Archive for the ‘Governor Herbert’ Tag

Open Letter to Utah Leadership: On Informed Consent in Science Education   5 comments

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Dear Superintendent Dickson, State School Board, Diana Suddreth, Rich Nye, Governor Herbert, Tami Pyfer, and Legislators,

To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?

I’m writing to clarify whether Utah has or has not adopted controversial, common science standards (NGSS) and whether we are using those non-approved standards in current or future tests for K-12 children, without proper vetting and fully informed public consent.

I’m trying to reconcile promises –made by multiple superintendents to the public and to the legislature, that common science standards would never happen because of political and “philosophical differences”– with the attached PDF from the board’s website. It says that a science MOU in common with other states is set to be approved this Wednesday.

Utah’s voting taxpayers strongly oppose common, nationalized standards; some because of content, and some because  nationalized programs work against intellectual freedom and local control.

Anti-Common standards sentiment was powerfully illustrated in Utah’s last gubernatorial election, when Governor Herbert was booed at conventions for his promotion of Common Core, and was beaten when GOP delegates voted. He very narrowly won the final vote after changing his speeches with sudden, fervent promises to repeal the Common Core.

Those promises lacked integrity and evaporated after the election, but the illustration makes clear that Utahans want the common standards gone.

It can be alarming when superintendents make promises that common science standards will never take over here, when no vote to approve common NGSS standards has happened, and yet the public can see that someone is furtively, gradually, replacing Utah’s traditional science standards with controversial NGSS standards.

On the Board’s PDF, we see that Utah is set to approve use of a common test bank for students’ science tests. Since tests are based on standards, and since Utah’s official policy is that we have our own science standards, not the common NGSS standards, how can Utah share a test bank with many other states?  Without using the common science standards that they use, or without making those states use our science standards, it doesn’t make sense.

Please clarify.

What makes sense, but won’t likely be admitted, is that the current Superintendent and her co-workers personally buy into the philosophies of the ed tech elite, inspired by the Pearson- Microsoft-Gates cartel. They admire Gates and NGSS.  Unlike many of their fellow Utahns, they love the common standards, so they are using their positions of power to guide the state in the direction to which they personally subscribe, against the will and without the knowledge of the people.

Shouldn’t these moves be transparent to the public?  It seems our top education officers give lip service to local control, but in actions, create the very opposite.

Students and taxpayers who value liberty and classic education standards deserve informed consent and open debate, prior to Utah’s use of any kind of additional common standards.

“Consent of the governed” is a crucial founding concept, one of the best phrases ever penned, one I hope this group will ponder before moving further away from local control.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove

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Miracles Do Happen: Governor and Chair of Common Core Organization (NGA) Rejects Common Core   7 comments

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-Utah

Governor Herbert surprised a lot of people this week, including me.

After spending the past six years promoting,  marketing, and providing workforce alignment strategies to serve Common Core, and after rising to the throne of Common Core’s organization, National Governors Association, to become its chair, and after going out of his way to have the Utah Attorney General provide “proof” that Common Core supposedly represented local control– after all of this,  Herbert has now turned his back on the Common Core and has written a letter to the State School Board, asking it to move away from Common Core.

The media in Utah say that they are “puzzled” and confused.  Not me.  I’m doing the happy dance!

 

happy dance dog

Regardless of the Governor’s motives in this election year, regardless of the possibility that Utah might just endure a wasteful rebranding effort that could redeliver Common Core under a new name (as many other states, have done and done and done) –I still see this letter from Governor Herbert as a home run for the freedom team.

Read it.  The letter admits that Common Core is not an example of local control, that it is the federal will, and that it damages local control –of testing, data collection, curriculum and instruction.

The letter asks the board to keep these principles in mind while it moves away from Common Core: 1) maintain high academic standards; 2) keep the federal government out of educational decisions in Utah; and 3) preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection and instruction.

It also says, “Just as important as the actual educational standards is the process by which we arrive at those standards.  This should be a Utah process with public comment and discourse.”  It continues, “…[W]e all understand the shortcomings of a one-size-fits-all approach. It is imperative that any new standards are flexible enough to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts …I believe that our teachers need more freedom to be creative in the classroom.

Well, those words are a surprise, and a miracle, to me.

Some people are suspicious because the governor’s in the middle of his re-election campaign, while his challenger, has been extremely successful with voting delegates because of his staunchly anti-Common Core stand.  I was there when the governor got booed by a crowd over well over 1,000 delegates at the Utah County GOP Convention last month, when he spoke about Common Core; I know he is under campaign pressure, but he didn’t have to do this!   He knew it would make him look like a fair-weather politician. He knew that most of those who are already voting for the more-conservative Johnson won’t change their minds and that those who already support Herbert won’t likely change their minds.  So why did he really do it?

Maybe a key to why the governor wrote this letter is in its closing paragraph.  His own children and grandchildren do not like the Common Core. The letter says, “I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had…”

What grandfather can stand up to his own grandchildren’s lobbying efforts against the Common Core?  So he caved, in a good way.  He’s publically admitted that Common Core is academically miserable and politically for socialists.

I cannot see this letter as anything but great news.

So what’s next?  What will the Utah State School Board do?

I don’t think it can get away with yet another meaningless rebranding job. The now-somewhat-savvy Utah public won’t stand for that, knowing what so recently happened to Utah’s previously-good science standards, or knowing what happened when Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, Tennessee, Indiana, and other states passed Common Core repeal laws that resulted in nothing better, but common core 2.0 (under new names).  To the dismay of those who actually wanted freedom and autonomy beyond the federal 15% no-change alignment “suggestion”, better standards didn’t actually mean, better standards.  But we have the advantage of other states’ errors to learn from today.

The letter didn’t spell out every problem with education reform.  For example, it didn’t say, “Let’s finally permit parents to opt children out of the federal/state data data monitoring system SLDS“.

But I don’t see the federal SLDS (Utah’s federally-provided student data mining system, which came to Utah alongside Common Core) very much longer reading “long life and happiness” in its fortune cookie.  Why?  Too many Utahns are aware that common data standards and common academic standards were a package deal from day one.  Utah legislators recently passed bills that  took protective action on student data privacy– taking a stand against the opposition’s  national data-mining-and-monitoring movement.  The governor will not be able to sidestep SLDS, even if he wants to.   SLDS didn’t need to be in the letter because it’s on everyone’s mind.

freedom of speech

 

One of my happiest thoughts, after seeing this letter,  has been thinking about the countless Utah teachers and administrators who have previously not felt free to speak their minds about Common Core.  The governor’s letter, in many ways (and unintentionally, perhaps) helps to reclaim freedom of speech to Utah educators.  While educators opposed to Common Core have mostly remained quiet or anonymous, some of those who have not, have been bypassed, mistreated or branded as “insubordinate” for speaking out– for refusing to pretend to like Common Core –either academically or politically.  Some have even been pushed to resign.

But now, if even the reigning governor is saying he’s not happy about the Common Core –academically nor in terms of lost local control– then finally,  perhaps, any teacher or principal can pipe up, too.

So, this letter is very good news.

Thanks, Governor Herbert.

 

 

HELP! The Miracle Got UnMiracled: HB164, voted down, is up for another vote. #PARENTALRIGHTS   12 comments

I was just going to the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook Page to share my “Thank You” letter with my friends. (I’d written a letter to thank the representatives who had voted no on HB164, the bill that would cause any child to fail a class whose parents opted him/her out of the SAGE/AIR (invalidated, common core, federally aligned tests).

But when I got to that Facebook page, my friend Wendell had posted a link to a new version of HB164.

The monster is back.

I don’t understand how!

I don’t understand how an ugly, evil, unconstitutional bill like HB164, after having attracted a packed room of angry parents last week, and after having been voted down by a vote of the legislative committee, can now be back for another vote.

I pray those nay-voting  legislators will see lines 76-79 and will say, “No. I still do not like Green Eggs And Ham!”

But who knows?

Who’s being manipulated, threatened, or bribed at the legislative level– and by whom?

Who knows?  There’s no investigative reporting being done in Utah by any newspaper on the subject of education industry corruption, or the education industry’s machinations at the Utah State Office of Education.

There should be. The education sales industry is one of the biggest, most money-making industries in the world.  And Utahns are probably the most trusting, gullible, and least fact-checking groups of people on earth.

The facts are stacked against the trusting little guy.

The governor of Utah is the president of the National Governors’ Association, the group that co-created and copyrighted the Common Core and co-promoted the Common Educational Data Standards  movement.  To deliver that product, Utah’s Governor Herbert himself created Prosperity 2020, a movement that aligned Utah businesses and chambers of commerce with the common core and common data mining projects now in pre-K-12 and higher ed.

From Governor Herbert’s point of view– and especially in an election year, when his opponent, Jonathan Johnson of Overstock, is openly fighting Common Core and common data mining projects– while Gov. Herbert’s supporters, the Chambers of Commerce, etc., are making so much money on this monstrosity (at the expense of real, good education and student privacy, of course)– from that point of view, HB164 HAS TO PASS.

It has to pass, for the monster to live.

If it doesn’t pass, then that lynchpin of power and control doesn’t get settled in to take over; if people can opt out of the data collection tests, then the data isn’t usable, and the whole monster feeds on data, data, and more data.  Nonconsensually gathered, private, individually-custom built, student longitudinal data.  The State Longitudinal Database System is the mechanism.  Schools feed it every day.

If the testing opt-out movement seriously catches on fire here in our state, then SO MANY ENTITIES LOSE MONEY AND POWER.  Governor Herbert is one.  The Chambers of Commerce are another.  School Improvement Network is another.

Even the federal government will be hit hard, if enough parents and students opt out, since federal ESSA, passed last December, calls for 95% of all students taking the same federally aligned tests and giving up that student data for “user profiling” of all citizens.

The same God who put children first in His heart and in his kingdom said that you cannot serve God and mammon. In this state, a supposedly religious state, it is sad to say that there is a tremendous amount of top-level USOE and Chamber of Commerce hypocrisy going on.

Children are being put last. Money is being put first.

Ironically, and evilly, the money is being made under the banner of making children’s lives better.  That’s all Prosperity 2020 ever talks about– the future of the economy, for the children.

But tell me this: how does any of this bless a child, when a child is, under HB164, forced to take a test and is forced to expose his or her private data in a user profile that in no way blesses him or her, but benefits the central planners?

Is it right?  Children, forced to take a test, despite parental reservations.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the test has never been validated.  Forced to take a test, despite the fact that the standards upon which the test rests, are experimental and are far from the time-tested, classic standards for real education that their parents knew.

Forced.  Forced.  Forced.

Think about this.

If HB164 passes,  when that now-much-smaller group of non-test takers actually fails classes, when the first group of normally A+ children fail full grades in school –because their parents stood up, using their consciences and Constitutional freedoms, against this monstrosity, because that will happen—how will Governor Herbert look into our eyes and shake our hands at the local Rodeo?

How?

Effective Sept 2015: Feds Remove State Authority Over Special Needs Students and Redefine Who is Special Needs   16 comments

jakell

Pray that our politicians and superintendents are interested enough, and honest enough, to see through the Department of Ed, and kick to the curb its lies and false reassignments of authority that hurt our children and our Constitutional power.

Jakell Sullivan, a beautiful Utah mom who happens to be one of the most dedicated  researchers on education reform and data privacy breaches that I know, has pointed out that this week, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan posted a “final rule” on the No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

(Thank you, Jakell.)

The final rule will move us from the “phasing out” phase to the “no more state authority at all” phase of the federalization of state education over “disadvantaged” children, which is defined ever more loosely, and can almost mean “any child”.

Some may dismiss this “final rule” from Secretary Duncan as not affecting them, as only harming those who have a  handicapped or otherwise disadvantaged child.  But think twice.  Because in the new, upside down, 2+2=5 world of Common Core, children who don’t score high on Common Core tests, may now be considered “disadvantaged”. I imagine that in the future, even children who opt out of testing may be labeled as disadvantaged by failing to achieve high scores on these tests.  (To clarify: opting out of testing is still a great choice, and still should be thoughtfully considered by every parent.  Utah State Superintendent Smith recently said: “The most important legal policy…. by constitution, and by what I consider to be natural rights, parents have the right to opt out of anything! They don’t need permission. They don’t need to fill out a form. They don’t need to seek someone else’s response.”)

Because so many children showed awful performance on the rammed-down-our-throats, ready or not, Common Core assessments, many children are labeled as low scorers, or  as “special needs”.  But for those children who actually are “special needs” and did not take the test, because there was an alternate test, those happy days are over.  The Dept. of Ed mandates that now, even handicapped people, take the same test.  No mercy, no wiggle room, no local judgment by caring professionals or parents.  (Except for the option to opt out.)

The final rule summary from Secretary Duncan is found here (and the Dept. invites comments). It says:

The Secretary amends the regulations governing title I… (ESEA) … to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments…  effective September 21, 2015.

Less than a year ago, Secretary Duncan told us he was aiming to “phase out state authority” over these special needs assessments.  At that time, we still had time to fight this.  At that time, there was still a chance that Congress would refuse to reauthorize No Child Left Behind (aka ESEA).  Now, children have been taking (and generally bombing) Common Core tests.  Meanwhile, Congress gave Duncan the power he craved when it passed ESEA’s reauthorization –and other education bills that shouldn’t have passed– this summer.

Jakell Sullivan said, “Parents, be warned. Most kids will soon fall into the “disadvantaged” category because it now means not meeting Common Core benchmarks. This is how they’ll make most schools Title 1 schools–federalization complete.”

She explained that this will affect all states (both the states that did and states that didn’t offer alternative assessments for special needs students) because, “The assessments for “disadvantaged” children will now be Common Core assessments… whether it’s the federalized NAEP, or something else the Feds require… and the formative online assessments will also be required to help teachers change their instruction practices to “help” these children.”

Another Utah mom, Morgan Olsen, speaking to the fact that these electronic assessments are a main source of psychological and academic data mining about individual students, said: “I find this particularly concerning because all data collected by schools is legally classified as education data and doesn’t have the same protections as health data collected by a private doctor. And because the USOE discussed using the State Data System to collect and store this type of information in its guidance counselor’s guide a few years back.” (Links added).

To summarize the reason for this “final ruling,” Sullivan said:

“Think about it like this: it sets the framework for all the schools to be turned into Arne’s much-desired community centers. The Feds already have the full-service community center bill in Congress, SB1787. This regulation change helps them force more schools quickly into transformation phase once that [bill S1787] passes (or even if it doesn’t). [Links added.]

She said:

“Think of the federal objectives this way:

“1. Get every child into federalized assessments (no State can determine an alternate path now)

2. Liberalize what it means to be “disadvantaged”,( ie; they’ll make it so anything they want can meet their disadvantaged criteria, and schools will fall for the federal money)

3. Hold teachers and schools accountable to “make” every child college-and-career ready, (ie; “meeting 21st Century Skills”)

4. When teachers and schools fail, require teacher instructional changes and require that the school becomes a full-service community center with wrap-around services for mental health, medical, etc.”

Utah, we need to stop holding hands with the Department of Education and recognize it as an enemy– an enemy  to autonomy, to parental control, to teacher judgment, to the U.S. Constitution’s protections, to individual privacy, and to true education.

Please, if you are reading this, call someone. Write something.  Email or tweet or get an appointment with your Governor or your State Superintendent.  Small ripples can cross large bodies of water.

Sometimes we “Nice” people must shake off our Hobbit-like niceness to detect and expose real and dangerous lies, worrying less about whether we may be perceived as “Nice” and more about how fast the power to direct the lives of our own children is being robbed by the thieves and enemies of Constitutional freedom.

I am standing here, calling the U.S. Department of Education a granddaddy of lies and unconstitutional actions.

That they are lies is indisputable.  Check the links.  Read your U.S. Constitution.

arne

A SHORT LIST OF (RECENT) LIES FROM THE U.S. DEPT OF EDUCATION– BASED ON DUNCAN’S “FINAL RULE” FROM ESEA REAUTHORIZATION AND ON S1787, A BILL NOW SITTING IN CONGRESS:

–That federalizing education (“phasing out the authority of states”)– so that states will lack authority to define who is and who isn’t “special needs” or disadvantaged– is good, and is constitutionally legitimate;

–That states have lost their constitutional authority to give alternative tests to special needs children;

–That Duncan, making a state-and-school-authority-robbing “final rule,” is a constitutionally legitimate act, in harmony with common sense and parental/voter will.

–That S1787’s shifting of the center of a child’s universe away from home/church, toward government school as its center, is a legitimate goal and activity for the federal or state government;

—That forcing physically and mentally handicapped children to conform to the same curriculum and testing is a good plan;

—That even genius children and even mentally handicapped children will benefit when the same curriculum is mandated for all; as when the White House writes: “Including students with disabilities in more accessible general assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards promotes high expectations for students with disabilities, ensures that they will have access to grade-level content, and supports high-quality instruction designed to enable students with disabilities to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum—that is, the same curriculum as for nondisabled students.”

These are a few lies.  There are more.

 

Stop the Bleeding: Governor Herbert’s and Rep. Bramble’s Expanding Roles Rob Voters of Any Influence   6 comments

herbert

 

Some of us have been asking Utah’s Governor Herbert to get Utah out of the NGA –National Governors Association– for years, on grounds of NGA’s unconstitutional national governing policies. But Herbert didn’t listen, nor did he quit NGA; in fact, he will ascend to its top throne –as Chairman of the National Governors Association— this summer.

People might think it could not possibly matter one way or another.  But think about it.

We didn’t elect NGA’s huge membership or staff.  We can’t fire anyone at NGA.  NGA is not a representative Congress.  NGA is not a public institution– it’s a private trade group that happens to have an official-sounding name.  That name confuses people.

So, as a private club, it’s not subject to transparency laws.  It doesn’t even have to allow investigators or media in to the closed-door meetings.  No citizen can vote to change what NGA does.  Governors can not even vote to change NGA, if they aren’t NGA members, which some very smart governors choose not to be.   Last time I checked, the governors of South Carolina, Texas, Maine, Alabama, and Indiana were staunchly determined never to join the NGA, or had joined and quit.  Yet NGA aims to make binding national policies without due process of representation — and it has already done so, in the case of Common Core, for example.

NGA is free to exist, as a private group, just like anyone.  But as a national governing body, no.  That’s unconstitutional.

Ask yourself:  will the Governor be representing Utah’s interests to the NGA, or the NGA’s interests to Utah?  In all the years he’s been a member of NGA, he’s always chosen to do what NGA asks of him.  What does that mean to us?  What happens when the goals and hopes of so many Utahns– for  greater educational liberty and local autonomy— stand in direct conflict with the history and goals of the National Governors Association?  Where is any recourse?  Where’s citizen access to NGA?

And that’s not all.  Yesterday, we saw our governor fighting to expand his job description here in Utah, too.  As the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune each discussed or reported yesterday, the Governor’s plan was (thankfully) rejected by the Utah State Board of Education after the Governor’s invited the board to join him in his call for FEDERAL legislation identifying the governor as a “key” partner in education.  Thank you, State Board, for having a spine and saying no.

The Utah Constitution says that the elected school board should hold the reins, but the NGA wants to change that situation– here and in every state– so that the NGA can assume a role as a national governing body over education.  This is bad.  This is serious.

Just as bad:  Utah Representative Curt Bramble, this year, becomes president of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) another unaccountable-to-voters private club that, like NGA, we can accurately describe as another “aiming-to-sit-in-the-Congressional-driver’s-seat” club. In fact, Bramble admitted that his private NCSL group aims to take over the role of Congress:

“Congress has been totally ineffective. They can’t seem to find agreements on both sides of the aisle to do anything, from budget to deficit reduction, immigration, marketplace fairness. You can look down a litany of issues where the states, the 50 laboratories of democracy, are finding ways to come forward with strong, bipartisan support for various polices.”

These organizations distort voters’ rights in our Constitutionally-built nation.  The Constitution gives individual states the right to govern education.  It also gives a few Utahns, elected to represent us in D.C., strong federal roles; so voters can have real influence at both the state and national decision-making levels, if we maintain the roles of the Constitution.  This new blurring trend, pushing Governors or state legislators into pseudo-federal roles, robs us of true representation and has no business in America.

 

Submit Questions: Governor Herbert to Answer Questions Tonight on KBYU TV   2 comments

herbert

 

 

Tonight, Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert will take questions on KBYU TV.   The public may submit questions via Twitter, Facebook, phone or email.  askeleven@byu.edu is the email address.  Click here for additional ways to submit questions.

Feel free to use my questions in your own words if you like.

 

1.  Will you veto SB 235 the school turnaround bill now that you’ve received so much input, including official open letters asking you to do so from the unanimous boards of some Utah school districts, from the UEA and from Utahns Against Common Core? Why or why not?

2. We know that your initiative, Prosperity 2020 is aimed at improving the economy of Utah. Can you explain how it differs from China’s economic centralization of schools linked with the economy?

3. Why are you supporting the ban on citizens being allowed to burn wood in the their homes?

4. What influence do Utah citizens have in the National Governor’s Association; in other words, how does the Governor’s membership in NGA benefit Utah citizens’ constitutional rights to local autonomy?

5. Last year, you led a study of the new national standards used in Utah known as Common Core; critics said your study failed to address the governance and local control of the standards. Would you be willing to revisit this issue in more depth? Why or why not?

6. What is Utah’s State Longitudinal Database System, and how does it benefit individuals and families?

7. Some parents are calling for an opt out for the State Longitudinal Database System. Would you support giving parents this liberty? Why or why not?

8. Would you consider following the example of many other states in eliminating the income tax? Why or why not?

No School Turnaround: Unanimous Board Veto Request from Utah’s Largest School District – to Gov Herbert   2 comments

alpine page one veto

alpine page two veto

For  documented articles about why school turnaround is far from an innocuous concept, please read this and this.

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