All posts by Oak Norton

Letters from Science Teachers to Sup. Smith

Brad Smith, state superintendent
Brad Smith, state superintendent

Here are a couple of letters science teachers have sent to State Superintendent Brad Smith regarding the Common Core (NGSS) Science Standards.

 


 

Dear Supt. Smith:

It has come to my attention that you are under the impression that science teachers unanimously believe the Next Generation Science Standards are what Utah needs. I would like to go on the record as a Utah 6th Grade Science teacher that does not believe we should adopt the NGSS for Utah. I would like to share with you some thoughts I have about the proposed standards and I hope you will take the time to read this. I appreciate you doing so!

I have personally written letters to every state school board member, my principal, and my superintendent whom I gave permission to forward my letters to other individuals with interest in this subject including the Governor’s office. I have also attended a public meeting put on by the USOE and voiced my concerns publicly in that meeting. All of the middle school science teachers in my school (6th through 8th Grade) have also met with a local school board member, and our state school board representative, Terryl Warner, where our concerns were shared and documented. I have spent nearly 20 years in a 6th grade classroom. Five of those years in an elementary setting, the rest in a middle school. I currently teach science exclusively with the exception of one period a day when I teach reading. I have a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and was part of the committee at the Utah State Office of Education in 2013-2014 to write the 6th Grade Science OER (Open Educational Resource) Book. I share that with you only to show that my experience with 6th grade science is extensive.

I first previewed the drafts of the proposed new standards in September 2014 at a conference at Weber State University. At that time, we were told that the changes to the standards were made by a large group of teachers and experts in Utah. We were not given copies of the drafts and it wasn’t until they became public that I was then able to do a google search on the actual verbiage of the new standards to find that they are in fact word for word exact copies of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with different numbering. It is disturbing to me that the USOE presented these new standards to a group of current Utah science teachers as being written by Utah teachers when clearly they were not. Since that time the state office has admitted that the drafts are indeed word for word copies of the NGSS and teachers only helped in choosing root questions for them and which standards would go with which grade levels.

I am not opposed to making changes to the current standards. With that being said, I was surprised by the fact that virtually all the science concepts we have been teaching in 6th grade are not part of the new standards with the exception of heat energy. The new standards are very environmentally heavy and move from talking about microbes, heat, light, sound energy, space and astronomy to mostly global warming and human impact on the environment. My concern about this move in 6th grade is two-fold. First, the concepts currently being taught in 6th grade are exciting to the students. They are engaged in the many hands on labs that naturally fit with the current standards. This piques an interest in the sciences that is healthy and strong for students moving into secondary education. In my opinion the new proposed standards are not exciting topics for 11 and 12 year-olds, nor are the students mature enough at this age to sift through all the information and misinformation that is out there about global warming (One of the performance tasks required in the new drafts). It’s not that I don’t think students should learn about these topics, it’s that I don’t believe it should be in the 6th grade curriculum. I think it’s important to note this because I believe the Next Generation Science Standards were not written by anyone who has spent the last 20 years in a room full of 6th graders. If we are trying to prepare students for future science and engineering jobs, adding performance tasks and engineering objectives to the current content would seem much more appropriate to me. This could easily be done if the new standards were truly written by a team of Utah teachers, Utah college professors, and Utah scientists with input from Utah parents. Second, changing the content so drastically puts a huge financial strain on Utah 6th grade teachers. Elementary level teachers are not given a budget for science, (even if they teach in a middle school setting). ALL 6th grade teachers in the state of Utah will have to start over buying science lab materials using money from their own pockets.

Lastly, my biggest concern with the NGSS is that key science concepts are missing that will leave gaps in learning. Why is matter and energy repeated throughout 6th-8th grade as almost an overkill of that subject whereas other key science concepts are completely removed from the new standards. This is very concerning to me as a 6th grade science teacher. Please talk to more science teachers around the state about their opinions of the proposed drafts. I am sure there are more than you think that believe adopting the NGSS is not the direction we should be going.

Thank you for your time to read and consider my thoughts,

Dana Wilde

Morgan Middle School 6th Grade Science Teacher

Morgan County School District


 

Dear Mr. Norton

My name is _____ I am an elementary teacher in southern Utah. In the past I have taught 5th/6th grade science. I am only a part time teacher so you can understand that I would be concerned with the State superintendent knowing my name so I would appreciate it if you removed my name when you passed this on to him.

Dear Superintendent Smith,

I have taught 6th grade science for the past two years, the new science standards that Utah is trying to adopt are not a good fit for Utah. I and at least one other 6th grade teacher that I know of, did the survey and expressed our concern for the new standards. So your understanding that most science teachers like the new science standards which come from the NGSS is incorrect.

I have several problems with the NGSS that are listed below.

1) They are a one size fits all set of standards, they do not take in consideration Utah’s unique geology, agricultural economy, & its people.

2) They have severl political standards such as “6.2.4: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century”, “6.4.1: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment” and “6.4.3: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems”. These are very odd requirements to put in a 6th grade science standards. These belongs in a college level environmental debate class not in a 6th grade classroom.

3) I have seen the other NGSS standards for the lower grades and they do not allow a teacher to delve deep into each concept. They require a very shallow teaching of the standards. I understand that the theory behind this is that each year will build on the previous year. That is not how younger minds work. Students need an understanding that they can take with them to high school. They need to be exposed to the basics of many different sciences. If we did a scope & sequence that would work better then this.

4) The man who brought us this, Brett Moulding, is the same man who brought us the last set of standards that everyone complains about. If the last set of standards were not acceptable why would we take his word that these ones would be any better.

5) I know that many people are circumspect about the Fordham Institute report on the NGSS Standards but isn’t it worth a second look. This report for 2013 states that Utah’s current science standards are superior to the NGSS that the USOE is considering. Why can’t there be an open debate between representatives on both sides? Instead of just shoving one opinion to the side. That goes against scientific inquiry. All sides must be heard before an assessment can be made. Here is the link to that report http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7.pdf

These 5 reasons are just scratching the surface about what I feel is wrong with the new Utah science standards, but i know that you are a busy man so I thought these would be worth thinking about. I am doing this anonymously because of the tensions that are surrounding this and other common core standards. I don’t have faith that those of us that have a different opinion will be allowed to voice our opinions without repercussions. I love teaching, I love helping young people discover their potential but these standards are stiffing my ability to do just that. I will never sabotage my students learning for a political agenda but I think that we all want the same thing. We want what is best for our students so we need to come together and figure that out. It would be hard, long, & arduous but worth it in the end. Thank you for your time.

Southern Utah 6th grade teacher

Special Education Student Tragedy in Utah (and probably elsewhere)

I engaged in the following shocking email exchange with a Utah teacher this past week. Underlined text is my emphasis.

We are rapidly losing any semblance of local control of our schools thanks to the national reform movement led by people like Bill Gates and Jeb Bush.


“Oak,

You have opened my eyes today to the UN.  I did a little research–and it was not much before I came across this statement in the Preamble to The Korean UN World Education Conference 2015 for goals 2030: “No education target should be considered met unless met by all. We therefore commit to making the necessary changes in education policies and focusing our efforts on the most disadvantaged, especially those with disabilities, to ensure that –no one is left behind.”  Sound familiar?  We have been in the process of dismantling special education resource classes as they have been traditionally taught and are being assimilated into regular education as tutors teaching CC standards.  The transformation is almost complete and nobody is the wiser.  It defies the existence that a disability even exists.  Unbelievable!

Special Ed teachers are told just to service (foretold) classified students in the regular classroom on the common core and not the remedial curriculum adapted specifically for students with disabilities.  The district will begin to monitor that we do.  A great deal of classified students have focus issues so it will be a real challenge.  Nothing special about special ed. anymore.  Regular ed. teachers don’t know what to think and are shell shocked by all the changes–a lot of going along out of fear and behind-the-scenes resentment and verbal defiance.  We lost a lot of really good veteran teachers in May because they differ with new administration who are very black and white and switching things up a lot–and we are the (figure removed) highest academic school in the state, historically.”

**

Oak: I asked for clarification at this point about how this was taking place and if SE students were being forced into regular classrooms, and if all the teachers were upset and this teacher replied with this:

**

“No, our students remain classified, but we don’t pull classified students into small SE groups or use specialized curriculum targeted at the disability any more.  We now go out into the regular classrooms and work under the direction of regular ed teachers to target learning of classified students–or perhaps sometimes regular ed. students, who need to access the common core.  It is now all about the CC.  Big paradigm shift.

Yes about everyone being upset.  We hear it is all based on some government research back east in Virginia and everyone needs to just do it.  They bring in an outside expert, Mike Mattos, to indoctrinate staff a couple of times a year and talk as if every school is the same and needs to do the same thing.  I have worked at a Title 1 school and my current demographic high income school.  They are totally different worlds in my opinion and do NOT have the same needs.  Mattos talks a lot about what corporations will need and that, “the business of schools is to supply those needs.”

Mike is linked to the Annenberg Institute for school reform.  Just found this:

The College Readiness Indicator System network, also referred to as CRIS, is a joint effort of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) and the John W. Gardner Center (JGC) at Stanford University, and is generously funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here’s an article by Mike.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr13/vol70/num07/How-Do-Principals-Really-Improve-Schools%C2%A2.aspx

I have seen a huge reduction in recent years in SE district wide training and collaboration between schools in district so it is hard to know what others outside one’s school think.  District trainers just come to your individual school now to give top down training and don’t ask for input.  When I first joined the district in ____ all schools were “site based managed” and everyone said so.  That has all disappeared.

To be honest, socialist corporate/national collusion I have suspected over the past decade, and am now experiencing at work is frightening and angering me at the same time.  I never thought I would have this kind of fear about my own country–I am very upset!  I struggle to sing the national anthem and say the pledge each morning with my students with what I now know.  I often think about informing the principal that I can no longer do it and not to be surprised.  I feel citizens and children are manipulated, duped and it isn’t even hidden anymore.  I feel educators have been stripped as professionals, used, lied to, and controlled.  I have loved my career for over 30 years but now feel like a pawn forced to indoctrinate innocents with humanistic thinking and ideas I don’t believe in to benefit the wealthy who I loath and resent.  Technology, greed and the drumbeat of feigned equality have blindly robbed liberty and that saddens me.  This all reminds me the “The Children’s Story, But Not Just for Children” by James Clavell.

http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-childrens-story-by-james-clavell/

Use what you want from my emails but I wish to remain anon.”


 

***

Oak again: Hearing things like this makes one wonder what the real agenda is behind the Gates Foundation sponsoring eugenics conferences…

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/06/melinda_gates_talks_eugenics.html

UACC Symposium Videos

Did you miss out on the recent UACC symposium, “Empowering Parents”? Here’s some of the videos from it.

Your financial contributions help us continue to sponsor important events and provide this content to you. Please make a donation today.

 

Big Ocean Women on Data Collection

 

Jenny Baker on Common Core 101

 

Vince Newmeyer on Science Standards

 

Rod Arquette, KNRS talk show host

 

Joy Pullmann from the Federalist

 

Josh Daniels from Libertas Institute

 

Utah teacher speaks out on charged curriculum

The below email was sent to me by a Utah public school teacher with permission to share.

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

We were mandated to use a specific remedial literacy curriculum/software about 4 years ago grades 3-6.  After only one year, the district replaced all of the materials and software at some considerable expense with the NG or “New Generation” version. We were told to turn back in any previous materials and discontinue use.  We as teachers had no idea what that NG meant.  I started to notice “College to Career” statements everywhere in the lesson plans –not openly discussed with the educators so it had little meaning to me.  Sounded nice.

What I noticed on my own, and before the whole Common Core thing came up as an issue, was that the topics were very socially and scientifically biased.  Topics that covered a month of activities each, covered racial, immigration, earth resources use, animal humane/exploitation issues, etc…  There were no differing views, but a railroaded view and conclusion with student answers actually formatted so they had to orally or in written form answer in a certain way with pre-scripted emotionally-charged dialogue sentence starters (“It was hard for Carlita when her mother couldn’t stay and had to return to Mexico for awhile, and Carlita felt that…”).

The topics seemed to be age inappropriate and more adult oriented and politically controversial.  Issues that I never would have approached before.  Needless to say, I was and am uncomfortable teaching material that I do not personally agree with (and likely most of the parents) and do not wish to indoctrinate with topics and discussions that can be disturbing to younger children.

 

Provo USOE Meeting Report

Here’s a quick rundown on the Provo USOE meeting this past week. Syd Dickson was running the meeting and got up and started asking people for concerns they had with the standards. Frankly, I was stunned at the length and breadth of concerns people expressed. A very short list: the process of adoption; government control leads to a decrease in achievement; what makes us think this will work; who will be held accountable when they fail; who was involved in writing the standards; in adopting 6-9 grade standards which are integrated we are heading toward adopting k-5 and 9-12 without even seeing them; limits curriculum options because of the standards; what are the costs of adoption; people can’t trust USOE; why is the public just now aware of NGSS being what was copied to the Utah SEED standards; lied to about not adopting common core in science; concern over what else are we adopting from national standards like sex ed; inappropriate topics for 6-8 graders like politically charged items; and passing out 6-8 grade standards that didn’t even show all the content that teachers would be given so we could properly evaluate the standards.

The list went on and on. They filled roughly 10 easel size pages with concerns.

Three state school board members were in attendance, Joel Wright, Mark Openshaw, and Brittney Cummins. I haven’t had time to speak with any of them but Joel Wright did tweet one of my comments that this was a rubber stamp process.

After listing many of the concerns and chewing up about 20-30 minutes with that, we moved to public comments. Syd Dickson started out by announcing she felt cyberbullied this week over the video that was posted showing her and Dr. Martell Menlove stating Utah would never adopt Common Core science or social studies standards. She made a few comments which I can’t recall precisely now but I felt she was trying to split hairs saying NGSS isn’t really Common Core because it was created by Achieve and not the CCSSO/NGA so they’ve been honest saying we wouldn’t adopt Common Core science. This is completely wrong. During public comment I was the first to get up and explain the following.

In early 2012, during the same time frame and same state school board members, an employee of the USOE contacted me and told me that the USOE was internally planning on adopting the Common Core science and social studies standards. Outwardly they were telling people (and publishing online) that they had no intention of adopting CC science and it was a fallacy that adopting math and ELA were a slippery slope to science standards adoption. I said I was not surprised in the least that the USOE had brought NGSS/CC science to the state board as the standards they wanted to adopt. The state board didn’t create these standards or request them but the USOE and their supporters want to claim that the state board supports these standards because they voted to put them out for public comment. This is a major fallacy as the state board members had nothing to do with this and just voted to get public input on what the USOE had “created” for Utah.

(to watch the video and see other facts about the adoption lies go to this page: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/)

Near the end of the meeting, Steve Whitehouse, a charter school board member, corroborated my story and said that he too had correspondence with USOE employees in this early time frame that they were telling him the USOE had full intentions of adopting these other national standards while denying it publicly.

It is also insane for the USOE to claim that Next Generation Science Standards aren’t Common Core because Achieve Inc. receives its funding from the Gates Foundation as did the CCSSO & NGA. Gates money funded all sets of national Common Core standards (science by Achieve, and math and ELA by CCSSO/NGA). Pappa Gates funds everything in the Common Core village.

Further, NGSS itself says this on its FAQ page:

http://nextgenscience.org/frequently-asked-questions

Will the new standards be the Common Core State Standards for Science?

In the end, the decision to adopt the standards and make them consistent between states lies in the hands of the states themselves. The goal was to create robust, forward-looking K–12 science standards that all states can use to guide teaching and learning in science for the next decade. Thus, the National Academies, Achieve, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) collaborated with states and other stakeholders to ensure the standards are of high quality—internationally benchmarked, rigorous, research-based and aligned with expectations for college and careers.

How will states use these standards documents?

To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole without alteration. States can use the NGSS, as they are using the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, to align curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional preparation and development.

NGSS standards were always intended to be the national science standards to compliment and be implemented with Common Core ELA and math. The USOE lied to the parent review panel telling them these standards were Utah created and written when they’ve been planning this adoption for years.

Also of great concern is an issue Vince Newmeyer raised. A state that does not give attribution to NGSS is either in violation of the copyright or it is a tacit admission the state is in the process of “adopting the NGSS in whole.” So a state doesn’t have to declare the attribution if they are planning to adopt them in whole if they only start with a part.

Now, what’s wrong with the standards themselves? They are integrated so instead of discrete years of studying separate topics and subjects, things are clumped together in a “crosscutting” fashion to address a topic from multiple scientific angles. This obviously has some benefits, but I would have greatly preferred the USOE pull in teachers from around Utah, come up with our own crosscutting plan that matches our already good standards, examined standards from other states that are highly rated, put together a plan in a transparent way, and then implemented it starting in K-4 and add a year at a time. Starting in 6-8 guarantees that things children were taught in one year will be retaught to them in the next year or two again causing boredom. Mid-stream implementations are problematic as we saw with the CC math implementation when children repeated an entire year of math because CC math slows down the curriculum by a full year (algebra 1 is completed in 9th grade instead of 8th unless you are in the honors track by 7th grade).

For a few specific examples of what’s wrong…

One public school teacher got up and said how much he loved what these standards were trying to accomplish but then apologized several times and stated how some were so poorly written he couldn’t even understand what he was meant to accomplish. Syd Dickson told him he had nothing to apologize for, but I took it as a sign of the fear teachers have in speaking out against things that come from the state office. I believe the standard he brought up was 6.4.2 which says:

“6.4.2 Develop a model to generate date for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.”

Huh? Where is the clarity?

Here’s a couple of the 6th grade standards:

“6.2.4 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.”

“6.4.3 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.”

This is meant for 6th grade discussion and it’s clearly already headed down a controversial path. Global warming is not fact. There are all kinds of issues with it and it is totally inappropriate to introduce such a thing to 6th graders. Same with the potential for discussions on overpopulation. These types of issues are best left for later high school or college, where they are presented clearly with the best arguments on both sides of the issue. It’s way too easy to indoctrinate students by presenting things early in life as factual which are actually under much scrutiny. Students place way too much trust in teachers as the authority figures and if the standards and curriculum lay down a certain path, those students are going to believe it forever.

In 7th grade we get more controversy.

“7.2.4 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

Wow is that ever one sided. It’s no longer the theory of evolution in these standards, it’s factual and you need to explain it and make inferences to explain how one life form evolved into others. There are massive holes in the theory of evolution. This does not address any of them.

There are still two science meetings left. Be sure to attend the one closest to you (click for details: Logan and Salt Lake). The USOE has no doubt invited their pro-supporters out (even though they started off with these public meetings by just posting an announcement online and not inviting school districts at all).

To me, the only solution I see at present is for personnel change at the USOE. It must have its budget cut. They provide no classroom benefit, they are all about putting us on national standards, and the state board is so far letting them take us down that road and relinquishing their own power (although I just heard positive news they have sent back the Fine Arts standards the USOE proposed because they are the national standards version as well).

Here’s press coverage of the Provo meeting:

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2485453-155/religion-nationalization-fuel-debate-over-new

http://fox13now.com/2015/05/06/parents-talk-climate-change-evolution-as-board-of-education-seeks-feedback-on-new-science-standards/

Here’s a video recording of the meeting.

Utah’s Deceptive Science Standards Adoption

The Utah State Office of Education is pushing to have Utah adopt the national “Next Generation Science Standards” which is Common Core for science (and happens to be rated much lower than our current science standards). To do this, they have been deceptive with the public and the parent review committee telling everyone these standards were written by Utahns when in reality they are national standards. We have been promised that Utah would not adopt these science standards (or for social studies or health), but the current people at the USOE are forging ahead, handing the public a stripped down version of the standards to avoid “overwhelming” them, but planning to give teachers the full set of standards once approved. It’s Deja Vu all over again… Listen to them in their own words on this video.

Please write your school board member and legislators and tell them the USOE is violating their promise by trying to push national science standards on Utahns.

http://schoolboard.utah.gov

http://le.utah.gov

 

Here is where the USOE posted on their website that the math and ELA adoption would not be a slippery slope to adopting the science, social studies, and other Common Core standards.
http://www.utahpublicschools.org/

(click to enlarge)
ccss1
ccss2
Check out Alisa Ellis’ side-by-side comparison of the science standards here. You can see how the USOE merely renumbered them to tell people they are Utah standards, but used the NGSS/Common Core science standards verbatim.
UT vs NGSS 6th

**********

Audio and video for the video above was pulled from these sources (and special thanks to those of you who go to these meetings and listen to them online to bring these things to light. Thank you for being involved.)

Alpine School District Training (first file, 38 m 45 s)

http://sbs.alpinedistrict.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=850

Education interim meeting (2 h 7 m)

http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=7992&meta_id=230368

Vernal USOE meeting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPXdr4TQVXY&w=560&h=315

Letter from Diana Suddreth and Sydnee Dickson about national standards

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/usoe-wants-national-standards-limits-to-parental-powers/

Is your school violating the law?

Has your school notified you of your parental rights?

If you have not been notified by your local school of your rights detailed below, ask the school why they are violating the law and ask your school board member to ensure all schools in your district are following the law. This statement is from SB 122 passed in 2014. It is state law.

http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/sb0122.html

47          53A-15-1502. Annual notice of parental rights.
48          An LEA shall annually notify a parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the LEA of
49      the parent’s or guardian’s rights as specified in this part.

What is specified in this part? OPTING OUT OF SAGE TESTS! (Among other things)

86      (9) (a) Upon the written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse
87      the student from taking a test that is administered statewide or the National Assessment of
88      Educational Progress.

If your school has not notified parents of this right, bring it to your principal’s and school board members’ attention.

Further, new state law passed this year 2015 (http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0204.html, line 92), and signed by the governor mandates that teachers may not incentivize/reward (line 238) or punish SAGE test participation or withdrawal through opting out, and may not use it in grading students (lines 90-93).

On April 10 “The Utah State Board of Education approved amendments to Rule R277-404 Requirement for Assessment of Student Achievement aimed at clarifying the rules and procedures for parents or guardians who wish to opt their public school students out of state tests. Parents or guardians will be asked to fill out an opt-out form at least one day before the test is to be administered.” (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary.aspx#Opt-out)

NEW STATE SCHOOL BOARD POLICY (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary/materials/R277-404-April2015.aspx)

“Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from a state administered assessment without further consequence by an LEA.” (pg 7)

“Upon exercising the right to exempt a child from a state administered assessment under this provision, an LEA may not impose an adverse consequence on a child as a result of the exercise of rights under this provision.” (pg 7)

UPDATE 4-28-15: 2014’s parental rights bill allows for opting out of SAGE. However, Senator Osmond has indicated that 2015’s bill doesn’t take technical effect until July which is after the school year ends. Therefore, teachers have a right to use SAGE in their end of year grading. However, for those who opt out, it appears there is nothing in the law that allows teachers to use an alternate test in your child’s grades. My previous line here about students taking an alternative test was triggered based on Judy Park’s statement at the bottom, but no alternative test is provided for in Utah law, and next year teachers cannot use this test in grades at all. So opting out should not impact your child, or cause your child to have to take an alternative test. See Wendy Hart’s comment below.

Senator Osmond wrote this email to someone explaining the situation.

“The law itself becomes effective on May 12 (or 60 days from the adjournment of the Legislature), but its implementation was always intended to begin in the next school year. Again, that was the intent. So, technically this is the reason for the confusion.

The bottom line is that the both the Legislature and the Utah Board of Education are communicating that the law is to be effective beginning the next school year. This means that teaches may tie SAGE results to grades for this year. But after this school year it will be against the law to do so.”

Wendy Hart, a board member in Alpine School District, posted this to Facebook:

There is no legal requirement from a state level for your child to take an alternative test. I have not heard of a ‘replacement’ test that one ‘orders’. So, this is a local school thing. If it is a local school thing, then there must be a board policy that was adopted in an open, public meeting that REQUIRES students to take this alternative and specifies where/how this is to take place. Otherwise, this is just an administrative-level decision and it does not hold any legal weight. If the teacher was willing to write his own test, then again, this is an administrative thing. Even though this is a charter school, their board meetings are still subject to Utah Open Meetings Laws. All agendas should be publicly available, all policies, all audio of all meetings. They would need to show me chapter and verse as to their authorization for this action. But that chapter and verse cannot, in any way, conflict with existing state law.”

Dr. Gary Thompson posted this on Facebook and I agree.

“Unless your kid is in grade 9-12, the effects of “grades” are not worth stressing over.

I mean really? So a 6th grade kid goes from a B to a C…or even a D because he does not take a test?

So what.

I’m sure Harvard won’t give a damn, and neither should you…especially when they are using it as a bullying tactic.

Call their bluff.

Pull your child.

Ask me how many times someone has asked me about even my GRADUATE school grades in the last 7 years since graduation.

Tell them you would be more than thrilled to have your child take the test..any test.. when they can produce validity reports for them.

Otherwise, let them know that you refuse to allow your child to be used as experimental fodder for a private testing company.

P.S. If they hand you something and say its a validity report, feel free to scan it and send it to me directly.

Several parents have sent me administration produced “validity” reports on the SAGE. Each and every one of them were AIR and/or USOE produced public relations essays.”

The truly aggravating thing is that we are asking 3rd graders and on up to sit for 2.5-3 hours at a time taking a year end test that will do NOTHING for learning. It’s grueling. I’m one of those accountants who took the CPA and CMA exam, both 16 hour exams, and each section was an endurance test along with the knowledge, and this was for someone in their 20’s, not 8 years old.

As per instructions from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park on 9-23-14 to all schools:

“3. When a … parent or guardian opts‐out of a state‐level test, no academic penalty shall result for the student. If teachers/schools use any of these tests for grading/promotion decisions, some alternative assessment will need to be provided…
5. Any student who is in school and not participating in testing should be engaged in a meaningful educational activity. Students not participating in any testing should not be singled out in any negative way nor should the student or the class be administratively punished in any way because a student opts out of testing…

This instruction should prevent teachers from giving unfair alternative assessments to students.

UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents – May 13

“UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents”

at UVU’s Sorenson Student Center

May 13, 2015

(Register below) (parking is available adjacent to the student center for $1/hour)

Come join Joy Pullmann from the Federalist (and formerly of the Heritage Foundation), Rod Arquette, Senator Al Jackson and his wife Juleen, and many others speaking on empowering parents. Also, come to a special showing of Tim Ballard’s documentary, The Abolitionist. Register below and please do it today because seating is limited.

8:30am -Sign In

MORNING IN-DEPTH PARENT WORKSHOPS – maximum 60 participants (UVU Classrooms in the Sorensen Student Center 206g, 206h, & 214) –

Cost to Participants- $5.00 to attend all of the workshops

9:00-12:00 Workshops – filled on a first come first served basis

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
9:00-10:00 Common Core 101 –
Jenny Baker
The Next Frontiers: Data Collection from Birth to Death—
Joy Pullman
Principles of the Constitution-
Stacey Thornton
Laureen Simper
10:00-11:00 DATA-
Big Ocean Women
The Difference between Progressive and Effective Education –
Joy Pullman
Parental Rights-
Heather Gardner
11:00-12:00 Will national Science standards be coming to Utah?
Vince Newmeyer
SAGE Testing- Should I Opt-Out?
Wendy Hart
Getting Involved & Making a Difference- Jared Carmen

 

LUNCHEON- ACTIVIST TRAINING (Rod Arquette, KNRS Radio Host Joy Pullmann, The Federalist & Josh Daniels, Libertas Institute)- Center Stage in the Sorensen Student Center

Catered Lunch & Training- $15.00

Training only- $5.00

 

Evening Event – Empowering Parents (capacity 400) – Ragan Theatre at UVU in the Sorensen Student Center

Starting at 6:30 PM

Five Strings musical group, Joy Pullman and Senator Al & Juleen Jackson

Tim Ballard with Operation Underground and showing of The Abolitionist

 

Clicking submit at the bottom of this form will open a payment form to complete your registration. The form IS transmitting all information securely over SSL.

[wufoo username=”oaknorton” formhash=”s6b22n21vs2aqw” autoresize=”true” height=”897″ header=”show” ssl=”true”]

 

 

Goodbye school choice? Is your school at risk of federal oversight?

Utah’s SB 235, if not vetoed in the next two weeks, will be the end of real choice in public education in Utah.

Based on the 2014 Utah school grades, and SB 235, here are just a few charter schools who could soon be at risk of being literally taken over by the state and “fixed” by Federally-funded  “turnaround experts.” Note that each of these schools has a high SAGE opt-out rate (percent of students whose parents opted them out of taking the Common Core/SAGE test).

  • Canyon Grove Academy 20% opt-out (D grade)
  • C.S. Lewis Academy 50% opt-out (C grade)
  • DaVinci Academy 33% opt-out (D grade)
  • Gateway Preparatory Academy 25% (C grade)
  • Lincoln Academy 14% opt-out (C grade)
  • Mana Academy 50% opt-out (F grade)
  • Mountain Heights Academy 15% Opt-out (C Grade)
  • Pacific Heritage Academy 29% opt-out (D grade)
  • Paradigm High School 23% opt-out (D grade)
  • Rockwell Charter High School 19% opt-out (D grade)
  • Utah Connections Academy 9% opt-out (D grade)
  • Utah Virtual Academy 22% opt-out (D grade)

 

State officials will (correctly) point out that parent opt-outs are not included in the SAGE portion of the school grade. But that belies two important facts:

1)   Many of the opt-outs come from the most involved parents / highest performing students, so the “school grade” reflects the abilities of the lower-performing students, not all the students in the school. The punishments that SB 235 would inflict on a school thus violate the prohibition on such punishments in SB 122, and

2)   If parent opt-outs (and enrollment in a charter school in the first place) are in any way indicative of parents’ desire for an alternative to Common Core/SAGE, turning these charter schools over to “turnaround experts” denies parents their unalienable rights (confirmed by Utah Code 62A-4a-201) to direct the education of their own children.

What can a charter school (or charter parent) do to avoid being “reformed” by the Fed Ed experts? Forget your charter and teach to the SAGE test. Like every other school in the state. Or, contact Governor Herbert right now and ask him to veto SB 235.