Archive for the ‘Rights’ Tag

Opt Out Form And Miracles   5 comments

Utahns Against Common Core posted an opt-out form today that anyone may use to inform a school district that a child will not be participating in the Common Core testing and data collection program. Find it here.

In addition, Utahns Against Common Core posted a video clip from a new movie featuring the President of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It is called “Miracles.”

The video was posted with the opt out form because it will be a long-sought for miracle when parents take the reins of their children’s educational lives and say “no” to Common Core’s totally experimental testing and data collection program.

It will be a miracle when state boards of education and legislatures realize that “We the People” have actually woken up and stood up to their top down control efforts; that we will not allow the invasion of our children’s privacy– not by state nor by federal forces; and that we will not allow the invasion of our state’s sovereignty over education. They will hear that we will have a voice in what goes on in our children’s testing.

It will be a miracle to see parents take a stand in their rightful place as primary protectors of local control, a right that we hold under Constitution.

Why is it so important? Because testing Common Core’s standards is the key to the whole Common Core agenda. That’s where the control lies. The tests sets the pace for Common Core’s monopoly on text types to be bought, on stifling innovation in any other direction, on aligning private curricula nationally, on controlling teachers’ use of instructional time, and on tracking children and teachers.

Parents hold the key to that key. Teachers or principals can’t do it; they’ll lose their jobs.

But parents saying no to the Common Core tests can become the force that ends the unconstitutional losses of Common Core’s centralized decision-making and data-collection in D.C.’s agencies and organizations.

Remember that no matter how many times the state school board says “adopting Common Core as Utah’s own “Utah Core” standards was the board’s constitutional right under the Utah constitution” –still, the effect of that decision– robbing our state of local control of education– was wrong under the U.S. Constitution and G.E.P.A. law which have long made educational decision making a state’s right.

Remember the words of James Madison:

“If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads, other than post roads. In short, everything,from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called if Congress pleased provisions for the general welfare … I venture to declare it as my opinion, that were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundation, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America…” – James Madison

In short, Madison said: if we allow the centralization of education we subvert the very foundation of what has made us free.

While my own school has promised that there will be no academic punishment for my public school attending child who opts out of the Common Core test, I have received emails from parents in other areas of Utah where the opposite was said. These parents were told that their child would receive a non-proficient score and would be academically penalized for opting out of the test.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves whether fear of getting an undeserved failing grade outweighs our desire to preserve local control of education, a constitutional right. That is a personal decision.

I opt out.

Right Under Our Noses: EIMAC   16 comments

My heart was pounding with indignation when I read today that the CCSSO (–that’s the State Superintendents’ Club– a private group, not accountable to the public and in no way under voters’ influence– the same group that created and copyrighted Common Core–) this CCSSO has a division called EIMAC. It stands for Education Information Management Advisory Consortium.

Why was my heart pounding? 2 reasons:

1) EIMAC’s formation is even more proof that America is being led into a system of nonrepresentative governance, an un-American, nonvoting system.

2) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is a liar, a deliberate, conscious liar. (I only dare make such an awful accusation because it’s obvious to anyone who does even a small amount of fact checking on his statements.)

So let me explain. EIMAC declares, out loud, that its purpose is to network state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; EIMAC advocates to improve the overall quality of the data collected at the NATIONAL level – See the rest at: http://www.ccsso.org/What_We_Do/Education_Data_and_Information_Systems.html#sthash.UZIBs53C.dpuf

Ah, did they just say: DATA COLLECTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL?!??

Does anyone remember that earlier this summer, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a speech to the American Society of News Editors, in which he claimed that there is NO NATIONAL COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA?

Secretary Duncan’s exact words were these:

“Critics… make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”

FACT: Duncan collects student level data directly from the Common Core testing consortia, as mandated in his Cooperative Agreement with these testing groups.

FACT: Duncan collects K-12 state school data directly at the federal EdFacts Exchange.

FACT: Duncan collects personally identifiable information indirectly via the 50 federally paid-for, fully interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS) that could be called a separated, but interlocking, national database in matchable segments.

FACT: Duncan has direct access to personally identifiable information indirectly via the National Data Collection Model, Data Quality Campaign, and Common Educational Data Statistics.

FACT: Most angering of all, Duncan circumvented Congress to destroy the power of the longstanding federal privacy law called FERPA. His damages there mean that parents have no guarantee, no legal stand, no rule saying that they MUST be asked for consent, before their child’s personally identifiable information will be accessed by governmental and corporate “stakeholders” who have been redefined as “authorized representatives.”

The longitudinal databases don’t just track students; they track people throughout their careers. This is lifelong citizen tracking, without our vote, without our consent, and without most people’s knowledge.

Secretary Duncan has made the unconscienable, legal.

He’s done what he’s done with the blessing of President Obama, whose four pillars of education reform are stated to alter these four things: COMMON STANDARDS, GREATER CONTROL OF TEACHERS, and ALTERING OR CLOSING OF SCHOOLS, and DATA COLLECTION.

Right Under Our Noses.

Cato Institute on Indiana’s “Time Out” Law Against Common Core   Leave a comment

Neal McClusky of Cato Institute has written an Op-Ed for the IndyStar. Read the whole thing here:

Highlights:

“Indiana has just shot into the spotlight of the education world, with the legislature voting over the weekend to hit the pause button on the Common Core national curriculum standards. But this action is just the loudest strike in a growing backlash against the Core, a revolt set off by the arrival of the federally backed standards in schools across the country. And people are right to be wary, especially since Core supporters have too often ridiculed dissenters instead of engaging in honest debate.
While 45 states have adopted the Common Core, don’t mistake that for enthusiastic, nationwide support. States were essentially coerced into adopting by the President’s Race to the Top program, which tied federal dough to signing on. Even if policymakers in recession-hobbled states would have preferred open debate, there was no time. Blink, and the money would be gone. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t opposition — there certainly was among policy wonks — but most people hadn’t heard of the standards at adoption time, and their effects wouldn’t be felt for several years.

…Indiana is arguably the highest-profile rebel, with its new legislation set to halt implementation of the core so Hoosiers can, at the very least, learn about what they’re getting into. Nationally, the Republican National Committee has officially condemned the standards, while several states are in the process of potentially withdrawing from the core. Finally, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has requested that a Senate subcommittee handling education end federal meddling in standards and assessment.

…Rather than address worries and evidence that the Common Core is empirically ungrounded, moves the country closer to a federal education monopoly and treats unique children like identical cogs, supporters have often smeared opponents and dodged constructive debate.

… Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, complained that the move “will bestow a degree of legitimacy upon the anti-standards coalition.” –As if the people who have been decrying the absence of research support for national standards, potential flaws in its content, or other logic and evidence-based concerns have all somehow been illegitimate.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — a leading Common Core spokesperson — elected to dismiss the RNC as ignorant for resisting the Core. “I don’t really care if the RNC, based on no information, is going to oppose this because of some emotional pitch,” he said. This despite the RNC resolution offering several valid reasons for opposing the Core, including the indisputable fact of federal coercion.

To be sure, there are some specious arguments being made against the Common Core, such as the claim that it requires schools to ditch Emerson in favor of reading EPA regulations. Such assertions should be refuted by people on both sides. But those are hardly the only concerns of Core opponents, and many standards supporters are guilty of no lesser deception when they insist, for instance, that the Common Core is “state-led” and “voluntary.”

…As Common Core continues to be implemented, the chorus of opposition is likely to grow, and it is critical that supporters and opponents alike keep sight of their truly common goal: improving American education. Dodging honest discussion is no way to get there.

McCluskey is associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and author of the report http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/behind-curtain-assessing-case-national-curriculum-standards.

DATA COLLECTION UPDATE   1 comment

WHAT WE KNOW:

1. ALL UTAHNS ARE TRACKED VIA SCHOOLS USING A FEDERALLY PROMOTED AND PAID-FOR SLDS.

I have an email from the State School Board that says there is no possibility for my student to opt out of being tracked. When a parent signs his/her child up for school, the information is gathered and added to, throughout the life of that child because of the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS). The SLDS was paid for by the federal government and all states accepted the money and built this interoperable system. It works with the P-20 (preschool through workforce) council, which is appointed by the Governor.  http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=UT

2. THE TRACKING OF CITIZENS GOES BEYOND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT AND STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION.

The Utah Data Alliance, directed by John Brandt, links six state agencies to share the data collected by schools. These include workforce services; the system is a socialist program to align education and workforce and manage the people as “human capital,” one of their favorite phrases. According to a John Brandt online powerpoint, federal agencies also receive access to the data in the Utah Data system. According to the Joanne Weiss, chief of staff of the Dept. of Education, federal agencies are mashing data and are going to be “helpful” to states “wishing” to do the same.

3. INTEROPERABILITY WAS REQUIRED OF ALL SLDS SYSTEMS FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=WA

4. REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL CONCERNING PRIVACY LAW.

The Dept. of Education changed definitions and broadened allowances of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act. Though they have been sued for this move, the fact remains that without parental consent, researchers, federal agencies and any “authorized” volunteer can look at the collected data, which includes biometric information (personally identifiable).

5. DATA POINTS TO BE COLLECTED BY STATES HAVE BEEN “RECOMMENDED” BY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number, and bus stoptimes among other pieces of information on the student and their families. You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

6. DEPT. OF EDUCATION COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS CONTRACTED WITH TESTING CONSORTIA MANDATE INFORMATION SHARING

This means that there is a triangulation of tests, test data and federal supervision (all highly illegal under G.E.P.A. law and the 10th Amendment).  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:

1. John Brandt has not revealed the exact number of people or agencies in Utah (or elsewhere) who have access to the personally identifiable information collected by schools on individuals. He does not return emails or phone calls.

2. At what point does “allowance” to share information turn into “must” share information? The FERPA alterations right now only removed the requirement for schools to keep the data on students private without parental consent. They have not yet mandated that schools must share the data without parental consent. But we also don’t know which identified information is being shared with which agency in Utah, or which agency outside Utah. We just don’t know.

3. What effect will the Common Core (national) testing have on the data collection and ease of persual by the federal agencies? Is there a “Cooperative Agreement” between Utah’s test writer, the American Institutes for Research, and the federal government, as there is with the other testing consortia SBAC and PARCC?

Yong Zhao: On Educational Freedom   3 comments

Yong Zhao

It’s always fun to watch smart people debate an important topic, but it’s especially satisfying when the person whose side you are on wins the day.  That is Yong Zhao, who seems to me not only smart but also wise.

Many are following the Marc Tucker/ Yong Zhao interchange about Common Core with great interest.  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker is an old pal and co-conspirator with Hillary Clinton, and their written “Let’s Take Over American Education” exchange has long been archived in the Congressional Record, partially because of its conspiratorial nature.  I’ve posted about it before: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/anti-liberty-plot-for-american-education-full-text-of-the-letter-from-marc-tucker-to-hillary-clinton-2/

So, Tucker is no friend to educational freedom;  Zhao is.

Here is almost the whole of the latest brilliant response to Tucker by Yong Zhao.  Full text here: http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker

17 January 2013

…It is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault).

I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries.

Now response to Tucker’s arguments point by point.

Tucker: It is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.

Zhao: First, it is not true that “it is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.” Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer thought it was so important to decide what children should learn that he wrote the essay What Knowledge is of Most Worth and came up with the answer “science” and his criteria was the utilitarian value of knowledge. He did not think Latin, Greek, and the classics were of much value for a person to live in a society being transformed by industrialization and history , to Spencer was “mere tissue of names and dates and dead unmeaning events…it has not the remotest bearings on any our actions.”

In 1892, the National Education Association (NEA) thought it was so important that it appointed the Committee of Ten, chaired by Harvard president Charles Elliot, to figure out what schools should teach.

In early 1900s, The NEA had another commission to rethink the curriculum and came up with The Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education

Activities intended to determine what all students should know and be able to do never actually stopped. In recent years, the 1994 Goals 2000 Act under President Clinton provided funds to develop standards that “identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.” Under NCLB, states were mandated to develop both content and academic achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.

There has never been a lack of attempts to figure out what all young people should know and be able to do, consequently there is no shortage of standards around. The fact that there have been so many attempts suggests the difficulty of the task. People simply cannot seem to agree what all children should know and learn in general. People cannot even agree what to teach in math, the supposedly the most straightforward, and have fought many math wars over the last century. It is actually a good thing, in my mind, that people cannot come to agreement and the American federal government was not given the authority to impose its own version upon all children. But despite the lack of a consistently implemented nationalized curriculum and standards, America did just fine as a nation.

The Common Core initiative seems to suggest that either there are no standards in America or the existing standards are not good enough. But what evidence is there to show the Common Core is better than previous ones, including those from all 50 states? Granted that things change and what students learn should reflect the changes, but how frequently should that happen? The state standards developed under NCLB are merely a decade old. If we have to make massive changes every five or 10 years, does not it mean it is nearly impossible to come up with content that is valid long enough for the nation’s over 100,000 schools to implement before it becomes outdated? If so, would it be much more likely that individual schools and teachers have a better chance to make the adjustment faster than large bureaucracies?

An anecdote: For hundreds of years it was possible for the adults in my little village in China to figure out what all children should know and be able to do: handling the water buffalo was one for the boys and sewing for the girls. My village was small and isolated, with around 200 people. But that predication became invalid when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s. The common standards in my village proved to be wrong later in at least two cases. First it did not work for me. I was pretty bad at what my village’s Common Core prescribed (handling the water buffalo) so I had to do something else (coming to America to debate with Marc Tucker, for example). Second, it did not work for the rest of the children in the village either, because working as a migrant worker in the city is different from handling a water buffalo.

Tucker: Truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it. They typically know a lot about unrelated things and their creativity comes from putting those unrelated things together in unusual ways. Learning almost anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, because, without that scaffolding, we are not able to put new information and skills to work.

Zhao: Very true, truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it, but do they know a lot about what they are passionate about, or what the government wants them to know? Do they work hard at learning something that is personally meaningful, or do they work hard at learning something prescribed by others?

Also true that learning anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, but what disciplines: math, science, the arts, music, languages, or politics? I am embarrassed to admit as a Chinese, I had horrible math scores in school, which is why I chose to study English, but somehow I am good at computer programming and developed large-scale software. I am also good at understanding statistics and empirical evidence.

Tucker: Zhao says that we will not be competitive simply by producing a nation of good test takers. That is, of course, true. Leading Asian educators are very much afraid that they have succeeded in producing good test takers who are not going to be very good at inventing the future. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility for figuring out what all students will need to know to be competitive in a highly competitive global labor market, nor does it absolve us of the responsibility to figure out how to assess the skills we think are most important.

Zhao: Is it responsibility or arrogance? Almost all totalitarian governments and dictators claim that they have the responsibility to engineer a society so their people can live happily and that their people are not capable of knowing what is good for them and top-level design is necessary. For example, they claim that their people cannot defend themselves against bad information, thus the leaders have to impose censorship. The leaders should decide what their people should view, listen to, and read. This self-assigned responsibility comes from the assumption that the authority knows best. By the way, we adults (parents and teachers) often committee the same error of arrogance: we automatically assume we know better than our children.

Tucker: It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.

Zhao: Almost true but strong quantitative skills are not the same as the skills to mark the right choice on a multiple choice exam, constructing a sound argument is different from repeating the “correct way” of arguing, and writing well certainly does not mean scoring high against a writing rubric. More importantly, as far as I can tell, the Common Core does not include what Tucker wants: history, geography, or economics. Where do the children learn these and other “unrelated things” when they are pushed aside by the Common Core?

Tucker: Zhao grew up in a country in which the aim was not learning but success on the test. There was wide agreement that the tests were deeply flawed, emphasizing what Mao called “stuffing the duck”— shoving facts and procedures into students—in lieu of analysis, synthesis and creativity. But few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.

Zhao: Very good observation but I cannot help but pointing out that Tucker just published a book entitled Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. If it is such a bad system, why does Tucker consider it one of the world’s leading systems and want to build American education on it? If it is so bad, what is it in Shanghai, a city of China, he wants America to surpass?
And by the way, it is not true that “few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.” Many, perhaps, most people in China, want the system changed. The Ministry of Education and provincial governments have been making changes over the past few decades (for details read my books Catching Up or Leading the Way and World Class Learners)

Tucker: So Zhao is very much aware of the consequences of a rigid system set to outdated standards. But that is not the problem in the United States. We don’t suffer from ancient standards wildly out of tune with the times, enforced by tests that are no better. We suffer from lack of agreement on any standards that could define what all students must know and be able to do before they go their separate ways. We suffer in a great many schools from implicit standards that translate into abysmally low expectations for far too many students.

Zhao: I am very appreciative of Tucker’s understanding of my background but I am not convinced that the U.S. is immune to the same problems China has suffered from testing. Is it not the goal of the Common Core to instill a rigid system? Isn’t the Common Core to be enforced by tests? If not, why do we have the Common Assessment? Why are we connecting teacher evaluation to test scores? Moreover, haven’t we seen plenty of cases of cheating on standardized testing in our schools under NCLB? Isn’t there enough evidence of states manipulating data and cut scores? For more evidence, read Collateral Damage: How High-stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner.

Another by the way: When I described the teacher evaluation efforts mandated by the Race to the Top to a group of science teachers from Beijing to study American science education this week, they were appalled and commented: Isn’t that a violation of human dignity?

Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs. There is no substitute for spelling out what we think students everywhere should know and be able to do. Spelling it out is no guarantee that it will happen, but failing to spell it out is a guarantee that we will not get a nation of young people capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”

Tucker: Zhao apparently believes that standards mean standardization and standardization would inevitably lead to an inability to produce creative solutions to the problems the workforce will face in the years ahead. That could certainly happen. But it need not happen.

Zhao: Yes, it does not need to, but it does happen, has happened, and is unavoidable. When standards are enforced with high stakes testing, when teachers and principals are evaluated based on students’ test scores, when students’ fate are decided by test scores, the teaching and learning must become standardized and constrained. One does not have to go to China to see this. Just take a look at what happened under NCLB. It did not ask schools to narrow the curriculum, to reduce time for music and the arts, for social studies and science, or for lunch and recess, but it all happened. For the impact of NCLB on instructional time and curriculum, check out these reports (1 and 2)from the Center on Education Policy.

Tucker: It is simply not true that our inability to predict the jobs people will have to do in the future and the demand of creative, entrepreneurial young people relieves us of the obligation to figure out what skills and knowledge all young people need to have before they go their separate ways, or the obligation to translate that list of skills and knowledge into standards and assessments that can drive instruction in our schools.

Zhao: It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: “Common Core Standards are idiots’ solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond.”

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