Concerns

Utah’s Fight for Student Data Privacy is On

Post by Christel Swasey found at:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/utahs-fight-for-student-data-privacy-is-on/

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Sharing my letter, send out today.

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Dear [State School] Board,

I am gravely concerned about the “emergency vote” that was taken by the board last month, which decreased the amount of student data privacy protections that were previously in place, in order to cater to corporate education vendors, and in order to align with unlawful federal regulatory changes to federal FERPA– which harmed parental rights and student privacy, giving third party vendors unwarranted trust and access to student data.  Where were the student advocates and parent testifiers, when the corporate testifiers had their day to speak and to influence this board?
I request that the “emergency vote” be immediately dismissed as unethical and unlawful, because it aligns exactly with the unethical and unlawful alterations that the Dept. of Education has made to family privacy rights without Congressional approval.  I request that a deep and probing study be taken on this weighty issue prior to a vote.  Allowing vendors this easy data-access aligns with the abuses of the Department of Education, and are not in harmony with vital principles of individual rights, family rights, and freedom from essentially handing oversight of education and student records to unelected vendors.
Christel Swasey
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(I’ll keep you posted.)
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anderegg

Utah Rep. Jake Anderegg

 

Why I wrote the letter?

I compared the student privacy protection bill  that Utah Representative Jake Anderegg is running right now, with the summary of a recent public hearing –in which corporate education vendors pushed for decreased student privacy and for increased student data sharing.  I realized that the fight is truly going on right now in Utah.  Most people don’t know the fight is on; it doesn’t make news headlines, though it should.  So few people speaking up.  And the board assumes it’s okay with all of us to keep loosening and loosening student data protections.

Should students and families maintain individual rights over student data privacy or not?  

Which side are you on?

Have we as an informed electorate, as neighbors, and families and friends, discussed what happens when students and families do  –or do not– have data privacy protection?  These are weighty matters with long term consequences.

The board’s having had a seemingly quick and one-sided “hearing” followed by an “emergency vote” seems hasty and even dangerous.

Let’s think and talk and debate thoroughly before we automatically align with corporate agendas.  Let’s ask ourselves how these alignments and their possible unintended consequences may affect our children in the long term.

Both the bill and the summary report are wordy and  un-reader-friendly, true. But we can’t know what side to support if we don’t study it out. So here are the links and abbreviated screenshots –of the two sides– to get started.

Anderegg’s privacy protection bill  calls for increased privacy protections, particularly in reference to third party vendors:

anderegg bill

 

The corporate education vendors call for decreased privacy protections.  They say that the former provision that a school/district was to be the only entity authorized to collect and store school records is “overly restrictive and does not allow Third Party Ventors to collect and access records…. the rule does not reflect the actual practice”.

(If it does not reflect the actual practice, that is because federal agents have been unethically altering what Congress held the sole right to alter: Federal FERPA privacy law.  Do we in Utah want to align with federal abuses, in order to cater to education vendors?  Sure, the vendors testify that it’s a great idea.  It makes their businesses run better. But the board ought to place the needs and rights of students and their families above corporate education vendors.  Who is advocating for individual privacy rights for children at the corporate level? Nobody.  The businesses want that data, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by parental or student rights.)

Here’s the link to that report (and the first two pages, screenshots).

 

state report on third party data sharing

 

screenshot two of utah report data

Here’s my “explain it to a fourth grader” summary of the situation:   “When the government lets business people run the schools, the business people want to store records of what students do, so the government says OK.  It is not good because the voters lose power over their rights.  Voters can change the laws of government and can un-elect those we’ve elected to govern schools, but we cannot influence what business people do nor who gets to run businesses, by our vote. We have no control over them.  That gives them control over us and over our records/privacy rights.  We need to keep control of ourselves,  our children, and our privacy rights.  We should not give business people power over our schools, no matter how nice they are.

What Data is Collected From Kindergarteners Without Parental Consent?

Oak note: Below is an article by Christel Swasey found at:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/what-data-is-collected-from-kindergarteners-without-parental-consent/

You really must check out the link below and download the 187 page, single spaced, one item per line list of everything the feds are going to collect on kindergarteners and first graders. The list is unbelievably long on things you won’t believe unless you read it. The partial list below just can’t do it justice till you see the document.

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If a parent wants psychologists, researchers, doctors or businessmen studying his/her child, and the parents gives written consent, I have no problem with that.

I do have a very big problem with researchers, businessmen, politicians and others studying children without parental consent or knowledge.  That’s 1984-style creepy.  That’s government believing it’s bigger and more valid than those who created it.

The NCES, also known as the National Center for Educational Statistics, a federal branch, is so hungry for data on kindergarteners (and on everyone else, for that matter, that it worries me.  People aren’t aware of what NCES is aiming to do.  Nobody’s fighting in a meaningful way to protect children’s and family privacy rights.  Federal FERPA laws that were supposed to protect student and family rights were shredded a few years ago.  Data is the new oil, the new gold, those who want the data are desperate to get it, and they are getting it.

What are they getting?

If you click on this link, you will find a pdf with 187 PAGES of data points that NCES plans to collect on our kindergarteners.  That’s not 187 points of data, but 187 pages of points of data.  Medical data.  Home data.  Racial data.  Academic data.  Behavioral data.  Data on children’s weight, household marriages,  poverty levels, cohabiations, occupations, motivation levels, game playing, number of books in the home— everything.   Click on this link and see the PDF for the whole list.

Here’s a tiny sample:

190 TEACHER REPORT EXTERN PROB BEHAVIORS
194 X1 TEACHER REPORT INTERN PROB BEHAVIORS
200 X1 TEACHER REPORT ATTENTIONAL FOCUS
204 X1 TEACHER REPORT INHIBITORY CONTROL
226 X3 HEIGHT MEASUREMENT PRESENT
228 X3 WEIGHT MEASUREMENT PRESENT
230 X1 CHILD COMPOSITE BMI
302 X12 PARENT 1 EDUCATION LEVEL (IMPUTED)
305 X1 PARENT 1 EMPLOYMENT STATUS
307 X1 PARENT 1 OCCUPATION
309 X1 AVG PRESTIGE SCR FOR PAR 1 OCCUPATION (IMPUTED)
335 X1 NUMBER IN HOUSEHOLD AGED <18
338 X1 NUMBER IN HOUSEHOLD AGED 18+
345 X1 # HOURS SPENT IN NONPARENTAL CARE NOW
353 X2 INCOME CATEGORY (IMPUTED)
356 X12 POVERTY LEVEL
358 X2 ADULT’S FOOD SECURITY RAW SCORE
363 X4 ADULT’S FOOD SECURITY STATUS
368  CHILD’S FOOD SECURITY STATUS
374 X2 HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY STATUS
380 X12 MOTHER MARRIED AT TIME OF BIRTH
387 X1 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL (How would they get this data from a private school?)
457 F1 PARENT INTERVIEW DISPOSITION CODE
473 F1 PARENT INTERVIEW WORK AREA
521 F1 SCHOOL CENSUS TRACT CODE
525P1 HOME CENSUS TRACT CODE
585 C1 ACQ025 INTERRUPTION DURING ASSESSMENT
587 C1 ACQ035 DISRUPTIONS DURING ASSESSMENT
601 C1 ACQ075 CHILD’S MOTIVATION LEVEL
602 C1 ACQ080 CHILD’S COOPERATION
603 C1 ACQ085 CHILD’S ATTENTION LEVEL
1269 P1 FSQ200 CURRENT MARITAL STATUS
1316 P1 HEQ010A HOW OFTEN YOU TELL STORIES
1317 P1 HEQ010B HOW OFTEN YOU ALL SING SONGS
1318 P1 HEQ010C HOW OFTEN YOU HELP CHD DO ART
1319 P1 HEQ010D HOW OFTEN CHILD DOES CHORES
1320 P1 HEQ010E HOW OFTEN YOU ALL PLAY GAMES
1321 P1 HEQ010F HOW OFTEN YOU TALK ABT NATURE
1329 P1 HEQ040 HOW MANY BOOKS CHILD HAS
…These types of very personal questions keep going until 1332
1333 P1 CCQ010 NOW HAS CARE FROM RELATIVE
1334 P1 CCQ015 EVER HAD CARE FROM RELATIVE
1354 P1 CCQ085 # OF DAYS/WK OF REL CARE
1355 P1 CCQ090 # OF HRS/WK OF REL CARE
1356 P1 CCQ092 CHARGE FOR RELATIVE CARE
1451 P1 CHQ085 COMPLICATIONS TO BIRTH/DELIVRY
1470P1 CHQ095 EVER HAD EAR INFECTION
1471P1 CHQ096 EVER HAD EAR ACHE
1510P1 CHQ330 SCALE OF CHILDS HEALTH
1511 P1 SSQ010J KEEP WORKING TO FINISH
1516 P1 SSQ010X CREATIVE IN WORK OR PLAY
1519 P1 MHQ025B YEAR WHEN RESP-BIOPAR MARRIED (When parents were married)
1521 P1 MHQ035A MNTH RESBIOMOM-DAD START COHAB

So many times, ugly education and data reform sites/pages “disappear” from the internet after people start pointing them out.  So, in case that happens again, I have also copied and pasted (below) a list of restricted data that is now available from this link:   http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp  –and I’m going to screen shot and paste the link of the Kindergarten and First Grade data file, that led to this list, below.

Restricted-data Available

 

Individual Surveys

kindergarten data file

 

The sad fact seems to be that we, as a group of people, have so much confidence in other human beings that we do not search out for ourselves what is really going on, and we do not demand that our children’s data be protected.

We are in a state of blind self-security, trusting our children’s destinies to the hands of data-hungry strangers with reckless confidence.   We have to be smarter than this, more protective than this!

If you do not know why so much data sharing is a bad idea, please, for starters, read the book 1984.  It’s free.

If you want to study more about what is now actually being collected via schools’ State Longitudinal Database Systems, read the linked posts I’ve written previously here and here.

Dr. Peg Luksik on Common Core Testing

Dr. Peg Luksik (bio below) gave this great presentation on Common Core assessments at an October 2014 conference.

39:15: “Common Core isn’t just flawed in what they teach our children; it’s flawed in how they test our children. It makes it so that the results can match what the Dept of Education wants them to match. If I can manipulate where you succeed and where you fail, I can be sure that you are going to go into the Workforce place that I have chosen for you. Common Core Assessment system allows that manipulation to occur.”

Dr. Peg Luksik is a Pennsylvania teacher with over 35 years of experience in both special education and elementary education. She has taught at every level from pre-school to college in regular classrooms, resource centers, self-contained special education classes, and in alternative educational settings. She has trained teachers in curriculum and classroom management, written and evaluated curricula, authored several books on education issues, and hosted a nationally syndicated television program dealing with education in America. She founded a program to assist low-income single mothers complete their educations which was recognized by President Reagan and named as a National Point of Light by President George Bush. Peg served as an advisor to President Reagan’s Commission on the Family and worked for the U.S. Department of Education, where her task was to review and evaluate education reform initiatives. Peg was a founding board member of the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. Most importantly, Peg and Jim, her husband of 35 years, have raised 6 wonderful children and are now proud grandparents.

3 questions for those who favor CCSS

I would like to invite those who favor Common Core State Standards to answer these questions for me. Thus far (2.5 years+), I have been unable to get sufficient answers to these questions as to provide me any level of assurance that the Utah State Office of Education didn’t simply adopt CCSS for a shot at Race to the Top money (which they didn’t receive). Subsequently, they have proceeded to tell the public we adopted CCSS to get superior standards because CCSS was internationally benchmarked and superior to our Utah standards. This information has never been proven, and in fact, one organization’s analysis proves the contrary.

1) Will you please describe for me what was deficient in our (Fordham) A- rated 2007 Utah math standards which necessitated adopting CCSS?

USOE saw no problem with our prior D rated 2002 math standards that made it critical that we improve them in 2007, and they testified against improving them in 2006 to our legislators. Our 2007 standards have been declared better than CCSS by the Fordham Foundation.

2) What research can you show that CCSS was ever internationally benchmarked?

Here is a quote from the American Educational Research Association and contradicts the claims made by the USOE that Common Core was internationally benchmarked.

“International Benchmarking:
Wisconsin’s SEC database contains some information on content standards for other countries. In mathematics, there are data for Finland, Japan, and Singapore on eighth-grade standards; alignments to the U.S. Common Core are .21, .17, and .13, respectively. All three of these countries have higher eighth-grade mathematics achievement levels than does the United States. The content differences that lead to these low levels of alignment for cognitive demand are, for all three countries, a much greater emphasis on ‘perform procedures’ than found in the U.S. Common Core standards. For each country, approximately 75% of the content involves ‘perform procedures,’ whereas in the Common Core standards, the percentage for procedures is 38%.”

It’s even worse for Utah because of the integrated path the USOE chose to implement along with Vermont. They specifically put algebra 1 completion in 9th grade for most students so that Utah will never be on par with states or nations that put a normal path to algebra 1 completion in 8th grade. Here’s a brief writeup Ze’ev Wurman did on CCSS vs. our 2007 standards ( http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/utah-math-is-not-accelerated-under-common-core/

Here is Dr. David Wright in BYU’s math department pointing out 8 problems with the way the USOE implemented CCSS in Utah. (http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dr-david-wright-vs-usoe-8-0-for-dr-wright)

3) What do you have against Utah not having better and proven standards which Fordham says are clearly superior to CCSS and which WERE specifically benchmarked to Singapore and Japan, and why shouldn’t we have adopted these in the first place? (OK, that’s 2 questions)

(ex. CA’s math standards which have a proven track record of dramatically improving math proficiency for all children including socio-economic groups and minorities.) http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/solution-utah-should-adopt-californias-math-standards

 

National Takeover

I just thought I’d point out that what we’ve been saying for so long is happening right in front of our faces. There is a concerted effort in this country by those who are in positions to wield enormous power, to centralize the education system and bring it under a common roof with their own sentinels at the “Gates” (a little pun for the observant…).

A short time ago we posted this article showing how Arne Duncan is moving to phase out the power of states to set their own standards.

Now the Obama administration is looking to control what’s happening in university colleges of education which has the effect of moving evaluations of teachers and institutions from the state level to the federal level.

“Under the new rules, teachers’ colleges would be ranked based upon how well their teacher graduates do in raising their students’ scores on the Common Core assessments…Instead of teachers’ colleges being evaluated on solid evidence of having taught students a solid knowledge-based foundation, they would be evaluated on a workforce development accountability plan set up by the federal government based upon Common Core Standards.”

Finally, Bill Gates is funding the development of specific curriculum with Pearson to be aligned to Common Core. Recall that Gates video where he says we won’t know if Common Core is successful until standards, curriculum, and assessments are all aligned? It’s all a giant experiment which is now entering the next stage of control.

Those who continue to ridicule and believe that there is no movement toward a national takeover are going to find it harder and harder to make that case. The news just keeps pouring out at a tremendous pace.

 

 

Teacher SLAMS SAGE Testing

This is a must read op-ed. Then please send it to your legislators, and state and local school board members. Ask local schools and district boards to stop all use of the SAGE test in your schools except as required by state law. Ask the state board and lawmakers to completely scrap the use of this test and eliminate it from the state. It is child abuse.

You can find your legislator here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp

Find your local school board members on your district website.

Charter school people should contact their charter schools and tell them to drop the test or you will homeschool or put your child in a school that respects your authority over your child’s education.

Read the op-ed by teacher Debbie Nichols here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865614313/A-teacher7s-opinion-of-the-SAGE-test.html

 

Yet More Election Law Violations in Alpine School District

Unbelievably, more teachers in Alpine School District continue to violate Utah election law and Alpine School District policies (See previous 1, previous 2). At this point, who knows how many schools this is happening in. Highland City Council member Rod Mann posted the below emails which he obtained, to Facebook over the weekend. He gave me permission to reprint his letter which was sent to the Lt. Gov., Utah county clerk, and ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw. His letters are below these letters from a fourth grade teacher at Meadow elementary showing clear violations of the law.  It seems clear that the principal and other administrators must also support these actions as she wrote the names on the faculty lounge whiteboard for everyone to see. Further, after sending out an email to the rest of the school on the 21st, she continued to send emails on the 28th and 30th. The failure of the principal to stop this action shows she was complicit with the actions of this teacher.

Please contact:

The Lt. Governor’s office, 800-995-VOTE, write him at: http://www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/contact/, spencercox@utah.gov

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes: (801) 366-0260

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman: 801-851-8026

Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson: bryant@utahcounty.gov

ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw: vhenshaw@alpinedistrict.org

and ask your ASD board member how such violations of election law and district policy are handled.

Seems to me that this is an institutionalized method for electing rubber stamps to the board. There is only one solution. Enforce the law, and enact partisan school board elections so that locally elected representatives can vet candidates for inclusion on the ballot and not let the establishment run the campaigns of selected candidates using taxpayer dollars.

Please help get out the vote for Wendy Hart, Chris Jolley, and Maynard Olsen tomorrow. They will represent the public interest.

 

dh2

 

 

dh1

 

dh3

Rod Mann’s post from Facebook, used with permission.

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I am sorry to say that today I saw copies of 3 additional emails that violate ASD policy and state election law. Here is the email I just send to Superintendent Henshaw with copies to the the Lt. Governor and the County Clerk along with pictures of the emails.

“Superintendent Henshaw, Lt. Governor Cox, and County Clerk Thompson

Last week I sent you the note below regarding information that was brought up at the recent school ASD board meeting. Today I am sorry that I became aware of 3 additional emails (see attached files) that were sent out from Alpine District Email addresses to recipients using an Alpine District Email distribution list. They promote a specific set of candidates, an inferred set of candidates, helped to organize a campaign event for a specific candidate and indicated that specific candidate names were posted on a white board in the faculty lounge of a school. I am pretty sure that these are all violations of ASD policy and I am guessing that they are also violations of state election law. You’ll notice that most the content of one of the emails is from the AEA. The problem with this one is that a school employee used an ASD email account to forward this information using an ASD Distribution List.

As I said in the email below I have a separate concern if you first hear of such violations from people outside the district. This would indicate that teachers and staff are either 1) ignorant of district policy and state election laws, or 2) are afraid of directly reporting violations, and/or 3) are willfully violating district policy and election law to ensure that the “right” outcome occurs.

It would appear that you have a serious problem with campaign policy and law in the district. I would hope that these get fixed. Please be aware that regardless of the outcome of the election I will use my best efforts to ensure that legislative policies are enacted that will serve as a more effective deterrent than the current code allows.

I would hope that in the meantime that the district would be more rigorous in informing teachers and staff about ASD policy and state election law and then find a means to deter future violations. I would also hope that the county and state would look into what appears a systemic problem with government resources being used to influence election results. Also, I believe there is a good chance that a hostile work environment exists for those teachers who do not agree with the AEA.

Regards,

Rod Mann

—— Original Message ——
From: “Rod Mann” <mannrw@gmail.com>
To: vhenshaw@alpinedistrict.org
Cc: spencercox@utah.gov; bryant@utahcounty.gov
Sent: 10/28/2014 10:27:23 PM
Subject: Campaign emails using Alpine District Resources

Hello Superintend Henshaw,

I attended the board meeting this evening and just want to share with you my point of view on the emails. The board is clearly divided on some issues and that is not bad. Healthy discussion generally creates better solutions. Reading the recent email from board vice president JoDee Sundberg to district personnel (I’m assuming it was to all principals) and Keith Conley’s (principal of Geneva Elementary School) email indicating to staff and teachers who they should support as well as recounting a teacher/staff meeting where he distributed campaign information, shows the strong personal animus that is being propagated throughout district personnel. This is not healthy discussion.

The emails support a viewpoint that the district has its own agenda and uses tax payer resources to ensure that candidates who support that agenda are elected. I would expect you to be very concerned if the first you heard of the email was through the Internet/Facebook. This would mean that no recipient of either Mrs. Sundberg’s or Mr. Conley’s email and no one who attended the meeting Mr. Conley references had the courage to share this information with you as a violation of district policy and/or state election law. How sad it would be if someone who might have considered reporting this was dissuaded from doing so out of fear of potential repercussions (after all the board vice-president seemingly encouraged the behavior).

The principal not only encouraged his staff and teachers to violate policy, he also broke trust with the community he serves by using his time at work and district resources, paid for by all tax payers, to actively work against some of them — in other words he used the resources of government to try and impose his personal (and Mrs. Sundberg’s) will on those he serves. I understand that the Lt. Governor has spoken with you and that an apology to those Mr. Conley sent the email to will be forth coming. The seems insufficient. If an apology will be written, it should be a public apology to all those whose trust he violated and whose funds he misused. I can’t help but wonder if this is the first time this happened. Is an apology enough to prevent it from happening again? I’m not sure. If I was willing to violate district policy and/or state law to accomplish a mission and I knew that if caught I would simply have to apologize, I doubt I would be deterred from acting.

That a board member would abuse her authority and encourage district personnel to violate district policy and the law is also disturbing. Were I on the board this certainly have diminished my trust in her and might affect my willingness to engage with her. Do you really want a board where open hostility reigns and trust is absent. I don’t envy your challenge.

I would encourage you to not just let this blow over, but to take active and public steps to ensure that there are strong incentives in place to discourage this kind of behavior going forward. That will go a long way to restoring trust.

A quick note on another matter. A city attorney attends all council meetings and most work sessions in Highland (I imagine that most other cities do the same). This allows all council members to directly ask questions and receive an immediate response. I find this practice to be of great value. I would recommend the same for the school board. That would eliminate any perception that the administration is blocking certain board members from obtain legal opinions on matters pertinent to the board.

Regards,

Rod Mann
Highland City resident and city council member

Open Letter from NV Mom

Christina Leventis, a mother from Nevada, has had it with Michael Petrilli of Fordham Foundation, for his unwavering support for Common Core.
Christina Leventis and her husband are in the photo.
Christina Leventis and spouse

Dear Mr. Petrilli:

It is near impossible to catch my breath between your compulsory admonishments on “embracing the core.”  I continue to read them and I continue to reject them.  Your reasoning is unsound and, frankly, I simply disagree with you.  So, I have a question for you Mr. Petrilli.

What if I just don’t want my children to be taught under the Common Core State Standards or any aka there of, period?

I do not understand this game of tug-of-war over my children.  In polite society, Mr. Petrilli, when a mother says “No, thank you” on behalf of her child, she means “No, thank you.”  It is not code for “verbally abuse me until I lay my child at the altar of Thy-Will-of-Bill-Gates-Be-Done.”

My mind ponders at length the accomplishments of Bill Gates.  He is an excellent example of the American dream.  Bill Gates capitalized on American freedom to live as he pleased; to learn in a way that fit him; to create and build for himself and his family.  The irony that Bill Gates is now using his amassed millions to usurp that same freedom from American families and to pigeon-hole the nation’s children into a standardized learning that suits him is grotesque and unjustifiable.

I had the privilege this past week to meet some of the national moms standing against this federal rush for our children.  I looked long and hard at each of them because I was looking for something specific.  What I found was a group of moms: funny, wise, sharp, thoughtful, sincere, caring, focused, genuine, and much more.  I didn’t find what I was looking for though.  I didn’t find any bullies.

The mothers in this fight are not the bullies – white, suburban or otherwise.  What we are is the last line of defense, in some cases, the only line of defense for our children.  I’m afraid our silence has been mistaken for complacency.  Maybe we were quiet when we should have spoken.  That’s on us.  But we are speaking now.  We tried polite.  We tried firm.  We tried loud.  When we are not being ignored we are being labeled.

If the pushers could stop the diversion tactics for just five minutes they would be able to recognize the point of failure immediately.  The “architects” did not start with the children in mind, whereas, mothers always begin with their children in mind.  The writers begin with job placement – moms begin with giving life.  The writers think assessment – moms think development.  The writers think corporate boardroom – moms think sandbox.   Life is an unfolding of an individual’s soul and spirit – it is not a race of the mindless clones to the factory time clock.

Here is my admonishment to you Mr. Petrilli – I love my children and Bill Gates will run out of money before I ever run out of love for my children.

Sincerely,

Christina Leventis

Nevada Mother

Common Core Kills Love of Reading: Anonymous UT Student Teacher’s Story

by an anonymous Utah student teacher
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Last semester I worked in a first grade classroom as part of a class I was I was taking at Utah Valley University.  The teacher said she could do more teaching if she didn’t have to do so much Common Core testing, so she had me do the testing.  These children have 4 packets, 20-25 pages each, they have to get through during the year.   Part of this is a list of 100 words, 400 for the year, they need to know by sight.  As I was testing, one little boy he stopped and said, “I don’t like words.  I don’t like reading.  I don’t like books.”
My heart broke.
apple books
I went to our library here in town and checked out as many books as I could.  I went back to school every day and pulled him out of class to read just one book to him.   At first he was hesitant because he thought he was going to have to read to me. Eventually he relaxed and started enjoying.  He got so he would even turn the pages on occasion. We read one book, “The Red Book,” which has no words in it.  You make up the story yourself. When we finished I asked him if he’d rather read a book like this or would he rather have a book with the words already there.
He preferred a book with words in it.  This went on for several weeks.
book and kite
Then they had a reading competition in the classroom. On Friday whoever read the most books that week got to wear the pirate hat.  I came in one Friday and he was wearing the pirate hat.
I was thrilled.pirate
Since then it has occurred to me that I should talk to the principal.  How would he feel if someone came into his office and tested him regularly, and often, to see whether he is making any progress, getting everything done that he should do, etc.?  He would probably quit his job if he was under such testing regulations, and still they put these little kids through all this stress.
Stress-at-work
This teacher has eighteen students.  Within a week I could tell which six children were working above grade level, which 6 children were working at grade level, and which 6 children were working below grade level.  This was simply from my observations, not from any testing I was doing.  Six children took the assignments and whizzed through them.  Six children took the assignments and worked through them, but eventually they got there.  Six children got very little of the assignments done without help, and in some cases a lot of help.  Obviously, Common Core upsets me.  I’m sure there is some good there, and there are good intentions, but they are way off base.
Random Quote

Hopefully, one day we can look a child in the eye at the age of eight or nine or 10 and say, “You are on track to be accepted and to succeed in a competitive university and, if you keep working hard, you will absolutely get there. — Arne Duncan, http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html

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