Archive for the ‘Transparency Problems: Why Won’t State Leaders Answer Questions?’ Category
Please vote for Johnathan Johnson for Governor of Utah. Gary Herbert’s pretend-a-thon about Common Core has been growing increasingly desperate and despicable. Johnson doesn’t pretend that the nationalization and standardization of all things educational is acceptable, or that it’s not happening.
I actually keep the campaign mailers that Governor Herbert sends out, rather than sending them to the bird cage, because I see them as evidence in a crime scene.
“LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION,” crows one flier, “Governor Herbert played a key role in supporting Congress passing a law to prohibit federally mandated education standards– including Common Core”.
(I ran around my kitchen and shrieked and burned the pancakes the first time I read this mailer.)
ESSA, a fed ed monster bill that Herbert championed, certainly did claim that it would end fed ed in its talking points, but– since no one actually was allowed time to read it– Congress found out after the vote, in reading the over-a-thousand-pages-long language, that it did no such thing. Those of us who had been studying its predecessors knew what was in the crock pot.
Federal ESSA passed into law last Christmastime, when nobody had time to read or debate the 1,000+ page bill. (To make doubly sure no one would have time to read or debate the bill, the writers gave it to the voters in Congress TWO DAYS before the vote). Senator Lee protested loudly while Herbert promoted ESSA– just as he had so long openly promoted Common Core.
Despite what Governor Herbert or the Wall Street Journal may have said, ESSA didn’t end fed ed. It cemented the entire Common Core / common data standards / common tests / federally aligned preschool system. It just deleted the term “Common Core” so that millions who despised that term might be fooled. All the federal and corporate strings were still there.
Even Federal Education Arne Duncan admitted that.
Duncan, who gloated over the deception of so many Republicans, said, “[I]f you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law [ESSA] are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e., Common Core]… For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”
In that interview with Politico Pro, posted by Pulse2016, Duncan said, “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it.”
Duncan also said:
We had many, many conversations behind the scenes . . . . And I said for us to support [ESSA] they’d have to shed their far, far right [constituents who support the Constitution] . . . . I honestly didn’t know if they’d have the political courage to do that. But they both said they would and they did. I give them tremendous credit for that.
Duncan described an intentional betrayal by silence about the real agenda of ESSA:
We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed – intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill . . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff . . .
With such praise for ESSA coming from Duncan (and from Herbert) and with such condemnation of ESSA coming from Lee, Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, one can easily see who’s aligned with progressive, Obama Administration ideology.
Utah’s Congressional delegation very correctly cited local control being taken away as the reason for voting against ESSA. Senator Mike Lee was very clear on why ESSA should never pass. The governor must have heard the ear candy of the bill’s prominent promoters, notably LaMar Alexander and Paul Ryan– but did he dismiss the words of Senator Mike Lee about ESSA?
Did Governor Herbert believe that he alone recognized ESSA as cutting fed ed, while the famously conservative Lee, Stewart, Bishop, Love and Chaffetz saw it as growing fed ed? Did these Utah Congressmen vote against local control, and for federal control? Of course not; that’s why Herbert was vague on the mailer and did not actually use the term “ESSA”.
Herbert’s mailer also brags about Herbert being top dog at the National Governors Association (NGA). True, he is its chair, but that is not something to impress an actual conservative.
The NGA is not a constitutional congress of governors. It’s a trade group. Not all governors want to be in NGA. Some governors boldly criticize it. NGA is a closed-door, private club, not subject to sunshine laws, so no voter can influence (or even listen in on) what happens there. –And what does happen there? A lot of grant-taking from the likes of Bill Gates to push Common Core on the states, for one thing; copyrighting and attempting to sell America on the Common Core, for another. One non-NGA governor, LePage of Maine, said, “I get no value out of those [NGA] meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey.”
If NGA Chair Governor Herbert wasn’t flabbily playing both sides of the campaign fence, appearing to be pro-Common Core to D.C. and to the ed sales lobby, while appearing to be anti-common core in his mailer to conservative delegates like me, he might come out with a clear and unmistakable statement, like Governor LePage’s of Maine, who said, in addition to the quote above: “I don’t believe in Common Core. I believe in raising standards in education.”
But that wouldn’t fly with the Governor’s friends in his favorite, unconstitutionally recognized, high places: NGA, CCSSO, Prosperity 2020, the Education First lobby, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Parents and teachers in Utah have endured intense, years-long frustration as we have listened to the charade led by the governor, echoed by those friends in unconstitutionally recognized, high places. Herbert once said he aimed to “get to the truth” about Common Core. But the narrow, controlled “conversation” that Governor Herbert then led about Common Core, was light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted at his public meeting about Common Core: “Come and let us reason together.” There was no listening happening. Yes, he got his attorney general to say that Common Core was a locally controlled initiative, but that report was easily, factually rebutted.
If you want to see the governor’s four-year hypocrisy on Common Core newly documented, with links to the nuts and bolts of when and where Herbert promoted and defended Common Core, please read this week’s Herbert’s Common Core history article on Utahns Against Common Core by Oak Norton. It will knock your socks off.
Lastly: there’s more to object to than just Herbert’s federal rubber-stamping of nationalized education standards and tests and data gathering without consent. Look at other issues, just as important as education:
- Why did Herbert veto Constitutional Carry? Aren’t gun rights on the top of conservatives’ priority lists?
- Why did Herbert support the expansion of Obama’s ideas for “healthcare” here in Utah? Aren’t conservatives supposed to stand for fiscal realism and self-reliance and charity (as opposed to forcery –not a misspelling–)?
- Why did Herbert not refuse the SLDS data mining movement, the federally-built and paid-for “State Longitudinal Database System”–from which no child or parent or teacher may opt out— a system that inventories and profiles students without consent?
I will never forget that day, four years ago, in the governor’s office: it was just the governor, his bodyguard, and we three teachers and moms: my friends, Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, and me.
Although we explained our documented research about Common Core and common data collection (CEDS/SLDS) and gave Governor Herbert a thick binder that documented our research and our alarms; although we begged him to recognize the error and to steer away from these federally-promoted systems; although we pointed out that the State Office of Education was using zero documentation to support their pro-common core ear candy– the governor didn’t hear us.
He didn’t keep his promise to have us back in one month, after he and his legal staff had reviewed the issues, either.
He stayed his Common Core-promoting course and entrenched Utah further, using Prosperity 2020 and Education First as financial and political vehicles.
It was never about improving education.
Read Johnathan Johnson’s campaign site. It is a breath of fresh air.
Buried deep in a 2012 report on “Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics,” the US Department of Education states that one of the key applications of educational data mining is “user profiling” (page 25).
The paragraph says: “These application areas are (1) modeling of user knowledge, user behavior, and user experience; (2) user profiling; (3) modeling of key concepts in a domain and modeling a domain’s knowledge components, (4) and trend analysis.”
Later on, in Exhibit 1, we see a flow chart. It shows “student learning data” flowing into the “predictive model,” the “intervention engine” and then into the “adaptation engine.” Clearly, the goal is government-directed behavior modification following student psychological profiling.
This is sad, because “users” now include even babies, since the Department of Education has successfully pushed ESSA into law, with its “early childhood education” programs that are included in the citizen data mining venture.
The Educational Data Mining report of 2012 is not the only such report from the U.S. Department of Education. Related is its 2013 report, “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance” which contained more of the same psychological data gathering goals.
The “Promoting Grit” report included pictures of biometric sensory devices: pressure mouse sensors, posture analysis seats, facial expression cameras, and wireless skin conductance sensors, which would mine student psychological elements, including “grit,” “tenacity,” “perseverance” and more.
In SETRA (the Strengthening Education Through Research Act, currently in the US House of Representatives, having somehow passed the Senate) we find that the federal research programs will be strengthened and enlarged so that more data, including “social and emotional learning” will be gathered for federal use.
Philosophical and constitutional questions need to be hotly debated by the House of Representatives. More importantly, these need discussion at the dinner table, by moms and dads and teachers and principals and school board members:
- Will American children grow up free– as self-governing, free agents, with intellectual and moral privacy and the accompanying power to soar outside any box, as well as the power to fail? How, if even their thoughts and beliefs are monitored and subjected to “intervention”?
- Do Americans want students to be profiled, centrally managed, and nudged in a predetermined, government-and-workforce approved direction –constantly monitored and told what to do? If so, what qualifies central planners to trump individuals’ and families’ desires?
- Does widespread societal faith in “experts” relegate personal privacy and real autonomy to historical artifact? Should personal data be studied and behavior “intervened” by unsupervised central planners? Will this really keep us “safe,” as cogs in a centrally managed, economy-focused collective? Do we want to be a government-branded herd, or free, individual, human beings?
Here come the practical questions for how all this profiling may pan out.
- If we allow government to keep psychological profiles (not just on students– since the P-20 Workforce Pipeline means preschool through workforce citizens get tagged) –then, what happens if a thirty year-old wants to buy a gun, and his background check comes back negatively because when he was in 5th grade, his data was interpreted to mean future depressed individual? And what if his 5th grade data was incorrect?
- What if “at-risk academically” is redefined and applied to a student for attending a private, religious, or home school?
- What if “mentally unstable” is applied to anyone who does not agree with what is being taught in school?
- What if “socially deviant” is applied to anyone who disagrees, or is bored with, collectivist groupthink and group work? –The “what if” list could be endless.
We don’t want to see any “what if”s come to pass. We can put proper protections in place. Legislators, write bills and voters, actively push to get them passed –laws that will deny researchers, school systems and governments access to psychologically profiling, via tests, curricula, and standards without informed, written consent.
The fact that “profiling’s already here” is no excuse. We can begin where we are, and take a stand today. It is true that our students are already being psychologically profiled, to some degree, by the government and schools, already: look at the math standard for Common Core that requires a student to be tagged for presence or absence of “perseverance”. That’s not about math; that’s about psychology and character.
The perseverance tag and others like it will certainly be on the SAGE (Common Core, CEDS aligned) tests; notably in Utah and Florida, which use tests created and scored by the behavioral research company AIR (American Institutes for Research).
For additional evidence of current psychological profiling, look at Utah’s “Student Strengths Inventory,” which gathers nonacademic data on high schoolers.
But none of that is any excuse.
If rain is leaking through a hole in the kitchen, that does not mean we can innocently stand by while someone pokes holes in our living room roof and the bedroom ceiling, and makes plans for the removal of the roof.
The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. To that I add, if governments and corporations were angels, no privacy protections would be necessary; student data would be consensually collected, analyzed, and used to bless the lives and enlarge the opportunities of every student. But men, governments, and corporations are not angels. That’s why We, the People, need to stop invasive bills like federal SETRA; it’s why we need to write and pass good, protective laws locally.
Take action today.
Write a letter. Make a phone call. Meet with a legislator. Pray with great faith; miracles of knowledge and understanding and miracles within political workings are needed, to awaken an asleep populace and to build up protections for our children’s minds, hearts, and freedoms.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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).
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.)