Archive for the ‘nga/ccsso’ Tag

Dear Utah State School Board   4 comments

Feel free to use this letter if it helps.  I sent it today.  If others wish to add their voices to mine, the board’s email is : Board@schools.utah.gov.

The Governor needs to hear from us, too.

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Dear USOE and State School Board,

Parents and teachers like me are so very tired of reading lies about Common Core, which are stated (and published) repeatedly by the USOE and Utah State School Board, and which are then replicated across school district websites all over Utah. I’m writing to ask you to provide references to prove the claims are honest– or remove the claims. One or the other.

We’re tired of being told, for example, that there is a Utah Core. Most people do know that it’s the Common Core for Math and English. It’s misleading to say “Utah Core” unless you are talking about P.E. or history or other standards.

Some of you have not done much research about Common Core and you have been fed only the claims given you by Common Core proponents –such as Pearson, Wireless Generation, Bill Gates, and others, who stand to make a lot of money implementing Common Core.

You read Gates’ own publication, Education Week. You listen to the groups Gates has paid (bribed) to advocate for the untested experiment of Common Core, including the national PTA, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governor’s Association, the Harvard Newsletter, Manhattan Institute, Fordham Foundation and others. Gates admitted in a NY Times interview that he spent $5 Billion– billion– dollars pushing HIS version of education reform. So the marketing has been good. But the product is defective. You of all groups ought to study this thoroughly.

Sometimes people forward their emails from you to me. I am aghast at the unreferenced, untrue responses, such as “Common Core is an improvement” and “We still have local and parental control” and “We aren’t spending money on Common Core that we wouldn’t already be spending on education standards,” and “Common Core is academically rigorous.” These are absurd statements to anyone who has done their homework on Common Core.

Why not provide references for your ongoing claims to increase your trustworthiness in the public eye? If you are telling the truth, please show us. If not, it’s time to ‘fess up.

Parents deserve referenced truth. These are our kids. These are our tax dollars. And you are not telling the truth: that Common Core is an unproven, unwanted experiment –for which you’re using kids as guinea pigs.

The standards are not Utah’s. And they are not academically nor constitutionally legitimate. If I am wrong, please show me.

In education, as in medicine, the motto should be “First Do No Harm.”

Where is the evidence that Common Core standards are not harming our students? Where is the empirical data upon which this transformative alteration to Utah education was based?

More specifically, can you point me to a study that shows that not teaching kids how to convert fractions to decimals is better college prep in the long run? Where is the study that shows that lessening the teaching of classic literature and of narrative writing is going to benefit children as adults? Where is the proven, long term study that shows that informational text is more beneficial than classic literature?

If there is no such research, then why on earth have you foisted this hogwash on our kids– and called it “rigorous”!?!!

It does not even make sense. Rigorous? Running a mile is rigorous to a couch potato but it’s a dumbing down to an athlete. One size fits all can never be accurately described as “rigorous” and I pray you will quit abusing that word across our good state.

The adoption of Common Core is, ironically, dataless decisionmaking. It is decision making based on the wealth and influence of extreme politics, not based on the American principle of voter representation and local public vetting.

Where is the proof to back up the claim that Common Core is state-led? How can it be state-led when nobody in the state even knows about it? No legislator has a clue. No school board except the state school board was ever allowed to vet or vote upon this huge change to education. How can it be state-led when it’s written behind the closed doors of the NGA/CCSSO and there’s no amendment process?

Where is the proof that the Common Core is academically legitimate? We know it was developed by noneducators: David Coleman, the NGA and the CCSSO. We know it was most heavily funded and promoted by noneducators. We know it has been politically hijacked by the Dept. of Education and that Obama and Sec. Duncan claim to have given it to states (further crushing the claim that it was state-led). We have endless references for these things. Yet this board and office continually fails to provide a shred of evidence for its Common Core promoting claims.

I find this to be a terrible example to the rest of the educators and students of this state.

If I were teaching an English class today, would I say to my students, “Oh– you didn’t provide references in your research paper? Well, no big deal. Neither does the Utah State Office of Education or the State School Board” ?

Where is the proof that Utah still has control of her education system? There’s a solid copyright on the Common Core. There’s a 15% no-alteration rule. Ridiculous. That is the opposite of local control.

If Utah wants to teach sky-high, way past the mediocre Common Core, 15% does not cut it. If Utah wants to prevent corporate researchers, hackers or the federal government from accessing private student data collected in the State Longitudinal Database System (which we all know is interoperable with the federal database, and was paid for by the federal government and is modeled after their desires, not ours) — we cannot protect our kids’ privacy. Because the Common Core tests will collect all the information and will track the kids in the P-20 and SLDS. This is common knowledge today. By remaining in Common Core, you tie parents’ hands behind their backs. No parents can opt their children out of the SLDS tracking. This is unacceptable!

Common Core Standards, tests and data collecting tentacles are a tragic, horrific joke and as you know, the people who will suffer most are the children and the teachers.

For what is far from the first, and likely far from the last time, I implore you to please answer these issues with references.

If you can’t, then your duty to the people of Utah is to get us out of Common Core.

Integrity demands it.

Christel Swasey

Heber City Parent

Credentialed Utah Teacher

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/

A Literacy Expert Opposes the Common Core Standards   1 comment

A Literacy Expert Opposes the Common Core Standards.

Diane Ravitch has posted this information, given by a USC linguistics professor, Stephen Krashen, a literacy expert.

He writes that Common Core’s excessive detail will:

(1) dictate the order of presentation of aspects of literacy
(2) encourage a direct teaching, skill-building approach to teaching.
Both of these consequences run counter to a massive amount of research and experience.

There is very good evidence from both first and second language acquisition that aspects of language and literacy are naturally acquired in a specific order that cannot be altered by instruction (C. Chomsky, 1969, The Acquisition of Syntax in Children from 5 to 10. Cambridge: MIT Press; Krashen, S. 1981, Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning, Pergamon Press, available at http://www.sdkrashen.com).

There is also very good evidence that we acquire language and literacy best not through direct instruction but via “comprehensible input” – for literacy, this means reading, especially reading that the reader finds truly interesting, or “compelling.” (Krashen, S. 2010.The Goodman/Smith Hypothesis, the Input Hypothesis, the Comprehension Hypothesis, and the (Even Stronger) Case for Free Voluntary Reading. In: Defying Convention, Inventing the Future in Literacy Research and Practice: Essays in Tribute to Ken and Yetta Goodman. P. Anders (Ed.) New York: Routledge. 2010. pp. 46-60. Available at http://www.sdkrashen.com)

– – – – – – –

As has often been noted:  the wonderfully informative insights about the flaws of Common Core are so important, but not nearly so important as the fact that Common Core puts into cement teaching philosophies that cannot be altered by the people using them.

There is no voice and no vote. Teachers and citizens have nothing to do with what will be decided upon to be taught. Only the central planners can alter or amend the standards.  That’s the NGA/CCSSO:  National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State School Officers.  Nobody else.  Does that sound constitutional to you?

Sandra Stotsky on Common Core’s confusing way of teaching writing skills   1 comment

Remember Sandra Stotsky?  She’s the brilliant Arkansas professor with the courage to stand up and say no to the common core standards, when she served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and she realized they were not, in fact, going to prepare children legitimately for college.  She is also the wonderful woman who offered to work with the state of Utah (for free!) to help write legitimate, high educational standards rather than to see us remain on the faulty Common Core bandwagon.  (Our state leaders have not taken her up on this generous offer.)
This brand new Sandra Stotsky article is highly recommended:
http://inpolicy.org/2012/12/common-core-standards-which-way-for-indiana/

In it, Sandra Stotsky explains in detail,  looking at individual standards at a time, exactly how confusing the teaching and learning process becomes, as outlined by common core writing standards. She shows that concepts are expected to be used in essays to be written by sixth graders, for example, but the concepts were never previously introduced or taught.

This is forcing teachers to invent worksheets and writing samples to quickly scaffold students to the missing concepts without having allotted space and time to do so. It also leaves the slower learners at a disadvantage.

Additionally, Stotsky makes the point that there is no way for the flaws in common core to be altered by a vote or by a locality.  Neither those flaws which are now known nor  those yet to be discovered can be changed except by the central planners who copyrighted the standards: the NGA/CCSSO (National Governors’ Association and Council of Chief State School Officers).  —Who are not, by the way, teachers.

Common Core Costs Require Large Class Sizes, According To the NGA   1 comment

Common Core has a “how-to” implementation manual.

In this manual, on page 25, the manual discourages governors from reducing class sizes, in order to “maximize resources and share costs” for Common Core implementation.

It says: “… policies that limit class sizes in all grades hinder district efforts to achieve cost savings” and “Class size reduction policies are costly...” http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/1110CCSSIIMPLEMENTATIONGUIDE.PDF  (p. 25)

This manual is published by the National Governor’s Association (NGA).

The NGA, in partnership with the Council of Chief State State School Officers (CCSSO), are the “sole developers” and copyright holders of the standards.

Quote:

“Copyright Notice:  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 .

Who Drives Common Core — the States?   Leave a comment

In a white house press release Obama gave two years ago, we find:

“Today, the Obama Administration announced new efforts to promote college- and career-ready standards…  The President and Secretary Duncan applauded Governors for their efforts to work together in a state-led consortium… to develop and implement common reading and math standards that build toward college- and career-readiness.”  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-calls-new-steps-prepare-america-s-children-success-college-and-care

So, Obama “applauds” the non-governmental organizations (NGA and CCSSO) for the supposedly “state-led” program, while announcing his own Obama Administration’s “efforts to promote college- and career-ready standards” via ESEA.  So who is really behind it?  Obama or the states?

Actually, both.  –But only because the states never had a chance to vote on it.  The whole thing was done using non-governmental groups.  Very sneaky.  Very.

Some of you are thinking: ” I didn’t see the word “common core” in the announcement.”  –So why am I using “Common Core” as a synonymn with “College-and-career ready standards”?

 Because that’s what the White House does.

If  you go to the U.S. Department of Education’s own “Definitions Page” you will find this definition:

 College- and career-ready standards:  Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation.  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, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.   http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions

Common with a significant number of states?!  There is no other set of common standards that many states share.  It’s only Common Core.

And it’s totally unAmerican because it’s education without representation. We didn’t vote for nor can we repeal the members of the CCSSO/NGA, who hold the common core copyright.

We can’t amend the standards like we can a legitimate American law; they’re under CCSSO/NGA copyright.  And we can’t adjust Common Core to suit us, more than the mandated 15% maximum.  So if we want to teach our high school seniors using 100% classic literature, we may not do it.  The Common Core says they can only have 30% classic literature.  The rest has to be info-text.  Our state can add 15%, bringing it to 45% max.  See how we are bound?  Where is the liberty in that?  Where is the feeling of American innovation and freedom in our educational system?

It is so, so wrong.  

So many misrepresentations continue.  Even our own dear Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and Wasatch School District websites continue to post –as if they were true– “facts” about Common Core.  That aren’t true.   http://www.schools.utah.gov/fsp/College-and-Career-Ready/Meetings/2012-Spriing-Directors/Common-Core-FACTS—Brenda-Hales.aspx

I beg you, if you don’t know much about Common Core yet, to read the following and do the research for yourself.

1.  Look at the dates we adopted Common Core.  Then look at the dates the Common Core was written– we never saw it before we signed up!

2.  Look at the copyright page for NGA/CCSSO on the common standards. It says “no claims to the contrary shall be made” right after it claims to be the sole developer and owner of the standards.  Yet proponents say teachers and states came up with them.

3.  Look at the 15% cap set on innovation in the waiver application for ESEA (No Child Left Behind waiver).

4. Look at the U.S. Constitution. Where does it say that the President has authority to promote Common education?

5. Look at G.E.P.A. law.  (General Educational Provisions Act.)  It specifically excludes the federal government from supervising, directing or ruling over educational systems in any way.  ALL THEY CAN DO IS PAY FOR IT.  States run it.  Period.

6. Look at the online “Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and SBAC”. It uses mandatory language that forces both testing consortia to synchronize testing.  It uses mandatory language that forces the consortia to share data with the federal government “on an ongoing basis.”  Triangulating educational consortia under the feds’ direction and supervision  is ILLEGAL.  It takes away local control.

7. Look at the official Common Core Validation Committee Members’ reviews of Common Core.  Google Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram.  They refused to call the standards adequate for education.

Elder Quentin Cook: “That Which Is Sound And Good”   Leave a comment

I got my favorite magazine, the Ensign, in the mail yesterday.  The newest issue features an article entitled, “Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom” by Elder Quentin L. Cook:  http://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/09/restoring-morality-and-religious-freedom?lang=eng

It says, “The Church respects the rule of law and constitutional government in every nation and expects Latter-day Saints to adhere to the law, to use their influence to promote and preserve their God-given rights, and “to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 5:286).”

“That which is sound and good” does not include Common Core education.  It diminishes classic literature in English classrooms.  It diminishes math learning, most noticeably for grades six and nine. It equalizes college and career preparation, making 4-year college, 2-year college, and vocational school preparation the very same thing for all.  It stifles innovation.  It concentrates power over education in a small group that includes the federal Dept. of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association, rather than leaving power over educational decision-making in the hands of states and school districts. It sets an actual cap of 15% on the amount of learning above Common Core standards that is to be permitted.

And where is the liberty in that?

The Smokescreen: Common Core State Standards Copyrighted by NGA/CCSSO for Dept. of Education   34 comments

    BYU Professor Ed Carter is an expert on copyright.  I called him to learn more about what it means to have our Utah educational standards under copyright by the NGA (National Governor’s Association) and the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers).

So, how bound are we?

Professor Carter made it clear that his was not professional legal advice, nor was it any official statement from BYU.

He said it appeared to him that the NGA/CCSSO copyright on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a smokescreen.

    Smokescreen – an action intended to obscure, conceal or confuse.

Smokescreen – a mass of dense artificial smoke used to conceal military areas or operations.

Because governments cannot copyright things (this was news to me) the Dept. of Education not only couldn’t legally write national standards under GEPA law* and the Constitution (I knew that part) but the Dept. of Education could not copyright standards, either.

So it’s getting clearer and clearer.  The only way the Dept of ED could do this nationalization of education and yank local autonomy out of our hands –and appear sort of legal about it– was to promote Common Core via other groups.  –And they have:  Achieve, NGA, CCSSO, Bill Gates– all nongovernmental groups– have written, promoted and paid for the Common Core.

    

The really odd part is that on the official Common Core website there’s a copyright page that says nobody better claim to have written these standards.  Yet, we’ve all been told that Common Core is a “state-led” initiative, with no federal strings attached, and the states themselves got together and wrote the standards.  Hmmmm.  Compare: “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

No, the NGA/CCSSO cannot force us to obey the national standards.  They just developed them and copyrighted them, but of course, since we didn’t elect them, we have no way to change the standards nor the administrators over them.

Simultaneously, the Dept. of Education promoted the standards and even went so far as to say states can’t delete anything from the CCSS national standards, and are limited in adding anything to them beyond 15%.  The Dept. of Education can enforce this obedience to the copyright through coercion.  They fund grants and offer waivers that can only be received on conditions of accepting the Common Core standards.

But there is a loophole!

I’ve been writing letters, begging our Governor and other state leaders to use that loophole.  It’s not complicated; Virginia did it.  They chose option 2 rather than option 1.  See:

On page 8 of the ESEA Flexibility document (updated June 7, 2012)  found at  http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility, it says:   “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”.

Same thing appears on the official ED website: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions.

They define “college- and career-ready standards:  Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation.  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, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.”

Here’s my question.  The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?  I do not know the answer to this question.  It seems incredibly important and I sure hope our state leaders are on it.

* GEPA LAW:  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…

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