Archive for the ‘Governor Herbert’ Tag

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

Screenshot_2017-12-30-11-26-28

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

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.

Utah Governor: Please Veto SB 235. Please Pass HB 360   1 comment

american mom field

 

The State School Board of Utah meets tomorrow and will discuss SB 235 (bad bill) and HB 360 (great bill).  They apparently want the good one vetoed.  Too much liberty for teachers; too much distance between Utah and Common Core.  It’s an open meeting; come and see.

The board doesn’t like this freedom-saving bill.  But the Utah legislature did like it; HB 360 passed both houses and should be signed into law by the governor next week.    Unless he vetoes, swayed by the school board…

Please email them:  Board@schools.utah.gov

 

Dear State School Board,

I want to give input on two bills that you will be recommending for veto or signing to our governor.

  • HB 360 is a good bill for teachers’ autonomy, parental input and local control.  Please do not ask for a veto.  This is a good, constitutional bill.  Parents and teachers want autonomy and this bill creates space for it.  I see no reason to veto this bill.  If this board does recommend a veto, I would like to know why each board member voted as he/she did on the issue.
  • SB 235, on the other hand, is a terrible bill that punishes schools with unvalid labels of “failing” based on the controversial SAGE tests and on an unfair bell curve, so that some are forced to failregardless; it punishes schools with high parental opt-out rates and falsely labels them “failing” and then it forces these “failing” schools to take an “expert” to create “turnaround” that will likely be based on the Obama/Gates Turnaround Model.
For detailed, annotated research on SB 235, see two articles:
1.  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/utah-legislature-adopts-obamas-model-for-turnaround-schools/
2.  http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sb235-effectively-federalized-utahs-education-system-and-federalization-is-anti-family/
Please consider these important bills very, very carefully before you make recommendations to our Governor.
Christel Swasey

—————————————————————–

Here’s the link for Governor Herbert’s electronic messages to ask for that SB 235 veto:    http://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/

Here are the Utah Representatives.  Ask them to contact the Governor too:  (write more than just your own rep.)

District Representative Party Counties Represented Contact Info
1 Sandall, Scott D. R Box Elder, Cache ssandall@le.utah.gov
435-279-7551
2 Lifferth, David E. R Utah dlifferth@le.utah.gov
801-358-9124
3 Draxler, Jack R. R Cache jdraxler@le.utah.gov
435-752-1488
4 Redd, Edward H. R Cache eredd@le.utah.gov
435-760-3177
5 Webb, R. Curt R Cache curtwebb@le.utah.gov
435-753-0215
6 Anderegg, Jacob L. R Utah janderegg@le.utah.gov
801-901-3580
7 Fawson, Justin L. R Weber justinfawson@le.utah.gov
801-781-0016
8 Froerer, Gage R Weber gfroerer@le.utah.gov
801-391-4233
9 Peterson, Jeremy A. R Weber jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
801-390-1480
10 Pitcher, Dixon M. R Weber dpitcher@le.utah.gov
801-710-9150
11 Dee, Brad L. R Davis, Weber bdee@le.utah.gov
801-479-5495
12 Schultz, Mike R Davis, Weber mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
801-859-7713
13 Ray, Paul R Davis pray@le.utah.gov
801-725-2719
14 Oda, Curtis R Davis coda@le.utah.gov
801-725-0277
15 Wilson, Brad R. R Davis bradwilson@le.utah.gov
801-425-1028
16 Handy, Stephen G. R Davis stevehandy@le.utah.gov
801-979-8711
17 Barlow, Stewart R Davis sbarlow@le.utah.gov
801-289-6699
18 Hawkes, Timothy D. R Davis thawkes@le.utah.gov
801-294-4494
19 Ward, Raymond P. R Davis rayward@le.utah.gov
801-440-8765
20 Edwards, Rebecca P. R Davis beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
801-554-1968
21 Sagers, Douglas V. R Tooele dougsagers@le.utah.gov
435-830-3485
22 Duckworth, Susan D Salt Lake sduckworth@le.utah.gov
801-250-0728
23 Hollins, Sandra D Salt Lake shollins@le.utah.gov
801-363-4257
24 Chavez-Houck, Rebecca D Salt Lake rchouck@le.utah.gov
801-891-9292
25 Briscoe, Joel K. D Salt Lake jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
801-946-9791
26 Romero, Angela D Salt Lake angelaromero@le.utah.gov
801-722-4972
27 Kennedy, Michael S. R Utah mikekennedy@le.utah.gov
801-358-2362
28 King, Brian S. D Salt Lake, Summit briansking@le.utah.gov
801-560-0769
29 Perry, Lee B. R Box Elder, Weber leeperry@le.utah.gov
435-225-0430
30 Cox, Fred C. R Salt Lake fredcox@le.utah.gov
801-966-2636
31 DiCaro, Sophia M. R Salt Lake sdicaro@le.utah.gov
32 Christensen, LaVar R Salt Lake lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
801-808-5105
33 Hall, Craig R Salt Lake chall@le.utah.gov
801-573-1774
34 Anderson, Johnny R Salt Lake janderson34@le.utah.gov
801-898-1168
35 Wheatley, Mark A. D Salt Lake markwheatley@le.utah.gov
801-556-4862
36 Arent, Patrice M. D Salt Lake parent@le.utah.gov
801-889-7849
37 Moss, Carol Spackman D Salt Lake csmoss@le.utah.gov
801-647-8764
38 Hutchings, Eric K. R Salt Lake ehutchings@le.utah.gov
801-963-2639
39 Dunnigan, James A. R Salt Lake jdunnigan@le.utah.gov
801-840-1800
40 Miller, Justin J. D Salt Lake jjmiller@le.utah.gov
801-573-8810
41 McCay, Daniel R Salt Lake dmccay@le.utah.gov
801-810-4110
42 Coleman, Kim R Salt Lake kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
801-865-8970
43 Tanner, Earl D. R Salt Lake earltanner@le.utah.gov
801-792-2156
44 Cutler, Bruce R. R Salt Lake brucecutler@le.utah.gov
801-556-4600
45 Eliason, Steve R Salt Lake seliason@le.utah.gov
801-673-4748
46 Poulson, Marie H. D Salt Lake mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
801-942-5390
47 Ivory, Ken R Salt Lake kivory@le.utah.gov
801-694-8380
48 Stratton, Keven J. R Utah kstratton@le.utah.gov
801-836-6010
49 Spendlove, Robert M. R Salt Lake rspendlove@le.utah.gov
801-560-5394
50 Cunningham, Rich R Salt Lake rcunningham@le.utah.gov
801-722-4942
51 Hughes, Gregory H. R Salt Lake greghughes@le.utah.gov
801-432-0362
52 Knotwell, John R Salt Lake jknotwell@le.utah.gov
801-449-1834
53 Brown, Melvin R. R Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich, Summit melbrown@le.utah.gov
435-647-6512
54 Powell, Kraig R Summit, Wasatch kraigpowell@le.utah.gov
435-654-0501
55 Chew, Scott H. R Duchesne, Uintah scottchew@le.utah.gov
56 Christofferson, Kay J. R Utah kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
801-592-5709
57 Greene, Brian M. R Utah bgreene@le.utah.gov
801-889-5693
58 Cox, Jon R Juab, Sanpete jcox@le.utah.gov
435-851-4457
59 Peterson, Val L. R Utah vpeterson@le.utah.gov
801-224-4473
60 Daw, Brad M. R Utah bdaw@le.utah.gov
801-850-3608
61 Grover, Keith R Utah keithgrover@le.utah.gov
801-319-0170
62 Stanard, Jon E. R Washington jstanard@le.utah.gov
435-414-4631
63 Sanpei, Dean R Utah dsanpei@le.utah.gov
801-979-5711
64 Thurston, Norman K R Utah normthurston@le.utah.gov
385-399-9658
65 Gibson, Francis D. R Utah fgibson@le.utah.gov
801-491-3763
66 McKell, Mike K. R Utah mmckell@le.utah.gov
801-210-1495
67 Roberts, Marc K. R Utah mroberts@le.utah.gov
801-210-0155
68 Nelson, Merrill F. R Beaver, Juab, Millard, Tooele, Utah mnelson@le.utah.gov
801-971-2172
69 King, Brad D Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand bradking@le.utah.gov
435-637-7955
70 McIff, Kay L. R Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevier kaymciff@le.utah.gov
801-608-4331
71 Last, Bradley G. R Iron, Washington blast@le.utah.gov
435-635-7334
72 Westwood, John R. R Iron jwestwood@le.utah.gov
435-586-6961
73 Noel, Michael E. R Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne mnoel@kanab.net
435-616-5603
74 Snow, V. Lowry R Washington vlsnow@le.utah.gov
435-703-3688
75 Ipson, Don L. R Washington dipson@le.utah.gov
435-817-5281

 

Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator):

 

District Name Email County(ies)
1 Escamilla, Luz (D) lescamilla@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
2 Dabakis, Jim (D) jdabakis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
3 Davis, Gene (D) gdavis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
4 Iwamoto, Jani (D) jiwamoto@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
5 Mayne, Karen (D) kmayne@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
6 Harper, Wayne A. (R) wharper@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
7 Henderson, Deidre M. (R) dhenderson@le.utah.gov Utah
8 Shiozawa, Brian E. (R) bshiozawa@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
9 Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R) wniederhauser@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
10 Osmond, Aaron (R) aosmond@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
11 Stephenson, Howard A. (R) hstephenson@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
12 Thatcher, Daniel W. (R) dthatcher@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Tooele
13 Madsen, Mark B. (R) mmadsen@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
14 Jackson, Alvin B. (R) abjackson@le.utah.gov Utah
15 Dayton, Margaret (R) mdayton@le.utah.gov Utah
16 Bramble, Curtis S. (R) curt@cbramble.com Utah, Wasatch
17 Knudson, Peter C. (R) pknudson@le.utah.gov Box Elder, Cache, Tooele
18 Millner, Ann (R) amillner@le.utah.gov Davis, Morgan, Weber
19 Christensen, Allen M. (R) achristensen@le.utah.gov Morgan, Summit, Weber
20 Jenkins, Scott K. (R) sjenkins@le.utah.gov Davis, Weber
21 Stevenson, Jerry W. (R) jwstevenson@le.utah.gov Davis
22 Adams, J. Stuart (R) jsadams@le.utah.gov Davis
23 Weiler, Todd (R) tweiler@le.utah.gov Davis, Salt Lake
24 Okerlund, Ralph (R) rokerlund@le.utah.gov Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Wayne
25 Hillyard, Lyle W. (R) lhillyard@le.utah.gov Cache, Rich
26 Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R) kvantassell@le.utah.gov Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch
27 Hinkins, David P. (R) dhinkins@le.utah.gov Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch
28 Vickers, Evan J. (R) evickers@le.utah.gov Beaver, Iron, Washington
29 Urquhart, Stephen H. (R) surquhart@le.utah.gov Washington

 

Please write or call!  This is still America and not every legislator is bought by lobby money.  Some actually do listen to constituents.We should act –even if we act alone.  If we each act on conscience, rather than failing to act, for fear of failure, we might be winning many more battles.

A war over children’s lives and schooling and privacy rights is being waged, far under the radar of most people’s daily lives– but even those who know it’s going on, often fail to act.  Keep acting, even if it appears there is no hope.  Please join me if you can.

–And by the way, there is real hope!

  • The powerful Utah Educators’ Association (UEA) was also opposed to SB 235.  So were key Utah Democrats.  Some of the conservatives who actually voted for SB 235 now regret it.

Many people have written to the governor on this issue, pleading for a veto.

  • HB 360 already successfully PASSED both legislative houses, so it has the support of our elected reps.  There’s no reason anyone would want it vetoed, that I can see, except if they are being paid (in money or in power) by “the machine”.

 

 

herbert

 

I sometimes think that we would be better off if we had an obvious wolf for a Governor.

If we had an obvious wolf, people would be paying very close attention to what he was doing.  But Governor Herbert uses conservative language while he passes rascally progressive bills and initiatives and blocks conservative ones.

Most of Utah pays no real attention.  Many assume that the conservative-sounding speech they heard him make on the campaign trail matches his actions today.

But this is not the case.  He’s a key member of the Common Core creation team at NGA/CCSSO and he’s a proud promoter of Prosperity 2020, the cradle-to-workforce program that puts the economy first (not children) and puts businesses, not moms, dads and teachers, in positions of power over schools.  He is not about to fight his own machine.  The only thing he might fear is losing re-election.  This is why I have a little bit of  faith that letters asking him to veto SB 235 and asking him to pass HB 360,  might, in great numbers, have influence on him –only for his re-election hopes.  If he does just the opposite of what we are asking, and passes SB 235 and vetoes HB 360, let’s at least not let him do it too quietly and without pushback.  We still have about a week until it’s too late to veto or to pass these bills into law.

 

 

 

Come Downtown Friday Morning   5 comments

green

Come downtown Friday morning.

If you are one of the thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands in Utah with grief and concern about the continuing takeover of student data privacy, academic freedom, teacher autonomy and student self-determination,  please come downtown Friday morning.  Click here to join the Facebook event if you like.

Your physical presence speaks volumes even if you do not say a word at this board meeting and rally.

At the last ESEA flexibility board meeting, there were many people wearing green Stop Common Core T-shirts (or other green shirts) –filling the seats, lining the walls inside the meeting and lining the halls outside the meeting.   We need to do it again, this time in the presence of our Common Core-defending Governor.

green to

Come downtown this Friday morning, February 6th, 2015, when the meeting begins at 8:00 (or whenever you can get there.)

Governor Herbert will speaking from 8:30-9:30.  At 9:30 the board will discuss renewing or not renewing the ESEA waiver.

(Public comment will take place for ten minutes at 8:15.  If you contact the board secretary, Lorraine, ahead of time, you can be one of the five people per month who get two minutes allotted to speak during public comment.)

While some attend and speak up at the meeting inside, others will be standing with posters outside the building.

If you will be outside, please bring posters.  What to write on your poster?  Here are a few ideas:

ESEA Renewal Means Zero Leverage 

Our Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No More Education Without True Representation

We Support H.R. 524 – Mia Love’s Stop Common Core Bill 

We Support Utah Teachers

Thank You Mia Love – Pass HR 524

Stop Federal Micromanagement of Utah Schools

Don’t Renew Utah’s “No Child Left Behind” Waiver

Just Say No to the ESEA Waiver

No More Data Mining Our Children

Stop Feeding Our Tax Dollars to the Common Core Cartel

Restore Freedom to Utah Teachers and Students

Support Mia Love’s HR 524 – Restore Liberty in Education 

Thank You Mia Love

mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

 

     

      SCHEDULE – Utah State School Board Meeting February 6, 2015

  • Opening Business 8:00 – 8:15 AM
  • Public Participation/Comment 8:15 – 8:25 AM (sign up ahead of time)
  • Consent Calendar 8:25 – 8:30 AM
  • Discussion with Governor Herbert 8:30 – 9:30 AM (Note: Governor announced last week that he and the Utah Attorney General would meet with the Board this week)
  • Action Item/ ESEA Flexibility Renewal 9:30 – 10:15 AM

 

green too

 

Background Information:

On January 8, 2015, Utah’s State Board approved a Resolution calling for legislation amending and Reauthorizing the Federal ESEA Education Act.  Please check the monster ESEA Reauthorization bill sponsored by U. S. Senate Republicans that will destroy State Sovereignty, including Utah’s.

This Friday, Utah’s State Board will determine if Utah will submit a request to the Dept. of Education requesting a three-year renewal for the ESEA Flexibility Waiver and the continuation of the UCAS Accountability System. (Note: This is the End Game. 3-years of a new Waiver will buy the US Dept. of Education time to close the clamps on parental sovereignty, close down or severely alter private and district schools using Title 1 money, and dismantle school districts using charter “Choice” attached to Title 1  money.)

This State Board meeting is not even truly about education.  Academics are a fraction of what this vote will affect.  It’s really about the gradual abolishing of our representative form of government and what that means for our children long term.  Even the term “ESEA Flexibility” reveals the ongoing federal practice of rationing out parcels of flexibility according to the whims of the federal Department of Education– this doesn’t look like our constitutional inheritance of sovereignty and freedom at all.

Come downtown Friday morning.  Bring a neighbor.  Bring your children.  Make it a field trip.   Wear green.  Stand shoulder to shoulder with other parents, teachers, and grandparents who realize that we have to make our influence felt for the freedom and dignity of our precious children.  This is real.  Please stand with us.

Thank you!

Herbert’s Spending to Cement Utah to Common Core and Common Data Standards   Leave a comment

imagesgreen

The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it.  His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)

It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to.  The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his  report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government.  (See rebuttal to the report here.)

But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?

We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.

How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests?  (Not only that– we are now leading others along:  Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)

How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?

The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”.  The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”  

The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.

Sadly, these are lies.  The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.

This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology.  These are D.C. based systems.

Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children.  Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.

This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.”  This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice SolutionsUtrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.

Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data  financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.

That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature.  Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.

fish

It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s  copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.

The Governor’s new budget gives:

“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology  infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”

These  budgetary decisions do not educate.  They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.

Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?

Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.

The opposite is happening.

Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”.  Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20” human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.

I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education.  Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.

Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.

 

green

*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.

Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics   21 comments

dr-thompson

I sat in the Early Life Child Psychology and Education center this week, watching Dr. Gary Thompson’s presentation about Common Core testing, thinking that Dr. Thompson is the fearless kid in the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Dr. Thompson stands armed with honesty, science and evidence, pointing out that the Emperor of SAGE/Common Core tests is stark raving naked.  All around Salt Lake City, meanwhile, people play along with the wealthy emperor, pretending that nothing’s wrong with what the whole world seems to have been paid to agree are such smashing, new  –dare we call them rigorous— clothes.

What does Dr. Thompson see as he analyzes the Common Core SAGE test in its birthday suit?

He points out foremost that there is such a thing as a code of ethics for the psychological testing of children.

“Wait, wait–” says the State Office of Education– “We’re not doing psychological testing on your kids.”  But this does not placate Utahns who fact check for themselves. SAGE/Common Core tests –in addition to being tests of academic subjects– are psychological tests. We know this because:

1) Utah law demands it.  HB15, passed in 2012, required Utah’s public and charter schools to administer computer adaptive tests aligned with Common Core.  It specified “the use of behavior indicators in assessing student performance.”  Behavior indicators are not math, science or language arts data points.  They are psychological data points.

2) The SAGE tests are created by Utah’s test contractor, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is primarily “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science  research organizations.”  Its stated mission is “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.”

3) The federal Department of Education –which shouldn’t, but does, call shots for the Utah State Office of Education– openly encourages psychological profiling of students via tests, calling it “data-driven decision making,” “a data quality campaign” and other positive-sounding terms.  See any of its initiativesreports and recommendations  which do depend on/openly promote psychological profiling of children by testing.

Here’s how Dr. Thompson says that SAGE violates the code of ethics for psychological testing:

Standard 9.03 from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists states that “psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments.  SAGE does not do this.  The ethics for informed consent include telling the client (in SAGE’s case, the student and parents) what the nature, purpose and anticipated course of services will be; using clear language; allowing the client  (student and parents) to ask questions; telling them about involvement of any third parties who may have access to the information gathered via the test; disclosing whether experimentation will be used; informing the client whether the test administrator is a trainee or fully qualified to administer psychological testing; obtaining consent in advance of recording or observing; potential risks; potential limitations; and more.

Each of these codes of conduct were broken by the USOE in implementing SAGE tests on Utah schools.

Standard 9.02 states that “Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established…when such validity or reliability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.”

There have been no independent validity and reliability studies done on SAGE tests, whatsoever, as Dr. Thompson pointed out.  Another enormous principal of all scientific forms of testing– broken.

While it is clear that SAGE tests are psychological in nature, and that the tests do not adhere to the code of ethical conduct for psychological testing, there’s even more at stake.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that the future is very close to already here:  Game-based assessment, also known as Stealth Assessments, are secret tests embedded in video games for schools that are further eclipsing parental rights and knowledge about what data is being collected while children are at school.  Even teachers would not know what exactly is being collected or analyzed when stealth assessments are used in classroom settings.

In a scholarly journal entitled “District Administration” Dr. Thompson read, and shared, that now, in an attempt to lessen student stress, Gates-funded groups are telling us that video games are the education of the future. “District Administration” journal writes that because “complex thinking skills can’t be measured by traditional standardized tests, educators are turning to stealth assessments hidden in video games.” The article continues, “stealth assessments are seamless, so the distinction between learning and assessment is completely blurred.  Kids are playing, they are learning, and they are being assessed all at the same time.”  Further:  “testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction.”  Children will be tested all of the time.  How does a person opt out of that?

 

 

what-is-stealth-assessment-1-728

Dr. Thompson’s presentation also touched on many other issues of great importance.  He spoke about the vulnerable populations that are forced to take Common Core SAGE tests (unless parents opt them out).  These include children with any of a host of learning disabilities, children with depression and anxiety, children with autism and Asberger’s,  children with  historically poor test taking scores due to cultural bias in testing including African-American and Latino children, children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, children from high-stress poverty homes, children with psychotic disorders, ADHD, and dual exceptional (gifted and learning disordered) to name a few.

He shared from academic journals many ethical considerations associated with Common Core’s pushing of the very young into “rigorous” and age-inappropriate standards.  He shared research he’s collected, too, about the use of children’s data for marketing purposes, (quoting from the academic journal article, “Children as Consumers.”  This is relevant and troubling because the SAGE test creator, AIR, has open partnerships (and data sharing policies) with numerous corporations that have no restraint on accessing SAGE-collected student information.

Thompson further discussed harm to the brain of a child using Common Core testing practices on every type of child, and using Common Core styled math on every type of learner.  He spoke of the brain’s disorganization response to Common Core-styled math pedagogy and to high-stakes tests like SAGE.

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This brain-analyzing portion of the presentation must be explained in detail in a separate post.  Briefly: the neurological (brain-affecting) Common Core issues raised by Dr. Thompson’s research are extremely important in light of the fact that both Bill Gates (Common Core funder) and our federal government are highly focused on studying and applying research about the neurology of children, right now.  The federally approved Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, also known as the White House Neuroscience Initiative, was granted federal funds to invest in brain research and drug development, and not just to prevent Alzheimer’s.  Its stated aims: “optimizing interactions between the environment and the brain across the lifespan,” “applying the brain’s information processing capabilities” and “enhancing communication among federal agencies”.  Congressman Fattah  wrote that he is “a major proponent of brain mapping…  understand…the role of individual neurons in controlling our thoughts, movements…”.  –Recall that Secretary Duncan mocked  the idea that the federal government was involved in this, when it was accused of collecting student data using Common Educational Data Standards. He said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” Yet that is exactly what the federal Fattah Neuroscience Initiative aims to do.  Congressman Fattah has made it clear that brain mapping is the aim of the White House Neuroscience Initiative.  Now, let’s use our brains.  Who is the only huge, captive group of guinea pigs they have under their control upon whom they can do brain mapping research (call it education) for hours and hours every single day?  

Dr. Thompson’s full presentation:

 You’ll want to see the whole presentation and discuss it with your local and state representatives on the school boards in detail.  Each of the issues touched on in Dr. Thompson’s presentation deserves a chapter or a book written on it.

But to keep it simple, digestible, and close to home, let’s focus on one thing:  the thing Dr. Thompson focuses on; the SAGE test. You’ll want to opt your children out of every type of SAGE test:  summative (end of year), formative and interim (year round SAGE tests.)

It is the enforcer of Utah’s Common Core and the primary vehicle for massive student data collection right now.  We need to get rid of it, or opt individual children –by the thousands and thousands– out of it, so that its data collectors cannot do what they aim to do, and so that Common Core experimental standards cannot take deep root in our schools, cannot dictate teacher salaries, cannot narrowly define and narrowly present what is “education” to our children.

Somebody will look out for students’ mental health, privacy, and happiness, even in this age of politically motivated high-stakes SAGE testing –and soon, in this age of stealth testing.  Somebody will look out for the parents’ rights to know about and to guide psychological treatment or analysis of children.  Someone  will pound on the door of the USOE, the governor, and the legislators’ offices, demanding the end of SAGE tests in Utah schools, demanding answers to the questions that Dr. Thompson and other child psychologists, such as Joan Landes and Dr. Megan Koschnick (video below) have raised.

That someone is that person in your bathroom mirror or it’s nobody, because everybody’s so busy.

Legislators are busy.  Teachers are busy. Board members are busy. Reporters are busy.  Common Core technological implementers and teacher development conference producers are busy. Everyone is so busy being busy that the busy-ness that matters most of all— our children and our liberty-– have lost precious ground.

It is not too late.

 

Passed: Utah County Republican Resolution Against Common Core   3 comments

Below is the full text of the resolution that Utah County Republicans voted to pass, in opposition to Common Core this week. 

It will be interesting to see what Governor Herbert does with the mounting evidence that Utahns oppose Common Core.  Despite publically taking a second look at the academics, he has not taken any steps to get a second look at state  and federal data mining done in Utah, nor has he taken a second look at the actual governance structure of Common Core which seems far, far more important than the academic snapshot.  The governor’s still moving full steam on with the Common Core-promoting Prosperity 2020 and SLDS systems in this state, and has not resigned from his Common Core-promoting role in the  National Governors Association (that unelected, private trade group which created and copyrighted the Common Core.) 

Governor, is it time to start listening more closely to voters?

Utah County Republican Resolution

 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), adopted as part of the “Utah
Core,” is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of nationally-based standards and tests
developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and
unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core binds us to an established copyright over standards, limiting our ability to
create or improve education standards that we deem best for our own children; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
 
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits federal authority over curriculum and
testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-
building and data collection is federally managed; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural
(i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and
assessments; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core promotes the storage and sharing of private student and family data without
consent; using a pre-school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State
Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating substantial opportunities for invasion of privacy; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core intrudes on the constitutional authority of the states over education by
pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’, and if not adopted, penalties include loss of funds and, just as Oklahoma experienced a loss of
their ESEA waiver; and
 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee and Utah State Republican Convention recently passed a
resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw
from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, the
Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other similar alliance, and;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor
and the State legislature requesting executive and legislative action.

Voice Your Concerns! Gov Herbert’s Common Core Survey Ends August 31st   4 comments

CALL TO ACTION: UTAHNS, VOICE YOUR CONCERNS!

herbert

Governor Herbert has asked for feedback on the Common Core Standards.  Send him an overwhelming, undeniable message that the standards are strongly opposed by going to the Governor’s special website to take a Common Core survey.  The survey ends on August 31st, 2014. 

Please ADD YOUR VOICE.  Here’s the link to the survey: http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

This is something every person can do to make a difference.  If every person on the UACC petition list (over 11,000) will post comments,  and if every person asks his spouse/student/parent/grandparent/neighbor to do so, it will send a loud and clear message that opposition is building.

Don’t spend too much time on it.  Just get it done.  You don’t have to be a standards expert to have experience and an important opinion.   This survey is asking for the average Utahn to voice his or her feelings about Common Core.

Feel free to quote the experts in your commentary–  Dr. James Milgram, who served on the official validation committee for the Common Core math standards and refused to sign off on their academic legitimacy, should not be ignored by the Utah State School Board.  Read his comments on Common Core math standards here.  Sandra Stotsky, who served on the official validation committee for the Common Core English Language Arts standards and refused to sign off on their academic legitimacy, should not be ignored by the Utah State School Board.  Read her comments on the Common Core English standards here.    You can also read a Common Core 101 post with links to obvious, damning research here.

If the Governor gets few responses, his pro-Common Core standards review committee will take it to mean that most Utahns accept or approve of Common Core.

 

Common Core Lawsuit: Teachers and Parents v. Utah State School Board   2 comments

 

aaa

So many Utahns have become so hopping mad* about Common Core in our schools that a few weeks ago, Governor Herbert publically announced that the state Attorney General will now conduct a “thorough legal review” of the rapidly adopted, unvetted education and testing standards.  He’s got a public input website  on the academic aspects of the Common Core.  But his main question is:  do the standards represent “federal entanglement”?

Well, that seems like an easy question  for the Attorney General!  Just read Utah’s Race to the Top application, with its federal points system based, in large part, on a state agreeing to take on the Common Core.  Or check out Obama’s four pillars of education reform.  Or check out Obama’s and Secretary Duncan’s speeches on the subject.  Or read the federal definition of “college and career ready standards.”  Not hard.

But federal entanglement’s not the only question.  A new Libertas Institute lawsuit  asks this key question:  Did the Board violate state law in rushing through Common Core’s adoption without legally required input from parents, teachers, employers, superintendents and school boards?  At least one public school has openly declared that not even slightly were they consulted.  And they’re not happy about it.

The lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment, saying that the Board failed to consult with local school boards, superintendents, teachers, employers and parents as required by law (53A-1-402.6).  It asks for an order enjoining the Board from further implementing Common Core, from requiring schools to implement Common Core, and from enforcing Common Core.

I am happy to be one of the parents/educators who are the plaintiffs in this case, and grateful to Libertas Institute for footing the bill.

Go, fight, win.

 

libertas

 

 —————————————————————————————–

* Remember to attend  if at all possible this month’s public state school board meeting and the big protest THIS WEEK at the State Board of Education offices in downtown Salt Lake City:  August 8th, at 9 a.m.  Many Utahns against Common Core will be protesting with signs outside the building while others will be making public comment later, during the public comment segment around 10:30 inside the building.  See you there.

Dear Utah Educators Association: From Renee Braddy   1 comment

school

Renee Braddy, a Utah mother and a former elementary school teacher, has given permission to post this letter which she sent to the Utah Educator’s Association office.

As of this posting, she has still not heard back from the UEA.

  Thank you, Renee.

—————————————————————————————————-

To Whom it Concerns:

I am writing to you first and foremost as a parent and second as a former public school teacher in Utah.   I faithfully belonged to and supported the UEA the entire time I taught..  Today, I was sent an email from a friend. [Read it here.]   The letter was from the UEA and it was a request for its members to voice their support for the Common Core because of concerns being voiced by a “small vocal minority”. 

I would likely fit into that category.  It seems this emailwas an attempt to label, marginalize, and thus dismiss those who have voiced concerns or opposition.  I feel that my concerns, both as a parent and educator, are valid and are based on legal documents and lengthy research.  I am writing in hopes of working together. 

My experience has been that the large majority of citizens (including parents, teachers and administrators) are unaware of the big picture that comes with the adoption of the Common Core agenda.  It is so much more than a set of standards.  So, I would say that my experience has been that a large majority are silent on their like or dislike for Common Core.  Silence is not acceptance; it is most likely ignorance. 

I believe that as American citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to voice our opinions and to have questions answered and concerns addressed.    Unfortunately, this opportunity never happened with Utah’s adoption of common core.  Due process didn’t occur and the parents and teachers feel like a trust was violated.

I believe that Utah has some of the finest educators in the nation and my hope is to return educational decisions to the hands of parents, teachers and local administrators.   I don’t think the shift began with Common Core, but it is the current reform and parents and teachers aren’t happy now. The issues need to be addressed, not dismissed. 

Teachers have been told that “it will not bode well professionally to speak against Common Core.”   They have told me that they have been sent a clear message that they should not talk about their concerns –and definitely not while at school.  Local school board members are also being told to not speak out, and that they need to support the state board.

I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns and attempt to work together for a solution that is right for our state. 

Please let me know when is most convenient.

Renee Braddy

———————————————————————————————————————————
While we wait patiently together to see if the UEA has the inclination to respond to Renee, I have a few thoughts.   I happen to be waiting patiently, too, for a response to my letter to Governor Herbert (see below).   But visiting or writing letters to any member of  the education establishment results in either: a)  silence or: b)  a ridiculous pat on the head.   Anyone who’s tried, knows.
This happens over and over and over– not only at the Utah state level, but also at the local school board level, and at the federal (unconstitutional) Department of Education level.
It does not stop us from writing, calling, and going to as many of their meetings as we can stomach.
I believe in the squeaky wheel theory, and I believe in Jesus’ parable about the woman and the unrighteous judge from Luke 18.  If everyone who wanted Common Core to go away would call, write, and pray repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasingly Common Core could not stand.  No legs.
Why not?  Because Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing networks and lies– to stand on.  It has countless millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
And that is the simple,  incredible truth.  No legs.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no actual international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no wisdom, no love for classical education,  no state-led history,  no hope of developing a real love of learning; no common sense.

angryteacher

Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:   There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.   And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
There are people at the State Office of Education and at the State School Board who likewise “fear not God, nor regard man” yet because we trouble them, they may choose to “avenge” our cause, since by our “continual coming” we weary them.  And weary them we must because as a state, we are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence.
Spiral of silence is the name of a well-studied communications theory by Dr. Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a phenomenon which happens when people fear separation or isolation (or job loss or even death) but perceiving or believing that they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
Spiral of Silence theory arose as an explanation for why so many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s.  Parents, teachers and legislators who do not know enough about Common Core and the Common Data Standards, and who are told to “support” them, do not feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them.  The pressure is even more intense for state school board members and the UEA, which explains, in part, the repeated official stonewalling that we experience and the relatively low number of teachers and education officials who fight against the whole suffocating Common Core and Common Data Standards agenda.
applebook - Copy
But I will admit that I laughed out loud when I saw the “official” silencing response sent to me by a clerk from the governor’s office, in response to my letter last week to our governor.  I would have received the same email had I sent the governor my favorite potato salad recipe.
Following my letter to the governor, I received this from constituentservices@utah.gov:

July 9, 2014

Dear Christel:

Thank you for your email to the Office of the Governor regarding Education (Common Core). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Governor.

Our office appreciates hearing from constituents and your comments and opinion regarding this issue have been noted.

Thank you for taking time to contact us regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Tiffany Clason
Constituent Services

————————————————————————-
I wrote back.
————————————————————————-
Tiffany,

That was not a response to my letter.  Please contact your supervisor..  I feel that an honest and important letter deserves and honest and important response.
Thank you.

Christel
———————————————————–
Constituent services wrote back:
————————————————————
Christel, 

Thank you for your follow up email. I regret that my response was not satisfactory. We receive hundreds of email, letters, and calls daily and aim to make sure every constituent gets confirmation that their correspondence was received and that their opinion is taken under consideration.
Common Core is a very important issue and the Governor is paying close attention to the feedback, opinions, and concerns he is receiving from constituents all over the state. Having said that, our office is appreciative of the initiative you took to thoughtfully email us with your experience related to Common Core and your concerns for the Common Education Data Standards.
Kind Regards,
Tiffany Clason
——————————————————————————
I wrote back.
——————————————————————————-
Tiffany,

While I appreciate the fact that you are responding, I still request a substantive response from someone at the Governors’ office.  Noting that the Governor “is paying close attention” is not a response to the issues I raised but merely an acknowledgement that I wrote at all.
Please, forward my email, and the other emails you have been receiving, to those in office who are responsible to the people for these decisions.  Perhaps the lieutenant governor has more time to answer specifics than the governor?
Constituents deserve real answers, not pats on the head and thank yous for simply writing at all.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
———————————————————————————
I  am patiently waiting to see if anyone at the Governor’s office or anyone who I copied the letter to at the office of education has the time to respond with substance.
___________________________________________________
Meanwhile, I sent a form of the same letter to the Daily Herald.    My state school board representative, Dixie Allen, decided to respond.  Dixie Allen’s response at the Daily Herald did not address my concerns although it was long.  It said that she was one those responsible for bringing Common Core to Utah, and she defended that decision.   I remain unanswered, by deafening silence by both the Governor’s office and my state school board representative, on these issues:
  • 1) Why are parents denied the right to opt children out of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS)  which tracks them almost for their entire lives without parental consent?
  • 2)  Why has there been no freedom of conscience, no open debate among educators when it comes to Common Core?
  • 3) How can we maintain the reins of local control of education when we are attached like siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control Common Core?
  • 4)  Why doesn’t Utah have her own standards, instead of copyrighted standards coming out of unelected D.C. groups?
  • 5) Why has Utah agreed to Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) which align our private data with federal data standards?
  • 6) Why doesn’t Utah look to the example of South Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s governors, who have decried the Common Education Agenda, and get Utah out of it, as those states have so wisely, so importantly, done?
———————————————————————————————
Please make some time and join me and other teachers and parents this Thursday in Salt Lake City as we simply show up to show that we are aware of what is going on in education today.  We will attend the open state school board meeting.  Some of us will speak at the 2 minute public comment segment.  Most of us won’t say a word.  Please, just show up.  That day, they are to decide whether or not to renew the federal NCLB waiver which Utah received in part as a reward for agreeing to do Common Core instead of NCLB.
If you can’t be there, please DO SOMETHING ELSE.  There is so much we can do.   Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov.  We can write or call the board, the newspapers and t.v. stations. We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number). We can politely and persistently pester the principals and state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber of Pearson Ed.  (If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things any month, at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov)

Dear Governor Herbert   4 comments

 

 

The Utah Education Association sent out an email yesterday.  I’m posting it at the bottom (scroll down.)

It’s sad evidence of the loss of open debate and the loss of freedom of conscience that the UEA pretends all educators agree with its pro-Common Core agenda.

I’m a Utah credentialed teacher and I sure don’t agree.

Please help counteract their mass email request by writing to Governor Herbert (and cc it to legislators, newspapers and school boards). If you want to share, feel free to post your letter here in the comments section as well.

 

Governor Herbert is surely tired of people like you and me by now.  We’ve been speaking with him and writing to him for well over two years, pleading with him to free us from the Common Core agenda and to restore local control of education and of student data privacy.

Still, he needs to hear from us again.  The UEA’s action bulletin is recruiting pro-Common Core emails to hang on to Common Core in Utah.  The UEA asked readers to forward the email to those who care about public education.  — Hey, that is you and me!

Below is the letter that I sent.  If you write, please use this instead of the non-functioning email address the UEA gave out:  http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html.  You may also send a copy to all members of the state school board at board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Dear Governor Herbert,

Please restore local control of education in our state by rejecting Common Core aligned testing and standards in Utah.  We deserve to maintain the reins of control here, and this cannot happen when we are attached like Siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control the tests, data collection network, and education standards: Achieve Inc., CCSSO, NGA and the federal Department of Education.
Utah needs her own, not-D.C.-copyright-protected, education standards so that we can ensure that we will always be teaching our students according to the values of the conscience of Utah parents and teachers, unencumbered by influences or pressures from the D.C. groups that control the Common Core agenda.
The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) that align with the Common Core standards further control our citizenry by reducing the privacy of Utah students and families.  This is an issue connected to the repeal of Common Core Standards that must not be ignored.  Our federally paid for State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) will continue to inform federal agencies about our local schools unless we put an end to CEDS involvement, or scrap the SLDS system completely.  At the very least, parents in Utah ought to have the right to opt out of having a child tracked from preschool through workforce by the SLDS system.
Please, Governor, pay attention to these things.  It is difficult to imagine any other issue being a more important use of your time.  Utahns are watching what you will do, as we see governors in other states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina taking steps to restore liberty in education. Please follow their lead.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
Utah Credentialed Teacher
Heber City
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
uea
Here is a condensed version of the UEA email that was sent out yesterday statewide:
DEAR UEA MEMBER:…There is overwhelming consensus among educators that the Core Standards will ultimately be good for students and education, if implemented properly. There are significant challenges associated with implementing the Core, but the possibilities are immense.Utah has invested years of work and millions of dollars into creating its standards. There is concern that reversing course on Utah’s Core Standards now would mean starting the process all over again.• See more about the Utah Core Standards

What you can do:
Contact the Governor and your legislators NOW and share your opinion about the Utah Core Standards.

• Call or email your legislator* (House / Senate)
Look up your legislators
• Call or email Governor Gary Herbert:
o Tel: 800-705-2464
o Email: governor@utah.gov
 *NOTE: Do not use school computers or email addresses

…Sincerely,

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President

For more information about the Core Standards:
• myUEA.org/core
• schools.utah.gov/core
• nea.org/home/commoncore
• achievethecore.org
• corestandards.org

P.S. Please forward this message to co-workers, friends, family and anyone who supports Utah public education.

875 E Pontiac Dr.   Murray, UT 84107-5299   Phone: 801-266-4461
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
It is ironic that the UEA warns its members: “Do not use school computers or email addresses.”  The UEA knows that it is wrong to use school resources and tax dollars to influence political decisions, yet its email does that very thing.

Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi Reject Common Core   6 comments

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Yes!

Hope that Utah’s Governor Herbert is next.

Utah Public School Rejects Common Core: Maeser Prep’s Open Letter to State School Board   2 comments

maeser

Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy,  in Lindon, Utah, is the first public school in Utah to issue a letter to the State School Board that asks the board to reject Common Core and return to time-tested, legitimate education.

The letter is posted here.  The board of directors of this public charter school writes that the Common Core Standards compromise Maesar’s educational mission and purpose.  They say that Common Core Standards were adopted without an opportunity for the local school districts or parents to review them first.   And they urge the state school board, Governor Herbert, and the Utah legislature to replace the Common Core with locally vetted standards.

Amen, Karl G. Maeser Academy.

 

Dear Governor Herbert: Let’s Be Like Indiana!   3 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

Let’s be like Indiana!   The support of the State Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence are making it possible for the people to reclaim local control of education.  Indiana’s dropping Common Core.  We in Utah should do the same, rather than continually giving lip service to local autonomy.

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/01/29/ind-senate-panel-oks-plan-to-drop-common-core/5013185/
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/16/Governor-Mike-Pence-Hints-Indiana-May-Drop-Common-Core
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
——
Please, fellow Utahns–  write  often to our Utah leaders.  Let them know what is going on in national education reform and pushback, since our local newspapers rarely do.  Tell them what you want them to do.   They are supposed to represent us— not D.C. corporations or agencies of the federal government.  We must speak up.
————-
CONTACT INFORMATION:

Governor Herbert:  constituentservices@utah.gov

Superintendent Menlove: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Utah State School Board:  Board@schools.utah.gov

Study the Common Core Money War   4 comments

This week’s Politico article entitled “The Common Core Money War” made me snort. While the authors admitted that the Gates Foundation has spent almost 200 million pushing Common Core on the masses, they asserted that opponents of Common Core (that would be people like me) are “backed by an array of organizations with multimillion dollar budgets.”

Not very funny. Not very true.

I am an example of the opposition to Common Core. I may be just one mom/teacher/voice against Common Core. But I can testify that I have never received a penny for any of my work against Common Core, and neither have my friends in this battle.

We spend countless hours researching government documents and attending boring school board meetings, write hundreds and hundreds of blog articles based on hours of research; plead with legislators and our governor; speak to groups and to the media. Our “stop common core” work is very tightly sandwiched time, budgeted between teaching school, changing diapers, doing laundry, being wives and mothers and church people.

We don’t sleep a lot and our houses aren’t all that tidy. We do this because it MUST BE DONE.

We are protecting our children and our Constitution. This is the only reason we work so hard.

We lose money in this fight; we pay for all our photocopies and the gas in our cars to drive to give speeches all over Utah. Notice: the reason there are no donate buttons on this blog, and the reason I haven’t paid WordPress the $100 they charge to get rid of their ads at the bottom of my page, the reason I don’t choose to accept ads or to make money off this blog is simple: I think I would lose credibility if this became a paid job for me. I think I would watch my words too carefully, be too careful of who I might offend, be afraid to speak out of my heart, be afraid to quote religious leaders or business leaders. WordPress is the only entity making money off my anti-common core fight.

There may be salaried folk at FreedomWorks or some of the think tanks that are against Common Core, but none of them are paid off by the conflict-of-interest, Microsoft-owning, Pearson-partnering Leviathan of all Grantmaking, Bill Gates.

And almost all of the Common Core proponents are paid by Gates. Follow the money trail: National PTA: paid by Gates to advocate. Harvard: paid by Gates to advocate. Jeb Bush: Paid by Gates to advocate. National Governors’ Association and Council of Chief State School Officers: Paid by Gates to develop and advocate for the Common Core.

But Politico is right about one thing: there is definitely a Common Core Money War going on. Lots of people ARE GETTING SO RICH because of the Common Core gold rush.

Just today in the Salt Lake City paper, Deseret News, I saw this little doozy: Companies are announcing plans to bring over a thousand new jobs to Utah. Guess what almost all of them are? Common Core jobs. Jobs that are Common Core dependent.

The article states: “The School Improvement Network provides tools and resources to educators to help them improve their teaching ability and meet the needs of all students. Over the 10-year life of the agreement, the company will pay out more than $5.9 million in new state wages… School Improvement Network will pay more than $15 million in new state taxes and invest more than $10 million in capital expansion at the Utah-based offices….’Utah is increasingly known as the emerging Wall Street of the West,’ Gov. Gary Herbert said. “The opening of the new office by Indus Valley Partners demonstrates the capabilities of Utah’s educated and hardworking workforce'”

Governor Herbert is more concerned with Utah making money by using Common Core technologies and Common Core sales products than he is concerned with making sure we haven’t been sold snake oil. But we have.

The Governor’s never done a cost analysis on Common Core although he promised us in a face to face meeting that he would.

He’s never looked into the fact that Common Core is an unpiloted experiment on children that throws out time-tested classical education and local control of education in favor of a collective notion of federally supervised and funded tests and standards.

I don’t care how much money Common Core implementation could make for our state. So could legalizing gambling, prostitution and drugs. It’s so wrong.

Common Core’s an academic scam, a prime example of –in Dr. Chris Tienken’s words– dataless decisionmaking. It’s a crime against the Constitutional right to determine education locally. Its tests are a robbery of student privacy and student time.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/education-common-core-standards-schools-96964.html#ixzz2fG7XltoA

Stop Common Core.

Gov Pence of Indiana Puts Common Core in TIME OUT: “Education is a Local Function”   2 comments

Indiana’s Governor Pence has signed the “Common Core ‘pause’ legislation” bill.  It puts a time-out on Common Core implementation so that legislators, parents, teachers and school boards can have the time they were denied previously, to actually vet and analyze the Common Core educational system.

How I wish Governor Herbert would do the same.

How I wish we had a governor, newspapers, a state school board and local school boards whose actions showed they truly valued local control, that all-important principle of our country’s founding.  But they do not.  They prioritize being the same as other states over maintaining the power to run our own lives,  and they value that common core over having academically legitimate, non-experimental standards.

It is a Utah tragedy.  Not so in Indiana.

IndyStar reports:

“The bill requires public input meetings and a new vote on whether to continue implementing the Common Core by the end of 2014 by the State Board of Education, which originally approved common Core in 2010.

Critics of Common Core, which was adopted by Indiana’s state board in 2010, say the criteria are less rigorous than Indiana’s prior standards and adopting them would mean giving up too much power over the setting of standards.

But supporters argue Indiana could fall behind by backing out, as textbook publishers and standardized test makers — including those who make college entrance exams — are moving quickly to adapt to the new standards.

“I have long believed that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that our curriculum is developed by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said in a news release. “The legislation I sign today hits the pause button on Common Core so Hoosiers can thoroughly evaluate which standards will best serve the interests of our kids.”  

Read the rest here.

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.

————————-

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…

———————–

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.

Salt Lake Tribune: School Board Denies Governor Herbert’s Request to Increase Local Control of Common Core   3 comments

Before I post the highlights from the Tribune article, I have to make a comment.

I read the two USOE-created resolutions* cited below.  They are written by people who obviously do not understand the recently altered federal FERPA changes which have severely weakened student privacy and parental consent requirements, among other things.  One resolution used the word “erroneous” to describe citizens opposing Common Core’s agenda.  This, for some reason, makes me laugh.  Why?

Because so much of what the Utah State Office of Education does is utterly erroneous, unreferenced, theory-laden and evidence-lacking; it may be nicely based on slick marketing, financial bribes and the consensus of big-government promoters– Bill Gates, Pearson Company, Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, etc but it is nonetheless false.  (“State-led”? “Internationally benchmarked”? Improving Education”? “Respecting student data privacy”? “Retaining local control”?   —NOT.)

It is downright ridiculous (although sad) that the State Office of Education calls those citizens who ask questions armed with documents, facts, references and truth, the “vicious attackers” and the “erroneous.”

Let’s call their bluff.

Let’s insist that the Utah State School Board engage in honest, open, referenced debate with those they label “erroneous.”

It’ll never happen.  They cannot allow that.  They know they have no leg to stand on, or they’d already have provided references and studies showing the Common Core path they chose for Utah was a wise and studied choice.  We’ve asked repeatedly for such honest face-to-face discussion.  We’ve asked them to send someone to debate Common Core.

They have no one to send; sadly, each USOE official and USSB member can only parrot the claims they’ve had parroted to them about Common Core.

Honest study reveals that local control is gone under Common Core, privacy is gone, parental consent is no longer required to track and study a child, and academic standards are FAR from improved.

I pray that level-headed Utah legislators will study this Common Core agenda thoroughly and will act as wisely as those in Indiana have done with their “time-out” bill that halts implementation of Common Core, pending a proper study and vetting of the expensive, multi-pronged academic experiment that uses and tracks children as if they were government guinea pigs.

And now, the Tribune article:

Utah school board denies guv’s Common Core request

 Board rejects request to change paperwork critics see as a commitment to use Common Core academic standards.

By Lisa Schencker

|  Highlights of article reposted from the Salt Lake Tribune

First Published 2 hours ago

Hoping to ease some Utahns’ fears about Common Core academic standards, the Governor’s Office asked the state school board to change an application it submitted last year for a waiver to federal No Child Left Behind requirements.The state school board, however, voted against that request Thursday.

The waiver asked states to identify their choice of academic standards, which outline concepts and skills students should learn in each grade. States either had to check “Option A,” affirming that they had adopted standards “common to a significant number of states,” or “Option B,” indicating their standards had been approved by the state’s higher education institutions.

Utah education leaders checked the first option, as Utah had joined most other states in adopting the Common Core. Critics have decried that decision, saying it tied Utah to the standards.

Christine Kearl, the governor’s education advisor, told board members Thursday that she believes checking Option B would alleviate those concerns without actually having to drop the standards. She said the Governor’s Office hears daily complaints about the Common Core.

“It’s become very political as I’m sure you’re all aware,” Kearl said. “We’re under attack. We try to get back to people and let them know we support the Common Core and support the decision of the state school board, but this has just become relentless.”

But Assistant Attorney General Kristina Kindl warned board members the change would give the state’s higher education system approval power over K-12 standards.

Some board members also bristled at the idea of changing the application, saying it wouldn’t mean much. Former State Superintendent Larry Shumway had already sent the feds a letter asserting that Utah retains control over its standards.

“It just seems like we are caving to political pressure based on things that are not based in actual fact,” said board member Dave Thomas.

Some also wondered whether switching would allay the concerns of foes, who began arguing that the Core was federally tied before Utah applied for the waiver. State education leaders have long responded that the standards were developed in a states-led initiative and leave curriculum up to teachers and districts

Oak Norton, a Highland parent who helped develop a website for the group Utahns Against Common Core, said he was disappointed by the board’s decision against changing the waiver.

“Then we could have looked at adopting our own standards that were higher than the Common Core,” Norton said.

The board did vote to send a resolution* to the governor, lawmakers and the state’s political parties asking them to work with the state school board to support the Common Core for the good of Utah’s students.

The resolution follows a letter sent by members of Congress, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, last week to Senate budget leaders asking them to eliminate “further interference by the U.S. Department of Education with respect to state decisions on academic content standards.”

—- —- —–

The Deseret News is carrying Common Core controversial news as well:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765628026/Utah-Common-Core-testing-fraught-with-flaws.html

The Nonsensical and ‘Lovey-Dovey’ National Governors’ Association   4 comments

Dear Christine Kearl,

It seems in the Governor’s best interest and in the best interest of Utahns for him to drop out of the National Governor’s Association (NGA).

This nonprofit, unelected group creates the illusion that Governors have a legitimate federal presence on a national stage, when Constitutionally, they do not. Our elected D.C. representatives are to govern national issues. Governors are to govern inside of states.

Texas Governor Perry does not feel that NGA membership is a smart use of taxpayer funds; Maine’s Governor LePage said,

“I get no value out of those meetings. They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey and no decisions are ever made.”

Please share this Heartland Institute article on the subject with the Governor as I can’t find a direct email address for him.

Utah’s Governor’s NGA membership is particularly problematic because the NGA/CCSSO 1) uses taxpayer dollars to pay Governors’ dues, 2) writes national educational standards behind closed doors, 3) allows no amendment process for those illegitimate national education standards, 4) allows for no voter representation, since the whole NGA governance setup is an unwanted step-sister to the American system of actual representation by proper channels; and 5) NGA is a federal contractor.

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/04/24/state-led-common-core-pushed-federally-funded-nonprofit

Please, let’s get out of this entangling alliance.

Christel Swasey

Heber, Utah

Utah Asst. Superintendent Dodges the Billion Dollar Question –Again   3 comments

After a whole year of never receiving an email response from Asst. Superintendent Judy Park, today she wrote back!  Wow.
But.  The billion dollar question was dodged again.  It’s been dodged in emails for over a year.  It was dodged twice more at last night’s Common Core (S.A.G.E./A.I.R.) presentation, both during and after the event.   But I wrote an email asking it again.
Here it is, and here’s her answer.

My Question:   Please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?

Ms. Park’s Answer:   You have received a great deal of information about the common core from Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent. I would encourage you to direct your questions about the common core to her.

Another dodge!  Another D O D G E!

Utterly, completely unbelievable!

This dodge is like building a house (a new Utah educational system) on quicksand (illegitimate standards) and insisting that everyone to keep admiring the roof (nifty technology) –and telling the homeowner (teacher/taxpayers/parents) who paid for the whole thing and will live in it for life, to quit asking the pesky questions about those sinking wobbly motions in the foundation, directing that homeowner to ask an irrelevant wallpaper hanger why the home was built in quicksand.

There comes a time when you either keep yelling at the t.v./radio/computer screen/newspaper, or you make a move.
Utah, I am asking you to make a move.  Call.  Write.  Tell our Governor, School Board, legislature and U.S.O.E.  that we deserve answers to these most basic of all questions that affect our children and grandchildren in dramatic ways, for the rest of their lives.  Please act. 
Here’s an email for the state school board: board@schools.utah.gov
This is what I wrote to Assistant Superintendent Judy Park today.
Judy,
Thank you for taking the time to partially respond to some of my questions.
Please– stop dodging the most important question, for me and for all Utahns.
“First, do no harm” applies to education as well as to medicine.  Please show us proof that the USSB/USOE is doing no harm by implementing Common Core; this should be easy.  Brenda Hales, the public relations person is not an academic expert; you are.  By dodging the question to her it appears that you don’t even know whether Common Core is snake oil –or not.
Don’t teachers, parents and legislators deserve to know that hundreds of millions of dollars and hours and children’s minds all pushing toward Common Core implementation is  being spent wisely?!   Do we not deserve to see evidence and references backing up the oft-repeated claim that these standards are helpful?
Where is the study showing that long-term, lives are enhanced when high school seniors are deprived of 70% of their classic literature?  Where is the study showing that long-term, students who are deprived of the knowledge of how to convert fractions into decimals, are blessed by that fact?  Countless examples could be shared.
You serve on the CCSSO, the D.C. group which developed and copyrighted these unproven standards.  You have been doing this longer than our State Superintendent and you stand uniquely qualified to answer questions about the academic  legitimacy of the standards and about the lack of any empirical evidence to back up the U.S.O.E.’s claims– which have been replicated on every district website in this stateand which are false.
The standards are not serving children honorably.  They take away from, rather than raise, Utah’s educational hopes.  Less classic literature.  Less traditional math.  Slowing of the age at which algorithms are introduced.  Less narrative writing.  Less parental consent.  No  district-held control over the sharing of student data.  And worst of all, the standards and connected reforms and mandates have robbed Utah of educational sovereignty, a constitutional right.  We have no voice, no amendment process.  For such a trade, the standards must surely be magnificent.
Yet you cannot even point me to the documentation that these standards are more than a blind experiment on our kids, written by noneducators and adopted at grant-point, rather than after thorough and honorable academic vetting in Utah?
This is an absolute outrage.
In the name of integrity, what are you going to do about it?
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
Utah Parent

So Who Has Authority? Who’s on First?   3 comments

The question of who’s controlling education today could be fodder for a hilarious classic comedy skit, like “Who’s On First?”

–Except that messing with our children and wasting tens of millions of hard-earned tax dollars ain’t  funny.

Does anyone really know the answer to the question of who has the authority to change Utah’s education standards today?  Where is the statewide pressure point?  Does the state board have to change the standards –or can the legislature?  Can the Governor?

Utahns have been contacting their school boards and teachers and local superintendents.  The school boards and superintendents insist, “It came down to us from the state.  Our hands are tied.  We have to do Common Core.”
They feel it is a mandate that they can’t get out of.

 

Utahns also contact their elected representatives about Common Core.  These representatives and D.C. congressmen almost unanimously say that they are also concerned about Common Core, but are not sure the legislature can do anything about it.  They then redirect citizens back to the local and state school boards.  The buck gets passed back again.

 

Utahns have spoken with the Governor about this.  He tells us he’s for Common Core because he believes that teachers and principals are for it.  But teachers won’t speak up (except anonymously, or except if they are retired) because they fear for their jobs.  So how would the governor or anyone really know what teachers are feeling?  They don’t.

 

Governor Herbert does sit on the board of the NGA/CCSSO that wrote and copyrighted the standards.  (But no, he can’t affect the standards.  The NGA/CCSSO position is a token position that makes the governor –and Utah– buy into the idea that Utah has a voice in Common Core, even though we don’t.)

Constitutionally, the Department of Education has zero authority to direct states’ educational systems, although many Utahns act as though there is no constitutional rule on the matter.  To our detriment.

In 2007, Utahns got the superintendent and state board to change the standards because concerned parents brought the standards under fire from the legislature.  But today, with a copyrighted Common Core held by the very D.C. groups that wrote Common Core –the NGA and CCSSO– parents can’t pressure the state to improve standards anymore.
So no one knows who’s in charge, but all believe and repeat the claim that it’s not the Federal Government.  Now that is classic confusion!
It is worse than the blind leading the blind.
When the academic, privacy,  financial and legal liabilities fallout, as soon as a majority of people realize how bad Common Core really is, who will take the blame?
I don’t know;  but I know who gets hurt:  the voiceless, totally unrepresented student whose data gets mined in the name of “human capital,” and whose educational standards have sunk to a mediocre common denominator, written by  designing individuals and by corporate greed –not by educators at all.

Because Stalking is Creepy –Especially When the Government Does It   Leave a comment

Michelle Malkin’s true to her word. She said her New Year’s Resolution would be to expose the truth about Common Core, and she’s well on her way. Her fourth installment in the series “Rotten to the Core” is out.

In “The Feds’ Invasive Student Tracking Data Base” Malkin brings up the fact that while millions of Americans worry about government drones spying on citizens from the skies, millions are unaware that Washington is already spying on us using a web of recent “education reforms” known as the Common Core Initiative.

Malkin shares a link to the National Data Collection Model which asks states to report intimate details of an individual’s life, including bus stop times, parental names, nicknames, languages spoken, and more.

Reading her article made me think of last year’s “child privacy no more” revelation.

Last year, when I first learned these student data tracking facts, I contacted my state school board to ask if there was an opt-out privilege.  Could my public school attending child NOT be intimately tracked by the state’s SLDS data collection system?  The answer came back, eventually.  They said NO.  They blamed it on the technology: the technology doesn’t allow us to opt certain children out.

Agencies mashing data = citizen surveillance but under the nice concept of "sharing".

The idea of “data driven decision making” has become a passion to many educrats, corporate icons  and government leaders (Think Obama, Duncan, Joanne Weiss,  –or Utah’s  own John Brandt, David Wiley, and Judy Park).

“Data Driven” is a  concept used as justification  for behavior that in the end amounts to corporate/government stalking of children –without any parental consent.

I’m not using the word “stalking” facetiously. Does the governmental obsession with personal data collection differ from stalking?

Individual stalkers have their reasoning for doing what they do, that makes sense to them, just as gleaning student data without parental consent  that makes sense in Utah’s education leaders’ own heads, too.

I can think of only one answer to the question of how these differ:  an individual stalker tends to stalk just one person at a time and rarely “inspires” millions to help stalk.

So what do we do? Let’s look at our options. We can:

1. Dismiss facts and call student stalking by government a silly conspiracy theory —even though there’s nothing secret about it— as many do.

or–

2. Wake up, stand up and tell our state leaders that we and our children have had enough.

J.R. Wilson: Parents Need to Know About Student Data Privacy

Our Governor’s To-Do list:

1. Read the Constitution closely and think about what freedom looks like, in comparison to what Utah leaders promote;

2. Shut down Utah’s SLDS, P-20, and Prosperity 2020 systems;

3. Fire John Brandt, Judy Park, the Utah Data Alliance staff, and everyone who works as if “1984” was an instruction manual for school improvement;

4. Stop accepting money and directives from the Dept. of Ed.;

5. Cancel membership with the National Governors’ Association;

6.  Get rid of the trojan horse of Common Core which serves the tracking goals of the federal and corporate elite;

7. Insist that only parents of school-aged children, people who honor freedom, not socialism –and know the difference– serve on any school board;

8.  End cradle to grave tracking in the state.

Public-Private-Partnerships: What Osmond’s Preschool Bill and Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 have in common   4 comments

My brother called the other day to ask me what I thought of the radio ads for “Prosperity 2020.” In my gut I knew there was something bad about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on what.  But thanks to Professor Steven Yates’ white paper on the subject of public-private partnerships, now I get it.

It wasn’t just “Prosperity 2020″ that made me do this research.  I’d also been working out why UT Sen. Osmond’s early childhood education bill, SB17, was so wrong.  It was more than SB17’s way of tempting low income parents to drop their kids in the free government daycare to go to work that made me so uncomfortable.  It was also, I now clearly see, the fact that Osmond’s bill uses private money to create a public service.

The Governor’s project is Prosperity 2020; Osmond’s is  SB17.

So why are both Governor Herbert and Senator Osmond –two Utah Republicans who call themselves conservatives– pushing for public-private partnerships (PPPs)  in Utah?

I still believe that these are decent men who honestly believe their respective projects will benefit Utah.

But sincerity does not trump truth.

Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 and Osmond’s SB17  create public-private partnerships that compromise vital American principles of free enterprise and limit the self-control of citizens’ lives by allowing unelected businesspeople, with government, to view individuals as collectively owned  “human capital.”

There’s nothing wrong with businesses and government working in harmony; of course, that is what a good society does.  Problems come when business leaders (unelected) begin to shape binding government policies.  An elected politician is accountable to his consituency of voters who can unelect him. But who, for example, is Microsoft’s or Pearson company’s constituency?  When Pearson or Gates help set binding education / business policies for Utah, how can voters alter that?

(It must be especially difficult for Senator Osmond to recognize the trouble with blending business and government, since he sits on the Senate Education Committee while being employed by Pearson, the company Utah has partnered with to provide educational technology and educational products.  –But that’s a topic for another day. )

It’s not that these men are calculating socialists.  Not at all; they’re just short on research.  They don’t recognize what their new alignments of public-private partnerships (PPPs) end up creating.

Many have explained the trouble with blending business and government in partnership. They call it soft fascism:  I think of it as fascism by consensus.  In the case of Prosperity 2020, it’s soft, consensual fascism via good marketing.  (Have you heard the many recent radio ads for Prosperity 2020?)

I’ve never seen PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) better explained than by Professor Steven Yates, whose white paper on the subject was presented at a conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 2006.  I’m going to quote him extensively here.

His paper, “Sustainable Development: Public-Private Partnerships, the undermining of free enterprise, and the emergence of soft facism Sustainable Development: the Hidden Threat to Liberty,  was published a few years ago: http://files.meetup.com/1387375/LIBERTYGARDEN-PPP.pdf   (www.freedom21santacruz.net)

Professor Yates’ paper is long but great.  See it here. 

I’ve taken the time to scoop up his main points.

 

  • 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
  • The PPP system is fascist since it involves corporations and governments working together to make policy; it is soft fascist because it is not overtly totalitarian.
  • 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

Yates also writes:

“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…

…How did the enthusiasm for public-private partnerships begin, and what do they have to do with sustainable development? We can the idea of the comprehensively planned society at least to Plato, who envisioned such a society in his Republic. In the Republic, there is a place for everyone and everyone knows his place. Properly educated philosopher-kings rule—because by virtue of their educations they are most suited to rule.

…In modern times we must cite the collectivism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau…  And we could cite G.W.F. Hegel (author of The Philosophy of Right and other works), inventor of the idea of the state as the historical manifestation of the Absolute. In the Hegelian vision, the individual belongs to the state.

…Characteristic of all these visions is that once implemented, the individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective. He is not to be allowed to direct his own paths, but is compelled down paths laid by those in power…

…The long-term goal here is what can be increasingly envisioned as an emerging world state with many facets (the three E’s of sustainable development being equity, economy, environment—with a prospective ‘fourth E’ being education).

This world state will gradually subsume and eradicate nation-states until the phrase United States of America names not a sovereign country but a large tract of micromanaged real estate—at least half of which will be off-limits to human beings.

By the start of the 2000 decade, one city or town after another all across the country was bringing in “consultants” and having “visioning” sessions.

… Communities began to be transformed from within, typically with the full cooperation of mayors and other elected officials, other local government officials, business groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, presidents of local colleges, and neighborhood-association groups. Plans with names such as Vision 2025… would result from these sessions.

The idea was to build up a form of capitalism that would transform itself into socialism via the collectivization of its participants through, e.g., self-directed work teams...Education had become entirely group-focused through group projects and group grades. Thus the business personnel turned out would have no moral center other than the collectivist one. It also became increasingly vocation-focused….

…In some cases, the use of public-private partnerships to facilitate the construction of more government schools has been promoted. On other occasions, public-private partnerships actually get involved in instruction and curriculum development themselves, sometimes beginning with very small children, e.g., the Child  Care Partnership Project. This entity serves as a kind of incubator for public-private partnerships between state-level child care administrators and businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and other groups.

Education, unsurprisingly, is a preoccupation of elite groups such as the World Economic Forum, which sponsored the Global Education Initiative… The vision for the Global Education Initiative (GEI) was conceived during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2003. Together, business leaders of the Information Technology and Telecommunications Community of the Forum launched an initiate to create new sustainable models for education reform in the developing world through public-private partnership.

 

School-To-Work education, of course, emphasizes vocation at the expense of academics, i.e., traditional subject areas

Vocationalism in education makes sense, if one’s goals are social engineering. It will turn out human worker bees who lack the mental tools to think about the policies shaping their lives.

… [The US] first integrated education and government via the Goals 2000 Educate America Act, then education and business via the School-to-Work Opportunities Act and finally business and government with the others via the Workforce Investment Act.

…Among the casualties of this system are traditional academic subjects, which are relegated to the status of decorations as job training is ratcheted up.

Students are compelled to select a “career cluster” as early as the eighth grade. As they near graduation they find themselves sent to work sites for labor training instead of in classrooms learning reading, mathematics, history, government, and so on.

Public-private partnerships are fundamentally different from previous organizations and collaborations that have involved businesstheir widespread adoption is bringing about a form of “governance” that is alien to the founding principles of the United States (Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed) and inimical to individual liberty.

We have begun to see government not by consent of the governed, but “governance” (i.e., control) by committee, and by bureaucracy.

This brand of “governance” employs an arsenal of tricks imported from behavioral psychology, such as the use of Delphi technique to coerce a “consensus” by intimidating and marginalizing critics.

Government  “partnerships” … do not stem from its mandate to protect life, liberty, and private property...

Public-private partnerships do not fit into the conceptual model of free enterprise. 

… We should be vigilant to the possibility—probability—that something has gone badly wrong even if the language of free enterprise is still used…  A public-private partnership will always have as its goal a business-making venture that requires some form of “governance.”  The question is, since the players will vary in experience and wealth, who has the most power? We know from life itself that whoever has the most money has the power… Representative government loses… free enterprise is compromised. The economic system begins its move from a one based on liberty and productivity to one based on control

If corporations have the most money—as is often the case—they will obtain levels of power that make them as dangerous as any government not on a constitutional leash.

[Soft fascism] can be understood only in the context of the “fourth E” of sustainable development: education.

American history discloses two broad philosophies of education, what I will call the classical model and the vocational model.

The classical model incorporates the full scope of liberal arts, including history and civics, logic and philosophy, theology, mathematics as reasoning, economics including personal finance and money management. Its goal is an informed citizen who understands something of his or her heritage and of the principles of sound government and sound economics generally.

The vocational model considers education sufficient if it enables to graduate to be a tradesman or obedient worker.

History, logic, etc., have little to contribute to this, and so are ratcheted down, as in the School-To-Work model.

Mathematical education, for example, will be sufficient if it enables students to use calculators instead of their brains…

He will go along… according to the Hegelian model of education that subordinated the individual to the “needs” of the state or of society.… vocational programs “school” students to fit the needs of the “global economy” seen as an autonomous, collective endeavor, instead of educating individuals to find their own ways in the world, shaping the economy to meet their needs.

This system is fascist since it involves corporations and governments working together to make policy; it is soft fascist because (due to the lack of genuine education) it is not overtly totalitarian.

… This is not a “conspiracy theory,” even though you will not hear it reported on the 6 o’clock news. It is as much a fact as gravity. It is not even hidden from us; the documents supporting such claims, penned by their own advocates, are readily available to anyone willing to do some elementary research…”

—– —— —–

It is worth your time to read all of Yates’ white paper.

   Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 and Osmond’s SB17  create public-private partnerships that compromise vital American principles of free enterprise and limit the self-control of citizens’ own lives by allowing unelected businesspeople, with government, to view individuals as collectively owned  “human capital.”

Utah Legislation Going On Right Now   Leave a comment

Senator Aaron Osmond

State School Board Chair Debra Roberts

Representative Kraig Powell

Governor Gary Herbert

We are not put here on earth only to eat cupcakes, to quote one another and make each other feel lovely.  We are here to STAND UP and DO something when we see our freedoms being threatened, or when we see corruption or cruelty or lying or any wrong thing.

One verse that I particularly relate to in the Book of Mormon is this:  “And it came to pass that Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country.”  (Alma 59:13)

I could paste it right into my diary:  “And it came to pass that Christel was angry with the [Utah State School Board, Federal Dept. of Education, Governor Herbert, Representative Powell and Senator Aaron Osmond] because of their indifference concerning the [educational] freedom of the country.”

In the Book of Mormon, there are two Moronis.  This Moroni was a military captain, a great patriot, of whom it was previously written:  “if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. (Alma 48:17)

Where are our local Moronis?  I think in D.C. we have two:  I’ve seen Senator Chaffetz and Senator Lee each valiantly take on corruption and assaults on America’s freedom.  Lee fought Hillary Clinton’s U.N. “Let’s take over the American oceans” treaty.  Chaffetz put the “Fast and the Furious” corruption on trial at the Executive level.  I haven’t followed all they’ve done, but what I’ve seen matches the spirit of Moroni’s fight for freedom.

But locally, we could really use more.

Today, I’m extremely upset with Senator Aaron Osmond for promoting SB100, a bill sponsored by Sen. J. Stevenson.  I realize these legislators don’t have malicious intent, but neither do they seem to see what is so clear when you have studied what socialism is, and what our Constitution is supposed to protect.  They just haven’t studied enough!

If you go to the Utah Legislative website right now it will say that the bill is passing merrily along with no trouble.  Why?  Have these legislators really not done any homework at all, or are they complicit with the socialist/globalist goals of those who wish to degrade the United States? SB100 gives preferential treatment to IB schooling in Utah, (and permits the expense of IB).  International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, curriculum and tests are in no way accountable to Utah teachers, parents or the State School Board. It is a program run globally out of Switzerland, with tests graded by IB staff, and no say for any local voice in what is tested or taught. None. Additionally, IB curriculum promotes global citizenship, meaning that any country or system (such as the U.S. Constitution and its God-respecting principles) is no better or worse than ANY other– it’s equally to be taught and honored as is the communism of China, the socialism of Sweden, or the evil dictatorship of North Korea.  IB cloaks itself in tolerance and global awareness, but it is anti-American in its refusal to acknowledge the superiority and goodness of any political system over another.  There are other problems with IB.  But that is the only one that is a real dealbreaker for me.

Meanwhile, Representative Kraig Powell has bought, hook, line and sinker, the notion that “global warming” and “climate change” are settled science– so much so that he’s pushing a bill run by environmentalist extremists in Utah.  If you read the Twitter feeds or the newspapers, you will see it.  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/55764715-90/utah-climate-committee-bill.html.csp?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

It’s funny because just this week, there’s also news that makes Rep. Powell’s ideas look silly, saying that science shows humans are not creating global warming, even if it is somehow legitimately ever proven that the earth is warming, that it’s going to do real damage, or that legislation can alter its outcomes.  Read that science here:  http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/11/19/study-drought-trends-estimates-possibly-overstated-due-to-inaccurate-science/ and here: http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/13919-new-report-man-made-global-warming-is-a-farce

I’ve never spoken to Sen. J. Stevenson, but have repeatedly spoken with Senator Osmond and Kraig Powell about these bills and I’ve asked them to run bills helping Utah to shake itself free of the chains of Common Core.  Neither will act.  Senator Osmond, of course, is an employee of Pearson Company, the main purveyor of Common Core and global same-education implementation products worldwide, (and Pearson has huge contracts with the State School Board of Utah) so Osmond’s not motivated to even study this stuff.

Powell, I can’t figure out.  I see him in the hallway at church sometimes and we smile at each other and there’s no animosity from either of us.  He knows a ton about Common Core because many of us in Heber have knocked ourselves over trying to educate him and get him to help us in this fight.  But he has a lot of liberal and socialist friends, and friends in education who believe the claims of the proponents of Common Core.  And I guess that’s why he won’t act.  I don’t know, really.

Then there’s Governor Herbert.  Just this week he was in D.C. testifying about how wonderful it is that Utah is aligning education with business to create a managed workforce.  Sorry, but the whole Prosperity 2020 thing sounds exactly like socialism to me: manage the people; use your “human capital,” and I don’t see much liberty or individuality in that. Our Governor is likewise doing nothing about the data collection invasion that his state technology director, John Brandt, is foisting upon Utah, using six Utah agencies in his Utah Data Alliance.  Brandt gives speeches for the federal agencies like NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) as well.  He cannot be ignorant about the damages he’s doing to student and citizen privacy in our state.  Can the governor be?

I hope and pray that better people will be willing to study these important issues, compare them to the original founding fathers’ documents, and to scripture, and to common sense, and to real, actual, empirical science.

I hope many of these good people then decide to run for office or school board or city council –or at least teach those who do, by studying the political movements and by trying to influence them correctly.

We need more people with good brains and solid hearts, who have an abiding testimony that the spirit of Christ is the spirit of freedom and truth, that the Constitution is a tangible reality to honor –and not something to claim that you honor while you write socialist bills.

I get the feeling that Herbert, Powell and Osmond actually like people like me.  They see us as cheerleaders for the Constitution and for the GOP.  They pat us on the head, figuratively, and say, “Run along now, dearie, and thanks for your enthusiasm,” while they continue to lead us down the path toward total socialism, which is the same thing, years down the developmental (progressive) path, as communism:  total control of the state of each individual, including the absorption of property rights and family authority over the child.  This is what I see as the result of  Powell’s climate philosophy, Osmond’s education bill, and Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 (business-and-education-partnership).

Yes, I’m angry.  We deserve more from these men.

Want to “shake the powers of hell” like Moroni?  Vote in some guys like this ancient defender of freedom:

“And Moroni was… a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood… this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.” (Alma 48)

Moroni wrote a letter to his political representative.  He said:

“Great has been your neglect towards us.  And now behold, we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state.  Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor, while your enemies are spreading the work of death around you?” (Alma 60)

And that is how I feel.  The neglect of Herbert, Powell, the State School Board and Osmond is not a lack of sending provisions, but in their having done so little research homework, or, if they have done their research, the neglect is in not acting upon the truth when they learned it.

Wasatch County Republican Party Essay Contest   Leave a comment

The Wasatch County Republican Party has invited citizens to write essays answering the question:

How do conservative principles impact the happiness and prosperity of all Americans?”

The winning essay will be presented at next week’s Lincoln Day breakfast, where Utah’s Governor Herbert, Senator Van Tassel, Senator Chaffetz, Representative Powell and many others will be in attendance and/or will be speaking.  The deadline for entries is tomorrow.

I’m posting my essay here. Because the conservative principles that touch me most are “consent of the governed” and “local

control” (especially, of course, of children’s education)

The Consent of the Governed/ Local Control

A University of Utah exhibit recently displayed original letters, newspapers and books that had been written by colonial American freedom fighters such as Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. On display also were original documents written by British loyalists.
Never before had I read both the freedom fighters’ side of the argument and the other side’s articulate point of view. A heated argument ran through the documents. It boiled down to this: either you stood for local freedom, or you stood for remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative system.
The arguments illustrated the conflict that exists between conservative principles– government by the consent of the governed and local control– versus opposing principles: rule assumed by the will of others, (such as rule by a king) or top-down, unrepresentative, distant control.
In retrospect, it feels obvious that the freedom fighters’ side of the issue was right.

But during the debates of the 1770’s it was not so clear. Both sides had reasoning that made some sense.

Similar, confusing battles about freedom go on in America today– battles for local control, independence, and real representation. These battles continue because some Americans think –or hope– that we live in a top-down kingdom, with the President like a Pharaoh ruling over the states. But our nation is a Constitutional Republic, ruled by laws and by a separation of powers into three branches, each of which is equal– the Supreme Court, Congress, and the Executive Branch. There is a balance of roles for the states and the federal government to play. There is no Pharaoh.

Because I’ve been a teacher most of my life, my freedom-focus is on the ongoing battle for local educational freedom. This is a Constitutional right I wish to preserve. But it will not be, unless enough people: a) realize that we’ve recently given away that right, by adopting Common Core standards and tests, and: b) realize the strength of our position to reclaim our educational sovereignty, because of the Constitution.

The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution gives states the sole right to set education policy. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States…or to the people.” States should never have given that power away to a federal agency nor to any out-of-state test writing consortia, regardless of any federal incentives, but many did.

An additional law, the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states that the federal government is forbidden to “exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

Yet the Common Core State Standards, which were incentivized and promoted by the Department of Education, lured Utah and many other states from their previously held educational autonomy.

How did Common Core take over? It slid under the public radar, wearing the sheep’s clothing of a grant opportunity called Race to the Top (RTTT). When Utah applied for the lottery-styled RTTT grant, one condition the federal agency had set to improve a state’s chances of winning was that states would agree to adopt Common Core. Although Utahns hadn’t read it, the school board agreed to it without public vetting. The board wanted the funds and the deadline was short.

RTTT money went to a some states, but not to Utah. Still, states who applied had agreed to adopt Common Core regardless of the money. States adopting Common Core “sold their educational birthrights without even getting the mess of pottage,” observed S.C. Senator Mike Fair.

But who noticed? With Common Core came loud promises of grandeur. Common Core claimed it would increase college readiness and would promote international competitiveness, and it was said to be “state-led”–without federal strings attached. Sadly, the claims were the opposite of what Common Core would actually do.

Along with questions of the Common Core harming quality education, creating huge data privacy invasions and gouging taxpayers, the bigger issue, which newspapers seemed to miss, was an irreparable concern –beyond the educational standards themselves. It was the principle of local control; educational free agency. Standards and tests would no longer be set by states.

Nationwide, debate about Common Core asks: Is student-centered or teacher-directed learning more effective; is cursive important; is common core math an increase in rigor or a dumbing down?

Calling the Common Core an improvement seems unreasonable, since its deletes cursive, minimizes narrative writing, eliminates a majority of classic literature and stunts math teaching. But even if the Common Core standards were actually good, the debaters miss a much bigger picture: they have given up local control over changing the standards; have given up the right to meaningfully argue about standards anymore.

Common Core standards are tightly controlled. First, they are under copyright by the CCCSSO/NGA, groups which claim to be the “sole developers”; second, there is no amendment process, thus no way citizens can vote out those who write the standards; and last, the federal government has put an additional 15% cap on top of the copyright, so no state may add anything to the standards.

But the standards don’t need federal police enforcement or the 15% cap; the tests themselves will motivate compliance. Teachers, prodded by the knowledge that their jobs are at stake if students test poorly on the tests, will naturally teach only the Common Core standards and will use the model curriculum being created by the federally funded test writers.

Where’s the freedom in that? Where’s the local control?

Common Core proponents say, “We can exit Common Core anytime we like.” That’s like a 1770’s colonist saying, “We can toss tea into the ocean any time,” while deliberately investing their personal fortunes and their children’s apprenticeships in British tea.

It is true that states may withdraw from Common Core, but it is unlikely to happen. The public has been led –by falsehood– to believe that the standards are good for our children, and the public has been denied a truthful taxpayers’ cost analysis of the implementation price tag of Common Core.

Now, with every Common Core textbook we purchase, with every Common Core teacher development seminar we fund, with every day that brings us closer to the Common Core national tests of 2014, we incrementally give up the likelihood that we will ever again govern education locally. The academic and financial costs are inestimable.

The Department of Education is poised to encroach further. After providing funds to make longitudinal database systems for all states to be interoperable with other states’ agencies, the Department made sure its system (via the National Center for Educational Statistics model and via alterations to FERPA privacy regulations) would have access to personal, nonacademic student data and academic data without parental consent.

The Department has made sure it can view the state-collected student data via the Common tests. The Department signed “Cooperative Agreements” with consortia representatives which bound states to share testing ideas and results with other testing consortia, under the eye of the Department of Education.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people; the world has flocked to American universities; we have had one of the most intellectually diverse education systems in the world. But an additional, painful cost to American freedom will be the loss of diversity and excellence to come soon to American universities. Common Core’s rigid K-12 tests, and also the new college entrance tests, will force everyone, from preschool through college, to march to the same dreary tune: governmentally-capped standards and tests.

The new president of the U.S. College Board, David Coleman, who also led the writing of the ELA Common Core, is aligning college entrance exams (SAT) with Common Core. So universities, via the common tests, will necessarily cater to the Common Core, which will do them significant harm. (Remember, Common Core minimizes literature, deletes cursive, reverts Algebra II from 8th to 9th grade, and reverts Calculus from high school to college level. –Among other damages.)

What can be done?

South Carolina, Indiana and Missouri have written legislation to withdraw their states from Common Core. If Utah does not follow suit, and declare independence from Common Core, the state will be increasingly managed as an educational colony under federal and CCSSO/NGA rules, with no say in testing, standards or over the privacy of students. Our founding fathers gave states the responsibility to educate in our Constitutional Republic. Unless we remember and use this privilege, it’s gone.

Thomas Paine described the 1776 opportunity to depart from England’s rule: “like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak, the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.”

Our current opportunity to declare independence by withdrawing from a national Common Core is just as real.

Call to Action   Leave a comment

The Utah Legislative Session begins in two weeks. It is short.

Please call legislators, state school board members and Governor Herbert and ask for the following:

•   UT LEGISLATORS MUST WRITE FREEING LEGISLATION – Utah should reclaim its educational sovereignty by following the lead of states such as Indiana and South Carolina which are attempting to break free of Common Core by writing legislation that halts it.

 

WHY?

•   PRIVACY ISSUES – Common Core testing requires that every student be tracked using personally identifiable information that is sent beyond the local school and district to six Utah agencies (Utah Data Alliance) and uses the federally instated “State Longitudinal Database System” (SLDS) which allows interoperability for all states and federal oversight. The Dept. of Education has been sued because it altered Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations without congressional approval to empower common core testing data to be accessed by them and others. These alterations redefine terms such as “authorized representative,” “directory information” and “educational program” to remove the obligation of school systems to keep family information private.

•  NO COST ANALYSIS – It is utterly irresponsible to have no cost analyis on Common Core. One of Texas’ and Virginia’s reasons for rejecting it was financial. Texas estimated $560 million just in CC professional development costs. Utah just spent $39 million just on CC test development alone. Corporations such as Pearson, Microsoft, Wireless Generation, and countless others will become wealthy at students’ learning expense and at taxpayer expense as they implement the mandates of common core in textbooks, teacher development courses and technology and sell them to us.

NO ACADEMIC ANALYSIS – The standards and the preschool- through-workforce system they promote (P-20 system) are not only what amounts to an unfunded mandate; they are academically inferior to what we had before and far inferior to what top states (Massachusetts) had before.  The line about “rigor” is a false claim, especially at the high school level. Members of the official CC validation committee Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram refused to sign off that these standards were rigorous or legitimate. We note that CC was written without input from any of the major curriculum research universities and is an unpiloted experiment without any metric to measure intended or unintended consequences. Its harms are less marked for lower grades, yet it slashes classic literature by 70% for high school seniors and dramatically dumbs down high school math.

ILLEGALITY ISSUES – There is a Constitutional ban on federal direction of instruction which is underscored in the 10th amendment and further clarified in a law called the General Educational Provisions Act. Yet the Dept. of Education has gone around the law and congress to promote the copyrighted CC standards (developed by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and has put a 15% cap on top of it, so that no state may add freely to the supposed “minimum” standards. Additionally, the CC national tests are written specifically to CC standards, to divest the 15% allowance of states’ “wiggle room” of meaning. The Dept. of Education has coerced states into adopting the CC, using the lure of possible grant monies, and this financial incentivization has not put the best academic interests of children first.

Additionally, share a video link:

There are five short videos which explain Common Core very simply and with verifiable references  (point out that the State Office of Education does not provide references for claims in any explanation of what Common Core is.)

There are 5 videos and each is short.  The American Principles Project created them, with Concerned Women of Georgia.

http://stopcommoncore.com/youtube-channel-dvd/

Dear Dr. Menlove, Utah State School Board, USOE and Governor Herbert:   Leave a comment

Dear Dr. Menlove, Board, USOE and Governor Herbert:

 

Please see what the U.S. Department of Education is pushing in this document.http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/internationaled/international-strategy-2012-16.pdf

Compare it to Agenda 21 of the United Nations, the  “Reorientation of Education”:http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_36.shtml and

http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/res_agenda21_25.shtml

Then tell me there’s not an active attack happening against U.S. freedom, using our public schools and our school children.

 

I want to know what prevents you, our Utah leaders, from fighting for our education freedoms.

 

Please take the time to respond.

 

 

Christel Swasey

Utah teacher

Governor Herbert in Heber City’s Fair Days Parade   Leave a comment

It was good to see Governor Herbert at the parade today, wearing his cowboy hat.

I believe he had something to do with the state school board’s decision to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortium just yesterday.

Thank you, Governor Herbert!

Posted August 4, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Dr. Sandra Stotsky to Utah: We Can Write Higher, Better Standards — Free   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,

I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium.  It was a heroic moment and America is watching.

Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required  SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.

I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education.  Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.

This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests.  Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests.  Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.

I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests.  But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level.  Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to “help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well.  These things trouble me.  I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.

–Or are we?  Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue.  This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC.  If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties.  Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government.  We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.

On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends.  I have asked a question but have not received a response:  does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?

We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards.  We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core.  Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top.  Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA.  Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road.  Does Utah really want that?  If so, why?  Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions?  Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?

Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth:  that Common Core is not rigorous enough.  It does not solve our very real educational problems.

First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre.  Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.

Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.

Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards.  She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.

Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement.  1) States can use Common Core.  Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark.  If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!

    Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free.   She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.

Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.

Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.

Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

HOW TO CONTACT UTAH SCHOOL BOARD, UTAH GOVERNOR AND LEADERS   Leave a comment

Please contact our governor and his education advisors. They need to know what the voice of the people is on the subject of education reform.  These issues do not go to a vote. Nobody in Utah has ever voted on whether or not we should be in the Common Core movement. 

But these people hold the power to get us out:

      

Utah Governor Herbert:  http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html

Utah Education Director: ckearl@utah.gov

Utah School Superintendent:  larry.shumway@schools.utah.gov

Utah State School Board: Board@schools.utah.gov

Your local school board:  http://www.onlineutah.com/schooldistricts.shtml

Be that one person whose voice is heard joining the many across our nation that still believe in individual rights.

Take a high-heeled stand-up moment for freedom.

Opinion Editorial #2: The Common Core Initiative: What’s Hidden Between the Lines? (not yet published)   Leave a comment

The Common Core Initiative:  What’s hidden between the lines?

by Christel Swasey

Ever since I saw Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy’s “2 Moms Against Common Core,” I’ve barely slept.  My laundry is backed up.  I’m losing weight. All I do is research the Common Core Initiative (CCI).

I talk to teachers.  I read think tanks and pester the U.S.O.E.  I compare the Education Secretary’s public letters to his dense grants and legal agreements.

On Wednesday I joined Alisa and Renee to petition the Governor to study Utah’s loss of control of education under CCI.

We noted that all academic elements of Common Core are in public domain; if we like them, we can keep them.  But CCI membership comes with federal intrusion that robs Utah of sovereign rights, commits Utah to foot the bill, and silences educational freedom.  A collection of evidence is posted at whatiscommoncore.blogspot.com.

How did Utah’s educational freedom get hijacked without a peep out of Utah?  How did CCI slide under the radar of legislators and taxpayers?  Can we turn around this loss of state control over education?  YES–  if people view CCI as more than an academic change. It’s up to us to act.

The State Superintendent won’t act. He sits as board member of three pro-Common Core groups. Two promoted and developed CCI’s federal standards; the other is the test maker.

The State School Board won’t act. That board is so collectively pro-CCI that they’ve devised a way to make sure nobody can get elected who isn’t pro-CCI: a survey for candidates for School Board asks, (first question): “Are You For Common Core?”

The Governor might act.  His lawyers are studying statements from Arne Duncan versus compliance rules written by Duncan  which do conflict.

The burden of proving CCI is an asset rather than a liability to Utah, rests on Utah leaders and lawyers who refuse public debate, dodge phone calls and won’t answer questions such as:

1. Why haven’t teachers been told that everything about CC  was already available under public domain law?  CCI membership doesn’t give us anything but does dilute freedom.

2. Why has no cost analysis or legal analysis been done? A think-tank estimates CCI will cost each state hundreds of millions over the first seven years and will make states’ unique standards irrelevant. CCI violates laws against federal intrusion on states’ educational sovereignty. Why allow it?

3. If CCI is state-led and voluntary as it claims, why did Secretary Duncan rage when South Carolina withdrew? Why has Duncan required that testing arms must coordinate reporting to him and “across consortia”? Why can’t a state withdraw from SBAC without federal permission?

3. Why was no public or legislative input taken? Utah didn’t seek out CCI;  we joined as an afterthought, as a condition for candidacy to win a grant which we didn’t win.

4. Why did Utah agree to standards and assessments that hadn’t even been written in 2009 when we joined?

5. Why stay in? We have wiggle room now to get out; it’s the beginning of implementation.  Later, we’ll be too financially and technologically invested.

6. Why are there two different sets of standards?  The Utah Common Core (UCC) is being taught, while the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be the basis for the SBAC tests in 2014.

7.  Why did Utah take the CCI’s word for the idea that the standards were high enough?  CCSS won’t ready students for average colleges like University of California, said Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman. Stanford Professor Michael Kirst and Validation Committee Member Professor Sandra Stotsky called CCSS standards low.

8. Why did Utah join, when free-thinking states like and Texas and Virginia refused? CCI was cost prohibitive,  lowered some standards, and deleted sovereignty, they said.

9. Why did the National PTA accept a two million dollar “donation” to one-sidedly promote CCI?

10. Why is there no amendment process for the federal  standards upon which kids will be tested? 

11. Why has no one noticed that the SBAC test is as much a nationalized personal data collection vehicle as it is an academic test? 

12. Why is there no transparency? Educators are in a spiral of silence that prevents them from voicing concerns.

Who will stand up and respond with real evidence to these questions?

The lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education asked me to not engage in public debate. She deflected questions rather than answering them.  Isn’t it my right and responsibility to ask questions?  As a lawyer for the Utah State Office of Education, doesn’t she have a duty to answer?

Heber City Residents Petition Governor to Get Utah Out of the Common Core Initiative   1 comment

Heber City Residents Petition Governor to Get Utah Out of the Common Core Initiative

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