Archive for the ‘sovereignty’ Tag

Alaska Succumbs   5 comments

I used to think of Alaska as one of the hero holdouts, because that state, along with Texas, Virginia, others, once flatly rejected Common Core. I remember reading with a mixture of awe and envy, how Alaska had opted out of the standards project in June 2009.

An Alaska Dept. of Ed spokesman, Eric Fry had once explained in a Heartland.org article that “We wanted to formulate our own plan… [Alaska] “would like to be the entity that declares its own standards.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

That was then. This is now.

https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreAK

Alaska has now succumbed to the federal pressure and has officially and quite enthusiastically jumped into the nationalized education control trap.

Alaska will no longer be “the entity that declares its own standards.”

How did it happen? Well, Alaska decided to join the Common Core testing group called Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

Click to access sbac_april2013.pdf

Membership in SBAC demands that Alaska obey the decisions made by other, “governing” and “lead” states of the SBAC.

Of course, there was no vote by the Alaska legislature to decide to join Common Core. It’s an underhanded business, education reform. And what does it mean?

If you read the “Cooperative Agreement” between the SBAC and the Dept. of Ed, you will learn that despite the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and GEPA law, the SBAC members have agreed to obey every whim of the Department of Education and must:

Provide updated, detailed work plans and budgets for all major activities identified in the recipient’s application, including but not limited to:
• development, quality control, use and validation of artificial intelligence for scoring;
• selection of a uniform growth model consistent with test purpose, structure, and intended uses;
• development of performance tasks (addressing items such as technical challenges of scoring, reliability, and large-scale administration of performance-based items);
• development of a research and evaluation agenda (addressing items such as validity, reliability, and fairness);
• development and delivery of the technology platform for assessment.
3) Actively participate in any meetings and telephone conferences with ED staff to discuss (a) progress of the project, (b) potential dissemination of resulting non-proprietary products and lessons learned, (c) plans for subsequent years of the project, and (d) other relevant information, including applicable technical assistance activities conducted or facilitated by ED or its designees, including periodic expert reviews, and collaboration with the other RTTA recipient.
4) Be responsive to requests from ED for information about the status of the project, project implementation and updated plans, outcomes, any problems anticipated or encountered, and future plans for the assessment system, including by providing such information in writing when requested.
5) Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant award, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student-level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis…” (page 3, Cooperative Agreement.)

But citizens of Alaska are speaking out.

An Alaska economist, Dr. Barbara Haney, put together the following list of questions:

1)What elected officials were involved in the process to opt into SBAC?

1a) Upon what authority did the state of Alaska put our state’s education system under the authority of the state of Washington and the SBAC consortium? Doesn’t this violate the Alaska Constitution?

1b) Isn’t SBAC an example of an Agenda 21 style regional board? In fact, isn’t this agenda 21?

2) Isn’t it true that the real reason that SOA entered into agreement with SBAC is to get the RTTT money and the NCLB waiver? How much money exactly are we getting from RTTT? To whom will those funds be disbursed?

3)The Race to the Top grant defines College and Career read as follows:
According to the USDOE “College- and career-ready standards: Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.”
http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions
In other words, if you adopt the common core standards, you have career ready standards.

How do these new standards meet the needs of Alaska’s employers? (Specific references, specific industries, not platitudes). What career codes in Alaska’s economy are these standards keyed to? How does the SBAC test demonstrate this to Alaskan employers? How do these standards fit in with Alaska’s Manpower forecasts by AKDOL?

4) “Smarter Balanced is grounded in the notion that putting good information about student performance in the hands of teachers can have a profound impact on instruction and—as a result—on student learning.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html
Isn’t this teaching to the test?

Further, if that is so, then how will Alaska students perform well on the Common Core curriculum tests if they are not using the common core curriculum?

Isn’t this just the state’s way of bullying local districts into adopting the common core curriculum?

5) Another statement by SBAC to the State of MO in May 14, 2013 “This spring we are pilot testing the first 5,000 items and tasks we have developed with about a million students, engaging more than 5,200 schools drawn from all 21 of our governing states. The pilot test also serves as a beta test for our test delivery software. In addition to testing out our items, performance tasks, and software, the pilot test also gives us an opportunity to evaluate a variety of accessibility features for students with disabilities and English language learners.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html

Why is the state of Alaska not looking at established tests like ITBS and the ACT? Why are we using a test that doesn’t exist yet? Why are we using an experimental test?

How can SOA even argue that this is a test superior to other tests when the test hasn’t even been used anywhere?

Why was this test selected rather than ASPIRE, ITBS, or Alaska’s past NCLB test? Since that test is written for Alaska why couldn’t we continue to use it?

6) When SBAC was asked about their own cost structure on May 14, 2013 own cost structure, they stated:
“One element dominates the cost: approximately 70 percent of the vendor cost for summative assessments is tied to hand-scoring. Measuring the deeper learning required by the Common Core requires that students write extensively and much of that writing cannot yet be scored by technology. Paying teachers, faculty, and other content experts to score student responses is costly, but it is currently the only effective way to measure important elements of the Common Core.”

a) will Alaska Teachers be employed to grade Alaskan students?
b) isn’t this essentially what the original Alaska Test went to SBA testing? Didn’t we leave SBA testing due to this cost and alleged capricious nature of the grading system?
c) How then is the writing SBAC actually cheaper than the Digitcorp writing test?
Isn’t it true that SOA adopted this for the NCLB waiver and not because it is a superior test?
How does this test then become a superior instrument of evaluating student success?

7) In the area of English Language Arts (ELA), Smarter Balanced places these capabilities within its claims for both writing and for speaking and listening. In rural village schools there are some English speaking conventions are radically different from those in the roadway system. There is no way to avoid the obvious outcome that this test could discriminate against certain ethnic groups.
Has there been any effort to prepare these schools in speaking? Further, given that Hanley’s office indicates these schools will likely have a paper & pencil version of the test, how will the speaking component be evaluated?

8) SBAC funding ends Sept. 2014. In their comments to the state of MO on May 14, 2013, SBAC stated:
“At the conclusion of the federal grant, Smarter Balanced will transition to being an operational assessment system supported by its member states. The consortium does not plan to seek additional funds from the U.S. Department of Education.” http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/common-core-watch/2013/by-the-company-it-keeps-smarter-balanced.html

How much will Alaska be expected to commit in the future of their funds? How does this break out on a per pupil basis (Vermont was told it would be $300 per student for the test alone). Where will this money come from?

Why did the state submit the members of the state to a new taxing authority?

Given Governor Parnell’s commitment to SB21 (now signed) and the short term revenue fall, where will the revenue come from in 2014 to pay for SBAC?

9) Pioneer Institute study on implementation show a staging acceleration in costs of SBAC. On average the costs are 4 times the amount given by the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant monies.
http://pioneerinstitute.org/education/study-estimates-cost-of-transition-to-national-education-standards-at-16-billion/

Will Borough Governments be expected to pay a share to SBAC? If so, have borough governments been informed for budgetary purposes?
How much will property taxes have to increase to meet these costs?

10) According to a CRESST study by UCLA & CA Board of Regents of SBAC and PARC dated May 2013 at http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf, page 9, second column, states
“Smarter Balanced plans to refine its specifications as it develops items and tasks, a contract for item development has been established, and item and task development are currently underway, as is a contract for specifying the test blueprint (see http://www.smarterbalanced.org/smarter-balancedassessments/ for the preliminary blueprints).

Why did the state of Alaska sign on to a test that is not yet written or tested? When there are clearly other tests available that are cheaper (by SBAC’s own admission) and comparable (according the Washington States’ OWN Washington Policy Center), why are we going with this far more expensive assessment?

11) The CRESST Report by UCLA on page 10 states, “However, collaboration may be incorporated into Smarter Balanced performance tasks, and metacognition may well be required in solving the complex, extended problems that both consortia plan as part of their performance task components.”

The use of group answers is a radical departure in Alaska State testing. How will group answers be used in scoring individual students? Will Alaska students be denied a diploma because they did not pass a group answer? Has the use of group answers been vetted in national testing norms? How will group answers be received by parents? Why does SOA DOE feel the use of group answers to be a superior measure of student performance over traditional methods of assessing individual students?

12) The CRESST Study further states on page 18 http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf
Both consortia have been optimistic about the promise of automated constructed-response and performance task scoring and have incorporated that optimism into their cost estimates for the summative assessment. Both are estimating summative testing costs at roughly $20 per student for both subject areas. In the absence of promised breakthroughs, those costs will escalate, there will be enormous demands on teachers and/or others for human scoring, and the feasibility of timely assessment results may be compromised.

(My note: Optimistic is academic way of saying full of excrement…) How will these escalating costs be met by the state of Alaska, particularly given that the full results of SB21 may not be realized?

13) Continuing on page 17: http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf the study states
“In addition to costs, extended performance tasks also offer a challenge in assuring the comparability of scores from one year to the next. Without comparable or equitable assessments from one year to the next, states’ ability to monitor trends and evaluate performance may be compromised.”

What this is saying that that this years scores cannot be compared to last years score (of course, there is no test yet either). So if there is no ability to make time series comparisons, how can you tell if a school is doing better or worse over time? This is a radical departure from past assessments used by SOA where there has been some degree of comparability over time. How can a school then look at last years results and this years results to measure improvement?

14) Continuing on page 19 of the CRESST Study http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/reports/R823.pdf states specifically that SBAC is going against the grain of deeper learning assessments in their methodology.

“For example, Smarter Balanced content specifications include a relatively large number of assessment targets for each grade—on average 29 targets in mathematics and 35 targets in ELA. The claims, in contrast, reflect a reasonable number of major learning goals and represent the broad competencies that students need for college and career readiness. History suggests that focusing on discrete, individual standards is not the way to develop deeper learning, yet this is the strategy that states, districts, schools, and teachers have typically followed.”

Why is the State of Alaska then using an assessment of “deeper learning” that is designed in a way that history has shown will not reflect that deeper learning? Further, how will the curriculum used in schools reflect the acquisition of this deeper learning?

15) The CRESST Study on page 19 states, “Smarter Balanced has been very transparent in posting all of its plans and the results of its contracts. Yet, because its computer adaptive testing approach essentially individualizes test items to every student, it may be difficult to ascertain how well deeper learning is represented for every student or overall. The test blueprint will provide rules for item selection and presumably, those rules will include those for representing higher levels of depth of knowledge, but this is yet to be seen.”

If test questions are not the same for each student, then how can results be compared across students? Further, since the adaptive technology for the test does not yet exist, why is the state investing in it? Doesn’t this represent a radical departure from the traditional type of test given in SOA? Why does the state want to engage in this experimental test over other proven testing methods?

16) Many of the state’s schools do not have the equipment to offer this test on line. Who will be paying the cost of upgrading the school computer lines? Software? Computers? The purchase of additional computers?

In sum….
The test hasn’t been field tested, validated, or normed. The test will not offer a result that is comparable from one year to a next for a given institution. The adaptive technology isn’t available yet. Many of the districts in Alaska do not have the technology to offer this test. The Consortium is out of money in Sept. 2014.The test is using a strategy that has been shown to reflect the sort of knowledge it claims to test (deeper learning). The $20.00 per test estimate is considered overly optimistic and costs are expected to escalate. In contrast, there are instruments that have been validated that have a certain cost. Further, as the study states on page 18 “… while built-in accommodations may be easier to accomplish, there will still be the validity challenge of establishing the comparability of accommodated and non-accommodated versions of the test.”

17) Further, if the state is not using the Core Curriculum, then why are we using an assessment that reflects the core curriculum?

Great questions. Thank you, Dr. Haney.

Good luck, Alaska.

Thank You, Senator Lee   Leave a comment

Utah Senator Mike Lee is a rare patriot.

He actually did what all the senators are supposed to be doing:  he defended the U.S. Constitution from the tentacles of the United Nations– again!

He defended our freedoms:  national sovereignty and parental rights, when others lightly dismissed the seriousness of the threat to these sacred things.

The article below is reposted from Lee’s op-ed in USA Today:http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/12/06/treaty-disabled-mike-lee/1752473/

 

Treaty backers can’t have it both ways

If the U.N. convention won’t affect U.S. laws, how can it change other nations?

by Senator Lee

December  6. 2012 – Supporters of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are attempting to have it both ways. They dismiss as a myth any concerns about protecting sovereignty or parental rights because the treaty lacks a formal enforcement mechanism. They suggest that Congress can simply ignore any United Nations demand that isn’t in our national interest.

USA Today’s view:  Disabled Senate rejects U.N. rights treaty

Yet they simultaneously argue that U.S. ratification is necessary in order to force other countries to institute reforms. This inconsistent logic begs the question: If the treaty cannot be used to force changes in American law, how can it then be used to change the laws of other countries?

Ironically, no one highlighted this inconsistency more eloquently during Tuesday’s floor debate than one of the treaty’s most ardent supporters, Sen. John Kerry: “When  have words or suggestions that have no power, that cannot be implemented, that have no access to the courts, that have no effect on the law of the United States, and cannot change the law of the United States, when has that ever threatened anybody in our country?”

Or any other country, for that matter.

Supporters argue the treaty  gives us a seat at the international table. But America already sits at the head of that table. Our laws are the gold standard for protecting the rights of disabled persons. Nothing about Tuesday’s vote changes that. We continue to be influential throughout the world in promoting the Americans with Disabilities Act as the model for other countries. Ratifying the treaty would not strengthen our hand, nor would it provide further rights or benefits for Americans at home.

At best, the treaty is ineffective. At worst, it could have grave consequences for U.S. domestic law. By their very nature, treaties diminish our sovereign authority to govern ourselves. Parties to this particular convention must answer to an unaccountable U.N. committee and are subject to its directions. If you believe Sen. Kerry, then the U.S. has nothing to worry about, but also no reason to support the treaty. If he is wrong, we have many reasons to oppose it.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

—————————–

Amen.

The Global Common Core   14 comments

In an ongoing quest to comprehend what (and why) Common Core is what it is, I’ve found Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson PLC.

Sir Barber, a passionate Common Core promoter with a nice British accent, is all about top-down, global McEducation –and global McEverything, actually, from transportation to jails.

“McEverything” is not Barber’s word.  His word is “Deliverology.”

His book, “Deliverology 101,”  is purposed, oddly, specifically for leaders of American Education reform.” But what motivates a British citizen to write a manual on American states’ nationalized standards?

Well.

At last month’s British Education Summit, Barber gave a speech entitled “Whole System Revolution: The Education Challenge For the Next Decade”.

He spoke as if he’d just finished reading the United Nations Agenda 21 before coming onstage.  Creepy ideas, but said in such a nice way. http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA  – (This is Barber’s recent, August 2012, international speech.)

   Barber comes across as a nice, slightly weird, old British knight.  Actually, he is a knight: Sir Michael Barber was knighted for producing education reforms in England.

Yet some (who are also repected far and wide) scorn his philosophies.  John Seddon, British management guru and president of Vanguard, has a multi-part YouTube series entitled “Why Deliverology Made Things Worse in the UK.”

“I don’t go around the world bashing Deliverology, but I think I should,” said Seddon.

Seddon defines “deliverology” as “a top-down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.”  http://youtu.be/2sIFvpRilSc

Seddon says “deliverology” imposes arbitrary targets that damage morale.  Just like Common Core.

But Barber will have none of that.  He seems to feel that education reform is too big an issue to pause for things like individual morale.

In Barber’s view, education reform is a “global phenomenon,” so reform is no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries; education reform has “no more frontiers, no more barriers.”  Hmm.

http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA

Barber shows a chart during his summit speech, displayed at 12:06 minutes, which he calls a goal of “whole system revolution,” pinpointed as the sum of the following addends:  systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital.  –Whole system revolution? Human capital?  What awful word choices, even for a chart.

Sir Michael Barber adds: “We want data about how people are doing. We want every child on the agenda.” (6:05)  –But who are the “we” that will control global data?  That one he does not answer.

    Barber’s collectivist, global-governance philosophy is everywhere.

http://youtu.be/ltAeLXUCqaQ .

In this clip, Barber praises Common Core (CC) at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) interview, calling CC among other things, “internationally benchmarked.”  (That oft-repeated phrase, “internationally benchmarked” is one that Common Core Validation Committee Member, Professor Stotsky, calls false.  See http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf)

In another interview with the CFR, Barber says, “Can I congratulate the CFR for getting into this issue? I think it’s great to see education as an issue of national security and foreign policy as well as economic and domestic policy.” http://castroller.com/Podcasts/InsideCfrEvents/2695637

 

Then there’s the BBC interview.

   http://youtu.be/vTYMFzOv0wQ

In this clip, on the BBC show Hardtalk, Barber outlines the benefits of “private and public partnership,” which just happens to be yet another United Nations Agenda 21 bullet point.  (See http://www.un.org/partnerships/unfip_partner.html)

Pearson “invests,” says Barber, by purchasing cheap schools in developing countries in partnership with governments.  (PPP)

Pearson works hand in hand with both nongovernmental agencies (NGA and CCSSO) and with governmental agencies (U.S. Department of Education) to promote global education and Common Core. Because they see global education and Common Core as one and the same.

Evidence? Look at 6:05 on http://youtu.be/T3ErTaP8rTA –the August Summit speech.  Barber says that every country should have exactly the same definition of what it means to be good at “maths”.

At 4:00 he says that “citizens of the world” including every single child, “all 9 billion people who will be alive in 2050” must know    E(K+T+L) –which stands for (Knowledge + Thinking + Leadership) multiplied by “ethical underpinnings.”

Then Barber explains that the “ethical underpinning” is “shared understanding” of earth and “sustainability” that every child in every school around the world will learn.  Ethics, to Barber, have nothing to do with the supreme sanctity of human life, the idea of God, of individual liberty or the Golden Rule.  Nope, it’s about the collective, the earth-oneness.

So, now that we know where Barber stands, what do we do about Pearson?  Keep buying what they’re peddling, of course.

Pearson is very successful in selling Common Core curriculum, online assessments, teacher professional development, and technological resources nationwide.   http://commoncore.pearsoned.com/index.cfm?locator=PS11Uz

Common Core is big business.  The Wall Street Journal quotes Pearson’s CEO:

“‘It’s a really big deal,’ says Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson’s K-12 division,  Pearson School. ‘The Common Core standards are affecting literally every part of the business we’re involved in.'” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303674004577434430304060586.html

And Pearson has long been partnered with Achieve Inc., which also happens to be a co-author of Barber’s “Deliverology 101” which happens also to partner “with NGA and CCSSO on the [Common Core] Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the writing and review teams”.  http://www.achieve.org/achieving-common-core

Sigh.

These combinations of corporations, governments, NGOs and elite philanthropists (Bill Gates) appear to literally be taking over the globe’s educational decision-making.

When the BBC interviewer accused Barber of leading Pearson to take over nations’ educational systems as a huge corporation, Barber said, as a defense, “I worked for government. I love government.  I think government is a really important, a big part of the solution.”

Well, yes indeed.  Advising countries from the U.S. to Pakistan on how to implement nationalized education, is his specialty.

As the UK Guardian writes:

“…Barber and his graphs have gone global. As McKinsey’s hubristically titled “head of global education practice”, he has set up a US Education Delivery Unit (albeit as a private sector rather than government venture), co-authored books that claim to identify what makes national education systems successful, and taken the joint chairmanship of a taskforce in Pakistan to establish “national standards” in basic subjects. Now he’s becoming chief education adviser to Pearson, owner of Penguin Books and the Financial Times and also, in its own description, “the world’s leading learning company”, with interests in 70 countries…”  http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

Double sigh.

Will any of this be easy to reverse?  Sir Michael Barber emphasizes the importance of what he’s dubbed “irreversible reform.”  He defines “sustainable reform” as “irreversible reform” and aims to “make it so it can never go back to how it was before.”

“If you want irreversible reforms, work on the culture and the minds of teachers and parents,” Barber says. Otherwise parents or traditionalists might repeal what’s been done because of their “wish for the past.”

Heaven help us.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky to Utah: We Can Write Higher, Better Standards — Free   Leave a comment

Dear School Board, Superintendent Shumway and Governor Herbert,

I am writing to express my gratitude to those who were instrumental in yesterday’s vote to reverse Utah’s membership in the SBAC testing consortium.  It was a heroic moment and America is watching.

Early on, when I read the Cooperative Agreement between the SBAC and the Department of Education, I was horrified to see that it required  SBAC members to expose student data to the federal government “on an ongoing basis, subject to applicable privacy laws,” and I knew that the Dept. of Education had changed privacy FERPA regulations to make that data easy to access.

I had also been horrified by the micromanagement the Dept. of Education planned to do, in demanding that PARCC and SBAC synchronize tests “across consortia,” effectively nationalizing education under the triangulation of those two consortia with the Dept. of Education.  Also, in writing to WestEd, the SBAC’s test writing project manager, I had found out that “In order for this [testing] system to have a real impact within a state, the state will need to adopt the Common Core State Standards (i.e., not have two sets of standards.)” -April 2012 statement from WestEd Assessments and Standards Senior Research Associate Christyan Mitchell, Ph.D.

This meant that the 15% additional content which the Dept. of Education was permitting states to add to their local version of Common Core, would have been meaningless in the context of the tests.  Teachers would not have been motivated to teach that extra 15% of unique Utah content, since there would be such pressure to conform to the high-stakes, competitive tests.  Now they are freed from that pressure and can teach students, not teach for others.

I am extremely relieved to find that we have reclaimed our independence in the realm of testing and in the realm of easy federal access to student data collected via tests.  But I am still concerned that the federally paid-for state longitudinal database system (SLDS) and the P-20 student tracking systems will be available to the federal government and marketers, since our Utah Technology leader, John Brandt, who is a chair member of CCSSO and a member of NCES, the research arm of the Dept. of Education, has published the fact that our data can be shared with state agencies and at the federal level.  Also, Chief of Staff of the Dept. of Education Joanne Weiss made a statement recently that she is mashing data systems on the federal level, and is releasing reports to “help” states to use SLDS systems to mash data as well.  These things trouble me.  I hope you are aware of them and are taking steps to fortify our citizens’ privacy rights against federal intrusion which can easily invade in these other ways –other than the SBAC test data collection method, which we seem to be freed from.

–Or are we?  Attendees at yesterday’s State School Board meeting have informed me that there is school board talk of purchasing SBAC tests anyway, regardless of the conflict of interest issue.  This, even now that we’ve cut membership ties with SBAC.  If our board votes to use SBAC tests, we will hardly be better off than if we had not taken the step of cutting off membership ties.  Our childrens’ data would then still be collected by SBAC, and we know from the Cooperative Agreement that the SBAC will triangulate tests and data collected with the federal government.  We must cut all ties with SBAC, including purchasing or using SBAC or PARCC written tests.

On Sept. 6th, the ESEA flexibility waiver window ends.  I have asked a question but have not received a response:  does that Sept. 6th deadline mean that after Sept. 6th, Utah’s option to write her own standards, ends?

We need legitimately high, not spottily or for just some grades/topics, occasionally high, standards.  We need standards like those Massachusetts had before that state caved to political pressure to lower standards in adopting Common Core.  Massachusetts tested as an independent nation and was among the very top.  Massachusetts’ standards were the highest in the USA.  Then Common Core took them down to the middle of the road.  Does Utah really want that?  If so, why?  Is it Superintendent Shumway’s board membership in CCSSO and SBAC that is driving these decisions?  Or is it what’s really the highest possible standards for our children and teachers?

Political and money-making pressures are pushing Utah to stay aligned with Common Core, while attempting to obscure the truth:  that Common Core is not rigorous enough.  It does not solve our very real educational problems.

First, it blurs excellence and sub-par into a common standard that is mediocre.  Stanford University Professor Michael Kirst assessed the standards and said that “My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”.

Dr. Bill Evers, Hoover Institute scholar and professor at Stanford, said that the “Asian Tigers” countries keep Algebra I in 8th grade, as Utah’s prior standards had them; but Common Core retards Algebra I to 9th grade.

Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off that the standards were adequate.  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the head English professor on the same committee, also refused to sign off on the standards.  She said they did not represent a coherent, legitimate pre-college program and she opposed slashing classic literature and narrative writing, as 99% of all English teachers –and parents– would surely agree.

Importantly, the NCLB/ESEA waiver allows two ways to fulfull the “college readiness” requirement.  1) States can use Common Core.  Or 2)states can write their own standards, using University approval as a benchmark.  If we choose option 2, by Sept. 6th, 2012, then we can write our own standards, using what’s best out of common core, building up to a better standard set by Massachusetts, led by the very professor who created Massachusetts’ superior standards— for free!

    Dr. Sandra Stotsky has promised Utah that if we pull out of Common Core and want help in developing our own ELA standards (better than what we used to have), she will help write them, for free.   She worked on the excellent, (Common Core-Less) Texas standards in 2007-2008, contracted with StandardsWork.

Dr. Alan Manning, of BYU, who is opposed on academic grounds and on grounds of lost liberty, to Common Core, would be a great resource for writing Utah’s standards, as well.

Please contact Dr. Stotstky and Dr. Manning about the possibilities of creating superior standards for Utah.

Thank you sincerely for your continued work on educational issues in Utah.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

Virginia, Texas, South Carolina: Why Free-Thinking States Opt Out of the Common Core Initiative   1 comment

How do Virginia, Texas and South Carolina think differently from how Utah thinks?

Why are their Governors and school boards savvy enough to reject Common Core (or are trying to, amid opposition) –when top Utah’s leaders are not?  Here, in their  own words, are the freedom fighters who value liberty in education, speaking out across America today:

 South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley:

South Carolina’s educational system has at times faced challenges of equity, quality and leadership – challenges that cannot be solved by increasing our dependence on federal dollars and the mandates that come with them. Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states. Confirming my commitment to finding South Carolina solutions to South Carolina challenges, I am pleased to support [Senator Fair’s] efforts to reverse the 2010 decision to adopt common core standards.

While I understand and agree with looking outside South Carolina for ideas to improve educational outcomes, I firmly believe that our government and our people should retain as much local control over programs as possible. The solution to many of South Carolina’s educational challenges will be found by sending more of our limited resources to the classroom and offering educational choices to meet the needs of South Carolina’s students. Our children deserve swift action and the passage of a clean resolution that will allow our State to reclaim control of and responsibility for educating South Carolinians.  -excerpted from Governor Haley’s public letter to Senator Fair of South Carolina http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/sc-gov-nikki-haley-backs-bill-to-block-common-core-standards/    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/10/obamas-education-plan-gets-closer-look/

South Carolina’s Senator Mike Fair ‘s bill (S.604) simply stated:

The State Board may not adopt and the State Department may not implement the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Any actions taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards as of the effective date of this section are void ab initio. http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess119_2011-2012/bills/604.htm

Why did Senator Fair write that bill for South Carolina’s educational freedom from Common Core?

Senator Fair explained in an op/ed piece for the Greenville News:

“…If the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover?  Simple– the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core.  Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom.

And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard…  The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core– standards that had not even been published yet… By the way, South Carolina wasn’t awarded Race to the Top money, so we sold our education birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.” http://www.electmikefair.com/?p=220

Texas’ Governor Perry said:

“I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national standards and tests” — excerpt from Gov. Rick Perry’s letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/O-DuncanArne201001130344.pdf

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott explained:

The standards were “originally sold to states as voluntary, [but] states have now been told that participating in national standards and national testing would be required as a condition of receiving federal discretionary grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),” Scott wrote. “Texas has chosen to preserve its sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools…”  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

 Patricia Wright, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, said:

“…If we had taken the 249   million dollars, would I go to the General Assembly and then ask the General Assembly for more money to meet the federal requirements [to implement Common Core]?  No.  That is not the Virginia way.”  http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/02/video-national-academic-standards-pose-threat-to-local-control-of-education/

Virginia’s School Board explained why it opposed Common Core: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/common_core/index.shtml

“The Board of Education supported — and continues to support — the development of internationally benchmarked standards for states to adopt outright or to use as models to improve their own standards. The board, however, opposes the use of federal rulemaking and the peer review process as leverage to compel word-for-word adoption of the Common Core State Standards.”

The Virginia State Board of Education sent out a press release June 24, 2010 announcing its unanimous adoption of the following statement at its June 24, 2010, meeting in Richmond:

“The Board of Education is committed to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) program and opposed to adoption of the newly developed Common Core State Standards as a prerequisite for participation in federal competitive grant and entitlement programs.

“[Virginia’s] Standards of Learning are clear and rigorous and have won the acceptance and trust of Virginia educators. Whatever adjustments might be warranted to ensure alignment of the SOL with the Common Core State Standards can be made within the process through which the Board of Education exercises its constitutional authority to establish standards for the commonwealth’s public schools.

…The subtle differences between the SOL and the Common Core do not justify the disruption to instruction, accountability, professional development and teacher preparation that would follow word-for-word adoption.

• Adoption of the Common Core would leave teachers without curriculum frameworks, scope and sequence guides and other materials specifically aligned with the standards students are expected to meet. Experience shows that these supports are critical to successful standards based reform.

• Virginia’s accountability program is built on a validated assessment system aligned with the SOL; validated assessments aligned with the Common Core do not exist.

• Virginia’s investment in the Standards of Learning since 1995 far exceeds the $250 million Virginia potentially could have received by abandoning the SOL and competing in phase two of Race to the Top.

 Alaska’s Dept. of Education said:

The Race to the Top application didn’t ask open-ended questions about what states think will work… We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a losing battle. We wanted to formulate our own plan…[Alaska] would like to be the entity that declares its own standards.”  -Eric Fry, spokesman for Alaska’s Department of Education.  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

Massachusetts Almost Rejected Common Core:

Massachusetts State officials wanted assurances that national standards would not dilute existing state frameworks.

MA Education Secretary Paul Reville has said the Commonwealth would not adopt the common core standards if they were lower than those established in the state. “We are not going to endorse anything that is not at least as rigorous as our own standards,” Reville told the Boston Globe.  Minnesota also cited concerns over the math standards as reasons not to adopt the Common Core.  But, caving to political pressure, Massachusetts did give in, at last.  http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/03/25/alaska-texas-reject-common-core-standards

  Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor of education at the University of Arkansas and a member of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, oversaw the development of Massachusetts’s earlier standards. She said the common core frameworks would be a step down for Massachusetts.    http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Reasons%20for%20not%20signing%20off%20on%20Common%20Core’s%20final%20standards.pdf

Caving to political pressure eventually, however, Massachusetts adopted the Common Core in 2010.

Minnesota:

  Minnesota opted half-in, half-out:  State Rep. Carlos Mariani  (D-St. Paul), chairman of the Minnesota House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight Committee said:

“It is a fact that state legislators are leery of what federal involvement means… Given the federal government’s less than honorable history in under-providing special education funding after mandating it as a priority, we are prudent to be skeptical.”   http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2010/08/13/minnesota-rejects-common-core-math-standards

Minnesota has opted out of the math portion of the Common Core national frameworks. The Gopher State was among the first to join the  effort by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009 to develop common English and math frameworks. But now Minnesota officials have decided to step back—and risk losing a portion of federal Race to the Top and Title I funds—in order to maintain control of their own education standards.”

Although Alabama adopted Common Core, that may  soon change.

In Alabama, a group of liberty-minded women have worked hard to pass a resolution that has been cosponsored by organizations in many other states.  http://www.nfrw.org/documents/convention/2011/program.pdf    See below.

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION

Defeat National Standards for State Schools Passed Unanimously at the NFRW36th Biennial Convention Kansas City, MO – October 1, 2011

WHEREAS, The national standards-based “Common Core State Standards” initiative is the centerpiece of the Obama’s Administration’s agenda to centralize education decisions at the federal level;

WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is using the same model to take over education as it used for healthcare by using national standards and boards of bureaucrats, whom the public didn’t elect and can’t fire or otherwise hold accountable;

WHEREAS, National standards remove authority from States over what is taught in the classroom and how it is tested;

WHEREAS, National standards undercut the principle of federalism on which our nation was founded;

WHEREAS, There is no constitutional or statutory authority for national standards, national curricula, or national assessments and in fact the federal government is expressly prohibited from endorsing or dictating state/local decisions about curricula; and

WHEREAS, The Obama Administration is attempting to evade constitutional and statutory prohibitions to move toward a nationalized public-school system by (1) funding to date more than $345 million for the development of national curriculum and test questions, (2) tying national standards to the Race to the Top charter schools initiative in the amount of $4.35 billion, (3) using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) to pressure State Boards of Education to adopt national standards with the threat of losing Title 1 Funds if they do not, and (4) requesting Congress to include national standards as a requirement in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act (No Child Left Behind);

BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Federation of Republican Women vote to encourage all State Federation Presidents to share information about national standards with their local clubs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That State Federation Presidents ask their members to (1) contact their State Boards of Education members and request that they retain control over academic standards, curriculum, instruction and testing,  (2) contact their Congress Members and request that they (i) protect the constitutional and statutory prohibitions against the federal government endorsing or dictating national standards, (ii) to refuse to tie national standards to any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, (iii) defund “Race to the Top” money, and (iv) prohibit any more federal funds for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including funds to assessment and curriculum writing consortia, and (3) spread the word about the threat of a federal government takeover of education.

Submitted by:  Alabama Federation of Republican Women Elois Zeanah, President

Co-Sponsors:

 Nebraska Federation of Republican Women

Delaware Federation of Republican Women

Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women

Georgia Federation of Republican Women

Tennessee Federation of Republican Women

I wish Utah would do the same thing!  We need our educational freedom.  Wake up, everyone!  Please stand against the nationalized oppression of Common Core and stand for liberty and educational sovereignty for states!

Contact our governor and his education advisors:        

Utah Governor Herbert:  http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html

Utah Education Director: ckearl@utah.gov

Utah School Superintendent:  larry.shumway@schools.utah.gov

Utah State School Board: Board@schools.utah.gov

Your local school board:  http://www.onlineutah.com/schooldistricts.shtml

Be that one person whose voice is heard joining the many across our nation that still believe in individual rights.

Take a high-heeled stand-up moment for freedom.

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