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
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.
This is very good, very big news.
Even though the fight for freedom in education is fought by freedom-loving people of many different religions, I share this great news, which comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping it will inspire other people and other churches as it has inspired me.
In February 2016, in an all-employee meeting at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, the Commissioner of Education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kim B. Clark, gave an address, “CES: The Lord’s Educational System for His Church”.
The 54-minute talk can be viewed here.
Elder Clark announced that the church is launching a new initiative in fall 2016 that will eventually offer secular and religious education courses, from Master’s degrees down to high school, to people wherever the church is organized.
Elder Clark began by saying, “Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives, whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we have, whatever strength of commitment or consecration we have, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours, whatever level of professional skill or ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now, in every aspect of our lives. The scriptures teach us that the world is now, and will be, in commotion and we can see it all around us. Wickedness and darkness will increase. It seems hard to imagine, but it will. Yet in that darkening world, there’ll be increased light, divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation. It’s a greater work than we’ve ever done before… The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in his true and living church. He’s hastening his work.” (minute 2-3)
He said that last October, the presidents of the Church’s universities counseled together and then proposed a new initiative that was soon approved by the church leaders. (minute 13-14)
It is this: “The Church Educational System (CES) will seek to provide opportunities for education to the members of the church wherever the church is organized.”
The church has long operated universities, seminaries, institutes, education weeks, high school classes through its universities and through its churches. But now, the Church will be rolling out a new program that will use all its resources to increasingly provide both secular and religious education to all its members, wherever the church exists. Elder Clark speaks of Master’s degrees down through high school classes being offered, both online and inside church buildings; I hope, and guess, that in the future, junior high and elementary classes will also be offered.
At minute 16:37, we learn that the first principle for the church’s new initiative is:
“Education is a spiritual experience”. It explains, “Education– the struggle for perfection– is a spiritual experience and is essential for building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion. Religious instruction, gathering experiences and a spiritual focus to online learning will be essential.”
The second principle is: “The initiative will be a collaborative, system-wide effort involving all CES institutions. We will also partner with Self Reliance Services (SRS) and other Church departments as appropriate and will build as much as possible on resources, courses and programs that already exist”.
The third principle is: “Instruction will be delivered online and in local gathering activities at Institutes and chapels. Study at local schools, combined with religious education at an Institute, is an important part of this initiative.”
The fourth principle is: “Students will access programs through their local Church units, guided by priesthood leaders, supported by CES and Self Reliance Services.” Elder Clark emphasized the fact that these classes are to be held under the direction of local priesthood leaders; he added: “We felt really strongly about this.”
Even though Elder Clark said, “We’re talking about a global audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands,” (minute 44) he felt it was important to make this educational program locally driven by local leaders.
In closing, Elder Clark reminded us that Ephesians 6:12 states: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” He asked those in attendance to rise to the challenge, to repent daily, and to meet the great opportunities and responsibilities before us by receiving greater spiritual power from Christ.
He said, “The rising generation in this marvelous worldwide church needs education, including the plain and simple truths of the gospel…. the rising generation will learn deeply and they will rise up. We know this will happen.”
What a great message. What great news.
Elder Kim B. Clark
State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.
The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”. The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.
Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.
While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA. CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor). That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.
That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing. It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director. Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.
Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing. The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report. The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE. But it wasn’t true.
Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.
He said: “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’. This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”
Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth. But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.
Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference? Phone: 801-538-7500 Address: 250 East 500 South PO Box 144200 SLC UT Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:
Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],
I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:
“The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”
As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test. This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test. As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.
I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study. Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity. I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim.
As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response. The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/
Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.
I am going to keep this short and sweet:
Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:
1. Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)
2. Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test. Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/) Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?
3. Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf ) How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?
4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years? Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?
5. Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents? Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”
When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.
In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.
Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.” This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc. I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.
In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.
Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future. Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.
Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education
My friends and neighbors are receiving mailers this week that look like this.
When my husband saw this, he said, “So what? What’s so bad about Education First?”
Glad he asked.
Here’s the short version: Education First = Common Core.
If you love Common Core and federal-corporate takeover of local control, vote for Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert. That’s what they and their funders, Education First, stand for, and will be pressured to vote for. Past legislative sessions have shown this to be the case, in the very own words of the co-chairs of Education First.
If you love local control of education, with local children (not monied lobbyists) being put first, vote for Johnson, Greene, Voeks and Philpot.
These are in my area; ask any Utah candidates if they’ve accepted money from Education First.
If they have, they are either ignorant and thus incompetent to see through the maze of deceptions they’ll encounter as legislators, or they really believe in the idealogy of the Common Core.
Please vote for candidates Jonathan Johnson (Governor), Brian Greene (UT Rep), Casey Voeks (UT County Commissioner) and Morgan Philpot (State Senate) –each of whom refused Education First money– instead of candidates Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert (who are all paid campaign babies of Education First).
Here’s the longer explanation:
In 2012, Education First sent out a letter to every legislator in the state of Utah. A legislator showed me his letter, and I posted much of it.
The letter told legislators that Education First had, and would continue, to “champion Common Core implementation” with “consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core“.
It also explained that Education First had partnered with Governor Herbert’s “Prosperity 2020” movement –which is modeled after Obama’s 2020 movement– to put business-governmental financial partnerships first– but they call this, instead, putting “education first”.
The Education First letter said, “Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business-led education movement in state history.”
There’s a big problem with Education First “leading” and promoting workforce alignment to K-12, especially in “partnership” with the government.
If Susie Q. wants to be an entrepreneur or a ballerina, Big Business has no business pushing her into truck driving or computer coding –even if, during Susie Q’s high school years, the business sector says it needs more truck drivers or coders.
That’s central planning, and it’s un-American.
Big business, in partnership with big government, wants to make pathways for children based on “robust assessment”. Ugh! Can you say China?
Why should free, American children be pressured and funneled into career paths determined by central planners (governmental-business forecasts)? Since when is the American Dream to be determined by others, and not by individual Americans? That’s the “citizens are grains of rice and the collective consumes the rice bowl” mentality.
What can we expect from Herbert, Haynie, Hemmert, and others who have taken large sums of money from the Education First lobby?
Let’s look at the evidence.
The co-chairs of Education First co-wrote a Salt Lake Tribune opinion editorial this March, praising the legislature for funding many of the bills for which Education First had lobbied, including bills for: workforce development (which is China-styled central planning) early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), personalized learning (which is a euphemism for digital everything; impersonal, privacy-killing “learning”) and community schools (which is Obama’s socialistic vision that integrates healthcare with academics and socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”). Is that what you want? Not me!
The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2014 that Governor Herbert (whose baby is Prosperity 2020, the partner of Education First) had appointed Rich Kendall (the co-chair of Education First) to assess the pros and cons of the Common Core in 2014. So no one should have been surprised to find out that Kendall’s committee found the Common Core to be “sound, legal and rigorous”. Were Kendall’s and Herbert’s Common Core committee’s findings correct?
Not according to the the Utah GOP which found quite the opposite, announcing that Common Core was: “a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between … unelected boards and consortia” that “violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a… (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS)… pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted, penalties including loss of funds”.
There is a big problem with Education First loving and promoting Common Core as if it were good for everyone, as if it weren’t suffocating innovation for localities and teachers, as if the Utah GOP wasn’t officially opposed to it. There’s also a big problem with Education First trying to lead education, marginalizing local citizens because their “leadership” means siphoning off most education dollars from teachers and students toward big ed tech sales companies, while setting up data mining programs approved by federal (unconstitutional) initiatives (not approved by moms and dads.)
Since Education First gives huge marketing dollars to newbie candidates like Dan Hemmert and Xanie Haynie and to incumbents like Gary Herbert, we naturally see their billboards EVERYWHERE, and far fewer billboards for the stalwart, unbought candidates: Morgan Philpot, Brian Greene, Casey Voeks and Jonathan Johnson.
Education First invests huge money in the candidates that they foresee being able to control when they are in the legislature, so that later, Education First can make more big money, all at our expense and at the expense of our children.
See through this, please.
I have personally spoken, face to face, with the Education First-funded candidates. They are nice people; this is NOT a personal attack. I would be happy to be their neighbors or co-workers or dog-walkers. But I am totally unwilling to let them put their hands on the levers of real power –when I can see that they either don’t understand, or lack a healthy fear, of what Education First lobbies and promotes.
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”.
At Saturday’s rally at the State Capitol, “Elevating Education: Common No More,” Michelle Boulter spoke as a candidate for Utah State School Board in District 15 (St. George area).
Here’s her campaign site.
Here is her speech. (You’re going to love it!):
Geologist Frank Strickland is running for State School Board; he’s definitely my pick for district 7. See his campaign site here. If you live in Park City or Salt Lake City, please vote for Frank.
On Saturday, he gave the following speech at the “Elevating Education: Common No More” rally at the state capitol building. Enjoy and share!