Archive for the ‘federal government’ Tag

Common Core Down: Crossing the Line   16 comments

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

Guest Post –by someone who wishes to remain anonymous

The Common Core is going down.

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

bird mom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thank you, anonymous friend, for this guest post.

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To Honor, Uphold and Sustain the Law… Even When You Think You Have a Really Good Reason To Do Otherwise   1 comment

Utah Board of Education Chair

Debra Roberts

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Thanks to Alyson Williams for this explanation of how our state board of education abdicated local autonomy.

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TO HONOR, UPHOLD AND SUSTAIN THE LAW
… even when you think you have a really good reason to do otherwise

by Alyson Williams
February 5, 2013

Board members insist that these standards are better… They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

The Utah Constitution and related statutes establish the Utah State Board of Education and assign them authority to set standards for Utah students. Members of the State Board of Education are appointed or elected from a narrowed field of candidates to represent the citizens of Utah.

In adopting the Common Core State Standards it appears that the Utah State Board of Education abdicated their control over standards to unelected bodies* outside the jurisdiction of the State or Federal government, and usurped the role of parents or citizens to monitor or give feedback to the process.

This is not how standards have been established in our state before.

The authority to do it this way can’t have been implied or hidden in their legal commission, because this is a newly invented process. This is a creative path to national standards through private brokers who are not constrained by federal laws that would prevent the Federal Government from doing the same thing.

Abdicating authority (whether voluntary or motivated by federal or financial considerations) is not an option established under the constitutional commission given to the State Board of Education. Any right not specifically given to the Board by law is a right that is retained by the people.

The people of Utah did not vote directly, or indirectly through the representative voice of the legislature, to transfer the standards-setting authority to another body.

Board members claim to have retained control by representing the citizens of Utah during the standards writing process. Again, this was not their commission. Furthermore, the Board can point to no specific input or influence they had on the final, copyrighted, standards. In light of the fact that 46 other states were also involved, and they had zero input on who was hired to write the standards, any influence real or imagined would have been highly diluted.

There is broad disagreement on the quality of the standards. The term “scientifically-based” seems to have been re-defined to mean the opinions of few “experts” rather than peer-reviewed research. The wording of certain standards doesn’t just specify what the student should know, but how they should be able to demonstrate that knowledge which in some cases requires or favors specific, controversial methods of teaching.

Still, board members insist that these standards are better than Utah’s previous standards. They also insist that there are benefits to having the same standards across states. They use these assertions as the justification for their acting outside their authority.

Even if they were the best standards ever, or if the arguments for homogeny outweighed the real challenges of aligning demographically and financially diverse states, the end does not justify the means.

Despite a well-documented timeline and recorded statements that would suggest a correlation between the adoption of the standards and federal incentives in the form of Race to the Top grant money and a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the Board insists that Common Core does not represent a Federal overreach in violation of the 10th Ammendment and several other federal laws.

Finally, the Common Core State Standards do not represent the competing opinions of a diverse group of education experts. The writers were a group of like-minded education reformers. The writing, evaluation and promotion of the standards was paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. While the State Board of Education can assert that they themselves were not influenced by the special interests of those funding the process, they cannot claim that the standards themselves were not wholly influenced by the education reform ideals of the funders.

It is a violation of trust that our elected officials would be complicit in a re-organization of the standards setting process that favors well-funded outside interests over the voice of the people.

* Unelected bodies include :

–the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

— the National Governors’ Association (NGA)

— the Department of Education (USDE)

–the 2 testing consortia: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and

–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC)

New Research From R.O.P.E Finds Federal Overreach of Children’s Privacy   1 comment

The “Restore Oklahoma Public Education” research team has done it again.

Read this tremendously detailed explanation of how the federal government is robbing United States citizens of their privacy, using schools as data collection vehicles and redefining even nonacademic student data collection (blood type, nickname, mental health) a federal entitlement.

 

View this document on Scribd

Wall Street Journal & New American Report: Tens of Thousands Protest Communist Curriculum Push in Hong Kong Schools   1 comment

   HONG KONG     BEIJING

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443779404577641371073452032.html  -“Friction Fuels Big Turnout” by Te-Ping Chen

The Wall Street Journal (by Te-Ping Chen) reports that tens of thousands of citizens protested Friday night after a week of hunger strikes and demonstrations at Hong Kong’s government offices. Why?

Because Beijing –not Hong Kong, mind you, but Beijing, communist China– was planning to change the local curriculum in schools.  Sound familiar at all?  Big, (and distant) government usurps local authority to take control over students’ educational standards? Hmmmm.

The article goes on to explain that “public discontent with issues like school curriculum” was one reason for the protests.  The government plan would require schools to add ‘moral and national’ education to curricula.  (Whose version of morality? Whose version of patriotism? Communist China’s, of course.)

One 63-year-old retired English teacher had fasted for more than 170 hours to defy the administration’s plans to teach what has been dubbed “patriotism” (toward Beijing) in Hong Kong schools..

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   Meanwhile, The New American Magazine also reports on the Chinese curriculum push to Hong Kong: http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/asia/item/12785-hong-kong-votes-amid-protests-against-beijings-communist-%E2%80%9Cbrainwashing%E2%80%9D

“…Despite the apparent retreat on the brainwashing scheme, many analysts and activists are still not convinced that the education battle is over. “We are also worried about whether the education bureau will funnel lots of funding to encourage the schools to teach the curriculum,” activist Yip Po Lam with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese was quoted as saying.

The Civil Alliance Against National Education, which strongly opposed the brainwashing scheme, welcomed the decision to drop the mandatory curriculum as well. However, a spokesperson for the organization still expressed numerous concerns about it even after officially becoming “optional.”

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  This  sounds too familiar.  U.S. Department of Education, like the Chinese communist “Education Bureau” is funneling lots of funding to encourage schools to teach “the curriculum.”

   In fact, the U.S. Dept. of Education has even begun to offer money directly to school districts in its desperation to have everyone implement the Common Core.

  (Several Utah School Districts have already applied, allowing the federal government to bypass state legislatures and the state school board.)

–And, like the U.S. Dept. of Education, the communist Chinese are smilingly calling the new curriculum “optional.”  But of course.

Wake up, wake up, wake up.

Common Core Discussion at Wasatch Bagel Cafe in Park City   Leave a comment

   Democrats, Republicans and others packed the Wasatch Bagel Cafe in Park City to standing room only last night in an effort to learn the pros and cons of Utah’s membership in the Common Core Movement.  Common Core is a set of national standards and common tests that was initiated by states, is incentivized and promoted by the federal government, and is backed financially by private interest groups, largely by Bill Gates.

Wasatch Representative Kraig Powell, Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond, House Committee Chair Francis Gibbons, and Joel Briscoe, also of the Utah Legislature, led the meeting.  None of the four vocalized a strong stand for or against the Common Core Initiative.  Questions and comments by citizens generally addressed the questions of whether local autonomy and control over educational standards and good education would be available with Common Core.

Doctor and Park City citizen John Zimmerman said, “We don’t need the federal government in education,” and asked why the Common Core educational movement was involved with the federal government.  Aaron Osmond responded that the movement did not start out being federally led but the federal government has taken advantage of the movement.  Kraig Powell added that it’s as if we were headed down the road in a small car and the federal government came along with a faster car and we got in.

  Representative Kraig Powell said that raising educational standards is an important and laudable goal.  He said that he trusts people and feels that as long as there is plenty of public discussion, Utah will come up with something we can all live with.  He voiced concern about the Department of Education’s use of “shall” language in the No Child Left Behind waivers that push states toward Common Core.  He mentioned that there was a larger legislative turnout than he’d ever seen last month when four national educational experts spoke against Common Core at a legislators’ lunch and at another public forum.  He emphasized that there must be lots of input and study so people’s voices can be heard. (Currently, few citizens know what Common Core is.)  Powell also noted that just as Medicaid has put mandates on Utah which come with funding concerns many Utahns are not comfortable with, there is a concern that the same demoralization of teachers and the same costly requirements may happen with Common Core that were problematic with No Child Left Behind.

  Senate Education Committee Chair Aaron Osmond said that the Utah Constitution allows the state school board a lot of power. He voiced a concern that we must preserve state sovereignty and the right to control standards in our state, saying, “If we lose that, I concur that it’s wrong.”

  Newly appointed chair of the Utah House Education Committee, Francis Gibson, said that both the pro and con sides of the Common Core have arguments that make sense.  He liked the fact that the standards promised not to dictate curriculum and hoped there was a way to fix the low portion of the math segments of Common Core.  He did not mention whether there was a way to amend standards under the common core contractual documents.

  Representative Joel Briscoe said that his entire family, including himself, consists of teachers.  While the Common Core requires students to read less literature, he felt that fact did not represent any lowering of standards.  He addressed the fact that at the high school level, 70% of English language readings are to be informational text with only 30% being allowed to be classic literature readings.  He supports the less-literature, more-informational text shift.  He did not address Common Core’s shift away from narrative writing.  He did not address the non-amendability of the reading and writing standards.

  Heber citizen Anissa Wardell asked what the legislators’ stand was on data collection, including personally identifiable student information, to be gathered without parental consent, a concern connected to Common Core reforms.  Kraig Powell responded that we have to ask ourselves whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the P-20 systems and/or private entities track a child from before kindergarten through college and work.  He did not take a stand on the question.

All four legislators said they applauded the effort of the Utah State School Board in attempting to raise educational standards for Utah.

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