Online Brainstorming Session

We need to capitalize on the energy following last night’s “We Will Not Conform” event. Let’s work together to strategize and organize to kick Common Core and all it’s entanglements to the curb!  In the comment section below post your ideas on how to take action now and organize locally. Here are some ideas to start:

  • Make T-shirts
  • Yard Signs
  • T-shirt design contest
  • Hold an organizing convention
  • Organize by District
  • Radio Ads

Comments will only be approved if they’re positive, constructive, and don’t involve name calling.

UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents – May 13

“UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents”

at UVU’s Sorenson Student Center

May 13, 2015

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

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

8:30am -Sign In

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

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

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

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

 

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

Catered Lunch & Training- $15.00

Training only- $5.00

 

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

 

6:30-8:00  Five Strings musical group, Joy Pullman and Senator Al & Juleen Jackson

8:00-10:00 – Tim Ballard with Operation Underground and showing of The Abolitionist

 

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

Fill out my online form.

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

SB235 Effectively Federalized Utah’s Education System and Federalization is Anti-Family

Senate Bill 235 – School Turnaround and Leadership Development passed at the midnight hour of Utah’s legislative session last night. It passed under a different name though—”Education Modifications.” It sounds much more innocent that way. This bill, while already passed, MUST STILL BE CHALLENGED! Why? It codified Obama’s Federal Waiver reforms into state law and, for all intents and purposes, federalized Utah’s entire education system. Federalization is Anti-Family because it’s Anti-Agency.

Are we willing to tell our children and grandchildren that we sat back and allowed it to happen? Please say no.

Below, I am sharing a letter that I sent to a member of the Utah State Board in November 2014 (credits go to Michelle Boulter of Return to Parental Rights for allowing me to include her excellent research). I also shared portions of this with Senator Niederhauser and his SB235 co-sponsor Rep. Bradley Last.

Parents, delegates who voted down Common Core, and taxpayers must rise up to hold these legislators, and those legislators who supported SB235, accountable for their actions. And, there must be a call to repeal this bill. We must demand that the State School Board, Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes and Auditor John Dougall AUDIT THIS FEDERAL PROGRAM if we want to preserve parental rights and local education control.

 

Dear Utah State Board member,

Were you aware that the US Department of Education funds the federal Center for School Turnaround? This is a program that trains school and district leaders how to implement the federal education reforms linked to President Obama’s Race to the Top/Common Core. The goal is to “develop district and school leadership skills needed to meet the challenges of turning around low-performing schools.” The Utah State Office of Education has a 5-year contract to run district/school leaders through this federal program. The program is headed by WestEd and the 2009 Stimulus-created/funded testing consortia SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia)?

Why is SBAC involved with state/district school turnaround training? Could it be that federal turnaround measures are directly tied to Common Core testing and the revamping of instructional models in our local schools?

My hope is that you will audit this federal program. The information below unveils how the Utah State School Board has been losing “general control and supervision” of Utah’s education system. Much of that control is being lost to the Utah State Office of Education which is operating as an unaccountable 4th branch of government directing federal education programs in Utah. The Obama administration is funding programs through state offices of education, and other avenues, in unprecedented levels. I hope you can help restore your elected power for the sake of parental rights.

I don’t know if you read my op-ed in the Deseret News that talked about ObamaCare architect, Ezekiel Emanuel’s admitted malintent behind healthcare reform. Ezekiel said, “Be prepared to kiss your insurance company goodbye forever.” Common sense tells us that the intent behind federal education reforms is the same. There is a reason why Ezekiel’s brother, former Chicago Superintendent Rahm and his buddy, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are leading school “turn around” reforms. The Federal Government is working to “turn around” schools under Title 1 in order to require that more community services be provided via schools. Because Federal FERPA laws trump HIPPA, this will allow for more, and all kinds, of federal-level data collection on children as schools are turned into community, health and counseling centers. Technology will facilitate most of the reforms that superintendents will be trained in. See: “ConnectED to the Future Convening Brings Future Ready Superintendents at the White House.”

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/11/connected-to-the-future-convening-brings-together-future-ready-superintendents-at-the-white-house/

Here’s the link to the Federal Center For School Turnaround. It states, “The US Department of Education created a Center on School Turnaround and awarded a five-year grant and cooperative agreement to WestEd to administer the new center.

http://centeronschoolturnaround.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Evolution_of_School_Turnaround2.pdf

Here’s the Utah State School Board’s/USOE announcement about joining this federal partnership via the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.

http://utahpubliceducation.org/2011/12/23/utah-school-leaders-participate-in-school-turnaround-initiative/#.VGTijIdSa_0

Here’s WestEd touting Ogden District as their model for the Federal Reforms:

http://www.wested.org/wp-content/files_mf/1379439998Ogden_Case_Study.pdf

New State Superintendent Brad Smith (and I assume he is a great guy) went through this Federal training as Ogden District’s Superintendent. It’s anticipated that all Utah districts will go through training.

This article details the federal “turnaround” training programs for superintendents and principals funded through Obama’s Race to the Top. It states, “Both the transformational and turnaround models of Obama’s school restructuring plan begin with a directive to replace the principal, and in the latter case, at least half the teaching staff as well.” (Note: These are the kinds of reforms that took place in the Ogden school district under then Superintendent Brad Smith before he became Utah’s Superintendent)

The article continues, “And with the other two options—the close/consolidate model, which closes schools and transfers students to higher performing schools, and the restart model, which closes schools and reopens them as charters—principals are also likely to find themselves out of work.”

“With 74 percent of schools eligible for improvement grants opting for the transformational model—which calls for a comprehensive overhaul of instruction (pedagogy tied to Common Core standards), evaluation systems and other school operations in addition to replacing the principal—the need for effective administrators is a pervasive problem, Connelly says. But it’s especially dire in the persistently low-performing schools where pressures and challenges are high and strong leadership is crucial, she adds.”

“… No longer are principals regarded as performers of largely managerial duties. Today’s principals need skills in analyzing data to drive successful instruction(Data isn’t the friend of local control. It’s what controls everything from the federal level).

Because State Superintendent Brad Smith was trained in this federal program, and Ogden was the pilot district, some see it as the sole reason for his decisions to fire teachers and principals in Odgen. The Federal objectives are that superintendents, principals and teachers will eventually be replaced by superintendents from crony corporate/federal reform camps like Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change or Eli Broad’s Broad Academy with Principals from Arne Duncan’s Principal Corp and teachers from groups like Teach for AmericaMicrosoft is one of the main funders of this Federal turnaround program, and they have a vested interested in Common Core standards.

In our most recent conversation, you tended to think that Business/Corporate reforms support the education vision of many on the Utah State School Board. I don’t. I think that Corporate Reforms in our current political climate are Federal/Crony-Capitalist Funded reforms all tied to Common Core standards in order to support data comparability across the country and nations. (See that Pearson is taking over the United Nation’s PISA exams in 2018.) It’s not about improving student achievement. It’s about dismantling locally controlled education and creating an endless stream of taxpayer profits for those in power as their policies (controlled by “the data” from test scores) dictate instruction requirements, hiring requirements, testing requirements, data collection requirements, 1-to-1 technology requirements, etc. The program is Corporate Ed reform just like Arne and Rahm did in Chicago. It’s all about crony capitalists taking over public schools deemed “turn around” schools based on test scores. These crony reforms have decimated the Chicago school system. The designated schools have to implement new instructional models (aligned to Common Core standards) and data based decision training, including reliance on behavioral data.

I want to digress for a minute and reference this quote from the federally-funded Common Core Next Generation Science Standards “Framework” creators—Achieve, Inc.:

“Students will make the greatest strides in learning science and engineering when all components of the system—from professional development for teachers to curricula and assessments to time allocated for these subjects during the school day—are aligned with the vision of the framework.”

Listen to what they reformers are saying! EVERYTHING AT THE LOCAL LEVEL WILL BE CONTROLLED BY THEM! This is the height of arrogance! These federal school turnaround reforms, and their associated reforms to education standards and tests, are about controlling local decision making using test scores as the nail in our coffin. IT’S COMPLETE STANDARDIZATION OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM. The death nail to parental rights! The death nail in individual exceptionalism and personal agency!

Here’s what Ogden Superintendent Brad Smith said about attending the Darden/Curry training:

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/web/Darden-Curry-PLE/UVA-School-Turnaround/Testimonials/

In bullet 6 here, they say the program focuses on behavioral data:

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/web/Darden-Curry-PLE/About/Beliefs/

And, here, liberal education expert Diane Ravitch explains that the school turn around idea came from Arne Duncan’s days in Chicago when he came up with a plan called Renaissance 2010:

http://m.democracynow.org/stories/13673

Ogden Superintendent Brad Smith and his retrained Ogden crew were invited to  Governor Herbert’s office on Aug. 27th (before Smith was hired on as State Superintendent). Smith gave the Governor’s office his blueprint for reform. (Is this why he ended up being selected as State Superintendent?) The book was called “Leverage Leadership.” This book’s blueprint is not a Utah blueprint. It is THE federal Race to the Top/School Turnaround blueprint.

The author of Leverage Leadership is Paul Bambrick-Santoyo. He also wrote “Driven By Data“. He is on the Data-Driven Instruction faculty for New Leaders for New Schools (which is one of the main, federally-funded school turnaround training programs for districts). New Schools were  products of Arne Duncan’s crony-friend, John Schnur who headed Race to the Top. Politico wrote about Arne, Obama and John Schnur’s relationship here. One book reviewer explained the premise of the New School’s school turnaround model like this:

“The author’s main suggestion is that schools create a set of interim assessments that lead up to U.S. state assessments. He suggests that not only these, but also classroom assessments are created to mimic the format of state assessments. Doing this would leave very little room in a school’s assessment plan for contextualized assessments…. The narrow focus on preparation for U.S. state tests, which is the only measure of success mentioned in the book, is actually quite disturbing.”

“Leverage Leadership” describes a system of principals observing and micromanaging teachers and what happens in the classroom. Diane Ravitch exposes the agenda here.

And, Susan Ohanian exposed this about New Leaders for New Schools:

“The promo for the book Driven by Data promises that the book will show the reader “how to create a data culture” and “how to deal with resistance from your teachers.” It is recommended by Jon Schnur, co-founder and chief executive officer, New Leaders for New Schools, and senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He is to Race to the Top what Sandy Kress was to No Child Left Behind. And on 8/4/10, his outfit was rewarded by a payment of $616,474 from the US Department of Education, our tax dollars at work.”

I hope that’s enough information to help stop these reforms in Utah. School turnaround is not about helping disadvantaged children in Title 1 schools. It’s about schools becoming the nanny state. As US Secretary of Education said, “Schools MUST become the center of community life.” With these school turnaround programs, there will be a dramatic shift from families being the fundamental unit of society to schools controlling family education and health decisions. And, it will all be controlled by third-party/federal data.

Welcome to 1984.

Regards,

JaKell

p.s. more information included below for your reference.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Wallace Foundations School Turnaround Field Guide defines turnaround: “Turnaround is a dramatic and comprehensive intervention in a low-performing school that: a) produces significant gains in achievement within two years; and b) readies the school for the longer process of transformation into a high-performance organization.” This definition sounds great yet the devil is in the details. When you look closely at HOW this turnaround will be implemented it doesn’t take long before you realize that with this “intervention” there will be a loss of local control and parental control.

The State Role In School Turnaround is a report produced by WestEd in 2014 outlining the states role in implementing the federal school turnaround program. It states that WestEd “is supported by the Center on School Turnaround through funding from the U.S. Department of Education”.  In the chapter entitled “Leveraging the Bully Pulpit” it reads, “When it comes to school turnaround efforts, chiefs can use the position to catalyze, support, enable, and sustain school turnaround efforts. Given limited resources at their disposal, effectively optimizing the bully pulpit is a key tool in a state chief’s toolbox” (p. 32).

The turnaround program, which is led and funded by the United States Department of Education, will monitor schools to make sure they are in compliance with the School Improvement Grants (SIG). All changes must be submitted and approved by the Department of Ed. The people hired to monitor the schools and districts are called “District Shepherds”. In the case study done for Ogden school district it describes what the district did for its turnaround schools. In 2011/12 school year Ogden superintendent submitted his resignation and Brad Smith was appointed the new superintendent for OSD (page 3). On page 5 of the case study it talks about the “District Shepherd”. Sandy Coroles, OSD’s Executive Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs, became the “District Shepherd”. It was noted by teachers that they “can’t go anywhere else in Utah and receive more professional development.”

The consortium for school turnaround in the southwest United States is called, Southwest Turnaround Leadership Consortium, funded by the Department of Ed as noted in Endnote 1.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Southwest Comprehensive Center was part of a network of regional and content centers providing state education agencies with high-quality, relevant technical assistance. From 2005 to 2012, the SWCC was operated by WestEd. In 2012, the SWCC was replaced by the West Comprehensive Center (WCC), also operated by WestEd.

This Consortium partnered with the University of Virginia to establish this turnaround program in the Southwest and all training takes place at the University of Virginia. Here is a copy of the agreement between Ogden School District and the University of Virginia for turnaround training. In 2014 Menlove sent a memorandum to the State Board in regards to the turnaround program grant.

An Important company to look into further is FSG Social Impact Consultants. From the website: FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change.

This document, The School Turnaround Field Guide, is from FSG Social Impact Consultants. It states, “The size of the U.S. Department of Education’s current investments in education, coupled with the acute need of states and districts for funding, has put the federal government in a strong position to incent policy change and to set expectations for the types of turnaround strategies that states and local education agencies (LEAs) use.” (page 4)

Continued on pg.4-5, it talks about the turnaround in state’s NCLB Waivers:

Turnarounds. Replace the principal, rehire no more than 50 percent of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars, schedules, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach that substantially improves student outcomes.

  • Restarts. Transfer control of, or close and reopen a school under a school operator that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
  • School Closures. Close the school and enroll students in higher-achieving schools within the LEA.
  • Transformations. Replace the principal, take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness, institute comprehensive instructional reforms, increase learning time, create community-oriented schools, and provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

 

Pg. 7 Lists key players – First being the US Education department with funding which can “expand its efforts”. States and Districts play a role as well as Unions. It is being encouraged that Unions view this as a laboratory in which they are more willing to experiment with new types of contracts, new ways of collaboratively partnering with districts, new work rules, and new teacher-evaluation and pay-for-performance approaches” (pg.8).

 

Pg. 27 describes policies other states have put in place to help with the turnaround process. Tennessee passed legislation to create an “Achievement School District” akin to the Recovery School District in Louisiana. Low-performing schools would be removed from their home districts and placed under the state’s authority. Massachusetts’ SB 2247 increases school-level autonomy in failing schools and doubles the number of charter schools in its lowest-performing districts.

These practices are very dangerous and will only succeed in removing local and parental control from local school districts.

Pearson monitors your child’s social media

This is alarming. In Utah we don’t use the federally funded PARCC system for state testing, but some schools and districts do use other tests from Pearson. I wonder how many of those students are being monitored…and their Facebook/Twitter comments stored…

 

pearson monitors social media

Common Core Science at the Door

The below message is from Vincent Newmeyer. If any of you are able to attend the meeting tomorrow, please do so.

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

Common Core is Missing Parts. That is, Common Core is lacking the Science and Social Studies components. It is not that there was any intent for creators of national standards to skip such components, it is that these components have come later in their effort. The National Science component is and has been finished for some time now, and there has been powerful efforts to get it adopted in Utah.

The National Common Core component for Science is called “The Next Generation Science Standards” or NGSS. The State Office of Education has been in the process of advancing these standards for adoption for some time now, beginning with grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. The plan seems to have been to fly it in under the radar. When NGSS was sent to the legislative required “Standards Review Committee” the document was titled “Utah Science and Engineering Education Standards” or “UT SEEd Standards.” At the time these documents reached the review committee, it appears that even the Board of Education members in general, had no idea that these standards were really the NGSS national standards.

The legislative intent for the “Standards Review Committee” was to get input from the community on proposed State School Standards, particularly from Parents, hopefully to avoid some of the backlash that has arisen from situations like the adoption of national Common Core standards.

There has already been one early report on the working of this committee. For some background you may review:

Are you ready to have national science standards in UT? http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/are-you-ready-to-have-national-science-standards-in-ut/

Though there has be minor verbiage added to the NGSS in the effort to move their adoption in Utah, let me assure you that the proposed science standards are the Next Generation Science Standards and are marketed as the compliment to Common Core. The proposed standards match the NGSS in the following:

  • Performance Expectation are word-for-word copies of the NGSS
  • Boundary statements were very, very similar
  • Clarification were very, very similar
  • Uses essentially the same indexing scheme of NGSS for science topics
  • References Common Core Math, and Literacy concepts with the same index numbers and their related topics
  • Cross Cutting Concepts are essentially word-for-word

Reading from the NGSS website http://www.nextgenscience.org/frequently-asked-questions , formulators of these standards state:

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

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

This has apparently been done as there is no substantial deviation in Utah’s SEEd standards draft from the NGSS. To further clarify this issue we can read from the NGSS Trademark and Copyright Guidelines

States … that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright Notice provision of this License.

http://www.nextgenscience.org/trademark-and-copyright-guidelines.

Those who have reviewed the standards when they were first proposed to the State Board of Education have noted that there is no attribution to the NGSS in spite of the essentially word-for-word duplication. So, either there is a legal infringement of copyright, or there is a tacit admission of an effort by individuals in the state office for wholesale adoption of the standards. The effort for wholesale adoption of the standards was denied, or in the least not confessed, even when Sarah Young (the previous state science specialist) and Ricky Scott (the current science specialist and one of the “writers of the proposed Utah science standards”), was questioned about the source of the standards in the standards subcommittee meeting held in the evening of the 5th of February, 2015. Sydnee Dickson, the Deputy State Superintendent, who was also present, did finally admit at one point that the proposed standards did borrow heavily (or words to that effect) from the NGSS. Yet again, we see no documented attribution to that effect….

The subcommittee did vote down the advancement of the standards that night, however it is almost certain that there will be additional efforts to cloak NGSS again in such a way that it will pass the State Board of Education. If such a proposal is again brought, even if there is some attribution to NGSS, we should demand a clearly defined list of what was adopted, what has been changed, and why.

To be ready to meet that challenge, a group has been holding sessions every Tuesday at the State Capitol, educating people on the issues with the standards and the developments in science that are challenging the politicized science like Darwinian Evolution and Global Warming, etc.

There is only one meeting left in the Capitol series. We encourage all who can to come. We also encourage citizens to contact their legislators, School Board Members, the Governor, and the State Attorney General and request their attendance.

DATE: 10th March 2015   •   Time: 12:00pm to 2:00pm   •   Location: “Capitol Board Room” On the East side of the Capitol Rotunda just below the Supreme Court Chambers

Thanks,

Vincent Newmeyer

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

A second announcement from Vincent

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

Science or Doctrine?

 

“The theory of evolution has also deeply influenced our way of thinking about ourselves. … One reason is, of course, that evolution is in contradiction to the literal interpretation of the Bible. Another difficulty is that it seems to diminish human significance. … [T]he new biology ask[s] us to accept the proposition that … we are not fundamentally different from other organisms in either our origins or our place in the natural world.” (Invitation to Biology fifth edition Curtis and Barnes p 11).

I found this statement of faith in the Utah Biology textbook that was used by my son and my oldest daughter in their high school AP biology class. In fact, the first 11 pages were a big setup between the “science of evolution” and traditional religious belief.

As it turns out, it is not uncommon to find this type of statement in Utah’s biology textbooks. True, the above is one of the more blatant statements, however, this type of dogma is in fact found even in the recently proposed update to our current science standards.

Most importantly, this and similar statements which are claimed to be made from “solid science” are actually not supported by the data.

Please join us for a discussion about these issues and learn the evidence to the contrary and why we should reject such dogma passed off as science in our Utah classrooms.

There is only one meeting left in the Capitol series. We encourage all who can to come. We also encourage citizens to contact their legislators, School Board Members, the Governor, and the State Attorney General and request their attendance.

DATE: 10th March 2015 • Time: 12:00pm to 2:00pm • Location: “Capitol Board Room” On the East side of the Capitol Rotunda just below the Supreme Court Chambers
More Information can be found at: ScienceFreedom.org

Thanks,

Vincent Newmeyer

5 Bills that need stopped

Prosperity 2020 sent out a news alert yesterday that they need these 5 bills to pass. If you aren’t aware, P2020 is a national/state corporate effort to implement the federal reforms tied to Common Core in the federal Stimulus Package. Please read our opposition to these bills, and contact your legislators accordingly.

 

  • S.B. 196:  Math Competency Initiative (Senator Ann Millner and Rep. Francis Gibson):

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0196.html

This bill ties math competencies to “college and career ready” standards as a high school graduation requirement, ie; Common Core math, and further embeds Common Core testing in the state.

The rhetoric behind this bill states that these math competencies will prepare students for STEM careers and allow students to receive college credit. But, as has been reported widely, Common Core math does not prepare students for STEM careers. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the National Common Core Validation Committee, did a great write-up in the Wall Street Journal about how Common Core math will NOT create more engineers or scientists. Read that here.

 

CONTACT: Your House Representative (and all House membership) and urge them NOT to further embed Common Core’s fuzzy and weak math in the state of Utah. Emails can be found here: http://le.utah.gov:443/house2/representatives.jsp

 

  • SB. 97: Property Tax Equalization (Senator Aaron Osmond and Rep. Bradley Last):

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0097.html

Retired Utah Appellate Court judge, Norman Jackson said, “This bill reads more like an omnibus set of regulations than a statute. It looks difficult for attorneys, State and County officials and judges to interpret and apply. It may empower the Tax Commission to micro-manage County Commissioners & Auditors, and local School Boards and Administrators.”

Conservative Columnist Stanley Kurtz said this about Tax Equalization schemes tied to Common Core, “Under the guise of what they euphemistically refer to as “regionalism” or “regionalization,” Kruglik and Obama intend to help troubled cities seize control of the suburban tax base, as well as ending local control of education and other services.” The federal end-game is to push local tax monies away from local school districts in order to regionalize education control. This will make it possible to regionalize local governments. Read about regionalization here from the founder of Achieve, Inc. who co-created the Common Core standards.  Also, Bill Gates is going so far as to have Mayors sign “Gates Compacts” so that mayors control the Charter Schools in urban cities which further requires taxation to follow the child into areas where corporate cronies want to see taxpayer money flow. Remember, first, these same cronies bypassed the US Congress to initiate Common Core, now they will bypass local elected school boards and go straight to mayors. This is not how a Representative Republic works, and Utah taxpayers must be watchdogs if we intend to preserve the ability for the American dream to thrive. Isn’t part of the American Dream to buy a bigger house and move to a great school district in the suburbs? That dream dies under tax “equalization” schemes and centralized education planning.

Read where Salt Lake City’s mayor, Ralph Becker met with U.S Secretary of Ed Arne Duncan.

CONTACT: The House Revenue and Taxation Committee and urge them NOT TO PASS this Property Tax Equalization bill out of Committee. Members are:

Rep. Daniel McCay (R), Chair
Rep. Jeremy A. Peterson (R), Vice Chair
Rep. Joel K. Briscoe (D)
Rep. Rich Cunningham (R)
Rep. Gage Froerer (R)
Rep. Brian M. Greene (R)
Rep. Eric K. Hutchings (R)
Rep. Ken Ivory (R)
Rep. Brian S. King (D)
Rep. John Knotwell (R)
Rep. Mike K. McKell (R)
Rep. Douglas V. Sagers (R)
Rep. Jon E. Stanard (R)

Emails for these committee members so that you can send one email:

dmccay@le.utah.gov, jeremyapeterson@le.utah.gov, jbriscoe@le.utah.gov, rcunningham@le.utah.gov, gfroerer@le.utah.gov, bgreene@le.utah.gov, ehutchings@le.utah.gov, kivory@le.utah.gov, briansking@le.utah.govjknotwell@le.utah.gov, mmckell@le.utah.gov, dougsagers@le.utah.gov, jstanard@le.utah.gov,

 

  • HB. 198: Strengthening College and Career Readiness (Rep. Patrice Arent and Senator Stephen Urquhart):

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/HB0198.html

This bill further embeds Common Core into school-level training. Its stated goal is to, “Develop a certificate for school counselors that certifies that a school counselor

is highly skilled at providing college and career counseling” and to train counselors to promote “participation in college and career assessments.” It funds training for school counselors to guide students into “college and career ready” tracks. P2020 says, “This bill provides innovative training that prepares school counselors to guide students in their postsecondary choices.” This 2012 packet from the College Board (which Common Core’s architect now heads) explains how counselors will be refocused on Common Core alignment.

Corporate interests like to tell the education establishment that they will know what jobs will be available, and when, so that students don’t go down an education path where there will be no jobs. THIS IS A MANAGED ECONOMY FOR WORKERS. America was built on the idea that agency breeds entrepreneurialism. C.S. Lewis said this about job training, “Education is essentially for freemen and vocational training for slaves…If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.”

CONTACT: Your Senator (and all Utah Senators) and urge them NOT to further embed Common Core into the state of Utah through school counselor training. Emails can be found here: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

 

  • S.B. 235: School Turnaround and Leadership Development Act (Senator Wayne Niederhauser and Rep. Bradley Last)

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0235.html

The 4th reform in the Federal Stimulus Package, and in states’ Waivers from No Child Left Behind, is “Turning Around the Lowest Performing Schools.”

This reform is tied into tax equalization and regionalization of local governments. Under this bill, if a public district or public charter school are deemed “failing” by test scores, they are federally mandated to be “turned around” or shut down. The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools explained it like this, “Under this process, the charter school can choose from a stable of “turnaround experts” identified by the State Board of Education to assist in changing the school’s “culture, curriculum, assessments, instructional practices, governance, finances, policies, or other areas” (see lines 176-177). This expert will work with the school to develop a plan, specific to that school, designed to increase the school’s grade. When the school and its turnaround expert complete the plan, they must submit it to the State School Board for approval.”

This bill further centralizes education control. So much for school “choice.” See the Federally-funded Center for School Turnaround for more info. Utah’s State Office of Education has a 5-year contract to run district leaders through this federal school turnaround program.

CONTACT: Your Senator (and all Utah Senators) and urge them NOT to support this bill. We do not need to put federal school turnaround mandates into state law. We should be pushing control and accountability back to the local level. Emails can be found here: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

 

  • S.B. 222: Digital Teaching and Learning Program (Senator Howard Stephenson and Rep. Francis Gibson)

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0222.html

This bill sets up what it calls the “master plan” to implement technology into teaching and learning in all of Utah’s schools, and is linked to “improving test score outcomes” which will require more adherence to Common Core assessments. It sets in motion (maybe without the sponsors even knowing it) the Whitehouse’s ConnectEd Initiative to replace textbooks within 5 years. See lines 301 through 338. The ConnectEd Initiative was funded through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Prior to the ConnectEd Initiative, the FCC gave a grant to the Telehealth Network at the University of Utah and that explains why the Utah Education and Telehealth Network is the entity overseeing the implementation of S.B. 222. Telehealth has nothing to do with K-12 education and everything to do with gathering data to turn schools into health and community centers. Education and Health data can be further collected and centralized under this bill. It states that it will comply with Federal FERPA laws. Federal FERPA laws have been gutted by the Obama administration so that education data can be  shared for various purposes unrelated to education. This bill will foster the eventual use of stealth, embedded assessments in learning platforms.

CONTACT: Your Senator (and all Utah Senators) and urge them NOT to support this bill. We do not need to tie digital learning and teaching technology to federally funded healthcare projects. Further, we do not need a comprehensive Utah law that sees poor outcomes on Common Core assessments as a reason to mandate more technology use. Emails can be found here: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

Who should choose school board members? The governor or the people?

Please sign this petition immediately and share this with your friends and neighbors.


Partisan Elections Petition

Utah citizens only

In support of partisan elections

We, the undersigned, support SB 104, Education Elections and Reporting Amendments, which uses partisan elections to vet candidates and allow locally elected delegates to narrow the voting field of candidates who appear on the ballot. Partisan elections are used with great success in all other major elections in Utah and it makes perfect sense to allow the same process to function in large scale elections for school board members. The Salt Lake Tribune editorial of 10-30-2014 stated that there is no reason to come up with a new method of electing school board members. They stated:

"Actually, they don't need to invent a thing. All they have to do use the same system we use to choose other state office holders. The process that is good enough to elect governors, attorneys general and members of the Legislature... People who want to be on the state school board should go through the same process as people who want to serve in the Legislature... It's good enough for legislators. It should be good enough for school board members."

The current system is broken. It guarantees that a single political party comprised of the UEA, USBA, and other educator organizations, dominate the election of the people on school boards.

Other facts

  • Locally elected delegates vet candidates most effectively
  • Increased transparency by highly effective caucus delegates
  • Lower cost to run for office
  • More people engaged in the issues important to education
  • Board members still represent all the people, just like you represent all your constituents
  • Partisan elections are constitutional
  • Party affiliation just lets you know where their core principles stand
  • State GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Utah County GOP Resolution strongly requested the legislature pass partisan elections
  • Not passing SB 104 would be hypocritical since it is the same system used to elect you

I further request that no bill be passed that involves empowering the governor to appoint board members. The 15 state school board members have control of half of the state's budget. Empowering them to be appointed by the governor instead of through the caucus system that has produced the "best managed state" in the union would be folly and give too much power to one individual.


For further information on why partisan elections are the best system for vetting candidates, please see these resources:

Partisan School Board Election Arguments

Partisan School Board Resolution Debate

Responding to charges against partisan school board elections

The arguments against partisan elections – SB 104 S2

HB 5, “Student Success Act” turns federal strings into chains

You thought No Child Left Behind was bad…  Just wait till the feds “fix” the problem they created in the first place. Here comes the 600 page HB 5, the Student Success Act. What a nightmare. The intro to the bill states:

“To support State and local accountability for public education, protect State and local authority, inform parents of the performance of their children’s schools, and for other purposes.”

After you read the information below, you’re going to need to immediately email and call your state representative and urge him/her to oppose this bill. Here are their contact pages (Utah reps only. Other states go here: https://www.congress.gov/contact-us).

Please do this Monday morning. They will most likely be voting on this in the next couple days.

Rob Bishop – http://robbishop.house.gov/contact/zipauth.htm 202-225-0453

Chris Stewart - http://stewart.house.gov/contact/email-me 202-225-9730

Jason Chaffetz – https://chaffetz.house.gov/contact-me/email-me 202-225-7751

Mia Love – https://love.house.gov/contact/email 202-225-3011

The below information is pulled from Christel Swasey’s blog, though several other sources are available online. (Anita Hoge’s first exposing of this, Anita Hoge’s large summary on NewsWithViews, Wendy Hart’s blog)

Here are highlights with pages, sections and direct quotes:

1.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF STATE AUTHORITIES AND RIGHTS

Subpart 4, Section 6561 (page 564 on the pdf) says:

STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE” –How will a state “expressly waive” its authorities and rights?  –Answer from the bill: simply by having a state legislature accept federal money.

A state that acts “inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance” will waive its authority because the legislature of that state would have “expressly approved that [federal] program”.  If a state’s or a parent’s rights conflicted with a requirement, too bad: the federal bill claims authority to enforce obedience from states because the states take the money.

Read: “…nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey… unless the legislature…. approved that program and in so doing, have waived the state’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary...”  So states have no obligation to obey unless they approved federally promoted programs (which the states have done in multiple ways).

As Ann Marie Banfield wrote: “What is going on here? The Secretary of Education can’t enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states’ rights UNLESS the state legislature gives its consent to participate in the ESEA, which encompasses around $25 Billion in aid to states.  Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their states’ rights and those of the parent over their child if they conflict with ANY requirements of the program.”

2.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS

On page 567, Section 6564, we read that “…Other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart,  control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the states and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.”

By tying inalienable parental rights to the receipt of funds and federal “obligations,” the bill just claimed authority to take parental rights away, under conditions it has just defined.

Even in the statement of purpose on page 11, the bill minimizes parents and maximizes itself, by “affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”.

To reduce parents to a recipient of government-granted “opportunities to participate in” the education of a child is de-parenting.  It’s far, far different from Utah’s  legal code, which states in multiple places that: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.”

3.  GOVERNMENT CONTROL IN PRIVATE AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS  –  NEUTRALIZATION OF RELIGION 

Read pages 78-82.  It mandates that private schools:  “ensure that teachers and families of the children participate, on an equitable basis, in services and activities…  SECULAR, NEUTRAL, NONIDEOLOGICAL.—  Such educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.

What’s a private Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baptist, or any other private religious school to do?  –Alter its beliefs to match mandates for altered materials, equipment and services?

This is the price we pay for “school choice”  and “backpack funding,” folks.  It’s not what they make it out to be.  Where federal money goes, federal chokeholds follow.

The federal government has no right to mandate that private schools must give services  that are secular and non-religious.  (See page 79: it includes in its definition of services: one on one counseling, mentoring, educational television, computer technology and more).

 

4.  GOVERNMENT APPOINTED MONITORS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS

An ombudsman, if you haven’t heard the term, is a paid position, a role in which a person investigates and mediates official complaints for a living.  This bill mandates that private schools will be assigned a state-appointed ombudsman to monitor private schools:  “The State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements.”

On page 82 the bill states that the LEA (school district) must consult with private school officials and must transmit results of their “agreement” to a state-appointed ombudsman.  On page 86 the federal bill allows a private school to complain to the government:  “private school official shall have the right to file a complaint with the State educational agency that the local educational agency did not engage in consultation that was meaningful and timely”.  These are private schools.  They  never, ever have had any legal mandate to report to, complain to, speak to, or even think about state or federal governments.  These are private schools; private means not public, not under government mandates.

 

5.  FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF PRIVATE SCHOOL FUNDING AND BENEFITS

On page 535, the bill slashes freedom by mandating equity for private and public schools.  “Benefits provided under this section for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel”.  The government has no right to command a private school to give more benefits, nor to withhold benefits, from private school teachers, staff or children.  The same page states: “Expenditures for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school children, teachers, and other service personnel shall be equal to the expenditures for participating public school children.”  The ombudsman’s job, according to page 80, is to “monitor and enforce” such “equity for private school children”.

SAGE parent reviewer shares concerns

Alean Hunt is a member of the SAGE parent review committee. She is quoted by the USOE as one of the members of this committee that completely supported SAGE. In fact, the USOE uses this statement from her as evidence that none of the parent review committee saw any problems with the SAGE test. She is quoted in this USOE flier as saying, “I didn’t see any real social problems with the test or things that would be controversial. [We] all feel comfortable with the test.”

Of course we know that is inaccurate and that several of the parent review committee members have publicly expressed concerns (link 1, link 2) but that hasn’t stopped the USOE from plowing ahead and using this statement and implying that SAGE is a better mousetrap.

Well, Alean has had a change of heart about the test. This letter from her expresses her concerns.


To whom it may concern:

For the last two years I have served on the SAGE parent review panel.  I have been an outspoken, but concerned proponent of this assessment.  I do support higher standards for our students.  What I cannot and will not support are the following:

1:  High Stakes, End of Level testing being given to students in Feb, like is happening this year. The teachers and scores will be graded on this score, but the year isn’t over.

There are still three months left!

When I called the USOE last Thursday and asked what scores this years end of level writing test would be compared to, this was their response, “We don’t know. We might give the test in February again, or March or maybe October. We haven’t decided yet, it is still up for discussion..”

Okay, so you may or may not compare this years 1/2 taught end of level high stakes test to last years end of level test or to next years end of level test that could be given at 3 very different times on the instructional calendar??? Yes, thanks for clearing that up!

2:  IEP Accommodations are guaranteed by law! The USOE removes some of them during the testing of the SAGE for these students with special needs. And really why shouldn’t they? Just dealing with a disorder that qualifies you for an IEP such as autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, dyslexia, Aspergers, and processing disorders just to name a few are not difficult enough to navigate  every single day! Why on earth would people in charge of doing what is best for the student actually want to do just that and ensure their rights as protected by law?!

IEP’s are followed as written by the experts of those children! The psychologist, the principal, the Special Ed teacher, the Speech teacher, the other team leaders such as occupational therapists and of course, the parents.

Everyone who has ever been involved with an IEP knows we meet frequently to evaluate these accommodations and compare and contrast student performance with them and tweak as necessary to give them the best chance at success they have, what USOE is doing to this process is in direct conflict with this.

3:  I have had several opportunities to have face to face meetings with Glenna Gallow and others from USOE regarding the above mentioned items as well as the following two which are also related to special needs students. Every encounter I have had has left me with a sour taste in my mouth and the distinct feeling that these students do not matter.

First, SAGE scores will immediately appear on the screen at the end of the test with the exception of writing.  Eventually writing will be this way too.

I take issue with this because of privacy, students will look at the computer screens of others. Students will pressure others to tell them their score. Students will feel pressured to tell their score even if they don’t want to. What if a student does poorly, but he did his absolute best work? He sees his poor score and knows he has to do this again for 3 more assessments? How hard will he try?

I have absolutely no problem with administrators & teachers getting the scores immediately and releasing the scores to parents, but I do not see the benefit to the score appearing on the computer screen, visible to students.

When this problem was brought up numerous times to USOE I was told I was the only one who considered it a problem.  When my administrator/principal also expressed her frustration with it,(especially with regards to kids with special needs)she was told by a USOE staff member, “Those students are just going to have to get used to it.”

Second:  SAGE is a computer adaptive test.  This means that if a student answers a question correctly then the next question gets more difficult and vice versa also applies.  However, if the student is taking 4th grade math because of a learning disability, but is in the 5th grade that child will be tested on 5th grade math. The test will not adapt below grade level.  So this high stakes test that will impact school grading, future funding, & potentially merit pay for teachers is testing students on content they have not been taught because they are below grade level.

There is a federal statute that states we have to test kids at grade level, but it was before we had CAT testing and had the ability to actually test these special education students at their actual level.  I believe this could be fixed under our waiver but again, I cannot seem to get anyone at USOE to care to take action towards reforming this very broken system..

4: SAGE was supposed to have enough writing in it that it was figuratively going to replace the

DWA, not LITERALLY!

Alean Hunt

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