I received the email below from a woman who wants to share her story but remain anonymous. This is another reason why SB 45 must pass. SB 45 amends compulsory education law to remove criminal penalties on parents if their children are truant.
If you feel like sharing your own story below please do so in the comments.
To Whom it May Concern,
This is a brief synopsis since I have very little time. During her 5th grade year, my child was ill frequently. I am a parent who is a big believer in keeping my child home when they are sick to avoid spreading the illness to others. I will absolutely own that her absences were more that what I would have wanted them to be, but in my opinion, it couldn’t be helped.
I had heard nothing at all from the school. Keep in mind, I live in a very small town, I dealt with the office staff of the school on a weekly basis because of my employment. I work just a few blocks from the school. They could absolutely have gotten in touch with me if they really thought there was a problem.
My next door neighbor was in charge of the special education department at the school. She informed me that at no time was she ever approached with concerns about my child’s academics. She also informed me that CPS was never to be called unless the school saw an academic issue related to these absences, and even then, parent/staff intervention always came first. But even with “policies” in place, someone at the school did, in fact, involve CPS and a case worker met with my child at the school.
The day AFTER this visit I got the blanket, generic letter in the mail that every parent receives if their child misses more than the allotted five days spelled out under the no child left behind act.
A case worker contacted me by phone and then did a home visit. The most terrifying and agonizing week of my life waiting for that visit. When she came to my house she didn’t even come in further than my entry area. She chatted with the family for a few minutes, asked some very pertinent questions, and concluded that there was nothing she saw that was of concern at all with our family and home. But she said, “Because she missed the days, excused or not, the school had the right to call and she must close the case as supported.”
It was, and is still devastating to me that she could traumatize my family and my CHILD in the name of absences. I fully understand the importance of my child being in school, but to threaten my family and criminalize those absences by labeling me with educational neglect was appalling to me. I immediately removed my child from that dangerous public school environment and she flourished at home with me. She chose to go back to public school the next year, which I agreed to only because she had advanced to the middle school where I had served on the community council for two years. I spoke with the principal about my concerns and I felt good about sending her back. I believe I was singled out because I took a pretty public stand against a proposed school levy. But even if that is not true, the fact that the school had legal rights to disrupt my family over illness was not acceptable.
I fully support parental rights to make the decisions they feel are best for their child without the fear of having their children taken away. Because this is a small town and I don’t wish to be targeted further, I wish to remain anonymous.
These headlines about personalized learning in Education Week (see their newsletter below) give a very good snapshot of how psycho-social research and big brother-style data are converging BECAUSE of federal funding.
The goal for states should be to slow down the personalized learning train and give parents the chance to choose, as Dr. Gary Thompson says, “by informed consent,” whether or not they want their child’s academic and behavioral data tracked in order to control what they learn, and how they are disciplined in schools.
As the Fed’s big-data partner, Knewton’s President Jose Ferreira said, “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”
MarketPlace details, “Jose Ferreira imagines a day when “you tell us what you had for breakfast every morning at the beginning of the semester, by the end of the semester, we should be able to tell you what you had for breakfast. Because you always did better on the days you had scrambled eggs.”
MarketPlace continues, “If the right breakfast makes for a better behaved child, that will be measured, too. Teachers are increasingly relying on behavior monitoring software not only to keep kids on track, but to track them, too. With the help of an iPad, the teacher record’s whether or not your child is being helpful and attentive or talking out of turn. The child is rewarded, often with points, for good behavior. Points are taken away when behavior is not so good.”
This explains why the Fed’s gutted FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations so that healthcare and counseling could be provided in schools without parental consent to “improve student outcomes” on test scores. (We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.)
The ironic thing about the MarketPlace article is that James Steyer from Common Sense Media talks about why it’s important that we get a handle on this data surge. Yet, it is HIS company that met with the White House and is helping them get federalized curriculum to teachers through the White House Learning Registry’s data brokerage system.
So many people are out there trying to “do good” in education. But, they are operating off of the wrong principles. If education is about outcomes, than all this data is necessary and desirable to control everyone. If education is about learning and growing, then agency would be inherent and real “choice” in education would automatically exist.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Here’s the Education Week newsletter and link. Notice that the headline makes it sound as if schools are pushing for Personalized Learning, but the truth exists beneath the headline: “Produced with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” For those who still don’t know, Bill Gates partnered with the Obama administration on Race To The Top and the end-goal was to standardize and digitize learning around Common Core and its associated data standards (see here and here).
We’ve been saying this for years, but now it’s on record. In a newly released video by Project Veritas, they caught an account manager for Houghton-Mifflin saying she hates kids and Common Core is all about selling books and making money. Reminiscent of the Planned Parenthood videos, Project Veritas says more videos are coming to establish the fact that this wasn’t just a single incident but a pattern across the industry. I will continue to post the additional videos Project Veritas has filmed for easy reference.
Update 1/23/16: This resolution and amendment passed overwhelmingly in the Utah county GOP Central Committee meeting. Only 3 nays to about 225 yeas. I have modified the text below so it only contains the amended version of the resolution which passed. We also have a legislator working on drafting this move as legislation, and another legislator working on the request for an audit.
If you are unaware of the most recent moves by the federal government to solidify its takeover of education in America and its intrusion into family lives, please review these articles which only deal with the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
(Drafted by Jennifer Huefner, Pam Budge, Wendy Hart, Kristen Chevrier, JaKell Sullivan, Christel Swasey, Kirby Glad, and Oak Norton)
Resolution to Remove Utah From Federal Education Control
WHEREAS, After decades of growing federal intrusion into our state education system, President Obama has signed into law The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which gives the federal government even more sweeping power over state education (1), regulates education in private schools (2) and implements policies and programs reaching into the home (3); and,
WHEREAS our platform states that “Parents have the right to choose whether a child is educated in private, public or home schools and government should not infringe on that right… We favor local accountability and control in all aspects of the education system.”; and,
WHEREAS federal taxpayers provide only a small fraction of our total education budget (4), but by accepting that sum we give the federal government 100% control over the education of our children; and,
WHEREAS, the Governor has announced that Utah now has new ongoing revenue, due to state growth of $380 million (5), more than enough to replace federal funds and regain control over the education of our children; and,
WHEREAS, the only way to avoid the overbearing requirements of ESSA is to opt out of federal funds. (6)
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Utah County Republican Party declares that we cannot continue to stand by while our educational freedoms are usurped, and this increasing federal intrusion must end now; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah is not beholden to federal mandates on education as that is not in the constitutional purview of the federal government, and as such this resolution asks that the legislature and state school board nullify all federal education mandates; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah should withhold money that would be sent to the federal government in an amount equal to the sum they return to us each year for education and use those funds for K-12 education in this state, drop or nullify all federal education mandates, and fully fund Utah’s education programs; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT if Utah is not able to make use of the previous clause, Utah should use its ongoing budget surplus to replace all federal taxpayer money in education, freeing Utah from federal intrusion; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah County GOP leadership shall provide information on this issue to public officials and voters, as may be appropriate through email, website, and physical distribution, and request a comprehensive legislative audit of federal programs including but not limited to those put into place through the 2009 Stimulus Package including data systems (7), alignment to federal regulations, statues, and grants, with the intent for determining how Utah can make a full and complete separation from federal education policies so that Utah schools can truly be freed from federal intrusion; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Utah County Republican Party commends Representatives Chaffetz, Bishop, Stewart, and Love, and Senator Lee, who voted against this invasive law, and we call upon all state legislators and officers to act now to stand for our state’s rights in education.
Oak Norton, HI 07 Katrina Kennedy, AL 5 Mark Cluff, AL 4 Kirby Glad, OR 24 Michael Wirrick, PG 8 Kristen Chevrier, HI 9 Robin Devey, OR 28
Brian Halladay, PG 09 John Morris, LE 11 Jared Oldroyd, PR 11 Nels Beckstrand, AF 05 Loma Lee McKinnon, SR 02 Mark Barlow, AF 13
Troy Lynn, HI 7 Robert Capel, AL 03 Maureen LaPray, PR 38 Tamara Atkin, Payson 06 Nathan Allred, Payson 01 Lynda Roper, PR 25
Supported by: Senators Margaret Dayton, Al Jackson, David Hinkins, Mark Madsen; Representatives Brad Daw, Mike Kennedy, Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene, David Lifferth, Norm Thurston, Marc Roberts, Kay Christofferson
(2) ‘‘(B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure such equity for such private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, the State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of this part.’’ (pg. 71) https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1177/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf
(3) Dept. of HHS/USDOEd Draft Policy Implementation Statement on Family Engagement: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/draft_hhs_ed_family_engagement.pdf “Implement[s] a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences” (Page 5) See “parenting interventions” (IBID pg. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16) ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.” (https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1177/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf, Pg. 69) States shall “become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement;” (IBID, pg. 218) Provides grants to turn elementary and secondary schools into “Full-Service Community Schools” with “Pipeline Services” that provide “a continuum of coordinated supports, services, and opportunities for children from birth through… career attainment”, including family health services. (IBID pg. 222, 223, 229)
(4) http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Fingertip-Facts/2015.aspx 2013-14 is an inaccurate estimate. USOE’s document has a typo on gross revenue showing $1.3B more than expenses. This estimated revenue figure is in line with expenses which are assumed to be accurate as they are in line with the trend. We have 5 straight years of declining federal funds but no declining federal requirements. Unfunded mandates rule our state education system.
Here are my comments from presenting this resolution to the Central Committee.
In 2012 Senator Margaret Dayton invited me to a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Bell to explain what was going on with common core and the agenda behind it. What came out of that meeting was I was asked to draft a bill to protect to Utah from federal encroachment. SB 287 passed and contained several triggers that if any of them were to occur we would exit the agreements.
53 (6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or 54 consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other entity, including 55 a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including: 56 (a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum standards; 57 (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are inconsistent with community values; or 58 (c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium: 59 (i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing Federal Programs Act, or Title 60 63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act; 61 (ii) conflicts with Utah law; 62 (iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a national or multi-state database; 63 (iv) requires records of teacher performance to be included in a national or multi-state 64 database; or 65 (v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking requirements on home school or 66 private school students.
The triggers have been pulled. One state has to start the ball rolling. My vote is we do it here in Utah and lead the nation in reclaiming our freedom and breaking these federal chains of bondage. If not us, if not now, then who, and when?
We do not eliminate one dime of education funding. It simply stops Utah from sending it to the feds and having it returned with strings. We just keep it here, or we self-fund.
No Child Left Behind was a setback for Utah. It subjected our children to excessive testing, stripped our schools of critical decision-making authority and ceded too much power to the federal government. After 13 years of frustration and disappointment, Utah families have rightly been clamoring to leave this law behind.
That’s why we supported the opportunity to scrap No Child Left Behind and give Utahns a fresh start. This week, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a massive education overhaul that the conservative Wall Street Journal called “the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”
This is prime evidence of people who:
Do not read bills before commenting and just rely on others to tell them what a source document says and means.
Evidence that people read something and attribute good intentions to the federal government and hope for the best.
Actually just like the feds involved in our lives more and more.
I cannot believe that these two individuals from Utah would actually be in favor of the feds now invading the home as this bill is about to set in motion (see below), so I have to assume that they are part of category 1 or 2 above. Thankfully, 5 of our 6 members of Utah’s delegation actually READ the bill and voted against this abomination. What abomination am I talking about specifically?
Alpine School District board member Wendy Hart posted this article to her blog. I’m reposting with permission.
Jan 4, 2016: Deadline to Support the Family vs US Dept of Ed
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable vacation. My family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2016. I apologize for interrupting what should be family time, but I felt this information was extremely important.
As many of you know, the replacement law for No Child Left Behind, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in December. As part of that law, the states must come up with a plan for education that includes a ‘Family Engagement Plan.’ Also, the US Dept of Education (USED) is supposed to come up with their own Family Engagement Plan that states MAY adopt, if they don’t want to do their own homework. The USED has placed their plan on their website and is inviting comments until JANUARY 4th. (It’s almost as if they didn’t want public comments, since they put this out over Christmas break, but I digress.) Here is the link for comments: http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/families.html#family-engagement-draft-statement
I would especially encourage you to read pages 13 -14.
Utah State Law says that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children and that the state’s role is to be secondary and SUPPORTIVE to the parents’ role. The Family Engagement piece is anything but supportive to the parents’ role. It does have a lot of nice-sounding stuff to blur the lines of you being allowed to ‘partner’ with the Feds/State as they raise your children.
I could go on with my own diatribe, but I found this from left-leaning education blogger Peter Greene that accurately assesses what a lot of the problems are with this ‘plan’. http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-federal-family-fixing-plan.html I appreciate the fact that this plan is so appalling to average, normal people that it is not a left/right issue, it is a parents vs bureaucrats issue.
Please take a few minutes to weigh in. Once this train is on the track, we will be told it’s too late.
Here are some samples:
Implement a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences.
Develop and integrate family engagement indicators into existing data systems
Local schools and programs should track progress on family engagement goals, as detailed in family engagement plans.
Just remember this when we adopt something egregious as part of our state plan. The mantra that things like this can’t happen in Utah hasn’t been applicable for far too many years.
And a public thank you to Reps Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, as well as Sen. Mike Lee for voting against ESSA and it’s horrid intrusion into the autonomy of the family!
Happy New Year and thank you for all your support and involvement!
Are you KIDDING ME? Parents, please demand your legislators nullify this bill, this session. ESSA and NCLB have no place in Utah schools or homes. Contact them now at http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB):2002 vs Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):2015
(Thank you Wendy Hart for preparing this and Alyson Williams and Jane Robbins for your assistance)
The ESSA has been explained as a significant improvement over NCLB in the areas of federal overreach into education, specifically regarding standards, testing, and accountability measures. In comparing the language between the two bills, this assertion is incorrect. It is true that ESSA gets rid of AYP, but the Secretary of Education and a Peer-Reviewed Committee must approve state plans that may include non-academic and subjective factors that measure ‘student engagement’ or school climate/safety. This summary does not treat the preschool and community learning centers that are also concerns for limited-government conservatives.
In short, this bill purports to fix the problems created under NCLB (some of which were, in fact, created outside of NCLB but incorrectly attributed to it, e.g. Common Core), but there is evidence that it doesn’t, in fact, fix federal overreach, and, in many instances, like in standards and mandated testing, it increases it.
“fair, equitable, high-quality education, close achievement gaps”
Focus changed from equal to equitable and from minimum proficiency in academics to closing achievement gaps
“…State shall not be required to submit such standards to the Secretary [of Education].” p. 1445
Challenging standards same for all schools in the state that 1) specify knowledge and skills for students 2) coherent and rigorous content 3) encourage teaching advanced skills 4) coordinate with 6 federal statutes, 5) English, math, science.
Aligned to State standards. Describe 2 levels of high achievement (proficient and advanced). Describe a 3rd level (basic)
Secretary approves plans unless requirements not met. p. 1456
“State shall not be required to submit any standards… to the Secretary [of Education] for review or approval… Secretary shall not…mandate, direct, control, coerce or exercise any direction or supervision over State…standards.” p. 51
Challenging academic content standards: includes requirement for: 1) consultation with Governor, legislature, teachers, etc. 2) coordination with 11 different Federal programs including IDEA, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOWA) 3) same for all schools in the state with exceptions, 4) English, math, science or others 5) “aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in…higher education…and…career and technical education standards.” p. 48
Specification on US Dept of Ed Review Committee for approving state plans.
Details on when the Secretary can disapprove plans. p. 42-3
Much of the language is similar. . Standards not required to be submitted for approval. Secretary still has discretion to approve or disapprove plans.
Standard specifications much more detailed under ESSA. ESSA requires coordination with 11 federal statutes instead of 6. ESSA requires standards to align with post-secondary coursework. The only current widely-adopted set of standards that are aligned is Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. This alignment continues to set the stage for national standards (Common Core or similar) that will meet this expectation.
Requires testing as follows: In English math, and science at least once: 1) grades 3- 5, 2) grades 6-9, and 3) grades 10 -12. Involves multiple academic measures including “higher-order thinking skills and understanding;” p. 145095% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.
Requires testing as follows: In English and math: 1) in each grade 3 – 8 2) at least once in grades 9-12 In science at least once in 1) grades 3-5, 2) grades 6-9, 3) grades 10 -12. Any other subject the state deems to requires, on a schedule set by the state. Involves multiple up-to-date measures, including higher-order thinking skills, may include measures of student growth, partially determined in the form of portfolios, projects. p. 5495% participation rate required of all students and all subgroups.No parental opt-out of testing is allowed that would hold harmless schools or districts with a lower participation rate on required testing. (p.76)Assessment time is limited (p.76)
Testing has actually increased under ESSA. However, most state plans already include testing of every grade level, starting in 3rd grade at a minimum. But NCLB only requires 3 tests in the 3 different subjects throughout a child’s K-12 experience. ESSA requires 2 tests over 7 years and 1 test over 3 years minimum.
ESSA has greater detail given to other measures that ‘may’ be included on assessments.
95% participation rate maintained. Penalties follow for lower participation, effectively nullifying parental opt outs of testing for federal purposes. State laws allowing parental opt out are allowed, but meaningless for district and school accountability.
The limitation on assessment language has the effect of increasing federally-incentivized testing (under this Act) and reducing local or state testing. Since this is federal law, the federally-required tests will be given. Should additional testing exceed the limit under this part, the state and local assessments will be dropped. It is an increase in federal testing, in practice.
The term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.
The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 1972
Illegal NCLB Waivers from letter dated Sep. 23, 2011 terminated after Aug. 1, 2016. p. 7-8 The term ‘waiver’ applies to the section it is in. It is to be initiated by the LEA or State Education Agency and could be granted for things such as financial hardship, natural disaster, or if the state could find a better way to meet a given objective.The Secretary has no power to establish new terms. p. 819 – 822
ESSA modifications of language are more administrative than substantive.
In 2011, the Secretary of Education granted waivers from penalties under NCLB in exchange for new terms, including, for all practical purposes, using the Common Core standards. NCLB contains no provision for this, and scholarly articles, such as Vanderbilt Law Review, April 2015 (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2485407) call the use of this power unconstitutional. “This Article demonstrates that this exercise of power was beyond the scope of the Secretary’s statutory or constitutional authority. “ In short, the Secretary violated NCLB. There is no recourse for the states under either NCLB or ESSA to prohibit similar action from occurring.
State retains the right to enter in to voluntary partnerships with other states. Zeldin amendment added in the House. Prohibits penalties should states choose to exit Common Core.
Since NCLB didn’t require Common Core, only the unconstitutional waiver process, there is no practical effect to this legislation. It’s a nice ‘Sense of Congress’, but the required alignment of standards to credit-bearing coursework and career (see above) will enshrine Common Core and nationally ‘certified’ programs and processes to meet this requirement.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): State establishes a measure of proficiency and standards for that proficiency, as well as a timeline for AYP that leads to 100% proficiency in 12 years (2014) . Measures of different subgroups defined. Interim goals that require minimum proficiency requirements toward the 100% proficiency by 2014. Indicators of proficiency must be valid and reliable. pp. 1446-8
AYP is replaced with Long-term goals: 1) improved academic proficiency on annual assessments (see above) 2) high-school graduation rates 3) terms of goals are the same for all students and subgroups 4) may include student growth measures 5) another statewide valid and reliable indicator 6) indicator(s) of school quality, may include: student engagement, educator engagement, access and completion of advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, school climate and safety, any other measure chosen by the state. pp. 80-85
AYP proficiency requirements on state-determined tests and standards are now removed. They are replaced with state-determined measures of improvement on state-determined standards and tests. As noted above, the state-determined standards and tests have greater requirements in federal legislation under ESSA than under NCLB.
Additionally, the measures of improvement include much more than academic achievement, and cause concern for parents that the state will requirement assessment of things outside their purview. What does the state’s assessment of student engagement or school safety look like? How is this to be objectively measured?
Prohibitions on Federal Government
Sec. 9527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p.1983
Sec. 8527 “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act.” p. 844
Identical or similar language in both prohibitions sections. ESSA includes more detail “including via grant, cooperative agreement, …” But legally, they cover the same ground.
This timeline of events was prepared by Alpine school district board member Wendy Hart. Thank you Wendy for your above-and-beyond the call of duty efforts.
On May 1, 2009, the SBOE was told about the Common Core standards development. The group, headed by Achieve, Inc, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), wanted the State Board to sign an MOU by the following Monday (May 4, 2009) to participate in the development of the standards. Originally, the Board was asked to vote to approve the MOU, but, upon finding that there was no action item on the agenda for this topic, they were asked to give ‘general direction’. So, the CCSS MOU between Utah, NGA, and CCSSO was agreed to without any formal action by the SBOE. It was signed by Governor Huntsman and State Superintendent Patti Harrington.
Common Standards development, and then adoptions: ‘…a process that will…lead to the development and adoption of a common core of state standards.’
Assessments (tests) that are aligned across the states, ie. Common state tests. ‘The second phase…will be the development of common assessments aligned to the core standards developed through this process….assessments that are aligned to the common core across the states.’
Textbooks and curricula alignment. ‘Align textbooks, digital media, and curricula to the…standards.’
Adoption of the standards within three years. ‘Adoption…Each state adopting the common core…may do so in accordance with current state timelines…not to exceed three (3) years.’
Eighty-five (85) percent of the English and Math standards MUST be the CC standards. States ‘may choose to include additional state standards beyond the common core. States…agree to ensure that the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in English language arts and mathematics.’
Increased federal role in education. ‘the federal government can provide key financial support…in developing a common core of state standards and …common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund,….teacher and principal professional development…and a research agenda.’
The MOU also gave states a greater chance at qualifying for the Race to the Top program, funded by the 2009 stimulus, that would allow states to compete for $4.35 Billion. In order to compete, a state got more points if it had common standards (Common to a significant number of states), and the only thing that met that criteria was this Common Core project.
Common Standards and Assessments, aka Common Core and either the SBAC or PARCC testing consortia (the only 2 available at the time)
Statewide Longitudinal Database System
Improving teacher effectiveness: creating a statewide teacher evaluation system that ties student scores to teacher evaluations
Identifying and Improving Low-performing schools, possibly removing them from locally-elected school boards
Utah applied for RTTT Phase 1 funds and was rejected. The SBOE decided to apply again for Phase 2 RTTT funds. In May, 2010, the State Board Chair, Debra Roberts signed the MOU to join the Federally-funded SBAC testing consortium. This was also done without any sort of Board approval. In fact, she informed the board that she had signed the ‘application’ for membership. The SBAC MOU requires the board to adopt the CCSS by December 31, 2011, and the SBAC testing by the 2014-15 school year. (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase2-applications/appendixes/utah.pdf, p.286)
It was also in the May meeting that the Board was told about the Statewide Longitudinal database (SLDS), funded with a $9.6 M federal grant. The SLDS grant requires tracking of individual student and teacher information, making it interoperable with other state agencies and other states. No discussion of privacy or informed parental consent is mentioned. (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html)
On June 2, 2010, the official CC standards were released. On June 4, 2010, the Board was asked to adopt the CC standards ‘on first reading’ and to ‘accept the whole thing as it is.’ Supt. Shumway explains why the Board is adopting on first reading: ‘The reason for that is various, sort of, strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.’ The board votes, unanimously, to accept the whole CCSS, 2 days after it is released and on first reading in order to be strategic in its RTTT application. In August, the board votes again, on third reading, to adopt CCSS.
In short, the SBOE had no formal votes on two MOU’s that obligated the state to more than just standards.
Side note: The same 4 ‘assurances’ in the RTTT were required in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that Governor Huntsman and Supt. Harrington signed for in April, 2009. In order to be eligible for RTTT, the state had to have had both Phase 1 and Phase 2 SFSF applications approved by the US Dept of Ed (USDOE).
So far, the requirements of the USDOE were done from an incentive perspective: we’ll give you the possibility of more money in exchange for your compliance with our demands. With the advent of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the compliance was tied to punishments—lack of control over funding, and a potential loss of funding, for poor schools. Since the states had already put the 4 reforms into place, there was no reason to not sign onto the Waiver. The Waiver got rid of the insane requirement that every student in the state would be proficient in English and Math or the school would face sanctions of their Title 1 monies. With such a draconian requirement and funding punishments in place, who wouldn’t want out? And if all that you needed was to agree to continue doing what you were already doing, it sounded great. So, in 2012, the SBOE applied for and received a Waiver from NCLB. (The Waiver, arguably, was not valid under NCLB.) The initial waiver was for 2 years. Subsequent waivers have only been offered for a single year. This allows the USDOE to include whatever additional requirements they want, knowing that no state with a Waiver will want to get out of it, even as the requirements become more controlling.
It’s really a brilliant strategy.
Offer money and other incentives for the 4 reforms
Get SBOE’s across the nation to adopt your reforms for the ‘bribes’ that you offer in a voluntary manner. That way there is plausible deniability that the Feds coerced the states. “Come, little state, do you want some candy?”
Once the 4 reforms are in place, offer to mitigate bad law with an agreement to continue those 4 reforms.
Once the mitigation is in place, then draconian punishments are now associated with withdrawal from any of the 4 reforms.
Once so many states are on board with the 4 reforms, the free market is, naturally, reduced to only catering to this national education model, originally incentivized by the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund in 2009.
April, 2009: State Fiscal Stabilization Fund application, signed Governor and State Superintendent
May, 2009: CCSS MOU signed by Governor and State Superintendent. No formal Board Vote.
May, 2010: State Board Chair Signs SBAC (testing consortia) MOU. No formal Board Vote. Also, signed by the Governor and the State Superintendent.
June 2, 2010: CCSS standards are released
June 4, 2010: State Board votes to accept the standards, in whole on first reading, in preparation for an interview about the RTTT application with the US Dept of Ed. RTTT, Phase 2 application reported to the SBOE as having been submitted.
August 6, 2010: State Board votes again to accept the CC standards, in whole.
June, 2012: First Waiver from NCLB granted to Utah
Dr. Brenda Hales: “They would like to have us to sign a memo of agreement by Monday if we’re going to do it.”
Dr. Hales: ” Another con is although states are going to have lots of impact, in fact they’re going to have the opportunity to review the standards, they are not going to allow the states to have, to take a team to be a part of this.”
Dr. Hales: ”and the reason they’re doing it is because the other pro to this, the money that’s coming out for Race to the Top, the RF funds that are half billion, not million, half billion dollar grants are at least partially dependent upon the states having standards that can be looked at in terms of international benchmarks.”
Dr. Hales: “They want the Race to the Top grant to be individual states, but part of the criteria for showing that you are part of the group that is worthy of Race to the Top grant, can’t think of any other word, is that you’ve worked with other states on different issues so, in other words, you don’t put in a grant, it’s an odd mix of highly cooperative and highly competitive funding because what they’re talking about is you have to be cooperative with each other to qualify and then you compete as an individual state for the money and a half a billion is no small chuck of change.”
Janet Cannon: I was ready to make a motion and the thought just ran through my mind, you know, we do have the option of opting out but we are also putting ourselves in a position where we can apply for, have a better opportunity to apply for funds and grants and so forth. So my motion is- Oh.
[Unknown]: I have a problem [inaudible.] This is an information item.
Janet Cannon: Oh, I have listed as an action item, national common standards under tab number seven.
[Unknown]: My agenda says information
Debra Roberts: Oh, the agenda does say-information, but the yellow sheet says anticipated action.
Laurel Brown: Yeah, but the anticipated action is that we’ll discuss the materials.
Janet Cannon: Oh, ok. I was just looking up at the top that says action.
Brenda Hales: You can give me general direction.
Debra Roberts: Okay. Is the Board comfortable with giving Brenda some general direction to move forward on the national common standards and signing a MOU?
Laurel Brown: I’m comfortable with that.
David Thomas: I’m a dissenting vote.
June 4, 2010:
Laurel (Committee report) 7:00: Recommending that the board adopt the common core of states standards as a framework on first reading and we have time for the board members to go in and study this material and then we have second and third reading in August. The momentum in terms of this, although we can do it at any point in time, it is something we probably want to move ahead on more quickly rather than later. Acceptance of the Common Core standards does have some bearing in terms of the points that we receive for our second application for the funding from the federal government. So that would need to happen quite quickly. There is some angst among some people in terms of having to accept a common core standard, and so some of you may still be at that level. Many of us have already gone through that and feel ready to move ahead. We need to bear in mind that if Utah accepts the Common Core standards as iterated by that committee and it has been vetted through multiple people and agencies….if we do it, we accept the whole thing as it is. We don’t nit-pick and wordsmith this, it’s accept it. Then at that point, in terms of using it as a framework, we can plug in the details…map out the curriculum in terms of what’s actually going to happen in the classroom…. we can add to it, we just can’t take away any of that curriculum.
19:45: Brenda Hales: We know you haven’t had time to look, so if the board adopts on first reading, then it gives you time the next month and a half to review it for second and third in August.
(Debra Roberts?) Laurel, our expectation then is to have the board vote on first reading. Does everyone understand that? So, even though the committee approved it on first reading, it’s coming to you for first reading and then we’ll do second and third reading in August.
20:00: Shumway: The reason for that is various, sort of strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.
All those in favor, say “Aye”.. “Aye” Any opposed? Thank you.
Utah’s state board was misled in April by the state superintendent. He sent them an email either knowingly or unwittingly, telling state board members the new science standards were Utah created. Here is his email.
MEMORANDUM TO: Members, Utah State Board of Education FROM: Brad C. Smith Chief Executive Officer DATE: April 9-10, 2015 ACTION: Release Grades 6-8 Science Standards Draft for 90-Day Public Review Background: The Utah State Office of Education in collaboration with the Utah science education community (composed of Utah science teachers, Utah district science curriculum specialists, and Utah higher education representatives) has created a revised draft of the Utah Core Science Standards for grades 6-8. The revision is based on addressing concerns about the format of current science standards in multiple documents and presenting a single vision for college and career readiness in science education. The draft responds to feedback from multiple stakeholder groups including parents, teachers, district administrators, university personnel, and the State Board Standards and Assessment committee.
Superintendent Smith has thus far refused to answer several questions I have asked him concerning this email either verbally or in writing. We’ve known they were not Utah created for over a year now and that they were word for word exactly what the NGSS. There was no “draft” with feedback from multiple stakeholders, parents, teachers, admin, etc…In fact, last fall there was a training in these standards held at Weber State for teachers to get fully on board with them even though they had not been adopted or put through any type of public review process. It’s a total sham.
As a result of this email from the Superintendent, and no doubt plenty of testimony from USOE (which very well could have deceived the superintendent into sending out such a false email above), the state board released these NGSS standards into the public for a 90-day review period.
As a result of these concerns, the state board asked that the concerns be addressed. The USOE got right to work and has now released the new draft of the standards for a 30-day period of review. The public needs to comment on these standards, but most importantly, contact your state board member and ask him/her not to vote these standards in. There is a very small subset of publishers that have materials ready for NGSS. Teachers are not trained in this method of teaching. Several teachers spoke out about this in that Provo meeting linked to above. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And to top things off, the USOE’s rewrite of NGSS is exactly that, simply a minor rewrite of the same standards.
Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):
Vince Newmeyer, a member of the science standards parent review committee has typed up this review of the standards. Please read it.
Review of the USOE October Proposed “Utah SEEd” Standards
revised 26 October 2015
USOE Admits that they Seek to adopt the National Next Generation Science Standards1
The Utah State Office of Education has come out with another draft of the proposed science standards on the 9th of October for a SHORT 30 DAY review. Your response is urgently needed!
The October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards remain in character and precept simply the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which is the complement2 to the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which Utah adopted and which invited so much protest. The only NGSS performance standards that have been dropped from the October draft had to do with perfectly acceptable standards related to kinetic energy and a standard on sensory organs and the brain. Only two standards were added from Utah’s existing Science Standards. Essentially all of the reasons34 for rejecting the national NGSS standards from the April revision (then feigned as “primarily Utah” derived SEEd standards5) remain with the October version of the “Utah SEEd” NGSS standards. Though there are minor changes, a mostly NGSS Utah State standard will almost certainly produce a curriculum of essentially all of NGSS as teachers and districts seek NGSS compatible material for textbooks and lesson plans, etc. Any standards founded on NGSS should be rejected so that Utah can develop true Utah standards in character and values. Please respond to the online survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEEdReview) but also Call and Email the Board members as well as Ricky Scott, the State Science Specialist, and Brad Smith the State Superintendent Now!
In April, when the first publicly presented draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards was released for the 90-day public review, the USOE tried to falsely cast the proposed standards as a Utah grown, Utah values effort. In spite of the many notices to them that their charade was not working, and that those who have investigated knew that the proposed standards were word-for-word taken from the NGSS performance standards, yet the USOE persisted in this masquerade even up through the last public meeting held on the standards. For one of many examples, you can watch Diana Suddreth parrot the tired line at that last public hearing in Salt Lake City on the standards that
“the standards … have been developed over a process of about three years in conjunction with primarily Utah science educators but with input from others along the way,”6
Why such subterfuge in the presentation of these standards? Almost certainly it is because USOE officials gave assurances through multiple representatives on multiple occasions (after the heat they received in the way the “Common Core” with all of its baggage was slipped in) that Utah would not adopt further national standards. See Youtube Utah’s Science7
After the review for the first publicly released draft had been completed, the board voted and sent the draft back for a fundamental re-write. Further, there were promises made from a USOE official that the rewritten document would not be just a thesaurus translation but have a foundationally different character on controversial issues, such as global warming and Darwinian evolution. Well did it happen?
The New Draft:
The largest change in the character and nature of the standards, as presented to the board of education, is that the standards are no longer cast as a Utah derived proposal but that Utah “…SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”8 No longer are they falsely casting this as a Utah grown, Utah values effort, but they are admitting that this is a national standard which they are attempting to adopt. But neither are they completely straight forward with the issue. More completely, the forward material says “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards (emphasis added).”9
In this case “most” means that all of the performance standards proposed are fundamentally NGSS performance standards with the exception of three (3). Two standards are drawn from concepts in the current Utah standards, and one is a further explanation of the greenhouse gas concept. All of the rest of the standards (that is all but these three) are NGSS either exact wording, a thesaurus translation, or in four cases a combination of several NGSS standards. It is interesting to note that long before this standard was released, this author made a list of 27 performance standards from the proposed April NGSS “Utah SEEd” standards which were of a potential concern (depending on how they actually ended up being taught). Only seven of the 27 concerning standards showed some improvement in wording in that they were stated in less dogmatic terms or were re-framed in a manner that brought less concern to one degree or another. Of those seven standards that appeared to have a less bias or concerning cast to them, only three (two of which was of low concern to begin with) really made it on the concern list. That is the sum that could be claimed to be an improvement! The only other adjustment was that the perfectly acceptable performance standards related to kinetic energy were removed, and also a standard about “sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain” was also removed. It is likely these minor changes reflect more the changes that will be adopted in future versions of the NGSS and not a fundamental change from internal Utah motivations.
The retention of NGSS problematic standards persists even down to the widely discredited notion that embryological development follows the claimed evolutionary development or “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” in NGSS MS-LS4-3 or 7.5.4 in the October draft. This notion and fabricated evidence to promote the notion was erroneously advanced by Ernst Haeckel in the late 1800s. It is now and has been for some time widely recognized, by those who have studied embryological development in depth, to be completely false10. For just one example, Erich Blechschmidt commented in his 1977 book The Beginnings of Human Life.
“The so-called basic law of biogenetics [Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny] is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form, making it valid in a certain percentage. It is totally wrong.”11
Sometime ago, while the 90 day public review of the science standards proposed in April were under way, I pointed out that the word-for-word effort to adopt the NGSS was a measure of the allegiance of USOE to remain true to the NGSS national standard. Now, with this October revision we see that the resolve of USOE to adopt the NGSS has not diminished. The USOE even doggedly clings to NGSS tenants that have for a long time been discredited. Further, this shows that the USOE has every intention to adopt all of the NGSS K-12 in which the larger portion has not even been discussed.
The forward material of the new draft claims various other improvements such as more clarity, implementations from the Fordham report, removal of age inappropriate material, and such12. It is ironic that the added clarity largely comes from the adoption of additional verbiage from the NGSS such as NGSS Clarification Statements, either word-for-word or closely tied language. These Clarification Statements had previously existed in drafts produced prior to the April draft but they did not go out to public review. Furthermore, I had stated from the beginning of the April review period that USOE almost certainly had every intention of reincorporating the Clarification Statements in one form/method or another and now here they are emerging just as predicted. As for changes made related to the Fordham report, I see no significant evidence of such. It appears to be a lip service only claim. The last thing I will comment on in this area is the statement that “Age Appropriateness” adjustment have been made as performance standards which encouraged “students debate with evidence about climate change and human effects on the environment were removed from 6th grade.” Yes they were removed from 6th grade only to reappear in the 8th grade standards. Still 8th grade is not what I would consider age appropriate.
Summary NGSS founded NGSS results
While we see that there were minor adjustments for the better, the fact remains that these are NGSS performance standards with mere token deviations. Therefore, when districts and teachers seek to further develop their curriculum, and consider that the State has essentially adopted the NGSS, books, lesson plans, and other sources which teachers and districts will be looking for to further support their curriculum which were developed by others to be NGSS compliant, we will find the full NGSS in every detail will be right back into the classroom, complete in its materialistic and biased character. The USOE has previously pledged to reject further adoption of national standards by multiple representatives at multiple forums13. The reasons for rejecting such national standards has not diminished nor have they varied in any significance from what was offered in the April draft.
Reject the adoption of the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards.
Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):
1 USOE now admits in, “Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review,” October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7, that “Most SEEd standards remain based on” NGSS. Later in this text we will see that USOE definition of “most” means it is essentially all NGSS.
2 See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???” http://www.sciencefreedom.org/NGSS-is-Common-Core-Science.html
3 See paper “Issues With Next Generation Science Standards Proposed for Adoption in Utah and the Adoption Process”
I read the Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment, Evaluation of FSA Final Report (Alpine Testing Solutions, August 2015) and came to an entirely opposite conclusion. The report expressly validated the SAGE test (see Conclusions 1,2,5, and 6). The problems noted in the report (see Conclusions 4, 7, and pp. 77-103) were not the result of an invalid SAGE test, but rather these had to do with Florida’s administration of the test (technology problems, login issues, head phone issues, insufficient training of the proctors, and late delivery of materials) and the fact that SAGE is aligned to the Utah Core Standards and not to the Florida standards (pp. 47-48). While the two sets of standards are similar, the Report notes that there are differences which make SAGE not fully aligned to the Florida standards. For example, Florida uses Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, while Utah uses an integrated math model. Such differences present problems for the long term use of the SAGE test in Florida. Consequently, the Report rightly recommends that Florida get their own test. This discussion about misalignment is the reason I have long discouraged reliance upon NAEP, which uses its own standards to compile its test; standards that are not aligned with Utah.
I would highly recommend reading the Conclusions to the Report (pp. 118-121).. I would caution all policy makers to be careful about focusing on isolated comments in a 150+ page Report which may be taken out of context.
David L. Thomas
In response to Mr. Thomas’ statement, Dr. Gary Thompson wrote the following rebuttal.
Vice-Chair Thomas’s response…failed to answer many important issues vital to the economic, educational, financial, and moral health of our community. His non-response was a attempt to get stakeholders in education to focus on irrelevant “trees” at the expense of the “forest” comprised of our children. That is unacceptable to me as citizen, father, and local clinical community scientist.
This blog post is about the “forest”:
1. What exactly IS validity? (See below)
2. Did the Utah SAGE test undergo a validity study? (No. See below)
3. How important are validity issues in educational testing to your children? (Extremely. See below)
4. Will the next 9 pages be the most important education information considered for parents of Utah and Florida’s “divergent learning” students? (Probably. See below)
To continue, reading Dr. Thompson’s expert analysis, please go directly to his article here:
The Test Validity Trojan Horse: Utah and Florida’s Dangerous Game of Education Poker With Our Public School Children
The Pioneer Institute recently released a book on why Common Core is bad for American Education. After an introduction by Peter Wood on how Common Core will harm our education system, experts from different fields pick apart the standards, the adoption process, the lowering of college standards, the enormous cost of CCSS, the destruction of the arts and history, and the overall lowering of the bar. Those experts include some names you’ll find familiar like Milgram, Stotsky, and Wurman, whose contributions to education have been critical in an age of bad educational theories and fads.
If you don’t understand Common Core, please pick up a copy of the book. If you do understand Common Core, get further educated on the issues by getting the book.