Oak Norton

Who should choose school board members? The governor or the people?

Please sign this petition immediately and share this with your friends and neighbors.

Partisan Elections Petition

Utah citizens only

In support of partisan elections

We, the undersigned, support SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments, which uses partisan elections to vet candidates and allow locally elected delegates to narrow the voting field of candidates who appear on the ballot. Partisan elections are used with great success in all other major elections in Utah and it makes perfect sense to allow the same process to function in large scale elections for school board members. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial of 10-30-2014 stated that there is no reason to come up with a new method of electing school board members. They stated:

"Actually, they don't need to invent a thing. All they have to do use the same system we use to choose other state office holders. The process that is good enough to elect governors, attorneys general and members of the Legislature... People who want to be on the state school board should go through the same process as people who want to serve in the Legislature... It's good enough for legislators. It should be good enough for school board members."

The current system is broken. It guarantees that a single political party comprised of the UEA, USBA, and other educator organizations, dominate the election of the people on school boards.

Other facts

  • Locally elected delegates vet candidates most effectively
  • Increased transparency by highly effective caucus delegates
  • Lower cost to run for office
  • More people engaged in the issues important to education
  • Board members still represent all the people, just like you represent all your constituents
  • Partisan elections are constitutional
  • Party affiliation just lets you know where their core principles stand
  • State GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Utah County GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Not passing SB 104 would be hypocritical since it is the same system used to elect you

I further request that no bill be passed that involves empowering the governor to appoint board members. The 15 state school board members have control of half of the state's budget. Empowering them to be appointed by the governor instead of through the caucus system that has produced the "best managed state" in the union would be folly and give too much power to one individual.

For further information on why partisan elections are the best system for vetting candidates, please see these resources:

Partisan School Board Election Arguments

Partisan School Board Resolution Debate

Responding to charges against partisan school board elections

The arguments against partisan elections – SB 104 S2

HB 5, “Student Success Act” turns federal strings into chains

You thought No Child Left Behind was bad…  Just wait till the feds “fix” the problem they created in the first place. Here comes the 600 page HB 5, the Student Success Act. What a nightmare. The intro to the bill states:

“To support State and local accountability for public education, protect State and local authority, inform parents of the performance of their children’s schools, and for other purposes.”

After you read the information below, you’re going to need to immediately email and call your state representative and urge him/her to oppose this bill. Here are their contact pages (Utah reps only. Other states go here: https://www.congress.gov/contact-us).

Please do this Monday morning. They will most likely be voting on this in the next couple days.

Rob Bishop – http://robbishop.house.gov/contact/zipauth.htm 202-225-0453

Chris Stewart - http://stewart.house.gov/contact/email-me 202-225-9730

Jason Chaffetz – https://chaffetz.house.gov/contact-me/email-me 202-225-7751

Mia Love – https://love.house.gov/contact/email 202-225-3011

The below information is pulled from Christel Swasey’s blog, though several other sources are available online. (Anita Hoge’s first exposing of this, Anita Hoge’s large summary on NewsWithViews, Wendy Hart’s blog)

Here are highlights with pages, sections and direct quotes:


Subpart 4, Section 6561 (page 564 on the pdf) says:

STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE” –How will a state “expressly waive” its authorities and rights?  –Answer from the bill: simply by having a state legislature accept federal money.

A state that acts “inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance” will waive its authority because the legislature of that state would have “expressly approved that [federal] program”.  If a state’s or a parent’s rights conflicted with a requirement, too bad: the federal bill claims authority to enforce obedience from states because the states take the money.

Read: “…nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey… unless the legislature…. approved that program and in so doing, have waived the state’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary...”  So states have no obligation to obey unless they approved federally promoted programs (which the states have done in multiple ways).

As Ann Marie Banfield wrote: “What is going on here? The Secretary of Education can’t enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states’ rights UNLESS the state legislature gives its consent to participate in the ESEA, which encompasses around $25 Billion in aid to states.  Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their states’ rights and those of the parent over their child if they conflict with ANY requirements of the program.”


On page 567, Section 6564, we read that “…Other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart,  control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the states and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.”

By tying inalienable parental rights to the receipt of funds and federal “obligations,” the bill just claimed authority to take parental rights away, under conditions it has just defined.

Even in the statement of purpose on page 11, the bill minimizes parents and maximizes itself, by “affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”.

To reduce parents to a recipient of government-granted “opportunities to participate in” the education of a child is de-parenting.  It’s far, far different from Utah’s  legal code, which states in multiple places that: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.”


Read pages 78-82.  It mandates that private schools:  “ensure that teachers and families of the children participate, on an equitable basis, in services and activities…  SECULAR, NEUTRAL, NONIDEOLOGICAL.—  Such educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.

What’s a private Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baptist, or any other private religious school to do?  –Alter its beliefs to match mandates for altered materials, equipment and services?

This is the price we pay for “school choice”  and “backpack funding,” folks.  It’s not what they make it out to be.  Where federal money goes, federal chokeholds follow.

The federal government has no right to mandate that private schools must give services  that are secular and non-religious.  (See page 79: it includes in its definition of services: one on one counseling, mentoring, educational television, computer technology and more).



An ombudsman, if you haven’t heard the term, is a paid position, a role in which a person investigates and mediates official complaints for a living.  This bill mandates that private schools will be assigned a state-appointed ombudsman to monitor private schools:  “The State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements.”

On page 82 the bill states that the LEA (school district) must consult with private school officials and must transmit results of their “agreement” to a state-appointed ombudsman.  On page 86 the federal bill allows a private school to complain to the government:  “private school official shall have the right to file a complaint with the State educational agency that the local educational agency did not engage in consultation that was meaningful and timely”.  These are private schools.  They  never, ever have had any legal mandate to report to, complain to, speak to, or even think about state or federal governments.  These are private schools; private means not public, not under government mandates.



On page 535, the bill slashes freedom by mandating equity for private and public schools.  “Benefits provided under this section for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel”.  The government has no right to command a private school to give more benefits, nor to withhold benefits, from private school teachers, staff or children.  The same page states: “Expenditures for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school children, teachers, and other service personnel shall be equal to the expenditures for participating public school children.”  The ombudsman’s job, according to page 80, is to “monitor and enforce” such “equity for private school children”.

SAGE parent reviewer shares concerns

Alean Hunt is a member of the SAGE parent review committee. She is quoted by the USOE as one of the members of this committee that completely supported SAGE. In fact, the USOE uses this statement from her as evidence that none of the parent review committee saw any problems with the SAGE test. She is quoted in this USOE flier as saying, “I didn’t see any real social problems with the test or things that would be controversial. [We] all feel comfortable with the test.”

Of course we know that is inaccurate and that several of the parent review committee members have publicly expressed concerns (link 1, link 2) but that hasn’t stopped the USOE from plowing ahead and using this statement and implying that SAGE is a better mousetrap.

Well, Alean has had a change of heart about the test. This letter from her expresses her concerns.

To whom it may concern:

For the last two years I have served on the SAGE parent review panel.  I have been an outspoken, but concerned proponent of this assessment.  I do support higher standards for our students.  What I cannot and will not support are the following:

1:  High Stakes, End of Level testing being given to students in Feb, like is happening this year. The teachers and scores will be graded on this score, but the year isn’t over.

There are still three months left!

When I called the USOE last Thursday and asked what scores this years end of level writing test would be compared to, this was their response, “We don’t know. We might give the test in February again, or March or maybe October. We haven’t decided yet, it is still up for discussion..”

Okay, so you may or may not compare this years 1/2 taught end of level high stakes test to last years end of level test or to next years end of level test that could be given at 3 very different times on the instructional calendar??? Yes, thanks for clearing that up!

2:  IEP Accommodations are guaranteed by law! The USOE removes some of them during the testing of the SAGE for these students with special needs. And really why shouldn’t they? Just dealing with a disorder that qualifies you for an IEP such as autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, dyslexia, Aspergers, and processing disorders just to name a few are not difficult enough to navigate  every single day! Why on earth would people in charge of doing what is best for the student actually want to do just that and ensure their rights as protected by law?!

IEP’s are followed as written by the experts of those children! The psychologist, the principal, the Special Ed teacher, the Speech teacher, the other team leaders such as occupational therapists and of course, the parents.

Everyone who has ever been involved with an IEP knows we meet frequently to evaluate these accommodations and compare and contrast student performance with them and tweak as necessary to give them the best chance at success they have, what USOE is doing to this process is in direct conflict with this.

3:  I have had several opportunities to have face to face meetings with Glenna Gallow and others from USOE regarding the above mentioned items as well as the following two which are also related to special needs students. Every encounter I have had has left me with a sour taste in my mouth and the distinct feeling that these students do not matter.

First, SAGE scores will immediately appear on the screen at the end of the test with the exception of writing.  Eventually writing will be this way too.

I take issue with this because of privacy, students will look at the computer screens of others. Students will pressure others to tell them their score. Students will feel pressured to tell their score even if they don’t want to. What if a student does poorly, but he did his absolute best work? He sees his poor score and knows he has to do this again for 3 more assessments? How hard will he try?

I have absolutely no problem with administrators & teachers getting the scores immediately and releasing the scores to parents, but I do not see the benefit to the score appearing on the computer screen, visible to students.

When this problem was brought up numerous times to USOE I was told I was the only one who considered it a problem.  When my administrator/principal also expressed her frustration with it,(especially with regards to kids with special needs)she was told by a USOE staff member, “Those students are just going to have to get used to it.”

Second:  SAGE is a computer adaptive test.  This means that if a student answers a question correctly then the next question gets more difficult and vice versa also applies.  However, if the student is taking 4th grade math because of a learning disability, but is in the 5th grade that child will be tested on 5th grade math. The test will not adapt below grade level.  So this high stakes test that will impact school grading, future funding, & potentially merit pay for teachers is testing students on content they have not been taught because they are below grade level.

There is a federal statute that states we have to test kids at grade level, but it was before we had CAT testing and had the ability to actually test these special education students at their actual level.  I believe this could be fixed under our waiver but again, I cannot seem to get anyone at USOE to care to take action towards reforming this very broken system..

4: SAGE was supposed to have enough writing in it that it was figuratively going to replace the


Alean Hunt

The arguments against partisan elections – SB 104 S2

SB 104 is the education elections and reporting amendments bill, also known as the “partisan elections” bill. Today the senate voted 21-7-1 on it’s second reading to pass it. I believe it’ll still have a third reading and another vote but those votes shouldn’t change significantly. It has been amended so that local districts only do partisan elections if the student population in the district exceeds 20,000.

In short, this is the only way to have school board elections be fair and transparent to the voting public. Otherwise we have the 1-party education establishment campaigning for their choice of candidate and telling everyone how it’s unfair that they have competition to who they deem the best candidate.

Today, the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) sent out an email to all school board members, superintendents, business officials and education leaders around the state giving them their talking points to oppose this bill. Here is their email with my comments in-between segments.

This bill will either create the need to make a Constitutional change or will create a lawsuit as Article X, Section 8 of the Utah Constitution indicates that “No religious or partisan test or qualification shall be required as a condition of employment, admission, or attendance in the state’s education systems.”  This is read to include both state and local school board members.  It appears clear that Utah’s founding leaders intended NOT to have partisan politics influence their public education system.

The public in Utah is not likely to make a Constitutional change related to partisan politics in public education oversight and governance.

This item is ridiculous. This is merely saying we can’t put a litmus test on a particular office such as “only Mormons or members of the Democratic Party can hold that position.” It’s why the Framers put similar language into the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  Partisan elections ARE LEGAL and used in a majority of political races in Utah in order to closely vet candidates for office.

Local school board candidates are well known by their constituents, both in rural and in urban Utah.  Local school board candidates often walk door to door to talk with each constituent.  They do not need further vetting by a narrow group of party delegates.

Well known? A school board member runs every 4 years by putting up yard signs and walking the streets asking people to vote for him/her. Sometimes they pass out a flier with their talking points. Attendance at school board meetings is pathetic. Nobody is watching candidates and an extremely small number know anything about the candidates, even just their name! Vetting by a representative sample of every neighborhood in an area is both logical and logistical. When a neighborhood gets together at a caucus meeting and elects people to speak with candidates, they are picking people JUST LIKE THEMSELVES to go ask questions that get beyond the sound bites candidates deliver on fliers and their websites. This is grass roots involvement at its best.

Can you imagine a parent who wants non-partisan elections for school board members, actually spending even 15 minutes with each of 6 school board candidates to try and contact and vet each of them and make an intelligent vote in a primary race to reduce the field? It isn’t going to happen among the masses.

The bill creates a vacuum for many patrons of the district who may not be affiliated with a party.  School board members will largely be held accountable to their delegates that elected them, leaving parents and taxpayers from other views to feel as if on the fringes.  This is less representation, not more.  School board members should be accountable to all members of the taxpaying public and all parents.

Depending on where one lives, there may be a majority of people from one political party. Other areas will flip that or be more balanced. Every party should run candidates that stand for their principles and the members of those parties should vet the candidates to see who has the best ideas so they put their very best candidate forward.

Party delegates are not viewed by the majority of Utahns as representative of their views on many matters, as has been shown most recently by the Count My Vote initiative.

The Buy My Vote initiative is hardly representative of an informed populace.

Delegates may or may not know much about their public schools.  Volunteers and other school community leaders are often in public schools and are much more helpful in vetting candidates for local school board races.  This undoubtedly holds true for state board candidates as well.

Dear USBA, delegates are our neighbors. They have families. They have children in school. They volunteer in schools. They are not from Mars or Venus. When someone is elected as a delegate, it’s a neighbor who we trust to make good decisions after weighing ALL the facts obtained from candidates and their opponents. This holds true for both local and state delegates.

Direct, nonpartisan school board races for local and state races, is already constitutional and restores the voice of the people to this electoral process.

NEWS FLASH: PARTISAN RACE ARE CONSTITUTIONAL. They actually get used quite often in Utah and it’s a big part of what made this the “best run state” in the nation. Non-partisan races never have, and never will “restore the voice of the people.” They are the races that special interests dominate because there is nobody to vet the candidates so their money goes to the “beauty contest” where whoever has the most advertising and “it’s for the children” sound bites wins with the help of the single-party education establishment. Through their channels, they get the word out through the school system as to who to vote for. Non-partisan races only work in small areas. Certainly not in areas where a candidate might not even live in your city.

For those who have further questions or concerns about partisan races, I invite you to read these pages:




Action Item: Email your senator and representative and ask them to vote FOR SB 104, education elections and reporting amendments. Get their email addresses from:


Cutting the federal ties: Step 1

Reposting Wendell Ashby’s post from Facebook.

ACTION ITEM UPDATE: Contact the Executive Appropriations Committee, your Legislators, Superintendents, and School Board members today to support a one-time non-educational allocation, $30 million, to allow for the cutting of Federal ties in Utah’s education.

Members of the State School Board are asking the Legislature for one-time set aside funds, $30 million. This allows the Board to say to the Federal Department of Education, Utah does not need an ESEA Flexibility Waiver and has the money to control our Title 1, tutoring, etc. funds. This restores Utah autonomy for our standards (Do we want Common Core?), teacher and school evaluations, data privacy for students, etc… Please ask the Legislature to support this measure today. Contact the Executive Appropriations Committee, listed below, your Superintendent, and State and School Board representatives, asking them to support these one-time funds, and cut the Federal ties. The Appropriations Committee meets Tuesday the 17th & Wednesday the 18th, to determine priority of expenditures.

Here is why:
In order to get out of some of the onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind, Utah accepted an ESEA Flexibility Waiver. The Waiver required (and the previous Race To The Top grant application incentivized) adoption of Common Core State Standards and Assessments, State Longitudinal Data System, & Teacher and School Accountability measures.

These requirements significantly limit Utah’s autonomy over education, but provide flexibility in program specific funding. A new application for a three-year ESEA Flexibility Waiver is due in March to the US Department of Education. If Utah renews the waiver we are tied to the above provisions for the next three years!

If we do not renew the waiver we would have more autonomy over our standards, data collection practices, school and teacher evaluations. The concern has been without the Waiver we would face a required sudden reallocation of funds. (We would not lose Federal funding, just some directive over how portions are to be used.) Therefore members of the State School Board are asking the State Legislature to provide funds in the amount of $30 million, one-time non-educational funds, in order to be prepared and offset these requirements.

This Tuesday and Wednesday the State Executive Appropriations Committee will meet in the Legislature to determine the expenditures for this year. These $30 million non-educational funds must be added to the appropriations. These funds give assurance of Utah’s budgetary preparation to members of the State Board of Education to not renew the waiver.

Please contact today the Executive Appropriations Committee members listed below. Let’s cut some Federal ties, and get one hand out from behind our back!

lhillyard@le.utah.gov ; dsanpei@le.utah.gov; jwstevenson@le.utah.gov; bdee@le.utah.gov; jsadams@le.utah.gov; jdabakis@le.utah.gov; gdavis@le.utah.gov; lescamilla@le.utah.gov; pknudson@le.utah.gov; kmayne@le.utah.gov; wniederhauser@le.utah.gov; rokerlund@le.utah.gov; parent@le.utah.gov; jbriscoe@le.utah.gov; rchouck@le.utah.gov; jdunnigan@le.utah.gov; fgibson@le.utah.gov; greghughes@le.utah.gov; briansking@le.utah.gov; bradwilson@le.utah.gov;

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

Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard (R), Senate Chair
Rep. Dean Sanpei (R), House Chair
Sen. Jerry W. Stevenson (R), Senate Vice Chair
Rep. Brad L. Dee (R), House Vice Chair
Sen. J. Stuart Adams (R)
Sen. Jim Dabakis (D)
Sen. Gene Davis (D)
Sen. Luz Escamilla (D)
Sen. Peter C. Knudson (R)
Sen. Karen Mayne (D)
Sen. Wayne L. Niederhauser (R)
Sen. Ralph Okerlund (R)
Rep. Patrice M. Arent (D)
Rep. Joel K. Briscoe (D)
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D)
Rep. James A. Dunnigan (R)
Rep. Francis D. Gibson (R)
Rep. Gregory H. Hughes (R)
Rep. Brian S. King (D)
Rep. Brad R. Wilson (R)
Greta G. Rodebush, Administrative Assistant
Steven M. Allred, Deputy Director
Jonathan Ball, Director

SB 204 – Parent Rights Update – Stronger Opt Out Rights

Senator Aaron Osmond has listened to a lot of parents this past year and the sometimes horrible situations schools have put their children in forcing them to take tests they were opted out of, lying to children and telling them it was the law and they had to take it, etc… With the recent USOE memo trying to tell parents what they could or couldn’t opt their children out of, this bill is a major relief to parents. Here’s the changes being made. You can find the full text here:


Words that have a line through them are being removed and if it’s underlined it’s being added.

  (f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a)
89     and Subsection (3) [shall] may not be considered in determining:
90          (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or
91          (ii) whether a student [shall] may advance to the next grade level.

53A-15-1401. Definitions.
132          As used in this part:
133          (1) “Individualized Education Plan” or “IEP” means a written statement, for a student
134     with a disability, that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the Individuals
135     with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.

160          (2) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s written request to
161     retain a student in kindergarten through grade 8 on grade level based on the student’s academic
162     ability or the student’s social, emotional, or physical maturity.
163          (3) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s initial selection of a
164     teacher or request for a change of teacher.
165          (4) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate the request of a student’s parent or guardian
166     to visit and observe any class the student attends.
167          [(5) (a) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a written request of a student’s parent
168     or guardian to excuse the student from attendance for a family event or visit to a health care
169     provider, without obtaining a note from the provider.]
170          [(b) An excused absence provided under Subsection (5)(a) does not diminish
171     expectations for the student’s academic performance.]
172          (5) Notwithstanding Chapter 11, Part 1, Compulsory Education Requirements, an LEA
173     shall record an excused absence for a scheduled family event or a scheduled proactive visit to a
174     health care provider if:
175          (a) the parent or guardian submits a written statement at least one school day before the
176     scheduled absence; and
177          (b) the student agrees to make up course work for school days missed for the scheduled
178     absence in accordance with LEA policy.

192          (9) (a) Upon [the] receipt of a written [request] statement of a student’s parent or
193     guardian, an LEA shall excuse the student from taking [a test that is administered statewide or
194     the National Assessment of Educational Progress.]:
195          (i) any summative, interim, or formative test that is not locally developed; or
196          (ii) any test that is federally mandated or mandated by the state under this title.
197          (b) An LEA may not:
198          (i) require a meeting as a condition of excusing a student from taking a test described
199     in Subsection (9)(a); or
200          (ii) specify the form of a written statement under Subsection (9)(a).
201          (c) A written statement to an LEA to excuse a student from taking a test under
202     Subsection (9)(a) remains in effect across multiple school years until:
203          (i) further notice from the student’s parent or guardian; or
204          (ii) the student is no longer enrolled at the LEA.
205          (d) An LEA may not reward a student for taking a test described in Subsection (9)(a).

217          (11) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to include
218     in an Individualized Education Plan elements that the parent or guardian believes are in the best
219     interest of the child.

To Legislators and Education Leaders: Please Stop Crushing Teachers

This comment was posted on Facebook by a retired teacher. It’s public but I haven’t contacted her to ask permission to post this so I’ve withheld her name.

This is insane. Every time the legislature (federal or state) puts “controls” in place, there are always intended and unintended consequences. In this case, there are some severe consequences as teachers begin to retire in droves. A huge part of the reason is Common Core and the mandates that have come with it, and NCLB.

Here’s the story:


THE CONSEQUENCES OF BEING A TEACHER in an elementary school that received a C in the recently posted school grading system as required by the NCLB waiver:

Teachers as of two weeks ago, must submit weekly, detailed lesson plans including exactly what they will say. After the plans are submitted, the teachers must meet with the principal and two of the EBL (aka curriculum administrators) to review the plans ( actually according to my source, review translated means, “teacher and lesson plan ripped to shreds”). My source was chastised for not having the Pearson/Envision on line homework available to parents and because she wrote “same” on some of what she was going to say in her lessons.)

This must be done until these three administrators are satisfied with the content of the lesson plans. Also, a DETAILED schedule must be posted on the door or outside of the teacher’s room. If it is posted that they will be teaching spelling at 11:00 a.m., they had BETTER be teaching spelling at that exact time since there will regular monitoring. If a teachers fails to comply, they will be “written up” and labeled as insubordinate. Hmmm, the principals of these schools must have their neck on the chopping block also.

This is in addition to the requirements by the district: three detailed lesson plans and three videos of the teacher presenting a lesson to reviewed by the EBL administrators. Also two yearly IPOP evaluations ( principals or administrators can “pop” in at any time) where in a 30 minute period the teacher must show a lesson being presented to an entire class, a group working together, two children working together and one child working alone. Also they must state they they show complete fidelity to Pearson.

This is in addition to the countless hours they must spend entering data into the computer in order to document 80% mastery for each concept taught–1,872 entries required alone for 4th grade grammar concepts, etc. etc.

Four teachers at this school have said, “Enough is enough” and are leaving at the end of this school year.

Dr.Thompson has often stated that this is child abuse. This is also teacher abuse. My source, who is an outstanding and hardworking teacher, has a rash over her entire body from the stress.


One person on FB replied: “This sort of thing can produce a classic ‘death spiral.’ The government forces teachers to go through tons of red tape, which reduces the amount of time and energy that the teachers have for teaching, which reduces the quality of their students’ education, which results in more government-mandated red tape, etc.”

Exactly right.

Teachers all over the nation are retiring because they can’t take it anymore. Schools have turned into a pressure cooker in our maddening desire to “make sure our children can compete in a global environment.

This week an award winning teacher in Ohio shocked the community with her announcement that she was retiring over Common Core.

“I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”

Many other teachers agree with her and the article quotes one as saying, ““We will give the last [Ohio Graduation Test] this year. I don’t know if I’m going to cry when we do, because what we are moving to is unbelievable,” he said.

As a state and within our communities, leaders have embraced the natural outcome of compulsory education. The wrong questions get asked and the answers to those questions reinforce the natural processes of the system.


If we are going to force children to school, what do we want their outcomes to be?

Hey Mr. Corporation? What are your needs? What jobs do you need filled?

How can we make sure every school is compliant and teaching exactly what they are supposed to according to national standards?

How do we make sure no child is left behind and that they are always progressing ON GRADE LEVEL?


How do we best meet the needs of each child according to their parents desires?

How can we help stimulate a love of learning in the children?

How do we help them achieve their dreams?

How can we give children more freedom to pursue their diverse interests instead of overloading them with what someone else wants for them?

How do we ensure children’s privacy and data are completely isolated from any outside interest?


I believe legislators, USOE, USBE, schools and districts, need to back off the extreme testing and curriculum mandates. We can’t keep raising the temperature on the pressure cooker. We need to vent the air before more teachers and students give up and have breakdowns. This is not a healthy environment.

Parents, you may want to seriously look into dual-enrolling your child. In fact, I strongly recommend it. I’m doing it with one of my children right now. She takes a few classes at school, and a few at home. She’s MUCH happier, she’s doing things that interest her, and she’s able to go at her own pace. It’s a great way to go.

State Superintendent affirms natural right to opt-out

Parents may opt out of testing in Utah according to State Superintendent Brad Smith. “The most important legal policy….by constitution, and by what I consider to be natural rights, parents have the right to opt out of anything! They don’t need permission. They don’t need to fill out a form. They don’t need to seek someone else’s response. And, that’s an inherent and integral right of parents.”..“Sage is one of the tests in all of its components that was unambiguously covered by the safe harbor provisions of Section1403 9a. And so that is one that unambiguously there is an opt out provision….But if there’s a question about SAGE, I believe there is unanimity and no ambiguity that SAGE is absolutely something that is subject to..the safe harbor provisions of 1403-9a.”–State Superintendent Brad Smith on the Feb. 2, 2015 USOE memo which restricted things parents could opt their children out of.

If you would like to send Brad a thank you note and encourage him to continue to stand for parental rights, you may email him at brad.smith@schools.utah.gov.


Great Meme to share:

Burning the SAGE test

Awesome news from legislators on SAGE tests. In this article from Ben Wood at the SL Tribune, “Utah lawmakers sour on SAGE test,” Ben shows the about face lawmakers like Senator Howard Stephenson have had on these tests. Several years ago Sen. Stephenson was pushing for computer adaptive tests. Now he’s quoted as saying:

“There will be legislation this year to create a task force to look at doing away with the SAGE test entirely,” Stephenson said during a Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee hearing. “I think we need to be looking at the whole issue of whether we should be having end-of-level tests.”

My favorite quote in the article is Rep. LaVar Christensen’s: “If you’re going in the wrong direction, you don’t step on the gas pedal.”


Bill Schmidt Argues that CC Math is Two Years Behind

How do Common Core math standards compare to high achieving nations? We can look at “Benchmarking for Success,” a late 2008 clarion call for Common Core by NGA/CCSSO/Achieve.

There, on page, 24, when it describes “Rigor” it says:

Rigor. By the eighth grade, students in top-performing nations are studying algebra and geometry, while in the U.S., most eighth-grade math courses focus on arithmetic. In science, American eighth-graders are memorizing the parts of the eye, while students in top-performing nations are learning about how the eye actually works by capturing photons that are translated into images by the brain. In fact, the curriculum studied by the typical American eighth-grader is two full years behind the curriculum being studied by eighth-graders in high-performing countries.” (added emphasis)

This, in turn, cites an editorial-style 2005 piece by Bill Schmidt (one of the CC math standards authors) in the AFT’s American Educator (here):

“By the middle grades, the top achieving countries do not intend that children should continue to study basic computation skills. Rather, they begin the transition to the study of algebra, including linear equations and functions, geometry and, in some cases, basic trigonometry. By the end of eighth grade, children in these countries have mostly completed mathematics equivalent to U.S. high school courses in algebra I and geometry. By contrast, most U.S. students are destined for the most part to continue the study of arithmetic. In fact, we estimate that, at the end of eighth grade, U.S. students are some two or more years behind their counterparts around the world.” (added emphasis)

In other words, Bill Schmidt himself argues that by the end of grade 8 students in high achieving countries cover both Algebra 1 and Geometry, leaving grade 9 to Algebra 2. Contrast that with Common Core that expects Algebra 1 completion in grade 9 for students that don’t accelerate with extra work. In contrast, in the last decade, California, which benchmarked its standards to be six months behind the high achieving nations, tripled the number of students proficient in algebra 1 by 8th grade, and was actually a 5-6x increase for low-socio economic students and minorities. A stunning achievement which should be the model math standards Utah adopts. No need to enter “honors” programs at an early age. No need to double up on classes or take summer coursework. Just the standard path for students. Details here.

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