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

Update on Common Science Standards in Utah   Leave a comment

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.)

 

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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
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 In my next blog post,  I will respond to the question of “What’s wrong with NGSS common science?”

 

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

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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.

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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.

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