Category Archives: Reference

First, do no harm – Analysis by Utah Child Psych Center

I received a copy of this analysis and post it here with permission of the authors. The Early Life, Child Psychology and Education Center of South Jordan, Utah, has done an analysis of statements and positions of the U.S. Department of Education pertaining to Common Core assessments.  I will post the forward of the document below, but you can obtain the 44 page report by clicking this link.

PDF Download-Primum Non Nocere – First, Do No Harm: An Ethical & Psychology-Based Analysis of The U.S. Department of Education’s Change In Common Core Testing Policies for Divergent Learning Children In Public Schools

Early Life Child Psychology CenterForward:

Primum non nocere in Latin means “first, do no harm.” One of the elemental precepts of ethics, taught across disciplines and throughout the world, this ancient principle holds that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good. It reminds
the doctor, the psychologist and the educator that he or she must  consider possible damage that any intervention might do and to invoke Primum non nocere when considering use of any intervention that carries a less- than-certain chance of benefit.

As objective, local clinical community scientists, we at Early Life Child
Psychology and Education Center have had no previous interest or involvement in education public policy or in politics. Our involvement now stems from observations as professionals, is founded on ethics, and must increase as we see that as a consequence of changes in education policy, many children’s lives are being fractured.

We are not a special interest group: within the walls of our Education Psychology Clinic are professionals from diverse cultural, political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, united under one cause: the ethical and safe practice of administering psychological assessment, therapy, and educational interventions to “divergent learning” children who reside in our respective communities in Southern California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. We are African Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Asians, progressives, tea party activists, socialists, LGBT, traditionally married and single parents, agnostics and conservative Christians.

The harmony we share as a diverse group of clinicians-educators, dedicated to serving the needs of children, has not been duplicated by the diverse group of political and corporate public policy makers who have been entrusted with decision-making power. We here note: that agenda-laden political and corporate partnerships, entrusted with power, have made life-altering decisions regarding education policies for children in public schools, placing their interests above the direct needs of children, resulting in ground-level chaos we have heretofore never seen.

This paper is written not only because of our professional observations of increased numbers of suffering public school children whom our clinic serves; it is also written in response to recent public policy changes, initiated by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan under the 2015 reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, regarding assessment practices and states’ loss of authority over the education of our nation’s “special education” children. Those new policies and the cited research, upon which they claim to be based, are herein examined.

Under the light and concept of ethics, using ethical application of peer-reviewed science toward the subject matter of testing and mental health, this paper examines the influence of each on education policies. It will be clear to objective readers that Secretary Duncan’s policies do not share the ethical professionals’ commitment to the standards set by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Code of Ethics. The US Department of Education’s interpretation of cited “studies” used to justify policy changes have been dangerously manipulated and are utilized to achieve political goals at the expense of millions of public school children.

We strongly encourage politicians, policy makers, and state education leaders to examine education policies under the light and scope of ethics, as opposed to catering to the requests of corporate and political special interests. Failure to do so will result in harm to our nation’s vulnerable divergent learning children, including African American, Latino, autistic, dyslexic, gifted, mentally ill, poverty-stricken, and “learning disabled” children.

Parents, not governments, are and must always be the resident experts of their own children.

May readers be endowed with discernment and wisdom as they ponder the effects of policy in the service of children.

Solution: Utah should adopt California’s math standards

I heard from someone last week who had someone complain to her that this site is just negative and never offers solutions. Regardless of the fact that we have several posts on this site that clearly outline solutions and alternatives to Common Core, let me explain very clearly why Utah should adopt California’s math standards. Thankfully, a brand new study was released this week that makes this an even better option.

Ze’ev Wurman is the author of this study which was just published by the American Principles Project this week and is called, “Why students need strong standards [and not Common Core]“. Ze’ev is a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institute and a former senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Education. In this paper he explains what’s been happening in California and it’s pretty stunning.

The brief history: California took a nose dive in the 90’s as a result of embracing constructivist fuzzy math and went from one of the very top states to second lowest. In 1997, Gov. Pete Wilson put the brakes on things and got mathematicians involved in writing their state’s standards and they developed what are arguably the very best math standards in the country and CA has been recovering from their fall ever since.

California’s math standards were internationally benchmarked

In a recent email exchange with Dr. Jim Milgram from Stanford, he said the CA standards were written to specifically benchmark California 6 months behind the high achieving nations. They did this intentionally because they didn’t feel that students in CA were ready to make a full leap to the same level as their high achieving peers.

In the high achieving nations, students complete algebra 1 and all or part of geometry by 8th grade. The CA standards were written with this in mind. How have they fared in getting more students through algebra 1 in 8th grade? Pretty amazing. Here’s a page from Ze’ev’s study which shows in a 10 year period the number of students who were proficient in algebra by 8th grade had tripled. Even more amazing is in figure 5 that shows low socioeconomic status students and minorities had increases of up to 6 times their initial rates. STUNNING! What other state can claim this kind of progress?

California's math progress


Ze’ev’s study also points out that in 2008, the NGA and CCSSO published the “Benchmarking for Success” document which stated as it’s first recommendation:


“Action I: Upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.

This report called, then, for what has since become known as the Common Core State Standards. It went on to declare:

Research has revealed striking similarities among the math and science standards in top-performing nations, along with stark differences between those world class expectations and the standards adopted by most U.S. states.… By the eighth grade, students in top performing nations are studying algebra and geometry, while in the U.S., most eighth-grade math courses focus on arithmetic.

In other words, the rallying cry for the establishment of a common core of content standards in 2008 explicitly acknowledged that for the U.S. to be benchmarked against top-performing countries, we should teach algebra in the 8th grade.

Yet when the Common Core standards were published a little more than a year later, in the early summer of 2010, they firmly placed the first algebra course in … high school!”


So Common Core, and particularly as it has been adopted in Utah using the integrated method, places completion of algebra firmly in 9th grade for most students and geometry in 10th. Since we are on the integrated path, unlike any other state except Vermont, students can’t accelerate like I did in high school when I got serious about math and took geometry and algebra 2 in 10th grade so I could take calculus in 12th. You can’t do that with the integrated method.

Fordham Foundation

We all know that the Fordham Foundation was paid a sizable amount of money from the Gates Foundation to grade the Common Core standards and they gave them an A-. The standards are admittedly better than most of the states were using but there were better options that Utah and other states had when we rushed into Common Core without glancing in the rear view mirror.

The Fordham Foundation compared California’s standards (10/10 – A) with Common Core (A-) and had these nice things to say (these are clips. Emphasis mine):


California’s standards could well serve as a model for internationally com­petitive national standards. They are explicit, clear, and cover the essential topics for rigorous mathematics instruction. The introduction for the stan­dards is notable for providing excellent and clear guidance on mathematics education. The introduction states simply:

‘An important theme stressed throughout this framework is the need for a balance in emphasis on computational and procedural skills, conceptual understanding, and problem solving. This balance is defined by the standards and is illustrated by problems that focus on these components individually and in combination. All three components are essential.’

California has provided a set of standards that achieves these goals admirably.” …

Content Strengths:

“These standards cover nearly all of the essential content. They explicitly prioritize foundational mathematics and out­line a clear and coherent path for mathematics education.

The essential content of elementary arithmetic is developed well and emphasized throughout.”…

The Bottom Line:

“With some minor differences, Common Core and California both cover the essential content for a rigorous, K-12 math­ematics program. That said, California’s standards are exceptionally clear and well presented, and indeed represent a model for mathematically sound writing. They are further supported by excellent peripheral material, including the Framework that provides clear and detailed guidance on the standards. Taken together, these enhancements make the standards easier to read and follow than Common Core. In addition, the high school content is organized so that the standards about various topics, such as quadratic functions, are grouped together in a mathematically coherent way. The organization of the Common Core is more difficult to navigate, in part because standards on related topics sometimes appear separately rather than together.

Common Core includes some minor high school content—including the vertex form of quadratics and max/min prob­lems—that is missing in California.”

Fordham’s review also notes that California has quite a few standards but they mitigate the problem by using a “green dot” system by identifying a smaller number of critical standards that students must deeply understand in order to progress with the key concepts emphasized. Fordham says “priorities are thus set admirably.”

The Green Dot Standards

What are “green dot” standards? Dr. Milgram did a powerpoint presentation on the California standards some time ago which I just found online and took some images from. In each grade level there are standards that tells teachers what content should be covered during the year for students. Not all standards are equal in importance though, and California put green ovals around the standards that were of primary importance in advancing student understanding so teachers would know where to spend the bulk of their time. They were notified that 85% of state test questions would come from such standards. The first image is of standards from grade 1 as written, and the image below shows standards numbers in a key for each grade level and which get the green dot treatment.

Green Dot Standards

Green Dot Standards

Click here to download the full PDF of California’s Green Dot standards.

Utah Higher Ed Support

In 2006 when Utah was considering what to do for a math standards revision, Dr. David Wright, BYU math professor, distributed a petition to Utah professors of math, sciences, and engineering asking them to support adopting California’s math standards. At that time, the USOE rejected adopting California’s standards because they “didn’t want to be like California.” They claimed that Utah was unique and had unique needs and we needed to have our own standards. Just a few years later those notions went out the window and the USOE embraced Common Core without ever pilot testing it and pushed out our 2007 standards that got most students to algebra by 8th grade. Here is Dr. Wright’s petition:

A Petition Directed to the State of Utah

We ask the state of Utah to adopt and implement the California Mathematics Standards for our public schools. We agree with the Fordham Foundation report on state mathematics standards that gave Utah’s current standards a D rating while giving California an A. We agree with the foundation’s assessment, “California’s standards are excellent in every respect. The language is crystal clear, important topics are given priority, and key connections between different skills and tasks are explicitly addressed. Computational skills, problem-solving, and mathematical reasoning are unambiguously supported and integrated throughout.” We want our Utah children to master the mathematics they need to compete favorably with the best students of other states and nations. Setting good standards is an important step toward achieving that goal. Please adopt and implement the California Mathematics Standards for our public schools.

Over 140 professors from around Utah signed this petition. You can view their names here.

One last chance for Common Core

Jason Zimba was one of the 3 writers of the Common Core math standards. After the standards were released, Jason was invited to testify to the Massachusetts school board on March 23, 2010. Dr. Sandra Stotsky was a member of the board at that time and had this exchange with Jason. Note particularly that he says the college readiness level in Common Core is minimal and Common Core was written for the schools most kids go to, not the ones parents aspire for their children to go to. He also notes it’s not for STEM or selective colleges.

Can we legally use California’s math standards?

A parent in Idaho has been engaged with an official in California on the possibility of using their math standards. This official, Dexter Fernandez, replied back that a state would simply need to request a copyright release to obtain permission and then stated, “There are many school systems, primarily overseas, that ask permission to use our standards.  Permission in those cases is routinely given.  I don’t see an issue with other states/school districts.” Utah, we have a green light to go with California’s green dot math standards.


What business does Utah have adopting standards that aren’t the best and then saying they’ll just fix the deficiencies as we go? How many iterations will we have to endure till they are “just right” and actually benchmark us with the high achieving nations of the world. The Common Core reform issues aren’t going to go away. There is just too much baggage and too many concerns on too many levels. I believe the simplest solution is to adopt the best available, tested, internationally benchmarked standards that are proven effective for all students. The added benefit with adopting CA’s standards is that since the state was so large, publishers actually wrote textbooks and curriculum specific to the CA standards. There is no recreating the wheel or piecing together lesson plans from multiple sources. Plenty of publishers produced quality materials that would be easily accessible.

Adopt California’s standards, assessments, and curricula, and a big part of the Common Core controversy goes away because we will have world-class standards, non-federally tracked assessments, proven curricula, and we can step back knowing our children are going to learn math beyond what any of their peers will in the United States. I call that college, career, and life ready standards.

Action Item

Please email a link to this page to your legislators (, state board members (, and local district or charter school board members. I believe this solution is what Utah needs.

For the solution to what to do for ELA standards, click here and then here. The first link is to Dr. Stotsky’s revision of the pre-Common Core Massachusetts standards which were the best in the country and made stronger by her revision (and nobody is using them), and the second link is to her offer to come to Utah for free and work with teachers to give Utah the best ELA standards in the nation.

Partisan School Board Resolution Debate

A couple Saturday’s ago, the Utah county delegates voted to enact a couple resolutions against Common Core, and in favor of partisan school board elections, and leave a meeting on time instead of listening to all the debate and running over time. I was asked by Kirby Glad to make remarks in favor of the resolution for partisan school board elections, while Dave Thomas, a member of the state school board was to present against the resolution. You can obtain a copy of the resolutions by clicking here and scrolling to the end:

Since the delegates didn’t get to hear both sides of the story and I would have preferred they got the opportunity, I invited Dave Thomas to send me his remarks against the resolution and told him I would publish them here. He didn’t respond, but Kim Burningham, another State School Board member wrote a blog post sharing his reasoning against partisan school board elections.

I will now post my speech, a link and quote from Kim’s, and my brief rebuttal of Kim’s reasoning.

My fellow delegates,

Is there a single delegate in this room who would put party politics above your own children or grandchildren?

I don’t believe so. The purpose of the delegate system is to elect people willing to spend the time to find principled people who are NOT beholden to anyone, but share our values.

We have before us a resolution which gets to the heart of the caucus system. Either we believe in the ability of delegates (us, our friends, our neighbors) to ask tough questions and make good decisions, or we do not accept the premise of representational government and might as well complete a transition to an oligarchy of hopefully benevolent rulers.

When the Framers of the constitution guaranteed a republican form of government to every state, the core issue for them was pushing control to the local level. Let the local wards, Jefferson said, elect representatives amongst themselves. Why? Because the general populace will never take the time to investigate candidates to find good and wise people to hold office.

What is the role of a school board member? Is it to defend the school district from public scrutiny or to be a watchdog for taxpayers and parents? You and I know it’s the latter but that is not the reality. Board members who are not elected by the people are not likely to feel accountable to them. At the state level, board members are subjected to a Governor appointed vetting committee who eliminate all candidates that don’t match their views such as their litmus test for supporting Common Core. At the local level we have board members who are supported by their party, the education establishment, and they are rubber stamps to the administrations that got them elected.

We know the current system doesn’t work. We keep seeing the same people appointed to the ballot who actually favor federal dollars in our schools which come with federal strings attached to them. The alternative of non-partisan elections just guarantees that the NEA/UEA candidates have strong support through their network while true conservatives do not have anyone to get the word out – a key purpose of a political party. They condemn conservatives for wanting a greater say in education through partisan elections, but have no problem maintaining political power through their Union.

Partisan elections allow a small representative segment of society elected as delegates to dig in, ask the tough questions, and make a representative choice for the greater whole of a political party and notify voters that the candidate they’ve chosen is the one they feel is the best for the job and shares core values and beliefs with members of that political party. It doesn’t make that candidate beholden to party politics, it’s a matter of having candidates closely vetted before getting to the ballot and making sure their core values match yours.

The largest budget item in Utah is education. 15 people are selected to run a $4 billion budget. We can’t elect the people we encourage to run because the governor’s appointed board eliminates most candidates before they are seen publicly, and everyone who opposes Common Core.

In Alpine school district, each of 7 non-partisan elected board members is responsible for $84 million. By comparison, each of our 3 county commissioners is responsible for $24 million.

In 2009, the state office of education submitted a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the federal department of education, to begin the process of participating in Common Core and contains an entire unconstitutional paragraph they had to acknowledge titled “Federal Role” in education.

During the last legislative session, two senior officials at the State Office of Education sent out an email to educators all across the state against Representative Brian Greene’s partisan election bill stating, “This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, and would prohibit us from adopting any national standards.” Don’t tell me the state office favors local control.

A vote for this resolution is a vote for trusting the caucus system. A vote for this resolution is a vote for common sense and trusting our neighbors.

A vote against it is a vote for maintaining a concentration of political power in special interest groups who can sway the general public with sound-bite campaigns instead of meaningful dialog. I urge you to support this resolution.

Kim Burningham’s article:

Kim argues that state school board members should be chosen in nonpartisan elections. His actual argument is based in the Utah Constitution. He said:

“For a similar reason, I find alternative # 2 very troubling.   The State Constitution specifically prohibits it. Article X, Section 8 of the Utah Constitution: ‘No religious or partisan test or qualification shall be required as a condition of employment, admission, or attendance in the state’s education systems.'”

It is stunning to me that someone so experienced as Kim Burningham would take the state constitution so far afield of what it actually means. Kim quoted Article X, Section 8 of the Utah Constitution as: “No religious or partisan test or qualification shall be required as a condition of employment, admission,or attendance in the state’s education systems.” This is merely saying we can’t put a litmus test on a particular office such as “only Mormons or members of the Church of England can hold that position.” It’s why the Framers put similar language into the U.S. Constitution, which reads: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  Partisan elections ARE LEGAL and used in a majority of political races in Utah in order to closely vet candidates for office.

Hegelian Dialectic in CC ELA Standards

Larry Ballard, a candidate for the Nebo school district, recently opened my eyes more fully to the Hegelian Dialectic and how it is written into the Common Core ELA standards. This excellent essay from him needs to be read and shared. I bolded a part below which I think is one of the clearest ways of explaining this concept and why it’s so diabolical. This takes people who hold an absolute truth and shifts them away from it incrementally. Don’t miss this article. It’s one of the best I’ve read. Thank you for writing this Larry.


There is a subtle methodology employed in the structuring of the young mind that occurs in the ELA Standards K-5. It has to do with the dialectic. It has to do with whether truth is relative or absolute.

Trevor Loudon states, “Why should you care about the Hegelian Dialectic? How does it affect me? The dialectic philosophy devised by Georg Hegel underpins the entire political and social strategy of the radical left. The dialectical approach to ‘consensus-building’ and ‘conflict resolution’ is the process with which the radical left attempts to control and manipulate outcomes.” In order to grasp the content of this essay, you will need to go to Mr. Loudon’s short article about the dialectic. You can find it here:

There are entire books written about the dialectic process. Suffice it to say that absolute truth is a single understanding of the mind that resonates with reality. It stands alone, will continue to bring consonance to the mind, and will withstand any assault to its proven reliability. A false truth can become the norm. Open-minded wrestling with an opposite challenging view to one’s truth will either reinforce the long-held truth; or will reveal that the old truth is no longer valid and has been proven false. A falsehood held to be truth is replaced by the newly discovered truth replacing the prior deception. Absolute truth can also imply a God creator who can communicate such truth to the mind of man. For example, when Kepler revealed the absolute mathematical reality of the proportionality of the solar system, he made a giant and miraculous leap that he personally attributed to his connecting with the mind of God. He stated that the discovery came from the mind of God to his mind. It can never change. It cannot someday evolve into a greater truth. He did not exchange an old truth for a new truth. His proportionality equation simply is.

So, what does it matter that the dialectic is found in the ELA Standards? Loudon says it this way, “Hegelian dialectical theory is simply a philosophy, a way of thinking—a thought process. But when taken to the extreme, and applied by unscrupulous characters, it is a very dangerous and lethal strategy. For it is not a new strategy or idea, but an ancient one. And it takes many forms. Indeed, it can be difficult to expose the strategy, even by those deeply familiar with it, because the agenda is hidden, and the predetermined ends are kept secret by those employing the strategy.”

The dialectic is an account of reality which eschews the concept of absolutes. It de-emphasizes the concept of the Individual. It unites with Darwinian evolutional theory and Marxist theories of a collectivist society. Karl Marx stated, “In the eyes of dialectical philosophy, nothing is established for all times, nothing is absolute or sacred.” Everything is changing—evolving. Think about the process. Take a commonly accepted truth. Now hold it up to scrutiny. A new idea is introduced to challenge the thesis. The anti concept wrestles with the truth in the minds of people. Instead of resolution coming on one side or the other of the dialectic, the resolution to the conflict is a consensus compromise—a synthesis. But, the process does not stop there. As all truth is relative, once the resolution is determined, a new concept is brought forward in counterpoint to the arrived at synthesis of the originally held truth. And the process continues, and continues, and continues. So, the question becomes as to whether this relativistic methodology steeped in gradualism is a secret methodology to greater understanding and truth; or is it a methodology of mind manipulation intent of an evolving movement towards a predetermined end point? Problem—reaction—solution. This methodology begins with, not one absolute truth; rather two opposites in conflict with each other.

What have we learned? There is a dialectical thought process. And, there is a didactic thinking process. The didactic process holds that 2 + 2= 4. The dialectic would suggest that 2 + 2 could = 22 or even 24 or some other answer. The answer may not be as important as the process. In the end, the methodology will produce a consonance or a dissonance. But, what if the dialectic is socially reinforced so that the individual is not allowed to find resolution and is compelled to live within a state of cognitive dissonance? What does this do to the human soul?

On the Silicone Valley Community Foundation web page we find the following video explaining a most cumbersome methodology in discovering how to come up with a correct math problem.

You will notice that rather than simply addressing the correct way to apply the absolute historically proven way of doing math, the problem gets personalized by attaching two “people” with opposing views to the teaching methodology in the persons of Rob and Sue. The teacher asks, “Who do you agree with?” Then the students are split up into groups of two and collaborate in order to come up with a consensus answer. The teacher is focused on the methodology in order to guide the students to the correct answer. Critical thinking is inherent to the problem solving process. But, what about the underlying reformed methodology? Has the dialectic been overlooked and simply accepted as the norm over the didactic?

In the Common Core ELA standards we frequently find the phrase, “Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story…” If you read through the Standards you will find the word “two” a lot. And, you will find that “group reading activities” prevail. Here is another phrase, “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” The dialectic approach is only apparent. So, the question becomes whether the concept of absolute truth is allowed for within the methodology of the Standards. Could it be that the “critical thinking skills” being taught are the Hegelian Dialectic and it alone? Is the “if and only if” situation that a God creator could reveal absolute truth to man being purged from the equation? Is it being made possible that 3 times 4 actually equal 11 so long as whatever method, valid or invalid, used to arrive at the relative answer can be verbalized? It is the “critical thinking” element that rules the predetermined outcome in which the brain is being trained in the dialectic methodology of relativity.

During a recent debate for Alpine School Board, Wendy Hart and others were asked if politics had a part in the common core debate. Consider that it was the concept of the dialectic that Hegel promoted that, alongside Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, were the backbone and the sinew of Communism and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Both constructs are intellectually stimulating. Intellectually stimulating does not necessarily translate into universal absolute truth or moral goodness. As with the Common Core dialectic, do we find ourselves bouncing off of walls from one crisis to the next these days? This article is simply a starting off point in raising the possibility that if Hegel’s philosophy of idealistic dialectics and Marx’s theory of dialectic materialism are at the core of the methodology of the new common core curriculum, we might want to pay attention and begin to question why?

-Larry Ballard



Dr. Duke Pesta on CC Math

Here’s an excellent little video from Dr. Duke Pesta on Common Core math. At one point I think he says a particular aspect of the curriculum is being used in dozens of schools, but I think he’s talking about a local school district, because the constructivist approach is being used all over, especially Utah.

Online Brainstorming Session

We need to capitalize on the energy following last night’s “We Will Not Conform” event. Let’s work together to strategize and organize to kick Common Core and all it’s entanglements to the curb!  In the comment section below post your ideas on how to take action now and organize locally. Here are some ideas to start:

  • Make T-shirts
  • Yard Signs
  • T-shirt design contest
  • Hold an organizing convention
  • Organize by District
  • Radio Ads

Comments will only be approved if they’re positive, constructive, and don’t involve name calling.

Organize Yourselves

I got an email yesterday from Jenny Baker in Southern Utah where she has organized a parent rights committee. She agreed to let me publish her email to me to help inspire other groups to form in various school districts around the state. If you want to form a group, you can also advertise for support in our Facebook group to find people in your area. Organizing by school district is a great idea, or even your county. Jenny’s group is off to a great start and we wish them much success in accomplishing their goals.


These are the notes of the May 13th Washington County for Parental Rights committee meeting


12 members attended the school board meeting today:

Amy Drawe did a great job in her 3 minute talking time.  She asked 1-how many times they will do the sage tests next year, 2- if teachers have been asked to not talk about CommonCore.  3- where we can find out where the school board candidates stand on CC. 4- she asked for a raise of hands who does/ does not support it.

The school board claimed to have no control over CC.  Superintendent Burgeson recited the talking points that we have heard before.  They basically ignores all of her questions.  BUT….we did meet a few new members that we are now working with!


The 7:00 meeting went as follows:

These goals were accepted by the body


1- 25% opt out rate in all schools by the first day of the 2014-2015 school year.

2-work with school boards throughout summer to get opt out policies in place before the school year begins.

3- only anti-CC candidates winning in this upcoming election.

4- Have all elected officials (from Washington County) against CC before legislative sessions start next January.

5- create a teachers advocacy group.

6- Teach parents that they are great parents with great kids no matter what the testing says. (Especially for younger moms and Hispanic communities)

7- Get homeschool groups to help other moms know how to homeschool and organize homeschool groups.
(It was decided that our talking points need to be about strengthening parents, asking questions to get them to ask questions (eg. How did your child feel about the sage tests?  Did you know that teachers and parents will not see the tests?  How are students and teachers supposed to improve if they can’t see the tests? Why do we need the tests then?).  OUR JOB IS TO EMPOWER PARENTS AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY!


The following committees were discussed and chairmen were appointed.

(Minutes in parentheses)


Proposed committees:

1-Publicity Committee- (Kristine Wagner will talk with Kate and Bryan to fill this opening)

a-social media updates

b- write op ed pieces for news media

c- make media connections

d- organize a committee


2- School boards and administrators Committee-(will Amy Drawe, Tanya Sutterfield and or Amy Chase chair this,  any other volunteers?)

a- representing group at school board meetings.

(Currently, Durfey Supports CC, Seegmiller has concerns, Hesson supports, Christiansen opposes, Holloway supports—we need to educate them!)

b- instructing others on how to talk with administrators & school board

c- fact check and rebuttal of material sent from the school

d- organize a committee. (Get a question and answer meeting arranged for new candidates)
3- Constitutional Committee-(Kristine Wagner-chairman,  can Brent Hall help?)

a- contact delegates and candidates and report on how they stand (Kristine will make a plan for us to help  anti-CC delegates win the primaries  on June 24)

b- instruct others on contacting public representatives

c- educate politicians

d- organize a political committee
4- Home school/private schools Committee-(Ann & Eric Grob, Karen Stead and Marta Harr to chair.   They will get home school info on our blog.)

a- educate those outside of system to see the problems and work with us.

b- help board see their needs.

c- organize a home school committee
5- Teachers Committee- (Michelle Boulter, Teresa Lindquist, Kristine Wagner will ask Nancy ? To chair)

a- find out how we can help teachers. Be their advocate. (Work w/lawyer?)*

b- develop ways to keep them from being fired for speaking out.

c- educate teachers on Common Core

d- organize a teachers committee
6- Education Committee- (Michelle Boulter and Teresa Lindquist to chair).

a- arrange classes and guest speakers (once a month- in different areas of the community). (They will start a blog)

b- gather talking points and other educational material and distribute.

c- keep board up to date on all new information (laws, bills, etc.)

d- organize an education committee
7- Community Committee-(Jenny Baker, Donna Williams to chair)

a- work with civic groups(eg. Wash Co republican women lunch this week) to raise awareness

b- seek out other groups to combine efforts

c- work with other groups in Utah.

d- organize a committee
Proposed area representatives.  (Let me know if changes need to be made)

Santa Clara/Ivins- Tanya Sutterfield

Hurricane/LaVerkin-  Amy Drawe

Washington Fields- Kristine Wagner

Washington- Jared and Teresa Lindquist

Bloomington- Marta Harr

St. George proper/Green Valley- Jenny Baker

Hispanic Community- (Holly Wilkinson will ask her friend)

Little Valley- Michelle Boulter


Next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 29 at 7:00 PM at Jenny Baker’s home 1039 S. 1080 W. St. George (on Indian Hills Drive). All who wish to help this cause are invited.

*for those who could not attend:  feel free to sign up for a committee.  And come to the next meeting!!  Bring a friend!

Here are a few resources the board asked for:

Books:  “The story killers” by Terrance O. Moore. “Conform” by Glenn Beck

Thank you for all of your hard work!  I am so excited about the plans that have been made and for the overwhelming support for our cause!

Call if you have questions!

Jenny Baker


Letter to a State Senator explaining Common Core’s Scope

In a recent email exchange with a senator, I responded to a couple questions which I thought I’d post here for others to read as well. He stated he was in agreement that we need to get rid of Common Core, but asked about solutions. This was my letter to him.


I’m providing you some links which I truly hope you will read and grasp a sense of the scope of the problem we are facing. The education establishment really has their heads in the sand and refuses to make the obvious connections. They don’t mind federal control as long as they get that money. We have to get off federal money.

On your item 2, Common Core isn’t a curriculum. It’s an agenda. I don’t think many people fully grasp this. If you were going to test a theory by changing something in a system, you would, under scientific principles, change one variable and hold the rest constant so you could measure the change. That’s the intelligent thing to do. If you were to change everything in a system including the way you measure performance, it would be meaningless. Under Common Core, they changed the standards, the curriculum, and they’ve also completely changed the testing both within schools (SAGE) and for college prep, David Coleman the president of the College Board and architect of Common Core has now changed the ACT, SAT, AP, and GED tests to align with Common Core. There is no possible way to measure the positives, or the negatives of what Common Core is inflicting on our children. It’s a giant psychological experiment that was never piloted anywhere. Common Core covers standards, assessments, database tracking of children from preschool into the workforce, highly effective teacher “redistribution” to “low performing” schools, privacy loosening, teacher punishing, etc… The list goes on.

I strongly encourage you to read these articles so you understand the scope of what we’re dealing with. (especially watch the video clip of Bill Gates, the funder of Common Core. You may not know that Microsoft signed an agreement with UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system. 10 years later Gates has spent $300 million on Common Core and much more globally to create this system.)

You ask about curriculum… Common Core was designed and collaborated on by the big players like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, etc… Common Core was rushed to the states before curriculum could be developed by other providers and as a result, everyone had to scramble and buy what a handful of major companies were ready for. They are being enriched with billions of dollars. Total boondoggle.

You bring up the notion that our students were mediocre and this is a lie that the state office tells in order to fit their circumstances. One minute it’s “we’re the lowest funded state but look at the awesome results we get,” and the next it’s, “our standards were so bad before Common Core that we just had to do something.” The people that play this game are liars.

In 2006 I succeeded with others in getting the legislature to pressure the USOE and state sup to redo our math standards. They fought this even though our math standards were D rated. In 2007, the new standards were given an A- and implemented in 2008-09 school year. They were a huge improvement. Keep in mind the USOE fought the change and gave multiple reasons why we shouldn’t change. In 2010, just 2 years into the new standards, Common Core comes out and they jump on board before the new standards had even been released. Why? They had a chance to get some Race to the Top money. To apply, they simply had to adopt the standards before they’d been piloted anywhere. So they did…2 days after the final draft of the standards came out. Pure idiocy. The math standards only go completely through algebra 2 because the people who made the standards testified they weren’t to prepare students for selective colleges, but non-selective (ie. 2 year and lower tier 4 year colleges). Common Core standards are truly minimal standards, but now they’ve tied high stakes tests to them so teachers are scrambling to ONLY teach what’s going to be on the test. Our children will NEVER excel under Common Core. Math implementation is a disaster because they’re using constructivist approaches to math which pretty much confuses both the student and the teacher (and the parents who try to help them). Further, because Utah adopted math in the integrated fashion instead of discrete years of math, we’ve now pushed algebra 1 completion to 9th grade for most students where it was in 8th grade under our 2007 standards. How is that an improvement? Now most kids can’t get to calculus unless they entered the honors track in 7th grade. In English, they’ve reduced literature to 50% of the reading assignments and the other 50% is informational texts like EPA reports (one example they cite). I could go on and on here but let me get to the solution. Here are two posts that outline the highest quality ELA standards available, and on math, we can either return to our 2007 standards or adopt someone else’s that is clearly superior to Common Core, such as CA’s which was great, and since the state was so big, textbook publishers actually wrote curriculum specifically for the state, so we could acquire some really good textbooks written specifically for the standards.

I realize I’m giving you a good bit of homework here and I truly hope you will read it. If there’s one more thing I would like you to know about which I think would have more effect on education in Utah than many things, please watch the 6 minute video I made here:

Partisan School Board Election Arguments

In an effort to assist people in their arguments in favor of partisan school board elections for Utah boards, this page contains a list of resources which will help explain what this is and why it is necessary.

Partisan school board elections means the political parties vet their own candidates to find the best qualified individual for an office, using the excellent Utah caucus system where local neighborhoods elect delegates to represent them and ask tough questions to find out the positions of the candidates. Those party candidates then go on the ballot as the best candidate a party has to offer up against competing party candidates. The immediate primary benefit is to eliminate special interest money because instead of a well-funded candidate marketing to the masses through signs and media messages, delegates attend multiple meetings where they can ask probing questions about a candidates’ background, vision, experience, reasons for running, etc… Some candidates who aren’t well known can rise to the top here because money is not nearly as big a factor as in a primary or general election. Delegates make an informed decision and commit themselves to hours of research work whereas even the voting public typically doesn’t even know who their school board member is.

The reason this resolution came up is because it is difficult to overcome the power of the single education party which runs their candidates under the radar by endorsing through their network individuals for office, whereas there is no competing party to challenge them. The education establishment welcomes federal control of education as you’ll see in primary source documents below. They have embraced Common Core and shut out all candidates from serving on the state school board who oppose Common Core. The only organizations large enough to challenge the status quo are the political parties. Some fear that that means someone will walk into a booth and blindly check the box for all [insert your political party] and not consider others running for that position. This will certainly happen, but at least they will know that the candidates should have a philosophical alignment with them and not see a couple names presented that they have no clue who those people are and what they stand for and then randomly vote in an effort to “do their civic duty.”

Here are resources which I encourage you to read and share with others.


Why is the system broken? How are state board members elected?

State board members aren’t really elected. They are selected by a committee of the Governor’s appointees and they reduce the field down to 3 candidates by asking for responses on 5-6 questions and then a 10 minute interview. Then the Governor reviews those 3 candidates and crosses off the name of one more individual, and the 2 remaining candidates go on the ballot. Contrast this to the hours of vetting that happens with our caucus/delegate system which allows candidates to explain their views and principles in depth to locally elected representatives, and make the case as to why they are the best candidate.


Does the education establishment have power to influence elections? Yes (Nicole Toomey Davis’ story of how she made it onto the ballot unsupported by any political party, while her opponent had tremendous support from the education establishment “party”. Nicole was defeated.)


Were people eliminated from the state board race due to opposing Common Core? Yes (This is Kim Kehrer’s story. The candidate “selection” committee asked candidates for their views on Common Core. Kim was eliminated after expressing concerns based on her own research. The entire state school board is pro-Common Core and vetted to ensure that view. The governor is going to head the NGA (National Governor’s Association) next year and the NGA and CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) created Common Core so he certainly doesn’t want to be the state that rocks the boat on Common Core at this point.


Does the Utah education establishment welcome federal control? Yes

Utah submitted a signed Memorandum of Understanding was in 2009 by then Governor Huntsman and State Superintendent Patti Harrington, to begin the process of participating in Common Core and contains an entire paragraph they had to acknowledge titled “Federal Role” in education. This is completely unconstitutional but they signed this document in violation of their oaths of office to uphold the U.S. and Utah Constitutions. Read the document here:


Why partisan school board elections at the district level?

Because Utah’s school districts are so massive, the public cannot know the details about who is running. There is tremendous apathy about these incredibly important elections. Partisan elections let hundreds of delegates get involved and vet these candidates. Utah is called the best managed state because we let delegates vet most candidates. We should use the same process and get the best managed education system as well. This post contains over a dozen reasons for partisan elections and also shows the tremendous confusion non-partisan candidates can cause the voting public through their campaigning efforts.


I heard that the legislature rejected Rep. Brian Greene’s Partisan school board election bill. Why?

The education establishment rallied their forces and sent a letter to all their members asking them to oppose this bill which would disrupt the status quo (which involves their welcoming of federal control (see above)). This post contains the letter from Utah School Boards Association Associate Directory Patti Harrington which went out statewide to influence this vote. The second link contains a letter from two senior officials at the Utah State Office of Education (Diana Suddreth and Syd Dickson) sent out statewide decrying this bill that said, “This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards.” Who wants local control again?


Why did you run a resolution for partisan school board elections? What did it say?

Because delegates don’t get donations and political support from special interest groups like the state education establishment. They are truly grassroots and deserved a chance to dig into the issue and make an informed decision. This also contains Patti Harrington’s plea to delegates to not vote for this resolution.


What were the opposing arguments made against this resolution?

Doug Wright, talk show host on KSL, came out against this resolution and invited Patti Harrington from the USBA, and Mark Mickelson the executive director from the UEA onto his show. I have transcribed their arguments on this post along with my rebuttals. We did have some commonality. All three of them acknowledged that the current election system for state board members is broken. :)


You made speeches at the convention that stated certain things as factual. What are the links to those items?

Among the statements are the dramatic increase in education spending without results, based on recent Cato Institute research, Utah’s superior caucus and delegate system, federal grants that five Utah school districts applied to for money bypassing all state protections and opening themselves to direct federal strings/influence, a letter from two state office of education officials to educators around the state lamenting that if Rep. Greene’s partisan school board election bill passed it would give more power to parents and prevent them from adopting national standards, and Utah’s Memorandum of Understanding (noted specifically above) that acknowledged an unconstitutional federal role in Utah education.


Is there really a problem in school districts?

Yes. In Alpine and Nebo school districts there were a number of problems with the elections. The union endorsed a candidate and got the education establishment behind those candidates which caused school employees to violate election laws. Their punishment? Nothing. One principal sent out an email to staff telling them who to vote for. Another teacher told his class to tell their parents to vote for the incumbent John Burton because his challenger would shut down all the school clubs. It was totally false. Another teacher wrote who to vote for in the faculty lounge and sent out an email to the school employees telling them. The principal did nothing. There is no organization that can stand up to the establishment and no good way to get word out to the public about the real positions of candidates. Partisan elections will let a representative group vet the candidates more carefully.


What other reasons are there for partisan school board elections?

Rep. Brian Greene has shared these points:

1) Currently, the NEA, UEA, PTA, etc… control school boards. Non-partisan elections are their best option to continue to be the controlling influence.

2) It’s hypocritical that these organizations allege partisan elections will result in education being managed by political party leadership, but have no problem with their own exclusive control of education.

3) Concerns about political parties controlling education policy are unfounded. Rep. Greene stated that in two sessions in the legislature, he has never had party leadership demand he vote a certain way, or even pressured him to support a particular position. He is not aware of any such pressure being applied to his colleagues.

4) Partisan elections provide a more level playing field where competing interests can be heard.

5) We are currently in an epic battle to save our caucus/convention system and the primary arguments are that the current system neutralizes the control of big money. If we don’t use that system here, the big money of the NEA, UEA, and National PTA, will control our primaries.