Bombshell: Duncan breaks law – NAEP Now High Stakes Test

NEW VENUE AND TIME: Please come to a protest on Thursday at 11:00 – 12:30 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, 230 West 200 South. The parking lot is shared with the US post office. Invite everyone you can, especially those with children with disabilities.

In a nutshell: Secretary Arne Duncan violated federal law seeking to punish state school disability programs, got caught big time, and a federal Dept. of Education official is here in Utah on a “routine” visit. Time for a protest.

What you are about to read should result in congressional hearings and Arne Duncan probably being fired as the US Secretary of Education.

Federal law sets forth certain things that can be done under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). No one may circumvent those laws. Only Congress can change laws, but because of the current Executive Branch’s agenda to bring states under federal control, grant-based regulations and mandates have increasingly been created by Secretary Duncan, in violation of the Constitution.

On June 24, 2014, Secretary Duncan circumvented congress and issued mandates for changes in the way state special education programs are evaluated. (

“To improve the educational outcomes of America’s 6.5 million children and youth with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education today announced a major shift in the way it oversees the effectiveness of states’ special education programs.”

He then went on to explain what changes he is mandating.

Eight U.S. senators prepared a letter explaining the violations of law involved in Duncan’s action and asked the Secretary a number of very pointed questions. Evidently, Senator Hatch from Utah walked that letter into a meeting, interrupting it, to deliver it to Secretary Duncan. The senators’ letter is embedded at the bottom of this article.

In essence, the mandate changes the way the school funding game is played by suddenly announcing that historical NAEP test score data will be used retroactively to evaluate federal funding on schools that have children with disabilities. As the senators’ letter points out this is a very clear violation of the law.

Duncan calls this new framework, “Results-Driven Accountability.” It’s simply unconstitutional and illegal. The press release states:

“Last year, when the Department considered only compliance data in making annual determinations, 41 states and territories met requirements. This year, however, when the Department includes data on how students are actually performing, only 18 states and territories meet requirements.”

Why are they so eager to tell states they aren’t meeting requirements? So they can enact more requirements. It’s the way things work for those in power. Tell schools they aren’t performing and then punish them with additional requirements.

Utah happens to be coming up short and is on the list of states that “need assistance.” The USDOE continues, “If a state needs assistance for two years in a row, IDEA requires the Department to take actions such as requiring the state to obtain technical assistance or identifying the state as a high-risk grant recipient.”

So Utah is at risk of losing federal funds due to the feds moving the goal post and mandating, against the rules of the game, that teams retroactively enact the new rules. Suddenly the score that was 14-0, is 0-0.

Now I’m no fan of federal funding in any respect and I’d love to see it abolished, but until we are able to accomplish that, this is an egregious violation of the law and should result in Duncan and maybe others being short-timers on the hill for their actions.

NAEP was supposed to be for a common set of data between the states and was mandated to never be used for high stakes testing determination.

So what kind of “technical assistance” does the USDOE have in mind?

“As part of the move to RDA, OSERS [Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services] will fund a new $50 million technical assistance center – the Center on Systemic Improvement – to help states leverage the $11.5 billion in federal special education funds which they currently receive to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. In addition, OSERS will be working with each state to support them in developing comprehensive plans designed to improve results for children with disabilities.”

Because so many states were suddenly deemed to be below threshold (without knowing that’s how they would be evaluated), we’re going to see a new federal “assistance” center because obviously the states aren’t capable of educating children with disabilities. We “need” that federal help…  (Oh, and Common Core isn’t being pushed by the feds either, of course.)

Interestingly, Gregory Corr, the Director of Monitoring and State Improvement Planning at OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs), is coming to Utah *right now* to do some type of investigation. This is beyond normal. Directors don’t go to states on “routine” visits.  I understand he will be at the State Office of Education on Thursday.

Please come to the protest on Thursday at 11:00 – 12:30 at Royal Wood Office Plaza, 230 West 200 South. The parking lot is shared with the US post office. Help tell the the feds to stop violating the law, stop violating Utah’s sovereignty, and stop messing with children with disabilities. It’s OUR education system. Lets give Greg a “warm” welcome. Bring your signs.


Secretary Arne Duncan Busted

What’s your tipping point?

Two stories I just received. What is it going to take for you to do more than sign a petition?

“My daughter, _______ who lives in ______, is on the Community Counsel for _____ High.  A few days ago in one of their meetings, the floor was opened for those on the council to express any concerns they have.  She brought up Common Core and some of the others indicated their concerns also, but a teacher that she knows personally, who was in attendance, said, “We are not allowed to mention Common Core.  It is now called Desk Standards–but it is really Common Core.”
Just thought that I’d pass that on.” -SS

“So I have to say that I’m pretty upset. I picked up my son from school today and asked how his day was. He told me he got earbuds today; when I asked him what for he said he was working on a tablet and needed them. He went on to tell me he was working on a program (don’t know what it’s called but he logged into and it was a match game. So when he made a match, the tone was a binaural beat. If he didn’t get the match correctly it “screamed at him” another binaural beat that he described… ‘it went through my body and made me shake, I was unable to type because it was like an electricity shock.’ I told the school that I did not want him using any portable device provided by the school. I was not informed about this, of course. Has anyone had their children mention something like this? I asked him if there are any of his classmates who do not participate but they all do. The teacher instructed the class that they cannot sit out on this exercise. – LP

When an untested math standards and curriculum are forced on children nationwide and their emotional, psychological, and intellectual abilities are not considered, you have a one-size-fits-all recipe for disaster and it boils down to institutional child abuse. What are you doing to help good candidates get elected this November?

Watch this second grader’s “love” of math after being in Common Core.


Jon Fidler wrote a great article here which contains this first bit from Leslie Castle. Please read the whole article.

After a parent expressed concern about an indoctrinating assignment to state school board member Leslie Castle, Leslie responded:

“It is my opinion that public school is a place for children to be exposed to, not indoctrinated by, many ideas and opinions that are found in the American landscape. I can’t imagine students leaving the public school system having only been exposed to the opinions and experiences that are found around their own dinner table. That would be true indoctrination and a travesty of true education.

To hide from your child the fact that many American’s do not share your view of gun rights would be indoctrination and social engineering, in my opinion. To explain to your child that all Americans have the right to have different opinions from their parents’ and from their own is a first step in the valuable lessons of social justice and self-actualization.”

Leslie, you would make the socialist/humanist education “expert” John Goodlad proud. Goodlad wrote, “A century has passed since the prescient educational historian Ellwood Cubberley wrote the epigraph with which this writing began: “Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”

“My only disagreement with his observation pertains to the implication of our owning children. We parents do not own our children; we just rent them for a while. Given the extent to which what he was troubled about has expanded, however, his reference to state ownership may well be appropriate.”

(2010, Washington Post, Goodlad on school reform: Are we ignoring lessons of last 50 years?)

Thank you Leslie for yet another reason we desperately need partisan elections…


Comments on Common Core Math Standards

This week I received two comments on the Common Core math standards which are worth reading and understanding. This first is from Ze’ev Wurman, a former member of California’s Academic Content Standards Committee, and a U.S. Dept. of Education official under George W. Bush. Someone asked Ze’ev about Euclidean geometry in Common Core’s standards. This is his response:

“Common Core did not throw out Euclidean Geometry. Common Core replaced the way the fundamental theorems of Euclidean Geometry (relating to triangle congruence such as ASA, SAS, SSS) are supposed to be proven in the classroom to an experimental method with a track record of failure. Consequently, proving Euclidean Geometry theorems is bound to be no more than arm waiving under Common Core, and the beautiful edifice of logical air-tight deductive geometrical reasoning is bound to be lost. To add insult to injury, Common Core only lightly touches on traditional body of theorems relating to triangles and circles, making it’s geometry a shallow course.

In Common Core’s defense one could argue that many Geometry courses already today give a short shrift to logical proofs and to exploring geometrical relationships of triangles and circles. This is true for some courses, yet not for all of them. What Common Core does is that it codifies such shallow treatment of geometry to be the normative one, forcing even serious courses to be dumbed down to mediocre and shallow levels.”

This next comment is from Dr. Wayne Bishop, mathematician at California State University. Long time opponent of fuzzy math, he helped bring down the awful standards California adopted in the 90’s that devastated their state, and brought about their excellent 1999-2000 standards and framework which were among the best in the nation prior to their downgrading them for Common Core. This letter was in response to one of the questions on Governor Herbert’s recent survey. I don’t know which question this was a response to. Emphasis mine.

Although the words claim otherwise, the effect is highly pedagogical in support of a philosophy called “constructivism” that has a long history of repeated failure. I was very active in replacing California’s model of such in the 1990s with superb standards, the California Mathematics Content Standards with approved curricula and consistent assessments. Regrettably, California made the same mistake as Utah to “buy into” the misguided Common Core State Standards mirrored in the Utah ones. The words that the CCSS-M are tied to the best international standards are simply meaningless. FAR better would be to abandon the Utah form of the CCSS-M and replace the document with the far clearer and appropriate former California Mathematics Content Standards.

One of the problems is a deliberate, but disguised, avoidance of competence with arithmetic in the early grades. They are filled with nice-sounding words that are essentially content-free; pedagogy trumps specified/testable competency that is so critically important through ordinary fractions, percent, and ratio and proportion word problems. The lack of confirmation of arithmetic competence is dismissed by professional math education “experts” by ubiquitous, and inappropriate, access to calculators. By contrast, Japanese classrooms look very different:

“Students sit in rows and are expected to listen quietly. Teachers rely on direct instruction rather than investigative mathematics, but although they ask few questions, the questions they do ask are useful in guiding student understanding.”

The biggest surprise was a shocking lack of technology in Japanese classrooms. “Not a single student pulled out a calculator during class,” Drickey said. There were no overhead projectors, televisions, computers or laptops.

“But lack of reliance on technology may lead to higher scores for Japanese students,” she said. “The ability to think mathematically, without the aid of an outside source, could help students process mathematical problems more accurately and efficiently.”

As an experienced professor of mathematics who has taught our course designed to prepare prospective high school geometry teachers (Math 430 Modern Geometry), I am especially appalled the geometry standards that, again, echo the CCSS-M. To actually prove congruence (much less similarity) using transformations instead of the traditional sophomore Euclidean geometry approach, is something that no high school student is capable of doing without exceptional leadership, in part, because it is in none of the available books. Instead of making the subject harder (as an honest treatment would), the effect is the removal of proof from the high school mathematics curriculum. The very words in the CCSS-M and Utah Standards pass traditional sophomore proof on to college geometry which denies high school students the greatest gift of the ancient Greeks to modern human thought, semi-formal deductive logic. Sin has many forms but one of its more insidious ones is failing to educate students to the best of our ability under the misguided notion that if it’s especially challenging for some students, water it down so that everybody can “succeed”.

Professor of Mathematics
California State University, LA


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.
“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:


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

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 (, I received the following email from Ammi Orton. With permission, I’m posting it here. Bolding is mine.


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-

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!!


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


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


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

CAEP rolled out their teacher training standards in August, 2013. See them at  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

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

Randall Lund

PhD, Curriculum and Instruction

How AIR wants to use big-data on our children

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.


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

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