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New to Common Core?  Watch this excellent presentation on the Common Core agenda. It's a lot more than just standards.

Also watch the powerful Common Core documentary movie which the Home School Legal Defense Association just released. This 40 minute documentary gives you the inside story from the lips of those involved in the creation of Common Core.

Have you heard that the "Utah Core" isn't "Common Core"? Let the facts and Superintendent Menlove correct any misperceptions for you.

Concerns

Mountainville Academy – SAGE Testing Shuts Down Computer Lab to Classes

computerI received this email yesterday from a parent a Mountainville Academy. Due to SAGE testing, the Computer Applications class can’t use the lab for the rest of the school year. Nice. We want our kids up on technology, so lets test them so much on computers that the computer classes can’t have a lab to use.

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

Sage testing is a computer test that all students throughout the school have to take.  Because of this, the computer lab will be used for the testing.  Students in my Computer Applications class will not be able to use the computer lab for the remainder of the school year because of testing. 

Students will now be required to complete the assignments at home that would normally be completed in class. I will go over the assignment during class.  I will have the website updated on a daily basis so that students will know what to complete and what documents are needed to complete the assignment.  Assignments will be due the next time class meets.  I would prefer that students email me their completed assignments before we meet again, however, I understand that this isn’t always possible.  Students may print off their assignments and bring them to class and turn them in the next time we meet for full credit. (Regardless of which method students turn in assignments, they are due the next time we meet for class.)  I will also require that they complete the header on each assignment because this will be the proof that they did the assignment and not just attach the solution page that is included within the web page. (The solution page is needed so that students can compare their document with what the document should look like.)

Typing logs.  Since students will not be able to complete Microtype in class, it is VERY important that students keyboard at home.  They MUST complete a typing log for each week.  Starting this week, I’m doubling  the points for typing logs since they will be taking the place of Microtype. The same rules and guidelines will apply with typing logs.  If they are late, then it is 50% off the grade.  They may turn in typing logs in up to two weeks past the due date.  Students may use the time they typed for homework for one night only.  Students must keyboard for 75 minutes each week to get full credit and they must keyboard at LEAST 2 nights during the week.

I know that this is a lot for students but it is the best we can do with the technology that we have here at school.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thanks,

[Teacher name removed]

Utah school offers iPad raffle to students that take SAGE test

ipadI received this email yesterday from Dr. Jonathan Caldwell regarding something happening at Minersville School in the Beaver County School District. Similar events are occurring around the country with various prizes or treats.

“It was brought to my attention that the children at my son’s school who take the SAGE test are being included in a drawing for an ipad, while those who have opted out, are not being included. I spoke to the principal and it was confirmed. The purpose was originally to try and motivate the kids to do well on the test. They had decided to do this months ago before the thought of ever having parents opt-out and now are scrambling to figure out how to handle this. I am confident that other schools may be doing the same. In fact I saw the article about the kids in New York getting ice cream for taking the test and those not taking it did not get to participate. I am all for incentives and ways to motivate kids to care, however I am deeply disturbed by this level of discrimination and separation. I disagree with punishing the kids for a decision that the parents made just as much as I am against punishing the school or teachers for the same decision that the parents made to opt out. I am disappointed in parents who refuse to educate themselves because they are more concerned with how this will reflect upon the school or the teachers. I DO think my sons school is great. It is consistently one of the top schools in the state. The administrators and teachers are amazing. It is unfortunate that this situation puts them in a position to where their hands are tied behind their back, required to teach a certain way or have their jobs on the line. Teachers become teachers out of a passion and desire to inspire kids but this is truly taking the “Teaching to Inspire” out of school teaching and making them “Teach to Test”. Just thought I’d bring this to your attention. Dr. Caldwell”

In a follow up email, Dr. Caldwell stated:

“You may also be interested in this: Last week I asked my son if he was the only one in his class opting out and he said, ‘No’.  I asked him how he knew there were others and he said, ‘Because all of the kids not taking the SAGE test are sitting on the back row.’ Wow!!! Just another way to isolate, single out and draw attention to these students. I think they are trying to do some damage control as one of the other parents approached the principal about it today and was told that they are ‘pulling the other kids out of the drawing whom they have “Caught” not trying on the test’. (wow, that even sounds worse doesn’t it?)”

 

3rd grade Utah test: Video games are healthy

A teacher sent in this third grade test question which students in Utah will be tested on. The question comes from Pearson and is not a SAGE test question but regular pencil and paper. Although I enjoy an occasional video game with my children, and I agree with some of what is written in the article about some of the positives, I find this inappropriate because video games certainly do desensitize children and can addict them. I also find the 2 questions below the text offensive in that the correct answers are video games are healthy and what people say about video games is false. This is just completely inappropriate for 3rd graders. People who don’t think reading something on a test is indoctrinating should realize that for all of my childhood and teen years, I thought porcupines could shoot their quills because of something I read on a 2nd grade test. Nobody corrected my thinking after the test and it stuck with me because I thought it was pretty cool and never wanted to be around a porcupine. It took years for a simple suggestion to be corrected. Impressionable minds absorb content and children have a high level of trust in their teachers so when teachers say something incorrect or highly inappropriate, it sticks with children perhaps for a lifetime.

Video games are designed to offer players rewards to incentivize continued play. Without rewards, leveling up, earning things, advancing, the games don’t have the same draw to players and keep them playing. Those incentives have a science behind them to ensure players get a little reward/stimulus every so often to keep playing. The video at the bottom illustrates one boy who became addicted to World of Warcraft and had his account terminated by his mother. Don’t ever let it get that far… :)

Pearson1

Pearson2

 

To see stories of kids with real video game addiction problems, click here:

http://www.video-game-addiction.org/stories-of-addiction.html

 

UK: Three-year old denied family trip

I had to share this one. A family in England wanted to travel to the U.S. for a wedding and sought a TWO DAY leave of absence for their three-year old preschooler. A relative of this family here in Utah sent this to me yesterday. I never knew how critical preschool was in the U.K.  They must be doing something so vital that three-year olds can’t miss two days. State preschool and compulsory education. We just can’t have three year olds thinking they can take off school for special events and stuff. Their education is most critical in those formative years…

3-year-old-penaltyletter

Feds Threaten Florida and Returning to Proper Principles

Diane Ravitch posted the very disturbing story about the boy in Florida who was on his death bed and state officials made him take a Common Core assessment test. Lawmakers moved to pass “Ethan’s Law” to prevent such horrific nonsense, but then dropped it and just added some general accountability language elsewhere.

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/07/federal-officials-warn-florida-not-to-exempt-students-from-testing/

Why did they do this? The feds stepped in and said if more than 1% of disabled children opted out of the test Florida would be in violation of federal law.

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/federal-education-policy-experts-warn-against-parts-of-floridas-pending/2173367

What is happening in America?

Diane Ravitch also agrees with the Cato Institute that the Obama administration is using Common Core to nationalize education, stating:

“I appreciate the necessity of a vigorous federal government that provides a safety net and protects the neediest. However, I don’t appreciate the federal government doing what is clearly illegal, that is, controlling, directing, and supervising curriculum and instruction via the Common Core standards. Although its supporters, including President Obama and Secretary Duncan, repeat that its development was “state-led,” that was a deception. Bill gates funded them because the Feds were barred from doing so, but the Feds funded the tests that will control curriculum and instruction. There has been no louder cheerleader than Duncan.”

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/06/cato-obama-administration-plans-to-make-ccss-permanent-and-mandatory/

Recently, a student in New York was suspended from school for 2 days. Her crime? Telling fellow students they could opt-out of their Common Core tests.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/teen-suspended-for-helping-students-opt-out-of-common-core-english-test.html

Meanwhile in Long Island, over 20,000 parents have opted their children out of Common Core tests.

http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/04/07/thousands-of-long-islanders-opt-out-of-common-core-testing/

What is happening to America? Someone sent me a link to a Cato Institute report showing each state’s adjusted performance on the SAT test and the dollars being spent in education. Look at Utah’s terrible track record and yet we constantly hear from educrats how we need more money in education.

http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa746.pdf

utaheducationtrends

Why do we continue to have such issues all across America? What has happened over this time span?

There are many factors, but not least of which is the amount of pressure being put on students to do better and better and to treat them like widgets on an assembly line. “If we can just put this knowledge into their heads at this age, they’ll turn out better prepared for college and a career.” Really? I doubt it. Admittedly, I was no stellar example of doing well in school when I was a child. I was pretty average. I loved math, and hated English and social studies. I wanted to be a pilot but turned out to be an accountant…by choice in the end, but I wish I’d had greater freedom in my own educational experience and been able to explore things I wanted to, rather than have people direct my schedule and learning sequence for me.

I have been fighting the education establishment for 10 years now. 10 years ago it started in Alpine School District when they quit teaching the times tables and long division to children under Investigations math. Yes, you read that correctly. For at least 3 straight years this happened and I have personally spoken with teachers who had their contracts threatened, one teacher who lost his job over it, and numerous teachers who confided in me that they used to shut their doors to teach the times tables to children. It was insane.

Fast forward several years and I was trying to find philosophical solutions. Connor Boyack one day mentioned he had a copy of “Teach the Children, an Agency Approach to Education” by Neil Flinders. I obtained a copy of the book through Amazon and contacted Neil. We held a strategic conference and invited people from all over Utah to come participate in something unique…namely, the creation of core principles that should drive education.

These are the principles we developed.

An agency-based education:

  1. Must be based in choice and not compulsion
  2. Helps develop an internal moral compass as one fosters a recognition and love of truth
  3. Recognizes that truth best inspires when sought from original source materials
  4. Should be individualized to allow children to identify and develop their gifts and talents and discover their life’s missions
  5. Must recognize that parents have the sovereign stewardship to guide their children’s educational journey

Common Core clearly violates items 1, 4, and 5. I do not believe we will ever see significant educational and behavioral improvement no matter how much money is spent, unless we return to these core principles and respect students and parents in ways that Common Core will never do.

You can learn more about agency-based education from our website. There are a number of videos from past conferences which you can watch and in the coming days, more will be published and this movement will continue to grow. I invite you to get on the mailing list there (very low volume) to stay in touch with what’s happening.

http://www.agencybasededucation.org

SAGE Test Question: How are books bad and video games good?

A parent posted this in the Utahns Against Common Core Facebook group (join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/utahnsagainstcommoncore/). She got off the phone with a friend whose 11th grade daughter took the SAGE test yesterday and said one of her essay questions in the exam was:

“How are books bad and why should we focus more on video games because you can control them unlike books? Books discriminate against those who cannot read well and they dictate what you should think.”

Lets see, what’s the purpose of this question? Are you going to argue against the statement given to you? Or are you going to play along and write what the SAGE folks have given you? What’s going to be recorded in this child’s P20W database that SAGE tests provide behavioral data for?

A couple years of these tests and the government will know exactly who the resistor’s and the sheep are. It’s no wonder they don’t want parents and teachers to see these exams. Nothing should be in-between the tester and the testee to introduce a bias against the questions being presented. They need that behavioral data.

Another parent posted:

“A Davis County mother told me her 4th grader has been practicing in class and each prompt gives them three “facts” that they then have to write a 5 paragraph essay on. One prompt was about the Flu off 1918 and these were its facts (with my paraphrasing):
1. Many people died from the flu of 1918
2. The flu virus can mutate
3. It is important that I get the flu vaccine
Basically, it was two facts and one opinion. Not trying to start a debate about flu shots , but should #3 really be a “fact”?”

Another parent posted a couple links to ACT website. The first link describes how ACT Explore is being replaced by ACT Aspire.

http://www.act.org/products/k-12-act-explore/

In April 2014, ACT will launch our new student readiness assessment system—ACT Aspire™the first computer-based, longitudinal assessment system that connects student growth and progress from the elementary grades through high school in the context of college and career readiness.”

Going to the Aspire page we read this:

https://www.act.org/products/k-12-act-aspire/

“To meet this challenge, ACT is developing ACT Aspire—the first digital, longitudinal assessment system to fully connect student performance from elementary grades through high school. ACT Aspire will provide educators and parents with the insights they need to help students get and stay on track by better connecting assessment to teaching and learning.

ACT Aspire will include summative assessments that measure how much students have learned over time, as well as aligned classroom-based assessments that help educators better understand students’ learning needs in individual classes throughout the school year. The aligned assessments will inform teachers about students’ progress toward specific learning standards, so they can better tailor their instruction and resources to help students learn.

ACT research shows the direct link between early assessment and intervention and the improved likelihood of students succeeding in school and reaching their college and career goals. ACT Aspire will help educators identify foundational skill deficiencies earlier, which will provide the opportunity to quickly address weaknesses and build on strengths.”

Why is there such an alignment of standards, testing, curriculum, and intervention taking place? [Get out your tin-foil hat and put it on...]  Can you imagine an essay question on evolution where it is presented a fact that man evolved from pond scum and asked students to write an essay taking that single-sided point of view? What if a child resists and states a belief in God? Will there eventually be an intervention to help children not believe in God and “fairy tales” and straighten them out? Presenting one sided arguments and having children write from that perspective does NOT lead to critical thinking skills. It’s the exact opposite. It is indoctrinating and stupifying (to borrow a term from Harry Potter).

Homeschooling and private schools that do not receive state or federal money and don’t participate in Common Core, are your only safe havens. But even with that, most colleges require students take the ACT or SAT in order to get in. There are a number of colleges that don’t require those things, and even BYU has let students in without those tests.

The first step for safety is opting your children completely out of all computer adaptive tests including practice tests.  Get off them now. If your charter school has a contract you signed, get out of the charter school. They are worried about their school’s grade from the state more than what is wrong with the system. If you can’t do it this year, do it next. Move toward homeschooling if you can. It’s easier than you think and there are some great programs available online that are totally independent of Common Core.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-great-escape-homeschooling/

SAGE tests affect grades 3 and up. AIR that provides this test, is a behavioral testing company. They are not an academic testing company. They are trained psychologists looking for behavioral information in the midst of academics.

http://utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/the-air-stinks-of-sage/

Here’s more reasons why you must opt your child out now, including more inappropriate SAGE questions.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/why-you-must-opt-your-child-out-of-all-computer-adaptive-tests/

If you have questions and fears about opting out and what it means for your child, check out this post and the 2 links at the bottom for Q&A with Alpine SD Board member Wendy Hart.

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sage-tests-will-my-child-be-labeled-non-proficient/

Some districts are pressuring parents to not pull their children out.

I’ve had a couple emails asking about Dr. Menlove’s letter he said he would write, regarding opting out. He emailed me yesterday and he’s waiting to see if the governor signs SB 122 on parental rights which includes the opt-out for parents. IF YOU HAVEN’T CALLED THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE YET, DO IT IMMEDIATELY. IF HE DOESN’T SIGN THIS BILL IT SIGNIFICANTLY HURTS THE ABILITY OF PARENTS TO OPT-OUT. Call 801-538-1000 between 8 and 5.

This is Dr. Menlove’s full reply. Again, call the governor to sign SB 122. Then go to the April 4th state board meeting and tell them you want schools and teachers to have no penalty for parents that opt out.

Mr. Norton,

Let me update you on my response to your request.

I prepared a document and shared it with State Board leadership as I previously indicated.

As the Legislative session came to an end, the State Board and USOE leadership identified bills passed by the 2014 Legislature that may be problematic to implement or create some other concern with State Board members.  This list included S.B. 122.  The concern with this legislation is section (9)(b) that basically says that opting-out by a student does not negatively impact school grading or employee evaluations.  Our current policy on opting-out could negatively impact both school grading and teacher evaluations.  As such it would be impossible to implement this new Code under our existing opt-out policies.    In fact, I am not certain what policy we may adopt that would fully support this new section of the Code.

Last Friday the State Board met to consider possible action on this S.B 122 and a couple of other bills.  The result of the discussion on this Bill was that the Board would revisit the USOE policy on opting-out.   Yesterday State School Board leadership met to set the agenda for the State School Board meeting on April 4, 2014.  It was determined that this item should be considered by the Board on April 4th.  Whereas Board action on April 4th may alter the current opt-out policies, I have determined that it is best for me to wait until after the April 4th meeting to issue any statement.

I apologize for this unintended delay.  I recognize that there continues to be confusion and inconsistency in information being shared about opting-out.  However, for me to issue a statement now and then have to alter that after April 4th, in my opinion, would only add to the existing confusion.

I will issue a clarifying document ASAP following the April 4th State Board meeting.

Martell Menlove

After asking him to encourage the state board to decouple SAGE exams from school and teacher ratings, he replied:

State law requires that student achievement data be use for both school grading and teacher evaluations. As such, I do not see any way to decouple SAGE from these State law mandated activities. This is my major concern with how to implement these programs fairly while honoring the right of parents to opt-out. Although opting-out has the potential for impacting federal reporting and funding, my major concern is with grading schools and evaluating teachers as mandated in Utah Code.

Martell

I replied that “I’m certain there are alternatives like NAEP or the IOWA tests or the old California Achievement Tests we could use. The computer adaptive tests and SAGE in particular are a real problem for a lot of people.”

State Code 53A-1-603 requires the administration of criterion referenced tests or online computer adaptive tests and then goes on to allocate funding for computer adaptive tests and outlines how those tests are to be administered.  I do not believe the State Board has the option of not administering computer adaptive tests.

Martell

To which I replied: “But under state law, parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the education of their children and if they choose to opt them out of tests, that is up to them. Schools are to play a secondary and supportive role. So regardless of SB 122, the state board should fully support the ability of a parent to opt their child out of tests. Parents are the consumers and have the authority and responsibility to determine what is in their child’s education interest.”

Get your SAGE opt out form here:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/action-list/opt-out-forms/

 

SAGE tests: Will my child be labeled non-proficient?

This comment was just left on this site on another post but I want to give it broader exposure and use it to introduce this post.

“I just googled CAT testing.  Computer Adaptive Testing.  I am wondering if the reason they are giving pre-SAGE tests is to gather a pool — “The pool must be calibrated with a psychometric model, which is used as a basis for the remaining four components. ” “In CAT, items are selected based on the examinee’s performance up to a given point in the test. However, the CAT is obviously not able to make any specific estimate of examinee ability when no items have been administered. So some other initial estimate of examinee ability is necessary. If some previous information regarding the examinee is known, it can be used,[1] but often the CAT just assumes that the examinee is of average ability – hence the first item often being of medium difficulty.”

So, when they say no data is being collected, do the kids put their name on the test? Is it just general pool material for the school/state or is it really a pool connected to the child’s name?”

Also, Debbie B. posted this on Facebook this week:

“My son is in Kindergarten and his very first experience with public school was the teacher rushing him to take his assessment test and in a roundabout way shaming him for being shy and not wanting to leave his mom (mind you, this was a couple of weeks before the school year started). He’s 6 and completely HATES school. His homework consists of spelling and memorizing words and math problems. He is also given spelling tests. In Kindergarten, for crying out loud. This is not age appropriate and is ruining his spirit about school. So what I’m wondering is, is it required that he take the assessment tests, or can I opt out of having him tested (is it a good idea to opt him out?). Also, will they not let a child advance to the next grade if they don’t complete the work in the steps that the core teaches (even if they know the answers, just in an easier fashion)? This is our first year and experience with public education and I’m NOT impressed. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.”

SAGE exams are the Common Core assessments the state got us into. We’ve been getting a slew of questions on SAGE exams as parents around the state opt-out using our formNot all districts are opt-out friendly, but most are. Charters are mostly not friendly toward opting out because current Utah law says if less than 95% of students take the test in a school, the school gets an automatic F grade, and charters do not want F grades when they rely on enrollments. However, SB 209 that just passed and is waiting to be signed into law, makes it so schools only drop 1 letter grade, and SB 122 that just passed says parents have a right to opt their child out. So what do schools mean by telling parents their child will be labeled non-proficient? Alpine school district board member Wendy Hart explains this and more in two new blog posts. Click these to get the scoop.

SAGE State Tests FAQ

SAGE tests: Will My Kid be Labeled ‘Non-Proficient?’

 

What hath Common Core wrought?

I received an email the other day from a substitute teacher who travels around and has kept track of the things she’s seen and heard. It’s mind numbing. After her stories, there is a story out of California as well. After reading the stories, check out this article showing even more issues.

Common Core math education intentionally designed to make America’s children mentally ill
http://www.naturalnews.com/044338_Common_Core_math_education_Americas_children.html

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

Oak,

Here are the few things I actually documented. There have been so many, but if I don’t write, I don’t remember. Now I wish I had written them ALL down. I promise I will do that from now on, and I’ll send them off to you. I have not included the dates or the schools on any of these, for I know that my assignments can be traced. There have been some days where I was the only sub at that school.

Some math problems I’ve encountered:

6th Grade Class: The math aide was flustered about the lesson she was teaching regarding volume. She kept getting the information wrong, because the lesson gave two separate formulas for volume: B x l x h and b x l x h. In the teacher’s manual, it gave B=base area, and b=the width of the base. However, on the student worksheet, B=width of base. The students had to spend time cutting out a rectangular box and tape or glue it together, measure it, then use it to figure the formula for volume, and the answer for their solid shape. This took up so much time, and most of the kids were confused about what B or b meant, so when they had to write the formula, they were still confused and didn’t understand it.

6th Grade Class: I have 34 candy bars. 29 got stolen. How many do I have left? Correct answer: On the left hand side of the page, draw 34 rectangles, and circle 3 sets of 10 each. There are 4 left over. Draw a line down the middle of the page. On the right side of the page, draw 29 rectangles. Circle 2 sets of 10 each. There are 9 left over. With another colored pencil, circle the 9 and bring it over to the left hand side of the page with an arrow to one of the circled 10. Cross out 9 of the 10 on the left hand side. Now use another colored pencil and circle the one that wasn’t crossed out, along with the 4 not previously circled.

3rd Grade Class: Kya jumped rope 77 times in a row. That was 49 times more than Katara. How many times did Katara jump? Correct answer: Draw 7 lines. Draw 7 little x’s. X out 4 lines. Circle 2 lines. X out the last line. Draw 2 separate x’s and circle them. Draw 8 little lines and circle them…The entire class made this diagram, some with success, some not. But the majority could not calculate the equation by borrowing, or even recognized the clues of “crossing out.” Most students just gave up.

3rd Grade Class: This took the class the entire math period. I had to take them on an array hunt throughout the entire school, both inside and out. Students drew arrays and the dimensions of each array, e.g. a column of 2 by 5 rows. Most students were not participating, and out of control. Duh, like that wouldn’t happen.

At Christmas time, 1st Grade: Students were to color, cut out and paste a witch onto a student-composed letter consisting of 4 things they could tell her that they had done to prove they were good, so she would give them presents on Christmas day. The teacher said she would send these to the good witch La Belfona.

Teachers at lunchtime were expressing their own confused state of mind regarding Common Core math, their compassion for their students–who they said did NOT understand it, and that THEY could not help them. They needed the math aide to come help!

At another school, teachers were saying how badly they felt because their Kindergartners did not have good enough keyboarding skills to even take the computer adaptive tests. Their reason was because they didn’t even know the complete alphabet yet, and yet they were scheduled that day to take the tests! The teachers knew there were going to be tears of frustration and mayhem.

One First grade class had to share mirrors to draw themselves EXACTLY as they saw themselves in the mirror, then label it with their first and last names, PLUS their date of birth. The assignment had to be completed in 15 minutes and turned in. They had to wait their turn, didn’t know their last names or if they knew them, they didn’t know how to spell them, and I didn’t have a list! Most didn’t know their birthDAY, let alone their birthDATE. Hence, they were confused, and out of control.

Regarding cell phone usage and District Policy: Most teachers do NOT abide by the rules and allow cell phones and earbuds during class. This is a TREMENDOUS problem. I caught one student watching a movie on her cell phone, told her to turn it off, or I would confiscate it. Just as the bell rang, she had it out and was watching the movie again! She went out the door before I could catch her.

100% of classes I substitute in where there are laptops, or full desktops, there is an internet abuse problem. About 1/2 the students in these classes are constantly playing games, going on their gmail, OR google images and loitering there. One day, a 4th grade student was looking up images for his power point presentation and on the same page as the image he was looking for, there was a close-up image of some sort of an animal’s vagina! He looked horrified, and told the boy next to him to look and see. This caught my attention, so I went over to see what they were looking at. I told him to get off that page! I had heard that this was not even possible, that there are protections built into the school internet systems. I can tell you from personal experience, that the amount of actual productive work completed on these devices is minimal AT BEST. This is a complete waste of educational time and citizen tax dollars, for computer usage is approaching half the class time.

Students cannot write legibly, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The excuse I hear is that it is taught solely in Kindergarten. The kindergarten handwriting lessons I have viewed and had to teach were pathetic. In one class, during “Centers” (that is the only time they were taught this subject), students had to fold a piece of paper lengthwise and unfold it, then fold it again width-wise, then unfold it. Then cut along a dotted line, then push the paper together, then fold it one way, then another, then fold it like a book. Then the students had to trace the letter “a” and then color it. They had 10 minutes to do this, and were so confused, some were crying. They had no time to practice writing the letter “a” and were not given the opportunity to even do so. THAT was their lesson on HOW to write the letter “a.”

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

I think those last two stories should be shared with legislators intent on transforming our classrooms into technology centers. We are losing basic skills. High tech CEO’s send their children to non-tech schools so they learn to think without technology thinking for them. But I digress…

This story is from a California teacher who has served in the highest capacities of their state’s system, but wishes to remain anonymous.

“I spent today watching a 90-minute in class lesson, using real students in a
real high school  geometry class, given by the math content expert for the local
district.

She starts out by passing out a hexagon and asks the kids to find the area.
They could not figure it out. So she passed out a page with rectangles that
had square units marked off and had the kids count the boxes. Eventually
they might have gotten base times width, though I am not sure. The district
version of Common Core means that we don’t give formulas, the kids need to
determine that themselves. Eventually they were to cut the rectangles in
half (three of them) and then the last one cut into three pieces, all of
them triangles. The kids them spent a half hour estimating the area of each
by counting. Never did the formula for area of a triangle come up.

90 minutes after the start of the lesson, the kids were instructed to (as
the bell rang) use their “knowledge”; to determine the area of their regular
hexagon. They had neither the ways or the time to do so. The paper was
their exit ticket. No practice problems, because Common Core doesn’t do
practice problems. I asked later in the debrief what would have been
assigned “if you had more time,” the response was that the kids could write
in their journals how they found the area of something in their houses.

I am not kidding. _______ can confirm this is true.

So 90 minutes was spent on a topic that is a 5th grade standard in the old
California standards, and that any teacher worth anything could have covered
- well – in five or ten.”

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Math Teacher Malin Williams Speaks Out

I received this email from math teacher and football coach Malin Williams who gave permission to post it with his name.

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My name is Malin Williams.  I teach math at Enterprise High School in the Washington County School District.  This letter is being typed at home on my own computer and on my own time. I did not participate in the essay contest, but have some thoughts that may be useful.  If so, use them.  These thoughts are my own and in no way am I attempting to speak for any official entity, organization, or individual besides myself.

It is difficult to express myself concerning the common core.  There is much “official support” for it.  I fear that teachers who oppose the common core may somehow be punished, but my perception is that most teachers do not really want the common core.  We want to be allowed to use our professional judgement and serve our students the best way we know how.  We welcome professional development which we can use to increase our effectiveness.  We chafe at being told “you must” by people who are not in our classrooms and communities.

I have spent a significant amount of time studying the pros and cons of the common core.  Many of the math standards are very good.  Some are not.  (Does a kindergarten student really need to know what a hexagon is…Does he really need to be able to distinguish between whether a shape is two dimensional or three dimensional?  Will this cause confusion and frustration unnecessarily?)  I am very concerned about Utah losing our ability to control our own educational standards and programs.  I am concerned about struggling students being forced from one failing experience to the next.  I am equally concerned about our best students being slowed down.  I would very much like my own children to be in a school that did not have to worry about federal controls, education standards with inflexible copyrights held by massive cooperatives, data mining, over-emphasizing of coercive testing and compliance, excessive corporate controls, etc.

We are moving ever farther from the small, locally controlled schools that produced our parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Family friendly schools and policies seem to be decreasing.  The schools and social forces that produced the greatest nation in the world are disappearing.  Will the new experiment work?  The farther we get from what made us great, the farther we seem to fall.  Hope and individual initiative seem to be decreasing.  Can they be successfully replaced by rigid standards and increased bureaucracy?   Must our sons and daughters be placed under more distant and more regimented controls?  Is federal money so necessary and dear to us?  Is parental input so unimportant?

My colleagues can be trusted.  We want to feel trusted and empowered.  We need to return local control and empowerment to Utah students, parents, and teachers by rejecting the common core.  We can do better.

Thank you.

Malin Williams
Head Football Coach
Level 4 Math Teacher
Enterprise High School

Feds move to tie Common Core to Federal Funding

Nobody on this site is shocked by this. We’ve see this coming from 2,100 miles away. The Governor, State Board members, and USOE keep denying it because they were deceived and have become defensive over time. Now they are happy in their delusions of reality. The longer we stay on the Common Core agenda (standards, computer adaptive assessments, data collection, etc…), the more beholden Utah will be to comply with federal mandates and curriculum interference. We need Utah off this whole agenda and back on its own high quality state standards. The feds are tightening the noose.

From the CATO institute: http://www.cato.org/blog/budget-proposal-its-not-just-about-core-coercion-anymore

The big story in the proposal is – or, at least, should be – that the president almost certainly wants to make the Core permanent by attaching annual federal funding to its use, and to performance on related tests. Just as the administration called for in its 2010 NCLB reauthorization proposal, POTUS wants to employ more than a one-time program, or temporary waivers, to impose “college and career-ready standards,” which–thanks to RTTT and waivers–is essentially synonymous with Common Core. In fact, President Obama proposes changing Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – of which NCLB is just the most recent reauthorization – to a program called “College- and Career-Ready Students,” with an annual appropriation of over $14 billion.

This was utterly predictable. Core opponents, who are so often smeared as conspiracy mongers, know full well both what the President has proposed in the past, and how government accumulates power over time. RTTT was the foot in the door, and once most states were using the same standards and tests, there was little question what Washington would eventually say: “Since everyone’s using the same tests and standards anyway, might as well make federal policy based on that.”

 

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