Archive for the ‘constitutional rights’ Tag

No More Opt Out Possible If Test Goes Underground: Update on HB164 (Down for Now) HB264 (Down for Now) SB91 (A Concern)   1 comment

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!

POWELK

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.)

brian king

 

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.

sex 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.

Utah and Oklahoma Moms Chat About Data Mining Children Without Our Consent   2 comments

 

Moms Alyson Williams, Jenni White, Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey, of Utah and Oklahoma, chat in a Google Hangout about their concerns and experiences with government data mining children without parental consent.

How Feds Are Getting Away With Controlling Public School Curriculum, Competency and Credentialing   4 comments

obama ed

Feds Will Control Curriculum, Competency and Credentialing

Reblogged with permission from Return to Parental Rights on 09/21/15

by Jakell Sullivan

The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but they’re doing it anyway. In a 2011 video for the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry, Steve Midgley, the Deputy Director of Education Technology for the US Department of Education, says that the Learning Registry “makes federal learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored.” He also admits that the Federal Communications Commission changed broadband internet regulations to get federally-sanctioned curriculum items into every child’s classroom.

Say what? Yes. You heard it right. The Whitehouse is picking winners and losers in curriculum providers. They have created an effective oligarchy over online learning and testing resources in order to make sure that the curriculum coming through your child’s school-issued iPad or computer contains the right worldview.

They funded the creation of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), gave states federal grants to expand their state longitudinal data system (see Utah’s here and here), got 300 (and counting) online learning and testing groups to create interoperable curriculum and computer-adaptive tests, and created a one-stop-shop called the Learning Registry where every child’s learning data will be tracked. This is information control, folks. And, it’s not just for K-12.

dunc

George Washington University, among many other institutions of higher ed, has jumped on the Learning Registry’s bandwagon. They are helping the federal administration (perhaps unwittingly) succeed at redefining student competencies around student behaviors, as opposed to academics.

When Utahns think of competency-based education, we think of a student mastering something factual and proving competency. That’s not what the federal Learning Registry seeks.  It defines competencies around values, attitudes and beliefs.

In other words, the more a student can think in moral relativist terms, the more “skilled” they are. Students who think “all truth is relative” will be easily malleable workers for a globally managed economy—widgets for crony business leaders.

So, how will the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry work? It will:

  1. Filter the curriculum content that reaches teachers and students
  2. Collect data on how a child thinks and what they believe
  3. Use that data to personalize online learning curriculum and adaptive testing systems (compare this to political campaigns changing the way voters vote by collecting data to create personalized marketing)
  4. Viola! A child will see America in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality—and advocate for big government solutions.

When John Marini talked about the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington written by Frank Capra, he said, “Frank Capra did not see America as many Americans do today, in terms of personal categories of identity…he understood America in terms of its political principles.”

If we want our children to be champions of liberty, including religious liberty, we need to engage our local education leaders in a discussion about who is defining “competency.” And, we cannot be naïve in thinking that we will implement competency-based education differently than the federal administration desires. If we put our plug (technology systems) into their electrical outlet (Learning Registry), we will be giving them all-power over what our children learn—and, we’ve already started plugging in. As one tech-savvy mom recently noted, “Parents need to understand that a unique student ID# will act like a social security number on steroids.”

George Washington University says that they are helping the Whitehouse “create a beta version of a credentialing registry on the existing Learning Registry.” This means that the Feds are positioned, not only to control curriculum, but how colleges rate student credentials—also called “digital badges.” If this sounds like German-style education, that’s because it is.

 

We can’t allow the federal administration to use personally identifiable data to “personalize” learning resources for our children. It’s time for Congressional hearings into the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry—and it’s international data standards-setting partners, IMS Global and the SIF Association.

It’s also time for our local boards of education to take back what it means to have locally controlled education. Local boards should stand with parents by making sure that their district’s online curriculum and test items do not conform to federally-funded data standards.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

For more information on how the federal administration is aligning state and district policies to internationalist goals for competency-based education, see:

obama ed
• Race To The Top for Districts (RTT-D) gave priority funding to districts that would embrace personalized learning and competency-based ed. See: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition
• Feds Give Nudge to Competency-Based Education https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/19/feds-give-nudge-competency-based-education
• Bill Gates’ KnowledgeWorks has published two Policy Briefs with the most extensive information about how the federal administration used Race To The Top to push state and district policies towards implementing personalized-learning and towards the competency-based education that Utah is now embracing.

bill united nations

U.S. Senate bill S1787: Anti-Family Communist Power Grab, No Big Deal   19 comments

 

 

stealth assessment baby

 

 

An anti-family bill, a communist’s dream bill, is sitting in the U.S. Senate right now.  It’s called S1787, The Full Service Community Schools Act (bill’s  full text is here; promoters’ talking points, here.)

To take action to prevent it from becoming law, contact the U.S. Senate: contact information is here.

This bill sounds friendly, but it is not friendly. Any initiative that shifts the center of a child’s universe away from home, church and family to snatch family authority and personal privacy while it strengthens government’s authority over almost every aspect of a life, is communism.  History and religion have repeatedly warned us against communism. But here it is, posing as “social justice” and “community schools”.

 

arne

 

S1787 will grant the wish that  US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan dreamed would come true.  Years ago, Duncan wished to see schools as the center of a child’s life and society, with 14 hour school days and 7 day per week schedules.   Watch this 44 second clip.

 

So what’s the tyrrany of  S1787?  It creates micromanagement of students and intrudes into families.  Powerfully fueled by data mining, including many government agencies outside school agencies,  it will dangle grant money carrots in front of communities in exchange for greater federal power over the local community.  It seeks to take over the local community agenda (not just the school community– the entire community’s agenda) and to absorb family time.

How?  Community schools can control (“assist”) individuals because they are astronomically empowered to know everything about a child, by nonconsensual data collecting and by the wide open data-mashing that has been happening –between state and federal lines (Study the State Longitudinal Database Systems, the Common Core of Data, the SIF interoperability frameworks) –and across state and private lines (Study the private CCSSO’s partnership with the US Department of Education and with State Higher Ed in promoting Common Educational Data Standards and the Data Quality Campaign).

 

ccs

 

With a society  increasingly forgetting the protections of the Constitution and increasingly buying into the nanny-knows-best philosophy of government, few people are standing against the nonconsensual collection of personally identifiable data. Ignorance or tolerance by the people is making individuals’ data-life-takeover possible.

Recall that this communistic, centrally-managed direction is the one in which our US Secretary of Education has been pushing us, unconstitutionally, for years.

nanny

In a December 2012 speech Duncan clearly stated:

“…We have pursued a cradle-to-career agenda, from early childhood programs through postsecondary graduation… [the] final core element in our strategy is promoting a career-to-cradle agenda.” 

He also said: “we have to learn to think very, very differently about time. I think our school day is too short.  I think our school week is too short.  I think our school year is too short.”

Years ago, Duncan wrecked privacy regulations (FERPA) and punched out parental rights by reducing the requirement that agencies get parental consent prior to sharing student data.  He also altered the definition of the term “education program”.  It now “includes, but is not limited to” a long, long list of programs that are to be called education programs “regardless of whether the program is administered by an educational authority.”

Community schools are “social justice” (and communism) in action.  There is no representation of individuals.  There is no privacy. Nobody gets to opt out.  Personal data of a medical, academic, mental, familial, or any other type, belongs to the nanny government. In fact, individuals owe themselves as human capital to the government.  It’s in the language of the bill. In community schools, HIPPA (medical privacy rights) protections do not exist because FERPA (school privacy nonrights) usurps them.  Your child has fewer privacy rights than ever in a community school.

Please don’t think it’s only academic scores that are being collected.  Remember that Comrade Duncan also altered the term “personally identifiable information,” which now includes biometric data —meaning psychological and biological data:  “a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.”

So how could a student retain private records of a medical, mental health, academic, or family nature, under S1787?  The whole purpose of the community school is to mesh and mash records and services.

Lest there be any confusion or name calling (“conspiracy wacko!”) remember that neither the data grab nor the push toward communism is theoretical or hidden.  It is promoted by notable congressmen and the US Secretary of Education.  Just study the words of Secretary Duncan and Congressman Fattah (PA) and Congressman Honda (CA) who were were the architects  of the education redistribution program known as The Equity and Excellence Commission. Congressman Fattah explained: “The Equity and Excellence Commission…that has been established by Secretary Arne Duncan will begin to close the gap in resource distribution between rich and poor…”

Duncan prefers the term “social justice” over the term “communism.”  But he fights for it!  At a University of Virginia speech, Duncan said:  “Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice.”  At an IES research conference, he said: “The fight for quality education is about so much more than education. It’s a fight for social justice.” 

The truth is that social justice is the opposite of justice.  It is forced financial equality; it means wealth and property theft and redistribution, Animal Farm style. It is communism. And there’s only one way to enforce it: top down, heavy-handed government force.

S1787 means to reassign authority (from families to governments) to crush independent businesses and churches (in favor of government-partnered ones) and to redistribute money and resources –without the consent of the people who owned and earned them.

I’m sure by now you want to see if this is really true.  Time to look at the language of the bill.  I’ll pose questions before each bill citation to help clarify.

 

  • Does the bill turn students into government resources rather than free agents?  Yes.

“engage students as resources to their communities”  -Section 5701, Purposes.

“Students are contributing to their communities.” – Section 5703

  • Does the bill dramatically increase the role of the government school in society?  Yes.

“provides access to such services to students, families, and the community, such as access during the school year (including before- and after-school hours and weekends), as well as during the summer.” – Section 5702

  • Does the bill mesh and other socialist programs, such as ObamaCare, into schools?  Yes.

” …to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services”-Section 5702

“Access to health care and treatment of illnesses demonstrated to impact academic achievement.”

  • Does the bill integrate families into its programs without their informed consent?  Yes.

” …to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services”-Section 5702

“Participation rates by parents and family members in school-sanctioned activities” – Section 5703

  • Does the  bill aim to influence or control children’s psychological or behavioral development under government authority?

” …to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services”-Section 5702

  • Is the federal government to bribe schools to give away data about the students, families, and other residents of the community?  Yes.

To get a financial grant, communities must hand over “A needs assessment that identifies the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and other needs of students, families, and community residents.”  -Section 5703

Also, to get and keep federal money, communities must show that “Families are supportive and engaged in their children’s education.” (Section 5703) How does a community measure that metric?  And, if I am an opponent (nonsupporter) of Common Core or other school-adopted programs, am I to be labeled “not supportive and engaged in my child’s education”?  What’s the consequence to me?

  • Does the bill discourage data collection opt-outs by families, by requiring multiple test measure, including inviting stealth (hidden) assessment of students?  Yes.

Multiple objective measures of student achievement, including assessments, classroom grades, and other means of assessing student performance.” – 5703

  • Does the bill encourage state workers to inspect families in their homes?  Yes.

Nurse home visitation services” and  “Teacher home visiting” and “Programs that promote parental involvement” are “qualified services” under this bill.

Remember, a “service” is not necessarily optional in the world of big government (think: compulsory education, nonconsensual data collection).

  • What non-academic or after-academic programs are included?

“expanded learning time,” “summer” learning experiences, “after school” experiences, “early childhood education,” “remedial education activities,”  “expanded learning time,” “programs under the Head Start Act,” “Programs that promote parental involvement,” “mentoring and other youth development programs,” “conflict mediation,” “Parent leadership development activities,” “Parenting education activities,” “Child care services” “Community service and service-learning opportunities,” “nurse home visitation services” and  “teacher home visiting” and “programs that promote parental involvement” “physical education,” “Programs that provide assistance to students who have been truant, suspended, or expelled” (so you can’t get kicked out/freed no matter what you do), “Job training, internship opportunities, and career counseling services,” “Nutrition services,” “Primary health and dental care,” “Mental health counseling services,” “Adult education,” “Juvenile crime prevention and rehabilitation programs,” “Specialized instructional support services,” “Homeless prevention services,” “Other services.”

(Does this sound like a gigantic community prison to anyone?  If American schools become these community schools, and all communities become sucked into this web of “services,” there will be nowhere to run.  If parents aren’t “supportive and engaged” in this paradigm, they will be reeducated in “parenting education activities” or “parent leadership development activities”.  A person can’t even escape by expulsion from school, because rehab and community service hours take place on campus, too.  Nor can anyone escape by running away because they have “homeless prevention services.”)

  •  Is there any local control in these schools?  No.

There is no representation by those governed under the community schools act.  The rulers are to be a five member,  unelected, un-repealable advisory committee, federally appointed, that will call the shots for community schools.  It will include:  “The Secretary of Education (or the Secretary’s delegate) The Attorney General of the United States (or the Attorney General’s delegate) The Secretary of Agriculture (or the Secretary’s delegate) The Secretary of Health and Human Services (or the Secretary’s delegate)  The Secretary of Labor”. – Section 5705

We are living in an upside down, black-is-white, bad-is-good, liars’ world of ed reform.

As Stanley Kurtz wrote, “you’ve got to understand the Orwellian world of Common Core advocacy, where day is night, war is peace…” and realize that “the whole trick of Common Core is to make an end-run around the legal and constitutional barriers… even as you deny that you’re doing it.”  Just as Common Core proponents “concocted a fiction” pretending that “Common Core was state led using the fig leaf of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA)”, and just as the “Student Success Act” and “Every Child Achieves Act” talking points say one thing, but the actual, buried legal language create the opposite: less and less and less and less freedom for the individual student, teacher, or family– so, too, S1787 wears a false mask.

Unlike true benevolence or community care, these ed reform initiatives carry the weight of compliance and are not based in free will or personal agency.  Forcing, even out of care, is still forcing.  And robbing, even if the purpose is to share, is still robbing.

In S1787, proponents have again concocted a fiction that their Full Services Community Schools Act will empower parents, bless children, and benefit communities. Few things could be further from the truth.

 

 

Sen Hatch V. Sen Lee On Fed Ed Over Parental Rights   2 comments

 

hatch

Senator Hatch’s offices better fasten their seatbelts.  They are in for a bumpy ride after messing with family rights in education.  Sen. Hatch voted against Senator Lee’s “Parental Notification and Opt Out Amendment” to the Every Child Achieves Act, S1177 yesterday.

If you call Senator Orrin Hatch’s D.C. offices, or his Salt Lake City offices, you will get an answering machine.  It happens to me every time.  Please call and leave a message anyway.  Ask his staff to call back to account for why Hatch voted against Sen. Lee’s  common sense amendment.  Call 801-625-5672  and 801-524-4380.

If Sen. Lee’s “Parental Notification and Opt Out Amendment” would have passed, we would have upheld the parental right to opt out of federally mandated standardized testing (aka Common Core/SAGE/AIR/SBAC/PARCC testing.)  This would have required schools to notify parents when such testing takes place, effectively killing the creepy new nationwide education trend called embedded curriculum testing, or stealth testing, which erases parental opt out-ability.  But Hatch said no.

I will call his offices every day until I get a response.

Please share the precise bill language in S1177 with all US senators everywhere as they prepare to vote for or against this monster reauthorization of No Child Left Behind today.   Please tell Senators that you expect them to VOTE NO on S1177.

Here’s the link that explains, using the bill’s language itself, why it is clear that people of liberty must vote NO on S1177.

 

amash

Rep. Justin Amash  explained, after he wisely voted NO on the twin bill  to S1177,  House Bill, HR5 “The Student Success Act” (which passed this week) :

“Here are the facts you should know about H.R. 5 and the current status of NCLB:  The funding authorization for No Child Left Behind expired more than seven years ago. Contrary to some statements and press reports, H.R. 5 does not repeal NCLB; it reauthorizes NCLB with modifications. If H.R. 5 becomes law, NCLB will be authorized for the first time since FY 2008.

Why do states and schools continue to act as though No Child Left Behind is current law? Because Congress has continued to appropriate money for NCLB as though the funding authorization never expired! In other words, the program is legally dead, yet Congress continues to send federal funding to schools, with strings attached, as though the law remains in effect.

How should Congress deal with No Child Left Behind? Simply stop funding it.There’s no current authorization for the funding, so the funding needs to stop.

Don’t we need this new bill to stop Common Core? No, we don’t. H.R. 5 reauthorizes No Child Left Behind, which provides federal funding for education. The bill says none of that money may be used (or withheld) to push Common Core. But voting no on H.R. 5 means voting no on the funding authorization that the federal government uses to compel states to adopt Common Core. So, either way, Common Core loses.

Doesn’t this new bill include an amendment to allow parents to opt out of standardized testing? Yes, but it’s H.R. 5 that authorizes federally mandated standardized testing in the first place. Voting no on H.R. 5 means voting no on such standardized testing.

Was there an amendment to allow states to opt out of No Child Left Behind even if H.R. 5 becomes law? Yes. I voted yes on the Walker amendment, but remarkably it failed 195-235 in a Republican-led House of Representatives.”

 

lee

Senator Lee explained to Congress yesterday:

“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.

One of the most frustrating issues for parents is the amount of standardized tests their children are required to take, particularly the tests that are designed and mandated by the federal government.  And it’s not just the frequency of these tests that is frustrating. Too often parents don’t know when these federally-required assessments are going take place, and they don’t find out until after the fact.

…The notion that parents should not be expected to forfeit all of their rights to the government just because they enroll their children in the public school system is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea. It’s simply an American idea.

That’s why several states – including states as distinct as California and Utah – have passed laws that allow parents to opt out of federally-required tests.

But there’s a problem.  Under current law, states with opt-out laws risk losing federal education dollars if a certain proportion of parents decide opting-out is best for their children, because schools are required to assess 95 percent of their students in order to receive federal funds. I introduced an amendment to protect states from losing federal funding if over 5 percent of parents choose to opt out of federally-required tests. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to pass my amendment.”

Watch the whole video of Senator Lee’s speech here.

How I wish we had dozens of Representative Amashes and Senator Mike Lees in Congress.  Congressmen who understand and apply the Constitution are becoming rare, rare treasures.

 ———————–
Update:  I did hear back from a staffer at Senator Hatch’s office.  I was given talking points and more talking points.  What I want is an actual written conversation using the language of the bill in all its contradictions and oppressions, citing page and section numbers and not avoiding the issues that are uncomfortable, controlling the conversation.  This is what saps constituents of substantive faith in their elected reps:  cut and paste talking points (which sadly, even my own Rep. Jason Chaffetz is handing out on HR5.)  These do not, not impress.

 

 

 

Federal HR5 Down: Ten Things to Watch for in New ESEA Reauthorization Bill and SETRA   1 comment

american mom

 

Last week bipartisan grassroots Americans saw a miracle.

That wolf in sheep’s clothing, the (supposed) shoo-in bill called federal HR5 or The Student Success Act, which was to reauthorize No Child Left Behind/ESEA, was thrown aside  by Congress instead of becoming law.  Thanks to a bipartisan effort by grassroots citizens and vigilant Congressmen who studied the language inside the bill’s 600+ pages –not just buying Speaker Boehner’s gilded talking points— the dangers of HR5 surfaced into Congressional consciousness.

A whirlwind of amendment-writing began on both sides of the aisle.  By the time Congress gave up on trying to pass HR5 last week, there were so many amendments from both Democratic and Republican members of Congress that everybody seemed to dislike the bill and Obama was threatening to veto.

That was a very unexpected turn of events.  –But proper!  Emmett McGroarty of American Principles in Action summarized the problems of NCLB and HR5: “HR5 demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the Constitution and our constitutional structure. Although it relieves the states from some NCLB burdens, it then adds others and overall sets the stage for an expanded federal footprint in our lives.

Additionally, a powerful open letter from a bipartisan group of over 2,000 educational researchers (See letter here) last month informed Congress that  “testing should not be driving reform.

The 2000 educational researchers who signed  last month’s letter saw as harmful the federal aim “to use students’ test scores as a lever to drive educational improvement.” They explained: “This use of testing is ill-advised because… it has demonstrably failed to achieve its intended goal and has potent negative, unintended consequences.”  Under No Child Left Behind/ESEA, they said, the federal government had trusted “an unproven but ambitious belief that if we test children and hold educators responsible for improving test scores we would have almost everyone scoring as “proficient” by 2014.”  The researchers said: “there is no evidence that any test score increases represent the broader learning increases…  While testing advocates proclaim that testing drives student learning, they resist evidence-based explanations for why, after two decades of test-driven accountability, these reforms have yielded such unimpressive results.”

For many, the bottom line problem with both ESEA and HR5 was the ongoing, evidence-less promotion of student high-stakes testing as the solution for education problems.  For others, the bottom line problem (in HR5) was language implying conditionality of parental rights, possible waiving of states’ rights, and federal/state intrusion into private schools, particularly into private schools’ free exercise of religious freedom.  

With so many heavy, bipartisan issues rolled into ESEA, we can expect that the upcoming bipartisan version of the bill will be plagued with the same struggles we saw in last week’s HR5.  These must be identified and fought:

 

 

#1 Clarity problems: deliberately lengthy language that scatters definitions across hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages and convoluted language that confuses most readers;

#2 A continued push for testing and data mining that pushes away from local (school or district) accountability toward centralized power; multi-state alignment (de facto national) high stakes testing and data collection that enriches corporations partnered with or funded by Bill Gates/Microsoft and Pearson.

#3  A push for centralization of power –with the elites comprised of corporate and governmental partnerships to exclude voters, teachers, parents and duly elected representatives;

#4 No privacy protections beyond the lame and wilted FERPA for our children; instead, increased data collecting powers to corporate-governmental partnerships;

#5  A continued push for more unelected boards to have increased control of greater numbers of schools via charter school expansions;

#6 A continued push for federal-corporate intrusion into private schools;

#7 A continued bartering for parental and states’ rights in trade for federal money;

#8 An assumption of federal-corporate “research” authority –devoid of parental consent and devoid of evidence-based, peer-reviewed validity;

#9  Expansion of centralized authority over specified groups, such as “migratory students” or “Alaskan Natives”; in sum:

#10 A continued disregard for Constitutional rights.

 

Please watch not only the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization, but also the S.227 SETRA bill.  They go hand in hand.

Federal SETRA  hurts student data privacy, allows emotional testing in increased student data mining, and reassigns grant-making (funding) control to REL regions, not states.  Read SETRA bill text here.

It appeared to me that HR5 got away with its marketing (saying it was restoring local control) because it transmitted federally-desired, test-driven reforms and other expansions to state authority and to state enforcement, perhaps to appease local control activists.  But this was just passing the abuse baton.  I imagine the corporate-regional power grabbers singing the “Na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo” song:  “You don’t get the steering wheel.  Constitution Constasmooshen. Who’s got your taxes?”

(Important note: in the coming SETRA bill, fund-approving power is siphoned past the states to REL regional authorities, making Constitutional state-rights less and less relevant.)

These power-reassignments are not appealing to those who want true local control.

Pray that our Congressmen find time, energy and wisdom to see through it all and that they will have the courage to protect children’s rights, teacher’s rights, voters’ rights, and parent’s rights.

 

american mom field

 

 

 

Utah Should Vote No on Federal NCLB/ESEA Flexibility Waiver Renewal   1 comment

gulliver

 

Tomorrow morning, the Utah State School Board will vote on whether or not to renew the federal No Child Left Behind ESEA Flexibility Waiver.

Governor Herbert will address the board in person prior to this vote, at the USOE offices at 250 E 500 S in Salt Lake City.

It’s an open meeting.  Many of us will be there, and you are wanted and needed there.  If you can’t come, please write to the board.  Here’s the board’s email address.  Board@schools.utah.gov

Here’s my letter.

 

——————–

Dear Board,
Please vote no on the ESEA/NCLB renewal of waiver tomorrow.
No Child Left Behind was bad; but the waiver from it (meaning that we consent to continue with Common Core) is far worse, because of the suffocating strings attached. A million tiny strings took Gulliver down.
I am referring to:
1- The CCSSO-created CEDS data collection aligned to the Common Core standards.
2- Teacher handcuffing via teacher grading related to Common Core testing.
3-  No amendment process for the Common Core (copyrighted) standards.  (We could alter our previous Utah Core; we can’t alter ELA or Math under Common Core’s copyright.)
Bottom line: we owe no accountability to the federal government Constitutionally and it returns very little money, percentage wise, of our education budget –of which Utah wastes much on bloated administrative salaries and on the common core tech ed sales cartel, not giving much to truly benefit children or teachers.
We have constitutional rights and we are shredding them, voluntarily, by tying our school system down under Common Core and Common Data.
Please vote NO on renewing NCLB.
Christel Swasey
Utah Credentialed Teacher

If Student Data Privacy Isn’t Protected, It Isn’t Protected   2 comments

Data Baby

 

California just passed a bill to protect student privacy.  I want to know why Utah hasn’t done the same thing.  Those few Utah legislators who tried to pass privacy-protecting bills (Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene) were not supported by the majority of Utah politicans.

Why?!

Do we not care about student privacy?

Is privacy not a child’s fundamental, Constitutional right?

What happens when there is no guarantee of basic rights?  Think about how much privacy there is in modern day North Korea, or in China.

Privacy goes hand in hand with liberty, always.  Even in the fiction books and movies –over and over again, the theme is spot on: when government knowledge of every citizen trumps individual privacy, then comes hell.  (See The Giver, Divergent,  Anthem, The Hunger Games, 1984.)

The Fourth Amendment says that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”.

If the government is forbidden from coming into our homes to peruse our children’s coloring books, photo albums and diaries, why is it permitted to come into our schools to seize and read data gathered there?  Do we even realize how much data is shared by schools with the state?  Look here and here for starters.

Current tracking —without parental consent— of student academic, non-cognitive, behavioral, health, familial, attitudinal, and belief-data, is happening without restraint.  Is this seizure of personal data not an unreasonable seizure of personal effects, forbidden Constitutionally?

It is clear that we must stand up for our children’s privacy rights.  But how?

First, we must define in our Utah laws that student data belongs to the student.   It does not belong to the state.   Currently, the state has made the arrogant assumption that student data belongs to the state.  That means tests, quizzes, homework assignments, and the picture the kindergartnener drew of her family which can easily be psychologically mined for student and family profiling.  Since no student or student’s parent have given written consent to share any data generated by that student, the school has no right to hand it to the state database; the state has no right to hand it to corporate or university “research partners” nor to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange nor to the National Data Collection Model groups.  That is data theft.

Knowledge is power.  Learn, then contact your school board and legislature.

What to say?  Ask them what they’ve done, what they know, what protective laws they can point you to.

Read the following brand new articles on this subject:

1.  California Legislature Passes Stiffest Bill to Protect K-12 Students’ online data – San Jose Mercury News:   http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_26444107/online-privacy-california-passes-nations-stiffest-protections-k

2. States Collaborate to Keep Track of Students – Pew Charitable Trusts – http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2014/09/05/states-collaborate-to-keep-track-of-students

3.  What Are Schools Doing With Your Kids’ Data – Yahoo Tech https://www.yahoo.com/tech/what-are-schools-doing-with-your-kids-data-95682103324.html

4. Nine Things You Can Do Right Now to Protect Your Kids’ Privacy at School – Yahoo Tech – https://www.yahoo.com/tech/9-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-protect-your-kids-95681803099.html

 

If you didn’t read them, or if you didn’t email your local school board or legislature yet, asking what they are doing to protect student privacy, I ask you why not.

If you think that our Constitutional rights are secure and that the good folks you elected are out there successfully defending your constitutional rights– including the right to personal and child privacy — think again.  All these rights are under fire.  If we don’t have proper legal protections in place specifying how student data will be protected, then we and our children are fully  un-protected.

The New York Times and Time Magazine have openly attacked and mocked the Constitution– and the rights we claim under it which include, of course, privacy and freedom from seizure of these personal effects.

Freedom and local control and individual rights, these “cool” articles say, are out of data and out of style.

Check them out for yourself:

1 Time Magazine:  http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079445,00.html

2.  New York Times:  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/us/we-the-people-loses-appeal-with-people-around-the-world.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1

By the way, how I found those articles was when a parent emailed them to me, saying that her child was told to write about them for a school assignment.  Thank you, education system, for yet one more corrupt dump into our kids’ minds.

What to do?

Ask yourself, first:  is privacy a fundamental right, or not?  Does the government (or corporations) have business knowing your business or your child’s business, without your consent?  If the answer is no, then ask:  Where can I find a law that protects my child’s school data?  Ask your school board.  Ask your legislator.  If they say “FERPA” tell them to do their homework.  Federal FERPA was shredded a few years back.  Bottom line is:  we need legal protections in place ASAP.  And it won’t happen until the people pressure their representatives to make those protections reality.

Please, speak up.

 

 

 

Stop Common Core Rallies Nationwide   2 comments

capitol with alyson

There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere.   The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.

utah rally

 UTAH RALLY

Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors,  is the Utah Stop Common Core rally.   As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators:  “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”

Please, Utahns, come.

We need many hundreds of people here tonight.  Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things.  There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being.  Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend.  I’ll tell you why.

If you care about liberty and local control, if you care about what your children will be learning in school and you want a voice in that, if you care about teachers being given respect and not micromanaged by an increasingly top-heavy government, if you care about the privacy of student data, if you think that classic literature should remain in schools, not edged out by “informational texts” down to 70% by the senior year, if you think that children should have access to calculus and other higher level math classes if they want to learn it, in high school; if you think traditional math algorithms are more valuable than group discovery of math pathways, if you believe in the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that states, not federal forces or corporate boardrooms, should be directing schools; if you believe in the Declaration’s guarantee that innocent people will not be subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure” to which the educational SLDS tracking system does subject all schoolchildren; if you think schools should be using educational standards that are un-experimental, time-tested, and actually analyzed and vetted locally prior to adoption; if you want to send a message to the state school board and governor that we don’t want national sex standards, national social  studies standards, and national science standards which are waiting in the wings to join our current math and English national standards;  if you want to send a message that you believe in representation and not in having unelected corporate boards and untransparent, unelected groups like the CCSSO and NGA making decisions for US that we cannot alter; if you want to see independent thought and not just groupthink taking over the textbooks of our state and nation; if you believe in the principle of honest debate rather than profiteers paying for their version of reforms without the debate of the people ever happening; if you think education reforms should have something to do with parents and teachers rather than with bureaucrats and corporate partners— then COME TO THE RALLY TONIGHT.  GOD BLESS YOU FOR COMING.
Speakers will each be giving 5-minute-or-shorter power speeches.
Utah Mom Alisa Ellis will be the Emcee.
supermom
Tonight’s speakers will be:
State Senator Margaret Dayton
Representatives Brian Greene and Dana Layton
Radio Host Rod Arquette
Attorney Ed Flint
Alpine School Board Member Brian Halladay – essay contest winner
Teacher Amy Mullins – essay contest winner
Teacher Cami Isle – essay contest winner
Agency Based Education – Oak Norton
Utahns Against Common Core – Renee Braddy
Teacher and Author Sinhue Noriega
Libertas Institute – Connor Boyack
Left/Right Alliance – Autumn Cook
Eagle Forum – Gayle Ruzicka
Mental Health Expert Joan Landes
Capitol common core meeting
There will be a meet-and-greet at 6:00 if you want to come early to ask questions.
…AND, IN OTHER PLACES….
—————————————————-
THE NEW YORK RALLY:

ny i refuse too

The New York  iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally.  One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test.   The iREFUSE New York community page:  https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout

———————————-
THE MISSOURI RALLY – HAPPENING TODAY: 
http://www.moagainstcommoncore.com/
mo rally

———————————-
THE LOUISIANA RALLY
 louisiana forum

Faltering Coleman and Turnabout Huckabee: Is the Stop Common Core Movement Succeeding?   11 comments

The Stop Common Core movement is gaining tremendous momentum and the proponents of Common Core seem to be slowing down. Some of the leading characters have been so slowed that they have been stopped in their tracks.

A recent broadcast by proponent Mike Huckabee said he’s suddenly turned around and is now NOT not a proponent of Common Core.

A recent public letter from David Coleman said he’s decided he must delay the Common Core version of the SAT until 2016.

—David Coleman! The noneducator-businessman-leading architect of the Common Core, the one who dismissed the value of narrative writing and espoused letting informational text edge out classic literature in English classrooms— THIS David Coleman who is now president of the College Board, who is aligning college entrance exams to his Common Core– this is the man who is admitting he cannot push his Common Core agenda up the hill fast anymore, because of so much pushback.

But that’s not all. Look at what is happening all over the nation!

We’ve seen handfuls of states drop out of the SBAC and PARCC Common Core testing consortia.

We’ve seen the Manchester, NH school district outright reject Common Core.

We’ve seen New York superintendent Joseph Rella hold a district-wide rally in a football stadium to create awareness about the damages of Common Core

We’ve read the testimonies of the official members of the Common Core validation committee who refused to sign off on the standards.

We’ve read parents’ own executive order against Common Core.

We’ve seen lawsuits and demonstrations.

We’ve even seen teenagers speaking out to legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee, pleading with them to stop Common Core.

Top leaders in both the Democratic and the Republican parties are standing up and speaking out against Common Core.

There are countless grassroots groups in almost every state that are fighting Common Core, each going strong with thousands of Facebook and Twitter shares.

Every day we see more and more major news articles and radio programs and even debates and op-eds about the Stop Common Core movement.

There’s now a much-shared movie trailer for a Common Core documentary that comes out in February 2014. (It was posted on YouTube four days ago.)

We’ve seen anti-Common Core statements by many outstanding university professors; also, a letter from 132 Catholic scholars to Catholic Bishops, opposing Common Core.

There have been Stop Common Core resolutions passed in Bergen County, NJ; at Tammany Parish, Louisiana; at the Utah GOP convention, at the Alabama Republican Women’s Convention, and the national GOP convention, and elsewhere.

Many governors and other legislators are writing anti-Common Core documents and executive orders.

These happenings are simply amazing.

But listening to David Coleman and Mike Huckabee it becomes clear that the proponents have no intention of veering from their end goal: to hold complete local control in D.C. using the partnershipping of corporations and federal entities (neither of which have any authority over constitutionally state-held educational decisions).

Huckabee said, “Common Core is dead, but common sense shouldn’t be.”

Say what?

What part of stealing local control away from those who have a constitutional right to it, makes sense to Huckabee? What part of constitutionally, locally-set education standards aligns with the top-down “let’s raise standards nationwide” movement that pretends to serve while it robs? Huckabee even said that it was once a state-led movement that was hijacked by others. Really? Show me the convention at which my state representative helped write Common Core. I’ve talked to Sen. Lee and Sen. Chaffetz and they were not invited. Neither did anyone from my state school board come to such an event. There was none. It was businessmen and elite D.C. clubs that pushed this thing from day one, with the full support of the Obama Administration.

Sadly, it is clear that Huckabee in no way has abandoned the Common Core philosophy; he just wants to rebrand it.

Isn’t it AMAZING though, that Common Core has become an offensive word to many –even to Huckabee?

Isn’t it amazing that Huckabee wants to get away from the word, and that the U.S. Secretary of Education never uses it (instead using the term “college and career ready standards”. This could be seen as evidence that honest people with persistent voices can succeed against the mainstream, evidence that heaven has helped us.

But Common Core, by any other name, is still the unconstitutional partnershipping of corporations and federal entities to steal power from us.

Don’t be fooled. Obama’s Blueprint for Education is still with us although it never uses the term “Common Core,” either. But it’s all there: the federally-pushed standards, the standardization of student data, the teacher controls, etc. etc. etc. A rose by any other name…

Common Core Movie: Building the Machine (trailer)   13 comments

Here is the trailer for the upcoming Common Core documentary movie, Building the Machine.

To find out more, visit Common Core Issues at the Home School Legal Defense Association. http://www.commoncoremovie.com

Translating Obama’s Four Pillars of Education Reform: JaKell Sullivan   5 comments

Yesterday’s excellent editorial in the Deseret News by JaKell Sullivan translates the four innocent-sounding pillars of Obama’s education reforms into plain English.

The article points out: (The electronic links are mine)

“The US Department of Education’s website details the four federal education reforms that 46 states are almost done implementing:

1 Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments for all students.
2 Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems.
3 Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers.
4 Turn around the lowest-performing schools.

These reforms sound somewhat innocuous until one starts reading… original source documents. The translation of the reforms appears to be:

1. Adopt 2-year college and job-ready national standards to ensure that college diplomas are “equitable” and more attainable to the masses through a Common Core that is not internationally benchmarked.

Use federally-required Computer Adaptive Tests that will not be accessible to local teachers or administrators — or parents at a set point after they are given. Meanwhile, federal reformers are remaking America’s entire testing system by aligning all K-12 testing — including the GED, SAT and ACT — to Common Core so that subjective questions can assess real world knowledge as the means for social change. This overhaul is being orchestrated by the new head of the College Board, David Coleman, who is considered the architect of Common Core.

2. Develop interoperable data systems to track students from “cradle to career.”

The federal executive branch revised regulations within FERPA —privacy law — so that data tracking could occur without Congressional approval and so student identifiable data can be shared with stakeholders without parental consent. According to the Data Quality Campaign, student data should be linked with health, social services and criminal justice data systems.

3. Tie teacher pay to student test scores on Common Core tests and redistribute “highly effective” teachers by federal mandate.

The federal government’s idea of “highly effective” teachers means people who complete 5 weeks of training through Teach for America, or teachers who are accredited in programs dedicated to equit, diversity and social justice — not student achievement.)

4. Create new school grading systems to enforce the federal government’s equity measures on schools.

This explains why West High and other outstanding schools recently received failing grades. They are “underperforming” in equity measures. The system is not set up to evaluate the student achievement that local parents value, but rather the equity measures that social justice reformers demand.

The article also points out that since governors were directed by the White House to spend the stimulus funds quickly, the directive “has allowed the federal government to remake K-12 education in three years time without public knowledge, without using our representative form of government and without vetting the ongoing costs to states.”

Read the whole article here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865589745/Education-reforms-Obamacare-destabilize-state-budgets.html

————————————

THANK YOU, JAKELL SULLIVAN.

SIX THINGS THE US DEPT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY   78 comments

The story of Common Core and data mining begins as most stories do, with a huge, unmet need.

Self-appointed “stakeholder” know-it-alls at the federal level (also at state, corporate, and even university levels) determined that they had the right, and the need, for open access to personal student data– more so than they already had.

They needed state school systems to voluntarily agree to common data core standards AND to common learning standards to make data comparisons easy. They didn’t care what the standards were, as teachers and parents and students do; they only cared that the standards would be the same across the nation.

So, without waiting around for a proper vote, they did it. The CEDS (Common Education Data Standards) were created by the same people who created and copyrighted Common Core: the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). No surprise.

CEDS common elements

Because the federal “need” to control schools and data was and is illegal and unconstitutional –the federal government “needed” to do (and did) at least six sneaky things.

SIX SNEAKY THINGS THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DID TO DEPRIVE YOUR CHILD OF PRIVACY:

1. Sneaky Thing Number One: It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This act created a virtual national database.

These SLDS’s had to be interoperable within states and outside states with a State Interoperability Framework. Utah, for example, accepted $9.6 million to create Utah’s SLDS. Think about it. All states have an SLDS, and they are built to be interoperable. How is this not a de facto national database?

2. Sneaky Thing Number Two: It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”.

So now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.

Best practice FERPA

For more information on this, study the lawsuit against the Department of Education by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC).

The Department of Ed also altered FERPA’s definitions of terms, including what would be defined as “personally identifiable information”.

Biometric Definition FEDERAL

So personally identifiable, shareable information now includes biometric information, (which is behavioral and biological information) collected via testing, palm scanning or iris scanning, or any other means. Schools have not been told that the information they submit to the state SLDS systems are vulnerable to federal and corporate perusal. Legislators write bills that call for the testing of behavioral indicators— but have they considered how this can damage a student’s lifelong need for, and right to, privacy?

The Department of Education openly promotes schools collecting data about students’ personalities and beliefs in the report called “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.” This document promotes the use of facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, wireless skin conductance sensors and other measures of students’ beliefs and emotions. See page 44.

3. Sneaky Thing Number Three: The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers —copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.

The CCSSO, or “Superintendents’ Club” as I like to call it, is a private group with no accountability to voters. This makes it in-valid and un-American, as far as governance goes. The CCSSO has a stated mission: to disaggregate student data. Disaggregate means to take away anonymity.

CCSSO disaggregation

The CCSSO states that it has a mission to collect data nationally in partnership with the US Dept of Ed: “The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.

The CCSSO site states that its data collection effort is a USDOE partnership: “The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United Staes Department of Education.”

(Do you recall voting for this arrangement, anyone? Anyone? –Me neither! )

4. Sneaky Thing Number Four: It used private-public partnerships to promote data linking among agencies. The Data Quality Campaign is one example. The National Data Collection Model is another example. The Common Educational Data Standards is another example.

What do these “models” really model?

Example one: from the Data Quality Campaign: “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Let that sink in: linking data from schools, medical clinics, and criminal justice systems is the goal of the Federal-to-CCSSO partnership. So nothing will be kept from any governmental agency; nothing is to be sacred or private if it is known by an SLDS serving entity (any state-funded, state-accountable school).

Example two: from the National Data Collection Model:

your child’s name
nickname
religious affiliation
birthdate
ability grouping
GPA
physical characteristics
IEP
attendance
telephone number
bus stop times
allergies
diseases
languages and dialects spoken
number of attempts at a given assignment
delinquent status
referral date
nonschool activity involvement
meal type
screen name
maternal last name
voting status
martial status
– and even cause of death.

Proponents point out that this is not mandatory federal data collection. True; not yet. But it’s a federally partnered data model and many states are following it.

5. Sneaky Thing Number Five: The Department of Ed created grants for Common Core testing and then mandated that those testing groups synchronize their tests, report fully and often to the U.S. Department of Education, share student-level data, and produce “all student-level data in a manner consistent with an industry-recognized open-licensed interoperability standard that is approved by the Department”.

So federally funded Common Core tests require Common data interoperability standards.

Check out that Cooperative Agreement document here.

But, do you think this “Agreement” information does not apply to you because your state dropped its SBAC or PARCC membership –as several states have? Think again. There is an incestuous, horrific pool of private and public organizations, all of which are VOLUNTARILY agreeing to Common Core based, technological interoperability and data collection standards!

The Data Quality Campaign lists as its partners dozens of groups– not only the CCSSO and NGA (Common Core creators), not only the College Board –which is now run by the lead architect of Common Core, David Coleman; –not only Achieve, Inc., the group that contracted with CCSSO/NGO to write the Common Core, but even the School Interoperability Framework Association, the Pell Institute (Pell Grants), Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, American Institutes for Research (Utah’s Common Core testing provider) and many other Common Core product-providing organizations.

So virtually everyone’s doing data the same way whether they’re privately or publically funded. This should freak anybody out. It really should. We the People, individuals, are losing personal power to these public-private partnerships that cannot be un-elected and that are not subject to the transparency laws of elected offices.

6. Sneaky Thing Number Six: The Department of Education directly lied to the American Society of News Editors. In a June 2013 speech given to the American Society of News Editors, Secretary Duncan mocked the concerns of parents and educators who are fighting Common Core and its related student data mining:

A new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important… They make.. outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping. This work is interesting, but frankly, not that interesting.”

Despite what the state school board and the federal Department of Education claim, corporations do know that Common Core and student data mining are interdependent.

CEO of Escholar Shawn Bay spoke at a recent White House event called “Datapalooza.” He said (see his speech on this video, at about minute 9:15) that Common Core “is the glue that actually ties everything together” for student data collection.

And President Obama himself has called his educational and data related reforms so huge that they are cradle to career” -affecting reforms. Secretary Duncan now refers to the reforms not as “K-12” but as “p-12” meaning preschool/prenatal. These reforms affect the most vulnerable, but not in a positive way, and certainly not with voters’ knowledge and consent.

The sneakiness and the privacy invasion isn’t just a federal wrong; there’s state-level invasion of local control, too: to be specific, our state’s robbing parents of the right to fully govern their own children.

When I asked my state school board how to opt out of having my children tracked by the State Longitudinal Database System, I was told that the answer was no. There was no way to opt out, they said: all children registered in any state school system (charters, online schools, homeschool-state hybrid programs) are tracked by the SLDS. Here’s that letter.

The Answer is No

Despite Constitutional and G.E.P.A.-law prohibitions, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan admitted that “The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more”. Duncan also said, “America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.” (Yes, it’s been so quiet that the people governed by it weren’t asked about this revolution.)

Yet, federal speeches, and scholarly research conferences and corporate marketers now openly push for common standards and common data systems. From the official White House website to federal educational grant applications to federally partnered corporate sites, to Secretary Duncan’s speeches, there are countless examples to show that the priorities of the federal government are these four things: 1) standards 2) staff 3) “robust” national data systems 4) labeling certain schools as low-achieving.

And the data product sales companies couldn’t agree more.

Common Core proponents insist that Common Core has nothing to do with data mining. But the federal government always bundles the common standards and the data systems, always. This federal push for common data standards and common education standards ought to be household knowledge. That is step number one, seeing the federal patterns and federal pushes for what they are.

EDFACTS

So, what difference does it make? I hear people say that since they have nothing to hide, they’re unconcerned about who’s tracking their children or their families without consent.

I say our founding fathers didn’t write the Constitution without inspiration.

The Constitution describes the God-given right to privacy:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

How easy will it be for those with access to the national databases to label a person as behaviorally unstable and therefore, unworthy of passing a background check for a job or for a gun purchase? How easy will it be for those with access to the databases to search and seize anything at all that they deem inappropriate, that they deem threatening, that they deem theirs?

Privacy is not properly protected by our state school systems and those who ought to know this, don’t. It’s not their fault; the truth has been carefully, quietly hidden. But widespread knowledge of the facts can –and must-– alter these facts.

Please share.

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Postscript: About Control

State school boards tell citizens to give them feedback on the Common Core Standards, and not to discuss anything else related to Common Core or its governance structures.

But citizens have the right to determine what will be discussed; this is America. And any discussion of the standards themselves can only be very temporarily relevant.

Why is academic argument about Common Core only temporarily relevant?

Because two private D.C. trade groups, the NGA (Governors’ club) and the CCSSO (Superintendents’ club) own the standards and have copyrighted them. They alone control the standards. The states do not; nor do the voters in the states.

Inside the state: We can alter the standards only by 15%, according to federal mandates and the writings of the private trade groups that created the standards.

Outside the state: We have no voice in future alterations to the standards. There is no written amendment process outlined for states to have a voice in “their” standards. There is no representative process. That’s why Common Core is unAmerican.

This is why we call Common Core education without representation. It is also accurate to call the education reform package citizen surveillance without warrant, as detailed above.

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For a 15-minute crash-course on the connection between Common Core and student data mining, watch this video by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project:

Common Core Down: Crossing the Line   16 comments

Common Core Down: Crossing the Line
An Open Letter to Parent Advocates for Local Control

Guest Post –by someone who wishes to remain anonymous

The Common Core is going down.

It is going down one way or another. It will happen sooner in some places and later in others. In large part it is going to go down as a result of your efforts and the efforts of countless and nameless others like you. It will go down in spite of the efforts of the likes of Boeing, Microsoft, Exxon, Gates, the federal government and the rest of the human capital/workforce pipeline driven corporate entities, within and without our country (read that as global corporations). They have been messing with the education of students in our country for decades now. They have gone too far this time. They have crossed the line.

bird mom

Let me tell you about that line. If you are a birder or someone who enjoys nature you may have experience with this. On a number of occasions I have been out in the wild and spotted nests in trees and cliff aeries of owls, falcons, and hawks when there have been young ones in the nest. It usually was the cries of the young ones in the nest that attracted my attention. The momma bird has a protective eagle eye (pun intended). I have approached and found the line. The line was never visible. I knew I found the line when I stepped too close and the momma bird took flight and started to attack me. One step back and momma bird, while still on guard, would cease her attack. That is how you know where the line is—-when momma starts to attack out of a maternal instinct to protect her offspring.

This line occurs elsewhere in nature and not just with birds of prey. You do not want to get between a momma bear and her cub or between a cow moose and her calf (I have watched the nostrils flare and the ears lay back on a cow moose). If you do, you are in danger. And I never want to get so far across the line with a bird of prey or any other living creature that I can’t rapidly, within one step, retreat across the unseen line.

Well, they, with the CCSS and related issues, have crossed the line. As a result the CCSS is in serious danger. The CCSS and related issues have been placed smack between parents and their children and as a result are or will be seen as an imminent threat. And parents, in particular, moms, are on the attack as maternal instincts kick in to protect their offspring from accurately perceived physical, emotional, and/or intellectual harm.

The common core could and should go down for any number of reasons—federal overreach, constitutional issues, content, cost, privacy… but it really is going to go down because it has crossed the invisible line that will invoke the protective parental nature. That is what will bring it down. All of you have been instrumental in helping, and must continue to help, parents see where that line is.

I have been tracking issues related to CCSS since spring of 2009. It was a rare article that could be found at that time about it and it was usually one glowing with what we now see as the standard boiler plate blather. As time progressed it was a busy day if there were three to five articles about the CCSS. Of course, they were all positive about the CCSS or promoting the CCSS. That continued for some time. At some point a rare article would appear that was negative towards the CCSS. Over time that grew—-now I see what appears to be as many anti=CCSS articles as pro-CCSS. Even after filtering out many articles, it is common to see 10 to 30+ new articles a day. A significant portion of those articles is about the push back against the CCSS or they are anti-CCSS. With the increase in articles it is hard to find the time to read them all. It is easy to see that the CCSS is in trouble. The CCSS is not just in trouble it is in serious trouble. At this point only a small portion of parents have realized the line has been crossed. More will realize it soon enough.

Don’t let up. Keep the pressure on and help others learn to see the line and what it means to them and the future of their children. Keep up the good work!

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Thank you, anonymous friend, for this guest post.

Bold Alton New Hampshire School Board Votes to Reject Common Core   5 comments

A local New Hampshire school board voted yesterday to drop Common Core.

According to a Laconia Sun report, one woman cited the N.H. state motto, “Live free or die,” and asked, “why would we want to take federal money? Once you let the government in, you can’t get rid of it. It gets bigger and bigger.”

But teacher Richard Kirby observed that despite the vote, students will have to take the Common Core test — the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) — which is formatted to measure Common Core standards.

The school district is, for now, obligated by the state to test students under the Common Core nationally aligned tests, and on the very Common Core standards just rejected by the local school board.

But that testing obligation could change. Many states have dropped membership in SBAC and PARCC, synchronized testing groups which are federally supervised, federally financed, and federally data-collecting.

Reading the comments of New Hampshire citizens quoted in the Laconia Sun highlights a tragic lack of understanding that exists even among policymakers, about Common Core.

For example, Superintendent William Lander assured citizens that “there is no mining of data,” and said privacy of students is protected. How interesting that the superintendent is still –as most superintendents still are– apparently unaware of his state’s federally funded and federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) , and unaware of the federal EdFacts Data collection project that the SLDS feeds, and unaware of the national data collection programs that are Common Core dependent, including EIMAC, a division of a national superintendents’ club (Council of Chief State School Officers, the private group that co-developed and co-copyrighted the standards) They simply don’t know what is going on because it’s not part of what Common Core proponents explain when they share their talking points that market Common Core to the nation.

The Laconia Daily Sun reported that NH Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) said officials of the New Hampshire Department of Education could not even answer basic questions about the program. Rep. Cormier said, “they’re making it up as they go along,” and asked, “why should we adopt something when we don’t have all the answers?”

But Stephen Miller, one of the local board members who had voted to remain associated with the Common Core Initiative, claimed, “This is not a political issue. It’s an education issue.” Hmm.

I see it exactly in the opposite way, Mr. Miller. To me, Common Core is not an educational issue; it’s a political control issue. Why? Because these education standards are likely to be changed (by those who own copyright) and are impossible to affect (by those governed by the standards). So we can’t even nail down, long term, what the standards are, or legitimately call them good or bad since they’re set far away are are utterly out of our local control, folks.

Yet. Proponents of Common Core have quite successfully disguised this as an educational issue, as an improvement upon education. They’ve lured us. They’ve (falsely) asserted that Common Core is a time-tested, proven system of top standards that will solve the nation’s educational challenges –without harming local ability to innovate or control education.

Common Core’s marketing has been snake-oil salesmanship from the start. No evidence exists to support those lofty claims. The Common Core has no pilot studies to point to, no long-term empirical evidence that shows that the theories on which it rests will bring about desired results. In fact, its educational theories (which include reducing the amount of classic literature and narrative writing students engage in; slowing the pace at which algorithms are taught, etc.) have been condemned by top members of the Common Core validation committee, who have refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.

But even that academic condemnation is irrelevant when you consider the fact that NO educational standards are going to be settled science. Education is always going to be an issue to be debated, innovated upon, argued, and there is no ONE way that works best in every school, for every state. Think about this fact carefully, again and again: that there is no representative amendment process for the commonly held standards. That’s bad!

If New Hampshire, Utah and Florida were to privately agree that they wanted to change things, for example, and they decided that they wanted to have 100% classic literature and zero informational texts in their high school literature classes (rather than sticking with the Common Core mandate of cutting away 70% of the classics) –how would they go about persuading Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia and the others to alter the standards? And then, if somehow all 45 states agreed that more classic literature would truly be more legitimate college prep, well, it would still be too-bad-so-sad-for-us!

Because there is no representation by the states in the copywritten, privately-held standards initiative. The NGA and CCSSO hold copyright over the standards and only these unaccountable groups can alter OUR standards. Adding insult to injury, the federal government put a 15% cap on top of the copyright, so states aren’t allowed to add more than 15% to the commonly held standards.

But still worse, look at the tests. The assessments themselves –anchored in the unalterable (by us) Common standards– actually cement states’ lack of power over their own standards. Because there’s not even a 15% flexibility in the Common Core aligned testing.

What does all of this mean in practical terms?

What does it mean, for example, that teachers say that they like some (or even all) aspects of Common Core, as some verifiably do?

Short term, it’s fine and good.

But long term, it means nothing. It’s utterly meaningless. It’s like discussing the arrangement of sun chairs on the deck of the Titanic. Why spend time talking about something not likely to remain in place, something beyond our control –and all because we chose to jump onboard?

We locals can’t control, influence, or improve on the common standards and tests. It is out of our hands.

Our state school boards and governors most likely did not realize it at the time, yet they sold our state educational birthright when they adopted Common Core. They sold our data privacy birthright when they adopted federally articulated and funded State Longitudinal Database Systems.

We are not now in our Consitutionally correct place of sitting in the driver’s seat. We the People must wake up and stop Common Core.

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Read the whole report by the Laconia Sun on Alton’s rejection of Common Core here.

File This Under We Are Not a Monarchy: “Off With Their Heads” Statement from Arne Duncan to California   3 comments

In an outrageous statement issued this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan threatened to withhold educational funding from Calfornia because of AB 484. The California bill, moving through California’s legislature, can exempt millions of students from Common Core tests, at least for a little while.

But Duncan won’t have it. He must have his student data without delay!

I will file this one under “We Are Not a Monarchy And Arne Duncan is Not a King.”

Duncan’s “off-with-their-heads” statement brandished the threat of no-funding over California’s head.

And he dropped another ridiculous bomb: He said that federal law demands that California give the tests. Should we laugh? Duncan picks and chooses which federal laws he feels like respecting.

Is there some law he’s referring to that trumps the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA)which prohibits Duncan from supervising education and testing in any state? GEPA law states:

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…”

Or is Duncan referring to some kind of a federal law that suddently trumps the U.S. Constitution? The supreme law of our land demands the federal government say the heck out of the local business of educating and/or testing students.

“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.” -10th Amendment, U.S. Constitution.

Running without authority, running just on audacity, Duncan said, “While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.”

Accountability and transparency to whom?

States and localities are in no way to be “held accountable” to the federal government for local educational decisions. We have always been and still ought to be sovereign states; we are a Republic of Republics.

We are accountable only to our local governance structures, and primarily to the parents of the children. This is why parents are increasingly opting their children out of common core tests. And so should states.

Remember this: Duncan lacks the authority. He only has the audacity. And Congress is letting him run amok with our tax money. Congress needs to reel him in, as Paul Horton and Chuck Grassley and so many others have been declaring.

So, here’s Duncan’s statement:

“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.

“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts.</em

And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:

“Our goals for 21st century learning, and the road ahead, are clear. We won’t reach them by continuing to look in the rear-view mirror with outdated tests, no matter how it sits with officials in Washington

I wish Torklason would have fully condemned the Common Core tests and his state’s alignment to these experimental standards entirely. But at least he told Washington to go bark up someone else’s tree. Sort of.

MSNBC Video: Emmett McGroarty on Common Core and Local Control   1 comment

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/preserve-innocence/2013/emmett-talks-common-core-on-msnbc/

Emmett McGroarty: “This is a mom-led movement, really… If you dig down deep enough, there’s a bedrock principle that almost all Americans can agree upon… that includes the idea that parents should have a say in what children learn.”

MSNBC: “Should the federal government have zero role?”

“Here’s the problem… They never answer the question: ‘Accountability to whom?’ You can’t have accountability running to the federal government and running to parents and local officials….

…I am against the federal government having a role[in education].”

I agree!

Orem, Utah – Video Presentation about Common Core by Three Moms   8 comments

Common Core presentation- this week in Orem, Utah.

Michelle Rhee v. Constitutional Rights   1 comment

John Merrow’s Investigation of Michelle Rhee.

I’m posting this link to Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Why?

Yesterday, a Utah State School Board Member told me that Michelle Rhee is telling legislators to “reframe the debate” about Common Core– so that instead of it being about local control and the VOICE of the GOVERNED, it’s about being more and more like CHINA.

The school board member seemed to think this was a good idea.

Insane, yes.

Dismissive of the constitutional rights of Americans, yes.

Revealing of the fact that Rhee and her group care only about making money off Common Core, yes.

As you read the post from Diane Ravitch’s blog on the subject of John Merrow’s investigation of Michelle Rhee, please notice that she mentions the RIGHT supporting common core. And we all know Obama supports common core.

This is not a left v. right or a Democrat v. Republican issue.

This is about saving America for every last one of us.

Please pay attention.

Common Core ends local control in MULTIPLE WAYS:

It’s in the financial monopoly over educational materials held by the marriage of Pearson and Gates and the copycat alignment of 99% of all textbooks nationwide.

It’s in the political takeover of unelected boards that do not answer to the voters, groups that have copyrighted the standards and have left no amendment process for states.

It’s in the common core tests, which are federally reviewed and micromanaged and from which student data is given to the federal portal called the Edfacts Exchange for anyone– even researchers and vendors– to peruse.

It’s in the academic standards themselves, which are educational malpractice— unproven, unpiloted, unvetted, and relying on nutty theories like slashing classic literature and delaying the time math algorithms,get taught— standards which were passionately rejected by key members of the core validation committee,  James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky.

It’s in the lack of any state cost analysis, with states throwing out perfectly good, actually vetted, curriculum, and bearing the burden of paying for all this implementation, teacher training, textbook purchasing, technology sales of Common Core aligned structures.

We must get out.

Fast.

No More Databases Tracking Our Kids Without Our Consent!   4 comments

I want to share this most VITAL point recently articulated on the Utahns Against Common Core website by Utah parent Oak Norton:

“We totally agree [with the State Office of Education] that we should strengthen privacy laws. In fact, the most secure way to secure our children’s personally identifiable information is to NOT STORE IT IN A DATABASE.  It’s pathetic that the USOE and State Board signed us onto this whole mess with grant and wavier applications and now go running to the legislature (whom they constantly criticize for interfering in education), and ask them to protect them from themselves. HELLO??? Who signed the waivers and applications? The Board President, State Superintendent, and the Governor.

The best way to protect this data is to unwind it.”

Cato Institute on Indiana’s “Time Out” Law Against Common Core   Leave a comment

Neal McClusky of Cato Institute has written an Op-Ed for the IndyStar. Read the whole thing here:

Highlights:

“Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the Core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards in schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since Core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.
While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t heard of the standards at adoption time, and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.

…Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.

…Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.

… Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained that the move “will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition.” –As if the people who have been decrying the absence of research support for national standards, potential flaws in its content, or other logic and evidence-based concerns have all somehow been illegitimate.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — a leading Common Core spokesperson — elected to dismiss the RNC as ignorant for resisting the Core. “I don’t really care if the RNC, based on no information, is going to oppose this because of some emotional pitch,” he said. This despite the RNC resolution offering several valid reasons for opposing the Core, including the indisputable fact of federal coercion.

To be sure, there are some specious arguments being made against the Common Core, such as the claim that it requires schools to ditch Emerson in favor of reading EPA regulations. Such assertions should be refuted by people on both sides. But those are hardly the only concerns of Core opponents, and many standards supporters are guilty of no lesser deception when they insist, for instance, that the Common Core is “state-led” and “voluntary.”

…As Common Core continues to be implemented, the chorus of opposition is likely to grow, and it is critical that supporters and opponents alike keep sight of their truly common goal: improving American education. Dodging honest discussion is no way to get there.

McCluskey is associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and author of the report http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/behind-curtain-assessing-case-national-curriculum-standards.

City on a Hill Radio Interview   3 comments

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cityonahill/2013/04/15/christel-swasey-against-common-core-so-should-all-parents

Here’s the link to today’s radio interview about Common Core at City on a Hill radio.

Why is Senator William Ligon Running a Bill to Withdraw Georgia from Common Core?   1 comment

Why is GA Senator William Ligon running the Georgia bill to withdraw from Common Core?

 

From the Senator: http://www.senatorligon.com/newsroom.html

  • There is no reason to usurp the constitutional rights of Georgia’s citizens to control the educational standards of this state.
  • Common Core State Standards were developed behind closed doors and are owned and copyrighted by unaccountable third parties in Washington, D.C.
  • These standards were never vetted by the people of Georgia in an open, accountable process.
  • Terms of the grant forbid the state from changing the standards or even adding content that exceeds the threshold of 15 percent.
  • General Assembly has not received a cost analysis for implementation, and long-term maintenance, of the terms of the grant.
  • The Georgia General Assembly must hold the Department of Education accountable for decisions that affect not only the education of our children but the pocketbook of our taxpayers.
  • Our students and our teachers will be in a federal straight-jacket, and our school districts will be at the mercy of national and international vendors making money off this federal program.

Common Core Usurping Local and State Control of Education

Capitol Update:  by Senator William Ligon (R- Brunswick)

It was an honor this past week to host the visit of the former Texas Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott. I invited him to Georgia to meet with Governor Nathan Deal, our State School Superintendent, Dr. John Barge, the Senate and House Education members, the Republican leadership, and other members of the Georgia General Assembly. Sen. Lindsey TippIns, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee also extended an invitation for Scott to address the Joint Meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees before a standing-room only crowd on Wednesday afternoon.

As background, Scott, as the Texas Commissioner of Education, advised Governor Rick Perry to avoid the Race to the Top federal grant competition, with its requirement that the State adopt the Common Core State Standards. I wanted our leaders to understand his reasoning because I believe Gov. Perry made the right choice to keep Texas independent of the mandates of the grant and this federal focus to create uniform curriculum standards across the nation.

As most educators in my district have known for a while, Georgia’s former Governor, Sonny Perdue, and our former State School Superintendent, Kathy Cox, committed our state to the Race to the Top competition. This agenda never went before the Georgia Legislature and thus bypassed the voice of the people. Race to the Top is currently driving all school districts into “one-size-fits-all” curriculum standards in math and English language arts. Our students and our teachers will be in a federal straight-jacket, and our school districts will be at the mercy of national and international vendors making money off this latest federal program.

During Scott’s visit at the Capitol, he explained that the Common Core State Standards were developed behind closed doors and that they are owned and copyrighted by unaccountable third parties in Washington, D.C. These standards were never vetted by the people of Georgia in an open, accountable process, and the terms of the grant forbid the state from changing the standards or even adding content that exceeds the threshold of 15 percent.

Scott explained that the State of Texas was wooed by the federal government with a promise of $700 million to sign onto Race to the Top and Common Core. However, after his calculations, he realized that scrapping his state’s current standards and implementing the terms of the grant would cost between $2.5 to $3 billion. In his eyes, it was a sorry trade to shackle Texas to federal mandates, rob Texas citizens of their right to control education standards, and then stick taxpayers with a bill of at least $2 billion to make up the difference. To add insult to injury, that amount did not include the ongoing maintenance of the system for the years ahead beyond the four years of the grant.

Here in Georgia, though we are receiving $400 million in federal funds over a four-year period, the General Assembly has not received a cost analysis for implementation, and long-term maintenance, of the terms of the grant. The Georgia General Assembly must hold the Department of Education accountable for these types of decisions that affect not only the education of our children but the pocketbook of our taxpayers.

Further, the accompanying tests, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, known as the PARCC national testing consortium, will create such testing demands that this will probably become better known as No Child Left Behind on steroids. Scott informed us that the PARCC will cost approximately $30 to $37 per student, in comparison to Georgia’s current costs of between $5 to $10 per student. These estimates do not take into account the additional technology, both in hardware and bandwidth, that will be required at the local level for online testing.

The bottom line is that the people of Georgia pay over $13 billion in state and local taxes for K-12 education (every year). There is no reason that a $400 million federal grant (over four years) should usurp the constitutional rights of Georgia’s citizens to control the educational standards of this state.

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Reposted from Senator Ligon’s website: http://www.senatorligon.com/newsroom.html

Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Speech on Common Core   4 comments

Stop Common Core

Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013

A few months ago, a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.

In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.

There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.

It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.

But this is changing dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.

Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students.

Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core Standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.

The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.

The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.

COMMON CORE HISTORY:

The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.

Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.

In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
    The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.

He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.

The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.

We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had in Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.

Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.

States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.

We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.

Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis

One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.

While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.

But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.

   Gulliver’s Second String:

    The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems

The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.

   

Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.

I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?

The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.

There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.

The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.

We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.

The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.

Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All

The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.

Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.

Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.

I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.”

Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.

There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.

So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:

Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing

The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.

There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.

Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.

Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.

Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.

Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English:

David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation

The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost singlehandedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.

Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is now aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.

It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.

Does this differ from actual book burning?

It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )

David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
• No more cursive.
• Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
• Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.

Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math

The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a nonselective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.


Gulliver’s Seventh String:

Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights

• A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
• The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
• Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
• The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)

Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these re-definings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.


Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy

The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.

But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.

When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.

They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html

While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)

In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.

Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.

I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.

What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.

The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.

While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”

The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)

Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )

Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/
http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml
http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

In Closing:

Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.

Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.

We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.

The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.

Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.

Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.

There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.

We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.


Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Currently, thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it.   Americans deserve high quality education without federal interference and this will not happen without first dropping all ties to the Common Core Initiative.

Please let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
Thank you.

—–  —–  —–

Contact information: Utah Governor Herbert&nbsp; 801-538-1000 Utah State School Board. Board@schools.utah.gov

State Technology Director / leader of Utah Data Alliance: john.brandt@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Superintendent: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Assistant Superintendent: judy.park@schools.utah.gov

Utah State Office of Education: Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov

Senate Education Committee members – (801) 538-1035

Stuart C.  Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen  mmadsen@le.utah.gov

Wayne L. Niederhauser wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond – aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard A. Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson – :jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart – surquhart@le.utah.gov

Resource List   Leave a comment

Donna Garner has put together a list of resources for those who are just beginning the fight against the Common Core dissolution of sovereignty over American education.

  Thank you, Donna.

http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=6457500%3ABlogPost%3A28400

9.25.12 — “Mitt Romney Takes Stand Against Common Core at Education Nation Summit” — http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2012/09/mitt-romney-common-core-educ…

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9.25.12 — “Romney: No Federal Support for Common Core” by Alyson Klein, EducationWeek http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/09/mitt_romney_do…

CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF ANTI-CCSI RESOURCES

(Most Recent First)

10.11.12 – “Is Common Core About To Melt Down” – by Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute —

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/is-common-core-about-to-melt-down/

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10.9.12 –“Like Obamacare, Obama Core Is Another Power Grab” — by Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum —  http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/like-obamacare-obama…

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9.30.12 – “Uncommon Allies Question a Common Core” – Editorial Board, JournalGazette.net — http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20120930/EDIT10/309309979/114…

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9.28.12 – “States Beginning To Rebel Against Common Core Standards” — http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/states-beginning-to-…

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9.28.12 – “South Carolina Could Regret Student Testing Scheme” – by Sen. Mike Fair – The State – South Crolina’s Homepage http://www.thestate.com/2012/09/28/v-print/2459190/fair-sc-could-re…

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9.27.12 – “The Pedagogical Agenda of Common Core Math Standards” by Barry Garelick  — EducationNews.org —

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/the-peda…

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9.23.12 – “Do Not Let the DOE Nationalize the Schools in Your State” – by Henry W. Burke, Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/do-not-let-the-doe-nationalize-the-school…

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9.14.12 – “Fighting the Common Core Standards’ Social Justice Math” – by Oak Norton —

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/jordan-sd-rips-out-unsolvabl…

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9.14.12 – “Nationalized Public Schools Almost Here in America”  — by Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/nationalized-public-schools-almost-here-i…

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9.10.12 — “Obama’s Inferior English Common Core Standards” – by Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/obamas-inferior-english-common-core-stand…

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9.7.12 – “Should the White House Control What Your Kids Learn?” by Stanley Kurtz —

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/07/should-white-house-contro…

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9.5.12 — “How To Indoctrinate Students’ Minds with Math” by Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/how-to-indoctrinate-students-minds-with-m…

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8.27.12 – “Parents Need To Know About Student Data Privacy” by J. R. Wilson — EducationNews.org

http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/jr-wilson-parents-need-to-kn…

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8.15.12 – “An Ominous Political Trend for Common Core-ites” – by Frederick M. Hess – Education Week

http://www.frederickhess.org/2012/08/an-ominous-political-trend-for…

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8.12.12 – “Utah Teachers Speak out Against the Obama Administration’s Common Core Standards” – Utahns Against Common Core — http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/teacher-comments-on-common-c…

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8.5.12 – “Caring Parents, Where Are You? – Common Core Standards and Big Bang Theory” – by Donna Garner —

http://libertylinked.com/posts/10007/caring-parents-where-are/View….

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5.16.12 – “Incoming College Board Head Wants SAT To Reflect Common Core” – by Catherine Gewertz, Education Week http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/32collegeboard.h31.htm…

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4.23.12 – “Common Core Math Standards Fail To Add Up” by Evan Walter, The Heritage Foundation

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/04/23/common-core-math-standards-fail…

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4.17.12 – “Six-Minute Interview: Federal Takeover by the Obama Administration of  Education Standards and Assessments” – Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation

http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-standardizing-schools-/FA09455F…

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3.26.12 — “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals”  — by  Donna Garner —

http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/V…

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3.6.12 – “Handwaving Away Opposition to the National Standards” by Jim Stergios , Pioneer Institute —

http://jaypgreene.com/2012/03/06/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-…

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2.20.12 – “Obama Imposing National School Curriculum” – by Bob Unruh – World Net Daily

http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/obama-imposing-national-school-curriculum/

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2.12 – “National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards” – The Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project White Paper

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf

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12.28.11 – “Feds To Be Able to Track Your School Children’s Personal Information” by Donna Garner —

http://teabook.org/profiles/blogs/feds-to-be-able-to-track-your-sch…

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12.21.11 – “A National Education Standards Exit Strategy for States” – by Lindsey Burke —

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-educati…

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10.27.11 – “Students Losing Their Right To Exress Their Opinions” – by Donna Garner —

http://libertylinked.com/posts/8754/students-losing-their-right/Vie…

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7.27.11 – “National Standards and Tests: An Unprecedented Federal Overreach”—The Heritage Foundation – Lindsey Burke, Robert Scott, et al —

http://www.heritage.org/events/2011/07/national-standards

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5.31.11 — “Liberals Interpret Themselves Liberally: Common Core Standards, Race to the Top” by Doug Lasken —

http://www.flashreport.org/featured-columns-library0b.php?faID=2011…

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5.28.11 — “A ‘Common’ Education Disaster” by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Annie Hsiao — Politico.com ––  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55857.html#ixzz1NsJZQKOh

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5.26.11 — “Race to the Cradle” by Neal McCluskey, The Cato Institute — http://libertylinked.com/posts/7408/race-to-the-cradle—-by-neal/V…

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5.25.11 — “South Carolina Will Not Participate in Race to the Top” Spartanburg Tea Party —

http://www.spartanburgteaparty.org/2011/05/25/sc-will-not-participa…

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5.22.11 — “The Three-Legged Stool:  Obama, Duncan, Gates” by Donna Garner —

http://libertylinked.com/posts/7461/the-three-legged-stool/View.aspx

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5.9.11 — “Association of American Educators Signs on in Opposition to National Curriculum” —

http://www.educationnews.org/ed_reports/edu_assoc_articles/155783.html

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5.9.11 – “Why One Curriculum Is Bad for America” – by Jonathan Kantrowitz – 100+ signatories — http://blog.ctnews.com/kantrowitz/2011/05/09/why-one-national-curri…

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4.12.11 — “The Other Shoe Drops: National Testmakers Worried” — by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/153790.html

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4.9.11 — “Congressmen: A Great Place To Cut Funding — National Assessments” — by Donna Garner — http://www.educationnews.org/political/153529.html

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4.6.11 — “Standards Overreach, or According to Plan?” — by Neal McCluskey —

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/standards-overreach-or-according-to-…

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3.24.11 — “Obama’s Carrot and Stick Control of Our Nation’s Public Schools” – by Donna Garner —  http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/152238.html

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3.20.11 — “Our Hope Rests with Congressman Kline” – by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/151843.html

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2.24.11 –“The Race to the Top Scheme” – by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/108436.html

2.24.11 — “Let’s Get Off the National Standards Train” by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner —

http://alinahan.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/lets-get-off-the-national-…

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2.14.11 — “Let’s Get off the National Standards Train” —  by Henry W. Burke and Donna Garner —  http://alinahan.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/lets-get-off-the-national-…

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11.7.10 — “Open Letter to Parents, Legislators, School Personnel: Which Policy Are You Going To Promote?” —  http://www.educationnews.org/blogs/102489.html

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10.27.10 — “Bullying Agenda” —  by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/opinions_on_education/101…

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10.23.10 — “What Is the Centers for Disease Control?” – by Donna Garner — http://www.educationnews.org/breaking_news/health/101841.html

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9.16.10 — “Am I a Wacko Now?” – by Donna Garner — http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/100137.html

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7.29.10 — “Stotsky on the Common Core Vote in Massachusetts” – by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

http://jaypgreene.com/2010/07/29/stotsky-on-the-common-core-vote-in…

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7.27.10 — “Where Have All the Caring Parents Gone?” – by Donna Garner –

http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/insights_on_education/968…

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7.10 – “Common Core Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade” — a Pioneer Institute White Paper — http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/common_core_standards.pdf

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4.19.10 — “Marc Tucker’s Bologna” – by Donna Garner —http://www.educationnews.org/commentaries/89899.html

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3.4.10 — “Obama’s Doublespeak” —  by Donna Garner — 

http://ramparts360.wordpress.com/obama%E2%80%99s-doublespeak/

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3.10 — “Fair to Middling: A National Standards Progress Report” – by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky  – The Pioneer Institute —

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100402_fair_to_middling.pdf

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2.10 – “Why Race to the Middle” by Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman – The Pioneer Institute — http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100223_why_race_to_the_middle.pdf

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1.29.10 — “Cradle-to-Career Plan by Obama and Duncan” —  by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/39076.html

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1.13.10 — “Texas Tells Feds ‘Enough Is Enough’” —  by Donna Garner —

http://www.educationnews.org/ednews_today/29200.html

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12.11.09 — “Children and the Future of Our Country” – by Donna Garner — http://www.educationnews.org/blogs/7704.html

http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=6457500%3ABlogPost%3A28400

2012 FTC Alert: To Prevent Child Identity Theft at School   2 comments

FTC Consumer Alert:Protect Your Child’s Personal Information at School

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt056.shtm

First, here are a few bullet points for readers in a hurry:

  • children whose identities have been stolen usually don’t find out until they are adults.
  • parents have the right to opt out of allowing schools to share child data with third parties.
  • if you don’t put your opt-out request in writing at your school, the general public may have access to your child’s private information
  • parents have the right to see surveys and instructional materials before they are handed out to students
  • you have the right to ask to see your child’s records and to correct errors in them.

The following FTC Consumer Alert from August 2012 is reposted in full below.

FTC Consumer Alert

Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School

Back to school — an annual ritual that includes buying new notebooks, packing lunches, coordinating transportation, and filling out forms: registration forms, health forms, permission slips, and emergency contact forms, to name a few. Many school forms require personal and, sometimes, sensitive information. In the wrong hands, this information can be used to commit fraud in your child’s name. For example, a child’s Social Security number can be used by identity thieves and other criminals to apply for government benefits, open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, cautions that when children are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years — or at least until they apply for a job, a student loan or a car loan, or want to rent an apartment.

Limiting the Risks of Identity Theft

There are laws that help safeguard your child’s and your family’s personal information. For example, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), enforced by the U.S. Department of Education, protects the privacy of student education records. It also gives parents of school-age kids the right to opt-out of sharing contact or other directory information with third parties, including other families.

If you’re a parent with a child who’s enrolled in school, the FTC suggests that you:

  • find out who has access to your child’s personal information,and verify that the records are kept in a secure location.
  • pay attention to materials sent home with your child, through the mail or by email, that ask for personal information. Look for terms like “personally identifiable information,” “directory information,” and “opt-out.” Before you reveal any personal information about your child, find out how it will be used, whether it will be shared, and with whom.
  • read the annual notice schools must distribute that explains your rights under FERPA. This federal law protects the privacy of student education records, and gives you the right to:
    • inspect and review your child’s education records;
    • consent to the disclosure of personal information in the records; and
    • ask to correct errors in the records.
  • ask your child’s school about its directory information policy. Student directory information can include your child’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number, email address, and photo. FERPA requires schools to notify parents and guardians about their school directory policy, and give you the right to opt-out of the release of directory information to third parties. It’s best to put your request in writing and keep a copy for your files. If you don’t opt-out, directory information may be available not only to the people in your child’s class and school, but also to the general public.
  • ask for a copy of your school’s policy on surveys. The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) gives you the right to see surveys and instructional materials before they are distributed to students.
  • consider programs that take place at the school but aren’t sponsored by the school. Your child may participate in programs, like sports and music activities, that aren’t formally sponsored by the school. These programs may have web sites where children are named and pictured. Read the privacy policies of these organizations, and make sure you understand how your child’s information will be used and shared.
  • take action if your child’s school experiences a data breach. Contact the school to learn more. Talk with teachers, staff, or administrators about the incident and their practices. Keep a written record of your conversations. Write a letter to the appropriate administrator, and to the school board, if necessary.

File a complaint

You may file a written complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920, and keep a copy for your records.

For More Information

To learn more about child identity theft and how to deal with its consequences, read Safeguarding Your Child’s Future or visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

You may have additional rights under state law: contact your local consumer protection agency or your state attorney general for details.

About the FTC

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a <a href=”https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/&#8221; data-mce-href=”https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/”>complaint</a&gt; or get <a href=”/bcp/consumer.shtm” data-mce-href=”/bcp/consumer.shtm”>free information on consumer issues</a>, visit <a href=”http://ftc.gov/&#8221; data-mce-href=”http://ftc.gov/”>ftc.gov</a&gt; or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a video, <span style=”text-decoration: underline;” data-mce-style=”text-decoration: underline;”><a href=”/multimedia/video/scam-watch/file-a-complaint.shtm” data-mce-href=”/multimedia/video/scam-watch/file-a-complaint.shtm”>How to File a Complaint</a></span>, at <a href=”/video” data-mce-href=”/video”>ftc.gov/video</a> to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the <a href=”/sentinel/” data-mce-href=”/sentinel/”>Consumer Sentinel Network</a>, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Provo, Ogden, Granite, Washington County School Districts: WHAT are you THINKING?!   1 comment

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54806451-78/million-districts-apply-department.html.csp
 
  According to the Salt Lake Tribune article linked above, five Utah school districts are applying for Race To The Top funds. Granite, Ogden, Provo, Morgan and Washington County school districts are applying for tens of millions of dollars each, to be accepted directly from the U.S. Department of Education in exchange for making certain federally-determined “reforms.”
 
      
 
Nationwide, the Tribune states, 893 districts are applying, but only 15 to 25 will win the grants. 
 
If the rules of the district Race to the Top grant game are the same as the rules were for the states’ Race to the Top grants, then even those applicants who do not win the grant money will still have been “reformed” in ways pleasing to the Federal Department of Education.  (For example, when Utah applied for, but did not win, its original Race to the Top grant, it made policy changes to enhance its eligibility toward winning.  It adopted Common Core standards.  It joined a testing consortium. Today, Utah has dropped its consortium membership but it still hasn’t dropped Common Core, and students are paying the price for the mediocre standards that slow down math learning, eliminate cursive, dramatically diminish classic literature, homogenize what college and career readiness standards used to be, yet go by the self-appointed title of “rigorous” college prep.)
 
Contrary to popular belief, grants are not “free money.” They come with rules, mandates, requirements, and legally binding chains created by the grantor.
 
The Dept. of Education’s decision, to dangle the carrot of Race to the Top for districts, is particularly alarming to many Texans.  Texas was one of the few states independent-minded enough to reject joining the Common Core movement. But today, 64 Texas school districts are applying for the Race to the Top for districts, effectively creating the federal dependence for many districts which Texas had worked hard to avoid as a state.
 
   Donna Garner, Texas educator, explains:” On Jan. 13, 2010, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the former Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced their decision that Texas should not enter the statewide Race to the Top competition for $700 Million because they knew the federal strings attached to the money would require school districts to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative.Not to be deterred, the Obama administration and Sect. of Ed. Arne Duncan came up with a “work around” so that the RTTT funds (requiring schools to follow theCommon Core Standards Initiative) could be sent directly to the local school districts in spite of being blocked by the state agencies.Unfortunately, local Texas school administrators are ignoring the dangers of the federalstrings and are salivating over the federal funding. Nationwide, there are 893school districts (and other eligible entities) that have indicated their intent to apply for the RTTT’s $400 Million “workaround.” The deadline for these entities to file their formalapplications is Oct. 30, 2012.

This is what happens: Even though most of these local entities do not have a chanceto receive the RTTT federal funds, the applications themselves end up driving school district decisions.

School administrators know their schools’ grant applications will not have a chance ofbeing accepted unless the districts can prove the federally desired changes are already in place (or well on their way to being implemented) in their districts; therefore, the administrators, acting like little robots, configure their districts to match the USDOE’s agenda. They swear to do such things as implement the Common Core Standards, base teacher evaluations upon student improvement on the CCS assessments, and collect the personally intrusive information on students, parents, and educators that is required for the national database.

Thus, the USDOE ends up nationalizing the public schools without ever giving the districts the RTTT grant funding.  Entire states such as California applied for the statewide RTTT funds in 2011 andreconfigured their school district policies to match the USDOE’s application requirements; but in the end, California found out that their state was notselected to receive the RTTT grants.  The same outcomes will occur with the RTTT’s direct-to-school funding.  Many locals will implement the USDOE’s changes but will not receive the RTTT funds.

 The“carrot and stick” used by the USDOE – RTTT federal funds:

[The arrows mean “lead to.”]

National standards  →  national assessments  → national curriculum → national teacher evaluations with teachers’ salaries tied to students’ test scores  →  teachers teaching to thetest each and every day  →  national indoctrination of our publicschool children  →  national database of students and teachers

Please go to the following links to read more about the Common Core Standards Initiative:

3.26.12 — “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals” — http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/View.aspx

9.14.12 – “Nationalized Public Schools Almost Here in America” —  http://educationviews.org/nationalized-public-schools-almost-here-in-america/

ACTION STEP:  Parents and taxpayers, please take the time to go to administrators and school board members in your district and demand that they not apply for these RTTT grants nor make any of the changes that the USDOE applications require schools to make to get the funds.”

Dr. Sandra Stotsky to Utah: We Can Write Higher, Better Standards — Free   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,

I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium.  It was a heroic moment and America is watching.

Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required  SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.

I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education.  Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.

This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests.  Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests.  Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.

I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests.  But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level.  Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to “help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well.  These things trouble me.  I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.

–Or are we?  Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue.  This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC.  If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties.  Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government.  We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.

On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends.  I have asked a question but have not received a response:  does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?

We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards.  We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core.  Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top.  Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA.  Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road.  Does Utah really want that?  If so, why?  Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions?  Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?

Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth:  that Common Core is not rigorous enough.  It does not solve our very real educational problems.

First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre.  Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.

Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.

Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards.  She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.

Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement.  1) States can use Common Core.  Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark.  If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!

    Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free.   She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.

Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.

Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.

Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

David Wiley and the Utah State Office of Education Partnership   1 comment

A friend just sent me this link.  It’s sad. 

http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx

    But it explains a lot.  It explains why Professor David Wiley is so passionately pro-common core, so defensive of the USOE and of the Dept. of Education’s terrible FERPA alterations that empowered the Common Core Initiative, and why he does not want to read past the first link on my rebuttal to the USOE’s statement written last week by Brenda Hales.

So, on page 25 of Utah’s ESEA Flexibility Request (the No Child Left Behind waiver) it talks about Professor D. Wiley.  It says:

“Utah is a leader in developing and utilizing digital resources. For example, the USOE has entered into a partnership with Dr. David Wiley, an associate professor at Brigham Young University and a Senior Fellow for Open Education with Digital Promise, to research, develop and implement technologies that transform reaching and learning. The USOE staff, LEA and Higher Ed experts, and Dr. Wiley are working to develop online digital e-books that will be based on open-source materials. They will be available in a hybrid format for all Utah students. Teachers can use the digital or inexpensive print format (five dollars per book or less) to deliver instructional material to learners. Dr. Wiley is leading a successful pilot of open-sources science textbooks in Utah classrooms. By next fall, e-books based on Utah Core Standards [Common Core National Standards] will be available for secondary language arts and mathematics. The mathematics e-books will facilitate our transition to an integrated high school math model while the language arts e-books will contain heavier emphasis on content literacy and oral argumentative writing. [Notice, no classic literature or narrative writing because it’s slashed under Common Core rules.] Digital resources are a key to designing and using highly relevant and responsive curriculum to Utah’s students. We also have a working relationship with Apple, use ITunes U and work with the Utah Education Network to provide resources aligned with the Standards. All of this can be found on the various content websites and linked to our CCSS website http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/. ”

…I still do not think badly of Professor Wiley.

Nor of Brenda Hales.  Nor of my own local school board.  Why?

I don’t think they get it.  I do not believe they are deliberately, knowingly selling out our kids and our privacy rights.  They lack motivation to study it out and think about all the possible repercussions because their jobs and their egos hinge on their work for Common Core implementation in Utah.

Also, I am pretty sure these people don’t know what the Constitution’s about.  They take for granted that it will be there to protect us, even while they act against its principles, by each step they take for Utah/America, toward more and more socialist/communist styled programs. 

In case you forgot:  The Constitution says that the people are the sovereign; not a consortium, and not a federal Department of anything.  It says that separation of powers, that checks & balances idea, is the safeguard of rights; allowing the feds so much power over us is abusing the Constitution. It says the powers granted to the 3 branches are LIMITED, on purpose to never concentrate or centralize power but to keep it spread out in each locality; it outlines the principle of representation, which Common Core laughs at. There is no representation where there is no amendability of standards or of tests.)

And because these people, our Utah education system leaders, have not been valiant in detecting the problems brought by Common Core, such as detecting the subtle, powerful seeping away of control over education, and parental consent, and lost privacy rights; because they have not recognized it, and therefore have not stood up to it, the encroachments of Arne Duncan and his gang at the Department of Education increase. 

Yes, we are in a terrible place, teetering on the verge of not being able to get out.  We have lost many and are losing more and more liberties and rights of education and of privacy.

And David Wiley and the Utah State Office of Education are fine with it.

South Carolina: Governor Nikki Haley’s Letter of Support to Senator Mike Fair on Reversing Common Core   1 comment

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina

Today I’m thinking about the long list of heroes and freedom fighters whose names I didn’t even know five months ago, when I became introduced to the words “Common Core.” Topping the list are Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina, who, together with Governor Nikki Haley, took a valiant stand against Common Core, a move I pray Governor Herbert will follow.

Senator Fair said that by adopting Common Core, his state had “sold our educational birthright without getting the mess of pottage,” and because of this, he wrote a bill to reverse his state’s adoption of the common movement.

S.C. State Senator Mike Fair

S. 604 was Fair’s bill, which would have prevented the Common Core State Standards from being imposed on the state.  The bill was not passed.  It said:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.

Even though Fair and Haley’s efforts to reclaim educational freedom for South Carolina didn’t succeed right away, these efforts serve as an inspiration to those of us in other states who want to reclaim the same freedom.  Nikki Haley wrote an open letter to Senator Fair, supporting his efforts, that explains so much:

Dear Senator Fair

South Carolina’s educational system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality and leadership – challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them.

Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.

Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support your efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards.

While I understand and agree with looking outside South Carolina for ideas to improve educational outcomes, I firmly believe that our government and our people should retain as much local control over programs as possible.

The solution to many of South Carolina’s educational challenges will be found by sending more of our limited resources to the classroom and offering educational choices to meet the needs of South Carolina’s students. Our children deserve swift action and the passage of a clean resolution that will allow our State to reclaim control of and responsibility for educating South Carolinians.

Thank you for the important work you have done on this issue; please let me know if I may be of further assistance.

Heber PTA President Janette Hall’s Letter to Utah State School Board   3 comments

July 15, 2012

Utah State School Board Members,

My name is Janette Hall and I have five children enrolled in the public school system in Utah. I am also the PTA president of Timpanogos Intermediate School. I have spent many years volunteering in schools and working closely with teachers and administrators. I appreciate the work that is conducted by the USOE for my children and their education, but I feel compelled to write this letter after reading a recent posting on your official blog by Brenda Hales regarding Utah’s Core Standards, Assessments and Privacy Regulations on July 10th, 2012.

It seems that the intent of the statement was to assuage the public instead of seeking to be factual. I was surprised at the definitive tone of Brenda Hale’s statement, when a study of the legal documents would lead one to the opposite conclusion.

As the public becomes more educated, our ability to see through statements like these increases at the cost of your board’s credibility. An organization that can admit that other points of view have credence is to be admired, not looked down upon. We are treading into uncharted territory and no one knows the exact outcome of the board’s actions to adopt the Common Core standards and join the SBAC, not even the USOE.

After reading her official blog I was shocked at the many misleading, and in my opinion, incorrect statements, such as the following:

2. The State Board of Education has control over the standards and assessments for Utah.

3. Utah has not lost its autonomy over standards and assessments.

4. The Utah core standards:
May be changed by the State Board at any time.
Were not developed, funded or mandated by the federal government.
Are not federal or national standards.
Were not obligatory because of Utah’s Race to the Top application.
Are not under the control or manipulation of special interest groups.
Are not obligatory because of Utah’s NCLB flexibility request application.

In a letter dated March 7, 2012, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of the United States Department of Education affirmed that “states have the sole right to set learning standards.” In Utah’s flexibility request we informed the Department of Education that we have chosen to use our Utah core standards. If and when the State Board decides to change or revise Utah’s standards they will do so.

The USOE has never, prior to Common Core, signed legal documents that have bound Utah’s ability to control standards and assessments; because of this we need to proceed carefully to fully understand our legal obligations. I have studied the issues related to Common Core and the SBAC for the past few months. I have also personally talked with Norman Jackson, a retired Judge from Utah, who analyzed the legally binding documents signed by Utah. You can see a copy of his analysis at https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/judge-norman-jackson-the-two-schools-of-thought-of-citizens-versus-the-utah-state-office-of-education/. I have also discussed the topic with three attorneys, one of which was my congressman, that have reviewed the legally binding documents related to the SBAC and No child Left Behind waiver. Their mutual consensus is contrary to Brenda Hale’s statements above. The documents clearly state that Utah cannot take anything away from the standards and can only add up to 15% additional material and the additional material will not be assessed. There is no amendment process associated with the standards. They are copyrighted by a private entity. They are not owned by Utah. The following link to Utah’s NCLB waiver application states that our adoption of the Common Core standards satisfies the requirements of waiver. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/ut.pdf (please see page 18 and 84.)

Bill Evers, a research fellow from Hoover Institute and a member of former Governor Romney’s educational advisory committee, recently informed Governor Herbert on July 9, 2012, in my presence, that he had personally discovered a minor error in the language arts standards, dealing with vowels. He contacted the authors, whom he knew, and they acknowledged that he was correct in his discovery, but informed him that the standards had already been printed and adopted in 35 states so they could not be changed; it was too late. If one person could not change an agreed-upon, blatant error in the standards, do you think Utah will have the ability to make changes to the standards? Mr. Evers’ expert opinion was that we will not have that freedom. Is our educational freedom worth giving up for an experimental common core?

I have seen a copy of the letter written by Arne Duncan. I asked Kent Talbert, an attorney focused on K-12 education, for his expert opinion and his initial thoughts were that it might be a political letter and not a legally binding letter. Have you had the letter reviewed by your attorneys to see if it would hold up in court or has any teeth in it to counter your signatures on legally binding documents? The letter is not a carte blanche for Utah to disregard legal obligations. Please seek legal advice before you make statements to the contrary.

Recently Mr. Evers compared Utah’s previous mathematical standards with Common Core’s and stated that the new common core math standards are lower than our previous standards. Do you have an educational analysis of the standards that you can release? What criteria did the validation committee use to judge the standards? After postings like Brenda Hales’ on your blog, I can no longer accept your word at face value. You are in a position of trust and you cannot throw statements around without documentation. It will ultimately hurt your cause and not strengthen it. I urge you to be cautious on the statements that you choose to release to the public. I hope that the blog represents Ms. Hales’ opinion and not the opinions of the entire USOE.

I listened to the Rod Arquette show last week with Joel Coleman and Craig Coleman. I felt like they were sincere in their desire to help educate our children. But again, they provided no references for their beliefs that Common Core would raise, rather than lower standards in Utah. I was also pleased to hear that the USOE will vote on the possibility of exiting the SBAC in August. I would like to lend my support and encouragement for the USOE to withdraw from the SBAC.

I do not usually write letters of this nature but when I read Ms. Hales’ blog I could no longer sit idly by. I feel that it is important that the USOE know how their words are perceived by the public. Obviously, I have a vested interest in the education of my children. There are few things that will move a parent more than the wellbeing of their children.

Thank you for taking the time to read over this. I have attached below a letter that I gave to Governor Herbert on July 9, 2012.

Sincerely ,

Janette Hall

Teachers and Mothers Against Common Core (Video)   Leave a comment

Alisa, Renee and I speak out about our opposition to Common Core.