Archive for the ‘Utah’ Tag

UT Senate Passes Ed-Dictatorship Bill; Will House Agree?   7 comments

Update 3/8/16  – Friends in Ohio and Florida have confirmed that this exact bill (elimination of elected school boards) is being pushed there.  Watch the “greedom-over-freedom” ed-tech lobbies, such as Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, Global Silicon Valley investment group, Bill Gates,  Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and Economy, and Pearson, whose investments benefit  from the streamlined elimination of voter input.

The bill in Utah has passed the Senate and is being considered in the House with a (pointless) amendment that would add to the appointed dictator-superintendent, an appointed-not-elected board.  Several House members are opposing the bill right now.  One rare senator who voted against the bill said in an email, “I couldn’t believe this may pass with no input – I like that the voters will determine if this goes to the ballot, but it’s a lot to explain to voters.”  Yes, it is!

I’ve added contact emails for senators and representatives below.

 


 

SJR16, Senator Jim Dabakis’ bill to abolish the voice of voters in Utah education by abolishing the elected State School Board, passed the Utah Senate this week.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune states: “Dabakis argued that the change would empower voters”.

Dabakis’ claim is a ridiculous lie.  The very short bill  (SJR16) has only two elements, as it slashes at the Utah Constitution:  1) to eliminate the elected board, and 2) to have no election and no representation at all.  A solitary, governor-appointed superintendent would supervise all of Utah’s education system by him/herself.

This bill puts voters dead last, of course– because no vote will ever select the governor-appointed, solo-flying, unremovable superintendent.

An email from a Utah legislator who supports SJR16 argued:  “Think of the current state board as a school bus with fifteen different steering wheels all driving in different directions….if one person is in charge, it’s harder for them to pass the buck.”

If he applied that reasoning to his own seat in the legislature, then there should be no legislature, but a king instead.  And if the Senate gets the House to agree, and if the voters agree, then there will be an Education King of Utah.

It is up to the members of the House of Representatives to kill this awful bill  that the Senate has approved.  If they don’t, voters get one chance to end it. But will they?  Will we all take the time to look at the history surrounding this long-planned effort?

This bill may have been sponsored by the notorious Democrat Jim Dabakis, but he didn’t come up with the idea of eliminating elected school boards.  Blatant enemies of local control came up with the idea years ago and their ploy is ticking along even better than they’d planned.   See the GSV’s graphic below.  The “battle plan” of this investment company started with Common Core, and about ten years later, it planned to eliminate school boards. Utah’s leadership is listening to and acting on these plans —because of investment.  Because dollars speak more loudly than children do.

Look at two movers and shakers from outside Utah, who are shaping Utah policy in this direction.  One is a socialist and the other is a corporate hog.  Both are instrumental in changing Utah’s formerly representative system:  Meet Marc Tucker and Deborah Quazzo.

 

 

MARC TUCKER, THE SOCIALIST

To know Marc Tucker, simply peruse his report on Governing American Education, which says: “And the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education:  local control... much of the new authority will have to come at the expense of local control.

You can also study his infamous 1992 letter to Hillary Clinton, which was made part of the U.S. Congressional Record. The letter outlined Tucker’s vision of a communist-styled pipeline of education and workforce that would control individuals from early childhood through life.

It is a vision indistinguishable from Communism.  It is a vision that Dabakis’ SJR16 consummates.

Tucker was invited recently by Utah legislators to speak in Utah at a statewide joint legislative/school board/USOE conference held at Southern Utah University.  He’s also spoken at countless national venues, some of which are radical left-wing institutions: the Annenberg Institute, the Public Education and Business Coalition, the Aspen Institute, and state education conferences in various states.

 

 

DEBORAH QUAZZO, CORPORATE HOG

Less that a year ago, Salt Lake City sponsored an education-tech conference  co-hosted by GSV Advisors (an investment group) with Arizona State University.   Bill Gates paid for it, of course.  Former USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan was a featured speaker.  Ms. Deborah Quazzo,  founder and CEO of GSV Advisors, headed the conference, and was listed as “a prolific angel investor” who “leverages technology in the global $4.9 trillion education and talent technology sectors”.

She charged people $2,795 per person to attend this conference– just to walk in the door.

Above, you saw the graphic of Quazzo’s “Strategic Battle Plan” for GSV (and Utah politics).  Keep in mind that Quazzo is an investor, not an educator.  Her battle plan has nothing to do with what you or I as teachers and parents know is best for our children.  It is her openly, repeatedly stated desire to eliminate  local control by eliminating elected school boards.  

[As an aside, here is some context:  Forbes christened Salt Lake City the “tech mecca” of America, so now, ambitious, hungry eyes are on Utah’s ed-tech industry and school system and taxpayers’ votes.  Those hungry eyes care deeply about whether Dabakis’ bill passes.  From their point of view, voters and teachers and parents and children are a necessary annoyance, but they feel that our elected school boards are not: so, if  Utah eliminates “messy” debate and gets rid of the old time-consuming elected representation business; if Utah streamlines decision-making for the entire state, we will have created an ed-tech dictatorship.  It’s so very profitable to those (inside and outside Utah) who invest in the Common Core-aligned education system that Tucker and Quazzo promote.  If it’s hard to wrap your brain around socialism now bedding with corporate America, or of socialism taking over the Utah legislature, just revisit how this “elimination of boards” policy –espoused by the GSV investment group that is repeatedly in our state preaching to legislators– perfectly matches the communist “human capital pipeline” agenda of Marc Tucker.  Utah’s not utterly clueless, either; remember that Tucker and Quazzo were invited to this state to advise the once conservative legislators and businesses of Utah.]

How many mecca attendees last spring had read Quazzo’s creepy GSV document, entitled American Revolution 2.0, which echoes Tucker’s call for the removal of local control  and local school boards?  How many agree with it now– other than virtually the entire Utah Senate?  The GSV calls for the promotion of Common Core and the elimination of elected school boards.  What a strange coincidence that the Tucker-featured SUU conference also called for the same things.

In the GSV document’s “Strategic Battle Plan” Quazzo and company say:  “We eliminate locally elected school boards, recognizing that the process by which they are elected doesn’t correspond with either strategic planning or longer term results.”

Strategic planning for whom?  Longer term results for whom?   WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?  And what about the taxpaying voters who are to foot the bill without a voice in it?  What about the reasons we fought the American Revolution 1.0?  We wanted representation.  We wanted a voice in our own lives, not dicatorship by Mother England.  Do we want a dictatorship led by Mother Quazzo or Mother Dickson or Father Gates?

This bill of Dabakis, the consummation of Quazzo’s  and Tucker’s long-term scheming, must be stopped.

Please, please, please contact the Utah House of Representatives immediately.

Immediately!

https://house.utah.gov/house-members/

UTAH STATE REPS:

bgreene@le.utah.gov
mroberts@le.utah.gov
mike@utahlegalteam.com
anderegg.jake@gmail.com
ssandall@le.utah.gov
jeffersonrmoss@gmail.com
jeffersonmoss@le.utah.gov
valpotter@le.utah.gov
curtwebb@le.utah.gov
eredd@le.utah.gov
justinfawson@le.utah.gov
corymaloy@le.utah.gov
sbarlow@le.utah.gov
gfroerer@le.utah.gov
vpeterson@le.utah.gov
jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
dpitcher@utah.gov
kmiles@le.utah.gov
pray@utah.gov
mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
karilisonbee@le.utah.gov
bradwilson@utah.gov
stevehandy@utah.gov
thawkes@le.utah.gov
beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
dougsagers@le.utah.gov
rayward@le.utah.gov
sduckworth@le.utah.gov
shollins@le.utah.gov
rchouck@le.utah.gov
jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
angelaromero@le.utah.gov
briansking@le.utah.gov
leeperry@le.utah.gov
mikewinder@le.utah.gov
lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
elizabethweight@le.utah.gov
chall@le.utah.gov
kkwan@le.utah.gov
parent@le.utah.gov
markwheatley@le.utah.gov
csmoss@le.utah.gov
ehutchings@utah.gov
jdunnigan@utah.gov
lhemingway@le.utah.gov
kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
cacton@le.utah.gov
seliason@le.utah.gov
mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
kstratton@le.utah.gov
rspendlove@le.utah.gov
greghughes@le.utah.gov
jknotwell@le.utah.gov
susanpulsipher@le.utah.gov
loganwilde@le.utah.gov
tquinn@le.utah.gov
scottchew@le.utah.gov
kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
derrinowens@le.utah.gov
brad@braddaw.com
keithgrover@le.utah.gov
tseegmiller@le.utah.gov
adamrobertson@le.utah.gov
normthurston64@gmail.com
fgibson@le.utah.gov,
mnelson@le.utah.gov
christinewatkins@le.utah.gov
carlalbrecht@le.utah.gov
blast@le.utah.gov
jwestwood@le.utah.gov
vlsnow@le.utah.gov
mnoel@kanab.net
wbrooks@le.utah.gov

UTAH STATE SENATORS:

lescamilla@le.utah.gov dipson@le.utah.gov,
evickers@le.utah.gov,
dhinkins@le.utah.gov
kvantassell@le.utah.gov
lhillyard@le.utah.gov
rokerlund@le.utah.gov
tweiler@le.utah.gov
jsadams@le.utah.gov
hstephenson@le.utah.gov,
jwstevenson@le.utah.gov,
achristensen@le.utah.gov,
gbuxton@le.utah.gov
pknudson@le.utah.gov, curt@cbramble.com
mdayton@le.utah.gov
janderegg@le.utah.gov
dthatcher@le.utah.gov
dhemmert@le.utah.gov
wniederhauser@le.utah.gov
lfillmore@le.utah.gov
bzehnder@le.utah.gov
dhenderson@le.utah.gov
wharper@le.utah.gov
kmayne@le.utah.gov
jiwamoto@le.utah.gov
gdavis@le.utah.gov

–and our endangered state school board:

Board@schools.utah.gov

 

 

Dr. Thompson to USOE: Stop Lying to Legislators; UCLA Never Validated SAGE Test   1 comment

Thompson debate sl trib

State School Board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson’s tooth-and-nail fight against the Utah State Office of Education, a fight for ethical student testing and protection of student data –a years-long, ongoing fight– was completely omitted in the Salt Lake Tribune’s report yesterday about Dr. Thompson.

The Tribune stated that school board candidate Dr. Gary Thompson refused to participate in this week’s debate because “the one-minute-or-less response time… lent itself more to sound bites than productive dialogue”.   The Tribune failed to note that Dr. Thompson has fiercely, publicly debated education ethics for years: look here for video of his recent campaign speech  which called out incumbent Crandall; here for his campaign site, here for his blog, here for his famous offer to give $10,000 for evidence of actual validity for Utah’s Common Core SAGE/AIR test; here for his television appearance on The Blaze.

Last week, Dr. Thompson was infuriated when state assessment director Jo Ellen Schaeffer told legislators that UCLA had validated Utah’s SAGE testing, at the June 14th  interim education session, stating that this showed SAGE to be a valid test.

While it is true that CRESST has an office on a UCLA campus, CRESST is not UCLA.  CRESST is not a university; it’s a government-funded “research” group partnered with AIR  (remember: AIR is Utah’s SAGE testmaking contractor).  That’s a far cry from independent validity testing; it’s more like asking the the chef’s business partners to write his restaurant’s review.

That blurring by Schaeffer is no small thing.  It seems impossible that Schaeffer would not know what independent validity testing is, as state assessment director.  Thus, she must be unconcerned with the ethics of saying that a test was independently validated, when it never was.

snow

Representative Snow followed up, asking for evidence of validity testing.  The USOE returned a memo, not a validity report.  The memo stated that Achieve, Inc., Education Next, UCLA and Florida had given evidence of the validity of SAGE.  But it wasn’t true.

Dr. Thompson pointed out that alignment with NAEP testing is not independent validity testing on the SAGE test; the SAGE has never been validated.

He said:  “Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with ‘lies of omission’.  This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit-motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.”

Most people read whatever the USOE posts online about “validity” (without validity report links or any footnotes, of course) and just swallow it as truth.  But Dr. Thompson and others are holding the USOE’s feet to the fire, saying that children deserve better than to be experimentation subjects for profit-motivated corporations and the power-tripping federal government.

Will enough people wake up and vote differently, or at least call or email the state school board, to make a difference?  Phone: 801-538-7500  Address:  250 East 500 South  PO Box 144200 SLC UT  Email:  stateboard@schools.utah.gov

Thompson family

Dr. Thompson’s response to the USOE’s response is here:

 

Dear Ms. Sullivan [Parent who contacted Representative Snow],

I have read the Utah State Board of Education’s memo in response to Representative Lowry Snow’s inquiry, on your behalf, about his concerns regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  Here is a partial summary statement from the Board’s response informing Representative Snow, that the SAGE is indeed a valid test:

 “The validity of Utah’s Student Assessments of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) has been confirmed through a number of independent sources. The most recent studies include: (1) The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, UCLA (CRESST), (2) Education Next, (3) Achieve.org, (4) Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment. Each study substantiates both the high rigor of Utah’s standards and the validity and reliability of the assessments that measures those standards.”

As cited evidence of SAGE validity, the Board references “Education Next”, and “Achieve”. org”. Per the Board’s own memo, this cited evidence discusses  “high standards and state proficiency levels” when compared to the NAEP test.   This is not related to specific inquires regarding the validity of the Utah SAGE test.  As such, a response from me will not be forth coming.

I also will not respond to the Board’s reference to the State of Florida’s Validity study.   Several months ago, the Board used this same document to substantiate Utah’s SAGE test validity.   I sent a written response to the Board, and the general public, factually rebutting this dangerously irresponsible, and inaccurate claim. 

As you and thousands of Utah parents are aware, I am still waiting for a response.   The letter sent to Board Vice Chairman, Dave Thomas, in response to his spurious claims, was referenced and published by Utahan’s Against Common Core’s Christel Swasey. Here is the link: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-validity-part-2-dr-thompson-responds/

Thus, the only item left to rebut from the Utah State Board of Education memo, is its unexplainable reliance on a yet to be published AIR-SAGE validity study, produced by the federally funded, quasi governmental, UCLA campus-based research group, CRESST.

I am going to keep this short and sweet:  

Here are five (5) questions that you, Representative Snow, the media, and voters in Utah may wish to ask Board of Education Chairman Dave Crandall during his “debate” appearance this Wednesday, June 22 at Summit Academy:

 

1.  Why did the State Board rely on the research group “CRESST” as the primary source of proof of SAGE validity, without letting parents and lawmakers know that CRESST is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI)”?  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Center_for_Research_on_Evaluation,_Standards,_and_Student_Testing)

2.  Utah paid $40,000,000 to AIR, Inc. (American Institute of Research) to design the SAGE test.  Were you aware that the research group CRESST, which produced the “validity study”, is supported financially by, and lists AIR as “Partners” on its own website? (http://cresst.org/partners/)   Does the Board leadership consider this to be an “independent”, and unbiased relationship?

3.  Since 2012, were the Board and the State Office of Education aware that the current Director of CRESST, Li Cai, received multiple millions of dollars of personal research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and (you can’t make this stuff up) Utah’s SAGE test designer, AIR? (http://cresst.org/wp-content/uploads/LiAbridge.pdf )  How can a Director of a research organization produce an objective and unbiased validity study on the very group that has given him substantial amounts of money for independent research?

4. Why did the State Board of Education fail to inform parents that their children were taking a yet to be validated test for the past three years?  Is not such omission a complete and blatant violation of trust?

5.  Are you aware that Board placed hundreds’ of thousands of Utah children at risk of harm, and exploitation, at the hands of a behavioral research corporation (AIR), by allowing them to experiment on children without the informed, written consent of their parents?  Are you aware that this unethical practice is also against Utah law? (https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53A/Chapter13/53A-13-S302.html) “Activities prohibited without prior written consent”

When the Utah State Board of Education and State Office of Education produce an independent validity study, I would be delighted to devote professional time to review it at your request.  

In the meantime, the current memo submitted to Representative Snow in support of SAGE “validity” is clearly a deliberate attempt to deceive an esteemed member of the Utah Interim Education Committee, and only serves to highlight the unethical, unconstitutional, incestuous relationship between the State of Utah, and the U.S. Federal Government.   

Both the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education have a long, well documented history of providing lawmakers and parents in Utah with responses to inquiries laced with “lies of omission.”   This deceptive practice places public school children in Utah at high risk for continued psychometric experimentation, and profit- motivated exploitation via the hands of SAGE test designer, AIR, Inc.   I have no desire to debate current Board Chairman Dave Crandall in a public setting, until this serious matter of continued experimentation and exploitation of our children is answered in a clear, ethical, fact based manner.

In summary, given the clear and present danger this poses to 650,000 vulnerable Utah children, it is my professional opinion that you consider asking Representative Snow to seek an independent inquiry regarding this matter via Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.  It is my strong, evidence based, professional opinion that Utah’s education leaders at the Board of Education and State Office of Education, are more committed to adhering to the educational political “flavors of the day”, as opposed to providing Utah’s children with objective, science based solutions to serious education problems in our State.    

Please let me know if I can be of more assistance to you in the future.  Feel free to distribute this response to the general public as you deem to be appropriate under the circumstances.

Best regards;

Gary Thompson, Psy.D.

District 10 Candidate For Utah State Board of Education

www.vote4drgary.com   

 

 

Video: Alisa Ellis for State School Board – Speech at State Capitol Rally   Leave a comment

Alisa Ellis spoke at the “Elevating Education:  Common No More” rally on Saturday at the State Capitol.  She’s running against Dixie Allen and Jim Moss in the huge Heber-Duschesne-Lindon area known as Utah’s District 12.

Her speech was introduced by radio host Rod Arquette, who said:

“Alisa is one of the moms who gained national attention in their fight against Common Core… I look out and I see Christel and I see Renee and up on the stage, I see Alisa.  One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; I absolutely love that movie… it’s a movie about two scoundrels running across the Western U.S., being chased by a group of guys who don’t like them robbing trains and banks.  Paul Newman, who plays Butch Cassidy in the movie, keeps on asking himself as he looks at those guys coming after him, ‘Who are those guys?’ Well, I think when they heard about the Utah moms against common core around the country, people were asking, ‘Who are those guys?’  Well, they gained national attention and they were one of the early pioneers in the fight against Common Core.”

Alisa’s full speech is posted below the video.  My favorite part of her oratory was this:

“As the Utah Constitution states, it is my primary responsibility to educate my children.  The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job.  We even have presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who said that parents have “no role” in education! …When it came to discussing meaningful education policy with my superintendent, I was told that ‘we have no local control’. He even went so far as to tell Renee and I that our local school board no longer represented us.  He told me that he was tired, that he’d been fighting the fight for local control for a long time.  I told him that day that if he wasn’t willing to do it, that I would pick up the fight to restore local control in education.”

 

 

Elect Alisa Ellis to represent District 12 in the Utah State School Board!

Alisa’s got a four-year track record which her opponents cannot touch.

As the mother of seven children  –some of whom are home schooled and some of whom are public-schooled– Alisa effectively lobbied the legislature for the past four years, and has spoken across the state and outside the state, in cottage meetings and on radio shows, calling for increased parental control, student data privacy, real science standards, and for the hearing of the voices of teachers and localities in the fight against Big Ed (Fed Ed and Corporate Ed) –which is the fight against Common Core and nationalization of education.

Her opponents, including the incumbent, cannot hold a candle to her track record of effective, courageous action.

Her campaign site is here: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343457342383929

Full rally speech:

“Some may ask what qualifies me to run for state school board. I don’t have a fancy resume. I don’t lots of letters behind my name but I do have 7 children that no one but God knows and loves better than me. No one knows how to reach them quite like I do. No one knows their fears, insecurities, strengths and numerous other accolades quite like I do. It is my responsibility to see that they receive the best education possible. As the UT constitution states it is my primary responsibility to educate my children. The state’s role is secondary. Too often this responsibility is seen as the state’s job. We even have Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton saying parents have no place in education. This is wrong.

It’s time to put the lead of education back into the hands of parents as the founders originally intended and as our state’s constitution says.

I’m running for state school board because when it came to discussing meaningful education policy concerns with my Superintendent I was told WE HAVE NO local CONTROL. We have to do what the state tells us to do. He even went so far as to say the local school board did not represent me. He told me he was tired of the fight and that he’d been fighting a long time. I promised him that I would take up the fight for local control.

So what is local control? The local control I envision, involves much more than merely stating teachers have the freedom to choose textbooks. The local control I envision means that as a parent I have freedom to find a classroom in the public school that can teach the type of math, English, Science, History, Art etc. that I deem valuable not what a conglomerate of states finds valuable. I’m not trying to take away your right to have your children taught with ‘common standard’ but don’t take away my right either.

Imagine a system where parents can choose the type of education they value. Even with all the choices out there today there is still a centralization of control and power that is strangling the free market in education.
Imagine a system where teachers are given the freedom to truly teach.

There are too many regulations placed on the backs of teachers; too many mandates to meet; too many test to oversee and not enough time to teach. We need to allow teachers the courtesy we give other professionals and let them use their professional judgment to decide what methods work best in their classroom. In turn, we need to give parents the power to find the methods that best match their children’s needs. One size doesn’t fit all and one teaching method doesn’t teach all.

It is often stated that we have full control over our education. This is true. We do. But we aren’t exercising that right. We are continually, voluntarily following the carrot dangled before us either out of fear of falling behind, gaining or losing money or many other unknowns. Historically, this pattern has given us things like the unconstitutional Federal Department of Ed which in turn has given us a tongue twister of acronyms to manage: NCLB, ESEA, SLDS, SFSF, FERPA, AYP, ESSA, CCSS, RTT, RTTA, RTTD, GRIT, and countless other programs. I’ve spent the last 5 years in in depth study of these acronyms and the freedoms they take away from this district.
Recently, we had the opportunity to push back against ALL federal intrusion in to education but instead we codified into law President Obama’s blueprint of education reform in a grandiose bipartisan effort [ESSA] that will give the Department of Ed full Veto power over our state’s education plan and call for Family Engagement Plans. This is NOT local control.

We have come to a cross roads. It is no longer acceptable to go along to get along. We need leaders that are willing to stand up to the bullying that is coming from the federal Department of Ed. It seems that every candidate says they’re against Common Core but it has become an empty promise by most and I am here to tell you that it is not an empty promise with me. If elected I will do everything in my power to stop this trend toward nationalizing and corporatizing education.

Hugh B. Brown said,’One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong… We live in an age when freedom of the mind is suppressed over much of the world. We must preserve this freedom…and resist all efforts of earnest men to suppress it, for when it is suppressed, we might lose the liberties vouchsafed in the Constitution of the United States.’

I pledge to push back on the micromanaging come down from the Feds and state to the local districts. I would love to see local districts have more autonomy. I would love to see teachers be able to teach without having to jump through hoops. I’m tired of bad policy being blamed on poor implementation.

It’s time to bring meaningful decision making power back as close to the family and the community as we can.  I’m Alisa Ellis and I ask for your support.
Thank You.”

 

From Big Think Tanks to Individual Thinkers: a “NO” to NGSS Common Science Standards   2 comments

poli science

What’s the big deal about Utah changing its science standards?  Doesn’t “new” equal “improved”?

I have three items to share on this subject that come from other people, which I add to what I wrote in yesterday’s letter to the USOE Auditing Department, and then I’ll spout my own thoughts at the end.

1) First, I’m sharing an open letter of fellow Utah mom, Rhonda Hair, to the State Board, protesting Utah’s move toward inept common national science standards;

2) Second, I’m sharing a link to a review of the “science” in these standards by top biology professor Stan Metzenberg, published by Pioneer Institute;

3) Third, I’m republishing Alpine District board member Wendy Hart’s video alerting the public to the error of Utah adopting NGSS (also known as Utah’s New Science Standards or Massachusetts’ “new” draft science standards.

(If you want still more, read Utah scientist Vince Newberger’s blog, Science Freedom; see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards (they are as identical twins with one freckle different); watch the  video documentary to hear recorded promises of Utah legislators and board members who explained why Utah should/would never adopt federal/common science standards; read the furious report of parent Alisa Ellis who served on Utah’s parent review committee for these draft standards, read why Kansas parents for objective education sued their state school board for adopting these standards; watch the May 2015 public comment meeting in Salt Lake City about these standards, and read what Jakell Sullivan and I researched about NGSS many months ago.)

Then, contact the board:  board@schools.utah.gov !

——————————————-

 

  1.  FROM A UTAH MOTHER, RHONDA HAIR:

Dear Utah State School Superintendent Brad Smith, State Science Specialist Ricky Scott, and State School Board Members:

I filled out the survey and would like to let you know a few things.
First, I am frustrated with the survey: it reads like a scholarly paper and is inaccessible to so many parents who intuitively know what is good but are intimidated by its complexity and minutiae. As a consequence, only parents who have obtained high-level education are going to feel confident about filling out such a survey. Are they the only parents who matter? I’ve been told you keep hearing from professors that these standards are great. Of course they think that. Your survey and standards draft are aimed at people at that level, and they live in a fairly insulated world of theory and numbers, not regular, real-world jobs.
Last time you offered a survey to parents, it was of a similar nature. I attended the board meeting when the results were reported. My survey was not counted; though I did give feedback, it didn’t fit your data set structure. If I remember correctly, only about 70 surveys had been filled out the way demanded. That is because what you are asking about is not what the parents are concerned about. You are asking about the cabins and furniture on a ship that has been hijacked.

While I do object to some specifics in the standards, what is most crucial in my opinion is the overruling of parental control that the Utah Board and Office of Education have done, with the legislature’s blessing. I don’t need to spend considerable time reviewing the standards (though I did) to know you are on the wrong track. These things should be decided at the very local level, where parents and teachers can work together to address the needs, wants, talents, and values of the families and individuals. The state Constitution specifies the Board is to have “general control” of education, which means what can apply to everyone, not “detailed control”. Your predecessors overstepped the intended bounds.
Please help remedy the situation by dropping these standards, rejecting federal strings and intervention, dropping state educational core curriculum, and allow the resulting vacuum to be filled naturally by the districts, schools, and families.

Sincerely,
Rhonda Hair
Parent of Utah public-ed students and homeschool students, B.S. in Elementary Education

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2.  FROM PIONEER INSTITUTE:

Study Calls for Draft Science and Technology/Engineering Standards to Be Withdrawn

“Astonishing” gaps in science content too large to be resolved editorially

BOSTON – Massachusetts’ draft pre-K through introductory high school Science and Technology/Engineering standards contain such startling gaps in science that they should be withdrawn from consideration, according to a new Policy Brief published by Pioneer Institute.

“The proposed science standards have significant, unacceptable gaps in science content,” says Dr. Stan Metzenberg, a professor of biology at California State University and author of “A Critical Review of the Massachusetts Next Generation Science and Technology/Engineering Standards.” “For example, they are stunningly devoid of Mendelian genetics and large parts of cellular biology. This is an astonishing oversight for a state that has notable institutions of higher education and a thriving biotechnology industry.”

At the high school level, the draft standards almost completely exclude Mendelian genetics. These concepts are not easily absorbed before high school, and their exclusion means students won’t be exposed to ideas that revolutionized biology at the beginning of the 20th century.

Their exclusion also makes it impossible to understand modern evolutionary theory and for students to grasp their own risk of carrying inherited disease. Massachusetts’ current science and technology/engineering curriculum frameworks include three Mendelian genetics standards.

The draft standards also exclude large parts of cellular biology, failing to teach high school students about the nucleus, mitochondria or chloroplasts.

Massachusetts currently has a curriculum framework for each of the body’s seven major systems (digestive, circulatory/excretory, respiratory, nervous, muscular/skeletal, reproductive and endocrine). But the draft would include these systems in a single composite standard, reducing students’ understanding and lessening their ability to talk to and understand their own physician and make healthy choices.

The draft standards never mention the name “Charles Darwin” and don’t adequately develop the basis for concepts of natural selection, making it exceedingly difficult to address Darwin’s theory of evolution in later grades.

Finally, the way the draft standards are written is overly complex, using sometimes ambiguous or grammatically incorrect language that fails to clearly communicate what students should know and be able to do. This ambiguity causes difficulty in the later grades.

About the Author

Dr. Stan Metzenberg is Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. He has 20 years’ experience teaching biological science at the university level. He was a senior science consultant for the Academic Standards Commission in California (1998) and a state Board of Education appointee to the California Science Project (1999-2003), the California Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (2003- 2006) and a content review panelist for development of the California Standards Tests (1999-2010). He has recently assisted the ministries of education of Saudi Arabia (2010) and Qatar (2015) in training teacher leaders to use newly adopted science instructional materials.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

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3.   From Wendy Hart, board member of Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest public school district:

 

 

Thank you, Rhonda Hair, Professor Metzenberg, and Wendy Hart.

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And now, a few closing thoughts of my own:

ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The entire nation of scientists do not agree on a common core of science.  Why should kids be forced to do so?  Science is a quest.  Academic freedom to question with a fully open mind, matters.  NGSS ends that for schools.  NGSS’s vision of truth, including political underpinnings of “green” science, is the only correct science.

While some members of the USOE have pretended that the anti-NGSS people (like me) are anti-science people who would  force God and intelligent design  on all students, and that we would have public schools teaching nothing but the Old Testament as science school, that is not true.   It is the pro-NGSS people who want to limit truth.  They want the one-sided, politically charged version of science, slanted toward controversial “facts” being accepted by students as unquestionable scientific standards of truth; they want kids to believe that global warming and climate change is a fact, for example– even though in the real world of real scientists, that is a hotly debated and far from settled scientific issue.  They want kids to believe that Darwinian evolution is flawlessly true.  But that’s not what real scientists agree upon.  Academic freedom demands the continuation of these huge questions in the classroom.  That won’t happen with NGSS and the associated tests and curriculum defining scientific truth from a slanted perspective.

ON MISSING OUT ON MORE THAN JUST A FEW STRANDS OF SCIENCE

Beyond academic holes such as missing Mendelian genetics and missing math in NGSS, beyond the blind acceptance of Darwin and an overabundance of green-slanted “science” –there is an even bigger issue.  In adopting NGSS, we are losing the freedom to set our own standards in the future because NGSS alignment stifles and shackles us with common, aligned tests and common educational data standards that tag our students’ daily work.

ON THE LOSS OF CONTROL OF STANDARDS, TESTING AND PRIVATE STUDENT DATA

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of preserving the right and power of our local teachers, principals, parents, scientists, and board members to influence what is to be taught as truth under the banner of science.

Adopting NGSS, which are not being called NGSS standards by the USOE, but which are, in fact, NGSS standards, (see the side by side comparison of NGSS to Utah’s “new” standards )  is more than adopting academically debatable, “new” but not “improved” standards.

It’s a decision to shackle our students and teachers to a nationalized, common content that NGSS is promoting, and to shackle them to the testing and data mining of student attitudes about this politicized science.  This move makes it efficient and easy for centralized power-holders (NGSS, federal government, state government, CEDS-aligned researchers) who have no business doing so, to not only dictate what truth in science looks like, but what student “achievement” in science will be.  Why give them that power?

Note:   the official site for NGSS states: “To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole, without alteration”.   That is what Utah is doing.  Compare for yourself.

Opting out of standardized testing will not get around these problems, by the way,  since “embedded assessment” (aka stealth testing) will make every student using technology in any form, a data-mining gold mine, daily.

Please, wake up, friends!

We are, right now, putting Utah on the conveyor belt of politically loaded, pre-packaged “true science” defined only by NGSS, with matching SAGE tests (or the upcoming, embedded tests) to monitor whether our kids are buying their version of “true science”.

This grave error comes with  long lasting consequences.  It will be as immovable as any long-lasting, formative decision.  Long ago, we decided to build I-15.  Theoretically, we can put it somewhere else now.  But that is not very likely when the traffic (as NGSS-aligned technologies, codes, curricula, tests, teacher professional development, textbook purchasing and more) begins to barrel down that imperious boulevard.

ON THE WORD “NEXT GENERATION”

Big wigs have verbally crowned their crime against academic freedom with the glittering term “next-generation science.”  Some people fall for the term; it must be the next great thing with such a title; but NGSS buy-in is an  investment in long-term political and academic snake oil.  There is nothing modern and magical about this slippery snake oil  except the  very big marketing dollars behind it.

Inform your representatives and  board members that  you say “No” to NGSS.  (State board email: board@Utah.schools.gov)

 

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Update:  11/13/15

Vince Newmeyer reported that:

“Board members have been told that the October draft is the existing standards updated with just the good stuff from the NGSS. To support their claim then produced a spreadsheet called the USEO standards crosswalk… I have taken their crosswalk and researched it further. The results are:

One new standard was written (6.3.4). Two standards originating from the current Utah Standards were added (7.2.4 & 8.1.2). Some existing NGSS standards went through a thesaurus translation but generally without change in character. Some NGSS standards remain word-for-word. Six standards were formed by combining two or more of the previous NGSS standards. Most of the previously duplicated standards were removed. Only one NGSS standard (MS-LS1-8) is not found. see also http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Issues-With-Oct-SEEd-Draft.html http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Oct-Utah-NGSS-Side-By-Side.html

USOE Admits that they Seek to generally adopt the National Next Generation Science Standard

 

USOE now admits in the materials distributed to the board members related to the October draft of the (UT SEEd) Standards October for their October 8-9, 2015 meeting that “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.” A similar statement is found in the foot notes of the introduction pages to each grade level of the standards released for the 30-day public review. (http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/Revision/SEEdStandardsDraft.aspx ) As we have seen in this text that “most” means that essentially all of the NGSS standard concepts are found in the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” with little added.
More details are at my ScienceFreedom.org webpage under articles.”

–From Vince Newmeyer

 

U.S. Senator David Vitters’ Privacy Bill in Congress Can Protect Student Data   1 comment

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Ever since that dark day three years ago when I received a written response from the State Office of Education saying that the answer to my question was “No,” –NO to the question of whether a student could attend school to simply learn (as opposed to being tracked at school, as “human capital” by the state and federal SLDS and P-20w data mining systems, without parental consent or knowledge)  –ever since that day, I’ve been on a quest to reclaim our basic constitutional freedom of privacy, the right to NOT be inventoried like merchandise of the state.

A lot of other people agree that privacy and freedom matter.   But not all.   The big money in big data is so big; data is the Gold Rush of our age, not to mention to big control issue “datapalooza movement” of our age, making it difficult to overpower the big data lobbyists and their giant piles of fat money that work very effectively against moms and dads and non-monied lobbyists and activists like you and me.

Twice, for example, a Utah state legislator has tried to run a privacy protection bill for Utah kids.  Two years in a row it hasn’t even gotten close to getting off the ground in the Utah legislature.  Seems that money and power talk more persuasively than children’s or family’s rights, even in Utah.

But today many organizations nationwide are joining to support and to push forward Louisiana Senator David Vitter’s congressional bill that returns control of education records to parents on the federal level.  It’s big news.  See Breitbart, The Hill, Truth in American Education.

The bill summary focuses on:

Rolling Back Department of Education Regulations:

Ensuring Parental Consent in All Cases

  • The bill implements new, more robust guidelines, in order to protect student privacy, for schools and educational agencies to release education records to third parties, even in cases of recordkeeping.
  • These entities will be required to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Further, educational agencies, schools, and third parties will be held liable for violations of the law through monetary fines.

Extending Privacy Protections to Home School Students

  • FERPA does not currently apply to students who do not attend a traditional education institution, such as students who are homeschooled, despite some states requiring homeschoolers to file information with their school district.
  • This bill extends FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.

Limits Appending Data and Collection of Additional Information

  • The bill prohibits educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from Federal or State agencies through data matches in student data.
  • Federal education funds will be prohibited from being used to collect any psychological or behavioral information through any survey or assessment.

 

Organizations supporting Vitters’ privacy bill include:

  • American Principles in Action
  • Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
  • Eagle Forum
  • Education Liberty Watch
  • Home School Legal Defense Association
  • Women on the Wall
  • Special Ed Advocates to Stop Common Core
  • Stop Early Childhood Common Core
  • Arkansans for Education Freedom
  • Arkansas Against Common Core
  • The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition
  • Florida Parents RISE
  • The Tea Party Network
  • Georgians to Stop Common Core
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Idahoans for Local Education
  • Hoosiers Against Common Core
  • Iowa RestorEd
  • Iowa for Student Achievement
  • Kansans Against Common Core
  • Louisiana  Against Common Core
  • Common Core Forum
  • Stop Common Core Massachusetts
  • Stop Common Core in Michigan, Inc.
  • Minnesotans Against Common Core
  • Missouri Coalition Against Common Core
  • South Dakotans Against Common Core
  • Tennessee Against Common Core
  • Truth in Texas Education  
  • Truth in Catholic Education  
  • Utahns Against Common Core
  • WV Against Common Core
  • Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

 

Please contact your state legislators, board members and congressional representatives in support of this bill. 

Board@schools.utah.gov  is the email for all the members of the state school board.    Find congressional legislators and state legislators here:   http://www.utah.gov/government/contactgov.html
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P.S.      I often get asked why this matters.   Last week, for example, at the Salt Lake County Republican Organizing convention, people came up to the booth where I was answering questions and asked, “What information is being collected about my child?”  My response?  Rather than to point them to the National Data Collection Model data points that are being requested, I simply say this truth:  there are NO proper privacy protections in place; federal FERPA law was destroyed by the Dept. of Education, and we have no idea what information is being collected locally; we do know there is a database that we aren’t allowed to opt out of;  we do know that there are no prohibitions on the schools/state/federal government/corporations collecting as much as they can get away with.
We know that the National Data Collection Model invites and encourages schools and states to collect over 400 data points.  And we know that no laws currently prevent schools/states from doing so.  It is only good intentions and individual/district policy that is preventing an Orwellian data collection reality today.
We need to establish proper, real protections.  We need strong laws that establish that students and families, not the state/corporate/federal education forces, own the data and control the data.  We need opt out laws from participation in the database systems too.  We need to talk about this issue often and openly.  And the ball is in the parents’ court.  The boards aren’t fighting for data privacy.  The lobbyists are actively fighting against data privacy.  And no legislator will fight for your child until you demand that he does.
Ask your legislator to support Senator Vitters’ bill, and to write state laws that enforce these protections too.

CHILDREN’S FREEDOMS ARE AT RISK – UVU MAY 13th JOINT SYMPOSIUM – PLEASE COME!   Leave a comment

 YOU ARE INVITED TO AN AMAZING EVENT. REGISTER TODAY.

wendy alyson

  • What:  A day-long symposium dedicated to learning how to preserve freedom for children. You can –for free or almost for free– attend workshops, hear speakers, enjoy live music; have lunch while being taught by famous freedom fighters; watch the Operation Underground Railroad movie “The Abolitionists,” and mingle all day long with local, national, and international warriors in the battle for freedom for children.  This event is brought to you by a joint coalition of organizations concerned for children and family freedom, including:  Family First Utah, Big Ocean Women, Operation Underground Railroad, Constitution Mothers, Utahns Against Common Core, Utah Opt Out of Sage Testing, Eagle Forum, Locally Directed Education, and countless individuals who truly care about freedom for children.
  • Why: Because children’s freedom is at risk, both locally and abroad
  • When:  Wednesday, May 13th, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Workshops will be held at Sorenson Student Center, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT (park by student center.)  Evening events start at 6:30 at Ragan Theater at Utah Valley University.
  • Who:   YOU!
  • Speakers:   Band of Mothers – Joy Pullman – Big Ocean WomenJenny BakerOperation Underground RailroadTim Ballard –  KNRS’s Rod ArquetteFive Strings Musical Group – Senator Al Jackson – Juleen Jackson – Wendy Hart – Jared Carmen – Family First Utah – Heather Zahn Gardner – Parents Against Common Science Standards – Vince Newmeyer –  Utahns Against Common Core  – Constitution Mothers – Laureen Simper and Stacie Thornton.
  • Entertainment:   “The Abolitionists” – a documentary film about Operation Underground Railroad’s ongoing rescue operation that saved over 300 trafficked child sex slaves last year, in its first year of operation.  Free at this special event.
  • abolitionist movie    abolition poster
  • Also:  Five Strings Musical Group – a Southern Utah-based family of incredible musicians.  –Free at this special event.   five strings
  • Cost:  Free events include the evening speakers, music, and film;  morning workshops:  $5 for the whole bundle;  bring-your-own-lunch training costs $5;  eating the catered lunch with training included costs $15.
  • Space limited:  Workshops are held in classrooms and will be closed as soon as they are filled up on the day of the event.  First come, first served.  Ragan Theater evening events are held in a 400-person capacity setting; first come, first served.
  • PLEASE PRE-REGISTER.  Please pre-register even if you are only attending the free events by clicking here: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/symposium.  Below are photos of some of the people and presentations you’ll encounter.

 

juleen jacksonjoybomrodOURal jacksonbig oceanemily bopt out 2015heather gardnerjared carmen

 

renee braddygaylelaureentim speak

 

Please Show Up to Push Back on Science Standards at Statewide USOE Meetings Starting TOMORROW   4 comments

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The Utah State School Board —despite last year’s pushback, despite serious concerns of some of the state school board members–  is now moving to adopt national, common standards for science.  Watch this video to see the documented false promises by the USOE to legislators and local school board members, that Utah would never adopt nationalized science standards; this string of broken promises needs to be exposed and those breaking the promises need to be held accountable by our legislature and governor.

 

 

 

You are invited to the USOE’s public meetings on the subject, to be held statewide for a few weeks, starting TOMORROW.

Be forewarned: the USOE won’t admit that Utah is adopting NGSS.   To know this bit of information, you have to be in touch with those parents who served on the science study committee.  Utah indeed is (out of sight of the public) pushing for adoption of NGSS but the USOE claims that it’s only revising its old standards, and that the revision is limited to middle school science standards for now, so it’s not whole NGSS adoption, they say.  But do your research.  They’ve been caught fibbing more than once.  And they are fibbing now.

So, what are the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS)  and why should we take time fight them?

NGSS are common Science Standards created by businessmen and politicians at Achieve, Inc., aimed to make all students use (and be tested on) the same set of science-related standards nationwide.  Achieve, Inc., is the same group that pushed Common Core math and English into being.  (So if you didn’t love Common Core, heads up.)

As with Common Core math and English standards, states lose control when they adopt NGSS.  Achieve Inc., is private, so it’s not subject to sunshine laws– no transparency.  So right or wrong, good or bad, we’ll have no way to even know which scientific theories are being accepted or rejected, or what kind of lobbying monies are determining priorities for learning.  We will not be able to affect in any appeal to local boards, what our children will be taught or tested.  That power will have gone to the standards copyright holders and corporate test creators.  We have no method of un-electing those controllers, no way for our scientists to affect any amendments made in the ever-changing and politically charged future of science.

It is also tragically true that Fordham Institute rated NGSS as inferior to many states’ science standards.  Still, many states, including Utah, are adopting NGSS anyway– a sad reminder of recent history, when certain states with prior standards higher than Common Core dropped their standards  to be in Common Core.  It’s also a sad proof that the claim that “the standards are higher and better for all” was nothing more than a marketing lie, then for English and math, and now for science.

There are important reasons  that South Carolina officially rejected NGSS.

And so did Wyoming.

Kansas parents sued the state school board over it.

West Virginia is fighting about it.

It’s a hot topic in many other  states.

But do Utahns even know it’s going on here?  (How would they know unless they were personal friends of the parent review committee?)  The USOE won’t even admit that Utah is aiming to adopt NGSS!  To do Utah-specific homework on this, read this article.  And this one. 

Then come to the meeting.  The USOE is calling the new standards “a revision” rather than a wholesale adoption of NGSS standards, in what appears to be an attempt to deceive the people. Parent committee members opposed to the change, including scientist Vincent Newberger, have pointed out that one word– one– was altered from NGSS standards in Utah’s “revision of its own standards” and some NGSS standards were only renumbered, so that the proponents could feel truthful about calling these standards a “revision” of Utah’s prior science standards rather than an adoption of national standards.  The USOE’s open meetings are not, supposedly, to promote NGSS but are to promote what USOE calls a “revision of middle school science standards” only.

Parents need to take control of this conversation.

Ask yourself:  1)  Is this revision actually an adoption of NGSS?  2)  Do I want national science standards in Utah?

Answer one:  If you read what parent committee members are testifying, you will conclude that this revision IS an adoption of NGSS.

Answer two:  As with Common Core, we must push back against national science standards for two reasons:  control of standards (liberty) and content of standards (academics).

CONTROL

Although parent committee members on Utah’s “revision” team testify that the content is global warming-centric, and electricity-dismissive, and testify that the standards present as facts, controversial theories only accepted by certain groups; to me, the enduring issue is control, local power.

If we adopt standards written by an unrepresentative, nonelected, central committee– standards that don’t come with an amendment process for future alterations as scientific theories and studies grow– we give away our personal power.

Even if these standards were unbiased and excellent, we should never, even for one second, consider adopting national/federally promoted standards– because science is ever-changing and ever politically charged.  We are foolish to hand away our right to judge, to debate, to control, what we will be teaching our children, and to let unelected, unknown others decide which science topics will be marginalized while others are highlighted in the centrally controlled standards.   Would we allow a nontransparent, unelected, distant group to rewrite the U.S. Constitution?  Never.  Then, why is representation and power concerning laws and policies affecting our children’s knowledge, beliefs and skills any less important?

Representation is nonexistent in NGSS standards adoption, despite the token cherrypicked teacher or professor who gets to contribute ideas to the new standards.  Unless there is a written constitution for altering our standards so that we retain true control of what is taught, no federal or national standards should ever, ever be accepted.  Adopting centralized standards is giving away the key to the local castle.

Are these just harmless, minimal standards without any teeth or enforcer?  Hardly; the enforcement of the science standards is embedded in the nationally aligned tests, tests which carry such intense pressure for schools and students (school grading/shutdown; teacher evaluation/firing) that they have become the bullies of the educational system.

CONTENT

Know this:  NGSS are neither neutral nor objective.   This explains why pushback against NGSS is so strong in some states, even to the point of lawsuits against state school boards over NGSS.  NGSS standards are slanted.

It may come as a surprise that religious freedom is a key complaint against these standards.  This was pointed out by plaintiffs in the Kansas lawsuit, which alleged that implementation “will cause the state to infringe on the religious rights of parents, students and taxpayers under the Establishment, Free Exercise, Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

The legal complaint stated that “the principal tool of indoctrination is the concealed use of an Orthodoxy known as methodological naturalism or scientific materialism. It holds that explanations of the cause and nature of natural phenomena may only use natural, material or mechanistic causes, and must assume that supernatural and teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid. The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, 44 N.Y. Rev. of Books 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]

 

So, under NGSS, you can’t teach, as some scientists do, that evolution can exist alongside creationism.  Under scientific materialism/methodological naturalism, any “design conception” is invalid.

Other complaints against NGSS science standards are that they pit environmental activism against activists who want freedom to use natural local resources;  that they ask students to see themselves as either global warming believers or global warming deniers, to the exclusion of scientific inquiry; that they pit advocates of scientific open debate against advocates for scientific and political consensus-seeking; that they push the orthodox religion of atheism rather than allowing students to decide for themselves whether or not to include Creation in their personal scientific study.

Below is a list of the upcoming science meetings in Utah, where any citizen may come and ask questions and make comments.

Friends, we need to show up and bring neighbors.  If too few Utahns find out and push back, the NGSS standards will slide right in like Common Core for math and English did.  Please cancel your other plans.  Bring your video cameras if you come.  It’s an open, public meeting so recording seems proper and fair.  Recording USOE official replies to questions from parents can only encourage accountability from the USOE to the citizens.  If you can’t attend one of the meetings in the next weeks, please comment (and ask others to comment) on the USOE’s  90 day public comment survey link.

Before I list the meeting times and dates and cities, I want to share portions of an email sent out from a Washington County, Utah citizen to other citizens of Washington county.  I don’t know who wrote this email:

 

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Washington County Email:

“Washington County was settled by wise men and women who worked hard to make our red desert bloom.  They have passed down a wonderful heritage of hard work and love for the land to all who have followed them.  We are now reaping the fruits of the careful planning and preservation that has become a way of life to all who make Washington County their home.  We desire to pass this heritage along to our children so that the generations to come will continue to be wise stewards of this land that we love.

 

It is hard to understand why anyone from Washington County would allow their children to be taught a science curriculum that does not align with our value system.  Imagine how powerful it would be to teach our children the science behind why our soil is red, how ancient volcanos came to pepper our back yards with basalt rock, what made our sand dunes petrify, why dinosaur footprints can be found in farm land and what makes our sunsets so spectacular.  As our children learn the unique science of the environment around them, they will have greater knowledge and appreciation of the diverse environments around the world.  They will also come to appreciate the importance of being wise stewards wherever their paths may lead them.

 

We now have an opportunity to protect our right to teach our children.   The Federal Government has incentivized groups to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and those groups have worked tirelessly to get them implemented in Utah, and all states.  Please come and learn more about the NGSS from Vincent Newmeyer, a member of the NGSS review committee.  We will be meeting on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:00 P.M. at the St. George Downtown Library (88 W. 100 S. St. George).  Mr. Newmeyer is one of the review committee members who have great concerns about the NGSS.  These members are generously giving their time to visit communities to warn them about these new federal standards.

 

Directly following the meeting with Mr. Newmeyer, there will be a public meeting with the State and Local School Boards to discuss these federal standards tied to high-stakes testing onThursday, April 23rd at 7:00 P.M. at the Washington School District Office Board Room at 121 Tabernacle Street in St. George.”  

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USOE Public Feedback Meetings

All Meetings are 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 23
Washington School District Office
Location: Board Room
121 Tabernacle Street
St George, Utah 84770
Note: The main doors will be locked.  Access through the front side doors.

Tuesday, April 28
Uintah School District Office
Location: Board Room (Upstairs)
635 West 200 South
Vernal, Utah 84078

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

 

 

Common Core Science Standards Arrive in Utah This Week: 90 Day Comment Period Announced   7 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.

 

No School Turnaround: Unanimous Board Veto Request from Utah’s Largest School District – to Gov Herbert   2 comments

alpine page one veto

alpine page two veto

For  documented articles about why school turnaround is far from an innocuous concept, please read this and this.

Stealth Testing: An Unacceptable Alternative to High Stakes Tests   11 comments

stealth assessment baby

 

Senator Howard Stephenson was right when he said on the Rod Arquette Show  that SAGE tests turn our children into guinea pigs and that SAGE should be abandoned immediately, this very minute.

He was right when he said that it’s educational malpractice to use a beta-test to judge students and teachers and schools.

He was right in saying that it’s unethical to test students in January and February on content that hasn’t even been introduced for that school year yet.

But why was there no mention of privacy –or of parental rights to informed consent?  Why is that not part of his stop-SAGE argument?  Why is the senator pushing back against SAGE/Common Core tests now, when he never has done so before?  He could have helped pass Rep. Anderegg’s student data privacy bill, two years in a row.  He could have done so much to protect our children.  He did not.   The student data privacy bill is, once again, two years in a row, utterly dead in the water.

I do suspect, because of Stephenson’s infatuation with all things technological, that Stephenson is using the anti-SAGE argument to lead listeners toward acceptance of something  just as sinister or worse:  curriculum-integrated tests, also known as “stealth assessments”.   

That’s what’s coming next.  And stealth will hurt, not help, the fight for parental rights and student privacy rights.

A resolution just passed the Utah House of Representatives along these stealth assessment lines, called  HCR7.  The visible intentions of HCR7 are great:  to reduce the amount of time wasted on testing  and reducing test anxiety; to expand the amount of time spent teaching and learning instead of test-prepping.  Its sponsor, Rep. Poulson, explained in a KSL quote: “my family were small farmers and cattlemen, and I know just from that experience that if you spend all of your time weighing and measuring, and not feeding, it causes problems.”

Agreed!  Education for a child’s benefit should be its own end, not just a stepping stone toward the Capital T Tests.

But, but, but.

See line 66.  It wants to “maximize the integration of testing into an aligned curriculum“.  How?

The school system just hides the fact that a test is happening from its students.

The techno-curriculum can suck out a constant stream of personal data from the student’s technology use.  Assignments, projects, and even games can constantly upload academic and nonacademic data about the child, all day every day, into the State Longitudinal Database Systems —and into the hands of third-party technology vendors.

This concept is hot-off-the-press in trendy scholarly journals and books under the name “stealth assessment“.  Stealth is what Pearson (world’s largest educational sales products company)  is very excited about.   Philanthropist-lobbyist Bill Gates has been throwing his money at the stealth assessments movement.  NPR is on board.   (Dr. Gary Thompson warned of the trend as part of his presentation as he exposed the lack of validity studies or ethics in Utah’s SAGE test.  Also read researcher Jakell Sullivan’s article about stealth testing.)

As Dr. Thompson has pointed out, stealth can be honorable and valuable in a private, parentally consented-to, setting:  when a parent asks a trained child psychologist to help heal a hurt child, he/she can analyze a child’s drawings, how a child plays with toys, or how he organizes objects, etc.

The difference is informed consent.

The governmental-corporate machine is suggesting that legislatures force schools to adopt compulsory testing embedded in school curriculum and activities, allowing student data collection to be pulled without informed consent.

Do we want our students to be tested and analyzed and tracked like guinea pigs all day, year after year—  not by teachers, but by third party vendors and the government?

Stealth testing, or “integrated testing” removes the possibility for parental opt-outs.  I’m not for that.  Are you?

Why doesn’t anyone seem to care?   I repeat:  two years in a row Rep. Jake Anderegg’s student data protection bill has gone unpassed.  I cannot understand the legislature’s apathy about privacy rights and the lack of valiant protection of children’s privacy in this data-binging day and age.

I don’t get it.  Someone, tell me why this is not important in a supposedly child-friendly state.  It is known all over the planet that private data is the new gold, the new oil.  Knowledge about individuals is power over them. When someone knows extremely detailed information about individuals, they can can persuade them, influence them, guide them, help them –and control them. Children’s privacy, their data, is gold to corporations and governments. Yet they are not being protected.  Our legislators don’t think it’s important enough.  We can pass bills about every petty thing you can imagine, but we can’t protect our kids from having their gold robbed every single day.  I can’t believe it’s just neglect and busy-ness.  I think it’s greed-based.

Don’t believe it?  Study what the feds have done in recent years to destroy student privacy.  Search Utah code for any mention of students having rights to their own data, or ownership of it; search in vain for any punishment when data is collected without parental consent by schools or third party vendors.  See corporations salivating over taken student data –collected without parental consent by every state’s “State Longitudinal Database System”.

Look at this detailed Knewton interview where the corporation brags about millions of data points —soon to be billions, they brag– of data points, collected thanks to schools, but benefitting the corporate pocketbook:  https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/25/arizona-st-and-knewtons-grand-experiment-adaptive-learning

Watch the Datapalooza event where the same type of talk is going on– absolutely no discussion of parental rights, of privacy rights, of the morality of picking up academic and nonacademic personal information about another person without his/her consent nor parental consent:  https://youtu.be/Lr7Z7ysDluQ

See this recent Politico article that casually discusses Salt Lake City’s Cyber Snoops working for Pearson, tracking our children:   http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html

 

Our elected representatives, from Governor Herbert through Howard Stephenson through Marie Poulson through our state school board, are not demonstrating any respect for parental consent.  By their inaction, they are violating our children’s data privacy.

Utah is volunteering to give away our gold, our children’s private data–  out of naiivete, greed, or tragically misplaced “trust”.

There is only one solution that I can see:  parents,  we are the only ones who really care.  WE CAN SPEAK UP.

We can protect our children by pressuring our elected representatives at the senate, house and state school board.  We can tell elected representatives that our children need and deserve proper data privacy protection.  Tell them that FERPA is broken and we need local protection. Tell them we will not tolerate embedded tests in the daily curriculum and technologies that our children use.

Demand the dignity of privacy for your child.  Say NO to “integrated curriculum and testing”– stealth assessment.    Put these words in  your elected representatives’ inboxes and messaging systems and twitter feeds and ears.  Don’t let it rest.  Be a pest.  Silence is acquiescence.

Children and their private data are not “stakeholder” owned inventory.  Children are not “human capital” to be  tracked and directed by the government.  My child is mine.  He/she has a mission unrelated to fattening up the workforce or serving Prosperity 2020.   I do not think the legislature comprehends that fact.  

Maybe I am not barking loudly enough.  Maybe a hundred thousand parents need to be barking.

I’ll repaste the elected representatives’ email information here.

 

———————————————————————–

Write to the Utah State School Board:    Board@schools.utah.gov

Here are the Utah State Representatives.  

District Representative Party Counties Represented Contact Info
1 Sandall, Scott D. R Box Elder, Cache ssandall@le.utah.gov
435-279-7551
2 Lifferth, David E. R Utah dlifferth@le.utah.gov
801-358-9124
3 Draxler, Jack R. R Cache jdraxler@le.utah.gov
435-752-1488
4 Redd, Edward H. R Cache eredd@le.utah.gov
435-760-3177
5 Webb, R. Curt R Cache curtwebb@le.utah.gov
435-753-0215
6 Anderegg, Jacob L. R Utah janderegg@le.utah.gov
801-901-3580
7 Fawson, Justin L. R Weber justinfawson@le.utah.gov
801-781-0016
8 Froerer, Gage R Weber gfroerer@le.utah.gov
801-391-4233
9 Peterson, Jeremy A. R Weber jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov
801-390-1480
10 Pitcher, Dixon M. R Weber dpitcher@le.utah.gov
801-710-9150
11 Dee, Brad L. R Davis, Weber bdee@le.utah.gov
801-479-5495
12 Schultz, Mike R Davis, Weber mikeschultz@le.utah.gov
801-859-7713
13 Ray, Paul R Davis pray@le.utah.gov
801-725-2719
14 Oda, Curtis R Davis coda@le.utah.gov
801-725-0277
15 Wilson, Brad R. R Davis bradwilson@le.utah.gov
801-425-1028
16 Handy, Stephen G. R Davis stevehandy@le.utah.gov
801-979-8711
17 Barlow, Stewart R Davis sbarlow@le.utah.gov
801-289-6699
18 Hawkes, Timothy D. R Davis thawkes@le.utah.gov
801-294-4494
19 Ward, Raymond P. R Davis rayward@le.utah.gov
801-440-8765
20 Edwards, Rebecca P. R Davis beckyedwards@le.utah.gov
801-554-1968
21 Sagers, Douglas V. R Tooele dougsagers@le.utah.gov
435-830-3485
22 Duckworth, Susan D Salt Lake sduckworth@le.utah.gov
801-250-0728
23 Hollins, Sandra D Salt Lake shollins@le.utah.gov
801-363-4257
24 Chavez-Houck, Rebecca D Salt Lake rchouck@le.utah.gov
801-891-9292
25 Briscoe, Joel K. D Salt Lake jbriscoe@le.utah.gov
801-946-9791
26 Romero, Angela D Salt Lake angelaromero@le.utah.gov
801-722-4972
27 Kennedy, Michael S. R Utah mikekennedy@le.utah.gov
801-358-2362
28 King, Brian S. D Salt Lake, Summit briansking@le.utah.gov
801-560-0769
29 Perry, Lee B. R Box Elder, Weber leeperry@le.utah.gov
435-225-0430
30 Cox, Fred C. R Salt Lake fredcox@le.utah.gov
801-966-2636
31 DiCaro, Sophia M. R Salt Lake sdicaro@le.utah.gov
32 Christensen, LaVar R Salt Lake lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov
801-808-5105
33 Hall, Craig R Salt Lake chall@le.utah.gov
801-573-1774
34 Anderson, Johnny R Salt Lake janderson34@le.utah.gov
801-898-1168
35 Wheatley, Mark A. D Salt Lake markwheatley@le.utah.gov
801-556-4862
36 Arent, Patrice M. D Salt Lake parent@le.utah.gov
801-889-7849
37 Moss, Carol Spackman D Salt Lake csmoss@le.utah.gov
801-647-8764
38 Hutchings, Eric K. R Salt Lake ehutchings@le.utah.gov
801-963-2639
39 Dunnigan, James A. R Salt Lake jdunnigan@le.utah.gov
801-840-1800
40 Miller, Justin J. D Salt Lake jjmiller@le.utah.gov
801-573-8810
41 McCay, Daniel R Salt Lake dmccay@le.utah.gov
801-810-4110
42 Coleman, Kim R Salt Lake kimcoleman@le.utah.gov
801-865-8970
43 Tanner, Earl D. R Salt Lake earltanner@le.utah.gov
801-792-2156
44 Cutler, Bruce R. R Salt Lake brucecutler@le.utah.gov
801-556-4600
45 Eliason, Steve R Salt Lake seliason@le.utah.gov
801-673-4748
46 Poulson, Marie H. D Salt Lake mariepoulson@le.utah.gov
801-942-5390
47 Ivory, Ken R Salt Lake kivory@le.utah.gov
801-694-8380
48 Stratton, Keven J. R Utah kstratton@le.utah.gov
801-836-6010
49 Spendlove, Robert M. R Salt Lake rspendlove@le.utah.gov
801-560-5394
50 Cunningham, Rich R Salt Lake rcunningham@le.utah.gov
801-722-4942
51 Hughes, Gregory H. R Salt Lake greghughes@le.utah.gov
801-432-0362
52 Knotwell, John R Salt Lake jknotwell@le.utah.gov
801-449-1834
53 Brown, Melvin R. R Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich, Summit melbrown@le.utah.gov
435-647-6512
54 Powell, Kraig R Summit, Wasatch kraigpowell@le.utah.gov
435-654-0501
55 Chew, Scott H. R Duchesne, Uintah scottchew@le.utah.gov
56 Christofferson, Kay J. R Utah kchristofferson@le.utah.gov
801-592-5709
57 Greene, Brian M. R Utah bgreene@le.utah.gov
801-889-5693
58 Cox, Jon R Juab, Sanpete jcox@le.utah.gov
435-851-4457
59 Peterson, Val L. R Utah vpeterson@le.utah.gov
801-224-4473
60 Daw, Brad M. R Utah bdaw@le.utah.gov
801-850-3608
61 Grover, Keith R Utah keithgrover@le.utah.gov
801-319-0170
62 Stanard, Jon E. R Washington jstanard@le.utah.gov
435-414-4631
63 Sanpei, Dean R Utah dsanpei@le.utah.gov
801-979-5711
64 Thurston, Norman K R Utah normthurston@le.utah.gov
385-399-9658
65 Gibson, Francis D. R Utah fgibson@le.utah.gov
801-491-3763
66 McKell, Mike K. R Utah mmckell@le.utah.gov
801-210-1495
67 Roberts, Marc K. R Utah mroberts@le.utah.gov
801-210-0155
68 Nelson, Merrill F. R Beaver, Juab, Millard, Tooele, Utah mnelson@le.utah.gov
801-971-2172
69 King, Brad D Carbon, Duchesne, Emery, Grand bradking@le.utah.gov
435-637-7955
70 McIff, Kay L. R Emery, Grand, Sanpete, Sevier kaymciff@le.utah.gov
801-608-4331
71 Last, Bradley G. R Iron, Washington blast@le.utah.gov
435-635-7334
72 Westwood, John R. R Iron jwestwood@le.utah.gov
435-586-6961
73 Noel, Michael E. R Beaver, Garfield, Kane, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Wayne mnoel@kanab.net
435-616-5603
74 Snow, V. Lowry R Washington vlsnow@le.utah.gov
435-703-3688
75 Ipson, Don L. R Washington dipson@le.utah.gov
435-817-5281

 

Here are the Utah Senators (write more than just your own senator.)

 

District Name Email County(ies)
1 Escamilla, Luz (D) lescamilla@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
2 Dabakis, Jim (D) jdabakis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
3 Davis, Gene (D) gdavis@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
4 Iwamoto, Jani (D) jiwamoto@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
5 Mayne, Karen (D) kmayne@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
6 Harper, Wayne A. (R) wharper@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
7 Henderson, Deidre M. (R) dhenderson@le.utah.gov Utah
8 Shiozawa, Brian E. (R) bshiozawa@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
9 Niederhauser, Wayne L. (R) wniederhauser@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
10 Osmond, Aaron (R) aosmond@le.utah.gov Salt Lake
11 Stephenson, Howard A. (R) hstephenson@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
12 Thatcher, Daniel W. (R) dthatcher@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Tooele
13 Madsen, Mark B. (R) mmadsen@le.utah.gov Salt Lake, Utah
14 Jackson, Alvin B. (R) abjackson@le.utah.gov Utah
15 Dayton, Margaret (R) mdayton@le.utah.gov Utah
16 Bramble, Curtis S. (R) curt@cbramble.com Utah, Wasatch
17 Knudson, Peter C. (R) pknudson@le.utah.gov Box Elder, Cache, Tooele
18 Millner, Ann (R) amillner@le.utah.gov Davis, Morgan, Weber
19 Christensen, Allen M. (R) achristensen@le.utah.gov Morgan, Summit, Weber
20 Jenkins, Scott K. (R) sjenkins@le.utah.gov Davis, Weber
21 Stevenson, Jerry W. (R) jwstevenson@le.utah.gov Davis
22 Adams, J. Stuart (R) jsadams@le.utah.gov Davis
23 Weiler, Todd (R) tweiler@le.utah.gov Davis, Salt Lake
24 Okerlund, Ralph (R) rokerlund@le.utah.gov Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Wayne
25 Hillyard, Lyle W. (R) lhillyard@le.utah.gov Cache, Rich
26 Van Tassell, Kevin T. (R) kvantassell@le.utah.gov Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch
27 Hinkins, David P. (R) dhinkins@le.utah.gov Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch
28 Vickers, Evan J. (R) evickers@le.utah.gov Beaver, Iron, Washington
29 Urquhart, Stephen H. (R) surquhart@le.utah.gov Washington

 

 

 

 

 

Utah Legislature Adopts Obama’s Model for “Turnaround Schools”   14 comments

I feel as if Secretary Duncan and President Obama run education in Utah without any legislative or USOE opposition at all, ever.

Whatever is suggested on the education pages of Whitehouse.gov, by its federal education branches or by its corporate partnersends up in Utah as a law, presented to the masses as if it were Utah’s idea.

Tonight: guess what?

The Salt Lake Tribune reported  that tonight, Utah lawmakers passed a bill that “will assign rewards and consequences to Utah schools based on the state’s controversial school grading system. Schools who improve their grades will get funding and salary bonuses, while struggling schools will have the option of getting mentoring from school turnaround experts.”

Am I the only one reading this as:  Utah adopted Obama’s School Turnaround model?

There is in fact an Obama-led, federal school turnaround model.   There’s the federal “Office of School Turnaround” where states are assigned program officers. There’s a blue team and a green team.

Utah’s been assigned to the green team on that federal office of school turnaround chart.  (I don’t remember voting on this.)

In the chart where Utah’s listed for turnaround (see below) the Utah program officer is not yet named.  It says, “To Be Determined.”  The feds hadn’t assigned us a program officer before today.

They surely will now.

 

green team

There’s also a federal Center on School Turnaround (CST) that’s so much more than an office in D.C.  It’s a whole ” federal network of 22 Comprehensive Centers”  that boasts ” 15 Regional Comprehensive Centers… and 7 national Content Centers.”  The federal CST condescends to report  that states are allowed to play a role in their own school turnaround.  But not the leading role; that’s for the feds and the Comprehensive Centers.  In a report titled “The State Role in School Turnaround” we learn that some of CST’s goals are to change states’ laws and to micromanage turnaround efforts.  In their words:

“The Center on School Turnaround’s four objectives:

  1. Create a Pro-Turnaround Statutory and Regulatory Environment
  2. Administer and Manage Turnaround Efforts Effectively”

HowStupid.  Or.   Blind.  AreWe. Really!   –And how apathetic to our rights.

Friends!  Here’s our wakeup fact of the decade: our state holds a Constitutional duty and right to keep the federal government out of education.  We are failing in this duty.  Utahns are collectively–  even lawmakers–  either asleep, too busy or perhaps paid off by corporate lobbyists partnered with the machine, that we cannot notice a swift transfer of fed ed’s aims into local ed’s reality.

The passage of SB 235 is just one example of this ongoing series of terrible mistakes that cement our actions in line with the federal will.

 

235

The new Utah law calls for “turnaround experts” to improve low labeled schools using one driving method: tests.  Schools will be labeled by student performance on Common Core/SAGE tests as low- or high-performing.  Then some will be assigned a  “turnaround expert” to raise Common Core test scores.

How will Utah, in practice, select the turnaround experts? Will the experts be chosen from Obama’s personal list of school turnaround experts, which you may view, with colorful photos of each person, at  Whitehouse.gov?  Will these experts be taken from Bill Gates’ personal turnaround recommendation list?  Will they be recommended by the Federal Center for School Turnaround (CST)?  –Or by bigtime school turnaround advocates at the Über-progressive Center for American Progress (CAP)?

That famous turnaround group, the Center for American Progress, brazenly “disagrees that school improvement should be left entirely to states” and the Center has written that: “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control… new authority will have to come at the expense of local control…  local control is the source of many of the nation’s problems related to education.”

I am not screaming out loud because I’m saving my screams until this next paragraph:

This week, the Tribune reported that longtime Utah State School Board member Leslie Castle “expressed frustration with the political rhetoric that pits states’ rights against the federal government. She…  urged her colleagues to refrain from statements critical of federal overreach.

‘I am not going to be voting in favor of anything that plays to this nonsense that somehow our relationship with the federal government is crazy and something we’re trying to get out of,’  she said.”  -Read the rest here.

In the Utah turnaround law, the phrase “credible track record” is used to establish the person who will “fix” Utah’s low-labeled schools.  “Credible track record” is an odd choice of words because in the post-2010 altered education world of Common Core, there has been no track record required of education reformers.  There were exactly  zero validity studies and no empirical evidence to accompany the Common Core standards and tests.  If you didn’t know that validity and piloting were missing, read what academics and scientists have been shouting from the rooftops about the nonvalid, utterly empty track record of Common Core tests and standards: Dr. Christopher Tienken‘s and Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and  Dr. Gary Thompson‘s and Dr. Yong Zhao’s writings are good places to start.

Utah’s new law on school turnaround says that the experts who will turn around low-labeled schools must be:  “experts identified by the board under Section 53A-1-1206“. They must  “have a credible track record of improving student academic achievement… as measured by statewide assessments; (b) have experience designing, implementing, and evaluating data-driven instructional  systems…  have experience coaching public school administrators and teachers on designing data-driven school improvement plans…”

Translation:  the expert  solves problems by defining problems as test-centric.   The expert is solely devoted to test-focused, test-and-data-centric methods and will likely be devotees of Sir Michael Barber’s “Deliverology” method.  (“Deliverology,” written for American education reformers by a Brit, the CEA of Pearson, Inc., (the world’s largest education sales company) is a book/philosophy that  emphasizes results to the point that it’s called “merciless… imposing arbitrary targets and damaging morale” in its “top down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.”)   Deliverology is popular because it works– but only when ruthlessly applied.

FYI, our U.S. Secretary of Education has long touted Barber’s books and robotic methods.

But I have veered off topic.  And Utah’s legislative session is past.

Better luck next year.

 

 

closed

 

 

SAGE as Red Herring: Utah’s Stealth Assessment For Unrestrained Data Mining   16 comments

Goodbye, recognizable tests; hello, ongoing stealth assessments.

Using stealth rather than SAGE tests, states can cater to federal and corporate funders seeking metadata on children while appeasing parental and teachers’ uproar against the time wasting and anxiety of high stakes testing. Stealth (hidden) assessments  perma-test, but imperceptibly,  with assignments and activities recording data beyond the control of teachers and without supervision by parents.

Is this what Utah really wants?

Utah mom Jakell Sullivan’s deep, documented research reveals why Utah’s SAGE/Common Core test (as well as other states’ tests) are on their way out.   Parents who value their rights will want to read and share this article. 

Thank you, Jakell.

stealth eye two

 

SAGE Tests Are a Red Herring

by Jakell Sullivan

 

Utah’s Common Core Tests Entering the Next Federal Phase:   Stealth, Embedded Assessment  

What every parent should know RIGHT NOW about why we should Opt-Out of Common Core Tests AND aligned-online learning programs

 While Opt-Out of Common Core Testing campaigns are underway all around the country (and ought to be broadly supported by parents in a free society), Common Core’s testing “pilot” is coming to a close. The Federal objective was to use the pilot period of their Race to the Top Assessments Program to gather data on children, schools and districts and to train states on new technology systems—and set them up (and, yes, it was a real set-up) for what’s to come.

 

Now, Utah is ready to embrace the Next Generation of Assessments. Utah’s legislature is set to pass a bill this session to create a task force to get Utah out of SAGE testing, and a resolution to move us toward the fruition of the federal end-game.

 

What’s the federal end-game? It’s to get all states—and most importantly, all children in PK-12—using stealth, embedded assessments. These assessments are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the learning environment and are invisible to the user. Gaming companies have been using stealth assessment for quite some time, but they are relatively new to the PK-12 arena, and are now being federally funded.

 

Parents might ask, “What’s wrong with getting rid of high-stakes tests and using stealth embedded assessments that won’t stress my children out?”

 

The problem is that the federal government has colluded with global organizations who now have the power to, not only track untold amounts of data (personal information) on your children, but to use that data to control what and how your children learn through “personalized” learning platforms. And, the Feds want to assess much more than “did Johnny know how to add 2+2.” They want to measure what they call 21st Century competencies created by major multinational information technology corporations. These competencies include things like: environmental literacy (ie; does your child have the skills to understand that humans are causing climate change and that we need to solve this “real world” problem through population control?) and global citizenship (ie; does your child have the skills necessary to embrace global citizenship?). If you think this is a stretch, you haven’t gone to the Gates Foundation website lately, or heard him saying this to Germany’s largest newspaper last month, “We need a world government.”

bill united nations

So, what is the Federal Government doing with Bill Gates?

 

On May 12, 2012, IMS Global Learning Consortium and the SIF Association (the two leading organizations that create industry standards for technology) answered the U.S. Department of Education’s call to support the federal Race to the Top Assessment Program. The two organizations issued a Press Release which announced that they had created the “First Version of the Assessment Interoperabiity Frameworkto expand U.S. collaboration in interoperable assessments—globally.

 

IMS Global announced, “IMS is very pleased that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting acceleration of the open architecture for educational innovation that over 270 IMS member organizations around the world have made viable,” said Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive of IMS Global. “Achieving 1-click, data-rich connectivity of educational tools, content and apps with institutional systems is a game-changer that is now closer to reality via this grant and the anticipated ongoing collaboration with the [Gates] Foundation.”

 

When IMS Global says they are working with Gates to achieve “1-click, data-rich connectivity”, it means that they are about to use your child’s student ID like a social security number on steroids. As one friend who’s studied the data-gathering propensities of the federal government put it, “Imagine if anytime you used the internet you could be tracked by a number that not only was linked to your personal identity, but 100s of data points about you. And that most of that information was available to any website that agreed to use the same development standards.”

stealth eye

As mentioned above, 270 IMS member organizations around the world have already agreed to use the federal industry standards, and that number is quickly growing. What tech group, or nation, wants to be left out of the “new economy” being created by Bill Gates?

 

And, Utah wanted in on the action so much that they were part of the industry standard pilot! IMS Global announced, “To develop an industry standard for accessibility and interoperability of test items, [the] U.S. Department of Education helped fund the “Accessible Portable Item Profile” project. The Minnesota Department of Education led the effort, which included the states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Montana, Florida, South Carolina, and Maryland as participants and Michigan, Massachusetts, and North Carolina as observers.” APIP “allows for the transfer of assessment content between vendors.”

 

Question: Do parents have the fundamental right to know where their children’s curriculum and test questions are coming from? Do parents have the fundamental right to know that Utah is ready to help the federal government track our children into workforce tracks like socialized countries? Think the idea of workforce tracks being used in America is ludicrous?…see the Federal/Gates Learning Registries information below in the “more” section.

 

In May 2012, IMS Global and the SIF Association said that, as they had helped the federally funded SBAC and PARCC fulfill their federal interoperability requirements, they were helping to move states away from outmoded assessments and stood ready to “personalize instruction and leverage centralized professional development resources.”

 

From information I obtained, the Utah State Office of Education and other stakeholders were invited on a conference call with the Reform Support Network (a U.S. Department of Education network created to “help” states support all the reforms associated with Common Core standards) on Feb. 3, 2015 to aid Utah in the transition to stealth assessment. On the call, they were going to: “identify and eliminate assessments that are redundant or that do not contribute to teaching and learning” and to “identify the quality of assessments and move toward a better balance of question types.”

 

So, just three years after IMS and SIF’s said they were centralizing things, we see that our State Office of Education is coordinating with the Feds in the process of centralization. Learn more about the federal Assessment Interoperability Framework using Common Education Data Standards here.

 

What this means is that third parties, along with the federal government, can now control everything happening at the local school level as it pertains to learning—children’s learning and teachers’ learning. And, use that control to enforce almost any other federal reform or learning “intervention” required for children to be college and career ready.

 

Question: “Why do school districts, schools, teachers and parents, in a free society, willingly allow third parties to collect information about them and then tell them how to behave in order to meet federal mandates?” Doesn’t it appear that we are selling our children into a life of servitude and bondage all because we are unwilling to be self-reliant?

stealth four

There is MUCH MORE to this article. For those that want to read it, see below. But, for now, suffice it to say, that the Feds have us right where they want us.

 

Utah parents DO NOT WANT SAGE, and we DO NOT WANT big-data-gathering-tech-companies, being funded by Bill Gates and the Feds, to replace (or morph) SAGE with real-time, adaptable assessments in learning technology. In order to preserve parental rights, parents should demand that our children’s tests be designed and controlled at the school and district level, so that tests are fully transparent to parents. After all, aren’t WE the consumers of educational services in this country? Aren’t we the sole stewards of our children? And, are we accountable to Government or to God in fulfillment of that stewardship?

stealth

STOP Utah’s legislature from creating a Task Force to further grow K-12 stealth assessments. (Contact your legislators and Task Force Sponsor Senator Howard Stephenson in DROVES and tell them “WE DO NOT WANT THIS FEDERALLY-MOTIVATED TASK FORCE IN UTAH!”

STEPHENSON’S EMAIL: hstephenson@le.utah.gov / PHONE: 801-572-1038)

FULL SENATE ROSTER: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

 

STOP Utah’s legislature from supporting a resolution to use K-12 stealth assessments. (Contact Utah’s House members and Resolution Sponsor Rep. Marie Poulson in DROVES and tell them “WE DO NOT WANT stealth assessments in Utah’s K-12 ed system without parental disclosure and opt-in requirements!”

POULSON’S EMAIL: mariepoulson@le.utah.gov / PHONE: 801-942-5390

FULL LIST OF HOUSE MEMBERS: http://le.utah.gov/house2/representatives.jsp

 

STAND for parental rights!

STAND for our children and our children’s children!

STAND so that your posterity will know that you loved them with all your heart!

 

OPT-OUT OF SAGE FORMS CAN BE FOUND HERE. Learn how here:

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/p/sage-state-tests-faq.html

 

 

 stealth apple

 

 

HERE’S “MORE” INFORMATION AND RESOURCES, INCLUDING IMS GLOBAL GRAPHICS, FOR THOSE THAT WANT IT:

 

Stealth learning platforms and assessments (platforms and assessments that operate in real-time within the technology without a child knowing it) foster an education system where parents will have very little control over what our children learn and what they are tested on. Meta-data can be tracked through every key stroke, as well as facial expressions and behaviors through computer cameras, etc. And, the data collected from our children’s learning platforms will be used to control what and how their teachers teach, as well as what federal mandates will be placed on teachers and schools in order to make individual children “college and career ready.” (I used the word “make” because that’s exactly what the Feds are trying to do….force outcomes). The federal mandates will require “Response to Intervention” as well as redistribution of taxes and resources to aid centralization of our education system—and to profit the crony capitalists in bed with big government. (American Institutes for Research (AIR) controls Utah’s SAGE tests and is also in charge of the US Department of Education’s “Response to Intervention” program. So, whether SAGE exists or not, the data AIR collects through learning and assessment platforms will control what schools and teachers have to do to comply with federal mandates.

 

Here’s some background:

 

The US Department of Education, with funding funneled through the Education Testing Service, created the Gordon Commission to develop policy guidelines to help state legislatures change their education technology policies to align with Common Core Standards Metadata Requirements’—and to push states toward using stealth assessments.

(see Graphic #1 below)

 

Two key members of the Gordon Commission are President Obama’s former education policy advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was originally responsible for creating content specs for Common Core tests, and former governor Bob Wise. Bob Wise helped found Digital Learning Now with former Governor, and GOP Presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Digital Learning Now is profiting off of federal and state tech reform policies and Utah’s legislature is leading the charge in implementing all 10 of their digital learning policies.

 

The Gordon Commission published a report that said, “The Common Core Standards, and the rethinking of assessments that they are fostering, provide an opportunity to challenge [the] deeply held belief in local control.” Translation: “Parental rights mean nothing to us. We want to control what your children learn through stealth assessment and we are going to use your tax dollars to do it. Local boards will operate as subsidiaries of the Federal administration and eventually be regionalized so that we can further erode your local tax systems.”

stealth child three

The federal government funded the ConnectEd Initiative to replace textbooks within 5 years and simultaneously, the US Department of Education joined forces with IMS Global Learning Consortium and Bill Gates to fund open-coding specs for technology and learning companies. They used the Race to the Top Assessments program to get most tech and software companies to adopt open-free license coding specs that are interoperable across platforms—some nations have already adopted the specs.

 

IMS Global’s goal is to “Advance Learning Impact by Enabling the Open Foundation for Seamless, Agile and Information-Rich Educational Technology Integration.” Pearson wrote a Request for Information Response for the US Department of Education regarding which assessment programs the Feds should fund via Race to the Top Assessments (RTTA) to support this “seamless integration.” Their report states, “The RTTA program and state consortia adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have identified interoperability as essential in helping to maintain the feasibility and affordability of next-generation assessments.” It should be noted that Pearson plans to take over the United Nation’s PISA tests (tests that compare nations to each other) in 2018.

 

It should also be noted that the groups over Utah’s testing—American Institutes for Research and Bill Gates’ MeasuredProgress—have both adopted IMS Global’s interoperability specs, see member affiliate list here. (The USOE signed a contract with Bill Gates’ MeasuredProgress in 2009.)

 

 

IMS Global talks about a single student login like this:

“Achieving single sign-on and an overall seamless experience for students and teachers is a key foundational step for interoperable assessments across formative and summative environments….The open IMS platform of standards features the Learning Information Services (LIS) standard and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, both of which work in tandem with these federated identity solutions to enable single sign-on and reporting relative to specific individuals as required LIS and LTI focus on the data and service exchanges among cooperating learning related systems, such as assessment systems, learning management platforms, student systems, and learning tools.”

 

Page 37 of IMS Global’s report to the U.S. Department of Education entitled, “IMS Response to Assessment Standards RFI”, shows that they need Common Core standards to facilitate meta-data collection.

 

GRAPHIC #1:

 

Click to access ims-response-to-assessment-standards-rfi.pdf

 

 

IMS Global is piloting an educational GPS system that operates just like the GPS on our phones and in our cars. It’s called EPS (yes, it’s meant to sound like GPS), or Educational Positioning System. IMS Global describes it like this, “As with a GPS system, there must be a way to compare the current position (student progress) with a starting point (past academic accomplishments) and destination (future educational goal).”

 

They published an online call to tech companies and encouraged them to become part of regional data clusters to begin pooling the data they collect so that it can be further centralized.  In the call, they explain that “this EPS concept was put forth by StudentAlignment.com. President Obama released an Executive Letter from the Whitehouse which is posted on StudentAlignment or “EPS” Website. The President’s letter is entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Education Data For All Americans” and can be found here. Here is a student review of the EPS System and how it can create a student’s Learning Registry. President Obama’s letter highlights progress being made with the Learning Registry.

 

What’s the Learning Registry?

IMS Global’s website states, “the IMS Instructional Innovation through Interoperability Leadership Council (I3LC) of school districts and states has recently published a position paper that attempts to put some of the myriad projects and investments made in the last few years in the U.S. by the Gates Foundation into perspective. These initiatives include the Learning Registry (initially funded by the U.S. government, later by Gates), LRMI (Learning Resource Metadata Initiative) and SLC (Shared Learning Collaborative), now InBloom. These projects all share the notion that learning objects or progress can be referenced back to a common set of educational standards, and are generally complimentary, and perhaps even dependent upon success of the Common Core.” [note to reader: Although inBloom is defunct, IMS Global touts what they’ve done right and what inBloom did wrong].

 

So, lucky Utah, our Governor still thinks Common Core Standards have nothing to do with federal reforms, meanwhile, President Obama and internationalists are clearly using them to create Learning Registries on our children so that they will know what our children are learning and thinking at every step of the way through their education and beyond. Sounds exactly like the system needed to get our children into socialist-style workforce tracks. Ask yourselves again, “Why do Bill Gates’ kids attend a private school that does not use Common Core standards or aligned-assessments?” It seems obvious that we are creating a class system: some families will be workers and their tax dollars will be used to fund the companies of the elites who receive non-standardized educations.

 

Here’s a graphic from IMS Global about the US government/Gates Learning Registries. LOOK AT ALL THE DATA POINTS THAT CAN BE TIED TOGETHER FROM BIRTH TO WORKFORCE. It creates quite a profile on children and their families. 

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

stealth eye three

 

As mentioned above, Utah is an IMS Global APIP (e-assessment interoperability standard) Leader state:

“APIP: States & Suppliers Collaborating to Revolutionize Assessment”

 

“APIP has been under evaluation by both SBAC and PARCC since December 2010. The recent SBAC architectural analysis has indicated a key role for APIP. PARCC is currently performing its architectural analysis. The U.S. Department of Education performed an extensive analysis of interoperability standards for assessment in early 2011 that highlighted APIP as a good fit for the needs of RTTA.”

http://www.imsglobal.org/apip/JoinAPIP0612.pdf

 

IMS Global lists Utah’s involvement in APIP:

“Q. What efforts have been under taken to build accessibility standards for assessment content?
 Recent technological advances and the growing importance of—and unique demands inherent in— assessment drove efforts to increase the accessibility of test content for all students, illustrated for example by the requirements for the U.S. Federal Department of Education’s (USED) Race to the Top Assessment Program. To develop an industry standard for accessibility and interoperability of test items, USED funded the Accessible Portable Item Protocol (APIP) project. The Minnesota Department of Education led the effort, which included the states: New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Montana, Florida, South Carolina, and Maryland as participants and Michigan, Massachusetts, and North Carolina as observers. National interoperability and accessibility experts provided technical support. In December 2010 the team released the first version of the APIP standard, intended to make assessment content portable between systems and accessible to a wide range of students.”

http://www.imsglobal.org/apip/apipfaqs.html

 

Page 11 and 12 of IMS Global’s Report to the US Department of Education reads:

“The conformance matrix shown at the above URL is also significant because it relates to the critical issue of supporting assessment interoperability throughout an “integrated system of instruction and assessment” which is required to support the balanced assessment requirements of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and achieve the potential of Race to the Top Assessments. In order to achieve use of interoperable assessments throughout formative, summative, and intervention strategies, interoperability must go beyond item and test interoperability. Diverse digital learning content and applications must provide interoperable results reporting that enables a diagnostic student record created from data that comes from a wide range of formative and summative tools. And, interventions must adapt based on the same interoperable data.

The range of interoperability requirements to support the Common Core and the Race to the Top Assessments projects are depicted in the following series of three figures.”

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/rfi-response/ims-response-to-assessment-standards-rfi.pdf

 

Here are the graphics from Page 11 and 12. It’s clear that there are a myriad of ways that embedded assessments can collect data on our children.

 

Conclusion:

Everything at the local school level will be controlled by third parties and international organizations using stealth assessments to centralize and synthesize data collection (I’ll leave the reader to surmise who).

 

These global organizations will:


  • Track your children’s metadata through learning and assessment programs

 

  • Build data profiles on your children from preK-career (and into the workforce)

 

  • Send real-time feedback to teachers to control what learning “interventions” your child will undergo (making sure those interventions will pad the pockets of those crony companies in bed with the federal government)

 

  • Make it impossible for parents or local schools to understand who’s controlling the data that parents, teachers and local schools must comply with, and what kind of data is being collected

 

  • Potentially, and most-likely, push our children towards a globalist mindset where families, parents and individual rights are undermined so that children will support collectivist strategies for solving “real world” problems, ie; global government

 

stealth assessment baby

 

 

———————————————————————————

 

Even More Resources:

 

  • Pearson admits IMS Global tied to Common Core:

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/AssessmentInteroperabilityStandards_FINAL_111710.pdf?WT.mc_id=TMRS_Next_Generation_Assessment_Interoperability_Standards

 

IMS Global Announces Inspiring Action to Transform Education:

“Digital Assessment Transformation: Get the latest on the rapid transition to digital assessment for both summative and formative purposes and the integration of assessment systems and data with learning platforms. ”

http://lili15.imsglobal.org/

 

  • Technical working group members of the “Learning Resource Metadata Initiative” (LRMI) include Microsoft, Gates Foundation, IMS Global, and of course, Creative Commons.

http://teach1776.ning.com/profiles/blogs/department-of-education-working-with-george-soros-open-society-fo

 

  • IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specification

http://www.imsglobal.org/pressreleases/pr080303.html

 

  • Contributing Members, Affiliates, and Alliance Participants include: MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT, SBAC, Pearson, etc.

MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT

http://www.imsglobal.org/membersandaffiliates.html

 

Efficient and Descriptive Learning Object Metadata: And Essential Component of K12 Instructional Reform:

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

 

2015 Leadership Opportunities in IMS Global Learning Consortium:

Here are a few quotes:

 

” 1-click integration of educational apps. ”

 

“…syncing student information between SIS systems and learning systems,”

 

“…better support for assistive technology and serving as an actual rendering format (versus just an interoperability format – which is what QTI is) for the range of devices supported via the web. They are calling this aQTI. Some long time contributors, such as Educational Testing Service, along with some newer IMS Global member organizations, like Dutch Exam Board, Cito, TAO, NWEA and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are leading the way on all of this.” (So, Stealth assessment was the plan all along)

 

“…get to the next generation educational content interoperability. In less than one year we went from an exploratory meeting (hosted by Pearson) to an impleme

  •  in bed with the federal government)

 

  • Make it impossible for parents or local schools to understand who’s controlling the data that parents, teachers and local schools must comply with, and what kind of data is being collected

 

  • Potentially, and most-likely, push our children towards a globalist mindset where families, parents and individual rights are undermined so that children will support collectivist strategies for solving “real world” problems, ie; global government

 

 

———————————————————————————

 

Even More Resources:

 

  • Pearson admits IMS Global tied to Common Core:

http://images.pearsonassessments.com/images/tmrs/tmrs_rg/AssessmentInteroperabilityStandards_FINAL_111710.pdf?WT.mc_id=TMRS_Next_Generation_Assessment_Interoperability_Standards

 

IMS Global Announces Inspiring Action to Transform Education:

“Digital Assessment Transformation: Get the latest on the rapid transition to digital assessment for both summative and formative purposes and the integration of assessment systems and data with learning platforms. ”

http://lili15.imsglobal.org/

 

  • Technical working group members of the “Learning Resource Metadata Initiative” (LRMI) include Microsoft, Gates Foundation, IMS Global, and of course, Creative Commons.

http://teach1776.ning.com/profiles/blogs/department-of-education-working-with-george-soros-open-society-fo

 

  • IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specification

http://www.imsglobal.org/pressreleases/pr080303.html

 

  • Contributing Members, Affiliates, and Alliance Participants include: MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT, SBAC, Pearson, etc.

MeasuredProgress, AIR, ACT

http://www.imsglobal.org/membersandaffiliates.html

 

Efficient and Descriptive Learning Object Metadata: And Essential Component of K12 Instructional Reform:

http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/APB2-022013.pdf

 

2015 Leadership Opportunities in IMS Global Learning Consortium:

Here are a few quotes:

 

” 1-click integration of educational apps. ”

 

“…syncing student information between SIS systems and learning systems,”

 

“…better support for assistive technology and serving as an actual rendering format (versus just an interoperability format – which is what QTI is) for the range of devices supported via the web. They are calling this aQTI. Some long time contributors, such as Educational Testing Service, along with some newer IMS Global member organizations, like Dutch Exam Board, Cito, TAO, NWEA and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are leading the way on all of this.” (So, Stealth assessment was the plan all along)

 

“…get to the next generation educational content interoperability. In less than one year we went from an exploratory meeting (hosted by Pearson) to an implementable draft specification”

 

“…defining and authorizing a more robust set of outcomes or achievements beyond grades”

http://www.imsglobal.org/blog/?tag=learning-object-metadata

 

  • Big Districts Demand Interoperability Standards:

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.edweek.org%2Few%2Farticles%2F2014%2F12%2F03%2F13techstandards.h34.html

 

  • IMS Global’s Learning Analytics:

http://www.imsglobal.org/IMSLearningAnalyticsWP.pdf

 

 

 

ntable draft specification”

 

“…defining and authorizing a more robust set of outcomes or achievements beyond grades”

http://www.imsglobal.org/blog/?tag=learning-object-metadata

 

  • Big Districts Demand Interoperability Standards:

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.edweek.org%2Few%2Farticles%2F2014%2F12%2F03%2F13techstandards.h34.html

 

  • IMS Global’s Learning Analytics:

http://www.imsglobal.org/IMSLearningAnalyticsWP.pdf

 

 stealth kid

 

Video: Utah Dad Oak Norton’s Solution: 116 School Districts, Parents Empowered   Leave a comment

Utah Dad Oak Norton runs a yearly freedom-in-education conference and website called “Agency Based Education (ABE).”  At this year’s ABE conference in Provo, Utah, he presented an exciting, specific solution that could go a long way toward reclaiming local power over education.

He explained that if every high school in the state were to become its own district, rather than having 40 districts Utah would have 116.  This would almost triple the number of elected, local school board members, allowing much more personal, accountable leadership to take place.  It would mean that each board would be directly responsible to about 4,000 students rather than the current average of over 13,000 students.

Norton explained that empowering local parents by electing far, far greater numbers of them to local school boards, over smaller districts, echoes what the founders promoted, (which is exactly the opposite of what education reforms are doing today).

Jefferson said, “the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many…   What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body.”

This screen shot, from Norton’s presentation, shows the current Utah system versus what could be:

 

abe

The principles and ideas presented in this video could dramatically empower local control if legislators, encouraged by their consituents, would take notice.   Please watch and share this video.

Second Parent Member of Utah SAGE Test Review Committee Speaks Out   6 comments

This is the second in a series of posts to be added by members of Utah’s Common Core SAGE test’s parent review board.  Parent Molly Foster spoke out previously and is joined now by fellow mom Christine Ruiz as a SAGE parent review committee member who also wishes to set the record straight and to expose the objectionable aspects of the tests.

SAGE Parent Review Committee Member Speaks Out

By Christine Ruiz

In 2013 the Utah Legislature mandated  parental review of SAGE test questions and established what is now called the SAGE Parent Review Committee. It was a response to concerns that the computer adaptive tests could include biases or agendas that are objectionable to Utah family values.

 

Much has been written about the committee and unfortunately some of it has been misleading. Consequently many Utah parents are misinformed about the review committee and are making decisions with that ‘bad information’; decisions that affect their children.

 

I am one of those committee members and I’d like to correct the record.

 

The statute, 53A-1-603, is vague as it relates to our duties; “…a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.” Yep, that’s it. Talk about your nutshell.

So, here’s what we did and didn’t do.

 

WE DID review all questions (about 1500 each).

WE DID flag questions for a variety of reasons (grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glitches, etc.).

WE DID sign nondisclosure statements (agreeing not to discuss specific test questions and materials).

 

Now the important part …

WE DID NOT ‘approve’ the test. We were neither tasked to nor qualified to approve the test in any aspect.

It has been erroneously suggested that “…we all feel comfortable with the test” in an article by the Deseret News (Nov 2013). That’s a misleading quote from only one member of the committee. That statement was actually contradicted by another member later in the same article. But it’s no surprise here; we expect that from the media.

However, the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) perpetuated that myth when it plastered that same quote all over its SAGE informational brochures. We/ I expect more due diligence from USOE.

I never received a phone call to verify that I concurred and I suspect the same is true for the rest of the committee. It was either an act of deliberate deceit or jaw-dropping negligence to tell parents across the state that the Parent Review Committee gives its blanket approval of the test. Neither option comforts me in the slightest.

I shudder to think that some parents may have decided to let their children take the SAGE because ‘we’ said it’s okay. That’s on me and every other committee member that feels the same as I, and didn’t speak out sooner.

This myth and any others perpetrated in the future will no longer go unanswered by this committee member. That’s a promise.

Christine Ruiz

———————————————————

state statute 53A1603

(8)

(a) The State Board of Education shall establish a committee consisting of 15 parents of Utah

public education students to review all computer adaptive test questions.

(b) The committee established in Subsection (8)(a) shall include the following parent members:

(i) five members appointed by the chair of the State Board of Education;

(ii) five members appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; and

(iii) five members appointed by the president of the Senate.

(c) The State Board of Education shall provide staff support to the parent committee.

(d) The term of office of each member appointed in Subsection (8)(b) is four years.

(e) The chair of the State Board of Education, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and

the president of the Senate shall adjust the length of terms to stagger the terms of committee

members so that approximately 1/2 of the committee members are appointed every two

years.

(f) No member may receive compensation or benefits for the member’s service on the committee.

Federal Secretary of Education: “To Phase Out the Authority of States”   40 comments

Have you seen the new regulations that just came out of the White House?

Americans who see these must run screaming to legislators for protection against the Department of Education.

The new regulations declare that Secretary Arne Duncan will amend ESEA to “phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments… for a limited period of time.”

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

“Phasing out the authority of the states” has been precisely the point for every last one of Duncan’s promoted education reforms, from Common Core to Common Data Standards to State Longitudinal Database Systems to P-20 programs to Common Core Assessments to teacher and school evaluations.

It’s been the shared vision of non-governmental education reformers as well, from Marc Tucker to Michael Barber to Linda Darling Hammond to the Center for American Progress.

Utahns Against Common Core have been pointing out this phase-out of local authority for over two years. Others have been saying it for decades.

But fat cats (Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, School Improvement Network, Prosperity 2020, Education First, Pearson Inc., Microsoft) –each of whom wants to sell fat educational products to the fat, “uniform customer base of Common Core” (as Gates put it) will not listen, and will mock and scorn critics because they want to get fatter and fatter on the taxpayer’s dime.

Why does such a supposedly conservative state allow the educational authority of the state to be “phased out” –because of businesses’ greed and lack of care for our children?  Where are our children’s educational defenders when we need them?  Where is the action behind all the flag-waving speeches that we’ve heard, now, Governor Herbert, Education Advisor Pyfer, Senator Stephenson, Representative Powell?

Why doesn’t our Governor, our legislature, our state school board, lift a finger to fight for our Constitutional right to educational self governance?

I cannot understand the apathy and the complacency and the tolerance– even at the legislative level– of all reforms aligned to the Common Core.

Is it not tragically crazy that we, as a state, willingly allow liberties –guaranteed under the supreme law of the land– to slip so easily out of our lives?  We allow ourselves to be lied to by our leaders, who cradle these education reform lies in positive, appealing language, and only for one reason:  cash flow.   Not for our children, at all.

When will Utah, when will America, wake up to this devastation of liberty and education?

 

To Phase Out the Authority of States Screenshot

Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015   8 comments

An email sent to schools by the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) this week was forwarded to me.

It’s gross evidence of a gross circumstance.   The USOE decided that teacher evaluations (read: salaries) will be directly tied to Common Core/SAGE student results starting at the latest next fall (2015-2016 school year).

If teachers didn’t “teach to the Common Core test” before, they will now.

Their  value as a teacher is, by USOE policy, to be determined by SGP –Student Growth Percentile, meaning: the amount of Common Core -based “improvement” that students showed on their Common Core SAGE tests.

It’s a heavy, disrespectful blow to teachers.

I have learned of some teachers who outwardly nod their heads “yes” to administrations and boards but in fact ignore the Common Core standards, continuing to teach the children in their better way, in the same way they always had, prior to Common Core.

How will independent minded teachers survive this new blow?

I don’t know.

I want to remind everyone that many times the USOE has proclaimed that teachers and schools may teach in the manner that in the local, professional judgment, the schools and teachers deem best.  They say Common Core and its tests do not micromanage teachers.

How untrue that claim has been.

Actions speak louder than words.  The state-level threat of teachers losing pay or status, if a particular teacher’s students don’t speed along the Common Core/SAGE test chain, is an almost insurmountable, powerful micromanagement of Utah’s teachers by its government.

Why did Utah allow the USOE to evolve this much power over us?   The USOE, so monstrously staffed, so stuffed full of bureaucrats, consumes many of our precious education dollars but runs un-accountably –to anyone.  And the USOE has zero authority under the Utah Constitution!

Only the State School Board holds constitutional authority of Utah’s education, checked and balanced by the legislature which hold the power of the purse.   The USOE is a deformed, runaway growth, much bigger and heavier than its stem.  Think about it: corrupt though the state board’s election system has been, still, the electing of State Board members has been at least theoretically representative; taxpayers can vote board members out of office.

Not so for the USOE and it’s leadership and staff.  Taxpayers and teachers and parents have zero say in who gets to run our educational show at the USOE level.  We can’t un-elect the writers of that letter, nor can we vote out the vast number of fat-salaried appointees who boss around the teachers, principals and students of this state.

Just as the federal U.S. Department of Education has no Constitutional validity, neither does the USOE have any state-constitutional validity.

I wish school administrators, school boards, the legislature and especially the state board would respond to the USOE with a little spit and vinegar– in defense of teachers and in non-acknowledgement of the assumed authority of the USOE and its policies, schmollisees.

Here’s that letter.

 

======================================

 

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014

From: “Estrada, Christelle” <Christelle.Estrada@schools.utah.gov>

To: “ALL ”

Subject: [Secondary ELA] Clarification – SAGE and SGPs

Colleagues:  I am forwarding this clarification from both the Assessment and the Educator Effectiveness departments at USOE so that you can disseminate it to your fellow teachers.

 

 

Dear LEAs,

 

This E-mail is to clarify possible misunderstandings and up-to-date information in regards to SAGE and Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), and SLOs. The SAGE results for the 2013-14 school year that were released to the public on October 27, 2014 are valid and reliable assessment results.  The results create a new baseline for student achievement.   Educators and parents should seriously review these results and use the results with all of the other educational information and data to support students and assist them in improving their academic achievement.

 

We would like to clarify the relationship of SAGE results to Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and to Educator Evaluation in general. The SAGE results you have recently received may be used in all of the ways you have typically used test results to make instructional decisions, inform the school improvement process,  inform professional development, and evaluate programs; however, the 2013-14 SGPs are not calculated for the purposes of educator evaluation, nor to identify schools for focus and priority status under the ESEA waiver.

 

Business rules for calculating SGPs for educator evaluations are currently being developed by the USOE Educator Effectiveness section in cooperation with the USOE Assessment section. District representatives including Superintendents, HR Directors, Curriculum Directors, Educator Evaluation Liaisons and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to give input to these business rules prior to their implementation in June of 2015. These business rules will be used to generate teacher-level SGPs that may be used for calculation of a portion of the  educator evaluation as early as August 2015, although their use will not be required until the 2015-2016 school year.

 

Meanwhile, districts should continue to provide professional development and continue to build rater reliability in relation to teacher and leader observations. They should continue to implement their SLO development plans and make choices about how stakeholder input will be gathered and calculated. The Educator Effectiveness team continues to recommend that teachers of both tested and non-tested subjects learn how to develop and use SLOs to provide additional measurement information about student growth.  SGPs will be available for calculating student growth for the 2014-15 school year (they are also available this year), and they will be available to apply to educator evaluation in 2015-16.

 

If you have additional questions about these topics, please continue to contact any of the following for additional clarification as needed: Linda Alder atlinda.alder@schools.utah.gov<mailto:linda.alder@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7923;  Kerrie Naylor at kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov<mailto:kerrie.naylor@schools.utah.gov>  or 801-538-7950;   Jo Ellen Shaeffer, joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov<mailto:joellen.shaeffer@schools.utah.gov> or 801-538-7811.

 

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

 

 —————————————————————————————————-

app

 

Common Core Kills Love of Reading: Anonymous UT Student Teacher’s Story   5 comments

by an anonymous Utah student teacher
————————————
Last semester I worked in a first grade classroom as part of a class I was I was taking at Utah Valley University.  The teacher said she could do more teaching if she didn’t have to do so much Common Core testing, so she had me do the testing.  These children have 4 packets, 20-25 pages each, they have to get through during the year.   Part of this is a list of 100 words, 400 for the year, they need to know by sight.  As I was testing, one little boy he stopped and said, “I don’t like words.  I don’t like reading.  I don’t like books.”
My heart broke.
apple books
I went to our library here in town and checked out as many books as I could.  I went back to school every day and pulled him out of class to read just one book to him.   At first he was hesitant because he thought he was going to have to read to me. Eventually he relaxed and started enjoying.  He got so he would even turn the pages on occasion. We read one book, “The Red Book,” which has no words in it.  You make up the story yourself. When we finished I asked him if he’d rather read a book like this or would he rather have a book with the words already there.
He preferred a book with words in it.  This went on for several weeks.
book and kite
Then they had a reading competition in the classroom. On Friday whoever read the most books that week got to wear the pirate hat.  I came in one Friday and he was wearing the pirate hat.
I was thrilled.pirate
Since then it has occurred to me that I should talk to the principal.  How would he feel if someone came into his office and tested him regularly, and often, to see whether he is making any progress, getting everything done that he should do, etc.?  He would probably quit his job if he was under such testing regulations, and still they put these little kids through all this stress.
Stress-at-work
This teacher has eighteen students.  Within a week I could tell which six children were working above grade level, which 6 children were working at grade level, and which 6 children were working below grade level.  This was simply from my observations, not from any testing I was doing.  Six children took the assignments and whizzed through them.  Six children took the assignments and worked through them, but eventually they got there.  Six children got very little of the assignments done without help, and in some cases a lot of help.  Obviously, Common Core upsets me.  I’m sure there is some good there, and there are good intentions, but they are way off base.

 

Tomorrow at 11:00 – Protest Unauthorized Federal Enforcement / Support Children With Disabilities   4 comments

orrin

Note:  Event address changed:  Tomorrow, Thursday, 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City.

Senator Orrin Hatch –together with Senators from other states: Senators Enzi, Alexander, Burr, Isakson, Roberts, Murkowski and Kirk — penned a powerful letter of rebuke to the federal Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan last month. (Read it here.)

The letter is an example of how checks and balances are supposed to work in this country.  When the executive branch (Duncan) oversteps its authority, the legislative branch (Hatch) reins it in.  Great system.

One would imagine that Secretary Duncan might feel humbled by the letter’s exposure of his obvious violations.  The letter says:

“Please provide the specific statutory authority for each indicator under your Results-Driven Accountability Framework,” the senators’ letter states.  It goes on: “Please identify the source of funding and authority to use funds for your $50 million technical assistance center.”  Finally:  “Changes to the existing framework must comport to the letter of the law and cannot be made by administrative fiat.”

However, Arne Duncan has shown no intention of submitting to congressional authority.  Rather than apologize and retract, he’s decided to send a federal enforcer out to the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) to inspect compliance to his unauthorized authority.  This week.

Utahns Against Common Core is therefore hosting a protest tomorrow at 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City.

Please come.  Shy people are needed too.  You can just stand in the shade with your sign and sip a soda.  Loud people are needed as well: we can stand on the soap box (crate) provided and can state exactly why we oppose Duncan’s doings, and thank Senator Hatch for his letter.

The bottom line for me –why I’m spending time, energy and gas money to drive to Salt Lake tomorrow– is this:  when the federal government (and local state government enablers) step on my Constitutional right to control education locally because of money bribes or misguided faith in central planning,  I lose the power to run and care for my own local school(s) and the children I love who go there. 

I choose to stand up, show up, push back and say, “The buck stops here.  Don’t tread on me.”  My children can’t do this; it is MY responsiblity.  Please join me.

I’m now going to paste what Oak Norton,  of Utahns Against Common Core, wrote: 

 

Tomorrow: Thursday at 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City ). Invite everyone, especially parents and teachers of children with disabilities.

In a nutshell: Secretary Arne Duncan violated federal law seeking to punish state school disability programs, got caught big time, and a federal Dept. of Education official is here in Utah on a “routine” visit. Time for a protest.

What you are about to read should result in congressional hearings and Arne Duncan probably being fired as the US Secretary of Education.

Federal law sets forth certain things that can be done under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). No one may circumvent those laws. Only Congress can change laws, but because of the current Executive Branch’s agenda to bring states under federal control, grant-based regulations and mandates have increasingly been created by Secretary Duncan, in violation of the Constitution.

On June 24, 2014, Secretary Duncan circumvented congress and issued mandates for changes in the way state special education programs are evaluated. (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-accountability-framework-raises-bar-state-special-education-programs)

“To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.”

He then went on to explain what changes he is mandating.

Eight U.S. senators prepared a letter explaining the violations of law involved in Duncan’s action and asked the Secretary a number of very pointed questions. Evidently, Senator Hatch from Utah walked that letter into a meeting, interrupting it, to deliver it to Secretary Duncan. The senators’ letter is embedded at the bottom of this article.

In essence, the mandate changes the way the school funding game is played by suddenly announcing that historical NAEP test score data will be used retroactively to evaluate federal funding on schools that have children with disabilities. As the senators’ letter points out this is a very clear violation of the law.

Duncan calls this new framework, “Results-Driven Accountability.” It’s simply unconstitutional and illegal. The press release states:

“Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.”

Why are they so eager to tell states they aren’t meeting requirements? So they can enact more requirements. It’s the way things work for those in power. Tell schools they aren’t performing and then punish them with additional requirements.

Utah happens to be coming up short and is on the list of states that “need assistance.” The USDOE continues, “If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the Department to takeactions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient.”

So Utah is at risk of losing federal funds due to the feds moving the goal post and mandating, against the rules of the game, that teams retroactively enact the new rules. Suddenly the score that was 14-0, is 0-0.

Now I’m no fan of federal funding in any respect and I’d love to see it abolished, but until we are able to accomplish that, this is an egregious violation of the law and should result in Duncan and maybe others being short-timers on the hill for their actions.

NAEP was supposed to be for a common set of data between the states and was mandated to never be used for high stakes testing determination.

So what kind of “technical assistance” does the USDOE have in mind?

“As part of the move to RDA, OSERS [Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services] will fund a new $50 million technical assistance center – the Center on Systemic Improvement – to help states leverage the $11.5 billion in federal special education funds which they currently receive to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, OSERS will be working with each state to support them in developing comprehensive plans designed to improve results for children with disabilities.”

Because so many states were suddenly deemed to be below threshold (without knowing that’s how they would be evaluated), we’re going to see a new federal “assistance” center because obviously the states aren’t capable of educating children with disabilities. We “need” that federal help…  (Oh, and Common Core isn’t being pushed by the feds either, of course.)

Interestingly, Gregory Corr, the Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning at OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs), is coming to Utah *right now* to do some type of investigation. This is beyond normal. Directors don’t go to states on “routine” visits.  I understand he will be at the State Office of Education on Thursday.

Please come Thursday,  tomorrow: 11:00 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, at 230 West 200 South in Salt Lake City . Help tell the the feds to stop violating the law, stop violating Utah’s sovereignty, and stop messing with children with disabilities. It’s OUR education system. Bring your signs:  “Stop Fed Ed”  “Support Children With Disabilities”  “Defend Local Control”  “Thank You Senator Hatch”.

 

Legislative Meeting: Utah Discussing Adopting Founderless Version of U.S. History   4 comments

Today, right now, the unmaking of history is happening at the Utah State Capitol. I just found out now, via email.

Listen at this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&event_id=83651

So the Utah Legislature’s education committee is meeting now, listening to (among other things) the Utah State Office of Education’s reasoning for adopting the David Coleman-pushed, awful, transformed U.S. History standards for A.P. History.  These standards have come under extreme criticism for promoting a negative view of American accomplishments.  They deleted the necessity for teachers to even mention –at all– Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Martin Luther King, the Gettysburg Address, Hitler, and much, much more that is crucial to understanding American history.  The noble portions of history and vital facts simply won’t  be on the test.

It seems truly too bad to be true.

I wish some mom, grandpa, teacher, or professor were there, testifying, as this Texas mother did, that the state must absolutely fight, not adopt, these new history standards!

I wish that Sydnee Dickson, Diana Suddreth, and Robert Austin ( USOE officials responsible for promoting the new history standards) were elected officials –so that we could vote them out.  But they are plain state employees, so they stay in, reel in fat taxpayer funded salaries, and they are unstopped by the legislators, parents or administrators who have the power to stop them –if enough would just stand up.

So much is happening, so fast, to transform and deform our educational system now that it feels impossible to keep up with or try to rein in.

We have to try.  We have to educate and activate the necessary numbers of citizens to push our elected representatives to say no.

Please write to your representatives and  school boards.  Let them know that you oppose the transformed AP U.S. History Standards for our schools.

 

Here is the link to find your Representative:   http://www.le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

Here is the link to find your Senator: http://www.utahsenate.org/#

————————————————

USA Today published an opinion editorial— today– by Jane Robbins of American Principles Project on this subject.  I’m reposting:

AP EXAM ERASES U.S. EXCEPTIONALISM

Defenses of the College Board’s revised Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) Curriculum Framework have ranged from “it’s a balanced document” to “teachers will have flexibility” to “what’s wrong with a leftist slant?” None of these defenses should be acceptable.

To the “balanced document” argument, we say: Read it. A Pioneer Institute study by experts, including renowned Madisonian scholar Ralph Ketcham, describes the framework as “a portrait of America as a dystopian society — one riddled with racism, violence, hypocrisy, greed, imperialism and injustice.”

The origins of the framework have been traced to the philosophy that the U. S. is only one nation among many, and not a particularly admirable one at that. Every trace of American exceptionalism has been scrubbed; seminal documents such as the Gettysburg Address have vanished.

What about teachers’ flexibility? Will APUSH teachers still teach the vital content in their state history standards? Although the College Board (under duress) is erasing its warning that none of this state material will be tested, the practical reality remains that teachers won’t waste time on it.

The exam’s structure will encourage students and teachers to stick to the leftist framework. We’ll have a national history curriculum rather than state flexibility and control.

The College Board’s recent release of the previously secret sample exam confirms this conclusion. All sample questions are anchored firmly in the framework, even the pejorative language used to describe President Reagan. The sample exam makes it clear that if teachers want their students to score well on the APUSH exam, they will teach the framework.

So we’re left with the argument that the APUSH course rightly veers off into progressive territory (diminishing content knowledge in favor of “historical skills” and “themes” and embracing identity politics) because accurate history is disfavored in some university programs. If so, parents will want their children to avoid APUSH. The unelected College Board may decide to impose revisionist history, but its customers need not buy it.

Jane Robbins is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group.

UT Canyons District Teacher: “This is Why Teachers Are Afraid to Speak Out”   9 comments

Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis.  Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:

 

“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS.  Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.”  This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.”  This is the environment teachers have to work in.  If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”

 

Passed: Utah County Republican Resolution Against Common Core   3 comments

Below is the full text of the resolution that Utah County Republicans voted to pass, in opposition to Common Core this week. 

It will be interesting to see what Governor Herbert does with the mounting evidence that Utahns oppose Common Core.  Despite publically taking a second look at the academics, he has not taken any steps to get a second look at state  and federal data mining done in Utah, nor has he taken a second look at the actual governance structure of Common Core which seems far, far more important than the academic snapshot.  The governor’s still moving full steam on with the Common Core-promoting Prosperity 2020 and SLDS systems in this state, and has not resigned from his Common Core-promoting role in the  National Governors Association (that unelected, private trade group which created and copyrighted the Common Core.) 

Governor, is it time to start listening more closely to voters?

Utah County Republican Resolution

 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), adopted as part of the “Utah
Core,” is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of nationally-based standards and tests
developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and
unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core binds us to an established copyright over standards, limiting our ability to
create or improve education standards that we deem best for our own children; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
 
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits federal authority over curriculum and
testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-
building and data collection is federally managed; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural
(i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and
assessments; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core promotes the storage and sharing of private student and family data without
consent; using a pre-school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State
Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating substantial opportunities for invasion of privacy; and,
 
utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, Common Core intrudes on the constitutional authority of the states over education by
pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’, and if not adopted, penalties include loss of funds and, just as Oklahoma experienced a loss of
their ESEA waiver; and
 utahns against Common Core
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee and Utah State Republican Convention recently passed a
resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw
from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, the
Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other similar alliance, and;
utahns against Common Core
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor
and the State legislature requesting executive and legislative action.

Report on Jenni White’s Utah Speech   4 comments


jenni

Jenni  White of Oklahoma’s Restore Oklahoma Public Education spoke  last night in Midvale, Utah, to a clapping, cheering, energized crowd that included two  legislators from the Utah House of Representatives, Kay Christofferson and LaVar Christiansen, both of whom stood and spoke after Jenni’s speech to voice their support.

Feisty, hilarious, sassy and smart, Jenni White’s presentation explained that she and her group have been working for many, many years (longer than the majority of us have in Utah) to stop Common Core.  The bills that were written there never got heard, or only made it through one committee hearing, year after year.  It took hard work and dogged persistence to work the miracle that Oklahoma finally saw this year.  Her speech was filmed and will be posted soon.  Here are highlights:

What Oklahoma moms did:

1.  They didn’t just work with one or two legislators.  They emailed all the legislators, every week, with short, vital pieces of information to help educate them about just what the Common Core Initiative has done to schools, to student privacy, to teacher autonomy, to the voice of parents, to the power of local control of education.

2.  They showed up by the hundreds during the legislative session, wearing the green Stop Common Core t-shirts, and made it impossible during rallies for legislators to walk down the halls without swerving around green t-shirted parents and teachers and students.  They would not be ignored or dismissed.

3.  They sent legislative baseball cards, stop common core cookie bouquets, postcards, notes, legislator memos, tweets, emails.

4.  They held a “Hear the Bills!” rally to persuade legislators to at least listen, to at least let this issue have a fair hearing.

5. They did photo ops with Governor Fallin, wearing the green t-shirts, even before she had decided to stand against Common Core.

6. They had meetings statewide, educating the public, asking the public to call their legislators and tell them they wanted Common Core to be repealed and replaced with better standards like Massachusetts had prior to the Common Core-ing of America.

7. They stuck together, not allowing infighting or small disagreements to break apart their coalition of parents, teachers and citizens who wanted Common Core to go away.

Since the Oklahoma miracle, some pro-Core advocates such as Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrelli, (a financial beneficiary of Bill Gates, of course) have tried to spin the Oklahoma miracle of repealing Common Core as a disaster, saying that Oklahoma teachers have no idea what to teach right now.

The indomitable Jenni White, rather than shrink under his arrogance and criticism, happily invited Petrelli to Oklahoma for an open debate and discussion on this subject.

Petrelli has accepted, according to his Twitter feed.

Thank you, Oklahoma!  We love you!

green

 

 

Oklahoma Powerhouse Mom to Speak at Free Utah Event   3 comments

jenni
Wouldn’t you love to hear the story –directly from an Oklahoma mom– of how a few Oklahoma parents influenced the governor and legislature to boot the entire Common Core out of Oklahoma? 


Now you can!  Clear your calendar: come hear the incredible Jenni White, from Restore Oklahoma Public Education, who will speak on Thursday, September 11th at 7679 South Main Street in Midvale, Utah at 7:00 PM. 

The event is free and open to all.

Jenni White, mother and former teacher, has been involved in fighting the Common Core Agenda in Oklahoma for years. Jenni has been featured on Glenn Beck, Fox News and multiple national media outlets.  See you there!

Mike Lee: Abolish Common Core   Leave a comment

Members Of Congress Call For Congressional Approval For Future Afghan Missions

 

Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee is taking a powerful stand against Common Core.  Lee has joined with FreedomWorks to try to eradicate the Common Core.

“The next generation of Americans doesn’t need to be force-fed big government propaganda in the classroom,” said Lee.   “If they’re allowed to stay, Common Core standards will be the Obamacare of education.”

Sen. Lee stands with many on both the left and right sides of the political aisle against Common Core.  It’s still uncertain whether Lee’s own Governor Herbert of Utah will ever take a clear and unmistakable stand against Common Core. (In other states we see many governors who do firmly oppose Common Core:  Louisiana’s Gov. Jindahl, Texas Gov. Perry, Indiana Gov. Pence,  South Carolina Gov. Haley, Oklahoma Gov. Fallin, Wisconsin Gov. Walker, Maine Gov. LePage, Indiana Gov.  Pence, Alabama Gov. Bentley.  This is interesting considering the fact that the National Governors’ Association is the group that co-founded and copyrighted the Common Core under the funding of Bill Gates.)

Read the Newmax report here.  And read the email on which the Newsmax story is based, here:

It’s time to end Common Core.As a U.S. Senator, I’ve seen the federal government make a mess of everything it touches. And if they’re allowed to stay, Common Core standards will be the ObamaCare of education.Common Core is the DC takeover of our school system. It will dumb down standards and cheapen the education our children receive. But my friends at FreedomWorks are fighting back – their activists are working around-the-clock to take back their local schools.Just this year, Common Core was repealed in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Missouri thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists.

I stand with FreedomWorks and grassroots Americans against Common Core. And I’ve seen their plan to make this Common Core’s last school year. But if they’re going to kick it off, they need to raise $250k in the next 7 days. I stand with them. And I need YOU to join me.

As a father of three, the last thing I want for my kids is a one-size-fits-all education system created in Washington. My kids deserve better. Your kids deserve better. They deserve the best education in the world. And the only way we can make that happen is to repeal Common Core across America.

There’s nothing more powerful in America than dedicated parents coming together to create a better future for their children. That’s why moms and dads are getting active, speaking out at their local school boards, and kicking Common Core out of the classroom. FreedomWorks is mobilizing this incredible energy and they plan to defeat the education takeover.

I’m asking you to help FreedomWorks defeat Common Core with a donation of $5.

When it comes to education, the future of our country is on the line. The next generation of Americans doesn’t need to be force-fed big government propaganda in the classroom. They should be learning real American history, and why our sacred heritage makes this the greatest nation in the world.

Common Core does away with that. That’s why it must be stopped.

We are running out of time to make Common Core history. Activists need the tools to win this year. And you can play a big part in saving our children from another big government disaster.

In Liberty,

Senator Mike Lee

 

Voice Your Concerns! Gov Herbert’s Common Core Survey Ends August 31st   4 comments

CALL TO ACTION: UTAHNS, VOICE YOUR CONCERNS!

herbert

Governor Herbert has asked for feedback on the Common Core Standards.  Send him an overwhelming, undeniable message that the standards are strongly opposed by going to the Governor’s special website to take a Common Core survey.  The survey ends on August 31st, 2014. 

Please ADD YOUR VOICE.  Here’s the link to the survey: http://www.utah.gov/governor/priorities/education.html

This is something every person can do to make a difference.  If every person on the UACC petition list (over 11,000) will post comments,  and if every person asks his spouse/student/parent/grandparent/neighbor to do so, it will send a loud and clear message that opposition is building.

Don’t spend too much time on it.  Just get it done.  You don’t have to be a standards expert to have experience and an important opinion.   This survey is asking for the average Utahn to voice his or her feelings about Common Core.

Feel free to quote the experts in your commentary–  Dr. James Milgram, who served on the official validation committee for the Common Core math standards and refused to sign off on their academic legitimacy, should not be ignored by the Utah State School Board.  Read his comments on Common Core math standards here.  Sandra Stotsky, who served on the official validation committee for the Common Core English Language Arts standards and refused to sign off on their academic legitimacy, should not be ignored by the Utah State School Board.  Read her comments on the Common Core English standards here.    You can also read a Common Core 101 post with links to obvious, damning research here.

If the Governor gets few responses, his pro-Common Core standards review committee will take it to mean that most Utahns accept or approve of Common Core.

 

Video and Photos: Utah Protesters Outside State School Board Meeting   3 comments

common core protest four

common core protest teacherscommon core protest fivecommon core protest three

common core moms of heber
Yesterday, Utah’s Stop Common Core folks followed the example of Oklahoma and Maine, wearing grass-green T-shirts for a protest held in Salt Lake City outside the offices of the Utah State School Board.

Trucks honked, kids danced, families waved signs. Honestly, it was fun.   A teenage protester (who was dancing with his “My Education is Not Your Experiment” sign) said he thought we were “pretty amateur protesters”.  We are!  Next time, we need soap boxes, megaphones for the cheerleaders, and a lot more people.

Two thousand people had signed the letter asking the board not to renew the federal waiver, in just 24 hours.  But they didn’t all show up in person at the protest.  Neither did the almost 12,000 people who have signed the Utahns Against Common Core petition.

Still, so many green shirts packed the public meeting of the board after the protest  that two hallways outside the meeting were filled with green shirts, as well as the whole board room being filled and encircled by standing green shirts who could not find seats.  The testimonies were incredible.  Anyone without an already hardened heart would have been moved.  I wish I could give you a link to hear what was spoken.

The vote didn’t go our way.   The board signed the federal waiver that further cemented Utah to Common Core and continued the  illusion (a bluff by the federal Dept. of Ed) that there is any authority for D.C. to tell Utah what to do in our schools.

Continuing Utah’s relationship with the federal waiver means that we are two steps away from removing Common Core, rather than just one.  (This is because in order to get the federal waiver, Utah had to promise to do option A (common core) or option B (the also-unacceptable, unconstitutional  delegation  of state board authority to higher ed authorities).

A few board members had tried to sway the vote:  Jeff Moss and Heather Groom, and possibly one or two others.  We appreciate their efforts.  But except for adding some language that affirmed the board’s wish to be sovereign over Utah’s standards, the waiver application got signed and sent to D.C. without hearing the parents and teachers who pleaded and testified against this move.

If you still don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong on this issue, consider the motivations and rewards of those who are asking for renewal of the federal waiver and Common Core, verus those who are asking for cessation of the federal waiver and Common Core.  It’s pretty revealing to note that the letter to the board from Utah’s Chamber of Commerce members, favoring federal waiver renewal, was authored by Rich Kendall (the governor’s appointee to supposedly study whether Common Core is good or not) –who is a Gates grant recipient as an Education First member, and who is also a Common Core advocate as a Prosperity 2020 leading member.  Remember that Gates is THE main financier of the whole Common Core and Common Data agenda.   How can Rich Kendall be both an advocate for, and an impartial judge of Common Core?  How can business people, directly making money from the implementation of Common Core, pretend to be objective in this discussion?  How can the state school board take these people as credible witnesses?

There’s always the chance that D.C. will reject Utah’s waiver application as it did Washington’s.  Then we’ll only be one step away from the possible removal of Common Core.

 

 

 

More articles, videos and photos of yesterday’s protest and the school board’s vote:

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58276195-78/utah-waiver-board-state.html.csp

FOX NEWS – http://fox13now.com/2014/08/08/common-core-under-fire-at-utah-state-board-of-education-meeting/

DESERET NEWS – http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865608431/State-School-Board-approves-extension-of-NCLB-waiver.html

Dr. Gary Thompson: On the State Board of Education Meeting   1 comment

Dr Thompson

 

Dr. Gary Thompson is a rock star.

Despite his shy nature, he’s one of the loudest, smartest, funniest and most fearless fighters in the quest to protect children and to expose the widespread education-establishment corruption called Common Core.

He actually fights.  Actually cares.  Is not in it for money.

He’s not one of the politicorporate bad guys who use the pretense of “doing what’s best for the children” as a facade for just the opposite– to gain power, prestige and money at children’s expense.  (I’m talking about:  Pearson Education/Bill Gates/Arne Duncan/A.I.R./Chambers of Commerce/Marc Tucker/ Obama/ CCSSO, etc. etc. –as well as those who sustain the bad guys’ club, promoting Common Core and student data mining and teacher redistribution– yes, yes, the education folk whom we’ve elected or appointed even here in Utah.)

Dr. Thompson is a Utah doctor of clinical psychology and a very vocal advocate for children’s protection –from data mining, from excessive high-stakes testing and from age-inappropriate educational standards.

He’s given me permission to post his notes here, which were directed to the Utah State School board and State Office of Education.  Thanks, Dr. Thompson.

 

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From July 18, 2014:

 

In a public hearing yesterday Utah State Board members debated the issue of going back to the “old” (“No Child Left Behind”) or pushing forward with the developmentally inappropriate Common Core.

debra roberts   State Board Member Debra Roberts stated –in support of going forward with Common Core and renewing the NCLB waiver– “What counts to me is the immediate impact on individual students who are most vulnerable, and absolutely there would be an immediate impact on those kids.”

The adoption of Common Core for “the most vulnerable” of our kids flies in the face of science and parental common sense. I will leave all the political and money issues to the Board experts, but I will crucify on social and national media any and all Utah State Board members who are insane enough to cite the heart string pulling, manipulative “vulnerable kids” argument in support of Common Core.

That one-size-fits-all recent adoption of special education policies of the U.S. Department of Education is nothing short of developmental and cognitive child abuse.

Yes, Ms. Roberts, I said “Child Abuse“.

Use ANY other justification to support your wish to go forward with the waiver and stay on course with Common Core, but to use “vulnerable children” as any part of that justification is disingenuous, not supported by facts of science and child psychology.

Ms. Robert’s comments are nothing but a shameless manipulation of parents who voted for her to represent the best interests of their children, not the special interest groups of Utah’s teachers union or Bill Gate’s special interest testing groups.

Fellow Board Member Jeff Moss had the wisdom and courage to pull a last second, heroic motion out of his bag of procedural tricks to halt voting on this issue until more facts were gathered. One of these facts is the harm Common Core has on our States “most vulnerable children.”

Regardless of the consequences personally or professionally, I will not silence my voice while any Utah State Board Member uses the “vulnerable children” argument as justification to move forward with the NCLB waiver so that Common Core can continue to cause emotional, developmental, and cognitive harm to the children I dedicated my life to treating and serving…. and raising.

Ms. Roberts: Feel free to “spin” money issues. Spin the Standards debate. Spin anything you want in this debate Ms. Roberts. However, if you use “vulnerable children”…my therapist’s clients…or my own developmentally vulnerable children as part of your spin, I promise I will make you famous this summer.

-Dr. Gary Thompson-
Parent & Stay Home Dad

 

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Dr. Thompson also posted this letter, which is somehow hilarious even though it points out a tragic fact: that our educational leaders are promoting experimental, unvetted, non-peer-reviewed education standards –the Common Core standards– as if they were legitimate.

 

From July 24th:

Dear USOE:

Attached is something called “peer reviewed research”. When treating or testing children, especially those designated as “vulnerable populations,” we gear all our practices to be aligned with this type of research.

It’s best practice. It’s safe for the children. It’s the smart thing to do.

We do not base services provided to kids based on influences of special interest groups or Bill Gates. Nor do we give out propaganda-based information to parents, as such may pertain to children in vulnerable populations.

Peer reviewed research: Try it. You may like it!

exc.sagepub.com

 

-Dr. Gary Thompson

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The next Utah State School Board meeting is on August 8th.  It’s an open meeting.  The public is wanted–and needed.

Many will be there, showing by our presence that it matters to us what the board does in this vote.  We will wear matching stickers to petition the board NOT to renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind (ESEA).  The board will vote on that day.   The email for the board is board@schools.utah.gov and the phone number is 801-538-7517.  You may have two minutes to speak at that meeting if you call well in advance.

Utah: Getting Involved   Leave a comment

These are watershed moments for education in our State.

  If you’ve signed the petition at http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com  you received the following update today.  If not, here you go.

 

Common Core Alerts

 

 

 

ACTION ITEMS:
1. Attend the Utah State Board of Education meetings Thursday, July 17 from – 4:00 PM to 5:45 PM and Friday, August 8 (please save the date) at Utah State Office of Education, Board Room/Conference Rooms, 250 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. We plan to PACK THE HOUSE.

The state school board will consider “a decision on whether to apply for an extension to its waiver under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)” to be voted on at the August Board meeting (http://schoolboard.utah.gov/news/board-considers-not-applying-for-an-extension-on-utahs-esea-waiver).  We hope that they DO NOT renew the waiver from No Child Left Behind.   By not renewing the waiver, Utah can send a clear message that we are in charge of our education and would take us one step closer to cutting the many federal ties that are preventing true local control over education.  We will not be the first state to make this vital stand.  Read more here.

Our strong presence is vital to voice our support so that the board to vote in our favor. This is a critical vote. Please attend; bring your children; we need to fill the room. (This is their work meeting but with brief public input, so we need to be respectful.  Signs are welcome to use in the hallways or outside.)

 

2. Call and write, before the July 17th meeting, to Governor Herbert, the State School Board, USOE representatives and send copies to your legislators, newspapers, and local school boards, asking them NOT to renew the ESEA waiver, to get us out of Common Core, and to return full control of education to Utah.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Governor – http://governor..utah.gov/goca/form_governor.html State Board – board@schools.utah.gov Your Board Member – http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2

Find other officials here – http://vote.utah.gov/vote/menu/index

 

3. WE WILL NOT CONFORM – GLENN BECK EVENT

JULY 22nd we hope to see you as we pack all the available movie theaters throughout our state (and nationwide) for  Glenn Beck’s event: “We Will Not Conform: A night to make Common Core history”.  It’s in 700 movie theaters!  Several Utah parents will be attending the event live in Texas as well.  An updated theater list can be found here: http://www.fathomevents.com/event/we-will-not-conform-live/more-info/theater-locations

 

4.  Parent Groups and Candidates Organized to Stop Common Core:

We have updated the local parent group listings for those organizing in their areas.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/action-list/parent-groups/

 

There is a large SLC group until smaller groups form from it. Here’s an announcement from them.

Salt Lake County Committees – To Organize, Plan, Educate, and Act! Salt Lake County Committees will meet each fourth Thursday, except when it is a Holiday – like July 24. In which case we will meet on the third Wednesday (to help other attend that might not be able to). So we will meet July 16th 7 PM, at 7679 South Main St. (700 West), Midvale, a nicer and more central location. All are needed at these education and organization meetings (but attendance is more vital at State Board meeting on the 17th). Come one, come all and join your efforts to making Utah Education the best. The building is Utah Addition Centers – but is unmarked so look for signs, to enter, on the front and rear doors. Parking is in the rear. Contact Wendell W. Ashby ashbyww@gmail.com, and Administrative Support – Michelle Rodgers shelbysemail@yahoo.com

Candidate Alert

If you live in –or know people who live in– Rich County, please contact Bryce Huefner (435-757-0967behuefner@gmail.com) to help with his campaign.

National Teachers Union to Federal Education Secretary Duncan: You’re Fired   1 comment

 

The NEA just passed a resolution calling for the resignation of federal education secretary Arne Duncan.

 

The fact that the NEA is calling for Duncan’s resignation is a very big deal.  Duncan’s trying to downplay it.   But this is a very big deal.

Check out details here:

CBS  News

Fox News

Diane Ravitch

Politico

Huffington Post

Blogs

A Utah elementary school teacher, Lily Garcia,  happens to be the brand new head of that huge teachers union, the NEA.  Interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Governor Herbert   4 comments

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

Dear Governor Herbert,

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

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

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

…Sincerely,

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA President

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

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

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

Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi Reject Common Core   6 comments

The Domino effect is happening.  States are getting free of Common Core.

First was Indiana.  South Carolina and Oklahoma officially dropped out next.  Now, here are two more immediately dropping dominoes,  Louisiana and Mississippi:

 

Domino one:  Mercedes Schneider provided details on Louisiana Governor Jindal’s Common Core and PARCC exit here.  Fascinating conflict of powers in Louisiana.  (Thank you, Mercedes Schneider!)

 

Domino two:  The Clarion-Ledger reports that Governor Bryant of Mississipi wants to be free of Common Core.

“I think Common Core is a failed program, and the United States is beginning to realize that,” Bryant said. “Governors all across America are realizing states can do it better.”

Yes!

Hope that Utah’s Governor Herbert is next.

Video: Utah County GOP Chairman Casey Voeks on Common Core   Leave a comment

In this video, Utah County’s Repubican Chairman Casey Voeks explains why his party’s opposed to Common Core.

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/97553651″>Casey Voeks (Utah County GOP Chairman) explains how Common Core violates Republican principles.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8069880″>Sound Image Productions</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Ghanan-American Immigrant Speaks Out Against Common Core   15 comments

ALMA O  Guest Post by Alma Ohene-Opare

Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world. ”

Alma Ohene-Opare, now a Utahn, is originally from Accra, Ghana.  Alma came to the U.S. at age 19, primarily because of what he called “America’s innovative educational system.”   He said, “I was educated from K-12th grade in a Common-Core-like educational system.  My family (who owns and runs a private K-12 institution) battles daily because of the system.The end result is seemingly educated (on paper) graduates, with no ability to think for themselves, solve problems or innovate in any way. Parents and teachers alike have become conditioned to place the standardized tests at the forefront of education, leading to what we call in Ghana, “Chew and pour, pass and forget.” Here is his story.

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Common Core – A Failed Idea Newly Cloaked in the Robes of Good Intentions

 

My name is Alma Ohene-Opare, an alumnus of BYU and a native of Accra, Ghana. Over the past few months, I have followed with much amusement, the nationwide debate for or against the adoption and implementation of the Common Core standards. The arguments have been fierce and passionate on both sides and seem to stem from a universal desire to raise the quality of education in America. The desire is noble. However, this noble desire will not compensate for or mitigate the empirically documentable effects of the failed policy being proposed.

 

Common Core may be new to America, but to me and the thousands who have migrated to the United States to seek better educational opportunities, it is in large part the reason we came here. If you are wondering what qualifies me to make the assertions I will make in this article, know this; I am one of the few victims of a standardized national education system in Ghana, who was lucky enough to escape its impact. I am also a member of the Board of Directors of a private K-12 institution in Accra, Ghana. Golden Sunbeam Montessori School was founded by my mother in 1989 and is currently leading the fight to rid our country of an educational system that has led to the systematic degradation and deterioration of our human capital.

 

Let’s get to the core of my argument; pun intended. What Americans are calling Common Core is eerily similar to my educational experience growing up in Ghana. In Ghana, K-12th grade education was tightly controlled by the Ghana Education Service, an organization similar to the US Department of Education. From curricula to syllabi to standardized testing, the government controlled everything.

 

In 9th grade, all students, in order to progress to high school are required to take a standardized exam known as the B.E.C.E, which stands for Basic Education Certification Examination. Depending on the results of the test, each student is assigned by a computer program to a public high school without regard to his or her interests, passions or ambitions. Each student is then assigned an area of focus for the next three years. Some of the focus areas are General Science, Business Management, General Arts, Visual Arts, Home Economics, Agriculture, etc.

 

Although things may have changed slightly since I graduated, most students generally did not have a choice as to which area of focus they were assigned. The only way to get a choice was to ace the standardized exam or to call in a favor either through bribery or some other type of corruption. The students who failed miserably were usually those who attended public schools; many of whom dropped out of school entirely.

 

The process was then repeated at the end of High School with another standardized exam called the W.A.S.S.S.C.E. This exam tested your readiness for college and ultimately determined which course of study you were assigned by the government in college. I did not ace that exam and did not get admission into the state run college of my choice. Instead, I went to a private university founded by a former Microsoft employee and was found smart enough to be admitted to BYU a year later as a transfer student, to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and to be hired right out of college as a Program Manager at Microsoft Corporation.

 

Although the education system in Ghana is not similar in all aspects to Common Core as it is being proposed today, some of the basic tenets are the same. The curriculum was controlled by an external body without input from or accountability to teachers, individual schools or parents. Some argue that teachers and parents have control in Common Core. It pains me to witness such naivety. That myth has always been an inevitable play by proponents of any centralized system. The goal is to make people think they are in control while nudging them blindly towards a perceived public interest. The truth is simple; the institution that controls the exams, controls the curriculum.

 

By controlling the standardized exams, each school in Ghana was forced to make passing the exam its primary focus rather than actual teaching and learning. Hence anything that was deemed outside the purview of the test was cast aside and treated as non-important. Extra-curricular activities were cut if not totally eliminated and the school day was lengthened to ensure that students had even more time to prepare for the test.

 

In my case, school started at 6:00 am and ended as late as 6:00 pm. We attended school on Saturdays. Even when school was out we still attended school half day. Our lives were consumed with preparation for the standardized test. We all had booklets of past tests going back 15 years. Those who anticipated failing the test registered in advance to retake the test. The value of teachers was measured solely on the performance of their students on the standardized tests. Scammers who purported to know what would appear on the tests duped schools, parents and teachers alike by selling bogus test questions. Schools with political connections always unanimously aced the tests.

 

You may wonder why nobody ever tried to change the system. The answer was simple. The government made it impossible by requiring all students who wanted to go to High School or College to take the test. Hence, any time spent trying to change the system meant time taken away from preparing for the test. Parents became completely beholden to the system and would threaten to take the kids to other schools if administrators spent any time not preparing their kids for the test.

 

Now that you have a sense of how an education system can become trapped in the death spiral of standardized tests, let me interest you with the impact of this system on actual student outcomes. In Ghana, we had a phrase to describe how we felt about standardized tests. We called it “chew and pour, pass and forget”. Translated, it means memorize, regurgitate, pass the exam and forget everything.

 

Unfortunately that has become reality for many graduates of our educational system. As my father put it in a recent petition to the Ghana Education Service, “the education system in Ghana is akin to an assembly line setup by the government to create employees for an economy largely devoid of innovation, entrepreneurship, originality or risk taking”. Because students never learn to solve problems or think critically for themselves and are largely discouraged from challenging their teachers or the status quo, they are inevitably groomed to maintain the failed traditions of the past while believing they are completely powerless to change anything. The result is the fact that even with an abundance of natural resources, the country in general continues to suffer in the doldrums of socio-economic development without any clear path out of it.

 

Recently my brother left a well-paying job in the US to return to Ghana to take over my parent’s school. He had dreams of changing the system. He imagined students groomed to become innovators and entrepreneurs. He soon learned it was impossible to achieve any of those dreams if the school was to remain subject to the rules, restrictions and common standards the government had set. The only solution was to completely abandon the system, which he fears would cause parents to withdraw their children from the school. He is now stuck in the limbo of a catch 22 but continues to fight to win students, teachers and parents over to a new beginning for the education of their children.

 

In December 2012, I returned to Ghana with my family and had the opportunity to speak to 10th grade students at the school. I gave what I thought was an inspiring speech. I proposed to start an innovation and entrepreneurship club which will employ students to identify and propose solutions to some of the problems facing the country. I promised to provide the capital and resources necessary to support these kids in this new challenge. I ended by asking the kids who were interested to write their names on a piece of paper and email it to me. It’s been more than 18 months since I returned. I have received nothing and I don’t blame them. Their parents have paid a large sum of money because they believed our school would help their kids pass the standardized exam. I was not about to distract them from that goal. What a tragedy.

 

I have personally wondered what makes Africa so uniquely challenged in its attempts at economic development especially when all the innovations needed to do so are readily available to us. I came to a personal conclusion which admittedly is not scientific but captures what I believe to be the elusive culprit. It is contentment with mediocrity and a lack of curiosity to change the status quo. The problem is not inherent in the nature of Africans but rather the imposition of an educational system that burned out the light of innovation and made us content to live on the spoils of the countries brave enough to venture into the glory of the unknown.

When I came to the US, many people would ask what the difference was between the US and Ghana. I responded that in Ghana, I could dream. In America I can do.

 

In writing this article, I am by no means endorsing the current state of public education in the United States. The problem with the system today is that the US government, aided by self-interested unions, has spent decades and billions of dollars trying to return to a system of education that America abandoned a long time ago; a system which has proven a failure in many parts of the world. Common Core is just the latest iteration of the failed system. Like a wise man once said, oh that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart; to stand on the mountain top to warn against the path you are choosing to take. As an outsider looking in, I recognize one thing that most Americans lack. Because America has been free for so long, many have no sense of what tyranny looks like and how quickly physical and intellectual freedom can be lost on the path paved with good intentions.

 

I plead with all you well-intentioned but definitely misguided administrators, teachers and politicians. Raise your heads out of the dust and realize that America is great because America bucked against the status quo. Thinking a standardized and common core curriculum is innovative is like discovering water in the ocean and patting yourself on the back for it. This system is not new. Its greatest success was to create a conforming working class for the industrial revolution. It is not fit for a dynamic 21st century that needs constant innovation and the confidence to create new solutions to the problems that continue to beset and confound the smartest minds in the world.

 

America is desperate to find a solution to a problem that you solved decades ago. Return to originality. Put teachers and parents in charge of the education of their children. Encourage critical thinking that rejects conformity for the sake of some perceived societal benefit. Teach children to solve problems and not just to regurgitate the solutions of generations past. I have been silent too long and have now seized this opportunity to stand up for what I believe, which ironically is something I have learned from my experience in America.

 

America, I urge you to learn from the mistakes of those around because, like the plaque in my former bishop’s office read, “you may not live long enough to make all those mistakes yourself.”

 

–Alma Ohene-Opare, Salt Lake City, UT

 

 

 

Salt Lake Tribune Hosts Video Interview: Judy Park v. Christel Swasey on Common Core Aligned SAGE Tests   6 comments

This week, the Salt Lake Tribune invited Utah Assistant State Superintendent Dr. Judy Park and me to a filmed interview concerning the increasing number of Utah parents who are opting their children out of the Common Core aligned SAGE testing.  Here is the link if you want to watch the half hour at “Trib Talk.”

(I will return to this post to update it soon.  There is so much more that needed to be explained about the psychometrics that are apparent when you read the AIR (test writer) contract with Utah; about the data collection SLDS machine that is fed by student participation in SAGE and other digital testing/learning; about the need to defend teaching time and teacher professional judgment which are harmed by this testing; about the national opt out movement that is growing in strength and numbers across the nation.  I also want to transcribe some of the questions and answers, word for word, later.)

Guest Post by the Mother of Screen Shot-Capturing Student   9 comments

Guest Post

by the mother of the Utah high school student who captured questionable screen shots of the Common Core/SAGE test

 

The minds of our children are our most precious asset. They are the most vulnerable citizens and we must protect them.

If my daughter comes to me with a questionable essay test, then I must listen to her and validate her feelings. But more than that, I felt like other parents deserve to know that kind of propaganda that is being pushed on our children.

Abraham Lincoln said,  “He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statues or pronounces decisions”. The public sentiment is being changed here, little by little. These high school students who were in the room with my daughter were not, for the most part, taking this essay test seriously. They thought the questions were a joke. Her daughter was offended by the claims in the articles attached to her test question.

The statement made about books and dyslexia was a complete joke. We know people who have had dyslexia and work through it. Now they are fabulous readers. Books do not discriminate against them.

Even if these questions are just being posed in some alternate universe, they are biased.

Ultimately, the reason why Common Core and SAGE tests are raising so many flags for parents is because we cannot even see the test after the fact.

Why not make test questions available to see after the tests are taken? Why does everything have to be kept secret?

Again, I say, that my daughter was not cheating. No one even felt it necessary to cheat because they were not being graded anyway.

Let’s have some common sense here. Let’s try to reason together for the safety and protection of our children from powerful men and women who want to take over our education system so they can rule the minds of our children.

—————————-

 

Thank you to this mother and her courageous high school daughter.

Now, another Utah mother reported that her high-school attending son took the Common Core writing test this week.

Her son saw bias in a question that was framed around the question of whether property ownership or renting is better.  (He didn’t take any screen shots.)

Some readers may not see his test question as propaganda.   I do.  Property ownership is basic to the pursuit of happiness. Americans have always seen this as true; it’s one reason we fought England in the 1770’s.  Being subservient to a landlord will never be superior to the empowerment of owning your own land, in any universe.

As Professor Boettke of George Mason University has put it, “Few concepts have been more important for human survival, yet maligned as unjust by intellectuals, as the concept of private property rights. Since at least the time of Aristotle, the superiority of private property over collective ownership in generating incentives to use scarce resources effectively has been recognized. It was a core idea of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith, as well as the American Revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.”

 

But there are some today (including the test writers, apparently) who want young people to question the wisdom of property ownership.  It’s a very trendy concept within the education branch of the United Nations and elsewhere to suggest that individual property ownership is “not sustainable”.  Renting, they say, is more compassionate to Mother Earth.

Introducing this  socialist notion to impressionable minds during a secret test makes a lot of sense to those who oppose personal property ownership.  Undiscerning others think it’s fine.  They chalk it up to “critical thinking” and the humanists’ idea that truth and God don’t exist.  Yet critical-thinking humanists don’t like it when students or parents think critically about the assignments.  Ironically, thinking critically about the test is called a shutting down of critical thinking.

In the 80’s when I took high school writing tests, we were given literature-based writing assignments that were not very controversial nor politically charged, yet they demanded strong critical thinking skills –and as a bonus, the test itself exposed students to time-tested classics.

If the shift from classic literature to modern informational text hadn’t taken place, as it did under the Common Core, our students might actually have been exposed to something valuable during these tests, rather than being exposed to the ideas that video games could have more value than libraries of books, or that renting a little apartment might have more value than owning a mansion.

How dumb do they think our children are?

UT High School Physics Teacher Resigns Over Common Core   7 comments

Utahns Against Common Core published the resignation letter of Utah high school physics teacher Stuart Harper today.  The letter is powerful.  These are the words of a noble man, and his resignation is a tragic loss to Utah’s school system.

When will our state leaders acknowledge the train wreck of Common Core and turn our state around?  When will they read and heed teachers like Stuart Harper?

Read the full letter here. 

——-

“… After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.

In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written,  stating my concerns with Common Core, was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.

A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs.

I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”

I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against Common Core they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.

I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word. However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.

… We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.

I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.

My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.

Sincerely,

Mr. Stuart Harper

Teacher, Citizen, and Father”

Reader Responses to Utah High School Student’s Screen Shots   14 comments

The Utah teenager and her mother who decided to take a stand last week by taking screen shots and sharing them with the public  –photos of the SAGE/Common Core writing test,  hit some raw nerves.  Over a hundred comments were added here, with more posted on Facebook, and almost a hundred thousand views of those screen shots were logged in a few days.

Why? Reasons ranged and tempers flared:   Was the act of sharing screen shots heroic– or was it cheating? Was the test itself fair –or manipulative?  Should the student be failed and the teacher who didn’t see or stop her be fired?  Was the blog posting itself fair or manipulative?  Is this all evidence of an improved education system that creates deep-thinking students, or the very opposite?

A few of the responders words are worth repeating and are posted below.

———

Former teacher Laureen Simper wrote:

“Author Ray Bradbury could have used a SAGE test with a prompt like this, in his book “Farenheit 451”. As another commenter mentioned, Bradbury wrote:  ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’

“I have questioned the motives of central educational planners for years, ever since I had school-aged children. That was when I learned about John Dewey, when “Common Core” was going by the name du jour: “Outcome-Based Education“. That was when I read the original Humanist Manifesto.    John Dewey was one of the original drafters/signers of what I recognized as an anti-God constitution.  I learned that secular humanism and progressivism were the idealogies driving education “reform”.

“Progressive central planners continually repackage education reform when “the ignorant masses” figure out what the true motive is: to manage the lives of those ignorant masses, because they’re seen as too ignorant to manage their  lives for themselves. Sadly, as long as a shell game can continually be played with shifting appellations, all the sleepy little frogs go back to sleep, as our nice warm bath continues to heat up.

“The agenda to shift public thinking away from self-government started at least as early as the early 20th century. The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was founded in 1905. Its original members believed that 60 college campuses were enough leavening to turn social thinking towards government dependence.

“Originally, the movement focused on higher education. Woodrow Wilson, former president of Princeton, said that the goal of higher education should be for a young man to come out of university as unlike his father as possible.

“But the plan was not limited to changing graduates of higher education. John Dewey, a few decades later, said that the influences of the home and family are properly challenged (by “steadying” ) in the government schools. This came from the “father” of modern education.

“Those who have not connected the same dots will disagree.  But I’ve read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard – straight from the mouths of the arrogant progressive central planners.

“Their motives are not pure. They plan to manage our lives of the ignorant masses, because they think that people are  too stupid or too lazy to govern themselves.  And the education reformers’ answer is not Jefferson’s answer:   ‘…If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. ‘ –Thomas Jefferson, 1820

“Education reformers today, from Dewey to Coleman, seem to feel that the best answer is to wrest that self-government from the people.

“It is a big deal that a 16-year-old kid risked photographing test questions, knowing what kind of retribution could be brought to bear if she were caught.

“It is a big deal that a mother, equally aware of that retribution, would get those photos into the hands of a group of warriors who have connected the same dots I have connected – putting these test prompts into a completely different, stark, sobering context.

“Those who are screaming that anti-Common Core crusaders are taking these test questions out of context need to ask themselves if it is not they, themselves, who are taking them out of context.”    –Laureen Simper

——————

Another commenter, Michelle, wrote:

“And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.

“One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.)  I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in other test questions.

“The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games make us smarter, yet the assertion fails miserably to back up those claims with actual science.

“So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.

Our poor children.”

—————

A dad named Jared wrote:

“I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year.  I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
– ‘Two sides’ of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
– The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
– The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.

“… these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument.  In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.

“If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material.  Why don’t they?”

Kentucky University Student Speaks Up About Common Core   3 comments

shannon of kentucky

Guest Post by Shannon Crouch

Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012.  I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

My brother’s story

To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.

To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.

In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking.  These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.

My experience as a university math tutor

Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.

The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.

The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.

——————-

As an update to this story:  Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board.  This is what she received:

from: DEBBIE.JONES@wasatch.edu>

Subject: Re: Kentucky and Common Core
Date: March 13, 2014 at 8:33:22 AM MDT
It makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.
Take care,
Deb
———————-
Shannon then wrote back:
———————-

Ms. Jones,

I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.
Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.
I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.
Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.

Shannon Crouch

Fighting Manipulation in Education Reform Bills   1 comment

brian greene pg

Rep. Brian Greene of Pleasant Grove –

His fair and transparent state school board elections bill passed the House vote and may pass into law if the Senate votes yes this week

———————–

We are fighting manipulation in education reform. Utah legislators have written multiple bills this year that take important steps to curb it.  Before I give links to these very important bills –which we need to beg the senators and representatives to vote YES on– let’s talk briefly about the question of how  manipulation happens under the guise of education reform.

This six minute video featuring Dr. Peg Luksik, starting at 1:15, explains a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY4iMwlarNA

This speech was given a few weeks ago, when education expert Dr. Peg Luksik spoke about the manipulation that happens in computer adaptive, standardized tests.

Luksik explains:

The problem isn’t that it’s self-paced; the problem is that the test is open to manipulation.” (minute 1:15-1:20)  Test creators can adapt the test to make it appear to the average taxpayer, parent or policy maker to have been more difficult or easier.  It’s an internal mechanism, not a valid assessment.  A child has to agree or comply with questions along the way, or he/she cannot move on to take the rest of the test.

Dr. Luksik gives examples of this compliance.  In the 1990’s she saw internal documents of these tests that explained that the test was not to assess objective knowledge at all; it was to test –and score for– the child’s threshhold for behavior change without protest.

A sample question wanted a child to answer whether a child would join a vandalism group. There was no way a child could answer that he/she would not ever join a vandalism group; he or she could only indicate whether he/she would join if a best friend was in the group or if mother would not find out or other similar options.  Another example asked whether a child would cry, be upset, argue, when the family was moving to another country.  There was no option that was not outc0me based.  This prevents individual thought.

(FYI:  In Utah, these tests are called S.A.G.E. and are co-created by the federally funded Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and a company called American Institutes for Research which has taken at least $39 million Utah tax dollars to deliver Utah’s children a computer adaptive, Common Core aligned test.)

Dr. Luksik also explains that test questions that are supposed to be testing reading, are aiming to test other things, such as this example: a child’s level of honesty was tested in what was supposedly a reading test:  If he/she found a wallet with money in it what would he/she do?  No option was: return it.

Now, these tests were 1990’s Outcome Based Education (OBE) tests.  But the embedding principle is the same in today’s Common Core tests; just much easier for test creators to hide, since they’re not pencil and paper  tests anymore.

A child will simply answer questions on a test,  Dr. Luksik points out: “No child would think to say, ‘Is this a reading question?’ because they’re kids; they just take the test.'”  But how can teachers or parents protect them?

Three Bills:

Now, in Utah, we have the opportunity to take small steps in a better direction–  small but important steps.

mike kennedy

Right now, Rep. Mike Kennedy has a bill that  expands a committee of parents or guardians of Utah public education students to review computer adaptive test questions.  The bill also requires the State Board of Education to prepare and publish on its website a report containing information about test questions identified by the committee as problematic.  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0081.html

It has passed the House vote.   Hope and pray that it also passes the Senate.  And write to your senators and reps!

brian greene pg

Another great education bill in Utah that passed the house and may, possibly, pass the Senate and become a rare, good new law is Rep. Brian Greene’s bill for fair and transparent, partisan state school board elections. (Our system is horrible and MUST change: it begins with a closed-off, exclusionary, and Common Core-promoting questionnaire, followed by a small, biased committee making recommendations to the governor and then the governor appointing two preselected candidates from which the voters can choose.  And voters are not allowed to know whether these two are each or both Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or of any other party.)  http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0228.html  We need this bill.

anderegg

There’s also Rep. Jake Anderegg’s important house bill 169 which aims to restrain the sharing of student data without parental or adult student consent.   http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/HB0169.html

These  bills are wonderful.  I’m so grateful for them.  But they’re far from silver bullets.

They do not stop Common Core standards.  They don’t stop Common Core testing.  They don’t stop the stalking being done by the un-opt-out-able State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS).  They don’t take away the 15% rule (meaning that Utah can’t add to its math and English standards because of the Common Core copyright and the federal 15% ceiling over the standards.)  The bills don’t change the fact that Common Core standards are still dumbing down the top level high school students by removing almost all of the calculus and trigonometry requirements that Utah had prior to Common Core; nor do they restore to high school students the missing 70% classic literature that’s been robbed.

But–

They are important steps in the right direction, in the direction of restoring parental (and voter/taxpayer) control over what’s going on in education today.  They work around the manipulation and put individuals in better control of what has felt like an almost overwhelmingly unfair education system.

Thank you, Rep. Kennedy, Rep. Greene, and Rep. Anderegg.

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you!

USOE Curriculum Director Opposes Increased Parental Power in Curricular Decisions   Leave a comment

Utah parents, please take note:

Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email today:

———————-

From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342

Curriculum Friends,

Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.

This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.

Go to www.le.utah.gov  to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action.  Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.

Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.

Director, Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

801-538-7788

Please note Utah has a very broad public records law.  Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.

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Utah Public School Rejects Common Core: Maeser Prep’s Open Letter to State School Board   2 comments

maeser

Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy,  in Lindon, Utah, is the first public school in Utah to issue a letter to the State School Board that asks the board to reject Common Core and return to time-tested, legitimate education.

The letter is posted here.  The board of directors of this public charter school writes that the Common Core Standards compromise Maesar’s educational mission and purpose.  They say that Common Core Standards were adopted without an opportunity for the local school districts or parents to review them first.   And they urge the state school board, Governor Herbert, and the Utah legislature to replace the Common Core with locally vetted standards.

Amen, Karl G. Maeser Academy.

 

High-Stakes Tests and Common Core Standards are Inseparable   4 comments

tami and martell

Two leaders who make judgments for our schools –two whose judgment I wish we were able to trust, each have made statements: that high-stakes tests and data mining are unrelated to Common Core standards.

This is a fact-checking post.

First, look at their statements:

Our governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, was quoted in the  Morgan News:  “while not related to the Common Core, data mining and over-testing ‘will not be happening with Utah students.'”   The Morgan News also wrote that Pyfer: “is concerned with high stakes testing and test results being used for purposes the tests were not originally designed for. ‘We do not support high stakes testing.‘”

tami

Pyfer also wrote, at  a blog called The Blue Hat Movement:

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards.

menlove

Really.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Martell Menlove has also said in many settings that he has concerns with high stakes testing and data mining –but says that he does not understand the relationship between high stakes testing and the Common Core.  In emails to the public he has also written, “I am not aware of any additional data reporting requirements that are associated with Common Core.”

Oh, Dear.  Tami and Martell!

Utah’s new school test is inseparable from the Common Core standards.

(FYI, readers, the test goes by many names:  Computer Adaptive, AIR/SAGE, Utah Core, Common Core).  And neither is the data-mining inseparable from Common Core, with its CEDS (common education data standards) and its SLDS (my nickname: longitudinal student stalking system).

Here are several hard-to-ignore reasons why:

1.)  Utah’s 2012 house bill 15 makes Computer Adaptive Testing the law in this state, and it uses specific language that mandates that Common Core standards are used for the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests for all Utahns.

2.)  The four assurances or four key reforms for which the executive branch gave ARRA stimulus dollars (in exchange for Utah’s agreement to obey them) included common college and career-readiness standards, tests, and data collection. It was always a package deal.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund.html

“SFSF requires progress on four reforms ….
1.Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
2.Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
3.Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
4.Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”

3.) The federal government paid for the Common Core tests and mandated in its test grant contract that testing groups align to one another and to Common Data Collection standards and to Common Core Standards. The standards promoters use veiled language and most often refer to Common Core as “college and career ready standards” instead, but they have been specifically defined on the ed.gov official website in a way that can only be interpreted as the Common Core. Utah’s testing group, AIR, is officially partnered with SBAC, which is under mandate to align its tests with Common Core and with the other testing groups.

4.  The lead sponsor of Common Core Standards, Bill Gates, spoke at at national Conference for State Legislatures. He said that We’ll only know if this effort has succeeded when the curriculum and tests are aligned to these standards.” This alignment has been the point all along.  (Wouldn’t the man who funded multimillions of dollars toward the creation, development, marketing, implementation, and curriculum development of Common Core know what the goal was to be?)

5. The Council of Chief State School Officers, to which Supt. Menlove belongs, co-created and copyrighted Common Core.  The CCSSO officially partnered with the Department of Education  toward a common goal to collect “data on the national level” (see below) and to “coordinate assessments” –and to use the Common Core standards which CCSSO co-wrote.

It is difficult for me to understand how Menlove, who belongs to the CCSSO, or how Pyfer, who works so intimately with both the NGA and CCSSO, can mentally separate the Common Core aligned, high-stakes tests from the goals of the Common Core standards creators themselves.

Take a closer look at the CCSSO/EIMAC website:

“Education Data & Information Systems Programs:

Common Education Data Standards (CEDS)

The Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education. Educators and policy makers need clear, consistent data about students and schools in order to draw valid comparisons between key indicators of educational success and identify areas where we can improve classroom instruction and student support from early childhood through K-12 education to post secondary education and the workforce.

Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC)

The Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) is CCSSO’s network of state education agency officials tasked with data collection and reporting; information system management and design; and assessment coordination. EIMAC advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.”

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In light of these five points, can anybody honestly say that they cannot see a connection between the Common Core test and the Common Core high stakes AIR tests?  Are we still to be called “conspiracy theorists” (my school board member Dixie Allen’s latest term of endearment for me)  –for declaring that the tests and standards are one, are inseparable, and are equally harmful to our schools and to our liberties?

So, having made this point, now let me share what Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado shared with me today:  a compilation of how bad the national Common Core high-stakes testing is waxing.

Enjoy.

NEWS UPDATE:  NATIONAL PROBLEMS WITH HIGH-STAKES TESTS

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich Blasts “Obsessive Focus on Standardized Tests” http://dianeravitch.net/2014/02/19/robert-reich-on-standardized-testing/

Test Score Pressure May Lead to More ADHD Drug Prescriptions http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304275304579392932032900744

NCLB Waivers Reinforce Flawed Accountability Measures http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/waivers_missed_opportunities.html

Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Alliance Formed to Bring Sanity to Education Policy
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/21/anti-testing-groups-form-alliance-to-bring-sanity-to-education-policy/
Timely Statement by Former U.S. Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Eve of Testing Resistance & Reform Spring Launch
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/02/coalition_launches_testing_res.html
Campaigns Against Test Misuse, Overuse Explode Across Nation
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/20/1279029/-Testing-Resistance-Reform-Spring-Launched?detail=hide
New National Alliance Aims to Unite Grassroots Opposition to Testing Overkill
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2014/02/new_alliance_aims_to_unite_grassroots_testing_opposition.html

High School Grades Are Better Predictors of College Performance Than Test Scores Are
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/confirmed-high-school-gpas-predict-college-success/
New Report: Test-Optional Admissions Promotes Equity and Excellence
http://fairtest.org/new-report-shows-testoptional-admissions-helps-div

The Failure of Test-Based School “Reform” — By the Numbers
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/23/why-test-based-school-reform-isnt-working-by-the-numbers/

Test-Based “Accountability” Does Not Work
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/02/nclb_california_and_accountability_in_all_its_guises.html

No High-Stakes Testing Moratorium, No Common Core
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/no-moratorium-no-common-c_b_4843791.html

Common Core Testing Costs Strain Rural Schools
http://www.wbir.com/story/news/2014/02/18/common-core-testing-costs-strain-rural-tennessee-schools/5575073/

Washington State Senate Revolts Against Teaching to the Test
http://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2014/02/state-senate-revolts-against-teaching-to-the-test.html
Feds Threaten Washington State With Return to NCLB Testing Rules
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/21/washington-no-child-left-behind_n_4828183.html

Chicago Parents Organize Opt-Out Campaign
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-isat-testing-boycott-met-20140225,0,1746622.story

Left and Right in Colorado Agree on Testing Cutback
http://coloradostatesman.com/content/994657-left-right-agreement-state-testing
Colorado Students Take a Stand Against One-Size-Fits-All Test-Driven Education

N.Y. Gov. Cuomo Continues to Support Common Core Test-Based Evaluation
http://www.lohud.com/article/20140223/NEWS/302230033/Educators-say-evaluation-system-broken-Cuomo-isn-t-convinced

Computerizing a Poor Standardized Exam Does Not Magically Make it Better (or Stop Test Score-Misuse)
http://udreview.com/2014/02/24/delaware-explores-new-testing-options/
Common Core Assessments: Myths and Realities
http://fairtest.org/fairtest-infographic-common-core-more-tests-not-be

Teacher Apologizes to Third Grades for Being Forced to Label Them with Test Scores
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/18/teacher-to-3rd-graders-i-apologize-for-having-to-quantify-you-with-a-number/

Mom of Severely Disabled Boy Asks Florida School Board to Let All Kids Experiencing “Pain and Suffering” Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/19/mom-to-officials-stop-forcing-severely-disabled-kids-to-take-high-stakes-tests/

Washington, D.C. Mayoral Candidate Says Test-Driven Schooling is a Failure
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/shallal-criticizes-dc-school-reform-efforts-saying-he-would-chart-a-different-course/2014/02/18/4ba4b45a-97f7-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html

Important New Book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools” by David Berliner, Gene Glass and Associates
http://store.tcpress.com/0807755249.shtml

Dana Layton’s Stop Common Core Bill For Utah   3 comments

Dana

Representative Dana Layton

I sent a an email letter to my representatives, asking them to vote yes on Represenative Dana Layton’s bill HB0342.

The bill would return local control to Utah’s educational system.   Utah needs this bill.  I hope every Utahn writes to his or her legislators and begs them to pass this bill.

For those who don’t know, Rep. Layton’s bill  “specifies procedures for the development and adoption of core curriculum standards  for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, including:   the establishment of a standards development committee consisting of parents,  teachers, and representatives of school districts, business, and higher education  to assist the board in developing standards; and public review and comment of draft core curriculum standards;   equires the State Board of Education to establish a standards review committee  consisting of 15 parents of Utah public education students to review proposed core  curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science, and social   studies;   requires the State Board of Education to maintain control of, and the power to   modify, core curriculum standards for English language arts, mathematics, science,   and social studies; and  requires the State Board of Education, on or before July 1, 2016, to adopt revised  core curriculum standards for English language arts and mathematics that are developed  specifically for Utah.”

All day, I keep asking myself, why would the state school board NOT want this, not want a return to local control of education?

Anyway, I copied my letter (email number one, below) to legislators also to the school board.

Dixie Allen, my state school board representative, wrote back to me and to the same legislators, saying that what I had written was untrue. It’s not every day that I get called a liar, and I dislike it, for some reason.  I doubt the school board enjoys it, either.  So rather than rebut the lies, I simply wrote again, asking the legislators to fact-check for themselves.  The truth can stand up under close inspection.  Empty claims cannot.

Then Dave Thomas, another state school board member, sent the legislators and me the Utah State School Board’s  link to a wordy, undocumented, verbiose posting –which is without any footnotes, without links or proof of truthfulness –and he said it “explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.”

Sigh.  I try to keep giving the board the benefit of the doubt; they were rushed into Common Core adoption; they wanted that Race to the Top grant application turned in so fast; they made trusting assumptions about what the quality of the standards would be once they actually had the opportunity to study them; they asumed the standards had been pilot tested; whatever.

But now, now in 2014, when it’s been made so clear and obvious that the standards are not what they claimed to be, now that it’s so clear and obvious that we’ve traded local control for a substandard mess of pottage– now can’t we just ‘fess up and agree that Utah made a big mistake, a mistake anyone in the shoes of the state board could have made and would likely have made– and just turn around now and walk away from the mistake?  Why hold on to this judgment error with such doggedness? It is not too late for us to change our course.  In fact, the longer we stay in Common Core, the more money we waste and the more entrenched our curriculums are becoming in this substandard and centrally controlled monster.

So, here are all those emails in case anyone is interested.

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EMAIL NUMBER ONE:  (It was very long so I am not copying the whole thing; it’s just the Common Core 101 research that I cut and pasted from the front page of my blog.)

From me to the legislators and school board:
————————-
Please Pass HB 342.    This is why:
                 Common Core: 101
Thank you.
Christel Swasey
Heber City
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EMAIL NUMBER TWO:
From Dixie Allen of the state school board:
Good Morning,
Since many of you are my constituents or my respected representatives at the State Level, I feel like you need to understand that most of what Christel has alluded to is untrue.
First, the standards were written under the control and supervision of the nation’s Governor’s Association and the Chief State School Officers, by experts in the field, including our own experts from USOE and several of our college professors.
We did not receive any money for adopting the standards, but did save money because we did not need to go through the traditional method of upgrading our standards by bringing in experts in the field for days and weeks to help write and rewrite the upgraded standards for Math and English/Language Arts.
We continually at the State Office and State Board level, try to explain that we upgrade Standards in all areas of the curriculum about every 5 years.  We have been working on Social Studies for the past two years.  We have and will tweak and upgrade the Common Core Standards as we move forward.  We have already added back in Cursive Writing into the Language Arts Standards and have asked teachers not to use some recommended readings, as they do not seem to be suitable for the age of students we are addressing.  We will continue to upgrade and revise all our standards to insure they are the best standards for the expectations of our students as they move into college and careers.
I have often told my constituents that as a teacher and principal and curriculum director in the public schools for over 26 years, I see such great promise for especially the mathematics standards, as they make it possible for all students to become competent in the higher levels of mathematics, which before was a “stair step approach”, which many were not able to make it through in the 4 years of high school.  Now we introduce some of the advanced mathematics concepts in late elementary and middle school, thus providing the opportunity for all students to receive the proper amount of mathematics instruction to enter STEM Fields and almost any college or career program they wish to pursue.
The same advantage is true of the English/Language Arts curriculum as it helps students identify and understand complicated texts, written to explain history, mathematics, etc.  All of which is needed at the College and Career level.
Finally, if the legislature or any other group suggests or insists that we throw out the Common Core Curriculum, which has been in place for three plus years in our schools, it will cost millions of dollars to replicate standards that are as effective, and the school system will have to throw out years of work on creating curriculum and assessments to meet these standards.
Please allow the educators in the field, with help from USOE and our professors of higher learning work to upgrade these standards as we move forward, knowing that there has been and will always be invitations to parents and constituents to give input into any upgrades — as was the case with the Common Core.  At the State Board and Utah State Office of Education level, we are always frustrated that the invitation to become involved in reviewing standards or test items is overlooked or possibly not shared with all that wish to be involved — however, in the case of the Common Core, I believe that most of those speaking out against the Core are not talking about the Standards or the Curriculum, but the intrusion of the Federal Government.  I wish all could see that this set of standards was a coalition of Governors and State School Officers who knew we needed better standards and enough of our Nation using such standards to receive quality textbooks and computer programs to help teachers teach it in our schools.
I do hope that you will look at this issue realistically in relationship to insuring that our students can and will compete for quality higher education and careers, both within our state and throughout the nation and world.
Thank you for your service and continued support of our educational system!!
Sincerely,
Dixie Allen, Region 12
Chair, Standards and Assessment
Utah State Board of Education
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EMAIL NUMBER THREE
From me again:
Dixie,
It is time for the truth to stand up to fact-checking.  I have given documented links to all of my statements about Common Core, while you and the state school board continues to give none.
Let the legislators and the people do the fact-checking and look at documentation rather than words and claims.
Dixie, I am an honest and truthful reseacher and I will gladly alter anything if you can show me I have written anything false.  Will you do the same?
Christel
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EMAIL NUMBER FOUR:
From Dave Thomas of the state school board:

The State Board has had a website for a long time that explains its position, inclusive of documentary evidence.  If you would like to read the State Board’s position it is at http://www.utahpublicschools.org/index.html.

David L. Thomas

Utah State Board of Education

1st Vice Chair

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EMAIL NUMBER FIVE:

From Dixie Allen again:

Christel,
As Dave Thomas suggests, we have done that!!
Dixie

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EMAIL NUMBER SIX:

From me:

Dixie, you have not.
Your claims are never linked to documentation.   And you don’t acknowledge ours.
The USOE’s claims about Common Core are wordy and empty.  Why not show me where Utah has a voice over amending the shared core?  Show me how a teacher can have a voice in what will be tested.  Show me where these experimental standards were tried in a classroom anywhere successfully prior to being foisted on all the states.  Show me proof that deleting classics will improve literacy!
This is a giant academic fraud no matter how many people say it’s improving standards.
It is false to rob students of classical literature to 70% by senior year.   It’s wrong to diminish the teaching of the personal narrative essay.
It is a crime to steal calculus and other higher level math from high school students.
It is absurd to make little children do the type of math they are being forced to do.
Almost weekly I get letters from people who are pulling their children out of math or all of public education.  They want to know what they can do.  I tell them to ask you.  Your board has destroyed good education in this state and we are angry and we are not about to back down until you make  it right.
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Stop Common Core Rally Report   6 comments

A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S  STOP COMMON CORE  RALLIES

This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits.  All on the same night,  Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event,  while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat.   More and more, people are taking a stand for local control:  for the end of any involvement with Common Core.

Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reporters attended the Utah rally; read their reports here  and here.

Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.

siri

Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of  Common Core math

a rallyVolunteers explained to attendees how to opt out of Common Core tests.

a rally lots of people cc slc

Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night

rally feb 2014 with me judge and pytt

Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.

brian g

After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections.  His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228.   He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.

Dana

Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342.    She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”

margaret dayton

State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.

joan landes two

Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.

brian halladay

Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates:  Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher.  All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.

I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest.  In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.

Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing.  It prefers technical writing and info-texts.  In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing:  ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ ”    Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50%  but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place.  (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.)  So.  Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and  works to incrementally delete classical literature,  we must work to restore them.

This is why we held the essay contest.

sinhue

After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.

ed flint

Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved.  Details here.  

rod a

Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you?  Why not us?”  Arquette turned the question to the audience.  Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core?  Why not us?

Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.

oak

Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.

The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.

Judge Jackson prayed:

Dear God and Father of us all,

We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others.  Enable us to live with charity for all.

We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children.  May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning.  Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.

Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.

Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care.  Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Amen.

Utah Unhappily Bound by Common Core Standards   Leave a comment

menlove

SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

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
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.
oak
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.
jakell
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.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLba9mBFmbY#t=471
I hope legislators will find a way to vet what has actually occurred.
JaKell
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:

GOVERNOR HERBERT:  constituentservices@utah.gov

 SUPERINTENDENT MENLOVE: 

martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

STATE SCHOOL BOARD:   board@schools.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (SENATE)

Stuart Reid screid@le.utah.gov

Patricia W. Jones pjones@le.utah.gov

Mark B. Madsen mmadsen@le.utah.gov

wniederhauser@le.utah.gov

Aaron Osmond aosmond@le.utah.gov

Howard Stephenson hstephenson@le.utah.gov

Jerry W. Stevenson  jwstevenson@le.utah.gov

Stephen H. Urquhart  surquhart@le.utah.gov

EDUCATION COMMITTEE: (HOUSE)

fgibson@le.utah.gov

vlsnow@le.utah.gov

parent@le.utah.gov

rcunningham@le.utah.gov

seliason@le.utah.gov

greghughes@le.utah.gov

blast@le..utah.gov

dlifferth@le.utah.gov

dmccay@le.utah.gov

csmoss@le.utah.gov

jimnielson@le.utah.gov

vpeterson@le.utah.gov

mariepoulson@le.utah.gov

kraigpowell@le.utah.gov

dsanpei@le.utah.gov

kstratton@le.utah.gov

UTAH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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

revans@slchamber.com

MANY OTHER UTAH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

info@westjordanchamber.com

info@sslchamber.com

sandychamber@sandychamber.com

chamber@tooelechamber.com

russ@stgeorgechamber.com

semile@cachechamber.net

 

Stop Common Core Rallies Nationwide   2 comments

capitol with alyson

There are many Stop Common Core rallies happening now in Utah, Missouri, Louisiana, New York and elsewhere.   The rallies come on the heels of a U.S. Senate resolution that denounced Common Core, signed by senators from South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Wyoming.

utah rally

 UTAH RALLY

Tonight, Tuesday, February 18th, at 6:30 at the State Capitol Building, Hall of Governors,  is the Utah Stop Common Core rally.   As the press release indicated, this is an action rally that sends a message to Utah legislators:  “Stand up against Common Core or prepare to be voted out of office.”

Please, Utahns, come.

We need many hundreds of people here tonight.  Your physical presence speaks more loudly than many other things.  There is a battle going on, involving your children and their well-being.  Drop your laundry folding and your soccer game and your genealogy club meeting and come; defend.  I’ll tell you why.

If you care about liberty and local control, if you care about what your children will be learning in school and you want a voice in that, if you care about teachers being given respect and not micromanaged by an increasingly top-heavy government, if you care about the privacy of student data, if you think that classic literature should remain in schools, not edged out by “informational texts” down to 70% by the senior year, if you think that children should have access to calculus and other higher level math classes if they want to learn it, in high school; if you think traditional math algorithms are more valuable than group discovery of math pathways, if you believe in the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that states, not federal forces or corporate boardrooms, should be directing schools; if you believe in the Declaration’s guarantee that innocent people will not be subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure” to which the educational SLDS tracking system does subject all schoolchildren; if you think schools should be using educational standards that are un-experimental, time-tested, and actually analyzed and vetted locally prior to adoption; if you want to send a message to the state school board and governor that we don’t want national sex standards, national social  studies standards, and national science standards which are waiting in the wings to join our current math and English national standards;  if you want to send a message that you believe in representation and not in having unelected corporate boards and untransparent, unelected groups like the CCSSO and NGA making decisions for US that we cannot alter; if you want to see independent thought and not just groupthink taking over the textbooks of our state and nation; if you believe in the principle of honest debate rather than profiteers paying for their version of reforms without the debate of the people ever happening; if you think education reforms should have something to do with parents and teachers rather than with bureaucrats and corporate partners— then COME TO THE RALLY TONIGHT.  GOD BLESS YOU FOR COMING.
Speakers will each be giving 5-minute-or-shorter power speeches.
Utah Mom Alisa Ellis will be the Emcee.
supermom
Tonight’s speakers will be:
State Senator Margaret Dayton
Representatives Brian Greene and Dana Layton
Radio Host Rod Arquette
Attorney Ed Flint
Alpine School Board Member Brian Halladay – essay contest winner
Teacher Amy Mullins – essay contest winner
Teacher Cami Isle – essay contest winner
Agency Based Education – Oak Norton
Utahns Against Common Core – Renee Braddy
Teacher and Author Sinhue Noriega
Libertas Institute – Connor Boyack
Left/Right Alliance – Autumn Cook
Eagle Forum – Gayle Ruzicka
Mental Health Expert Joan Landes
Capitol common core meeting
There will be a meet-and-greet at 6:00 if you want to come early to ask questions.
…AND, IN OTHER PLACES….
—————————————————-
THE NEW YORK RALLY:

ny i refuse too

The New York  iREFUSE Rally will happen before the HST testing takes place in NY which is the following Monday (March 31st ) just after the rally.  One of the goals of the rally is to help build awareness that a child can refuse the HST Common Core test.   The iREFUSE New York community page:  https://www.facebook.com/irefusethegreatamericanoptout

———————————-
THE MISSOURI RALLY – HAPPENING TODAY: 
http://www.moagainstcommoncore.com/
mo rally

———————————-
THE LOUISIANA RALLY
 louisiana forum

Essay Contest for Utah Stop Common Core State Capitol Event February 18th   1 comment

write
ESSAY CONTEST for FEBRUARY 18th STOP COMMON CORE RALLY
On the 18th of Feburary at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., hundreds of Utahns will gather at the State Capitol to take a stand against Common Core.  As part of that event, Utahns Against Common Core has announced an essay contest.  Three essays will be chosen and read by their authors at this event.   Here’s the announcement:
——————————————————————————————
What’s the powerful reason that you’ve taken a stand against Common Core?  Why do you want the restoration of high quality, time-tested education standards and local control in Utah?  Do you have a great story?  Utahns Against Common Core wants to hear it!
——————————————————————————————
Submit your essay to Utahns Against Common Core at consecutiveintegers@yahoo.com by the deadline:  midnight on February 15th.  Three essays will be selected to be read at the State Capitol Common Core Event on February 18th  from 6:30 to 8:00.  Winners will be notified on February 17th and winners will be announced at the public meeting.  Winning and non-winning essays will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.  If you do not want your essay made public, please let us know.
——————————————————————————————
Topic:  Why I oppose the Common Core Initiative
Length:  Essay must be readable in less than three minutes.
Deadline:  12:00 midnight on February 15th, 2014
Prize:  You get to share your story/essay at the State Capitol Common Core Event
Capitol common core meeting

National Common Core News Update   4 comments

capitol roof

Truth in American Education and Principal Bob Schaeffer of Colorado have compiled most of the following information and I thank them for it.

First, here are many of the Common Core, testing and student data privacy pushback bills  happening right now, almost all over this nation:

Alabama tba; Arizona: SB 1121 SB 1153 SB 1095 HB 2316 SB 1310 ; Arkansas: HR 1007 SR 4; Colorado: SB 14-136; Connecticut: SB 53 Florida: PCB KTS 14-01:  See Karen Effrem’s analysis of it here; HB 25 CS/HB 195 CS/SB 188 SB 232 SB 864 ; GeorgiaB 167 SB 203 ; Illinois: HR0543 SR0638; Indiana:  SB 91This bill has passed the Senate 36-12 and will be considered by the Indiana House; Iowa HF 2140 HF 2141 SF 2123; Kansas tba; Kentucky: HB 5  HF 215;  Louisiana:  Here’s an article that discusses the work being done; Maryland: HB 76 SB 0578   SB 0579 SB 0408 Minnesota tba;  Mississippi  SB 2736; Missouri: HB 1708 HJR 74 SB 514  SB 798 SB 819 ; New Hampshire: HB 1239 HB 1508  HB 1262 HB 1586 HB 1496 HB 1587 HB 1238; New Jersey: S. 2973 A. 4403; New Mexico: SB 296: New York:  A07994  S6604  S06267;  Ohio: HB 237 HB 181 HB 193 HB 413; Oklahoma: HB 2786 HB 2849 HB 3331 HB 3166  HB 3399 SB 1146 SB 1310 Rhode Island: H 7095 South Carolina: SB 300 H. 3943 South Dakota: HB 1237:   South Dakotans Against Common Core is against this bill.  You can read why here. HB 1214 HB 1187 HB 1243 SB 63; Tennessee:  SB 2405 HB 1549 SB 1835 (Tennessee Against Common Core is not excited about this bill.) HB 1826 HB 1825 SB 1985 HB 1828 SB 1984 HB 2253 HB 1697 HB 1696 HB 1841 HB 2453 SB 2559 HB 2290 SB 2057  HB 1882 SB 1470  HB 1705 Utah tba; Wisconsin tba;  Wyoming: HB 0097

(To see a brief analysis of each bill, go to Truth in American Education.)

capitol with alyson

If you are a Utahn, did you notice Utah is on the “to be announced” list?  We have no stop Common Core bill yet.  We have too little political pressure from the people upon our leaders.  So please:  please come to the State Capitol next week, on Feb. 18th at 6:30-8:00 to show your concern for this issue.  Please share this event  where we will hear from and speak with legislators, parents and organizations who are opposed to Common Core.  We need large numbers of people to show up and to show support, to get proper protections for our children here in Utah.

————————–

     And here’s more related news:

————————–

Senate Republicans to Obama:  No More Common Core Coercion  http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/05/senate-republicans-no-more-common-core-coercion/#!

Both Houses of New York Legislature Support Two-Year Delay in Common Core Testing
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/nyregion/a-call-to-ignore-exam-results-when-evaluating-educators.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Regents Likely to Stall Parts of Common Core Implementation
http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302100021&gcheck=1

Parents and Educators Outraged by Regents Failure to Address Deeper Flaws
http://www.nysape.org/parents-and-educators-outraged-by-regents-unwillingness-to-assume-responsibility-and-change-course.html

N.Y. PTA Survey Finds Students Stressed Out by Testing, Parents Opposed to Common Core Exams
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/07/new-york-common-core-stress_n_4747863.html?utm_hp_ref=education
Gov. Cuomo Appoints Common Core Proponents to Evaluate Common Core
http://www.nysape.org/new-yorkers-outraged-by-governors-flawed-common-core-panel.html

Missouri Board of Ed. Plans Major Reduction in Testing
http://www.semissourian.com/story/2047976.html

Alaska State Board of Education Supports Graduation Test Repeal
http://www.frontiersman.com/schools/state-board-supports-repeal-of-grad-exam/article_13c15946-8d5a-11e3-ac4b-001a4bcf887a.html

Virginia Senate Votes for Delay in Test-Based School Grades, Reduction in Testing Volume
http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/article_4e588c5a-8e1d-11e3-bf18-001a4bcf6878.html

Kentucky Ed. Commissioner: Kids Over-tested, Scores Misused
http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20140206/NEWS0103/302060040/Holliday-kids-overtested-schools-overburdened

Connecticut Students Say Testing Fixation Kills Learning
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/community_meeting_raises_concerns_on_testing/

“Guinea Pigs” and “Lab Rats” Storm Rhode Island State House as Student Protest Exit Exam

Students Aren’t “Guinea Pigs” — How Field Testing Hurts Children
http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/news/

Oregon Test is Wrong for Children
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/oregons_kindergarten_test_is_w.html

Parent of Dying Florida Boy Has to Prove Her Son Can’t Take Standardized Tests
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/07/1275853/-Florida-mother-has-to-prove-her-dying-son-can-t-take-a-standardized-test#

Tennessee Teachers Fight Back Against Test-Fixated Evaluations
http://www.tennessean.com/viewart/20140209/NEWS04/302090069/TN-teachers-push-back-evaluation-process

Exit Exams Make Diplomas, Jobs Elusive for Special Education Students
http://hechingerreport.org/content/for-special-education-students-diplomas-jobs-increasingly-elusive_14612/

Technical Problems Plaque Nebraska Online Writing Exam
http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/problems-with-statewide-writing-test-plague-lps-others/article_ff2965f0-6fc4-5568-b41f-581f5cc0e1d1.html

Chicago Opt Out Leaders Push Back Against Chief Executive Officer’s Hollow Threat
http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-public-fools/2014/02/its-almost-testing-season-in-chicago-opt-out-at-your-peril/
The 95% Participation Rate and How Schools Do Not Lose Funding
http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.html

Test Scores = Voodoo Data for Evaluating Students, Teachers and Schools
http://www.dailycall.com/news/editorials/3572277/Its-all-so-predictable

Colorado School Testers Flunk Themselves
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25071195/colorados-school-testers-flunk-themselves

Federal Court Upholds New York City Liability for Teacher Licensing Test Racial Bias
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2014/02/appeals_court_upholds_nyc_liab.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

Tennessee School Board Reconsiders Role of Student Test Scores in Teacher Licensure
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20140201/NEWS/302010011/TN-state-board-reconsiders-role-learning-gains-teacher-licenses

Documentary Takes Standardized Testing Fight to Big Screen
http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/02/09/new-documentary-takes-standardized-testing-common-core-battle-to-big-screen/

NJ Professor Releases Common Core-Opposing “Assessments Landscape” Video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r9_ZpNbU6A

Common Rotten Core Testing ‘Toon
http://www.caglecartoons.com/viewimage.asp?ID=0037B5D8-9059-4A29-91D5-CC42A7B72B4E

Mexico Eliminates National Exam, Test Score Bonuses
http://newspapertree.com/articles/2014/02/05/mexico-chucks-test-bonuses-national-exams

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Weighing Data-Driven Decision Making Against Privacy Under Common Core   5 comments

fish

Should parents have the right to opt out of having children essentially stalked by SLDS, the State Longitudinal Database?

The State School Board doesn’t think so.

Boiling down the  conflict about personal data, we get to two ideas; which one do you value more?

It’s either:

1) –  Our Constitutional right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure” of “private effects” (unless there truly is some “probable cause” of our guilt)

OR:

2) –  The corporate and government-backed movement to gather and share “robust data” to enable “data-driven decisions” that may serve educational research.

Take some time.  Think about it.  We cannot have our cake and eat it, too.

Many organizations, agencies and movements have begun to depend on the second philosophy and Utah has aligned its school systems and other government agencies to it– without thinking too deeply about it.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosts the White House “Datapalooza” event and  gives speeches about the wonders of data collection. He persuades unrelated governmental agencies to share personal data. His right-hand woman, Joanne Weiss, encourages inter-agency “data-mashing.”  And Duncan not only supports, but has been the main speaker at Data Quality Campaign’s summit.  This is key. I’ll tell you all about the DQC.

Data Quality Campaign” has  many  partners  including (no coincidence) all of the Common Core creators and testers!   “Achieve,” “National Governors’ Association,”  “Council of Chief State School Officers,” “American Institutes for Research,” “PESC” (a council that makes data standards common) and MANY more share the DQC’s “vision of an education system in which all stakeholders… are empowered with high-quality data from the early childhood, K–12, postsecondary, and workforce systems.”

From the DQC’s site:  “as states build and enhance K12 longitudinal data systems they continue building linkages to exchange and use information across early childhood, postsecondary and the workforce and with other critical agencies such as health, social services and criminal justice systems.”

Do you share that vision?

On November 12, 2009, at a Data Quality Campaign conference, (note: the keynote speaker was an NGA leader; NGA copyrighted Common Core)  they encouraged “the status of states’ ability to link data across agencies and provided several state case studies of promising strategies to sharing individual-level data across systems and agencies.”

And  Utah was “honored” by DQC for providing an example of linking criminal justice agencies, educational agencies, medical agencies, etc. using school-collected data and common data standards. Some data on a child that had been USOE-collected  (private student data) was accessed by Utah’s Department of Human Services, according to this DQC brief, because of Utah MOUs that permitted data exchanges.  Excerpt:
“Utah’s State Office of Education (USOE) has an extensive data warehouse, but initially, concerns about student privacy protection, especially related to the federal FERPA legislation, prohibited data sharing. However, Human Services worked with the USOE to develop two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to permit data exchange and mitigate student privacy concerns. One MOU established that the state serves as the child’s parent when the child is in state custody. Although this MOU often is not employed, it did clarify the role of the state and its permission to attain and view student records housed in the USOE. The second MOU established that by connecting these two databases to evaluate the educational outcomes of children who aged out of foster care. Utah Human Services was conducting research on behalf of the USOE and, therefore, could be granted access to student-level data.  http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/65_meetings-dqc_quarterly_issue_brief_091807.pdf

Why isn’t this stuff in the papers?

But DQC reminds us that “Every Governor and Chief State School Officer agreed to build longitudinal data systems that can follow individual students from early learning through secondary and postsecondary education and into the workforce as a condition for receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) not only provided states the venture and political capital to build on the growing momentum behind statewide longitudinal data systems, but also offered state agencies the chance to think creatively and break down traditional silos. For policymakers, educators, parents, and students to have the information they need to improve student and system performance, state K-12 longitudinal data systems must be able to exchange and use information across the early learning, postsecondary, and workforce sectors as well as health and social services systems.”

Data Baby

So, to ponder how this affects YOUR child:

DQC is partnered with American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is Utah’s Common Core test maker for the Computer Adaptive Math and English Common Core test, also known as the SAGE test.  (FYI, AIR is fully partnered with SBAC, the testing group Utah dropped in 2012.)

American Institutes for Research  will not only test Common Core standards teachings, but will also upload all Utah student test takers’ personally identifiable information, academic and nonacademic information into its database.

(Why the nonacademic information too?  Because Utah’s HB15 mandates that behavioral indicators will be tested and conveniently, AIR is a psychometrics specialist.)

Understandably, all over the country and in my own home state of Utah, legislators are scrambling to create student data protection bills.  But they face a problem that most maybe don’t want to see.

Every state has a federally-invented SLDS:  State Longitudinal Database System. In Utah, we have been recipients of millions of dollars (and have been entangled in the federal strings that have come with those dollars) because we agreed to the four education reform assurances that came with the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (ARRA Stimulus funding).  And we agreed to build our SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) to federal specs.  So did all the other states.  It’s an illegal, de facto national database because of that interoperability factor and because we’ve agreed to it through PESC.

We built the SLDS monster. Now legislation is trying to put a muzzle and a leash on him.   Why keep him around at all?

The SLDS’s core function is “to fulfill federal reporting.”   This fact comes from the PESC State Core Model, which Utah agreed to when the Utah Data Alliance  agreed to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) Model and the SIF (interoperability framework) in the SLDS grant application –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model deliberately aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.

Not surprisingly, the PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC “establishes comparability between sectors and between states” and brags that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”

The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)

Not good.

Nothing’s preventing agencies from sharing data.  In fact, the DQC praises those who, like Utah’s USOE, have created ways to share data with other agencies.

fish bigger

But there’s an even bigger fish to fry.

Although, years ago, there was a protective federal privacy law called FERPA, it’s been corrupted by the Department of Education.

Federal FERPA laws have been grossly loosened.  Every federal agency I can find, including the NCES and the Department of Education are encouraging us to pool data.

The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are further, very clearly, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements (and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.)

The bottom line is that we should not align any privacy law with federal FERPA and we should shut the SLDS monster’s big mouth by creating opt-out allowances for parents to protect their children from this big government stalker.

I have serious concerns about a bill that’s being written in Utah right now, SB0049, which aligns with federal FERPA’s definitions of “personally identifiable information” and “authorized representative.”

Reading this bill, I could hardly believe that Utah legislators care to protect us.

Surely legislators have read that the Department of Education has, without Congressional approval, altered federal FERPA to loosen privacy protections by having redefined terms. (This resulted in a big law suit with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.) The loosening of student privacy protections by the federal government took place during the same time as the Department of Education was creating national school assessment contracts that stated that the Department would access student-level data through the assessments “subject to applicable privacy law.” Thus they changed the law to suit their data-hungry point of view. The federal FERPA reduced parental consent over student data from a requirement to a “best practice”!

It changed the definition of “personally identifiable information” to include biometric information, which includes DNA, handwriting, iris scans, fingeprints, as well as behavioral information

Is this what we want for Utah?

Behavioral and belief-based information on a child is without question going to be collected by Utah’s math and English tests by psychometric embedding by test writer and psychometric specialist AIR -American Institutes for Reasearch. Utah gave AIR $39 million to do this terrible mistake when the Utah legislature mandated it, in HB15, the Computer Adaptive Testing bill.

To align state privacy laws with federal definitions is to guarantee a toothless and spineless pretense of protection.

This is not hyperbole.  Follow the money trail to see who has a vested interest in denying parents and students authority over their own private data.  We can’t afford to give our ear to those who are making the money from the exposure of student data to “researchers” —who are really just greedy vendors.

Microsoft owner Bill Gates, who has called schools a “uniform customer base” has paid hundreds of millions to align common data standards with common educational standards. He has partnered with Pearson (who is contracted to make Utah’s UTREX) which pushes the same thing. Gates/Pearson partnered with the Midvale, Utah-based School Improvement Network, which pushes the same thing.  They give lip service to student privacy, but none of these groups seems to want to see REAL protection for privacy.

Do you?

Dear Governor Herbert: Let’s Be Like Indiana!   3 comments

Dear Governor Herbert,

Let’s be like Indiana!   The support of the State Superintendent Ritz and Governor Pence are making it possible for the people to reclaim local control of education.  Indiana’s dropping Common Core.  We in Utah should do the same, rather than continually giving lip service to local autonomy.

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/01/29/ind-senate-panel-oks-plan-to-drop-common-core/5013185/
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/01/16/Governor-Mike-Pence-Hints-Indiana-May-Drop-Common-Core
Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher
——
Please, fellow Utahns–  write  often to our Utah leaders.  Let them know what is going on in national education reform and pushback, since our local newspapers rarely do.  Tell them what you want them to do.   They are supposed to represent us— not D.C. corporations or agencies of the federal government.  We must speak up.
————-
CONTACT INFORMATION:

Governor Herbert:  constituentservices@utah.gov

Superintendent Menlove: martell.menlove@schools.utah.gov

Utah State School Board:  Board@schools.utah.gov

Utah Mother of Seven Alisa Ellis to Speak This Week in Kansas and Wyoming About Common Core   3 comments

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control – Alisa Ellis

Alisa

Picture a bread-baking, fun-loving, church-going, small-town mother of seven –who was never politically active, who never even used to vote, –picture her becoming a sudden political activist who now travels across Utah and to other states to speak to live audiences, radio audiences, and on t.v. about the Common Core Initiative. Let me tell you a little bit about Alisa Ellis, a woman whose motto is, “I do not live in fear.”

To Alisa, education had always been important. She and her husband liked to say that they were proudly raising a family of nerds. They were the kind of parents who volunteered in the classroom. They were the kind who paid attention.

But their introduction to the educational transformation of America known as Common Core came in 2011, long after the initiative had been adopted by the state. (2011 is a whole year after the Utah state school board adopted Common Core without public knowledge or vetting; and it was two years after the state had agreed to accept the federal $9.6 million to create an “SLDS” student tracking database.)

Alisa received a Common Core pamphlet at a parent-teacher conference.

She stared at it. She puzzled. She asked the teacher to explain.

“I didn’t know how one size-fits-all would work without hurting the top and bottom students,” she recalls. But when she asked the teacher to expound on the subject, that teacher didn’t know anything.

Alisa began to ask around.

“I asked everyone I knew for their thoughts on Common Core. I tried researching online but everything was fluff,” she said, “It was nine months before I was invited to a meeting to learn more.”

One day at the grocery store, she bumped into a friend who actually knew something about the Common Core Initiative. The conversation lasted a long time. The friend invited Alisa to come to a “Cornerstone of Freedom” meeting to learn more. The friend added, “Oh, and would you make a few comments?”

Alisa thought that meant that she should raise her hand and make comments. She found out, during the meeting, that she was an actual scheduled speaker– after the other speaker.

“I saw my name on the schedule and immediately panicked. I pulled out my tablet and started researching ‘What is Common Core?’ After a few minutes, I realized it was pointless and I would be better off just sharing my concerns.”

She told the audience of her concerns which had begun with the Common Core pamphlet at the parent/teacher conference. She told the story of another meeting, a gifted-and-talented informational meeting, where the director said that next year, teachers would ‘start digging deeper.’

(“Digging deeper? That same line was repeated so many times that I knew I was being fed something,” she explained.)

She also told the audience another story: a school guidance counselor had advised her to take her son out of AP history. The counselor had said that her son’s “career track was more along the lines of engineering.”

He’d said, based on Alisa’s son’s ACT practice test, that: “clearly your son isn’t going to be a history professor, so we should pull him out of AP world history and put him in a class that follows his career path.” Because Alisa had trusted the system, she hadn’t questioned the counselor’s advice so she pulled her son out of AP history. This was a decision she later regretted.

Alisa started digging more deeply into the whole Common Core Initiative. She read the state’s Memorandum of Understanding with the developers of the Common Core. She read the Cooperative Agreement. She saw how the State Longitudinal Database System intertwined with the academic standards and tests. She read speeches by secretary of education Arne Duncan. She read the No Child Left Behind documents and waivers. She read the implementation manuals that were sent out to governors to tell them how to promote Common Core. She read documents by Achieve, Inc., the group that helped create the standards for the copyrighters. She could hardly believe that the Common Core’s takeover of local control was out in the open, yet unknown by virtually everyone who ought to know about it.

My concerns about the academic merits of Common Core paled in comparison to the much larger issue of the loss of freedom and the stripping away of local control,” she said.

She went with her friend, Renee Braddy, to meet with local teachers, principals, local school board members, the community council, and the local superintendent to discuss Common Core. These discussions resulted in the opportunity to make a presentation at the local school board meeting. (That presentation was filmed, and is called Two Moms Against Common Core on YouTube.) The superintendent had asked them not to film their presentation, but since it was an open, public meeting they did anyway. The video was shared around the state and ignited a firestorm of activists to stand up and fight against Common Core. I was among the people who got to see Alisa and Renee’s video the first week it was posted.

Next, Alisa decided it was time to become more active. She became the county delegate to the Republican convention, and before the convention, she started making phone calls to find out which candidates were promoters of Common Core. She found that all the candidates running for national level seats were opposed to Common Core. All the local candidates, aside from the current Governor, were also against it. (Governor Herbert was undecided at the time.) However, the candidates running for state legislature seats were less willing to take a position.

With unflinching determination, she successfully set up two face-to-face meetings with Governor Herbert to discuss Common Core. Then she organized public meetings and helped bring in expert academic witnesses to meet with legislators; she started her blog called Common Core Facts, she repeatedly attended and spoke up at state school board meetings, and she co-founded Utahns Against Common Core with a handful of other Utahns. (That website and petition “Utahns Against Common Core” today has over 8,000 signatures.)

Alisa’s actions, along with other activism happening around the state, eventually helped push Utah’s leadership to agree to withdraw from the SBAC Common Core testing consortia. It was a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Common Core. (Side note: after Utah bowed out of SBAC, other states also began to withdraw from SBAC and PARCC. Sadly, Utah’s state school board subsequently chose to use another Common Core testing entity, AIR, which is partnered with the same SBAC. –But that’s another story.)

From the beginning, Alisa began to get invitations to speak across the state and then from other states. Today, she has probably given over fifty speeches on the subject, in tiny places and large venues, both with other speakers from Utahns Against Common Core and on her own.

This week, she will be speaking in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and in Merriam, Kansas.

You are invited.

Girl with Barcode on Foot

WYOMING

What: WHAT YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TOLD ABOUT COMMON CORE: TRACKING YOUR CHILDREN FROM PRE-K INTO THE WORKFORCE

Where: Snow King Resort Teton Room

When: 6:15 PM on January 28, 2014

Who: Speakers will include Amy Edmonds – Wyoming Liberty Group; Alisa Ellis – Utahns Against Common Core; Christy Hooley – Wyoming Teacher; Kelly Simone – Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core – Presented by Concerned Women’s Group of Jackson Hole

Cost: Admission free; a donation of any amount to help cover expenses will be appreciated.

Alisa in Kansas

KANSAS

What: Alisa Ellis will speak on the history and truth about Common Core and its impact on our children and their education.

When: Tuesday, February 4th, 7:00 pm

Where: Antioch Library – 8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS 66202

Note from the Antioch Library: Besides the library’s parking lot, parking is available behind Taco Bell and to the larger lot west of Taco Bell.

—-

Thank you, Alisa. And thank you, Renee. (I will write about Renee and her adventures another day.)

Deseret News to Live Stream Common Core Debate Tonight   5 comments

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Tonight’s much-anticipated Common Core debate, featuring Alpine school board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams arguing against Common Core, versus two state school board members, Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer arguing for Common Core, will be live-streamed by the Deseret News.

Additionally, it will be featured on http://www.deseretnews.com later today and on http://watchit.deseretnews.com.

If you want to attend the event in person, here is the time and address.

(Note: a Logan newspaper mistakenly wrote the start time to be 7:00. It is actually 6:00.)

Where: Mount Logan Middle School at 875 N. 200 E. Logan, Utah.
When: January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Who: The public, legislators and press will be there. Moderator: radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People.”

The public is invited to submit questions for the debaters to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Please come and bring friends.

Live Stream/ Youtube link:

40 Questions for Common Core Debaters   8 comments

state school board picture photo utah

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Utah radio personality Jason Williams of KVNU’s “For the People” has asked the public to submit questions for next week’s Common Core debate, which will take place at Mount Logan Middle School on January 6th, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Logan, Utah, at 875 N. 200 E.

Submit questions to: jasonthe@gmail.com or kvnuftp@gmail.com.

Legislators have already committed to attend the debate. I hope thousands of teachers, parents, grandparents, students and reporters show up.

The debaters will be Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart and mother Alyson Williams (against Common Core) versus state school board members Dave Thomas and Tami Pyfer (for Common Core). The event will be moderated by radio personality Jason Williams.

I sat down to write a few questions and ended up with 40. Some are borrowed from Professors Yong Zhao, Professor Christopher Tienken, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Daniel Coupland and others. I hope Mr. Williams has time to ask them all.

40 COMMON CORE DEBATE QUESTIONS

1. Is Common Core constitutional? Why or why not?

2. How important is the defense of local autonomy and local control of schools, to you personally –and does Common Core affect local control in any way? Yes or no?

3. The Common Core itself calls itself a “living work” and it admits that the document will change. Does the Utah State School Board have authority over the copyrighted Common Core “document” to change the document itself? ( To clarify: this is not a question of adding 15% as the Common Core governance allows a state to add in-state, but we are asking about changing the national standards themselves.) Yes or No?

4. Can Utah voters remove from positions of power the people who hold copyright over Utah’s Common Core standards (Board of Directors of CCSSO/NGA) if we do not approve of the direction of Common Core? Yes or No?

5. Are those who hold copyright over Common Core subject to transparency (“sunshine” laws) –so that the Utah State School Board can supervise the decisions which affect and govern Utahns? Yes or No?

6. Where can I read for myself how the states-led (inter-state) amendment process will work when we want to change something in the Common Core standards, if a process exists?

7. Where can I see for myself the evidence that Common Core standards have been field tested prior to implementation, so they were proven to be of superior academic quality, if testing evidence exists?

8. Professor Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has called Common Core “educational malpractice.” Regardless of how you feel about Common Core, how would you recognize educational malpractice if you saw it; what would be its hallmarks?

9. Would widespread mandating of experimental, untested standards constitute educational malpractice?

10. Where can I see for myself the specific countries and specific standards to which the Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked” if such benchmarking exists?

11. Where is the American process of representation of individuals in the Common Core education and assessments system, if it exists?

12. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence (not opinion) that Common Core’s increasing informational text and decreasing classic literature will benefit children, if it exists?

13. Where can I see for myself empirical, researched evidence that Common Core’s move away from traditional math toward constructivist math will benefit our children, if it exists?

14. Many mathematicians and math experts, even including Common Core architect and advocate Jason Zimba, have pointed out that students who want to take Calculus in college will need to take more math than Common Core math courses in high school. What should the Utah State School Board do to make sure Utah students are truly prepared for STEM careers despite Common Core’s low math standards?

15. A mathematician is one who has an advanced degree in advanced mathematics; a math educator is one who has an advanced degree in educating students on any level of math. How do you feel about the fact that there was only one actual mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, and that he refused to sign off because he said the standards were not legitimate math for college preparation?

16. Several official documents show that there is a 15% cap on a state adding to the Core; we also from Common Core architect Jason Zimba and validation committee member James Milgram that Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM math careers; then how are Utahns to prepare for STEM careers?

17. If local Utahns break through the common core academic ceiling and add more than the allowable 15% to their local standards, how will that 15% be taught using common core aligned math and English tests and texts?

18. Although we have been told that Common Core was state-led, no citizen in this state received an invitation to discuss this, before math and English standards were decided. To make sure this does not happen again, please explain the vetting process for Utah teachers and parents, before we add upcoming national science, national social studies, and national sex ed standards.

19. Which element played a larger role in Utah’s decision to adopt Common Core: the chance to win Race to the Top grant money, or a thorough review of the Common Core academically? Please give evidence for y