Archive for the ‘government’ Tag

Utah Legislator Sparks Debate on US Education: To Reform or Restore?   7 comments

This week, a Utah legislator posted his views about education reform on his Facebook wall. The following post was compiled from that wall, by a Utah mother, Alyson Williams.

(Names have been replaced with generic titles.)

Thank you, Alyson.

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U.S. Education: to Reform or Restore?

Guest post by Utah Mother Alyson Williams

While we wish that these kinds of exchanges were happening in our state halls rather than just social media platforms, this exchange between a parent, a teacher, and a legislator as excerpted from the Utah legislator’s Facebook wall introduces an important question: should we be expanding and advancing centralized education reform or be seeking to restore ideals that have been lost? Do we know our own history well enough to discern the difference?

Parent: [Teacher], you seem to be talking just about the [Common Core] standards while [parent activist] has raised a warning about a bigger issue. Every state that adopted the standards did so in conjunction with a number of other reforms, the combination of which shift governance of education in significant ways. I hope this overview helps clarify that: http://prezi.com/icbma_8t5snu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

I appreciate [Representative] taking the time to attend a presentation I did on this subject in [City.]

Teacher: I did watch your presentation. I commend you for your activism and I understand your viewpoint. I have done my own extensive research. I even interviewed people from the Gates Foundation. I just don’t agree with your view point. Best wishes.

Parent: [Teacher], one way of demonstrating that we understand one another’s viewpoint is to restate it in our own words as I have attempted above. Apparently my understanding of your viewpoint being based on the standards alone is not complete. Would you be willing to share your research? What did you learn in speaking to the Gates Foundation? The goal of the reforms has been clearly stated as making kids “college and career ready,” or as the Governor explains it, “education for the workforce demands of the marketplace.” The reforms ensure a more coordinated and central role for state and federal government in this workforce oriented goal. Am I correctly understanding that you support that outcome?

Teacher: Yes that is correct and I think it is reasonable to believe that no matter what I share, you and I will still be of the same opinion still:) I have only replied to a few of [Representative’s] points as he is my representative and someone I have a great deal of respect for. You and I also know we could spend hours exchanging research-hours of which I do not have. I have a family, a full time teaching job and a personal life. I wish you well on your own path.

Parent: I can certainly identify with how busy you are [Teacher.] Thank you for confirming your viewpoint. I think it will be helpful to those following this thread to see more clearly both sides. As you say, I simply have a different viewpoint and value the way that education in our country was, for a long time, unique. For much of our history the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. Government-coordinated education for the workforce is an imported philosophy. Our Founding Fathers and other great thinkers were who they were because they studied the great works, not work itself. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a broadly educated and free people pursuing their own dreams works better than centrally planned education for efficiently trained workers.

Representative: … this is a good discussion. As a taxpayer, I don’t want my dollars going to public schools unless those schools are focusing on getting kids ready for jobs and the work force. Most of our country’s founders were not products of a public education system and they had different goals for their own classical education, and leisure time to pursue those goals (philosophy, government, law). I want the schools in my world to do everything they can to train the students to be ready to get a job in the modern workplace, and to expose them to those career and job skills now. Most of the skills that need to be taught in K-12 public schools to prepare students for the work force are essentially just literacy and numeracy, and those can and will continue to be taught by studying classical works (as my own kids are doing to the hilt now under Utah’s Common Core standards, based on my own personal experience reading The Scarlet Letter and other works together with them this year). But if we don’t make sure that these foundational language and math classes are aligned to the workplace and producing the skills needed in the work force, then I think we are wasting precious taxpayer dollars. By using terms such as “centrally planned economy,” many critics of Common Core make it sound like our U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by endorsing Common Core, is advocating moving our country to socialism. But of course that is not the case. Private businesses recognize that a large reason for the success and ascendancy of the United States on the world stage in the past century has been careful government planning and regulation (roads and transportation infrastructure, banking systems, stock market regulation, etc.). Central government planning is not inconsistent with free-market capitalism — in fact, I would argue it is essential for its endurance, if the U.S. wants to continue to be the leader on the world stage. For me, it is all about finding the right balance between government management and individual liberty. I think the minimal educational guidelines being implemented as Utah’s Common Core strike that proper balance and do not in any way endanger an individual’s liberties to pursue in this great country whatever she or he wishes to in life — in fact, the standards are an aid to help individuals more fully exercise and realize those individual freedoms of self-expression. Thanks for weighing in.

Parent: [Representative], I hope you, and the parents reading that last entry can recognize the false dichotomy implicit in your opening assertion. Current education reform is not about whether students should be well educated and prepared for professional success or not. The conflict is about whether that desirable goal is best achieved under local governance or if we should disregard the wisdom of history (and current federal statute) and allow for greater federal or otherwise centralized control. “Education for the workforce demands of the marketplace” does not just mean that we want our kids to be able to get a good job. It means policy, funding, programs etc. are prioritized for assessing and predicting what skills will be most useful to the workforce by the time our kids reach the workforce, and who has those skills – predictions that are notoriously inaccurate. Instead of fitting education to the aptitudes and interests of the individual, giving each his best shot, this system attempts to guide the individual to the education deemed best for the “greater common good.” The emphasis on the child as an investment of the collective, not an agent unto himself, is a principle of socialism and this, not the shortsighted endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is what liberty-minded people are criticizing. You mention your objective of finding a balance between government management and individual liberty. The bedrock principle for conservatives in identifying this balance is to only assign to the higher level of government what cannot be accomplished by a more local level. Thomas Jefferson explained it this way, “… the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.” You specifically praise the federal role in transportation infrastructure. That is a good example of something that might best be accomplished through the cooperation of states working through Congress (the body we elect to make these kinds of collective decisions, as opposed to that one club for Governors who’ve taken this role upon themselves recently.) This happens to be President Obama’s favorite example as well. [Ironically, he used it often when promoting the Stimulus which proved the catalyst for advancing these education reforms.] If I had a dollar for every speech in which he mentions “roads and bridges” (and how they’re crumbling, necessitating more spending) while touting the benevolence of an increasingly powerful and indebted federal government! It is clear that you like the standards which are under the jurisdiction of the State School Board. The rest, and the bulk of the reforms, are under the jurisdiction of the State Legislature. As an elected representative in that body I hope you’ll continue to familiarize yourself with the impact of those policies as well. Thank YOU for weighing in. It is so important to constituents to understand the positions of their representatives.

Parent again: As long winded as that was, I forgot to respond to one point you made. The founding fathers were indeed, for the most part, more fortunate in their opportunities for education because of their wealth and privilege. One notable exception is of course Benjamin Franklin, the youngest son of a mixed family that included something like 16 total siblings and step siblings. (There’s a fantastic study of a self-taught, self-made man.) What many of these men seemed to understand about the sustainability of their newly-formed Republic was that in order to have a self-governing people education had to become more than training for a trade like the privately arranged apprenticeships of the day – that the domains such as history, philosophy and law previously accessible only to the elite must be accessible to all. Our abandonment of this ideal in favor of skills rewarded in the workforce, especially over the past half-century, has resulted in our current situation where key protections of liberty established by the Constitution are systematically eroded and erased while too many sit idly by in apathy or ignorance. Meanwhile we continue to saddle the upcoming generations with the servitude of an outrageously unsustainable debt all the while professing to have their future financial success and the desire for a robust economy at heart. (We never did get a cost analysis on these reforms.)

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I want to add two things to what Alyson compiled.

1. “Combination of education with industrial production” is a direct goal, point #10, of the Communist Manifesto.. The push to align workforce with education goes directly against free agency and toward central planning. Do American legislators realize they’re enabling socialism/communism when they support “finding the right balance between government management and individual liberty?” You can’t balance the human tendency toward controlling others very easily; hence, the limitations outlined to keep the government very, very small and the people’s power big. The individual should have full control over his/her life.

2. In a book called “Free Agency: A Divine Gift,” a Utahn, David O. McKay, who was also a former teacher, wrote: “Let us, by exercising our privileges under the Constitution… Preserve our right to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, preserve the right to work when and where we choose. . . Feel free to plan and to reap without the handicap of bureaucratic interference, Devote our time, means, and life if necessary, to hold inviolate those laws which will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience.”

The wonder of individual, unfettered freedom and the absurd lie (that society needs central planners) is debunked in a great short film called “I, Pencil.” Worth watching.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PROSPERITY 2020

IT STARTS WITH EDUCATION

August 9, 2012

RE:  SUPPORT FOR COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

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

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

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

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

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

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And on and on the letter goes.

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

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

It’s scary.

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

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

His main points are these:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bipartisan Leaders Rethink Indiana’s Common Core Participation 

by Joy Pullman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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National Federation of Republican Women: Defeat Common Core   3 comments

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

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

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co-Sponsors:

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

Schools Are Sharing Private Information Via SLDS and P-20 State/Federal Systems   8 comments

Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used. –Used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.  I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs.  They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do.  And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt.  The student data is further being “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html  While John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent.  For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

But first, an interjection: I want to introduce this article: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/your-students-privacy/

I like this article because it exposes the facts plainly, that parents are unaware that their children’s information is being shared without parental permission, beyond the school, beyond the district, and even beyond the state.  It is verifiable and true.

What it means:  Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names and income, is being watched by the U.S. government via schools.

Verify for yourself: The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist:  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

   There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money.  The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.

While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community,  it can definitely hurt a child.  Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind…

These databases (State Longitudinal Database Systems, SLDS; also, P-20 and state data combinations such as the Utah Data Alliance) are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized,” according to alterations made to FERPA (Family Education Privacy Act) regulations by the Dept. of Education.

These now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the  A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates,  as well as corporate snoops (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for examples) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)

Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (behavioral qualities, dna, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf  )

This is a nightmare of Big Brother in action, except it’s not a fiction. You can verify it all on the government’s own public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/

http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf

http://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/conferences/Statsdc/2012/STATSDC2012keynote.pdf

States would not get stimulus money if they didn’t agree to build the SLDS system.

So they all agreed.  All.

I happened to ask the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a  school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.

They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply “No.”

No!

No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are and will be tracked.

I ask you, dear readers, to turn your feelings about this intrusion toward positive action.

Call your governor.

If you are from Utah, Governor Herbert is here 801 538-1000 and here: http://demo.utah.gov/governor/contact/index.html

Public feeling and individual actions are the only, only chance we have to alter the course we are currently traveling.

Salt Lake Tribune: $39M Spent On AIR High Stakes Tests (P-20, Longitudinal Database, Citizen Management)   Leave a comment

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah has decided to spend $39 million on American Institutes for Research’s version of Common Core testing.  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55349773-78/tests-state-system-students.html.csp

Here’s the website of AIR, if you want to see who they are.  http://www.air.org/reports-products/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=2154

While I feel grateful we did not go with Pearson (Sir Michael Barber) or with ACT (David Coleman) I don’t know if this is any different –the AIR group appears to be, just like Pearson and ACT, just another D.C. global-citizen indoctrination institute.

I wish we’d chosen to spend that 39 million on real blessings to our kids:  great libraries of books, wonderful basketball courts, more high quality teachers, field trips— actual learning supplies, instead of on high-stakes tests that will track and manage (and limit) our children’s futures all the way into their careers.

The AIR tests will be meshed with the tracking system (P-20) that manages children from preschool to workforce via the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that the federal government paid us almost $10 million to use.  (That contributed to the U.S. debt–  it was ARRA stimulus money).

Interstate and intra-state agencies, and also state-fed relationships will share  access to these test scores and to the citizen profiles the tests will build.

It’s a 1984-esque citizen profiling situation that can only be halted if teachers, parents and citizens stand up and say no, loudly.

 

   Remenber, the new tests and the mediocre Common Core standards are not our local will.  There’s never been a vote.  These are products of the federal and globalist will that move under the general public’s radar.

The article quoted Dr. Menlove’s reference to “federal education law”– Oh, what an example of how far off we are! What would the writers of the Constitution say about states bowing to federal laws that are clearly unconstitutional, such as those which permit federal control of state education?

I do not think that the education leaders in Utah understand that they are playing directly into the hands of those who would replace freedom and the U.S. Constitution with a Collective where the individual has no say.

Think it’s too awful to believe?

   It’s like the telephone game.  Utah’s education leaders are whispered to by the federal educational leaders, who have been whispered to by top “Education Reform” activists: Sec. Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Clinton, Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber, ACT’s David Coleman, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, Bill Gates/UNESCO, and the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Education Reform.

It is not rocket science to see where they are pushing us.

I really don’t think the Utah leaders know it.  Sadly, we all –and our children– pay for their obvious ignorance of the goals of globalist “Education Reform”.

Drumroll, please… Thursday night the Wasatch School Board will unveil yet another FERPA policy   Leave a comment

Dear Wasatch School Board,

I may pull out my hair and run screaming from the room if it is apparent in this Thursday’s school board meeting –as it was at the last meeting– that the board has not done any meaningful research on the facts concerning federal FERPA, and that the board remains Constitutionally ignorant, believing that the federal government has more authority than the state and local government and local district/parents have, over our own children and our children’s private data.

To be very, very clear:  The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that new federal FERPA altered regulations make it no longer a necessity for a school to get student’s or parent’s consent before sharing personally identifiable information; that action has been reduced to OPTIONAL by the Dept. of Education. There is no parental consent requirement nor any meaningful privacy regulation governing schools anymore, from the federal level.

Wasatch School District has a moral obligation to do better than the federal law is doing.

Even the USOE’s Brenda Hales gave out a paper on FERPA  that shows (page 3) that the federal FERPA uses “permissive” language.  This means we need to fortify our local privacy policy because the federal FERPA would permit almost anyone access to students’ private, identifiable information.

I highly recommend that the new district policy should state that parents will always be asked before the district shares any personally identifiable information with anyone outside the district.

Christel Swasey

——————————————————————————————-

By the way, blog readers:  if you live in the Heber Valley and have not yet written an email to the board for this 30-day public comment period, please do.  Yes, I know they ignored us the last time, but Vicci Gappmayer retired last month and James Judd, her replacement, is much more reasonable and open to public input.  Email him at james.judd@wasatch.edu .

Governor Herbert: Please Do Not Re-Appoint Leslie Castle to Utah’s State School Board   6 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

As you are in the process of selecting some members of the State School Board, I ask that you do not select Leslie Castle for another term, based on two things:

1.  She does not know what the U.S. Constitution is about, nor does she value freedom for Utah. She fails to stand up against federal encroachments in Utah’s educational system.

2. She has behaved  dishonestly and rudely in her position as school board member toward a teacher –me– who spoke out against Common Core.

Evidence for #1:

On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Leslie Castle wrote:

I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality… Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality…  your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards…

 On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM, Christel S <212christel@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Leslie,

The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.

If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term.  Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and  establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over.  It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational  and other matters.

A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.

… “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution.  The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core)…

Equality can never be mandated…  Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.

…I am not “campaigning for ideology over standards.”  I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change.  It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.”  Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.

The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted.  Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.

In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative.  We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.

I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as campaigning for idealogy.  I want tangible answers.  I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that.  I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah.  Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it.  I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone.  I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.

That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.

Christel

Evidence for #2 that Leslie Castle has been rude and unprofessional:

When Leslie Castle received the 4-page, well-referenced rebuttal I had written to the State Office of Education’s “fact v. fiction” flier about Common Core, http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2012/04/  Ms. Castle did not defend the flier nor answer any question I’d raised about that flier being unreferenced or misleading.

Instead, she began a personal attack.  She said that I was not to be believed because I was lying about being a teacher.   I asked her to check my references but she did not.  She spread her lie about me to the whole school board.  (see below)  She received multiple letters from other people who were teachers where I taught, or parents of a student I’d taught, to rebut her lies.  She never apologized for her errors or tried to clean up the damage.  The board never reprimanded her in any way.

I will paste one of her emails here; I’m willing to share them all, if anyone wants to read them.

Ms. Castle wrote this to the board and to me:

“…you have been deceptive, because you were caught and because you remain deceptive in this email. You create diversions to mislead others from the truth, as demonstrated by the misleading about your “teaching” experience. You ask me if it matters if you were nothing but a mom. I would ask you the same question. You tell me. If it doesn’t matter, why would you inflate your credentials? Why would you represent yourself as being a “teacher” at Odyssey when in fact, you weren’t? Why would you represent yourself as having “taught” at Odyssey for a year, when in fact, you did not. Nor at Renaissance Academy. You distract from the truth by telling me to call this person or that person to ask if you were the “best” teacher.  But really Christel, isn’t it all about hiding the fact that you fibbed about yourself and what your “credentials” were. I don’t think anyone has to be a teacher to be a credible voice in this discussion but I don’t think a person can be openly, continually deceptive and expect to be taken seriously. To make matters even more shameful, you have pounded the State Board and USOE about OUR motives and credentials, all the while pretending and posturing self-righteously in front of audiences and in flurries of emails copied to everyone you think would listen.

In reality, you are the one who is to be mistrusted and doubted. You are the one who is committing mischief and ill-will. You are the one who is self-serving and silly. And, you have the audacity to accuse me or anyone else at USOE or USBE of being less than helpful and constructive. You remain arrogant even in your humiliation.

Shame on you. I would suggest you find another target for your unjustified hostility and shenanigans and stop wasting everyone’s time with your pretext. Notice I have copied this to the State Board and some of the USOE.   Leslie Brooks Castle ”

TEACHER AND PARENT DEFENSE OF CHRISTEL SWASEY:

Date: Sun, May 6, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER!!!

My name is Audra Call (formerly Audra Adams) and I have worked at Odyssey as a teacher since it began.  Christel Swasey, otherwise known as Christel Lane taught 3rd grade with me at Odyssey Charter School.  The former principal Nyman Brooks, Nikki Carpenter, Brooke Garrett, and Robyn Merill (who is now at Odyssey) can all verify this fact.

I am very disappointed and quite honestly furious about the way Christel Lane Swasey has been treated by Leslie Castle and others at USOE.  Remember the Bill of Rights guarantees free speech.  Whether or not people agree with Christel, all should be professional and respectful towards her as she is towards others.

 I am so grateful to Christel for the research and her insurmountable sacrifice of time that she has spent in educating teachers and parents about the realities of the Common Core initiative. 

I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until I began reading the research myself.  My freedom of choice is of the greatest importance and will always be.  I will always be against anything that is unconstitutional and that which takes our rights and freedoms away. 

Our founding fathers would be ashamed right now if they were still alive to see what was happening.  I hope Leslie Castle gets a severe reprimand for her demeaning words and lies.

Thank you,

Audra Call

From: Karin J

Date: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER

My name is  Karin Jaccard.  My children attended Odyssey Charter School for five years.  One of my sons had Christel Lane as his third grade teacher. Yes, Christel IS a teacher, and a good one.  Since then she remarried, and is now Christel Lane Swasey.

I find it disturbing that members of the STATE school board degrade themselves to such low tactics as trying to defame the reputation of a concerned teacher and citizen.  (When you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger?)  Ironically, her careful study, logical conclusions, and clear warning message would be no less valid, were she not a teacher.

I believe Utah is at a critical point in it’s history.  Ironically, as elected members of the school board, you have the power to free or enslave the citizens and children ( future citizens)  of our state.   Will you bend to powerful pressure? Will you value the skin you have in the game over the freedom and privacy of those you serve? I hope not.

I hope you find the mental strength to plow through all the information your are presented with.  I hope you have the clarity of mind to understand the principles, values and freedoms that are at stake.  I pray you have the courage to make correct decisions, regardless of personal consequences.

Sincerely,

Karin Jaccard

Governor, as far as I know, none of these letters were answered by any member of the school board.   I do not want to fight publicly with Leslie Castle. I feel this little drama takes away from the real issue, which is that federal encroachments have totally taken over Utah’s educational system and freedom, in the guise of raising standards under the Common Core Initiative.   Yet I feel I must direct attention to Leslie Castle’s emails because it is now time to make important changes in the state school board membership.

Thank you for your consideration  and time.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

Cutting Ties With Common Core is a Win-Win for Utah   Leave a comment

I am still learning about Common Core and its financial, political and educational complications. But I won’t let what I don’t know stop me from asking questions about what I do know.

The burden of proof is on the Utah State Office of Education, which has not proved its claims (creating college readiness, allowing local control, ensuring high and honorable standards, being free of federal intrusions, no privacy loss for kids) with legally binding documents we can have faith in. 

Sorry, pretty words about college readiness are not enough. Show me some facts.

What I see in the legally binding documents I’ve studied, and that others like me have studied, leads us to believe cutting ties to the Common Core Initiative is a win-win for all Utahns.

1. Taxpayers win when we cut ties to Common Core.  Utah can escape the expensive mandates of the SBAC and can demand genuine congressional relief from both NCLB and Common Core.  Utah does not have to accept a NCLB waiver nor the Common Core fetters.   See what Florida Senator Marco Rubio had to say.

Here is Senator Rubio’s letter to the federal Dept. of Education on the subject:  http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=8aab326e-4051-4545-9ae2-76ca29434eb8

Here’s an “Exit Strategy” report for governors like Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and (hopefully) Governor Herbert of Utah, who want to escape Common Core. From the Heritage Foundation:

http://www.themoralliberal.com/2012/02/11/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states/

Also from Heritage:

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/04/09/district-nclb-waivers-an-unsettling-pact-with-washington/

If you don’t think Common Core costs Utah money, read how California is struggling to raise taxes now to pay for expensive Common Core implementations.  http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/california-wants-a-tax-hike-to-pay-for-common-core/

And read the cost analysis done by the Pioneer Institute on the outrageous costs to states of implementing Common Core.  This is money we’ll have to come up with, on top of our educational needs that we’ve always had, before Common Core hit. http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf

We got zero money for the Race to the Top application.  That’s a blessing because we don’t have to give it back when we sever ties with Common Core.

Utah also got no money from the SBAC’s Race to the Top application, but we are still bound by the terms of that grant so long as we stay in the SBAC, because the SBAC did get money to make the test. Utah belongs to the SBAC now.  We need to cut ties with SBAC for that reason as well as for the reason that they can boss us around as a consortium and, when push comes to shove, Washington State gets to tell Utah what to teach Utah kids.  WA is the fiscal agent and lead state in the consortium. That’s just plain silly, giving WA power over Utah.

Where is the law that says:  In order for states to receive educational funding (our own tax dollars returned to us) we must obey federal mandates over education?  This is absurd.  The Executive Branch has no authority over educational decision making although it is trying illegally to use intimidation tactics to do so.  This must be stopped by you and me and Senator Rubio and others like him, including our local school board and state leaders.

2.  Teachers win when we cut ties to Common Core.  The teachers who dislike Common Core are mostly afraid to say so out loud because they fear losing their jobs or being seen as “not team players.” But the teachers who love Common Core are very vocal about it.  They even say things like, “Don’t take this program away from us, now that Utah’s finally gotten higher standards.”  Well, good news, folks!  Anything you like about Common Core is in the public domain and you can use it.  Anything you don’t like, we can delete from Utah’s standards.  Utah can genuinely raise standards across the bar, setting the assertions aside that CCSS standards are experimental or still too low, http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100520_emperors_new_clothes.pdf  and

http://educatingourselves.blogs.deseretnews.com/2012/04/23/making-standards-and-sausages/

–and we can retain our rights of freedom and flexibility in Utah school districts to determine what local standards should be.

3.  Parents win when we cut ties to Common Core.  Parents, upset about the privacy laws being overturned by school boards all over Utah to make way for Common Core’s intrusive data-collecting goals, can reclaim their rights to determine who gets to study their kids’ psychological, physical, and academic characteristics.

And parents worry about the fact that the federal CCSS standards can be changed at any time (but not by locals) to include any horrific standard unapproved by Utahns. These parents will be happy when we cut ties to Common Core and the SBAC tests, because Utah will reclaim its right to set its own educational standards according to local values and high, flexible academic aspirations.

 

We must take a stand.   No one else will do it for Heber or for any other Utah town; our governor is indecisive so far, and our State School Board is totally pro-common core– led by Larry Shumway, who sits on three Common Core boards outside of his job as Utah State Superintendent of Schools.  We each, locally, must say no to each one of these federal intrusions.

Many people realize that the very existence of the federal Dept. of Education is constitutionally illegal and a constitutional president should and would disband this entity.

It’s funny; I wrote a letter to the U.S. Dept of Ed. recently and they responded with a form letter that quotes the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, as a reason for not replying.  It is so ironic.

The feds know they have no Constitutional right to say or do anything about state education, and they hide behind that fact when they don’t want to answer difficult questions about the Common Core Initiative, which they promoted, and which they control on the testing and data collection end.

They send people like me to the NGA or CCSSO to get questions answered, even though we know the NGA and the CCSSO are Common Core promotional agencies,  funded by the federal Dept of Education.

The Dept. of Education has paid others to do what it is not legally permitted to do.  It’s a scam; all of Common Core is a scam to try to persuade us to allow the federal arm to take over our state educational system.  We are too smart for that.  Stand up and say, “We see this for what it is and you can’t boss us around.”  We need to call their bluff.  The Emperor (of Common Core) Is Wearing No Clothes.  There is nothing in it for Utah.

Without Common Core, we can still have high standards and be the masters of them.  We can be free.  We lose no money, we lose no power to raise standards, we lose no freedoms, we don’t have to do the expensive mandates of the SBAC and Common Core;  it’s a win-win for us to cut ties with CC and SBAC.

I wish people would realize that it’s not just about standards; it’s about who got to set them, who has authority to amend them, and who ends up paying for their huge implementation costs.  It’s about freedom and self-determination.

 

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