Archive for the ‘transparency’ Tag

Update on Common Science Standards in Utah   2 comments

Utah’s state superintendent is unfortunately stonewalling the public on science standards.

I’ve sent my  letter  to her twice.  I’ve sent her direct twitter messages, twice.

No response.  Others report the same lack of answers.

Public stonewalling should kind of be an outrage.  Your paychecks and mine are garnished for taxes to pay Superintendent Dickson   over $300,000 per year –to serve the public.

I encourage you to continue to write to her, and call.  Here is the superintendent’s email address, the board’s address, and a few curriculum directors’ addresses:    Sydnee.dickson@schools.utah.gov   Board@schools.utah.gov  Diana.suddreth@schools.utah.gov  Rich.Nye@schools.utah.gov

We are compelled to use what the USOE/USSB put into place; our families are the public education consumers; we truly deserve transparency.

My letter  asked:  “To what degree does Utah maintain constitutional control over science education?”  and “Are we using a common core for science without public consent?”  Other people’s profoundly relevant letters, with deeper insights into the problems with NGSS common science, are posted below.

Perhaps this is the truth: maybe, as soon as Utah started buying common tests from American Institutes for Research (AIR) Utah might have forced itself to use the NGSS common science standards, since AIR writes tests for multiple, common core and common science-using states.

If that’s true, it’s a big a problem, because citizens and members of the legislature have been, on record, promised –by current and past superintendents –that Utah would not use common science standards.

The state office now has crossed off the part of the agenda that previously said “MOU  –  Various  –   Science assessment bank with other states”  and moved it, without explanation, to the finance committee for another day.  (Should we assume they are discussing paying for the common science before ok-ing it with us?)

Wendy Hart, a member of Utah’s largest school district’s school board, warned about the dangers of NGSS common science standards in a video made a few years ago, posted here.  She also gave permission to post her recent letter to the state school board.  (Below video.)

 

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January 3, 2018

Dear Finance Committee Members,

I am writing to ask two things regarding the MOU for sharing science test bank items, scheduled for tomorrow morning’s discussion.
1. Since an MOU is a formal, legally-binding document, I think it would be in the public’s best interest to view the terms of the MOU prior to discussion by the committee.  I would ask that you postpone discussion on this issue until the public has had a chance to view the actual language of the MOU and to offer comment.  I would suggest that board policy should dictate full disclosure of all contractual agreements prior to discussion, with proper notification.
2. I would also ask you to not rush into any adoption of the MOU until such time as the science standards are formally adopted for all testing grades, 3-11, and are shown to be compatible (or exactly the same as) those standards from the participating states.
What is tested is what is taught in the classroom.  David Coleman, President of the College Board and Lead Writer of the Common Core ELA standards, has said, “Teachers will teach towards the test.  There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent this…The truth is…tests exert an enormous effect on instructional practice, direct and indirect.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePrXlPQdVDw  quote is at 1:26.  So, that means whatever those test items are, we will be teaching to them, regardless of what standards we may or may not yet have adopted.  Adopting this MOU would be a de facto adoption of the science standards most common to the states involved in the agreement.
That said, adopting what I presume to be test bank questions from other states with common science standards (arguably NGSS) would be an end run around the statutory process of standards adoption and your purview as elected officials.  I also wonder whether the parent panel would be reviewing those test bank questions as part of their charge.  If not, that would be another statutory concern.
It also seems there is a desire (I’m not sure by whom) to adopt the NGSS despite some very concrete concerns with their lack of rigor, uneven approach to body systems (completely lacking) and electric circuits and physics (almost non-existent) lack of applied mathematics in HS topics such as chemistry and physics.  I am unsure why there must be so much promotion of standards that are objectively inferior to what we have had on so many levels.  Utah’s current science standards (at least before the grade 6-8 adoption) were rated superior to NGSS by Fordham. (https://edexcellence.net/publications/final-evaluation-of-NGSS.html?v=publication)
I know many believe the opposition to NGSS is purely religious.  For me, it is purely scientific.  Our ACT science scores are better than the NGSS states who test all their juniors (and better than the national average, as well).  The math associated with physics and chemistry is currently taught and applied.  Fordham’s comment is that the NGSS “seem to assiduously dodge the mathematical demands inherent in the subjects covered.”  Also, integrated science is much more problematic than integrated math (and I promise you don’t want to get me started on what a nightmare integrated math is) since teachers don’t major in science, but in biology or chemistry or physics.
A full six months before the board received the grade 6-8 science draft, every school district in this state was given the opportunity to send representatives to a training at Weber State on the “new” science standards.  It looked as if the adoption of the NGSS was a foregone conclusion.  (And despite claims there are significant differences between SEED and NGSS, there is very little substantive difference.) After finding that out, it appeared that the public discussion and adoption was a mere formality.
This MOU signals something similar. I am not opposed to losing the debate on adopting NGSS as long as the process is done in the open, with full-disclosure, public comments, and an actual discussion of where our current science standards are lacking and how the NGSS fill that need.  I may disagree, but I am willing to concede when my position is not popular, as long as it is done in a transparent, fully-informed way.  I am opposed to putting the testing before the standards adoption and allowing the tail to wag the dog, as it were.
Please hold off on adopting the MOU for test bank items that may or may not fit with our current science standards, but will have the appearance of circumventing the standards adoption process outlined in state law and board rule.
For any of you who are interested in my concerns about the NGSS, you can read it here ( http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/05/state-standards-burden-of-proof-rests.html).
As for the religious issue, I don’t think science standards should compel or repel belief one way or another.  It is not our role as public educational entities to dictate belief systems for the students in our purview.  True scientific inquiry does no such thing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to listen.  I would be happy to discuss this or any issue with you at any time.
If you will be attending the USBA conference, please make sure to say “hello.”
I know the time and energy that you put into serving us.  I am extremely grateful for your dedication and sacrifice on our behalf.
Sincerely,
Wendy Hart
Highland, UT
_______________________________
Jakell Sullivan, a researcher and parent living in the same county that Wendy Hart and I share, wrote the following letter to the state board and superintendent:
______________________________

Dear Superintendent Dickson and State School Board,

On the State Board’s agenda tomorrow, I see Item 1:1 Science (Assessment) Item Sharing Memorandum of Understanding will be in the Finance Committee.
Can someone answer a few questions for me? They are:
1. Is this Memorandum of Understanding something that has already been signed?
2. If so, where can citizens read it, and see what this Memorandum of Understanding is costing taxpayers?
3. If not, why is this item already in the Finance Committee?
4. Were you aware that:
On its website, American Institutes for Research (AIR) makes it appear that Utah already entered into an MOU, as of August 2016, with 9 other states–to share assessment items that support Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?
This is interesting because Utah is supposed to have its own, unique Science Standards. AIR lists Utah’s Science Standards’ writer, Brett Moulding–who is also a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) team lead writer–as an expert in helping them shift states into Next Generation Science Standards assessments. I note that Mr. Moulding’s organization, the Partnership for Effective Science Teaching/Learning (PESTL), received a federal grant under ESEA Title IIB (see page 5 hereand is working with 5 Utah districts to improve science teaching and learning. The National Science Teachers Association says that the 5-district collaborative supports the NGSS.
My conclusion, based on the above items, is that through AIR’s oversteps, and through federal teacher/learning grants, Utah may be ceding control of our science standards. And, that an assessments MOU with other states will ensure that reality.
I hope to hear from you about how the Board can ensure public confidence in Utah’s Science Standards and Science Assessments. Questar, Utah’s newest assessment company, was the first assessment company to meet global technology specs for interoperability of tests and test items between assessment platform vendors–as funded through Race to the Top:
This, also, appears to be an egregious overstep of state and local control over assessment content, and curriculum control, that I hope State Board members can address with each other, with legislators and the Governor’s office.
All the best, and thanks,
JaKell Sullivan
Parent – Highland, UT
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 In my next blog post,  I will respond to the question of “What’s wrong with NGSS common science?”

 

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Yet Another Utah Parent Speaks Out: Why No Open Debate on Common Core?   1 comment

This parent’s letter has to be shared.

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To the members of the Utah State School Board:

I am writing to voice my displeasure at the path you are taking to silence legitimate opposition to your new Utah Core Standards, otherwise known as the Common Core. Rather than spending your time and our tax dollars on propaganda and talking points, why not spend them on a series of public meetings and serious open debate and discussion of the pros and cons of this new way of doing things in Utah public education.

Debra Roberts, at the meeting of the Interim Education Committee of the Utah State Legislature, said that “in four years, we have made major, major changes” in Utah public education. My question to you is why are these “major, major changes” being made behind closed doors?

If your decisions are sound and your defense of them valid, why not air them in the open and let others see the wisdom of your ways? I propose that instead of 30 minutes of restricted public comment, we engage in at least 30 days of widely publicized public meetings and open debate and discussion prior to the upcoming school year and the next regular session of the Legislature. Instead of paid advertisments, let’s have a townhall-style public debate between your representatives and the opposition’s. Truth and sound judgment need not fear scrutiny. What are you trying to hide?

Sincerely,

A Northern Utah
Concerned parent and citizen

Utah Asst. Superintendent Dodges the Billion Dollar Question –Again   3 comments

After a whole year of never receiving an email response from Asst. Superintendent Judy Park, today she wrote back!  Wow.
But.  The billion dollar question was dodged again.  It’s been dodged in emails for over a year.  It was dodged twice more at last night’s Common Core (S.A.G.E./A.I.R.) presentation, both during and after the event.   But I wrote an email asking it again.
Here it is, and here’s her answer.

My Question:   Please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?

Ms. Park’s Answer:   You have received a great deal of information about the common core from Brenda Hales, Associate Superintendent. I would encourage you to direct your questions about the common core to her.

Another dodge!  Another D O D G E!

Utterly, completely unbelievable!

This dodge is like building a house (a new Utah educational system) on quicksand (illegitimate standards) and insisting that everyone to keep admiring the roof (nifty technology) –and telling the homeowner (teacher/taxpayers/parents) who paid for the whole thing and will live in it for life, to quit asking the pesky questions about those sinking wobbly motions in the foundation, directing that homeowner to ask an irrelevant wallpaper hanger why the home was built in quicksand.

There comes a time when you either keep yelling at the t.v./radio/computer screen/newspaper, or you make a move.
Utah, I am asking you to make a move.  Call.  Write.  Tell our Governor, School Board, legislature and U.S.O.E.  that we deserve answers to these most basic of all questions that affect our children and grandchildren in dramatic ways, for the rest of their lives.  Please act. 
Here’s an email for the state school board: board@schools.utah.gov
This is what I wrote to Assistant Superintendent Judy Park today.
Judy,
Thank you for taking the time to partially respond to some of my questions.
Please– stop dodging the most important question, for me and for all Utahns.
“First, do no harm” applies to education as well as to medicine.  Please show us proof that the USSB/USOE is doing no harm by implementing Common Core; this should be easy.  Brenda Hales, the public relations person is not an academic expert; you are.  By dodging the question to her it appears that you don’t even know whether Common Core is snake oil –or not.
Don’t teachers, parents and legislators deserve to know that hundreds of millions of dollars and hours and children’s minds all pushing toward Common Core implementation is  being spent wisely?!   Do we not deserve to see evidence and references backing up the oft-repeated claim that these standards are helpful?
Where is the study showing that long-term, lives are enhanced when high school seniors are deprived of 70% of their classic literature?  Where is the study showing that long-term, students who are deprived of the knowledge of how to convert fractions into decimals, are blessed by that fact?  Countless examples could be shared.
You serve on the CCSSO, the D.C. group which developed and copyrighted these unproven standards.  You have been doing this longer than our State Superintendent and you stand uniquely qualified to answer questions about the academic  legitimacy of the standards and about the lack of any empirical evidence to back up the U.S.O.E.’s claims– which have been replicated on every district website in this stateand which are false.
The standards are not serving children honorably.  They take away from, rather than raise, Utah’s educational hopes.  Less classic literature.  Less traditional math.  Slowing of the age at which algorithms are introduced.  Less narrative writing.  Less parental consent.  No  district-held control over the sharing of student data.  And worst of all, the standards and connected reforms and mandates have robbed Utah of educational sovereignty, a constitutional right.  We have no voice, no amendment process.  For such a trade, the standards must surely be magnificent.
Yet you cannot even point me to the documentation that these standards are more than a blind experiment on our kids, written by noneducators and adopted at grant-point, rather than after thorough and honorable academic vetting in Utah?
This is an absolute outrage.
In the name of integrity, what are you going to do about it?
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
Utah Parent

TX Education Commissioner Robert Scott: Testimony Opposing Common Core 2-6-2013   2 comments

Robert Scott was the Texas Commissioner of Education when Common Core rolled into town on the Race to the Top grant application train.

In this video, he says many important things.  None are more important than his opening, where he states that his experience with the Common Core started:  “when I was asked to sign on to them before they were written. I was told I needed to sign a letter agreeing to the Common Core and I asked if I might read them first, which is, I think, appropriate and I was told they hadn’t been written but they still wanted my signature on the letter.  And I said, ‘That’s absurd; first of all I don’t have the legal authority to do that because our law requires our elected state board of education to adopt curriculum standards to be done with the direct input of Texas teachers, parents and business.  So adopting something that was written behind closed doors in another state would not meet my state law.”

This is an extremely important testimony for anyone weighing the decision of remaining tied to Common Core rules, or breaking free.

Heartland Institute: Why Are Tax-Funded Common Core Meetings Closed To the Public?   Leave a comment

This article was posted today by Heartland Institute:  http://news.heartland.org/print/133949

Tax-Sponsored Common Core Meetings Closed to Public

January 3, 2013

Though 46 states will spend an estimated $5 to $12 billion [2] to implement a new set of national education standards called the Common Core, public officials are arranging these standards in hundreds of closed-door meetings.

 

Meetings between members of the Council of Chief State School Officers to write and discuss these standards and corresponding tests are closed to the public, though taxpayers pay for state officials to attend these meetings and to be CCSSO members.

 

“[T]he Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year,” its meeting webpage states [3]. “CCSSO meetings are closed to the public and attendance is by invitation only unless otherwise denoted” (emphasis original).

 

CCSSO and the National Governor’s Association are two nonprofits that coordinated state involvement and adoption of the Core. It outlines what states will expect K-12 children to know in math and English/language arts in each grade. Nearly all states adopted them in 2010 within five months of their release, and plan to fully implement them, along with matching tests currently in development, by 2014-2015.

 

“What was behind those policies, what was considered, the different elements that went into them, the ideas that went into them—it’s a black box,” said Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a public transparency watchdog. “The public do have the right to know the laws that are going to affect them and their families, especially when they’re paying for them.”

 

Millions From States State membership in each related CCSSO committee costs $16,000 each year, and states can and do participate in several committees. Lead state Indiana, for example, participates in the math and social studies committees, where 23 and 10 states, respectively, are members, said Indiana Department of Education spokesman Adam Baker. On its latest financial statement, the CCSSO reported $2,187,626 in revenue from membership dues for all activities in 2011.

 

Multiply just one membership fee by 46 participating states for a minimum of $736,000 in tax dollars the CCSSO receives each year for an initiative reshaping nearly every textbook, replacing nearly all state tests, overhauling teacher training nationwide, providing the basis to measure teachers, and creating nationwide data repositories for student grades, behavior, attendance, and more.

 

Despite this monumental impact and tax sponsorship, CCSSO activities are largely hidden to taxpayers because it is a nongovernmental nonprofit. This means its meetings and paperwork are not subject to open records laws that let the public find what their money is funding.

 

Frustrated Parents Indiana resident Heather Crossin, whose children attend schools implementing the Core, attempted to attend an October 2012 CCSSO meeting in her Indianapolis hometown. Crossin called Michele Parks, a CCSSO meeting planner, to see if she could attend. No, Parks said. Crossin asked to see a list of people on the Social Studies standards writing team: “I was told that was not available for public release,” Crossin said.

 

Ten weeks entailing dozens of emails and phone calls to at least six CCSSO spokesmen and personnel for access to the Indianapolis meeting or any others at last yielded an email to School Reform News from spokeswoman Kate Dando in December: “our meetings/sessions at our meetings are open to press really on a case by case basis,” she wrote.

 

Some reporters have attended some CCSSO meetings, usually on background, she said, which means they cannot directly quote what they hear. Why?

 

“It’s going to be reported that X state said this about their progress,” Carrie Heath Phillips, CCSSO’s Common Core director, told SRN. “When they have those conversations, we keep that protected, but it depends on the meeting and topic.”

 

Federal Tax Sponsorship CCSSO receives tax money from more than state dues. It receives millions from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Approximately 13% and 33% of the Council’s revenue and 25% and 34% of accounts receivable were provided by U.S. Department of Education grants or contracts for fiscal years 2011 and 2010, respectively,” the nonprofit’s 2010-2011 financial statement reads.

 

Applying the 2011 percentage to that year’s revenues yields an estimated $3,450,930 in CCSSO revenue from the federal government, just in that year. In 2011, $558,000 came from the 2009 stimulus bill for CCSSO’s involvement with one of two networks creating new tests to fit the standards.

 

In 2010, the U.S. DOE granted those two networks $330 million in stimulus funds. This action, more than any other, led conservative supporters of the Common Core to complain of federal interference in education, a constitutionally protected state function.

 

‘Outsourcing a Core State Function’ CCSSO and NGA are member organizations where states pay dues to belong, like the left-vilified American Legislative Exchange Council, said Emmett McGroarty, director of the American Principles Project’s child rights initiative.

 

NGA would not release member dues information to APP, he said. CCSSO did give basic information about membership costs, but not about what specific states paid them.

 

States have historically created education standards in public meetings, with related documents also a matter of public record, Allison noted.

 

“The state is outsourcing a core state function to an outside organization that is then outsourcing to other organizations, and you can’t have the parental and legislator input you normally should,” Allison said. “Education is the future and I do think people have the right to know who is writing the curriculum.”

 

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News

Anissa Wardell and Tami Pyfer’s Email Exchange   1 comment

  A Heber citizen, Anissa Wardell, contacted the Utah State School board to ask whether Utah can still get out of Common Core (and write our own standards, using University input, an option also known as ESEA option #2) –after the waiver deadline of September 6, 2012.

  Rather than answering the question, state school board member Tami Pyfer told her constituent that there was no chance our state would get out of Common Core and then proceeded say that evidence proving that Common Core  was free of federal strings had “been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times.”  This is simply not true.

1.  Most people don’t even know what the term Common Core even means, according to a recent poll by Achieve, Inc.  (Do you?  Does your neighbor?  Do your teachers know– other than knowing there are different standards this year– do they know that the standards are under copyright, can’t be amended, dumb down college readiness to a lowest common denominator that matches vocational/tech schools, and they were never validated by the only math professor and were also rejected by the English professor on the official Common Core validation committee?  Nobody knows these things.  Why? Because the Dept. of Education doesn’t want them to know.  They think that if they say “these standards are good” often enough, they’ll be good.)

2. The one and only public forum put on by the USOE about Common Core was held two years after the state school board signed us up for Common Core.  That forum was at the Granite School District last spring.  The first 45 minute speech, praising Common Core (without any documentation or evidence) was given by the USOE, followed by 2 minute testimonials from impassioned parents and teachers and politicians from both sides of the issue:  hardly fair or thorough or timely.  And nope, evidence was not shared there, to prove federal strings were not attached.  (Incidentally, Professor David Wiley told this exact same lie, just as publically, when he was debating FERPA regulatory changes done illegally by the Dept. of Education this year.)  The bypassing of the public and of legislators in pushing Common Core on us all, is something the proponents of Common Core are willing to lie about. Or do they really not understand?  Have they really not seen the documentation of lost autonomy?

3.  The statement:  “Common Core is federal strings-free” is not true.  The Department of Education is micromanaging the common tests, the testing consortia, and forcing consortia to synchronize their efforts and give the Dept of Education access to data collected thereby.  Evidence:  http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf   Even if we get out of the SBAC, which we might, tomorrow, if the school board votes that way, we are still federally controlled by Common Core.  Look at this definitions page from the Dept. of Education’s website: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions .  It says:   “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.”  So you either have to do common core, or write your own university approved standards.  But the deadline is ending Sept. 6th, so perhaps after that, the only option will be common core.  Wish I livd in Virginia or Texas right now.  They are the only states with educational freedom.  And Utah not only doesn’t have educational freedom anymore, but we collectively don’t even seem to realize it’s gone.

And the Dept. of Education has mandated in the waiver, in the original RTTT application which our Governor and board signed, and in the assessments RTTT that Washington state, our contracted fiscal agent, signed us up for and which we are responsible to obey as long as we are in the SBAC, that we can’t take anything away–nothing– and we can not add anything beyond 15% to the national standards.  How can anyone call this federally string free?  How?  It is an absolute falsehood.

With that introduction, here are the emails:

Dear Governor & Board,

It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core  so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?

Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.

Thanks!

Anissa Wardell

Tami Pyfer [mailto:tami.pyfer@usu.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:26 PM

Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.

Tami Pyfer

Tami,

If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.

While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.

Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.

Thank you,

Anissa

From: Tami Pyfer [mailto:tami.pyfer@usu.edu]

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 5:53 PM

I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.

Tami Pyfer

Tami,

Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.

It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.

Anissa

Opinion Editorial #2: The Common Core Initiative: What’s Hidden Between the Lines? (not yet published)   Leave a comment

The Common Core Initiative:  What’s hidden between the lines?

by Christel Swasey

Ever since I saw Alisa Ellis and Renee Braddy’s “2 Moms Against Common Core,” I’ve barely slept.  My laundry is backed up.  I’m losing weight. All I do is research the Common Core Initiative (CCI).

I talk to teachers.  I read think tanks and pester the U.S.O.E.  I compare the Education Secretary’s public letters to his dense grants and legal agreements.

On Wednesday I joined Alisa and Renee to petition the Governor to study Utah’s loss of control of education under CCI.

We noted that all academic elements of Common Core are in public domain; if we like them, we can keep them.  But CCI membership comes with federal intrusion that robs Utah of sovereign rights, commits Utah to foot the bill, and silences educational freedom.  A collection of evidence is posted at whatiscommoncore.blogspot.com.

How did Utah’s educational freedom get hijacked without a peep out of Utah?  How did CCI slide under the radar of legislators and taxpayers?  Can we turn around this loss of state control over education?  YES–  if people view CCI as more than an academic change. It’s up to us to act.

The State Superintendent won’t act. He sits as board member of three pro-Common Core groups. Two promoted and developed CCI’s federal standards; the other is the test maker.

The State School Board won’t act. That board is so collectively pro-CCI that they’ve devised a way to make sure nobody can get elected who isn’t pro-CCI: a survey for candidates for School Board asks, (first question): “Are You For Common Core?”

The Governor might act.  His lawyers are studying statements from Arne Duncan versus compliance rules written by Duncan  which do conflict.

The burden of proving CCI is an asset rather than a liability to Utah, rests on Utah leaders and lawyers who refuse public debate, dodge phone calls and won’t answer questions such as:

1. Why haven’t teachers been told that everything about CC  was already available under public domain law?  CCI membership doesn’t give us anything but does dilute freedom.

2. Why has no cost analysis or legal analysis been done? A think-tank estimates CCI will cost each state hundreds of millions over the first seven years and will make states’ unique standards irrelevant. CCI violates laws against federal intrusion on states’ educational sovereignty. Why allow it?

3. If CCI is state-led and voluntary as it claims, why did Secretary Duncan rage when South Carolina withdrew? Why has Duncan required that testing arms must coordinate reporting to him and “across consortia”? Why can’t a state withdraw from SBAC without federal permission?

3. Why was no public or legislative input taken? Utah didn’t seek out CCI;  we joined as an afterthought, as a condition for candidacy to win a grant which we didn’t win.

4. Why did Utah agree to standards and assessments that hadn’t even been written in 2009 when we joined?

5. Why stay in? We have wiggle room now to get out; it’s the beginning of implementation.  Later, we’ll be too financially and technologically invested.

6. Why are there two different sets of standards?  The Utah Common Core (UCC) is being taught, while the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be the basis for the SBAC tests in 2014.

7.  Why did Utah take the CCI’s word for the idea that the standards were high enough?  CCSS won’t ready students for average colleges like University of California, said Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman. Stanford Professor Michael Kirst and Validation Committee Member Professor Sandra Stotsky called CCSS standards low.

8. Why did Utah join, when free-thinking states like and Texas and Virginia refused? CCI was cost prohibitive,  lowered some standards, and deleted sovereignty, they said.

9. Why did the National PTA accept a two million dollar “donation” to one-sidedly promote CCI?

10. Why is there no amendment process for the federal  standards upon which kids will be tested? 

11. Why has no one noticed that the SBAC test is as much a nationalized personal data collection vehicle as it is an academic test? 

12. Why is there no transparency? Educators are in a spiral of silence that prevents them from voicing concerns.

Who will stand up and respond with real evidence to these questions?

The lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education asked me to not engage in public debate. She deflected questions rather than answering them.  Isn’t it my right and responsibility to ask questions?  As a lawyer for the Utah State Office of Education, doesn’t she have a duty to answer?

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