Archive for the ‘GEPA law’ Tag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

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

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

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

Accountability and transparency to whom?

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

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

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

So, here’s Duncan’s statement:

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

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

And here’s California Superintendent Torklason’s response:

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

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

Dozens of Links Documenting Common Core System Far More Harmful Than Good   7 comments

Common Core Concerns

Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.

The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.

States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.

It is noteworthy that despite claims that only aggregated data is submitted to Edfacts Data Exchange, the CCSSO (state superintendents society that copyrighted Common Core) has a “stated commitment to disaggregation of data” and numerous federal websites do model student data standardization and invite states to use common data sets which makes it easier to share personally identifiable information, including biometric and behavioral data.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted Common Core. The 15% rule limits innovation and excellence, being enforced in the common core aligned test systems and by textbook sales companies’ near-monopoly on any thought beyond Common Core. The 15% rule is also echoed in multiple documents from governmental and common core corporate developers.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”

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

Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.
http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/mathelem/Core-Curriculum/Utah-Core-Standards-in-Mathematics-Approved-Versio.aspx

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that Utah has no local voice in altering the national standards, which were written behind closed doors in D.C. and which can be altered by their creators at any time without representation from the states governed by them.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.

The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”

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 Department of Education has mandated a synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC and PARCC under the watchful eye of the Department.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s 2020 goal is to control 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 same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.

The speeches 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 Common Core works until all the tests and curriculum align with these standards” and he’s writing curriculum for all. He also speaks of the usefulness of having students be “a uniform customer base.”

The speeches of David Coleman, non-educator, and the lead architect of the Common Core ELA standards who has been promoted to College Board President. He mocks narrative writing, has diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, promotes “informational text” without studying the effect of the reduction of classic literature on students long term, and, although he’s not been elected, yet he’s almost single-handedly reduced the quality and liberty of the high school English teacher’s options. As College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt universities, which now know, for example, that students are not learning Calculus nor much classic literature in high school any more.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. (CCSS)

The CCSS were rejected by key members of their validation committee, who have published and testified extensively that Common Core is an academic mistake that dramatically weakens high school standards.

American Institutes for Research – AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.

HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.

SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)

Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.

They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.

This is un-American governance.

Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core   54 comments

I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.

The ironically titled  The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously.  It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.

Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?

The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally.  How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C.  The standards are  copyrighted and are unamendable by locals.  There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA  Flexibility Waiver Request.  And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.

For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this:   Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.

If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION  pushing (his version of) education reform.  He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core; and he owns opinion maker Education Week magazine.  There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts   (very successful, I might add)  to foist his vision of education without voter input.  In 2004, Gates signeda 26 page agreement with UNESCO  to develop a master curriculum for global teacher training.  Robert Muller, the former assistant secretary general of the U.N. is the grandfather of the world core curriculumthe goal being to bring all schools in all nations under one common core curriculum.

The National Review writes that it is a “right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass.   This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty  of the American Principles Project, has said,  “Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum.  It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation.  That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards.  A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).

Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates.   Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology.   Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”.  Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect;  then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board.  They are both profiting from the alignment of  and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core.  And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group.  He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.

I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush.  I have barely touched the countless Democrats who promote Common Core for gain.  But I don’t want to be up all night.

So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:

California Democrat/author Rosa Koire  and respected educator like Diane Ravitch  oppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing.  They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement.   Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue.  Teacher Kris Nielsen has written  “Children of the Core” and  teacher Paul Bogush  calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy.  Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer  predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers.  Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an inspid brew of gobbledygook.  Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.

Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition.  But it can’t be done honestly.  Because it’s not a fight between left and right.

This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the  individual voter.

It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships.  That’s the David and Goliath here.

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children.  It’s about greed and political control.   A simple test:  if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?

Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.

Where’s the basis for what proponents call  “rigorous,” “internationally competitive,”  and “research-based?”  Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing downWe know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students  in America.  The emperor of Common Core  is wearing no clothes.

Many educators are crying out –even  testifying to legislatures— that Common Core is an academic disaster.  I’m thinking of  Professors Christopher Tienken, Sandra StotskyThomas Newkirk, Ze’ev Wurman, James Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration.  But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.

First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks.  Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core.  (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)

Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by  mad “Deliverology” globalist  Sir Michael Barber.   Watch his speeches.

He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue.  Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” “global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet.  He’s a political machine.  Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.

Along with some of the gold-rushing colluders chasing Common Core-alignment  product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left.  And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education has been happening   since long before Obama came to power.

But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy.  Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah  ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.

It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy.  She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools.  Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written.  She served on the standards validation committee.  She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration;  she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools  away from students.

So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.

Next.

The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”  By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that.  The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature.  Maybe not.  But the tests sure will.

What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum  of the national test writers?

And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.

Classic literature is sacred.  Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.

Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere.  And not just a little bit.  Tons.

Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English.  To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.

What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?

We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories.  Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.

Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way.  Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings?  Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?

The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of  a certain percentage of all classic literature.

How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?

Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal.  Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts.  I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age  at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.

For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix  of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)

Next.

The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor.  This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%.  That’s not a ceiling?

The article claims that “college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core.  Well, it does, actually.  The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states.  I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages.  You can see it reposted here:

The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards.  Sure.  But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core.  Where are the options?   2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards.  3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.

The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards.  Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator.  In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform.   A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.

The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned.  Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System.  Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?

The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge.  So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?

The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be  illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.

GEPA states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.

1.  The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.

2.  The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made  available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”

3.  The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.

Finally:  the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?”  Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal…  Aren’t we still?

What One Person Can Do To Stop Common Core   28 comments

Across the nation, many people are beginning to raise concerns about implementing Common Core in our schools.

Wondering what you can do?  Here are some suggestions that add to what you’ll find in Truth in American Education’s action center tool kit.

1) Check this map of the U.S. to see if legislative educational liberty movements are happening in your state.

2) Check this spreadsheet to see if there are people fighting common core in your state and join them.

3) If nothing is happening at all in your state, do an internet search for Race to the Top application  (name your own state) and find the application from Jan. 2010
4) Go to your state school board’s minutes site and find out at which meeting the CCSS were approved (June 2, 2010 the standards were finalized… states such as Illinois approved them 22 days later!)
5) Like Truth in American Education because this is a main hub for national cooperation.

6) Start speaking to friends, teachers and family about common core — many use Facebook FB, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc.

7) Call or write your state representatives.

8) Sign your state’s educational liberty petition  or start one.  If you need assistance, ask people from other states for help.

9) Attend local and state school board meetings and visit or call your state superintendent to find out who actually cares about this issue.  Sample questions to ask:

  • Where can I read our state’s cost analysis for implementing Common Core and its tests?
  • What is the amendment process for Common Core standards if we find out they are not working for us?
  • Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been proven to be of superior quality and that they are internationally benchmarked?
  • Where can I see for myself evidence that Common Core’s transformations  (deleting cursive, minimizing classic literature, moving away from traditional math, etc.) –will benefit our children?
  • What is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments  system?
  • Does it seem good that the meetings of the standards writers (the CCSSO/NGA) are all closed-door meetings?
  • I read that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; so what do we do if we need to add a whole lot more to actually prepare our children well?
  • Although I have been told that Common Core is state-led, I missed the invitation to discuss this before it was decided for me and my children; please explain the analysis and vetting process for the upcoming national science and social studies standards.
  • 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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”    In light of this, please explain why our state has agreed to intense micromanagement by the federal government under Common Core testing.

 

The Truth, Mr. Secretary of Education: Fact-Checking Arne Duncan   Leave a comment

Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation exposes misrepresentations of the financial/educational truth.

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/10/fact-check-secretary-arne-duncan-on-education-cuts/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email;utm_campaign=EdReview

FACT CHECK: Secretary Arne Duncan on Education Cuts

Lindsey Burke September 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  During remarks to attendees in Charlotte last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan claimed that the budget passed by the House of Representatives would mean “fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer resources for poor kids and students with disabilities, [and] fewer after school programs.”

However, the House budget does not designate specific cuts to K-12 education programs; it simply calls for reductions in non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade. Duncan, as he did in testimony earlier this year, is using unspecified spending reductions suggested in the budget to assume reductions in specific education programs—something the budget proposal does not do.

But even if federal education spending were to be cut by 20 percent—a goal worth pursuing—would that mean fewer teachers, fewer resources for poor and disabled students, and fewer after-school programs, as Duncan suggests?

Since the 1970s, federal per-pupil expenditures have more than doubled (after adjusting for inflation). Those increases haven’t all gone to the classroom or toward teacher salaries. Much of that money has gone toward expanding bureaucracy and non-teaching administrative positions in our nation’s public schools.

From 1970 to 2010, student enrollment increased a modest 7.8 percent, while the number of non-teaching staff positions increased 138 percent. But the number of teachers has also been increasing steadily over the decades.

In fact, if preliminary data from the National Center for Education Statistics is accurate, the student-teacher ratio in our nation’s public schools, at 15.2 to 1, will be lower this year than at any other point in history. Since 1970, the number of public school teachers increased 60 percent, while the number of students increased by only about 7 percent.

   Duncan also claimed in his remarks that “10 million students could see their Pell Grants reduced, putting higher education further out of reach.”

What has put higher education “further out of reach” is ever-escalating college costs, which federal subsidies have exacerbated over the years. The House-approved budget aims to better target Pell funding to the low-income students it was originally designed to help while limiting the growth of the grants.

  There is ample room to trim bureaucracy at the Department of Education. And it would be bad policy to continue blindly increasing federal education spending. The Obama Administration has been on an education spending binge for the past three and a half years: a nearly $100 billion bonus to the department in 2009 through the “stimulus,” a $10 billion public education bailout the year after that, and now a proposed $70 billion education budget (up from $68 billion) with $60 billion in supplemental spending.

Taxpayers cannot afford to continue financing the federal government’s failed experiment in education intervention. Like most federal policy areas, some fiscal restraint is needed in education spending.

A better approach would be to give states more control of their share of federal education funding and allow for flexibility. Schools would get far more bang for their bucks with flexibility than by continuing to filter money through 150 bureaucratic federal education programs.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Core? Not American Parents.   2 comments

Great editorial from Heartland in Chicago, reposted:

http://heartland.org/editorial/2012/09/04/common-core-rollout-draws-parental-opposition-nationwide

Common Core Rollout Draws Parental Opposition Nationwide

By Robert Holland

As schools open this fall, battle lines are forming over the rollout of Common Core (CC) national standards, the specifics of which have only recently started coming to public attention.

On paper, the fight would appear to be a mismatch.

You have on the pro-CC side:

  • The Obama-led U.S. Department of Education, the agency with the fastest-growing discretionary spending in the federal government (now approaching $70 billion) and a matching itch to dictate.
  • Achieve, the corporate-led outfit that started marshaling big-business clout behind national standards in 1996, during the Clinton years.
  • Inside-the-Beltway organizations such as the Best Practices Center of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which sponsored the handpicked Common Core writers.
  • Not least, Microsoft magnate Bill Gates, whose foundation has pumped tens of millions of dollars over the past decade into educationist organizations, including the teachers unions, that back the Common Core agenda. Gates has gone even further by subsidizing think tanks on both sides of the education-reform divide in clear hopes of winning favor for the Common Core, which is to be linked with national tests administered online.

And on the anti-CC side of the battle, you have:

  • Moms, everyday moms.

There are some dads, too, but moms are leading the anti-Common Core charge in a growing number of states. And by no means are they all conservatives.

Never underestimate the power of moms. Common Core opponents recently celebrated a possible harbinger of victories to come when the Utah Board of Education voted 12-3 to back out of the state’s membership in a federally funded consortium that is drafting a national test that will be linked with the Common Core.

In a similar reversal, Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, who had previously crowed about the state’s being in step with Washington on Common Core, reversed course and unleashed strong criticism of the Obama administration at a recent Tea Party gathering. “This administration,” said Bennett, “has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach. The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.”

Interviews with activist moms in Utah, Indiana, and Georgia–just three of several hotbeds of opposition–indicated they all abhor the federal power grab, and they have other concerns in common. These include: the way parents have been kept in the dark about radical changes in their kids’ instruction, the heavy involvement of special-interest groups that are unaccountable to the public, and the mediocre quality of the national English and math standards.

Some subject-matter specialists have pegged the reading level of CC high-school English at the 7th grade, with a drastic de-emphasis of classic literature in favor of workforce-oriented material. And they say the definition of “college-readiness” in CC math corresponds with a nonselective community college, not a university.

In Indiana, Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle are among the Hoosier parents who got an early warning last fall when their children brought home math worksheets and books they recognized as being of the “fuzzy” genre. Parental complaints resulted in a salesman for the text (Pearson’s enVision Math) coming to inform the parents “how lucky they were” to be getting one of the nation’s first Common Core-aligned textbooks.

Fired up, the two moms did their research and eventually began speaking to dozens of grassroots groups.

“We have found that most Hoosiers, including most legislators, have never heard of the Common Core until just recently,” Crossin said. “The majority of the teachers we have spoken to are just now being asked to transition to the Common Core, and they say they don’t like it. They cite the lack of clarity and quality.”

   In Utah, Alisa Ellis is actively involved in the public schools six of her seven children attend. She says she “did not hear about this new direction until a year after we had adopted the standards.” As more parents learn for the first time what’s happening, “Our numbers keep growing. We have over 2,000 signatures on a petition, plus a dozen or so organizations that have signed.”

A parent-activist in Georgia, Sherena Arrington, is not optimistic the battle will be won soon, given that “taxpayers have yet to understand that their rights to representation in the educational policies of this state are being stolen from them.”

In many respects, the current moms-versus-monolith battle resembles that of the 1990s, when forces aligned with the federal Goals 2000 movement sought to force a national School-to-Work curriculum on all schools. Moms slowed down the juggernaut then. Don’t bet against them stopping it this time.


Robert Holland (rholland@heartland.org) is a senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute, and author of Not With My Child, You Don’t (1995), a book about the parents’ revolt against nationalized K-12 education.

Q+A on Common Core: Historic 3-hour Utah Legislative Committee Meeting   3 comments

There is still plenty o’confusion in the state of Utah.  Lawmakers are realizing that due to the Utah Constitution’s giving authority to the Board to determine educational issues, they are almost powerless (except to defund Common Core).  The board seems skittish and  embarrassed now that so many of us know the new standards are inferior and that our freedoms have been traded for what started out as a way to increase Utah’s chance at a federal education grant during an economic low.  And some on the USOE and state school board ship seem to be steering toward the possibility of purchasing SBAC tests despite the fact that Utah just voted to cut membership ties with SBAC.

The board now admits it’s a federal program.  Lawmakers are not fully aware yet of all aspects of Common Core, while the Board is digging in their heels about giving any references for their claims of increased rigor or local control.

It’s a great drama, but a sad one.

Illustration:  After the meeting, Alisa Ellis and I asked School Board Chair Debra Roberts if we might get a chance to sit down and talk with her about all of this.  She said, “We’ve already wasted $10,000 in Board time as this group has been sitting down with us so much.”

Really?   We asked who they have actually been talking/sitting with.  (I’ve never had the opportunity, but would like it.  I have had the majority of my many emails ignored and was told “no” to a sit-down conference with USOE lawyer Carol Lear.)

Chair Roberts said, “Well, we’ve sat with Christel many times.”  Hmm.  I said, “I am Christel.  And that is not true.”

She insisted it was.  So, I asked who said that they had sat and talked with me.  She didn’t say.  I said that somebody has misinformed you or somebody needs to take a lie detector test.

She hurried away, refusing to even discuss sitting down with us.  So did Superintendent Shumway.  Strange.  The board now seems afraid of the truth that might come out during a legitimate discussion with an educated citizen, and they simply will not give references for their claims nor will they sit down and talk like gentlemen.  Or gentlewomen.

Sad.

Both the Tribune and the Deseret News covered the historic meeting of the House and Senate Education Committee on Common Core at the State Capitol yesterday.  But they  failed to report on some of the more fascinating moments.

Like what?  Well, they skipped the Data Alliance’s data-mashing discussion and skipped the probing questions legislators directed toward both the pro-Common Core, such as Utah Superintendent Larry Shumway (and his staff) and to the visiting experts who testified at the meeting, the heroes of Utah’s day:

Jim Stergios of the Boston-based Pioneer Institute and Ted Rebarber of the D.C. -based AccountabilityWorks

  The papers also totally blew the hilarious part, where Rep. Moss’ rhetorical questions got “Yes!”es –called out by several audience members including me, after Rep. Moss asked, “Have these people even read the standards?  Are they English teachers?  Do they have Master’s Degrees?”

Yes!

Yes!

Yes!

So, here are links to the local newspapers’ coverage of the event:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/54705461-78/core-speakers-state-standards.html.csp

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865560776/Lawmakers-educators-growing-weary-of-Common-Core-debate.html

And here’s my version.  Photos first, details follow.

Photo: Senator Howard Stephenson: "If I were the king of Utah, I would follow the recommendations [of the visiting experts.]" Jim Stergios and Ted Rebarber testified that Utah would be better served by abandoning the Common Core and writing a higher set of education standards.

Senator Howard Stephenson:  he said if he were “the king of Utah,” he would follow the recommendation of the visiting education experts.

Representative Francis Gibson:  he asked Stergios and Rebarber to clarify whether it was true that Massachusetts had had the highest educational standards in the nation [and had tested as an independent country, ranking in the top six internationally] before they dropped their standards to adopt Common Core.  You could have heard a pin drop.  Stergios answered: it was the very reason a Massachusetts scholar traveled to Utah to testify against Common Core.

Rebarber and Stergios:  Why not brand Utah as the great state with courage to be independent of federal manipulation via Common Core?

The Testimonies:

Jim Stergios and Ted Rebarber have agreed to share written copies of their ten minute testimonies to the Utah legislature, but until I get a copy, here are a just few bullet points:

Jim Stergios:

  • The quality of the Common Core standards is mediocre. Cutting classic literature to make room for informational texts has been said by Dr. Sandra Stotsky to be weakening college prep, taking away from the richer and broader vocabulary of classic literature.
  • The math standards are less rigorous; for example, they place Alg. I in high school rather than in middle school.   Math lacks a coherent grade by grade progression.  The Common Core experimental approach to teaching geometry has never been successfully piloted in the world.
  • Stergios quoted Jason Zimba, math architect for Common Core, who said that passing the Common Core test in math will only show a student is prepared to enter a nonselective community college.
  • Stergios said that CCSSO administrator Gene Wilhoit’s recent statement to the Utah School Board that “there’s no Common Core police,” is misleading.  Stergios said that gentlemen’s agreements quickly become mandates, as the pattern of the Dept. of Education’s recent history shows.  It is best to rely on what is in writing.
  • Stergios mentioned the Race to the Top for DISTRICTS, which is brand new.  This shows zero respect for state authority over education. There is a steady pattern of encroachment by the federal government on education.
  • Common Core did not have adequate deliberation; after a 2 day approval and no public input, Utah adopted Common Core.  Even Fordham Institute, a pro-common core think tank, rated Utah math standards higher prior to adoption of Common Core.
  • Stergios said Utah should brand itself as independent, thus attracting more talent and economic growth by reversing the adoption of Common Core.

Ted Rebarber:

  • Legislators hold the purse.  There’s a separation of powers between the legislature and the State School Board, which holds the authority over determining standards.  There’s also the Constitutional principle of checks and balances.  The ESEA waiver shows the federal arm is tying funds to adoption of Common Core –or to a college program that the Dept. of Ed must approve. If legislators don’t approve of either the experimental, inferior aspect, or the federally-promoted aspect of the standards, they can withhold all Common Core funding.  The school board will have to create independent standards.
  • NAPE tests provide national results; SAT and ACT do not.  They are only used by certain states, not all.
  • SBAC’s passing scores are non-negotiable; the purpose is to define what proficient means.  Utah can’t affect SBAC.
  • Federal Dept of Education has herded states into a set of standards.  The benefits for collaboration are over when all have the same standards, whether you call them Utah Core or Common Core.  It is the same.
  • Texas’ Robert Scott has said he would love to do collaborative work with other states, creating an item bank rather than exact common tests.  There are other approaches and ways that don’t require everyone to be the very same.
  • The legislature has a duty to protect the right of Utah citizens not to give up education to federal control. Protecting state sovereignty is a legitimate concern.

Of the nearly packed to capacity room, who spoke up or asked questions?  Several lawmakers:

Rep. Ken Sumison:

Rep. Christensen:

Rep. Nielsen:

Rep. Moss:

Sen. Osmond:

—and more.

Who spoke up from the Utah Data Alliance and NCES?  One man:

John Brandt:

And who spoke at lennnnggggth from the Utah State School Board?

Superintendent Larry Shumway

Assistant Superintendent Judy Park

(who used the word “thrilled” multiple times in the same sentence as “sharing with the Department of Education”)

–and Utah State School Board Chair Debra Roberts:

Chair Roberts said: “I don’t care what the federal government has to say…I will listen to Utah educators.”  (But she refuses to speak for even five minutes to educators like me, who oppose Common Core. )

Others in the audience  (non-speaking roles) included:

The Honorable Judge Norman Jackson: (who has thoroughly reviewed the legal aspects of Common Core and based on his assessment, recommended Utah reject Common Core)

Rep. Kraig Powell

who has been studying both sides of Common Core with interest

 

And the pro-freedom in education activist, Alisa Ellis, with many more citizens against Common Core restraints:

So, with the exception Aaron Osmond –who says he’s to the point of nausea because of how much he’s had to face Common Core controversy –most legislators and citizens and teachers still don’t understand what Common Core is.  I make this judgement from having heard very important, basic questions asked by legislators.

Sen. Stephenson, Rep. Gibson, Rep. Nielsen, Rep. Moss, Rep. Christianson, Rep. Sumison and others  asked good, probing questions and made clear, excellent points, such as Rep. Sumison’s “Whoever pays, makes the rules.”  (He wasn’t referring to the fact that the legislators hold the Utah public purse, but to the fact that the federal government has financially incentivized Common Core.)

–I’ll get to the rest of the legislators in a minute.

First, all in the audience had to trudge through almost two hours of the Pro-Common Core Show led by Superintendent Larry Shumway and Judy Park.

Park reported on the No Child Left Behind waiver.  Dr. Park bubbled and gushed about what she called her “thrill of sharing Utah’s work with the Department of ED” in applying for No Child Left Behind.  She used the word “sharing” and “thrilled” multiple times.  Superintendent Shumway said that he was “offended” that people “in this room” have implied that he gets something out of sitting on boards outside Utah other than providing a helpful service.  He said he receives no pay for sitting on the board of CCSSO (The Council of Chief State School Officers).  He did not mention another board he sits on, WestEd, which is the test writer for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

John Brandt and his staffer said the Utah Data Alliance  is no threat to citizen privacy, although, he chuckled, “there are no guarantees,” and he admitted that “about 10 people will have clearance to access personally identifiable” citizen information.

The Q + A:

So:  What did the legislators want to know?  What did the pro and con answerers say?

When Rep. Moss asked her rhetorical questions and got “Yes!”es shouted out in response, Superintendent Shumway answered her, too: “Standards set a base line. Standards don’t set a cap.”  (I thought: Really?  What does the 15% speed limit on learning set by the Dept of Education, and copyrighted by NGA/CCSSO, do– if it does not cap our rights to educate as we see fit? Please.)

When Rep. Stephenson pointed to the academic reviews of Common Core that are unfavorable to the school board’s claims that the standards will increase rigor and strengthen legitimate college prep, Superintendent Shumway deflected the question.  Waving aside official reviews by actual members of the only official national Common Core Validation Committee, professors who refused to sign off on the Common Core standards as being adequate, Superintendent Shumway said:  “there’s no dearth of documents.” (The referenced reviews of Dr. Sandra Stotsky on English and by Dr. James Milgam on math are available in Exhibit A and B here:  http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf and in many other places.

Rep. Christensen said he wants Utah to be independent and said, “Education is a local matter.” He was troubled by the”implicit recognition of federal supremacy,” illustrated by the majority of states having asked the federal government for waivers from No Child Left Behind. He added, “We’re going down a road” he is not happy about, illustrated by the fact he cited: a school board member said Utah had paid a $90,000 fine for noncompliance with No Child Left Behind.

In response, Superintendent Shumway said that there were various disclaimers in the No Child Left Behind application.

Rep. Nielsen asked if it was true that by 7th grade, under Common Core math, students would be two years behind world class standards.  Jim Stergios responded that indeed, Common Core was a step backward for Utah, but it would be closer to one year behind.  For other states, Common Core brings math standards back two years.

Rep. Nielsen stated concerns about local control, saying that the U.S. Dept of Education uses terms like “allows” this and “allows” that.  Sup. Shumway responded that “We are navigating through compliated waters.”

Sen. Osmond and Sen. Stephenson asked cost-related questions: hadn’t Utah already borne the brunt of the online costs for technology to match Common Core?  Ted Rebarber answered that the state should do a cost analysis as other states have done.  Common Core requires transformative realignment to the national standards.  Rebarber asked, “Why do it?” –Since the cost/benefit analysis shows Utah is giving away state authority while adding costs, for inferior standards or at best, very similar to previously held, state standards.

Sen. Stephenson asked about the “legitimate concerns about abandoning what districts are doing” concerning assessments.  Sup. Shumway said, “We haven’t preselected any vendor [for testing]. We were careful not to create requirements that would exclude anyone.”  Shumway invited any Utahn to go to schools.utah.gov and click on “popular links” and submit input on specific standards that Utahns find problematic.  He said these must be academically central comments, not comments about state sovereignty over education.

Several legislators questioned the timing of simultaneously asking the public for feedback to change the standards when the test Request for Proposals (RFP) has already been written and the SBAC has long been in the test writing process.  How could Utah’s changed standards match?  (I would add, how do you think we’re going to get away with changing more than 15% of our standards when it’s copyrighted and the Dept. of Ed. is aiming for seamless commonality between states?)

Sup. Shumway said that the timetables are challenging.

Both Rep. Nielsen and Rep. Christensen were concerned with the costs of Common Core and the state longitudinal data system (SLDS), costs which have not been studied by Utah.  The SLDS grant will run out in 2013.

Utah Technology Director John Brandt responded that he hoped the legislature would continue to fund SLDS, “this valuable tool.”

Valuable tool for whom?  Children?  Parents?  Freedom lovers?  –Excuse me while I run screaming from the room and cross-stitch and frame in gold the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

The SLDS and Data Alliance is either–

  • What John Brandt and his team said it is, yesterday:  a state network of data (never to be shared with federal agencies) –a way to share preschool-to-workforce data about Utahns, among six state agencies (Dept. of Workforce Services, Utah State Office of Education, and more).  Brandt assured legislators that personally identifiable portions of this data would be only accessed by about ten people in the state, but countless people can access the nonidentifiable portions of the data.

Or it’s:

This makes more sense since Brandt belongs to the Dept. of Education’s research arm, the NCES, and he also belongs to -and chairs– the group that developed and copyrighted the Common Core standards, the CCSSO or Council of Chief State School Officers.  NCES has a long-standing “National Data Collection Model” you can view here: http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/Information/howToUse.aspx

So Brandt is a fed, along with being the Technology Director for the state of Utah.

  Relevantly, the Dept. of Education’s Chief of Staff, Joanne Weiss, has recently said that she’s combining or “mashing” data systems of federal agencies and is “helping” states (Oh, thank you!) by writing reports to assist them in developing research partnerships. She has said, “Politicians often warn of the law of unintended consequences—as if all unintended consequences are negative ones—but in the world of data, we should also be aware of the law of welcome surprises.” (Weiss at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) annual conference.   http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html   Thanks, Ms. Weiss.  That makes me feel better.

I will keep this in mind while I continue to study exemplary progressive collectivism such as China’s Ministry of Public Security, as I recall the “data sharing” on citizens in Germany’s 1940s, or as I enjoy George Orwell’s immortal “1984”.

Utah, let’s keep our wits about us.