Category Archives: Take Action

Resolution to get Utah Off Fed Ed

Update 1/23/16: This resolution and amendment passed overwhelmingly in the Utah county GOP Central Committee meeting. Only 3 nays to about 225 yeas. I have modified the text below so it only contains the amended version of the resolution which passed. We also have a legislator working on drafting this move as legislation, and another legislator working on the request for an audit.

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If you are unaware of the most recent moves by the federal government to solidify its takeover of education in America and its intrusion into family lives, please review these articles which only deal with the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Article 1: ESSA Invades Your Home
Article 2: NCLB 2002 vs. ESSA 2015

(Drafted by Jennifer Huefner, Pam Budge, Wendy Hart, Kristen Chevrier, JaKell Sullivan, Christel Swasey, Kirby Glad, and Oak Norton)

Resolution to Remove Utah From Federal Education Control

WHEREAS, After decades of growing federal intrusion into our state education system, President Obama has signed into law The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which gives the federal government even more sweeping power over state education (1), regulates education in private schools (2) and implements policies and programs reaching into the home (3); and,

WHEREAS our platform states that “Parents have the right to choose whether a child is educated in private, public or home schools and government should not infringe on that right… We favor local accountability and control in all aspects of the education system.”; and,

WHEREAS federal taxpayers provide only a small fraction of our total education budget (4), but by accepting that sum we give the federal government 100% control over the education of our children; and,

WHEREAS, the Governor has announced that Utah now has new ongoing revenue, due to state growth of $380 million (5), more than enough to replace federal funds and regain control over the education of our children; and,

WHEREAS, the only way to avoid the overbearing requirements of ESSA is to opt out of federal funds. (6)

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Utah County Republican Party declares that we cannot continue to stand by while our educational freedoms are usurped, and this increasing federal intrusion must end now; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah is not beholden to federal mandates on education as that is not in the constitutional purview of the federal government, and as such this resolution asks that the legislature and state school board nullify all federal education mandates; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah should withhold money that would be sent to the federal government in an amount equal to the sum they return to us each year for education and use those funds for K-12 education in this state, drop or nullify all federal education mandates, and fully fund Utah’s education programs; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT if Utah is not able to make use of the previous clause, Utah should use its ongoing budget surplus to replace all federal taxpayer money in education, freeing Utah from federal intrusion; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Utah County GOP leadership shall provide information on this issue to public officials and voters, as may be appropriate through email, website, and physical distribution, and request a comprehensive legislative audit of federal programs including but not limited to those put into place through the 2009 Stimulus Package including data systems (7), alignment to federal regulations, statues, and grants, with the intent for determining how Utah can make a full and complete separation from federal education policies so that Utah schools can truly be freed from federal intrusion; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Utah County Republican Party commends Representatives Chaffetz, Bishop, Stewart, and Love, and Senator Lee, who voted against this invasive law, and we call upon all state legislators and officers to act now to stand for our state’s rights in education.

Oak Norton, HI 07
Katrina Kennedy, AL 5
Mark Cluff, AL 4
Kirby Glad, OR 24
Michael Wirrick, PG 8
Kristen Chevrier, HI 9
Robin Devey, OR 28
Brian Halladay, PG 09
John Morris, LE 11
Jared Oldroyd, PR 11
Nels Beckstrand, AF 05
Loma Lee McKinnon, SR 02
Mark Barlow, AF 13
Troy Lynn, HI 7
Robert Capel, AL 03
Maureen LaPray, PR 38
Tamara Atkin, Payson 06
Nathan Allred, Payson 01
Lynda Roper, PR 25

Supported by: Senators Margaret Dayton, Al Jackson, David Hinkins, Mark Madsen; Representatives Brad Daw, Mike Kennedy, Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene, David Lifferth, Norm Thurston, Marc Roberts, Kay Christofferson

Footnotes

(1) Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1177/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf):
The secretary maintains control over state education plans (P4b, pg. 306)
The secretary shall ‘‘(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan.” (P4b, pg.21)

(2) ‘‘(B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure such equity for such private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, the State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of this part.’’ (pg. 71)
https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1177/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf

(3) Dept. of HHS/USDOEd Draft Policy Implementation Statement on Family Engagement:
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/draft_hhs_ed_family_engagement.pdf
“Implement[s] a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences” (Page 5)
See “parenting interventions” (IBID pg. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16)
ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.” (https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s1177/BILLS-114s1177enr.pdf, Pg. 69)
States shall “become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement;” (IBID, pg. 218)
Provides grants to turn elementary and secondary schools into “Full-Service Community Schools”  with “Pipeline Services” that provide “a continuum of coordinated supports, services, and opportunities for children from birth through… career attainment”, including family health services. (IBID pg. 222, 223, 229)

(4) http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Fingertip-Facts/2015.aspx
2013-14 is an inaccurate estimate. USOE’s document has a typo on gross revenue showing $1.3B more than expenses. This estimated revenue figure is in line with expenses which are assumed to be accurate as they are in line with the trend. We have 5 straight years of declining federal funds but no declining federal requirements. Unfunded mandates rule our state education system.

Utah Education Funding(5) http://www.utah.gov/governor/news_media/article.html?article=20151207-1

(6) ESSA, SEC. 8530A. PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING STATE PARTICIPATION

(7) http://www.scribd.com/doc/283013828/Utah-State-Office-of-Education-circumventing-oversight-public-input-legislative-authority



Here are my comments from presenting this resolution to the Central Committee.

In 2012 Senator Margaret Dayton invited me to a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Bell to explain what was going on with common core and the agenda behind it. What came out of that meeting was I was asked to draft a bill to protect to Utah from federal encroachment. SB 287 passed and contained several triggers that if any of them were to occur we would exit the agreements.

A couple years ago, Governor Herbert was on the Blaze dismissing concerns about Common Core and referenced this bill: (http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/herbert-on-the-blaze/)

Said he: “We have a law that says if any of this federal overreach somehow gets into our [education] system, we are mandated to get out of it.”

Governor Herbert, it’s time.

Here are the federal education triggers now in Utah law. (http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/static/SB0287.html)

53 (6) The state may exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or
54      consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum standards to any other entity, including
55      a federal agency or consortium, for any reason, including:
56          (a) the cost of developing or implementing core curriculum standards;
57          (b) the proposed core curriculum standards are inconsistent with community values; or
58          (c) the agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium:
59          (i) was entered into in violation of Part 9, Implementing Federal Programs Act, or Title
60      63J, Chapter 5, Federal Funds Procedures Act;
61          (ii) conflicts with Utah law;
62          (iii) requires Utah student data to be included in a national or multi-state database;
63          (iv) requires records of teacher performance to be included in a national or multi-state
64      database; or
65          (v) imposes curriculum, assessment, or data tracking requirements on home school or
66      private school students.

The triggers have been pulled. One state has to start the ball rolling. My vote is we do it here in Utah and lead the nation in reclaiming our freedom and breaking these federal chains of bondage. If not us, if not now, then who, and when?

We do not eliminate one dime of education funding. It simply stops Utah from sending it to the feds and having it returned with strings. We just keep it here, or we self-fund.

 

ESSA Invades Your Home

Writing this week in the Deseret News, Senator Orrin Hatch and State Superintendent Brad Smith wrote:

No Child Left Behind was a setback for Utah. It subjected our children to excessive testing, stripped our schools of critical decision-making authority and ceded too much power to the federal government. After 13 years of frustration and disappointment, Utah families have rightly been clamoring to leave this law behind.

That’s why we supported the opportunity to scrap No Child Left Behind and give Utahns a fresh start. This week, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a massive education overhaul that the conservative Wall Street Journal called “the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.”

This is prime evidence of people who:

  1.  Do not read bills before commenting and just rely on others to tell them what a source document says and means.
  2.  Evidence that people read something and attribute good intentions to the federal government and hope for the best.
  3.  Actually just like the feds involved in our lives more and more.

I cannot believe that these two individuals from Utah would actually be in favor of the feds now invading the home as this bill is about to set in motion (see below), so I have to assume that they are part of category 1 or 2 above. Thankfully, 5 of our 6 members of Utah’s delegation actually READ the bill and voted against this abomination. What abomination am I talking about specifically?

Alpine School District board member Wendy Hart posted this article to her blog. I’m reposting with permission.

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From: http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/12/jan-4-2016-deadline-to-support-family.html

Jan 4, 2016: Deadline to Support the Family vs US Dept of Ed

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable vacation.  My family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and we are looking forward to 2016.  I apologize for interrupting what should be family time, but I felt this information was extremely important.

As many of you know, the replacement law for No Child Left Behind, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in December.  As part of that law, the states must come up with a plan for education that includes a ‘Family Engagement Plan.’  Also, the US Dept of Education (USED) is supposed to come up with their own Family Engagement Plan that states MAY adopt, if they don’t want to do their own homework.  The USED has placed their plan on their website and is inviting comments until JANUARY 4th.  (It’s almost as if they didn’t want public comments, since they put this out over Christmas break, but I digress.)  Here is the link for comments: http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/families.html#family-engagement-draft-statement

I would especially encourage you to read pages 13 -14.

Utah State Law says that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children and that the state’s role is to be secondary and SUPPORTIVE to the parents’ role.  The Family Engagement piece is anything but supportive to the parents’ role.  It does have a lot of nice-sounding stuff to blur the lines of you being allowed to ‘partner’ with the Feds/State as they raise your children.

I could go on with my own diatribe, but I found this from left-leaning education blogger Peter Greene that accurately assesses what a lot of the problems are with this ‘plan’.  http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-federal-family-fixing-plan.html  I appreciate the fact that this plan is so appalling to average, normal people that it is not a left/right issue, it is a parents vs bureaucrats issue.

Please take a few minutes to weigh in.  Once this train is on the track, we will be told it’s too late.

Here are some samples:

Implement a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences.

Develop and integrate family engagement indicators into existing data systems 

Local schools and programs should track progress on family engagement goals, as detailed in family engagement plans.

Just remember this when we adopt something egregious as part of our state plan.  The mantra that things like this can’t happen in Utah hasn’t been applicable for far too many years.

And a public thank you to Reps Chaffetz, Love, Bishop, and Stewart, as well as Sen. Mike Lee for voting against ESSA and it’s horrid intrusion into the autonomy of the family!

Happy New Year and thank you for all your support and involvement!

Wendy
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Are you KIDDING ME? Parents, please demand your legislators nullify this bill, this session. ESSA and NCLB have no place in Utah schools or homes.  Contact them now at http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp.

Is your school violating the law?

Has your school notified you of your parental rights?

If you have not been notified by your local school of your rights detailed below, ask the school why they are violating the law and ask your school board member to ensure all schools in your district are following the law. This statement is from SB 122 passed in 2014. It is state law.

http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/sb0122.html

47          53A-15-1502. Annual notice of parental rights.
48          An LEA shall annually notify a parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the LEA of
49      the parent’s or guardian’s rights as specified in this part.

What is specified in this part? OPTING OUT OF SAGE TESTS! (Among other things)

86      (9) (a) Upon the written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse
87      the student from taking a test that is administered statewide or the National Assessment of
88      Educational Progress.

If your school has not notified parents of this right, bring it to your principal’s and school board members’ attention.

Further, new state law passed this year 2015 (http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0204.html, line 92), and signed by the governor mandates that teachers may not incentivize/reward (line 238) or punish SAGE test participation or withdrawal through opting out, and may not use it in grading students (lines 90-93).

On April 10 “The Utah State Board of Education approved amendments to Rule R277-404 Requirement for Assessment of Student Achievement aimed at clarifying the rules and procedures for parents or guardians who wish to opt their public school students out of state tests. Parents or guardians will be asked to fill out an opt-out form at least one day before the test is to be administered.” (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary.aspx#Opt-out)

NEW STATE SCHOOL BOARD POLICY (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary/materials/R277-404-April2015.aspx)

“Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from a state administered assessment without further consequence by an LEA.” (pg 7)

“Upon exercising the right to exempt a child from a state administered assessment under this provision, an LEA may not impose an adverse consequence on a child as a result of the exercise of rights under this provision.” (pg 7)

UPDATE 4-28-15: 2014’s parental rights bill allows for opting out of SAGE. However, Senator Osmond has indicated that 2015’s bill doesn’t take technical effect until July which is after the school year ends. Therefore, teachers have a right to use SAGE in their end of year grading. However, for those who opt out, it appears there is nothing in the law that allows teachers to use an alternate test in your child’s grades. My previous line here about students taking an alternative test was triggered based on Judy Park’s statement at the bottom, but no alternative test is provided for in Utah law, and next year teachers cannot use this test in grades at all. So opting out should not impact your child, or cause your child to have to take an alternative test. See Wendy Hart’s comment below.

Senator Osmond wrote this email to someone explaining the situation.

“The law itself becomes effective on May 12 (or 60 days from the adjournment of the Legislature), but its implementation was always intended to begin in the next school year. Again, that was the intent. So, technically this is the reason for the confusion.

The bottom line is that the both the Legislature and the Utah Board of Education are communicating that the law is to be effective beginning the next school year. This means that teaches may tie SAGE results to grades for this year. But after this school year it will be against the law to do so.”

Wendy Hart, a board member in Alpine School District, posted this to Facebook:

There is no legal requirement from a state level for your child to take an alternative test. I have not heard of a ‘replacement’ test that one ‘orders’. So, this is a local school thing. If it is a local school thing, then there must be a board policy that was adopted in an open, public meeting that REQUIRES students to take this alternative and specifies where/how this is to take place. Otherwise, this is just an administrative-level decision and it does not hold any legal weight. If the teacher was willing to write his own test, then again, this is an administrative thing. Even though this is a charter school, their board meetings are still subject to Utah Open Meetings Laws. All agendas should be publicly available, all policies, all audio of all meetings. They would need to show me chapter and verse as to their authorization for this action. But that chapter and verse cannot, in any way, conflict with existing state law.”

Dr. Gary Thompson posted this on Facebook and I agree.

“Unless your kid is in grade 9-12, the effects of “grades” are not worth stressing over.

I mean really? So a 6th grade kid goes from a B to a C…or even a D because he does not take a test?

So what.

I’m sure Harvard won’t give a damn, and neither should you…especially when they are using it as a bullying tactic.

Call their bluff.

Pull your child.

Ask me how many times someone has asked me about even my GRADUATE school grades in the last 7 years since graduation.

Tell them you would be more than thrilled to have your child take the test..any test.. when they can produce validity reports for them.

Otherwise, let them know that you refuse to allow your child to be used as experimental fodder for a private testing company.

P.S. If they hand you something and say its a validity report, feel free to scan it and send it to me directly.

Several parents have sent me administration produced “validity” reports on the SAGE. Each and every one of them were AIR and/or USOE produced public relations essays.”

The truly aggravating thing is that we are asking 3rd graders and on up to sit for 2.5-3 hours at a time taking a year end test that will do NOTHING for learning. It’s grueling. I’m one of those accountants who took the CPA and CMA exam, both 16 hour exams, and each section was an endurance test along with the knowledge, and this was for someone in their 20’s, not 8 years old.

As per instructions from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park on 9-23-14 to all schools:

“3. When a … parent or guardian opts‐out of a state‐level test, no academic penalty shall result for the student. If teachers/schools use any of these tests for grading/promotion decisions, some alternative assessment will need to be provided…
5. Any student who is in school and not participating in testing should be engaged in a meaningful educational activity. Students not participating in any testing should not be singled out in any negative way nor should the student or the class be administratively punished in any way because a student opts out of testing…

This instruction should prevent teachers from giving unfair alternative assessments to students.

Utah teacher perverting U.S. history with Howard Zinn

I received this email from someone last week which I think many of you will be interested in. This is not Common Core related, although we all know about the awful perversion of AP U.S. History that has taken place under the College Board which is aligning everything to Common Core. Here is what she sent me. Take action below.

My daughter goes to Cottonwood High School. She had her first AP US History and her teacher told them that the history they learned in elementary was all a lie. They read from “History is a Weapon” by Howard Zinn where he tells them that the US is founded on genocide of the Native Americans. My daughter also tells me that the other students in the class believe the teacher.

Please do the following:

1) Email your local and/or state school board member and ask them to make sure Howard Zinn’s version of U.S. history isn’t being portrayed in your school district classrooms. I would include what this mother’s letter contains.

2) Carbon copy your legislators and the governor on your email.

If you don’t have your legislators email addresses, get them here (http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp)

Governor Herbert’s contact form is here. Copy/paste your email to him:

http://utah.gov/governor/contact/