Archive for the ‘Stop Common Core’ Tag

Who’s Trump Pick for Education?   5 comments

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I agree with Joy Pullman: “I shouldn’t have to give a flying fig about whom Donald Trump picks for this position.”

But we care, and the figs are flying, because there’s so much power unconstitutionally wielded by the executive branch over local education.

Although Trump did say in a campaign interview that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Education,  it does not look as though that’s going to happen, sadly.  The next best thing is to name a local-control oriented, constitution-loving Education Secretary.

Will Trump do that?

Trump’s choice of ed guru Bill Evers to his transition team spoke hope to those opposed to Common Core.   Evers, a scholar at Hoover Institute (Stanford University) had been speaking out and writing bookswhite papersthink tank documents, and columns against Common Core; he served on panels and published opinion editorials  against the nationalization of our formerly autonomous educational system.  He’d been featured widely for his scholarship and activism; see for example, Breitbart, CSPAN, Stanford UniversityUtahns Against Common Core, Education Reporter.

Evers proclaimed that Common Core “violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling” and said that “Common Core’s national uniformity runs counter to competitive federalism”.

Surely Evers would turn the Common Core machine around, thought parents and freedom loving teachers across this nation, and they took action.

A public letter from United States Parents Involved in Education last week pleaded with Trump to choose Dr. Bill Evers for Education Secretary.  (See who signed that letter here.)

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A similar public  letter from Parents Against Common Core asked Trump to consider, along with Dr. Bill Evers, Dr. Larry Arnn, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Peg Luksik, or Dr. William Jeynes.

You can still sign that letter here.

Frighteningly though, this week Trump interviewed Michelle Rhee, one of the top ten scariest education reformers in the nation, for the job; the scandal-pocked former Commissioner of Education in D.C. and author of a creepy ed reform book, “Radical” is no friend to children, to opt-out liberty, or to the free market.  Of “letting them choose wherever they want to go,” she said, “I don’t believe in that model at all.”  So, Goodbye freedom, under Rhee.

There should be no chance that she’s chosen.  (Even though she’s suddenly, cutely, dressing in red, white and blue to meet the president elect, do not be fooled!)

I hope Trump’s receiving a storm of anti-Rhee letters this week from parents and educators at his public input website.  He’s probably going to make his announcement this week.  Please, please speak up.

 

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#BillEvers for Secretary!  #NeverRhee!

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Common Core, Freedom, and Donald Trump   5 comments

 

Here are 6 reasons that a vote for Trump will help preserve freedoms for our children– including freedom from Common Core– contrasted with 6 reasons that a vote for Hillary (or a third party who can’t beat her) will dramatically reduce the future freedoms of our children.  

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Reason #1:   Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience

Hillary’s aiming to remove religious liberty and freedom of conscience from schools and from society.  She has called for this:

All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced… laws have to be backed up with resources and political will.  And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”    (see video minute 8-9)

Trump supports religious freedom!  He supports the important First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) of Senator Mike Lee, which aims to preserve religious liberty.  Trump has also said:

“‘I would like them to pray for guidance and to pray for our country because we need prayer now almost more than we’ve ever needed it before.”

How might presidential stands for or against religious liberty trickle down into school curricula, and into laws concerning churches and homes?

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Reason # 2: Trump’s opposed to Common Core. 

His campaign video  about education explains that America must “end Common Core,” which he calls “a disaster” because “education has to be local“. At rallies like this one in Wilmington, North Carolina, he’s said:  “We’ve got to get rid of Common Core.”

On a Fox News interview, when asked if he would cut departments, Trump said, “I may cut the Department of Education“.

In the March presidential debate, Trump said,Education through Washington, D.C., I don’t want that.  I want local education.  I want the parents and I want all of the teachers, and I want everybody to get together around a school and to make education great.”  This contrasts greatly with Hillary, who mocked local control.

She called Common Core nothing more than a “political failure.” She said, “…this was a political failure because they negotiated something and they had no real agreed-upon program for explaining it and selling it to people so that they left an opening for those who were always in the education debate, who don’t think anybody should be told anything about what to study, even if it’s the multiplication tables.  You know, that that should all be left to local control. And then you get into more complicated areas, as we all know, that that’s just totally off limits.”  

Reason # 3:    Trump’s got Evers.

Trump’s opposition to the Common Core machine aren’t just words. Check out who Trump chose for an education advisor:  Williamson “Bill” Evers.

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Trump’s choice of ed guru Bill Evers speaks volumes to those who are opposed to Common Core.   Evers, a scholar at Hoover Institute (Stanford University) has been influencing lawmakers, writing bookswhite papersthink tank documents, and columns; has served on panels and has published opinion editorials  against Common Core for years.  See more on Evers at:  Breitbart, CSPAN, Stanford UniversityUtahns Against Common Core.

I had the honor of helping to transport Evers to a Stop Common Core speaking engagement in Salt Lake City a few years ago.  I remember the leather satchel he carried, which overflowed with books– all titles about federalism and states’ rights.

Read his stuff.  Again and again, Evers has explained that Common Core “has violated the traditions of open debate and citizen control that are supposed to undergird public schooling.”  Evers could turn the whole Common Core machine around if he were permitted to serve as presidential advisor under Donald Trump.

 

Reason #4:  Trump’s free from the NEA and AFT (abortion-promoting) national teachers unions, which fully endorse Hillary.

Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) back Hillary Clinton, and both financially uphold Planned Parenthood and other controversial groups and initiatives.

Even so, when Hillary presented her keynote speech at the recent National Education Association (NEA) conference, she was booed  –why?

She spoke of cooperation between public charter schools and public schools.  She’s not talking about sporting events or dances, folks.  She wants all schools to  be controlled by her public-private partner-shipping elite agenda.

Democratic-leaning NEA takes an anti-charter stand, but Hillary is aiming to play both sides with her private-public school initiatives.  She knows that the Common Core machine is comprised of two machines, both of whom she needs:  the corporate machine, comprised of Pearson, Microsoft/Gates, etc. (these make money starting charters and selling ed tech aligned to common standards) and the government machine (this gains control by using common data mining systems and common tests and teacher evaluations).  This is what Hillary is speaking of when she speaks of her educational technology agenda, built on public-private partnerships).

Trump doesn’t need Gates’, Pearson’s, the NEA’s, or the AFT’s funds, and he’s not bound to their political standards.  Hillary, though,  is bound;  Bill Gates, her Foundation’s top $25 Million+ donor, remember, is also the leading promoter of Common Core Education and Data Mining.  He was almost her vice presidential pick.  Hillary’s not about to get rid of Gates’ precious baby, the Common Core.

Reason #5:  Trump’s not about Hillary’s 1998 Marc Tucker successful conspiracy against local control.  

The infamous Tucker-Hillary letter, a detailed plot outlining how Hillary and Tucker planned to turn America into a socialistic machine using national school standards and “large scale data management systems” (school-work data) is part of the Congressional Record from 1998.  You can read the PDF files of each page of Marc Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter in the 1998 Congressional Record through these links: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7

Hillary and Tucker are still working hard to implement their plot, nearly twenty years later.  Tucker‘s at NCEE, where his reports still spout sickening ideas such as: “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control“.  Meanwhile, Hillary’s whole “Initiative on Technology and Innovation” is a detailed, updated extension of their 1998 conspiracy letter against local control.

Will Americans be smart enough to decipher her witchery of wordplay to see her plan for what it really is?

 

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Reason #6:  Life Itself

Hillary has a commitment to increase the number of abortion deaths in this country, and she’s coming for your guns. Trump will uphold  rights for gun ownership and is against the killing of babies.

Whose vision keeps children safe?  How will voting third-party bless children?

If you want your home –or local school– to have defenders– gun-owning teachers and principals—  and if you believe as our founders did, that self-defense and gun ownership are vital American values, vote for Trump.

If you want to be disarmed and at the mercy of an unaccountable government, and if you are comfortable with the murder of babies, then vote for a third party candidate, or Hillary.  It is the same.

A final note:

Many of my constitution-loving friends are voting for Castle (or McMullin) and tell  me that Trump is only slightly, if at all, better than Hillary, and say that voting for either Trump or Hillary is condoning evil and will thus draw the displeasure of God.

I beg to differ.

God holds us accountable for the world we allow to come upon our children by our votes– far more so, I imagine, than He weighs our dream vote or “statement” vote which we might cast for a candidate who will never be elected to stand against our actual enemy.

Is just “what’s in our hearts” what matters here– or is what matters the real vote, a vote for actual power, that affects actual lives, and actual deaths?

Trump’s commitment to the American dream’s basic foundation: religious liberty, self-defense/gun rights, educational liberty, the right to life, and freedom from governmental micromanagement, are unarguably, eternally significant differences between these, the only two candidates who are within hope of winning this presidential election.

Will not the consequences of voting for Hillary (or third party)– thus enabling the loss of the basic American rights outlined above– draw greater grief and displeasure from God?

I believe so.

Please vote Trump.

Don’t Vote for “Education First” (Common Core) Candidates!   8 comments

My friends and neighbors are receiving mailers this week that look like this.

When my husband saw this, he said, “So what? What’s so bad about Education First?”

Glad he asked.

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Here’s the short version:  Education First = Common Core.  

If you love Common Core and federal-corporate takeover of local control, vote for Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert.  That’s what they and their funders, Education First, stand for, and will be pressured to vote for.  Past legislative sessions have shown this to be the case, in the very own words of the co-chairs of Education First.

If you love local control of education, with local children (not monied lobbyists) being put first, vote for Johnson, Greene, Voeks and Philpot.

These are in my area; ask any Utah candidates if they’ve accepted money from Education First.

If they have, they are either ignorant and thus incompetent to see through the maze of deceptions they’ll encounter as legislators, or they really believe in the idealogy of the Common Core.

Please vote for candidates Jonathan Johnson (Governor), Brian Greene (UT Rep), Casey Voeks (UT County Commissioner) and Morgan Philpot (State Senate) –each of whom refused Education First money– instead of candidates Herbert, Haynie and Hemmert (who are all paid campaign babies of Education First).

Here’s the longer explanation:

In 2012, Education First sent out a letter to every legislator in the state of Utah.  A legislator showed me his letter, and I posted much of it.

The letter told legislators that Education First had, and would continue, to “champion Common Core implementation”  with “consensus support for Utah’s utilization of Common Core“.

It also explained that Education First had partnered with Governor Herbert’s “Prosperity 2020” movement –which is modeled after Obama’s 2020 movement– to put business-governmental financial partnerships first– but they call this, instead, putting “education first”.

The Education First letter said, “Prosperity and Education First comprise the largest business-led education movement in state history.”

There’s a big problem with Education First “leading” and promoting workforce alignment to K-12, especially in “partnership” with the government.

If Susie Q. wants to be an entrepreneur or a ballerina, Big Business has no business pushing her into truck driving or computer coding –even if,  during Susie Q’s high school years, the business sector says it needs more truck drivers or coders.

That’s central planning, and it’s un-American.

Big business, in partnership with big government, wants to make pathways for children based on “robust assessment”.  Ugh!  Can you say China?

Why should free, American children be pressured and funneled into  career paths determined by central planners (governmental-business forecasts)?  Since when is the American Dream to be determined by others, and not by individual Americans?   That’s the “citizens are grains of rice and the collective consumes the rice bowl” mentality.

What can we expect from Herbert, Haynie, Hemmert, and others who have taken large sums of money from the Education First lobby?

Let’s look at the evidence.

The co-chairs of Education First co-wrote a Salt Lake Tribune opinion editorial this March, praising the legislature for funding many of the bills for which Education First had lobbied, including bills for: workforce development (which is China-styled central planning) early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), personalized learning (which is a euphemism for digital everything; impersonal, privacy-killing “learning”) and community schools (which is Obama’s socialistic vision that integrates healthcare with academics and socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”).  Is that what you want?  Not me!

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2014 that Governor Herbert (whose baby is Prosperity 2020, the partner of Education First) had appointed Rich Kendall (the co-chair of Education First) to assess the pros and cons of the Common Core in 2014.  So no one should have been surprised to find out that Kendall’s committee found the Common Core to be “sound, legal and rigorous”.  Were Kendall’s and Herbert’s Common Core committee’s findings correct?

Not according to the the Utah GOP which found quite the opposite, announcing that  Common Core was:   “a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between … unelected boards and consortia” that “violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a… (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS)…  pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted,  penalties including loss of funds”.

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There is a big problem with Education First loving and promoting Common Core as if it were good for everyone, as if it weren’t suffocating innovation for localities and teachers, as if the Utah GOP wasn’t officially opposed to it.  There’s also a big problem with Education First trying to lead education, marginalizing local citizens because their “leadership” means siphoning off most education dollars from teachers and students toward big ed tech sales companies, while setting up data mining programs approved by federal (unconstitutional) initiatives (not approved by moms and dads.)

 

Since Education First gives huge marketing dollars to newbie candidates like Dan Hemmert and Xanie Haynie and to incumbents like Gary Herbert, we naturally see their billboards EVERYWHERE, and far fewer billboards for the stalwart, unbought candidates: Morgan Philpot, Brian Greene, Casey Voeks and Jonathan Johnson.

Education First invests huge money in the candidates that they foresee being able to control when they are in the legislature, so that later, Education First can make more big money, all at our expense and at the expense of our children.

See through this, please.

I have personally spoken, face to face, with the Education First-funded candidates. They are nice people; this is NOT a personal attack.  I would be happy to be their neighbors or co-workers or dog-walkers.  But I am totally unwilling to let them put their hands on the levers of real power –when I can see that they either don’t understand, or lack a healthy fear, of what Education First lobbies and promotes.

 

Video: Michelle Malkin Roasts Common Core-Based GOP at CPAC Speech   5 comments

Watch this!

At minute 2:30, Malkin starts in on Common Core.

“It’s not people outside the party that have thrown the conservative, grassroots base under the bus.  It’s the people who have paid lip service to limited government while gorging on it.  It wasn’t any outside candidate that is not a part of our movement… it was not outsiders, who are not familiar with our movement, who conspired with the establishment on Common Core.  That was Republicans– who threw us under the bus.  That was Republicans who are con men.  And it was the heart and soul of conservative, grassroots activists, mostly everyday, ordinary moms, who shamed the Republican Party elites into backing away.

“And now what are they doing?  The same thing that they always do when grassroots conservatives call them out:  they smear the people who fought against them and who call them out.  They sneer at them as hysterical.  They sneer at them as just “fringe movements” on the Internet.  And then they go and campaign on our side, knowing that they’ve stabbed us.  My job is not to tell people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

“We just had Governor John Kasich, a nice guy, by all means, who last night, during the debate, pretended that he was on the side of local control.  Ohio grassroots activists and moms know better.  This is a man who smeared home schoolers and teachers for their opposition to Common Core.  I am telling you the truth.  I am asking you to do your homework.  I am asking you to follow the money.  I know it isn’t what you want to hear.  But do you want to hear the same Republicans promise you, as they have been, since 1981, that they’re going to abolish the Federal Department of Education?  It’s an empty talking point. And those empty talking points need to be punctured like helium balloons.”

“There are three reasons why Jeb Bush failed:  his last name, his support for Amnesty, and his cheerleading and cashing in on Common Core.”

 

 

Thank you for speaking the truth, Michelle Malkin.

 

Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee from Charlotte Iserbyt: #STOPESEA   1 comment

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Former U.S. Department of Education Senior Policy Advisor Charlotte Iserbyt, patriot, whistleblower, and author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, has written an open letter to Senator Mike Lee of Utah, which is posted with her permission below.  She asks him to follow up on his speech  about the mishandling of the ESEA bill, by working to postpone further votes until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s failure to adhere to Congressional Procedural Laws in regards to this bill.

Please read and share this letter, especially with the most freedom-friendly members of the House of Representatives, whose twitter handles are here.

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Dear Senator Lee,

You, Senator Lee, appear to be a friend of parents, teachers and plain grassroots Americans who have serious concerns related to the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB).

A significant number of parents and teachers wonder if the most effective way to stop the Reauthorization of ESEA might be for you to request a delay in the House vote Wednesday, December 2, due not to the controversial nature of the bill, but to the circumvention of procedural requirements in passage of all legislation by the Congress.

Concerned parents, teachers and others who have been following the history of this legislation believe there have been important and disturbing irregularities in the normal procedure related to enactment of legislation.

What has transpired since Janary when HR5 was first being considered is itself interesting.

Our first concern was when, in February, Rep. John Kline postponed the House Education Committee vote on HR5 (Student Success Act) knowing he didn’t have enough Republican votes for passage.  His excuse was that an urgent Homeland Security vote took precedence.

We know that Sen. Alexander wanted to move very fast with his version of the Reauthorization of ESEA.  All of us kept wondering when he would get his Senate bill in shape for a Committee vote.  It took Alexander from January to July to feel comfortable in moving ahead, only after Rep. Kline managed to get a five vote majority on HR5 (Student Success Act) in July.  Those of us who watched the House vote on C-SPAN can attest to Kline’s HR5 initially losing by a substantial number of votes.  Suddenly, after the Congressional clock stopped ticking, the necessary five votes for passage came in.  Shouldn’t that be investigated?

We parents and teachers, and other groups opposed to this legislation, ask you to speak out (formally) regarding the Senate and House Education Committee’s not following the procedural rules required for passage of legislation.

You certainly recognized that what happened in the Conference Committee’s handling of the last stages of passage of this bill was illegal, and we thank you so much for making a public statement  in that regard.

 

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah:

“So, from the surface it will still look like the conference process is happening, is unfolding in the manner in which it is supposed to, but beneath the surface we know that all of this has already been prearranged, precooked, predetermined by a select few Members of Congress working behind closed doors free from scrutiny, and we know this vote was scheduled on extremely short notice so it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of us to influence the substance of the conference report through motions to instruct.”

Could you, Senator Lee, request a postponement of any further votes by the House or Senate until an investigation is made into the House and Senate’s strict adherence to Congressional Procedural Laws in regard to the Reauthorization of ESEA?

Such a postponement would allow for not only Congress to have more time and input into the legislation, but for grassroots Americans (not the usual lobbyists who attend all hearings) to  have more time to express our opposition to what we consider legislation which will end forever many of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Constitution.

Thank you very much for whatever consideration you can give to this Open Letter.

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

Former Senior Policy Advisor

U.S. Department of Education

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Six Evil Things Hidden in S.1177 — “No Child Left Behind” 2.0   24 comments

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Protecting our children from increasing oppressions and loss of freedoms will require not allowing federal S.1177 to pass.

The name of S.1177, which now sits in the Senate on Capitol Hill,  is also: “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” “No Child Left Behind – rewritten,” “Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” and is virtually the same as House Bill HR5, “The Student Success Act” which passed the House yesterday.

In my own mind I have given all its versions this name: Nasty Orwellian Progressive Education (NOPE) –a convenient, more honest, and recyclable title.  We will surely have to recycle S.1177 and its clones because it will not die. Although it died in HR5 form in Congress earlier this year, thanks to We the People being alert and active,  now it has risen, passed the House as HR5– and will rise again until that relentless, growing clique (Duncan/Gates/Tucker/Pearson NGA/NCSL/CCSSO/REL/ et al) gets its way–  until there is no longer any such thing as student privacy or local autonomy in any school.  If you think I’m exaggerating, please study the words and actions of each of those ed reform moguls.

I decided to skim the near-800 page bill using American Principles Project’s 21 items as my guide.  The hide and seek that readers must wield with the real purposes and powers of this bill is ridiculous.  Clearly, the authors of S.1177 aim to obscure its true purposes, which I now see only serve the Obama-UN agenda for education.

The media’s calling S.1177 “a bipartisan compromise” but that’s far from true.  It’s all part of the Common Core bipartisan profiteering scheme that aligns federal tests and standards, but elbows out parents and voters.  Many in Congress are fooled, but don’t you be fooled by the word “bipartisan” –nor by the bill’s misleading talking points.

The power struggle is no longer between the Republicans and the Democrats.  Bipartisan means almost nothing.  The fight is between voting families– We the People, whether Democratic, Republican or other– versus the clique of profiteering businessmen and politicians.  Those who profit in money or with the power that increased data mining provides, each profit from the standardization and nationalization of testing, data standards, education standards, accountability measures, and aligned curriculum.

When I tried to call again and again to alert the U.S.  senators, it was impossible to get through.   So the effort of grassroots is kicking where it counts. Please, call senators again, every day.  Call Sen. LaMar Alexander and Patty Murray after your own senators and board members.  Bonus:  you can very, very quickly tweet to all Senators repeatedly by clicking here.  If you do not yet have a free Twitter account, please do it now by clicking here.  It is easy.

Killing this bill ought to be easy because nobody likes No Child Left Behind, that ugly federal law, and this is its big brother.  Ask any teacher, any principal, any politician in any party.  NCLB blessed no child and was a bureaucratic quagmire.  Why did its reauthorization successfully pass the Senate committee– unanimously— in April after being stopped in its tracks in March?  And why is S.1177 onstage again?  The answer is simple: because the states have become addicted to federal money and many are selling souls to get it.

Passing S.1177 based on money-fear is pure stupidity.  More school funding comes from local sources, by FAR, than from federal funds, and ugly strings are attached to the federal money– strings that take away freedom, privacy rights, a say over our own schools.  If we’d be courageous and fiscally responsible, and fire most of the outrageous salary-consumers at state offices of education and the entire federal Dept of Ed, we’d have abundant cash for legitimate school needs. Plenty.  We should be retaining local dollars, rather than sending them to D.C. to be redistributed back to some of us, conditionally.  It’s common sense.

So here is my little list.


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Six Things That I Find Evil, Hidden in S.1177

 

1.   The bill aims to kill parental rights in the parental opt-out movement.

Taking away a parent’s authority over his or her own child is a crime that the Fed Ed is willing to try to get away with.  This bill says that states must not only give federally aligned common core tests (they use the code term “college and career ready” which is Common Core) but must collect data from 95 percent of the students.  That aims to kill our huge, growing parents’ opt out movement.  The bill says, “Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students”. (1111)

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2.  The bill’s master-servant relationship between Fed Ed and State Ed is unconstitutional.

I don’t like the master-servant relationship between the Fed Ed agencies and the State agencies.  It’s clearly, clearly unconstitutional.  States are supposed to be in charge of their own educational systems.  But in this bill, read: “The state shall submit,”  and “The Secretary [Fed Ed] shall have power to disapprove a state plan” (Sec. 1111)   “If a State makes significant changes to its plan at any time…  such information shall be submitted to the Secretary”.  That just gives the Fed Ed Secretary power to disapprove a state’s decision to drop Common Core.  (Sec. 1111)

Cementing Common Core is not what the authors of S.1177 said were the goals of the bill, yet there it is.  Putting parents last, and making states do the dirty work for the false authorities at the Department of Education, is a deceptive way of getting people to think that there’s less federal involvement, a misleading attempt to get conservative people to pass this bill.

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3.  The bill will suppress student expression of religious and political values.

I don’t like the bill’s repeated use of the concept and term  “school climate” –for example, in conditional “formula grants”.  These give the federal government power to model citizenship, to influence what is a federally appropriate world-view, and to pressure schools to suppress student expression of religious values, using each state as enforcer.  (Sec. 4103-4104).  The bill says that money will be conditionally given and that data gathered by the school will determine whether a student holds appropriate beliefs in the “school climate”.  This will allow absolute federal indoctrination in local schools. If family values don’t match Fed Ed values, there will be federally-directed school-based re-education.

Here’s the very wordy sentence that unsuccessfully aims to hides its true aim, asking for collection of “school-level data on indicators or measures of school quality, climate and safety, and discipline, including those described in section 1111(d)(1)(C)(v); and risk factors in the community, school, family, or peer-individual domains that are known, through prospective, longitudinal research efforts, to be predictive of drug use, violent behavior, harassment, disciplinary issues, and having an effect on the physical and mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.”

That pressures schools to conform to federal definitions of mental health, and forces schools to collect longitudinal data to build and analyze children’s psychological profiles.   Schools wanting federal money must intervene if a student’s “mental health” or potential access to “violence” needs “mentoring”. (“Violence” by whose definition? Owning a hunting rifle –or even not being opposed to others owning them– is a data point for violence prediction in progressive surveys I’ve read) Does a child get federally approved “mentoring” and “referral” if he/she reports that his family owns and will always own guns, or if he/she reports that we teach that homosexuality is a perversion of God’s plan of happiness?

The bill says:  “may include, among other programs and activities— drug and violence prevention activities and programs, including professional development and training for school and specialized instructional support personnel and interested community members in prevention, education, early identification, and intervention mentoring, and, where appropriate, rehabilitation referral, as related to drug and violence prevention… extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time…  school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms…  and appropriate referrals to direct individual or group counseling services” (4105)

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4.  The bill sees government, not families, at the center of the universe– for younger and younger people, for more and more of the time.

I don’t like the way federal schools are creeping into the community life via this bill.  It allots money to fulfill Sec. Duncan’s “21st –century community learning centers” (Sec. 4201)  I don’t like that this bill consumes more family time, giving so much time to government schools.   The “community creep” of Fed Ed schools expands in multiple ways if S.1177 passes.  The Fed Ed Secretary will pay “programs that support extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time; in accordance with subsections (c) and (d), school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms” — which means more government surveillance of belief and behavior, via more time spent with Fed Ed, and less time spent with Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.

I noticed that “and community” is attached after the word “school” repeatedly.  School and community.  School and community.  School and Community.  Why?  What business does the school have, expanding its creep into the community?  Yet that’s exactly what Secretary Duncan has been calling for, for years.  (See the old Charlie Rose interview on Youtube here, where Duncan asks for 6-7 day a week school, extremelylong days, all year round, with school replacing home or church as community center.)

 

5.  The bill promotes federal definitions of mental health and promotes collection of mental health data.

I don’t like the bill’s assumption that fed ed defines mental health correctly, and for everyone.  I don’t like that it promotes even more data mining than we already have inflicted upon our children.

The bill’s long, long, long, long sentences hide a lot, probably on purpose.  So I’ve cut phrases to highlight what I see under the wordiness. Let me know what you think.  Am I reading this wrong?

stealth

 

“The local educational agency or consortium… shall take into account… school-level data on…   family… predictive of … mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.” (See 4104)

So if a family teaches anything that varies from the federal opinion, it may expect trouble?  If your child reported in a school survey, essay, or in a report which a child unknowingly gave via embedded assessment or stealth assessment—  that you have taught them that God and biology proclaim that marriage is between a man and a woman, for example, expect trouble.  If you taught that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means that property ownership is noble and that social justice or redistribution is legalized plunder, expect trouble.  If you teach that transgender-identified children ought to be loved, but never enabled to perform unalterable gender altering surgeries, expect trouble.   Under a host of other issues identified as federally-politically-correct, your family teachings may not be compliant with federal definitions of mental “well-being” of youth.”  Government, not families, are at the center of the universe when school data is gathered on children without parental consent,  used to judge families’ and students’ psychological, religious or belief-based attitudes.

 

Data Baby

 

6.  Toddler Snatching.

I don’t like that the bill puts it hands on preschoolers.  It bullies preschools, too, by mandating federal preschool standards to be enforced by states, as it encourages states to take over toddler time from moms and dads.  I don’t like the time-away-from-family aim nor the data mining aim (without consent of parents, of course). Preschool babies are to be psychologically profiled by the state.  The bill does not state this plainly. You have to connect the dots:  the word “preschool” shows up 43 times in the bill.  Statewide preschool standards align with federal standards, creating nationalization of measurement of citizen babies; federal standards are heavily socio-emotional; it all results in the compilation of psychological data on very young children.  We already had the Dept. of Ed and its partners co-creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) the better to align everyone with, without voter input, and these folks wave banners with their motto (fourth principle) : “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation  of students’ personal data.   Your specific, individual child is wanted in their clutches.  That’s what disaggregation means:  not in a clump; individual.

toddler

 

I happen to have a toddler, who will never attend government preschool.  Since my toddler has been watching VeggieTales for too long I’m going to quit right here and right now and take off to the park.  I will be speed dialing senators with one hand while pushing the swing with the other, and hope you do the same.

Any one of these six are ample reason to kill this bill, but if you want more,  please take the time to read 21 reasons to oppose S.1177 provided by the American Principles Project.

The ground is beginning to rumble on S.1177 because so many people reading the actual language in the bill.  Alongside the summary of the American Principles Project above, see what Massachusetts parents are saying about S.1177.  See what Missouri parents are saying, here and here.   See what Indiana parents are saying.   See what Florida parents are saying, here and here.

Then call, call, call.

 

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MORE INFO:george

 

 

Look at more actual language found in S.1177  “THE EVERY CHILD ACHIEVES ACT” (duplicated on my other post here.)

  • Pretending to protect states and parents from federal overreach using redundant, nonhelpful (and contradictory) language:

First the bill raises our hopes; the talking points sound good; maybe this won’t be a federal sledgehammer to parents and states.  The bill’s sections 5001-5010 (a large chunk of the very large bill)  even go under the title “Empowering Parents and Expanding Opportunity Through Innovation”.  Sounds nice.  But deep inside, the bill almost conceals ugly and unconstitutional words like this:

“State plan disapproval: The Secretary shall have the authority to disapprove a State plan” –1004

“If the Secretary determines that a State plan does not meet the requirements of this subsection or subsection (b) or (c), the Secretary shall, prior to declining to approve the State plan immediately notify the State of such determination… offer the State an opportunity to revise” –1111

“A State educational agency may use not more than 5 percent of the amount made available to the State… for the following activities…”

“Closing student achievement gaps, and preparing more students to be college and career ready” -2501(4)    (Making everyone common does tend to close the achievement gaps, by slowing those who would otherwise soar ahead of the mediocre and the slow.)

  • Cementing the unconstitutional Fed-Master/State-Servant relationship:

“State plan disapproval: The Secretary shall have the authority to disapprove a State plan” –1004

“For any State desiring to receive a grant under this part, the State educational agency shall submit to the Secretary a plan…” – 1111

  • Retaining federal testing and standards mandates:

“Same standards: … standards required by subparagraph (A) shall be the same standards that the State applies to all public schools and public school students” –1111   (Do you want to give the feds the authority to dictate uniformity to us?  What if a state wants to be innovative and diverse and various? That won’t be allowed by this federal law.)

“Alignment: Each State shall demonstrate that the challenging State academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for the system of public higher education in the State; relevant State career and technical education standards; and relevant State early learning guidelines” –1111

“Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students” -1204

“Measure the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students and students in each of the categories of students” – 1205

  • Adding to the list of programs States must consult, and aligning with workforce socialism program:

“(aa) student readiness to enter postsecondary education or the workforce” -1111  (repeated many times)

“an application … shall include the following: A description of… assets, identified by the State… which shall include— an analysis of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education quality and outcomes in the State…  labor market information regarding the industry and business workforce needs within the State….”  –2504

  • Dictating types of testing– including using nonacademic, interpretive, and diagnostic student reports:

“produce individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports…  include information regarding achievement on academic assessments aligned with challenging State academic achievement standards… in  uniform format” –1111(b) (2) (B) (vi) (xiii)

“(vi) involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding, which may include measures of student academic growth and may be partially delivered in the form of portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks” – 1111 (b) (2) (B) (vi)

Assessments must  “be administered through a single summative assessment; or be administered through multiple statewide assessments during the course of the year if the State can demonstrate that the results of these multiple assessments, taken in their totality, provide a summative score” – 1111 (b) (2) (B) (viii)

“(xiii) be developed, to the extent practicable, using the principles of universal design for learning.” – 1111 (b) (2) (B) (xiii)

  • Forcing out the parental opt-out movement; also, booting family out and putting government in to the center of the universe:

Crushing opt outs, each state test must “Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students” -1204

Same:  “Measure the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students and students in each of the categories of students” – 1205

Schools to be far, far more than places to learn numeracy and literacy:  “21st Century Learning Centers… an array of additional services, programs, and activities, such as youth development activities, service learning, nutrition and health education, drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, physical fitness and wellness programs, technology education programs, financial literacy programs, math, science, career and technical programs, internship or apprenticeship programs, and other ties to an in-demand industry sector” – 4201

“address family instability, school climate, trauma, safety, and nonacademic learning.”  -7304

Congress, Please Investigate Gates’ Takeover of US Education; Congress, Stop NCLB rewrite – Every Child Achieves Act 2.0   4 comments

emmett            ravitch

 

Two of my favorite ed reform analysts, Diane Ravitch and Emmett McGroarty come from opposite sides of the political aisle, yet each has called on America to sit up, take notice, and take action against the Common Core movement.

Is Congress too busy, or too conflicted, to pay attention?

Diane Ravitch has long been calling for a Congressional investigation into “Bill Gates’ swift and silent takeover of American education.”  She rightly called Gates’ unelected, leviathan influence an unauthorized coup worthy of Congressional investigation  and wrote, “the idea that the richest man in America can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal.”  

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ravitch’s congressional investigation needs to happen fast, though, because– once again, we and our children are under the gun.

Emmett McGroarty, pointed out this week, at Townhall.com that the “No Child Left Behind” horror is being refried and re-offered to American school children as a worse, sweatier mess of Gates-inspired, CEDS  and Datapalooza -aligned Common Core cement, now being called “The Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA).

Think of the new ECAA bill as the 2.0 –but not from No Child Left Behind only;  also from an earlier version of itself just two months ago.  Remember that this “Every Child Achieves Act” bill went down in flames —  thanks to actual grassroots moms and dads and teachers screaming NO earlier this year.  But it’s risen from the ashes, more sly this time, like a recurring nightmare.

McGroarty writes that the ECAA targets the [parental freedom to say no to high stakes testing] Opt-Out movement. He and co-author Lisa Hudson explain:

It [ECAA] keeps the testing requirements. A state must still have an “accountability system” that includes as a “substantial” factor student performance on standardized tests. It does try to lessen the teach-to-the-test pressures by allowing the state to determine “the weight” of the tests…  But this will not alleviate such pressures. It’s like saying, ‘We’re going to beat you with a wooden bat, not a metal one.’  … each state must demonstrate that it will measure ‘annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students’  …Now is the time for all the senators and representatives who support local control of education and all those who support federalism to stand up and get rid of the federal dictates on how often and in what subjects our children are tested.”

So, if Congress is debating passage of ECAA, and if many in Congress are pushing the bill, will Congress simultaneously investigate Common Core, and its own governmental and business allies?

Keep in mind Diane Ravitch’s call for congressional investigation of Gates and his federal allies:

“The close involvement of Arne Duncan raises questions about whether the law was broken” knowing that Gates, “one very rich man bought the enthusiastic support of interest groups on the left and right to campaign for the Common Core…”

Ravitch’s call needs to be echoed and re-echoed throughout our nation.  She asks:

“Who knew that American education was for sale? Who knew that federalism could so easily be dismissed as a relic of history? Who knew that Gates and Duncan, working as partners, could dismantle and destroy state and local control of education?

The revelation that education policy was shaped by one unelected man, underwriting dozens of groups. and allied with the Secretary of Education, whose staff was laced with Gates’ allies, is ample reason for Congressional hearings.

“…I could not support the Common Core standards because they were developed and imposed without regard to democratic process. The writers of the standards included no early childhood educators, no educators of children with disabilities, no experienced classroom teachers; indeed, the largest contingent of the drafting committee were representatives of the testing industry.

“No attempt was made to have pilot testing of the standards in real classrooms with real teachers and students. The standards do not permit any means to challenge, correct, or revise them.

…The high-handed manner in which these standards were written and imposed in record time makes them unacceptable. These standards not only undermine state and local control of education, but the manner in which they were written and adopted was authoritarian. No one knows how they will work, yet dozens of groups have been paid millions of dollars by the Gates Foundation to claim that they are absolutely vital for our economic future, based on no evidence whatever…. Local boards are best equipped to handle local problems. States set state policy, in keeping with the concept that states are “laboratories of democracy,” where new ideas can evolve and prove themselves… Do we need to compare the academic performance of students in different states? We already have the means to do so with the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)… Will national standards improve test scores? There is no reason to believe so. Brookings scholar Tom Loveless predicted two years ago that the Common Core standards would make little or no difference. The biggest test-score gaps, he wrote, are within the same state, not between states… the most reliable predictors of test scores are family income and family education.

“… at a time when many schools have fiscal problems and are laying off teachers, nurses, and counselors, and eliminating arts programs, the nation’s schools will be forced to spend billions of dollars on Common Core materials, testing, hardware, and software.

“Microsoft, Pearson, and other entrepreneurs will reap the rewards of this new marketplace. Our nation’s children will not.

“Who decided to monetize the public schools?  Who determined that the federal government should promote privatization and neglect public education? … Who decided that schools should invest in Common Core instead of smaller classes and school nurses?

“These are questions that should be asked at Congressional hearings.”

 

Please, please share these thoughts with your Congressional representatives.  Stop the current Every Child Achieves Act.  Don’t let Congressmen tell you that they can’t get involved because education is a states’ issue.  It is!  But because it is a constitutionally designated states’ issue, Congress must get involved and get the feds and the privateers out of our schools.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s June 2015 Testimony at Bridgewater State University – Public Hearing   16 comments

Stotsky_small

Before I post Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s most recent testimony, I will tell you why I am a devoted fan of Dr. Stotsky and why I’m a tomato-thrower at the Common Core version of English Language Arts.

Despite its charming claims, Common Core deforms –not reforms– the English classroom.

Common Core stifles the joy of learning by limiting students’ exposure to imaginative literature, limiting students’ practice of imaginative writing, and pushing students toward utilitarian readings and informational writings.

It also closes what used to be a wide door to the treasure trove of the classics– now the trove is shut, to only a crack.  By their senior year in virtually every high school across this land, American students are only allowed to have 30% of their readings be imaginative or classical readings; 70% is “informational text” under Common Core.  It’s frankly stupid.  But why?

Why the change in focus?

Here’s a clue. Common Core standards were drawn up primarily by a businessman, David Coleman, at Achieve Incorporated.  This workforce and business-eye’s-view explains why Common Core standards focus on language as business, not as heritage. It may explain why Common Core’s centerpiece is imagination-less,  with a focus on teaching impersonal, non-narrative, (aka boring) writing skills.  It may explain why tests aligned to Coleman’s standards invite students to write only from narrow selections of pre-cut opinion samples.

Of course, getting a job is one facet of education; but the Common Core’s dogged focus on that alone, on making individuals into state-inventoried human capital whose purpose is to get skills and get to work, comes at high cost.  One of the costs is literature.

Common Core’s ravishing of proper English education, and its focus on utilitarian, workforce-centric skills above actual literary knowledge, has been amply expressed in white papers, scholarly articles, interviews, books and more, by top literature professors across the United States.  (Please study these professors’ wise words.  I won’t take the space now.)  Dr. Stotsky’s friend, Dr. Anthony Esolen, nutshelled it this way:

“It is rotten because its whole approach to education is wrong; it is based upon a wrong understanding of the human person.  That is why it has no real place for the humanities, reducing them to occasions for scrambling up “skills,” rather than for opportunities to grow wise, to learn how to behold and cherish what is beautiful, and to build up the intellectual / moral virtues…” 

Cheer as Dr. Stotsky stands in the ring, gloves off, representing me, you, and countless teachers and professors, whose dedicated scholarship and love are sunshine and water to sprouting, thriving student minds!  Know that Dr. Stotsky is not someone that America can easily ignore or dismiss: she served on the original validation committee for Common Core ELA standards– and after studying them, she refused to sign them off as being adequate or valid standards; for years thereafter, she has spoken and published on this subject, fighting for the free exercise of academic thought, access to good and proper English education, and meaningful, reasonable school tests.  

As a lifelong author of and professor of curricular standards, as editor of a premier research journal on English teaching, as one who truly understands why legitimate English education is a treasure worth defending, she can right the toppled applecart –if enough people hear what she’s saying.

Please share.  

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   Why Massachusetts Should Abandon the PARCC tests and

      the 2011 Coleman et al English Language Arts Standards

                               on which the MCAS Tests are Based

             Sandra Stotsky

              June 10, 2015

                                                                 

 

Acknowledgments:  I want to thank Chairman Paul Sagan of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for his invitation to testify at the public hearing at Bridgewater State University on whether the Board should abandon the MCAS tests and adopt the PARCC tests. 

Overview of my Testimony:  I first describe my qualifications, as well as the lack of relevant qualifications in Common Core’s standards writers and in most of the members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, on which I served in 2009-2010.  I then detail some of the many problems in the 2011 Massachusetts English language arts (ELA) standards, written by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle (so the document indicates), in the tests based on Common Core’s standards (PARCC), and in the two external reports—one issued in February 2015, the other yet to be completed—comparing the PARCC tests with MCAS tests. I offer several recommendations for parents who want civically sound and academically rigorous standards and tests written and reviewed by English teachers and who want a form of accountability that doesn’t penalize their children’s teachers for results of tests based on either the Coleman et al standards or Common Core’s standards.

I.  My Qualifications: I am professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, where I held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality until retiring in 2012. I was Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) from 1999-2003, in charge of developing or revising the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests, and teacher and administrator licensure regulations. I served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) from 2006-2010, on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel from 2006-2008, and on the Common Core Validation Committee from 2009-2010. I was one of the five members of the Validation Committee who did not sign off on the standards as being rigorous, internationally competitive, or research-based.

I was also editor of the premier research journal, Research in the Teaching of English, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, from 1991 to 1997. I have published extensively in professional journals and written several books. In recent years, I have testified before many state legislative committees and boards on the flaws in Common Core’s standards.

II. Lack of Relevant Qualifications in Common Core’s Standards Writers

The absence of relevant professional credentials in the two standards-writing teams helps to explain the flaws in Common Core’s standards. The two “lead” writers for the ELA standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimentel, have never taught reading or English in K-12 or at the college level. Neither has a doctorate in English or reading. Neither has ever published serious work on K-12 curriculum and instruction. Neither has a reputation for literary scholarship or research in education. At the time they were appointed, they were virtually unknown to English and reading educators and the public at large. They now earn large fees for Student Achievement Partners (their business) consulting to school systems trying to implement their ELA standards.

The three lead standards writers in mathematics were as unknown to K-12 educators as were the lead ELA standards writers. None of the three mathematics standards writers (Phil Daro, William McCallum, and Jason Zimba) had ever developed K-12 mathematics standards that had been used—or used effectively.  The only member of this three-person standards-writing team with K-12 teaching experience had majored in English as an undergraduate (although Phil Daro had taught mathematics at the middle school level for two years).

Who recommended these people as standards writers and why, we still do not know.  No one in the media commented on their lack of credentials for the task they had been assigned.  Indeed, no one in the media showed the slightest interest in their qualifications for standards writing. 

III. Lack of Academic Qualifications in Most Members of the Validation Committee

The federal government did not fund an independent group of experts to evaluate the rigor of the standards, even though it expected the states to adopt them. Instead, the private organizations in charge of the project created their own Validation Committee (VC) in 2009. The VC contained almost no academic experts in any area; most were education professors or associated with testing companies, from here and abroad. There was only one mathematician on the VC—R. James Milgram—although there were many people with graduate degrees in mathematics education or with appointments in an education school, and/or who worked chiefly in teacher education. I was the only nationally recognized expert on English language arts standards by virtue of my work in Massachusetts and for Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma Project.

Professor Milgram and I did not sign off on the standards because they were not internationally competitive, rigorous, or research-based.  Despite our repeated requests, we did not get the names of high-achieving countries whose standards could be compared with Common Core’s standards. (We received no “cross-walks.”) Nor did the standards writers themselves offer any research evidence or rationale to defend their omission of the high school mathematics standards needed for STEM careers, their emphasis on writing not reading, their experimental approach to teaching Euclidean geometry, their deferral of the completion of Algebra I to grade 9 or 10, or their claim that informational reading instruction in the English class leads to college readiness. They also did not offer evidence that Common Core’s standards meet entrance requirements for most colleges and universities in this country or elsewhere.

IV.  Flaws in the 2011 Massachusetts ELA Standards (the document lists David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, James Patterson, and Susan Wheltle as the four lead writers)

 A. Most Coleman et al standards are content-free skills, not “content” standards. They do not address specific literary knowledge, specific literary history, or specific reading levels, i.e., they omit significant literary/historical content. E.g., there is no standard on the history of the English language, on British authors or texts, or on authors or texts from the ancient or classical world.

Examples of Coleman et al literature standards in grades 11/12:

  1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
  1. Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

Examples of authentic ELA literature standards

*In California’s pre-2010 standards for 11/12:

3.7  Analyze recognized works of world literature from a variety of authors:

a.  Contrast the major literary forms, techniques, and characteristics of the major

literary periods (e.g., Homeric Greece, medieval, romantic, neoclassic, modern).

b.  Relate literary works and authors to the major themes and issues of their eras.

*In Massaschusetts’ pre-2010 standards for grades 9/10:

16.11:  Analyze the characters, structure, and themes of classical Greek drama and

epic poetry.

 

B. The 2011 Coleman et al standards expect English teachers to spend at least half of their reading instructional time at every grade level on informational texts. They contain 10 reading standards for informational texts and 9 for literary texts at every grade level, reducing literary study in the English class to about 50%. Pre-2011 Massachusetts English classes spent about 20% of reading instructional time on nonfiction (which included informational material). No research studies support increasing the study of nonfiction in English classes to improve college readiness.

C. The 2011 Coleman et al standards reduce opportunities for students to develop analytical thinking. Analytical thinking is developed when teachers teach students how to read between the lines of complex works. As noted in a 2006 ACT report titled Reading Between the Lines: “complexity is laden with literary features.”  According to ACT, it involves “literary devices,” “tone,” “ambiguity,” “elaborate” structure, “intricate language,” and unclear intentions. Thus, reducing complex literary study in the English class in order to increase informational reading, in effect, retards college readiness.

D. The 2011 Coleman et al standards discourage “critical” thinking. Critical thinking is based on independent thinking. Independent thinking comes from a range of observations, experiences, and undirected reading. The Coleman et al document contains no standards for writing a research paper like those spelled out in the pre-2011 Massachusetts ELA standards.

 

V. Why the MBAE and Fordham Studies Cannot Tell Us Much

As noted by the Commissioner of Education in his announcement of the five public hearings on MCAS vs. PARCC, the Board would review studies conducted by “outside organizations.”

The first outside study, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), was released in February 2015.  It recommended abandoning MCAS, yet it did not indicate that current MCAS tests are based on the Coleman et al standards, while the PARCC tests are based on Common Core’s. Do the contents of the test items differ?  We don’t know. Nor do we know what test items were examined in this study.  Nor does the study give us a single clue to the contents of the test items in either set of tests at any grade level.

A second outside study is being undertaken by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The MBAE study had earlier indicated that “the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Human Resources Research Organization will conduct a full-scale evaluation of how well aligned PARCC, MCAS, and other national assessments are to the Common Core State Standards and the extent to which they meet the criteria for high-quality assessments established by the Council of Chief State School Officers.” It is not clear why CCSSO is qualified to establish criteria for high-quality assessments. All we know at present is that the Fordham Institute decided to use a portion of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds it regularly receives to compare MCAS and PARCC test items and to let BESE know what it would recommend as an organization dedicated to the Common Core project. Its report will be issued in time for BESE’s official vote to adopt PARCC in fall, 2015.

Nevertheless, we face the same problems in learning anything from the Fordham report that we face with the MBAE report. The test items for both the 2015 MCAS ELA tests and the 2015 PARCC ELA tests are test-secure and can’t be discussed in a public report. I have twice asked directors of both assessments for permission to examine under secure conditions all their ELA test items for 2015 but have not been given permission to do so. I have also asked DESE for a copy of all proposals or requests to DESE for permission to examine non-released MCAS test items, but DESE has not sent me a copy of this public information.

The public CAN examine “sample” and “practice” test items that PARCC has made available online (which I have done).  The public CAN examine all released test items for all MCAS tests from 1998 to 2007 (which I have done—see Appendix A for URLs to these test items). And parents and teachers CAN testify about what students say about the test items they have responded to on their computers or in their test booklets. But researchers cannot present either an evaluation of the grade appropriateness of PARCC test items or a comparison of the contents of MCAS and PARCC test items, two of the sub-topics that testifiers were asked to address at the Bridgewater hearing, because they are not allowed to say anything about the actual contents of the test items if indeed they examined them.

Until all the test items used by PARCC and MCAS in ELA in 2015 are available to BESE and all parents, legislators, and other citizens for inspection under secure conditions, BESE has no legitimate information on which to base an official decision. In fact, the entire process leading to a decision on which set of tests to use appears to be a sham, beginning with the fact that the Commissioner of Education chairs the Governing Board of PARCC, yet is to make the final recommendation to BESE, and ending with the fact that all local superintendents were told in 2014 that the decision had already been made (according to a letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014, in Appendix B). The public, including the media, have been abused by a fake process.  Only a post hoc, pro forma vote for PARCC remains to be taken.

Yet there are significant differences between PARCC and MCAS for ELA tests that can be brought to public attention.  These differences have their source in the criteria established by English teachers in Massachusetts in 1997, as explained above, and in other sources.

VI. Problems with PARCC in 2014-15, based on the examples/test items given

* The overall reading level of PARCC sample test items in most grades seems to be lower than the overall reading level of test items in MCAS ELA tests based on the pre-Coleman et al standards—sometimes by more than one reading grade level. E.g., an excerpt from The Red Badge of Courage is an example in the 2015 grades 10 and 11 PARCC. But an excerpt from this novel was assessed in a pre-2011 grade 8 MCAS.  E.g., an excerpt from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is an example in the 2015 grade 11 PARCC but appears in a 2010 grade 10 MCAS.

* PARCC doesn’t tell us who determines the cut (pass/fail) score, where it will be, and who changes it, and when. Cut scores on MCAS tests are set by Massachusetts citizens.

* PARCC test specifications do not indicate from what authors or kinds of text the literary passages are to be drawn, and how they are to be balanced. English teachers in Massachusetts have had higher expectations for MCAS than do test-developers at PARCC, it seems.

* PARCC 2015 grade 11 test samples are not aligned with Common Core’s standards; there are no passages from founding political documents.

* PARCC offers too many tests at each grade and across grades.

* PARCC requires extensive keyboarding skills and too much time for test preparation.

* PARCC plans to provide only a few released test items for teachers to use, it seems.

* The change to a grade 11 PARCC for fulfilling the requirement for a high school diploma hurts low-achieving students, who often need two years for remediation and retests before graduation.

* The PARCC tests are very long (see the chart in Superintendent Lupini’s June 2014 letter to the Brookline School Committee), even though they have been recently shortened.

* The writing prompts in PARCC in 2015 do not elicit “deeper thinking” because students are not given a provocative question about a reading assignment and encouraged to make and justify their own interpretation of an author’s ideas based on a range of sources, some self-chosen. They are almost always given the sources to use, beginning in grade 3: e.g., “Write an essay comparing and contrasting the key details presented in the two articles about how endangered animals can be helped. Use specific details and examples from both articles to support your ideas.”

* The two-part multiple-choice format in PARCC (and in SBAC) often requires students to engage in a textual scavenger hunt for the specific words, phrases, or sentences that led to their own thinking when answering the previous question. This two-part multiple-choice format is especially taxing and problematic in the early grades. E.g., in grade 3: “Part B: Which sentence from the story supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail supports the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from X shows another example of the answer to Part A?” “Which detail from paragraph 14 best supports the answer to Part A?” “What phrase from paragraph 14 helps the reader to understand the meaning of thriving?” “Which section in X introduces how the scientists made wolves feel comfortable in the park?”  In sum, the questions are poorly worded, confusing, tedious, unfriendly to children, and cumbersome. 

 

VII. Criteria for MCAS ELA Selections Developed in 1997 by the State’s English Teachers

  1. About 60% of the selections should be literary.
  1. At least half of the literary selections should come from authors in a list of suggested authors or works reflecting our common literary and cultural heritage
  1. About half of the literary selections could come from authors in a second list of suggested contemporary authors from the United States, as well as past and present authors from other countries and cultures.

These criteria were enforced in two ways for MCAS ELA tests: by the Guiding Principle on literary study in the introduction to the ELA standards and by the use of texts by authors in the two lists. The Guiding Principle itself (“An effective English language arts curriculum draws on literature from many genres, time periods, and cultures, featuring works that reflect our common literary heritage.”) indicated that a “comprehensive literature curriculum contains works from both [lists].”  The two lists of recommended authors served as guides to choosing MCAS passages at all grades. MCAS ELA tests from 1998 on were dominated by literary selections because of these criteria, the Guiding Principle on literary study, and the two lists.

BESE voted to add the Guiding Principles and the two lists in the 2001 Massachusetts ELA curriculum framework to the Common Core standards adopted in 2011. But DESE altered the wording of the Guiding Principle on literary study to read An effective English language arts and literacy curriculum draws on literature in order to develop students’ understanding of their literary heritage” so that it no longer expected the school curriculum or literary passages on MCAS to feature works reflecting “our common literary heritage.”

 VIII. Recommendations for Massachusetts:

  1. Fewer grades tested (just 4, 8, and 10), as in the 1993 MERA and 1994 authorization of ESEA
  2. Paper and pencil tests; no computer-based tests
  3. All or most test items released every year, as MERA requires
  4. Retention of grade 10 competency determination for a high school diploma, required in MERA, for the benefit of low-achieving students
  5. Tests requiring less time for preparing for and teaching to the tests
  6. Test passages and questions chosen and reviewed by Massachusetts English teachers
  7. A Massachusetts-determined cut score

Appendix A.  URLs for locating all MCAS ELA test items from 1998 to 2007, plus some URLs for later items

http://www.edbenchmarks.org/schoolimprovement/stuach.htm  On MEAP 1992-1999

https://archive.org/details/massachusettscompr00mass (1998)

https://archive.org/details/masscomprehensiv00mass (1999)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2000.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS_2001.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2002.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2003.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2004.pdf   (Grade 10 ELA includes an excerpt from Tartuffe)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2005.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Macbeth and Pride and Prejudice; and Theodore Roethke poem)

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/TeachingLearning/MathResourcesK-8/MCAs-Questions/MCAS-2006.pdf

https://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/uploaded/DistrictDepartments/Assessment/mcas_2007.pdf

misterambrose.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/2009_Spring_MCAS.1244029.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpt from Oliver Twist)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2010/release/g10ela.pdf (grade 10 ELA includes excerpts from Heart of Darkness and Love in a Time of Cholera; Shakespeare’s Sonnet #73)

http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/testitems.html?yr=14  (Selected items from 2010 to 2014 available here.)

 

 

Appendix B:  Letter from Superintendent William Lupini to the Brookline School Committee in June 2014

 

THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF BROOKLINE

333 WASHINGTON STREET BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS 02445

TEL: 617-730-2401

FAX: 617-730-2601

Office of the Superintendent of Schools

William H. Lupini, Ed.D.

June 3, 2014

 

To: Members of the Brookline School Committee

From: William H. Lupini, Ed. D. Superintendent of Schools

Re: State Assessment for 2015

 

 

On May 22, 2014, I recommended that the Public Schools of Brookline administer the PARCC Assessment for grades 3-9 and 11 for the 2014-2015 school year. This recommendation was based on the following considerations:

• Our experience with the recent PARCC field test allowed our team to gain a deep understanding of all that is required to administer this assessment to support students’ success. Our learning was detailed in my presentation to the School Committee at our last meeting.

• The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will “hold harmless” the accountability status of Districts choosing to administer PARCC in 2015. Specifically, a school’s level will either stay the same or improve but cannot decline due to PARCC test results.

• MCAS will be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment after the 2015 test administration.

• Administering PARCC in 2015 will allow all students tested the opportunity to get comfortable with the new expectations and testing environment, and will give us the opportunity to fine-tune its administration, which may reduce the risk of disruption in future years.

• The high school did not participate in the 2014 pilot. Administering PARCC in grades 9 and 11 in 2015 offers BHS a year to pilot the new assessment. Also, a score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment would allow an 11th grader to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges. MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• In addition to being “held harmless,” DESE has mitigated other risks for districts that choose to administer PARCC in 2015, including:

-Pencil and paper tests will be an option for a number of years in order to allow districts to adequately prepare their technology to meet the needs of the online test; and,

-Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) will be calculated continuously; therefore, there will be no interruption in utilizing SGP in the educator evaluation system.

The purpose of this Memorandum is to provide you with additional information about PARCC testing, our revised recommendation for your consideration during the June 5th Public Hearing and your June 19th vote, and the reasoning for these revisions to our thinking. Additional Information One of the main areas of discussion during our May 22nd presentation involved the number of PARCC testing sessions at each grade level.

Following is a chart detailing the grade-by-grade and subject area testing sessions for both PARCC and MCAS (grades 3-8):

Grade Level                PARCC & Science                   MCAS                 Difference

 

3rd                                         9                                         5                               +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

4th                                          9                                        7                                 +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (5 ELA; 2 Math)

5th                                         11                                        7                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)              (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)           (2 MCAS Science)

 

6th                                          9                                           5                                 +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)            (3 ELA; 2 Math)

7th                                           9                                         7                                   +2

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (5 ELA; 2 Math)

8th                                          11                                        7                                   +4

(5 ELA; 4 Math)             (3 ELA; 2 Math)

(2 MCAS Science)          (2 MCAS Science)

 

These differences are somewhat governed by the addition of end-of- year (EOY) testing in PARCC, along with the inclusion of a writing composition component for grades beyond the fourth and seventh grade currently tested in MCAS.

The amount of time to be spent in testing is a much more complicated analysis. Students are permitted 50% additional time beyond what is recommended in PARCC, while MCAS is an untimed assessment. Below is a comparison of the “expected” times for both grade 3-8 scenarios described above:

Grade Level                            PARCC & Science                           MCAS                                     Difference

3rd                                      490 minutes (8.2 hours)      270 minutes (4.5 hours)             +220 minutes (+3.7 hours)

4th                                       530 minutes (8.8 hours)      360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +210 minutes (+3.5 hours)

5th                                       620 minutes (10.3 hours)    360 minutes (6.0 hours)            +260 minutes (+4.3 hours)

6th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)       270 minutes (4.5 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

7th                                       570 minutes (9.5 hours)        370 minutes (6.2 hours)            +300 minutes (+5.0 hours)

8th                                       660 minutes (11.0 hours)      370 minutes (6.2 hours)           +290 minutes (+4.8 hours)

These numbers are somewhat misleading in that the PARCC timing is probably much closer to actual for most students, given the “timed” nature of the assessment. Furthermore, given that factor, it would be possible to schedule multiple testing sessions in one day with PARCC, while this is not possible in our current MCAS assessment configuration.

The high school analysis is even more difficult, given the following factors:

• As noted earlier, current MCAS assessment occurs only in 9th grade with a Science test, 10th grade with the English Language Arts and Mathematics exams, and again beyond 10th grade for those students who did not initially meet the competency determination standards.

• The PARCC assessment system is designed to provide 11th grade students who score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC Assessment to skip remedial courses at Massachusetts state colleges.

• MCAS will still be administered to all 10th grade students through the class of 2018 for competency determinations.

• PARCC high school math assessments are based on courses aligned to the Common Core State Standards, not grade levels.

Assessments are available for Algebra I, Geometry, Mathematics I, Mathematics II, Algebra II and Mathematics III.

Given these factors, it is more difficult to provide a comparison of numbers of testing sessions and total time devoted to assessment for PARCC v. MCAS. However, it is very safe to conclude that students would experience a greater volume of testing under the PARCC plan than is currently the case.

Revised Recommendation

After considering input from the Headmaster and her administrative team, as well as issues raised by School Committee members at our May 22nd meeting, we are now recommending that the Public Schools of Brookline participate in the PARCC operational test for grades 3-8 only during the 2014- 2015 school year.

High School testing would be limited to those MCAS tests required for the competency determination in 9th and 10th grades.

Reasoning

We do not come to any of these recommendations lightly. This new assessment will consume more valuable teaching time than the current program. The timed nature of the assessment for students who do not have an IEP is not in the best interest of any of our students and represents a significant change in beliefs for the Commonwealth. The PARCC assessment is still in development and, as such, will continue to represent a learning opportunity for all of us, even while students are receiving scores for their performance on the exams. Finally, we are not at present prepared to move to an on-line testing environment as a school system, meaning that some of our students will participate in a paper and pencil assessment and, therefore, we will have students being tested on somewhat different competencies and skills across our schools.

However, much of our rationale for this recommendation is, in our view, compelling and remains the same as discussed in May. We cannot recommend staying with MCAS for another year if this assessment is to be phased out in favor of either PARCC or another new “next generation” assessment. We believe that students should be given the opportunity to experience “next generation” expectations and testing environments, and that we need the chance to work with the administration of these assessments. Finally, we need to take advantage of having school accountability status held “harmless” while we work to support student, teacher and school success within this new testing situation.

While this same logic exists with respect to high school testing, we simply do not believe that it outweighs the issues for our students. As was discussed on May 22nd, eleventh grade students would be taking a PARCC assessment after most of them had already met the competency determination in their sophomore year, without the benefit of knowing up front that this was to be the case. Ninth grade students would be participating in a “next generation” pilot program, only to revert to MCAS as a competency determination exam. Therefore, we do not believe that the benefits of PARCC testing outweigh these concerns for our high school students in 2014-2015.

I am looking forward to continuing our discussion of this recommendation with you at our meeting on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

C.S. Lewis and the Freedom to Fail   5 comments

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Are you afraid of freedom?  Are you so afraid of the possibility that, with freedom to choose, some people choose to fail, that you would remove all freedom, even the freedom to soar?

A few weeks ago, at the Utah County Republican Convention,  I met a man at our Stop Common Core booth.  He was a sweet faced,  caring man.  He liked the common core agenda of national standards and tests because, he said,  he could not stand to see anyone suffer and fail because he’d seen the worst of the worst in Mississippi.  The fact that Massachusetts had dropped its high academic standards to come down to Common Core’s level didn’t bother him, he said, because lowest-performing states like Mississippi had upped their standards to the Common Core level.  He didn’t want to see anybody fail; so he’d rather see everyone mediocre.

This one sided “philanthropy” struck me as misguided, but it is the trendy philosophy of social justice, the philosophy of Arne Duncan-style redistribution.  It is theft– easily justified because it’s done on a large, impersonal, governmental scale.

Where do you stand?

Would you– alone– steal from one, in order to benefit another?  Then why do you let government do it?  What gives “us” the right to redistribute anything at all– money, education standards, teachers, data?  Would you make this a habit: Alone–  you walk outside, knock on the door,  and then forcibly take money or items from your next door neighbor to then hand to another neighbor?  It’s cruel.  That is, on a smaller scale, what our society is doing on a large scale with its increasingly socialistic answers to almost every aspect of life, with the justification that this theft is a kindness, a social justice.   This type of enforced equality is an impossible absurdity (Read Harrison Bergeron) but people believe it will work.  It’s why we are in this ed reform mess.

The freedom to fail and the freedom to soar are two ends of the same stick.  So much freedom has been sacrificed at the fake altar of “no soul left behind”.   Ironically, as these equality enforcements  come, people still fail.  This fake philanthropy (aka “social justice”) takes away the possibility for those who might soar, to ever soar.  In the 1950s, they used to call this equalizing “communism”.  But today, if you use describe the education reforms taking place in America as socialistic/communistic, you get labeled a believer in Unicorns.  (Thanks, Representative Kraig Powell.)

Truth is truth whether people believe it or not.

Long after I’d left the man that day at the booth, I found this perfect answer to his confused philanthropy.  Thank you, C.S. Lewis.

——————

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t.

If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk.

(…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

                                                                                                               – C.S. Lewis

U.S. Senator David Vitters’ Privacy Bill in Congress Can Protect Student Data   1 comment

David_Vitter-112th_congress--240x300

Ever since that dark day three years ago when I received a written response from the State Office of Education saying that the answer to my question was “No,” –NO to the question of whether a student could attend school to simply learn (as opposed to being tracked at school, as “human capital” by the state and federal SLDS and P-20w data mining systems, without parental consent or knowledge)  –ever since that day, I’ve been on a quest to reclaim our basic constitutional freedom of privacy, the right to NOT be inventoried like merchandise of the state.

A lot of other people agree that privacy and freedom matter.   But not all.   The big money in big data is so big; data is the Gold Rush of our age, not to mention to big control issue “datapalooza movement” of our age, making it difficult to overpower the big data lobbyists and their giant piles of fat money that work very effectively against moms and dads and non-monied lobbyists and activists like you and me.

Twice, for example, a Utah state legislator has tried to run a privacy protection bill for Utah kids.  Two years in a row it hasn’t even gotten close to getting off the ground in the Utah legislature.  Seems that money and power talk more persuasively than children’s or family’s rights, even in Utah.

But today many organizations nationwide are joining to support and to push forward Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s congressional bill that returns control of education records to parents on the federal level.  It’s big news.  See Breitbart, The Hill, Truth in American Education.

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

  • The bill implements new, more robust guidelines, in order to protect student privacy, for schools and educational agencies to release education records to third parties, even in cases of recordkeeping.
  • These entities will be required to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Further, educational agencies, schools, and third parties will be held liable for violations of the law through monetary fines.

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

  • FERPA does not currently apply to students who do not attend a traditional education institution, such as students who are homeschooled, despite some states requiring homeschoolers to file information with their school district.
  • This bill extends FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

  • The bill prohibits educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Federal education funds will be prohibited from being used to collect any psychological or behavioral information through any survey or assessment.

 

Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

  • American Principles in Action
  • Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
  • Eagle Forum
  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Women on the Wall
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
  • Stop Early Childhood Common Core
  • Arkansans for Education Freedom
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents RISE
  • The Tea Party Network
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowa RestorEd
  • Iowa for Student Achievement
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Louisiana  Against Common Core
  • Common Core Forum
  • Stop Common Core Massachusetts
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Tennessee Against Common Core
  • Truth in Texas Education  
  • Truth in Catholic Education  
  • Utahns Against Common Core
  • WV Against Common Core
  • Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

 

Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill. 

Board@schools.utah.gov  is the email for all the members of the state school board.    Find congressional legislators and state legislators here:   http://www.utah.gov/government/contactgov.html
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P.S.      I often get asked why this matters.   Last week, for example, at the Salt Lake County Republican Organizing convention, people came up to the booth where I was answering questions and asked, “What information is being collected about my child?”  My response?  Rather than to point them to the National Data Collection Model data points that are being requested, I simply say this truth:  there are NO proper privacy protections in place; federal FERPA law was destroyed by the Dept. of Education, and we have no idea what information is being collected locally; we do know there is a database that we aren’t allowed to opt out of;  we do know that there are no prohibitions on the schools/state/federal government/corporations collecting as much as they can get away with.
We know that the National Data Collection Model invites and encourages schools and states to collect over 400 data points.  And we know that no laws currently prevent schools/states from doing so.  It is only good intentions and individual/district policy that is preventing an Orwellian data collection reality today.
We need to establish proper, real protections.  We need strong laws that establish that students and families, not the state/corporate/federal education forces, own the data and control the data.  We need opt out laws from participation in the database systems too.  We need to talk about this issue often and openly.  And the ball is in the parents’ court.  The boards aren’t fighting for data privacy.  The lobbyists are actively fighting against data privacy.  And no legislator will fight for your child until you demand that he does.
Ask your legislator to support Senator Vitters’ bill, and to write state laws that enforce these protections too.

Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing   26 comments

opt out 2015

 

 

1.  THE TESTS HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.  It is out of the norm for tests to be given to children that never have been validated in a formal, scientific, peer-reviewed way.  Professor Tienken of Seton Hall University calls this “dataless decision making“.  What does it mean to a mom or dad to hear that no validity report has ever been issued for the SAGE/Common Core tests?  It means that the test is as likely to harm as to help any child.

We would not give our children unpiloted, experimental medicine; why would we give them unpiloted, experimental education?  –And, did you know that Florida bought/rented the SAGE test from Utah, and now Florida points to Utah students as its guinea pigs?  Where was Utah’s parental consent? Is it okay that the youngest, most helpless citizens are compulsory research subjects without the knowledge or consent of their parents?

2.  THE STANDARDS (upon which the test is based) HAVE NEVER BEEN VALIDATED.   Building a test on the sandy foundation of unvalidated standards –hoping but not having actual evidence on which to base that hope– that the standards are unquestionably legitimate, means that not only the test but the teaching that leads up to it, is experimental, not time-tested.  The SAGE evaluates teachers and even grades schools (and will close them) based on test scores from this flawed-upon-flawed (not to mention unrepresentative/unconstitutional) system.   Dr. Tienken reminds us that that making policy decisions in this baseless way is “educational malpractice.”

3. THE TESTS UNFAIRLY REDEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE EDUCATED.  The tests assume improper authority to enforce the common core and they thus cement this new definition of what education is.  The redefining was not done by educators, but by businessmenfalse philanthropists and politicians. The copyright on the standards for this test ensure that nobody gets any influence in what the standards will look like years from now, except those who hold copyright.  Teachers are pressured, even against their professional judgment, to conform to test-centric standards and curriculum.  Schools can get shut down, teachers can get rewarded, punished or fired, all based on the high stakes test.

4. THE TESTS ARE SECRETIVE.  Parents and teachers may not see test questions, not even years after the test is over.  Last year’s leaked screen shots of the test, taken by a student with her cell phone to show her mother, revealed an unpleasing agenda that asked students to question the value of reading (versus playing video games).  The student who took the photos was told that she was a cheater, was threatened with expulsion; and the teacher who didn’t notice (or stop) the cell phone photography was threatened with job loss.  Members of Utah’s 15-parent SAGE review committee have expressed grave concerns about the quality and content of SAGE, citing “grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.,” but were never shown whether corrections were made to SAGE, prior to its hasty rollout.

5.  TEST ITEM CREATION IS QUESTIONABLE.  SAGE questions were written by two groups: a few hand picked Utah educators, and the psychometricians at the testing company, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is not an academic organization but a behavioral research group.  We don’t know why psychometricians were entrusted to write math and English questions.  And we don’t know what the percentages are– how many SAGE questions come from educators, and how many from AIR’s psychometricians?

6.  THE TEST DISREGARDS ETHICS CODES FOR BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH TESTING.  As Dr. Gary Thompson has pointed out, behavioral tests are normally governed by strict codes of ethics and test-giving psychologists lose their licenses to practice if they veer from the codes of ethics.

The Utah State Office of Education claims tests do not collect psychological information, but it seems unreasonable to believe the claim.

Consider:

  • Behavioral Indicators” is a phrase that’s been in Utah laws concerning student testing for years.  It’s old news.  Happily, last month, Sen. Aaron Osmond wrote a bill to remove that language.  (Thank you,  Senator Osmond.)  Time will tell if the new law is respected or enforced.
  • Psychometric census” of Utah students was part of the agreement Utah made with the federal government when it applied for and received a grant to build a longitudinal database to federal specifications, (including federal and international interoperability specifications.)  Utah promised in that grant contract to use its Student Strengths Inventory to collect noncognitive data.
  • The test company, AIR, is a behavioral research company that creates behavioral assessments as its primary mission and focus.
  • U.S. Dept of Education reports such as “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” promote collection of students’ psychological and belief-based data via tests, encouraging schools to use biometric data collection devices.  I have not seen any of these devices being used in Utah schools, but neither have I seen any evidence that the legislature or our State School Board stand opposed to the Dept. of Education’s report or the advice it gives.
  • The NCES, a federal agency, has a National Data Collection Model which it invites states to follow.  Since Utah has no proper legal privacy protections in place, there is nothing stopping us from accepting the invitation to comply with the Model’s suggestions, which include hundreds of data points including intimate and even belief-based points: religious affiliation, nickname, voting status, bus stop times,  birthdate, nonschool activities, etc.

7.  UTAH’S NEW SCHOOL TURNAROUND LAW WILL SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS OR TAKE THEM OVER –USING SAGE AS JUSTIFICATION.  The bell curve of school-grading uses SAGE as its school-measuring stick; when a certain number of schools (regardless of quality) are inevitably labeled “failing” because of their position on that bell curve, they will be turned over to the state, turned into a charter school, or closed.  These events will alter lives, because of Utah’s belief in and reliance on the illegitimate SAGE test scores.

8.  SAGE TESTS ARE GIVEN ALL YEAR LONG.  These are not just end-of-year tests anymore.  SAGE tests are summative, formative, interim, and practice (assignment based) tests.  The summative (ending) test is given so early in the year that content has not been taught yet.  But it gets tested anyway, and teachers/students/schools get negatively judged, anyway.

9.  OPTING OUT IS ONE WAY TO PROTEST DATA MINING AND TO MINIMIZE IT.  The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) collects daily data on every school child without ever asking for parental consent.   SLDS collects much more than test-gathered data.  The government of Utah will not allow an SLDS opt out.  And since SLDS does not have an opt out provision (while SAGE does) it makes sense to minimize the amount of data mining that’s being done on your child by not taking these tests.

10.  OPTING OUT OF SAGE FIGHTS EDUCATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.  The lack of transparency, of fairness, of any shared amendment process or true representation under Common Core and its testing system defies “consent of the governed,” a principle we learned in the Declaration of Independence.  “It is the right [and responsibility] of the people to alter or abolish” governments [or educational programs] destructive of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness –or those that govern without the knowledge of, or consent of, the governed.

I believe that parents now have the right and responsibility to abolish SAGE testing, by refusing to participate.

If you haven’t yet realized that the Utah State Office of Education acts as an unaccountable bully to both the State School Board and to parents/teachers/legislators, please watch this; it is yet more reason to not allow your child to take the SAGE/AIR test, which is a science test as well as English and math:

 

Beware of Stealth Assessment as SAGE replacement

Please beware, however:  The testing opt out movement has grown so huge (outside Utah) that some Utah legislators have decided to hop on the anti-testing bandwagon with an eye toward replacing SAGE with something  from which public school parents can never, ever opt out (unless they home school or use private school).  That’s called embedded testing, or stealth assessment.

Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution to create a task force to study getting rid of SAGE and to replace it with embedded, or stealth assessments, passed in the Utah legislature this year.  That means that it will most likely become law next year.

Opt out of SAGE this year; fight Stealth Assessment next year.

 

———————————————————————————————

 National News Update on Test Opt-Out Movement

provided by Fairtest.org 

We’ve pulled together this special edition of our usually-weekly newsclips because of three huge stories that broke in the past several days.

–  In New York, more than 173,000 students opted out of the first wave of state testing, at least tripling last year’s boycott level.

–  In five states (Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota) computerized Common Core testing systems collapsed in a replay of the widespread technical problems which plagued Florida exams earlier this spring.

Both major developments further undermine the credibility of judgements about students, teachers and schools made on the basis of standardized exam results.

—  And, in Washington DC, the U.S. Senate education committee responded to grassroots pressure for assessment reform by endorsing an overhaul of “No Child Left Behind,” which eliminates most federal sanctions for test scores.  The bill does not go far enough to reversing test misuse and overuse, but it is a step in the right direction

Remember that these updates are posted online at: http://fairtest.org/news/other for your reference and for use in Facebook posts, Tweets, weblinks, etc.


U.S. Senate Committee Votes to Kill “No Child Left Behind,” But High-Stakes Testing Era is Far From Over
http://www.thenation.com/blog/204593/senate-committee-votes-kill-no-child-left-behind-high-stakes-testing-era-isnt-over#
NCLB Reauthorization: A Chance to Right a Wrong That is Hurting Low-Income Children
http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/esea-reauthorization-chance-right-wrong-commentary/

California Large Urban School District Leadership Rebukes Standardized Testing Fixation
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/apr/15/san-diego-schools-rebuke-testing/

Colorado Computerized Testing Shut Down Statewide by “Technical Difficulties”
http://gazette.com/technical-difficulties-cause-statewide-shutdown-of-standardized-testing-in-colorado/article/1549677

Florida
Governor Signs Modest Testing Reductions into Law; Parents and Teachers Promise Escalating Pressure
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article18529547.html
Florida’s New Student Testing Law Should Have Gone Further
http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-new-student-testing-law-should-have-gone-further/2225493

Georgia Judge Sentences Educators to Up to Seven Years in Prison for Test Cheating
https://celebrity.yahoo.com/news/pleas-mulled-former-atlanta-educators-test-cheating-scandal-120733406.html

Indiana
Legislators Have Competing Views About Future of State Testing
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/04/15/no-clarity-yet-on-competing-vision-for-indiana-state-testing/#.VTDyTkZLUZw

Michigan
Opt-Out Movement is Starting to Gain Steam
http://www.tctimes.com/news/local_news/opting-out/article_231a679c-e377-11e4-9a4a-53b0b97da9c8.html

Minnesota
Student Assessments Snarled by Computer Crash
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27914106/minnesota-student-assessments-snarled-by-computer-crash

Montana
Cancels Smarter Balanced Testing Mandate After Computer Administration Woes
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2015/04/montana_lets_schools_cancel_smarter_balanced_testing_after_technical_woes.html

Nevada
Common Core Testing Disrupted for Two Days by Computer Problems
http://www.8newsnow.com/story/28811425/nevadas-common-core-testing-halted-for-second-day

New Jersey
More than 15% of 11th Graders Skipped Standardized Test
http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/04/15/new-jersey-nearly-th-graders-skipped-standardized-test/25850117/

New York
Fed-up Parents Revolt Against Testing in Historic Fashion
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/fed-up-parents-revolt-state-standardized-tests-article-1.2185433
Tens of Thousands Boycott New York State Exams, Raising Questions About Test-Based Evaluations
http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=157&sid=34264074&title=thousands-skip-ny-tests-raising-questions-about-evaluations
Track District-by-District Data Here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview?pli=1

North Dakota Testing Plagued by More Computer Glitches
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html

Ohio Panelists Blast Testing at League of Women Voters Forum
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/panelists-relay-school-testing-concerns-at-league-of-women-voters-forum-1.583799

Oklahoma
Schools Struggling to Meet State Requirements for Test Monitors
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/help-wanted-schools-struggling-to-meet-state-requirements-for-test/article_ce65ce4c-28ce-577d-9815-66ee2f0a1631.html

Oregon
House Passes Bill Making it Easier to Opt Out of Tests
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32990672-75/oregon-house-oks-bill-making-it-easier-for-parents-to-opt-out-of-common-core-standardized-tests.html.csp
Oregon District Considers Suspending Common Core Test
http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/32980118-75/springfield-board-considers-moratorium-on-smarter-balanced-standardized-tests.html.csp

Pennsylvania Sees More Students Opting Out of Standardized Tests, Especially in Philadelphia
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/education/more-glitches-plague-standardized-tests/article_a5de5054-375e-5a8e-97ad-448efbf4cc39.html
Lehigh Valley Opt-Outs on the Rise
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/04/lehigh_valley_pssa_opt_outs_on.html

Texas Parents Speak Out Against STAAR Exams
http://www.connectamarillo.com/news/story.aspx?id=1192443
Texas Principal’s Firing May Stem From Testing Criticism
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20150416-popular-dallas-isd-principal-at-rosemont-elementary-to-lose-her-job.ece

Vermont
School Board Chair Explains Why State Voted to Suspend Use of Smarter Balanced Scores
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/opinion/my-turn/2015/04/16/opinion-vermont-dropped-sbac-testing/25901041/

Washington
State Students Are Right to Fight Testing Requirements
http://www.queenannenews.com/Content/News/Breaking-News/Article/EDITORIAL-Students-right-to-fight-testing-requirements/26/539/37377
Washington Board of Ed Wants to End Biology Exam That Blocks 2,000 From Graduating
http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/scrap-biology-test-or-2000-students-wont-graduate-state-board-of-education-tells-lawmakers/

West Virginia Common Core Testing Off to Rocky Start, “The Logistical Issues Are Terrible
http://wvmetronews.com/2015/04/17/common-core-woes-continue-in-wv/

Wisconsin Opt-Out Movement Gains Ground
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/opt-out-movement-gaining-ground-for-testing-in-madison-schools/article_83c01e97-b2d8-5fbc-b595-ce437251d1b5.html

Computerized Tests Face Major Technical Barriers
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/techtank/posts/2015/04/15-next-generation-assessment-glitches
FairTest Chronology of High-Stakes Computer Test Failures
http://www.fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-2013-2015

Video: Florida Senators Lee and Hayes: Why They are Done With Common Core Testing   3 comments

florida senator lee florida senator hayes

Florida’s Senators Tom Lee and Alan Hayes

This week in Florida, senators are speaking up against the Common Core testing and “accountability” systems.

In the video below, Florida’s Senator Lee’s states:

“I’m done with the testing program in the state of Florida; I’m done with the “accountability” system.  Whoever those people are out there from whatever foundation they may be from, whatever testing groups they may be supporting:  I’m over you.  You’ve lost my confidence… You’re so married to this system, you don’t have a shred of common sense left…. As this has progressed, it has become a behemoth… We are now complicit in this problem…  I hear the people supporting this system telling me that it’s so important to them that we maintain the bureaucracy that we hold this system up as so sacrosanct and so inflexible…

I just want to send a message… go find somebody else to talk to ’cause I’m done with you.  

And I hope the folks over at the Dept. of Education understand that it takes a good long while to get me fed up, but I’m there.  “

Senator Alan Hayes also stood up and spoke against the ed reform machine that’s hurting children. Senator Hayes’ admission here is that he realizes that he has been part of the problem, and now he regrets the mess that’s been made.  He said that the intentions of ed reforms were honorable but the results are not good.

These short videos should be widely shared.

Utah Legislature Adopts Obama’s Model for “Turnaround Schools”   14 comments

I feel as if Secretary Duncan and President Obama run education in Utah without any legislative or USOE opposition at all, ever.

Whatever is suggested on the education pages of Whitehouse.gov, by its federal education branches or by its corporate partnersends up in Utah as a law, presented to the masses as if it were Utah’s idea.

Tonight: guess what?

The Salt Lake Tribune reported  that tonight, Utah lawmakers passed a bill that “will assign rewards and consequences to Utah schools based on the state’s controversial school grading system. Schools who improve their grades will get funding and salary bonuses, while struggling schools will have the option of getting mentoring from school turnaround experts.”

Am I the only one reading this as:  Utah adopted Obama’s School Turnaround model?

There is in fact an Obama-led, federal school turnaround model.   There’s the federal “Office of School Turnaround” where states are assigned program officers. There’s a blue team and a green team.

Utah’s been assigned to the green team on that federal office of school turnaround chart.  (I don’t remember voting on this.)

In the chart where Utah’s listed for turnaround (see below) the Utah program officer is not yet named.  It says, “To Be Determined.”  The feds hadn’t assigned us a program officer before today.

They surely will now.

 

green team

There’s also a federal Center on School Turnaround (CST) that’s so much more than an office in D.C.  It’s a whole ” federal network of 22 Comprehensive Centers”  that boasts ” 15 Regional Comprehensive Centers… and 7 national Content Centers.”  The federal CST condescends to report  that states are allowed to play a role in their own school turnaround.  But not the leading role; that’s for the feds and the Comprehensive Centers.  In a report titled “The State Role in School Turnaround” we learn that some of CST’s goals are to change states’ laws and to micromanage turnaround efforts.  In their words:

“The Center on School Turnaround’s four objectives:

  1. Create a Pro-Turnaround Statutory and Regulatory Environment
  2. Administer and Manage Turnaround Efforts Effectively”

HowStupid.  Or.   Blind.  AreWe. Really!   –And how apathetic to our rights.

Friends!  Here’s our wakeup fact of the decade: our state holds a Constitutional duty and right to keep the federal government out of education.  We are failing in this duty.  Utahns are collectively–  even lawmakers–  either asleep, too busy or perhaps paid off by corporate lobbyists partnered with the machine, that we cannot notice a swift transfer of fed ed’s aims into local ed’s reality.

The passage of SB 235 is just one example of this ongoing series of terrible mistakes that cement our actions in line with the federal will.

 

235

The new Utah law calls for “turnaround experts” to improve low labeled schools using one driving method: tests.  Schools will be labeled by student performance on Common Core/SAGE tests as low- or high-performing.  Then some will be assigned a  “turnaround expert” to raise Common Core test scores.

How will Utah, in practice, select the turnaround experts? Will the experts be chosen from Obama’s personal list of school turnaround experts, which you may view, with colorful photos of each person, at  Whitehouse.gov?  Will these experts be taken from Bill Gates’ personal turnaround recommendation list?  Will they be recommended by the Federal Center for School Turnaround (CST)?  –Or by bigtime school turnaround advocates at the Über-progressive Center for American Progress (CAP)?

That famous turnaround group, the Center for American Progress, brazenly “disagrees that school improvement should be left entirely to states” and the Center has written that: “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control… new authority will have to come at the expense of local control…  local control is the source of many of the nation’s problems related to education.”

I am not screaming out loud because I’m saving my screams until this next paragraph:

This week, the Tribune reported that longtime Utah State School Board member Leslie Castle “expressed frustration with the political rhetoric that pits states’ rights against the federal government. She…  urged her colleagues to refrain from statements critical of federal overreach.

‘I am not going to be voting in favor of anything that plays to this nonsense that somehow our relationship with the federal government is crazy and something we’re trying to get out of,’  she said.”  -Read the rest here.

In the Utah turnaround law, the phrase “credible track record” is used to establish the person who will “fix” Utah’s low-labeled schools.  “Credible track record” is an odd choice of words because in the post-2010 altered education world of Common Core, there has been no track record required of education reformers.  There were exactly  zero validity studies and no empirical evidence to accompany the Common Core standards and tests.  If you didn’t know that validity and piloting were missing, read what academics and scientists have been shouting from the rooftops about the nonvalid, utterly empty track record of Common Core tests and standards: Dr. Christopher Tienken‘s and Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and  Dr. Gary Thompson‘s and Dr. Yong Zhao’s writings are good places to start.

Utah’s new law on school turnaround says that the experts who will turn around low-labeled schools must be:  “experts identified by the board under Section 53A-1-1206“. They must  “have a credible track record of improving student academic achievement… as measured by statewide assessments; (b) have experience designing, implementing, and evaluating data-driven instructional  systems…  have experience coaching public school administrators and teachers on designing data-driven school improvement plans…”

Translation:  the expert  solves problems by defining problems as test-centric.   The expert is solely devoted to test-focused, test-and-data-centric methods and will likely be devotees of Sir Michael Barber’s “Deliverology” method.  (“Deliverology,” written for American education reformers by a Brit, the CEA of Pearson, Inc., (the world’s largest education sales company) is a book/philosophy that  emphasizes results to the point that it’s called “merciless… imposing arbitrary targets and damaging morale” in its “top down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.”)   Deliverology is popular because it works– but only when ruthlessly applied.

FYI, our U.S. Secretary of Education has long touted Barber’s books and robotic methods.

But I have veered off topic.  And Utah’s legislative session is past.

Better luck next year.

 

 

closed

 

 

Source-Focused Analysis of Common Core Starts Here: An Updated Syllabus   8 comments

Original source documents arm honest people who want to know the truth about Common Core to take back the reins of control.

This is important because proponents are increasing false advertisements about Common Core.  They’re also hiding the Common Core Inititative under different names, such as “Utah Core” or  “Indiana Core“.  Unfortunately, well intentioned people whom we trust to tell us the truth often simply don’t know the whole story.  It is up to us to find out for ourselves.

Please go go directly to source documents to fact-check claims being made by proponents of Common Core.

(This slightly updated syllabus was shared in a previous  post.  It is republished today because Alisa, Renee and I are speaking in Vernal tonight and we want to point our Vernal friends to solid information.  If anyone wants to come to the meeting tonight, you are welcome.  There is, of course, no charge and the event begins at 7:00.)

Link to tonight’s Vernal, Utah, meeting:   204 E 100 N, Vernal, UT 84078  (435) 789-0091

 

 

image cc

 A Source-Focused Analysis of the Common Core Initiative

  1. The General Educational Provisions Act – This law prohibits the federal government from directing or supervising education:  “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…” The Dept. of Education, by forming multiple  official partnerships with corporate America, has gotten away with breaking this law.
  2. U.S. Constitution – Amendment 10 – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The disregard by the Dept. of Education for the authority and diversity of individual states’ educational pathways must be stopped.
  3. Utah’s Race to the Top Grant Application– Utah got points from the federal government for having a SLDS database system. (This tracks children without parental consent or knowledge.  There’s no legal opt-out for SLDS child inventorying.  Corporations, in partnership with state SLDS systems, collect millions of data points on children, without parental consent. ) Also in the Race to the Top Grant Application document, see that Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core. This was how we got in. Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.
  4. The No Child Left Behind Waiver– This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable (by states) common standards.  So states are allowed to add frosting and sprinkles to state standards, but they have no say in what goes into the cake itself.
  5. The State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) Grant– All states have one. This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has. It tracks students within the state. Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange. Parents can not opt their children out. (They can and probably should opt out of Common Core tests, however.)
  6. The lawsuit against the Department of Education– The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains that parental consent is a best practice, not a mandate, prior to data sharing; it shows that terms were redefined, that personally identifiable information, including biometrics, can be shared, and that agencies have legal access to private data of students.
  7. The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no real control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C. Notice that no one outside CCSSO/NGA may claim to have helped write the standards.
  8. The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama. It reveals that forced redistribution of wealth is a main reason for the national education system.
  9. The Cooperative Agreement between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., is partnered with SBAC. This document shows clearly the mandates for synchronizing tests and sharing student data to mesh testing companies with federal aims and agents.  Its only claim to binding authority is money.
  10. The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He states that Common Standards were Obama’s idea and that the federal government is moving to play a larger role in education.  Also, the speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s top 4 education goals: control data, common standards, teachers, and to take over low-performing schools.
  1. The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda. He also pushes for global data and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which he calls “irreversible reform”.
  2. The speeches and actions of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” and he’s writing curriculum for his “uniform customer base” –all children and all schools.
  3. The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President -He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards. He’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly altered the quality and liberty of classrooms. As he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of standards.
  4. The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance– behavioral indicators are sought by the federal government. They may include monitoring children using cameras, posture chairs, and bracelets. (see graphic, mid-report.)
  5. Federal data collection websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database. -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which includes intimate, personally identifiable information. See Common Core creators’ data management branch, EIMAC of CCSSO, with its stated mission to disaggregate student data.  The EIMAC/CCSSO link also shows the official partnership of the federal government with corporate Common Core.
  1. The Official Common Core Standards – English and Math standards. Here you will see Common Core calling itself a “living work” meaning that what Common Core is today, will not remain. There is no amendment process for states to have a voice in altering the commonly held standards because they’re under private copyright. See a recommended reading list in Appendix B that includes “The Bluest Eye,” a pornographic novel.
  2. See academic testimonies of the official Common Core validation committee members who refused to sign off on the legitimacy of the standards; other professors have also testified that Common Core hurts legitimate college readiness.  See in contrast the motive of Common Core promoters such as Marc Tucker of the Center for American Progress who report that “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.  …[N]ew authority will have to come at the expense of local control.”
  3. Federal Definition of College and Career Ready Standards – the federal government hides the phrase “common core” from public view by using the term “college and career ready standards” in its documents.  Know that they are the same thing.
  4. Common Educational Data Standards – The same private groups (NGA/CCSSO) that created Common Core have also created Common Educational Data Standards, so that student data mining and citizen tracking is interoperable and easy.  Coupled with the breakdown of family privacy law (federal FERPA, altered by the Dept. of Education) we see that children’s data lacks proper protections, and that students are being used as compulsory, unpaid  research objects.
  5. Follow the money trails – Study what advocacy and development of common standards Bill Gates has paid for; see how his unelected philanthropy affects education and its governance, and see how his partnerships with Pearson, with the United Nations and others monopolize the U.S. and global education markets, excluding voters as public-private partnerships make decisions, instead of voters or elected representatives such as school boards or legislators making decisions.

american mom

Federal Control of Technology and Data: On “Internet Neutrality,”the ConnectEd Initiative, and SETRA   8 comments

How will President Obama’s multiple initiatives increase federal control over American technology and data mining –and how will these initiatives affect children?

There are several new initiatives to consider.

I.  NET NEUTRALITY

Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the Obama-approved definition of “Internet Neutrality.”  Proponents made it sound as if “neutrality” meant openness and freedom for individuals, but the ruling increases federal power over the internet.

The notion that fairness and neutrality should be government-defined and government-enforced makes me roll my eyes. The term “net neutrality” sounds just like Harrison Bergeron, with the FCC playing the part of the Handicapper General to enforce equality by handicapping achievers and punishing success.

So now that the federal government has increased power to define and enforce its one definition of neutrality, how will this advance the goals of Obama’s ConnectED initiative?  Will “neutrality” aim, like ConnectEd aims, to strap tax dollars and children’s destinies in education to Bill Gates’ philosophies and coffers?  I ask this in light of Microsoft’s alignment with the FCC’s ruling, Microsoft’s celebrated discounting of common core-aligned ed tech products and Microsoft’s promotion of ConnectED.  Add to that question this fact: Microsoft’s owner, Gates, funded the Role of Federal Policy report, which found (surprise, surprise) that the power of federal groups, to “research” children/education without restraint, should be increased using ESRA reauthorization.  More on that below.

How does all of this work with the SETRA bill’s student data collection goals?

II.  CONNECT-ED

First, a quick ConnectEd review:  Obama is bringing the now-neutralized internet to all schools while behaving very non-neutrally himself: he’s officially favoring and partnering with Microsoft/Bill Gates/Common Core so the uniform customer base (children) will only receive the One Correctly Aligned Education Product (and likely will thank Gates for what they see as kindness, deep discounts).  Microsoft’s website explains: “Partnering with the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, we’re helping provide technology for education, at a fraction of the cost.”  Pearson, Inc. is doing the same thing here and here and here to lay those near-irreversible foundations for the future.

What Microsoft, Pearson and ConnectEd are doing could be compared to offering free or discounted train tracks to your city.  They’re fancy tracks, but customized to fit one sort of train only.  By accepting the offer, you are automatically limited to using only the kinds of trains made to run on your new tracks.

States and schools ought to be saying “no, thanks” to Gates and Pearson if we want to have the freedom to later use education and ed technology that might be Common Core-free.

(As an important aside: one of the stated aims of Obama’s ConnectEd is to catch up to South Korea where “all schools are connected to the internet… all teachers are trained in digital learning, and printed textbooks will be phased out by 2016.”  I’ll never join the chorus of “Let die traditional, print books”.  But ConnectED has. )

The Internet has been, until now, unregulated by the federal government.  It’s been free.   The controllistas think of free as “unfair,” however.

“The main excuse for implementing the new invasions is the statists’ favorite complaint: Internet service providers ‘discriminate’  …[F]acilitators seeking to benefit from less competition, such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix,  ought to be beige in color, have identical horsepower, the same number of doors, and get the same gas mileage no matter how far or fast they may be driven” (from Bob Adelman, New American Magazine).

In the FCC’s ruling, Bob Adelmann pointed out, there’s been dramatic change without  transparent vetting.  Adelmann wrote, three days ago: “On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet. Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document … [was] demanded by President Obama… he told FCC … to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.”

 

 

WHY?

 

Why was Obama bent on getting the “strongest possible rules” to control the Internet– and why did he confuse people by calling this move one toward openness and freedom?  I don’t know why.

The “why” is not so important.

What matters most now is that Americans recognize that he is, in fact, aiming for ever increasing control at the expense of our freedoms, and that he’s partnered with private corporations who share his aims.  History teaches that many people seek to control other people; whether for kindly intentioned or malicious intentioned reasons, they always have and always will.  That’s why our Constitution is so sacred.  It protects individuals from others’ controlling tendencies by decentralizing power.

Government-imposed equality, or “neutrality,” is a theme Obama has promoted in many ways prior to yesterday’s “Net Neutrality” punch.

  1. Think of common “College and Career Ready Standards” –a.k.a Common Core, which his administration promoted to U.S. governors –and reported about to the U.N.— in 2009-10: “President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments,” said Secretary Duncan.
  2. Think of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) for all students and for every state database, data standards which his administration partnered in creating.
  3. Think of his administration’s funding and promotion of common SLDS state databases that now track and grade the nation’s schools, teachers and students using interoperable systems and common, national data models.
  4. Think of federally-promoted, aligned testing for all states and students.  Same, same, same.

Match that to the speeches of Bill Gates  about building the uniform customer base of students using Common Core.

In each of the Obama-promoted, standardizing measures, no one may soar.  No one is allowed to meander into creative or superior or innovative paths because of that devoted mindset: no failure– not allowing anyone freedom, if that includes the freedom for some to fail.  This commonizing of the masses under the banner of “fair and equal” once upon a time used to be called communism, but that’s not a politically correct term anymore.  You can’t even call it socialism.  Instead, the p.c. terms are “social justice”  or “playing fair.”  I call it theft.  Legalized plunder.

And it’s never actually fair: There is nothing fair about elites centralizing power to take freedom from individuals.  Also, for those who decide that they are above the law there are exceptions; the ruling elite still get to choose.

When I say, “elites centralize power to take freedom from individuals,” I don’t mean metaphorically or theoretically.  It’s real.  It’s no theory.  The micromanagement of schools, children, teachers to minimize parental “interference” and parental “opportunity” is a large and extremely well oiled machine.

On its federal hand, there’s the Obama Administration’s “National Education Technology Plan“.  On its private, corporate hand, there’s the Bill-Gates-led “Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research,” explained out a report written by Aspen Institute and funded by the Gates Foundation.  It says, “there is a broad consensus that federal investment in education research, development, and dissemination is vital” and “the pending reauthorization of ESRA creates new opportunities to better harness the tremendous research capacity we have in America to turn broad consensus into broad benefit,” and even: “the Obama Administration has proposed to create a new unit of ED, called ARPA-ED, that would be analogous to the high-profile Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Department of Defense. ”

III. SETRA – The Reauthorization of ESRA

We need to study the “pending reauthorization of ESRA” that hopes to “harness” students’ data.  The SETRA bill now on-deck, bill S227, is the data collection bill that American Principles Project  warned America about in a press release.  SETRA is a direct answer to what the both the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research and the National Education Technology Plan had requested:  more power to the federal government over student data.

The history of educational data collection by federal/private forces is very boring.  I only bring this up because we need to see them for what they are: public-private-partnerships, with unclear dividing lines between federal and private controls.  That means that we can’t easily un-elect them or influence the power that they wield.  It’s data collection without representation.  That’s not only unconstitutional; it’s also very creepy.

The boring but important history of these public-private-partnerships is detailed in the Evolving Role of Federal Policy in Education Research report, as well as on websites from the REL/WestED groups.   WestED, a now-nonprofit, explains: “The roots of WestEd go back to 1966, when Congress funded regional laboratories across the country to find practical ways to improve the education of our nation’s children.  Charged with “bridging the gap between research and practice,” a number of the original Regional Educational Laboratories grew beyond their initial charge and developed into successful organizations. Two in particular—the Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory (SWRL) and the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development (FWL)—evolved beyond their laboratory roots, eventually merging in 1995 to form WestEd.”

Why it matters?  Ask yourself this:  How does a parent protect his/her child from data leaks, privacy breaches and unwanted government intrusion or “guidance” when the data collection machines are not run by elected representatives, and they are paid to run well by the unstoppable force of taxes?

How does a parent protect his/her child when federal FERPA (Family Ed Rights and Privacy Act) has been altered so that it’s no longer protective of parental rights and student privacy?

How does a parent protect his/her child when the new SETRA bill allows power to go to regional commissioners, rather than residing in local schools, districts, or even states?  Regions take precedence over states under SETRA.

But the public does not know this because proponents of SETRA reveal what they want to reveal in their “pro-SETRA” talking points.

I hate talking points!  Give me truth in the form of direct quotes and page numbers from a bill next time, Congressman Boener.

Proponents fail to reveal the details of the bill that alarm opponents of SETRA.  I’ll share a few.

Psychological Profiling

For example, page 28, section 132 reveals that data to be collected on students may: “include research on social and emotional learning“.  Social and emotional learning means psychological testing!  This is promoting the same creepy biometric data mining methods that the Dept. of Education was pushing two years ago in its “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance” report of 2013 (see report pdf page 44).

grit

This SETRA bill’s  language empowers the government to create a profile on your child, psychologically (emotional learning) and politically (social learning).

I do not support allowing the government to keep psychological/political dossiers on children.

 

Reliance on a wet-noodle FERPA for privacy protection

But I have no power, they tell me,  despite being a mom, a voter, and a taxpayer.  Recall that there is no requirement under federal FERPA any longer to get parental consent over the gathering or sharing of student data.

Likewise, in Utah, there’s no protection for student data.  The state longitudinal database system (SLDS) gathers data about each child from the moment he/she registers for kindergarten or preschool without parental consent.

The state has said that no Utah parent may opt an child out of SLDS and legislation to create protections for children’s privacy in Utah has not been successful.

Utah’s legislature and school board continues to allow the SLDS to run wild, unaccountable to parents or to anyone.  Students’ data in Utah is unprotected by law.  If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah.  Then send it to me.

In fact, the Utah Data Alliance promotes the sharing of data between agencies such as schools, higher ed, workforce services, and other agencies.  If the board or an administrator tells you differently, ask them to show you the law that provides protection in Utah.  Then please send it to me.

 

Parental Rights Dismissed

 

Soon, if federal SETRA passes, student data will be even more unprotected.  Zero parental rights over student academic data (thanks to shredded federal FERPA protections and wrongheaded Utah policies) will be joined by zero parental rights over student psychological data (thanks to power-hungry SETRA).

In section 208 (see page 107) the SETRA bill reauthorizes the federal government “to align statewide, longitudinal data systems [SLDS] from early education through postsecondary education (including pre-service preparation programs), and the workforce, consistent with privacy protections under section 183;’’

SLDS is the very set of databases that deny parents their rights to be the main authorities over their own children’s data.  Do we want to reauthorize the federal government to use our tax dollars for that purpose, moms and dads?

“Privacy protections under section 183,” as we discussed above, equals no privacy at all.  Why?  There used to be confidentiality standards, such as those seen in the 2002 data privacy code.  But all of that changed.  Now, confidentiality and parental consent have been reduced to “best practice” status, and parental consent prior to sharing data is not required by federal FERPA.

 

REGIONAL EDUCATION LABS MAY SUPERCEDE STATE AGENCIES IN POWER

Under SETRA section 174, “REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL LABORATORIES FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, DISSEMINATION, AND EVALUATION” the power of the regional educational laboratories is expanded.  This whole section is worth reading, but it’s hard to read because of the many interruptions where the bill alters definitions and phrases from the original ESRA bill.  Try it.

I have to say that in this section, the repeated use of the term “laboratories,” in the context of “regional educational laboratories” gives me the creeps.  Am I the only one?  Our children as guinea pigs in laboratories of educational and now psychological experimentation –organized by region and not by state? No, thank you.

When Regions Rule, States Lose Constitutional Strength

Another important thought:  how can states’ rights over education ever be defended and protected when education is being restructured to function in regional, not by states, divisions?  Is this why the regional laboratories of educational research are growing to become more powerful than state boards?)

On page 57 of the pdf the R.E.L. Commissioner is given a lot of power.  “Each eligible applicant desiring a contract grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under this section shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Evaluation and Regional Assistance Commissioner may reasonably require.”  The Commissioner can deny funds, or give funds, to people who “shall seek input from State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the region that the award will serve”.  Hmm.  I see.  People may seek input from state agencies, but the regional laboratory commissioner is The Man.

The Regions aim for that power.

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I’m not finished with my SETRA analysis.  I’m just sick of it right now.

I’ll be back.

The Governor’s Charade   6 comments

Last Friday, my children and I were on an educational field trip to see Governor Herbert address the state school board in Salt Lake City.  We were learning how to use civic rights to free speech and expression.  I had hoped to influence the establishment to not renew the federal waiver (NCLB/ESEA) and hoped to influence them to consider withdrawing from Common Core and all its data-and-teacher-control-tentacles.  We also wanted to spread the good news:  that Mia Love’s H.R. 524, if it passed, might help enforce states’ constitutional rights to control education locally.

There we stood holding signs outside the door of the state school board meeting, my children and I:  “Vote No on NCLB Waiver” and “We Support Mia Love’s H.R. 524  (the anti-common core bill).

We couldn’t go inside the meeting because 1) one of my children is very young and noisy,  and 2) there was no room.

We had even been discouraged by USOE officials and by the governor’s bodyguard (!) from standing in that hall outside the board meeting; they said the handful of us posed a fire hazard.

Yet we were standing there when Governor Herbert made his exit alongside Tami Pyfer.  The Governor read our signs and he said, “I support Mia Love’s H.R. 524.”

Explain that quote.

Governor Herbert —Vice Chair of the National Governors Association, which created and copyrighted Common Core —  now supports the anti-common core bill?!

I immediately felt the same sick way I’d felt when President Obama came out with his  student data review  saying he was concerned about privacy, after his administration had done everything in its power to destroy student privacy: from decreasing privacy rights in federal FERPA,  to paying each state to build matching, interoperable SLDS databases, to hosting “Datapalooza” and pushing inter-agency “data-mashing.”

Obama (and Herbert) get away with blatant hypocrisy because most of us are, sadly, low-information voters.  People don’t know.  And they don’t know who to trust.

I prefer it when everyone gives each other plates of warm cookies instead of headaches.  I don’t like thinking of –or labeling– my country’s president or my state’s governor as hypocrites.

But I am not going to pretend that I don’t see what I clearly see:  repressed real conversation under a pretense of reasoning things out,  strict topic-control and topic-narrowing; no debate.

The governor has only asked Utah to comment about the standards, not the governance of them, and he never asked for comments about the data  mining nor testing nor lack of parental and teacher freedom.  Although months ago  Governor Herbert said, “we will not cede that responsibility [of local education] to anyone else,” we know that Utah had already given that responsibility away years ago (control of tests, data sharing and of standards-amending).  That power left when Utah adopted standards from private groups NGA/CCSSO who created and copyrighted Common Core, groups in which Governor Herbert holds top leadership positions. Governor Herbert’s words about standing up to federal encroachment are either feigned or very, very fractional.

We all heard the Governor quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in his speech to the board that day, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) But there is no “reasoning together” happening!  Where is the real discussion, the real debate?  I see a top-down dispensing of “politically correct” marketing lines about Common Core, a one-sided “conversation”. Under the public radar–  in emails and blogs and social media, discussion percolates, sans Governor.

We don’t see our Governor (nor Common Core financier Bill Gates nor Common Core architect David Coleman nor Common Core test grant-giver Arne Duncan) ever participating in debates on this subject.  These top promoters/creators of Common Core are actively hiding, as is clear from Kathleen Jasper’s Conversation ED and countless others.   They don’t want to thoroughly, honestly, honorably reason.  They don’t have a leg to stand on.  Common Core, when you scratch beneath the surface, is utterly indefensible and unconstitutional.

The Utah public is only allowed ten minutes (divided by five citizens, with two minutes each) per month at state school board meetings.  Per month!  Some reasoning together!  Meanwhile, the state school board is appointed via a very biased, committee-to-the-governor selection process.  And yet taxpayers fund this charade, these one sided flyers, mailers and the USOE website itself, all debate-free, marketing the Common Core product without intellectual discussion of any kind.

It’s maddening to those of us who are paying close attention.

Know these facts (and fact check me, so you really actually know it for yourself.)

1.  Only NGA/CCSSO can amend the shared Common Core.  And they will.  (The “living document” will change, the Common Core declares on page 3.)

In Friday’s meeting, presentation after presentation pretended that Utah could amend the shared Common Core.

2.  Common Core states like Utah can’t delete from the standards, and can only add 15% max.  

In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the 15% limit that says no state may add much to the standards (to keep the tests all aligned nationally).

3.  Speaking about standards-tweaking is a charade.

In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that if Utah adds the permitted 15%, the addition will never be seen on the nationally aligned test questions. So what’s motivating the teachers to teach the addition?  And it won’t be in the shared textbooks anyway.

4.  Common Core ELA and math standards are under copyright.  

In Friday’s meeting no mention was made of the Common Core copyright.

5.  Common Core was rammed down Utah’s throats without proper discussion,  and a parent and teacher led  lawsuit is underway because of that fact.

In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of the fact that no teachers or administrators were ever asked for input prior to the state adopting Common Core.

6.  The Attorney General and the Governor are not correct in saying that we retain local control under the Common Core standards, tests and aligned data standards.

In Friday’s meeting, no mention was made of any rebuttals to the Attorney General’s blanket statement (that Common Core in no way harms Utah autonomy over education).  It was just: “Tell us which particular standard did Utahns find troubling?”

 

 

titanic chairs meme

 

The narrow, controlled “conversation” about Common Core in our state is light years away from the spirit of the scripture that the governor quoted, “Come and let us reason together.”

I am really, really tired of the hypocrisy.

 

 

 

 

Misleading Polls: One Reason Utahns Don’t Know About the Common Core and Common Data Standards   2 comments

I was invited to speak on the Rod Arquette show today about the results of a poll published  by Utah Policy.  I’ve decided to write here what I won’t have time to fully say there.

The poll’s questions narrowed the larger Common Core Agenda to a tiny fraction (just the academic standards, string free) so that it reaped the kinds of positive responses that it sought.

For example, it said: “Utah is currently participating in a coordinated effort with other states to set similar education standards in math and language. These standards outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade in K through 12 education.”  This half-truth left out volumes that would have altered the poll-taker’s responses if the poll taker would have been more fully informed.

chairs

Focusing on the actual standards themselves is as foolish as focusing on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Good or bad, the standards, like deck chairs, will soon be in an uncontrollable, different place.

  • If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are not coordinated by Utah and other states but by private, unelected organizations in D.C. (NGA and CCSSO) which have copyrighted the standards, answers would have been different.
  • If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards-creators, (NGA/CCSSO) are official partners with the federal government in creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) that are aligned to Common Core Academic Standards, so that CEDS can be used to track students in state (SLDS), federal (EdFacts) and corporate data banks, thanks to the recent federal alteration of FERPA, answers would have been different.
  • If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the standards are unamendable by states and that there is, in fact, no amendment process by which any participating state could alter or influence future versions of “Common Core 2.0”  answers would have been different.
  • If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Prosperity 2020 Initiative is promoting Common Core for financial gain and that special interests make millions from Utah’s education tax dollars, due to schools now being essentially forced to purchase the standardized books, test infrastructures, and technologies, answers would have been different.
  • If Utah Policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core standards lack empirical evidence (meaning that they are unpiloted, unproven, and that they turn our children into unconsenting, unpaid guinea pigs for marketers, researchers and for the creators of Common Core) –answers would have been different.
  • If Utah policy would have been fully honest, disclosing the fact that Common Core may raise some specific standards spottily in some grades and in some states, but it lowers them elsewhere, dumbing down some and rigor-izing others, but making everyone common, as if one size could fit all — answers would have been different.

The poll’s article said:  “Utah’s Education IS NOT controlled by the federal government, Herbert has said time and time again.”  True, Herbert has said that. So has the Utah Attorney General.  Yet it is false.   Fact check for yourself.  Truth is truth whether we believe it or not.

The federal government micromanages the Common Core testing network.  Evidence in Cooperative Agreement of SBAC (Utah’s company, AIR’s partner) here. The federal government offers a waiver from the much-hated No Child Left Behind (unconstitutional) law in exchange for adoption of Common Core (aka College and Career Ready Standards Adoption).

Education standards-alteration was the very first of the Obama Administration’s four assurances as listed stated in the ARRA grant money documents, in Secretary Duncan’s “Vision for Education Reform” speech, and on the White House website.  College and career ready standards is a term that was specifically hijacked and redefined as the Common Core, as “standards common to a significant number of states” by the federal government.

In fact, in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s 2010 “Vision” speech, he said:

“Traditionally the federal government has had a limited role in education policy… the Obama Administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role so that the Dept. is doing much more… creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum… In March 2009 Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments.”

Both the Republican and the Democratic parties  in various states –and even the Chicago Teacher’s Union — have written resolutions condemning Common Core. Not just because of the fuzzy math.  Not just because of the lessening of classic literature.  It’s all about Constitutional rights.

If you like socialist-styled, distant, top-down, big government, big-corporate  control of tests, teachers and standards, Common Core may be your thing. But if you believe in local control, in free and independent academic thought, and if you want parental aims met –as opposed to big-government-big-corporate aims, then Common Core is not for you.

Shame on Utah Policy for its misleading poll.

 

titanic chairs meme

 

Utah Should Vote No on Federal NCLB/ESEA Flexibility Waiver Renewal   1 comment

gulliver

 

Tomorrow morning, the Utah State School Board will vote on whether or not to renew the federal No Child Left Behind ESEA Flexibility Waiver.

Governor Herbert will address the board in person prior to this vote, at the USOE offices at 250 E 500 S in Salt Lake City.

It’s an open meeting.  Many of us will be there, and you are wanted and needed there.  If you can’t come, please write to the board.  Here’s the board’s email address.  Board@schools.utah.gov

Here’s my letter.

 

——————–

Dear Board,
Please vote no on the ESEA/NCLB renewal of waiver tomorrow.
No Child Left Behind was bad; but the waiver from it (meaning that we consent to continue with Common Core) is far worse, because of the suffocating strings attached. A million tiny strings took Gulliver down.
I am referring to:
1- The CCSSO-created CEDS data collection aligned to the Common Core standards.
2- Teacher handcuffing via teacher grading related to Common Core testing.
3-  No amendment process for the Common Core (copyrighted) standards.  (We could alter our previous Utah Core; we can’t alter ELA or Math under Common Core’s copyright.)
Bottom line: we owe no accountability to the federal government Constitutionally and it returns very little money, percentage wise, of our education budget –of which Utah wastes much on bloated administrative salaries and on the common core tech ed sales cartel, not giving much to truly benefit children or teachers.
We have constitutional rights and we are shredding them, voluntarily, by tying our school system down under Common Core and Common Data.
Please vote NO on renewing NCLB.
Christel Swasey
Utah Credentialed Teacher

Come Downtown Friday Morning   5 comments

green

Come downtown Friday morning.

If you are one of the thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands in Utah with grief and concern about the continuing takeover of student data privacy, academic freedom, teacher autonomy and student self-determination,  please come downtown Friday morning.  Click here to join the Facebook event if you like.

Your physical presence speaks volumes even if you do not say a word at this board meeting and rally.

At the last ESEA flexibility board meeting, there were many people wearing green Stop Common Core T-shirts (or other green shirts) –filling the seats, lining the walls inside the meeting and lining the halls outside the meeting.   We need to do it again, this time in the presence of our Common Core-defending Governor.

green to

Come downtown this Friday morning, February 6th, 2015, when the meeting begins at 8:00 (or whenever you can get there.)

Governor Herbert will speaking from 8:30-9:30.  At 9:30 the board will discuss renewing or not renewing the ESEA waiver.

(Public comment will take place for ten minutes at 8:15.  If you contact the board secretary, Lorraine, ahead of time, you can be one of the five people per month who get two minutes allotted to speak during public comment.)

While some attend and speak up at the meeting inside, others will be standing with posters outside the building.

If you will be outside, please bring posters.  What to write on your poster?  Here are a few ideas:

ESEA Renewal Means Zero Leverage 

Our Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No More Education Without True Representation

We Support H.R. 524 – Mia Love’s Stop Common Core Bill 

We Support Utah Teachers

Thank You Mia Love – Pass HR 524

Stop Federal Micromanagement of Utah Schools

Don’t Renew Utah’s “No Child Left Behind” Waiver

Just Say No to the ESEA Waiver

No More Data Mining Our Children

Stop Feeding Our Tax Dollars to the Common Core Cartel

Restore Freedom to Utah Teachers and Students

Support Mia Love’s HR 524 – Restore Liberty in Education 

Thank You Mia Love

mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

 

     

      SCHEDULE – Utah State School Board Meeting February 6, 2015

  • Opening Business 8:00 – 8:15 AM
  • Public Participation/Comment 8:15 – 8:25 AM (sign up ahead of time)
  • Consent Calendar 8:25 – 8:30 AM
  • Discussion with Governor Herbert 8:30 – 9:30 AM (Note: Governor announced last week that he and the Utah Attorney General would meet with the Board this week)
  • Action Item/ ESEA Flexibility Renewal 9:30 – 10:15 AM

 

green too

 

Background Information:

On January 8, 2015, Utah’s State Board approved a Resolution calling for legislation amending and Reauthorizing the Federal ESEA Education Act.  Please check the monster ESEA Reauthorization bill sponsored by U. S. Senate Republicans that will destroy State Sovereignty, including Utah’s.

This Friday, Utah’s State Board will determine if Utah will submit a request to the Dept. of Education requesting a three-year renewal for the ESEA Flexibility Waiver and the continuation of the UCAS Accountability System. (Note: This is the End Game. 3-years of a new Waiver will buy the US Dept. of Education time to close the clamps on parental sovereignty, close down or severely alter private and district schools using Title 1 money, and dismantle school districts using charter “Choice” attached to Title 1  money.)

This State Board meeting is not even truly about education.  Academics are a fraction of what this vote will affect.  It’s really about the gradual abolishing of our representative form of government and what that means for our children long term.  Even the term “ESEA Flexibility” reveals the ongoing federal practice of rationing out parcels of flexibility according to the whims of the federal Department of Education– this doesn’t look like our constitutional inheritance of sovereignty and freedom at all.

Come downtown Friday morning.  Bring a neighbor.  Bring your children.  Make it a field trip.   Wear green.  Stand shoulder to shoulder with other parents, teachers, and grandparents who realize that we have to make our influence felt for the freedom and dignity of our precious children.  This is real.  Please stand with us.

Thank you!

Support Mia Love’s H.R. 524 “Stop Common Core” Bill   5 comments

 Utah’s Mia Love this week announced that she’s co-writing a bill with South Carolina’s Joe Wilson that will do what Lamar Alexander’s bill pretended it would do: restore freedom to education.
mia_love_utah_house_getty-e1346213855359

Love said:   “I’ve been working on a bill with Joe Wilson. Here’s a little information about it:

H.R. 524 – Local Control of Education Act
Introduced in the House on January 26, 2015
Mia Love, cosponsor

Summary: This legislation will restore local control of education by prohibiting the federal government from mandating that states adopt a specific curriculum or set of academic standards, such as Common Core. It will also prohibit the federal government from using grants or waivers to mandate or incentivize states into adopting Common Core, thus ensuring that local control is left to the states. For states that already adopted Common Core, it would ensure that any previous requirements for waivers would be void and the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from requiring states to agree to any new conditions in order to keep their existing waiver.

This legislation helps to counteract the unprecedented federal overreach of the last several years into instructional content, academic standards, and assessments.”

Thank you, Mia Love.

Let’s support the Love/Wilson bill!

 

mia-love-yellow-01

 

 

 

(If anyone has not yet written or called our D.C. representatives asking them to vote no on Lamar Alexander’s bill entitled “Every Child College and Career Ready Act of 2015,” please do so immediately.  Public comment on that Common Core-supporting bill ends tonight.  That email is:  FixingNCLB@help.senate.gov ).

Dr. Evers: Common Core Blocks Exit and Voice   10 comments

Dr. Evers’ article is published here with permission from the author.  It was also published at Education Week this  month.

 

THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS’ UNDEMOCRATIC PUSH

by Dr. Williamson M. Evers

“They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They  forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen.”

One of the most influential books in social science in the last 50 years is economist Albert O. Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.

In this pivotal 1970 book, Hirschman discusses how individuals react when services they rely on deteriorate. The basic responses available to us are “exit” and “voice,” Hirschman points out, where exit means turning to a different provider or leaving the area, and voice means political participation.

We tend to think of these responses as stark alternatives. Hirschman, as a social scientist, wanted us to consider the interplay between them.

Exit usually has lower costs than voice for the individual. With exit, you can avoid the long slog of politics and simply turn to someone else or move somewhere else.

But there is a limiting case: Exit can have high costs when individuals are loyal to institutions—thus the third component in Hirschman’s trio of exit, voice, and loyalty.

In the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States, he found Americans intensely loyal to their local schools. Americans saw schools as extensions of their families and neighborhoods. They viewed public schools as akin to voluntarily supported charities and as part of what social scientists today call civil society.

Tocqueville described township school committees that were deeply rooted in their local communities. State control of local public education took the form of an annual report sent by the township committee to the state capital. There was no national control.

Today, Americans retain much of the sentiment about local schools they had in Tocqueville’s day. But, increasingly, parents and taxpayers view the public schools as an unresponsive bureaucracy carrying out edicts from distant capitals. Today, we are dealing with a deteriorating situation in a declining institution, namely widespread ineffective instruction in the public schools.

The Common Core State Standards have come to the fore precisely at a time when civically active individuals care much more than they usually do about exit, voice, and loyalty. But the common core has denied voice and tried to block exit.

The common core’s designers have taken the existing bureaucracy and increased its centralization and uniformity. By creating the common-core content standards behind closed doors, the authors increased the alienation of the public from schools as institutions worthy of loyalty. The general public had no voice in creating or adopting the common core.

The other approach in times of a deteriorating public service is offering better exit options. But the common core’s proponents have created an almost inescapable national cartel.

There has long been a monopoly problem in public education, which was why economist Milton Friedman called for opportunity scholarships (also known as vouchers) to create a powerful exit option. But even in the absence of opportunity scholarships and charter schools, we had some exit options in the past because of competitive federalism, meaning horizontal competition among jurisdictions.

Economist Caroline Hoxby studied metropolitan areas with many school districts (like Boston) and metropolitan areas contained within one large district (like Miami or Los Angeles). She found that student performance is better in areas with competing multiple districts, where parents at the same income level can move to another locality, in search of a better education.

We have also seen competitive federalism work in education at the interstate level. Back in the 1950s, education in Mississippi and North Carolina performed at the same low level. North Carolina tried a number of educational experiments and moved ahead of Mississippi. Likewise, Massachusetts moved up over the years from mediocre to stellar.

The common core’s promoters are endeavoring to suppress competitive federalism. The common core’s rules and its curriculum guidance are the governing rules of a cartel. The common core’s promoters and their federal facilitators wanted a cartel that would override competitive federalism and shut down the curriculum alternatives that federalism would allow.

The new common-core-aligned tests, whose development was supported with federal funds, function to police the cartel. All long-lasting cartels must have a mechanism for policing and punishing those seen as shirkers and chiselers, or, in other words, those who want to escape the cartel’s strictures or who want increased flexibility so they can succeed.

The new leadership of the College Board by David Coleman, one of the common core’s chief architects, is being used to corral Catholic schools, other private schools, and home-schooling parents into the cartel. The proponents of the common core have now established a clearinghouse for authorized teaching materials to try to close off any remaining possible avenue of escaping the cartel.

What was the rationale for the common core? The name given to the Obama administration’s signature school reform effort, the Race to the Top program, promotes the idea that the federal government needs to step in and lead a race. Central to this rhetoric is the idea that state performance standards were already on a downward slide and that, without nationalization, standards would inexorably continue on a “race to the bottom.”

I would disagree. While providers of public education certainly face the temptation to do what might look like taking the easy way out by letting academic standards decline, there is also countervailing pressure in the direction of higher standards.

If state policymakers and education officials let content standards slip, low standards will damage a state’s reputation for having a trained workforce. Such a drop in standards will even damage the policymakers’ own reputations.

In 2007, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looked empirically at state performance standards over time in a study called “The Proficiency Illusion.” The study showed that, while states had a variety of performance standards (as would be expected in a federal system), the supposed “race to the bottom” was not happening. The proponents of the common core are wrong in their claims that state performance standards were inevitably on a downward slide.

The common core, in fact, provided relief from competitive pressure from other states. Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia at the time that the common core was created (the initiative was launched in 2009, and the standards were released in 2010), did not like it when the low-performing students of his state were compared with students in other states with standards different from Georgia’s. He became the lead governor in bringing the National Governors Association into the national standards effort. Nationalizing standards and tests eliminated them as differentiated school reform instruments that could be used by states in competition over educational attainment among the states.

The common core undermines citizens’ exit option and competitive federalism. It was designed to do so. It likewise evades and negates the voice option. But the makers of this malign utopia have forgotten a few things.

They forgot that the desire for a voice, the desire for political action, can become particularly intense when people are faced with the prospect of nowhere to exit to. They forgot that hemming in parents and teachers would create a demand for alternatives and escape routes. Alternatives to the national common-core-aligned tests have arisen. States are dropping these national tests. States are also struggling to escape the common-core cartel itself. Parents are opting out of common-core testing.

By trying to block exit and voice, the designers and proponents of the Common Core State Standards have caused blowback: A large parent-, teacher-, and community-based movement has arisen to oppose the common core and its national tests.

 

Dr. Stotsky: How to Maintain the Massachusetts Education Miracle   Leave a comment

        

   

by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

Not by using Common Core-based standards and tests, for sure, or anything that looks like them.  As anyone can see, the English language arts and mathematics standards dumped by the Governor Patrick-appointed Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in July 2010 are nothing like Common Core’s standards. Unlike Common Core’s standards, which are not designed to prepare American high school students for authentic college coursework, the Commonwealth’s previous standards accelerated the academic achievement of minority groups in the state and did prepare our grade 10 students for authentic college coursework.  Yet, Massachusetts parents, legislators, and teachers have been regularly told for five years that standards cleverly labeled “college and career ready” are better than those they replaced because the old ones didn’t prepare our students for authentic college coursework, just for a high school diploma.  The facts tell otherwise.

 

We know that achievement on the grade 10 MCAS was related to authentic college readiness from a report relating our high school students’ performance on their grade 10 MCAS to the type of public college they enrolled in after graduation in 2005 and the extent of remedial coursework they needed.* Almost all the students at the Advanced level and about 80% of the students at the Proficient level who had enrolled in four-year public colleges and universities in the Bay State in 2005 needed no remediation in mathematics or reading.  They were college-ready as well as high-school diploma-ready, whether or not they took a mathematics course in their senior year of high school (which the report doesn’t tell us).  That is exactly the way the system should work.

 

On the other hand, about half of the 2005 high school graduating students who had enrolled in a Massachusetts community college in 2005 and had earlier been placed at the Needs Improvement level on a grade 10 MCAS test needed remediation in mathematics, reading, or both.  (Again, we don’t know if they had taken a mathematics course in their senior year of high school.)  Sounds completely rational.

 

Yet, the Patrick-appointed Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided in July 2010 that students enrolling in a state college after graduation from high school should not be required to take any college course without college credit if they passed a grade 11 test deeming them “college ready.”   In other words, no placement test or enrollment in a non-credit-bearing developmental course in reading or mathematics.  Instead, students needing improvement must be given credit for the courses they take, whether or not they are academically ready for them.

 

Clearly, their readiness depends on the academic quality and rigor of this grade 11 “college readiness” test, about to be given in Massachusetts high schools in 2015.  Yet, we know from many mathematicians (e.g., R. James Milgram of Stanford, Marina Ratner of Berkeley, Jason Zimba of Bennington) that Common Core’s mathematics standards do not prepare students for STEM careers—the jobs of the 21st century.  And it is obvious to anyone who compares the reading passages used over the years on the grade 10 MCAS with the sample reading passages for the grade 11 Common Core-based reading test that the overall reading level of the passages on the latter test is not higher than the overall reading level of the passages on the grade 10 MCAS test.

 

So who are the chief victims of this gross public deception?  Minority students, especially African-American students.** They are the students for whom Common Core’s standards and tests were created in order to label them college-ready when they aren’t. In the 2005 report, they were featured as having lower “persistence” rates than most other demographic groups, as having a lower Grade Point Average than Asian/Pacific Islanders (2.5 to 2.8), and as earning a lower number of credits on average during their first year of college than Asian/Pacific Islanders (22.7 to 27.1), even though more than 80% of all students in the 2005 school-to-college cohort remained enrolled for a second year of college in 2006.

 

Instead of finding commendations for their persistence and their college-going rates, readers are left to infer that they are so hopeless that the only solution to the “gaps” in demographic performance between African-American students and Asian/Pacific Islanders is to reduce the academic demands of the high school curriculum for all students. Why not restore the standards that actually turned out to help make all Massachusetts students better prepared for high school and for college?  Why do Massachusetts legislators and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education want to believe what they have been told by organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, when these organizations seem to be the only ones who have benefitted from states that have committed to the use of Common Core’s standards.

 

*Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Massachusetts Board of Education. Massachusetts School-to-College Report: High School Class of 2005. February 2008. http://www.mass.edu/reports

 

** http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_g12_2013/#/

 

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For more by Dr. Stotsky on this, read this Pioneer Institute article.

For more on the Massachusetts education miracle, read this article.

Why U.S. Education Needs the U.S. Constitution Now   4 comments

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Phillip Hamburger, law professor at Columbia Law School, gave a moving speech at Hillsdale College about the Constitution, also published in Imprimis this year.  It laid out more clearly than I’d seen it before, exactly how the U.S. has strayed from our Constitution, and how it’s endangering us.  His speech was titled, “The History and Danger of Administrative Law”.

Professor Hamburger made no allusion to education reforms, yet he wonderfully, as a bonus, happened to explain the foundational problem of the Common Core Initiative: that the governance system of Common Core is unrepresentative, unconstitutional and dangerous.  Here’s how.

Hamburger explained that administrative law revives something that the Constitution barred:  prerogative, or absolute power.  He wrote: “Administrative law is commonly defended as a new sort of power, a product of the 19th and the 20th centuries that developed to deal with the problems of modern society in all its complexity… What I will suggest, in contrast, is that administrative power is actually very old.”

Old is right.  Throughout history, countless generations suffered because others have wielded power over their lives.  The whole purpose of the suffering and sacrifices of American pilgrims and pioneers was to escape unbalanced, top-down, often cruel, power.  The success and freedom of the USA stemmed from the Constitution’s restraining of human power over other humans, and its strict limitation of its own government, and its checking and spreading of power, in order to avoid the cycle of oppression that the founders fled.  The Constitution gives no lawmaking power to anyone but Congress.

Hamburger said, “Put simply, administrative acts are binding or constraining edicts that come, not through law, but through other
mechanisms or pathways…In a way we can think of administrative law as a form of off-road driving… For those in the driver’s seat, this can be quite exhilarating. For the rest of us, it’s a little unnerving.

off

Reading this, I thought about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who drove off-road when he made regulations and policy changes to what Congress had long ago created in the privacy-protecting federal FERPA laws, so that he could meet his education data mining goals, which included (as outlined in his cooperative agreements* with state testing consortia) the sharing of “student-level data” –subject to law. Duncan had to alter that law. He shredded the previously protective FERPA when he made those regulatory changes.   The Electronic Privacy Information Center sued him for it.  But Duncan got away with it.  Case dismissed.

I also thought of Duncan’s waving of money in front of cash-strapped states, tempting/coercing states into adopting Common standards and assessments and database systems in exchange for money.  Off-road again.  No basis in Constitutionality, just in cash.

I also thought about  the little unauthorized onto-the-road drive taken by a little private club with a misleading name, the National Governors’ Association (NGA) which acts as if it were a legitimate voice for the people, as if it were Congress.  NGA created, promoted and copyrighted these national standards, (the Common Core) as well as partnering with CCSSO in making national data collection standards (CEDS).  The CCSSO and NGA hold no representational authority over education.  It’s a giant bluff, and would almost be laughable, but it’s not funny, because it damages America.

I also thought about the blurring of lines of authority and power that happen with the creation of public-private-partnerships.  When NGA and its sister-club, the superintendents’ club, CCSSO, partnered with the federal government and with Bill Gates to create education policy, Common Core bypassed Congress in two ways: by federal overreach plus corporate overreach –into what ought to be the states’ voters’ decision making arena.

Here’s a screenshot, evidence that the federal government has partnered with the private club that copyrighted Common Core and created Common Data Standards:

ccsso eimac dept of ed ceds

Remember our Constitution.  It says that ALL legislative powers shall be vested in a Congress.  Congress is supposed to make the laws.  The Department of Education isn’t Congress. Neither is the National Governors’ Association, and neither is Bill Gates.  Their assumption of unauthorized power over education policy, rather than having voters, via their Congressional representatives, to determine how education goes, is a clear corruption.

So what about corruption? Who cares?

Here’s why we must care. Hamburger writes that administrative law is “essentially a reemergence of the absolute power practiced by pre-modern kings. Rather than a modern necessity, it is a latterday version of a recurring threat—a threat inherent in human nature and in the temptations of power.”

He reminds us: “Early Americans were very familiar with absolute power. They feared this extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated
power because they knew from English history that such power could
evade the law and override all legal rights… Americans established the Constitution to be the source of all government power and to bar any absolute power. Nonetheless, absolute power has come back to life.”

He goes on: “ over the past 120 years, Americans have reestablished the very sort of power that the Constitution most centrally forbade. Administrative law… binds Americans not through law but through other mechanisms—not through statutes but through regulations—and not through the decisions of courts but through other adjudications. It… requires judges to put aside their independent
judgment and defer to administrative power as if it were above the
law—which our judges do far more systematically than even the worst
of 17th century English judges. And it is consolidated in that it combines the three powers of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—in administrative agencies.”

He concludes:  “In sum, the conventional understanding of administrative law is utterly mistaken. It is wrong on the history and
oblivious to the danger. That danger is absolutism: extra-legal, supra-legal, and consolidated power. And the danger matters because administrative power revives this absolutism. The Constitution carefully barred this threat, but constitutional doctrine has
since legitimized this dangerous sort of power. It therefore is necessary to go back to basics…  We should demand rule through law and rule under law. Even more fundamentally, we need to reclaim the vocabulary of law: Rather than speak of administrative law, we should speak of administrative power—indeed, of absolute power...”

Read the rest here.

Thank you so much, Professor Hamburger.

imrs

——

*Today, I noticed that the Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Education and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia link says “webpage not available.” But I had typed it into another post, not in full but at length, if you are interested, here.

Update: High-Stakes Testing Pushback News   Leave a comment

 tes

Once again, we are indebted to Colorado Principal Bob Schaeffer who has collected this list of national news articles about pushback concerning high-stakes tests in the U.S.

Before I post the list of news articles, I want to share a concern recently raised by Utah Dr. Gary Thompson: that perhaps the heated, national testing pushback could result in public acceptance of another nascent trend called stealth assessments. What do you think?  Stealth Assessments are tests that are so deeply embedded into the curriculum and into video-game-based assignments that students do not suffer from test anxiety, not knowing they are being tested; but parents cannot easily opt children out of the tests; and in fact, teachers may be unaware that any testing/data mining is going on during stealth assessment. The tests blur the lines between assessment and curriculum. Is that to be the solution to all the test trouble?  Which is worse? View Dr. Thompson’s full lecture on SAGE testing (Utah’s Common Core testing) here.  See minute 35 for information on stealth assessments.

Now, here is the testing pushback news list:

2015 Will Be “Crunch Time” for New Common Core Assessments
http://www.districtadministration.com/article/outlook-assessments-crunch-time-common-core

Republican U.S. Senate Aides Drafting Bill to Overhaul “No Child” Law; May Eliminate Annual Testing Rule
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/12/gop_senate_aides_working_on_dr.html

Los Angeles Superintendent Seeks Suspension of California’s Test-Based School Rating System
http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2014/12/15/17683/lausd-superintendent-seeks-state-testing-relief/

Annual Testing Not Beneficial to Colorado Parents, Teachers Says New Survey
http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101987812292-130/DAPE+survey+money+results+pdf+executive+summary.pdf
Opt-Outs Reduce Colorado’s 12th Grade Test Participation Rate to 83%
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/12/10/cde-participation-rate-only-83-percent-for-12th-grade-tests/#.VIihrC7vcZw

Is This the “Mean Season” for Educating Connecticut Children
http://ctmirror.org/op-ed-is-this-the-mean-season-for-educating-our-children/

Delaware’s Test-Data Fetishism Doesn’t Work
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/13/education-departments-solution-work/20331407/#.

Backlash Against Testing Overkill Finds Home in Florida, Where It All Began
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/national-backlash-against-school-testing-finds-an-audience-in-florida/2209931

 

More Florida Families Opting Out of Standardized Exams
http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/more-and-more-parents-opting-out-standardized-test/njRTd/
Many Florida Teachers Resign Over Common Core Testing Demands
http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/osceola-co-teachers-resigning-en-masse-over-common/njPXY/?nmredir=true

Idaho Board of Ed Appoints Parent, Teacher, Community Committee to Review Test Items for Bias
http://magicvalley.com/news/local/state-committee-to-review-standardized-test-questions/article_325c5da6-6c21-534f-8cb8-407d86f06e2b.html

Chicago Mayoral Candidate Wants to Slash Illinois’ School Testing Requirements
http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/garcia-unveils-education-plan-vows-cut-back-testing/thu-12112014-345pm

Indiana Education Dean: Test-Based Teacher Measures Are Not Fair
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/12/09/indiana-education-dean-teacher-measures-arent-fair/#.VIhcfy7vcZw

PARCC Test Creates New Hurdle for Maryland English Language Learners
http://news.wypr.org/post/new-state-standardized-tests-pose-unique-challenges-new-english-speakers
The Rising Tide of Maryland Opt Outs
http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/education/the-rising-tide-of-opting-out/article_f4d38eeb-83f8-5703-baa6-bd7692ac726f.html

Michigan Test Changes Frustrate Educators
http://www.cadillacnews.com/news_story/?story_id=1823394&year=2014&issue=20141213

New Jersey Parents: Students Take Too Many Standardized Exams
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2014/12/09/marlboro-tests/20136527/

New Mexico Teachers Think Online PARCC Test Will Confuse Students
http://www.abqjournal.com/512077

North Carolina Parents Worry About Schools Testing Too Much
http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/12/13/buncombe-parents-worry-schools-testing-much/20381487/

Growing Support Across Ohio to Limit High-Stakes Tests
http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/growing-support-limit-highstakes-tests-schools-21949.shtml

Telling the Truth About Oklahoma Standardized Testing
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/you-just-heard-it-we-must_b_6319886.html

Philadelphia City Council Resolution on Pennsylvania State Testing — as Adopted
http://www.workingeducators.org/call_city_council_support_the_standardized_testing_resolution
Impact of Philadelphia City Council Resolution on Opt-Outs and State Ratings
http://thenotebook.org/blog/148033/effect-student-opt-outs-schools

Tennessee Gov. Proposes Temporary Roll Back in Student-Test Weight in Teacher Evaluations
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2014/12/push_to_reduce_test_scores_weight_in_evaluations_announced_by_tenn_governor.html

Texas Advocates for Meaningful Student Assessment Posts Reform Agenda
http://www.tamsatx.org/

What Arne Duncan Says vs What Arne Duncan Does
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/12/10/what-arne-duncan-says-vs-what-arne-duncan-does/

Duncan Brings the Sham of VAM to Teacher Evaluation
http://www.livingindialogue.com/duncan-brings-sham-vam-teacher-education/

School “Reform” Flunks the Test
https://theamericanscholar.org/school-reform-fails-the-test/

Thirty Years of Failed “Accountability” Policies
http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/2014-ncuea-fall-conference-thirty-years-of-accountability-deserves-an-f/

What (Besides Tests) Should Count?
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_california/2014/12/paul_tough_on_what_besides_tests_should_count.html

Who Is Really Failing Students
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/whos-really-failing-students/

Season of Protest: Interview with Jesse Hagopian
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-berkshire/high-stakes-testing-protests_b_6295622.html

Bad Ass Teachers Call on Sec. Duncan to Investigate Civil Rights Abuses From Testing
http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2014/12/bats-send-open-letter-to-secretary.html

The Testing Camera: A Cartoon Allegory
http://fablevisionlearning.com/blog/2014/12/the-testing-camera/

United Opt Out National Conference — Jan. 1618, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale
http://unitedoptout.com/2014/11/30/united-opt-out-stand-up-for-action-florida-schedule/

Pullman: 7 Things Politicians Say to Make You Think They Oppose Common Core   1 comment

joy_pullmann_headshots-17

Joy Pullman’s new must-read article at The Federalist is: “Seven Things Politicians Will Say to Make You Think They Oppose Common Core”.

Linked, documented and easy to read, this article delivers a long-needed direct punch to the gut of the hypocritical politicians (and school board candidates and others) who claim to be “for local control,” for parents’ rights, for teachers, for children—- some even claim to be against Common Core— but all the while, their left hand is undoing whatever their right hand does.  Pullman’s article explains this hypocrisy so well.  Her seven points are:

1. Scott Walker: Let’s Create Another Educrat Committee

 

2. Mike Pence: But We Can’t Lose Our NCLB Waiver

3. Mike Huckabee: It’s Not Common Core, It’s the Name

 

4. John Kasich: We Still Have Local Control

 

5. Jeb Bush: I Will Never Support a National Curriculum

 

6. Bobby Jindal: The Feds Ruined Common Core

 

7. Senators: I Can’t Do Anything Because It’s a State Issue

Pullman also exposes the still-little-known fact that Common Core is NOT just academic standards but also common data standards and databases.

She explains that the federal government is “sending states millions to create identical student databases that plug directly into Common Core K-12 testing pipelines so everyone’s personal information can be collected in a government dossier. Are these senators saying they have no power to stop things they or their predecessors (mostly) authorized? Are they saying they can’t sign onto bills that prevent federal involvement with Common Core, testing, or curriculum? That once an executive decides to run all over Congress and the laws, no one can stop him? If so, time to get someone else into their offices who thinks Congress is more than a bunch of bobble heads. At the very least, they could be honest like Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who recently went from supporting Common Core to opposing it, and to prove his conversion has introduced a bill that would prohibit the federal government from mandating or incentivizing curriculum mandates, tests, or curriculum. It seems to be a strong bill, but here’s the problem: The U.S. Department of Education is already ignoring three laws that prohibit its Common Core-pushing. Adding another doesn’t seem likely to change its behavior. That means what really needs to happen is cutting USDOE off at the knees by slashing its budget and responsibilities.

Any takers? Rand Paul? Anyone?”

Read the rest here.

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Thank you, Joy Pullman.

 

Video: Alaska Legislators Hear Experts Testify Against Common Core   1 comment


From Alaska with love.

Here’s a video that I hadn’t seen before, made last spring as Alaska legislators listened to expert testimony about Common Core.  It’s long, but truly worth the time.  My plan was to listen while I folded laundry but I kept throwing down the laundry to run over and replay a section, cheering for the vital testimonies being presented.

One of the jumping-and-cheering parts was Professor Anthony Esolen –on the ham-handed writing of the Common Core English standards– which starts at minute 19:00 and goes to about 27:00.

He vividly expressed how during this era of trash-literature, when it is more important than ever to bring students to great books, the Common Core fails us; it doesn’t even introduce students to their great literary heritage except in little fragments and shards; it fails to coherently teach grammar; it tragically kills any chance at kindling a deep love of reading, suffocating under information-text mandates the needed wide exposure to imaginative and classic literature.

It’s understated to say that the meeting grew a bit tense.  Those gathered did not seem to agree even on whether or not Alaska’s standards are the same as Common Core standards.  Key attendees appeared unmoved by the logical, passionate expressions given by testifiers, their minds likely having been made up prior to the testimonies.

At this link, watch the  discussion, introduced by Representative Lora Reinbold.  Testifiers include: Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College; Anthony Eselon of Providence College; Sandra Stotsky (ret.) University of Arkansas; Ze’ev Wurman, former Department of Education Official (Bush Admin.), NEA Ron Fuhrer President; Marty Van Diest, parent; Troy Carlock and Joe Alward, teachers; and Mike Hanley, Commissioner of Education.

Enjoy.

http://www.360north.org/gavel-archives/?event_id=2147483647_2014031349

Herbert’s Spending to Cement Utah to Common Core and Common Data Standards   Leave a comment

imagesgreen

The Governor’s new budget plan is making news this week, with most of the tax surplus money planned for Utah “education.” That’s the governor’s pipeline-based definition of education, not education as most of us would define it.  His “education funding” funds the state’s SLDS data-mining aligned programs made palatable to citizens and legislators under the branding of “education.”)

It’s tragic and ironic that the Governor has often said that Utah can get out of Common Core anytime we want to.  The Utah Attorney General validated that statement in his  report, saying that Utah’s Common Core doesn’t cede control to the federal government.  (See rebuttal to the report here.)

But how would Utah free herself now of Common Core?

We’ve decided to sign away, in ink made of the sweat and blood of taxpayers who earned the hundreds of millions— any real possibility of withdrawal from the Common Core.

How would Utah ever get out of Common Core after recreating our whole education system based on the experiment of Common Core and Common Data aligned technologies and tests?  (Not only that– we are now leading others along:  Utah now gains millions by selling our Common Core test questions to other states, making them dependent on us for their own Common Core assessments.)

How foolish are we, to keep investing and investing— in something that was built on a sandy, utterly experimental, and unconstitutional foundation from the start?

The Governor’s even planning to hike gas taxes to support his enthusiasm for the workforce-pipeline version of “education”.  The Deseret News reported that “The governor’s spending plan… puts pressure on lawmakers to look at a gas tax increase by calling for $94.2 million in sales taxes earmarked for transportation to instead be used for education.”  

The Utah Board of Education praised the governor this week: “The Board of Education is very pleased that the Governor recommends such a large investment in Utah’s public education and its children. Like the Governor, the Board of Education believes the best educational policy in Utah is made in Utah by Utahns.

Sadly, these are lies.  The funding decisions aren’t set up to bless children. The programs being funded just promote centralized–not local– control.

This week’s decision to spend more than has ever been spent before on “education” is almost entirely focused on Common Core and Common Data Standards-aligned technology.  These are D.C. based systems.

Aligning to these systems is not motivated by care for children.  Foremost it benefits the market; secondly, it benefits Sec. Duncan’s and the CCSSO’s unconstitutional programs and policies: it’s top-down, rather than local, accountability.

This is far from being policy being “made in Utah by Utahns.”  This is voter-unvetted policy being duplicated precisely from policies laid out by Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates/Microsoft/Pearson Inc, CCSSO, Choice SolutionsUtrex, and the rest of the partnered organizations and corporations that profit deeply from Utah’s taxpayers’ gullibility and the same-ifying of Common Core (CCSS) education and Common Data (CEDS) education data systems.

Remember that Common Core/Common Ed Data  financier Bill Gates said: “We’ll only know that this effort has succeeded when the currriculum and tests are aligned to these standards …The Common Core …when the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well, and it will unleash a powerful market… For the first time, there will be a large, uniform base of customers“.

That “powerful market” and its “uniform base of customers” includes Utah’s clueless taxpayers and legislature.  Gates’ customer base is being funded by Governor Herbert to benefit the Utah Chamber of Commerce and the D.C. based, Gates-funded, private organizations behind Common Core.

fish

It was Gates who funded CCSSO, both the CCSSO’s  copyrighting of the Common Core and its creation of CEDS common data standards used in the State Interoperability Framework (SIF) that the federal government mandated for all states’ use in each SLDS “education” tracking database.

The Governor’s new budget gives:

“$500 million for the state’s public and higher education systems, bringing total state education spending to approximately $4 billion. The Governor recommends over $340 million in support of public education…Major investments include $10.7 million for the Utah Education Network (UEN) to connect schools by providing statewide technology  infrastructure. [This is the SLDS database.] An additional $56 million …provides funds for buildings or technology infrastructure to small school districts… The budget recommends $1.5 million for innovative approaches and collaboration for
college and career counseling and $2.4 million for the Utah Futures website.”

These  budgetary decisions do not educate.  They strengthen the tracking systems, the prediction systems, the control systems.

Do you see the tragic humor in these words from the governor’s budget?

Unlike those who want to micromanage the public education system from the state level, the Governor believes that the state should establish general policy goals and expected outcomes and allow local control in the specific methods of attaining those goals.

The opposite is happening.

Utah’s SLDS database, which was built to federal specs, using common data standards (CEDS) and an SIF national-interoperability framework, from which no Utah school district nor parent may opt any child out, does not allow any kind of “local control”.  Neither does funding “Utah Futures,” which calls itself the one-stop career and college readiness* website and which fulfils the Governor’s socialistic workforce focus that puts citizens in a cradle-to-workforce “P-20” human capital pipeline, with central planning and far less personal freedom in education– just like China.

I wish our legislature were not afraid of offending those who accuse them of not funding “the needs of the children”–who give in and fund anything calling itself education.  Funding for UEN, Utah Futures, SLDS technologies and Common Core testing infrastructures is not meeting children’s needs. Shame on those who say that it is.

Shame on this foolish waste of hundreds of millions of vital tax money on the shackles of Common Core.

 

green

*Career and college readiness, college-and-career-ready standards, and any other similar sounding word, means in the redefined langugage of the Department of Education, Common Core aligned.

Louisiana Senator’s Bill to Free States From Common Core   8 comments

Vitter

 

The Daily Signal reported yesterday that Louisiana Senator David Vitter has filed a bill that would help ease the way for any state to opt out of Common Core.

Breitbart News reported that Vitters used to be a Common Core supporter, but is now opposed.

Vitter’s new bill intends to enable states to more easily exit the national Common Core standards, which so many parents and educators now oppose, by voiding requirements attached to issued waivers from federal law. The Daily Signal reports: “States likely could retain their waivers from the law, called No Child Left Behind, even if they chose to pull out of Common Core.”

Breitbart News reported that Vitters explained why he changed his stance on Common Core:  “After listening to literally thousands of parents, teachers, and others…I don’t believe that we can achieve that Louisiana control, buy-in, and success I’m committed to if we stay in Common Core…

“First, Common Core is controlled by national groups and interests outside Louisiana… many Louisianans legitimately fear that it will become a federal government takeover of education under President Obama and his far-left allies.

“Second, Common Core is causing deep frustration and worse in many classrooms and homes, and not because of greater rigor… “It’s preventing lots of involved parents and teachers — our most important education leaders — from being effective and helping kids learn.”

Vitter added that a third reason for his change of heart is his view that “an entrenched few in public education are trying very hard to manipulate the Common Core controversy to greatly weaken or reverse accountability measures.”

Senator Vitters proposed that his home state:

  • Exit the Common Core PARRC testing consortium immediately and adopt a rigorous interim test that is not aligned with Common Core.

  • Have the Governor, Legislature, and BESE convene a blue-ribbon panel of Louisiana parents, teachers, experts from higher education, and business leaders to develop an updated system of rigorous Louisiana standards and testing outside of Common Core/PARCC.

  • Require that this new system be developed, debated, and adopted in a fully inclusive, transparent, and democratic way.

  • Implement it in a careful, methodical manner, unlike the roll-out of Common Core.

Thank you, Senator Vitter.

Video: New York Forum on Taking Back Education from the Common Core Agendists   Leave a comment

This month in Wappingers Falls, New York, a panel presented concrete ideas for how to take back control of education from the federal government and from its corporate Common Core partners.

To these ideas, add the brilliant idea recently presented by Utah Dad Oak Norton.  View that here.

 

Video: Utah Dad Oak Norton’s Solution: 116 School Districts, Parents Empowered   Leave a comment

Utah Dad Oak Norton runs a yearly freedom-in-education conference and website called “Agency Based Education (ABE).”  At this year’s ABE conference in Provo, Utah, he presented an exciting, specific solution that could go a long way toward reclaiming local power over education.

He explained that if every high school in the state were to become its own district, rather than having 40 districts Utah would have 116.  This would almost triple the number of elected, local school board members, allowing much more personal, accountable leadership to take place.  It would mean that each board would be directly responsible to about 4,000 students rather than the current average of over 13,000 students.

Norton explained that empowering local parents by electing far, far greater numbers of them to local school boards, over smaller districts, echoes what the founders promoted, (which is exactly the opposite of what education reforms are doing today).

Jefferson said, “the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many…   What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body.”

This screen shot, from Norton’s presentation, shows the current Utah system versus what could be:

 

abe

The principles and ideas presented in this video could dramatically empower local control if legislators, encouraged by their consituents, would take notice.   Please watch and share this video.

Missouri Common Core Test Use Altered by Restraining Order   4 comments

missouri

A judge has issued a restraining order in Missouri that says that Missouri is “restrained from making any payments in the form of membership fees to the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium… including but not limited to disbursements pursuant to “Invoice #1″ issued to the State.”  The restraining order is, at least temporarily, halting [some aspects of] Common Core SBAC tests in the state.

According to the Missouri Education Watchdog, “the Solicitor General, in arguing for the state defendant, argued that  if the fees were not paid, there would be no assessments available in Missouri schools this year at all.  This contradicts what an SBAC spokesperson said on the phone to legal counsel for the plaintiff when she said  that the membership fees are separate and distinct from the charge for using the assessments.  It also seems to contradict provisions of federal regulations that require the assessments developed by the consortia to be generally available to non-member states…  if other states were to withdraw their membership based on the same grounds, this would require a significant reorganization of the test supplier into a commercial venture as opposed to a testing consortia…  it would weaken the federal government’s requirement that states use the consortia tests in order to comply with federal regulation or waivers, because then the federal government would be granting a monopoly to a particular private company.

This ruling is a sign that the court sees some merit in the case, that SBAC may be an illegal interstate compact and thus the state’s membership in it should be null and void.

Update:  Missouri Education Watchdog has asked to make the following clarification/correction.  Here it is:

The TRO does not stop the state from implementing the SBAC test. It simply stops the state from paying any money to SBAC in the form of membership payments. The state will continue with its plans to administer the SBAC test in spring 2015, but the recently passed HB1490 prohibits the student scores from that test from being used in teacher evaluations or district accreditation determinations. They call it a “Pilot” test. The money we pay them would have to be classified as a purchase of SBAC… 

We were stuck in an odd situation where the company that serviced our previous test (we called it MAP) stopped providing that test in 2014 so continuing with that for another year while we develop new standards was not even an option. The legislature went for the easier temporary fix of allowing the state to use SBAC for our NCLB accountability while the new standards are being developed. They didn’t have the guts of KY to simply say we won’t be providing test data for a year. “

 

Duncan Distances Himself from San Diego Protesters   2 comments

Adding to the Breitbart report that many have already have seen is this report by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was present during this month’s Common Core promotional visit by Secretary of Education to California.  The U.S. Secretary of Education ignored parent protesters but spoke about his programs for implementing Common Core, including his aim to lengthen the school day and to extend each school year to year-round school.  Dr. Stotsky stands in the middle of San Diego protesters in this photo.

Sandra cropped

USDE Not Interested in Parents’ Perspective on Common Core

By Sandra Stotsky

 

While Professors R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky were on a 13-city speaking tour throughout California (joined by Ze’ev Wurman in Southern California) in November, a protest rally against Common Core by parents in San Diego took place.  What exactly were they protesting?  A speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, invited by the Council for Chief State School Officers for prime time at its 2014 Annual Policy Forum at the U.S. Grant Hotel.  The advanced description of his speech suggested that his talk was to center on ways to promote implementation of Common Core, such as by lengthening the school day and extending the school year to include summer as well as fall, winter, and spring. A few protesters wondered if parents would be given visiting rights.

 

While marching back and forth in front of the main door to the hotel, they asked the security guards to let Duncan, CCSSO officers, and the state superintendents in the audience know they were outside. No invitation to come in and listen to Duncan’s speech was forthcoming. The protesting parents outside the hotel were completely ignored by the CCSSO, Duncan, and the state superintendents listening to him, just as parents across the country have been ignored by them for five years. Not one public meeting with upset parents in any state by a US Department of Education official, a state board of education, a state commissioner or superintendent of education, a governor, a local board of education, or a local superintendent.

 

This is apparently the official federal policy toward the parents of the children in our public schools on whom the states have imposed the deeply flawed educational policies associated with Common Core: Keep them at a distance.

 —————————————————–

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky.

This is a pattern. Recently, a federal agent from the Department of Education visited Salt Lake City.  Although Utahns Against Common Core organized a protest during this event  to call attention to the federal visit and to support Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s letter of rebuke of the Department of Education and its false assumption of authority, the Salt Lake City protest was, like the San Diego protest, completely ignored by the visiting federal agent.   (“Keep them at a distance.”)

Video: Common Core Panelists: Kurtz, Evers, McClusky, Estrada, Rebarber   1 comment

Heritage Foundation hosted a panel this month to inform and update the public about Common Core.   The introduction by Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation includes her story of New Jersey homeschoolers who are being told by the state that they must conform to Common Core, even in home school.   Burke also cites the rapid decline of teacher support for the Common Core, from 76% down to only 46% according to the latest poll.  Enjoy.

 

Panelists:

Stanley Kurtz, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and contributing editor, National Review Online

Ted Rebarber
CEO and Founder, AccountabilityWorks

Neal McCluskey, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Educational Freedom, The Cato Institute

William Estrada
Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

Williamson M. Evers
Research fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   40 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

First Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   1 comment

Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
app
According to Utah law, a 15-member parent committee must be assembled to review the test questions on the Common Core SAGE test prior to the test being administered statewide.
Members of the committee now report that, contrary to what was reported by the Utah State Office of Education and the media, there was no consensus of approval on SAGE by the parent committee. Several members want to set the record straight. Here is the first of what will be a series of parental testimonies that all was not well with SAGE tests.  This comes from committee member Molly Foster, with her permission.

Email from Molly Foster (written to the other members of the 15-parent committee to review SAGE test questions)

… In the spring when I was made aware of the USOE putting words in my mouth I contacted Judy Park several times, through email and phone messages to no avail until I sent a more honest email to her one day, she immediately responded. I will enclose our emailed conversation.

…The results of the SAGE test across the state were not surprising for the 5 Supers I spoke to in southern Utah. Judy Park herself told them in training that the students would fail until they got all the curriculum aligned, this could take years, and quite frankly by then they will have another mandatory program they are shoving down each district’s throat, keeping everybody busy testing instead of teaching, and most importantly nurturing human relationships within their own schools and communities… Let’s not forget that the test scores are also tied to school grades, and teacher performance pay.

As a teacher, I believe formative and summative assessing is best done at district level. An antiquated idea, I know. While our law makers spend their time passing bills with the impression they are providing a little vehicles for educators in their state to produce “college and career ready” students, even “globally” ready for life I have to laugh (in order to not cry).
Last I checked, this is America! The rest of the world is trying to come here to work and live. Remember? We have the liberty and freedom to work and educate people as we so desire. Comparing test scores to kids in Scandinavia or Singapore does nothing. Their kids in the end have no choice of whether they will pursue arts, science, technology, this is decided for them before many have even hit puberty! I love that American kids get to choose. Some may really like science through high school but when they begin college they may find a new love for the arts and find a degree in that pursuit. In America you may even decide NOT to go to college (gasp!). Isn’t this the greatest country?!
The state is not going to get rid of a 38 million dollar exam anytime in the next few years. The parent committee is nothing but a political move they will continue to use to their advantage as long as ya’ll stay quiet and polite. Best case scenario for me would be to administer it only at the end of the year, just like the old state tests.
Cut any ties it has to teacher performance pay, and school grading. If they think this is silly you should tell Judy Park and the rest of the USOE staff and all the legislators to take it themselves three times a year, tell them they will be fired if they don’t score at an appropriate global level. Tell them not to get nervous when they sit down in front of a computer for 2-4 hours a day, for 5 days, 3 times yearly. They might have to start “working to the test” but in the end it will all be worth it, I am sure they will immediately understand why this multi million dollar test is the only way to make them college and career ready. They will see how easy it is to judge their workday hours on a CAT exam, they can grade each employee and determine pay scales on their scores.
You were all a great bunch of parents and I urge you to each speak. Share your personal opinions with the parents, teachers and administrators in your communities, that is why you are there! Be honest with the USOE. Best part…..you don’t have to all have the same opinion!
But you do have the obligation to the people you represent to be their voice. Teachers and administrators cannot safely voice personal opinion. I have a lot of family members and loved ones working in Utah that need more parents to make a stand for education. Lucky for them there are some real smart, delightful people on the committee that will do just that!
Enjoy another round of tests!
Best to each of you!
Molly Foster
The emails:
————————————————
Ms. Park,
 
I am very disturbed at what you said in a recent letter sent to districts across the state:
 
“There are also concerns that the test questions contain inappropriate content of a social or political nature.  Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall.  Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.”
 
I am on your 15 member parent committee and you know we agreed there were questions that were inappropriate.
 
It is unfortunate that I have to tell people that the USOE is not a trustworthy entity. I did not intend my participation that week to be a blanket validation for your political purposes.
 
Thank you.
 
Molly Foster
————————————————
From Utah State Office of Education’s Dr. Judy Park to Molly Foster:
Molly, I am so sorry that you misunderstood my comments.  I am regularly receiving concerns that the questions have inappropriate language and are pushing a social agenda.  When we held the parent debrief panel the last day of the parent committee review, when asked if the test questions had inappropriate words or pushed a social agenda (I don’t remember exactly how it was worded), all 15 parents responded that the questions did not.  There is no doubt that there were many questions that were flagged by the parent committee.  I have freely shared the information you received from John Jesse that showed the number of items that were flagged by the parent committee and the resolution of those items.  I am also in the process of preparing the items that were dropped from the test due to the input from the parent committee, for public release.  I think it will be very helpful for any interested persons to see the actual items that have been eliminated.  I have tried in all of my comments about the parent committee (written or verbal) to honor the great work of the committee and appropriately portray the views and opinions that were shared.  I will try to be much more specific in the future to hopefully prevent misunderstanding.
Thanks
Judy W. Park, Ed.D.
Utah State Office of Education
Associate Superintendent
Student Services and Federal Programs
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Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
– Leo Tolstoy

Dr. Sandra Stotsky: Why Do CC Supporters Try to Discredit CC Math Critics?   4 comments

Why Do Common Core’s Supporters Try to Discredit Critics of Common Core’s Mathematics Standards?

by Dr. Sandra Stotsky

 

Professor R. James Milgram, for over 40 years a full professor of mathematics at Stanford University, and I did a 13-city speaking tour on Common Core throughout California in November. At all of the meetings, Professor Milgram provided a two-page hand-out titled Missing or Delayed in Common Core’s Mathematics Standards—a short version of a 13-page critique he distributed at the time he refused to sign off on Common Core’s standards.  Not one of the thousands of parents, school board members, and legislators at these meetings challenged him about anything on this hand-out. (The Modesto Bee estimated about 500 at the meeting in Modesto alone.)

 

Yet, when speaking without Professor Milgram after distributing (with his permission) his two-page list of missing or delayed mathematics standards in Common Core, along with my own list of flaws in Common Core’s English language arts standards, I have been accused by non-mathematicians of relying on an incompetent mathematician. Why are Common Core’s supporters so desperate to discredit those with orders of magnitude more mathematical knowledge than they have at any educational level?  And to do so in such a cowardly fashion.

 

For example, I was warned by a very angry, self-identified local school board member and former K-12 mathematics teacher at a St. Louis, Missouri meeting in October that Professor Milgram is not “truthful.”  I was told in a November e-mail sent to me by a mathematics educator at a Missouri university not to “trust Milgram’s opinions.”  I was also told by an employee of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education at a Marshfield, Massachusetts meeting in October that, in contrast to Professor Milgram’s comments, a mathematics professor at Boston College thought highly of Common Core’s standards, and that for every analysis I did, there was another one that found that Common Core’s standards strengthened, not weakened, the high school curriculum.”  She also accused me of saying that “the old Massachusetts standards were so good that they couldn’t be improved.”  In response to a follow-up e-mail query from the organizer of the meeting asking for written evidence of her claims, she replied: “Professor Friedberg has not done a paper on the topic but he and other Massachusetts professors of mathematics strongly endorse Common Core’s standards and believe our previous standards were not sufficiently rigorous, didn’t stress mastery or understanding, included too many topics, and were not sufficiently focused. I’m sure Sandra Stotsky is already familiar with Bill Schmidt’s peer-reviewed study that found the standards comparable to the highest achieving nations.”

 

Yes, indeed, I am aware of William Schmidt’s study.  I am also aware of its fatal methodological deficiencies. As Ze’ev Wurman noted in his review of Schmidt’s study:

 

“Advocates of Common Core’s mathematics standards claim they are rigorous, reflect college-readiness, and are comparable with those of high achieving countries. The two members of the Common Core Validation Committee with college-level mathematics content knowledge [R. James Milgram and Dylan William] refused to sign off on them, finding them significantly lower than those of high-achieving countries….

Schmidt and Houang’s 2012 study—the only study that claimed the standards met international expectations—lacks reliable coding of the standards, and uses a variety of visual and statistical strategies to create the illusion that the profile of topics in Common Core’s mathematics standards is, indeed, comparable to the curriculum profile of six high-achieving countries. In fact, their own data suggest that Common Core’s mathematics standards are not at all like those of international high achievers, and that—at least from a statistical point of view—they do not carry any promise of improving American educational achievement.”

 

Wurman went on to conclude:

 

“Not only do Common Core’s standards remain unvalidated, but there are now many doubts that they could ever be validated as research-based, rigorous, and internationally competitive. Indeed, there is growing concern that they are far below the level of standards in high-achieving countries. Yet, these standards were officially adopted by over 46 states, national tests are being piloted based on them, textbooks and other curriculum materials have been aligned down to them, and all our seemingly independent indices of academic achievement or potential for college-level work have been or are in the process of being aligned down to them. What should be done?”

 

It is easy to understand why Common Core’s proponents would be unhappy with criticisms of Common Core’s mathematics standards. Especially when other mathematicians publicly corroborate the thrust of Professor Milgram’s criticisms (for example, the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Marina Ratner at the University of California/Berkeley).

 

But they should be ashamed of making spurious charges to people who do not understand high school mathematics any better than they do. And they should learn to speak directly to mathematicians themselves to try to understand the criticisms.


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Notes:

1)  http://www.modbee.com/news/local/education/article3594327.html

2)  Common Core Informational Forum, St. Louis, Missouri, October 23, 2014.   Watch these six 15-minute videos in this order.

 

  1. http://youtu.be/z_Ps_25U1VI
  2.  http://youtu.be/JRahJRom4r8
  3. http://youtu.be/9FffrrRsryY
  4.  http://youtu.be/-t8IIfr_h8U
  5.  http://youtu.be/4Wb5KclkKa0
  6.  http://youtu.be/hpvY0ymINjk

4)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZvUa4mGGQA. The Q and A is not available on this video of the Marshfield meeting.

5)  Email communication from Noel Ashekian, November 4, 2014.

6)  Ze’ev Wurman, Common Core’s Validation: A Weak Foundation for a Crooked House, Pioneer Institute White Paper #112, April 2014.

http://pioneerinstitute.org/download/common-cores-validation-a-weak-foundation-for-a-crooked-house/?utm_source=Common+Core+Validation+Apr+23+2014&utm_campaign=Common+Core+Val+April+23+2014&utm_medium=email

7)  Marina Ratner.  Making Math Education Even Worse.  Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/marina-ratner-making-math-education-even-worse-1407283282

————————————————————————————————————————————

Thank you, Dr. Stotsky!

Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English Professor) and Dr. James Milgram (Math Professor) served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and after reviewing the standards, each refused to sign off that the Common Core was academically legitimate.

Watch these video presentations where Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram explain at forums across the nation why these standards do not live up to their college-and-career-ready billing.

 

Flier: Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core   2 comments

With gratitude to Joy Pullman, whose long version of “Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core” article, with photos and videos, is posted at The Federalist, I’m sharing this extremely condensed two-pager, which can be printed out as a one-pager, front to back, on neon colored paper.

Top Ten Things Parents Hate About Common Core

 

By Joy Pullman – Condensed from:  http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/24/top-ten-things-parents-hate-about-common-core/

 

This is the year national Common Core tests kick in.  It’s also the first year most people  heard of Common Core, four years after bureaucrats signed our kids onto this complete overhaul of U.S. education. Why do 62 percent of parents think it’s a bad idea?

 

  1. The Senseless, Infuriating Math

Common Core deforms elementary math. Even simple addition takes inordinate amounts of time.

 

  1. The Lies

Common Core’s lies and half-truths  include talking points essential to selling state leaders on the project, such as that Common Core is: “internationally benchmarked,” (“well, we sorta looked at what other nations do but that didn’t change anything we did”); “evidence based” (“we know there isn’t research to undergird any standards, so we just polled some people and that’s our evidence“); “college- and career-ready” (“we meant community-college ready“); “rigorous” (as long as rigorous indicates “rigid”); and “high-performing nations nationalize education” (so do low-performing nations).

 

  1. Obliterating Parent Rights

Parents are frustrated. When they go to their school boards  they get disgusted looks or thumb-twiddling or worse. A New Hampshire dad was actually arrested for going over his two-minute comment limit in a local school board meeting that was packed with parents complaining about graphic-sex-filled literature assignments.

 

  1. Dirty Reading Assignments

Objectionable books on the Common Core-recommended (not mandated) reading list include called “The Bluest Eyes,” by Toni Morrison. “Make Lemonade” by Virginia Euwer Wolff, “Black Swan Green” by David Mitchell, and “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia.  There are so many excellent works of literature available that schools can’t possibly fit all the good ones in.  Why does Common Core recommend trash?

 

  1. Turning Kids Into Corporate Cogs

The workforce-prep mentality of Common Core focuses on the materialistic benefits of education, and is not concerned with passing down knowledge, heritage, and morals. The workforce talk certainly tickles the ears of Common Core’s corporate supporters, but why do corporations get to dictate what kids learn?

 

  1. Data Collection and Populace Management

Common Core enables the theft of kids’ and teachers’ data, furthering businesses’ bottom lines and governments’ populace-control fantasies, at the expense of private property and self-determination.

  1. Common Core tests are the key instrument of data collection.
  2. Common Core architect David Coleman admitted special interests packaged data mining into Common Core.
  3. Common Core classifies enormous amounts of data, like as an enormous filing system.
  4. States that use federally funded Common tests have given control of collected data to private organizations which have promised the government access to kids’ data.
  5. Common Core and data vacuuming are philosophically aligned—they both justify themselves as solutions to problems. The goal is to use data to “seamlessly integrate” education and economy. In other words, we learned nothing from the USSR.

 

  1. Distancing Parents and Children

A recent study found that the Common Core model of education results in parents being less engaged in their kids’ education and expressing more negative attitudes about schools and government.

 

  1. Making Little Kids Cry

It’s one thing to teach a child to endure life’s suffering for a higher purpose. It’s another thing to inflict suffering on children because you’ve got a society to remake. Psychologists and teachers say Common Core inflicts poorly designed, experimental instruction and testing on children.

 

  1. The Arrogance

Imagine you’re a mom or dad whose child is sobbing at the table trying to add two-digit numbers. Then you hear your elected representatives talking about Common Core. And it’s not to offer relief. It’s to ridicule opposition to Common Core. Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said of Common Core: “They’re not some federal conspiracy.” Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) told an audience state hearings on the topic were “crazy”. Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) called opponents a “distract[ing]” “fringe movement.” Well-paid “experts” say parents don’t get what’s going on because this is above parents’ ability to understand.

 

  1. The Collectivism

Common Core supporters admit that several states had better curriculum requirements than Common Core. Then they say it’s still better for those states to have lowered their expectations to Common Core’s level, because that way the US has more curricular unity.

 

Tech companies are uber-excited about Common Core because it facilitates a nationwide, uniform market for products. But the diversity of the unregulated private market far, far outstrips the diversity of the Common Core market. That variety is one of substance, not just branding. In other words, it’s true diversity, not fake diversity. Which would you rather have:  fake freedom in education, where others choose your end goal, but “let” you decide some things; or real freedom, where you pick goals and how to achieve them, and you’re the one responsible for the results? Whoops, that’s a trick question.  The overlords have already picked fake freedom for us.  It’s Common Core or the door, baby. 

 Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.

 

Update: Growing Pushback Against Common Core Tests Nationally   2 comments

Twenty-two of the United States are represented in this list of national news articles about frustrated teachers, parents, professors and psychologists pushing back against Common Core tests.

Is Common Core Testing “A Cash-Grabbing Hoax?”
http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/common-core-must-prove-it-s-not-cash-grabbing-hoax

More Central Florida Families Consider Opting Out of State Exams
http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/27387181/opting-out-becoming-more-popular-option-for-central-florida-families

Utah’s Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE Common Core tests break basic codes of test ethics  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/dr-gary-thompson-sagecommon-core-tests-break-basic-codes-of-test-ethics/

Oklahoma First Grade Teachers Explain Why They Won‘t Administer Standardized Test
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/18/your-kids-deserve-better-than-this-first-grade-teachers-tell-parents/

Don’t Copy China’s Test-Prep Culture
http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/opinion/zhao-common-core-testing/index.html?hpt=hp_t3


Arizona District Seeks Exemption From New State Test
http://www.abc15.com/news/region-northern-az/lake-havasu/havasu-schools-seek-to-exempt-some-from-new-test

New Mexico Teachers Say Testing Overkill is Undermining Education
http://www.koat.com/news/teachers-standardized-testing-is-taking-away-from-education/29710982
Common Core Tests Prompt New Mexico Backlash
http://www.taosnews.com/news/article_dc24c53c-6c4b-11e4-ae30-a38a2d5729ca.html

New York Regents Try to Make Field Tests “Mandatory” to Combat Exam Boycotts
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/11/8556878/faced-opposition-regents-move-bolster-field-testing

Local North Carolina School Boards Seek End of State-Mandated, Test-Based School Grades
http://www.statesville.com/news/school-board-voices-disagreement-with-state-policies/article_658f6090-6a8d-11e4-a9e3-47ed378d838e.html

 

Education Groups Seek Delay of California Test-Based School Ratings
http://edsource.org/2014/school-groups-ask-to-delay-api-scores-another-year/70029#.VGuAZnvvcZy

Thousands of Colorado High School Students Refuse to Take State Tests
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/14/us-usa-colorado-education-idUSKCN0IY2HO20141114
Is Colorado Student Opt-Out a Harbinger of Broader Protests?
http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=7361
Coloradans Launch Petition to Overturn Test-Based Teacher Evaluation
https://www.change.org/p/the-colorado-legislature-repeal-senate-bill-191-linking-standardized-test-scores-to-teacher-pay-and-performance

High-Stakes Testing Pressure Drives Experienced Teachers Out of Florida Classrooms
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20141108/ARTICLE/141109731

Florida Teachers Consider Civil Disobedience to Say “No” to Testing
http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2014/11/17/florida-teachers-consider-civil-disobedience-to-say-no-to-testing/

The Problems With Using Tests to Rate Georgia Art, Gym and Music Teachers
http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/the-problem-with-using-tests-to-rate-music-art-and/nh3bP/

Why One Illinois Parent Opted Her Children Out of State Exams
http://realchicagomama.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/standardized-testing-redux/

Film Premiere Sparks Indiana Opt-Out Movement
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/16/testing-foes-call-for-change-after-films-premiere/#.VGn5EnvvcZw
Indiana Panel Asks Whether Testing Has Gone Too Far
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/17/teachers-students-community-members-debate-merits-of-testing/#.VGtGQnvvcZw

Iowa Parents Should Stand Up to Claims They Have No Opt-Out Rights
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2014/11/13/amy-moore-school-testing-opt-out/18969065/

How Frequently Should Kansas School Children Be Tested?
http://www.thekansan.com/article/20141111/NEWS/141119984/-1/Sports

Debate Ranges About How Much Time Maryland Students Should Spend Testing
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bs-md-testing-investigation-20141115-story.html#page=1

Minnesota Legislators Plan Bills to Cut Back Testing
http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/11/12/education-issues-on-the-docket-for-2015-house-republicans/
No Quick Fix for Minnesota Achievement Gap
http://www.sctimes.com/story/opinion/2014/11/14/turn-quick-answer-achievement-gap/19048273/

Parents Push Back Against New Jersey’s Latest Standardized Exam
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/education-trends/2014/11/13/parents-try-opt-parcc-test/18982547/
Local New Jersey Education Ass’n Adopts Strong Position on High-Stakes Testing
http://teacherbiz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/the-delran-education-associations-position-on-high-stakes-standardized-testing/
Teachers Add Critical Voice to New Jersey Commission Investigating Testing
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/11/11/teachers-add-critical-voice-to-newly-named-testing-commission/

Ohio Legislative Committee Approves Limits on Testing Time
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/limit_on_state_testing_of_stud.html

Oregon Educators Offer Advice on Aiding Families Who Want to Opt Out of Testing
http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-32442-permalink.html

Pennsylvania School Ratings Not Accurate Measure of Educational Effectiveness
http://standardspeaker.com/news/professor-scores-not-true-measure-of-school-districts-1.1786040
Local Super Blasts Pennsylvania’s Biased School Grades for Ignoring Poverty
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/11/central_dauphin_superintendent_1.html

Resignation of Tennessee Ed. Commissioner Creates Opening for Testing Overhaul
http://wgnsradio.com/rep-womick-applauds-education-commissioner-leaving-and-hopes-common-core-exits-too–cms-23466

Virginia Test-Review Commission Prepares Recommendations
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/local/sol-committee-member-offers-update-on-work/article_0bef57a6-6a11-11e4-91e3-43c9050fee0f.html

Washington State Super Seeks State Grad Test Repeal
http://www.theolympian.com/2014/11/15/3425844_state-schools-chief-no-more-tests.html?sp=/99/101/112/&rh=1

Q & A With FairTest on Assessment Reform
www.asbj.com/HomePageCategory/Online-Features/FiveQuestions

FairTest on Education Town Hall Radio
http://educationtownhall.org/2014/11/16/fairtest-joins-bus/

“Smarter Balanced” Tests Not Ready for Prime Time
http://edsource.org/2014/smarter-balanced-tests-are-still-a-work-in-progress/69828#.VGoPr3vvcZx

Can We Stop Relying on Standardized Tests to Drive Education Reform
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/can-we-stop-using-tests-to-drive-education-reform/



Thanks to Bob Schaeffer at FairTest for sharing his testing pushback article links.

Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics   22 comments

dr-thompson

I sat in the Early Life Child Psychology and Education center this week, watching Dr. Gary Thompson’s presentation about Common Core testing, thinking that Dr. Thompson is the fearless kid in the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Dr. Thompson stands armed with honesty, science and evidence, pointing out that the Emperor of SAGE/Common Core tests is stark raving naked.  All around Salt Lake City, meanwhile, people play along with the wealthy emperor, pretending that nothing’s wrong with what the whole world seems to have been paid to agree are such smashing, new  –dare we call them rigorous— clothes.

What does Dr. Thompson see as he analyzes the Common Core SAGE test in its birthday suit?

He points out foremost that there is such a thing as a code of ethics for the psychological testing of children.

“Wait, wait–” says the State Office of Education– “We’re not doing psychological testing on your kids.”  But this does not placate Utahns who fact check for themselves. SAGE/Common Core tests –in addition to being tests of academic subjects– are psychological tests. We know this because:

1) Utah law demands it.  HB15, passed in 2012, required Utah’s public and charter schools to administer computer adaptive tests aligned with Common Core.  It specified “the use of behavior indicators in assessing student performance.”  Behavior indicators are not math, science or language arts data points.  They are psychological data points.

2) The SAGE tests are created by Utah’s test contractor, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is primarily “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science  research organizations.”  Its stated mission is “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.”

3) The federal Department of Education –which shouldn’t, but does, call shots for the Utah State Office of Education– openly encourages psychological profiling of students via tests, calling it “data-driven decision making,” “a data quality campaign” and other positive-sounding terms.  See any of its initiativesreports and recommendations  which do depend on/openly promote psychological profiling of children by testing.

Here’s how Dr. Thompson says that SAGE violates the code of ethics for psychological testing:

Standard 9.03 from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists states that “psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments.  SAGE does not do this.  The ethics for informed consent include telling the client (in SAGE’s case, the student and parents) what the nature, purpose and anticipated course of services will be; using clear language; allowing the client  (student and parents) to ask questions; telling them about involvement of any third parties who may have access to the information gathered via the test; disclosing whether experimentation will be used; informing the client whether the test administrator is a trainee or fully qualified to administer psychological testing; obtaining consent in advance of recording or observing; potential risks; potential limitations; and more.

Each of these codes of conduct were broken by the USOE in implementing SAGE tests on Utah schools.

Standard 9.02 states that “Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established…when such validity or reliability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.”

There have been no independent validity and reliability studies done on SAGE tests, whatsoever, as Dr. Thompson pointed out.  Another enormous principal of all scientific forms of testing– broken.

While it is clear that SAGE tests are psychological in nature, and that the tests do not adhere to the code of ethical conduct for psychological testing, there’s even more at stake.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that the future is very close to already here:  Game-based assessment, also known as Stealth Assessments, are secret tests embedded in video games for schools that are further eclipsing parental rights and knowledge about what data is being collected while children are at school.  Even teachers would not know what exactly is being collected or analyzed when stealth assessments are used in classroom settings.

In a scholarly journal entitled “District Administration” Dr. Thompson read, and shared, that now, in an attempt to lessen student stress, Gates-funded groups are telling us that video games are the education of the future. “District Administration” journal writes that because “complex thinking skills can’t be measured by traditional standardized tests, educators are turning to stealth assessments hidden in video games.” The article continues, “stealth assessments are seamless, so the distinction between learning and assessment is completely blurred.  Kids are playing, they are learning, and they are being assessed all at the same time.”  Further:  “testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction.”  Children will be tested all of the time.  How does a person opt out of that?

 

 

what-is-stealth-assessment-1-728

Dr. Thompson’s presentation also touched on many other issues of great importance.  He spoke about the vulnerable populations that are forced to take Common Core SAGE tests (unless parents opt them out).  These include children with any of a host of learning disabilities, children with depression and anxiety, children with autism and Asberger’s,  children with  historically poor test taking scores due to cultural bias in testing including African-American and Latino children, children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, children from high-stress poverty homes, children with psychotic disorders, ADHD, and dual exceptional (gifted and learning disordered) to name a few.

He shared from academic journals many ethical considerations associated with Common Core’s pushing of the very young into “rigorous” and age-inappropriate standards.  He shared research he’s collected, too, about the use of children’s data for marketing purposes, (quoting from the academic journal article, “Children as Consumers.”  This is relevant and troubling because the SAGE test creator, AIR, has open partnerships (and data sharing policies) with numerous corporations that have no restraint on accessing SAGE-collected student information.

Thompson further discussed harm to the brain of a child using Common Core testing practices on every type of child, and using Common Core styled math on every type of learner.  He spoke of the brain’s disorganization response to Common Core-styled math pedagogy and to high-stakes tests like SAGE.

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This brain-analyzing portion of the presentation must be explained in detail in a separate post.  Briefly: the neurological (brain-affecting) Common Core issues raised by Dr. Thompson’s research are extremely important in light of the fact that both Bill Gates (Common Core funder) and our federal government are highly focused on studying and applying research about the neurology of children, right now.  The federally approved Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, also known as the White House Neuroscience Initiative, was granted federal funds to invest in brain research and drug development, and not just to prevent Alzheimer’s.  Its stated aims: “optimizing interactions between the environment and the brain across the lifespan,” “applying the brain’s information processing capabilities” and “enhancing communication among federal agencies”.  Congressman Fattah  wrote that he is “a major proponent of brain mapping…  understand…the role of individual neurons in controlling our thoughts, movements…”.  –Recall that Secretary Duncan mocked  the idea that the federal government was involved in this, when it was accused of collecting student data using Common Educational Data Standards. He said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” Yet that is exactly what the federal Fattah Neuroscience Initiative aims to do.  Congressman Fattah has made it clear that brain mapping is the aim of the White House Neuroscience Initiative.  Now, let’s use our brains.  Who is the only huge, captive group of guinea pigs they have under their control upon whom they can do brain mapping research (call it education) for hours and hours every single day?  

Dr. Thompson’s full presentation:

 You’ll want to see the whole presentation and discuss it with your local and state representatives on the school boards in detail.  Each of the issues touched on in Dr. Thompson’s presentation deserves a chapter or a book written on it.

But to keep it simple, digestible, and close to home, let’s focus on one thing:  the thing Dr. Thompson focuses on; the SAGE test. You’ll want to opt your children out of every type of SAGE test:  summative (end of year), formative and interim (year round SAGE tests.)

It is the enforcer of Utah’s Common Core and the primary vehicle for massive student data collection right now.  We need to get rid of it, or opt individual children –by the thousands and thousands– out of it, so that its data collectors cannot do what they aim to do, and so that Common Core experimental standards cannot take deep root in our schools, cannot dictate teacher salaries, cannot narrowly define and narrowly present what is “education” to our children.

Somebody will look out for students’ mental health, privacy, and happiness, even in this age of politically motivated high-stakes SAGE testing –and soon, in this age of stealth testing.  Somebody will look out for the parents’ rights to know about and to guide psychological treatment or analysis of children.  Someone  will pound on the door of the USOE, the governor, and the legislators’ offices, demanding the end of SAGE tests in Utah schools, demanding answers to the questions that Dr. Thompson and other child psychologists, such as Joan Landes and Dr. Megan Koschnick (video below) have raised.

That someone is that person in your bathroom mirror or it’s nobody, because everybody’s so busy.

Legislators are busy.  Teachers are busy. Board members are busy. Reporters are busy.  Common Core technological implementers and teacher development conference producers are busy. Everyone is so busy being busy that the busy-ness that matters most of all— our children and our liberty-– have lost precious ground.

It is not too late.

 

Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli   4 comments

In September, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey  held a symposium entitled “No More Common Core,” featuring:

  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky, emeritus professor and member of the original Common Core validation committee
  • Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University
  • Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education
  • Dr. Tom Borelli, a molecular biologist
  • Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks
  • Dr. Vern Williams of MathReasoning

The symposium was filmed and is posted here in three segments.

One of the event organizers, Janice Lenox, wrote an op-ed in the Cape May County Herald that succinctly explains why this symposium was so needed.

After a tremendous amount of grassroots labor, the Assembly bill against Common Core was read and voted on.  Lenox wrote:

“We were there for the vote and absolutely ecstatic when the vote 72-2 in our favor was called. Now, on to the Senate…  the Senate president passed over the bill without posting for a vote. We were told that the governor had a meeting with the Senate president and the Teachers Union president and cut a deal. “Regulation, not Legislation” –that’s what the governor wanted. He issued an executive order… He was to assemble a Study Commission to examine the PARCC testing and alleviate the teachers’ assessments for a year… and look at the Common Core…  That was July 19 of this year… As of this date, Nov. 1, no Commission of any kind has been named and no information has been forthcoming…  We urge Senator Steven Sweeney to do the people’s business and post Senate bill S2154 to the floor for a vote and let the peoples’ voices be heard….  Let teachers teach and parents parent.”

If the good people of New Jersey will simply watch, learn, and share these vital messages from the symposium speakers, and then firmly let Senator Sweeney and their other elected representatives exactly how important this is, maybe this mountain will move move.

Go, New Jersey!

 

Symposium Part One:

 

Symposium Part Two:

 

Symposium Part Three:

Video: Professor Christopher Tienken in Connecticut   1 comment

Connecticut Against Common Core hosted Seton Hall University professor Dr. Christopher Tienken last month.   Start at minute 4:22 for Dr. Tienken’s speech.

Dr. Tienken talks about intended and unintended consequences of any treatment –including educational “treatment,” to children.  He explains how important it is to have evidence for the need and the effectiveness of Common Core, which he refers to as “the latest round of standardization.”  He defines himself not as others do, as “anti-Common Core” but more  “pro-evidence”.  He assesses education reforms through the lens of evidence, sourcing all of his statements and writings against Common Core, which you may read at his website and in the many academic journals in which he has been published.

He challenges the assumptions that underlie advocacy for Common Core.

For example: What if the results of the international test are not meaningful?  –We might not be lagging at all in international competitiveness.  None of the international tests can tell you the quality of a national education system nor can they predict the economic future.  That’s not just an opinion; that’s his job, he says –reading 400 page technical manuals on international testing. Only about 6,000 kids in a country take these tests, and they may not be at all representative of the rest of the kids in that country.  In China and Singapore, for example, most students aren’t in high school when the tests are administered.  Only the wealthiest kids take these tests, not second language learners and others.  These tests, he says, are sensitive to factors outside of school.  PISA and TIMMS tests, for example, measure skills akin to the 19th century.  Innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, skills that drive economies today, are not even measured.

Why do Americans think that one narrow test (not evidence based) will be the ultimate predictor of student and national economic achievement?

Dr. Tienken later breaks out the charts to show how well the United States is actually doing, showing the misguidedness of Common Core’s foundational claims.

Watch the video to hear the rest.  It’s great.

 

Good News About American Education… Pass It On!   10 comments

book and kite

 

“…The US ranks 1st in the world in Nobel Prizes in the sciences and medicine. 60% of all Nobel Laureates come from US public schools.  The US ranks 1st in the world in the number of utility patents and the number of scientific papers produced.

The US ranks 2nd in the world on the Global Creativity Index, 3rd on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, and 5th on the Global Innovation Index.

We rank in the top 10 in the industrialized world for the percentage of high school graduates and the percentage of our population with BA degrees.

We produce the highest percentage of engineers who are qualified to work in multi-national corporations, we produce the greatest number of engineering doctorates, over 90% of which go to US born students, and the list of the accomplishments goes on.

In short, the arguments that all these standardizing reforms are both necessary and will increase competitiveness and secure a vibrant macro-economic future rest on pillars of sand.”  Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

That quote, from a speech and article Dr. Christopher Tienken posted recently, explains that negative myths about the terrible quality of American education abound, in part, so that corporations can make money and power grabbers can grab power.  We must not believe or act on the negative myths.

Boards of education are the last defense against this corporatism, social Darwinism and neoliberalism that is combining to take control over American education, says Tienken.   He encourages boards to push back.  (Why don’t locals do their own fact checking, and then echo Dr. Tienken, rather than Coleman, Barber or the USOE?)  Here are some facts you can share from Dr. Tienken as you explain why you are opting out and pushing back:

“To proclaim that one test and one set of curriculum standards, the Common Core, can provide meaningful data about whether a child is college and career ready, that is, ready to attend one of the over 4,400 colleges and universities in the US or pursue one of the tens of thousands of careers that exist or those that don’t but will by the time this year’s preschool class, the class or 2029 or 2030 graduates high school, is educationally bankrupt. No test, not the ACT nor SAT, or any other test can tell you that. In fact, high school GPA is a better predictor of first year college success and college completion than either the SAT or ACT. Maybe that is why there are now almost 1,000 colleges and universities that don’t require either test or make it optional.”

Moreover, he writes:  “You cannot standardize creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. What is being cut from schools now, because of this misguided adherence to standardization, are the subjects and experiences that children will really need to acquire the skills necessary to compete in a global economy in 2030.”

I have no personal ill will against the Common Core pushers; I’d bake them cookies if they were my neighbors and help carpool their kids.  But the fact is, nice people or not, that they are all wrong for allowing Common Core and Common Data Standards to harm our students’ academics, privacy, creativity and autonomy.  The list of wrong thinkers is long.

Governor Herbert is wrong.  His Prosperity 2020 and State Longitudinal Database System is wrong.  His friends in the Chamber of Commerce are wrong.  His education advisor is wrong.  His State Office of Education is wrong.  His NGA Governors’ private club is wrong.  Utah companies such as Education First and the School Improvment Network are wrong.  SAGE/AIR testing and its prime pusher, Asst. Supt. Judy Park, are wrong.  Local school boards, principals, charter school boards and anyone who parrots what others say, are wrong.  No matter how many people get on board with Common Core, it’s still wrong.

Dr. Tienken (and countless others) have assessed this situation correctly.

 

Word of mouth is always better than big, fat glossy marketing campaigns.  Help the truth to surface.  Please read Tienken’s  article and pass it on to your local boards, state board, principals, legislators, local chambers of commerce, and the Governor’s office.

Video: Uncommon Conformity   3 comments

I like this video.  Thanks, Sam Martin.

From Ohio With Love – Music Video   Leave a comment

This music video, written by Ohio’s “Anti Common Core Club,” rewritten to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall, is sure to be a hit nationwide.  Thanks, Ohio.

Has Your School Adopted All-Year-Round Common Core Testing?   10 comments

mtville

 

One of the reasons that our family moved from Wasatch County to Utah County last month was to be closer to the school in Alpine (Utah County) that my son is attending this year. The 50-mile (times two) daily commute was worth it.

Filled with uniformed students and happy-looking staff, Mountainville Academy’s a cheerful, academically-focused K-9 school that displays the Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People posters all over the school (and incorporates the 7 habits into classwork.)  Parents each volunteer 40 or more hours of service to the school, and it shows.

We chose Mountainville Academy because it was one of the few remaining public schools that was using time-tested, excellent Saxon Math (2007 version; pre-Common Core), and it was a rare school where students were grouped by achievement level rather than by age, at least for math.  This meant that a sixth grader would often be found in an eighth grade math class, or vice versa, placed not by government tests, but by a “results-remained-in-the-school” performance test.

Also, despite the government  mandate that the school administer end-of-year Common Core SAGE/AIR tests, the school had been gracious with parents who chose to opt students out of those end of year tests.

This school year had been good, so far.

But last night, I received a school email that has resulted in our family’s decision that our son will not attend Mountainville next year.  I was so sad.  I truly felt sold out, as Alyson Williams described it, because this board could not claim ignorance.  I had met with them, presented to them, emailed them, shown them links and documentation and countless reasons why this decision would harm the students and the school.

The email, from the school’s academic excellence committee, stated that despite the two presentations I made, and despite other parents also speaking out, the school will abandon “results-remain-in-the-school” performance testing, to adopt year-round, formative SAGE/Common Core testing.

This, the email said, was in the best interests of the children.

I was sickened by the email’s news, but also confused– how can anyone, having received the amount of information and documentation that I presented and emailed to the board and the committee about SAGE/AIR, still say with seriousness that this decision was “in the best interests of the children”?

I don’t get it.

But I’m going to post the email that I gave to the board, which the board had requested from me as a follow-up to my five or ten minute oral presentation.  I’m also going to post the email I received last night.

So, is this an epic ruination of a great, formerly-parent-led school, or was this decision made truly “in the best interests of the children”?  The school  has been altered to its very center.  The school-altering decision was made without taking a vote from parents, without even announcing in the weekly “Mountainville Minute” that the school will now be very, very different.

It will be administering Common Core testing throughout the year, and on purpose, voluntarily, rather than only administering the state-mandated end of year SAGE/AIR test.   It will  necessarily align its teachings more and more to the federal desires for what college-and-career readiness is, because placing students in different levels of learning will be structured all year long now upon common core testing and teaching.

I can’t see any way that this course of action can take place and still keep classic education, Saxon math for example, at the school for long.  Because formative tests are utterly Common Core and David-Coleman-club  aligned, to get the state version of “excellent” scores on these tests, teachers will be pressured to teach more Common Core and less classic Saxon.  The formative tests will form student’s paths and teacher’s definitions of what education now means, and that’s giving up the reins of power, reins that had made this school so unique and wonderful.

Beyond the academic transformation is something probably even more serious:  student data privacy.  Privacy for Mountainville students is thrown out the window, because individuals and schools were the only defense we had against the federal-corporate partnership that is aiming to rape the nation of its student privacy.

The state government won’t protect us if Mountainville’s board won’t; the state’s SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) tracks children without parental consent or knowledge and gives much of it to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange and to the corporate American Institutes for Research, which is then free to share that data with its countless affiliates, including Data Recognition Corporation and Smarter Balanced Advisory Consortium (SBAC) which happens to be under contract to share its student level data with the federal government.  American Institutes for Research, the primary data collector of Utah’s SAGE tests, is a behavioral research organization focused on psychometric data collection and behavior.

All of this is known to Mountainville’s Board of Trustees, and with full knowledge, the Board has decided to still jump on the year-round SAGE testing bandwagon.  Neither preserving a classical education nor student data privacy apparently matters too much to the Mountainville Board.

But it does to me.

My heart goes out to the students and their families who will remain at Mountainville, most likely oblivious to the fact that the school’s educational program and their student’s academic and behavioral data privacy  just took a very sharp nose dive down.

 

Here are the emails.

——————————————–

On Oct 13, 2014, at 2:12 PM, Christel wrote:

 

Dear Mountainville Academy,

 

I’m following up from last week’s school board meeting with a summary of my concerns underlying my request that Mountainville Academy continue to use the in-house testing system that’s worked so well in past years, rather than switching over to the state’s SAGE/AIR formative testing system.

 

(I began to study education reforms two and a half years ago and have researched, summarized and posted findings at  “Common Core: Education Without Representation” where I hope you will read much more than I can summarize here about student data privacy,  the common core experimental standards, and the unconstitutionality and freedom-sapping of recent education reforms.)

 

The reason my sixth grade son’s commuted 50 miles– from Heber to Alpine– and back, each day this school year (up until this week when our family moved from Heber to Pleasant Grove) is that Mountainville is very different in important, crucial ways, from other public schools.  I love those differences and want them to remain in place.

 

  • The use of time-tested Saxon math rather than the kind of experimental Common Core math that’s being taught elsewhere was reason #1 for our choosing Mountainville.
  • Reason #2 was the in-house testing that places children where they need to be, rather than placing them in a common pace that does not serve individual needs as well; the fact that these in-house test results remained only at Mountainville, rather than being submitted to state or federal entities— as government-mandated school tests are– was a big deal to me.

 

If Mountainville switches to SAGE/AIR formative testing, I predict that many parents, like me, will very sadly decide to leave the school.  Here’s why:

 

  1. LOCAL CONTROL:   American Institutes for Research (AIR), the company that writes Utah’s SAGE tests (along with some limited Utah educator input), represents a lack of local control and freedom to me. AIR is federally approved and  is officially partnered with the federally funded and micromananged SBAC, Utah’s former Common Core test maker.  AIR/SAGE partnership makes Utah indirectly   partnered with the federal government via that SBAC partnership.  AIR has a progressive, left-leaning agenda, a focus on psychometric rather than academic testing, and a set of values that do not match mine. I do not trust that the questions will be values-neutral nor that the questions will not push children toward pre-determined beliefs that go far beyond traditional academic facts or even critical thinking about traditional truth.  I feel this way about AIR based on carefully studying AIR’s own website, mission statement, clients, staff, secretive questions, history; vague responses by the USOE and state leaders in response to parental concerns; the research of Alpine School Board members, and the actual contract between AIR and Utah.

 

  1. PARENTAL KNOWLEDGE:  Neither Mountainville parents nor teachers are ever allowed to view SAGE tests– not even months after the testing has happened.

 

  1. PRIVACY:  Privacy will go out the window.  What is reported about students by Mountainville to the state, federal and corporate research entities will go from a tiny trickle to a fast-flowing river of data.  Formerly, Mountainville performance tests remained at the school level.  Now, the state of Utah would be tracking and collecting all in-house formative information on each child, without parental knowledge or consent.  While parents can opt out of end of year SAGE tests, they cannot opt out of year -round formative tests while remaining at this school.

 

  1. FEEDING THE SLDS:  Because the legislature has not clearly defined, as far as I can tell, who owns individual student data in our state, the state is making what I feel is  the wrong assumption –that it owns or is entitled to student data.  Common sense says that the student and his/her family should own his/her data.   Because it’s not clear in current law, our children are unprotected.  This is evidenced by the existence of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which follows and tracks students without parental knowledge or consent, from the moment a parent registers a child for school (unless it’s private school) until the child is in the workforce.  The SLDS system was created to federal specifications, with federal interoperability rules, using $9.6 million federal dollars to build Utah’s SLDS.  Every other state also has a federally paid for SLDS.  Much student data is shared from the SLDS to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange.  Because we do not know exactly what data is shared from Utah to the federal government, we are wise to not feed Utah’s SLDS any more data that we are absolutely required to by state law; i.e., don’t drop our in-house testing and use the state’s SAGE/AIR system.

 

  1. FEEDING THE NDCM DATA POINTS:  There is a National Data Collection Model at the federal level  which requests– it does not mandate, but it requests— over 400 data points about every student in our state. It is an invasion of student and family privacy, yet at the state level, Utah is increasingly conforming to the NDCM requests using its P-20 system promoted in Governor Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 program. I do not see any benefit or need to cooperate with these unethical requests.

 

  1. FERPA WAS SHREDDED: We are not protected by formerly protective federal privacy law, FERPA.  The Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to make regulatory, policy changes (not laws, but still binding).  These changes included reducing the requirement to get parental consent (before viewing/sharing student data) to a “best practice” rather than a mandate. The changes also included redefining personally identifiable information (pii) as biometric information. That means that behavioral data (the type of data AIR specializes in collecting) and biological data can be used to identify students at the federal level.  The Federal Register lists fingerprints, blood type, handwriting samples, DNA and many other methods of identifying pii of a student..  We have to ask ourselves whether a vast data-collection archive or student privacy is of greater value to our children.  We cannot have control of both.

 

  1. DON’T PASS THE BUCK ON PROTECTING CHILDREN:   In my experience I have found that most Utah legislators, state school board members and even our governor’s staff do not know nor work to understand these things..  They have not taken the time to understand recent education reform changes, or they see them as a positive thing.

 

We cannot depend on others to protect our children.  We need to be the first line of defense as parents, teachers and local school board members.  I ask you to retain Mountainville’s in-house tests, keep the strengths of Mountainville, and reject the opportunity to use Utah’s SAGE/AIR year-round testing system.

 

Thank you.

 

Christel Swasey

Mountainville Academy Parent

(also a Utah credentialed teacher)

————————————————————————–

Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Request to continue with in-house testing rather than
formative SAGE testing


Christel,

I just wanted to let you know the status of our SAGE testing decisions.


At Mountainville Academy, we make every decision based on what is best for our students.  After listening to all sides with concerns about SAGE testing, we as an academic excellence committee has decided to go ahead with the interim SAGE testing.  We feel that it will help students learn and prepare for SAGE testing in the spring.  As you know, spring SAGE testing is mandatory and schools are not allowed to opt out of testing.


After reviewing the results from SAGE testing of spring 2014, we recognize the many challenges that come with a new test, but are excited by the tools created to help our students achieve greater understanding of various topics.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.  I completely understand your concerns and we will continue to monitor the testing and SAGE program.  Thanks for coming to our board and committee meeting.

Thanks Again!


Board of Trustees
Mountainville Academy

—————————————————————————

(For those with concerns,  look into schools that are not yet taking the path of Common Core year-round testing.  In Utah County there’s the (fully aware of the Common Core problem) Maesar Prep (a public chartered jr. and high school), American Heritage (private K-12), Timpanogos (public elementary charter) or one of the many home school co-op academies nearby.)

Who’s Your Daddy? Authority Posers v. Authority Holders   2 comments

babyParents are in charge of their children.

It is not for corporations or federal entities to delegate an education  “role” to the state or to schools or parents, like a play director hands out a role or a prop to an actor.  Similarly, it’s not a school’s or any agency’s right to delegate parents as partners in their child’s education.   Teaching children is not a governmental dictatorship, nor is is a community collective.

Parents and families are the authority, followed by teachers, followed by districts, followed by states.  Unless a parent specifically requests involvement, it’s never a federal or corporate or a “collective” right to rule over the parent-led student’s education. The state is lower on the totem pole than the local district and the schools and families.   The federal government and corporations are not even allowed on the totem pole.  Neither is the United Nations  despite what it has planned for local schools.

We hold the American, Constitutional right to control our own lives, and not to be bullied by outside forces, but the stream of control over education is trying to flow the wrong way:  outside in.

Case in point:  here is a new homework assignment for those in Common Core 101 (aka researching the unconstitutional ways in which federal ed reform is destroying representative government and parental control):   Read and analyze this 268-page  document for constitutional viability:  “The State Role in School Turnaround“.

No, wait a minute.   Don’t bother to read the whole 268 pages.  Just read the title– and nothing else– and realize that it’s completely unconstitutional.

Think about it.  The “state role”?  Under this Republic and its Constitution, the people are in charge– under laws they have created via elected representation.  The states individually are in charge –and not the federal government agencies (nor its agents or branches, like WestEd, which wrote this document.)

The phrase “School Turnaround” is a federal concept comes from Obama’s four pillars of education reform.

app

America, we are losing the local representative form of government, losing power to control what happens in our schools, because of central planning taking place by “councils” and “stakeholders” and “partnerships” and chambers of commerce that lack authority in schools and individuals’ lives.  Money, not actual legality, is the source of the assumed authority.

The above “State Role” document happens to be new in 2014, but there are countless other, equally unauthorized, equally arrogant documents written to support mandates created by grant-givers (Bill Gates or federal Dept of Ed) who lack the authority to control our state educational system, but who are nonetheless beginning to rule over us.

  1. example one:  2011 Federal grant to create Common Core tests which mandates states sharing student-level data SBAC  In this document you will see that the authority cited is not a legal code but simply money.  Money is the authority– money the Dept. of Education had no right to be offering for obedience to its mandates.
  2. example two: 2009 Federal ARRA grant to monitor citizens without consent, in State Longitudinal Database System; all must be federally interoperable.  Again, the federal government had no authority to create a federal citizen database.  But by offering money, it got states to make a giant, state-fed-interoperable bunch of databases that it could then tap.
  3. example three: 188 corporate Gates grants that implement Common Core in American schools, each from the same corporate “philanthropist” who sells Common Core technologies and textbooks via official partnerships and governmental alliances.  Again, no authority:  no voter asked Bill Gates to push Common Core onto schools; nothing but the temptation of money fuels the monstrous takeover of the majority of our nation’s schools.

Don’t buy into the posture of authority or the glossy, legitimate-seeming pdf’s and conferences.  Groups like WestEd, AIR, CCSSO, NGA, Microsoft, Pearson, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, ACT, The College Board,  The Center on School Turnaround, The National Center on Education and the Economy– are nongovernmental.  We didn’t elect them and we can’t boot them out.

So why are we allowing them to dictate to us?

Know that we, the people, are in charge, legally, of our own children.  Individuals, families, local schools are in charge, in that order, and as designated by the family, not by districts or a state.

We have to know it to defend it.  Spread the word.

 

 

Open Letter From Idaho Grandmother to Legislature   4 comments

An Idaho grandmother, Yvonne Hyer, recently wrote a letter to legislators.  She didn’t just confront her own representatives about Common Core and student data mining; she signed, stamped, and mailed her letter to one hundred and five members of the Idaho legislature.

On this eve of her ninetieth birthday, Yvonne Hyer told  Idaho legislators that she remembers what she was doing when America’s Pearl Harbor was bombed, on a day when the current Idaho legislators weren’t even born.

Her letter warns, “We had all better remember.  If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible mistakes.

(I have added some historical photos to illustrate Yvonne Hyer’s points.)

 

girls and boys in hitler

Yvonne’s letter explained that is was a mistake to give in –during a climate of dissatisfaction, unemployment and economic insecurity– to the comforting lies of collectivist power-grabbers, focused on transforming schools.

g boyggggggg boys sg1941 nazi elementary school buch

 Actual illustrated children’s textbook from 1941 Germany (notice Hitler’s agenda embedded in curriculum)

 

The mistakes seem to be repeating themselves, wrote Yvonne Hyer: American leaders have begun to walk the school-transforming path sketched out by current elected officials and their corporate allies.  This reminded Yvonne Hyer of how many listened to the then-heroic young leader of the 1940s, Adolph Hitler, and how nobody stopped him from taking over the schools.

He gained control over the minds of the German children who became known as Hitler’s Youth.  This he did in the school room…” she wrote.

girls and boys heiling

Her letter further explains that one reason the German government mandated what went on in the classroom was to indoctrinate students with “politically correct” idealogy.  But there was a second reason.

girl youth

 

It was student (and family) data mining which took place in large part the German educational system:

“They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone who spoke against the government or its leaders, even their own parents….There was a lot of spying, to keep them in line… If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get what he wanted…”

girl hitler

“…Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday…. Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core….the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database System, and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart“.

Yvonne is correct.

But will her legislators ponder the wisdom of this woman’s observations –and take action?

Are they aware that no student or family is permitted to opt out of the state longitudinal database system, which does collect massive amounts of student and family information without parental consent– and that this database system has been built in exactly the same, federally-prescribed, interoperable way, in every single one of the fifty states?

Do they realize that she’s completely correct– that Common Core is no different from the power grabbing that’s taken place throughout history,  where always, the would-be elites have sought and gained access to and control over the school room?

Do they take a moment to think about the fact that the reason so many were successfully deceived and used as pawns in the widespread power-taking agendas of the past (not limited to Hitler’s Reich; including countless historical examples, past and present, around the world–) the reason for that success was that the official marketing lines sound so very, very appealing?

Will these legislators take a moment to fact check Yvonne’s claims and to fact check the claims about Common Core that gush forth, with exactly the same phrasing, from Boards of Education, federal grant application documents, official federal speeches, corporate educational sales speeches, poised-for-riches Chambers of Commerce and crony moneymakers’ speeches?  Why doesn’t any legislature or state school board use its research team to fact-check and motivation-check?

This wise  woman’s call for the legislators to wake up and stop the takeover of our schools and our students’ data privacy could not be more important.

Here’s the letter:

———————————————————————————————————————————-

 

Dear Senator ________________,

 

In  just four months, I will be 90 years old.  Why is that important and why do I mention it to you?  It’s important because I remember World War II.

Most of you serving in the legislature at this time had not even been born then.  I remember what I was doing on Dec. 7th 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!  Most of us living then, still remember, just as all of us living now remember what we were doing on Sept. 11th 2001, the morning the Twin Towers were attacked.  We had all better remember!  If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible experiences.  I see many things going on in our country today, not identical, but reminiscent of an earlier time in a different part of the world.

After World War I, much of Europe was in shambles.  Millions of men had died in the trenches and open battle fields.  As those who survived returned home, they found the additional human cost was staggering.  The length of the war, four long years, brought all kinds of problems, starvation not the least among them, along with unemployment, industry having almost shut down, with so many men at the front.  In this climate of dissatisfaction, a group calling themselves the “Workers’ Party” was formed.

A young corporal was sent by his superiors to a meeting of the group to investigate.  Dressed as a civilian, he blended in and heard a speaker convincingly describe how to get rid of capitalism.  He was given a pamphlet called “My Political Awakening” which resonated with his own feelings.  In challenging a statement made by own of the workers, he learned that he had a voice and passion that could sway his listeners.  He joined the Worker’s party and advanced in its ranks, learned how to work a crowd and thus he entered into politics and in time became one of the most infamous world figures.  He used whatever means and schemes, regardless of morality or legality, to achieve his objectives.

Adolph Hitler!  What a hey-day he would have had with Common Core’s data mining! He gained control over the minds of German children who became known as “Hitler’s Youth”.  This he did in the school room.

They were taught that the Third Reich was supreme and that its leaders had unquestioned authority; this was drilled into them from the earliest grades up.  They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone they heard talking against the government or its leaders, even their own parents, and they did; it was so ingrained in them. There was a lot of spying then to find information on people, to keep them in line.  If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get the information he wanted.

I know this sounds paranoid because this would never happen in America, but lots of things have happened in our country that we would never have dreamed of.

Of what possible use is all that data that is being gathered through Common Core tests or assessments, and to whom is it important?  Ask yourself that question, and while doing so, let the fact cross your mind, that some of the items of information from your child or grandchild’s “data back pack” might just end up biting you.  Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes.  As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday.

Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core.  There are many other things about this program that I am deeply concerned about, but the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database Systems and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart at this time.

We know that changing the name to Idaho Core didn’t change anything!  We want out!

Those of you not on the Education Committee may not be aware that Common Core is a package deal.  It’s either take all of it, or none.  It is copyrighted by two private trade groups, “The National Governors Association” and “The Council of Chief State School Officers” the NGA and the CCSSO (check: http://www.corestandards.org/public-license ).

We can add a little of what we would like to the program, 15%, but none of that will be included in the assessments.  So if an inquisitive student should choose to study some “outside material” on his own time, none of the knowledge he acquired, regardless of how much effort he put in, or the accuracy or the importance of what he learned, will be counted toward his grade, because it will not be on the prescribed assessment.  When I went to school and even when my children went, students were encouraged to reach out and expand their minds, we even got extra credit.  We were taught that that was the way people got ahead in the world.

If the teachers’ job and salary and the ranking of their school is dependent on how well his or her students perform on the assessment, who can blame them for “teaching to the test”?  Many fine teachers in this awful predicament are disheartened.  This was not why they chose a teaching career.  Few of them dare to speak up against Common Core because they need to provide for their families.

Common Core is and will be more far reaching and intrusive in our lives than any of us can foresee at the present time.  Loss of local control is frightening to me, not just in education, but particularly in education, because of the effect on the minds and hearts of our precious children, the future leaders of our Republic.

Can you please tell me, Senator, why an issue as important as almost completely changing our education system, did not come before the whole legislative body for discussion and debate– time and again?  Is not your opinion on this subject, vital as it is to each of us, as important as that of those on the Education Committee?  Were you not also elected to uphold Idaho conservative values?  You were probably as much in the dark about this as the rest of us; the more people in the dark about it, the more likely it was to be passed, and I think that was planned.

As Common Core is actually being implemented in the classroom and as more people are becoming aware of what this program really is, you will see it becoming more of an issue.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”   -Abraham Lincoln

Since Common Core affects all Idahoans, I’m sending this letter to each of you legislators, with my earnest plea that you will consider the ramifications inherent in such power and control as this program gives “somebody”.

Sincerely,

 

Mrs. Yvonne Hyer

Nampa, Idaho

 

—————————————————————————————–

Thank you to Yvonne Hyer.

Open Letter from Nevada Mother on Common Core   5 comments

Christina Leventis and spouse

Open Letter From NV Mom

 

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

Dear Mr. Petrilli:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Christina Leventis

Nevada Mother

On the Results of the SAGE/AIR Common Core Testing   12 comments

The news report is out:  “Sage Test Results Indicate Majority of Utah Students Not on Track for College”.

The  Office of Education’s official comment is: “With the new standards and with the new assessments they will see fewer students actually being proficient, but take that in context…”

Thus the USOE readily admitted that the new standards (Common Core) and the new assessments (SAGE/AIR) will make it appear that fewer students are actually being proficient.  So it’s not reality.  It’s an illusion created by the flawed new standards and testing system. It’s not that suddenly students are failing; it’s that the measuring stick has been switched midstream.

Everything’s different!  How can we say that Utah students are “not college and career ready” when even the very phrase (and meaning) of the term “college and career readiness” has been hijacked by the federal government to mean only what the federal government says it means?  And that means sameness.  Nothing else.

America had locally controlled, traditional, time-tested education in the past.  We have Common Core –standardized but experimental– education standards now. The test and its standards are a whole different beast from anything we had a few years ago. Children taught traditionally up until the past year or two or three (depending on the location of their school district) suddenly have been tested using a different measuring stick.

It’s almost as if we used to measure children’s height and now, instead, we’re measuring their weight. It’s almost like measuring with metric when you used to use pounds, ounces and inches.  It’s almost like taking a test in Spanish when you were raised speaking English.  We used to test traditional learning.  Now we test Common Core-defined math, Common Core-defined English.  It’s not the same thing.

How is it different?  Well, the Internet  is buzzing with examples of awful, awkward, unwieldy Common Core math problems that confuse and slow down math learning.  But what about the writing portion of the Common Core SAGE/AIR tests?

A friend who served on a state committee and recently reviewed 500 textbooks, recently expressed his Common Core English writing test concerns this way:

“In a typical Common Core practice item, children as young as 6 and 7 are given two “opinion” passages to read, usually on a social issue of some kind. The passages are short. The children are directed to read the passages, form “their own” opinion, based on one of the passages (an inherently biased exercise, but that’s a separate issue), then ADVOCATE for their opinion in writing, using information from the opinion pieces as supporting evidence. Net, net: Read little to no actual information, then form your own opinion, supported another person’s opinion. 

 

Consider the following:

·         The word “opinion” or “argument” is mentioned 38 times in the 110 Common Core writing standards.

·         Under Common Core, opinion-forming practice and testing is required for EVERY student in all thirteen grades, including Kindergarten.

·         “Opinion writing” testing is a central feature of the SAGE/Common Core tests.

 

(Source: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf)

 

What do you get when you combine low-info opinion practice, with messages (from the “informational texts”) to organize, resist, influence, strike, stand up, sit in, and vote, vote, vote…and you do this regularly for thirteen years? Yep, an entire generation of highly-opinionated ‘Low-Information Voters.'”

The same idea was expressed by an Arizona teacher who wrote:

My turning point came when in answer to questions I had about a student writing sample, my Common Core handler blurted out, “We don’t ever care what the kids’ opinions are. If they write what they think or put forth their opinion then they will fail the test.” I have always taught my students to think for themselves. They are to study multiple views on a given topic, then take their own position and support it with evidence. “That is the old way of writing,” my Common Core handler sighed. “We want students to repeat the opinions of the ‘experts’ that we expose them to on the test. This is the ‘new’ way of writing with the Common Core.”  From http://www.sott.net/article/280622-Creating-a-generation-of-Authoritarian-Followers-Interview-with-5th-grade-teacher-reveals-ideology-behind-Common-Core-creators

 

The above observations are supported by additional evidence from the actual SAGE test.  When a high school student last year chose to post screen shots she’d taken of a SAGE/AIR Common Core test question, we all saw that the students were being asked to opine about whether video games or books were a better way for students to learn.  The question itself framed the purpose of education oddly.  And the pieces that students were to read were slanted toward the opinion that video games were better.

The point is that SAGE/AIR Common Core tests are not just the flavor of the month, not just any variety of a test.  They are heavily agenda-driven.  They are manipulative of academic tradition, of student thought and student beliefs.

The news that students didn’t score “well” on them, should not lead us to conclude that “Utah students aren’t ready for college.”  The news should lead us to conclude that “these experimental, secretive tests are a departure from traditional, time-tested education and must be immediately revoked.”

The whole false narrative being pushed by the USOE should be scrutinized by sane minds.  For example, Judy Park of the USOE defended the tests and Common standards in the Fox 13 news article cited above.  Park implied that conforming to a national standard and test had been a good idea because “Our students are seeking jobs all over the world.”  Her argument, that Utah needed to become Common Core- aligned to help students be more competitive, truly lacks common sense.  The whole world flocks to U.S.Universities, including Utah universities– not because we have conformed to others, but because traditionally, we have been above and beyond others. Shouldn’t America remain individualistic and free, especially in the realm of education?

Making the education standards of Utah conform to Mr. David “Noneducator” Coleman‘s Common Core was a huge mistake; jumping on the “alignment of common data standards” bandwagon was likewise a huge mistake. We are losing individuality, autonomy and local innovation because of Common Core and its testing and data collection practices.

Dropping Common Core like an ugly hot potato, the way that Oklahoma did this year, is going to be increasingly difficult, however, because the Utah Attorney General fanned the flames of Common Core promotion when he reported that there’s no reason to worry about Common Core.

That’s another topic for another post.

 

Update: Pushback Against Testing Increases   2 comments

Guest Post by Bob Schaeffer, Colorado Principal

 

In this week’s stories, all key public education stakeholder constituencies — parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, community activists, and the general public — add their voices to the ever louder call for assessment reform. Too many politicians, however, give little but lip service to the movement’s demands while continuing to double down on failed test-and-punish policies. The Atlanta and Philadelphia standardized exam cheating scandals are reminders of one kind of ugly fallout from this obsession

Be sure to check out FairTest’s new fact sheet, “Teacher Evaluation Should Not Rest on Student Test Scores”
http://fairtest.org/teacher-evaluation-fact-sheet-2014Arizona Legislators Should Take the Tests They Promote
http://www.azcentral.com/story/brahm-resnik/2014/09/24/12news-arizona-citizenship-test-state-legislators-pass/16139755/

Largest Southern Colorado School District Proposes to Opt-Out of State Testing
http://gazette.com/d-11-board-votes-unanimously-to-request-change-in-testing-rules/article/1538211
Colorado Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Exams
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/23/colorado-teacher-i-refuse-to-administer-the-parcc-common-core-test-to-my-students/

Connecticut Governor’s Record on Testing Contradicts His Record
http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

Did Rhee-formers Close any Washington, DC Public School Achievement Gaps?
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/did-rheeformers-rhee-and-henderson-actually-close-any-of-those-achievement-gaps-in-dc-public-schools/

Calls to Suspend Florida State Testing Intensify as More Districts Weigh In
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/calls-to-suspend-state-mandated-testing-intensify-as-more-school-districts/2199071
Lee County School Board Strikes Down All Grade K-5 District-Mandated Tests
http://www.abc-7.com/story/26620085/district-mandated-k-5-test-elimination-makes-florida-history#.VCNcscmwRrs
Florida Parents Push Back on Standardized Testing
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article2261678.html
Florida Education Association Position on Testing and Opt Out
http://feaweb.org/fea-resolution-on-accountability-and-testing-opt-out
Florida School Superintendents Ask For Testing Relief
http://tbo.com/news/politics/schools-superintendents-ask-for-relief-in-transition-year-to-new-test-standards-20140929/

Atlanta Test Cheating Scandal is “Tip of an Iceberg”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/us/racketeering-trial-opens-in-altanta-schools-cheating-scandal.html
http://www.fairtest.org/%E2%80%9Catlanta-tip-iceberg%E2%80%9D-new-count-shows-widespread-t
Georgia Seeks One-Year Delay in Test-Based Teacher Evaluation
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional/georgia-seeks-one-year-delay-in-high-stakes-teache/nhTB7/

Illinois Districts May Seek Legislative Relief From Testing Mandates
http://evanstonnow.com/story/education/charles-bartling/2014-09-23/66202/d202-board-may-seek-relief-from-springfield-on

New Massachusetts Board of Ed Chair Says Schools Too Focused on Test Prep
http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140923/NEWS/140928749/12344/NEWS
Boston Teachers’ Petition: Say “No” to PARCC and High-Stake Exams
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/boston-say-no-to-parcc

Minnesota Educators Concerned With New High School ACT Test Requirement
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26624750/minnesotas-new-act-requirement-has-some-educators-worried

Testing in New Mexico Has Gone Too Far
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_26605498/elaine-hampton-new-mexico-has-gone-too-far
Teachers Sue to Block New Mexico Teacher Evaluation System
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_26628104/union-sues-over-new-mexico-teacher-evaluation-system
Moratorium Urged on Using Student Test Scores to Assess Teachers
http://www.abqjournal.com/470012/news/moratorium-urged-on-using-test-scores-in-teacher-evals.html

New York Congressman Promotes Bill to Reduce Federal Testing Mandates
http://www.theislandnow.com/opinions/readers-write-legislation-would-end-excessive-testing/article_4b158d08-44d0-11e4-bbe1-ef9f4e73f305.html
Thousands of Long Islanders Opt Out of Common Core Tests
http://www.antonnews.com/farmingdaleobserver/news/39726-common-core-tests-parents-choice.html
Mapping Poverty and Test Scores in New York State
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/09/8551205/mapping-poverty-and-test-scores-new-york-state
Federal Mandates Set Some New York Kids Up For Failure
http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/some-students-being-set-up-to-fail-roger-tilles-1.9414375

Ohio Triples Number of Exams Required for Graduation
http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/story/news/local/2014/09/26/testing-overload-grad-tests-triple-high-schoolers/16261961/
Ohio Parents Debate Effects of Increased Standardized Testing
http://ysnews.com/news/2014/09/parents-consider-effects-of-increased-standardized-testing

No “Accountability” for Oklahoma Testing Contractor
http://www.newschannel6now.com/story/26624035/oklahoma-board-to-consider-testing-contract

Two Former Philadelphia Principals Arrested for Alleged Test Cheating to Meet NCLB Mandates
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140926_2_more_Philly_principals_charged_in_cheating_probe.html
Penn. School Leaders Say Intense Pressure to Increase Test Scores Created Climate for Cheating
http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/73265-fallout-of-pa-cheating-scandal-continues-with-charges-against-two-philly-principals?

Tennessee Teachers Want Testing Transparency, Accountability From State
http://www.knoxnews.com/opinion/columnists/citizens-voice-beth-brown-teachers-want-accountability-from-state-testing-transparency_98316156

Texas Seeks $30 Million to Develop, Pilot Alternative Assessments
http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/texas-education-agency-wants-30-mil-to-pilot-alternative-to-staar.html/

West Virginia Teacher Evaluations Must Be Fair
http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140927/ARTICLE/140929417/1103

“No Pineapple Left Behind” — New Video Game Skewers Testing and Corporate Ed. “Reform”
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/satirical_video_game_skewers_n.html

Standardized Tests Don’t Accurately Reflect Anything Meaningful
http://conversationed.com/2014/09/22/why-standardized-tests-dont-accurately-reflect-anything

Why “Ed Reformers” Are Having Second Thoughts About Test-Driven Schooling
http://www.salon.com/2014/09/24/arne_duncans_staggering_statement_why_ed_reformers_are_having_second_thoughts/

Common Core Testing Will Take More Time Than Initially Estimated
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/09/common-core_assessment_group_revises_testing_time.html

Will Common Core Testing Technology Undermine New Math Performance Tasks?
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/24/05math.h34.html

The Scarring Effects of Primary Grade Retention
http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/03/sf.sou074.full

Mercyhurst University Adopts Test-Optional Policy
http://www.yourerie.com/news/news-article/d/story/mercyhurst-u-adopts-satact-optional-policy/17370/lBxxnviAm0uCw3l65v56Mg

Test-Optional Colleges vs. Test-Fixated K-12 Education
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/standardized-tests-are-a-more-helpful-to-college-bound-kids/article_26901790-45d0-11e4-9e2d-0017a43b2370.html

Dear Common Core English Standards: Can we talk?   1 comment

Dear Common Core English Standards: Can we talk?  – Here’s the link to the latest, greatest takedown of Common Core English Language Arts Standards, by an English teacher.  Classic!

UT Canyons District Teacher: “This is Why Teachers Are Afraid to Speak Out”   9 comments

Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis.  Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:

 

“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS.  Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”

 

Passed: Utah County Republican Resolution Against Common Core   3 comments

Below is the full text of the resolution that Utah County Republicans voted to pass, in opposition to Common Core this week. 

It will be interesting to see what Governor Herbert does with the mounting evidence that Utahns oppose Common Core.  Despite publically taking a second look at the academics, he has not taken any steps to get a second look at state  and federal data mining done in Utah, nor has he taken a second look at the actual governance structure of Common Core which seems far, far more important than the academic snapshot.  The governor’s still moving full steam on with the Common Core-promoting Prosperity 2020 and SLDS systems in this state, and has not resigned from his Common Core-promoting role in the  National Governors Association (that unelected, private trade group which created and copyrighted the Common Core.) 

Governor, is it time to start listening more closely to voters?

Utah County Republican Resolution

 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), adopted as part of the “Utah
Core,” is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of nationally-based standards and tests
developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and
unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core binds us to an established copyright over standards, limiting our ability to
create or improve education standards that we deem best for our own children; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
 
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits federal authority over curriculum and
testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-
building and data collection is federally managed; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural
(i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and
assessments; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core promotes the storage and sharing of private student and family data without
consent; using a pre-school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State
Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating substantial opportunities for invasion of privacy; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core intrudes on the constitutional authority of the states over education by
pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’, and if not adopted, penalties include loss of funds and, just as Oklahoma experienced a loss of
their ESEA waiver; and
 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee and Utah State Republican Convention recently passed a
resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw
from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, the
Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other similar alliance, and;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor
and the State legislature requesting executive and legislative action.

Peter Greene: Common Core is a Bad Boyfriend   Leave a comment

peter_greene_100w

His  latest:  detecting a bad boyfriend is like seeing through Common Core.

“…The crying kids. When your boyfriend makes your kids miserable, that’s a sign that he’s toxic. When your educational reform problem sucks the joy of learning out of children, something is wrong.

The addictions. If bad boyfriend is an alcoholic, you can argue that he’s not the problem—it’s just the alcohol. But the truth is you can’t separate the two. The common core has a bad addiction to high-stakes testing, lesson micro-management, and invalid teacher evaluations. It’s technically true that CCSS and these other reform ideas are separate, but they come as a package.

The lies. If you catch bad boyfriend lying about his job, his age, and his family, all the charm in the world can’t keep you from wondering what else he has lied about. Common-core boosters claimed it was written by teachers, internationally benchmarked, and research based. Turns out none of that is true

The money. Money is not inherently evil. But when it turns out bad boyfriend has been taking money out of your purse, that doesn’t help the romance. Common-core-based reform keeps revealing new ways to suck money out of schools and deliver it to corporate interests.

The blaming. Bad boyfriend is sorry that he yells at you, but you shouldn’t have made it necessary. The common-core narrative asked teachers to see themselves as failures, regardless of what they could see with their own eyes…”

(Read the rest!)

Video: Connecticut Student Speaks Out Against Common Core   1 comment

This three minute video features a beautiful Connecticut public school student making a speech at her local school board meeting.

Highlights:

“In my honors English class we are focusing more on social studies topics than on English topics.  The texts we have received so far contain subliminal messaging of a leftist view of society.  One quote…’American pride seems excessive.’  Is this the message you want to send to your students?  Well, I for one would never be ashamed to be an American…”

“…These methods are being sold as rigorous and critical thinking skills…. They are a waste of time… Under the Common Core system we are taught in groups and are told we have to come to an answer we all agree on. We are being taught to think as a whole and not as a creative individual”

“I will never surrender my unique right as an American to disagree with the person sitting next to me or the people in my government…. this program is destroying our schools, our confidence, and our freedom.”

“I would also like you to know that there will be more like me soon –and we will not go away.”

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments