Archive for the ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah’ Category

Stanley Kurtz: Drilling Through the Core   2 comments

I can’t wait to read Drilling Through the Core.

I’m sharing this brand new book before reading it myself, because I know these authors and I’ve read their work, making it a must-read for me.

You can check out the book’s review at:  The Corner (National Review) by Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Buy the book  here.


 white Book cover isolated on plain background
Kurtz’ review of Drilling Through the Core says:    “It’s all here, from the most basic explanation of what Common Core is, to the history, the major arguments for and against, and so much more. The controversies over both the English and math standards are explained; the major players in the public battle are identified; the battle over Gates Foundation’s role is anatomized; the roles of the tests and the testing consortia are reviewed; concerns over data-mining and privacy are laid out; the dumbing-down effect on the college curriculum is explained; as is the role of the Obama administration and the teachers unions. I found the sections on “big data” particularly helpful. I confess that despite my considerable interest in Common Core, I hadn’t much followed the data-mining issue. Boy was that a mistake. It strikes me that the potential for abuse of personal data is substantially greater in the case of Common Core than in the matter of national security surveillance. With Common Core we are talking about databases capable of tracking every American individual from kindergarten through adulthood, and tremendous potential for the sharing of data with not only government but private groups…
    Read more at:



Fake Research Used to Remove Authority From States Over Special Education Testing and Curriculum   4 comments




The US Department of Education created a “Final Rule” under the new No Child Left Behind to take away constitutional local control; this time, control of special education tests and standards.  It said:


The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards…

Dr. Gary Thompson, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has exposed the non-validity of the Common Core tests themselves, has now written an analysis of the federal “Final Rule” entitled “Primum Non Nocere: First Do No Harm.”

(Please share “Primum Non Nocere,” or this introduction to it with legislators and school board members, and especially with US Congressmen who voted FOR the NCLB reauthorization –under the premise that it would not harm parental nor local control but was supposed to “reduce the federal footprintOrrin Hatch and virtually the entire US Congress bought that talking point.)

Dr. Thompson was furious that the Final Rule of NCLB, which takes effect September 15, 2015,  forces special education students to take the same tests and to use the same curriculum that all other students take, based on cited research studies of the U.S. Dept. of Education –studies that are ludicrously far from being valid.  (More on that, below.)  He was even more infuriated when he discovered that the research studies were unapplicable, or fake.

In a follow-up post to the “Primum Non Nocere” analysis, Dr. Thompson made all of this fake research much  easier to wrap our brains around with this analogy: Imagine that a parent takes a very sick child to the doctor’s office and the doctor prescribes eating “Froot Loops” three times each day while watching SouthPark episodes.  The doctor cites research to support this course of action, taken from the journal of gynecology, and expects the parent to comply.




Dr. Thompson finds this as ludicrious, and so he has put into more readable language what the US Department of ED decreed –and remember, this decree takes effect September 15, 2015:

1. All learning-disabled students can become grade level scholars with no differentiated learning– they just need great teaching and great supports.

2. The new testing (Common Core/SAGE) is valid for ALL students with ALL learning disabilities.

3. These new tests are so good that we don’t need alternative or modified tests.

4. The ONLY thing reading and math disabled students need, to become grade level scholars, are good teachers.

5. These new tests are so perfect that they were designed specifically to perfectly measure academic achievement in ALL learning-disabled children.

6. States and ground-level teachers have denied proper instruction for divergent-learning students; therefore, we no longer need individual states to make special tests, because now special education students will be saved by the new Common Core Standards.


In “Primum Non Nocere,” Dr. Thompson read through each of these USDOE decrees,  went to the cited research journal itself, and dug around.

He pointed out that in every case, the research was either directly paid for by the USDOE and its partners, or it did not qualify as research because it had never been peer reviewed, or it tested one age or ability grouping of children but applied the findings to a different age or ability grouping;  or the decree/claim was not even linked to any research study whatsoever.

Below are just three sample highlights from Dr. Thompson’s “Primum Non Nocere” that stood out as I read the 44-page analysis.

I hope this seems important enough to study more closely and to share with your senators and representatives; Dr. Thompson is calling for a Congressional hearing on this, the US Department of Education’s obviously false use of research, which it used to fraudulently justify taking away local authority over our special education children.

I hope that our nation is not so numb to morality that we no longer care to prosecute deceit and fraud– especially even when it concerns innocent, disabled children.



THREE HIGHLIGHTS from Primum Non Nocere:


US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number One:

To support the Department’s decree, that special education students don’t need special education, it cited a 2010 research journal article: “Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A MetaAnalysis.”  Dr. Thompson went to that research journal.

Guess what he found there?

  • That research didn’t include kindergarteners through fifth graders–  no elementary school aged children were studied!  Most of the students were in eighth grade.  –Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to all students.
  • The “study” was paid for by the US Department of Education.
  • Math and reading weren’t included.  The studies used science, social studies, and English; and, only 10% of those studies actually reported on English at all.  –Yet the Department includes math and reading in its approved Common tests, to be applied to all, now including special education students.
  • Most of the students included in the meta-analysis were of average I.Q.  Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to special education.
  • Virtually none of the students were behaviorally or emotionally disturbed (only 4%)  Yet the Department is applying their conclusion to special education students who are behaviorally or emotionally disturbed.
  • It was not an original research study.  It was a holistic, literary study of other studies.
  • Demographics were lacking, so nobody knows how these studies impact children who come from groups who historically test very poorly.


US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Two:

To support the Department of Education’s decree that special education students will benefit from taking Common Core/SAGE tests,  it claimed that “new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment”.

Guess what Dr. Thompson found?

  • There was no research study cited.
  • There was no evidence given.
  • The claim that these new tests have been designed to be fair and valid and reliable for special education students, is utterly baseless.
  • Not one of the Common Core testing consortia, funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (such as SBAC, PARCC, and AIR which designs Utah’s SAGE test) have published independently reviewed validity data on special education students (or any students for that matter).



US Department of Education Fraudulent Conclusion – Number Three:

To support the Department’s decree that “alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed,” the Department cited a  study that (surprise) was also paid for by the US Department of Education– in partnership with the CCSSO, the group that co-created Common Core.  This study was never peer-reviewed, and thus qualifies as propaganda rather than real scientific research.



Other studies, that were also used as references by the USDOE, openly urgedcaution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants,” and warned: “no instructional method, even those validated using randomized control studies, works for all students” — serious cautions that the USDOE clearly did not heed.

Dr. Thompson has called for a congressional hearing:

If the U.S. Department of Education’s force feeding of “Fruit Loops”to our public school children (especially with our vulnerable divergent learning and minority children & teens, all justified via the use of “gynecology” research,) does not justify an immediate Congressional Hearing, I honestly don’t know what the hell else would justify that action.   My four, soon to be five children, are more important, and deserve more attention, than Benghazi, or Hillary Clinton’s alleged misuse of government email servers.






I urge you to read all of the findings of USDOE fraudulent use of citations, as discovered in “rimum Non Nocere“.  These were only three highlights of many sobering points.


Primum Non Nocere: Dr. Gary Thompson on USDOE Final Rule for Special Education   3 comments


Primum Non Nocere:  First Do No Harm

An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of the U.S. Department of

Education’s Change in Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning

Children in Public Schools

by Dr. Gary Thompson

Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center

10757 S. Riverfront Pkwy. #275 South Jordan, Utah 84095

Phone: 385-900-4020





Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.

As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics.   Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.

We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.

The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.

This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.

Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.

We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.

Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children. May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.




Wendy Hart & Brian Halladay:

Alpine District school board members whose intellect and courage, in the face of much ridicule and derision, have been an inspiration to thousands of parents nationwide.

Colorado public school teacher Peggy Robertson:

Ms. Robertson’s courageous stance against high stakes, experimental achievement testing on behalf of poverty stricken African American and Latino youth in America, set the tone nationwide for public school teachers to find their voices.

2016 Utah Gubernatorial Candidate Jonathan Johnson & Staff:

For challenging the current incumbent so that ground level parents and teachers can best meet the needs of students, as opposed to serving corporate and political interests.

Parents, educators and advocates in the States of New York & Florida:  Positive proof that opposition to increased high stakes testing  is a culturally and politically diverse endeavor.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Francis Thompson:

Her creative and ethical service to children in our community, as well as her own large contingent of children/teens in her own home, has been inspirational.


Media Inquiries:

Please direct all inquiries for media requests, interviews, or commentary to Mr. Brook Wardle, Chief Operations Officer/Spokesperson for Early Life Psychology, via email ONLY:



Guide to Content:

Eight direct statements were examined from the U.S. Department of Education’s August 2015 Rule titled: “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged: Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities.”

Every factual statement written by the USDOE that was referenced and cited to peer reviewed research as support for the policy changes was examined separately under the heading of “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACT #     .”

All eight “USDOE STATEMENT OF FACTS” were directly copied and pasted from the “Rule” to this review document. The statement of fact will be quickly and concisely reviewed and evaluated under the following subheadings:


  1. Research cited to support USDOE’s factual statement: A direct citation of the research cited by USOE is provided.
  2. Scope & Limitations of USDOE Cited Research: The size and conceptual scope of the research, and cautionary limitations of the cited research, often quoted directly by authors.
  3. Summary & Conclusion:  A straightforward, brief summary analysis to determine if the research cited by the U.S.D.O.E. was relevant and supporting of the factual statement.
  4. Prior to presenting the Department of Education’s eight “statements of facts”, we have copied and pasted the Department’s “Summary” and “Background” sections of the Rule for your brief review. That full 8-page ruling can be found at this link
  5. This review will close with a concluding message to all stakeholders in public school education, and a reference to several applicable American Psychological Association (APA) statements of ethics.





“Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities”


Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services


Final regulations.


The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities.

In order to make conforming changes to ensure coordinated administration of programs under title I of the ESEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Secretary is also amending the regulations for Part B of the IDEA.


These regulations are effective September 21, 2015.


In 2007, the Department amended the Title I regulations to permit States to define modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities and to assess those students with alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards. The Department promulgated those regulations based on the understanding that (1) there was a small group of students whose disabilities precluded them from achieving grade-level proficiency and whose progress was such that they would not reach grade-level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students, and (2) the regular State assessment would be too difficult for this group of students and the assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards would be too easy for them. 72 FR 17748 (Apr. 9, 2007). In addition, at that time, the Department acknowledged that measuring the academic achievement of students with disabilities, particularly those eligible to be assessed based on modified academic standards was an area “in which there is much to learn and improve” and indicated that “[a]s data and research on assessments for students with disabilities improve, the Department may decide to issue additional regulations or guidance.” 72 FR 17748, 17763 (Apr. 9, 2007).




  1. States may no longer define modified achievement standards for the vast majority of divergent learning students in public schools.


  1. States may no longer develop alternative assessments based on modified achievement standards (with the exception of a small percentage of children ill- defined and labeled “severely cognitively impaired”).


  1. Prior April 2007 modifications allowed such action under the premise that students with disabilities would not reach grade level achievement standards in the same time frame as other students.


  1. Prior April 2007 modifications allowed testing modifications under the premise that students with disabilities would find the regular State Assessments too difficult.
  2. Prior April 2007 modifications stated that “as addition data and research was obtained in the future on tests for students with disabilities, the Department “may decide to issue additional regulations for guidance”. (72 FR 17748, 17763 (Apr. 9, 2007).



The Department of Education now requires that states can no longer modify academic standards for students with disabilities (with the noted “exception” of the most cognitively impaired special education students), nor can states develop alternative assessments for those modified assessments.he Department of Education justified these new rule modifications from the prior 2007 rules based on new research that it claims supports the idea that all students with disabilities can perform on the same grade level as traditional students, and that students with disabilities can be tested fairly on the same test used by traditional students.   An examination of the claims of the USDOE, and its research, which the Department says supports these claims, are outlined in the next section.




Since these regulations went into effect, additional research has demonstrated that students with disabilities who struggle in reading and mathematics can successfully learn grade-level content and make significant academic progress when appropriate instruction, services, and supports are provided.”

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #1:


Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, J. (2010). Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta- Analysis. Remedial and Special Education, 31(6), 437-449.


Scope & Limitations of USDOE Cited Research:



  1. Meta Analysis of existing research; not an original research study:

(“To address these issues, we conducted a comprehensive literature search and synthesis”) P.437

  1. Criterion for inclusion in this study did not include elementary students from Kindergarten to grade 5:

(“Included in this meta-analysis were original content area intervention studies that included data on secondary aged students with disabilities for which standardized mean difference effect sizes could be computed. Students were considered secondary if they were identified as attending classes in middle schools, junior high schools, or high schools.”) (P. 438).

  1. Content areas examined for this study were limited to only science, social studies, and English. Math and reading were not included in this meta-analysis:

(“Content area interventions included content relevant to any area within science (e.g., chemistry, biology), social studies (e.g., history, geography), or English.). P.438


  1. The mean grade level of participants reviewed was 8th grade:


(“Of the 67 studies (95.7%) that provided grade-level information, students were enrolled at a mean grade level of 8.3 (SD = 1.5). p. 439


  1. The mean I.Q. level of reported participants was “Average”:

(The 42 (60.0%) studies that included IQ information reported a mean sample

IQ of 91.2 (SD = 7.2).) P.439


  1. Only 4.3% of the students examined in the Meta analysis were categorized as emotionally/behaviorally disturbed:


“(Including students with emotional/behavioral dis- abilities (4.3%).). P. 439


7.). Only 50% of the studies examined reported data on race/ethnicity. The studies that reported data on race and ethnicity were not sufficient in number to warrant substantive conclusions:


(“These proportions overrepresented Caucasian students (61.7%) and underrepresented African American (20.5%), Hispanic (14.6%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.9%) students (USDOE, 2005)”.). P. 440


  1. Only 10% of the studies examined reported subject matter data on English:


(“More studies were conducted in the area of science (40.0%), followed by social studies (34.3%), English(10.0%) ). P. 440


  1. Researcher’s state that “unfortunate” limitations of this study are the lack of demographic variables:


(“It was unfortunate to note that not all studies reported important demographic variables, such as gender and race/ ethnicity. Such information can provide information regarding whether research samples are representative of the students placed in special education today.) P. 445


  1. The study was paid for by the USDOE:


(“Research for this article was supported in part from grants from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, numbers H325D020020, H325D070008, and H324C020085.)


Summary & Conclusion:

This peer-reviewed study cited by the USDOE, as “evidence” that all special education students “struggling in reading and mathematics” can “successfully learn grade level content,” is a claim that is clearly not supported.   Specifically, the subject of math was not examined, no Kindergarten through Grade 5 students were part of this meta-analysis, and an extremely limited number of emotionally disabled, African American, Latino, or Pacific Islanders were examined.   The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education.



In addition, nearly all States have developed new college- and career-ready standards and new assessments aligned with those standards. These new assessments have been designed to facilitate the valid, reliable, and fair assessment of most students, including students with disabilities who previously took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards.”


Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #2:


Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:




Summary & Conclusion:


Not one of the Common Core testing consortia funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (SBAC, PARCC, AIR) who designed these new Common Core assessments, has published independently reviewed validity data on special education students (or any students for that matter).

“Validity”, simply put, is the process of providing empirical evidence that a designed test performs as it’s stated purpose.

In the absence of such documentation, it is reasonable to conclude that the USDOE of educations statement in this regard, has no basis in truth, and to change policies based on this assertion is a potentially dangerous and far-reaching violation of ethics in the fields of psychology and psychometrics.

1 The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), under pressure from lawmakers and activists, paid $600,000.00 to a private psychometric research group, Alpine Testing, to perform a validity test on their high stakes, experimental Common Core achievement test. The non-peer reviewed results of their study were published September 1, 2015. The scope, depth, and subject matter of inquiry of the test review deviated radically from traditional psychological methods of scientific assessment validity inquiry. We elected to not provide legitimacy to FLDOE”s politically driven “validity” project by providing extensive commentary to a report that does not place the legitimate science of psychometric validity in a true and accurate light.



“Therefore, we believe that alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards are no longer needed and, with high-quality instruction and appropriate accommodations, students with disabilities who took an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards will be able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by participating in the new general assessments.

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #3:


Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. (Note: This research was not peer reviewed, and was prepared by a “think tank” funded in full by the USDOE).


Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:


  1. Research was not peer reviewed, was funded by the USDOE and was written in collaboration with the USDOE-partnered education reform group, CCSSO.


  1. The compilation of multiple articles submitted by multiple State Offices of Education did not address specific special education populations.


  1. Every separate article placed in this document cited the need for further research, and mostly relied on “surveys” of education teachers as the source of their data.

Summary and Conclusions:

Not one sentence, or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated for any population of public school students.   In fact, multiple articles cited herein, suggested the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.


“The assessments being developed by States based on college- and career-ready standards, including those developed by PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, do not eliminate the authority or need for States to administer alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.”

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #4:


Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:


Summary & Conclusion:

The USDOE has not issued eligibility criteria of what constitutes a special education student having “significant cognitive disabilities.”   USDOE has stated within this document that these students will compromise approximately 10% of all disabled students in a given population.   This narrow and arbitrary definition excludes minority groups who have traditionally not performed well in high stakes testing arenas (e.g., African American, Latino students, etc.) and also takes away local States’ choices so that they cannot create and implement alternative assessments for children with dyslexia, severe emotional disturbances and disabilities, and children who have been diagnosed as being along the autistic spectrum.

To date, no peer reviewed publication in the world has opined that the education or clinical psychology community has ever designed a high stakes achievement test that has achieved a high level of validity for the aforementioned groups of children and teens in public school systems.   USDOE is thus dictating the use, application, and interpretation of a test not validated for these specific purposes or interpretations.


“Research demonstrates that low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in reading [6] and low-achieving students with disabilities who struggle in mathematics [7] can successfully learn grade-level content when they have access to high-quality instruction.”


Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5 (Reading):

Allor, J. H., Mathes, P. G., Roberts, J. K., Cheatham, J.P., & Champlin, T. M. (2010). Comprehensive reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 445- 466

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. Extremely small sample size of study participants. Only three students were used: (“Three students were selected based on teacher recommendation and difficulty in transferring skills on progress monitoring measures. The participants were Jus- tin, Grace, and Kristen. Justin was an 8-year-old Hispanic male with an IQ of 52. Grace was a 10-year-old Hispanic female with an IQ of 59. Kristen was a 12-year-old African American female with an IQ of 45.”) P.348

(“Clearly, we urge caution in interpretation of our findings given the small number of participants.”) P.354

  1. No independent investigation was taken to verify the accuracy and efficacy of the I.Q. scores of the participants located in their school records files. Regardless, by all indication, all three participant’s scores indicate “mental retardation” on a severe level.
  2. The psychometric instrument to measure “reading” performance in this study was the DIBELS. No validity measures were provided for this instrument. No commonly used measures of reading that have decades of peer reviewed validity studies attributed to them were utilized for this study:

(“Progress monitoring scores, specifically Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS; Good & Kaminski, 2002), phoneme segmentation fluency (PSF), nonsense word fluency (NWF), and first-grade ORF subtests were used to identify students who showed limited growth despite some progress during the daily instructional sessions.”). P. 349


  1. The study does not conclude that the end result of the interventions provided, resulted in these children learning how to read. (“In summary, these preliminary results provide promising evidence that even students who initially do not respond to systematic instruction can learn to improve their ability to sound out and unitize words.”) P. 355
  2. The study did not, on any level, conclude (or even examine) whether the three participants were ever able to read at grade level.
  3. Study funded by the “Institute of Education Science,” an arm of the USDOE.


Summary & Conclusion:

Given the small sample size, as well as the other serious limitations in this study provided above, an attempt by the USDOE to utilize such psychometrically weak and/or non existent evidence to support broad claims that all students with disabilities can read at grade level with proper instruction, is fanciful at best, and deliberately deceitful at worst.

(The two other articles cited to support the USDOE statement specifically dealt with ADHD, and “interventions” to improve reading. Neither study provides any support for the USDOE’s broad claims, and were not worthy of this reviewer’s additional time to write up the deficiencies of the studies, as such related to the USDOE claims. For those who wish to review them; they are cited in the USDOE references under #7).

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #5: (Math):

Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, D., Powell, S. R., Seethaler, P. M., Cirino, P. T., & Fletcher, J. M. (2008). Intensive intervention for students with mathematics disabilities: Seven principles of effective practice.

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. This was the first independent, peer-reviewed article cited by the USDOE that was not funded by the Department of Education.   It was very well written.
  2. The authors listed “Seven Principles in Designing Effective Intensive Interventions” for student with math disabilities.   One intervention, “Ongoing Progress Monitoring” was formed under the premise that “no instructional method, even those validated using randomized control studies, works for all students”. P.86
  3. Individually tailored programs of intervention are needed. (“We also emphasized that the last principle, ongoing progress monitoring to quantify response and formulate individually tailored programs, may be the most essential principle of intensive intervention.”) P. 86
  4. The focus of this research was limited to only 3rd grade students.

Summary & Conclusion:

This was the most complete, independent, interesting and well-researched article thus far cited by the USDOE, yet does not support the overreaching conclusions

of the Department’s rule change in any aspect of its scholarly work.   (In fact, this article may lend itself to the notion of even more diverse methods of intervention, teaching, and testing of children who suffer from math disabilities than what may be on the current “curriculum menu” in many public schools.)

Nevertheless, a well written and crafted study limited to just 3rd grade students, does not support USDOE premise that every learning disabled child in America can, and will benefit from current interventions developed and implemented in public schools.

(The last article cited by the USDOE as evidence of efficacy for the 5th “finding of fact”, was written directly and published by the USDOE and will not be reviewed. The subject matter is based on “Response to Intervention”, and it is general knowledge amongst educational and neuropsychologist in the field that this practice, although effective amongst some student populations, has no peer- reviewed backing that suggests that it can be used on all reading “disabled” students successfully in the entire country.)


the developers of the new generation of assessments considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge. [9]

Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #6:


For additional information on assessment accommodations, see: PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (Nov. 2014) at features- accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf.


Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

  1. Disturbingly, test developer cited by the USDOE (PARCC) to support this bold premise, no longer has the link listed above on its corporate site. (“The requested URL /sites/parcc/files/parcc-accessibility- features-accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf. was not found on this server.”)

Summary & Conclusion:

There are no independent studies (or even grant-supported studies from the USDOE) in existence, which indicates that Common Core test developers (PARCC, AIR, SBAC) have published validity documents indicating that they:

considered the needs of students with disabilities to ensure that the assessments are designed to allow those students to demonstrate their knowledge.” More than likely, these high stakes, Common Core developed tests are still in the experimental phase of development while they are being currently used on special education students, as well as every other child in public schools in the nation.

Evidence strongly suggests that the above-named testing consortia and developers, supported by tax payers’ dollars, may in fact be in the midst of the largest, most comprehensive experimentation –as defined by the Ethics Code of the American Psychological Association– on American public school children, in our nation’s history.

If, in fact, independent investigations confirm this well-grounded theory, the U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Arne Duncan, are in violation of multiple APA (American Psychological Association) assessment and experimentation ethics codes. (See APA Ethics Codes 8.02 “Informed Consent to Research” & 8.07 “Deception in Research” & 9.03 “Informed Consent In Assessments”

The basic foundational purpose of conforming assessment and research practices to ethics codes is to ensure that vulnerable populations, such a special education students, are not exploited and/or harmed.


We learned through States that received funding from the Department through the GSEG and EAG programs that some students with disabilities who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards may not have had an opportunity to learn grade-level content, and more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade-level content….. Six of the projects found that students who might be candidates for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards had difficulty…”


Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #7:


Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (Eds.). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

(Note: This same compilation of research “studies” was cited above in Findings of Facts #3. The “limitations” noted in #3 are applicable and repeated below).


  1. Research is not peer-reviewed and is funded by the USDOE. It was written in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers, a group long partnered with USDOE (for example, USDOE and CCSSO partnered in the creation of national common educational data standards, called CEDS.)


  1. The compilation of multiple articles submitted by multiple State Offices of Education did not address specific special education populations.


  1. Every article placed in this document cited the need for further research, and mostly relied on “surveys” to education teachers.


Summary and Conclusions:


A statement of belief by the USDOE that “more effort was needed to support teachers in ensuring students have meaningful opportunities to learn grade- level contentis not justification to limit local and states’ judgment and creativity with regard to modifying assessments and curriculum for special education students.

Not one sentence or article submitted in this compilation of papers by various state education agencies, supported (or even mentioned) the USDOE’s premise that alternative assessments should be eliminated.   In fact, multiple articles cited herein the need for further research on how to implement better alternative assessments for special education children in their respective states.



“Parents and teachers have the right and need to know how much progress all students, including students with disabilities, are making each year toward college and career readiness. That means all students, including students with disabilities, need to take annual Statewide assessments.


Research Cited To Support the USDOE’s Factual Finding #8:


Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:



Summary & Conclusion:

It would be reasonable and proper to assume that parents and education stakeholders would “have the right and need to know” how much progress their divergent learning students were making academically.

The USDOE, however, insists that parents and teachers need to know about students’ “career and college readiness.” What exactly is “career- and college readiness” and how does such a confusing and undefined standard apply to children and teens with diagnosed learning disabilities?

What evidence does the USDOE have to show that all students wish to have a career, and if so, are at a developmental or life-experience level to start to think along those lines?

What evidence does the USDOE have to show that it is responsible, or even possible, to assess for “college readiness” for divergent-learning students?

What evidence does the USDOE have to make the unilateral decision, on behalf

of every student and scientist living in the country, without regard to the judgment or wishes of individual students, parents, teachers, doctors, or states, that all students, including students with disabilities, “must take annual statewide assessments?”

How ethical is it to require every public school student in the country to take an experimental test, without their informed written consent; a test that has yet to undergo independent validity reviews by any organization free of contractual ties to either the U.S. Department of Education or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?




We need to know much more than we now know about the actual consequences of implementing large-scale, high-stakes assessment and accountability systems.

It is assumed that holding schools responsible for improved outcomes for students with disabilities, will lead to increased instructional effort, improved instruction, and better outcomes. A government education agency, making policy changes based on assumptions, is engaging in experimentation– unethical experimentation on our nation’s most vulnerable children.

Educators do not yet have the science to know how to teach most of these standards to students with moderate and severe developmental disabilities. At the present time little is known about how much academic content students with moderate and severe learning and emotional disabilities can learn in traditional public school settings.

Common sense, as well as decades of peer-reviewed research in the areas of cognitive and developmental psychology, indicates strongly that restricting students to curricula beyond their cognitive capacities substantially lowers their achievement.

Test publishers often have not conducted adequate research on how accommodations affect test validity. It is unfair and discriminatory to penalize a student with a disability, any disability, for using a needed accommodation on an assessment, simply because the test publisher has not conducted the necessary research about the effect of the particular accommodation on the test.

In fact it is unfair, discriminatory and unethical to require any student to take a test that, by all accounts, is an experimental design that has yet to undergo extensive, independent validity reviews.   There should be candor not only about what is known about these high stakes, computer adaptive assessments, but also about what is unknown. (LORAN Commission, 1988, p. 27) (LORAN Commission. (1988). Report of the LORAN Commission to the Harvard Community Health Plan: Harvard Community Health Plan, Boston, MA.)

Assessment technology, like medical technology, is not perfect; there are potentially harmful side effects associated with treatments determined to be generally safe and efficacious. We certainly are not suggesting to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. (We utilize the same, if not similar, innovative assessment technologies as the education system). However, like physicians and clinical psychologists, educators should know the nature and extent of research documented harmful side effects on vulnerable groups of children, before adopting any high- stakes testing program. Always, there must be informed, written consent from parents.

Failure to do so places special education students in positions of being subjected to frustrations that may exacerbate known, as well as unknown, potential comorbid emotional disorders that many of these students may possess.

We encourage public school districts across the nation to disprove our well- researched and disturbing hypothesis, that not one district website in the entire nation has notified parents of the experimental nature of Common Core high- stakes testing, nor has a single one of the government-funded test makers ever completed independent, peer reviewed validity studies on these assessments.

These “lies of omission,” perpetuated and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under the leadership of Secretary Duncan, will continue to have dangerous consequences for traditionally “test vulnerable” African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, autistic, dyslexic, dual-exceptional, poverty-stricken, and emotionally disturbed children who are enrolled in public and charter schools across the country.

It is the ultimate height of hypocrisy for an Education Department Secretary to insist on “evidence” based conformity to unilateral rule changes, and then make massive special education rule changes based on cited references which appear to have been pulled blindly out of the magician’s hat.

Under Secretary Arne Duncan’s tenure, public schools and special education teachers are not getting the support they need to meet IDEA requirements anywhere in the country, despite special education ballooning class sizes and despite massive layoffs of teachers and support staff all over the country.

Secretary Duncan’s prescription of education reform has resulted thus far in feeding those frenzied financial interests that are aligned with corporate testing corporations, as well as alienating masses across the country, and not just conservative-leaning “white suburban moms” as Secretary Duncan blustered.

We are not politicians or public policy experts. We do not purport to have the answers to perplexing issues facing our nations children in public schools.   What we DO know is that parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.

A shift from the dictatorial-like control now emanating from the Department of Education, and supported by Big Testing’s financial corporate interests– back to states, local school districts, and ground level teachers and parents– is the foundation from which all hope and change in our nation’s education system must start.

Respectfully submitted by:


Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center






  1. See discussion of this research in Assessing Students with Disabilities Based on a State’s Academic Achievement Standards.


  1. See Scruggs, T., Mastropieri, M., Berkeley, S., & Graetz, (2010). Do Special Education Interventions Improve Learning of Secondary Content? A Meta-Analysis. Remedial and Special Education, 31(6), 437-449.


  1. ESEA flexibility refers to the Department’s initiative to give a State flexibility regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in exchange for developing a rigorous and comprehensive plan designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.


  1. For more information, see: Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


  1. The IDEA prescribes certain requirements for IEPs for students who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate academic achievement standards. 34 CFR 300.160(c)(2)(iii), 300.320(a)(2)(ii), and 300.320(a)(6) (ii). This approach addresses the educational and assessment needs of a relatively small percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, estimated at approximately 1% of all students in a State (approximately 10% of students with disabilities), who cannot be held to the same academic achievement standards as students without the most significant cognitive disabilities.


  1. For example, see: Allor, H., Mathes, P. G., Roberts, J. K., Cheatham, J.P., & Champlin, T. M. (2010). Comprehensive reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 445- 466; Kamps, D., Abbott, M., Greenwood, C., Wills, H., Veerkamp, M., & Kaufman, J. (2008); Mautone, J. A., DuPaul, G. J., Jitendra, A. K., Tresco, K. E., Junod, R. V., & Volpe, R. J. (2009). The relationship between treatment integrity and acceptability of reading interventions for children with attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 919-931; and Scammacca, N., Vaughn, S., Roberts, G., Wanzek, J., & Torgesen, J. K. (2007). Extensive reading interventions in grades K-3: From research to practice. Portsmouth, N.H.: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction; and Vaughn, S., Denton, C. A., & Fletcher, J. M. (2010).


Why intensive interventions are necessary for students with severe reading difficulties. Psychology in the Schools, 47, 32-444; Wanzek, J. & Vaughn, S. (2010). Tier 3 interventions for students with significant reading problems. Theory Into Practice, 49, 305-314.


  1. For example, see: Fuchs, L. S. & Fuchs, D., Powell, S. R., Seethaler, P. M., Cirino, P. T., & Fletcher, J. M. (2008). Intensive intervention for students with mathematics disabilities: Seven principles of effective practice. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 31, 79-92; and Gersten, R., Beckmann, S., Clarke, B., Foegen, A., Marsh, L., Star, J. R., & Witzel, B. (2009).

Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools (NCEE 2009-4060). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved November 1, 2010 from

  1. For example, see Archamboult, I., Janosz, M., & Chouindard, R. (2012). Teacher beliefs as predictors of adolescent cognitive engagement and achievement in mathematics. The Journal of Educational Research, 105, 319-328;

Hinnant, J., O’Brien, M., & Ghazarian, S. (2009). The longitudinal relations of teacher expectations to achievement in the early school years. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101 (3), 662-670; and Hornstra, L., Denessen, E., Bakker, J., von den Bergh, L., & Voeten, M. (2010). Teacher attitudes toward dyslexia: Effects on teacher expectations and the academic achievement of students with dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 (6), 515-529.


  1. For additional information on assessment accommodations, see: PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual (Nov.2014) at accessibility- features-accommodations-manual-11-14_final.pdf.


  1. For more information, see: Thurlow, M. L., Lazarus, S. S., & Bechard, S. (). (2013). Lessons learned in federally funded projects that can improve the instruction and assessment of low performing students with disabilities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.


  1. Achieve. (2012). The Future of the U.S. Workforce: Middle Skills Jobs and the Growing Importance of Post Secondary Education. American Diploma Project,



Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct

Adopted August 21, 2002 Effective June 1, 2003

With the 2010 Amendments Adopted February 20, 2010

Effective June 1, 2010




Areas covered include but are not limited to the clinical, counseling, and school practice of psychology; research; teaching; supervision of trainees; public service; policy development; social intervention; development of assessment instruments; conducting assessments; educational counseling; organizational consulting; forensic activities; program design and evaluation; and administration.




Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights and the central importance of freedom of inquiry and expression in research, teaching, and publication. They strive to help the public in developing informed judgments and choices concerning human behavior. In doing so, they perform many roles, such as researcher, educator, diagnostician, therapist, supervisor, consultant, administrator, social interventionist, and expert witness.




3.04 Avoiding Harm


Psychologists take reasonable steps to avoid harming their clients/patients, students, supervisees, research participants, organizational clients, and others with whom they work, and to minimize harm where it is foreseeable and un- avoidable.


8.02 Informed Consent to Research


(a) When obtaining informed consent as required in Standard 3.10, Informed Consent, psychologists inform participants about (1) the purpose of the research, expected

duration, and procedures; (2) their right to decline to participate and to withdraw from the research once participation has begun; (3) the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing; (4) reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risks, discomfort, or adverse effects; (5) any prospective research benefits; (6) limits of confidentiality; (7) incentives for participation; and (8) whom to contact for questions about the research and research participants’ rights. They provide opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers.


9.01 Bases for Assessments


(b) Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established for use with members of the population tested. When such validity or re- liability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.


9.05 Test Construction


Psychologists who develop tests and other assessment techniques use appropriate psychometric procedures and current scientific or professional knowledge for test design, standardization, validation, reduction or elimination of bias, and recommendations for use.



Thank you, Dr. Thompson.



2015 Update: US Congressman Schaffer on Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” Letter   11 comments

bob s

The following is authored by former US Congressman Bob Schaffer and is posted with his permission.  In light of the fact that Marc Tucker has been invited to advise the Utah legislature on education at this week’s two day education conference, it seemed important to remember the history behind the changes that are culminating now, which Tucker and Hillary Clinton detailed in motion in the 1990s.  Thanks to Bob Schaffer for his timely update.


Thanks Christel: 


I am grateful for your inquiry and certainly wish you well in your patriotic efforts in Utah.  Incidentally, your readers can find PDF files of each page of Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter in the 1998 Congressional Record through these links: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7


The “Dear Hillary” letter is as relevant today as it was in 1992.  Though I doubt anyone in the halls of government much remembers the letter itself, it is the concise, clear, and intentional nature of the letter that is instructive to those of us who still find value in the idea of a constitutional republic self-governed by free and intelligent citizens.  Tucker’s sweeping 1992 blueprint for nationalizing the American public-education system is especially pertinent now because, at least since the day it was penned, it has been brilliantly executed with virtually no deviation.


It is instructive to note Tucker’s blueprint does not stop at nationalizing primary public education.  It entails merging nationalized primary-education goals with a nationalized higher-education system and a nationalized labor-administrative function.  Think of the 1990s doublespeak “School-to-Work” and you get an accurate picture.  School-to-Work, as you know, was the apt title of the Clinton-era initiative setting the Tucker letter into actual national public policy.  More practically, think of the “Prussian-German, education-labor model” because it is the same thing.  Tucker actually says so in the letter itself:  “We propose that (President-elect) Bill take a leaf out of the German book.”


Truly, Tucker’s ideas are not new.  They were formalized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, refined by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, embedded by Hegel in the German university structure, then exported throughout the world including to virtually every “teachers college” in America.   Specific to the perpetual, anti-intellectual quest to undermine the traditions of “classical” education, Rousseau’s “social-contract” ideas (wherein individuals are understood as subordinate to state interests and royal continuity) were perfected for European classrooms by heralded social engineers such as Heinrich Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel.  These ideas were most powerfully applied to American classrooms by John Dewey.  Despite being deeply embedded in the curriculum of modern American teacher’s colleges, these collectivist ideals and progressive-romantic philosophies have been held in marginal abeyance by the brilliant American design of decentralized, independent, sovereign states each in charge of its own public-education system. 


Accordingly, this is where Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter earns its notorious repute.  An acolyte of the worn Rousseau-Dewey, progressive-romantic line of thinking, Tucker eloquently maps in his 1992 letter to the new First Lady a sharp and detailed political plan for mutating American primary education, secondary education, and labor policy in ways that can breach the pesky firewalls of the Tenth Amendment if not the core revolutionary ideal of federalism itself.  Hegel would have been elated.  Dewey’s, Pestalozzi’s, and Froebel’s names are already painted on the ceiling of the Library of Congress – main floor, at that.


Though eight years of the Clinton administration have come and gone (maybe), the tactics of the “Dear Hillary” letter roll onward.  Not a single manifestation of “Dear Hillary” policies was curtailed during the Bush presidency.  In fact, many were accelerated through “No Child Left Behind.” The Obama administration has effectuated “Dear Hillary” objectives to nearly complete fruition. 


As to your curiosity about why I petitioned the House of Representatives in 1998 to allow me to preserve the Tucker letter as I did, my best explanation follows.


After discovering, studying and digesting the transformational implications of the “Dear Hillary” letter, and concluding it carried credible political heft, I thought it important to enshrine the missive via The Congressional Record perhaps as a self-explanatory and incontrovertible marker as to whom, when, where and how the United States of America finally and completely disconnected itself from the proven ideals of classical education – the kind of education the country’s Founders received.  As a youngish, backbench first-term Member of Congress in 1998, I thought someday maybe someone working on a Master’s thesis would like to pinpoint the moment our former republic opted instead for the amply disproven, constrained and anti-intellectual objectives of formalized “training.”  Maybe my Congressional-Record entry would be of good use to an aspiring scholar or two.


Indeed, history is replete with examples of classical education leading to strong, powerful individuals; and formalized training leading to a strong, powerful state.  I regarded this letter as a signal of an epic American turning point.  I actually did imagine the letter would one day be regarded as an important historic document worthy of being singled out and remembered.  I maintain that belief even now, and am delighted you are among those who recognize its significance.


It seemed to me at the time, the “Dear Hillary” letter was the most concise, honest and transparent political document of its kind.  It reminded me of the moment Gen. George McClelland at Sharpsburg came into possession of Gen. Robert Lee’s plans for an offensive at Antietam Creek.  Here in these plans, one actually reads a credible battle strategy for overcoming American federalism.  Tucker’s war cannons were fully charged and tightly packed with progressive-romantic canister, aimed directly upon the Founder’s revolutionary idea of republican, self-government and our traditions of states’ rights.  


I had anticipated my colleagues in the Congress and various state-education leaders would benefit from knowing, in advance, of Tucker’s offensive strategy especially as his battle plan was specifically addressed to, and received by, the occupants of the White House.  The last thing I ever imagined at the time (and I am heartbroken to realize it now), is how political leaders in the several states have stood indolently for it.  Never did I picture the baleful scene we are witnessing today – state leaders themselves dutifully lowering Tucker’s linstock to the touch hole of statism.


At least for the past couple of decades, the vast majority of elected leaders in both political parties have clearly – if not enthusiastically – worked to outdo one another in applying Rousseau-Hegel-Dewey ideas to public education.  They offer little, if any, impressive resistance to policies, laws, rules, and mandates relegating American education to a job-training enterprise despite the prescient warnings of Albert Jay Nock, E.D. Hirsch, Tracy Lee Simmons and others who have underscored the crucial difference between classical education and anti-intellectual training.  As such, Tucker’s letter and goals, though overtly political, cannot be fairly regarded as a partisan.  No, the epic transformation of American culture and national character is being achieved rather quickly due to an overwhelming advantage of spectacular bipartisan cooperation. 


Henceforward, when intelligent people scratch their heads and wonder how it was that the citizens of the United State of America inexplicably stood by and unwittingly participated in the systematic demise of their blessed republic, at least they’ll find one comprehensive and compelling explanation, assuming it survives the censors’ notice, in The Congressional Record on September 25, 1998.


Thank you for finding me, reaching out to me, and granting me an opportunity to underscore the perilous certainties of the country’s education system.


Very truly yours,

Bob Schaffer



On a related note, I invite the officials who will be participating in so-called “guided” discussions at this week’s conference to truly arm themselves against the manipulative “delphi technique” that is used to force consensus, as outlined by Jenny Hatch here.


C.S. Lewis and the Freedom to Fail   4 comments



Are you afraid of freedom?  Are you so afraid of the possibility that, with freedom to choose, some people choose to fail, that you would remove all freedom, even the freedom to soar?

A few weeks ago, at the Utah County Republican Convention,  I met a man at our Stop Common Core booth.  He was a sweet faced,  caring man.  He liked the common core agenda of national standards and tests because, he said,  he could not stand to see anyone suffer and fail because he’d seen the worst of the worst in Mississippi.  The fact that Massachusetts had dropped its high academic standards to come down to Common Core’s level didn’t bother him, he said, because lowest-performing states like Mississippi had upped their standards to the Common Core level.  He didn’t want to see anybody fail; so he’d rather see everyone mediocre.

This one sided “philanthropy” struck me as misguided, but it is the trendy philosophy of social justice, the philosophy of Arne Duncan-style redistribution.  It is theft– easily justified because it’s done on a large, impersonal, governmental scale.

Where do you stand?

Would you– alone– steal from one, in order to benefit another?  Then why do you let government do it?  What gives “us” the right to redistribute anything at all– money, education standards, teachers, data?  Would you make this a habit: Alone–  you walk outside, knock on the door,  and then forcibly take money or items from your next door neighbor to then hand to another neighbor?  It’s cruel.  That is, on a smaller scale, what our society is doing on a large scale with its increasingly socialistic answers to almost every aspect of life, with the justification that this theft is a kindness, a social justice.   This type of enforced equality is an impossible absurdity (Read Harrison Bergeron) but people believe it will work.  It’s why we are in this ed reform mess.

The freedom to fail and the freedom to soar are two ends of the same stick.  So much freedom has been sacrificed at the fake altar of “no soul left behind”.   Ironically, as these equality enforcements  come, people still fail.  This fake philanthropy (aka “social justice”) takes away the possibility for those who might soar, to ever soar.  In the 1950s, they used to call this equalizing “communism”.  But today, if you use describe the education reforms taking place in America as socialistic/communistic, you get labeled a believer in Unicorns.  (Thanks, Representative Kraig Powell.)

Truth is truth whether people believe it or not.

Long after I’d left the man that day at the booth, I found this perfect answer to his confused philanthropy.  Thank you, C.S. Lewis.


“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.

If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk.

(…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

                                                                                                               – C.S. Lewis

U.S. Senator David Vitters’ Privacy Bill in Congress Can Protect Student Data   1 comment


Ever since that dark day three years ago when I received a written response from the State Office of Education saying that the answer to my question was “No,” –NO to the question of whether a student could attend school to simply learn (as opposed to being tracked at school, as “human capital” by the state and federal SLDS and P-20w data mining systems, without parental consent or knowledge)  –ever since that day, I’ve been on a quest to reclaim our basic constitutional freedom of privacy, the right to NOT be inventoried like merchandise of the state.

A lot of other people agree that privacy and freedom matter.   But not all.   The big money in big data is so big; data is the Gold Rush of our age, not to mention to big control issue “datapalooza movement” of our age, making it difficult to overpower the big data lobbyists and their giant piles of fat money that work very effectively against moms and dads and non-monied lobbyists and activists like you and me.

Twice, for example, a Utah state legislator has tried to run a privacy protection bill for Utah kids.  Two years in a row it hasn’t even gotten close to getting off the ground in the Utah legislature.  Seems that money and power talk more persuasively than children’s or family’s rights, even in Utah.

But today many organizations nationwide are joining to support and to push forward Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s congressional bill that returns control of education records to parents on the federal level.  It’s big news.  See Breitbart, The Hill, Truth in American Education.

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

  • The bill implements new, more robust guidelines, in order to protect student privacy, for schools and educational agencies to release education records to third parties, even in cases of recordkeeping.
  • These entities will be required to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Further, educational agencies, schools, and third parties will be held liable for violations of the law through monetary fines.

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

  • FERPA does not currently apply to students who do not attend a traditional education institution, such as students who are homeschooled, despite some states requiring homeschoolers to file information with their school district.
  • This bill extends FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

  • The bill prohibits educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Federal education funds will be prohibited from being used to collect any psychological or behavioral information through any survey or assessment.


Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

  • American Principles in Action
  • Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
  • Eagle Forum
  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Women on the Wall
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
  • Stop Early Childhood Common Core
  • Arkansans for Education Freedom
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents RISE
  • The Tea Party Network
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowa RestorEd
  • Iowa for Student Achievement
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Louisiana  Against Common Core
  • Common Core Forum
  • Stop Common Core Massachusetts
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Tennessee Against Common Core
  • Truth in Texas Education  
  • Truth in Catholic Education  
  • Utahns Against Common Core
  • WV Against Common Core
  • Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core


Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill.  is the email for all the members of the state school board.    Find congressional legislators and state legislators here:
P.S.      I often get asked why this matters.   Last week, for example, at the Salt Lake County Republican Organizing convention, people came up to the booth where I was answering questions and asked, “What information is being collected about my child?”  My response?  Rather than to point them to the National Data Collection Model data points that are being requested, I simply say this truth:  there are NO proper privacy protections in place; federal FERPA law was destroyed by the Dept. of Education, and we have no idea what information is being collected locally; we do know there is a database that we aren’t allowed to opt out of;  we do know that there are no prohibitions on the schools/state/federal government/corporations collecting as much as they can get away with.
We know that the National Data Collection Model invites and encourages schools and states to collect over 400 data points.  And we know that no laws currently prevent schools/states from doing so.  It is only good intentions and individual/district policy that is preventing an Orwellian data collection reality today.
We need to establish proper, real protections.  We need strong laws that establish that students and families, not the state/corporate/federal education forces, own the data and control the data.  We need opt out laws from participation in the database systems too.  We need to talk about this issue often and openly.  And the ball is in the parents’ court.  The boards aren’t fighting for data privacy.  The lobbyists are actively fighting against data privacy.  And no legislator will fight for your child until you demand that he does.
Ask your legislator to support Senator Vitters’ bill, and to write state laws that enforce these protections too.

Detailed Schedule: Band of Mothers Event at UVU this Wednesday, May 13   Leave a comment

The Band of Mothers Tour proudly presents the “Empowering Parents Symposium,” convening to present freedom’s true fight for children this Wednesday, May 13th, at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

Have you registered yet?  (Click here!)





Here’s the outline.  Starting at 9:00 a.m., attendees will choose from nine available workshops held in classrooms at the UVU Sorenson Center (see below – detailed workshop information follows).

Following the workshops, attendees will enjoy an elegant luncheon while hearing from KNRS star Rod Arquette.  In the evening, the symposium reconvenes at the UVU Ragan Theater 6:00 with entertainment and discussion starting with the Five Strings Band, followed by keynote speakers Senator Al Jackson,  Analyst Joy Pullman and Child Rescuer Tim Ballard.  The evening’s finale will be “The Abolitionist,” the documentary movie, introduced by its star, Tim Ballard, founder of the truly amazing rescue force, Operation Underground Railroad.



If you haven’t registered yet, please click here.  Donations are appreciated and needed, but all the evening events are free and the morning workshops only cost $5 apiece.  You can register at UACC or just show up.  Remember: all events are first-come, first-served, with registered attendees having priority.  (If you happen to own filming equipment, please bring it and film the workshops that you attend.)


If you want to hear Rod Arquette’s power-packed talk at mid-day and haven’t registered for the catered lunch, you have now missed the deadline for the order, but you can brown-bag it or come listen without eating.

To see “The Abolitionist” documentary, come very early because the seats will be filled up in the Ragan Theater by those who are there for the earlier events that begin at 6:00.


Here’s the morning workshop schedule.  (Descriptions and teacher bios further below.)

  • 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. – Choose from:

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

  • 10:00 to 10:55 – Choose from:

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

  • 11:00 to 11:55 – Choose from:

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c



MORNING WORKSHOPS – Register here.


Detailed Class Descriptions with Teacher Bios:

9:00 to 9:55 a.m.

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

The word “Education” has been redefined.  Education used to evoke images of children and youth engaged in the learning process as they discover their own endless potential.  With recent educational changes, “Education” brings an image of frustration, canned answers and testing.  What is the purpose of this new form of “Education”?  What can you do about it?

Jenny Baker is the founder of Return to Parental Rights and The Gathering Families Project.  She has just returned from the United Nations as part of the Big Ocean Women delegation which hopes to raise awareness of the anti-family ideas that affect our world.  Jenny lives in St. George, Utah and is married to Blake Baker.  She is the mother of five daughters.




2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

Technology has opened Pandora’s Box by giving government and private organizations the power to collect very private information about people and create unerasable dossiers that can follow them for life.  What is possible now– how can we benefit from technology while controlling it, and what are ways people can reclaim their personal property from the institutions taking it without consent?

joyJoy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.


3.  Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

This class is an introduction to the principles of liberty embedded in the Constitution.  It explains the Founders’ “success formula” based on their thorough study and knowledge of history, past civilizations and human nature.  Learn the principles behind what George Washington called “the science of government” which, when applied, yields results that can be predicted and replicated.

Watching the news can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.  Studying eternal principles of agency will leave you feeling empowered, joyful and hopeful!


Laureen Simper taught junior high English and reading before raising her two children.  She has run a private Suzuki piano studio for much of 31 years.


stacie t

Stacie Thornton was the financial administrator for the U.S. District Court in Utah before marrying and raising five children.  She began homeschooling nearly 20 years ago, and continues now with her two youngest children.



10:00 to 10:55

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

big ocean

Learn about international organizations and their motivations behind data collection.  Come unite in standing in defense of our families:  find out what you can do and what we can do together.


Carolina S. Allen is the founder and president of Big Ocean Women which is an international grassroots “maternal feminist” movement taking the world by storn. Recently representing at the United Nations this past march, their message is picking up steam internationally.  Big Ocean Women are uniting in behalf of faith, family and healing the world in their own way, on their own terms.  Carolina is the happy homeschool mother of five.

michelle boulter

Michelle Boulter is a mother of three boys.  She recently attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.  She currently serves on the board of Big Ocean Women over politics and policy.  She is co-founder of Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families.  Her passion is to empower other families to be primary educators in the lives of their children.


2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

This class is a short history lesson explaining why and how American education shifted from supporting self-government through individual and local action into a massive national conglomerate where no one is responsible but everyone is cheated.



Joy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.


3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

Heather Gardner will speak about the parental rights laws that are in place –and the laws that are lacking– for the protection of children and the rights of parents in determining what they will be taught and who can access data collected on individual children.  Know the law and know your rights.


heather gardner


Heather Gardner is a former state school board candidate and is currently a middle school teacher at Liberty Hills Academy, a private school in Bountiful, Utah.  She was appointed by Senator Niederhauser to the standards review committee for Fine Arts in Utah.  She has been actively involved in supporting parental rights via media interviews and grassroots efforts during legislative sessions.  She and her husband are the parents of five children.  Heather is an advocate for students, special needs children, teachers and parents.


11:00 to 11:55

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

Utah is in the process of adopting new science standards.  Contrary to public pronouncements from officials of the State Office of Education, on multiple occasions and before a variety of legislative bodies, that Utah would not adopt common national standards, there is now an admission that this is precisely what is happening.  Just what is in these standards that would be troubling for most Utah parents– and what can we do about it?

politics of science 10

Vince Newmeyer has had a lifelong love of science.  He attended BYU studying engineering, and has dabbled with experiments and inventions.  Vince ran his own computer consulting company, designed and built solar power installations, and engaged in electronic technical work.  Vince took an intense interest in evolutionary thought in 1998 and has studied it deeply since that time.  As an amateur geologist and science buff, he has done extensive research on topics in geology, biology, physics, astronomy and earth sciences.  He speaks about data which fundamentally challenges current popular views on our origins.



2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

Should you opt your children out?  Come learn about SAGE testing and why thousands of parents are choosing to opt their children out.


Wendy Hart:  “First and foremost, I am a mom.  I have three kids and a wonderful husband.  The responsibility I have for my children’s well being motivates me to ensure that they have the best education possible.  I currently have the honor of representing Alpine, Cedar Hills, and Highland residents on the Alpine School Board.

I started my own data migration and programming business 14 years ago.  Before establishing my own business, I worked for various local companies doing database migration and analysis, as well as project management.  I graduated from BYU cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a French minor.  I served a mission for my church in Northern France and Brussels, Belgium.  Raised in Cupertino, CA (home of Apple Computers) I am the oldest of five girls.  I play the piano and harp, and I like to sing.”



3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

Centrally managed education policy is weaking Utah family rights, responsibilities and relationships.  We need to “run, not walk” to turn this around.  What could we accomplish with 1,000 active, local groups of families in Utah who know each other, meet regularly, set and achieve specific goals, and synchronize efforts with other groups?  Come learn how to:

  • Organize and nurture a local group
  • Conduct effective, action-oriented meetings
  • Coordinate with other group leaders to support education policies that “put family first”.



jared carmen


Jared Carmen is a husband, dad, citizen lobbyist on education issues, member of the Utah Instructional Materials Commission, and advisory board member for a K-8 private school in Salt Lake City.  He holds an MS in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and is the founder/owner of two online learning companies.  He serves his precinct as a state delegate.



EVENING EVENTS – Register here.

Evening events begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Ragan Theater at UVU


five strings


al jackson





abolitionist movie

abolition poster


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