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.
Wow, this 16 year old in Arkansas does a great job taking down Common Core. He shows the copyright on these standards and he’s got video of the Jason Zimba testimony from the MA board meeting where he admits to Sandra Stotsky (a member of the board) that Common Core’s “college and career readiness” won’t prepare students for selective colleges. He then goes into PARCC, one of the 2 federally funded assessment consortia. He then this in to Achieve and how they want a data system (didn’t mention or maybe know that Achieve was funded by Bill Gates). Then he shows how New York and Kentucky did after a year of Common Core, on content tests, bombing, and plays the audio from the superintendent of a school district who sent an audio message out to parents announcing Common Core is hurting their children. He shows federal database website that says it’s a federally mandated database that all states will submit student information to the federal Dept. of Ed. He shows how PARCC has signed an agreement with the feds to turn over data, (and mentions SBAC signed the same agreement which is what Utah exited last year, only to sign an agreement with AIR in January, the official SBAC partner. We need to know what AIR has signed with the feds). He shows a video clip of a man talking about pulling data from everywhere in order to “make this system work” and “this is the glue that holds everything together”. Then this man shows a slide showing a path to being a plumber or a doctor. The 16 year old then explains the colorful chart the guy showed that all the standards can be fit to specific career paths so they can tell from the computerized tests what your child would be good at and can direct their career path. He then rips into Pearson showing how they purchased education companies, sometimes at 2 times the value of the company, in order to take out competitors, so that McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Pearson, control nearly all the education market. This is a great presentation.
Prepared by Alyson Williams, this is an excellent little Prezi presentation on what people don’t typically see that is related to Common Core.
This week, a group of Florida parents, supported by parents and educators nationwide, released an executive order, demanding an end to Common Core and the parentally unauthorized student data mining that’s taking place in every state.
As parents, we claim the privilege of directing our childrens’ educations, free from SLDS (state longitudinal database tracking systems), free from Common Core-aligned testing, standards, or “model” curriculum; free from private trade group EIMAC/CCSSO data collection, free from federal micromanagement, free from federal “accountability”; free from the both student and teacher data mining and tracking that is offensive to individual liberty and to Constitutional, local control.
As parents and teachers, we claim the privilege outlined in the Declaration of Independence that government is by consent of the governed. We, the governed, have not been asked nor have we approved these unvetted standards and systems. Therefore, any governance of children or school staff under the Common Core agenda is simply invalid.
Why: The promises of the promoters of the Common Core Standards do not add up. The evidence is overwhelming, and increases daily, that the Common Core agenda damages where it claims to serve; yet those who push back against the Common Core agenda are disrespected by school boards and in hearings around the nation. This is outrageous. We are the children’s parents; children are not the government’s human capital” despite what the Department of Education repeatedly claims.
Along with the executive order, parents have issued a longer, referenced document that explains the reasoning behind the executive order. This document is entitled “Welcome to the Common Core Fuzzy Math: Common Core Equals Conditions Plus Coercion Plus Conflict of Interest.”
Please pass this message along.
Here is a partial list of all the parent-educator groups working to fight the federal-and-corporate partnered machine of Common Core.
■Colorado: https://www.facebook.com Mesa County Citizens/Businesses Against Common Core Curriculum & Colorado Parents Against Common Core
■Florida (Central): https://www.facebook.com/groups/CentralFPACC/?fref=ts
■Louisiana: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreLa and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-Louisiana/325178490918603?fref=ts
■New Hampshire:https://www.facebook.com/NHSchoolChoice; https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNH?ref=hl; https://www.facebook.com/CornerstonePolicyResearch?ref=hl
■New Hampshire: http://nhfamiliesforeducation.org/;https://www.facebook.com/groups/nhfamiliesforeducation
■New Mexico: http://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInNewMexico
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CURE-NJ/274974855970782
■New Jersey: https://www.facebook.com/groups/220888071386355
■New Jersey: http://www.facebook.com/groups/363967600385017/
■New York: https://www.facebook.com/groups/607166125977337/
■New York (State Island specifically): http://www.facebook.com/groups/638305829518125/
■New York (Long Island specifically): https://www.facebook.com/groups/141680156005331/
■North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-NC/150345585132550?fref=ts
■North Dakota: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-Common-Core-in-North-Dakota/431076243650481
■Rhode Island: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=542616145789229&_mn_=11&refid=7&_ft_=qid.5865817560745279255%3Amf_story_key.-1168715708737317007
■Rhode Island: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-common-core-in-Rhode-Island/542616145789229?ref=ts&fref=ts
■South Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreInSouthCarolina?ref=stream
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/SouthDakotansAgainstCommonCore
■South Dakota: http://www.facebook.com/groups/stop.common.core.in.south.dakota/
■Washington State Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/WAstateAgainstCommonCore/?fref=ts
■Washington State Page: http://stopcommoncorewa.wordpress.com/
■West Virginia: https://www.facebook.com/pages/WV-Against-Common-Core/359684890815537
■Special Education Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/249171258560458/249174031893514/?comment_id=249175028560081¬if_t=group_comment
Pioneer Institute has released a new White Paper by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky entitled “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM.” The purpose of this paper is to explain what the level of college readiness in Common Core’s mathematics standards is and what this level means for the high school mathematics and science curriculum, post-secondary education, and mathematics-dependent professional programs.
Among the topics covered is an extensive expose on Jason Zimba’s (one of the 3 math standards authors) statements regarding his definition and explanation of college and career readiness from 2010 when the standards were released, to what he now says he meant back then. Members of our State Board of Education are under the impression that Jason’s 2013 statements are accurate representations of what he meant back in 2010, but looking at the full text of what he said back then, it’s totally clear what he was talking about.
You can download the white paper here:
Here’s a snippet:
To verify the accuracy of the official minutes
of the March 2010 meeting, the authors of
this paper obtained a copy of the official
recording of the meeting. Its sound quality
is excellent. Zimba’s exact comment in his
initial presentation was: “We have agreement
to the extent that it’s a fuzzy definition, that
the minimally college-ready student is a
student who passed Algebra II.”
Stotsky (a member of the state board at the
time) later asked him to clarify what he meant.
Zimba stated: “In my original remarks, I
didn’t make that point strongly enough or
signal the agreement that we have on this—
the definition of college readiness. I think it’s
a fair critique that it’s a minimal definition of
Stotsky remarked at this point “for some
colleges,” and Zimba responded by stating:
“Well, for the colleges most kids go to, but
not for the colleges most parents aspire to.”
Stotsky then asked “Not for STEM? Not
for international competitiveness?” Zimba
responded “Not only not for STEM, it’s also
not for selective colleges. For example, for
UC Berkeley, whether you are going to be an
engineer or not, you’d better have precalculus
to get into UC Berkeley.”
Stotsky then said: “Right, but we have to
think of the engineering colleges and the
Zimba added “That’s true, I think the third
pathway [a pathway that does not exist in
the final version. See Section V for further
discussion] goes a lot towards that. But your
issue is broader than that.”8
Stotsky agreed saying “I’m not just thinking
about selective colleges. There’s a much
broader question here. Zimba then added
“That’s right. It’s both, I think, in the sense of
being clear about what this college readiness
does and doesn’t get you, and that’s the big
Stotsky then summarized her objections
to this minimalist definition by explaining
that a set of standards labeled as making
students college-ready when the readiness
level applies only to a certain type of college
and to a low level of mathematical expertise
wouldn’t command much international
respect in areas like technology, economics,
and business. Zimba appeared to agree as he
then said “OK. Thank you.”
This is a post to share with all your friends and neighbors. Not everyone is going to do this, but we need as many people as possible to participate. If you have a child in school, please print out a copy of this form and send it in. Here’s a pdf copy and the text of the document is reproduced below which you can copy/paste into a word processor of your choice.
To help spread the word, have your children share these small pass-along cards with their friends: My parents opted me out (PDF)
To properly introduce this topic, please check out this short interview clip my good friend Ken Cromar made for a documentary he’s making called Miracles. It’s an interview segment he did with Rabbi Daniel Lapin and it’s what we need right now to understand Miracles come after we take action. Please take action today. We need massive amounts of parents to opt-out of these assessments
State/National CAT/Data Collection Opt-Out Form
First, I, _____________________, as the parent/guardian of ___________________, have a “fundamental liberty interest” in the care, custody and welfare of my child as codified in Utah Code §62A-4a-201. In exercise thereof, I hereby elect to exclude my child from participating in all computer adaptive tests (CAT) administered by or through Utah’s public education system (including but not limited to MAP/CRT/AIR/NWEA assessments) which are optional or required by the state for standardized testing. Utah code §62A-4a-201 states:
(d) The state recognizes that:
(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and
(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.
I take this action to protect the privacy and welfare of my child because these examinations contain behavioral testing1 which I believe is a violation of state law2 and the individual results are tracked in a statewide longitudinal database system (SLDS) which is accessible by the federal government and private entities3, used for school grading4, and allows my child’s personal information to be individually identifiable5. In taking this action, I recognize the state office may label my child as non-proficient6 which has negative repercussions.
I believe these tests are fundamentally flawed by attempting to test students on material to which they may have never been exposed. The fact that the exams are confidential7 so no one may examine the questions before or after a child takes the exam and that they provide psychometric feedback from embedded behavioral questions, are unacceptable to me as a parent.8
Second, I further opt my child out of any and all surveys that contain personal, financial, or any other information on our family, and from any other type of data collection method that would contain personal, private, and confidential information (eg. DNA collection).
To the extent that the above named school now, or in the future, possesses any data on my child, I do not give permission for such data to be passed to the state unless it is de-identified, aggregate data combined with that of many other students.
When CAT’s are given to my child’s class, I request that my child be provided an alternative exam that will be graded by my child’s teacher, or, alternatively, that my child be allowed to spend that time in quiet study.
I further request that the school keep a copy of this document in my child’s school file and that the school acknowledge my rights and their intent to support my decision by signing below and returning a copy to me.
Finally, this action is not intended to be an indication of my opinion regarding the quality of my child’s teacher(s), or of the school, but as a statement that my family refuses to participate in any activity that further erodes our privacy. I respect and appreciate your work in educating my child.
Please provide a copy to each of my son/daughter’s teachers who administer CAT assessments so they are aware that my child needs an alternate activity during testing.
Please contact me via email __________________ or phone ________________ if you have any questions.
____________________ ___________ ___________
School Official Signature Title Date
1- http://le.utah.gov/~2013/bills/sbillenr/sb0175.pdf (line 66)
2- Utah Code Title 53A Section 302
6- At the 8/2/2013 Utah State Board of Education meeting, amendments to SB 271 were made to label students non-proficient if they failed to take the CAT standardized assessments
7- http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System/FAQTop10Questions.aspx (search “confidential”)
Susan Ohanian recently sent this list of questions to officials in Vermont. I am copy/pasting the article from VTdigger because this needs to be seen by everyone. Switch Utah for Vermont and the questions still apply. These are questions our Utah leaders need to address as well.
Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Susan Ohanian of Charlotte, a longtime teacher and author of 25 books on education policy and practice. Her website is at www.susanohanian.org.
Author’s note: North Carolina Lt. Gov. Daniel J. Forest wrote an open letter to the state’s chief education officer, asking 67 questions about the Common Core State Standards. That letter provoked my own open letter to Vermont leaders who make critical decisions about educating our children. Every Vermonter has a stake in their answers.
Dear Gov. Shumlin, Secretary Vilaseca, members of the State Board of Education, and members of the House and Senate Committees on Education:
The Common Core State Standards
1. In an August 2010 press release, Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca stated that Vermont had been “actively involved in the development and review of these new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).”
• Please provide the names of these Vermonters “actively involved” in this CCSS development; include minutes and materials.
• Please forward all CCSS-related correspondence between the Vermont State Education Agency, the governor, and members of the Vermont Legislature between January 2009 and June 2010.
2. Did the secretary, the State Board of Education and members of the legislative education committees examine dissenting views before adopting the CCSS?
• Please provide a list of individuals, groups, associations providing reasons for NOT pursuing CCSS.
3. Can you point to pedagogical research supporting the following CCSS directives (offered as tiny examples of inappropriate mandates)?
• Kindergarten: Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme words.
• Grade 6: Establish and maintain a formal style in writing.
4. In a commentary in VTDigger, Aug. 29, 2010, Secretary Vilaseca asserted, “The Common Core State Standards are comparable to the most rigorous international education standards.”
• Please name the international standards used as CCSS benchmarks.
5. The Vermont Agency of Education states that CCSS are needed “To enable students from the U.S. to compete with their peers globally.”
• Please provide research showing a causal relationship between any national standards and economic competitiveness.
6. What was inadequate about Vermont’s previous standards?
• Please provide evidence of Vermont schools not teaching our students to read, write, speak, listen, and learn math for the past several decades.
7. What is the cost of providing teachers with resources to make the change to CCSS?
• Is this cost the responsibility of taxpayers in local districts?
• Has consideration been given to what schools will have to sacrifice in order to meet the standards?
8. Were local school boards consulted before CCSS adoption?
• Please provide details of these discussions.
9. The Vermont Agency of Education recommended that teachers watch a video featuring David Coleman, a chief architect of the CCSS, advising students who read several grade levels below the complex text assigned to the class: “You’re going to practice it again and again and again and again … so there’s a chance you can finally do that level of work.”
• How does this CCSS approach fit with the personalized education for every student?
10. When Vermont adopted CCSS, what convincing information superseded the fact that the radical CCSS, written by non-educators, was not research-based, not field-tested, not proven effective?
11. The State Board can change/alter the CCSS by “15%” to accommodate local needs.
• What constitutes a percentage point when modifying CCSS?
• Who can request such modifications for Vermont?
• To whom does Vermont submit modifications?
• What happens if changes above “15%” are made?
12. The Pioneer Institute estimates the cost to implement CCSS nationally at about $16 billion over the next seven years. Six Rockland County (New York) school districts estimate a four-year cost of $10,886,712. What is the cost projection for Vermont?
13. How is the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) aligned to CCSS better than current assessments (which Vermont taxpayers paid a lot to develop)? Include correspondence, and documentation of Vermont participation in SBAC meetings.
14. Teachers and parents have expressed concerns about the length of the pilot tests. What is your best estimate for the time CCSS assessments will take from regular school studies?
15. How do you plan to address challenges posed by the lack of transparency in these assessments?
• Who will determine cut scores, the number of right answers students need on a test to be deemed proficient, on the new CCSS exams?
• What happens to students who do not meet these cut scores?
16. Why did Vermont decide not to field test CCSS assessments prior to the complete roll-out?
17. How will the CCSS tests affect students in alternative programs such as the Walden Project offered through Vergennes Union High School and other remarkable placed-based learning projects?
• Can you offer assurance that CCSS assessments will “test for grit, teamwork, communication, innovation, ambition and the like?” [See John Merrow Open Letter to Architects of the Common Core, May 29, 2013]
18. So far this year, Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia have withdrawn from assessments associated with CCSS. Has Vermont looked into this as an option? Why or why not?
19. To accommodate just the technological requirements for CCSS assessments, Florida budgeted an additional $450 million and California an extra $1 billion. What has Vermont budgeted for technological improvements to ensure our schools meet the basic requirements for CCSS assessment?
20. Does every Vermont school have bandwidth capacity for the CCSS assessments? Please provide a list.
21. Will the implementation of new technology requirements to accommodate CCSS assessment require local schools to hire additional IT staff?
Origin of the Common Core
22. Do you think that the fact that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent several hundred million dollars to create and promote the CCSS, shutting teachers out of the process, puts the democratic process in jeopardy?
23. In his State of the Union address President Obama referenced CCSS: “We’ve convinced nearly every state in the country …” What form did federal “persuasion” take in Vermont’s decision?
24. In a June 2013 letter sent to the Chief State School Officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated, “The Department of Education (DOE) is open to additional flexibility for states in … one particular element of teacher and leader evaluation.”
• If CCSS and assessments are not federally mandated programs, why and how is the federal government able to offer flexibility to states?
25. Secretary Duncan: “Given … the dramatic changes in curricula that teachers and principals are now starting to teach, and the transition to new assessments aligned to those standards, the Department will, on a state-by-state basis, allow states up to one additional year before using their new evaluation systems to inform personnel determinations.”
• Exactly what does “evaluation systems to inform personnel determinations” mean in Vermont? What is the federal role in how we evaluate our teachers?
26. InBloom, the national database of personal student information associated with the implementation of CCSS, states that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored, or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”
• Please detail any communication between representatives from inBloom and the Vermont Agency of Education.
27. What is your position on the lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) against the U.S. Department of Education for issuing regulations that fail to safeguard students?
• Please list what data points will be collected on Vermont public school students and shared with “contractors, consultants and volunteers.”
• Please provide the names of contractors, consultants and volunteers who conducted such research over the last two years.
28. Can Vermont parents and students “opt out” of the collection and storage of personal information in education databases associated with CCSS? If so, what is the process? If not, why not?
Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions. I believe every Vermonter has a huge stake in your answers.
Someone send us this letter below to send back to the PTA when they ask for donations. It’s a good template so we’re publishing it. Someone else emailed us concerned that the local PTA’s are doing a lot of good in the schools in spite of national and state leaders pushing them to endorse Common Core. While this may be true, their dues are supporting the national agenda. This person recommends that everyone show up at PTA meetings to help explain to people what Common Core is all about and help educate these parent volunteers. She said that as long as you don’t join PTA, donations that are given after membership drives stay local. I do not know about this myself, so I’m just posting it as a possibility. The best thing would be to check if your school has a PTO (most charter schools do, most district schools do not). A PTO is 100% local so all funds stay at the school. If you have a PTA at your school and can disband it and form a PTO, that’s a great objective.
This year I will be withholding my annual PTA donation. I am concerned about the financially indebted relationship that has developed between PTA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gates’ push for the academically experimental Common Core. I refer to the following announcement, found on the Gates Foundation website:
National PTA to Mobilize Parents for Common Core Standards – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Receives $1 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to engage parents in four states.
CHICAGO — – National PTA is positioning itself as a key player at the front line of education reform. The association today announced a new three-year effort to mobilize parents to advance key education priorities, beginning with common core state standards—a voluntary, state-led, internationally benchmarked set of high academic standards in English language arts and mathematics. A $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help support the effort.
I would support the formation of a local PTO where all monies collected from parents would go to the school, rather than being sent to the national group.
Jane Robbins at the American Principle’s Project put together a great resource for Florida’s leaders (and the rest of us) correcting the misinformation being spread by the US Department of Education about Common Core.
For example, the Utah state office of education likes to parrot the talking point that Common Core was internationally benchmarked (false) and since Utah chose the “integrated” math version of Common Core, we are doing what the top Asian nations are doing so we will have similar results. Not only are we NOT doing what the Asian nations are doing, our efforts to push constructivist math are going to do great harm to our students. This is part of Ms. Robbin’s article:
Despite the Common Core proponents’ claim that this mandate promotes “critical thinking,” this is nothing but the same recycled “new math” that was tried and abandoned decades ago. Ignoring this history of failure, Common Core tries again to impose the notion that students must spend less time working math problems and more time explaining the underlying concepts of what they are doing.
Does the research support the argument that students are more successful with math using this technique? To the contrary – research concerning top-performing countries shows that students do better in math if they are required to work math problems (lots of them), not merely explain math problems. A report by the American Educational Research Association examined the math standards of high-achieving countries, Finland, Japan, and Singapore, and discovered very little alignment to Common Core. All three of these countries “place a much greater emphasis on ‘perform procedures’ than found in the U.S. Common Core standards.” In fact, “[f]or each country, approximately 75% of the content involves ‘perform procedures,’ whereas in the Common Core standards, the percentage for procedures is 38%.” If the Common Core math drafters want U.S. students to compete with students from these countries, perhaps imposing standards with only half the math-performance requirements is not the best way to go about it.
Please check out the whole article here: