Archive for the ‘Legislature’ Tag

Alyson Williams: Centralized Education By Any Other Name   1 comment

Centralized Education Reform by Any Other Name Would Smell

Reposted from Utahns Against Common Core
by Alyson Williams

Centralized Education Reform

 

Getting caught up in discussions about whether Common Core is “state led” or a federal program seems a fruitless debate of semantics.

What is the danger of a federally controlled education system that makes “state led” sound better? Those who oppose federal control typically oppose a concentration of power that would dictate one set of educational ideals (yes, even standards represent certain values) to the exclusion of others, establishing an intellectual tyranny of sorts.

Whether one sees Common Core as a federal program, or as the product of an extragovernmental cartel of state leaders (aka state-led) and special interests who had no constitutional commission to affect nationwide education policy in the way that they did, the outcome is the same:

Decisions were concentrated into the hands of a select few and the reforms of one ideology were championed (with the help of federal funds) while all other voices were shut out.

In other words, those who argue that this was not an outright federal mandate have a valid point. Common Core is the result of the second scenario, which is even worse than a direct federal mandate (as if No Child Left Behind wasn’t intrusion enough) from our duly elected representatives in Washington D.C.

This process sets an alarming precedent for circumventing our constitutional representative form of government and seems to establish a safe haven for the collusion of public funds and private interests without the traditional oversight established by law at either the federal or the state level.

I question what seems to be a generally accepted notion that Governors and Chief State School Officers have the legal authority to represent the state in making decisions jointly with other states. I see that as the role of Congress.

Common Core was not a “best practice” that was modeled by one state and copied by others. It was a joint initiative that had never been piloted anywhere… an unusual collaboration between the executive branches of State and Federal government and private interests that was brokered by the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was a process that was not openly accountable to “we the people,” that was not subject to open meetings, open records, lobbying restrictions etc.

There is a long history of disagreement over the best way to teach math, or what books and literature are of the most worth. In a free society, this competition of ideas has traditionally been considered a valuable condition that would encourage innovation, preserve liberty, and provide options. When the results of competing ideas and methodologies can be compared, people can make informed decisions and choose for themselves what works best.

Those who comfort themselves with the remaining sliver of local control over curriculum within the confines of the Common Core standards and tests seem strangely willing to trade some of the last vestiges of local control (unlikely to ever be returned once surrendered) to support an untried philosophy of education that is dismissive of the experience and creativity of our best teachers, and of the primary stewardship of parents over their children.

Meanwhile textbooks, summative assessments, prepackaged curriculum and formative assessments grow ever more homogenous as they align to “common” standards, and the benefits of school choice are practically erased.

If this were just about standards that would be one kind of disagreement… but the furor over Common Core is about a fundamental shift in control over education.

This is about how decisions for education, and perhaps even other “state led” initiatives, are governed going forward.

This is about whether those closest to the children and their needs will be marginalized in favor of overgeneralized policy by bureaucrats and educrats.

This is not just about what our kids will learn, but about who gets to decide.

——–

Thank you, Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core.

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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.

South Dakota House Bill 1204: No Common Core Without Public O.K.   Leave a comment

State of South Dakota
EIGHTY-EIGHTH SESSION
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, 2013

HOUSE BILL NO. 1204

Beginning on July 1, 2013, the Board of Education is hereby expressly prohibited from
adopting any standards proposed through the Common Core State Standards… without the approval of the Legislature first obtained.

What’s Going On With Utah Parents for Educational Freedom?   Leave a comment

    What’s going on with so many Utahns joining the fight for educational freedom, the fight against a federal “Common Core”?

When we signed the petition –along with over two thousand, so far, who have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core– what were we asking for?

In short:  higher, more constitutionally based (state-not-federally-controlled) educational standards.

  • We have asked the Governor, State Board of Education, and State Superintendent to take the steps necessary to rescind Common Core adoption, the Race to the Top application, the No Child Left Behind waiver, the use of SBAC/PARCC federally monitored testing and data collection,  and all other requirements upon the state that are related to these, and return Utah to higher, independent, non-federal education standards.
  • We have requested the Utah Attorney General in conjunction with the Federalism Subcommittee of the Constitutional Defense Council, to review all documentation related to such applications and contracts as mentioned above to ensure our state sovereignty is held inviolate. We further requested that this review of programs, documents, and applications, include an examination to ensure no private or personal information about students is transmitted outside of local schools and districts, despite the U.S. Dept. of Education’s and Utah Data Alliance’s efforts to the contrary.
  • Because the Utah State Board of Education adopted Common Core State Standards before they were even finalized, failed to perform a cost analysis related to statewide adoption, and failed to hold public meetings where citizens could review the actual standards prior to adoption, we have asked that a liberty-minded, academically solid educational committee (not the USOE or USSB) be authorized to rewrite Utah’s current standards through a well-developed and transparent process that includes numerous public hearings and input from committees that utilizes knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level specific, measurable standards from other states (such as liberty-minded  Texas, Virginia and the impressive pre-common core Massachusetts) as models.
  • We want to give individual schools and districts full local control with the ability to adopt their own high standards, assessments, and research-based curriculum to encourage and allow for greater parental participation in the education system.
  • We aim for legislators and citizens to develop a 5-year plan to get Utah off all federal funding of education, and if the federal government threatens to pull non-education related funding away from the state as we pursue this course, that this knowledge should be made public and fought with the assistance of the state Attorney General.
  • We have asked legislators to craft laws that will strengthen privacy rights and parental consent rules, and make sharing of personal student data with any state or federal entity a crime both for the one disseminating and the recipient who requested personal information.

If you agree, you can:

Please sign the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com .

Please write and/or call our Governor, Lt. Governor, Legislators, the USOE, UEN, and local and State School Board (Board@schools.utah.gov )

Thank you.

Christel Swasey, Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis:

Three Heber City Moms

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