Concerns

Devastating math by overemphasizing process

Check out this homework assignment a parent emailed me today which her child got 10/40 on. Most of the problems were correct but he didn’t show his work. 2 of the 10 points were for putting his name on his paper. Clearly a violation of principle for this teacher since his name is memorized and he didn’t draw a picture of himself…

What do you even do with teachers so full of this kind of nonsense. It reminds me of when my daughter was in 4th grade and had to draw 120 circles and separate 30 at a time to do long division. That didn’t last and I explained to the teacher that she understood the concept and wouldn’t be doing that nonsense anymore. Remember, schools are a SECONDARY SUPPORT to YOU in YOUR primary responsibility to educate YOUR children.
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“So I had to pass this along. My son attends Vista Heights Middle School and is in the 7th grade. Attached is my son’s homework he brought back home today. He didn’t get points for the VAST majority of his homework because he didn’t show his work. He didn’t show on paper how he knew his multiplication facts and could add and subtract small numbers in his head. We are now punishing our 7th graders for knowing their multiplication facts and knowing basic math!! I went through his paper and there were a few he did genuinely get wrong. But the bulk he got right and didn’t get ANY points because he didn’t show his work. When I asked my son what happened he said his teacher said, “memorizing your multiplication is NOT a method“. He is to re-do his assignment and draw pictures showing how he arrived at the answer. No need to memorize your multiplication facts in elementary school, they’re just going to have you draw pictures in middle school! No need to learn how to add 2 and 2, you’re going to have to draw a number line or sticks in middle school to add it up!! Of all the ridiculous things!!”

 

math1 001 math2 001

How the College Board Politicized U.S. History by Stanley Kurtz

Reprinted with permission from Stanley Kurtz: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/386202/how-college-board-politicized-us-history-stanley-kurtz

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The College Board, the private company that produces the SAT test and the various Advanced Placement (AP) exams, has kicked off a national controversy by issuing a new and unprecedentedly detailed “Framework” for its AP U.S. History exam. This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective. The College Board disclaims political intent, insisting that the new Framework provides a “balanced” guide that merely helps to streamline the AP U.S. History course while enhancing teacher flexibility. Not only the Framework itself, but the history of its development suggests that a balanced presentation of the American story was not the College Board’s goal.

The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching of American history. The goal is to “end American history as we have known it” by substituting a more “transnational” narrative for the traditional account.

This movement’s goals are clearly political, and include the promotion of an American foreign policy that eschews the unilateral use of force. The movement to “internationalize” the U.S. History curriculum also seeks to produce a generation of Americans more amendable to working through the United Nations and various left-leaning “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) on issues like the environment and nuclear proliferation. A willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution is likewise encouraged.

The College Board formed a close alliance with this movement to internationalize the teaching of American history just prior to initiating its redesign of the AP U.S. History exam. Key figures in that alliance are now in charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process, including the committee charged with writing the new AP U.S. History exam. The new AP U.S. History Framework clearly shows the imprint of the movement to de-nationalize American history. Before I trace the rise of this movement and its ties to the College Board, let’s have a closer look at its goals.

NYU historian Thomas Bender is the leading spokesman for the movement to internationalize the U.S. History curriculum at every educational level. The fullest and clearest statement of Bender’s views can be found in his 2006 book, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History. Bender is a thoroughgoing critic of American exceptionalism, the notion that America is freer and more democratic than any other nation, and for that reason, a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world.

In opposition to this, Bender wants to subordinate American identity to a cosmopolitan, “transnational” sensibility. Bender urges us to see each nation, our own included, as but “a province among the provinces that make up the world.” Whereas the old U.S. history forged a shared national identity by emphasizing America’s distinctiveness, Bender hopes to encourage cosmopolitanism by “internationalizing” the American story.

Bender laments that history as taught in our schools has bred an “acceptance of the nation as the dominant form of human solidarity.” The growing focus on gender, race, and ethnicity is welcome, says Bender, but does little to transform an underlying historical narrative built around the nation. Even the rise of world history in the schools has backfired, Bender maintains, by making it appear as though American history and world history are somehow different topics.

Bender understands that his transnational twist on American history has profound political implications. He complains that while working on his book (during George W. Bush’s presidency), “a discourse of exceptionalism and policies based on it became omnipresent in American public life.” Bender promises that his transnational framing of American history “will give little comfort” to the proponents of policies based on American exceptionalism.

He worries, however, that his globalizing approach to American history might be used to defend precisely the sort of “hegemonic” American foreign-policy he abhors. To prevent this, Bender urges that American history be taught, not only from an American point of view, but from the perspective of those who are subject to American power. “Americans have always found it difficult to imagine themselves as an enemy, as a problem for other people,” says Bender. By showing us ourselves through our enemies’ eyes, Bender hopes to promote humbler and more collaborative forms of American foreign-policy.

Bender complains about George W. Bush era foreign policy, not only in respect to war, but also in the matters of, “environment, trade, nuclear, and other policies.” Clearly, he hopes that his anti-exceptionalist vision of American-history will encourage a different approach to foreign affairs. Bender also openly hopes that students exposed to a less “national” version of American history will sympathize with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s willingness to use foreign law to interpret the U.S. Constitution, rather than with Justice Antonin Scalia’s rejection of foreign law as an arbiter of American jurisprudence.

In 2006, A Nation Among Nations provoked a sharp exchange between Bender and Brooklyn College professor of history, Robert David Johnson in the journal Historically Speaking. Going on the attack, Johnson calls Bender’s “transnational” version of American history, “little more than an attempt to ensure that students think a certain way about contemporary events.” Johnson warns Bender that “establishing as an outcome for high school history classes the judicial philosophy of Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer . . . will undermine support for public education among citizens who disagree with the preferred ideology.”

Bender parries Johnson’s charges of politicization with a non-denial denial. I offer no “rules for specific actions in the world,” says Bender, nor is my book about “any specific foreign policy.” But Bender doesn’t have to write a policy brief. To achieve his preferred policy results, he merely needs to inculcate a cosmopolitan sensibility and an abiding hostility to American exceptionalism. Bender also denies Johnson’s claim that he wants to “merge” high school U.S. history with World history, yet Bender clearly wants to integrate them in a way that subordinates the American national story to the transnational, globalist perspective.

To understand the deep entanglement of the College Board in Bender’s political and intellectual project, we need to return to 2000, when a group of 78 historians under the auspices of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) issued the flagship document of the movement to “internationalize” American history, “The La Pietra Report.” Bender authored that report, and it prefigures all the themes he develops in his later writings.

The report takes its name from the Italian villa where the meetings took place, from 1997 to 2000. The La Pietra Report makes much of the fact that those meetings were held outside the United States, and that nearly a third of the scholars working to forge a new U.S. History curriculum were non-Americans. One such scholar, in fact, was Cuban.

Francesca Lopez Civeira, of the University of Havana, participated in absentia, sending a paper on American power as “an object of fear” in Cuban historiography. That fit squarely into a central theme of the La Pietra Report, which urges that American students be exposed to evidence of the “controversial power and presence” of the United States beyond our borders, to the point where “one’s native land seems foreign.”

In common with Bender’s later work, an interim report on the 1998 La Pietra conference warns that a newly internationalized American history could inadvertently create a new “…American global city on a hill, the new model for a global culture and economy. There is a danger of a triumphalism that this history could fall into, thus becoming the ideological justification for the latest phase of capitalism.” Again, the La Pietra scholars try to prevent an internationalized history from justifying America’s global economic and military reach by focusing on how America’s alleged victims and enemies feel about the use of our power.

A conclave of historians with a left-wing foreign policy agenda, a third of them from foreign countries, seems an odd inspiration for the ostensibly non-partisan College Board’s redesign of the AP U.S. History Exam. Yet that is exactly what the La Pietra conference and its report became.

In 2002, two years after the appearance of the La Pietra Report, Rethinking American History in a Global Age, a collection of representative papers from the La Pietra conference was published, with Bender as its editor. At the same moment, the Organization of American Historians, which had sponsored the La Pietra Report, moved to strengthen its collaborative relationship with the College Board’s AP U.S. History program. This led to the formation in 2003 of a Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board on Teaching the U.S. History Survey Course. This Advisory Board focused its efforts on fulfilling the goals of the La Pietra Report. So by forging an alliance with the College Board, Bender and his allies discovered a way to transform the teaching of U.S. history.

Ted Dickson, who served as Co-Chair of the AP U.S. History Curriculum Development and Assessment Committee (the body that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework), was an original member of the joint panel seeking to advance the goals of the La Pietra Report.

In June of 2004, just as the Joint OAH/AP Advisory Board was searching for ways to reshape the teaching of U.S. history along “transnational” lines, Thomas Bender was invited to address hundreds of readers gathered to grade the essay portion of that year’s AP U.S. History Exam. Bender’s talk, still available at the AP Central website, reflects his political agenda. Speaking in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq, Bender argues that historians who offer narratives of American exceptionalism “bear some responsibility” for reinforcing “a unilateralist understanding of the United States in the world.” That attitude, says Bender, must be fought.

Offering an alternative, transnational history designed to combat American “unilateralism,” Bender says that Columbus and his successors didn’t discover America so much as they discovered “the ocean world,” a new global community united by the oceans. The oceans, in turn, made possible the slave trade and the birth of modern capitalism, which improved the lives of European, but brought exploitation and tragic injustice to the rest of the world. Bender concludes that early American history is only partially about “utopian dreams of opportunity or escape”. The beginnings of the American story, says Bender, are also deeply rooted in the birth of capitalism, and the “capture, constraint, and exploitation” this implies.

In other words, Bender wants early American history to be less about the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, and John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” speech, and more about the role of the plantation economy and the slave trade in the rise of an intrinsically exploitative international capitalism.

If the College Board didn’t fully understand the political agenda behind Bender’s La Pietra Report before his talk to the AP Exam readers, they had to understand it after. Yet instead of distancing themselves from this highly politicized and left-leaning approach to American history, the College Board redoubled its efforts on Bender’s behalf.

The OAH-AP Joint Advisory Board decided to publish a collection of essays that would serve as a how-to manual for adopting the recommendations of Bender’s La Pietra Report. So, for example, a scholarly essay on American “cultural imperialism” would be paired with a piece by a high school teacher explaining how the topic of American cultural imperialism could be adapted to the AP U.S. History course. Ted Dickson, future co-chair of the committee that actually wrote the new Framework, was chosen to co-edit this book, which was published in 2008 as America on the World Stage: A Global Approach to U.S. History. Thomas Bender wrote an introduction to the book explaining the philosophy behind the La Pietra Report.

A bit of the material in America on the World Stage—an essay on international responses to the Declaration of Independence, for example—could backfire on Bender by reinforcing an American exceptionalist narrative. Most of the essays in America on the World Stage, however, read like deconstructions of the American story, or catalogues of (alleged) American shame.

Consider the treatment of immigration, which was written by Florida State University historian, Suzanne Sinke, who co-chaired (with Ted Dickson) the committee that wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Sinke tells the tale of an early 20th Century ethnically Dutch woman who immigrated to America, merely to leave and go elsewhere. Traditional historians would not treat this woman as an American “immigrant” at all. And that’s the point. Sinke emphasizes that her goal in telling the story of a woman who merely passed through America without deciding to stay and become a citizen is to teach us “to think beyond national histories and the terms that are caught up in them.”

Ted Dickson’s companion piece on how to teach Sinke’s essay (co-authored with Louisa Bond Moffitt), suggests asking students why the term “migration” might be preferable to “immigration.” The answer is that “immigration” implies a specific and permanent national destination, whereas “migration” is simply about the movement of people across borders, without any reference to adopting a national identity. The political subtext is clear: national interest and national identity take second place to the interests of individual “migrants,” whose loyalties are ultimately “transnational.”

So just before they became co-chairs of the committee that redesigned the AP U.S. History Framework, Suzanne Sinke and Ted Dickson worked closely together on a project whose goal was to reshape the U.S. History Survey Course along the lines recommended by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

Lawrence Charap, the College Board’s AP Curriculum and Content Development Director, is in overall charge of the AP U.S. History redesign process. Presumably, Sinke and Dickson answer to him. So it is of interest that Charap wrote the companion piece in America on the World Stage to the scholarly article on American cultural imperialism. This scholarly treatment of American cultural imperialism, penned by left-leaning University of Michigan historian Penny Von Eschen, is relentlessly critical of America’s economic and military presence in the world. Eschen, for example, touts the Marxist tract, How to Read Donald Duck, by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelhart, as the classic treatment of American cultural imperialism. How to Read Donald Duck explores the subtle and sinister ways in which Disney cartoons advocate “adherence to the U.S. economic system and capitalist values and work ethic,” as if this was a very bad thing.

Charap’s essay highlights America’s commercial advertisements and anti-Soviet propaganda efforts in the Middle East during the Cold War. Charap seeks out off-putting examples of American propaganda and then suggests that students to put themselves in the places of people in the Soviet block or developing world as they respond to the American presence. This, indeed, is teaching students to see their country through the eyes of its alleged “victims” and enemies.

So the three people most immediately responsible for the writing of the new AP U.S. History Framework were intimately involved in the College Board’s effort to transform the teaching of American history along the lines of Bender’s La Pietra Report. What’s more, the AP U.S. History redesign process began in August of 2006, just about the time America on the World Stage was taking shape. Dickson, a co-editor of that book, was on the original redesign committee as well as the later one that actually wrote the new AP U.S. History Framework. Dickson himself notes that his work with the OAH (which largely focused on advancing the goals of the La Pietra Report) was a key factor in the College Board’s decision to appoint him to the AP U.S. History Redesign Commission. How can American conservatives, moderates, and even traditional liberals trust an AP U.S. History redesign effort led by figures who were so deeply enmeshed in a leftist attempt to reshape the American history curriculum?

A detailed analysis of the new AP U.S. History Framework is for another time. Suffice it to say that in its downplaying of America’s traditional national story and emphasis instead on material causation and exploitation within the context of a transnational Atlantic World, the new AP U.S. History Framework is a huge step in the direction of precisely the sort of de-nationalized American history advocated by Thomas Bender and the La Pietra Report.

It is also important to emphasize that the concept of American exceptionalism, which is systematically excised from, and contradicted by, the redesigned Framework, is an integral part of several state curriculum guides, including the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). That raises serious legal questions about the compatibility of the redesigned Framework with state standards.

This is not to say that Bender, the La Pietra Report, and the attack on American exceptionalism are the only important ideological influences on the redesigned AP U.S. History Framework. Several other important streams of political and intellectual influence have shaped the new Framework, and I will be detailing these in future reports.

It is true, of course, that as on much else, Americans are divided about how best to teach and understand U.S. history. This is precisely why the new, lengthy, and detailed AP U.S. History Framework is such a bad idea. The brief five-page conceptual guideline the Framework replaced allowed sufficient flexibility for teachers to approach U.S. History from a wide variety of perspectives. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone in-between could teach U.S. history their way, and still see their students do well on the AP Test. The College Board’s new and vastly more detailed guidelines can only be interpreted as an attempt to hijack the teaching of U.S. history on behalf of a leftist political and ideological perspective. The College Board has drastically eroded the freedom of states, school districts, teachers, and parents to choose the history they teach their children. That is why this change must not stand.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and can be reached at comments.kurtz@nationalreview.com.

Is the USOE gutting American history?

After emailing out a link to this set of resources showing concerns with the new AP U.S. History class (http://www.educationviews.org/huge-concerns-ap-u-s-history-resource-links/), I received the following email from Ammi Orton. With permission, I’m posting it here. Bolding is mine.

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It is not just AP U.S. History, I think that all the Utah public school’s U.S. History classes are changing based on recent information I received.  I have a daughter enrolled with Mountain Heights Academy.  They allow all their Juniors and Seniors, if desired, to take online courses directly through Weber State.  This year my daughter was enrolled to take Hist. 1700- American Civilizations.  This class is an overview of all of American History from European exploration, colonization and settlement, to the present. This class was supposed to count in place of her high school U.S. History class and for her American Institutions credit in college. 

Here is the email I got from her counselor last week-
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Hello students and parents,

We have just been informed today that USOE will no longer count HIST 1700 for the 1.0 US History requirement for high school graduation.  They will accept HIST 2710 instead.

Will you please let me know ASAP if you have registered for HIST 1700 for fall semester at WSU?  We will need to see if we can get you into 2710 instead.  You may still take 1700, but it would count for elective credit, and not US History.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but am glad that we are finding out now, and not after you have already taken the course!!

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We looked into it and found many interesting issues.  History 2710 is History of the U.S. since 1877.  This is the course that the Utah State Office of Education wants us to take in place of what they used to count.  By taking just this course, many things will be left out considering that leaves out the founding of our great nation, the establishment of the constitution, and many things that make the United States unique and help us understand our freedom. 

This makes me think that many things will be missing from here on out in all high school history classes.  I am not a history teacher, but it would be interesting to see what instructions start coming to them on what to teach and NOT to teach.

What is crazy is even Weber State does not see History 2710 as good enough to count for the American Institutions credit and if you take it, you also have to take History 2700- History of the U.S. to 1877 also.  Yes 2 classes are required in college instead of just 1 Hist 1700.  It appears that even they want you to have a better idea of the whole picture.  I know the requirement is the same at Snow College as well, you have to take both.

HIST 2700 History of the U.S. to 1877 (3) AND HIST 2710 History of the U.S. since 1877 (3)

Needless to say, we dropped the class and picked up a different General Ed. We will have to rethink the whole thing. She didn’t want to take more college classes right now.  To graduate she will still have to take U.S. History in High school and the college class we will probably have her do is POLS 1100.  It will count  for the required US Government & Citizenship in high school, and it meets the AI requirement in college, still killing 2 birds with one stone.  Good thing we have lots of books and study the founding of our country and early American History already.  The LEMI- Key of Liberty and Sword of Freedom classes are looking better and better to give a foundation of what is going to be intentionally left out in the public school system now.  What a loss!

Ammi Orton

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Oak: I find it interesting that the USOE is taking this action. Invite a board member to this page and ask them to dig into this. It would be tragic to further lose sight of our nation’s founding.

Common Core Teacher Indoctrination

Guest post by Randall Lund, PhD

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There is so much focus on the Common Core standards and the testing enforcement through SAGE testing that people may not realize that Common Core is also linked to standards for preservice teaching training and standards for the evaluation of inservice teachers.

In other words, the Common Core Crowd is now able to force colleges to teach both their standards and their methods. If colleges do not adopt the Common-Core-aligned teacher education standards and prove through an onerous data collection system that their program is compliant, their accreditation can be withdrawn. If accreditation is withdrawn from a college, their graduates may not be licensed by the states.

It used to be the case that colleges could choose which accrediting agency they wanted to work with. These agencies differed in their approaches and requirements. It should be no surprise that at the same Common Core was being developed, the two accrediting agencies merged into one national agency, the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP). Their web page is  http://caepnet.org

CAEP rolled out their teacher training standards in August, 2013. See them at  http://caepnet.org/caep-accreditation-standards/  These standards include the following requirement:

“1.4  Providers ensure that completers demonstrate skills and commitment that afford all P-12 students access to rigorous college- and career-ready standards (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards, National Career Readiness Certificate, Common Core State Standards) . . . ” (page 4)

Not only are teachers to be informed about the standards; they are to be trained to teach to those standards:

“These experiences integrate applications of theory from pedagogical courses or modules in P-12 or community settings and are aligned with the school-based curriculum (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards, college- and career-ready standards, Common Core State Standards).” (page 8)

Another link in the Common Core chain are the standards for inservice teachers known as InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards. These standards are used to evaluate both preservice teachers and the inservice teachers in the schools. Teachers who fail to comply can be denied licensure or (if already teaching) terminated. The CAEP, InTASC, and Common Core standards are all aligned:

“The Commission’s development of this standard and its components was influenced especially by the InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, the Common Core State Standards Initiative  . . .”   (page 6)

Now more about the InTASC standards. They can be found at http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/Interstate_Teacher_Assessment_Consortium_(InTASC).html

They are promulgated by the same people who developed Common Core: The Consortium of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). These are the people who own the copyright on the Utah reprinting of Common Core under the title Utah Core. The InTASC standards for teacher evaluation are also explicitly linked with Common Core:

“Specifically, this document has been reviewed to ensure compatibility with the recently-released Common Core State Standards for students in mathematics and English language arts . . .” (page 6)

An especially pernicious aspect of the CAEP and InTASC commitment to Common Core is that every standard for teachers includes the aspect of critical dispositions, in addition to performance skills and knowledge. In other words, preservice and inservice teachers not only have to act as required by Common Core, they are expected to show that they believe in Common Core as demonstrated by observable attitudes and values. A typical disposition requirement states:

“The teacher realizes that content knowledge is not a fixed body of facts but is complex, culturally situated, and ever evolving.” (InTASC, page 24)

Other typical disposition words are value, realize, is committed, understands. In other words, teacher educators, if so inclined, now have permission to require that teaching candidates prove that their indoctrination to Common Core has been successful:

“The [college teaching education] provider ensures that . . . candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary . . . ” (CAEP, p. 6)

In summary, the Common Core Crowd now has in place all the mechanisms needed to transformation education: the standards for students, the tests of student learning, and, as I have explained here, the standards for training new teachers and evaluating current teachers. It is true that Common Core is the lynchpin of the whole apparatus, but it will not be enough to get Common Core out of schools if schools keep hiring teachers committed to the Common Core approach and ideology.

You can read more about schools and their influence on the future of the country at countryschool.wordpress.com

Randall Lund

PhD, Curriculum and Instruction

randall.lund@byu.edu

How AIR wants to use big-data on our children

http://www.air.org/resource/long-story-short-how-are-rules-using-big-data-changing

Watch this video of Julia Lane, Institute Fellow at American Institutes for Research (AIR)—Utah’s testing agent for SAGE tests. The following are excerpts of some of her quotes, with my translations:

“It’s impossible to get informed consent about collecting big-data.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We can’t wait for you, the parent, to understand our need to collect your child’s data. We’ll need to change public policies at the federal and state level without your consent. We can unilaterally do this by lobbying legislators to stomp out your parental rights.”)

“Google knows where you are every single minute of the day”
… (TRANSLATION-”We couldn’t let Google have a monopoly over big-data, so we partnered with them in 2012. Now, we can drill down on what your child is doing and thinking. Luckily, your child will be using Google Chromebooks soon to learn and take SAGE tests. Once we get every child on a one-to-one device, we can continuously assess your child’s skills through the technology without them having to take a formal test—or be at school!”)

“The private sector has been using the data to make a lot of money.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We deserve to make obscene amounts of money, too, by tracking your child’s thinking patterns from PreK to Workforce. Then, we can manipulate their education data to spread the wealth right back into our coffers.”)

“In the public sector, we tend not to use those data.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We don’t see a need to follow ethical rules anymore. Everybody else is collecting big-data. We deserve big-data on your child! Your natural right to direct your child’s learning is getting in the way of US doing it. We deserve to control their learning!”)

“The good that is being lost is incalculably high.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We can’t save your child because you won’t let us track their personal learning. We must be able to track what they think from PreK to Workforce—for the good of the collective.”)

“The rules that exist are no longer clear and are probably no longer applicable.”
… (TRANSLATION-”We don’t think federal or state privacy laws are fair. We will unilaterally decide how Utah’s state policies will be changed so that we can track your child’s personal learning styles, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s for the good of the collective, of course!”)

Why I love computer adaptive testing

Short post by Jared Carman who helps articulate our position on computer adaptive testing.

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OK, I don’t love them. But I don’t hate them either. The problem with the SAGE tests is not the technology. It’s that the technology is being used by Big Business, Big Government, and Big Philanthropy to marginalize and usurp parental authority in education

Parents have the natural, and Constitutionally-protected primary role to direct the education of their own children. SAGE tests are a powerful cog in the centralized education machine: SAGE content is based on standards created by the CCSSO and the NGA; SAGE technology and databases are owned by AIR, a proud arm of UNESCO; and the whole centralized education movement is driven by USDE mandates/incentives/waivers.

We need to re-discover the “genius of small.” If vegetables and fruits are better grown locally, so are our children’s minds and hearts.

With the SAGE tests, 99.99% of Utah parents are locked out of SAGE test question development and review. After hours and hours of testing, every child finishes with a grade of 50%. Databases are filled with student data, visible to AIR and to the education elites, but parents are never given feedback in any useful form. The tests serve no purpose for students or parents, and exist only to serve the goals of whoever controls the centralized education machine.

A nail gun is a powerful tool that makes building houses very efficient. But a nail gun in the hands of a small child is unthinkable. Likewise, computer adaptive testing, and associated data gathering, are extremely powerful tools, that can help make learning more efficient. But allowing politicians and social engineers to wield these tools, in shaping our children’s minds and hearts, is unthinkable.

I am my kids’ dad, and I OPPOSE the SAGE tests.

Jared Carman

Why NCLB is better than Common Core

Working with state education officials, Senator Margaret Dayton led the charge against No Child Left Behind when it was introduced over a decade ago. She knew it was bad policy and spelled trouble for Utah.

I asked Senator Margaret Dayton to look at what I posted yesterday, along with Terryl Warner’s email (state board member) and Senator Dayton said both my article and Terryl’s comments are accurate. This is a real challenge to address. However, Sen. Dayton gave me some additional information showing that under No Child Left Behind, Utah now has a tool to give us greater flexibility and not be bound by some of the controls it implements.

Sidebar: Initially the state legislature was in favor of repealing NCLB in Utah. Then the feds threatened to take away our education funding, AND other non-education related federal funding. It was extortion and the legislature folded.

According to the Utah State Office of Education reports, we get anywhere from 8 to 12% of our education funding from the feds. According to Sen. Dayton, that comparatively small piece of money lets the feds set 90% of school policy. To learn the origin of “strings attached” in this manner, buy a copy of the small book, The Leipzig Connection. You’ll get an eye-opening account of how organizations like Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations wanted to change education policy and would donate small amounts, IF the receiving organization would just use it in certain ways…

Back to topic… The tool Sen. Dayton gave Utah is HB 135 – Implementing Federal Education Programs. It passed unanimously in the legislature in 2005. Here are some portions of what the bill did for Utah. Reverting back to NCLB would give Utah a lot more flexibility than it had when NCLB was first introduced. I do not know the history of how this law impacted things from 2005 when it was passed, till 2008/9/10 when Race to the Top, and Common Core reforms were applied for and adopted.

 

182          53A-1-903. Federal programs — School official duties.

183          (1) School officials may:
184          (a) apply for, receive, and administer funds made available through programs of the
185      federal government;
186          (b) only expend federal funds for the purposes for which they are received and are
187      accounted for by the state, school district, or charter school; and
188          (c) reduce or eliminate a program created with or expanded by federal funds to the
189      extent allowed by law when federal funds for that program are subsequently reduced or
190      eliminated.
191          (2) School officials shall:
192          (a) prioritize resources, especially to resolve conflicts between federal provisions or
193      between federal and state programs, including:
194          (i) providing first priority to meeting state goals, objectives, program needs, and
195      accountability systems as they relate to federal programs; and
196          (ii) providing second priority to implementing federal goals, objectives, program needs,
197      and accountability systems that do not directly and simultaneously advance state goals,
198      objectives, program needs, and accountability systems;

199          (b) interpret the provisions of federal programs in the best interest of students in this
             200      state;
             201          (c) maximize local control and flexibility;
             202          (d) minimize additional state resources that are diverted to implement federal programs
             203      beyond the federal monies that are provided to fund the programs;
             204          (e) request changes to federal educational programs, especially programs that are
             205      underfunded or provide conflicts with other state or federal programs, including:
             206          (i) federal statutes;
             207          (ii) federal regulations; and
208          (iii) other federal policies and interpretations of program provisions; and
209          (f) seek waivers from all possible federal statutes, requirements, regulations, and
210      program provisions from federal education officials to:
211          (i) maximize state flexibility in implementing program provisions; and
212          (ii) receive reasonable time to comply with federal program provisions.
213          (3) The requirements of school officials under this part, including the responsibility to

 

214      lobby federal officials, are not intended to mandate school officials to incur costs or require the
215      hiring of lobbyists, but are intended to be performed in the course of school officials’ normal
216      duties.
217          Section 6. Sectio

218          53A-1-904. No Child Left Behind — State implementation.
219          (1) (a) In accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, including Section 9527,
220      school officials shall determine if the No Child Left Behind Act:
221          (i) requires the state to spend state or local resources in order to comply with the No
222      Child Left Behind Act; or
223          (ii) causes the state, local education agencies, or schools to change curriculum in order
224      to comply.
225          (b) School officials shall request a waiver under Section 9401 of the No Child Left
226      Behind Act of any provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that violates Section 9527.
227          (2) In addition to the duties described under Subsection (1), school officials shall:
228          (a) request reasonable time to comply with the provisions of the No Child Left Behind
229      Act;
230          (b) lobby congress for needed changes to the No Child Left Behind Act; and
231          (c) lobby federal education officials for relief from the provisions of the No Child Left
232      Behind Act, including waivers from federal requirements, regulations, and administrative
233      burdens.
234          (3) School officials shall lobby Congress and federal education officials for needed
235      resolution and clarification for conflicts between the No Child Left Behind Act and the
236      Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
237          (4) In the case of conflicts between the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals
238      with Disabilities Education Act, the parents, in conjunction with school officials, shall
239      determine which program best meets the educational needs of the student.

Why Utah should not renew the ESEA/NCLB waiver

Utah is in the midst of deciding whether or not to renew our ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) waiver which is the waiver from some of the stringent requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mess. NCLB was a deeply flawed law that encouraged states to set the bar low so that the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements could be met each year. It included a number of onerous reporting requirements as well that put undue burdens on our schools. That said, the Common Core reform package has been called NCLB on steroids because its vast reach surpasses what NCLB envisioned.

One point of clarification before continuing, someone recently emailed me the technical review by the federal Department of Education for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools application for Race to the Top funds (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/2012/finalists/metropolitannashvillepublicschoolstn.pdf) . The federal reviewer of the application in section A1 states:

“A clear embrace of aligning curriculum, improving professional development, improving teacher quality through effective teacher evaluation, the Common Core Standards adoption, among others. The CCSS are, by definition, linked to college/career ready standards. Thus, the vision’s link to these is important with respect to connecting to the core assurances.”

Thus we know that all references to “College and Career Ready Standards” are by definition, Common Core Standards.

The waiver from NCLB that states applied for in 2012 contain 11 waivers from NCLB provisions that were mostly tied to AYP requirements and how states must utilize some Title 1 funds (Title 1 is for low income, disadvantaged students).

After the waiver section where states check the boxes requesting that waiver, there is a section called “assurances”. The second “assurance” by the states reads:

It will adopt English language proficiency (ELP) standards that correspond to the State’s college and career‐ready standards, consistent with the requirement in ESEA section 3113(b)(2), and that reflect the academic language skills necessary to access and meet the new college‐ and career‐ready standards, no later than the 2013–2014 school year. (Principle 1)

In Utah’s application for the ESEA waiver (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/ut.pdf), we read:

“The elements found in the Utah waiver application associated with Principles 1, 2 and 3 were in place before the application for waiver process began. The following details the variety of ways that diverse stakeholders, including teachers and communities, were informed and encouraged to provide input.”

So how did we put these principles into place before the application for waiver process began? Again from Utah’s waiver application document.

“Principle 1 College and Career‐Ready Expectations for All Students Stakeholder Consultation The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) adopted the College and Career Readiness Student Standards(CCSS) in June 2010.”

A big thank you to the state office of education for admitting that we adopted Common Core in June 2010, which was the same month Common Core standards were released.

The point here is that the ESEA flexibility waiver’s main “string” is that if you want released from the AYP requirements of NCLB, you have to be on Common Core. Now I haven’t researched what has happened to the few states who didn’t adopt Common Core and if they got their waiver applications through with the feds, but this waiver seemed to me to be a direct shot at those states telling them they needed to get in line and adopt Common Core or else continue with NCLB. There is a battle in congress right now over renewing NCLB. The House and Senate have different plans and there’s talk of eliminating it which is exactly what needs to happen. NCLB should face a “nullification” effort by the states to declare it constitutionally invalid because the federal government has NO authority to step into education. Education is a state issue.

Here’s a few more tidbits from Utah’s ESEA waiver application.

“Check here if you are interested in collaborating with the Department in this evaluation, if your request for the flexibility is approved.” (Utah checked this box and then provided this explanation)

“Utah is interested in collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts under Principle 2: State‐developed differentiated recognition, accountability, and support. Utah stakeholders have invested considerable time and expertise in the articulation of a comprehensive system for school accountability. The proposed Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS) includes three components: achievement, growth, and readiness. This system will result in a performance/growth target assigned to each Utah school, and is designed to improve student achievement and school performance, close achievement gaps, and increase the quality of instruction for all students.
This accountability approach is significantly different from Utah’s current accountability system. As Utah implements the UCAS, an evaluation of the impact of the system on Utah schools and communities is critical for the process of continual improvement and refinement of the system.”

In checking the box requesting collaboration with the feds, Utah gives further credence to the notion of federal involvement in our state education system.

“Establishing curriculum with high standards and relevance for all Utah children (Principle 1) In January 1984, The USBE established policy requiring the identification of specific core curriculum standards to be completed by all K‐12 students as requisite for graduation from Utah’s secondary schools. The Elementary and Secondary School Core Curriculum is defined in Board rule R277‐700.

The new Utah college‐ and career‐ready student standards for English language arts and mathematics provide a performance‐based pathway to ensure all students in Utah public schools are prepared with knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers for today’s economy. The Utah Core Curricula, which now incorporates these standards, is taught with respect to difference in student learning styles, rates, and individual capabilities without losing sight of established standards. (epic fail on this point) Professional development has been provided to LEA staff regarding the use of standards‐based (CCSS) individualized educational programs (IEPs) and alternative language interventions to address the instructional needs of students with disabilities and English language learners transitioning to the CCSS.”

All federal programs are essentially a one-size-fits-all approach to education. What has happened since the feds got involved in education a few decades ago? Massive spending increases, no improvement in education, and more kids on Ritalin.

The ESEA waiver should not be renewed because it gives credence to federal involvement in Utah education, it includes new strings by the feds that mandate the use of Common Core standards and other reforms, and NCLB just needs repealed/nullified so that states gain power and stop begging the feds for crumbs from the masters table. We also shouldn’t be setting policy through waivers but through laws. The only real solution to educational issues is a return to true local control where parents, teachers, and students collaborate on what’s best for their children’s education.

——————————-

Someone just forwarded me an email from Terryl Warner which is a well thought out email I thought I should include here. I don’t have responses to all of these items but I do stand by what I wrote above that we should be seeking to nullify federal education involvement.

Hi,

I appreciate your email regarding this issue and thought I would take a few minutes to respond.   It is my understanding that the ESEA waiver and the Common Core State Standards are two separate decision-making processes.   Whether we renew or don’t renew the ESEA waiver, we have adopted and implemented the Common Core State Standards and those will continue no matter the decision regarding the ESEA waiver.

I have researched the ESEA waiver over the past few months and this is what I have found:

**  The ESEA waiver waives the requirement to follow No Child Left Behind; No Child Left Behind was from the President Bush era and indicated that 100% of students would be 100% proficient in core subjects by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  It is my understanding that no school in Utah will live up to that goal.

**   The ESEA waiver allows us to use our own accountability measurements instead of the federal Department of Education accountability measures.

**   The ESEA waiver up for renewal would be for one year only.  In the last Board meeting we were informed that after the waiver is signed, we could always opt out of it at any time; however, if we made a conscious vote to not renew the waiver, we could not go back and try to get the waiver at a later date.

**   Utah receives about $500 million in federal funds; Title 1 funds (for low-income students) are at about $100 million of that allotment.  Title 1 funds are used primarily for reading and math programs, after-school tutoring programs, aides in the classroom, etc.

 

What happens if the ESEA waiver is signed:

**  Utah does NOT have to be compliant with No Child Left Behind.

**  Utah uses it’s own accountability measurements.
What happens if the ESEA waiver is NOT signed:

**    Even if Utah does NOT renew the waiver, we would still receive the Title 1 funds; however, 20% of the funds would immediately have to be set aside to provide provide before/after school services, transportation away from failing schools, restructuring school improvement plans, hiring private tutoring programs and hiring outside consultants to work with failed schools.   This equals approximately $23,221,997 in lost funds to schools.  How do we replace those funds?

**   Once the decision to not renew the waiver is made, the 20% set aside requirement would begin.  This means that we the State Board does not renew the waiver on Thursday or in August’s meeting, these changes would begin in our 2014-15 school year.  Please note that all Title 1 schools in Utah will be labelled failing schools.

**   Utah will not be able to use it’s own accountability measurement process; Utah will be required to use the federal process.

To me, if we do not sign the waiver at this point, we will be under more federal control as we will have to begin implementing the federal improvement program.   I have contacted the offices of Senators Hatch and Lee along with the offices of Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz; all have said that the federal government probably won’t replace No Child Left Behind for the next two years.  This puts us in a dilemma:  do we approve the waiver and allow local districts to use their Title 1 funding in a manner they choose or do we not sign the waiver and go back under federal control?

Here is my biggest concern:  I believe that if Utah does not want to renew the waiver, school districts need more than a handful of weeks to handle the financial loss; unfortunately, NCLB mandates would take place immediately.  It is my understanding from a number of principals  in my District (District 1), that the schools would take significant financial losses if the waiver is not renewed.  One idea I have thought about is to renew the waiver for one year only – this gives local districts the opportunity to determine how best to meet the 20% set aside requirement.   To move away completely away from any involvement with the federal government means Utah would lose about $500 million in education funds; I believe that if there is a movement to do this, local stakeholders (parents, community leaders, educators, administrators, elected officials, etc.) need to come together on a local level to determine how local school districts can best handle that significant of a financial cut.

I believe that before a decision affecting millions of dollars is made, we need to give local districts sufficient time to handle the financial impact and ensure the cuts do not outweigh the benefits and I struggle with the idea that we will have to set aside funds with little time to absorb those cuts.

Please let me know what you think about the idea of signing the waiver for one year; during that year, local districts and stakeholders work together to figure out how to absorb the set aside mandate in the 2015-16 school year.

Again, thank you for your input.

Sincerely,

Terryl Warner

District 1

Utah State Board of Education

Tying school records to other government databases

In an article just sent to me, comes further evidence that there are those seeking to tie school record systems to healthcare and other data systems. Utah’s P20W, federally funded, statewide longitudinal database, tracks our children from preschool through grade 20 and into the workforce. Marrying disparate database systems has long been a goal of central planners to know everything about everyone. Here’s a link to this article and the relevant point.

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

David Nash, M.D., founding dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Penn., is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the task facing the healthcare industry as it moves to population health management models. He shared some of his insights with Health Data Management recently.

http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/Registries-Key-to-Population-Health-Management-48202-1.html

Registries Key to Population Health Management

HDM: In a recent talk, you mentioned that data from so many sources that are not healthcare providers will have to be pulled in to properly serve the population served by Medicaid ACOs.

Nash: That’s the next stage. We are going to see the beginnings of promoting big data for population-based health analytics, and we recognize data systems concerning housing, poverty, smoking, and school attendance, just to name a few, all need to be connected.

“If they write what they think…they will fail the test”

Someone forwarded me this stunning story about an Arizona teacher who “participated” in the creation of Common Core tests.

http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2014/05/22/a-scathing-interview-with-a-5th-grade-teacher-who-was-in-the-room-when-common-core-was-being-created/

Here’s a snippet:

“A year ago (3/2013), the AZ Dept of Ed asked me to go to Chicago for a week to work on evaluating the writing/reading rubrics for the Common Core/PARCC test. I didn’t have an opinion on Common Core either way. I was curious and I wanted to see what the standards would look like in test form and how that might inform my classroom teaching, so I went. Most teachers were waiting for the Common Core test to come out for the same reason.

Teachers in AZ have a great deal of input into the state test. Teachers create the test and we had the ability to change or tweak test questions if we detected a bias or if we thought the questions or reading passages weren’t truly assessing our students’ learning.

Working on the CCore test was a very different experience and had 50 more shades of bureaucracy. My Common Core handlers weren’t interested in my questions about where the standards came from, who wrote them, who wrote the test questions, etc. If they did attempt an answer they usually parroted the phrase “Teachers were involved.” Something didn’t feel right.

My turning point came when in answer to questions I had about a student writing sample, my Common Core handler blurted out, “We don’t ever care what the kids’ opinions are. If they write what they think or put forth their opinion then they will fail the test.”

I have always taught my students to think for themselves. They are to study multiple views on a given topic, then take their own position and support it with evidence. “That is the old way of writing,” my Common Core handler sighed. “We want students to repeat the opinions of the ‘experts’ that we expose them to on the test. This is the ‘new’ way of writing with the Common Core.”

I discovered later that this was not just some irritated, rogue Common Core handler, rather this was a philosophy I heard repeated again and again. I pointed out that this was not the way that teachers teach in the classroom. She retorted that, “We expect that when the test comes out the teachers in the classroom will imitate the skills emphasized on the test (teach to the test) and employ this new way of writing and thinking.” This was a complete kick in the stomach moment for me.

After that I started to do research on the Common Core and read everything I could get my hands on for the year or so. The more I read the more disgusted I became about the Common Core and the governors who brought it into our lives.

I went back to Chicago again in November 2013 to review reading/writing questions for the Common Core/PARCC test. Again, I wanted to see the test questions and I also wanted to experience the Common Core with all the new knowledge I’d gained. After a week of work I was convinced of the correctness of my feelings and my research about the Common Core. During this visit I worked with Pearson and ETS on the questions they created for the test. Again we were just window dressing so that they could check the box that “teachers were involved.”

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