Concerns

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.

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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.

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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.”

Letter to State Board Members on New Math Standards

To write the state board, send an email to: board@schools.utah.gov

Dear State School Board members,

I have reviewed the presentation the USOE has prepared for the math committee members on Thursday night (http://schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Agenda/docs/Tab11.aspx). I have a conflict and cannot come to make a public comment so I am emailing you my comments.

I see you are also discussing the search for a new state superintendent. I have honestly appreciated Superintendent Menlove’s outreach, particularly these last few months. He truly made an effort to be a good listener to concerns and also helped resolve them, particularly as families around the state had difficulty opting their children out of SAGE tests. That said, I believe it is time to hire from outside the education circles of Utah. There are people within the power structure that must be fired. It is very difficult for friends to fire friends. Political games are played to ensure their jobs. Hiring from out of state would allow someone to come in and clean house and give the USOE the course correction they need. Someone experienced with a top notch education system elsewhere would be an ideal candidate.

It is obvious from the USOE presentation to you just how biased they are toward maintaining CCSS in Utah. During the last legislative session they succeeded in getting a $2 million fiscal note attached to Rep. Layton’s bill to replace Common Core, so I am happy to see they have dramatically lowered that figure for your presentation. Replacing standards is not nearly as expensive as they want to make it look. In fact, I know they were telling people that adopting Common Core was free, while doing anything else was expensive. Common Core was not free, it was quite expensive, but since Bill Gates funded its multi-million dollar creation and we only had to spend some millions of dollars in Utah to implement it, I guess we can play the game that it was free.

There happen to be free or extremely low cost solutions that are far superior to Common Core.

In math, we could adopt California, Indiana, or Massachusetts’ pre-Common Core math standards which Fordham identified as clearly superior to CCSS. The wonderful thing here is solid textbooks were completely aligned for CA due to its population size, and assessments would most likely be available with a 100% match to those standards.

In English, we have the Massachusetts revision to their excellent ELA standards, which never got implemented due to MA adopting CCSS. We also have another set of “English Success Standards” written by teachers which is free and could be adopted for free. We also have a standing offer from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of the MA authors, to come to Utah for the cost of lodging and incidentals, and work with Utah teachers to create our own top of the nation ELA standards.

I was heavily involved in getting Utah the 2007 standards. In 2009, before the 2007 standards had even been fully implemented in the state, the USOE signed onto an agreement to develop CC. This caused a number of districts to slow or stop their roll out of the 2007 standards because they knew something else was coming. By 2010, CCSS was released and adopted so many districts never even fully rolled out the 2007 standards because of the speed with which they were replaced. For the USOE to say that only 44% of students on the 2007 standards would achieve the 66% college goal of the governor is a wild falsehood and a scare tactic. They have no idea. For them to say CCSS will achieve this goal is also a wild stab in the dark since these standards are an experiment that just begun. Fordham actually said our 2007 standards were clearer and stronger than CCSS. Further, the 2007 standards would have been even stronger if the USOE had not wholesale rejected the recommendations of Dr. Wu, the external reviewer from Berkeley, for those standards. Their disgust at having to replace our D rated prior standards showed through the process and we wound up with A- rated standards instead of what would have probably been A rated standards. What we had was superior to Common Core and what we would have gotten would have put us in line with states like CA, IN, and MA.

Further, it is a bald faced lie that CCSS were internationally benchmarked. That has been completely disproven. They are not “world class” standards. The only professional mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, who also writes standards and reviews international standards, refused to sign off on CCSS precisely for this reason that CCSS leaves us 2 years behind international competitors. CCSS is already damaging our children by pushing them too hard in early grades and too slow in upper, particularly due to the awful implementation of the integrated method by the USOE in order that they could push their constructivist agenda into schools with the awful MVP program. Our 2007 standards were supposed to have been internationally benchmarked against Singapore and Japan. Nicole Paulson at the USOE told the committee this would take place, but to my knowledge she never did it.

Utah must have a complete break from anything tied to the federal government. CCSS, regardless of who you think actually created it, has clearly been hijacked by the federal government in an effort to consolidate the powers of education and control the system. The best decision, I believe, is to grant control of standards to the LEAs and shatter the ability for the feds or even the state to affect truly local control. Lets set up the laboratories within the state. There are no parents in this state who are going to want less than a wonderful education experience for their children. We always talk about increasing parental involvement. This would maximize it from the standards perspective. If you’re not willing to do this, then I would strongly recommend adopting the excellent standards of California for which there are textbooks and a large test bank that could be accessed.

The USOE slide of supporters contains a practical who’s who of constructivist, Investigations math loving people, as well as others who are financially benefiting from the USOE. Of course they are going to support them in CCSS!

I wish there was time and space to comment on many other slides in their presentation, but it’s obvious they are biased on their perspective, and it’s obvious that there is a strong growing concern about the direction they are taking Utah. Nothing impacts someone like having their child who once loved math now hate it. It only hits home when it affects you, as several legislators have now had happen to them.

Please get Utah off anything close to CCSS and its one-size-fits-all “solution.” LEA’s controlling their own standards can innovate and do things they otherwise couldn’t do.

Sincerely,

Oak Norton

BYU Math Professor Speaks Out

Last week I received an email from Dr. Tyler Jarvis, the head of BYU’s math department from 2006-2012. A letter had been sent out from the state office of education regarding their Common Core curriculum which they began developing when Common Core was adopted. The program is called Mathematics Vision Project (MVP), and it’s anything but visionary. Here is the USOE (Utah State Office of Education) letter and Dr. Jarvis’ response.

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The Utah State Board of Education will be discussing secondary mathematics standards in a study session at 6:45 pm on Thursday evening (June 5th) and will be taking action on Friday at approximately 3:30 pm.  A recent survey of all elementary teachers and secondary mathematics teachers found that the majority of elementary teachers are positive about the standards and implementation efforts and about half of the secondary mathematics teachers expressed satisfaction with implementation.  However, the majority of both groups have asked us to stay the course and just make improvements where needed.  This is not the message our policymakers are hearing from parents and community members who contact them.  You will find the Board agenda posted at http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings.aspx starting on Monday, June 2nd.

Thank you for your hard work on behalf of Utah students!  We appreciate you.

Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator

Secondary Mathematics, Teaching and Learning

Utah State Office of Education

President

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Who runs public education Diana? Taxpayers. And when you implement a program that taxpayers don’t like, policy makers should listen to taxpayers/parents concerns and act accordingly. Having spoken with school teachers who say their entire math department hates Common Core, I seriously doubt that you have a majority of teachers asking you to stay the course.

Here is Dr. Tyler Jarvis’ letter to the state board, speaking for himself and not BYU. (Emphasis mine)

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Dear Board Members,

I am a professor of mathematics and a father of six children in the Utah public school system. I am deeply committed to public education.

I have recently become aware that the state school board is planning to review the MVP Math curriculum, which is the Utah State Office of Education’s version of the common core integrated math in grades 9-12.

I am writing to express my deep concern over this curriculum.  

To be clear, I should tell you that I am NOT inherently opposed to the ideas and standards in the Common Core.  But the particular implementation that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) has chosen, MVP Math, is absolutely terrible.

Writing good math textbooks is hard work and requires both extensive content knowledge and substantial pedagogical skill.  MVP Math appears to have been dashed off in a great hurry by people who have neither content knowledge nor pedagogical skill.

The exposition is inadequate, confusing, and often just missing entirely.  Definitions, which are essential for clear thinking and are the foundation of all mathematics, are missing.  Unlike a well-designed curriculum which builds on itself and re-uses concepts that were taught earlier, MVP math has assembled topics in a way that feels random, with unrelated topics being tossed in together, one after another.

Many parents have come to me to ask why they and their children suddenly can’t understand the school mathematics curriculum.  These are children who were doing well in mathematics until Utah adopted the new curriculum.  These are parents who did well in mathematics in high school and college and should have no trouble understanding the basic content being taught, but it is so poorly written, so confusing, that they can’t make sense of it.

My own son had such difficulty with the MVP curriculum, that I finally took him out of his public school mathematics course.  Because of his IEP we were able to get him enrolled in a traditional algebra course, which he finds much more understandable.  He is now succeeding, where with MVP math he was having terrible problems.

I dread the day that my other children reach high school and have the MVP math inflicted upon them.  I also worry very much about the additional remediation I will have to do with graduates of the Utah system when they arrive at my college classroom.

In a recent USOE survey roughly half of all High School Math teachers stated that they were unsatisfied with the current implementation.  This is especially significant because the people running the survey–the USOE–are precisely the people who chose this awful implementation, AND they control many aspects of these teachers’ employment.  Yet, half of these teachers were brave enough to state they are unsatisfied with the current implementation.

Mathematics is fundamental to success in the modern world.  It is my considered opinion, as an experienced teacher of mathematics, that MVP Math will severely threaten Utah children’s ability to compete in the international workforce.  

The United States is already doing much worse at teaching our children mathematics than most developed countries. We’re not just worse than China and the rest of Eastern Asia–we are also below most of Europe, including Spain, Russia, Poland, Estonia, and Latvia.  And Utah children are scoring well below the US average.

This does not bode well for our children.

We must replace MVP Math with texts that are well written, by people who know what they are doing.  

The USOE employees responsible for curriculum, and especially mathematics, have failed our children.  Please, let’s replace this awful text.

Tyler Jarvis

-Professor of Mathematics
-Former Rock Canyon Elementary School Community Council member
-Recipient of the Savage Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching of Mathematics.
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Thank you Dr. Jarvis for speaking out. Folks, please ask the state board to replace these people at the USOE. They actively fought the improved 2007 math standards over the prior D rated standards, they adopted Common Core in a hurry and when Dr. David Wright at BYU warned them there were no integrated math textbooks available and this was a bad idea to rush into it, they said not to worry, they’d be creating their own. Their own is MVP and it’s a constructivist disaster. Time to replace people.

AP History Gutted by College Board

David Coleman, architect of Common Core and president of the College Board which oversees AP tests, SAT, ACT, and CLEP tests, has produced a new AP U.S. History framework that guts the Founding Father’s role in our country. George Washington gets one mention. Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, NONE. Declaration of Independence, one mention in a clause of one sentence. Instead of a 5-page outline for teachers about the topics the test will cover, it’s now a 98-page document that dictates how teachers should teach.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/28/The-College-Boards-Attack-on-American-History

“At a conference recently held in Atlanta, Lawrence Charap, head of the College Board’s History and Social Sciences Content Development Group, told high school teachers that the new AP U.S. History course and exam will eliminate the unnecessary memorization of irrelevant facts and replace actual knowledge with ‘historical thinking skills.’”

Everything done under Common Core is done under the banner of improving thinking skills. Every day we see more of this garbage coming out. I think it’s time Utah moved for greater separation from not only Common Core, but perhaps the College Board as well.

Utah already has a concurrent enrollment system where students can get credit in high school through their classes. This needs to be greatly expanded in order to preserve some state control over the content of coursework. It’s completely apparent that David Coleman and the College Board (and his creation Common Core) are not interested in teaching truth, but pushing an agenda. Please write your state school board member and legislators and ask them to read this article, and consider what Utah can do to step away from AP History in favor of a rich history curriculum founded in truth and providing college credit to high schoolers. Utah needs its own solution to this problem.

 

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Addendum:

Here is further analysis of the new AP History curriculum by the Heritage Foundation, pointing out how “unbalanced and biased” it is, unit by unit.

http://heartland.org/policy-documents/analysis-college-board-ap-us-history-framework

Student experiences extreme psychological SAGE testing

Don’t miss this interview with a 13-year old in Southern Utah who took the SAGE test and experienced extreme psychological testing conditions.  It’s not known how widespread these test conditions were for Utah students, but this is nothing more than a very disturbing experiment on our children. To opt your children out of SAGE tests, click here for an opt-out form.

 

Conflict: Common Core Testing Company VP Evaluating NCLB Waivers

In 2001, amid plenty of controversy, the U.S. Congress passed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. This law placed impossible demands on states, such as requiring 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2014.

As 2014 began to approach, everyone knew this “goal” was impossible, so in September 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced that states could seek “flexibility waivers” for the requirements they must meet under NCLB. The states had to meet certain new requirements set by the USDOE, including adoption and implementation of “college- and career-ready” standards and assessments: a.k.a. Common Core.

In November 2012, the Utah State School Board announced it had accepted a bid to build Utah’s new assessment system from the American Institutes for Research (A.I.R.), a behavioral research company based in Washington, D.C.

Curiously enough, that same company had one of its vice-presidents serving as a reviewer of NCLB waivers. A.I.R. vice-president Sabrina Laine was appointed in November 2011 to review applications from the states for No Child Left Behind waivers. AIR is the official partner of SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) who was one of two federally funded testing consortiums. So one of the two organizations writing federally funded Common Core-aligned tests gets to help decide whether waiver applications are acceptable? Something’s not right here.

 

Are there really Common Core librarian standards?

Yup. Because if there’s one thing you want is a set of standards for librarians in how they deal with patrons! :) Sent in today by alert citizens, check this out.

Tiffany Hall at the USOE sent out this letter:

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Dear parents:

School librarians are an important part of a school community. They are licensed teachers who work with students to promote research and inquiry skills, media literacy, and reading engagement. Over the years, their responsibilities have evolved as resources and techniques have changed. These changes are reflected in the 2014 revision of the Utah Standards for Library Media.

Over the last year, these Standards have been revised by a committee of library media experts from Utah schools, communities, and universities. On Friday, May 9, the Utah State School Board reviewed and discussed the Utah Standards for Library Media (grades 6-12). They voted to allow the Standards to move forward to public comment. On Monday, May 19, the Standards were posted on the USOE website for all interested members of the public to comment after reading them.

Review, insight, and comments from all stakeholders in Utah—teacher librarians, teachers, administrators, and parents—are a critical part of this public comment session! Please read them and submit your feedback before August 17, 2014.

After the public comment session, all comments will be reviewed and incorporated as appropriate into the Standards. The final document will be presented to the Board for their review.

Click here to go to the revised Standards and the link to the public comment form.

Thank you!

Tiffany Hall

K-12 Literacy Coordinator/Library Media

Utah State Office of Education

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The parent who sent me this commented with this:

Please take a quick look at the new, USOE-approved Utah Standards for Library Media, and then comment on the USOE Web site before Aug 17, 2014. Here is one of the standards you might find interesting:

1.2.4. Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information. [emphasis added]

To me, this exemplifies how Progressive education teaches children to doubt the existence of truth (moral relativism), while Classical education teaches children to confidently and logically pursue truth.

Always be polite when you leave comments. :)

Another parent pointed out that Gate’s funded Achieve published their CC implementation guide for librarians in Oct. 2013 and now we see Utah creating Common Core librarian standards. Utah certainly doesn’t act like its in the driver’s seat with anything related to Common Core. If “they” build it, Utah will follow. http://www.achieve.org/files/CCSSLibrariansBrief-FINAL.pdf

Now let me take this path on moral relativism on questioning the validity of ALL information. This is what educators call “critical thinking skills” and national educators define it as critically thinking about everything you’ve been taught…at home.

“…educators must resist the quest for certainty. If there were certainty there would be no scientific advancement. So it is with morals and patriotism.”
– John Goodlad / Education for Everyone: Agenda for Education in a Democracy, Woods Learning Center, pg. 6

[schools] should liberate students from the ways of thinking imposed by religions and other traditions of thought.”
-John Goodlad, “Education and Community,” in Democracy, Education, and the Schools, Roger Stone, pg. 92.

“…a student attains ‘higher order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong. A large part of what we call good teaching is a teacher´s ability to obtain affective objectives by challenging the student’s fixed beliefs. …a large part of what we call teaching is that the teacher should be able to use education to reorganize a child’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.”
-Benjamin Bloom, psychologist and educational theorist, “Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” pg. 185

Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished …
-Bertrand Russell, quoting Gottlieb Fichte the head of psychology that influenced Hegel and others.

Have they been successful in the public education system? Absolutely.

Research shows that 70% of children stop attending their church within 2 years of graduating from high school.

The Pew Institute also shows Millennials as turning away from their family’s faith.

We are in a culture war. Common Core is just a powerful piece on the chess board, but it’s not about Common Core. We have to go back to the root of the evil tree to see the anti-God, socialistic thinking that went into this plan to capture children. John Dewey is one of the heads of the hydra who is admired by educators. He said this:

“I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends. I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”
-John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed, January 1897

Common Core isn’t the ultimate problem. It’s the system’s design that is at the root of the problem. If you want to take down the system, you have to understand true principles of education. I strongly encourage you to go to www.agencybasededucation.org, read the 5 principles and mission statement on the home page, get on the mailing list, and like the organization on Facebook. Each year there is a conference held in November. This year, one of the speakers will be Neil Flinders, author of “Teach the Children: an Agency Approach to Education.” Neil inspired me to form this organization and you won’t want to miss this event as he is an authority in this very area and will be presenting on educational philosophy.

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