We’ve been saying this for years, but now it’s on record. In a newly released video by Project Veritas, they caught an account manager for Houghton-Mifflin saying she hates kids and Common Core is all about selling books and making money. Reminiscent of the Planned Parenthood videos, Project Veritas says more videos are coming to establish the fact that this wasn’t just a single incident but a pattern across the industry. I will continue to post the additional videos Project Veritas has filmed for easy reference.
Writing this week in the Deseret News, Senator Orrin Hatch and State Superintendent Brad Smith wrote:
No Child Left Behind was a setback for Utah. It subjected our children to excessive testing, stripped our schools of critical decision-making authority and ceded too much power to the federal government. After 13 years of frustration and disappointment, Utah families have rightly been clamoring to leave this law behind.
That’s why we supported the opportunity to scrap No Child Left Behind and give Utahns a fresh start. This week, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a massive education overhaul that the conservative Wall Street Journal called “the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”
This is prime evidence of people who:
- Do not read bills before commenting and just rely on others to tell them what a source document says and means.
- Evidence that people read something and attribute good intentions to the federal government and hope for the best.
- Actually just like the feds involved in our lives more and more.
I cannot believe that these two individuals from Utah would actually be in favor of the feds now invading the home as this bill is about to set in motion (see below), so I have to assume that they are part of category 1 or 2 above. Thankfully, 5 of our 6 members of Utah’s delegation actually READ the bill and voted against this abomination. What abomination am I talking about specifically?
Alpine School District board member Wendy Hart posted this article to her blog. I’m reposting with permission.
Jan 4, 2016: Deadline to Support the Family vs US Dept of Ed
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable vacation. My family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2016. I apologize for interrupting what should be family time, but I felt this information was extremely important.
As many of you know, the replacement law for No Child Left Behind, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in December. As part of that law, the states must come up with a plan for education that includes a ‘Family Engagement Plan.’ Also, the US Dept of Education (USED) is supposed to come up with their own Family Engagement Plan that states MAY adopt, if they don’t want to do their own homework. The USED has placed their plan on their website and is inviting comments until JANUARY 4th. (It’s almost as if they didn’t want public comments, since they put this out over Christmas break, but I digress.) Here is the link for comments: http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/families.html#family-engagement-draft-statement
I would especially encourage you to read pages 13 -14.
Utah State Law says that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children and that the state’s role is to be secondary and SUPPORTIVE to the parents’ role. The Family Engagement piece is anything but supportive to the parents’ role. It does have a lot of nice-sounding stuff to blur the lines of you being allowed to ‘partner’ with the Feds/State as they raise your children.
I could go on with my own diatribe, but I found this from left-leaning education blogger Peter Greene that accurately assesses what a lot of the problems are with this ‘plan’. http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-federal-family-fixing-plan.html I appreciate the fact that this plan is so appalling to average, normal people that it is not a left/right issue, it is a parents vs bureaucrats issue.
Please take a few minutes to weigh in. Once this train is on the track, we will be told it’s too late.
Here are some samples:
Implement a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences.
Develop and integrate family engagement indicators into existing data systems
Local schools and programs should track progress on family engagement goals, as detailed in family engagement plans.
Just remember this when we adopt something egregious as part of our state plan. The mantra that things like this can’t happen in Utah hasn’t been applicable for far too many years.
And a public thank you to Reps Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, as well as Sen. Mike Lee for voting against ESSA and it’s horrid intrusion into the autonomy of the family!
Happy New Year and thank you for all your support and involvement!
Utah’s state board was misled in April by the state superintendent. He sent them an email either knowingly or unwittingly, telling state board members the new science standards were Utah created. Here is his email.
TO: Members, Utah State Board of Education
FROM: Brad C. Smith
Chief Executive Officer
DATE: April 9-10, 2015
ACTION: Release Grades 6-8 Science Standards Draft for 90-Day Public Review
The Utah State Office of Education in collaboration with the Utah science education community (composed of Utah science teachers, Utah district science curriculum specialists, and Utah higher education representatives) has created a revised draft of the Utah Core Science Standards for grades 6-8. The revision is based on addressing concerns about the format of current science standards in multiple documents and presenting a single vision for college and career readiness in science education. The draft responds to feedback from multiple stakeholder groups including parents, teachers, district administrators, university personnel, and the State Board Standards and Assessment committee.
Superintendent Smith has thus far refused to answer several questions I have asked him concerning this email either verbally or in writing. We’ve known they were not Utah created for over a year now and that they were word for word exactly what the NGSS. There was no “draft” with feedback from multiple stakeholders, parents, teachers, admin, etc…In fact, last fall there was a training in these standards held at Weber State for teachers to get fully on board with them even though they had not been adopted or put through any type of public review process. It’s a total sham.
As a result of this email from the Superintendent, and no doubt plenty of testimony from USOE (which very well could have deceived the superintendent into sending out such a false email above), the state board released these NGSS standards into the public for a 90-day review period.
That review period pointed out dozens of serious issues with the standards on a wide range of topics. You can watch the Provo meeting here for an idea of concerns people raised.
As a result of these concerns, the state board asked that the concerns be addressed. The USOE got right to work and has now released the new draft of the standards for a 30-day period of review. The public needs to comment on these standards, but most importantly, contact your state board member and ask him/her not to vote these standards in. There is a very small subset of publishers that have materials ready for NGSS. Teachers are not trained in this method of teaching. Several teachers spoke out about this in that Provo meeting linked to above. This is a disaster waiting to happen. And to top things off, the USOE’s rewrite of NGSS is exactly that, simply a minor rewrite of the same standards.
Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):
Link to find your board member and contact him/her:
Contact info for your board member:
Vince Newmeyer, a member of the science standards parent review committee has typed up this review of the standards. Please read it.
Review of the USOE October Proposed “Utah SEEd” Standards
revised 26 October 2015
USOE Admits that they Seek to adopt the National Next Generation Science Standards1
The Utah State Office of Education has come out with another draft of the proposed science standards on the 9th of October for a SHORT 30 DAY review. Your response is urgently needed!
The October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards remain in character and precept simply the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which is the complement2 to the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which Utah adopted and which invited so much protest. The only NGSS performance standards that have been dropped from the October draft had to do with perfectly acceptable standards related to kinetic energy and a standard on sensory organs and the brain. Only two standards were added from Utah’s existing Science Standards. Essentially all of the reasons3 4 for rejecting the national NGSS standards from the April revision (then feigned as “primarily Utah” derived SEEd standards5) remain with the October version of the “Utah SEEd” NGSS standards. Though there are minor changes, a mostly NGSS Utah State standard will almost certainly produce a curriculum of essentially all of NGSS as teachers and districts seek NGSS compatible material for textbooks and lesson plans, etc. Any standards founded on NGSS should be rejected so that Utah can develop true Utah standards in character and values. Please respond to the online survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SEEdReview) but also Call and Email the Board members as well as Ricky Scott, the State Science Specialist, and Brad Smith the State Superintendent Now!
In April, when the first publicly presented draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards was released for the 90-day public review, the USOE tried to falsely cast the proposed standards as a Utah grown, Utah values effort. In spite of the many notices to them that their charade was not working, and that those who have investigated knew that the proposed standards were word-for-word taken from the NGSS performance standards, yet the USOE persisted in this masquerade even up through the last public meeting held on the standards. For one of many examples, you can watch Diana Suddreth parrot the tired line at that last public hearing in Salt Lake City on the standards that
“the standards … have been developed over a process of about three years in conjunction with primarily Utah science educators but with input from others along the way,”6
and yet there were not five words difference between the proposed Utah performance standards and the NGSS performance standards. How could this April draft be a “Utah” driven process which lasted, as Dianna said, “about three years?” Within the final document there was no copyright notice. One would expect to find a copyright notice, like the one specified by the copyright holder of the NGSS (“© Copyright 2013 Achieve, Inc. All rights reserved.”) if it were a copy, but less than 5 words of no significant difference and no copyright notice?
Why such subterfuge in the presentation of these standards? Almost certainly it is because USOE officials gave assurances through multiple representatives on multiple occasions (after the heat they received in the way the “Common Core” with all of its baggage was slipped in) that Utah would not adopt further national standards. See Youtube Utah’s Science7
After the review for the first publicly released draft had been completed, the board voted and sent the draft back for a fundamental re-write. Further, there were promises made from a USOE official that the rewritten document would not be just a thesaurus translation but have a foundationally different character on controversial issues, such as global warming and Darwinian evolution. Well did it happen?
The New Draft:
The largest change in the character and nature of the standards, as presented to the board of education, is that the standards are no longer cast as a Utah derived proposal but that Utah “…SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”8 No longer are they falsely casting this as a Utah grown, Utah values effort, but they are admitting that this is a national standard which they are attempting to adopt. But neither are they completely straight forward with the issue. More completely, the forward material says “Most SEEd standards remain based on the Next Generation Science Standards (emphasis added).”9
In this case “most” means that all of the performance standards proposed are fundamentally NGSS performance standards with the exception of three (3). Two standards are drawn from concepts in the current Utah standards, and one is a further explanation of the greenhouse gas concept. All of the rest of the standards (that is all but these three) are NGSS either exact wording, a thesaurus translation, or in four cases a combination of several NGSS standards. It is interesting to note that long before this standard was released, this author made a list of 27 performance standards from the proposed April NGSS “Utah SEEd” standards which were of a potential concern (depending on how they actually ended up being taught). Only seven of the 27 concerning standards showed some improvement in wording in that they were stated in less dogmatic terms or were re-framed in a manner that brought less concern to one degree or another. Of those seven standards that appeared to have a less bias or concerning cast to them, only three (two of which was of low concern to begin with) really made it on the concern list. That is the sum that could be claimed to be an improvement! The only other adjustment was that the perfectly acceptable performance standards related to kinetic energy were removed, and also a standard about “sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain” was also removed. It is likely these minor changes reflect more the changes that will be adopted in future versions of the NGSS and not a fundamental change from internal Utah motivations.
The retention of NGSS problematic standards persists even down to the widely discredited notion that embryological development follows the claimed evolutionary development or “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny” in NGSS MS-LS4-3 or 7.5.4 in the October draft. This notion and fabricated evidence to promote the notion was erroneously advanced by Ernst Haeckel in the late 1800s. It is now and has been for some time widely recognized, by those who have studied embryological development in depth, to be completely false10. For just one example, Erich Blechschmidt commented in his 1977 book The Beginnings of Human Life.
“The so-called basic law of biogenetics [Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny] is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form, making it valid in a certain percentage. It is totally wrong.”11
Sometime ago, while the 90 day public review of the science standards proposed in April were under way, I pointed out that the word-for-word effort to adopt the NGSS was a measure of the allegiance of USOE to remain true to the NGSS national standard. Now, with this October revision we see that the resolve of USOE to adopt the NGSS has not diminished. The USOE even doggedly clings to NGSS tenants that have for a long time been discredited. Further, this shows that the USOE has every intention to adopt all of the NGSS K-12 in which the larger portion has not even been discussed.
The forward material of the new draft claims various other improvements such as more clarity, implementations from the Fordham report, removal of age inappropriate material, and such12. It is ironic that the added clarity largely comes from the adoption of additional verbiage from the NGSS such as NGSS Clarification Statements, either word-for-word or closely tied language. These Clarification Statements had previously existed in drafts produced prior to the April draft but they did not go out to public review. Furthermore, I had stated from the beginning of the April review period that USOE almost certainly had every intention of reincorporating the Clarification Statements in one form/method or another and now here they are emerging just as predicted. As for changes made related to the Fordham report, I see no significant evidence of such. It appears to be a lip service only claim. The last thing I will comment on in this area is the statement that “Age Appropriateness” adjustment have been made as performance standards which encouraged “students debate with evidence about climate change and human effects on the environment were removed from 6th grade.” Yes they were removed from 6th grade only to reappear in the 8th grade standards. Still 8th grade is not what I would consider age appropriate.
Summary NGSS founded NGSS results
While we see that there were minor adjustments for the better, the fact remains that these are NGSS performance standards with mere token deviations. Therefore, when districts and teachers seek to further develop their curriculum, and consider that the State has essentially adopted the NGSS, books, lesson plans, and other sources which teachers and districts will be looking for to further support their curriculum which were developed by others to be NGSS compliant, we will find the full NGSS in every detail will be right back into the classroom, complete in its materialistic and biased character. The USOE has previously pledged to reject further adoption of national standards by multiple representatives at multiple forums13. The reasons for rejecting such national standards has not diminished nor have they varied in any significance from what was offered in the April draft.
Reject the adoption of the October draft of the “Utah SEEd” standards.
Link to comment on standards (must comment immediately. I think the deadline is November 9th):
Link to find your board member and contact him/her:
Contact info for your board member:
1 USOE now admits in, “Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review,” October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7, that “Most SEEd standards remain based on” NGSS. Later in this text we will see that USOE definition of “most” means it is essentially all NGSS.
2 See paper “What? NGSS is Common Core Science???”
3 See paper “Issues With Next Generation Science Standards Proposed for Adoption in Utah and the Adoption Process”
4 See paper “Rebuttal To ‘Why the Critics of the Next Generation Science Standards are Wrong: A Position Paper'” http://www.sciencefreedom.org/Rebuttal-to-Why-the-Critics-of-the-Next-Generation-Science-Standards-are-Wrong.html
5 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s
6 Youtube SLC Standards Review Meeting May 19, 2015 (the last) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izVPsNYB6PU#t=3m56s
8 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7
9 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7
10 Besides the example given, you may also want to read Jonathan Wells’ article “SURVIVAL OF THE FAKEST” http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/survivalOfTheFakest.pdf
11 Blechschmidt, Erich (1977) The Beginnings of Human Life. Springer-Verlag Inc., pg. 32 https://books.google.com/books?id=Xy-gBQAAQBAJ&lpg=PT44&ots=_Qx9T2yof-&dq=%22biogenetics%20is%20wrong%22&pg=PT44#v=onepage&q=%22biogenetics%20is%20wrong%22&f=false
12 Utah Science with Engineering Education (UT SEEd) Standards Release for 30-day Review, October 8-9, 2015 http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/TAB11.aspx page 7
The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but they’re doing it anyway. In a 2011 video for the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry, Steve Midgley, the Deputy Director of Education Technology for the US Department of Education, says that the Learning Registry “makes federal learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored.” He also admits that the Federal Communications Commission changed broadband internet regulations to get federally-sanctioned curriculum items into every child’s classroom.
Say what? Yes. You heard it right. The Whitehouse is picking winners and losers in curriculum providers. They have created an effective oligarchy over online learning and testing resources in order to make sure that the curriculum coming through your child’s school-issued iPad or computer contains the right worldview. They funded the creation of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), gave states federal grants to expand their state longitudinal data system (see Utah’s here and here), got 300 (and counting) online learning and testing groups to create interoperable curriculum and computer-adaptive tests, and created a one-stop-shop called the Learning Registry where every child’s learning data will be tracked. This is information control, folks. And, it’s not just for K-12.
George Washington University, among many other institutions of higher ed, has jumped on the Learning Registry’s bandwagon. They are helping the federal administration (perhaps unwittingly) succeed at redefining student competencies around student behaviors, as opposed to academics. When Utahns think of competency-based education, we think of a student mastering something factual and proving competency. That’s not what the federal Learning Registry seeks. They define competencies around values, attitudes and beliefs. In other words, the more a student can think in moral relativist terms, the more “skilled” they are. Students who think “all truth is relative” will be easily malleable workers for a globally managed economy—widgets for crony business leaders.
So, how will the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry work? It will:
- Filter the curriculum content that reaches teachers and students
- Collect data on how a child thinks and what they believe
- Use that data to personalize online learning curriculum and adaptive testing systems (compare this to political campaigns changing the way voters vote by collecting data to create personalized marketing)
- Viola! A child will see America in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality—and advocate for big government solutions.
When John Marini talked about the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington written by Frank Capra, he said, “Frank Capra did not see America as many Americans do today, in terms of personal categories of identity…he understood America in terms of its political principles.”
If we want our children to be champions of liberty, including religious liberty, we need to engage our local education leaders in a discussion about who is defining “competency.” And, we cannot be naïve in thinking that we will implement competency-based education differently than the federal administration desires. If we put our plug (technology systems) into their electrical outlet (Learning Registry), we will be giving them all-power over what our children learn—and, we’ve already started plugging in. As one tech-savvy mom recently noted, “Parents need to understand that a unique student ID# will act like a social security number on steroids.
George Washington University says that they are helping the Whitehouse “create a beta version of a credentialing registry on the existing Learning Registry.” This means that the Feds are positioned, not only to control curriculum, but how colleges rate student credentials—also called “digital badges.” If this sounds like German-style education, that’s because it is.
We can’t allow the federal administration to use personally identifiable data to “personalize” learning resources for our children. It’s time for Congressional hearings into the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry—and it’s international data standards-setting partners, IMS Global and the SIF Association.
It’s also time for our local boards of education to take back what it means to have locally controlled education. Local boards should stand with parents by making sure that their district’s online curriculum and test items do not conform to federally-funded data standards.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
For more information on how the federal administration is aligning state and district policies to internationalist goals for competency-based education, see:
• Race To The Top for Districts (RTT-D) gave priority funding to districts that would embrace personalized learning and competency-based ed. See:
• Feds Give Nudge to Competency-Based Education
• Bill Gates’ KnowledgeWorks has published two Policy Briefs with the most extensive information about how the federal administration used Race To The Top to push state and district policies towards implementing personalized-learning and competency-based ed.
• iNACOL, KnowledgeWorks and the CCSSO (the state superintendents’ club that helped federal partners create Common Core standards), issued this report on their 2011 national Competency-Based Education Summit.
iNACOL made sure that global competency-based education policies made it into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s reauthorization bill. See:
This week President Obama signed a new executive order to “help” government be more accommodating to citizens. He plans to do this not through asking what people need, but by using behavioral data on citizens to help them understand what they really want.
Here’s the announcement…full of increasing government involvement in our lives…
An article at the Daily Caller points out the involvement of Cass Sunstein on this project. Cass is a full blown Marxist who Glenn Beck has been talking about for years as a major worry for being Obama’s “regulatory Czar.”
“The initiative draws on research from University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler and Harvard law school professor Cass Sunstein, who was also dubbed Obama’s regulatory czar. The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book “Nudge” that government policies can be designed in a way that “nudges” citizens towards certain behaviors and choices.”
The desired choices almost always advance the goals of the federal government, though they are often couched as ways to cut overall program spending.
In its 2013 memo, which was reported by Fox News at the time, the White House openly admitted that the initiative involved behavioral experimentation.
“The program has already existed in an experimental form, but now Obama has formally established the federal “Social and Behavioral Sciences Team,” ordering them to to use psychology and experimental behavior data to make government more user-friendly.”
Thanks to JaKell Sullivan for pointing out these links and for this insightful commentary on Facebook.
The problem is two-fold:
1. The Federal Executive Branch is deciding what outcomes they want to achieve on political issues like: global warming, water use, electrical use, food choices, healthcare choices, education choices
2. Then, they are using our tax dollars to: pay researchers who will support their goals and use (and manipulate) research data to propagandize us.
The Federal Executive branch will use this power to control, not improve choice.
The Whitehouse’s Learning Registry claims they can now get “between websites” to “filter” the content that reaches teachers and children. This is pure information control.
Here’s the Whitehouse’s video talking about the Learning Registry:
Jenny Baker also replied with this quote from Bernay’s, the author of “Propaganda.”
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” – Edward Bernays (“the father of public relations”), Propaganda, 1928 (note that Bernays’ book, Propaganda, begins with the above quote).
Why is this troubling? Where does the government obtain behavioral data on citizens? How are they getting it? Well we know one way is through the statewide longitudinal database systems they funded in each state and through SAGE tests by AIR, a behavioral research company. Why did Utah legislators pass a bill a few years back to include collecting behavioral data on students through computer adaptive testing (it has been removed now by a subsequent law but AIR still collects it)? What can you do when you know someone’s personality, values, beliefs, and behaviors? Manipulate them with propaganda designed to be most effective. Why else do you hire reams of psychologists to “help” citizens take advantage of government programs?
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ) has just released a report stating that increasing the use of technology in the classroom does not actually improve results.
Among their findings:
Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills
“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Mr Schleicher.
Sort of makes you wonder what the CEO’s of tech companies know since they send their children to computer-free private schools.
Eventually those behind the scenes of frauds either slip up or get so arrogant they openly admit what they did all along. Now we know.
“Joanne Weiss was the director of USED’s Race to the Top (RttT) program, the vehicle through which states were bribed to accept Common Core and the aligned assessments. In an essay recently published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Weiss confessed that USED used strong-arm tactics to transform states’ standards and assessments systems: ‘[W]e forced alignment among the top three education leaders in each participating state — the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education — by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state’s reform proposal.'”
I received a copy of this analysis and post it here with permission of the authors. The Early Life, Child Psychology and Education Center of South Jordan, Utah, has done an analysis of statements and positions of the U.S. Department of Education pertaining to Common Core assessments. I will post the forward of the document below, but you can obtain the 44 page report by clicking this link.
PDF Download-Primum Non Nocere – First, Do No Harm: An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of The U.S. Department of Education’s Change In Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning Children In Public Schools
Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds
the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.
As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child
Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics. Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.
We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.
The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.
This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.
Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.
We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.
Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children.
May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.
Brian Halladay, a school board member in Alpine School District and one of the only people in the state to really dig into AIR and their SAGE test, shared the following with me and gave permission to post it.
The SAGE Test is an unreliable, unverified test that our children from 3rd-11th grade are taking not just once, but up to three times a year. These tests aren’t scored by their teachers, but rather by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). This company is the one of the world’s largest social and behavioral research organizations. Your child’s proficiency is being scored by a bunch of behavioral researchers. No teacher is scoring, or has the ability to score, an individual child’s SAGE test.
Your child is taking a test for 8 hours (4 hours for math and 4 hours for English) that their teacher can’t see the questions to. This test is designed to have your child fail. Gone are the days when a student could feel a sense of achievement for getting 100% on a test. This test is touted to be “rigorous.” If your child gets a correct answer the test will continue to ask harder and harder questions until they get it wrong (who knows if what is tested was actually taught in the classroom?) Put simply this means your child likely will come home grumpy, anxious, or depressed after they take this test. With over 50% non-proficiency this will affect more than half the students that take it.
The teacher is almost as much of a test victim as the child. Having no idea of the test questions, they are starting to be evaluated on a test they can’t see. I believe we’re starting to see this leading to more experienced teachers leaving, and an increase in teachers with little to no experience not knowing the pre-SAGE environment.
Points to consider:
- When did we allow testing to become more important than education?
- Your child’s data is subject to being shared with people and organizations without your consent. There is nothing that prohibits AIR or any its multiple organizations from accessing your child’s data. As long as AIR doesn’t make a profit from the data without the USOE’s consent, they can use it for anything they want.
- This test has no contractual provisions that prevent it from collecting BEHAVIORAL data. AIR has a long history of collecting behavioral data, and seeing they’re a behavioral research organization, don’t you think they will? (Just look up Project Talent).
Last year, two fellow board members and I wrote a letter to our State Superintendent asking him to address our concerns, of which we’ve had no response.
If your parental instinct is kicking in, I would ask that you at least consider opting your child out of taking this test. State law allows any parent to opt their child out. Even if you don’t decide to opt out, talk with your teacher, know when your child is taking this test, and make sure your decision is in the their best interest.