Archive for the ‘Evidence That Utah Lost Educational Sovereignty Under Common Core Initiative’ Category

VIDEO: Why the American People Must #STOPESEA   5 comments

I’m doing this video without any kind of practice or dress rehearsal because it has to happen fast.   My son helped me figure out how to make a YouTube channel this morning and we haven’t edited at all; we posted the first taping because we are under the gun with speed, here.  This message needs to be clear to thousands of freedom loving, phone wielding Americans– to fight for freedom with our voices this week, all week.  202-224-3121  #STOPESEA.

I am hoping that since video is more personal and friendly and, for those who hate to read, is more accessible than a written blog, that this information will spread more widely than it otherwise  might.

Call, call, call.   202-224-3121.  #STOPESEA.

ESEA is being rammed through in the dark.  The vote is in a week and there’s no access to the final bill yet.  Senator Lee is right.  This process is wrong.

Don’t let a handful of people decide for the entire elected Congress and the entire population of the US what education, testing, standards, and data privacy should be, without debate, and without reading the bill.  The political careers of those who are ramming through this anti-freedom legislation in the dark without debate are going to be over once America wakes up and figures out what they have done to us.

I sat down and wrote out what I wanted to say this blog-video.  It’s posted here, for those who don’t want to sit through twenty minutes of talking.  Sorry  that I had to read much of it rather than  making eye contact all of the time.  I just needed to get it said right.)


Happy Thanksgiving Week!

My name is Christel Swasey, and I am a teacher and a mother living in Pleasant Grove, Utah.   Today is November 24, 2015.  In less than one week a handful of secretive congressmen are expecting to pass a bill called ESEA, or the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, without our informed consent or the informed consent of our elected representatives.

The final bill has not even been released yet but the vote is in a week.  It won’t be read by turkey-gobbling Congressmen when it is released in a few days.  But they’ll be forced to vote on Tuesday, uninformed or misinformed because all they’ll read is a sheet of talking points put out by the bill’s lobbyists.  This will have a disasterous, long term effect on liberty in America.

I am asking you to help #STOPESEA by calling Congress at 202-224-3121. Tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA based on what’s slated to be in it, and maybe more importantly, based on the corrupt, un-American process of passing it without giving time to read and debate about it.

I’m a big fan of a phrase in the Declaration of Independence: THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED”.

The Declaration explains that to secure our God-given rights, we the people instituted government:  “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

So government has no just powers outside of consent by the governed, and so my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and yours, are not secure when government is operating outside the informed consent of the governed.  I am telling you that it is happening right now.

My own Senator, Mike Lee,  has been an inspiration this week as he’s spoken out about this corrupt process and explained how it’s operating.  He said that how the conference process is supposed to work is not how is has been conducted. Quote: “from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s 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 that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that 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 said, “Because process influences policy… the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work—policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.”  Then Senator Lee named a few of those bad policies, such as “the discredited common core approach” and the centrally planned, failed model of federal preschool which the bill will use $250 million to promote.  There are many more terrible policies that ESEA will cement.  I will list more later on in this video.

My own representative, Jason Chaffetz, has also been in the Congressional spotlight this week, shedding light on what the federal government, via the Dept. of Education, is doing to American privacy. I watched him in a video leading a congressional hearing on the improper practices of the Dept of Education in its student data collection and data mining programs.  The hearing revealed that the federal Dept of Education has somewhere between one and two hundred ways that it collects data about your child and mine, but the Department only admits to having three because it contracts out the rest of the systems.  As if that’s better.  The hearing revealed that the Dept of Education received negative scores across every category of data security, and Rep Chaffetz gave the Dept. an “F”—calling it “a monster, an absolute monster”.

This is the same federal Dept of Education that is pushing, through the current ESEA bill, additional methods of mining student data.

But the things that Sen. Lee and Rep. Chaffetz oppose are not the only things that the ESEA bill will foist on us.  I predict that the final version of the ESEA bill will contain many more grants to promote more “voluntary” data mining in addition to the compulsory data collection that’s already taking place;  more federal preschools, more psychological profiling of teachers, students and families inside and outside of public schools under the banner of the kindly nanny state’s data-driven decision making, more career tracking, more longitudinal citizen stalking via college student and graduate reporting, more assessments or more deeply embedded forms of stealth assessments, and a subtle undermining of parental authority, teacher creativity and student autonomy from the community-centric, workforce-focused, data-focused initiatives in this bill. (We’ll see this week, won’t we?)

A group of over two hundred grassroots organizations representing most of the states in the United States signed an open letter to Congress opposing this ESEA bill.  The letter outlines four things that are strong reasons to oppose ESEA.  I’m summarizing.  The first is–

  1. COMMON CORE – the letter calls common core “academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically manipulative and privately copyrighted Common Core Standards…” End quote.  Now, in my opinion, the talking points that will be used to promote the bill will likely say that it’s common-core free, or at least, the bill will avoid using the phrases “common core” or “common data standards”.  The bill will rely very deceptively on the fact that most people don’t know that there is an official federal definition of common core.  That other phrase that the bill WILL include, repeatedly, is: “career and college ready standards” or “career and college readiness”.  Do an internet search for the federal definition of “college and career ready”.  You’ll find that the phrase is officially defined by the federal Dept. of Education as “standards common to a significant number of states” which can only be the common core.

The second reason that the grassroots letter asks Congress to oppose ESEA is its push for:

  1. ASSESSMENTS THAT PROFILE CITIZENS – the letter calls an over-reliance on tests never independently validated, high-stakes standardized tests supervised by the federal government , tests that are psychologically profiling our children more than assessing their academic knowledge…a problem. The third reason to oppose ESEA is:
  2. SLDS – State Longitudinal Database Systems (stalking of kids by the government) and the massive increase in state and federal gathering of private family, education and psychological data … without consent. The fourth reason:
  3. CAREER TRACKING – Career tracking, which undermines self-determination by means of unconstitutional profiling…”

Some people don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for the government to centrally manage and guide (or control) citizens into different career tracks; some think that’s helpful for the individual and good for the collective economy.

But I think of a quote from my favorite Disney movie, “Prince of Egypt” where Moses says, “No kingdom should be made on the backs of slaves”. 

Since student self-determination is undermined by the dictates of the government’s workforce needs, even if it is data-driven dictatorship, and since a student’s interests won’t be judged as equally important to a student’s capabilities when the collective workforce or the government is the main determiner of what that student’s career path should be, we are creating a system for our children where they are not free.  Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that education reforms are aiming to build a global kingdom on the backs of children without their consent;  but I think, in the long run, maybe not.

The four points outlined by the grassroots organizations’ letter, in my  opinion boil, down to this:

Either you believe that parents are the God-given authority over a child, or you believe that children’s lives should be managed by the government and its “data driven decision making,” for the building up of the government’s economy– in the style of countries without freedom, like China.

Either you support the continued tracking and nonconsensual stalking of your child and family, using local schools as the data collection pawns in a federal system that tracks children and families for life,  –or you believe in freedom, self-determination and privacy.

Either you believe that individuals should control their own lives despite the risks that freedom allows, or you believe that the government should control the lives of the people, because of the risks that freedom allows.  If you are getting sucked into believing the latter, please remember this:  we the people created government. We own it;  it did not create us and it does not own us.  It cannot boss us without our consent. Anytime government does a thing without the full, informed consent of the governed, it is unjust and it is dangerous.

But government can and does get away with bossing and bullying –when we let go of our own power.  I am asking you to use your power to call and stop ESEA this week.

Because Congress isn’t being given time to read or debate the bill prior to a vote, the bill’s promoters will pass out a sheet of biased talking points for the rest of Congress to read before they vote (this is how they got the Student Success Act passed) –and these talking points will sound so good.  But they will be full of lies.

I know this because I saw the last set of talking points when they passed the house and senate versions of this monster bill.  They had things that successfully deceived almost all of our elected conservatives, such as: “this bill will reduce the federal footprint” and “this bill restores power to the states and localities”—these things weren’t true.

Rather than restoring power to the localities, the bill assigned enforcement of federal priorities to the localities.  Think about that: there’s a big difference between assigning federal priority enforcement and implementation to states, and actually restoring freedom to states.  The new bill will likely use many phrases conservatives love while it also intrudes on basic rights and institutions, for example, on private schools and home schools by offering them attractive grants or services –in exchange for student, teacher and family data.  It’s all about data—it’s all about reducing citizen privacy, because information is power.

And the bill won’t be written in clear language that is accessible to the average person.   You will have to really study it and find out what its words and phrases mean in definitions outside the bill itself, to understand what is being traded.

The bill and its talking points will likely use language to appeal to the compassionate person, but it will force the federal concept — a parent-replacing definition– of government compassion.  It will promote parent-neutralizing, nanny-state enabling concepts and programs, including increased data mining –to identify (quote) ”academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health and other needs of students, families, and community residents.”  The last bill promoted “Full Service Community Schools” and “student needs” and “wraparound services” and extended learning time that make school, not family or church, the central hub of a child’s life.

202-224-3121.  Memorize that number or put it in your speed dial.  Ask Congress to vote NO on ESEA.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the partnership of federal and corporate forces take away our authority by changing who gets to define and enforce what learning means and what will be learned –taking this authority from the parent and teacher; and reassigning it to the government;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government narrows academic freedom by dicating  a communistic, workforce-centered vision of what academic success is for;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements into federal law the common core standards.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements processes built on student-stalking common data standards and interoperable state databases that report to the federal edfacts data exchange, tracking children’s academic and psychological data, without consent;

It is wrong for you and I to allow any kind of assessments to be mandated upon us by federal forces, whether in the form of formal, standardized tests or stealthy, embedded tests that are quietly woven into the daily curriculum and assignments of students.  These tests lock us into a federal definition of what academic excellence looks like and will narrow academic creativity in classrooms that are built on one standard and one set of data tags and tests.  They certainly make things more efficient, but at the expense of a teacher’s professional judgment and her curricular liberty.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while a few members of Congress ram a bill through, mostly in the dark, without allowing any space for analysis or debate.  It is truly a dark and un-American process.

Fight for freedom with your telephone.

These freedoms, once lost, won’t come back easily: the freedom to define with our own conscience and intellect what education should look like; the freedom from invasion of privacy;  the freedom from being centrally managed and tracked without consent.  These are not small things.

I’m asking you to call 202-224-3121 and tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA.


mike lee

Even if you had time to read the final version of the new ESEA bill  which will get released days from now –which you won’t, because you’ll be eating turkey– and even if you agreed with every word (which I’m betting you won’t, because Senator Alexander’s view of ed reform is sick and wrong) –but even if you liked it– shouldn’t you, on principle, still oppose its passage, based on the devious  process being used, a pushing of  laws into their cemented form without representative debate– very fast, and mostly in the dark?

Senator Mike Lee’s fight against this now-brewing, corrupt, “new” No Child Left Behind, inspires me.  His backbone in standing up to the corruptos in Congress that are pushing ESEA is a rare treasure in politics.  Do you realize that he’s fighting for the actual freedom of our children and grandchildren?  This is real.  Listen to him. 

Senator Lee’s railed against some of the corruption; for example, its $250 million plan to hurt good preschools by pushing loser-federal preschools on all; its cementing of Common Core standards,  etc.  There’s more brewing that he hasn’t taken time to denounce yet, such as  its creepy, parent-ditching “community school” program that puts government ahead of families, churches or anyone else in influencing kids and eating up too much of kids’ time; and its cementing of common, kid-stalking data tags (CEDS) –but you can study all of that.

Lee’s big focus is on something more basic:  the dark, un-American process  by which ESEA/NCLB is about to pass into law.

(I keep calling the other members of the Utah delegation to leave messages asking them to join his fight.  Please do, too.)

This process that Senator Lee speaks of is so corrupt.

It is un-American to make Congress  vote on something so fast that it hasn’t been  vetted or understood by voters.   It is un-American to skip debate and to ditch input.  We all know that this law will weigh heavily on everyone who will be ruled by it afterward.  Shouldn’t voters have a real opportunity to look at the bill from all angles and then take the vote?

Senator Lee has pointed out that the process creates the policy.  This is how ESEA/NCLB is to be rammed down the throat of Congress (and all of us) next week.

Step one: right now, a tiny handful of pro-reauthorization members of Congress, behind closed doors, are cooking up the poison pill.

Step 2:  They’ll speed it to a vote so fast that the rest of Congress has no time to think before swallowing, no chance to offer what they are supposed to be allowed to offer:  “motions to instruct the conferees” (input).

Step 3:   They’ll market it under the banner of good-sounding lies and slanted press releases and news stories that will successfully deceive Americans (including our politicians) into believing that control has been returned to the localities.  It won’t be true.  But we’ll figure it out too late to easily reverse it.  Because nobody’s going to really read the bill before they vote yes.

The draft was released a few day ago.  The bill won’t be released until next week, the same week that the vote will be taken: December 2.

The draft bill itself, still called what Sen. Alexander named it years ago, “The Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015” will pass out of draft form into final form as a concoction, mixing  what the house passed plus what the senate passed, both of which were, to freedom lovers, pure ugly.

Now, superglued together under the supervision of those working in the dark with Senator Alexander, it will surely have even a worse blast radius than its past incarnations.

This hurried method is a sick pattern used by the Obama administration.  We saw Secretary Duncan push states with the monetary lure of “Race to the Top” millions to adopt Common Core and its tests and SLDS systems for a chance in that race.  Before that, there was the ARRA funding that was tied, among other things, to governors agreeing to get federally-approved student data collection systems and standards.

Now, the speed of ESEA will similarly  maim freedom, pushing these  controversial programs into  nation-binding law.

I’m reposting Senator Lee’s entire speech below.

After you read it, please call. This monster will affect all Americans for years to come.

Ask for any senator and representative in D.C. at 202-224-3121.  Say, “VOTE NO ON ESEA.”  Done? Thank you!!  Please call again.  Then call for your neighbor who isn’t taking the time to call.  Skip the gym or the crochet project and call some who aren’t your direct reps, too.  Leave them messages — ask them to call you to account for how they plan to vote on December 2.

Politicians need constituents’ support to get re-elected.  Tell them that this is a make or break issue; you won’t vote for them again if they vote yes on ESEA.  Your voice and vote are  leverage.



At some point today the Senate will vote on the motion to appoint conferees – or what’s often called the motion to go to conference – for a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or the ESEA, which is the legislation governing our federal K-12 education policy.

Because most Americans have probably never heard of this obscure parliamentary procedure – the motion to appoint conferees – I’d like to take a moment to explain how it works… or at least, how it’s supposed to work.

When the House and the Senate each pass separate, but similar, bills, the two chambers convene what’s called “a conference.”

A conference is essentially a meeting where delegates from each chamber come together to iron out the differences between their respective bills, and put together what’s called “a conference report” – which is a single piece of legislation that reconciles any disparities between the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill.

Once the delegates to the conference – the conferees – agree on a conference report, they bring it back to their respective chambers, to the House and to the Senate, for a final vote.

It’s important to note here that, once the conference report is sent to the House and the Senate for a final vote, there’s no opportunity to amend the legislation. It’s an up-or-down vote: each chamber can either approve or reject the conference report in its entirety.

If each chamber votes to approve the conference report, it’s then sent to the president, who can either sign it into law or veto it.

So what we’re doing today is voting on the motion to appoint conferees for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Earlier this year, both the House and the Senate passed their own ESEA reauthorizations. And now, we’re voting to proceed to the conference process and to appoint certain senators to participate in that process as conferees.

Historically, and according to the way the conference process is supposed to work, this vote is not that big of a deal. Voting on the motion to appoint conferees is usually, and mostly, a matter of routine.

But it’s not a vote that should be rushed through on a moment’s notice, because it is the last opportunity for senators and representatives who are not conferees – such as myself – to influence the outcome of the conference process.

We can do that by offering what are called “motions to instruct the conferees.”

For example, let’s say I was not chosen to be a conferee to a particular bill, but there was an issue related to the bill that was important to me and to the people I represent – in that case, I could ask the Senate to vote on a set of instructions that would be sent to the conference to inform their deliberations and influence the substance of the conference report.

Mr. President, this is how the conference process is supposed to work.

But it is not how the conference process has been conducted with respect to this bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

Sure, we’re still voting to appoint conferees.

And those conferees will still convene a conference.

And that conference will still produce a conference report.

So from the surface, it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to.

But beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been pre-arranged, pre-cooked, pre-determined… by a select few members of Congress, working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny.

And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult – if not impossible – for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.

Now, why does this matter?

We know the American people care deeply about K-12 education policy. But why should they care about this obscure parliamentary procedure in the Senate?

They should care – and Mr./Madam President, we know that they do care – because the process influences the policy.

In this case, the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work – policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.

For instance, it’s my understanding that this pre-agreement may authorize $250 million in new spending on federal pre-K programs – what amounts to a down-payment on the kind of universal, federally-run pre-K programs advocated by President Obama.

This would be a disaster not only for American children and families, but for our 21st-century economy that increasingly requires investments in human capital.

We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for upward economic mobility later in life. A mountain of recent social science research proves what experience and intuition have been teaching mankind for millennia: that a child’s first few years of life are critical in their cognitive and emotional development.

Yet we also know that too many of America’s public schools, especially those in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, fail to prepare their students to succeed.

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 Head Start, which has consistently failed to improve the lives and educational achievements of the children it ostensibly serves.

According to a 2012 study by President Obama’s own Department of Health and Human Services, whatever benefits children gain from the program disappear by the time they reach the third grade.

But because bureaucracies invariably measure success in terms of inputs, instead of outcomes, Head Start and its $8 billion annual budget is the model for Democrats as they seek to expand federal control over child care programs in communities all across the country.

This bill also doubles down on the discredited common-core approach to elementary and secondary education that the American people have roundly, and consistently, rejected.

Mr. President, parents and teachers across America are frustrated by Washington, D.C.’s heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy.

I’ve 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 children than they do.

The only way to improve our K-12 education system in America is to empower parents, educators, and local policymakers to meet the unique needs of their communities and serve the low-income families the status quo is leaving behind.

With early childhood education, we could start block granting the Head Start budget to the states.

This would allow those closest to the children and families being served to design their own programs – rather than spending all their time complying with onerous, one-size-fits-all federal mandates – and designate eligible public and private pre-schools to receive grants.

We know this works because many states are already doing it. In my home state of Utah, for instance, United Way of Salt Lake has partnered with two private financial institutions, Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker, to provide first rate early education programs to thousands of Utah children.

They call it a “pay-for-success” loan.

With no upfront cost or risk to the taxpayers, private capital is invested in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program, which is implemented and overseen by United Way.

If, as expected, the preschool program results in increased school readiness and improved academic performance, the state of Utah repays the private investors with the public funds it would have spent on remedial services that the children would have needed between kindergarten and the twelfth grade, had they not participated in the program.

Washington policymakers should not look at Utah’s pay-for-success initiatives – and other local success stories like them – as potential federal programs, but as a testament to the power of local control.

Mr. President, we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children.

The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.

Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz on Dept. of Ed Data Mining: “It has become an absolute monster”   3 comments


Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards posted the following incredibly important video of this week’s “Information Security Review” of the US Department of Education which was led by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Please watch it.

Chaffetz opens the discussion (minutes 1-9) showing slides of the US Department of Education getting an “F” in protecting student data –with negative scores across every category.  The students’ vulnerability, Rep Chaffetz says, is huge, not only students but for their parents, because of data collected, for example, in the National Student Loan Database which collects data that families fill out and submit together.

(He doesn’t mention this, but each state’s SLDS system gathers and feeds data from your child’s schoolwork to the state to the feds, too; for example, via the EdFacts Data Exchange.)

Next, Chaffetz says that the Dept. of Education is responsible for 4 billion dollars in improper payments (minute 8:30) which will be discussed in the next hearing in detail (not during this one).

After summarizing the mismanagement of funds and data, Chaffetz summarizes the gargantuan harms of the Department of Education: “It has become a monster, an absolute monster.  We don’t know who’s in there; we don’t know what they’re doing.”

Then, the hearing begins.

Listen at minute 43 to minute 47.  Those four minutes blew my mind.  The US Dept. of Education’s representative, Dr. Harris, nervously skirts having to directly answer the question, at first, of how many databases it holds.  It admits to three.  The chairman says that it has at least 123, but if you count all of the data  contractors, there are countless more.  The only way that the Dept. of Education can say it only has three is by pretending that it is not responsible for, or does not subcontract out, the service, the questioner points out.  And those high numbers of organizations collecting data for the US Dept. of Education mean a high probability that data will be compromised.

Meanwhile, most people believe that student data remains with the teacher and principal; those who do know that there’s a state/federal database believe that it’s a good thing; and they tell me  that my opposition to permitting databases to stalk our kids is baseless, that the Utah State Office of Education does not release individual students’ information and that nonconsensual student data mining could never have a down side.


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: !




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.

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



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.



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.


And now, a few closing thoughts of my own:


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.


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.


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.


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:



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

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. ( ) 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 webpage under articles.”

–From Vince Newmeyer


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:



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




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.




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.



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.



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.






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.



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