Archive for the ‘Teachers’ Rights’ Category

USBA Joins USDOE in Trying to Take Away Families’ Freedom to #OPTOUT: Common Core RISE same as Common Core SAGE   8 comments

Educational freedom needs defending.  Children need defending.  Parental rights need defending.

As its new legislative priority, the USBA lobby has set this bullying doozy:  forcing all students to take the Common Core tests and getting rid of the parental legal power to opt a child out of taking the tests, for any reason.

The Lehi Free Press reported that USBA passed a motion: “…every student that receives the benefit of state-funded education should participate in state created end-of-year assessments…”  While students are taught not to bully others,  the state may set the example of bullying both students and parents with this new priority.

Meanwhile, the state is also trying to convince parents and teachers that the much-hated Common Core SAGE tests are gone, so we should have no reason to opt out; trust the new Common Core RISE tests, they say.

This USOE video promoting Utah’s new, Common Core RISE test, which will replace Utah’s Common Core SAGE test for most grades, can do nothing to appease unhappy parents and teachers, because RISE is so similar to SAGE.  The film praises the things it shared in common with the SAGE test.  And that is like praising the rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Watching the promo film, I felt sad as lovely teachers, with beautiful things to say, each avoided speaking directly about the dark issues of the Common Core tests. The  issues with SAGE testing that caused about 10% of all Utah parents to opt their children out of the tests, are STILL THERE in the test called RISE.

If you watch the film to the end and are still wondering, “What specifically are these interviewees praising?  And what’s improved with RISE over SAGE?!” — just go to the Utah State Office of Education’s “Frequently Asked Questions” link.  It confirms that there’s no real difference, despite what the film implies.

Wendy Hart of Utah’s largest school district, Alpine District, has said of RISE, “It’s like saying that the city got a new library– because they replaced the catalog software.  But the building, the books and the patrons are the same.”

State Board members, local board members, and Utah teachers who oppose RISE (as they opposed SAGE) were of course not invited to participate in the filming of this taxpayer funded, RISE-promo film.

The facts are that as with SAGE, with RISE:  parents are still not in the loop, the tests are still secretive, the tests are still not local, are not coming from teachers of these students; the tests are still founded on controversial Common Core standards, not local charter standards or Utah-built standards, and the tests are still collecting academic and nonacademic data to share with corporate, federal and state entities (not just with the  teachers, as the film implies).   https://www.schools.utah.gov/file/04be9c35-71ea-41e2-8a78-2dc39195ad6f

The initiative to try to get Utahns to embrace RISE illustrates the new bullying hierarchy: the federal government is strong-arming the state government via ESSA, and so the state now has decided to strong-arm parents, asking them to strong-arm the students.

The RISE test promo-film is step one toward forcing the kids.  But the story really began with federal ESSA.  For backstory, read Utah State School Board member Michelle Boulter’s article at her campaign website, and Autumn Cook’s article published by The Federalist.  The Federalist article by Autumn Cook details the federal mandating drive for tests, that may soon quash Utah’s rights to opt children out of tests for any reason.  She raises many interesting questions, including this one: “Utah’s hightest opt-out rates occur among economically advantaged, non-minority student populations with highly involved parents… so will this agreement direct Title 1 money away from schools with higher financial needs and toward well-to-do schools with high opt out rates?  And what form with federal remediation of non-compliant local schools take?”

At stake are the following freedoms:  academic freedom within Utah schools; the freedom for a parent to opt a student out of testing– for any reason; freedom for a school to follow its own, foundational education charter (rather than veering toward new, test-centric curriculum– to avoid being labeled a failing school) the freedom for a school not to pressure students and parents to take Common Core tests, the freedom for schools to actually be different from one another; the freedom for parents or elected representatives, not the federal government, to determine which schools “need” remediation.

Please write or call your school boards, state board members (at Board@schools.utah.gov) and legislators:  https://le.utah.gov  

Tell them that you expect them to protect children from bullying at any level, and that you expect them to defend academic freedom, school freedom, parental rights, and student’s rights.

 

 

Will Utah Quash Families’ Opt-Out Rights?   4 comments

Many tens of thousands of public school students, whose parents regularly opt out of Common Core testing, may lose the right to do so.

When federal ESSA passed in 2015, it claimed veto power for the federal education department– over every state’s educational plan.  Utah humbly asked the feds for a waiver, so that Utah would remain free to opt out of federally promoted tests. (Until this time, Utahns were unquestionably protected by state law that claims primary authority for parents, with schools/state in a supporting role.) The federal department said no to Utah’s waiver request.

So, state school board and legislators are in a pickle:  will they honor state law and protect parental rights, or honor federal ESSA’s unconstitutional veto power, and force all parents to force all children to take Common Core tests?

The state school board is divided on this question.  –That’s interesting, since the Utah board was not even permitted by the state superintendent to vote on our new plan –which the federal government has now vetoed.

 

Michelle Boulter, Utah State School Board

 

Michelle Boulter of the state board says:

“…In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State lawa state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

… exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states…

…This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members [ Board@schools.utah.gov  ] and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power.”

After reading state school board member Michelle Boulter’s letter and local Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s comments on the subject, I wrote to the state board. Kathleen Riebe wrote back. Here is that exchange.  –And here is the email if you want to write, too: Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Letter one: 

Dear Board,
ESSA is pressuring Utah to subvert our state laws and parental rights. Please don’t do it.
I agree with state school board member Michelle Boulter, who wrote:
https://electmichelleboulter.com/2018/08/08/the-state-of-utah-is-negotiating-away-parental-rights
Similarly, ASD school board Wendy Hart said to the state board:
http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/08/essa-opt-out-denial-from-feds-my.html

Wendy Hart, Alpine District School Board

It’s a terrible idea to pit teachers against parents who opt out of Common core tests.  Caving to federal demands that the state quash testing opt outs does that.
The problem isn’t the parents opting kids out of Common Core testing, nor can we blame teachers/schools who, fearing mislabeling due to low scores resulting from opt outs, might pressure parents to opt in.
The problem is office of education bureaucrats who mindlessly swallow unconstitutional suggestions made by the federal DOE, and who misadvise state school board members, without respect for principles of local control, telling them to nod and sign.
Listen to the wisdom of elected officials who have spoken clearly on the ESSA situation: Michelle Boulter and Wendy Hart. They point out that we can and must protect the state’s liberties as well as relationships between parents and teachers.
As an opting-out parent  of children in public schools, and as a certified Utah teacher, thank you.
Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove
Response one:

Thank you for your concern.

As a parent, teacher and a taxpayer, I appreciate that my students have an opportunity to display their knowledge and that they were taught the content required. About 90% of our families share my feelings.

Transparency and accountability are major concerns of my constituents.

USBE has worked hard to find a solution with the federal government.  The board will follow the laws and work with the legislature to seek new funding to ensure the best opportunities for all our students.

Kathleen Riebe M.Ed.

State School Board Member

District 10

801-599-5753

Letter two:

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for responding.
There are over 650,000 enrolled public school students in the state of Utah. If about 90 percent are opting to participate in Common Core testing, that leaves about 65,000 students, and 130,000 parents, who are opting out. That’s no small potatoes.
Does it feel right to you to eliminate the authority and conscience of 195,000  Utahns, especially considering the fact that Utah law places primary authority to parents, with the state/schools in a secondary, supporting role.
They’re opting out for a plethora of very valid, very important reasons. Some kids become anxious and depressed to the point of suicidal behaviors due to high-pressure testing. Some parents don’t approve of the secretive nature of the tests, and of the tests’ never having been tested or validated independently. Some parents oppose psychometric evaluation embedded in academic tests. Some parents recognize that these tests pressure schools and teachers, even against their school charters and their professional judgment, to redefine their curriculum and teaching traditions.
I implore you to support the rights of these people and the Utah law that puts parental / family authority first in education.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

UT Senate Passes Ed-Dictatorship Bill; Will House Agree?   7 comments

Update 3/8/16  – Friends in Ohio and Florida have confirmed that this exact bill (elimination of elected school boards) is being pushed there.  Watch the “greedom-over-freedom” ed-tech lobbies, such as Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, Global Silicon Valley investment group, Bill Gates,  Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and Economy, and Pearson, whose investments benefit  from the streamlined elimination of voter input.

The bill in Utah has passed the Senate and is being considered in the House with a (pointless) amendment that would add to the appointed dictator-superintendent, an appointed-not-elected board.  Several House members are opposing the bill right now.  One rare senator who voted against the bill said in an email, “I couldn’t believe this may pass with no input – I like that the voters will determine if this goes to the ballot, but it’s a lot to explain to voters.”  Yes, it is!

I’ve added contact emails for senators and representatives below.

 


 

SJR16, Senator Jim Dabakis’ bill to abolish the voice of voters in Utah education by abolishing the elected State School Board, passed the Utah Senate this week.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune states: “Dabakis argued that the change would empower voters”.

Dabakis’ claim is a ridiculous lie.  The very short bill  (SJR16) has only two elements, as it slashes at the Utah Constitution:  1) to eliminate the elected board, and 2) to have no election and no representation at all.  A solitary, governor-appointed superintendent would supervise all of Utah’s education system by him/herself.

This bill puts voters dead last, of course– because no vote will ever select the governor-appointed, solo-flying, unremovable superintendent.

An email from a Utah legislator who supports SJR16 argued:  “Think of the current state board as a school bus with fifteen different steering wheels all driving in different directions….if one person is in charge, it’s harder for them to pass the buck.”

If he applied that reasoning to his own seat in the legislature, then there should be no legislature, but a king instead.  And if the Senate gets the House to agree, and if the voters agree, then there will be an Education King of Utah.

It is up to the members of the House of Representatives to kill this awful bill  that the Senate has approved.  If they don’t, voters get one chance to end it. But will they?  Will we all take the time to look at the history surrounding this long-planned effort?

This bill may have been sponsored by the notorious Democrat Jim Dabakis, but he didn’t come up with the idea of eliminating elected school boards.  Blatant enemies of local control came up with the idea years ago and their ploy is ticking along even better than they’d planned.   See the GSV’s graphic below.  The “battle plan” of this investment company started with Common Core, and about ten years later, it planned to eliminate school boards. Utah’s leadership is listening to and acting on these plans —because of investment.  Because dollars speak more loudly than children do.

Look at two movers and shakers from outside Utah, who are shaping Utah policy in this direction.  One is a socialist and the other is a corporate hog.  Both are instrumental in changing Utah’s formerly representative system:  Meet Marc Tucker and Deborah Quazzo.

 

 

MARC TUCKER, THE SOCIALIST

To know Marc Tucker, simply peruse his report on Governing American Education, which says: “And the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education:  local control... much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.

You can also study his infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, which was made part of the U.S. Congressional Record. The letter outlined Tucker’s vision of a communist-styled pipeline of education and workforce that would control individuals from early childhood through life.

It is a vision indistinguishable from Communism.  It is a vision that Dabakis’ SJR16 consummates.

Tucker was invited recently by Utah legislators to speak in Utah at a statewide joint legislative/school board/USOE conference held at Southern Utah University.  He’s also spoken at countless national venues, some of which are radical left-wing institutions: the Annenberg Institute, the Public Education and Business Coalition, the Aspen Institute, and state education conferences in various states.

 

 

DEBORAH QUAZZO, CORPORATE HOG

Less that a year ago, Salt Lake City sponsored an education-tech conference  co-hosted by GSV Advisors (an investment group) with Arizona State University.   Bill Gates paid for it, of course.  Former USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan was a featured speaker.  Ms. Deborah Quazzo,  founder and CEO of GSV Advisors, headed the conference, and was listed as “a prolific angel investor” who “leverages technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors”.

She charged people $2,795 per person to attend this conference– just to walk in the door.

Above, you saw the graphic of Quazzo’s “Strategic Battle Plan” for GSV (and Utah politics).  Keep in mind that Quazzo is an investor, not an educator.  Her battle plan has nothing to do with what you or I as teachers and parents know is best for our children.  It is her openly, repeatedly stated desire to eliminate  local control by eliminating elected school boards.  

[As an aside, here is some context:  Forbes christened Salt Lake City the “tech mecca” of America, so now, ambitious, hungry eyes are on Utah’s ed-tech industry and school system and taxpayers’ votes.  Those hungry eyes care deeply about whether Dabakis’ bill passes.  From their point of view, voters and teachers and parents and children are a necessary annoyance, but they feel that our elected school boards are not: so, if  Utah eliminates “messy” debate and gets rid of the old time-consuming elected representation business; if Utah streamlines decision-making for the entire state, we will have created an ed-tech dictatorship.  It’s so very profitable to those (inside and outside Utah) who invest in the Common Core-aligned education system that Tucker and Quazzo promote.  If it’s hard to wrap your brain around socialism now bedding with corporate America, or of socialism taking over the Utah legislature, just revisit how this “elimination of boards” policy –espoused by the GSV investment group that is repeatedly in our state preaching to legislators– perfectly matches the communist “human capital pipeline” agenda of Marc Tucker.  Utah’s not utterly clueless, either; remember that Tucker and Quazzo were invited to this state to advise the once conservative legislators and businesses of Utah.]

How many mecca attendees last spring had read Quazzo’s creepy GSV document, entitled American Revolution 2.0, which echoes Tucker’s call for the removal of local control  and local school boards?  How many agree with it now– other than virtually the entire Utah Senate?  The GSV calls for the promotion of Common Core and the elimination of elected school boards.  What a strange coincidence that the Tucker-featured SUU conference also called for the same things.

In the GSV document’s “Strategic Battle Plan” Quazzo and company say:  “We eliminate locally elected school boards, recognizing that the process by which they are elected doesn’t correspond with either strategic planning or longer term results.”

Strategic planning for whom?  Longer term results for whom?   WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?  And what about the taxpaying voters who are to foot the bill without a voice in it?  What about the reasons we fought the American Revolution 1.0?  We wanted representation.  We wanted a voice in our own lives, not dicatorship by Mother England.  Do we want a dictatorship led by Mother Quazzo or Mother Dickson or Father Gates?

This bill of Dabakis, the consummation of Quazzo’s  and Tucker’s long-term scheming, must be stopped.

Please, please, please contact the Utah House of Representatives immediately.

Immediately!

https://house.utah.gov/house-members/

UTAH STATE REPS:

bgreene@le.utah.gov
mroberts@le.utah.gov
mike@utahlegalteam.com
anderegg.jake@gmail.com
ssandall@le.utah.gov
jeffersonrmoss@gmail.com
jeffersonmoss@le.utah.gov
valpotter@le.utah.gov
curtwebb@le.utah.gov
eredd@le.utah.gov
justinfawson@le.utah.gov
corymaloy@le.utah.gov
sbarlow@le.utah.gov
gfroerer@le.utah.gov
vpeterson@le.utah.gov
jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
dpitcher@utah.gov
kmiles@le.utah.gov
pray@utah.gov
mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
karilisonbee@le.utah.gov
bradwilson@utah.gov
stevehandy@utah.gov
thawkes@le.utah.gov
beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
dougsagers@le.utah.gov
rayward@le.utah.gov
sduckworth@le.utah.gov
shollins@le.utah.gov
rchouck@le.utah.gov
jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
angelaromero@le.utah.gov
briansking@le.utah.gov
leeperry@le.utah.gov
mikewinder@le.utah.gov
lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
elizabethweight@le.utah.gov
chall@le.utah.gov
kkwan@le.utah.gov
parent@le.utah.gov
markwheatley@le.utah.gov
csmoss@le.utah.gov
ehutchings@utah.gov
jdunnigan@utah.gov
lhemingway@le.utah.gov
kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
cacton@le.utah.gov
seliason@le.utah.gov
mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
kstratton@le.utah.gov
rspendlove@le.utah.gov
greghughes@le.utah.gov
jknotwell@le.utah.gov
susanpulsipher@le.utah.gov
loganwilde@le.utah.gov
tquinn@le.utah.gov
scottchew@le.utah.gov
kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
derrinowens@le.utah.gov
brad@braddaw.com
keithgrover@le.utah.gov
tseegmiller@le.utah.gov
adamrobertson@le.utah.gov
normthurston64@gmail.com
fgibson@le.utah.gov,
mnelson@le.utah.gov
christinewatkins@le.utah.gov
carlalbrecht@le.utah.gov
blast@le.utah.gov
jwestwood@le.utah.gov
vlsnow@le.utah.gov
mnoel@kanab.net
wbrooks@le.utah.gov

UTAH STATE SENATORS:

lescamilla@le.utah.gov dipson@le.utah.gov,
evickers@le.utah.gov,
dhinkins@le.utah.gov
kvantassell@le.utah.gov
lhillyard@le.utah.gov
rokerlund@le.utah.gov
tweiler@le.utah.gov
jsadams@le.utah.gov
hstephenson@le.utah.gov,
jwstevenson@le.utah.gov,
achristensen@le.utah.gov,
gbuxton@le.utah.gov
pknudson@le.utah.gov, curt@cbramble.com
mdayton@le.utah.gov
janderegg@le.utah.gov
dthatcher@le.utah.gov
dhemmert@le.utah.gov
wniederhauser@le.utah.gov
lfillmore@le.utah.gov
bzehnder@le.utah.gov
dhenderson@le.utah.gov
wharper@le.utah.gov
kmayne@le.utah.gov
jiwamoto@le.utah.gov
gdavis@le.utah.gov

–and our endangered state school board:

Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Video: Jane Robbins’ Testimony to Congress: On Consent and Student Data Privacy   4 comments

On January 30, 2018, Jane Robbins, a lawyer with the American Principles Project, testified to Congress’s House Education and Workforce Committee.  She strongly opposed the recommendations of the Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that there should be an expansion of federal agencies’ access to data collected on U.S. citizens, or that there should be permission given to researchers to access that data without citizens’ consent.

Robbins pointed out the immorality of the CEP’s recommendations and patiently explained the difference between researching objects and researching human beings.   Some highlights of her testimony have been transcribed below.

 

Robbins said (see minute 39:30):

“…The problem arises when the subjects of the research and analysis are human beings. Each American citizen is endowed with personal dignity and autonomy and therefore deserves respect and deference concerning his or her own personal data.

Allowing the government to vacuum mountains of such data and employ it for whatever purposes it deems useful, without the citizens’ consent or in some cases even his knowledge, conflicts deeply with this truth about the dignity of persons. Bear in mind that the analyses contemplated by the commission go further than merely sharing discrete data point among agencies, they involve creating new information about individuals via matching data, drawing conclusions, and making predictions about those individuals; so in essence the government would have information about a citizen even he or she doesn’t have.

Our founding principle, which enshrine consent of the governed, dictate that a citizen’s data belong to him rather than to the government. If the government or its allied researchers want to use it for purposes other than those for which it was submitted, they should get consent; and in the case or pre-k through 12, students’ parental consent. That’s how things should work in a free society.

Let’s consider a few specific problems. The commission’s recommendations to improve evidence building, while well intentions and couched in reasonable language, sometimes fails to realize that data turned over by citizens for one purpose can be misused for others.

It is always assumed that the data will be used in benevolent ways for the good of the individual who provides it. But especially with respect to the enormous scope of pre-k through college education data, that simply isn’t true. Literally everything can be linked to education. Data analysis might study the connection between one’s education and his employment, or his health, or his housing choices or the number of children he has, or his political activity, or whether his suspension from school in sixth grade foreshadows a life of crime.

Education technology innovators brag that predictive algorithms can be created and those algorithms could be used to steer students along some paths or close off others. And much of this education data is extraordinarily sensitive. For example, data about children’s attitudes, mindsets, and dispositions are currently being compiled, unfortunately, as part of so-called social-emotional learning (SEL). Do we really want this kind of sensitive data to be made more easily accessible for evidence building to which we as parents have not consented? The commission recommends that all this data be disclosed only with approval to authorized persons, but we should ask approval of whom, authorized by whom. There are myriad examples of government employees violating statute or policy by misusing or wrongfully disclosing data, and even if the custodians only have good intentions, what they consider appropriate use or disclosure may conflict diametrically with what the affected citizen considers appropriate.  Again, this illustrates the necessity for consent.

 We should take care to recognize the difference between two concepts that are somewhat conflated in the Commission’s report. Data security means whether the government can keep data systems from being breached, which the federal government in too many cases has been unable to do. Data privacy refers to whether the government has any right to collect and maintain such data in the first place.

The federal privacy act set out the fair information principle of data minimization, which is designed to increase security by increasing privacy: a hacker can’t steal what isn’t there.

Another problem with the evidence-building mindset is that it assumes an omniscient government will make better decisions than individuals can themselves. But what these analysis are likely to turn up are correlations between some facts and others; and correlations do not equal causations. So, for example, we might end up designing official government policies based on flawed assumptions to nudge students into pursuing studies or careers that they wouldn’t choose for themselves.

Human beings are not interchangeable. Our country has thrived for centuries without this kind of social engineering and it is deeply dangerous to change that now.

In closing, I reiterate my respect for the value of unbiased research as the foundation for policymaking, but speaking for the millions of parents with whom we work in various states whose concerns about education policy and data have been minimized by various levels of government for years, I urge you to maintain the protections against treating their children as subjects for research without their consent. This might happen in someplace such as China, but it should not happen here...”

 

 

 

If you don’t want to search through the entire hearing, you can just see Jane Robbins’ portion here:

 

 

 God bless Jane.

 

 

 

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

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

Dear Superintendent Dickson, State School Board, Diana Suddreth, Rich Nye, Governor Herbert, Tami Pyfer, and Legislators,

To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?

I’m writing to clarify whether Utah has or has not adopted controversial, common science standards (NGSS) and whether we are using those non-approved standards in current or future tests for K-12 children, without proper vetting and fully informed public consent.

I’m trying to reconcile promises –made by multiple superintendents to the public and to the legislature, that common science standards would never happen because of political and “philosophical differences”– with the attached PDF from the board’s website. It says that a science MOU in common with other states is set to be approved this Wednesday.

Utah’s voting taxpayers strongly oppose common, nationalized standards; some because of content, and some because  nationalized programs work against intellectual freedom and local control.

Anti-Common standards sentiment was powerfully illustrated in Utah’s last gubernatorial election, when Governor Herbert was booed at conventions for his promotion of Common Core, and was beaten when GOP delegates voted. He very narrowly won the final vote after changing his speeches with sudden, fervent promises to repeal the Common Core.

Those promises lacked integrity and evaporated after the election, but the illustration makes clear that Utahans want the common standards gone.

It can be alarming when superintendents make promises that common science standards will never take over here, when no vote to approve common NGSS standards has happened, and yet the public can see that someone is furtively, gradually, replacing Utah’s traditional science standards with controversial NGSS standards.

On the Board’s PDF, we see that Utah is set to approve use of a common test bank for students’ science tests. Since tests are based on standards, and since Utah’s official policy is that we have our own science standards, not the common NGSS standards, how can Utah share a test bank with many other states?  Without using the common science standards that they use, or without making those states use our science standards, it doesn’t make sense.

Please clarify.

What makes sense, but won’t likely be admitted, is that the current Superintendent and her co-workers personally buy into the philosophies of the ed tech elite, inspired by the Pearson- Microsoft-Gates cartel. They admire Gates and NGSS.  Unlike many of their fellow Utahns, they love the common standards, so they are using their positions of power to guide the state in the direction to which they personally subscribe, against the will and without the knowledge of the people.

Shouldn’t these moves be transparent to the public?  It seems our top education officers give lip service to local control, but in actions, create the very opposite.

Students and taxpayers who value liberty and classic education standards deserve informed consent and open debate, prior to Utah’s use of any kind of additional common standards.

“Consent of the governed” is a crucial founding concept, one of the best phrases ever penned, one I hope this group will ponder before moving further away from local control.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

Big Data Control Freaks, Don’t Tread on Me #StopFEPA #STOPCTA #StopKGIS #StopKBYG   2 comments

How much bleeding out of freedom do we need before we take action –to demand from  Congress an end to the privacy erosion that’s going on in multiple big-data bills right now?  (To track what’s going on in Congress, click here).

Taking liberty, including privacy, for granted is a lazy, dangerous luxury.   We suppose that freedom is as forthcoming as sunlight, but Constitutional norms of freedom are the new kid on the block historically, and both intentionally and unintentionally, Congress –and initiatives of the U.N. promoted in our Congress, are running away with our rights today.

So what?  Still not moved?  Please, then, take a moment for the real “why” factor:  remember what life looks like when freedom gets fully eroded.

Remember the 1600’s  – People who read the Bible in England were burned at the stake  by their own government.  This was a catalyst for pilgrims to leave, to establish this country’s liberty.

How many of those pilgrims would have made it to Plymouth Rock alive, if the English government had had a data sharing system like the one proposed in S.2046 (FEPA) where every government agency can and must share data on individuals, with every other government agency?

Remember the 1930’s – Innocent millions in the Soviet Union were intentionally starved to death under Stalin’s communism.  There were no Constitutional norms for those people to point to, before their lands were eminent-domained (collectivized) by their governments, prior to the extermination of the people.  I recommend reading Execution by Hunger, by a survivor of that time.

Remember the 1940’s – Throughout Europe, led by Hitler, governments killed millions in  state-sponsored death.  The yellow star that Jews were forced to sew onto their clothes to mark them as enemies of the government would be much more easily removed than digitized social security numbers, names and family information that FEPA and CTA  will hand to the federal government through individuals’ data collected by FAFSA, SLDS, IRS, Census, statistical agencies, and more.  Soon after this, in 1948, George Orwell wrote 1984, which I wish everyone voting for big data bills in Congress would read.

Remember 1958-62 – In China, about 45 million were killed under Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” initiative.  You can learn a lot about the erosion of freedom by reading the remarkable history Life and Death in Shanghai, written by a survivor of that murderous time.

(And today, in China, there is no privacy and no digital freedom:  everyone is inventoried, everyone is watched;  everyone is punished or rewarded according to the government’s value system.)

Remember the 1970’s – In Cambodia, millions were killed by Khmer Rouge communists who had control of Cambodia.  The government, unleashed from any Constitutional principles, turned on its own citizens in a way that was not predictable.

Remember the 1990’s – In Rwanda, Africa, close to a million were killed by their government.  (Rwandan I.D. cards had people’s ethnic groups listed on them, making it easy for the government’s military, with lists of ethnic data, to find individuals labeled “government opponents”.  Note:  this is historical fact, not fake news, not fearmongering.  This is an example of modern, governmentally-organized,  data-mining-related, genocide.

All of these abominations  happened because:

1) government had amassed power, including at least some personal data about victims, upon which to base punishing decisions, and:

2) leaders were evil.

But the dead!  These were real people– with nicknames, with holidays, with faith, with families.  They might have had friends in the government whom they liked, whom they trusted– but without a Constitutional fortress in place, good intentions are nothing.

Individuals can’t punish or kill others unless they amass power over them.  Why is eroding freedom not a clear and present danger to Congress?   Why do we keep writing big-data bills and passing them into law, which authorize more and more power of one set of individuals over others?  I have two theories: 1) big money influencing big votes and  2) a pop culture that celebrates conformity, dependency, obsession, victimhood and socialism instead of self-reliance, choice and accountability, virtue, individual worth and freedom.

Ask yourselves this, Big Money and Pop Culture:  “Are control freaks, bullies, and liars things of the past, things of distant places?  Is communism nowadays going to lead to happiness and wealth, even though in the past it has always led to piles of dead bodies?  Is there nothing historically sacred to defend?”

The thing that the man or woman in the concentration camp or the killing field would have done anything to reclaim– freedom– is without question dying as bills authorize unelected bureaucrats and unelected researchers full access to your personal data.  It seems that congressional bills value constitutional principles (that would have kept  control freaks and bullies in check) like used kleenex.

Is it too big a leap for us to say that giving away the average American’s personal power over his or her data is a path toward misery and loss?  I guess so, because so many legislators and citizens  even in supposedly conservative Utah all now sway to the tune of tech-justified, big-data justified socialism — the same Americans who cry patriotic tears when they see the flag pass by in a parade and who campaign with, “God Bless America.”  They don’t seem to get it anymore.

It’s not the left wing leading the pack.  Did you know who was involved in big data pushing now?  Trey Gowdy? Orrin Hatch?  Paul Ryan? Marco Rubio?   What was of such great value that it rose above sacred Constitutional principles of CONSENT and privacy and personal liberty, to these supposed conservatives who are pushing the big-data bills?

Meanwhile, patriotic Americans who read these bills and voice their concerns are being ignored or rebutted by Congress.

Names like Jane Robbins, Joy Pullman,  Jakell Sullivan, Cheri Kiesecker,  Lynne Taylor, Peter Greene, Emmett McGroarty, and so many, many, many others are  exposing and challenging the erosion of data privacy and autonomy.  But they aren’t making headlines.  Please read them anyway.

Some of their brand new work is linked or excerpted below, especially concerning these big-data bills:  FEPA – S.2046, Keeping Girls in School Act S.1171, College Transparency Act S.1121, HR 3157 The Student Privacy Protection Act, and Know Before You Go Act of 2017.

JANE ROBBINS

Jane Robbins, at Truth in American Education, writes about FEPA, “Senators, do you want your children’s and your families’ highly sensitive data shared across the federal government without your knowledge and consent, for purposes you never agreed to?  Do you want researchers or private corporations to have access to it?”

Robbins lists the 108 types of data stored in one agency (Dept of Ed, via FAFSA) and asks senators to consider the insanity of opening up all agencies’ data to share with one another and with private “research” entities.  From name and social security number of students, parents and stepparents, to how much money parents spend on food and housing, to the parents’ net worth of investments, the 108 items are only a tip of the data-sharing iceberg.  She asks senators to stop #FEPA (which already passed the House and will soon be up for a Senate vote; read the full bill — S.2046 here.)

JOY PULLMAN

Joy Pullman, at The Federalist, offers “12 Reasons Congress Shouldn’t Make Lifelong Surveillance the Price of Citizenship”:

  1. Personal Data is Private Property
  2. These Bills Kill Informed Consent
  3. Informed Consent is Key to Social Science Ethics
  4. It’s Wrong to Exploit Americans Unable to Object
  5. Kids Do Stupid Things More Often
  6. The Bigger the Database, the Bigger the Bait
  7. Federal Data Security is Awful
  8. Big Data is Prone to Prejudice and Political Manipulation
  9. No Research or Experience Justifies Sweeping Data Collection on Citizens
  10. Government Doesn’t Use Well the Data it Already Has
  11. Data Collection is Not About Improving Education, But Increasing Control
  12. Americans Are Citizens, Not Cattle or Widgets

She concludes here article:  “In the United States, government is supposed to represent and function at the behest of the people, and solely for the protection of our few, enumerated, natural rights. Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are the sovereigns, and government functions at our pleasure. It is supposed to function by our consent and be restrained by invoilable laws and principles that restrain bureaucrats’ plans for our lives. These include the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. National surveillance systems violate all of these.”

Read Joy Pullman’s full article,  here.

 

JAKELL SULLIVAN

 

Jakell Sullivan has been researching and writing for nearly a decade about education reforms and data reforms that harm liberty.  This recent talk, given at an education conference at Agency Based Education, reveals the corporate-government partnershipping strategy to undermine local values, including religious freedom, which necessitates big-data bills to that align schools globally to UN-centric, data-bound values.

 

CHERI KIESECKER

 

 

When Cheri Kiesecker was cited as one who had falsely attacked these big-data bills, and was rebutted in a handout given to Congress from Congressional staffers, you might have known she had hit on truth.  Why would Congressional staff take the time to research and write a rebuttal to a simple mom writing at Missouri Education Watchdog?!  Read her analysis of the big-data bills here.  Read her rebuttal to Congress here.

She wrote, “I am a mom. My special interests are my children.  I write as a parent, because like many parent advocates, blogging is the only (small) way to be heard.  And No.  My concern DOES NOT “arise from a misunderstanding of what the bill does to the personal data that the government already has”…  

MY CONCERN IS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS CITIZENS’ AND ESPECIALLY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN’S PERSONAL DATA, WITHOUT PERMISSION…AND IS EXPANDING ACCESS, ANALYSIS OF THIS DATA, AGAIN WITHOUT PERMISSION.

It’s not your data. Data belongs to the individual.  Data is identity and data is currency.   Collecting someone’s personal data without consent is theft. (When hackers took Equifax data, that was illegal. When the government takes data… no different.)

If you support parental rights, you should not support HR4174 or its sister bill S2046. “

 

Dear Readers:

Like Cheri, Jakell, Joy, Jane and countless others, we can each do one small thing for liberty.  You could talk to your kids or grandkids about the founding of the USA.   You could help a friend register to vote.  You could call your senators and tell them to vote no on each of these big-data bills that DO NOT protect privacy as they claim that they can. Write an email.  Call a radio station talk show.  Write an op-ed.  Do it even though we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle.  (Actually, do it especially because we are in the middle of the Christmas bustle, which is when the dark side of Congress always counts on not being watched as it passes bad bills.)

I’m asking you to sacrifice a little time or maybe just your own insecurity, to join the writers and speakers whom I’ve highlighted above, to make your own voice heard, for liberty’s sake.  Here is that number to the switchboard at Congress:  (202) 224-3121.

Even if we don’t turn the Titanic away from the iceberg, even if freedom keeps eroding away, we can live or die with the failure, knowing that we honestly valued freedom enough to try.

If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046   5 comments

Knowing that the history of liberty is “the history of the limitation of government power,” I ask you to take action to stop the bills known as FEPA (HR4174/S.2046) and CTA (S.1121).  This post will focus on the first bill, which is already teetering on the edge of passing into law.

FEPA is a pompous euphemism that stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking.  But “evidence based policymaking” means that they’ll redefine data theft and stalking by calling it “evidence-based research”.  Because if agencies and organizations on the state and federal level  participate in the data-looting act together, it doesn’t feel quite like looting or stealing, as it would if just one well-intentioned, evidence-collecting creep stole data by himself.

All the fancy commissions and all the big-data infatuations in the world cannot change a wrong principle into a good one.  I’d love to ask the CEP leaders face to face whether big data is so important that freedom basics should be made obsolete.  Do we no longer worry about having our personal personal power limited– in consequence of personal data being taken?  No big deal?

I used to think that while all Democrats pushed for increased government, all Republicans sought limited government.  Not now:  Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and even Trey Gowdy are supersizing government to empower big-data goals in their current bills– without any informed consent from the individuals whose data will be confiscated.

Representative Paul Ryan’s baby, the 2017 Commmission on Evidence-Based Policy, birthed this uglier baby,  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEPA HR4174)  that passed the U.S. House of Representatives without debate or a roll call vote, this month.

Unless the Senate ditches it next week, which is extremely unlikely, it will become national law.  But do you know what’s emerging in the bill?  Does your senator know?

The news media haven’t covered it, and Congress hasn’t debated it.  In fact, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to pass the House version super quickly, without a normal roll call vote: because it was supposedly so uncontroversial that there was no reason to have a real debate nor a recorded vote.

Yet it is highly controversial to those Americans who are passionate about a thing called human freedom.  We watched and listened to the CEP’s year-long hearings and submitted public comment and read the CEP’s final report.

Unpaid moms at Missouri Education Watchdog and expert lawyers at American Principles Project each recently published important warnings about the FEPA bill.   But proponents of FEPA rebutted those moms and lawyers.  What followed were brilliant, unarguable rebuttals to that rebuttal.  If truth and liberty were prime concerns to Congress, then FEPA would, following the study of these rebuttals, surely be gone.  But no.

 

 

You see, a lot of people are  counting on this particular set of claims to make them wealthy or powerful.

I am having what I wish was only deja vu.

Do you remember another Thanksgiving week, with freedom-harming bills slimeing their secretive way through Congress without debate, while most of us were too busy eating cranberries and turkey to pay attention?  Remember, after the ESSA bill passed, that then-Secretary Duncan boasted about the secretive nature of passing the ESSA bill into law.

He said, “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. . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff”.

Now it’s 2017.

Not surprisingly, proponents of FEPA (HR4174/S2046)  say that FEPA is so harmless and uncontroversial as to require zero debate– but in the same week, proponents released a myths-vs-facts sheet to Congressmen, rebutting the controversies outlined by the American Principles Project and by the Missouri Education Watchdog.   Hmm.

Additionally, although the majority of the public commenters who wrote to the CEP said that they were opposed to the data-sharing of student records without consent, FEPA does direct agencies to ignore their concerns.

FEPA says that agencies must report “statutory restrictions to accessing relevant data”–in other words, muggle bureaucrats must find ways to overcome people’s privacy rights.

FEPA gives no provisions for data security, while encouraging and enabling unlimited data swapping between government agencies.

FEPA  creates a “National Secure Data Service” with such extensive data sharing that creation of one central housing agency would be completely redundant.

There is much more.  You can read the bill.

The American Principles Project produced a rebuttal to the rebuttal of FEPA.  I am reposting just a piece of it.

 

RESPONSE TO HOUSE MAJORITY STAFF’S ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FEPA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Claim: FEPA doesn’t create a centralized data repository.

Rebuttal: FEPA moves toward the recommendation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Commission) to create a “National Secure Data Service” by 1) requiring each agency to create an evidence- building plan; 2) requiring the OMB Director to unify those plans across the entire federal government; 3) creating a “federal data catalog” and a “national data inventory”; and 4) requiring various councils to recommend how to vastly increase data linking and sharing among federal agencies, with states, and with public and private research entities.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t authorize any new data collection or data analysis.

Rebuttal: Regardless of whether FEPA expressly authorizes new data collection, it 1) incentivizes agency heads to expand, not maintain or minimize, data collection; 2) creates new sources of data for agencies by allowing unfettered access to other agencies’ data; 3) creates a process whereby public and private organizations can access non-public government data; 4) allows the OMB Director to expand the universe of statistical agencies and units; and 5) allows one person, the OMB director, to decide via post-enactment “guidance” what if any data will be exempt from sharing as too private or confidential.

Claim: FEPA “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students,” so parents need not worry about their children’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Rebuttal: FEPA doesn’t overturn this ban – that will almost certainly come later. But its extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates create a de facto national database, whereby the data stays “housed” within the collecting agency but can be accessed by all. Title III specifically authorizes data “accessed” by federal agencies to be shared. This will threaten the security of not only the student data already maintained by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), but also the data in the states’ longitudinal data systems.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t repeal CIPSEA but rather strengthens it.

Rebuttal: FEPA strengthens nothing. It merely reiterates the same penalties (fine and jail term) in existence since 2002 that have rarely or never been enforced. Worse, FEPA increases threats to privacy and data security by mandating increased access to confidential data and metadata and encouraging unlimited data-swapping with no provisions for data security.

Claim: FEPA “does not respond to the Commission’s recommendations to repeal any ban on the collection or consolidation of data.”

Rebuttal: FEPA directs agency heads to identify and report “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data . . . ” Because the entire thrust of the bill is to use more and more data for “evidence-building,” the inevitable next step will be to implement the Commission’s recommendation of repealing these pesky statutory obstacles to acquiring “relevant” data.

Claim:  FEPA will make better use of existing data.

Rebuttal:  The federal government has reams of data showing the uselessness or harm of existing programs. When the government continues to fund those programs despite this data (see Head Start and manifestly ineffective programs under ESEA), there’s no reason -none- to assume it will change its behavior with even more data.

 

The following list of contact information is supplied by Missouri Education Watchdog Cheri Kiesecker.  Please don’t just share this on social media; actually call, yourself.  Actually tweet, yourself.  Others may not be doing their part.  Please, do yours and a few extra calls, if you can.

The Senate version of the bill (S2046) has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members.

The message is: vote no.  We don’t want information about private citizens shared at the national level, without any individual consent.

NO on  S.2046   NO on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (FEPA).

(And, coming up soon:  No on S.1121 – College Transparency Act – for the same reason: student privacy.)

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Student Data Privacy Toolkit Available Now   Leave a comment

Free to use and share:  the Student Data Privacy Toolkit has arrived!

  If you’re wondering why it matters, read on.

———————————– ————————————- —————————————–

 

Is anyone honestly opposed to having students govern and own their own private data?  Are reputable organizations openly, actively working around systems to get hold of individual students’ data?

Yes.   There are so many that it’s overwhelming to learn.   The biggest organizations that you can think of, both political and corporate, are either looking away from scary privacy issues, or are actively engaged in promoting the end of student data privacy for reasons either research-based or greed-based (or both).

Trendy, probably well-meaning power brokers profit hugely from data sharing –done without the informed consent of students and parents.  Most of them probably aren’t thinking through what they are doing, nor of its effects on individual freedom.  Many of the richest and most powerful of them (even Betsy DeVos herself) were here in Salt Lake City last week at the Global Silicon Valley convention; attendance there cost $2,795 per person, which is a clue to how exclusionary the conspiracy of greed really is and how it fears pushback from teachers and parents and lovers of liberty.  That is a conspiracy of greed against local control.

I am not fighting greed.  I believe in capitalism even with its greedy warts, because capitalism represents freedom.

It’s piracy that I balk at.  And the student data-mining madness is absolute piracy.  Parents, students and teachers were never asked for consent prior to having their data mined by the schools or the schools’ agents.  In some cases, that data is already being held against them.

How can this be happening?  Is it really happening?  Can we comprehend it?

To make it simple, look at this notification of inspection.  It seems snoopy, yet reasonable.  I found it in my suitcase when I came home recently from San Francisco.

Think about it.

Did you as a student, a parent, or a teacher, ever receive a “NOTICE OF INSPECTION”?

No!  Of course not.  You are being given less respect than a suitcase.  Children are being scrutinized for academic, social and psychological data, their data saved in State Longitudinal Database Systems and in third party corporate data systems, without informed consent and without notice.  That is snoopy –and unreasonable.

“Partnershipping” education-data piracy is happening rampantly.  It includes all the states who took the federal bribe and then created a student stalking system known as the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).   The data piracy includes the U.S. Department of Education (see its EdFacts Data Exchange and its Datapalooza conferences and its official student-data partnership with private groups such as the Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association.)  The data piracy party includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce –and the United Nations.  (See the U.N. Data Revolution)  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is in. (Just see how much money Gates gives to, and earns from,  this movement.)  The federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy, the Data Quality Campaign, American Institutes for Research, the United Nations’ Data Revolution Initiative, Pearson, Microsoft, and Jeb Bush’s Foundation are in. Betsy DeVos does nothing, nothing to stop it.  Nothing.

Lest we believe that it’s all bad guys, far away, realize that the Goliaths of data piracy also includes locals:  the Utah Data Alliance, Utah’s Prosperity 2020, The Utah Chamber of Commerce, the University of Utah’s K-12 research database (SLDS) and many Utah corporations.

These groups are financially thriving financially from the common use of Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) and Common Core academic standards, which go  hand in hand.  They also thrive on the lack of proper protections over student data privacy, although many of them give loud and proud lip service to caring about student data privacy.

Hearing these groups claim commitment to student privacy (after having listened to the CEP‘s meetings, or after having seen what the USDOE did to shred protective FERPA law) is like hearing a boat captain boast about the safety of his vessel to passengers who have been handed sandwiches instead of life vests.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look into the federal Commission on Evidence Based Policy (CEP) for starters.

It’s pretty fascinating, but inspiring at the same time, to see that some people are thinking through all of this: a group of smart, conservative Republicans and smart, progressive Democrats are joining forces because they see student data privacy being of extreme, non-negotiable importance.  The non-bought, pro-privacy coalition, called The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, has just released its Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, which it calls “a practical guide for protecting your child’s sensitive school data from snoops, hackers, and marketers”.

I’m not anti-data or anti-progress.  Invention and science are wonders!  I balk at, and hope others will consider, the idea that personal privacy of children is being taken without their consent and without their parents’ consent, for cash.

The conspiracy of greed does not want to talk about that.

It just wants to keep collecting the golden eggs.

 

It’s up to individual parents to care and to act, to protect student data privacy.  State school systems are not going to do it; they are taking huge grants from the feds, on an ongoing basis, to beef up the “robust data systems” instead.

You can download the free toolkit here: https://www.studentprivacymatters.org/…/Parent-Toolkit…

Use it.  Share it.  Student privacy matters.

 

 

GSV ASU Summit in Salt Lake City in May: Is This Really About Abolishing Elected School Boards and Pushing Common Core?   14 comments

According to its vision document entitled “American Revolution 2.0”, the pro-Common Core investment group GSV Advisors is plotting a lucrative U.S. “revolution” (GSV’s own words) that will include pushing the school choice movement and abolishing locally elected school boards.  GSV is co-hosting its huge ed-tech summit in Utah in May with Arizona State University.

The very fact that a financial institution has a 27-point business plan that involves removing local control in education –and that it’s promoting that vision to a national elite-only audience ($2,795 ticket) right here in Utah, in a few weeks –is very unnerving.  How many voters who want to preserve local control can afford a $2,795 ticket?

Look at page 302 of the GSV vision document if you think I am inventing this madness about eliminating local control.

GSV lists a  “Strategic Battle Plan” for fifteen years, with 27 steps to that plan.  First of the twenty-seven steps is “Common Core”.  Fifth is “No Child Left Behind 2.0” (which was ESSA).  Twenty-first is “Eliminate Locally Elected School Boards”.  Read.  Share it with your ed-tech friends.

This vision feels as creepy as it feels greedy. Remember, this is coming from a financial investment company, but the document’s title is “American Revolution 2.0” –and in its conclusion, it poses in the language of the founding fathers, pretending to care about, or to even comprehend, liberty:

“A System whose characteristics are thus marked by every example which may be defined a failure, is unfit to be the platform of the knowledge citizens of the future….We, therefore, the Representatives of Education Innovators of the United States of America, solemnly publish and declare, that our students ought to have the chance to succeed, that they have access to the best learning technologies, and that as free and independent learners, have the full power to choose their path to success in life. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Using the language of our noble founding fathers to promote this greedy, $elfish, anti-liberty agenda –brazenly pretending to do it for the cause of liberty –is sickening to me.

I would never, ever, ever invest in any of these networks of companies that profit from the destruction of local control of education.  Boycott Pearson, Knewton, Aspen, Lumina, and the countless, countless ed-tech groups that are in this collusion against local liberty.  Don’t use CEDS common data standards for education.  Don’t profit from the thieves of liberty.  Walk away.

I am certain that the average person working for Pearson or Gates or Aspen or Microsoft or Lumina may have no idea that he/she is daily empowering a devastating collusion against local liberty in U.S. education, yet the fact remains that this is exactly what’s happening.

And Utah friends, it’s happening under your noses.

In a few weeks, in May 2017, international big names in the ed-tech world will convene in Salt Lake City at GSV’s Ed-Tech Summit with ASU.

The average person can’t go.  It costs $2,795 per person, just to walk in the front door of the two day conference.

The very long list of summit speakers includes former Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and GSV founder Deborah Quazzo, who is listed as “a prolific angel investor” who leverages “technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors.”

A prolific angel investor?  I’m not sure what that means.  I do know that Quazzo is the co-author of the GSV document “American Revolution 2.0” that aims to eliminate locally elected school boards.

Here she is, onstage with Bill Gates at last year’s summit.

Deborah Quattro and GSV!  Our ed-tech industry is looking to these for guidance?!  It makes me quake to think that hundreds of ed-tech leaders will listen to her, to Arne and to the others.  Will they see the GSV vision document  as some sort of blueprint, recklessly forgetting the God-given Constitutional rights and duties of local control of education? Such rights go away when unelected businesswomen, philanthropists and governments “partner” behind the backs of voters and take over what used to be real learning, the kind that happened between one teacher and her students.  The new ed-tech allows extremists’ philosophies, dumped from socialist think tanks through massive online curricula, to fill student devices and minds, thinly disguised as pedagogy.

The list of sponsoring companies at Salt Lake City’s upcoming GSV summit? I bet you can already guess.  These are the not-so-secret combinations:  Gates. Lumina.  The Center for Education Reform.  National Geographic.  USAFunds. Amazon.  Microsoft.  Et cetera.

 

Questions for Congressional Betsy DeVos Hearing: Letter from Grassroots Nationwide Coalition   1 comment

betsy

Nationwide Coalition letter

linked at Florida’s Stop Common Core Coalition here.

 

January 9, 2017

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee,

 

We, the undersigned leaders of a nationwide coalition of grassroots parent groups, wish to raise significant concerns about Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, and request that you ask her these questions about education, standards, privacy and autonomy issues:

1) We understand that your website statement right after your appointment that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core was meant to reassure activists that you oppose the standards and will honor Mr. Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core.

Please list your efforts during your extensive period of education activism and philanthropy to fight the implementation of the standards.

2) In your November 23 website statement you mention “high standards,” and in the Trump Transition Team readout of your November 19th meeting with the president-elect, you reportedly discussed “higher national standards.”

Please explain how this is different from Common Core. Also, please justify this stand in light of the lack of constitutional and statutory authority for the federal government to involve itself in standards, and in light of Mr. Trump’s promise to stop Common Core, make education local, and scale back or abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

3) Would you please reconcile your website statement that you are “not a supporter – period” of Common Core with your record of education advocacy in Michigan and elsewhere – specifically, when you have, either individually or through your organizations (especially the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) that you founded and chaired, and of which your family foundation is still the majority funder):

 Been described as supporting Common Core by Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation in the Detroit News?

 Actively worked to block a bill that would have repealed and replaced Michigan’s Common Core standards with the Massachusetts standards, arguably the best in the nation?

 Actively lobbied for continued implementation of Common Core in Michigan?

 Financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan?

 Funded Alabama pro-Common Core state school board candidates?

 Threatened the grassroots parent organization Stop Common Core in Michigan with legal action for showing the link between GLEP endorsement and Common Core support?

4) The Indiana voucher law that you and your organization, the American Federation for Children (AFC), strongly supported and funded requires voucher recipient schools to administer the public school Common Core-aligned tests and submit to the grading system based on those same Common Core-aligned tests. The tests determine what is taught, which means that this law is imposing Common Core on private schools. Indiana “is the secondworst in the country on infringing on private school autonomy” according to the Center for Education Reform because of that and other onerous requirements, and the state received an F grade on the Education Liberty Watch School Choice Freedom Grading Scale.

Do you support imposing public-school standards, curriculum and tests on private and or home schools?

5) Through Excel in Ed and the American Federation for Children, you have influenced legislation that has made Florida a “leader” in school choice, yet the majority of students, especially those in rural areas, in states like Florida, still chooses to attend traditional public schools. Public school advocates in Florida complain that expanded school choice has negatively affected their traditional public schools, even in previously high performing districts.

As Secretary of Education, how will you support the rights of parents and communities whose first choice is their community’s traditional public school?

6) You and AFC have been strong supporters of federal Title I portability. As Secretary of Education, would you require the same public school, Common Core tests and the rest of the federal regulations for private schools under a Title I portability program as Jeb Bush recommended for Mitt Romney in 2012 (p. 24)? If yes, please cite the constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in regulating schools, including private schools, and explain how this policy squares with Mr. Trump’s promise to reduce the federal education footprint.

7) The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires secretarial approval of state education plans for standards, tests and accountability. Will you support state sovereignty by approving the state plans in line with Mr. Trump’s vision of decreasing the federal role in education, or will you exercise federal control by secretarial veto power over these plans?

8) The Philanthropy Roundtable group that you chaired published a report on charter schools, but did not mention the Hillsdale classical charter schools, even though they are in your home state of Michigan and Hillsdale is nationally renowned for its classical and constitutional teaching and for not taking federal funding. Have you or any of your organizations done anything substantive to support the Hillsdale model aside from a few brief mentions on your websites? If not, do you want all charter schools in Michigan and elsewhere to only teach Common Core-aligned standards, curriculum and tests?

9) During the primary campaign, President-elect Trump indicated that he strongly supported student privacy by closing the loopholes in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), saying the following to a parent activist:

I would close all of it,” Trump replied. “You have to have privacy. You have to have privacy. So I’d close all of it. But, most of all, I’d get everything out of Washington, ‘cause that’s where it’s all emanating from.

Will you commit to reversing the Obama administration’s regulatory gutting of FERPA and to updating that statute to better protect student privacy in the digital age?

10) We are sure you are aware of serious parental concerns about corporate collection and mining of highly sensitive student data through digital platforms, without parental knowledge or consent. But the Philanthropy Roundtable, which you chaired, published a report called Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Tech-assisted Teaching that lauds the Dream Box software that “records 50,000 data points per student per hour” and does not contain a single use of the words “privacy,” “transparency” [as in who receives that data and how it is used to make life-changing decision for children], or “consent.”

Will you continue to promote the corporate data-mining efforts of enterprises such as Dream Box and Knewton, whose CEO bragged about collecting “5-10 million data points per user per day,” described in your organization’s report?

11) Related to Questions 9 and 10 above, there is currently a federal commission, the Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking, which is discussing lifting the federal prohibition on the creation of a student unit-record system. If that prohibition is removed, the federal government would be allowed to maintain a database linking student data from preschool through the workforce. That idea is strongly opposed by parent groups and privacy organizations.

Will you commit to protecting student privacy by recommending to the Commission on EvidenceBased Policymaking that this prohibition be left in place?

cropped-stealth-assessment-baby.jpg

12) As outlined in a letter from Liberty Counsel that was co-signed by dozens of parent groups across the nation, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) plans to add subjective, invasive, illegal, and unconstitutional survey or test mindset questions to the 2017 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

What will you do to rein in NAGB and protect the psychological privacy and freedom of conscience of American students?

13) Through commissions, programs, federally funded groups, the newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the proposed Strengthening Education Through Research Act, and other entities, there has been an explosion of effort to expand invasive, subjective social emotional learning (SEL) standards, curricula and assessment.

What is your view of SEL and what will you do to protect student psychological privacy and freedom of conscience?

Thank you for your willingness to hear and address the concerns of hundreds of thousands of parents across this nation.

Should you need any further detail on any of these issues, I am acting as point of contact for this coalition.

Karen R. Effrem, MD President – Education Liberty Watch

http://www.edlibertywatch.org

Office: 952-361-4931

Mobile: 763-458-7119

dockaren@edlibertywatch.org

 

Sincerely,

 

National Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Karen R. Effrem, MD – President, Education Liberty Watch

Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education emerita, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas

Eunie Smith, Acting President & Mary Potter Summa, National Issues Chair – Eagle Forum

Angela Davidson Weinzinger – Leader, Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards

Donna G. Garner, Retired Teacher and EdViews.org Policy Commentator

Christel Swasey – Advisory Board Member, United States Parents Involved in Education

Shane Vander Hart – Caffeinated Thoughts

Teri Sasseville – Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Twitter Stop Federal Education Mandates in the U.S

Gudrun & Tim Hinderberger – Founding Administrators & Michelle Earle, Co-administrator, Americans Against Common Core Group

Alice Linahan, Vice-President – Women on the Wall

Teri Sasseville – Stop Early Childhood Common Core

Lynne M Taylor – Common Core Diva, education researcher and activist

 

State Organizations and Education Policy Leaders

Alabama

Betty Peters – Member, Alabama State Board of Education 

Arkansas

Jennifer Helms, PhD, RN – President, Arkansans for Education Freedom

California

Orlean Koehle – President, California Eagle Forum

Orlean Koehle – Director, Californians United Against Common Core

Florida

Karen R. Effrem, MD – Executive Director, Florida Stop Common Core Coalition

Meredith Mears, Debbie Higgenbotham, Stacie Clark – FL Parents RISE Keith Flaugh – Florida Citizens Alliance

Janet O McDonald, M.Ed., LMT, Neurodevelopmental Specialist & Instructor – Member, Flagler County School Board, District 2

Catherine Baer – Chairwoman, The Tea Party Network

Suzette Lopez – Accountabaloney

Sue Woltanski – Minimize Testing Maximize Learning

Beth Overholt, MSW – Chair, Opt Out Leon County

Deb Gerry Herbage – Founder, Exposed Blog

Lamarre Notargiacomo – Indian River Coalition 4 Educational Freedom

Charlotte Greenbarg – President, Independent Voices for Better Education

Georgia

Teri Sasseville – Georgians to Stop Common Core

Idaho

Stephanie Froerer Zimmerman – Founder, Idahoans for Local Education

Indiana

Donald Bauder – V.P Hamilton County Grassroots Conservatives

Iowa

Shane Vander Hart and Leslie Beck – Iowa RestoreEd

Kansas

Lisa Huesers, Courtney Rankin, Rosy Schmidt – Kansans Against Common Core

Kentucky

Shirley Daniels – Kentucky Eagle Forum

Louisiana

Dr. Elizabeth Meyers, Dr. Anna Arthurs, Mrs. Mary Kass, Mrs. Terri Temmcke – Stop Common Core in Louisiana

Michigan

Deborah DeBacker, Tamara Carlone, Melanie Kurdys , & Karen Braun – Stop Common Core in Michigan

Minnesota

Linda Bell, founder; Kerstin Hardley-Schulz, & Chris Daniels – Minnesota Advocates and Champions for Children

Jennifer Black-Allen and Anne Taylor – MACC Refuse the Tests

Nevada

Karen Briske – Stop Common Core in Nevada

New Hampshire

Ken Eyring – Member, Windham School Board

New York

Michelle Earle – Founder and Administrator, Stop Common Core and Federal Education Mandates in the Fingerlakes, NY

Alphonsine Englerth – Advocate & Founder, Flo’s Advocacy for Better Education in NYS

Ohio

Heidi Huber – Ohioans for Local Control

Oklahoma Jenni White – Education Director, Restore Oklahoma Parental Empowerment

Tennessee

Karen Bracken – President/Founder, Tennessee Against Common Core Bobbie Patray – President, Tennessee Eagle Forum

Texas

Lynn Davenport – Parents Encouraging A Classical Education (PEACE)

Mellany Lamb – Texans Against Common Core

Meg Bakich – Leader, Truth in Texas Education

A. Patrick Huff – Adjunct Professor, University of St. Thomas

Utah Michelle Boulter – Member, Utah State Board of Education, District 15, as an individual

Wendy K. Hart – Member, Alpine School District Board of Education, ASD2, as an individual

Oak Norton – Executive Director, Agency Based Education

Gayle Ruzicka – President, Utah Eagle Forum

Oak Norton and Christel Swasey – Co-Founders, Utahns Against Common Core

Dr. Gary Thompson – Founder, Early Life Psychology, Inc.

West Virginia

Angela Summers – WV Against Common Core

Washington

JR Wilson – Stop Common Core in Washington State

Leah Huck, Karen W. Larsen, and Breann Treffry, Administrators – Washington State Against Common Core

Wisconsin

Jeffrey Horn – Stop Common Core in Wisconsin

adobe-spark-40

Chicken Thieves and Data Thieves: What’s Up with CEP?   3 comments

chick-in-ladle

 

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck stole chickens.  Huck’s father had taught him how to stomach chicken theft.

That reminds me of the way the federal CEP (Commission on Evidence Based Policy) stomachs human data theft.  Huck said:

… Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot. I never see pap when he didn’t want the chicken himself, but that is what he used to say, anyway.

Just as the Finn thieves lied to themselves, saying that they might do society a favor while they did themselves a favor, stealing chickens, so ed reformers and CEP data gatherers lie to themselves and to the public.  After all, the CEP doesn’t do its own thieving; why should it judge or disclose the immoral origins of the data?

CEP simply says that it wants to centrally house data (that’s previously been taken, without permission from citizens, by school State Longitudinal Database Systems and by other entities.)  CEP members wring their hands over the inconvenience they have endured, not fully being able to access all the pii.  So also say the elite researchers and Gates-linked business people testifying at CEP’s public hearings.

Maybe you didn’t know that citizens’ data is being taken without our permission.

Think: when did you receive a permission slip from the school district, or from the state, asking you to sign away all student academic and nonacademic data for the rest of your child’s life?  Never.

Yet SLDS systems do track a child for life.  That’s what “longitudinal” means: through time.  They call it P-20W.  That means preschool through grade 20 and Workforce. Life.

Well, now you know.  And we can’t opt out of the data theft system.  I tried.  The biggest, most vibrant source of citizen data is our public school system, and the government is unwilling to stop stealing from us in this way.

I do not use the word “stealing” lightly, nor am I exaggerating.  Personal data is literally being confiscated without informed consent or permission of any kind, via school databases linked with many state agencies.  Every digital record created by students, teachers, counselors, school nurses or administrators can be stored (and shared) from there.

Sometimes it is hijacked by unethical researchers entrusted with care of the pii.

chick-on-skate

No one seems to notice these articles about stolen pii.

And on it goes.  Data points are taken and taken and taken –about both academic and nonacademic lives. Schools feed aggregate data and pii into federally-created “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS). Because SLDS systems use common educational data standards (CEDS) that the federal-corporate partners created, that data is portable and re-shareable (or re-stealable).

Many people believe that federal FERPA privacy laws protect the data, but it doesn’t.  It used to.  The Department of Education shredded the protective parts of FERPA several years ago.  What’s actually protecting student privacy right now is the territorial unwillingness of agencies to share all data.

But the CEP is out to change that.

gold-bars

CEP will lead you to believe that it’s all about benefiting society.  But that’s a side show, because data is the new gold.   Everyone wants the data!

Sadly, individuals aren’t guarding this irreplaceable gold; most people aren’t aware that this pii is so valuable, that it’s being taken –and that it’s THEIRS.

Meanwhile, the elite at the CEP speak about data as if it’s oxygen, free for all, belonging to all.  It makes sense from their (bottom line) point of view; governments and ed vendors have financially benefited from SLDS’s taking students’ data since about 2009, when SLDS databases were installed in every state by federal grants, and when federal FERPA changes allowed almost anyone access, for supposed research purposes.

Luckily, there’s so much territorialism by the various holders of the taken data that it hasn’t yet been centrally housed all in one spot.  The federal EdFacts Data Exchange has some data. Each state’s SLDS has tons of data. Universities, hospitals, corporations, criminal justice agencies, and other organizations have other caches of pii.  But the elite (the federal government, globalists, corporate elite, and some scientists) are desperate to have one national “clearinghouse” so that they can see and use our data to their own designs.  They speak a smooth line in each of their CEP hearings.  But don’t forget:  that data is your life.  Yours.  Not theirs.

There was a recent three hour conversation that you most likely missed last week. Held in Chicago, this “public” hearing of the federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) discussed what should be done with the  pii (personally identifiable information) that federal agencies, state agencies, counties, school systems, hospitals, criminal justice systems, colleges and other organizations have collected.  They’ve been discussing this all year long.

I picture Pap with a crate of stolen chickens.  I picture his pirating friends with their own crates nearby.  I think there might even be a few crate-holders who ethically came by their chickens, but the federal Chicken Evidence Policy says that all chickens go in one central pen, on an ongoing basis, so all the elite can access the chickens conveniently–  conveniently for everyone except the chickens and their owners.

chicks-and-lab-coat

When you listen to their hearings, you find that the federal CEP is leaning toward creating a federal clearinghouse where every individual’s data can be centrally managed.  CEP is also hoping to overturn the federal ban on unit-record identifiers.

Welcome to the real live prequel to Orwell’s 1984.

Do I sound calm?  I’m not.  This makes me almost unspeakably angry.

While trusting parents, teachers, school administrators and students are being used as pawns in the great data-gathering heist, arrogant members of Congress, of science, of CEP, of big data, are assuming authority over MY life and yours in the form of our personally identifiable data.  And who is stopping them?

Despite a huge number of public comments that told the CEP that Americans want the CEP to get its hands off our data, the CEP moves ahead at a steady pace.  And why not?  We can never un-elect this appointed group that Congress created less than a year ago.  What motivation would CEP have to actually incorporate the public comments?

As the Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out in October, there was only one man in America who seemed to care about protecting citizen privacy at that month’s hearing.  Mr. Emmett McGroarty testified to the CEP that what they were doing was wrong.  Similarly, at last week’s January 5 CEP hearing, there was only one woman who spoke ethically about children’s data privacy rights.  She did a magnificent job.  Everyone else testified that data should be gathered in one place, or possibly in a few places; and none of the others mentioned permission or informed consent. I took pages and pages of notes, since the meeting was only public in the sense that I could listen in to it on my phone.

It wasn’t filmed.  It wasn’t truly public.  It’s aiming to fly under the radar because it’s theft.

chicks

Huck Finn’s father’s plan to later share the stolen chickens didn’t make the chickens less stolen.  Other people’s information doesn’t suddenly become your “scientific research” or your “evidence” for “evidence-based policymaking” just because Congress created a commission and appointed you to chat about it.

Shame on the CEP.  Shame on all who turn a blind eye to this evil, open assault on the basic freedom of personal privacy.

Who Defines Truth? Fed Center to Assume Role Under New NDAA Law   9 comments

Feds’ Comment on Children’s Privacy: “Ripping the Band-aid Would Probably Not Fly”   10 comments

I am so annoyed.  Those words actually came out of the mouth of the CEP Commission leader:  “Ripping the Band-Aid (of data privacy and control) probably would not fly.” But pulling it off using (in his words) “baby steps” is the CEP’s plan, he said in the video of yesterday’s meeting.

Four-hour federal meetings posted on YouTube are  not fun to watch.  These arrogant –and, let me remind you, unelected CEP members, who we cannot possibly fire (they’re appointed) –spout blah-blah-blah that can consistently be summarized as something like: “… I feel great about the way we persuade the elite and rob Americans of privacy –without widespread knowledge and completely without consent.”

Wait: Before I say one more word: TOMORROW, 12-14-16,  is the deadline for public input on privacy v. fed authority over data —here’s the comment link.

Please comment, even if all you write is something very short and very simple:  “I believe in informed consent.  I oppose non-consensual data mining. Stop this madness.”  Do it, please:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

You and I both suspect that zero consideration will be taken by the CEP of the comments from the public. Do it anyway. Don’t let them think nobody sees or opposes this assault on personal data privacy. And yes, it’s about disaggregated data. See the quotes below, repeatedly speaking about PII. (Personally Identifiable Information as defined in federal FERPA includes so much, even biometric information: behavioral data, DNA samples, nicknames, bus stop times, family history, academic history, fingerprints, blood samples, etc.)

Since CEP has disabled embedding of its public meeting,  I’m embedding a video that suffices as a metaphor for the whole thing, before I tell you what went on in the meeting itself.

See how this carnivorous sundew plant injests this insect?  It illustrates the stealthy federal hunger for individuals’ data.  As individuals (the insects) are drawn to the sweet federal dollars (nectar) coming from the hungry plant (federal government) the tentacles of the plant (federal data mining; SLDS and CEDS) become more and more attached until the insect finally loses all autonomy.

Here’s one where a carnivorous plant lures and later digests a mouse.

 

 

If state legislators and administrators would exercise some self-reliance, tighten their financial belts, turn to ourselves (localities) to fund schools and other agencies instead of using federal funds or national, corporate lobby cash, which only give money in exchange for data– then the federal and global data mining traps would fail.

States are stupidly giving away our vital liberties, addicted to the sweet, sticky money that we’ve been lapping at federal troughs.

I am longing to see evidence that our friends in freedom (in D.C. or here in Utah) are making the smallest peep to protect our children from this ongoing, slow-motion, tsunami-like data grab.  Maybe it’s happening behind the scenes.  I pray at least that that is so.

So, unembedded, if you want to hear the federal “Let’s Take Student Data Without Consent” Commission (aka CEP Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking)  is saying, check out this link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXasJLAWgtc

Ironically, CEP disabled the video‘s embedding function (it’s a public meeting) but if you look at this link, at hour 1:25 to 1:31 you’ll hear this question from an attendee, followed by a CEP response that summarizes the event:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question, and I don’t expect you to be able to answer it, but maybe we can start a conversation that could be useful to us.  So, I see census as having made a lot of steps to move in the kinds of directions that are suggested or anticipated by the Commission bill, in that you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have, into the — you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?  What kinds of things have you thought about?  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“…One of the biggest constraints that everybody involved in this sort of endeavor faces is the different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a state; versus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

Summary: the CEP just said that “ripping the band-aid” of privacy off the arm of the American people will “probably not fly”; so the CEP has got to “do it in sort of baby steps.”

I don’t think I’m going to watch the rest of this dog and pony show.  I’m going to write again to Mia, Jason, Mike and Gary.

What are you going to do?  Send CEP a comment?  Email your legislators?  Say a prayer for the privacy of American people?  Re-read 1984 to motivate yourself to care?

You can attend the CEP’s next public meetings in various places across the  nation by visiting the CEP federal site here.

1984-was

 

UT Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on 750,000 Stolen Records of Students and Families   2 comments

judith

Judith Pinborough-Zimmerman

A news bomb about the theft of student data exploded in Utah’s Deseret News last July, but nobody noticed, apparently.

The article’s headline — “Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Puts Spotlight on Utah Autism Rates” — focused primarily on things other than the data theft.  It highlighted former University of Utah research professor Judith Zimmerman’s allegations that university researchers were falsifying Utah’s autism rates.

But to me, the unheadlined bomb that the article dropped was the 750,000 students who had their data and their families’ data stolen by unauthorized “researchers”.  The families now have no way of knowing this happened.

Zimmerman was fired for raising concerns about protected student data that she said the researchers had “compromised and accessed without proper authority.”  She told the Deseret News that unauthorized individuals took  750,000 sensitive records with neither parental nor schools’ consent.  This private “medical and educational information”  included “names, birthdays, information about medical characteristics… special education classification and parents’ names and addresses,”  reported the Deseret News.

How would these families now be notified?  I wonder: with the whistleblower fired and with a years-long lawsuit and likely gag orders pending, the only people who now could potentially contact those families would be still employed at the university –who, being accused of the wrongdoing, certainly won’t go out of their way to inform the affected families right now.

I’m not going to discuss the ways in which the stolen records, and the children they represented, are vulnerable to potential crimes of credit card fraud, health insurance identity theft, crimes of predatory stalkers or the mandates of well-or-ill-intentioned governmental activists.

I’m here to ask –and answer– a very simple question that I hope readers are asking: how could this have happened?  How were three quarters of a million records of children just lying around under the noses of any unscrupulous university researchers?

It’s simple.  Utah has a STATE LONGITUDINAL DATABASE SYSTEM (SLDS) and it’s managed by the UECP at the University of Utah.

uecp

You, your children, and your grandchildren are in the SLDS whether you like it or not –unless you pay 100% of your own money in tuition for a 100% private school, and always have.  There is no other way to opt out.  I’ve tried.

Don’t get me started about how blindly stupid Utah is (all states now are) for having –and continuing to support– the SLDS.

We’re subject to this SLDS data surveillance system simply because in some USOE cubicle, some clueless grant writer responded to Obama’s mess of pottage and decided that the state of Utah might exchange students’ privacy for a $9.6 million dollar federal grant.

Utah traded all students’ data records, longitudinally (permanently) into this data-slurping machine, euphemistically titled the State Longitudinal Database System,  which the feds designed and oversaw— all for the love of money and nonconsensual research.

uda

Without parental consent, Utah children’s data now is daily being collected –using schools to vaccum it up.  This is not a legitimate situation, but you can’t blame schools.  They are being used.  They have to give daily data to the state/fed system, or they lose funds/grind to a halt.  In a recent Utah rulemaking statement, we read:  “all public education LEAs shall begin submitting daily updates to the USOE Clearinghouse using all School Interoperability Framework (SIF) objects defined in the UTREx Clearinghouse specification. Noncompliance with this requirement may result in interruption of MSP funds.”

So we can’t believe the ear candy we’re told, about how this data  mining is about keeping data on kids so teachers can do their best teaching.  It’s not staying in the local school for teachers and administrators to legitimately peruse, but it goes into the federally designed, federally interoperable SLDS database held at UECP/U of U which many state agencies can peruse and which the feds can already partially peruse.

(Side note:  the feds are feverishly working to get much greater unit-record access as we speak.  If you’re interested, livestream the CEP’s federal public hearing on that subject today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvvatB_NBWI )

Every state has an SLDS system.  The feds paid the states to build them.  The feds told the states how the SLDS’s had to be built.  Utah got nearly $10 million to make Utah’s federal SLDS in 2009.  And the grant’s been renewed to keep trading cash for students, in recent years.

Utah children and their families thus have their data sucked away to where unelected, unaccountable “researchers” are entrusted with data via SLDS.  The University’s “Utah Education Policy Center” (UEPC) is a founding partner in the Utah Data Alliance, which controls Utah’s SLDS system. According to UEPC’s website:

“Five other partners include the Utah State Office of Education (public education), Utah System of Higher Education, Utah College of Applied Technology, Utah Education Network, and the Department of Workforce Services. UEPC serves as the research coordinator for the Utah Data Alliance. UEPC coordinates access for individuals and organizations interested in collaborating with the Utah Data Alliance, or researchers interested in accessing data for research purposes.”

That’s a long answer to a short question.  That’s how the data got stolen.

Here’s the follow up question:  what’s keeping the other millions of records of students from going the same way that those 750,000 records went?

Ask your legislator that question.  Ask him/her to show you any proper privacy protections that are actually in place.  (FERPA was shredded; don’t let them pretend there’s protection anymore under FERPA.)

We do not even have the freedom to opt out of SLDS tracking.  But all of this can change– if more good people speak up– act.

fox

 

How did the fox persuade the gingerbread boy to get on his back?  The fox said that he would never eat him, but would surely protect the gingerbread boy from everyone who was trying to eat him on the dangerous side of the river.

On shore stood the hungry horse, the farmer, the dog, the others– and the fox said that he could help the gingerbread boy to get away.  The fox protected the gingerbread boy like the federal government is protecting your child’s personal data.

Every time I read an official promise like this recent CEP statement (and there are so many; even the federal alterations to FERPA sounded like the CEP statement) –I think of the gingerbread boy.  The CEP (federal “Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking”) promises that the government only wants more individual “data in order to build evidence about government programs, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.” I think of the fox “protecting” the gingerbread boy.

That fox wanted to eat the boy just as much as the dog and the farmer and everyone else did.  Even the gingerbread boy probably suspected it, but he really, really wanted to cross that river.

When the government says that it can and will protect privacy while accessing greater amounts of data, I think:

 

River = money

Gingerbread boy = a child’s sensitive data

Horse = educational sales corporations

Farmer = educational researchers

Fox = federal government

Dog= state government

The oven where the boy was born = SLDS database 

 

 

gingerb

 

 

 

 

What’s Competency Based Education?   2 comments

Alyson Williams, who worked in data management for the publishing industry, a mother who has written and spoken much about education and data reforms over the past several years, has just given a speech at the Agency Based Education Conference.

It’s worth your time.

Alyson raises and expands upon many of the issues that are also being raised by other data privacy experts, including  American Principles ProjectElana Zeide, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Education Liberty Watch, Return to Parental Rights, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy,  and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She asks us to consider how current trends toward consent-less gathering and use of student data are to be affected by frameworks already in place (such as SLDS databases) and by new movements, such as the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP) and the Competency-based Education reforms now arising in many legislatures (including Utah’s) today.  She points out that a key cheerleader for Competency-based Education is Marc Tucker, the avowed enemy to local control of education who is, nonetheless, a mistakenly respected advisor to the Utah legislature.  How might Marc Tucker’s CBE Baby affect my children and yours?

Please watch and share with your legislators.

Who’s Trump Pick for Education?   5 comments

evers-meme

I agree with Joy Pullman: “I shouldn’t have to give a flying fig about whom Donald Trump picks for this position.”

But we care, and the figs are flying, because there’s so much power unconstitutionally wielded by the executive branch over local education.

Although Trump did say in a campaign interview that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Education,  it does not look as though that’s going to happen, sadly.  The next best thing is to name a local-control oriented, constitution-loving Education Secretary.

Will Trump do that?

Trump’s choice of ed guru Bill Evers to his transition team spoke hope to those opposed to Common Core.   Evers, a scholar at Hoover Institute (Stanford University) had been speaking out and writing bookswhite papersthink tank documents, and columns against Common Core; he served on panels and published opinion editorials  against the nationalization of our formerly autonomous educational system.  He’d been featured widely for his scholarship and activism; see for example, Breitbart, CSPAN, Stanford UniversityUtahns Against Common Core, Education Reporter.

Evers proclaimed that Common Core “violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling” and said that “Common Core’s national uniformity runs counter to competitive federalism”.

Surely Evers would turn the Common Core machine around, thought parents and freedom loving teachers across this nation, and they took action.

A public letter from United States Parents Involved in Education last week pleaded with Trump to choose Dr. Bill Evers for Education Secretary.  (See who signed that letter here.)

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A similar public  letter from Parents Against Common Core asked Trump to consider, along with Dr. Bill Evers, Dr. Larry Arnn, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Peg Luksik, or Dr. William Jeynes.

You can still sign that letter here.

Frighteningly though, this week Trump interviewed Michelle Rhee, one of the top ten scariest education reformers in the nation, for the job; the scandal-pocked former Commissioner of Education in D.C. and author of a creepy ed reform book, “Radical” is no friend to children, to opt-out liberty, or to the free market.  Of “letting them choose wherever they want to go,” she said, “I don’t believe in that model at all.”  So, Goodbye freedom, under Rhee.

There should be no chance that she’s chosen.  (Even though she’s suddenly, cutely, dressing in red, white and blue to meet the president elect, do not be fooled!)

I hope Trump’s receiving a storm of anti-Rhee letters this week from parents and educators at his public input website.  He’s probably going to make his announcement this week.  Please, please speak up.

 

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#BillEvers for Secretary!  #NeverRhee!

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Trump won. Now what?? -by Emily Talmage   3 comments

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This must-read article is partially reposted from Emily Talmage’s blog (Maine mom against common core).  I think my favorite part is the video clip at the end, depicting a real cat and a real alligator, where the cat swats and intimidates the alligator, causing it to retreat in fear.  What an iconic metaphor for what we the little people are trying to do as we fight the machine.

Read the whole article at EmilyTalmage.com.

 

Several weeks ago, I wondered in a blog post whether or not public education would survive the next administration. Admittedly, I was all but certain at the time that Hillary Clinton would be our next president, and my predictions were more than dismal: more screen time for even our youngest children, inflated local budgets, invasive school-wide and individual data collection, a proliferation of low-quality online K-12 and higher education programs, etc.

Ever since the big shock of Tuesday night, however, I’ve been scrambling to say something coherent about what we can expect now that Donald Trump really is going to be our next president.

Will public education survive?

Here’s the funny (and by that I mean incredibly scary) thing about federal public education policy: the big agenda – the real agenda – seems to survive no matter who is put in charge.

The real agenda – the ongoing march toward a cradle-to-grave system of human capital development that relies on the most sophisticated data collection and tracking technologies to serve its unthinkably profitable end – is fueled and directed by a multi-billion dollar education-industrial-complex that has been built over the course of decades.

It’s an absolute beast, an army of epic scale, and it’s a system that has the same uncanny ability to blend in with its surroundings as a chameleon.

Take, for example, the new “innovative assessment systems” that are being thrust on us every which way in the wake of ESSA.  Under the banner of free market ideology, the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is promoting the very same assessment policies that far-left groups like the national unions and the National Center for Fair and Open Testing are now pushing. And though some claim that one ideology is merely “co-opting” the ideas of the other, the reality is that they lead to the same data-mining, cradle-to-career tracking end.

Consider, too, the massive push for blended, competency-based, and digital learning – all unproven methods of educating children, but highly favored by ed-tech providers and data-miners.

Most of these corporate-backed policies were cooked up in Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, and then made their way not only to the far-right ALEC, but also to left-leaning groups like the Center for Collaborative Education, the Coalition for Essential Schools, and the Great Schools Partnership. Depending on what sort of population each group is targeting, these wolves will dress themselves up in sheep’s clothing and make appeals to different values. For the right, they will package their policies in the language of the free market and choice; for the left, they will wrap them in a blanket of social-justice terminology.

Pull back the curtain far enough, however, and you will see they are selling the same thing.

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There is, of course, no question that Hillary Clinton has been deeply entrenched in the education-industrial-complex for many, many years – even profiting from it personally – and that the big agenda was going to move full speed ahead if she were elected.

But what will happen now that we’re guaranteed to have a President Trump?

Unfortunately, we need look no further than the man leading Trump’s education transition team to understand how much trouble we are in.

Not long ago, Gerard Robinson, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was one of only eleven members of the Executive Team of Jeb Bush’s “Digital Learning Now!” council, along with Joel Klein of NYC Public Schools, Gregory McGinity of the Broad Foundation, and Susan Patrick of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

Former Gates Foundation executive Tom Vander Ark, who sits on the board of the world’s creepiest education organizations while overseeing a giant portfolio of digital and online learning companies, picked Robinson as one of his top ten reformers to watch back in 2010.

It should be no surprise, then, that Robinson recently told EdWeek: “I see [Trump] supporting blended learning models, alternative learning models,” and that he will “likely want to continue significant investments in colleges and universities, but also closely track how well graduates do in the labor market.”

That’s all part of the big agenda right there, and here is no big surprise: for-profit education chains are already seeing their stocks rise.

For those of you now protesting that Trump said he would get rid of the Department of Education, well, President Reagan said that too, but then he sponsored a report called “A Nation at Risk” which kicked the role of the federal government in education into high gear. According to Robinson, Trump may “streamline” the department  …whatever that means.

As for rumors circulating that either Ben Carson or William Evers of the Hoover Institute will be tapped for the role of Education Secretary under Trump, I think we’re more likely to get someone akin to what Robinson told Edweek:  “Someone from the private sector, who may not have worked in education directly, but may be involved in philanthropy or some kind of reform.”

So what does this mean for us? For our kids, our schools and our communities?

More than likely, it won’t be much different nor any less dismal than what I wrote when I assumed Hillary would be president: more screen time for even our youngest children, inflated local budgets to support one-to-one tech initiatives, invasive (way more invasive) school-wide and individual data collection, and a proliferation of low-quality online K-12 and higher education programs.

Unless!

And this is a big unless..

 Unless parents and activists from across the political spectrum can mobilize now and stand up now to say enough is enough. We knowwhat the big agenda is, and we aren’t going to manipulated by superficial policy change anymore.

This means that those who lean right can’t afford to go back to sleep once they hear talk of school choice and vouchers and the elimination of Common Core, and those leaning left can’t afford to throw in the towel or be led astray by phony anti-privatization movements run by neoliberal groups pushing the same darn thing as everyone else

Read the rest here…

 

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Zeide: On Ethics in Common Data Standards and Competency-Based Ed   Leave a comment

Watch the last ten minutes, at least.

Zeide is a scholar and a lawyer, not an activist for student privacy. She lays out the pros and cons of Competency Based Education with probing ethical questions.

She also notes at minute 14 that there is a movement to use unit record data, which I have been stressing in recent posts concerning the activities of the federal CEP — “Commission on Evidence Based Policymaking”.

She does not use the word “Orwellian,” speaking of unit record data, but I do. If that governmental stalking of individuals idea bothers you, give online comment at the CEP Commission’s website. That CEP comment deadline is this weekend. Be heard.

https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

If words don’t come easily, just say that student privacy is very important, and that consent is important, and that a move to a database of individual unit records is unacceptable in our free country.

Three Anti-Common Core State School Board Members Elected in Utah Last Night   3 comments

 

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Miracles do happen.

Utah’s liberty-loving, anti-common core community did a lot of happy dancing last night when candidates Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter and Lisa Cummins won three seats on the state school board. This election showed what can happen when people actually get to vote, instead of having the governor appoint board members, as had happened for so many years in the past.

Utah’s board finally has vibrant voices and votes for parent-and-teacher directed, not federal-corporate directed control of curriculum, testing, and student data.

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Although the Utah anti-common core community was saddened that the heroic Dr. Gary Thompson (pictured above with Senator Mike Lee and Lisa Cummins) did not win his bid for a seat on the state school board, his campaign had an undeniable impact in raising awareness about student mental health, student data privacy, and the supremacy of family /parental rights.  How often Dr. Thompson repeated this truth: “Parents are, and always must be, the resident experts of their children”.

The spirit of what Dr. Thompson’s all about thrives in Alisa, Michelle and Lisa.

The news of three of our strongest freedom-fighter parents taking three seats on the state school board is nothing short of miraculous.

Celebrate!

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Testify Now.   7 comments

 

The purpose of this post is to ask you to testify this week to the newly created White House Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP)– either online or in person— against CEP’s idea of studying to remove protective barriers on unit-level data for federal access and policymaking.

Here’s why.

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Apparently chafing against constitutional and tech barriers against unrestrained access to student-level data, the federal government, this year, invited 15 people to help remove those barriers.

It’s a motley crew: a British behavioral scientist, an American data crime lawyer, a White House Medicaid bureaucrat, and piles of professors who formerly worked for the feds.

They named the group The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) and passed a law (led by Dem. Senator Murray, Speaker Ryan and President Obama) that gives the semblance of authority to the commission and allows them to post on the White House website.

The law passed in March.

The CEP’s stated purpose is to increase “use of data in order to build evidence about government programs“.

How would this be done?  CEP doesn’t say on its website, but the trend in data mining is to push for unit record data sharing.

Individual students are, in computer jargon, “unit record data“.  CEP promises to focus on “existing barriers” that are standing in the government’s way of accessing data [unit record data included] or, in their words, “data already being collected” [by states, in SLDS systems]. That data is none of the federal government’s business. In my opinion, it’s none of the state’s business. My data belongs to me. My child’s data should not be harvested without my written consent. The state never asked before it began to longitudinally study my child. And now, the feds want full access to disaggregated data to “build evidence” of all kinds.

CEP’s website claims that “…while protecting privacy and confidentiality” the Commission will “study how data, research, and evaluation are currently used to build evidence, and how to strengthen the government’s evidence-building efforts.

In the context of the decade-long Congressional debate for and against unrestrained federal study of individuals,  how can CEP simultaneously persuade Congress that it will protect student privacy while pushing Congress to increase its evidence-building efforts?

I suppose if they gain unlimited access to data but deny access to at least one person, they can call this “protecting privacy”.

They used the phrase “protecting privacy” while they:

  1. Installed fifty interoperable, federally designed-and-funded “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS)  to track the nation’s schoolchildren. There was no vote, no request for parental consent– it was part of the “government evidence-building effort”.
  2. Stripped privacy protections that used to  be in federal FERPA law, which earlier had  mandated parental consent (or adult consent) –for the all important “government evidence-building effort”.

They made scary, transformative changes effortlessly, as unelected bureaucrats dangled money (our taxes) in front of other unelected bureaucrats.  No representation.

When CEP begins its planned study of “practices for monitoring and assessing outcomes of government programs,” and other “studies,” you can just insert your child or grandchild’s name wherever you see the term “government programs”.

It’s all about unit-record data: the kids.

And it’s not a new idea!

In 1998, Hillary Clinton and Marc Tucker conspired to create a system they envisioned as “seamless”; a “cradle-to-grave system that is the same for everyone” to “remold the entire American system” using “large scale data management systems”.  It was exposed, but not abandoned.

In 2013, Senators Warner, Rubio and Wyden called for a federal “unit record” database to track students from school through the workforce.  That was shot down; Congress didn’t want to end the protective ban on unit record collection. In 2008, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act expressly forbade creation of a federal unit record data system.

In 2013 InsideHigherEd.com reported:

A unit record database has long been the holy grail for many policy makers, who argue that collecting data at the federal level is the only way to get an accurate view of postsecondary education…

…[V]oices calling for a unit record system have only intensified; there is now a near-consensus that a unit record system would be a boon… An increasing number of groups, including some federal panels, have called for a federal unit record system since 2006: the Education Department’s advisory panel on accreditation, last year; the Committee on Measures of Student Success, in 2011; and nearly every advocacy group and think tank that wrote white papers earlier this year for a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation…

… through linkage with Social Security or other databases, it could track graduates’ wages… The Obama administration — unable to create a federal unit record database — has offered states money to construct longitudinal databases of their own…”

It is time to stand up.

We missed the public meeting and the public hearing last month, but we can still speak at next week’s public testimony at the Rayburn Office Building.

If you can be in D.C. next Thursday, and want to offer public comment to offset the Gates-funded organizations that will be speaking in favor of sharing unit-record data, please send an email to  Input@cep.gov.  Ask for time to speak on the 21st of October.  They ask for your name, professional affiliation, a two sentence statement, and a longer, written statement.

If you can’t make it to D.C. on Thursday, you can catch them in a few months at similar meetings in California and in the Midwest.

At the very least, you can send your opinion online to the CEP at:   https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USBC-2016-0003

 

My submission to the CEP is below.  Feel free to use it as a template.

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Dear Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking,

I love the American concept of voter-based, Constitution-based, elected representative-based, policymaking.  It’s why I live in America.

In contrast to voter-based policymaking there is evidence-based policymaking, which I don’t love because it implies that one entity’s “evidence” trumps individuals’ evidence, or trumps individuals’ consent to policy changes.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson said something about education that also applies to educational data and policymaking:

“The best way to prevent a political faction or any small group of people from capturing control of the nation’s educational system is to keep it decentralized into small local units, each with its own board of education and superintendent. This may not be as efficient as one giant super educational system (although bigness is not necessarily efficient, either) but it is far more safe. There are other factors, too, in favor of local and independent school systems. First, they are more responsive to the needs and wishes of the parents and the community. The door to the school superintendent’s office is usually open to any parent who wishes to make his views known. But the average citizen would be hard pressed to obtain more than a form letter reply from the national Commissioner of Education in Washington, D.C.”

Local control, and consent of the governed, are two foundational principles in our great nation.

Because the CEP is not an elected body, it does not actually hold representative authority to collect, or to recommend collection, of student-level evidence, or of any evidence, without written consent; and, for the same reasons, neither does the Department of Education.

Because the fifty, federally-designed, evidence-collecting, State Longitudinal Database Systems never received any consent from the governed in any state to collect data on individuals (as the systems were put into place not by authority, but by grant money) it follows that the idea of having CEP study the possible removal of barriers to federal access of those databases, is an egregious overstep that even exceeds the overstep of the State Longitudinal Database Systems.

Because federal FERPA regulations altered the original protective intent of FERPA, and removed the mandate that governments must get parental (or adult student) consent for any use of student level data, it seems that the idea of having CEP study and possible influence removal of additional “barriers” to federal use of data, is another egregious overstep.

As a licensed teacher in the State of Utah; as co-founder of Utahns Against Common Core (UACC); as a mother of children who currently attend public, private and home schools; as acting president of the Utah Chapter of United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE); as a patriot who believes in “consent of the governed” and in the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and, as a current tenth grade English teacher, I feel that my letter represents the will of many who stand opposed to the  “study” of the protective barriers on student-level data, which the CEP’s website has outlined it will do.

I urge this commission to use its power to strengthen local control of data, meaning parental and teacher stewardship over student data, instead of aiming to broaden the numbers of people with access to personally identifiable student information to include government agencies and/or educational sales/research corporations such as Pearson, Microsoft, or the American Institutes for Research.

 

To remove barriers to federal access of student-level data only makes sense to a socialist who agrees with the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton 1998 vision of a cradle-to-grave nanny state with “large scale data management systems” that dismiss privacy as a relic in subservience to modern government.  It does not make sense to those who cherish local control.

It is clear that there is a strong debate about local control and about consent of the governed, concerning data and concerning education in general. NCEE Chair Mark Tucker articulated one side of the debate when he said:  “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies, much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”

Does that statement match the philosophical stand of this commission?  I hope not.  Local control means individual control of one’s own life.  How would an individual control his or her own destiny if “large scale data management systems” in a cradle-to-grave system, like the one that Tucker and Clinton envisioned, override the right to personal privacy and local control?  It is not possible.

I urge this commission to use any influence that it has to promote safekeeping of unit-record data at the parental and teacher level, where that authority rightly belongs.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

 

 

 

 

Common Core’s Role in Hot State School Board Race   4 comments

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Senate President Niederhauser and House Speaker Hughes

The State School Board race has never drawn much attention before. But this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, businesses and even top-tier elected officials are personally campaigning and fundraising for and against certain candidates.

Yesterday’s headline was: “Niederhauser and Hughes ask Business Leaders to Help Defeat UEA-Backed School Board Candidates“.  Yesterday, too, business organizations such as the Utah Technology Council and the School Improvement Association joined Niederhauser and Hughes in a fundraising webinar that promoted a slate of pro-Common Core candidates who happen to be not favored by or funded by national teacher’s unions.

I understand why someone with a conscience would campaign against out-of-state big UEA-NEA money buying Utah’s state board election.  So they should.

But I don’t understand why these groups have chosen to campaign against both the anti-Common Core candidates (in blue) as well as against the UEA-backed candidates (in red) as they showed in this slide at yesterday’s insider fundraising webinar:

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Nor do I understand why our House Speaker and Senate President don’t see the hypocrisy in speaking against big money buying votes (NEA) while both of them are personally funded by big business money (Education First).

But my bigger questions are: how do the Speaker and the Senate President dare to campaign for Common Core candidates, thus going directly against Governor Herbert’s call to end Common Core alignment in Utah?

How do they dare campaign against the resolution of their own Utah Republican Party that called for the repeal of the Common Core Initiative?

Have they forgotten the reasons that their party is strongly opposed to all that the Common Core Initiative entails?

Have they forgotten Governor Herbert’s letter that called for an end to Common Core and SAGE testing just four months ago? (See letter here.)  For all the talk about wanting to move toward local control and to move against the status quo, this seems odd.

Next to the governorship, there aren’t more powerful offices in the state than those held by House Speaker Hughes and Senate President Niederhauser. So what does this powerful endorsement of a certain slate of candidates signify?

First, it signifies what is probably a sincere concern for (partial) local control: In the fundraising webinar held yesterday (by Hughes, Niederhauser, the School Improvement Network and the Utah Technology Council) the following slide was displayed:  Out of $308,512 raised for the political action of the Utah UEA (teacher’s union) $300,000 of it came from out of state.  Hughes and Niederhauser are right in being alarmed at that money’s probable effect on local control.

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(What they didn’t highlight is this: all of the anti-Common Core candidates’ funding, combined, doesn’t come close to what even one of the UEA-funded candidates are spending because none of them are backed by corporate or political powers.)

Secondly, it signifies Utah leadership’s alignment with Obama’s vision for education, which among other things mandates sidelining certain subjects in favor of others. Niederhauser told the Tribune that he didn’t want any board member’s vision to “dominate the board” which, to  him, meant to “supplant business and technology representatives.”  So he wants to make sure that business and technology is at least as dominant as any other interest.   The School Improvement Network is of the same opinion.

We could ask why. Why, specifically, would legislators be endorsing the fields of business and technology over the fields of languages, medicine, history, social work, the arts or any other thing?  And where’s the idealogical division between what NEA wants and what Niederhauser-Hughes want?  Is it fair to speculate that NEA corporate funders are in competition against the Education First corporate funders, and all of this is just an economic struggle pretending to be a struggle for the children’s best interests?  Utah tax dollars are, after all, the passionate pursuit of multiple players in the now $2 Billion per year ed tech sales industry.

Many people know that both Hughes and Niederhauser’s political campaigns are heavily funded by Education First, a Utah political action committee for Prosperity 2020 that puts businesses first.

Not voters first.  Not education –broadly– first; this is education as defined by the ed-tech sales industry and by Obama’s 2020 vision. Read it in their own words.  In an Tribune op-ed taking credit for passing legislation that Education First had lobbied for, you’ll see little focus on funding for paper and pens, school basketballs, violins, gluesticks, old-fashioned books, or heaven forbid, large teachers’ salaries– no, ed funding to Education First means to fund the priorities that precisely (coincidentally?) match Obama’s 2020 vision:  early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), workforce development (China-styled central planning) “community schools” (Obama’s vision to integrate healthcare with academics and with socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”) and standardized personalized learning (an oxymoron that cements Common Core academics and its data tags).

Don’t mistake this as a fight between tech lovers and tech haters.  None of the candidates for state school board are anti-technology, though the smart ones are pushing for improved laws governing student privacy in this modern age.

So what are Hughes and Niederhauser really saying when they say they’re for the pro-tech candidates?  What does that really mean?  That Utahns should sit back and let the ed tech sales industry, or businesses, sit in the driver’s seat for educational decision-making?  That’s the stated aim of Education First (in Utah) and of Obama’s 2020 (nationally) and, according to his Tribune quote above, it’s also the aim of President Niederhauser.

Education First doggedly, directly, lobbies citizens, governments, and school districts, to strong-arm their narrow vision, that businesses should “help” direct education.  They refer to my child and yours as the economy’s.  They call children “human capital” on their website.  This is, when ripe, the 1992 Hillary-Tucker dream coming true, with the collective economy dictating to the individual on the assembly line.

Education First wants a high “concentration of science and engineering occupations” in Utah, which you may or may not agree with; what I hope you do agree with is that this new, business – public ed partnershipping governance system, with business being handed power to influence schooling, when taken to the extreme, is fascism.  In fascism, there’s no distinction between government and business.  And the voter has no say.

Do we want to walk down that slippery slope?  Do we want the Education First business community to be given power in schools?

Whether promoting science and engineering at the expense of other subject and careers is the will of the people, or not, really doesn’t come in to the discussion. Prosperity 2020 has said that businesses will “provide a business oriented plan to improve results” for schools.

If Hughes or Niederhauser would respond to my emails to them, I would ask them this:  how is it any more helpful toward Constitutional local control–  if that is what you really want– to let businesses take over the driver’s seat for educators, as your financial backers aim to do, than for out of state (NEA) funding to call the same shots?  Either way, students and schools and voters lose personal freedoms to self-appointed experts who think they know best.

So when Niederhauser worries that “big money groups effectively buy the election,” he is right.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring in to NEA-UEA approved candidates’ purses should raise eyebrows.  But shouldn’t the same eyebrows rise too, seeing in-state big money groups like Education First and Prosperity 2020 now, as in the past, funding the pro-Common Core candidates –and funding Hughes and Niederhauser themselves– effectively buying the election in the very same way?

Meanwhile, none of the liberty-first, anti-Common Core candidates,  Alisa Ellis, Lisa Cummins, Michelle Boulter or Dr. Gary Thompson, are richly funded.   All they really have to stand on is true principles of liberty –and word of mouth.

Many voters know that Common Core is anti-local control.  The Governor almost lost in the primary to anti-Common Core challenger Jonathan Johnson because of this.  The Governor was repeatedly booed at political conventions this year because he had been such a promoter of the Common Core, prior to his turnaround.  What will the governor say about Niederhauser’s and Hughes’ current effort?  More importantly, what will voters say?

Dr. Gary Thompson, a district 10 candidate for state school board, said today:

“I was pleased the that the Speaker of the House and Senator Neiderhauser identified who the “anti common core” education candidates are in this election. I was pleased to be labeled as one of them. This provides a clear choice for members in the community to chose from as they please.  Comments made by the Speaker in regards to the UEA did not receive a prior endorsement by this campaign.  I look forward to having a professional, cordial discussion with my UEA endorsed opponent on September 28th regarding education issues that will affect our children in District 10″

For anyone wanting to watch the debates between state school board candidates, please check that schedule here. 

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Pictured below are the candidates for state school board that I endorse, whom the UEA, NEA, UTC, SIN, Senate President and House Speaker do not:

For true local control of education:

Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter, Lisa Cummins, Dr. Gary Thompson.

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Join Us: U.S.P.I.E. to #ReinInTheKing Tonight – Sign Petition to Congress   Leave a comment

#ReinInTheKing

              #ReinInTheKing

It is one of the ironies of life that Secretary King’s name matches his actions as throne-sitter at the unconstitutional U.S. Department of Educsation.  As Secretary of Education, he has followed in the outrageous, extreme, fully socialist footsteps of his predecessor, Secretary Arne Duncan.

Tonight, U.S.P.I.E. (U.S. Parents Involved in Education) is pushing back, hosting a nationwide #StopFedEd twitter rally to raise awareness.

Join us.

Tweet about the outrageous encroachments of the Department of Education.  Tweet about our current Secretary, John King, also known as “The King of Common Core.”  You can learn more about Secretary King by reading posts  and articles that many have written, for years, about his education shenanigans.  (#ReinInTheKing)

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Please join the rally at PJNET; click here.

Make some noise across the twittersphere.

Let the U.S. Department of Education know that millions of voters, teachers, parents and legislators aim to stop its monstrous agenda that wants to eliminate local control of schooling.  Let them know we are not blind to the unwanted  data gathering agenda, the teacher-stifling agenda, the collectivist agenda, nor the encroachments that abound in the new federal ESSA.  Let them know that we will not put our heads in the sand while Secretary King and his unconstitutional department has its heavy-fisted, unkind, unconstitutional way with our tax dollars and our children.

This is America; we, the people, standing on the U.S. Constitution, claim our rights and reject this King!  Tweet it, Facebook it, LinkedIn it, Pin it; share your voice.  We demand educational local control and liberty and true, high quality education.

Use the hashtags #ReinInTheKing and #StopFedEd, please.  If you want to find out more about USPIE, click here.   To join the twitter rally click here, or just tweet #ReinInTheKing and #StopFedEd, with whatever message you wish to send @ federal and state leadership

(Here’s one link to the twitter handles of the U.S. Congress, to get you started.)

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For additional context:

Below is a letter to be delivered this week to the U.S. Congress.  It is written by U.S.P.I.E. and has been signed by pages and pages of names of leaders of U.S. organizations and individual teachers and parents and voters.  That official list of signers will be available soon, as the deadline is tonight.  If you want to be a signer, email Ms. Few at:      afew@uspie.org

Here is the letter:

United States Parents Involved in Education (USPIE), a nationwide, nonpartisan coalition of state leaders with thirty state chapters focused on restoring local control of education, do hereby submit opposition to the proposed regulations of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability and state plan rule-making. USPIE is joined in our dissent by many other local and national organizations with shared goals as cosigners to this letter.

As part of our opposition, we point to Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Lamar Alexander’s comments concerning ESSA, “…it prohibits Washington from deciding which schools and teachers are succeeding or failing.” As well, Senator Alexander states, “…the new law explicitly prohibits Washington from mandating or even incentivizing Common Core or any other specific academics standards.” These two quotes point directly to our opposition. As Senator Alexander explains, ESSA “prohibits Washington” from being entrenched in education. As detailed below, we find this to be untrue.

 

In a thorough review and analysis of the proposed regulations against the Act, written into law in January of 2016, we found five main areas where the requirements of the regulations supersede States’ rights as defined in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The five areas include: The Power of the Secretary of Education, accountability through data reporting, accountability through assessments, state plan requirements, and identification for targeted support and improvement. Below are bulleted concerns where we believe federal overreach impedes states’ rights. These beliefs correspond with specific sections of the proposed regulations.

 

THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION IS GRANTED MORE POWER OVER STATES

 

  • Proposed 299.13 allows the Secretary to control how States are to submit their education plans and the deadline by which they are to submit.
  • Proposed 299.13 states the Secretary is authorized to establish consolidated State Plan Programs, information about these programs, the materials needed for these programs, and to set all assurances for the programs for adherence.
  • The proposed regulations allow the Secretary to amend requirements for implementing Title I programs including requirements for States when submitting their State Education Plans.
  • Proposed 299.13 say if States make any changes to State Education Plans, the Secretary must approve.
  • 46 of ESSA: The Secretary can withhold funds if States fail to meet any of the State Plan requirements.

 

**Recommendation: The Secretary should not be allowed to amend requirements. Title I should be implemented as the law states, not how the Secretary thinks it should be carried out. States should not be bribed into complying with regulations issued from any government agency.

DATA REPORTING IS EXPANDED AT THE COST OF THE STATES

 

  • Proposed 200.20 gives States “flexibility” to average data across years or combine data across grades because averaging data across school years or across grades in a school can increase the data available as a part of determining accountability.
  • Proposed 200.20 will also require States who combine data across grades or years to also report data individually for each grade/year, use the same uniform procedure, and explain the procedure in the State plan and specify its use in the State report card.
  • ESSA is supposed to give flexibility and more control to States by decreasing the burden of reporting requirements. Proposed regulations 299.13 and 299.19 will expand data reporting for “States and LEAs in order to provide parents, practitioners, policy makers, and public officials at the Federal, State, and local levels with actionable data,” which will entail additional costs for States. These reports must include accountability indicators to show how the State is aligned with a College and Career Readiness Standard (Common Core).
  • Proposed regulations 200.30 and 200.31 will implement requirements in the ESSA that expand reporting requirements for States and LEAs “in order to provide parents, practitioners, policy makers, and public officials at the Federal, State, and local levels with actionable data,” and information on key aspects of our education.
  • Proposed 200.17 clarifies data disaggregation requirements. It states that the n-size used to measure test scores and graduation rates of any subgroup for state accountability purposes should not exceed 30 students.
  • Proposed 200.21 through 200.24 require LEA’s to include evidence-based interventions in order to receive improvement funds. Such interventions include the safe and healthy school environments and the community and family engagement plans.  These plans include the heavy use of surveys—student surveys and home surveys.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations, letting States decide subgroup size as ESSA states

**Recommendation: We recommend not expanding data collection. Along these lines, we recommend the federal government not collect data on children at all.

RIGOROUS STANDARDIZED TESTS ARE THE MEASUREMENT FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

(These regulations heavily incentivize keeping Common Core as State standards)

 

  • Proposed 200.12 will require a State’s accountability system to be based on the challenging State academic standards (Common Core) and academic assessments.
  • Proposed 200.13 will require States to establish ambitious long-term goals and measurements of interim progress for academic achievement that are based on challenging State academic standards (Common Core) and the State’s academic assessments.
  • Proposed 200.14 states assessments provide information about whether all students are on track to graduate “college-and-career-ready” (Common Core).
  • Proposed 200.15 will require States who miss the 95% participation requirement to: a) be assigned a lower rating (200.18); b) be assigned the lowest performance level under State Academic Achievement (200.14); c) be identified for target support and improvement (200.19); and d) have another equally rigorous State-determined action, as described in its State plan, which the Secretary has to approve.
  • States who miss the 95% would be required to develop and implement improvement plans that address the law participation rate and include interventions.
  • Proposed 200.15 will require States to explain in its report card how it will factor the 95% participation rate requirement into its accountability system. (This is not flexibility; this is the government telling States what to do.)
  • Proposed regulations will ensure that States who fail to meet the 95% rate have rigorous actions taken (lower rating, identified for targeted support/improvement), providing incentive for schools to ensure all students take the annual State assessments.
  • Proposed 200.18 requires each school to receive a single “summative” grade or rating, derived from combining at least 3 of the 4 indicators used to measure its performance. Further, the regulation “forbids” states from boosting school’s rating if it has made substantial improvement in the 4th non-academic category.
  • Proposed 200.15 requires states to intervene and/or fail schools who do not meet the 95% participation rate on the state test.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend letting states determine their own rating system and choose other indicators of school performance.

**Recommendation: We recommend taking emphasis off Common Core aligned assessments and giving teachers the freedom to teach.

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations as it violates the provision of the ESSA to recognize state and local law that allow parents to opt-out their child from participating in the state academic assessments.

STATE PLAN REQUIREMENTS

 

  • Proposed 299.13 will establish procedures and timelines for State plan submission and revision and the Secretary is authorized to approve revisions.
  • Proposed 299.14 to 299.19 will establish requirements for the content of consolidated State plans.
  • Proposed 299.16 will require States to demonstrate that their academic standards and assessments meet federal requirements.
  • Proposed 299.19 will require states to describe how they are using federal funds to provide all students equitable access to high-quality education and would include program-specific requirements necessary to ensure access.
  • Proposed 299.13 outlines requirements for an SEA to submit in order to receive a grant. The state must submit to the Secretary assurances in their plan including “modifying or eliminating State fiscal and accounting barriers so that schools can easily consolidate funds from other Federal, State, and local sources to improve educational opportunities and reduce unnecessary fiscal and accounting requirements”.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend removing these regulations and allowing States to establish State plan procedures and timelines.

IDENTIFICATION FOR TARGETED SUPPORT AND IMPROVEMENT

 

  • Proposed 200.15 will require subgroups (homeless, military, foster, etc.) to adhere to the 95% participation rate along with their peers.
  • Proposed 200.19 will provide parameters for how States must define “consistently underperforming.”
  • Proposed 200.24 grants States additional funds for low performing LEAs but instructs how States must use these funds.
  • Proposed 299.17 will include State plan requirements related to statewide school support and improvement activities.
  • Proposed 200.24 says if schools do not show improvement by a set time, SEAs may take additional improvement actions including: a) replacing school leadership; b) converting to a charter school; c) changing school governance; d) implementing new instructional model; or c) closing the school. This is called, “whole school reform.”
  • Proposed 200.19 and 200.23 also talk about the use of whole school reform.

 

**Recommendation: We recommend giving States the power to define schools which “consistently underperform” and allowing States to decide appropriate improvement activities.

We, the undersigned, agree to these points and respectively ask Congress to reconsider the regulations as written. Our suggestion is the regulations are retracted and either rewritten so they closer align with the law or they are completely discarded and States are left to interpret the law as they see fit.

 

Lastly, USPIE leadership is more than willing to meet and discuss these points, our recommendations, and solutions with any Congressional member at a time and place convenient to them. Like you, we would like to see education brought to a level where all children, teachers, schools, and communities succeed.

 

With utmost respect and regards,

 

Sheri Few, President

United States Parents Involved in Education

 

Tracie Happel, President

South Carolina Parents Involved in Education

 

Lynne Taylor, President

North Carolina Parents Involved in Education

 

Ida Frueh, President

North Dakota Parents Involved in Education

 

 

 

Dr. Stotsky Exposes MA Supreme Court’s Stopping of Voters From Opportunity to Repeal Common Core   1 comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, published with permission from the author;

article was originally published July 8, 2016 at New Boston Post.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

       Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stopped voters from weighing in on a citizen-backed initiative to repeal Common Core.

In her opinion, Chief Justice Margot Botsford blocked on a technicality the petition to let voters decide whether to keep Common Core or revert to the state’s own educational standards. Her reasoning? The measure, she wrote, was unconstitutional because the portion of the ballot question that required the state to release used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests.

Got that? Justice Botsford thinks that release of used test items is unrelated to the transparency of state tests and standards as a matter of coherent public policy.

It was an oddly-reasoned decision since any classroom teacher in Massachusetts could have told her that the annual release of all used MCAS test items in the Bay State, from 1998 to 2007, was clearly related to the transparency of the state tests and very useful to classroom teachers. Among other things, the information allowed teachers to find out exactly what students in their classes did or did not do well and to improve their teaching skills for the next year’s cohort of students.

Botsford could have asked test experts as well. Any test expert would also have told her that the transparency of an assessment begins with an examination of the test items on it, followed up first by the names and positions of the experts who vetted the items on all tests at each grade level, and then by information on how the pass/fail scores for each performance level were determined, and the names and positions of those who determined them.

Botsford could also have found out from the testimony of those involved with the state’s tests from 1998 to 2007 that the cost of replacing released test items is negligible. It is not clear if her unsupported belief that there is a high cost for replacing released test items was what led her to conclude that the petition addressed matters that were unrelated to each other. As Botsford indicated in her ruling, “the goal of the petition…

… comes with a significant price tag: as the Attorney General agreed in oral argument before this court, implementing section 4 will require the development and creation of a completely new comprehensive diagnostic test every year, which means a substantial increase in annual expense for the board — an expense to be borne by taxpayers and to be weighed by voters in determining whether increased transparency is worth the cost.

In 2015, Attorney General Maura Healey certified the petition for placement on the November 2016 election ballot. But the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) was not content to let the democratic process play out, so they brought a lawsuit — seemingly paid for by grants to the MBAE from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — to stop the matter from ever reaching the voters.

Both Botsford’s decision that the petition was unconstitutional and the unanimous agreement by the other justices as part of a “full court” session are puzzling, given the thorough review the petition had received from the Attorney General’s office. Here is how one of the pro bono lawyers who wrote the petition for the organization collecting signatures to place it on the November 2016 ballot described the vetting process to me (in a personal e-mail):

The process for an initiative petition has a series of check points. The initial draft is reviewed by the staff in the Government Bureau in the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). They look at the proposal to identify whether the proposal meets the threshold of the Constitutional requirements. The Government Bureau is made up of the best attorneys in state government. This review raised no flags.

After the collection of the signatures and submission to the AGO, the language is published and offered for public comment. It was at this point (in 2015) that the MBAE weighed in and opposed the petition (in a Memorandum of Opposition), using arguments that were dismissed by the AGO but that were later used in 2016 with the Supreme Judicial Court (as part of the MBAE’s lawsuit). In 2015, the review includes the staff attorney who oversees the petitions, the chief of the Government Bureau, the chief of the Executive Office (the policy-making administrative part of the AGO) and the Attorney General herself. This is a strictly legal discussion on the merits. … In my opinion, she decided it on the legal issues alone. And she and her staff decided that the petition passed the Constitutional requirements.

Now there can be legitimate differences on legal issues. But we structured the petition with the advice of a former U.S. attorney and his staff at his law firm. We passed several reviews at the Attorney General’s Office, including a contested review. The AGO’s brief on behalf of the petition was strong.

We had a petition that was complete, parrying threats that would have undermined the repeal of Common Core. The Attorney General understood that and supported our desire to bring it before the public.

To date, the parent organization that collected about 100,000 signatures for the petition has received no explanation from the lawyers who wrote the petition for them about why there was a unanimous decision by the Supreme Judicial Court that the petition was unconstitutional (on the grounds that there was a lack of connection among its sections, even though all the sections were in the original statute passed by the state legislature in 1993—a statute that was never criticized as incoherent). Nor has there been any word from the Attorney General’s office.

By preventing the voters from having their say, the Massachusetts court did a disservice not only to our public schools – which were better off under Massachusetts’ own rigorous academic standards — but even more to the institution of democracy itself.

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. Read her past columns here.

Can Parents Combat the Media’s Tolerance of Institutional Manipulation?   Leave a comment

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

This week, the New Boston Post published this article by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, which is republished here with the author’s permission.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Dr. Sandra Stotsky

The efforts by the Gates Foundation to manipulate our major institutions lie at a very deep level in order to remain difficult to detect. Its efforts have been made much easier because our media don’t seem to care if the manipulation is done by a “generous philanthropist,” someone with an extraordinary amount of money and ostensibly the best of intentions for other people’s children. At least, this is how they seem to rationalize their tolerance of political manipulation by moneyed and self-described do-gooders—and their unwillingness to dig into the details.

As one example, we can surmise that Gates gave the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) the funds it would need to pay a very pricey Boston law firm (Foley Hoag) for its 2015 Memorandum of Opposition to the citizen petition asking for a ballot question on Common Core and for the MBAE’s 2016 lawsuit against the Attorney General. We can assume the connection because Gates gave the MBAE large funds in recent years under the guise of “operating” costs. Until Judge Margot Botsford sings, we will not know her reason for using the flawed argument that had been worked out by Foley Hoag for the MBAE 2015 Memorandum of Opposition and that had already been rejected by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) when it declared the citizen petition constitutional in September 2015. The flawed argument, to remind readers, was that the release of used test items is NOT related to the transparency of a test—an illogical statement that most Bay State teachers would recognize as reflecting more the thinking of the Red Queen or Duchess in Wonderland than that of a rational judge. Moreover, the flawed argument was supported unanimously by Judge Botsford’s colleagues on the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Not a murmur of dissent is on record.

Why Foley Hoag repeated the flawed argument it first offered in the 2015 MBAE Memo of Opposition in the 2016 MBAE lawsuit is something only the well-paid lawyers at Foley Hoag can explain. Why Judge Botsford and her colleagues on the SJC so readily used an already rejected and poorly reasoned argument for a “full court” opinion in July 2016 is what only she (and they) can explain. The end result of this fiasco is a corrupted judiciary and legal process. But how many reporters have spent time looking into this matter?

The Boston Globe published a long article the very day Judge Botsford’s decision was released (an amazing feat in itself) that revealed no inquiry by the reporter, Eric Moskowitz, into some of the interesting details of the ultimately successful effort by the MBAE and Gates to prevent voters from having an opportunity to vote on Common Core’s standards. Recall that these were the standards that had been hastily adopted by the state board of education in July 2010 to prevent deliberation on them by parents, state legislators, teachers, local school committee members, and higher education teaching faculty in the Bay State in mathematics and English.

As another example, we know from 1099 filings that the Gates Foundation gave over $7 million in 2014 to Teach Plus, a Boston-area teacher training organization, to testify for tests based on Common Core standards at Governor Baker-requested public hearings in 2015. These hearings were led by the chair of the state board of education and attended by the governor’s secretary of education. Teach Plus members earned their Gates money testifying at these hearings. (See the spreadsheet for the amounts) For links to all the testimony at these hearings, see Appendix B here. Has any reporter remarked on what many see as an unethical practice?

As yet another example, it is widely rumored that the Gates Foundation also paid for the writing of the 1000-page rewrite of No Child Left Behind known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is public knowledge that Senators Lamar Alexander (TN-R) and Patty Murray ((WA-D) co-sponsored the bill, but the two senators have been remarkably quiet about ESSA’s authorship. No reporter has commented on the matter, or reported asking the senators who wrote the bill and who paid for the bill.

In addition, the accountability regulations for ESSA now available for public comment were not written by the USED-selected committees (who failed to come to consensus on any major issue), but by bureaucrats in the USED. Who gave the USED permission to write the accountability regulations it wanted, and who wrote them? No reporter has expressed any interest in finding out who these faceless bureaucrats are. Why?

 

Sandra Stotsky, former Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education, is Professor of Education emerita at the University of Arkansas. 

Video: Lisa Cummins’ Speech at Rally – Elevating Education: Common No More   Leave a comment

Lisa Cummins (see her campaign site here) is running for District 11 (Herriman area) for Utah’s State School Board.  Her speech below was given at the June 11, 2016 rally at the State Capitol, where citizens gathered to focus on “Elevating Education:  Common No More”.

 

Video: Alisa Ellis for State School Board – Speech at State Capitol Rally   Leave a comment

Alisa Ellis spoke at the “Elevating Education:  Common No More” rally on Saturday at the State Capitol.  She’s running against Dixie Allen and Jim Moss in the huge Heber-Duschesne-Lindon area known as Utah’s District 12.

Her speech was introduced by radio host Rod Arquette, who said:

“Alisa is one of the moms who gained national attention in their fight against Common Core… I look out and I see Christel and I see Renee and up on the stage, I see Alisa.  One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; I absolutely love that movie… it’s a movie about two scoundrels running across the Western U.S., being chased by a group of guys who don’t like them robbing trains and banks.  Paul Newman, who plays Butch Cassidy in the movie, keeps on asking himself as he looks at those guys coming after him, ‘Who are those guys?’ Well, I think when they heard about the Utah moms against common core around the country, people were asking, ‘Who are those guys?’  Well, they gained national attention and they were one of the early pioneers in the fight against Common Core.”

Alisa’s full speech is posted below the video.  My favorite part of her oratory was this:

“As the Utah Constitution states, it is my primary responsibility to educate my children.  The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job.  We even have presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who said that parents have “no role” in education! …When it came to discussing meaningful education policy with my superintendent, I was told that ‘we have no local control’. He even went so far as to tell Renee and I that our local school board no longer represented us.  He told me that he was tired, that he’d been fighting the fight for local control for a long time.  I told him that day that if he wasn’t willing to do it, that I would pick up the fight to restore local control in education.”

 

 

Elect Alisa Ellis to represent District 12 in the Utah State School Board!

Alisa’s got a four-year track record which her opponents cannot touch.

As the mother of seven children  –some of whom are home schooled and some of whom are public-schooled– Alisa effectively lobbied the legislature for the past four years, and has spoken across the state and outside the state, in cottage meetings and on radio shows, calling for increased parental control, student data privacy, real science standards, and for the hearing of the voices of teachers and localities in the fight against Big Ed (Fed Ed and Corporate Ed) –which is the fight against Common Core and nationalization of education.

Her opponents, including the incumbent, cannot hold a candle to her track record of effective, courageous action.

Her campaign site is here: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343457342383929

Full rally speech:

“Some may ask what qualifies me to run for state school board. I don’t have a fancy resume. I don’t lots of letters behind my name but I do have 7 children that no one but God knows and loves better than me. No one knows how to reach them quite like I do. No one knows their fears, insecurities, strengths and numerous other accolades quite like I do. It is my responsibility to see that they receive the best education possible. As the UT constitution states it is my primary responsibility to educate my children. The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job. We even have Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton saying parents have no place in education. This is wrong.

It’s time to put the lead of education back into the hands of parents as the founders originally intended and as our state’s constitution says.

I’m running for state school board because when it came to discussing meaningful education policy concerns with my Superintendent I was told WE HAVE NO local CONTROL. We have to do what the state tells us to do. He even went so far as to say the local school board did not represent me. He told me he was tired of the fight and that he’d been fighting a long time. I promised him that I would take up the fight for local control.

So what is local control? The local control I envision, involves much more than merely stating teachers have the freedom to choose textbooks. The local control I envision means that as a parent I have freedom to find a classroom in the public school that can teach the type of math, English, Science, History, Art etc. that I deem valuable not what a conglomerate of states finds valuable. I’m not trying to take away your right to have your children taught with ‘common standard’ but don’t take away my right either.

Imagine a system where parents can choose the type of education they value. Even with all the choices out there today there is still a centralization of control and power that is strangling the free market in education.
Imagine a system where teachers are given the freedom to truly teach.

There are too many regulations placed on the backs of teachers; too many mandates to meet; too many test to oversee and not enough time to teach. We need to allow teachers the courtesy we give other professionals and let them use their professional judgment to decide what methods work best in their classroom. In turn, we need to give parents the power to find the methods that best match their children’s needs. One size doesn’t fit all and one teaching method doesn’t teach all.

It is often stated that we have full control over our education. This is true. We do. But we aren’t exercising that right. We are continually, voluntarily following the carrot dangled before us either out of fear of falling behind, gaining or losing money or many other unknowns. Historically, this pattern has given us things like the unconstitutional Federal Department of Ed which in turn has given us a tongue twister of acronyms to manage: NCLB, ESEA, SLDS, SFSF, FERPA, AYP, ESSA, CCSS, RTT, RTTA, RTTD, GRIT, and countless other programs. I’ve spent the last 5 years in in depth study of these acronyms and the freedoms they take away from this district.
Recently, we had the opportunity to push back against ALL federal intrusion in to education but instead we codified into law President Obama’s blueprint of education reform in a grandiose bipartisan effort [ESSA] that will give the Department of Ed full Veto power over our state’s education plan and call for Family Engagement Plans. This is NOT local control.

We have come to a cross roads. It is no longer acceptable to go along to get along. We need leaders that are willing to stand up to the bullying that is coming from the federal Department of Ed. It seems that every candidate says they’re against Common Core but it has become an empty promise by most and I am here to tell you that it is not an empty promise with me. If elected I will do everything in my power to stop this trend toward nationalizing and corporatizing education.

Hugh B. Brown said,’One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong… We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom…and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.’

I pledge to push back on the micromanaging come down from the Feds and state to the local districts. I would love to see local districts have more autonomy. I would love to see teachers be able to teach without having to jump through hoops. I’m tired of bad policy being blamed on poor implementation.

It’s time to bring meaningful decision making power back as close to the family and the community as we can.  I’m Alisa Ellis and I ask for your support.
Thank You.”

 

Local School Board Members Rejecting Obama’s Transgender Agenda   42 comments

Update for locals:  tonight, Alpine School District will be having a meeting; that’s May 17 at 6 p.m., to discuss the transgender bathroom issue and how it will affect your child. If you have anything to say or if you just want to know what’s happening locally due to Obama’s crazy new policy to let boys into girl’s locker rooms, bathrooms and showers, you might want to show up:  

ASD District Office  575 N 100 E, American Fork, Utah 84003


Brian Halladay, Wendy Hart and Paula Hill, three members on the board of Utah’s largest school district, Alpine District, have written an open letter to the Utah legislature, governor, and state school board. It is posted here in full.

 

 

May 15, 2016

This letter is to urge you, as the Governor, Legislature, and State School Board to reject the guidance dictating actions regarding transgender students dated May 13, 2016.

The guidance in this letter states:

  1. “School staff and contractors will use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.”
  2.  “When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

a.  “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.”

b. “School must allow transgender students to access housing consistent with their gender identity and may not require transgender students to stay in single-occupancy accommodations or to disclose personal information when not required of other students.”

This guidance would allow a boy that identifies as a girl to be allowed to use facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms and showers with girls.  This is  not just a complete violation of privacy, but is morally reprehensible.  The consequences of this social experiment would be disastrous, not only as an invasion of the rights of a majority, but also with the potential legal liability this could incur upon school districts and the state, if we were to adopt this egregious guidance.

Article X of the US Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The federal government has no power to tell people what to do except in areas specifically authorized in the Constitution.

That means it has no right to invade our privacy, or to dictate that transgender students have access to facilities that would invade the privacy of other children.

The Department of Education has threatened that it may pull education funding from our State if we don’t comply.  This is likely a baseless threat meant to force states into compliance.  However, with only 8% of State funds coming from the federal government, this would be an ideal opportunity to declare Utah’s sovereignty, and to allow our children to be free from the tyrannical mandates of our federal government.

This level of federal overreach is as unprecedented  as it is unconstitutional.  As locally-elected board members, we will be voting for a budget next month that includes no federal funding at all.  While we realize we will have to tighten our belts and reallocate funds to accomodate those necesssary programs, the safety and privacy of the students we were elected to serve outweighs the 6% that our district receives in federal funds.  We would appreciate your support in this endeavor.

I urge you, as Utah’s representatives, to also push back against this guidance, protect the privacy of our children and move forward in making Utah the shining city on a hill.

 

Sincerely,

Brian Halladay, Alpine School District Board Member

Wendy Hart, Alpine School District Board Member

Paula Hill, Alpine School District Board Member

 

Brian Halladay (pictured) is running against Mark Clement for the precinct 4 seat on the Alpine school board. Courtesy photo

wendypaula

Obama, Keep Your 30 Pieces of Silver: No One Trumps My Child’s Bathroom Privacy   3 comments

In the moment when the home invader is at the door, yelling that he will break in and rearrange everyone and everything inside, do you panic and plead, hide, try to reason– or do you fight and defend your little ones?

I fight.

This week’s invasion of children’s bathrooms by would-be Dictator Obama is two things.

  1.  It is a precedent-setting blast to Constitutionally protected rights.  (He has no authority to do this.   We must call his bluff. )
  2. It is a foundational step to tragic sexual abuses and crimes which will take place in children’s and college students’ bathrooms because it’s founded on twisted logic: that  a minority’s desires (not rights, but desires) should trump both the rights and desires of the majority.  It’s absurd and dangerous.

Obama –and the whole world– must know that American people stand up and fight for our little ones.

We are not cowards.  We are not slaves to federal refunding of our tax dollars.  Obama’s planning to withhold funding unless we all cower to his rewrite of what gender and proper values should mean in public bathrooms.   Don’t swallow his incorrect definition.

For the record, here’s the best definition I have ever read.

Yesterday, Friday, May 13th, a letter was issued to all schools from the Departments of Justice and Education threatening to withhold federal funding from any school that fails to make accommodations for gender identity and transgenderism.

The letter calls compliance a “legal obligation” and states, “As a condition of receiving Federal funds . . a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity . . even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community member raise objections or concerns.”

The letter then goes into specifics about restrooms, locker rooms, athletics, housing, etc. mandating that, “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities . . ”

Here is Utah’s Governor Herbert’s response:

“Today’s action by President Obama is one of the most egregious examples of federal overreach I have ever witnessed. Schools are the domain of state and local government, not our nation’s president. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I have come to expect from the Obama administration. If we have to fight this order, we will not hesitate to do so.”

Knowing that this letter on Transgender Students went out to schools, transgender students could force the issue on Monday.  Schools need to know that they can and must say “NO.”

We need the Utah State School Board to communicate that message to all the schools in Utah.  Then, we need the state legislature to address the problem in special session this week.

THE SCHOOL BOARD NEEDS TO HEAR FROM US TODAY, BEFORE THEY SEND A CLARIFICATION LETTER TO SCHOOLS.

Please, please, act.

Below are Utah contacts who need to hear from courageous and moral voices.

THE GOVERNOR AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE NEEDS TO HEAR FROM US TODAY BECAUSE THE DEADLINE FOR MAKING IT AN ISSUE FOR THE SPECIAL SESSION IS MONDAY.

Please, please act.

CHECK LIST:

1) CONTACT State School Board members to ask them to reject the edicts in the letter and support Utah schools in adopting policies which protect our children from being forced to co-mingle in bathrooms and showers;
2) CONTACT Governor Herbert to ask him to make this issue a matter for the Special Legislative Session this Wednesday, May 18th;
3) CONTACT State Legislators to ask them to support adding this issue to the special sessionn and to pass legislation that will protect our children AND their schools.
4) SPREAD THE WORD.   The societal shift that the Obama administration is proposing would be viewed as abhorrent to all generations before us and to moral people worldwide.  Now we are supposed to make it the norm for children across America?  Everyone who loves children and wants to protect them will care about this issue.  Tell them, so they can help guard our children’s innocence and moral privacy.

Send this on to family, friends, groups. Please use email, texting, social media, etc.

IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? . . . YES!!!! Please drop everything and make time for this today.  There is no time for cowardice.

State Board of Education Contacts:

District 1 – Terryl Warner . . . 435.512.5241
District 2 – Spencer Stokes . . . 801.923.4908
District 3 – Linda Hansen . . . 801.966.5492
District 4 – David Thomas . . . 801-479-7479
District 5 – Laura Belnap . . . 801.699.7588
District 6 – Brittney Cummins . . . 801.969.5712
District 7 – Leslie Castle . . . 801.581.9752
District 8 – Jennifer Johnson . . . 801.742.1616
District 9 – Joel Wright . . . 801.426.2120
District 10 – David Crandall . . . 801.232.0795
District 11 – Jefferson Moss . . . 801.916.7386
District 12 – Dixie Allen . . . 435.789.0534
District 13 – Stan Lockhart . . . 801.368.2166
District 14 – Mark Huntsman . . . 435.979.4301
District 15 – Barbara Corry . . . 435.586.3050

Terryl.Warner6@gmail.com
utahboard2@gmail.com
linda.hansen@schools.utah.gov
dthomas@summitcounty.org
lbelnap@utahonline.org
b4cummins@gmail.com
lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com
jj@jenniferajohnson.com
joel.wright.uted@gmail.com
crandall@xmission.com
jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com
dixieleeallen@gmail.com
stanlockhartutah@gmail.com
mhuntsman@sunrise-eng.com
Barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov

REMEMBER TO BLIND COPY.

Governor Gary Herbert:  801.538.1000

Utah State Legislature:

Rep. Scott Sandall . . . 435-279-7551
Rep. David Lifferth . . . 801-358-9124
Rep. Jack Draxler . . . 435-752-1488
Rep. Edward Redd . . . 435-760-3177
Rep. Curt Webb . . . 435-753-0215
Rep. Jacob Anderegg . . . 801-901-3580
Rep. Justin Fawson . . . 801-781-0016
Rep. Gage Froerer . . . 801-391-4233
Rep. Jeremy Peterson . . . 801-390-1480
Rep. Dixon Pitcher . . . 801-710-9150
Rep. Brad Dee . . . 801-479-5495
Rep. Mike Schultz . . . 801-859-7713
Rep. Paul Ray . . . 801-725-2719
Rep. Curt Oda . . . 801-725-0277
Rep. Brad Wilson . . . 801-425-1028
Rep. Stephen Handy . . . 801-979-8711
Rep. Stewart Barlow . . . 801-289-6699
Rep. Timothy Hawkes . . . 801-294-4494
Rep. Raymond Ward . . . 801-440-8765
Rep. Becky Edwards . . . 801-554-1968
Rep. Douglas Sagers . . . 435-830-3485
Rep. Susan Duckworth . . . 801-250-0728
Rep. Sandra Hollins . . . 801-363-4257
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck . . . 801-891-9292
Rep. Joel Briscoe . . . 801-946-9791
Rep. Angela Romero . . . 801-722-4972
Rep. Michael Kennedy . . . 801-358-2362
Rep. Brian King . . . 801-560-0769
Rep. Lee Perry . . . 435-225-0430
Rep. Fred Cox . . . 801-966-2636
Rep. Sophia DiCaro . . .
Rep. LaVar Christensen . . . 801-808-5105
Rep. Craig Hall . . . 801-573-1774
Rep. Johnny Anderson . . . 801-898-1168
Rep. Mark Wheatley . . . 801-556-4862
Rep. Patrice Arent . . . 801-889-7849
Rep. Carol Moss . . . 801-647-8764
Rep. Eric Hutchings . . . 801-963-2639
Rep. Jim Dunnigan . . . 801-840-1800
Rep. Lynn Hemingway . . . 801-231-2153
Rep. Daniel McCay . . . 801-810-4110
Rep. Kim Coleman . . . 801-865-8970
Rep. Earl Tanner . . . 801-792-2156
Rep. Bruce Cutler . . . 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason . . . 801-673-4748
Rep. Marie Poulson . . . 801-942-5390
Rep. Ken Ivory . . . 801-694-8380
Rep. Keven Statton . . . 801-836-6010
Rep. Robert Spendlove . . . 801-560-5394
Rep. Rich Cunningham . . . 801-722-4942
Rep. Greg Hughes . . . 801-432-0362
Rep. John Knotwell . . . 801-449-1834
Rep. Mel Brown . . . 435-647-6512
Rep. Kraig Powell . . . 435-65-0501
Rep. Scott Chew . . . 435-630-0221
Rep. Kay Christofferson . . . 801-592-5709
Rep. Brian Greene . . . 801-358-1338
Rep. Derrin Owens . . . 435-851-1284
Rep. Val Peterson . . . 801-224-4473
Rep. Brad Daw . . . 801-850-3608
Rep. Keith Grover . . . 801-319-0170
Rep. Jon Stanard . . . 435-414-4631
Rep. Dean Sanpei . . . 801-979-5711
Rep. Norman Thurston . . . 385-399-9658
Rep. Francis Gibson . . . 801-491-3763
Rep. Mike McKell . . . 801-210-1495
Rep. Marc Roberts . . . 801-210-0155
Rep. Merrill Nelson . . . 801-971-2172
Rep. Brad King . . . 435-637-7955
Rep. Kay McIff . . . 801-608-4331
Rep. Brad Last . . . 435-635-7334
Rep. John Westwood . . . 435-590-1467
Rep. Mike Noel . . . 435-616-5603
Rep. Lowry Snow . . . 435-703-3688
Rep. Don Ipson . . . 435-817-5281
Sen. Luz Escamilla . . . 801-550-6434
Sen. Jim Dabakis . . . 801-815-3533
Sen. Gene Davis . . . 801-647-8924
Sen. Jani Iwamoto . . . 801-580-8414
Sen. Karen Mayne . . . 801-232-6648
Sen. Wayne Harper . . . 801-566-5466
Sen. Deidre Henderson . . . 801-787-6197
Sen. Brian Shiozawa . . . 801-889-7450
Sen. Wayne Niederhauser . . . 801-742-1606
Sen. Lincoln Fillmore . . . 385-831-8902
Sen. Howard Stephenson . . . 801-815-6800
Sen. Daniel Thatcher . . . 801-759-4746
Sen. Mark Madsen . . . 801-360-9389
Sen. Al Jackson . . . 801-216-4479
Sen. Margaret Dayton . . . 801-221-0623
Sen. Curt Bramble . . . 801-361-5802
Sen. Peter Knudson . . . 435-730-2026
Sen. Ann Millner . . . 801-900-3897
Sen. Allen Christensen . . . 801-782-5600
Sen. Scott Jenkins . . . 801-731-5120
Sen. Jerry Stevenson . . . 801-678-3147
Sen. Stuart Adams . . . 801-593-1776
Sen. Todd Weiler . . . 801-599-9823
Sen. Ralph Okerlund . . . 435-979-7077
Sen. Lyle Hillyard . . . 435-753-0043
Sen. Kevin VanTassell . . . 435-790-0675
Sen. David Hinkins . . . 435-384-5550
Sen. Evan Vickers . . . 435-817-5565
Sen. Stephen Urquhart . . . 435-668-7759

ssandall@le.utah.gov
dlifferth@le.utah.gov
jdraxler@le.utah.gov
eredd@le.utah.gov
curtwebb@le.utah.gov
janderegg@le.utah.gov
justinfawson@le.utah.gov
gfroerer@le.utah.gov
jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
dpitcher@le.utah.gov
bdee@le.utah.gov
mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
pray@le.utah.gov
coda@le.utah.gov
bradwilson@le.utah.gov
stevehandy@le.utah.gov
sbarlow@le.utah.gov
thawkes@le.utah.gov
rayward@le.utah.gov
beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
dougsagers@le.utah.gov
sduckworth@le.utah.gov
shollins@le.utah.gov
rchouck@le.utah.gov
jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
angelaromero@le.utah.gov
mikekennedy@le.utah.gov
briansking@le.utah.gov
leeperry@le.utah.gov
fredcox@le.utah.gov
sdicaro@le.utah.gov
lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
chall@le.utah.gov
janderson34@le.utah.gov
markwheatley@le.utah.gov
parent@le.utah.gov
csmoss@le.utah.gov
ehutchings@le.utah.gov
jdunnigan@le.utah.gov
lhemingway@le.utah.gov
dmccay@le.utah.gov
kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
earltanner@le.utah.gov
brucecutler@le.utah.gov
seliason@le.utah.gov
mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
kivory@le.utah.gov
kstratton@le.utah.gov
rspendlove@le.utah.gov
rcunningham@le.utah.gov
greghughes@le.utah.gov
jknotwell@le.utah.gov
melbrown@le.utah.gov
kraigpowell@le.utah.gov
scottchew@le.utah.gov
kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
bgreene@le.utah.gov
derrinowens@le.utah.gov
vpeterson@le.utah.gov
bdaw@le.utah.gov
keithgrover@le.utah.gov
jstanard@le.utah.gov
dsanpei@le.utah.gov
normthurston@le.utah.gov
fgibson@le.utah.gov
mmckell@le.utah.gov
mroberts@le.utah.gov
mnelson@le.utah.gov
bradking@le.utah.gov
kaymciff@le.utah.gov
blast@le.utah.gov
jwestwood@le.utah.gov
mnoel@kanab.net
vlsnow@le.utah.gov
dipson@le.utah.gov
lescamilla@le.utah.gov
jdabakis@le.utah.gov
gdavis@le.utah.gov
jiwamoto@le.utah.gov
kmayne@le.utah.gov
wharper@le.utah.gov
dhenderson@le.utah.gov
bshiozawa@le.utah.gov
wniederhauser@le.utah.gov
lfillmore@le.utah.gov
hstephenson@le.utah.gov
dthatcher@le.utah.gov
mmadsen@le.utah.gov
abjackson@le.utah.gov
mdayton@le.utah.gov
curt@cbramble.com
pknudson@le.utah.gov
amillner@le.utah.gov
achristensen@le.utah.gov
sjenkins@le.utah.gov
jwstevenson@le.utah.gov
jsadams@le.utah.gov
tweiler@le.utah.gov
rokerlund@le.utah.gov
lhillyard@le.utah.gov
kvantassell@le.utah.gov
dhinkins@le.utah.gov
evickers@le.utah.gov
surquhart@le.utah.gov

 

What to say:

Utah is leading the way in the fight against pornography. We have declared it a public health hazard. Making girls shower with boys and vice versa is insanely counter-productive to that. Virtue and innocence must be protected at all costs.

No one should be forced to be part of something that violates time-tested  standards and values.
The Obama administration has no authority to blackmail school districts or mandate this type of policy.
Protecting our children is more important than federal funds, especially when they come with all kinds of strings attached.
This policy will cause an exodus from public schools to private schools and homeschool.
Withholding federal funds will hurt poor students since most of that money goes to programs for under-privileged children.

 

Dan-Patrick (1)

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick described the situation:

“. . it is the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public school. [Obama] has set a policy in place that will divide the country . . he says he’s going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy . . he can keep his 30 pieces of silver, we will not yield to blackmail.”

 

Amen.

 

Miracles Do Happen: Governor and Chair of Common Core Organization (NGA) Rejects Common Core   7 comments

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-Utah

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!

 

happy dance dog

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.

freedom of speech

 

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.

 

 

#STOPSETRA – Congress! Protect the Psychological Privacy of Children   1 comment

cry

 

Here’s a must-read, new article at Townhall.com (here) by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Why Does Your Congressman Want to Psychologically Profile Your Children?”

The article begins:

“If the GOP-led Congress had not done enough damage to public education by passing the statist Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it’s poised to make things even worse. The new threat is theStrengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). If SETRA passes in its current form, the federal government will be empowered to expand psychological profiling of our children. Parents must understand this threat so they can mobilize to stop it.”

It also states:  “Section 132 of SETRA expands authorized research to include ‘research on social and emotional learning [SEL] . . . .’

“SEL is defined as ‘the process through which children . . . acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.’  SEL is all the rage in public education…”

“…SETRA would authorize the federal government to sponsor research on these social and emotional attributes. This means the government may analyze a child’s psychological makeup…”

stealth eye two

Another important point:

“…even if there were real, measurable educational value in analyzing every child’s psyche, do members of Congress really believe government has any business doing this?… SETRA also allows the approved bureaucracy to ‘establish . . . cooperative education statistics systems for the purpose of producing and maintaining . . . data on early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, adult education…‘”

The article concludes:  “SETRA passed the Senate on a voice vote and now awaits action in the House. House members, take note: A vote for SETRA in its current form is a vote for psychological profiling of innocent children. It’s bad enough that so-called conservatives in Congress voted for ESSA; it will be unforgivable if they vote for SETRA.”

Read the entire article at Townhall.com.

Call US Congress at 202-224-3121 to influence your elected representatives.

crying stopesea

 

Updated: Protect Children’s Privacy: UT Legislature MUST Support HB0358   4 comments

Update 3/10/16:  Utah’s legislative session has passed, but HB 358, the student privacy bill, has not been funded.  And so we are stuck, at least for another year, without proper protections for our children.  (If you don’t know why that’s bad, begin by reading a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, by Jane Robbins, on why Georgia is considering a student privacy bill):

Robbins explains,  “…parents have heard glowing claims that ‘digital’ or ‘personalized’ learning will transform education, but they may not understand exactly what this means…[I]nteractive programs, marketed by private ventors, frequently use sophisticated software that collects massive amounts of highly personal information about the student’s behaviors, mindsets and attitudes”. She mentions the fact that the U.S. Department of Education is gung-ho on slurping up that personal, psychological information about beliefs and attitudes, as evidenced in its own published draft  reports.  (Must-reads!)  Robbins makes the real point when she writes,  “The issue here goes far beyond data security.  It is whether the government and private companies have any right to collect this highly sensitive data in the first place.”

Not passing/funding the Utah HB 358 privacy bill, while passing and funding HB 277, the digital education bill, was crazy.  It was the worst mistake of this entire legislative year.

Does the legislature not know that data is the new gold rush, and that education vendors are behaving as if this is the old wild west, without solid laws to govern student data sharing and partnering and selling?  Does the legislature not know that to the federal government, also, data is the new gold rush as well, and that our own Congressman Jason Chaffetz held recent hearings against the Department of Education for its data insecure practices– and gave the Dept. an “F”?

Think of it this way:  legislators just barely bought the children and teachers of Utah the trendiest, shiniest $15 million vehicle (HB 277) while saying, “We are unable –or unwilling — to pay for seat belts and air bags” –though the safety features would have cost a tiny, tiny fraction (one-sixteenth) of what the vehicle cost.

Where are their brains?

That digital vehicle, HB277 is worthless, at least to this mom, without the seat belts for the kids.  I, for one, will not allow my own children to get into that wild, glittering ride.

 

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Original post:

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HB 358 is here.  It is no small miracle.

If it does not pass (and get funded) tomorrow, the Utah legislature is silently informing us that privacy protections for children’s data do not really matter, and that citizens should not have rights to personal ownership over their personal data.

Even though HB 358 is scheduled for a hearing today at the Capitol:  Tuesday, March 8th, at 5:00 p.m., the bill is in trouble because the executive appropriations committee did not fund it.  That’s almost the same thing as killing the bill.   (The appropriations committee needs to hear from MANY of us, as fast as possible.  See below for contact information.)

I have been head-bangingly furious about the lack of proper privacy protections for my children since 2012, when I found out that there was such a thing as a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)– here and in every other state–and when I then asked to opt out of SLDS tracking, I just received the State School Board’s official “no” letter.

In America, land of the free!  In Utah, land of family-friendly liberty.  Here, I was told that I was not allowed to opt my child out of  SLDS, so that being tagged, tracked, and longitudinally stalked, from day one in school until my child was a working adult and beyond, was a mandate.

I also found out that:

1-  Although it starts with the word “State,” the SLDS is federally paid-for and is aligned to federal data standards and is federally interoperable;

2.  Those who house Utah’s SLDS have zero legislative oversight.  Incredibly, when SLDS began in 2009, there was zero vote-taking; SLDS came because of a grant application filled out by a clerk at the state office of education simply asking for a federal SLDS grant, and then it was implemented without voter approval.  Yet SLDS is 100% applied to all school children, non-consensually.

4.  FERPA (federal privacy law) was altered in 2009 by the Department of Education to become almost meaningless.  Despite a huge law suit, FERPA stayed in its altered, privacy-harming state.   So:  in-state or beyond, proper privacy protections do not exist.  (For more on that, see the recent hearings of Rep. Jason Chaffetz against the U.S. Dept. of Education)

5.  SLDS interfaces with many other state agencies in the Utah Data Alliance, so there is no guarantee that a student’s private data, collected by a school, won’t end up in the data silo of another agency totally unrelated to education.  SLDS has the ability, if state policy allows, to also interface with federal agencies’ data, other states’ and even other nations’ data collections.

 

This situation has literally kept me up at night, many nights, including tonight.

Along with countless other moms and dads, lawyers, think tanks, and legislators, I’ve done a lot of research and writing and speaking and pleading on this subject.  See some of what I learned and shared in the past four years, here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here.

I tell you all this in case you are new to this issue so that you’ll understand how INCREDIBLY important passing  HB 358 is.

House Bill 358 ought to be treated as one of the very most, if not the most, important bill at the Capitol this year.  But the legislature is saying that there isn’t enough money to pass the privacy bill, which has an implementation price tag of $800,000.  Oddly, the legislature has agreed to fund the FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR technology grant program, HB 277, but that technology bill is meaningless without privacy protections for students’ data.

Is the “no funding for HB 358” decision truly a budgeting pinch decision, or is it a matter of the legislators not caring enough about the rights of students to have privacy?

Here are a few of the lines in the bill that I really appreciate:

Line 463 says:   “A student owns the student’s personally identifiable student data”.

Lines 494-503 say that schools have to give disclosure statements to parents, promising not to share certain types of data with out a data authorization.

Lines 775-792 prohibit psychiatric or psychological tests or analysis without prior written consent of parents, and specifically protect data collection about sexual orientation and behavior, mental problems, religious beliefs, self-incriminating behavior, appraisals of individuals with whom the student has a close family relationship; income, etc, and that written consent is required in all grades, kindergarten through 12th.

The bill designates three different types of data that schools may collect:  necessary, optional, and prohibited.

Even though the “necessary” list seems too long, at least it limits data collection.  It will collect data “required by state statute or federal law to conduct the regular activities of an education entity” such as name, date of birth, sex, parent contact information, student i.d., test results or exceptions from taking tests, transcript information, immunization record or exception from an immunization record, drop out data, race, etc.

Line 346-351    The “optional” list includes IEP information, biometric information, and information that is required for a student to participate in federal data gathering programs.

Lines 356 – 376  The bill also defines “personally identifiable student data” as data that cannot be legally disaggregated (identified by a particular student)  (See lines 224-227 for disaggregation language):

356          (i) a student’s first and last name;
357          (ii) the name of a student’s family member;
358          (iii) a student’s or a student’s family’s home or physical address;
359          (iv) a student’s email address or online contact information;
360          (v) a student’s telephone number;
361          (vi) a student’s social security number;
362          (vii) a student’s biometric identifier;
363          (viii) a student’s health or disability data;
364          (ix) a student’s education entity student identification number;
365          (x) a student’s social media login or alias;
366          (xi) a student’s persistent identifier, if the identifier is associated with personally


367     identifiable student data, including:
368          (A) a customer number held in a cookie; or
369          (B) a processor serial number;
370          (xii) a combination of a student’s last name or photograph with other information that
371     together permits a person to contact the student online;
372          (xiii) information about a student or a student’s family that a person collects online and
373     combines with other personally identifiable student data to identify the student; and
374          (xiv) other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific
375     student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have
376     first-hand knowledge of the student, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.

We need to protect our kids!  This bill NEEDS to pass!

If you’ve ever read 1984 and remember Big Brother; if good old-fashioned history books have taught you that tyranny has been far more dominant than liberty throughout world history (with the exception of a freedom experienced in the U.S. under the Constitution for a few 200+ years) –or if you’ve been paying attention to the recent struggle between big-data and individual rights–  then you know:  allowing any person or government –unfettered–  to track individuals without their consent, for virtually the duration of their entire lives, is a very bad idea.

We need as many emails and phone calls or texts as we can muster before 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8,  to the following representatives, and especially to Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and President Niederhauser:

Representative (Speaker) Hughes  greghughes@le.utah.gov

Senator (President) Niederhauser   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Senator Sanpei       dsanpei@le.utah.gov

Senator Hillyard  lhillyard@le.utah.gov

Senator Dunnigan  jdunnigan@le.utah.gov

Senator Adams  jsadams@le.utah.gov

Representative Gibson  fgibson@le.utah.gov

Senator Okerlund  rokerlund@le.utah.gov

Here they are, ready to cut and paste into your email:     dsanpei@le.utah.gov lhillyard@le.utah.gov jdunnigan@le.utah.gov jsadams@le.utah.gov  fgibson@le.utah.gov  rokerlund@le.utah.gov  greghughes@le.utah.gov   wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

 

Thank you.

 

http://le.utah.gov/~2016/bills/static/HB0358.html

 

Video: Michelle Malkin Roasts Common Core-Based GOP at CPAC Speech   5 comments

Watch this!

At minute 2:30, Malkin starts in on Common Core.

“It’s not people outside the party that have thrown the conservative, grassroots base under the bus.  It’s the people who have paid lip service to limited government while gorging on it.  It wasn’t any outside candidate that is not a part of our movement… it was not outsiders, who are not familiar with our movement, who conspired with the establishment on Common Core.  That was Republicans– who threw us under the bus.  That was Republicans who are con men.  And it was the heart and soul of conservative, grassroots activists, mostly everyday, ordinary moms, who shamed the Republican Party elites into backing away.

“And now what are they doing?  The same thing that they always do when grassroots conservatives call them out:  they smear the people who fought against them and who call them out.  They sneer at them as hysterical.  They sneer at them as just “fringe movements” on the Internet.  And then they go and campaign on our side, knowing that they’ve stabbed us.  My job is not to tell people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

“We just had Governor John Kasich, a nice guy, by all means, who last night, during the debate, pretended that he was on the side of local control.  Ohio grassroots activists and moms know better.  This is a man who smeared home schoolers and teachers for their opposition to Common Core.  I am telling you the truth.  I am asking you to do your homework.  I am asking you to follow the money.  I know it isn’t what you want to hear.  But do you want to hear the same Republicans promise you, as they have been, since 1981, that they’re going to abolish the Federal Department of Education?  It’s an empty talking point. And those empty talking points need to be punctured like helium balloons.”

“There are three reasons why Jeb Bush failed:  his last name, his support for Amnesty, and his cheerleading and cashing in on Common Core.”

 

 

Thank you for speaking the truth, Michelle Malkin.

 

THANK YOU, UTAH REPS, FOR STOPPING HB 164, FORCED-TESTING BILL   2 comments

Update:  The bill has been resurrected.  HB164 will have another vote Monday. Please email and call/text legislators, asking them to vote “No” again.  If this passes, Utah has set a precedent that says that parents do not know best, that they are not the resident experts of their own children; that the government’s SAGE/AIR tests are to be forced on children throughout the year in formative, interim and other tests; that data collected via these tests will be owned by the state, not by the individual; and that students who opt out and fail the class as a result, should blame themselves, and not the ridiculous, top-heavy system that has stymied freedom of education and freedom from unwelcome privacy invasion under the pretense that Common Core tests and standards are valid and helpful and harmless.
Emails:
Rep. Brad Last blast@le.utah.gov
Rep. Lowry Snow vlsnow@utah.le.gov 435-703-3688435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov 801-808-5105801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman kimcoleman@le.utah.gov 801-865-8970801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler brucecutler@le.utah.gov 801-556-4600801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason seliason@le.utah.gov 801-673-4748801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson justinfawson@le.utah.gov 801-781-0016801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson fgibson@le.utah.gov
Rep. Eric Hutchings ehutchings@le.utah.gov
Rep. David Lifferth dlifferth@le.utah.gov 801-358-9124801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay dmccay@le.utah.gov 801-810-4110801-810-4110
Rep. Carol Moss – D csmoss@le.utah.gov 801-647-8764801-647-8764
Rep. Michael Noel mnoel@kanab.net 435-616-5603435-616-5603
Rep. Marie Poulson – D mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
—————————————
What I wrote earlier:
—————————————
Dear Representatives,
Thank you so much for not allowing HB164 to pass.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am, both as a parent and as a teacher.
It would have been immoral to prevent children from graduating if they didn’t take yearlong, secretive, standardized tests; even more so, when that test, SAGE/AIR, had never been validated (it had never been shown to accurately test what it claimed to test).
The vote against this bill also honored multiple  laws that hold parents as primary decision makers over the education of their children, with the state in a supporting role.
I honor you for this.  Thank you.
Christel Swasey
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It’s Not Just Sex Ed. #StopHB0246 – Common Core of Sex Values.   33 comments

brian king

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.

sad child i

 

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:

 [emphasizing
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;
160     or]
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.

sex standards

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.

3rd-5th graders

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.

 

6th-8th graders

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.

WHAT?

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.)

9th-12th graders

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.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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.

 

sad

 

(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.)

Inspiration From Houston’s #AboutTheChild Conference   Leave a comment

At the #AboutTheChild conference in Houston last week, B&L Network speakers said that even in the middle of a struggle we might seem to be losing, we have great power and great hope.

Although America is seeing dangerous shifts in who can and who cannot amend tests, in who controls (and does not protect) children’s data;  in who gets to redefine even babies’ “educations” as a collective-economy-purposed thing; while we see corporate and federal “central planners” ram initiatives without a vote to assume “stakeholder” rights over our little ones– even in this awful situation, we can defend children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy education; that is, time-tested, soul-enlarging, non-Common Core education.

I cannot do the conference justice briefly, yet I want to try. A few moments that stood out came from these speeches:

Troy

 

1          Troy Towns, an Alabama minister and political activist, spoke about the numbers of people who should be actively involved in the fight against Common Core and other false reforms.  He retold the story of Gideon in the Old Testament.  Not only did it not bother the Lord that Gideon was vastly outnumbered; the Lord told Gideon to reduce his numbers, by sending away all warriors who were fearful.  Then the Lord instructed Gideon further, to send away all those who were not alert to the enemy while drinking at the stream.  Reduced to 300 people, surrounded by countless armies, the Lord then led Gideon’s group to victory…  It’s not about numbers.  It’s not about who appears to be winning in the moment.  It is about who is on the side of true and honorable principles.

 

daisy

 

2.         Daisy Whisenant, Texas advisor in the Christian Educators Association International, a Christian teacher’s union,  implored listeners to let teachers and students know the truth about “separation between Church and State”.  That idea is designed to prevent governments from promoting one religion above another, while upholding all religions’ freedom of speech.  It is not designed to shut down religious discussions.  A teacher is a government employee, but a child is not.  Nongovernmental citizens (students of all ages) may speak and write freely about their religious beliefs.   For more information, visit CEAI.

hoyt

 

3.      Jason Hoyt, Florida radio personality and author, discussed what “Consent of the Governed” means.  The concept is also the title of his book.  (Click here to find the book Consent of the Governed. )  I read it on my trip home. It teaches the history of local, state, and federal grand juries, and outlines the disintegration of that constitutional authority, which serves –or should serve– as a fourth branch and a check on the other three branches.  The book shows that if “We the People” reclaim proper controls of our grand juries, we can reclaim vital, lost political power –more effectively than if we rely only on elections as the means to enforce fair government.

Angelique

4.      Angelique Clark, a Las Vegas high school student, spoke about the stand she took and the fight that ensued as she founded a pro-life group for teen activists.  When her application for a high school pro-life club was denied, Angelique fought for her First Amendment rights inside a school, with a lawsuit to the school district that finally allowed her to form the pro-life club.  She won.  Her story has been seen on Fox & Friends, On the Record with Greta, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, and elsewhere.

karen

5.      Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, author and researcher, a leader of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and of Education Liberty Watch, spoke about the amount of data being collected on every public school student in the nation without parental knowledge or consent; about the psychological and belief data-gathering goals outlined in the US Department of Education’s “Developing Grit, Tenacity and Persistance” Report; about the unfortunate, newly passed, Every Student Succeeds Act; and about the monster on the horizon, the “Strengthening Education Through Research Act“.  Her presentation should be seen by every member of the U.S. Congress.

peg

6.     Dr. Peg Luksik, a former reform evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, a lifelong teacher, speaker, and honoree by multiple U.S. Presidents, spoke about the idea of common standards.  She asked the audience if there was such a thing as good standards, and answered her question:  no.  There is no such thing as a good set of standards because every child is so different.  She has a child who is a math genius, who cannot do ballet.  She has a daughter who is a ballet genius, who cannot do math.  She asked:  where would the proper, common standard be for those two children?  The idea of top-down decision making for teachers and students is ridiculous.  She said that years ago, “Outcome Based Education” was pushed on the nation, and was defeated by a handful of level-headed patriots.  Common Core and its related initiatives are the same thing, repackaged.  Those who would be central planners of all children’s lives must be defeated again.

duke

7.      Dr. Duke Pesta, an energetic literature professor and administrator at Freedom Project Academy, spoke about the devious history of the Common Core Initiative, up to its promoters’ most recent coup against liberty, the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He emphasized the words of Arne Duncan about the Every Student Succeeds Act, and pointed out that even trusted Republican leadership betrayed liberty with ESSA. We must be smarter and faster in overturning the deceptions of this fight.  (FYI, Utahns: rumor has it that Dr. Pesta will be speaking in Utah this April.)

neil

8.      Neil Mammen, a minister and activist at NoBlindFaith.com (author of 40 Days to a More Godly Nation and Jesus Is Involved in Politics: Why Aren’t You?) echoed the message given by Troy Towns (about Gideon and the numbers-of-warriors issue, above) as he spoke about the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V.  In the scene, when Westmoreland laments not having ten thousand more men to help them fight, the king responds:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.   (Read the whole speech.)

joan

9.     Joan Landes,  a Utah therapist, crystallized the issue when she said that the problem with government initiatives like Common Core and its web of tests and controls is that it hurts human relationships.  Her presentation about reversing Saul Alinsky’s evil tactics, and her idea of asking every concerned citizen to spend five minutes or five dollars as often as they can, were truly remarkable.

I spoke, too.  The heart of my speech, “Reclaiming Parental Power” came from a realization I had a few nights before the conference, as I thought about the awful situation that is U.S. Education Reform today.  As I wondered how we can keep going in the face of losing, losing, and losing (Common Core is still here; Common Education Standards and Longitudinal Databases are still here; the ESSA federal law makes things so much less free; and SETRA may soon make them even worse) –I had a clear thought:  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRADE PLACES WITH A MOM IN CHINA– or a mom in any socialist/communist nation, for that matter?  You would have no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to publish, freedom to work to repeal bad laws.  You hardly have freedom to think, in China.  A lover of freedom living in China, loving her children, would give her arms or legs to have the opportunity to face the problems that we face.  Arms and legs.

The glass will always be half full– never half empty–  as long as there is a person left in America who remembers the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom is always worth the fight.

Children will always be the reason.

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This blog post is a partial, inadequate sampling that has not included many additional, wonderful  speakers at the conference.  Every speaker (see biographies and speaker list here) –was moving.

If you missed the conference and the livestream, you can still watch it as part of a package deal with B&L*  Network by purchasing a B&L year membership here.  I’m advertising it because:

The conference speakers were an inspiration, and their words need to be heard far and wide, as do the messages from United States Parents In Education (USPIE) which held a press conference as part of this conference, rolling out a campaign to #StopFedEd.   Also, importantly, consider this: the conference organizer was Alabama homemaker and radio show host Diana Crews, who, with her sweet husband, a professional trucker, went into debt to make this conference happen.  If nobody  watches, she stays in debt.  This was her sacrifice because she believes in making this issue About The Child.  It’s not about the “global economy” or the “school to workforce pipeline” or about “human capital”.  It is about the child.

To support B&L, click here.

* (If you want to know what B & L stands for– and I asked, and was so glad I did– it’s Bears and Lord; as in, Mama & Papa Bears and their Lord).

 

 

 

How To Stand Up: UT Citizens Have Means to Influence Ed Policy   3 comments

ACTION FOR TODAY

WEBSITE LAUNCHED

Joan Landes of Utah has launched ActionforToday.Wordpress.Com, a site where you can spend five minutes or five dollars to make a difference.  If you become aware of a pressing need that could use some grassroots awareness, post it in the comments section and the site administrator will read and  post it.

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2016 UACC BILL TRACKER

LAUNCHED

The Utah legislature meets for its yearly session now.  The session is only a few weeks long.  Bills will pass or not pass, right now.

On the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC) website, there is now a bill tracker built in.  UACC is asking you, your neighbor, your teacher friends, your grandparents– anyone who cares about saving local control and liberty and high quality, honorable education –to please help review and file education bill reports so we can see at a glance which bills are a problem. You will be helping legislators, who cannot possibly analyze the number of bills that they are asked to analyze in the time given.

Oak Norton, UACC email director, has sent out emails about it. If you’re not on the email list, go to the UACC site and sign the petition.  You will then receive all future e-mailings.
Sign up for a bill here: https://docs.google.com/…/1h_eB3A9Ghqfa6-sdEwjRGSkaLb…/edit…

Read it and then report on it here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/20…/file-bill-report/

See bill summaries here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2016…/bill-summaries/

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US PARENTS INVOLVED IN EDUCATION (USPIE)

LAUNCHED

In a series of press  conferences held this week in various states, US Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) launched its campaign to stop federal intrusion into local education, and launched a membership drive for parents to join, as well as a pledge for legislators to sign, if they stand for true local control of education, as well.

Please join with those across the nation who realize that it’s time to reassert authority over education, over privacy rights, over testing and curriculum; and over stewardship of children by their own families.

VIDEO: Jakell Sullivan on Building Something Better (ABE Conference)   Leave a comment

At this year’s Agency Based Education (ABE) conference, one speaker, Jakell Sullivan, presented the following remarkable research.  Please watch and share.

Oak Norton, founder of ABE, shared this insight in his introduction to Jakell’s video:

“In the Old Testament we read of a curious story where “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). David’s temptation caused him to look upon his people as human capital and as a result he brought a severe curse upon Israel. As a result, God took away a portion of David’s “capacity” to build or make war by offering him one of three curses. David chose the shortest curse, pestilence, which brought upon his kingdom a three day plague and killed 70,000 men.

Statewide longitudinal database systems and digital badging are the designated “numbering” systems used by the education system in America today. When Secretary Arne Duncan and others speak about human capital, they are literally engaging in an effort to control and direct the economic future of our nation. Instead of independent thinkers, we have “common” education standards nationwide, with national assessment, tracking, and a host of other programs to bring all children into a standardization to fit them to the economic desires of those in power.

In this presentation, JaKell Sullivan enlightens and exposes what is happening in the White House and departments of education across the nation and how they are dramatically overstepping their bounds. Please watch and share this presentation, and become a member of Agency Based Education today to help support our mission.”

(You might want to tweet it to @OrrinHatch or other D.C. senators who are about to vote about ESEA/ESSA.  Ask them to vote no because the bill hurts Jakell’s cause, the cause of freedom and putting family and individuals first as it entrenches standardization, gives the feds veto power over anything a state wants to do, enriches ed corporations rather than children, accepts as normal the ongoing, unconstitutional federal encroachment into education, and cements the power of student-data mining.)

Thanks, Jakell!

VIDEO: Why the American People Must #STOPESEA   17 comments

ESEA, a huge bill about data and federal roles in local education, is being rammed through in the dark.  The vote is in a week and there’s no access to the final bill yet.  Senator Lee is right.  This process is wrong.

Don’t let a handful of people decide for the entire elected Congress and the entire population of the US what education, testing, standards, and data privacy should be, without debate, and without reading the bill.  The political careers of those who are ramming through this anti-freedom legislation in the dark without debate are going to be over once America wakes up and figures out what they have done to us.

I sat down and wrote out what I wanted to say this blog-video.  It’s posted here, for those who don’t want to sit through twenty minutes of talking.  Sorry  that I had to read much of it rather than  making eye contact all of the time.  I just needed to get it said right.)

VIDEO CONTENT:

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

My name is Christel Swasey, and I am a teacher and a mother living in Pleasant Grove, Utah.   Today is November 24, 2015.  In less than one week a handful of secretive congressmen are expecting to pass a bill called ESEA, or the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, without our informed consent or the informed consent of our elected representatives.

The final bill has not even been released yet but the vote is in a week.  It won’t be read by turkey-gobbling Congressmen when it is released in a few days.  But they’ll be forced to vote on Tuesday, uninformed or misinformed because all they’ll read is a sheet of talking points put out by the bill’s lobbyists.  This will have a disasterous, long term effect on liberty in America.

I am asking you to help #STOPESEA by calling Congress at 202-224-3121. Tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA based on what’s slated to be in it, and maybe more importantly, based on the corrupt, un-American process of passing it without giving time to read and debate about it.

I’m a big fan of a phrase in the Declaration of Independence: THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED”.

The Declaration explains that to secure our God-given rights, we the people instituted government:  “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

So government has no just powers outside of consent by the governed, and so my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and yours, are not secure when government is operating outside the informed consent of the governed.  I am telling you that it is happening right now.

My own Senator, Mike Lee,  has been an inspiration this week as he’s spoken out about this corrupt process and explained how it’s operating.  He said that how the conference process is supposed to work is not how is has been conducted. Quote: “from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to, but beneath the surface, we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few members of Congress working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny. And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult if not impossible for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”  Senator Lee said, “Because process influences policy… the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work—policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.”  Then Senator Lee named a few of those bad policies, such as “the discredited common core approach” and the centrally planned, failed model of federal preschool which the bill will use $250 million to promote.  There are many more terrible policies that ESEA will cement.  I will list more later on in this video.

My own representative, Jason Chaffetz, has also been in the Congressional spotlight this week, shedding light on what the federal government, via the Dept. of Education, is doing to American privacy. I watched him in a video leading a congressional hearing on the improper practices of the Dept of Education in its student data collection and data mining programs.  The hearing revealed that the federal Dept of Education has somewhere between one and two hundred ways that it collects data about your child and mine, but the Department only admits to having three because it contracts out the rest of the systems.  As if that’s better.  The hearing revealed that the Dept of Education received negative scores across every category of data security, and Rep Chaffetz gave the Dept. an “F”—calling it “a monster, an absolute monster”.

This is the same federal Dept of Education that is pushing, through the current ESEA bill, additional methods of mining student data.

But the things that Sen. Lee and Rep. Chaffetz oppose are not the only things that the ESEA bill will foist on us.  I predict that the final version of the ESEA bill will contain many more grants to promote more “voluntary” data mining in addition to the compulsory data collection that’s already taking place;  more federal preschools, more psychological profiling of teachers, students and families inside and outside of public schools under the banner of the kindly nanny state’s data-driven decision making, more career tracking, more longitudinal citizen stalking via college student and graduate reporting, more assessments or more deeply embedded forms of stealth assessments, and a subtle undermining of parental authority, teacher creativity and student autonomy from the community-centric, workforce-focused, data-focused initiatives in this bill. (We’ll see this week, won’t we?)

A group of over two hundred grassroots organizations representing most of the states in the United States signed an open letter to Congress opposing this ESEA bill.  The letter outlines four things that are strong reasons to oppose ESEA.  I’m summarizing.  The first is–

  1. COMMON CORE – the letter calls common core “academically inferior, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically manipulative and privately copyrighted Common Core Standards…” End quote.  Now, in my opinion, the talking points that will be used to promote the bill will likely say that it’s common-core free, or at least, the bill will avoid using the phrases “common core” or “common data standards”.  The bill will rely very deceptively on the fact that most people don’t know that there is an official federal definition of common core.  That other phrase that the bill WILL include, repeatedly, is: “career and college ready standards” or “career and college readiness”.  Do an internet search for the federal definition of “college and career ready”.  You’ll find that the phrase is officially defined by the federal Dept. of Education as “standards common to a significant number of states” which can only be the common core.

The second reason that the grassroots letter asks Congress to oppose ESEA is its push for:

  1. ASSESSMENTS THAT PROFILE CITIZENS – the letter calls an over-reliance on tests never independently validated, high-stakes standardized tests supervised by the federal government , tests that are psychologically profiling our children more than assessing their academic knowledge…a problem. The third reason to oppose ESEA is:
  2. SLDS – State Longitudinal Database Systems (stalking of kids by the government) and the massive increase in state and federal gathering of private family, education and psychological data … without consent. The fourth reason:
  3. CAREER TRACKING – Career tracking, which undermines self-determination by means of unconstitutional profiling…”

Some people don’t understand why it’s a bad thing for the government to centrally manage and guide (or control) citizens into different career tracks; some think that’s helpful for the individual and good for the collective economy.

But I think of a quote from my favorite Disney movie, “Prince of Egypt” where Moses says, “No kingdom should be made on the backs of slaves”. 

Since student self-determination is undermined by the dictates of the government’s workforce needs, even if it is data-driven dictatorship, and since a student’s interests won’t be judged as equally important to a student’s capabilities when the collective workforce or the government is the main determiner of what that student’s career path should be, we are creating a system for our children where they are not free.  Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that education reforms are aiming to build a global kingdom on the backs of children without their consent;  but I think, in the long run, maybe not.

The four points outlined by the grassroots organizations’ letter, in my  opinion boil, down to this:

Either you believe that parents are the God-given authority over a child, or you believe that children’s lives should be managed by the government and its “data driven decision making,” for the building up of the government’s economy– in the style of countries without freedom, like China.

Either you support the continued tracking and nonconsensual stalking of your child and family, using local schools as the data collection pawns in a federal system that tracks children and families for life,  –or you believe in freedom, self-determination and privacy.

Either you believe that individuals should control their own lives despite the risks that freedom allows, or you believe that the government should control the lives of the people, because of the risks that freedom allows.  If you are getting sucked into believing the latter, please remember this:  we the people created government. We own it;  it did not create us and it does not own us.  It cannot boss us without our consent. Anytime government does a thing without the full, informed consent of the governed, it is unjust and it is dangerous.

But government can and does get away with bossing and bullying –when we let go of our own power.  I am asking you to use your power to call and stop ESEA this week.

Because Congress isn’t being given time to read or debate the bill prior to a vote, the bill’s promoters will pass out a sheet of biased talking points for the rest of Congress to read before they vote (this is how they got the Student Success Act passed) –and these talking points will sound so good.  But they will be full of lies.

I know this because I saw the last set of talking points when they passed the house and senate versions of this monster bill.  They had things that successfully deceived almost all of our elected conservatives, such as: “this bill will reduce the federal footprint” and “this bill restores power to the states and localities”—these things weren’t true.

Rather than restoring power to the localities, the bill assigned enforcement of federal priorities to the localities.  Think about that: there’s a big difference between assigning federal priority enforcement and implementation to states, and actually restoring freedom to states.  The new bill will likely use many phrases conservatives love while it also intrudes on basic rights and institutions, for example, on private schools and home schools by offering them attractive grants or services –in exchange for student, teacher and family data.  It’s all about data—it’s all about reducing citizen privacy, because information is power.

And the bill won’t be written in clear language that is accessible to the average person.   You will have to really study it and find out what its words and phrases mean in definitions outside the bill itself, to understand what is being traded.

The bill and its talking points will likely use language to appeal to the compassionate person, but it will force the federal concept — a parent-replacing definition– of government compassion.  It will promote parent-neutralizing, nanny-state enabling concepts and programs, including increased data mining –to identify (quote) ”academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health and other needs of students, families, and community residents.”  The last bill promoted “Full Service Community Schools” and “student needs” and “wraparound services” and extended learning time that make school, not family or church, the central hub of a child’s life.

202-224-3121.  Memorize that number or put it in your speed dial.  Ask Congress to vote NO on ESEA.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the partnership of federal and corporate forces take away our authority by changing who gets to define and enforce what learning means and what will be learned –taking this authority from the parent and teacher; and reassigning it to the government;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government narrows academic freedom by dicating  a communistic, workforce-centered vision of what academic success is for;

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements into federal law the common core standards.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while the federal government cements processes built on student-stalking common data standards and interoperable state databases that report to the federal edfacts data exchange, tracking children’s academic and psychological data, without consent;

It is wrong for you and I to allow any kind of assessments to be mandated upon us by federal forces, whether in the form of formal, standardized tests or stealthy, embedded tests that are quietly woven into the daily curriculum and assignments of students.  These tests lock us into a federal definition of what academic excellence looks like and will narrow academic creativity in classrooms that are built on one standard and one set of data tags and tests.  They certainly make things more efficient, but at the expense of a teacher’s professional judgment and her curricular liberty.

It is wrong for you and I to sit by while a few members of Congress ram a bill through, mostly in the dark, without allowing any space for analysis or debate.  It is truly a dark and un-American process.

Fight for freedom with your telephone.

These freedoms, once lost, won’t come back easily: the freedom to define with our own conscience and intellect what education should look like; the freedom from invasion of privacy;  the freedom from being centrally managed and tracked without consent.  These are not small things.

I’m asking you to call 202-224-3121 and tell Congress to vote NO on ESEA.

 

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Update:  Additional #STOPESEA videos here:

 

SENATOR MIKE LEE: HOW SENATOR ALEXANDER’S ESEA/NCLB IS TO BE RAMMED DOWN CONGRESS’ THROAT   4 comments

mike lee

Even if you had time to read the final version of the new ESEA bill  which will get released days from now –which you won’t, because you’ll be eating turkey– and even if you agreed with every word (which I’m betting you won’t, because Senator Alexander’s view of ed reform is sick and wrong) –but even if you liked it– shouldn’t you, on principle, still oppose its passage, based on the devious  process being used, a pushing of  laws into their cemented form without representative debate– very fast, and mostly in the dark?

Senator Mike Lee’s fight against this now-brewing, corrupt, “new” No Child Left Behind, inspires me.  His backbone in standing up to the corruptos in Congress that are pushing ESEA is a rare treasure in politics.  Do you realize that he’s fighting for the actual freedom of our children and grandchildren?  This is real.  Listen to him. 

Senator Lee’s railed against some of the corruption; for example, its $250 million plan to hurt good preschools by pushing loser-federal preschools on all; its cementing of Common Core standards,  etc.  There’s more brewing that he hasn’t taken time to denounce yet, such as  its creepy, parent-ditching “community school” program that puts government ahead of families, churches or anyone else in influencing kids and eating up too much of kids’ time; and its cementing of common, kid-stalking data tags (CEDS) –but you can study all of that.

Lee’s big focus is on something more basic:  the dark, un-American process  by which ESEA/NCLB is about to pass into law.

(I keep calling the other members of the Utah delegation to leave messages asking them to join his fight.  Please do, too.)

This process that Senator Lee speaks of is so corrupt.

It is un-American to make Congress  vote on something so fast that it hasn’t been  vetted or understood by voters.   It is un-American to skip debate and to ditch input.  We all know that this law will weigh heavily on everyone who will be ruled by it afterward.  Shouldn’t voters have a real opportunity to look at the bill from all angles and then take the vote?

Senator Lee has pointed out that the process creates the policy.  This is how ESEA/NCLB is to be rammed down the throat of Congress (and all of us) next week.

Step one: right now, a tiny handful of pro-reauthorization members of Congress, behind closed doors, are cooking up the poison pill.

Step 2:  They’ll speed it to a vote so fast that the rest of Congress has no time to think before swallowing, no chance to offer what they are supposed to be allowed to offer:  “motions to instruct the conferees” (input).

Step 3:   They’ll market it under the banner of good-sounding lies and slanted press releases and news stories that will successfully deceive Americans (including our politicians) into believing that control has been returned to the localities.  It won’t be true.  But we’ll figure it out too late to easily reverse it.  Because nobody’s going to really read the bill before they vote yes.

The draft was released a few day ago.  The bill won’t be released until next week, the same week that the vote will be taken: December 2.

The draft bill itself, still called what Sen. Alexander named it years ago, “The Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015” will pass out of draft form into final form as a concoction, mixing  what the house passed plus what the senate passed, both of which were, to freedom lovers, pure ugly.

Now, superglued together under the supervision of those working in the dark with Senator Alexander, it will surely have even a worse blast radius than its past incarnations.

This hurried method is a sick pattern used by the Obama administration.  We saw Secretary Duncan push states with the monetary lure of “Race to the Top” millions to adopt Common Core and its tests and SLDS systems for a chance in that race.  Before that, there was the ARRA funding that was tied, among other things, to governors agreeing to get federally-approved student data collection systems and standards.

Now, the speed of ESEA will similarly  maim freedom, pushing these  controversial programs into  nation-binding law.

I’m reposting Senator Lee’s entire speech below.

After you read it, please call. This monster will affect all Americans for years to come.

Ask for any senator and representative in D.C. at 202-224-3121.  Say, “VOTE NO ON ESEA.”  Done? Thank you!!  Please call again.  Then call for your neighbor who isn’t taking the time to call.  Skip the gym or the crochet project and call some who aren’t your direct reps, too.  Leave them messages — ask them to call you to account for how they plan to vote on December 2.

Politicians need constituents’ support to get re-elected.  Tell them that this is a make or break issue; you won’t vote for them again if they vote yes on ESEA.  Your voice and vote are  leverage.

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Speeches

At some point today the Senate will vote on the motion to appoint conferees – or what’s often called the motion to go to conference – for a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or the ESEA, which is the legislation governing our federal K-12 education policy.

Because most Americans have probably never heard of this obscure parliamentary procedure – the motion to appoint conferees – I’d like to take a moment to explain how it works… or at least, how it’s supposed to work.

When the House and the Senate each pass separate, but similar, bills, the two chambers convene what’s called “a conference.”

A conference is essentially a meeting where delegates from each chamber come together to iron out the differences between their respective bills, and put together what’s called “a conference report” – which is a single piece of legislation that reconciles any disparities between the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill.

Once the delegates to the conference – the conferees – agree on a conference report, they bring it back to their respective chambers, to the House and to the Senate, for a final vote.

It’s important to note here that, once the conference report is sent to the House and the Senate for a final vote, there’s no opportunity to amend the legislation. It’s an up-or-down vote: each chamber can either approve or reject the conference report in its entirety.

If each chamber votes to approve the conference report, it’s then sent to the president, who can either sign it into law or veto it.

So what we’re doing today is voting on the motion to appoint conferees for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Earlier this year, both the House and the Senate passed their own ESEA reauthorizations. And now, we’re voting to proceed to the conference process and to appoint certain senators to participate in that process as conferees.

Historically, and according to the way the conference process is supposed to work, this vote is not that big of a deal. Voting on the motion to appoint conferees is usually, and mostly, a matter of routine.

But it’s not a vote that should be rushed through on a moment’s notice, because it is the last opportunity for senators and representatives who are not conferees – such as myself – to influence the outcome of the conference process.

We can do that by offering what are called “motions to instruct the conferees.”

For example, let’s say I was not chosen to be a conferee to a particular bill, but there was an issue related to the bill that was important to me and to the people I represent – in that case, I could ask the Senate to vote on a set of instructions that would be sent to the conference to inform their deliberations and influence the substance of the conference report.

Mr. President, this is how the conference process is supposed to work.

But it is not how the conference process has been conducted with respect to this bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

Sure, we’re still voting to appoint conferees.

And those conferees will still convene a conference.

And that conference will still produce a conference report.

So from the surface, it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to.

But beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been pre-arranged, pre-cooked, pre-determined… by a select few members of Congress, working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny.

And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult – if not impossible – for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.

Now, why does this matter?

We know the American people care deeply about K-12 education policy. But why should they care about this obscure parliamentary procedure in the Senate?

They should care – and Mr./Madam President, we know that they do care – because the process influences the policy.

In this case, the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work – policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.

For instance, it’s my understanding that this pre-agreement may authorize $250 million in new spending on federal pre-K programs – what amounts to a down-payment on the kind of universal, federally-run pre-K programs advocated by President Obama.

This would be a disaster not only for American children and families, but for our 21st-century economy that increasingly requires investments in human capital.

We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for upward economic mobility later in life. A mountain of recent social science research proves what experience and intuition have been teaching mankind for millennia: that a child’s first few years of life are critical in their cognitive and emotional development.

Yet we also know that too many of America’s public schools, especially those in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, fail to prepare their students to succeed.

Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Head Start, which has consistently failed to improve the lives and educational achievements of the children it ostensibly serves.

According to a 2012 study by President Obama’s own Department of Health and Human Services, whatever benefits children gain from the program disappear by the time they reach the third grade.

But because bureaucracies invariably measure success in terms of inputs, instead of outcomes, Head Start and its $8 billion annual budget is the model for Democrats as they seek to expand federal control over child care programs in communities all across the country.

This bill also doubles down on the discredited common-core approach to elementary and secondary education that the American people have roundly, and consistently, rejected.

Mr. President, parents and teachers across America are frustrated by Washington, D.C.’s heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy.

I’ve heard from countless moms and dads in Utah who feel as though anonymous government officials living and working 2,000 miles away have a greater say in the education of their children than they do.

The only way to improve our K-12 education system in America is to empower parents, educators, and local policymakers to meet the unique needs of their communities and serve the low-income families the status quo is leaving behind.

With early childhood education, we could start block granting the Head Start budget to the states.

This would allow those closest to the children and families being served to design their own programs – rather than spending all their time complying with onerous, one-size-fits-all federal mandates – and designate eligible public and private pre-schools to receive grants.

We know this works because many states are already doing it. In my home state of Utah, for instance, United Way of Salt Lake has partnered with two private financial institutions, Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker, to provide first rate early education programs to thousands of Utah children.

They call it a “pay-for-success” loan.

With no upfront cost or risk to the taxpayers, private capital is invested in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program, which is implemented and overseen by United Way.

If, as expected, the preschool program results in increased school readiness and improved academic performance, the state of Utah repays the private investors with the public funds it would have spent on remedial services that the children would have needed between kindergarten and the twelfth grade, had they not participated in the program.

Washington policymakers should not look at Utah’s pay-for-success initiatives – and other local success stories like them – as potential federal programs, but as a testament to the power of local control.

Mr. President, we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children.

The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.

You Shall Not Pass: Utah Senator Mike Lee Isn’t Fooled by No Child Left Behind Reauthorization   Leave a comment

Legendary US Dept of Education whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt  has  pointed out at her blog, ABCs of Dumbdown, that some members of Congress are deliberately concealing machinations of No Child Left Behind/ESEA  and are planning a rushed vote so that no time is allotted for public scrutiny nor for full Congressional analysis of the huge federal law.  She also points out that others, like Utah Senator Mike Lee, aren’t falling for the ruse.

In the official Congressional Record of two days ago, you can read the entire statement of Utah Senator Mike Lee, who said (see page S8032):

So from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”

Senator Lee also stated that the new ESEA/NCLB aims to spend $250 million on federal preschool, even though:

“Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Headstart, which has consistently failed.”

Senator Lee noted that the bill must be stopped because it cements Common Core:

“The bill also doubles down on the discredited common core approach to elementary and secondary education the American people have roundly and consistently rejected. Parents and teachers across America are frustrated by the heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy by Washington, D.C.   I have heard from countless moms and dads in Utah who feel as though anonymous government officials living and working 2,000 miles away have a greater say in the education of their own children than they do.”

Please call the US Capital in D.C. to ask your senators and representatives to VOTE NO on ESEA/NCLB reauthorization.  202-224-3121. 

For additional information and details on who is fighting with us and why we must stop the bill, click here.

From Big Think Tanks to Individual Thinkers: a “NO” to NGSS Common Science Standards   2 comments

poli science

What’s the big deal about Utah changing its science standards?  Doesn’t “new” equal “improved”?

I have three items to share on this subject that come from other people, which I add to what I wrote in yesterday’s letter to the USOE Auditing Department, and then I’ll spout my own thoughts at the end.

1) First, I’m sharing an open letter of fellow Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, to the State Board, protesting Utah’s move toward inept common national science standards;

2) Second, I’m sharing a link to a review of the “science” in these standards by top biology professor Stan Metzenberg, published by Pioneer Institute;

3) Third, I’m republishing Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s video alerting the public to the error of Utah adopting NGSS (also known as Utah’s New Science Standards or Massachusetts’ “new” draft science standards.

(If you want still more, read Utah scientist Vince Newberger’s blog, Science Freedom; see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards (they are as identical twins with one freckle different); watch the  video documentary to hear recorded promises of Utah legislators and board members who explained why Utah should/would never adopt federal/common science standards; read the furious report of parent Alisa Ellis who served on Utah’s parent review committee for these draft standards, read why Kansas parents for objective education sued their state school board for adopting these standards; watch the May 2015 public comment meeting in Salt Lake City about these standards, and read what Jakell Sullivan and I researched about NGSS many months ago.)

Then, contact the board:  board@schools.utah.gov !

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  1.  FROM A UTAH MOTHER, RHONDA HAIR:

Dear Utah State School Superintendent Brad Smith, State Science Specialist Ricky Scott, and State School Board Members:

I filled out the survey and would like to let you know a few things.
First, I am frustrated with the survey: it reads like a scholarly paper and is inaccessible to so many parents who intuitively know what is good but are intimidated by its complexity and minutiae. As a consequence, only parents who have obtained high-level education are going to feel confident about filling out such a survey. Are they the only parents who matter? I’ve been told you keep hearing from professors that these standards are great. Of course they think that. Your survey and standards draft are aimed at people at that level, and they live in a fairly insulated world of theory and numbers, not regular, real-world jobs.
Last time you offered a survey to parents, it was of a similar nature. I attended the board meeting when the results were reported. My survey was not counted; though I did give feedback, it didn’t fit your data set structure. If I remember correctly, only about 70 surveys had been filled out the way demanded. That is because what you are asking about is not what the parents are concerned about. You are asking about the cabins and furniture on a ship that has been hijacked.

While I do object to some specifics in the standards, what is most crucial in my opinion is the overruling of parental control that the Utah Board and Office of Education have done, with the legislature’s blessing. I don’t need to spend considerable time reviewing the standards (though I did) to know you are on the wrong track. These things should be decided at the very local level, where parents and teachers can work together to address the needs, wants, talents, and values of the families and individuals. The state Constitution specifies the Board is to have “general control” of education, which means what can apply to everyone, not “detailed control”. Your predecessors overstepped the intended bounds.
Please help remedy the situation by dropping these standards, rejecting federal strings and intervention, dropping state educational core curriculum, and allow the resulting vacuum to be filled naturally by the districts, schools, and families.

Sincerely,
Rhonda Hair
Parent of Utah public-ed students and homeschool students, B.S. in Elementary Education

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2.  FROM PIONEER INSTITUTE:

Study Calls for Draft Science and Technology/Engineering Standards to Be Withdrawn

“Astonishing” gaps in science content too large to be resolved editorially

BOSTON – Massachusetts’ draft pre-K through introductory high school Science and Technology/Engineering standards contain such startling gaps in science that they should be withdrawn from consideration, according to a new Policy Brief published by Pioneer Institute.

“The proposed science standards have significant, unacceptable gaps in science content,” says Dr. Stan Metzenberg, a professor of biology at California State University and author of “A Critical Review of the Massachusetts Next Generation Science and Technology/Engineering Standards.” “For example, they are stunningly devoid of Mendelian genetics and large parts of cellular biology. This is an astonishing oversight for a state that has notable institutions of higher education and a thriving biotechnology industry.”

At the high school level, the draft standards almost completely exclude Mendelian genetics. These concepts are not easily absorbed before high school, and their exclusion means students won’t be exposed to ideas that revolutionized biology at the beginning of the 20th century.

Their exclusion also makes it impossible to understand modern evolutionary theory and for students to grasp their own risk of carrying inherited disease. Massachusetts’ current science and technology/engineering curriculum frameworks include three Mendelian genetics standards.

The draft standards also exclude large parts of cellular biology, failing to teach high school students about the nucleus, mitochondria or chloroplasts.

Massachusetts currently has a curriculum framework for each of the body’s seven major systems (digestive, circulatory/excretory, respiratory, nervous, muscular/skeletal, reproductive and endocrine). But the draft would include these systems in a single composite standard, reducing students’ understanding and lessening their ability to talk to and understand their own physician and make healthy choices.

The draft standards never mention the name “Charles Darwin” and don’t adequately develop the basis for concepts of natural selection, making it exceedingly difficult to address Darwin’s theory of evolution in later grades.

Finally, the way the draft standards are written is overly complex, using sometimes ambiguous or grammatically incorrect language that fails to clearly communicate what students should know and be able to do. This ambiguity causes difficulty in the later grades.

About the Author

Dr. Stan Metzenberg is Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. He has 20 years’ experience teaching biological science at the university level. He was a senior science consultant for the Academic Standards Commission in California (1998) and a state Board of Education appointee to the California Science Project (1999-2003), the California Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (2003- 2006) and a content review panelist for development of the California Standards Tests (1999-2010). He has recently assisted the ministries of education of Saudi Arabia (2010) and Qatar (2015) in training teacher leaders to use newly adopted science instructional materials.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

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3.   From Wendy Hart, board member of Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest public school district:

 

 

Thank you, Rhonda Hair, Professor Metzenberg, and Wendy Hart.

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And now, a few closing thoughts of my own:

ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The entire nation of scientists do not agree on a common core of science.  Why should kids be forced to do so?  Science is a quest.  Academic freedom to question with a fully open mind, matters.  NGSS ends that for schools.  NGSS’s vision of truth, including political underpinnings of “green” science, is the only correct science.

While some members of the USOE have pretended that the anti-NGSS people (like me) are anti-science people who would  force God and intelligent design  on all students, and that we would have public schools teaching nothing but the Old Testament as science school, that is not true.   It is the pro-NGSS people who want to limit truth.  They want the one-sided, politically charged version of science, slanted toward controversial “facts” being accepted by students as unquestionable scientific standards of truth; they want kids to believe that global warming and climate change is a fact, for example– even though in the real world of real scientists, that is a hotly debated and far from settled scientific issue.  They want kids to believe that Darwinian evolution is flawlessly true.  But that’s not what real scientists agree upon.  Academic freedom demands the continuation of these huge questions in the classroom.  That won’t happen with NGSS and the associated tests and curriculum defining scientific truth from a slanted perspective.

ON MISSING OUT ON MORE THAN JUST A FEW STRANDS OF SCIENCE

Beyond academic holes such as missing Mendelian genetics and missing math in NGSS, beyond the blind acceptance of Darwin and an overabundance of green-slanted “science” –there is an even bigger issue.  In adopting NGSS, we are losing the freedom to set our own standards in the future because NGSS alignment stifles and shackles us with common, aligned tests and common educational data standards that tag our students’ daily work.

ON THE LOSS OF CONTROL OF STANDARDS, TESTING AND PRIVATE STUDENT DATA

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of preserving the right and power of our local teachers, principals, parents, scientists, and board members to influence what is to be taught as truth under the banner of science.

Adopting NGSS, which are not being called NGSS standards by the USOE, but which are, in fact, NGSS standards, (see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards )  is more than adopting academically debatable, “new” but not “improved” standards.

It’s a decision to shackle our students and teachers to a nationalized, common content that NGSS is promoting, and to shackle them to the testing and data mining of student attitudes about this politicized science.  This move makes it efficient and easy for centralized power-holders (NGSS, federal government, state government, CEDS-aligned researchers) who have no business doing so, to not only dictate what truth in science looks like, but what student “achievement” in science will be.  Why give them that power?

Note:   the official site for NGSS states: “To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole, without alteration”.   That is what Utah is doing.  Compare for yourself.

Opting out of standardized testing will not get around these problems, by the way,  since “embedded assessment” (aka stealth testing) will make every student using technology in any form, a data-mining gold mine, daily.

Please, wake up, friends!

We are, right now, putting Utah on the conveyor belt of politically loaded, pre-packaged “true science” defined only by NGSS, with matching SAGE tests (or the upcoming, embedded tests) to monitor whether our kids are buying their version of “true science”.

This grave error comes with  long lasting consequences.  It will be as immovable as any long-lasting, formative decision.  Long ago, we decided to build I-15.  Theoretically, we can put it somewhere else now.  But that is not very likely when the traffic (as NGSS-aligned technologies, codes, curricula, tests, teacher professional development, textbook purchasing and more) begins to barrel down that imperious boulevard.

ON THE WORD “NEXT GENERATION”

Big wigs have verbally crowned their crime against academic freedom with the glittering term “next-generation science.”  Some people fall for the term; it must be the next great thing with such a title; but NGSS buy-in is an  investment in long-term political and academic snake oil.  There is nothing modern and magical about this slippery snake oil  except the  very big marketing dollars behind it.

Inform your representatives and  board members that  you say “No” to NGSS.  (State board email: board@Utah.schools.gov)

 

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Update:  11/13/15

Vince Newmeyer reported that:

“Board members have been told that the October draft is the existing standards updated with just the good stuff from the NGSS. To support their claim then produced a spreadsheet called the USEO standards crosswalk… I have taken their crosswalk and researched it further. The results are:

One new standard was written (6.3.4). Two standards originating from the current Utah Standards were added (7.2.4 & 8.1.2). Some existing NGSS standards went through a thesaurus translation but generally without change in character. Some NGSS standards remain word-for-word. Six standards were formed by combining two or more of the previous NGSS standards. Most of the previously duplicated standards were removed. Only one NGSS standard (MS-LS1-8) is not found. see also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

USOE Admits that they Seek to generally adopt the National Next Generation Science Standard

 

USOE now admits in the materials distributed to the board members related to the October draft of the (UT SEEd) Standards October for their October 8-9, 2015 meeting that “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.” A similar statement is found in the foot notes of the introduction pages to each grade level of the standards released for the 30-day public review. (http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx ) As we have seen in this text that “most” means that essentially all of the NGSS standard concepts are found in the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” with little added.
More details are at my ScienceFreedom.org webpage under articles.”

–From Vince Newmeyer

 

Please Audit Utah State Office of Education’s Public Comment Survey   4 comments

After everything scientist and patriot Vince Newmeyer has written, after everything that people in other states have said and done (and sued about) concerning the INSANE  error of adopting national, common science standards; after all the parental uproar here in Utah, still, the USOE is still moving ahead with its bullheaded determination to strip Utah of any local control and align everything we do to federal standards. I am convinced that this is simply because of USOE’s passionate devotion to money –not to children, teachers or education– but to continued federal grant eligibilty.  There is no other logical explanation.
Today is the last day that you can make public comment on Utah’s move to “Utah Science Standards” –standards which are, in fact, national common standards also known as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.  See the official NGSS link here.
NGSS standards are beloved of the Obama administration (Obama launched a global warming education initiative recently).   NGSS are politicized and controversial, which Utah’s previous standards were not.  NGSS have been called the anti-science science standards because they minimize the scientific habit of actually questioning settled science, while maximizing “climate change” evangelism as presented by the left wing.
If Utah teachers and parents really wanted common NGSS standards, I would have to put a sock in my mouth and go away.  But the Utah Office of Education (USOE) has underhandedly presented these standards, refusing to admit that they are NGSS (by changing one word here or there) and by calling them “Utah Science Standards”.
The public comment site is RIDICULOUS.  I encourage you to go there tonight and spout off, but beware; they’ve made it hard.  They have almost made it impossible.
Click to make public comment here.  (Deadline today)
Hence my letter today, sent to the auditing department, asking them to sock it to USOE for their dishonesty and sellout of our schools and kids and real science.   Here’s the board’s email address if you feel so inclined to take a stand next to me on this issue.    board@schools.utah.gov    
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Dear Audit Department of USOE and State Board,
I am writing to ask you to audit the USOE’s public comment survey about the new NGSS/Utah Science standards.
These “standards” are being called “Utah Science Standards” but they are in reality the same as the NGSS, common national science standards.  This fact has been concealed by USOE in its presentations to the public, unfortunately, but it is true.
Today is the last day that the public is invited to comment.
I am certain that very, very few people have commented.    It severely restricts and frames comments.  The micromanaging nature of the survey, which is a narrow, opinion-managing effort, does not allow for true public comment on the entire scope, process, nature and academic quality of the proposed standards.
It limits commenters to specific strands of specific grades and even limits the space for commenting itself!  What if I was a science teacher who wanted to explain in scientific, pedagogic detail, why it’s so wrong to take out most of what we used to teach kids about electricity, for example?  That has happened.  But there’s no space for it on the survey.
But there is more.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDS tags.)
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.
I could go on.
It feels as if this survey was deliberately written to constrain the public to NOT say what they may want to say; as if the survey-data-tally officers wanted to be able to throw out any comments that did brought up the controversies that the creators didn’t want to discuss.
This is certainly an auditing issue.
Millions of dollars will be spent by USOE and the school system to replace Utah’s previous science curricula.  Millions will go to “trainings” for teachers to alter our traditional, time-tested science pedagogy to make it match the new, NGSS, national-federal standards.
Money will be spent (wasted) not just in an excited, misguided grab for the latest and the best, but in a sickeningly politicized, even anti-God, materialism-belief-based, green-evangelized “science” that the USOE pretends is not NGSS.
The dishonest presentation of the 6th to 8th grade science standards to the public as if they were not NGSS is an issue for an audit.  Does honesty matter, or not?
The money that will be spent bases in part on this very survey, will be taken from taxpayers to put Utah on the federally aligned (unconstitutional) curriculum for politicized science, which is an issue for an audit.
For almost four years, many of us (including teachers, like me) have been carefully, sadly following the  activities of the USOE as it has, time and time again, sold out what’s best for Utah’s children, teachers, and future autonomy, for money.  For grant upon grant upon federal grant.
It is sickening.  NGSS alignment is more of the same.
Please audit this public comment survey and let’s insist that USOE be honest.  Have a public comment survey that actually invites full commentary on all aspects of this transformation of our schools.
Audit this survey, and strike it.  Have an honest look at NGSS and ask the public about  moving to national standards for science.
Ask the public to evaluate NGSS, and call it what it really is.  Audit whether it is even legitimate science.  It redefines the concept by dropping the classic scientific model of questioning, basing itself and its unquestionable “facts” on controversial issues with heavy political underpinnings, not on real, actual, open-minded science.
Christel Swasey

Not Too Late to Stop Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: Open Letter to Congress   3 comments

Here’s the powerful open letter, signed by individuals and organizations from all over the country including several Utah grassroots organizations, asking Congress to stop the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/files/340E4386-4C72-4839-A8DC-2F671AF25561–0B810B12-A6E9-4D7F-9414-7DC79D4D7940/congressional-esea-letter-final.pdf#sthash.YLc0t0ki.dpuf

For more information, see these links:  here’s what’s wrong with the bills, in bullet-point form, from American Principles Project:

http://www.americanprinciplesinaction.org/action/take-action-reasons-to-oppose-hr-5-the-reauthorization-of-nclb/

http://www.americanprinciplesinaction.org/apia-education/every-child-achieves-act-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/ (the only point that’s changed, and is no longer valid, is #14, which was taken care of by amendment on the Senate floor)

 

Here are analyses of the amendments to both bills:

http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/blog/analysis-amendments-votes-hr-student-success-act.htm

http://www.flstopcccoalition.org/blog/analysis-amendments-votes-us-senate-every-child-achieves-act.htm

Video: Board Member Wendy Hart on Why Common Science Standards Adoption is a Bad Idea   4 comments

Wendy Hart, a member of the school board in Alpine School District, Utah’s largest district, has taken a public stand against the Utah State Office of Education’s adoption of NGSS national “Science” standards.  You can, too.

Please watch her video and share it.  When we don’t tell legislators or other elected officials how we feel, the USOE feels justified in assuming it’s fine with us.

This is not fine.

You have less than a week to leave a big “NO THANKS” in the public comment area on the USOE website, herehttp://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision.aspx

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: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/424714/whats-wrong-common-core-stanley-kurtz

 

 

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

gary

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

 E-Mail: drgary@earlylifepsych.com

#SpecialEducationKidsMatter

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Forward:

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.

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Acknowledgements:

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.

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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: bwardle@earlylifepsych.com

images3LFCMWU7

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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 linkhttp://www.noticeandcomment.com/Improving-the-Academic-Achievement-of-the-Disadvantaged-Assistance-to-States-for-the-Education-of-Children-fn-292468.asp
  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.

 

 

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AUGUST 2015 RULE:

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

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final regulations.

USDOEs SUMMARY:

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.

DATES:

These regulations are effective September 21, 2015.

Background:

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).

 

BRIEF OUTLINE OF USDOE’S CHANGES TO EXISTING ASSESSMENT RULES:

 

  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).

 

Summary:

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.

 

FACTUAL STATEMENT ANALYSIS OF USDOE’S SUPPORTING RESEARCH

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #1:

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.

 

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #2:

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:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

 

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

 

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.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #3:

 

“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.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #4:

“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:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

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.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #5:

“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.)

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #6:

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 http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/parcc-accessibility- 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” http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/principles.pdf)

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.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #7:

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.

USDOE FINDING OF FACT #8:

 

“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:

NONE

Scope & Limitations of Cited Research:

NOT APPLICABLE. NO INDEPENDENT RESEARCH CITED.

 

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?

 

FINAL CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY OPINIONS:

 

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

 

 

USDOE SUPPORTING REFERENCES & COMMENTARY

COPIED VERBATIM:

 

  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 http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.

  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 http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/parcc- 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, achieve.org

————————————

RELEVANT APA ETHICS CODES:

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

 

INTRODUCTION AND APPLICABILITY (In Part)

 

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.

 

PREAMBLE (In Part)

 

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.

 

ETHICAL STANDARDS (In Part)

 

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.

 

imagesUTU00WM8

2015 Update: US Congressman Schaffer on Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” Letter   14 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

 

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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.

 

God, Science, and the Utah State Office of Education’s Puzzling Stance Regarding High Stakes, Common Core Testing of Special Education Students.   4 comments

 

God, Science, & The Utah State Office of Education’s Puzzling Stance Regarding High Stakes, Common Core Testing of Special Education Students.

By Dr. Gary Thompson

 

“Interesting enough, Utah’s most respected representative of the school of empirically based educational thought (USOE), has formed a basis for adopted policies associated with the  SAGE Common Core test, that appear to be almost religious in nature..”

Dear Parents & Community Members:

During the next several weeks, between now and September 15, 2015, parents, activists, board members and politicians will be engaging in a  very intense “disagreement” concerning the Common Core based SAGE test, and how its use and implementation in Utah is affected by recent administrative law changes implemented by the U.S. Department of Education, as such entail the use of the Common Core SAGE test on Utah’s population of divergent (“special education”) students.   (http://www.noticeandcomment.com/Improving-the-Academic-Achievement-of-the-Disadvantaged-Assistance-to-States-for-the-Education-of-Children-fn-292468.aspx)

One side will definitely state that such changes will have absolutely no effects, ill or otherwise, on Utah’s current policies associated with the Common Core SAGE test (e.g., “Utah State Office of Education Administrators”)….

The independent medical and psychology experts will state that the changes in the policy may serious adversely affect the cognitive and mental health of potentially tens of thousands of divergent learning students in Utah, due to USOE’s dangerous, and almost mystical faith-based belief, that the SAGE test can be given to ALL divergent learning students, with zero adverse emotional and/or cognitive consequences. (In addition to the claim that the SAGE test will determine if ALL divergent students are “career and college ready”.)

Regardless of where one stands today on the issue, it is reasonable to state that there is no middle ground between the two parties.   Both parties will submit “evidence” and state their respective positions to State Board Members, lawmakers, and parents of divergent learning children throughout the State of Utah.   Both parties will hope that their evidentiary “proof” will hold sway over the general public, as well as mainstream media entities.

Before this “war” for the hearts and minds of the Utah populous begins, I just wanted to share a few interesting observations about “empirical evidence”, and “faith”, from two vantage points:

1. From the objective viewpoint of a doctoral level, “local clinical community scientist” in the field of clinical psychology.

2. From the faith-based viewpoint as a devout Christian, and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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A common discourse and theme among many (certainly not all) members of the Christian faith, is that the current education system does not welcome inquiry in public school settings regarding concepts of “faith”,  as such may be related to the existence of a higher being (God). (The legal reality of “separation of Church and State” is well established).   The argument often made is that teachings of God, faith and creationism have no place in our education system because there is no empirical evidence to support them. I have no intention of “solving” this debate, my sole intent is to point out the obvious  differences between the two schools of thought.

Interesting enough, Utah’s most respected representative of the school of empirically based educational thought (USOE), has formed a basis for policies  associated with the  SAGE Common Core test, that seems to be almost religious in nature. In other words, the Utah State Office of Education, the self appointed gate keeper between the illicit mixing of “pure” empirical science, and the subject of God in public schools, is demanding that parents in our community subject their children to a high stakes SAGE test entirely on the basis of….well….’faith’.

Here is what we do know, and what no person or organization in the country has yet to refute on any objective, empirical level:

The SAGE test is unscientific because it violate the basic rule of social science/academic achievement science. The assessment is not verifiable, because the SAGE test is not permitted to be subject to independent scientific evaluation. Its validity cannot be proven nor disproven. Under the guise of “test security” Utah’s $39,000,000.00 testing vendor, American Institute of Research (AIR), uses copyright laws so extreme that they prevent true scientific evaluation of the validity of these tests, by scientists with expertise in the fields of Education, Psychology, and related fields.

The main reason this practice of ignoring validity is scientifically reprehensible, is that U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the USOE, has ignored this most accepted scholarship in the field of “testing”. The concept of Validity, or simply put, PROOF that a test performs as “advertised”, is used to halt the dangerous myth of “certainty” that permeates in the field of educational testing. The Utah State Office of Education, is asking our community of parents to accept that the SAGE test can measure academic constructs in special education students (other than the highest “1% of the most cognitively impaired students”) accurately, with no adverse emotional or psychological harm, on the basis of “faith”.  In reality and practice, USOE and Secretary Duncan, expects this community to subject its most cognitively and emotionally vulnerable students to the admittedly experimental in nature SAGE test, simply because they said so.

   “Just trust me.”

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As one parent expressed to me last night in a social media exchange, “so what? Suppose the SAGE test is an invalid, unnecessary experimentation on the children in Utah…what’s the harm?”  Here was my reply:

“Students (and many parents) “internalize” what SAGE scores mean, and since the majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m a Top SAGE Proficient student” is almost as harmful as “I’m a Bottom Non Proficient SAGE student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of Utah.    Simply put, he who writes, administers and controls the test, literally controls the psycho-social structure of an entire community.   Kids become in their minds, what the test says they are.   If an education entity unleashes this powerful force on an entire community, they sure as hell better ensure that it works as advertised.”

One does not have to be a mental health professional to know the mental health ramifications associated with a child or teen who believes that he or she is “stupid” when compared to his peer siblings and/or peers on campus.   Anxiety, depression, self-mutilation (cutting), drug abuse,  and a well documented increase in youth suicidal ideation, are just a few of the consequences associated clinically with the high stakes academic testing game.

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I make a living off of the art and science of academic, cognitive and emotional assessment. I understand, and believe in the benefits associated with tests and measurement.   Our challenge to the Utah State Office of Education will be to simply verify their claims, as such pertain to the validity of the SAGE test, and its use and application with psychologically vulnerable populations of divergent learning and special education students….who are NOT categorized with the confusing and general label as the “1% of the most cognitively impaired.”

As professionals in the field of clinical psychology, we will rely entirely on independently produced, peer-reviewed research from this nations most prestigious universities, as well as established ethics as published by the American Psychological Association  (APA Ethics Code), and the American Medical Association (AMA Ethics Code) , to present our case to the community.

Slide010 Given the serious nature of the pending conflict, we will demand that the Utah State Office of Education use the same criteria of scholarship, ethics and communication with the public, as well as the Utah State Board of Education, as opposed to their current reliance on “faith”, as their basis of justification for accepting the changes to well established, local/state level Utah practices associated with divergent learning students in Utah.   The misleading, disingenuous, omission laden guidance given to our elected State Board members from an administrator from USOE,  regarding this serious unilateral rule change initiated by the Federal Government, would be comical if it were not for the fact that her propaganda, if accepted as a “matter of faith”, may result in the needless suffering of divergent learning students in the State of Utah.    https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/usoe-letter-tells-state-board-all-is-well-all-is-well-in-special-ed/

At the bequest of my own four divergent learning children (who do not fit into the U.S.D.O.E.’s criteria of “severely cognitive impaired“, as well as the hundreds of similarly situated diverse African American, Latino, Autistic, Suicidal, Dual Exceptional, Cognitively Gifted, Learning “Disabled”, Schizophrenic and otherwise emotionally disturbed children and teens in the State of Utah that my talented staff of Doctor and therapist have valiantly served, I humbly request that the Utah State Board of Education suspend their “faith”, as such apply to the USOE’s agenda laden claims, and protect our most vulnerable assets in our community:   Our children.

Yours in service;

Dr. Gary Thompson
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center

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“Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own (diver