Archive for the ‘current-events’ Tag

Ogden Examiner Covers GOP Rejection of Common Core While Tribune and Deseret News are Silent   6 comments

The Ogden Examiner covered the Utah GOP’s  rejection of the Common Core at Saturday’s convention. But Utah’s main newspapers, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, have not yet covered the story.

That lack of coverage speaks volumes.

Discussing Common Core is now akin to bringing up religion, sex or politics at family reunions.  People have such varied, and intense, beliefs about it that it can get a little awkward.

WHAT DO TEACHERS WANT?

Almost whispering, a woman in my town came up to me this week and quietly said thank you.  She said that she and the other educators are grateful for those who speak out.  Most of those currently employed in schools don’t dare say anything against common core, fearing ridicule or job loss.

There are exceptions.  David Cox  is currently teaching; Margaret Wilkin, just retired;  and others nationally have spoken out.  And there’s even me.  I’m also a currently credentialed teacher, but I’m homeschooling instead of sending my ten year old (and myself) into the schools of Common Core.  Will the USSB renew my credential?  Will schools hire me in the future when they know I disagree so strongly with the Common Core agenda?  I wonder.

I spoke with a member of the Utah State School Board this week about teachers’ feelings about Common Core, asking if the board would be willing to create an official USOE anonymous survey for teachers like the one Utahns Against Common Core is doing, in order to receive honest, two-sided feedback about Common Core.  The board member told me that would be pointless because “there are always teachers who are angry.”  Those angry ones must not taken too seriously.

This makes me think that teachers need to make it clear to the USOE/USSB that the angry few are not the minority or the “always angry” types.  I suggest that teachers write letters, anonymously if necessary, but often– and many.  How else will the state leaders believe that there is a serious problem?

DEFINING COMMON CORE

Another reason there is a lack of coverage and discussion about the issue is that when we say “Common Core,” we don’t all think of the same thing.

Remember the story of the blind men describing the elephant?  Each blind man reached out and touched the elephant, and were asked to describe it.  One said it was like a tree trunk.  One said it was like a wall.  One said it was like a rope.  All disagreed yet none was lying.  The beast was just bigger and more complex than any of them realized.

Because different teachers teach at different grade levels, and different teachers teach different subjects  (only some of which are affected by Common Core); and because some schools jumped on the Common Core implementation wagon fast, while others are slow; and because the Common Core tests don’t begin until this coming school year; and because the Common Core-aligned textbooks are for the most part, not yet purchased and not yet even printed, things look different in different places.

Then there’s the confusion outside the teachers’ arena; some people are aware of the political strings (such as the lack of an amendment process for common core standards; the copyright on CCSS, the 15% cap placed on it by the Dept of Education; and the lack of voter accountability to the groups who created the standards)  –while many people are unaware, and say, “Common Core is just minimum standards.”

All of these various angles make it difficult to even speak about what Common Core is.

But we have to keep speaking about it.

MOVE– BEFORE THE CEMENT HARDENS

Common Core is not like past education reforms that are quickly altered and tossed away for another set of equally bureaucratic –but alterable– reforms.

This one’s going in cement. Two reasons:

1.  The main architect for Common Core’s ELA standards, David Coleman, was given the position of College Board president, and is aligning college entrance exams (SAT) to Common Core.  The ACT is said to be aligned as well.  This fact alters our entire system of education in the country –and cannot be easily changed later.

2. There is a philosophical and curricular monopoly happening.  The textbook industry is dominated by Pearson, the world’s largest education sales business.  Pearson is officially partnered with Bill Gates, the world’s 2nd richest man, and the main funder of all things common core.  The partnership is writing model common core curriculum (as are the testing consortia) to align all books, teacher trainings, and tests with the same standards.  Meanwhile, 99% of all smaller textbook companies are also republishing all their books to align with Common Core because of this new monopoly on what academic standards ought to cover (or what they ought to skip).

We need more states, more private schools, and more textbook companies  to stand independent of this outrageous, baseless monopoly.  Otherwise, there will soon be no alternatives, no freedom of choice, no ability to soar above the common –for any of us.

We need alternatives to a common alignment with corporate monopolies and one college exam standard.

I hope the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News decide to cover this issue fully, rather than worrying about what the Governor, State School Board, and Prosperity 2020 businesses want them to do.

People deserve to hear the full story, thoroughly covered.  It’s not unimportant:

We are reclaiming the local ability to determine what we will teach our kids.

 

 

 

 

Ask Utah Businesses to Stop Pushing Common Core and Prosperity 2020   6 comments

On August 9, 2012, two groups sent a mass mailer to all legislators in Utah.

The two groups are  Prosperity 2020,   a business group led by our Governor, and a politcal action group Education First, who say they are a business-led movement concered with accountability.   They do explain that their vision is to “champion educational investment,” but they never explain who is accountable to whom, and under what law they assume authority for such accountability.

Since when do business leaders take such an interest in elementary schools and secondary schools?  What are all the reasons for this going out of their way– just altruism?  What do they hope to gain?  Why are they promoting the awful, untested experiment of Common Core? What will be the intended or unintended consequences of having businesses influence what’s taught in our schools? 

They use the claim of “consensus” rather than persuading others that their group and its goals are based on a legitimate constitutional or voter-based foundation.

Has anyone noticed the extreme similarities between Prosperity 2020’s goals and Obama’s 2020 vision?  Has nobody noticed how many “2020” groups exist nationally and internationally? Why isn’t anyone questioning Prosperity 2020 in the local news?

Well, this is what last summer’s letter said.

————————-

PROSPERITY 2020

IT STARTS WITH EDUCATION

August 9, 2012

RE:  SUPPORT FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

Utah business leaders have organized a movement– Prosperity 2020– to advance educational investment and innovation.  We share a common vision with Education First, a citizens group dedicated to improved accountability, innovation and increased investment for education in Utah.  Our vision is that Utah’s educated and trained workforce will propel Utah to enduring prosperity

Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business led education movement in state history.

During the 2012 legislative session, Prosperity 2020 championed Common Core implementation accompanied by robust student assessment…

Business leaders have found consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core… We stand with… our state board of education in moving forward with Common Core….

Prosperity 2020 and Education First are prepared to again champion educational investment and innovation during the 2013 legislative session…

———————–

And on and on the letter goes.

I am concerned about the effect of public-private partnerships on true capitalism and individual representation.  It appears that Prosperity 2020 and Education First are concerned primarily about the economy, not about the well being of children or teachers.  Evidence for this lies in the fact that even the state school board admits there is no evidence to support the theories upon which the Common Core experiment is built– it’s based on unfounded “consensus” and money-hungry “trust.”

These groups represent businesses and a political action committee, linking arms with the governing powers of Utah’s education system– for financial gain.

It’s scary.

Do you know about public-private-partnerships?  Study it.

“What is a public-private partnership? What purposes were they supposedly created to serve? What, on the other hand, is free enterprise? Are the two compatible? In answering these questions we shall see that although advocates of public-private partnerships frequently speak of economic development, public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice being built…  -Dr. Steven Yates (Professor Yates’ white paper is available here. )

His main points are these:

  • Public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice
  • The individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective
  • Public-private partnerships bring about a form of “governance” alien to the founding principles of Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed
  • Vocationalism in education makes sense if one’s goals are social engineering, since it turns out worker bees who lack the  tools to think about the policies shaping their lives

By not questioning the motivations and the possibly unintended consequences of these public-private partnerships, we set ourselves up to lose even more local control and voter representation.

Let’s analyze Prosperity 2020 a little bit more.  Let’s not “consensus” our way to disaster.

Mark Rice and Me: Common Misadventures in Common Core   1 comment

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rice/common-core-math_b_2781092.html

This article needs wide exposure.

 

Misadventures in Common Core

By Mark Rice – reposted from Huffington Post

My daughter — a bright, fun-loving 8-year-old who isn’t easily rattled — was reduced to tears in school yesterday. Apparently, while working on a math lesson involving fractions, she wasn’t “getting it” the way that she thought she should, and her frustration mounted and her eyes welled up and, later, when her teacher talked to her in the hallway on the way to gym class, she lost it and she cried and cried.

I know this because her teacher — a committed professional who does wonderful work with her class of third-graders — cared enough to call us at home to tell us. When asked, she said that lots of kids were feeling frustrated by this particular lesson. The reason, we learned, is New York’s recent embrace of the “Common Core” that has been adopted by 46 states. It’s the latest experiment put into place by educational policy experts who continually jockey to get the newest big ideas into the classroom.

When I first heard about the Common Core, I was excited. Many of the college students I teach are unprepared to do the kinds of textual analysis and critical thinking that I expect of them, and what I had heard about the Common Core made it seem promising. One article that I read in The Atlantic made it sound, well, revolutionary.

Maybe it will be. The Common Core might turn out to be one of the best reforms in K-12 education in decades. It’s all still pretty new and its cumulative impact on the intellectual development of students might turn out to be a great thing. What I know right now, though, is that it is asking third graders to approach math in ways that seem terribly unsuited to them.

I don’t just mean things like the worksheet that included a rectangle divided into six sections with written instructions asking students to shade one-fifth of it.

[Note: As I wrote the above sentence, my daughter — who had been in bed for an hour and should have been asleep — came downstairs in tears, saying that she was still upset by what happened in math class. After talking about her frustrations, she fell asleep beside me on the sofa.]

No, I’m not talking about the typographical error on an official New York State Common Core third-grade math worksheet, though such a boneheaded mistake does little to inspire confidence.

What I mean by math problems unsuited to third-graders are ones that go something like this: Two kids are served brownies. One kid, “Julian,” eats one-half of a small brownie and the other kid, “Debbie,” eats one-eighth of a big brownie. Julian claims that he ate more than Debbie (because one-half is more than one-eighth). The students are asked to explain why Julian’s claim is false, using words and pictures, and then use words and pictures to make that supposedly false statement into a true statement.

I guess that what the students are supposed to realize is that because the brownies are different sizes (though what kind of adult would cut unequal-sized brownies for kids?), one-half isn’t necessarily bigger than one-eighth. That’s true, but without knowing the size of each brownie, there really isn’t enough information to determine which brownie piece is bigger. Maybe Julian really did eat more than Debbie.

More to the point though, is this question: How in the world is that problem supposed to help a third-grader learn fractions? Third-graders are concrete thinkers and they are just learning the basics of fractions. Why throw in a poorly-written word problem that asks them to explain an abstract concept such as the idea that one-eighth of a larger whole may be bigger than one-half of a smaller whole? Until they fully understand the basics of halves and eighths — and unless there is a picture showing the relative sizes of each whole — such abstractions only muddy the waters of learning.

Then there is the problem of dividing a “whole” into two “halves,” calling each half a new whole, and then asking the students to divide the new whole into new halves. My daughter looked at the problem and she knew that she wasn’t seeing two new wholes. She was seeing two halves of the original whole that still stared back her from the page.

More insidious still is a worksheet that seems determined to confuse students by its use of two very similar sounding, and similar looking words. The instructions for Column A read: “The shape represents one whole. Write a fraction to describe the shaded part.” Below the instructions are a variety of shapes with different fractions shaded. The same shapes and shades are found in Column B. This time students are instructed: “The shaded part represents one whole. Divide one whole to show the same unit fraction you wrote in A.”

These third grade students are expected to keep in mind not only the lesson on fractions, but also the fine distinction between the words “shape” and “shade” in determining wholes and fractions. It’s absurd.

I don’t know how my daughter will do in math today or in the coming weeks. I hope that with her teacher’s guidance, and with the support of her mother and me, she’ll make the adjustments she needs to make in order to regain her confidence in understanding the math concepts that she was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.

Until then, we’ll just keep reassuring her that the problem isn’t her ability to understand math; the problem is how she’s being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental “big idea” that she’s unknowingly become part of.

— — — — —

Thanks to Mark Rice for his article. 

At Wasatch High School, where my teenager goes, there have been no math books for two years and there won’t be any next year either.  I know this because I called and asked.

No textbook.  No online book. No resource for parents or students, other than the offer to have parents attend class with the student.  Or afterschool tutoring.  Still booklessly.

This is the case because Wasatch High (or the school board– not sure who made the call) has decided to “lead” the state in implementing the Common Core.  So rather than to take some time –full implementation and testing must be done in 2014– Wasatch started implementing immediately, booklessly.

Math teachers just “make it up” and make daily worksheets from the standards themselves, but without real instruction.  These worksheets don’t look like a math book by any stretch of the imagination.  They are virtually instruction-free.  And my teenager can’t stand it.

I wish there were private schools in the Heber Valley but there are not. My options are to homeschool my teenager, or put up with a THIRD year of no book and no traditional math.

Thank you, Utah State School Board, for truly messing up children’s academic lives and calling it wonderful.

— —- —

While I’m on the subject of how incredibly frustrated I feel with the Utah State School Board and the State Office of Education, I will share a thread from facebook.  Joel Coleman is the state school board member who comments here, and Wendy Hart is a district school board member who understands how bad common core really is.  Joel does not. :

Kris Kimball I’m against the lower Math and Language Art standards in Common Core. I’m against the State School Board signing onto Common Core without any public or legislative input or without any cost analysis as to what this would cost our state. I’m against Common Core’s one size fits all approach that has never worked in education. I’m against nationalized assessments that will drive our curriculum and do away with local control in our schools.
  • Joel Coleman C’mon, we have to be straight here, we can’t keep repeating the same falsehoods in good conscience. The financial analysis was required before the money was appropriated by the legislature 3 years ago.  In fact, the costs dropped from $80M with the previous standards to $5M, so we actually saved a whole boatload of money. There was the same public input (including legislators) as there always is when adjusting or adopting the new Utah core standards for math and English.  And clearly we’re not using nationalized assessments – we’re developing our own using Utah produced questions and reviewed by a board of Utah citizens as required by Utah law.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis Joel Coleman – you’re right – it’s time to be straight.  We’ve spent thousands of hours researching this.  How many have you spent?  I understand that you are on the inside track but I have only had 1, that’s right 1, email returned to me from Brenda Hales.  1 – that is unbelievable to me.  I’m glad that you feel so confident with the numbers put out by the State Office but I would like to see an independent cost analysis done.  This is not simply about standards.  You need to look at all of the reforms we’re putting in place to first, comply with our Race to the Top application, (I know we didn’t win but we never reversed – aside from the assessments- any of our commitments) and then look at the NCLB waiver very closely.  There is a lot to this.  Have you read the National Governor’s Implementation guide where they suggested states may have to hide some of the costs associated with implementing Common Core?  They suggested increasing class sizes.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis The one email I was sent spouted the same lines we’ve heard from the beginning, un-sourced of course.  I did however get forwarded an email that you wrote the Lieutenant Governor attaching a 204 page document with the comment that here’s all the info those opposing Common Core “claim to have never received”.  Did you send it to me?  That document had the same rhetoric too.  They didn’t even get the committee Sandra Stotsky was on right.  I would encourage you to look around the Country and you’ll notice our outrage is not isolated to UT.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis And same ole’, same ole’ doesn’t cut it in this case.  We’ve NEVER adopted standards like this before and we’ve never agreed to them before they were even written.  That is just absurd, in my opinion.
  • Anissa Wardell The “core” of this issue is that USOE is not being straight with any of us. Utah has implemented new standards, shifting the entire state and requiring districts to enact new training, new curriculum, and new assessments, and the state has somehow saved us $75 million? Where did you get that $5 million dollar figure? I would love to see how we have saved $75 million dollars.
  • Joel Coleman Simple, the $5M is what the legislature gave for training – that’s the implementation cost.  The rest of the costs are the same as before.  Previously they gave about $80M.  It’s not that complicated.
  • Alyson Oldham Williams Joel Coleman could you direct us to where we can see those figures? I’ve looked over the appropriations documents going back to 2008 and can’t find what you’re talking about. Thanks!
  • Renee LaPray Braddy Joel Coleman, you should talk to the districts.  Alpine is finding that they are spending a lot on implementing Common Core.  It seems as though the districts will be absorbing the majority of the cost.  I don’t think it is asking too much to have a cost analysis.  Do you?
  • Wendy Hart Brenda Hales said at Rep. Powell’s forum in Heber that in Utah, we never have enough money for this sort of thing, so the districts have to work it into the cycle of purchasing materials and professional development.
  • Wendy Hart What it does do is reset the spending priorities of the local districts. We would not have spent nearly $1M additional on professional development costs, not would we have purchased new math books. I would have preferred to reduce class sizes.
  • Renee LaPray Braddy Joel Coleman, have you seen this recent study in NY? “There are serious challenges to this federal program’s validity, and the research upon which it is based. Without substantive validation, New York State and U.S. taxpayers are funding a grand and costly experiment that has the potential to take public education in the wrong direction at a time when we need to be more competitive than ever before.”

Indiana Department of Education: “It’s Not Easy To Get Rid of Common Core”   Leave a comment

An article in today’s Heartland Institute, by Joy Pullman, quotes Indiana’s State Superintendent and the Department spokesman saying that Indiana must re-evaluate the Common Core Standards and that “It’s not easy to get rid of Common Core.”

 http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/02/05/bipartisan-leaders-rethink-indianas-common-core-participation

Bipartisan Leaders Rethink Indiana’s Common Core Participation 

by Joy Pullman

A bill to withdraw Indiana from Common Core national education standards is morphing into a bipartisan bid to have the state reconsider with more public input.

When 46 states signed the initiative in 2010, few held public hearings. Kentucky even agreed to adopt the requirements for what K-12 kids should know in English and math before they were published. Even now, nearly three years later, legislators, teachers, parents, and the general public routinely report in interviews and opinion polls they’ve never heard of the Core.

Lack of public input is a central concern of state Sen. Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), Senate Bill 193’s original author. During a January 16 hearing on the bill, however, he publicly noted testimony from Indiana Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Vice President Derek Redelman. Redelman worried that by overriding a state board of education vote to adopt the Core, the legislature was thwarting established procedure.

A Senate Education Committee vote on SB 193 was scheduled for Jan. 23, but has been moved back several times and now is slated for Feb. 13. The delays reflect a pending amendment to the bill “to make it more acceptable to a greater number of members on the committee,” said Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn).

Once senators pin down the amendment, the bill will likely put the Common Core on hold in Indiana, Kruse said. That means it would stay in place for kindergarten and first grade, where the state has already phased it in. Between the bill becoming law and the end of 2013, it would have the state department of education hold one public hearing in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. The bill would also require the governor’s budget office to analyze the Core’s costs to the state over the next five years. After that, the bill may require the Education Roundtable, a board under the governor’s purview, and state board of education to publicly reconsider their 2010 decision.

“More people are aware of [Common Core] now than the first time around,” Kruse told School Reform News. “So even though groups may try to approve it again, we’ll have more people involved in the decision.”

Despite these accommodations to ICC concerns, the chamber has issued email blasts to members, asking them to pit their state senators against SB 193.

“Common Core is under assault from a contingent of out-of-state special interests, tea party activists and conservative Republican legislators,” reads one email from ICC President Kevin Brinegar.

Since 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Common Core’s underwriter stationed in Washington state, gave the ICC’s parent organization $3.8 million to “engage the business community” to support national standards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce then disseminated this money and advocacy to its state and local members, according to public tax documents.

Newly elected state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, a Democrat and former teachers union president, has signaled her support for SB 193 based on concerns she’s heard from teachers, administrators, and parents around the state, said Indiana Department of Education spokesman David Galvin.

“Indiana had exceptional standards before Common Core,” Ritz said in a statement. “The Indiana Department of Education, and its board, must re-evaluate Common Core Standards to determine what parts we will accept or reject and determine which of our current Indiana standards should be retained.”

Ritz also plans to withdraw Indiana from Common Core tests because she is against high-stakes testing, Galvin said, and is investigating whether she can decide that herself or if that move requires approval from the governor or board of education.

The idea is to make an Indiana standard, to take the best of these programs and make our own,” Galvin said. Ritz agrees with conservative critics that the Core constitutes “removal of local control. That’s something the superintendent wants to reinstall,” he said.

Ditching the Core may cost the state federal education money, he noted, because its federal No Child Left Behind waiver requires involvement.

“It’s not easy to get rid of Common Core,” he said.

— — —

National Federation of Republican Women: Defeat Common Core   3 comments

The document I’ve pasted here is co-sponsored by the Republican Women’s Federations of Alabama, Nebraska, Delaware, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Do you think it is time for Utah to join them?

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION

Defeat National Standards for State Schools
Passed Unanimously at the NFRW36th Biennial Convention
Kansas City, MO – October 1, 2011

WHEREAS, The national standards-based “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the Obama’s Administration’s agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;

WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is using the same model to take over education as it used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;

WHEREAS, National standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;

WHEREAS, National standards undercut the principle of federalism on which our nation was founded;

WHEREAS, There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, national curricula, or national assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and

WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized public-school system by (1) funding to date more than $345 million for the development of national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);

BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Federation of Republican Women vote to encourage all State Federation Presidents to share information about national standards with their local clubs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That State Federation Presidents ask their members to (1) contact their State Boards of Education members and request that they retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing, (2) contact their Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the threat of a federal government takeover of education.

Submitted by: Alabama Federation of Republican Women
Elois Zeanah, President

Co-Sponsors:

Nebraska Federation of Republican Women
Delaware Federation of Republican Women
Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women
Georgia Federation of Republican Women
Tennessee Federation of Republican Women

How Fast Are We Losing Educational Liberty?   5 comments

How fast are our leaders negatively transforming U.S. Education and removing parents from the process since the election?

Ten days after the election, our Secretary of Education announced a new direction in which the US will partner with the UN and Common Core will be the vehicle for “International Education.”

Then, the Utah State Board of Education announced a $39 million contract with American Institutes for Research (AIR) an extremely liberal international organization with ties to one-world promoters Bill and Melinda Gates and socialist George Soros.  AIR collects data on school children and plays a very active role in projects dealing with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) youth, Civil Rights, social and behavioral issues, and international health care.

How many parents know AIR  is the group writing their child’s new school tests?

Then, just this week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch voted to bring a very dangerous UN Treaty to the floor of the Senate which Harry Reid will push into a vote.  It takes parental rights away in favor of a UN committee to decide what is best for the “rights of the child”.

Please call and write your representatives.

Alisa Ellis: To Wasatch School Board July 2012   Leave a comment

Mr. Judd,

Thank you for taking the time last month to sit down with us as concerned citizens and listen to our concerns.  As I told you last month I would not be expending a lot of energy pushing for public comment about this policy. It’s unfortunate that the board decided to write a “non-policy” when confronted with voices from their constituents.  We are not misinformed nor ignorant.  Many of the parents questioning these decisions are parents of some of your highest performing students.  We value education, we value teachers, we value children, and we value freedom.

It is for these  reasons that we are making your life and the board’s life a little more difficult.  Being challenged is good because it causes one to think.  Is there any merit to what we are saying?  You and the board may not think so but there are voices all over the Country that share my concerns and no they are not all of the same political spectrum.  This comment made me think: (from a Facebook discussion)

 ‎Alisa Olsen Ellis, what I find interesting and at the crux of your question is that right wing conservatives think socialism is behind CCSS, and left wing liberals think fascism (corporatism) is behind Ed Reform.

Is it a socialist movement? Is it “Common Core” as in “Communism”…which is extreme socialism? Is this part of Obama’s great socialist plan for the US: Obamacare and Obamacore? Will Common Core stifle innovation and the drive to succeed?

Or is this a Fascist movement? Is dismantling teacher unions and eliminating seniority the means to allow a nationalistic, authoritarian government? Is CCSS and the illusion of choice and vouchers an outward sign of intolerance. Do we keep hearing about rigor and skills as part of the need to discipline our nation’s children?

Which leads to me wonder, does it matter? The end result of either is slavery to an undemocratic system.

 

Please take the time to listen to concerned parents.  We aren’t asking for much, really.  Everyone from the district keeps telling us that they “would NEVER give out our children’s personally identifiable information”.  All we’re asking is that Wasatch School District has a policy in place that reflects the above sentiments.

Wasatch School District will never give out personally identifiable information without the prior consent of the parents.

This pretty much covers everything.  The medical form can have a check box on it where the parent gives permission for that information to be released in cases of emergency.  Maybe this is too simplistic but you guys tried it so I thought why not, I should too.

Please take the time to read my comments from last month — they still apply and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

P.S. Parents keep telling me that they are being told that if they don’t like this or that they can always pull their kids out of school and homeschool or put them in a private school, etc.  Is this really how we’re going to treat parents who have questions?  Tell them to go away — regardless of where our children go to school, we are still tax paying citizens who have a voice in what happens in the public school system.

Previous 30-day comment period’s letter to the Wasatch School Board from Alisa:

From: Alisa Ellis <alisa.ellis@gmail.com> Date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM Subject: FERPA comment To: vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu

To Whom It May Concern –

I want to first thank you for answering our request to put the FERPA policy revisions up for a thirty-day review.  I want to make it clear that the intentions of my heart are far from contentious.  I understand that you may not see it that way.  I’ve avoided e-mail conversations because it is very hard to interpret tone and meaning through an email message.  I would much prefer an open dialect.  In this case that is not possible so I will do my best to put my thoughts down on paper.

A citizen asked me what I’m afraid of.  Do I think a black car will start following my kids?  This was tongue in cheek but an appropriate question.  The answer is NO.  I also believe the local administrators and board have the best of intentions and truly want to protect our children.  What I ask of you today is to make sure that the policies that our district votes to adopt truly reflect the intent of your hearts.

It has been said that the FERPA revision was to protect our children.  I recognize that as a citizen I cannot see the full scope of what was behind these changes but I can read the changes themselves.  (Wasatch FERPA old & new)

The changes put into place in our local policy give more exceptions to the rule.  In 9.2 it gives permission for “organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools.”  I am not opposed to all studies but my children are not guinea pigs.  Why on earth do organizations need my children’s personally identifiable information without my parental consent?  It is my right as a parent to decide what studies I’d like my children to be a part of.

Further at the April 19th meeting the changes to number 3 were not mentioned.  If I may make a suggestion I’d like to suggest that we as a district be more specific in our policy.

Who is an authorized representative?  As defined in the Federal Register the term is somewhat vague.  They state that they are doing this to streamline and protect children’s data but at the same time they are opening up our children’s personally identifiable data to just about anyone, as I see it.  Please clearly define this term.

I spoke with Carol Lear who is the in-house attorney at the State Office of Education.  She told me to just put a note in each of my children’s files stating that I do not allow Personally Identifiable Information to be released.  That is not good enough for many reasons one of which is that in Appendix B of the Federal Register it lays out “certain rights” as a parent “with respect to the student’s education records.”  In number 3 it then says “The right to provide written consent before the school discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent”.  As you can see I have no power as a parent.  The policy overrides that authority.

You may be thinking that we won’t let anything happen that is not in the best interest of our children here in Wasatch County.  What I’m saying is that if the policy doesn’t clearly state your intentions you too may have no power just as my parental authority has been stripped.  We need to stand together to protect our children as parents, citizens, and educational representatives.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

Heber City Resident

Further items to Consider:

Race to the Top for the District

This was just announced in May and the Executive Summary is out for review.

Page 13

Program Requirements

5.  Work with the Department to develop a FERPA-compliant strategy to make all

implementation and student-level data (FERPA compliant) available to the Department or

its designated monitors, technical assistance providers, or research partners.

As I see this it is now circumventing the State office of Education and our district, if we apply, would be beholden to the Federal Department of Education be required to send them whatever information they ask for.

Recovery Plans from 2010 – i.e. Stimulus Bill

STATEWIDE DATA SYSTEMS RECOVERY PLAN

1. Program Purpose:

The purpose of assistance under this program is to enable State educational agencies to design, develop, and implement

statewide, longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student

data. In addition, the program may support awards to organizations to improve data coordination.

Who is David Coleman and Why Should You Care?   2 comments

David Coleman has never been a teacher.  And he’s kind of a jerk and a potty mouth.  But this architect of Common Core is now President of the College Board.

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2012/04/david-colemans-global-revenge-and.html

He is Michelle Rhee’s treasurer at StudentsFirst.  He openly mocks narrative writing and classic literature.  He thinks literature is inferior to nonfiction (info-texts) and his Common Core does mandate the minimalizing of literature in English classes.

Explaining why he believes students need less literature and less narrative writing practice, he says, “As you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” –Coleman at NY State Department of Education presentation, April 2011

His bizarre ideas go virtually unchallenged.

A lot of English teachers disagree with him quietly.  But he’s the chief architect of the K-12 ELA Common Core national standards and President of the College Board. What can we do?  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/education/david-coleman-to-lead-college-board.html

At least, we should be aware of his mind operates; it affects all of us now.

He’s now aligning the K-12 Common Core national standards with college entrance exam standards.

Aligning the ACT and SAT to the CCSS will require lowering college standards.  If the K-12 CCSS were truly college- and career-ready standards, then why would anyone adjust the “standard measures” of college readiness?  http://boston.com/community/blogs/rock_the_schoolhouse/2012/05/the_wrong_lesson_on_national_s.html

So Coleman’s work is now to lower standards for most college students across the nation.  Why?

One of the lies of Common Core is that it raises standards for all.  This doesn’t even make logical sense.  How can everyone be brought to a single standard without holding back the highest achievers and without rushing the struggling achievers?  In reality, Common Core raises standards for students in states who had low standards before, and lowers standards for states who has higher ones before (like Massachusetts).

Stanford Professor Michael Kirst explained that Common Core’s

“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…”       http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

These Coleman lies need exposure.  The illogical claims need exposure.  Colleges need to speak up and demand the removal of Coleman from the College Board and abolish his plot to create a single, common educational denominator for all.

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