Archive for the ‘independence’ Tag

The Hero Behind Saxon Math   6 comments

saxon

Recognizing an American Hero: John Saxon

by Nakonia (Niki) Hayes

This article, found at Education Views, introduces John Saxon, whose math materials are used by one million home schooled students today.  Saxon’s textbooks are found in Arizona’s BASIS schools, as well as in private schools and some public schools across the country.  

Both this article and the book about John Saxon are written by Niki Hayes, who has given permission to repost the article here. 

Seeking recognition for a hero in mathematics education may be a waste of time since so many Americans’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of the word “math.” Too many claim they don’t like math, can’t do math, or don’t want even to think about math. (This phenomenon is found only in America. Interestingly, such attitudes are not heard in Third World countries that produce strong math students.)

So what’s the point in looking at an American math hero now? Maybe recognizing a math teacher-turned-millionaire-author-and-publisher who took a beating for 15 years from the powerful math education establishment will help refuel the parents and citizens—those special “Davids”—who are stepping up to fight the unified Goliaths of Common Core.

His enemies, who are among today’s Goliaths, will sneer upon hearing his name: John Saxon. They still refuse to accept the results of his “common sense genius” in teaching K-12 mathematics.

Saxon literally popped onto the national math education scene unexpectedly and uninvited in 1981 after self-publishing his first algebra textbook. Reformist authors, who quickly became his opponents, were claiming that making math more fun and “relevant” to girls and minorities was the answer to getting higher scores on international tests. He said his proven book was user-friendly and historically-based and was the answer for all students. They said his ideas worked only for white males and Asians because American girls and minorities couldn’t think analytically or with deductive reasoning. He called them racist and sexist. War was declared on Saxon with all the might of federal, state, and local resources of the math education leadership.

He had no idea that he, in turn, would ultimately choose to be a catalyst for the “math wars” that erupted among parents, school districts, and state textbook committees in the 1990s, and that the results of his promoting parent empowerment for a decade might help set up the battles by parents against Common Core.

Saxon was simply a retired U.S. Air Force officer who had begun teaching algebra to students in night classes at Oscar Rose Junior College in Oklahoma in 1970. Having taught engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he discovered woeful deficiencies in his community college students’ basic math skills. Determining they were capable of learning but that they had not been taught those basic skills, he began creating specially-designed worksheets of problems for his students over the next five years, with step-by-step procedures and a use of creative repetition for continuous practice. By 1975, he had a manuscript that the junior college print shop mimeographed and collated for the students.

Then in 1980, after a year-long pilot study in 20 Oklahoma public schools with amazing results (monitored by the Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation of Teachers), Saxon was ready to publish his book in hardback for any school that taught a first year algebra course. He was rebuffed by six publishers in New York City because he wasn’t “a member of a math education committee.” One other publisher did suggest, however, that he publish the book himself. Borrowing $80,000, Saxon did just that. When he died in 1996, Saxon Publishers in Norman, Oklahoma, had sales of $27 million. When his company was sold in 2004, the reported selling price was $100 million.

For those 15 years as a teacher, author, and publisher, Saxon found himself on the defensive against not only government bureaucrats, but the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), a powerful special interest group with political ties to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The followers of NCTM were receiving large federal grants to write reform math materials that promoted equity over excellence as the new American goal in mathematics. They did not want to share their bounty and prestige with an outsider who wasn’t even “trained” as a teacher. Worse, he disagreed with their equity ideology as the new function of math education.

They attacked his traditional content with no pictures as boring and “drill and kill.” He had refused to put color photos in his books, saying that such space and costs should be used for showing examples on how to work the problems rather than promoting social justice. He insisted on incremental development with one lesson per day, his unique creative repetition, and no separate chapters which he called “hunk learning”—i.e., students trying to consume a major concept and moving on to the next hunk even if they hadn’t digested the previous one. He required a test after every five lessons so reteaching, if needed, could be planned immediately. And, unbelievably, students were not allowed to use calculators for daily work or tests until the eighth grade. (That’s still true today with Saxon Math.)

Saxon scoffed when reformists insisted that historically-proven mathematics, which had been developed over 2,000 years by diverse cultures from around the world, was effective only with “white males” in America—and “Asians.” Then, he would explode with anger over what he called disastrous teaching materials and methods being purchased without proof of their results.

The biggest surprise to the leaders was when Saxon bought full-page advertisements in mathematics journals, magazines and major newspapers to respond to the charges laid against him and his work. As a World War II veteran, West Point graduate, Korean War combat pilot awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Vietnam veteran, Saxon was a fully trained and experienced warrior who was now fighting “a good war” for children in American mathematics education. Later described as the “George Patton of math education,” Saxon saw no purpose in losing any battle and was not averse to launching a frontal assault. He often got bloodied, but so did they.

As a man with three degrees in engineering, he also knew about the use of mathematics in the real world, including flying airplanes in life and death situations. He ridiculed the elitists’ feigned “real world” problems in textbooks. Saxon wasn’t about to back down from those he thought were promoting their ideology in textbooks and not proving their programs’ results before launching them into schools. “Results matter,” he kept saying, and he had reams of results to show that his textbooks were working.

He constantly called on parents to step forward and fight the new “fuzzy math” programs. Some parents finally did come out swinging in California and in 1994 led a major change in that state’s curriculum standards. That parental action is being repeated now across America regarding Common Core.

Some of his opponents literally cheered when he died. They still hate him today, 18 years after his death. Schools of education that train teachers dismiss his work even though many of his warnings about their programs have come true:

  • Use of calculators too early ruins students’ acquisition of basic skills, many of which must be learned by memorization, such as multiplication facts and mental math.
  • Not understanding the importance of algebra—true algebra—at the eighth grade level as the gateway subject for later entry into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would prevent many students from entering those fields and leave America short-handed for individuals who could help provide growth and development of the country.
  • Turning teacher-facilitated, rather than teacher-led, classrooms into discovery fun fests with lots of conversation, written explanations of problem-solving, and a focus on non-competitive, differentiated learning found math classrooms that included the weakest to the gifted student. “White males,” gifted children, and Asians were effectively ignored. Process, not the results, was to be enjoyed. Saxon warned this would cause both girls and boys of all races to be in remedial math classes in college, which would negate many of their career choices. Seventy to ninety percent of community college students are indeed enrolled in remedial math today. Up to forty percent must take it in four-year colleges. Common Core proponents claim they will change that statistic—with their weakened math program that even their leaders admit won’t prepare students for STEM careers.

John Saxon’s Story, a genius of common sense in math education, is the biography of a man who fought for his country in three wars and then, in an unexpected second career, for American children in mathematics education. He became, and still is, a real hero to millions of children:

A class of eighth graders in a Spokane, WA, Catholic school put his algebra book on the church’s altar at Thanksgiving in 1985 because of their appreciation for its impact on their learning. The Window Rock High School Navajo students in Fort Defiance, AZ, chose him as their graduation speaker over the state’s governor in 1992. His materials are used by one million home schooled students today and his textbooks are found in Arizona’s successful BASIS charter schools, as well as in private schools and smaller public schools across the country.

The biography is filled with facts and stories of his successes, as well as an honest portrayal of a colorful, eccentric man “cursed with clarity” who proved to be a born teacher as well as a born warrior. All proceeds from the biography go to West Point’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in honor of LTC (Ret.) John Harold Saxon, Jr. More can be learned about John Saxon and the book at http://saxonmathwarrior.com. (A free 16-page booklet can also be downloaded.)

Thank You, Senator Lee   Leave a comment

Utah Senator Mike Lee is a rare patriot.

He actually did what all the senators are supposed to be doing:  he defended the U.S. Constitution from the tentacles of the United Nations– again!

He defended our freedoms:  national sovereignty and parental rights, when others lightly dismissed the seriousness of the threat to these sacred things.

The article below is reposted from Lee’s op-ed in USA Today:http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/12/06/treaty-disabled-mike-lee/1752473/

 

Treaty backers can’t have it both ways

If the U.N. convention won’t affect U.S. laws, how can it change other nations?

by Senator Lee

December  6. 2012 – Supporters of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are attempting to have it both ways. They dismiss as a myth any concerns about protecting sovereignty or parental rights because the treaty lacks a formal enforcement mechanism. They suggest that Congress can simply ignore any United Nations demand that isn’t in our national interest.

USA Today’s view:  Disabled Senate rejects U.N. rights treaty

Yet they simultaneously argue that U.S. ratification is necessary in order to force other countries to institute reforms. This inconsistent logic begs the question: If the treaty cannot be used to force changes in American law, how can it then be used to change the laws of other countries?

Ironically, no one highlighted this inconsistency more eloquently during Tuesday’s floor debate than one of the treaty’s most ardent supporters, Sen. John Kerry: “When  have words or suggestions that have no power, that cannot be implemented, that have no access to the courts, that have no effect on the law of the United States, and cannot change the law of the United States, when has that ever threatened anybody in our country?”

Or any other country, for that matter.

Supporters argue the treaty  gives us a seat at the international table. But America already sits at the head of that table. Our laws are the gold standard for protecting the rights of disabled persons. Nothing about Tuesday’s vote changes that. We continue to be influential throughout the world in promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act as the model for other countries. Ratifying the treaty would not strengthen our hand, nor would it provide further rights or benefits for Americans at home.

At best, the treaty is ineffective. At worst, it could have grave consequences for U.S. domestic law. By their very nature, treaties diminish our sovereign authority to govern ourselves. Parties to this particular convention must answer to an unaccountable U.N. committee and are subject to its directions. If you believe Sen. Kerry, then the U.S. has nothing to worry about, but also no reason to support the treaty. If he is wrong, we have many reasons to oppose it.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

—————————–

Amen.

Let Freedom Ring In Education!   1 comment

  We have to get rid of the Common Core Initiative  –if we actually care about quality education and freedom over education.

Why?

I’ll start with a little intro– why I care:

I  hold an up-to-date Utah Level II teaching license and I have nine years of experience in classrooms. I’m currently a stay-home-mother.  My most recent teaching position was Adjunct Professor of English at Utah Valley University, where I taught Freshman English and remedial Basic Composition.  Teaching remedial English showed me that the educators’ cry for better prepared students is a real concern, not to be lightly dismissed.

Having studied the Common Core Initiative closely, however, I have come to the conclusion that Common Core is not the answer to the real educational problems we face. The Common Core educational standards present a sobering danger to quality education.  They are unproven, at best.  They are a dumbing down, at worst.

    As an English teacher, my concern is that by mandating the removal of narrative writing and greatly reducing the amount of classic literature that is permitted in Utah English classrooms, we have robbed our students of literary history, culture and the intangible values that cannot be imparted through informational texts and informational writing.  Is the slashing of time allotted for English literature much different from actual book burning, in its effect on students’ thoughts?

Common Core seems to take from, rather than give to students.  Professor Michael Kirst of Stanford University noted 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.”  This is one of the most sobering criticisms of the damage and dumbing down Common Core standards may do.

Regardless of who wins the argument about whether the national standards will be better or worse than Utah’s previous standards, the fact remains that the national educational standards are, to Utah, utterly meaningless:  there is no local political power over them; they can be changed at any time, but not by us.

Reclaiming Educational Freedom:

It seems that reversing the adoption of Common Core is both an educational and a Constitutional imperative.

    Reclaiming educational freedom and educational quality for Utah will meanwe have to : 1) withdraw from the SBAC testing consortium, 2) withdraw from Common Core national standards, 3) resubmit Utah’s ESEA Flexibility waiver request to choose state-unique standards, option 2, “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”  and 4) creating legitimate, freed standards.

Toward those ends, this post will give evidence that the Department of Education’s reforms harm local freedom and education, all spearheaded by the Common Core Initiative.  These reforms have reduced Utah’s educational decision-making capacity without public knowledge or a vote;  have reduced, rather than improving, educational quality; and will expose students and families to unprecedented privacy intrusions by state, federal and nongovernmental entities, to be accessed without parental consent.

This post will also look at  efforts other states have made to reclaim local control of education.

 

Unconstitutionality of Common Core

The unconstitutionality of Common Core is clear because the initiative offers education without representation: the public did not vote on the transformative initiative and has no means to amend these national standards, as they are under copyright.  (Source:   http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use )

There is no means for voters to recall any Common Core test-creating administrators or standards-setting personnel.  No matter how radiant the claims of Common Core proponents sound, the standards are unproven, untested, and unfunded.  Voters deserve to know about, and vote upon, the board’s unauthorized decision that traded state control of quality education for an unvalidated, un-amendable national educational experiment.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/three-exit-strategies-from-the-common-core-for-state-leadership/

 Local decision-making capacity reduced

The following documents show that local decision making has been severely reduced:

  1. Race to the      Top (RTTT) Grant Application – on the definitions page, we learn      that states are restricted from adding to standards for local use. The application hooked Utah to Common Core, even      though we didn’t win the grant. It states:       A State may supplement the common standards with      additional standards, provided that theadditional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total      standards for that content area.” This      speed limit on learning is problematic; one example is the fact that 9th      graders will be repeating most of their 8th grade year (Alg. I moved from      8th to 9th grade for CCSS implementation) and the state will not be able      to add more than 15% to what they would be learning in 9th grade over      again.
  1. Copyright on CCSS National Standards  – Despite the fact that proponents of Common Core claim the initiative was state-led and was written by educators’ input nationwide, the copyright states:  “NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
  1. ESEA      Flexibility Waiver Request – This document, like the RTTT      grant application, shows that Utah is not      able to delete anything from the national standards and can only add a      maximum of 15% to them.  State      and local school boards do not understand or agree upon how this problem      is to be faced.  While the local      district says it is bound by top-down decision making and must adapt to      Common Core, the state school board says that “local districts and schools are clearly responsible for accommodating      individual students.” A Utah State School Board member confessed      that, seeing this math retardation problem ahead of time, she pulled her      grandchildren out of public school and homeschooled them before Common      Core was imposed on them.   https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/state-and-local-school-board-perceptions-of-common-core-differ-13-2/
  2. Cooperative      Agreement      – The Department of Education’s cooperative agreement with the SBAC      testing consortium, to which Utah is still bound, states that tests must      be synchronized “across consortia,” that status updates and      phone conferences must be made available to the Dept. of Education      regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal      government “on an ongoing basis.”  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

This Department of Education arrangement appears to be flatly illegal.  Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act, the federal government is restricted from supervising education of states:  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1232a

  1. Letter From      WestEd      –      “In      order for this system to have a real impact within a statethe state will need to adopt the Common Core      State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards).”  This email      response from the SBAC test writers shows that the up-to-15% difference      between Utah Core Standards and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be      a 0% difference as soon as      testing begins in 2014-2015. Nothing but the national standards will be      tested.  (Source:  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/      ) Also, teacher and principal employment will soon depend upon student      performance on the nationalized tests.       (http://www.nea.org/home/proposed-policy-on-evaluation-and-accountability.html      ) Thus, there will be strong motivation to teach only to the test and skip      unique 15% additions to the local version of the national standards.

Educational quality reduced

The following educational testimonials illustrate that under Common Core, educational quality is reduced:

  1. 6.       The expert opinion of BYU Professor Alan Manning of the Department of Linguistics and English Language:  that Common Core is not a good idea.  “…Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best… An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.” https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/byu-professor-alan-manning-expresses-concerns-about-common-core-slashing-story-writing-and-classic-story-reading/
  1. The expert      opinion of Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core      Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the      English Language Arts standards: “…Despite claims to the contrary,      they are not internationally benchmarked. States adopting Common Core’s      standards will damage the academic integrity of both their post-secondary      institutions and their high schools precisely because Common Core’s      standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum and cannot reduce      the current amount of post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate      way.”      http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/  and         http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  2. The expert      opinion of Dr. James Milgram, who served on the Common Core      Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the adequacy of the math      standards:  that Common Core math puts      students about two years behind other countries, rather than creating a      competitive set of standards.       http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  3. The expert      opinion of Ze’ev Wurman, who served on the California      Committee to assess the CCSS math standards:  that Common Core deletes or slows      important elements of math education.       http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf
  4. Testimony      of Wasatch School District and Parents – Common Core was      implemented this year in Wasatch County, Utah.   Parents can testify that James Judd,      Wasatch District Administrator, coined the phrase “math bubble”      to refer to the 6th and 9th grade repetition forced by Common Core      implementation, which district administrators and math teachers are trying      to work around.  Students can      testify that in regular common core math classes this year, they repeated      what they’d learned in 8th grade.  Wasatch      County students are among signers of the Utahns Against Common Core      petition. https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/working-around-the-fact-that-common-core-math-dumbs-down-our-kids/   and       http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/

Department of Education FERPA alterations hurt privacy rights while empowering ED data collecting

The following documents and links show that a network of intrastate and interstate data collecting has been created, financially incentivized by the federal government’s ARRA stimulus money, and has been illegally empowered by Dept. of Education FERPA regulatory changes, made without Congressional approval.

This data gathering network meshes student data collection locally and then nationally,  including accessibility to personally identifiable information,  and is on track to be federal perused, as well as being available for non-educational, entrepreneurial, and even “school volunteer” perusal– without parental consent.

  1. ARRA Stiumulus Money bought Utah’s $9.6 million State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS):  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT  to be used for student tracking.
  2. Press Release Shows Utah is P-20 Tracking with UEN/Utah Data Alliance –  “Statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS’s) are a single solution to manage, disaggregate, analyze, and leverage education information within a state. In recent years, the scope of these systems has broadened from the K-12 spectrum to now encompass pre-kindergarten through higher education and workforce training (P-20W) ” and that regional and federal groups are linked clients of Choice Solutions, Utah’s data networking partner. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9201404.htm
  3. 2012 Statement by  J. Weiss, U.S. Education Department’s Chief of Staff: information from multiple federal data systems is being “mashed together” on the federal level and will be further mashed with state data. The U.S. Department of Education’s research agency is releasing information to “help” move states toward “developing partnerships” to use the student information gathered from state longitudinal data systems. (Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB )
  4. Schools/states being asked by NCES –federal government– to collect personal information along with academic information, including unique identifiers including names, nicknames, residences, immunization history, family income, extracurricular programs, city of birth, email address, bus stop times, parental marital status and parental educational levels, to name a few. View the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary
  5. EPIC lawsuit against Dept. of Education – A lawyer at E.P.I.C., Khalia Barnes, stated that FERPA regulatory loosening will affect anyone who ever attended a university (if that university archives records and received federal scholarships).  Not just children will have their data perused without parental consent– nobody will be asked for consent to be tracked and studied.  The lawsuit is ongoing from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Department of Education. It suit is filed under the  under the Administrative Procedure Act against the Department of Education.  EPIC’s lawsuit argues that the agency’s December 2011 regulations amending the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act exceed the agency’s statutory authority, and are contrary to law., including: a)  reducing parental consent requirements over student data to optional, a “best practice,” rather than a mandate and b) manipulating privacy laws by redefining terms and stretching the concepts of “authorized representative” and “educational program” past the breaking point so that even a school volunteer could access personally identifiable information.    http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
  6. BYU Professor David Wiley partnered financially with USOE in NCLB Waiver Request –  Professor Wiley is financially partnered with USOE and Common Core implementation.  Is he getting rich?  No clue.  But he has been so outspoken in defending the USOE’s adoption of Common Core as well as defending the Department of Education’s FERPA alterations that exclude parents being consented before student data is used for educational research.  (Source for partnership evidence:  Page 25 at:   http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx  )  Source for Wiley pro-Common Core and anti-parental consent debate:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/christel-swasey-responds-to-brenda-hales/#comment-1456

  1. Powerpoint by John Brandt, USOE Technology Director, showing federal access to Utah student transcripts and other data;  Brandt is a federal NCES member and a CCSSO (Common Core creator) member.  His online powerpoint states:

Where student records and eTranscripts can be used:

  • LEA   <—->  LEA (local education agency)
  • LEA   <—->  USOE (Utah State Office of Education)
  • LEA     —->  USHE (Utah System of Higher Education, and beyond)
  • USOE  —->  USED (US Department of Education

 

So, What should Utah do?

Rather than choosing the option of using national, common standards, Utah leaders can create Utah’s own standards, using local universities’ expertise.

On page 8 of the ESEA Flexibility document (updated June 7, 2012) found at http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility,  it is stated: “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”.  This option 2 was recently chosen by Virginia, a state that also wisely rejected Common Core national standards in the first place.

Case Study of Virginia:

Virginia rejected Common Core.  Common Core would be an unwise financial investment, the state said, and the standards would have left teachers stripped of the curricular SOL frameworks Virginia valued.

The Virginia Board of Education said “Virginia’s accountability program is built on a validated assessment system aligned with the Standards of Learning (SOL); validated assessments aligned with the Common Core do not exist.”  The Board also said, “Virginia’s investment in the Standards of Learning since 1995 far exceeds the $250 million Virginia potentially could have received by abandoning the SOL and competing in phase two of Race to the Top,” and the Board “opposes the use of federal rulemaking and the peer review process as leverage to compel word-for-word adoption of the Common Core State Standards.” http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2010/jun24.shtml

Option 2, using “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education”was chosen by Virginia, and that state did receive its NCLB waiver this year.  Utah can do the same. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2012/jun29.shtml

Case Study of Texas:

Texas rejected Common Core based on an estimated $3 billion implementation cost and the fact that Texas’ educational standards were already better than Common Core.  “I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests,” Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a January 13 letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-DuncanArne201001130344.pdf

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott explained: The standards were “originally sold to states as voluntary, [but] states have now been told that participating in national standards and national testing would be required as a condition of receiving federal discretionary grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),” Scott wrote. “Texas has chosen to preserve its sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools…”   http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120208_RoadNationalCurriculum.pdf

Texas, along with 11 other states, has not made a NCLB waiver request. The Texas Education Agency explained that it was concerned the federal government might impose a national curriculum and a national system to test students’ abilities and evaluate teacher performance, and prefers state control.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/some-states-stay-with-edu_0_n_1267859.html

Case Study of South Carolina

Utah has much in common with South Carolina.  Unlike Virginia and Texas, both Utah and South Carolina did adopt the Common Core standards and both joined testing consortia.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Michael Fair are now working to withdraw the state from the national standards and assessments, against great political pressure to remain bound.

AccountabilityWorks  estimated the costs for South Carolina over the next seven years to be over $75 million for professional development, $42 million for textbooks and 115 million for technology.  To do adequate assessments, South Carolina would need a 4 to 1 ratio of students to computers, totaling 162,500 computers. 62,128 computers were still needed. South Carolina faced an estimated price tag of at least $232 million, over seven years, not including assessments, but just to implement the common core.  The number didn’t include the operational costs the state already paid for.

South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley explained in a public letter:

South Carolina’s educational system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality and leadership – challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them. Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states. Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support [Senator Fair’s] efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards…

South Carolina Senator Mike Fair ‘s bill (S.604) simply stated:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio.

Senator Fair explained in the Greenville News: 

“…If the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover?  Simple– the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core.  Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom.  And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard…  The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core– standards that had not even been published yet… By the way, South Carolina wasn’t awarded Race to the Top money, so we sold our education birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”

Conclusion

The Constitution is still the supreme law of the land.  Education reforms, including Common Core, go completely in the opposite direction of the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

Federal agencies and state consortia are not stakeholders in Utah.  They should not determine our choices.  Truly, the Utah School Board was never authorized to give away authority over local decision making and the state should reverse their decision immediately.

It appears that the way reclaim Utah’s educational freedom and educational quality is to: 1) withdraw from the SBAC testing consortium, 2) withdraw from Common Core national standards,  and 3) resubmit Utah’s ESEA Flexibility waiver request to choose state-unique standards, option 2, “standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education,” and 4) write our own standards and tests to be controlled by Utahns and set privacy policies that abide by protective state, rather than un-protective federal  FERPA policy.

Having reclaimed our freedom, we can then look to legitimate good examples to create new standards for Utah. For example, we can look to (pre-Common Core) Massachusetts.  The state tested as an independent country and was still among the highest ranking educational systems worldwide, up until Common Core. Because Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation before they discarded their standards and adopted Common Core, we could use those standards as a template for our own.

Utah can regain local control over the quality and type of education, can reclaim Utah’s local ability to vote educational leaders in or out of office, can reclaim Utah’s ability to add to her own standards without restraint; and can take a strong stand against the federal push that aims to expose students and families to unprecedented privacy intrusions.

Let’s do it.

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