Oak Norton

Utah teacher perverting U.S. history with Howard Zinn

I received this email from someone last week which I think many of you will be interested in. This is not Common Core related, although we all know about the awful perversion of AP U.S. History that has taken place under the College Board which is aligning everything to Common Core. Here is what she sent me. Take action below.

My daughter goes to Cottonwood High School. She had her first AP US History and her teacher told them that the history they learned in elementary was all a lie. They read from “History is a Weapon” by Howard Zinn where he tells them that the US is founded on genocide of the Native Americans. My daughter also tells me that the other students in the class believe the teacher.

Please do the following:

1) Email your local and/or state school board member and ask them to make sure Howard Zinn’s version of U.S. history isn’t being portrayed in your school district classrooms. I would include what this mother’s letter contains.

2) Carbon copy your legislators and the governor on your email.

If you don’t have your legislators email addresses, get them here (http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp)

Governor Herbert’s contact form is here. Copy/paste your email to him:

http://utah.gov/governor/contact/

Devastating math by overemphasizing process

Check out this homework assignment a parent emailed me today which her child got 10/40 on. Most of the problems were correct but he didn’t show his work. 2 of the 10 points were for putting his name on his paper. Clearly a violation of principle for this teacher since his name is memorized and he didn’t draw a picture of himself…

What do you even do with teachers so full of this kind of nonsense. It reminds me of when my daughter was in 4th grade and had to draw 120 circles and separate 30 at a time to do long division. That didn’t last and I explained to the teacher that she understood the concept and wouldn’t be doing that nonsense anymore. Remember, schools are a SECONDARY SUPPORT to YOU in YOUR primary responsibility to educate YOUR children.
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“So I had to pass this along. My son attends Vista Heights Middle School and is in the 7th grade. Attached is my son’s homework he brought back home today. He didn’t get points for the VAST majority of his homework because he didn’t show his work. He didn’t show on paper how he knew his multiplication facts and could add and subtract small numbers in his head. We are now punishing our 7th graders for knowing their multiplication facts and knowing basic math!! I went through his paper and there were a few he did genuinely get wrong. But the bulk he got right and didn’t get ANY points because he didn’t show his work. When I asked my son what happened he said his teacher said, “memorizing your multiplication is NOT a method“. He is to re-do his assignment and draw pictures showing how he arrived at the answer. No need to memorize your multiplication facts in elementary school, they’re just going to have you draw pictures in middle school! No need to learn how to add 2 and 2, you’re going to have to draw a number line or sticks in middle school to add it up!! Of all the ridiculous things!!”

 

math1 001 math2 001

How the College Board Politicized U.S. History by Stanley Kurtz

Reprinted with permission from Stanley Kurtz: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/386202/how-college-board-politicized-us-history-stanley-kurtz

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The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has kicked off a national controversy by issuing a new and unprecedentedly detailed “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective. The College Board disclaims political intent, insisting that the new Framework provides a “balanced” guide that merely helps to streamline the AP U.S. History course while enhancing teacher flexibility. Not only the Framework itself, but the history of its development suggests that a balanced presentation of the American story was not the College Board’s goal.

The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.

This movement’s goals are clearly political, and include the promotion of an American foreign policy that eschews the unilateral use of force. The movement to “internationalize” the U.S. History curriculum also seeks to produce a generation of Americans more amendable to working through the United Nations and various left-leaning “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) on issues like the environment and nuclear proliferation. A willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution is likewise encouraged.

The College Board formed a close alliance with this movement to internationalize the teaching of American history just prior to initiating its redesign of the AP U.S. History exam. Key figures in that alliance are now in charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, including the committee charged with writing the new AP U.S. History exam. The new AP U.S. History Framework clearly shows the imprint of the movement to de-nationalize American history. Before I trace the rise of this movement and its ties to the College Board, let’s have a closer look at its goals.

NYU historian Thomas Bender is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level. The fullest and clearest statement of Bender’s views can be found in his 2006 book, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. Bender is a thoroughgoing critic of American exceptionalism, the notion that America is freer and more democratic than any other nation, and for that reason, a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

In opposition to this, Bender wants to subordinate American identity to a cosmopolitan, “transnational” sensibility. Bender urges us to see each nation, our own included, as but “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” Whereas the old U.S. history forged a shared national identity by emphasizing America’s distinctiveness, Bender hopes to encourage cosmopolitanism by “internationalizing” the American story.

Bender laments that history as taught in our schools has bred an “acceptance of the nation as the dominant form of human solidarity.” The growing focus on gender, race, and ethnicity is welcome, says Bender, but does little to transform an underlying historical narrative built around the nation. Even the rise of world history in the schools has backfired, Bender maintains, by making it appear as though American history and world history are somehow different topics.

Bender understands that his transnational twist on American history has profound political implications. He complains that while working on his book (during George W. Bush’s presidency), “a discourse of exceptionalism and policies based on it became omnipresent in American public life.” Bender promises that his transnational framing of American history “will give little comfort” to the proponents of policies based on American exceptionalism.

He worries, however, that his globalizing approach to American history might be used to defend precisely the sort of “hegemonic” American foreign-policy he abhors. To prevent this, Bender urges that American history be taught, not only from an American point of view, but from the perspective of those who are subject to American power. “Americans have always found it difficult to imagine themselves as an enemy, as a problem for other people,” says Bender. By showing us ourselves through our enemies’ eyes, Bender hopes to promote humbler and more collaborative forms of American foreign-policy.

Bender complains about George W. Bush era foreign policy, not only in respect to war, but also in the matters of, “environment, trade, nuclear, and other policies.” Clearly, he hopes that his anti-exceptionalist vision of American-history will encourage a different approach to foreign affairs. Bender also openly hopes that students exposed to a less “national” version of American history will sympathize with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution, rather than with Justice Antonin Scalia’s rejection of foreign law as an arbiter of American jurisprudence.

In 2006, A Nation Among Nations provoked a sharp exchange between Bender and Brooklyn College professor of history, Robert David Johnson in the journal Historically Speaking. Going on the attack, Johnson calls Bender’s “transnational” version of American history, “little more than an attempt to ensure that students think a certain way about contemporary events.” Johnson warns Bender that “establishing as an outcome for high school history classes the judicial philosophy of Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer . . . will undermine support for public education among citizens who disagree with the preferred ideology.”

Bender parries Johnson’s charges of politicization with a non-denial denial. I offer no “rules for specific actions in the world,” says Bender, nor is my book about “any specific foreign policy.” But Bender doesn’t have to write a policy brief. To achieve his preferred policy results, he merely needs to inculcate a cosmopolitan sensibility and an abiding hostility to American exceptionalism. Bender also denies Johnson’s claim that he wants to “merge” high school U.S. history with World history, yet Bender clearly wants to integrate them in a way that subordinates the American national story to the transnational, globalist perspective.

To understand the deep entanglement of the College Board in Bender’s political and intellectual project, we need to return to 2000, when a group of 78 historians under the auspices of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) issued the flagship document of the movement to “internationalize” American history, “The La Pietra Report.” Bender authored that report, and it prefigures all the themes he develops in his later writings.

The report takes its name from the Italian villa where the meetings took place, from 1997 to 2000. The La Pietra Report makes much of the fact that those meetings were held outside the United States, and that nearly a third of the scholars working to forge a new U.S. History curriculum were non-Americans. One such scholar, in fact, was Cuban.

Francesca Lopez Civeira, of the University of Havana, participated in absentia, sending a paper on American power as “an object of fear” in Cuban historiography. That fit squarely into a central theme of the La Pietra Report, which urges that American students be exposed to evidence of the “controversial power and presence” of the United States beyond our borders, to the point where “one’s native land seems foreign.”

In common with Bender’s later work, an interim report on the 1998 La Pietra conference warns that a newly internationalized American history could inadvertently create a new “…American global city on a hill, the new model for a global culture and economy. There is a danger of a triumphalism that this history could fall into, thus becoming the ideological justification for the latest phase of capitalism.” Again, the La Pietra scholars try to prevent an internationalized history from justifying America’s global economic and military reach by focusing on how America’s alleged victims and enemies feel about the use of our power.

A conclave of historians with a left-wing foreign policy agenda, a third of them from foreign countries, seems an odd inspiration for the ostensibly non-partisan College Board’s redesign of the AP U.S. History Exam. Yet that is exactly what the La Pietra conference and its report became.

In 2002, two years after the appearance of the La Pietra Report, Rethinking American History in a Global Age, a collection of representative papers from the La Pietra conference was published, with Bender as its editor. At the same moment, the Organization of American Historians, which had sponsored the La Pietra Report, moved to strengthen its collaborative relationship with the College Board’s AP U.S. History program. This led to the formation in 2003 of a Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board on Teaching the U.S. History Survey Course. This Advisory Board focused its efforts on fulfilling the goals of the La Pietra Report. So by forging an alliance with the College Board, Bender and his allies discovered a way to transform the teaching of U.S. history.

Ted Dickson, who served as Co-Chair of the AP U.S. History Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee (the body that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework), was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

In June of 2004, just as the Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board was searching for ways to reshape the teaching of U.S. history along “transnational” lines, Thomas Bender was invited to address hundreds of readers gathered to grade the essay portion of that year’s AP U.S. History Exam. Bender’s talk, still available at the AP Central website, reflects his political agenda. Speaking in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq, Bender argues that historians who offer narratives of American exceptionalism “bear some responsibility” for reinforcing “a unilateralist understanding of the United States in the world.” That attitude, says Bender, must be fought.

Offering an alternative, transnational history designed to combat American “unilateralism,” Bender says that Columbus and his successors didn’t discover America so much as they discovered “the ocean world,” a new global community united by the oceans. The oceans, in turn, made possible the slave trade and the birth of modern capitalism, which improved the lives of European, but brought exploitation and tragic injustice to the rest of the world. Bender concludes that early American history is only partially about “utopian dreams of opportunity or escape”. The beginnings of the American story, says Bender, are also deeply rooted in the birth of capitalism, and the “capture, constraint, and exploitation” this implies.

In other words, Bender wants early American history to be less about the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, and John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” speech, and more about the role of the plantation economy and the slave trade in the rise of an intrinsically exploitative international capitalism.

If the College Board didn’t fully understand the political agenda behind Bender’s La Pietra Report before his talk to the AP Exam readers, they had to understand it after. Yet instead of distancing themselves from this highly politicized and left-leaning approach to American history, the College Board redoubled its efforts on Bender’s behalf.

The OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board decided to publish a collection of essays that would serve as a how-to manual for adopting the recommendations of Bender’s La Pietra Report. So, for example, a scholarly essay on American “cultural imperialism” would be paired with a piece by a high school teacher explaining how the topic of American cultural imperialism could be adapted to the AP U.S. History course. Ted Dickson, future co-chair of the committee that actually wrote the new Framework, was chosen to co-edit this book, which was published in 2008 as America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Thomas Bender wrote an introduction to the book explaining the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

A bit of the material in America on the World Stage—an essay on international responses to the Declaration of Independence, for example—could backfire on Bender by reinforcing an American exceptionalist narrative. Most of the essays in America on the World Stage, however, read like deconstructions of the American story, or catalogues of (alleged) American shame.

Consider the treatment of immigration, which was written by Florida State University historian, Suzanne Sinke, who co-chaired (with Ted Dickson) the committee that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Sinke tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. Traditional historians would not treat this woman as an American “immigrant” at all. And that’s the point. Sinke emphasizes that her goal in telling the story of a woman who merely passed through America without deciding to stay and become a citizen is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

Ted Dickson’s companion piece on how to teach Sinke’s essay (co-authored with Louisa Bond Moffitt), suggests asking students why the term “migration” might be preferable to “immigration.” The answer is that “immigration” implies a specific and permanent national destination, whereas “migration” is simply about the movement of people across borders, without any reference to adopting a national identity. The political subtext is clear: national interest and national identity take second place to the interests of individual “migrants,” whose loyalties are ultimately “transnational.”

So just before they became co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework, Suzanne Sinke and Ted Dickson worked closely together on a project whose goal was to reshape the U.S. History Survey Course along the lines recommended by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director, is in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process. Presumably, Sinke and Dickson answer to him. So it is of interest that Charap wrote the companion piece in America on the World Stage to the scholarly article on American cultural imperialism. This scholarly treatment of American cultural imperialism, penned by left-leaning University of Michigan historian Penny Von Eschen, is relentlessly critical of America’s economic and military presence in the world. Eschen, for example, touts the Marxist tract, How to Read Donald Duck, by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelhart, as the classic treatment of American cultural imperialism. How to Read Donald Duck explores the subtle and sinister ways in which Disney cartoons advocate “adherence to the U.S. economic system and capitalist values and work ethic,” as if this was a very bad thing.

Charap’s essay highlights America’s commercial advertisements and anti-Soviet propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the Cold War. Charap seeks out off-putting examples of American propaganda and then suggests that students to put themselves in the places of people in the Soviet block or developing world as they respond to the American presence. This, indeed, is teaching students to see their country through the eyes of its alleged “victims” and enemies.

So the three people most immediately responsible for the writing of the new AP U.S. History Framework were intimately involved in the College Board’s effort to transform the teaching of American history along the lines of Bender’s La Pietra Report. What’s more, the AP U.S. History redesign process began in August of 2006, just about the time America on the World Stage was taking shape. Dickson, a co-editor of that book, was on the original redesign committee as well as the later one that actually wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Dickson himself notes that his work with the OAH (which largely focused on advancing the goals of the La Pietra Report) was a key factor in the College Board’s decision to appoint him to the AP U.S. History Redesign Commission. How can American conservatives, moderates, and even traditional liberals trust an AP U.S. History redesign effort led by figures who were so deeply enmeshed in a leftist attempt to reshape the American history curriculum?

A detailed analysis of the new AP U.S. History Framework is for another time. Suffice it to say that in its downplaying of America’s traditional national story and emphasis instead on material causation and exploitation within the context of a transnational Atlantic World, the new AP U.S. History Framework is a huge step in the direction of precisely the sort of de-nationalized American history advocated by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

It is also important to emphasize that the concept of American exceptionalism, which is systematically excised from, and contradicted by, the redesigned Framework, is an integral part of several state curriculum guides, including the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). That raises serious legal questions about the compatibility of the redesigned Framework with state standards.

This is not to say that Bender, the La Pietra Report, and the attack on American exceptionalism are the only important ideological influences on the redesigned AP U.S. History Framework. Several other important streams of political and intellectual influence have shaped the new Framework, and I will be detailing these in future reports.

It is true, of course, that as on much else, Americans are divided about how best to teach and understand U.S. history. This is precisely why the new, lengthy, and detailed AP U.S. History Framework is such a bad idea. The brief five-page conceptual guideline the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test. The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective. The College Board has drastically eroded the freedom of states, school districts, teachers, and parents to choose the history they teach their children. That is why this change must not stand.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and can be reached at comments.kurtz@nationalreview.com.

Is the USOE gutting American history?

After emailing out a link to this set of resources showing concerns with the new AP U.S. History class (http://www.educationviews.org/huge-concerns-ap-u-s-history-resource-links/), I received the following email from Ammi Orton. With permission, I’m posting it here. Bolding is mine.

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It is not just AP U.S. History, I think that all the Utah public school’s U.S. History classes are changing based on recent information I received.  I have a daughter enrolled with Mountain Heights Academy.  They allow all their Juniors and Seniors, if desired, to take online courses directly through Weber State.  This year my daughter was enrolled to take Hist. 1700- American Civilizations.  This class is an overview of all of American History from European exploration, colonization and settlement, to the present. This class was supposed to count in place of her high school U.S. History class and for her American Institutions credit in college. 

Here is the email I got from her counselor last week-
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Hello students and parents,

We have just been informed today that USOE will no longer count HIST 1700 for the 1.0 US History requirement for high school graduation.  They will accept HIST 2710 instead.

Will you please let me know ASAP if you have registered for HIST 1700 for fall semester at WSU?  We will need to see if we can get you into 2710 instead.  You may still take 1700, but it would count for elective credit, and not US History.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but am glad that we are finding out now, and not after you have already taken the course!!

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We looked into it and found many interesting issues.  History 2710 is History of the U.S. since 1877.  This is the course that the Utah State Office of Education wants us to take in place of what they used to count.  By taking just this course, many things will be left out considering that leaves out the founding of our great nation, the establishment of the constitution, and many things that make the United States unique and help us understand our freedom. 

This makes me think that many things will be missing from here on out in all high school history classes.  I am not a history teacher, but it would be interesting to see what instructions start coming to them on what to teach and NOT to teach.

What is crazy is even Weber State does not see History 2710 as good enough to count for the American Institutions credit and if you take it, you also have to take History 2700- History of the U.S. to 1877 also.  Yes 2 classes are required in college instead of just 1 Hist 1700.  It appears that even they want you to have a better idea of the whole picture.  I know the requirement is the same at Snow College as well, you have to take both.

HIST 2700 History of the U.S. to 1877 (3) AND HIST 2710 History of the U.S. since 1877 (3)

Needless to say, we dropped the class and picked up a different General Ed. We will have to rethink the whole thing. She didn’t want to take more college classes right now.  To graduate she will still have to take U.S. History in High school and the college class we will probably have her do is POLS 1100.  It will count  for the required US Government & Citizenship in high school, and it meets the AI requirement in college, still killing 2 birds with one stone.  Good thing we have lots of books and study the founding of our country and early American History already.  The LEMI- Key of Liberty and Sword of Freedom classes are looking better and better to give a foundation of what is going to be intentionally left out in the public school system now.  What a loss!

Ammi Orton

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Oak: I find it interesting that the USOE is taking this action. Invite a board member to this page and ask them to dig into this. It would be tragic to further lose sight of our nation’s founding.

Ogden Common Core Debate

Rep. Fawson hosted a debate last week in Ogden on Common Core. Speaking against Common Core were Alisa Ellis, Wendy Hart, and Autumn Cook. Thank you Rep. Fawson for putting this together to allow both sides to present their arguments.

Hegelian Dialectic in CC ELA Standards

Larry Ballard, a candidate for the Nebo school district, recently opened my eyes more fully to the Hegelian Dialectic and how it is written into the Common Core ELA standards. This excellent essay from him needs to be read and shared. I bolded a part below which I think is one of the clearest ways of explaining this concept and why it’s so diabolical. This takes people who hold an absolute truth and shifts them away from it incrementally. Don’t miss this article. It’s one of the best I’ve read. Thank you for writing this Larry.

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There is a subtle methodology employed in the structuring of the young mind that occurs in the ELA Standards K-5. It has to do with the dialectic. It has to do with whether truth is relative or absolute.

Trevor Loudon states, “Why should you care about the Hegelian Dialectic? How does it affect me? The dialectic philosophy devised by Georg Hegel underpins the entire political and social strategy of the radical left. The dialectical approach to ‘consensus-building’ and ‘conflict resolution’ is the process with which the radical left attempts to control and manipulate outcomes.” In order to grasp the content of this essay, you will need to go to Mr. Loudon’s short article about the dialectic. You can find it here: http://www.trevorloudon.com/2014/01/hegelian-dialectics-for-dummies/

There are entire books written about the dialectic process. Suffice it to say that absolute truth is a single understanding of the mind that resonates with reality. It stands alone, will continue to bring consonance to the mind, and will withstand any assault to its proven reliability. A false truth can become the norm. Open-minded wrestling with an opposite challenging view to one’s truth will either reinforce the long-held truth; or will reveal that the old truth is no longer valid and has been proven false. A falsehood held to be truth is replaced by the newly discovered truth replacing the prior deception. Absolute truth can also imply a God creator who can communicate such truth to the mind of man. For example, when Kepler revealed the absolute mathematical reality of the proportionality of the solar system, he made a giant and miraculous leap that he personally attributed to his connecting with the mind of God. He stated that the discovery came from the mind of God to his mind. It can never change. It cannot someday evolve into a greater truth. He did not exchange an old truth for a new truth. His proportionality equation simply is.

So, what does it matter that the dialectic is found in the ELA Standards? Loudon says it this way, “Hegelian dialectical theory is simply a philosophy, a way of thinking—a thought process. But when taken to the extreme, and applied by unscrupulous characters, it is a very dangerous and lethal strategy. For it is not a new strategy or idea, but an ancient one. And it takes many forms. Indeed, it can be difficult to expose the strategy, even by those deeply familiar with it, because the agenda is hidden, and the predetermined ends are kept secret by those employing the strategy.”

The dialectic is an account of reality which eschews the concept of absolutes. It de-emphasizes the concept of the Individual. It unites with Darwinian evolutional theory and Marxist theories of a collectivist society. Karl Marx stated, “In the eyes of dialectical philosophy, nothing is established for all times, nothing is absolute or sacred.” Everything is changing—evolving. Think about the process. Take a commonly accepted truth. Now hold it up to scrutiny. A new idea is introduced to challenge the thesis. The anti concept wrestles with the truth in the minds of people. Instead of resolution coming on one side or the other of the dialectic, the resolution to the conflict is a consensus compromise—a synthesis. But, the process does not stop there. As all truth is relative, once the resolution is determined, a new concept is brought forward in counterpoint to the arrived at synthesis of the originally held truth. And the process continues, and continues, and continues. So, the question becomes as to whether this relativistic methodology steeped in gradualism is a secret methodology to greater understanding and truth; or is it a methodology of mind manipulation intent of an evolving movement towards a predetermined end point? Problem—reaction—solution. This methodology begins with, not one absolute truth; rather two opposites in conflict with each other.

What have we learned? There is a dialectical thought process. And, there is a didactic thinking process. The didactic process holds that 2 + 2= 4. The dialectic would suggest that 2 + 2 could = 22 or even 24 or some other answer. The answer may not be as important as the process. In the end, the methodology will produce a consonance or a dissonance. But, what if the dialectic is socially reinforced so that the individual is not allowed to find resolution and is compelled to live within a state of cognitive dissonance? What does this do to the human soul?

On the Silicone Valley Community Foundation web page we find the following video explaining a most cumbersome methodology in discovering how to come up with a correct math problem. http://www.siliconvalleycf.org/content/common-core

You will notice that rather than simply addressing the correct way to apply the absolute historically proven way of doing math, the problem gets personalized by attaching two “people” with opposing views to the teaching methodology in the persons of Rob and Sue. The teacher asks, “Who do you agree with?” Then the students are split up into groups of two and collaborate in order to come up with a consensus answer. The teacher is focused on the methodology in order to guide the students to the correct answer. Critical thinking is inherent to the problem solving process. But, what about the underlying reformed methodology? Has the dialectic been overlooked and simply accepted as the norm over the didactic?

In the Common Core ELA standards we frequently find the phrase, “Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story…” If you read through the Standards you will find the word “two” a lot. And, you will find that “group reading activities” prevail. Here is another phrase, “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” The dialectic approach is only apparent. So, the question becomes whether the concept of absolute truth is allowed for within the methodology of the Standards. Could it be that the “critical thinking skills” being taught are the Hegelian Dialectic and it alone? Is the “if and only if” situation that a God creator could reveal absolute truth to man being purged from the equation? Is it being made possible that 3 times 4 actually equal 11 so long as whatever method, valid or invalid, used to arrive at the relative answer can be verbalized? It is the “critical thinking” element that rules the predetermined outcome in which the brain is being trained in the dialectic methodology of relativity.

During a recent debate for Alpine School Board, Wendy Hart and others were asked if politics had a part in the common core debate. Consider that it was the concept of the dialectic that Hegel promoted that, alongside Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, were the backbone and the sinew of Communism and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Both constructs are intellectually stimulating. Intellectually stimulating does not necessarily translate into universal absolute truth or moral goodness. As with the Common Core dialectic, do we find ourselves bouncing off of walls from one crisis to the next these days? This article is simply a starting off point in raising the possibility that if Hegel’s philosophy of idealistic dialectics and Marx’s theory of dialectic materialism are at the core of the methodology of the new common core curriculum, we might want to pay attention and begin to question why?

-Larry Ballard

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Unconstitutional NCLB Waivers by Sen. Margaret Dayton

At last Friday’s state school board meeting, Senator Dayton presented the board with her thoughts on the problems of renewing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver. Senator Dayton led the charge against NCLB years ago when it first came out under the Bush administration.  She emailed me and mentioned that there was a difference between waivers back then and now and I asked her to explain it so I could share it with everyone. Here’s what you need to know from Senator Dayton.

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When the No Child Left Behind law was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001, it included 1100 pages of rules and regulations and requirements – and many additional pages of instructions on how to implement same. Many of these regulations were conflicting with other regulations in the same law – and in conflict with other federal education laws. Certainly most were in were conflict with multitudinous state regulations. All of NCLB is in violation of the Constitution of the United States – (think 10th amendment) and in violation of all the Constitutions of the individual states which include responsibilities and requirements for the individual states to educate their own citizenry.
Utah led the way in resisting the implementation of NCLB – and eventually all 50 states were in some form of resistance to that federal law. Some states had Opt Out legislation patterned after Utah, some were suing the federal govt for imposing an unfunded mandate, and some just refused to implement NCLB. In an effort to placate the individual states, the U.S. Dept of Education started issuing waivers to individual states. These waivers were a type of ‘permission slip’ to ignore certain NCLB requirements. The waivers were issued in response to various state resistance to compliance – and were issued in an arbitrary and capricious manner – with no template of explanation of why some states were granted certain waivers or exemptions, and other states were not.

Thus – the original waiver requests that were granted just excused certain states from portions of NCLB compliance.

In response, the Utah Legislature unanimously passed HB 135 (Implementation of Federal Programs/Dayton) in 2005. The bill had the support of our Congressmen, the State Board, UEA, PTA, and many, many parent groups. HB 135 requires the Utah State Board of Education to request all possible waivers and allowed the parents and educators to decide which state and federal laws would be followed. Often quoted by those of us resisting the federalization of education was section is Section 9527 in NCLB which states:
“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an office or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State local educational agency, or school’s curriculum, program of instruction or allocation of state of local resources or mandate a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act.”
(note how this portion of NCLB negates – and is in conflict with – the rest of NCLB – and thus HB135 gives Utah authority over the education of the state!)

The term waiver has changed over the years since that original plan. A waiver no longer means a pass or exemption from compliance.

When the current federal administration decided to offer incentives to certain states (and pick winners and losers) for additional education funding under the Race to the Top program, there was an offer to have waivers from certain NCLB obligations but only in exchange for other Race to the Top obligations. Thus the term waiver morphed from being an exemption – to a trade. Waiver no longer meant the states were excused from NCLB requirements – it now meant that certain obligations under one federal program could be traded for another set of federal programs.

At last Friday’s State School Board meeting, it was my hope to help the board members understand this option that was available to them. They had before them the opportunity to vote for Common Core Option A – or Common Core Option B – by requesting a waiver to do one or the other. They also had the opportunity to ask for no waiver. Many concerned and well informed parents pleaded with the board to ask for no waiver – their requests were to keep the control of education in the state of Utah. The Board was comfortable, however, asking for a waiver of their own creation – an option C that they wrote. By asking for a waiver of any kind, the board continues to participate in ‘mother-may-I’ with the unConstitutional Dept of Education. By requesting a waiver, the Board acknowledges the federal government can grant, or not grant, educational authority – thus further empowering the U.S. Dept of Education.

I do not understand the lack of ‘no’ votes from the Board. With appreciation for their willingness to serve, I do not pretend to speak for the board members – but I do not understand the unanimous vote. In spite of my disagreeing with them, I would still prefer to work with Utah State Board rather than the U.S. Dept of Education in matters affecting our children. The government did not create the privileges and powers of parenting; those are gifts of Providence and should not be ceded to the U. S. Dept. of Education.

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