Update on Utah education bills:
The short version and the good news must come first: HB 164 (a bill about no more opting out of SAGE tests) did not pass. HB 264 (a bill about common sex ed) did not pass.
Yesterday at the Capitol, the legislative education hearing was cram-packed with standing room only, and an overflow room was available for attendees. I’m so glad that so many came.
One of the first bills, HB201 –that would remove the Common Core SAGE test from being tied to teacher evaluations, a common sense bill– was clearly popular. Three “Teachers of the Year” spoke in favor of it. They said that it’s not fair to punish a teacher if a student rebels against a test and doesn’t do his/her best work. Some said that the test itself was not valid.
When the committee chair asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak against it, parent Jared Carman volunteered, saying that while he definitely agrees with the idea behind the bill, he disagrees with the bigger picture. Carman pointed out that since, later in this same meeting, this committee would discuss whether to tie student passing or failing of a course to Common Core SAGE testing, the logic was flawed. If it’s unfair to base a teacher’s grade on this unreliable and unvalidated test, why is it not unfair to base a child’s grade on it?
Amen, Mr. Carman.
Next up was HB 164, the opt out-or-no-opt-out bill. Sponsor Kraig Powell summarized the three versions of the bill– not in the way I would have– but he did say that there were three different doors and that the committee could choose which door to open. True. They were each different, but each called 164. Someone on the committee pointed out that this is not a game show!
Someone else pointed out that the third substitute bill was only posted online a few minutes before the hearing, making it unfair to expect a vote on it, without a reading and without giving notice for people to know about it and to come to the hearing to speak to its (very different) issues.
Still, Representative Powell hoped to pass the bill anyway, saying (amid wild, enthusiastic cheers from the audience) that it’s high time we get rid of the SAGE test altogether. For your information, he has always fought the pro-liberty, anti-common core crowd, so it was very, very odd to hear him say those words.
And I wasn’t cheering.
I asked to be allowed to give public comment on substitute 3, since I had read it while sitting in the hearing. (I had noticed that it was utterly, completely different from substitutes one and two. It was about “backpack” digital data on every child; it was about labeling schools as “turnaround” schools; it was about getting rid of SAGE testing while relying on embedded, curricular [stealth] assessment.) I didn’t get the opportunity to speak because the committee wisely decided not to hear testimony and not to vote on it, since there had been no time for reading and analysis by the committee.
So why wasn’t I cheering that we’d get rid of SAGE? Why would I want to testify against the bill that supposedly spelled the end of SAGE/Common Core testing? Simply this: substitute 3 of HB164 gets rid of SAGE, but it also gets rid of any possibility for a parent to opt a child out of testing. And it totally relies on common core and common, SLDS/CEDS, data.
HB 164 sub 3 relies on a digital “backpack,” which is like an ever deepening, longitudinal fingerprint, to assess children constantly. The child would provide an I.V. drip of continuous data to the State Longitudinal Database System, via stealth assessment, which has been set up to happen by several previous bills, including this one.
See lines 590-591: “Every school district and public school shall develop and integrate programs integrating technology into the curriculum, instruction, and student assessment.”
That matches, perfectly, ed committee member Marie Poulson’s task force and resolution of last year, which aimed to minimize the negative effects of excessive testing. It sounds so good.
Yet, there is something even more sinister than excessive testing, using experimental standards and psychometric analysis of student responses. That is: stealth assessment; that means, using continuous assessment that is embedded in the curriculum so that no parent can opt a child out of the test– BECAUSE THE TEST NEVER ENDS.
I am not against integrating technology into learning. There is nothing wrong with technology; it’s a blessing! But there is something wrong with not applying basic principles of liberty and consent to the technology being used by children. There is something wrong with forcing students to be monitored all of the time, in all of their assignments, and then to be judged thereby.
Dr. Gary Thompson has been warning us for years that the trendy notion of stealth, or embedded, assessment, would show up here; it has. Jakell Sullivan has been warning us for years that SAGE was a red herring, or not the real point; the real point was controlling the data via the SLDS longitudinal database system; that’s in HB 164 sub 3, too.
So, despite the cheers of the audience members yesterday, when Representative Powell said, “SAGE needs to go!” I am certain sure that Powell has no intention of allowing any sort of parental opt out of testing. He simply sees that assessment can go underground, far out of the view of parents or teachers, in the form of stealth assessment: “integrating technology [common core standards-based technologies, and SLDS/CEDS data mining] into the curriculum, instruction, and assessment“.
The question at the core of this issue is: Which is worse– saving children from the wasteful, stressful, data-robbing SAGE tests now, while making their tests stealthy and continuous, with no parental opt out available, or: sticking with statewide SAGE, where at least those who are aware and informed, can opt out?
Both are bad, but one is clearly worse, in terms of parental judgment, control and liberty. But embedded assessment is what Poulson and Powell and the whole educational establishment appear to be favoring. Embedded tests certainly get rid of whiny parents and rebellious kids aiming to wreck their test scores with careless bubbling in of answers. But at what cost?!
(Please contact your legislators and tell them that you are opposed to stealth assessment and digital “backpacks” on children. This will show up in many bills, now and next year.)
The third bill from yesterday’s hearing that I want to review is Rep. King’s Comprehensive Sexuality Bill, HB 264. The committee allowed public comment, but only a very few people were given time. One of the first commenters arguing against passing the bill said that Rep. King’s opening line was false. (King had said that there was “misinformation” on the internet that said that this bill had something to do with Common Core.) The commenter said that Rep. King might not be aware of the national, common standards for sexuality education, but the promoters of the common standards sure are aware of Rep. King; just today, SIECUS had posted an article about Rep. King’s Utah bill promoting their standards.
I looked at that article. It was far more revealing about what the bill aimed to do than its testifiers seemed to be: “House Minority leader Rep. Brian S. King (D-Salt Lake City) is leading efforts to change Utah’s sex ed law… Utah’s current law, passed in 1988, mandates medically-accurate sex education classes in schools but requires the stressing of abstinence-only instruction. The law stipulates that health education teachers cannot discuss intercourse nor positively discuss homosexuality…. This bill removes the instruction prohibitions on homosexuality, sexual intercourse and contraceptive devices”.
Most of the testifiers for the bill who stood to speak overtly appeared to be LGTB, a point that stood out to me. It was not mentioned by the newspapers today, of course. But think about it. If the bill was just about giving additional, medically accurate knowledge, and not about altering “values, attitudes and beliefs” as the national sexuality standards movement requires; if there was no LGTB agenda being pushed on the children through HB 246, why were all the LGTB activists there to testify for it? Since when do they go out of their way to testify in hearings for the cause of “medically accurate knowledge”?
I am not hostile toward gays. Live and let live. But I am opposed to the LGTB agenda being pushed in public arenas as if it were the new, national religion. I am opposed to the minimizing of truth about what that lifestyles’ consequences are. The national common sexuality standards do push that lifestyle and political agenda on children, while calling it education. Altering beliefs is not what reproductive health classes are supposed to be for. Altering beliefs and attitudes is the job of the family and the church.
HB 264 did not pass.
The last update that I want to share is about HB 91, Hillyard and Eliason’s bill to change the power levers of the state school board. I am concerned about the apparent power grab that the state school board is taking in this bill:
“The board may delegate the board’s statutory duties and responsibilities to board employees.”
This is bad because we, the people, cannot elect or fire employees as we can elect and fire the board.
85 (ii) temporarily or permanently withhold state funds from the education entity;
86 (iii) require the education entity to pay a penalty;
This is bad because it overreaches into the localities, pushing the state board’s will onto the local boards, which is not in harmony with the constitution.
There are also audits of localities, new rules about how a local entity interacts with a third party, and other seeming power grabs that need attention from local boards and liberty-minded representatives. We don’t want to recreate the nightmare of the beastly federal Department of Education within our state, by allowing the State Department of Education to micromanage the localities, using money and unfire-ability as leverage.
Please continue to email, text, call or write to your representatives.
They need to hear what your thoughts and feelings are. Silence is acquiescence.
With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.
POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-
BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL
We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.
See lines 82-85: “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84 (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85 (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”
By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes. That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education. How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise? Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid. VOTE NO.
KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH
COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL
We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to be replaced by the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.
As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out: “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge. Here’s some evidence. CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities. So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”
With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).
This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org,”V. Lowry Snow” <email@example.com>,LaVar Christensen <firstname.lastname@example.org>,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,Francis Gibson <email@example.com>,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com
Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2
Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections. I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah. Thank you very much for your attention.
February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.
Dr. Gary T. Thompson
Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee
Dear House Education Committee:
I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.
I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.
The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.
I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.
Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.
This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.
One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.
Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10
Early Life – 10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095
Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.earlylifepsych.com
If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last email@example.com
Rep. Lowry Snow firstname.lastname@example.org 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen email@example.com 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman firstname.lastname@example.org 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler email@example.com 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason firstname.lastname@example.org 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson email@example.com 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Eric Hutchings email@example.com
Rep. David Lifferth firstname.lastname@example.org 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay email@example.com 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel firstname.lastname@example.org 435-616-5603
Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.
I was just going to the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook Page to share my “Thank You” letter with my friends. (I’d written a letter to thank the representatives who had voted no on HB164, the bill that would cause any child to fail a class whose parents opted him/her out of the SAGE/AIR (invalidated, common core, federally aligned tests).
But when I got to that Facebook page, my friend Wendell had posted a link to a new version of HB164.
The monster is back.
I don’t understand how!
I don’t understand how an ugly, evil, unconstitutional bill like HB164, after having attracted a packed room of angry parents last week, and after having been voted down by a vote of the legislative committee, can now be back for another vote.
I pray those nay-voting legislators will see lines 76-79 and will say, “No. I still do not like Green Eggs And Ham!”
But who knows?
Who’s being manipulated, threatened, or bribed at the legislative level– and by whom?
Who knows? There’s no investigative reporting being done in Utah by any newspaper on the subject of education industry corruption, or the education industry’s machinations at the Utah State Office of Education.
There should be. The education sales industry is one of the biggest, most money-making industries in the world. And Utahns are probably the most trusting, gullible, and least fact-checking groups of people on earth.
The facts are stacked against the trusting little guy.
The governor of Utah is the president of the National Governors’ Association, the group that co-created and copyrighted the Common Core and co-promoted the Common Educational Data Standards movement. To deliver that product, Utah’s Governor Herbert himself created Prosperity 2020, a movement that aligned Utah businesses and chambers of commerce with the common core and common data mining projects now in pre-K-12 and higher ed.
From Governor Herbert’s point of view– and especially in an election year, when his opponent, Jonathan Johnson of Overstock, is openly fighting Common Core and common data mining projects– while Gov. Herbert’s supporters, the Chambers of Commerce, etc., are making so much money on this monstrosity (at the expense of real, good education and student privacy, of course)– from that point of view, HB164 HAS TO PASS.
It has to pass, for the monster to live.
If it doesn’t pass, then that lynchpin of power and control doesn’t get settled in to take over; if people can opt out of the data collection tests, then the data isn’t usable, and the whole monster feeds on data, data, and more data. Nonconsensually gathered, private, individually-custom built, student longitudinal data. The State Longitudinal Database System is the mechanism. Schools feed it every day.
If the testing opt-out movement seriously catches on fire here in our state, then SO MANY ENTITIES LOSE MONEY AND POWER. Governor Herbert is one. The Chambers of Commerce are another. School Improvement Network is another.
Even the federal government will be hit hard, if enough parents and students opt out, since federal ESSA, passed last December, calls for 95% of all students taking the same federally aligned tests and giving up that student data for “user profiling” of all citizens.
The same God who put children first in His heart and in his kingdom said that you cannot serve God and mammon. In this state, a supposedly religious state, it is sad to say that there is a tremendous amount of top-level USOE and Chamber of Commerce hypocrisy going on.
Children are being put last. Money is being put first.
Ironically, and evilly, the money is being made under the banner of making children’s lives better. That’s all Prosperity 2020 ever talks about– the future of the economy, for the children.
But tell me this: how does any of this bless a child, when a child is, under HB164, forced to take a test and is forced to expose his or her private data in a user profile that in no way blesses him or her, but benefits the central planners?
Is it right? Children, forced to take a test, despite parental reservations. Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the test has never been validated. Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the standards upon which the test rests, are experimental and are far from the time-tested, classic standards for real education that their parents knew.
Forced. Forced. Forced.
Think about this.
If HB164 passes, when that now-much-smaller group of non-test takers actually fails classes, when the first group of normally A+ children fail full grades in school –because their parents stood up, using their consciences and Constitutional freedoms, against this monstrosity, because that will happen—how will Governor Herbert look into our eyes and shake our hands at the local Rodeo?
Update: The bill has been resurrected. HB164 will have another vote Monday. Please email and call/text legislators, asking them to vote “No” again. If this passes, Utah has set a precedent that says that parents do not know best, that they are not the resident experts of their own children; that the government’s SAGE/AIR tests are to be forced on children throughout the year in formative, interim and other tests; that data collected via these tests will be owned by the state, not by the individual; and that students who opt out and fail the class as a result, should blame themselves, and not the ridiculous, top-heavy system that has stymied freedom of education and freedom from unwelcome privacy invasion under the pretense that Common Core tests and standards are valid and helpful and harmless.
Rep. Brad Last email@example.com
Rep. Lowry Snow firstname.lastname@example.org 435-703-3688435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen email@example.com 801-808-5105801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman firstname.lastname@example.org 801-865-8970801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler email@example.com 801-556-4600801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason firstname.lastname@example.org 801-673-4748801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson email@example.com 801-781-0016801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Eric Hutchings email@example.com
Rep. David Lifferth firstname.lastname@example.org 801-358-9124801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay email@example.com 801-810-4110801-810-4110
Rep. Carol Moss – D firstname.lastname@example.org 801-647-8764801-647-8764
Rep. Michael Noel email@example.com 435-616-5603435-616-5603
Rep. Marie Poulson – D firstname.lastname@example.org
What I wrote earlier:
Thank you so much for not allowing HB164
to pass. I can’t tell you how grateful I am, both as a parent and as a teacher.
It would have been immoral to prevent children from graduating if they didn’t take yearlong, secretive, standardized tests; even more so, when that test, SAGE/AIR, had never been validated (it had never been shown to accurately test what it claimed to test).
The vote against this bill
also honored multiple laws
that hold parents as primary decision makers over the education of their children, with the state in a supporting role.
I honor you for this. Thank you.
Currently in the Utah legislature, poised to become law, is HB 0246.
I read, in the Tribune, that Representative Brian King felt that the bill was important because, “Knowledge is power,” and “I don’t believe in keeping our kids ignorant.”
They certainly won’t be ignorant– nor innocent; not a chance.
With this bill, we meet its parent: the Common Sexuality Education Standards movement. Slightly more twisted than the other sets of common standards, it has hit Utah through HB 0246, Rep. Brian King’s bill– oddly titled “Reproductive Health Amendments”.
Now, along with CCSS (Common Core for English/Math) and along with NGSS (common science standards) and along with AP US History (common un-history standards) –here are common, national, sexuality education standards. Like the “common standards” predecessors, this set is twisted ethically, is “progressive” politically, and is anti-local-control.
Be clear, because I wasn’t until today: “Sexuality Education,” which this bill offers us, is not the same thing as “Sex Education”. At all. Old fashioned sex ed can be compared to a civics class that teaches kids that there is such a thing as voting, while “Sexuality Ed” is like a civics class that teaches kids which political party to join. National Sexuality Standards are here to change beliefs and values about sex, not to teach the biology or the consequences of sex.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council (SIECUS, co-promoter of common sexuality standards –as well as a top promoter of abortion) defines it thus:
“Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values.”
Sex ed was about the science of reproduction; legitimate, academically. Sexuality education is actually a new religion– it forms beliefs and values.
This bill gives Utah “comprehensive sexuality education” starting with children about nine years old.
Before we read what’s in the bill– first, let’s look at what was taken out of Utah’s previous sex education law.
You see a lot of
crossed out words. These used to be in the law and won’t be, if HB0246 passes. Read them.
Why were these struck out?
[(A) the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage, and fidelity
106 after marriage, as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases; and]
107 [(B) personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.]
108 [(ii) (A) At no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous
109 questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the
110 violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.]
Am I reading this correctly? Will Utah teachers be forbidden from teaching fidelity and abstinence as viable methods for preventing communicable diseases? And, are Utah teachers no longer forbidden from providing instruction that might encourage violation of laws?
What illegal acts will we be teaching, then? Are these words referring to abortion-related laws, or pedophilia, or what? There was some reason why were these lines were removed, and the law altered. I want to know what that was.
Here’s more that got removed from Utah’s previous standard:
156 abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in:];
157 [(I) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;]
158 [(II) the advocacy of homosexuality;]
159 [(III) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices;
161 [(IV) the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage;]
It appears that Utah teachers are no longer prohibited from teaching students the “intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage“. They can “teach” all of it, if the bill passes; nothing says they can’t.
I have to say, with a grain of gratitude, that this bill does look slightly less horrific than the National Sexuality Standards in full, in one way: the Utah bill delays comprehensive sexuality classes until after third grade. The National Sex Standards begin several years earlier, in kindergarten.
Otherwise, they are in synch. The language and intent matches, and the Utah bill is patterned after the national sex standards, as part of the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE). –For example, if you click on the FoSE link, as with the SIECUS link, it uses and defines “comprehensive sexuality education,” the term that the Utah bill also uses 12 times.
The Utah bill plans to start sex ed after grade three, so know this: the National Sexuality Education Standards for grades 3-5 include: being able to describe male and female reproductive anatomy and functions; being able to describe the changes of puberty; and being able to “define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.”
Do you feel fine about forcing –on children as young as nine years old– “lessons” on genital anatomy, reproduction, puberty and both hetero- and homosexuality? At what point is this not science, not biology, not decent? At what young age do sexual education lessons cross the line, becoming something other than teaching truth?
At what point would any statement about sex be declared by decent people to be improper, perverted, deviant, and emotionally abusive? For me, that time is right now.
A term I see getting flashed around a lot in FoSE and HB0246 is “age-appropriate”. Age-appropriate– by whose definition? By whose values? ( Before you answer, before you research the people behind the national initiative, let me stop you: Laughably, the Utah bill prohibits political doctrine –as well as religious or other) from being taught. See lines 67, 205. So none of these lessons or standards are, in any way, political, we are to convince ourselves.)
Reading the bill and reading the national sex standards initiative’s documents, I think: never have I understood more clearly the idea that there are no such thing as age appropriate standards. Every child is different. Every developmental stage is different. What one child asks about, and is ready to learn at an early age, another child is horrified to speak of until a decade later. Being insensitive to that fact, by promoting one-sized set of national standards, top-down, on a topic as sensitive and potentially damaging to a child as personal morality and sexuality, is child abuse.
By 6th-8th grade, the national sex standards have children defining sexual intercourse; differentiating between gender identity, sexual expression, and gender expression; explaining “the range of gender roles”; and defining sexual abstinence only as it relates to pregnancy prevention.
In the Utah bill, “abstinence” is explained using words that I find to be pornographic, especially in the context of having a sixth grader (eleven year old) read it. See line 95-96.
95 (f) “Sexual abstinence” means not engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse or
96 genital skin-to-skin contact.
There should be a whole bill written prohibiting the exposure of an innocent mind to that sentence. That’s not the curriculum or the test; that’s just the legislation about it. And it seems at cross-purposes to define the term that is no longer to be part of the message. (Abstinence is out, they said.)
The National Sex Standards have high school students analyzing the influences that impact when and whether they engage in sexual behaviors; differentiating between biological sex and sexual orientation; demonstrating ways to communicate about when and whether to engage in sexual behaviors; oddly, at this point there is little to no scientific or reproductive aspect of sex education– it’s about activity and engagement.
Notice, in HB 0246, that students will be:
129 reducing the number of sexual partners
The bill also pushes “day-after” contraception/abortion:
138 (ix) provide instruction about the health benefits and potential side effects of using
139 contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent pregnancy, including instruction regarding
140 emergency contraception and the availability of contraceptive methods.
That’s all I’m going to say about the bill itself. Read it, and tell your legislators what you think about it.
Some people are afraid of being labeled as conservatives, as believers in God, or as morally strict. Please don’t let the promoters of this bill intimidate you by calling you a backwoodsy, out of touch, prudish, fearful, religious, whatever. This bill, and these standards, are way beyond anything academically or ethically reasonable.
This fight in front of us, Utahns, is about protecting our children, unmuddied by SIECUS’s extreme political agenda.
It is an agenda of zero morality.
Pretending that sexuality education can be taught without reference to conscience, modesty, or morality, is a lie. There is such a thing as human conscience, and right and wrong, especially where sexuality is concerned.
(I keep thinking about the lesson from last Sunday, in church: “The Body is a Temple“. The body is so much more than an object for pleasure. Every body is holy, housing a spirit child of God. Procreation is how God’s millions of beautiful children form physical families. That matters– how it happens, when and with whom it happens, all matters– almost more than anything else that the body can do. Yes, human sexuality is good and right, but steering it is not a free-for-all. It is not without a governing morality.)
That’s where the national sex standards, and HB 0246, are wrong. They pretend that human beings are without morality, without a sense of right and wrong, and that there is no unhappy consequence beyond disease or unplanned pregnancy that could result from acting out sexually, in any way, and at any age. Those are lies.
One of the main tests of life is “Will my body rule over my spirit, or will my spirit rule over my body? Will I yield to the natural or to the eternal?” We get to choose. These standards say that, in essence, there is only a body, no spirit; and there is no reason to restrain whims.
I’m not suggesting that Utah–or any state– should teach denominational religious doctrine in public schools. Of course not.
I am saying that it is wrong to promote and teach a prescribed, “new” morality (in my mind, the same, old fashioned, immorality). It is so wrong to teach little ones, nine years old, heterosexuality and homosexuality, in a school setting. It is wrong to teach that there is no such thing as perversion, nor anything wrong with sex obsession, or gender reversals. It is wrong to include so many teachings about deviant and degrading sexual behaviors as if they were normal and good, while excluding fidelity and chastity from the conversation.
(For future reference, some organizations, listed as promoting the National Sexuality Education Standards, are: the National Education Association, the American School Health Association, the American Association of Health Education, the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, the Future of Sex Education Initiative, The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) and Advocates for Youth. Consultants listed include: Planned Parenthood; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Netword (GLSEN) and many more. Utah’s standardized test provider, American Institutes for Research, (AIR) is openly on board with the National Sexuality Education Standards and its values, too.)
HB164 is the bill that takes out the protective word “not” from the sentence that previously said that nationalized (Common Core/SAGE/AIR) test scores “may
NOT be considered in determining” student advancement to the next grade, or student grade in the course. (line 80-81)
This means that if you exercise your conscience and opt out of the tests to protect your child, your child can fail the class and the grade– if HB 164 passes.
HB 164 will have a hearing tomorrow. If you can possibly rearrange your schedule, please come (and bring your kids) to the Capitol tomorrow. Location: HOUSE BUILDING ROOM 30.
When nobody shows up to hearing, the promoters of bills give out smooth talking points and nobody really gets to the heart of what the intended or unintended consequences are, if the bills become laws.
I wrote to the co-author of HB164. I asked him to explain why he was doing this. (He used to be my rep, and sort of a family friend, when I lived in Heber.) Representative Powell did not respond. Here’s a picture of the other author, Ann Millner, in case you see her when you’re there and want to ask her, too, why the state should be more powerful than the parent, in this state once famous for being so family-friendly.
Wendy Hart, a member of Utah’s largest school district’s school board, (Alpine District) has put out an alarm, asking all parents who get the message to show up at the hearing.
(Please think about this, if you love Common Core and SAGE testing– it’s your prerogative to participate in it, but please agree to respect the rights of those who don’t want to participate, because the next law might be the one where you wish you had help maintaining parental rights to decide what is best for a child. We need to keep the right to opt children out –without penalty for parent or student.)
Wendy Hart is asking people to “pack the House Education Committee meeting on TUESDAY Feb 16th to show our OPPOSITION to HB164!!! We must stand up for students and protect our right to opt out!” She continued:
“If we can stop this bill in committee, we can kill the bill! Why is this bill so bad?
*It allows SAGE Summative test scores to determine student grades and student grade advancement (lines 80-83).
*It removes parents’ right to opt out of SAGE Interim & SAGE Formative (because they are not “end-of-grade-level” tests), and any other software programs provided by the State (line 169-170) (the law will no longer protect our ability to opt out of any current or future formative testing).
*It allows for incentives/rewards to be given to students who take the test, which means students whose parents have opted them out will be excluded. How will children feel when their peers are receiving treats and they are not? Who will be the “bad guy” in this situation? The parents. (lines 180-181)
If you can rearrange your schedule to come to the Captiol at 1:30 PM (to allow for parking, etc.) we need all the people there we can get! They need to see our faces so they know how much we care about this. (Meeting will be held in the House Building Room 30)
Please write the committee members if you are not able to attend the meeting (see below for e-mail addresses). When writing, please be brief and most importantly be respectful.”
Link to the bill: http://le.utah.gov/~2016/bills/static/HB0164.html
Link to the committee meeting info: http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/Commit.asp…
If you can’t come, write:
Committee member e-mail addresses:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
The official web site for the Utah State Legislature.