Archive for the ‘blaik baird’ Tag

Mark Davis or Wilma Cowley? Shad Sorenson or Jen Kelson? Wasatch School Board   Leave a comment

Wasatch County School Board: Cowley, Kelson in front; Jones, Baird, Horner in back.

I would be happy to sit by them at the Heber rodeo or say hello at the grocery store, but I would not cast a vote for a single one of these nice people.  Sorry.

I’d put up a yard sign for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson, though.

The old school board might be good people.  But part of that goodness does not include studying what the heck is going on in American education today.

There’s been a national betrayal in public education and they don’t even know about it. Not studying it and not informing the local citizens, teachers and parents of students of both sides of the issue is irresponsible.

They let the state board call the shots without listening to parents or teachers.  The state board defines Common Core for all. But the state board is guided by the Common Core-promoting philosophies of Sir Michael Barber, CEA of Pearson; the SBAC’s socialist Linda Darling-Hammond, bomber-and-education reformer Bill Ayers, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama. Extremists.

These local incumbents don’t seem to perceive how the state board’s tolerance of Common Core is damaging.  Their unwillingness to study these issues deeply and diligently will hurt us.

The district website still sings the praises of the highly controversial Common Core.

Check it out. Compare what they say, below, to what Utah’s Sutherland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Boston’s Pioneer Institute, Bill Evers at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, or thousands of other patriotic, education-loving, anti-Common Core parents, teachers and intellectuals have to say:

Here’s the local board’s side of it: http://www.wasatch.edu/cms/lib/UT01000315/Centricity/Domain/27/Common%20Core%20FACTS%20revised.pdf

vs.

NPR news:  http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/2012/09/26/why-common-core-academic-standards-are-dividing-republicans-on-education/

Education Week and Romney’s stand on Common Core: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/09/mitt_romney_doesnt_think_the.html

Here’s Sutherland’s several: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/article_detail.php?id=3276&type=Press+Releases

http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/news/2012/07/18/fact-checking-usoe-claims-on-common-core/

Pioneer Institute’s several:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

Heritage Foundation’s:  http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/03/indiana-superintendent-obama-administration-nationalized-common-core-standards/ and http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states

Thousands of Utahns who signed the petition: http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

 

— and there are so many more who have pointed out that “facts” about Common Core, as they are being presented by our school board on our local district website, are simply not true, or are only half-truths.   It is quite sobering.

So, why do they do it?  Why not show the facts and the national dialogue about Common Core, to be transparent about the pros and cons and real concerns of teachers, students, and parents?  I do not know.  But I have a solution.

Solution: vote them out. Vote for people who will study the issues, and who won’t rubber stamp everything Arne Duncan’s troops and the state board push as “good for” the local people.

Vote for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson.

Wilma Cowley, nice and grandmotherly though she is, simply does not return emails.  It is not acceptable to ignore the community that voted for you in the first place and to disregard serious concerns.

She refuses to study the pros and cons of Common Core and refuses to explain why.  She never says anything during the school board meetings and just allows others to talk.  Kind, adorable, but not tough and not diligent in researching enough.

It matters.

Her opponent, Mark Davis was willing to meet with concerned citizens and was willing to listen to our concerns about the dramatic changes in the way our state collects student data (via the Utah Data Alliance, the State Longitudinal Database, and the P-20 child tracking systems.)

He was also open to hearing the truth about Common Core.  He was not automatically buying all the drooly praise that Obama and his educational elites offer concerning the Common Core without seeing some references.  He is no wimp.  He stands up for what he believes in, which I know only because he told us some stories that I don’t have permission to share here.

Vote Mark Davis.

Shad Sorenson said, in the “Meet the Candidates” forum, that he was glad Utah had backed out of the SBAC testing consortium.  So he gets it.  He understands that Common Core hurts local control.

I prefer Shad Sorenson to Jen Kelson because Shad has done some homework on Common Core, which Jen has not.  Kelson (like Wilma Cowley) never returns an email.  She talks, talks, talks at board meetings and never listens to concerned teachers and citizens like me.  We don’t even get a return email–nothing.

School board members should study the facts and the scary contracts and academic limitations of Common Core.  Our current board simply doesn’t address anything that the USOE  and Arne Duncan aren’t selling.  I can’t respect that.  I want new people in there.

There are serious issues in American education today, and we need local school board members who know it and who study it so they can be in a position to protect our children and the quality of their education and their data privacy.

Vote Shad Sorenson.

Lastly, I have no comment about whether anyone votes for Blaik Baird or his opponent; they both, at the Meet the Candidates event, seemed to be unconcerned in any way that Common Core might be harming our educational system.  They believe it’s all Arne Duncan and Obama and Larry Shumway have said. Even though it ain’t the truth.

After all this time, they still haven’t cracked the books on it.  So it’s probably not going to matter which one of those two gets elected.

But Sorenson and Davis are better, I think; I hope.

I’d give them my vote anyway.

Drumroll, please… Thursday night the Wasatch School Board will unveil yet another FERPA policy   Leave a comment

Dear Wasatch School Board,

I may pull out my hair and run screaming from the room if it is apparent in this Thursday’s school board meeting –as it was at the last meeting– that the board has not done any meaningful research on the facts concerning federal FERPA, and that the board remains Constitutionally ignorant, believing that the federal government has more authority than the state and local government and local district/parents have, over our own children and our children’s private data.

To be very, very clear:  The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that new federal FERPA altered regulations make it no longer a necessity for a school to get student’s or parent’s consent before sharing personally identifiable information; that action has been reduced to OPTIONAL by the Dept. of Education. There is no parental consent requirement nor any meaningful privacy regulation governing schools anymore, from the federal level.

Wasatch School District has a moral obligation to do better than the federal law is doing.

Even the USOE’s Brenda Hales gave out a paper on FERPA  that shows (page 3) that the federal FERPA uses “permissive” language.  This means we need to fortify our local privacy policy because the federal FERPA would permit almost anyone access to students’ private, identifiable information.

I highly recommend that the new district policy should state that parents will always be asked before the district shares any personally identifiable information with anyone outside the district.

Christel Swasey

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By the way, blog readers:  if you live in the Heber Valley and have not yet written an email to the board for this 30-day public comment period, please do.  Yes, I know they ignored us the last time, but Vicci Gappmayer retired last month and James Judd, her replacement, is much more reasonable and open to public input.  Email him at james.judd@wasatch.edu .

Wasatch School Board’s Meaningless New FERPA Policy Out for 30-Day Review   Leave a comment

Dear Citizens of Heber Valley,  Please direct comments about FERPA and the importance of family privacy protection to the Wasatch School Board and District Officials at: “JAMES JUDD” <james.judd@wasatch.edu>, “VICCI GAPPMAYER” <vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu>, “TERRY SHOEMAKER” <terry.shoemaker@wasatch.edu>, “ANN HORNER” <ann.horner@wasatch.edu>, “DEBBIE JONES” <debbie.jones@wasatch.edu>, “WILMA COWLEY” <wilma.cowley@wasatch.edu>, “BLAIK BAIRD” <blaik.baird@wasatch.edu>, keith.johansen@wasatch.edu.

Here’s the public comment I submitted today:

Dear Wasatch School District,

Very few citizens will contact you during this 30-day period of public comment on the new, short, FERPA policy. Why? Last month, the board received many, many letters, but apparently, Vicci Gappmayer led the board to ignore us all and to do the exact opposite of what people had asked the board to do, which was to strengthen parental authority over children’s personally identifiable data.

Ms. Gappmayer said publically that she felt offended by the flier that citizens, including me, helped to put out, and she called it sensational and misleading.  It was not sensational or misleading. It was entirely truthful and accurate and was based on parental care for children’s privacy.

The district could have avoided a flier even needing to be published if it had not refused the request, unreasonably, to simply send out a districtwide email or newsletter or robocall, informing the public of the public comment opportunity.

Ms. Gappmayer’s new, dramatic rewrite of the district FERPA policy deleted all mention of parental consent or of personally identifiable information and can be seen as a deliberate attack on those parents and citizens who sent out the flier.  This is unfortunate.

Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, this district deserves a meaningful FERPA policy. The new district policy is so vague and short that it amounts to no meaningful policy nor protection.

The board should not let go of its right to have a meaningful district policy.  The district should have a strong, meaningful policy that offers protection beyond minimal requirements.

Please understand the importance of having a strong district policy.  Being “obedient to law” is not as simple as it may appear. Our local role is not as simple as being obedient, as a child is obedient to parents, because in this case, the parents (state FERPA v. federal FERPA) are fighting, and one of the parents (federal) is schizophrenic about whether FERPA will loosen or strengthen federal access to personally identifiable data.

Having a state school board and a local school board provides checks and balances on the federal Dept. of Education dictating all policy.

The fact that the executive branch did not run their FERPA changes by Congress for approval, this January, sheds doubt on the legality of the federal FERPA regulations that this district is so eager to obey.  The fact that Larry Shumway said not to change your FERPA to avoid getting sued, should have been a consideration.  The Wasatch board disobeyed the State Superintendent in writing this new, short FERPA.

We collectively have allowed the feds to become almost an educational dictatorship.  So we are truly in a complex time. But that doesn’t mean we have to treat the Dept. of Education as if they really hold the right that they’ve assumed, to dictate every step that we, as a school district, make.  We need to be smarter than that.

Having a vague, short, unprotective policy can have terrible repercussions for this community. Think of what could happen if we didn’t have a strong and meaningful FERPA policy.  If the Department of Education were to change FERPA regulations again, without congressional approval, again, as they did in January– and this time, they wrote, “Regardless of parental consent, all children will have their fingerprints, photographs and blood samples sent to a D.C. database and have their hands microchipped, to ensure accountability and efficient access for educational testing,” this district’s new, short, policy would enforce it. No parent would be asked for permission. 

I do not agree with the lawyer who said that each of the FERPA policies we have looked at in the past few months, were just fine.  That lawyer does not care about our children like we do.  He is here as a paid employee to give legal advice, but his heart is not in it, as mine is and as (I hope) yours are.  He was wrong when he said any of the policies are fine.  Maybe legally they were all fine, but morally they were not.  There were different levels of parental involvement and consent.  There were different levels of federal ease of access to local data and to personally identifiable data.  He was looking only on the surface.  I am more concerned than he was, and so I am asking you to rewrite this FERPA policy to reflect that care.

This district should take a stand and determine for itself what its standards will be as far as it can discern and assert its right to do so.

Please add this sentence to the policy:  Wasatch District will never release personally identifiable information to any organization outside the Wasatch District without signed parental consent except in an emergency.

Thank you.

Christel Swasey

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