Utah teacher speaks out on charged curriculum

The below email was sent to me by a Utah public school teacher with permission to share.

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We were mandated to use a specific remedial literacy curriculum/software about 4 years ago grades 3-6.  After only one year, the district replaced all of the materials and software at some considerable expense with the NG or “New Generation” version. We were told to turn back in any previous materials and discontinue use.  We as teachers had no idea what that NG meant.  I started to notice “College to Career” statements everywhere in the lesson plans –not openly discussed with the educators so it had little meaning to me.  Sounded nice.

What I noticed on my own, and before the whole Common Core thing came up as an issue, was that the topics were very socially and scientifically biased.  Topics that covered a month of activities each, covered racial, immigration, earth resources use, animal humane/exploitation issues, etc…  There were no differing views, but a railroaded view and conclusion with student answers actually formatted so they had to orally or in written form answer in a certain way with pre-scripted emotionally-charged dialogue sentence starters (“It was hard for Carlita when her mother couldn’t stay and had to return to Mexico for awhile, and Carlita felt that…”).

The topics seemed to be age inappropriate and more adult oriented and politically controversial.  Issues that I never would have approached before.  Needless to say, I was and am uncomfortable teaching material that I do not personally agree with (and likely most of the parents) and do not wish to indoctrinate with topics and discussions that can be disturbing to younger children.

 

Controversial Science Standards Replace Ethics and Transparency

The open secret is now public: Utah’s proposed, new science standards are word-for-word identical to the controversial NGSS science standards. How did we get here? Here’s a quick review:

  • USOE: ‘No National Standards.’ In 2011, the USOE repeatedly promised that Utah will NOT adopt national science or social studies standards, citing “too many philosophical variances” in the standards.
  • ‘Written by Utah.’ In November 2014 the USOE told the parent review committee that the new science standards were “written by Utah.” No third party was attributed as participating in any way. This is corroborated by Alisa Ellis and Vince Newmeyer, both members of the parent review committee.
  • Missing Copyright Attribution? The parent committee ran a doc comparison between the new “Utah” standards, and the controversial NGSS national science standards. They found them to be word-for-word The lack of citation to NGSS was a mystery until someone found the copyright notice on Achieve, Inc’s NGSS site, wherein Achieve (the owner of NGSS), allowed a state to surreptitiously adopt the standards (i.e., be exempt from the copyright attribution requirement), as long as the state adopts the standards “in full:” Achieve said:

“States and territories…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.”

  • Achieve, Inc’s Disappearing Act. In spring 2015, after Utah standards reviewers made public the deceptive nature of NGSS adoption, Achieve removed the language encouraging “non-attributed” use of the NGSS standards. Now Achieve is trying to minimize (hide?) its own ownership and control of NGSS. In its revised Web site, it has not only removed all reference to ownership of NGSS, but now requires states to attribute NGSS to themselves. (see table, below).
ORIGINAL Achieve NGSS messaging REVISED Achieve NGSS messaging
 Attribution exemption

“States and territories of the United States as well as the District of Columbia 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.”

[removed]
 Ownership of NGSS

“Except as set forth below, Achieve, on behalf of the twenty-six states and partners that collaborated on the NGSS, shall be acknowledged as the sole owner of the NGSS, and licensees shall make no claim to the contrary.

[removed]
“© Copyright 2013 Achieve, Inc. All rights reserved.”  “Suggested citation: NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States.

Lest anyone be confused as to who really owns and controls the controversial NGSS science standards, both the “original” and “revised” Achieve Web sites include this reminder: “Before using any NGSS trademarks, third parties must submit samples of proposed uses to Achieve for review.”

Clear as mud.

Provo USOE Meeting Report

Here’s a quick rundown on the Provo USOE meeting this past week. Syd Dickson was running the meeting and got up and started asking people for concerns they had with the standards. Frankly, I was stunned at the length and breadth of concerns people expressed. A very short list: the process of adoption; government control leads to a decrease in achievement; what makes us think this will work; who will be held accountable when they fail; who was involved in writing the standards; in adopting 6-9 grade standards which are integrated we are heading toward adopting k-5 and 9-12 without even seeing them; limits curriculum options because of the standards; what are the costs of adoption; people can’t trust USOE; why is the public just now aware of NGSS being what was copied to the Utah SEED standards; lied to about not adopting common core in science; concern over what else are we adopting from national standards like sex ed; inappropriate topics for 6-8 graders like politically charged items; and passing out 6-8 grade standards that didn’t even show all the content that teachers would be given so we could properly evaluate the standards.

The list went on and on. They filled roughly 10 easel size pages with concerns.

Three state school board members were in attendance, Joel Wright, Mark Openshaw, and Brittney Cummins. I haven’t had time to speak with any of them but Joel Wright did tweet one of my comments that this was a rubber stamp process.

After listing many of the concerns and chewing up about 20-30 minutes with that, we moved to public comments. Syd Dickson started out by announcing she felt cyberbullied this week over the video that was posted showing her and Dr. Martell Menlove stating Utah would never adopt Common Core science or social studies standards. She made a few comments which I can’t recall precisely now but I felt she was trying to split hairs saying NGSS isn’t really Common Core because it was created by Achieve and not the CCSSO/NGA so they’ve been honest saying we wouldn’t adopt Common Core science. This is completely wrong. During public comment I was the first to get up and explain the following.

In early 2012, during the same time frame and same state school board members, an employee of the USOE contacted me and told me that the USOE was internally planning on adopting the Common Core science and social studies standards. Outwardly they were telling people (and publishing online) that they had no intention of adopting CC science and it was a fallacy that adopting math and ELA were a slippery slope to science standards adoption. I said I was not surprised in the least that the USOE had brought NGSS/CC science to the state board as the standards they wanted to adopt. The state board didn’t create these standards or request them but the USOE and their supporters want to claim that the state board supports these standards because they voted to put them out for public comment. This is a major fallacy as the state board members had nothing to do with this and just voted to get public input on what the USOE had “created” for Utah.

(to watch the video and see other facts about the adoption lies go to this page: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utahs-deceptive-science-standards-adoption/)

Near the end of the meeting, Steve Whitehouse, a charter school board member, corroborated my story and said that he too had correspondence with USOE employees in this early time frame that they were telling him the USOE had full intentions of adopting these other national standards while denying it publicly.

It is also insane for the USOE to claim that Next Generation Science Standards aren’t Common Core because Achieve Inc. receives its funding from the Gates Foundation as did the CCSSO & NGA. Gates money funded all sets of national Common Core standards (science by Achieve, and math and ELA by CCSSO/NGA). Pappa Gates funds everything in the Common Core village.

Further, NGSS itself says this on its FAQ page:

http://nextgenscience.org/frequently-asked-questions

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

In the end, the decision to adopt the standards and make them consistent between states lies in the hands of the states themselves. The goal was to create robust, forward-looking K–12 science standards that all states can use to guide teaching and learning in science for the next decade. Thus, the National Academies, Achieve, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) collaborated with states and other stakeholders to ensure the standards are of high quality—internationally benchmarked, rigorous, research-based and aligned with expectations for college and careers.

How will states use these standards documents?

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 in English language arts and mathematics, to align curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional preparation and development.

NGSS standards were always intended to be the national science standards to compliment and be implemented with Common Core ELA and math. The USOE lied to the parent review panel telling them these standards were Utah created and written when they’ve been planning this adoption for years.

Also of great concern is an issue Vince Newmeyer raised. A state that does not give attribution to NGSS is either in violation of the copyright or it is a tacit admission the state is in the process of “adopting the NGSS in whole.” So a state doesn’t have to declare the attribution if they are planning to adopt them in whole if they only start with a part.

Now, what’s wrong with the standards themselves? They are integrated so instead of discrete years of studying separate topics and subjects, things are clumped together in a “crosscutting” fashion to address a topic from multiple scientific angles. This obviously has some benefits, but I would have greatly preferred the USOE pull in teachers from around Utah, come up with our own crosscutting plan that matches our already good standards, examined standards from other states that are highly rated, put together a plan in a transparent way, and then implemented it starting in K-4 and add a year at a time. Starting in 6-8 guarantees that things children were taught in one year will be retaught to them in the next year or two again causing boredom. Mid-stream implementations are problematic as we saw with the CC math implementation when children repeated an entire year of math because CC math slows down the curriculum by a full year (algebra 1 is completed in 9th grade instead of 8th unless you are in the honors track by 7th grade).

For a few specific examples of what’s wrong…

One public school teacher got up and said how much he loved what these standards were trying to accomplish but then apologized several times and stated how some were so poorly written he couldn’t even understand what he was meant to accomplish. Syd Dickson told him he had nothing to apologize for, but I took it as a sign of the fear teachers have in speaking out against things that come from the state office. I believe the standard he brought up was 6.4.2 which says:

“6.4.2 Develop a model to generate date for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.”

Huh? Where is the clarity?

Here’s a couple of the 6th grade standards:

“6.2.4 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.”

“6.4.3 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.”

This is meant for 6th grade discussion and it’s clearly already headed down a controversial path. Global warming is not fact. There are all kinds of issues with it and it is totally inappropriate to introduce such a thing to 6th graders. Same with the potential for discussions on overpopulation. These types of issues are best left for later high school or college, where they are presented clearly with the best arguments on both sides of the issue. It’s way too easy to indoctrinate students by presenting things early in life as factual which are actually under much scrutiny. Students place way too much trust in teachers as the authority figures and if the standards and curriculum lay down a certain path, those students are going to believe it forever.

In 7th grade we get more controversy.

“7.2.4 Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.

Wow is that ever one sided. It’s no longer the theory of evolution in these standards, it’s factual and you need to explain it and make inferences to explain how one life form evolved into others. There are massive holes in the theory of evolution. This does not address any of them.

There are still two science meetings left. Be sure to attend the one closest to you (click for details: Logan and Salt Lake). The USOE has no doubt invited their pro-supporters out (even though they started off with these public meetings by just posting an announcement online and not inviting school districts at all).

To me, the only solution I see at present is for personnel change at the USOE. It must have its budget cut. They provide no classroom benefit, they are all about putting us on national standards, and the state board is so far letting them take us down that road and relinquishing their own power (although I just heard positive news they have sent back the Fine Arts standards the USOE proposed because they are the national standards version as well).

Here’s press coverage of the Provo meeting:

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2485453-155/religion-nationalization-fuel-debate-over-new

http://fox13now.com/2015/05/06/parents-talk-climate-change-evolution-as-board-of-education-seeks-feedback-on-new-science-standards/

Here’s a video recording of the meeting.

Utah’s Deceptive Science Standards Adoption

The Utah State Office of Education is pushing to have Utah adopt the national “Next Generation Science Standards” which is Common Core for science (and happens to be rated much lower than our current science standards). To do this, they have been deceptive with the public and the parent review committee telling everyone these standards were written by Utahns when in reality they are national standards. We have been promised that Utah would not adopt these science standards (or for social studies or health), but the current people at the USOE are forging ahead, handing the public a stripped down version of the standards to avoid “overwhelming” them, but planning to give teachers the full set of standards once approved. It’s Deja Vu all over again… Listen to them in their own words on this video.

Please write your school board member and legislators and tell them the USOE is violating their promise by trying to push national science standards on Utahns.

http://schoolboard.utah.gov

http://le.utah.gov

 

Here is where the USOE posted on their website that the math and ELA adoption would not be a slippery slope to adopting the science, social studies, and other Common Core standards.
http://www.utahpublicschools.org/

(click to enlarge)
ccss1
ccss2
Check out Alisa Ellis’ side-by-side comparison of the science standards here. You can see how the USOE merely renumbered them to tell people they are Utah standards, but used the NGSS/Common Core science standards verbatim.
UT vs NGSS 6th

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Audio and video for the video above was pulled from these sources (and special thanks to those of you who go to these meetings and listen to them online to bring these things to light. Thank you for being involved.)

Alpine School District Training (first file, 38 m 45 s)

http://sbs.alpinedistrict.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/eAgenda.woa/wa/displayMeeting?meetingID=850

Education interim meeting (2 h 7 m)

http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=7992&meta_id=230368

Vernal USOE meeting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPXdr4TQVXY&w=560&h=315

Letter from Diana Suddreth and Sydnee Dickson about national standards

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/usoe-wants-national-standards-limits-to-parental-powers/

Is your school violating the law?

Has your school notified you of your parental rights?

If you have not been notified by your local school of your rights detailed below, ask the school why they are violating the law and ask your school board member to ensure all schools in your district are following the law. This statement is from SB 122 passed in 2014. It is state law.

http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/sb0122.html

47          53A-15-1502. Annual notice of parental rights.
48          An LEA shall annually notify a parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the LEA of
49      the parent’s or guardian’s rights as specified in this part.

What is specified in this part? OPTING OUT OF SAGE TESTS! (Among other things)

86      (9) (a) Upon the written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse
87      the student from taking a test that is administered statewide or the National Assessment of
88      Educational Progress.

If your school has not notified parents of this right, bring it to your principal’s and school board members’ attention.

Further, new state law passed this year 2015 (http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0204.html, line 92), and signed by the governor mandates that teachers may not incentivize/reward (line 238) or punish SAGE test participation or withdrawal through opting out, and may not use it in grading students (lines 90-93).

On April 10 “The Utah State Board of Education approved amendments to Rule R277-404 Requirement for Assessment of Student Achievement aimed at clarifying the rules and procedures for parents or guardians who wish to opt their public school students out of state tests. Parents or guardians will be asked to fill out an opt-out form at least one day before the test is to be administered.” (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary.aspx#Opt-out)

NEW STATE SCHOOL BOARD POLICY (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary/materials/R277-404-April2015.aspx)

“Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from a state administered assessment without further consequence by an LEA.” (pg 7)

“Upon exercising the right to exempt a child from a state administered assessment under this provision, an LEA may not impose an adverse consequence on a child as a result of the exercise of rights under this provision.” (pg 7)

UPDATE 4-28-15: 2014’s parental rights bill allows for opting out of SAGE. However, Senator Osmond has indicated that 2015’s bill doesn’t take technical effect until July which is after the school year ends. Therefore, teachers have a right to use SAGE in their end of year grading. However, for those who opt out, it appears there is nothing in the law that allows teachers to use an alternate test in your child’s grades. My previous line here about students taking an alternative test was triggered based on Judy Park’s statement at the bottom, but no alternative test is provided for in Utah law, and next year teachers cannot use this test in grades at all. So opting out should not impact your child, or cause your child to have to take an alternative test. See Wendy Hart’s comment below.

Senator Osmond wrote this email to someone explaining the situation.

“The law itself becomes effective on May 12 (or 60 days from the adjournment of the Legislature), but its implementation was always intended to begin in the next school year. Again, that was the intent. So, technically this is the reason for the confusion.

The bottom line is that the both the Legislature and the Utah Board of Education are communicating that the law is to be effective beginning the next school year. This means that teaches may tie SAGE results to grades for this year. But after this school year it will be against the law to do so.”

Wendy Hart, a board member in Alpine School District, posted this to Facebook:

There is no legal requirement from a state level for your child to take an alternative test. I have not heard of a ‘replacement’ test that one ‘orders’. So, this is a local school thing. If it is a local school thing, then there must be a board policy that was adopted in an open, public meeting that REQUIRES students to take this alternative and specifies where/how this is to take place. Otherwise, this is just an administrative-level decision and it does not hold any legal weight. If the teacher was willing to write his own test, then again, this is an administrative thing. Even though this is a charter school, their board meetings are still subject to Utah Open Meetings Laws. All agendas should be publicly available, all policies, all audio of all meetings. They would need to show me chapter and verse as to their authorization for this action. But that chapter and verse cannot, in any way, conflict with existing state law.”

Dr. Gary Thompson posted this on Facebook and I agree.

“Unless your kid is in grade 9-12, the effects of “grades” are not worth stressing over.

I mean really? So a 6th grade kid goes from a B to a C…or even a D because he does not take a test?

So what.

I’m sure Harvard won’t give a damn, and neither should you…especially when they are using it as a bullying tactic.

Call their bluff.

Pull your child.

Ask me how many times someone has asked me about even my GRADUATE school grades in the last 7 years since graduation.

Tell them you would be more than thrilled to have your child take the test..any test.. when they can produce validity reports for them.

Otherwise, let them know that you refuse to allow your child to be used as experimental fodder for a private testing company.

P.S. If they hand you something and say its a validity report, feel free to scan it and send it to me directly.

Several parents have sent me administration produced “validity” reports on the SAGE. Each and every one of them were AIR and/or USOE produced public relations essays.”

The truly aggravating thing is that we are asking 3rd graders and on up to sit for 2.5-3 hours at a time taking a year end test that will do NOTHING for learning. It’s grueling. I’m one of those accountants who took the CPA and CMA exam, both 16 hour exams, and each section was an endurance test along with the knowledge, and this was for someone in their 20’s, not 8 years old.

As per instructions from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park on 9-23-14 to all schools:

“3. When a … parent or guardian opts‐out of a state‐level test, no academic penalty shall result for the student. If teachers/schools use any of these tests for grading/promotion decisions, some alternative assessment will need to be provided…
5. Any student who is in school and not participating in testing should be engaged in a meaningful educational activity. Students not participating in any testing should not be singled out in any negative way nor should the student or the class be administratively punished in any way because a student opts out of testing…

This instruction should prevent teachers from giving unfair alternative assessments to students.

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)- Center Stage 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

Starting at 6:30 PM

Five Strings musical group, Joy Pullman and Senator Al & Juleen Jackson

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.

[wufoo username=”oaknorton” formhash=”s6b22n21vs2aqw” autoresize=”true” height=”897″ header=”show” ssl=”true”]

 

 

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.

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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.

Protecting Our Children

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New to Common Core?  Watch these presentations on the Common Core agenda:
3 Utah Moms Expose Broad Common Core Reforms
Pulling Back the Curtain: The Agenda Behind Common Core by Oak Norton
It's a lot more than just standards.

Also watch the powerful Common Core documentary movie which the Home School Legal Defense Association released. This 40 minute documentary gives you the inside story from the lips of those involved in the creation of Common Core.

Have you heard that the "Utah Core" isn't "Common Core"? Let the facts and Superintendent Menlove correct any misperceptions for you.

Get organized locally. Check for a parent group in your area, and if there isn't a leader, volunteer and create one like this group in Southern Utah.