Archive for the ‘human-rights’ Tag

Fighting the Adoption of Common Core-aligned Science Standards and Textbooks   1 comment

None of us have enough time to process, comprehend and then fight against all of the intrusions on our time and our God-given rights and liberty.

But some things are more important than others.  And fighting the adoption of Common Core-aligned science standards and textbooks must be high on the To-Do list.

Heartland Institute’s Joy Pullman explains it in a great article found here.  http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards

She writes: “Individual liberty advocates counter that centralization in education is as foolish and damaging as centralizing the economy. They note the ideological tendencies of science education toward politics as a substitute for actual science, particularly in the area of highly debatable global warming alarmism, which is falsely assumed as reality in these standards. The standards also promote a simplified understanding of science and are still incoherent despite revisions…. They ignore central scientific concepts and push a progressive teaching style that has been proven to erode student learning…”

Yet textbook companies are rewriting science to align to the false assumptions of common core, so even those states who wisely rejected the common core or who aim to do so, will likely end up with common core textbooks anyway.

Here’s a letter I wrote to my local and state school boards and superintendents today.

Dear Superintendent and School Boards,
Our homeschooling group attended the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City yesterday. What a wonderful museum.  The Mummy exhibit was fascinating, the hands-on digital learning activities were great, the craft workshop and prosthetics exhibits and art were absolutely engaging for visitors of all ages.
But in the multi-room exhibit entitled “Human Rights Exhibit,” visitors were shown not only ecology art, but vocabulary words in the context of the claim that human behavior is killing plant and animal life –and will likely kill off the human race.  There were paintings of futuristic apartment projects teetering dangerously close to the ocean, on islands and cliffs.  The captions stated that because of the FACT of global warming and oceanic flooding, people will be living like this.
I use this as an example of the unscientific assumptions and lies being taught all around us, which are also loading the common core-aligned science standards and science textbooks coming our way.
Let’s not turn a blind eye to the ongoing politically-based rewrite of actual science.  Let’s stand independent of this.  Let’s actually teach the kids hard science based on settled facts as we did in all the wise years up till now.
For a detailed list of news articles and science reviews of Common Core science standards and textbooks, please read this.
http://heartland.org/policy-documents/research-commentary-common-core-science-standards
We have Martell Menlove’s word that Utah will never adopt Common Core science and social studies standards.  But with the majority of textbook companies belonging to the monopoly of the insanely unrepresentative system of Common Core, we as a state have to go out of our way to find true science for our kids.  Let’s do it.
Thanks for listening.
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
Heber City
——————————————————-
Green Insanity in the Schools Update:
Update from Illinois:  http://www.christianconservativeresistance.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-i-was-banned-from-my-childrens.html
You have to read this woman’s blog.  First, she and her husband protested the Disney-like green propaganda film that was shown to the elementary school children to “teach” them that humans are destroying the earth. Then she was banned from volunteering in the school.  Then she was reinstated.  Sigh.
——

Yong Zhao: On Educational Freedom   3 comments

Yong Zhao

It’s always fun to watch smart people debate an important topic, but it’s especially satisfying when the person whose side you are on wins the day.  That is Yong Zhao, who seems to me not only smart but also wise.

Many are following the Marc Tucker/ Yong Zhao interchange about Common Core with great interest.  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker is an old pal and co-conspirator with Hillary Clinton, and their written “Let’s Take Over American Education” exchange has long been archived in the Congressional Record, partially because of its conspiratorial nature.  I’ve posted about it before: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/anti-liberty-plot-for-american-education-full-text-of-the-letter-from-marc-tucker-to-hillary-clinton-2/

So, Tucker is no friend to educational freedom;  Zhao is.

Here is almost the whole of the latest brilliant response to Tucker by Yong Zhao.  Full text here: http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker

17 January 2013

…It is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault).

I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries.

Now response to Tucker’s arguments point by point.

Tucker: It is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.

Zhao: First, it is not true that “it is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.” Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer thought it was so important to decide what children should learn that he wrote the essay What Knowledge is of Most Worth and came up with the answer “science” and his criteria was the utilitarian value of knowledge. He did not think Latin, Greek, and the classics were of much value for a person to live in a society being transformed by industrialization and history , to Spencer was “mere tissue of names and dates and dead unmeaning events…it has not the remotest bearings on any our actions.”

In 1892, the National Education Association (NEA) thought it was so important that it appointed the Committee of Ten, chaired by Harvard president Charles Elliot, to figure out what schools should teach.

In early 1900s, The NEA had another commission to rethink the curriculum and came up with The Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education

Activities intended to determine what all students should know and be able to do never actually stopped. In recent years, the 1994 Goals 2000 Act under President Clinton provided funds to develop standards that “identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.” Under NCLB, states were mandated to develop both content and academic achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.

There has never been a lack of attempts to figure out what all young people should know and be able to do, consequently there is no shortage of standards around. The fact that there have been so many attempts suggests the difficulty of the task. People simply cannot seem to agree what all children should know and learn in general. People cannot even agree what to teach in math, the supposedly the most straightforward, and have fought many math wars over the last century. It is actually a good thing, in my mind, that people cannot come to agreement and the American federal government was not given the authority to impose its own version upon all children. But despite the lack of a consistently implemented nationalized curriculum and standards, America did just fine as a nation.

The Common Core initiative seems to suggest that either there are no standards in America or the existing standards are not good enough. But what evidence is there to show the Common Core is better than previous ones, including those from all 50 states? Granted that things change and what students learn should reflect the changes, but how frequently should that happen? The state standards developed under NCLB are merely a decade old. If we have to make massive changes every five or 10 years, does not it mean it is nearly impossible to come up with content that is valid long enough for the nation’s over 100,000 schools to implement before it becomes outdated? If so, would it be much more likely that individual schools and teachers have a better chance to make the adjustment faster than large bureaucracies?

An anecdote: For hundreds of years it was possible for the adults in my little village in China to figure out what all children should know and be able to do: handling the water buffalo was one for the boys and sewing for the girls. My village was small and isolated, with around 200 people. But that predication became invalid when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s. The common standards in my village proved to be wrong later in at least two cases. First it did not work for me. I was pretty bad at what my village’s Common Core prescribed (handling the water buffalo) so I had to do something else (coming to America to debate with Marc Tucker, for example). Second, it did not work for the rest of the children in the village either, because working as a migrant worker in the city is different from handling a water buffalo.

Tucker: Truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it. They typically know a lot about unrelated things and their creativity comes from putting those unrelated things together in unusual ways. Learning almost anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, because, without that scaffolding, we are not able to put new information and skills to work.

Zhao: Very true, truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it, but do they know a lot about what they are passionate about, or what the government wants them to know? Do they work hard at learning something that is personally meaningful, or do they work hard at learning something prescribed by others?

Also true that learning anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, but what disciplines: math, science, the arts, music, languages, or politics? I am embarrassed to admit as a Chinese, I had horrible math scores in school, which is why I chose to study English, but somehow I am good at computer programming and developed large-scale software. I am also good at understanding statistics and empirical evidence.

Tucker: Zhao says that we will not be competitive simply by producing a nation of good test takers. That is, of course, true. Leading Asian educators are very much afraid that they have succeeded in producing good test takers who are not going to be very good at inventing the future. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility for figuring out what all students will need to know to be competitive in a highly competitive global labor market, nor does it absolve us of the responsibility to figure out how to assess the skills we think are most important.

Zhao: Is it responsibility or arrogance? Almost all totalitarian governments and dictators claim that they have the responsibility to engineer a society so their people can live happily and that their people are not capable of knowing what is good for them and top-level design is necessary. For example, they claim that their people cannot defend themselves against bad information, thus the leaders have to impose censorship. The leaders should decide what their people should view, listen to, and read. This self-assigned responsibility comes from the assumption that the authority knows best. By the way, we adults (parents and teachers) often committee the same error of arrogance: we automatically assume we know better than our children.

Tucker: It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.

Zhao: Almost true but strong quantitative skills are not the same as the skills to mark the right choice on a multiple choice exam, constructing a sound argument is different from repeating the “correct way” of arguing, and writing well certainly does not mean scoring high against a writing rubric. More importantly, as far as I can tell, the Common Core does not include what Tucker wants: history, geography, or economics. Where do the children learn these and other “unrelated things” when they are pushed aside by the Common Core?

Tucker: Zhao grew up in a country in which the aim was not learning but success on the test. There was wide agreement that the tests were deeply flawed, emphasizing what Mao called “stuffing the duck”— shoving facts and procedures into students—in lieu of analysis, synthesis and creativity. But few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.

Zhao: Very good observation but I cannot help but pointing out that Tucker just published a book entitled Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. If it is such a bad system, why does Tucker consider it one of the world’s leading systems and want to build American education on it? If it is so bad, what is it in Shanghai, a city of China, he wants America to surpass?
And by the way, it is not true that “few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.” Many, perhaps, most people in China, want the system changed. The Ministry of Education and provincial governments have been making changes over the past few decades (for details read my books Catching Up or Leading the Way and World Class Learners)

Tucker: So Zhao is very much aware of the consequences of a rigid system set to outdated standards. But that is not the problem in the United States. We don’t suffer from ancient standards wildly out of tune with the times, enforced by tests that are no better. We suffer from lack of agreement on any standards that could define what all students must know and be able to do before they go their separate ways. We suffer in a great many schools from implicit standards that translate into abysmally low expectations for far too many students.

Zhao: I am very appreciative of Tucker’s understanding of my background but I am not convinced that the U.S. is immune to the same problems China has suffered from testing. Is it not the goal of the Common Core to instill a rigid system? Isn’t the Common Core to be enforced by tests? If not, why do we have the Common Assessment? Why are we connecting teacher evaluation to test scores? Moreover, haven’t we seen plenty of cases of cheating on standardized testing in our schools under NCLB? Isn’t there enough evidence of states manipulating data and cut scores? For more evidence, read Collateral Damage: How High-stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner.

Another by the way: When I described the teacher evaluation efforts mandated by the Race to the Top to a group of science teachers from Beijing to study American science education this week, they were appalled and commented: Isn’t that a violation of human dignity?

Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs. There is no substitute for spelling out what we think students everywhere should know and be able to do. Spelling it out is no guarantee that it will happen, but failing to spell it out is a guarantee that we will not get a nation of young people capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”

Tucker: Zhao apparently believes that standards mean standardization and standardization would inevitably lead to an inability to produce creative solutions to the problems the workforce will face in the years ahead. That could certainly happen. But it need not happen.

Zhao: Yes, it does not need to, but it does happen, has happened, and is unavoidable. When standards are enforced with high stakes testing, when teachers and principals are evaluated based on students’ test scores, when students’ fate are decided by test scores, the teaching and learning must become standardized and constrained. One does not have to go to China to see this. Just take a look at what happened under NCLB. It did not ask schools to narrow the curriculum, to reduce time for music and the arts, for social studies and science, or for lunch and recess, but it all happened. For the impact of NCLB on instructional time and curriculum, check out these reports (1 and 2)from the Center on Education Policy.

Tucker: It is simply not true that our inability to predict the jobs people will have to do in the future and the demand of creative, entrepreneurial young people relieves us of the obligation to figure out what skills and knowledge all young people need to have before they go their separate ways, or the obligation to translate that list of skills and knowledge into standards and assessments that can drive instruction in our schools.

Zhao: It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: “Common Core Standards are idiots’ solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond.”

– – – – – – – – –

The Berlin Declaration   2 comments

I’ve been reading about last month’s historic Berlin Declaration. I want to share highlights from World News Daily and The New American.

The Berlin Declaration is a human rights and parental-rights affirming document that says:

We remind all nations that numerous international treaties and declarations recognize the essential, irreplaceable and fundamental role of parents and the family in the education and upbringing of children as a natural right that must be respected and protected by all governments…

According to the New American magazine, leaders in the homeschooling movement from two dozen countries signed a document –the “Berlin Declaration” on November 3, demanding that governments around the world “respect families and the fundamental human right to home education…”


The New American writes that the Declaration argues that the right to home educate must be respected and cites multiple human rights documents and a growing body of evidence showing the benefits of homeschooling.  The Declaration’s signatories say the senseless persecution of homeschooling families must end.


“It’s an expression of the growing confidence among homeschoolers that this is just another historical struggle for human rights and that we will win,” said Jonas Himmelstrand, Swedish Home Education Association (ROHUS) chief and Global Home Education Conference (GHEC) Chairman, who fled Sweden with his family. “The Berlin Declaration shows that these rights are already recognized in various human rights conventions; they simply need to be manifested all over the world.”


The magazine continues: “Even the controversial United Nations, widely perceived among critics as a dictators club, has recognized home education as a fundamental human right. In 2007, for example, the UN Special Rapporteur on Education officially condemned the German government’s vicious oppression of homeschoolers while stating that home education is an entirely legitimate alternative to state schooling. Multiple binding European human rights treaties are also cited in the Berlin Declaration….”

Full text here:

I’ve been enlightened by Jonas Himmelstrand’s writings, research and speeches before.  The fact that he’s a leader in this declaration is a big deal to me.

The Berlin Declaration  is a very bright spot on the map of world news.

Gordon B. Hinckley’s Prayer for Freedom   Leave a comment

This prayer was given in 1997 at the Freedom Festival, by Gordon B. Hinckley.  Today, I am saying this prayer with reference to the Common Core Initiative, which is taking over American education and has taken away the liberty of our state and has blinded so many along the way that I believe now only a miracle from God will make the truth clear.  I hope others will pray with me for increased freedom and for an end to this federally controlled movement which poses as a blessing to education.

Oh God, our Eternal Father, thou who presides over the nations and their people, we come unto thee in prayer. We thank thee for this great and sovereign nation of which we are citizens. Touch the minds of those of our Congress that they shall stand tall and independent in defense of the liberty of the people. Bless the chief executive. He is our president. Let thy spirit move upon him to bring to pass those measures which will lift the burdens of government from the backs of the people and keep this nation under God, a citadel of freedom standing as an example to all the world. Bless the Supreme Court of the United States which in recent days has declared unconstitutional a measure designed to secure the religious liberty of the people of this nation. May a way be found under thy divine inspiration to bring to pass another measure which will be sustained by the court. May thy peace rest upon this nation. May we as a people look to thee and live. May the benevolent hand of the almighty protect us from the evil forces of the world. May humanism and secularism bend to an increased knowledge of these our Father and our God. May a spirit of brotherhood spread throughout the land. As we pray to thee, we do so in our manner and respect the prayers of others who speak after their manner. That thou wilt hear us all as we lift our voices in behalf of our beloved nation. Almighty Father, hear us, guide us, protect us, make us both strong and benevolent before the world. Forgive our erring ways. May we turn back to thee in our search for wisdom, for guidance, for direction, we humbly ask in Jesus’ sacred name, Amen.

(Source: Freedom Festival, BYU Marriott Center, Provo, Utah 1997)

%d bloggers like this: