Christel Swasey wrote this fact-check post on her site. I have included Judy Park’s full email below for reference, as well as comments from 2 of the 15 parent assessment review panel members which seem to contradict Judy Park’s claims.
From Christel Swasey
Once again it seems necessary, unfortunately, to provide a fact-checking rebuttal to statements made by Utah’s Associate Superintendent Judy Park about student data privacy.
In a letter given out to parents of children attending a St. George charter school recently, Judy Park was quoted at length. Park, the Associate Superintendent of Utah, made the following statements that will be scrutinized here with links to opposing evidence.
In that letter, Ms. Park wrote:
“The advocates of anti-common core are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.”
Here’s evidence to the contrary, Ms. Park.
1. First, there is a Utah law about Common Core standardized tests. This law, HB15, created in 2012, requires the collection of behavior indicators. It calls for “ the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance” as part of the testing. This is Utah’s S.A.G.E. –aka Common Core or A.I.R.– test.
2. There is a company that Utah has paid at least $39 million to write its Common Core-aligned standardized tests: American Institutes for Research. Its mission: “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation…“
Are we to believe that although AIR’s purpose is to test behavioral and social indicators, and although Utah law says that the test must test behavioral indicators, the test still won’t?
3. Utah’s SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA. (Who are these individuals? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?)
Starting at page 87 on that same SLDS federal application, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems. These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)” That SSI inventory –my child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS). Nonacademic demographic and other personal information is also captured while administering the test. SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed, by the so-called leadership, that needs to see it. (This should be a parental decision but has become a state decision.)
The SLDS grant promises to integrate psychological data into the state database. “Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data Warehouse the UDA.” It also says:
“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs. … We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.” So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s one way they’re gathering the psychological data.
4. Ms. Park herself is a key player and even a writer for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) –the organization that co-created and co-copyrighted Common Core. This makes me fairly confident that you are aware of what the CCSSO stands for and what its goals are. On the CCSSO website, it states that one of its main goals is “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation” of student data. Disaggregation means that academic bundles of students’ information will be separated into groups that are increasingly easy to identify individually.
Lastly, there is this issue: Ms. Park wrote, “The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law.” This is a big problem since the state and the federal requirements do not match anymore. The state is much more protective of students’ rights. Federal FERPA regulations have been altered –not by Congress but by the sneaky Department of Education (DOE). The DOE changed the definitions of terms. They reduced from a requirement to only a “best practice” the previously protective rule that parental consent had to be obtained (prior to sharing private student data). They redefined personally identifiable information. So, no more parental consent needed and whatever they can con states into sharing, will be shared. Is this the kind of federal rule that Ms. Park is content to have us obey?
Because Utah agreed in that same SLDS federal grant application to use PESC standards and SIF interoperability frameworks, Utah’s children’s private data can be accessed by other states and federal agencies very easily as long as current Utah policy permits it.
Unless bills like Jake Anderegg’s current HB169 student data privacy bill and others like it will pass, we have very few protections and a wide open policy of quite promiscuous data sharing here in Utah.
Sad but true.
Another article on this site which is related to this topic contains this information:
The Utah State Office of Education has an official document actively endorsing the collection of behavioral and non-academic data, “Utah’s Model for Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance”
“Perception data: Perception data answer the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre- and post-surveys, tests or skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play, data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms.” (pgs. 58-59″)
This list of CCGP Student Outcomes (which will be tracked by computers according to the document) is full of non-academic outcomes.
MG:A1 Demonstrate a deep regard for self and others
MG:A2 Demonstrate a Personal Commitment to basic democratic principles
MG:A3 Demonstrate a civil and considerate spirit while participating in society
Judy Park’s Original Email
The advocates of “anti-common core” are falsely accusing USOE and schools and districts of collecting and storing data that is “behavioral data and non-academic personal information”. They have no real evidence or examples to support this claim. The only data that is collected and maintained is the specific data required by state and federal law. The url below, is a document that provides specific information about data collection and use in Utah. This document also provides links to other documents that lists each data field that is collected. It is unfortunate that due to the misinformation that is being freely shared through emails, etc., parents who choose to not have their students participate in the academic testing this year, will not receive the assessment results that can provide good information for students and parents and be used to inform instruction for their classroom next fall. http://schools.utah.gov/assessment/Testing-Director-Resources/StateLong-DataSys-5.aspx
There are also claims that the company, AIR that will be scoring the assessment, will use student data in an inappropriate way. The original contract with AIR as well as federal law prohibits AIR or any other assessment company from using data for purposes not approved by the entity (state) that holds the contract. Due to the many concerns, an amendment was made to the contract to strengthen the language. The url for this amendment is below.
There are also concerns that the test questions contain inappropriate content of a social or political nature. Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall. Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate. The media did some stories as a follow up to the parent panel. This information can be found at the url below.
As an additional support to parents, USOE/AIR has produced a SAGE brochure for families. There are three brochures; Policy makers, Educators, Families. These are brand new and will be placed on the website today. I have attached them for your use.
I hope these documents and information is helpful to you. Please let me know if there are other questions, or if I can provide additional information.
Judy W. Park, Ed.D.
Utah State Office of Education
Student Services and Federal Programs
Comments from 2 members of the 15 parent panel
Quoted from Judy Park: “Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall. Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.”
I served on that 15 parent committee, and I will tell you that is not true. And if Dr. Park says that, she must have been sleeping during the meeting we had altogether at the end of our week at the USOE office last November (a private meeting, without the media, where everyone there had to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, which is why I can’t give specific examples). Yes, there were questions flagged for ridiculous reasons like grammatical errors, incorrect answers (seriously? I didn’t realize it was our job to check if the answers were correct!), or malfunctioning technology. But I know I wasn’t the only one to flag items because of subjective, inappropriate, or misleading content. Sometimes it was for individual questions, sometimes it was every question related to a certain passage, because the passage was inappropriate/biased. We were told that everything flagged would be reviewed again, and a decision regarding revision/complete removal/no change would be made between USOE and AIR. As part of the committee, we will not see the end result of those until we reconvene this fall. Everyone in the committee agreed that the majority of the questions seemed fine, however I don’t like it repeated that this equates to approval of the entire test.
“Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.” –Judy Park (above)
I am a parent on the SAGE assessment review panel and this statement is not accurate. There were questions that parents flagged as inappropriate, subjective or biased. We were promised that these test items would be reviewed and addressed and that we would get to see how they were addressed when we convene again this fall. (Which is long after this Spring’s pilot unfortunately, so I can give you no assurance whether those items have been satisfactorily addressed or not.) I participated in this panel in good faith, wanting to be a contributor to making improvements and not just a critic and I feel it is a manipulation of my cooperation to characterize it as unreserved approval of these assessments.
1) The Four Assurances (or federal reforms) in the 2009 Stimulus Package’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund—which included common standards, new assessments, teacher evaluations, school grading and data collection systems—signed by Governor Huntsman. The “assurances” were promises that Governors made to the Obama administration when they accepted Stimulus money. The Stimulus money helped President Obama build a new federal framework at the state level to, as US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “fundamentally shift the federal role” over education.
See also: The federal grant from the 2009 Stimulus Package for the creation of Utah’s State Longitudinal Data System (This was a $9.6 million dollar grant to Utah to create a data system which would provide a framework for the Obama administration’s National Education Data Model. In order to start collecting individual student and family data without parental consent—including things like bus stop times, health conditions and religious affiliation—the Obama administration bypassed Congress and rewrote federal FERPA privacy regulations).
2) The 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by Governor Huntsman and State Superintendent Patti Harrington, where they committed Utah to Common Core national standards.
3) The No Child Left Behind Flexibility Request (Waiver) in which the MOU was used as “evidence” that Utah, in exchange for flexibility from the stipulations in No Child Left Behind, would adopt Common Core.
4) The Common Core standards copyright binds states to precisely what is written in the standards. States can add 15% more to the standards, but cannot take anything away from them. They are adopted “in whole.”
5) The fact that the K-12 assessments aligned to Common Core will be used by 90% of the states will preclude states deviating from the standards. We are bound by the sheer nature of national standards themselves–and this was by design. To deviate from the standards by even 5% would put states at a comparative disadvantage.
For those of you wondering how to navigate the Utah state legislature website, here’s a quick video overview. If this video doesn’t play yet, check back in a bit. Youtube is processing it as I post this.
“Oak, attached are the English Success Standards. This document is free for the taking, and any and all may use whatever out of this document they so choose. There is no copyright or attribution necessary. This document is the only standards document in the entire U. S. that was written by classroom teachers for classroom teachers. The writers of this document were all practicing classroom teachers at the time they wrote their document.”
Did you catch that? Practicing teachers wrote them, not non-practicing, non-teachers like David Coleman, architect of Common Core. They are developmentally appropriate and high level.
If you want to read an analysis on these standards, read here. Download link is below.
A year ago, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a long time critic of Common Core standards, released an ELA framework for use in schools, districts, and states, for free. Dr. Stotsky is well known for her participation in crafting the excellent 2001 ELA standards for Massachusetts and how those standards eventually ranked MA as one of the very best states in the country on standardized tests. She revised these standards and released them for free as well.
If you are new to this site, please make it a priority to read this post on what valid high quality alternatives we have to Common Core. This link contains both math and ELA information, but I will briefly summarize our high-quality ELA standards options below.
Utah’s High Quality ELA Options
- We could use the English Success Standards and modify them with the help of some Utah teachers to make them uniquely ours. (view and download here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/208363184/English-Success-Standards-K-12)
- We could use Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s 2013 revised MA standards which are perhaps the premier standards available for use. (view and download here: http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/01/Stotsky-Optional_ELA_standards.pdf)
- We could take up Dr. Stotsky on her very generous offer to the Utah state legislature to come to Utah for free and work with Utah teachers to create the best standards in the nation. (http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sandra-stotsky-offers-utah-the-best-ela-standards-in-the-nation/)
Three awesome options at the best price available. Free.
I recommend you download a copy of Dr. Stotsky’s 2013 standards for safe keeping, and then let legislators know there is a free set of standards Utah could adopt that would make us the envy of the nation in a short time.
Imagine Utah having the best standards in the nation, and teachers free from the red tape, data tracking, etc…, free to teach children and look at the needs of the individual instead of the collective. Keep that vision and get on the email list at www.AgencyBasedEducation.org. It’s a very low volume email list for an organization with a unique vision of education.
What Is Common Core?
This post aims to be as unmistakably direct and documented as possible. Feel free to use it without asking permission.
DOES COMMON CORE PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE?
Not for a 4-year university. It minimally prepares students for the non-collegiate workforce or for non-selective community colleges.
A key Common Core creator, Jason Zimba, said that the Common Core can prepare students for non-selective colleges but that it does not prepare students for STEM careers. He said: “I think it’s a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of college readiness… but not for the colleges most parents aspire to… Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for U.C. Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus to get into U.C. Berkeley.”
IS THERE AN AMENDMENT PROCESS FOR VOTERS TO ALTER THE COMMON CORE?
No. When it changes, it will be changed by those who wrote them. (See official site .)
ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS LOCALLY CONTROLLED?
No. They are under copyright by an unelected, private D.C. group called NGA/CCSSO which has reserved the legal right to alter them. The federal government has made money and waivers conditional on using Common Core standards and tests.
DO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS IMPROVE K-12 EDUCATION?
No one knows. They are an unpiloted experiment. But people who are financially invested in Common Core say yes to the question, while people who aren’t financially interested, and who study and analyze the Common Core standards, say no.
Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University emeritus professor who served on the official Common Core validation committee) reported:
“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“
Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas emeritus professor who served on official Common Core validation committee and also refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core) said:
“As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA standards do not strengthen the high school curriculum. Nor can they reduce post-secondary remedial coursework in a legitimate way. As empty skill sets, Common Core’s ELA “college readiness” standards weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework, decrease the capacity for analytical thinking… and completely muddle the development of writing skills.” Full testimony here.
IS COMMON CORE LEGAL?
No. Under the Constitution, education belongs to individual states. It is illegal for the federal government to interfere in the states’ right of making educational decisions. National standards are illegal. National data collection is illegal. And the General Educational Provisions Act prohibits the federal government from directing education –very, very clearly:
“No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…“
DOES COMMON CORE REALLY TAKE AWAY MOST OF THE TRADITIONAL CLASSIC LITERATURE AND NARRATIVE WRITING?
Yes. Although it does not specify which classic books cannot be read, the Common Core contains a chart that explains that in fourth grade, students must cut their classic/fiction reading to 50%. By twelfth grade, students must reduce their classic/fiction reading to 30% with informational text taking up 70% of the time spent reading.
WHAT IS INFORMATIONAL TEXT?
Informational text is anything that used to belong mostly in other subjects. It is now taking 70% of high school seniors’ English class readings, in the form of scientific writings, political writings; opinion pieces; almost anything other than classic novels, poetry, plays or other fictional works.
WHY DON’T COMMON CORE PROPONENTS WANT STUDENTS TO LEARN MUCH MATH?
It costs money to educate beyond minimal workforce training. In this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) we learn that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; it’s seen as a waste of time to educate the high school graduates past Algebra II. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while deceptively marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.
Read these Common Core proponents’ lips: “Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
The report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the irrelevant classics with a new emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text:
“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”
In calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents underscore the idea that job prep matters, but not the pursuit of wisdom or knowledge.
WHY DID ALMOST EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. DROP THEIR EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS, WHETHER LOWER OR HIGHER, TO ADOPT COMMON CORE STANDARDS?
Proponents say that the reason was to improve education. Opponents say that it had nothing to do with education; that the standards were adopted without analysis or any vetting because the adoption was offered by the federal government under time pressure, in exchange for a chance at large federal grant monies called Race to the Top. Even those states that applied and won no money (like Utah) stayed with Common Core, because there were many other federal reasons and incentives to do so.
WILL THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS REMAIN AS THEY ARE TODAY?
No. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no way for the governed to revise the document by which they’ve agreed to be governed.
WHY DOES THE STATE SCHOOL BOARD SAY WE’RE FREE TO CHANGE THEM?
States can’t delete anything. We can add –a tiny bit. A Common Core 15% rule says: ”A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards”
(This rule is repeated in the federal waivers from No Child Left Behind, in the Race to the Top Assessments Grant application, in documents of both PARCC and SBAC testing groups, and in the implementation guide of Achieve, the group contracted to create Common Core.)
WILL THE CREATORS OF COMMON CORE CHANGE THESE STANDARDS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL?
Yes. Common Core’s official site says: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.” There’s no invitation for the governed to revise.
WHERE DO PROPONENTS GET THE NOTION THAT COMMON CORE WILL IMPROVE EDUCATION?
From believable, expensive marketing lines. Not from evidence. Opponents point out that there was never any field testing for Common Core standards; so this is a national experiment using virtually all children. Supporters never attempt to explain how education is supposedly improved by Common Core, nor show a pilot state or pilot classroom where Common Core had been successfully used. Beyond the many pleasant-sounding and but words, there is no documentation or evidence to back up any of the claims that the standards are higher, nor the other claims such as “Common Core was internationally benchmarked” or “is rigorous” or “improves college and career readiness.” They are baseless advertising words.
ARE COMMON CORE STANDARDS FREE TO US?
No. The standards’ development and marketing was paid for primarily by Bill Gates. The Common Core tests for most states was paid for primarily by the federal government. States pay countless millions for the rest of the Common Core Initiative: the re-training, new text purchases, aligned computer technologies, etc. They incorrectly say that these high costs would have been spent anyway, even without Common Core.
WAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT “HANDS-OFF” THE STATES’ ADOPTION OF COMMON CORE?
No. Secretary Duncan announced and praised the release of the standards in 2010. He bribed states using Race to the Top grant money. He contracted with the testing groups to micromanage the Common Core tests, in exchange for federal grant money.
DID THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BRIBE STATES TO ADOPT COMMON CORE?
Yes. States received federal ARRA money to implement pre-common core reforms that paved the way for Common Core, including building a State Longitudinal Database System. There were 4 federal key objectives for education reforms laid out by President Obama which were the four conditions for receiving stimulus monies. Federally defined common standards and tests were one of the conditions.
More evidence of bribery and coercion can be seen in the timing of a majority of the states’ adopting Common Core simultaneously with the Race to the Top money lure. And recently, a group of U.S. Senators have denounced what the Executive Branch (Obama Administration) has done in coercing states with Common Core bribes.
IS COMMON CORE RELATED TO STUDENT DATA MINING?
Yes. But Secretary Arne Duncan told the American Society of News Editors that opponents make “outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, we are not allowed to, and we won’t.”
He just told a bold-faced lie. The federal Edfacts Exchange collects data for local, state and federal levels. The federal government paid for the states to build matching and interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems. The White House hosts Datapalooza where Common Core and common data standards are spoken of warmly and together. The Department of Education is listed as a partner at the EIMAC (Education Information Management Advisory Consortia) There are many other things that the Department of Education has done to take away student privacy, aiming aims to align common data standards with common educational standards.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY DID THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DO TO REMOVE PRIVACY FROM STUDENT DATA?
– It bribed the states with ARRA Stimulus monies to build 50 linkable, twinlike State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS). This created a virtual national database.
– It altered the (previously privacy-protective) federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights Privacy Act) law to make access to personally identifiable student data –including biological and behavioral data– “legal”. Now, the act of requiring parental consent (to share personally identifiable information) has been reduced from a requirement to just a “best practice” according to the altered federal FERPA regulations.
For more information on this, study the lawsuit between the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the Department of Education.
– The US Department of Education partnered with private groups, including the Data Quality Campaign and the CCSSO (that’s the Council of Chief State School Officers –copyright holders on Common Core–) to collect student data nationally.
IS THIS ABOUT MAKING MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF QUALITY EDUCATION?
Yes. Educational gains are not the motivator for Common Core. Notice that proponents are either financially invested in the implementation of Common Core, or else must be subservient to it and call it good because they rely on payment from those who are invested. The financial obligation should make the following groups’ promotion of Common Core extremely suspect:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - Microsoft – Pearson Education - National PTA - Jeb Bush - Harvard University - National Governors’ Association - Council of Chief State School Officers - Fordham Institute – Manhattan Institute – Exxon, and many, many more.
IS COMMON CORE RESPECTED BY HIGHER ED?
132 professors of Catholic Universities recently wrote a letter denouncing Common Core on both academic and moral grounds.
Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island has written:
“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”
Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire has written:
The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”
Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College has written:
“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”
Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University has written:
“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.” Dr. Tienken also has two powerful short videos on the subject of standards and of assessments.
Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University has written:
“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”
Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University noted:
“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.
So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.
But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”
Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College has written:
“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.” (Dr. Moore also wrote a most excellent book about Common Core English standards, entitled “The Storykillers.”)
Dr. Sandra Stotky (spoken of at the top) has written:
“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s ‘standards’…”
“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”
Dr. Stotsky also testified that:
“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”
“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”
“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”
“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”
“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”
“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”
“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students. At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky
Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado, has written:
“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. • For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. • The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased. • Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs. • The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”
Terrance Moore recently gave this presentation at Hillsdale College exposing how Common Core works in practice when you have limited publishers who create curriculum for the standards.
Those searching for information on reasons to oppose preschool programs funded by the state or private entities will be interested in the information below. Of particular interest is Clinical Mental Health Counselor Joan Landes’ letter to representatives which is below the core information.
“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” - David O McKay.
There are 2 bills this session relating to “early education” or preschool.
1) HB 96 sponsored by Rep. Greg Hughes titled Utah School Readiness Initiative.
2) SB 42 sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond titled Early Childhood Education.
Reasons to Oppose:
1) The bill calls for schools to collect longitudinal data on children which fits perfectly into the Common Core P20W database Utah has created. (P20W is preschool through grade 20 and into the workforce for tracking everyone)
84 (4) “Eligible LEA” means an LEA that has a data system capacity to collect
85 longitudinal academic outcome data, including special education use by student, by identifying
86 each student with a statewide unique student identifier.
2) I totally oppose all preschool bills on a matter of principle since we operate under a compulsory education system. Establishing a preschool program for one class (disadvantaged children) will inevitably lead to mandates for other children and additional funding needs.
3) Head Start, the comprehensive preschool program started in 1965, went 45 years and spent $166 billion and was proven a complete failure. Lets not repeat history.
4) The Obama administration plan is to start educating children at birth. This is the first step on that path.
“The Obama administration has proposed new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for children beginning at birth and continuing to age five.”
5) The feds are incentivizing data collection and testing for small children and invasive home visits.
6) The Institute of Marriage and Family has shown that early education does NOT benefit children and they should actually begin school later rather than earlier.
Since time is very short I can’t craft individual letters, but I trust you will be interested in the perspective of a Clinical Mental Health Counselor on this issue:
We need to oppose the institutionalization of ever younger children for many reasons:
Research: The last 20 years of research on attachment of youngsters to primary caregivers shows that early maternal deprivation and high stress situations (such as separation anxiety) actually results in epigenetic changes to young brains. What changes? It creates a dearth of GR receptors which makes the uptake of cortisol and other “stress hormones” much less effective over a lifetime. What does this mean? These kids are much more easily upset and difficult to soothe because the GR receptors aren’t present in large enough quantities to break down the cortisol. This is a recipe for more mental health problems, learning problems and problems with violence. The way to solve parental neglect is to educate and inform the PARENTS, not remove little children from their mommies.
Research: Every major study has found that early childhood education lacks enduring value cognitively and any gains which are made pretty much dissipate by the 3rd grade. Head Start has been a dismal failure on every major indicator and has cost the nation billions to learn this hard lesson.
Research: Every theory of child development and generations of research show that the most important tasks of the preschool years is NOT the accumulation of facts and “book knowledge”. The child absolutely must have a foundation of trust in her primary caregiver (most often Mom), and autonomy (not being constrained by a group), and initiative (the ability to exert power in an environment– not being dictated by a “program”). Without successfully mastering these tasks, the ability to master the academic and work tasks in school is seriously compromised.
Research: Children (especially young children) need to be treated as individuals by caring adults who advocate for them. Massing children into groups to be programmed into pre-planned “lessons” and activities denies these children the individual caring and attention they require for healthy development. Caring for many young children is inherently stressful and even if the state could afford a 2-1 student-teacher ratio, a paid caretaker can never replace the inherent love of a parent, grandparent or family member. Preschool is a poor substitute for parenting.
Please feel confident in knowing that the best course for Utah’s young children is to stay in the primary care of Mom, Dad or extended family. If resources are to be spent, we should concentrate on teaching and training the parents to be the kind of Mom or Dad they know they can be. With that high leverage activity, we improve the lives of at least 2 people (Mom and child) or more rather than focusing just on one individual
Thank-you for understanding the inherent risks and harms of early childhood relational disruption commonly called “Early Child Education.”
Joan R. Landes, ACMHC
What follows below is a timeline of the events the state of Utah went through to create new math standards in 2007. State officials traveling around the state have been spreading some false information about these standards and this post is an effort to reveal the whole story and expose the state office of education’s utter lack of interest in quality standards. They didn’t care then, and they don’t care about the quality of standards now, and they say that those of us in opposition to Common Core don’t even want standards. The truth is, we’re the only ones fighting for quality standards.
The short background on this is in 2004 I discovered my daughter was no longer being taught the times tables and wouldn’t be taught long division. We took things into our own hands at home to make sure she learned these things. I also went to the school district to complain and ask that they teach these basic things and discovered that due to low state standards, they didn’t have to, and had actually punished teachers who stepped outside the district’s policy of fully implementing Investigations math. So I went over their heads to the legislature to get our state standards raised and this was the resulting timeline of events.
I appeared to the education committee of the legislature to testify that Utah’s standards were inadequate and allowed for programs like Investigations math to be used in Alpine School District. State curriculum director Brett Moulding was in attendance and contradicted me. The result was the legislature considering adopting the California math standards to replace ours.
In October 2006, Utah legislators invited Dr. Jim Milgram to review and comment on our then D-rated (by Fordham Foundation) math standards. Dr. Milgram pointed out numerous problems. West Ed came with a 500 page analysis of Utah’s standards and concluded they were similar to California’s excellent A rated standards. Milgram trashed that notion with mathematical precision. Several times during this meeting, people from the state office of education said that each state should customize standards to meet their own needs. The USOE personnel had also argued in prior meetings and perhaps this one, that creating new standards and implementing them would be costly to the state, especially since they’d done it just 5 or so years ago.
It was a direct result of that meeting that led legislators in this interim session to pass a resolution to redo the math standards and get us world class standards. State office acknowledges this directive and gets on it. You can read the resolution at this link.
State Superintendent Patti Harrington agreed to the task of creating new standards and the USOE put together a committee of people including Dr. David Wright, and Dr. Hugo Rossi. 11 of the 16 members the USOE selected had signed a document in 2006 that Utah did not need to change its math standards. Bad start.
February 20, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth sends email to members of drafting committee containing most recent drafts of the core revisions. Email mentions upcoming meetings for the committees and focus groups in Roosevelt on March 27th, and Jordan on April 10th. No focus groups in Utah ever happened for Common Core.
The math standards were written over the next few months and then they were presented in the May 2007 interim committee meeting. At this meeting, Nicole Paulson, USOE state math curriculum director noted concerning the new standards:
Focus groups were held throughout the state
Elementary core is 2 months ahead—In April there were public hearings on the elementary standards
External review occurred as well
June-presentation to state board for final approval
June-request permission for public hearings
Standards will be for implementation of 07-08 school year
Content was reviewed against other states and nations
Clarity and coherence is significantly increased in the math standards
Statements from the meeting:
Senator Howard Stephenson: We talked a year ago about comparing our standards to Singapore and California. Dr. Wright how would you compare these new standards to Singapore and CA?
Dr. David Wright: Our standards are good, but they don’t have the clarity of California’s standards. However some of our standards are better particularly when we discussed with Dr. Wu one of the external reviewers who worked on the CA standards the importance of the number line and other items. If these were given to the Fordham Foundation they might get a B rating, I’d like to get an A rating but we have to start somewhere. If we adopt CA standards there would be a lot of rebellion among teachers having something forced on them where they weren’t part of the process. As I said earlier, end of level tests and professional development are also important to the process and I think that we have the potential in this state to do very well indeed. We have great teachers in Utah who will get the job done.
Dr. Wright also noted that the request of the legislature last year to adopt “world class standards” has not occurred due primarily to the composition of the committee and politics being played between math educators and mathematicians. Dr. Wright also did extensive work in 2006 to get math professors all around Utah to sign a petition to have Utah adopt California’s math standards, an idea the USOE shot down because they didn’t want to have the same standards as another state…
Basically, Utah got much improved standards, but they were never benchmarked against other top performing nations or states. Nicole had told Dr. Wright they would be compared against Singapore’s standards but they were not. Interestingly, Dr. Wright in 2006 got 144 Utah professors of math related fields, to sign a petition for Utah to just adopt California’s excellent standards.
May 31, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth emails out the most recent working draft of the standards. Mentions a meeting June 28 in Farmington at 1 pm and notes if they “have a significant amount of public response, we may meet earlier.” This shows they were getting public comment and considering it. Something that never happened under Common Core.
June 20, 2007
Public comments are sought on the new math standards. The USOE posted a survey up and asked for feedback on the standards.
June 25, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth emails a reminder of the June 28 Farmington meeting and it’s been changed to a 9 am start time because of the public comments they’d received. That’s 4 hours earlier than the last email noted for a start time. Notes a big complaint that the Pythagorean Theorem was removed. Public hearings this week are in Ogden (Wednesday) and Logan (Friday).
July 5, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth emails a final draft of the secondary math core. They plan to meet to make a final review before approving for delivery to the state board.
June 7, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth emails with a subject line “Public hearings authorized”, stating in the body of the email, “The Board of Education approved our proposal for public hearings at their meeting this morning. There is a link on the secondary website for interested parties to submit input. I will also accept email and regular mail comment. I will compile all that is submitted for our review at our next meeting.”
August 2, 2007
Legislators are concerned about the new math standards based on feedback from constituents and they invite Dr. Milgram to perform an external review of the new standards.
Dr. Milgram’s report declares the new standards a mess and in need of significant work. Key components were left out of the draft by the USOE and after making a few changes recommended by the first external reviewer, Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu at Berkeley, the USOE introduced new errors into the standards by their poor efforts to make corrections.
This is the letter to the state board from the chairs of the Interim Education Committee
This is Dr. Milgram’s review of the standards. (7 pages)
In Dr. Milgram’s report, he quotes Dr. Wu, the external reviewer, who said, “Except for (I think) three or four small instances involving very simple changes in the standards of K-6, such as the change of one word (e.g., ‘value’ to ‘number’), they left intact almost EVERY objection I made. In other words, the mess is still where it was before.”
Members of the state office of education are apparently stating that Dr. Milgram said this of the 2007 standards and use it to justify the adoption of Common Core as an improvement. Firstly, it wasn’t Dr. Milgram’s statement, it was the external reviewer Dr. Wu that said it. Secondly, Common Core’s math is actually a full year behind our 2007 math standards which put most students on track to complete algebra 1 by 8th grade and to calculus by 12th, while Common Core’s integrated path pushes those classes back a full year for completion of algebra 1 in 9th grade and only pre-calculus by 12th, for most students.
The rest of Dr. Milgram’s report showed specific instances where the language and presentation of the standards was particularly weak. Among statements in his report:
“Prof. Wu strenuously objected to this standard in his report, but his objection was ignored.”
“As I said, I’ve just scratched the surface here. Prof. Wu’s description of the document as “the mess” is entirely apt.”
“It has been my experience that when standards do not spell out, in detail, what needs to be covered, that material will not be covered. Additionally, when there is no coherence
to the standards, there will be no coherence in instruction. Students will simply learn long lists of factoids, and will never develop anything approaching mathematical proficiency.”
“So I am forced to conclude, as I stated in the introduction, that it is impossible to simply revise the Utah document. It must be entirely redone.”
This was harsh criticism. It was somewhat of a surprise after Dr. Wright thought the standards were perhaps B-rated, when the Fordham Foundation gave them an A-. Was it deserved? Considering that the USOE didn’t want to change the standards, appointed a majority of people to the committee who signed a document that our prior D rated standards didn’t need changed, and the USOE brought in West Ed to try and convince the legislators to not change the standards, it’s not much of a surprise that there were some problems in the standards. They were, however, correctable to a large extent if Dr. Wu’s review had been followed…
In fact, of special note is that without Dr. Wu’s strenuous effort, the 2007 standards would not have had exponents included in them. http://www.oaknorton.com/mathupdates/20070811.cfm
August 3, 2007
– Email provided by Dr. David Wright, BYU Math Dept.
Diana Suddreth emails with a subject line “Secondary math core passes”. Body of email says, “The Utah State School Board unanimously approved the Secondary Mathematics Core Curriculum this afternoon. Again, thank you everyone for your hard work on this.”
August 24, 2007
The state board sent a letter signed by the board president and state superintendent to Utah legislators in response to Milgram’s letter to the committee chairs. They took issue with his comments and describe how the process wasn’t rushed and they had external reviewers vet them. Here are a couple quotes from the letter:
“The Utah State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington believe the new math standards are, in fact, the world class standards that we all want. These standards offer the rigor needed in the classroom and will hold students and teachers accountable for learning. They also offer flexibility to teachers to use their classroom time to the students’ best advantage.”
“Our new math standards will not leave our students behind. This is a curriculum that will prepare Utah’s best to compete with the best in the world in scientific, technological and engineering innovation. It will also equip all Utah students with the math skills needed for tomorrow’s world.”
They were very confident in the new standards.
On or about Sept. 19, 2007
Interim Education Committee meeting.
Testimony was given that the new standards had not been internationally benchmarked, contrary to USOE statements.
Legislators asked USOE officials what the external reviewers thought of the standards and if there had been communication with them. They were told that the external reviews went great, everything was implemented, and no additional communication had been given by the external reviewers after the standards were completed.
At that point Dr. Milgram, present by phone, chimed in that indeed Nicole Paulson at the state office had communicated and received communication back from Dr. Wu at Berkeley regarding a question she posed to him. It seems that when Milgram wrote his review to legislators in the prior month and made his harsh statements and quoted Dr. Wu saying the new standards were in the same “mess” they were in when he reviewed them, Nicole wanted to try and challenge Milgram’s statement as if he had made that up. Nicole emailed Dr. Wu asking him if he’d really said that. She didn’t know that Wu had sent that letter BCC to Dr. Milgram so he would be aware of it. Nicole wasn’t going to bring up to the committee that Dr. Wu had confirmed the standards were “a mess” and that they hadn’t implemented his recommendations, so on the spot Milgram forwarded Wu’s reply email to Nicole, to the committee. Here is the scathing letter they got that was then discussed.
Thank you for your courteous note. I can understand your consternation upon reading the quote in Jim Milgam’s letter of my reaction to the revised standards (incidentally, he quoted me correctly), but if you realize that I had taken for granted that most of what I recommended would be implemented, then you would also understand why I was so shocked when I was reluctantly made to read the revision.
I made seven major recommendations:
(1) on the emphasis of the number line,
(2) on revamping the treatment of area,
(3) on a major overhaul of the treatment of rational numbers,
(4) on eliminating linguistic overkill,
(5) on improving he treatment of transformations and congruence,
(6) on automatic recall of the multiplication table,
(7) on an overhaul of the progression in K-6 from informal mathematics
in K-3 to deeper and more formal mathematics.
In the revision, there was a pro forma attempt to attend to (1), (2) and (5), but little or nothing was done about the rest. Let me explain just a bit about what I meant by “pro forma”. Consider the case of the number line. As far as I can see, two references to the number line were added to grade 1 and one reference was added to grade 2. These only scratch the surface of my main concern, which is that the number line has not been accorded “its rightful place in the school curriculum as a major idea that unifies various concepts and skills”. Moreover, (4) and (6) could have been addressed with ease, but they were not.
Of the other detailed suggestions that I made (over 40), many were not followed. Among those not followed, the most serious are the ones about mixed numbers and addition of fractions in grade 5, and the use of “predict” in connection with data in grade 3. Clearly, the committee and I are not of like minds.
Please understand that I had no intention of returning to the revised standard after writing my review, because doing the review already did me in as I had become way behind in my own work. But then rumors about the revision began to swirl around the internet. Milgram asked me about my opinion, and I was forced to take a look. My initial shock at the extent my comments had been ignored probably prompted me to exaggerate a bit about “Except for (I think) three or four small instances involving very simple changes in the standards of K-6″ when I wrote to him. Now that I have tallied more carefully, I know that I should have said “a small number” rather than “three or four”. Sorry about that.
Finally, I must said in plain English that, although the Utah Standards are not by any means atrocious (in the sense that I have seen much worse), they need to adequately address five of the seven major flaws I pointed out before they can be called acceptable (all except (1) and (4)). To achieve respectability, it must address (1) and (4) as well in my opinion. And this does not even take into account of the detailed corrections I suggested. To recall what our joint report wrote about it being “a sound document that, if faithfully implemented, would lead to increased student learning”, it embarrasses me very much to point out that our team, having meet with Brett and having been told how it was necessary to expedite the PR process, decided to go along and only touched on a few criticisms for public consumption but reserved our real messages in our individual reports. In my case, I was very sympathetic to all the work the Steering Committee had done and tried to keep my comments to an *absolute* minimum. I was certain that my self-restraint in expressing my judgment would make it possible for every single one of my suggestions to be adequately addressed. Imagine therefore my shock when I found that almost the opposite was the case. But I am afraid I am now repeating myself and therefore must stop.
This is complete proof that the USOE did NOT take seriously their charge to give us world-class standards or the recommendations by external reviewers who are accomplished standards writers, and they finally had to acknowledge that fact. The bottom line is the Utah State Office of Education wasn’t interested in changing standards and certainly didn’t care about the quality of our standards when they were carrying D rated standards for several years.
Fast forward to 2010. The USOE decides to adopt Common Core with great haste. In spite of claiming in 2006-7 that Utah needs their own unique standards, they adopt Common Core along with 45 other states including California, which they said back then they didn’t want to ever do.
They determine that Common Core won’t cost Utahn’s anything, because we would have eventually spent the money anyway, a sharp contrast to their argument against the 2007 standards process they said was too expensive for Utah to adopt new standards.
They declare we need to have common standards to facilitate moving students in and out of the state, then choose to adopt the integrated method of math along with Vermont and put us on an incompatible path than ALL THE OTHER STATES.
Some at the USOE and on the state board have said that we complained about the 2007 standards and so did Dr. Milgram and so they felt they needed to improve on them by adopting Common Core, yet Dr. Milgram has been very vocal in opposition to Common Core’s standards. Why would they listen to Dr. Milgram in one case but not in the other?
What caused Utah to change its tune so easily? The same thing as other states…the potential to get Race to the Top money.
What caused us to adopt the integrated math method? Utah’s infatuation with constructivist math, a proven failure, and destructive to a quality education.
Folks, there can be no question that the federal government is using Common Core to take away our freedoms.
So why do many people still believe that “there’s no federal control of Common Core”? Because trusted education leaders are not being forthright with –or are not in possession of– the truth. Here in Utah, for example, the Utah State Office of Education, has a “fact-versus-fiction” pamphlet which still says that the standards “are not federally controlled.”
The fact is that states that adopted Common Core standards are being co-parented by two groups in partnership, neither of which takes seriously the constitutional rights of the states to govern education locally: these partners are 1) The federal government and 2) Private trade clubs financed by Bill Gates– NGA and CCSSO.
So first, here’s evidence of terrible federal controls: (click to fact check, please)
1. Federal micromanagemment in Common Core testing grant conditions
2.Federal ESEA 15% capped waiver conditions that deny states the right to add more than 15% to our standards;
3. Federal reviews of tests
4. Federal data collection
5. Federal disfiguration of previously protective FERPA laws that removed parental rights over student data;
6. President Obama’s four assurances for education reform which governors promised to enact in exchange for ARRA stimulus funds;
7.Obama’s withholding of funds from schools that do not adopt Common Core as read in his Blueprint for Reform (aka The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) which says, “Beginning in 2015, formula funds will be available only to states that are implementing assessments based on college- and career-ready standards that are common to a significant number of states.”
Here’s evidence of unelected, corporate control of Common Core:
1) Common Core copyrights (and “living work” alteration rights) are held solely by two unelected, private clubs, the superintendents’ club (aka CCSSO) and a governors’ club (aka NGA).
2) These two clubs are are influenced by and funded by the politically extreme Bill Gates, who has spent over $5 Billion on his personal, awful version of education reform– and that dollar amount is his own admission.
3) No amendment process exists for states to co-amend the “living work” standards. The “living work” statement means that OUR standards will be changed without representation from US as the states; it will be done by the private trade groups CCSSO/NGA.
4) Bill Gates and Pearson are partnered. (Biggest ed sales company partnered with 2nd richest man on earth, all in the effort to force Common Core on everyone.)
5) The speech of corporate sponsor Bill Gates when he explains that “We’ll only know [Common Core] this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.” This explains why he is giving away so much money so that companies can be united in the gold rush of creating Common Core curriculum.
6. Virtually every textbook sales company now loudly advertises being “common core aligned” despite the fact that the standards are unpiloted, experimental (in the words of Dr. Christopher Tienken, Common Core is education malpractice.)
7. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many huge corporations (ExxonMobil) are selling Common Core as a way of creating wealth, despite the standards’ untested nature.
The federal partnering with the private groups like CCSSO/NGA, means that mandates and thought-monopolies of Common Core are truly beyond even legislative control –because they are privately controlled, they’re beyond voters’ influence.
This is why nothing short of an outright rejection of all things Common Core can restore us to educational freedom.
Why should you care? Why should you fight this, even if you don’t have children in school? Because of the Constitution.
The Constitution sets us apart as the only country on earth that has ever truly had the “freedom experiment” work. This makes us a miraculous exception. Why would we ever shred the Constitution by accepting initiatives that disfigure our representative system?
The G.E.P.A. law states that “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”
So the federal government is prohibited from creating tests or instructional materials– but the private groups NGA and CCSSO, funded by Gates, are not! This is why the federal Department of Education officially partnered with these unelected, private corporate interests –groups which are not accountable to G.E.P.A. laws, to teachers, principals, taxpayers, voters or children. (This may also explain why Arne Duncan goes to such great lengths to distinguish between standards and curriculum. Everybody knows that standards dictate curriculum like a frame dictates the height and width of a house. But GEPA law doesn’t use the word “standards.”)
We are in unrepresented dire straits: In no way do voters or teachers (or states themselves) control what is now set in the Common Core standards.
This is true in spite of the so often-repeated “the standards are state-led” marketing line. Don’t believe the marketing lines! So much money is money being spent on marketing Common Core because of Bill Gates. Gates sees this whole Common Core movement as a way to establish his (and Pearson’s) “uniform customer base.”
Watch Gates say these words in his speech if you haven’t already. This speech needs to be widely known, especially by school boards –so that we can boycott this monopoly on thought and on our precious taxpayer dollars.
Please don’t let people keep getting away with saying that the Common Core is free from federal controls, or that “we can add anything we want to it” and “there are no strings attached.” It simply isn’t true.
(How we wish that it was.)
Dear Utah Legislator,
I’m writing to you as a mother to ask you to put a stop to the use of Utah’s school systems as snooping agents on our children.
Some Utah leaders are working hard to fortify privacy rights, I know. But many powerful organizations, departments and corporations are working hard to ignore, dismiss, or stop any efforts to defend student privacy– all with great intentions but absolutely without authority.
The result is a data collecting and sharing network that represents loss of parental authority and loss of individual privacy.
In recent years, Utah built and is now using a federally structured and paid-for ($9.6 M) State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) from which no parent is permitted to opt their child out.
This lack of liberty should be a red flag.
But few Utahns know that their child is being tracked and very few know that they can’t opt out of that tracking.
Fewer still know that there’s a Utah Data Alliance (UDA) that links K-12 data, collected by schools, with higher ed., with the State workforce and other agencies.
Utah’s UDA has agreed to use the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) State Core Model –which means all of our data will be interoperable and sharable across state lines. The PESC’s State Core Model aligns different states’ SLDS data systems so that they all match.
I am not saying that Utah agencies are sharing private data yet; I am saying that there’s nothing strong preventing them from doing so and that school systems are moving in the direction of more and more data commonality and disaggregation of student data. (see point 4 at that link.)
Countless entities have lined up with a “Data Quality Campaign” to make sure all their data points and technologies match, so that student information can be pooled.
Federal FERPA laws, previously protective of student data, have now been grossly loosened, and federal agencies including the NCES and the Department of Education, as well as White House events such as “Datapalooza” and White House Chiefs such as Joanne Weiss, are encouraging us to pool data, while (weakly) noting that student privacy is, of course, important. Yet proper protections are missing.
The Department of Education does a two-faced dance, asking for “robust data” and altering FERPA on the one hand, and insisting that they don’t even collect student data when speaking to the press. The U.S. Department of Education’s intentions are, however, revealed in the student-level data-sharing mandate in its cooperative testing agreements and in the contrast between what Secretary Arne Duncan says and does.
The PESC model was developed by the unelected, private trade group, CCSSO, as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) funded by the Gates Foundation. (CCSSO is the same private group that developed and copyrighted Common Core standards). The PESC Model, in its own definition, “includes early childhood, elementary and secondary, post-secondary, and workforce elements, known as “P20,” and establishes comparability between sectors and between states.”
PESC states that it “will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting…”
I find this alarming. You might find it hard to believe that Utah is lined up with it.
So here is the evidence:
The agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as the School Interoperability Framework (SIF), the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) and other XML schemas.”
Here is the PESC State Core Model abstract.
The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…
The Model [can replace] 625 distinct Federal reporting types with record-level data collections.
… The Model is designed to address unique, complex P20 SLDS relationships, business rules, and entity factoring… It addresses student-teacher link, common assessment data model, and comes pre-loaded with Common Core learning standards.
The State Core Model consists of three principle artifacts… All three artifacts can be downloaded and used without charge or attribution from [the EIMAC group site].”
And, what is EIMAC? In case you hadn’t heard of EIMAC: it’s the branch of the CCSSO that “advocates on behalf of states to reduce data collection burden and improve the overall quality of the data collected at the national level.” Yes, they said that out loud. They collect data at the national level without authority nor any representation.
But, but– (we say) –Aren’t we protected by GEPA law and by the Constitution from any sort of “accountability” to federal agencies in educational matters or privacy matters including “unreasonable searches”?
Not if our legislators don’t defend these rights.
According to the PESC document, on page 5, we are drowning in “federal accountability”. There are at least 625 federal reports mentioned at PESC. A few include: http://www.pesc.org/library/docs/Common%20Data%20Standards/State%20Core%20Model%2011-17.pdf
EDEN – EDFacts 79 file types
CRDC – Civil Rights Data Collection 2 parts
SFSF – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund 33 indicators, 3 descriptors
MSRI – Migrant Student Records Exchange Initiative
CSPR – Consolidated State Performance Reports 191 Indicators
OSEP – Office of Special Education Programs 34 indicators
IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
CCD – Common Core Data (fiscal) Financial data collected in survey format
SDFSCA – Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Data are collected in CSPR
M-V – McKinney-Vento Collected through CSPR.
Perkins – Perkins Act
RTTT – Race to the Top N/A
TIF – Teacher Incentive Fund 6 Sections
N or D Annual Report of Neglected and Delinquent (N or D) Children Collected through CSPR”
To clarify: the document that signed us up for PESC is the Utah application for the ARRA grant for a SLDS database. (This document resulted in Utah receiving $9.6 million from the federal government, none of which was used for actual education, but only to build the student database (SLDS).)
That SLDS grant application talks about authorizing de-identification of data for research and it says that individuals will be authorized to access personal student information in the various Utah agencies that belong to UDA.
Who are these individuals? How many of them are there? Why does the UDA trust them with information that parents weren’t even told was being gathered on our children?
NON-COGNITIVE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DATA, TOO.
Starting at page 87, we read how non-cognitive behaviors that have nothing to do with academics, will be collected and studied by school systems.
These include “social comfort and integration, academic conscientiousness, resiliency, etc.” to be evaluated through the psychometric census known as the “Student Strengths Inventory. (SSI)”
The SSI inventory –your child’s psychological information– will be integrated into the system (SLDS) and there are plans to do this for earlier grades, but for now it’s for 11th and 12th graders. Demographic information is captured while administering the test and SSI data will be given to whomever it is assumed needs to see it. (This is not a parental decision but a state decision.)
INTEGRATING STUDENT PSYCHOMETRIC CENSUS DATA INTO THE SLDS SYSTEM:
The SLDS grant also promises to integrate our psychological data into the SLDS (that database which the feds paid for/pushed on us.)
“Utah’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance programs have substantial Student Education Occupation Plan, (SEOP) data, but they are not well integrated with other student data. With the introduction of UtahFutures and the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) and its focus on noncognitive data, combining such data with other longitudinal student level data to the USOE Data
Warehouse the UDA. Both the USOE (K-12) and the Postsecondary Outcomes and Data Needs
sub-sections will address these needs.”
(My, what big data collection teeth you have, Grandmother! –The better to integrate you with, my dear.)
Next, on page 87 of the same grant, Utah’s application for the ARRA money, it says:
“… psychosocial or noncognitive factors… include, but are not limited to educational commitment, academic engagement and conscientiousness, social comfort and social integration, academic self-efficacy, resiliency… Until recently, institutions had to rely on standardized cognitive measures to identify student needs.
… We propose to census test all current student in grades 11 and 12 and then test students in grade 11 in subsequent years using the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) – a measure of noncognitive attitudes and behaviors.”
So the Student Strengths Inventory (SSI) is a “psychometric census” to be taken by every 11th and 12th grade student in Utah. That’s how they’re gathering the psychological data.
But that’s not the only way psychological data is being taken in Utah schools. “Behavioral indicators” are also required to be collected by the Common Core tests, those math and English A.I.R. or SAGE tests, as Utah House Bill 15, aka the Common Core Computer Adaptive Testing Bill, demands.
What can we do?
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey has taken action. He articulated his concerns on this subject in a letter to Secretary Arne Duncan. Other legislators around the nation are writing bills to take protective action for student privacy.
I hope all Utah legislators read Senator Markey’s letter, peruse the PESC and ARRA (SLDS) grant documents, look into the SSI surveys, study the machinations of Secretary Arne Duncan,and then take action to put an end to the unreined and ever-growing network of entities which collude for profit and for other, various control-related reasons, to dismiss the vital right of student privacy.
This would mean ending the “partnerships” by Utah with: the CCSSO, the Data Quality Campaign, the PESC State Model, the SLDS interoperability framework, the National Data Collection Model, the CEDS program of EIMAC; it would mean creating proper protections inside the Utah Data Alliance, and most of all, it would mean establishing permission from parents prior to any student SLDS surveillance.