Archive for the ‘Wasatch School Board’ Tag

Mark Davis or Wilma Cowley? Shad Sorenson or Jen Kelson? Wasatch School Board   Leave a comment

Wasatch County School Board: Cowley, Kelson in front; Jones, Baird, Horner in back.

I would be happy to sit by them at the Heber rodeo or say hello at the grocery store, but I would not cast a vote for a single one of these nice people.  Sorry.

I’d put up a yard sign for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson, though.

The old school board might be good people.  But part of that goodness does not include studying what the heck is going on in American education today.

There’s been a national betrayal in public education and they don’t even know about it. Not studying it and not informing the local citizens, teachers and parents of students of both sides of the issue is irresponsible.

They let the state board call the shots without listening to parents or teachers.  The state board defines Common Core for all. But the state board is guided by the Common Core-promoting philosophies of Sir Michael Barber, CEA of Pearson; the SBAC’s socialist Linda Darling-Hammond, bomber-and-education reformer Bill Ayers, federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama. Extremists.

These local incumbents don’t seem to perceive how the state board’s tolerance of Common Core is damaging.  Their unwillingness to study these issues deeply and diligently will hurt us.

The district website still sings the praises of the highly controversial Common Core.

Check it out. Compare what they say, below, to what Utah’s Sutherland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Boston’s Pioneer Institute, Bill Evers at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, or thousands of other patriotic, education-loving, anti-Common Core parents, teachers and intellectuals have to say:

Here’s the local board’s side of it: http://www.wasatch.edu/cms/lib/UT01000315/Centricity/Domain/27/Common%20Core%20FACTS%20revised.pdf

vs.

NPR news:  http://stateimpact.npr.org/indiana/2012/09/26/why-common-core-academic-standards-are-dividing-republicans-on-education/

Education Week and Romney’s stand on Common Core: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/09/mitt_romney_doesnt_think_the.html

Here’s Sutherland’s several: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/article_detail.php?id=3276&type=Press+Releases

http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/news/2012/07/18/fact-checking-usoe-claims-on-common-core/

Pioneer Institute’s several:  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

Heritage Foundation’s:  http://blog.heritage.org/2012/08/03/indiana-superintendent-obama-administration-nationalized-common-core-standards/ and http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/12/a-national-education-standards-exit-strategy-for-states

Thousands of Utahns who signed the petition: http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com

 

— and there are so many more who have pointed out that “facts” about Common Core, as they are being presented by our school board on our local district website, are simply not true, or are only half-truths.   It is quite sobering.

So, why do they do it?  Why not show the facts and the national dialogue about Common Core, to be transparent about the pros and cons and real concerns of teachers, students, and parents?  I do not know.  But I have a solution.

Solution: vote them out. Vote for people who will study the issues, and who won’t rubber stamp everything Arne Duncan’s troops and the state board push as “good for” the local people.

Vote for Mark Davis and Shad Sorenson.

Wilma Cowley, nice and grandmotherly though she is, simply does not return emails.  It is not acceptable to ignore the community that voted for you in the first place and to disregard serious concerns.

She refuses to study the pros and cons of Common Core and refuses to explain why.  She never says anything during the school board meetings and just allows others to talk.  Kind, adorable, but not tough and not diligent in researching enough.

It matters.

Her opponent, Mark Davis was willing to meet with concerned citizens and was willing to listen to our concerns about the dramatic changes in the way our state collects student data (via the Utah Data Alliance, the State Longitudinal Database, and the P-20 child tracking systems.)

He was also open to hearing the truth about Common Core.  He was not automatically buying all the drooly praise that Obama and his educational elites offer concerning the Common Core without seeing some references.  He is no wimp.  He stands up for what he believes in, which I know only because he told us some stories that I don’t have permission to share here.

Vote Mark Davis.

Shad Sorenson said, in the “Meet the Candidates” forum, that he was glad Utah had backed out of the SBAC testing consortium.  So he gets it.  He understands that Common Core hurts local control.

I prefer Shad Sorenson to Jen Kelson because Shad has done some homework on Common Core, which Jen has not.  Kelson (like Wilma Cowley) never returns an email.  She talks, talks, talks at board meetings and never listens to concerned teachers and citizens like me.  We don’t even get a return email–nothing.

School board members should study the facts and the scary contracts and academic limitations of Common Core.  Our current board simply doesn’t address anything that the USOE  and Arne Duncan aren’t selling.  I can’t respect that.  I want new people in there.

There are serious issues in American education today, and we need local school board members who know it and who study it so they can be in a position to protect our children and the quality of their education and their data privacy.

Vote Shad Sorenson.

Lastly, I have no comment about whether anyone votes for Blaik Baird or his opponent; they both, at the Meet the Candidates event, seemed to be unconcerned in any way that Common Core might be harming our educational system.  They believe it’s all Arne Duncan and Obama and Larry Shumway have said. Even though it ain’t the truth.

After all this time, they still haven’t cracked the books on it.  So it’s probably not going to matter which one of those two gets elected.

But Sorenson and Davis are better, I think; I hope.

I’d give them my vote anyway.

Alisa Ellis: To Wasatch School Board July 2012   Leave a comment

Mr. Judd,

Thank you for taking the time last month to sit down with us as concerned citizens and listen to our concerns.  As I told you last month I would not be expending a lot of energy pushing for public comment about this policy. It’s unfortunate that the board decided to write a “non-policy” when confronted with voices from their constituents.  We are not misinformed nor ignorant.  Many of the parents questioning these decisions are parents of some of your highest performing students.  We value education, we value teachers, we value children, and we value freedom.

It is for these  reasons that we are making your life and the board’s life a little more difficult.  Being challenged is good because it causes one to think.  Is there any merit to what we are saying?  You and the board may not think so but there are voices all over the Country that share my concerns and no they are not all of the same political spectrum.  This comment made me think: (from a Facebook discussion)

 ‎Alisa Olsen Ellis, what I find interesting and at the crux of your question is that right wing conservatives think socialism is behind CCSS, and left wing liberals think fascism (corporatism) is behind Ed Reform.

Is it a socialist movement? Is it “Common Core” as in “Communism”…which is extreme socialism? Is this part of Obama’s great socialist plan for the US: Obamacare and Obamacore? Will Common Core stifle innovation and the drive to succeed?

Or is this a Fascist movement? Is dismantling teacher unions and eliminating seniority the means to allow a nationalistic, authoritarian government? Is CCSS and the illusion of choice and vouchers an outward sign of intolerance. Do we keep hearing about rigor and skills as part of the need to discipline our nation’s children?

Which leads to me wonder, does it matter? The end result of either is slavery to an undemocratic system.

 

Please take the time to listen to concerned parents.  We aren’t asking for much, really.  Everyone from the district keeps telling us that they “would NEVER give out our children’s personally identifiable information”.  All we’re asking is that Wasatch School District has a policy in place that reflects the above sentiments.

Wasatch School District will never give out personally identifiable information without the prior consent of the parents.

This pretty much covers everything.  The medical form can have a check box on it where the parent gives permission for that information to be released in cases of emergency.  Maybe this is too simplistic but you guys tried it so I thought why not, I should too.

Please take the time to read my comments from last month — they still apply and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

P.S. Parents keep telling me that they are being told that if they don’t like this or that they can always pull their kids out of school and homeschool or put them in a private school, etc.  Is this really how we’re going to treat parents who have questions?  Tell them to go away — regardless of where our children go to school, we are still tax paying citizens who have a voice in what happens in the public school system.

Previous 30-day comment period’s letter to the Wasatch School Board from Alisa:

From: Alisa Ellis <alisa.ellis@gmail.com> Date: Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM Subject: FERPA comment To: vicci.gappmayer@wasatch.edu

To Whom It May Concern –

I want to first thank you for answering our request to put the FERPA policy revisions up for a thirty-day review.  I want to make it clear that the intentions of my heart are far from contentious.  I understand that you may not see it that way.  I’ve avoided e-mail conversations because it is very hard to interpret tone and meaning through an email message.  I would much prefer an open dialect.  In this case that is not possible so I will do my best to put my thoughts down on paper.

A citizen asked me what I’m afraid of.  Do I think a black car will start following my kids?  This was tongue in cheek but an appropriate question.  The answer is NO.  I also believe the local administrators and board have the best of intentions and truly want to protect our children.  What I ask of you today is to make sure that the policies that our district votes to adopt truly reflect the intent of your hearts.

It has been said that the FERPA revision was to protect our children.  I recognize that as a citizen I cannot see the full scope of what was behind these changes but I can read the changes themselves.  (Wasatch FERPA old & new)

The changes put into place in our local policy give more exceptions to the rule.  In 9.2 it gives permission for “organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools.”  I am not opposed to all studies but my children are not guinea pigs.  Why on earth do organizations need my children’s personally identifiable information without my parental consent?  It is my right as a parent to decide what studies I’d like my children to be a part of.

Further at the April 19th meeting the changes to number 3 were not mentioned.  If I may make a suggestion I’d like to suggest that we as a district be more specific in our policy.

Who is an authorized representative?  As defined in the Federal Register the term is somewhat vague.  They state that they are doing this to streamline and protect children’s data but at the same time they are opening up our children’s personally identifiable data to just about anyone, as I see it.  Please clearly define this term.

I spoke with Carol Lear who is the in-house attorney at the State Office of Education.  She told me to just put a note in each of my children’s files stating that I do not allow Personally Identifiable Information to be released.  That is not good enough for many reasons one of which is that in Appendix B of the Federal Register it lays out “certain rights” as a parent “with respect to the student’s education records.”  In number 3 it then says “The right to provide written consent before the school discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent”.  As you can see I have no power as a parent.  The policy overrides that authority.

You may be thinking that we won’t let anything happen that is not in the best interest of our children here in Wasatch County.  What I’m saying is that if the policy doesn’t clearly state your intentions you too may have no power just as my parental authority has been stripped.  We need to stand together to protect our children as parents, citizens, and educational representatives.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

Heber City Resident

Further items to Consider:

Race to the Top for the District

This was just announced in May and the Executive Summary is out for review.

Page 13

Program Requirements

5.  Work with the Department to develop a FERPA-compliant strategy to make all

implementation and student-level data (FERPA compliant) available to the Department or

its designated monitors, technical assistance providers, or research partners.

As I see this it is now circumventing the State office of Education and our district, if we apply, would be beholden to the Federal Department of Education be required to send them whatever information they ask for.

Recovery Plans from 2010 – i.e. Stimulus Bill

STATEWIDE DATA SYSTEMS RECOVERY PLAN

1. Program Purpose:

The purpose of assistance under this program is to enable State educational agencies to design, develop, and implement

statewide, longitudinal data systems to efficiently and accurately manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student

data. In addition, the program may support awards to organizations to improve data coordination.

Drumroll, please… Thursday night the Wasatch School Board will unveil yet another FERPA policy   Leave a comment

Dear Wasatch School Board,

I may pull out my hair and run screaming from the room if it is apparent in this Thursday’s school board meeting –as it was at the last meeting– that the board has not done any meaningful research on the facts concerning federal FERPA, and that the board remains Constitutionally ignorant, believing that the federal government has more authority than the state and local government and local district/parents have, over our own children and our children’s private data.

To be very, very clear:  The Federal Register outlines, on page 51, that new federal FERPA altered regulations make it no longer a necessity for a school to get student’s or parent’s consent before sharing personally identifiable information; that action has been reduced to OPTIONAL by the Dept. of Education. There is no parental consent requirement nor any meaningful privacy regulation governing schools anymore, from the federal level.

Wasatch School District has a moral obligation to do better than the federal law is doing.

Even the USOE’s Brenda Hales gave out a paper on FERPA  that shows (page 3) that the federal FERPA uses “permissive” language.  This means we need to fortify our local privacy policy because the federal FERPA would permit almost anyone access to students’ private, identifiable information.

I highly recommend that the new district policy should state that parents will always be asked before the district shares any personally identifiable information with anyone outside the district.

Christel Swasey

——————————————————————————————-

By the way, blog readers:  if you live in the Heber Valley and have not yet written an email to the board for this 30-day public comment period, please do.  Yes, I know they ignored us the last time, but Vicci Gappmayer retired last month and James Judd, her replacement, is much more reasonable and open to public input.  Email him at james.judd@wasatch.edu .

If the Founding Fathers Came to Heber City   Leave a comment

There is wisdom in acknowledging the inspiration of our Founding Fathers and in supporting political candidates who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.

Likewise, we should support school boards who show by their actions that they are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.

I do not think our Founding Fathers would stand up for the side that is fighting to give away FERPA parental consent law and states’ constitutional rights.  They would not favor stripping FERPA law and would not approve of the  Common Core Initiative, which promotes many things, including federal government access to children’s data without parental consent.

But the “feds-trump-all” side is the side our local school board appears to be standing with, whether they realize it or not.  We must kindly but firmly hold our school board accountable for overturning parental rights last Thursday night.  We must hold our governor and state school board accountable for overturning Utah’s sovereignty over education to the Common Core Initiative and its testing system and tight federal controls. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

A great American civic and governmental leader who also served as a prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson, wrote, “Civic Standards For The Faithful Saints.”  http://www.lds.org/ensign/1972/07/civic-standards-for-the-faithful-saints?lang=eng

He said:

“… Our wise founders seemed to understand, better than most of us, our own scripture, which states that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority … they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39.)

“To help prevent this, the founders knew that our elected leaders should be bound by certain fixed principles. Said Thomas Jefferson: ‘In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.’

“These wise founders, our patriotic partners, seemed to appreciate more than most of us the blessings of the boundaries that the Lord set within the Constitution… In God the founders trusted, and in his Constitution…

“President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., put it well when he said:

“God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they may be. Under His plan our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up. So runs the oath of office of those who participate in government. A certain loyalty we do owe to the office which a man holds, but even here we owe just by reason of our citizenship, no loyalty to the man himself. In other countries it is to the individual that allegiance runs. This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. It is one of the great principles that distinguishes this ‘land of liberty’ from other countries.” (Improvement Era, July 1940, p. 444.)

“’Patriotism,’ said Theodore Roosevelt, ‘means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. …

“’Every man,’ said President Roosevelt, ‘who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.’ (Theodore Roosevelt, Works, vol. 21, pp. 316, 321.)

“And the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “… let the people of the whole Union, like the inflexible Romans, whenever they find a promise made by a candidate that is not practiced as an officer, hurl the miserable sycophant from his exaltation. …” (DHC, vol. 6, p. 207.)

“…’I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth,’ said the Prophet Joseph Smith. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.)

“The warning of President Joseph Fielding Smith is most timely: ‘Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don’t save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change of government.’ (Conference Report, April 1950, p. 159.)

Another guideline given by the First Presidency was ‘to support good and conscientious candidates, of either party, who are aware of the great dangers’ facing the free world. (Deseret News, November 2, 1964.)

Fortunately we have materials to help us face these threatening dangers in the writings of President David O. McKay and other church leaders…But the greatest handbook for freedom in this fight against evil is the Book of Mormon.

This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. “And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,” says Moroni, “and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.” (Ether 8:21.)

“Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.

“Then Moroni speaks to us in this day and says, “Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (Ether 8:14.)

The Book of Mormon further warns that “whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed. …” (Ether 8:22.)

“… By court edict godless conspirators can run for government office, teach in our schools, hold office in labor unions, work in our defense plants, serve in our merchant marines, etc. As a nation, we are helping to underwrite many evil revolutionaries in our country.

“Now we are assured that the Church will remain on the earth until the Lord comes again—but at what price? The Saints in the early days were assured that Zion would be established in Jackson County, but look at what their unfaithfulness cost them in bloodshed and delay.

“President Clark warned us that ‘we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known. …’ (CR, April 1944, p. 116.) And he stated that if the conspiracy “comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.” (CR, April 1952.)

“Now the third great civic standard for the Saints is the inspired word of the prophets—particularly the living president, God’s mouthpiece on the earth today. Keep your eye on the captain and judge the words of all lesser authority by his inspired counsel.

“The story is told how Brigham Young, driving through a community, saw a man building a house and simply told him to double the thickness of his walls. Accepting President Young as a prophet, the man changed his plans and doubled the walls. Shortly afterward a flood came through that town, resulting in much destruction, but this man’s walls stood. While putting the roof on his house, he was heard singing, “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet!”

“Joseph Smith taught “that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (DHC, vol. 5, p. 265.)

Suppose a leader of the Church were to tell you that you were supporting the wrong side of a particular issue. Some might immediately resist this leader and his counsel or ignore it, but I would suggest that you first apply the fourth great civic standard for the faithful Saints. That standard is to live for, to get, and then to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)

“A number of years ago, because of a statement that appeared to represent the policy of the Church, a faithful member feared he was supporting the wrong candidate for public office. Humbly he took the matter up with the Lord. Through the Spirit of the Lord he gained the conviction of the course he should follow, and he dropped his support of this particular candidate.

“This good brother, by fervent prayer, got the answer that in time proved to be the right course.

“We need the constant guidance of that Spirit. We live in an age of deceit. “O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” (2 Ne. 13:12.) Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing…” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1949, p. 163.)

“The Lord holds us accountable if we are not wise and are deceived. “For they that are wise,” he said, “and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:57.)

“And so four great civic standards for the faithful Saints are, first, the Constitution ordained by God through wise men; second, the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; third, the inspired counsel of the prophets, especially the living president, and fourth, the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“God bless us all that we may use these standards and by so doing bless ourselves, our families, our community, our nation, and the world, I humbly pray, as I bear my witness to the truth of this great latter-day work, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Amen, President Benson.

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