Category Archives: Concerns

Letters from Science Teachers to Sup. Smith

Brad Smith, state superintendent
Brad Smith, state superintendent

Here are a couple of letters science teachers have sent to State Superintendent Brad Smith regarding the Common Core (NGSS) Science Standards.

 


 

Dear Supt. Smith:

It has come to my attention that you are under the impression that science teachers unanimously believe the Next Generation Science Standards are what Utah needs. I would like to go on the record as a Utah 6th Grade Science teacher that does not believe we should adopt the NGSS for Utah. I would like to share with you some thoughts I have about the proposed standards and I hope you will take the time to read this. I appreciate you doing so!

I have personally written letters to every state school board member, my principal, and my superintendent whom I gave permission to forward my letters to other individuals with interest in this subject including the Governor’s office. I have also attended a public meeting put on by the USOE and voiced my concerns publicly in that meeting. All of the middle school science teachers in my school (6th through 8th Grade) have also met with a local school board member, and our state school board representative, Terryl Warner, where our concerns were shared and documented. I have spent nearly 20 years in a 6th grade classroom. Five of those years in an elementary setting, the rest in a middle school. I currently teach science exclusively with the exception of one period a day when I teach reading. I have a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and was part of the committee at the Utah State Office of Education in 2013-2014 to write the 6th Grade Science OER (Open Educational Resource) Book. I share that with you only to show that my experience with 6th grade science is extensive.

I first previewed the drafts of the proposed new standards in September 2014 at a conference at Weber State University. At that time, we were told that the changes to the standards were made by a large group of teachers and experts in Utah. We were not given copies of the drafts and it wasn’t until they became public that I was then able to do a google search on the actual verbiage of the new standards to find that they are in fact word for word exact copies of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with different numbering. It is disturbing to me that the USOE presented these new standards to a group of current Utah science teachers as being written by Utah teachers when clearly they were not. Since that time the state office has admitted that the drafts are indeed word for word copies of the NGSS and teachers only helped in choosing root questions for them and which standards would go with which grade levels.

I am not opposed to making changes to the current standards. With that being said, I was surprised by the fact that virtually all the science concepts we have been teaching in 6th grade are not part of the new standards with the exception of heat energy. The new standards are very environmentally heavy and move from talking about microbes, heat, light, sound energy, space and astronomy to mostly global warming and human impact on the environment. My concern about this move in 6th grade is two-fold. First, the concepts currently being taught in 6th grade are exciting to the students. They are engaged in the many hands on labs that naturally fit with the current standards. This piques an interest in the sciences that is healthy and strong for students moving into secondary education. In my opinion the new proposed standards are not exciting topics for 11 and 12 year-olds, nor are the students mature enough at this age to sift through all the information and misinformation that is out there about global warming (One of the performance tasks required in the new drafts). It’s not that I don’t think students should learn about these topics, it’s that I don’t believe it should be in the 6th grade curriculum. I think it’s important to note this because I believe the Next Generation Science Standards were not written by anyone who has spent the last 20 years in a room full of 6th graders. If we are trying to prepare students for future science and engineering jobs, adding performance tasks and engineering objectives to the current content would seem much more appropriate to me. This could easily be done if the new standards were truly written by a team of Utah teachers, Utah college professors, and Utah scientists with input from Utah parents. Second, changing the content so drastically puts a huge financial strain on Utah 6th grade teachers. Elementary level teachers are not given a budget for science, (even if they teach in a middle school setting). ALL 6th grade teachers in the state of Utah will have to start over buying science lab materials using money from their own pockets.

Lastly, my biggest concern with the NGSS is that key science concepts are missing that will leave gaps in learning. Why is matter and energy repeated throughout 6th-8th grade as almost an overkill of that subject whereas other key science concepts are completely removed from the new standards. This is very concerning to me as a 6th grade science teacher. Please talk to more science teachers around the state about their opinions of the proposed drafts. I am sure there are more than you think that believe adopting the NGSS is not the direction we should be going.

Thank you for your time to read and consider my thoughts,

Dana Wilde

Morgan Middle School 6th Grade Science Teacher

Morgan County School District


 

Dear Mr. Norton

My name is _____ I am an elementary teacher in southern Utah. In the past I have taught 5th/6th grade science. I am only a part time teacher so you can understand that I would be concerned with the State superintendent knowing my name so I would appreciate it if you removed my name when you passed this on to him.

Dear Superintendent Smith,

I have taught 6th grade science for the past two years, the new science standards that Utah is trying to adopt are not a good fit for Utah. I and at least one other 6th grade teacher that I know of, did the survey and expressed our concern for the new standards. So your understanding that most science teachers like the new science standards which come from the NGSS is incorrect.

I have several problems with the NGSS that are listed below.

1) They are a one size fits all set of standards, they do not take in consideration Utah’s unique geology, agricultural economy, & its people.

2) They have severl political standards such as “6.2.4: Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century”, “6.4.1: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment” and “6.4.3: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems”. These are very odd requirements to put in a 6th grade science standards. These belongs in a college level environmental debate class not in a 6th grade classroom.

3) I have seen the other NGSS standards for the lower grades and they do not allow a teacher to delve deep into each concept. They require a very shallow teaching of the standards. I understand that the theory behind this is that each year will build on the previous year. That is not how younger minds work. Students need an understanding that they can take with them to high school. They need to be exposed to the basics of many different sciences. If we did a scope & sequence that would work better then this.

4) The man who brought us this, Brett Moulding, is the same man who brought us the last set of standards that everyone complains about. If the last set of standards were not acceptable why would we take his word that these ones would be any better.

5) I know that many people are circumspect about the Fordham Institute report on the NGSS Standards but isn’t it worth a second look. This report for 2013 states that Utah’s current science standards are superior to the NGSS that the USOE is considering. Why can’t there be an open debate between representatives on both sides? Instead of just shoving one opinion to the side. That goes against scientific inquiry. All sides must be heard before an assessment can be made. Here is the link to that report http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7.pdf

These 5 reasons are just scratching the surface about what I feel is wrong with the new Utah science standards, but i know that you are a busy man so I thought these would be worth thinking about. I am doing this anonymously because of the tensions that are surrounding this and other common core standards. I don’t have faith that those of us that have a different opinion will be allowed to voice our opinions without repercussions. I love teaching, I love helping young people discover their potential but these standards are stiffing my ability to do just that. I will never sabotage my students learning for a political agenda but I think that we all want the same thing. We want what is best for our students so we need to come together and figure that out. It would be hard, long, & arduous but worth it in the end. Thank you for your time.

Southern Utah 6th grade teacher

Special Education Student Tragedy in Utah (and probably elsewhere)

I engaged in the following shocking email exchange with a Utah teacher this past week. Underlined text is my emphasis.

We are rapidly losing any semblance of local control of our schools thanks to the national reform movement led by people like Bill Gates and Jeb Bush.


“Oak,

You have opened my eyes today to the UN.  I did a little research–and it was not much before I came across this statement in the Preamble to The Korean UN World Education Conference 2015 for goals 2030: “No education target should be considered met unless met by all. We therefore commit to making the necessary changes in education policies and focusing our efforts on the most disadvantaged, especially those with disabilities, to ensure that –no one is left behind.”  Sound familiar?  We have been in the process of dismantling special education resource classes as they have been traditionally taught and are being assimilated into regular education as tutors teaching CC standards.  The transformation is almost complete and nobody is the wiser.  It defies the existence that a disability even exists.  Unbelievable!

Special Ed teachers are told just to service (foretold) classified students in the regular classroom on the common core and not the remedial curriculum adapted specifically for students with disabilities.  The district will begin to monitor that we do.  A great deal of classified students have focus issues so it will be a real challenge.  Nothing special about special ed. anymore.  Regular ed. teachers don’t know what to think and are shell shocked by all the changes–a lot of going along out of fear and behind-the-scenes resentment and verbal defiance.  We lost a lot of really good veteran teachers in May because they differ with new administration who are very black and white and switching things up a lot–and we are the (figure removed) highest academic school in the state, historically.”

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Oak: I asked for clarification at this point about how this was taking place and if SE students were being forced into regular classrooms, and if all the teachers were upset and this teacher replied with this:

**

“No, our students remain classified, but we don’t pull classified students into small SE groups or use specialized curriculum targeted at the disability any more.  We now go out into the regular classrooms and work under the direction of regular ed teachers to target learning of classified students–or perhaps sometimes regular ed. students, who need to access the common core.  It is now all about the CC.  Big paradigm shift.

Yes about everyone being upset.  We hear it is all based on some government research back east in Virginia and everyone needs to just do it.  They bring in an outside expert, Mike Mattos, to indoctrinate staff a couple of times a year and talk as if every school is the same and needs to do the same thing.  I have worked at a Title 1 school and my current demographic high income school.  They are totally different worlds in my opinion and do NOT have the same needs.  Mattos talks a lot about what corporations will need and that, “the business of schools is to supply those needs.”

Mike is linked to the Annenberg Institute for school reform.  Just found this:

The College Readiness Indicator System network, also referred to as CRIS, is a joint effort of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) and the John W. Gardner Center (JGC) at Stanford University, and is generously funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here’s an article by Mike.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr13/vol70/num07/How-Do-Principals-Really-Improve-Schools%C2%A2.aspx

I have seen a huge reduction in recent years in SE district wide training and collaboration between schools in district so it is hard to know what others outside one’s school think.  District trainers just come to your individual school now to give top down training and don’t ask for input.  When I first joined the district in ____ all schools were “site based managed” and everyone said so.  That has all disappeared.

To be honest, socialist corporate/national collusion I have suspected over the past decade, and am now experiencing at work is frightening and angering me at the same time.  I never thought I would have this kind of fear about my own country–I am very upset!  I struggle to sing the national anthem and say the pledge each morning with my students with what I now know.  I often think about informing the principal that I can no longer do it and not to be surprised.  I feel citizens and children are manipulated, duped and it isn’t even hidden anymore.  I feel educators have been stripped as professionals, used, lied to, and controlled.  I have loved my career for over 30 years but now feel like a pawn forced to indoctrinate innocents with humanistic thinking and ideas I don’t believe in to benefit the wealthy who I loath and resent.  Technology, greed and the drumbeat of feigned equality have blindly robbed liberty and that saddens me.  This all reminds me the “The Children’s Story, But Not Just for Children” by James Clavell.

http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-childrens-story-by-james-clavell/

Use what you want from my emails but I wish to remain anon.”


 

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Oak again: Hearing things like this makes one wonder what the real agenda is behind the Gates Foundation sponsoring eugenics conferences…

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/06/melinda_gates_talks_eugenics.html

STEM – Ask yourself “why?”

JaKell Sullivan posted this on Facebook and with permission I’m reposting it here.

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STEM. Ask yourself “WHY?”

I wish more and more parents were making the connection between the “why” of federal funding behind Common Core and STEM. If you have not read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, please read it and then read it with your children. The book’s “State Science Institute” actually offers us a window into the world we are now entering–state controlled science.

The federal administration is not funding STEM (and state governors are not accepting federal grants) to improve learning in those fields. They are funding STEM fields to change our children’s worldview, ie; to use technology, data and psuedo-science to further state power and control, and advance social justice.

Arizona State University is creating the ‘New American University’ (the blueprint for aligning colleges to Common Core). They are eliminating 40 schools within the college. There are no longer science disciplines in their own schools. For example: “Biology, microbiology, and plant, molecular, and cell biology merged to become the School of Life Sciences. There is also now a School of Human Evolution and Social Change, School of Earth and Space Exploration, School of Social and Family Dynamics and School of Social Transformation.”

Remember when science used to be the search for truth? And when education was about learning history and the wisdom of the ages, not advancing social justice causes?
See: http://hechingerreport.org/is-arizona-state-university-the…/

This is why federal grants are pushing and more low-income minorities (including children from Mexico) into these STEM fields. The poorest can be used to propagandize the rest. Data can hold and perpetuate the values of those in power. As more and more girls are pushed into these fields, their hearts will be turned inside out—trusting in the “science” of data rather than the still small voice that is their divine, nurturing gift as women.

See the point below about “reverse engineering the brain” in the federal Grand Challenge.

The federal government is funding the following entities who have “committed” to federal goals for what it means to be STEM educated:

• STEM Americorp
• US2020 – US2020 is expanding its city-level STEM mentoring network. The long-term goal of US2020 is to mobilize 1 million STEM mentors annually by the year 2020. (Ask yourself, why is the federal government so desperate to get 1 million STEM mentors in America?)
• Federal agencies
• Technology companies
• Early career scientists (ie; get the young teachers on board by pairing them with mentors)
• Teachers (the NOAA, NASA and Dept. of Ed are launching “teacher-led” efforts to showcase approaches addressing climate change)
• Philanthropies
• Corporations
• CEO Coalitions
• Education Campaigns
• Grant programs
• Universities and Colleges (more than 120 are committed to train 20,000 engineers to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of the 21st century. The Grand Challenge will include topics like “reverse engineering the brain” and “making solar economical.”
• Library programs
• Museum programs
• K-12 and College Curriculum
• Online assessments
• Children’s television shows and media programs (Applicants are also encouraged to develop new models of embedded assessment and learning systems that adapt as children use them.)
• Youth organizations like Boys & Girls Glub, National 4-H Council and YMCA
• Citizen Science Initiatives (track rain, hale and snow to investigate man-made climate change)
….and on and on.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/23/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-over-240-million-new-stem-commitmen

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To continue with the engaging comments and additional information this post generated, please go here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/utahnsagainstcommoncore/permalink/1841210999438302/

Another article on this topic is here:

https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/wybi-stem-to-steam-ties-to-common-core-pt-1/

Utah teacher speaks out on charged curriculum

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

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

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

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

 

Controversial Science Standards Replace Ethics and Transparency

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

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

“States and territories…that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright Notice provision of this License.”

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

“States and territories of the United States as well as the District of Columbia that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright Notice provision of this License.”

[removed]
 Ownership of NGSS

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

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

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

Clear as mud.

Provo USOE Meeting Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further, NGSS itself says this on its FAQ page:

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

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

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

How will states use these standards documents?

To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole without alteration. States can use the NGSS, as they are using the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, to align curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional preparation and development.

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

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

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

For a few specific examples of what’s wrong…

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

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

Huh? Where is the clarity?

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

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

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

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

In 7th grade we get more controversy.

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

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

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

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

Here’s press coverage of the Provo meeting:

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

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

Here’s a video recording of the meeting.

Utah’s Deceptive Science Standards Adoption

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

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

http://schoolboard.utah.gov

http://le.utah.gov

 

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

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

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

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

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

Education interim meeting (2 h 7 m)

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

Vernal USOE meeting

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

Letter from Diana Suddreth and Sydnee Dickson about national standards

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

Goodbye school choice? Is your school at risk of federal oversight?

Utah’s SB 235, if not vetoed in the next two weeks, will be the end of real choice in public education in Utah.

Based on the 2014 Utah school grades, and SB 235, here are just a few charter schools who could soon be at risk of being literally taken over by the state and “fixed” by Federally-funded  “turnaround experts.” Note that each of these schools has a high SAGE opt-out rate (percent of students whose parents opted them out of taking the Common Core/SAGE test).

  • Canyon Grove Academy 20% opt-out (D grade)
  • C.S. Lewis Academy 50% opt-out (C grade)
  • DaVinci Academy 33% opt-out (D grade)
  • Gateway Preparatory Academy 25% (C grade)
  • Lincoln Academy 14% opt-out (C grade)
  • Mana Academy 50% opt-out (F grade)
  • Mountain Heights Academy 15% Opt-out (C Grade)
  • Pacific Heritage Academy 29% opt-out (D grade)
  • Paradigm High School 23% opt-out (D grade)
  • Rockwell Charter High School 19% opt-out (D grade)
  • Utah Connections Academy 9% opt-out (D grade)
  • Utah Virtual Academy 22% opt-out (D grade)

 

State officials will (correctly) point out that parent opt-outs are not included in the SAGE portion of the school grade. But that belies two important facts:

1)   Many of the opt-outs come from the most involved parents / highest performing students, so the “school grade” reflects the abilities of the lower-performing students, not all the students in the school. The punishments that SB 235 would inflict on a school thus violate the prohibition on such punishments in SB 122, and

2)   If parent opt-outs (and enrollment in a charter school in the first place) are in any way indicative of parents’ desire for an alternative to Common Core/SAGE, turning these charter schools over to “turnaround experts” denies parents their unalienable rights (confirmed by Utah Code 62A-4a-201) to direct the education of their own children.

What can a charter school (or charter parent) do to avoid being “reformed” by the Fed Ed experts? Forget your charter and teach to the SAGE test. Like every other school in the state. Or, contact Governor Herbert right now and ask him to veto SB 235.

SB235 Effectively Federalized Utah’s Education System and Federalization is Anti-Family

Senate Bill 235 – School Turnaround and Leadership Development passed at the midnight hour of Utah’s legislative session last night. It passed under a different name though—”Education Modifications.” It sounds much more innocent that way. This bill, while already passed, MUST STILL BE CHALLENGED! Why? It codified Obama’s Federal Waiver reforms into state law and, for all intents and purposes, federalized Utah’s entire education system. Federalization is Anti-Family because it’s Anti-Agency.

Are we willing to tell our children and grandchildren that we sat back and allowed it to happen? Please say no.

Below, I am sharing a letter that I sent to a member of the Utah State Board in November 2014 (credits go to Michelle Boulter of Return to Parental Rights for allowing me to include her excellent research). I also shared portions of this with Senator Niederhauser and his SB235 co-sponsor Rep. Bradley Last.

Parents, delegates who voted down Common Core, and taxpayers must rise up to hold these legislators, and those legislators who supported SB235, accountable for their actions. And, there must be a call to repeal this bill. We must demand that the State School Board, Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes and Auditor John Dougall AUDIT THIS FEDERAL PROGRAM if we want to preserve parental rights and local education control.

 

Dear Utah State Board member,

Were you aware that the US Department of Education funds the federal Center for School Turnaround? This is a program that trains school and district leaders how to implement the federal education reforms linked to President Obama’s Race to the Top/Common Core. The goal is to “develop district and school leadership skills needed to meet the challenges of turning around low-performing schools.” The Utah State Office of Education has a 5-year contract to run district/school leaders through this federal program. The program is headed by WestEd and the 2009 Stimulus-created/funded testing consortia SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia)?

Why is SBAC involved with state/district school turnaround training? Could it be that federal turnaround measures are directly tied to Common Core testing and the revamping of instructional models in our local schools?

My hope is that you will audit this federal program. The information below unveils how the Utah State School Board has been losing “general control and supervision” of Utah’s education system. Much of that control is being lost to the Utah State Office of Education which is operating as an unaccountable 4th branch of government directing federal education programs in Utah. The Obama administration is funding programs through state offices of education, and other avenues, in unprecedented levels. I hope you can help restore your elected power for the sake of parental rights.

I don’t know if you read my op-ed in the Deseret News that talked about ObamaCare architect, Ezekiel Emanuel’s admitted malintent behind healthcare reform. Ezekiel said, “Be prepared to kiss your insurance company goodbye forever.” Common sense tells us that the intent behind federal education reforms is the same. There is a reason why Ezekiel’s brother, former Chicago Superintendent Rahm and his buddy, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are leading school “turn around” reforms. The Federal Government is working to “turn around” schools under Title 1 in order to require that more community services be provided via schools. Because Federal FERPA laws trump HIPPA, this will allow for more, and all kinds, of federal-level data collection on children as schools are turned into community, health and counseling centers. Technology will facilitate most of the reforms that superintendents will be trained in. See: “ConnectED to the Future Convening Brings Future Ready Superintendents at the White House.”

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/11/connected-to-the-future-convening-brings-together-future-ready-superintendents-at-the-white-house/

Here’s the link to the Federal Center For School Turnaround. It states, “The US Department of Education created a Center on School Turnaround and awarded a five-year grant and cooperative agreement to WestEd to administer the new center.

http://centeronschoolturnaround.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Evolution_of_School_Turnaround2.pdf

Here’s the Utah State School Board’s/USOE announcement about joining this federal partnership via the University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.

http://utahpubliceducation.org/2011/12/23/utah-school-leaders-participate-in-school-turnaround-initiative/#.VGTijIdSa_0

Here’s WestEd touting Ogden District as their model for the Federal Reforms:

http://www.wested.org/wp-content/files_mf/1379439998Ogden_Case_Study.pdf

New State Superintendent Brad Smith (and I assume he is a great guy) went through this Federal training as Ogden District’s Superintendent. It’s anticipated that all Utah districts will go through training.

This article details the federal “turnaround” training programs for superintendents and principals funded through Obama’s Race to the Top. It states, “Both the transformational and turnaround models of Obama’s school restructuring plan begin with a directive to replace the principal, and in the latter case, at least half the teaching staff as well.” (Note: These are the kinds of reforms that took place in the Ogden school district under then Superintendent Brad Smith before he became Utah’s Superintendent)

The article continues, “And with the other two options—the close/consolidate model, which closes schools and transfers students to higher performing schools, and the restart model, which closes schools and reopens them as charters—principals are also likely to find themselves out of work.”

“With 74 percent of schools eligible for improvement grants opting for the transformational model—which calls for a comprehensive overhaul of instruction (pedagogy tied to Common Core standards), evaluation systems and other school operations in addition to replacing the principal—the need for effective administrators is a pervasive problem, Connelly says. But it’s especially dire in the persistently low-performing schools where pressures and challenges are high and strong leadership is crucial, she adds.”

“… No longer are principals regarded as performers of largely managerial duties. Today’s principals need skills in analyzing data to drive successful instruction(Data isn’t the friend of local control. It’s what controls everything from the federal level).

Because State Superintendent Brad Smith was trained in this federal program, and Ogden was the pilot district, some see it as the sole reason for his decisions to fire teachers and principals in Odgen. The Federal objectives are that superintendents, principals and teachers will eventually be replaced by superintendents from crony corporate/federal reform camps like Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change or Eli Broad’s Broad Academy with Principals from Arne Duncan’s Principal Corp and teachers from groups like Teach for AmericaMicrosoft is one of the main funders of this Federal turnaround program, and they have a vested interested in Common Core standards.

In our most recent conversation, you tended to think that Business/Corporate reforms support the education vision of many on the Utah State School Board. I don’t. I think that Corporate Reforms in our current political climate are Federal/Crony-Capitalist Funded reforms all tied to Common Core standards in order to support data comparability across the country and nations. (See that Pearson is taking over the United Nation’s PISA exams in 2018.) It’s not about improving student achievement. It’s about dismantling locally controlled education and creating an endless stream of taxpayer profits for those in power as their policies (controlled by “the data” from test scores) dictate instruction requirements, hiring requirements, testing requirements, data collection requirements, 1-to-1 technology requirements, etc. The program is Corporate Ed reform just like Arne and Rahm did in Chicago. It’s all about crony capitalists taking over public schools deemed “turn around” schools based on test scores. These crony reforms have decimated the Chicago school system. The designated schools have to implement new instructional models (aligned to Common Core standards) and data based decision training, including reliance on behavioral data.

I want to digress for a minute and reference this quote from the federally-funded Common Core Next Generation Science Standards “Framework” creators—Achieve, Inc.:

“Students will make the greatest strides in learning science and engineering when all components of the system—from professional development for teachers to curricula and assessments to time allocated for these subjects during the school day—are aligned with the vision of the framework.”

Listen to what they reformers are saying! EVERYTHING AT THE LOCAL LEVEL WILL BE CONTROLLED BY THEM! This is the height of arrogance! These federal school turnaround reforms, and their associated reforms to education standards and tests, are about controlling local decision making using test scores as the nail in our coffin. IT’S COMPLETE STANDARDIZATION OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM. The death nail to parental rights! The death nail in individual exceptionalism and personal agency!

Here’s what Ogden Superintendent Brad Smith said about attending the Darden/Curry training:

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/web/Darden-Curry-PLE/UVA-School-Turnaround/Testimonials/

In bullet 6 here, they say the program focuses on behavioral data:

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/web/Darden-Curry-PLE/About/Beliefs/

And, here, liberal education expert Diane Ravitch explains that the school turn around idea came from Arne Duncan’s days in Chicago when he came up with a plan called Renaissance 2010:

http://m.democracynow.org/stories/13673

Ogden Superintendent Brad Smith and his retrained Ogden crew were invited to  Governor Herbert’s office on Aug. 27th (before Smith was hired on as State Superintendent). Smith gave the Governor’s office his blueprint for reform. (Is this why he ended up being selected as State Superintendent?) The book was called “Leverage Leadership.” This book’s blueprint is not a Utah blueprint. It is THE federal Race to the Top/School Turnaround blueprint.

The author of Leverage Leadership is Paul Bambrick-Santoyo. He also wrote “Driven By Data“. He is on the Data-Driven Instruction faculty for New Leaders for New Schools (which is one of the main, federally-funded school turnaround training programs for districts). New Schools were  products of Arne Duncan’s crony-friend, John Schnur who headed Race to the Top. Politico wrote about Arne, Obama and John Schnur’s relationship here. One book reviewer explained the premise of the New School’s school turnaround model like this:

“The author’s main suggestion is that schools create a set of interim assessments that lead up to U.S. state assessments. He suggests that not only these, but also classroom assessments are created to mimic the format of state assessments. Doing this would leave very little room in a school’s assessment plan for contextualized assessments…. The narrow focus on preparation for U.S. state tests, which is the only measure of success mentioned in the book, is actually quite disturbing.”

“Leverage Leadership” describes a system of principals observing and micromanaging teachers and what happens in the classroom. Diane Ravitch exposes the agenda here.

And, Susan Ohanian exposed this about New Leaders for New Schools:

“The promo for the book Driven by Data promises that the book will show the reader “how to create a data culture” and “how to deal with resistance from your teachers.” It is recommended by Jon Schnur, co-founder and chief executive officer, New Leaders for New Schools, and senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. He is to Race to the Top what Sandy Kress was to No Child Left Behind. And on 8/4/10, his outfit was rewarded by a payment of $616,474 from the US Department of Education, our tax dollars at work.”

I hope that’s enough information to help stop these reforms in Utah. School turnaround is not about helping disadvantaged children in Title 1 schools. It’s about schools becoming the nanny state. As US Secretary of Education said, “Schools MUST become the center of community life.” With these school turnaround programs, there will be a dramatic shift from families being the fundamental unit of society to schools controlling family education and health decisions. And, it will all be controlled by third-party/federal data.

Welcome to 1984.

Regards,

JaKell

p.s. more information included below for your reference.

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Wallace Foundations School Turnaround Field Guide defines turnaround: “Turnaround is a dramatic and comprehensive intervention in a low-performing school that: a) produces significant gains in achievement within two years; and b) readies the school for the longer process of transformation into a high-performance organization.” This definition sounds great yet the devil is in the details. When you look closely at HOW this turnaround will be implemented it doesn’t take long before you realize that with this “intervention” there will be a loss of local control and parental control.

The State Role In School Turnaround is a report produced by WestEd in 2014 outlining the states role in implementing the federal school turnaround program. It states that WestEd “is supported by the Center on School Turnaround through funding from the U.S. Department of Education”.  In the chapter entitled “Leveraging the Bully Pulpit” it reads, “When it comes to school turnaround efforts, chiefs can use the position to catalyze, support, enable, and sustain school turnaround efforts. Given limited resources at their disposal, effectively optimizing the bully pulpit is a key tool in a state chief’s toolbox” (p. 32).

The turnaround program, which is led and funded by the United States Department of Education, will monitor schools to make sure they are in compliance with the School Improvement Grants (SIG). All changes must be submitted and approved by the Department of Ed. The people hired to monitor the schools and districts are called “District Shepherds”. In the case study done for Ogden school district it describes what the district did for its turnaround schools. In 2011/12 school year Ogden superintendent submitted his resignation and Brad Smith was appointed the new superintendent for OSD (page 3). On page 5 of the case study it talks about the “District Shepherd”. Sandy Coroles, OSD’s Executive Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs, became the “District Shepherd”. It was noted by teachers that they “can’t go anywhere else in Utah and receive more professional development.”

The consortium for school turnaround in the southwest United States is called, Southwest Turnaround Leadership Consortium, funded by the Department of Ed as noted in Endnote 1.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Southwest Comprehensive Center was part of a network of regional and content centers providing state education agencies with high-quality, relevant technical assistance. From 2005 to 2012, the SWCC was operated by WestEd. In 2012, the SWCC was replaced by the West Comprehensive Center (WCC), also operated by WestEd.

This Consortium partnered with the University of Virginia to establish this turnaround program in the Southwest and all training takes place at the University of Virginia. Here is a copy of the agreement between Ogden School District and the University of Virginia for turnaround training. In 2014 Menlove sent a memorandum to the State Board in regards to the turnaround program grant.

An Important company to look into further is FSG Social Impact Consultants. From the website: FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change.

This document, The School Turnaround Field Guide, is from FSG Social Impact Consultants. It states, “The size of the U.S. Department of Education’s current investments in education, coupled with the acute need of states and districts for funding, has put the federal government in a strong position to incent policy change and to set expectations for the types of turnaround strategies that states and local education agencies (LEAs) use.” (page 4)

Continued on pg.4-5, it talks about the turnaround in state’s NCLB Waivers:

Turnarounds. Replace the principal, rehire no more than 50 percent of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars, schedules, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach that substantially improves student outcomes.

  • Restarts. Transfer control of, or close and reopen a school under a school operator that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
  • School Closures. Close the school and enroll students in higher-achieving schools within the LEA.
  • Transformations. Replace the principal, take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness, institute comprehensive instructional reforms, increase learning time, create community-oriented schools, and provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

 

Pg. 7 Lists key players – First being the US Education department with funding which can “expand its efforts”. States and Districts play a role as well as Unions. It is being encouraged that Unions view this as a laboratory in which they are more willing to experiment with new types of contracts, new ways of collaboratively partnering with districts, new work rules, and new teacher-evaluation and pay-for-performance approaches” (pg.8).

 

Pg. 27 describes policies other states have put in place to help with the turnaround process. Tennessee passed legislation to create an “Achievement School District” akin to the Recovery School District in Louisiana. Low-performing schools would be removed from their home districts and placed under the state’s authority. Massachusetts’ SB 2247 increases school-level autonomy in failing schools and doubles the number of charter schools in its lowest-performing districts.

These practices are very dangerous and will only succeed in removing local and parental control from local school districts.