Christel Swasey wrote this fact-check post on her site. I have included Judy Park’s full email below for reference, as well as comments from 2 of the 15 parent assessment review panel members which seem to contradict Judy Park’s claims.
From Christel Swasey
Once again it seems necessary, unfortunately, to provide a fact-checking rebuttal to statements made by Utah’s Associate Superintendent Judy Park about student data privacy.
In a letter given out to parents of children attending a St. George charter school recently, Judy Park was quoted at length. Park, the Associate Superintendent of Utah, made the following statements that will be scrutinized here with links to opposing evidence.
In that letter, Ms. Park wrote:
“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”
Here’s evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park.
1. First, there is a Utah law about Common Core standardized tests. This law, HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.
2. There is a company that Utah has paid at least $39 million to write its Common Core-aligned standardized tests: American Institutes for Research. Its mission: “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation…“
Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah law says that the test must test behavioral indicators, the test still won’t?
3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)
Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems. These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)” That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS). Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it. (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)
The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database. “Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.” It also says:
“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.” So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s one way they’re gathering the psychological data.
4. Ms. Park herself is a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core. This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are. On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.
Lastly, there is this issue: Ms. Park wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.” This is a big problem since the state and the federal requirements do not match anymore. The state is much more protective of students’ rights. Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky Department of Education (DOE). The DOE changed the definitions of terms. They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data). They redefined personally identifiable information. So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared. Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?
Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant application to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it.
Unless bills like Jake Anderegg’s current HB169 student data privacy bill and others like it will pass, we have very few protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscuous data sharing here in Utah.
Sad but true.
Another article on this site which is related to this topic contains this information:
The Utah State Office of Education has an official document actively endorsing the collection of behavioral and non-academic data, “Utah’s Model for Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance”
“Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play, data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59″)
This list of CCGP Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a Personal Commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society
Judy Park’s Original Email
The advocates of “anti-common core” are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law. The url below, is a document that provides specific information about data collection and use in Utah. This document also provides links to other documents that lists each data field that is collected. It is unfortunate that due to the misinformation that is being freely shared through emails, etc., parents who choose to not have their students participate in the academic testing this year, will not receive the assessment results that can provide good information for students and parents and be used to inform instruction for their classroom next fall. http://schools.utah.gov/assessment/Testing-Director-Resources/StateLong-DataSys-5.aspx
There are also claims that the company, AIR that will be scoring the assessment, will use student data in an inappropriate way. The original contract with AIR as well as federal law prohibits AIR or any other assessment company from using data for purposes not approved by the entity (state) that holds the contract. Due to the many concerns, an amendment was made to the contract to strengthen the language. The url for this amendment is below.
There are also concerns that the test questions contain inappropriate content of a social or political nature. Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall. Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate. The media did some stories as a follow up to the parent panel. This information can be found at the url below.
As an additional support to parents, USOE/AIR has produced a SAGE brochure for families. There are three brochures; Policy makers, Educators, Families. These are brand new and will be placed on the website today. I have attached them for your use.
I hope these documents and information is helpful to you. Please let me know if there are other questions, or if I can provide additional information.
Judy W. Park, Ed.D.
Utah State Office of Education
Student Services and Federal Programs
Comments from 2 members of the 15 parent panel
Quoted from Judy Park: “Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall. Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.”
I served on that 15 parent committee, and I will tell you that is not true. And if Dr. Park says that, she must have been sleeping during the meeting we had altogether at the end of our week at the USOE office last November (a private meeting, without the media, where everyone there had to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, which is why I can’t give specific examples). Yes, there were questions flagged for ridiculous reasons like grammatical errors, incorrect answers (seriously? I didn’t realize it was our job to check if the answers were correct!), or malfunctioning technology. But I know I wasn’t the only one to flag items because of subjective, inappropriate, or misleading content. Sometimes it was for individual questions, sometimes it was every question related to a certain passage, because the passage was inappropriate/biased. We were told that everything flagged would be reviewed again, and a decision regarding revision/complete removal/no change would be made between USOE and AIR. As part of the committee, we will not see the end result of those until we reconvene this fall. Everyone in the committee agreed that the majority of the questions seemed fine, however I don’t like it repeated that this equates to approval of the entire test.
“Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.” –Judy Park (above)
I am a parent on the SAGE assessment review panel and this statement is not accurate. There were questions that parents flagged as inappropriate, subjective or biased. We were promised that these test items would be reviewed and addressed and that we would get to see how they were addressed when we convene again this fall. (Which is long after this Spring’s pilot unfortunately, so I can give you no assurance whether those items have been satisfactorily addressed or not.) I participated in this panel in good faith, wanting to be a contributor to making improvements and not just a critic and I feel it is a manipulation of my cooperation to characterize it as unreserved approval of these assessments.
Nobody on this site is shocked by this. We’ve see this coming from 2,100 miles away. The Governor, State Board members, and USOE keep denying it because they were deceived and have become defensive over time. Now they are happy in their delusions of reality. The longer we stay on the Common Core agenda (standards, computer adaptive assessments, data collection, etc…), the more beholden Utah will be to comply with federal mandates and curriculum interference. We need Utah off this whole agenda and back on its own high quality state standards. The feds are tightening the noose.
From the CATO institute: http://www.cato.org/blog/budget-proposal-its-not-just-about-core-coercion-anymore
The big story in the proposal is – or, at least, should be – that the president almost certainly wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, POTUS wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.
This was utterly predictable. Core opponents, who are so often smeared as conspiracy mongers, know full well both what the President has proposed in the past, and how government accumulates power over time. RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”
Under Common Core’s Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT), you will never know what indoctrination your children are being exposed to and neither will your children’s teachers. This video explains exactly why you MUST opt your child out of all computer adaptive tests or start homeschooling.
Hypothetically, what if you’re a teacher who holds a view that those above you don’t like? Maybe you’ve stirred the pot one too many times. What if someone has the power to dial up the difficulty on your students’ exam and make you look bad? What if you’re a student who answers a little too conservatively? Will you have something tied into your record that identifies you as a potential troublemaker in the future?
Superintendent Menlove has said in a House Education Committee meeting that all students may opt out of these tests. Go to this link, click HB 81′s audio under the player, and forward to the 29 minute mark and start listening.
In Utah, we have the SAGE assessments, administered by AIR. AIR does not specialize in academic testing. They are a behavioral testing company. If you are new to this issue, here are a few past articles to bring you up to speed.
Do you think we’re safe just because we live in “family friendly” Utah? Think again. Here’s a letter I got from a parent just a few days ago.
I am passing this on to you because I believe you can reach more people than I can. This morning my son was to take his 8th Grade writing assessment. Knowing that this would most likely be an assignment where he was asked to write about his opinion on something, I went down to the school and talked to the English teacher. She told me that in the past, the topics had been things like whether or not students should be allowed to wear hats at school or what their opinion was on school uniforms. Another asked an opinion about using paper or plastic shopping bags. However, she was not allowed to see the actual prompt before or after the assessment in past years or this year. She was nice, but unconcerned. After visiting a while, she was willing to let me be in the room and look over my son’s shoulder as the prompt appeared after log in. One look and I let her know that my son would not be participating in the assessment. She was polite and said that was fine. While not revealing the actual topic of the assessment, I will share that it very clearly asked for an opinion regarding the role of parents vs. the role of government and other organizations on a topic that I would say should most definitely fall under the parental realm. Heads up to parents of all 8th graders in the state of Utah!
(PhD in Instructional Psychology & Technology with emphasis in Educational Assessment)”
When I inquired further, this parent indicated this was a state-wide 8th grade writing assessment. It was the only question on this assessment. Her son informed her that another boy in his class didn’t participate for the same reason. He stepped out and called his mom to tell her what the prompt was and she told him not to participate.
I pressed this parent further to know the specific question and she responded:
“Should access to media be limited by parents, by the government, or by another organization?”
This is an opinion question given to 13-14 year olds. Most of them aren’t going to know of other organizations that they could write about as a viable option on a writing assignment, so the real choices for this writing assessment are parents or government putting restrictions on their media. This is Utah, and I’d like to believe that most children would write that it’s better for parents to put the restrictions on them, but there’s probably a lot of young teens who resent the restrictions parents put on them and probably a good number are going to write and speculate about how the government should be in charge of such matters. In reality, the only role the government has is ensuring the first amendment is protected.
I recommend you immediately opt your children out of all CAT’s using our opt-out form. Talk with your child about inappropriate questions that may minimize the role of parents. Look up your school district to see if it is opt-out friendly. So far only Nebo school district has displayed animosity toward families in rejecting the opt-out form. Alpine even went so far as to publish their own simple opt-out form for parents to use. A few charter schools have indicated they will also force children to take the test because the school is graded based on this test and charters live and die by enrollments. We need the state to change the way they grade schools so it does not include CAT’s. Look at our opt-0ut form though and you’ll realize you have a fundamental liberty interest in the education of your children so you hold the upper hand. Opt-out.
Last fall, the state allowed 15 parents to review 10,000 test questions. In one week. Hundreds of questions were flagged for concerns. The vast majority of those concerns were ignored. Parents really have no clue what their children are going to see on these tests. Only 15 people caught a very fast glimpse of them and none of them were trained psychologists looking for behavioral indicators.
I strongly encourage you to opt your child out of CAT’s. If you are in a school that requires them, expose your child to someone with a cold a few days prior to the tests. :)
Here is a chart and explanation by one of the 15 parent reviewers.
“All items flagged by the parent review panel, which were not removed will be presented to the parent review panel next summer for further review.”
Listed below is the numeric representation of the process:
|Flagged||Removed||Changed||Review after Field Test|
|English Language Arts||
Addendum by Alpine School District Board Member Wendy Hart
I believe that if you opt out, unless your school has a policy otherwise, it shouldn’t matter whether your kid is there or not on the day of the test.
The short answer is that ‘yes’, your student will be counted in the school and teacher grades as non-proficient. However, this is set by the State Board, and they have said if it affects the school and teacher grades because too many parents opt out, they would change it. It was news to me that it would be on the child’s permanent record, but I confirmed this evening that they are putting it in the computer system in ASD as such, again because of the State Board’s grading system. So, this is new (since my kids have no record of having tested the last two years and they were opted out, formally, both years). It goes to a bullying mentality from the State Board: parents have the right to opt out, but we’ll make it very, very difficult for them. (They can’t legally penalize the student for the parents’ choice, but they can make it seem very, very bad.)
If the parents and teachers were to push back, the State Board would change their policy. (They have already said they would, they just need more incentive from the people to do it prior to the tests.) It is unfair to punish the teachers for kids who don’t take the test. Please write to all the state board members and ask them to change their grading system. If enough people do this (and it might only take a hundred or so), and copy in the legislators, it will get changed. They are hoping to get enough parents to be scared that they won’t do it. After they have this system in place for a year or two, then they will change it to where the student’s grade is dependent on the test, as well.
I’m so sorry, and I completely understand that pressure. I am doing this with my kids because the whole thing enforces what the State Board wants at the expense of local schools and local parents. The only way to change it is for parents to reassert their natural rights. I wish teachers would push back, as well. It is most unfair to them. It wouldn’t take much for a large group of teachers and/or the UEA to stand for fairness in grading. There is no point to counting an opted out student as non-proficient other than to induce teachers to guilt parents into having their kids tested.
Let me know if I can help with anything.
Another essay contest entry, by Alyson Williams
The current approach to education reform in the U.S. reminds me of a well-known scene in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Tom needs to whitewash an entire fence before he can get on with what he’d really like to be doing. Not able to get the job done on his own he comes up with a clever plan and one by one gets the neighborhood boys to take over his work by making the job look really appealing, by convincing them it is something that want to do of their own accord, and by the flattery that only certain people are capable of doing such an important job. After all, Aunt Polly was “awful particular” and didn’t trust Jim, or Sid with the task.
Sound familiar? Federal and private education reformers have been trying to push through policies to centralize power over education for decades but could not force the sovereign states to comply. Who knew all they had to do was convince a few of the “neighborhood boys” that they would make great reformers and call the plan “state-led.”
I find in the dialog between Tom and his first dupe an especially uncanny metaphor for the adoption process of Common Core and the other Stimulus-driven education reforms.
Tom expresses doubt that his friend Ben can be trusted with such the important task at hand saying, “If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it …”
Ben assures Tom that he’ll be careful and deciding he’d better give something to Tom in trade he offers, “Say – I’ll give you the core of my apple.”And then as he sees Tom hesitate, he adds, “I’ll give you ALL of it.”
So Utah gave away our Core, but who wants just the core of an apple? Do we really think they’ll be satisfied with that?
The story continues saying, “Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart… the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.”
The narrator says of Tom, “He had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.”
The vignette ends with the observation that Tom “had discovered a great law of human action… that Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do” but that people would happily work at doing something if it was voluntary.
How ironic that this was so similar to the process that led to the adoption of the English Language Arts standards that sacrifice the time once spent feasting on classic stories in favor of the informational-texts of the 21st-century, global workforce. Stories that, like this one, would serve as a cautionary tale to Governors, Superintendents or others racing to support common education standards for our nation when they would likely never had been such enthusiastic participants if the objective had been assigned or decreed. When deftly positioned as a voluntary “state-led” initiative, however, and presented along with the ego-stroking idea of themselves as the only leaders who could be entrusted with such an important task, the Common Core State Standards Initiative swept Governors and Superintendents into bids of what they each might offer (in the form of Race to the Top grant applications and often the entirety of the cost of such commitments when the grant was not awarded) for the honor of participating.
One key reformer, Education Secretary Arne Duncan later bragged to an international audience at UNESCO of the early success of this strategy saying, “… today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.”
As a result, the fence standing between reformers who would centralize key aspects of public education and their goal of getting on to more mischief with our local schools was whitewashed in record time. The dupes gave up the whole apple and more, and just like Aunt Polly, many an unsuspecting citizen accepted the trickery as a praiseworthy achievement.
In the engaging tale of an American boy, Twain gives all who would read a great insight into what motivates people (think of it as leadership training 101) but also alerts would-be dupes against such schemes as the one currently enabling a concentration of power over the education of the rising generation.
In this example we see the power of a good story to develop both literacy and wisdom regardless of the century or the economy in which the reader lives. It might lead one wonder if we really want students to spend more time dissecting excerpts of everyday informational text (characterized as “critical thinking”) or whether we all would be better off with a little more Tom Sawyer or other classic works that have outlived educational and political fads by masterfully capturing human interactions in language that speaks to our hearts and souls, entices us to learn more, and gifts us timeless ideas and ideals to think critically about.
Teacher Mercedes Schneider spoke on a panel last week at the Network for Public Education Conference. She is from Louisiana and holds a PhD in applied statistics and research methods. Listen to her brief speech as she shreds Common Core. Then read her excellent article on how Gates is funding the Department of Education to hold labor-management conferences to help with implementation of Common Core.
Just as Count My Vote really means Dilute My Voice and protect incumbents, Common Core has been renamed and rebranded in various states. For example, in Utah, state officials quit calling it Common Core and renamed it the Utah Core so folks at the state office can tell people we aren’t on Common Core, we have the Utah core. Well people are catching on and they’re going to need some new names pretty soon. So lets help them out. Please come up with your best and most accurate name for Common Core and share it in the comments.
Rep. Dana Layton yesterday unveiled a substitute version of HB 342. Here’s a link:
Unbelievably, she turned to the UEA, state school board, superintendent, and Governor’s office, and rather than return to us for any clarifications we wanted to add, went ahead and rewrote her bill. The original bill was going to have a big fight on its hands because the USOE had said it would cost $2 million to write new standards and that Common Core was free since they came to the state without our cost (Gates Foundation and other sources paid for them). Unfortunately this was a lie. Utah could have the very best standards and they would be free. Utah adopted Common Core solely because of the chance to get Race to the Top money from the Feds.
Listen to her statements in the hearing here:
Quick and not fully quoted comments from her statement:
If I look like I have a little jet lag it’s because I’ve traveled back and forth between universes.
One side everything is rosy
The other CC is a federal takeover
My concern is Utah having control over its ed system
My first bill was drafted when I was under the impression that we’d ceded control
I went to the UEA, local school boards, principal, state board, superintendent Menlove
I came to a different approach
Parents who are alarmed are mostly alarmed by perception that we have let go of control and we are now in lock step with other states that adopted CC
We haven’t let go of the wheel. Not only can we steer, we will.
In speaking with the Governor’s office and others, lets formalize parental involvement in reviewing standards
If we want to spend tens of millions of dollars in Utah promoting STEM careers, perhaps our math standards need to be better suited for engineering careers.
A couple brief comments while I wrap my head in duct tape…
1) If Utah is concerned about STEM careers, it will be BECAUSE of Common Core, not from our prior decent math standards
2) Even though we had spoken with Rep. Layton, it is obvious she didn’t get as deep into the source documents as she should have. When we have a retired Utah appellate judge review the contracts Utah signed onto and side with us, you know there are some serious issues to wrestle with.
3) There is still a chance for House members to amend this bill back to its original form. Please write your House Representative and ask him/her to either amend the bill back to it’s original form so Utah gets on it’s own superior standards by 2016, or else kill the bill. Saying in this bill that parents should have a review committee for the standards is dangerous because statute already provides for all parents to have a voice in the standards. The USOE just completely failed to do that with Common Core because of the crisis created by the feds to sign up for RTTT money.
UT code says:
The state recognizes that parents currently hold the right to direct the education of their children.
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
Also according to state statute:
(1) In establishing minimum standards related to curriculum and instruction requirements under Section 53A-1-402, the State Board of Education shall, in consultation with local school boards, school superintendents, teachers, employers, and parents implement core curriculum standards which will enable students to, among other objectives:
Please email your House member now and ask him/her to either amend the bill back to it’s original form so Utah gets on it’s own superior standards by 2016, or else kill the bill. Find your rep here:
Diana Suddreth, a curriculum director at Utah’s State Office of Education, sent out this email this morning in anticipation of HB 342 being presented. It went to “Curriculum Friends” all over the state. In it we clearly see the goals of the USOE. The person who sent it to me included this introductory line and copied several others in her department: “I think we all want this bill to go a different way than Diana and Syd do.”
———————- (bold and italics mine)
From: Suddreth, Diana <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>
Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 9:06 AM Subject: HB342
Just a heads up that today in the House Education Standing Committee HB342 (Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education by Rep. Layton) will be heard.
This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.
Go to www.le.utah.gov to read the bill and find additional information should you want to take any action. Rep. Layton has promised a substitute that will be softer but as of yet, the original bill is still on the agenda.
Sydnee Dickson, Ed. D.
Director, Teaching and Learning
Utah State Office of Education
Please note Utah has a very broad public records law. Most written communication to or from our state employees regarding state business are public records availiable to the public and media upon request. Your email communication may be subject to public disclosure.
Well Ms. Dickson, I thought the USOE valued local control and parental input? I thought Common Core wasn’t a set of National standards? Freudian slip? True colors coming out? How dare you try to take power away from parents over what their children are exposed to and the quality of education they receive. The USOE sold us down the river in adopting Common Core for a shot at getting a federal bribe. The USOE is perhaps the most subversive agency in the state.
An open letter to Utah legislators,
HB 131- Utah’s Public Education Modernization Act seeks to put a mobile device into the hands of every K-12 student. Its price tag is conservatively estimated at $200,000 million. Realistic estimates put it significantly higher and point out that costs will be ongoing.
This bill injures parental rights, harms the parent/child relationship and endangers taxpayers in the following ways:
1. Injures parental rights by disrespecting the parent’s primary role as educator.
a. HB 131 imposes a one-size-fits-all, technology approach to learning that ignores the diverse approaches to learning that many Utah parent’s value. This injures the parent’s right to choose a different approach for their child.
b. Utah parents, who do not want their child to have access to devices during the entire school day and to be required to use those devices for nightly homework, are injured by this bill.
c. Utah parents who believe that historically proven approaches to classical educations are better than encouraging overuse of technology to “fundamentally change the teaching and learning experience” are also injured by this bill. (Quote from ProjectRed—the group pushing the bill.)
d. Computer adaptive curricula, while appealing, also have the disadvantage of being changed without parental knowledge. Additionally, student-identifiable data collection becomes almost impossible to police.
2. Harms the Parent/Child Relationship by subordinating the parent’s authority
a. Eliminates the parent’s right to control their child’s technology use
b. Elevates the school’s technology policies over the parent’s technology policies (if the child violates family policy, the parent cannot take the technology away when it is required for homework)
c. Causes contention in families by altering the school/parent relationship. The parent and child serve the school’s needs for control, rather than the school serving the parent and child’s needs for education.
d. Creates a power struggle between parents who disagree with technology overuse, schools who require it, and children who are tied to it
3. Makes Utah taxpayers beholden to private interests seeking to dismantle local control of resources
a. ProjectRED is the group behind HB 131 that is seeking to put a mobile device into every child’s hands. There are questions about ProjectRED’s sponsor Intel, Intel’s relationship with IM Flash and IM’s relationship to legislators supporting HB 131. These relationships should be made transparent to Utah taxpayers.
b. ProjectRED’s CEO Leslie Wilson said, “Regions and districts MUST consolidate…to recapture funds to reallocate to ed tech.” This edict benefits ProjectRED, and special interests who jump on the technology bandwagon, NOT Utah taxpayers.
c. Technology is ever-changing. Costs for broken, lost, stolen, or outdated devices cannot be foreseen. Will parents have to pay for broken, lost or stolen devices? Will taxpayers be on the hook for continued upgrades which will further enrich the private interests pushing these policies?
And, in case those reasons just don’t seem good enough to legislators, let’s identify one more problem with HB 131.
The goal to regionalize local school districts and reallocate state’s funds into technology is part of President Obama’s regional equity movement—the movement to reform education by redistributing wealth.
Here’s a partial history:
President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on January 12, 2013. He touted Phase I and announced Phase 2 of his Blueprint to fundamentally transform America’s education system.
He said, “Four years ago we started Race to the Top to develop smarter curricula and higher standards.” (Common Core Standards – Phase I)
Then, he said, “Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to REDESIGN America’s schools so they better equip graduates for a high-tech economy.” (Resource Redistribution – Phase 2)
Utah’s State Board jumped right onto Phase 1′s Common Core, and now Utah’s State Legislature is enacting Phase 2 under the guise of House Bill 131.
The day after the President’s speech, his Equity and Excellence Commission, housed in the US Department of Education, issued a report entitled, For Each and Every Child. It said, “We present a bold new vision of the Federal Role in education….The time has come for the Federal Government to REDESIGN AND REFORM THE FUNDING of our nation’s public schools.”
Many of the players behind this federal push are simply profiteers. Please do not fundamentally alter parental rights and put Utah taxpayers in jeopardy.
Contest entrant Mike Porter submitted this essay on the constitutionality of Common Core.
During 2013, Common Core has been a subject of growing interest among families, teachers, school boards, and politicians throughout the country. As states adopted these “minimum standards” called Common Core, a growing number of citizens are organizing in opposition to its structure and function. Utah is among a super majority of states who have adopted these standards and are moving forward to its implementation in our schools. Being an active parent in my children’s education and an informed participant in my civic duties, I wish to join the resistance in opposition to our states association with this organization.
Proponents for Common Core say it’s a set of standards that define the expectation of what students are supposed to learn. With these expectations parents and teachers will be able to guide their children through the learning process and prepare them for college and careers. Common Core advocates claim these standards are only expected outcomes, which in no way limit the options in curriculum. They profess the curriculum choices are still left up to the school system to decide.
Critics argue in part that standards should not be decided upon by outside or unknown sources but by parents, schools, districts, and school boards. Antagonists say the expected outcomes and standardized tests will dictate the subject matter and curriculum, thus limiting their choice and discretion of what is taught and the method of instruction. They are doubtful a small panel will be able to meet the needs of a diverse population in an ever changing environment. And lastly, their research shows evidence of collusion and corruption with individuals and corporations while the government dangles money to encourage states to accept this concatenation.
Thomas Jefferson did not believe in entangling ourselves with foreign alliances for reasons of maintaining our sovereignty, nor did he wish us to inherit problems from other lands. I believe this has application in the area of education as well. Alliances such as this limit our sovereignty as a state and people with regards to how we choose to best educate our children. No one program can possibly meet the needs of this vast land without dumbing down the educational process. The George W. Bush initiated program “No Child Left Behind” did just that, just ask a teacher.
The tenth amendment declares all powers not enumerated in the constitution were left to the states and the people. The federal government has been involved in education for many years, redistributing the States money (our money) as they see fit with nothing to show for it but a further decline in the quality of our children’s education. The republican platform has asserted that the federal government has no authority to entangle itself in education. The states and its people need to assert their right and responsibility as the proprietor for the education of their children.
Whether Common Core is a federal program or a private conglomerate it does not matter, the principle is the same. When power is centralized, corruption and abuse of power is enabled, efficiency is diminished and the needs of the individual citizens suffer. The founders believed in the principle of separation of powers. They believed societies functioned best when governance was administered at the lowest possible level. If public education is a function of government which it is in our society, it is best administered at the community level closest to the children being educated. Programs, problems, and solutions are best managed in the capable hands of the professionals directly involved: Parents, teachers, school boards, and districts working together to educate the students they love and care about.
Competition is a vital element of our free-market, capitalistic society; it promotes innovation, improvement, efficiency, and corrective action. It encourages abundance and competitive prices to more groups and classes of people when it is allowed to flourish. Competition should be allowed to thrive in the education of our children. By creating a single set of standards-implemented by a few, competition is stifled and our children will suffer, and our society will be diminished for generations.