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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

 

 

 

 

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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   7 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.)

 

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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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