Archive for the ‘Thomas Jefferson’ Tag

Alpine School Board Member Wendy Hart: Why I Oppose Common Core   2 comments

Guest Post by Wendy Hart, member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah

Some of you have followed my journey on this issue from the beginning.  Others have just become acquainted.  Here is a short summary of my opposition to Common Core.  [As posted below] http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-i-oppose-common-core.html

I know many of you are in support of Common Core, and that’s fine.  One of my biggest complaints about the whole process was the lack of transparency in the adoption process.  I have found that the more people who can weigh in on an issue, the greater the opportunity we, as elected officials, have to see all the potential ramifications.  I have been told that we, the public, just didn’t show up when we had the opportunity.
In point of fact, the Alpine School Board minutes do not make mention of Common Core or new standards at all until well after the formal adoption by the State Board in Aug. 2010.  With all due respect, the public and, at least, the Alpine School Board were kept in the dark.
All that is to say, feel free to advocate for whatever position you see fit.  I will not be offended.
I hope you will not be offended by my standing for what I believe.

Why I Oppose Common Core

Who is in control of our children’s education?
This shift to the Common Core is a huge lurch away from bottom-up, local control to top-down, centralized control. Common Core is about creating a single pathway to supposed economic and educational success. Think about it, 45 states all adopting the same standards at the same time. 45 states all implementing Common Core testing, nationwide, at the same time. All the publishers and teacher training courses aligning to Common Core at the same time. And, what about college? the ACT and SAT? They, too, will be aligning to Common Core. What are the options should you object, as a parent, as a school, as a district?
What are the options if we decide, once we have full implementation and actual experience to back up the Common Core experiment, that we made a mistake? How do we amend? How do we turn back? A few years from now, it will be too late. We have just signed on to a system to eliminate, through attrition, virtually all other options in public education.
And who made this decision about what our kids will learn? Five people with a nod from Bill Gates and a couple of D.C. lobbying groups, were able to get their untested vision implemented via financial and legal incentives, as well as disputed promises of ‘greater rigor’, ‘college and career readiness’, and ‘international benchmarking’. We have decided to go down this path due, in part, to incentives, but also to the idea of not being left behind the rest of the states. That, somehow, Utah wasn’t capable of taking care of our own. It shows a supreme lack of confidence in the people, teachers, and principals of Utah that our State Board thought they needed to rush to adopt the Common Core, along with other states to get the federal money, instead of allowing the debate, discussion, and involvement of local Utahns in this process.
People will say, “It doesn’t matter where we get it; the ends justify the means.” We must reject that notion. What we are saying, in effect, is that the principles we stand for don’t matter. That parents and local communities don’t matter—only the opinion of the so-called experts matters, as long as our kids learn what the experts want them to learn. Why would we want to encourage a system where the people are not involved in creating the best schools? Instead, we have a system where we trust the experts to tell us what ‘the best’ actually means. And in this case, those ‘experts’ are in control.
In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter about education and linked it to the proper role of government. In it, he articulates two important principles. He said, “if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. …
No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.”

Common Core violates both these principles: 1) Parents must direct the education of their kids in school, not the government, and 2) Good and safe government, and that includes public schools, comes from dividing and distributing power. Consolidated power is not safe, and creates the potential for corruption, and, at the very least, destroys the means for innovation and outside the box thinking.

Jefferson goes on to say,“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 powers into one body…”
This is EXACTLY what Common Core does.
We are at the crossroads. We can abdicate our parental and local responsibilities to the so-called experts and the rich philanthropists, or we can reclaim bottom-up, parent-controlled education. In the end, I will stand on the side of parents, local teachers, and local communities deciding what is of most worth to pass on to their own children.
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Wendy Hart has also explained Utah’s unthinking adoption of Common Core in this video.
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Utah Mom Alyson Williams: The Common Core Standards That We Aren’t Talking About   15 comments

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Utah Mom Alyson Williams’ razor-sharp wit and use of unarguable facts makes the speech she gave at a Common Core debate (with State School Board member Dixie Allen and two professors) a powerful tool in the national Stop Common Core arsenal. Below are her prepared remarks. The event was filmed and will be posted soon.

6 few smashing highlights from the speech –words I’d like to slap up on websites and billboards and bumpers all over the country:

1 “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.”

2 “The Department of Ed … set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Amendment.”

3 “The Utah Constitution … does not say that [the board] can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.”

4 “Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

5 “No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.”

6 “We can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world.”

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THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS THAT WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT

Guest post by Alyson Williams, Utah mom

We’ve heard that with Common Core we’re just setting higher standards for learning, right? Why would a mom who wants the very best for her children be against that?

We are a community with high standards for all kinds of things, not just education. Standards can be examples, expectations, models, patterns, or precedents to follow or measure oneself against.

Keeping those synonyms in mind I’d like to talk about the standards we’ve set for our children in the course of adopting the Common Core. You may be surprised to learn that we have set new standards not only for math and english, but also for how public education is governed.

At the beginning of Obama’s first term our Congress passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as “the Stimulus” which included $100 Billion dollars for education. At the time major newspapers buzzed about the unprecedented power of assigning this much money to the discretion of the Education Secretary with virtually no congressional oversight. From the Stimulus came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to set rules for education, in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States themselves under the 10th Ammendment.

This 36 page document, “The Road to a National Curriculum” was written by two former top lawyers for the US Department of Education. In it they offer an analysis of how these reforms violate three Federal laws. They conclude, “The Department has simply paid others to do that which it is forbidden to do.” (p.18)

Using taxpayer money from the stimulus to implement reforms that weaken the State’s autonomy over education is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Proponents of these reforms like to point out that adopting these reforms was a legitimate exercise of state’s rights because the development of the standards was led by the Governors at the National Governors Association. The problem is, the Utah State Constitution does not grant authority over education to our Governor. Furthermore, there is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors. Comparing best practices is one thing, but Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body. The organizations that introduced Common Core to our nation, state-by-state, had no constitutional commission to do what they did.

Allowing rules for education to be set by those with no authority to do so is not a high enough standard for me or my children.

The Governor didn’t decide on his own that Utah would adopt these reforms. The agreements were also signed by the State Superintendent acting in behalf of the State School Board. The Utah Constitution does give authority to the State School Board to set academic standards. It does not say that they can outsource a role we entrusted to them to a non-governmental trade organization who outsourced it to another group of hand-picked experts. This is called “delegation” and it has been established in legal precedent to be unconstitutional.

Elected officials delegating a job we entrusted to them to a body outside the jurisdiction of state oversight is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

The official USOE pamphlet on the Common Core adoption says that the State School Board “monitored this process.” But Dane Linn who was the education director for the NGA at the time the standards were being written stated, “All of the standards writing and discussions were sealed by confidentiality agreements, and held in private.” http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/06/07/five-people-wrote-state-led-common-core

There were no meeting minutes, no public records, no obligation by the lead writers to even respond to the input of anyone who submitted it, including any input from our school board. As a parent and a taxpayer, this process cuts me out completely.

As citizens of a self-governing Republic, this non-representative process is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

While this process was different than the way standards have been vetted in the past, the State School Board insists their involvement and review was adequate and that there was time for public input. The USOE published this timeline for adoption of the standards. Here it says that the summer of 2010 was the public comment period. However, the final draft was not available until June 2, and the Board took their first of two votes to adopt them two days later on June 4. The second and final vote was made a month later, but the first formally announced public comment period I could find was in April of 2012 – 22 months after the Board officially adopted the standards.

No meaningful public input on changes that affect all of our community schools is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

When the Department of Education ran out of grant money to get states to implement their reforms, they offered the states waivers from unpopular requirements of No Child Left Behind that many Utah schools were not anticipated to meet. While the No Child Left Behind law did grant limited authority to the Department of Education to waive certain conditions, it did not grant them authority to require new conditions in exchange.

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This increasingly common habit of the executive branch to waive laws and replace them with their own rules, as if they held the lawmaking authority assigned to Congress, is not an acceptable standard for me and my children.

This is not the only example of the Department of Education overstepping their authority. In order for States to collect the individual student data required by these reforms, the US Department of Ed altered the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) weakening the protection of parental control over sharing student data. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Fordham University’s Center for Law and Information Policy have written briefs charging that the Education Department acted illegally.

Unelected officials gutting laws that were established by Congress to protect my family’s privacy is not a high enough standard for me and my children.

Ever since we started down the road of adopting Common Core, in fact, I’ve noticed a much greater influence over education by unelected special interests. In an article published in the Washington Post in May (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/12/gates-gives-150-million-in-grants-for-common-core-standards/), for example, it was estimated that the Gates Foundation has spent at least $150 million dollars to fund and promote Common Core.

A July 2010 BusinessWeek Coverstory on Bill Gates quotes Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy saying, “As a private entity that doesn’t answer to voters, Gates can back initiatives that are politically dicey for the Obama Administration, such as uniform standards … In the past, states’ rights advocates have blocked federal efforts for a national curriculum. Gates ‘was able to do something the federal government couldn’t do.” http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_30/b4188058281758.htm#p4

When one very rich man has a greater influence over the direction of public education than parents, teachers and local communities that sets an unacceptable standard for “we the people,” for me, and for my children.

What is the justification for pushing these reforms through, bypassing the checks and balances of our established legal framework? We have to do it we are told so that our children will be “career and college ready.”

The Govenor, on his webpage for education, says we need to implement these reforms to “align educational training to meet the workforce demands of the marketplace.” http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

To me, all of these workforce goals seem to imply that the highest aim of education is work. Historically, the purpose of American education was to nurture the development of self-governing citizens, with work being incidental to that development. This nation has uniquely thrived according to the principle that a free market with good people pursuing their own dreams works better than attempts at centrally regulated markets with efficiently trained workers.

Being an efficient employee in a job that matches a data profile collected by the state from cradle to career is not a high enough standard for education, not for my children.

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of publicly funded education. He saw literate citizens educated in history and principles of good government as a necessary condition of maintaining liberty. He said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

How tragically ironic if, in the very name of public education, we end up eroding those very safeguards of liberty that he championed.

My opposition to the way we’ve adopted Common Core (and the rest of the education reforms introduced in the Stimulus) is not just about the education of my children, it is about the type of government I hope my children will inherit when they have children of their own. I believe we can set high standards for math and English without circumventing, stretching, or ignoring the high standards for self government that have made our nation unique in all the history of the world. This is the Constitution of the United States of America. These standards ARE high enough for me, and my children.

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Brilliant. Thank you, Alyson Williams.

Video: Ending Compulsory Education   6 comments

This five-minute video is worth our time. Oak Norton explains why ending compulsory education benefits us all. It makes so much sense that I am left wondering why we didn’t do this, long ago.

Celebrating Constitution Day   Leave a comment

    In Celebration of Constitution Day –Remember What It Doesn’t Say About Education

Thanks to Shane Vander Hart and American Principles Project for this great article, posted here: http://americanprinciplesproject.org/preserve-innocence/2012/in-celebration-of-constitution-day-remember-what-it-doesnt-say-about-education/

by Shane Vander Hart on September 17, 2012

Today we mark the day back in 1787 when our Constitution was presented to the several States for ratification.  In celebration of that historic event let’s remember what’s not in there.

In Section 8 of the Constitution we see:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

What’s missing?  Education, and yet since the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 we’ve seen a growing creep of the Federal government into education culminating in the coercision by the U.S. Department of Education of the states to except the Common Core State Standards through the Race to the Top program and the No Child Left Behind waivers.  The founding fathers saw no role for education and thus it was left out of the enumerated powers and given to the states via the 10th Amendment.

  Thomas Jefferson was quite clear about this.  In a letter written to Joseph Cabell on February 2, 1816 he cautioned even against a state role in education, let alone a federal role.  He wrote:

…if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. Try the principle one step further, and amend the bill so as to commit to the governor and council the management of all our farms, our mills, and merchants’ stores. No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself.  (emphasis mine)

But what about the General Welfare clause, can’t Congress be involved in education through it’s spending authority?  That has been used for everything from education, growing federal regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency to health care reform.  James Madison, the father of our Constitution would have been horrified to see that clause used in such a matter.  He said during a debate on the ratification of the Constitution in 1792:

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the “general welfare,” and are the sole and supreme judges of the “general welfare,” then they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the United States; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police would be thrown under the power of Congress, for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the “general welfare.”

Madison knew that if the original intent of the General Welfare clause were even expanded then Congress would have an unchecked ability to intrude into areas designated by the Constitution to be under the control of state and local governments.

So Happy Constitution Day and remember the limits this document places upon our government.

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Two more great ways to celebrate Constitution Day: http://www.constitutionreader.com/reader.engz?doc=constitution

and http://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/family-home-evening-lessons-for-the-bicentennial-of-the-constitution/

Does Defending the Constitution Require Rejecting Common Core?   3 comments

    What Thomas Jefferson wrote matters:  government gets its power “from the consent of the governed.”

Without the consent of the people who are being told what to do, there is not a good or free government, but a system of subtle (or not-so-subtle) oppression.

Common Core is a system of oppression, by this definition.  How? Because parents, teachers, and state legislators have never given consent or been asked to vote on Common Core; in fact, the standards were set in concrete without any amendment process available, under copyright by the National Governors’ Association (a trade group that does not include all governors).  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license  Yet, we all are being made to take on Common Core, whether we know what it is, whether we like it, whether it makes legal, educational, financial sense to us –or not.

Common Core is not Constitutional.

It violates the major provisions of the Constitution, including:  the principle of representation; separation of powers with checks and balances; limited powers of the government, and sovereignty of the people (not of elites)– each of these principles is trampled by Common Core and its sister, the new FERPA student privacy law alterations.

True, adopting Common Core was voluntary for Governors and state school boards, initially, and true, it was not initiated by the Dept. of Education –but states’ adoption was strongly incentivized, financially and with the offer of NCLB waivers, by the Dept. of Education.  And it is controlled by the Department of Education, which also controls the testing consortia.

Ezra Taft Benson explained how unconstitutional agencies operate. This explanation applies precisely to the unconstitutional program of Common Core –of federalized education and tests.  He said:

“What many fail to realize is that most of these federal agencies are unconstitutional. Why are they unconstitutional? They are unconstitutional because they concentrate the functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches under one head. They have, in other words, power to make rulings, enforce rulings, and adjudicate penalties when rulings are violated. They are unconstitutional because they represent an assumption of power not delegated to the executive branch by the people. They are also unconstitutional because the people have no power to recall administrative agency personnel by their vote.”

When America created a Department of Education, it also created a law to make sure the agency didn’t overstep the reasons it was created.  This is called G.E.P.A. law, the General Educational Provisions Act.  G.E.P.A. says this:

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, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system.”

But the Common Core Initiative ignores  this.  The Department of Education coerces (“directs, supervises and controls”) the “choice” of states’ adoption of the standards; it controls the two consortia’s testing systems micro-management style;  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf and it finances Common Core above any other educational initiative states might want to create (for example, via high-stakes grants such as Race to the Top, Race to the Top for Assessments and via the NCLB waiver/ESEA Flexibility request, etc.)

   J. Reuben Clark wrote this about the Constitution’s protective gift to us:

“It gave us, for perhaps the first time in all history, a republic with the three basic divisions of government– the Legislative, Executive, and Jucidial– mutually and completely independent, the one from the other, under which it is not possible for any branch of government legally to set up a system by which that branch can first conceive what it wants to do, then make a law ordering its doing and then, itself, judge its own enforcement of its own law, a system that has always brougth extortion, oppression, intimidation, tyranny, despotism– a system that every dictator has employed and must employ.” (Improvement Era, July 1940, p. 443; qtd in The Constitution, a Heavenly Banner, by Ezra T. Benson)

Thus, the Executive Branch (The Department of Education) has illegally set up Common Core, according to the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.  Also, the Department of Education illegally broke G.E.P.A. law.  Not only that, the Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to change FERPA privacy regulations six months ago, to enable Common Core tests to be accessed without parental consent, creating the very system described as illegal in the quote by J. Reuben Clark above.

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