Archive for the ‘UEA’ Tag

Common Core’s Role in Hot State School Board Race   4 comments

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Senate President Niederhauser and House Speaker Hughes

The State School Board race has never drawn much attention before. But this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, businesses and even top-tier elected officials are personally campaigning and fundraising for and against certain candidates.

Yesterday’s headline was: “Niederhauser and Hughes ask Business Leaders to Help Defeat UEA-Backed School Board Candidates“.  Yesterday, too, business organizations such as the Utah Technology Council and the School Improvement Association joined Niederhauser and Hughes in a fundraising webinar that promoted a slate of pro-Common Core candidates who happen to be not favored by or funded by national teacher’s unions.

I understand why someone with a conscience would campaign against out-of-state big UEA-NEA money buying Utah’s state board election.  So they should.

But I don’t understand why these groups have chosen to campaign against both the anti-Common Core candidates (in blue) as well as against the UEA-backed candidates (in red) as they showed in this slide at yesterday’s insider fundraising webinar:

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Nor do I understand why our House Speaker and Senate President don’t see the hypocrisy in speaking against big money buying votes (NEA) while both of them are personally funded by big business money (Education First).

But my bigger questions are: how do the Speaker and the Senate President dare to campaign for Common Core candidates, thus going directly against Governor Herbert’s call to end Common Core alignment in Utah?

How do they dare campaign against the resolution of their own Utah Republican Party that called for the repeal of the Common Core Initiative?

Have they forgotten the reasons that their party is strongly opposed to all that the Common Core Initiative entails?

Have they forgotten Governor Herbert’s letter that called for an end to Common Core and SAGE testing just four months ago? (See letter here.)  For all the talk about wanting to move toward local control and to move against the status quo, this seems odd.

Next to the governorship, there aren’t more powerful offices in the state than those held by House Speaker Hughes and Senate President Niederhauser. So what does this powerful endorsement of a certain slate of candidates signify?

First, it signifies what is probably a sincere concern for (partial) local control: In the fundraising webinar held yesterday (by Hughes, Niederhauser, the School Improvement Network and the Utah Technology Council) the following slide was displayed:  Out of $308,512 raised for the political action of the Utah UEA (teacher’s union) $300,000 of it came from out of state.  Hughes and Niederhauser are right in being alarmed at that money’s probable effect on local control.

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(What they didn’t highlight is this: all of the anti-Common Core candidates’ funding, combined, doesn’t come close to what even one of the UEA-funded candidates are spending because none of them are backed by corporate or political powers.)

Secondly, it signifies Utah leadership’s alignment with Obama’s vision for education, which among other things mandates sidelining certain subjects in favor of others. Niederhauser told the Tribune that he didn’t want any board member’s vision to “dominate the board” which, to  him, meant to “supplant business and technology representatives.”  So he wants to make sure that business and technology is at least as dominant as any other interest.   The School Improvement Network is of the same opinion.

We could ask why. Why, specifically, would legislators be endorsing the fields of business and technology over the fields of languages, medicine, history, social work, the arts or any other thing?  And where’s the idealogical division between what NEA wants and what Niederhauser-Hughes want?  Is it fair to speculate that NEA corporate funders are in competition against the Education First corporate funders, and all of this is just an economic struggle pretending to be a struggle for the children’s best interests?  Utah tax dollars are, after all, the passionate pursuit of multiple players in the now $2 Billion per year ed tech sales industry.

Many people know that both Hughes and Niederhauser’s political campaigns are heavily funded by Education First, a Utah political action committee for Prosperity 2020 that puts businesses first.

Not voters first.  Not education –broadly– first; this is education as defined by the ed-tech sales industry and by Obama’s 2020 vision. Read it in their own words.  In an Tribune op-ed taking credit for passing legislation that Education First had lobbied for, you’ll see little focus on funding for paper and pens, school basketballs, violins, gluesticks, old-fashioned books, or heaven forbid, large teachers’ salaries– no, ed funding to Education First means to fund the priorities that precisely (coincidentally?) match Obama’s 2020 vision:  early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), workforce development (China-styled central planning) “community schools” (Obama’s vision to integrate healthcare with academics and with socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”) and standardized personalized learning (an oxymoron that cements Common Core academics and its data tags).

Don’t mistake this as a fight between tech lovers and tech haters.  None of the candidates for state school board are anti-technology, though the smart ones are pushing for improved laws governing student privacy in this modern age.

So what are Hughes and Niederhauser really saying when they say they’re for the pro-tech candidates?  What does that really mean?  That Utahns should sit back and let the ed tech sales industry, or businesses, sit in the driver’s seat for educational decision-making?  That’s the stated aim of Education First (in Utah) and of Obama’s 2020 (nationally) and, according to his Tribune quote above, it’s also the aim of President Niederhauser.

Education First doggedly, directly, lobbies citizens, governments, and school districts, to strong-arm their narrow vision, that businesses should “help” direct education.  They refer to my child and yours as the economy’s.  They call children “human capital” on their website.  This is, when ripe, the 1992 Hillary-Tucker dream coming true, with the collective economy dictating to the individual on the assembly line.

Education First wants a high “concentration of science and engineering occupations” in Utah, which you may or may not agree with; what I hope you do agree with is that this new, business – public ed partnershipping governance system, with business being handed power to influence schooling, when taken to the extreme, is fascism.  In fascism, there’s no distinction between government and business.  And the voter has no say.

Do we want to walk down that slippery slope?  Do we want the Education First business community to be given power in schools?

Whether promoting science and engineering at the expense of other subject and careers is the will of the people, or not, really doesn’t come in to the discussion. Prosperity 2020 has said that businesses will “provide a business oriented plan to improve results” for schools.

If Hughes or Niederhauser would respond to my emails to them, I would ask them this:  how is it any more helpful toward Constitutional local control–  if that is what you really want– to let businesses take over the driver’s seat for educators, as your financial backers aim to do, than for out of state (NEA) funding to call the same shots?  Either way, students and schools and voters lose personal freedoms to self-appointed experts who think they know best.

So when Niederhauser worries that “big money groups effectively buy the election,” he is right.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring in to NEA-UEA approved candidates’ purses should raise eyebrows.  But shouldn’t the same eyebrows rise too, seeing in-state big money groups like Education First and Prosperity 2020 now, as in the past, funding the pro-Common Core candidates –and funding Hughes and Niederhauser themselves– effectively buying the election in the very same way?

Meanwhile, none of the liberty-first, anti-Common Core candidates,  Alisa Ellis, Lisa Cummins, Michelle Boulter or Dr. Gary Thompson, are richly funded.   All they really have to stand on is true principles of liberty –and word of mouth.

Many voters know that Common Core is anti-local control.  The Governor almost lost in the primary to anti-Common Core challenger Jonathan Johnson because of this.  The Governor was repeatedly booed at political conventions this year because he had been such a promoter of the Common Core, prior to his turnaround.  What will the governor say about Niederhauser’s and Hughes’ current effort?  More importantly, what will voters say?

Dr. Gary Thompson, a district 10 candidate for state school board, said today:

“I was pleased the that the Speaker of the House and Senator Neiderhauser identified who the “anti common core” education candidates are in this election. I was pleased to be labeled as one of them. This provides a clear choice for members in the community to chose from as they please.  Comments made by the Speaker in regards to the UEA did not receive a prior endorsement by this campaign.  I look forward to having a professional, cordial discussion with my UEA endorsed opponent on September 28th regarding education issues that will affect our children in District 10″

For anyone wanting to watch the debates between state school board candidates, please check that schedule here. 

online-debate-schedule-1

Pictured below are the candidates for state school board that I endorse, whom the UEA, NEA, UTC, SIN, Senate President and House Speaker do not:

For true local control of education:

Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter, Lisa Cummins, Dr. Gary Thompson.

alisa vote

boulter

lisa cummins

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Dear Utah Educators Association: From Renee Braddy   1 comment

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Renee Braddy, a Utah mother and a former elementary school teacher, has given permission to post this letter which she sent to the Utah Educator’s Association office.

As of this posting, she has still not heard back from the UEA.

  Thank you, Renee.

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To Whom it Concerns:

I am writing to you first and foremost as a parent and second as a former public school teacher in Utah.   I faithfully belonged to and supported the UEA the entire time I taught..  Today, I was sent an email from a friend. [Read it here.]   The letter was from the UEA and it was a request for its members to voice their support for the Common Core because of concerns being voiced by a “small vocal minority”. 

I would likely fit into that category.  It seems this emailwas an attempt to label, marginalize, and thus dismiss those who have voiced concerns or opposition.  I feel that my concerns, both as a parent and educator, are valid and are based on legal documents and lengthy research.  I am writing in hopes of working together. 

My experience has been that the large majority of citizens (including parents, teachers and administrators) are unaware of the big picture that comes with the adoption of the Common Core agenda.  It is so much more than a set of standards.  So, I would say that my experience has been that a large majority are silent on their like or dislike for Common Core.  Silence is not acceptance; it is most likely ignorance. 

I believe that as American citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to voice our opinions and to have questions answered and concerns addressed.    Unfortunately, this opportunity never happened with Utah’s adoption of common core.  Due process didn’t occur and the parents and teachers feel like a trust was violated.

I believe that Utah has some of the finest educators in the nation and my hope is to return educational decisions to the hands of parents, teachers and local administrators.   I don’t think the shift began with Common Core, but it is the current reform and parents and teachers aren’t happy now. The issues need to be addressed, not dismissed. 

Teachers have been told that “it will not bode well professionally to speak against Common Core.”   They have told me that they have been sent a clear message that they should not talk about their concerns –and definitely not while at school.  Local school board members are also being told to not speak out, and that they need to support the state board.

I am happy to meet and listen to your concerns and attempt to work together for a solution that is right for our state. 

Please let me know when is most convenient.

Renee Braddy

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While we wait patiently together to see if the UEA has the inclination to respond to Renee, I have a few thoughts.   I happen to be waiting patiently, too, for a response to my letter to Governor Herbert (see below).   But visiting or writing letters to any member of  the education establishment results in either: a)  silence or: b)  a ridiculous pat on the head.   Anyone who’s tried, knows.
This happens over and over and over– not only at the Utah state level, but also at the local school board level, and at the federal (unconstitutional) Department of Education level.
It does not stop us from writing, calling, and going to as many of their meetings as we can stomach.
I believe in the squeaky wheel theory, and I believe in Jesus’ parable about the woman and the unrighteous judge from Luke 18.  If everyone who wanted Common Core to go away would call, write, and pray repeatedly, weekly, persistently, patiently, unceasingly Common Core could not stand.  No legs.
Why not?  Because Common Core has no legs –except expensive marketing networks and lies– to stand on.  It has countless millions of dollars gambled on this takeover of American schools as a “uniform customer base” and more millions spent on marketing its unsupportable talking points.
And that is the simple,  incredible truth.  No legs.
It has no academic pilot testing, no written amendment process for states to retain local control, no privacy protections for its tests’ data collection processes, no actual international benchmarking, no chance of improving “global competitiveness,” no heart, no wisdom, no love for classical education,  no state-led history,  no hope of developing a real love of learning; no common sense.

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Remember the parable of Jesus from Luke 18:   There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.   And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
There are people at the State Office of Education and at the State School Board who likewise “fear not God, nor regard man” yet because we trouble them, they may choose to “avenge” our cause, since by our “continual coming” we weary them.  And weary them we must because as a state, we are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence.
Spiral of silence is the name of a well-studied communications theory by Dr. Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, a phenomenon which happens when people fear separation or isolation (or job loss or even death) but perceiving or believing that they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
Spiral of Silence theory arose as an explanation for why so many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s.  Parents, teachers and legislators who do not know enough about Common Core and the Common Data Standards, and who are told to “support” them, do not feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them.  The pressure is even more intense for state school board members and the UEA, which explains, in part, the repeated official stonewalling that we experience and the relatively low number of teachers and education officials who fight against the whole suffocating Common Core and Common Data Standards agenda.
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But I will admit that I laughed out loud when I saw the “official” silencing response sent to me by a clerk from the governor’s office, in response to my letter last week to our governor.  I would have received the same email had I sent the governor my favorite potato salad recipe.
Following my letter to the governor, I received this from constituentservices@utah.gov:

July 9, 2014

Dear Christel:

Thank you for your email to the Office of the Governor regarding Education (Common Core). I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Governor.

Our office appreciates hearing from constituents and your comments and opinion regarding this issue have been noted.

Thank you for taking time to contact us regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Tiffany Clason
Constituent Services

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I wrote back.
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Tiffany,

That was not a response to my letter.  Please contact your supervisor..  I feel that an honest and important letter deserves and honest and important response.
Thank you.

Christel
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Constituent services wrote back:
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Christel, 

Thank you for your follow up email. I regret that my response was not satisfactory. We receive hundreds of email, letters, and calls daily and aim to make sure every constituent gets confirmation that their correspondence was received and that their opinion is taken under consideration.
Common Core is a very important issue and the Governor is paying close attention to the feedback, opinions, and concerns he is receiving from constituents all over the state. Having said that, our office is appreciative of the initiative you took to thoughtfully email us with your experience related to Common Core and your concerns for the Common Education Data Standards.
Kind Regards,
Tiffany Clason
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I wrote back.
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Tiffany,

While I appreciate the fact that you are responding, I still request a substantive response from someone at the Governors’ office.  Noting that the Governor “is paying close attention” is not a response to the issues I raised but merely an acknowledgement that I wrote at all.
Please, forward my email, and the other emails you have been receiving, to those in office who are responsible to the people for these decisions.  Perhaps the lieutenant governor has more time to answer specifics than the governor?
Constituents deserve real answers, not pats on the head and thank yous for simply writing at all.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
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I  am patiently waiting to see if anyone at the Governor’s office or anyone who I copied the letter to at the office of education has the time to respond with substance.
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Meanwhile, I sent a form of the same letter to the Daily Herald.    My state school board representative, Dixie Allen, decided to respond.  Dixie Allen’s response at the Daily Herald did not address my concerns although it was long.  It said that she was one those responsible for bringing Common Core to Utah, and she defended that decision.   I remain unanswered, by deafening silence by both the Governor’s office and my state school board representative, on these issues:
  • 1) Why are parents denied the right to opt children out of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS)  which tracks them almost for their entire lives without parental consent?
  • 2)  Why has there been no freedom of conscience, no open debate among educators when it comes to Common Core?
  • 3) How can we maintain the reins of local control of education when we are attached like siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control Common Core?
  • 4)  Why doesn’t Utah have her own standards, instead of copyrighted standards coming out of unelected D.C. groups?
  • 5) Why has Utah agreed to Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) which align our private data with federal data standards?
  • 6) Why doesn’t Utah look to the example of South Carolina’s and Oklahoma’s governors, who have decried the Common Education Agenda, and get Utah out of it, as those states have so wisely, so importantly, done?
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Please make some time and join me and other teachers and parents this Thursday in Salt Lake City as we simply show up to show that we are aware of what is going on in education today.  We will attend the open state school board meeting.  Some of us will speak at the 2 minute public comment segment.  Most of us won’t say a word.  Please, just show up.  That day, they are to decide whether or not to renew the federal NCLB waiver which Utah received in part as a reward for agreeing to do Common Core instead of NCLB.
If you can’t be there, please DO SOMETHING ELSE.  There is so much we can do.   Here is the Utah State School Board’s address: board@schools.utah.gov.  We can write or call the board, the newspapers and t.v. stations. We can politely and persistently pester our governor: 801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464 (Utah’s Governor Herbert’s number). We can politely and persistently pester the principals and state and local school board members, who are supposed to REPRESENT US, not Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, or Sir Michael Barber of Pearson Ed.  (If you want to get 2 minutes to testify about these things any month, at the monthly state school board meeting, contact secretary Lorraine at: Lorrain.Austin@schools.utah.gov)

Dear Governor Herbert   4 comments

 

 

The Utah Education Association sent out an email yesterday.  I’m posting it at the bottom (scroll down.)

It’s sad evidence of the loss of open debate and the loss of freedom of conscience that the UEA pretends all educators agree with its pro-Common Core agenda.

I’m a Utah credentialed teacher and I sure don’t agree.

Please help counteract their mass email request by writing to Governor Herbert (and cc it to legislators, newspapers and school boards). If you want to share, feel free to post your letter here in the comments section as well.

 

Governor Herbert is surely tired of people like you and me by now.  We’ve been speaking with him and writing to him for well over two years, pleading with him to free us from the Common Core agenda and to restore local control of education and of student data privacy.

Still, he needs to hear from us again.  The UEA’s action bulletin is recruiting pro-Common Core emails to hang on to Common Core in Utah.  The UEA asked readers to forward the email to those who care about public education.  — Hey, that is you and me!

Below is the letter that I sent.  If you write, please use this instead of the non-functioning email address the UEA gave out:  http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html.  You may also send a copy to all members of the state school board at board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Dear Governor Herbert,

Please restore local control of education in our state by rejecting Common Core aligned testing and standards in Utah.  We deserve to maintain the reins of control here, and this cannot happen when we are attached like Siamese twins to the will of the D.C. groups that control the tests, data collection network, and education standards: Achieve Inc., CCSSO, NGA and the federal Department of Education.
Utah needs her own, not-D.C.-copyright-protected, education standards so that we can ensure that we will always be teaching our students according to the values of the conscience of Utah parents and teachers, unencumbered by influences or pressures from the D.C. groups that control the Common Core agenda.
The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) that align with the Common Core standards further control our citizenry by reducing the privacy of Utah students and families.  This is an issue connected to the repeal of Common Core Standards that must not be ignored.  Our federally paid for State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) will continue to inform federal agencies about our local schools unless we put an end to CEDS involvement, or scrap the SLDS system completely.  At the very least, parents in Utah ought to have the right to opt out of having a child tracked from preschool through workforce by the SLDS system.
Please, Governor, pay attention to these things.  It is difficult to imagine any other issue being a more important use of your time.  Utahns are watching what you will do, as we see governors in other states such as Oklahoma and South Carolina taking steps to restore liberty in education. Please follow their lead.
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
Utah Credentialed Teacher
Heber City
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Here is a condensed version of the UEA email that was sent out yesterday statewide:
DEAR UEA MEMBER:…There is overwhelming consensus among educators that the Core Standards will ultimately be good for students and education, if implemented properly. There are significant challenges associated with implementing the Core, but the possibilities are immense.Utah has invested years of work and millions of dollars into creating its standards. There is concern that reversing course on Utah’s Core Standards now would mean starting the process all over again.• See more about the Utah Core Standards

What you can do:
Contact the Governor and your legislators NOW and share your opinion about the Utah Core Standards.

• Call or email your legislator* (House / Senate)
Look up your legislators
• Call or email Governor Gary Herbert:
o Tel: 800-705-2464
o Email: governor@utah.gov
 *NOTE: Do not use school computers or email addresses

…Sincerely,

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President

For more information about the Core Standards:
• myUEA.org/core
• schools.utah.gov/core
• nea.org/home/commoncore
• achievethecore.org
• corestandards.org

P.S. Please forward this message to co-workers, friends, family and anyone who supports Utah public education.

875 E Pontiac Dr.   Murray, UT 84107-5299   Phone: 801-266-4461
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It is ironic that the UEA warns its members: “Do not use school computers or email addresses.”  The UEA knows that it is wrong to use school resources and tax dollars to influence political decisions, yet its email does that very thing.
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