Oak Norton

National Takeover

I just thought I’d point out that what we’ve been saying for so long is happening right in front of our faces. There is a concerted effort in this country by those who are in positions to wield enormous power, to centralize the education system and bring it under a common roof with their own sentinels at the “Gates” (a little pun for the observant…).

A short time ago we posted this article showing how Arne Duncan is moving to phase out the power of states to set their own standards.

Now the Obama administration is looking to control what’s happening in university colleges of education which has the effect of moving evaluations of teachers and institutions from the state level to the federal level.

“Under the new rules, teachers’ colleges would be ranked based upon how well their teacher graduates do in raising their students’ scores on the Common Core assessments…Instead of teachers’ colleges being evaluated on solid evidence of having taught students a solid knowledge-based foundation, they would be evaluated on a workforce development accountability plan set up by the federal government based upon Common Core Standards.”

Finally, Bill Gates is funding the development of specific curriculum with Pearson to be aligned to Common Core. Recall that Gates video where he says we won’t know if Common Core is successful until standards, curriculum, and assessments are all aligned? It’s all a giant experiment which is now entering the next stage of control.

Those who continue to ridicule and believe that there is no movement toward a national takeover are going to find it harder and harder to make that case. The news just keeps pouring out at a tremendous pace.

 

 

Anti-God Indoctrination in 8th Grade St. George Class

Last week, an 8th grade class in St. George began the day with this excerpt on the board………. Kudos to the student who took these photos and shared them with her mom! Please note this is not Common Core, just the secular humanism religion that is allowed in our public schools.

stgeorge1

stgeorge2

Catch-up Update

Getting ready for the Agency-Based Education conference this weekend has been a big job and made it harder to send out updates but there is a ton that has been happening. If you are not on the UACC Facebook Group, all of these have been posted there in the last week or so. Join now if you want up to date information about what’s happening. This post will need to last you for the next week or so, so just keep returning here and read the next item. The critical ones have a * next to them.

*Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics  (Why SAGE testing is not only harmful but violates ethical standards)

*Gates Is at It Again: The Common Core-Centered “Collaborative for Student Success” (I never thought I’d say this… Thank goodness for the Huffington Post. This article lays it all bare. Read it, share it.)

*Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015  (Hello and welcome to Common Core’s enforcement mechanism)

*VP of College Board’s AP U. S. History Course Discredited (Gotta love a good takedown)

*Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli (from a recent conference, watch some great videos here)

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F (about standardized testing in Florida)

DOJ grants $63 million for social justice school discipline promoted by Bill Ayers (shocking, I know)

Be “That Parent” (this one will motivate you)

Your children deserve better than this, first-grade teachers tell parents (stop high-stakes testing on little kids)

What missing class in Kindergarten means for high school (There are a variety of reasons children miss school. However, ending compulsory education laws would do more to ensure children were enticed to school, rather than enforcement mechanisms and social programs to make sure children don’t miss.)

Teacher SLAMS SAGE Testing

This is a must read op-ed. Then please send it to your legislators, and state and local school board members. Ask local schools and district boards to stop all use of the SAGE test in your schools except as required by state law. Ask the state board and lawmakers to completely scrap the use of this test and eliminate it from the state. It is child abuse.

You can find your legislator here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

Find your local school board members on your district website.

Charter school people should contact their charter schools and tell them to drop the test or you will homeschool or put your child in a school that respects your authority over your child’s education.

Read the op-ed by teacher Debbie Nichols here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865614313/A-teacher7s-opinion-of-the-SAGE-test.html

 

Yet More Election Law Violations in Alpine School District

Unbelievably, more teachers in Alpine School District continue to violate Utah election law and Alpine School District policies (See previous 1, previous 2). At this point, who knows how many schools this is happening in. Highland City Council member Rod Mann posted the below emails which he obtained, to Facebook over the weekend. He gave me permission to reprint his letter which was sent to the Lt. Gov., Utah county clerk, and ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw. His letters are below these letters from a fourth grade teacher at Meadow elementary showing clear violations of the law.  It seems clear that the principal and other administrators must also support these actions as she wrote the names on the faculty lounge whiteboard for everyone to see. Further, after sending out an email to the rest of the school on the 21st, she continued to send emails on the 28th and 30th. The failure of the principal to stop this action shows she was complicit with the actions of this teacher.

Please contact:

The Lt. Governor’s office, 800-995-VOTE, write him at: http://www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/contact/, spencercox@utah.gov

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes: (801) 366-0260

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman: 801-851-8026

Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson: bryant@utahcounty.gov

ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw: vhenshaw@alpinedistrict.org

and ask your ASD board member how such violations of election law and district policy are handled.

Seems to me that this is an institutionalized method for electing rubber stamps to the board. There is only one solution. Enforce the law, and enact partisan school board elections so that locally elected representatives can vet candidates for inclusion on the ballot and not let the establishment run the campaigns of selected candidates using taxpayer dollars.

Please help get out the vote for Wendy Hart, Chris Jolley, and Maynard Olsen tomorrow. They will represent the public interest.

 

dh2

 

 

dh1

 

dh3

Rod Mann’s post from Facebook, used with permission.

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I am sorry to say that today I saw copies of 3 additional emails that violate ASD policy and state election law. Here is the email I just send to Superintendent Henshaw with copies to the the Lt. Governor and the County Clerk along with pictures of the emails.

“Superintendent Henshaw, Lt. Governor Cox, and County Clerk Thompson

Last week I sent you the note below regarding information that was brought up at the recent school ASD board meeting. Today I am sorry that I became aware of 3 additional emails (see attached files) that were sent out from Alpine District Email addresses to recipients using an Alpine District Email distribution list. They promote a specific set of candidates, an inferred set of candidates, helped to organize a campaign event for a specific candidate and indicated that specific candidate names were posted on a white board in the faculty lounge of a school. I am pretty sure that these are all violations of ASD policy and I am guessing that they are also violations of state election law. You’ll notice that most the content of one of the emails is from the AEA. The problem with this one is that a school employee used an ASD email account to forward this information using an ASD Distribution List.

As I said in the email below I have a separate concern if you first hear of such violations from people outside the district. This would indicate that teachers and staff are either 1) ignorant of district policy and state election laws, or 2) are afraid of directly reporting violations, and/or 3) are willfully violating district policy and election law to ensure that the “right” outcome occurs.

It would appear that you have a serious problem with campaign policy and law in the district. I would hope that these get fixed. Please be aware that regardless of the outcome of the election I will use my best efforts to ensure that legislative policies are enacted that will serve as a more effective deterrent than the current code allows.

I would hope that in the meantime that the district would be more rigorous in informing teachers and staff about ASD policy and state election law and then find a means to deter future violations. I would also hope that the county and state would look into what appears a systemic problem with government resources being used to influence election results. Also, I believe there is a good chance that a hostile work environment exists for those teachers who do not agree with the AEA.

Regards,

Rod Mann

—— Original Message ——
From: “Rod Mann” <mannrw@gmail.com>
To: vhenshaw@alpinedistrict.org
Cc: spencercox@utah.gov; bryant@utahcounty.gov
Sent: 10/28/2014 10:27:23 PM
Subject: Campaign emails using Alpine District Resources

Hello Superintend Henshaw,

I attended the board meeting this evening and just want to share with you my point of view on the emails. The board is clearly divided on some issues and that is not bad. Healthy discussion generally creates better solutions. Reading the recent email from board vice president JoDee Sundberg to district personnel (I’m assuming it was to all principals) and Keith Conley’s (principal of Geneva Elementary School) email indicating to staff and teachers who they should support as well as recounting a teacher/staff meeting where he distributed campaign information, shows the strong personal animus that is being propagated throughout district personnel. This is not healthy discussion.

The emails support a viewpoint that the district has its own agenda and uses tax payer resources to ensure that candidates who support that agenda are elected. I would expect you to be very concerned if the first you heard of the email was through the Internet/Facebook. This would mean that no recipient of either Mrs. Sundberg’s or Mr. Conley’s email and no one who attended the meeting Mr. Conley references had the courage to share this information with you as a violation of district policy and/or state election law. How sad it would be if someone who might have considered reporting this was dissuaded from doing so out of fear of potential repercussions (after all the board vice-president seemingly encouraged the behavior).

The principal not only encouraged his staff and teachers to violate policy, he also broke trust with the community he serves by using his time at work and district resources, paid for by all tax payers, to actively work against some of them — in other words he used the resources of government to try and impose his personal (and Mrs. Sundberg’s) will on those he serves. I understand that the Lt. Governor has spoken with you and that an apology to those Mr. Conley sent the email to will be forth coming. The seems insufficient. If an apology will be written, it should be a public apology to all those whose trust he violated and whose funds he misused. I can’t help but wonder if this is the first time this happened. Is an apology enough to prevent it from happening again? I’m not sure. If I was willing to violate district policy and/or state law to accomplish a mission and I knew that if caught I would simply have to apologize, I doubt I would be deterred from acting.

That a board member would abuse her authority and encourage district personnel to violate district policy and the law is also disturbing. Were I on the board this certainly have diminished my trust in her and might affect my willingness to engage with her. Do you really want a board where open hostility reigns and trust is absent. I don’t envy your challenge.

I would encourage you to not just let this blow over, but to take active and public steps to ensure that there are strong incentives in place to discourage this kind of behavior going forward. That will go a long way to restoring trust.

A quick note on another matter. A city attorney attends all council meetings and most work sessions in Highland (I imagine that most other cities do the same). This allows all council members to directly ask questions and receive an immediate response. I find this practice to be of great value. I would recommend the same for the school board. That would eliminate any perception that the administration is blocking certain board members from obtain legal opinions on matters pertinent to the board.

Regards,

Rod Mann
Highland City resident and city council member

Open Letter from NV Mom

Christina Leventis, a mother from Nevada, has had it with Michael Petrilli of Fordham Foundation, for his unwavering support for Common Core.
Christina Leventis and her husband are in the photo.
Christina Leventis and spouse

Dear Mr. Petrilli:

It is near impossible to catch my breath between your compulsory admonishments on “embracing the core.”  I continue to read them and I continue to reject them.  Your reasoning is unsound and, frankly, I simply disagree with you.  So, I have a question for you Mr. Petrilli.

What if I just don’t want my children to be taught under the Common Core State Standards or any aka there of, period?

I do not understand this game of tug-of-war over my children.  In polite society, Mr. Petrilli, when a mother says “No, thank you” on behalf of her child, she means “No, thank you.”  It is not code for “verbally abuse me until I lay my child at the altar of Thy-Will-of-Bill-Gates-Be-Done.”

My mind ponders at length the accomplishments of Bill Gates.  He is an excellent example of the American dream.  Bill Gates capitalized on American freedom to live as he pleased; to learn in a way that fit him; to create and build for himself and his family.  The irony that Bill Gates is now using his amassed millions to usurp that same freedom from American families and to pigeon-hole the nation’s children into a standardized learning that suits him is grotesque and unjustifiable.

I had the privilege this past week to meet some of the national moms standing against this federal rush for our children.  I looked long and hard at each of them because I was looking for something specific.  What I found was a group of moms: funny, wise, sharp, thoughtful, sincere, caring, focused, genuine, and much more.  I didn’t find what I was looking for though.  I didn’t find any bullies.

The mothers in this fight are not the bullies – white, suburban or otherwise.  What we are is the last line of defense, in some cases, the only line of defense for our children.  I’m afraid our silence has been mistaken for complacency.  Maybe we were quiet when we should have spoken.  That’s on us.  But we are speaking now.  We tried polite.  We tried firm.  We tried loud.  When we are not being ignored we are being labeled.

If the pushers could stop the diversion tactics for just five minutes they would be able to recognize the point of failure immediately.  The “architects” did not start with the children in mind, whereas, mothers always begin with their children in mind.  The writers begin with job placement – moms begin with giving life.  The writers think assessment – moms think development.  The writers think corporate boardroom – moms think sandbox.   Life is an unfolding of an individual’s soul and spirit – it is not a race of the mindless clones to the factory time clock.

Here is my admonishment to you Mr. Petrilli – I love my children and Bill Gates will run out of money before I ever run out of love for my children.

Sincerely,

Christina Leventis

Nevada Mother

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

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

Another ASD Principal Gets Political – John Burton’s turn

Orem High School Principal Mike Browning sent this email out to faculty on Tuesday, which looks very appropriate.

From: Mike Browning_ohs <mbrowning@alpinedistrict.org>
Date: Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM
Subject: Politics and Public Education
To: OHSFaculty <ohsfaculty@alpinedistrict.org>

Just a quick reminder that as we enter the election window, ASD employees are encouraged to study the issues and involve themselves in the political process.  Since questions occasionally arise regarding appropriate political involvement by school employees, the following reminders may be helpful:

  • Engaging in political activities during contract time or at school functions by district employees or school parent councils is not appropriate.
  • Employees may engage in political activity as private citizens as long as the activity does not involve the use of public funds (equipment, Internet connections, and supplies).
  • Political information should not be displayed or distributed via schools.

Great work on a successful first term of the school year!  Have a good week,

The problem is, Mr. Browning is a hypocrite.

ASD_cardASD_card2I spoke with a teacher last night who informs me that at the faculty meeting at the beginning of October, Mr. Browning told the faculty that he is very involved in politics and that he had a meet the candidate event at his home and one of the candidates is critical in some regard to some issues in Alpine School District (it was unclear if Chris Jolley had actually been invited to this event). He then pulled  out a card (pictured at the left) and proceeded to say how great the Alpine School District is and what it gives to the communities.

This teacher explained to me, “Mr. Browning said, here we have PLCs, collaboration, and such, and encouraged us to have the cards in our wallet and when people were critical of the Alpine School District show them that we support the district and what it does for us and for our communities. While Mr. Browning’s speech wasn’t “technically” a political speech his words were almost, exactly the same as what was said by Mr. Conley in his now infamous very political email sent to his faculty. It is very evident that both of these principals got their information from the same sources, mainly the administrators in the district.  I came away from that faculty meeting knowing full well where Alpine District’s wants were concerning this upcoming election. It’s very evident that the district is on a public relations push to show just how much good the district is doing and that major changes are not needed. This is a way, non-political of course, to show where they stand concerning the upcoming elections. The cards, the words to the principals, which are trickling down to the teachers, all show that the district administration is very concerned about the possible change of direction if John Burton and JoDee Sundberg are voted out.”

 

Here’s some more information that came out after yesterday’s post. It appears current Board President and former long time Alpine School District administrator John Burton may have his own set of problems to deal with. Rick Armknecht posted this in the comments section.

Sadly, the emails shown here may include violations of law on the part of a great many public servants.

Look at the “To” section of the principal’s email: genevastaff@alpinedistrict.org, genevateachers@alpinedistrict.org, jsundberg@alpinedistrict.org, John.Burton@UVU.edu, jcbates@alpinedistrict.org, kbird@alpinedistrict.org

ALL of these recipients were put on notice of the principal’s illegal campaigning as of last Friday (the 24th) morning (assuming that they read their emails every 2 hours or so during work hours). What did they do about it? Looks like one became a “whistle blower.”   But what about the others? IF they read the email sent to them and IF they knew (or reasonably SHOULD HAVE KNOWN) about the illegality of the email AND if their position would imply that they DO something to stop the illegal conduct but they failed to take any action (yes, I know — a string of “ifs” there), then there is a violation of Utah law:

  • 76-8-101. Definitions

For the purposes of this chapter:

. . .

(5)          (a)          “Public servant” means any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision of the state, including judges, legislators, consultants, and persons otherwise performing a governmental function.

  • 76-8-201. Official misconduct – Unauthorized acts or failure of duty A public servant is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, with an intent to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office, or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.

So: What did John Burton know and when did he know it?

It seems to me that ASD has a pattern of doing what they want without any fear of repercussion. The ends (them maintaining power at all costs) justifies the means (violations of ethics and the law, particularly in the case of Ms. Sundberg and Principal Conley). Will there be enforcement of the law? It’s doubtful unless people rise up and say the law matters.

If Mr. Burton is OK with knowing this is going on under his watch as a publicly elected school board member and having been a long time administrator at ASD, he should resign his position and withdraw from the ballot. Nobody knows election ethics more than school administrators and the fact that this is knowingly allowed and even encouraged by inaction is a big problem.

ASD Board Member in Panic Mode – Uses Shocking Tactics

State School Board Candidate Joel Wright in District 9 posted these shocking screenshots to Facebook exposing a pretty clear cut case of unethical engagement by ASD board member JoDee Sundberg and a principal who in turn appears to have violated election laws to support JoDee’s campaign.

What you can read below is a textbook case of how the entrenched establishment works. They elect someone like JoDee Sundberg or John Burton who do anything the district asks of them, and then to get re-elected, turn to the establishment to protect them. They are a massive political party that citizens have an extremely difficult time defeating. What you are about to read is yet another major reason for partisan school board elections in Utah so that citizens have an opportunity to run for school board and be vetted by a smaller number of elected delegates who can dig into a candidate and ignore the sound bites and get to the heart of issues.

Read the fear that fills these emails. They are in full panic mode. The game plan never changes…total fearmongering against those who think independently and challenge the status quo.  Look at the nonsense that Wendy Hart’s opponent has published about her, causing Wendy to write a full rebuttal (particularly troubling after she had the nerve to walk out before the debate last week).

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2014/10/why-have-school-board-taxation-without.html

Start with JoDee Sundberg’s letter below as she pleads for help to school employees on their school email accounts, endangering numerous ASD employees and unethically asking them to engage their subordinates. Then Principal Keith Conley responds trying to rally the troops using his school email account and engages in extreme statements and instructs his subordinates how to vote. No facts, just fear. The sky is falling if they don’t retain their power.

State law prohibits the activities of the principal. ASD’s policies have also been violated and both JoDee Sundberg (16 years on the board – can’t feign ignorance) and Principal Conley know it.

From ASD’s own policy manual:

Rules and Regulations No. 4100 (http://policy.alpinedistrict.org/policy/4100_Internet-Wide_Area_Network_Acceptable_Use_Rule)

“1.1.3 Internet services provided by the school district are not intended for personal, political or private use. Employees have no expectation of privacy associated with the use of the Internet.”

And No. 4060.1 (http://policy.alpinedistrict.org/policy/4060.1_Association_Rights_Policy)

“1.2.1 While on paid leave, certified employees may not engage in political activity including:

1.2.1.1 Actively campaigning for candidates for public office in partisan and nonpartisan elections.

1.2.1.2 Fundraising for political organizations, political parties, or candidates.”

What’s the punishment for doing so when not on leave?

Take Action – Read below and then call/write

1) Now please call the Lt. Governor’s office since Lt. Gov. Cox is in charge of elections violations. If he fails to take immediate action and waits till after the election, it will embolden the establishment that they are a law unto themselves and can get away with anything. They already have this attitude. This seems like a pretty clear violation of the law and involves a superior pressuring subordinates to take action, and using public taxpayer equipment and resources to campaign for a specific candidate.

Call Lt. Gov. Cox at: 800-995-VOTE

Write him at: http://www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/contact/

2) Then call Governor Herbert and make sure he steps up and enforces the law. The Governor cannot simply brush this off. Tell him to support partisan elections. His office can be reached at 801-538-1000.

3) Finally, if you’re able, attend Alpine School District’s board meeting Tuesday night at Westfield Elementary (380 S. Long Drive, Alpine, Utah) at 6:00 PM. You must sign up prior to the meeting starting to make public comment so be a few minutes early if you’d like to ask how ASD handles infractions of their policies particularly when a school board member and principal are involved.

Here’s the stunning exchange. Summary follows:

 

ASD letter

asd letter 1 asd letter 2 asd letter 3

What do you think? Is JoDee’s email ethical? Would you vote for her? Here’s a quick bullet list of a sitting board member communicating with ASD principals whose livelihood can be affected by board decisions.

  • I need your teachers’ help
  • I need them to walk neighborhoods and campaign for me
  • They need to share a message about how wonderful the schools are because of my efforts because my opponent will destroy it all if he’s elected
  • Also I need our other service personnel and administrators to help
  • If our teachers won’t help, I NEED TO KNOW and my campaign is sunk
  • My opponent will dismantle ASD because he’s an extremist while I am completely objective and normal
  • I am visiting SCHOOL COMMUNITY COUNCILS (another election law violation for SCC’s that don’t give equal time to all opponents)
  • I need the teachers to vote and take 5 people with them
  • I know I’m begging you but I need your help
  • I need your money and John Burton needs your money
  • After a meeting where Wendy Hart had the nerve to bring up state laws she’d researched about clubs engaged in sexual topics, we barely passed the motion to support the gay/straight alliance club, and if I’m not re-elected things will get much worse

No summary of Principal Conley’s letter is needed. Unfortunately, this principal has crossed the line.

*******************

Please everyone, get out the vote for Maynard Olsen in Orem, Wendy Hart in Alpine, Highland, and Cedar Hills, and Chris Jolly in American Fork.

 

Random Quote

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.” — John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

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