of Opposition to the citizen petition asking for a ballot question on Common Core and for the MBAE’s 2016 lawsuit against the Attorney General. We can assume the connection because Gates gave the MBAE large funds in recent years under the guise of “operating” costs. Until Judge Margot Botsford sings, we will not know her reason for using the flawed argument that had been worked out by Foley Hoag for the MBAE 2015 Memorandum of Opposition and that had already been rejected by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) when it declared the citizen petition constitutional in September 2015. The flawed argument, to remind readers, was that the release of used test items is NOT related to the transparency of a test—an illogical statement that most Bay State teachers would recognize as reflecting more the thinking of the Red Queen or Duchess in Wonderland than that of a rational judge. Moreover, the flawed argument was supported unanimously by Judge Botsford’s colleagues on the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Not a murmur of dissent is on record.

Why Foley Hoag repeated the flawed argument it first offered in the 2015 MBAE Memo of Opposition in the 2016 MBAE lawsuit is something only the well-paid lawyers at Foley Hoag can explain. Why Judge Botsford and her colleagues on the SJC so readily used an already rejected and poorly reasoned argument for a “full court” opinion in July 2016 is what only she (and they) can explain. The end result of this fiasco is a corrupted judiciary and legal process. But how many reporters have spent time looking into this matter?

The Boston Globe published a long article the very day Judge Botsford’s decision was released (an amazing feat in itself) that revealed no inquiry by the reporter, Eric Moskowitz, into some of the interesting details of the ultimately successful effort by the MBAE and Gates to prevent voters from having an opportunity to vote on Common Core’s standards. Recall that these were the standards that had been hastily adopted by the state board of education in July 2010 to prevent deliberation on them by parents, state legislators, teachers, local school committee members, and higher education teaching faculty in the Bay State in mathematics and English.

As another example, we know from 1099 filings that the Gates Foundation gave over $7 million in 2014 to Teach Plus, a Boston-area teacher training organization, to testify for tests based on Common Core standards at Governor Baker-requested public hearings in 2015. These hearings were led by the chair of the state board of education and attended by the governor’s secretary of education. Teach Plus members earned their Gates money testifying at these hearings. (See the spreadsheet for the amounts) For links to all the testimony at these hearings, see Appendix B here. Has any reporter remarked on what many see as an unethical practice?

As yet another example, it is widely rumored that the Gates Foundation also paid for the writing of the 1000-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is public knowledge that Senators Lamar Alexander (TN-R) and Patty Murray ((WA-D) co-sponsored the bill, but the two senators have been remarkably quiet about ESSA’s authorship. No reporter has commented on the matter, or reported asking the senators who wrote the bill and who paid for the bill.

In addition, the accountability regulations for ESSA now available for public comment were not written by the USED-selected committees (who failed to come to consensus on any major issue), but by bureaucrats in the USED. Who gave the USED permission to write the accountability regulations it wanted, and who wrote them? No reporter has expressed any interest in finding out who these faceless bureaucrats are. Why?

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. 

Video: Lisa Cummins’ Speech at Rally – Elevating Education: Common No More   Leave a comment

Lisa Cummins (see her campaign site here) is running for District 11 (Herriman area) for Utah’s State School Board.  Her speech below was given at the June 11, 2016 rally at the State Capitol, where citizens gathered to focus on “Elevating Education:  Common No More”.

 

Video: Alisa Ellis for State School Board – Speech at State Capitol Rally   Leave a comment

Alisa Ellis spoke at the “Elevating Education:  Common No More” rally on Saturday at the State Capitol.  She’s running against Dixie Allen and Jim Moss in the huge Heber-Duschesne-Lindon area known as Utah’s District 12.

Her speech was introduced by radio host Rod Arquette, who said:

“Alisa is one of the moms who gained national attention in their fight against Common Core… I look out and I see Christel and I see Renee and up on the stage, I see Alisa.  One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; I absolutely love that movie… it’s a movie about two scoundrels running across the Western U.S., being chased by a group of guys who don’t like them robbing trains and banks.  Paul Newman, who plays Butch Cassidy in the movie, keeps on asking himself as he looks at those guys coming after him, ‘Who are those guys?’ Well, I think when they heard about the Utah moms against common core around the country, people were asking, ‘Who are those guys?’  Well, they gained national attention and they were one of the early pioneers in the fight against Common Core.”

Alisa’s full speech is posted below the video.  My favorite part of her oratory was this:

“As the Utah Constitution states, it is my primary responsibility to educate my children.  The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job.  We even have presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who said that parents have “no role” in education! …When it came to discussing meaningful education policy with my superintendent, I was told that ‘we have no local control’. He even went so far as to tell Renee and I that our local school board no longer represented us.  He told me that he was tired, that he’d been fighting the fight for local control for a long time.  I told him that day that if he wasn’t willing to do it, that I would pick up the fight to restore local control in education.”

 

 

Elect Alisa Ellis to represent District 12 in the Utah State School Board!

Alisa’s got a four-year track record which her opponents cannot touch.

As the mother of seven children  –some of whom are home schooled and some of whom are public-schooled– Alisa effectively lobbied the legislature for the past four years, and has spoken across the state and outside the state, in cottage meetings and on radio shows, calling for increased parental control, student data privacy, real science standards, and for the hearing of the voices of teachers and localities in the fight against Big Ed (Fed Ed and Corporate Ed) –which is the fight against Common Core and nationalization of education.

Her opponents, including the incumbent, cannot hold a candle to her track record of effective, courageous action.

Her campaign site is here: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343457342383929

Full rally speech:

“Some may ask what qualifies me to run for state school board. I don’t have a fancy resume. I don’t lots of letters behind my name but I do have 7 children that no one but God knows and loves better than me. No one knows how to reach them quite like I do. No one knows their fears, insecurities, strengths and numerous other accolades quite like I do. It is my responsibility to see that they receive the best education possible. As the UT constitution states it is my primary responsibility to educate my children. The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job. We even have Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton saying parents have no place in education. This is wrong.

It’s time to put the lead of education back into the hands of parents as the founders originally intended and as our state’s constitution says.

I’m running for state school board because when it came to discussing meaningful education policy concerns with my Superintendent I was told WE HAVE NO local CONTROL. We have to do what the state tells us to do. He even went so far as to say the local school board did not represent me. He told me he was tired of the fight and that he’d been fighting a long time. I promised him that I would take up the fight for local control.

So what is local control? The local control I envision, involves much more than merely stating teachers have the freedom to choose textbooks. The local control I envision means that as a parent I have freedom to find a classroom in the public school that can teach the type of math, English, Science, History, Art etc. that I deem valuable not what a conglomerate of states finds valuable. I’m not trying to take away your right to have your children taught with ‘common standard’ but don’t take away my right either.

Imagine a system where parents can choose the type of education they value. Even with all the choices out there today there is still a centralization of control and power that is strangling the free market in education.
Imagine a system where teachers are given the freedom to truly teach.

There are too many regulations placed on the backs of teachers; too many mandates to meet; too many test to oversee and not enough time to teach. We need to allow teachers the courtesy we give other professionals and let them use their professional judgment to decide what methods work best in their classroom. In turn, we need to give parents the power to find the methods that best match their children’s needs. One size doesn’t fit all and one teaching method doesn’t teach all.

It is often stated that we have full control over our education. This is true. We do. But we aren’t exercising that right. We are continually, voluntarily following the carrot dangled before us either out of fear of falling behind, gaining or losing money or many other unknowns. Historically, this pattern has given us things like the unconstitutional Federal Department of Ed which in turn has given us a tongue twister of acronyms to manage: NCLB, ESEA, SLDS, SFSF, FERPA, AYP, ESSA, CCSS, RTT, RTTA, RTTD, GRIT, and countless other programs. I’ve spent the last 5 years in in depth study of these acronyms and the freedoms they take away from this district.
Recently, we had the opportunity to push back against ALL federal intrusion in to education but instead we codified into law President Obama’s blueprint of education reform in a grandiose bipartisan effort [ESSA] that will give the Department of Ed full Veto power over our state’s education plan and call for Family Engagement Plans. This is NOT local control.

We have come to a cross roads. It is no longer acceptable to go along to get along. We need leaders that are willing to stand up to the bullying that is coming from the federal Department of Ed. It seems that every candidate says they’re against Common Core but it has become an empty promise by most and I am here to tell you that it is not an empty promise with me. If elected I will do everything in my power to stop this trend toward nationalizing and corporatizing education.

Hugh B. Brown said,’One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong… We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom…and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.’

I pledge to push back on the micromanaging come down from the Feds and state to the local districts. I would love to see local districts have more autonomy. I would love to see teachers be able to teach without having to jump through hoops. I’m tired of bad policy being blamed on poor implementation.

It’s time to bring meaningful decision making power back as close to the family and the community as we can.  I’m Alisa Ellis and I ask for your support.
Thank You.”

 

Video: Dr. Gary Thompson For Utah State School Board: The Dirty Dozen   Leave a comment

In case you missed the rally speeches and missed the Fox News report, here begins a series of posts featuring the speakers at this week’s rally at the state capitol, where Utah voters had the opportunity to hear from candidates for Utah State School Board.

The rally was entitled “Elevating Education:  Common No More”.

Radio host Rod Arquette introduced each school board candidate speaker and the gubernatorial candidate Johnathan Johnson. Each speaker declared that Utah can elevate education beyond the Common Core.

The first video shows Dr. Gary Thompson‘s speech; below is the text version of that speech.   (Other candidates’ speeches will be posted soon.)

Text of Dr. Thompson’s speech:

Communities are judged by how well they treat the most vulnerable children amongst them.

If given the honor of representing parents and teachers as a State Board Member, I will only ask four questions regarding any policies placed in front of me regarding our children and students:

1.  Does the policy conform to industry standard ethical practices?

2.   Does the policy allow ground level parental control and teacher choice?

3.   Are stealth psychological evaluations and data collection being performed on children without your knowledge and informed consent?

4.  Is the policy based on “Voodoo-Pseudo Science”, or independent, peer reviewed research?

Our School Board’s failure to view education policy via these four principles has resulted in 12 dangerous realities in place in Utah public schools:

I call them the “Dirty Dozen”:

1.    Lawmakers recently deemed the SAGE test invalid for teacher evaluations, yet did nothing to protect our most vulnerable children from the same flawed test.

2.   Many Utah Standards are developmentally inappropriate for our younger children.

3.  Not one independent developmental psychologist was active in writing Utah K-3 Educational Standards.

4.  The test used to measure knowledge of Utah Standards, the SAGE test, has never been independently validated to measure academic performance.

5.  Without parental knowledge and informed written consent, Utah schools are collecting our children’s most intimate cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and sociological information.

6.  Utah’s test vendor, AIR, is currently using Utah public school children as “experimental lab rats”, as part of the largest, non consensual, unethical, experimentation ever performed on Utah soil.

7. Performing unethical, experimentation on Utah’s children place many of them at risk for serious emotional, behavioral and cognitive damage.

8.  Common Core special education practices are harmful, not based on sound science, and put our divergent learning students at risk for suicide.  Utah has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the Country.

9.  The Utah State Board of Education does not have effective policies in place requiring technology vendors to follow ethical and privacy guidelines, designed to protect parents and children from exploitation and harm.

10.  Student data security and privacy is a myth.

11.  Utah’s Preschool and Kindergarten programs are not supported by independent, peer-reviewed research.

12.   Utah’s adoption of the Common Core Federal mandate to have ALL Kindergartners reading, as opposed to emphasizing play, is abusive, and flies in the face of 75 years of child developmental research.

Since the advent of Common Core, the Board of Education, and the Utah State Office of Education, have dismissed “The Dirty Dozen” as “dangerous misinformation”, and have accuse parents like me of spreading fear into the community.

Today I draw a line in the sand, and for the sake of my children and Community, I ask State School Board Chairman Dave Crandall to do the same.

The contrasts between us could not be more evident.

One of us will protect your children….
One of us is dangerously wrong.

In Exchange, I challenge Chairman Crandall to publicly acknowledge the existence of “The Dirty Dozen”, as THE most pressing, dangerous assault on parental rights, teacher autonomy, and child safety present in Utah Public Schools.

If Chairman Crandall ignores this,  and ignores this challenge, I believe he is not fit to serve another term representing our children, and I respectfully request for him to immediately drop out of the election.

I ask the next Governor of this State, sitting on this stage;  I ask Governor Johnson to place the destiny of the next generation of children into the hands of local parents and our talented ground level teachers, as opposed to catering to technology special interest groups, who now own many Utah lawmakers.

I ask parents to demand that our education leaders base their decisions on ethics, and the rule of constitutional law, as opposed to agenda based, harmful mandates being forced upon our children via the U.S. Office of Education, and adopted without question by the Utah State Office of Education, and the State Board of Education.

I close from a quote from an American who was buried yesterday in Kentucky, Muhammad Ali. His example and courage inspired my father to pursue a dream of becoming one of America’s first generation of black medical doctors in modern history:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it.

Impossible is not a fact…. It’s an opinion.

Impossible is not a declaration…. It’s a dare.

Impossible is potential…Impossible is temporary….Impossible is nothing.”

Thank you for your time and consideration. May God bless this great, and truly exceptional Nation.”

————-

Dr. Thompson’s campaign website link is here:  http://www.vote4drgary.com/#!Dr-Thompsons-Utah-CapitolTown-Hall-Speech/b8v6m/575b6c780cf24c9615a7f130

Early voting begins tomorrow, and voting ends June 28th.  Please vote wisely.  No elected position in this state affects your children and your family more than the state school board position.

Miracles Do Happen: Governor and Chair of Common Core Organization (NGA) Rejects Common Core   7 comments

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-Utah

Governor Herbert surprised a lot of people this week, including me.

After spending the past six years promoting,  marketing, and providing workforce alignment strategies to serve Common Core, and after rising to the throne of Common Core’s organization, National Governors Association, to become its chair, and after going out of his way to have the Utah Attorney General provide “proof” that Common Core supposedly represented local control– after all of this,  Herbert has now turned his back on the Common Core and has written a letter to the State School Board, asking it to move away from Common Core.

The media in Utah say that they are “puzzled” and confused.  Not me.  I’m doing the happy dance!

 

happy dance dog

Regardless of the Governor’s motives in this election year, regardless of the possibility that Utah might just endure a wasteful rebranding effort that could redeliver Common Core under a new name (as many other states, have done and done and done) –I still see this letter from Governor Herbert as a home run for the freedom team.

Read it.  The letter admits that Common Core is not an example of local control, that it is the federal will, and that it damages local control –of testing, data collection, curriculum and instruction.

The letter asks the board to keep these principles in mind while it moves away from Common Core: 1) maintain high academic standards; 2) keep the federal government out of educational decisions in Utah; and 3) preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection and instruction.

It also says, “Just as important as the actual educational standards is the process by which we arrive at those standards.  This should be a Utah process with public comment and discourse.”  It continues, “…[W]e all understand the shortcomings of a one-size-fits-all approach. It is imperative that any new standards are flexible enough to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts …I believe that our teachers need more freedom to be creative in the classroom.

Well, those words are a surprise, and a miracle, to me.

Some people are suspicious because the governor’s in the middle of his re-election campaign, while his challenger, has been extremely successful with voting delegates because of his staunchly anti-Common Core stand.  I was there when the governor got booed by a crowd over well over 1,000 delegates at the Utah County GOP Convention last month, when he spoke about Common Core; I know he is under campaign pressure, but he didn’t have to do this!   He knew it would make him look like a fair-weather politician. He knew that most of those who are already voting for the more-conservative Johnson won’t change their minds and that those who already support Herbert won’t likely change their minds.  So why did he really do it?

Maybe a key to why the governor wrote this letter is in its closing paragraph.  His own children and grandchildren do not like the Common Core. The letter says, “I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had…”

What grandfather can stand up to his own grandchildren’s lobbying efforts against the Common Core?  So he caved, in a good way.  He’s publically admitted that Common Core is academically miserable and politically for socialists.

I cannot see this letter as anything but great news.

So what’s next?  What will the Utah State School Board do?

I don’t think it can get away with yet another meaningless rebranding job. The now-somewhat-savvy Utah public won’t stand for that, knowing what so recently happened to Utah’s previously-good science standards, or knowing what happened when Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, Tennessee, Indiana, and other states passed Common Core repeal laws that resulted in nothing better, but common core 2.0 (under new names).  To the dismay of those who actually wanted freedom and autonomy beyond the federal 15% no-change alignment “suggestion”, better standards didn’t actually mean, better standards.  But we have the advantage of other states’ errors to learn from today.

The letter didn’t spell out every problem with education reform.  For example, it didn’t say, “Let’s finally permit parents to opt children out of the federal/state data data monitoring system SLDS“.

But I don’t see the federal SLDS (Utah’s federally-provided student data mining system, which came to Utah alongside Common Core) very much longer reading “long life and happiness” in its fortune cookie.  Why?  Too many Utahns are aware that common data standards and common academic standards were a package deal from day one.  Utah legislators recently passed bills that  took protective action on student data privacy– taking a stand against the opposition’s  national data-mining-and-monitoring movement.  The governor will not be able to sidestep SLDS, even if he wants to.   SLDS didn’t need to be in the letter because it’s on everyone’s mind.

freedom of speech

 

One of my happiest thoughts, after seeing this letter,  has been thinking about the countless Utah teachers and administrators who have previously not felt free to speak their minds about Common Core.  The governor’s letter, in many ways (and unintentionally, perhaps) helps to reclaim freedom of speech to Utah educators.  While educators opposed to Common Core have mostly remained quiet or anonymous, some of those who have not, have been bypassed, mistreated or branded as “insubordinate” for speaking out– for refusing to pretend to like Common Core –either academically or politically.  Some have even been pushed to resign.

But now, if even the reigning governor is saying he’s not happy about the Common Core –academically nor in terms of lost local control– then finally,  perhaps, any teacher or principal can pipe up, too.

So, this letter is very good news.

Thanks, Governor Herbert.

 

 

A Fact Check on Governor Herbert’s Common Core Letter to Utah State Delegates   1 comment

american mom fieldFACT CHECK ON GOVERNOR HERBERT’S LETTER TO DELEGATES

Ed. Note:  … State delegates have received no less than five communications in the past week from Governor Herbert related to Common Core … Just today we received a robocall from the Lt. Governor, in which he states Governor Herbert has “fought against federal control of education including Common Core”…

What follows below is a rebuttal by Alyson Williams about the letter delegates received from Governor Herbert.

Don’t miss the other UACC article exposing the history of how involved Governor Herbert has been in promoting Common Core.


In a letter to State delegates dated April 7, 2016, Governor Herbert listed seven points, concluding with a personal note, to clarify his position on Common Core in Utah. A fact check against other sources follows each excerpted point below:

1) I have called for the elimination of the federal Department of Education.

TRUE (but don’t miss the fine print): While the topic didn’t come up in his remarks to Congress, he did say there should not be a federal Department of Education on his Facebook page:

Governor Herbert NCLB

Now for the fine print, here are his remarks to Congress:http://blog.governor.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Written-Testimony-of-Governor-Gary-Herbert-UT-Sen-HELP-02-23-16-FINAL-1.pdf

In short, the Governor outlines how instead of the Federal Department of Education controlling nationwide policies for education, Governors should collude to set nationwide policy for education. Calling for the elimination of the Department of Ed while advocating for an extragovernmental process to accomplish a different centralization of power is not a principle of constitutional federalism. It is a Constitution work around.

2) I signed into law SB287 – a bill that makes it illegal for the federal government to have any control.

FALSE: No law in our state makes it “illegal” for the federal government to have “any control.” 2012 SB287 (http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/static/SB0287.html) began as a list of conditions under which Utah “shall exit” any federal education agreement. However, by the time it reached the Governor’s pen, it said, “may exit.” The degree to which Utah avoids federal parameters over local education policy is dependent on the people we elect to various positions of authority and whether they will take action not because they “shall” but because they “may” do so.  Governor Herbert has taken great pains to emphasize Utah’s legal authority to take an alternative path to Common Core and yet he has not advocated doing it. As the chair of the National Governor’s Association, a key stakeholder in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, he accepted a nationally prominent role in promoting these reforms.

3) I called for Attorney General Sean Reyes to conduct an exhaustive investigation to determine whether or not the state of Utah had ceded authority over our education system to the federal government on Common Core or any other standards. He concluded that Utah has not. We control our standards, our curriculum, our textbooks and our testing.

FALSE: Herbert did ask AG Sean Reyes to conduct an investigation but within carefully selected parameters, not an “exhaustive” one. The report provided legal justification for whether Utah could join or exit Common Core while avoiding a conversation Utahans can’t seem to have with this Governor about whether Utah should have joined or would exit Common Core.

As far as ceding authority to the federal government, the AG report acknowledges “the USDOE, by imposing those waiver conditions, has infringed upon state and local authority over public education. States have consented to the infringement, through federal coercion…”

A full response to this report by a Utah teacher can be found here:  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/responding-to-the-attorney-generals-report-on-common-core/

Download the AG report here: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/files/attorney-general-legal-analysis-100714.pdf

4) I commissioned Utah Valley University President Matt Holland and a group of experts to review our education standards. With over 7,000 public comments, this committee recommended improvements to standards and the state board has implemented many of these proposed changes.

UNDISCLOSED BIAS:  Throughout his campaign, Governor Herbert has referred to his Common Core review commission using only Matt Holland’s recognizable name, leaving out that the original chair, Rich Kendell (eventual co-chair with Holland), was an advisor for Prosperity 2020 and Education First. Prosperity 2020 Chair Allan Hall was also on the commission as was Rob Brems, a member of the Utah Data Alliance Executive Board. (Common standards are an invaluable asset for data collection.) All are highly qualified people, who, it must be noted, publicly favored these reforms before this commission was assembled.  There was just one k12 teacher on the commission, from a private school, and she did not concur with the report but her reasons for dissent are not specifically listed.

In another example of this one-sided approach, the report references two experts who came to Utah to testify about the quality of the Standards but does not disclose their previous connection to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Timothy Shanahan from the University of Chicago was on the writing committee for the standards, and David Pearson from UC Berkeley was on the Common Core Standards validation committee. Both have published works and give seminars to help teachers implement Common Core around the country.  The concerns of the dissenting members of the Common Core validation committee who have also submitted testimony in Utah were never mentioned.

LIMITATIONS ON PUBLIC COMMENT: Public comment was limited to making suggestions standard by standard and not on the overall scope and sequence of the framework, or on things that are absent from the standards.

NO MEANINGFUL REVISIONS: As far as proposed changes coming from the report, there is a list of changes to the standards, but they are all corrections of typographical errors or clarifications of the wording.  (p. 33) Other less specific recommendations are scattered throughout, but are seemingly limited to organizational considerations like better cross-referencing between the standards and supporting materials with no substantive revisions.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of the report is this statement that is repeated several times regarding the natural limitation to making meaningful changes to standards that are intended, as a priority, to be common across the U.S.:

“The Utah Core Standards can be revised and improved over time in accordance with Utah students’ needs and based on sound research, while staying similar enough to other states to assist transferability at grade level.”

RISKS FOR REMEDIATION UNCHANGED: Another conclusion of note was whether Common Core would reduce college remediation (starts pg 27): “Students who master Secondary Math I, II, and III standards will be very well prepared for postsecondary education and training programs.” In other words, in this report that ironically emphasizes the need to teach more “critical thinking,” we see an example of circular reasoning: students who master the content (or, who do not need remediation) will not need remediation… just like students who mastered content in previous math programs in Utah.

UNKNOWN OUTCOMES: This is immediately followed by the observation that we won’t truly know how college readiness will be impacted until we see how the kids who have been through Common Core get to college – underlining one of the biggest concerns of parents, that this is a statewide (nationwide) experiment on a scale that will reduce alternatives and inhibit the innovation driven by competing ideas. This experiment will affect an entire generation of Utah students but we can only hypothesize about the outcome: “Research on students who complete all of the grade levels of the mathematics standards will be required to verify that the standards (and their effective implementation) make a difference.” (p.28)

A link to the report:  http://www.utah.gov/governor/docs/utahcorestandards/Standards_Review_Panel_Report_to_the_Governor.FINAL.2.5.15.pdf

5) I, and others, successfully lobbied Congress to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and return education authority to the states. This policy change was heralded by the Wall Street Journal as the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”

FALSE: ESSA didn’t repeal “No Child Left Behind,” it reauthorized it. NCLB is just a nickname for one of the previous reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that has been due for reauthorization since 2007. This reauthorization was dubbed the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” It was revised to eliminate one of the most unpopular aspects of NCLB, the penalties for not meeting targets for AYP, but put nearly everything that had been pushed in the federal grants and waivers under Obama’s Department of Education into federal statute. Obama’s Secretary of Education said everything his administration had “promoted and proposed forever” is embedded in ESSA: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/elementary-and-secondary-education-act/arne-duncan-essa-embodies-the-core-of-our-agenda/

Here’s a letter sent to Utah’s Congressional delegation from a group of local parents highlighting a few of their concerns with ESSA:https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/letter-to-congress-and-compiled-notes-from-alyson-williams-and-50-citizen-readers-on-esea-every-student-succeeds-act/

Every member of Utah’s Congressional delegation, with the exception of Senator Hatch, voted against ESSA.

6) Assessing the progress of our students is important, but we want to maximize the time they spend learning, not the time they spend taking tests. This session, I worked with the Legislature and signed two bills into law that reduce high-stakes testing in our schools (SAGE testing).

TRUE-ish: Governor Herbert did sign the bill removing the high stakes for SAGE assessments from teacher evaluations and another bill that makes the SAGE test optional for 11th graders (who would likely be taking a different standardized test for college application purposes.) It is not clear how either of those reduce testing unless, in the first case, it is assumed that teachers will require less test practice if their evaluation isn’t directly impacted. In the second case, it’s likely just making room for a different high-stakes test.

7) Every budgetary proposal and policy decision I make is to give more authority and discretion to local school districts and local schools. I have continually advocated for increases to funding that gets to the classroom and can be tailored for local needs.

FALSE: Not every policy proposal. Much of the Governor’s Excellence in Education plan dating back to 2010 and the associated calls for additional funding have been in the context of his Education 2020 plan to expand state educational policy to include early childhood education (preschool, all day kindergarten), workforce alignment initiatives, data collection, and school and teacher accountability which is money for bureaucracy and additional programs, not an increase for the average classroom. He did call for additional $ to go into the WPU in his 2017 budget.

On a personal note, I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I’ve seen the frustration they and their parents have had over math assignments they didn’t understand and teachers struggled to teach. I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the flawed implementation of new standards, especially in math…

NOTE: It seems too common that when a top-down program fails it is blamed on the “implementation.” This is a key reason for true local control and for programs to be initiated at the level where the expertise, resources and student needs are best understood. Teachers should not be scapegoats for programs chosen by politicians.

 

 

Stop the Herbert Charade: Vote Johnathan Johnson for Governor   2 comments

jj

Please vote for Johnathan Johnson  for Governor of Utah.  Gary Herbert’s pretend-a-thon about Common Core has been growing increasingly desperate and despicable.  Johnson doesn’t pretend that the nationalization and standardization of all things educational is acceptable, or that it’s not happening.

I actually keep the campaign mailers that Governor Herbert sends out, rather than sending them to the bird cage, because I see them as evidence in a crime scene.

“LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION,” crows one flier, “Governor Herbert played a key role in supporting Congress passing a law to prohibit federally mandated education standards– including Common Core”.

(I ran around my kitchen and shrieked and burned the pancakes the first time I read this mailer.)

ESSA, a fed ed monster bill that Herbert championed, certainly did claim that it would end fed ed in its talking points, but– since no one actually was allowed time to read it–  Congress found out after the vote, in reading the over-a-thousand-pages-long language, that it did no such thing.  Those of us who had been studying its predecessors knew what was in the crock pot.

Federal ESSA passed into law last Christmastime, when nobody had time to read or debate the 1,000+ page bill.  (To make doubly sure no one would have time to read or debate the bill, the writers gave it to the voters in Congress TWO DAYS before the vote).  Senator Lee protested loudly while Herbert promoted ESSA– just as he had so long openly promoted Common Core.

herbert

Despite what Governor Herbert or the Wall Street Journal may have said, ESSA didn’t end fed ed.  It cemented the entire Common Core / common data standards / common tests / federally aligned preschool system.  It just deleted the term “Common Core” so that millions who despised that term might be fooled.  All the federal and corporate strings were still there.

Even Federal Education Arne Duncan admitted that.

Duncan, who gloated over the deception of so many Republicans,  said,  “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law [ESSA] are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core]… For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

In that interview with Politico Pro, posted by Pulse2016, Duncan said, “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”

Duncan also said:

We had many, many conversations behind the scenes . . . . And I said for us to support [ESSA] they’d have to shed their far, far right [constituents who support the Constitution] . . . . I honestly didn’t know if they’d have the political courage to do that. But they both said they would and they did. I give them tremendous credit for that.

Duncan described an intentional betrayal by silence about the real agenda of ESSA:

We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed – intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill . . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff . . .

With such praise for ESSA coming from Duncan (and from Herbert) and with such condemnation of ESSA coming from Lee, Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, one can easily see who’s aligned with progressive, Obama Administration ideology. 

Utah’s Congressional delegation very correctly cited local control being taken away as the reason for voting against ESSA.  Senator Mike Lee  was very clear on why ESSA should never pass.  The governor must have heard the ear candy of the bill’s prominent promoters, notably LaMar Alexander and Paul Ryan– but did he dismiss the words of Senator Mike Lee about ESSA?

Did Governor Herbert believe that he alone recognized ESSA as cutting fed ed, while the famously conservative Lee, Stewart, Bishop, Love and Chaffetz saw it as growing fed ed?  Did these Utah Congressmen vote against local control, and for federal control? Of course not; that’s why Herbert was vague on the mailer and did not actually use the term “ESSA”.

Herbert’s mailer also brags about Herbert being top dog at the National Governors Association (NGA).  True, he is its chair, but that is not something to impress an actual conservative.

The NGA is not a constitutional congress of governors.  It’s a trade group. Not all governors want to be in NGA.  Some governors boldly criticize it.  NGA is a closed-door, private club, not subject to sunshine laws, so no voter can influence (or even listen in on) what happens there.  –And what does happen there?  A lot of grant-taking from the likes of Bill Gates to push Common Core on the states, for one thing;  copyrighting and attempting to sell America on the Common Core, for another.  One non-NGA governor, LePage of Maine, said, “I get no value out of those [NGA] meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey.”

maine

If NGA Chair Governor Herbert wasn’t flabbily playing both sides of the campaign fence, appearing to be pro-Common Core to D.C. and to the ed sales lobby, while appearing to be anti-common core in his mailer to conservative delegates like me, he might come out with a clear and unmistakable statement, like Governor LePage’s of Maine, who said, in addition to the quote above: “I don’t believe in Common Core.  I believe in raising standards in education.”

But that wouldn’t fly with the Governor’s friends in his favorite, unconstitutionally recognized, high places:  NGA, CCSSO, Prosperity 2020, the Education First lobby, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Parents and teachers in Utah have endured intense, years-long frustration as we have listened to the charade led by the governor, echoed by those friends in unconstitutionally recognized, high places.  Herbert once said he aimed to “get to the truth”  about Common Core.  But the narrow, controlled “conversation” that Governor Herbert then led about Common Core, was light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted at his public meeting about Common Core: “Come and let us reason together.”  There was no listening happening.  Yes, he got his attorney general to say that Common Core was a locally controlled initiative, but that report was easily, factually rebutted.

If you want to see the governor’s four-year hypocrisy on Common Core newly documented, with links to the nuts and bolts of when and where Herbert promoted and defended Common Core, please read this week’s Herbert’s Common Core history  article on Utahns Against Common Core by Oak Norton.  It will knock your socks off.

Lastly:  there’s more to object to than just Herbert’s federal rubber-stamping of nationalized education standards and tests and data gathering without consent.  Look at other issues, just as important as education:

  • Why did Herbert veto Constitutional Carry?  Aren’t gun rights on the top of conservatives’ priority lists?
  • Why did Herbert support the expansion of Obama’s ideas for “healthcare” here in Utah?  Aren’t conservatives supposed to stand for fiscal realism and self-reliance and charity (as opposed to forcery –not a misspelling–)?
  • Why did Herbert not refuse the SLDS data mining movement, the federally-built and paid-for “State Longitudinal Database System”–from which no child or parent or teacher may opt out— a system that inventories and profiles students without consent?

I will never forget that day, four years ago, in the governor’s office: it was just the governor, his bodyguard, and we three teachers and moms:  my friends, Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, and me.

Although we explained our documented research about Common Core and common data collection (CEDS/SLDS) and gave Governor Herbert a thick binder that documented our research and our alarms; although we begged him to recognize the error and to steer away from these federally-promoted systems; although we pointed out that the State Office of Education was using zero documentation to support their pro-common core ear candy– the governor didn’t hear us.

then

 

He didn’t keep his promise to have us back in one month, after he and his legal staff had reviewed the issues, either.

He stayed his Common Core-promoting course and entrenched Utah further, using Prosperity 2020 and Education First as financial and political vehicles.

It was never about improving education.

Read Johnathan Johnson’s campaign site.  It is a breath of fresh air.

 

 

How To Stand Up: UT Citizens Have Means to Influence Ed Policy   3 comments

ACTION FOR TODAY

WEBSITE LAUNCHED

Joan Landes of Utah has launched ActionforToday.Wordpress.Com, a site where you can spend five minutes or five dollars to make a difference.  If you become aware of a pressing need that could use some grassroots awareness, post it in the comments section and the site administrator will read and  post it.

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2016 UACC BILL TRACKER

LAUNCHED

The Utah legislature meets for its yearly session now.  The session is only a few weeks long.  Bills will pass or not pass, right now.

On the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC) website, there is now a bill tracker built in.  UACC is asking you, your neighbor, your teacher friends, your grandparents– anyone who cares about saving local control and liberty and high quality, honorable education –to please help review and file education bill reports so we can see at a glance which bills are a problem. You will be helping legislators, who cannot possibly analyze the number of bills that they are asked to analyze in the time given.

Oak Norton, UACC email director, has sent out emails about it. If you’re not on the email list, go to the UACC site and sign the petition.  You will then receive all future e-mailings.
Sign up for a bill here: https://docs.google.com/…/1h_eB3A9Ghqfa6-sdEwjRGSkaLb…/edit…

Read it and then report on it here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/20…/file-bill-report/

See bill summaries here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2016…/bill-summaries/

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US PARENTS INVOLVED IN EDUCATION (USPIE)

LAUNCHED

In a series of press  conferences held this week in various states, US Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) launched its campaign to stop federal intrusion into local education, and launched a membership drive for parents to join, as well as a pledge for legislators to sign, if they stand for true local control of education, as well.

Please join with those across the nation who realize that it’s time to reassert authority over education, over privacy rights, over testing and curriculum; and over stewardship of children by their own families.

VIDEO: Jakell Sullivan on Building Something Better (ABE Conference)   Leave a comment

At this year’s Agency Based Education (ABE) conference, one speaker, Jakell Sullivan, presented the following remarkable research.  Please watch and share.

Oak Norton, founder of ABE, shared this insight in his introduction to Jakell’s video:

“In the Old Testament we read of a curious story where “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). David’s temptation caused him to look upon his people as human capital and as a result he brought a severe curse upon Israel. As a result, God took away a portion of David’s “capacity” to build or make war by offering him one of three curses. David chose the shortest curse, pestilence, which brought upon his kingdom a three day plague and killed 70,000 men.

Statewide longitudinal database systems and digital badging are the designated “numbering” systems used by the education system in America today. When Secretary Arne Duncan and others speak about human capital, they are literally engaging in an effort to control and direct the economic future of our nation. Instead of independent thinkers, we have “common” education standards nationwide, with national assessment, tracking, and a host of other programs to bring all children into a standardization to fit them to the economic desires of those in power.

In this presentation, JaKell Sullivan enlightens and exposes what is happening in the White House and departments of education across the nation and how they are dramatically overstepping their bounds. Please watch and share this presentation, and become a member of Agency Based Education today to help support our mission.”

(You might want to tweet it to @OrrinHatch or other D.C. senators who are about to vote about ESEA/ESSA.  Ask them to vote no because the bill hurts Jakell’s cause, the cause of freedom and putting family and individuals first as it entrenches standardization, gives the feds veto power over anything a state wants to do, enriches ed corporations rather than children, accepts as normal the ongoing, unconstitutional federal encroachment into education, and cements the power of student-data mining.)

Thanks, Jakell!

Michelle Malkin’s #STOPESEA VIDEO   6 comments

michelle malkin

 

Michelle Malkin’s #STOPESEA video is available on her public Facebook page; click here to view.  It was posted 18 hours ago and already has over 120,000 views.  I hope each viewer called D.C. (202-224-3121) or tweeted to Congress @repjohnkline @SpeakerRyan or will do so now.

Michelle Malkin said in the video that even though many have not heard of the hashtag #STOPESEA, it is one of the most important issues on the table in Washington D.C. today.

She called out the media for not covering “bread and butter” education issues like this one and praised “firebreathing moms and dads” from across the political spectrum who “have been ever vigilant on all of the issues involving federal encroachment into education”.

Minute 3:

She noted that “so much of this process is taking place behind closed doors out of view of the public with back door and back room negotiations and no sunlight and no input from the people who are most affected.  That’s you and your kids and your grandkids.”

Minute 4:15

“You’ve got a vote coming up in just a couple of days  on this massive piece of legislation which isn’t accessible to the public yet [wasn’t as of last night; link just added] that many of these politicians on Capitol Hill will, of course, never read, and will have two days for their staffs to digest before they cast votes on it.  It is supposed to be released November 30 with the first vote on December 2nd….Same-o Same-o, business as usual in Washington, D.C., don’t you think?”

Minute 5:

“What good is it to elect new GOP leaders who promise transparency and pay lip service –the same way that Barack Obama did– and then sabotage that very process?  So much for Constitutional Conservatives.”

Not only does the process stink, but as many of these vigilant parents have been warning about, it’s the actual policy itself that stinks, too.”

” One of the few heroes out there who’s been warming about this Senator Mike Lee from Utah, who during a floor speech on November 18th warned that voting for this ESEA/NCLB reauthorization will be tantamount to doubling down or tripling down on all of the awful Common Core concepts that have taken so long for so many so-called Constitutional Conservatives on Capitol Hill to finally acknowledge.  It’s the expansion of the federal role in education and the meddling in the classroom; the cementing of grant money to all sorts of crony educational special interests; along with that of course is the continued federalization of curriculum, the cementing again of contracts and special arrangements between the federal government and a lot of tech companies in the business of leveraging the power and the money that they’re making on these boondoggles on everything from textbooks to testing to technology.  And that data mining aspect, of course, is something that people across the political and ideological spectrum should be objecting to and warning other parents about, and opposing.”

Minute 7:00

Of course, it’s hard to digest all that’s in these hundreds and hundreds of still unseen pages in just a matter of days.  It’s an absolute disgrace. So Monday morning, tomorrow morning, I hope those of you who have been active in any manner in opposing Common Core will see the connection here…call your congress people:  202-224-3121. 

She emphasizes that (see minute 8:47) for those in every type of schooling system, those in “public schools, private schools, private schools, charter schools, home schools, Christian schools, secular schoolsthere is no safe space from fed ed. That’s one of the most important messages I want to get across tonight.”

She adds, “There are all of these strategists in Washington, D.C., who are always puzzling and pulling their chins on, ‘how do they reach out to nontraditional consitituencies” and you have to watch out because when they start talking out loud you have to watch out… that they are about to pander, pander, pander, pander, pander and move to the left on everything… how do we reach out to nontraditional constituencies?  What it really means is throwing all their conservative principles and conservative constituencies under the bus in some desperate attempt to cow-tow to nontraditional constituencies. What they should be doing is looking at issues where they can find agreement with people across the political spectrum, without compromising their principles …  and yes, that includes Common Core and this massive expansion of the testing racket that has usurped so much of the already limited time that there is in the classroom?  Guess what? It’s not just us right-wing, fire-breathing Mammas and Pappas who care about that.”

Minute 25:

“…Issues include all of the money that is being poured into overtly political organizations that are using our kids as political and ideological and pedagogical guinea pigs.  And I can’t tell you how many parents and educators who span the political spectrum who I’ve talked to over the years since I’ve started learning about this, who tell me, “I don’t agree with practically anything else you say, but you are right on this.”

“It’s finding those issues and actually listening to the people who are affected, that is going to have the most promise for Republicans who are looking to win over people who otherwise wouldn’t vote for them.  Education is one of those issues.”

Thank you, Michelle Malkin!

Note to readers: today, the full ESEA bill was released. It’s well over 1,000 pages long.  The Congressional vote is set for the day after tomorrow.  MAKE SOME NOISE.

 

michelle malkin

Look Who’s Making #STOPESEA Videos   5 comments

#STOPESEA VIDEOS – More have been added each day, and more will be added as they are made.

If you have made, or are willing to make, a #STOPESEA video, please post a link to it in the comments section below so I can repost it, or you can post it to the YouTube playlist linked here with the hashtag #STOPESEA.

Thank you to all those who are beginning to post their #STOPESEA videos. I know that there will be more.

My husband, a computer guy, used one of his programming metaphors on me when I was remarking to him that I wish I was pro, that I wish I had at least had the time to practice.

He said, “It’s better to make bridge just two lanes wide that actually goes all the way across than an eight lane bridge that only goes a quarter of the way.”  In other words, I (and all of you) are right to post our message before we’ve polished the presentation.

Just do it.

–And please keep calling!  202-224-3121

 

Michelle Malkin’s video is at her facebook page and linked with written highlights here: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/michelle-malkins-stopesea-video/

#STOPESEA News:

You now have to wait on hold as often as not when you call the D.C. capital switchboard to leave a message for your Congressional reps (202-224-3121) and I’m hopeful, so I think that many of those calls are about #STOPESEA.

My rep Senator Chaffetz’ voice mailbox is full and cannot accept any more messages.

I’m not calling Sen. Lee (except to thank him) since I know where he stands on ESEA– with unclouded dedication to principles of liberty, proper representation and due process.

(I like to leave messages for other Congressmen that are out of my state, both the ones I like (Amash) and the ones I half mistrust (Ryan).)

And more people are making #STOPESEA videos.  This means that not only is there a greater possibility that we might impact this vote by pushing this bill out of its secretive, speed-without-debate path (what one videomaker, Jenny Hatch, called adding “the sunshine, the absolute disinfectant of debate“) that this bill so desperately lacks– but it also means that all of our friends are learning why we do what we do, and why they might want to join us.  Think about it:  Every day, big corporations and wealthy factions pay full time lobbyists big bucks to make sure politicians see these bills their way.  We, on the other hand, have nothing.  We are mothers.  We are teachers.  We do not have time or money or connections like the monied lobbies do.

But we have two things they don’t have, things more powerful by far.  One is the mother (or father) bear instinct.  The parental passion is unstoppable.  We love our kids.

The other is dedication that springs from the love we have for American liberty.  That dedication comes from appreciating the freedoms that we, as Year 2015 Americans, can still enjoy– freedoms that millennia of humans through history have not experienced because they were subject to the whims of kings, and not the rule of law like the incomparable U.S. Constitution, which acknowledges God, which acknowledges that we human beings do tend to control, dominate, bully and rob from one another, but by separating the powers of government, by providing representation and rule of law, by using due process of thoughtful debate, and checks and balances– in this way, we leash that dangerous tendency and that is why America has created unparalleled prosperity and peace in this freedom under God.

 

 

You Shall Not Pass: Utah Senator Mike Lee Isn’t Fooled by No Child Left Behind Reauthorization   Leave a comment

Legendary US Dept of Education whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt  has  pointed out at her blog, ABCs of Dumbdown, that some members of Congress are deliberately concealing machinations of No Child Left Behind/ESEA  and are planning a rushed vote so that no time is allotted for public scrutiny nor for full Congressional analysis of the huge federal law.  She also points out that others, like Utah Senator Mike Lee, aren’t falling for the ruse.

In the official Congressional Record of two days ago, you can read the entire statement of Utah Senator Mike Lee, who said (see page S8032):

So from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”

Senator Lee also stated that the new ESEA/NCLB aims to spend $250 million on federal preschool, even though:

“Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Headstart, which has consistently failed.”

Senator Lee noted that the bill must be stopped because it cements Common Core:

“The bill also doubles down on the discredited common core approach to elementary and secondary education the American people have roundly and consistently rejected. Parents and teachers across America are frustrated by the heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy by Washington, D.C.   I have heard from countless moms and dads in Utah who feel as though anonymous government officials living and working 2,000 miles away have a greater say in the education of their own children than they do.”

Please call the US Capital in D.C. to ask your senators and representatives to VOTE NO on ESEA/NCLB reauthorization.  202-224-3121. 

For additional information and details on who is fighting with us and why we must stop the bill, click here.

From Big Think Tanks to Individual Thinkers: a “NO” to NGSS Common Science Standards   2 comments

poli science

What’s the big deal about Utah changing its science standards?  Doesn’t “new” equal “improved”?

I have three items to share on this subject that come from other people, which I add to what I wrote in yesterday’s letter to the USOE Auditing Department, and then I’ll spout my own thoughts at the end.

1) First, I’m sharing an open letter of fellow Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, to the State Board, protesting Utah’s move toward inept common national science standards;

2) Second, I’m sharing a link to a review of the “science” in these standards by top biology professor Stan Metzenberg, published by Pioneer Institute;

3) Third, I’m republishing Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s video alerting the public to the error of Utah adopting NGSS (also known as Utah’s New Science Standards or Massachusetts’ “new” draft science standards.

(If you want still more, read Utah scientist Vince Newberger’s blog, Science Freedom; see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards (they are as identical twins with one freckle different); watch the  video documentary to hear recorded promises of Utah legislators and board members who explained why Utah should/would never adopt federal/common science standards; read the furious report of parent Alisa Ellis who served on Utah’s parent review committee for these draft standards, read why Kansas parents for objective education sued their state school board for adopting these standards; watch the May 2015 public comment meeting in Salt Lake City about these standards, and read what Jakell Sullivan and I researched about NGSS many months ago.)

Then, contact the board:  board@schools.utah.gov !

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  1.  FROM A UTAH MOTHER, RHONDA HAIR:

Dear Utah State School Superintendent Brad Smith, State Science Specialist Ricky Scott, and State School Board Members:

I filled out the survey and would like to let you know a few things.
First, I am frustrated with the survey: it reads like a scholarly paper and is inaccessible to so many parents who intuitively know what is good but are intimidated by its complexity and minutiae. As a consequence, only parents who have obtained high-level education are going to feel confident about filling out such a survey. Are they the only parents who matter? I’ve been told you keep hearing from professors that these standards are great. Of course they think that. Your survey and standards draft are aimed at people at that level, and they live in a fairly insulated world of theory and numbers, not regular, real-world jobs.
Last time you offered a survey to parents, it was of a similar nature. I attended the board meeting when the results were reported. My survey was not counted; though I did give feedback, it didn’t fit your data set structure. If I remember correctly, only about 70 surveys had been filled out the way demanded. That is because what you are asking about is not what the parents are concerned about. You are asking about the cabins and furniture on a ship that has been hijacked.

While I do object to some specifics in the standards, what is most crucial in my opinion is the overruling of parental control that the Utah Board and Office of Education have done, with the legislature’s blessing. I don’t need to spend considerable time reviewing the standards (though I did) to know you are on the wrong track. These things should be decided at the very local level, where parents and teachers can work together to address the needs, wants, talents, and values of the families and individuals. The state Constitution specifies the Board is to have “general control” of education, which means what can apply to everyone, not “detailed control”. Your predecessors overstepped the intended bounds.
Please help remedy the situation by dropping these standards, rejecting federal strings and intervention, dropping state educational core curriculum, and allow the resulting vacuum to be filled naturally by the districts, schools, and families.

Sincerely,
Rhonda Hair
Parent of Utah public-ed students and homeschool students, B.S. in Elementary Education

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2.  FROM PIONEER INSTITUTE:

Study Calls for Draft Science and Technology/Engineering Standards to Be Withdrawn

“Astonishing” gaps in science content too large to be resolved editorially

BOSTON – Massachusetts’ draft pre-K through introductory high school Science and Technology/Engineering standards contain such startling gaps in science that they should be withdrawn from consideration, according to a new Policy Brief published by Pioneer Institute.

“The proposed science standards have significant, unacceptable gaps in science content,” says Dr. Stan Metzenberg, a professor of biology at California State University and author of “A Critical Review of the Massachusetts Next Generation Science and Technology/Engineering Standards.” “For example, they are stunningly devoid of Mendelian genetics and large parts of cellular biology. This is an astonishing oversight for a state that has notable institutions of higher education and a thriving biotechnology industry.”

At the high school level, the draft standards almost completely exclude Mendelian genetics. These concepts are not easily absorbed before high school, and their exclusion means students won’t be exposed to ideas that revolutionized biology at the beginning of the 20th century.

Their exclusion also makes it impossible to understand modern evolutionary theory and for students to grasp their own risk of carrying inherited disease. Massachusetts’ current science and technology/engineering curriculum frameworks include three Mendelian genetics standards.

The draft standards also exclude large parts of cellular biology, failing to teach high school students about the nucleus, mitochondria or chloroplasts.

Massachusetts currently has a curriculum framework for each of the body’s seven major systems (digestive, circulatory/excretory, respiratory, nervous, muscular/skeletal, reproductive and endocrine). But the draft would include these systems in a single composite standard, reducing students’ understanding and lessening their ability to talk to and understand their own physician and make healthy choices.

The draft standards never mention the name “Charles Darwin” and don’t adequately develop the basis for concepts of natural selection, making it exceedingly difficult to address Darwin’s theory of evolution in later grades.

Finally, the way the draft standards are written is overly complex, using sometimes ambiguous or grammatically incorrect language that fails to clearly communicate what students should know and be able to do. This ambiguity causes difficulty in the later grades.

About the Author

Dr. Stan Metzenberg is Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. He has 20 years’ experience teaching biological science at the university level. He was a senior science consultant for the Academic Standards Commission in California (1998) and a state Board of Education appointee to the California Science Project (1999-2003), the California Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (2003- 2006) and a content review panelist for development of the California Standards Tests (1999-2010). He has recently assisted the ministries of education of Saudi Arabia (2010) and Qatar (2015) in training teacher leaders to use newly adopted science instructional materials.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

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3.   From Wendy Hart, board member of Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest public school district:

 

 

Thank you, Rhonda Hair, Professor Metzenberg, and Wendy Hart.

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And now, a few closing thoughts of my own:

ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The entire nation of scientists do not agree on a common core of science.  Why should kids be forced to do so?  Science is a quest.  Academic freedom to question with a fully open mind, matters.  NGSS ends that for schools.  NGSS’s vision of truth, including political underpinnings of “green” science, is the only correct science.

While some members of the USOE have pretended that the anti-NGSS people (like me) are anti-science people who would  force God and intelligent design  on all students, and that we would have public schools teaching nothing but the Old Testament as science school, that is not true.   It is the pro-NGSS people who want to limit truth.  They want the one-sided, politically charged version of science, slanted toward controversial “facts” being accepted by students as unquestionable scientific standards of truth; they want kids to believe that global warming and climate change is a fact, for example– even though in the real world of real scientists, that is a hotly debated and far from settled scientific issue.  They want kids to believe that Darwinian evolution is flawlessly true.  But that’s not what real scientists agree upon.  Academic freedom demands the continuation of these huge questions in the classroom.  That won’t happen with NGSS and the associated tests and curriculum defining scientific truth from a slanted perspective.

ON MISSING OUT ON MORE THAN JUST A FEW STRANDS OF SCIENCE

Beyond academic holes such as missing Mendelian genetics and missing math in NGSS, beyond the blind acceptance of Darwin and an overabundance of green-slanted “science” –there is an even bigger issue.  In adopting NGSS, we are losing the freedom to set our own standards in the future because NGSS alignment stifles and shackles us with common, aligned tests and common educational data standards that tag our students’ daily work.

ON THE LOSS OF CONTROL OF STANDARDS, TESTING AND PRIVATE STUDENT DATA

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of preserving the right and power of our local teachers, principals, parents, scientists, and board members to influence what is to be taught as truth under the banner of science.

Adopting NGSS, which are not being called NGSS standards by the USOE, but which are, in fact, NGSS standards, (see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards )  is more than adopting academically debatable, “new” but not “improved” standards.

It’s a decision to shackle our students and teachers to a nationalized, common content that NGSS is promoting, and to shackle them to the testing and data mining of student attitudes about this politicized science.  This move makes it efficient and easy for centralized power-holders (NGSS, federal government, state government, CEDS-aligned researchers) who have no business doing so, to not only dictate what truth in science looks like, but what student “achievement” in science will be.  Why give them that power?

Note:   the official site for NGSS states: “To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole, without alteration”.   That is what Utah is doing.  Compare for yourself.

Opting out of standardized testing will not get around these problems, by the way,  since “embedded assessment” (aka stealth testing) will make every student using technology in any form, a data-mining gold mine, daily.

Please, wake up, friends!

We are, right now, putting Utah on the conveyor belt of politically loaded, pre-packaged “true science” defined only by NGSS, with matching SAGE tests (or the upcoming, embedded tests) to monitor whether our kids are buying their version of “true science”.

This grave error comes with  long lasting consequences.  It will be as immovable as any long-lasting, formative decision.  Long ago, we decided to build I-15.  Theoretically, we can put it somewhere else now.  But that is not very likely when the traffic (as NGSS-aligned technologies, codes, curricula, tests, teacher professional development, textbook purchasing and more) begins to barrel down that imperious boulevard.

ON THE WORD “NEXT GENERATION”

Big wigs have verbally crowned their crime against academic freedom with the glittering term “next-generation science.”  Some people fall for the term; it must be the next great thing with such a title; but NGSS buy-in is an  investment in long-term political and academic snake oil.  There is nothing modern and magical about this slippery snake oil  except the  very big marketing dollars behind it.

Inform your representatives and  board members that  you say “No” to NGSS.  (State board email: board@Utah.schools.gov)

 

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Update:  11/13/15

Vince Newmeyer reported that:

“Board members have been told that the October draft is the existing standards updated with just the good stuff from the NGSS. To support their claim then produced a spreadsheet called the USEO standards crosswalk… I have taken their crosswalk and researched it further. The results are:

One new standard was written (6.3.4). Two standards originating from the current Utah Standards were added (7.2.4 & 8.1.2). Some existing NGSS standards went through a thesaurus translation but generally without change in character. Some NGSS standards remain word-for-word. Six standards were formed by combining two or more of the previous NGSS standards. Most of the previously duplicated standards were removed. Only one NGSS standard (MS-LS1-8) is not found. see also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

USOE Admits that they Seek to generally adopt the National Next Generation Science Standard

 

USOE now admits in the materials distributed to the board members related to the October draft of the (UT SEEd) Standards October for their October 8-9, 2015 meeting that “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.” A similar statement is found in the foot notes of the introduction pages to each grade level of the standards released for the 30-day public review. (http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx ) As we have seen in this text that “most” means that essentially all of the NGSS standard concepts are found in the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” with little added.
More details are at my ScienceFreedom.org webpage under articles.”

–From Vince Newmeyer

 

Please Audit Utah State Office of Education’s Public Comment Survey   4 comments

After everything scientist and patriot Vince Newmeyer has written, after everything that people in other states have said and done (and sued about) concerning the INSANE  error of adopting national, common science standards; after all the parental uproar here in Utah, still, the USOE is still moving ahead with its bullheaded determination to strip Utah of any local control and align everything we do to federal standards. I am convinced that this is simply because of USOE’s passionate devotion to money –not to children, teachers or education– but to continued federal grant eligibilty.  There is no other logical explanation.
Today is the last day that you can make public comment on Utah’s move to “Utah Science Standards” –standards which are, in fact, national common standards also known as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.  See the official NGSS link here.
NGSS standards are beloved of the Obama administration (Obama launched a global warming education initiative recently).   NGSS are politicized and controversial, which Utah’s previous standards were not.  NGSS have been called the anti-science science standards because they minimize the scientific habit of actually questioning settled science, while maximizing “climate change” evangelism as presented by the left wing.
If Utah teachers and parents really wanted common NGSS standards, I would have to put a sock in my mouth and go away.  But the Utah Office of Education (USOE) has underhandedly presented these standards, refusing to admit that they are NGSS (by changing one word here or there) and by calling them “Utah Science Standards”.
The public comment site is RIDICULOUS.  I encourage you to go there tonight and spout off, but beware; they’ve made it hard.  They have almost made it impossible.
Click to make public comment here.  (Deadline today)
Hence my letter today, sent to the auditing department, asking them to sock it to USOE for their dishonesty and sellout of our schools and kids and real science.   Here’s the board’s email address if you feel so inclined to take a stand next to me on this issue.    board@schools.utah.gov    
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Dear Audit Department of USOE and State Board,
I am writing to ask you to audit the USOE’s public comment survey about the new NGSS/Utah Science standards.
These “standards” are being called “Utah Science Standards” but they are in reality the same as the NGSS, common national science standards.  This fact has been concealed by USOE in its presentations to the public, unfortunately, but it is true.
Today is the last day that the public is invited to comment.
I am certain that very, very few people have commented.    It severely restricts and frames comments.  The micromanaging nature of the survey, which is a narrow, opinion-managing effort, does not allow for true public comment on the entire scope, process, nature and academic quality of the proposed standards.
It limits commenters to specific strands of specific grades and even limits the space for commenting itself!  What if I was a science teacher who wanted to explain in scientific, pedagogic detail, why it’s so wrong to take out most of what we used to teach kids about electricity, for example?  That has happened.  But there’s no space for it on the survey.
But there is more.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDS tags.)
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.
I could go on.
It feels as if this survey was deliberately written to constrain the public to NOT say what they may want to say; as if the survey-data-tally officers wanted to be able to throw out any comments that did brought up the controversies that the creators didn’t want to discuss.
This is certainly an auditing issue.
Millions of dollars will be spent by USOE and the school system to replace Utah’s previous science curricula.  Millions will go to “trainings” for teachers to alter our traditional, time-tested science pedagogy to make it match the new, NGSS, national-federal standards.
Money will be spent (wasted) not just in an excited, misguided grab for the latest and the best, but in a sickeningly politicized, even anti-God, materialism-belief-based, green-evangelized “science” that the USOE pretends is not NGSS.
The dishonest presentation of the 6th to 8th grade science standards to the public as if they were not NGSS is an issue for an audit.  Does honesty matter, or not?
The money that will be spent bases in part on this very survey, will be taken from taxpayers to put Utah on the federally aligned (unconstitutional) curriculum for politicized science, which is an issue for an audit.
For almost four years, many of us (including teachers, like me) have been carefully, sadly following the  activities of the USOE as it has, time and time again, sold out what’s best for Utah’s children, teachers, and future autonomy, for money.  For grant upon grant upon federal grant.
It is sickening.  NGSS alignment is more of the same.
Please audit this public comment survey and let’s insist that USOE be honest.  Have a public comment survey that actually invites full commentary on all aspects of this transformation of our schools.
Audit this survey, and strike it.  Have an honest look at NGSS and ask the public about  moving to national standards for science.
Ask the public to evaluate NGSS, and call it what it really is.  Audit whether it is even legitimate science.  It redefines the concept by dropping the classic scientific model of questioning, basing itself and its unquestionable “facts” on controversial issues with heavy political underpinnings, not on real, actual, open-minded science.
Christel Swasey

Stanley Kurtz: Drilling Through the Core   2 comments

I can’t wait to read Drilling Through the Core.

I’m sharing this brand new book before reading it myself, because I know these authors and I’ve read their work, making it a must-read for me.

You can check out the book’s review at:  The Corner (National Review) by Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Buy the book  here.

 

 white Book cover isolated on plain background
Kurtz’ review of Drilling Through the Core says:    “It’s all here, from the most basic explanation of what Common Core is, to the history, the major arguments for and against, and so much more. The controversies over both the English and math standards are explained; the major players in the public battle are identified; the battle over Gates Foundation’s role is anatomized; the roles of the tests and the testing consortia are reviewed; concerns over data-mining and privacy are laid out; the dumbing-down effect on the college curriculum is explained; as is the role of the Obama administration and the teachers unions. I found the sections on “big data” particularly helpful. I confess that despite my considerable interest in Common Core, I hadn’t much followed the data-mining issue. Boy was that a mistake. It strikes me that the potential for abuse of personal data is substantially greater in the case of Common Core than in the matter of national security surveillance. With Common Core we are talking about databases capable of tracking every American individual from kindergarten through adulthood, and tremendous potential for the sharing of data with not only government but private groups…
    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/424714/whats-wrong-common-core-stanley-kurtz

 

 

Fake Research Used to Remove Authority From States Over Special Education Testing and Curriculum   5 comments

gary

 

 

The US Department of Education created a “Final Rule” under the new No Child Left Behind to take away constitutional local control; this time, control of special education tests and standards.  It said:

 

The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards…

Dr. Gary Thompson, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has exposed the non-validity of the Common Core tests themselves, has now written an analysis of the federal “Final Rule” entitled “Primum Non Nocere: First Do No Harm.”

(Please share “Primum Non Nocere,” or this introduction to it with legislators and school board members, and especially with US Congressmen who voted FOR the NCLB reauthorization –under the premise that it would not harm parental nor local control but was supposed to “reduce the federal footprintOrrin Hatch and virtually the entire US Congress bought that talking point.)

Dr. Thompson was furious that the Final Rule of NCLB, which takes effect September 15, 2015,  forces special education students to take the same tests and to use the same curriculum that all other students take, based on cited research studies of the U.S. Dept. of Education –studies that are ludicrously far from being valid.  (More on that, below.)  He was even more infuriated when he discovered that the research studies were unapplicable, or fake.

In a follow-up post to the “Primum Non Nocere” analysis, Dr. Thompson made all of this fake research much  easier to wrap our brains around with this analogy: Imagine that a parent takes a very sick child to the doctor’s office and the doctor prescribes eating “Froot Loops” three times each day while watching SouthPark episodes.  The doctor cites research to support this course of action, taken from the journal of gynecology, and expects the parent to comply.

Ludicrious?

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Dr. Thompson finds this as ludicrious, and so he has put into more readable language what the US Department of ED decreed –and remember, this decree takes effect September 15, 2015:

1. All learning-disabled students can become grade level scholars with no differentiated learning– they just need great teaching and great supports.

2. The new testing (Common Core/SAGE) is valid for ALL students with ALL learning disabilities.

3. These new tests are so good that we don’t need alternative or modified tests.

4. The ONLY thing reading and math disabled students need, to become grade level scholars, are good teachers.

5. These new tests are so perfect that they were designed specifically to perfectly measure academic achievement in ALL learning-disabled children.

6. States and ground-level teachers have denied proper instruction for divergent-learning students; therefore, we no longer need individual states to make special tests, because now special education students will be saved by the new Common Core Standards.

 

In “Primum Non Nocere,” Dr. Thompson read through each of these USDOE decrees,  went to the cited research journal itself, and dug around.

He pointed out that in every case, the research was either directly paid for by the USDOE and its partners, or it did not qualify as research because it had never been peer reviewed, or it tested one age or ability grouping of children but applied the findings to a different age or ability grouping;  or the decree/claim was not even linked to any research study whatsoever.

Below are just three sample highlights from Dr. Thompson’s “Primum Non Nocere” that stood out as I read the 44-page analysis.

I hope this seems important enough to study more closely and to share with your senators and representatives; Dr. Thompson is calling for a Congressional hearing on this, the US Department of Education’s obviously false use of research, which it used to fraudulently justify taking away local authority over our special education children.

I hope that our nation is not so numb to morality that we no longer care to prosecute deceit and fraud– especially even when it concerns innocent, disabled children.

froo

 

THREE HIGHLIGHTS from Primum Non Nocere:

 

US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number One:

To support the Department’s decree, that special education students don’t need special education, it cited a 2010 research journal article: “Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A MetaAnalysis.”  Dr. Thompson went to that research journal.

Guess what he found there?

  • That research didn’t include kindergarteners through fifth graders–  no elementary school aged children were studied!  Most of the students were in eighth grade.  –Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to all students.
  • The “study” was paid for by the US Department of Education.
  • Math and reading weren’t included.  The studies used science, social studies, and English; and, only 10% of those studies actually reported on English at all.  –Yet the Department includes math and reading in its approved Common tests, to be applied to all, now including special education students.
  • Most of the students included in the meta-analysis were of average I.Q.  Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to special education.
  • Virtually none of the students were behaviorally or emotionally disturbed (only 4%)  Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to special education students who are behaviorally or emotionally disturbed.
  • It was not an original research study.  It was a holistic, literary study of other studies.
  • Demographics were lacking, so nobody knows how these studies impact children who come from groups who historically test very poorly.

 

US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Two:

To support the Department of Education’s decree that special education students will benefit from taking Common Core/SAGE tests,  it claimed that “new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment”.

Guess what Dr. Thompson found?

  • There was no research study cited.
  • There was no evidence given.
  • The claim that these new tests have been designed to be fair and valid and reliable for special education students, is utterly baseless.
  • Not one of the Common Core testing consortia, funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (such as SBAC, PARCC, and AIR which designs Utah’s SAGE test) have published independently reviewed validity data on special education students (or any students for that matter).

 

 

US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Three:

To support the Department’s decree that “alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed,” the Department cited a  study that (surprise) was also paid for by the US Department of Education– in partnership with the CCSSO, the group that co-created Common Core.  This study was never peer-reviewed, and thus qualifies as propaganda rather than real scientific research.

 

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Other studies, that were also used as references by the USDOE, openly urgedcaution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants,” and warned: “no instructional method, even those validated using randomized control studies, works for all students” — serious cautions that the USDOE clearly did not heed.

Dr. Thompson has called for a congressional hearing:

If the U.S. Department of Education’s force feeding of “Fruit Loops”to our public school children (especially with our vulnerable divergent learning and minority children & teens, all justified via the use of “gynecology” research,) does not justify an immediate Congressional Hearing, I honestly don’t know what the hell else would justify that action.   My four, soon to be five children, are more important, and deserve more attention, than Benghazi, or Hillary Clinton’s alleged misuse of government email servers.

 

 

fl

 

 

I urge you to read all of the findings of USDOE fraudulent use of citations, as discovered in “rimum Non Nocere“.  These were only three highlights of many sobering points.

 

Primum Non Nocere: Dr. Gary Thompson on USDOE Final Rule for Special Education   3 comments

gary

Primum Non Nocere:  First Do No Harm

An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of the U.S. Department of

Education’s Change in Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning

Children in Public Schools

by Dr. Gary Thompson

Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center

10757 S. Riverfront Pkwy. #275 South Jordan, Utah 84095

Phone: 385-900-4020

 E-Mail: drgary@earlylifepsych.com

#SpecialEducationKidsMatter

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Forward:

Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.

As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics.   Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.

We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.

The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.

This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.

Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.

We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.

Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children. May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.

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Acknowledgements:

Wendy Hart & Brian Halladay:

Alpine District school board members whose intellect and courage, in the face of much ridicule and derision, have been an inspiration to thousands of parents nationwide.

Colorado public school teacher Peggy Robertson:

Ms. Robertson’s courageous stance against high stakes, experimental achievement testing on behalf of poverty stricken African American and Latino youth in America, set the tone nationwide for public school teachers to find their voices.

2016 Utah Gubernatorial Candidate Jonathan Johnson & Staff:

For challenging the current incumbent so that ground level parents and teachers can best meet the needs of students, as opposed to serving corporate and political interests.

Parents, educators and advocates in the States of New York & Florida:  Positive proof that opposition to increased high stakes testing  is a culturally and politically diverse endeavor.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Francis Thompson:

Her creative and ethical service to children in our community, as well as her own large contingent of children/teens in her own home, has been inspirational.

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Media Inquiries:

Please direct all inquiries for media requests, interviews, or commentary to Mr. Brook Wardle, Chief Operations Officer/Spokesperson for Early Life Psychology, via email ONLY: bwardle@earlylifepsych.com

images3LFCMWU7

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Guide to Content:

Eight direct statements were examined from the U.S. Department of Education’s August 2015 Rule titled: “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged: Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities.”

Every factual statement written by the USDOE that was referenced and cited to peer reviewed research as support for the policy changes was examined separately under the heading of “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACT #     .”

All eight “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACTS” were directly copied and pasted from the “Rule” to this review document. The statement of fact will be quickly and concisely reviewed and evaluated under the following subheadings:

 

  1. Research cited to support USDOE’s factual statement: A direct citation of the research cited by USOE is provided.
  2. Scope & Limitations of USDOE Cited Research: The size and conceptual scope of the research, and cautionary limitations of the cited research, often quoted directly by authors.
  3. Summary & Conclusion:  A straightforward, brief summary analysis to determine if the research cited by the U.S.D.O.E. was relevant and supporting of the factual statement.
  4. Prior to presenting the Department of Education’s eight “statements of facts”, we have copied and pasted the Department’s “Summary” and “Background” sections of the Rule for your brief review. That full 8-page ruling can be found at this linkhttp://www.noticeandcomment.com/Improving-the-Academic-Achievement-of-the-Disadvantaged-Assistance-to-States-for-the-Education-of-Children-fn-292468.asp
  5. This review will close with a concluding message to all stakeholders in public school education, and a reference to several applicable American Psychological Association (APA) statements of ethics.

 

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AUGUST 2015 RULE:

“Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities”

AGENCY:

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

ACTION:

Final regulations.

USDOEs SUMMARY:

The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities.

In order to make conforming changes to ensure coordinated administration of programs under title I of the ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Secretary is also amending the regulations for Part B of the IDEA.

DATES:

These regulations are effective September 21, 2015.

Background:

In 2007, the Department amended the Title I regulations to permit States to define modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities and to assess those students with alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards. The Department promulgated those regulations based on the understanding that (1) there was a small group of students whose disabilities precluded them from achieving grade-level proficiency and whose progress was such that they would not reach grade-level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students, and (2) the regular State assessment would be too difficult for this group of students and the assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards would be too easy for them. 72 FR 17748 (Apr. 9, 2007). In addition, at that time, the Department acknowledged that measuring the academic achievement of students with disabilities, particularly those eligible to be assessed based on modified academic standards was an area “in which there is much to learn and improve” and indicated that “[a]s data and research on assessments for students with disabilities improve, the Department may decide to issue additional regulations or guidance.” 72 FR 17748, 17763 (Apr. 9, 2007).

 

BRIEF OUTLINE OF USDOE’S CHANGES TO EXISTING ASSESSMENT RULES:

 

  1. States may no longer define modified achievement standards for the vast majority of divergent learning students in public schools.

 

  1. States may no longer develop alternative assessments based on modified achievement standards (with the exception of a small percentage of children ill- defined and labeled “severely cognitively impaired”).

 

  1. Prior April 2007 modifications allowed such action under the premise that students with disabilities would not reach grade level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students.

 

  1. Prior April 2007 modifications allowed testing modifications under the premise that students with disabilities would find the regular State Assessments too difficult.
  2. Prior April 2007 modifications stated that “as addition data and research was obtained in the future on tests for students with disabilities, the Department “may decide to issue additional regulations for guidance”. (72 FR 17748, 17763 (Apr. 9, 2007).

 

Summary:

The Department of Education now requires that states can no longer modify academic standards for students with disabilities (with the noted “exception” of the most cognitively impaired special education students), nor can states develop alternative assessments for those modified assessments.he Department of Education justified these new rule modifications from the prior 2007 rules based on new research that it claims supports the idea that all students with disabilities can perform on the same grade level as traditional students, and that students with disabilities can be tested fairly on the same test used by traditional students.   An examination of the claims of the USDOE, and its research, which the Department says supports these claims, are outlined in the next section.

 

FACTUAL STATEMENT ANALYSIS OF USDOE’S SUPPORTING RESEARCH

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #1:

Since these regulations went into effect, additional research has demonstrated that students with disabilities who struggle in reading and mathematics can successfully learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress when appropriate instruction, services, and supports are provided.”

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #1:

 

Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, J. (2010). Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta- Analysis. Remedial and Special Education, 31(6), 437-449.

 

Scope & Limitations of USDOE Cited Research:

 

 

  1. Meta Analysis of existing research; not an original research study:

(“To address these issues, we conducted a comprehensive literature search and synthesis”) P.437

  1. Criterion for inclusion in this study did not include elementary students from Kindergarten to grade 5:

(“Included in this meta-analysis were original content area intervention studies that included data on secondary aged students with disabilities for which standardized mean difference effect sizes could be computed. Students were considered secondary if they were identified as attending classes in middle schools, junior high schools, or high schools.”) (P. 438).

  1. Content areas examined for this study were limited to only science, social studies, and English. Math and reading were not included in this meta-analysis:

(“Content area interventions included content relevant to any area within science (e.g., chemistry, biology), social studies (e.g., history, geography), or English.). P.438

 

  1. The mean grade level of participants reviewed was 8th grade:

 

(“Of the 67 studies (95.7%) that provided grade-level information, students were enrolled at a mean grade level of 8.3 (SD = 1.5). p. 439

 

  1. The mean I.Q. level of reported participants was “Average”:

(The 42 (60.0%) studies that included IQ information reported a mean sample

IQ of 91.2 (SD = 7.2).) P.439

 

  1. Only 4.3% of the students examined in the Meta analysis were categorized as emotionally/behaviorally disturbed:

 

“(Including students with emotional/behavioral dis- abilities (4.3%).). P. 439

 

7.). Only 50% of the studies examined reported data on race/ethnicity. The studies that reported data on race and ethnicity were not sufficient in number to warrant substantive conclusions:

 

(“These proportions overrepresented Caucasian students (61.7%) and underrepresented African American (20.5%), Hispanic (14.6%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.9%) students (USDOE, 2005)”.). P. 440

 

  1. Only 10% of the studies examined reported subject matter data on English:

 

(“More studies were conducted in the area of science (40.0%), followed by social studies (34.3%), English(10.0%) ). P. 440

 

  1. Researcher’s state that “unfortunate” limitations of this study are the lack of demographic variables:

 

(“It was unfortunate to note that not all studies reported important demographic variables, such as gender and race/ ethnicity. Such information can provide information regarding whether research samples are representative of the students placed in special education today.) P. 445

 

  1. The study was paid for by the USDOE:

 

(“Research for this article was supported in part from grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, numbers H325D020020, H325D070008, and H324C020085.)

 

Summary & Conclusion:

This peer-reviewed study cited by the USDOE, as “evidence” that all special education students “struggling in reading and mathematics” can “successfully learn grade level content,” is a claim that is clearly not supported.   Specifically, the subject of math was not examined, no Kindergarten through Grade 5 students were part of this meta-analysis, and an extremely limited number of emotionally disabled, African American, Latino, or Pacific Islanders were examined.   The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

 

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #2:

In addition, nearly all States have developed new college- and career-ready standards and new assessments aligned with those standards. These new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards.”

 

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #2:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

 

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

 

Summary & Conclusion:

 

Not one of the Common Core testing consortia funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (SBAC, PARCC, AIR) who designed these new Common Core assessments, has published independently reviewed validity data on special education students (or any students for that matter).

“Validity”, simply put, is the process of providing empirical evidence that a designed test performs as it’s stated purpose.

In the absence of such documentation, it is reasonable to conclude that the USDOE of educations statement in this regard, has no basis in truth, and to change policies based on this assertion is a potentially dangerous and far-reaching violation of ethics in the fields of psychology and psychometrics.

1 The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), under pressure from lawmakers and activists, paid $600,000.00 to a private psychometric research group, Alpine Testing, to perform a validity test on their high stakes, experimental Common Core achievement test. The non-peer reviewed results of their study were published September 1, 2015. The scope, depth, and subject matter of inquiry of the test review deviated radically from traditional psychological methods of scientific assessment validity inquiry. We elected to not provide legitimacy to FLDOE”s politically driven “validity” project by providing extensive commentary to a report that does not place the legitimate science of psychometric validity in a true and accurate light.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #3:

 

“Therefore, we believe that alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed and, with high-quality instruction and appropriate accommodations, students with disabilities who took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards will be able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by participating in the new general assessments.

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #3:

 

Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. (Note: This research was not peer reviewed, and was prepared by a “think tank” funded in full by the USDOE).

 

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

 

  1. Research was not peer reviewed, was funded by the USDOE and was written in collaboration with the USDOE-partnered education reform group, CCSSO.

 

  1. The compilation of multiple articles submitted by multiple State Offices of Education did not address specific special education populations.

 

  1. Every separate article placed in this document cited the need for further research, and mostly relied on “surveys” of education teachers as the source of their data.

Summary and Conclusions:

Not one sentence, or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated for any population of public school students.   In fact, multiple articles cited herein, suggested the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #4:

“The assessments being developed by States based on college- and career-ready standards, including those developed by PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, do not eliminate the authority or need for States to administer alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.”

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #4:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

Summary & Conclusion:

The USDOE has not issued eligibility criteria of what constitutes a special education student having “significant cognitive disabilities.”   USDOE has stated within this document that these students will compromise approximately 10% of all disabled students in a given population.   This narrow and arbitrary definition excludes minority groups who have traditionally not performed well in high stakes testing arenas (e.g., African American, Latino students, etc.) and also takes away local States’ choices so that they cannot create and implement alternative assessments for children with dyslexia, severe emotional disturbances and disabilities, and children who have been diagnosed as being along the autistic spectrum.

To date, no peer reviewed publication in the world has opined that the education or clinical psychology community has ever designed a high stakes achievement test that has achieved a high level of validity for the aforementioned groups of children and teens in public school systems.   USDOE is thus dictating the use, application, and interpretation of a test not validated for these specific purposes or interpretations.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #5:

“Research demonstrates that low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in reading [6] and low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in mathematics [7] can successfully learn grade-level content when they have access to high-quality instruction.”

 

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5 (Reading):

Allor, J. H., Mathes, P. G., Roberts, J. K., Cheatham, J.P., & Champlin, T. M. (2010). Comprehensive reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 445- 466

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. Extremely small sample size of study participants. Only three students were used: (“Three students were selected based on teacher recommendation and difficulty in transferring skills on progress monitoring measures. The participants were Jus- tin, Grace, and Kristen. Justin was an 8-year-old Hispanic male with an IQ of 52. Grace was a 10-year-old Hispanic female with an IQ of 59. Kristen was a 12-year-old African American female with an IQ of 45.”) P.348

(“Clearly, we urge caution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants.”) P.354

  1. No independent investigation was taken to verify the accuracy and efficacy of the I.Q. scores of the participants located in their school records files. Regardless, by all indication, all three participant’s scores indicate “mental retardation” on a severe level.
  2. The psychometric instrument to measure “reading” performance in this study was the DIBELS. No validity measures were provided for this instrument. No commonly used measures of reading that have decades of peer reviewed validity studies attributed to them were utilized for this study:

(“Progress monitoring scores, specifically Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS; Good & Kaminski, 2002), phoneme segmentation fluency (PSF), nonsense word fluency (NWF), and first-grade ORF subtests were used to identify students who showed limited growth despite some progress during the daily instructional sessions.”). P. 349

 

  1. The study does not conclude that the end result of the interventions provided, resulted in these children learning how to read. (“In summary, these preliminary results provide promising evidence that even students who initially do not respond to systematic instruction can learn to improve their ability to sound out and unitize words.”) P. 355
  2. The study did not, on any level, conclude (or even examine) whether the three participants were ever able to read at grade level.
  3. Study funded by the “Institute of Education Science,” an arm of the USDOE.

 

Summary & Conclusion:

Given the small sample size, as well as the other serious limitations in this study provided above, an attempt by the USDOE to utilize such psychometrically weak and/or non existent evidence to support broad claims that all students with disabilities can read at grade level with proper instruction, is fanciful at best, and deliberately deceitful at worst.

(The two other articles cited to support the USDOE statement specifically dealt with ADHD, and “interventions” to improve reading. Neither study provides any support for the USDOE’s broad claims, and were not worthy of this reviewer’s additional time to write up the deficiencies of the studies, as such related to the USDOE claims. For those who wish to review them; they are cited in the USDOE references under #7).

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5: (Math):

Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, D., Powell, S. R., Seethaler, P. M., Cirino, P. T., & Fletcher, J. M. (2008). Intensive intervention for students with mathematics disabilities: Seven principles of effective practice.

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. This was the first independent, peer-reviewed article cited by the USDOE that was not funded by the Department of Education.   It was very well written.
  2. The authors listed “Seven Principles in Designing Effective Intensive Interventions” for student with math disabilities.   One intervention, “Ongoing Progress Monitoring” was formed under the premise that “no instructional method, even those validated using randomized control studies, works for all students”. P.86
  3. Individually tailored programs of intervention are needed. (“We also emphasized that the last principle, ongoing progress monitoring to quantify response and formulate individually tailored programs, may be the most essential principle of intensive intervention.”) P. 86
  4. The focus of this research was limited to only 3rd grade students.

Summary & Conclusion:

This was the most complete, independent, interesting and well-researched article thus far cited by the USDOE, yet does not support the overreaching conclusions

of the Department’s rule change in any aspect of its scholarly work.   (In fact, this article may lend itself to the notion of even more diverse methods of intervention, teaching, and testing of children who suffer from math disabilities than what may be on the current “curriculum menu” in many public schools.)

Nevertheless, a well written and crafted study limited to just 3rd grade students, does not support USDOE premise that every learning disabled child in America can, and will benefit from current interventions developed and implemented in public schools.

(The last article cited by the USDOE as evidence of efficacy for the 5th “finding of fact”, was written directly and published by the USDOE and will not be reviewed. The subject matter is based on “Response to Intervention”, and it is general knowledge amongst educational and neuropsychologist in the field that this practice, although effective amongst some student populations, has no peer- reviewed backing that suggests that it can be used on all reading “disabled” students successfully in the entire country.)

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #6:

the developers of the new generation of assessments considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge. [9]

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #6:

 

For additional information on assessment accommodations, see: PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (Nov. 2014) at http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/parcc-accessibility- features- accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf.

 

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. Disturbingly, test developer cited by the USDOE (PARCC) to support this bold premise, no longer has the link listed above on its corporate site. (“The requested URL /sites/parcc/files/parcc-accessibility- features-accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf. was not found on this server.”)

Summary & Conclusion:

There are no independent studies (or even grant-supported studies from the USDOE) in existence, which indicates that Common Core test developers (PARCC, AIR, SBAC) have published validity documents indicating that they:

considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge.” More than likely, these high stakes, Common Core developed tests are still in the experimental phase of development while they are being currently used on special education students, as well as every other child in public schools in the nation.

Evidence strongly suggests that the above-named testing consortia and developers, supported by tax payers’ dollars, may in fact be in the midst of the largest, most comprehensive experimentation –as defined by the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association– on American public school children, in our nation’s history.

If, in fact, independent investigations confirm this well-grounded theory, the U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Arne Duncan, are in violation of multiple APA (American Psychological Association) assessment and experimentation ethics codes. (See APA Ethics Codes 8.02 “Informed Consent to Research” & 8.07 “Deception in Research” & 9.03 “Informed Consent In Assessments” http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf)

The basic foundational purpose of conforming assessment and research practices to ethics codes is to ensure that vulnerable populations, such a special education students, are not exploited and/or harmed.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #7:

We learned through States that received funding from the Department through the GSEG and EAG programs that some students with disabilities who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards may not have had an opportunity to learn grade-level content, and more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade-level content….. Six of the projects found that students who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards had difficulty…”

 

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #7:

 

Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

(Note: This same compilation of research “studies” was cited above in Findings of Facts #3. The “limitations” noted in #3 are applicable and repeated below).

 

  1. Research is not peer-reviewed and is funded by the USDOE. It was written in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers, a group long partnered with USDOE (for example, USDOE and CCSSO partnered in the creation of national common educational data standards, called CEDS.)

 

  1. The compilation of multiple articles submitted by multiple State Offices of Education did not address specific special education populations.

 

  1. Every article placed in this document cited the need for further research, and mostly relied on “surveys” to education teachers.

 

Summary and Conclusions:

 

A statement of belief by the USDOE that “more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade- level contentis not justification to limit local and states’ judgment and creativity with regard to modifying assessments and curriculum for special education students.

Not one sentence or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated.   In fact, multiple articles cited herein the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #8:

 

“Parents and teachers have the right and need to know how much progress all students, including students with disabilities, are making each year toward college and career readiness. That means all students, including students with disabilities, need to take annual Statewide assessments.

 

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #8:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

 

Summary & Conclusion:

It would be reasonable and proper to assume that parents and education stakeholders would “have the right and need to know” how much progress their divergent learning students were making academically.

The USDOE, however, insists that parents and teachers need to know about students’ “career and college readiness.” What exactly is “career- and college readiness” and how does such a confusing and undefined standard apply to children and teens with diagnosed learning disabilities?

What evidence does the USDOE have to show that all students wish to have a career, and if so, are at a developmental or life-experience level to start to think along those lines?

What evidence does the USDOE have to show that it is responsible, or even possible, to assess for “college readiness” for divergent-learning students?

What evidence does the USDOE have to make the unilateral decision, on behalf

of every student and scientist living in the country, without regard to the judgment or wishes of individual students, parents, teachers, doctors, or states, that all students, including students with disabilities, “must take annual statewide assessments?”

How ethical is it to require every public school student in the country to take an experimental test, without their informed written consent; a test that has yet to undergo independent validity reviews by any organization free of contractual ties to either the U.S. Department of Education or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

 

FINAL CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY OPINIONS:

 

We need to know much more than we now know about the actual consequences of implementing large-scale, high-stakes assessment and accountability systems.

It is assumed that holding schools responsible for improved outcomes for students with disabilities, will lead to increased instructional effort, improved instruction, and better outcomes. A government education agency, making policy changes based on assumptions, is engaging in experimentation– unethical experimentation on our nation’s most vulnerable children.

Educators do not yet have the science to know how to teach most of these standards to students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities. At the present time little is known about how much academic content students with moderate and severe learning and emotional disabilities can learn in traditional public school settings.

Common sense, as well as decades of peer-reviewed research in the areas of cognitive and developmental psychology, indicates strongly that restricting students to curricula beyond their cognitive capacities substantially lowers their achievement.

Test publishers often have not conducted adequate research on how accommodations affect test validity. It is unfair and discriminatory to penalize a student with a disability, any disability, for using a needed accommodation on an assessment, simply because the test publisher has not conducted the necessary research about the effect of the particular accommodation on the test.

In fact it is unfair, discriminatory and unethical to require any student to take a test that, by all accounts, is an experimental design that has yet to undergo extensive, independent validity reviews.   There should be candor not only about what is known about these high stakes, computer adaptive assessments, but also about what is unknown. (LORAN Commission, 1988, p. 27) (LORAN Commission. (1988). Report of the LORAN Commission to the Harvard Community Health Plan: Harvard Community Health Plan, Boston, MA.)

Assessment technology, like medical technology, is not perfect; there are potentially harmful side effects associated with treatments determined to be generally safe and efficacious. We certainly are not suggesting to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. (We utilize the same, if not similar, innovative assessment technologies as the education system). However, like physicians and clinical psychologists, educators should know the nature and extent of research documented harmful side effects on vulnerable groups of children, before adopting any high- stakes testing program. Always, there must be informed, written consent from parents.

Failure to do so places special education students in positions of being subjected to frustrations that may exacerbate known, as well as unknown, potential comorbid emotional disorders that many of these students may possess.

We encourage public school districts across the nation to disprove our well- researched and disturbing hypothesis, that not one district website in the entire nation has notified parents of the experimental nature of Common Core high- stakes testing, nor has a single one of the government-funded test makers ever completed independent, peer reviewed validity studies on these assessments.

These “lies of omission,” perpetuated and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under the leadership of Secretary Duncan, will continue to have dangerous consequences for traditionally “test vulnerable” African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, autistic, dyslexic, dual-exceptional, poverty-stricken, and emotionally disturbed children who are enrolled in public and charter schools across the country.

It is the ultimate height of hypocrisy for an Education Department Secretary to insist on “evidence” based conformity to unilateral rule changes, and then make massive special education rule changes based on cited references which appear to have been pulled blindly out of the magician’s hat.

Under Secretary Arne Duncan’s tenure, public schools and special education teachers are not getting the support they need to meet IDEA requirements anywhere in the country, despite special education ballooning class sizes and despite massive layoffs of teachers and support staff all over the country.

Secretary Duncan’s prescription of education reform has resulted thus far in feeding those frenzied financial interests that are aligned with corporate testing corporations, as well as alienating masses across the country, and not just conservative-leaning “white suburban moms” as Secretary Duncan blustered.

We are not politicians or public policy experts. We do not purport to have the answers to perplexing issues facing our nations children in public schools.   What we DO know is that parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.

A shift from the dictatorial-like control now emanating from the Department of Education, and supported by Big Testing’s financial corporate interests– back to states, local school districts, and ground level teachers and parents– is the foundation from which all hope and change in our nation’s education system must start.

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center

 

 

USDOE SUPPORTING REFERENCES & COMMENTARY

COPIED VERBATIM:

 

  1. See discussion of this research in Assessing Students with Disabilities Based on a State’s Academic Achievement Standards.

 

  1. See Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, (2010). Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta-Analysis. Remedial and Special Education, 31(6), 437-449.

 

  1. ESEA flexibility refers to the Department’s initiative to give a State flexibility regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in exchange for developing a rigorous and comprehensive plan designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.

 

  1. For more information, see: Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

 

  1. The IDEA prescribes certain requirements for IEPs for students who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards. 34 CFR 300.160(c)(2)(iii), 300.320(a)(2)(ii), and 300.320(a)(6) (ii). This approach addresses the educational and assessment needs of a relatively small percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, estimated at approximately 1% of all students in a State (approximately 10% of students with disabilities), who cannot be held to the same academic achievement standards as students without the most significant cognitive disabilities.

 

  1. For example, see: Allor, H., Mathes, P. G., Roberts, J. K., Cheatham, J.P., & Champlin, T. M. (2010). Comprehensive reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 445- 466; Kamps, D., Abbott, M., Greenwood, C., Wills, H., Veerkamp, M., & Kaufman, J. (2008); Mautone, J. A., DuPaul, G. J., Jitendra, A. K., Tresco, K. E., Junod, R. V., & Volpe, R. J. (2009). The relationship between treatment integrity and acceptability of reading interventions for children with attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 919-931; and Scammacca, N., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., & Torgesen, J. K. (2007). Extensive reading interventions in grades K-3: From research to practice. Portsmouth, N.H.: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction; and Vaughn, S., Denton, C. A., & Fletcher, J. M. (2010).

 

Why intensive interventions are necessary for students with severe reading difficulties. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 32-444; Wanzek, J. & Vaughn, S. (2010). Tier 3 interventions for students with significant reading problems. Theory Into Practice, 49, 305-314.

 

  1. For example, see: Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, D., Powell, S. R., Seethaler, P. M., Cirino, P. T., & Fletcher, J. M. (2008). Intensive intervention for students with mathematics disabilities: Seven principles of effective practice. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 31, 79-92; and Gersten, R., Beckmann, S., Clarke, B., Foegen, A., Marsh, L., Star, J. R., & Witzel, B. (2009).

Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools (NCEE 2009-4060). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved November 1, 2010 from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.

  1. For example, see Archamboult, I., Janosz, M., & Chouindard, R. (2012). Teacher beliefs as predictors of adolescent cognitive engagement and achievement in mathematics. The Journal of Educational Research, 105, 319-328;

Hinnant, J., O’Brien, M., & Ghazarian, S. (2009). The longitudinal relations of teacher expectations to achievement in the early school years. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (3), 662-670; and Hornstra, L., Denessen, E., Bakker, J., von den Bergh, L., & Voeten, M. (2010). Teacher attitudes toward dyslexia: Effects on teacher expectations and the academic achievement of students with dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 (6), 515-529.

 

  1. For additional information on assessment accommodations, see: PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (Nov.2014) at http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/parcc- accessibility- features-accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf.

 

  1. For more information, see: Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

 

  1. Achieve. (2012). The Future of the U.S. Workforce: Middle Skills Jobs and the Growing Importance of Post Secondary Education. American Diploma Project, achieve.org

————————————

RELEVANT APA ETHICS CODES:

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct

Adopted August 21, 2002 Effective June 1, 2003

With the 2010 Amendments Adopted February 20, 2010

Effective June 1, 2010

 

INTRODUCTION AND APPLICABILITY (In Part)

 

Areas covered include but are not limited to the clinical, counseling, and school practice of psychology; research; teaching; supervision of trainees; public service; policy development; social intervention; development of assessment instruments; conducting assessments; educational counseling; organizational consulting; forensic activities; program design and evaluation; and administration.

 

PREAMBLE (In Part)

 

Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publication. They strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior. In doing so, they perform many roles, such as researcher, educator, diagnostician, therapist, supervisor, consultant, administrator, social interventionist, and expert witness.

 

ETHICAL STANDARDS (In Part)

 

3.04 Avoiding Harm

 

Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and un- avoidable.

 

8.02 Informed Consent to Research

 

(a) When obtaining informed consent as required in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, psychologists inform participants about (1) the purpose of the research, expected

duration, and procedures; (2) their right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun; (3) the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing; (4) reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; (5) any prospective research benefits; (6) limits of confidentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and (8) whom to contact for questions about the research and research participants’ rights. They provide opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers.

 

9.01 Bases for Assessments

 

(b) Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established for use with members of the population tested. When such validity or re- liability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.

 

9.05 Test Construction

 

Psychologists who develop tests and other assessment techniques use appropriate psychometric procedures and current scientific or professional knowledge for test design, standardization, validation, reduction or elimination of bias, and recommendations for use.

 

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Thank you, Dr. Thompson.

 

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C.S. Lewis and the Freedom to Fail   5 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.

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“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

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.)

 

Detailed Schedule: Band of Mothers Event at UVU this Wednesday, May 13   1 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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?

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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.

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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

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SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

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JOY PULLMAN

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TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

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abolitionist movie

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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.

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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

Utah State Office of Education Lies to Legislature and Board about National Common Science Standards Adoption   3 comments

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.

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

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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   26 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.

 

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 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

Source-Focused Analysis of Common Core Starts Here: An Updated Syllabus   8 comments

Original source documents arm honest people who want to know the truth about Common Core to take back the reins of control.

This is important because proponents are increasing false advertisements about Common Core.  They’re also hiding the Common Core Inititative under different names, such as “Utah Core” or  “Indiana Core“.  Unfortunately, well intentioned people whom we trust to tell us the truth often simply don’t know the whole story.  It is up to us to find out for ourselves.

Please go go directly to source documents to fact-check claims being made by proponents of Common Core.

(This slightly updated syllabus was shared in a previous  post.  It is republished today because Alisa, Renee and I are speaking in Vernal tonight and we want to point our Vernal friends to solid information.  If anyone wants to come to the meeting tonight, you are welcome.  There is, of course, no charge and the event begins at 7:00.)

Link to tonight’s Vernal, Utah, meeting:   204 E 100 N, Vernal, UT 84078  (435) 789-0091

 

 

image cc

 A Source-Focused Analysis of the Common Core Initiative

  1. The General Educational Provisions Act – This law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising education:  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…” The Dept. of Education, by forming multiple  official partnerships with corporate America, has gotten away with breaking this law.
  2. U.S. Constitution – Amendment 10 – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The disregard by the Dept. of Education for the authority and diversity of individual states’ educational pathways must be stopped.
  3. Utah’s Race to the Top Grant Application– Utah got points from the federal government for having a SLDS database system. (This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge.  There’s no legal opt-out for SLDS child inventorying.  Corporations, in partnership with state SLDS systems, collect millions of data points on children, without parental consent. ) Also in the Race to the Top Grant Application document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got in. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.
  4. The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.  So states are allowed to add frosting and sprinkles to state standards, but they have no say in what goes into the cake itself.
  5. The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can and probably should opt out of Common Core tests, however.)
  6. The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains that parental consent is a best practice, not a mandate, prior to data sharing; it shows that terms were redefined, that personally identifiable information, including biometrics, can be shared, and that agencies have legal access to private data of students.
  7. The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no real control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.
  8. The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that forced redistribution of wealth is a main reason for the national education system.
  9. The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., is partnered with SBAC. This document shows clearly the mandates for synchronizing tests and sharing student data to mesh testing companies with federal aims and agents.  Its only claim to binding authority is money.
  10. The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Standards were Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.  Also, the speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.
  1. The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also pushes for global data and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which he calls “irreversible reform”.
  2. The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” and he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children and all schools.
  3. The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards. He’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly altered the quality and liberty of classrooms. As he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of standards.
  4. The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators are sought by the federal government. They may include monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic, mid-report.)
  5. Federal data collection websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which includes intimate, personally identifiable information. See Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.  The EIMAC/CCSSO link also shows the official partnership of the federal government with corporate Common Core.
  1. The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards. Here you will see Common Core calling itself a “living work” meaning that what Common Core is today, will not remain. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in altering the commonly held standards because they’re under private copyright. See a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.
  2. See academic testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors have also testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.  See in contrast the motive of Common Core promoters such as Marc Tucker of the Center for American Progress who report that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.  …[N]ew authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”
  3. Federal Definition of College and Career Ready Standards – the federal government hides the phrase “common core” from public view by using the term “college and career ready standards” in its documents.  Know that they are the same thing.
  4. Common Educational Data Standards – The same private groups (NGA/CCSSO) that created Common Core have also created Common Educational Data Standards, so that student data mining and citizen tracking is interoperable and easy.  Coupled with the breakdown of family privacy law (federal FERPA, altered by the Dept. of Education) we see that children’s data lacks proper protections, and that students are being used as compulsory, unpaid  research objects.
  5. Follow the money trails – Study what advocacy and development of common standards Bill Gates has paid for; see how his unelected philanthropy affects education and its governance, and see how his partnerships with Pearson, with the United Nations and others monopolize the U.S. and global education markets, excluding voters as public-private partnerships make decisions, instead of voters or elected representatives such as school boards or legislators making decisions.

american mom

The Governor’s Charade   6 comments

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?”

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

Misleading Polls: One Reason Utahns Don’t Know About the Common Core and Common Data Standards   2 comments

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.

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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.

 

titanic chairs meme

 

Utah Should Vote No on Federal NCLB/ESEA Flexibility Waiver Renewal   1 comment

gulliver

 

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.

 

——————–

Dear Board,
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:
1- The CCSSO-created CEDS data collection aligned to the Common Core standards.
2- Teacher handcuffing via teacher grading related to Common Core testing.
3-  No amendment process for the Common Core (copyrighted) standards.  (We could alter our previous Utah Core; we can’t alter ELA or Math under Common Core’s copyright.)
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.
Christel Swasey
Utah Credentialed Teacher

Come Downtown Friday Morning   5 comments

green

Come downtown Friday morning.

If you are one of the thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands in Utah with grief and concern about the continuing takeover of student data privacy, academic freedom, teacher autonomy and student self-determination,  please come downtown Friday morning.  Click here to join the Facebook event if you like.

Your physical presence speaks volumes even if you do not say a word at this board meeting and rally.

At the last ESEA flexibility board meeting, there were many people wearing green Stop Common Core T-shirts (or other green shirts) –filling the seats, lining the walls inside the meeting and lining the halls outside the meeting.   We need to do it again, this time in the presence of our Common Core-defending Governor.

green to

Come downtown this Friday morning, February 6th, 2015, when the meeting begins at 8:00 (or whenever you can get there.)

Governor Herbert will speaking from 8:30-9:30.  At 9:30 the board will discuss renewing or not renewing the ESEA waiver.

(Public comment will take place for ten minutes at 8:15.  If you contact the board secretary, Lorraine, ahead of time, you can be one of the five people per month who get two minutes allotted to speak during public comment.)

While some attend and speak up at the meeting inside, others will be standing with posters outside the building.

If you will be outside, please bring posters.  What to write on your poster?  Here are a few ideas:

ESEA Renewal Means Zero Leverage 

Our Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No More Education Without True Representation

We Support H.R. 524 – Mia Love’s Stop Common Core Bill 

We Support Utah Teachers

Thank You Mia Love – Pass HR 524

Stop Federal Micromanagement of Utah Schools

Don’t Renew Utah’s “No Child Left Behind” Waiver

Just Say No to the ESEA Waiver

No More Data Mining Our Children

Stop Feeding Our Tax Dollars to the Common Core Cartel

Restore Freedom to Utah Teachers and Students

Support Mia Love’s HR 524 – Restore Liberty in Education 

Thank You Mia Love

mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

 

     

      SCHEDULE – Utah State School Board Meeting February 6, 2015

  • Opening Business 8:00 – 8:15 AM
  • Public Participation/Comment 8:15 – 8:25 AM (sign up ahead of time)
  • Consent Calendar 8:25 – 8:30 AM
  • Discussion with Governor Herbert 8:30 – 9:30 AM (Note: Governor announced last week that he and the Utah Attorney General would meet with the Board this week)
  • Action Item/ ESEA Flexibility Renewal 9:30 – 10:15 AM

 

green too

 

Background Information:

On January 8, 2015, Utah’s State Board approved a Resolution calling for legislation amending and Reauthorizing the Federal ESEA Education Act.  Please check the monster ESEA Reauthorization bill sponsored by U. S. Senate Republicans that will destroy State Sovereignty, including Utah’s.

This Friday, Utah’s State Board will determine if Utah will submit a request to the Dept. of Education requesting a three-year renewal for the ESEA Flexibility Waiver and the continuation of the UCAS Accountability System. (Note: This is the End Game. 3-years of a new Waiver will buy the US Dept. of Education time to close the clamps on parental sovereignty, close down or severely alter private and district schools using Title 1 money, and dismantle school districts using charter “Choice” attached to Title 1  money.)

This State Board meeting is not even truly about education.  Academics are a fraction of what this vote will affect.  It’s really about the gradual abolishing of our representative form of government and what that means for our children long term.  Even the term “ESEA Flexibility” reveals the ongoing federal practice of rationing out parcels of flexibility according to the whims of the federal Department of Education– this doesn’t look like our constitutional inheritance of sovereignty and freedom at all.

Come downtown Friday morning.  Bring a neighbor.  Bring your children.  Make it a field trip.   Wear green.  Stand shoulder to shoulder with other parents, teachers, and grandparents who realize that we have to make our influence felt for the freedom and dignity of our precious children.  This is real.  Please stand with us.

Thank you!

Support Mia Love’s H.R. 524 “Stop Common Core” Bill   5 comments

 Utah’s Mia Love this week announced that she’s co-writing a bill with South Carolina’s Joe Wilson that will do what Lamar Alexander’s bill pretended it would do: restore freedom to education.
mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

Love said:   “I’ve been working on a bill with Joe Wilson. Here’s a little information about it:

H.R. 524 – Local Control of Education Act
Introduced in the House on January 26, 2015
Mia Love, cosponsor

Summary: This legislation will restore local control of education by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt a specific curriculum or set of academic standards, such as Common Core. It will also prohibit the federal government from using grants or waivers to mandate or incentivize states into adopting Common Core, thus ensuring that local control is left to the states. For states that already adopted Common Core, it would ensure that any previous requirements for waivers would be void and the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from requiring states to agree to any new conditions in order to keep their existing waiver.

This legislation helps to counteract the unprecedented federal overreach of the last several years into instructional content, academic standards, and assessments.”

Thank you, Mia Love.

Let’s support the Love/Wilson bill!

 

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(If anyone has not yet written or called our D.C. representatives asking them to vote no on Lamar Alexander’s bill entitled “Every Child College and Career Ready Act of 2015,” please do so immediately.  Public comment on that Common Core-supporting bill ends tonight.  That email is:  FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov ).

The Blast Radius of Proposed New “No Child Left Behind” Bill   36 comments

lamar

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?

 

 

screen lamar two

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.

Michelle Malkin: Parents, Refuse Common Core Tests   14 comments

By Michelle Malkin

Posted with permission from Michelle Malkin; also published at National Review Online. 

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Bureaucrats and big business can’t make you let your kids take their exams.

This is National School Choice Week, but I want to talk about parents’ school choice.  Moms and Dads, you have the inherent right and responsibility to protect your children. You can choose to refuse the top-down Common Core racket of costly standardized tests of dubious academic value, reliability and validity.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’m reminding you of your right to choose because the spring season of testing tyranny is about to hit the fan. Do you object to the time being taken away from your kids’ classroom learning? Are you alarmed by the intrusive data-sharing and data-mining enabled by assessment-driven special interests? Are you opposed to the usurpation of local control by corporate testing giants and federal lobbyists?

You are not alone, although the testing racketeers are doing everything they can to marginalize you. In Maryland, a mom of a nine-year-old special-needs student is suing her Frederick County school district to assert her parental prerogative. Cindy Rose writes that her school district “says the law requires our children be tested, but could not point to a specific law or regulation” forcing her child to take Common Core–tied tests. Rose’s pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 4.

The vigilant mom warns parents nationwide: “While we are being treated like serfs of the State, Pearson publishing is raking in billions off our children.” And she is not going to just lie down and surrender because some bloviating suits told her “it’s the law.”

Pearson, as I’ve reported extensively, is the multibillion-dollar educational-publishing and educational-testing conglomerate — not to mention a chief corporate sponsor of Jeb Bush’s Fed Ed ventures — that snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of so-called “PARCC” tests.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers raked in $186 million through the federal Race to the Top program to develop the nationalized tests “aligned” to the Common Core standards developed in Beltway backrooms.

As more families, administrators, and teachers realized the classroom and cost burdens that the guinea-pig field-testing scheme would impose, they pressured their states to withdraw. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of states actively signed up for PARCC dropped from 24 (plus the District of Columbia) to ten (plus D.C.). Education researcher Mercedes Schneider reports that the remaining ten are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

State legislators and state education boards in Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, South Carolina, and Alabama have withdrawn from the other federally funded testing consortium, the $180 million tax-subsidized Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which administered field tests last spring to 3 million students in 23 states.

In New Jersey, the parental opt-out movement is “exploding,” according to activist Jean McTavish. Many superintendents have conceded that “they can’t force a student to take a test,” NJ.com reports.

Last week, Missouri withdrew from PARCC, while parents, administrators, and the school board of the Chicago public schools spurned PARCC in the majority of their 600 schools.

In California, the Pacific Justice Institute offers a privacy-protection opt-out form for parents to submit to school districts at pacificjustice.org. PJI head Brad Dacus advises families to send the notices as certified letters if they get ignored. Then, be prepared to go to court. PJI will help. The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan also offers a student-privacy opt-out form at thomasmore.org.

Don’t let the bureaucratic smokescreens fool you. A federal No Child Left Behind mandate on states to administer assessments is not a mandate on you and your kids to submit to the testing diktats. And the absence of an opt-out law or regulation is not a prohibition on your choice to refuse.

Here in Colorado, the state board of education voted this month to allow districts to opt out of PARCC testing. Parents and activists continue to pressure a state task force — packed with Gates Foundation and edu-tech special-interest-conflicted members — to reduce the testing burden statewide. For those who don’t live in PARCC-waivered districts, it’s important to know your rights and know the spin.

In Colorado Springs, where I have a high-schooler whose district will sacrifice a total of six full academic days for PARCC testing this spring, parents are calling the testing drones’ bluff about losing their accreditation and funding.

“The Colorado Department of Education is threatening schools to ensure that 95 percent of students take these tests,” an El Paso County parents’ watch group reports.

Be assured that MANY parents across Colorado — FAR ABOVE 5 percent in many schools — are refusing the tests, and not one school yet is facing the loss of accreditation, funding, etc. As long as schools can show that they gave a “good faith attempt to get 95 percent to test, they can appeal a loss of accreditation” due to parental refusals to test.

You also have the power to exercise a parental nuclear option: If edu-bullies play hardball and oppose your right to refuse, tell them you’ll have your kid take the test and intentionally answer every question wrong — and that you’ll advise every parent you know to tell their kids to do the same. How’s that for accountability?

Be prepared to push back against threats and ostracism. Find strength in numbers. And always remember: You are your kids’ primary educational provider.

 

——————-

Thank you, Michelle Malkin.

Utah parents:  SAGE testing is Common Core testing.  End of the year SAGE/A.I.R. tests must (by state mandate) be given by schools, but there’s no law that says students or parents have to sit for them.  In fact, by several laws, parents hold the legal authority and freedom to opt out of these tests and anything that the parent does not feel good about.  I advise us to consider opting out of all SAGE related testing and data collections: mid-year (interim) and the SAGE formative tests that Common Core/SAGE “offers” schools.  Opt out of all of it.  Politely, kindly, firmly.

It is time to take a stand against the cartels and politicians who are using our tax dollars and our legislators to make our children their unpaid and disrespected guinea pigs.  It is time to say, politely, “no way” to these secretive, centrally-managed, unviewable, unpiloted  tests that are pushing experimental and controversial academic standards.

Just say no.  Here’s an opt out form.   Or write your own.  You are the parent.  You are the legal authority.  Remember, the  state recognizes that:

(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and

(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.

Dr. Evers: Common Core Blocks Exit and Voice   10 comments

Dr. Evers’ article is published here with permission from the author.  It was also published at Education Week this  month.

 

THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS’ UNDEMOCRATIC PUSH

by Dr. Williamson M. Evers

“They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They  forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen.”

One of the most influential books in social science in the last 50 years is economist Albert O. Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.

In this pivotal 1970 book, Hirschman discusses how individuals react when services they rely on deteriorate. The basic responses available to us are “exit” and “voice,” Hirschman points out, where exit means turning to a different provider or leaving the area, and voice means political participation.

We tend to think of these responses as stark alternatives. Hirschman, as a social scientist, wanted us to consider the interplay between them.

Exit usually has lower costs than voice for the individual. With exit, you can avoid the long slog of politics and simply turn to someone else or move somewhere else.

But there is a limiting case: Exit can have high costs when individuals are loyal to institutions—thus the third component in Hirschman’s trio of exit, voice, and loyalty.

In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States, he found Americans intensely loyal to their local schools. Americans saw schools as extensions of their families and neighborhoods. They viewed public schools as akin to voluntarily supported charities and as part of what social scientists today call civil society.

Tocqueville described township school committees that were deeply rooted in their local communities. State control of local public education took the form of an annual report sent by the township committee to the state capital. There was no national control.

Today, Americans retain much of the sentiment about local schools they had in Tocqueville’s day. But, increasingly, parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals. Today, we are dealing with a deteriorating situation in a declining institution, namely widespread ineffective instruction in the public schools.

The Common Core State Standards have come to the fore precisely at a time when civically active individuals care much more than they usually do about exit, voice, and loyalty. But the common core has denied voice and tried to block exit.

The common core’s designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity. By creating the common-core content standards behind closed doors, the authors increased the alienation of the public from schools as institutions worthy of loyalty. The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core.

The other approach in times of a deteriorating public service is offering better exit options. But the common core’s proponents have created an almost inescapable national cartel.

There has long been a monopoly problem in public education, which was why economist Milton Friedman called for opportunity scholarships (also known as vouchers) to create a powerful exit option. But even in the absence of opportunity scholarships and charter schools, we had some exit options in the past because of competitive federalism, meaning horizontal competition among jurisdictions.

Economist Caroline Hoxby studied metropolitan areas with many school districts (like Boston) and metropolitan areas contained within one large district (like Miami or Los Angeles). She found that student performance is better in areas with competing multiple districts, where parents at the same income level can move to another locality, in search of a better education.

We have also seen competitive federalism work in education at the interstate level. Back in the 1950s, education in Mississippi and North Carolina performed at the same low level. North Carolina tried a number of educational experiments and moved ahead of Mississippi. Likewise, Massachusetts moved up over the years from mediocre to stellar.

The common core’s promoters are endeavoring to suppress competitive federalism. The common core’s rules and its curriculum guidance are the governing rules of a cartel. The common core’s promoters and their federal facilitators wanted a cartel that would override competitive federalism and shut down the curriculum alternatives that federalism would allow.

The new common-core-aligned tests, whose development was supported with federal funds, function to police the cartel. All long-lasting cartels must have a mechanism for policing and punishing those seen as shirkers and chiselers, or, in other words, those who want to escape the cartel’s strictures or who want increased flexibility so they can succeed.

The new leadership of the College Board by David Coleman, one of the common core’s chief architects, is being used to corral Catholic schools, other private schools, and home-schooling parents into the cartel. The proponents of the common core have now established a clearinghouse for authorized teaching materials to try to close off any remaining possible avenue of escaping the cartel.

What was the rationale for the common core? The name given to the Obama administration’s signature school reform effort, the Race to the Top program, promotes the idea that the federal government needs to step in and lead a race. Central to this rhetoric is the idea that state performance standards were already on a downward slide and that, without nationalization, standards would inexorably continue on a “race to the bottom.”

I would disagree. While providers of public education certainly face the temptation to do what might look like taking the easy way out by letting academic standards decline, there is also countervailing pressure in the direction of higher standards.

If state policymakers and education officials let content standards slip, low standards will damage a state’s reputation for having a trained workforce. Such a drop in standards will even damage the policymakers’ own reputations.

In 2007, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looked empirically at state performance standards over time in a study called “The Proficiency Illusion.” The study showed that, while states had a variety of performance standards (as would be expected in a federal system), the supposed “race to the bottom” was not happening. The proponents of the common core are wrong in their claims that state performance standards were inevitably on a downward slide.

The common core, in fact, provided relief from competitive pressure from other states. Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia at the time that the common core was created (the initiative was launched in 2009, and the standards were released in 2010), did not like it when the low-performing students of his state were compared with students in other states with standards different from Georgia’s. He became the lead governor in bringing the National Governors Association into the national standards effort. Nationalizing standards and tests eliminated them as differentiated school reform instruments that could be used by states in competition over educational attainment among the states.

The common core undermines citizens’ exit option and competitive federalism. It was designed to do so. It likewise evades and negates the voice option. But the makers of this malign utopia have forgotten a few things.

They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen. States are dropping these national tests. States are also struggling to escape the common-core cartel itself. Parents are opting out of common-core testing.

By trying to block exit and voice, the designers and proponents of the Common Core State Standards have caused blowback: A large parent-, teacher-, and community-based movement has arisen to oppose the common core and its national tests.

 

Videos: Maine Symposium to Stop Common Core   1 comment

No Common Core Maine‘s 2014 fall symposium about Common Core is filmed and archived on YouTube.

Friends have been emailing me clips, raving about this symposium, and I’m posting it before I’ve had a chance to watch very much of it.

One friend, who is a district school board member in Utah, wrote this about her favorite part, symposium film #4 with Dr. Peg Luksik:

The coup de grace is at 39:15: ‘Common Core isn’t just flawed in what they teach our children; it’s flawed in how they test our children. It makes it so that the results can match what the Dept of Education wants them to match. If I can manipulate where you succeed and where you fail, I can be sure that you are going to go into the Workforce place that I have chosen for you. Common Core Assessment system allows that manipulation to occur.’  Luksik goes into all the different measures that are supposed to be involved in creating accurate assessments, but, most importantly, how they are not being used in education.  She also addresses the issue of validity with NAEP and why our test scores are so low–we are making them ‘valid’ according to NAEP.  She decries setting the proficiency AFTER having taken the test.” 

Speakers at the Maine Symposium included Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Peg Luksik, Jamie Gass of Pioneer Institute, Mom Erin Tuttle, Maine State School Board Member Heidi Sampson, and more.  Enjoy!

 

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Dr. Stotsky: How to Maintain the Massachusetts Education Miracle   Leave a comment

        

   

by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Not by using Common Core-based standards and tests, for sure, or anything that looks like them.  As anyone can see, the English language arts and mathematics standards dumped by the Governor Patrick-appointed Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in July 2010 are nothing like Common Core’s standards. Unlike Common Core’s standards, which are not designed to prepare American high school students for authentic college coursework, the Commonwealth’s previous standards accelerated the academic achievement of minority groups in the state and did prepare our grade 10 students for authentic college coursework.  Yet, Massachusetts parents, legislators, and teachers have been regularly told for five years that standards cleverly labeled “college and career ready” are better than those they replaced because the old ones didn’t prepare our students for authentic college coursework, just for a high school diploma.  The facts tell otherwise.

 

We know that achievement on the grade 10 MCAS was related to authentic college readiness from a report relating our high school students’ performance on their grade 10 MCAS to the type of public college they enrolled in after graduation in 2005 and the extent of remedial coursework they needed.* Almost all the students at the Advanced level and about 80% of the students at the Proficient level who had enrolled in four-year public colleges and universities in the Bay State in 2005 needed no remediation in mathematics or reading.  They were college-ready as well as high-school diploma-ready, whether or not they took a mathematics course in their senior year of high school (which the report doesn’t tell us).  That is exactly the way the system should work.

 

On the other hand, about half of the 2005 high school graduating students who had enrolled in a Massachusetts community college in 2005 and had earlier been placed at the Needs Improvement level on a grade 10 MCAS test needed remediation in mathematics, reading, or both.  (Again, we don’t know if they had taken a mathematics course in their senior year of high school.)  Sounds completely rational.

 

Yet, the Patrick-appointed Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided in July 2010 that students enrolling in a state college after graduation from high school should not be required to take any college course without college credit if they passed a grade 11 test deeming them “college ready.”   In other words, no placement test or enrollment in a non-credit-bearing developmental course in reading or mathematics.  Instead, students needing improvement must be given credit for the courses they take, whether or not they are academically ready for them.

 

Clearly, their readiness depends on the academic quality and rigor of this grade 11 “college readiness” test, about to be given in Massachusetts high schools in 2015.  Yet, we know from many mathematicians (e.g., R. James Milgram of Stanford, Marina Ratner of Berkeley, Jason Zimba of Bennington) that Common Core’s mathematics standards do not prepare students for STEM careers—the jobs of the 21st century.  And it is obvious to anyone who compares the reading passages used over the years on the grade 10 MCAS with the sample reading passages for the grade 11 Common Core-based reading test that the overall reading level of the passages on the latter test is not higher than the overall reading level of the passages on the grade 10 MCAS test.

 

So who are the chief victims of this gross public deception?  Minority students, especially African-American students.** They are the students for whom Common Core’s standards and tests were created in order to label them college-ready when they aren’t. In the 2005 report, they were featured as having lower “persistence” rates than most other demographic groups, as having a lower Grade Point Average than Asian/Pacific Islanders (2.5 to 2.8), and as earning a lower number of credits on average during their first year of college than Asian/Pacific Islanders (22.7 to 27.1), even though more than 80% of all students in the 2005 school-to-college cohort remained enrolled for a second year of college in 2006.

 

Instead of finding commendations for their persistence and their college-going rates, readers are left to infer that they are so hopeless that the only solution to the “gaps” in demographic performance between African-American students and Asian/Pacific Islanders is to reduce the academic demands of the high school curriculum for all students. Why not restore the standards that actually turned out to help make all Massachusetts students better prepared for high school and for college?  Why do Massachusetts legislators and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education want to believe what they have been told by organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, when these organizations seem to be the only ones who have benefitted from states that have committed to the use of Common Core’s standards.

 

*Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Massachusetts Board of Education. Massachusetts School-to-College Report: High School Class of 2005. February 2008. http://www.mass.edu/reports

 

** http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_g12_2013/#/

 

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For more by Dr. Stotsky on this, read this Pioneer Institute article.

For more on the Massachusetts education miracle, read this article.

Video: Alaska Legislators Hear Experts Testify Against Common Core   1 comment


From Alaska with love.

Here’s a video that I hadn’t seen before, made last spring as Alaska legislators listened to expert testimony about Common Core.  It’s long, but truly worth the time.  My plan was to listen while I folded laundry but I kept throwing down the laundry to run over and replay a section, cheering for the vital testimonies being presented.

One of the jumping-and-cheering parts was Professor Anthony Esolen –on the ham-handed writing of the Common Core English standards– which starts at minute 19:00 and goes to about 27:00.

He vividly expressed how during this era of trash-literature, when it is more important than ever to bring students to great books, the Common Core fails us; it doesn’t even introduce students to their great literary heritage except in little fragments and shards; it fails to coherently teach grammar; it tragically kills any chance at kindling a deep love of reading, suffocating under information-text mandates the needed wide exposure to imaginative and classic literature.

It’s understated to say that the meeting grew a bit tense.  Those gathered did not seem to agree even on whether or not Alaska’s standards are the same as Common Core standards.  Key attendees appeared unmoved by the logical, passionate expressions given by testifiers, their minds likely having been made up prior to the testimonies.

At this link, watch the  discussion, introduced by Representative Lora Reinbold.  Testifiers include: Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College; Anthony Eselon of Providence College; Sandra Stotsky (ret.) University of Arkansas; Ze’ev Wurman, former Department of Education Official (Bush Admin.), NEA Ron Fuhrer President; Marty Van Diest, parent; Troy Carlock and Joe Alward, teachers; and Mike Hanley, Commissioner of Education.

Enjoy.

http://www.360north.org/gavel-archives/?event_id=2147483647_2014031349

Herbert’s Spending to Cement Utah to Common Core and Common Data Standards   Leave a comment

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The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it.  His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)

It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to.  The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his  report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government.  (See rebuttal to the report here.)

But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?

We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.

How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests?  (Not only that– we are now leading others along:  Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)

How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?

The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”.  The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”  

The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.

Sadly, these are lies.  The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.

This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology.  These are D.C. based systems.

Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children.  Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.

This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.”  This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice SolutionsUtrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.

Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data  financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.

That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature.  Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.

fish

It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s  copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.

The Governor’s new budget gives:

“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology  infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”

These  budgetary decisions do not educate.  They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.

Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?

Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.

The opposite is happening.

Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”.  Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20” human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.

I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education.  Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.

Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.

 

green

*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.

Louisiana Senator’s Bill to Free States From Common Core   8 comments

Vitter

 

The Daily Signal reported yesterday that Louisiana Senator David Vitter has filed a bill that would help ease the way for any state to opt out of Common Core.

Breitbart News reported that Vitters used to be a Common Core supporter, but is now opposed.

Vitter’s new bill intends to enable states to more easily exit the national Common Core standards, which so many parents and educators now oppose, by voiding requirements attached to issued waivers from federal law. The Daily Signal reports: “States likely could retain their waivers from the law, called No Child Left Behind, even if they chose to pull out of Common Core.”

Breitbart News reported that Vitters explained why he changed his stance on Common Core:  “After listening to literally thousands of parents, teachers, and others…I don’t believe that we can achieve that Louisiana control, buy-in, and success I’m committed to if we stay in Common Core…

“First, Common Core is controlled by national groups and interests outside Louisiana… many Louisianans legitimately fear that it will become a federal government takeover of education under President Obama and his far-left allies.

“Second, Common Core is causing deep frustration and worse in many classrooms and homes, and not because of greater rigor… “It’s preventing lots of involved parents and teachers — our most important education leaders — from being effective and helping kids learn.”

Vitter added that a third reason for his change of heart is his view that “an entrenched few in public education are trying very hard to manipulate the Common Core controversy to greatly weaken or reverse accountability measures.”

Senator Vitters proposed that his home state:

  • Exit the Common Core PARRC testing consortium immediately and adopt a rigorous interim test that is not aligned with Common Core.

  • Have the Governor, Legislature, and BESE convene a blue-ribbon panel of Louisiana parents, teachers, experts from higher education, and business leaders to develop an updated system of rigorous Louisiana standards and testing outside of Common Core/PARCC.

  • Require that this new system be developed, debated, and adopted in a fully inclusive, transparent, and democratic way.

  • Implement it in a careful, methodical manner, unlike the roll-out of Common Core.

Thank you, Senator Vitter.

Video: New York Forum on Taking Back Education from the Common Core Agendists   Leave a comment

This month in Wappingers Falls, New York, a panel presented concrete ideas for how to take back control of education from the federal government and from its corporate Common Core partners.

To these ideas, add the brilliant idea recently presented by Utah Dad Oak Norton.  View that here.

 

Missouri Common Core Test Use Altered by Restraining Order   4 comments

missouri

A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting [some aspects of] Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Update:  Missouri Education Watchdog has asked to make the following clarification/correction.  Here it is:

The TRO does not stop the state from implementing the SBAC test. It simply stops the state from paying any money to SBAC in the form of membership payments. The state will continue with its plans to administer the SBAC test in spring 2015, but the recently passed HB1490 prohibits the student scores from that test from being used in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determinations. They call it a “Pilot” test. The money we pay them would have to be classified as a purchase of SBAC… 

We were stuck in an odd situation where the company that serviced our previous test (we called it MAP) stopped providing that test in 2014 so continuing with that for another year while we develop new standards was not even an option. The legislature went for the easier temporary fix of allowing the state to use SBAC for our NCLB accountability while the new standards are being developed. They didn’t have the guts of KY to simply say we won’t be providing test data for a year. “

 

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   40 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015   8 comments

An email sent to schools by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) this week was forwarded to me.

It’s gross evidence of a gross circumstance.   The USOE decided that teacher evaluations (read: salaries) will be directly tied to Common Core/SAGE student results starting at the latest next fall (2015-2016 school year).

If teachers didn’t “teach to the Common Core test” before, they will now.

Their  value as a teacher is, by USOE policy, to be determined by SGP –Student Growth Percentile, meaning: the amount of Common Core -based “improvement” that students showed on their Common Core SAGE tests.

It’s a heavy, disrespectful blow to teachers.

I have learned of some teachers who outwardly nod their heads “yes” to administrations and boards but in fact ignore the Common Core standards, continuing to teach the children in their better way, in the same way they always had, prior to Common Core.

How will independent minded teachers survive this new blow?

I don’t know.

I want to remind everyone that many times the USOE has proclaimed that teachers and schools may teach in the manner that in the local, professional judgment, the schools and teachers deem best.  They say Common Core and its tests do not micromanage teachers.

How untrue that claim has been.

Actions speak louder than words.  The state-level threat of teachers losing pay or status, if a particular teacher’s students don’t speed along the Common Core/SAGE test chain, is an almost insurmountable, powerful micromanagement of Utah’s teachers by its government.

Why did Utah allow the USOE to evolve this much power over us?   The USOE, so monstrously staffed, so stuffed full of bureaucrats, consumes many of our precious education dollars but runs un-accountably –to anyone.  And the USOE has zero authority under the Utah Constitution!

Only the State School Board holds constitutional authority of Utah’s education, checked and balanced by the legislature which hold the power of the purse.   The USOE is a deformed, runaway growth, much bigger and heavier than its stem.  Think about it: corrupt though the state board’s election system has been, still, the electing of State Board members has been at least theoretically representative; taxpayers can vote board members out of office.

Not so for the USOE and it’s leadership and staff.  Taxpayers and teachers and parents have zero say in who gets to run our educational show at the USOE level.  We can’t un-elect the writers of that letter, nor can we vote out the vast number of fat-salaried appointees who boss around the teachers, principals and students of this state.

Just as the federal U.S. Department of Education has no Constitutional validity, neither does the USOE have any state-constitutional validity.

I wish school administrators, school boards, the legislature and especially the state board would respond to the USOE with a little spit and vinegar– in defense of teachers and in non-acknowledgement of the assumed authority of the USOE and its policies, schmollisees.

Here’s that letter.

 

======================================

 

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014

From: “Estrada, Christelle” <Christelle.Estrada@schools.utah.gov>

To: “ALL ”

Subject: [Secondary ELA] Clarification – SAGE and SGPs

Colleagues:  I am forwarding this clarification from both the Assessment and the Educator Effectiveness departments at USOE so that you can disseminate it to your fellow teachers.

 

 

Dear LEAs,

 

This E-mail is to clarify possible misunderstandings and up-to-date information in regards to SAGE and Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), and SLOs. The SAGE results for the 2013-14 school year that were released to the public on October 27, 2014 are valid and reliable assessment results.  The results create a new baseline for student achievement.   Educators and parents should seriously review these results and use the results with all of the other educational information and data to support students and assist them in improving their academic achievement.

 

We would like to clarify the relationship of SAGE results to Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and to Educator Evaluation in general. The SAGE results you have recently received may be used in all of the ways you have typically used test results to make instructional decisions, inform the school improvement process,  inform professional development, and evaluate programs; however, the 2013-14 SGPs are not calculated for the purposes of educator evaluation, nor to identify schools for focus and priority status under the ESEA waiver.

 

Business rules for calculating SGPs for educator evaluations are currently being developed by the USOE Educator Effectiveness section in cooperation with the USOE Assessment section. District representatives including Superintendents, HR Directors, Curriculum Directors, Educator Evaluation Liaisons and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input to these business rules prior to their implementation in June of 2015. These business rules will be used to generate teacher-level SGPs that may be used for calculation of a portion of the  educator evaluation as early as August 2015, although their use will not be required until the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Meanwhile, districts should continue to provide professional development and continue to build rater reliability in relation to teacher and leader observations. They should continue to implement their SLO development plans and make choices about how stakeholder input will be gathered and calculated. The Educator Effectiveness team continues to recommend that teachers of both tested and non-tested subjects learn how to develop and use SLOs to provide additional measurement information about student growth.  SGPs will be available for calculating student growth for the 2014-15 school year (they are also available this year), and they will be available to apply to educator evaluation in 2015-16.

 

If you have additional questions about these topics, please continue to contact any of the following for additional clarification as needed: Linda Alder atlinda.alder@schools.utah.gov<mailto:linda.alder@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7923;  Kerrie Naylor at kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov<mailto:kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov>  or 801-538-7950;   Jo Ellen Shaeffer, joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov<mailto:joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7811.

 

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

 

 —————————————————————————————————-

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Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli   4 comments

In September, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey  held a symposium entitled “No More Common Core,” featuring:

  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky, emeritus professor and member of the original Common Core validation committee
  • Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University
  • Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education
  • Dr. Tom Borelli, a molecular biologist
  • Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks
  • Dr. Vern Williams of MathReasoning

The symposium was filmed and is posted here in three segments.

One of the event organizers, Janice Lenox, wrote an op-ed in the Cape May County Herald that succinctly explains why this symposium was so needed.

After a tremendous amount of grassroots labor, the Assembly bill against Common Core was read and voted on.  Lenox wrote:

“We were there for the vote and absolutely ecstatic when the vote 72-2 in our favor was called. Now, on to the Senate…  the Senate president passed over the bill without posting for a vote. We were told that the governor had a meeting with the Senate president and the Teachers Union president and cut a deal. “Regulation, not Legislation” –that’s what the governor wanted. He issued an executive order… He was to assemble a Study Commission to examine the PARCC testing and alleviate the teachers’ assessments for a year… and look at the Common Core…  That was July 19 of this year… As of this date, Nov. 1, no Commission of any kind has been named and no information has been forthcoming…  We urge Senator Steven Sweeney to do the people’s business and post Senate bill S2154 to the floor for a vote and let the peoples’ voices be heard….  Let teachers teach and parents parent.”

If the good people of New Jersey will simply watch, learn, and share these vital messages from the symposium speakers, and then firmly let Senator Sweeney and their other elected representatives exactly how important this is, maybe this mountain will move move.

Go, New Jersey!

 

Symposium Part One:

 

Symposium Part Two:

 

Symposium Part Three:

Has Your School Adopted All-Year-Round Common Core Testing?   10 comments

mtville

 

One of the reasons that our family moved from Wasatch County to Utah County last month was to be closer to the school in Alpine (Utah County) that my son is attending this year. The 50-mile (times two) daily commute was worth it.

Filled with uniformed students and happy-looking staff, Mountainville Academy’s a cheerful, academically-focused K-9 school that displays the Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People posters all over the school (and incorporates the 7 habits into classwork.)  Parents each volunteer 40 or more hours of service to the school, and it shows.

We chose Mountainville Academy because it was one of the few remaining public schools that was using time-tested, excellent Saxon Math (2007 version; pre-Common Core), and it was a rare school where students were grouped by achievement level rather than by age, at least for math.  This meant that a sixth grader would often be found in an eighth grade math class, or vice versa, placed not by government tests, but by a “results-remained-in-the-school” performance test.

Also, despite the government  mandate that the school administer end-of-year Common Core SAGE/AIR tests, the school had been gracious with parents who chose to opt students out of those end of year tests.

This school year had been good, so far.

But last night, I received a school email that has resulted in our family’s decision that our son will not attend Mountainville next year.  I was so sad.  I truly felt sold out, as Alyson Williams described it, because this board could not claim ignorance.  I had met with them, presented to them, emailed them, shown them links and documentation and countless reasons why this decision would harm the students and the school.

The email, from the school’s academic excellence committee, stated that despite the two presentations I made, and despite other parents also speaking out, the school will abandon “results-remain-in-the-school” performance testing, to adopt year-round, formative SAGE/Common Core testing.

This, the email said, was in the best interests of the children.

I was sickened by the email’s news, but also confused– how can anyone, having received the amount of information and documentation that I presented and emailed to the board and the committee about SAGE/AIR, still say with seriousness that this decision was “in the best interests of the children”?

I don’t get it.

But I’m going to post the email that I gave to the board, which the board had requested from me as a follow-up to my five or ten minute oral presentation.  I’m also going to post the email I received last night.

So, is this an epic ruination of a great, formerly-parent-led school, or was this decision made truly “in the best interests of the children”?  The school  has been altered to its very center.  The school-altering decision was made without taking a vote from parents, without even announcing in the weekly “Mountainville Minute” that the school will now be very, very different.

It will be administering Common Core testing throughout the year, and on purpose, voluntarily, rather than only administering the state-mandated end of year SAGE/AIR test.   It will  necessarily align its teachings more and more to the federal desires for what college-and-career readiness is, because placing students in different levels of learning will be structured all year long now upon common core testing and teaching.

I can’t see any way that this course of action can take place and still keep classic education, Saxon math for example, at the school for long.  Because formative tests are utterly Common Core and David-Coleman-club  aligned, to get the state version of “excellent” scores on these tests, teachers will be pressured to teach more Common Core and less classic Saxon.  The formative tests will form student’s paths and teacher’s definitions of what education now means, and that’s giving up the reins of power, reins that had made this school so unique and wonderful.

Beyond the academic transformation is something probably even more serious:  student data privacy.  Privacy for Mountainville students is thrown out the window, because individuals and schools were the only defense we had against the federal-corporate partnership that is aiming to rape the nation of its student privacy.

The state government won’t protect us if Mountainville’s board won’t; the state’s SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) tracks children without parental consent or knowledge and gives much of it to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange and to the corporate American Institutes for Research, which is then free to share that data with its countless affiliates, including Data Recognition Corporation and Smarter Balanced Advisory Consortium (SBAC) which happens to be under contract to share its student level data with the federal government.  American Institutes for Research, the primary data collector of Utah’s SAGE tests, is a behavioral research organization focused on psychometric data collection and behavior.

All of this is known to Mountainville’s Board of Trustees, and with full knowledge, the Board has decided to still jump on the year-round SAGE testing bandwagon.  Neither preserving a classical education nor student data privacy apparently matters too much to the Mountainville Board.

But it does to me.

My heart goes out to the students and their families who will remain at Mountainville, most likely oblivious to the fact that the school’s educational program and their student’s academic and behavioral data privacy  just took a very sharp nose dive down.

 

Here are the emails.

——————————————–

On Oct 13, 2014, at 2:12 PM, Christel wrote:

 

Dear Mountainville Academy,

 

I’m following up from last week’s school board meeting with a summary of my concerns underlying my request that Mountainville Academy continue to use the in-house testing system that’s worked so well in past years, rather than switching over to the state’s SAGE/AIR formative testing system.

 

(I began to study education reforms two and a half years ago and have researched, summarized and posted findings at  “Common Core: Education Without Representation” where I hope you will read much more than I can summarize here about student data privacy,  the common core experimental standards, and the unconstitutionality and freedom-sapping of recent education reforms.)

 

The reason my sixth grade son’s commuted 50 miles– from Heber to Alpine– and back, each day this school year (up until this week when our family moved from Heber to Pleasant Grove) is that Mountainville is very different in important, crucial ways, from other public schools.  I love those differences and want them to remain in place.

 

  • The use of time-tested Saxon math rather than the kind of experimental Common Core math that’s being taught elsewhere was reason #1 for our choosing Mountainville.
  • Reason #2 was the in-house testing that places children where they need to be, rather than placing them in a common pace that does not serve individual needs as well; the fact that these in-house test results remained only at Mountainville, rather than being submitted to state or federal entities— as government-mandated school tests are– was a big deal to me.

 

If Mountainville switches to SAGE/AIR formative testing, I predict that many parents, like me, will very sadly decide to leave the school.  Here’s why:

 

  1. LOCAL CONTROL:   American Institutes for Research (AIR), the company that writes Utah’s SAGE tests (along with some limited Utah educator input), represents a lack of local control and freedom to me. AIR is federally approved and  is officially partnered with the federally funded and micromananged SBAC, Utah’s former Common Core test maker.  AIR/SAGE partnership makes Utah indirectly   partnered with the federal government via that SBAC partnership.  AIR has a progressive, left-leaning agenda, a focus on psychometric rather than academic testing, and a set of values that do not match mine. I do not trust that the questions will be values-neutral nor that the questions will not push children toward pre-determined beliefs that go far beyond traditional academic facts or even critical thinking about traditional truth.  I feel this way about AIR based on carefully studying AIR’s own website, mission statement, clients, staff, secretive questions, history; vague responses by the USOE and state leaders in response to parental concerns; the research of Alpine School Board members, and the actual contract between AIR and Utah.

 

  1. PARENTAL KNOWLEDGE:  Neither Mountainville parents nor teachers are ever allowed to view SAGE tests– not even months after the testing has happened.

 

  1. PRIVACY:  Privacy will go out the window.  What is reported about students by Mountainville to the state, federal and corporate research entities will go from a tiny trickle to a fast-flowing river of data.  Formerly, Mountainville performance tests remained at the school level.  Now, the state of Utah would be tracking and collecting all in-house formative information on each child, without parental knowledge or consent.  While parents can opt out of end of year SAGE tests, they cannot opt out of year -round formative tests while remaining at this school.

 

  1. FEEDING THE SLDS:  Because the legislature has not clearly defined, as far as I can tell, who owns individual student data in our state, the state is making what I feel is  the wrong assumption –that it owns or is entitled to student data.  Common sense says that the student and his/her family should own his/her data.   Because it’s not clear in current law, our children are unprotected.  This is evidenced by the existence of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which follows and tracks students without parental knowledge or consent, from the moment a parent registers a child for school (unless it’s private school) until the child is in the workforce.  The SLDS system was created to federal specifications, with federal interoperability rules, using $9.6 million federal dollars to build Utah’s SLDS.  Every other state also has a federally paid for SLDS.  Much student data is shared from the SLDS to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange.  Because we do not know exactly what data is shared from Utah to the federal government, we are wise to not feed Utah’s SLDS any more data that we are absolutely required to by state law; i.e., don’t drop our in-house testing and use the state’s SAGE/AIR system.

 

  1. FEEDING THE NDCM DATA POINTS:  There is a National Data Collection Model at the federal level  which requests– it does not mandate, but it requests— over 400 data points about every student in our state. It is an invasion of student and family privacy, yet at the state level, Utah is increasingly conforming to the NDCM requests using its P-20 system promoted in Governor Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 program. I do not see any benefit or need to cooperate with these unethical requests.

 

  1. FERPA WAS SHREDDED: We are not protected by formerly protective federal privacy law, FERPA.  The Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to make regulatory, policy changes (not laws, but still binding).  These changes included reducing the requirement to get parental consent (before viewing/sharing student data) to a “best practice” rather than a mandate. The changes also included redefining personally identifiable information (pii) as biometric information. That means that behavioral data (the type of data AIR specializes in collecting) and biological data can be used to identify students at the federal level.  The Federal Register lists fingerprints, blood type, handwriting samples, DNA and many other methods of identifying pii of a student..  We have to ask ourselves whether a vast data-collection archive or student privacy is of greater value to our children.  We cannot have control of both.

 

  1. DON’T PASS THE BUCK ON PROTECTING CHILDREN:   In my experience I have found that most Utah legislators, state school board members and even our governor’s staff do not know nor work to understand these things..  They have not taken the time to understand recent education reform changes, or they see them as a positive thing.

 

We cannot depend on others to protect our children.  We need to be the first line of defense as parents, teachers and local school board members.  I ask you to retain Mountainville’s in-house tests, keep the strengths of Mountainville, and reject the opportunity to use Utah’s SAGE/AIR year-round testing system.

 

Thank you.

 

Christel Swasey

Mountainville Academy Parent

(also a Utah credentialed teacher)

————————————————————————–

Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Request to continue with in-house testing rather than
formative SAGE testing


Christel,

I just wanted to let you know the status of our SAGE testing decisions.


At Mountainville Academy, we make every decision based on what is best for our students.  After listening to all sides with concerns about SAGE testing, we as an academic excellence committee has decided to go ahead with the interim SAGE testing.  We feel that it will help students learn and prepare for SAGE testing in the spring.  As you know, spring SAGE testing is mandatory and schools are not allowed to opt out of testing.


After reviewing the results from SAGE testing of spring 2014, we recognize the many challenges that come with a new test, but are excited by the tools created to help our students achieve greater understanding of various topics.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  I completely understand your concerns and we will continue to monitor the testing and SAGE program.  Thanks for coming to our board and committee meeting.

Thanks Again!


Board of Trustees
Mountainville Academy

—————————————————————————

(For those with concerns,  look into schools that are not yet taking the path of Common Core year-round testing.  In Utah County there’s the (fully aware of the Common Core problem) Maesar Prep (a public chartered jr. and high school), American Heritage (private K-12), Timpanogos (public elementary charter) or one of the many home school co-op academies nearby.)

Who’s Your Daddy? Authority Posers v. Authority Holders   2 comments

babyParents are in charge of their children.

It is not for corporations or federal entities to delegate an education  “role” to the state or to schools or parents, like a play director hands out a role or a prop to an actor.  Similarly, it’s not a school’s or any agency’s right to delegate parents as partners in their child’s education.   Teaching children is not a governmental dictatorship, nor is is a community collective.

Parents and families are the authority, followed by teachers, followed by districts, followed by states.  Unless a parent specifically requests involvement, it’s never a federal or corporate or a “collective” right to rule over the parent-led student’s education. The state is lower on the totem pole than the local district and the schools and families.   The federal government and corporations are not even allowed on the totem pole.  Neither is the United Nations  despite what it has planned for local schools.

We hold the American, Constitutional right to control our own lives, and not to be bullied by outside forces, but the stream of control over education is trying to flow the wrong way:  outside in.

Case in point:  here is a new homework assignment for those in Common Core 101 (aka researching the unconstitutional ways in which federal ed reform is destroying representative government and parental control):   Read and analyze this 268-page  document for constitutional viability:  “The State Role in School Turnaround“.

No, wait a minute.   Don’t bother to read the whole 268 pages.  Just read the title– and nothing else– and realize that it’s completely unconstitutional.

Think about it.  The “state role”?  Under this Republic and its Constitution, the people are in charge– under laws they have created via elected representation.  The states individually are in charge –and not the federal government agencies (nor its agents or branches, like WestEd, which wrote this document.)

The phrase “School Turnaround” is a federal concept comes from Obama’s four pillars of education reform.

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America, we are losing the local representative form of government, losing power to control what happens in our schools, because of central planning taking place by “councils” and “stakeholders” and “partnerships” and chambers of commerce that lack authority in schools and individuals’ lives.  Money, not actual legality, is the source of the assumed authority.

The above “State Role” document happens to be new in 2014, but there are countless other, equally unauthorized, equally arrogant documents written to support mandates created by grant-givers (Bill Gates or federal Dept of Ed) who lack the authority to control our state educational system, but who are nonetheless beginning to rule over us.

  1. example one:  2011 Federal grant to create Common Core tests which mandates states sharing student-level data SBAC  In this document you will see that the authority cited is not a legal code but simply money.  Money is the authority– money the Dept. of Education had no right to be offering for obedience to its mandates.
  2. example two: 2009 Federal ARRA grant to monitor citizens without consent, in State Longitudinal Database System; all must be federally interoperable.  Again, the federal government had no authority to create a federal citizen database.  But by offering money, it got states to make a giant, state-fed-interoperable bunch of databases that it could then tap.
  3. example three: 188 corporate Gates grants that implement Common Core in American schools, each from the same corporate “philanthropist” who sells Common Core technologies and textbooks via official partnerships and governmental alliances.  Again, no authority:  no voter asked Bill Gates to push Common Core onto schools; nothing but the temptation of money fuels the monstrous takeover of the majority of our nation’s schools.

Don’t buy into the posture of authority or the glossy, legitimate-seeming pdf’s and conferences.  Groups like WestEd, AIR, CCSSO, NGA, Microsoft, Pearson, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, ACT, The College Board,  The Center on School Turnaround, The National Center on Education and the Economy– are nongovernmental.  We didn’t elect them and we can’t boot them out.

So why are we allowing them to dictate to us?

Know that we, the people, are in charge, legally, of our own children.  Individuals, families, local schools are in charge, in that order, and as designated by the family, not by districts or a state.

We have to know it to defend it.  Spread the word.

 

 

Responding to the Attorney General’s Report on Common Core   9 comments

utahns against Common Core

The Utah Attorney General (AG) recently issued a report about Common Core.  I’m grateful that Common Core concerns are receiving much-needed attention, rather than being dismissed as unfounded. I thank the Attorney General for his time spent on this issue.  But the report is egregiously errant.

I’m just a full-time mom, not a lawyer.  Though I have many years of experience teaching in public schools, plus years spent researching ed reforms, I never aimed to rebut a state attorney general’s education report.  But truth is truth and error should not be accepted as fact.

Please study this out for yourself. I’m here to point out and to back up with documentation, the errors and omissions of the A.G.’s  Common Core report.  It’s for you to draw your own conclusions.  It’s for our children to live with what we adults see as truth.

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Before I get to the errors and omissions, I will point with gratitude to three key issues that the report correctly clarified:

1)  The report’s first paragraph correctly clarified the fact that the “Utah Core” for K-12 math and English is, in fact, the exact same thing as “Common Core.”  Many have been confused about this fact and some in leadership allow that confusion to continue because they know Common Core has become a toxic term.  But no one need be confused.  The A.G. is correct:  Utah does (unfortunately and voluntarily) adhere to centralized, standardized Common Core standards and tests.

2) The report also  correctly stated that the US Dept. of Education ( by imposing waiver conditions and pushing states to adopt federally approved standards) “has infringed upon local and state authority over public education” and that Utah and other states “consented to this infringement through federal coercion...” (emphasis added).

3) The report correctly said that “Utah has the legal ability to repeal” Common Core.  Most people already knew that Utah CAN withdraw from Common Core; our point has always been that we REQUEST that our state will indeed withdraw from Common Core.

 

The Attorney General’s report wrongly concludes three main things, which I will afterward explain in detail:

1) That adoption of Common Core followed the rule of law; that the parent-teacher lawsuit –brought against the state’s decision to adopt Common Core without proper vetting– holds no water and that the board’s adoption of Common Core was legal;  that Common Core standards do not qualify as rules –so the UARA’s rulemaking process did not need to be followed;

2) That Utah has not ceded authority nor lost local control over its education system via the Common Core Initiative; and that there are no groups that now hold direct or indirect control over Utah’s education system;

3) That Common Core does not impact curriculum.

 

1.   The report incorrectly states that the board’s adoption of Common Core followed the rule of law, using “a very public process” and that it was not illegal in any way.  That question will soon be determined in a Utah court.  The lawsuit to which the report referred –in which parents and teachers are suing the board over its method of adopting Common Core– is still a live, active lawsuit.

Connor Boyack of Libertas Institute (the institution supporting the lawsuit) was correctly quoted by the Deseret News, saying, “Specific behavior was required of the board that was not done. That is the basis of our lawsuit, and that was not responded to by the attorney general.  Our allegations still stand and we’re confident that a judge will determine that the board, in fact, did not comply with the law.”

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The A.G. came to a different conclusion not only from that of Libertas Institute but also from U.S. Department of Education secretary Arne Duncan, who noted that Utah’s state school board and many other states very quickly, quietly adopted Common Core “without studying it, without writing a white paper on it,” without consulting with the teachers, administrators and others whose careers would forever be altered by it.

This clearly goes against our state’s law.

As a public school teacher whose credential has never lapsed out of date, I can attest that when Common Core came to Utah, neither I nor any teacher, to my knowledge, received so much as a letter or an email consulting with or discussing or debating or communicating the fact that a decision was in process, nor announcing any potential positive or negative consequences of the decision.  Local school boards can and have attested that they were likewise left out of the decision.   Millions of public school parents can testify that there was no “very public process”.  Although parents often get  letters, robocalls and emails about school pajama day, the fall carnival, community council elections and many other issues, it was only long after the state had agreed to Common Core (and its associated data, testing and evaluation reforms) that parents and teachers became aware of what it was and how it would change our lives forever.  Teachers and the general public would have had to have been actively scouring the state office of education website weekly basis (–and why would they?)  –to have come across any invitation for public discussion or feedback on this huge, transformative issue.

The report also falsely states that prior to adoption of Common Core, Utah was an active participant in the creation of Common Core standards.  This claim is not backed up with evidence of any kind. Listening to the minutes of the state school board meetings surrounding adoption of Common Core reveals that the claim is far from true.

Last, there’s the reference to Utah’s  UARA  which defines rules and rulemaking.  The A.G.’s report correctly states that a plausible case can be made that  because Utah is now ruled by Common Core’s rules, the rulemaking process should have been followed, and was not. UARA defines a rule as a statement by an agency (in our case, the USOE/school board) which implicitly or explicitly requires some class of people or agencies (in our case, school system employees)  to obey it; a statement that implements or interprets law (in this case both state and federal law, even though the federal government does not have constitutional authority to make education laws– since it has done so and it uses money to control states’ obedience to these unauthorized laws and policies, and now Common Core-implementing state laws are congruent with Common Core education reforms as well).

Common Core standards must be considered rules since the state school board and USOE mandate statewide adherence to its benchmarks and tests, and the legislature specifically mandates  teacher and school evaluation using Common Core computer adaptive testing.

But the A.G.’s report oddly states that because Utah law does not define the meaning of the term “standard,”  the standards aren’t really rules so the rulemaking process was correctly skipped over. That defies common sense, and research.  Teachers and administrators rely on USOE/USSB statements on Common Core to interpret and implement education law and policy.  Common Core is mandated by the legislature’s Common Core CAT testing laws, and adherence to Common Core was partial payment for receipt of federal waivers, monies and technologies; it was parceled with federal No Child Left Behind waivers, ARRA grant obligations, SBAC (Utah’s former) testing grants, and the federal SLDS grant, each of which helped bind Utah schools, teachers and students to Common Core and common data standards.

2.  The report incorrectly states that Utah has NOT ceded authority over standards and curriculum.  Utah ceded her authority by adopting Common Core, in several ways:

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Way one:  Utah has no vote or voice in the revisions to “its own” common core standards.  Utah did not write Common Core.  Neither did any other state. Common Core was never, despite its marketing claims, a state-led process.  The creator-copyrighters of Common Core were two unelected, nonpublic groups— unaccountable-to-voters groups, cannot-be-influenced-by-voters groups; closed-door, private D.C. groups, that go by the misleadingly governmental-sounding titles of “National Governors’ Association” (NGA) and “Council of Chief State School Officers” (CCSSO).  NGA and CCSSO are private clubs–  they are nongovernmental, and not all governors nor all superintendents choose to belong to NGA/CCSSO; in fact, some U.S. governors and state superintendents avoid the NGA and CSSSO like the plague.

The power of the NGA and CCSSO over standards and education policy in many states is the prime example of education without representation.

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Way two:  Utah cannot vote for those who have authority to revise or change Common Core.  And we know that Common Core IS going to change.

Utah’s Common Core standards are under copyright by NGA/CCSSO.  Utah can’t influence who gets hired by NGA/CCSSO or what policies get created in those closed-door meetings.  Utah can’t participate in any amendment meetings when Common Core “living work” standards get altered and revised, which the copyright holders  have promised to do.   The standards state:  “The Standards are intended to be a living work. As new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.”

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Way three:  The CCSSO –significantly– has also created the Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS), in partnership with the federal department of education, to match up with the Common Core standards technologically as well as academically.  Utah promised the federal government to adhere to CEDS tracking technologies in such documents as   Utah schools’ 2009 ARRA federal grant application,  which is fully explained and linked here.  Because our federally paid-for State Longitudinal Database System is also (per federal grant requirement) interoperable with federal systems, and because our Common education standards and Common data standards match the CCSSO’s CEDS requirements, student privacy and state autonomy over data systems are also no longer in our control.  Truly, control over student data privacy is threatened via the interdependence of Common Core standards and federal Common data standards.

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Way four:  Utah’s statewide SAGE/AIR Common Core tests enforce the Common Core being taught in Utah schools and the Common data standards (CEDS) being used in Utah schools.  SAGE/AIR are Common Core-led, computer adaptive tests which are not only end-of-year but year-round formative tests, controlled and created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) with token help from a handful of appointed Utah teachers.  AIR is officially partnered with both the federal government and the SBAC (federally-funded testing consortium).  This means that the micromanagement of tests and the sharing of student level data –to which the SBAC is subject by contract— also binds AIR-partnered Utah.  Utah students must be tested on Common Core standards using SAGE/AIR tests, which are secretive in nature, written by psychometricians with a mission statement that focuses on applying behavioral and social science research, and which follow the Common Core copyrighters’ philosophies.  Test cannot be seen (because of secrecy rules) by those governed and tested and evaluated by them.

All of these controls do fetter Utah citizens to federal dictates, and each rests on the Common Core standards.

3.  The report incorrectly states that Common Core impacts only standards and not curriculum.  Because the state Common Core tests (aka SAGE tests) are not only year-end but formative (year-round) tests, they impact curriculum very much– much more than any previous statewide testing did.  Because state and federal reforms have now attached teacher evaluations and school evaluations directly to student scores on these Common Core tests, teachers must choose from an ever-narrowing spectrum of curriculum that teaches to the test more than ever before.  The SBAC testing group, which is partnered with Utah’s AIR testing group, and Microsoft (Bill Gates’ company) which is partnered with Pearson (the world’s largest education sales products company) each offer Common Core test-matched curriculum, and Utah schools and technologies are purchasing them over other products, because the board mandated that Common Core would be Utah’s Core.

Lead Common Core funder Bill Gates revealed in a speech, “Identifying common standards is just the starting point.  We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards… When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well. And it will unleash a powerful market of people providing services…  For the first time there will be a large, uniform base of customers looking at using products…”

The A.G.’s report also omits key concerns, including:

I. Copyright and control of Common Core–  The report ought to have clarified who truly controls and holds copyright over the Common Core standards and its related data standards, and who has authority to revise them.  Neither voters, nor elected representatives,  nor local teachers, nor Utah’s State school Board, but only the nonpublic D.C. group, NGA/CCSSO, controls them.)  As has been stated, there is no amendment process for our state to revise the “living work” of Common Core, by which we are now governed, although these standards will be revised by its copyrighters.

II.  The State Duty to Educate Locally – While the report is correct in saying that the federal government coerced states into adopting its definition of college and career ready standards with the hope of getting federal money, the report does not stand up and say that Utah is under a constitutional obligation to stand up for the right to educate via local dictates.  The A.G.’s report does not recommend that Utah cease being controlled by and unreasonably swayed by federal money.  It apparently accepts Utah’s seeming submiss