Archive for the ‘protecting children’ Tag

Will Utah Quash Families’ Opt-Out Rights?   4 comments

Many tens of thousands of public school students, whose parents regularly opt out of Common Core testing, may lose the right to do so.

When federal ESSA passed in 2015, it claimed veto power for the federal education department– over every state’s educational plan.  Utah humbly asked the feds for a waiver, so that Utah would remain free to opt out of federally promoted tests. (Until this time, Utahns were unquestionably protected by state law that claims primary authority for parents, with schools/state in a supporting role.) The federal department said no to Utah’s waiver request.

So, state school board and legislators are in a pickle:  will they honor state law and protect parental rights, or honor federal ESSA’s unconstitutional veto power, and force all parents to force all children to take Common Core tests?

The state school board is divided on this question.  –That’s interesting, since the Utah board was not even permitted by the state superintendent to vote on our new plan –which the federal government has now vetoed.

 

Michelle Boulter, Utah State School Board

 

Michelle Boulter of the state board says:

“…In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State lawa state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

… exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states…

…This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members [ Board@schools.utah.gov  ] and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power.”

After reading state school board member Michelle Boulter’s letter and local Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s comments on the subject, I wrote to the state board. Kathleen Riebe wrote back. Here is that exchange.  –And here is the email if you want to write, too: Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Letter one: 

Dear Board,
ESSA is pressuring Utah to subvert our state laws and parental rights. Please don’t do it.
I agree with state school board member Michelle Boulter, who wrote:
https://electmichelleboulter.com/2018/08/08/the-state-of-utah-is-negotiating-away-parental-rights
Similarly, ASD school board Wendy Hart said to the state board:
http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/08/essa-opt-out-denial-from-feds-my.html

Wendy Hart, Alpine District School Board

It’s a terrible idea to pit teachers against parents who opt out of Common core tests.  Caving to federal demands that the state quash testing opt outs does that.
The problem isn’t the parents opting kids out of Common Core testing, nor can we blame teachers/schools who, fearing mislabeling due to low scores resulting from opt outs, might pressure parents to opt in.
The problem is office of education bureaucrats who mindlessly swallow unconstitutional suggestions made by the federal DOE, and who misadvise state school board members, without respect for principles of local control, telling them to nod and sign.
Listen to the wisdom of elected officials who have spoken clearly on the ESSA situation: Michelle Boulter and Wendy Hart. They point out that we can and must protect the state’s liberties as well as relationships between parents and teachers.
As an opting-out parent  of children in public schools, and as a certified Utah teacher, thank you.
Christel Swasey
Pleasant Grove
Response one:

Thank you for your concern.

As a parent, teacher and a taxpayer, I appreciate that my students have an opportunity to display their knowledge and that they were taught the content required. About 90% of our families share my feelings.

Transparency and accountability are major concerns of my constituents.

USBE has worked hard to find a solution with the federal government.  The board will follow the laws and work with the legislature to seek new funding to ensure the best opportunities for all our students.

Kathleen Riebe M.Ed.

State School Board Member

District 10

801-599-5753

Letter two:

Dear Kathleen,
Thank you for responding.
There are over 650,000 enrolled public school students in the state of Utah. If about 90 percent are opting to participate in Common Core testing, that leaves about 65,000 students, and 130,000 parents, who are opting out. That’s no small potatoes.
Does it feel right to you to eliminate the authority and conscience of 195,000  Utahns, especially considering the fact that Utah law places primary authority to parents, with the state/schools in a secondary, supporting role.
They’re opting out for a plethora of very valid, very important reasons. Some kids become anxious and depressed to the point of suicidal behaviors due to high-pressure testing. Some parents don’t approve of the secretive nature of the tests, and of the tests’ never having been tested or validated independently. Some parents oppose psychometric evaluation embedded in academic tests. Some parents recognize that these tests pressure schools and teachers, even against their school charters and their professional judgment, to redefine their curriculum and teaching traditions.
I implore you to support the rights of these people and the Utah law that puts parental / family authority first in education.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

SENATOR MIKE LEE: HOW SENATOR ALEXANDER’S ESEA/NCLB IS TO BE RAMMED DOWN CONGRESS’ THROAT   4 comments

mike lee

Even if you had time to read the final version of the new ESEA bill  which will get released days from now –which you won’t, because you’ll be eating turkey– and even if you agreed with every word (which I’m betting you won’t, because Senator Alexander’s view of ed reform is sick and wrong) –but even if you liked it– shouldn’t you, on principle, still oppose its passage, based on the devious  process being used, a pushing of  laws into their cemented form without representative debate– very fast, and mostly in the dark?

Senator Mike Lee’s fight against this now-brewing, corrupt, “new” No Child Left Behind, inspires me.  His backbone in standing up to the corruptos in Congress that are pushing ESEA is a rare treasure in politics.  Do you realize that he’s fighting for the actual freedom of our children and grandchildren?  This is real.  Listen to him. 

Senator Lee’s railed against some of the corruption; for example, its $250 million plan to hurt good preschools by pushing loser-federal preschools on all; its cementing of Common Core standards,  etc.  There’s more brewing that he hasn’t taken time to denounce yet, such as  its creepy, parent-ditching “community school” program that puts government ahead of families, churches or anyone else in influencing kids and eating up too much of kids’ time; and its cementing of common, kid-stalking data tags (CEDS) –but you can study all of that.

Lee’s big focus is on something more basic:  the dark, un-American process  by which ESEA/NCLB is about to pass into law.

(I keep calling the other members of the Utah delegation to leave messages asking them to join his fight.  Please do, too.)

This process that Senator Lee speaks of is so corrupt.

It is un-American to make Congress  vote on something so fast that it hasn’t been  vetted or understood by voters.   It is un-American to skip debate and to ditch input.  We all know that this law will weigh heavily on everyone who will be ruled by it afterward.  Shouldn’t voters have a real opportunity to look at the bill from all angles and then take the vote?

Senator Lee has pointed out that the process creates the policy.  This is how ESEA/NCLB is to be rammed down the throat of Congress (and all of us) next week.

Step one: right now, a tiny handful of pro-reauthorization members of Congress, behind closed doors, are cooking up the poison pill.

Step 2:  They’ll speed it to a vote so fast that the rest of Congress has no time to think before swallowing, no chance to offer what they are supposed to be allowed to offer:  “motions to instruct the conferees” (input).

Step 3:   They’ll market it under the banner of good-sounding lies and slanted press releases and news stories that will successfully deceive Americans (including our politicians) into believing that control has been returned to the localities.  It won’t be true.  But we’ll figure it out too late to easily reverse it.  Because nobody’s going to really read the bill before they vote yes.

The draft was released a few day ago.  The bill won’t be released until next week, the same week that the vote will be taken: December 2.

The draft bill itself, still called what Sen. Alexander named it years ago, “The Every Child Ready for College and Career Act of 2015” will pass out of draft form into final form as a concoction, mixing  what the house passed plus what the senate passed, both of which were, to freedom lovers, pure ugly.

Now, superglued together under the supervision of those working in the dark with Senator Alexander, it will surely have even a worse blast radius than its past incarnations.

This hurried method is a sick pattern used by the Obama administration.  We saw Secretary Duncan push states with the monetary lure of “Race to the Top” millions to adopt Common Core and its tests and SLDS systems for a chance in that race.  Before that, there was the ARRA funding that was tied, among other things, to governors agreeing to get federally-approved student data collection systems and standards.

Now, the speed of ESEA will similarly  maim freedom, pushing these  controversial programs into  nation-binding law.

I’m reposting Senator Lee’s entire speech below.

After you read it, please call. This monster will affect all Americans for years to come.

Ask for any senator and representative in D.C. at 202-224-3121.  Say, “VOTE NO ON ESEA.”  Done? Thank you!!  Please call again.  Then call for your neighbor who isn’t taking the time to call.  Skip the gym or the crochet project and call some who aren’t your direct reps, too.  Leave them messages — ask them to call you to account for how they plan to vote on December 2.

Politicians need constituents’ support to get re-elected.  Tell them that this is a make or break issue; you won’t vote for them again if they vote yes on ESEA.  Your voice and vote are  leverage.

——————-

Speeches

At some point today the Senate will vote on the motion to appoint conferees – or what’s often called the motion to go to conference – for a bill that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or the ESEA, which is the legislation governing our federal K-12 education policy.

Because most Americans have probably never heard of this obscure parliamentary procedure – the motion to appoint conferees – I’d like to take a moment to explain how it works… or at least, how it’s supposed to work.

When the House and the Senate each pass separate, but similar, bills, the two chambers convene what’s called “a conference.”

A conference is essentially a meeting where delegates from each chamber come together to iron out the differences between their respective bills, and put together what’s called “a conference report” – which is a single piece of legislation that reconciles any disparities between the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill.

Once the delegates to the conference – the conferees – agree on a conference report, they bring it back to their respective chambers, to the House and to the Senate, for a final vote.

It’s important to note here that, once the conference report is sent to the House and the Senate for a final vote, there’s no opportunity to amend the legislation. It’s an up-or-down vote: each chamber can either approve or reject the conference report in its entirety.

If each chamber votes to approve the conference report, it’s then sent to the president, who can either sign it into law or veto it.

So what we’re doing today is voting on the motion to appoint conferees for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Earlier this year, both the House and the Senate passed their own ESEA reauthorizations. And now, we’re voting to proceed to the conference process and to appoint certain senators to participate in that process as conferees.

Historically, and according to the way the conference process is supposed to work, this vote is not that big of a deal. Voting on the motion to appoint conferees is usually, and mostly, a matter of routine.

But it’s not a vote that should be rushed through on a moment’s notice, because it is the last opportunity for senators and representatives who are not conferees – such as myself – to influence the outcome of the conference process.

We can do that by offering what are called “motions to instruct the conferees.”

For example, let’s say I was not chosen to be a conferee to a particular bill, but there was an issue related to the bill that was important to me and to the people I represent – in that case, I could ask the Senate to vote on a set of instructions that would be sent to the conference to inform their deliberations and influence the substance of the conference report.

Mr. President, this is how the conference process is supposed to work.

But it is not how the conference process has been conducted with respect to this bill, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

Sure, we’re still voting to appoint conferees.

And those conferees will still convene a conference.

And that conference will still produce a conference report.

So from the surface, it will still look like the conference process is happening the way it’s supposed to.

But beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been pre-arranged, pre-cooked, pre-determined… by a select few members of Congress, working behind closed doors, free from scrutiny.

And we know that this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice, so that it would be difficult – if not impossible – for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.

Now, why does this matter?

We know the American people care deeply about K-12 education policy. But why should they care about this obscure parliamentary procedure in the Senate?

They should care – and Mr./Madam President, we know that they do care – because the process influences the policy.

In this case, the process expedites the passage of policies that we know don’t work – policies to which the American people are strongly opposed.

For instance, it’s my understanding that this pre-agreement may authorize $250 million in new spending on federal pre-K programs – what amounts to a down-payment on the kind of universal, federally-run pre-K programs advocated by President Obama.

This would be a disaster not only for American children and families, but for our 21st-century economy that increasingly requires investments in human capital.

We know that a good education starting at a young age is an essential ingredient for upward economic mobility later in life. A mountain of recent social science research proves what experience and intuition have been teaching mankind for millennia: that a child’s first few years of life are critical in their cognitive and emotional development.

Yet we also know that too many of America’s public schools, especially those in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, fail to prepare their students to succeed.

Nowhere has the top-down, centrally planned model of public education failed more emphatically than in our nation’s public pre-K programs. The epitome of federal preschool programs is Head Start, which has consistently failed to improve the lives and educational achievements of the children it ostensibly serves.

According to a 2012 study by President Obama’s own Department of Health and Human Services, whatever benefits children gain from the program disappear by the time they reach the third grade.

But because bureaucracies invariably measure success in terms of inputs, instead of outcomes, Head Start and its $8 billion annual budget is the model for Democrats as they seek to expand federal control over child care programs in communities all across the country.

This bill also doubles down on the discredited common-core approach to elementary and secondary education that the American people have roundly, and consistently, rejected.

Mr. President, parents and teachers across America are frustrated by Washington, D.C.’s heavy-handed, overly prescriptive approach to education policy.

I’ve heard from countless moms and dads in Utah who feel as though anonymous government officials living and working 2,000 miles away have a greater say in the education of their children than they do.

The only way to improve our K-12 education system in America is to empower parents, educators, and local policymakers to meet the unique needs of their communities and serve the low-income families the status quo is leaving behind.

With early childhood education, we could start block granting the Head Start budget to the states.

This would allow those closest to the children and families being served to design their own programs – rather than spending all their time complying with onerous, one-size-fits-all federal mandates – and designate eligible public and private pre-schools to receive grants.

We know this works because many states are already doing it. In my home state of Utah, for instance, United Way of Salt Lake has partnered with two private financial institutions, Goldman Sachs and J.B. Pritzker, to provide first rate early education programs to thousands of Utah children.

They call it a “pay-for-success” loan.

With no upfront cost or risk to the taxpayers, private capital is invested in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program, which is implemented and overseen by United Way.

If, as expected, the preschool program results in increased school readiness and improved academic performance, the state of Utah repays the private investors with the public funds it would have spent on remedial services that the children would have needed between kindergarten and the twelfth grade, had they not participated in the program.

Washington policymakers should not look at Utah’s pay-for-success initiatives – and other local success stories like them – as potential federal programs, but as a testament to the power of local control.

Mr. President, we shouldn’t expand Washington’s control over America’s schools and pre-K programs. Instead, Congress must advance reforms that empower parents – with flexibility and choice – to do what’s in the best interest of their children.

The policies in this bill move in the opposite direction.

2015 Update: US Congressman Schaffer on Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” Letter   14 comments

bob s

The following is authored by former US Congressman Bob Schaffer and is posted with his permission.  In light of the fact that Marc Tucker has been invited to advise the Utah legislature on education at this week’s two day education conference, it seemed important to remember the history behind the changes that are culminating now, which Tucker and Hillary Clinton detailed in motion in the 1990s.  Thanks to Bob Schaffer for his timely update.

_________________________________________________________

Thanks Christel: 

 

I am grateful for your inquiry and certainly wish you well in your patriotic efforts in Utah.  Incidentally, your readers can find PDF files of each page of Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter in the 1998 Congressional Record through these links: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

 

The “Dear Hillary” letter is as relevant today as it was in 1992.  Though I doubt anyone in the halls of government much remembers the letter itself, it is the concise, clear, and intentional nature of the letter that is instructive to those of us who still find value in the idea of a constitutional republic self-governed by free and intelligent citizens.  Tucker’s sweeping 1992 blueprint for nationalizing the American public-education system is especially pertinent now because, at least since the day it was penned, it has been brilliantly executed with virtually no deviation.

 

It is instructive to note Tucker’s blueprint does not stop at nationalizing primary public education.  It entails merging nationalized primary-education goals with a nationalized higher-education system and a nationalized labor-administrative function.  Think of the 1990s doublespeak “School-to-Work” and you get an accurate picture.  School-to-Work, as you know, was the apt title of the Clinton-era initiative setting the Tucker letter into actual national public policy.  More practically, think of the “Prussian-German, education-labor model” because it is the same thing.  Tucker actually says so in the letter itself:  “We propose that (President-elect) Bill take a leaf out of the German book.”

 

Truly, Tucker’s ideas are not new.  They were formalized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, refined by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, embedded by Hegel in the German university structure, then exported throughout the world including to virtually every “teachers college” in America.   Specific to the perpetual, anti-intellectual quest to undermine the traditions of “classical” education, Rousseau’s “social-contract” ideas (wherein individuals are understood as subordinate to state interests and royal continuity) were perfected for European classrooms by heralded social engineers such as Heinrich Pestalozzi and Friedrich Froebel.  These ideas were most powerfully applied to American classrooms by John Dewey.  Despite being deeply embedded in the curriculum of modern American teacher’s colleges, these collectivist ideals and progressive-romantic philosophies have been held in marginal abeyance by the brilliant American design of decentralized, independent, sovereign states each in charge of its own public-education system. 

 

Accordingly, this is where Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter earns its notorious repute.  An acolyte of the worn Rousseau-Dewey, progressive-romantic line of thinking, Tucker eloquently maps in his 1992 letter to the new First Lady a sharp and detailed political plan for mutating American primary education, secondary education, and labor policy in ways that can breach the pesky firewalls of the Tenth Amendment if not the core revolutionary ideal of federalism itself.  Hegel would have been elated.  Dewey’s, Pestalozzi’s, and Froebel’s names are already painted on the ceiling of the Library of Congress – main floor, at that.

 

Though eight years of the Clinton administration have come and gone (maybe), the tactics of the “Dear Hillary” letter roll onward.  Not a single manifestation of “Dear Hillary” policies was curtailed during the Bush presidency.  In fact, many were accelerated through “No Child Left Behind.” The Obama administration has effectuated “Dear Hillary” objectives to nearly complete fruition. 

 

As to your curiosity about why I petitioned the House of Representatives in 1998 to allow me to preserve the Tucker letter as I did, my best explanation follows.

 

After discovering, studying and digesting the transformational implications of the “Dear Hillary” letter, and concluding it carried credible political heft, I thought it important to enshrine the missive via The Congressional Record perhaps as a self-explanatory and incontrovertible marker as to whom, when, where and how the United States of America finally and completely disconnected itself from the proven ideals of classical education – the kind of education the country’s Founders received.  As a youngish, backbench first-term Member of Congress in 1998, I thought someday maybe someone working on a Master’s thesis would like to pinpoint the moment our former republic opted instead for the amply disproven, constrained and anti-intellectual objectives of formalized “training.”  Maybe my Congressional-Record entry would be of good use to an aspiring scholar or two.

 

Indeed, history is replete with examples of classical education leading to strong, powerful individuals; and formalized training leading to a strong, powerful state.  I regarded this letter as a signal of an epic American turning point.  I actually did imagine the letter would one day be regarded as an important historic document worthy of being singled out and remembered.  I maintain that belief even now, and am delighted you are among those who recognize its significance.

 

It seemed to me at the time, the “Dear Hillary” letter was the most concise, honest and transparent political document of its kind.  It reminded me of the moment Gen. George McClelland at Sharpsburg came into possession of Gen. Robert Lee’s plans for an offensive at Antietam Creek.  Here in these plans, one actually reads a credible battle strategy for overcoming American federalism.  Tucker’s war cannons were fully charged and tightly packed with progressive-romantic canister, aimed directly upon the Founder’s revolutionary idea of republican, self-government and our traditions of states’ rights.  

 

I had anticipated my colleagues in the Congress and various state-education leaders would benefit from knowing, in advance, of Tucker’s offensive strategy especially as his battle plan was specifically addressed to, and received by, the occupants of the White House.  The last thing I ever imagined at the time (and I am heartbroken to realize it now), is how political leaders in the several states have stood indolently for it.  Never did I picture the baleful scene we are witnessing today – state leaders themselves dutifully lowering Tucker’s linstock to the touch hole of statism.

 

At least for the past couple of decades, the vast majority of elected leaders in both political parties have clearly – if not enthusiastically – worked to outdo one another in applying Rousseau-Hegel-Dewey ideas to public education.  They offer little, if any, impressive resistance to policies, laws, rules, and mandates relegating American education to a job-training enterprise despite the prescient warnings of Albert Jay Nock, E.D. Hirsch, Tracy Lee Simmons and others who have underscored the crucial difference between classical education and anti-intellectual training.  As such, Tucker’s letter and goals, though overtly political, cannot be fairly regarded as a partisan.  No, the epic transformation of American culture and national character is being achieved rather quickly due to an overwhelming advantage of spectacular bipartisan cooperation. 

 

Henceforward, when intelligent people scratch their heads and wonder how it was that the citizens of the United State of America inexplicably stood by and unwittingly participated in the systematic demise of their blessed republic, at least they’ll find one comprehensive and compelling explanation, assuming it survives the censors’ notice, in The Congressional Record on September 25, 1998.

 

Thank you for finding me, reaching out to me, and granting me an opportunity to underscore the perilous certainties of the country’s education system.

 

Very truly yours,

Bob Schaffer

 

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On a related note, I invite the officials who will be participating in so-called “guided” discussions at this week’s conference to truly arm themselves against the manipulative “delphi technique” that is used to force consensus, as outlined by Jenny Hatch here.

 

Open Letter from Nevada Mother on Common Core   5 comments

Christina Leventis and spouse

Open Letter From NV Mom

 

Christina Leventis, a mother from Nevada,has had it with Michael Petrilli of Fordham Foundation, for his unwavering support for Common Core.
Christina Leventis and her husband are in the photo.

Dear Mr. Petrilli:

It is near impossible to catch my breath between your compulsory admonishments on “embracing the core.”  I continue to read them and I continue to reject them.  Your reasoning is unsound and, frankly, I simply disagree with you.  So, I have a question for you Mr. Petrilli.

What if I just don’t want my children to be taught under the Common Core State Standards or any aka there of, period?

I do not understand this game of tug-of-war over my children.  In polite society, Mr. Petrilli, when a mother says “No, thank you” on behalf of her child, she means “No, thank you.”  It is not code for “verbally abuse me until I lay my child at the altar of Thy-Will-of-Bill-Gates-Be-Done.”

My mind ponders at length the accomplishments of Bill Gates.  He is an excellent example of the American dream.  Bill Gates capitalized on American freedom to live as he pleased; to learn in a way that fit him; to create and build for himself and his family.  The irony that Bill Gates is now using his amassed millions to usurp that same freedom from American families and to pigeon-hole the nation’s children into a standardized learning that suits him is grotesque and unjustifiable.

I had the privilege this past week to meet some of the national moms standing against this federal rush for our children.  I looked long and hard at each of them because I was looking for something specific.  What I found was a group of moms: funny, wise, sharp, thoughtful, sincere, caring, focused, genuine, and much more.  I didn’t find what I was looking for though.  I didn’t find any bullies.

The mothers in this fight are not the bullies – white, suburban or otherwise.  What we are is the last line of defense, in some cases, the only line of defense for our children.  I’m afraid our silence has been mistaken for complacency.  Maybe we were quiet when we should have spoken.  That’s on us.  But we are speaking now.  We tried polite.  We tried firm.  We tried loud.  When we are not being ignored we are being labeled.

If the pushers could stop the diversion tactics for just five minutes they would be able to recognize the point of failure immediately.  The “architects” did not start with the children in mind, whereas, mothers always begin with their children in mind.  The writers begin with job placement – moms begin with giving life.  The writers think assessment – moms think development.  The writers think corporate boardroom – moms think sandbox.   Life is an unfolding of an individual’s soul and spirit – it is not a race of the mindless clones to the factory time clock.

Here is my admonishment to you Mr. Petrilli – I love my children and Bill Gates will run out of money before I ever run out of love for my children.

Sincerely,

Christina Leventis

Nevada Mother

Fighting Manipulation in Education Reform Bills   1 comment

brian greene pg

Rep. Brian Greene of Pleasant Grove –

His fair and transparent state school board elections bill passed the House vote and may pass into law if the Senate votes yes this week

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We are fighting manipulation in education reform. Utah legislators have written multiple bills this year that take important steps to curb it.  Before I give links to these very important bills –which we need to beg the senators and representatives to vote YES on– let’s talk briefly about the question of how  manipulation happens under the guise of education reform.

This six minute video featuring Dr. Peg Luksik, starting at 1:15, explains a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4iMwlarNA

This speech was given a few weeks ago, when education expert Dr. Peg Luksik spoke about the manipulation that happens in computer adaptive, standardized tests.

Luksik explains:

The problem isn’t that it’s self-paced; the problem is that the test is open to manipulation.” (minute 1:15-1:20)  Test creators can adapt the test to make it appear to the average taxpayer, parent or policy maker to have been more difficult or easier.  It’s an internal mechanism, not a valid assessment.  A child has to agree or comply with questions along the way, or he/she cannot move on to take the rest of the test.

Dr. Luksik gives examples of this compliance.  In the 1990’s she saw internal documents of these tests that explained that the test was not to assess objective knowledge at all; it was to test –and score for– the child’s threshhold for behavior change without protest.

A sample question wanted a child to answer whether a child would join a vandalism group. There was no way a child could answer that he/she would not ever join a vandalism group; he or she could only indicate whether he/she would join if a best friend was in the group or if mother would not find out or other similar options.  Another example asked whether a child would cry, be upset, argue, when the family was moving to another country.  There was no option that was not outc0me based.  This prevents individual thought.

(FYI:  In Utah, these tests are called S.A.G.E. and are co-created by the federally funded Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and a company called American Institutes for Research which has taken at least $39 million Utah tax dollars to deliver Utah’s children a computer adaptive, Common Core aligned test.)

Dr. Luksik also explains that test questions that are supposed to be testing reading, are aiming to test other things, such as this example: a child’s level of honesty was tested in what was supposedly a reading test:  If he/she found a wallet with money in it what would he/she do?  No option was: return it.

Now, these tests were 1990’s Outcome Based Education (OBE) tests.  But the embedding principle is the same in today’s Common Core tests; just much easier for test creators to hide, since they’re not pencil and paper  tests anymore.

A child will simply answer questions on a test,  Dr. Luksik points out: “No child would think to say, ‘Is this a reading question?’ because they’re kids; they just take the test.'”  But how can teachers or parents protect them?

Three Bills:

Now, in Utah, we have the opportunity to take small steps in a better direction–  small but important steps.

mike kennedy

Right now, Rep. Mike Kennedy has a bill that  expands a committee of parents or guardians of Utah public education students to review computer adaptive test questions.  The bill also requires the State Board of Education to prepare and publish on its website a report containing information about test questions identified by the committee as problematic.  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0081.html

It has passed the House vote.   Hope and pray that it also passes the Senate.  And write to your senators and reps!

brian greene pg

Another great education bill in Utah that passed the house and may, possibly, pass the Senate and become a rare, good new law is Rep. Brian Greene’s bill for fair and transparent, partisan state school board elections. (Our system is horrible and MUST change: it begins with a closed-off, exclusionary, and Common Core-promoting questionnaire, followed by a small, biased committee making recommendations to the governor and then the governor appointing two preselected candidates from which the voters can choose.  And voters are not allowed to know whether these two are each or both Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or of any other party.)  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0228.html  We need this bill.

anderegg

There’s also Rep. Jake Anderegg’s important house bill 169 which aims to restrain the sharing of student data without parental or adult student consent.   http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0169.html

These  bills are wonderful.  I’m so grateful for them.  But they’re far from silver bullets.

They do not stop Common Core standards.  They don’t stop Common Core testing.  They don’t stop the stalking being done by the un-opt-out-able State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  They don’t take away the 15% rule (meaning that Utah can’t add to its math and English standards because of the Common Core copyright and the federal 15% ceiling over the standards.)  The bills don’t change the fact that Common Core standards are still dumbing down the top level high school students by removing almost all of the calculus and trigonometry requirements that Utah had prior to Common Core; nor do they restore to high school students the missing 70% classic literature that’s been robbed.

But–

They are important steps in the right direction, in the direction of restoring parental (and voter/taxpayer) control over what’s going on in education today.  They work around the manipulation and put individuals in better control of what has felt like an almost overwhelmingly unfair education system.

Thank you, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Greene, and Rep. Anderegg.

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you!

USOE Curriculum Director Opposes Increased Parental Power in Curricular Decisions   Leave a comment

Utah parents, please take note:

Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email today:

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From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342

Curriculum Friends,

Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.

This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.

Go to www.le.utah.gov  to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action.  Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.

Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.

Director, Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

801-538-7788

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

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Essay Contest for Utah Stop Common Core State Capitol Event February 18th   1 comment

write
ESSAY CONTEST for FEBRUARY 18th STOP COMMON CORE RALLY
On the 18th of Feburary at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., hundreds of Utahns will gather at the State Capitol to take a stand against Common Core.  As part of that event, Utahns Against Common Core has announced an essay contest.  Three essays will be chosen and read by their authors at this event.   Here’s the announcement:
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What’s the powerful reason that you’ve taken a stand against Common Core?  Why do you want the restoration of high quality, time-tested education standards and local control in Utah?  Do you have a great story?  Utahns Against Common Core wants to hear it!
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Submit your essay to Utahns Against Common Core at consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com by the deadline:  midnight on February 15th.  Three essays will be selected to be read at the State Capitol Common Core Event on February 18th  from 6:30 to 8:00.  Winners will be notified on February 17th and winners will be announced at the public meeting.  Winning and non-winning essays will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.  If you do not want your essay made public, please let us know.
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Topic:  Why I oppose the Common Core Initiative
Length:  Essay must be readable in less than three minutes.
Deadline:  12:00 midnight on February 15th, 2014
Prize:  You get to share your story/essay at the State Capitol Common Core Event
Capitol common core meeting

National Common Core News Update   4 comments

capitol roof

Truth in American Education and Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado have compiled most of the following information and I thank them for it.

First, here are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy pushback bills  happening right now, almost all over this nation:

Alabama tba; Arizona: SB 1121 SB 1153 SB 1095 HB 2316 SB 1310 ; Arkansas: HR 1007 SR 4; Colorado: SB 14-136; Connecticut: SB 53 Florida: PCB KTS 14-01:  See Karen Effrem’s analysis of it here; HB 25 CS/HB 195 CS/SB 188 SB 232 SB 864 ; GeorgiaB 167 SB 203 ; Illinois: HR0543 SR0638; Indiana:  SB 91This bill has passed the Senate 36-12 and will be considered by the Indiana House; Iowa HF 2140 HF 2141 SF 2123; Kansas tba; Kentucky: HB 5  HF 215;  Louisiana:  Here’s an article that discusses the work being done; Maryland: HB 76 SB 0578   SB 0579 SB 0408 Minnesota tba;  Mississippi  SB 2736; Missouri: HB 1708 HJR 74 SB 514  SB 798 SB 819 ; New Hampshire: HB 1239 HB 1508  HB 1262 HB 1586 HB 1496 HB 1587 HB 1238; New Jersey: S. 2973 A. 4403; New Mexico: SB 296: New York:  A07994  S6604  S06267;  Ohio: HB 237 HB 181 HB 193 HB 413; Oklahoma: HB 2786 HB 2849 HB 3331 HB 3166  HB 3399 SB 1146 SB 1310 Rhode Island: H 7095 South Carolina: SB 300 H. 3943 South Dakota: HB 1237:   South Dakotans Against Common Core is against this bill.  You can read why here. HB 1214 HB 1187 HB 1243 SB 63; Tennessee:  SB 2405 HB 1549 SB 1835 (Tennessee Against Common Core is not excited about this bill.) HB 1826 HB 1825 SB 1985 HB 1828 SB 1984 HB 2253 HB 1697 HB 1696 HB 1841 HB 2453 SB 2559 HB 2290 SB 2057  HB 1882 SB 1470  HB 1705 Utah tba; Wisconsin tba;  Wyoming: HB 0097

(To see a brief analysis of each bill, go to Truth in American Education.)

capitol with alyson

If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list?  We have no stop Common Core bill yet.  We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders.  So please:  please come to the State Capitol next week, on Feb. 18th at 6:30-8:00 to show your concern for this issue.  Please share this event  where we will hear from and speak with legislators, parents and organizations who are opposed to Common Core.  We need large numbers of people to show up and to show support, to get proper protections for our children here in Utah.

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     And here’s more related news:

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Senate Republicans to Obama:  No More Common Core Coercion  http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/05/senate-republicans-no-more-common-core-coercion/#!

Both Houses of New York Legislature Support Two-Year Delay in Common Core Testing
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/nyregion/a-call-to-ignore-exam-results-when-evaluating-educators.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Regents Likely to Stall Parts of Common Core Implementation
http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302100021&gcheck=1

Parents and Educators Outraged by Regents Failure to Address Deeper Flaws
http://www.nysape.org/parents-and-educators-outraged-by-regents-unwillingness-to-assume-responsibility-and-change-course.html

N.Y. PTA Survey Finds Students Stressed Out by Testing, Parents Opposed to Common Core Exams
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/new-york-common-core-stress_n_4747863.html?utm_hp_ref=education
Gov. Cuomo Appoints Common Core Proponents to Evaluate Common Core
http://www.nysape.org/new-yorkers-outraged-by-governors-flawed-common-core-panel.html

Missouri Board of Ed. Plans Major Reduction in Testing
http://www.semissourian.com/story/2047976.html

Alaska State Board of Education Supports Graduation Test Repeal
http://www.frontiersman.com/schools/state-board-supports-repeal-of-grad-exam/article_13c15946-8d5a-11e3-ac4b-001a4bcf887a.html

Virginia Senate Votes for Delay in Test-Based School Grades, Reduction in Testing Volume
http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/article_4e588c5a-8e1d-11e3-bf18-001a4bcf6878.html

Kentucky Ed. Commissioner: Kids Over-tested, Scores Misused
http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140206/NEWS0103/302060040/Holliday-kids-overtested-schools-overburdened

Connecticut Students Say Testing Fixation Kills Learning
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/community_meeting_raises_concerns_on_testing/

“Guinea Pigs” and “Lab Rats” Storm Rhode Island State House as Student Protest Exit Exam

Students Aren’t “Guinea Pigs” — How Field Testing Hurts Children
http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/news/

Oregon Test is Wrong for Children
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/oregons_kindergarten_test_is_w.html

Parent of Dying Florida Boy Has to Prove Her Son Can’t Take Standardized Tests
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275853/-Florida-mother-has-to-prove-her-dying-son-can-t-take-a-standardized-test#

Tennessee Teachers Fight Back Against Test-Fixated Evaluations
http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20140209/NEWS04/302090069/TN-teachers-push-back-evaluation-process

Exit Exams Make Diplomas, Jobs Elusive for Special Education Students
http://hechingerreport.org/content/for-special-education-students-diplomas-jobs-increasingly-elusive_14612/

Technical Problems Plaque Nebraska Online Writing Exam
http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/problems-with-statewide-writing-test-plague-lps-others/article_ff2965f0-6fc4-5568-b41f-581f5cc0e1d1.html

Chicago Opt Out Leaders Push Back Against Chief Executive Officer’s Hollow Threat
http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-public-fools/2014/02/its-almost-testing-season-in-chicago-opt-out-at-your-peril/
The 95% Participation Rate and How Schools Do Not Lose Funding
http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.html

Test Scores = Voodoo Data for Evaluating Students, Teachers and Schools
http://www.dailycall.com/news/editorials/3572277/Its-all-so-predictable

Colorado School Testers Flunk Themselves
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25071195/colorados-school-testers-flunk-themselves

Federal Court Upholds New York City Liability for Teacher Licensing Test Racial Bias
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2014/02/appeals_court_upholds_nyc_liab.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

Tennessee School Board Reconsiders Role of Student Test Scores in Teacher Licensure
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140201/NEWS/302010011/TN-state-board-reconsiders-role-learning-gains-teacher-licenses

Documentary Takes Standardized Testing Fight to Big Screen
http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/02/09/new-documentary-takes-standardized-testing-common-core-battle-to-big-screen/

NJ Professor Releases Common Core-Opposing “Assessments Landscape” Video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r9_ZpNbU6A

Common Rotten Core Testing ‘Toon
http://www.caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID=0037B5D8-9059-4A29-91D5-CC42A7B72B4E

Mexico Eliminates National Exam, Test Score Bonuses
http://newspapertree.com/articles/2014/02/05/mexico-chucks-test-bonuses-national-exams

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Save the Date: Feb 18th @ Salt Lake Capitol at 6:30 p.m.   7 comments

capitol with alyson

Last July, the last time Utahns got together at the State Capitol to discuss Common Core with legislators listening, there was standing room only. Television stations and newspaper reporters were there.   So many people wanted to stand and speak that hundreds and hundreds were turned away due to time running out.

Capitol common core meeting

This time it will be a bit different, and better.  This time, along with listening, some Utah legislators will be speaking out about the problems of the Common Core Initiative.  We hope to fill the capitol —not only to standing-room-only– but to overflowing: past the doors and into the parking lots.

capitol roof

This time –February 18th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.,  the speaker lineup includes State Senator Margaret Dayton, Representative Dana Layton, radio host Rod Arquette, Representative Brian Greene, Left-Right Alliance Spokeswoman Autumn Cook, and others that I can’t yet announce (yet to be confirmed).  Please save the date and come.  Show by your presence that you are awake and aware, that you claim authority over your own children’s learning and testing and data privacy — and that you are not going away.   Let’s give the local media something of importance to take pictures of, to write about; please, come if you can.

 

 

Capitol alisa common core meetingMom Alisa Ellis speaks with Rep. Curt Oda about Common Core (at the 2013 State Capitol event)

New York: Parents Launch Common Core Math Homework At Governor – @NYGovCuomo   19 comments

math ny 5

New York parents  are launching their children’s Common Core math homework  — AT Governor Cuomo.

Mark Ferreris, a leader in Stop Common Core in New York State, came up with the idea of sending the children’s homework to the Governor. Tired of seeing their children “suffer each night with abusive, age-inappropriate homework that destroys both their self-esteem and their freedom to truly learn,” Ferreris and other organizers planned the campaign and created a public Facebook event page at Stop Common in New York State, set for February 28, 2014: https://www.facebook.com/events/1433445366892441/

New York parents will simply send their child’s homework via email or regular mail to Governor Cuomo. They plan to title each email or tweet: “CAN YOU DO THIS? –Because Our Children Can’t.”

“Let him get a taste of the suffocating, mind-numbing curriculum that he’s helped shove down our children’s throats which will enslave their impressionable minds….. It’s simple, it’s quick and it’s for YOUR CHILDREN…. Flood him with emails daily or send weekly updates to him,” said organizers.

If you are in New York, here is the contact information for your governor:

Email:   Gov.Cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us

MAIL:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo – Office of the Governor – NYS State Capital Building – Albany, NY 12224

Tweet: @NYGovCuomo

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Wondering what the homework actually looks like? Here are a few samples.

EngageNY/Common Core Math Homework

This one is from a first grade class:

Math HW EngageNY CC Grade 1 for Inclusion Class

Governor Cuomo, can you do it?

The next one is from a kindergarten class.  (Where are the plus, minus, or equals signs? What is a “number bond”?)

math NY 2

This next one is for second graders.  It could as well be for college students; it makes no sense.

math ny 4

Here’s one for third graders that avoids simplicity and clarity, deliberately:

math ny 3

Here’s a video created by Stop Common Core in New York State: “Governor Cuomo, Can You Hear Us: 20,000?”

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.

Common Core Eerily Like Challenger Launch   2 comments

In January 1986 I was a high school student in Orlando, watching out the window as the Challenger Space Shuttle launched about fifty miles away. Christa MacAuliffe, the first teacher in space, was being launched with a seven member crew.

shuttle challenger

Then we all saw the explosion in the sky.

The plumes represented total failure and the deaths of seven people. Christa MacAuliffe perished along with every one of the seven members of the Challenger crew– a horrible, history-scarring launch. But.

What wasn’t widely known until years later was that the Challenger disaster had been avoidable.

Avoidable!

Top engineers had alterted NASA not to launch. Memos had been circulated. Calls had been made but ignored. Groupthink had taken over.

help memo challenger

NASA chose to ignore legitimate concerns –under financial and cultural pressures. That decision to ignore proved disasterous to the entire country.

Today, launch-executives of Common Core (including School Boards/PTA/NGA/CCSSO/Bill Gates’-funded thinktanks) are choosing to ignore concerns because of financial pressure. This will prove disasterous to the children and teachers now being launched into Common Core.

The morning of the Challenger’s launch, Florida temperatures were very cold.

ice and challenger launch pad

As NASA has documented:

NASA remembered that the builder of the shuttle, Morton-Thiokol, had been concerned about low temperature launches and made a call to the Utah headquarters.

“A manager came by my room and asked me if I was concerned about an 18 degree launch,” recalled Morton Thiokol engineer Bob Ebeling. “I said ‘What?’ – because we’re only qualified to 40 degrees. I said, ‘What business does anyone even have thinking about 18 degrees, we’re in no man’s land.'”

The O-rings had never been tested below freezing.

The Senior Representative for Morton Thiokol, at the Kennedy Space Center, Alan McDonald, refused to sign off that the project was ready and safe; he said temperatures were too cold to safely use the booster motors Morton Thiokol had built.

But his supervisors in Utah OVERRULED HIM and faxed a signature to NASA indicating that the company approved the launch anyway. (Doesn’t this remind you of the way the state school boards are overruling concerned, local superintendents, teachers, parents and administrators?)

It wasn’t just the temperatures on that day that were a problem. It wasn’t just the fact that they hadn’t tested the O-rings at these temperatures. Problems had been percolating all along. Months earlier, in October 1985, engineer Bob Ebeling had sent out a memo with the subject heading, “HELP!”

The purpose of Ebeling’s memo was to draw attention to dangerous structural errors in engineering. Roger Boijoly, yet another Morton Thiokol Engineer, validated Ebeling and McDonald, saying that the management’s style, the atmosphere at Morton Thiokol, dis-allowed dissent. (Doesn’t this description remind you of the atmosphere of the State Office of Education which treats dissenting voices on Common Core as “misinformed” and insubordinate?)

Boijoly testified that “Many opportunities were available to structure the work force for corrective action, but the Morton Thiokol management style would not let anything compete or interfere with the production and shipping of boosters. The result was a program which gave the appearance of being controlled while actually collapsing from within due to excessive technical and manufacturing problems as time increased.”

Why were these whistleblowers ignored? This question lingers. Many university courses use the Challenger disaster as a case study in the dangers of groupthink and the importance of listening to dissenting voices –even when listening means risking great financial and cultural pressures.

(See samples of university case studies of the Challenger ethics/groupthink disaster here and here.)

Today, the Florida Department of Education uses this image on its website, calling it “Countdown to Common Core.” It is eerie but it’s real.

Eerie logo or not, most states in the US are launching these un-vetted, un-tested, un-piloted, un-constitutionally governed Common Core standards. And whistleblowers who testify that this launch must be stopped, are being marginalized and scorned, rather than being heard.

florida countdown common core launch logo

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Here are five parallels between the launch of Common Core and the launch of the 1986 Challenger.

1. In both cases, teachers were placed in harm’s way yet they nobly and confidently took on the high-risk role.

2. In both cases, there was a lack of pilot testing and a lack of proper study of the structure of the thing that was to be launched.

See Professor Christopher Tienken’s condemnation of the launching of Common Core without pilot testing in his research paper, here. See the side-by-side studies of pre and post Common Core academic standards, commissioned by Senator William Ligon of Georgia, here. See Pioneer Institute’s white paper on the rapid, unvetted implementation of Common Core across the nation, here.

3. In both cases, leading experts risked reputation and careers to be whistleblowers, to stop the doomed launches.</strong>

See expert educators’ testimonies here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

4. In both cases, whistleblowers were marginalized and leadership forged ahead, heedlessly.

See how the U.S. Secretary of Education and his corporate allies and pseudo-governmental allies deride the increasing number of dissenting voices.

5. <strong>In both cases, there was no escape hatch provided for those who chose to be onboard.

In the case of the Challenger shuttle, evidence suggests that some if not all of the people on board were alive during part or all of the descent of the cabin after it detached from the rest of the shuttle. It took over 2 minutes for the cabin to crash into the Atlantic. Might lives have been saved if there had been an escape system?

Launch escape systems had been considered several times during shuttle development, but NASA’s conclusion was that the shuttle’s expected high reliability would PRECLUDE THE NEED for one.

In the case of the Common Core launch, again, high expectations for reliability have apparently precluded the need for an escape hatch. While states may technically drop out of the Common Core initiative at any time, it becomes about as realistic to do so as it was for Hansel and Gretel being able to find their trail of crumbs in the woods that might have led them to freedom; with each passing day, that likelihood diminishes.

States are investing hundreds of millions upon hundreds of millions nationwide to create technological infrastructures, teacher trainings, textbook repurchasings, and public advocacy programs to implement Common Core. They are not likely to pull out.

States staying in do try to make these standards feel locally owned, by changing the name from “Common Core” to “Utah Core” or “California Core,” or by adding some of the federally permitted 15% to the Common Core.

But the nationally aligned tests will never take any 15% into account. (How could they? Differing would mean states’ standards were no longer “common.” And then comparisons from state to state would not be useful to the data hungry corporations and governmental “stakeholders” who crave that student testing data)

And if states were to try to get together and actually significantly alter and improve the commonly held standards, GOOD LUCK.

The Common Core State Standards are under private copyright and there’s no amendment process offered outside of that private club which claims to be the “sole developers and owners” of the standards.

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Anybody see see an actual, functioning escape hatch for Common Core?

What happens if we decide, down the line, that we don’t like how things are going? How can we regain that control, that copyright, that states-owned amendability of state standards, and that privacy (pre-S.L.D.S?)

I don’t see proper testing or vetting in the history of these standards. Do you?

I don’t see proper discussion of whistleblowers’ concerns. Do you?

I don’t see proponents caring at all for the well-being of the children and teachers being launched without their consent on this thing. Proponents are driven by money and by indebtedness to funders and by the desire for greater power over our children and over all people.

It is time to stop the Common Core launch.

And if we can’t stop this launch– if our leaders choose to ignore all reason and ignore the voices of those who not only have elected them, but who are the first authorities over the children– then it is time to take action and pull our children off the machine.

shuttle challenger

Video: Dr. Christopher Tienken Speaks Out in New York   1 comment

Dr. Christopher Tienken spoke at a conference on Common Core held in New York this month. His hard-hitting speech, posted below, includes the powerful, shattering truth that there’s no evidence to support the claims of Common Core proponents. The emperor is wearing no clothes.

“Major policies that we impose on children and parents should have evidence to support their effectiveness.”Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

After you watch the speech, read Dr. Tienken’s scholarship, book chapter excerpts and previously released video about Common Core at his website.

Video: Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy Speak in New York   1 comment

Utah Moms Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy, the two whose 2012 presentation was my first introduction to Common Core, spoke this week at the Stop Common Core Forum in West Harrison, New York.

Here’s what they said. Please watch and share.

Who’s Protecting Children from the Unintended Damages of Common Core?   54 comments

crying child cc

Guest Post by Stacie R. Tawbush: mother, math major, and common core opponent from Leeds, Alabama

I’m about to be controversial but it’s about damn time somebody be.

For more than a year now I’ve talked about the effect that Common Core is having on my family and on my life in general – and what it’s doing to the morale of my children. CC has now been fully implemented. And just as other parents are starting to wake up – I’ve absolutely had all I can take!

We had another 3-hours-of -homework-night tonight. The kind of night I’ve told you all about. The kind of night some have called me a liar about.

Tonight, though, instead of taking a picture of the ridiculous math my child is being forced to do, I decided to take a picture of my child doing it. Call me insensitive, but I don’t care what you think. What I care about is my children. I see this on a regular basis and it’s time for others to see it, too… Because this is what Common Core really looks like.

This is Savannah. This is a 3rd grader at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night literally crying over her homework. This is a child hungry for knowledge – a child who loves to learn. This is a child with a broken spirit. I didn’t have to take several pictures to capture one that happened to include a tear, because the tears were pouring down her face. This is a very smart kid in the midst of feeling like a failure.

So: To those of you who tell me Common Core is a good thing. To those of you who claim it’s no different than what children have always done. To those who speak against it but don’t act. To those without the spine to stand up against political pressure. To those in which CC has just become another political talking point. To those who think we need the money from the federal government to sustain AL education. And to those who had a chance to stop this and didn’t…

Tonight I’m mad at YOU.

Tonight you share blame in making a child feel stupid and her [single] mother feel like a disappointment.

And guess what? This happened all over the state tonight. Not just in my house. You had a hand in that, too.

Finally: To the warriors out there who’ve been fighting this as long (or longer) as I have. To the parents who just heard about CC yesterday. To the few politicians who refuse to back into the darkness. To the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who are seeing this everyday in your own home…

This is why we’re so passionate.

This is why we fight.

Fight On.

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Postscript from Stacie Tawbush:

“It is not that the teacher is assigning massive amounts of homework. It is that the Common Core way of solving math problems is irrational. I sit up with her as long as I need to to help her understand equations. I teach her every which way to solve an equation – even algorithms! If we didn’t do this, my daughter would still be struggling to add. I blame nothing on the teachers. The blame is on the curriculum. I am a math major and cannot wrap my brain around how these teachers are being forced to teach the kids math. It takes us 3 hours to work through 5 or 6 word problems. I’m not worried about her getting the assignment completed… I’m worried about her learning.” -Stacie R. Tawbush

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Postscript from Christel Swasey:

Child psychologists agree with what Stacie Tawbush is saying. Increasingly, clinical psychologists are speaking out about Common Core’s inappropriate standards and pressure, especially on the lower grades.

Here in Utah, Joan Landes and Gary Thompson have spoken out. Dr. Thompson calls Common Core and its testing program “cognitive child abuse.”

gary thompson

Dr. Thompson has written:

“There are kids/teens (as well as adults like myself) who will never master “symbolic processing” of numbers and math concepts…..just like I will never be able to hit a 90 mile per hour fastball 385 feet over the left field wall in Dodger Stadium.

Ever.

We have high functioning, genius IQ autistic/Aspergers kids who, despite demonstrated giftedness in math, will never be able to answer this question due to their brains’ inability to process anything symbolically….let alone stuck at a desk in front of a computer screen.

Tens of thousands of Utah public school children will never be able to process math in this manner over the course of their public school education.

This is cognitive child abuse.”

joan landes

Utah Child Psychologist Joan Landes explained in an email:

“I agree that CC standards are not only developmentally inappropriate for youngsters, they focus on a very limited range of learning modalities (neo-cortical left-brain areas) thus limiting future abilities to learn much more complex subjects. The CC developers entirely missed the point of early/young childhood education when they focus on either the acquisition of facts (losing the opportunity to develop other areas of the brain to enhance future learning capabilities) or by making demands for abstract reasoning before developmentally ready (which will create a myriad of behavioral, emotional and learning problems). In addition, because the standards and assessments are so hyper-focused and high pressured for rigid cognitive (left-brain) activities, the children who have learning disabilities and/or delays will find school even more destructive to self-confidence and flexible learning.

In my opinion, a better approach to education in the primary grades would incorporate many of the tried and true activities from the first part of the 20th century to activate many disperate areas of their incredibly plastic brain (not to mention a child’s heart): Learning an instrument, Character values, Art, Sports, Games, Penmanship, Speaking, Singing, Reading and listening to narrative fiction and poetry and memorization (the kids even used to memorize poetry in foreign languages!). These activities (while not meeting a fact-acquisition or analytical benchmark) nevertheless activates critical areas of the brain which increases later connections exponentially.

Where’s the CC assessment for creativity? Or innovation? Integrity? Or emotional intelligence? It is a grave mistake to force youngsters to limit their brain activities to narrow interests, thus diminishing future originality and future ability to learn. It is a graver mistake to neglect educating the heart with character values, thus producing unfeeling, self-centered “clever devils” at graduation.”

Additionally, at a Notre Dame Conference this month, Dr. Megan Koschnick spoke out on the same topic.

Her remarkable speech at the University of Notre Dame was filmed and is posted here.

How Common Core and School Data Mining are Inseparable   8 comments

A growing number of the proponents of Common Core say they are opposed to the data mining that uses school-collected data.

How does this position even make sense?  The two programs are so married. 

1.  President Obama’s the  head cheerleader for both programs and he bundles them in his vision for education reform.  Part of the Race to the Top application was an agreement for states to adopt Common Core Standards, and part was to have a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that would match every other SLDS in the nation (using federal grants to build it.)  Points were awarded to states who did both.   Clearly, both Common Core and the SLDS data system were part of that federal reform package and both comply with the “Big Government” vision of socialistically controlled education.  (The fact that our state –Utah– received no RTTT monies and isn’t part of RTTT, is irrelevant, since Utah still chose to remain bound under Common Core and the federally funded SLDS even after not winning any grant monies.  Don’t ask me why.  That decision makes no sense at all.)

2. In public speeches, Secretary Arne Duncan calls for “robust data” –and he is the very man who altered federal FERPA regulations to make access to private data more easily accessible by a large number of agencies –without parental consent, and this is the same Arne Duncan who boasts of Obama’s “College and Career Readiness” (Common Core standards) as if he birthed them,  in public speeches.  Again, the two programs go hand in hand and come from the socialistic ideals of the Department of Education.
3. At a recent White House event entitled “DataPalooza,” eScholar CEO Shawn T. Bay gave a speech in which he stated that although aggregate data is useful, it’s most useful to look at the individual consumer or the individual student. He said, too, that Common Core is so important to the open data movement, because Common Core is “the glue that actually ties everything together.”Here is the video.  http://youtu.be/9RIgKRNzC9U?t=9m5s  See minute nine to find where the data push depends on Common Core.
4.  For those states (including SBAC-droppers like Utah) who are still in any way connected to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) there is the damning evidence found in a key document called the Cooperative Agreement with the Dept of Education.  Here you will discover that only the fiscal agent state, Washington, has any real authority over what happens in all the other states of the SBAC.  Here you will also see the illegal moves of the Department of Education very clearly.  The Department mandates synchronization of tests between the SBAC and the PARCC.  It mandates the sharing of data on an ongoing basis.  It mandates phone calls, conferences and much more sharing of testing information. This is completely illegal under GEPA law and under the 10th Amendment.  By triangulating tests and data between the SBAC, the PARCC and the Dept. of Education, they have created a nationalized system that removes local authority and the local voice.It troubles me that the proponents of Common Core continue to call opponents like me “misinformed” when the opposite is obvious from source documents.

It troubles me that I actually go out of my way to request proof that we opponents are “erroneous” and “misinformed” and the proponents don’t even respond to the emails.

Proponents of Common Core seem to me to be increasingly uninterested in the truth.  That troubles me most of all.

I am interested in the truth.  I have no other object in this fight against Common Core except wanting academically legitimate, locally amendable and locally controlled standards.

I am a teacher and a mother, not a politician or lobbyist or even a reporter.

But.
If I actually was a politician or reporter, here’s what I would take the time to study and then write.  The article would be entitled:
“Putting the Pieces Together on the Data Mining – Common Core Puzzle.”
A good starter article on the data mining of schools has been done by Caleb Warnock at the Daily Herald.  More is needed.
First, I’d call state technology directors in various states and I’d ask them the same questions about federal compliance issues surrounding data collection that I’ve asked our Jerry Winkler of Utah.
First, I’d  clarify whether the technology director is aware of the federal requests for voluntary submission of private student data (not in aggregate form).  I would mention at least three federal sources: CEDS, DQC, NDCM.  They’d likely be unaware (but maybe not).
Then I would ask the technology director what information is currently being collected by the state student surveillance system, the SLDS, (which all states have and use on the state level but which most states do not YET open up to the feds –except on an aggregate level.)  This would vary from state to state.
Then I would ask him/her what information is given to the federal EDFACTS Data Exchange.  I would also ask if he/she is aware of the law suit against the federal Dept. of Education (altering privacy regulations to loosen parental rights)
Then I would ask the big question:  Who makes the call on when these puzzle pieces will fit together in compliance with federal goals?  Who has that authority in our state?
We have fitting pieces of the horrific, 1984-esque puzzle, but when will we choose to put it  together? 
We know that the feds are asking us to voluntarily share personally identifiable data, we know that the Dept. of Ed sneakily destroyed FERPA privacy law to make data accessing easier; we know that we as states do collect it, and we know that we already share the aggregated form of student data.
What’s next? And who makes the call?

Protecting Student Data   6 comments

Thanks to Alyson Williams and Utahns Against Common Core for providing the following.

Protecting Student Data:  Becoming Informed About Personal & Behavioral Data Collection & Sharing

Goal 1:

Allow parents to opt out* of  testing and certain data tracking on behalf of their  children.

Goal 2:

Prohibit non-academic data  collection, i.e. behavior and  require disclosure of student  data types tracked in Utah’s  Federally funded State  Longitudinal Data System.

Goal 3:

Prohibit any kind of testing  that does not allow  parents to see assessment  questions upon request 

The Federal government has established the National Education Data Model to facilitate state collection and sharing of behavioral, health, psychological, and family data.  In 2012, Utah included provisions in law to permit schools to assess “student behavior indicators.”  Utah also requires that “Computer Adaptive Tests” (CATs) be used in all Utah schools.

Utah has partnered with behavioral and social science company AIR to provide CAT tests. Utah has stated its intent to upload Utah student data to an AIR database in 2013.  Utah plans to keep “SAGE” CAT questions secret from all but fifteen Utah parents.  Utah has not disclosed to the public the student data types tracked in Utah’s federally-funded State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS.)

The US Education Department undercut “parental consent” in federal student privacy laws without going through congress “It is the public  policy of this state  that parents retain  the fundamental  right and duty to  exercise primary  control over the  care, supervision,  upbringing and  education of their  children.” -Utah Code Title 53A Section 302

National Education Data Model:

Sample from over 400 data points recommended for SLDS

Born Outside of the U.S.
Birthdate
Bus Route ID
Bus Stop Arrival Time
Career Objectives
Citizenship Status
City of Birth
Class Attendance Status
Class Rank
Days Truant
Death Cause
Death Date
Developmental Delay
Dialect Name
Diploma/Credential Awarded
Discontinuing Schooling Reason

Disease, Illness, Health Conditions
Distance From Home to School
Dwelling Arrangement
Economic Disadvantage Status
Electronic Mail Address
Family Income Range
Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early
Intervention Services on the Child
Family Public Assistance Status
Federal Program Participant Status
Immunization Date
Insurance Coverage
IP Address
Nickname
Non-school Activity Description
Religious Affiliation
Social Security Number
Voting Status

 

*  A form has been created and is being circulated now, which parents will send to the school and State Superintendent.  I will post it when I receive it from Utahns Against Common Core.  The form states that the parents of this child withhold permission for the State to track the child’s personally identifiable information.  We hope to flood the State Office of Education and the Governor’s Office with these forms to protect children across this state.

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References:

1

National Education Data Model, including behavioral, health, & other personal data elements:  http://tinyurl.com/cyecjwt.
2
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), line 59: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
3
Utah HB 15 (passed in 2012), lines 9, 10, 11: http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
4
AIR behavioral testing: tinyurl.com/bp55kxd and behavioral profiling: tinyurl.com/bwfdmnr
5
Utah contracted with AIR to provide Computer Adaptive Tests: tinyurl.com/cpxuoxk
6
Utah student data to be uploaded to AIR: tinyurl.com/cujlplf
7
Utah computer adaptive test questions to be reviewed by appointed panel of 15 out of 700,000 Utah parents (line  22):http://tinyurl.com/cxln3wk
8
EPIC is challenging changes to the Federal FERPA http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html
9
“Student Data,” for the purposes of this document includes, but it not limited to, behavioral test question results,  and the data elements in the federal government’s National Education Data Model (NEDM), found  at tinyurl.com/crd944a. The NEDM includes over 400 student data elements, including those listed above.

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