Archive for the ‘Links to Further Evidence That Utah Should Exit Common Core and the SBAC test consortium’ Category
Jane Robbins and Jakell Sullivan co-authored this article at Townhall.com, which is reposted here with permission. Please note the links to learn more.
In May 2014, conservative columnist George Will warned that Common Core represented the “thin edge of an enormous wedge” and that “sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum.”
Will’s concern is now closer to realization. One lever the U.S. Department of Education (USED) may use to hasten this outcome is the #GoOpen Initiative, through which USED will push onto the states Common Core-aligned online instructional materials. These materials are “openly licensed educational resources” (Open Educational Resources, or OER) – online resources that have no copyright and are free to all users. Utah is part of the initial consortium of states that will be collaborating in #GoOpen.
#GoOpen is part of a larger global and federal effort to institute OER in place of books and traditional education (in fact, USED appointed a new advisor to help school districts transition to OER). More disturbingly, another part of this scheme increases the federal government’s ability to monitor and track teacher and student use of these online resources – and perhaps even influence the content.
This outcome could result from a related, joint USED-Department of Defense initiative called the Learning Registry. The Registry is an “open-source infrastructure” that can be installed on any digital education portal (such as PBS) and that will facilitate the aggregation and sharing of all the linked resources on the Registry. The idea is to “tag” digital content by subject area and share on one site supposedly anonymous data collected from teacher users (content such as grade-level, recommended pedagogy, and user ratings). That way, Registry enthusiasts claim, teachers can find instructional content to fit their particular needs and see how it “rates.”
Putting aside the question whether USED should push states into a radical new type of instruction that presents multiple risks to students and their education (see here, here, and here), the Learning Registry threatens government control over curriculum. Here’s how.
USED has proposed a regulation requiring “all copyrightable intellectual property created with [USED] discretionary competitive grant funds to have an open license.” So, all online instructional materials created with federal dollars will have to be made available to the Registry, without copyright restrictions.
[Federal law prohibits USED from funding curricular materials in the first place, but this Administration’s violation of federal law has become routine.]
The Registry will compile all user data and make “more sophisticated recommendations” about what materials teachers should use. So federal money will fund development of curricular materials that will be placed on a federally supported platform so that the feds can make “recommendations” about their use. The repeated intrusion of the word “federal” suggests, does it not, a danger of government monitoring and screening of these materials.
And speaking of “user data” that will fuel all this, the Registry promises user anonymity. But consider the example of Netflix movie ratings, in which two researchers were able to de-anonymize some of the raters based on extraordinarily sparse data points about them.
Despite Netflix’s intention to maintain user anonymity, its security scheme failed. How much worse would it be if the custodian of the system – in our case, USED – paid lip service to anonymity but in fact would like to know who these users are? Is Teacher A using the online materials that preach climate change, or does he prefer a platform that discusses both sides? Does Teacher B assign materials that explore LGBT issues, or does she avoid those in favor of more classical topics? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know.
In fact, in a 2011 presentation, USED’s bureaucrat in charge of the Registry, Steve Midgley, veered awfully close to admitting that user data may be less anonymous than advertised. Midgley said, “[Through the Registry] we can actually find out this teacher assigned this material; this teacher emailed this to someone else; this teacher dragged it onto a smart board for 18 minutes. . . .” [see video below]. The Registry will also use “the math that I don’t understand which [will] let me know something about who you are and then let me do some mathematical operations against a very large data set and see if I can pair you with the appropriate relevant resource.”
Sure, all this will supposedly be done anonymously. But teachers should hesitate to embrace something that could possibly reveal more about them than they bargained for.
USED would protest that this is all hypothetical, and that it would never abuse its power to influence teachers and control instructional content. But with this most ideological of all administrations, denials of ill intent ring hollow (remember Lois Lerner?). If the power is there, at some point it will be used. Never let an “enormous wedge” go to waste.
Thank you, Jakell Sullivan and Jane Robbins, for this eye-opening report.
Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards posted the following incredibly important video of this week’s “Information Security Review” of the US Department of Education which was led by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz.
Please watch it.
Chaffetz opens the discussion (minutes 1-9) showing slides of the US Department of Education getting an “F” in protecting student data –with negative scores across every category. The students’ vulnerability, Rep Chaffetz says, is huge, not only students but for their parents, because of data collected, for example, in the National Student Loan Database which collects data that families fill out and submit together.
(He doesn’t mention this, but each state’s SLDS system gathers and feeds data from your child’s schoolwork to the state to the feds, too; for example, via the EdFacts Data Exchange.)
Next, Chaffetz says that the Dept. of Education is responsible for 4 billion dollars in improper payments (minute 8:30) which will be discussed in the next hearing in detail (not during this one).
After summarizing the mismanagement of funds and data, Chaffetz summarizes the gargantuan harms of the Department of Education: “It has become a monster, an absolute monster. We don’t know who’s in there; we don’t know what they’re doing.”
Then, the hearing begins.
Listen at minute 43 to minute 47. Those four minutes blew my mind. The US Dept. of Education’s representative, Dr. Harris, nervously skirts having to directly answer the question, at first, of how many databases it holds. It admits to three. The chairman says that it has at least 123, but if you count all of the data contractors, there are countless more. The only way that the Dept. of Education can say it only has three is by pretending that it is not responsible for, or does not subcontract out, the service, the questioner points out. And those high numbers of organizations collecting data for the US Dept. of Education mean a high probability that data will be compromised.
Meanwhile, most people believe that student data remains with the teacher and principal; those who do know that there’s a state/federal database believe that it’s a good thing; and they tell me that my opposition to permitting databases to stalk our kids is baseless, that the Utah State Office of Education does not release individual students’ information and that nonconsensual student data mining could never have a down side.
Reblogged from Wendy Hart’s blog here.
Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart had an interview with the Teachers’ Association to determine if they would be endorsing her re-election. After that meeting, she wrote this blog post, an open letter to the teachers in her school district. Here’s a portion:
For Teachers Only
“…As an employee, perhaps you can’t speak out if you find things amiss. It’s your job; you have to do it. It’s the same with my job. Sometimes you just have to put a smile on your face and do what needs to be done whether you agree with it or not. I completely understand that. Do I wish it weren’t the case? Yes. But I acknowledge the reality of it. Elected officials, however, are elected for a reason. We can’t be fired or lose our jobs for speaking out, except at the hands of voters. If anyone is going to stand up for teachers against a program that isn’t good, it must be the elected officials. And every new change, program or implementation that comes along really should be debated, discussed and vetted all the way along the line, especially at the local level. Let’s take something we probably agree on: teacher evaluations being tied to SAGE testing. This is wrong. I’ve said so. I will continue to say so. It, too, is state law. We have to do it. But it’s horribly wrong. Placing so much of a teacher’s evaluation and thus, his/her livelihood on a single (pilot) test is absolutely the worst use of a standardized test. Like the Common Core, should we just go along with it and be supportive? I know you all will do the best you can, trying not to focus overly much on the test and still teach as professionals, but it’s got to weigh you down. The direction we are doing is that once all education and all educators are evaluated on a single test, funding will follow. It’s nice and simple, but still wrong. I can’t sit by and be supportive. I have to find a way to scream from the rooftops that this can’t work, and that it gives way too much authority to the test makers over teachers, over local boards, over HOW standards are taught in the classroom.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago, my son had a phenomenal teacher. He LOVED class, loved her lessons, enjoyed nearly every moment. He learned a lot and enjoyed it. She even expressed appreciation that he had shushed the rest of the class one time because he wanted to learn what she had to teach. Do you think I cared what he got on the CRT’s that year? Nope. I don’t think I even looked at them. He had a wonderful year with a wonderful teacher. That was worth more to me (and to him) than any standardized test score. And I am afraid that, despite her best efforts, that love and that thrill of teaching will be reduced to making sure she can keep her job by getting higher test scores. (Note: She was/is his favorite. But he’s had many, many others who were just as wonderful, just as dedicated, and just as appreciated.) I don’t choose and evaluate my kids’ teachers by their test scores. So, back to Common Core. It is top-down, which violates the principle of local control.
A little bit of local control isn’t local control. And just to be clear, my opposition isn’t just with the standards. The Common Core standards come in a nice little package along with tying test scores to teacher evaluations, courtesy of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver. The other two parts of that package are 1) a longitudinal database on students and teachers and 2) “improving” low-performing schools (determined by the test scores and “improved” by shutting them down and bringing in private enterprises, and redistributing successful teachers to these “failing” schools). The entire package is flawed, and it’s flawed on principle. You, as a teacher, need to be able to have the freedom to connect with your students–the freedom to do what you know is best, regardless of where the student falls on the ‘testing’ rubric.
The Common Core Standards are just one tree in that forest of standardizing everything: tests, schools, teachers, curriculum. Already, there are calls to use the copyright of the Common Core standards to ‘certify’ curriculum. And, in the end, if your wonderful lesson plan doesn’t deliver the results on the test (even if it delivers the results you, your students, and your students’ parents want), it won’t be around for very much longer.
You got into teaching because you love kids, and you wanted to be able to affect their lives for the better through education. You have natural talents and professional training on how to make that human-to-human connection that makes teachers irreplaceable. We need more of the individual attention you provide. Common Core, with its associated numbers-driven, top-down, accountability to the state, not parents, can only take education in the wrong direction. The Common Core standards, and the rest of the NCLB Waiver package, will reduce teachers to standards-implementers, test-preppers, and data points. I realize this is your job, and you have to make the best of whatever is presented to you. But that is why we have school boards and a political process. It is my job to fight against policies that interfere with the parent-child-teacher partnership. I am happy to do this job. I hope you will understand that my opposition to Common Core and its “package” is to support you as the professional you are. Our community must stand strong and eliminate all obstacles that stand in the way of you doing your job and realizing the highest aspirations that originally brought you into education.
You may not be able to do it, but I should.”
Click to hear this week’s KFI radio interview with Dr. Bill Evers on Common Core, on KFI AM, Los Angeles. Dr. Evers is a scholar at the Hoover Institute of Stanford University. He has been an outspoken critic of the Common Core initiative from the beginning of the movement.
In addition to this radio Q & A with Dr. Evers, you’ll get to hear some VERY lively clips of parents, including a terrible one I hadn’t heard before about “daddy-baby biology”. (It is an example of the kinds of negative “curricular” value shifting that’s trickling into school rooms now, as more and more local control goes away under the Common Core power shift.)
In this interview, Dr. Evers also reminds listeners that they can legally opt their children out of any test for any reason at any time.
None of us have enough time to process, comprehend and then fight against all of the intrusions on our time and our God-given rights and liberty.
But some things are more important than others. And fighting the adoption of Common Core-aligned science standards and textbooks must be high on the To-Do list.
Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman explains it in a great article found here. http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards
She writes: “Individual liberty advocates counter that centralization in education is as foolish and damaging as centralizing the economy. They note the ideological tendencies of science education toward politics as a substitute for actual science, particularly in the area of highly debatable global warming alarmism, which is falsely assumed as reality in these standards. The standards also promote a simplified understanding of science and are still incoherent despite revisions…. They ignore central scientific concepts and push a progressive teaching style that has been proven to erode student learning…”
Yet textbook companies are rewriting science to align to the false assumptions of common core, so even those states who wisely rejected the common core or who aim to do so, will likely end up with common core textbooks anyway.
Here’s a letter I wrote to my local and state school boards and superintendents today.
Dear Superintendent and School Boards,
Our homeschooling group attended the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City yesterday. What a wonderful museum. The Mummy exhibit was fascinating, the hands-on digital learning activities were great, the craft workshop and prosthetics exhibits and art were absolutely engaging for visitors of all ages.
But in the multi-room exhibit entitled “Human Rights Exhibit,” visitors were shown not only ecology art, but vocabulary words in the context of the claim that human behavior is killing plant and animal life –and will likely kill off the human race. There were paintings of futuristic apartment projects teetering dangerously close to the ocean, on islands and cliffs. The captions stated that because of the FACT of global warming and oceanic flooding, people will be living like this.
I use this as an example of the unscientific assumptions and lies being taught all around us, which are also loading the common core-aligned science standards and science textbooks coming our way.
Let’s not turn a blind eye to the ongoing politically-based rewrite of actual science. Let’s stand independent of this. Let’s actually teach the kids hard science based on settled facts as we did in all the wise years up till now.
For a detailed list of news articles and science reviews of Common Core science standards and textbooks, please read this.
We have Martell Menlove’s word that Utah will never adopt Common Core science and social studies standards. But with the majority of textbook companies belonging to the monopoly of the insanely unrepresentative system of Common Core, we as a state have to go out of our way to find true science for our kids. Let’s do it.
Thanks for listening.
Green Insanity in the Schools Update:
You have to read this woman’s blog. First, she and her husband protested the Disney-like green propaganda film that was shown to the elementary school children to “teach” them that humans are destroying the earth. Then she was banned from volunteering in the school. Then she was reinstated. Sigh.