Archive for the ‘USSB’ Tag

Utah State School Board to Vote on Science: Effects on Local Control, Academic Freedom   3 comments

poli science

In case there were not enough fires to put out for those who value academic freedom and local control of education, this week there’s another situation for Utah patriots to address that’s as important to me as the huge ESEA debacle.

This week, the Utah State School Board will vote to pass or not to pass (but by all indications, they will pass) a disaster akin to the day they adopted the Common Core and the day they accepted the student stalking database known as State Longitudinal Database System.  It’s called an update to Utah’s Science Standards, but it’s truly the same as the Next Generation Science Standards (which are the common core for science because NGSS standards, like Common Core, are federally approved, federal-test aligned, and are controlled by a little elite group far away who will centrally manage its “truth” without representation from us.)  And some “expert” Utahns think they’re dandy.

You are invited to the public meeting.  Here are details: http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda.aspx

Sadly, the Utah State Office of Education created a stifling, manipulative “public comment” survey which many called into question (and asked for an audit) — but that survey’s results have not even been given to the Board, according to one board member.  That survey’s problems (and the attitude of USOE in general) included these:

  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are IDENTICAL to the NGSS common, national standards.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the fact that these standards are exactly ALIGNED with federally-approved standardized testing.  (This is probably why USOE pushed these narrowed standards so hard; federal cash follows federally-aligned standards for embedded CEDStags.)
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to the politically slanted nature of a new, extreme interest in environmentalism, materialism, and “climate change”; the survey pretends that the science standards are only about science.
  • Nowhere did the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.

schoolkids

If you truly want input, you will have to contact the Board members one by one.  (The USOE, too.)

Vince Newmeyer, who has been valiantly opposing Utah’s move toward NGSS, has composed a letter to the board, one that he hoped could serve as a template for others’ letters.  Here it is.

 

October 2015 Science Draft

Letter to the Utah State Board of Education

Dear State School Board Member,

Please reject the “SEEd” standards proposed in October 2015. These standards are obsessively focused on environmental and socialissues 1 and neglect many aspects of important science. These standards also do not explore evolution in light of the latest data available but continue promoting some evolution theories that have been discredited years ago.2 Furthermore, USOE has finally admitted that these standards are based3 on the Next Generation Science Standards, the science complement to the Common Core State Standards 4. In fact, there is only one NGSS standard not represented in this October draft 5. Our April “SEEd” draft of standards was a word-for-word 6copy of the NGSS contrary to the USOE’s repeated but false assertions 7. USOE officials have also made multiple public statements8 thatUtah would not adopt national standards beyond Common Core, yet that is essentially what they are doing.

A report that was presented at the conclusion of the 90 day public review of the April 2015 draft. Though a number of aspects were reported on by the USOE, one part of the public input was conspicuously missing. Emails from the public were not reported on by USOE.9The fact that emails were received was mentioned but no measure was given as to the overall public sentiment. Now at the conclusion of the October draft we see no report at all made available to the public that indicates what the results were on the 30 day public review of the October draft. Where is the USOE accountability to the public in this process?

It is argued by some, even some professors of our Utah campuses, that there is a consensus in science; that Global Warming 10 is primarily man caused and Darwinian Evolution (the concept that you, a fish, and a turnip are all distant cousins, separated only by time and chance chemical reactions) are essentially scientific fact11. As such they claim that man caused Global Warming and Darwinian evolution should be taught in our public schools without considering scientific evidence that speaks against such notions.12 It is alleged that true scientist don’t doubt Darwin but such assertions are not supported by the data.13 Science, they say, is reserved for that which is demonstrated 14 and not for teaching beliefs, yet we find that Utah university and public school science classrooms and are filled with the teachings of belief. These proposed standards invite much more, the turning of the science classroom into a mechanism to manipulate future societal thoughts and behaviors.15

None-the-less, here in Utah we like to think that our Utah science teachers and professors only teach actual science. Unfounded myths or beliefs about, for example, our origins, are reserved for places of faith. But even now, such is not the case.16 Also, studies have shown overwhelming support that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.” According to polls, 80% of likely voters are in support of such education.17

Furthermore, even with the recent “clarifications” added to the October “SEEd” draft18, the clarity is no where near the clarity of the existing standards19. This is abundantly clear to those who have taken the time to read the proposed draft and then compare it to the current standards. Yes, modeling, etc. are useful learning tools and good teachers already to do that, and other teachers can be taught about such skills.

Another point: the slight20 positive adjustments that have been made to these standards from the Utah April 2015 word-for-word copy of the NGSS performance standards, will be essentially lost as school districts and teachers select textbooks, sample lesson plans, etc, from the array of “NGSS compatible materials” bringing our classroom education right in line with the materialistic perspective of the NGSS.

You sit on the Board of Education to represent us, the Parents of Utah, and not the elitist educational thinking that is politically popular today.

Again, please reject these standards.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizens of Utah
Visit http://www.sciencefreedom.org/articles.html for access to resources and research that will help one understand the details and issues related to these proposed standards.

The survey conducted by the USOE on the October 2015 draft, did not give one an opportunity to express an overall thumbs down to reject the whole of the proposal. What they are saying is that you are going to get this NGSS based set of standards regardless of if you like it or not, although they will allow you to provide input for possible minor modifications.

Action Item: To show our discontent we should now make comments to Board members and the State Superintendent as input to these people should be available as the vote on the standards will not be held until the 5th of December (see below for contact info)

Contacts:

The entire Utah State Board of Education Members may be reached via

board@schools.utah.gov

Individual Board Member and Contact info is here
http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-member-bios

You can find your specific school board representative
here http://elections.utah.gov/map/district-maps

Brad C. Smith
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Utah State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
P.O. Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT  84114-4200

Curriculum & Instruction
Phone: (801) 538-7698

Ricky Scott
State Science Specialist
Phone: (801) 538-7808
richard.scott@school.utah.gov

David Smith
Coordinator
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM), Elementary Math (K-6)
Phone: (801) 538-7766
david.smith@schools.utah.gov

1The largest portion of the 6th grade standards are devoted to environmental issues. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html and also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

2See standard discussion of 7.5.4 at http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html see also Professor Spicer TEDx talk on the theory of recapitulation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzJP7QKUQ3U

3This admission from USOE was found on page 7 of the front material given to board members to introduce the October draft of the science standards. This is also documented in the footnote on the introductory page of each of the grade levels on the October draft of the standards. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org

4See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???” http://www.sciencefreedom.org/NGSS-is-Common-Core-Science.html

5NGSS standard not represented in the October draft is MS-LS1-8. See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html for details.

6See http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

7See Utah Science Standards Review Meeting – May 19, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s

8See Utah’s Deceptive Science Standards Adoption https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQGN31POb_Y

9See http://sciencefreedom.org/USOE-Report-Reviewed.html

10Anthropomorphic or man caused global warming is questioned. Data and techniques use by researchers are challenged see JohnColeman challenges the science in new global warming study https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3LS4BVSA0 see also GLOBAL WARMING TEST http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/start.html

11Example: Professor Tolman in the Science Standards Parent Review Committee stated that “Evolution theory is just as solidly supported by data as gravitational theory or relativity theory.” email in authors position.

12There are far too many resources which powerfully tend to falsify the Darwinian paradigm. Here are a few to start with: The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution http://www.discovery.org/a/24041 and Respected Cornell geneticist rejects Darwinism http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/respected-cornell-geneticist-rejects-darwinism-in-his-recent-book/

13Educated Intelligent People Don’t Doubt Darwin Right? http://sciencefreedom.org/educated-intelligent-eople-dont-doubt-darwin.html

14The Faith that is Taught in Our Public Schools and Universities http://sciencefreedom.org/faith-taught-in-our-public-schools.html

15Not only is the unquestioned faith of materialism taught in our public schools, but with these proposed standards, based on the NGSS, there is a wide adoption of politicized content in environmentalism in addition to the evolutionary doctrine. The best examples is NGSS itself. One instance is: http://nextgenscience.org/ms-ess3-5-earth-and-human-activity . Though some will claim that a radical environmentalist temperament has been removed, really it still exist. More to the point, though there has been some minor relief in this area, the FULL NGSS will again be enthroned in our science classrooms as district curriculum specialist and teachers adopt or incorporate sample lesson plans and support material that are NGSS compliant.

16The Faith Taught in our Public Schools http://sciencefreedom.org/faith-taught-in-our-public-schools.html

17Zogby Poll: 80% of likely voters agree that “teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory” http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/02/poll_shatters_stereotypes_with016931.html

18October “SEEd” draft can be found here for grades 6-8 http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx

19Existing standards can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Core/Grade36.aspx and http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Core/Grade78.aspx

20List of changes to October draft http://sciencefreedom.org/short-summary-of-changes-april-october-2015-utah-seed.html

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

Vince Newmeyer suggests viewing the following videos to further understand the NGSS – Utah Science alteration situation.

 

  1. “Do Human Embryos Have Gills and Does it Matter?”

2.   News Report on Global Warming Not Being True Science

3.   Utah Board Minutes on Science Standards Adoption

4.  Public Comment Meeting on the Utah Adopting NGSS-Aligned Standards  (2015)

 

Tucker, a Top Ten Scariest Ed Reformer, to Lecture at Legislator-USOE Conference   11 comments

 

I’m surely sprouting new gray hairs at 80 miles per hour.

If there was doubt about whether something was truly rotten in the state of education governance here in sweet, naiive Utah, this news should end that doubt: of all the possible gurus, this is who our legislators, USOE and state school board have invited as the out-of-town centerpiece for a joint education conference taking place this Wednesday and Thursday.

tucker

 

Marc Tucker.

You may recall that he’s on the Top Ten List of Scariest People in Education Reform.

He’s the espouser of no more Algebra II in our high schools, the dismisser of classic literature as not so relevant, a disciple of federal power, a conspirator with Hillary Clinton for cradle-to-grave student-citizen micromanagement, and the top crusader against what he calls “the beloved American emblem: local control” –he’s the one.

The  conference is for Utah’s State Board of Education, State Office of Education, and legislators, but it’s open to the public and will be streamed.

If you can attend, it’s  on September 2 and 3, at Gilbert Great Hall, R. Haze Hunter Conference Center, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah.

 

banner-hunterconferencecenter

 

If you don’t know who Marc Tucker is, learn a little bit more.

Marc Tucker is– unbelievable as it may seem– an open advocate for the complete deletion of local control.   You read it right. This is a direct quote  from Tucker:

 The United States will have to largely  abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control. If the goal is  to greatly increase the capacity and authority of the state education agencies,  much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local  control.

Marc Tucker also despises what is –or was– real education, in favor of the robotic efficiency  of cradle-to-grave federal micromanagement of systems.  He wrote the unbelievable NCEE report that advocates for the removal of Algebra II –and any math beyond it from high schools, that also labeled classic literature and student personal writing “less relevant” and dismissable.  If this sounds like impossible, deliberate dumbing down, you have not read Tucker’s reasoning, which envisions a socialist’s factory view of school: a place to create economy-centered worker bees, to generate a collective; not a place to “waste” resources for soaring and free thinkers.  He’s all about efficiency at the expense of individual freedom.

Marc Tucker’s BFF relationship with the creepiest lady in D.C., Hillary Clinton,  is notable.  It is a decades-long collaboration that, back in the 90s, envisioned US education with all federal control rather than any local control. That collaboration was recorded in the Congressional public record.  Tucker and Clinton outlined the entire Common Core/Common Data movement, but used different terminology.  Read that in full sometime.

Marc Tucker’s shameful, anti-freedom philosophies have been repeatedly, successfully put to pasture by great thinkers and scholars– for example, very clearly, by Dr. Yong Zhao.  Dr. Zhao should have been invited to advise Utah this week, not Tucker!

If you want to know more, I’ve written many articles about Marc Tucker.  He’s bad news.  Read my archive on Tucker at this link.

I really can’t believe he’s coming.

What are your thoughts?  Is this okay?

haze

–If he were invited to the university for a two-sided debate, fine!

–If his visit was a University lecture, some attempt by the dean to expose students to radical ideas from extreme ends of a spectrum, fine!

But this is not a university lecture.

It’s a joint legislative – school board – USOE meeting, which just happens to be taking place at SUU.  It could have been at any venue.

No one is slated to debate him.

Marc “end-local-control” Tucker is the only out of town speaker coming to this conference to address the Utah legislature and the Utah State Office and School Board.  He was hand selected for the at-taxpayer-expense conference –as someone to look to for advice.

That decision says more about the state of education politics in Utah than anything more I could write tonight.

tuc

 

 

 

Reject Biased NGSS Science Standards May 6 in Provo   3 comments

The Vernal and St. George science standards meetings have passed, but you can still attend the Provo, North Logan, and Salt Lake City meetings.  The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) has set them up for parents and teachers to give input or to question the adoption of common, national standards for science for Utah.

Here are the remaining dates and addresses.  Please come!  You don’t have to be a scientist.  You just have to care about defending principles of academic honesty, academic freedom, and preserving our students’ right to debate and discover truth, unfettered to a politically slanted set of science standards.

Wednesday, May 6
Provo School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
280 West 940 North
Provo, Utah 84604

Wednesday, May 13
Cache County School District Office
Location: Professional Development Center
2063 North 1200 East
North Logan, Utah 84341

Tuesday, May 19
Salt Lake Center for Science Education (SLCSE)
Location: The Media Center
1400 Goodwin Avenue
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

For a long time, the USOE was pretending that the revisions of Utah’s science standards were not the national, common science standards, (Next-Generation Science Standards or NGSS) and were saying that these new standards were just a revision.  Now USOE admits this is actually NGSS, which is created by the same businessmen (at Achieve, Inc.) that wrote Common Core standards for English and math.  USOE is defending the upcoming adoption, a facade-dropping that might have something to do with the fact that at least two parents who served on the committee to review Utah’s science standards, Alisa Ellis and Vincent Newberg, have spoken out and have exposed Utah’s adoption of NGSS.

This week, Alisa Ellis posted the following chart, showing that Utah’s “new, revised” science core is the exact same thing as the NGSS standards, word for word, but with renumbering.  Vincent has pointed out that the NGSS standards are extremely biased and politically slanted, with “climate change” being presented over fifty times while electricity is mentioned once; with Darwinism presented as if it were settled science while life sciences like in-depth cell structure study, the human respiratory system, and other basic biology concepts being pushed aside in favor of the politicized environmental agenda.

If nobody shows up, speaks up, or posts comments at the USOE’s public comment site (only good for 90 days) then they’ll push forward with this agenda.  Please show up and speak up.

After you leave your comments at the USOE’s survey monkey, please copy and paste your comments into an email for the local and state school boards.   State email:  Board@schools.utah.gov 

ngss 1ngss 2

Alisa  Ellis also gave me permission to post her letter here, which went to the state school board.  I appreciate her insistence that Mr. Scott, the USOE and the State Board cease censoring public comment.  This censorship of the public happened when the public was asked to give comment about the English and math common standards by the Governor last year (two and a half years after Utah had adopted Common Core).

Only standards-specific comments were admitted!  This ridiculous censoring practice pretends there are no problems with national standards outside their content.  But there are two huge prongs to the pitchfork:  content, and control.  Trying to limit public comment to content-only issues just ignores the big problem of loss of local control and academic liberty.

 

Letter from Alisa Ellis:

 

State Board Members,

 

I’m writing to encourage you all to attend one of the 4 remaining science meetings that are being held around the state.  I was very disappointed to hear that not one elected official was at the meeting in St. George last week.  After one mom in attendance wrote to her local school board expressing her disappointment that they weren’t in attendance, a board member told her that they had no idea the meeting was taking place.  This is the same story we’re finding across the state.  

While it is your job to set the standards, the local boards will have to implement them.  Notice should be sent to each local board in the state inviting them to these meetings.  I already covered Uintah, Daggett and Duchesne for you.  

After enduring years of pushback by citizens that are in-part frustrated by the lack of discussion with parents prior to adoption of Common Core, I expected to see these meetings advertised far and wide to get as many people there as possible.  Each district has systems capable of calling or email every parent in the district.  Why aren’t these systems being utilized?  I sit in disbelief that I, a parent, have to ask friends to help me advertise, email local boards, get on the radio, etc to draw attendance to these meetings.  It’s unbelievable.  Please stop doing the bare minimum in advertising these events.  It doesn’t have to cost money to get the word out.

It is also reprehensible the first meeting was only announced 2 days before.  

According to the UT constitution it is the board’s job not the staff of the USOE to set standards.  That means the responsibility lies on your heads.  I’m tired of the the staff being the ones that shield the elected officials from those that elect them.  By not attending these meetings and only listening to Ricky Scott’s report, you will be getting a sanitized/ censored version of public feedback. 

Mr. Scott informed attendees that he would only be taking specific criticism and when given specific feedback he didn’t agree with, the citizens felt ignored.  I understand the desire by the staff to keep the discussion focused on specific problems with the standards, but that is not the only complaint the public has.  As elected officials you don’t get to tell us what we’re allowed to be concerned about.  While important, it leaves no room for philosophical complaints.  For instance, I see many, many problems with the specific standards but I also 100% do not agree with using a national standard, whether federal or private industry; it is not in line with my vision of education.  Children should not be standardized.

 Please take some initiative and stop the censoring of comments, unless they disparage individuals by name, or use foul language, etc.

 Alisa Ellis

 

————————————-

 

Fordham Institute rated Utah’s science standards as being higher than the NGSS.  So why is the USOE pushing so hard to adopt NGSS?

The biggest and ugliest answer may be that although Utah’s SAGE test, written by American Institutes for Research, already aligns to common core math and English, it doesn’t align with common science standards yet.  Since Utah’s  AIR/SAGE test is not (for science) yet aligned to the federally synchronized SBAC and PARCC tests, student scores cannot be understood by the overlords in their federal, common Edfacts Data Exchange lens.   So the feds are most likely pressuring the USOE to align.

The question is, will parents and teachers just be too busy; will they just roll over; will they let someone else worry about it?  Or will they stand up and say no?

Once lost, these freedoms don’t come back.

 

This video documents the deception history of the USOE and its false promises to legislators to NOT adopt nationalized science standards:

 

Alpine School Board Members Speak Out For Student Privacy   5 comments

Alpine-Board-10x8-1024x819

 

Three remarkable Alpine School Board Members: Wendy Hart (front left) Brian Halladay (standing, middle)  and Paula Hill (front, right) have written an open letter on student privacy, citing documented realities (contracts, documents and laws) that boldly stand for student privacy and parental rights, against Common Core SAGE/AIR testing.  The letter stands tall against statements from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park and the Utah State Office of Education that claim all is well with student privacy in Utah schools.

Hats off to Hart, Halladay and Hill for speaking up despite pressure to go along in silence with the decisions or positions held at the state level.

Before I post the letter, here’s a little background:

Before Common Core testing even began, Utah officially dropped out of SBAC (a federally funded Common Core test maker) but then immediately picked up, as a replacement, test maker  AIR  (American Institutes for Research– also  federally approved, but not federally funded; Common Core-aligned; a test maker that specializes in psychometrics and behavioral testing,  prioritizes promoting the LGTB philosophy –and is officially partnered with SBAC!)  Many Utah parents are opting their children out of these tests, and state level officials are desperately trying to persuade the population that there’s no reason to opt out.

Statements promoting and approving AIR and SAGE, by Assistant Superintendent Judy Park, have been rebutted and even publically debated before– but this new letter stands very, very  tall, shedding much more light on the student privacy dangers of SAGE/AIR and highlighting the lack of Utah laws that protect an individuals’ ownership over his/her own data.

 

Here’s the letter:

 

September 18, 2014

 

Dr. Judy Park

Utah State Office of Education

Dear Dr. Park,

 

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues with AIR and SAGE testing.  We especially appreciate your citations of the contract.  In the interest of openness and transparency, we have a point of clarification, as well as some follow-up questions.

To begin, a point of clarification.  Your letter is directed to Superintendent Henshaw who communicated some of our concerns about SAGE and AIR to you.  In your letter, you indicate that “False, undocumented and baseless allegations need to cease.”  We wish to clarify that the concerns expressed by Dr. Henshaw were not coming from him, and, as such, your directive would not be to him but to those of us on the board and our constituents who are raising questions, based on our reading of the AIR contract with USOE.  Because Dr. Henshaw reports to the Alpine School Board and not the other way around, any directive for Dr. Henshaw to rein in these ‘allegations’ from board members or constituents would be inappropriate.  We can appreciate that you are troubled by this, but we would recommend that more information and more discussion would be a preferable way of resolving concerns, as opposed to suggesting that concerned representatives and their consitutents simply remain silent.

So, in that spirit of openness, we have the following clarifications and follow-up questions.

We begin by addressing the sections of the AIR contract cited in your letter of August 14.  It was very much appreciated because these are the same sections of the contract that we have studied.  We were hopeful that there would be additional insight.  Unfortunately, we did not find any assurance in the pages listed.

I-96 – I-98:  This section nicely addresses the physical, network, and software security for the server and test items.  However, the only reference to AIR employees, their ability to access or use any data is left to “Utah’s public records laws, FERPA, and other federal laws.”  FERPA, as many know, has been modified by the US Dept of Education to allow for the sharing of data without parental knowledge or consent as long as it can be justified as an ‘educational program’. Additionally, FERPA only contains penalties for those entities receiving federal funds.  Since Utah is paying directly for SAGE testing, FERPA is a meaningless law in this regard.  Additionally, Utah’s public records laws appear to only address the openness of public records, but are insufficient when it comes to privacy or use of data, including that of a minor.  If there are robust privacy laws in Utah’s public records laws, we would appreciate additional citations.  Please cite the other federal laws that protect the privacy of our students.

I-61:  Addresses the technical protocols for the data transfer, as well as encryption of passwords.  Again, this doesn’t address those who are given access by AIR to the data for whatever purpose.

I-72 – I-73:  Addresses the security of those contractors who will be manually scoring during the pilot testing.  This addresses a particular third-party in a particular role, but not AIR as an entity or its employees, other than this particular instance.

I-85 – I-86:  Addresses the issues of users and roles for the database and USOE updates.  This limits the appropriate access to those of us in Utah, based on whether we are teachers, principals, board members, USOE, etc.  Again, this does not address anything about AIR as an entity or its employees.

While all these security precautions are necessary, and we are grateful they are included, they do nothing to address the particular issues that were raised at the August 12, 2014 Alpine School Board Meeting.  Some of our concerns are as follows:

1)  Prior to the Addendum from March 2014 (for which we are grateful) there was no prohibition on sharing data with a third-party.  As indicated, the changes to FERPA would allow AIR to legally share data with a third-party as long as that sharing was for ‘an educational program’ without parental knowledge or consent.  As such, the addendum now allows for that sharing only with the USOE’s consent.  We are still concerned that parents are not asked to give consent and may not have knowledge of their student’s data being shared.

2) AIR itself is a research firm dedicated to conducting and applying the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.  As such, they are involved with data collection and evaluation. In the contract and addendum cited, there is nothing that prohibits how AIR or its subsidiary organizations may use, query, analyze or access any or all student data from the SAGE tests in Utah.  They would have access to many data sets from many entities.  They also would have multiple on-going research projects.  There is no prohibition on what inquiries, research or analysis can be done on the data from SAGE testing.  As long as AIR does not profit from the data or share with a third-party without the USOE’s consent, the data is managed by AIR and available for access.  What are the methods in place to prevent AIR from accessing the data for additional research or analysis?  AIR does not need to share the data with a third-party to violate the privacy of a student or a set of students.  However, since they control and manage the database, there is nothing that would prevent this access.

3) There are no prohibitions in the contract regarding behavioral data.  While we realize Mr. Cohen has said the contract does not call for gathering or evaluating behavioral data, and that AIR is not inclined to do so, there are, again, no prohibitions or penalties associated with gathering or evaluating behavioral data.  State law allows for the use of behavioral data in the year-end testing.  So, there are no legal prohibitions on the use or collection of behavioral data.  Since behavioral research is the primary mission of AIR, as indicated by its mission statement, it is a concern for parents.  If AIR has no desire to collect behavioral data as part of the SAGE testing, it should state so explicitly in a legally-binding manner.

4) Many parents have, legally, opted out of SAGE testing for their students.  As such, why is AIR receiving any information on these students?  Parents feel it is a grave violation of their trust by USOE that any data the USOE has received from the schools can be input into the SAGE database, not to mention the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  There must, at a minimum, be a way for parents to opt out of all sharing of their student’s dat with AIR and the SLDS.  At what point, if any, will student data be purged from the AIR database?  What is the method for demonstrating the data has been properly purged?

Additionally, we appreciate the response of Mr. Cohen to our concerns.  Based on his response, we have the following questions.

1)  Please list the “express purposes” for which the release, sharing or sale of data is not prohibited, per contract.

2) What third parties are AIR “explicitly permitted by the State of Utah” to provide data to?

3) What research has AIR been requested and directed by the Utah State Office of Education to conduct?

4) What entity (or entities) has AIR been authorized by the State of Utah to release data to?

5) Please list the source of the contract that states that AIR is prohibited from releasing data to the federal government.

6) What entity (or entities) have been designated by the USOE to receive data from AIR?

7) The memo does not address companies owned or operated by AIR, which would not be considered third-parties.  Please state, per contract, where AIR does not share data within related party entities.

Finally, we have the following questions related to the validity and reliability of the SAGe testing.  We understand that this information would not be protected by copyright, and therefore, could be provided to us, as elected officials.

1. Normative Sample Details (who took the test)

2. Coefficient Alpha Reliability

3. Content description Validity

4. Differential Item Function Analysis

5. Criterion Prediction Validity

6. Construct Identification Validity

7. Other types of validity scales/constructs that are applicable only to CAT test designs

We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this more in the future.  As those who are responsible to the parents of this district, we feel it is imperative that our concerns are addressed.  And, when all is said and done, it is most important that parents have the opportunity to protect whatever student information they feel is necessary.  Just because parents decide to educate their children in our public school system does not mean that we, as a state government, are entitled to whatever information about their children we feel in necessary.  Parents are still, by state law, primarily responsible for the education and the upbringing of their children.  As such, their wishes and their need to protect information on their students is paramount.  As members of the Alpine School Board, we must represent the different views and concerns of all the parents in our area.  For those who have no concerns, then you may proceed as usual.  For those who do have concerns, it is incumbent on us to raise these questions and to obtain the most accurate information possible.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to more information in the future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Halladay

ASD4

Wendy Hart

ASD2

Paula Hill

ASD1

 

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I wish every Utah parent, teacher, student and principal read this letter– and took action!

The time has long passed for blind trust in Dr. Park, in the State Office of Education and in the State School Board. Surely, power holders –in the legislature, in district administrative offices, and in the governor’s office who read this letter– will finally act.

Share this letter!

Utahns Petition State School Board to Drop Fed Waiver and Common Core   1 comment

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If you have not already done so, please sign the petition letter that’s going to the State Board of Education.  Link here.

 

Tomorrow’s state school board meeting is a big deal.   Please be there and bring people.  Wear a grass green shirt to show opposition to the federal ESEA/NCLB waiver and to Common Core.

At 9:00 a.m., this peaceful outdoor protest by the offices of education will feature YOU and YOUR friends and family, with your signs, taking a stand.

We will take a stand against the stripping away of local control of our schools, the guinea pig-like academic experimentation on our children, and against the replacement of classic, time-tested education with the Common Core snake oil that nobody was consulted about, prior to being billed for.  We will  stand against the unconstitutional power grab of the Department of Education and claim the right as parents and as citizens to reclaim local control.  We are calling the bluff of the Department of Education, which pretends to authority that it does not hold.

If you have not already done so, please sign the petition letter that’s going to the State Board of Education.  Link here.

Another letter and petition has already gone to the State School Board from members of the Utah Chamber of Commerce and others.  It says the opposite message.  Understand:  the national and state Chambers of Commerce have put huge pressure on the state school boards to continue with the ESEA/NCLB waivers for one simple reason:  money.

In their  letter, signed by many Utah business people and local school board members, the governor’s appointee to review Common Core wrote that “as a key stakeholder, surely the perspectives and support of the business community are an important plan of any successful plan for improving education in the state.”  Translation:  “because we’ve invested money in the Common Core-based technologies and are making a mint off this experiment, and because we work for organizations heavily funded by Common Core financier Bill Gates, we want and claim a stake in your child’s education.”

Our letter, which was written yesterday, has already been signed by hundreds and hundreds of people.  It says this  (highlights):

 

To the Members of the Utah state Board of Education:

… To receive a waiver from NCLB, Utah agreed to option A, which required Utah to show proof that we had adopted Common Core.  In other words, the state was coerced into agreeing to a reform package that exerts a far greater control over our state education system than NCLB.

The waiver should not be renewed… The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no opportunity to be involved in Utah education.  By renewing the waiver, Utah will be obligated to continue with their Common Core commitment to the federal government, which is a violation of both federal and state Constitutions.  

…Utah law states that we can and shall be flexible with our funding to utilize it to meet state goals and objectives over federal goals and objectives.

Concerns that there may be a reduction in federal funds affecting Title I schools should not stop the board from doing the right thing.

 It will be the responsibility of the legislature and the Governor to make sure that Title I schools have necessary funding.

Please do not sign the waiver.

Signed—

 

Please ask friends to  sign  our letter to the board.   Then come to tomorrow’s open board meeting and to the protest.   If you are unable to come, write to the state and local boards of education.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Common Core Lawsuit: Teachers and Parents v. Utah State School Board   2 comments

 

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So many Utahns have become so hopping mad* about Common Core in our schools that a few weeks ago, Governor Herbert publically announced that the state Attorney General will now conduct a “thorough legal review” of the rapidly adopted, unvetted education and testing standards.  He’s got a public input website  on the academic aspects of the Common Core.  But his main question is:  do the standards represent “federal entanglement”?

Well, that seems like an easy question  for the Attorney General!  Just read Utah’s Race to the Top application, with its federal points system based, in large part, on a state agreeing to take on the Common Core.  Or check out Obama’s four pillars of education reform.  Or check out Obama’s and Secretary Duncan’s speeches on the subject.  Or read the federal definition of “college and career ready standards.”  Not hard.

But federal entanglement’s not the only question.  A new Libertas Institute lawsuit  asks this key question:  Did the Board violate state law in rushing through Common Core’s adoption without legally required input from parents, teachers, employers, superintendents and school boards?  At least one public school has openly declared that not even slightly were they consulted.  And they’re not happy about it.

The lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment, saying that the Board failed to consult with local school boards, superintendents, teachers, employers and parents as required by law (53A-1-402.6).  It asks for an order enjoining the Board from further implementing Common Core, from requiring schools to implement Common Core, and from enforcing Common Core.

I am happy to be one of the parents/educators who are the plaintiffs in this case, and grateful to Libertas Institute for footing the bill.

Go, fight, win.

 

libertas

 

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* Remember to attend  if at all possible this month’s public state school board meeting and the big protest THIS WEEK at the State Board of Education offices in downtown Salt Lake City:  August 8th, at 9 a.m.  Many Utahns against Common Core will be protesting with signs outside the building while others will be making public comment later, during the public comment segment around 10:30 inside the building.  See you there.

Alan Singer on Pearson Ed: Why Pearson Tests Our Kids   2 comments

Note to Utahns: Utah children are being tested by AIR, not by Pearson.  So why post this article?

  It’s no secret that Utah, as well as the federal government, has heavily invested in Pearson/Microsoft‘s philosophy and product.  Pearson leads out in all Common Core implementation and student-data gathering products nationwide, including here in Utah (except for the SAGE/AIR test itself).  

Alan Singer’s article adds to the growing argument against Pearson, period.  My hope is that both Pearson’s products and its “one-global-governance-system” philosophy will be vigorously rejected and that Pearson will not  receive one more penny of the countless Utah tax dollars it has already claimed, both via curriculum sales and via its creepy database building for our state’s school system.  

Why Pearson Tests Our Kids

by Alan Singer,  Hofstra University

 (Posted with permission from the author and also published here)

 

Pearson invited me to breakfast. Well not just me. I received an email inviting Long Island educators to a free “Breakfast Briefing” promoting “Pearson Personalized Learning” that would empower me to “Turn your traditional student learning into Student-Centered learning by delivering the right curriculum to the right student, at the right time.” I checked out Pearson’s personal learning products online and then decided that the free breakfast and the opportunity to annoy them was not worth the trip.

 

Pearson is promoting GradPoint, “an easy to use web based solution for grades 6-12” that “includes over 180 rigorous courses (Core, Electives, AP and Foreign Language & CTE).;” iLit, “a tablet-based reading intervention for students in grades 4-10” which promises “it has everything your class needs to gain two years of reading growth in a single year;” and aimsweb, “the leading assessment and RTI solution in school today-a complete web-based solution for universal screening, progress monitoring, and data management for Grades K-12.”

 

I thought calling their literacy program iLit was pretty funny, but otherwise I find their promotion scary. “Pearson Personalized Learning” is not about supporting schools; it is about replacing them. And it is about replacing them without any evidence that their products work or any concern for the impact of their products on schools and student learning.

 

Pearson executives Sir Michael Barber, Saad Rizvi and John Fallon call their global market strategy “The Incomplete Guide To Delivering Learning Outcomes.” Fallon, Pearson CEO, has been with the company for most of his professional career. He is behind the push for “efficacy,” the corporate buzzword, which in practical terms translates into the constant assessing of student performance who are using Pearson products. The testing strategy tied into common core in the United States is neither an accident nor an accessory. Testing is the core of common core.

 

I find Barber and Rizvi even more interesting than Fallon for understanding Pearson’s marketing strategies. Barber is Pearson’s chief education strategist and leads its three-pronged assault on education around the world through what Pearson calls efficacy, affordable learning, and the Pearson Knowledge and Research Centre. Efficacy is supposed to be about what works in education based on research done at the research centre, but everything is actually organized around the Pearson goal of “finding business models for affordable schools” that they will be selling, especially in “developing areas of the world.”

 

If you want to know how Pearson plans to operate, you have to look at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and advisor to some of the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions. Before joining Pearson, Michael Barber had a similar role at McKinsey where he was a partner. Saad Rizvi, who is Pearson’s Senior Vice President for Efficacy and head of its Catalyst for Education team, was a consultant at McKinsey. McKinsey & Company’s clients include 100 of the top 150 companies in the world. It has advised the Bank of England, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, and the German government.

 

The main job of McKinsey is to help companies maintain profitability by closing subsidies, selling assets, shifting production, and laying off workers. McKinsey has had its share of mishaps. Former employees include Jeff Skilling, the disgraced chief executive of Enron and Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted of insider trading. Other disasters include advising Time Warner on its ill-fated merger with AOL, advising General Motors on how to compete with Japanese automakers, and advising AT&T not to be concerned about cellphones. A top McKinsey partner dismissed these failures saying “We are advisers, and it is management’s job to take all the advice they receive and make their own decisions. Not to say that McKinsey told me to do this.”

I think a fair question to ask is, do we want the business model that led to the Eron scam and these other corporate disasters employed in operating American schools and McKinsey’s no-fault attitude toward advising local, state, and federal governments on educational policy?

 

Pearson’s Affordable Learning division currently focuses on emerging markets in Africa and India, but it is the model for Pearson business worldwide. It includes eAdvance (South Africa), which sponsors a blended learning chain called Spark Schools; Omega, a chain of thirty-eight private schools in Ghana; Bridge International Academies in Kenya; and Zaya, an educational technology and service company contracted to operate twenty-seven schools; Suiksha, a chain of pre-schools; Experifun, which markets science learning products; Avanti, after-school test prep; and Village Capital (Edupreneurs) promoting private education start-up companies, all based in India. The blurb for eAdvance’s Spark Schools give some sense of what Pearson is trying to do in Africa, India and worldwide – under price the market to disrupt existing educational institutions so Pearson companies can move in, take over, and gobble up profits.

 

“SPARK Schools has bold aspirations to disrupt the South African education system through introducing an innovative learning methodology to the African continent. In the SPARK Schools model, students split their time between digital content that adapts in difficulty to their learning and classroom interaction based on best practice pedagogy. Importantly, the blended model also allows eAdvance to deliver high quality education at an affordable price.” It will “build eight low-cost blended learning schools over the next three years, and more than 60 in the next ten.”

Pearson is also using mergers to expand its markets and influence. In December 2013, Pearson agreed to purchase Grupo Multi, an English-language training company in Brazil, to accelerate growth in Latin America.

 

Pearson uses the desperation of Third World countries to modernize to get its foot in the door and to act without regulation or oversight. Up until now, about sixty percentof Pearson’s sales were in the United States, however expansion stalled in this country because of lower freshman enrollments in U.S. colleges and a slowdown in textbook markets. Sales also suffered in Great Britain because of curriculum changes and the company spent about $200 million organizing its push into foreign digital markets.

 

As a result of these issues, Moody’s Investors Service, a ratings agency, lowered its evaluation of Pearson from stable to negative. “We are changing the outlook to negative as Pearson’s debt protection metrics for fiscal year 2013 are likely to weaken considerably,” says According to Gunjan Dixit, a Moody’s Assistant Vice President-Analyst, “This view reflects Pearson’s tough trading conditions, particularly in North America and the UK; the greater-than-originally-anticipated spending on restructuring; and certain start-up costs for new contracts in higher education and increased provisions for returns.” According to Moody’s, key challenges for Pearson in the future include (1) the fiscal health of U.S. states and international government funding bodies, in its schools and higher education businesses; (2) difficult market conditions in the U.S. education market; (3) the vulnerability of its Financial Times group; and (4) the accelerating transition of trade book publishing to electronic formats. Pearson stockholders were so disappointed in the company’s financial performance that in April 2014, shareholders protested against excessive executive bonuses.

 

In the United States, Pearson faces other problems that may be related to over expansion, the inability to deliver what was promised, and possible under the table agreements on contracts. In Florida, state officials blamed Pearson Education when at least a dozen Florida school districts were forced to suspend online testing this April because students had trouble signing in for the test. for the situation. Other problems included slowness when students tried to download test questions or submit answers and an inexplicable warning message that students should notify their teacher or proctor about a problem that did not exist. “State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart complained to Pearson that the “failure is inexcusable. Florida’s students and teachers work too hard on learning to be distracted by these needless and avoidable technological issues.”

 

Pearson blamed the test problems on a third-party hosting service provider. However, in recent years Pearson has had similar problems with computerized tests in Florida before as well as in other states. In 2011, Wyoming fined Pearson $5.1 million because of software problems and then switched back to paper tests. In April, Pearson was also forced to acknowledge and apologize for “intermittent disruptions to some of our online testing services.” This time they blamed a different sub-contractor.

 

In the meantime, the American Institutes for Research is challenging the awarding of a lucrative common core test development contract to Pearson. While the complaint is being brought in New Mexico, it has national ramification. The contract is for developing test-items, test delivery, reporting results, and analysis of student performance for states that are part of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, one of two main consortia designing tests linked to the common-core standards. The plaintiff claims the process for awarding the contract was designed to specifically benefit Pearson, which ended up being the only bidder, and was therefore illegal.

 

In New York State, parents and teachers are outraged because teachers and building administrators are forced to sign statements promising not to discuss or release questions about new Pearson “Common Core” aligned high-stakes tests. In the past, questions from past state high school “Regents” exams were posted on the State Education website. Now Pearson, which is paid $32 million by New York State to create the tests is demanding a payment of an additional $8 million to permit the state to post the questions.

 

 

In New Zealand, a group called Save Our Schools NZ is protesting the misuse of PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) tests and rankings by national education departments. They charge “Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition.” Pearson holds the contract to prepare PISA assessments starting in 2015.

 

For all its claims about efficacy, Pearson is not a very efficient company. For all its claims about valuing education, the only thing Pearson appears to value is profit.

 

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
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