Monthly Archives: May 2012

Children are Unique

In manufacturing parts from materials, we strive to create uniformity and consistency. In raising children, everyone knows within their home that their children are all unique with diverse interests, talents, and abilities.

Progressives largely view children as objects which can be acted upon and shaped to their specifications. For decades they have sought to create the perfect widget in education so they could take children and mold them into pieces ready to be fitted to the purpose for which they have planned. They have wanted to track children from birth into the workforce and now they have just about succeeded by implementing Common Core.

In February 2012, the Utah Education Network released a press release announcing the selection of Choice Solutions as the partner to implement the P20W database to track our children from pre-school, through college, and into the workforce. Marc Tucker’s dream of a cradle to grave system which he wrote to Hillary Clinton in 1992 is coming to fruition and we are jumping in with both feet thanks to bureaucrats who jump into federal money like it’s an inviting hot tub.

Someone sent me this article yesterday (One-Size Education Doesn’t Fit by Donald Devine) which goes back a step further to a 1989 National Governor’s Association meeting chaired by Bill Clinton where national standards were a major topic and eventually led to No Child Left Behind. Now Common Core promises to complete the circle by bringing national standards and assessments under the federal umbrella and store all our children’s personal information (including medical) in a near cradle-to-grave system of widget manufacturing. Children aren’t widgets! They aren’t things to be acted upon. They have free will and need a system that allows for them to work within their own personal capabilities and interests.

A radical idea to transform what kids learn in school by Marion Brady in the Washington Post

Educate for human variety not uniformity by Lynn Stoddard

We should be setting the bar high, but recognize the infinite variety within each child and allow for them to have an educational path that meets their needs and desires and allows them to achieve the goals and dreams they have.

If you are not familiar with the articles listed above, I strongly encourage you to at least browse through them to become familiar with the concepts.

 

 

The Incredibly Biased Common Core Survey

Last week someone alerted me to a survey on Common Core that was posted on UtahPolicy.com. It appeared to be sponsored by KSL and the post author was Bryan Schott. The survey was incredibly biased as you can see below. In addition, I received an email that had been forwarded out by Diana Suddreth at the Utah State Office of Education where she instructed staff to:

Please distribute this very important survey to interested stakeholders.  We won’t talk about the statistical implications of a survey dependent on people logging in to take it…unless we have to.

How embarrassing is that? Naturally, if the survey went their way, they would claim it as accurate. If it didn’t, they would talk about how it’s a not a valid representation of opinions. Fortunately for them, they got one of their own to write the survey to make sure it came out just like they wanted.

Here is how the survey was posted when people were taking it, and how it NOW appears on the UtahPolicy results page (click to see all results and leave a comment). This is a textbook example of how to intentionally deceive the public and the creator of the survey and the people that posted it should be ashamed of themselves.

When asked As now presented after tallying
An emerging debate in public education is Common Core standards.1. In your opinion, which side is right?
Supporters who say these voluntary standards were developed collaboratively by leaders in many states, not by the federal government, to establish more rigorous achievement goals that will prepare students to compete in a global economy. No change
Opponents, especially arch-conservatives, who fear Common Core standards will compromise Utah values, threaten local control of education, and impose one-size-fits-all requirements. Opponents who fear Common Core standards will compromise Utah values, threaten local control of education, and impose one-size-fits-all requirements.

Note the bolded text. The first phrase “especially arch-conservatives” doesn’t even appear in the question any more but was there for all the vote taking. Other words denote very negative feelings and the entire answer is colored in such a way as to create a negative impression. Further, it seeks to isolate Democrats who might oppose Common Core because they value local control and more freedom for teachers and students. What Democrats would want to associate themselves with “arch-conservatives?” The results bear this out as 0% of Democratic Insiders voted for the opponents of Common Core. The survey did it’s intended job.

The writer then published 39 comments, 17 in the section following this question. Only 3 on the entire page seemed clearly against common core. I personally received several emails from people who left negative comments and none of those were published. Any respectable publication would never have engaged in this type of childish politicking. For a major news organization (KSL) and a website (UtahPolicy) that claims their mission is to “help leaders in the Utah Public Policy Industry obtain those skills and insights, save time and perform their jobs better,” I give them both an “F” on this humiliating effort.

When they decide to actually do an objective job of researching and reporting, it would be interesting to see how public opinion actually sways since most of the public doesn’t even know what Common Core is. We’re still waiting for the USOE to respond to the direct rebuttal of their “fact” flier. We sent it to them, the state school board, legislators, and the media. They weren’t happy about it, which might be why they wanted to put this survey out.

 

ObamaCare Coming to a School Near You

Obama Pours Millions into Building and Renovating Healthcare Centers on School Campuses

As the U.S. Supreme Court mulls the constitutionality of the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act which appropriates $200 million for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program, last Wednesday $75 million in taxpayer money became available to build and renovate health clinics inside schools. The recommendations “envision a greater federal role in make [sic] health part of the academic curriculum.”

According to the CNSNews article,

 “Wellness is not relegated to an occasional health lesson or physical education class—it is part of math, science, lunch and everything in between. It means providing teachers with professional development related to children’s physical and emotional development, and integrating health into every subject, reward system and classroom management strategy.

Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health said,

“[T]hese recommendations represent a major culture shift in how the nation views health – health will no longer be separated from education, transportation, housing and other clearly connected policies,”

School Based Health Centers Services usually include

  • Reproductive/Sexual Health services
  • Mental Health Care
  • Immunizations
  • Dental Services
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Chronic Disease Care
  • Acute Care
  • Well-child Exams

Could it happen in Utah? It already has.

Several have been built in Utah in the last few years. Canyon Heights School Based Health Center is located between a college, a high school and a Jr. High in Davis School District and includes mental health services and family planning.

Are your Child’s health records safe?

“Schools (will) track health and wellness data, which would be used to make “data-driven decisions” about how health and wellness impact student learning.”

With new FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) changes urging schools to share personally identifiable information (See footnote 1 below) which includes biometric and psychometric data, with state, federal and private organizations (without parental permission), adding health clinics to schools makes additional private records accessible to outside interests. In addition, FERPA trumps HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) (section 160.103 & see footnote 2 below) so anything written into FERPA will overrule HIPAA laws.

The goal is to track all children (which Utah has signed onto with a Preschool to Workforce database implementation) and their personal records from Pre-K to age 20 and into the workforce.

What’s the Big Picture?

In this short video, US Dept of Education’s Arne Duncan outlines the Administration’s goal of 21st Century Education and how School-based Health Care Centers are a part of that vision of 12 hour a day/12 month full-service community schools where children are schooled, fed, and all of their social, physical, mental and health needs are met. No need for parenting! He calls this a “battle for social justice.”

What does this have to do with Common Core?

First the Obama Administration pushed through unconstitutional ObamaCare, nationalized health care. Then in an unprecedented executive branch takeover, they nationalized education through Common Core by persuading State Governors to sign on promising a waiver to No Child Left Behind. First they created a national crisis and then they ‘fixed’ it with more federal control, using your tax dollars.

By building School Based Health Care Centers, the Federal Government has combined nationalized healthcare with nationalized education, removed your parental rights, and seized access to the personal data of your children from their pre-school through their working years.

What happens Health and Education decisions are dictated from the top?

Two Utah High Schools Fined $16,000 and $19,000 for

Not Unplugging Vending Machines During Lunch.

Two years ago Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, creating federal food police at our local schools. Today, two Utah high schools have been fined $16,000 and $19,000. What were their crimes? During their lunch hour, someone accidentally forgot to unplug the soda vending machines for 47 minutes (though students can purchase soda right before lunch and drink it then). Now the students are the ones being punished because thousands of dollars will have to be taken out of their arts and music programs. How does this creates better education or better health?

——–

Footnote 1: from Code of Federal Regulations Title 34: Education

99.3 What definitions apply to these regulations?

“Biometric record: as used in the definition of personally identifiable informationmeans a record of one or more measurable biological or behavioral characteristics that can be used for automated recognition of an individual. Examples include fingerprints; retina and iris patterns; voiceprints; DNA sequence; facial characteristics; and handwriting.

“Personally Identifiable Information:

The term includes, but is not limited to—

(a) The student’s name;

(b) The name of the student’s parent or other family members;

(c) The address of the student or student’s family;

(d) A personal identifier, such as the student’s social security number, student number, or biometric record;

(e) Other indirect identifiers, such as the student’s date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name;

(f) Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or

(g) Information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.”

 

Footnote 2: from Dept. HHS Regulations Section 160.103

Protected health information means individually identifiable health information:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph

(2) of this definition, that is:

(i) Transmitted by electronic media;

(ii) Maintained in electronic media;

or

(iii) Transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium.

(2)  Protected health information excludes individually identifiable health information in:

(i) Education records covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1232g;

Controlling Education From the Top: Why the Common Core is Bad for America

There’s a wealth of clearly written and referenced information –much you may not know– in a white paper released this week:   Controlling Education From the Top: Why the Common Core is Bad for America.  (by American Principles Project and Pioneer Institute)  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf

The first section focuses on the mediocrity of the standards, which have redefined “college readiness” as preparing students for non-selective two year colleges, and not for four year universities.

The paper details the circumvented federal laws, the loss of sovereignty and family privacy, the costs to taxpayers, the misleading and imposing upon states by the U.S. Department of Education, and more.

A highlight of the paper is the observation of math standards by James Milgram, Common Core Validation Committee Member, and by Ze’ev Wurman (mathematician, Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Department of Education 2007-2009, and California Common Core Standards Commission Evaluation member.)

The mathematicians point out that Algebra I is not introduced until ninth grade under Common Core (previous to Common Core, in Utah, Algebra I was introduced in 8th grade).  Common core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, two years behind standards for high-standard states and countries. Common core fails to address mathematical induction and parametric equations, fails to teach prime factorization and barely touches on logarithms. It also fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents.  Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra,” which does not prepare students for STEM careers.

The list goes on and on and on. There is so much to learn in this white paper.

Many of us are printing hard copies, highlighting them, and hand delivering them to local school board members, teachers and administrators.

Please read the document for yourself and share it.

Say NO to Common Core Science Standards

The new Common Core science standards have been released and word has it that the Utah State Office of Education is excited to embrace them. The major issue with these standards is that they don’t teach science anymore, but only an appreciation for science that includes climate change and evolution (without contradictory views).

(read the new CC science standards here)

One review of the science standards was done last year by Ze’ev Wurman who has served as a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Dept. of Education, as well as serving on the California Academic Content Standards Commission. His review shows that these standards are not about raising people who create technology, but are geared toward helping people consume technology. This is easily understood in the framework of events that show the Gates Foundation was the driving force behind the Common Core standards.

(Read Ze’ev’s review of the Common Core science standards here)

If Utah were to adopt science standards, can anyone imagine them NOT adopting the sure-to-follow history standards?

The standards are in a period of public review where they are collecting feedback. On the science standards page, to the right you’ll see a block and link where you can read and comment on the first draft. I would read Ze’ev’s review and then read the standards and make comments.

Then please email your state school board member, your legislators and the Governor, and ask them not to adopt the Common Core science standards which will actually hurt real science. Each of those links will take you to the pages for you to find your representative’s contact information. It is a good idea for you to have a cheat sheet of who represents you and how to contact them so you don’t have to continually look this information up.

SBAC and Utah’s Database

Dear Utah State School Board,

First, thank you for putting on last Thursday’s statewide forum.  It was an admirable display of freedom of speech and thought in America.  Both sides were treated with fairness and respect.

Second, I’m asking you to review some additional research as you weigh educational data-collection methods and as you advise school boards statewide on whether to submit to federal requests for local FERPA revisions.

We realize that oppressive federal controls are in place over the SBAC via our Cooperative Agreement http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf  and for that reason, I believe some state school board members may be wisely leaning toward getting Utah out of the SBAC testing consortium.

There are also unpleasant federal control attempts coming to Utah related to the longitudinal database Utah has built with a $9.6 million dollar federal stimulus grant.  Utah parents deserve to know that the aggregated, purely academic, standardized testing and data comparison of the past is very different from standardized testing set up now.  Testing scores will not be limited to academic data.  All data collected by schools will be up for perusal by virtually anyone, including the federal government.

According to the American Recovery and Reinvestment act, states had to agree to build database systems according to federally dictated standards to qualify for stimulus money. All 50 states are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students. Utah’s database meets all essential components outlined by the federal government.

The database includes non-academic information. (According to the National Data Collection Model) it will include health-care history, nicknames, family income, family voting status, gestational age of students at birth, student ID number,  bus stop times, and so much more –and not just information about kids, but families.

You can view the National Data Collection Model database attributes (data categories) at http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=studentPostsecondary

As of January 3, 2012 the Department of Education implemented changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and overrode the privacy protections Congress included in FERPA, the Competes Act, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act where privacy protection of student information was secure.

The changes allow access to any of the information in the databases by anyone!  (They say “authorized representative” but later re-define it so loosely as to lose all power.)

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC, Creating a Longitudinal Data System, 2006) recommended that states include 10 essential elements when building a highly effective longitudinal data system, and Utah has all ten.  These include:

1. A unique statewide student identifier

2. Student-level enrollment, demographic and program participation information

3. The ability to match individual students’ test records from year to year to measure academic progress

4. Information on untested students

5. A teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students

6. Student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned

7. Student-level college readiness test scores

8. Student-level graduation and dropout data

9. The ability to match student records between the Pre–K–12 and postsecondary systems

10. A state data audit system that assesses data quality, validity, and reliability

Please ask our state contact, John Brandt, to explain and validate what I am saying.

John Brandt
Information Technology Director
Utah Office of Education
801-538-7953

john.brandt@schools.utah.gov

 

To reference the above, here’s Utah’s report to the national data collectors: http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/

Here’s Utah being praised by the national data collectors: http://secc.sedl.org/orc/rr/secc_rr_00088.pdf  (And lastly, when you have 45 minutes to watch this video, here’s a well researched and evidence-based  presentation by an Oklahoma think tank that clearly explains how the data collection councils (P-20 council) literally conflict with parent-empowering FERPA laws.  http://youtu.be/z1pwUSlqerg.)

If you think that none of the data collection technologies are federally relevant, think again.  We are told that we must allow all “stakeholders” access to this database.  The specific stakeholders are listed; included in the very lengthy list of who can or should read all this data are:  “Other public agencies serving children — to understand the relationship between their services and educational outcomes.”

Yes, that would absolutely include the federal government.

Thank you again for all your time, research, and the care you put in to our educational system.  I feel that we are all in this together and if we pool our research efforts we can come up with solutions that are free of federal intrusions and yet uphold educational excellence in this state.

 

Christel Swasey

Heber City

Teacher

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