Monthly Archives: January 2013
Dual Enrollment Guidelines – Opting Out of Math or Other Classes
This post is a duplicate of something I posted a few years ago when serious math issues were happening in Alpine School District (http://www.oaknorton.com/imathresults37.cfm). The purpose of dual enrolling is to allow your child to attend some classes at school, but homeschool or get tutoring for classes you are concerned about (like say Common Core math, or English). Some of the below information may be outdated so it would be helpful to check current laws.
The Home School Legal Defense Association says this about homeschooling in Utah:
Public School Access for Homeschoolers—A Legal Summary
Home school students shall be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school consistent with eligibility standards. School districts may not impose additional requirements on home school students that are not imposed on fully enrolled public school students. Utah Code § 53A-11-102.6
Home school students who are dual enrolled are eligible to participate in any extracurricular or co-curricular activity in the public school available to students in their grade or age group, subject to compliance with the same rules and requirements that apply to a full-time student’s participation in the activity. State Board of Education Regulation R277-438-34. Utah Code § 53A-11-102.5.
Some of the information below may be outdated since this is a copy/paste of a previous post. Please check with the code sections above and your local district administration for questions you have.
- What is dual enrollment?
- State laws concerning dual enrollment
- What is needed to dual enroll
- Parent experiences with dual enrollment
- Where can I see and purchase home school materials
Dual enrollment is where you as a parent decide you want to teach your child some subjects at home and have your child enrolled in public school for other classes. For example, you want to teach math at home but allow your child to continue with other subjects and activities at school.
The school system should mind this as they get full credit (ie. money) for your child being taught in their school but don’t even have to teach your child full time.
(look on the left menu bar under Legal Issues for a couple other useful
Parent Comment: With the new homeschooling laws that took affect last year, I don’t see that a form is required anymore for Dual enrollment. You have to submit a “statement” of your plan to the school/district. There were some modifications up for discussion in this year’s legislative session. I couldn’t see if the amended changes were actually passed, but here’s the link.
State Employee Comment:
Dual enrollment does not require you to tell the school district anything about your plans. All that is needed to obtain the Homeschool exemption is an affidavit (a notarized letter; we’re working on changing the requirement for notarization) saying that the parents will provide instruction for the number of hours required by state law (900 hours/year). The School district is expressly forbidden from reviewing or approving your curriculum choices, and they are required to approve all requests for exemption. http://www.le.state.ut.us/~code/TITLE53A/htm/53A0C003.htm is the actual language of the law as it currently stands. From subsection 2(d): A local school board may not:
(i) require a parent of a minor who attends a home school to maintain records of instruction or attendance;
(ii) require credentials for individuals providing home school instruction;
(iii) inspect home school facilities; or
(iv) require standardized or other testing of home school students.
The proposed changes to the home school statutes died in the House Rules committee last year and were not passed by the legislature. SB72 (the bill you link to) was actually substituted twice before it passed the Senate and moved to the House. This link: http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2006/htmdoc/sbillhtm/SB0072S02.htm goes to the second substitue’s “cover page” which has links to the bill text, committee and floor vote histories, and amendments. The 2nd substitute bill made some additional changes to the dual enrollment statutes as well. The requirement for notarization is a quirk of Utah law. In federal law, an affidavit only requires a signature, but Utah law requires affidavits to be “sworn,” which requires a notary or a court clerk. Sen. Mark Madsen was unfamiliar with the Utah practice and drafted the original bill based on the federal practice; we had a very strong bipartisan support for the bill in ’05 and didn’t want to open any debate by making changes to the bill that created the affidavit requirement.
If a student is fully home schooled, the school loses the state funding for the student. They get the funding back if you enroll the student for a single class or any part of the school day, so they should be eager to allow the dual enrollment status. See section 53A-11-102.5 Utah Code: http://www.le.state.ut.us/~code/TITLE53A/htm/53A0C004.htm. This section of code details all of the requirements for dual enrollment, and might be helpful for anyone wishing to convince the school or district that there really is a dual enrollment provision in the law.
It appears that all you need to dual enroll is to submit a plan to the school such as the following:
Intent to Dual Enroll
I plan to teach <MyStudentName> <Subject> at home on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s from 8-9am and will no longer need to do the work from <SchoolName> in this subject. I do not want my student to be penalized, graded, nor required to do homework in this subject from the school. End of year SAT/Iowa testing can be accomodated in this subject.
<MyStudentName> will be in class at <SchoolName> during the balance of the school day, 9am – 2:30 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays and from 8am to 2:30 pm on Tuesday and Thursdays.
I have had my children for the last 5 years on this dual enrollment. I started with them in 5th grade teaching math at home. They have not had to attend class during for the math instruction nor do they get a grade (which is meaningless) for math. I have taught them up through algebra and then in 9th grade have them start with geometry in Jr. high, so they can get the credit for graduation.
The district has a form that I fill out each year that releases them from the Math instruction.
(Oak note: a district form is not required)
Teacher Comment: I had a student whose parents wanted her doing Saxon math. I was NOT doing Investigations. I had my own textbook that I think is super. The mother gave her Saxon assignments to do while we were doing math, and she did her own thing, usually finishing somewhat sooner than we did.
The mother reported how her assignments were done and gave me scores on her tests. I entered those scores, which I had to calculate to fit percentage-wise with my tests. She got a grade. The mom was OK with that. It worked. It was a small bother. Some teachers wouldn’t do that, but it was OK with me.
I had this situation last year. Math was taught in the middle of the day, so I just sent my son’s math “homework” with him to do during math time. He participated with the class when he was finished with the work I gave him (I didn’t mind investigations as a supplement). I used Saxon and sent the worksheets with him.
Regarding the paperwork for dual enrollment, I spoke first with the principal, then with the teacher to inform them that I would be teaching my son math at home and would be doing “homework” during math time. While they both were quick to assure me that they supplement Investigations, neither one offered resistance to my plan and I didn’t end up having to fill out any paperwork.
I just wanted to stress that my approach was that of a parent informing the school personnel what I had decided. I didn’t justify, argue or persuade. I had made a decision regarding my son’s education and told the school about it and offered to fill out any paperwork necessary. Had my plan required extra work on the part of the teacher, I would have taken a different approach.
Oak, I had a neighbor who did this for math only (Saxon at home). She arranged with the teacher to have him just sit at his desk during that time and work individually on his Saxon workbook. This teacher was very cooperative, and the child understood that he needed to work independently during that time. The neighbor needed to make sure her son knew what pages he needed to work on during that time each day. It worked out great for them.
I contacted you last Spring about this. When I mentioned to my daughter’s teacher that I was considering “opting out” of math (5th grade), she was very cooperative when it came to math. She understood that I wanted my daughter to be given full credit if she got the answer correct using ”traditional” strategies. She understood that I completely disagreed witht he “fluff” of Investigations, and if my daughter didn’t write complete paragraphs describing how she got an answer and then “how she felt about it” that she was still to get full credit. Occasionally I would have to write a note on her homework saying that she had completed the assignment and to call me if she had any questions. I had to occasionally remind the teacher what our “agreement” was, but each time we spoke about it I mentioned that I would be happy to go through the official approval (I didn’t know then that it is called “dual enrollment”) to have her excused from math. She didn’t want me to do that probably because she knew it would be a little more coordination for her (she would have to have math at the exact same time every day, or she would have to let my daughter work on her workbook while the other kids did math) and because I think she understood that my daughter was getting double the math instruction so she would be one of the many kids who would keep the district math test scores high because she was being “tutored” at home. Anyway, my advice to parents wanting to do this is to be firm and to persist until you get the arrangement you want.
My other daughter (10th grade at LPHS) was enrolled in pre-calc honors. There were no pre-calc honors teachers who taught traditional. So, after a couple days in that class (my daughter really wanted to stay on the honors track) we changed to a “traditional” teacher. The honors class went from a full class to being cancelled because when she left there were only 8 kids left in the class because they had all transferred out because they wanted traditional. I spoke with her counselor about it and he acknowledged that there were no traditional honors teachers, but he didn’t have any solution. I also mentioned that LPHS AP Calculus test pass rate had slipped significantly the year before (spring 2005) and asked him if they were going to add more traditional instruction to help the kids do better on national standardized tests and he had no response. That is my biggest gripe with this math–if you only have kids in elementary level, then you can’t see down the road to what happens when they have to take ACT, etc. and compete with kids all over the nation on timed tests that rely heavily on basic facts. My two oldest kids (Freshman at BYU) weren’t hurt that much by it, but my two youngest daughters, especially the sophomore, are the ones who will suffer when it comes to speed and accuracy on these tests.
Thanks for letting me vent–I think we’re getting ready to approach my daughter’s 6th grade teacher and give her the same “option”, which is Investigations “my way” or opting out. Keep up the good work!
We dual enrolled our children for math last year. We lived so close to the school that they came home during math, but we were told by the principal that they couldn’t be unsupervised at school (like in the library) and that they couldn’t just stay in class and read a book or do their “home” math assignments because it would be distracting to the teacher and the rest of the class. So our choices were to either send them home or keep them at school and they would have to participate in investigations math but wouldn’t be responsible for homework and wouldn’t receive a grade.
My wife and I dual enrolled my 15 year old for the last three years. All that is required is filing a homeschool exemption affidavit (which the district cannot deny) and then enrolling the student in whatever classes you wish them to take. [Name] took three years of orchestra and a year of art.
A side note: The state and the school districts have prepared forms for the affidavit, but these forms ask for more information than the law requires. We just send in a notarized letter stating that we’re home schooling. The UHEA form is the best one to use, but the districts may be a bit balky about it.
(Oak note: notarization should not be required by anyone)
I really really like the idea of dual-enrollment for math. As I’ve considered it, I’ve asked my 5th grader when they do math. “Whenever”. So, I’d bet she could do her other class homework during math, or go to the library and work on whatever (my math homework?)… If your child is not disruptive, why would the school care if they were there? If she gets her other class homework done during that time it opens up time at home for math.
(Oak note: I really like this idea–opt your child out and let him/her use it as a study hall to get other homework done so you can do math at home and not other homework)
Our experience with dual enrollment has only been with the junior high school. The “rules” are that the child cannot remain on the school grounds during the class that they’re not taking. I asked if our child at the time could attend the library during that hour and the answer was “no.” So, if this child is in elementary school, it’ll depend on the principal. Another alternative is to come to the school during that class period and take the child to the learning resource center (library) and work on math at the school. I’m sure the school will work with the parent if the parent presents a couple of alternatives.
I have heard of a parent attending school during math time and taking their child to the library to teach them math.
We pulled our #2 son (during 6th grade) out in the beginning of the day (math time) and took him to a local Jr. High for Pre-Algebra. When he got back to the elementary he helpd out with the others in math. Incidently, we pulled him out during the Christmas Break, brought him up to speed in 2 weeks and then he pulled straight A’s for the rest of the year.
There’s probably a lot of places that sell really good home school materials if you want to teach your child at home. For math, I’d just keep it simple and use either Singapore or Saxon math materials. You can purchase them online from this store based in Salem, Utah, next to Spanish Fork. Their address is below in case you’d like to visit them and see the materials hands on to compare them.
“Love to Learn”
741 N State Rd #198
When faced with incorrect school policies and practices, parents can easily feel overwhelmed and powerless. Throughout my Common Core research, I have gathered a few tidbits of law that can help you re-establish your parental rights in the education of your child. Exercise regularly your God-given right to advocate for your child’s best interest, and remind schools and government agencies that your child’s unique needs are better served with a parental representative over a hired one. No amount of social planning, exorbitant spending or teacher training can provide a better representative than an emotionally attached lifelong parent who’s most basic instinct and sacred duty is to lovingly protect, nurture, and guide their child. Regularly claim your God-given right and duty to advocate for your child’s best interest as their primary representative. For as the old saying goes, “Use it or lose it.”
Right to review Curriculum (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
1232h Protection of pupil rights
(a) Inspection of instructional materials by parents or guardians
All instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program shall be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of the children.
Limits on Survey, Analysis, Evaluations, or Data Collection (United States Code, Title 20 1232h)
(b) Limits on survey, analysis, or evaluations
No student shall be required, as part of any applicable program, to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning—
(1) political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
(2) mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
(3) sex behavior or attitudes;
(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
(7) religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
(8) income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program), without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor), or in the case of an unemancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
(c) Surveys or data-gathering activities; regulations
Not later than 240 days after October 20, 1994, the Secretary shall adopt appropriate regulations or procedures, or identify existing regulations or procedures, which protect the rights of privacy of students and their families in connection with any surveys or data-gathering activities conducted, assisted, or authorized by the Secretary or an administrative head of an education agency. Regulations established under this subsection shall include provisions controlling the use, dissemination, and protection of such data. No survey or data-gathering activities shall be conducted by the Secretary, or an administrative head of an education agency under an applicable program, unless such activities are authorized by law.
Activities prohibited without prior written consent (Utah Code Title 53A Section 302)
(1) Policies adopted by a school district under Section 53A-13-301 shall include prohibitions on the administration to a student of any psychological or psychiatric examination, test, or treatment, or any survey, analysis, or evaluation without the prior written consent of the student’s parent or legal guardian, in which the purpose or evident intended effect is to cause the student to reveal information, whether the information is personally identifiable or not, concerning the student’s or any family member’s:
(a) political affiliations or, except as provided under Section 53A-13-101.1 or rules of the State Board of Education, political philosophies;
(b) mental or psychological problems;
(c) sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
(d) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
(e) critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close family relationships;
(f) religious affiliations or beliefs;
(g) legally recognized privileged and analogous relationships, such as those with lawyers, medical personnel, or ministers; and
(h) income, except as required by law.
(2) Prior written consent under Subsection (1) is required in all grades, kindergarten through grade 12.
Here is a brochure to help teach your children to say NO to these types of questions.
Right of the Parent to raise their child without undue government interference (Utah Code Title 62A Chapter 4a Section 201)
(1) (a) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children. A fundamentally fair process must be provided to parents if the state moves to challenge or interfere with parental rights. A governmental entity must support any actions or allegations made in opposition to the rights and desires of a parent regarding the parent’s children by sufficient evidence to satisfy a parent’s constitutional entitlement to heightened protection against government interference with the parent’s fundamental rights and liberty interests.
(b) The fundamental liberty interest of a parent concerning the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children is recognized, protected, and does not cease to exist simply because a parent may fail to be a model parent or because the parent’s child is placed in the temporary custody of the state. At all times, a parent retains a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable destruction of family life. Prior to an adjudication of unfitness, government action in relation to parents and their children may not exceed the least restrictive means or alternatives available to accomplish a compelling state interest. Until the state proves parental unfitness, the child and the child’s parents share a vital interest in preventing erroneous termination of their natural relationship and the state cannot presume that a child and the child’s parents are adversaries.
(c) It is in the best interest and welfare of a child to be raised under the care and supervision of the child’s natural parents. A child’s need for a normal family life in a permanent home, and for positive, nurturing family relationships is usually best met by the child’s natural parents. Additionally, the integrity of the family unit and the right of parents to conceive and raise their children are constitutionally protected. The right of a fit, competent parent to raise the parent’s child without undue government interference is a fundamental liberty interest that has long been protected by the laws and Constitution and is a fundamental public policy of this state.
(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.
(This law goes into great detail and has a few loopholes; click here to see more)
Michelle Malkin wrote a great piece in National Review today. Here’s a link and the beginning of the article.
America’s downfall doesn’t begin with the “low-information voter.” It starts with the no-knowledge student.
For decades, collectivist agitators in our schools have chipped away at academic excellence in the name of fairness, diversity, and social justice. “Progressive” reformers denounced Western-civilization requirements, the Founding Fathers, and the Great Books as racist. They attacked traditional grammar classes as irrelevant in modern life. They deemed grouping students by ability to be bad for self-esteem. They replaced time-tested rote techniques and standard algorithms with fuzzy math, inventive spelling, and multicultural claptrap.
Under President Obama, these top-down mal-formers — empowered by Washington education bureaucrats and backed by misguided liberal philanthropists led by billionaire Bill Gates — are now presiding over a radical makeover of your children’s school curriculum. It’s being done in the name of federal “Common Core” standards that do anything but set the achievement bar high.
Common Core was enabled by Obama’s federal stimulus law and his Department of Education’s “Race to the Top” gimmickry. The administration bribed cash-starved states into adopting unseen instructional standards as a condition of winning billions of dollars in grants. Even states that lost their bids for Race to the Top money were required to commit to a dumbed-down and amorphous curricular “alignment.”
In practice, Common Core’s dubious “college-ready” and “career-ready” standards undermine local control of education, usurp state autonomy over curricular materials, and foist untested, mediocre, and incoherent pedagogical theories on America’s schoolchildren.
Over the next several weeks and months, I’ll use this column space to expose who’s behind this disastrous scheme in D.C. backrooms. I’ll tell you who’s fighting it in grassroots tea-party and parental revolts across the country from Massachusetts to Indiana, Texas, Georgia, and Utah. And most important, I’ll explain how this unprecedented federal meddling is corrupting our children’s classrooms and textbooks.
Children for Sale
By Alyson Williams
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!
Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.
That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?
At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:
Question: “How much will this cost?”
Answer: “These are really good standards.”
Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”
Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”
Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”
Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”
Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’
Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”
It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”
I stopped asking. I started reading.
I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.
I learned a lot.
I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.
I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”
I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.
I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.
I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.
I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.
I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.
I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.
I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.
I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.
I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.
I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?
I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.
I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.
I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.
I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.
Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.
If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?
If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?
What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.
When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!
Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.
As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.
When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.
As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.
When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.
Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.
I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.
If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.
No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.
This was first posted at Common Core: Education Without Representation.
Stop Common Core
Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013
A few months ago a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others. The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side. The heated 1700′s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.
In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free. But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.
There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now. Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation? Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms. Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.
It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.
One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people. The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world. But this is changing dramatically.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core. These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts. Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.
Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided. Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students. Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”
The standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.
The Common Core is an untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment. The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children. The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.
The Constitution and 10th amendment have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education. Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic. Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments. This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.
Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities. Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.
In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise. Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.
The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core. He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue. Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.
The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.
We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education. States did not come together to write and share great ideas. (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had Massachusetts.)
The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009. It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states. The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”. There were 500 points possible. Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points. Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.
Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.
States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible. By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points. By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points. Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait. Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.
We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.
Gulliver’s First String: No cost analysis
One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date. It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.
While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.
If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.
But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children. One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.
Gulliver’s Second String: The myth: that Common Core solves educational problems
The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core. Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems. Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.
Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports. Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.
I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so. Why?
The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.
There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board. The first question on it is: Do you support the Common Core State Standards?
So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.
The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns. We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann. The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.
The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s. This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them. Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.
Gulliver’s Third String: One Size Forever, For All
The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.
Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t fit our needs. There is no amendment process.
Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency. Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.
I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards. She told me, “Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.” Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.
There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education. We may delete nothing. We may add no more than 15% to any standard.
So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck. When we run into another disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon. But it gets worse:
Gulliver’s Fourth String: Problems with national testing
The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing. It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.
There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.” Why? Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.
Why is this bad? What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO. It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.
Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states. This is misleading.
Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested? The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests. Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO will be releasing social studies and science standards. One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum. And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.
Gulliver’s Fifth String: Common Core English: David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation
The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, was wrought almost single-handedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.
Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board. He is aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards. He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.
It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.
Does this differ from actual book burning?
It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning. Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile? Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom? And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics? Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423. Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank. And more. (See: http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )
David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:
“As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ 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.’”
If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.
This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:
- No more cursive.
- Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
- Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.
Gulliver’s Sixth String: Weakening Math
The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.
Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:
– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the country.
– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a non-selective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.
There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.
Gulliver’s Seventh String: Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights
- A current Utah State School Board member said to me, “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equality… you continue to reference freedom over equality.”
- The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America. These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education. The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution. This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
- Predestining kids: Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.” He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
- The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent. Sec. Duncan often says, ”We have to be transparent about our data.” (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)
Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have P-20 tracking councils, and more.
Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.
For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core. They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”. But that code phrase is a deception. College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities. So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards. By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards. It’s like the old Ford Advertisement: You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.” Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”
Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.” It means “non-competitive education.” Yikes. Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information”
What is the effect of these redefinings?
According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.
The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?
Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection. They want access to the data. Words give them access. This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.
Gulliver’s Eighth String: Invading Citizen Privacy
The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money. The SLDS was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.
But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce. It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system. It essentially guides and monitors citizens.
When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children. I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.
They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked. Schools are the starting point.
Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html
While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)
In America, a law is a representative thing. Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.
But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous. Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations. FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example. Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be. But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.
Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used: used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.
I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley. I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.
What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html
There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.
While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”
The now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)
Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )
Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:
Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy. It is important to understand the document. “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.
Our Department of Education is aware of this. Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country. Yes, very limited. Like, not allowed at all.
We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money. But we must not allow them any further ground.
The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.
Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.
Common Core does not improve college readiness. The educational value of the standards is low. And even if they were to be significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.
There is no amendment process for Common Core. The standards have no checks and balances. Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers. It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.
We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.
Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated: In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage. He is right.
Thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core. Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core. At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core. The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it. Let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.
The Home School Legal Defense Association issued a statement a couple weeks ago against the Common Core effort which they view as dangerous to the home school movement. Here is their statement:
December 17, 2012
Common Core State Standards Initiative: Too Close to a National Curriculum
Director of Federal Relations
In 2010, the National Governors Association published their “Common Core State Standards” (CCSS). These were meant as voluntary math and English guidelines which individual states could adopt.
HSLDA and numerous other organizations grew concerned about this push to standardize what public school students are taught. HSLDA wrote two articles outlining our concerns, one in March of 2010, and one in June of 2010. We explained that states were being enticed by the federal government—through the Race to the Top program—to align their state curriculum with the CCSS, resulting in de facto national standards. We were concerned that this would lead to a national curriculum and national test, and that the pressure would grow for homeschool and private school students to be taught using this national curriculum.
During President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech, the president stated, “We’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards.” How were the states convinced to adopt the CCSS? The simple answer—federal dollars. President Obama added adopting the CCSS as a criterion for states to gain points in the Race to the Top education federal grant program, regardless of whether the state already had comparable or superior educational standards. States with the highest points are more likely to win the competitive Race to the Top federal grants.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the CCSS since 2010. Only Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have not.
Are the Common Core State Standards a Good Idea for Public Schools?
Recently, there has been a growing controversy over whether the CCSS are even beneficial. Many states have spent years adopting their own state standards, only to throw them away in favor of the CCSS. Some commentators have said that the CCSS will weaken English learning and reduce analytical thinking. Others point to a weakening of math teaching. Still others point out that the CCSS will cost billions of dollars to implement—which could be deal-breaker for states struggling to implement the standards.
The CCSS by themselves are not necessarily controversial. They’re similar in certain respects to other state curriculum content standards for public schools. However, HSLDA believes that children—whether homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled—do best when parents are fully engaged. And parents are most engaged when they know that they are in charge of their child’s education. Top-down, centralized education policy does not encourage parents to be engaged. The CCSS removes education standards from the purview of state and local control to being controlled by unaccountable education policy experts sitting in a board room far removed from the parents, students, and teachers who are most critical to a child’s educational success.
Will the CCSS Affect Homeschools?
The CCSS specifically do not apply to private or homeschools, unless they receive government dollars (online charter school programs have no such protection). However, HSLDA has serious concerns with the rush to adopt the CCSS. HSLDA has fought national education standards for the past two decades. Why? National standards lead to national curriculum and national tests, and subsequent pressure on homeschool students to be taught from the same curricula.
The College Board—the entity that created the PSAT and SAT—has already indicated that its signature college entrance exam will be aligned with the CCSS. And many homeschoolers worry that colleges and universities may look askance at homeschool graduates who apply for admission if their highschool transcripts are not aligned with the CCSS.
HSLDA believes that a one-size-fits-all approach to education crowds out other educational options, including the freedom of parents to choose homeschools and private schools. A common curriculum and tests based off common standards could be very harmful to homeschoolers if their college of choice refuses to accept a student’s high school transcript if it is not based on the CCSS. Homeschoolers could also have trouble on the SAT if the test is fundamentally altered to reflect only one specific curriculum. And our greatest worry is that if the CCSS is fully adopted by all states, policy makers down the road will attempt to change state legislation to require all students—including homeschool and private school students—to be taught and tested according to the CCSS. Common Core State Standards spreading
The National Governors Association first focused the CCSS on the general subject areas of math and English. However, there is now movement to create CCSS in numerous other subject areas. The National Governors Association is also urging states to align early education programs for young children.
Due to laws prohibiting the creation of national tests, curriculum, and teacher certification, governors and state legislatures are the only policy makers who can actually decide whether or not to adopt the CCSS. While the federal government has encouraged the states to adopt the CCSS through federal incentives, the states are completely free to reject the CCSS.
- To find out whether your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards, you can visit this website’s useful map. (Please note that this is the website for the common core state standards initiative.)
- Contact your state legislators, including the governor, to discuss this issue with them. Ask them about their position on the issue. Find your governor’s current information here.
- If you have a governor’s election coming up in your state, we encourage you to raise this issue with the candidates. Even if a state has already adopted the national education standards, a new governor will be faced with the costs of implementing these new standards and new accountability to the federal government.
- Numerous states that have already adopted the CCSS are considering rejecting the CCSS. Now is the time to help raise awareness of this issue and educate yourself about the CCSS.
- Because this affects all parents, and will not currently affect homeschool freedom, it is not necessary to identify yourself as a homeschooler.