Archive for the ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reclaim Educational Sovereignty For Utah’ Category
Governor Herbert surprised a lot of people this week, including me.
After spending the past six years promoting, marketing, and providing workforce alignment strategies to serve Common Core, and after rising to the throne of Common Core’s organization, National Governors Association, to become its chair, and after going out of his way to have the Utah Attorney General provide “proof” that Common Core supposedly represented local control– after all of this, Herbert has now turned his back on the Common Core and has written a letter to the State School Board, asking it to move away from Common Core.
The media in Utah say that they are “puzzled” and confused. Not me. I’m doing the happy dance!
Regardless of the Governor’s motives in this election year, regardless of the possibility that Utah might just endure a wasteful rebranding effort that could redeliver Common Core under a new name (as many other states, have done and done and done) –I still see this letter from Governor Herbert as a home run for the freedom team.
Read it. The letter admits that Common Core is not an example of local control, that it is the federal will, and that it damages local control –of testing, data collection, curriculum and instruction.
The letter asks the board to keep these principles in mind while it moves away from Common Core: 1) maintain high academic standards; 2) keep the federal government out of educational decisions in Utah; and 3) preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection and instruction.
It also says, “Just as important as the actual educational standards is the process by which we arrive at those standards. This should be a Utah process with public comment and discourse.” It continues, “…[W]e all understand the shortcomings of a one-size-fits-all approach. It is imperative that any new standards are flexible enough to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts …I believe that our teachers need more freedom to be creative in the classroom.”
Well, those words are a surprise, and a miracle, to me.
Some people are suspicious because the governor’s in the middle of his re-election campaign, while his challenger, has been extremely successful with voting delegates because of his staunchly anti-Common Core stand. I was there when the governor got booed by a crowd over well over 1,000 delegates at the Utah County GOP Convention last month, when he spoke about Common Core; I know he is under campaign pressure, but he didn’t have to do this! He knew it would make him look like a fair-weather politician. He knew that most of those who are already voting for the more-conservative Johnson won’t change their minds and that those who already support Herbert won’t likely change their minds. So why did he really do it?
Maybe a key to why the governor wrote this letter is in its closing paragraph. His own children and grandchildren do not like the Common Core. The letter says, “I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had…”
What grandfather can stand up to his own grandchildren’s lobbying efforts against the Common Core? So he caved, in a good way. He’s publically admitted that Common Core is academically miserable and politically for socialists.
I cannot see this letter as anything but great news.
So what’s next? What will the Utah State School Board do?
I don’t think it can get away with yet another meaningless rebranding job. The now-somewhat-savvy Utah public won’t stand for that, knowing what so recently happened to Utah’s previously-good science standards, or knowing what happened when Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, Tennessee, Indiana, and other states passed Common Core repeal laws that resulted in nothing better, but common core 2.0 (under new names). To the dismay of those who actually wanted freedom and autonomy beyond the federal 15% no-change alignment “suggestion”, better standards didn’t actually mean, better standards. But we have the advantage of other states’ errors to learn from today.
The letter didn’t spell out every problem with education reform. For example, it didn’t say, “Let’s finally permit parents to opt children out of the federal/state data data monitoring system SLDS“.
But I don’t see the federal SLDS (Utah’s federally-provided student data mining system, which came to Utah alongside Common Core) very much longer reading “long life and happiness” in its fortune cookie. Why? Too many Utahns are aware that common data standards and common academic standards were a package deal from day one. Utah legislators recently passed bills that took protective action on student data privacy– taking a stand against the opposition’s national data-mining-and-monitoring movement. The governor will not be able to sidestep SLDS, even if he wants to. SLDS didn’t need to be in the letter because it’s on everyone’s mind.
One of my happiest thoughts, after seeing this letter, has been thinking about the countless Utah teachers and administrators who have previously not felt free to speak their minds about Common Core. The governor’s letter, in many ways (and unintentionally, perhaps) helps to reclaim freedom of speech to Utah educators. While educators opposed to Common Core have mostly remained quiet or anonymous, some of those who have not, have been bypassed, mistreated or branded as “insubordinate” for speaking out– for refusing to pretend to like Common Core –either academically or politically. Some have even been pushed to resign.
But now, if even the reigning governor is saying he’s not happy about the Common Core –academically nor in terms of lost local control– then finally, perhaps, any teacher or principal can pipe up, too.
So, this letter is very good news.
Thanks, Governor Herbert.
Student privacy rights are improving in Utah! Utah HB 358 passed and was funded this legislative session.
This is very happy news for many who have been extremely concerned about the lack of proper privacy protections in our state and country. Although the bill does not provide any opt-out ability for any student from the State Longitudinal Database System, which we’ve been asking for, for four years straight, it it does take important steps in the right direction.
The bill imposes some important restrictions on how information collected by school/government systems about a student can be stored, shared, and used. It also makes the Utah law much more protective than federal FERPA (which, as you know, was deliberately damaged by the USDOE in 2009 so that it is not protective of student privacy as it had been when first written by Congress decades ago.)
In HB 358, line 472, the new law defines who owns the data. The student.
472 (1) (a) A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data.
(Not the “village”.)
The bill also defines three types of personally identifiable data: necessary, optional, and prohibited.
For example, under “necessary” data, the bill names:
316 (a) name;
317 (b) date of birth;
318 (c) sex;
319 (d) parent contact information;
320 (e) custodial parent information;
321 (f) contact information;
322 (g) a student identification number;
323 (h) local, state, and national assessment results or an exception from taking a local,
324 state, or national assessment;
325 (i) courses taken and completed, credits earned, and other transcript information;
326 (j) course grades and grade point average;
327 (k) grade level and expected graduation date or graduation cohort;
328 (l) degree, diploma, credential attainment, and other school exit information;
329 (m) attendance and mobility;
330 (n) drop-out data;
331 (o) immunization record or an exception from an immunization record;
332 (p) race;
333 (q) ethnicity;
334 (r) tribal affiliation;
335 (s) remediation efforts;
336 (t) an exception from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203 or
337 information collected from a vision screening required under Section 53A-11-203;
Under “Prohibited data” which schools and third parties may not collect, the bill name:
806 …administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric
807 examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information… concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
811 (a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of
812 the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
813 (b) mental or psychological problems;
814 (c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
815 (d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
816 (e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close
817 family relationships;
818 (f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
819 (g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with
820 lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers…
Thank you, Representative Anderegg.
Read the rest of the bill here.
Please vote for Johnathan Johnson for Governor of Utah. Gary Herbert’s pretend-a-thon about Common Core has been growing increasingly desperate and despicable. Johnson doesn’t pretend that the nationalization and standardization of all things educational is acceptable, or that it’s not happening.
I actually keep the campaign mailers that Governor Herbert sends out, rather than sending them to the bird cage, because I see them as evidence in a crime scene.
“LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION,” crows one flier, “Governor Herbert played a key role in supporting Congress passing a law to prohibit federally mandated education standards– including Common Core”.
(I ran around my kitchen and shrieked and burned the pancakes the first time I read this mailer.)
ESSA, a fed ed monster bill that Herbert championed, certainly did claim that it would end fed ed in its talking points, but– since no one actually was allowed time to read it– Congress found out after the vote, in reading the over-a-thousand-pages-long language, that it did no such thing. Those of us who had been studying its predecessors knew what was in the crock pot.
Federal ESSA passed into law last Christmastime, when nobody had time to read or debate the 1,000+ page bill. (To make doubly sure no one would have time to read or debate the bill, the writers gave it to the voters in Congress TWO DAYS before the vote). Senator Lee protested loudly while Herbert promoted ESSA– just as he had so long openly promoted Common Core.
Despite what Governor Herbert or the Wall Street Journal may have said, ESSA didn’t end fed ed. It cemented the entire Common Core / common data standards / common tests / federally aligned preschool system. It just deleted the term “Common Core” so that millions who despised that term might be fooled. All the federal and corporate strings were still there.
Even Federal Education Arne Duncan admitted that.
Duncan, who gloated over the deception of so many Republicans, said, “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law [ESSA] are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core]… For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”
In that interview with Politico Pro, posted by Pulse2016, Duncan said, “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”
Duncan also said:
We had many, many conversations behind the scenes . . . . And I said for us to support [ESSA] they’d have to shed their far, far right [constituents who support the Constitution] . . . . I honestly didn’t know if they’d have the political courage to do that. But they both said they would and they did. I give them tremendous credit for that.
Duncan described an intentional betrayal by silence about the real agenda of ESSA:
We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed – intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill . . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff . . .
With such praise for ESSA coming from Duncan (and from Herbert) and with such condemnation of ESSA coming from Lee, Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, one can easily see who’s aligned with progressive, Obama Administration ideology.
Utah’s Congressional delegation very correctly cited local control being taken away as the reason for voting against ESSA. Senator Mike Lee was very clear on why ESSA should never pass. The governor must have heard the ear candy of the bill’s prominent promoters, notably LaMar Alexander and Paul Ryan– but did he dismiss the words of Senator Mike Lee about ESSA?
Did Governor Herbert believe that he alone recognized ESSA as cutting fed ed, while the famously conservative Lee, Stewart, Bishop, Love and Chaffetz saw it as growing fed ed? Did these Utah Congressmen vote against local control, and for federal control? Of course not; that’s why Herbert was vague on the mailer and did not actually use the term “ESSA”.
Herbert’s mailer also brags about Herbert being top dog at the National Governors Association (NGA). True, he is its chair, but that is not something to impress an actual conservative.
The NGA is not a constitutional congress of governors. It’s a trade group. Not all governors want to be in NGA. Some governors boldly criticize it. NGA is a closed-door, private club, not subject to sunshine laws, so no voter can influence (or even listen in on) what happens there. –And what does happen there? A lot of grant-taking from the likes of Bill Gates to push Common Core on the states, for one thing; copyrighting and attempting to sell America on the Common Core, for another. One non-NGA governor, LePage of Maine, said, “I get no value out of those [NGA] meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey.”
If NGA Chair Governor Herbert wasn’t flabbily playing both sides of the campaign fence, appearing to be pro-Common Core to D.C. and to the ed sales lobby, while appearing to be anti-common core in his mailer to conservative delegates like me, he might come out with a clear and unmistakable statement, like Governor LePage’s of Maine, who said, in addition to the quote above: “I don’t believe in Common Core. I believe in raising standards in education.”
But that wouldn’t fly with the Governor’s friends in his favorite, unconstitutionally recognized, high places: NGA, CCSSO, Prosperity 2020, the Education First lobby, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Parents and teachers in Utah have endured intense, years-long frustration as we have listened to the charade led by the governor, echoed by those friends in unconstitutionally recognized, high places. Herbert once said he aimed to “get to the truth” about Common Core. But the narrow, controlled “conversation” that Governor Herbert then led about Common Core, was light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted at his public meeting about Common Core: “Come and let us reason together.” There was no listening happening. Yes, he got his attorney general to say that Common Core was a locally controlled initiative, but that report was easily, factually rebutted.
If you want to see the governor’s four-year hypocrisy on Common Core newly documented, with links to the nuts and bolts of when and where Herbert promoted and defended Common Core, please read this week’s Herbert’s Common Core history article on Utahns Against Common Core by Oak Norton. It will knock your socks off.
Lastly: there’s more to object to than just Herbert’s federal rubber-stamping of nationalized education standards and tests and data gathering without consent. Look at other issues, just as important as education:
- Why did Herbert veto Constitutional Carry? Aren’t gun rights on the top of conservatives’ priority lists?
- Why did Herbert support the expansion of Obama’s ideas for “healthcare” here in Utah? Aren’t conservatives supposed to stand for fiscal realism and self-reliance and charity (as opposed to forcery –not a misspelling–)?
- Why did Herbert not refuse the SLDS data mining movement, the federally-built and paid-for “State Longitudinal Database System”–from which no child or parent or teacher may opt out— a system that inventories and profiles students without consent?
I will never forget that day, four years ago, in the governor’s office: it was just the governor, his bodyguard, and we three teachers and moms: my friends, Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, and me.
Although we explained our documented research about Common Core and common data collection (CEDS/SLDS) and gave Governor Herbert a thick binder that documented our research and our alarms; although we begged him to recognize the error and to steer away from these federally-promoted systems; although we pointed out that the State Office of Education was using zero documentation to support their pro-common core ear candy– the governor didn’t hear us.
He didn’t keep his promise to have us back in one month, after he and his legal staff had reviewed the issues, either.
He stayed his Common Core-promoting course and entrenched Utah further, using Prosperity 2020 and Education First as financial and political vehicles.
It was never about improving education.
Read Johnathan Johnson’s campaign site. It is a breath of fresh air.
With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.
POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-
BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL
We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.
See lines 82-85: “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84 (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85 (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”
By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes. That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education. How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise? Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid. VOTE NO.
KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH
COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL
We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to be replaced by the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.
As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out: “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge. Here’s some evidence. CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities. So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”
With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).
This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.
To: email@example.com,”V. Lowry Snow” <firstname.lastname@example.org>,LaVar Christensen <email@example.com>,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,Francis Gibson <firstname.lastname@example.org>,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2
Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections. I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah. Thank you very much for your attention.
February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee
Dear House Education Committee:
I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.
I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.
The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.
I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.
Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.
This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.
One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.
Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10
Early Life – 10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095
Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: email@example.com Website: www.earlylifepsych.com
If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Lowry Snow email@example.com 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen firstname.lastname@example.org 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman email@example.com 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler firstname.lastname@example.org 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason email@example.com 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson firstname.lastname@example.org 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson email@example.com
Rep. Eric Hutchings firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Lifferth email@example.com 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay firstname.lastname@example.org 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel email@example.com 435-616-5603
Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.
Currently in the Utah legislature, poised to become law, is HB 0246.
I read, in the Tribune, that Representative Brian King felt that the bill was important because, “Knowledge is power,” and “I don’t believe in keeping our kids ignorant.”
They certainly won’t be ignorant– nor innocent; not a chance.
With this bill, we meet its parent: the Common Sexuality Education Standards movement. Slightly more twisted than the other sets of common standards, it has hit Utah through HB 0246, Rep. Brian King’s bill– oddly titled “Reproductive Health Amendments”.
Now, along with CCSS (Common Core for English/Math) and along with NGSS (common science standards) and along with AP US History (common un-history standards) –here are common, national, sexuality education standards. Like the “common standards” predecessors, this set is twisted ethically, is “progressive” politically, and is anti-local-control.
Be clear, because I wasn’t until today: “Sexuality Education,” which this bill offers us, is not the same thing as “Sex Education”. At all. Old fashioned sex ed can be compared to a civics class that teaches kids that there is such a thing as voting, while “Sexuality Ed” is like a civics class that teaches kids which political party to join. National Sexuality Standards are here to change beliefs and values about sex, not to teach the biology or the consequences of sex.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council (SIECUS, co-promoter of common sexuality standards –as well as a top promoter of abortion) defines it thus:
“Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values.”
Sex ed was about the science of reproduction; legitimate, academically. Sexuality education is actually a new religion– it forms beliefs and values.
This bill gives Utah “comprehensive sexuality education” starting with children about nine years old.
Before we read what’s in the bill– first, let’s look at what was taken out of Utah’s previous sex education law.
You see a lot of
crossed out words. These used to be in the law and won’t be, if HB0246 passes. Read them.
Why were these struck out?
[(A) the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage, and fidelity
106 after marriage, as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and]
107 [(B) personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.]
108 [(ii) (A) At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous
109 questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the
110 violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.]
Am I reading this correctly? Will Utah teachers be forbidden from teaching fidelity and abstinence as viable methods for preventing communicable diseases? And, are Utah teachers no longer forbidden from providing instruction that might encourage violation of laws?
What illegal acts will we be teaching, then? Are these words referring to abortion-related laws, or pedophilia, or what? There was some reason why were these lines were removed, and the law altered. I want to know what that was.
Here’s more that got removed from Utah’s previous standard:
156 abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:];
157 [(I) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;]
158 [(II) the advocacy of homosexuality;]
159 [(III) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices;
161 [(IV) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage;]
It appears that Utah teachers are no longer prohibited from teaching students the “intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage“. They can “teach” all of it, if the bill passes; nothing says they can’t.
I have to say, with a grain of gratitude, that this bill does look slightly less horrific than the National Sexuality Standards in full, in one way: the Utah bill delays comprehensive sexuality classes until after third grade. The National Sex Standards begin several years earlier, in kindergarten.
Otherwise, they are in synch. The language and intent matches, and the Utah bill is patterned after the national sex standards, as part of the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE). –For example, if you click on the FoSE link, as with the SIECUS link, it uses and defines “comprehensive sexuality education,” the term that the Utah bill also uses 12 times.
The Utah bill plans to start sex ed after grade three, so know this: the National Sexuality Education Standards for grades 3-5 include: being able to describe male and female reproductive anatomy and functions; being able to describe the changes of puberty; and being able to “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.”
Do you feel fine about forcing –on children as young as nine years old– “lessons” on genital anatomy, reproduction, puberty and both hetero- and homosexuality? At what point is this not science, not biology, not decent? At what young age do sexual education lessons cross the line, becoming something other than teaching truth?
At what point would any statement about sex be declared by decent people to be improper, perverted, deviant, and emotionally abusive? For me, that time is right now.
A term I see getting flashed around a lot in FoSE and HB0246 is “age-appropriate”. Age-appropriate– by whose definition? By whose values? ( Before you answer, before you research the people behind the national initiative, let me stop you: Laughably, the Utah bill prohibits political doctrine –as well as religious or other) from being taught. See lines 67, 205. So none of these lessons or standards are, in any way, political, we are to convince ourselves.)
Reading the bill and reading the national sex standards initiative’s documents, I think: never have I understood more clearly the idea that there are no such thing as age appropriate standards. Every child is different. Every developmental stage is different. What one child asks about, and is ready to learn at an early age, another child is horrified to speak of until a decade later. Being insensitive to that fact, by promoting one-sized set of national standards, top-down, on a topic as sensitive and potentially damaging to a child as personal morality and sexuality, is child abuse.
By 6th-8th grade, the national sex standards have children defining sexual intercourse; differentiating between gender identity, sexual expression, and gender expression; explaining “the range of gender roles”; and defining sexual abstinence only as it relates to pregnancy prevention.
In the Utah bill, “abstinence” is explained using words that I find to be pornographic, especially in the context of having a sixth grader (eleven year old) read it. See line 95-96.
95 (f) “Sexual abstinence” means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or
96 genital skin-to-skin contact.
There should be a whole bill written prohibiting the exposure of an innocent mind to that sentence. That’s not the curriculum or the test; that’s just the legislation about it. And it seems at cross-purposes to define the term that is no longer to be part of the message. (Abstinence is out, they said.)
The National Sex Standards have high school students analyzing the influences that impact when and whether they engage in sexual behaviors; differentiating between biological sex and sexual orientation; demonstrating ways to communicate about when and whether to engage in sexual behaviors; oddly, at this point there is little to no scientific or reproductive aspect of sex education– it’s about activity and engagement.
Notice, in HB 0246, that students will be:
129 reducing the number of sexual partners
The bill also pushes “day-after” contraception/abortion:
138 (ix) provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using
139 contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding
140 emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods.
That’s all I’m going to say about the bill itself. Read it, and tell your legislators what you think about it.
Some people are afraid of being labeled as conservatives, as believers in God, or as morally strict. Please don’t let the promoters of this bill intimidate you by calling you a backwoodsy, out of touch, prudish, fearful, religious, whatever. This bill, and these standards, are way beyond anything academically or ethically reasonable.
This fight in front of us, Utahns, is about protecting our children, unmuddied by SIECUS’s extreme political agenda.
It is an agenda of zero morality.
Pretending that sexuality education can be taught without reference to conscience, modesty, or morality, is a lie. There is such a thing as human conscience, and right and wrong, especially where sexuality is concerned.
(I keep thinking about the lesson from last Sunday, in church: “The Body is a Temple“. The body is so much more than an object for pleasure. Every body is holy, housing a spirit child of God. Procreation is how God’s millions of beautiful children form physical families. That matters– how it happens, when and with whom it happens, all matters– almost more than anything else that the body can do. Yes, human sexuality is good and right, but steering it is not a free-for-all. It is not without a governing morality.)
That’s where the national sex standards, and HB 0246, are wrong. They pretend that human beings are without morality, without a sense of right and wrong, and that there is no unhappy consequence beyond disease or unplanned pregnancy that could result from acting out sexually, in any way, and at any age. Those are lies.
One of the main tests of life is “Will my body rule over my spirit, or will my spirit rule over my body? Will I yield to the natural or to the eternal?” We get to choose. These standards say that, in essence, there is only a body, no spirit; and there is no reason to restrain whims.
I’m not suggesting that Utah–or any state– should teach denominational religious doctrine in public schools. Of course not.
I am saying that it is wrong to promote and teach a prescribed, “new” morality (in my mind, the same, old fashioned, immorality). It is so wrong to teach little ones, nine years old, heterosexuality and homosexuality, in a school setting. It is wrong to teach that there is no such thing as perversion, nor anything wrong with sex obsession, or gender reversals. It is wrong to include so many teachings about deviant and degrading sexual behaviors as if they were normal and good, while excluding fidelity and chastity from the conversation.
(For future reference, some organizations, listed as promoting the National Sexuality Education Standards, are: the National Education Association, the American School Health Association, the American Association of Health Education, the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, the Future of Sex Education Initiative, The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) and Advocates for Youth. Consultants listed include: Planned Parenthood; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Netword (GLSEN) and many more. Utah’s standardized test provider, American Institutes for Research, (AIR) is openly on board with the National Sexuality Education Standards and its values, too.)
Buried deep in a 2012 report on “Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics,” the US Department of Education states that one of the key applications of educational data mining is “user profiling” (page 25).
The paragraph says: “These application areas are (1) modeling of user knowledge, user behavior, and user experience; (2) user profiling; (3) modeling of key concepts in a domain and modeling a domain’s knowledge components, (4) and trend analysis.”
Later on, in Exhibit 1, we see a flow chart. It shows “student learning data” flowing into the “predictive model,” the “intervention engine” and then into the “adaptation engine.” Clearly, the goal is government-directed behavior modification following student psychological profiling.
This is sad, because “users” now include even babies, since the Department of Education has successfully pushed ESSA into law, with its “early childhood education” programs that are included in the citizen data mining venture.
The Educational Data Mining report of 2012 is not the only such report from the U.S. Department of Education. Related is its 2013 report, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance” which contained more of the same psychological data gathering goals.
The “Promoting Grit” report included pictures of biometric sensory devices: pressure mouse sensors, posture analysis seats, facial expression cameras, and wireless skin conductance sensors, which would mine student psychological elements, including “grit,” “tenacity,” “perseverance” and more.
In SETRA (the Strengthening Education Through Research Act, currently in the US House of Representatives, having somehow passed the Senate) we find that the federal research programs will be strengthened and enlarged so that more data, including “social and emotional learning” will be gathered for federal use.
Philosophical and constitutional questions need to be hotly debated by the House of Representatives. More importantly, these need discussion at the dinner table, by moms and dads and teachers and principals and school board members:
- Will American children grow up free– as self-governing, free agents, with intellectual and moral privacy and the accompanying power to soar outside any box, as well as the power to fail? How, if even their thoughts and beliefs are monitored and subjected to “intervention”?
- Do Americans want students to be profiled, centrally managed, and nudged in a predetermined, government-and-workforce approved direction –constantly monitored and told what to do? If so, what qualifies central planners to trump individuals’ and families’ desires?
- Does widespread societal faith in “experts” relegate personal privacy and real autonomy to historical artifact? Should personal data be studied and behavior “intervened” by unsupervised central planners? Will this really keep us “safe,” as cogs in a centrally managed, economy-focused collective? Do we want to be a government-branded herd, or free, individual, human beings?
Here come the practical questions for how all this profiling may pan out.
- If we allow government to keep psychological profiles (not just on students– since the P-20 Workforce Pipeline means preschool through workforce citizens get tagged) –then, what happens if a thirty year-old wants to buy a gun, and his background check comes back negatively because when he was in 5th grade, his data was interpreted to mean future depressed individual? And what if his 5th grade data was incorrect?
- What if “at-risk academically” is redefined and applied to a student for attending a private, religious, or home school?
- What if “mentally unstable” is applied to anyone who does not agree with what is being taught in school?
- What if “socially deviant” is applied to anyone who disagrees, or is bored with, collectivist groupthink and group work? –The “what if” list could be endless.
We don’t want to see any “what if”s come to pass. We can put proper protections in place. Legislators, write bills and voters, actively push to get them passed –laws that will deny researchers, school systems and governments access to psychologically profiling, via tests, curricula, and standards without informed, written consent.
The fact that “profiling’s already here” is no excuse. We can begin where we are, and take a stand today. It is true that our students are already being psychologically profiled, to some degree, by the government and schools, already: look at the math standard for Common Core that requires a student to be tagged for presence or absence of “perseverance”. That’s not about math; that’s about psychology and character.
The perseverance tag and others like it will certainly be on the SAGE (Common Core, CEDS aligned) tests; notably in Utah and Florida, which use tests created and scored by the behavioral research company AIR (American Institutes for Research).
For additional evidence of current psychological profiling, look at Utah’s “Student Strengths Inventory,” which gathers nonacademic data on high schoolers.
But none of that is any excuse.
If rain is leaking through a hole in the kitchen, that does not mean we can innocently stand by while someone pokes holes in our living room roof and the bedroom ceiling, and makes plans for the removal of the roof.
The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. To that I add, if governments and corporations were angels, no privacy protections would be necessary; student data would be consensually collected, analyzed, and used to bless the lives and enlarge the opportunities of every student. But men, governments, and corporations are not angels. That’s why We, the People, need to stop invasive bills like federal SETRA; it’s why we need to write and pass good, protective laws locally.
Take action today.
Write a letter. Make a phone call. Meet with a legislator. Pray with great faith; miracles of knowledge and understanding and miracles within political workings are needed, to awaken an asleep populace and to build up protections for our children’s minds, hearts, and freedoms.