Archive for the ‘Transparency Problems: Why Won’t State Leaders Answer Questions?’ Category

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

 

 

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

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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:

speaker-of-the-house-education-pac-meeting-1

 

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. 

online-debate-schedule-1

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.

alisa vote

boulter

lisa cummins

dr t

Common Core’s National Curriculum Has Arrived: “Learning Registry,” OER, and #GoOpen Initiatives   Leave a comment

Jane Robbins and Jakell Sullivan co-authored this article at Townhall.com, which is reposted here with permission.  Please note the links to learn more.  

 

oer commons

 

In May 2014, conservative columnist George Will warned that Common Core represented the “thin edge of an enormous wedge” and that “sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum.”

Will’s concern is now closer to realization. One lever the U.S. Department of Education (USED) may use to hasten this outcome is the #GoOpen Initiative, through which USED will push onto the states Common Core-aligned online instructional materials. These materials are “openly licensed educational resources” (Open Educational Resources, or OER) – online resources that have no copyright and are free to all users. Utah is part of the initial consortium of states that will be collaborating in #GoOpen.

 

usdoe

#GoOpen is part of a larger global and federal effort to institute OER in place of books and traditional education (in fact, USED appointed a new advisor to help school districts transition to OER). More disturbingly, another part of this scheme increases the federal government’s ability to monitor and track teacher and student use of these online resources – and perhaps even influence the content.

This outcome could result from a related, joint USED-Department of Defense initiative called the Learning Registry. The Registry is an “open-source infrastructure” that can be installed on any digital education portal (such as PBS) and that will facilitate the aggregation and sharing of all the linked resources on the Registry. The idea is to “tag” digital content by subject area and share on one site supposedly anonymous data collected from teacher users (content such as grade-level, recommended pedagogy, and user ratings). That way, Registry enthusiasts claim, teachers can find instructional content to fit their particular needs and see how it “rates.”

Putting aside the question whether USED should push states into a radical new type of instruction that presents multiple risks to students and their education (see here, here, and here), the Learning Registry threatens government control over curriculum. Here’s how.

USED has proposed a regulation requiring “all copyrightable intellectual property created with [USED] discretionary competitive grant funds to have an open license.” So, all online instructional materials created with federal dollars will have to be made available to the Registry, without copyright restrictions.

[Federal law prohibits USED from funding curricular materials in the first place, but this Administration’s violation of federal law has become routine.]

learning registry

The Registry will compile all user data and make “more sophisticated recommendations” about what materials teachers should use. So federal money will fund development of curricular materials that will be placed on a federally supported platform so that the feds can make “recommendations” about their use. The repeated intrusion of the word “federal” suggests, does it not, a danger of government monitoring and screening of these materials.

And speaking of “user data” that will fuel all this, the Registry promises user anonymity. But consider the example of Netflix movie ratings, in which two researchers were able to de-anonymize some of the raters based on extraordinarily sparse data points about them.

Despite Netflix’s intention to maintain user anonymity, its security scheme failed. How much worse would it be if the custodian of the system – in our case, USED – paid lip service to anonymity but in fact would like to know who these users are? Is Teacher A using the online materials that preach climate change, or does he prefer a platform that discusses both sides? Does Teacher B assign materials that explore LGBT issues, or does she avoid those in favor of more classical topics? Inquiring bureaucrats want to know.

In fact, in a 2011 presentation, USED’s bureaucrat in charge of the Registry, Steve Midgley, veered awfully close to admitting that user data may be less anonymous than advertised. Midgley said, “[Through the Registry] we can actually find out this teacher assigned this material; this teacher emailed this to someone else; this teacher dragged it onto a smart board for 18 minutes. . . .” [see video below].  The Registry will also use “the math that I don’t understand which [will] let me know something about who you are and then let me do some mathematical operations against a very large data set and see if I can pair you with the appropriate relevant resource.”

Sure, all this will supposedly be done anonymously. But teachers should hesitate to embrace something that could possibly reveal more about them than they bargained for.

USED would protest that this is all hypothetical, and that it would never abuse its power to influence teachers and control instructional content. But with this most ideological of all administrations, denials of ill intent ring hollow (remember Lois Lerner?). If the power is there, at some point it will be used. Never let an “enormous wedge” go to waste.

 

oer

 


Thank you, Jakell Sullivan and Jane Robbins, for this eye-opening report.

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)

king

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: Dr. Gary Thompson For Utah State School Board: The Dirty Dozen   Leave a comment

In case you missed the rally speeches and missed the Fox News report, here begins a series of posts featuring the speakers at this week’s rally at the state capitol, where Utah voters had the opportunity to hear from candidates for Utah State School Board.

The rally was entitled “Elevating Education:  Common No More”.

Radio host Rod Arquette introduced each school board candidate speaker and the gubernatorial candidate Johnathan Johnson. Each speaker declared that Utah can elevate education beyond the Common Core.

The first video shows Dr. Gary Thompson‘s speech; below is the text version of that speech.   (Other candidates’ speeches will be posted soon.)

Text of Dr. Thompson’s speech:

Communities are judged by how well they treat the most vulnerable children amongst them.

If given the honor of representing parents and teachers as a State Board Member, I will only ask four questions regarding any policies placed in front of me regarding our children and students:

1.  Does the policy conform to industry standard ethical practices?

2.   Does the policy allow ground level parental control and teacher choice?

3.   Are stealth psychological evaluations and data collection being performed on children without your knowledge and informed consent?

4.  Is the policy based on “Voodoo-Pseudo Science”, or independent, peer reviewed research?

Our School Board’s failure to view education policy via these four principles has resulted in 12 dangerous realities in place in Utah public schools:

I call them the “Dirty Dozen”:

1.    Lawmakers recently deemed the SAGE test invalid for teacher evaluations, yet did nothing to protect our most vulnerable children from the same flawed test.

2.   Many Utah Standards are developmentally inappropriate for our younger children.

3.  Not one independent developmental psychologist was active in writing Utah K-3 Educational Standards.

4.  The test used to measure knowledge of Utah Standards, the SAGE test, has never been independently validated to measure academic performance.

5.  Without parental knowledge and informed written consent, Utah schools are collecting our children’s most intimate cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and sociological information.

6.  Utah’s test vendor, AIR, is currently using Utah public school children as “experimental lab rats”, as part of the largest, non consensual, unethical, experimentation ever performed on Utah soil.

7. Performing unethical, experimentation on Utah’s children place many of them at risk for serious emotional, behavioral and cognitive damage.

8.  Common Core special education practices are harmful, not based on sound science, and put our divergent learning students at risk for suicide.  Utah has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the Country.

9.  The Utah State Board of Education does not have effective policies in place requiring technology vendors to follow ethical and privacy guidelines, designed to protect parents and children from exploitation and harm.

10.  Student data security and privacy is a myth.

11.  Utah’s Preschool and Kindergarten programs are not supported by independent, peer-reviewed research.

12.   Utah’s adoption of the Common Core Federal mandate to have ALL Kindergartners reading, as opposed to emphasizing play, is abusive, and flies in the face of 75 years of child developmental research.

Since the advent of Common Core, the Board of Education, and the Utah State Office of Education, have dismissed “The Dirty Dozen” as “dangerous misinformation”, and have accuse parents like me of spreading fear into the community.

Today I draw a line in the sand, and for the sake of my children and Community, I ask State School Board Chairman Dave Crandall to do the same.

The contrasts between us could not be more evident.

One of us will protect your children….
One of us is dangerously wrong.

In Exchange, I challenge Chairman Crandall to publicly acknowledge the existence of “The Dirty Dozen”, as THE most pressing, dangerous assault on parental rights, teacher autonomy, and child safety present in Utah Public Schools.

If Chairman Crandall ignores this,  and ignores this challenge, I believe he is not fit to serve another term representing our children, and I respectfully request for him to immediately drop out of the election.

I ask the next Governor of this State, sitting on this stage;  I ask Governor Johnson to place the destiny of the next generation of children into the hands of local parents and our talented ground level teachers, as opposed to catering to technology special interest groups, who now own many Utah lawmakers.

I ask parents to demand that our education leaders base their decisions on ethics, and the rule of constitutional law, as opposed to agenda based, harmful mandates being forced upon our children via the U.S. Office of Education, and adopted without question by the Utah State Office of Education, and the State Board of Education.

I close from a quote from an American who was buried yesterday in Kentucky, Muhammad Ali. His example and courage inspired my father to pursue a dream of becoming one of America’s first generation of black medical doctors in modern history:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it.

Impossible is not a fact…. It’s an opinion.

Impossible is not a declaration…. It’s a dare.

Impossible is potential…Impossible is temporary….Impossible is nothing.”

Thank you for your time and consideration. May God bless this great, and truly exceptional Nation.”

————-

Dr. Thompson’s campaign website link is here:  http://www.vote4drgary.com/#!Dr-Thompsons-Utah-CapitolTown-Hall-Speech/b8v6m/575b6c780cf24c9615a7f130

Early voting begins tomorrow, and voting ends June 28th.  Please vote wisely.  No elected position in this state affects your children and your family more than the state school board position.

Stop the Herbert Charade: Vote Johnathan Johnson for Governor   2 comments

jj

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.

herbert

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.”

maine

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.

then

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

“User Profiling” by Department of Ed #StopSETRA   5 comments

stealth assessment baby

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.

 

grit

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.

 

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).

 

 

 

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!

Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee from Charlotte Iserbyt: #STOPESEA   1 comment

mike lee

 

Former U.S. Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor Charlotte Iserbyt, patriot, whistleblower, and author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, has written an open letter to Senator Mike Lee of Utah, which is posted with her permission below.  She asks him to follow up on his speech  about the mishandling of the ESEA bill, by working to postpone further votes until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s failure to adhere to Congressional Procedural Laws in regards to this bill.

Please read and share this letter, especially with the most freedom-friendly members of the House of Representatives, whose twitter handles are here.

———————————————————————————

Dear Senator Lee,

You, Senator Lee, appear to be a friend of parents, teachers and plain grassroots Americans who have serious concerns related to the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB).

A significant number of parents and teachers wonder if the most effective way to stop the Reauthorization of ESEA might be for you to request a delay in the House vote Wednesday, December 2, due not to the controversial nature of the bill, but to the circumvention of procedural requirements in passage of all legislation by the Congress.

Concerned parents, teachers and others who have been following the history of this legislation believe there have been important and disturbing irregularities in the normal procedure related to enactment of legislation.

What has transpired since Janary when HR5 was first being considered is itself interesting.

Our first concern was when, in February, Rep. John Kline postponed the House Education Committee vote on HR5 (Student Success Act) knowing he didn’t have enough Republican votes for passage.  His excuse was that an urgent Homeland Security vote took precedence.

We know that Sen. Alexander wanted to move very fast with his version of the Reauthorization of ESEA.  All of us kept wondering when he would get his Senate bill in shape for a Committee vote.  It took Alexander from January to July to feel comfortable in moving ahead, only after Rep. Kline managed to get a five vote majority on HR5 (Student Success Act) in July.  Those of us who watched the House vote on C-SPAN can attest to Kline’s HR5 initially losing by a substantial number of votes.  Suddenly, after the Congressional clock stopped ticking, the necessary five votes for passage came in.  Shouldn’t that be investigated?

We parents and teachers, and other groups opposed to this legislation, ask you to speak out (formally) regarding the Senate and House Education Committee’s not following the procedural rules required for passage of legislation.

You certainly recognized that what happened in the Conference Committee’s handling of the last stages of passage of this bill was illegal, and we thank you so much for making a public statement  in that regard.

 

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah:

“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.”

Could you, Senator Lee, request a postponement of any further votes by the House or Senate until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s strict adherence to Congressional Procedural Laws in regard to the Reauthorization of ESEA?

Such a postponement would allow for not only Congress to have more time and input into the legislation, but for grassroots Americans (not the usual lobbyists who attend all hearings) to  have more time to express our opposition to what we consider legislation which will end forever many of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Constitution.

Thank you very much for whatever consideration you can give to this Open Letter.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

Former Senior Policy Advisor

U.S. Department of Education

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Look Who’s Making #STOPESEA Videos   5 comments

#STOPESEA VIDEOS – More have been added each day, and more will be added as they are made.

If you have made, or are willing to make, a #STOPESEA video, please post a link to it in the comments section below so I can repost it, or you can post it to the YouTube playlist linked here with the hashtag #STOPESEA.

Thank you to all those who are beginning to post their #STOPESEA videos. I know that there will be more.

My husband, a computer guy, used one of his programming metaphors on me when I was remarking to him that I wish I was pro, that I wish I had at least had the time to practice.

He said, “It’s better to make bridge just two lanes wide that actually goes all the way across than an eight lane bridge that only goes a quarter of the way.”  In other words, I (and all of you) are right to post our message before we’ve polished the presentation.

Just do it.

–And please keep calling!  202-224-3121

 

Michelle Malkin’s video is at her facebook page and linked with written highlights here: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/michelle-malkins-stopesea-video/

#STOPESEA News:

You now have to wait on hold as often as not when you call the D.C. capital switchboard to leave a message for your Congressional reps (202-224-3121) and I’m hopeful, so I think that many of those calls are about #STOPESEA.

My rep Senator Chaffetz’ voice mailbox is full and cannot accept any more messages.

I’m not calling Sen. Lee (except to thank him) since I know where he stands on ESEA– with unclouded dedication to principles of liberty, proper representation and due process.

(I like to leave messages for other Congressmen that are out of my state, both the ones I like (Amash) and the ones I half mistrust (Ryan).)

And more people are making #STOPESEA videos.  This means that not only is there a greater possibility that we might impact this vote by pushing this bill out of its secretive, speed-without-debate path (what one videomaker, Jenny Hatch, called adding “the sunshine, the absolute disinfectant of debate“) that this bill so desperately lacks– but it also means that all of our friends are learning why we do what we do, and why they might want to join us.  Think about it:  Every day, big corporations and wealthy factions pay full time lobbyists big bucks to make sure politicians see these bills their way.  We, on the other hand, have nothing.  We are mothers.  We are teachers.  We do not have time or money or connections like the monied lobbies do.

But we have two things they don’t have, things more powerful by far.  One is the mother (or father) bear instinct.  The parental passion is unstoppable.  We love our kids.

The other is dedication that springs from the love we have for American liberty.  That dedication comes from appreciating the freedoms that we, as Year 2015 Americans, can still enjoy– freedoms that millennia of humans through history have not experienced because they were subject to the whims of kings, and not the rule of law like the incomparable U.S. Constitution, which acknowledges God, which acknowledges that we human beings do tend to control, dominate, bully and rob from one another, but by separating the powers of government, by providing representation and rule of law, by using due process of thoughtful debate, and checks and balances– in this way, we leash that dangerous tendency and that is why America has created unparalleled prosperity and peace in this freedom under God.

 

 

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.

Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz on Dept. of Ed Data Mining: “It has become an absolute monster”   4 comments

jason

Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards posted the following incredibly important video of this week’s “Information Security Review” of the US Department of Education which was led by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Please watch it.

Chaffetz opens the discussion (minutes 1-9) showing slides of the US Department of Education getting an “F” in protecting student data –with negative scores across every category.  The students’ vulnerability, Rep Chaffetz says, is huge, not only students but for their parents, because of data collected, for example, in the National Student Loan Database which collects data that families fill out and submit together.

(He doesn’t mention this, but each state’s SLDS system gathers and feeds data from your child’s schoolwork to the state to the feds, too; for example, via the EdFacts Data Exchange.)

Next, Chaffetz says that the Dept. of Education is responsible for 4 billion dollars in improper payments (minute 8:30) which will be discussed in the next hearing in detail (not during this one).

After summarizing the mismanagement of funds and data, Chaffetz summarizes the gargantuan harms of the Department of Education: “It has become a monster, an absolute monster.  We don’t know who’s in there; we don’t know what they’re doing.”

Then, the hearing begins.

Listen at minute 43 to minute 47.  Those four minutes blew my mind.  The US Dept. of Education’s representative, Dr. Harris, nervously skirts having to directly answer the question, at first, of how many databases it holds.  It admits to three.  The chairman says that it has at least 123, but if you count all of the data  contractors, there are countless more.  The only way that the Dept. of Education can say it only has three is by pretending that it is not responsible for, or does not subcontract out, the service, the questioner points out.  And those high numbers of organizations collecting data for the US Dept. of Education mean a high probability that data will be compromised.

Meanwhile, most people believe that student data remains with the teacher and principal; those who do know that there’s a state/federal database believe that it’s a good thing; and they tell me  that my opposition to permitting databases to stalk our kids is baseless, that the Utah State Office of Education does not release individual students’ information and that nonconsensual student data mining could never have a down side.

 

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

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

 

 

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.

————————————————————

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.

Slide026
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   4 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:
————————————————————–
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

 

american mom field

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   1 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.

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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.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

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JOY PULLMAN

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TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

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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.

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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   3 comments

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.

Please Show Up to Push Back on Science Standards at Statewide USOE Meetings Starting TOMORROW   4 comments

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The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members–  is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science.  Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.

 

 

 

You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.

Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS.   To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee.  Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say.  But do your research.  They’ve been caught fibbing more than once.  And they are fibbing now.

So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS)  and why should we take time fight them?

NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide.  Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being.  (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)

As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS.  Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning.  We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested.  That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators.  We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.

It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards.  Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards  to be in Common Core.  It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.

There are important reasons  that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.

And so did Wyoming.

Kansas parents sued the state school board over it.

West Virginia is fighting about it.

It’s a hot topic in many other  states.

But do Utahns even know it’s going on here?  (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?)  The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS!  To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article.  And this one. 

Then come to the meeting.  The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards.  The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.

Parents need to take control of this conversation.

Ask yourself:  1)  Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS?  2)  Do I want national science standards in Utah?

Answer one:  If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.

Answer two:  As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons:  control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).

CONTROL

Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.

If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.

Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged.  We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards.   Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution?  Never.  Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?

Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards.  Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted.  Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.

Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer?  Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.

CONTENT

Know this:  NGSS are neither neutral nor objective.   This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS.  NGSS standards are slanted.

It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards.  This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]

 

So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism.  Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.

Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources;  that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.

Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.

Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors.  If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did.  Please cancel your other plans.  Bring your video cameras if you come.  It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair.  Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens.  If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s  90 day public comment survey link.

Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county.  I don’t know who wrote this email:

 

————————————-

Washington County Email:

“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom.  They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them.  We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home.  We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.

 

It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system.  Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular.  As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world.  They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.

 

We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children.   The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states.  Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee.  We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George).  Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS.  These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.

 

Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”  

 ————————————-

 

USOE Public Feedback Meetings

All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked.  Access through the front side doors.

Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

 

 

Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing   26 comments

opt out 2015

 

 

1.  THE TESTS HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.  It is out of the norm for tests to be given to children that never have been validated in a formal, scientific, peer-reviewed way.  Professor Tienken of Seton Hall University calls this “dataless decision making“.  What does it mean to a mom or dad to hear that no validity report has ever been issued for the SAGE/Common Core tests?  It means that the test is as likely to harm as to help any child.

We would not give our children unpiloted, experimental medicine; why would we give them unpiloted, experimental education?  –And, did you know that Florida bought/rented the SAGE test from Utah, and now Florida points to Utah students as its guinea pigs?  Where was Utah’s parental consent? Is it okay that the youngest, most helpless citizens are compulsory research subjects without the knowledge or consent of their parents?

2.  THE STANDARDS (upon which the test is based) HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.   Building a test on the sandy foundation of unvalidated standards –hoping but not having actual evidence on which to base that hope– that the standards are unquestionably legitimate, means that not only the test but the teaching that leads up to it, is experimental, not time-tested.  The SAGE evaluates teachers and even grades schools (and will close them) based on test scores from this flawed-upon-flawed (not to mention unrepresentative/unconstitutional) system.   Dr. Tienken reminds us that that making policy decisions in this baseless way is “educational malpractice.”

3. THE TESTS UNFAIRLY REDEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EDUCATED.  The tests assume improper authority to enforce the common core and they thus cement this new definition of what education is.  The redefining was not done by educators, but by businessmenfalse philanthropists and politicians. The copyright on the standards for this test ensure that nobody gets any influence in what the standards will look like years from now, except those who hold copyright.  Teachers are pressured, even against their professional judgment, to conform to test-centric standards and curriculum.  Schools can get shut down, teachers can get rewarded, punished or fired, all based on the high stakes test.

4. THE TESTS ARE SECRETIVE.  Parents and teachers may not see test questions, not even years after the test is over.  Last year’s leaked screen shots of the test, taken by a student with her cell phone to show her mother, revealed an unpleasing agenda that asked students to question the value of reading (versus playing video games).  The student who took the photos was told that she was a cheater, was threatened with expulsion; and the teacher who didn’t notice (or stop) the cell phone photography was threatened with job loss.  Members of Utah’s 15-parent SAGE review committee have expressed grave concerns about the quality and content of SAGE, citing “grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.,” but were never shown whether corrections were made to SAGE, prior to its hasty rollout.

5.  TEST ITEM CREATION IS QUESTIONABLE.  SAGE questions were written by two groups: a few hand picked Utah educators, and the psychometricians at the testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is not an academic organization but a behavioral research group.  We don’t know why psychometricians were entrusted to write math and English questions.  And we don’t know what the percentages are– how many SAGE questions come from educators, and how many from AIR’s psychometricians?

6.  THE TEST DISREGARDS ETHICS CODES FOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH TESTING.  As Dr. Gary Thompson has pointed out, behavioral tests are normally governed by strict codes of ethics and test-giving psychologists lose their licenses to practice if they veer from the codes of ethics.

The Utah State Office of Education claims tests do not collect psychological information, but it seems unreasonable to believe the claim.

Consider:

  • Behavioral Indicators” is a phrase that’s been in Utah laws concerning student testing for years.  It’s old news.  Happily, last month, Sen. Aaron Osmond wrote a bill to remove that language.  (Thank you,  Senator Osmond.)  Time will tell if the new law is respected or enforced.
  • Psychometric census” of Utah students was part of the agreement Utah made with the federal government when it applied for and received a grant to build a longitudinal database to federal specifications, (including federal and international interoperability specifications.)  Utah promised in that grant contract to use its Student Strengths Inventory to collect noncognitive data.
  • The test company, AIR, is a behavioral research company that creates behavioral assessments as its primary mission and focus.
  • U.S. Dept of Education reports such as “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” promote collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via tests, encouraging schools to use biometric data collection devices.  I have not seen any of these devices being used in Utah schools, but neither have I seen any evidence that the legislature or our State School Board stand opposed to the Dept. of Education’s report or the advice it gives.
  • The NCES, a federal agency, has a National Data Collection Model which it invites states to follow.  Since Utah has no proper legal privacy protections in place, there is nothing stopping us from accepting the invitation to comply with the Model’s suggestions, which include hundreds of data points including intimate and even belief-based points: religious affiliation, nickname, voting status, bus stop times,  birthdate, nonschool activities, etc.

7.  UTAH’S NEW SCHOOL TURNAROUND LAW WILL SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS OR TAKE THEM OVER –USING SAGE AS JUSTIFICATION.  The bell curve of school-grading uses SAGE as its school-measuring stick; when a certain number of schools (regardless of quality) are inevitably labeled “failing” because of their position on that bell curve, they will be turned over to the state, turned into a charter school, or closed.  These events will alter lives, because of Utah’s belief in and reliance on the illegitimate SAGE test scores.

8.  SAGE TESTS ARE GIVEN ALL YEAR LONG.  These are not just end-of-year tests anymore.  SAGE tests are summative, formative, interim, and practice (assignment based) tests.  The summative (ending) test is given so early in the year that content has not been taught yet.  But it gets tested anyway, and teachers/students/schools get negatively judged, anyway.

9.  OPTING OUT IS ONE WAY TO PROTEST DATA MINING AND TO MINIMIZE IT.  The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) collects daily data on every school child without ever asking for parental consent.   SLDS collects much more than test-gathered data.  The government of Utah will not allow an SLDS opt out.  And since SLDS does not have an opt out provision (while SAGE does) it makes sense to minimize the amount of data mining that’s being done on your child by not taking these tests.

10.  OPTING OUT OF SAGE FIGHTS EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.  The lack of transparency, of fairness, of any shared amendment process or true representation under Common Core and its testing system defies “consent of the governed,” a principle we learned in the Declaration of Independence.  “It is the right [and responsibility] of the people to alter or abolish” governments [or educational programs] destructive of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness –or those that govern without the knowledge of, or consent of, the governed.

I believe that parents now have the right and responsibility to abolish SAGE testing, by refusing to participate.

If you haven’t yet realized that the Utah State Office of Education acts as an unaccountable bully to both the State School Board and to parents/teachers/legislators, please watch this; it is yet more reason to not allow your child to take the SAGE/AIR test, which is a science test as well as English and math:

 

Beware of Stealth Assessment as SAGE replacement

Please beware, however:  The testing opt out movement has grown so huge (outside Utah) that some Utah legislators have decided to hop on the anti-testing bandwagon with an eye toward replacing SAGE with something  from which public school parents can never, ever opt out (unless they home school or use private school).  That’s called embedded testing, or stealth assessment.

Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution to create a task force to study getting rid of SAGE and to replace it with embedded, or stealth assessments, passed in the Utah legislature this year.  That means that it will most likely become law next year.

Opt out of SAGE this year; fight Stealth Assessment next year.

 

———————————————————————————————

 National News Update on Test Opt-Out Movement

provided by Fairtest.org 

We’ve pulled together this special edition of our usually-weekly newsclips because of three huge stories that broke in the past several days.

–  In New York, more than 173,000 students opted out of the first wave of state testing, at least tripling last year’s boycott level.

–  In five states (Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota) computerized Common Core testing systems collapsed in a replay of the widespread technical problems which plagued Florida exams earlier this spring.

Both major developments further undermine the credibility of judgements about students, teachers and schools made on the basis of standardized exam results.

—  And, in Washington DC, the U.S. Senate education committee responded to grassroots pressure for assessment reform by endorsing an overhaul of “No Child Left Behind,” which eliminates most federal sanctions for test scores.  The bill does not go far enough to reversing test misuse and overuse, but it is a step in the right direction

Remember that these updates are posted online at: http://fairtest.org/news/other for your reference and for use in Facebook posts, Tweets, weblinks, etc.


U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Kill “No Child Left Behind,” But High-Stakes Testing Era is Far From Over
http://www.thenation.com/blog/204593/senate-committee-votes-kill-no-child-left-behind-high-stakes-testing-era-isnt-over#
NCLB Reauthorization: A Chance to Right a Wrong That is Hurting Low-Income Children
http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/esea-reauthorization-chance-right-wrong-commentary/

California Large Urban School District Leadership Rebukes Standardized Testing Fixation
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/apr/15/san-diego-schools-rebuke-testing/

Colorado Computerized Testing Shut Down Statewide by “Technical Difficulties”
http://gazette.com/technical-difficulties-cause-statewide-shutdown-of-standardized-testing-in-colorado/article/1549677

Florida
Governor Signs Modest Testing Reductions into Law; Parents and Teachers Promise Escalating Pressure
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article18529547.html
Florida’s New Student Testing Law Should Have Gone Further
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-new-student-testing-law-should-have-gone-further/2225493

Georgia Judge Sentences Educators to Up to Seven Years in Prison for Test Cheating
https://celebrity.yahoo.com/news/pleas-mulled-former-atlanta-educators-test-cheating-scandal-120733406.html

Indiana
Legislators Have Competing Views About Future of State Testing
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/04/15/no-clarity-yet-on-competing-vision-for-indiana-state-testing/#.VTDyTkZLUZw

Michigan
Opt-Out Movement is Starting to Gain Steam
http://www.tctimes.com/news/local_news/opting-out/article_231a679c-e377-11e4-9a4a-53b0b97da9c8.html

Minnesota
Student Assessments Snarled by Computer Crash
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27914106/minnesota-student-assessments-snarled-by-computer-crash

Montana
Cancels Smarter Balanced Testing Mandate After Computer Administration Woes
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2015/04/montana_lets_schools_cancel_smarter_balanced_testing_after_technical_woes.html

Nevada
Common Core Testing Disrupted for Two Days by Computer Problems
http://www.8newsnow.com/story/28811425/nevadas-common-core-testing-halted-for-second-day

New Jersey
More than 15% of 11th Graders Skipped Standardized Test
http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/04/15/new-jersey-nearly-th-graders-skipped-standardized-test/25850117/

New York
Fed-up Parents Revolt Against Testing in Historic Fashion
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/fed-up-parents-revolt-state-standardized-tests-article-1.2185433
Tens of Thousands Boycott New York State Exams, Raising Questions About Test-Based Evaluations
http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=157&sid=34264074&title=thousands-skip-ny-tests-raising-questions-about-evaluations
Track District-by-District Data Here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview?pli=1

North Dakota Testing Plagued by More Computer Glitches
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html

Ohio Panelists Blast Testing at League of Women Voters Forum
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/panelists-relay-school-testing-concerns-at-league-of-women-voters-forum-1.583799

Oklahoma
Schools Struggling to Meet State Requirements for Test Monitors
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/help-wanted-schools-struggling-to-meet-state-requirements-for-test/article_ce65ce4c-28ce-577d-9815-66ee2f0a1631.html

Oregon
House Passes Bill Making it Easier to Opt Out of Tests
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32990672-75/oregon-house-oks-bill-making-it-easier-for-parents-to-opt-out-of-common-core-standardized-tests.html.csp
Oregon District Considers Suspending Common Core Test
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32980118-75/springfield-board-considers-moratorium-on-smarter-balanced-standardized-tests.html.csp

Pennsylvania Sees More Students Opting Out of Standardized Tests, Especially in Philadelphia
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html
Lehigh Valley Opt-Outs on the Rise
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/04/lehigh_valley_pssa_opt_outs_on.html

Texas Parents Speak Out Against STAAR Exams
http://www.connectamarillo.com/news/story.aspx?id=1192443
Texas Principal’s Firing May Stem From Testing Criticism
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20150416-popular-dallas-isd-principal-at-rosemont-elementary-to-lose-her-job.ece

Vermont
School Board Chair Explains Why State Voted to Suspend Use of Smarter Balanced Scores
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/opinion/my-turn/2015/04/16/opinion-vermont-dropped-sbac-testing/25901041/

Washington
State Students Are Right to Fight Testing Requirements
http://www.queenannenews.com/Content/News/Breaking-News/Article/EDITORIAL-Students-right-to-fight-testing-requirements/26/539/37377
Washington Board of Ed Wants to End Biology Exam That Blocks 2,000 From Graduating
http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/scrap-biology-test-or-2000-students-wont-graduate-state-board-of-education-tells-lawmakers/

West Virginia Common Core Testing Off to Rocky Start, “The Logistical Issues Are Terrible
http://wvmetronews.com/2015/04/17/common-core-woes-continue-in-wv/

Wisconsin Opt-Out Movement Gains Ground
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/opt-out-movement-gaining-ground-for-testing-in-madison-schools/article_83c01e97-b2d8-5fbc-b595-ce437251d1b5.html

Computerized Tests Face Major Technical Barriers
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/techtank/posts/2015/04/15-next-generation-assessment-glitches
FairTest Chronology of High-Stakes Computer Test Failures
http://www.fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-2013-2015

No School Turnaround: Unanimous Board Veto Request from Utah’s Largest School District – to Gov Herbert   2 comments

alpine page one veto

alpine page two veto

For  documented articles about why school turnaround is far from an innocuous concept, please read this and this.

Stealth Testing: An Unacceptable Alternative to High Stakes Tests   11 comments

stealth assessment baby

 

Senator Howard Stephenson was right when he said on the Rod Arquette Show  that SAGE tests turn our children into guinea pigs and that SAGE should be abandoned immediately, this very minute.

He was right when he said that it’s educational malpractice to use a beta-test to judge students and teachers and schools.

He was right in saying that it’s unethical to test students in January and February on content that hasn’t even been introduced for that school year yet.

But why was there no mention of privacy –or of parental rights to informed consent?  Why is that not part of his stop-SAGE argument?  Why is the senator pushing back against SAGE/Common Core tests now, when he never has done so before?  He could have helped pass Rep. Anderegg’s student data privacy bill, two years in a row.  He could have done so much to protect our children.  He did not.   The student data privacy bill is, once again, two years in a row, utterly dead in the water.

I do suspect, because of Stephenson’s infatuation with all things technological, that Stephenson is using the anti-SAGE argument to lead listeners toward acceptance of something  just as sinister or worse:  curriculum-integrated tests, also known as “stealth assessments”.   

That’s what’s coming next.  And stealth will hurt, not help, the fight for parental rights and student privacy rights.

A resolution just passed the Utah House of Representatives along these stealth assessment lines, called  HCR7.  The visible intentions of HCR7 are great:  to reduce the amount of time wasted on testing  and reducing test anxiety; to expand the amount of time spent teaching and learning instead of test-prepping.  Its sponsor, Rep. Poulson, explained in a KSL quote: “my family were small farmers and cattlemen, and I know just from that experience that if you spend all of your time weighing and measuring, and not feeding, it causes problems.”

Agreed!  Education for a child’s benefit should be its own end, not just a stepping stone toward the Capital T Tests.

But, but, but.

See line 66.  It wants to “maximize the integration of testing into an aligned curriculum“.  How?

The school system just hides the fact that a test is happening from its students.

The techno-curriculum can suck out a constant stream of personal data from the student’s technology use.  Assignments, projects, and even games can constantly upload academic and nonacademic data about the child, all day every day, into the State Longitudinal Database Systems —and into the hands of third-party technology vendors.

This concept is hot-off-the-press in trendy scholarly journals and books under the name “stealth assessment“.  Stealth is what Pearson (world’s largest educational sales products company)  is very excited about.   Philanthropist-lobbyist Bill Gates has been throwing his money at the stealth assessments movement.  NPR is on board.   (Dr. Gary Thompson warned of the trend as part of his presentation as he exposed the lack of validity studies or ethics in Utah’s SAGE test.  Also read researcher Jakell Sullivan’s article about stealth testing.)

As Dr. Thompson has pointed out, stealth can be honorable and valuable in a private, parentally consented-to, setting:  when a parent asks a trained child psychologist to help heal a hurt child, he/she can analyze a child’s drawings, how a child plays with toys, or how he organizes objects, etc.

The difference is informed consent.

The governmental-corporate machine is suggesting that legislatures force schools to adopt compulsory testing embedded in school curriculum and activities, allowing student data collection to be pulled without informed consent.

Do we want our students to be tested and analyzed and tracked like guinea pigs all day, year after year—  not by teachers, but by third party vendors and the government?

Stealth testing, or “integrated testing” removes the possibility for parental opt-outs.  I’m not for that.  Are you?

Why doesn’t anyone seem to care?   I repeat:  two years in a row Rep. Jake Anderegg’s student data protection bill has gone unpassed.  I cannot understand the legislature’s apathy about privacy rights and the lack of valiant protection of children’s privacy in this data-binging day and age.

I don’t get it.  Someone, tell me why this is not important in a supposedly child-friendly state.  It is known all over the planet that private data is the new gold, the new oil.  Knowledge about individuals is power over them. When someone knows extremely detailed information about individuals, they can can persuade them, influence them, guide them, help them –and control them. Children’s privacy, their data, is gold to corporations and governments. Yet they are not being protected.  Our legislators don’t think it’s important enough.  We can pass bills about every petty thing you can imagine, but we can’t protect our kids from having their gold robbed every single day.  I can’t believe it’s just neglect and busy-ness.  I think it’s greed-based.

Don’t believe it?  Study what the feds have done in recent years to destroy student privacy.  Search Utah code for any mention of students having rights to their own data, or ownership of it; search in vain for any punishment when data is collected without parental consent by schools or third party vendors.  See corporations salivating over taken student data –collected without parental consent by every state’s “State Longitudinal Database System”.

Look at this detailed Knewton interview where the corporation brags about millions of data points —soon to be billions, they brag– of data points, collected thanks to schools, but benefitting the corporate pocketbook:  https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/25/arizona-st-and-knewtons-grand-experiment-adaptive-learning

Watch the Datapalooza event where the same type of talk is going on– absolutely no discussion of parental rights, of privacy rights, of the morality of picking up academic and nonacademic personal information about another person without his/her consent nor parental consent:  https://youtu.be/Lr7Z7ysDluQ

See this recent Politico article that casually discusses Salt Lake City’s Cyber Snoops working for Pearson, tracking our children:   http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html

 

Our elected representatives, from Governor Herbert through Howard Stephenson through Marie Poulson through our state school board, are not demonstrating any respect for parental consent.  By their inaction, they are violating our children’s data privacy.

Utah is volunteering to give away our gold, our children’s private data–  out of naiivete, greed, or tragically misplaced “trust”.

There is only one solution that I can see:  parents,  we are the only ones who really care.  WE CAN SPEAK UP.

We can protect our children by pressuring our elected representatives at the senate, house and state school board.  We can tell elected representatives that our children need and deserve proper data privacy protection.  Tell them that FERPA is broken and we need local protection. Tell them we will not tolerate embedded tests in the daily curriculum and technologies that our children use.

Demand the dignity of privacy for your child.  Say NO to “integrated curriculum and testing”– stealth assessment.    Put these words in  your elected representatives’ inboxes and messaging systems and twitter feeds and ears.  Don’t let it rest.  Be a pest.  Silence is acquiescence.

Children and their private data are not “stakeholder” owned inventory.  Children are not “human capital” to be  tracked and directed by the government.  My child is mine.  He/she has a mission unrelated to fattening up the workforce or serving Prosperity 2020.   I do not think the legislature comprehends that fact.  

Maybe I am not barking loudly enough.  Maybe a hundred thousand parents need to be barking.

I’ll repaste the elected representatives’ email information here.

 

———————————————————————–

Write to the Utah State School Board:    Board@schools.utah.gov

Here are the Utah State Representatives.  

District Representative Party Counties Represented Contact Info
1 Sandall, Scott D. R Box Elder, Cache ssandall@le.utah.gov
435-279-7551
2 Lifferth, David E. R Utah dlifferth@le.utah.gov
801-358-9124
3 Draxler, Jack R. R Cache jdraxler@le.utah.gov
435-752-1488
4 Redd, Edward H. R Cache eredd@le.utah.gov
435-760-3177
5 Webb, R. Curt R Cache curtwebb@le.utah.gov
435-753-0215
6 Anderegg, Jacob L. R Utah janderegg@le.utah.gov
801-901-3580
7 Fawson, Justin L. R Weber justinfawson@le.utah.gov
801-781-0016
8 Froerer, Gage R Weber gfroerer@le.utah.gov
801-391-4233
9 Peterson, Jeremy A. R Weber jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
801-390-1480
10 Pitcher, Dixon M. R Weber dpitcher@le.utah.gov
801-710-9150
11 Dee, Brad L. R Davis, Weber bdee@le.utah.gov
801-479-5495
12 Schultz, Mike R Davis, Weber mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
801-859-7713
13 Ray, Paul R Davis pray@le.utah.gov
801-725-2719
14 Oda, Curtis R Davis coda@le.utah.gov
801-725-0277
15 Wilson, Brad R. R Davis bradwilson@le.utah.gov
801-425-1028
16 Handy, Stephen G. R Davis stevehandy@le.utah.gov
801-979-8711
17 Barlow, Stewart R Davis sbarlow@le.utah.gov
801-289-6699
18 Hawkes, Timothy D. R Davis thawkes@le.utah.gov
801-294-4494
19 Ward, Raymond P. R Davis rayward@le.utah.gov
801-440-8765
20 Edwards, Rebecca P. R Davis beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
801-554-1968
21 Sagers, Douglas V. R Tooele dougsagers@le.utah.gov
435-830-3485
22 Duckworth, Susan D Salt Lake sduckworth@le.utah.gov
801-250-0728
23 Hollins, Sandra D Salt Lake shollins@le.utah.gov
801-363-4257
24 Chavez-Houck, Rebecca D Salt Lake rchouck@le.utah.gov
801-891-9292
25 Briscoe, Joel K. D Salt Lake jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
801-946-9791
26 Romero, Angela D Salt Lake angelaromero@le.utah.gov
801-722-4972
27 Kennedy, Michael S. R Utah mikekennedy@le.utah.gov
801-358-2362
28 King, Brian S. D Salt Lake, Summit briansking@le.utah.gov
801-560-0769
29 Perry, Lee B. R Box Elder, Weber leeperry@le.utah.gov
435-225-0430
30 Cox, Fred C. R Salt Lake fredcox@le.utah.gov
801-966-2636
31 DiCaro, Sophia M. R Salt Lake sdicaro@le.utah.gov
32 Christensen, LaVar R Salt Lake lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
801-808-5105
33 Hall, Craig R Salt Lake chall@le.utah.gov
801-573-1774
34 Anderson, Johnny R Salt Lake janderson34@le.utah.gov
801-898-1168
35 Wheatley, Mark A. D Salt Lake markwheatley@le.utah.gov
801-556-4862
36 Arent, Patrice M. D Salt Lake parent@le.utah.gov
801-889-7849
37 Moss, Carol Spackman D Salt Lake csmoss@le.utah.gov
801-647-8764
38 Hutchings, Eric K. R Salt Lake ehutchings@le.utah.gov
801-963-2639
39 Dunnigan, James A. R Salt Lake jdunnigan@le.utah.gov
801-840-1800
40 Miller, Justin J. D Salt Lake jjmiller@le.utah.gov
801-573-8810
41 McCay, Daniel R Salt Lake dmccay@le.utah.gov
801-810-4110
42 Coleman, Kim R Salt Lake kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
801-865-8970
43 Tanner, Earl D. R Salt Lake earltanner@le.utah.gov
801-792-2156
44 Cutler, Bruce R. R Salt Lake brucecutler@le.utah.gov
801-556-4600
45 Eliason, Steve R Salt Lake seliason@le.utah.gov
801-673-4748
46 Poulson, Marie H. D Salt Lake mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
801-942-5390
47 Ivory, Ken R Salt Lake kivory@le.utah.gov
801-694-8380
48 Stratton, Keven J. R Utah kstratton@le.utah.gov
801-836-6010
49 Spendlove, Robert M. R Salt Lake rspendlove@le.utah.gov
801-560-5394
50 Cunningham, Rich R Salt Lake rcunningham@le.utah.gov
801-722-4942
51 Hughes, Gregory H. R Salt Lake greghughes@le.utah.gov
801-432-0362
52 Knotwell, John R Salt Lake jknotwell@le.utah.gov
801-449-1834
53 Brown, Melvin R. R Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich, Summit melbrown@le.utah.gov
435-647-6512
54 Powell, Kraig R Summit, Wasatch kraigpowell@le.utah.gov
435-654-0501
55 Chew, Scott H. R Duchesne, Uintah scottchew@le.utah.gov
56 Christofferson, Kay J. R Utah kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
801-592-5709
57 Greene, Brian M. R Utah bgreene@le.utah.gov
801-889-5693
58 Cox, Jon R Juab, Sanpete jcox@le.utah.gov
435-851-4457
59 Peterson, Val L. R Utah vpeterson@le.utah.gov
801-224-4473
60 Daw, Brad M. R Utah bdaw@le.utah.gov
801-850-3608
61 Grover, Keith R Utah keithgrover@le.utah.gov
801-319-0170
62 Stanard, Jon E. R Washington jstanard@le.utah.gov
435-414-4631
63 Sanpei, Dean R Utah dsanpei@le.utah.gov
801-979-5711
64 Thurston, Norman K R Utah normthurston@le.utah.gov
385-399-9658
65 Gibson, Francis D. R Utah fgibson@le.utah.gov
801-491-3763
66 McKell, Mike K. R Utah mmckell@le.utah.gov
801-210-1495
67 Roberts, Marc K. R Utah mroberts@le.utah.gov
801-210-0155
68 Nelson, Merrill F. R Beaver, Juab, Millard, Tooele, Utah mnelson@le.utah.gov
801-971-2172
69 King, Brad D Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand bradking@le.utah.gov
435-637-7955
70 McIff, Kay L. R Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevier kaymciff@le.utah.gov
801-608-4331
71 Last, Bradley G. R Iron, Washington blast@le.utah.gov
435-635-7334
72 Westwood, John R. R Iron jwestwood@le.utah.gov
435-586-6961
73 Noel, Michael E. R Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne mnoel@kanab.net
435-616-5603
74 Snow, V. Lowry R Washington vlsnow@le.utah.gov
435-703-3688
75 Ipson, Don L. R Washington dipson@le.utah.gov
435-817-5281

 

Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator.)

 

District Name Email County(ies)
1 Escamilla, Luz (D) lescamilla@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
2 Dabakis, Jim (D) jdabakis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
3 Davis, Gene (D) gdavis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
4 Iwamoto, Jani (D) jiwamoto@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
5 Mayne, Karen (D) kmayne@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
6 Harper, Wayne A. (R) wharper@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
7 Henderson, Deidre M. (R) dhenderson@le.utah.gov Utah
8 Shiozawa, Brian E. (R) bshiozawa@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
9 Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R) wniederhauser@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
10 Osmond, Aaron (R) aosmond@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
11 Stephenson, Howard A. (R) hstephenson@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
12 Thatcher, Daniel W. (R) dthatcher@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Tooele
13 Madsen, Mark B. (R) mmadsen@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
14 Jackson, Alvin B. (R) abjackson@le.utah.gov Utah
15 Dayton, Margaret (R) mdayton@le.utah.gov Utah
16 Bramble, Curtis S. (R) curt@cbramble.com Utah, Wasatch
17 Knudson, Peter C. (R) pknudson@le.utah.gov Box Elder, Cache, Tooele
18 Millner, Ann (R) amillner@le.utah.gov Davis, Morgan, Weber
19 Christensen, Allen M. (R) achristensen@le.utah.gov Morgan, Summit, Weber
20 Jenkins, Scott K. (R) sjenkins@le.utah.gov Davis, Weber
21 Stevenson, Jerry W. (R) jwstevenson@le.utah.gov Davis
22 Adams, J. Stuart (R) jsadams@le.utah.gov Davis
23 Weiler, Todd (R) tweiler@le.utah.gov Davis, Salt Lake
24 Okerlund, Ralph (R) rokerlund@le.utah.gov Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Wayne
25 Hillyard, Lyle W. (R) lhillyard@le.utah.gov Cache, Rich
26 Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R) kvantassell@le.utah.gov Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch
27 Hinkins, David P. (R) dhinkins@le.utah.gov Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch
28 Vickers, Evan J. (R) evickers@le.utah.gov Beaver, Iron, Washington
29 Urquhart, Stephen H. (R) surquhart@le.utah.gov Washington

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Gary Thompson’s $100,000 Reward For SAGE Common Core Test Validity Reports   34 comments

 

 

100k2

 

 

Last year, on behalf of Early Life Child Psychology and Education Center, Dr. Gary Thompson offered $100,000.00 to the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) for validity reports for Utah’s SAGE Common Core test.

He made the offer after Associate Superintendent Judy Park made a public statement regarding the validity of SAGE which Dr. Thompson knew to be false.  He knew that test makers such as American Institutes for Research (AIR)  or Pearson routinely provide validity reports to psychologists in the private sector, because by law and ethics, they know the tests can’t be used otherwise.

Dr. Thompson gave the USOE a 24-hour deadline to forward to his clinic some certified copies of industry-standard validity reports prepared by AIR.  Such reports would show the test’s construct validity, criterion validity, content validity, concurrent validity, and predictive validity.

In exchange for copies of the reports, Early Life Corp would donate $50,000.00 to a public school of USOE’s choice, plus an additional $50,000.00 to the 2014-15 Utah Public School Teacher of the Year.  He sent the offer directly to Dr. Judy Park and to some of the Utah State School Board members; he also posted the offer on his personal Facebook page, the clinic’s Facebook page, and on the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook page.

The offer was quickly big news among those who follow the Common Core Initiative’s unfolding saga nationwide.  Six clinicians and partners of Early Life, including the CEO who happens to be Dr. Thompson’s wife, were not happy about the offer.  That night was a sleepless one for them and Dr. Thompson was consigned to the couch for the night by the CEO.  Still, Dr. Thompson slept like a baby.  Why?

Here’s a little bit of history:

Right after his appearance on the Glenn Beck TV show, where Dr. Thompson had exposed the Common Core/SAGE test’s assault on student privacy and its unanswered validity questions, Dr. Thompson had been summoned to the offices of then-Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove and Associate Superintendent Brenda Hales.  He accepted the invitation, bringing along his clinic’s lawyer and his best friend, Edward D. Flint.

During the two and a half hour meeting, Dr. Thompson and Ed Flint first sat and listened to “Brenda Hales’ hour-long lecture about ‘the Standards'”.  Dr. Thompson finally explained, when she was finished speaking, that academic standards were not Thompson/Flint’s area of expertise and that the subject was of no interest to them on any level.

Next, Menlove/Hales listened to Thompson/Flint.  The doctor and the lawyer explained the fundamentals of test validity issues and data gathering, and expressed their concerns about privacy and testing issues, laying out a careful analysis of how easily potential violations could occur under Common Core’s tests.

Menlove/Hales dismissed their concerns as “conspiracy theories” and requested that Thompson/Flint “stop bringing fear into our community via social media”.  Thompson and Flint promised to cease speaking of their concerns if Menlove and Hales would agree to contact AIR to provide documentation that the concerns were unwarranted.

Dr. Menlove agreed.

Weeks later, still having seen no validity reports, Dr. Thompson finally received a phone call –from a parent, who had noticed an AIR letter posted  on the USOE webpage.  The letter was directed to Dr. Menlove from AIR Vice President Jon Cohen; it purported to address the concerns of Mr. Flint and Dr. Thompson, using their names.

AIR Vice President Jon Cohen failed to actually respond to the pointed, specific concerns that had been submitted in writing to Dr. Menlove.  (Read those here.)

What he did do is attempt to give AIR a pat on the back by sharing a link to what was meant to go to a national nonprofit disabilities organization, one that would vouch for the test verbally (not with any validity studies or reports).  Yet –incredibly– when one click’s on the AIR Vice President’s link, one is linked to a vacation spot on Catalina Island.

It’s been two years since AIR’s defense of validity letter was posted on the USOE website, and still no correction has been made.

Why haven’t the newspapers reported that the validity of Utah’s SAGE test is proved with a link to a Catalina Island website?  This singular error (I’m assuming, hoping it was an error) and it’s now two-year uncorrected status speaks tragic volumes about the lack of professionalism of the SAGE, the USOE and the AIR Corporation.  (AIR has received at least $39 million so far for its testing service, from Utah taxpayers.)

Dr. Thompson was not amused by AIR’s error.  He shared this story in multiple, filmed presentations in four different states.  Audiences and parents were stunned.

 

This is news.  Why is it not in the papers?  When AIR had the perfect opportunity to silence “misinformed” critics by putting the issue to rest with actual validity tests, the company produced no reports of any tests, just a short  letter that said nothing.

Multiple calls to Dr. Menlove’s office and to his personal cell phone were never returned.  Months later both Dr. Menlove and Brenda Hales abruptly resigned with no explanations given.

It had become clear to Dr. Thompson that the SAGE test was designed to assess both academic and psychological constructs.  Dr. Thompson knew from his direct doctoral residency experience and from his academic training in assessment that no test of this kind had ever been devised in the history of clinical psychology. With knowledge of the extreme experimental nature of the test it was his logical assumption that AIR’s efforts were devoted to the construction of the test and could not have concurrently designed an entirely new method of measuring validity; providing validity reports is a time-consuming and extremely expensive task. (He notes that AIR and other Common Core test makers must have been thrilled to oblige when “client” Secretary Arne Duncan gave them the opportunity to devise a huge test without requiring the normally expensive and very time-consuming validity tests.)

It’s common knowledge, thanks to the USOE, that AIR was the only company that was federally approved; thus, the only company Utah could have chosen once it dumped its SBAC membership.  The USOE has explained, “AIR is currently the only vendor who produces a summative adaptive assessment that has received federal approval.”

No one really knows– outside of the few AIR psychometricians and V.P. Jon Cohen– exactly what the Utah SAGE test (which is now also used outside Utah)  measures.  After two years of studying the issue, Dr. Thompson surmises that AIR has devised one of the most complex, accurate measures of personality characteristics ever made.  Dr. Thompson believes that behavioral testing was AIR’s contractual goal and that SAGE reached that goal.

Support for Dr. Thompson’s conclusion is easy to find.  As one example, scan the federal report entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance“.  It openly promotes schools’ collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via behavioral assessment.  (See page 44 to view biometric data collection device photos: student mood meters, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors, etc.)  Utah’s own documents, such as the grant application for the State Longitudinal Database System, reveal that noncognitive assessment, including psychometric census-taking of Utah students, were part of the state’s agreement with the federal government even before the Common Core Initiative had come to our state.

As for the SAGE test’s academics, Dr. Thompson points out that barring independent, peer-reviewed documentation, it is not possible to honestly claim that SAGE measures what it claims to measure– academics– in a valid manner.  Dr. Thompson puts it this way:  “There is no way in hell that the AIR-produced SAGE/Common Core test measures academic achievement in a valid manner, and quite probably, does not measure academics at all.”

 

Dr_GARY-550x400

Dr. Gary Thompson and his family

 

 

Postscript:  For more opt-out-of-SAGE-tests motivation please read the testimonies of parents who served on Utah’s SAGE “validation committee”.  They read the SAGE questions last year and are now speaking out.

Utah Governor: Please Veto SB 235. Please Pass HB 360   1 comment

american mom field

 

The State School Board of Utah meets tomorrow and will discuss SB 235 (bad bill) and HB 360 (great bill).  They apparently want the good one vetoed.  Too much liberty for teachers; too much distance between Utah and Common Core.  It’s an open meeting; come and see.

The board doesn’t like this freedom-saving bill.  But the Utah legislature did like it; HB 360 passed both houses and should be signed into law by the governor next week.    Unless he vetoes, swayed by the school board…

Please email them:  Board@schools.utah.gov

 

Dear State School Board,

I want to give input on two bills that you will be recommending for veto or signing to our governor.

  • HB 360 is a good bill for teachers’ autonomy, parental input and local control.  Please do not ask for a veto.  This is a good, constitutional bill.  Parents and teachers want autonomy and this bill creates space for it.  I see no reason to veto this bill.  If this board does recommend a veto, I would like to know why each board member voted as he/she did on the issue.
  • SB 235, on the other hand, is a terrible bill that punishes schools with unvalid labels of “failing” based on the controversial SAGE tests and on an unfair bell curve, so that some are forced to failregardless; it punishes schools with high parental opt-out rates and falsely labels them “failing” and then it forces these “failing” schools to take an “expert” to create “turnaround” that will likely be based on the Obama/Gates Turnaround Model.
For detailed, annotated research on SB 235, see two articles:
1.  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/utah-legislature-adopts-obamas-model-for-turnaround-schools/
2.  http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sb235-effectively-federalized-utahs-education-system-and-federalization-is-anti-family/
Please consider these important bills very, very carefully before you make recommendations to our Governor.
Christel Swasey

—————————————————————–

Here’s the link for Governor Herbert’s electronic messages to ask for that SB 235 veto:    http://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/

Here are the Utah Representatives.  Ask them to contact the Governor too:  (write more than just your own rep.)

District Representative Party Counties Represented Contact Info
1 Sandall, Scott D. R Box Elder, Cache ssandall@le.utah.gov
435-279-7551
2 Lifferth, David E. R Utah dlifferth@le.utah.gov
801-358-9124
3 Draxler, Jack R. R Cache jdraxler@le.utah.gov
435-752-1488
4 Redd, Edward H. R Cache eredd@le.utah.gov
435-760-3177
5 Webb, R. Curt R Cache curtwebb@le.utah.gov
435-753-0215
6 Anderegg, Jacob L. R Utah janderegg@le.utah.gov
801-901-3580
7 Fawson, Justin L. R Weber justinfawson@le.utah.gov
801-781-0016
8 Froerer, Gage R Weber gfroerer@le.utah.gov
801-391-4233
9 Peterson, Jeremy A. R Weber jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
801-390-1480
10 Pitcher, Dixon M. R Weber dpitcher@le.utah.gov
801-710-9150
11 Dee, Brad L. R Davis, Weber bdee@le.utah.gov
801-479-5495
12 Schultz, Mike R Davis, Weber mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
801-859-7713
13 Ray, Paul R Davis pray@le.utah.gov
801-725-2719
14 Oda, Curtis R Davis coda@le.utah.gov
801-725-0277
15 Wilson, Brad R. R Davis bradwilson@le.utah.gov
801-425-1028
16 Handy, Stephen G. R Davis stevehandy@le.utah.gov
801-979-8711
17 Barlow, Stewart R Davis sbarlow@le.utah.gov
801-289-6699
18 Hawkes, Timothy D. R Davis thawkes@le.utah.gov
801-294-4494
19 Ward, Raymond P. R Davis rayward@le.utah.gov
801-440-8765
20 Edwards, Rebecca P. R Davis beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
801-554-1968
21 Sagers, Douglas V. R Tooele dougsagers@le.utah.gov
435-830-3485
22 Duckworth, Susan D Salt Lake sduckworth@le.utah.gov
801-250-0728
23 Hollins, Sandra D Salt Lake shollins@le.utah.gov
801-363-4257
24 Chavez-Houck, Rebecca D Salt Lake rchouck@le.utah.gov
801-891-9292
25 Briscoe, Joel K. D Salt Lake jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
801-946-9791
26 Romero, Angela D Salt Lake angelaromero@le.utah.gov
801-722-4972
27 Kennedy, Michael S. R Utah mikekennedy@le.utah.gov
801-358-2362
28 King, Brian S. D Salt Lake, Summit briansking@le.utah.gov
801-560-0769
29 Perry, Lee B. R Box Elder, Weber leeperry@le.utah.gov
435-225-0430
30 Cox, Fred C. R Salt Lake fredcox@le.utah.gov
801-966-2636
31 DiCaro, Sophia M. R Salt Lake sdicaro@le.utah.gov
32 Christensen, LaVar R Salt Lake lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
801-808-5105
33 Hall, Craig R Salt Lake chall@le.utah.gov
801-573-1774
34 Anderson, Johnny R Salt Lake janderson34@le.utah.gov
801-898-1168
35 Wheatley, Mark A. D Salt Lake markwheatley@le.utah.gov
801-556-4862
36 Arent, Patrice M. D Salt Lake parent@le.utah.gov
801-889-7849
37 Moss, Carol Spackman D Salt Lake csmoss@le.utah.gov
801-647-8764
38 Hutchings, Eric K. R Salt Lake ehutchings@le.utah.gov
801-963-2639
39 Dunnigan, James A. R Salt Lake jdunnigan@le.utah.gov
801-840-1800
40 Miller, Justin J. D Salt Lake jjmiller@le.utah.gov
801-573-8810
41 McCay, Daniel R Salt Lake dmccay@le.utah.gov
801-810-4110
42 Coleman, Kim R Salt Lake kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
801-865-8970
43 Tanner, Earl D. R Salt Lake earltanner@le.utah.gov
801-792-2156
44 Cutler, Bruce R. R Salt Lake brucecutler@le.utah.gov
801-556-4600
45 Eliason, Steve R Salt Lake seliason@le.utah.gov
801-673-4748
46 Poulson, Marie H. D Salt Lake mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
801-942-5390
47 Ivory, Ken R Salt Lake kivory@le.utah.gov
801-694-8380
48 Stratton, Keven J. R Utah kstratton@le.utah.gov
801-836-6010
49 Spendlove, Robert M. R Salt Lake rspendlove@le.utah.gov
801-560-5394
50 Cunningham, Rich R Salt Lake rcunningham@le.utah.gov
801-722-4942
51 Hughes, Gregory H. R Salt Lake greghughes@le.utah.gov
801-432-0362
52 Knotwell, John R Salt Lake jknotwell@le.utah.gov
801-449-1834
53 Brown, Melvin R. R Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich, Summit melbrown@le.utah.gov
435-647-6512
54 Powell, Kraig R Summit, Wasatch kraigpowell@le.utah.gov
435-654-0501
55 Chew, Scott H. R Duchesne, Uintah scottchew@le.utah.gov
56 Christofferson, Kay J. R Utah kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
801-592-5709
57 Greene, Brian M. R Utah bgreene@le.utah.gov
801-889-5693
58 Cox, Jon R Juab, Sanpete jcox@le.utah.gov
435-851-4457
59 Peterson, Val L. R Utah vpeterson@le.utah.gov
801-224-4473
60 Daw, Brad M. R Utah bdaw@le.utah.gov
801-850-3608
61 Grover, Keith R Utah keithgrover@le.utah.gov
801-319-0170
62 Stanard, Jon E. R Washington jstanard@le.utah.gov
435-414-4631
63 Sanpei, Dean R Utah dsanpei@le.utah.gov
801-979-5711
64 Thurston, Norman K R Utah normthurston@le.utah.gov
385-399-9658
65 Gibson, Francis D. R Utah fgibson@le.utah.gov
801-491-3763
66 McKell, Mike K. R Utah mmckell@le.utah.gov
801-210-1495
67 Roberts, Marc K. R Utah mroberts@le.utah.gov
801-210-0155
68 Nelson, Merrill F. R Beaver, Juab, Millard, Tooele, Utah mnelson@le.utah.gov
801-971-2172
69 King, Brad D Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand bradking@le.utah.gov
435-637-7955
70 McIff, Kay L. R Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevier kaymciff@le.utah.gov
801-608-4331
71 Last, Bradley G. R Iron, Washington blast@le.utah.gov
435-635-7334
72 Westwood, John R. R Iron jwestwood@le.utah.gov
435-586-6961
73 Noel, Michael E. R Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne mnoel@kanab.net
435-616-5603
74 Snow, V. Lowry R Washington vlsnow@le.utah.gov
435-703-3688
75 Ipson, Don L. R Washington dipson@le.utah.gov
435-817-5281

 

Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator):

 

District Name Email County(ies)
1 Escamilla, Luz (D) lescamilla@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
2 Dabakis, Jim (D) jdabakis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
3 Davis, Gene (D) gdavis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
4 Iwamoto, Jani (D) jiwamoto@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
5 Mayne, Karen (D) kmayne@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
6 Harper, Wayne A. (R) wharper@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
7 Henderson, Deidre M. (R) dhenderson@le.utah.gov Utah
8 Shiozawa, Brian E. (R) bshiozawa@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
9 Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R) wniederhauser@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
10 Osmond, Aaron (R) aosmond@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
11 Stephenson, Howard A. (R) hstephenson@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
12 Thatcher, Daniel W. (R) dthatcher@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Tooele
13 Madsen, Mark B. (R) mmadsen@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
14 Jackson, Alvin B. (R) abjackson@le.utah.gov Utah
15 Dayton, Margaret (R) mdayton@le.utah.gov Utah
16 Bramble, Curtis S. (R) curt@cbramble.com Utah, Wasatch
17 Knudson, Peter C. (R) pknudson@le.utah.gov Box Elder, Cache, Tooele
18 Millner, Ann (R) amillner@le.utah.gov Davis, Morgan, Weber
19 Christensen, Allen M. (R) achristensen@le.utah.gov Morgan, Summit, Weber
20 Jenkins, Scott K. (R) sjenkins@le.utah.gov Davis, Weber
21 Stevenson, Jerry W. (R) jwstevenson@le.utah.gov Davis
22 Adams, J. Stuart (R) jsadams@le.utah.gov Davis
23 Weiler, Todd (R) tweiler@le.utah.gov Davis, Salt Lake
24 Okerlund, Ralph (R) rokerlund@le.utah.gov Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Wayne
25 Hillyard, Lyle W. (R) lhillyard@le.utah.gov Cache, Rich
26 Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R) kvantassell@le.utah.gov Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch
27 Hinkins, David P. (R) dhinkins@le.utah.gov Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch
28 Vickers, Evan J. (R) evickers@le.utah.gov Beaver, Iron, Washington
29 Urquhart, Stephen H. (R) surquhart@le.utah.gov Washington

 

Please write or call!  This is still America and not every legislator is bought by lobby money.  Some actually do listen to constituents.We should act –even if we act alone.  If we each act on conscience, rather than failing to act, for fear of failure, we might be winning many more battles.

A war over children’s lives and schooling and privacy rights is being waged, far under the radar of most people’s daily lives– but even those who know it’s going on, often fail to act.  Keep acting, even if it appears there is no hope.  Please join me if you can.

–And by the way, there is real hope!

  • The powerful Utah Educators’ Association (UEA) was also opposed to SB 235.  So were key Utah Democrats.  Some of the conservatives who actually voted for SB 235 now regret it.

Many people have written to the governor on this issue, pleading for a veto.

  • HB 360 already successfully PASSED both legislative houses, so it has the support of our elected reps.  There’s no reason anyone would want it vetoed, that I can see, except if they are being paid (in money or in power) by “the machine”.

 

 

herbert

 

I sometimes think that we would be better off if we had an obvious wolf for a Governor.

If we had an obvious wolf, people would be paying very close attention to what he was doing.  But Governor Herbert uses conservative language while he passes rascally progressive bills and initiatives and blocks conservative ones.

Most of Utah pays no real attention.  Many assume that the conservative-sounding speech they heard him make on the campaign trail matches his actions today.

But this is not the case.  He’s a key member of the Common Core creation team at NGA/CCSSO and he’s a proud promoter of Prosperity 2020, the cradle-to-workforce program that puts the economy first (not children) and puts businesses, not moms, dads and teachers, in positions of power over schools.  He is not about to fight his own machine.  The only thing he might fear is losing re-election.  This is why I have a little bit of  faith that letters asking him to veto SB 235 and asking him to pass HB 360,  might, in great numbers, have influence on him –only for his re-election hopes.  If he does just the opposite of what we are asking, and passes SB 235 and vetoes HB 360, let’s at least not let him do it too quietly and without pushback.  We still have about a week until it’s too late to veto or to pass these bills into law.

 

 

 

Source-Focused Analysis of Common Core Starts Here: An Updated Syllabus   8 comments

Original source documents arm honest people who want to know the truth about Common Core to take back the reins of control.

This is important because proponents are increasing false advertisements about Common Core.  They’re also hiding the Common Core Inititative under different names, such as “Utah Core” or  “Indiana Core“.  Unfortunately, well intentioned people whom we trust to tell us the truth often simply don’t know the whole story.  It is up to us to find out for ourselves.

Please go go directly to source documents to fact-check claims being made by proponents of Common Core.

(This slightly updated syllabus was shared in a previous  post.  It is republished today because Alisa, Renee and I are speaking in Vernal tonight and we want to point our Vernal friends to solid information.  If anyone wants to come to the meeting tonight, you are welcome.  There is, of course, no charge and the event begins at 7:00.)

Link to tonight’s Vernal, Utah, meeting:   204 E 100 N, Vernal, UT 84078  (435) 789-0091

 

 

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 A Source-Focused Analysis of the Common Core Initiative

  1. The General Educational Provisions Act – This law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising education:  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…” The Dept. of Education, by forming multiple  official partnerships with corporate America, has gotten away with breaking this law.
  2. U.S. Constitution – Amendment 10 – “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 disregard by the Dept. of Education for the authority and diversity of individual states’ educational pathways must be stopped.
  3. Utah’s Race to the Top Grant Application– Utah got points from the federal government for having a SLDS database system. (This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge.  There’s no legal opt-out for SLDS child inventorying.  Corporations, in partnership with state SLDS systems, collect millions of data points on children, without parental consent. ) Also in the Race to the Top Grant Application document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got in. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.
  4. The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.  So states are allowed to add frosting and sprinkles to state standards, but they have no say in what goes into the cake itself.
  5. The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can and probably should opt out of Common Core tests, however.)
  6. The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains that parental consent is a best practice, not a mandate, prior to data sharing; it shows that terms were redefined, that personally identifiable information, including biometrics, can be shared, and that agencies have legal access to private data of students.
  7. The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no real control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.
  8. The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that forced redistribution of wealth is a main reason for the national education system.
  9. The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., is partnered with SBAC. This document shows clearly the mandates for synchronizing tests and sharing student data to mesh testing companies with federal aims and agents.  Its only claim to binding authority is money.
  10. The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Standards were Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.  Also, the speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.
  1. The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also pushes for global data and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which he calls “irreversible reform”.
  2. The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” and he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children and all schools.
  3. The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards. He’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly altered the quality and liberty of classrooms. As he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of standards.
  4. The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators are sought by the federal government. They may include monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic, mid-report.)
  5. Federal data collection websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which includes intimate, personally identifiable information. See Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.  The EIMAC/CCSSO link also shows the official partnership of the federal government with corporate Common Core.
  1. The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards. Here you will see Common Core calling itself a “living work” meaning that what Common Core is today, will not remain. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in altering the commonly held standards because they’re under private copyright. See a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.
  2. See academic testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors have also testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.  See in contrast the motive of Common Core promoters such as Marc Tucker of the Center for American Progress who report that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.  …[N]ew authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”
  3. Federal Definition of College and Career Ready Standards – the federal government hides the phrase “common core” from public view by using the term “college and career ready standards” in its documents.  Know that they are the same thing.
  4. Common Educational Data Standards – The same private groups (NGA/CCSSO) that created Common Core have also created Common Educational Data Standards, so that student data mining and citizen tracking is interoperable and easy.  Coupled with the breakdown of family privacy law (federal FERPA, altered by the Dept. of Education) we see that children’s data lacks proper protections, and that students are being used as compulsory, unpaid  research objects.
  5. Follow the money trails – Study what advocacy and development of common standards Bill Gates has paid for; see how his unelected philanthropy affects education and its governance, and see how his partnerships with Pearson, with the United Nations and others monopolize the U.S. and global education markets, excluding voters as public-private partnerships make decisions, instead of voters or elected representatives such as school boards or legislators making decisions.

american mom

Federal Control of Technology and Data: On “Internet Neutrality,”the ConnectEd Initiative, and SETRA   8 comments

How will President Obama’s multiple initiatives increase federal control over American technology and data mining –and how will these initiatives affect children?

There are several new initiatives to consider.

I.  NET NEUTRALITY

Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Obama-approved definition of “Internet Neutrality.”  Proponents made it sound as if “neutrality” meant openness and freedom for individuals, but the ruling increases federal power over the internet.

The notion that fairness and neutrality should be government-defined and government-enforced makes me roll my eyes. The term “net neutrality” sounds just like Harrison Bergeron, with the FCC playing the part of the Handicapper General to enforce equality by handicapping achievers and punishing success.

So now that the federal government has increased power to define and enforce its one definition of neutrality, how will this advance the goals of Obama’s ConnectED initiative?  Will “neutrality” aim, like ConnectEd aims, to strap tax dollars and children’s destinies in education to Bill Gates’ philosophies and coffers?  I ask this in light of Microsoft’s alignment with the FCC’s ruling, Microsoft’s celebrated discounting of common core-aligned ed tech products and Microsoft’s promotion of ConnectED.  Add to that question this fact: Microsoft’s owner, Gates, funded the Role of Federal Policy report, which found (surprise, surprise) that the power of federal groups, to “research” children/education without restraint, should be increased using ESRA reauthorization.  More on that below.

How does all of this work with the SETRA bill’s student data collection goals?

II.  CONNECT-ED

First, a quick ConnectEd review:  Obama is bringing the now-neutralized internet to all schools while behaving very non-neutrally himself: he’s officially favoring and partnering with Microsoft/Bill Gates/Common Core so the uniform customer base (children) will only receive the One Correctly Aligned Education Product (and likely will thank Gates for what they see as kindness, deep discounts).  Microsoft’s website explains: “Partnering with the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, we’re helping provide technology for education, at a fraction of the cost.”  Pearson, Inc. is doing the same thing here and here and here to lay those near-irreversible foundations for the future.

What Microsoft, Pearson and ConnectEd are doing could be compared to offering free or discounted train tracks to your city.  They’re fancy tracks, but customized to fit one sort of train only.  By accepting the offer, you are automatically limited to using only the kinds of trains made to run on your new tracks.

States and schools ought to be saying “no, thanks” to Gates and Pearson if we want to have the freedom to later use education and ed technology that might be Common Core-free.

(As an important aside: one of the stated aims of Obama’s ConnectEd is to catch up to South Korea where “all schools are connected to the internet… all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”  I’ll never join the chorus of “Let die traditional, print books”.  But ConnectED has. )

The Internet has been, until now, unregulated by the federal government.  It’s been free.   The controllistas think of free as “unfair,” however.

“The main excuse for implementing the new invasions is the statists’ favorite complaint: Internet service providers ‘discriminate’  …[F]acilitators seeking to benefit from less competition, such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix,  ought to be beige in color, have identical horsepower, the same number of doors, and get the same gas mileage no matter how far or fast they may be driven” (from Bob Adelman, New American Magazine).

In the FCC’s ruling, Bob Adelmann pointed out, there’s been dramatic change without  transparent vetting.  Adelmann wrote, three days ago: “On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet. Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document … [was] demanded by President Obama… he told FCC … to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.”

 

 

WHY?

 

Why was Obama bent on getting the “strongest possible rules” to control the Internet– and why did he confuse people by calling this move one toward openness and freedom?  I don’t know why.

The “why” is not so important.

What matters most now is that Americans recognize that he is, in fact, aiming for ever increasing control at the expense of our freedoms, and that he’s partnered with private corporations who share his aims.  History teaches that many people seek to control other people; whether for kindly intentioned or malicious intentioned reasons, they always have and always will.  That’s why our Constitution is so sacred.  It protects individuals from others’ controlling tendencies by decentralizing power.

Government-imposed equality, or “neutrality,” is a theme Obama has promoted in many ways prior to yesterday’s “Net Neutrality” punch.

  1. Think of common “College and Career Ready Standards” –a.k.a Common Core, which his administration promoted to U.S. governors –and reported about to the U.N.— in 2009-10: “President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments,” said Secretary Duncan.
  2. Think of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) for all students and for every state database, data standards which his administration partnered in creating.
  3. Think of his administration’s funding and promotion of common SLDS state databases that now track and grade the nation’s schools, teachers and students using interoperable systems and common, national data models.
  4. Think of federally-promoted, aligned testing for all states and students.  Same, same, same.

Match that to the speeches of Bill Gates  about building the uniform customer base of students using Common Core.

In each of the Obama-promoted, standardizing measures, no one may soar.  No one is allowed to meander into creative or superior or innovative paths because of that devoted mindset: no failure– not allowing anyone freedom, if that includes the freedom for some to fail.  This commonizing of the masses under the banner of “fair and equal” once upon a time used to be called communism, but that’s not a politically correct term anymore.  You can’t even call it socialism.  Instead, the p.c. terms are “social justice”  or “playing fair.”  I call it theft.  Legalized plunder.

And it’s never actually fair: There is nothing fair about elites centralizing power to take freedom from individuals.  Also, for those who decide that they are above the law there are exceptions; the ruling elite still get to choose.

When I say, “elites centralize power to take freedom from individuals,” I don’t mean metaphorically or theoretically.  It’s real.  It’s no theory.  The micromanagement of schools, children, teachers to minimize parental “interference” and parental “opportunity” is a large and extremely well oiled machine.

On its federal hand, there’s the Obama Administration’s “National Education Technology Plan“.  On its private, corporate hand, there’s the Bill-Gates-led “Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research,” explained out a report written by Aspen Institute and funded by the Gates Foundation.  It says, “there is a broad consensus that federal investment in education research, development, and dissemination is vital” and “the pending reauthorization of ESRA creates new opportunities to better harness the tremendous research capacity we have in America to turn broad consensus into broad benefit,” and even: “the Obama Administration has proposed to create a new unit of ED, called ARPA-ED, that would be analogous to the high-profile Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Department of Defense. ”

III. SETRA – The Reauthorization of ESRA

We need to study the “pending reauthorization of ESRA” that hopes to “harness” students’ data.  The SETRA bill now on-deck, bill S227, is the data collection bill that American Principles Project  warned America about in a press release.  SETRA is a direct answer to what the both the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research and the National Education Technology Plan had requested:  more power to the federal government over student data.

The history of educational data collection by federal/private forces is very boring.  I only bring this up because we need to see them for what they are: public-private-partnerships, with unclear dividing lines between federal and private controls.  That means that we can’t easily un-elect them or influence the power that they wield.  It’s data collection without representation.  That’s not only unconstitutional; it’s also very creepy.

The boring but important history of these public-private-partnerships is detailed in the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research report, as well as on websites from the REL/WestED groups.   WestED, a now-nonprofit, explains: “The roots of WestEd go back to 1966, when Congress funded regional laboratories across the country to find practical ways to improve the education of our nation’s children.  Charged with “bridging the gap between research and practice,” a number of the original Regional Educational Laboratories grew beyond their initial charge and developed into successful organizations. Two in particular—the Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory (SWRL) and the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development (FWL)—evolved beyond their laboratory roots, eventually merging in 1995 to form WestEd.”

Why it matters?  Ask yourself this:  How does a parent protect his/her child from data leaks, privacy breaches and unwanted government intrusion or “guidance” when the data collection machines are not run by elected representatives, and they are paid to run well by the unstoppable force of taxes?

How does a parent protect his/her child when federal FERPA (Family Ed Rights and Privacy Act) has been altered so that it’s no longer protective of parental rights and student privacy?

How does a parent protect his/her child when the new SETRA bill allows power to go to regional commissioners, rather than residing in local schools, districts, or even states?  Regions take precedence over states under SETRA.

But the public does not know this because proponents of SETRA reveal what they want to reveal in their “pro-SETRA” talking points.

I hate talking points!  Give me truth in the form of direct quotes and page numbers from a bill next time, Congressman Boener.

Proponents fail to reveal the details of the bill that alarm opponents of SETRA.  I’ll share a few.

Psychological Profiling

For example, page 28, section 132 reveals that data to be collected on students may: “include research on social and emotional learning“.  Social and emotional learning means psychological testing!  This is promoting the same creepy biometric data mining methods that the Dept. of Education was pushing two years ago in its “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report of 2013 (see report pdf page 44).

grit

This SETRA bill’s  language empowers the government to create a profile on your child, psychologically (emotional learning) and politically (social learning).

I do not support allowing the government to keep psychological/political dossiers on children.

 

Reliance on a wet-noodle FERPA for privacy protection

But I have no power, they tell me,  despite being a mom, a voter, and a taxpayer.  Recall that there is no requirement under federal FERPA any longer to get parental consent over the gathering or sharing of student data.

Likewise, in Utah, there’s no protection for student data.  The state longitudinal database system (SLDS) gathers data about each child from the moment he/she registers for kindergarten or preschool without parental consent.

The state has said that no Utah parent may opt an child out of SLDS and legislation to create protections for children’s privacy in Utah has not been successful.

Utah’s legislature and school board continues to allow the SLDS to run wild, unaccountable to parents or to anyone.  Students’ data in Utah is unprotected by law.  If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah.  Then send it to me.

In fact, the Utah Data Alliance promotes the sharing of data between agencies such as schools, higher ed, workforce services, and other agencies.  If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah.  Then please send it to me.

 

Parental Rights Dismissed

 

Soon, if federal SETRA passes, student data will be even more unprotected.  Zero parental rights over student academic data (thanks to shredded federal FERPA protections and wrongheaded Utah policies) will be joined by zero parental rights over student psychological data (thanks to power-hungry SETRA).

In section 208 (see page 107) the SETRA bill reauthorizes the federal government “to align statewide, longitudinal data systems [SLDS] from early education through postsecondary education (including pre-service preparation programs), and the workforce, consistent with privacy protections under section 183;’’

SLDS is the very set of databases that deny parents their rights to be the main authorities over their own children’s data.  Do we want to reauthorize the federal government to use our tax dollars for that purpose, moms and dads?

“Privacy protections under section 183,” as we discussed above, equals no privacy at all.  Why?  There used to be confidentiality standards, such as those seen in the 2002 data privacy code.  But all of that changed.  Now, confidentiality and parental consent have been reduced to “best practice” status, and parental consent prior to sharing data is not required by federal FERPA.

 

REGIONAL EDUCATION LABS MAY SUPERCEDE STATE AGENCIES IN POWER

Under SETRA section 174, “REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL LABORATORIES FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, DISSEMINATION, AND EVALUATION” the power of the regional educational laboratories is expanded.  This whole section is worth reading, but it’s hard to read because of the many interruptions where the bill alters definitions and phrases from the original ESRA bill.  Try it.

I have to say that in this section, the repeated use of the term “laboratories,” in the context of “regional educational laboratories” gives me the creeps.  Am I the only one?  Our children as guinea pigs in laboratories of educational and now psychological experimentation –organized by region and not by state? No, thank you.

When Regions Rule, States Lose Constitutional Strength

Another important thought:  how can states’ rights over education ever be defended and protected when education is being restructured to function in regional, not by states, divisions?  Is this why the regional laboratories of educational research are growing to become more powerful than state boards?)

On page 57 of the pdf the R.E.L. Commissioner is given a lot of power.  “Each eligible applicant desiring a contract grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this section shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner may reasonably require.”  The Commissioner can deny funds, or give funds, to people who “shall seek input from State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the region that the award will serve”.  Hmm.  I see.  People may seek input from state agencies, but the regional laboratory commissioner is The Man.

The Regions aim for that power.

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I’m not finished with my SETRA analysis.  I’m just sick of it right now.

I’ll be back.

Should Voters or the Governor Hold Power Over Schools? SIGN OUR PETITION   1 comment

herbert

 

 

 

Utahns Against Common Core is asking Utahns to sign a transparency in voting petition immediately.  It will be seen on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning.

Sign it here.   Read SB104,  the bill that needs to pass, here.

The issue is one of power.  Should the Governor hold the power over who gets to sit on the state school board, or should Utah’s voters get to decide?  This is such a foundational measure.  If the people themselves cannot possibly get decision makers elected who think differently from the powerful elites who marry corporate and federal aims and remove local control, then we have no hope of ever getting free of things like Common Core or the forced use on children of the State Longitudinal Database System.

There are competing bills right now that push for more or less voter control of decision making; either the Governor gets even more power than he already has, in appointing the board; or else, voters get increased power because voting will be totally transparent, partisan, and run just like the elections for other elected representatives in our state.

Please sign the petition now.  The opposition is circulating a petition to bring to the Capitol tomorrow as well.

It is so a no-brainer to those of us who believe in representative government and the voice of the people.  But it’s not a sure thing at all.

Although it seems almost unthinkable that there are so many people in our supposedly conservative state who want the Governor to be able to appoint people rather than to have open, transparent, partisan elections, that is what is happening.

Even if you happen to like the current governor’s line of thinking, what happens years from now when you don’t?

Decision making power over our schools and our children’s lives should not be concentrated in one man.  It’s unAmerican, dangerous, and stupid to allow the centralization of power.  We have a greater likelihood of not corrupting our state when we allow the people to choose, and to debate, and to vote transparently.

For those who didn’t know– our current process for getting new state school board members is not okay.  It is centralized and corrupt, already.  But the opposition wants to make it more easily controlled by the elites.

This is how it currently works:  a governor-appointed committee interviews candidates for state school board, giving them, among other things, a questionnaire that is biased to the governor’s aims.  (It asks, among other things, if the candidate supports the Utah Core/Common Core).  So people who think independently will never even make it to the interview.  Then the committee interviews a narrowed group, further narrows it to three people; the governor chooses two of them, and passes those two names on to voters.  Utah voters never get any transparency, and only get choice a or b.  (This reminds me of the old Ford ads:  You can have any color, as long as it’s black.)

Please help us make this process fair and transparent.  Sign the petition.  Tell your representatives that you support Al Jackson’s bill for transparency in school board elections.

Thank you.

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Petition language –  from Utahns Against Common Core:

We, the undersigned, support SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments, which uses partisan elections to vet candidates and allow locally elected delegates to narrow the voting field of candidates who appear on the ballot. Partisan elections are used with great success in all other major elections in Utah and it makes perfect sense to allow the same process to function in large scale elections for school board members. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial of 10-30-2014 stated that there is no reason to come up with a new method of electing school board members. They stated:

“Actually, they don’t need to invent a thing. All they have to do use the same system we use to choose other state office holders. The process that is good enough to elect governors, attorneys general and members of the Legislature… People who want to be on the state school board should go through the same process as people who want to serve in the Legislature… It’s good enough for legislators. It should be good enough for school board members.”

The current system is broken. It guarantees that a single political party comprised of the UEA, USBA, and other educator organizations, dominate the election of the people on school boards.

Other facts

  • Locally elected delegates vet candidates most effectively
  • Increased transparency by highly effective caucus delegates
  • Lower cost to run for office
  • More people engaged in the issues important to education
  • Board members still represent all the people, just like you represent all your constituents
  • Partisan elections are constitutional
  • Party affiliation just lets you know where their core principles stand
  • State GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Utah County GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Not passing SB 104 would be hypocritical since it is the same system used to elect you

I further request that no bill be passed that involves empowering the governor to appoint board members. The 15 state school board members have control of half of the state’s budget. Empowering them to be appointed by the governor instead of through the caucus system that has produced the “best managed state” in the union would be folly and give too much power to one individual.

Sign here.

 

herbert