Archive for the ‘freedom’ Tag

Will Utah Quash Families’ Opt-Out Rights?   4 comments

Many tens of thousands of public school students, whose parents regularly opt out of Common Core testing, may lose the right to do so.

When federal ESSA passed in 2015, it claimed veto power for the federal education department– over every state’s educational plan.  Utah humbly asked the feds for a waiver, so that Utah would remain free to opt out of federally promoted tests. (Until this time, Utahns were unquestionably protected by state law that claims primary authority for parents, with schools/state in a supporting role.) The federal department said no to Utah’s waiver request.

So, state school board and legislators are in a pickle:  will they honor state law and protect parental rights, or honor federal ESSA’s unconstitutional veto power, and force all parents to force all children to take Common Core tests?

The state school board is divided on this question.  –That’s interesting, since the Utah board was not even permitted by the state superintendent to vote on our new plan –which the federal government has now vetoed.

 

Michelle Boulter, Utah State School Board

 

Michelle Boulter of the state board says:

“…In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State lawa state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

… exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states…

…This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members [ Board@schools.utah.gov  ] and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power.”

After reading state school board member Michelle Boulter’s letter and local Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s comments on the subject, I wrote to the state board. Kathleen Riebe wrote back. Here is that exchange.  –And here is the email if you want to write, too: Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Letter one: 

Dear Board,
ESSA is pressuring Utah to subvert our state laws and parental rights. Please don’t do it.
I agree with state school board member Michelle Boulter, who wrote:
https://electmichelleboulter.com/2018/08/08/the-state-of-utah-is-negotiating-away-parental-rights
Similarly, ASD school board Wendy Hart said to the state board:
http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/08/essa-opt-out-denial-from-feds-my.html

Wendy Hart, Alpine District School Board

It’s a terrible idea to pit teachers against parents who opt out of Common core tests.  Caving to federal demands that the state quash testing opt outs does that.
The problem isn’t the parents opting kids out of Common Core testing, nor can we blame teachers/schools who, fearing mislabeling due to low scores resulting from opt outs, might pressure parents to opt in.
The problem is office of education bureaucrats who mindlessly swallow unconstitutional suggestions made by the federal DOE, and who misadvise state school board members, without respect for principles of local control, telling them to nod and sign.
Listen to the wisdom of elected officials who have spoken clearly on the ESSA situation: Michelle Boulter and Wendy Hart. They point out that we can and must protect the state’s liberties as well as relationships between parents and teachers.
As an opting-out parent  of children in public schools, and as a certified Utah teacher, thank you.
Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove
Response one:

Thank you for your concern.

As a parent, teacher and a taxpayer, I appreciate that my students have an opportunity to display their knowledge and that they were taught the content required. About 90% of our families share my feelings.

Transparency and accountability are major concerns of my constituents.

USBE has worked hard to find a solution with the federal government.  The board will follow the laws and work with the legislature to seek new funding to ensure the best opportunities for all our students.

Kathleen Riebe M.Ed.

State School Board Member

District 10

801-599-5753

Letter two:

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for responding.
There are over 650,000 enrolled public school students in the state of Utah. If about 90 percent are opting to participate in Common Core testing, that leaves about 65,000 students, and 130,000 parents, who are opting out. That’s no small potatoes.
Does it feel right to you to eliminate the authority and conscience of 195,000  Utahns, especially considering the fact that Utah law places primary authority to parents, with the state/schools in a secondary, supporting role.
They’re opting out for a plethora of very valid, very important reasons. Some kids become anxious and depressed to the point of suicidal behaviors due to high-pressure testing. Some parents don’t approve of the secretive nature of the tests, and of the tests’ never having been tested or validated independently. Some parents oppose psychometric evaluation embedded in academic tests. Some parents recognize that these tests pressure schools and teachers, even against their school charters and their professional judgment, to redefine their curriculum and teaching traditions.
I implore you to support the rights of these people and the Utah law that puts parental / family authority first in education.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046   5 comments

Knowing that the history of liberty is “the history of the limitation of government power,” I ask you to take action to stop the bills known as FEPA (HR4174/S.2046) and CTA (S.1121).  This post will focus on the first bill, which is already teetering on the edge of passing into law.

FEPA is a pompous euphemism that stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking.  But “evidence based policymaking” means that they’ll redefine data theft and stalking by calling it “evidence-based research”.  Because if agencies and organizations on the state and federal level  participate in the data-looting act together, it doesn’t feel quite like looting or stealing, as it would if just one well-intentioned, evidence-collecting creep stole data by himself.

All the fancy commissions and all the big-data infatuations in the world cannot change a wrong principle into a good one.  I’d love to ask the CEP leaders face to face whether big data is so important that freedom basics should be made obsolete.  Do we no longer worry about having our personal personal power limited– in consequence of personal data being taken?  No big deal?

I used to think that while all Democrats pushed for increased government, all Republicans sought limited government.  Not now:  Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and even Trey Gowdy are supersizing government to empower big-data goals in their current bills– without any informed consent from the individuals whose data will be confiscated.

Representative Paul Ryan’s baby, the 2017 Commmission on Evidence-Based Policy, birthed this uglier baby,  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEPA HR4174)  that passed the U.S. House of Representatives without debate or a roll call vote, this month.

Unless the Senate ditches it next week, which is extremely unlikely, it will become national law.  But do you know what’s emerging in the bill?  Does your senator know?

The news media haven’t covered it, and Congress hasn’t debated it.  In fact, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to pass the House version super quickly, without a normal roll call vote: because it was supposedly so uncontroversial that there was no reason to have a real debate nor a recorded vote.

Yet it is highly controversial to those Americans who are passionate about a thing called human freedom.  We watched and listened to the CEP’s year-long hearings and submitted public comment and read the CEP’s final report.

Unpaid moms at Missouri Education Watchdog and expert lawyers at American Principles Project each recently published important warnings about the FEPA bill.   But proponents of FEPA rebutted those moms and lawyers.  What followed were brilliant, unarguable rebuttals to that rebuttal.  If truth and liberty were prime concerns to Congress, then FEPA would, following the study of these rebuttals, surely be gone.  But no.

 

 

You see, a lot of people are  counting on this particular set of claims to make them wealthy or powerful.

I am having what I wish was only deja vu.

Do you remember another Thanksgiving week, with freedom-harming bills slimeing their secretive way through Congress without debate, while most of us were too busy eating cranberries and turkey to pay attention?  Remember, after the ESSA bill passed, that then-Secretary Duncan boasted about the secretive nature of passing the ESSA bill into law.

He said, “We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed. . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff”.

Now it’s 2017.

Not surprisingly, proponents of FEPA (HR4174/S2046)  say that FEPA is so harmless and uncontroversial as to require zero debate– but in the same week, proponents released a myths-vs-facts sheet to Congressmen, rebutting the controversies outlined by the American Principles Project and by the Missouri Education Watchdog.   Hmm.

Additionally, although the majority of the public commenters who wrote to the CEP said that they were opposed to the data-sharing of student records without consent, FEPA does direct agencies to ignore their concerns.

FEPA says that agencies must report “statutory restrictions to accessing relevant data”–in other words, muggle bureaucrats must find ways to overcome people’s privacy rights.

FEPA gives no provisions for data security, while encouraging and enabling unlimited data swapping between government agencies.

FEPA  creates a “National Secure Data Service” with such extensive data sharing that creation of one central housing agency would be completely redundant.

There is much more.  You can read the bill.

The American Principles Project produced a rebuttal to the rebuttal of FEPA.  I am reposting just a piece of it.

 

RESPONSE TO HOUSE MAJORITY STAFF’S ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FEPA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Claim: FEPA doesn’t create a centralized data repository.

Rebuttal: FEPA moves toward the recommendation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Commission) to create a “National Secure Data Service” by 1) requiring each agency to create an evidence- building plan; 2) requiring the OMB Director to unify those plans across the entire federal government; 3) creating a “federal data catalog” and a “national data inventory”; and 4) requiring various councils to recommend how to vastly increase data linking and sharing among federal agencies, with states, and with public and private research entities.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t authorize any new data collection or data analysis.

Rebuttal: Regardless of whether FEPA expressly authorizes new data collection, it 1) incentivizes agency heads to expand, not maintain or minimize, data collection; 2) creates new sources of data for agencies by allowing unfettered access to other agencies’ data; 3) creates a process whereby public and private organizations can access non-public government data; 4) allows the OMB Director to expand the universe of statistical agencies and units; and 5) allows one person, the OMB director, to decide via post-enactment “guidance” what if any data will be exempt from sharing as too private or confidential.

Claim: FEPA “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students,” so parents need not worry about their children’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Rebuttal: FEPA doesn’t overturn this ban – that will almost certainly come later. But its extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates create a de facto national database, whereby the data stays “housed” within the collecting agency but can be accessed by all. Title III specifically authorizes data “accessed” by federal agencies to be shared. This will threaten the security of not only the student data already maintained by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), but also the data in the states’ longitudinal data systems.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t repeal CIPSEA but rather strengthens it.

Rebuttal: FEPA strengthens nothing. It merely reiterates the same penalties (fine and jail term) in existence since 2002 that have rarely or never been enforced. Worse, FEPA increases threats to privacy and data security by mandating increased access to confidential data and metadata and encouraging unlimited data-swapping with no provisions for data security.

Claim: FEPA “does not respond to the Commission’s recommendations to repeal any ban on the collection or consolidation of data.”

Rebuttal: FEPA directs agency heads to identify and report “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data . . . ” Because the entire thrust of the bill is to use more and more data for “evidence-building,” the inevitable next step will be to implement the Commission’s recommendation of repealing these pesky statutory obstacles to acquiring “relevant” data.

Claim:  FEPA will make better use of existing data.

Rebuttal:  The federal government has reams of data showing the uselessness or harm of existing programs. When the government continues to fund those programs despite this data (see Head Start and manifestly ineffective programs under ESEA), there’s no reason -none- to assume it will change its behavior with even more data.

 

The following list of contact information is supplied by Missouri Education Watchdog Cheri Kiesecker.  Please don’t just share this on social media; actually call, yourself.  Actually tweet, yourself.  Others may not be doing their part.  Please, do yours and a few extra calls, if you can.

The Senate version of the bill (S2046) has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members.

The message is: vote no.  We don’t want information about private citizens shared at the national level, without any individual consent.

NO on  S.2046   NO on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (FEPA).

(And, coming up soon:  No on S.1121 – College Transparency Act – for the same reason: student privacy.)

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Trump’s Common Core Pick: Betsy DeVos   14 comments

 

Betsy DeVos, America’s newly appointed Secretary of Education, is quite adorable.  She interviews like America’s Sweetheart, her name sounds like Betsy Ross, and she says she’s opposed to the Common Core.

But the parents who began Stop Common Core in Michigan say DeVos used her Michigan big-funding machine to block, rather than to assist, the Stop Common Core parents’ nearly successful legislation that would have repealed the Common Core.

DeVos’ Greater Lakes Education Project (GLEP) sounds like the Michigan version of Utah’s Education First / Prosperity 2020.  Organizations like Michigan’s GLEP or Utah’s Education First are wealthy Common Core-promoters that give ear candy to, and then fund, any candidate who is willing to take their ear candy and campaign cash. Then they’re obliged to vote as the Common Core machine calls the shots.

DeVos, like Bill Gates, is on board with Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence (another huge Common Core promo tank.)  DeVos, like Gates, also wrote checks to the Clinton Foundation.

So where are Betsy DeVos’s loyalties?

As Jane Robbins recently noted, “It simply doesn’t make sense that DeVos would contribute boatloads of money to – and even lead — organizations that actively push a policy with which she disagrees. Would a pro-life philanthropist write checks to Planned Parenthood because the abortion mill provides the occasional Pap test?”

A true liberty lover would only do this if she, like so many Americans, doesn’t fully understand what the Common Core machine is doing. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.  I know a lot of good people who have only the vaguest idea what the Common Core machine is doing or will do.

So let’s clarify.

The Common Core machine loves money, not children. It clearly steals from children. It really is that simple.

I’d like to see DeVos speak out about the following:

The initiative has stolen academic freedom and privacy.  It is stealing social-emotional data without parental consent.  It is stealing what we used to call classical education.  It is stealing the local ability to make decisions about what will be on the test –and, by extension, what will be in the book and on the essay. It is stealing student dollars that could go elsewhere (to teachers, buses, field trips, desks, basketballs, glue sticks, pencils) and is diverting it to tech coffers: Pearson, Microsoft, etc.  No profit left behind.

Money, money, money –and comforting ear candy– make the machine’s operators feel great about being it’s operators.

ear

Ever since Bill Gates openly courted American legislators in 2009 and identified as a “large, uniform base of customers” the sitting ducks (schools) waiting to be bankrolled, schools and legislative ed committees have become the hot market for businesses and philanthropic activists.  This power grab, away from parents and local school boards, toward the corporate-governmental partnerships, has been monumental.

Core pushers’ “ear candy” sells well.  They make it sound as if the machine’s primarily about ed tech progress –bringing new, good things to kids– but it’s primarily about adults who love money.

How many ed tech salesmen, governors, senators or representatives have really stopped to consider consequences –intentional or unintentional– of the standardizing of everything in education and in education governance?

They’ve pushed data mining without informed parental consent, pushed common, national ed data systems, pushed unvalidated tests and curriculum –on an entire nation of student guinea pigs.

It has been, and continues to be, a mad dash toward Gates’ vision of schools as the shiny, shiny, “uniform customer base”:

If you’ve seen the latest Disney movie: remember how the creepy bling-crab looks at Moana?  That’s how I picture Mr. Bill “Uniform Customer Base” Gates, the ed tech corporations, the government data miners, and the business-model charter pushers, looking at schools.

School dollars are so shiny!  It’s the money, not what’s best for children, that they see.

shiny-moana

 

But as I watched DeVos’ interview in which she explained her vision of the school choice movement, I thought: she’s sincere in her belief.  She really buys the school choice line.

But has she (or most Americans) really thought it all the way through?

It’s as if we were buying a house.  We love the curb appeal and the front door of the School Choice idea. We take a step inside and shout, “Sold!”  But…  what about the rotted attic that no one checked?  What about the weird, moldy basement?  Is there a kitchen?  Are there enough bedrooms?

Why aren’t more people asking SERIOUS questions about School Choice and about the Common Core machine?  Because the words on the surface just sound good?  Because the entryway of the house looks fantastic?  (Who would be opposed to allowing disadvantaged kids in to better schools? Who wouldn’t like choice? That’s sweet ear candy, right?)

The notion of school choice is a false choice, because where government dollars are, government mandates are.

It’s like the old Ford ad:

black

Think about it.

Vouchers for school choice are not reimbursed cash; they’re government subsidies, and anything that the government subsidizes, it regulates.

The beauty of private schools has always been freedom.  Parents can pay the nuns to teach their Catholic children right out of the Bible.  What happens when a disadvantaged child from a Catholic family takes a government voucher to pay for private religious school tuition?

That particular money can destroy that particular school.

By putting vouchers into private schools, we turn those private schools into government-regulated schools (aka public schools) and those private schools will not longer be free to teach –things like religion or morality.  Nor will those private schools be free to continue to protect data privacy of teachers or students; human data is always one of the items that federal monies trade schools for, in exchange for cash.  Read that paragraph again.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune” means that if the feds pay then the private schools, as pipers, have to play what they’ve been paid to play.  And that’s the music of the Common March.

The beauty of (some) charter schools has been the illusion that parents had more say in what went on (almost like a private school).  But under Common Core, that’s changing.  Many charter schools now have businesses running them, not elected board members running them. Where’s the local control in that? This gets rid of voters’ voices, parents’ voices.  With the Great Commonizing, even legitimate, good differences between public schools and charter schools seem very temporary.

Under the Common Core machine– with its federally approved schoolrooms,  nationalized “truths” that trump local academic freedom, federally urged data mining, disregard for parental consent to data mine, disregard for teaching autonomy –what’s any real, lasting difference between what a child in a charter will experience and what a child in a public school or (eventually) even a private school would ultimately experience?  The Common march means there will be no real differences permitted at length.

I am guessing that DeVos doesn’t know that the Common Core machine is building a socialistic, factory model of education according to the vision of the Tucker-Clinton conspiracy.  I’m guessing, too, that she hasn’t heard (or dismisses) what whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt has been saying for years:

“The goal of school choice… is the takeover of the public and private school sectors through partnerships with the corporate sector in order to implement socialist work force training… Carnegie Corporation, in its little blue book entitled “Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies” 1934, called for using the schools to change our nation’s free market economy to a planned economy.”  Hmm– a planned, centralized economy– that means, no local control.  I don’t believe that’s what DeVos really hopes to build.  I don’t think she, or Heritage Foundation, or FreedomWorks, have really thought this all the way through while wearing their Constitution-framed glasses.

In her Florida interview, DeVos said (minute 7:40-8:09) that she wanted people to rethink the public school “system that was brought to us 200 years ago by the Prussians, very much an industrial, factory model of education… Technology has brought so many new opportunities… we need to allow people who are innovative and creative to come and help us think differently about how we can do education”.

I don’t think she understands that the factory model’s exactly where the school choice movement eventually leads:  First, it leads there because vouchers can strip private schools of religious, moral and academic freedom, and second, because if we move away from the elected-board-run public schools to business-owned, no-elected-board charter models, we have erased our own voices and votes even in public education.

 

krisanne-hall

While you’re folding laundry or jogging later today, listen to Constitution-defending lawyer KrisAnne Hall as she explains the trouble with DeVoss, vouchers and school choice in this podcast.

https://podomatic.com/embed/html5/episode/8273838?autoplay=false

Hall notes that Americans are confused about their desire for limited government and local control versus their desire for big socialist programs: “Amongst our conservative circles… we want limited government –unless we want government to define marriage.  We want limited government –unless we want government to control our consumption of plants.  We want limited government –unless it has to do with education.”

She also notes that while Trump wants to give $20 billion in federal grants to poor children— not to all children.  The middle and upper classes are not invited to the school choice party.

Have the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks considered that?

Trump said:

As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty.  If we can put a man on the moon… we can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America…”

If you remember nothing else from this blog post, remember this:

  1. School choice and vouchers are not for all American children; they are for those whom the federal government will designate as recipients.  It’s favoritism and it’s socialism and it’s legal  plunder:  A pays for B to go to the school of B’s choice.  If A doesn’t pay, A goes to jail.
  2. Whether B goes to this school or that one is only a partial liberty because all the schools receiving money from government school vouchers must abide by federal regulations:  data mining kids, removing religious and academic liberty from private schools, and controlling teachers.

 

 


cropped-stealth-assessment-baby.jpg

A Related P.S.

WANNA TESTIFY?

On January 5, 2017, there will be a new public hearing in Chicago, where unit record identifiers and Public Law 114-140 will be discussed. The federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP)’s boiled-down purpose seems to be to cater to the federal/corporate desire for  more student “evidence,” in the form of school-gleaned personal data, minus student/parental rights of privacy/ informed consent; but, to do it with the “public input” box checked off.  So let’s comment.  If you can go to Chicago, go.  If not, submit written comment to CEP.

To learn about the last such hearing, click here and here.

CEP information:

Submit your request to participate to Input@cep.gov no later than Sunday, December 18, 2016

Include in your request the following information:

  • Name and Professional Affiliation (if applicable)
  • 2-3 Sentence Abstract
  • Written Statement (preferably in .pdf format)

Commission staff will inform you of your assigned speaking time and logistical details no later than December 23, 2016.

Visit CEP.gov closer to the event date for webcast and caption details.

Additional Upcoming Meetings & Hearings:

  • December 12, 2016, Washington, DC (National Press Club) – Federal Models for Evidence – Building
  • January 13, 2017, Washington, DC (National Academy of Sciences) – State and International Models for Evidence- Building
  • February 9, 2017, San Francisco, CA – Public Hearing

I would absolutely love to see Betsey DeVos at that CEP Chicago hearing next month.  I would love to see her fight for students’ data privacy rights against the federal Commission on Evidence-based Policymaking (CEP).  I want to see her true colors.

I so hope that I’ve read her completely wrong;  I so hope she’s truly opposed to what the Common Core Initiative has wrought.

Three Anti-Common Core State School Board Members Elected in Utah Last Night   3 comments

 

happy dance dog

Miracles do happen.

Utah’s liberty-loving, anti-common core community did a lot of happy dancing last night when candidates Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter and Lisa Cummins won three seats on the state school board. This election showed what can happen when people actually get to vote, instead of having the governor appoint board members, as had happened for so many years in the past.

Utah’s board finally has vibrant voices and votes for parent-and-teacher directed, not federal-corporate directed control of curriculum, testing, and student data.

lisa cumminsboulteralisa vote

 

 

 

 

lee-thompson-cummins

Although the Utah anti-common core community was saddened that the heroic Dr. Gary Thompson (pictured above with Senator Mike Lee and Lisa Cummins) did not win his bid for a seat on the state school board, his campaign had an undeniable impact in raising awareness about student mental health, student data privacy, and the supremacy of family /parental rights.  How often Dr. Thompson repeated this truth: “Parents are, and always must be, the resident experts of their children”.

The spirit of what Dr. Thompson’s all about thrives in Alisa, Michelle and Lisa.

The news of three of our strongest freedom-fighter parents taking three seats on the state school board is nothing short of miraculous.

Celebrate!

crayons

LDS Church to Independently Teach Both Religious and Secular Education Classes   148 comments

ces

 

This is very good, very big news.

Even though the fight for freedom in education is fought by freedom-loving people of many different religions, I share this great news, which comes from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping it will inspire other people and other churches as it has inspired me.

In February 2016, in an all-employee meeting at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus, the Commissioner of Education of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kim B. Clark, gave an address, “CES: The Lord’s Educational System for His Church”.

The 54-minute talk can be viewed here.

Elder Clark announced that the church is launching a new initiative in fall 2016 that will eventually offer secular and religious education courses, from Master’s degrees down to high school, to people wherever the church is organized.

Elder Clark began by saying, “Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives, whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we have, whatever strength of commitment or consecration we have, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours, whatever level of professional skill or ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead.  Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now, in every aspect of our lives.  The scriptures teach us that the world is now, and will be, in commotion and we can see it all around us. Wickedness and darkness will increase.  It seems hard to imagine, but it will.  Yet in that darkening world, there’ll be increased light, divine light.  The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation.  It’s a greater work than we’ve ever done before…  The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in his true and living church.  He’s hastening his work.”  (minute 2-3)

He said that last October, the presidents of the Church’s universities counseled together and then proposed a new initiative that was soon approved by the church leaders. (minute 13-14)

It is this: “The Church Educational System (CES) will seek to provide opportunities for education to the members of the church wherever the church is organized.

The church has long operated universities, seminaries, institutes, education weeks, high school classes through its universities and through its churches.  But now, the Church will be rolling out a new program that will use all its resources to increasingly provide both secular and religious education to all its members, wherever the church exists.   Elder Clark speaks of Master’s degrees down through high school classes being offered, both online and inside church buildings; I hope, and guess, that in the future, junior high and elementary classes will also be offered.

At minute 16:37, we learn that the first principle for the church’s new initiative is:

“Education is a spiritual experience”.  It explains, “Education– the struggle for perfection– is a spiritual experience and is essential for building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion. Religious instruction, gathering experiences and a spiritual focus to online learning will be essential.”

The second principle is: “The initiative will be a collaborative, system-wide effort involving all CES institutions.  We will also partner with Self Reliance Services (SRS) and other Church departments as appropriate and will build as much as possible on resources, courses and programs that already exist”.

The third principle is:  “Instruction will be delivered online and in local gathering activities at Institutes and chapels.  Study at local schools, combined with religious education at an Institute, is an important part of this initiative.”

The fourth principle is:  “Students will access programs through their local Church units, guided by priesthood leaders, supported by CES and Self Reliance Services.”  Elder Clark emphasized the fact that these classes are to be held under the direction of local priesthood leaders; he added:  “We felt really strongly about this.”

Even though Elder Clark said, “We’re talking about a global audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands,” (minute 44) he felt it was important to make this educational program locally driven by local leaders.

In closing, Elder Clark reminded us that Ephesians 6:12 states:  “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  He asked those in attendance to rise to the challenge, to repent daily, and to meet the great opportunities and responsibilities before us by receiving greater spiritual power from Christ.

He said, “The rising generation in this marvelous worldwide church needs education, including the plain and simple truths of the gospel…. the rising generation will learn deeply and they will rise up.  We know this will happen.”

What a great message.  What great news.

 

 

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Elder Kim B. Clark

 

Michelle Malkin’s #STOPESEA VIDEO   6 comments

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Michelle Malkin’s #STOPESEA video is available on her public Facebook page; click here to view.  It was posted 18 hours ago and already has over 120,000 views.  I hope each viewer called D.C. (202-224-3121) or tweeted to Congress @repjohnkline @SpeakerRyan or will do so now.

Michelle Malkin said in the video that even though many have not heard of the hashtag #STOPESEA, it is one of the most important issues on the table in Washington D.C. today.

She called out the media for not covering “bread and butter” education issues like this one and praised “firebreathing moms and dads” from across the political spectrum who “have been ever vigilant on all of the issues involving federal encroachment into education”.

Minute 3:

She noted that “so much of this process is taking place behind closed doors out of view of the public with back door and back room negotiations and no sunlight and no input from the people who are most affected.  That’s you and your kids and your grandkids.”

Minute 4:15

“You’ve got a vote coming up in just a couple of days  on this massive piece of legislation which isn’t accessible to the public yet [wasn’t as of last night; link just added] that many of these politicians on Capitol Hill will, of course, never read, and will have two days for their staffs to digest before they cast votes on it.  It is supposed to be released November 30 with the first vote on December 2nd….Same-o Same-o, business as usual in Washington, D.C., don’t you think?”

Minute 5:

“What good is it to elect new GOP leaders who promise transparency and pay lip service –the same way that Barack Obama did– and then sabotage that very process?  So much for Constitutional Conservatives.”

Not only does the process stink, but as many of these vigilant parents have been warning about, it’s the actual policy itself that stinks, too.”

” One of the few heroes out there who’s been warming about this Senator Mike Lee from Utah, who during a floor speech on November 18th warned that voting for this ESEA/NCLB reauthorization will be tantamount to doubling down or tripling down on all of the awful Common Core concepts that have taken so long for so many so-called Constitutional Conservatives on Capitol Hill to finally acknowledge.  It’s the expansion of the federal role in education and the meddling in the classroom; the cementing of grant money to all sorts of crony educational special interests; along with that of course is the continued federalization of curriculum, the cementing again of contracts and special arrangements between the federal government and a lot of tech companies in the business of leveraging the power and the money that they’re making on these boondoggles on everything from textbooks to testing to technology.  And that data mining aspect, of course, is something that people across the political and ideological spectrum should be objecting to and warning other parents about, and opposing.”

Minute 7:00

Of course, it’s hard to digest all that’s in these hundreds and hundreds of still unseen pages in just a matter of days.  It’s an absolute disgrace. So Monday morning, tomorrow morning, I hope those of you who have been active in any manner in opposing Common Core will see the connection here…call your congress people:  202-224-3121. 

She emphasizes that (see minute 8:47) for those in every type of schooling system, those in “public schools, private schools, private schools, charter schools, home schools, Christian schools, secular schoolsthere is no safe space from fed ed. That’s one of the most important messages I want to get across tonight.”

She adds, “There are all of these strategists in Washington, D.C., who are always puzzling and pulling their chins on, ‘how do they reach out to nontraditional consitituencies” and you have to watch out because when they start talking out loud you have to watch out… that they are about to pander, pander, pander, pander, pander and move to the left on everything… how do we reach out to nontraditional constituencies?  What it really means is throwing all their conservative principles and conservative constituencies under the bus in some desperate attempt to cow-tow to nontraditional constituencies. What they should be doing is looking at issues where they can find agreement with people across the political spectrum, without compromising their principles …  and yes, that includes Common Core and this massive expansion of the testing racket that has usurped so much of the already limited time that there is in the classroom?  Guess what? It’s not just us right-wing, fire-breathing Mammas and Pappas who care about that.”

Minute 25:

“…Issues include all of the money that is being poured into overtly political organizations that are using our kids as political and ideological and pedagogical guinea pigs.  And I can’t tell you how many parents and educators who span the political spectrum who I’ve talked to over the years since I’ve started learning about this, who tell me, “I don’t agree with practically anything else you say, but you are right on this.”

“It’s finding those issues and actually listening to the people who are affected, that is going to have the most promise for Republicans who are looking to win over people who otherwise wouldn’t vote for them.  Education is one of those issues.”

Thank you, Michelle Malkin!

Note to readers: today, the full ESEA bill was released. It’s well over 1,000 pages long.  The Congressional vote is set for the day after tomorrow.  MAKE SOME NOISE.

 

michelle malkin

C.S. Lewis and the Freedom to Fail   5 comments

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Are you afraid of freedom?  Are you so afraid of the possibility that, with freedom to choose, some people choose to fail, that you would remove all freedom, even the freedom to soar?

A few weeks ago, at the Utah County Republican Convention,  I met a man at our Stop Common Core booth.  He was a sweet faced,  caring man.  He liked the common core agenda of national standards and tests because, he said,  he could not stand to see anyone suffer and fail because he’d seen the worst of the worst in Mississippi.  The fact that Massachusetts had dropped its high academic standards to come down to Common Core’s level didn’t bother him, he said, because lowest-performing states like Mississippi had upped their standards to the Common Core level.  He didn’t want to see anybody fail; so he’d rather see everyone mediocre.

This one sided “philanthropy” struck me as misguided, but it is the trendy philosophy of social justice, the philosophy of Arne Duncan-style redistribution.  It is theft– easily justified because it’s done on a large, impersonal, governmental scale.

Where do you stand?

Would you– alone– steal from one, in order to benefit another?  Then why do you let government do it?  What gives “us” the right to redistribute anything at all– money, education standards, teachers, data?  Would you make this a habit: Alone–  you walk outside, knock on the door,  and then forcibly take money or items from your next door neighbor to then hand to another neighbor?  It’s cruel.  That is, on a smaller scale, what our society is doing on a large scale with its increasingly socialistic answers to almost every aspect of life, with the justification that this theft is a kindness, a social justice.   This type of enforced equality is an impossible absurdity (Read Harrison Bergeron) but people believe it will work.  It’s why we are in this ed reform mess.

The freedom to fail and the freedom to soar are two ends of the same stick.  So much freedom has been sacrificed at the fake altar of “no soul left behind”.   Ironically, as these equality enforcements  come, people still fail.  This fake philanthropy (aka “social justice”) takes away the possibility for those who might soar, to ever soar.  In the 1950s, they used to call this equalizing “communism”.  But today, if you use describe the education reforms taking place in America as socialistic/communistic, you get labeled a believer in Unicorns.  (Thanks, Representative Kraig Powell.)

Truth is truth whether people believe it or not.

Long after I’d left the man that day at the booth, I found this perfect answer to his confused philanthropy.  Thank you, C.S. Lewis.

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“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.

If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk.

(…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

                                                                                                               – C.S. Lewis

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.

carolina

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.

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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”.

 

 

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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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Please Show Up to Push Back on Science Standards at Statewide USOE Meetings Starting TOMORROW   4 comments

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The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members–  is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science.  Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.

 

 

 

You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.

Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS.   To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee.  Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say.  But do your research.  They’ve been caught fibbing more than once.  And they are fibbing now.

So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS)  and why should we take time fight them?

NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide.  Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being.  (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)

As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS.  Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning.  We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested.  That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators.  We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.

It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards.  Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards  to be in Common Core.  It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.

There are important reasons  that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.

And so did Wyoming.

Kansas parents sued the state school board over it.

West Virginia is fighting about it.

It’s a hot topic in many other  states.

But do Utahns even know it’s going on here?  (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?)  The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS!  To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article.  And this one. 

Then come to the meeting.  The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards.  The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.

Parents need to take control of this conversation.

Ask yourself:  1)  Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS?  2)  Do I want national science standards in Utah?

Answer one:  If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.

Answer two:  As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons:  control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).

CONTROL

Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.

If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.

Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged.  We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards.   Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution?  Never.  Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?

Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards.  Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted.  Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.

Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer?  Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.

CONTENT

Know this:  NGSS are neither neutral nor objective.   This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS.  NGSS standards are slanted.

It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards.  This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]

 

So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism.  Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.

Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources;  that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.

Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.

Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors.  If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did.  Please cancel your other plans.  Bring your video cameras if you come.  It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair.  Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens.  If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s  90 day public comment survey link.

Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county.  I don’t know who wrote this email:

 

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Washington County Email:

“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom.  They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them.  We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home.  We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.

 

It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system.  Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular.  As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world.  They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.

 

We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children.   The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states.  Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee.  We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George).  Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS.  These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.

 

Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”  

 ————————————-

 

USOE Public Feedback Meetings

All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked.  Access through the front side doors.

Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

 

 

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

gulliver

 

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

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

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

Here’s my letter.

 

——————–

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

Has Your School Adopted All-Year-Round Common Core Testing?   10 comments

mtville

 

One of the reasons that our family moved from Wasatch County to Utah County last month was to be closer to the school in Alpine (Utah County) that my son is attending this year. The 50-mile (times two) daily commute was worth it.

Filled with uniformed students and happy-looking staff, Mountainville Academy’s a cheerful, academically-focused K-9 school that displays the Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People posters all over the school (and incorporates the 7 habits into classwork.)  Parents each volunteer 40 or more hours of service to the school, and it shows.

We chose Mountainville Academy because it was one of the few remaining public schools that was using time-tested, excellent Saxon Math (2007 version; pre-Common Core), and it was a rare school where students were grouped by achievement level rather than by age, at least for math.  This meant that a sixth grader would often be found in an eighth grade math class, or vice versa, placed not by government tests, but by a “results-remained-in-the-school” performance test.

Also, despite the government  mandate that the school administer end-of-year Common Core SAGE/AIR tests, the school had been gracious with parents who chose to opt students out of those end of year tests.

This school year had been good, so far.

But last night, I received a school email that has resulted in our family’s decision that our son will not attend Mountainville next year.  I was so sad.  I truly felt sold out, as Alyson Williams described it, because this board could not claim ignorance.  I had met with them, presented to them, emailed them, shown them links and documentation and countless reasons why this decision would harm the students and the school.

The email, from the school’s academic excellence committee, stated that despite the two presentations I made, and despite other parents also speaking out, the school will abandon “results-remain-in-the-school” performance testing, to adopt year-round, formative SAGE/Common Core testing.

This, the email said, was in the best interests of the children.

I was sickened by the email’s news, but also confused– how can anyone, having received the amount of information and documentation that I presented and emailed to the board and the committee about SAGE/AIR, still say with seriousness that this decision was “in the best interests of the children”?

I don’t get it.

But I’m going to post the email that I gave to the board, which the board had requested from me as a follow-up to my five or ten minute oral presentation.  I’m also going to post the email I received last night.

So, is this an epic ruination of a great, formerly-parent-led school, or was this decision made truly “in the best interests of the children”?  The school  has been altered to its very center.  The school-altering decision was made without taking a vote from parents, without even announcing in the weekly “Mountainville Minute” that the school will now be very, very different.

It will be administering Common Core testing throughout the year, and on purpose, voluntarily, rather than only administering the state-mandated end of year SAGE/AIR test.   It will  necessarily align its teachings more and more to the federal desires for what college-and-career readiness is, because placing students in different levels of learning will be structured all year long now upon common core testing and teaching.

I can’t see any way that this course of action can take place and still keep classic education, Saxon math for example, at the school for long.  Because formative tests are utterly Common Core and David-Coleman-club  aligned, to get the state version of “excellent” scores on these tests, teachers will be pressured to teach more Common Core and less classic Saxon.  The formative tests will form student’s paths and teacher’s definitions of what education now means, and that’s giving up the reins of power, reins that had made this school so unique and wonderful.

Beyond the academic transformation is something probably even more serious:  student data privacy.  Privacy for Mountainville students is thrown out the window, because individuals and schools were the only defense we had against the federal-corporate partnership that is aiming to rape the nation of its student privacy.

The state government won’t protect us if Mountainville’s board won’t; the state’s SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) tracks children without parental consent or knowledge and gives much of it to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange and to the corporate American Institutes for Research, which is then free to share that data with its countless affiliates, including Data Recognition Corporation and Smarter Balanced Advisory Consortium (SBAC) which happens to be under contract to share its student level data with the federal government.  American Institutes for Research, the primary data collector of Utah’s SAGE tests, is a behavioral research organization focused on psychometric data collection and behavior.

All of this is known to Mountainville’s Board of Trustees, and with full knowledge, the Board has decided to still jump on the year-round SAGE testing bandwagon.  Neither preserving a classical education nor student data privacy apparently matters too much to the Mountainville Board.

But it does to me.

My heart goes out to the students and their families who will remain at Mountainville, most likely oblivious to the fact that the school’s educational program and their student’s academic and behavioral data privacy  just took a very sharp nose dive down.

 

Here are the emails.

——————————————–

On Oct 13, 2014, at 2:12 PM, Christel wrote:

 

Dear Mountainville Academy,

 

I’m following up from last week’s school board meeting with a summary of my concerns underlying my request that Mountainville Academy continue to use the in-house testing system that’s worked so well in past years, rather than switching over to the state’s SAGE/AIR formative testing system.

 

(I began to study education reforms two and a half years ago and have researched, summarized and posted findings at  “Common Core: Education Without Representation” where I hope you will read much more than I can summarize here about student data privacy,  the common core experimental standards, and the unconstitutionality and freedom-sapping of recent education reforms.)

 

The reason my sixth grade son’s commuted 50 miles– from Heber to Alpine– and back, each day this school year (up until this week when our family moved from Heber to Pleasant Grove) is that Mountainville is very different in important, crucial ways, from other public schools.  I love those differences and want them to remain in place.

 

  • The use of time-tested Saxon math rather than the kind of experimental Common Core math that’s being taught elsewhere was reason #1 for our choosing Mountainville.
  • Reason #2 was the in-house testing that places children where they need to be, rather than placing them in a common pace that does not serve individual needs as well; the fact that these in-house test results remained only at Mountainville, rather than being submitted to state or federal entities— as government-mandated school tests are– was a big deal to me.

 

If Mountainville switches to SAGE/AIR formative testing, I predict that many parents, like me, will very sadly decide to leave the school.  Here’s why:

 

  1. LOCAL CONTROL:   American Institutes for Research (AIR), the company that writes Utah’s SAGE tests (along with some limited Utah educator input), represents a lack of local control and freedom to me. AIR is federally approved and  is officially partnered with the federally funded and micromananged SBAC, Utah’s former Common Core test maker.  AIR/SAGE partnership makes Utah indirectly   partnered with the federal government via that SBAC partnership.  AIR has a progressive, left-leaning agenda, a focus on psychometric rather than academic testing, and a set of values that do not match mine. I do not trust that the questions will be values-neutral nor that the questions will not push children toward pre-determined beliefs that go far beyond traditional academic facts or even critical thinking about traditional truth.  I feel this way about AIR based on carefully studying AIR’s own website, mission statement, clients, staff, secretive questions, history; vague responses by the USOE and state leaders in response to parental concerns; the research of Alpine School Board members, and the actual contract between AIR and Utah.

 

  1. PARENTAL KNOWLEDGE:  Neither Mountainville parents nor teachers are ever allowed to view SAGE tests– not even months after the testing has happened.

 

  1. PRIVACY:  Privacy will go out the window.  What is reported about students by Mountainville to the state, federal and corporate research entities will go from a tiny trickle to a fast-flowing river of data.  Formerly, Mountainville performance tests remained at the school level.  Now, the state of Utah would be tracking and collecting all in-house formative information on each child, without parental knowledge or consent.  While parents can opt out of end of year SAGE tests, they cannot opt out of year -round formative tests while remaining at this school.

 

  1. FEEDING THE SLDS:  Because the legislature has not clearly defined, as far as I can tell, who owns individual student data in our state, the state is making what I feel is  the wrong assumption –that it owns or is entitled to student data.  Common sense says that the student and his/her family should own his/her data.   Because it’s not clear in current law, our children are unprotected.  This is evidenced by the existence of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which follows and tracks students without parental knowledge or consent, from the moment a parent registers a child for school (unless it’s private school) until the child is in the workforce.  The SLDS system was created to federal specifications, with federal interoperability rules, using $9.6 million federal dollars to build Utah’s SLDS.  Every other state also has a federally paid for SLDS.  Much student data is shared from the SLDS to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange.  Because we do not know exactly what data is shared from Utah to the federal government, we are wise to not feed Utah’s SLDS any more data that we are absolutely required to by state law; i.e., don’t drop our in-house testing and use the state’s SAGE/AIR system.

 

  1. FEEDING THE NDCM DATA POINTS:  There is a National Data Collection Model at the federal level  which requests– it does not mandate, but it requests— over 400 data points about every student in our state. It is an invasion of student and family privacy, yet at the state level, Utah is increasingly conforming to the NDCM requests using its P-20 system promoted in Governor Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 program. I do not see any benefit or need to cooperate with these unethical requests.

 

  1. FERPA WAS SHREDDED: We are not protected by formerly protective federal privacy law, FERPA.  The Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to make regulatory, policy changes (not laws, but still binding).  These changes included reducing the requirement to get parental consent (before viewing/sharing student data) to a “best practice” rather than a mandate. The changes also included redefining personally identifiable information (pii) as biometric information. That means that behavioral data (the type of data AIR specializes in collecting) and biological data can be used to identify students at the federal level.  The Federal Register lists fingerprints, blood type, handwriting samples, DNA and many other methods of identifying pii of a student..  We have to ask ourselves whether a vast data-collection archive or student privacy is of greater value to our children.  We cannot have control of both.

 

  1. DON’T PASS THE BUCK ON PROTECTING CHILDREN:   In my experience I have found that most Utah legislators, state school board members and even our governor’s staff do not know nor work to understand these things..  They have not taken the time to understand recent education reform changes, or they see them as a positive thing.

 

We cannot depend on others to protect our children.  We need to be the first line of defense as parents, teachers and local school board members.  I ask you to retain Mountainville’s in-house tests, keep the strengths of Mountainville, and reject the opportunity to use Utah’s SAGE/AIR year-round testing system.

 

Thank you.

 

Christel Swasey

Mountainville Academy Parent

(also a Utah credentialed teacher)

————————————————————————–

Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Request to continue with in-house testing rather than
formative SAGE testing


Christel,

I just wanted to let you know the status of our SAGE testing decisions.


At Mountainville Academy, we make every decision based on what is best for our students.  After listening to all sides with concerns about SAGE testing, we as an academic excellence committee has decided to go ahead with the interim SAGE testing.  We feel that it will help students learn and prepare for SAGE testing in the spring.  As you know, spring SAGE testing is mandatory and schools are not allowed to opt out of testing.


After reviewing the results from SAGE testing of spring 2014, we recognize the many challenges that come with a new test, but are excited by the tools created to help our students achieve greater understanding of various topics.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  I completely understand your concerns and we will continue to monitor the testing and SAGE program.  Thanks for coming to our board and committee meeting.

Thanks Again!


Board of Trustees
Mountainville Academy

—————————————————————————

(For those with concerns,  look into schools that are not yet taking the path of Common Core year-round testing.  In Utah County there’s the (fully aware of the Common Core problem) Maesar Prep (a public chartered jr. and high school), American Heritage (private K-12), Timpanogos (public elementary charter) or one of the many home school co-op academies nearby.)

UT Canyons District Teacher: “This is Why Teachers Are Afraid to Speak Out”   9 comments

Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis.  Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:

 

“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS.  Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”

 

Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi Reject Common Core   6 comments

The Domino effect is happening.  States are getting free of Common Core.

First was Indiana.  South Carolina and Oklahoma officially dropped out next.  Now, here are two more immediately dropping dominoes,  Louisiana and Mississippi:

 

Domino one:  Mercedes Schneider provided details on Louisiana Governor Jindal’s Common Core and PARCC exit here.  Fascinating conflict of powers in Louisiana.  (Thank you, Mercedes Schneider!)

 

Domino two:  The Clarion-Ledger reports that Governor Bryant of Mississipi wants to be free of Common Core.

“I think Common Core is a failed program, and the United States is beginning to realize that,” Bryant said. “Governors all across America are realizing states can do it better.”

Yes!

Hope that Utah’s Governor Herbert is next.

Video: Utah County GOP Chairman Casey Voeks on Common Core   Leave a comment

In this video, Utah County’s Repubican Chairman Casey Voeks explains why his party’s opposed to Common Core.

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97553651″>Casey Voeks (Utah County GOP Chairman) explains how Common Core violates Republican principles.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8069880″>Sound Image Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Testing Resistance Movement Surges   4 comments

Update:  here is a list of articles documenting the increasing surge in resistance to governmental/school-based mandatory standardized testing.

Is Opting Out of Common Core Tests a “Crime” in Alabama?  No!
http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/05/is-opting-out-common-core-tests-a-crime-in-alabama/
http://blog.al.com/live/2014/05/mobile_baldwin_school_official_1.html

Strong Critic of Standardized Testing Elected to Lead Los Angeles, California Teachers Union
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-caputo-pearl-teachers-union-election-20140429,0,216089.story#axzz30JP8ervu
Students Blow Off California Smarter Balanced Pilot Exams
http://www.scotscoop.com/39589

Why My Kids Played Hookey From This Year’s Colorado State Tests
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25684942/why-my-kids-played-hooky-from-school-tests

Many Connecticut Students Skip New Common Core Tests
http://www.theridgefieldpress.com/29072/some-students-skip-new-common-core-tests/
Alternative to Connecticut’s Failed Tests is Not More Tests
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Solution-to-failed-tests-is-not-more-tests-5449394.php

Meet the New Florida Test, Same as the Old Test With a Different Name
http://folioweekly.com/MEET-THE-NEW-TEST-SAME-AS-THE-OLD-TEST,9636
Florida Legislature OK’s One Year School Grading Pause
http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/30/4089448/fla-legislature-oks-1-year-pause.html

Time to Opt Out of Georgia High-Stakes Tests
http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-05-03/hilliard-opting-out-high-stakes-testing
Sample Georgia Opt Out Letter
http://www.madisonjournaltoday.com/archives/6898-LETTER-Refuse-to-have-children-subjected-to-standardized-testing-craziness.html

Missouri Families Begin to Opt Out of Standardized Tests
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/have-schools-reached-testing-overload/article_1799715d-7729-5b2c-80ce-e479a9a967e9.html

New Jersey Testing Revolt
http://www.myveronanj.com/2014/05/02/testing-revolt-montclair-bloomfield/

New York Senate Bill Filed to Require Disclosure of Common Core Test Questions
http://www.nysenate.gov/press-release/senator-ken-lavalle-renews-push-common-core-truth-testing-legislation
New York Must Make New Tests Open to Public Review
http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/05/01/ela-math-tests-common-core-grade/8582131/
New York Postpones Deadline for New Teacher Assessment
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2014/04/NY_delays_licensing_test_deadline.html
Test Prep Endures in NY Schools Despite Calls to Ease It
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/education/test-prep-endures-in-new-york-schools-despite-calls-to-ease-it.html
Teachers Refuse to Give Tests at High School for New Immigrants
http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/teachers-refuse-to-do-standardized-tests/
Thousands of New York Families Opt Out of Standardized Tests
http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/education/new-york-parents-opt-out-high-stakes-tests
The Big Lie About “Social Promotion” in New York
http://www.alternet.org/education/big-lie-reformers-are-telling-about-social-promotion-nycs-schools

Some North Carolina Students Refuse to Take State Tests
http://wfae.org/post/refusing-take-nc-standardized-tests-can-cost-some-students
North Carolina Children Talk About Test Stress
http://wunc.org/post/sweating-over-bubbles-no-2-pencil-three-families-tell-their-stories
Politically Driven Third-Grade Reading Test is “Path to Failure” for North Carolina
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/30/3823800/politics-driven-read-to-achieve.html?sp=%2F99%2F108%2F
School Board Member Calls North Carolina Testing Regime “Abuse”
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/04/30/3821610/wake-county-school-board-member.html

Ohio Parents and Teachers Skewer State-Mandated High-Stakes Exams
http://www.toledoblade.com/Education/2014/04/30/Sylanians-skewer-state-mandated-testing.html
Parents Mobilize to Overhaul Third Grade Reading Test Requirement
http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2014/05/02/columbus-third-grade-reading-tests.html

Cutting Exams Will Save Pennsylvania Taxpayers Millions
http://www.dailylocal.com/social-affairs/20140504/limits-on-keystone-exams-will-save-money-dinniman
Letter: Opt Your Kids Out of Pennsylvania’s Classroom Diagnostic Test
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25697503/opt-your-kids-out-cdt-test-letter

Rhode Island Legislature May End Grad Test Requirement
http://wpri.com/2014/04/29/senate-house-could-end-necap-grad-requirement/

Teachers to Sue Houston, Texas, Over Test-Score-Based Evaluations
http://blog.chron.com/k12zone/2014/04/hisd-teachers-to-sue-over-job-evaluation-system/
Texas Governor Candidate Supports Less Testing, More Performance-Based Assessment
http://www.myhighplains.com/story/d/story/davis-calls-for-reduced-emphasis-on-standardized-t/21306/QKeFDnuL3U-qHvuTLFYvfQ

Arne Duncan Will Soon Label Every Washington State School a Failure: Cue the Revolt
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/29
Washington School Board Member to Duncan: Take Your Waiver and . . . .
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/04/arne-duncan-can-keep-his-cynical-nclb-waiver-washington-school-board-member/

Pearson Wins Huge Common Core Testing Contract Despite Track-Record of Failures
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/05/pearson-of-course-wins-huge-common-core-testing-contract/

10 Things SAT Scores Won’t Tell You
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-the-sat-wont-tell-you-2014-05-02

Principal: Test-Fixated “Reform” Is Destroying Childhood
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-sheninger/education-reform-destroying-childhood_b_5235535.html

Standardized Exam Essay Robo-Graders Flunk the Test
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/04/30/standardized-test-robo-graders-flunk/xYxc4fJPzDr42wlK6HETpO/story.html

———————

This list was compiled by Bob Schaeffer of http://www.fairtest.org

The Dying of the Light: How Common Core Damages Poetry – by Esolen, Highfill, Stotsky   11 comments

For Utah School Districts: A Common Core Fact-Checking Adventure   3 comments

Rainforest-Hiker-2-NYT-1200x550

Let’s not call this research!   This is a fact-checking adventure.

This adventure begins because of the FAQ statements about Common Core posted at the Provo  School District website.  (See it on their  website or just scroll to the bottom of the page where I’ve pasted it.)

This post is not meant to be accusatory or mean.  Provo District and other districts tend to trust and echo  what’s spoken and posted by the State Office.   Clearly, districts and boards, like anyone, can and do make factual errors; but when the errors are very clearly pointed out, those mistakes should be corrected.

I apologize for the length of this article.  I chiseled and chiseled but cannot in good conscience make it any shorter. 

——————————

Question #1 at the Provo District FAQ states: “The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and Superintendents in 2007.”

Common Core is far from being “grassroots.”  President Obama has been pushing for national standards for many years.  In 2007, he was justifying his decision to stop NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration programs to fund “his” new education program.  His administration has used different terms to refer to his takeover of local education, but it has also provided a federal, official definition   of “college and career ready standards” being “standards that are common to a significant number of states” –which can only be Common Core.  He paid for Common Core test development.  And Obama’s famous blueprint for reform included four education reforms, one of which was data collection, one of which was common standards and tests, and you can read the rest.

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, claimed that a federal takeover of education was Obama’s idea.  Buried in the second half of a long, glowing official speech about U.S. education reform are  these words by Arne Duncan: “The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal” –and he said that even though: “Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy,” Obama “has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more…  America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform.”

Secretary Duncan  gloated that many states fell for the financially-baited federal Common Core hook without debating the move, but Duncan always carefully called the Standards a state-led creation, keeping up the ruse.  He said that a majority of states “and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it. Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards… That is an absolute game-changer.”

Indeed it was a game changer.

To clear up doubt about whether Common Core was or was not grassroots-and-teacher-led, just follow the money trail. Those who paid for and promote this are being paid, or will be handsomely paid as it is implemented, to do so. The SBAC and PARCC Common Core tests are funded by the federal government. The Common Core standards’ writing, marketing and implementation are funded primarily by Microsoft owner, Pearson-Ed partner Bill Gates.   This unelected influence continues locally.  In Utah, the ways in which Pearson/Gates controls school data collection  is formidable.

Most telling is the official partnership of the Department of Education with the Common Core creators.  The ongoing support (coercion) of the federal government to have states adopt the private-trade-group held, copyrighted Common Core means that Common Core is neither purely a federal takeover nor is it purely a privatization of public schools, but it is a public-private partnership, a concept that takes voters out of the decision making driver’s seat.

Question #1 also misleads us by saying that Common Core was “initiated by state governors and superintendents.”   It is true that the governors’ club, (NGA) and the superintendents’ club, (CCSSO) did create and copyright Common Core.  Their “frequently asked questions” officially explains:  “the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead…”  But not all governors belong to NGA!  Not all superintendents belong to CCSSO!  Some, in fact, are vehemently opposed to these private, closed-door, non-transparent, unelected trade organizations that wield falsely assumed power.  I say “falsely assumed” because they pretend to Congress-like national representational authority for states, but they are not an elected group.  No voter can affect what they do.  No reporter can report on what they do.

Questions 2, 3 and 4 take on the question of whether standards and curriculum are independent of one another.  This is like saying that a skeleton (standards) does not dictate what a body (curriculum) looks like.  It’s a half-truth: sure, they are not the same thing.  But I defy anyone to build a curriculum and related tests that truly soar above or are very different looking than the standards they are built upon.  Watch the statement in a video by main Common Core funder Bill Gates as he explains to legislators that he’s looking forward to schools being a uniform customer base, and that “we’ll only know if Common Core standards work” when the standards, curriculum and tests align.  You might also listen to teachers who testify that standards do drive curriculum and testing, as they narrow the autonomy and innovation of a classroom.

Question 5 asserts that the Common Core standards were internationally benchmarked.  This is not true.

Dr. James Milgram, the Stanford emeritus professor of mathematics who served on the Common Core validation committee and who refused to sign off on the standards, said:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries…”

Likewise, Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the same committee, who also refused to sign off on the Common Core standards because they were academically inferior,  has written:

“…we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor, during the first week in June. Not mentioned at all in the interview or the op-ed he co-authored in the WSJ a week later is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director. Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked. Neither the methodologically flawed study by William Schmidt of Michigan State University, nor the post-Common Core studies by David Conley of the University of Oregon, all funded by the Gates Foundation, have shown that Common Core’s content is close to, never mind equal to, the level of the academic content of the mathematics and English standards in high-achieving countries.”

In which top-achieving country is Algebra pushed to grade 9 instead of grade 8?  In which top-achieving country is classic literature being replaced gradually by informational text?  The phrase “internationally benchmarked” is misleading millions of people.

Question 6 states that the federal government has no role in the implementation or development of Common Core.  This is a half-truth; as shown above, the federal government partnered with private groups who are developing and implementing the Common Core.  The role of the federal government has been to heavy-handedly partner with and to promote the Career and College Readiness /aka Common Core Initiative’s full agenda, with grants, speeches, and threats –while saying that localities retain freedom to choose.

Question 7 asks:  Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards?  The Provo District says that it will not cost any additional money.  This cannot possibly be true– even common sense alerts us to this, but so does Pioneer Institute, a rare think tank that is not-Bill-Gates-nor-federally funded. Here is that think tank’s report.

Reason this out. When, in the past, have districts needed to throw out and replace virtually all old text books for totally different math and English standards?  Never.  When have there been so many wholly transformative (for good or ill) teacher development classes statewide? Never.  When has the state tested students so often and so heavily to align with national  testing practices?  Taxpayers even had to fund the marketing and political blitzing of the Utah State Office of Education as it has aimed to persuade parents that Common Core is a positive change.

Question 8 asks, “How does the local school board fit into the Common Core?”  Without saying so directly, it answers its own question:  the local school board’s job has seemingly become to nod and agree with all that the state pushes upon it, groupthink style.

Question  9 asks, “Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?”  While it is true that both content and skills are partially covered in Common Core, it is an important reality that less knowledge and more of what Dr. Stotsky refers to as “empty skill sets,” with much less content, is being taught under Common Core.   Virtually everything has changed, and all without field testing or academic research to base the changes upon.  Even  vocabulary words are changing to less literary, more technical/industrial words, words that are being called “more relevant” than the rich vocabulary offered in the literary classics.   And, while small passages of founding documents and classic literature are to be taught and tested, they are not to be placed in context nor read in whole.   This, to me, looks like dumbing down.  Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire explains:  “The central message in their guidelines is that the focus should be on “the text itself”… The text should be understood in “its own terms.” While the personal connections and judgments of the readers may enter in later, they should do so only after students demonstrate “a clear understanding of what they read.” So the model of reading seems to have two stages—first a close reading in which the reader withholds judgment or comparison with other texts, focusing solely on what is happening within “the four corners of the text.” And only then are prior knowledge, personal association, and appraisal allowed in.  This seems to me an inhuman, even impossible, and certainly unwise prescription.”  –Speaking Back to the Common Core

The Provo District claims:  “In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in whole numbers, addition, subtraction…”  At which ages are these math concepts being taught?  Many foundational concepts have been pushed back.  Fluency with fractions/decimals/ratios is pushed to junior high, when it used to be foundational for elementary school levels.  Most calculus and  other higher math concepts are pushed out of high school completely— not available until college.   Dr. James Milgram said that Common Core math standards “only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course…”  Noted math expert Ze’ev Wurman has noted that Common Core math standards, now set in the concrete of nationalized, high-stakes testing, “mark the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States.”

Question 10 asks whether these math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence.  It claims that the Common Core math standards “are coherent and based on evidence”  No link to such evidence is given.

We need such evidence.  Academics nationwide are pointing out that because no evidence exists, the standards are an experiment.  They were never field tested prior to the nationwide rollout.

Dr. Milgram has said, “There is no point where the student-constructed algorithms are explicitly replaced by the very efficient standard methods for doing one-digit operations. Why does Common Core adopt this convoluted method of teaching math? The stated reason is that learning the standard algorithm doesn’t give students a “deeper conceptual understanding” of what they’re doing. But the use of student-constructed algorithms is at odds with the practices of high-achieving countries and is not supported by research. Common Core is using our children for a huge and risky experiment.”

Question 11  addresses the ongoing discussion about who has control of the classroom.  Provo District states that the Common Core standards “do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate.”

But teachers are testifying that this is not true.  Utah teachers Ann Florence, Stuart Harper, Susan Wilcox, Malin Williams, Diana McKay and many other teachers have spoken out and risked or lost their jobs to tell a very different story.   In addition, we have the above-cited testimony of funder Bill Gates  who says that the standards, tests and curriculum will align to prove that the standards “work.”  It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: “You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.”  The state, federal, and corporate ed sales (textbook companies) say the same thing: “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”  Almost all the curriculum in the nation is aligning, building a new education system on a very sandy foundation.  The fact is that there is a Common Core  15% no-adding-to-the-standards rule in contracts and agreements that is common knowledge, both in testing and curriculum.  The USOE continues to dismiss the suffocating 15% rule as “not a big deal.”

Question 12 asks what would happen if Utah were to reject Common Core.  The Provo District then says that because the Common Core Standards “are not federal” that this would not alter Utah’s relationship with the federal government.  This assertion contains two untrue portions: 1) saying that Common Core Standards are not federal implies that they are not federally approved/federally promoted/federally set as conditions for receipt of federal grants and Title I monies.  But they are all of those things.

Although the NGA/CCSSO wrote and copyrighted the standards, the federal government has pushed  them more than anyone —has disguised the nature  and name of it, deceptive language. Federally, the Common Core Standards are called the “College and Career-Ready Standards.”  But at the NGA/CCSSO level, it’s called Common Core.  The feds officially defined “College and Career Ready Standards” as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  See this official re-definition on the federal education website.  Although federal insiders know this, they don’t choose to clarify it.

Question 12 goes on to say that because Utah Law now requires computer adaptive testing, the  testing would continue with AIR (American Institutes for Research) even if we rejected Common Core itself.  This does not make sense; Utah’s AIR (aka SAGE)  test is aligned to Common Core.   Why would we stick with that after dropping Common Core?  Were we to reject Common Core, we would then create an alternative test with a non-Common Core aligned company using better, independent standards.

Question 12 states that the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) would still be in  place. This is true, and problematic.  Since Utah has no proper protections in place over the privacy of student data, and since the federal goverment shredded formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws, Utah would have to either create proper protections legislatively, or Utah would need to shut down the SLDS and return the $9.6 million that Utah accepted from the federal government to create it, using federally directed interoperability frameworks  (see pages 2 and 4 on that grant’s pdf) which created a de facto national data collection system).   Since national data collection systems, de facto or not, are illegal, it would be preferable to shut down the SLDS.

Question 12 further states that “Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards… newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.”  This is mostly correct.  Utah’s hasty adoption of Common Core has cost her countless millions in newly purchased materials and programs.  (See question 7 above, which ironically asserts that the cost of Common Core is not an issue.)  There are  a limited number of textbook companies that offer curriculum independent from Common Core.  Some curriculum companies, such as Saxon Math and Shirley Grammar, still offer editions that have not changed to Common Core to accomodate private schools and home schools.  Others, such as the Institute for Excellence in Writing, have re-labeled curriculum, calling it Common Core aligned,  but have not made actual changes to it.  Remember that all older (classical education) texts are independent of Common Core, since Common Core only began its explosive  existence in the past four years.

Question 13 asks what assessments are required by the federal government and answers that ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) aka “No  Child Left Behind” requires states to have  assessments in math, language arts, and science. This is true. What isn’t explained, and should be, is this:  The federal government first of all has no constitutional business requiring states to have assessments.  See the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law (General Educational Provisions Act).

Yet the federal government now corrals its state funding  to be used for tests, technologies, professional development, and student computer devices only if and when they are aligned with Common Core (aka College and Career Ready, or CCR).  The federal government approves a limited number of testing organizations and consortia.  (Utah’s so-called choice, the A.I.R. company, has “developed the only computer adaptive test that is federally approved.“)

Question 15 contends that “Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system”  and that “Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing.”   Every teacher in the state has not been invited.  Ask around.  It’s not true.  Also, in the words of the actual contract that Utah and the A.I.R. testing company have signed –the contract is available from the State Office of Education–  a combination of AIR psychometricians, and also Utah teachers, are co-writing the test items.  Why let a single psychometrician anywhere near our children’s academic tests?

 

Question 16  discusses the 15-parent panel which reviews the AIR/SAGE tests to see that they are strictly academic.  The panel’s work has not been given the respect it deserved.  Nor can we honestly say that the USOE is not collecting behavioral data, inside the SAGE test or by other state-created methods to be discussed below.

Of her experience on the parent panel, mother Alyson Williams, stated (see the comments section) that:

“There were questions that parents flagged as inappropriate, subjective or biased. We were promised that these test items would be reviewed and addressed and that we would get to see how they were addressed… long after this Spring’s pilot, unfortunately… I feel it is a manipulation of my cooperation to characterize it as unreserved approval of these assessments.”

Another member of the panel, Louisa Walker, stated: “Quoted from [Assistant State Superintendent] Judy Park: ‘… Every parent on the panel… agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.’ I served on that 15 parent committee, and I will tell you that is not trueI wasn’t the only one to flag items because of subjective, inappropriate, or misleading content…”

A third member of the parent panel, Jennie Earl, stated that only 2 or 3 parents actually read each of the questions, due to the huge number of questions and small number of parents permitted to read them.  She wrote:   “… a parent would read a question they had concerns with to gather additional insight from the other parents in the room… because of the nature of the content in the question or bias in the wording…. These items were flagged in addition to other items parents felt needed revision or removal. We don’t know the final outcome thus far on flagged items…  I might add… measuring teachers and schools based on a value-added model or growth model is not a valid measurement tool for identifying effective teachers or schools.”

A fourth member of the 15-parent state panel, Kim Kehrer, wrote: “I was also on the parent panel. The questions were reviewed at most by two members of the 15 parent panel. Here are the facts: 43 questions were removed due to various reasons. 160 questions were changed or modified to address the question of concern and 397 questions will be used in the testing and reviewed again next year. I second Jennie Earl’s comment that we are not a validating committee.”

In addition to these concerns, the idea that the tests were strictly academic must be addressed.  That cannot be believed by any rational researcher.

Here’s why:

1-  Do a word search on the AIR contract with Utah; the word “psychometric” comes up 73 times. (Look up that word’s definition and find that psychometrics are psychological and educational measurement using tests.)

2-  Look up the AIR company:  “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation”.

3-  Look at Utah’s legislation about computer adaptive state testing and learn that HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of  behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. test or A.I.R.– test. (There were other, similar laws, years prior to this, as well.) –Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah law says that the test must test behavioral indicators, the test still won’t?

4- See Utah’s SLDS grant application starting at page 87  and read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied. (This may or may not include information embedded in AIR/SAGE tests)  These behaviors will include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated in part through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)” That inventory –a child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the database (SLDS).  The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database.

“With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.”  It also says: “… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency…  Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 using… SSI,  a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.” The Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah.

The Utah Office of Education openly admits to gathering student psychological data.  It has not yet openly admitted that SAGE/AIR tests do this.  But with such a policy, openly shown in the USOE’s SLDS grant, why wouldn’t the USOE also, soon if not now, use the SAGE test along with SSI, to gather attitude and belief data on Utah children?  The point is that proper legal protections are not in place.  Student data and family privacy is vulnerable.

5– The USOE has a history of working in harmony with even the unconstitutional federal initiatives.  The U.S. Department of Education  issued a report on school gathering of behavioral/belief data.  Read its 2013 “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report.  It encourages assessment of student beliefs and personality characteristics, and the keeping of longitudinal records of these traits.  The report encourages the use of facial expression cameras, wireless skin conductors, posture analysis seats and other physical devices to measure student attitudes, beliefs and engagement with what is being presented. (see page 44)

Why isn’t the Provo District and the Utah School Board making statements of discontent with the directions in which the federal government is taking education and data collection in light of such federal reports and recommendations?

Question 18, 19 and 20 concern student data privacy.  18 asks what individual student information is given to the federal government  from the assessments given in Utah. It says that “districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation.”  It says, “The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base.”

Almost no proper legal protections are in place for student data privacy, while parents are not permitted to opt any public/charter school-attending child out of the state database (SLDS).  Also, formerly protective federal FERPA privacy laws have been shredded by the Department of Education.  Changes include reducing the requirement (of getting parental consent prior to accessing personally identifiable student information) to an optional “best practice“.   At the same time, local privacy laws at least in Utah, are unspecific. Data alliances and data sharing practices among agencies grow and grow, almost unrestrained by privacy laws.

The federal government has long been collecting aggregate (partial, grouped, not easily personally-identifiable) student data.  The CCSSO has been collecting national data, too.  This is common knowledge.

What is in question is whether these D.C. entities have any access to the fifty State Longitudinal Database Systems, which contain personally identifiable information, databases which are (by federal grant-mandate) inter-operable databases.  This question was addressed, ironically, by an insider, a writer named David DeSchryver who aimed to persuade readers to agree that ESEA (No Child Left Behind, a federal law) should be reauthorized.   While I disagree with that thesis, I appreciate that the author of the Whiteboard Advisors article revealed what should be common knowledge: the federal government is collecting SLDS-collected student data via the IES and NCES.

He writes: “Most readers are probably not aware that the law [ESEA] authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and other research related work. IES provides much of the commonly used and accepted data on US public schools…. the IES is uniquely positioned…  It has access to data from every state and school district…  This data…  bolstered by longitudinal data systems, will benefit the entire field of education. More data, however, requires more organization and IES plays an important role here… It helps to standardize data structure so that new data can connect to prior data sets and research.”

The CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) which  copyrighted Common Core and created it, the same CCSSO that created Common Educational Data Standards –has an openly admitted, openly stated mission to disaggregate student data.  (See goal #4) The past and current State Superintendents and the Associate State Superintendent of Utah are members of CCSSO.  Assistant Superintendent Judy Park is also a writer for CCSSO.  This makes me fairly confident that these Utahns are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are.

To dis-aggregate means to move toward specificity:  identifying which individual person did what. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.  A press release showed that Choice/Pearson partnered with the state of Utah to create the UTREX system that would disaggregate student data.

(Every Utahns should ask our top education leaders and legislators why, on the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data.  Why do we remain supporters of CCSSO?)

Provo district says that ” The Federal Government has no direct access to this [SLDS/UTREX data] system.”  But indirectly, it does.  From the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) we read: “states must… continue building linkages [from K-12] … across critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice…” So if the federal government has access to any DQC-adhering state’s database, it will have access to the other agencies’ information about citizens linked thereby.

Utah is a Data Quality Campaign adherent.   The DQC used Utah in its report as a prime example of how its state foster care services data and its school-collected data were combined to find out information about a certain child.  Parental rights or student privacy rights were not mentioned as being a relevant part of that equation.

The federal EDFACTS data exchange claims that it’s gathering national data.  The student data dis-aggregation club, CCSSO, is officially partnered with the federal government to use CEDS, common data standards in education which make student data more easily disaggregated.   Additionally, the federal government paid for all 50 states to have federally-structured State Longitudinal Database Systems to collect personally identifiable information.  National Data Collection Models encourage (but do not require) personally identifiable information to be collected and shared between agencies and among states.  And at the Arne Duncan-approveData Quality Campaign, we learn that  the answer to” “Are education data just test scores?” is: “No… Data include student and teacher attendance, services students receive, student academic development and growth, teacher preparation information, postsecondary success and remediation rates, and more.”

Previous to widespread scrutiny of the (federal branch) NCES’s National Data Collection Model (NDCM) and prior to the NDCM removing this information, but, as older  news articlesvideos and blogs testify—  it was suggested by the federal model that student nicknames, religious affiliation, birthdate, GPA, allergies, maternal last name, voting status and many more data fields should be filled by schools.   (For evidence see screenshots which were saved from NDCM – minute 27:26 on this video by the Restore Oklahoma Public Education group.  I, too, saw and wrote about them here.)

Question 21 correctly asserts that Utah state law (code 53A-1-402.6) allows Utah to “exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards.”  The problem has never been that we can’t exit; it’s that there is not enough understanding of the gravity of the Common Core error, nor enough political will, to choose to exit.

Question 22 says that adequate public feedback opportunities were given prior to adoption of Common Core.  Whether on the national or state level, this is untrue.  This assertion has been rebutted by the Alpine School District (minutes) and by Alpine Board member Wendy Hart,  as well as by the Karl G. Maeser School Board.  Maesar’s statement to the Utah School Board says, “there were no opportunities for review of these standards by local school districts or parents.”

If adequate feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t parents at least know the term “Common Core” prior to being told it was already adopted?  If adequate public feedback opportunities had been offered, wouldn’t legislatures that are now paying for its implementation have had some discussion in the newspapers?  Wouldn’t teachers (like me) have been sent an email, inviting us to research and submit public comment on the subject?  The fact that the public debates on the topic and the vast firestorm of anti-Common Core disapproval is happening now, FOUR YEARS AFTER Utah implemented it, is evidence that it was not properly, adequately discussed prior to adoption.  For more on this absurd hastiness, listen to the public record audio “minutes” of the state school board in 2010 as they hastily adopted the standards without even a full first reading, due to federal time pressure on a grant application deadline that was Common Core adoption-dependent:

May 1, 2009 Utah School Board Meeting, Agenda Item: National Common Standards
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Audiocast/2009.aspx
June 17, 2009 Legislative Interim Education Committee Meeting
Quoted audio starts about 27:30
http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=17&clip_id=5624
July 18, 2011 Alpine School Board Training, select the first audio file, quoted starts about 27:14
http://sbs.alpinedistrict.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=850

 

 

Finally, for your reference, here is the original Q & A:

_________________________________

 

Provo School District

Common Core FAQ*

* Provo City School District recognizes Seth Sorensen, the Curriculum and Assessment Specialist for Nebo School District for his work in creating the original FAQ document on which this is based.

Q1. Who led the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

A. The Common Core was a grassroots initiative initiated by state governors and  Superintendents in 2007. The nation’s governors and education commissioners,  through their representative organizations, the National Governors Association  (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of  the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers,  parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with  state leaders have provided input into the development of the standards.

Q2. What are core standards?

A. Core or educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills  and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning. Standards are concepts that need to be taught, such as addition of fractions in  mathematics, and the grade level where they should be taught.

Q3. What is the difference between standards and curriculum?
A. Standards are the required skills and concepts for the students to achieve. Curriculum include the materials and content that is used to teach the standards.

Q4. Who chooses/adopts state standards and curriculum?
A. The Utah Constitution designates to the Utah State School Board the  responsibility to choose state standards. Local school boards and the Utah  Legislature do not. Local school boards and schools select the curriculum, which is  generally the textbook or program for delivering the standards. Local school teams  and individual teachers choose the everyday lesson content. The Federal  Government has no say in either standards, curriculum or everyday lesson content.  Utah State Code states in 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards: “(1)  In establishing minimum standards related to curriculum and instruction  requirements under Section 53A-1-402, the State Board of Education shall,  in consultation with local school boards, school superintendents, teachers,  employers, and parents implement core curriculum standards which will  enable students to, among other objectives:
(a) communicate effectively, both verbally and through written communication;
(b) apply mathematics; and
(c) access, analyze, and apply information.”

The Utah Code also spells out local school board control of materials:

“(4) Local school boards shall design their school programs, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, to focus on the core  curriculum standards with the expectation that each program will enhance  or help achieve mastery of the core curriculum standards.
(5) Except as provided in Section 53A-13-101, each school may select  instructional materials and methods of teaching, that are supported by  generally accepted scientific standards of evidence, that it considers most  appropriate to meet core curriculum standards.”  http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q5. Are the standards internationally benchmarked?
Yes. International benchmarking played a significant role in both sets of standards.  In fact, the college and career ready standards include an appendix listing the  evidence that was consulted in drafting the standards and the international data  used in the benchmarking process.

 Q6. Does the federal government play a role in Common Core standards  implementation? A. “The Federal Government had no role in the development of the Common Core  State Standards and will not have a role in their implementation. The Common Core  State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that is not part of No Child Left Behind  and adoption of the standards is in no way mandatory. “
http://www.corestandards.org/resources/frequently-asked-questions

Q7. Will Utah taxpayers have to pay more money to implement the new Utah  Core Standards?
A. The Utah State Board of Education regularly updates the Utah Core Standards.  The funding for the implementation of this latest set of standards will not cost Utah  taxpayers additional money. The professional development that takes place in the  districts will remain at the same level it has for the past decade; the only change will be the content focus. School districts are concerned with their ability to provide the  technology and infrastructure necessary to support electronic testing associated  with the new SAGE assessment of the Utah Core Standards. The Utah Legislature  has not raised taxes to fund this change. Provo City School District supports the  advancement of student access to technology and related programs and has been  using existing local and state funding to move in this direction.

Q8. How does the local school board fit into the Common core?
A. School Board powers and duties generally, according to State Code 53A-3-402.  include:
“ (1) Each local school board shall: (a) implement the core curriculum utilizing instructional materials that best
correlate to the core curriculum and graduation requirements;
(b) administer tests, required by the State Board of Education, which measure  the progress of each student, and coordinate with the state superintendent and  State Board of Education to assess results and create plans to improve the student’s  progress which shall be submitted to the State Office of Education for approval;”
http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A03_040200.htm

Q9. Do these standards incorporate both content and skills?
A. Yes. “In English Language Arts, the Common Core State Standards require  certain critical content for all students, including:
• Classic myths and stories from around the world;
• America’s Founding Documents;
• Foundational American literature: and
• Shakespeare.
The remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to  state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Common Core  State Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature  and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In Mathematics, the Common Core State Standards lay a solid foundation in:
whole numbers;
addition;
subtraction;
multiplication;
division:
fractions; and
decimals.
Taken together, these elements support a student’s ability to learn and apply more  demanding math concepts and procedures. The middle school and high school  standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to  real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason  mathematically.”

Q10. Do the math standards cover all the key math topics in the proper sequence?
A. The mathematical progressions presented in the Common Core State Standards  are coherent and based on evidence. Part of the problem with having 50 different  sets of state standards is that different states cover different topics at different  grade levels. Coming to consensus guarantees that from the viewpoint of any given  state, topics will move up or down in the grade level sequence. This is unavoidable.  What is important to keep in mind is that the progression in the Common Core State Standards is mathematically coherent and leads to college and career readiness at  an internationally competitive level.
Q11. What requirements do the Common Core State Standards give to  teachers?

A. The Common Core State Standards are merely a clear set of expectations and  curriculum standards for the knowledge and skills students need in English/  language arts and mathematics at each grade level to prepare students to graduate  college and career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but  they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise  lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their
classrooms, as well as select instructional materials they feel are most appropriate  for their students.

Q12. If Utah were to abandon the Utah Core Standards, what would that  mean?
A. The relationship with Federal Government would not change, because the Utah  Core Standards are not Federal. Utah Law still requires adaptive testing, so the  testing will continue with AIR. The Longitudinal Data system would still be in  place. Utah would have to go through the expense of writing a new core or adopt  the former core–which is not seen as “College and Career Ready” standards. There  may be an expense if newly purchased materials have to be discarded. If Utah  writes unique standards, there will be little or no available materials or textbooks to  support their instruction.

Q13. What assessments are required by the Federal Government?
An ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) was originally passed in 1965  and had major revisions in 1980, 1994, and 2001 (This latest revision called No  Child Left Behind). The current requirements of this act require states to have  assessments in place in Math, Language Arts, and Science. They leave the decision  to the states to determine the assessments and this selection is submitted to the U.S.  Department of Education.

Q14. What assessments are required by the Utah State Legislature?
A. The Utah State Legislature requires the following assessments in State Statute:
• Computer Adaptive Assessment in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and an alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities. These assessments are given to all students in 3rd-11th Grade (CRTs and UAA).
• Statewide Reading assessment given 3 times per year to every K-3rd grade student (DIBELS).
• Kindergarten-2nd grade end of year assessments, which are developed by school districts. • Direct Writing Assessment given to all 5th and 8th grade students (DWA).
• New College and Career ready Assessments given to all 8th -11th grade students (ACT and companion assessments, Explore and Plan).
• An English Language Learning assessment, which places students at various levels of English proficiency (WIDA).

Q15. Who writes the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system?
Utah teachers will write all of the questions that will be used in the new assessment  system. Every teacher in the state has been invited to participate in the item writing  and all volunteers meet together for weeks with administrators and curriculum  specialists from the Utah State Office of Education to develop test items that will  accurately measure student learning of standards within the core curriculum.

–Q16. Are all questions on the new assessments reviewed by a parent group?
A. Yes. All questions are reviewed by a group of 15 parents. This parent group will  verify that all test questions are strictly academic. See the following link: Utah State  contract with AIR: http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/136199-AIR.aspx   (See page 7 for the language that requires USOE and Parent review to approve any
test question before they are used by students.)

Q17. Was AIR assessment required by the Federal Government?
A. No. Utah Legislature passed an Adaptive Assessment law after a successful piloting of adaptive testing. (House Bill 15, 2012) Utah issued a Request for  Proposals (RFP) for an adaptive assessment vendor and AIR was chosen. AIR is a  leader in academic testing and had a superior product for end of level tests,  formative tests and interim tests.

Q18. What individual student information is given to the Federal Government  from the assessments given in Utah?

A. None. The only data provided to the federal government by the State of Utah is  aggregate school-level data. No individual student data is provided. The Federal  Government does not have a direct connection with the Utah data base. School  districts do not gather personal information from families such as religion affiliation
or political party

Q19. What is the Longitudinal Data System in Utah?
A. With 41 school districts and 84 charter schools that use at least 10 different  types of student information systems, Utah needed a way to communicate within  the education system. The Longitudinal Data system is called UTREx. The first task  of UTREx was to assign each student a unique number (SSID), so that two school  districts or charter schools could not claim funding from the state for the same  student. It is also used to help transfer student transcript information to higher  education. A great benefit is the ability to transfer student records for students who  move from one district or charter to the next. The UTREx system improves accuracy  and efficiency of education. Hundreds of hours of time for school personnel will be  saved because of the UTREx system. The Federal Government has no access to this  system

Q20. Are we as schools and districts required to collect more student  information as a result of Utah Senate Bill 82, known as the “Digital Backpack”,  passed in 2013?
A. Yes This Utah bill requires a new system that “collects longitudinal student  transcript data from LEAs (districts and charter schools) and the unique student  identifiers as described in Section 53A-1-603.5.”
The bill summary states:  “This bill:
defines terms;
requires the State Board of Education to establish the Utah Student  Record Store where an authorized LEA user may access student data in a  Student Achievement backpack that is relevant to the user’s LEA or school;

specifies the data to be included in a Student Achievement Backpack;  and  requires the State Board of Education to ensure that student data in a  Student Achievement Backpack is accessible through an LEA’s student  information system by June 30, 2017.”
This bill effectively doubles the amount of data districts are required to send on to  the State office of Education. This new data includes things like school attendance,  student growth scores, student reading level, student writing sample, student  performance by standard and objective, etc…
Text from SB 82: http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillamd/SB0082S01.htm

Q21. Can the State of Utah change their core standards at any time?
A. According to state code 53A-1-402.6. Core curriculum standards.
“(6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or  consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other  entity, including a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including:
(a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum standards; (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are inconsistent with community
values; or
(c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium:
(i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing Federal Programs  Act, or Title 63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act;
(ii) conflicts with Utah law;
(iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a national or multi-state  database;
(iv) requires records of teacher performance to be included in a national or  multi-state database; or
(v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking requirements on home  school or private school students.
(7) The State Board of Education shall annually report to the Education Interim  Committee on the development and implementation of core curriculum standards.”
http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE53A/htm/53A01_040206.htm

Q22. Was any feedback given from the public or any group on the common core prior to adoption by states?

A. Yes. There were a number of opportunities given for the public, as well as other  groups such as educators to give feedback on the core standards, as well as the  college and career ready standards.

Summary of public feedback on K-12 standards: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/k-12-feedback-summary.pdf
Summary of Public Feedback on College and Career Ready Standards:

Click to access CorePublicFeedback.pdf

–From the Provo School District website

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Just Minimum Standards –or a National Coffle?   2 comments

Some people get hot round the collar when the Common Core Standards Initiative is blamed for the absurd Common Core-aligned horrible worksheets. 

“Common Core is just minimum, state-created, better standards,” they insist.

Few people understand that there’s an intimate connection between Common Core standards, tests and curriculum –because there’s an intimate connection between the corporate edu-sellers and the government, both of whom push for Common Core standardization of education –because it increases their power and money flow.   (Click here to read about the corporate Common Core gold rush;  click here to read about the federal Common Core gold rush.  Click here to read about the official partnership between the federal government and the “state-led” creators of Common Core.)

To me, the horrible worksheets are illustrations of what happens when we let slip the reins of local control of education, which is an abdication of our Constitutional duty and right to determine education quality locally. Whether we give up local control to the federal government, to a consortium of states, or to a monopolistic corporate connivance, the fact remains that we’ve given up local control. Central planning by distant, self-appointed “experts” is the opposite of what made America, her scholars, and her universities, great.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that Obama’s 2010  blueprint for education reform had four main points, only one of which is the national common standards. Look at all four, equally being pushed alongside the Common Core, each part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 : (1) Judging teachers and principals by federally approved standards; (2) Collecting more data about students via more tests and state databases than ever; 3) Using Common Core “college- and career-ready standards” along with tests (“assessments aligned with those standards”); (4) Intervening –or closing down– any (government-determined, government test-determined) “low performing” schools.

Think about those FOUR things, not just the standards; now add this: Bill Gates (partnered with Pearson) has paid for virtually all the development, promotion and implementation of the standards (and the rest of the four-part initiative Obama outlined in his blueprint). He has called schools a uniform customer base.  He has begun to create, together with Pearson, curriculum to match the national standards and tests. He has said that “we’ll only know if the standards work” when the curriculum and tests all align to the standards. Watch him on Youtube speaking to legislators on the subject.

When you look at these things as a whole, you see that we are dealing with an entire coffle, not just minimum standards.  And sure:  coffles are efficient, more efficient than “letting” freedom loving individuals (what governments, including our Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, now refer to as “human capital“) run off in any direction they desire.

But is standardization and efficiency worth the loss of freedom, worth the end of American exceptionalism in education?

 

slave-coffle,-central-africa,-1861-[image]_6a0ca85048

Speaking of coffles and the ugly history of human slavery, here’s a question for you.

Why did U.S. slavery last so long, when people knew it was wrong, when the founding fathers condemned it, when brilliant thinkers decried the practice?  It continued and continued until only bloodshed could end it.

And the reason was simply economic: slavery brought wealth to plantation owners and indirectly to the rest of the nation, even to those who said they opposed it.

So it goes with Common Core.  Standardizing American tests, curriculum, standards and teacher development is a mass market for educrats, one never before seen.

So, although an increasing number of Americans are now awake, and know Common Core is wrong, see that the Common Core Initiative is a step away from local control and liberty and real, legitimate, traditional education– the kind of education our ancestors struggled for– they do nothing but pretend to oppose it.  Even though they see that the tests are data collection vehicles, that that the academics are problematic, that teachers are being de-professionalized with the central planning and test-score-based judgments of teachers and schools, they don’t stop the Common Core machine.

Common Core goes on and on,  full speed ahead, in my state, at least.  Not a hiccup.  Even in states where there have been legislative hiccups, the Common Core wolf gets renamed and reintroduced to the state  wearing the same federal leash and eating the same federal fodder.

Common Core will continue to strangle us –until we say no to the money!  We must say no to federal grants, federal “rewards” and “incentives” and say no to the corporate gold rush.

We can do it!

Most of what supports our schools locally is LOCAL property tax. Another huge chunk is state money. The smallest fraction of what supports our local schools is federal money.

Ideas for how to tighten the belt:  Fire those officials at the Utah State Office of Education who are not friends to liberty and local control, whose fat salaries could fund five or six teachers’ salaries combined.  Justify –or fire– all of the money-sappers at the state and federal offices of education.  Stop buying absurdly expensive testing technologies before making class sizes smaller and teacher salaries better.  Rebudgeting could mean we don’t even need the federal/corporate grants with their absurd Common Core Initiative and data-collecting handcuffs.

We can do this.   But will we?

We may be haunted by Sam Adams’s words,echoing in our ears:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty…. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

 

Ghanan-American Immigrant Speaks Out Against Common Core   15 comments

ALMA O  Guest Post by Alma Ohene-Opare

Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world. ”

Alma Ohene-Opare, now a Utahn, is originally from Accra, Ghana.  Alma came to the U.S. at age 19, primarily because of what he called “America’s innovative educational system.”   He said, “I was educated from K-12th grade in a Common-Core-like educational system.  My family (who owns and runs a private K-12 institution) battles daily because of the system.The end result is seemingly educated (on paper) graduates, with no ability to think for themselves, solve problems or innovate in any way. Parents and teachers alike have become conditioned to place the standardized tests at the forefront of education, leading to what we call in Ghana, “Chew and pour, pass and forget.” Here is his story.

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Common Core – A Failed Idea Newly Cloaked in the Robes of Good Intentions

 

My name is Alma Ohene-Opare, an alumnus of BYU and a native of Accra, Ghana. Over the past few months, I have followed with much amusement, the nationwide debate for or against the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The arguments have been fierce and passionate on both sides and seem to stem from a universal desire to raise the quality of education in America. The desire is noble. However, this noble desire will not compensate for or mitigate the empirically documentable effects of the failed policy being proposed.

 

Common Core may be new to America, but to me and the thousands who have migrated to the United States to seek better educational opportunities, it is in large part the reason we came here. If you are wondering what qualifies me to make the assertions I will make in this article, know this; I am one of the few victims of a standardized national education system in Ghana, who was lucky enough to escape its impact. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of a private K-12 institution in Accra, Ghana. Golden Sunbeam Montessori School was founded by my mother in 1989 and is currently leading the fight to rid our country of an educational system that has led to the systematic degradation and deterioration of our human capital.

 

Let’s get to the core of my argument; pun intended. What Americans are calling Common Core is eerily similar to my educational experience growing up in Ghana. In Ghana, K-12th grade education was tightly controlled by the Ghana Education Service, an organization similar to the US Department of Education. From curricula to syllabi to standardized testing, the government controlled everything.

 

In 9th grade, all students, in order to progress to high school are required to take a standardized exam known as the B.E.C.E, which stands for Basic Education Certification Examination. Depending on the results of the test, each student is assigned by a computer program to a public high school without regard to his or her interests, passions or ambitions. Each student is then assigned an area of focus for the next three years. Some of the focus areas are General Science, Business Management, General Arts, Visual Arts, Home Economics, Agriculture, etc.

 

Although things may have changed slightly since I graduated, most students generally did not have a choice as to which area of focus they were assigned. The only way to get a choice was to ace the standardized exam or to call in a favor either through bribery or some other type of corruption. The students who failed miserably were usually those who attended public schools; many of whom dropped out of school entirely.

 

The process was then repeated at the end of High School with another standardized exam called the W.A.S.S.S.C.E. This exam tested your readiness for college and ultimately determined which course of study you were assigned by the government in college. I did not ace that exam and did not get admission into the state run college of my choice. Instead, I went to a private university founded by a former Microsoft employee and was found smart enough to be admitted to BYU a year later as a transfer student, to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and to be hired right out of college as a Program Manager at Microsoft Corporation.

 

Although the education system in Ghana is not similar in all aspects to Common Core as it is being proposed today, some of the basic tenets are the same. The curriculum was controlled by an external body without input from or accountability to teachers, individual schools or parents. Some argue that teachers and parents have control in Common Core. It pains me to witness such naivety. That myth has always been an inevitable play by proponents of any centralized system. The goal is to make people think they are in control while nudging them blindly towards a perceived public interest. The truth is simple; the institution that controls the exams, controls the curriculum.

 

By controlling the standardized exams, each school in Ghana was forced to make passing the exam its primary focus rather than actual teaching and learning. Hence anything that was deemed outside the purview of the test was cast aside and treated as non-important. Extra-curricular activities were cut if not totally eliminated and the school day was lengthened to ensure that students had even more time to prepare for the test.

 

In my case, school started at 6:00 am and ended as late as 6:00 pm. We attended school on Saturdays. Even when school was out we still attended school half day. Our lives were consumed with preparation for the standardized test. We all had booklets of past tests going back 15 years. Those who anticipated failing the test registered in advance to retake the test. The value of teachers was measured solely on the performance of their students on the standardized tests. Scammers who purported to know what would appear on the tests duped schools, parents and teachers alike by selling bogus test questions. Schools with political connections always unanimously aced the tests.

 

You may wonder why nobody ever tried to change the system. The answer was simple. The government made it impossible by requiring all students who wanted to go to High School or College to take the test. Hence, any time spent trying to change the system meant time taken away from preparing for the test. Parents became completely beholden to the system and would threaten to take the kids to other schools if administrators spent any time not preparing their kids for the test.

 

Now that you have a sense of how an education system can become trapped in the death spiral of standardized tests, let me interest you with the impact of this system on actual student outcomes. In Ghana, we had a phrase to describe how we felt about standardized tests. We called it “chew and pour, pass and forget”. Translated, it means memorize, regurgitate, pass the exam and forget everything.

 

Unfortunately that has become reality for many graduates of our educational system. As my father put it in a recent petition to the Ghana Education Service, “the education system in Ghana is akin to an assembly line setup by the government to create employees for an economy largely devoid of innovation, entrepreneurship, originality or risk taking”. Because students never learn to solve problems or think critically for themselves and are largely discouraged from challenging their teachers or the status quo, they are inevitably groomed to maintain the failed traditions of the past while believing they are completely powerless to change anything. The result is the fact that even with an abundance of natural resources, the country in general continues to suffer in the doldrums of socio-economic development without any clear path out of it.

 

Recently my brother left a well-paying job in the US to return to Ghana to take over my parent’s school. He had dreams of changing the system. He imagined students groomed to become innovators and entrepreneurs. He soon learned it was impossible to achieve any of those dreams if the school was to remain subject to the rules, restrictions and common standards the government had set. The only solution was to completely abandon the system, which he fears would cause parents to withdraw their children from the school. He is now stuck in the limbo of a catch 22 but continues to fight to win students, teachers and parents over to a new beginning for the education of their children.

 

In December 2012, I returned to Ghana with my family and had the opportunity to speak to 10th grade students at the school. I gave what I thought was an inspiring speech. I proposed to start an innovation and entrepreneurship club which will employ students to identify and propose solutions to some of the problems facing the country. I promised to provide the capital and resources necessary to support these kids in this new challenge. I ended by asking the kids who were interested to write their names on a piece of paper and email it to me. It’s been more than 18 months since I returned. I have received nothing and I don’t blame them. Their parents have paid a large sum of money because they believed our school would help their kids pass the standardized exam. I was not about to distract them from that goal. What a tragedy.

 

I have personally wondered what makes Africa so uniquely challenged in its attempts at economic development especially when all the innovations needed to do so are readily available to us. I came to a personal conclusion which admittedly is not scientific but captures what I believe to be the elusive culprit. It is contentment with mediocrity and a lack of curiosity to change the status quo. The problem is not inherent in the nature of Africans but rather the imposition of an educational system that burned out the light of innovation and made us content to live on the spoils of the countries brave enough to venture into the glory of the unknown.

When I came to the US, many people would ask what the difference was between the US and Ghana. I responded that in Ghana, I could dream. In America I can do.

 

In writing this article, I am by no means endorsing the current state of public education in the United States. The problem with the system today is that the US government, aided by self-interested unions, has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to return to a system of education that America abandoned a long time ago; a system which has proven a failure in many parts of the world. Common Core is just the latest iteration of the failed system. Like a wise man once said, oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart; to stand on the mountain top to warn against the path you are choosing to take. As an outsider looking in, I recognize one thing that most Americans lack. Because America has been free for so long, many have no sense of what tyranny looks like and how quickly physical and intellectual freedom can be lost on the path paved with good intentions.

 

I plead with all you well-intentioned but definitely misguided administrators, teachers and politicians. Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world.

 

America is desperate to find a solution to a problem that you solved decades ago. Return to originality. Put teachers and parents in charge of the education of their children. Encourage critical thinking that rejects conformity for the sake of some perceived societal benefit. Teach children to solve problems and not just to regurgitate the solutions of generations past. I have been silent too long and have now seized this opportunity to stand up for what I believe, which ironically is something I have learned from my experience in America.

 

America, I urge you to learn from the mistakes of those around because, like the plaque in my former bishop’s office read, “you may not live long enough to make all those mistakes yourself.”

 

–Alma Ohene-Opare, Salt Lake City, UT

 

 

 

Brilliant Teachers Expose Federal-Corporate Connivance   3 comments

school

First, here’s a list.

It’s a smattering of teachers’ names with links to what they have said or spoken.  Their experience and research make a powerful, nearly unarguable case for stopping corporate-federal Common Core.  They are current teachers, retired teachers, and teachers-turned-professors-or-administrators.

Malin Williams, Mercedes Schneider, Christy HooleyPeter Greene, Susan Kimball, Paul BogushLaurie Rogers,  Paul Horton, Gerald Conti, Alan Singer, Kris Nielsen, Margaret Wilkin, Renee Braddy, Sandra Stotsky, J. R. Wilson  Amy Mullins, Susan Wilcox, Diane Ravitch, Susan Sluyter, Joseph Rella, Christopher Tienken, Jenni White,  David Cox, Peg Luksik,  Sinhue Noriega, Susan Ohanian, Pat Austin, Cami Isle, Terrence Moore, Carol Burris, Stan Hartzler, Orlean Koehle, Nakonia HayesBarry Garelick, Heidi Sampson; also, here’s a young, un-named teacher who testified in this filmed testimony, and  an unnamed California teacher/blogger.

Notice that these teachers come from all sides of the  political spectrum.   It turns out that neither Democrats nor Republicans relish having their rights and voices trampled.

And alongside those individual voices are teacher groups. To name a handful:  the Left-Right Alliance,   132 Catholic Professors Against Common Core,  the United Opt Out teachers, the BadAss Teachers, Utah Teachers Against Common Core,  Conservative Teachers of America,  and over 1,100   New York professors. 

These teachers have really, really done their homework.

I’m going to share the homework of one brilliant teacher, a Pennsylvania teacher/blogger named Peter Greene who wrote  about what he called his “light bulb moment” with how the Common Core Standards exist to serve data mining.

Speaking of the millions of data points being collected “per day per student,” he explained:

“They can do that because these are students who are plugged into Pearson, and Pearson has tagged every damn thing. And it was this point at which I had my first light bulb moment. All that aligning we’ve been doing, all that work to mark our units and assignments and, in some places, every single work sheet and assignment so that we can show at a glance that these five sentences are tied to specific standards— all those PD [professional development] afternoons we spent marking Worksheet #3 as Standard LA.12.B.3.17– that’s not, as some of us have assumed, just the government’s hamfisted way of making sure we’ve toed the line.  It’s to generate data.  Worksheet #3 is tagged LA.12.B.3.17, so that when Pat does the sheet his score goes into the Big Data Cloud as part of the data picture of pat’s work. (If you’d already figured this out, forgive me– I was never the fastest kid in class).”

Peter Greene further explained why the common standards won’t be decoupled from the data collection.  His words explain why proponents cling so doggedly to the false claim that these Common Core standards are better academically (despite the lack of research-based evidence to support that claim and the mounting, on-the-job evidence to the contrary.)

He wrote:

Don’t think of them as standards. Think of them as tags.

“Think of them as the pedagogical equivalent of people’s names on facebook, the tags you attach to each and every photo that you upload.

“We know from our friends at Knewton what the Grand Design is– a system in which student progress is mapped down to the atomic level. Atomic level (a term that Knewton lervs deeply) means test by test, assignment by assignment, sentence by sentence, item by item. We want to enter every single thing a student does into the Big Data Bank.

“But that will only work if we’re all using the same set of tags.

“We’ve been saying that CCSS [Common Core Standards] are limited because the standards were written around what can be tested. That’s not exactly correct. The standards have been written around what can be tracked.

“The standards aren’t just about defining what should be taught. They’re about cataloging what students have done.

“Remember when Facebook introduced emoticons. This was not a public service. Facebook wanted to up its data gathering capabilities by tracking the emotional states of users. But if users just defined their own emotions, the data would be too noisy, too hard to crunch. But if the user had to pick from the facebook standard set of user emotions– then facebook would have manageable data.

“Ditto for CCSS. If we all just taught to our own local standards, the data noise would be too great. The Data Overlords need us all to be standardized, to be using the same set of tags. That is also why no deviation can be allowed. Okay, we’ll let you have 15% over and above the standards. The system can probably tolerate that much noise. But under no circumstances can you change the standards– because that would be changing the national student data tagging system, and THAT we can’t tolerate.

“This is why the “aligning” process inevitably involves all that marking of standards onto everything we do. It’s not instructional. It’s not even about accountability. It’s about having us sit and tag every instructional thing we do so that student results can be entered and tracked in the Big Data Bank.

“And that is why CCSS [Common Core] can never, ever be decoupled from anything. Why would facebook keep a face tagging system and then forbid users to upload photos?

“The Test does not exist to prove that we’re following the standards. The standards exist to let us tag the results from the Test.

“… Because the pedagogical fantasy delineated by the CCSS does not match the teacher reality in a classroom, the tags are applied in inexact and not-really-true ways. In effect, we’ve been given color tags that only cover one side of the color wheel, but we’ve been told to tag everything, so we end up tagging purple green. When a tagging system doesn’t represent the full range of reality, and it isn’t flexible enough to adapt, you end up with crappy tagging. And that’s the CCSS…   Decoupling? Not going to happen. You can’t have a data system without tagging, and you can’t have a tagging system with nothing to tag. Education and teaching are just collateral damage in all this, and not really the main thing at all.”

Read more here.

——————-

I’ll add more two points in support of Peter Greene’s words:

1-  First, the creators of Common Core and its copyright have openly stated that they work toward both academic standards’ commonality and data standards’ commonality –I suppose for the very reasons Greene outlined.  Check out the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) –a Department of Education/private CCSSO partnered enterprise,  here.

2– Second, the federal grants that the states all swallowed, the data mining capability-hooks embedded in the juicy worm of funding, called “State Longitudinal Database System” grants, did specify that states MUST use interoperable data standards (search for SIF Framework, PESC model, CEDS standards, NDCM model) to track educational progress.

In other words, the 50 individual states’ database systems were designed so that they can, if states are foolish enough to do so, fully pool student and workforce data for governments or corporations– on an national or international level.

 

 

New York Legislature: Democrats and Republicans Standing Together Against Common Core   2 comments

latimer

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6604-2013

Parents and teachers against Common Core in New York are celebrating the fact that both Democratic and Republican legislators are now taking a stand against the Common Core.

Why are the two parties coming together?

Senator George Latimer  (D) -Westchester County, wrote an article for the Albany Times last month that explained it well:

“For decades we have heard the rallying cry that American students’ performance is falling behind that of students in other countries and for decades education experts have attempted to come up with ONE solution.  This time, under the guise of making students more prepared for a global economy, New York has adopted the “Common Core” standards and is forging ahead at breakneck speed to implement a new top-down education mandate on local school districts. Without dissecting the validity of the “global competition” argument, there are elements of the Common Core’s implementation in New York that must be addressed first.

… There is something wrong with asking our students to perform at a higher level without properly preparing them. There is something wrong with asking someone in Albany or beyond to evaluate a student in Brooklyn the same as one in Bedford or Buffalo. 

There are many issues with New York’s implementation of Common Core, and the concerns are not limited to a small contingent, as some have suggested. Real people who have students in schools and are of every ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, age and geographic makeup share reservations about the Common Core. It is also an issue that does not pit Democrats versus Republicans; it is truly about the students. 

New York is asking students to take exams based on curricula that are not fully implemented in and certainly not readily embraced by those who are actually in classrooms every day. Yet proponents of Common Core continue to move forward without compromise. 

With significant corporate interests behind the shifts toward a “global” education system, I think it is imperative to analyze this in a business-oriented manner

Many business school students and graduates are surely aware of failure of the “New Coke” initiative in the early ’80s, a product that the top brass of Coca-Cola were convinced would usher in a new generation of an already successful brand. Consumers rejected it, prefering they product they already knew and liked. 

Aggregate scores from the entire state have already slipped in the first year of these new tests, and we know our students are not X percent less intelligent than they were the previous year. The scores dropped because the top officials at the Education Department, like those at Coca-Cola in the ’80s, are convinced that they have a new “brand” of education that will usher in a new generation of globally competitive students. The scores dropped because in its haste to implement the new “brand” of education, SED did not do “consumer” research and development before bringing this product to New York’s education “marketplace.” 

The critics of elements of the Common Core, myself included, are not against having students who are able to understand the “why behind how things work,” but we are opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to educating children in a state, nation and world where one size rarely fits all.

… the outcry against specific aspects of the Common Core — the lack of preparation, privacy of student data, and over-reliance on testing — is an opportunity for us to respond to consumer feedback and adjust to the market. … [P]roponents have failed to properly assess the need for a completely new product in their market, and if we don’t evaluate the public opposition to the Common Core as a gauge of the education market, we will make a mistake that will hurt our children.”

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   8 comments

state school board picture photo utah

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Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.

Submit questions to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.

The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.

I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?

3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?

4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?

5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?

6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?

7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?

8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?

17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?

18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.

19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for your answer.

20. Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core standards, tests and professional development costs?

21. Does the Common Core essentially discriminate against talents and interests that are not consistent with their prescribed knowledge and skills?

22. What roles does the Utah State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS)play in reporting to the federal Edfacts Exchange and to the national E.I.M.A.C./CCSSO data collection machines?

23. How do you respond to the question asked by Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University? He said:
“This is not data-driven decision making… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the Common Core standards?”
24. Do you see Common Core’s emphasis on testing as potentially harming American creativity and entrepreneurial fields in which U.S. graduate have historically led the world– or do you see this emphasis on standardization and testing as simply creating more individuals who are very good at taking tests– like students in some Asian countries– without any harm being done to creativity or love of learning?

25. The Constitution assigns education to the states, not to the federal government. Also, the federal General Educational Provisons Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system …“ In light of this, please explain why our state has partnered with those who agree to micromanagement by the federal department of education such as the CCSSO.

26. Which portions of local autonomy have been traded for federally-lauded Common Core standards and tests?
27. What types of legal protections does student data have in writing that can protect us from the federal government and vendors and researchers– in light of recent changes to FERPA privacy regulations, and in light of the federally funded and federally-reporting State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that is partnered with the CCSSO (and PESC) under Utah’s SLDS grant agreement?

28. Why has the Utah State School Board not stood up against federally-partnered and SBAC-partnered Common Core tests to defend local control?

29. For students in the United States to be globally competitive, they must offer something different, that is, something that cannot be obtained at a lower cost in developing countries. High test scores in a few subjects can be achieved in most developing countries, so how could Common Core increase global competitiveness for U.S. students?

30. How can any test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

31. What empirical evidence do you have that high Common Core test scores could result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship?

32. If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore the U.S. on standardized tests such as PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)? In other words, what evidence do we have that pressuring students to focus on standardized testing will improve the U.S. economy?

33. Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the international PISA tests? (see Riddle, 2009) In other words, why are we pushing Common Core when our previous system of local control and freedom worked better academically than other countries’ governmentally standardized systems?

34. Companies like Boeing and GE are allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012). Can U.S. emphasis on standardized test scores create global competitiveness, really, or is it more likely that we should change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages, to increase our global competitiveness?

35. Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012) while only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

36. Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).

37. Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship –and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?

38. To what extent do you agree with this statement? “Common Core is a standardized education philosophy that transmits prescribed content via nationally aligned standards, aligned tests and aligned texts; the previous system was less organized, more loosely monitored, less unified, but spent more time on creativity, individual exploration and innovation.”

39. How do you feel about the funding of the Common Core: one unelected businessman– Bill Gates— funded the Common Core initiative, paid the PTA and the pro-Common Core think tanks (Fordham Institute, Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Educational Excellence) that advocate for it, he partnered with Pearson, the largest educational text sales company in the world to market it, that he publically calls American schools his “uniform customer base”, and that he has said that his goal is for Common Core tests, curriculum and standards to align? See Gates’ public speech here.

40. How do you feel about Secretary Arne Duncan’s stated goals for national Common Core Educational Standards and Common Data Standards? To summarize, a few of Duncan’s stated goals are:

–1) to have the federal government take more control over American schools than ever before,
–2) to make schools (not families) be the community centers, open 6-7 days a week, 12 months a year, 14 hours per day; and
–3) to partner the federal department of education with the copyrighters of the Common Core (CCSSO) for both education standards AND for data collection standards.

———————-

THE CONTINUAL WEARYING a.k.a. THE SQUEAKY WHEEL

(More thoughts on the ongoing Common Core debate:)

If you aren’t going to attend the debate, please use these questions or your own to create more strong pushback from the Common Core disaster.

This is America! We are the people with the power to make things right when we see that they are wrong. This is not a land of centralized power, dictatorship, socialism. This is a land of liberty, where the local people self-govern. We have to wake people up to see that freedom matters– and that Common Core surely takes it away from our children.

We can use the beautiful American processes of debate, of real representation, and of constitutional balances of powers that are supposed to defend freedom and local autonomy.

If everyone who cared deeply about the damages of Common Core were to weary the school boards and governors with questions —repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasinglyCommon Core could not stand.

Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing legs and lies– to stand on.

It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no wisdom, no international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no state-led history, no commitment to local control; no hope to develop any real love of learning; no common sense.

What it does have is millions upon millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and many more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.

But it lacks the important stuff.

Parents (and teachers) can win back local control. We care more deeply about our children and about legitimate education than the proponents care about our children or Common Core.

We just have to be the squeaky wheel.

unrighteous judge parable

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

Weary them, weary them.

We can write or call newspapers and t.v. stations.

We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number).

We can politely and persistently pester the principal and others in the school districts and especially make sure to pester state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber.

Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov

Here is the state superintendent’s address: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Here is the governor’s education counselor’s address: ckearl@utah.gov

If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov

Students Opting Out of Common Core Math to Learn at Home   4 comments

apple books

A friend called last week to say that she’s decided to home school her child. She wanted to know what curriculum I use. She said that ever since Common Core came to town, her child hates school –and sadly, he especially hates math. I told her that I use pre-Common Core Saxon, but that there are many good non-Common Core math programs she can find. The point is to steer clear of Common Core aligned education products. Classical math works. It’s worked for a long, long, long, long time.

Story time: When I began to home school my son just fourteen months ago, his main complaint was being bored in school. He was then just an average student. But he wasn’t given any extra attention, nor extra challenges, as a middle of the road student at that school. He spent a lot of time being finished with his math, just reading at his desk while the teacher helped the slower children, and while the gifted children were in another classroom.

This wasn’t a good use of my son’s time. That was in his first month of fourth grade; and I said, “enough”.

Now, as a fifth grader, he loves math. He’s good at it and proud of it. He wouldn’t admit this. But I know he is. He’s already on the seventh grade math level.

He’s not being forced. He is experiencing the LOVE of learning math, alongside the love of actual autonomy. Liberty.

We slow down or speed up as we need to; our little kitchen/living room/park bench/front yard/ anyplace-we-want-to-go home school is customized to his abilities. We skip along past what he doesn’t need to over-review. We slow down and do extra on the parts he does need to work on.

And we take recess any old time we feel like it. We work hard and we take education seriously, but JOYFULLY. We don’t stress him out. We play at math, we work at math, the way we also play at basketball and at engineering and we still bake cookies and blow up home made kitchen volcanoes and wrestle the three-year-old and visit museums and play the piano or paint or play with the microscope or do deep research on some question he came up with –any time we want to.

We can take naps. We can write books. We can compose music. We can talk as long as we want to about what we learn in history, geography, languages. We are in charge of us.

And he’s sprinted ahead, two years ahead of his grade level in math.

Why do I tell you this? Am I just bragging? No. I am rejoicing. There is freedom in this country to homeschool –or to private school or to public school. (One can not legally home school in MANY places– even in Germany or Sweden, where I spent much of my early life– these supposedly “free” countries. I thank God for this freedom in America.

My high schooler attends public school. Sadly, she and I both realize that she has lost the love of learning. She does the bare minimum to get a decent grade. She doesn’t like math. She doesn’t like science. She doesn’t even like English anymore. It’s dreary now. She puts up with it and then she reads what she actually enjoys reading at home.

Is this just my imagination? Is there an actual, national tragedy going on, that schools under Common Core are sapping the love of learning away from students? Is it to be blamed on the “human capital” angle, the factory view of humanity; just processing people to prepare them to be worker bees rather than preparing them to be free, original thinkers, forging their own paths in life?

I think so.

But there’s one more thing. My son’s math success story is not, as some of my friends suppose, because I happen to be a credentialed teacher.

It’s because I’m a mom who loves to learn. I believe in REAL, classical education, where we teach what’s been time-tested for centuries, and teach a love of learning and a love of God. We do not teach toward a test that politicians and businessmen have hung their career hats on (and have then shoved down others’ throats.) That’s increasingly what public school teachers must do, and what they now also must advocate for. Shudder!

The love of home learning explains why I like this news clip so much. The t.v. clip explains that parents in Oregon are pulling their students out of Common Core math classes to teach them real math at home.

I can’t get the clip to embed, so click here to see the Oregon TV News clip or read more about it at The Blaze.

It’s good to know that there are options. There may be people for whom Common Core makes sense and fits. But it’s not for everyone.

One size does not fit all– never has, never will.

You Had Me At Unconstitutional.   14 comments

statue of constitu

All over the internet, all over Facebook, and not just in America we see problems with Common Core –confusing math, twisted worksheets, stressful high-stakes tests. They’re troubling. But what about the blatant unconstitutionality of the system itself?

This week’s striking op-ed by Michael Lotfi at BenSwann.com and Alyson Williams’ recent speech at a debate in Utah (posted here) each make the point that commentary about Common Core should end when we realize it is unconstitutional!

Lotfi writes:

“We cannot oppose Common Core because it does not align with our values. We must oppose it because it violates this country’s principles. The pundits, journalists, etc. who report and commentate on Common Core only serve to further the disease. The commentary should end at Common Core being unconstitutional because it is not an explicit power delegated to Congress and therefore the Tenth Amendment is remedy.

Say Common Core was struck down because of the values it teaches, but was kept in place with neutral, or conservative values. Again, many would applaud this as victory. However, you’ve only picked off the flower of the weed, which has roots growing ever deeper through the soil. This is no victory. For it is only a matter of time until someone strikes at the values again and replaces them with their own, thus growing the flower back.”

Williams says:

“My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America.”

How is Common Core unconstitutional?

1. IT LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it. You and I would have a voice. But it’s only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words and website. They claim: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” Revised by whom? Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”

2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally— if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams points out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”

3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.

4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government.

Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”

Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, we should rightly be shuddering at the math disasters and the high-stakes tests, should be gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers, and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty.

“I don’t know how you feel, my brethren and sisters, but I’d rather be dead than to lose my liberty…” – Ezra Taft Benson, 1952.

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Teacher Meg Norris: To My Students   2 comments

meg

A letter is posted At The Chalkface. The powerful letter to seventh grade students comes from teacher Meg Norris who explains why she left teaching to fight Common Core.

Here’s just a small piece of it:

“To My Students,

I did not return to the classroom this year and I want to apologize… I want you to know none of this is your fault. It is not you… Your brain was designed perfectly. Common Core standards were not… Common Core is the first time in the history of this country that a privately written and copyrighted plan has become public policy. There is no research to back it and it has never been tested. Politicians are pushing it because these corporations are giving them money to push it. When I left, I met with members of your Board of Education and told them what was happening. They ignored me. I went to the local newspaper and they ignored me too. When I spoke to the state Senate education committee they dismissed me as a political nut job…”

The whole letter is a tearjerker. Please read it and share it.

Admitted: Common Core Math is NOT Meant to Prepare Students for Bachelor’s Degrees   9 comments

Subservience to truly stupid ideas —like dumbing down high school math for economic gain— was never meant to be the destiny of the free American people.

Yet that is what has happened to American education under Common Core. In the video testimony of Common Core creator Jason Zimba, in recent articles by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), in the written testimony of Common Core validation members Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram, and in the 2013 Common Core report of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) we see that Common Core math deliberately diminishes and weakens, rather than adding to, high school math standards.

At the American Institutes for Research (AIR) website, (FYI, this is the company that writes Utah’s Common Core math and English test) there are articles claiming that it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers that more students should only aim for a two year college degree.

AIR dismisses the idea that a student might WANT to learn more than what is available at the associates’ degree level. Individual desires and rights don’t even factor into the collectivism of education reform.

AIR fails to address the fact that not all college educations are tax-funded; some people actually pay for their own tuition. AIR takes the socialist view that taxpayers are “stakeholders” so they should determine whether a student may or may not get more education. AIR says: “Do graduates who earn an associate’s degree and participate in the labor force experience returns, such as higher wages, that justify the costs incurred by them in obtaining that degree? Do taxpayers receive a positive return on their investment in the production of associate’s degrees?”

stotsky

Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the official Common Core Validation Committee, has written an article, Common Core Math Standards Do Not Prepare U.S. Students for STEM Careers. How Come?” (It is posted in full at Heritage Foundation’s website.)

Dr. Stotsky writes that states adopted Common Core math because they were told that it would make high school students “college- and career-ready” and would strengthen the pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but it is clear this claim was not true. Stotsky reminds us that Professor James Milgram has testified to the fact that common core math dumbed down U.S. high school standards.

milgram
James Milgram

With the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards END after Algebra II, reported Stanford emeritus professor James Milgram (Milgram was also an official member of the Common Core validation committee.)

Both Milgram and Stotsky refused to sign off on the academic quality of the national standards, and made public their explanation and criticism of the final version of Common Core’s standards.

Stotsky points out that the lead mathematics standards writers themselves were telling the public how LOW Common Core’s high school math standards were. At a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

Yet, strangely, Stotsky was the only member of the board who expressed concern upon hearing Zimba’s words. Watch that one minute video here.

Stotsky explains:

“U.S. government data show that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area. Moreover, students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II or lower have less than a 40 percent chance of earning any kind of four-year college degree.”

Not only that: Stotsky points out that in January 2010, William McCallum, another lead mathematics standards writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

Dr. Stotsky also notes that there are “other consequences to over 46 states having a college readiness test with low expectations.” The U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grant program, Race to the Top, required states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. Stotsky writes: “Selective public colleges and universities will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.”

Stotsky says, “It is still astonishing that over 46 boards of education adopted Common Core’s standards—usually at the recommendation of their commissioner of education and department of education staff—without asking the faculty who teach mathematics and English at their own higher education institutions (and in their own high schools) to do an analysis of Common Core’s definition of college readiness… Who could be better judges of college readiness?”

Read the rest of Stotsky’s article here.

What about NCEE? Surely the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) would not want to dumb down your child!

Sigh.

In the 2013 report from NCEE, “What Does It Really Mean to be College and Career Ready?” it recommends that we all throw out the higher math we used to teach in high schools in America.

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

MARC TUCKER NCEE

Read the rest of the NCEE report here.

When will people stop saying that Common Core standards are legitimate preparation for 4 year colleges? It so obviously isn’t true.

When will people admit that Common Core caters to a low common denominator and robs high achievers and mid-achievers? Probably never. Proponents pushed Common Core on Americans for a deliberate purpose: so that politicians and the private corporations they’ve partnered with, can analyze, punish and reward those who have forgotten that they have real rights under a real Constitution to direct and control their own affairs.

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Thank you, Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram for your tireless testimonies about American education reforms that hurt our children and our country.

ben franklin tyrants rebellion is obedience

Press Release: Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core   3 comments

This press release was issued last month by Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core, a group of parents dedicated to educating citizens about, and reversing the adoption of, the Common Core in Catholic schools across the country.

(Below the press release, see the video-statement about why Catholic K-12 private schools are moving to Common Core, by Sister Dale McDonald, Director of NCLA Public Policy.)

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: pittsburghcacc@gmail.com
http://www.pghcatholicsagainstcommoncore.com

National Catholic Educational Association promoting controversial Common Core Standards across the country

Pittsburgh, PA – The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the largest private professional education organization in the world (according to their website), had its first national conference on June 30, 2013 in Nashville, TN in support of the very controversial Common Core State Standards. It has hosted a total of three conferences in major cities this summer, called “The Cure for the Common Core Conference” in addition to a convention this past spring that presented everything Common Core and “21st Century” education models.

Common Core is being hotly debated right now. Citizens and legislators in cities and states nationwide have sounded the alarm about Common Core and have decried its content and inferior standards. And yet – the NCEA is forging ahead in building and promoting a vast network of resources for Catholic schools centered on Common Core
instruction and content. Sadly, over 100 Diocese across the country have succumbed to the secular influence of the Common Core proponents.

The NCEA is actively promoting and marketing these nationalized one-size fits all standards by providing teaching materials to Catholic Educators all over the country. They have helped create a Catholic version of Common Core, called the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII) that is stated to 1) empower Catholic schools and dioceses to design and direct the implementation of the Common Core standards within the culture and context of a Catholic school curriculum and 2) infuse the Common Core standards with the faith/principles/values/social justice themes inherent in the mission and Catholic identity of the school.

We are hearing from some Dioceses that they are using the Common Core Standards as a “minimum” benchmark for students, because Catholic standards are already so high. One wonders why they are needed if Catholic schools already have such a strong tradition and history of success with their existing standards. It is confounding to think that a minimum is even required when student performance can be, and always has been, measured
against the higher standard. The Common Core proponents tell us that the Common Core standards are more rigorous and require higher order thinking skills. With this, why would they be considered “minimum” standards by Catholic school leaders? This makes no sense.

We are also hearing from our sources in several cities that parents simply cannot get answers from their Diocesan school leaders about how it will be implemented. What parts of Common Core have been approved? What tests will be used? How will technology be used? Is the Diocese using CCCII? Parents are being left in the dark about these major shifts in how their children will be taught and how they will be expected to learn.

This has led us to believe that Diocesan leaders are either very uninformed on this significant shift in Catholic education and are merely reiterating what they were sold, or they are purposefully being elusive.

Under the direction of Dr. Lorraine Ozar, from Loyola University Chicago, and Sr. Dale McDonald, Director of Public Policy for the NCEA, the CCCII has created a massive amount of materials and detailed teaching guidelines, even showing the controversial behavioral psychology methods and philosophies that it is based on (Bloom’s taxonomy, Understanding by Design, Backward Design, Outcome Based Education, digital learning), weeks of unit content by grade and theme – including book lists for 1st grade that contain books referencing same-sex marriage, website links and books promoting social activism, questioning of parental authority and secular ideas such as building a Facebook page to make friends.

The NCEA has declared in a statement on their website that it does not “endorse” the Common Core State Standards. Yet it has fully embraced them; they were a “Launch supporter” of CCCII, according to the CCCII website. Its conferences allowed them to aggressively market this “Catholic” version of Common Core.

According to Dr. Lorraine Ozar in a July 2012 presentation, “Catholic schools need to pay attention to the fact that the common core standards are here and it is important to get on board”. And Sr. Dale McDonald said in an April 2012 video, “even though these are called ‘secular’ standards, there are ways in which we can make them personal to the Catholic School”.

Why do Catholic schools “need to get on board”? Are they worried about accreditation? Will they lose funding from the government in some way? Are they fearful of losing their alliances with Public-private organizations and partnerships?

Why are they embracing such an insidious agenda that is so diametrically opposed to the Catholic
faith?

Dioceses are being pushed and swooned in this direction and then guided by the NCEA, when really they should be seizing this opportunity to proclaim the accolades of a traditional Catholic classical education. We could see a true renaissance in Catholic education if school leaders chose to lead and purposefully distinguish themselves from public schools. But if Common Core is implemented in Catholic Schools, will it be worth the sacrifice that families are making to send their children to them? There are so many questions that have gone unanswered.

And we keep asking – why?

Catholic schools surely do not “need to get on board”. There is always a choice. And as this moves forward, many more Catholic parents will be asking the same questions and wanting to take their Catholic schools back.

Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core is a group of Catholic parents who are dedicated to educating citizens on the dangers of Common Core in Catholic schools and reversing the adoption of these standards in Catholic schools across the country.
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Florida Mother of Six Fights “The Machine” of Jeb Bush and Bill Gates, FLA Legislature   5 comments

“All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them – Debbie Higginbotham, Florida mother

jeb bush

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debbie h

FLORIDA’S FIGHT FOR EDUCATION: FREEDOM FROM “THE MACHINE”

By Debbie Higginbotham

In every state across this great nation, parents, grandparents, and great Americans are speaking out loudly against Common Core and the Race to The Top Agreement (RTTT). And they should!

Each state has their grassroots groups and coalitions marching to their state capitols demanding answers on why their children have been sold to the Federal Government.

When I started this personal crusade to save my children’s educational freedoms about a year ago, I had no idea what I was going to encounter. I am just a mom who is enjoying raising six beautiful children with no political aspirations nor experience in debating these political cronies.

Every state has their mountains to climb when fighting CC and ridding their state of these horrible standards and mandates all enclosed with the RTTT. Here in Florida most of our battles are the same, but we are fighting a white elephant in the room as well. That white elephant is Jeb Bush and his foundations and other groups he has “founded” that are promoting “higher standards”.

Many refer to Jeb Bush and his cronies as “The Machine”.

When originally talking with school board members and legislators– and being told that Common Core was here to stay and there was nothing I could do about it, I knew something was not right with this whole thing.

Some legislators were giving me the smile and wink –and I thought I was making progress.

It was pleasing to know, at the time, that my elected officials were taking my complaints to heart because this was going to affect their children as well.

I quickly started doing more research and that old saying of “follow the money trail” came to light so true and it wasn’t just looking into Bill Gates anymore, but looking into Jeb Bush and his involvement with Gates and his continuing efforts to alter Florida’s education system for his own political gain and a bid for the White House.

Those winks and nods were just that, empty promises.

The more I was learning, it soon disgusted me. How can a man with no elected accountability from voters have such an influence on my children’s education?

Everywhere I turned I was hitting the same roadblocks and that was “The Machine”. It wasn’t only Jeb Bush but I came to find out through more digging that Jeb Bush has pretty much bought and paid for almost all of the Republican legislators in office right now, including Governor Rick Scott. Even Lobbyists have a loyalty to him.

Jim Horne is the prominent one.

Back in August, Rick Scott called for an education summit to make it look like he was making an effort of hearing all sides of the education issues. He never showed up at the summit he’d called for, but then decided to further his political career and make decisions about Florida’s children over a bottle of an alcoholic beverage and dinner
on a Thursday evening with “The Machine” and its allies, Chair of the State Board of Education Gary Chartrand, and Republican Rep John Thrasher.

Most recently, Governor Rick Scott issued an Executive Order to withdraw from PARCC and resign from being the lead state. http://www.fldoe.org/news/2013/2013_09_23-2.asp?style=print

He also stated he would hold three district hearings to give parents and experts opportunities to voice their concerns on specific standards within Common Core. Great move on the Governor’s part, but the response from all of us was that this is just smoke and mirrors. Scott was only trying to pacify us, the parents, while still keeping “The Machine” happy.

When will this man stand on his own two feet? Even more disturbing is in the last few days our Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has come out and said that even though the hearings will be held, it will not change any outcome continuing with the implementation of Common Core.

REALLY! That just goes to prove it is all smoke and mirrors.

Everywhere we turn this white elephant shows up uninvited! There are little worker bees “The Machine” spreads throughout the state to try and shut us down. They make it their life each day to seek out moms like me and try to prove that we are misinformed about Common Core and how Florida needs higher standards and accountability from our children and teachers.

ACCOUNTABILITY!? Who is holding “The Machine” accountable?

Who is holding the NGA and CCSSO accountable? Let’s not forget ACHIEVE!

All these groups want accountability from our children but I demand accountability from them and what they believe to be best for my children. They have nothing better to do than come after moms and dads like me and call us misinformed! Only my husband and I, the true authorities, know what is best for our children.

“The Machine” has even promoted radio ads to be played boasting the standards on how they will give our children higher learning. The group “Conservatives For Higher Standards” was also involved with making and promoting the ad. We know those two have close ties to each other. The ad also touts making getting into college a fair playing field, no rote memorization, helping kids learn more, and states can opt in or our of the standards along with the lie that there are no DC mandates.

We are working on a counter ad to make sure our voices are right with theirs, and we are not backing down.

We are going to call their lies out.

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debbie higginbotham

Debbie Higginbotham is a mighty but tiny, very adorable, very-pregnant-with-her-seventh-child, mother and fredom fighter, who currently homeschools all but her oldest child.

She can be reached via Florida Parents Against Common Core. (www.flparentsagainstcommoncore.com)

Thank you, Debbie.

Video: Professor Nick Tampio Speaks on Outrages of Common Core – HuffPostLive   7 comments

Fast forward to minute 9 where Professor Nick Tampio of Fordham University speaks, in this video segment from HuffPost Live entitled “Race to the FLOP”:

“I moved into my school district because it has small classes, very well educated teachers… Each year they put out a pamphlet showing where the graduates go to school… 95 out of 100 are going to good schools, some are going to the very best in the country.

Our school district was not broken.

In 2012 we got this incredible, radical shift across the curricula… I just got my son’s homework last night. It’s a MacMillan McGraw Hill which I just learned is a subsidiary of Pearson. And it’s just this incredibly rote –I just think it’s way beneath– where a lot of children are. And what’s very frustrating to me is that I can’t have a meaningful discussion with my son’s teacher or the principal or the superintendent because it’s not our call anymore.

I have this letter from 2010 signed by David Patterson saying we’re committed to Race to the Top. There was no public debate beforehand. There was no legislative debate. Now, as a parent, I’m voiceless in my school district.

I just think that’s outrageous.”

Hear more from Professor Nick Tampio about Common Core on this radio interview from Pacifica News:

Meetings in Logan, Heber, and Manti This Week – and How to Study If You Can’t Attend   2 comments

The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.

— LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey

— HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan

— MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey

The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.

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A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:

The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The Race to the Top Grant Application– Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can, however, opt out of Common Core tests.)

The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that it states that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.

The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.

The testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors who have testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.

Follow the money trails – See what Bill Gates has paid for, and see how Common Core is a money-making monopoly that circumvents voters via public-private partnerships.

Video: Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy Speak in New York   1 comment

Utah Moms Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, the two whose 2012 presentation was my first introduction to Common Core, spoke this week at the Stop Common Core Forum in West Harrison, New York.

Here’s what they said. Please watch and share.

Missouri School District Passes STOP COMMON CORE Resolution   4 comments

East Newton School District in Missouri needs a standing ovation. The resolution posted below has passed, according to the Missouri Education Watchdog.

The school board officially recognizes that Common Core is: “designed to manipulate states and facilitate unconstitutional federal overreach to standardize and control the education of our children for the purposes of workforce planning.” Well put.

Here’s the whole resolution:

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This RESOLUTION was made and adopted by the Board of Education of the School District of East Newton, R- 6, on the date set forth after the signature of each of the board members set forth below.

1. CCSSI was never approved by Congress, but was embedded in the “four assurances” that the U.S. Department of Education required of governors to apply for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Race to the Top grants financed by the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
2. CCSSI was never evaluated by Missouri State Legislators; the people’s representatives were bypassed.
3. CCSSI was presented as an enticement for “Race to the Top” funds and the waiver of “No Child Left Behind.” Because “No Child Left Behind” saddled school districts with the unrealistic requirement that 100% of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014, a waiver was a must to avoid loss of accreditation.
4. CCSSI are copyrighted to non-government trade organizations. We have concerns regarding access to additional information and the cost of such information.
5. Individual school districts are committed to paying unknown costs associated with implementing Common Core assessment plans, and purchase of materials, of which tax payers and their elected representatives never had any input. This would imply taxation without representation.
6. There is an apparent conflict of interest by our Governor who sat on the Board of Directors of the National Governors Association in 2010, which holds the copyright to the CCSSI English and math standards when the standards were developed. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Achieve Inc. which holds the copyright to the Next Generation Science Standards.
7. CCSSI, which is an integral component of a U.S. Department of Education plan to collect a large amount of data collection on students as well as teachers, could lead to unauthorized sale or sharing of personal data to commercial sources. Although, it has not presented a problem to date, MO has no formal restrictions on DESE from populating data systems designed according to the National Data Model of over 400 data points including non-education related information such as religion, voting history, biometric data, etc.
8. The Department of Education Organizational Act of 1979, the General Education Provision Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that was reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind of 2001 each prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from involvement in developing, supervising, or controlling instructional materials or curriculum (Federal Law 20 USC 1232a-Sec. 1232a. and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 US.C. ch. 70), CCSSI and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment tests coming in 2014 were funded, incentivized, and will be controlled under the memorandum of agreement with the Federal Department of Education. This seems to be an overreach of the Federal Government into the state’s educational system.
9. There is no evidence that DESE complied with Missouri State Statute 160.526 2. prior to administration of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium pilot tests. The statute states,

The state board of education shall, by contract enlist the assistance of such national experts, as approved by the commission established pursuant to section 160.510, to receive reports, advice and counsel on a regular basis pertaining to the validity and reliability of the statewide assessment system. The reports from such experts shall be received by the commission, which shall make a final determination concerning the reliability and validity of the statewide assessment system. Within six months prior to implementation of
the statewide assessment system, the commissioner of education shall inform the president pro tempore of the senate and the speaker of the house about the procedures to implement the assessment system, including a report related to the reliability and validity of the assessment instruments, and the general assembly may, within the next sixty legislative days, veto such implementation by concurrent resolution adopted by majority vote of both the senate and the house of representatives.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE EAST NEWTON R6 SCHOOL DISTRICT

1. Recognizes the CCSS for what it is – a component of the four assurances that are designed to manipulate states and facilitate unconstitutional federal overreach to standardize and control the education of our children for the purposes of workforce planning, agreed to by Governor Nixon outside of due process while on the Board of Directors of the National Governors Association,
2. Recognizes that, as per Missouri Revised Statute 160.514 of the Missouri Outstanding School Act, curriculum frameworks adopted by the state board of education may be used by school districts, and we have great concerns regarding the adoption of the Missouri Core Standards/Common Core State Standards curricular framework for the East Newton School District,
3. Recognizes that, as per Missouri Revised Statute 160.514 of the same Act, the state board of education shall develop a statewide assessment system that provides maximum flexibility for local school districts to determine the degree to which students in the public schools of the state are proficient in the knowledge, skills, and competencies adopted by such board, and we exercise our right to insist on that flexibility. We have great concerns in participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessments,
4. Rejects the collection of student assessment data outside of the limits specified in Missouri Revised Statute 160.518; and rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state,
5. Insists that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) shall adopt academic standards and a statewide assessment system as required by Missouri Revised Statute 160.526 of the same Act, that is, as approved by the legislature,
6. Insists that any amending of Missouri’s Learning standards must be done through a transparent public rulemaking process that allows Missouri’s people ample time and opportunity to review proposed changes and provide feedback. Specifically, the DESE shall ensure that any amendment to the Learning Results be posted for public review and comment for at least 60 days. Any comments received during this notice period shall be made public prior to final adoption of any changes.
7. Calls on the Governor and the Missouri State Board of Education to re-evaluate Missouri’s participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and asks the Missouri State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with Common Core State Standards Initiative/Missouri’s Core and any other alliance that promotes standards and assessments aligned to them until such re-evaluation can be completed.

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor and the State Legislature for executive and legislative action.

This resolution was adopted by the Board of Education School District of East Newton, R-6.

East Newton
22808 East Highway 86
Granby, Missouri 64844

Bergen County, New Jersey: Resolution to Stop Common Core   3 comments

Bergen County, NJ has put together a resolution against Common Core stanards and tests.

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Resolution in Opposition to Common Core Standards and Assessments
Adopted by Both Democrats and Republicans
Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders
September 17, 2013
(The text of the Resolution is copied below these comments.)

With sincere and heartfelt appreciation, please join me in thanking all of our Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their unanimous vote earlier tonight opposing Common Core Standards and Assessments, and, in particular, Vice-Chairwoman Joan Voss (D) and Freeholder John Mitchell (R) who jointly sponsored and actively lobbied for this important Resolution! Had you been there to hear all their wonderful comments, (and I hope to share the entirety with you soon as such must be circulated – not only in New Jersey – but across the USA), you would have been as overwhelmed as I with thankfulness for their passion, understanding, and commitment to the wise education of our children. Further, the date of this passage is significant: on September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was adopted. The very wording of this Resolution honors that as Common Core violates Constitutional law by granting the United States power that the Constitution reserves for the States and we the people.

It has been my extraordinary privilege to appear before this august body on several occasions sharing a multitude of information concerning the topic of this Resolution. In each appearance, I have experienced their utmost respect, sincere concern, and obvious careful examination of all presented. It is impressive to note that members of both Parties came together, in unanimity, to oppose this unconstitutional, expensive takeover and dumbing down of the education of children.

Joining me tonight to express our appreciation was Kim Barron and Susan Winton. Kim’s son, Jordan, a student in 8th grade, was our *star* witness! He spoke with ease, experience, and excellence regarding why he opposes Common Core. He had also been our *star* when he testified before the New Jersey State Board of Education and at a “Stop Common Core” press conference this month in Trenton with Kim, Nora Brower, Barbara and Bill Eames, Jan Lenox, Michelle Mellon, and Roseann Salanitri.

Please thank the Freeholders:
David L. Ganz, Freeholder Chairman, 201-336-6280
Joan M. Voss, Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman, 201-336-6279 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John D. Mitchell, Freeholder, 201-336-6277 (Sponsor of Resolution)
John A. Felice, Freeholder, 201-336-6275
Maura DeNicola, Freeholder, 201-336-6276
Steven A. Tanelli, Freeholder, 201-336-6278
Tracy Silna Zur, Freeholder, 201-336-6281
http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/FormCenter/Freeholder-3/Contact-a-Freeholder-34

BERGEN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS RESOLUTION
IN OPPOSITION OF
COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

WHEREAS, the Board of Chosen Freeholders believes that the Common Core State Standards initiative is not representative of Bergen County’s residents but rather developed by non-governmental organizations and unelected boards outside of Bergen County.

WHEREAS, the Common Core is financed by private foundation funds and is therefore influenced by private interest and not representative of our voters.

WHEREAS, the Common Core violates privacy laws by requiring storage and sharing of private student and family data without individuals consent.

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Education Association urges the State to “slow down a headlong rush to over-rely on student test scores to evaluate teachers in New Jersey”.

WHEREAS, the Common Core has been repudiated by both Republicans and Democrats and it has been stated that curriculum reform should be done at the state level.

WHEREAS, the Common Core violates Constitutional and Federal Law by granting the United States powers which the Constitution reserves for the States, or to the people.

WHEREAS, the New Jersey General Assembly and New Jersey Senate have introduced legislation to further investigate the principals of The Common Core Initiative, and that The Bergen Board of Chosen Freeholders fully supports the passage of *A4197 and *S2973.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders opposes The Common Core Initiative; asks Congress and the Administration to withdraw support and discontinue funding The Common Core Standards Initiative.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution shall be delivered to Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Jeffrey Chiesa, Governor Chris Christie, Congressman William Pascrell, Congressman Albio Sires, Congressman Scott Garrett, and the entire State Legislative Delegation from Bergen County.

*http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/S3000/2973_I1.HTM
*http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A4500/4197_I1.HTM

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A Republic of Republics: Robert Scott on Common Core   7 comments

Robert Scott is the former Texas Commissioner of Education and the man responsible for the heroic “No Thanks” that Texas gave to Common Core, back when virtually every other state was swallowing that pill for a shot at the Race to the Top millions.

This week, Pioneer Institute has published a white paper by Robert Scott that explains why preserving the local control guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution demands stopping funding for Common Core. It is called “A Republic of Republics: How Common Core Undermines State and Local Autonomy over K-12 Education“.

Its summary states:

“… the United States has witnessed a sweeping effort to dramatically alter how educational systems are governed and standards and curricula are developed. … the federal government has succeeded in fundamentally altering the relationships between Washington and the states… participating states have ceded their autonomy to design and oversee the implementation of their own standards and tests. The implications of ceding this autonomy are varied. Not only do some states risk sacrificing high quality standards for national standards that may be less rigorous, all states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn…”

That last line is the hardest punch in the gut to any of us, from Common Core: “All states are sacrificing their ability to inform what students learn.”

We may see great damages from Common Core’s confusing math, limitation of classic literature, discouraged cursive, or creation of a monopoly on thought throughout the textbook publishing industry. And yes, all these things are bad.

But the real and incomparable tragedy is the loss of control, and the twin fact that those who have lost it refuse to admit it’s gone.

This is why Robert Scott’s paper is so important. It helps expose the lie that the general public has been led to believe. That lie is everywhere; just look around you. All over countless official school board websites in various states who have fallen victim to Common Core, you see the same thing: a claim that local control remains in place, under Common Core.

But as Robert Scott explains, Common Core is a control grab by the federal government partnering with private groups, circumventing We, The People:

“… my original response to the effort was one of “wait and see.” If something truly remarkable came out of such a process, it would be foolish for Texas not to incorporate it into our curriculum frameworks. Unfortunately, that was not the offer. Once we were told that states had to adopt the so-called Common Core State Standards in English and math with only a marginal opportunity for differentiation, it was clear that this was not about collaboration among the states. It was about control by the federal government and a few national organizations who believe they will be the ones to operate this new machinery.”

I have to comment. Those “few national organizations” that Mr. Scott referred to include two big-boys’ clubs that I can not stomach: the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) . Its members are not elected by the public, and they’re under no sunshine laws for accountability or transparency to taxpayers.

They work under the radar. The un-transparent and private groups have no authority to be setting state or national educational standards, yet they do it anyway. They are even the basis upon which Arne Duncan labels Common Core a “state-led” movement.

These groups happen to include many (but not all) governors and superintendents. These groups form the backbone of Common Core governance and exclude all states from any amendment process to the shared standards. These groups solely developed and copyrighted the standards –by their own claim. And they were funded, by the multi-millions by Bill Gates, another influence we can’t un-elect. These groups represent a big part of the problem: public-private-partnerships (P3) totally circumvent local authority and voter’s voices. And they run contrary to the spirit of Constitutional respect for local control. Who voted them in? Nobody. Yet they birthed Common Core which has almost entirely taken over American schooling and testing.

This “new” governance system is a direction we have to turn around from or risk losing all local autonomy.

Robert Scott writes: “…if we continue down the current path to national education standards and tests, the United States stands to lose that which makes our education system unique among nations: our long tradition of state and local autonomy. It is important to remember that American schools were established in towns and cities by parents and community members who saw the value of formal education. This organic approach ultimately led to a system of compulsory education overseen by each state, but until now, the tradition of local schooling has largely been maintained. American public schools are governed by local school boards and committees comprised of parents and community members. Even at the state level, citizens with an understanding of local norms and interests drive decision-making processes around standards and curricula. These facts beg the question: If we nationalize standards and testing in this country, what is the real impact of the likely loss of state and local autonomy and input?”

Please read the rest.

Democrats and Republicans Agree: Please Listen. Stop Funding Common Core.   5 comments

It’s interesting to see such striking similarities in what Republicans and Democrats are saying about the need to stop Common Core by not funding it, and by returning the money to legitimate and local education.

These Democrats and Republicans who have done their homework (and who are not funded by the Gates-Common Core machine as most Common Core advocates are) agree: because Common Core ends local control and liberty, Americans have to stop feeding the standardization-of-education beast and must start funding legitimate, classical education.

The buck stops (isn’t this an ironic sentence?) –with funding.

Compare what both Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and what activist Paul Horton, an Illinois Democrat and current high school history teacher, have vocally (and repeatedly) said.

From Sen. Grassley:

I seek to eliminate further U.S. Department of Education interference with state decisions on academic content standards by using Congress’s power of the purse to prohibit any further federal funds being used to advance any particular set of academic content standards. Whether states adopt or reject the Common Core Standards should be between the citizens of each state and their state elected officials. State governments must be able to make that decision, or to change their decision, based on direct accountability to the citizens of their states, free from any federal coercion.”

Meanwhile, from Paul Horton*, a Democratic high school history teacher (who wrote to his Senator, Richard Durbin (Democrat from Illinois):

“Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB [No Child Left Behind], RTTT [Race to the Top], and I don’t want Mr. [U.S. Education Secretary Arne] Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!”

In Michigan, Common Core has already been defunded. And other states are working hard to follow suit.

*Paul Horton’s full letter is posted below:

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Dear Senator Durbin,

Please listen more closely……

RTTT will not reduce achievement gaps. No research supports RTTT on this matter. The only thing that will reduce the achievement gaps id full employment,
livable wages, and more investment in neighborhood schools to supply support staff, clinics, and four well qualified teachers in every classroom of no more than twenty-two students. We need to pursue policies that attract the best people that we can into the classroom like Finland. It should be an honor to be a teacher because it is an honorable profession.

This administration has chosen to vilify teachers. Most credible studies show that we have 3% of teachers nationally that are ineffective, but current punitive policies discourage most from considering the profession. This party has turned its back on a very loyal, well educated, and hardworking constituency. If you continue these policies, you no longer deserve the support of teachers.

I strongly encourage you to look to what Singapore, Finland, and China are doing, which is quite the opposite of RTTT.

Our current policies are a boondoggle for Pearson Education, Microsoft, and Achieve, etc. You simply must see through the smoke! Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan are following the precepts of Democrats for Education Reform. The Wall Street bundlers who have supported RTTT and private charters are acting under a quid pro quo deal made between them and those in the current administration who decided to choose Mr. Duncan over Ms. Darling-Hammond. The trade-off is money for national Democratic campaigns in exchange for policies that will lead to more school privatization. This is becoming increasingly obvious to more citizens.

Shame on this party!

What is happening is absurdly crass. The money that will go to Illinois testing for the RTTT will not stimulate the economy of Illinois. We are talking about an estimated $733 million dollars. Why should this money go to Pearson Education?

Pearson Education produces shoddy product, look at their record. We may as well be flushing taxpayer’s money down the toilet.

You know people who are very close to the Joyce Foundation that has fed the Chicago Tribune misinformation.

The DOJ Anti-Trust Division needs to investigate Pearson Education. I attach a complaint to the Federal DA that has been circulating among thousands of citizens in Northern Illinois. The Education Secretary is in clear violation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and this administration
is doing its best to protect him by not allowing him to respond to specific questions.

Mr. Durbin, I encourage you to completely kill funding for NCLB, RTTT, and I don’t want Mr. Duncan to have a penny to spend because he and this administration’s policies are hopelessly misguided. All remaining Stimulus monies should be divided by your committee among the most underserved
districts all over the country to rehire support and teaching staff. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education or any other Education vendor, or on spending
for any standardized tests. Standardized tests will never close the achievement gap! Wake up!

You have recently voiced much concern about gun violence in Chicago. Senator Durbin, consider the effect o the failure of 70% (RTTT Pearson Education
developed tests) of the students on the South and West sides. The citizens of New York state are currently experiencing this immoral fiasco. What will happen
to the dropout rate when this happens? We will not be preparing students for college, we will be preparing them for prison. I live in Woodlawn, and the young
people already say school is increasingly like prison. Wake up!

Invest remaining education funds in people, not corporations, and not in standardized testing. I thought that the Democratic Party was supposed to listen
to the people. More and more people are beginning to see through Mr. Duncan’s blatant misrepresentations.

We need education that serves kids, not the plutocrats this party is in bed with.

All the best and remember the working people,

Paul Horton
1364 E. 64th #1
Chicago, Il. 60637

Opt Out Form And Miracles   5 comments

Utahns Against Common Core posted an opt-out form today that anyone may use to inform a school district that a child will not be participating in the Common Core testing and data collection program. Find it here.

In addition, Utahns Against Common Core posted a video clip from a new movie featuring the President of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It is called “Miracles.”

The video was posted with the opt out form because it will be a long-sought for miracle when parents take the reins of their children’s educational lives and say “no” to Common Core’s totally experimental testing and data collection program.

It will be a miracle when state boards of education and legislatures realize that “We the People” have actually woken up and stood up to their top down control efforts; that we will not allow the invasion of our children’s privacy– not by state nor by federal forces; and that we will not allow the invasion of our state’s sovereignty over education. They will hear that we will have a voice in what goes on in our children’s testing.

It will be a miracle to see parents take a stand in their rightful place as primary protectors of local control, a right that we hold under Constitution.

Why is it so important? Because testing Common Core’s standards is the key to the whole Common Core agenda. That’s where the control lies. The tests sets the pace for Common Core’s monopoly on text types to be bought, on stifling innovation in any other direction, on aligning private curricula nationally, on controlling teachers’ use of instructional time, and on tracking children and teachers.

Parents hold the key to that key. Teachers or principals can’t do it; they’ll lose their jobs.

But parents saying no to the Common Core tests can become the force that ends the unconstitutional losses of Common Core’s centralized decision-making and data-collection in D.C.’s agencies and organizations.

Remember that no matter how many times the state school board says “adopting Common Core as Utah’s own “Utah Core” standards was the board’s constitutional right under the Utah constitution” –still, the effect of that decision– robbing our state of local control of education– was wrong under the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law which have long made educational decision making a state’s right.

Remember the words of James Madison:

“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads, other than post roads. In short, everything,from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called if Congress pleased provisions for the general welfare … I venture to declare it as my opinion, that were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundation, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America…” – James Madison

In short, Madison said: if we allow the centralization of education we subvert the very foundation of what has made us free.

While my own school has promised that there will be no academic punishment for my public school attending child who opts out of the Common Core test, I have received emails from parents in other areas of Utah where the opposite was said. These parents were told that their child would receive a non-proficient score and would be academically penalized for opting out of the test.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether fear of getting an undeserved failing grade outweighs our desire to preserve local control of education, a constitutional right. That is a personal decision.

I opt out.

Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina Have Local Control –but Utah Does Not?   Leave a comment

According to an article at EagNews.org, some states have true local control and some do not. Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina have local control; Utah does not.

The article explains:

MADISON, Wis. – If you live in a “local control” state in terms of public education – and chances are you do – here is some enlightening news.

Your local school board probably has the legal right to remove your school district from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts around the nation by state education officials.

It’s true in my home state of Wisconsin, and it’s been confirmed by state education officials in Ohio and North Carolina.

Legislators and (state education departments) have, in my opinion, kept this information very close to the vest. That is deceit of the ugliest kind.

I contacted the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and asked the following question: If a school district decides to reject Common Core standards and replace them with a superior set of standards, will that school district still receive state and/or federal funds?

I received the following response from Emilie Amundsen, director of the Common Core State Standards Team at DPI:

Yes. In Wisconsin, each school board has the statutory authority to adopt the state standards or any other set of standards, inferior or superior. This is called local control. When applied to schools, local control means that decisions about standards, curriculum and instruction are made at the local level. School districts must have standards. The type, quality and scope of those standards are left to local school boards to decide. This has always been the case in Wisconsin, and this has not changed as a result of Wisconsin adopting Common Core state standards.”

The staff at EAGnews is trying to contact education officials in numerous states, to determine if their districts also have the right to opt out of Common Core.

So far only three states have responded. Officials in North Carolina and Ohio have acknowledged that districts are free to dump Common Core, but caution that students in those districts may struggle with mandatory state tests, which will be aligned with Common Core.

Officials in Utah say local districts do not have the power to drop out of Common Core…

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(I always thought Utah was the land of the free.)

Read the rest of the article here: http://eagnews.org/school-districts-in-local-control-states-like-wisconsin-can-dump-common-core-standards-without-financial-penalties/

Video: Dr. Terrence Moore Testifies Against Common Core Readings and the Lack of Local Control   8 comments

Dr. Terrence Moore, professor of history at Hillsdale College, testified last month to the Indiana legislature. This is the video of his short, (ten minute) excellent testimony.

He describes in detail what Common Core robs from students, as it cuts classic literature and dramatically cuts the heart away from readings including the U.S. Constitution and Tom Sawyer. He describes the truncation that will happen to classic works of literature in favor of informational texts in new Common Core aligned ELA anthologies. He describes how Common Core robs charter schools of parental control with the piercing question, “Are you Common Core compliant?” He also describes how Common Core testing makes teachers and charters servile to the Common Core.

He also says:

The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”

That’s the real issue. Whether politicians, teachers or school board members like it today is actually, totally irrelevant. Don’t ask them if they like Common Core; ask them if they know that it can change at any time, but they don’t get a vote or a voice in what happens to it. Ever.

Thank you, Dr. Moore.

ABC Channel 4 and Deseret News: On Praying for Freedom from Common Core   4 comments

praying family

Reporters from both the Deseret News and ABC Channel 4 t.v. surprised me last week by asking for interviews –on the subject of prayer, which I’d written about a few days earlier. I was really, really surprised to learn that praying is perceived as news. Or, at least, asking people to pray is perceived as news.

There is so much that is extremely damaging, and therefore extremely newsworthy about the Common Core Initiative– so much that is anti-intellectual, anti-parent, anti-teacher, anti-local-control. The reporters didn’t ask about any of that. They wanted to talk about the prayers my friends and blogpost-readers are praying to escape the Common Core by a miracle. That praying was their news. All I can say is that many of us are grateful to Ben Woods and Brian Carlson, the reporters, for shedding light on the subject, and I do consider the fact that they reported on this, part of the answer to many fervent prayers.

Because many people do care and do pray, others are becoming more aware every day that Common Core hurts: it hurts academics, hurts students and teachers, hurts privacy rights, hurts parental rights, hurts local control, hurts state sovereignty, hurts freedom. Even Fox news is helping; big surprise! I saw a poll today on Fox, asking millions of readers whether they are for or against Common Core. At the time that I voted in the poll, 57% said they were against Common Core. I hope you take that poll. It’s another blessing, right there.

So, here are the links to what the Deseret News and ABC 4 had to say about the fact that we are praying.

Links:

The Deseret News article is here.

The ABC Channel 4 news report (text version) is here.

The ABC Channel 4 (t.v. version) of that same report is here, but you have to first watch the video of the school grading report (which is very important also) and then after that report and an ad, then comes the report on the request for prayers.

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… I just can’t help but wonder when the media will report about the enormously newsworthy things –terrible things that folks don’t know, but should know.

I hope to see many news reports about:

SLDS — The fact that parents have no rights over, and no ability to opt their children out of, the current school-originated, federally paid for, federally interoperable, citizen surveillance program known as States’ Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that follows people from the time they’re tiny children until at least adulthood without their consent –or even their knowledge. That’s huge, considering all the scandals on the federal stage right now: (Ed Snowden exposing the unconstitutional activities of the federal government spying on the innocent; the IRS using data to favor and disfavor certain people and organizations without the right to do so; the FBI being sued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); the Department of Education also being sued by EPIC for similar violations to human privacy; etc. etc.) But people don’t know it’s real. And they can’t protect their kids if they don’t know what’s going on.

EXPERIMENT ON KIDS — The fact that Common Core standards are an experiment on our children. They lack any empirical studies or proof that they can do anything they claim/hope to do. They have been condemned by the main English Language Arts validation member, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and have been condemned by the main mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram. They are an academic step down for many states.

EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION — The fact that Common Core ends local control. The standards are under private copyright by two unaccountable, unelected private groups that are a national superintendents’ club (CCSSO) and a national governors’ club (NGA). Not all superintendents or governors belong. No voter can affect what they do. The federal government put a shackle over that copyright when it mandated that no state may add more than 15% to the common standards.

CORPORATE MONOPOLY ON THOUGHT — The fact that Bill Gates, Pearson and other corporate interests are circumventing the American voter in educational decision making and privacy controls, decisions that negatively affect children. The fact that corporate “alignment” of new technologies, curricula, books and educational products to the very same standards that Gates bankrolled, is conflict of interest and creates a monopoly on anything having to do with education, and limits innovative thought nationwide.

PARENTS HAVE NO VOICE — Example: Common Core recommends that its students read literature of pedophilia (The Bluest Eye) it will be on high school reading lists (Lehi High School) and will be read by Utah students, even if the state school board has not technically recommended it. Why? Because the board adopted Common Core. And teachers are under pressure to have their students perform well on high stakes tests that are aligned to Common Core. Governance is confused; D.C. groups end up calling the shots for Utah students, under Common Core. Parents are totally left out of the discussion of what children should read.

CONSTITUTIONALITY — The fact that G.E.P.A. law and the U.S. Constitution have been broken by the Department of Education’s foray into state educational business. Also, federal privacy law (FERPA) has been shredded by the Department of Education. Although the Department of Education has rightly been sued, they’ll most likely get away with it because WHO IS CHECKING UP ON THEM? Not congress. Not state departments of education. Not the media. Just parents like you and me. We The People.

NO DISSENT ALLOWED — The Common Core tests can’t be seen by parents. Also, the Utah State School Board appointing/electing process includes taking a questionnaire that asks (First question) Do you support the Utah Core? (Remember, Utah Core = Common Core for all English and Math classes, K-12) So nobody who dissents can run for the incredibly powerful and important office of state school board member.

I hope many of you will write letters to the editor, opinion editorials, or email your legislators and school board representatives to make your voices heard. This is still America. And we are the people. We, the voters and taxpayers –and yes, the pray-ers– are the real bosses of this great country. Make your voice count.

The Federal Fist: No Formula Funding if States Reject Common Core   6 comments

First, the federal government forces Americans to choose between giving our hard-earned educational tax dollars to them –or going to jail. Next, they promise to give back some of that money –so we can stretch it tightly across our educational budgets– after the feds pay themselves most of it.

So far, so bad.

Then, the feds threaten that they will withhold even that little bit of our money if we don’t merrily skip to the illegitimate tune of Common Core.

Do the fact check.

The Department of Education in the Department’s Blueprint for Reform uses these sweet sounding words: “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career…” Nice. (Note to self: whenever the government says something deafeningly obvious, to which nobody could raise any argument, beware: watch what the other hand is doing.)

And meanwhile– the Department slyly alters and sets in stone the new definition of what it will mean in their documents and funding formulas to be “ready for college and career.”

See their official definition:

College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.

(As far as I know, there is no state that has chosen to use option #2– which is using higher ed to certify that state standards are college and career ready.)

So, college and career ready standards MUST BE COMMON to a significant number of states?

Why? On whose authority? Since when is “everybody’s doing it” a legitimate reason to jump off a cliff?

What if every state in the USA had lousy standards and yours alone had good ones? (Hello, Massachusetts!)

What if your state defined college and career readiness in a completely different way than “a significant number of states” defined it? Why the choke-collar? Why the peer pressure? If Common Core is so great, why the need for federal bullying?

Is bullying too strong a word? Read on.

Back in 2011, the Department of Education was already promising to punish those who push back against Common Core, saying:

“Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”

So if your state refused to administer a common core aligned test, you’d lose federal dollars.

Is this why the Utah State School Board refuses to hear us when we point out endless evidence that we must reject Common Core? We point out endlessly that these standards are sub-par, that they’re an experiment on children, that they set up a data surveillance web on citizens without their consent; that the standards rob students of most of the classic literature their parents read in high school, that they put students at least two years behind international competitors by seventh grade in math (according to Dr. James Milgram, official member of the Common Core validation committee, who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards) –and more.

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Other Thoughts On Funding Schools

— I am done with my post. But I have more to say.

Even if money is the reason the USSB/USOE won’t say no to federal mandates, it still doesn’t make sense to me.

By far, the largest piece of the school funding pie is paid by LOCAL property taxes. The next largest piece is paid by STATE funds. The puniest piece of our school funding pie is paid using federal money.

Why are our state leaders not standing up to the federal demands with a clear “N” “O” when these federal demands clearly go against our best interests? Why do we let the federal govermment dictate education locally, when they hold neither the constitutional nor the actual funding authority over us? Why?

When I ask questions of our state superintendent, state school board, and the Utah State Office of Education, I feel like I’m yelling into a dark and endless pit where only my own voice echoes back to me. Is anybody at the wheel? Is anybody at the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board doing any kind of homework on this subject?

How do parents and taxpayers feel about the fact that so much of our educational spending is diverted away from students and teachers, back to the ever-growing State Office of Education, the State School Board, and countless administrators and their support staff– rather than being spent purchasing actual school supplies and activities for students or for salaries for much-needed teachers and aides? (Needed school aides and other staff have been let go or not rehired locally –because of tough budgetary concerns. Why is the budget so tight? Hint: it’s not the legislature’s fault.)

Statewide, we have administrators and superintendents pulling in very fat paychecks. Administrative departments, paid advisory boards, paid research committees, and other wastes of money within the Federal, State and Local Offices of Education grow and grow, using our tax dollars, misapplied tax dollars.

And still, teachers and parents are ground to financial shreds.

Teachers have to purchase virtually everything for the classroom –except the textbooks and desks– out of their own paychecks. I know; I’ve done it for years.

Parents are told that they must purchase virtually everything for their students –despite having previously paid via property taxes for the privilege of attending public school (there are now locker rental fees, textbook rental fees despite having virtually no textbooks, class membership fees, planner fees, sporting fees, and on and on and on; I’m taking this list from my high school students’s actual fee paperwork from Wasatch High School, a fee list which totals almost $400 this year. That doesn’t even begin to count the fact that I have to purchase sport uniforms, musical instruments, and other participation fees and supplies. Nor does it count the fact that my child has to go door to door, selling things to neighbors to make more money for sport participation– or get dropped from the team.) This would be okay if it was a private school. But it’s a supposedly tax-funded public school.

Something isn’t as wrong with not having enough educational funding; something’s definitely wrong with how that funding is being mis-applied both locally and on the state and federal levels.

Is anybody fighting for proper use of taxpayer monies in educational decision-making?

Governor Herbert promised us in a face to face meeting that he’d do an independent cost analysis of Common Core. That was 1.5 years ago. He has not kept his word.

And what would ever motivate the USSB or USOE to analyze its spending? Not gonna happen. They’ll cry to the legislature that they’re underfunded, but they won’t assess how they’re spending what they already have.

Educational government spending has become a self-serving, messy, messy, messy mess.

Rally Tomorrow: School Grading Bill is Interconnected with Common Core Tests   1 comment

Tomorrow, Sept. 3rd, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a rally. It’s not directly about Common Core. But it’s about an issue very, very closely related: school grading. And what makes this one interesting is that it’s not parents, but the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) that’s heading the rally. The USBA may even be surprised to see that many Utahns Against Common Core members will be there to support their rally. (I can’t go; I will be teaching at that time, but I’m there in spirit.)

Wendy Hart, a school board member in Alpine school district, has written an article that explains how school grading and common core are intertwined and must be opposed. I highly recommend it. She says, “School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?” (Read the rest.)

I think people get stuck on the misused word “accountability” which is often used as if it is always a good thing. But accountability’s obviously dependent on who is accountable to whom. People who don’t have authority to ask for an accounting, shouldn’t be given any accounting. It’s wrong. And it leads to abuse of power.

Should teachers and principals be accountable to the parents of the children they serve? Yes.

But should they be accountable to the long list of so-called “stakeholders” who have no authority over them under the Constitution, GEPA law, or common sense? No.

Should they be accountable to Common Core’s creators or testing agents, including the nonelected clubs of superintendents (CCSSO) and governors (NGA) and the AIR testing group, groups which now hold power over what will be on Utah’s standardized, nationally common test, to be nationally used as an accountability measuring stick? No!

And that’s why I oppose these Utah bills touting school grading. It’s accountability to the wrong groups, groups who are far removed from those who actually care.

Details of this Stop School Grading rally: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings).

Parents and others from Utahns Against Common Core have been encouraged to bring signs saying “No School Grading tied to Common Core Tests.”

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Wendy Hart has given her permission to repost her entire article here. Thanks, Wendy.

Friday, August 30, 2013

No Man Can Serve Two Masters: School Grading/Accountability

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. (Matthew 6:24)

School Grading is touted as a way for parents to find out how well their school is doing. Obviously, we pay lip-service to parents being primarily responsible for their child’s education, but we have higher levels of masters who take that power away from parents. If the teachers, schools, and student are graded based on how well the student does on a test, then everything is dependent on that test. I believe all those involved in setting standards, assessments, and school grading in this state are intending to have the best outcomes available for children. However, it is important to stop and look at the principles behind these issues and what the end results most likely will be. Who is the master we will serve?

A prime case in point is the presentation we received as a Board on Aug. 13 about the new school grading and teacher evaluation programs. (A great overview can by found online, courtesy of the Alpine Parent Society.) These programs have been put into law by the legislature, but are also requirements of the Federal Waiver from No Child Left Behind. I could go into the mathematical flaws in the system, the necessary faith in the test creators, and the fact that testing drives what is taught in the classroom. However, the biggest issue I have is who will truly have the power to determine what our children learn. If you realize teacher evaluations, school grades and student grades are all tied to the Common Core tests, you realize whoever writes and grades those tests affects every aspect of education in this state. Say what you will about standards, the practical application of it will be in the tests.

Here’s an example. Some people have heard recently of the Toni Morrison book, The Bluest Eye. I have never read it, but the excerpts I’ve read put it, in my opinion, in the category of pornography. (You may disagree, but bear with me for the sake of the argument.) I have an acquaintance back East whose children have read this repeatedly in her private, Catholic school, not because the teachers and administrators agree with the book, but because selections from the book appear on the AP English test. In this case, the AP test determines what is taught in the classroom, even if it is completely contrary to the values and mission of a particular school.

Additionally, the federally-funded Common Core tests (SBAC and PARCC) are testing “process and communication skills over content knowledge”, according to one reviewer. Since our test-developer (AIR) is also developing the SBAC test, one wonders if our state tests will follow suit. If so, anyone who fails to teach the proper methodology, not just the facts, puts their students, their career, and their school in jeopardy. (An example of this from another state can be found here.) Testing is the way standards, curricula and teaching methods are enforced.

Joseph Stalin is supposed to have said, “It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.” Similarly, “He who makes the tests, controls the education.”

Parents can want certain things taught. Our laws and constitution can say how parents are primarily involved in their child’s education. We can speak till we’re blue in the face about how parents and local control of education is so important. But as soon as we tie everything to the grade on a test–a test parents have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over–we realize we have a different master. Instead, we must have complete faith in the test developers. Have they created a fair, accurate system of measuring what we, as parents, want? And if they do not, there is nothing we can do at a local level to change it.

We think an end-of-year test will be testing fact, knowledge, and information. However, the emphasis of Common Core and its testing is to test “higher-order thinking” over fact. Most parents want their kids to learn higher-order thinking. But what does higher-order thinking mean to the test developer? Benjamin Bloom, author of the well-respected Bloom’s Taxonomy (used extensively in education) defines it this way,”…a student attains ‘higher-order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong.” (Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, p. 185) This is completely inconsistent with my motto on education: Truth vanquishes darkness. You cannot serve two masters. Education cannot serve the parents if they don’t control the test. Higher-order thinking cannot lead to the discovery of truth if it also means no right or wrong. In the end, who is the master of education in Utah? The state tests, brought to you by American Institutes for Research. It’s not you, and it’s not me.

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About 50% of the time, I agree with the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) on legislation. This is one of those times. We may not agree for all the same reasons, but we agree on the end result. Last session, the legislature passed SB271 on school grading. This is an update of a school grading bill from 2011. In response to the 2011 law, the State Office of Ed developed a process for grading schools, called UCAS. UCAS is mathematically flawed and, like every accountability measure emanating from the state, will take local control away. SB271 is opposed by the USBA because, while they must have some sort of school grading to get the No Child Left Behind waiver, they prefer the UCAS grading system. I think we need to get rid of it all. However, I will be at the press conference/rally the USBA is holding in opposition to the current version of school grading, SB271, on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) office at 860 E. 9085 South (East on 90th South, just east of 700 East and the Canyons School District ATC buildings). I’d invite everyone who is opposed to the enforcement Common Core via testing, or to centralized control over education to attend.

Just remember, we can’t serve two masters. Until we reassert our rightful position, as masters of our children’s education, education in Utah will continue to be subject to a master set up by those who are willing to fill the void we have left.

–Wendy Hart, member, Alpine School Board

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OTHER STOP COMMON CORE EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Layton, Utah
Wednesday night, September 4th 7:00 pm
Common Core Informational Meeting
Speakers – Peter Cannon (Davis School District Board Member) and Pamela Smith (Eagle Forum)
Layton City Library – September 4, 2013
155 Wasatch Dr.

Cedar City, Utah
Saturday, September 7th, 7 pm
Speaker – Alisa Ellis – of Utahns Against Common Core
Crystal Inn (1575 W. 200 N. Cedar City, Utah)

Roy, Utah
Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 7:00 pm
Roy Library, Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core

Ogden, Utah
Tuesday September 24, 2013 @ 6:30pm
North Ogden Library
(475 E. 2600 N. North Ogden, Utah 84414)
Eagle Forum presentation on Common Core

The German Government Versus the Wunderlich Family   2 comments

The Wunderlich Family of Germany was attacked by their own government yesterday, as armed police stormed into their home and took away their four children.

There was no criminal charge of any kind– other than home-schooling.

This, in a so-called free nation? Although millions of children are home schooled legally in in many places, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Peru, Botswana, and so on, it is a sad fact that home school is now a punishable crime in Germany, Sweden, Beijing, and elsewhere.

And– while technically not illegal in the countries of France, Greece or Norway, it is extremely tightly –and sometimes cruelly– controlled by the governments there and elsewhere.

This nightmare treatment of the Wunderlich family, the Romeike family, the Himmelstrand family and others undermines the right for children to belong with and belong to their families, not to a government.

Our own President Obama said in his recent State of the Union address that he hopes the U.S. system will soon be more like Germany’s educational system. How can he admire it?

German educational-workforce tracking is efficient, sure. But it’s totally lacking in liberty; a heartless,worker-bee creating, human-dignity-sapping educational system.

By the way, Obama also derides private, religious schools, for being what he calls “divisive.”

Did we just get that right? The President of what is supposed to be the freest country on earth doesn’t approve of private or religious schools and likes the German example of education? So, does Obama approve of Germany’s actions against these families? His Attorney General Eric Holder sure does.

Would they approve of U.S. police taking away custody of the millions of U.S. children who are home schooled here, as well?

Considering the fact that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder kicked the Romeike family out of the USA, how far off are we from truly having to fight this fight?

Huge kudos to Congressman Marlin Stutzman of Indiana and the 26 additional members of Congress who recently signed a powerful letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying what needed to be said: “Americans don’t subscribe to the European notion that children belong to the community or the state—they belong to their parents.” The letter also said:

Dear Attorney General Holder,

We respectfully ask that, as the chief law enforcement officer of a nation founded as a safe haven for those who seek liberty, you grant asylum to the Romeike family who fled to the United States in 2008 after suffering persecution from the German government as a result of their decision to homeschool their children.


A decision to deny the Romeikes the opportunity to educate their children freely is a decision to abandon our commitment to freedom.
Doing so would put America alongside those countries that believe children belong to the community or state. A country founded on freedom should stand for the fact that they belong to their parents.

Read the rest here.

Maine Hosts Stop Common Core Rally and Press Conference This Wednesday   3 comments

Please come if you can, or spread the word if you have contacts in or around Maine:

On Wednesday, August 21st at noon, there will be a Stop Common Core press conference in Augusta, Maine, at the Capitol in the Hall of Flags led by Maine State School Board member Heidi Sampson.

There will also be a Stop Common Core Rally at 6:00 pm that night at the Governor Hill Mansion, Augusta, Maine.

I am excited. I get to participate in person.

Speakers will include Heidi Sampson, of the Maine State School Board; Emmett McGroarty, of American Principles Project; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Erin Tuttle, activist mom from Indiana; and me– Christel Swasey, from Heber City, Utah.

The East Coast is suddenly exploding with new energy dedicated toward stopping Common Core and reclaiming education.

Last weekend in New York, we saw the tremendous, unprecedented example set by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella of Comsewogue, NY, at his high school football stadium rally with parents against Common Core.

And now, Heidi Sampson, a member of the Maine State School Board, steps up to the plate, leading citizens of Maine to see the facts and take action against the damages of Common Core.

If you visit some of the parent-led websites on Facebook and elsewhere, representing states all up and down the East Coast, you’ll see No Common Core Maine, Stop Common Core of Florida and Stop Common Core of Georgia and Stop Common Core in North Carolina and Stop Common Core in South Carolina and Stop Common Core New Hampshire, and you will be impressed— Each site tells the same story: parents and educators are hosting increasing numbers of town hall meetings and informational presentations; on radio stations, in churches, in conference calls, in auditoriums, at State Capitol Buildings, and in their homes– all over, from Miami, Palm Beach, Rome, Greenville and Raleigh, to Concord, Alfred, Augusta, and more.

And in New York State, on September 21st, there’s going to be an important forum, put on by the parent-led Stop Common Core in New York State with grassroots activists, esteemed professors and think-tank professionals flying in from across the country to participate.

The big boys and their millions cannot, can not, stand up to the tens of thousands of Mama and Papa bears who are here to protect our children.

Common Core is going out. Liberty and local control are coming back. We the People are taking back the educational rights and privacy rights of our children. Count on it.

Right Under Our Noses: EIMAC   16 comments

My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.

Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:

1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.

2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)

So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level – See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf

Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??

Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?

Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:

“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.

FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.

FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.

FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.

FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”

The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.

Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.

He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.

Right Under Our Noses.

Video: Ending Compulsory Education   6 comments

This five-minute video is worth our time. Oak Norton explains why ending compulsory education benefits us all. It makes so much sense that I am left wondering why we didn’t do this, long ago.

You are invited: Alisa, Renee and I are presenting tomorrow at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel   3 comments

Tomorrow at 2:00 at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel ballroom, Alisa, Renee and I will be making a presentation about Common Core, courtesty of Freedom Works and Glenn Beck’s Man in the Moon Event.

Hope to see you there.

Video: Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute Speak Out Against Common Core   3 comments

Joy Pullman of Heartland Institute and Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation give one of the most articulate, compelling presentations about Common Core that I’ve seen. These speakers are rock stars– they have studied the Common Core “education reform” agenda meticulously, and it shows. Watch this video!

Concerned Women For America: Informational Conference Call June 27   2 comments

I received this email announcing an informational conference call. Joy Pullman, Sandra Stotsky and Richard Innes will be the guest speakers.

Many of us have watched the video that the Concerned Women’s group produced together with the American Principles Project, about Common Core. (If not, click here.)

Here is the CWA invitation:

CWA Hosts Nation-Wide “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”

Calling all parents and grandparents! There is a power grab unfolding within your local school system. And it’s time you know the truth.

Over the past three years, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been quietly working to seize control of the American education system without any input by the states. As a part of President Barak Obama’s stimulus package, Race to the Top grant money was earmarked for education initiatives in the states. Tied to this money is the progressive Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) and the results could be devastating to parent’s rights and our respective states’ education system.

It is imperative that you understand the CCSS initiative and how it will affect your child’s classroom.

Please join CWA’s nation-wide “Facts Common Core Conference Call” on June 27 at 8:30 p.m. EDT, as CWA’s Executive Director, Kenda Bartlett, moderates the discussion on exactly what is the CCSS, the program’s origins and the steps you can take to educate yourself and others on the Common Core.

Expert guests will include:
•Joy Pullmann, Heartland Institute

•Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Common Core Validation Committee Member
•Richard Innes, Bluegrass Institute

Please don’t miss this unique opportunity.

Call (760) 569-7676 , and enter the participant access code 303989 to join the conference call.

Most states adopting CCSS did so to be eligible to compete for federal funding. To have a chance at that money, recession-racked states agreed to adopt the CC standards and the aligned national tests sight unseen. Only five states did not sign on to the CCSS; so unless you live in Alaska, Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, or Virginia, this will affect your school system.

So please, learn everything you need to know about Common Core on CWA’s “Facts about Common Core Conference Call”.

Sincerely,

Penny Nance
Chief Executive Officer and President

The Constitution v. Redistribution of Teachers and Money in Ed Reform   Leave a comment

The heavyhanded education reform machine, by which I mean both the federal Department of Education and the corporate education business machine that’s led by the Bill Gates/Pearson folks, could never get away with what they are getting away with, taking over public education, testing, privacy, and the direction of textbook alignment nationwide, if the average American understood –and demanded– his/her constitutional rights.

1. There’s the right to representation.

Remember the rallying cry of the American colonists against Mother England in the 1700’s? No Taxation Without Representation. I don’t see many people carrying signs down at the Capitol today that read, “No Education Without Representation.” Yet, under Common Core, we have no representation. Putting aside for a moment* the fact that it’s constitutionally illegal to even have nationalized education in this country– if it was legal, it should at least be representative! But the copyrighted Common Core standards are written behind closed doors by private, unelected groups (NGA and CCSSO) that have no public accountability and are not subject to the laws to which elected groups (like Congress) are subject. The two groups are tricky; for example, using the official sounding name of National Governors’ Association (NGA) one group fooled most of us into believing that they were a representative, legitimate governing group. No. NGA has some governors as members, but it is a private group with zero accountability to you or me.

We weren’t represented when our legislatures were bypassed and our states adopted Common Core as part of a grant application signed by only two Utahns.

And we weren’t represented when the money and influence of Bill Gates (not a public vote) produced the whole Common Core, partially by bribing the national PTA and countless other influencers to call this “state-led” and to call it good for kids. Even though it never was.

2. There’s the 10th Amendment* which we are now taking back.

It says that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, to the people! That means that education is reserved to the states, to the people. There is no such thing as accountability to the Department of Education– unless we stupidly accept grants with strings attached, from that department. Then we are accountable to whatever we agreed to under the conditions of the grant.

3. There’s the right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Many people still don’t realize that unreasonable searches are happening electronically, using schools to collect personal and family information about individual students. And too many of those who do realize it, are unalarmed.

As NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden recently explained, “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change… People will know the lengths to which government is going to grant themselves powers– unilaterally– to create greater control over American society and global society but they won’t be willing to take the risk necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interest…. the only thing that restricts surveillance activities are policy… They’ll say that because of the dangers… we need more authority… it will be turn-key tyranny.” (see minute 10:48)

4. There’s the right to pursue happiness.

–Not the right for groups to take away others’ happiness or rearrange the happiness distribution of citizens.

The pursuit of happiness for teachers and students is being threatened by new plans for the redistribution of teachers and of wealth, wrapped up in the education reforms that we’re all having rammed down our throats.

If you read the Executive Summary of Race to the Top, (RTTT was the original grant contest that lured states into the Common Core movement) you will see this on page 3:

(D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.

What will this look like?

As one teacher recently noted:

“I can’t make teachers understand that the equitable distribution of effective teachers mean that they get moved if they do a good job. Principals don’t get this either. They will no longer have the ability to retain their best teachers. They will be placed. I can just imagine, a teacher does a good job and has high test scores, so her reward is to be placed in a failing school and as a bonus, she will now be deemed a “leader” charged with extra responsibilities on her new PLC team. That won’t possibly cause problems, will it? And what about the people who move into a certain attendance area because they like the teachers and principals? Schools will become revolving doors with no stability or consistency. We will be on a hamster wheel forever. Well, maybe when principals find out they will lose their best and brightest, they might stop drinking the Kool-aid. They’ve been fed a dribble of this for years and now they just accept it! By the way, this includes them as well. They will be rewarded by being moved to a turnaround government-run school… They have to begin actively recruiting minorities and start hiring a certain amount. No longer the best teacher for the job, but the best minority who might not be as good as [another] applicant. What happened to opportunity for all? When I interview for a job, I would like to think that I get a fair shot.”

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are founding American rights. Redistribution of wealth and redistribution of teachers is totally un-American.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I agree!

Deseret News Op-Ed: USOE Officials Provide No Operational Assurances of Student Data Privacy   Leave a comment

In today’s Deseret News opinion piece, Matt Sanders makes the observation that similar, disturbing trends make the National Security Administration’s actions and the Department of Education’s actions snooping mirror images of each other. These trends are First Amendment violations, government overreach, and cradle to grave data tracking. The article also makes the point that on the local level, the Utah State Office of Education has provided no legal or operational assurances of student data privacy, although the USOE is quick to offer verbal assurances and to “soothe fears of ever more federalism by labeling opponents as detractors and alarmists.”

Sanders also writes:

“…[A]nother problematic revelation has roiled Washington, D.C. This time it goes beyond snooping around journalists looking for a scoop. It involves the National Security Administration collecting phone data on of Verizon customers.

This is a problem. A real problem. The U.S. federal government derives its power through the consent of the governed through a system of duly elected representatives acting as agents for their local populations. Additionally, the Constitution goes to great lengths to curb the tendency of government to overreach its bounds, and therefore set up a system of checks and balances.

… In light of the federal agency’s incursions, parents and lawmakers should likewise revisit the data privacy standards in Common Core testing approach… While Utah State Office of Education (USOE) officials verbally assured community members that they should not be concerned, they’ve provided no such assurance legally or operationally.”

Read the whole article: http://reframingthedebate.blogs.deseretnews.com/2013/06/06/3-reasons-why-nsa-snooping-worries-parents-and-lawmakers/

Source Documents for Common Core   11 comments

Nobody has to choose between relying on the proponents of Common Core, or relying on the opponents of Common Core.

To find out what Common Core really is and does to education and to liberty, study for yourself.

These are just a starter batch. There are more!  Some of these are Utah-specific.  If you are in another state, do a related word search to easily find your own.

 

DOCUMENTS:

The Race to the Top Grant Application

The No Child Left Behind Waiver

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant

The lawsuit against the Department of Education

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education

The speeches of President Obama on education

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange,  the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.

The Common Core English and Math standards

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.

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Here are some explanations of each of the documents, and what you can learn from them.

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The Race to the Top Grant Application  – Utah got points for having a kid-tracking SLDS database system.  Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core.  This was how we got into it.  Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver  – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable Common Core standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant  – This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has.  It tracks students within the state.  Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange.

The lawsuit against the Department of Education  – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA  – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama.  It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC.  This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment.  It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He seems to believe Common Core was Obama’s idea from the start.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s goal is total control of everything– teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every  school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to under