Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag

DEBATE in Logan Jan. 6th   3 comments

This should be very interesting.

Mount Logan Middle School is providing the facility for a Common Core issues debate on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.

Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams will debate two state school board members: Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer.

The event is open to the public and will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

Please come and bring friends.

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

This informative video, “Utah Bites Into Common Core” features Wendy Hart, one of the debaters, who is both an elected member of the Alpine School Board, and an active member of Utahns Against Common Core.

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Meetings in Logan, Heber, and Manti This Week – and How to Study If You Can’t Attend   2 comments

The following Common Core informational meetings are scheduled in Utah.

— LOGAN: September 24th, 6 p.m. 29 South Main Street, Logan, Utah
Speakers: Autumn Cook and Christel Swasey

— HEBER: September 24th, 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the Wasatch County Library
Speakers: Alyson Williams and Jakell Sullivan

— MANTI: September 26th, 7 p.m. 50 S. Main Street, Highway 89
Eva Beal Auditorium, City Building
Speakers: Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey

The meetings are free and open. We especially hope teachers, principals, legislators and school board members will attend. There will be question and answer discussions following each presentation. If you cannot attend, please study Common Core facts for yourself and verify before trusting those who say that Common Core is a blessing to our economy or to our children. It is neither.

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A recommended Syllabus for Common Core Study might look like this:

The General Educational Provisions Act – this law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising state education. “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…”

U.S. Constitution – powers are delegated to the states. “Amendment 10 – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The Race to the Top Grant Application– Utah got points from the federal government for having a child tracking SLDS database system. This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge. Also in this document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got into it. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can, however, opt out of Common Core tests.)

The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that it states that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment. It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Core was Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government. This may include physically monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic embedded in the report.)

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.

The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. Here you will see that it’s a “living work” meaning that what you think Common Core is, it may not remain in the future. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in the commonly held standards. There is a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.

The testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors who have testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.

Follow the money trails – See what Bill Gates has paid for, and see how Common Core is a money-making monopoly that circumvents voters via public-private partnerships.

Dozens of Links Documenting Common Core System Far More Harmful Than Good   7 comments

Common Core Concerns

Please click on the links to get to the original source documents that verify Common Core does far more damage than good.

The Race to the Top Grant Application – In this, Utah got points toward possibly winning grant money. Points were awarded in this application for the state’s having a student-tracker, this federally funded, nationally interoperable SLDS database system. (It is illegal to have a national student database; yet, all 50 states have matching, interoperable SLDS systems. The 50 SLDS’s effectually function as a national student database.

States submit K-12 data to the federal Edfacts Exchange –despite the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law which makes such accountability to the federal government illegal. Note that it is not allowed for any Utah student to opt out of being tracked, and parents are not notified nor asked for consent for this P-20 (preschool through grade 20) surveillance.) Also in this application, Utah got points to adopt the Common Core (without having seen any empirical data to prove Common Core academically legitimate). This lure of federal money was how Utah got in to the current bind. Despite not winning any grant money, Utah unfortunately chose to remain in both the Common Core and what amounts to the federal student surveillance program.

It is noteworthy that despite claims that only aggregated data is submitted to Edfacts Data Exchange, the CCSSO (state superintendents society that copyrighted Common Core) has a “stated commitment to disaggregation of data” and numerous federal websites do model student data standardization and invite states to use common data sets which makes it easier to share personally identifiable information, including biometric and behavioral data.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted Common Core. The 15% rule limits innovation and excellence, being enforced in the common core aligned test systems and by textbook sales companies’ near-monopoly on any thought beyond Common Core. The 15% rule is also echoed in multiple documents from governmental and common core corporate developers.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant – This is the federally paid-for database that every state in the U.S. has. It tracks students within the state. But each SLDS can communicate with another. There is no apparent limit to how much information is being collected by schools, and no permission is collected from parents to have such information, nor is there any limit on how much information can be given by states to the federal government about students, because of Department of Education alterations to federal FERPA regulations. Vendors, volunteers and other unwanted “stakeholders” can now be considered “authorized representatives” to access data. Parental consent has been reduced from a requirement to a “best practice.”

The lawsuit against the Department of Education – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the U.S. Department of Education for shredding previously protective federal FERPA law. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

Utah’s Core Standards – This document (link below) has been removed, but it used to show on page four, how Utah lost local control under Common Core. Utah had to ask permission from an unelected D.C. group to alter its own state standards. It said: modified by permission from CCSSO 2010.
http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/mathelem/Core-Curriculum/Utah-Core-Standards-in-Mathematics-Approved-Versio.aspx

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that Utah has no local voice in altering the national standards, which were written behind closed doors in D.C. and which can be altered by their creators at any time without representation from the states governed by them.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that power to forcibly redistribute resources, including teachers, principals and money, is a key reason that federal education reformers want a national education system.

The Executive Summary of Race to the Top – see page 3, part D 3. This clearly shows the same tactic: the federal education reformers hope to gain the power to redistribute teachers and principals to their definition of “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals.”

The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC. This document shows how clearly the Department of Education has mandated a synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC and PARCC under the watchful eye of the Department.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He claims Common Core was Obama’s plan. He also states that he hopes to make schools replace families as the center of people’s lives, with schools open seven days a week, all year round, almost all day long. See video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s 2020 goal is to control teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the same academic standards and he promotes the underpinning of global education standards with environmental extremism. He promotes ending diversity, using global sameness and uses the term “irreversible reform.” His ruthless book, Deliverology, is dedicated to American education reformers. It advocates delivering a set goal at any price and at any cost. Pearson is the world’s largest education sales company; it’s now partnered with Bill Gates, the second wealthiest man on earth, to promote global common education, devoid of any academic empirical proving that the standards are beneficial rather than harmful.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know Common Core works until all the tests and curriculum align with these standards” and he’s writing curriculum for all. He also speaks of the usefulness of having students be “a uniform customer base.”

The speeches of David Coleman, non-educator, and the lead architect of the Common Core ELA standards who has been promoted to College Board President. He mocks narrative writing, has diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, promotes “informational text” without studying the effect of the reduction of classic literature on students long term, and, although he’s not been elected, yet he’s almost single-handedly reduced the quality and liberty of the high school English teacher’s options. As College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be. This will hurt universities, which now know, for example, that students are not learning Calculus nor much classic literature in high school any more.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance – see p. 62/44 – This U.S. Dept. of Education report assures all that data about behavioral and attitudinal indicators of students are desperately wanted by the federal government. It’s all about controlling students by knowing their inner thoughts. Facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, pressure mouses, wireless skin sensors are all recommended as ways to collect data about children in a continuous stream, in this document.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites -Three of these four ask states to match other states’ personally identifiable information collection. – The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that all states do, which does include collecting intimate, personally identifiable information such as bus stop times, nicknames, parental voting record, academic scores, health information, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards. (CCSS)

The CCSS were rejected by key members of their validation committee, who have published and testified extensively that Common Core is an academic mistake that dramatically weakens high school standards.

American Institutes for Research – AIR’s common core implementation document shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute partnered with the federally funded and federally controlled SBAC testing group. Parents and teachers may not see these subjectively written, attitude assessing test questions; and students cannot succeed in this computer adaptive test, which guarantees that all students fail about half the questions.

HB15 – This bill shows that Utah law requires the assessment of behavior and attitudes. See line 59.

SB 175 – proposed amendments to this bill show that it is Utah educational leadership’s will that any student who opts out of Common Core testing will be punished academically (see line 135) and his/her school will be punished as well (see line 168)

Legislators in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere are working to write protective laws guarding data privacy, upholding parental and local teachers’ voices in education, and halting education dollars for unpiloted, experimental Common Core trainings and tests.

They aren’t only concerned that time and money are being invested in an academic train wreck. It’s a precendent-setting liberty issue. Unelected groups now set governance policies that Utahns must abide by. Surely, CCSSO, NGA, Achieve, Inc., or Bill Gates have no constituency. Yet the whims of this group are ruling teachers, administrators and students in Utah.

This is un-American governance.

Department of Education Surveillance of Student Attitudes   12 comments

The Department of Education is increasingly creepy.

There’s no other word for it. It’s as bad as any Orwellian-styled fiction. I say this without being in the least speculative– proof is published openly in the actual source documents coming out of the current Department of Education.

I invite you to scan over the Department of Education’s document entitled “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance.”

This 126-page report was published four months ago by the Office of Educational Technology and the U.S. Department of Education.

The whole document is about student data mining– but not just the type of data mining we’ve talked about before, where math and English and a student’s personal name and address are the issues.

Here, the issue is having schools/governments collect data about a student’s will, character, beliefs and attitudes using multiple measures that go beyond standardized testing to physical control and measurement of the child, by eye tracking and nerve sensory devices.

On page 44, see exhibit 11. It shows how affective sensors are used in some areas to measure student “engagement”. You’ll see facial expression cameras, posture analysis seats, a pressure mouse, and a wireless skin conductance sensor.

These are supposed to be good things?!

We see clearly that it is not enough for the “education reformers” to nationally control, via common standards and testing, the math and English teaching; they also desire to test, analyze and control, noncognitive individual attitudes.

How is freedom of thought, freedom of belief/attitude/religion, or freedom of expression, upheld by these “reforms” in any way?

The document also says:

“There is a growing movement to explore the potential of the “noncognitive” factors— attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability…”

Attitudes! Dispositions!

I re-read Orwell’s 1984 recently. Do you remember it? The main character lives in a world completely controlled by the government, which watches all citizens through virtually omnipresent screens and makes all citizens daily chant, with the same expressions on their faces– or else.

Of course he chanted with the rest: it was impossible to do otherwise. To dissemble your feelings, to control your face, to do what everyone else was doing, was an instinctive reaction.”

In Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance, as in other documents and speeches promoted by the current administration, you will also see the marginalization of parents. Parents are not seen as the primary instructor and authority figure over the child. Parents are seen as just the supporting cast. They can play a role. They can support. They can be educated about governmental “best practices” to practice at home. Think I’m kidding?

From page xiv: “Conclusion 6: Parents and guardians can also play a direct and important role in promoting
their children’s grit, tenacity, and perseverance… Recommendation 6a: Parents may employ some of the research-based best practices at home as they work with their children around academic goals… Parents can also support children in structuring their home work
environments to support effortful control…
Recommendation 6b: Educators… should consider outreach to parents and guardians as an important support for
students… parents may need to be educated about best practices.

This goes right along with Obama’s Lean Forward campaign, where the video spokeswoman, Melissa Harris-Perry said, (see below) “We haven’t had a collective notion of ‘these are our children.’ We have to break through this kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents.”

Last I heard, our Utah State Office of Education was claiming that Utah’s Common Core tests (A.I.R.) will only test math and English, and will not test behavioral indicators, attitudes, grit or tenacity.

Do you believe it?

I wish I could.

But while the Department of Education is pushing behavioral indicator measurement, and while the testing company Utah has chosen to create its Common Core tests —American Institutes for Research— has a mission statement “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation,” and while the Utah legislature has passed HB15, a bill that requires “behavior indicators” in school testing, and when Bill Gates, the main funder of all things Common Core, is promoting the merger of technology, games, education and biometric-psychometric control– when these forces combine, how can anyone still believe that all is well?

All is not well.

Parents, teachers and legislators must stand up, speak out, and not be quiet until we stop this erosion of individual rights.

If we don’t, who will?

Parents Demand Real Answers at Alpine District Meeting on Common Core A.I.R. Tests   9 comments

Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  I went with Alisa, Renee, my sister and others whose district is Alpine.  I wanted to compare the attitudes of parents and teachers in Alpine to Wasatch District, where the same meeting was held last Monday.

Alpine’s meeting was so different.

The room was packed, with extra chairs being brought in and still, standing room only.  I have no idea if the majority of people were teachers, principals, or parents, but obviously, many people were concerned and many more came than had been anticipated by the district.

John Jesse had apparently predetermined that no questions would be taken until after the hour-long presentation.  When a parent raised her hand to ask a question, Mr. Jesse said that he would not answer the question until later.

The parent said that it was necessary to answer it now to understand, and other parents shouted out, “Just answer her question,” but Mr. Jesse would not.  The shouts of support continued to the point that Mr. Jesse appeared truly unreasonable, yet he would not budge.

Mr. Jesse lost the respect and confidence of his audience by refusing to answer questions as they came up.

Audience members (parents? teachers? administrators?)  decided to write their questions on the large white board wall on the side of the meeting room.  It was flooded with questions quickly. I wish I would have written them all down to share with you here.

When an audience member asked how long, after a test, parents would be able to see the test items (a week? a month? longer?) Mr. Jesse said that in order to be able to release the tests to the public each year (like ACT, SAT, etc, do), they would need to have a new set of tests created each year.

He said that one set of adaptive test items costs Utah taxpayers $32M. In his words, “It’s so expensive to build these tests, it’s just not possible to make these test items available to parents.”  (Money trumps legal, moral parental rights?!)

One parent asked why we are spending so much money on these tests rather than using the money to reduce class size.

Other parents brought up the illegality of not allowing parents to view test questions (referring to the rule that only 15 parents, appointed by the state, would have that privilege.)  One parent showed Mr. Jesse a copy of the bill that states that the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests must collect “behavioral indicators” along with academic indicators.

She also had a copy of the state FERPA (Privacy law) and read portions aloud to Mr. Jesse, showing the violations of Common Core test and data collection.

Alisa and I had to leave early because we were on our way to make a presentation about the Common Core agenda to a group in Murray.  I quickly wrote my billion dollar question on a note and asked my sister if she would ask it.  (Even though I had been standing up, waving my arm back and forth, Mr. Jesse had not called on me during the Q and A.) I had to leave, I thought, without asking my question.

The exit door was next to the presenter.  I decided to ask my question on my way out. So I turned to the audience, the presenter and superintendent. To the best of my recollection (a videotaper –I hope– will post the video of the event soon) this is what I said:

“In medicine, the motto is FIRST DO NOT HARM. The same applies to education. We are here discussing the wonderful technology of the Common Core tests, but the standards on which they are built have not been vetted and there’s not a shred of evidence shown, ever, to prove to us that these standards are not doing harm and that the claims being made about them, claims being replicated across all district websites, are true.  There is no evidence. I am a credentialed Utah teacher and testify to you that the Common Core is a detriment to our students.  I don’t hold Mr. Jesse or Mr. Menlove personally accountable or blame them, but I say to all of us, as a state, we MUST get OUT of Common Core.”

It seemed as if the entire room jumped to its feet and started cheering and applauding. I felt like Pedro after Napoleon Dynamite finishes the dance. The audience was cheering enthusiastically on and on, and I didn’t know what to do.  (Do I take a bow? Do I run out the door?)  I stood and blinked at all the people in shock and joy.

I share this because I want to offer hope to the parents, teachers, school board members and administrators who have yet to attend these A.I.R. trainings.  Parents don’t want Common Core for the kids once they find out what the whole agenda is about.  Parents are standing up. They are speaking out. They are demanding to see evidence of claims.  They don’t want their kids being used as guinea pigs and they don’t like the lack of parental control and stifled teacher voices.

I heard that after I left the meeting, parents passed around a signup list to have a rally at the State Capitol.  But I also heard, sadly, that after I left the meeting, some parents became overly hostile and that Mr. Jesse was hostile as well.

I was not there then; this is hearsay, but I do hope that all those who stand for educational freedom do so with dignity and respect.  We do not wish to humiliate our leaders.  We just want them to do the right thing and study this fully and act then act on the knowledge that we are, in fact, being acted upon by an increasingly oppressive Executive Branch at the federal level.  This is harming quality, legitimate education.  It is harming data privacy rights.  It is removing local control.  We need our leaders to act.  But we do not want to be unkind.

I heard that at the Cedar meeting earlier yesterday, the USOE separated the teachers and the parents because they didn’t want teachers hearing the parental controversy.  This is wrong.  Do not put up with that.  These controversies affect us all.  We are in this together.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the state meetings.  Please share with friends.  Show up and make sure your voice is heard.  These are your children. This is your tax money.  These are your rights.  I think Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents and administrators can agree that we want no part of education without representation, and no part of education standards and tests that lack references, pilot testing or legitimate vetting.

IF YOUR DISTRICT IS NOT LISTED, CALL THE UTAH STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION AND ASK FOR A MEETING ABOUT THE COMMON CORE TESTS.

Jordan District4–6 pmElk Ridge Middle School / Auditorium3659 W 9800 S, South Jordan Wednesday March 20

Granite District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Auditorium A2500 S State Street, Salt Lake City Thursday March 21

Salt Lake District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Room 116440 E 100 S, Salt Lake City Monday March 25

Washington District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room121 W Tabernacle St., St. George Thursday March 28

Tooele District4–6 pmStansbury High School / Auditorium 5300 N Aberdeen Lane, Stansbury Park TuesdayApril 2

Park City District4–6 pmEcker Hill Middle School2465 W Kilby Rd, Park City WednesdayApril 3

Grand District4–6 pmGrand County High School / Auditorium608 S 400 E, Moab ThursdayApril 4

San Juan District4–6 pmSan Juan High School / Arena Theater311 N 100 E, Blanding MondayApril 8

Wasatch District4–6 pmDistrict Office101 E 200 N, Heber Tuesday April 9

Iron District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room2077 W Royal Hunte Dr., Cedar City Tuesday April 9

Carbon District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room 1251 W 400 N, Price Wednesday April 10

Sevier District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Training Room180 W 600 N, Richfield Thursday April 11

Box Elder District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room960 S Main, Brigham City Thursday April 11

Alpine District4–6 pmDistrict Office575 N 100 E, American Fork TuesdayApril 16

Weber District4–6 pmDistrict Office / Board Room5320 Adams Ave. Parkway, Ogden Tuesday April 16

Logan District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room101 West Center, Logan Wednesday April 17

Juab District4–6 pmJuab High School / Little Theater802 N 650 E, Nephi Thursday April 18

Nebo District4–6 pmDistrict Office/ Board Room350 S Main, Spanish Fork TuesdayApril 23

Davis4–6 pmDistrict Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor)

70 E 100 N, Farmington Thursday April 25

Uintah District4–6 pm Maeser Training Center1149 N 2500 W, Vernal

Interview: Stanford Scholar and District School Board President Speak Out Against Common Core   9 comments

Alisa, Renee and I interviewed Dr. Bill Evers, from Hoover Institute at Stanford University, and Angela Weinziner, the president of the Travis District School Board, also from California. We asked how Common Core is impacting California’s education and the economy.

Highlights:

Dr. Evers tells the story of how an error found in the elementary level English standards about long and short vowels could not be corrected. The standards had already been printed and sent to the states. It was too late to course correct, even on a small matter. How will we course correct on large matters? There is no amendment process.

Angela Weinzinger explains that few parents or school board members really understand what Common Core is all about. She asks parents to speak out and voice their concerns.

Dr. Evers explains what “competitive federalism” is and what its benefits are to education.

Mark Rice and Me: Common Misadventures in Common Core   1 comment

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-rice/common-core-math_b_2781092.html

This article needs wide exposure.

 

Misadventures in Common Core

By Mark Rice – reposted from Huffington Post

My daughter — a bright, fun-loving 8-year-old who isn’t easily rattled — was reduced to tears in school yesterday. Apparently, while working on a math lesson involving fractions, she wasn’t “getting it” the way that she thought she should, and her frustration mounted and her eyes welled up and, later, when her teacher talked to her in the hallway on the way to gym class, she lost it and she cried and cried.

I know this because her teacher — a committed professional who does wonderful work with her class of third-graders — cared enough to call us at home to tell us. When asked, she said that lots of kids were feeling frustrated by this particular lesson. The reason, we learned, is New York’s recent embrace of the “Common Core” that has been adopted by 46 states. It’s the latest experiment put into place by educational policy experts who continually jockey to get the newest big ideas into the classroom.

When I first heard about the Common Core, I was excited. Many of the college students I teach are unprepared to do the kinds of textual analysis and critical thinking that I expect of them, and what I had heard about the Common Core made it seem promising. One article that I read in The Atlantic made it sound, well, revolutionary.

Maybe it will be. The Common Core might turn out to be one of the best reforms in K-12 education in decades. It’s all still pretty new and its cumulative impact on the intellectual development of students might turn out to be a great thing. What I know right now, though, is that it is asking third graders to approach math in ways that seem terribly unsuited to them.

I don’t just mean things like the worksheet that included a rectangle divided into six sections with written instructions asking students to shade one-fifth of it.

[Note: As I wrote the above sentence, my daughter — who had been in bed for an hour and should have been asleep — came downstairs in tears, saying that she was still upset by what happened in math class. After talking about her frustrations, she fell asleep beside me on the sofa.]

No, I’m not talking about the typographical error on an official New York State Common Core third-grade math worksheet, though such a boneheaded mistake does little to inspire confidence.

What I mean by math problems unsuited to third-graders are ones that go something like this: Two kids are served brownies. One kid, “Julian,” eats one-half of a small brownie and the other kid, “Debbie,” eats one-eighth of a big brownie. Julian claims that he ate more than Debbie (because one-half is more than one-eighth). The students are asked to explain why Julian’s claim is false, using words and pictures, and then use words and pictures to make that supposedly false statement into a true statement.

I guess that what the students are supposed to realize is that because the brownies are different sizes (though what kind of adult would cut unequal-sized brownies for kids?), one-half isn’t necessarily bigger than one-eighth. That’s true, but without knowing the size of each brownie, there really isn’t enough information to determine which brownie piece is bigger. Maybe Julian really did eat more than Debbie.

More to the point though, is this question: How in the world is that problem supposed to help a third-grader learn fractions? Third-graders are concrete thinkers and they are just learning the basics of fractions. Why throw in a poorly-written word problem that asks them to explain an abstract concept such as the idea that one-eighth of a larger whole may be bigger than one-half of a smaller whole? Until they fully understand the basics of halves and eighths — and unless there is a picture showing the relative sizes of each whole — such abstractions only muddy the waters of learning.

Then there is the problem of dividing a “whole” into two “halves,” calling each half a new whole, and then asking the students to divide the new whole into new halves. My daughter looked at the problem and she knew that she wasn’t seeing two new wholes. She was seeing two halves of the original whole that still stared back her from the page.

More insidious still is a worksheet that seems determined to confuse students by its use of two very similar sounding, and similar looking words. The instructions for Column A read: “The shape represents one whole. Write a fraction to describe the shaded part.” Below the instructions are a variety of shapes with different fractions shaded. The same shapes and shades are found in Column B. This time students are instructed: “The shaded part represents one whole. Divide one whole to show the same unit fraction you wrote in A.”

These third grade students are expected to keep in mind not only the lesson on fractions, but also the fine distinction between the words “shape” and “shade” in determining wholes and fractions. It’s absurd.

I don’t know how my daughter will do in math today or in the coming weeks. I hope that with her teacher’s guidance, and with the support of her mother and me, she’ll make the adjustments she needs to make in order to regain her confidence in understanding the math concepts that she was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.

Until then, we’ll just keep reassuring her that the problem isn’t her ability to understand math; the problem is how she’s being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental “big idea” that she’s unknowingly become part of.

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Thanks to Mark Rice for his article. 

At Wasatch High School, where my teenager goes, there have been no math books for two years and there won’t be any next year either.  I know this because I called and asked.

No textbook.  No online book. No resource for parents or students, other than the offer to have parents attend class with the student.  Or afterschool tutoring.  Still booklessly.

This is the case because Wasatch High (or the school board– not sure who made the call) has decided to “lead” the state in implementing the Common Core.  So rather than to take some time –full implementation and testing must be done in 2014– Wasatch started implementing immediately, booklessly.

Math teachers just “make it up” and make daily worksheets from the standards themselves, but without real instruction.  These worksheets don’t look like a math book by any stretch of the imagination.  They are virtually instruction-free.  And my teenager can’t stand it.

I wish there were private schools in the Heber Valley but there are not. My options are to homeschool my teenager, or put up with a THIRD year of no book and no traditional math.

Thank you, Utah State School Board, for truly messing up children’s academic lives and calling it wonderful.

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While I’m on the subject of how incredibly frustrated I feel with the Utah State School Board and the State Office of Education, I will share a thread from facebook.  Joel Coleman is the state school board member who comments here, and Wendy Hart is a district school board member who understands how bad common core really is.  Joel does not. :

Kris Kimball I’m against the lower Math and Language Art standards in Common Core. I’m against the State School Board signing onto Common Core without any public or legislative input or without any cost analysis as to what this would cost our state. I’m against Common Core’s one size fits all approach that has never worked in education. I’m against nationalized assessments that will drive our curriculum and do away with local control in our schools.
  • Joel Coleman C’mon, we have to be straight here, we can’t keep repeating the same falsehoods in good conscience. The financial analysis was required before the money was appropriated by the legislature 3 years ago.  In fact, the costs dropped from $80M with the previous standards to $5M, so we actually saved a whole boatload of money. There was the same public input (including legislators) as there always is when adjusting or adopting the new Utah core standards for math and English.  And clearly we’re not using nationalized assessments – we’re developing our own using Utah produced questions and reviewed by a board of Utah citizens as required by Utah law.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis Joel Coleman – you’re right – it’s time to be straight.  We’ve spent thousands of hours researching this.  How many have you spent?  I understand that you are on the inside track but I have only had 1, that’s right 1, email returned to me from Brenda Hales.  1 – that is unbelievable to me.  I’m glad that you feel so confident with the numbers put out by the State Office but I would like to see an independent cost analysis done.  This is not simply about standards.  You need to look at all of the reforms we’re putting in place to first, comply with our Race to the Top application, (I know we didn’t win but we never reversed – aside from the assessments- any of our commitments) and then look at the NCLB waiver very closely.  There is a lot to this.  Have you read the National Governor’s Implementation guide where they suggested states may have to hide some of the costs associated with implementing Common Core?  They suggested increasing class sizes.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis The one email I was sent spouted the same lines we’ve heard from the beginning, un-sourced of course.  I did however get forwarded an email that you wrote the Lieutenant Governor attaching a 204 page document with the comment that here’s all the info those opposing Common Core “claim to have never received”.  Did you send it to me?  That document had the same rhetoric too.  They didn’t even get the committee Sandra Stotsky was on right.  I would encourage you to look around the Country and you’ll notice our outrage is not isolated to UT.
  • Alisa Olsen Ellis And same ole’, same ole’ doesn’t cut it in this case.  We’ve NEVER adopted standards like this before and we’ve never agreed to them before they were even written.  That is just absurd, in my opinion.
  • Anissa Wardell The “core” of this issue is that USOE is not being straight with any of us. Utah has implemented new standards, shifting the entire state and requiring districts to enact new training, new curriculum, and new assessments, and the state has somehow saved us $75 million? Where did you get that $5 million dollar figure? I would love to see how we have saved $75 million dollars.
  • Joel Coleman Simple, the $5M is what the legislature gave for training – that’s the implementation cost.  The rest of the costs are the same as before.  Previously they gave about $80M.  It’s not that complicated.
  • Alyson Oldham Williams Joel Coleman could you direct us to where we can see those figures? I’ve looked over the appropriations documents going back to 2008 and can’t find what you’re talking about. Thanks!
  • Renee LaPray Braddy Joel Coleman, you should talk to the districts.  Alpine is finding that they are spending a lot on implementing Common Core.  It seems as though the districts will be absorbing the majority of the cost.  I don’t think it is asking too much to have a cost analysis.  Do you?
  • Wendy Hart Brenda Hales said at Rep. Powell’s forum in Heber that in Utah, we never have enough money for this sort of thing, so the districts have to work it into the cycle of purchasing materials and professional development.
  • Wendy Hart What it does do is reset the spending priorities of the local districts. We would not have spent nearly $1M additional on professional development costs, not would we have purchased new math books. I would have preferred to reduce class sizes.
  • Renee LaPray Braddy Joel Coleman, have you seen this recent study in NY? “There are serious challenges to this federal program’s validity, and the research upon which it is based. Without substantive validation, New York State and U.S. taxpayers are funding a grand and costly experiment that has the potential to take public education in the wrong direction at a time when we need to be more competitive than ever before.”
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