Archive for the ‘Common Core Gold Rush’ Category
Here’s a must-read, new article at Townhall.com (here) by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Why Does Your Congressman Want to Psychologically Profile Your Children?”
The article begins:
“If the GOP-led Congress had not done enough damage to public education by passing the statist Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it’s poised to make things even worse. The new threat is theStrengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). If SETRA passes in its current form, the federal government will be empowered to expand psychological profiling of our children. Parents must understand this threat so they can mobilize to stop it.”
It also states: “Section 132 of SETRA expands authorized research to include ‘research on social and emotional learning [SEL] . . . .’
“SEL is defined as ‘the process through which children . . . acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.’ SEL is all the rage in public education…”
“…SETRA would authorize the federal government to sponsor research on these social and emotional attributes. This means the government may analyze a child’s psychological makeup…”
Another important point:
“…even if there were real, measurable educational value in analyzing every child’s psyche, do members of Congress really believe government has any business doing this?… SETRA also allows the approved bureaucracy to ‘establish . . . cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining . . . data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education…‘”
The article concludes: “SETRA passed the Senate on a voice vote and now awaits action in the House. House members, take note: A vote for SETRA in its current form is a vote for psychological profiling of innocent children. It’s bad enough that so-called conservatives in Congress voted for ESSA; it will be unforgivable if they vote for SETRA.”
Read the entire article at Townhall.com.
Call US Congress at 202-224-3121 to influence your elected representatives.
Student privacy rights are improving in Utah! Utah HB 358 passed and was funded this legislative session.
This is very happy news for many who have been extremely concerned about the lack of proper privacy protections in our state and country. Although the bill does not provide any opt-out ability for any student from the State Longitudinal Database System, which we’ve been asking for, for four years straight, it it does take important steps in the right direction.
The bill imposes some important restrictions on how information collected by school/government systems about a student can be stored, shared, and used. It also makes the Utah law much more protective than federal FERPA (which, as you know, was deliberately damaged by the USDOE in 2009 so that it is not protective of student privacy as it had been when first written by Congress decades ago.)
In HB 358, line 472, the new law defines who owns the data. The student.
472 (1) (a) A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data.
(Not the “village”.)
The bill also defines three types of personally identifiable data: necessary, optional, and prohibited.
For example, under “necessary” data, the bill names:
316 (a) name;
317 (b) date of birth;
318 (c) sex;
319 (d) parent contact information;
320 (e) custodial parent information;
321 (f) contact information;
322 (g) a student identification number;
323 (h) local, state, and national assessment results or an exception from taking a local,
324 state, or national assessment;
325 (i) courses taken and completed, credits earned, and other transcript information;
326 (j) course grades and grade point average;
327 (k) grade level and expected graduation date or graduation cohort;
328 (l) degree, diploma, credential attainment, and other school exit information;
329 (m) attendance and mobility;
330 (n) drop-out data;
331 (o) immunization record or an exception from an immunization record;
332 (p) race;
333 (q) ethnicity;
334 (r) tribal affiliation;
335 (s) remediation efforts;
336 (t) an exception from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203 or
337 information collected from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203;
Under “Prohibited data” which schools and third parties may not collect, the bill name:
806 …administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric
807 examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information… concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
811 (a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of
812 the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
813 (b) mental or psychological problems;
814 (c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
815 (d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
816 (e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close
817 family relationships;
818 (f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
819 (g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with
820 lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers…
Thank you, Representative Anderegg.
Read the rest of the bill here.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.
POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-
BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL
We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.
See lines 82-85: “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84 (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85 (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”
By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes. That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education. How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise? Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid. VOTE NO.
KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH
COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL
We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to be replaced by the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.
As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out: “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge. Here’s some evidence. CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities. So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”
With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).
This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org,”V. Lowry Snow” <email@example.com>,LaVar Christensen <firstname.lastname@example.org>,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,Francis Gibson <email@example.com>,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com
Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2
Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections. I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah. Thank you very much for your attention.
February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee
Dear House Education Committee:
I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.
I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.
The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.
I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.
Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.
This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.
One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.
Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10
Early Life – 10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095
Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.earlylifepsych.com
If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last email@example.com
Rep. Lowry Snow firstname.lastname@example.org 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen email@example.com 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman firstname.lastname@example.org 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler email@example.com 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason firstname.lastname@example.org 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson email@example.com 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Eric Hutchings email@example.com
Rep. David Lifferth firstname.lastname@example.org 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay email@example.com 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel firstname.lastname@example.org 435-616-5603
Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.