Archive for the ‘Utah Teachers Against Common Core’ Tag

Dear Superintendent Larry Shumway   1 comment

I wrote this letter to our State Superintendent today.  Do you think he’ll respond this time?  He never has before.  But hope springs eternal.

Dear Superintendent Shumway,

Although I have asked for a meeting with Carol Lear, with Judy Park, and with Brenda Hales, my requests have been turned down.

As you may know, I’m a Utah teacher with an up to date level II credential and a former English professor at UVU, and am concerned about Common Core nationalized education both for academic and liberty-based reasons.

I have tried to meet with your staff to discuss this in person. I would deeply appreciate a meeting to talk about these things, or a referenced, thorough email response to the following:

1.  What proof can you offer teachers and parents that Common Core standards are not equalizing education within such narrow limits that they actually dumb down the expectations for 4-year college readiness to cater to career readiness and 2-year nonselective college readiness? People as diverse as Stanford’s Michael Kirst and Jason Zimba, Common Core architect, have addressed this issue but Utah has not done so on the USOE website or elsewhere.

2. Why is the board citing the retiring CCSSO leader Gene Wilhoit’s verbal assurances that “there’s no common core police” rather than believing what our state has committed to in writing, which is the federal government’s 15% speed limit on adding to the non-amendable standards, being copyrighted (by NGA/CCSSO) ?

Fact: We need to be able to add more than 15%.  More than a year’s worth of math is missing for most grades, according to Dr. James Milgram, the only math professor on the Common Core Validation Committee.  Speed limit on learning is set in stone at 15% in writing.  Why is that okay with the Utah school board?  Please explain.

3. It has been claimed that many teachers actually had input into the writing of the standards; yet no one I know, including myself, was ever asked to help write the national standards.  And the copyright on the standards (held by NGA/CCSSO) states: NGA/CCSSO are the “sole developers” and sole owners, and “no claims to the contrary shall be made.”  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license

4.  Why was Common Core never piloted nor ever discussed in the public eye, with parents or teachers or legislators, before this transformative, experimental program was implemented across America?

5. How can Common Core avoid lowering standards for top-achieving students when “college and career readiness” means the exact same thing for 4-year college, 2-year college, and vocational school prep?

6. Why does Common Core diminish classic literature? What research supports this drastic change? What percentage of English Language Arts teachers and professors actually approve of this, or believe in the idea that this is increasing rigor and improving college prep?  Do you know?

7. Common Core claims to improve international competitiveness. Why then is Algebra I introduced in 9th grade under Common Core, but it was previously introduced in 8th grade in most states and is introduced in 8th grade in the amazing Asian countries?  Fact:  Massachusetts had the highest standards in the nation but dropped them to adopt mediocre Common Core.  Massachusetts even tested independently as an independent country, and ranked extremely high –but before Common Core.

8.  If it is true, as has been claimed, that Common Core is a state-led program, then why is the federal government incentivizing its adoption via grants (Race to the Top and Race to the Top for Assessments)?

9. Why is the federal government further incentivizing its adoption via No Child Left Behind waivers if there are no federal strings attached?

10. How can states afford Common Core in this economy?  Utah, like most states, hasn’t done a cost analysis.  Texas and Virginia did a cost analysis and both states rejected the offer to join Common Core.  (Texas estimated a $3 billion dollar implementation).

11.  Why can’t we have an open, referenced, well-publicized public hearing on common core with experts from both sides being heard in a non-confrontational, non-argumentative way?

The Granite District meeting was dominated by Ms. Roberts’ long speech, with only 2 minutes then given for hundreds of members of the public; and no experts were given time there from the opposition to common core side.

12. Why hasn’t the Longitudinal Database System and the P-20 student tracking system been made transparent to the public, so that parents who would prefer not to have their child and family tracked by the government, could choose to send their children to private school or homeschool?

Let’s talk openly about these issues, for the good of the students, the teachers, the taxpayers, the general public, and the cause of liberty as it applies to education under the U.S. Constitution.

Christel Swasey

Heber City

A Plea for Higher Educational Standards and Educational Freedom: Letter to Representatives and Senators   1 comment

     

Dear Representatives and Senators:

I’m writing to ask what steps the legislature plans to take to protect our citizens from Common Core’s mediocre standards and non-representation. Here are a few suggestions.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Included in the duties of the state school board to direct education is no authority to give their authority to direct education away, to forces beyond the Utah Constitution’s jurisdiction (forces that include NGA,CCSSO, Dept. of Ed, consortia, etc.) Can the state school board can be held accountable for that sobering overstep of Utah Constitutional authority?

The Utah legislature can add conditions or prohibitions to the funding that are provided to the School Board. An option would be to attach a requirement that funds cannot be used to implement Common Core as it currently stands, requiring a process that involves top scholars nationally to revisit the standards and revise them to ensure that math standards are truly internationally competitive. Similarly, something could added regarding the focus of English standards on classic literature rather than allowing the Common Core mandate of dominance for info-texts over classic literature and narrative writing.

COST ANALYSIS

It is appropriate for the Legislature to require a detailed cost analysis of what it has and will cost to implement Common Core.

INDEPENDENCE

Common Core annulment may loom as an embarrassing and awkward step for a few leaders, but to not end the arrangement is a much more serious mistake.  Right now, when only a handful of Utah schools have already implemented Common Core, it will be the easiest time for Utah to change course.  It may not even be possible, later.  As Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute has said, “Gentlemen’s agreements quickly turn into mandates.”  We should agree to reject what we now recognize as literature-limiting, math-slowing, cursive-ending, un-Amendable standards.

TRANSPARENCY AND EDUCATOR INPUT

The USOE and State School Board is not listening to educators or citizens who oppose Common Core.  They claim to have spent time with us, but in reality, they flee from any discussion of the standards, especially with a credentialed Utah teacher like me, because I oppose the national standards.  I’ve been told “no” to a face-to-face talk with lawyer Carol Lear, and have had numerous written requests for references and verification of Common Core’s claims of “rigor” totally ignored by Superintendent Larry Shumway and USOE’s Brenda Hales.

SIMPLE FACTS

Disregarding the unanchored claims and promises (of CCSSO’s Gene Wilhoit, Sec. Arne Duncan, and the USSB/USOE) we are left with the legally binding, written facts, the simplicity of which are startling:

1. NGA/CCSSO is in charge of Utah’s standards.

2. NGA/CCSSO holds copyright.

3. US Dept of Ed sets a cap on the copyrighted standards at 15%. No amendment process exists.

4. Limitation of classic literature.

5. Limitation of math.

6. Common Core only prepares kids for nonselective community college, according to Common Core architect Jason Zimba himself.

 

7.  Common tests require giving data directly to the federal government, including nonacademic and family data.

 

8. No voice exists for Utah to change any of it –except to pull out of Common Core.

We do not want to be found siding with those who are trampling on freedom of education and the sacred right to privacy. This is one of the most important fights there could ever be– the educational decisionmaking power that touches our own children’s lives. Giving in to nationalized standards will set a precedent for more and more educational intrusion by forces who have no legitimate stakeholder vote.

I am asking you to be heroes to future generations of students and teachers in leading Utah’s reclamation of educational freedom and citizen privacy.  All of America is watching.

Sincerely,

Christel Swasey

Utah parent and educator

Heber City

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