At the Utah GOP convention today, delegates passed a resolution to oppose Common Core with what’s been reported as a 65.5% YEA vote! That’s a huge margin on a resolution that the state office of education worked hard to oppose.
A big thank you to all volunteers who spent time passing out information this morning to help educate delegates, and a big thank you to the delegates who made the right choice.
Resolution on Common Core State Standards and Assessments
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), also known as “Utah’s Core,”  is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core was financed with private foundation funds, replacing the influence of our votes with wealth and influence to bypass our state legislature and impose control over Utah’s education standards and tests; and,
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act  prohibits federal authority over curriculum and testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-building  and data collection is federally managed; and,
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural (i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and assessments; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a pre- school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating surveillance capability between states and federal agencies, in accordance with funding mandates; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core violates constitutional and statutory prohibitions by pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted, penalties including loss of funds; and,
WHEREAS, the federal government is imposing yet another unfunded mandate on our State for unproven Common Core instruction, training and testing platforms, without any pledge of financial support from federal, state or local governments; and,
WHEREAS, unproven experiments on our children, lacking empirical data to support them, are removing traditional math, replacing classic literature with increased technical reading, and prohibiting teachers from reviewing the tests to know what they ought to be teaching; and,
WHEREAS, this top-down process and the principles behind Common Core undermine the teacher’s role and do not support American and Republican ideals of local control, parental choice in education, standards and testing; and,
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, The Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other alliance that promotes and tests for un-American and inferior, curricula, standards and assessments; and,
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor and the State legislature for executive and legislative action.
Submitted by State Delegate Cherilyn Eagar, Salt Lake County
State Delegate Co-Sponsors: Wasatch – Alisa Ellis, Norman Durtschi, Anissa Wardell, Patricia Deden, Suzanne Pollard Juab – Stella Lightfoot Washington – Mary Burkett Box Elder Jeff Hardy Weber – Lance Adams, Dan Deuel, Bea Cardwell, Clark Roberts, Laura Warburton, Gregory Martin, Becky Gerritsen Iron – Blake Cozzens Davis – Rod Arquette, Mark Arrington, Dale Hulse, Stephanie Terry, Kris Kimball, Phill Wright, Mark Cook, Christopher Snell, Bruce Bolingbroke, Barbara Derricott, Stephen P. Cloward, James Oldham, Elizabeth Mumford Summit – Jacqueline Smith Salt Lake – JaKell Sullivan, Jennifer Jensen, Maryann Christensen, Laureen Simper, Larry Jensen, Lisa Cummins, John M. Knab, Scott Miller, Rhonda Hair, Phoenix Roberts, Eric Fowler, Tana Allen, Chelsea Woodruff, Jennifer Jensen, Janalee Tobias, Kendall Springer, Kathryn Gritton, Brian Gallagher, Brent Maxwell, Rebecca Akester, Kurt Jaussi, Joseph Darger Utah – Gayle Ruzicka, Kristen Chevrier; Rod Mann, Larry Cerenzie, Clark Parker, Nancy Jex, Marie Nuccitelli, Amelia Powers, Brandon Watters, Barbara H. Ward, William C. Lee, Heather Williamson, Darren Rollins, Peter Morkel, Lisa Baldwin, Don Carlos Davies, Todd Seager, Rhonda Wilkinson, Alyson Williams, Sherilyn Colby, Diana Ballard, Delvon Bouwhuis, Mike Bready, Richard Jaussi, Tamara Atkin, Jamie Towse, Julie Blaney, Kent Besaw, Kevin Braddy
School Board-Legislative Endorsers: Congressman Jason Chaffetz; State Representatives Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene, Keith Grover, Mike Kennedy, David Lifferth, Curt Oda, Marc Roberts; State Senators Margaret Dayton, Mark Madsen, Stuart Reid; School Board Members Joyce Sudweeks, (Piute), Peter Cannon (Davis), Brian Halladay, Wendy Hart, Paula Hill (Alpine)
 A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for that content area – http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf
 “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…” – General Educational Provisions Act
After seeing the disturbing video of what the Utah State Office of Education has recommended for use in ELA 1st grade classrooms, Joan Landes, a masters level Clinical Mental Health Therapist licensed in the state of Utah, contacted us with some concerns. In this video she shares them with us. The people displayed at the bottom of the video are from left to right, Alisa Ellis, Christel Swasey, Joan Landes, and Renee Braddy.
First, a teacher comment we received this week:
“It just seems like a lose-lose all the way around.
It may interest you to know that all of us math teachers got an e-mail from Diana Suddreth (state math curriculum rep) about the attack that cc has come under in our state government. The e-mail was saying how concerned she was that the state reps are starting to listen to the parents and was asking for teachers state-wide to start speaking up for the core and defend it to our reps to let them know how great it is.
We here at ____________ got that e-mail and laughed out loud because it would seem a little funny to defend it when we’re on the side of the parents…
We have a storage room full of old Alg, Alg2, and Geometry textbooks that sit no longer in use because of cc.”
I want to be very clear about something right from the start. The anti-Common Core movement is not just about the standards. It’s about the entire nationalization/globalization agenda that goes along with it. However, this article serves to show the weakness of the Common Core math standards themselves and what it means for Utah students.
In 2007, Utah adopted new standards which were rated an A- by the Fordham Foundation. This was a big improvement over our prior standards which Fordham rated a D. They later rated the Common Core math standards an A- after receiving several hundred thousand dollars from the Gates Foundation to do a review. Money talks. The Gates Foundation is very interested in getting everyone on these standards, and so is the federal government. If you don’t know the connections, watch this video. In their analysis comparing Utah’s math standards and Common Core, they stated:
The Bottom Line
With some minor differences, Common Core and Utah both cover the essential content for a rigorous, K-12 mathematics program. Utah’s standards are briefly stated and usually clear, making them easier to read and follow than Common Core. In addition, the high school content is organized so that standards addressing specific topics, such as quadratic functions, are grouped together in a mathematically coherent way. The organization of the Common Core is more difficult to navigate, in part because standards dealing with related topics sometimes appear separately rather than together.
The chief weakness in Utah’s standards stems from the lack of specific content expectations in the development of arithmetic, and in the failure to make arithmetic a focus in the appropriate grades. Common Core provides admirable focus and explicitly requires standard methods and procedures, enhancements that would benefit Utah’s standards.
In other words, our 2007 standards were pretty good and could have used a little tweaking to make them stronger. If the USOE had actually implemented the external reviewer’s suggestions, we would probably have had some of the very best standards in America. Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu, math professor at Berkeley and Utah’s external reviewer of the 2007 standards, was shocked months after reviewing the final draft of our standards, that the USOE had failed to implement any of his recommendations. Commenting to the USOE he wrote:
“Nicole [Paulson at the USOE], Thank you for your courteous note. I can understand your consternation upon reading the quote in Jim Milgam’s letter of my reaction to the revised standards (incidentally, he quoted me correctly), but if you realize that I had taken for granted that most of what I recommended would be implemented, then you would also understand why I was so shocked when I was reluctantly made to read the revision.”
What followed was a list of several critical items that should have been included but the USOE left out. Why did they leave them out? It’s unknown for certain, but it is known that they hated the fact that we succeeded in making them raise Utah’s then D-rated standards. Standards are not a priority for the USOE, getting federal money was the driving incentive for applying for Race to the Top money where we agreed to adopt new untested Common Core standards, sight-unseen.
Dr. David Wright in the math department at BYU, was one of the few mathematicians that worked on the Utah 2007 math standards. I recently corresponded with him comparing where Utah was at with those standards, and where we are now with Common Core.
Under the 2007 standards, most students would take the following schedule of classes:
7th grade: pre-algebra
8th grade: algebra 1
9th grade: geometry
10th grade: algebra 2
11th grade: pre-calculus
12th grade: calculus
Some students who are well prepared could take algebra in 7th grade allowing them to accelerate. Some students, myself included when I was younger, double up and take geometry and algebra 2 together in order to accelerate. That option is no longer possible under the new integrated approach to Common Core.
Under the new Common Core standards, students get an integrated approach to math meaning there are no longer discrete years of math, but a blend of subject matter.
Math 7 (7th grade): contains some pre-algebra/algebra
Math 8 (8th grade): contains some algebra
Secondary Math 1 (9th grade): Finish some of algebra 1 and some geometry
Secondary Math 2 (10th grade): Finish algebra 1 and some Geometry and some algebra 2
Secondary Math 3 (11th grade): Finish algebra 2, geometry and some Pre-Calculus
AP Calculus: It is the hope of the USOE that students will be prepared for AP calculus without a year of pre-calculus. In reality, many students will struggle without precalculus.
According to Dr. Wright: “If you are not in honors Math 1 by ninth grade, the USOE does not see you prepared for calculus. Many students who take the honors Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3 would still be better off in pre-calculus instead of calculus because their algebra skills will not be good enough.”
Some students will be able to take Math 1 in 8th grade, if they accelerated early, but for most students they will either have to skip pre-calculus to take calculus in 12th grade, or take pre-calculus in 12th grade and wait till college for an authentic calculus course. Honors students get a little more content depth but no real acceleration to advance faster.
The problems of Common Core math in Utah are two-fold.
1) In spite of the Gates influenced Fordham grade of A-, Common Core sets the United States back from where we should be. The Common Core proponents used to tout how the standards were internationally benchmarked. That’s been proven false and those statements removed. Dr. Jim Milgram, Stanford math professor and the only professional mathematician on the validation committee, has written standards and worked with international standards for many years. Here are a couple of comments from him:
“The Common Core standards claim to be ‘benchmarked against the international standards’ but this phrase is meaningless. They are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades 8-12. Indeed, they don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second year algebra course.”
“While the difference between these standards and those of the top states at the end of eighth grade is perhaps somewhat more than one year, the difference is more like two years when compared to the expectations of the high-achieving countries — particularly most of the nations of East Asia.”
2) The USOE is constructivist oriented. They told Utahns that we would have portability of students with other states as a feature of Common Core, but then adopted a different schedule of learning which will not allow for it. They did this to implement constructivist math across the state. Trainings by the USOE for teachers have included the nonsense that students don’t need to learn their times tables. Good teachers will ignore that, but the fact is, the USOE actively looks to promote this philosophy in their teacher training.
USOE constructivist curriculum on video: which do you want for your child?
The bottom line is, Common Core math is not internationally benchmarked, not going to prepare as many children for an authentic calculus class by the end of high school as our 2007 standards would, not allow for portability of students with other states because only Vermont adopted the integrated method with Utah, and the push for constructivism will further damage our children’s math skills and thinking. The best thing Utah could do is immediately go back to our 2007 standards, and implement the changes suggested by Dr. Wu, the external reviewer. Readopting those standards would be superior to Common Core and they would be honest Utah math standards.
If you have not been able to attend one of the Common Core presentations put on by our group, we taped Saturday night’s presentation by Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis, and Christel Swasey. It’s just under 1 hour in length and gives a fantastic overview of the true Common Core agenda. Watch full screen for HD resolution.
Previously posted to this site is an article talking about the indoctrination coming to Common Core. Here’s the article for you to read if you missed it.
This post is going to demonstrate how the Utah State Office of Education is allowing social justice curriculum to move forward in schools. This is not only inappropriate, but immoral as well. It’s not good for education, family relationships, public discourse, or preserving our nations liberty.
Here are two videos.
The first demonstrates Common Core USOE recommended materials from Zaner-Bloser (if your children are using this, I would complain and get them off it now even if you need to homeschool). The second demonstrates some informational texts. Please share this post with your legislators and ask them to get us out of Common Core.
See below the videos for the USOE review of “Voices”. I didn’t post these this morning or I might have noticed the video has an error. On the video, it says the Voices books are Recommended Primary (meaning you can use it and nothing else to fulfill the Common Core Standards). Actually, they are Recommended Limited, for the reason below that the books aren’t broad enough to cover all the ELA standards so additional materials would be needed to supplement this.
From the state RIMS database:
Search Option: ISBN
Enter ISBN #: 9780736798808 (“Voices” Literature & Writing)
Voices Literature and Writing focuses on oral language and writing through teacher read-alouds. The entire year builds on a central theme divided into six units. Each unit has an essential question and ends in a culminating writing project with a built-in presentation component that lends itself to the oral language strand of the Common Core.
Teacher read-alouds are the base of this program. The discussions and questioning provided engage the students in the higher level thinking required for the Common Core. Vocabulary instruction and ELL support are included. A rubric is provided to assess discussions. Although the discussion piece is a strength, most of the resources were fiction where the Common Core requires a stronger nonfiction emphasis.
The writing instruction component includes a model, mini-lessons organized around the six traits, and grammar usage. A variety of writing types reinforce the expectations of the Common Core.
The assessment component consists of read-aloud tests, writing tests, and end of theme tests. The re-teaching provided is explicit, helpful and provides practice worksheets to reinforce the learning. The test generator provided allows you to build your own test, but the multiple choice questions are low level thinking and would not prepare students for the rigor of the Common Core testing. The essay questions are more effective but few in numbers.
The technology piece in this program is weak. It includes audio CDs for teacher read-alouds, teaching master CDs and the digital test generator.
Teacher materials are organized into readily accessible, durable boxes. There are no student materials.
This is recommended limited because it covers the speaking/listening and writing standards of the Common Core.
Enter ISBN #: 9780736799362 (“Voices” Leveled Library)
USOE Evaluation: Recommended Student Resource
Voices Leveled Library is set up to match the Voices Literature and Writing program but does not always correlate with the unit themes very well. The leveling is appropriate and accurate, but not always rigorous or engaging. Within each unit there were four paired leveled readers with a strong non-fiction emphasis. Most of the readers are well organized, with colorful graphics, maps and tables. The non-fiction is organized with a table of contents, a glossary and an index. Where there are a few comprehension questions, they are limited in scope and do not pertain to a particular comprehension strategy.
This library deals with a large collection of subjects in a variety of categories. It includes biographical and historical texts, folktales, historical accounts, and world events. It should be emphasized that readings in this collection are provided as examples to help students learn to read a variety of texts and to understand an author’s point of view or bias in both literary and informational readings. Teachers should take the time to become well-acquainted with each text in the collection and to help students understand the context for each. Some of the texts may deal with issues that may be thought to be controversial and reflect the political climate or stance of the author. It would be advisable to incorporate many of the readings within the context of social studies instruction, so that students will be able to perceive and analyze the historical significance of the text, discuss the concept of bias, and develop the ability to be critical consumers of information.
Several years ago I was involved in what has been called “The Math Wars”. Alpine School District had quit teaching the times tables, long division, and some other basic math skills, to children under the promise that a constructivist (ie. children need to construct their own knowledge) approach to math would deepen their skills. This was an abominable failure. Even at BYU where 2 math education professors got permission (by someone over the math department’s dead body) to teach a class of honors calculus to freshmen with this method. The result was a disaster. Honors calculus students measuring Dixie Cups with rulers while regular students were learning how to integrate. Predictably to everyone but those 2 professors teaching the constructivist class, their students scored below all 17 sections of non-honors calculus on the final exam. Their final defeat? Blame it on the test writer who had been creating the same test from the same objectives for years.
Unfortunately, with adoption of Common Core, the state of Utah took a bad idea that parents in Alpine School District hated, and decided to spread the love around the state. As parents slowly wake up to the horrors of constructivist math and wonder what happened to their child’s love of math, there will begin a new revolt that will bring tens of thousands of angry parents raining down on the heads of the state leadership.
Don’t believe me? Consider how upset a parent is when their child goes off to college with straight A’s in math and winds up in remedial math. At last look, UVU has a 70% remediation rate for incoming freshmen in math. In fact, it’s so bad, they don’t just have remedial math classes at UVU, they have a remedial math DEPARTMENT. SLCC has roughly the same percentage of remediation. That’s a pathetic waste of taxpayer dollars that when tens of thousands of students arrive they can’t do high school math and need remediation, and before someone suggests it’s because young people are arriving after serving LDS missions and have simply forgotten how to do math, that’s been examined and it’s a trivial reduction in the percentage.
Let me illustrate with a video. I recently sat down with an anonymous but very involved person in the Utah education arena, and reviewed a few books. Interactive math, Saxon math, and the Utah State Office of Education’s (USOE) own home grown math book. Watch the horror show demonstrating these textbooks and then read below.
Here’s what the state shows on their RIMS database for schools and districts to pick textbooks from. I’ll start with Saxon.
“Evaluation: Textbook review for Saxon Algebra I. Overall, the program matches the Utah Core Standards for Algebra 57.75%. The following is a breakdown of the evaluation by individual Utah Core Standards for Algebra I: …(removed specific line items for space…read it on the site) This program does not develop concepts for deep understanding. It provides few examples and the flow of the program is missing, very disjointed.“
If you didn’t watch the video, you’re missing out. Saxon is full of examples while the other programs have NONE.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed a hit job on Saxon math (link 2). Saxon was developed by an Air Force Engineer turned educator and a few years ago when I evaluated the top 10 scoring schools in Utah for math on standardized exams, 7 of the 10 schools were using Saxon. It’s a great program that builds skills and depth of understanding. It’s the type of math most of us grew up on and that we can look in the textbook and remember how to do a problem and help our children. In short, it shows how to do a problem, explains the concept, and gives students an opportunity to practice what they learned so they can obtain mastery over the knowledge.
This non-traditional text approaches the study of mathematics through student-centered exploration and meaningful tasks. Teachers would begin the lesson by presenting the task for the day, and students and teachers would work on the tasks together as they develop their mathematical understanding of the topics. The format of this text encourages active learning of mathematics. Each unit in this text has a central problem or theme and focuses on several branches of mathematics including algebra, geometry, probability, graphing, statistics, and trigonometry using an integrated approach.
This text covers more than 80% of the 2012 Utah State Core Standards for Secondary I or Secondary I Honors.
Lessons consist of single-page individual or group tasks without traditional mathematical instruction or explanations. Mathematics is learned through the culture and practice that is developed within the classroom as students work on the various tasks.
Although topics are not easily~recognized by lesson titles, this text includes an index of mathematical ideas which makes it easier to find particular ideas. Problem sets are minimal but build depth of understanding. A nice glossary is included at the end of the text.”
There is no line-by-line evaluation of the shortcomings of Interactive Math as there is with Saxon. It’s pathetically obvious from looking through the book that it’s devoid of content and yet the reviewer, obviously a disciple of religious constructivism, announces this text will produce “depth of understanding” from minimal problem sets. This comic is worth 1,000 words.
Finally we come to the third book, the USOE’s own creation which is similar to Interactive Math and it’s constructivist approach.
This “textbook,” and I use that term very loosely since there is no instruction or examples, was also given a rating of “Recommended Primary” by the USOE. Convenient that you can rate your own product… It was developed by 5 school teachers, who as far as I know have no prior experience in writing textbooks, at least 3 of which are known constructivists, 2 from Alpine School District.
“Evaluation: The OER Secondary I textbook is designed to be an online textbook that may or may not be printed. The textboook will allow for future updates and improvements as well as teacher customization. The first edition of this online text addresses the first third of the 2012 Utah Core Standards for Secondary I Mathematics. The content of the text is accurate and represents the current research in mathematics. Each lesson begins with a task to help students develop an understanding of the core concepts to be learned. Teachers may need professional development to teach using tasks. There are extensive instructions and teacher notes to guide the teacher to teach each task. Some of the tasks have a lot of reading which may be challenging for ESL students. ~ The homework has three sections. The Ready section has problems that will help the student for upcoming concepts. The Set section contains practice problems for what is being developed in the current lesson. The Go section has problems that help students review concepts learned previously. The homework sets are not long and tedious so students can focus on what is being taught. ~ The Getting Ready Unit reviews ideas from previous courses that begin to connect the content that will be taught in Secondary I. This section may help during the transition to the~new core. ~ Each lesson begins with a task to help students develop an understanding of the core concepts to be learned. Teachers may need professional development to teach using tasks. There are extensive instructions to guide the teacher to teach each task. Many of the tasks have a lot of reading which may be challenging for ESL students. There are no materials at this time to address special educaiton students and ESL students. ~ There is an extensive section for parents that includes online resources such as the Kahn Academy videos and worked out examples of procedural problems. ~ ~ This book would require that teachers allow time for students to think and have a lot of discussion in the classroom.“
Wait a minute…this book relies on the Kahn Academy videos to teach procedures? That’s convenient. Lets write a textbook and say, “we just want depth of learning, you go somewhere else to learn HOW to do math.”
Require teachers to allow time for a lot of discussion? What if those students actually want to learn math and not have their peers discussing what they ate for lunch?
Now the big lie. Current research says there are NO studies that support constructivism. Dr. Jim Milgram, Stanford math professor who has been and may still currently be the only educator invited to serve on NASA’s advisory board, noted that if constructivist math were a success, NASA would be looking for students that went through that pedagogy. The fact is, BYU’s math education professors’ failure is typical of constructivist programs.
There is only one conclusion. Following the USOE’s math recommendations will kill STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives. All you business leaders and technology oriented professionals supporting Common Core are going to be in for a rude awakening as this machine destroys love of math, destroys math skills, and destroys any edge Utah has for technology…unless…
Utah must drop Common Core and restore local control. The USOE is hell-bent on constructivism and unless there is a major personnel change at the USOE, it’s going to rest on the shoulders of parents to take their children’s education into their own hands (literally), and leave those who can’t get the support at home to drown in fuzzy math.
In 2006 or so, Brett Moulding, state curriculum director at the USOE invited me to his office to ask a simple question. “Oak, you’re a parent who is very involved in your children’s education. How can we replicate that to other parents?”
“Easy,” I replied. “Just implement Investigations math statewide and you’ll have all the parental involvement you can handle.”
True story. I just had no idea they were going to take my suggestion literally. Parents, you may seriously want to consider The Great Escape…Homeschooling.
“There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards… if all the facts were known, it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.”
- Recently retired Utah Teacher Margaret Wilkin
Margaret Wilkin has given permission to post her letter to the Utah legislature. She retired last year from Canyons District.
Senator Aaron Osmond
South Jordan, Utah 84095
… On March 21, 2013, I was asked to return to the elementary school from which I retired last June, to give a presentation at their Literacy Night. Some of the parents and students I taught in the past came down to the room where I was to say hello. In the course of the conversation, a mother of one of the smartest and most conscientious students I have ever had, said that her daughter was struggling in math.
I was surprised, but told her mother that teachers are required to teach to a rigid schedule and must move on to the next unit of study, even if the students don’t understand it.
Sticking to the schedule is more important than spending the time making sure everyone understands.
I knew as a teacher what I didn’t like about Common Core, as well as what had taken place leading up to it, but I didn’t have any concrete facts; therefore, I couldn’t give the parents any verifiable information other than my own story. I have spent the last five weeks researching and learning about Common Core. There are so many facets to Common Core, and I still don’t know everything, but I know much more than I did five weeks ago and enough to know that even without my own experience, I could not support it.
This morning I saw the e-mail from Diana Suddreth, the STEM Coordinator at the USOE, asking the Curriculum Director in each school district in Utah to solicit “success stories” from teachers using Common Core standards. She has further stated in her e-mail that she has seen marvelous and exciting things happening in classrooms since the implementation of Common Core. She stated that these “success stories” are needed to counteract the “vicious attacks” by those opposed to Common Core.
Aaron, are you aware that you and Senator Weiler are named by Diana Suddreth as the only two legislators to contact with the Common Core “success stories”? Am I to understand that you and Senator Weiler are therefore supportive of the Common Core Standards for the State of Utah? If you are, I find this confusing since you have spoken so often of the important principle of local and State control of education. Common Core takes away local and State control, and puts the control into the hands of the Federal Government.
My response to Diana Suddreth is:
1. Utah has always had standards which teachers were required to follow. 2. It is not a matter of “voila” Common Core is here and at long last, wonderful things are happening in classrooms! Exciting and wonderful things happen in classrooms because of the teacher’s own hard work and creativity along with the freedom to decide how to best teach the standards that make for success in the classroom, NOT because a list of Federally mandated Common Core standards. 3. Tax payers asking legitimate questions of elected officials and those employed at the USOE, and having the expectation of them to have studied the issues more carefully than the people asking the questions “is not too much to ask”. Asking questions is not a “vicious attack”. This is the future of our children’s education at stake as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.
Here is my unsolicited “success” story about Common Core:
Please note that I am speaking only to what is happening in the Canyons School District and at the elementary level. And I am speaking out because I am retired. Those teachers in the school system are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out against Common Core and against the policies of the District.
The teachers have been given a rigid schedule which MUST be followed. In the morning, there is to be three hours of reading and language arts followed in the afternoon by two hours of math. P.E. and computer time has been shortened from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a week. That leaves 15 minutes of time each day for one of the following: music, art, science and social studies.
The teachers are monitored regularly by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel to make sure they are following the schedule.
Last year, when I was still teaching, the math portion of Common Core was put into place with the District’s purchase of the Pearson-Scott Foresman math series. As of last year, the “curriculum map” or math schedule did not match the organization of the book. So every night, I had to hunt, using many sources, for what I was to teach the next day in order to follow the curriculum map. This is still the case as of this year.
We were to teach certain concepts during specified blocks of time and sometimes these concepts had no relationship to each other. After the specified blocks of time are completed, the students are tested in the computer lab, mainly so that the district can make sure the teachers are following the schedule. Even if the students do not understand the concepts being taught, the teacher must move on to the next block in order to follow the mandated schedule.
This removes the teacher’s ability to teach according to the needs of her/his particular class. One of the basic tenants of teaching is: monitor and then adjust to the needs of your students. The schedule as required by the District makes this very difficult to do.
We skim over the surface of many concepts. If you have seen any of the ridiculous examples of teaching two-digit multiplication and addition that people have posted on Facebook, yes, I have taught this because it is on the test.
I was in the classroom through the time leading up to the implementation of Common Core, as math was being “dumbed down” and during the time when we were told not to teach multiplication facts, two and three digit multiplication and long division to fourth graders. How could any respectable teacher not teach this? This is not the case at the present time (times tables and long division and two and three digit multiplication are again being taught); however, the time allotted to teach these concepts is not long enough for many kids to grasp the idea.
My ability to be an effective math teacher was GREATLY diminished by having to follow the Common Core standards.
For this current school year, Canyons District purchased the Pearson reading series, “Reading Street” to match up with Common Core. (A perfectly good reading series which was not worn out was discarded. Why couldn’t this discarded series just have been supplemented with additional materials instead of wasting taxpayer money on new books?)
Reading and language arts, as in math, requires strict adherence to the schedule with regular monitoring by the principal, reading specialist and district personnel.
The students have 8 math and 6 reading computerized tests as well as three oral reading tests administered by the district. The upper grades have an additional test called MAZE. This does not count the end of the year testing in the computer lab. After the results are back the teacher is called into the principal’s office, along with the reading specialist, to account for the scores.
These tests are in addition to the regular weekly spelling, reading and math tests from the book publisher and teacher for the report card grades.
Speaking of report cards, we were told last year that the District was going to have workshops for parents so that they could understand the new report card which was going to be aligned with the Common Core standards. Wouldn’t the necessity of needing a workshop to teach parents how to interpret an elementary school report card, tell the District that this was a bad idea?
The lower performing students have just plain given up with this constant testing and will not even try any more. Teachers report that some of their students’ scores are actually getting worse. And again, teachers are called into the principal’s office to be grilled about what the teacher is going to do to bring up the scores, so that EVERY student is meeting the required benchmarks, when they are already doing everything they can to teach the material. Apparently, a child’s developmental readiness or ability is not taken in to consideration.
Is the child’s or teacher’s value only a test score?
The pressure on the teachers from the administration is INTENSE and many teachers say all they can do is teach to the test.
A second grade teacher recounted that she didn’t even dare have her class color a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because of the constant micromanaging by the administration and coloring a shamrock is not on the schedule.
Many teachers are saying they just can’t do this anymore. The joy and creativity of teaching in elementary school has been taken away by Common Core and the excessive testing. Kids and teachers both are burning out. Is this really what we want for our children?
Because of Common Core our freedom is being lost even down to the lowest level: the classroom.
There are MANY reasons to oppose Common Core. Here are just a few:
1. Data and assessment driven. 2. Adopted by the State School Board by accepting stimulus money and agreeing to the Common core standards before they had even been written. 3. Family rights to privacy, as spelled out in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), have been essentially amended making computer testing a major tool in gathering information about students that should remain private. This is known as Data Mining. 4. Adopting these standards takes decision making out of State and local school boards and districts, but, even more importantly, out of the hands of teachers and parents. 5. The State Legislature was bypassed by not being included in the decision of whether or not to adopt Common Core.
There are so many layers to Common Core. There is much more involved here, than just a list of standards. My experience is just one part, but an important part. Frankly, it seems to me that if all the facts were known, it would be more than obvious that the legislature would make the move to abandon Common Core.
I am not against Common Core because I have been around for SO long that I don’t want change, but because I can see the harm it is doing to my profession and to students. The freedom of the parents, teachers, school districts and states to choose what is best for them has been taken away and will be controlled by the Federal government.
May I recommend to you a video presentation explaining Common Core that has been posted on You Tube. It is one of the best presentations I have seen. If you type in Google “You Tube Subversive Threat to Education”, you should be able to find it. It is a current talk given to a group in Tennessee.
Thank you again for all the hours of service you give to our community and State.
Judge Norman Jackson wrote an excellent article which the Deseret News published yesterday. Here’s how it starts and a link to the article.
We the people of the state of Utah declare that we and our children are free and independent of the federal government and absolved of any allegiance when educating our children.
First, the right to educate our children was reserved to parents by the 10th amendment of our U.S. Constitution. But for 50 years the feds have imposed creeping controls upon schools, children and teachers. It’s time to set them free from top-down government micromanagement at all levels.
Second, the Utah Legislature has declared: “It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing and education of their children.”
Why then are our state and school leaders also usurping our fundamental rights?
From the Homeschool Legal Defense Association comes this important news. Here’s a clip and link to the full article.
National Databases: Collecting Student-Specific Data is unnecessary and Orwellian
HSLDA has previously written articles expressing concerns with the Common Core Standards established in 2009 and the move toward national standards, curriculum, and tests.
A related concern is the rise of state databases of student-specific data, and the recent push toward aligning them between states. We believe that this will lead to a national database of student-specific data.
Home School Legal Defense Association has long opposed the creation of a national database of student-specific data. We believe that such national databases threaten the privacy of students, could be abused by government officials or business interests that may gain access to the data, threaten the safety of young people if their data is breached, and are not necessary in order to educate young people. Education should be about instilling academic knowledge, not some Orwellian attempt to track students from pre-school through college graduation. We believe that although these databases are being advanced by individual states, they are aligned between the states, and are being funded in part through the federal government’s Race to the Top program. They are becoming a de facto national database.
HSLDA is working to determine if these databases include the personal data of students who are educated in homeschool or private school settings. We have confirmed that New York City school district is including the data of homeschool students in the New York state database. This is extremely concerning to HSLDA and homeschool parents. We are currently investigating if other states are doing this. And we believe that as national databases grow, it will become increasingly difficult to protect the personal information of homeschool and private school students.
How Did a “National Database” Get off the Ground?
To Utah Lawyer-Legislators:
Executive Summary of the attached paper entitled:
UTAH’S PARENTS DENIED DUE DILIGENCE AND DUE PROCESS: STATE SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES FEDERAL COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
By Norman H. Jackson, Judge, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired. – January 28, 2013
- The Utah State Board of Education adopted Federal Common Core Education Standards in 2010 without giving notice to Utah’s citizens or their Legislature.
- The Board signed on to Common Core to secure Federal Race-To-The-Top funding. Funding was denied. But, Utah remains locked into the Federal mandates.
- The Board breached its fiduciary duty to the public by failing to do Due Diligence before acting. The action constituted a denial of citizen’s rights to Due Process.
- Mitt Romney said Common Core is a mistake because the time may come when the Federal Government has an agenda it wants to promote. That time has arrived.
- Obama’s “Vision 2020 Roadmap” outlines the agenda:
- Control education
- Compel the States into resource distribution
- To “direct remedy” any failure to comply
UTAH’S PARENTS DENIED DUE DILIGENCE AND DUE PROCESS: STATE SCHOOL BOARD ADOPTS FEDERAL EDUCATION COMMON CORE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS
By Norman H. Jackson, Judge, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired PAPER – January 28, 2013
Utah’s State Board of Education adopted the Federal Common Core State Standards Initiative before they, or anyone else knew, what the Standards would be. The Federal curriculum, assessments and other materials had not been written and some are still being drafted. We, and our legislators, had no notice of this action, and have no voice in the ongoing production of Common Core. This procedure has usurped basic education policy and content decisions from parents and our elected representatives. The National takeover rolls on despite the fact that most conservative legislators polled at the 2012 Utah State Convention voiced opposition to Common Core’s federal mandates. Further, these mandates are contrary to the Tenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution which reserves control over education to the states and the people.
Here is the factual background and timeline for the creation and progress of Common Core. Education “reformers” have worked for decades to impose national education standards. The current phase began during the 2008 Presidential election when it was introduced as uniform “American Standards”. As the Obama administration came into power, their vision for nationalizing education was labeled “Benchmarking For Success”. To avoid the scrutiny of the democratic process, they used the Stimulus Bill to distribute an enormous pot of money to the U. S. Dept. of Education. And this taxpayer money is being used to shape state and local education without Congressional oversight.
In March 2009, the Department announced a two-part “Race-To-The-Top” competition for states to receive Common Core education funding. States could not get any money unless they signed contracts to adopt the Federal Standards. In March 2010, the “first official public draft” of the Standards (Math and English only) was released. A final draft was released in June, and our State Board of Education immediately applied for funding and adopted Common Core. Education Week reported Rutgers professor Joseph Rosenstein’s observation that: “Deciding so quickly … was irresponsible”. Moreover, our School Board’s Application was not deemed meritorious. Funding was denied. But, Common Core mandates remain.
These facts demonstrate that we the people, and our children, were denied Due Diligence. Due Diligence is “such diligence as a reasonable person under the same circumstances would use.” It is “used most often in connection with the performance of a professional or fiduciary duty.” It was not reasonable under these circumstances for the Board to act without giving notice to its constituents and providing an opportunity to respond. As fiduciaries, the Board had the duty to act in behalf of the public with care, candor and loyalty in fulfilling its obligations. I concur with Professor Rosenstein and conclude that the Board’s actions constitute a breach of their fiduciary duty to do “Due Diligence” in our behalf.
Further, these facts demonstrate that Utah citizens were denied Due Process. The boundaries of Due Process are not fixed. Fundamental to procedural due process is adequate notice prior to the government’s deprivation of one’s life, liberty, or property, and an opportunity to be heard and defend one’s rights. Substantive due process is a limit on the government’s power to affect the above rights. It is a safeguard against government action that is unfair, irrational or arbitrary in advancing a government interest.
The Federal mandates of Common Core dwarf No Child Left Behind mandates. They have the potential to be like Medicaid and ObamaCare with immense un-vetted and unfunded costs to taxpayers. States and their citizens have the Constitutional right to local control. But, the Government requires that Common Core be fully implemented by 2014. Moreover, recent Federal revisions to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) render student and family data – educational, health and otherwise – collectible by the Federal Government through the P-20W data systems they paid States to create. The State School Board’s denial of due process to citizens has made this possible.
I concur with Mitt Romney’s recent evaluation of Common Core: “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the Federal Government trying to push a Common Core on various states. It’s one thing to put out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the Federal Government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may come a time when the Government has an agenda that it wants to promote”.
Obama’s “2020 Vision Roadmap” for America’s schools was co-written by his former education advisor, Linda Darling-Hammond. Darling-Hammond is now in charge of content specifications for half the country’s testing under Common Core. Yet, she attacks the use of standardized tests! In Nation Magazine, she compares America’s education system with South African apartheid and proposes that poverty requires the government to guarantee “housing, healthcare, and basic income security” to all. Then she praises nations that centrally control their schools.
At the end of her article, she touts Obama’s grand “2020 Vision Roadmap” (which she helped write) stating: “The Federal government should compel states to review inter- and intra- school resource distribution using established indicators. States that fail to comply would be subject to withdrawal of Federal funds, and the Federal Government would have the right to the direct remedy to correct the problem.”
The citizens of Utah and the United States are in for some spectacular surprises, including federally controlled education and redistribution of State and school district resources during Obama’s second term. I urge Utah’s lawyer legislators to evaluate the State Board’s denial of due diligence and due process to Utah citizens, and to protect taxpayers and students from Obama’s Education policies to be fully implemented by 2014.