Governor Herbert calls on State Board to End CC and SAGE

Jonathan Johnson This morning Jonathan Johnson called on Utah to end SAGE testing. Tonight Governor Herbert called on the state board to get Utah out of Common Core standards and SAGE testing. Dang I love election years!Governor Herbert

With Jonathan Johnson defeating Governor Herbert at the GOP convention 55%-45%, largely influenced by Common Core issues, the Governor no doubt had an awakening. I have never doubted the Governor’s intentions to provide a quality education to Utah children, but I still find this move politically opportunistic to try and salvage his chances of being re-elected. Of course, the Governor can make this call knowing he has no authority to actually carry it out. That belongs to the state board…

Having had several discussions with Jonathan Johnson, I know he is fully committed to principles of local control that I’m not sure the governor is committed to at the same level based on his letter. His letter brings out some positives for sure, but I believe it’s time LEA’s (Local Education Agency) had much greater control over their financing, standards, assessments, data collection and privacy, and the state shrunk back in it’s role interfering with local education (and of course the feds are cut out of the picture completely).

In essence, here is what the Governor said:

-Common Core had a poor implementation (Oak: this is the go-to excuse for all failure programs like Investigations math)

-Naturally, he said there is misinformation on the subject, but added for what I think is the first time, that there are legitimate concerns.

-He asks the state board to change out the standards and keep these three principles in mind:
–Maintain high standards in all subject areas
–Keep the feds out of education decisions
–Preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection, and instructional practices.

-Make the process public (not something that happened the first time)

-There are shortcomings to the one-size-fits-all approach. We need standards that are flexible to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts.

-Eliminate the SAGE mandate for high school (and evaluate the effectiveness of it in other grade levels)

-“I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had over an assignment they did not understand and that teachers struggled to teach.”

End of summary.

No doubt this will be nationwide news that Utah’s Governor who has been one of the biggest proponents of Common Core, now wants out. That’s helpful for the entire movement across the country and for that, I’m grateful.

To download a copy of Governor Herbert’s letter, click here.

To see the near immediate response of the state board (ie. at least some of the knew this was happening and prepared this response), click here.

Dr. Duke Pesta: From Farce to Fiction

Dr. Duke Pesta has given hundreds of presentations around the country on Common Core. Below is a link to one of his very best. It shows the origin of Common Core and those involved with it talking about exactly how it came about and how we won’t know for a decade if it works. To the contrary, we are already seeing evidence that it does not work as math and reading scores are declining nationwide.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/us/math-test-scores-decline-high-school-seniors.html

Dr. Pesta’s video will not allow for embedding so you will have to click this link to watch it.

https://youtu.be/-htDV60CjkA

Michigan just took the best action possible. It dumped Common Core and has adopted the pre-Common Core Massachusetts standards which Fordham said are superior to Common Core.

Time to Admit the Obvious: Common Core Has Failed Spectacularly

The lie that Phil Daro (one of the original drafters of the math standards) declared the creation of Common Core was for social justice to level the playing field, but in reality it is only being played out in that our best and brightest are being held back.  Unfortunately the learning gap between the rich and poor has actually widened under Common Core (as predicted). Here’s a report from Stanford on 200 million student’s scores and what they show. Make no mistake, this is 100% on Common Core even though this article doesn’t mention it. Common Core has been around for six years now with full implementation for at least four.

Local education inequities across U.S. revealed in new Stanford data set

It is unfortunate that when I tried to introduce the elementary math parent review committee to the incredible success California was having with low-socioeconomic students and minorities, increasing their proficiency in algebra one by a 6x factor over 10 years, I was shut down by Diana Suddreth at the USOE. They had no intention of letting Utah switch off Common Core. California’s success didn’t meet the agenda of doing this nationwide experiment on our children.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/solution-utah-should-adopt-californias-math-standards

The Anonymous Attack Site “Get Cored”

You know Common Core is in trouble when it’s defenders put up a website to defend it and then make it anonymous, refuse to identify themselves, and their first post contains not a single positive thing about Common Core but an ad hominem attack on me personally. Hilarious. :)

Evidently I’m some tremendous threat to the establishment since the governor lost at convention to Jonathan Johnson and they know Common Core played a big role in it.

This is the site: https://getcored.wordpress.com/

Check out the banner to their website.

getcoredbanner

For several months now I have felt an odd transformation happening in my soul. Now I finally know what it is. I have finally completed my ascendancy to become myth and legend. Mortals beware… ;)

The authors of the site start off by mocking a presentation I made in Draper a couple years ago called “Pulling Back the Wizard’s Curtain.” Thank you for helping distribute my message of truth to a wider audience. I fully encourage everyone to watch it to see the culture war we are in.

The anonymous author(s) go on to say:

Oak is the leader of a rag-tag group of radical extremists called the “Utahns Against Common Core,” a group hell-bent on fighting the Common Core and its devastating influence on helping children learn math and reading.”

Typical attack. Exaggerate and make stuff up to demonize me.

Here’s another straw man argument which isn’t even a shred true. Make up that I called basic math requirements “evil” and show a few basic requirements like multiply and add numbers, and pretend you’ve discredited me. Pathetic. Particularly after how I fought to get the state to raise its math standards which it finally did in 2007.

“Needless to say I was confused by the sentiments in Oak’s video regarding the “evil” behind these basic math requirements. Wasn’t this addition and subtraction we were talking about? How did we get from an educational standard to a conspiracy to indoctrinate our children with dystopian values?”

In fact, the page is so over-the-top, I just have to repost the last half here. I would ask for permission, but the author(s) have chosen to put up their own wizard’s curtain and make the site anonymous. The majestic defenders of Common Core have arrived! (But they’re too embarrassed to identify themselves)  Now lets look at their facts against the anti-Common Core movement…

“In the corresponding blog post to this video, Oak gives us the answer to that exact question.

pullingbackthewizardscurtain

That’s right folks. It’s not about the standards. It’s about one man’s quest to expose the ancient, unholy agenda of the federal government to destroy God and the family, one multiplication problem at a time.

You may laugh. I know I did. But as I read the comments on his videos and on his website, it became less and less amusing. These people weren’t laughing with me. These people were embracing Oak-soaking up his anti-government rhetoric and lauding him as a crusader. Whole masses of terrified parents were flocking to worship at the altar of Oak and receive his rambling instructions. His message of fear had slowly permeated through an unwitting audience, and without resistance had diffused into the hive consciousness. A following had been born.

This wasn’t the first time I had encountered these individuals, however. I had seen them spew their paranoid gospel on social media, and even spoken to some in person. Each shared common traits such as an inability to reason, and a complete disregard for fact. Each interaction I had with them usually ended in a similar fashion: an angry reaction to the realization that the truth they clung so dearly to was fiction, and that their paradigm was one not fixed in reality. But overall, this seemed like a small and innocuous sector of the general population, and I was just as pleased to discontinue the conversation as they were.

But recently, it was my paradigm that was shattered. Last Saturday at the Republican State Convention, for the first time, I witnessed the true nature and scale of the Cult of Oak. Over 2000 of his disciples filed into the crowded Salt Palace to fulfill their destiny. No longer exiled to fringes, these zealots had covertly infiltrated one of the most crucial political gatherings in the State of Utah and they would not be satisfied until a complete victory had been obtained.

This was no longer the rag-tag band of internet trolls I had largely ignored for so long. These people now had power. And although Oak Norton had seemingly brought his followers to the promised land, they now had found a Savior.

jonathanjohnson

Promising to “get Utah out of the Common CoreJonathon Johnson, this election’s “Libertarian” gubernatorial challenger, pounded his fists on the podium to the deafening adulation of the crowd. Worshipers stood and cheered as he swore to eliminate the evils of higher math and reading standards. As the votes were counted, and the dust settled, it became clear that the madness had reached a tipping point. Fear had won, and what started as one man’s misguided and nonsensical journey to have his way had quickly become a revolution.

And that is why we have decided to fight back. To “pull back the wizard’s curtain” if you will. For too long, this sore has been left to fester in the heart of Utah, and has become infectious; endangering the future of Utah’s schools. To be clear, the education of our children is a non partisan venture; one whose outcomes should not be decided by an elite few who hate public education as much as they do the thought of vaccinating their kids. It’s time to get fringe politics out of our education. It’s time to let math and reading be just that. It’s time to stand up for the Utah Core.”

State Senator Todd Weiler posted this next comment on a Facebook group for GOP state delegates along with a link to the site, making it sound all official and mysterious in an effort to get people to read it. Dang, I hope they do. “Taking on Common Core by seeking to destroy Oak Norton.” Wow, that’s going to overwhelm the public with facts. Coincidentally, Todd shared this anonymous website as breaking news similar to the way he published a document to Facebook from an anonymous source attacking Jonathan Johnson. Some might just call that a pattern of behavior rather than a coincidence.

“Have you seen this? Somebody is taking on the common core conspiracy …” – Todd Weiler

Ha ha ha. Next time try putting bullets in the gun Todd & Co. If that’s the level of attack coming our way, I just have one thing to say.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Someone posted a comment on the article asking who the author was since they are hiding behind their anonymity. The response reveals a lot about the arrogance of these semi-anonymous attackers.

getcored

Wow, and they call *me* off kilter…

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Mary Shumway, wife of former state superintendent Larry Shumway, confronted me at the UACC booth at the GOP convention last week. I address her in the article previous to this one on the blog. In it I show three screenshots of things she posted to a Facebook group. This is the third. Read the bottom half of this post carefully.

Mary Shumway's Post

So Mary is going to work with Tami Pyfer, the governor’s education advisor very closely on some things she can do that others can’t because she is retired.

Who were among the first few followers on the site’s Twitter account? Syd Dickson, acting Superintendent of the State of Utah. Diana Suddreth, director of teaching and learning at USOE. Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the UEA. Laney Benedict, Utah PTA. Kara Sherman, Utah and National PTA. Several at USOE, and others who equally despise me. A few names on the list surprised me though as I had thought they were above such things.

(Updated 5/4/16: I originally put Syd as one of the very first tweets but it was Diana, which to me suggests likely insider participation. Syd was one of the first five to follow the account on Twitter though and emailed me asking for a retraction that she tweeted this out and stated “I didn’t retweet the article as I wasn’t comfortable with it.” I asked her if she was really uncomfortable with it, why would she follow the account on Twitter when that was the only post on the site? Her reply back was: “I unfollowed GetCored. If by following you feel I agreed with the approach, I am sending the wrong message. I was truly just keeping my eyes on what they (?) have to say. Just wanted you to know. ” Tami Pyfer has also now denied any involvement. Diana Suddreth has also now denied any involvement with the site. Here’s Diana’s tweet.)

Diana_Suddreth

Also, Alyson Williams posted this on Facebook which may implicate Ricky Scott at the USOE:

“Here’s what we know about this anonymous blog. The person set up a matching Twitter account just weeks prior. The first real person to tweet about this blog was Utah State Office of education employee Ricky Scott (science coordinator.) There was also another fake Twitter account set up that day “notGovernorHerbert” that also retweeted A post from Ricky Scott as one of its first real person interactions. Pretty unusual coincidence. Most of the first people to follow the “getcored” Twitter feed (exception Senator Todd Weiler) were USOE employees and people in closely related jobs/roles. For example, the first district teacher to follow the feed was a science coordinator (assumed liaison to Ricky) in Alpine. I worked briefly for a social media analytics startup. The good news for privacy is that Twitter protects individual privacy, even that of bullies using fake identities. The bad news for those wishing to remain truly anonymous is that there’s kind of a web built by the connections as a message spreads and it looks like the USOE, or an employee, is at the center of this one. If they’re not creating this slander, they’re actively promoting it…”

So this “anonymous” involvement may go from the Governor’s cabinet, possibly to the State Superintendent, to the USOE, to the UEA, to the PTA… By golly, that looks like a genuine conspiracy!

For the record, I stand by everything I have ever published. Certainly, over 11 years of time and perhaps a thousand posts online, you should be able to find something I’ve posted that you can contradict and try to prove wrong. Some of the things I posted many years ago I might not even believe anymore because I’m always learning and adjusting to new evidence. I feel blessed having a mind capable of change. For example, at one time I wrote that I favored national standards. Then I saw what that picture looked like as Common Core and the agenda behind it was rolled out and I did a 180 on that point. Perhaps next time the opposition will actually attack an issue instead of a person. But then again, that’s hard when the facts are on our side.

Every single thing I post online I use my name on because I don’t ever want to feel like I’m free to hide behind a wall of anonymity and say something inappropriate to another person. There is so much rudeness in online forums, particularly the newspaper websites. Fake names promote bullying and aggression. I think the fact that their site hides behind a “wizard’s curtain,” while criticizing a talk I gave of that title, speaks volumes about the character of the people behind the website. They must feel pretty threatened from the number of parents who have woken up to the agenda playing out before us.

If the authors of the site actually want to engage in debate they should list some facts and have the discussion. Unlike their website, I allow opposing voices to have their say on this site so we can discuss things. And they do post! And we have discussions! So far these anonymous defenders of Common Core have blocked numerous posts that they are embarrassed about. I would be too if I’d published an article like that and claimed I was defending something by attacking someone. I’d probably lose the respect of everyone that follows this blog. The things I post online are factual, sourced, and not mocking of others. If you want to criticize me, there’s certainly plenty of content they can choose from. My most recent post on Governor Herbert’s involvement with Common Core lists several things they could start with.

Since I know how much these people hate when I involve something religious in my posts, I guess I’ll just close by quoting an LDS Apostle most of them are probably familiar with..

Don’t Wear Masks. Act in Accordance with Your Beliefs – by Quentin L. Cook

“It is common today to hide one’s identity when writing hateful, vitriolic, bigoted communications anonymously online.

Any use of the Internet to bully, destroy a reputation, or place a person in a bad light is reprehensible. What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct, which is so destructive of civil discourse. It also violates the basic principles the Savior taught.”

https://www.lds.org/youth/article/dont-wear-masks?lang=eng

Amen Elder Cook. Amen.


OK, I didn’t know if I would post this or not at first, but I think in light of what’s going on, I will. Consider this bonus material…

The Sunday before the state GOP convention, Jonathan Johnson’s campaign emailed out an endorsement I gave of the Johnson campaign which included several bullet points from the Herbert article on this website. It was totally fact based with links to source documents.

A couple hours later, still on Sunday, Brian Maxwell, a former campaign director for Governor Herbert, sent out this email to state delegates.

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Please stop emailing delegates like myself on Sunday. Additionally, spreading such nonsense on the Sabbath is doubly frustrating. I felt compelled to take some time from my family to respond to this email. That’s something I would rather not do again.

In the future, try using a more reliable source than Oak Norton. Mr. Norton has been on a multi-year batlle to prove that BYU has been promoting a “socialist crusade” in the Alpine School District.

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/education/parents-accuse-byu-alpine-district-of-socialist-conspiracy/article_7bccc151-cb34-5dd2-ae52-fab607b81b17.html

Candidates for Governor really ought to have more sense than providing a platform for such nonsense. Look through Mr. Orton’s blog here in you don’t believe me.

http://www.utahsrepublic.org/byu-ed-dept-endorses-korihor-again/

Jonathan, you need to be better than that. I think I speak for the other members of my precinct when I say that we don’t want our governor wearing a tin-foil hat, or giving an enlarged voice for those who do find them fashionable. As delegates, we deserve an better. An apology is in order.

For those interested in the Utah Core curriculum and the historical background, the State School Board has addressed this extensively. See that information here.

Respectfully,

Brian Maxwell

State Delegate

Brian received quite a number of emails calling him a hypocrite, self-righteous, etc…, pointing out that nobody forced him to check his email on the Sabbath, or take time away from his family, and how ironic it was that he would send his email to delegates on the Sabbath as well, disrupting their day. :)

I waited a few days and then sent out this reply to delegates.

Dear Delegates,

Sunday you saw what happens when a Herbert supporter can’t defend the governor against the facts and instead tries to discredit the messenger. I encourage you all to read this article and decide for yourself whether it has any merit and see why Brian Maxwell and the Herbert campaign are so upset. The article links to official government documents and shares the statements of government and other officials which don’t quite paint the picture of local control of education that the Governor has been espousing. It’s hard to discredit source documents. :)

www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/Herbert

You’ve also probably received a letter or two from the Governor on how he “will not stop fighting against the federal government trying to intervene in Utah classrooms.” At least he admits it’s happening now. Unfortunately, the above article shows his record on this doesn’t match his campaign slogans. Here’s a rebuttal to his full letter by Alyson Williams, point by point, if you’re interested.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/fact-check-governor-herberts-letter-delegates/

I also strongly encourage you all to read the links Brian Maxwell sent out about my efforts (with others) to get BYU’s Education Department and Alpine School District to drop a 25 year association with John Goodlad. Thank you Brian for pointing this out to everyone. Everyone should be aware of what’s happening in our schools. You should take great interest in what your children’s teachers teach them.

What Brian didn’t send out was this link which shows WHY we were battling John Goodlad. BYU was lending their good name to this man’s education network, even hosting his conference one year and sending speakers to his conference on a regular basis. What is the Goodlad agenda? He was pushing to get teachers to use school rooms to create activism toward social justice and the gay agenda. You can see a screenshot of his website advertising this on this post which Brian inadvertently failed to send out (because that might have subverted his intention to dismiss me).

http://www.utahsrepublic.org/utah-taxpayers-fund-global-education-agenda/

FYI, as a result of our efforts, BYU’s Education Department DID DROP the association. Mission accomplished.

If you have never seen what social justice curriculum looks like, check out this elementary reading and writing curriculum video I posted two years ago with Jared Carman. It’s eye opening what some children are being exposed to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSHoxWaVeto

Sincerely,

Oak Norton

Responding to Mary Shumway’s Concerns

At last Saturday’s state GOP convention, we saw Jonathan Johnson beat out Governor Herbert, 55-45 among delegates. Not enough to hit the 60% threshold and prevent a primary election, but then again the Governor collected signatures to be on the primary ballot regardless of the outcome of the convention/caucus system. These nearly 4,000 individuals from around the state spent many hours over a course of a few weeks vetting these and other candidates to understand their policies and records. In my estimation, there were three main reasons that delegates chose to #HireJJ.

  1. Common Core. Governor Herbert’s campaign literature claimed he opposed Common Core, which is an outrageous claim disproven on this page.
  2. Governor Herbert made claims about cutting taxes 34 times which amounted to $200 million for taxpayers. What he neglected to mention was the 15 tax increases he signed which increased taxes by $800 million, and two weeks before the convention he refused to take a “no new taxes” pledge during his debate with Jonathan Johnson.
  3. Governor Herbert signed SB 54 into law, effectively seeking to overthrow the caucus system.

Well, plus the governor has 26 years in politics as a career politician. That’s long enough for anyone to lose touch…

While working the UACC booth during the convention, I was approached by a lady who began to challenge some of the things we were stating about the Governor’s involvement in Common Core. She soon identified herself as Mary Shumway, the wife of former state superintendent Larry Shumway, and as she says below, a former USOE employee. When she was done arguing a few points, she said she had my email address and would send me some information to enlighten me about where we are wrong.

A couple days after the convention ended, someone sent me a few screenshots from a Facebook group where Mary had posted these comments.

Mary Shumway's Post Mary Shumway's Post Mary Shumway's Post

I would like to help Mary with her efforts on fact checking as well as offer this advice.

PTA is a great avenue for you to push this message, particularly since Bill Gates gave national PTA a million dollars to push Common Core around the country. Pocket change in exchange for the blind support of their organization. Actually, national PTA’s support for big government solutions isn’t blind, it’s fully complicit.

For Mary’s benefit, I have now checked with Jonathan Johnson and his campaign manager. Neither one of them have ever heard of Larry or Mary Shumway so they are completely baffled how their “machine” is attacking them. I can’t speak for Mary and what she claims to have heard, but it doesn’t appear to be coming from #HireJJ’s campaign.

Mary also said people are saying she can’t be trusted, they lie, and not to talk to them. At the convention Mary seemed to blame me for this, not Jonathan Johnson’s campaign. She said there are people at her church that don’t talk to her.

If any of the readers of this article have been less than kind to someone who believes with all their heart that Common Core is the silver bullet Utah needs, just stop. You can point out facts and disagree, but we don’t have to be mean-spirited about it. Leave that for the the other side who despises that we are growing.

So lets get started on some facts…

On Saturday, Mary appeared highly offended that we had published a flier showing four documents where Governor Herbert signed us onto the federal reforms we call Common Core.  Her main point seemed to be that the documents he signed didn’t actually obligate us, because we didn’t actually receive Race to the Top money. When I asked if we had implemented each point of the agenda, she agreed that we did fully implement Common Core, the assessments, the data collection, redistribution of teachers, turnaround experts, etc…  The point is that we jumped into the Common Core because of the chance that Utah might receive some of the millions of dollars the Race to the Top promised.  After Utah realized it hadn’t won that money, it could have pulled out of Common Core, but it did not.  If you listen to the State School Board Audio minutes, there was literally joking going on that this was really a “race to the money”.  Federal money, not proven education reform, was the motivation from day one, regardless of whether Utah got financially rewarded for joining Common Core.

Touchdown for the feds getting states to spend billions of dollars to implement something they weren’t “obligated” to do. How many normal people would purchase a truck at a car dealership if the salesman said, “hey, if you buy this truck right now, you’ll be entered into a drawing to get it for free!“? That is essentially what Utah did.

Utah did get $9.6 million from the feds to set up the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Database System, known as P20W) through the 2009 State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) application . Then, on Utah’s Race to the Top documents, we kept filing “assurances” with the feds that we were fully implementing Common Core (standards, assessments, interoperable database, redistribution of teachers, turnaround experts, etc…). It was a great way for them to keep us advancing the agenda without having received any money. Even our ESEA waiver continued the pattern. How much money has the federal government given Utah through ARRA, and other fiscal stimulus packages? $741 million per Arne Duncan’s announcement in 2010, including money tied to the SFSF where we made assurances to the feds.

Another of Mary’s major points was that Utah had full control over the standards and that we made changes to them when we adopted them. I told her this was false when we adopted Common Core and that we had submitted documents to the federal government acknowledging that we would adopt the standards “as written.” She told me that was absolutely wrong.

For those interested in the facts, here’s what Utah included on page 87 of our application to join the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia) which shows the August 10, 2010 State School Board meeting minutes and contains this paragraph. That was the school board meeting when we finalized adoption of Common Core. Looks to me like we adopted the standards “as written.”

esea1

Pg. 91 from the same application:

esea2

Further, when Governor Herbert was telling everyone we didn’t have Common Core, we had Utah Core, I confirmed with Superintendent Menlove that in fact we did have Common Core for math and ELA.

Mary stated that we made changes to the standards when we adopted them, but that is incorrect. The board was correct above in stating we were adopting them “as written.”

If you click the link to the Menlove article and go down to the comments, you will find one from Randall Lund that states he wanted to compare Common Core and the Utah core standards for ELA and math to know for himself if they were identical. He did a line by line comparison and he stated:

1. The standards in the two documents are exactly word for word identical, right down to the footnotes. Nothing was added, deleted, or modified.

There is more to Randall’s comment there if you wish to read it.

This only makes sense. It was well known nationally that to participate in SBAC a state had to be on the Common Core standards “as written,” otherwise how could a common assessment be created for all the states in the consortium? When we succeeded in getting Utah out of SBAC, I got an email from Ze’ev Wurman, former Bush education advisor, where he stated:

“Congratulations to Utah!!! The first domino to fall from the Common Core bandwagon! Not only will Utah be able to offer extra 15%, but it can shift content across grades. It can even — perish the thought — offer authentic algebra in eighth grade!”

At this point it was possible for Utah to make changes to the standards and recently the state has modified some number of standards, but not when we adopted them.

Too bad Utah doesn’t offer authentic algebra in eighth grade by default. Under our current “integrated method” of Common Core adoption, most kids don’t complete algebra till 9th grade, while California children were having massive success getting students proficient in algebra by 8th grade. So naturally like any government bureaucracy, CA switched to Common Core from something that was working well in an effort to try and get Race to the Top funds…

I would invite Mary and others to watch this excellent presentation by Dr. Duke Pesta. It will help dispel the notion that Common Core was state led. He plays actual video segments of David Coleman talking about the creation of Common Core, how Bill Gates funded it and said we won’t know for a decade if Common Core even works and how aligning the standards and assessments mean curriculum will also align bringing the whole system into convergence. Stop taking my word for it and listen to the creators say it themselves.

Dr. Duke Pesta - Common Core from Farce to Fiction

Oh, also check out this Washington Post article by Lindsey Layton on the Gates/Coleman/Wilhoit collaboration to create Common Core. It’s got lots of facts as well.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

Fact Check on Governor Herbert’s Letter to Delegates

Ed. Note: Those who are serving as state delegates have received no less than five communications in the past week from Governor Herbert related to Common Core where he asserts that he is opposed to Common Core. Anyone who believes this is either unaware of the past six years of history or willfully closing their eyes and sticking their head in the ground. Just today I received a robocall from the Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox, in which he states Governor Herbert has “fought against federal control of education including Common Core.” What respect I had for the Lt. Governor has been dramatically reduced.  What follows below is a rebuttal by Alyson Williams of the letter delegates received from Governor Herbert.

Don’t miss the other article exposing how involved Governor Herbert has been in promoting Common Core.


In a letter to State delegates dated April 7, 2016, Governor Herbert listed seven points, concluding with a personal note, to clarify his position on Common Core in Utah. A fact check against other sources follows each excerpted point below:

1) I have called for the elimination of the federal Department of Education.

TRUE (but don’t miss the fine print): While the topic didn’t come up in his remarks to Congress, he did say there should not be a federal Department of Education on his Facebook page: 

Governor Herbert NCLB

Now for the fine print, here are his remarks to Congress: http://blog.governor.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Written-Testimony-of-Governor-Gary-Herbert-UT-Sen-HELP-02-23-16-FINAL-1.pdf

In short, the Governor outlines how instead of the Federal Department of Education controlling nationwide policies for education, Governors should collude to set nationwide policy for education. Calling for the elimination of the Department of Ed while advocating for an extragovernmental process to accomplish a different centralization of power is not a principle of constitutional federalism. It is a Constitution work around.

2) I signed into law SB287 – a bill that makes it illegal for the federal government to have any control.

FALSE: No law in our state makes it “illegal” for the federal government to have “any control.” 2012 SB287 (http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/static/SB0287.html) began as a list of conditions under which Utah “shall exit” any federal education agreement. However, by the time it reached the Governor’s pen, it said, “may exit.” The degree to which Utah avoids federal parameters over local education policy is dependent on the people we elect to various positions of authority and whether they will take action not because they “shall” but because they “may” do so.  Governor Herbert has taken great pains to emphasize Utah’s legal authority to take an alternative path to Common Core and yet he has not advocated doing it. As the chair of the National Governor’s Association, a key stakeholder in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, he accepted a nationally prominent role in promoting these reforms.

3) I called for Attorney General Sean Reyes to conduct an exhaustive investigation to determine whether or not the state of Utah had ceded authority over our education system to the federal government on Common Core or any other standards. He concluded that Utah has not. We control our standards, our curriculum, our textbooks and our testing.

FALSE: Herbert did ask AG Sean Reyes to conduct an investigation but within carefully selected parameters, not an “exhaustive” one. The report provided legal justification for whether Utah could join or exit Common Core while avoiding a conversation Utahans can’t seem to have with this Governor about whether Utah should have joined or would exit Common Core.

As far as ceding authority to the federal government, the AG report acknowledges “the USDOE, by imposing those waiver conditions, has infringed upon state and local authority over public education. States have consented to the infringement, through federal coercion…”

A full response to this report by a Utah teacher can be found here: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/responding-to-the-attorney-generals-report-on-common-core/

Download the AG report here: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/files/attorney-general-legal-analysis-100714.pdf

4) I commissioned Utah Valley University President Matt Holland and a group of experts to review our education standards. With over 7,000 public comments, this committee recommended improvements to standards and the state board has implemented many of these proposed changes.

UNDISCLOSED BIAS:  Throughout his campaign, Governor Herbert has referred to his Common Core review commission using only Matt Holland’s recognizable name, leaving out that the original chair, Rich Kendell (eventual co-chair with Holland), was an advisor for Prosperity 2020 and Education First. Prosperity 2020 Chair Allan Hall was also on the commission as was Rob Brems, a member of the Utah Data Alliance Executive Board. (Common standards are an invaluable asset for data collection.) All are highly qualified people, who, it must be noted, publicly favored these reforms before this commission was assembled.  There was just one k12 teacher on the commission, from a private school, and she did not concur with the report but her reasons for dissent are not specifically listed. 

In another example of this one-sided approach, the report references two experts who came to Utah to testify about the quality of the Standards but does not disclose their previous connection to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Timothy Shanahan from the University of Chicago was on the writing committee for the standards, and David Pearson from UC Berkeley was on the Common Core Standards validation committee. Both have published works and give seminars to help teachers implement Common Core around the country.  The concerns of the dissenting members of the Common Core validation committee who have also submitted testimony in Utah were never mentioned.

LIMITATIONS ON PUBLIC COMMENT: Public comment was limited to making suggestions standard by standard and not on the overall scope and sequence of the framework, or on things that are absent from the standards.

NO MEANINGFUL REVISIONS: As far as proposed changes coming from the report, there is a list of changes to the standards, but they are all corrections of typographical errors or clarifications of the wording.  (p. 33) Other less specific recommendations are scattered throughout, but are seemingly limited to organizational considerations like better cross-referencing between the standards and supporting materials with no substantive revisions.

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of the report is this statement that is repeated several times regarding the natural limitation to making meaningful changes to standards that are intended, as a priority, to be common across the U.S.:

“The Utah Core Standards can be revised and improved over time in accordance with Utah students’ needs and based on sound research, while staying similar enough to other states to assist transferability at grade level.”

RISKS FOR REMEDIATION UNCHANGED: Another conclusion of note was whether Common Core would reduce college remediation (starts pg 27): “Students who master Secondary Math I, II, and III standards will be very well prepared for postsecondary education and training programs.” In other words, in this report that ironically emphasizes the need to teach more “critical thinking,” we see an example of circular reasoning: students who master the content (or, who do not need remediation) will not need remediation… just like students who mastered content in previous math programs in Utah.

UNKNOWN OUTCOMES: This is immediately followed by the observation that we won’t truly know how college readiness will be impacted until we see how the kids who have been through Common Core get to college – underlining one of the biggest concerns of parents, that this is a statewide (nationwide) experiment on a scale that will reduce alternatives and inhibit the innovation driven by competing ideas. This experiment will affect an entire generation of Utah students but we can only hypothesize about the outcome: “Research on students who complete all of the grade levels of the mathematics standards will be required to verify that the standards (and their effective implementation) make a difference.” (p.28)

A link to the report: http://www.utah.gov/governor/docs/utahcorestandards/Standards_Review_Panel_Report_to_the_Governor.FINAL.2.5.15.pdf

5) I, and others, successfully lobbied Congress to repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and return education authority to the states. This policy change was heralded by the Wall Street Journal as the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”

FALSE: ESSA didn’t repeal “No Child Left Behind,” it reauthorized it. NCLB is just a nickname for one of the previous reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that has been due for reauthorization since 2007. This reauthorization was dubbed the “Every Student Succeeds Act.” It was revised to eliminate one of the most unpopular aspects of NCLB, the penalties for not meeting targets for AYP, but put nearly everything that had been pushed in the federal grants and waivers under Obama’s Department of Education into federal statute. Obama’s Secretary of Education said everything his administration had “promoted and proposed forever” is embedded in ESSA: http://truthinamericaneducation.com/elementary-and-secondary-education-act/arne-duncan-essa-embodies-the-core-of-our-agenda/

Here’s a letter sent to Utah’s Congressional delegation from a group of local parents highlighting a few of their concerns with ESSA: https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/letter-to-congress-and-compiled-notes-from-alyson-williams-and-50-citizen-readers-on-esea-every-student-succeeds-act/

Every member of Utah’s Congressional delegation, with the exception of Senator Hatch, voted against ESSA.

6) Assessing the progress of our students is important, but we want to maximize the time they spend learning, not the time they spend taking tests. This session, I worked with the Legislature and signed two bills into law that reduce high-stakes testing in our schools (SAGE testing).

TRUE-ish: Governor Herbert did sign the bill removing the high stakes for SAGE assessments from teacher evaluations and another bill that makes the SAGE test optional for 11th graders (who would likely be taking a different standardized test for college application purposes.) It is not clear how either of those reduce testing unless, in the first case, it is assumed that teachers will require less test practice if their evaluation isn’t directly impacted. In the second case, it’s likely just making room for a different high-stakes test.

7) Every budgetary proposal and policy decision I make is to give more authority and discretion to local school districts and local schools. I have continually advocated for increases to funding that gets to the classroom and can be tailored for local needs.

FALSE: Not every policy proposal. Much of the Governor’s Excellence in Education plan dating back to 2010 and the associated calls for additional funding have been in the context of his Education 2020 plan to expand state educational policy to include early childhood education (preschool, all day kindergarten), workforce alignment initiatives, data collection, and school and teacher accountability which is money for bureaucracy and additional programs, not an increase for the average classroom. He did call for additional $ to go into the WPU in his 2017 budget.

On a personal note, I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I’ve seen the frustration they and their parents have had over math assignments they didn’t understand and teachers struggled to teach. I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the flawed implementation of new standards, especially in math…

NOTE: It seems too common that when a top-down program fails it is blamed on the “implementation.” This is a key reason for true local control and for programs to be initiated at the level where the expertise, resources and student needs are best understood. Teachers should not be scapegoats for programs chosen by politicians.

 

 

Governor Herbert’s Outrageous Claim

Governor Herbert's Outrageous ClaimIt’s an election year and I think that’s about all the explanation we need to understand a recent political flier from Governor Herbert. The Governor has to be a little worried about his political race this year. His challenger strongly opposes Common Core and its associated agenda, and Governor Herbert has been one of the strongest advocates for Common Core in the country. It therefore takes special nerve to put out a large color mailer where the very first claim on it is:

Gov Herbert common core

Lets look at some of Governor Herbert’s past love affair with Common Core.

1) In November 2010, Governor Herbert published an article entitled “Governor’s Education Excellence Commission to Consider Action Items for Strategic Plan.” In this document he stated “Our next step is to put the meat on the bones of our plan and outline the clear steps that will allow us to reach our goal.”  Items three and four of his eight point plan was:

“3) Implementing the Common Core Standards.

4. Expanding computer-adaptive, formative assessments based on the Common Core and implementing college- and career- ready assessments such as the ACT cadre of tests.”

2) In February 2014, Governor Herbert was asked by The Blaze about Common Core and stated:

“Common Core was designed initially by the states,” Herbert told TheBlaze. “It’s really just a common goal. It predates my time. Governors were upset about the progress of education. We’re falling behind. So states simply said, ‘Why don’t we have a common goal on language arts and math, and whoever you are in this country, when it comes to getting a high school diploma, you have some kind of minimal proficiency?’ That aspect of it was good.”

“We certainly don’t want to have the government overreaching and dictating to the states, certainly not to Utah, about our methodology, how we’re going to do it, what our textbooks are, what our testing is going to be,” Herbert said.

“In fact in Utah, we’ve passed a law to say that can’t happen. We have a law that says if any of this federal overreach somehow gets into our system, we are mandated to get out of it. I think our education, our state school board, our education leaders, we’ve always controlled our own curriculum, we’ve always controlled our own textbooks and testing. We’ll continue to do that in Utah.”

Once you became governor, it was YOUR pen that sealed the deal by signing us onto the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium which agreed to fully implement Common Core and other federal education agenda items. YOUR signature Governor that “[certified] that as a Governing State [we are] fully committed to the application and will support its implementation.”

Gov_Herbert_signs_RTTT_assurances

Then in 2011, YOU signed the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application which obligated Utah’s support for four major federal reforms. This is the heart of Common Core. It’s never been just about standards although you and the state office of education have tried to make it that. It’s a much wider net.

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application

The four reforms you signed us onto in this document include redistribution of teachers, setting up massive database tracking on students, adopting Common Core standards and assessments, and putting “turnaround” experts in schools so in time, every school will be reshaped by “experts” instead of teachers and parents.

Governor Herbert also signed the Race to the Top Application Assurances for both phase 1 and 2, promising to implement the four federal reforms listed above. Phase 2 was just to tweak our application and increase our chances at getting money from this federal lottery. RTTT phase 1 RTTT phase 2

Frankly, I’m surprised anyone believes Common Core was state led anymore. Except for the constant parroting of that lie by the education establishment and those who fail to actually do their homework, Common Core would have died already.

Here’s just a couple of pieces of the pie.  David Coleman was one of the chief architects of Common Core itself. In 2008, he helped convince Bill Gates to bankroll this effort, and then began the major effort to convince the governors that they should sign on. Listen to David say it himself, and how Common Core was created by a few people in a room on a napkin.

Our own Utah State Office of Education didn’t even know who was on the drafting committee of the original standards when they were being drafted back in 2009-10!

The standards weren’t state-led, they were Gates-led. Bill Gates’ Foundation gave tens of millions of dollars to the NGA and CCSSO to get them to come together on common standards and then a secretive committee wrote the standards. Why was Bill interested in this? He’s openly stated it. Big business opportunities exist when you standardize. It was never about standards. It always included assessments, and yes, curriculum would be forthcoming as Bill Gates stated in 2009, otherwise we would never know if the standards would work.

Then this would unleash huge market forces (translation: big players like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, would demolish and put the small players out of business leaving them to rake in billions of dollars as those with monopoly power always do). Watch Bill state it himself back in 2009. Local control of curriculum? Not so much when the now small group of publishers align their texts to the standards and assessments (and now the college entrance exams, CLEP, AP, and GED).

Finally, even the feds have now admitted they coerced the states into adoption.

3) On April 6, 2014, Governor Herbert appeared on Red Meat Radio and made this statement:

“Now I recognize that there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there, and some of that’s in part because people think we’re involved in the Common Core, and the difference between that and the Utah core, and we think there’s some kind of a federal overreach here, and that’s an exaggeration.”

So in a classic move under pressure, the Governor sought to play a name game. Lets not call it Common Core anymore because that’s a hot potato that the state superintendent already admitted included federal pressure… Lets call it Utah Core and pretend they’re different.

Just a few months earlier in February 2014, I had an email exchange with State Superintendent Martell Menlove. This was his response to this name game. (underlining mine)

Mr. Norton,

The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.

Thanks for seeking this clarification.

As noted previously, I continue to be willing to meet with you at your convenience to hear your concerns.

Sincerely,

Martell Menlove

Utah adopted the national Common Core standards two days after they were made public, exactly as written.

4) Now to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which Governor Herbert crows about how wonderful it is for releasing us from the restrictive No Child Left Behind. This is the bill that Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:

“I’m stunned. at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it…

…if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e.,Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

He also said:

“We were intentionally quiet on the bill — they asked us specifically not to praise it — and to let it get through,” he explained. “And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact…. Our goal was to get this bill passed — intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill…. We were very strategically quiet on good stuff.”…

So Arne Duncan and the Obama administration got everything they ever wanted, by staying quiet as Republicans played themselves into their hands. Deft Arne. This should actually be of great concern to people since Arne also wants to “phase out the authority of the states,” in dealing with the disadvantaged, and is a big fan of increasing the length of the school day and week.

In fact, after ESSA passed, the Whitehouse released a document stating: “Not only does ESSA cement progress already made, it embraces much of the vision the Administration has outlined for education policy since 2009.”

ESSA’s text was released just a couple days before the vote, naturally. You wouldn’t want people reading something that size before voting on it. After a massive effort by Alyson Williams and a few dozen parents to dissect it in a day, they got that information to our congressional delegation and all four House members and Senator Mike Lee voted against this bill. Yet Governor Herbert said this about ESSA:

“This is a significant step in the right direction in our work to ensure state control of education policy. This bill reinforces that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It is a clear example of cooperative federalism, which is a core tenant of this association. It emphasizes that states and localities have the freedom to provide students the world-class education they deserve.”

So what is this significant step in the right direction the governor sees?

Click on this link to go to a text comparison of some federal requirements under NCLB and ESSA. They are essentially the same.

We got rid of Annual Yearly Progress under NCLB, but what else happened? The federal secretary of education now has the ability to VETO our state education plans (The [federal] secretary shall ‘‘(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan”). Testing actually increases under ESSA.

We also got these very troubling additions in ESSA.

Private Schools

(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)

What? Private schools now get government monitors?!?! Yes.

Family plans

ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.”(pg. 69) The Federal Department of HHS and Education have put together a draft implementation document to show how they recommend this be implemented. Here’s one blogger’s analysis of this plan and below are quotes.

“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” (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)”

What? Family engagement plans with parenting interventions?!?! Yes!
The state is an active participant in a new school-parent compact?!?! Yes!
PRENATAL development tracking through career attainment?!?!?! Yes!
Reducing parents from primarily responsible for their children’s education to a stakeholder in partnership with the state and educators?!?!?!?! Yes!

Governor, which part of this is that “significant step in the right direction” you mentioned above?

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, and the other politicians asleep at the wheel who don’t read bills before you pass or evangelize them. Wait… or DID you actually read it??? Maybe you have so fully embraced federal education policies that you value these new interventions???

5) I can’t leave this article without correcting something else. As I’ve been at some of the meet the candidate events, the Governor and his crew are still touting how the state attorney general issued a report on Common Core that says implementation didn’t cede state authority. For a more complete analysis of that report, read Christel Swasey’s write up here.

Three things came out of this report which the Governor and staff fail to ever bring up. The report states that:

  1. Utah’s math and ELA core, were in fact Common Core, something the Governor kept denying. (see point 3 above)
  2. The US Dept. of Education (by imposing waiver conditions and pushing states to adopt federally approved standards) “has infringed upon local and state authority over public education” and that Utah and other states “consented to this infringement through federal coercion.” (emphasis mine)
  3. The report correctly said that “Utah has the legal ability to repeal” Common Core.

Mr. Governor, may I bring your attention to point 2 again?

As for point 3, the governor is exactly right that we didn’t cede state authority. We just don’t exercise the necessary leadership to get us out of this mess because Governor Herbert is the current president of the National Governor’s Association (NGA) which created Common Core with Bill Gate’s money and withdrawing could prove embarrassing and start a bigger chain reaction among states. Governor, you also promised that math and ELA would be the only Common Core subjects Utah would adopt, but now we’ve adopted the Common Core science standards as well.

I encourage you all to read Christel’s full write-up because there are several things the report got wrong. Also realize that it was the Governor’s office that chose the questions the Attorney General was to answer. There are a host of other questions we wanted to have addressed that weren’t.

6) I just received Governor Herbert’s “Open Letter” on Common Core so I have to add a comment about one of the Governor’s claims here. He says:

“I signed into law SB 287 – a bill that makes it illegal for the federal government to have any control.”

No it doesn’t. No law in our state makes it “illegal” for the federal government to have “any control.” They get all the control we cede to them, and we most certainly have. They dictate flexibility requirements, and as noted above there are numerous controls they possess including veto power over our education plans.

Governor Herbert, at Senator Dayton’s request, I drafted that bill (2012 SB 287) you’re referring to. It was to be our *get out of jail free card,* and it’s largely worthless as you signed it. It doesn’t do what you’re suggesting. Oh it sort of did when I drafted it, where I listed off a bunch of triggers that said if any of these things happen, Utah “shall exit” that federal agreement. Unfortunately by the time it reached your pen, it said, “may exit.” Toothless and spineless thanks to interference from some who were nervous we might actually stand up to the federal government. If it did what you actually suggest, why haven’t you utilized it and showed the feds you mean business since some of those triggers have been pulled?

7) Someone just reminded me about this one. In 2013, 65.5% of state delegates voted for a resolution calling on the Governor, legislature, and state board to get us out of the Common Core agenda. The Governor has just ignored this completely.

In conclusion, any talk of the Common Core standards being “just standards” or “state-led” is an abominable lie. These standards were masterminded by a small secretive group with an agenda. For more information on that agenda, Please read the following articles.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-common-core-lie/

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/feds-will-control-curriculum-competency-and-credentialing/

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/agenda/

This article constitutes an attempt to set the record straight. I agree with many of the things the Governor has done the past several years and applaud his efforts in blocking funding to Planned Parenthood, signing the parental rights and opt-out bill that Senator Osmond ran, and many other things. This is not meant to be a personal attack on the Governor himself, but he invites a rebuttal when he infers certain things in his advertising and openly states partial facts. His campaign statements do not reflect a reality of events that are well known nationwide, and even in his own Common Core history.

For what it’s worth I have had a number of conversations with Jonathan Johnson, currently running for Governor against Gary Herbert. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a real conversation about education issues with Jonathan, send him further information, and have him actually read it and get back to me and others with specific thoughts on what we sent him. We might not always agree 100% of the time, but he’s actually put in the time and effort to understand a different point of view. In the past we have tried to discuss issues with Governor Herbert but his reply was always, “talk to my education advisor,” (who also happens to support Common Core in a huge way).  As a result of my experience and communications with Jonathan Johnson, I personally endorse him in his bid to become governor. Here are some other important reasons why I support hiring JJ.

 

The Dinner Hour has become the National Deprogramming Hour

Denis Ian, a 30+ year veteran public school teacher in New York, published this on Facebook. With his permission I am posting his writeup here. Denis taught Global History and economics, and was also involved with all sorts of district reforms and innovations. He has a BA and a MS in Education from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.


The dinner hour has become the national deprogramming hour.

All across America, more and more, parents are discovering that their children are actually attending indoctrinating centers rather than schools … and hauling home the outrageous and almost always wrong, politically-infected version of all things. Perhaps Common Core’s lone, positive fallout is that it has revived the family supper.

Common Core, at the moment, is bad stuff. But it has the potential to become extremely bad stuff. For months, in post after post and article after article, the great debate has been about various lessons and approaches that have emerged. Are they or are they not Common Core sanctioned? I used to think that was a valid question. Not any more.

The very sponsors of Common Core hardly seem to mind these curriculum excursions into their absurdity … such as rewriting American history to coalesce with the current pc mindset. They seem barely shivered by eye-popping, stomach-churning developments in sex education … for the littlest of students … who are now exposed to startling information and vividly detailed sexual escapades … all under the guise of healthy living. The Common Core oligarchs seems somewhat soothed by the politically charged alterations to historical documents and events … provided they tumble to the left of center. In short, Common Core’s whoop seems to be … “Open sesame” … everything and anything is up for “reform”.

Anyone and everyone seems welcomed in the Common Core tent of the macabre. If you’re up for skewering America and its history, hop on board. If you’re inclined toward seedy sexual stuff … welcome home! If you’re in favor of disrupting and disturbing a particular activity like coal or petroleum production … or sanctifying every tree and bog and swamp … then there’s a slot for you in the Common Core mayhem. Itching for a fight about who should control nutrition for kids? You’re welcomed aboard. Cranky about about tenure or teacher sovereignty in the classroom? All aboard. It seems anyone with a beef gets a plate at the Common Core buffet of all-you-can-eat nonsense.

Got beefs? Maybe against the military or the Tea Party? Scribble out a unit or a lesson package. You’re in. Got hang-up about climate change or homosexual marriages? Fire away. Got a bug up your nose about Christianity or religion in general,? Just punch out a screed about fanatics and zealots and it’ll find it’s way into Common Core.

The point? Common Core has given educational cover for a slender minority to pollute the actual education environment with any issue whatsoever … and it seems to give those issues … no matter how hair-brained or offensive … a certain legitimacy. Common Core has become the new “open sesame” because, by its very nature, it suggests that what is, is not acceptable. America must be altered, changed, renovated, rejuvenated, redirected … and most especially … cured. But only if those cure pass a certain muster.

Esteemed historical figures are pilloried at the politically-correct whipping post. Historical documents … which foundationed this nation for centuries … are now seen as attic junk … to be recycled according to the “New Nonsense” of the day.

This is no time to hail this nation. Nope. It needs to be SHAMED. Made to appear as sinful as any other on the planet. It’s time to excoriate those blasphemers who think this is an exceptional nation based on a unique set of principles because, well, it makes us standout a bit too much from the rest of the miserable world. And we can’t have that. No, siree. We’re even cajoled to empathize with the new medievalists … currently on a head-collecting mission in the sands of the Middle East … who will one day rocket us into a modern armageddon of real life-or-death preservation. It now seems wiser to “understand” our enemies than to even question them … to search for the vomit-inducing “root cause” of their bloody neo-medievalism. Ever think we might be playing with a modern Ali Babba who isn’t so randy and dandy as the fictional one of yesteryear? I think not.

In schools today, Christianity is viewed as a dangerous cult, personal responsibility has been replaced by an all-knowing, all-soothing government, and espousing contrarian points of view will get you tattooed as a racist, a xenophile, a homophobe, a sexist, a capitalist-pig, a neanderthal … or a dastardly conservative. Common Core has opened the flood-gates for every miscreant with a special beef to step forward and set the record unstraight … because that is part and parcel of the New Nonsense.

And beware what college claims both your child and your family fortune … because almost all of them are indoctrinating, finishing schools of the very worst sort. You might not recognize the kid who returns home.

Make time for dinner … and save your child. Often. View each bread-breaking opportunity as if it was the last supper.

Denis Ian


Thank you for speaking out Denis. If you wonder what to talk about with your children, the answer is anything. Teach them economic principles, stories of perseverance, tidbits from history, and so on. A while back I created a website for topics for dinner discussion and you can find some good ones there. I’m going to be growing it again because I need it as much as anyone else.

Why SB 45 Must Pass

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.

Thank you for your time.

Protecting Our Children