Archive for the ‘defending liberty’ Tag

IMPORTANT: State School Board Candidate Information, Debates and Endorsements   6 comments

State School Board elections are coming up fast.  If you don’t know which district is your state school board voting district, click here.  If you want to learn who’s running and what each stands for, check out Sutherland Institute’s page, posted  for all state school board candidates to introduce themselves to voters.  Each candidate who responded answered 13 education policy questions and some also uploaded  introductory videos.

 

State School Board Candidate Debates begin tonight:

District 15: June 7th at 6:30 p.m. at George Washington Academy in St. George.

District 4: June 8th at 6:30 p.m at North Davis Preparatory Academy in Layton.

District 7: June 15th at 6:30 p.m. at Salt Lake Arts Academy.

District 8: June 16th at 6:30 p.m. at American International School of Utah in Murray.

District 11: June 18th at 9:30 a.m. at Early Light Academy in South Jordan.

District 10: June 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at Channing Hall in Draper.

District 12: June 23rd at 6:30 p.m. at Noah Webster Academy in Orem.

alisa vote

Alisa Ellis, District 12

frank strickland

Frank Strickland, District 7

boulter

Michelle Boulter, District 15

sharette

David Sharette, District 8

lisa cummins

Lisa Cummins for District 11

dr t

Dr. Gary Thompson, District 10

 

Elevating Education Rally:  Common No More

On Saturday, June 11th at 10:00 in the Hall of Governors at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City, there will be gathering  that will star the six liberty-minded candidates.

Vote for those who know that “parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children”.  Don’t allow the lobbyists to determine this vital election of our new state school board.  Let it be the most liberty-minded candidates who win.  This week, on June 11th, please come to the capitol, meet the friends you haven’t met yet, and gather to ask these candidates some questions.

Can’t wait to see you there!

 

flier

Radio Interviews

On Wednesday, June 8th from 10:00 – 12:00, K-TALK radio AM 630 will interview six liberty-minded candidates for Utah State School Board, including:

Alisa Ellis (District 12), Dr. Gary Thompson (District 10)Michelle Boulter (District 15)Lisa Cummins (District 11)David Sharette (District 8) , and  Frank Strickland   (District 7).  To call in to ask questions, call 801-254-5855.

If you click on the six candidates’ names above, you will reach their candidacy sites, Facebook pages or news articles.  Please leave a testimonial for them if they have a spot for you to do so, and share these with friends and family in each of the voting districts.  I have also posted a campaign speech video and a Band of Mothers video from candidate Alisa Ellis, below.  If you have additional videos for additional liberty-minded candidates,  please post them in the comments section.

 

 

 

gary vote

michelle boulter

alisa's district

Update:

Tomorrow’s rally is really important.  There are so many terrible candidates running for state school board.  There are only a handful of conservatives, and they could turn the years-long tide of federal overreach and loss of parental control if they could get elected.  I hope many can come, even though political rallies might not be as much fun as a million other June Saturday morning activities.

Of particular concern and interest to me is District 7, the Salt Lake City/Park City race.  I don’t live in that district, but it seems incredibly important to me.  The incumbent, Leslie Castle, is probably the #1 worst state school board member, to some of us at Utahns Against Common Core.  She was crazy about losing Utah’s freedom in education under the Common Core, and was vicious (and dishonest) toward those who confronted her about it.  See my four year old posts on Leslie Castle here.

She recently told Frank Strickland, her opponent (the one I support) this, which he posted on his campaign Facebook page:

“Last week the incumbent I am running against [Leslie Castle] amazingly said:  ‘I represent the education system of the State- not the parents or children.’  Another quote: “The education system does not belong to parents, its does not belong to the students, it belongs to the commonwealth of Utah’.   Of course my stance is that the control of education resides with the parents, and it is primarily for the good of the students. In doing so I agree with the Constitution of the State of Utah. I will be a voice for the common person at the board, and my door will always be open to hear from you, the voter, first. We already have enough members listening to the special interests.”

Frank Strickland has many other questionable opponents; notably, Dan Tippets, who recently accepted a huge campaign contribution ($20,000) from a D.C.-based social welfare organization “Leadership for Educational Equity” and even more notably:  Carol Lear, the former top attorney at the Utah State Office of Education, who ushered in the Common Core and data mining State Longitudinal Database Systems six years ago.

I wrote to Lear in 2012, asking her in good faith to help clarify why we had joined the Common Core bandwagon, when there seemed to be no amendment process for the states governed by it.  Lear responded, “Why would there need to be an amendment process?  The whole point is to be common.”  She saw no virtue in the freedom to disagree, she said.  That tells you exactly how concerned she wasn’t, or isn’t, about local and state autonomy over educational decision-making.

Vote Frank Strickland if you are in Park City or Salt Lake City’s District 7.

In other districts, please vote for Alisa Ellis, Dr. Gary Thompson, Lisa Cummins, and Michelle Boulter.

Please come if you can tomorrow, at 10:00 a.m. to the Hall of Governors at the State Capitol, to support these wonderful candidates and their cause, which is the cause of freedom and family and real education.

 

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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.

PARENTAL RIGHTS ON THE LINE: Come at 4:00 Today – Capitol Building: HB164 and HB264   4 comments

With my stomach in knots at two sickening bills that are poised to be slammed through today, I will go (hopefully alongside very many other moms and dads and teachers like me, along with our children) to make the drive, find the impossible parking, and attend the hearings today at 4:00 at the House Building in our State Capitol building.

POWELK

POWELL – THE SPONSOR OF THE COMMON CORE-

BASED, FORCED YEARLONG TESTING BILL

 

We’ll hear legislative discussion and, if we’re lucky, will hear strong citizen testimony, on both HB 164 (that’s the “Let’s force SAGE/Common Core yearlong assessment on all kids without parental consent” bill) –now a very slightly altered version of what got voted down a few days ago, which has been unfortunately resurrected by the desperate Representatives Powell/Milner, likely egged on by equally desperate Governor Herbert and his USOE.

See lines 82-85:  “providing that scores on the tests and assessments… may [not] be considered in determining:
84          (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course; or
85          (ii) whether a student may advance to the next grade level.”

By taking out “not” they have made it so that kids opting out of common core year-round tests may not pass the class or the grade, if this passes.  That breaks many other laws that place parents as primary authority, schools as supporting authority, in a child’s education.  How can parents truly have a say if the law says otherwise?   Even more importantly, a yes vote on this bill is a yes vote for the common core itself, since it assumes that the tests based on those standards are valid.  VOTE NO.

 

Also:

brian king

KING – SPONSOR OF HB264, THE ALIGNING UTAH WITH

COMMON SEX STANDARDS BILL

 

We’ll hear discussion on HB 264, the bill that alters Utah’s current sex education program, which is, or was, reasonably, actually about the medically correct facts about reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that abstinence and fidelity are great tools to avoid trouble — but now, under HB 264, is to  be replaced by  the “common core” national standards for sex ed, which are code named “comprehensive sexuality education,” all about altering “values, beliefs and attitudes” about sex and gender identity, with no moral judgment of any kind allowed to be taught, and no such thing as deviant or perverted behaviors to be mentioned; such seem not to exist, under the common national sex standards, separately from healthy and moral sexual behavior.

As Wendy Hart, Alpine School Board member, pointed out:   “We will be told [HB 264] is about knowledge.  Here’s some evidence.  CDC ranks Utah 47th for STDs compared to all of the other 50 states. According to the Guttmacher Institute Utah is rated 45th for teen pregnancy and 49th for teen abortions. States such as California and New York that teach comprehensive sex education are ranked in the top 10 states for all these teenage sexual activities.  So, should Utah continue with its successful abstinence-based education program resulting in Utah students ranking an average of 47th out of all 50 states for teenage sexual activity or should we change to a failed comprehensive sex education program that has produced teen sexual activity rates in the top 10 of all states?”

sex standards

—————————————————————————

With permission, I am posting the open email and letter now, from Dr. Gary Thompson, an African-American doctor of clinical psychology (who is also currently a candidate for District 10 in the battle for State School Board seats).

This letter was sent yesterday to the legislators, who will vote on HB164 today.

Email:

To: blast@le.utah.gov,”V. Lowry Snow” <vlsnow@le.utah.gov>,LaVar Christensen <lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov>,kimcoleman@le.utah.gov,brucecutler@le.utah.gov,seliason@le.utah.gov,justinfawson@le.utah.gov,Francis Gibson <fgibson@le.utah.gov>,ehutchings@le.utah.gov,dlifferth@le.utah.gov,dmccay@le.utah.gov,csmoss@le.utah.gov,mnoel@kanab.net,mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

Subject: Memo To House/Press Release RE: Objection to HR 164-2

Dear Honorable Members of the Utah House of Representatives Education Committee:
Please find attached, my formal objection to HR 164-2, which if passed, will mandate that all Utah students be subjected to a experimental, non validated test, regardless of parental, medical doctor or psychological doctor objections.    I believe that this test is not only a experimentation on Utah’s children’s without informed written consent from parents, it is by its very design, discriminatory against African American, Latino, Gifted, Autistic, and Special Education Students in Utah public schools.
It is my understanding that this Bill will be up for a (re) vote sometime early this week.    Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions, or need volumes of peer reviewed research which backs the contents of my letter.
I have been flooded with email and social media requests to address this issue from my perspective as a doctor of psychology, and father of five divergent learning, African American children.
I appreciate your civic service performed on behalf of the children in the State of Utah.   Thank you very much for your attention.
Best regards;

 

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
gary
Accompanying letter:

February 21, 2016
Re: Objection to HB 164-2

Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.

Dr. Gary T. Thompson

Utah State House of Representatives House Education Committee

Dear House Education Committee:

I am writing in regards to HB 164-2 on behalf of my five African-American children, as well as the hundreds of mothers who have graced the halls of the pediatric clinical/education child psychology clinic that I co-founded with my wife. This Bill will require all public school children in the State of Utah to take the SAGE assessment test, eliminate the option of parents to opt their children out of taking the test, and will mandate the usage of SAGE as a primary determinate for advancement in early elementary school grades, as well as graduation from Utah public high schools. The passage of this Bill will have far-reaching negative academic, psychological, ethical, economic, and legal consequences that will haunt our State for generations.

I have devoted my life to the research, study and ethical clinical usage of emotional, cognitive and academic achievement tests to assist parents, schools, and courts with making life-altering decisions for children. During my Doctoral Internship and Residency, I gained a intimate working knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the incredible technology and psychometric qualities embedded in the algorithms of the computer adaptive tests that are now the foundational basis of the SAGE test at issue of this Bill.

The psychometric algorithms imbedded inside the SAGE test are remarkable, cutting edge, and unlike anything our generation has seen or experienced in our lifetime. As a local clinical community scientist, I have spent many hours enthusiastically reading peer reviewed studies from my colleagues over the past 8 years in anticipation of utilizing computer adaptive assessment of this nature for children in my community, as well as my own children.

I am a strong advocate for the ethical and prudent usage and inclusion of technology in efforts to assist ground level teachers with serving the academic needs of children in educational settings. The next 4 years will see innovations in this area that will be awe inspiring, as well as ground breaking in nature.

Despite my scientific enthusiasm and support for the inclusion and integration of psychometric tools, such as the SAGE test, in the academic lives of my children, and the children of my neighbors in my community, I beg you both as father, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, to never let this Bill see the light of day. My strong objection is not based on personal politics, and obviously has no basis in a “fear of technology”.

This Bill must not pass for one reason, and one reason only: It is still in its developmental/experimental phase, and has yet to be validated independently for its intended purpose. Without a shadow of a doubt, the corporation that the Utah State Office of Education chose as the vendor for the SAGE test (American Institute of Research), has launched the most expansive, massive, unethical experimentation on public school children ever witnessed in the history of Utah. Clinical psychology is replete with tragic, historical examples of the dire consequences associated with experimentation without the informed, written consent of its human participants. To pass a law which takes away the right of parents of protect their psychologically vulnerable children from the adverse, and well documented effects of high stakes, experimental assessment of any nature, is irresponsible, unethical, and dangerous.

One needs to look no further than the State of Florida to see the chaos, harm and damage associated with the AIR produced Common Core test currently being utilized for purposes of grade advancement, and teacher evaluations. In closing, on behalf of the parents of African American, Latino, Divergent Learning, Special Education, Gifted, Anxious, Depressed, Suicidal, ADHD, Autistic, and emotionally vulnerable children in the State of Utah, I respectfully request that the House not only allow parents to opt out of the SAGE test, but encourage them to withdraw their children when they witness excessive signs of distress associated with experimental, high stakes testing. In addition, I ask that no high stakes, experimental test produced by a corporate vendor, validated or not, ever be given the “respect” of being tied to grade advancement or high school graduation.

Using our kids as experimental laboratory rats, without the informed written consent of parents, to achieve “career and college readiness” is unethical by any professional standard, and is a direct affront to our God given and Constitutionally protected right as parents to protect, raise and nurture our children without invasive governmental interventions. Please vote “NO” on HB 164-2. “Parents are, and must always be, the resident experts of their own children.”

Respectfully Submitted;

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.
Retired Father of Five Divergent Learning Children
2016 Candidate-Utah State Board of Education-District 10

 

Early Life –   10757 So. Riverfront Parkway Ste. #275 South Jordan, UT 84095

Tel: 385-900-4020 Email: drgary@earlylifepsych.com Website: www.earlylifepsych.com

——————————————-

If you can’t be at the capitol at 4:00 today, please text, email, and call the House Ed committee members:
Rep. Brad Last blast@le.utah.gov
Rep. Lowry Snow vlsnow@utah.le.gov 435-703-3688
Rep. LaVar Christensen lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov 801-808-5105
Rep. Kim Coleman kimcoleman@le.utah.gov 801-865-8970
Rep. Bruce Cutler brucecutler@le.utah.gov 801-556-4600
Rep. Steve Eliason seliason@le.utah.gov 801-673-4748
Rep. Justin Fawson justinfawson@le.utah.gov 801-781-0016
Rep. Francis Gibson fgibson@le.utah.gov
Rep. Eric Hutchings ehutchings@le.utah.gov
Rep. David Lifferth dlifferth@le.utah.gov 801-358-9124
Rep. Daniel McCay dmccay@le.utah.gov 801-810-4110
Rep. Michael Noel mnoel@kanab.net 435-616-5603

Thanks for your support of children’s innocence, parental authority, and children’s future liberty.

 

Inspiration From Houston’s #AboutTheChild Conference   Leave a comment

At the #AboutTheChild conference in Houston last week, B&L Network speakers said that even in the middle of a struggle we might seem to be losing, we have great power and great hope.

Although America is seeing dangerous shifts in who can and who cannot amend tests, in who controls (and does not protect) children’s data;  in who gets to redefine even babies’ “educations” as a collective-economy-purposed thing; while we see corporate and federal “central planners” ram initiatives without a vote to assume “stakeholder” rights over our little ones– even in this awful situation, we can defend children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy education; that is, time-tested, soul-enlarging, non-Common Core education.

I cannot do the conference justice briefly, yet I want to try. A few moments that stood out came from these speeches:

Troy

 

1          Troy Towns, an Alabama minister and political activist, spoke about the numbers of people who should be actively involved in the fight against Common Core and other false reforms.  He retold the story of Gideon in the Old Testament.  Not only did it not bother the Lord that Gideon was vastly outnumbered; the Lord told Gideon to reduce his numbers, by sending away all warriors who were fearful.  Then the Lord instructed Gideon further, to send away all those who were not alert to the enemy while drinking at the stream.  Reduced to 300 people, surrounded by countless armies, the Lord then led Gideon’s group to victory…  It’s not about numbers.  It’s not about who appears to be winning in the moment.  It is about who is on the side of true and honorable principles.

 

daisy

 

2.         Daisy Whisenant, Texas advisor in the Christian Educators Association International, a Christian teacher’s union,  implored listeners to let teachers and students know the truth about “separation between Church and State”.  That idea is designed to prevent governments from promoting one religion above another, while upholding all religions’ freedom of speech.  It is not designed to shut down religious discussions.  A teacher is a government employee, but a child is not.  Nongovernmental citizens (students of all ages) may speak and write freely about their religious beliefs.   For more information, visit CEAI.

hoyt

 

3.      Jason Hoyt, Florida radio personality and author, discussed what “Consent of the Governed” means.  The concept is also the title of his book.  (Click here to find the book Consent of the Governed. )  I read it on my trip home. It teaches the history of local, state, and federal grand juries, and outlines the disintegration of that constitutional authority, which serves –or should serve– as a fourth branch and a check on the other three branches.  The book shows that if “We the People” reclaim proper controls of our grand juries, we can reclaim vital, lost political power –more effectively than if we rely only on elections as the means to enforce fair government.

Angelique

4.      Angelique Clark, a Las Vegas high school student, spoke about the stand she took and the fight that ensued as she founded a pro-life group for teen activists.  When her application for a high school pro-life club was denied, Angelique fought for her First Amendment rights inside a school, with a lawsuit to the school district that finally allowed her to form the pro-life club.  She won.  Her story has been seen on Fox & Friends, On the Record with Greta, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, and elsewhere.

karen

5.      Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, author and researcher, a leader of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and of Education Liberty Watch, spoke about the amount of data being collected on every public school student in the nation without parental knowledge or consent; about the psychological and belief data-gathering goals outlined in the US Department of Education’s “Developing Grit, Tenacity and Persistance” Report; about the unfortunate, newly passed, Every Student Succeeds Act; and about the monster on the horizon, the “Strengthening Education Through Research Act“.  Her presentation should be seen by every member of the U.S. Congress.

peg

6.     Dr. Peg Luksik, a former reform evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, a lifelong teacher, speaker, and honoree by multiple U.S. Presidents, spoke about the idea of common standards.  She asked the audience if there was such a thing as good standards, and answered her question:  no.  There is no such thing as a good set of standards because every child is so different.  She has a child who is a math genius, who cannot do ballet.  She has a daughter who is a ballet genius, who cannot do math.  She asked:  where would the proper, common standard be for those two children?  The idea of top-down decision making for teachers and students is ridiculous.  She said that years ago, “Outcome Based Education” was pushed on the nation, and was defeated by a handful of level-headed patriots.  Common Core and its related initiatives are the same thing, repackaged.  Those who would be central planners of all children’s lives must be defeated again.

duke

7.      Dr. Duke Pesta, an energetic literature professor and administrator at Freedom Project Academy, spoke about the devious history of the Common Core Initiative, up to its promoters’ most recent coup against liberty, the Every Student Succeeds Act.  He emphasized the words of Arne Duncan about the Every Student Succeeds Act, and pointed out that even trusted Republican leadership betrayed liberty with ESSA. We must be smarter and faster in overturning the deceptions of this fight.  (FYI, Utahns: rumor has it that Dr. Pesta will be speaking in Utah this April.)

neil

8.      Neil Mammen, a minister and activist at NoBlindFaith.com (author of 40 Days to a More Godly Nation and Jesus Is Involved in Politics: Why Aren’t You?) echoed the message given by Troy Towns (about Gideon and the numbers-of-warriors issue, above) as he spoke about the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V.  In the scene, when Westmoreland laments not having ten thousand more men to help them fight, the king responds:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.   (Read the whole speech.)

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9.     Joan Landes,  a Utah therapist, crystallized the issue when she said that the problem with government initiatives like Common Core and its web of tests and controls is that it hurts human relationships.  Her presentation about reversing Saul Alinsky’s evil tactics, and her idea of asking every concerned citizen to spend five minutes or five dollars as often as they can, were truly remarkable.

I spoke, too.  The heart of my speech, “Reclaiming Parental Power” came from a realization I had a few nights before the conference, as I thought about the awful situation that is U.S. Education Reform today.  As I wondered how we can keep going in the face of losing, losing, and losing (Common Core is still here; Common Education Standards and Longitudinal Databases are still here; the ESSA federal law makes things so much less free; and SETRA may soon make them even worse) –I had a clear thought:  HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRADE PLACES WITH A MOM IN CHINA– or a mom in any socialist/communist nation, for that matter?  You would have no freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to publish, freedom to work to repeal bad laws.  You hardly have freedom to think, in China.  A lover of freedom living in China, loving her children, would give her arms or legs to have the opportunity to face the problems that we face.  Arms and legs.

The glass will always be half full– never half empty–  as long as there is a person left in America who remembers the words and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom is always worth the fight.

Children will always be the reason.

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This blog post is a partial, inadequate sampling that has not included many additional, wonderful  speakers at the conference.  Every speaker (see biographies and speaker list here) –was moving.

If you missed the conference and the livestream, you can still watch it as part of a package deal with B&L*  Network by purchasing a B&L year membership here.  I’m advertising it because:

The conference speakers were an inspiration, and their words need to be heard far and wide, as do the messages from United States Parents In Education (USPIE) which held a press conference as part of this conference, rolling out a campaign to #StopFedEd.   Also, importantly, consider this: the conference organizer was Alabama homemaker and radio show host Diana Crews, who, with her sweet husband, a professional trucker, went into debt to make this conference happen.  If nobody  watches, she stays in debt.  This was her sacrifice because she believes in making this issue About The Child.  It’s not about the “global economy” or the “school to workforce pipeline” or about “human capital”.  It is about the child.

To support B&L, click here.

* (If you want to know what B & L stands for– and I asked, and was so glad I did– it’s Bears and Lord; as in, Mama & Papa Bears and their Lord).

 

 

 

SENATOR MIKE LEE: HOW SENATOR ALEXANDER’S ESEA/NCLB IS TO BE RAMMED DOWN CONGRESS’ THROAT   4 comments

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Even if you had time to read the final version of the new ESEA bill  which will get released days from now –which you won’t, because you’ll be eating turkey– and even if you agreed with every word (which I’m betting you won’t, because Senator Alexander’s view of ed reform is sick and wrong) –but even if you liked it– shouldn’t you, on principle, still oppose its passage, based on the devious  process being used, a pushing of  laws into their cemented form without representative debate– very fast, and mostly in the dark?

Senator Mike Lee’s fight against this now-brewing, corrupt, “new” No Child Left Behind, inspires me.  His backbone in standing up to the corruptos in Congress that are pushing ESEA is a rare treasure in politics.  Do you realize that he’s fighting for the actual freedom of our children and grandchildren?  This is real.  Listen to him. 

Senator Lee’s railed against some of the corruption; for example, its $250 million plan to hurt good preschools by pushing loser-federal preschools on all; its cementing of Common Core standards,  etc.  There’s more brewing that he hasn’t taken time to denounce yet, such as  its creepy, parent-ditching “community school” program that puts government ahead of families, churches or anyone else in influencing kids and eating up too much of kids’ time; and its cementing of common, kid-stalking data tags (CEDS) –but you can study all of that.

Lee’s big focus is on something more basic:  the dark, un-American process  by which ESEA/NCLB is about to pass into law.

(I keep calling the other members of the Utah delegation to leave messages asking them to join his fight.  Please do, too.)

This process that Senator Lee speaks of is so corrupt.

It is un-American to make Congress  vote on something so fast that it hasn’t been  vetted or understood by voters.   It is un-American to skip debate and to ditch input.  We all know that this law will weigh heavily on everyone who will be ruled by it afterward.  Shouldn’t voters have a real opportunity to look at the bill from all angles and then take the vote?

Senator Lee has pointed out that the process creates the policy.  This is how ESEA/NCLB is to be rammed down the throat of Congress (and all of us) next week.

Step one: right now, a tiny handful of pro-reauthorization members of Congress, behind closed doors, are cooking up the poison pill.

Step 2:  They’ll speed it to a vote so fast that the rest of Congress has no time to think before swallowing, no chance to offer what they are supposed to be allowed to offer:  “motions to instruct the conferees” (input).

Step 3:   They’ll market it under the banner of good-sounding lies and slanted press releases and news stories that will successfully deceive Americans (including our politicians) into believing that control has been returned to the localities.  It won’t be true.  But we’ll figure it out too late to easily reverse it.  Because nobody’s going to really read the bill before they vote yes.

The draft was released a few day ago.  The bill won’t be released until next week, the same week that the vote will be taken: December 2.

The draft bill itself, still called what Sen. Alexander named it years ago, “The Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015” will pass out of draft form into final form as a concoction, mixing  what the house passed plus what the senate passed, both of which were, to freedom lovers, pure ugly.

Now, superglued together under the supervision of those working in the dark with Senator Alexander, it will surely have even a worse blast radius than its past incarnations.

This hurried method is a sick pattern used by the Obama administration.  We saw Secretary Duncan push states with the monetary lure of “Race to the Top” millions to adopt Common Core and its tests and SLDS systems for a chance in that race.  Before that, there was the ARRA funding that was tied, among other things, to governors agreeing to get federally-approved student data collection systems and standards.

Now, the speed of ESEA will similarly  maim freedom, pushing these  controversial programs into  nation-binding law.

I’m reposting Senator Lee’s entire speech below.

After you read it, please call. This monster will affect all Americans for years to come.

Ask for any senator and representative in D.C. at 202-224-3121.  Say, “VOTE NO ON ESEA.”  Done? Thank you!!  Please call again.  Then call for your neighbor who isn’t taking the time to call.  Skip the gym or the crochet project and call some who aren’t your direct reps, too.  Leave them messages — ask them to call you to account for how they plan to vote on December 2.

Politicians need constituents’ support to get re-elected.  Tell them that this is a make or break issue; you won’t vote for them again if they vote yes on ESEA.  Your voice and vote are  leverage.

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Speeches

At some point today the Senate will vote on the motion to appoint conferees – or what’s often called the motion to go to conference – for a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or the ESEA, which is the legislation governing our federal K-12 education policy.

Because most Americans have probably never heard of this obscure parliamentary procedure – the motion to appoint conferees – I’d like to take a moment to explain how it works… or at least, how it’s supposed to work.

When the House and the Senate each pass separate, but similar, bills, the two chambers convene what’s called “a conference.”

A conference is essentially a meeting where delegates from each chamber come together to iron out the differences between their respective bills, and put together what’s called “a conference report” – which is a single piece of legislation that reconciles any disparities between the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill.

Once the delegates to the conference – the conferees – agree on a conference report, they bring it back to their respective chambers, to the House and to the Senate, for a final vote.

It’s important to note here that, once the conference report is sent to the House and the Senate for a final vote, there’s no opportunity to amend the legislation. It’s an up-or-down vote: each chamber can either approve or reject the conference report in its entirety.

If each chamber votes to approve the conference report, it’s then sent to the president, who can either sign it into law or veto it.

So what we’re doing today is voting on the motion to appoint conferees for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Earlier this year, both the House and the Senate passed their own ESEA reauthorizations. And now, we’re voting to proceed to the conference process and to appoint certain senators to participate in that process as conferees.

Historically, and according to the way the conference process is supposed to work, this vote is not that big of a deal. Voting on the motion to appoint conferees is usually, and mostly, a matter of routine.

But it’s not a vote that should be rushed through on a moment’s notice, because it is the last opportunity for senators and representatives who are not conferees – such as myself – to influence the outcome of the conference process.

We can do that by offering what are called “motions to instruct the conferees.”

For example, let’s say I was not chosen to be a conferee to a particular bill, but there was an issue related to the bill that was important to me and to the people I represent – in that case, I could ask the Senate to vote on a set of instructions that would be sent to the conference to inform their deliberations and influence the substance of the conference report.

Mr. President, this is how the conference process is supposed to work.

But it is not how the conference process has been conducted with respect to this bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

Sure, we’re still voting to appoint conferees.

And those conferees will still convene a conference.

And that conference will still produce a conference report.

So from the surface, it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to.

But beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been pre-arranged, pre-cooked, pre-determined… by a select few members of Congress, working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny.

And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult – if not impossible – for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.

Now, why does this matter?

We know the American people care deeply about K-12 education policy. But why should they care about this obscure parliamentary procedure in the Senate?

They should care – and Mr./Madam President, we know that they do care – because the process influences the policy.

In this case, the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work – policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.

For instance, it’s my understanding that this pre-agreement may authorize $250 million in new spending on federal pre-K programs – what amounts to a down-payment on the kind of universal, federally-run pre-K programs advocated by President Obama.

This would be a disaster not only for American children and families, but for our 21st-century economy that increasingly requires investments in human capital.

We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for upward economic mobility later in life. A mountain of recent social science research proves what experience and intuition have been teaching mankind for millennia: that a child’s first few years of life are critical in their cognitive and emotional development.

Yet we also know that too many of America’s public schools, especially those in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, fail to prepare their students to succeed.

Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Head Start, which has consistently failed to improve the lives and educational achievements of the children it ostensibly serves.

According to a 2012 study by President Obama’s own Department of Health and Human Services, whatever benefits children gain from the program disappear by the time they reach the third grade.

But because bureaucracies invariably measure success in terms of inputs, instead of outcomes, Head Start and its $8 billion annual budget is the model for Democrats as they seek to expand federal control over child care programs in communities all across the country.

This bill also doubles down on the discredited common-core approach to elementary and secondary education that the American people have roundly, and consistently, rejected.

Mr. President, parents and teachers across America are frustrated by Washington, D.C.’s heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy.

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.

The only way to improve our K-12 education system in America is to empower parents, educators, and local policymakers to meet the unique needs of their communities and serve the low-income families the status quo is leaving behind.

With early childhood education, we could start block granting the Head Start budget to the states.

This would allow those closest to the children and families being served to design their own programs – rather than spending all their time complying with onerous, one-size-fits-all federal mandates – and designate eligible public and private pre-schools to receive grants.

We know this works because many states are already doing it. In my home state of Utah, for instance, United Way of Salt Lake has partnered with two private financial institutions, Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker, to provide first rate early education programs to thousands of Utah children.

They call it a “pay-for-success” loan.

With no upfront cost or risk to the taxpayers, private capital is invested in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program, which is implemented and overseen by United Way.

If, as expected, the preschool program results in increased school readiness and improved academic performance, the state of Utah repays the private investors with the public funds it would have spent on remedial services that the children would have needed between kindergarten and the twelfth grade, had they not participated in the program.

Washington policymakers should not look at Utah’s pay-for-success initiatives – and other local success stories like them – as potential federal programs, but as a testament to the power of local control.

Mr. President, we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children.

The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.

Detailed Schedule: Band of Mothers Event at UVU this Wednesday, May 13   1 comment

The Band of Mothers Tour proudly presents the “Empowering Parents Symposium,” convening to present freedom’s true fight for children this Wednesday, May 13th, at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

Have you registered yet?  (Click here!)

 

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Here’s the outline.  Starting at 9:00 a.m., attendees will choose from nine available workshops held in classrooms at the UVU Sorenson Center (see below – detailed workshop information follows).

Following the workshops, attendees will enjoy an elegant luncheon while hearing from KNRS star Rod Arquette.  In the evening, the symposium reconvenes at the UVU Ragan Theater 6:00 with entertainment and discussion starting with the Five Strings Band, followed by keynote speakers Senator Al Jackson,  Analyst Joy Pullman and Child Rescuer Tim Ballard.  The evening’s finale will be “The Abolitionist,” the documentary movie, introduced by its star, Tim Ballard, founder of the truly amazing rescue force, Operation Underground Railroad.

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If you haven’t registered yet, please click here.  Donations are appreciated and needed, but all the evening events are free and the morning workshops only cost $5 apiece.  You can register at UACC or just show up.  Remember: all events are first-come, first-served, with registered attendees having priority.  (If you happen to own filming equipment, please bring it and film the workshops that you attend.)

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If you want to hear Rod Arquette’s power-packed talk at mid-day and haven’t registered for the catered lunch, you have now missed the deadline for the order, but you can brown-bag it or come listen without eating.

To see “The Abolitionist” documentary, come very early because the seats will be filled up in the Ragan Theater by those who are there for the earlier events that begin at 6:00.

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Here’s the morning workshop schedule.  (Descriptions and teacher bios further below.)

  • 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. – Choose from:

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

  • 10:00 to 10:55 – Choose from:

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

  • 11:00 to 11:55 – Choose from:

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

 

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MORNING WORKSHOPS – Register here.

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Detailed Class Descriptions with Teacher Bios:

9:00 to 9:55 a.m.

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

The word “Education” has been redefined.  Education used to evoke images of children and youth engaged in the learning process as they discover their own endless potential.  With recent educational changes, “Education” brings an image of frustration, canned answers and testing.  What is the purpose of this new form of “Education”?  What can you do about it?

Jenny Baker is the founder of Return to Parental Rights and The Gathering Families Project.  She has just returned from the United Nations as part of the Big Ocean Women delegation which hopes to raise awareness of the anti-family ideas that affect our world.  Jenny lives in St. George, Utah and is married to Blake Baker.  She is the mother of five daughters.

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2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

Technology has opened Pandora’s Box by giving government and private organizations the power to collect very private information about people and create unerasable dossiers that can follow them for life.  What is possible now– how can we benefit from technology while controlling it, and what are ways people can reclaim their personal property from the institutions taking it without consent?

joyJoy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3.  Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

This class is an introduction to the principles of liberty embedded in the Constitution.  It explains the Founders’ “success formula” based on their thorough study and knowledge of history, past civilizations and human nature.  Learn the principles behind what George Washington called “the science of government” which, when applied, yields results that can be predicted and replicated.

Watching the news can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.  Studying eternal principles of agency will leave you feeling empowered, joyful and hopeful!

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Laureen Simper taught junior high English and reading before raising her two children.  She has run a private Suzuki piano studio for much of 31 years.

 

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Stacie Thornton was the financial administrator for the U.S. District Court in Utah before marrying and raising five children.  She began homeschooling nearly 20 years ago, and continues now with her two youngest children.

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10:00 to 10:55

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

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Learn about international organizations and their motivations behind data collection.  Come unite in standing in defense of our families:  find out what you can do and what we can do together.

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Carolina S. Allen is the founder and president of Big Ocean Women which is an international grassroots “maternal feminist” movement taking the world by storn. Recently representing at the United Nations this past march, their message is picking up steam internationally.  Big Ocean Women are uniting in behalf of faith, family and healing the world in their own way, on their own terms.  Carolina is the happy homeschool mother of five.

michelle boulter

Michelle Boulter is a mother of three boys.  She recently attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.  She currently serves on the board of Big Ocean Women over politics and policy.  She is co-founder of Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families.  Her passion is to empower other families to be primary educators in the lives of their children.

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2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

This class is a short history lesson explaining why and how American education shifted from supporting self-government through individual and local action into a massive national conglomerate where no one is responsible but everyone is cheated.

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Joy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

Heather Gardner will speak about the parental rights laws that are in place –and the laws that are lacking– for the protection of children and the rights of parents in determining what they will be taught and who can access data collected on individual children.  Know the law and know your rights.

 

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Heather Gardner is a former state school board candidate and is currently a middle school teacher at Liberty Hills Academy, a private school in Bountiful, Utah.  She was appointed by Senator Niederhauser to the standards review committee for Fine Arts in Utah.  She has been actively involved in supporting parental rights via media interviews and grassroots efforts during legislative sessions.  She and her husband are the parents of five children.  Heather is an advocate for students, special needs children, teachers and parents.

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11:00 to 11:55

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

Utah is in the process of adopting new science standards.  Contrary to public pronouncements from officials of the State Office of Education, on multiple occasions and before a variety of legislative bodies, that Utah would not adopt common national standards, there is now an admission that this is precisely what is happening.  Just what is in these standards that would be troubling for most Utah parents– and what can we do about it?

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Vince Newmeyer has had a lifelong love of science.  He attended BYU studying engineering, and has dabbled with experiments and inventions.  Vince ran his own computer consulting company, designed and built solar power installations, and engaged in electronic technical work.  Vince took an intense interest in evolutionary thought in 1998 and has studied it deeply since that time.  As an amateur geologist and science buff, he has done extensive research on topics in geology, biology, physics, astronomy and earth sciences.  He speaks about data which fundamentally challenges current popular views on our origins.

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2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

Should you opt your children out?  Come learn about SAGE testing and why thousands of parents are choosing to opt their children out.

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Wendy Hart:  “First and foremost, I am a mom.  I have three kids and a wonderful husband.  The responsibility I have for my children’s well being motivates me to ensure that they have the best education possible.  I currently have the honor of representing Alpine, Cedar Hills, and Highland residents on the Alpine School Board.

I started my own data migration and programming business 14 years ago.  Before establishing my own business, I worked for various local companies doing database migration and analysis, as well as project management.  I graduated from BYU cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a French minor.  I served a mission for my church in Northern France and Brussels, Belgium.  Raised in Cupertino, CA (home of Apple Computers) I am the oldest of five girls.  I play the piano and harp, and I like to sing.”

 

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3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

Centrally managed education policy is weaking Utah family rights, responsibilities and relationships.  We need to “run, not walk” to turn this around.  What could we accomplish with 1,000 active, local groups of families in Utah who know each other, meet regularly, set and achieve specific goals, and synchronize efforts with other groups?  Come learn how to:

  • Organize and nurture a local group
  • Conduct effective, action-oriented meetings
  • Coordinate with other group leaders to support education policies that “put family first”.

 

 

jared carmen

 

Jared Carmen is a husband, dad, citizen lobbyist on education issues, member of the Utah Instructional Materials Commission, and advisory board member for a K-8 private school in Salt Lake City.  He holds an MS in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and is the founder/owner of two online learning companies.  He serves his precinct as a state delegate.

 

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EVENING EVENTS – Register here.

Evening events begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Ragan Theater at UVU

FIVE STRINGS BAND

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SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

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JOY PULLMAN

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TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

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abolitionist movie

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Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing   15 comments

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1.  THE TESTS HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.  It is out of the norm for tests to be given to children that never have been validated in a formal, scientific, peer-reviewed way.  Professor Tienken of Seton Hall University calls this “dataless decision making“.  What does it mean to a mom or dad to hear that no validity report has ever been issued for the SAGE/Common Core tests?  It means that the test is as likely to harm as to help any child.

We would not give our children unpiloted, experimental medicine; why would we give them unpiloted, experimental education?  –And, did you know that Florida bought/rented the SAGE test from Utah, and now Florida points to Utah students as its guinea pigs?  Where was Utah’s parental consent? Is it okay that the youngest, most helpless citizens are compulsory research subjects without the knowledge or consent of their parents?

2.  THE STANDARDS (upon which the test is based) HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.   Building a test on the sandy foundation of unvalidated standards –hoping but not having actual evidence on which to base that hope– that the standards are unquestionably legitimate, means that not only the test but the teaching that leads up to it, is experimental, not time-tested.  The SAGE evaluates teachers and even grades schools (and will close them) based on test scores from this flawed-upon-flawed (not to mention unrepresentative/unconstitutional) system.   Dr. Tienken reminds us that that making policy decisions in this baseless way is “educational malpractice.”

3. THE TESTS UNFAIRLY REDEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EDUCATED.  The tests assume improper authority to enforce the common core and they thus cement this new definition of what education is.  The redefining was not done by educators, but by businessmenfalse philanthropists and politicians. The copyright on the standards for this test ensure that nobody gets any influence in what the standards will look like years from now, except those who hold copyright.  Teachers are pressured, even against their professional judgment, to conform to test-centric standards and curriculum.  Schools can get shut down, teachers can get rewarded, punished or fired, all based on the high stakes test.

4. THE TESTS ARE SECRETIVE.  Parents and teachers may not see test questions, not even years after the test is over.  Last year’s leaked screen shots of the test, taken by a student with her cell phone to show her mother, revealed an unpleasing agenda that asked students to question the value of reading (versus playing video games).  The student who took the photos was told that she was a cheater, was threatened with expulsion; and the teacher who didn’t notice (or stop) the cell phone photography was threatened with job loss.  Members of Utah’s 15-parent SAGE review committee have expressed grave concerns about the quality and content of SAGE, citing “grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.,” but were never shown whether corrections were made to SAGE, prior to its hasty rollout.

5.  TEST ITEM CREATION IS QUESTIONABLE.  SAGE questions were written by two groups: a few hand picked Utah educators, and the psychometricians at the testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is not an academic organization but a behavioral research group.  We don’t know why psychometricians were entrusted to write math and English questions.  And we don’t know what the percentages are– how many SAGE questions come from educators, and how many from AIR’s psychometricians?

6.  THE TEST DISREGARDS ETHICS CODES FOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH TESTING.  As Dr. Gary Thompson has pointed out, behavioral tests are normally governed by strict codes of ethics and test-giving psychologists lose their licenses to practice if they veer from the codes of ethics.

The Utah State Office of Education claims tests do not collect psychological information, but it seems unreasonable to believe the claim.

Consider:

  • Behavioral Indicators” is a phrase that’s been in Utah laws concerning student testing for years.  It’s old news.  Happily, last month, Sen. Aaron Osmond wrote a bill to remove that language.  (Thank you,  Senator Osmond.)  Time will tell if the new law is respected or enforced.
  • Psychometric census” of Utah students was part of the agreement Utah made with the federal government when it applied for and received a grant to build a longitudinal database to federal specifications, (including federal and international interoperability specifications.)  Utah promised in that grant contract to use its Student Strengths Inventory to collect noncognitive data.
  • The test company, AIR, is a behavioral research company that creates behavioral assessments as its primary mission and focus.
  • U.S. Dept of Education reports such as “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” promote collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via tests, encouraging schools to use biometric data collection devices.  I have not seen any of these devices being used in Utah schools, but neither have I seen any evidence that the legislature or our State School Board stand opposed to the Dept. of Education’s report or the advice it gives.
  • The NCES, a federal agency, has a National Data Collection Model which it invites states to follow.  Since Utah has no proper legal privacy protections in place, there is nothing stopping us from accepting the invitation to comply with the Model’s suggestions, which include hundreds of data points including intimate and even belief-based points: religious affiliation, nickname, voting status, bus stop times,  birthdate, nonschool activities, etc.

7.  UTAH’S NEW SCHOOL TURNAROUND LAW WILL SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS OR TAKE THEM OVER –USING SAGE AS JUSTIFICATION.  The bell curve of school-grading uses SAGE as its school-measuring stick; when a certain number of schools (regardless of quality) are inevitably labeled “failing” because of their position on that bell curve, they will be turned over to the state, turned into a charter school, or closed.  These events will alter lives, because of Utah’s belief in and reliance on the illegitimate SAGE test scores.

8.  SAGE TESTS ARE GIVEN ALL YEAR LONG.  These are not just end-of-year tests anymore.  SAGE tests are summative, formative, interim, and practice (assignment based) tests.  The summative (ending) test is given so early in the year that content has not been taught yet.  But it gets tested anyway, and teachers/students/schools get negatively judged, anyway.

9.  OPTING OUT IS ONE WAY TO PROTEST DATA MINING AND TO MINIMIZE IT.  The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) collects daily data on every school child without ever asking for parental consent.   SLDS collects much more than test-gathered data.  The government of Utah will not allow an SLDS opt out.  And since SLDS does not have an opt out provision (while SAGE does) it makes sense to minimize the amount of data mining that’s being done on your child by not taking these tests.

10.  OPTING OUT OF SAGE FIGHTS EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.  The lack of transparency, of fairness, of any shared amendment process or true representation under Common Core and its testing system defies “consent of the governed,” a principle we learned in the Declaration of Independence.  “It is the right [and responsibility] of the people to alter or abolish” governments [or educational programs] destructive of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness –or those that govern without the knowledge of, or consent of, the governed.

I believe that parents now have the right and responsibility to abolish SAGE testing, by refusing to participate.

If you haven’t yet realized that the Utah State Office of Education acts as an unaccountable bully to both the State School Board and to parents/teachers/legislators, please watch this; it is yet more reason to not allow your child to take the SAGE/AIR test, which is a science test as well as English and math:

 

Beware of Stealth Assessment as SAGE replacement

Please beware, however:  The testing opt out movement has grown so huge (outside Utah) that some Utah legislators have decided to hop on the anti-testing bandwagon with an eye toward replacing SAGE with something  from which public school parents can never, ever opt out (unless they home school or use private school).  That’s called embedded testing, or stealth assessment.

Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution to create a task force to study getting rid of SAGE and to replace it with embedded, or stealth assessments, passed in the Utah legislature this year.  That means that it will most likely become law next year.

Opt out of SAGE this year; fight Stealth Assessment next year.

 

———————————————————————————————

 National News Update on Test Opt-Out Movement

provided by Fairtest.org 

We’ve pulled together this special edition of our usually-weekly newsclips because of three huge stories that broke in the past several days.

–  In New York, more than 173,000 students opted out of the first wave of state testing, at least tripling last year’s boycott level.

–  In five states (Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota) computerized Common Core testing systems collapsed in a replay of the widespread technical problems which plagued Florida exams earlier this spring.

Both major developments further undermine the credibility of judgements about students, teachers and schools made on the basis of standardized exam results.

—  And, in Washington DC, the U.S. Senate education committee responded to grassroots pressure for assessment reform by endorsing an overhaul of “No Child Left Behind,” which eliminates most federal sanctions for test scores.  The bill does not go far enough to reversing test misuse and overuse, but it is a step in the right direction

Remember that these updates are posted online at: http://fairtest.org/news/other for your reference and for use in Facebook posts, Tweets, weblinks, etc.


U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Kill “No Child Left Behind,” But High-Stakes Testing Era is Far From Over
http://www.thenation.com/blog/204593/senate-committee-votes-kill-no-child-left-behind-high-stakes-testing-era-isnt-over#
NCLB Reauthorization: A Chance to Right a Wrong That is Hurting Low-Income Children
http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/esea-reauthorization-chance-right-wrong-commentary/

California Large Urban School District Leadership Rebukes Standardized Testing Fixation
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/apr/15/san-diego-schools-rebuke-testing/

Colorado Computerized Testing Shut Down Statewide by “Technical Difficulties”
http://gazette.com/technical-difficulties-cause-statewide-shutdown-of-standardized-testing-in-colorado/article/1549677

Florida
Governor Signs Modest Testing Reductions into Law; Parents and Teachers Promise Escalating Pressure
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article18529547.html
Florida’s New Student Testing Law Should Have Gone Further
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-new-student-testing-law-should-have-gone-further/2225493

Georgia Judge Sentences Educators to Up to Seven Years in Prison for Test Cheating
https://celebrity.yahoo.com/news/pleas-mulled-former-atlanta-educators-test-cheating-scandal-120733406.html

Indiana
Legislators Have Competing Views About Future of State Testing
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/04/15/no-clarity-yet-on-competing-vision-for-indiana-state-testing/#.VTDyTkZLUZw

Michigan
Opt-Out Movement is Starting to Gain Steam
http://www.tctimes.com/news/local_news/opting-out/article_231a679c-e377-11e4-9a4a-53b0b97da9c8.html

Minnesota
Student Assessments Snarled by Computer Crash
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27914106/minnesota-student-assessments-snarled-by-computer-crash

Montana
Cancels Smarter Balanced Testing Mandate After Computer Administration Woes
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2015/04/montana_lets_schools_cancel_smarter_balanced_testing_after_technical_woes.html

Nevada
Common Core Testing Disrupted for Two Days by Computer Problems
http://www.8newsnow.com/story/28811425/nevadas-common-core-testing-halted-for-second-day

New Jersey
More than 15% of 11th Graders Skipped Standardized Test
http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/04/15/new-jersey-nearly-th-graders-skipped-standardized-test/25850117/

New York
Fed-up Parents Revolt Against Testing in Historic Fashion
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/fed-up-parents-revolt-state-standardized-tests-article-1.2185433
Tens of Thousands Boycott New York State Exams, Raising Questions About Test-Based Evaluations
http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=157&sid=34264074&title=thousands-skip-ny-tests-raising-questions-about-evaluations
Track District-by-District Data Here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview?pli=1

North Dakota Testing Plagued by More Computer Glitches
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html

Ohio Panelists Blast Testing at League of Women Voters Forum
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/panelists-relay-school-testing-concerns-at-league-of-women-voters-forum-1.583799

Oklahoma
Schools Struggling to Meet State Requirements for Test Monitors
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/help-wanted-schools-struggling-to-meet-state-requirements-for-test/article_ce65ce4c-28ce-577d-9815-66ee2f0a1631.html

Oregon
House Passes Bill Making it Easier to Opt Out of Tests
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32990672-75/oregon-house-oks-bill-making-it-easier-for-parents-to-opt-out-of-common-core-standardized-tests.html.csp
Oregon District Considers Suspending Common Core Test
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32980118-75/springfield-board-considers-moratorium-on-smarter-balanced-standardized-tests.html.csp

Pennsylvania Sees More Students Opting Out of Standardized Tests, Especially in Philadelphia
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html
Lehigh Valley Opt-Outs on the Rise
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/04/lehigh_valley_pssa_opt_outs_on.html

Texas Parents Speak Out Against STAAR Exams
http://www.connectamarillo.com/news/story.aspx?id=1192443
Texas Principal’s Firing May Stem From Testing Criticism
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20150416-popular-dallas-isd-principal-at-rosemont-elementary-to-lose-her-job.ece

Vermont
School Board Chair Explains Why State Voted to Suspend Use of Smarter Balanced Scores
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/opinion/my-turn/2015/04/16/opinion-vermont-dropped-sbac-testing/25901041/

Washington
State Students Are Right to Fight Testing Requirements
http://www.queenannenews.com/Content/News/Breaking-News/Article/EDITORIAL-Students-right-to-fight-testing-requirements/26/539/37377
Washington Board of Ed Wants to End Biology Exam That Blocks 2,000 From Graduating
http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/scrap-biology-test-or-2000-students-wont-graduate-state-board-of-education-tells-lawmakers/

West Virginia Common Core Testing Off to Rocky Start, “The Logistical Issues Are Terrible
http://wvmetronews.com/2015/04/17/common-core-woes-continue-in-wv/

Wisconsin Opt-Out Movement Gains Ground
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/opt-out-movement-gaining-ground-for-testing-in-madison-schools/article_83c01e97-b2d8-5fbc-b595-ce437251d1b5.html

Computerized Tests Face Major Technical Barriers
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/techtank/posts/2015/04/15-next-generation-assessment-glitches
FairTest Chronology of High-Stakes Computer Test Failures
http://www.fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-2013-2015

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