Archive for the ‘Utah State Office of Education’ Tag

Please Audit Utah State Office of Education’s Public Comment Survey   4 comments

After everything scientist and patriot Vince Newmeyer has written, after everything that people in other states have said and done (and sued about) concerning the INSANE  error of adopting national, common science standards; after all the parental uproar here in Utah, still, the USOE is still moving ahead with its bullheaded determination to strip Utah of any local control and align everything we do to federal standards. I am convinced that this is simply because of USOE’s passionate devotion to money –not to children, teachers or education– but to continued federal grant eligibilty.  There is no other logical explanation.
Today is the last day that you can make public comment on Utah’s move to “Utah Science Standards” –standards which are, in fact, national common standards also known as NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards.  See the official NGSS link here.
NGSS standards are beloved of the Obama administration (Obama launched a global warming education initiative recently).   NGSS are politicized and controversial, which Utah’s previous standards were not.  NGSS have been called the anti-science science standards because they minimize the scientific habit of actually questioning settled science, while maximizing “climate change” evangelism as presented by the left wing.
If Utah teachers and parents really wanted common NGSS standards, I would have to put a sock in my mouth and go away.  But the Utah Office of Education (USOE) has underhandedly presented these standards, refusing to admit that they are NGSS (by changing one word here or there) and by calling them “Utah Science Standards”.
The public comment site is RIDICULOUS.  I encourage you to go there tonight and spout off, but beware; they’ve made it hard.  They have almost made it impossible.
Click to make public comment here.  (Deadline today)
Hence my letter today, sent to the auditing department, asking them to sock it to USOE for their dishonesty and sellout of our schools and kids and real science.   Here’s the board’s email address if you feel so inclined to take a stand next to me on this issue.    
Dear Audit Department of USOE and State Board,
I am writing to ask you to audit the USOE’s public comment survey about the new NGSS/Utah Science standards.
These “standards” are being called “Utah Science Standards” but they are in reality the same as the NGSS, common national science standards.  This fact has been concealed by USOE in its presentations to the public, unfortunately, but it is true.
Today is the last day that the public is invited to comment.
I am certain that very, very few people have commented.    It severely restricts and frames comments.  The micromanaging nature of the survey, which is a narrow, opinion-managing effort, does not allow for true public comment on the entire scope, process, nature and academic quality of the proposed standards.
It limits commenters to specific strands of specific grades and even limits the space for commenting itself!  What if I was a science teacher who wanted to explain in scientific, pedagogic detail, why it’s so wrong to take out most of what we used to teach kids about electricity, for example?  That has happened.  But there’s no space for it on the survey.
But there is more.
  • Nowhere does 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 does 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 CEDS tags.)
  • Nowhere does the survey allow a member of the public to state opposition to narrowing the science survey to only 6th through 8th grades.
  • Nowhere does 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 does the survey allow space for true freedom of expression.
I could go on.
It feels as if this survey was deliberately written to constrain the public to NOT say what they may want to say; as if the survey-data-tally officers wanted to be able to throw out any comments that did brought up the controversies that the creators didn’t want to discuss.
This is certainly an auditing issue.
Millions of dollars will be spent by USOE and the school system to replace Utah’s previous science curricula.  Millions will go to “trainings” for teachers to alter our traditional, time-tested science pedagogy to make it match the new, NGSS, national-federal standards.
Money will be spent (wasted) not just in an excited, misguided grab for the latest and the best, but in a sickeningly politicized, even anti-God, materialism-belief-based, green-evangelized “science” that the USOE pretends is not NGSS.
The dishonest presentation of the 6th to 8th grade science standards to the public as if they were not NGSS is an issue for an audit.  Does honesty matter, or not?
The money that will be spent bases in part on this very survey, will be taken from taxpayers to put Utah on the federally aligned (unconstitutional) curriculum for politicized science, which is an issue for an audit.
For almost four years, many of us (including teachers, like me) have been carefully, sadly following the  activities of the USOE as it has, time and time again, sold out what’s best for Utah’s children, teachers, and future autonomy, for money.  For grant upon grant upon federal grant.
It is sickening.  NGSS alignment is more of the same.
Please audit this public comment survey and let’s insist that USOE be honest.  Have a public comment survey that actually invites full commentary on all aspects of this transformation of our schools.
Audit this survey, and strike it.  Have an honest look at NGSS and ask the public about  moving to national standards for science.
Ask the public to evaluate NGSS, and call it what it really is.  Audit whether it is even legitimate science.  It redefines the concept by dropping the classic scientific model of questioning, basing itself and its unquestionable “facts” on controversial issues with heavy political underpinnings, not on real, actual, open-minded science.
Christel Swasey

Open Letter from Alisa Ellis: USOE Deliberately Withholding Actual Science Standards from Public Scrutiny   1 comment



Alisa Ellis, parent member of Utah’s Science Standards Review Committee, is calling for an immediate stop to:


1- the USOE’s public comment survey –because USOE has only allowed the public and the parent review committee to see a sterilized, watered down version, rather than a true, full version of the common science standards and appendices that teachers will be using– yet USOE is asking the public to comment in this blind manner;

2- the USOE’s statewide tour, aimed to give parents the impression that they have been given full disclosure of the new science standards.  Since the science standards that the public is being shown, upon which the public has been asked to comment, are not the same as the standards that teachers are to be using, nor  the same as the standards upon which the parent review committee was asked to work, this tour to present the standards is at best, partially truthful and at worst, a deliberate deception.)

Here’s Alisa’s  letter to the state school board:


Board Members,


The public comment period of the proposed science standards needs to stop immediately and be restarted with the correct document.  Mr. Scott admitted on Tuesday night that the teachers will not be presented with the draft of standards that the public is being asked to review but with the full version from Achieve’s Next Generation Science Standards.  I don’t believe this review falls within the provisions of the law.  The law does not say, “present the public with the watered down version because it would be “too overwhelming” for them to see the full version”.  This is what was suggested was the reason for not presenting the public with the full version.


The NGSS have many things included besides simply the performance expectations.  The full version has clarification statements, assessment boundaries; the full NRC framework with all the cross-walking to the Common Core standards and appendices.  It is my right as a parent and citizen to be shown exactly what will be taught to my children..  This is both according to federal law and state law.


Therefore it is my recommendation that the public review period ceases immediately.  It is apparent that the power structure is willing to do whatever it takes to push forth their agenda so I would also recommend starting fresh with a new writing and lead team.


Also, board member Dixie Allen claimed at the meeting in Vernal that the standards committee knew all along that the Next Generation Science Standards were being used.  Mr. Scott also claimed that the draft given to the parent review committee, of which I am a member, was presented with a draft that cited the NGSS and NRC framework.  This is not accurate.  I have the copy in front of me and there is no mention of the NGSS standards.  In fact, Sarah Young, at our first meeting proudly talked of all the hard work the writing team was putting into writing these “UT science standards” when in fact they were simply reorganizing the format and order of the national science standards.


This board has the desire to improve public relations, but with the deceptive and dishonest way things are presented I worry the gap in public trust is growing wider and wider.  Also, as the state office of ed is currently facing a lawsuit for the lack of parental involvement surrounding the adoption of Common Core it would behoove the board to put a stop to the deceptive manner information is fed to the public.


Also, in the Vernal meeting Mr. Scott revealed that the writing team which he renamed the “organizing team” was given 6 sets of standards to pick from.


  •  I am formally requesting the names and titles of the individuals that chose the sets of standards the committee was allowed to choose from.
  • I am requesting the six sets of standards offered the committee
  • I am requesting the names and titles of every member of the writing/organizing team (I asked for this last fall)
  • I am requesting all correspondence between the above requested individuals with staff and board members.

I also became aware today of an implementation guide published by ACHIEVE for the 6-8 grade standards.  Here is an excerpt:

propaganda achieve

  • Therefore, I am also formally requesting all minutes from meetings and discussions, both with board members and without, surrounding the revision of science standards.
  • There were cameras present at the December review committee meeting held at the State Capitol.  I am requesting a copy of all raw video.

As these requests will benefit the public at large, I am requesting all fees be waived and the process be expedited.  I understand that correspondence between individuals will take longer than some of the other requests, I would like to see the committee names and standards immediately while the other information is being gathered.


Further, there was an attempt at the meeting this week to prevent recording of the meeting which would be in direct violation of open meeting laws.  There was also an attempt to suggest committee members identities were to be kept private, which is also a direct violation of open meeting laws.  Please do everything in your power to stop this practice.


Thank you,

Alisa Ellis



This 7 minute video explains the deception using audio from legislative meetings and board retreats.


This video from the Vernal USOE science standards meeting below shows Mr. Ricky Scott of the USOE with Alisa Ellis asking questions about why the board refused to show the real standards to parents, citing “not overwhelming” parents as a reason for the lack of transparency.



Please support Alisa’s call for honesty and integrity in the process of setting Utah’s academic standards.  Contact the state school board members today, asking for a full disclosure of the actual science standards to the public and an immediate ceasing of the tour and public comment survey as it stands.  Include a copy of your letter to your local school board and to your elected representatives in the legislature.  Find your senator or representative here.

And come to the upcoming Provo, Salt Lake, and Ogden meetings, if the USOE fails to listen to Alisa by halting these planned public meetings.


District 1: Terryl Warner
623 Anderson Avenue
Hyrum UT 84319

District 2: Spencer F. Stokes
4259 Skyline Drive
Ogden, UT 84403

District 3: Linda B. Hansen
5149 Village Wood Drive
West Valley City, UT 84120

District 4: Dave Thomas (First Vice Chair)
7875 South 2250 East
South Weber, UT 84405

District 5: Laura Belnap
845 East 1500 South
Bountiful, UT 84010

District 6: Brittney Cummins
4601 Poseidon Drive
West Valley City, UT 840120

District 7: Leslie B. Castle
2465 St. Mary’s Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

District 8: Jennifer A. Johnson (Second Vice Chair)
802 Winchester Street, #100
Murray, UT 84107

District 9: Joel Wright
9102 Silver Lake Drive
Cedar Hills, UT 84062

District 10: Dave Crandall (Chair)
13464 Saddle Ridge Drive
Draper, UT 84020

District 11: Jefferson Moss
1668 Aspen Circle
Saratoga Springs, UT 84045

District 12: Dixie L. Allen
218 West 5250 North
Vernal, UT 84078

District 13: C. Mark Openshaw
3329 Piute Drive
Provo, UT 84604

District 14: Mark Huntsman
435 South 700 East
Fillmore, UT 84631

District 15: Barbara Corry
1022 Cedar Knolls
Cedar City, UT 84720

Appointed Board Members:

Teresa Theurer
322 East 2280 North, #D
North Logan, UT 84341

Marlin K. Jensen
1500 North 7900 East
Huntsville, UT 84317

Freddie Cooper
1307 West 200 North
Clearfield, UT 84015-8601

Kristin Elinkowski
3261 Twin Peaks Drive
Layton, UT 84040

Dean Rowley
526 South 170 West
Springville, UT 84663
801. 489-6935

Common Core Science Standards Arrive in Utah This Week: 90 Day Comment Period Announced   6 comments

politics of science 10


Utah’s State Office of Education appears to be, once again, quite secretively rubber-stamping controversial and politically loaded national standards and calling them Utah’s own standards– this time, for science.

The English and math deception happened a few years ago when the USOE did the same thing with the adoption of Common Core’s math and English national standards, calling them “Utah Core Standards”.

This week, when the Utah State School Board meets, it will discuss statewide changes to science standards.  They do not openly admit that in fact the Utah draft mirrors the controversial NGSS standards.  In fact, the official statement from the State Office of Education states nothing about Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but the new “Utah” science standards drafts have now been exposed as the very same as the NGSS Standards– by multiple parents who serve on the Utah parent committee for science standards.

Vincent Newmeyer, one of the parents who serves on the parent committee, has given permission to share his response to the revised standards.  He says that he is alarmed at the errors and unfitness of these standards for Utah students as well as the deceptiveness of the rewriting committee.

He explains that the Utah rewriting committee appears to be attempting to hide, by renumbering or rearranging, the truth that the new Utah standards are just NGSS standards.  He notes:

“Utah’s science standards rewriting committee has removed all but the performance expectations [from national NGSS] and renumbered them.  A few performance expectation sequences have been rearranged  and one new NGSS standard was inserted.  The Performance Expectations are essentially identical to what they were in the previous draft.  Again, in the introductory material it is still claimed to be Utah grown standards, perhaps because Brett Moulding from Utah is the chair of the NGSS writing committee.  These performance expectations as prepared are only one word different from the published NGSS Performance Expectations –yet again there is no attribution to NGSS.”

He points to the NGSS national science standards guidelines which state:  “States… that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright notice provision of this license.”  Newmeyer points out that Utah is either in the process of adopting national science standards in whole, or are infringing on copyright.  –So, which is it?

Newmeyer goes on: “Though we are just looking at grades 6-8, it is inconceivable that our state would adopt 6-8 (even if slightly modified) and then settle on a totally different standard for other grades, especially when you consider the desire to have a cohesive and progressively building program.  So in fact we are not just looking at grades 6-8.  We are laying a precedent for the adoption of NGSS for all grades with additional material not even considered.”

Why must we as parents, teachers and scientists, oppose it?

1.  Control.   Our state loses local control of teaching students what we accept as scientifically important and true, when we adopt NGSS standards rather than using standards we have researched and studied and compiled on our own.  We further lose control when we then test students using these national science standards that are aligned to the philosophies (and data mining structures) of the federal agenda.

2.  Content.  Vincent Newmeyer explains that some of the standards are based on recognized fallacies, and others on controversial assumptions.  Failing to properly research and vet these standards publically is unethical and unscientific.

For example, Newmeyer asks us to look at “the newly renumbered but present all along standard number 7.2.2 : “Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities  in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.”  This leads students to favor the Darwinian Evolutionary view –which has solid counterpoints arguing precisely the opposite view.  Newmeyer explains that although it is true that we can find similarities in embryos, still “if studied in detail we find differences that completely undermine the whole premise of why they inserted this performance expectation.  In the standard they are not looking at the differences.”

Even those who actively defend the Darwinian view of common ancestry who have looked at the data see the weakness of the argument, says Newmeyer.  He questions why we want to teach it in Utah as if it were settled science.  There are also standards that promote the controversial global warming paradigm, and there are other content problems in the NGSS standards.

Utah’s already using the standardized test developed by American Institutes for Research (SAGE) which includes science, English and math standards aligned to the nationally pushed agenda.  So the USOE is not going to want to go in another direction.  But it must.  If enough parents, teachers and scientists pelter the Utah State School Board and Utah State Office of Education and legislature with firm “NO to NGSS” emails, phone calls and personal visits, they can’t get away with this like they did with Common Core.

A few months ago, a concerned Utah State School Board member contacted every single one of the science teachers who were in her constituency district, asking them how they felt about NGSS.  She reported that every single one of them said that they wanted to keep Utah’s current science standards and they rejected NGSS.  Every  last teacher.

South Carolina rejected the national science standards.  So did Wyoming.  Kansas is fighting a law suit about it.  Are we going to do nothing in Utah to defend scientific objectivity and neutrality, not to mention defending the power and right to local control?

There will be a 90-day comment period.  You can also attend and speak up (2 min max) at the state school board meetings if you request time in advance.  Please participate.

Also, please share your passion with your legislators.  Find your representatives here or click here for the state school board’s email address and all of the Utah senators and representatives.


Utah Unhappily Bound by Common Core Standards   Leave a comment



I like Superintendent Martell Menlove.  He’s approachable, pleasant, polite; has a warm smile and even responds to emails.
But there is a problem.  Dr. Menlove is not just any Utahn; he’s the State Superintendent.  He supports Common Core and he’s a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers,  which created and copyrighted Common Core (with the NGA).
CCSSO is an organization that aims to destroy (“disaggregate”) student privacy and thus, student liberty.
Dr. Menlove is also on the Board of Directors of WestEd, an organization with a key role in the creation of the Common Core tests.  I don’t know why he remains a member of these groups.  Maybe he thinks he can influence them for good instead of having them drag him (and our state) down. Maybe.  But Dr. Menlove told me once that the reason he supports Common Core is that the ACT and SAT do.  He thinks that our students have to align with whatever ACT/SAT do because of college entrance traditions.  (I suggested to Dr. Menlove that now that David Coleman has corrupted the college entrance exams  (here and here)  down to Common Core standards, we should flee ACT/SAT and find alternative testing for Utah students.)  He did not agree.
Yesterday, my friend Oak Norton wrote a letter to Dr. Menlove.  He asked him to publically clarify whether Utah Core Standards are the same thing as Common Core Standards because some people are of the false belief that Utah has independent math and English standards.   Dr. Menlove wrote back and clarified.  Utah does Common Core standards.  He wrote: “The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.”  (See?  He is nice.)
But there’s still a problem.   It’s never been made clear by him nor other leaders  that because we do Common Core, we cannot control our own standards anymore.  Whether our leaders don’t understand this, or choose not to understand this, or don’t want the people to understand this, is no matter.  What matters is that people are confused.
menlove 2
Let’s not be confused.  We can fact-check our leaders who say,  “Utah isn’t obligated to Common Core and we can easily alter “our” standards while still belonging to the Common Core Initiative”.  It’s wishful thinking at best; lies at worst.   Here’s why:
Look at 7 basic facts:
1.   The Department of Education’s official website explains the conditions of getting ARRA money. It says:
“As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring.”
F.Y.I. – “College and Career Ready Standards and high-quality assessments” means only ONE thing to the federal government:  COMMON CORE.  Read their definitions page.
Yes, we traded our educational freedom for federal ARRA money.   Sad choice, Governor Huntsman.  That’s where it all started: there were four assurances in that signup (which included common standards and assessments and data collection) that Governor Huntsman signed us up for in that State Fiscal Stabilization Fund; the standards were one of the conditions.  Data collection and testing were also included.
Maybe Dr. Menlove doesn’t know this.  He really should.
2.   BUT THERE IS MORE:  the MOU  (Memorandum of Understanding) that the school board signed got us started further down the path of Common Core –this MOU, which was used in other federal funding applications, proved we were on the Common Core commitment train.
3.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  the NCLB temporary waiver application (see page 18) binds Utah to COMMON STANDARDS.
4. BUT THERE IS  MORE:  the Common Core copyright page itself binds users to precisely what’s written and offers no amendment process for states governed by the standards;
5.  BUT THERE IS MORE:  there is a  15% clause in the Achieve implementation manuals (see page 23) and in the NCLB waiver and elsewhere, that is a “ceiling rule”, stifling what Utah can add to the Utah Core, and ensuring that anything Utah adds to the Common standards, including or beyond that 15%, won’t be tested or recognized by the national testers nor written into the “acceptable” Common Core aligned curriculums
6.  BUT THERE IS MORE.  The lack of any amendment process for the states to alter the common standards should be a red flag to our leaders– whose duty is to protect us from the tyranny of corporate copyrights as well as to protect us from the tyranny of the federal Department of Education.
7.  BUT THERE IS MORE.   Even if we stand firm and reject the coming science and social studies standards, which Dr. Menlove told us he would do, we are still standing without control over what our students will learn about history and science!  We’ve been duped by David Coleman, lead Common Core creator and now College Board President.
This duping is clearly explained in a letter from another friend of mine, Jakell Sullivan, on the subject:
Dear Legislators,
Oak Norton published Superintendent Menlove’s reply to his email where Dr. Menlove admits that we have indeed adopted Common Core; however, he does not make any effort to address the places where Utah is bound to the federal mandates—this is, in my opinion, a consistent effort by him and Board members to never address the actual reality of the situation.  Please see Dr. Menlove’s response, and please keep in mind that the Common Core Standards creators were clever in their approach to telling states they were only adopting Math and English. The actual cover of the English Language Arts standards reads:
“English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
This was a sleight of hand by the Standards creators, and why parents around the country are beginning to see such wordy math problems. All subjects will be enmeshed under Common Core standards, providing an easier framework to slip ideas and beliefs into all subjects.
Here is video of CC architect, David Coleman, talking about how he threatened to resign from writing the standards unless “teachers in history and social studies, and tech subjects bear the responsibility of bringing their kids to literacy.”
But, it is not about bringing English into all subjects, it is about bringing all subjects together so that states, who would never accept the anti-American history standards, would be getting those standards through the back door through the recommended curricula.
Watch from about the 6 min.-7.5 min. point.
I hope legislators will find a way to vet what has actually occurred.
make your voice heard
Please make your voice heard.  Call or write to your local and state leaders.  Let them know that this loss of local control is NOT OKAY with you.  Speak up or you will lose your window of opportunity to defend freedom and your children’s rights.  Silence is acquiescence.
Here’s contact information:





Stuart Reid

Patricia W. Jones

Mark B. Madsen

Aaron Osmond

Howard Stephenson

Jerry W. Stevenson

Stephen H. Urquhart



(It promotes Common Core via “Prosperity 2020”):



Utah Republican Delegates to Governor and State School Board: Withdraw Utah From Common Core   3 comments

Utah’s Republican state delegates sent a clear message to the Governor, Utah legislators, and to the State Office of Education at Saturday’s GOP convention when 65% of the state delegates voted yes to support the resolution written by Utahns Against Common Core.

Utah’s delegates are calling on Governor Herbert and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from Common Core, and are calling on the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding all programs in association with the Common Core Initiative.

If you missed the GOP convention, here’s what happened.

An ocean of people swarmed in from every corner of Utah to the South Jordan Expo Center Saturday to debate and vote upon the issues of the day.  Present were the Governor and his bodyguard;  legislators, activists, school board members; candidates for political offices, and 2,584 delegates.  The swarm began before 7 a.m. and didn’t end until late in the afternoon.

At the Utahns Against Common Core booth there was a video loop showing the audience current, common core aligned textbooks that are approved for Utah schools.  The booth also featured a handful of teachers and parents, answering questions about why they opposed Common Core.  (The video that was looped is viewable here.  For further analysis of these texts from a Utah mental health therapist’s view —  see this video, too.)

There were more delegates clustered around the Utahns Against Common Core (UACC)  booth than around any other, by a long shot.  Many of the delegates signed the UACC petition, wore Stop Common Core buttons and stickers, and asked questions because of the conflicting (and may I point out, unreferenced) information coming from the State Office about Common Core.

I told delegates near our booth that I dislike the mandates of the common standards and I don’t believe for a minute that they are the solution to our educational problems.  (It seems a no-brainer that it’s harmful, not helpful, to lessen the amount of classic literature that a child may read, and to delay the age at which students learn basic math algorithms, etc.)

But academics are not the key issue; academic problems can normally be fixed, but under Common Core there is not even an amendment process.  These are copyrighted, D.C.-written, common standards.

Without a written amendment process, it’s a case of education without representation.  It’s a case of giving up the ability to even debate what the standards for Utah children ought to be.  It’s a case of allowing the federal government, and the philosophies (and money) of Bill Gates-Pearson Co., to micromanage local educational decisions.

Driving home, after four hours, I wondered if the resolution for local control would pass.  It did not seem likely even though our resolution closely matched the Republican National Committee’s anti-common core resolution that  had passed earlier this year in California.

But in Utah, the GOP committee had given our resolution an “unfavorable” rating, saying that the wording was inflammatory.   The Governor was against us, having long been promoting Common Core and a related project, Prosperity 2020, very openly.  The State Office of Education was against us and had been passing out pamphlets, fliers and stickers to “support common core” –and had sent mailers to delegates, telling them to support common core.  (They used our tax money for this. Since when is tax money used to lobby for one side?)

And the media were generally against us.  Both the Tribune and KSL  had been covering this issue mostly from a pro-common core point of view.

So I was just thankful that we had gotten the opportunity to educate people at our booth.  I hoped for, but didn’t expect, the miracle  of the resolution passing.

Four hours later, I was completely stunned with the great news.  Alisa, my friend and a state delegate, texted me one word:  “PASSED!!!!”

Our resolution passed!  It did match the feelings of a majority of Utahns.  65% of the elected state delegates in the State of Utah voted NO to Common Core.

It was a welcome surprise.

Delegate friends filled me in on the details of what I’d missed.  I learned that the  powers-that-be tried their best to muffle the resolution.  They held it to the very end, after multiple speakers and presentations and other votes were held.  Some even called for the meeting to adjourn before the resolution could be debated on the stage.  There was a vote about whether to adjourn that was soundly defeated by the delegates.

Finally the resolution was debated.  There were elecrifying speeches, for and against. Then there was the vote.

Sixty five percent voted for it to pass!   That’s well over a thousand people, elected by their neighbors, from caucuses in every corner of Utah, who all said NO to Common Core.  This is huge, huge news to teachers, school boards, parents, students, and politicians, regardless of which side of the argument you choose.

But it didn’t make the Tribune.  It didn’t make the Deseret News. It didn’t make the Daily Herald or KSL.

Who knows why?  Sigh.

Looks like we have to spread this one by social media, folks.  There are powerful people who want to muffle the voice of WE, THE PEOPLE.

Let’s not let them get away with it.

Dear Judy Park   5 comments

Last night at your presentation on Common Core tests, you promised to direct me to references documenting the truth of your statement: that the new common core AIR/SAGE tests are written by Utahns, for Utahs, in Utah. I am writing to request a direct link to that documentation.  I appreciate your response.
You also promised to answer questions after the meeting; however, when I asked you mine after the meeting, you turned away from me and began to speak to a principal instead.  The question remains unanswered: will you please direct me to documentation of the claim that the common core standards, upon which this test is built, are truly legitimate and that they have been empirically tested, rather than being the experimental idea of unelected noneducators?
While the testing technology is indeed impressive, it reminds me of admiring a shiny new roof on a building built on quicksand.  Admiring the roof seems a bit pointless.  I’m asking you to prove we’re not on quicksand.  Can you?
Last night, a few of us were asking whether student behavioral indicators would be tested.  You smiled warmly and said the test would only cover math, English and science.
However, in HB15,  the legislation that created space for these new common core computer adaptive tests, it says:
59        (d)  the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance;
I was unsure what student behavior indicators were until I read the recent explanation of a licensed clinical psychologist, who explained that it’s literally anything– anything from mental health evaluation to sporting events to social habits to family status and that measuring behavioral indicators gives results-readers “godlike predictive ability” over that child.  Since A.I.R. is a behavioral research agency before it’s an academic testing company, according to its own website, this concerns me greatly.
Please explain how Utah parents can rest assured that their children will not be tested and tracked concerning anything other than math, English and science in light of this legislation and in light of A.I.R.’s stated purpose.
Christel Swasey
Heber City

Wasatch School District Unveils Common Core Tests to Parents April 8, 2013 at 4:00   2 comments

You Are Invited:

Monday at Wasatch School District – April 8th at 4:00 p.m.

101 E 200 N Heber City, UT 84032  (435) 654-0280

Presentation on Common Core Assessments:

American Institutes for Research (AIR) Tests

Utah children will be subjected to Common Core tests for the first time this coming school year, to be provided by the behavioral scientists at American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Children in every public and charter school in 46 states will be subjected to AIR’s (or SBAC’s, or PARCC’s)  Common Core tests for the first time in the 2013-14 school year.

So on Monday  I will drag myself to hear the Utah State Office of Education leadership speak about the Common Core tests and test company here in the Wasatch School District.

I dread Monday.  I dread more evidence of how cemented we are becoming into the Common Core via its testing, which is the vehicle for federal and corporate data mining. (Data mining of our children will go into fifth gear as testing begins.)

I dread hearing more lies and misrepresentations by education leaders about the cure-all snake oil of Common Core.  Many don’t realize that they are lying; they are trusting people who haven’t done their own homework and don’t even know that the Common Core is an experiment on our kids unsupported by empirical study.  In repeating the false phrases that our too-trusting local leadership has been handed by D.C. groups, our locals are guilty, too, of naiively promoting false claims.

I dread experiencing more evidence of my lack of voice as a Utah teacher and as a citizen. I know I will not be allowed to speak Monday.  Our local school board does not give local citizens the courtesy of  even two minutes’ time for a citizen or teacher to stand up and raise concerns.

The state school board does allow two minutes per visitor at state meetings.  But not the local.

Should I speak anyway, and let them call the police to drag me to jail for exercising my freedom of speech about this important issue? I’m so tempted.

But I’m here to talk about AIR tests.

I have not done that much research on AIR because it’s so hidden; it’s hard to find out much.  I will share what my research friends and I have found as we simply read the AIR website, the AIR facebook page, and  email our state superintendent and board.

Of  itself, AIR says:  “AIR is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world… AIR’s purpose is to conduct and apply behavioral and social science research… with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged… ”

So, Utah’s using behavioral and social science research –to give math and English tests. We are going to conduct and apply behavioral research on Utah children, with special emphasis on a disadvantaged group, without causing neglect to those lucky enough not to be labeled disadvantaged, somehow.

Moving on.  Let’s look at the leadership hierarchy of AIR.  Right after the CEO and the Director of Longitudinal Analysis comes a committee of people creating tests.  After that committee comes another whole committee to develop education.  I am sure this cannot mean developing model curriculum because we were promised that Common Core would be limited to guidelines and standards, and the USOE never lies.  Right?

On its website, right under the CEO, the AIR leadership lists Jane Hannaway, Director of the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

Translation:  Ms. Hannaway’s job is to analyze children’s lifelong data, as collected by the state and by the ongoing common core tests.

FYI, this information will be held in the state’s longitudinal database system and shared among the many agencies in our Utah Data Alliance –not just education agencies, but workforce and other agencies.  And it may be shared federally, too.  All without parental consent.

Don’t believe me?  Study it yourself.  Read the SLDS grant  conditions.  Read the Utah Data Alliance press release.  Read the Dept. of Ed Cooperative Agreement with other testing consortia.  It’s all online. (Wow.  It was online.   I just checked and they’ve taken away the online Cooperative Agreement from the Dept. of Ed website.  But if you click on the link, you’ll be able to read most of it because I pasted much of it on the blog.)

Superintendent Martell Menlove told me in an 2-14-13 email that:

We will not see each individual test but we will see and review every test item. Every test item, as required in Utah Code will be reviewed by a 15 member parent committee… We will develop an adaptive test that has the main purpose of providing academic achievement data…”  -Martell Menlove

State School Board member Joel Coleman wrote to me in an email that “Our children will be tested on academics.”  So we can expect that the tests will not test psychometrics or behavior– despite AIR’s main focus as behavioral and social science testing research?  I hope,  I really hope, that’s true. But we’re already pushing the creepy SHARPE surveys in our local schools.  So why wouldn’t we add AIR behavioral/psychometric testing? And then there’s the legislative language about behavioral assessments in the tests.  (See below)

I asked Mr. Menlove and Mr. Coleman to clarify something else.  I wrote:

“I am grateful that the test questions can be read by at least 15 Utah parents. I wish it were more.  [Isn’t it illegal to have tests that all parents cannot view?]  What still remains unclear is how Utah will avoid the influence of the AIR when the AIR makes the test. I am referring to AIR’s mainstreaming of globalism (as opposed to constitutional Americanism);  promoting two-spiritedness, transgender, gay and lesbian, and such issues published as priorities on AIR’s website.”

To this email I did not get a response.

Why?  Why don’t our state educational leaders see any red flags or causes for concern?

I think there are several reasons.  One problem is that the state school board and superintendent are extremely trusting of all education reformers;  they don’t do extensive homework as my research friends and I do, and they don’t know what is now obvious to us.

Example:  both the state superintendent and school board member felt that only academics will be tested.  But in a bill that was held in committee, SB69  in the paragraph about the computer adaptive testing that will be administered by AIR, it reads:
“line 66 – (d) the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance”
So, even if Mr. Coleman and Mr. Menlove aren’t aware of the psychological profiling aspects of the testing, someone who helped write this bill felt it important to include this in the written statute that would govern assessments.

The same bill set up a 15-parent (appointed, not elected) panel to review the test questions for all grade levels on behalf of ALL the parents in the state.

Do we realize how many questions are in a database pool for each grade level for each test in a computer adaptive testing system?

“…computer-adaptive testing (in which items are geared to the student) requires a larger and better-designed pool of test items than does traditional testing… High-stakes tests will require a larger pool of items—likely 1,600 or more—than low-stakes tests, which might require closer to 200,” explains Mark D. Reckase, a professor of measurement and quantitative methods at Michigan State University.

So 15 unpaid parents, without any expertise in how  “behavioral indicators” are applied to tests, will review upwards of 12,000 questions? Reckase reviews the process of creating and adding questions to a computer adaptive testing pool, which in scope sounds prohibitive to the resources Utah has assigned to this and may likely result in our using the same test questions created for AIR under the Smarter Balanced Assessments Consortium that are reviewed and controlled by the federal government.

We don’t want any more one-line assurances;  we would like the people who are responsible for submitting our children to these tests to show some deeper understanding of the technology, the processes for creating the tests and the sheer enormity of the undertaking before they assure us that Utah remains “in control.”

AIR really does come with indoctrination strings attached and our leaders don’t want to think deeply about their intended and unintended consequences of AIR’s stated positions, such as:

Twenty Percent of Children are Mentally Ill ?

Our leaders must surely have seen that the AIR  company website takes the stance that a huge percentage of children are mentally ill and need to be treated that way:  “…One in five children and adolescents (20 percent) may have a diagnosable mental health disorder,” says AIR.

Every Nation’s Ed. Standards Should be the Same?

Utah leaders must surely have noticed that the AIR company also believes that every nation should adopt the same education standards.  “We are currently working to benchmark individual state tests to international standards,” AIR’s site states.

The Disadvantaged or Nontraditional Student is More Important?

Utah leaders must have noticed that AIR takes the position that it is not local or parental prerogative, but a “public health issue” to test and assist “disadvantaged” children, defined as most children— the mentally ill (which they call 1/5 of all kids); and the gay, lesbian, transgender, two-spirited, or bisexual.

What about math and English?  Why are we talking about the disadvantaged in an academic testing setting anyway? Is this more of Obama’s redistribution plan, using schools, as outlined in his For Each and Every Child report and in his counselor, Linda Darling-Hammond’s writings on social justice and forced financial equity?

Another issue: test start-up costs are $39 million dollars, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Why  waste money on the socialist AIR company and common core tests, when we need that money for legitimate learning goals, like buying desks and pencils and actual (not Pearson electronic) books and increasing teachers’ salaries?

And why is the public being told, rather than asked?  After the fact.

Utah did not have to choose AIR.  Why did we?  Does AIR represent Utah’s values or goals?  I do not think so.

A wise Utah leader has written: “Schools should be reminded that their primary field of competence is academic, not social adjustment, or world citizenship, or sex education. Parents should stand firm on this and not be intimidated by ‘professional educators.’ After all, it’s their children and their money.”  -Ezra Taft Benson, “An Enemy Hath Done This” p. 232

Do parents want a company of psychologists to store test results in a database for which there are no laws governing how long data can be stored, how it can be used or with whom it can be shared?

One last issue for those who want to study this further:  AIR is partnered with SBAC, with Linda Darling-Hammond, with George Soros, and with many, many, many other groups that are frighteningly socialist or anti-American.

Please write to our governor, legislators, and school boards.  Tell them we want out of Common Core, out of the AIR/Common Core testing, the SLDS data mining, common core aligned textbook adoption, and the unvetted and unreasonable financial waste.

Here’s the state school board’s email address:

The AIR presentations will be happening statewide.  Find your area’s scheduled presentation event on the USOE website.  Or call them at  (801) 538-7500.

–  –  –  –  –  –

Alyson Williams and Morgan Olsen contributed to this report. 


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