Archive for the ‘How the Common Core Initiative Hurts Kids, Teachers, and Taxpayers’ Category

Opt Out Forms for Utah Kids   1 comment

It’s that time of year again:  time to print out, sign, and deliver the opt out forms that allow your child to skip the tests that don’t bless their lives.

I’m grateful that the Utah State Board of Education has posted the forms in English and Spanish, herehttps://schools.utah.gov/assessment?mid=1104&tid=1

The test is called RISE instead of SAGE now, in Utah, but it’s common core/ Fed-Ed rebranding.

Why opt out?

The whole point of school is to teach children, not to judge or micromanage them; to bless, and not to stress.  The government-centered tests are stressful and waste time and money.  They don’t enrich children.  Teachers don’t even get to see them, and neither do parents. They only enrich testing companies.  That’s a business motive, not a child-centered motive.

Several years ago, I explained more in a “Ten Reasons to Opt Out” post.  That link is here.

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/ten-reasons-to-opt-out-of-common-coresage-testing/

Utah Senate Set To Vote on HB118   1 comment

Dear Senators,
Why is there a single “yea” vote for HB118?  I really want to know.
It can’t be about funding.  Zero federal dollars are on the line if HB118 passes, or not. This was clarified by Superintendent Dickson in a recent state school board meeting. You can see it at minute 17:00-20:00 here:
 
It can’t be about improving the academic experience of a child. Not a single child in our state is benefited by the test. The SAGE/RISE  is not the type of test that a child can learn from, or that a teacher can gain insight from– no one gets to see it.  Despite not benefiting kids, HB118 will raise the test to an extremely important status since taking the test may result in parties, prizes, and easy GRADES. Less class time will be spent on education that’s not in the narrow band of tested skills. Teachers won’t be teaching as much, because they will have to teach directly to the test. That cheats students. It creates a terrible temptation for students who care about their grades, to skip new learning  and substitute test-taking. I taught high school English for many years, and required students to write MLA-formatted research papers— following having read, researched, drafted, revised, and learned to create citations and works cited pages. How can a SAGE/RISE test replace that? Students are human beings– they are not going to choose to do rigorous classwork if they can easily get a high grade for just taking a test.
It can’t be about improving the mental health of a child. Countries that raise the stakes of testing see increased youth unwellness and suicide.  Doing poorly on the high stakes test, or fearing that one might do poorly, increases test anxiety and youth depression.  This understanding alone should make our senate unanimously vote NO on HB118.
It can’t be about an honest belief that this test is a fair measure.  Last year, this legislature passed HB201 which made illegal the use of the SAGE test for grading teachers, so why now, do some in the legislature believe the test should be used to grade children?? This especially makes no sense, considering the fact that SAGE test producer AIR explained, “When you’re using a test for accountabilityyou’re not really using it to measure the kid. You’re using it to measure the school, or the teacher, or the district.” VP of AIR, Jon Cohen. See min. 3:07 at https://vimeo.com/80927107
It can’t be about accountability.  Some proponents of the bill cite “accountability” as the reason they’re voting for it. Accountability for whom?  AIR said it’s not a valid measure for a student.  HB201 said it’s not a valid measure for a teacher. Yet HB118 seeks to use SAGE/RISE to measure a student and to pass out grades based on the test. The test isn’t accountable to Utahns. Students and teachers and parents don’t get to see what questions were missed; so it is of no benefit to those for whom education exists.
  PLEASE vote no on HB118.
   Sincerely,
   Christel Swasey
Daniel Thatcher <dthatcher@le.utah.gov>,
David Hinkins <dhinkins@le.utah.gov>,
Evan Vickers <evickers@le.utah.gov>,
Jerry Stevenson <jwstevenson@le.utah.gov>,
Karen Mayne <kmayne@le.utah.gov>,
Ralph Okerlund <rokerlund@le.utah.gov>,
“amillner@le.utah.gov” <amillner@le.utah.gov>,
“dipson@le.utah.gov” <dipson@le.utah.gov>,
“dkitchen@le.utah.gov” <dkitchen@le.utah.gov>,
“jiwamoto@le.utah.gov” <jiwamoto@le.utah.gov>,
“kriebe@le.utah.gov” <kriebe@le.utah.gov>,
“rwinterton@le.utah.gov” <rwinterton@le.utah.gov>,
“ssandall@le.utah.gov” <ssandall@le.utah.gov>

Utah Schools to be Alarmingly Test-Centric under HB 118   3 comments

 

Dear Utah Senators,

Please vote no on HB118. The bill contains five big red flags.

1. The first one is a pawn-off, trading real educational experiences and fair grading, for participation in the big standardized test and an easy grade. That’s a shady trade.

See line 13: “allows at teacher to use a student’s score on certain assessments to improve a student’s academic grade”.

2. The second big red flag: equating test-taking for actual student competency toward college in a way that can allow students to never learn certain things (that aren’t on the federally aligned test).

Line 83 says that a teacher may use a student’s score on the high school test to improve the students academic grade OR to “demonstrate a student’s competency within a relevant course.”

Lines 142-145 say: “LEA shall allow a student to earn course credit toward high school graduation without completing a course in school by a) testing out of the course; or b) demonstrating competency in course standards.”

Since only 15 people in the state may view the test, most students, teachers, legislators and parents are blocked from seeing the test. How would academic competency and equality be verified? It won’t be. It’s false to say, without viewing and analyzing the two things being compared, that one thing (the standardized test) matches another (Utah-defined, teacher-defined, academic competency). Moreover, wherever Utah standards and teachers have tried to teach above and beyond Common Core standards, those differences may go away, since they can’t benefit, students taking these tests for their grades.

3. The third big red flag is the twisting of a good principle: parental accomodations for students’ best interests. The bill cites the good Utah code that “a student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role… has the right to reasonable academic accommodations”.

But it’s out of context. Test taking pressure has nothing to do with empowering parents. It is not a “reasonable academic accommodation” (regardless of whether it’s a parent’s or a teacher’s idea) to redefine what quality academics are; to trade teacher-created, meaningful and robust coursework for a passing score on a big, nationally standardized test. It simply is not reasonable.

I taught English for many years, in high schools and at Utah Valley University. I can imagine how many students would rather gamble on a big standardized test, than actually read novels, and actually write MLA-formatted essays and reports. This bill has the power to make a joke of legitimate educational expectations of teachers. Talk about dumbing down effects!

 

 

4. Fourth, there is the issue of opting out rights. Pressuring (or tempting) students and parents to quit opting out, incentivizing that temptation with the lure of an easier grade, will surely have the bill’s desired impact of reducing opt outs and will put the state in greater compliance with federal wishes– but the question is, at what cost ? Do we really want Utah to pressure and coerce people into opting in to something they have determined isn’t a valid measure of their child?

5. Fifth, the bill will alter Utah’s education culture, making it more and more test-centric. That move that has been shown in many places, outside the US and inside it, to drive up anxiety, depression, and suicide rates.

 

At what cost are we incentivizing and valuing the SAGE/RISE Common Core tests? How many students will opt in, and lose the opportunity to be held accountable for real academic experiences? How many parents and students will get into a family fight because the student wants the easier grade, but the parent does not feel right about opting in to the test?

How will watching HB 118 pass; seeing Utah bullying its own people into taking this test, then affect the federal confidence level that it can continue to enforce unconstitutional, federally-orginated change in Utah education? How many will suffer anguish due to the increasing high-stakes test pressure? How many suicides will be partially or completely resultant from the change that makes Utah increasingly test-centric in deciding how it values students?

Please vote no on HB 118.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

Utah Senators:

Wayne Harper ,
Deidre Henderson ,
kcullimore@le.utah.gov,
lfillmore@le.utah.gov,
Daniel McCay ,
Daniel Thatcher ,
Jacob Anderegg ,
dhemmert@le.utah.gov,
Keith Grover ,
Curt Bramble ,
ssandall@le.utah.gov,
amillner@le.utah.gov,
Allen Christensen ,
gbuxton@le.utah.gov,
Jerry Stevenson ,
Stuart Adams ,
Todd Weiler ,
Ralph Okerlund ,
Lyle Hillyard ,
rwinterton@le.utah.gov,
David Hinkins ,
Evan Vickers ,
dipson@le.utah.gov

 – – – – – – –

This week, KUTV produced a short t.v. article about HB 118.  I happened to be interviewed as a mom in favor of retaining the right to opt out of the high stakes tests.  Here is that link.

https://kutv.com/news/local/90-million-in-federal-money-for-utah-schools-at-risk-from-standardized-test-opt-out-rates

 – – – – – – –

The title of KUTV’s article is false.  There is no risk of a 90 million dollar loss in funding if we don’t pass HB 118.

 

Alisa Ellis, a state school board representative, showed that the notion is false, and that Utah is at no risk of losing federal funding.  She wrote:

 

HB118 is sweeping through the legislative session based on a false premise.

There is a growing misconception that we need to incentivize students to take the end of year tests or we are at risk of losing federal $$. This is completely false.

Please take a moment and watch our board meeting from last October.

https://youtu.be/nSdQ0jkhiqc

It would be well worth your time to watch the entire segment but if you don’t have time here are a couple of places that are critical.

Beginning at 6:25-

As our opt-out rate increases above the 95% participation threshold, the federal government requires that we change our calculation. In our board meeting the Superintendent estimates about 5 schools would be affected in the state.

We would look at the lowest 5% performing schools in the state and then the change in calculation would only occur if any of those schools had more than 5% opt out.

It’s also important to note that we aren’t even required to send the calculations to the Federal government. We simply have to run a report and post it for public consumption.

Beginning at 17:50 –

I asked if our opt out numbers continue to climb if we are at risk for losing federal $$$. The answer was no.

Please reach out to the Senate Education committee and ask them to vote no on HB118.

Senator Henderson – dhenderson@le.utah.gov
Senator Davis – gdavis@le.utah.gov
Senator Fillmore – lfillmore@le.utah.gov
Senator Grover – keithgrover@le.utah.gov
Senator Hillyard – lhillyard@le.utah.gov
Senator Millner – amillner@le.utah.gov
Senator Reibe – kriebe@le.utah.gov
Senator Stevenson – jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

#UTPOL #NOHB118 

Privacy-Crushing FEPA Bill #HR4174: 10 Nitty Gritty Facts You Missed #VETO !   1 comment

 

History itself must be holding its breath to see what happens next.  H.R. 4174, Foundations of Evidence-Based Policy, a bad bill for liberty and privacy, awaits President Trump’s signature –or his veto.

I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not a data expert.  I’m pretty good with reading, though.

In reading, I noticed:

  1. The bill creates an inventory of citizens, their land, and their money. It includes indentifiable info (pii).
  2. It is actively hostile toward, and seeks to alter, policies and laws that uphold privacy rights.
  3. The bill allows the federal government to collect, archive and share personally identifiable information.
  4. The bill authorizes government to break confidentiality pledges and punish citizens based on the perceived accuracy of data citizens submit.
  5. The bill actively seeks to “convert” databases that don’t match its machine-interoperability standards. 
  6. An agent who shared/sold sensitive information from these databases might receive zero punishment.
  7. The bill forces agencies and instrumentalities to share data with other agencies.
  8. The bill empowers the Deep State, not allowing elections for data heads. Bureaucratic appointees only. 
  9. The bill authorizes federal agents to use private organizations and individuals to mine data.
  10. The bill replaces informed consent with (pointless) informed public comment.

Below this video is a detailed, language-focused, page-specific, quote-laden excavation of the bill.  It is more detailed than the video.

 

 

 

  • FACT #1: The bill creates an inventory of citizens, their land, and their money.  

The new, federal “comprehensive data inventory” will feed into a “federal data catalog” and it’s “statistical” data includes the whole, or relevant groups, or components within, the economy, society, or the natural environment” (page 17).  What else IS there on earth, that isn’t covered under people, money, and nature itself?

An interesting spot to detect this in action is on page 19, where an exception is granted to the Energy Information Administration:  “Data or information acquired by the Energy Information Administration under a pledge of confidentiality…shall not be disclosed in identifiable form” –meaning, obviously, that data acquired by agencies other than EIA –even under a pledge of confidentiality– CAN be disclosed in identifiable form!

  • FACT #2:  It is actively hostile to laws that uphold individual or local privacy rights.

The bill does not clearly forbid ANY type of data sharing, nor does it forbid anyone from at least requesting sensitive data access– and the bill treats privacy statues or policies as obstacles.

See page 2: “evidence-building plan… shall contain… a list of any challenges to developing evidence… including any statutory or other restrictions“. See page 22: “… Statutory constraints limit the ability of these agencies to share data...”  So state privacy laws are limiting the federal ability to share data?  This reminds me of The Princess Bride movie. It’s Prince Humperdink (this bill) trying to steal Princess Buttercup (students’ data) from Vizzini (state SLDS databases) “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen.”

And (not in the bill, but in the bill’s fact sheet and in the CEP’s report to Congress) we learn, shockingly, that the CEP views America’s privacy-protecting “student unit record” ban as “one potential ban that Congress may want to revisit“.

In the bill, neither the term nor the concept of “privacy rights” is ever mentioned.  Agencies are advised that the motivation for letting the public think agencies honor “pledges of  confidentiality” is that not doing so will affect data quality: “Declining trust of the public in the protection of information provided under a pledge of confidentiality… adversely affects both the accuracy and completeness of statistical analyses.”

 

  • FACT #3:  The bill allows the federal government to collect and archive and share personally identifiable information.

The bill redefines many terms so that the words don’t really work the way you might think that word would work.  This reminds me of The Princess Bride, too.

The bill doesn’t overtly lie, so much as it assumes you don’t know what it’s talking about, or that you won’t notice its fancy footwork.

The bill defines a “nonstatistical purpose” as “affecting the rights, privileges or benefits of a particular identifiable respondent“.  In contrast, the bill defines “statistical purpose” as “analysis…without identifying the individuals”.   However it’s not actually a contrast: in addition to “statistical purpose” it also defines “statistical ACTIVITIES” –as “components within the economy, society or the natural environment”. Notice that since statistical activities can be a “component within” society, it can be information about one person. which sure sounds like individuals are included. So both nonstatistical purposes and statistical activities in this bill do include personal information.

Also, the bill defines “evidence” as:“information produced as a result of statistical activities conducted for a statistical purpose.”  Note that the word “information” is adjective-free.  It didn’t say that evidence is only aggregated data, statistical-purposed data.  It’s anything-goes, collected information, collected while aiming to find statistical-purpose data.  So if, in the process of developing methods or resources (or anything, anything– they also mention sampling frames and models and other activities)  the researcher or bureaucrat happen sto stumble upon some unrelated information, well, that’s evidence. Evidence is any information gotten as a result of activities about “components” within society, or the economy, or nature.

  • FACT #4:  The bill authorizes the government to punish citizens based on the accuracy level of the data they submit.

The bill reveals that its agents plan to break confidentiality when citizens or organizations are accused of submitting false information (whatever that really means).  Such citizens will be punished in two ways: first, government pledges of confidentiality will be broken and the person or organization’s identifiable information will be used; second, the person or organization will be prosecuted by law enforcement. Page 20 says, “information collected…under a pledge of confidentiality may be provided…to a law enforcement agency for the prosecution of submissions… of false statistical information under statutes that authorize criminal penalties or civil penalties”. 

Who gets to define “false”?  Who will determine whether the information was really false?  Who ensures that information was really submitted by the very person being punished?  How does the government return confidentiality to the person if the accusation proves to be mistaken?

  • FACT #5: The bill actively seeks to “convert” databases that don’t match its machine-interoperability standards. 

Under “Guidance to make data open by default” (page 7)  Agencies are advised to convert data that are not machine-readable:  “ensure that any public data asset of the agency is machine-readable“.  Everything is to flow interoperably toward the three main designated agencies:  The Bureau of the Census, The Bureau of Labor, and The Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Those three form the new federal database.  (P.S. The Labor and Education Departments are poised to merge.)

It’s interesting to note that in the case of public education, states gullibly accepted the millions of “free”  federal grant dollars for their databases  when common data standards and common core came knocking.  Interoperability mandates of fed-paid, state databases set us up for this bad moment, when easily, the feds can now take what states should never have collected/shared beyond the walls of the school itself. That money came conditionally: the grant language said that state databases had to be nationally interoperable.  Agencies other than state school systems that don’t already have matching data standards will see this bill’s implementers try to convert them. (Don’t do it.)

  • FACT #6:  An agent who shared or sold sensitive information from these databases might receive zero punishment.

There is a little loophole under “Fines and Penalties”.  A person who deliberately shares or sells information could either get a punishment, or NO punishment.  On page 21, it says that an agent or employee who “willfully discloses the information in any manner to a person or agency not entitled to receive it, shall be guilty of a class E felony and imprisoned for NOT MORE THAN 5 years, or fined NOT MORE THAN $250,000, or both.”

Not more than five years could mean one day, or no days.  Not more than $250,000 could mean a penny, or nothing at all.   

  • FACT #7:  The bill forces agencies and instrumentalities to share data with other agencies.

Page 26 says, “Presumption of accessibility for statistical agencies and units:  …the head of an agency shall… make any data asset maintained by the agency available upon request to any statistical agency or unit“.  (P.S. “unit” is one, as in one department or one person.)

And when privacy is spoken of, it’s in suggestion-mode:  that agencies  “take into account” the “risks and restrictions related to the disclosure of personally identifiable information” and “take into account” any “security considerations“.  There’s a stark contrast from the bill’s forceful “shall” language concerning data mining.  “Shall” is used 116 times in the 29 page bill, but never regarding the protection of privacy rights.   Instead of what should have been written– something like “agencies shall not disclose personally identifiable information” the bill’s creators just asks agents to “take into account risks and restrictions“.  That’s a toothless and blind defense.  Over and over the bill gives “shall” mandates about data inventory like the one on page 10, which says that every agency head “shall to the maximum extent practicable, develop and maintain a comprehensive data inventory”.

  • FACT #8  The bill empowers the Deep State.  It weakens representation– our Constitutional right to representative governance.

The bill mandates that the top dogs in every one of the innumerable agencies must be be appointed  (page 3)  from among agencies’ “existing employees” (page 29) –meaning Deep State loyal bureaucrats, untouchable by any vote.  Additional authorized agents are defined as anyone with a pulse: consultants, contractors, employees of contractors, even self-employed researchers (page 16).

Because the bill redefines the word “agency” to mean “executive agency” –which means it includes not only the long list of household-knowledge executive agencies (like Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, etc.) but also all the departments and all instrumentalities of each federal agency– the bill uses and empowers the deep, unelected bureaucracy known as the “Deep State”.

  • FACT #9:  The bill authorizes the federal agents to use private organizations and individuals to help mine data.

On page 5, agencies are told to work on “interagency and private sector coordination”.  On page 9, the bill asks agents to “engage the public and calls for “hosting challenges, competitions, events or other initiatives designed to create additional value from public data assets”.

  • FACT #10:  The bill replaces informed consent with (pointless) informed public comment.

On page 24, it says: “Whenever a written agreement concerns data that respondents were required by law to report and the respondents were not informed that the data could be shared... the terms of such agreement shall be described in a public notice… a minimum of 60 days for public comment.”  Notice that there is no consequence or change that can happen due to the public comment; no mention of the data after comment time NOT being shared.

Now, let’s just reason together about this bill, and its facts.

The title is its own clue:  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking.  The bill is a punch in the gut to privacy and representative governance.  Evidence holders (bureaucrat councils) become the new policymakers. Where does evidence-based policymaking put power?  In the hands of whoever holds the evidence– not with We, the People.  Think about it:  policymaking will be done by those who hold the evidence, not by those from whom evidence has been collected.  Citizens are demoted to being data, and decisions will be made by those unelected policymakers who frame and interpret that data.  And this is a foundational bill;  more of the same is coming.

Do the “algebra” inside the bill.  (You have to solve for X, excavating definitions and then inserting them where the word surfaces).  Doing so shows the word-gaming going on to hide the power grab of this bill, with power going away from individuals and into the hands of a huge new system, not managed by the elected representatives.

If you’ve skimmed the bill, you might be thinking:  “The bill does include one privacy officer in the 23 officer federal board that will run the nationwide system, and it does mention privacy and confidentiality.”

Friends, it’s a game of words.

Only a fool would believe lip service about privacy that tinsels a bill, while it mandates so much authority and access to data for agents and agencies.  Please remember three things:

  • There is information that MUST stay secret, for reasons of national security and for individual Constitutional privacy rights.
  • If this bill were legitimate, such information would not only be clearly forbidden from being shared, but also nobody would be given power to share that information, ever.
  • This bill does not clearly forbid sharing of identifiable information, and, for certain agencies and agents, power exists to share it.

A person cannot serve opposing masters (Matthew 6:24) and a bill’s purposes cannot be traveling in two opposite directions at the same time.  This bill wants you to believe that a bird can simultaneously fly north and south.  While the “pledge of confidentiality” words pull one way, the data-sucking mandates of the bill pull the other way. The data-sharing “shall” mandates in this bill prevail, especially since the privacy-mentioning lines are weak and loop-hole-y.

The bill is grievous– indefensible.  The bill’s promoters are (whether they know it or not) real enemies to liberty. They (the CEP) deliberately  hid the truth from the public about this bill, and have done so for two years.   

They are obsessed with gathering data –at any cost.

The obsession may stem from sincere intentions about how data collecting might help society, but look at the cost.  It’s federal creation of a system (using pre-existing local databases) to create one river of citizens’ data– all mined by mandate, without informed consent of the individuals being data-mined.  We, the People under this bill’s full implementation will soon become prisoners of intimidation, cowering under lockstep policymaking, instead of directing our own government.

Data is not the enemy.  Data can be used for good or ill.  But individual rights will always matter more than efficiency.

As Jane Robbins pointed out to Congress:  “The problem arises when the subjects of the research and analysis are human beings [with rights!]  … The analyses contemplated by the commission go further than merely sharing discrete data points… they involve creating new information about individuals via matching data, drawing conclusions, and making predictions about those individuals, so in essence, the government would have information about a citizen even he or she doesn’t have.

Last year, I called Trey Gowdy’s office and talked with a staffer there, trying to understand why this patriot would promote the FEPA bill.  The staffer said that because veterans are suffering, due to corruption in their hospital systems and other systems, Trey Gowdy wanted to support them with more accountability by federal agencies to Congress.  The problem with this angle is that Congress is just one more entity that has to request access to all this federal data.  Creating this huge data mining system is not going to solve all the problems of corruption and mismanagement, and in the process of trying, it will harm liberty and privacy, or set up a system that can do so!

The moment is now.  What happens next?

If President Trump vetoes this bill, he sides with America’s right to privacy, as he promised he would on the campaign trail.  If he signs the bill into law, he sides with Big Control Via Big Data, as the Chinese government does.

Is that decision really clear to him?

Dear President, and Dear Congress, please take a second look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to President Trump —#VETOHR4174   5 comments

 

Dear President Trump, 

There’s danger in the “Evidence Based Policy” bill that the majority of Congress just passed— oddly without any hearing or any debate— which you now will either sign into law or veto. I’m praying you’ll veto; praying you’ll remember your campaign promise in New Hampshire to protect privacy rights. You said, responding to Ann Marie Banfield, “Close the loopholes… you gotta have privacy, you gotta have privacy.” The American soul agrees with your statement.

But HR4174 dramatically alters and harms privacy rights for Americans. The bill’s fact sheet should be called a deceit sheet instead; it says that no new federal database will be created, but fails to mention that by linking all federal and state agencies, by mandating tech interoperability and by making no proper protections for personally identifiable information, no provision for informed consent of pii being shared between agencies, this bill sets up a system using databases already in existence that’s as real as the new federal database that the fact sheet promises isn’t being made. 

I’ve followed the public meetings of the commission that created this bill, the Commission for Evidence-based Policy (CEP). Buried inside lengthy, incredibly boring hours of audio, were some very important revelations about the purposes and goals of the CEP, and of this bill. For example, when one attendee asked CEP leadership whether linking pii (personal individual data) between agencies such as the Social Security Agency, Census office, etc., might alarm privacy minded Americans, the response was that this initiative must move patiently, and not “rip off the band-aid” from the American people. In other words, CEP leadership was potently aware that this initiative was extreme and shocking, or could be.

As Dr. Karen Effrem pointed out, a government that has access to virtually unlimited, personal data about its citizens, collected by thousands institutions— and private businesses, too— has an intimidating effect on its freeborn citizens, even if it never uses the information against them. 

As privacy expert Barmak Nassirian said of this type of legislation:

“Tracking autonomous free individuals through most of their lives in the name of better information for the benefit of others may be justifiable, but its extremism should at the very least be acknowledged and addressed.”

The bill’s fact sheet neither acknowledges nor addresses its extreme disfiguring effect on American future privacy. 

Why not? It’s the same reason that the bill was passed during the Christmas break, under the radar, without the light of debate or any hearing, the very reason CEP leadership said they mustn’t “rip off the bandaid” obviously.

The bill is sooo very long— of course— and written in a deliberately uninteresting way; unnecessary lengthiness and wordiness discourage anyone from reading or understanding it. Its deceptive and Swiss Cheese holed fact sheet, as well as its (unenforceable) lip service to privacy rights, has further confused congressional reps. 

It’s not confusing to the CEP, which created the bill. Its goals have been crystal clear from day one. In its public meetings, CEP openly and repeatedly stated that research and data collection were of vital, almost worshipful, import. 

Nothing else, not state laws, not agency policy, not even (consent of the governed) individual privacy rights—- nothing must be permitted to block the collection of data for research and evidence building, said CEP.

But I ask you, President Trump, is the value of voluminous data, even for the noblest of causes, higher than the value of liberty?

Privacy really matters —much more than we happy Americans often realize. I think about communist countries such as China, where privacy rights are gone. There, citizens are tracked and are given behavior modification reward or penalty points that impact their lives. If a citizen exercises free speech, criticizing the government, and loses points, that citizen may no longer have simple rights, like the simple right to ride the public bus. How would the Chinese government know that an individual criticized the government, and alert the bus system, without inter-agency linking such as HR4174 creates? It would not have been possible. 

Now, in China, they could be collecting evidence for noble causes, too: the bank robber or rapist might be excluded from the bus along with the disgruntled freedom lover. There are always two sides to every coin. 

Remember the recent IRS scandal when businesses who used terms like “patriotic” were targeted by the agency’s list called “BOLO” (Be On Look Out). They were horribly dominated and harassed by corrupt power holders at IRS. 

How would similar harassments roll out under HR 4174, with increased access by “researchers” using inter-agency databases containing personal information on individuals and children— including, for example, religious, gender, political or financial standing? 

Which side of this coin are you on? Is it efficiency and big data access, Big Brother style? Or is it individual rights and unhack-able, local control? 

The question isn’t whether federal evidence building will end up mostly helping, or unintentionally hurting, the people it is written to govern. A more essential question is, does Washington have the right to access and grant others’ access to collected evidence on me or you— without informed consent by the individual?

I say, no!

Please, please veto.

#VETOHR4174

Christel Swasey

Plead for President Trump to Veto HR 4174   5 comments

Even though Americans cannot call the White House today (the answering machine says it’s due to the shutdown) we can tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump —or send an email. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for easy contact links).

Please alert (plead with) President Trump to veto this already passed bill, HR 4174, that Congress passed WITHOUT a hearing, so stealthily, during the Christmas break when supposedly none of us are paying attention.

—Except that some are!  Like the barking dogs who sent the alarm down the valley to alert others that Cruella DeVil was doing her evil, please join us and be a barking dog today.

If President Trump gets this message, he can veto.

Word of mouth, person to person, tends to be stronger than marketing initiatives.

Even if Trump doesn’t veto in time, Americans need to become aware quickly about what this bill will do. So bark!

HR 4174 doesn’t promote informed consent by individuals for agencies taking personally identifiable information for “sharing.” It promotes data sharing across federal agencies and between state and federal entities. HR 4174 will not make America great again! It will make America more like communist China, less like the America of liberty and justice for all, because its whole point is to collect EVIDENCE on you and me, and to create evidence-based policies, based on one-size-fits-all, federal moral values.

Do you want to give your own and your child’s and your neighbor’s privacy away —to public-private research partnerships, whom you never elected and cannot fire?  Do you want all agencies to alter their databases to make them all interoperable and therefore much more in danger of huge scale hacking?!

This bill comes from the CEP (Commission for Evidence Based Policy) which formed thanks to Patty Murray, Paul Ryan and Obama a few years ago with a mission to consolidate ALL data of ALL Americans from ALL sources into one “central clearinghouse”.

Now, the fact sheet on the bill denies that it’s creating a new, central, federal data repository.  This is on the surface of the words, true.  But linking thousands of federal and state agencies’ data interoperably IS creating a new system that actually operates as a new federal repository— of data not given by individual informed consent. That’s flat out theft— especially in the context of the CEP’s history and stated goals (such as getting rid of protective student unit record bans).

The title of the commission, and of this bill, sounds innocuous. Evidence based policy making.  But even back when the CEP was first organized, even though it came in part from Republican Paul Ryan, I was in full panic mode, and wrote about CEP’s goals and meetings, a lot. Search this blog.

Now the CEP’s privacy dismissing plot is to become US law (unless we see a veto from President Trump).

People won’t be able to ignore its effects.

When ALL data from ALL sources gets combined (for research purposes only, they promise us) into the de facto central clearinghouse, freedom can quickly go away.

The CEP wants access for officials and researchers to ALL DATA.  This is not anonymous data, but Pii (Personally Identifiable Information) on children and adults from everywhere—every US school, every test and tech based report or assignment, data from every document held by public private partnerships including preschools, hospitals, foster families, the social security department, criminal justice departments, both state and federal; the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, the EPA, the TSA, student loans, colleges, universities, including private corporations in public private partnerships, and much much more. When personal data is accessible to a “researcher” or bureaucrat, whether a legitimate policy maker or a nefarious hack, without YOUR informed consent, that’s very, very, exceptionally bad news.

Without revisiting too many historical CEP conference details —you can read those by searching CEP on this blog— just let me share one telling fact that has always stuck out in my mind…

(And yes, this is an appropriate time to be freaking out and taking action)—

This I can not forget:

One of the top dogs at the CEP said— during one of the endless, hours-long conferences that CEP held— that the CEP mustn’t  act too FAST in its research-based enthusiasm to take over Americans’ data. That, he said, would be “RIPPING OFF the band-aid” (of privacy)  from the American people. (Too obvious! Someone might notice.)

Well, some of us do notice.  President Trump, please notice!

Veto. Veto. Veto.

 

——

 

Here’s Dr. Effrem’s article for more information:

https://townhall.com/columnists/kareneffrem/2018/12/28/lameduck-congress-plays-grinch-to-citizens-by-passing-antiprivacy-database-bill-n2538151

 

ACTION:

Please tweet @POTUS @WhiteHouse @RealDonaldTrump to ask Pres. Trump to veto this bill.
The switchboard is not taking calls, but you can call your local congressional representative in-state, and send an email to Trump at www.whitehouse.gov/contact.
Please also send an email to Rep. Hice thanking him for his wisdom and courage in voting no. https://hice.house.gov/contact/

 


 

Will School Board Illegally Reward Opt-Ins & Lure Kids Who Opt Out of Tests?   Leave a comment

November 1, 2018

After tonight’s public hearing of the school board in Salt Lake City,  I spoke with the state school board’s lawyer, and he promised to review the document, below.  I told him it will show him  that the new rule (which the hearing protested) is illegal, along with being harmful to a child’s education.   I will keep you posted…

 

October 30, 2018

Dear State School Board,

As a mother with children in elementary and high schools; as an experienced, licensed teacher currently serving as a special needs aide in a public school; and on behalf of members of United States Parents Involved in Education, I request that rule R277-404-6c be stricken from Utah’s rules.  The rule states: “an LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to allow a student’s demonstration of proficiency on a state required assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course.

 

Thoughtful reading reveals that the rule assumes for the state unprecedented authority to begin to use “a state required assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course”.

 

There can be no “reasonable accommodation” for violation of law, nor for manipulative education policy. The new rule attempts to legitimize an illegitimate thing;  to let the state (or school) tempt students to barter away legitimate course work in exchange for participation in the state’s exercise titled the SAGE/RISE assessment.

 

That barter is an unheard-of deviation from good education.  Never before have K-12 standardized test scores been used for exchange, in trade for legitimate education.  The schools will “pay” students by releasing them from some course work and will determine– at least partially if not maximally–  a student’s grade in a class if he or she engages in the SAGE/RISE exercise.

 

It’s bad education policy, but it also violates laws.

 

Under Utah law, a school “may not reward a student for taking an assessment” (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter6/53G-6-S803.html).  It simply may not.  Is this rule’s offering not a reward to students? The rule tantalizes students with the lure of easy grades– especially if schools weigh the SAGE/RISE  as a large portion of course fulfillment. Meanwhile, students who opt out of the tests may face increasingly difficult class work, if schools try to strong-arm them to take SAGE/RISE, which some schools will, faced with the threat of opt outs lowering the school’s’ test-based school-grade.

 

Under Utah law, a school “shall consider multiple academic data points when determining an accommodation”. (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter6/53G-6-S803.html).  Even though this rule exalts SAGE/RISE, setting a parturient exchange rate that equates strenuous coursework with government-test taking; still,  the SAGE/RISE is what it was designed to be– an attempt to measure schools, not students. It never claimed to be a replacement for individuals’ learning experiences. The test’s maker, American Institutes for Research, declared that “When you are using a test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid.  You are using it to measure the school, or the teacher, or the district” (VP Jon Cohen, min. 3:07). https://vimeo.com/80927107   A SAGE/RISE score is thus not a valid academic data point to consider when determining student accommodations.

 

Moreover, in  a law called “Parental right to academic accommodations” (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53G/Chapter6/53G-6-S803.html) we learn that  “Each accommodation shall be considered on an individual basis and no student shall be considered to a greater or lesser degree than any other student”.  In contrast to that law, the new rule elevates “reasonable accommodations” only for some:  those who opt in.  Opting out is protected and cannot be punished. –But this rule will end up punishing vulnerable populations, including those with mental, academic or emotional disabilities, as well as minorities, who statistically suffer most from high stakes testing.  They cannot legally or ethically be coerced to opt in;  they will not have equal opportunity under the new rule. This is significant.

Utah law holds opting out as an important freedom: “upon written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse the student from taking a test that is administered statewide”  –and the state is to remain in a “supportive role to the guardian”. Utah law requires the state to be in a supportive role, secondary to the guardian. Neither the state nor the school can usurp the authority of parental, educational best  judgment. Tempting students to manipulate their parents into opting them in to tests, either for easy educational rewards or other reasons, is usurping. (How is it supportive to guardians for the state to create this scenario: “Dad, Mom, I don’t have time to write my research paper; I don’t want to read this literature for the final; the state/school says I can skip requirements if I take the SAGE/RISE test –so sign this accommodation note”?)

 

In addition to breaking the letter and spirit of Utah’s laws, the new rule lacks wisdom, integrity and common sense. It belittles the teaching profession, it ignores the impossibility of verifying its “exchange rate”; it ignores the lack of SAGE/RISE test validity approval; it disregards the voice of the people and responds to moneyed lobbies; and it is not well-intentioned toward children..

 

Consider:

 

  1. The rule denigrates the judgment and value of a teacher.  A teacher’s work is teaching, including customizing projects and finals and reports for students.  Why is that life-work to be dismissed with a cheap trade for a SAGE/RISE score?

  2. Evaluation is impossible, of the alignment between a course requirement and the SAGE/RISE. Teachers are never permitted to preview SAGE/RISE tests– nor read them after they are given– and that “confidentiality” means that equating (or trading) that test –for anything– is meaningless.

  3. Few, if any, tests would be worthy to replace high-quality course requirements, but in the case of SAGE/RISE, there is an abyss of foundational abyss. SAGE, used by both Florida and Utah, went under serious scrutiny –after Utah was already using it– when Florida commissioned two independent companies to verify its validity.  (This may have happened, in part, because a famous Utahn offered $100,000 to the State Office of Education if it would produce evidence that the SAGE test had been tested for validity. The State Office could produce nothing.) Then Florida, using Utah students’ scores as its guinea-pig study of SAGE validity, found pages and pages of egregious problems (see page 172-177).  The independent verifiers admitted that SAGE demonstrated “notable exceptions” to the use of “best practices”. See the full report of SAGE’s defects here:  https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/FSA_Final_Report_08312015.pdf   In light of that report, does it make sense to use this test (or RISE, which is not materially different) as real currency in a trade against educational experience and work?

  4. The rule disregards the voice of the people, who have written laws to protect the right to opt out.  The rule responds instead to unelected agents and moneyed lobby groups which aim to increase Utah’s opt-in rate. The USBA lobby’s stated priority for political lobbying this year is quashing the rights of students and parents to opt out of SAGE/RISE, saying:  “students… should participate in state created end-of-year assessments, and educators should be allowed to encourage and motivate students to do their best on the state exams.”   http://usba.cc/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/JLCPriorities.pdf   Interestingly, this board gets pressure, but no financial reward, from the federal government for increased opt-in rates.  It also gets pressure from USBA to promote increased opt-in rates. But this board (and USBA) might remember that state law prohibits schools or educators from bribing (“encouraging and motivating”) students to take the SAGE/RISE tests.  It is nothing but selfish for adults to bribe students –for the benefit of adults’ interests (school grading, school funding, etc.)

 

Rather than complying with USBA pressures, this board should prioritize truly child-centric, parent-and teacher-supportive, honest education.  Let’s not enshrine the manipulation of children through acceptance of this  rule.  Let’s not become the school bullies that our state laws so firmly stand against.  Let’s strike R277-404-6c from the books.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

Utah Advisory Board Member

United States Parents Involved in Education

 

 

 

 

Show-Up Time: UT Public Hearing on Thursday– Concerning Test Opt-outs v. Course Requirements   2 comments

Your presence is requested at a special hearing this Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 5:00 to 6:30, in the Board Room at the State Office of Education, 250 E. 500 S., Salt Lake City.

Written comments may be submitted before close of business on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, here:  rule.comments@schools.utah.gov

If you wish to make public comment at the hearing, in person, that request must be made before the close of business on Wednesday, Oct. 31, to lorraine.austin@schools.utah.gov

This special hearing is in response to three parent-teacher groups’s requests:

  • United States Parents Involved in Education
  • Return to Parental Rights
  • United Women’s Forum, Salt Lake County Chapter

Each of these groups will be speaking for ten minutes at the hearing.  Other parties will be permitted to speak as time allows, with priority given to those who make the request by email on the previous day (see above).

In September, Utah’s executive branch published the “Utah State Bulletin” which contains many new rules on a host of subjects.  Rule No. 43183, beginning on page 14, called R-277-404, is titled “Requirements for Assessments of Student Achievement”.

Under 6(c) the new language states that a school (aka LEA) “shall reasonably accomodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to allow a student’s demonstration of proficiency on a state required assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course.”

This language needs to be stricken from the rules.  The language subtly, yet dramatically elevates the status of the SAGE/RISE/Common Core tests, without merit, without valid reason, and with unethical, damaging future effects.

Prior to the new rule, SAGE/RISE was something from which many parents and students could, and did, opt out–  for a host of reasons.  (See Top Ten Reasons to Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE testing.  See also  The National Center for Fair and Open Testing.   In a nutshell, SAGE/RISE/CommonCore tests are: locally and nationally controversial, even teacher and parent-disapprovedCommon Core-based, dangerously flaweddid I mention controversial, secretive, unvalidated; even mining students’ non-academic data.).

Now, unless this rule’s language is stricken from the rules, here’s the new opt out scenario:  any requirement in a course could potentially be skipped, if a school decides to allow a SAGE/RISE/CommonCore test score to replace it, with parental approval.  So, the student who used to be opted out of the government test by his or her parent, will now be strongly tempted to persuade his or her parent to opt in.  “I don’t have time/don’t want to write my final paper.  I didn’t have time/don’t want to read the literature;  the school says I can skip this requirement if I take the SAGE/RISE/CommonCore test and if you sign this form.”  This may drive a wedge between a student and parent.  It can create a wedge between a student and hard course requirements.  It can damage a teacher’s professional judgment and his or her course-designing value.

If SAGE/RISE/CommonCore tests weren’t controversial, if they weren’t secretive, so that a teacher could actually correlate a course with this test, to see if it actually measured the thing that the new rule language implies that this test can adequately replace, that might almost make sense.

But the tests remain controversial, and they are secretive, and they cannot be correlated with the course offerings of any given class by virtue of that secrecy.

I taught high school English and English at UVU, for a combined total of about 9 years.  (I have also taught third grade.)  As an English teacher, I imagine how this rule would play out.  Think about it.

Good teachers tend to assign challenging, classic literature to be read, and challenging essays and reports to be written.  Often, final exams and writing assignments feel like burdens to students, but they are, in fact, blessings.  (How else will students know how to research, draft, write and edit a well-referenced, fully cited, MLA-formatted paper at the end of the class? Not from a government screen-based test.)  And would any student need to really know the literature to pass a government/CommonCore test?  No.  A student can just read little snippets on the test and bubble in the multiple-guess responses.

Students will not grow from burdens they can skip.  Do we really want to put into state law the option to “get your parents to request that the government test will fulfill the essay writing/literature final/ other requirement of the class” ?

The executive for Utah’s SAGE test (AIR VP Jon Cohen) stated that “when you’re using a test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid, you are using it to measure the school, or the teacher, or the district.” 3:07 in the video clip:

 

 

Please consider making time in your day to show up, or at least to send in written comment on this issue.

Rule 277-404 6c might seem like small, barely significant language, but its effects may prove to be huge.  Besides seeming seriously unethical, implicitly encouraging students to beg their way into an opt-in to Common Core-aligned testing, the effects may be very long-lasting and damaging to an individual child’s education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

USBA Joins USDOE in Trying to Take Away Families’ Freedom to #OPTOUT: Common Core RISE same as Common Core SAGE   8 comments

Educational freedom needs defending.  Children need defending.  Parental rights need defending.

As its new legislative priority, the USBA lobby has set this bullying doozy:  forcing all students to take the Common Core tests and getting rid of the parental legal power to opt a child out of taking the tests, for any reason.

The Lehi Free Press reported that USBA passed a motion: “…every student that receives the benefit of state-funded education should participate in state created end-of-year assessments…”  While students are taught not to bully others,  the state may set the example of bullying both students and parents with this new priority.

Meanwhile, the state is also trying to convince parents and teachers that the much-hated Common Core SAGE tests are gone, so we should have no reason to opt out; trust the new Common Core RISE tests, they say.

This USOE video promoting Utah’s new, Common Core RISE test, which will replace Utah’s Common Core SAGE test for most grades, can do nothing to appease unhappy parents and teachers, because RISE is so similar to SAGE.  The film praises the things it shared in common with the SAGE test.  And that is like praising the rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Watching the promo film, I felt sad as lovely teachers, with beautiful things to say, each avoided speaking directly about the dark issues of the Common Core tests. The  issues with SAGE testing that caused about 10% of all Utah parents to opt their children out of the tests, are STILL THERE in the test called RISE.

If you watch the film to the end and are still wondering, “What specifically are these interviewees praising?  And what’s improved with RISE over SAGE?!” — just go to the Utah State Office of Education’s “Frequently Asked Questions” link.  It confirms that there’s no real difference, despite what the film implies.

Wendy Hart of Utah’s largest school district, Alpine District, has said of RISE, “It’s like saying that the city got a new library– because they replaced the catalog software.  But the building, the books and the patrons are the same.”

State Board members, local board members, and Utah teachers who oppose RISE (as they opposed SAGE) were of course not invited to participate in the filming of this taxpayer funded, RISE-promo film.

The facts are that as with SAGE, with RISE:  parents are still not in the loop, the tests are still secretive, the tests are still not local, are not coming from teachers of these students; the tests are still founded on controversial Common Core standards, not local charter standards or Utah-built standards, and the tests are still collecting academic and nonacademic data to share with corporate, federal and state entities (not just with the  teachers, as the film implies).   https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/04be9c35-71ea-41e2-8a78-2dc39195ad6f

The initiative to try to get Utahns to embrace RISE illustrates the new bullying hierarchy: the federal government is strong-arming the state government via ESSA, and so the state now has decided to strong-arm parents, asking them to strong-arm the students.

The RISE test promo-film is step one toward forcing the kids.  But the story really began with federal ESSA.  For backstory, read Utah State School Board member Michelle Boulter’s article at her campaign website, and Autumn Cook’s article published by The Federalist.  The Federalist article by Autumn Cook details the federal mandating drive for tests, that may soon quash Utah’s rights to opt children out of tests for any reason.  She raises many interesting questions, including this one: “Utah’s hightest opt-out rates occur among economically advantaged, non-minority student populations with highly involved parents… so will this agreement direct Title 1 money away from schools with higher financial needs and toward well-to-do schools with high opt out rates?  And what form with federal remediation of non-compliant local schools take?”

At stake are the following freedoms:  academic freedom within Utah schools; the freedom for a parent to opt a student out of testing– for any reason; freedom for a school to follow its own, foundational education charter (rather than veering toward new, test-centric curriculum– to avoid being labeled a failing school) the freedom for a school not to pressure students and parents to take Common Core tests, the freedom for schools to actually be different from one another; the freedom for parents or elected representatives, not the federal government, to determine which schools “need” remediation.

Please write or call your school boards, state board members (at Board@schools.utah.gov) and legislators:  https://le.utah.gov  

Tell them that you expect them to protect children from bullying at any level, and that you expect them to defend academic freedom, school freedom, parental rights, and student’s rights.

 

 

Will Utah Quash Families’ Opt-Out Rights?   4 comments

Many tens of thousands of public school students, whose parents regularly opt out of Common Core testing, may lose the right to do so.

When federal ESSA passed in 2015, it claimed veto power for the federal education department– over every state’s educational plan.  Utah humbly asked the feds for a waiver, so that Utah would remain free to opt out of federally promoted tests. (Until this time, Utahns were unquestionably protected by state law that claims primary authority for parents, with schools/state in a supporting role.) The federal department said no to Utah’s waiver request.

So, state school board and legislators are in a pickle:  will they honor state law and protect parental rights, or honor federal ESSA’s unconstitutional veto power, and force all parents to force all children to take Common Core tests?

The state school board is divided on this question.  –That’s interesting, since the Utah board was not even permitted by the state superintendent to vote on our new plan –which the federal government has now vetoed.

 

Michelle Boulter, Utah State School Board

 

Michelle Boulter of the state board says:

“…In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State lawa state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

… exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states…

…This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members [ Board@schools.utah.gov  ] and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power.”

After reading state school board member Michelle Boulter’s letter and local Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s comments on the subject, I wrote to the state board. Kathleen Riebe wrote back. Here is that exchange.  –And here is the email if you want to write, too: Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Letter one: 

Dear Board,
ESSA is pressuring Utah to subvert our state laws and parental rights. Please don’t do it.
I agree with state school board member Michelle Boulter, who wrote:
https://electmichelleboulter.com/2018/08/08/the-state-of-utah-is-negotiating-away-parental-rights
Similarly, ASD school board Wendy Hart said to the state board:
http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/08/essa-opt-out-denial-from-feds-my.html

Wendy Hart, Alpine District School Board

It’s a terrible idea to pit teachers against parents who opt out of Common core tests.  Caving to federal demands that the state quash testing opt outs does that.
The problem isn’t the parents opting kids out of Common Core testing, nor can we blame teachers/schools who, fearing mislabeling due to low scores resulting from opt outs, might pressure parents to opt in.
The problem is office of education bureaucrats who mindlessly swallow unconstitutional suggestions made by the federal DOE, and who misadvise state school board members, without respect for principles of local control, telling them to nod and sign.
Listen to the wisdom of elected officials who have spoken clearly on the ESSA situation: Michelle Boulter and Wendy Hart. They point out that we can and must protect the state’s liberties as well as relationships between parents and teachers.
As an opting-out parent  of children in public schools, and as a certified Utah teacher, thank you.
Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove
Response one:

Thank you for your concern.

As a parent, teacher and a taxpayer, I appreciate that my students have an opportunity to display their knowledge and that they were taught the content required. About 90% of our families share my feelings.

Transparency and accountability are major concerns of my constituents.

USBE has worked hard to find a solution with the federal government.  The board will follow the laws and work with the legislature to seek new funding to ensure the best opportunities for all our students.

Kathleen Riebe M.Ed.

State School Board Member

District 10

801-599-5753

Letter two:

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for responding.
There are over 650,000 enrolled public school students in the state of Utah. If about 90 percent are opting to participate in Common Core testing, that leaves about 65,000 students, and 130,000 parents, who are opting out. That’s no small potatoes.
Does it feel right to you to eliminate the authority and conscience of 195,000  Utahns, especially considering the fact that Utah law places primary authority to parents, with the state/schools in a secondary, supporting role.
They’re opting out for a plethora of very valid, very important reasons. Some kids become anxious and depressed to the point of suicidal behaviors due to high-pressure testing. Some parents don’t approve of the secretive nature of the tests, and of the tests’ never having been tested or validated independently. Some parents oppose psychometric evaluation embedded in academic tests. Some parents recognize that these tests pressure schools and teachers, even against their school charters and their professional judgment, to redefine their curriculum and teaching traditions.
I implore you to support the rights of these people and the Utah law that puts parental / family authority first in education.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

The Cost to Children of a Common Core of Greed   1 comment

Although the greedmeisters are never again going to call what they promote by the now-toxic name of Common Core, still, the march toward common-everything moves forward like a communist conveyor belt, under the radar of most people.

That common core of greed is everywhere, like a misbegotten Midas touch.   And those who are devoted to children are pitted, knowingly or not, against those who are mostly devoted to the tax dollars that children represent to them, even though the stupidity of the common core is now household knowledge–  even the latest Disney trailer for the new Incredibles 2   mocks the “new math for life”.

But with or without the “Common Core” label, CCSS (math and English),  NGSS (science), federal data sharing initiatives like the CEP’s Evidence Based Policy, and most disturbingly the CSE (sexuality) each thrive under the same control-and-funding umbrellas as the common core.    (The way you can discern whether something is of the fed-corp common core, is to check  1) who is paying for promotion of it   2) whether it’s been aligned with federal data standards to track people’s use of the common thing.

The fed-corp partnerships repeatedly do this.  They take over pieces of education, pieces of what is supposed to be supervised and owned by you and me.  Someday, if and when the power agendas fully align, what will freedom look like?  The child or teacher who wants to have a distinct, uncommon experience, won’t be able to have it; like a small flower trying to take root where an enormous machine has been built, without soil (freedom) nor sunshine (access to whole truth) that small flower will have to give up trying to be a flower.  The common everything machine is not built to recognize the presence of a flower.  It is Economy First:  Persons Last.

The stupidity and the danger of where we have allowed ourselves to sit is bad enough– but the worst part is that the struggle’s not over.  We are mid-struggle.

We should stop –STOP– right now– handing our power away.  Look at our losses, our choices:

We allowed the federal government to define common educational data standards (CEDS) in partnership with a private club called Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

That was a power giveup.

We took money (each state did) from the federal government, to build fed-designed “State Longitudinal Database Systems” that sucked up data about individuals in our states, and now, if the CEP gets its way, that data will, without our consent, be up for grabs to any federal researcher or federal agency or any corporate crony the feds want to “authorize” to see that data– which is data citizens don’t even have about themselves.

That was a power giveup.

We, the states, allowed the huckster David Coleman to “architect” a new education system for all math and English, despite his zero qualification for such an effort, despite its utter unconstitutionality, despite the low quality of the standards themselves.

Another power giveup. 

And, right now, we are in the process in Utah of allowing the sick-joke of a set of science standards called Next Generation Science to become the rule of science education in our state, a move that will strangle academic freedom and delete much of classic science curricula, stupidly, to make room for a preponderance of propaganda and unsettled science doctrines: global warming, Darwinian evolution, and human blame for all of earth’s flaws.  So, in the wings:  another power giveup.

All these have been crimes of greed and negligence for which we cannot fully blame our now-overlords.  We had, and still have, the freedom to walk away.

But the one crime that hasn’t fully ripened yet, the big one that churns my stomach and makes me ill, is the Common Sexuality Standards movement, truly a soul-stealing movement.  CSE hides behind the respectable title of “sex education”.  But it’s not education at all.  Rather than teaching biological and moral facts to children, CSE aims to sexualize children, and not only to sexualize them early, but to normalize every and any sexual perversion, early.  See  CSE’s common sexuality standards  for download here.)

If you haven’t seen the video, see it  –but don’t show it to your children.

 

 

 

CSE / LGTB  promoters know that many, maybe even most, Americans, are God-fearing, chastity-cherishing, family-focused  people –whose religion can be twisted against them.  So they call the practices or teachings of a devout Jew, Mormon, Baptist, or Hindu American “unkind” or “intolerant” or “old-fashioned”.  They say then that inclusion of the transgender or pedophaelia agenda would be kind and tolerant, and many times they beat that American with his or her own good nature.

But it does not work with every person.  Some people say to the name-callers, “I do not care what you call me;  You will not force your agenda on my child.”  They might even be able to say, “I have done my homework and I know who pays you to push this lie-laden agenda on me.”    And lies they are.  Gender is an eternal and essential characteristic of every human being.

It always seems to boil down to masses of money, and never seems to be about the well-being of children at all, whenever new education agendas are shoved down our throats.  Important new research from Jennifer Bilek at the Federalist.com  names  the lecturers and fat-cat investors in biomedical companies, who are teaching and funding transgender organizations and programs –for huge, huge amounts of money.  J.B. Pritzker.  Penny Pritzker.  Jennifer Pritzker.  George Soros. David T. Rubin.  Martine Rothblatt.  Drummond Pike.  Warren and Peter Buffet. Jon Stryker.  Mark Bonham. Tim Gill.

According to Bilek, it won’t end with transgender operations and transgender counseling nor with the surgical and mental meddling with children against their families’ concerns.  It ends never, because proponents are grooming young people for a lifetime of expensive, never ending surgeries and expensive services.  It’s making money by cultivating human self-hate, particularly body-hate.  Gobs of money can be made from stirring up such hate.

Bilek writes:  “Bodily diversity appears to be the core issue, not gender dysphoria; that and unmooring people from their biology via language distortions…  Institutionalizing transgender ideology does just this.  This ideology is being promoted as a civil rights issue by wealthy, white men with enormous influence who stand to personally benefit…

“…Rothblatt suggests we are all transhuman, that changing our bodies by removing healthy tissue and organs and ingesting cross-sex hormones over the course of a lifetime can be likened to wearing makeup, dying our hair, or getting a tattoo…

“It behooves us all,” Bilek concludes, “to look at what the real investment is in prioritizing a lifetime of anti-body medical treatments for a miniscule part of the population, building an infrastructure for them, and institutionalizing the way we perceive ourselves as human beings”.

Stopping CSE standards and the accompanying philosophies from infiltrating our curricula may help stop a disorder from growing into the enormously lucrative business that its investors hope it will become.

#StopCSE 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Reasons to Flee NGSS Common Core Science Standards   7 comments

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1.  NGSS  DODGES  MATH 

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

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

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

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

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

    And then, this surprise:

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

3.  NGSS SCRAMBLES “INTEGRATES” SCIENCE  

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

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

 

4. NGSS THREATENS INQUIRY FOR STUDENTS

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

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

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

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

But NGSS frowns upon this.

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

 

5. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NGSS ACTUALLY OPPOSES OBJECTIVITY 

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

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

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

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

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

7. NGSS OFFERS NO LEGITIMATE UPDATES

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

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

 

8.   NGSS  DELETES LEARNING  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. DISHONESTY:  ALSO, WHAT NGSS SHOULD REALLY ADMIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.  NGSS REMOVES LOCAL CONTROL

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

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

For certain, NGSS is no friend of local control.

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

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

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

Stand up and make your voice heard.

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

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

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

Update on Common Science Standards in Utah   2 comments

Utah’s state superintendent is unfortunately stonewalling the public on science standards.

I’ve sent my  letter  to her twice.  I’ve sent her direct twitter messages, twice.

No response.  Others report the same lack of answers.

Public stonewalling should kind of be an outrage.  Your paychecks and mine are garnished for taxes to pay Superintendent Dickson   over $300,000 per year –to serve the public.

I encourage you to continue to write to her, and call.  Here is the superintendent’s email address, the board’s address, and a few curriculum directors’ addresses:    Sydnee.dickson@schools.utah.gov   Board@schools.utah.gov  Diana.suddreth@schools.utah.gov  Rich.Nye@schools.utah.gov

We are compelled to use what the USOE/USSB put into place; our families are the public education consumers; we truly deserve transparency.

My letter  asked:  “To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?”  and “Are we using a common core for science without public consent?”  Other people’s profoundly relevant letters, with deeper insights into the problems with NGSS common science, are posted below.

Perhaps this is the truth: maybe, as soon as Utah started buying common tests from American Institutes for Research (AIR) Utah might have forced itself to use the NGSS common science standards, since AIR writes tests for multiple, common core and common science-using states.

If that’s true, it’s a big a problem, because citizens and members of the legislature have been, on record, promised –by current and past superintendents –that Utah would not use common science standards.

The state office now has crossed off the part of the agenda that previously said “MOU  –  Various  –   Science assessment bank with other states”  and moved it, without explanation, to the finance committee for another day.  (Should we assume they are discussing paying for the common science before ok-ing it with us?)

Wendy Hart, a member of Utah’s largest school district’s school board, warned about the dangers of NGSS common science standards in a video made a few years ago, posted here.  She also gave permission to post her recent letter to the state school board.  (Below video.)

 

———–

January 3, 2018

Dear Finance Committee Members,

I am writing to ask two things regarding the MOU for sharing science test bank items, scheduled for tomorrow morning’s discussion.
1. Since an MOU is a formal, legally-binding document, I think it would be in the public’s best interest to view the terms of the MOU prior to discussion by the committee.  I would ask that you postpone discussion on this issue until the public has had a chance to view the actual language of the MOU and to offer comment.  I would suggest that board policy should dictate full disclosure of all contractual agreements prior to discussion, with proper notification.
2. I would also ask you to not rush into any adoption of the MOU until such time as the science standards are formally adopted for all testing grades, 3-11, and are shown to be compatible (or exactly the same as) those standards from the participating states.
What is tested is what is taught in the classroom.  David Coleman, President of the College Board and Lead Writer of the Common Core ELA standards, has said, “Teachers will teach towards the test.  There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent this…The truth is…tests exert an enormous effect on instructional practice, direct and indirect.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePrXlPQdVDw  quote is at 1:26.  So, that means whatever those test items are, we will be teaching to them, regardless of what standards we may or may not yet have adopted.  Adopting this MOU would be a de facto adoption of the science standards most common to the states involved in the agreement.
That said, adopting what I presume to be test bank questions from other states with common science standards (arguably NGSS) would be an end run around the statutory process of standards adoption and your purview as elected officials.  I also wonder whether the parent panel would be reviewing those test bank questions as part of their charge.  If not, that would be another statutory concern.
It also seems there is a desire (I’m not sure by whom) to adopt the NGSS despite some very concrete concerns with their lack of rigor, uneven approach to body systems (completely lacking) and electric circuits and physics (almost non-existent) lack of applied mathematics in HS topics such as chemistry and physics.  I am unsure why there must be so much promotion of standards that are objectively inferior to what we have had on so many levels.  Utah’s current science standards (at least before the grade 6-8 adoption) were rated superior to NGSS by Fordham. (https://edexcellence.net/publications/final-evaluation-of-NGSS.html?v=publication)
I know many believe the opposition to NGSS is purely religious.  For me, it is purely scientific.  Our ACT science scores are better than the NGSS states who test all their juniors (and better than the national average, as well).  The math associated with physics and chemistry is currently taught and applied.  Fordham’s comment is that the NGSS “seem to assiduously dodge the mathematical demands inherent in the subjects covered.”  Also, integrated science is much more problematic than integrated math (and I promise you don’t want to get me started on what a nightmare integrated math is) since teachers don’t major in science, but in biology or chemistry or physics.
A full six months before the board received the grade 6-8 science draft, every school district in this state was given the opportunity to send representatives to a training at Weber State on the “new” science standards.  It looked as if the adoption of the NGSS was a foregone conclusion.  (And despite claims there are significant differences between SEED and NGSS, there is very little substantive difference.) After finding that out, it appeared that the public discussion and adoption was a mere formality.
This MOU signals something similar. I am not opposed to losing the debate on adopting NGSS as long as the process is done in the open, with full-disclosure, public comments, and an actual discussion of where our current science standards are lacking and how the NGSS fill that need.  I may disagree, but I am willing to concede when my position is not popular, as long as it is done in a transparent, fully-informed way.  I am opposed to putting the testing before the standards adoption and allowing the tail to wag the dog, as it were.
Please hold off on adopting the MOU for test bank items that may or may not fit with our current science standards, but will have the appearance of circumventing the standards adoption process outlined in state law and board rule.
For any of you who are interested in my concerns about the NGSS, you can read it here ( http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/05/state-standards-burden-of-proof-rests.html).
As for the religious issue, I don’t think science standards should compel or repel belief one way or another.  It is not our role as public educational entities to dictate belief systems for the students in our purview.  True scientific inquiry does no such thing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to listen.  I would be happy to discuss this or any issue with you at any time.
If you will be attending the USBA conference, please make sure to say “hello.”
I know the time and energy that you put into serving us.  I am extremely grateful for your dedication and sacrifice on our behalf.
Sincerely,
Wendy Hart
Highland, UT
_______________________________
Jakell Sullivan, a researcher and parent living in the same county that Wendy Hart and I share, wrote the following letter to the state board and superintendent:
______________________________

Dear Superintendent Dickson and State School Board,

On the State Board’s agenda tomorrow, I see Item 1:1 Science (Assessment) Item Sharing Memorandum of Understanding will be in the Finance Committee.
Can someone answer a few questions for me? They are:
1. Is this Memorandum of Understanding something that has already been signed?
2. If so, where can citizens read it, and see what this Memorandum of Understanding is costing taxpayers?
3. If not, why is this item already in the Finance Committee?
4. Were you aware that:
On its website, American Institutes for Research (AIR) makes it appear that Utah already entered into an MOU, as of August 2016, with 9 other states–to share assessment items that support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?
This is interesting because Utah is supposed to have its own, unique Science Standards. AIR lists Utah’s Science Standards’ writer, Brett Moulding–who is also a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) team lead writer–as an expert in helping them shift states into Next Generation Science Standards assessments. I note that Mr. Moulding’s organization, the Partnership for Effective Science Teaching/Learning (PESTL), received a federal grant under ESEA Title IIB (see page 5 hereand is working with 5 Utah districts to improve science teaching and learning. The National Science Teachers Association says that the 5-district collaborative supports the NGSS.
My conclusion, based on the above items, is that through AIR’s oversteps, and through federal teacher/learning grants, Utah may be ceding control of our science standards. And, that an assessments MOU with other states will ensure that reality.
I hope to hear from you about how the Board can ensure public confidence in Utah’s Science Standards and Science Assessments. Questar, Utah’s newest assessment company, was the first assessment company to meet global technology specs for interoperability of tests and test items between assessment platform vendors–as funded through Race to the Top:
This, also, appears to be an egregious overstep of state and local control over assessment content, and curriculum control, that I hope State Board members can address with each other, with legislators and the Governor’s office.
All the best, and thanks,
JaKell Sullivan
Parent – Highland, UT
—————————————————-
 In my next blog post,  I will respond to the question of “What’s wrong with NGSS common science?”

 

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

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please clarify.

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

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

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

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

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

Utah’s Board Set to Approve Common Science MOA Jan. 3.   Leave a comment

I apologetically interrupt your Christmas and New Year’s festivity– and mine– to post this public service announcement.

Common Core science, aka national NGSS science, is poised to pass. It will be the “truth” guide for your child and mine, without input from locals, starting this Wednesday in Utah– unless many speak up, fast.

Despite years of promises by Utah superintendents, past and present, that Utah would never jump on the common science standards wagon because of the philosophical and political mindset gap, the Utah State School Board is set to approve a memorandum of understanding this coming Wednesday that will align Utah’s science test question bank with NGSS (national, common science standards: Next Generation Science Standards.)

Below is a screenshot of the consent calendar item, available at the Board website.

Also relevant is this video, where science standards were promised by superintendents and high ranking bureaucrats –in face to face public meetings held by interrogating legislators and local school board members– never to become nationalized and common in Utah classrooms.  (Posted below.) It’s a powerful documentary of Utah’s science standards’ lies.  Please watch it.

It’s time to contact the board and your bulldog friends in the neighborhood and in the legislature.

The superintendent and her bureaucrats will tell you that it’s old fashioned to resist common core science standards and testing; I say that scientific intellectual freedom, and my empowerment over my own children’s locally directed education, are more real than the “modernity” of just the left wing’s version of “science”.

The real question is,  as it always has been, “Who gets to decide?” Whose version of reality and science is the most reliable?  Even if NGSS had it right,  which it doesn’t, do you want to hand over the reins of control to NGSS,  any more than you wanted to hand over the reins of math and English to Common Core 1.0?

Contact:  Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

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Student Data Privacy Toolkit Available Now   Leave a comment

Free to use and share:  the Student Data Privacy Toolkit has arrived!

  If you’re wondering why it matters, read on.

———————————– ————————————- —————————————–

 

Is anyone honestly opposed to having students govern and own their own private data?  Are reputable organizations openly, actively working around systems to get hold of individual students’ data?

Yes.   There are so many that it’s overwhelming to learn.   The biggest organizations that you can think of, both political and corporate, are either looking away from scary privacy issues, or are actively engaged in promoting the end of student data privacy for reasons either research-based or greed-based (or both).

Trendy, probably well-meaning power brokers profit hugely from data sharing –done without the informed consent of students and parents.  Most of them probably aren’t thinking through what they are doing, nor of its effects on individual freedom.  Many of the richest and most powerful of them (even Betsy DeVos herself) were here in Salt Lake City last week at the Global Silicon Valley convention; attendance there cost $2,795 per person, which is a clue to how exclusionary the conspiracy of greed really is and how it fears pushback from teachers and parents and lovers of liberty.  That is a conspiracy of greed against local control.

I am not fighting greed.  I believe in capitalism even with its greedy warts, because capitalism represents freedom.

It’s piracy that I balk at.  And the student data-mining madness is absolute piracy.  Parents, students and teachers were never asked for consent prior to having their data mined by the schools or the schools’ agents.  In some cases, that data is already being held against them.

How can this be happening?  Is it really happening?  Can we comprehend it?

To make it simple, look at this notification of inspection.  It seems snoopy, yet reasonable.  I found it in my suitcase when I came home recently from San Francisco.

Think about it.

Did you as a student, a parent, or a teacher, ever receive a “NOTICE OF INSPECTION”?

No!  Of course not.  You are being given less respect than a suitcase.  Children are being scrutinized for academic, social and psychological data, their data saved in State Longitudinal Database Systems and in third party corporate data systems, without informed consent and without notice.  That is snoopy –and unreasonable.

“Partnershipping” education-data piracy is happening rampantly.  It includes all the states who took the federal bribe and then created a student stalking system known as the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).   The data piracy includes the U.S. Department of Education (see its EdFacts Data Exchange and its Datapalooza conferences and its official student-data partnership with private groups such as the Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association.)  The data piracy party includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –and the United Nations.  (See the U.N. Data Revolution)  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is in. (Just see how much money Gates gives to, and earns from,  this movement.)  The federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy, the Data Quality Campaign, American Institutes for Research, the United Nations’ Data Revolution Initiative, Pearson, Microsoft, and Jeb Bush’s Foundation are in. Betsy DeVos does nothing, nothing to stop it.  Nothing.

Lest we believe that it’s all bad guys, far away, realize that the Goliaths of data piracy also includes locals:  the Utah Data Alliance, Utah’s Prosperity 2020, The Utah Chamber of Commerce, the University of Utah’s K-12 research database (SLDS) and many Utah corporations.

These groups are financially thriving financially from the common use of Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) and Common Core academic standards, which go  hand in hand.  They also thrive on the lack of proper protections over student data privacy, although many of them give loud and proud lip service to caring about student data privacy.

Hearing these groups claim commitment to student privacy (after having listened to the CEP‘s meetings, or after having seen what the USDOE did to shred protective FERPA law) is like hearing a boat captain boast about the safety of his vessel to passengers who have been handed sandwiches instead of life vests.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look into the federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy (CEP) for starters.

It’s pretty fascinating, but inspiring at the same time, to see that some people are thinking through all of this: a group of smart, conservative Republicans and smart, progressive Democrats are joining forces because they see student data privacy being of extreme, non-negotiable importance.  The non-bought, pro-privacy coalition, called The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, has just released its Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, which it calls “a practical guide for protecting your child’s sensitive school data from snoops, hackers, and marketers”.

I’m not anti-data or anti-progress.  Invention and science are wonders!  I balk at, and hope others will consider, the idea that personal privacy of children is being taken without their consent and without their parents’ consent, for cash.

The conspiracy of greed does not want to talk about that.

It just wants to keep collecting the golden eggs.

 

It’s up to individual parents to care and to act, to protect student data privacy.  State school systems are not going to do it; they are taking huge grants from the feds, on an ongoing basis, to beef up the “robust data systems” instead.

You can download the free toolkit here: https://www.studentprivacymatters.org/…/Parent-Toolkit…

Use it.  Share it.  Student privacy matters.

 

 

Executive Order on Education: Why DeVos Is Saying There’s No Such Thing as Common Core, and Why There’s Still Hope   4 comments

 

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to reclaim local control of education, and then handed his pen to a school teacher who was watching the event.  Watch her at minute 10:00.  She is tearful.  This executive order meant something to her. Teachers are weary of being micromanaged, standards-whipped, undermined and data-mined.  They want peace.

But it isn’t the federal government alone that has stunted teachers’ and students’ freedoms, and this executive order alone does not have the power to fix what’s broken in American education.  What local control advocates are fighting is the mighty, wealthy partnership of government to corporate ed-tech.   It’s the marriage of enforceable power to greed.

Possibly, an executive order might get the feds out of teacher’s laps, but guess what?  Business interests will still be sitting there.  Most of them think that there’s  nothing wrong with businesses influencing policy– but there is. We can’t un-elect a corporation.  We can’t attend their private meetings.  We can’t vote for what will be put into the educational computer programs that our children are to be fed.  We can’t get rid of the influence of businesses if we do not like what they’re doing; that’s why the business industry must be kept out of public education.  The voice of the voter and of the mom and dad and teacher and student must never be quashed under the brute strength that industry plus government can become.

The federal government is neither the main nor the sole entity undermining local control –nor is this a left/right argument. On both the left and the right, at both federal and state levels, watch the monied partnerships combining.  The huge combinations are what we’re fighting, and their huge influence are why we’re losing.

The U.S. Dept. of Education is partnered with CCSSO.  Microsoft is partnered with Pearson.  States are partnered with the feds in student database building and reporting. And the federal CEP is trying to centrally house all the data for everyone.

All of these combinations rely on common data standards.  They must have standardization –or out of their hands slips the golden goose.

 

What most people don’t know, and what DeVos won’t say, is that the Common Core movement was never just a set of academic standards; it was a set of data standards from day one.

Global data-standardization of all things in education, from tests to curriculum to teacher evaluations to student pathway setting to school grading, is much more controlling than a little old set of math and English standards could ever be!

Know this:  a private group partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to create Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS).

That private group was called the CCSSO.  The very same CCSSO partnered with the National Governors’ Association to create the Common Core academic standards. 

Both CEDS and CCSS form the heart of the Common Core movement.  Neither are gone.

Those data standards and education standards are embedded into the vast ed-tech reform market and school systems.  Few people outside the tech elite know this.  So we fall for the rebranding efforts of lobbyists, legislatures, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over and over again.

States rename their academic standards (as Utah did with Utah Core Standards) but the truth is that we still use the common core academic tests and common data standards.  These are not locally controlled.

Because the federal government is only a co-creator of the monster known as the Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS), I don’t see how reducing federal overreach into local academic decision making will help us all that much; the other co-creator, CCSSO/NGA, promoting a centrally planned standardization movement itself –which feeds on investors and has trillions to play with— will thrive on.

(For those who think centrally planned standardization of education data is faulty conspiracy theory, I repeat:  check the CCSSO’s official statement: “Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.”)

This is something that Trump’s executive order does not mention.  Neither does DeVos.

I can’t trust DeVos to obey the spirit of this executive order.  Sweet as she may come across, DeVos embodies the problem that arises when half-truths become acceptable to society.  Listen to the Michigan Moms against Common Core.  They have history, losing Devos when she fought against parental empowerment and against the repeal of Common Core in Michigan.  DeVos’ interests were better served by Common Core’s continuation.

 

It seems impossible that DeVos is unaware of the inaccuracy of her statement this week: “there really isn’t any Common Core anymore.”  (See video clip, minute 3:00)   https://video.foxnews.com/v/5409228473001/?#sp=show-clips

Ask anyone who works in education, or in the education publishing or tech industries, if Common Core is gone.  They live it every day.

How can DeVos say that?

DeVos leans on the latest version of No Child Left Behind/ESEA, called ESSA, as evidence that Common Core is gone, saying that states are in the driver’s seat.  She’s wrong.

ESSA does not use the term “common core” as a requirement, sure; but it requires states to demonstrate to the feds that they’ve adopted standards aligned to the same definition that the feds have promoted (common core).

Under ESSA, the feds can withhold funding and can veto  states’ educational decision making agendas!  (“You can have any color as long as it’s black.”)

ESSA pushes everything Obama wanted:  the tsunami of nonconsensual data mining requirements; federally set moral/social values in schools (social emotional learning, or SEL); federally defined preschools and social services; and “college and career ready standards” which is code for Common Core.

For more on how ESSA/ESEA does not end Common Core nor create local control, read more:  here  and here and  here. 

Short on time?  Skip straight to this quote from Obama’s Secretary Duncan, who gloated when Congress passed ESSA: “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… if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in [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…”

If ESSA was such a win for local control, why was Duncan calling it a miracle for his agenda?  More to the point, can anyone honestly say that DeVos’ push for ESSA isn’t promoting the Obama agenda?

Trump’s executive order aims to be a local control enforcement mechanism, but because it relies on ESSA, it can never really achieve its stated purpose, “to ensure strict compliance with statutes that prohibit Federal interference with State and local control over education“.

The order aims “to protect and preserve State and local control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, and personnel of educational institutions, schools, and school systems” which is wonderful, but the next few phrases are where I get stuck.  They add: “…consistent with applicable law, including ESEA, as amended by ESSA, and ESEA’s restrictions related to the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”

This seems self-contradicting.

I will admit that I have been doing some laughing this week.  I  laughed hardest (probably inappropriately) when I saw DeVos say on Fox News, while standing stylishly in front of the White House, that there’s no such thing as Common Core anymore.

Realize that Secretary DeVos has been directed to examine the overreaching actions of her department, while she’s in complete denial that Common Core is a problem and in denial about any partnership between her own department and the creators of Common Core/Common Data Standards, even existing.  She’s also promoting the same agenda that GSV and Obama promoted (see below).

Isn’t this like asking the arsonist to serve as fire chief?

 

 

A few weeks ago I wrote that this year’s host for the mega education tech conference was Salt Lake City, and that the conference’s co-sponsors, Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University, had posted a white paper describing their vision and agenda.  I was pretty mad that they were taking $2,795 per person to attend this ed tech conference.  I was even madder that their real agenda, found in their white paper, was full of pro-Common Core and anti-local control plotting.

But now I’m madder.

The 300-plus page, foundational white paper has been deleted from the internet.

If you go to the GSV website, or to the conference website, or to my own blog’s links to that document, vamoosh!  Gone.

This, just a few days before the conference is to begin?  Why doesn’t GSV want its agenda widely known anymore?  Why not?

I thought I’d post a screen shot of that document’s key page:  page 302.

 

 

This “Strategic Battle Plan” of Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University (and Bill Gates and everyone, pawns or knaves, on the ed-tech bandwagon) began with Common Core.

It continued with universal preschool vouchers and No Child Left Behind 2.0 (which is ESSA.)  It goes on to school choice, knowledge as currency, tax credits for employee training, and the elimination of locally elected school boards.

The elimination of locally elected school boards.

This is not something that we should take lightly.

Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats in actively destroying local control by worshiping ed tech.  Pay attention to this battle plan.

UPDATE 4-28-17:  A friend found an online copy of that deleted document.  Here is the link to the full document:  http://www.educationindustry.org/assets/documents/KnowledgeCenterDocs/2012%20american_revolution%202.0%20gsv%20advisors.pdf

 

ON SCHOOL CHOICE:

One of the steps on that page 302 agenda (above) is school choice.

I know that many good people have been taken in by the “school choice” idea, so I want to address that briefly.

School choice is no long-term choice!  The words sound good, and of course in a free country we need choices– but what do these words mean to ed reformers, and in context of government dollars?

Tax dollars will flow  from government coffers to private schools, instead of parents’ dollars flowing to private schools.  With government money comes government accountability; in 2017, accountability is spelled D-A-T-A.  If you value student data privacy, if you value a private school being allowed to set its own academic, religious, social and moral values, then don’t be sucked in to the school choice movement.  In the long run, this movement is taking away what autonomy means, or meant, to a school.

 

 

Lastly.  And yes, this is related.

Do you know that there is a federal Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that exists to argue about how and where to house citizens’ personally identifiable data centrally?  No one’s suing.  They should be.

Data that has been nonconsensually gathered by federally designed school systems called “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS) plus data that has been gathered by a multitude of other state and federal agencies and organizations is now to be housed either in one federal repository or in a few consortia of repositories, if the CEP gets its way.

The arguments of the CEP members remind me of that line in The Princess Bride:  “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen!”

Laughter is not always my response to the crazy, crazy stuff that is going on in education reform.  But for today, it is.

 

I’m still an optimist.

Angels greatly outnumber devils.  I see greatness in individuals who are doing their best, still thinking outside the box as much as they are able–  teachers, principals, parents, grandparents, and yes, even legislators.  I see individuals doing what they can, wherever they stand and they are making a difference. The incredible liveliness and buoyant spirit in children is not going to be permanently crushed, not even by the robotic idiocy of tech worship that is plaguing education systems today.

I absolutely believe that the oppression of standardization is less than a fleck of dust in God’s huge wind.

 

 

Education44: Obama’s Shadow Government Posing as Department of Education   3 comments

 

Obama has set up a shadow educational governance system.

It’s called Education44 –in honor of the Fed-Ed programs of Obama, 44th president of the United States.

Shadow governments are creepy.

Shadow governments are not elected, so they can’t be un-elected.  They aren’t accountable.  They aren’t subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  They have nothing to fear except the great American wake-up.

They get their power by pretense, by assuming power roles, rather than earning legitimate power through an actual election.  Education44 has power because it is so connected to the big ed-tech money funneled in Common Core-aligned systems from the U.S. taxpayer.

You’ve heard of political correctness?  How about educational correctness?  If you are educationally correct, you are aligned with Education44 and the ed-tech industry as defined by Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson/Obama; you are in ed reform for money, but you pretend that you are in it for the kids.

The Education44 website promotes socialist ear candy in programs such as the  “Promise Neighborhoods” that will provide “wraparound services through school communities” for “access to longer school days and year, affordable food and healthcare, and extracurricular activities”.

Education44 also  promotes “guidance letters” that Obama, Secretary King and Secretary Duncan pushed on American schools. It promotes many, many other education “reforms” that are controlling and/or harmful to American autonomy and freedom, but for each program, it uses “ear candy” terminology so that each appears, on the surface, harmless.

I have learned to beware of vague “ear candy” terminology.

For example, Education44’s supposed priority (and apparent motto) is “protecting students“.  Where in the U.S. Constitution did we ever delegate any  role over children to the federal government?  That’s the job of a family, not of a federal bureaucrat –and not of business owners (Bill Gates) in greedy partnership with government.

Education44 seems less about protecting students and more about dividing and controlling students.

Check it out:  one of its programs “My Brother’s Keeper” focuses on male students “of color” only; too bad if you are a female child or are not seen as an “of color” child.  Another of its “guidance letter” programs focuses on protecting only certain religious/ethnic groups –with no mention at all of “protecting” the rest of the students; protected are the “Syrian, Muslim, Middle Eastern, or Arab… Sikh, Jewish, or students of color”.  Another program is called, simply, the Enforcement Unit.  It sues private schools and colleges.

Its website promotes common core in the same code-phraseology for common core that the ed reformers always have: (College and Career Ready, or College and Career Standards, or College and Career Grants).  It admonishes all to continue the [Common Core] goals via Obama’s Race to the Top:

  • “Adopting college-ready, globally competitive academic standards and tests
  • Building data systems…”

From promoting school-collected data for the “School Climate” program, to the twenty three pages of links to articles about data collection, Education44 seems to focus on data collection, in order to administer these Obama-approved programs.

What does it all mean?

 

We can only guess. No citizen is allowed, no reporter is allowed, to visit secret meetings of self appointed shadow governments, such as Obama’s new Education44.  No citizen has ever been able to attend any of the closed-door meetings:  of the Council of Chief State School Officers, of the National Governors Association, of the partnership meetings between the U.S. Department of Education and EIMAC;  nor of the partnership meetings between Microsoft and Pearson,  Bill Gates and the Department of Education, nor of the Global Silicon Valley and Obama’s darling Quazzo…  These meetings, though, function as shadow governments to education, because the unelected are running the education shows –and are using education tax dollars to function.

These partnerships can’t be called conspiracies.  They are openly acknowledged.  Yet they are conspiratorial in nature because they work their greedy, money-grubbing agenda under the radar of the average person.  And the agenda is so sadly, always anti-local control, anti-individual autonomy, anti-classical education, anti-privacy… and none of it was ever subjected to a vote.

If you think I am just opining that there’s an actual, evil agenda to really remove local control from Americans, please think again;  the ed tech conference of the year, to be held here in Utah in a few weeks, is founded on the GSV’s core principals –which do include GSV’s stated goal of “Eliminating Elected School Boards”.)  And Marc Tucker (of the Obama-approved Center for American Progress) has been spouting for years about the goal of removing what he calls the beloved American emblem: local control.

None of these ed “partners” are elected to do education reforms, any more than Education44 is.   An elected school board has that job;  in some states, legislators do.

But neither rich pants Bill Gates, nor the now-nobodies Obama,  Duncan and King, nor ed-tech lobbyists near or far have any authority to be telling you what to teach your child.

They do it anyway.  Because they can.  Because so few stand up to them.

I wish more legislators would put on their big-boy pants and take back the reins of control, as Rep. Massie, Rep. Chaffetz, Rep. Jones, Rep. Biggs, Rep. Amash, Rep. Hice, Rep. Labrador, and Rep. Gaetz are aiming to do with H.R. 899.

Neither the federal USDOE nor these shadow governments and wannabe business-education partnerships have any basis in the Constitution.  Let’s give education back to WE THE PEOPLE, where the Constitution assigned it in the first place.

 

Rep. Massie: “Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”   5 comments

Here’s hopeful news for freedom lovers.

Eight congressmen have banded together to try to restore the constitution by deleting the federal Department of Education.

President Ronald Reagan, while in office, aimed to make this happen. Recently, parent and educator groups have been pleading for this to happen. Campaigners have often spoken about this idea, since it guaranteed applause from voters.  However, last month, in a clear, one-sentence-long bill, eight congressmen actually wrote the bill to take down the Fed-Ed monster.

It says only this: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”  That’s it.  That’s the whole bill.

It’s short, but it’s powerful.  H.R. 899 (if it gets a hearing and a vote) ends the reign of the unconstitutional, federal department, and aims to restore money and power to the states. –Remember, the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment states: ” The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Original H.R. 899 sponsors are: Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky (twitter:  @RepThomasMassie ) Rep.  Jason Chaffetz of Utah,  Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona,  Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho.

 

 

Rep. Massie said in his press release, “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn… Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school.”

Original co-sponsor Rep. Walter Jones agreed: “For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs – the state and local level. D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Raul Labrador added: “I’ve always been a proponent of empowering parents, teachers and local school boards who best know our children and their needs. Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is the most important step we in Congress can take in returning decision making to the local level.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Andy Biggs noted: “Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best. Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level.”

 

Rep. Massie also pointed out that President Ronald Reagan would have cosponsored this bill.  In September 1981, about a year after the federal Department of Education began operating (1980) President Ronald Reagan said:

“…[W]e propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education[E]ducation is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and State governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children.”

Learn more about the bill in the video interview with Rep. Massie below. In the video, when answering a question about who now opposed his bill,  Massie said that there are opposers who believe that D.C. has cornered the market on genius, who feel that the rest of America should rely on those situated in D.C.; but most people want to keep educational decision-making and education money local; opposers are few.

Please remember that the bill, H.R. 899, newborn last month, has yet to have a hearing or a vote.  Please contact your congressional representatives  to add momentum to this bill.

How will the Department of Education be dismantled?

Rep. Massie envisions three ways in which the bill could be implemented.

1.  Get rid of federal education.  Return all power and all money to the states.

2.  Block grant federal education money to the states.

3.  Have different federal departments oversee federal education programs that are still active due to federal law.

Massie favors the option that gets rid of fed-ed altogether, and so do I.

GSV ASU Summit in Salt Lake City in May: Is This Really About Abolishing Elected School Boards and Pushing Common Core?   14 comments

According to its vision document entitled “American Revolution 2.0”, the pro-Common Core investment group GSV Advisors is plotting a lucrative U.S. “revolution” (GSV’s own words) that will include pushing the school choice movement and abolishing locally elected school boards.  GSV is co-hosting its huge ed-tech summit in Utah in May with Arizona State University.

The very fact that a financial institution has a 27-point business plan that involves removing local control in education –and that it’s promoting that vision to a national elite-only audience ($2,795 ticket) right here in Utah, in a few weeks –is very unnerving.  How many voters who want to preserve local control can afford a $2,795 ticket?

Look at page 302 of the GSV vision document if you think I am inventing this madness about eliminating local control.

GSV lists a  “Strategic Battle Plan” for fifteen years, with 27 steps to that plan.  First of the twenty-seven steps is “Common Core”.  Fifth is “No Child Left Behind 2.0” (which was ESSA).  Twenty-first is “Eliminate Locally Elected School Boards”.  Read.  Share it with your ed-tech friends.

This vision feels as creepy as it feels greedy. Remember, this is coming from a financial investment company, but the document’s title is “American Revolution 2.0” –and in its conclusion, it poses in the language of the founding fathers, pretending to care about, or to even comprehend, liberty:

“A System whose characteristics are thus marked by every example which may be defined a failure, is unfit to be the platform of the knowledge citizens of the future….We, therefore, the Representatives of Education Innovators of the United States of America, solemnly publish and declare, that our students ought to have the chance to succeed, that they have access to the best learning technologies, and that as free and independent learners, have the full power to choose their path to success in life. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Using the language of our noble founding fathers to promote this greedy, $elfish, anti-liberty agenda –brazenly pretending to do it for the cause of liberty –is sickening to me.

I would never, ever, ever invest in any of these networks of companies that profit from the destruction of local control of education.  Boycott Pearson, Knewton, Aspen, Lumina, and the countless, countless ed-tech groups that are in this collusion against local liberty.  Don’t use CEDS common data standards for education.  Don’t profit from the thieves of liberty.  Walk away.

I am certain that the average person working for Pearson or Gates or Aspen or Microsoft or Lumina may have no idea that he/she is daily empowering a devastating collusion against local liberty in U.S. education, yet the fact remains that this is exactly what’s happening.

And Utah friends, it’s happening under your noses.

In a few weeks, in May 2017, international big names in the ed-tech world will convene in Salt Lake City at GSV’s Ed-Tech Summit with ASU.

The average person can’t go.  It costs $2,795 per person, just to walk in the front door of the two day conference.

The very long list of summit speakers includes former Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and GSV founder Deborah Quazzo, who is listed as “a prolific angel investor” who leverages “technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors.”

A prolific angel investor?  I’m not sure what that means.  I do know that Quazzo is the co-author of the GSV document “American Revolution 2.0” that aims to eliminate locally elected school boards.

Here she is, onstage with Bill Gates at last year’s summit.

Deborah Quattro and GSV!  Our ed-tech industry is looking to these for guidance?!  It makes me quake to think that hundreds of ed-tech leaders will listen to her, to Arne and to the others.  Will they see the GSV vision document  as some sort of blueprint, recklessly forgetting the God-given Constitutional rights and duties of local control of education? Such rights go away when unelected businesswomen, philanthropists and governments “partner” behind the backs of voters and take over what used to be real learning, the kind that happened between one teacher and her students.  The new ed-tech allows extremists’ philosophies, dumped from socialist think tanks through massive online curricula, to fill student devices and minds, thinly disguised as pedagogy.

The list of sponsoring companies at Salt Lake City’s upcoming GSV summit? I bet you can already guess.  These are the not-so-secret combinations:  Gates. Lumina.  The Center for Education Reform.  National Geographic.  USAFunds. Amazon.  Microsoft.  Et cetera.

 

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

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

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

The article below is a guest post by Sheri Few.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheri Few

https://www.sherifewforcongress.com/

 

 

Tweet Today to Trump and DeVos: #KeepYourPromise #StopCommonCore #StopDataMining #NonConsensualDataMiningIsTheft   2 comments

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Several freedom-loving groups, including Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards, Georgia Against Common Core, United States Parents Involved in Education, and the Patriot Journalism Network #PJNET have joined forces for a Twitter rally today, directed primarily at new Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump, to #KeepYourPromise to #StopCommonCore.

Please participate.  Go here or here to join the fun.   Go here to sign up for a free Twitter account.

keep-calm-and-keep-your-promise

 

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The New Piracy: Federal Centralization of Data “For Research” (Without Consent) – San Francisco Public Hearing Today   1 comment

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The New Piracy:  Personal Data Used “For Research” Without Consent

Today, you may listen to the third open, public meeting “to receive stakeholder input” held by the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP).  It’s being held all day in San Francisco.  Just dial 800-857-4620 and use passcode 4837647#.  The leader of the meeting is CEP Chair Katherine Abraham.

I’ve renamed the meeting “The New Piracy:  Personal Data Used ‘For Research’ Without Consent”.  It’s a far less boring title, and it’s closer to the truth of what’s actually being promoted in these meetings.

Previously, these hearings were livestreamed and posted on YouTube.  I have not been told why that kind of transparency ended, but it did.  If you want to read the messages of testifiers, rather than listening, here’s a link to presenters’ written testimonies.  In contrast to so many other testifiers, Dr. Karen Effrem’s written testimony for today’s meeting makes sense to me. Here’s the link to hers and the others’:  https://www.cep.gov/hearings/2017-02-09.html#presentations

Here’s an agenda link (that does not include the written-only submissions for today’s conference agenda):  https://www.cep.gov/content/dam/cep/events/2017-02-09/2017-2-9-agenda.pdf

Why listen to a deadly boring, all-day meeting?  Because I can hardly imagine a meeting with more power to influence the destruction of American children’s future liberties.  Even though the CEP has only existed for less than a year, and was just created by Paul Ryan and a handful of other congressmen, it holds influential power with Congress over matters of data privacy, or the end thereof.

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The CEP and the vast majority of its testifiers (business people and researchers) want the CEP to recommend to congress that state agencies (like school systems) and federal agencies (like the Social Security Administration and departments of the military and others) and other nongovernmental groups (that similarly collect personally identifiable information from citizens, en masse) should combine forces and data in a centralized “clearinghouse”.

The main issue of discussion seems to be whether to put such a clearinghouse under federal rule or under the rule of a consortium of universities.

Why the universities?  –Because almighty research is the false god by which this movement justifies itself.   Almost every testifier says that it’s far too cumbersome and inconvenient for researchers to go from state to state and agency to agency, asking for permission to access personally identifiable information for the research.

Proponents (of working past, or of removing, the federal ban on any centralization of personally identifiable information) never mention the fact that the data itself was taken without informed consent.  Think of it.  In the case of the millions and millions of records held in school systems’ State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) no child nor parent was ever asked whether data about the child’s personal data:  his or her academic abilities, nonacademic characteristics, family address, demographic data, behavioral data, medical data, or IEPs, might be shared with researchers without that family’s knowledge or consent.

They talk about “evidence-based policy” but never about informed consent.

They talk about the magic of research, but never about unintended consequences.

And they never talk about the constitutional right to not have citizens’ “personal effects” taken away by the government.

 

 

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Dear Voting Legislators on Utah’s Ed Committee: Protect Private Schools. Protect Children’s Innocence in Sexuality. Protect Parental Authority.   Leave a comment

american mom

Dear Legislators on Utah’s Education Committee,

Please vote YES on HB 136 by Rep. Mike Kennedy. This bill gives the state board authority to ignore fed-ed mandates. It’s the bill Rep. Dave Lifferth ran last year and it passed the House then, but didn’t make it to the floor of the senate on the final night.

http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0136.html

Please vote NO on HB 215 by Rep. Brian King. This bill is trying to change Utah from an abstinence education state to align to a set of national, common sex ed standards called “comprehensive sexuality education standards” that are truly disturbing.   See video on the national  CSE standards: https://vimeo.com/152728936

http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0215.html

Please vote NO on SB 59 by Sen. Gene Davis. SB 59 has sailed through the senate and puts PRIVATE schools under the purview of the state board. Here’s a link to specifics about the bill. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/utahnsagainstcommoncore/permalink/2204136833145715/)

http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/SB0059.html

Vote YES on SB 84 by Rep. Jake Anderegg. This bill sets up roadblocks to the legislature so they can’t pull a fast one the last couple days of the session to pass a bill. Watch this video (4 min.) to see an example. https://www.facebook.com/libertasutah/videos/1389197131113940/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/SB0084.html

Please vote YES on SB 115 by Rep. Jake Anderegg. This bill eliminates the criminal penalty on parents whose children are truant and reduces it to an infraction.

http://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/SB0115.html

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

 

—————————————————-

FRIENDS, TAKE ACTION:

Text or call:

Rep. LaVar Christensen 801 550 1040
Rep. Bruce R. Cutler 801 556 4600
Rep. Justin L. Fawson 801 781 0016
Rep. Francis D. Gibson 801-361-0082
Rep. Eric K. Hutchings home 801-963-2639 SPONSOR
Rep. Bradley G. Last 435-817-0064
Rep. Daniel McCay 801-810-4110
Rep Kim Coleman 801-865-8970
Rep. Michael E. Noel 435-616-5603
Rep. Derrin R. Owens 435-851-1284

Email:

Val Peterson <vpeterson@le.utah.gov>,
LaVar Christensen <lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov>,
Francis Gibson <fgibson@le.utah.gov>,
Eric Hutchings <ehutchings@le.utah.gov>,
“Bradley G. Last” <blast@le.utah.gov>,
Mike Noel <mnoel@kanab.net>,
dowens@le.utah.gov,
bcutler@le.utah.gov,
kcoleman@le.utah.gov,
Daniel McCay <dmccay@le.utah.gov

american mom

Questions for Congressional Betsy DeVos Hearing: Letter from Grassroots Nationwide Coalition   1 comment

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Nationwide Coalition letter

linked at Florida’s Stop Common Core Coalition here.

 

January 9, 2017

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee,

 

We, the undersigned leaders of a nationwide coalition of grassroots parent groups, wish to raise significant concerns about Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, and request that you ask her these questions about education, standards, privacy and autonomy issues:

1) We understand that your website statement right after your appointment that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core was meant to reassure activists that you oppose the standards and will honor Mr. Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core.

Please list your efforts during your extensive period of education activism and philanthropy to fight the implementation of the standards.

2) In your November 23 website statement you mention “high standards,” and in the Trump Transition Team readout of your November 19th meeting with the president-elect, you reportedly discussed “higher national standards.”

Please explain how this is different from Common Core. Also, please justify this stand in light of the lack of constitutional and statutory authority for the federal government to involve itself in standards, and in light of Mr. Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, make education local, and scale back or abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

3) Would you please reconcile your website statement that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core with your record of education advocacy in Michigan and elsewhere – specifically, when you have, either individually or through your organizations (especially the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) that you founded and chaired, and of which your family foundation is still the majority funder):

 Been described as supporting Common Core by Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation in the Detroit News?

 Actively worked to block a bill that would have repealed and replaced Michigan’s Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards, arguably the best in the nation?

 Actively lobbied for continued implementation of Common Core in Michigan?

 Financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan?

 Funded Alabama pro-Common Core state school board candidates?

 Threatened the grassroots parent organization Stop Common Core in Michigan with legal action for showing the link between GLEP endorsement and Common Core support?

4) The Indiana voucher law that you and your organization, the American Federation for Children (AFC), strongly supported and funded requires voucher recipient schools to administer the public school Common Core-aligned tests and submit to the grading system based on those same Common Core-aligned tests. The tests determine what is taught, which means that this law is imposing Common Core on private schools. Indiana “is the secondworst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy” according to the Center for Education Reform because of that and other onerous requirements, and the state received an F grade on the Education Liberty Watch School Choice Freedom Grading Scale.

Do you support imposing public-school standards, curriculum and tests on private and or home schools?

5) Through Excel in Ed and the American Federation for Children, you have influenced legislation that has made Florida a “leader” in school choice, yet the majority of students, especially those in rural areas, in states like Florida, still chooses to attend traditional public schools. Public school advocates in Florida complain that expanded school choice has negatively affected their traditional public schools, even in previously high performing districts.

As Secretary of Education, how will you support the rights of parents and communities whose first choice is their community’s traditional public school?

6) You and AFC have been strong supporters of federal Title I portability. As Secretary of Education, would you require the same public school, Common Core tests and the rest of the federal regulations for private schools under a Title I portability program as Jeb Bush recommended for Mitt Romney in 2012 (p. 24)? If yes, please cite the constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in regulating schools, including private schools, and explain how this policy squares with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce the federal education footprint.

7) The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires secretarial approval of state education plans for standards, tests and accountability. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump’s vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans?

8) The Philanthropy Roundtable group that you chaired published a report on charter schools, but did not mention the Hillsdale classical charter schools, even though they are in your home state of Michigan and Hillsdale is nationally renowned for its classical and constitutional teaching and for not taking federal funding. Have you or any of your organizations done anything substantive to support the Hillsdale model aside from a few brief mentions on your websites? If not, do you want all charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere to only teach Common Core-aligned standards, curriculum and tests?

9) During the primary campaign, President-elect Trump indicated that he strongly supported student privacy by closing the loopholes in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), saying the following to a parent activist:

I would close all of it,” Trump replied. “You have to have privacy. You have to have privacy. So I’d close all of it. But, most of all, I’d get everything out of Washington, ‘cause that’s where it’s all emanating from.

Will you commit to reversing the Obama administration’s regulatory gutting of FERPA and to updating that statute to better protect student privacy in the digital age?

10) We are sure you are aware of serious parental concerns about corporate collection and mining of highly sensitive student data through digital platforms, without parental knowledge or consent. But the Philanthropy Roundtable, which you chaired, published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour” and does not contain a single use of the words “privacy,” “transparency” [as in who receives that data and how it is used to make life-changing decision for children], or “consent.”

Will you continue to promote the corporate data-mining efforts of enterprises such as Dream Box and Knewton, whose CEO bragged about collecting “5-10 million data points per user per day,” described in your organization’s report?

11) Related to Questions 9 and 10 above, there is currently a federal commission, the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking, which is discussing lifting the federal prohibition on the creation of a student unit-record system. If that prohibition is removed, the federal government would be allowed to maintain a database linking student data from preschool through the workforce. That idea is strongly opposed by parent groups and privacy organizations.

Will you commit to protecting student privacy by recommending to the Commission on EvidenceBased Policymaking that this prohibition be left in place?

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12) As outlined in a letter from Liberty Counsel that was co-signed by dozens of parent groups across the nation, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) plans to add subjective, invasive, illegal, and unconstitutional survey or test mindset questions to the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

What will you do to rein in NAGB and protect the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of American students?

13) Through commissions, programs, federally funded groups, the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act, and other entities, there has been an explosion of effort to expand invasive, subjective social emotional learning (SEL) standards, curricula and assessment.

What is your view of SEL and what will you do to protect student psychological privacy and freedom of conscience?

Thank you for your willingness to hear and address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of parents across this nation.

Should you need any further detail on any of these issues, I am acting as point of contact for this coalition.

Karen R. Effrem, MD President – Education Liberty Watch

http://www.edlibertywatch.org

Office: 952-361-4931

Mobile: 763-458-7119

dockaren@edlibertywatch.org

 

Sincerely,

 

National Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education emerita, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas

Eunie Smith, Acting President & Mary Potter Summa, National Issues Chair – Eagle Forum

Angela Davidson Weinzinger – Leader, Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards

Donna G. Garner, Retired Teacher and EdViews.org Policy Commentator

Christel Swasey – Advisory Board Member, United States Parents Involved in Education

Shane Vander Hart – Caffeinated Thoughts

Teri Sasseville – Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Twitter Stop Federal Education Mandates in the U.S

Gudrun & Tim Hinderberger – Founding Administrators & Michelle Earle, Co-administrator, Americans Against Common Core Group

Alice Linahan, Vice-President – Women on the Wall

Teri Sasseville – Stop Early Childhood Common Core

Lynne M Taylor – Common Core Diva, education researcher and activist

 

State Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Alabama

Betty Peters – Member, Alabama State Board of Education 

Arkansas

Jennifer Helms, PhD, RN – President, Arkansans for Education Freedom

California

Orlean Koehle – President, California Eagle Forum

Orlean Koehle – Director, Californians United Against Common Core

Florida

Karen R. Effrem, MD – Executive Director, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Meredith Mears, Debbie Higgenbotham, Stacie Clark – FL Parents RISE Keith Flaugh – Florida Citizens Alliance

Janet O McDonald, M.Ed., LMT, Neurodevelopmental Specialist & Instructor – Member, Flagler County School Board, District 2

Catherine Baer – Chairwoman, The Tea Party Network

Suzette Lopez – Accountabaloney

Sue Woltanski – Minimize Testing Maximize Learning

Beth Overholt, MSW – Chair, Opt Out Leon County

Deb Gerry Herbage – Founder, Exposed Blog

Lamarre Notargiacomo – Indian River Coalition 4 Educational Freedom

Charlotte Greenbarg – President, Independent Voices for Better Education

Georgia

Teri Sasseville – Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Stephanie Froerer Zimmerman – Founder, Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Donald Bauder – V.P Hamilton County Grassroots Conservatives

Iowa

Shane Vander Hart and Leslie Beck – Iowa RestoreEd

Kansas

Lisa Huesers, Courtney Rankin, Rosy Schmidt – Kansans Against Common Core

Kentucky

Shirley Daniels – Kentucky Eagle Forum

Louisiana

Dr. Elizabeth Meyers, Dr. Anna Arthurs, Mrs. Mary Kass, Mrs. Terri Temmcke – Stop Common Core in Louisiana

Michigan

Deborah DeBacker, Tamara Carlone, Melanie Kurdys , & Karen Braun – Stop Common Core in Michigan

Minnesota

Linda Bell, founder; Kerstin Hardley-Schulz, & Chris Daniels – Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children

Jennifer Black-Allen and Anne Taylor – MACC Refuse the Tests

Nevada

Karen Briske – Stop Common Core in Nevada

New Hampshire

Ken Eyring – Member, Windham School Board

New York

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Stop Common Core and Federal Education Mandates in the Fingerlakes, NY

Alphonsine Englerth – Advocate & Founder, Flo’s Advocacy for Better Education in NYS

Ohio

Heidi Huber – Ohioans for Local Control

Oklahoma Jenni White – Education Director, Restore Oklahoma Parental Empowerment

Tennessee

Karen Bracken – President/Founder, Tennessee Against Common Core Bobbie Patray – President, Tennessee Eagle Forum

Texas

Lynn Davenport – Parents Encouraging A Classical Education (PEACE)

Mellany Lamb – Texans Against Common Core

Meg Bakich – Leader, Truth in Texas Education

A. Patrick Huff – Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas

Utah Michelle Boulter – Member, Utah State Board of Education, District 15, as an individual

Wendy K. Hart – Member, Alpine School District Board of Education, ASD2, as an individual

Oak Norton – Executive Director, Agency Based Education

Gayle Ruzicka – President, Utah Eagle Forum

Oak Norton and Christel Swasey – Co-Founders, Utahns Against Common Core

Dr. Gary Thompson – Founder, Early Life Psychology, Inc.

West Virginia

Angela Summers – WV Against Common Core

Washington

JR Wilson – Stop Common Core in Washington State

Leah Huck, Karen W. Larsen, and Breann Treffry, Administrators – Washington State Against Common Core

Wisconsin

Jeffrey Horn – Stop Common Core in Wisconsin

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Chicken Thieves and Data Thieves: What’s Up with CEP?   3 comments

chick-in-ladle

 

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck stole chickens.  Huck’s father had taught him how to stomach chicken theft.

That reminds me of the way the federal CEP (Commission on Evidence Based Policy) stomachs human data theft.  Huck said:

… Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway.

Just as the Finn thieves lied to themselves, saying that they might do society a favor while they did themselves a favor, stealing chickens, so ed reformers and CEP data gatherers lie to themselves and to the public.  After all, the CEP doesn’t do its own thieving; why should it judge or disclose the immoral origins of the data?

CEP simply says that it wants to centrally house data (that’s previously been taken, without permission from citizens, by school State Longitudinal Database Systems and by other entities.)  CEP members wring their hands over the inconvenience they have endured, not fully being able to access all the pii.  So also say the elite researchers and Gates-linked business people testifying at CEP’s public hearings.

Maybe you didn’t know that citizens’ data is being taken without our permission.

Think: when did you receive a permission slip from the school district, or from the state, asking you to sign away all student academic and nonacademic data for the rest of your child’s life?  Never.

Yet SLDS systems do track a child for life.  That’s what “longitudinal” means: through time.  They call it P-20W.  That means preschool through grade 20 and Workforce. Life.

Well, now you know.  And we can’t opt out of the data theft system.  I tried.  The biggest, most vibrant source of citizen data is our public school system, and the government is unwilling to stop stealing from us in this way.

I do not use the word “stealing” lightly, nor am I exaggerating.  Personal data is literally being confiscated without informed consent or permission of any kind, via school databases linked with many state agencies.  Every digital record created by students, teachers, counselors, school nurses or administrators can be stored (and shared) from there.

Sometimes it is hijacked by unethical researchers entrusted with care of the pii.

chick-on-skate

No one seems to notice these articles about stolen pii.

And on it goes.  Data points are taken and taken and taken –about both academic and nonacademic lives. Schools feed aggregate data and pii into federally-created “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS). Because SLDS systems use common educational data standards (CEDS) that the federal-corporate partners created, that data is portable and re-shareable (or re-stealable).

Many people believe that federal FERPA privacy laws protect the data, but it doesn’t.  It used to.  The Department of Education shredded the protective parts of FERPA several years ago.  What’s actually protecting student privacy right now is the territorial unwillingness of agencies to share all data.

But the CEP is out to change that.

gold-bars

CEP will lead you to believe that it’s all about benefiting society.  But that’s a side show, because data is the new gold.   Everyone wants the data!

Sadly, individuals aren’t guarding this irreplaceable gold; most people aren’t aware that this pii is so valuable, that it’s being taken –and that it’s THEIRS.

Meanwhile, the elite at the CEP speak about data as if it’s oxygen, free for all, belonging to all.  It makes sense from their (bottom line) point of view; governments and ed vendors have financially benefited from SLDS’s taking students’ data since about 2009, when SLDS databases were installed in every state by federal grants, and when federal FERPA changes allowed almost anyone access, for supposed research purposes.

Luckily, there’s so much territorialism by the various holders of the taken data that it hasn’t yet been centrally housed all in one spot.  The federal EdFacts Data Exchange has some data. Each state’s SLDS has tons of data. Universities, hospitals, corporations, criminal justice agencies, and other organizations have other caches of pii.  But the elite (the federal government, globalists, corporate elite, and some scientists) are desperate to have one national “clearinghouse” so that they can see and use our data to their own designs.  They speak a smooth line in each of their CEP hearings.  But don’t forget:  that data is your life.  Yours.  Not theirs.

There was a recent three hour conversation that you most likely missed last week. Held in Chicago, this “public” hearing of the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) discussed what should be done with the  pii (personally identifiable information) that federal agencies, state agencies, counties, school systems, hospitals, criminal justice systems, colleges and other organizations have collected.  They’ve been discussing this all year long.

I picture Pap with a crate of stolen chickens.  I picture his pirating friends with their own crates nearby.  I think there might even be a few crate-holders who ethically came by their chickens, but the federal Chicken Evidence Policy says that all chickens go in one central pen, on an ongoing basis, so all the elite can access the chickens conveniently–  conveniently for everyone except the chickens and their owners.

chicks-and-lab-coat

When you listen to their hearings, you find that the federal CEP is leaning toward creating a federal clearinghouse where every individual’s data can be centrally managed.  CEP is also hoping to overturn the federal ban on unit-record identifiers.

Welcome to the real live prequel to Orwell’s 1984.

Do I sound calm?  I’m not.  This makes me almost unspeakably angry.

While trusting parents, teachers, school administrators and students are being used as pawns in the great data-gathering heist, arrogant members of Congress, of science, of CEP, of big data, are assuming authority over MY life and yours in the form of our personally identifiable data.  And who is stopping them?

Despite a huge number of public comments that told the CEP that Americans want the CEP to get its hands off our data, the CEP moves ahead at a steady pace.  And why not?  We can never un-elect this appointed group that Congress created less than a year ago.  What motivation would CEP have to actually incorporate the public comments?

As the Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out in October, there was only one man in America who seemed to care about protecting citizen privacy at that month’s hearing.  Mr. Emmett McGroarty testified to the CEP that what they were doing was wrong.  Similarly, at last week’s January 5 CEP hearing, there was only one woman who spoke ethically about children’s data privacy rights.  She did a magnificent job.  Everyone else testified that data should be gathered in one place, or possibly in a few places; and none of the others mentioned permission or informed consent. I took pages and pages of notes, since the meeting was only public in the sense that I could listen in to it on my phone.

It wasn’t filmed.  It wasn’t truly public.  It’s aiming to fly under the radar because it’s theft.

chicks

Huck Finn’s father’s plan to later share the stolen chickens didn’t make the chickens less stolen.  Other people’s information doesn’t suddenly become your “scientific research” or your “evidence” for “evidence-based policymaking” just because Congress created a commission and appointed you to chat about it.

Shame on the CEP.  Shame on all who turn a blind eye to this evil, open assault on the basic freedom of personal privacy.

CEP Public Meeting Not So Public Anymore   3 comments

Only those with a special phone number and access code can listen in by phone to tomorrow’s ironically titled:  Open Public Hearing of the CEP (Commission on Evidence based Policy making) in Chicago.  It seems anything but an open to the public meeting. But if you are in Chicago,  it’s here: Ralph Metcalfe Building Room 331, 77 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago 60604, from 12-3:30 central time.

The topic is Public Law 114-140, the CEP says;  that’s sort of a disguise for what seems to be the real purpose of the CEP’s formation, which seems to be overturning the federal ban on taking individual data, without individuals’ consent, to a centralized, federal place.

The CEP was created this year.  This is the second of three public hearings. The third one is to be on February 9, 2017, on the West Coast.

At http://www.cep.gov you may sign up to appear and give public comment at that third,  final hearing.

Public Comments to Federal CEP: No Federal Unit Tracking!   Leave a comment

us_congress_02

 

First the good news:

Check out the hundreds of comments written in response to the invitation to submit commentary to the federal CEP.  You will find an overwhelming number who do not want the federal government to create federal unit tracking for individuals.

Notable pro-privacy comments  came from moms and dads and teachers, from the Future of Privacy Forum, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, the American Civil Liberties Union,  United States Parents Involved in Education, The Electronic Privacy Information Center, the American Principles Project, and many others.

(There are small and big groups who proclaim that creating a federal unit tracking system is a great idea, for various (less vital) reasons.  Privacy, schmivacy, they say:  just overturn the student record ban.  Bill Gates.  The U.N.    There’s one group that calls itself “The Young Invincibles” that released a  Student Agenda for Postsecondary Data Reform calling for collecting data on all students directly to the federal level.)

FYI, this fight– for and against removing privacy rights– is not new.  Three years ago, privacy-enders were, for various reasons, pushing for a bill (Senator Rubio’s and Senator Warner’s) that would have done exactly what the CEP is aiming to do right now.  See this 2013 article on what Bill Gates’ think tanks and Rubio/Warner had planned.

Some now wonder if the federal CEP commission will try to hijack well-intentioned bills, such as Rep. Mia Love’s Know Before You Go bill, in order to achieve their privacy-ending scheme.

Here’s the  bad news:

Even though there were SO many comments given to the CEP commission stating, like this classic:  “Our personal information is not for your use. Keep your hands off of it.  This is just plain wrong.  Stop it.”  –Still, public comments are only public comments.  There is nothing in the law that created the CEP commission (less than a year ago, CEP was created by Paul Ryan and company) that states that the CEP has to respect the wishes of the people who send in public comments.  That’s what happens when you allow appointees to run the show.  The public has no actual recourse, no voting power, when it hates how this appointee-driven show is being run.

So tell your senators and reps.

They do have power.

And privacy is huge.  It’s basic to American freedom.  Remember that part in the fourth amendment to the Constitution about being safe from intrusion in our papers and personal effects?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fifth Amendment further protects property (and privacy):

“No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Do something small.  Write one letter.  Make one  phone call.  Tell your representatives that you expect them to represent your will on this.  We have to defend our rights; no one else cares if we don’t care.

 

 

 

Has Trump Outsourced the Department of Education to Jeb Bush? #NoSkandera    1 comment

From Diane Ravitch:

“The U.S. Department of Education, in the Trump regime, is starting to look like a Jeb Bush sweep.   Betsy DeVos was on the board of Jeb’s Foundation for Education Excellence, which is…”

Read the rest:

Source: Has Trump Outsourced the Department of Education to Jeb Bush?

Feds’ Comment on Children’s Privacy: “Ripping the Band-aid Would Probably Not Fly”   10 comments

I am so annoyed.  Those words actually came out of the mouth of the CEP Commission leader:  “Ripping the Band-Aid (of data privacy and control) probably would not fly.” But pulling it off using (in his words) “baby steps” is the CEP’s plan, he said in the video of yesterday’s meeting.

Four-hour federal meetings posted on YouTube are  not fun to watch.  These arrogant –and, let me remind you, unelected CEP members, who we cannot possibly fire (they’re appointed) –spout blah-blah-blah that can consistently be summarized as something like: “… I feel great about the way we persuade the elite and rob Americans of privacy –without widespread knowledge and completely without consent.”

Wait: Before I say one more word: TOMORROW, 12-14-16,  is the deadline for public input on privacy v. fed authority over data —here’s the comment link.

Please comment, even if all you write is something very short and very simple:  “I believe in informed consent.  I oppose non-consensual data mining. Stop this madness.”  Do it, please:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

You and I both suspect that zero consideration will be taken by the CEP of the comments from the public. Do it anyway. Don’t let them think nobody sees or opposes this assault on personal data privacy. And yes, it’s about disaggregated data. See the quotes below, repeatedly speaking about PII. (Personally Identifiable Information as defined in federal FERPA includes so much, even biometric information: behavioral data, DNA samples, nicknames, bus stop times, family history, academic history, fingerprints, blood samples, etc.)

Since CEP has disabled embedding of its public meeting,  I’m embedding a video that suffices as a metaphor for the whole thing, before I tell you what went on in the meeting itself.

See how this carnivorous sundew plant injests this insect?  It illustrates the stealthy federal hunger for individuals’ data.  As individuals (the insects) are drawn to the sweet federal dollars (nectar) coming from the hungry plant (federal government) the tentacles of the plant (federal data mining; SLDS and CEDS) become more and more attached until the insect finally loses all autonomy.

Here’s one where a carnivorous plant lures and later digests a mouse.

 

 

If state legislators and administrators would exercise some self-reliance, tighten their financial belts, turn to ourselves (localities) to fund schools and other agencies instead of using federal funds or national, corporate lobby cash, which only give money in exchange for data– then the federal and global data mining traps would fail.

States are stupidly giving away our vital liberties, addicted to the sweet, sticky money that we’ve been lapping at federal troughs.

I am longing to see evidence that our friends in freedom (in D.C. or here in Utah) are making the smallest peep to protect our children from this ongoing, slow-motion, tsunami-like data grab.  Maybe it’s happening behind the scenes.  I pray at least that that is so.

So, unembedded, if you want to hear the federal “Let’s Take Student Data Without Consent” Commission (aka CEP Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking)  is saying, check out this link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXasJLAWgtc

Ironically, CEP disabled the video‘s embedding function (it’s a public meeting) but if you look at this link, at hour 1:25 to 1:31 you’ll hear this question from an attendee, followed by a CEP response that summarizes the event:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question, and I don’t expect you to be able to answer it, but maybe we can start a conversation that could be useful to us.  So, I see census as having made a lot of steps to move in the kinds of directions that are suggested or anticipated by the Commission bill, in that you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have, into the — you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?  What kinds of things have you thought about?  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“…One of the biggest constraints that everybody involved in this sort of endeavor faces is the different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a state; versus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

Summary: the CEP just said that “ripping the band-aid” of privacy off the arm of the American people will “probably not fly”; so the CEP has got to “do it in sort of baby steps.”

I don’t think I’m going to watch the rest of this dog and pony show.  I’m going to write again to Mia, Jason, Mike and Gary.

What are you going to do?  Send CEP a comment?  Email your legislators?  Say a prayer for the privacy of American people?  Re-read 1984 to motivate yourself to care?

You can attend the CEP’s next public meetings in various places across the  nation by visiting the CEP federal site here.

1984-was

 

UT Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on 750,000 Stolen Records of Students and Families   2 comments

judith

Judith Pinborough-Zimmerman

A news bomb about the theft of student data exploded in Utah’s Deseret News last July, but nobody noticed, apparently.

The article’s headline — “Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Utah Autism Rates” — focused primarily on things other than the data theft.  It highlighted former University of Utah research professor Judith Zimmerman’s allegations that university researchers were falsifying Utah’s autism rates.

But to me, the unheadlined bomb that the article dropped was the 750,000 students who had their data and their families’ data stolen by unauthorized “researchers”.  The families now have no way of knowing this happened.

Zimmerman was fired for raising concerns about protected student data that she said the researchers had “compromised and accessed without proper authority.”  She told the Deseret News that unauthorized individuals took  750,000 sensitive records with neither parental nor schools’ consent.  This private “medical and educational information”  included “names, birthdays, information about medical characteristics… special education classification and parents’ names and addresses,”  reported the Deseret News.

How would these families now be notified?  I wonder: with the whistleblower fired and with a years-long lawsuit and likely gag orders pending, the only people who now could potentially contact those families would be still employed at the university –who, being accused of the wrongdoing, certainly won’t go out of their way to inform the affected families right now.

I’m not going to discuss the ways in which the stolen records, and the children they represented, are vulnerable to potential crimes of credit card fraud, health insurance identity theft, crimes of predatory stalkers or the mandates of well-or-ill-intentioned governmental activists.

I’m here to ask –and answer– a very simple question that I hope readers are asking: how could this have happened?  How were three quarters of a million records of children just lying around under the noses of any unscrupulous university researchers?

It’s simple.  Utah has a STATE LONGITUDINAL DATABASE SYSTEM (SLDS) and it’s managed by the UECP at the University of Utah.

uecp

You, your children, and your grandchildren are in the SLDS whether you like it or not –unless you pay 100% of your own money in tuition for a 100% private school, and always have.  There is no other way to opt out.  I’ve tried.

Don’t get me started about how blindly stupid Utah is (all states now are) for having –and continuing to support– the SLDS.

We’re subject to this SLDS data surveillance system simply because in some USOE cubicle, some clueless grant writer responded to Obama’s mess of pottage and decided that the state of Utah might exchange students’ privacy for a $9.6 million dollar federal grant.

Utah traded all students’ data records, longitudinally (permanently) into this data-slurping machine, euphemistically titled the State Longitudinal Database System,  which the feds designed and oversaw— all for the love of money and nonconsensual research.

uda

Without parental consent, Utah children’s data now is daily being collected –using schools to vaccum it up.  This is not a legitimate situation, but you can’t blame schools.  They are being used.  They have to give daily data to the state/fed system, or they lose funds/grind to a halt.  In a recent Utah rulemaking statement, we read:  “all public education LEAs shall begin submitting daily updates to the USOE Clearinghouse using all School Interoperability Framework (SIF) objects defined in the UTREx Clearinghouse specification. Noncompliance with this requirement may result in interruption of MSP funds.”

So we can’t believe the ear candy we’re told, about how this data  mining is about keeping data on kids so teachers can do their best teaching.  It’s not staying in the local school for teachers and administrators to legitimately peruse, but it goes into the federally designed, federally interoperable SLDS database held at UECP/U of U which many state agencies can peruse and which the feds can already partially peruse.

(Side note:  the feds are feverishly working to get much greater unit-record access as we speak.  If you’re interested, livestream the CEP’s federal public hearing on that subject today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvvatB_NBWI )

Every state has an SLDS system.  The feds paid the states to build them.  The feds told the states how the SLDS’s had to be built.  Utah got nearly $10 million to make Utah’s federal SLDS in 2009.  And the grant’s been renewed to keep trading cash for students, in recent years.

Utah children and their families thus have their data sucked away to where unelected, unaccountable “researchers” are entrusted with data via SLDS.  The University’s “Utah Education Policy Center” (UEPC) is a founding partner in the Utah Data Alliance, which controls Utah’s SLDS system. According to UEPC’s website:

“Five other partners include the Utah State Office of Education (public education), Utah System of Higher Education, Utah College of Applied Technology, Utah Education Network, and the Department of Workforce Services. UEPC serves as the research coordinator for the Utah Data Alliance. UEPC coordinates access for individuals and organizations interested in collaborating with the Utah Data Alliance, or researchers interested in accessing data for research purposes.”

That’s a long answer to a short question.  That’s how the data got stolen.

Here’s the follow up question:  what’s keeping the other millions of records of students from going the same way that those 750,000 records went?

Ask your legislator that question.  Ask him/her to show you any proper privacy protections that are actually in place.  (FERPA was shredded; don’t let them pretend there’s protection anymore under FERPA.)

We do not even have the freedom to opt out of SLDS tracking.  But all of this can change– if more good people speak up– act.

fox

 

How did the fox persuade the gingerbread boy to get on his back?  The fox said that he would never eat him, but would surely protect the gingerbread boy from everyone who was trying to eat him on the dangerous side of the river.

On shore stood the hungry horse, the farmer, the dog, the others– and the fox said that he could help the gingerbread boy to get away.  The fox protected the gingerbread boy like the federal government is protecting your child’s personal data.

Every time I read an official promise like this recent CEP statement (and there are so many; even the federal alterations to FERPA sounded like the CEP statement) –I think of the gingerbread boy.  The CEP (federal “Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking”) promises that the government only wants more individual “data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.” I think of the fox “protecting” the gingerbread boy.

That fox wanted to eat the boy just as much as the dog and the farmer and everyone else did.  Even the gingerbread boy probably suspected it, but he really, really wanted to cross that river.

When the government says that it can and will protect privacy while accessing greater amounts of data, I think:

 

River = money

Gingerbread boy = a child’s sensitive data

Horse = educational sales corporations

Farmer = educational researchers

Fox = federal government

Dog= state government

The oven where the boy was born = SLDS database 

 

 

gingerb

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Common Core Pick: Betsy DeVos   14 comments

 

Betsy DeVos, America’s newly appointed Secretary of Education, is quite adorable.  She interviews like America’s Sweetheart, her name sounds like Betsy Ross, and she says she’s opposed to the Common Core.

But the parents who began Stop Common Core in Michigan say DeVos used her Michigan big-funding machine to block, rather than to assist, the Stop Common Core parents’ nearly successful legislation that would have repealed the Common Core.

DeVos’ Greater Lakes Education Project (GLEP) sounds like the Michigan version of Utah’s Education First / Prosperity 2020.  Organizations like Michigan’s GLEP or Utah’s Education First are wealthy Common Core-promoters that give ear candy to, and then fund, any candidate who is willing to take their ear candy and campaign cash. Then they’re obliged to vote as the Common Core machine calls the shots.

DeVos, like Bill Gates, is on board with Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence (another huge Common Core promo tank.)  DeVos, like Gates, also wrote checks to the Clinton Foundation.

So where are Betsy DeVos’s loyalties?

As Jane Robbins recently noted, “It simply doesn’t make sense that DeVos would contribute boatloads of money to – and even lead — organizations that actively push a policy with which she disagrees. Would a pro-life philanthropist write checks to Planned Parenthood because the abortion mill provides the occasional Pap test?”

A true liberty lover would only do this if she, like so many Americans, doesn’t fully understand what the Common Core machine is doing. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.  I know a lot of good people who have only the vaguest idea what the Common Core machine is doing or will do.

So let’s clarify.

The Common Core machine loves money, not children. It clearly steals from children. It really is that simple.

I’d like to see DeVos speak out about the following:

The initiative has stolen academic freedom and privacy.  It is stealing social-emotional data without parental consent.  It is stealing what we used to call classical education.  It is stealing the local ability to make decisions about what will be on the test –and, by extension, what will be in the book and on the essay. It is stealing student dollars that could go elsewhere (to teachers, buses, field trips, desks, basketballs, glue sticks, pencils) and is diverting it to tech coffers: Pearson, Microsoft, etc.  No profit left behind.

Money, money, money –and comforting ear candy– make the machine’s operators feel great about being it’s operators.

ear

Ever since Bill Gates openly courted American legislators in 2009 and identified as a “large, uniform base of customers” the sitting ducks (schools) waiting to be bankrolled, schools and legislative ed committees have become the hot market for businesses and philanthropic activists.  This power grab, away from parents and local school boards, toward the corporate-governmental partnerships, has been monumental.

Core pushers’ “ear candy” sells well.  They make it sound as if the machine’s primarily about ed tech progress –bringing new, good things to kids– but it’s primarily about adults who love money.

How many ed tech salesmen, governors, senators or representatives have really stopped to consider consequences –intentional or unintentional– of the standardizing of everything in education and in education governance?

They’ve pushed data mining without informed parental consent, pushed common, national ed data systems, pushed unvalidated tests and curriculum –on an entire nation of student guinea pigs.

It has been, and continues to be, a mad dash toward Gates’ vision of schools as the shiny, shiny, “uniform customer base”:

If you’ve seen the latest Disney movie: remember how the creepy bling-crab looks at Moana?  That’s how I picture Mr. Bill “Uniform Customer Base” Gates, the ed tech corporations, the government data miners, and the business-model charter pushers, looking at schools.

School dollars are so shiny!  It’s the money, not what’s best for children, that they see.

shiny-moana

 

But as I watched DeVos’ interview in which she explained her vision of the school choice movement, I thought: she’s sincere in her belief.  She really buys the school choice line.

But has she (or most Americans) really thought it all the way through?

It’s as if we were buying a house.  We love the curb appeal and the front door of the School Choice idea. We take a step inside and shout, “Sold!”  But…  what about the rotted attic that no one checked?  What about the weird, moldy basement?  Is there a kitchen?  Are there enough bedrooms?

Why aren’t more people asking SERIOUS questions about School Choice and about the Common Core machine?  Because the words on the surface just sound good?  Because the entryway of the house looks fantastic?  (Who would be opposed to allowing disadvantaged kids in to better schools? Who wouldn’t like choice? That’s sweet ear candy, right?)

The notion of school choice is a false choice, because where government dollars are, government mandates are.

It’s like the old Ford ad:

black

Think about it.

Vouchers for school choice are not reimbursed cash; they’re government subsidies, and anything that the government subsidizes, it regulates.

The beauty of private schools has always been freedom.  Parents can pay the nuns to teach their Catholic children right out of the Bible.  What happens when a disadvantaged child from a Catholic family takes a government voucher to pay for private religious school tuition?

That particular money can destroy that particular school.

By putting vouchers into private schools, we turn those private schools into government-regulated schools (aka public schools) and those private schools will not longer be free to teach –things like religion or morality.  Nor will those private schools be free to continue to protect data privacy of teachers or students; human data is always one of the items that federal monies trade schools for, in exchange for cash.  Read that paragraph again.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune” means that if the feds pay then the private schools, as pipers, have to play what they’ve been paid to play.  And that’s the music of the Common March.

The beauty of (some) charter schools has been the illusion that parents had more say in what went on (almost like a private school).  But under Common Core, that’s changing.  Many charter schools now have businesses running them, not elected board members running them. Where’s the local control in that? This gets rid of voters’ voices, parents’ voices.  With the Great Commonizing, even legitimate, good differences between public schools and charter schools seem very temporary.

Under the Common Core machine– with its federally approved schoolrooms,  nationalized “truths” that trump local academic freedom, federally urged data mining, disregard for parental consent to data mine, disregard for teaching autonomy –what’s any real, lasting difference between what a child in a charter will experience and what a child in a public school or (eventually) even a private school would ultimately experience?  The Common march means there will be no real differences permitted at length.

I am guessing that DeVos doesn’t know that the Common Core machine is building a socialistic, factory model of education according to the vision of the Tucker-Clinton conspiracy.  I’m guessing, too, that she hasn’t heard (or dismisses) what whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt has been saying for years:

“The goal of school choice… is the takeover of the public and private school sectors through partnerships with the corporate sector in order to implement socialist work force training… Carnegie Corporation, in its little blue book entitled “Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies” 1934, called for using the schools to change our nation’s free market economy to a planned economy.”  Hmm– a planned, centralized economy– that means, no local control.  I don’t believe that’s what DeVos really hopes to build.  I don’t think she, or Heritage Foundation, or FreedomWorks, have really thought this all the way through while wearing their Constitution-framed glasses.

In her Florida interview, DeVos said (minute 7:40-8:09) that she wanted people to rethink the public school “system that was brought to us 200 years ago by the Prussians, very much an industrial, factory model of education… Technology has brought so many new opportunities… we need to allow people who are innovative and creative to come and help us think differently about how we can do education”.

I don’t think she understands that the factory model’s exactly where the school choice movement eventually leads:  First, it leads there because vouchers can strip private schools of religious, moral and academic freedom, and second, because if we move away from the elected-board-run public schools to business-owned, no-elected-board charter models, we have erased our own voices and votes even in public education.

 

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While you’re folding laundry or jogging later today, listen to Constitution-defending lawyer KrisAnne Hall as she explains the trouble with DeVoss, vouchers and school choice in this podcast.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/8273838?autoplay=false

Hall notes that Americans are confused about their desire for limited government and local control versus their desire for big socialist programs: “Amongst our conservative circles… we want limited government –unless we want government to define marriage.  We want limited government –unless we want government to control our consumption of plants.  We want limited government –unless it has to do with education.”

She also notes that while Trump wants to give $20 billion in federal grants to poor children— not to all children.  The middle and upper classes are not invited to the school choice party.

Have the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks considered that?

Trump said:

As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty.  If we can put a man on the moon… we can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America…”

If you remember nothing else from this blog post, remember this:

  1. School choice and vouchers are not for all American children; they are for those whom the federal government will designate as recipients.  It’s favoritism and it’s socialism and it’s legal  plunder:  A pays for B to go to the school of B’s choice.  If A doesn’t pay, A goes to jail.
  2. Whether B goes to this school or that one is only a partial liberty because all the schools receiving money from government school vouchers must abide by federal regulations:  data mining kids, removing religious and academic liberty from private schools, and controlling teachers.

 

 


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A Related P.S.

WANNA TESTIFY?

On January 5, 2017, there will be a new public hearing in Chicago, where unit record identifiers and Public Law 114-140 will be discussed. The federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP)’s boiled-down purpose seems to be to cater to the federal/corporate desire for  more student “evidence,” in the form of school-gleaned personal data, minus student/parental rights of privacy/ informed consent; but, to do it with the “public input” box checked off.  So let’s comment.  If you can go to Chicago, go.  If not, submit written comment to CEP.

To learn about the last such hearing, click here and here.

CEP information:

Submit your request to participate to Input@cep.gov no later than Sunday, December 18, 2016

Include in your request the following information:

  • Name and Professional Affiliation (if applicable)
  • 2-3 Sentence Abstract
  • Written Statement (preferably in .pdf format)

Commission staff will inform you of your assigned speaking time and logistical details no later than December 23, 2016.

Visit CEP.gov closer to the event date for webcast and caption details.

Additional Upcoming Meetings & Hearings:

  • December 12, 2016, Washington, DC (National Press Club) – Federal Models for Evidence – Building
  • January 13, 2017, Washington, DC (National Academy of Sciences) – State and International Models for Evidence- Building
  • February 9, 2017, San Francisco, CA – Public Hearing

I would absolutely love to see Betsey DeVos at that CEP Chicago hearing next month.  I would love to see her fight for students’ data privacy rights against the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP).  I want to see her true colors.

I so hope that I’ve read her completely wrong;  I so hope she’s truly opposed to what the Common Core Initiative has wrought.

What’s Competency Based Education?   2 comments

Alyson Williams, who worked in data management for the publishing industry, a mother who has written and spoken much about education and data reforms over the past several years, has just given a speech at the Agency Based Education Conference.

It’s worth your time.

Alyson raises and expands upon many of the issues that are also being raised by other data privacy experts, including  American Principles ProjectElana Zeide, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Education Liberty Watch, Return to Parental Rights, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy,  and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She asks us to consider how current trends toward consent-less gathering and use of student data are to be affected by frameworks already in place (such as SLDS databases) and by new movements, such as the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) and the Competency-based Education reforms now arising in many legislatures (including Utah’s) today.  She points out that a key cheerleader for Competency-based Education is Marc Tucker, the avowed enemy to local control of education who is, nonetheless, a mistakenly respected advisor to the Utah legislature.  How might Marc Tucker’s CBE Baby affect my children and yours?

Please watch and share with your legislators.

Who’s Trump Pick for Education?   5 comments

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I agree with Joy Pullman: “I shouldn’t have to give a flying fig about whom Donald Trump picks for this position.”

But we care, and the figs are flying, because there’s so much power unconstitutionally wielded by the executive branch over local education.

Although Trump did say in a campaign interview that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Education,  it does not look as though that’s going to happen, sadly.  The next best thing is to name a local-control oriented, constitution-loving Education Secretary.

Will Trump do that?

Trump’s choice of ed guru Bill Evers to his transition team spoke hope to those opposed to Common Core.   Evers, a scholar at Hoover Institute (Stanford University) had been speaking out and writing bookswhite papersthink tank documents, and columns against Common Core; he served on panels and published opinion editorials  against the nationalization of our formerly autonomous educational system.  He’d been featured widely for his scholarship and activism; see for example, Breitbart, CSPAN, Stanford UniversityUtahns Against Common Core, Education Reporter.

Evers proclaimed that Common Core “violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling” and said that “Common Core’s national uniformity runs counter to competitive federalism”.

Surely Evers would turn the Common Core machine around, thought parents and freedom loving teachers across this nation, and they took action.

A public letter from United States Parents Involved in Education last week pleaded with Trump to choose Dr. Bill Evers for Education Secretary.  (See who signed that letter here.)

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A similar public  letter from Parents Against Common Core asked Trump to consider, along with Dr. Bill Evers, Dr. Larry Arnn, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Peg Luksik, or Dr. William Jeynes.

You can still sign that letter here.

Frighteningly though, this week Trump interviewed Michelle Rhee, one of the top ten scariest education reformers in the nation, for the job; the scandal-pocked former Commissioner of Education in D.C. and author of a creepy ed reform book, “Radical” is no friend to children, to opt-out liberty, or to the free market.  Of “letting them choose wherever they want to go,” she said, “I don’t believe in that model at all.”  So, Goodbye freedom, under Rhee.

There should be no chance that she’s chosen.  (Even though she’s suddenly, cutely, dressing in red, white and blue to meet the president elect, do not be fooled!)

I hope Trump’s receiving a storm of anti-Rhee letters this week from parents and educators at his public input website.  He’s probably going to make his announcement this week.  Please, please speak up.

 

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#BillEvers for Secretary!  #NeverRhee!

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Trump won. Now what?? -by Emily Talmage   3 comments

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This must-read article is partially reposted from Emily Talmage’s blog (Maine mom against common core).  I think my favorite part is the video clip at the end, depicting a real cat and a real alligator, where the cat swats and intimidates the alligator, causing it to retreat in fear.  What an iconic metaphor for what we the little people are trying to do as we fight the machine.

Read the whole article at EmilyTalmage.com.

 

Several weeks ago, I wondered in a blog post whether or not public education would survive the next administration. Admittedly, I was all but certain at the time that Hillary Clinton would be our next president, and my predictions were more than dismal: more screen time for even our youngest children, inflated local budgets, invasive school-wide and individual data collection, a proliferation of low-quality online K-12 and higher education programs, etc.

Ever since the big shock of Tuesday night, however, I’ve been scrambling to say something coherent about what we can expect now that Donald Trump really is going to be our next president.

Will public education survive?

Here’s the funny (and by that I mean incredibly scary) thing about federal public education policy: the big agenda – the real agenda – seems to survive no matter who is put in charge.

The real agenda – the ongoing march toward a cradle-to-grave system of human capital development that relies on the most sophisticated data collection and tracking technologies to serve its unthinkably profitable end – is fueled and directed by a multi-billion dollar education-industrial-complex that has been built over the course of decades.

It’s an absolute beast, an army of epic scale, and it’s a system that has the same uncanny ability to blend in with its surroundings as a chameleon.

Take, for example, the new “innovative assessment systems” that are being thrust on us every which way in the wake of ESSA.  Under the banner of free market ideology, the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is promoting the very same assessment policies that far-left groups like the national unions and the National Center for Fair and Open Testing are now pushing. And though some claim that one ideology is merely “co-opting” the ideas of the other, the reality is that they lead to the same data-mining, cradle-to-career tracking end.

Consider, too, the massive push for blended, competency-based, and digital learning – all unproven methods of educating children, but highly favored by ed-tech providers and data-miners.

Most of these corporate-backed policies were cooked up in Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, and then made their way not only to the far-right ALEC, but also to left-leaning groups like the Center for Collaborative Education, the Coalition for Essential Schools, and the Great Schools Partnership. Depending on what sort of population each group is targeting, these wolves will dress themselves up in sheep’s clothing and make appeals to different values. For the right, they will package their policies in the language of the free market and choice; for the left, they will wrap them in a blanket of social-justice terminology.

Pull back the curtain far enough, however, and you will see they are selling the same thing.

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There is, of course, no question that Hillary Clinton has been deeply entrenched in the education-industrial-complex for many, many years – even profiting from it personally – and that the big agenda was going to move full speed ahead if she were elected.

But what will happen now that we’re guaranteed to have a President Trump?

Unfortunately, we need look no further than the man leading Trump’s education transition team to understand how much trouble we are in.

Not long ago, Gerard Robinson, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was one of only eleven members of the Executive Team of Jeb Bush’s “Digital Learning Now!” council, along with Joel Klein of NYC Public Schools, Gregory McGinity of the Broad Foundation, and Susan Patrick of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

Former Gates Foundation executive Tom Vander Ark, who sits on the board of the world’s creepiest education organizations while overseeing a giant portfolio of digital and online learning companies, picked Robinson as one of his top ten reformers to watch back in 2010.

It should be no surprise, then, that Robinson recently told EdWeek: “I see [Trump] supporting blended learning models, alternative learning models,” and that he will “likely want to continue significant investments in colleges and universities, but also closely track how well graduates do in the labor market.”

That’s all part of the big agenda right there, and here is no big surprise: for-profit education chains are already seeing their stocks rise.

For those of you now protesting that Trump said he would get rid of the Department of Education, well, President Reagan said that too, but then he sponsored a report called “A Nation at Risk” which kicked the role of the federal government in education into high gear. According to Robinson, Trump may “streamline” the department  …whatever that means.

As for rumors circulating that either Ben Carson or William Evers of the Hoover Institute will be tapped for the role of Education Secretary under Trump, I think we’re more likely to get someone akin to what Robinson told Edweek:  “Someone from the private sector, who may not have worked in education directly, but may be involved in philanthropy or some kind of reform.”

So what does this mean for us? For our kids, our schools and our communities?

More than likely, it won’t be much different nor any less dismal than what I wrote when I assumed Hillary would be president: more screen time for even our youngest children, inflated local budgets to support one-to-one tech initiatives, invasive (way more invasive) school-wide and individual data collection, and a proliferation of low-quality online K-12 and higher education programs.

Unless!

And this is a big unless..

 Unless parents and activists from across the political spectrum can mobilize now and stand up now to say enough is enough. We knowwhat the big agenda is, and we aren’t going to manipulated by superficial policy change anymore.

This means that those who lean right can’t afford to go back to sleep once they hear talk of school choice and vouchers and the elimination of Common Core, and those leaning left can’t afford to throw in the towel or be led astray by phony anti-privatization movements run by neoliberal groups pushing the same darn thing as everyone else

Read the rest here…

 

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Zeide: On Ethics in Common Data Standards and Competency-Based Ed   Leave a comment

Watch the last ten minutes, at least.

Zeide is a scholar and a lawyer, not an activist for student privacy. She lays out the pros and cons of Competency Based Education with probing ethical questions.

She also notes at minute 14 that there is a movement to use unit record data, which I have been stressing in recent posts concerning the activities of the federal CEP — “Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking”.

She does not use the word “Orwellian,” speaking of unit record data, but I do. If that governmental stalking of individuals idea bothers you, give online comment at the CEP Commission’s website. That CEP comment deadline is this weekend. Be heard.

https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

If words don’t come easily, just say that student privacy is very important, and that consent is important, and that a move to a database of individual unit records is unacceptable in our free country.

Three Anti-Common Core State School Board Members Elected in Utah Last Night   3 comments

 

happy dance dog

Miracles do happen.

Utah’s liberty-loving, anti-common core community did a lot of happy dancing last night when candidates Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter and Lisa Cummins won three seats on the state school board. This election showed what can happen when people actually get to vote, instead of having the governor appoint board members, as had happened for so many years in the past.

Utah’s board finally has vibrant voices and votes for parent-and-teacher directed, not federal-corporate directed control of curriculum, testing, and student data.

lisa cumminsboulteralisa vote

 

 

 

 

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Although the Utah anti-common core community was saddened that the heroic Dr. Gary Thompson (pictured above with Senator Mike Lee and Lisa Cummins) did not win his bid for a seat on the state school board, his campaign had an undeniable impact in raising awareness about student mental health, student data privacy, and the supremacy of family /parental rights.  How often Dr. Thompson repeated this truth: “Parents are, and always must be, the resident experts of their children”.

The spirit of what Dr. Thompson’s all about thrives in Alisa, Michelle and Lisa.

The news of three of our strongest freedom-fighter parents taking three seats on the state school board is nothing short of miraculous.

Celebrate!

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Common Core, Freedom, and Donald Trump   5 comments

 

Here are 6 reasons that a vote for Trump will help preserve freedoms for our children– including freedom from Common Core– contrasted with 6 reasons that a vote for Hillary (or a third party who can’t beat her) will dramatically reduce the future freedoms of our children.  

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Reason #1:   Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience

Hillary’s aiming to remove religious liberty and freedom of conscience from schools and from society.  She has called for this:

All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced… laws have to be backed up with resources and political will.  And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”    (see video minute 8-9)

Trump supports religious freedom!  He supports the important First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) of Senator Mike Lee, which aims to preserve religious liberty.  Trump has also said:

“‘I would like them to pray for guidance and to pray for our country because we need prayer now almost more than we’ve ever needed it before.”

How might presidential stands for or against religious liberty trickle down into school curricula, and into laws concerning churches and homes?

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Reason # 2: Trump’s opposed to Common Core. 

His campaign video  about education explains that America must “end Common Core,” which he calls “a disaster” because “education has to be local“. At rallies like this one in Wilmington, North Carolina, he’s said:  “We’ve got to get rid of Common Core.”

On a Fox News interview, when asked if he would cut departments, Trump said, “I may cut the Department of Education“.

In the March presidential debate, Trump said,Education through Washington, D.C., I don’t want that.  I want local education.  I want the parents and I want all of the teachers, and I want everybody to get together around a school and to make education great.”  This contrasts greatly with Hillary, who mocked local control.

She called Common Core nothing more than a “political failure.” She said, “…this was a political failure because they negotiated something and they had no real agreed-upon program for explaining it and selling it to people so that they left an opening for those who were always in the education debate, who don’t think anybody should be told anything about what to study, even if it’s the multiplication tables.  You know, that that should all be left to local control. And then you get into more complicated areas, as we all know, that that’s just totally off limits.”  

Reason # 3:    Trump’s got Evers.

Trump’s opposition to the Common Core machine aren’t just words. Check out who Trump chose for an education advisor:  Williamson “Bill” Evers.

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Trump’s choice of ed guru Bill Evers speaks volumes to those who are opposed to Common Core.   Evers, a scholar at Hoover Institute (Stanford University) has been influencing lawmakers, writing bookswhite papersthink tank documents, and columns; has served on panels and has published opinion editorials  against Common Core for years.  See more on Evers at:  Breitbart, CSPAN, Stanford UniversityUtahns Against Common Core.

I had the honor of helping to transport Evers to a Stop Common Core speaking engagement in Salt Lake City a few years ago.  I remember the leather satchel he carried, which overflowed with books– all titles about federalism and states’ rights.

Read his stuff.  Again and again, Evers has explained that Common Core “has violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling.”  Evers could turn the whole Common Core machine around if he were permitted to serve as presidential advisor under Donald Trump.

 

Reason #4:  Trump’s free from the NEA and AFT (abortion-promoting) national teachers unions, which fully endorse Hillary.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) back Hillary Clinton, and both financially uphold Planned Parenthood and other controversial groups and initiatives.

Even so, when Hillary presented her keynote speech at the recent National Education Association (NEA) conference, she was booed  –why?

She spoke of cooperation between public charter schools and public schools.  She’s not talking about sporting events or dances, folks.  She wants all schools to  be controlled by her public-private partner-shipping elite agenda.

Democratic-leaning NEA takes an anti-charter stand, but Hillary is aiming to play both sides with her private-public school initiatives.  She knows that the Common Core machine is comprised of two machines, both of whom she needs:  the corporate machine, comprised of Pearson, Microsoft/Gates, etc. (these make money starting charters and selling ed tech aligned to common standards) and the government machine (this gains control by using common data mining systems and common tests and teacher evaluations).  This is what Hillary is speaking of when she speaks of her educational technology agenda, built on public-private partnerships).

Trump doesn’t need Gates’, Pearson’s, the NEA’s, or the AFT’s funds, and he’s not bound to their political standards.  Hillary, though,  is bound;  Bill Gates, her Foundation’s top $25 Million+ donor, remember, is also the leading promoter of Common Core Education and Data Mining.  He was almost her vice presidential pick.  Hillary’s not about to get rid of Gates’ precious baby, the Common Core.

Reason #5:  Trump’s not about Hillary’s 1998 Marc Tucker successful conspiracy against local control.  

The infamous Tucker-Hillary letter, a detailed plot outlining how Hillary and Tucker planned to turn America into a socialistic machine using national school standards and “large scale data management systems” (school-work data) is part of the Congressional Record from 1998.  You can read the PDF files of each page of Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter in the 1998 Congressional Record through these links: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

Hillary and Tucker are still working hard to implement their plot, nearly twenty years later.  Tucker‘s at NCEE, where his reports still spout sickening ideas such as: “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control“.  Meanwhile, Hillary’s whole “Initiative on Technology and Innovation” is a detailed, updated extension of their 1998 conspiracy letter against local control.

Will Americans be smart enough to decipher her witchery of wordplay to see her plan for what it really is?

 

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Reason #6:  Life Itself

Hillary has a commitment to increase the number of abortion deaths in this country, and she’s coming for your guns. Trump will uphold  rights for gun ownership and is against the killing of babies.

Whose vision keeps children safe?  How will voting third-party bless children?

If you want your home –or local school– to have defenders– gun-owning teachers and principals—  and if you believe as our founders did, that self-defense and gun ownership are vital American values, vote for Trump.

If you want to be disarmed and at the mercy of an unaccountable government, and if you are comfortable with the murder of babies, then vote for a third party candidate, or Hillary.  It is the same.

A final note:

Many of my constitution-loving friends are voting for Castle (or McMullin) and tell  me that Trump is only slightly, if at all, better than Hillary, and say that voting for either Trump or Hillary is condoning evil and will thus draw the displeasure of God.

I beg to differ.

God holds us accountable for the world we allow to come upon our children by our votes– far more so, I imagine, than He weighs our dream vote or “statement” vote which we might cast for a candidate who will never be elected to stand against our actual enemy.

Is just “what’s in our hearts” what matters here– or is what matters the real vote, a vote for actual power, that affects actual lives, and actual deaths?

Trump’s commitment to the American dream’s basic foundation: religious liberty, self-defense/gun rights, educational liberty, the right to life, and freedom from governmental micromanagement, are unarguably, eternally significant differences between these, the only two candidates who are within hope of winning this presidential election.

Will not the consequences of voting for Hillary (or third party)– thus enabling the loss of the basic American rights outlined above– draw greater grief and displeasure from God?

I believe so.

Please vote Trump.

What’s Wrong With a Federal Unit Tracking System? Video Testimony From D.C. Hearing on Student Unit-Record Identifiers   8 comments

The brand-newly created federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) held a public hearing in Washington, D.C. a few days ago.

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The testimony of Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project (APP) stood out from the other testimonies that were presented, and is posted in full below, with permission from APP.   Many of the other organizations whose representatives testified do financially benefit from the privacy-stomping, data-mining, gold rush, including the  Data Quality Campaign, American Institutes for Research, etc.  But APP does not.  APP exists to maintain local control, constitutional rights, and individual privacy rights.

On the video, Mr. Emmett McGroarty of APP testifies at about hour 2:45 to 3:07.  To see the agenda of who else was slated to testify at this hearing, click this link: final-cep-oct-21-agenda_updated-1

Testimony Abstract:

We urge the Commission to resist calls to repeal the statutory prohibition on the development, implementation, or maintenance of a federal student unit-record system. Such a system would curtail liberty interests of the individual, would invite the collection and use of ever-more data, and would fundamentally alter the relationship between the individual and government in a way that is incompatible with our constitutional republic.

Statement by Emmett J. McGroarty, JD

The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking was created to pursue a laudable goal: To improve analysis of the effectiveness of federal programs. But when such a pursuit is used to justify collecting, conglomerating, and tracking massive amounts of Americans’ personal data, as is certainly true in the realm of education, it’s necessary to examine the dangers and the tradeoffs. American Principles Project (APP) believes that such activities suppress the liberties of the people and pervert the relationship between the people and government. We urge the Commission to reject calls to establish a federal student unit-record system and to engage in such Orwellian activity.

Section 134 of the Higher Education Act wisely prohibits the development, implementation, or maintenance of a federal student unit-record system (one that would allow the government to collect personally identifiable information (PII) on individual higher-education students and link education data to workforce data). Recently, though, an orchestrated demand for repeal of this prohibition has been swelling. According to well-funded organizations with a vested interest in accessing that data for their own purposes, the federal government suffers from data-deprivation. Think how much more efficiently our nation could operate, and how much more the government could help people run their own lives, if it maintained a centralized repository tracking almost every conceivable data point about every citizen – where he attended school, what courses he took, what grades he earned, what extracurricular record (good or bad) he compiled, what jobs he applied for, what jobs he got, what salary he made, whether he was promoted, what salary he earned in his new position, whether he lost his job and why, whether he joined the military, what sort of military record he established, whether he was arrested and for what, whether he went to jail, and on and on ad infinitum.

This is not a description of a free and open United States of America. This is a description of a totalitarian society that keeps tabs on its own citizens – for their own good, of course. It’s also a description of what would inevitably happen with the establishment of a student unit-record system, all in the name of “better consumer information,” “accountability,” and “transparency.”

What’s wrong with a federal unit-tracking system?

First, it would compile students’ personally identifiable information (PII) without their consent – or even their knowledge that their data is being collected and disclosed. It’s one thing to collect data from a student who voluntarily (which of course presumes actual notice of the program) participates in a government program and understands that participation will expose his PII to program administrators; it’s quite another to forcibly suck every individual into a datacollection system simply because he enrolled in an institution of higher education. Telling that student that he must hand over his personal data to promote a greater good as defined by bureaucrats and lobbyists – or even worse, just dragooning him without telling him anything – is simply un-American.

Second, the purposes of the proposed system would be so open-ended that the repository is certain to be expanded over time to centralize data far beyond collegiate and employment data. In the creative bureaucratic mind, literally everything can be linked to education. So why stop with employment data? Why not see how one’s education affects his participation in the military? Or his health? Or his criminality? Or his housing patterns? Or the number of children he has? Or whether he purchases a gun? Or his political activity? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know, and every question can be justified by citing “better consumer information.”

And will this dossier created on every citizen become permanent? Presumably so. If the goal of providing maximum consumer information is to be achieved, both historical and current data – constantly updated and expanded – must be compiled and preserved.

Perhaps this expansion won’t happen. Perhaps the federal government, in stark contrast to its behavior over the last 100 years, will stay within its boundaries. But reality-based Americans know the government will push the envelope as far as it possibly can, as it always does. And they know that giving that government access to such a treasure trove of data is dangerous to privacy and to individual liberty.

Third, the idea that this massive repository of PII will be protected against unauthorized access and data breaches is quite simply delusional. Less than a year ago, a hearing of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform revealed the shocking lack of student-data security throughout the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The problems encompass both lax controls over the people allowed access to sensitive data, as well as outdated technology and inadequate security to prevent unauthorized access.

USED’s system contains over 139 million Social Security numbers (largely through its office of Financial Student Aid), along with sensitive borrower information about students and families contained in the National Student Loan Database. The findings of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the General Accounting Office were disturbing:

  •  Of the 97,000 account/users with access to this information (government employees and contractors), fewer than 20 percent have undergone a background check to receive a security clearance.
  • The security mechanisms protecting that data are grossly inadequate. As one OIG witness testified, “During our testing . . . OIG testers were able to gain full access to the Department’s network and our access went undetected by Dell [the vendor] and the Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.”
  • USED ignored repeated warnings from OIG that its information systems are vulnerable to security threats.

That the federal government should now consider ballooning the sensitive data contained in these insecure systems is at best misguided and reckless.

Even if the data systems were secure, the Obama administration’s gutting of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means that government education officials (federal, state, and local) now have enormous leeway to disclose PII on individual students without their consent. Pursuant to the recent FERPA regulations, these officials may share private PII with other government agencies, nonprofit entities, corporations, researchers, and literally anyone on the planet as long as the disclosure can be characterized as an audit or evaluation of a (broadly defined) “education program.”

Will the new conglomeration of student data be fair game for disclosure under these regulations? The danger is too real to dismiss.

The philosophical problem with a federal student unit-record system is that it treats free-born American citizens as objects of research and study. It assumes that the goal of benefitting others in society, in vague and theoretical ways, authorizes the powerful federal government to collect and disseminate millions of data points on individuals – without their consent. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Collecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This is even more so the case when the collector has the force of the law behind it. Our republic rests on the idea that the citizen will direct government. That cannot happen where government sits in a position of intimidation over the individual.

Submitted by:

Emmett J. McGroarty, Esq.

Senior Fellow

American Principles Project

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If you wish to testify, there will be additional public hearings in various places across the country.  You may also submit written testimony online.

 

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Here’s a P.S. to all of the above from me, Christel, because I am absolutely screeching and screaming over this and wish more people would get it, would speak up and would speak out.

It does not take a brilliant lawyer to understand how wrong this is– although it’s nice to have the brilliant Mr. Emmett McGroarty, and words cannot describe the debt that freedom lovers owe to APP and McGroarty.

But this unit-record identifier issue is not, at heart, complicated, nor should it be the least bit intimidating –to anyone in this country, of any age or occupation.  Get involved.  Say something.

Ask people to think:

Who holds the keys and drives education?  It should be those closest to each individual child: the parents, the teachers, and the principal.  They are the most accountable and care the most.

But today, because “We, the People” collectively have not been paying attention, corporations and governments have taken too much power over DATA  –and that’s daily increasing.  If CEP goes in the direction that it seems to be going, then soon, individual student record identifiers will track individuals so that governments and corporations can “see” and “help” us all. Heaven save us from that kind of help.

The federal and corporate push for ever more individual data is supposedly to improve education and workplaces for the children, but this agenda does not seem to serve children, but to treat them as “human capital” –experiments, worker bees and lab rats, while making certain groups unbelievably rich, meaning rich both in money itself, and also rich in data –which in our day equals money.

Our country went through the land rush, the gold rush, but now it’s the data rush.

Now it’s data mining instead of strip mining.

WE are the ones being mined—by BigGov-BigBiz-BigEd.

If the push for personally identifiable information sharing succeeds fully, we will not own ourselves.

The sweetest and most naiive among us are thinking, “It’s okay if the corporations and governments know everything about me, about my children, my finances, my religious beliefs, gun rights, sexual morality beliefs and more– because I don’t do anything wrong.

By whose definition do you not do anything wrong?  Do your values and beliefs match those of the government’s so perfectly that you can trust its judgment and its interventions over your own?

Think about what’s going on.

To the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, you are now labled WRONG if you believe in God, because religious doctrine of any kind is only a “pretext” to discriminate on the basis of racism, sexism, etc.  That’s your federal government judging your “social emotional learning” right there!

To gun control advocates at the state and federal levels, you are not concerned about “supporting nonviolence” if you own a gun.

To the federal political activists of the LGTB movement, you are either a discriminator or mentally unwell if you promote marriage between a man and a woman.

And now that SEL (Social Emotional Learning) standards for K-12 are being developed and promoted to track “non-cognitive” factors, starting on children and moving into the workplace, it seems not even our personal psychology is to be permitted to be private any longer.  What types of emotions or beliefs or traditions are mentally or socially “at-risk” and by whose definition?  When we give up power over our own data privacy, we give up at least some control over our own judgments of values.

What makes us certain that the world that federal SEL activists and the CEP Commission wants is the same world that I or you or other free people want?  Just look at what the federal activists are doing!  Don’t give them more power over us!

As Dr. Karen Effrem and Jane Robbins recently pointed out at The Federalist:

“The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) …requires rating schools based partly on “nonacademic” factors.  ESSA …  pours money into SEL programs, “which may include engaging or supporting families at school or at home” … training school personnel on “when and how to refer… children with, or at risk of, mental illness,” and implementing programs for children… “at-risk” of academic or social problems, without ever defining “at-risk”  …ESSA language urges school officials to cast a wide net for special education in school-wide “intervention” and “support” programs, allowing schools to sidestep parental consent requirements. [There’s a] planned revision of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the test referred to as “the nation’s report card,” to assess mindsets and school climate… [There’s] funding for federally controlled and funded “social emotional research” in the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA)—a bill supported by individuals and corporations that will profit handsomely from all this sensitive data to help them mold worker bees for the global economy…  A third federal initiative is USED’s bribery of states to promote SEL standards and data-gathering on preschool children via the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants. These grants, along with the preschool grants in ESSA and Head Start, promote “Baby Common Core”-style SEL standards and data-collection.”

Please find a way to stand up and say no to the call for using “Unit-Record Identifiers,” no matter what the reasoning may be.  Say yes to personal privacy, personal responsibility, and to family-based, individual-based, local control of social and emotional and academic and religious values.

Common Core’s Role in Hot State School Board Race   4 comments

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Senate President Niederhauser and House Speaker Hughes

The State School Board race has never drawn much attention before. But this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, businesses and even top-tier elected officials are personally campaigning and fundraising for and against certain candidates.

Yesterday’s headline was: “Niederhauser and Hughes ask Business Leaders to Help Defeat UEA-Backed School Board Candidates“.  Yesterday, too, business organizations such as the Utah Technology Council and the School Improvement Association joined Niederhauser and Hughes in a fundraising webinar that promoted a slate of pro-Common Core candidates who happen to be not favored by or funded by national teacher’s unions.

I understand why someone with a conscience would campaign against out-of-state big UEA-NEA money buying Utah’s state board election.  So they should.

But I don’t understand why these groups have chosen to campaign against both the anti-Common Core candidates (in blue) as well as against the UEA-backed candidates (in red) as they showed in this slide at yesterday’s insider fundraising webinar:

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Nor do I understand why our House Speaker and Senate President don’t see the hypocrisy in speaking against big money buying votes (NEA) while both of them are personally funded by big business money (Education First).

But my bigger questions are: how do the Speaker and the Senate President dare to campaign for Common Core candidates, thus going directly against Governor Herbert’s call to end Common Core alignment in Utah?

How do they dare campaign against the resolution of their own Utah Republican Party that called for the repeal of the Common Core Initiative?

Have they forgotten the reasons that their party is strongly opposed to all that the Common Core Initiative entails?

Have they forgotten Governor Herbert’s letter that called for an end to Common Core and SAGE testing just four months ago? (See letter here.)  For all the talk about wanting to move toward local control and to move against the status quo, this seems odd.

Next to the governorship, there aren’t more powerful offices in the state than those held by House Speaker Hughes and Senate President Niederhauser. So what does this powerful endorsement of a certain slate of candidates signify?

First, it signifies what is probably a sincere concern for (partial) local control: In the fundraising webinar held yesterday (by Hughes, Niederhauser, the School Improvement Network and the Utah Technology Council) the following slide was displayed:  Out of $308,512 raised for the political action of the Utah UEA (teacher’s union) $300,000 of it came from out of state.  Hughes and Niederhauser are right in being alarmed at that money’s probable effect on local control.

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(What they didn’t highlight is this: all of the anti-Common Core candidates’ funding, combined, doesn’t come close to what even one of the UEA-funded candidates are spending because none of them are backed by corporate or political powers.)

Secondly, it signifies Utah leadership’s alignment with Obama’s vision for education, which among other things mandates sidelining certain subjects in favor of others. Niederhauser told the Tribune that he didn’t want any board member’s vision to “dominate the board” which, to  him, meant to “supplant business and technology representatives.”  So he wants to make sure that business and technology is at least as dominant as any other interest.   The School Improvement Network is of the same opinion.

We could ask why. Why, specifically, would legislators be endorsing the fields of business and technology over the fields of languages, medicine, history, social work, the arts or any other thing?  And where’s the idealogical division between what NEA wants and what Niederhauser-Hughes want?  Is it fair to speculate that NEA corporate funders are in competition against the Education First corporate funders, and all of this is just an economic struggle pretending to be a struggle for the children’s best interests?  Utah tax dollars are, after all, the passionate pursuit of multiple players in the now $2 Billion per year ed tech sales industry.

Many people know that both Hughes and Niederhauser’s political campaigns are heavily funded by Education First, a Utah political action committee for Prosperity 2020 that puts businesses first.

Not voters first.  Not education –broadly– first; this is education as defined by the ed-tech sales industry and by Obama’s 2020 vision. Read it in their own words.  In an Tribune op-ed taking credit for passing legislation that Education First had lobbied for, you’ll see little focus on funding for paper and pens, school basketballs, violins, gluesticks, old-fashioned books, or heaven forbid, large teachers’ salaries– no, ed funding to Education First means to fund the priorities that precisely (coincidentally?) match Obama’s 2020 vision:  early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), workforce development (China-styled central planning) “community schools” (Obama’s vision to integrate healthcare with academics and with socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”) and standardized personalized learning (an oxymoron that cements Common Core academics and its data tags).

Don’t mistake this as a fight between tech lovers and tech haters.  None of the candidates for state school board are anti-technology, though the smart ones are pushing for improved laws governing student privacy in this modern age.

So what are Hughes and Niederhauser really saying when they say they’re for the pro-tech candidates?  What does that really mean?  That Utahns should sit back and let the ed tech sales industry, or businesses, sit in the driver’s seat for educational decision-making?  That’s the stated aim of Education First (in Utah) and of Obama’s 2020 (nationally) and, according to his Tribune quote above, it’s also the aim of President Niederhauser.

Education First doggedly, directly, lobbies citizens, governments, and school districts, to strong-arm their narrow vision, that businesses should “help” direct education.  They refer to my child and yours as the economy’s.  They call children “human capital” on their website.  This is, when ripe, the 1992 Hillary-Tucker dream coming true, with the collective economy dictating to the individual on the assembly line.

Education First wants a high “concentration of science and engineering occupations” in Utah, which you may or may not agree with; what I hope you do agree with is that this new, business – public ed partnershipping governance system, with business being handed power to influence schooling, when taken to the extreme, is fascism.  In fascism, there’s no distinction between government and business.  And the voter has no say.

Do we want to walk down that slippery slope?  Do we want the Education First business community to be given power in schools?

Whether promoting science and engineering at the expense of other subject and careers is the will of the people, or not, really doesn’t come in to the discussion. Prosperity 2020 has said that businesses will “provide a business oriented plan to improve results” for schools.

If Hughes or Niederhauser would respond to my emails to them, I would ask them this:  how is it any more helpful toward Constitutional local control–  if that is what you really want– to let businesses take over the driver’s seat for educators, as your financial backers aim to do, than for out of state (NEA) funding to call the same shots?  Either way, students and schools and voters lose personal freedoms to self-appointed experts who think they know best.

So when Niederhauser worries that “big money groups effectively buy the election,” he is right.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring in to NEA-UEA approved candidates’ purses should raise eyebrows.  But shouldn’t the same eyebrows rise too, seeing in-state big money groups like Education First and Prosperity 2020 now, as in the past, funding the pro-Common Core candidates –and funding Hughes and Niederhauser themselves– effectively buying the election in the very same way?

Meanwhile, none of the liberty-first, anti-Common Core candidates,  Alisa Ellis, Lisa Cummins, Michelle Boulter or Dr. Gary Thompson, are richly funded.   All they really have to stand on is true principles of liberty –and word of mouth.

Many voters know that Common Core is anti-local control.  The Governor almost lost in the primary to anti-Common Core challenger Jonathan Johnson because of this.  The Governor was repeatedly booed at political conventions this year because he had been such a promoter of the Common Core, prior to his turnaround.  What will the governor say about Niederhauser’s and Hughes’ current effort?  More importantly, what will voters say?

Dr. Gary Thompson, a district 10 candidate for state school board, said today:

“I was pleased the that the Speaker of the House and Senator Neiderhauser identified who the “anti common core” education candidates are in this election. I was pleased to be labeled as one of them. This provides a clear choice for members in the community to chose from as they please.  Comments made by the Speaker in regards to the UEA did not receive a prior endorsement by this campaign.  I look forward to having a professional, cordial discussion with my UEA endorsed opponent on September 28th regarding education issues that will affect our children in District 10″

For anyone wanting to watch the debates between state school board candidates, please check that schedule here. 

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Pictured below are the candidates for state school board that I endorse, whom the UEA, NEA, UTC, SIN, Senate President and House Speaker do not:

For true local control of education:

Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter, Lisa Cummins, Dr. Gary Thompson.

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lisa cummins

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The Enemy Inside: How #GoOpen, The Federal Learning Registry, and the U.S. Internet Throwaway Threatens Student Speech, Religion and Privacy   4 comments

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Recently, a friend mentioned that she was happy that Common Core was finally gone, and that we could finally look toward something better.

Why did she think the Common Core Initiative was over?  It’s grown.

But it’s hidden, for the most part.  Feds and states don’t use the term anymore because it’s so unpopular; in my state, they call it “Utah Core Standards” –although, if pressed, state school boards will admit that these are Common Core: they have to be, or they wouldn’t get federal funding.  Also, the D.C. legislators were told that the new federal law, ESSA, had gotten rid of Common Core and had returned control to states. How untrue that line was; the Department of Ed had just renamed it “Challenging State Academic Standards”.  Common Core standards and data tags are still in the driver’s seat for all the new movements in ed reforms:  from the #GoOpen Initiative, Open Educational Resources movment, and the Learning Registry to federal SETRA which is being voted on right now. Read on.

(Don’t get depressed.  We can take bold action to reclaim many of our lost freedoms.  We  know that pretending that everything is fine, or pretending that it’s too late or too difficult to change things, is wrong.  So choose the right.)

First, remember this: Common Core academics and data mining are utterly married. 

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The most “commonizing” thing about the Common Core Initiative was never the set of academic standards (“Common Core State Standards”- which have recently been federally renamed “Challenging State Academic Standards”.  We can call them anything we want as long as the feds can see that they still align to the data and testing programs so that we can be tracked.)

The most commonizing thing was the implementation of federal data standards, known as “Common Educational Data Standards” (CEDS).

In the screenshot below, we read that CEDS is a partnership that includes the federal Department of Education and the CCSSO (private co-copyright holders over the Common Core academic standards).  Whether you think the capacity for government to monitor free citizens over the course of our whole lives is good or bad, you can’t deny that that was and is the agenda of CEDS and SLDS.

This screenshot is the reason that I’ve never understood why so many say that Common Core has nothing to do with data collection, and  that saying so is a conspiracy theory; these are clearly conspiracy facts: the government conspired with the private trade group CCSSO to standardize educational data nationally –without allowing legislatures or voters to vote on the matter, simply by calling the initiatives voluntary and by using cash incentives to make the standardization initiatives  happen.  Money for both the academic standards and the data standards came from two main sources: unelected philanthropist Bill Gates, who profits wildly from the initiatives, and from the federal Dept. of Education.  Follow the money trails if you want to know what’s being built.

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Federally approved academic standards, bad as they are, can still be interpreted locally to some extent. Federal data standards, though, are like matching keys in matching locks: there’s only one way they’ll work, and that’s if they are exactly, precisely the same.

So CEDS standards are used in all fifty states’ database systems because the funding and instructions for construction of those systems using CEDS came from the feds.  CEDS standards are also used in the federal EdFacts Data Exchange.  They’re also used in the digital testing, whether it’s end of the year testing or embedded curricular testing, in every state.  They’re also mandated every time your state gets a new federal cash infusion for its State Longitudinal Database System.  If your state moves toward embedded tests in an effort to get rid of over high-stakes testing, as my state is, then CEDS will still be used and your child will still be tracked.  Now with the federal push for “Community Schools” that must share students’ medical and mental health data, combined with academic data, common data standards across agencies has become the federal “must”.

CEDS interoperability and standardization are the height of fashion and efficiency, but are also the death of individual flexibility and local control and citizen data privacy. Worse, the education reformers, both political and corporate, are not content to just standardize academic standards, testing, and data mining tags between states.  They also want to standardize these things globally.

(If humans were angels, this might not pose any problem.  The history of the human race, however, tells a sad tale of bullying and tyranny that has been significantly interrupted only by America’s noble founders.  Since we cannot trust human nature generally, the U.S. Constitution logically placed checks on human power, and placed balances against human ambition, so that individual freedom would not be deleted by the noble-or-not initiatives of bullies. Humans are not angels, and giving so much power to governmental– especially globally governed– entitites, is flat-out stupid. Where are your rights to freedom of speech, of religion, of conscience, when the Constitutional rights have been demoted in the move toward global citizenship, and global data mining?)

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The twin movements (of global content regulation over education and of global data standardization) are quickly apparent in these three things:

  1.  THE LEARNING REGISTRY  – a gateway for “approved” federal data and lessons, partnered with global data and ed systems; this is the main tool of the #GoOpen initiative.  The Learning Registry defines itself as “a new approach” to “sharing data” that aggregates information about the “publisher, location, content area, standards alignment, ratings, reviews, and more.”  It claims that finding educational resources and assessing their quality is a “burden” on educators.  That responsibility will be taken over, to unburden educators– by the federal dept. of ed working with the federal dept. of defense.  As much as I love to give and receive, I don’t want to share or have shared with me, educational content under the moral and educational “guidance” of the department of defense and of education.  Appealing to my sense of altruism is not going to help.   Ironically, Midgely admits that the love of money is the root of #GoOpen.  At minute 13:52 in that video, he says, “to be honest, there’s a lot of money to be made as well”.  He says that digital badges will be the common currency of K-20 and adult, corporate education.  Although Midgely says that “you don’t have to conform your data sets,” and “we accept native formats” and that the system is peer-based, not censored, I think: but it’s run by the federal government.  How is that peer-based?  Who runs the show? What happens, down the road, when an educational resource hasn’t been run through the registry filter?  Is it the orphaned, unusable resource?  This registry was designed by the Dept. of Education, by federal Deputy Director of Ed Tech, Steve Midgely (whose video about the registry is here. ) Is it not weird that this learning registry is co-created by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education?   And that its global partners include the “federated community” of the Soros-partnered Ariadne in Europe; the Global Grid for Learning, a Gates baby; the U.N.’s OER and more?  Is this registry going to marginalize traditional, classical books and lessons even further than Common Core’s glorification of “informational text” did to English literature?  Remember:  Common Core never outlawed Shakespeare, but it endorsed informational text reading in the English classrooms to the point that many public schools today have no room for much Shakespeare.  The endorsement of whatever the Learning Registry finds endorsable, will likely marginalize other content, if and when the registry becomes the new pink.  Endorsement means the feds are picking winners and losers.  go-open-oer-used
  2. THE #GoOPEN INITIATIVE – the name of the federal campaign serving the learning registry.  For it, the federal Dept. of Ed is proposing a regulation to make it impossible to receive federal funds for any curriculum building that doesn’t fit in with the registry and #GoOpen.  Local ideas for public education will not be funded if not in line with the registry and the campaign to #GoOpen.  (Utah is one of the main guinea pigging states in #GoOpen. Not proud of that claim to fame.)godi-800
  3. TRANSFER OF THE INTERNET FROM THE U.S. TO THE GLOBALISTS – Sept. 30, 2016 is Obama’s date to make that reality. Have you read the letter from a tiny handful of Republican legislators that exposes the huge mistake this transfer will be for liberty?   The internet is now used by the whole world, but it is an American national treasure, and its key operating functions were funded by U.S. taxpayers.  Why give authority over the Internet away?  The letter points out that transferring power over the Internet away from the U.S. will “greatly endanger Internet freedom” (look at how countries like China and Iraq censor the writings of their citizens online.) It points out that it will “significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the internet.”  It also points out that U.S. taxpayers funded the key operating functions of the internet.  The supreme law of our land, that upholds freedom from censorship and freedom of religion, can not exist in the soon to be globally-governed internet future.  What will happen to the ways in which we learn, if the Internet is to be controlled by countries who do not prize free thought?

 

Recurring Nightmare – Action Needed- Sign Federal Public Comment Form by Sept 9   9 comments


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Like a recurring nightmare, Race to the Top 2.0 is here.

Race to the Top #1 is an ugly story from 2009 that some Americans might not know.  Picture the Federal Department of Money riding in a buggy, driven by the Secretary of Education.  There are 50 horses (taxpaying states) pulling his load, and 5o sticks (RTTT grants and data systems) with 5o carrots (RTTT monies) dangling in front of each horse.  Carved into each carrot is the word “Race to the Top” to make the horses feel noble, and not embarrassed about so lustily chasing the cashcarrots, because the horses can then say that they only chased the cashcarrots to improve education.

But it was never, ever about improving education.  It was about implementing a labeling system for individuals, lifelong (with State-federal-corporate data tags) and it was about  controlling education from the top.   Regardless of what we are now calling Common Core (“Challenging State Academic Standards” is ESSA’s latest name) –it was the common data tags and systems that  married corporate greed to the federal power agenda by labeling individuals, tests and digital curricula uniformly, and nationwide (CEDS).

Race to the Top 1.0 dangled huge money lures in front of state education departments.  If the state boards of education took the bait, they might or might not ever see the cash, but the buggy drivers (feds) had successfully lured all the states into driving in the direction they wanted them to drive– and they only had to give out the money to a few “winners”.  (Utah was not a RTTT grant winner).

Where did they drive the states? In the direction of big “Fed Ed” –by signing on to Common Core standards, Common Educational Data Standards, State Longitudinal Database Systems, aligned tests and more.)

Now, United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) reports, we have to stop Race to the Top 2.0.

It isn’t called 2.0 by the feds, but instead is called the ridiculous title of:  The Elementary and Secondary Education Act as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority.  

What a name.  The anachronym would be TEASEAAABTESSAIADA.

Just call it  2.0.

It’s like the first Race to the Top  in its federal bribery, coercion, and control grabbing from states.

  • Like Race to the Top 1.0, it increases data mining of children without parental consent. 2.0 requires federal study of children’s data by peer reviewers including psychometricians and requires states to “collaborate” with federal data mining agents at the Institute of Educational Sciences.
  •  Like 1.0, it pushes federally aligned tests, but this time, states are encouraged to get away from parent-opt-out-able standardized tests by using other systems:  “an array of innovative assessments” which will likely mean stealth/gaming assessment.
  • Like 1.0, cements Common Core Standards but under the new name of “challenging State academic standards,” which are, of course, still aligned to the federal-corporate common data tags.
  • Like 1.0, it cements the use of student tracking and labeling via common data tags (CEDS).
  • And, as if federally aligned education was not “Big Brother” enough, it also promotes globally aligned education and data standards  and asks states to continue to use the  “Universal Design for Learning.
#ReinInTheKing

#ReinInTheKing

In USPIE’s recent blog post, we read more about these federally proposed regulations which must be commented upon LOUDLY AND FIRMLY by citizens, teachers, and legislators.   The deadline is September 9th for comment and that commenting link is here:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=ED-2016-OESE-0047-0001:

Before you comment, you could read this summary –provided by USPIE parents:  (footnotes documentation also below.)

“The following are specific areas in which the proposed regulations are egregious in their attempts to impose a common, Federal education system, stripping parents and SEAs of what little local control of education remains, and in many ways contradicts and undermines the law in which they are intended to provide guidance.

PROPOSED 200.76:

  • Clarifies that any innovative assessment design can be used as long as it meets the Department’s requirements and is aligned to the State’s “challenging academic standards.”

NOTE: In other words, only assessment designs aligned to Common Core and approved by the Department can be used. This is contrary to the meaning of “innovation,” and flies in the face of ESSA prohibitions.

  • Gives States “flexibility” by allowing them to choose computer-adaptive statewide tests, so long as they align to “challenging State academic standards,” and are approved by the Department.

NOTE: This gives the illusion of flexibility while still ensuring States’ assessment systems align to the Common Core State Standards. Furthermore, since 2013 countless computerized testing malfunctions have been recorded leaving invalid results and wasted classroom time.1

  • Requires applications to be peer reviewed to help the Secretary of Education determine whether an applicant will be able to successfully meet the requirements. The peer review panels will include “psychometricians” (psychometrics is the modeling of test taker responses (behavior) in response to items (situations),2“measurement experts,” and “researchers.”

NOTE: These peer review panel members will collect data on children’s behaviors while testing, which is well beyond the scope of assessing a child’s knowledge…

  • Requires applications to include a description of how a State’s innovative assessment demonstration will align to” challenging State academic standards.” NOTE: The Department is requiring States to align to the subpar Common Core State Standards in order to receive funding. Parents are not fooled by the rebranding.

 

PROPOSED 200.77:

  • Requires a State Educational Agency to prove it has collaborated with “experts” including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the lead Federal agency in charge of data collection, and in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative assessments.

NOTE: The entire mission of IES is to collect data on America’s school children and share it.3

  • Requires State Educational Agencies (SEAs) or consortia to ensure assessments are “accessible for all students including children with disabilities and English learners. An SEA may also incorporate the principles of Universal Design for Learning in developing its innovative assessments.”4

NOTE: Universal Design for Learning uses computerized assessment programs to track a child’s brain function.5

 

PROPOSED 200.78:

  • Is aligned with the principles of President Obama’s Testing Action Plan, as is much of the proposed regulations. The criterion of the President’s plan will help SEAs or consortiums to develop “an array of innovative assessments so that we may learn from a variety of models rather than establish a preference for one particular approach.”6

NOTE: Obama’s Testing Action Plan states that there are “other means” of measuring a student’s performance alongside assessments such as school assignments, portfolios, student surveys, school climate, etc. This will certainly encourage more surveys given in schools and lead to more data mining.7

  • Clarifies the selection criteria the Secretary will use to evaluate an application and permit the Secretary to provide Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority to an SEA or consortia of SEAs.

NOTE: Under ESSA, the federal government is prohibited from funding the development of assessments. 8

  • Requires SEAs to ensure that each Local Education Agency (LEA) has the technological infrastructure to implement the [aligned] testing system.

NOTE: This requirement will incentivize increased State spending in order to compete to receive Federal funds.  Very few states have the necessary technology9 to support the federally designed testing system, and ESSA prohibits the Federal Government from mandating “… a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.”10

  • Requires an SEA or each SEA in the consortium to annually report to the Secretary updates on the implementation of the innovative assessments. Definitions of innovative assessments may include: “cumulative year-end assessments, competency-based assessments, instructionally embedded assessments, interim assessments, or performance and technology-based assessments.”

NOTE: These types of assessments are based on the mastery/competency/performance based education model or blended learning where children will be assessed and data mined all day long electronically and through projects.11  The federal government is incentivizing states to implement computer adaptive, nationally-aligned assessments and education models through a pilot grant. This is all prohibited in ESSA.12

  • Requires States, for selection purposes, to include continuous improvement process assurances for “developing or improving balanced assessment systems that include summative, interim, and formative assessments, including supporting local educational agencies in developing or improving such assessments.”13

NOTE: Testing consortia providers such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium offer a complete assessment kit including formative (daily classroom testing tools through their digital library of computerized learning video games, etc.), interim, and summative assessments. As these new pervasive testing systems are incentivized by Federal funding, the potential of data mining will be expanded to all day long, every school day. As testing evolves into a daily activity embedded in the curriculum, the opt-out movement will die, and parents will lose more authority over their children’s education.

 

PROPOSED 200.79:

  • Requires States and consortia to annually measure the progress on the Academic Achievement indicator of at least 95% of all students.

NOTE: Under ESSA, States are still obligated to the 95% participation rate of the burdensome NCLB, but with even more restrictions as opt-outs are added into the rate and with punitive actions taken against schools with low participation rates.14

  • States an SEA may use their innovative assessment system for purposes of academic assessments and statewide accountability only after the Secretary determines whether an SEA’s innovative assessment system is of high quality.

NOTE: “No State shall be required to have academic standards approved or certified by the Federal Government in order to receive assistance under this Act” (ESSA).15

 

Works Cited

1   Computerized Testing Problems- Chronology:

http://fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-chronology

2 Improving Assessment: The Intersection of Psychology and Psychometrics:

(P. 4) http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RM-08-15.pdf

3 Institute of Education Sciences, Connecting Research, Policy and Practice:

https://ies.ed.gov/aboutus/

4 Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority; Proposed Rule: P. 44962

5 National Center on Universal Design for Learning, The Three Principles of UDL:

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl/3principles

6 Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority; Proposed Rule: P. 44967

7 U.S. Department of Education- October 24, 2015, Fact Sheet: Testing Action Plan:  http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-testing-action-plan

8 ESSA SEC. 8549A (a)(1); p. 865

9 “Are schools “tech-ready” for the Common Core Standards?”http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/technology-ready-for-the-common-core-tests/

10 ESSA SEC. 8549A (a)(1); p. 865

11 ESSA SEC. 1201 (2)(L); p. 209   

12 ESSA SEC. 8549A (a) and (b); pp. 865-866

13 ESSA SEC. 1201 (2)(F); p. 207

14 ESSA SEC. 1111 (4)(E); pp.87-88

15 ESSA SEC. 8527 (d)(1); p. 845-846


Thanks to USPIE parents !

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Local School Board Member Asks Parents to Take Action on Federal ESSA   1 comment

Wendy Hart, a star board member of my local district, Alpine School District, is so dedicated to transparency that she keeps a blog about her work.  I have permission to repost her important (latest) blog post  here.  Please read it, act, and share.

(Side note:  The Alpine School District Board is philosophically divided when it comes to a vote, with half of the board voting for local control and the other half voting for federally originated agendas.  This November, when local control voter and board member Brian Halladay steps down, voters will either replace him with local control supporter Rachel Thacker, or with federal agenda supporter Mark Clement.  I support Rachel Thacker.   Until November, we have these three who consistently vote in harmony with my own conscience:  Wendy Hart, Brian Halladay, and Paula Hill.)


Feds and Bonds

wendy

Guest Post by Wendy Hart

The ESSA public comment period has a deadline of Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
In December, 2015, Congress passed the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), nicknamed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  At the time, I said I was opposed to it, due to the 1 step forward, 2 steps backward attempt at ‘removing’ federal control in education.  I still believe ESSA to be a net negative (Yes, as bad or worse than NCLB).  However, those members of Congress who voted for it, generally, see the regulations that the US Dept of Ed have put out on ESSA to be an egregious overreach of the law, itself.  (Find the Regulations here:http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/index.html?src=essa-resources)

The biggest area of concern (and there are many) is the recommendation that schools with high opt-out rates of  Common Core testing be penalized.  See this article: http://longisland.news12.com/news/us-education-secretary-john-b-king-penalize-schools-with-high-rates-of-common-core-opt-outs-1.12031057

In June, I attended a training session on ESSA presented by the National School Boards Association (aptly titled: A New Federalism).  The presenter, an attorney, recommended that we work with our legislators to remove the ability of parents to opt their kids out of state testing.  The consequence, she said, would be to jeopardize our federal funding under ESSA.  So, the one avenue parents have to protest and to protect their students is under attack by the ‘new’ supposedly kinder, gentler, less-federal-encroachment law.  Additionally, I asked how they would be able to do this when some states, like Utah, for example, have opting out codified in state law, the state law predates ESSA, and under the 10th Amendment, the states would have jurisdiction in this area that the feds clearly do not.  Her response, paraphrasing, “Since the monies in ESSA are ‘voluntary’, you will not be able to get someone to challenge it on 10th Amendment grounds.”  In short, by taking the federal monies from ESSA, we are subverting state (and natural) law–voluntarily.

Also, the ESSA includes the ‘Family Fixing Policy’ as it is described by education blogger Peter Greene.  I wrote about this at the end of last year:

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/12/jan-4-2016-deadline-to-support-family.html  Nothing we want taking place in our state.  The concern is that if the Feds have the ability to (which it appears they do) to force states to do what they want, then the State Board will have no options (other than rejecting federal funding) in creating their ‘Family Engagement Plan’.  It will have to come very close to what the US Dept of Ed has proposed.

Incidentally, the NSBA presenter mentioned that the regulations overseeing how Special Education students are dealt with under ESSA were, to put it bluntly, a nightmare.  She said they were not out for public comment yet, but they were on the US Dept of Ed website.  I haven’t found them yet, but if you do, please let me know.

Take Action on ESSA:
1. An organization, US PIE (US Parents Involved in Education) has as its goal the elimination of the US Department of Ed.  It has drafted a letter to send to Congress.  You may add your name by emailing afew@uspie.org and asking to be added to the letter.  Include your name and title and state.
2. Comment on the US Dept of Ed regulations BY AUGUST 1 (MONDAY)!  https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=ED-2016-OESE-0032-0001
3. Contact your members of Congress and make sure they know the Dept of Ed is over-stepping it’s bounds.
4. If you like twitter, use the hashtag #ReignInTheKing and #StopFedEd

 

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2016/07/feds-and-bonds-summer-happenings.html

Thanks for your support!

Wendy

*********************************

 Wendy Hart also blogged about parents needing to participate in the upcoming board meeting, where a new bond would be voted upon (whether or not to place that decision on the ballot for voters to determine this fall).  See that here, too.

Common Core’s National Curriculum Has Arrived: “Learning Registry,” OER, and #GoOpen Initiatives   Leave a comment

Jane Robbins and Jakell Sullivan co-authored this article at Townhall.com, which is reposted here with permission.  Please note the links to learn more.  

 

oer commons

 

In May 2014, conservative columnist George Will warned that Common Core represented the “thin edge of an enormous wedge” and that “sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum.”

Will’s concern is now closer to realization. One lever the U.S. Department of Education (USED) may use to hasten this outcome is the #GoOpen Initiative, through which USED will push onto the states Common Core-aligned online instructional materials. These materials are “openly licensed educational resources” (Open Educational Resources, or OER) – online resources that have no copyright and are free to all users. Utah is part of the initial consortium of states that will be collaborating in #GoOpen.

 

usdoe

#GoOpen is part of a larger global and federal effort to institute OER in place of books and traditional education (in fact, USED appointed a new advisor to help school districts transition to OER). More disturbingly, another part of this scheme increases the federal government’s ability to monitor and track teacher and student use of these online resources – and perhaps even influence the content.

This outcome could result from a related, joint USED-Department of Defense initiative called the Learning Registry. The Registry is an “open-source infrastructure” that can be installed on any digital education portal (such as PBS) and that will facilitate the aggregation and sharing of all the linked resources on the Registry. The idea is to “tag” digital content by subject area and share on one site supposedly anonymous data collected from teacher users (content such as grade-level, recommended pedagogy, and user ratings). That way, Registry enthusiasts claim, teachers can find instructional content to fit their particular needs and see how it “rates.”

Putting aside the question whether USED should push states into a radical new type of instruction that presents multiple risks to students and their education (see here, here, and here), the Learning Registry threatens government control over curriculum. Here’s how.

USED has proposed a regulation requiring “all copyrightable intellectual property created with [USED] discretionary competitive grant funds to have an open license.” So, all online instructional materials created with federal dollars will have to be made available to the Registry, without copyright restrictions.

[Federal law prohibits USED from funding curricular materials in the first place, but this Administration’s violation of federal law has become routine.]

learning registry

The Registry will compile all user data and make “more sophisticated recommendations” about what materials teachers should use. So federal money will fund development of curricular materials that will be placed on a federally supported platform so that the feds can make “recommendations” about their use. The repeated intrusion of the word “federal” suggests, does it not, a danger of government monitoring and screening of these materials.

And speaking of “user data” that will fuel all this, the Registry promises user anonymity. But consider the example of Netflix movie ratings, in which two researchers were able to de-anonymize some of the raters based on extraordinarily sparse data points about them.

Despite Netflix’s intention to maintain user anonymity, its security scheme failed. How much worse would it be if the custodian of the system – in our case, USED – paid lip service to anonymity but in fact would like to know who these users are? Is Teacher A using the online materials that preach climate change, or does he prefer a platform that discusses both sides? Does Teacher B assign materials that explore LGBT issues, or does she avoid those in favor of more classical topics? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know.

In fact, in a 2011 presentation, USED’s bureaucrat in charge of the Registry, Steve Midgley, veered awfully close to admitting that user data may be less anonymous than advertised. Midgley said, “[Through the Registry] we can actually find out this teacher assigned this material; this teacher emailed this to someone else; this teacher dragged it onto a smart board for 18 minutes. . . .” [see video below].  The Registry will also use “the math that I don’t understand which [will] let me know something about who you are and then let me do some mathematical operations against a very large data set and see if I can pair you with the appropriate relevant resource.”

Sure, all this will supposedly be done anonymously. But teachers should hesitate to embrace something that could possibly reveal more about them than they bargained for.

USED would protest that this is all hypothetical, and that it would never abuse its power to influence teachers and control instructional content. But with this most ideological of all administrations, denials of ill intent ring hollow (remember Lois Lerner?). If the power is there, at some point it will be used. Never let an “enormous wedge” go to waste.

 

oer

 


Thank you, Jakell Sullivan and Jane Robbins, for this eye-opening report.

Join Us: U.S.P.I.E. to #ReinInTheKing Tonight – Sign Petition to Congress   Leave a comment

#ReinInTheKing

              #ReinInTheKing

It is one of the ironies of life that Secretary King’s name matches his actions as throne-sitter at the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Educsation.  As Secretary of Education, he has followed in the outrageous, extreme, fully socialist footsteps of his predecessor, Secretary Arne Duncan.

Tonight, U.S.P.I.E. (U.S. Parents Involved in Education) is pushing back, hosting a nationwide #StopFedEd twitter rally to raise awareness.

Join us.

Tweet about the outrageous encroachments of the Department of Education.  Tweet about our current Secretary, John King, also known as “The King of Common Core.”  You can learn more about Secretary King by reading posts  and articles that many have written, for years, about his education shenanigans.  (#ReinInTheKing)

king

Please join the rally at PJNET; click here.

Make some noise across the twittersphere.

Let the U.S. Department of Education know that millions of voters, teachers, parents and legislators aim to stop its monstrous agenda that wants to eliminate local control of schooling.  Let them know we are not blind to the unwanted  data gathering agenda, the teacher-stifling agenda, the collectivist agenda, nor the encroachments that abound in the new federal ESSA.  Let them know that we will not put our heads in the sand while Secretary King and his unconstitutional department has its heavy-fisted, unkind, unconstitutional way with our tax dollars and our children.

This is America; we, the people, standing on the U.S. Constitution, claim our rights and reject this King!  Tweet it, Facebook it, LinkedIn it, Pin it; share your voice.  We demand educational local control and liberty and true, high quality education.

Use the hashtags #ReinInTheKing and #StopFedEd, please.  If you want to find out more about USPIE, click here.   To join the twitter rally click here, or just tweet #ReinInTheKing and #StopFedEd, with whatever message you wish to send @ federal and state leadership

(Here’s one link to the twitter handles of the U.S. Congress, to get you started.)

images


For additional context:

Below is a letter to be delivered this week to the U.S. Congress.  It is written by U.S.P.I.E. and has been signed by pages and pages of names of leaders of U.S. organizations and individual teachers and parents and voters.  That official list of signers will be available soon, as the deadline is tonight.  If you want to be a signer, email Ms. Few at:      afew@uspie.org

Here is the letter:

United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), a nationwide, nonpartisan coalition of state leaders with thirty state chapters focused on restoring local control of education, do hereby submit opposition to the proposed regulations of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability and state plan rule-making. USPIE is joined in our dissent by many other local and national organizations with shared goals as cosigners to this letter.

As part of our opposition, we point to Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Lamar Alexander’s comments concerning ESSA, “…it prohibits Washington from deciding which schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.” As well, Senator Alexander states, “…the new law explicitly prohibits Washington from mandating or even incentivizing Common Core or any other specific academics standards.” These two quotes point directly to our opposition. As Senator Alexander explains, ESSA “prohibits Washington” from being entrenched in education. As detailed below, we find this to be untrue.

 

In a thorough review and analysis of the proposed regulations against the Act, written into law in January of 2016, we found five main areas where the requirements of the regulations supersede States’ rights as defined in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The five areas include: The Power of the Secretary of Education, accountability through data reporting, accountability through assessments, state plan requirements, and identification for targeted support and improvement. Below are bulleted concerns where we believe federal overreach impedes states’ rights. These beliefs correspond with specific sections of the proposed regulations.

 

THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION IS GRANTED MORE POWER OVER STATES

 

  • Proposed 299.13 allows the Secretary to control how States are to submit their education plans and the deadline by which they are to submit.
  • Proposed 299.13 states the Secretary is authorized to establish consolidated State Plan Programs, information about these programs, the materials needed for these programs, and to set all assurances for the programs for adherence.
  • The proposed regulations allow the Secretary to amend requirements for implementing Title I programs including requirements for States when submitting their State Education Plans.
  • Proposed 299.13 say if States make any changes to State Education Plans, the Secretary must approve.
  • 46 of ESSA: The Secretary can withhold funds if States fail to meet any of the State Plan requirements.

 

**Recommendation: The Secretary should not be allowed to amend requirements. Title I should be implemented as the law states, not how the Secretary thinks it should be carried out. States should not be bribed into complying with regulations issued from any government agency.

DATA REPORTING IS EXPANDED AT THE COST OF THE STATES

 

  • Proposed 200.20 gives States “flexibility” to average data across years or combine data across grades because averaging data across school years or across grades in a school can increase the data available as a part of determining accountability.
  • Proposed 200.20 will also require States who combine data across grades or years to also report data individually for each grade/year, use the same uniform procedure, and explain the procedure in the State plan and specify its use in the State report card.
  • ESSA is supposed to give flexibility and more control to States by decreasing the burden of reporting requirements. Proposed regulations 299.13 and 299.19 will expand data reporting for “States and LEAs in order to provide parents, practitioners, policy makers, and public officials at the Federal, State, and local levels with actionable data,” which will entail additional costs for States. These reports must include accountability indicators to show how the State is aligned with a College and Career Readiness Standard (Common Core).
  • Proposed regulations 200.30 and 200.31 will implement requirements in the ESSA that expand reporting requirements for States and LEAs “in order to provide parents, practitioners, policy makers, and public officials at the Federal, State, and local levels with actionable data,” and information on key aspects of our education.
  • Proposed 200.17 clarifies data disaggregation requirements. It states that the n-size used to measure test scores and graduation rates of any subgroup for state accountability purposes should not exceed 30 students.
  • Proposed 200.21 through 200.24 require LEA’s to include evidence-based interventions in order to receive improvement funds. Such interventions include the safe and healthy school environments and the community and family engagement plans.  These plans include the heavy use of surveys—student surveys and home surveys.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations, letting States decide subgroup size as ESSA states

**Recommendation: We recommend not expanding data collection. Along these lines, we recommend the federal government not collect data on children at all.

RIGOROUS STANDARDIZED TESTS ARE THE MEASUREMENT FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

(These regulations heavily incentivize keeping Common Core as State standards)

 

  • Proposed 200.12 will require a State’s accountability system to be based on the challenging State academic standards (Common Core) and academic assessments.
  • Proposed 200.13 will require States to establish ambitious long-term goals and measurements of interim progress for academic achievement that are based on challenging State academic standards (Common Core) and the State’s academic assessments.
  • Proposed 200.14 states assessments provide information about whether all students are on track to graduate “college-and-career-ready” (Common Core).
  • Proposed 200.15 will require States who miss the 95% participation requirement to: a) be assigned a lower rating (200.18); b) be assigned the lowest performance level under State Academic Achievement (200.14); c) be identified for target support and improvement (200.19); and d) have another equally rigorous State-determined action, as described in its State plan, which the Secretary has to approve.
  • States who miss the 95% would be required to develop and implement improvement plans that address the law participation rate and include interventions.
  • Proposed 200.15 will require States to explain in its report card how it will factor the 95% participation rate requirement into its accountability system. (This is not flexibility; this is the government telling States what to do.)
  • Proposed regulations will ensure that States who fail to meet the 95% rate have rigorous actions taken (lower rating, identified for targeted support/improvement), providing incentive for schools to ensure all students take the annual State assessments.
  • Proposed 200.18 requires each school to receive a single “summative” grade or rating, derived from combining at least 3 of the 4 indicators used to measure its performance. Further, the regulation “forbids” states from boosting school’s rating if it has made substantial improvement in the 4th non-academic category.
  • Proposed 200.15 requires states to intervene and/or fail schools who do not meet the 95% participation rate on the state test.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend letting states determine their own rating system and choose other indicators of school performance.

**Recommendation: We recommend taking emphasis off Common Core aligned assessments and giving teachers the freedom to teach.

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations as it violates the provision of the ESSA to recognize state and local law that allow parents to opt-out their child from participating in the state academic assessments.

STATE PLAN REQUIREMENTS

 

  • Proposed 299.13 will establish procedures and timelines for State plan submission and revision and the Secretary is authorized to approve revisions.
  • Proposed 299.14 to 299.19 will establish requirements for the content of consolidated State plans.
  • Proposed 299.16 will require States to demonstrate that their academic standards and assessments meet federal requirements.
  • Proposed 299.19 will require states to describe how they are using federal funds to provide all students equitable access to high-quality education and would include program-specific requirements necessary to ensure access.
  • Proposed 299.13 outlines requirements for an SEA to submit in order to receive a grant. The state must submit to the Secretary assurances in their plan including “modifying or eliminating State fiscal and accounting barriers so that schools can easily consolidate funds from other Federal, State, and local sources to improve educational opportunities and reduce unnecessary fiscal and accounting requirements”.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations and allowing States to establish State plan procedures and timelines.

IDENTIFICATION FOR TARGETED SUPPORT AND IMPROVEMENT

 

  • Proposed 200.15 will require subgroups (homeless, military, foster, etc.) to adhere to the 95% participation rate along with their peers.
  • Proposed 200.19 will provide parameters for how States must define “consistently underperforming.”
  • Proposed 200.24 grants States additional funds for low performing LEAs but instructs how States must use these funds.
  • Proposed 299.17 will include State plan requirements related to statewide school support and improvement activities.
  • Proposed 200.24 says if schools do not show improvement by a set time, SEAs may take additional improvement actions including: a) replacing school leadership; b) converting to a charter school; c) changing school governance; d) implementing new instructional model; or c) closing the school. This is called, “whole school reform.”
  • Proposed 200.19 and 200.23 also talk about the use of whole school reform.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend giving States the power to define schools which “consistently underperform” and allowing States to decide appropriate improvement activities.

We, the undersigned, agree to these points and respectively ask Congress to reconsider the regulations as written. Our suggestion is the regulations are retracted and either rewritten so they closer align with the law or they are completely discarded and States are left to interpret the law as they see fit.

 

Lastly, USPIE leadership is more than willing to meet and discuss these points, our recommendations, and solutions with any Congressional member at a time and place convenient to them. Like you, we would like to see education brought to a level where all children, teachers, schools, and communities succeed.

 

With utmost respect and regards,

 

Sheri Few, President

United States Parents Involved in Education

 

Tracie Happel, President

South Carolina Parents Involved in Education

 

Lynne Taylor, President

North Carolina Parents Involved in Education

 

Ida Frueh, President

North Dakota Parents Involved in Education

 

 

 

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

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

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

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

       Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

LDS Church to Independently Teach Both Religious and Secular Education Classes   148 comments

ces

 

This is very good, very big news.

Even though the fight for freedom in education is fought by freedom-loving people of many different religions, I share this great news, which comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping it will inspire other people and other churches as it has inspired me.

In February 2016, in an all-employee meeting at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, the Commissioner of Education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kim B. Clark, gave an address, “CES: The Lord’s Educational System for His Church”.

The 54-minute talk can be viewed here.

Elder Clark announced that the church is launching a new initiative in fall 2016 that will eventually offer secular and religious education courses, from Master’s degrees down to high school, to people wherever the church is organized.

Elder Clark began by saying, “Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives, whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we have, whatever strength of commitment or consecration we have, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours, whatever level of professional skill or ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead.  Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now, in every aspect of our lives.  The scriptures teach us that the world is now, and will be, in commotion and we can see it all around us. Wickedness and darkness will increase.  It seems hard to imagine, but it will.  Yet in that darkening world, there’ll be increased light, divine light.  The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation.  It’s a greater work than we’ve ever done before…  The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in his true and living church.  He’s hastening his work.”  (minute 2-3)

He said that last October, the presidents of the Church’s universities counseled together and then proposed a new initiative that was soon approved by the church leaders. (minute 13-14)

It is this: “The Church Educational System (CES) will seek to provide opportunities for education to the members of the church wherever the church is organized.

The church has long operated universities, seminaries, institutes, education weeks, high school classes through its universities and through its churches.  But now, the Church will be rolling out a new program that will use all its resources to increasingly provide both secular and religious education to all its members, wherever the church exists.   Elder Clark speaks of Master’s degrees down through high school classes being offered, both online and inside church buildings; I hope, and guess, that in the future, junior high and elementary classes will also be offered.

At minute 16:37, we learn that the first principle for the church’s new initiative is:

“Education is a spiritual experience”.  It explains, “Education– the struggle for perfection– is a spiritual experience and is essential for building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion. Religious instruction, gathering experiences and a spiritual focus to online learning will be essential.”

The second principle is: “The initiative will be a collaborative, system-wide effort involving all CES institutions.  We will also partner with Self Reliance Services (SRS) and other Church departments as appropriate and will build as much as possible on resources, courses and programs that already exist”.

The third principle is:  “Instruction will be delivered online and in local gathering activities at Institutes and chapels.  Study at local schools, combined with religious education at an Institute, is an important part of this initiative.”

The fourth principle is:  “Students will access programs through their local Church units, guided by priesthood leaders, supported by CES and Self Reliance Services.”  Elder Clark emphasized the fact that these classes are to be held under the direction of local priesthood leaders; he added:  “We felt really strongly about this.”

Even though Elder Clark said, “We’re talking about a global audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands,” (minute 44) he felt it was important to make this educational program locally driven by local leaders.

In closing, Elder Clark reminded us that Ephesians 6:12 states:  “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  He asked those in attendance to rise to the challenge, to repent daily, and to meet the great opportunities and responsibilities before us by receiving greater spiritual power from Christ.

He said, “The rising generation in this marvelous worldwide church needs education, including the plain and simple truths of the gospel…. the rising generation will learn deeply and they will rise up.  We know this will happen.”

What a great message.  What great news.

 

 

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Elder Kim B. Clark

 

Dr. Thompson to USOE: Stop Lying to Legislators; UCLA Never Validated SAGE Test   1 comment

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State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.

The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”.   The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech  which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.

Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th  interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.

While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA.  CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR  (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor).  That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.

That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing.  It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director.  Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.

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Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing.  The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report.  The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE.  But it wasn’t true.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.

He said:  “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’.  This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”

Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth.  But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.

Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference?  Phone: 801-538-7500  Address:  250 East 500 South  PO Box 144200 SLC UT  Email:  stateboard@schools.utah.gov

Thompson family

Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:

 

Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],

I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:

 “The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”

As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses  “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test.   This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.

I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study.   Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity.   I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim. 

As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response.   The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/

Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.

I am going to keep this short and sweet:  

Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:

 

1.  Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”?  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)

2.  Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test.  Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/)   Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?

3.  Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf )  How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?

4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years?  Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?

5.  Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents?  Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”

When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.  

In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.   

Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.”   This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.   I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.

In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.  It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.    

Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future.  Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.

Best regards;

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education

www.vote4drgary.com   

 

 

Don’t Vote for “Education First” (Common Core) Candidates!   8 comments

My friends and neighbors are receiving mailers this week that look like this.

When my husband saw this, he said, “So what? What’s so bad about Education First?”

Glad he asked.

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Here’s the short version:  Education First = Common Core.  

If you love Common Core and federal-corporate takeover of local control, vote for Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert.  That’s what they and their funders, Education First, stand for, and will be pressured to vote for.  Past legislative sessions have shown this to be the case, in the very own words of the co-chairs of Education First.

If you love local control of education, with local children (not monied lobbyists) being put first, vote for Johnson, Greene, Voeks and Philpot.

These are in my area; ask any Utah candidates if they’ve accepted money from Education First.

If they have, they are either ignorant and thus incompetent to see through the maze of deceptions they’ll encounter as legislators, or they really believe in the idealogy of the Common Core.

Please vote for candidates Jonathan Johnson (Governor), Brian Greene (UT Rep), Casey Voeks (UT County Commissioner) and Morgan Philpot (State Senate) –each of whom refused Education First money– instead of candidates Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert (who are all paid campaign babies of Education First).

Here’s the longer explanation:

In 2012, Education First sent out a letter to every legislator in the state of Utah.  A legislator showed me his letter, and I posted much of it.

The letter told legislators that Education First had, and would continue, to “champion Common Core implementation”  with “consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core“.

It also explained that Education First had partnered with Governor Herbert’s “Prosperity 2020” movement –which is modeled after Obama’s 2020 movement– to put business-governmental financial partnerships first– but they call this, instead, putting “education first”.

The Education First letter said, “Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business-led education movement in state history.”

There’s a big problem with Education First “leading” and promoting workforce alignment to K-12, especially in “partnership” with the government.

If Susie Q. wants to be an entrepreneur or a ballerina, Big Business has no business pushing her into truck driving or computer coding –even if,  during Susie Q’s high school years, the business sector says it needs more truck drivers or coders.

That’s central planning, and it’s un-American.

Big business, in partnership with big government, wants to make pathways for children based on “robust assessment”.  Ugh!  Can you say China?

Why should free, American children be pressured and funneled into  career paths determined by central planners (governmental-business forecasts)?  Since when is the American Dream to be determined by others, and not by individual Americans?   That’s the “citizens are grains of rice and the collective consumes the rice bowl” mentality.

What can we expect from Herbert, Haynie, Hemmert, and others who have taken large sums of money from the Education First lobby?

Let’s look at the evidence.

The co-chairs of Education First co-wrote a Salt Lake Tribune opinion editorial this March, praising the legislature for funding many of the bills for which Education First had lobbied, including bills for: workforce development (which is China-styled central planning) early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), personalized learning (which is a euphemism for digital everything; impersonal, privacy-killing “learning”) and community schools (which is Obama’s socialistic vision that integrates healthcare with academics and socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”).  Is that what you want?  Not me!

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2014 that Governor Herbert (whose baby is Prosperity 2020, the partner of Education First) had appointed Rich Kendall (the co-chair of Education First) to assess the pros and cons of the Common Core in 2014.  So no one should have been surprised to find out that Kendall’s committee found the Common Core to be “sound, legal and rigorous”.  Were Kendall’s and Herbert’s Common Core committee’s findings correct?

Not according to the the Utah GOP which found quite the opposite, announcing that  Common Core was:   “a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between … unelected boards and consortia” that “violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a… (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS)…  pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted,  penalties including loss of funds”.

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There is a big problem with Education First loving and promoting Common Core as if it were good for everyone, as if it weren’t suffocating innovation for localities and teachers, as if the Utah GOP wasn’t officially opposed to it.  There’s also a big problem with Education First trying to lead education, marginalizing local citizens because their “leadership” means siphoning off most education dollars from teachers and students toward big ed tech sales companies, while setting up data mining programs approved by federal (unconstitutional) initiatives (not approved by moms and dads.)

 

Since Education First gives huge marketing dollars to newbie candidates like Dan Hemmert and Xanie Haynie and to incumbents like Gary Herbert, we naturally see their billboards EVERYWHERE, and far fewer billboards for the stalwart, unbought candidates: Morgan Philpot, Brian Greene, Casey Voeks and Jonathan Johnson.

Education First invests huge money in the candidates that they foresee being able to control when they are in the legislature, so that later, Education First can make more big money, all at our expense and at the expense of our children.

See through this, please.

I have personally spoken, face to face, with the Education First-funded candidates. They are nice people; this is NOT a personal attack.  I would be happy to be their neighbors or co-workers or dog-walkers.  But I am totally unwilling to let them put their hands on the levers of real power –when I can see that they either don’t understand, or lack a healthy fear, of what Education First lobbies and promotes.

 

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

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

 

Video: State School Board Candidate Michelle Boulter at State Capitol Rally – “Elevating Education: Common No More”   Leave a comment

At Saturday’s rally at the State Capitol, “Elevating Education:  Common No More,” Michelle Boulter spoke as a candidate for Utah State School Board in District 15 (St. George area).

Here’s her campaign site.

Here is her speech.  (You’re going to love it!):

 

Frank Strickland: Video Speech from Elevating Education Rally for State School Board Candidates   Leave a comment

Geologist Frank Strickland is running for State School Board; he’s definitely my pick for district 7.  See his campaign site here.  If you live in Park City or Salt Lake City, please vote for Frank.

On Saturday, he gave the following speech at the “Elevating Education:  Common No More” rally at the state capitol building.   Enjoy and share!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Full rally speech:

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

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

I’m running for state school board because when it came to discussing meaningful education policy concerns with my Superintendent I was told WE HAVE NO local CONTROL. We have to do what the state tells us to do. He even went s