Archive for the ‘science standards’ Tag

Ten Reasons to Flee NGSS Common Core Science Standards   7 comments

My hair catches on fire when I hear about more standards being shoved at the states by corporate-federal partners, because I believe that constitutional, local conscience, not federal or corporate intentions, should determine what a child’s standards should be.

To me, it’s a matter of huge consequence:  whether to give away my power of finding and defining truth for a child, to then be determined by a corporate-federal partnership’s board meeting, or whether to retain that power.

But this post is written for people unlike me, those who ask, “what’s wrong with common NGSS science standards; isn’t this just a modern science update?”

I want the public to realize that the NGSS standards are not the standards to which anyone should aspire, not even for those who believe that standardizing education nationally and globally is a good idea.

Here are ten reasons to flee from the Next Generation Science Standards.

 

  1.  NGSS  DODGES  MATH 

NGSS standards were rated a “C” by Fordham Institute.  Fordham suggested states that are seeking science updates should check out Massachusetts’, South Carolina’s, and Washington D.C.’s superior science standards:

“NGSS aren’t the only alternative and, in the judgment of our reviewers, they aren’t nearly as strong as the best that some states developed on their own. A state with shoddy science standards should also consider replacing them with those of another state that’s done this well.”

What was Fordham’s “C” rating of NGSS based upon?  Its review included these reasons:

  • “… Our expert team was disappointed by what they found, and didn’t find, by way of math, especially in relation to physics and chemistry…

  •           “… Far too much essential science content was either missing entirely or merely  implied.”
  • … There is virtually no mathematics, even at the high school level, where it is essential to the learning of physics and chemistry.  Rather, the standards seem to assiduously dodge the mathematical demands inherent in the subjects covered.”

    And then, this surprise:

  • “… Where NGSS expectations require math in order to fully understand the science content, that math goes well beyond what students would have learned in classrooms aligned to the Common Core.

 

2.  NGSS IS COMMON CORE FOR SCIENCE — FROM THE SAME FUNDERS AND DEVELOPERS

The Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core were each birthed and funded by Achieve, Inc., with the Gates Foundation.  It’s no secret: NGSS boasts of being aligned with Common Core.  See Appendix A #7: “The NGSS and Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts and Mathematics) are aligned.”

Achieve, which directed the Common Core of English and math, is the developer and partner of NGSS science standards “on behalf of the lead states and other partners”.  NGSS explains:  “Achieve is leading the effort…  Achieve coordinated the second phase of the NGSS development process”.

 

 

3.  NGSS SCRAMBLES “INTEGRATES” SCIENCE  

A Common Core-shared attribute of NGSS science is the integrating of science subjects.

This means dissolving distinct classes in biology, chemistry, physics, etc., as we know them today, to be replaced by conceptually-based (not math based) integrated science.  At every grade level, children will be taught a watery version of these integrated subjects.  This dilutes the expertise of teachers, too, who must change from teaching the richness of biology or chemistry or physics, to teaching a simplified, mostly mathless, conceptual mix of all the science subjects integrated at all grade levels.

 

4. NGSS THREATENS INQUIRY FOR STUDENTS

NGSS standards for sixth graders include this: “design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment”.

The assumption that minimizing human impact on the environment is always the right thing to do is unscientific.  Think of all the remarkable human decisions that have blessed the earth’s environment.  The assumption that humans should be monitored is, likewise, politically and academically narrow-minded.

How can students learn the scientific method, creating hypotheses and then proving or disproving theories with evidence, reason and intellectual debate– when NGSS holds assumptions and many scientific theories as already settled science?  NGSS sets into concrete certain things that the scientific community has not settled.  Is global warming a theory or a fact?  Is Darwinian evolution one of many theories, or is it a fact?  Is the idea that humans are to be blamed for the globe’s problems  a settled science, or a fact?  Is the theory of intelligent design (God) a scientifically mentionable, debatable question, or a settled fact?

Even though I side with intelligent design (a literal, actual God) I would not force this belief or its opposite into the science curriculum as the only allowable conversation.  Scientific, political and religious freedoms demand open minded discussion and debate.

But NGSS frowns upon this.

Some who believe that NGSS is just “updating” school science say that any opposition to NGSS comes from closed-minded creation believers who want to push their religions into schools.  But both Darwinian evolutionists and in Bible-based creationists should hope for freedom of thought and of scientific inquiry and debate.  Otherwise, there’s no freedom nor true science at all– just dogma.

 

5. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NGSS ACTUALLY OPPOSES OBJECTIVITY 

In Kansas, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) sued the state for adopting NGSS because of a lack of objectivity. The lawsuite wasn’t based on the idea that NGSS dismisses intelligent design (creation) –although it does– but instead, based on the idea that the NGSS promotes a religion of its own that crushes objective thought about the design and/ or evolution of the earth.  So, NGSS stands accused by COPE of being its own religion (evangelizing the sustainability movement at the expense of scientific discussion)– while NGSS accuses opponents of the same thing.

Science standards should not be about Darwin vs. God.  They should promote open inquiry for truth.  As board member Wendy Hart of Alpine School District in Utah wrote:

I know many believe the opposition to NGSS is purely religious.  For me, it is purely scientific.  Our ACT science scores are better than the NGSS states… The math associated with physics and chemistry is currently taught and applied…. I don’t think science standards should compel or repel belief one way or another.  It is not our role as public educational entities to dictate belief systems for the students in our purview.  True scientific inquiry does no such thing.”    More here:    http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/05/state-standards-burden-of-proof-rests.html.

6.  NGSS PUTS A CEILING ON SCIENCE:  “ASSESSMENT BOUNDARIES”

Fordham Institute noted that “… Inclusion of assessment boundaries… place an unintended but undesirable ceiling on the curriculum that students would learn at each grade level.”  Why would science standards control or limit assessment boundaries?  I can only guess that the standardization of tests is more important to NGSS than the power of a student to learn science.

7. NGSS OFFERS NO LEGITIMATE UPDATES

The dull, gray flavor and language and goals of the promotion of NGSS is the same as for common core.  For example, “The NGSS are designed to prepare students for college, career and citizenship” and “Science concepts in NGSS build coherently from K-12“.

I think: if NGSS came up with the idea of preparing kids for college, what were classic science standards doing, then?  How did our standards manage to churn out Nobel Laureate scientists and amazing U.S. astronauts, doctors and engineers?  Were previous science standards an incoherent mess of scrambled eggs? Are we helpless without top-down education dictators?  The truth is that this is not an update to science, but a skewing of it, to become a political tool to influence young people.

 

8.   NGSS  DELETES LEARNING  

Fordham noted, as others have, that “Far too much essential science content was either missing entirely or merely implied”.  NGSS literally deletes some scientific subjects, and grossly minimizes others.  This is probably the most egregious, and most grimly ironic, of NGSS’s academic crimes.

What does that deletion of science look like, close up? 

A sixth grade science teacher from Morgan County, Utah, Dana Wilde, wrote:

My biggest concern with the NGSS is that key science concepts are missing… Why is matter and energy repeated throughout 6th-8th grade as almost an overkill of that subject, whereas other key science concepts are completely removed from the new standards? This is very concerning to me as a 6th grade science teacher… Virtually all the science concepts we have been teaching in 6th grade are not part of the new standards, with the exception of heat energy. The new standards are very environmentally heavy and move [away] from talking about microbes, heat, light, sound energy, space and astronomy to mostly global warming and human impact on the environment…  The new proposed standards are not exciting topics for 11 and 12-year-olds, nor are students mature enough at this age to sift through all the information and misinformation that is out there about global warming (one of the performance tasks required in the new drafts). It’s not that I don’t think students should learn about these topics, it’s that I don’t believe it should be in the 6th grade curriculum… I believe the Next Generation Science Standards were not written by anyone who has spent the last 20 years in a room full of 6th graders.”

Another 5th and 6th grade science teacher from Southern Utah, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote this letter to Utah’s superintendent:

“I am doing this anonymously because of the tensions… I don’t have faith that those of us that have a different opinion will be allowed to voice our opinions without repercussions…. I love helping young people discover their potential, but these standards are stifling my ability to do just that. I will never sabotage my students’ learning for a political agenda…”

The teacher’s letter listed three examples of political sabotage in the new science standards:

“6.2.4 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century, 6.4.1: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment,  and 6.4.3: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.  These are very odd requirements to put in a 6th grade science standards. These belong in a college level environmental debate class, not in a 6th grade classroom.  I have seen the other NGSS standards for the lower grades, and they do not allow a teacher to delve deep into each concept. They require a very shallow teaching of the standards. I understand that the theory behind this is that each year will build on the previous year. That is not how younger minds work. Students need an understanding that they can take with them.”

A science and math teacher who has been compelled to teach Common Core math and NGSS science standards at Mar Vista Heights High School, at Imperial Beach, California, wrote:

“At the high school level, NGSS standards require integrated science, just like common core requires integrated math. My school tried integrated math in the 1990’s and abandoned it as a bad idea. Now, I am teaching integrated math III.

“However, science is different than math. Most math teachers have enough background in algebra, geometry and statistics to teach any level of integrated math. It is the rare science teacher who has expertise in all science domains: earth science, biology, chemistry and physics.

“NGSS writers posited that chemistry and physics principles like Newton’s laws, the gas laws, and atomic structure would be so thoroughly apprehended by 8th grade, that it would not be necessary to teach them in high school. In high school, student are to create reports and videos that explain the energy transformations behind global warming and how Darwin’s laws of evolution correctly explain the development of life.There are almost no high school chemistry or physics standards in NGSS.

“I personally believe that the existence of global warming caused by human activity (burning fossil fuels) is settled science. I also think Darwin was a gifted scientific observer, whose theory of evolution is well-founded. On the other hand, why overweight the standards with these two controversial topics? I am not saying ignore them, but they are central to these new science standards and they do not need to be.

NGSS was never pilot tested and was rushed into existence before people had a chance to vet it. Therefore, NGSS is full of errors and horribly misaligned.NGSS is another of those dreams held by a rich powerful man that has been ramrodded into existence. Luis Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, started campaigning for these standards in 1995. In 1996, he talked the National Governors Association into making him chairman of a new non-profit named Achieve Incorporated. Achieve was charged with making his standards dream a reality…  Like Gates’s Common Core, Gerstner’s NGSS is terrible education policy that came about because America’s democratic process and the principal of local control of education were sundered.”

Julie King, A PTA mom who serves on the Community Council in Utah’s Alpine School District, wrote:

“…There are holes in the NGSS.  There is a lack of computer science as well as chemistry, and the lack of any human anatomy is what raises a red flag for me.  Why would we completely eliminate human anatomy?

“… There is obvious bias in the standards…. Part of true science is being willing to question things and doubt.  We need to look at what our focus is.  When there are over 50 mentions of climate change and only one reference to electric circuits, we are overemphasizing one idea and excluding others.  Am I ok with my kids learning about climate change?  Absolutely!  But I am not OK with my kindergartener being asked to solve global warming.  The following is a kindergarten standard: Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.

“…Do you know what kindergarten science should be?  The five senses, weather, and the life cycle of a butterfly and ladybug.  Maybe planting seeds and learning about how plants grow… With less than 3 hours a day, kindergarten should largely be about reading and learning to follow rules… not about rationing paper so that less trees are cut down.”

9. DISHONESTY:  ALSO, WHAT NGSS SHOULD REALLY ADMIT

Visit NGSS’s hogwashy, vague and frankly boring website.  Even just for a minute.  Doesn’t it sound scienc-y and savvy?  How can a math-slaying, science-erasing set of science standards look so slick?

Now visit a state office of education’s website for evidence that NGSS is being used.  It’s hard to find.  States know that the public is against common standards as a movement.  In my state, the officials pretend we’ve no intentions of using NGSS.  But it’s not really so.

In fact, for some grade levels, Utah’s been secretively using NGSS for years.

Here is what I wish NGSS and Utah’s State Superintendent would flat-out admit –and publish:

The NGSS are designed to standardize U.S. students’ science learning and testing, for the convenience of unelected bureaucrats and for the financial gain of NGSS partners, also meeting the social and political goals of NGSS funders and UNESCO. 

NGSS will curtail scientific debate in schools and will dismiss academic freedom of teachers, to promote the controversial, U.N.-based initiative of sustainable development, which seeks to bring about forced, global redistribution of resources by stirring up earned and unearned guilt in human beings. 

NGSS is promoted under the banner of  “updating science” but NGSS will mimimize the teaching of science subjects:  electricity, astronomy, anatomy, chemistry, math, etc., in favor of finding enough room to focus on sustainable development programming. 

To silence its critics, NGSS will call critics unfashionable, or religious, or stupid.

If you haven’t already, please watch the video that documents the promises Utah’s superintendents made to citizens that we’d never adopt common science standards.

10.  NGSS REMOVES LOCAL CONTROL

Like the math and English Common Core standards, the NGSS science standards are  locked up by the people who made them and are double bolted by the tests and curriculum to which they are aligned.  A local, nobel prize-winning scientist or a state superintendent or a dad will have absolutely no say in what students will learn as truth when we’re all shackled to NGSS.

NGSS-based tests may label your child or your school as incompetent if he or she has freedom of thought that goes beyond NGSS “scientific” assumptions and standards.

For certain, NGSS is no friend of local control.

Maybe because of the standardization of education data standards, maybe because of the standardization of federal, unconstitutional mandates and the conditional money they come with, maybe because of the standardization of federally approved school testing, now maybe our state office of education believes that saying “no” to common science standards is too much like swimming upstream.

Maybe we don’t believe we have power anymore.  Maybe we believe other people are better off deciding for us what’s best for us. But if so, we are wrong.

The U.S. Constitution is still the supreme law of this land.  That means people, not bureaucrats, are to  have the power over their own lives –and it means that education is to be a local, not a federal, authority.

Stand up and make your voice heard.

Just because the corporate greed and political goals of Microsoft and Pearson and the United Nations match the standardization movements of the NGSS (and of CCSS and CSE and common library standards and common art standards) it does not mean that we don’t  have the power to say no to these partnerships whose gaze is on our tax dollars.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know of the extreme dishonesty that’s been going on at the state office of education concerning science standards.  Why the state office chooses to hide its headlong dive into using the common NGSS science standards is a mystery.  Why the teachers and parents don’t rise up in absolute rebellion against NGSS is another.

We can say no.  If we don’t, we might be as unthinking as NGSS wants us to believe that all its opposers are.

Please Audit Utah State Office of Education’s Public Comment Survey   4 comments

After everything scientist and patriot Vince Newmeyer has written, after everything that people in other states have said and done (and sued about) concerning the INSANE  error of adopting national, common science standards; after all the parental uproar here in Utah, still, the USOE is still moving ahead with its bullheaded determination to strip Utah of any local control and align everything we do to federal standards. I am convinced that this is simply because of USOE’s passionate devotion to money –not to children, teachers or education– but to continued federal grant eligibilty.  There is no other logical explanation.
Today is the last day that you can make public comment on Utah’s move to “Utah Science Standards” –standards which are, in fact, national common standards also known as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.  See the official NGSS link here.
NGSS standards are beloved of the Obama administration (Obama launched a global warming education initiative recently).   NGSS are politicized and controversial, which Utah’s previous standards were not.  NGSS have been called the anti-science science standards because they minimize the scientific habit of actually questioning settled science, while maximizing “climate change” evangelism as presented by the left wing.
If Utah teachers and parents really wanted common NGSS standards, I would have to put a sock in my mouth and go away.  But the Utah Office of Education (USOE) has underhandedly presented these standards, refusing to admit that they are NGSS (by changing one word here or there) and by calling them “Utah Science Standards”.
The public comment site is RIDICULOUS.  I encourage you to go there tonight and spout off, but beware; they’ve made it hard.  They have almost made it impossible.
Click to make public comment here.  (Deadline today)
Hence my letter today, sent to the auditing department, asking them to sock it to USOE for their dishonesty and sellout of our schools and kids and real science.   Here’s the board’s email address if you feel so inclined to take a stand next to me on this issue.    board@schools.utah.gov    
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Dear Audit Department of USOE and State Board,
I am writing to ask you to audit the USOE’s public comment survey about the new NGSS/Utah Science standards.
These “standards” are being called “Utah Science Standards” but they are in reality the same as the NGSS, common national science standards.  This fact has been concealed by USOE in its presentations to the public, unfortunately, but it is true.
Today is the last day that the public is invited to comment.
I am certain that very, very few people have commented.    It severely restricts and frames comments.  The micromanaging nature of the survey, which is a narrow, opinion-managing effort, does not allow for true public comment on the entire scope, process, nature and academic quality of the proposed standards.
It limits commenters to specific strands of specific grades and even limits the space for commenting itself!  What if I was a science teacher who wanted to explain in scientific, pedagogic detail, why it’s so wrong to take out most of what we used to teach kids about electricity, for example?  That has happened.  But there’s no space for it on the survey.
But there is more.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDS tags.)
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere does the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.
I could go on.
It feels as if this survey was deliberately written to constrain the public to NOT say what they may want to say; as if the survey-data-tally officers wanted to be able to throw out any comments that did brought up the controversies that the creators didn’t want to discuss.
This is certainly an auditing issue.
Millions of dollars will be spent by USOE and the school system to replace Utah’s previous science curricula.  Millions will go to “trainings” for teachers to alter our traditional, time-tested science pedagogy to make it match the new, NGSS, national-federal standards.
Money will be spent (wasted) not just in an excited, misguided grab for the latest and the best, but in a sickeningly politicized, even anti-God, materialism-belief-based, green-evangelized “science” that the USOE pretends is not NGSS.
The dishonest presentation of the 6th to 8th grade science standards to the public as if they were not NGSS is an issue for an audit.  Does honesty matter, or not?
The money that will be spent bases in part on this very survey, will be taken from taxpayers to put Utah on the federally aligned (unconstitutional) curriculum for politicized science, which is an issue for an audit.
For almost four years, many of us (including teachers, like me) have been carefully, sadly following the  activities of the USOE as it has, time and time again, sold out what’s best for Utah’s children, teachers, and future autonomy, for money.  For grant upon grant upon federal grant.
It is sickening.  NGSS alignment is more of the same.
Please audit this public comment survey and let’s insist that USOE be honest.  Have a public comment survey that actually invites full commentary on all aspects of this transformation of our schools.
Audit this survey, and strike it.  Have an honest look at NGSS and ask the public about  moving to national standards for science.
Ask the public to evaluate NGSS, and call it what it really is.  Audit whether it is even legitimate science.  It redefines the concept by dropping the classic scientific model of questioning, basing itself and its unquestionable “facts” on controversial issues with heavy political underpinnings, not on real, actual, open-minded science.
Christel Swasey

Threatening Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth: Last Chance Public Meeting with USOE on Nationalized Science Standards   2 comments

 

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How Do the Common Core Science Standards Threaten Academic Freedom and Scientific Truth?

(This information is provided by Vince Newmeyer, a scientist and member of Utah’s science standards review committee.)

Please Attend:  Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Issues of controversy range from:

  • Politicized presentation of Global Warming and Environmentalism
  • Darwinian Dogma

o    The lack of an objective view of data

o    The indoctrination of a materialistic mantra, which excludes any data or logic that indicates that there is anything more than simply Matter and Energy as an explanation of human origins.

o    This enthroned materialistic view has a devastating affect on the morals of society as a whole.

  • Instances of bad science
  • Missing and “implicit” content
  • Artificial limits on learning
  • The failure to include essential math critical to science learning
  • Lack of depth in critical topics
  • Missing science foundations
  • The watering down of science with social issues
  • The failure to evaluate the whole of the NGSS and only looking at grades 6-8
  • The presentation to the public of only selected material, and not the full body of material that will be presented to our teachers
  • Submitting to a National Standard can bring Federal consequences if we should add to or deviate from those set standards in the future

 

I feel we would be selecting a substandard and politicized science program unfit for what the parents of Utah would really want for their public school students.

Students of Utah Families should be free to hear the full breadth of scientific evidence. Science teachers should not be shackled to sterilized arguments and filtered scientific facts, as we find in the NGSS standards, simply because other data points to what has become politically unpopular conclusions.  I firmly believe that we should not accept the substandard NGSS being proposed for our Utah students. We can do better!  – Vince Newmeyer

 

The Utah State Office of Education promised to never adopt national science standards, but that is exactly what they are doing. Watch this short video.  Ask yourself why the state was so determined not to adopt a nationalized set of science standards then, but are doing it now.  What changed?  Please share it with your legislators and state board member.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/
Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 19th

5:00 – 6:30 PM The PRE-MEETING – organized by parents

Day-Riverside Branch
Salt Lake City Public Library
1575 West 1000 North
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
7:00 PM- USOE meeting – official USOE meeting

Salt Lake Center for Science Education Media Center

1400 Goodwin Ave.

Salt Lake City Utah, UT 84116

Please Attend these Salt Lake Meetings Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

 

 

See also:

  • Updates at ScienceFreedom.org
  • Open letter from another member of the parent science review committee:   https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/open-letter-from-alisa-ellis-usoe-deliberately-withholding-actual-science-standards-from-public-scrutiny/
  • Kansas Parents suing Kansas Board over NGSS science standards  http://www.copeinc.org/science-readings.html      (Notice that the newspapers deride this parental group as an” anti-evolution” group; but the parents themselves call their group Citizens for Objective Public Education.  The parents are clamoring for actual science,  for open mindedness that includes the possibility of intelligent design in this universe.  It’s a very important word game that’s being played.  Which side is really for or against academic open dialogue, scientific freedom, true debate, and an open mind?  Which side is really pushing a one sided dogma and subjective, controlled learning?  Study it carefully.)

 

Detailed Schedule: Band of Mothers Event at UVU this Wednesday, May 13   1 comment

The Band of Mothers Tour proudly presents the “Empowering Parents Symposium,” convening to present freedom’s true fight for children this Wednesday, May 13th, at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

Have you registered yet?  (Click here!)

 

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Here’s the outline.  Starting at 9:00 a.m., attendees will choose from nine available workshops held in classrooms at the UVU Sorenson Center (see below – detailed workshop information follows).

Following the workshops, attendees will enjoy an elegant luncheon while hearing from KNRS star Rod Arquette.  In the evening, the symposium reconvenes at the UVU Ragan Theater 6:00 with entertainment and discussion starting with the Five Strings Band, followed by keynote speakers Senator Al Jackson,  Analyst Joy Pullman and Child Rescuer Tim Ballard.  The evening’s finale will be “The Abolitionist,” the documentary movie, introduced by its star, Tim Ballard, founder of the truly amazing rescue force, Operation Underground Railroad.

Operation-Underground-Railroad

 

If you haven’t registered yet, please click here.  Donations are appreciated and needed, but all the evening events are free and the morning workshops only cost $5 apiece.  You can register at UACC or just show up.  Remember: all events are first-come, first-served, with registered attendees having priority.  (If you happen to own filming equipment, please bring it and film the workshops that you attend.)

rod

If you want to hear Rod Arquette’s power-packed talk at mid-day and haven’t registered for the catered lunch, you have now missed the deadline for the order, but you can brown-bag it or come listen without eating.

To see “The Abolitionist” documentary, come very early because the seats will be filled up in the Ragan Theater by those who are there for the earlier events that begin at 6:00.

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Here’s the morning workshop schedule.  (Descriptions and teacher bios further below.)

  • 9:00 to 9:55 a.m. – Choose from:

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

  • 10:00 to 10:55 – Choose from:

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

  • 11:00 to 11:55 – Choose from:

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

 

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MORNING WORKSHOPS – Register here.

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Detailed Class Descriptions with Teacher Bios:

9:00 to 9:55 a.m.

1.  Common Core 101 by Jenny Baker – room 206 a

The word “Education” has been redefined.  Education used to evoke images of children and youth engaged in the learning process as they discover their own endless potential.  With recent educational changes, “Education” brings an image of frustration, canned answers and testing.  What is the purpose of this new form of “Education”?  What can you do about it?

Jenny Baker is the founder of Return to Parental Rights and The Gathering Families Project.  She has just returned from the United Nations as part of the Big Ocean Women delegation which hopes to raise awareness of the anti-family ideas that affect our world.  Jenny lives in St. George, Utah and is married to Blake Baker.  She is the mother of five daughters.

Stories_BakerFamily

 

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2. The Next Frontiers:  Data Collection from Birth to Death by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

Technology has opened Pandora’s Box by giving government and private organizations the power to collect very private information about people and create unerasable dossiers that can follow them for life.  What is possible now– how can we benefit from technology while controlling it, and what are ways people can reclaim their personal property from the institutions taking it without consent?

joyJoy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3.  Principles of the Constitution by Stacie Thornton and Laureen Simper – room 206 c

This class is an introduction to the principles of liberty embedded in the Constitution.  It explains the Founders’ “success formula” based on their thorough study and knowledge of history, past civilizations and human nature.  Learn the principles behind what George Washington called “the science of government” which, when applied, yields results that can be predicted and replicated.

Watching the news can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.  Studying eternal principles of agency will leave you feeling empowered, joyful and hopeful!

laureen

Laureen Simper taught junior high English and reading before raising her two children.  She has run a private Suzuki piano studio for much of 31 years.

 

stacie t

Stacie Thornton was the financial administrator for the U.S. District Court in Utah before marrying and raising five children.  She began homeschooling nearly 20 years ago, and continues now with her two youngest children.

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10:00 to 10:55

1. Data – by Big Ocean Women – room 206 a

big ocean

Learn about international organizations and their motivations behind data collection.  Come unite in standing in defense of our families:  find out what you can do and what we can do together.

carolina

Carolina S. Allen is the founder and president of Big Ocean Women which is an international grassroots “maternal feminist” movement taking the world by storn. Recently representing at the United Nations this past march, their message is picking up steam internationally.  Big Ocean Women are uniting in behalf of faith, family and healing the world in their own way, on their own terms.  Carolina is the happy homeschool mother of five.

michelle boulter

Michelle Boulter is a mother of three boys.  She recently attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.  She currently serves on the board of Big Ocean Women over politics and policy.  She is co-founder of Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families.  Her passion is to empower other families to be primary educators in the lives of their children.

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2. The Difference Between Progressive and Effective Education – by Joy Pullman – room 206 b

This class is a short history lesson explaining why and how American education shifted from supporting self-government through individual and local action into a massive national conglomerate where no one is responsible but everyone is cheated.

joy

 

Joy Pullman comes to Utah for this event from Indiana.  She  is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and is managing editor of The Federalist, a web magazine on politics, policy and culture.  She is also a former managing editor of School Reform News.

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3. Parental Rights – by Heather Gardner – room 206 c

Heather Gardner will speak about the parental rights laws that are in place –and the laws that are lacking– for the protection of children and the rights of parents in determining what they will be taught and who can access data collected on individual children.  Know the law and know your rights.

 

heather gardner

 

Heather Gardner is a former state school board candidate and is currently a middle school teacher at Liberty Hills Academy, a private school in Bountiful, Utah.  She was appointed by Senator Niederhauser to the standards review committee for Fine Arts in Utah.  She has been actively involved in supporting parental rights via media interviews and grassroots efforts during legislative sessions.  She and her husband are the parents of five children.  Heather is an advocate for students, special needs children, teachers and parents.

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11:00 to 11:55

1. It is Utah Science Standards or National Science Standards? – by Vince Newmeyer – room 206 a

Utah is in the process of adopting new science standards.  Contrary to public pronouncements from officials of the State Office of Education, on multiple occasions and before a variety of legislative bodies, that Utah would not adopt common national standards, there is now an admission that this is precisely what is happening.  Just what is in these standards that would be troubling for most Utah parents– and what can we do about it?

politics of science 10

Vince Newmeyer has had a lifelong love of science.  He attended BYU studying engineering, and has dabbled with experiments and inventions.  Vince ran his own computer consulting company, designed and built solar power installations, and engaged in electronic technical work.  Vince took an intense interest in evolutionary thought in 1998 and has studied it deeply since that time.  As an amateur geologist and science buff, he has done extensive research on topics in geology, biology, physics, astronomy and earth sciences.  He speaks about data which fundamentally challenges current popular views on our origins.

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2. SAGE/Common Core Testing – Should I Opt Out?  – by Wendy Hart – room 206 b

Should you opt your children out?  Come learn about SAGE testing and why thousands of parents are choosing to opt their children out.

wend

Wendy Hart:  “First and foremost, I am a mom.  I have three kids and a wonderful husband.  The responsibility I have for my children’s well being motivates me to ensure that they have the best education possible.  I currently have the honor of representing Alpine, Cedar Hills, and Highland residents on the Alpine School Board.

I started my own data migration and programming business 14 years ago.  Before establishing my own business, I worked for various local companies doing database migration and analysis, as well as project management.  I graduated from BYU cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a French minor.  I served a mission for my church in Northern France and Brussels, Belgium.  Raised in Cupertino, CA (home of Apple Computers) I am the oldest of five girls.  I play the piano and harp, and I like to sing.”

 

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3. Getting Involved and Making a Difference – by Jared Carman – room 206 c

Centrally managed education policy is weaking Utah family rights, responsibilities and relationships.  We need to “run, not walk” to turn this around.  What could we accomplish with 1,000 active, local groups of families in Utah who know each other, meet regularly, set and achieve specific goals, and synchronize efforts with other groups?  Come learn how to:

  • Organize and nurture a local group
  • Conduct effective, action-oriented meetings
  • Coordinate with other group leaders to support education policies that “put family first”.

 

 

jared carmen

 

Jared Carmen is a husband, dad, citizen lobbyist on education issues, member of the Utah Instructional Materials Commission, and advisory board member for a K-8 private school in Salt Lake City.  He holds an MS in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and is the founder/owner of two online learning companies.  He serves his precinct as a state delegate.

 

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EVENING EVENTS – Register here.

Evening events begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Ragan Theater at UVU

FIVE STRINGS BAND

five strings

SENATOR AL JACKSON WITH HIS WIFE, JULEEN JACKSON

al jackson

JOY PULLMAN

joy

TIM BALLARD AND “THE ABOLITIONISTS” DOCUMENTARY

Tim-Ballard-620x331

abolitionist movie

abolition poster

Utah State Office of Education Lies to Legislature and Board about National Common Science Standards Adoption   3 comments

You can’t just watch this; you have to act:  email your legislators and school board members and members of the media.

One dog barking does not wake up a town.  Ten thousand barking dogs will.

This short, seven minute video is a powerful documentation that uses the actual voices from recorded audio and video from legislative meetings and school board retreats that show the trail of promises broken and the belittling and bullying happening to our legislators, parents, and teachers by the Utah State Office of Education.

  • You will hear the USOE curriculum director promising an elected school board that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE superintendent promising the Utah legislature that Utah will never adopt national common science standards.
  • You will hear the USOE representative justifying the adoption of the common science standards and their hiding of the true science standards, giving parents a watered down, fake version –even during the time that USOE has an official “public comment” period happening— with the excuse that parents would find the standards “overwhelming”.

 

Please watch and share.

Open Letter from Alisa Ellis: USOE Deliberately Withholding Actual Science Standards from Public Scrutiny   1 comment

alisa

 

Alisa Ellis, parent member of Utah’s Science Standards Review Committee, is calling for an immediate stop to:

 

1- the USOE’s public comment survey –because USOE has only allowed the public and the parent review committee to see a sterilized, watered down version, rather than a true, full version of the common science standards and appendices that teachers will be using– yet USOE is asking the public to comment in this blind manner;

2- the USOE’s statewide tour, aimed to give parents the impression that they have been given full disclosure of the new science standards.  Since the science standards that the public is being shown, upon which the public has been asked to comment, are not the same as the standards that teachers are to be using, nor  the same as the standards upon which the parent review committee was asked to work, this tour to present the standards is at best, partially truthful and at worst, a deliberate deception.)

Here’s Alisa’s  letter to the state school board:

 

Board Members,

 

The public comment period of the proposed science standards needs to stop immediately and be restarted with the correct document.  Mr. Scott admitted on Tuesday night that the teachers will not be presented with the draft of standards that the public is being asked to review but with the full version from Achieve’s Next Generation Science Standards.  I don’t believe this review falls within the provisions of the law.  The law does not say, “present the public with the watered down version because it would be “too overwhelming” for them to see the full version”.  This is what was suggested was the reason for not presenting the public with the full version.

 

The NGSS have many things included besides simply the performance expectations.  The full version has clarification statements, assessment boundaries; the full NRC framework with all the cross-walking to the Common Core standards and appendices.  It is my right as a parent and citizen to be shown exactly what will be taught to my children..  This is both according to federal law and state law.

 

Therefore it is my recommendation that the public review period ceases immediately.  It is apparent that the power structure is willing to do whatever it takes to push forth their agenda so I would also recommend starting fresh with a new writing and lead team.

 

Also, board member Dixie Allen claimed at the meeting in Vernal that the standards committee knew all along that the Next Generation Science Standards were being used.  Mr. Scott also claimed that the draft given to the parent review committee, of which I am a member, was presented with a draft that cited the NGSS and NRC framework.  This is not accurate.  I have the copy in front of me and there is no mention of the NGSS standards.  In fact, Sarah Young, at our first meeting proudly talked of all the hard work the writing team was putting into writing these “UT science standards” when in fact they were simply reorganizing the format and order of the national science standards.

 

This board has the desire to improve public relations, but with the deceptive and dishonest way things are presented I worry the gap in public trust is growing wider and wider.  Also, as the state office of ed is currently facing a lawsuit for the lack of parental involvement surrounding the adoption of Common Core it would behoove the board to put a stop to the deceptive manner information is fed to the public.

 

Also, in the Vernal meeting Mr. Scott revealed that the writing team which he renamed the “organizing team” was given 6 sets of standards to pick from.

 

  •  I am formally requesting the names and titles of the individuals that chose the sets of standards the committee was allowed to choose from.
  • I am requesting the six sets of standards offered the committee
  • I am requesting the names and titles of every member of the writing/organizing team (I asked for this last fall)
  • I am requesting all correspondence between the above requested individuals with staff and board members.

I also became aware today of an implementation guide published by ACHIEVE for the 6-8 grade standards.  Here is an excerpt:

propaganda achieve

  • Therefore, I am also formally requesting all minutes from meetings and discussions, both with board members and without, surrounding the revision of science standards.
  • There were cameras present at the December review committee meeting held at the State Capitol.  I am requesting a copy of all raw video.

As these requests will benefit the public at large, I am requesting all fees be waived and the process be expedited.  I understand that correspondence between individuals will take longer than some of the other requests, I would like to see the committee names and standards immediately while the other information is being gathered.

 

Further, there was an attempt at the meeting this week to prevent recording of the meeting which would be in direct violation of open meeting laws.  There was also an attempt to suggest committee members identities were to be kept private, which is also a direct violation of open meeting laws.  Please do everything in your power to stop this practice.

 

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

 

 

This 7 minute video explains the deception using audio from legislative meetings and board retreats.

 

This video from the Vernal USOE science standards meeting below shows Mr. Ricky Scott of the USOE with Alisa Ellis asking questions about why the board refused to show the real standards to parents, citing “not overwhelming” parents as a reason for the lack of transparency.

 

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Please support Alisa’s call for honesty and integrity in the process of setting Utah’s academic standards.  Contact the state school board members today, asking for a full disclosure of the actual science standards to the public and an immediate ceasing of the tour and public comment survey as it stands.  Include a copy of your letter to your local school board and to your elected representatives in the legislature.  Find your senator or representative here.

And come to the upcoming Provo, Salt Lake, and Ogden meetings, if the USOE fails to listen to Alisa by halting these planned public meetings.

 

District 1: Terryl Warner
623 Anderson Avenue
Hyrum UT 84319
435.512.5241
Terryl.Warner6@gmail.com

District 2: Spencer F. Stokes
4259 Skyline Drive
Ogden, UT 84403
801.923.4908
utahboard2@gmail.com

District 3: Linda B. Hansen
5149 Village Wood Drive
West Valley City, UT 84120
801.966.5492
linda.hansen@schools.utah.gov

District 4: Dave Thomas (First Vice Chair)
7875 South 2250 East
South Weber, UT 84405
801-479-7479
dthomas@summitcounty.org

District 5: Laura Belnap
845 East 1500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010
801.699.7588
lbelnap@utahonline.org

District 6: Brittney Cummins
4601 Poseidon Drive
West Valley City, UT 840120
801.969.5712
b4cummins@gmail.com

District 7: Leslie B. Castle
2465 St. Mary’s Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
801.581.9752
lesliebrookscastle@gmail.com

District 8: Jennifer A. Johnson (Second Vice Chair)
802 Winchester Street, #100
Murray, UT 84107
801.742.1616
jj@jenniferajohnson.com

District 9: Joel Wright
9102 Silver Lake Drive
Cedar Hills, UT 84062
801.426.2120
joel.wright..uted@gmail.com

District 10: Dave Crandall (Chair)
13464 Saddle Ridge Drive
Draper, UT 84020
801.232.0795
crandall@xmission.com

District 11: Jefferson Moss
1668 Aspen Circle
Saratoga Springs, UT 84045
801.916.7386
jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com

District 12: Dixie L. Allen
218 West 5250 North
Vernal, UT 84078
435.789.0534
dixieleeallen@gmail.com

District 13: C. Mark Openshaw
3329 Piute Drive
Provo, UT 84604
801.377.0790
markopenshaw@gmail.com

District 14: Mark Huntsman
435 South 700 East
Fillmore, UT 84631
435.979.4301
mhuntsman@sunrise-eng.com

District 15: Barbara Corry
1022 Cedar Knolls
Cedar City, UT 84720
435.586.3050
Barbara.corry@schools.utah.gov

Appointed Board Members:

Teresa Theurer
322 East 2280 North, #D
North Logan, UT 84341
435.753.0740
teresatheurer1@gmail.com

Marlin K. Jensen
1500 North 7900 East
Huntsville, UT 84317
801.718.0858
jensenmk@ldschurch.org

Freddie Cooper
1307 West 200 North
Clearfield, UT 84015-8601
801.773.2426
freddiecooper1@comcast.net

Kristin Elinkowski
3261 Twin Peaks Drive
Layton, UT 84040
801.941.1789
kelinkowski@msn..com

Dean Rowley
526 South 170 West
Springville, UT 84663
801. 489-6935
dbrowley@q..com

Common Core Science Standards Launch   2 comments

Hot off the press– a NASBE press release that lets us know Common Core science standards are on their way to local schools –unless parents, teachers and legislators rise up and say no.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Steve Berlin
March 7, 2013

703-684-4000 , ext. 1118

NASBE Launches Next Generation Science Standards Policy Initiative

Arlington, VA — As states work to implement new math and English standards, policymakers from 26 lead state partners are participating in the development of the voluntary Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K-12 education, which are now nearing completion. The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is embarking on a yearlong initiative to provide state board members with information, analysis, and resources about the new standards so they are fully prepared to make the best, evidence-based decisions for their states. The project is supported by a $319,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

NASBE has been a leader in the effort to assist states as they adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards, and it will apply that experience to help state board members understand the development, history, and future of the Next Generation Science Standards. The development of the science standards – now in their second draft, with a final version expected in March – is being spearheaded by Achieve in conjunction with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“State education policymakers, like many others, are working hard to answer the national call for greater emphasis on science, and the Next Generation Science Standards will provide them with a critical tool to do this,” said NASBE Deputy Executive Director Brad Hull. “But the existence of the NGSS is just a first step. The state board members who must adopt them need targeted resources and opportunities to discuss the meaning, content, and policy implications of the standards in order to effectively do their jobs. NASBE, in partnership with other education stakeholders, including those involved in the NGSS development as well as other state-level policy organizations, is uniquely positioned to provide this assistance to state boards.”

The NGSS are focused on four areas: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology, and practical applications of science. The standards, which were built upon on a vision for science education established by the Framework for K-12 Science Education, published by the National Academies’ National Research Council in 2011, seek to move science instruction from an inch-deep, mile-wide approach to one that is centered on deeper learning and helping students grasp concepts that stretch across traditional scientific disciplines.

During the year, NASBE will host regional symposia at which state board of education members can develop adoption plans and conduct policy audits to identify other policy areas affected by the NGSS, such as assessments, teacher professional learning, and educator licensure. In addition, NASBE staff will provide state board members with online and print resources, webinars, and toolkits – all with a special emphasis on communications – to help inform policymakers and other local, district, and state-level stakeholders.

***

The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visitwww.nasbe.org.

“Green” Education Does Not Belong in Public Schools: Yukon College Professor Explains   4 comments

Why I Don’t Want my Children to be Educated for Sustainable Development: Sustainable Belief

By Bob  Jickling  Yukon College

Bob Jickling is instructor of environmental studies at Yukon College in Whitehorse. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 20th Annual Conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education Saint Paul, Minnesota, September 1991.

There is considerable debate about the merits of sustainable development and the actions it requires. As we enter the 1990s, this term has become, for many, a vague slogan susceptible to manipulation. For some it is logically inconsistent. For others there are concerns that efforts to implement it will obscure understanding of the economic, political, philosophical and epistemological roots of environmental issues, and adequate examinations of social alternatives. This raises questions about the idea that anyone should teach such a thing in the first place. With this in mind, I wish to examine two concerns.

The first concern arises from my observations of the research seminar held during National Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)’s 1990 conference held in San Antonio. Amid discussions about quantitative, qualitative, and action research, talk about philosophical analysis was conspicuous by its absence. The lack of attention to educational philosophy, and the research methods employed by philosophers, has been an impediment to the development of environmental education. This is a matter of considerable importance.

The second concern relates to the proposed relationship between education and sustainable development, particularly as it is described in the phrase “education for sustainable development.” I will argue that this locution epitomizes a conceptual muddle that environmental educators ought to do something about.

These two concerns are of course related. It is precisely the lack of attention to philosophical analysis of the concepts central to environmental education that allowed the expression and proliferation of such questionable ideas. I will begin by briefly talking about environmental education and the importance of philosophical analysis in this field of study. I will then critique sustainable development education and in so doing will illustrate the importance of philosophical research which employs techniques of conceptual analysis.

One of the problems in environmental education has been the failure of its practitioners to reconcile definitions of environmental education with an . priori conception of education. It is important to understand that concepts such as “education” and “environmental education” are abstractions, or ideas which describe various perceptions. While studying how a word functions will provide some understanding about the enterprise or phenomena that it represents, the analysis remains an interpretation of an abstraction in peoples’ minds. It is a mistake to think of concepts as objects or concrete entities; they are nothing more than conventional signs or symbols. This is not a precise business. For this reason the idea of a true, correct, or perfect statement about a concept is implausible. Analysis of concepts is essentially a dialectical business and such analyses are in constant need of re-examination and clarification (Wilson, 1969).

These points can be illustrated by attempting to identify some of the criteria useful in describing an educated person. For example, we might ask ourselves if acquisition of knowledge is a necessary condition. Many would affirm this, claiming we would not normally say that someone is educated but that they do not know anything. However, while the dissemination of information is an important function of schools, we might continue our analysis by asking if the accumulation of mere facts and disconnected information is enough.

For example, my son at nine years of age, could go to a map of the world and identify an astonishing number of countries, but this was hardly sufficient to convince me that he was educated. We expect the educated person to have some understanding of the relationships between these bits of information which enable a person to make some sense of the world; the educated person should have some understanding about why a relationship exists. We might also wonder if the ability to think critically is a necessary criterion for the educated person. Again we would expect to find considerable agreement; we would be reluctant to say that a person was educated if we judged that he or she could not think for him or herself.

While this constitutes an abbreviated analysis it does provide a glimpse at the general approach taken in this kind of research. The philosopher, thus, attempts to find out which of the possible criteria are necessary. It is important to note that this analysis cannot provide a definitive or complete answer, but only a collection of logical arguments of greater or less merit. This point is frequently misunderstood. For example, one of the pitfalls for researchers working in fields such as education and environmental education is to think as if abstract nouns were:

the names of abstract or ideal objects: as if there were somewhere, in heaven if not on earth, things called `justice’, `love’ and `truth’ [and environmental education]. Hence we come to believe that analyzing concepts, instead of being what we have described it to be, is really a sort of treasure hunt in which we seek for a glimpse of these abstract objects. We find ourselves talking as if `What is justice?’ [or environmental education?] was a question like `What is the capital of Japan?’ (Wilson, 1969 p. 40)

What this means for environmental education is, of course, that the claim environmental education “does have definition and structure” (Hungerford, Peyton & Wilke, 1983) is unlikely. Or, to attempt to solve the so called “definitional problem” in environmental education in any fashion, let alone by the American Society for Testing and Materials (Marcinkowski, 1991), is misplaced. In the field of environmental education we appear to be witnessing a treasure hunt for an infinitely illusive abstract object. Environmental education will surely continue to wallow along rocky shores until this field allows an important place for conceptual analysis within its research community.

My preview of conceptual analysis also identifies some criteria useful for understanding the term “education.” Having identified such essential criteria, in this case the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and the ability to think for oneself, I can now introduce the next task of the philosopher. This job is to examine the implications which logically follow from use of the concept to see if application of the term is consistent with those essential criteria teased out during analysis. While this analysis of education is by no means complete, the criteria proposed are sufficient to illustrate this task. At the same time the adequacy of “educating for sustainable development” can be examined.

While environmental education is in the midst of a conceptual muddle the same can be said for sustainable development. For example, at the 1990 NAAEE conference Slocombe and Van Bers (1990) reminded us that this term is only a concept and that it is characterized by a paucity of precision. Their observations are not unique. Like Slocombe and Van Bers, some researchers acknowledge that there is no agreement about an overall goal for “sustainable development” (e.g. Huckle, 1991; Disinger, 1990; & Rees, 1989). Analysis of the term has not yet been able to identify sufficient criteria to elucidate common meaning and coherence.

It is also possible that that conceptual coherence cannot be achieved. For Huckle (1991), the term “sustainable development” has entered the dialectic which characterizes modern environmentalism. For him, it has taken different, and possibly irreconcilable, meanings for technocentrists and ecocentrists. According to this view, the term is contested and its shared understanding is rendered impossible by inherent contradictions arising from these divergent world views. Disinger (1990) reports views which reinforce these doubts. He states: “To some, sustainable development is an oxymoron – a self-contained non sequitur between noun and modifier.” (p. 3) It appears that there are those who are troubled by questions of logical consistency when “sustainable” is juxtaposed against “development.” If such inconsistency is borne out, the conceptual muddle that surrounds sustainable development will be perpetuated.

The observations reported in the previous two paragraphs accentuate the need for philosophical research, particularly conceptual analysis. Clarifying common understandings of “sustainable” and “development” and examining the logical coherence of their association will help to assess the usefulness of sustainable development. In the meantime disagreement exists. The implication of this reality upon education is foreshadowed by planner William Rees (1989) who argued that a prerequisite to developing acceptable policies and plans for sustainable development is a satisfactory working definition of the concept. It seems equally improbable that we can accept any educational prescription in the absence of an adequate conceptualization of sustainable development. It therefore seems unlikely that I should want anyone to educate my children for sustainable development when it is not clear what on earth it is that they are aiming for.

If, however, an adequate conceptualization of sustainable development was argued, we would still be concerned with the educational appropriateness of aiming for it. In spite of such misgivings there does appear to be considerable momentum amongst environmental educators who wish to teach sustainable development. For example, John Disinger in his article “Environmental Education for Sustainable Development?” (1990), discusses the development of this momentum in North America. Noel Gough (1991) suggests that much environmental education in Australia is concerned with land protection and is often associated with “conservation for sustainable development.” And, UNESCO (1988) has looked to environmental education as a vehicle to promote “training, at various levels, of the personnel needed for the rational management of the environment in the view of achieving sustainable development.” (p. 6) In Canada the environmental education arm of UNESCO, MAB/Net, affirms this objective and characterizes its mission as “Education for Sustainable Development.” However, this momentum is not without anomalies which should raise our suspicions.

Disinger (1990) also reports that many environmental educators have difficulty identifying their own positions, particularly with reference to the eco-anthropocentric continuum. However, he claims that educators generally place greater emphasis on “wise use” than on non-use perspectives. While the implications of these observations are not perfectly clear, there is the suggestion that teachers have sought to identify their preferences in order to determine what perspectives to espouse. Noel Gough (1991) was more explicit. According to his view, environmental education has been overcome by promoters of instrumental land values which are frequently associated with sustainable development. Does this mean that environmental education has frequently become a promotional tool? It seems thus far that many educators implicitly or explicitly assume that their task, teaching sustainable development, involves the advancement of a particular agenda.

Inspection of comments in Our Common Future (1987) illustrates this problem:

Sustainable development has been described here in general terms. How are individuals in the real world to be persuaded or made to act in the common interest? The answer lies partly in education, institutional development, and law enforcement. (p. 46)

This statement suggests that sustainable development is in the common interest and the public must be persuaded, or made, to pursue this end. Further, education can be contributory to the process of persuasion or coercion required. This raises the question: Should education aim to advance a particular end such as sustainable development? Is it the job of education to make people behave in a particular way?

To seek answers to these questions consider first the idea that environmental education should promote “training for the rational management of the environment in the view of achieving sustainable development.” (UNESCO, 1988, p. 6) As I have argued elsewhere (Jickling, 1991), training is concerned with the acquisition of skills and abilities, and frequently has instrumental connotations. We generally speak of training for something; we might be training for football or training for work in a trade. Further, training tends to be closely associated with the acquisition of skills which are perfected through repetition and practice and are minimally involved with understanding. Thus, the capacity for rational management is inconsistent with the means suggested for its achievement.

In contrast we speak of a person being more or less well educated indicating a broader, and less determinate understanding which transcends immediate instrumental values. We would not normally speak of educating “for” anything. To talk of educating for sustainable development is more suggestive of an activity like training or the preparation for the achievement of some instrumental aim. It is important to note that this position rests on several assumptions. First, sustainable development is an uncontested concept, and second, education is a tool to be used for its advancement. The first point is clearly untrue and should be rejected; there is considerable skepticism about the coherence and efficacy of the term. The second assumption can also be rejected. The prescription of a particular outlook is repugnant to the development of autonomous thinking.

As we have seen in the earlier analysis, education is concerned with enabling people to think for themselves. Education for sustainable development, education for deep ecology (Drengson, 1991), or education “for” anything else is inconsistent with that criterion. In all cases these phrases suggests a pre-determined mode of thinking to which the pupil is expected to prescribe. Clearly, I would not want my children to be taught sustainable development. The very idea is contrary to the spirit of education. I would rather have my children educated than conditioned to believe that sustainable development constitutes a constellation of correct environmental views or that hidden beneath its current obscurity lies an environmental panacea.

However, having argued that we should not educate for sustainable development, it is quite a different matter to teach students about this concept. I would like my children to know about the arguments which support it and attempt to clarify it. But, I would also like them to know that sustainable development is being criticized, and I want them to be able to evaluate that criticism and participate in it if they perceive a need. I want them to realize that there is a debate going on between a variety of stances, between adherents of an ecocentric worldview and those who adhere to an anthropocentric worldview. I want my children to be able to participate intelligently in that debate. To do so they will need to be taught that these various positions also constitute logical arguments of greater or less merit, and they will need to be taught to use philosophical techniques to aid their understanding and evaluation of them. They will need to be well educated to do this.

For us the task is not to educate for sustainable development. In a rapidly changing world we must enable students to debate, evaluate, and judge for themselves the relative merits of contesting positions. There is a world of difference between these two possibilities. The latter approach is about education; the former is not.

References

Barrow, R. St. C., & Woods, R. G. 1988. An introduction to the philosophy of education (3rd. Ed.). London: Routledge.

Disinger, J. F. 1990. Environmental education for sustainable development? Journal of Environmental Education, 21(4), 3-6.

Drengson, A. R. 1991. Introduction: Environmental crisis, education, and deep ecology. The Trumpeter. 8 (3), 97-98.

Gough, N. 1991. Narrative and nature: Unsustainable fictions in environmental education. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 7, 31-42.

Hamm, C. M. 1989. Philosophical issues in education: An introduction. New York: Falmer.

Huckle, J. 1991. Education for sustainability: Assessing pathways to the future. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 7, 43-62.

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What an incredible article.  The most important and clearest thought that I found was this:

“[E]ducation is concerned with enabling people to think for themselves.

Education for sustainable development, education for deep ecology (Drengson, 1991), or education “for” anything else is inconsistent with that criterion.

In all cases these phrases suggests a pre-determined mode of thinking to which the pupil is expected to prescribe.

Clearly, I would not want my children to be taught sustainable development. The very idea is contrary to the spirit of education.

I would rather have my children educated than conditioned to believe that sustainable development constitutes a constellation of correct environmental views

 

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