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God, Science, and the Utah State Office of Education’s Puzzling Stance Regarding High Stakes, Common Core Testing of Special Education Students.   Leave a comment

 

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 (divergent learning) children.”

 

Source: God, Science, & The Utah State Office of Education’s Puzzling Stance Regarding High Stakes, Common Core Testing of Special Education Students.

USOE Letter Tells State Board All is Well, All is Well in Special Ed   2 comments

Below are two letters.  The first one is my response to the second, so you might want to skim the second one first.  But the second one is written in the style that George Orwell warned us about– “like a cuttlefish squirting out ink… (the great enemy of clear language is sincerity).”
That one, in essence, has the head of the Utah State Office of Education’s Special Education department telling the rest of the bureaucracy that the new No Child Left Behind reauthorization ruling from Secretary of Education Duncan won’t in any way hurt anyone in Utah; in fact, Duncan’s ruling doesn’t even affect Utah students, she says!  It’s her complete handwaving away of the rule itself, as well as an admission that it’s okay with her that our rights as parents and teachers in Utah are going away.  It’ s not keeping her up at night.
My letter says that Duncan’s rule for NCLB and his snipping away of the last vestiges of state authority over special education IS keeping me up at night.
(If you didn’t already read why, that’s here.)
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Dear Glenna Gallo and Utah State School Board,
I have read a letter that was sent out to the USOE/USSB concerning Secretary Duncan’s “final rule”  concerning the end of state authority over special education that Duncan plans to take effect nationally September 15th.  [Pasted in full after this letter]
Here is a direct quote from your office:
“The recent regulation changes taking effect in September do not impact Utah students at all.”
I am stunned at this quote. I have read the Department of Education’s directive.  It certainly applies to every state if the unconstitutionally acting Secretary Duncan is to be taken seriously.
Here is the link.
http://www.noticeandcomment.com/Improving-the-Academic-Achievement-of-the-Disadvantaged-Assistance-to-States-for-the-Education-of-Children-fn-292468.aspx
Its summary states that the rule will “no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards….”
Further down, the page promotes the idea that forcing the same curriculum (Common Core Curriculum aka College and Career Ready) –on all students, without differentiation for special education students, is a good idea:
“Including students with disabilities in more accessible general assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards [Common Core] promotes high expectations for students with disabilities, ensures that they will have access to grade-level content, and supports high-quality instruction designed to enable students with disabilities to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum—that is, the same curriculum as for nondisabled students.”
How can the USOE claim that this will not affect Utah students?
There are two major battles to be fought here.  One is the battle for the children themselves, whose best interests are no longer to be determined (for testing nor for curriculum or standards) by their loving parents and teachers, but by the feds.  This is clearly not limited to testing, but to standards and curriculum as well.
The other is the fight for our local right to direct the affairs of our children’s lives as we see fit: the fight to defend the application of the Constitution in our daily lives.
By continuing to hold hands with the Dept. of Education, rather than to stand up against this takeover of our rights, the USOE and School Board and Governor are complicit with Secretary Duncan’s federalization of special education in Utah. 
Utah’s government (USOE/USSB) is freely giving away what is not theirs to give:  the people’s voice, the people’s power, the people’s authority over the lives and programs of their own children.  By not saying no, you have said yes.
I take this very, very seriously.  The power to make decisions for our children’s lives and any programs by which our children are molded –and from which few have any alternative pathways– is a Constitutional, sacred birthright in America.
You who are elected (or paid) to be the guardians of Utah’s public education system have a duty to be a voice  for US, to represent We, the People, We, the teachers, and We, the Students. 
By not saying no, and by sending out letters like this one, you are representing Secretary Duncan to us, rather than us to Secretary Duncan.  That is not right.
I implore you to open your eyes to see the lies of Secretary Duncan.  The title itself is a complete deception: “Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged; Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities,” –while the text of the rule states, “to no longer authorize a state to determine. Does that title match that text? Assistance equals dictatorship?  Improvement equals dictatorship? 
It is ironic that the ESEA reauthorization was sold to Congress as a reduction in the federal educational footprint.  That was another sheer lie that should be obvious to everyone now.
I cannot stomach the ongoing tolerance of Utah’s educational leadership, that passes along, rather than stops, the bullying that flows from the Department of Education. Why has Utah’s education board and office been so willing to relinquish her own authority in these matters? 
It is time for those who have a conscience to take a stand.  Make a statement even if you cannot alter the course; take the public stand so that we know who is on what side of this fight over our children and our freedoms.
I suggest that you do something more than pass along dictator-like directives from Duncan to Utah’s districts. 
I would start by sending Secretary Duncan a letter of reprimand for attempting to assert such falsely gotten, pretended authority over us and over our children.  Perhaps our D.C. representatives will cosign.
We don’t get a second chance.  Failure to say no to this “final rule” means we lose this autonomy forever. 
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher and Mother
Pleasant Grove
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Here is the letter/email referenced above, that went out today or yesterday from Utah’s Special Education Director at USOE to the State Board and USOE:
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Dear USOE Leadership and Utah State Board of Education,
In case you have been receiving concerned emails and phone calls regarding recent USDOE regulation changes taking effect September 15th that impact statewide assessments, here is some additional information, beyond that already provided by Superintendent Smith and Asst. Superintendent Nye (below).
ESEA used to allow states to create an additional state assessment, beyond the regular state assessment (in Utah, the SAGE) and the 1% assessment (in Utah, the DLM for math and ELA and UAA for science).  That additional assessment was referred to as the 2% assessment.  In other words, the SAGE would be used for 97% of students with disabilities, with the students with the most significant disabilities taking the 1% assessment, and 2% of students with significant disabilities (but who do not qualify for the 1% assessment) taking the 2% assessment.  Although the 2% option was removed in 2013 for states applying for an ESEA waiver, this did not impact Utah, as we have never had a 2% assessment, nor were there plans to develop one.  The recent regulation changes taking effect in September do not impact Utah students at all.
There is some misinformation on how students with disabilities participate in the appropriate statewide assessment.  Students with disabilities may participate in the 1% assessment (DLM and UAA) if the IEP team determines that they should not access grade level standards, and require instruction aligned to the Essential Elements (EEs) (alternate core standards).  You can find those EEs athttp://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Instruction.aspx and more information about the DLM and UAA athttp://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Assessment.aspx.
 
Students with disabilities who do not receive instruction in the EEs receive instruction aligned to grade-level state standards, and as such participate in the SAGE, with the provision of appropriate IEP team-determined accommodations and/or modifications.   Special education is in place, and there are no planned changes to remove special education services or accommodations.  However, special education services are intended to supplement grade level general education instruction, not replace it, UNLESS the student is learning under the EE standards (again, students with most significant disabilities).   You can find more information about assessment participation for students with disabilities at http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/Assessment/AccommodationPolicy.aspx.
 
Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions.
Glenna
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Threatening Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth: Last Chance Public Meeting with USOE on Nationalized Science Standards   2 comments

 

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How Do the Common Core Science Standards Threaten Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth?

(This information is provided by Vince Newmeyer, a scientist and member of Utah’s science standards review committee.)

Please Attend:  Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Issues of controversy range from:

  • Politicized presentation of Global Warming and Environmentalism
  • Darwinian Dogma

o    The lack of an objective view of data

o    The indoctrination of a materialistic mantra, which excludes any data or logic that indicates that there is anything more than simply Matter and Energy as an explanation of human origins.

o    This enthroned materialistic view has a devastating affect on the morals of society as a whole.

  • Instances of bad science
  • Missing and “implicit” content
  • Artificial limits on learning
  • The failure to include essential math critical to science learning
  • Lack of depth in critical topics
  • Missing science foundations
  • The watering down of science with social issues
  • The failure to evaluate the whole of the NGSS and only looking at grades 6-8
  • The presentation to the public of only selected material, and not the full body of material that will be presented to our teachers
  • Submitting to a National Standard can bring Federal consequences if we should add to or deviate from those set standards in the future

 

I feel we would be selecting a substandard and politicized science program unfit for what the parents of Utah would really want for their public school students.

Students of Utah Families should be free to hear the full breadth of scientific evidence. Science teachers should not be shackled to sterilized arguments and filtered scientific facts, as we find in the NGSS standards, simply because other data points to what has become politically unpopular conclusions.  I firmly believe that we should not accept the substandard NGSS being proposed for our Utah students. We can do better!  – Vince Newmeyer

 

The Utah State Office of Education promised to never adopt national science standards, but that is exactly what they are doing. Watch this short video.  Ask yourself why the state was so determined not to adopt a nationalized set of science standards then, but are doing it now.  What changed?  Please share it with your legislators and state board member.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/
Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 19th

5:00 – 6:30 PM The PRE-MEETING – organized by parents

Day-Riverside Branch
Salt Lake City Public Library
1575 West 1000 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
7:00 PM- USOE meeting – official USOE meeting

Salt Lake Center for Science Education Media Center

1400 Goodwin Ave.

Salt Lake City Utah, UT 84116

Please Attend these Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

 

 

See also:

  • Updates at ScienceFreedom.org
  • Open letter from another member of the parent science review committee:   https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/open-letter-from-alisa-ellis-usoe-deliberately-withholding-actual-science-standards-from-public-scrutiny/
  • Kansas Parents suing Kansas Board over NGSS science standards  http://www.copeinc.org/science-readings.html      (Notice that the newspapers deride this parental group as an” anti-evolution” group; but the parents themselves call their group Citizens for Objective Public Education.  The parents are clamoring for actual science,  for open mindedness that includes the possibility of intelligent design in this universe.  It’s a very important word game that’s being played.  Which side is really for or against academic open dialogue, scientific freedom, true debate, and an open mind?  Which side is really pushing a one sided dogma and subjective, controlled learning?  Study it carefully.)

 

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

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

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

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

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

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

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

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

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

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

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

 

Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

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

 

Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill. 

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

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

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

Have you registered yet?  (Click here!)

 

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

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

Operation-Underground-Railroad

 

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

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

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

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

  • 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. – Choose from:

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

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

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

  • 10:00 to 10:55 – Choose from:

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

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

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

  • 11:00 to 11:55 – Choose from:

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

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

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

 

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MORNING WORKSHOPS – Register here.

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Detailed Class Descriptions with Teacher Bios:

9:00 to 9:55 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

stacie t

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

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10:00 to 10:55

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

big ocean

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

carolina

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

michelle boulter

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

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

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

joy

 

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

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

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

 

heather gardner

 

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

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11:00 to 11:55

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

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

politics of science 10

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

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

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

wend

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

jared carmen

 

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

 

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EVENING EVENTS – Register here.

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

FIVE STRINGS BAND

five strings

SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

al jackson

JOY PULLMAN

joy

TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

Tim-Ballard-620x331

abolitionist movie

abolition poster

Letter from Local School Board Member to State School Board   4 comments

This letter is reposted with permission from its author, Wendy Hart of Alpine School Board, of Utah’s largest school district.

wendy alyson

Wendy Hart is sitting on the left in this photo.

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Dear State Board Members,

I am asking that you restart the entire process of science standards adoption.  There is a very real, very large deficit of public trust on the issue of standards.  While I appreciate the parent review committees and the public comment periods, it really is the perception that this was a ‘done deal’.  The subsequent release of the Fine Arts standards that are identical to the national fine arts standards indicates a desire by either this Board or the USOE or both to completely align everything we do to a national set of standards created by a national set of ‘supposed’ experts in these fields.  The assumption that national (or broadly-adopted) standards are inherently superior is flawed, as is the assertion that a lack of national (or broadly-adopted) standards will  prohibit individual students to grow up to be successful, educated individuals.  Some high-performing nations have national standards, but about the same number do not.

Here are some of my concerns and requests.

The most major concern is that of creating uniformity and centralization.  Education is not something that can or should be standardized.  We like to think that there are certain basics that all kids should know, and there may be, but they are very broad and many must keep the individual child in mind.  In point of fact, that is why we have teachers…to customize and personalize this process of every individual.  Our system of education has been extremely successful when we harness the power of the individual, and not try to fit everyone into the same mold.  I realize with accountability measures, this is a very difficult thing to do.  But it doesn’t get easier when we buy into the idea that we will be left behind if we don’t keep up with the national standards group du jour.   While that may be true, we will never have the opportunity to excel either.  And, I’m afraid, that is the intent.  When we have no risk, we have no chance of failure, but we have no chance of success either.  Centralization removes the flexibility of adaptation and change.  Even if we have the power to change, in a few years, we will lack the ability due to SAT, GED, ACT and textbooks all aligning.  We have to be completely sure that these are the very best standards and that we will NEVER want to change without the rest of the states going along.

Additionally, adopting national or broadly adopted standards has been touted as allowing teachers greater resources.  I have heard this repeated over many years as justification for national or frequently adopted standards.  We have felt slighted in the past for having had our own standards.  However, I hope you understand that in trying to find non-CC textbooks and materials, right now, it is virtually impossible.   You have to order out-of-print materials and lots of things on eBay.  Common Core was officially adopted by 46 state only 5 years ago.  So, while you may have a lot of materials to choose from that are aligned to CC, they are really shades of gray.  Bright colors and pastels no longer exist.  There are no laboratories of education that are trying different ideas and finding success or failure.  There is no compelling free-market interest to create or to continue to supply textbooks and teaching materials to the small private and homeschool market and the 5 states that didn’t sign on to Common Core.  It’s a boon for the textbook suppliers–one set of standards equals one set of teaching materials that can be moved around and modified, but, ultimately, stay the same.  (Bill Gates predicted as much, and was quite excited about it.  Bill Gates at the National Conference of State Legislatures clip on Common Core )  It has been suggested that because of this lack of resources, we MUST align our standards to those of other states.  With all due respect, we will then be hastening the demise of diversity and options.  We are walking directly into that trap and helping set the bait for others.

At the end of the day, each of you has the burden of proof, as our elected representatives, to explain the following to us, the parents and citizens of Utah, for every set of standards that you adopt.
1.) What is lacking in our current set of standards?  Please be specific; don’t just say ‘they need to be updated’.  With all due respect, if our previous standards were based on truth and objective fact, then, unless there have been changes, and science would be one of those areas where I would agree there are probably ‘holes’, there is no need to throw out the objective truth that we are already teaching.  Can we simply ‘tweak’ what we have now?2.) What is the evidence that the proposed set of standards will be able to fill those gaps in our current standards?3.) Have the proposed standards been either pilot-tested (for how long, what were the demographics, what were the metrics used to show improvement) or, as a baseline, benchmarked against other states or countries that we feel confident have been successful with this particular discipline?  (And what are those metrics?)

4.) Taken as a whole, over the course of 13 years, is there a prevailing worldview that emerges, and if so, is that worldview consistent with the diversity and the values of the citizens of this state? Do we seek to provide a broad, general knowledge, without influencing the attitudes, values, and beliefs of our students?

5.) What are the pieces that are missing from the current standards?  For example, the NGSS does not address Life Systems, specifically body systems, or Computer Science.  Climate change is heavily emphasized, but electric circuits are briefly mentioned.  While I appreciate both climate change and electric circuits being taught, it appears, at least to me, that there is an over-emphasis of one at the expense of others.  It is usually easier to find problems in things that exist.  It is much more difficult to take the time to determine what isn’t even there.  (This concept is why the request to point out the standards one doesn’t like doesn’t work.  I can point to those I don’t like, but I can’t point to those that do not exist but should.)

6.) Do the standards seek to obtain compliance of thought, instead of an understanding of the rationale and disagreements involved in controversial or politically charged issues?  This is especially important in science.  If we create a generation of students who believe that all science is not to be questioned, we have failed in our task.  Science is always to be questioned, and refined.  We should be constantly looking for ways to support or to disprove the current knowledge of the day.

7.) Have you looked at some of the available curricular materials, as well as other states’ implementations, to make sure that implementation of these standards, while supposedly wonderful in theory, won’t fall flat in the application?  My past experience with the adoption of new standards and ‘programs’ (over the last decade) has been a trail of grand promises and disappointing results that are always blamed on local districts and teachers.  There has never been, to my knowledge, a set of bad standards.  It’s always, we are told, just poor implementation.  With all due respect, if a set of standards can’t be implemented successfully in at least 51% of the schools, then they should not be adopted, no matter what the claims and promises.  (Please see item #3.)

8.) Is there enough emphasis on fact and foundational knowledge?  There is a trend to focus on the ‘critical thinking’ and to not get bogged down into rote memorization.  While I can appreciate and respect that position, it is impossible to have critical thinking about any issue without the foundational, factual knowledge of the subject.  Especially for children in the early grades who have limited abstraction and limited reasoning skills, are we allowing and encouraging those fact-based pieces of information that will form the foundation for greater understanding later on?

9.)  Will these standards strengthen the parent-child relationship or hinder it?  For example, implementing standards that parents don’t understand, no matter how great they are supposed to be, creates a rift between parent and child.  This is an unacceptable consequence for an education system that is supposed to be secondary and supportive to the primary role of the parent in educating his or her children.  The more involved parents are, the better the academic success of the child.  That is the number one factor in student success… the parent, not the standards.  We need to keep that in mind.

Having attended the Provo meeting last night, I heard a lot of promises and things that sounded really good.  I have heard all those things as they relate to Common Core and Investigations Math.  In both instances, the promises did not materialize.  Please do not adopt standards based on promises.  Please adopt standards based on fact, and knowledge, and proof, not just the opinion of ‘experts’.  Sometimes ‘experts’ are wrong or have their own agendas too.

The burden of proof is not on the people to show that the standards are bad, or wrong, or insufficient.  It is up to you to demonstrate to us that adopting these new standards will provide the opportunity for each, individual student in Utah to live up to their potential, to be free to choose their own direction in life.

Thank you for all the long hours that you spend in our service and your willingness to listen, even when we disagree.  It is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Wendy Hart
Mother of 3
Highland, UT
Board Member, Alpine School District, Alpine/Cedar Hills/Highland
Business Owner

Utah State Office of Education Lies to Legislature and Board about National Common Science Standards Adoption   Leave a comment

You can’t just watch this; you have to act:  email your legislators and school board members and members of the media.

One dog barking does not wake up a town.  Ten thousand barking dogs will.

This short, seven minute video is a powerful documentation that uses the actual voices from recorded audio and video from legislative meetings and school board retreats that show the trail of promises broken and the belittling and bullying happening to our legislators, parents, and teachers by the Utah State Office of Education.

  • You will hear the USOE curriculum director promising an elected school board that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE superintendent promising the Utah legislature that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE representative justifying the adoption of the common science standards and their hiding of the true science standards, giving parents a watered down, fake version –even during the time that USOE has an official “public comment” period happening— with the excuse that parents would find the standards “overwhelming”.

 

Please watch and share.

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