Uintah USOE AIR/SAGE Meeting Report

We received this report yesterday from someone who attended the Uintah school district meeting last week where USOE representatives spoke about AIR/SAGE testing. This parent requested anonymity. If you are new to this and don’t know what AIR/SAGE is, please read this report on AIR/SAGE by Alpine School District board member Brian Halladay.

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I attended the meeting held by Uintah School District last week.

The meeting appeared to be a training on the new assessments for Common Core that will cost $30 million. The guy turned his back on the room and spoke quietly when he said ‘$30 mil’, so I’m not sure I heard him correctly. He was more than happy to face the room and speak loudly about how great these assessments will be and how very much we need them–in his opinion. (Note-his job is dependent on him holding to that opinion.)

A little more than halfway through the meeting, he finally allowed questions. He would NOT allow questions before that. When question time came, it was very clear that the majority of the people in the room were unhappy parents, not educators there for his training. With a great deal of pressure from parents, it was decided that some common core questions would be answered by Dixie Allen of the state school board.

All individuals interested in common core questions being answered were invited to get up and move to a smaller room to talk with Dixie. By the time everyone had gathered in the smaller room, common core was on a screen at the front of the room and Dixie was prepared to give a presentation. Parents tried to ask questions and Dixie tried to give a presentation.

When it became clear that Dixie’s intent was to deliver a Common Core ‘sale’, one parent specifically requested that questions be answered first and the presentation be given second because people were obviously wanting their questions answered now. Dixie said no, but eventually had to give in because the questions wouldn’t quit coming. We didn’t have to watch or listen to a big presentation from Dixie, but we did have to listen to her state several times that common core standards are higher (to which one parent consistently replied ‘no, they’re not’ every time). She also told the parent in the room who knew the most about Common Core that she (Dixie) didn’t want that mom asking anymore questions because the mom gave comments, informing other parents of the details so Dixie could not shut them down completely. Obviously, Dixie is frightened of the truth getting out.

Dixie also denied being the homeschool teacher for 2 of her grandchildren in her home. (I think the count was 2.) She later backtracked on that one and admitted that she teaches one grandchild who is in 9th grade right now and homeschooled because of bullying. (A difficult to fully believe claim because the junior high principal here is quite strict and everyone else says this principal put an end to bullying in that school when she was first put in as principal, long enough ago that bullying in that school would have ended by the time Dixie’s grandchild would have entered the jr. high.)

Dixie also repeatedly stated that Utah must do Common Core because otherwise we cannot buy curriculum to match our core because we don’t spend enough money on education and therefore the curricula vendors don’t cater to us. No one in the room agreed with her on needing more money, but she made this claim repeatedly. Then when the question “How much will these new curricula materials to match common core cost us?” was asked, the answer was “Nothing, we’re making our own.

None of the parents in the room said anything, but note that the argument that we need to do common core so we can buy materials to match our core falls when you consider that we’re not buying the materials!

In short, no one in the meeting was convinced that common core was a good idea. Parents talked afterwards, exchanging their contact info and more information on common core. One parent had watched a program on the miserable failure of common core in Michigan and was there with her notes in hand, asking questions and providing details of how bad things are in Michigan. Dixie tried very hard, but unsuccessfully, to refute the points this good mom made throughout the meeting. Another mom mentioned that history has proven how very dangerous a national curriculum can be, but many people in the room are unaware of that and just thought she’s a little paranoid.

I left the meeting thinking that Dixie is either completely ignorant of the facts surrounding common core or she is an outright liar. I spoke with some people who know her personally the next day and they told me that she just truly believes in big government, so she wouldn’t even be able to see the facts. It was interesting to watch her at the meeting. Dixie is an elected representative of the people, but you couldn’t tell. Elected representatives should listen to the people, treat them respectfully, and do as the people want. Dixie did none of that. As an elected representative of the people, she ARGUED with them and spoke condescendingly when they didn’t understand education lingo. It was very sad.

Dixie did state that Utah might not adopt the science part of common core because of pressure from the ‘right wing’ in the state. She also said that Utah might try to vary from common core by more than the 15% allowed, but there will be no attempt to get out of common core.

Sadly, the powers that be cannot admit they’ve made a mistake and are completely disrespectful to the people who gave them power and pay the taxes that support them and their decisions.

*****

That ends the report but I wanted to note that I personally had 2 state school board members tell me last year that Utah would never adopt the Common Core science or social studies standards. Teacher and former state representative David Cox spoke with State Superintendent Martel Menlove a month ago and Dr. Menlove told him that Utah would not adopt the Common Core social studies standards. Yet just a week ago we learned that Utah is participating in the CREATION of those social studies standards. You can express your displeasure with the state school board by emailing them at Board@schools.utah.gov. It’s time for partisan school board elections where candidates aren’t carefully selected by a committee and then filtered by the governor.

12 Responses to Uintah USOE AIR/SAGE Meeting Report

  • ChandiJ says:

    I vote against Dixie and everyone I know does as well. I don’t know who keeps electing her ’cause it sure isn’t any of the Uintah kids who had her as a principal in the early 2000s.

  • Jessica says:

    Is there any way to get media coverage on some of this? Maybe a getgephart story? I’d love to see this talked about in local media.

  • These public meetings put on by USOE have become almost comical in nature. I would laugh, but it had become clear to this “Liberal” who got doors slammed in his face campaigning for Obama, that I now need to not only set aside $100,000 for my toddlers PRE COLLEGE, education, I need to immediately recruit several more Doctors in our clinic in anticipation for the (longer) line of parents wrapped our clinic begging to clean up the damage that public schools are inflicting upon their kids.

    The irony of this is apparent. If I continue my fight against Common Core, our clinic will lose money. If I shut up, USOE is going to make me rich. Between the cash that will be dropped off by parents around the state, and the fees collected by our Special Education Attorney via your tax money defending helpless kids and parents who have been harmed by a one size fits all education system, I will be set for life as long as I shut up.

    However, here is the USOE:

    I’m getting tired of kicking your rear ends and taking my friends and neighbors tax money to pay for Disneyland trips and Yo Gabba Gabba videos for my daughter. More importantly, I’m tired of getting weekly calls from close friends whose children are in dire distress in your schools and only receive attention after our advocacy division drops nuclear bombs via legal venues so that my friend’s children can get a appropriate education that does not emotionally traumatize the living day lights out of them.

    If none of you can see the statistically significant possibility that many children (especially my culture of African American kids) have a STRONG chance of getting left in academic and emotional dust via this poorly designed Common Core experiment, then each and everyone of you need to resign your elected or appointed positions of trust.

    You cannot launch an experiment of this magnitude without informing parents of the potential risks associated with many populations of children that may be potentially affected with a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder NOS (in lay men’s terms, clinically induced anxiety disorders primarily caused by school related stress). I have ZERO problem stating that what you are proposing to launch in MY community is a form of emotional child abuse.

    When did it become “Un-American” to ask elected and appointed education leaders to just take breath, slow down and re-evaluate the biggest educational reform that my country has ever seen? Answer: it’s not.

    I demand as a father of public school children, and as a dedicated educational advocate for the kids and parents in this state who do not have a voice to stop this fast moving train called Common Core and give us tax payers a better accounting of not only the potential advantages, but the potential damages that may be inflicted upon our children.

    The alternative? Quit your paid jobs at USOE, resign from elected offices of the Utah State Board of Education, and resign your positions of trust as respective local Superintendents of local public schools. It’s time for someone to step up and draw that line. Unfortunately, that someone is me. Where do you stand?

    • D. Miller says:

      You aren’t the same guy who got up early on (maybe 10 minutes into John Jesse’s hour plus presentation) in the Nebo meeting, who dissed every parent there for just simply and politely asking questions by saying the same thing you’ve written here about the Uintah meeting are you? That guy didn’t stay to hear the whole meeting, but instead stood up, walked to the front, shook John Jessie’s hand and told the rest of us that we were awful and didn’t realize who John Jessie was (does that matter in this discussion?)…then exited the room. We found out later that he is the new principal for a school in that district so it’s obvious he is biased and wanting the district and state leaders to be impressed by his blind support. So are you that guy? Have you researched this? Do you fully understand the freedoms we are giving up with our kids and their education? Ask yourself why was this CCSS brought into our state “in the night” in 2010 w/o the public or state legislators being informed? Why did Utah, our governor and the USOE jump on board so quickly w/o the public knowledge (dangling carrot of NCLB grant and RTTT waiver…in other words, Fed promises which include Fed strings). Ask yourself why the FERPA laws have been tweaked from their original intent…which was to protect our children’s privacy placing the parent(s) totally responsible for WHO sees their information, but has now changed allowing much less privacy and w/o parent approval. Ask who stands to make a lot of $$ off of CCSS (tech companies, textbook publishers, Bill & Melida Gates, Exxon Mobile, George Soros, etc). Ask yourself why does the USOE continue to hold these SAGE/AIR meetings for the “public” and not just for the teachers (where John Jesse tries staving off parents questions with his too long presentation and his water bottle drinking)? Why not hold a meeting for just the parents on CCSS period where parents can find a place to voice their concerns…oh, wait, that ‘s what the USOE should have done in June 2010 when our governor was deciding whether or not to sign (unbeknownst to us and our tax $$) up for CC…for those dangling carrots. So you see, the USOE didn’t do what it was suppose to do clear back almost 3 years ago. Word is just now getting out because of very dedicated people who woke up one day to read information sent home with their children telling them that a new and wonderful national education standard was being implemented into their kids school (state) of which they had never heard of before and wondering if they’d missed a school meeting and therefore, began asking teachers and school administrators about it…only to be told nothing (because there had been absolutely no testing or vetting of it yet) except, “You’re going to love it!” What would you do then? Any intelligent person would begin researching it…and thank heavens they did and began sharing the information to others who then began research of their own. The USOE has brought this upon themselves by their covert operations early on with CCSS. They were not transparent about it from the beginning and are now being belligerent to anyone who says they don’t like it. Sadly, they don’t seem to be able to see the error of their actions, listen to the public (who many are just now learning about CCSS), apologize, and reverse their awful decision (made w/o legislator and public input) and get us out of this terrible excuse of a national standard. Their job was to inform the public and the state legislation to get our input BEFORE signing us up for it. They didn’t do it at the beginning and now that the word is out, they cannot admit their mistake. You can see why a few folks might be concerned about this…taxation w/o representation. There is so much “hidden agenda” to this horrible standard that every leaf picked up or every ring of the onion peeled off turns into another surprisingly rotten reason to get out of it NOW!

  • Billie Garcia says:

    I am completely against common core and realize that the school districts are promoting it through the sales pitch handed to them by the Common Core in an effort to expand big government. However, I fail to see what Dixie’s personal life (the fact that she may or may not homeschool one or more of her grandchildren, whether or not they are bullied which also may be a concern to any parent regardless of the policy of the school on bullying) has to do with our concerns over the Common Core.
    I, myself, homeschool all of my children in Davis county and am a supporter of the movement against the Common Core. How much the Common Core and the other laws (including privacy laws) that are being changed to support the Common Core curriculum will effect our family and our homeschool routine remains to be seen.

    • Oak Norton says:

      Billie, here’s why Dixie’s homeschooling is relevant. When Common Core was first implemented, it was done in the middle schools. Dixie, with an inside knowledge, knew that that next year would be largely a repeat for her granddaughter. Did the rest of the public? Not at that time. She pulled her granddaughter out to homeschool her so she wouldn’t have to suffer through a boring year of learning nothing, while the rest of the state children slipped back and repeated much of what was covered in the prior year. Essentially she is guilty of insider trading.

      • Dixie Allen says:

        Oak,

        It is indeed sad that a person can post lies on a website, without even identifying who they are or what they represent. I have never denied that my family has homeschooled my grandchildren for many different reasons — none of which are the “Common Core”.

        In the meeting I brought up Homeschooling (and pointed out that my daughter ran the homeschool program for Uintah District and the eastern part of the state), as a reminder that if our students are not succeeding in the public school, that parents have other options, especially with homeschooling that is funded under districts with WPU funding and online programs.

        I have home schooled three of my grandchildren, one because she had dyslexia and needed to learn to read, so pulled her out during her 4th grade year and taught her how to read. Have two students who attended Vernal Junior High, one a boy and one a girl, who in 8th and 9th grades were being bullied. The girl spend one year in home school and returned to Uintah High this year and the boy will return to Uintah High School next fall.

        It is indeed a shame that we can’t be honest and forthright in our discussions of how to improve education, but have to lie and turn around statements meant by others to help us understand and share our concerns and possible solutions. Unfortunately for some, it is “their way or nothing”. I am sorry that your readers have heard lies about how I feel and what I have tried to do for them and all our students of the state.

        However, you have been doing this for a long time and probably don’t know how else to get the attention you want. I am so sorry!! I so wish we could find ways to work together and be honest!

        Dixie

        • Oak Norton says:

          You mean like these lies Dixie?
          http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/Parents/coreStandardsPamphlet.aspx
          Or like when State Board Member Joel Coleman just published on his blog that we are just against all standards in education?
          I made my statement of your homeschooling your grandchildren based on this email you sent Christel Swasey last year. (There is no mention of bullying and your intent seems fairly clear):
          “I understand your frustration. I home schooled my 8th grade grandson and 9th grade granddaughter this year since our school district had decided to adopt the Common Core for every grade rather than what was proposed by the state. It was proposed that we only adopt for the 6th and 9th grade and provide alternative programs for those students who already had the skills being taught to all through the Common Core…” (http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/state-and-local-school-board-perceptions-of-common-core-differ-13-2/)
          For you to make statements that I and others have been lying for a long time is totally inappropriate. The USOE and State Board have been maligning us and misrepresenting our positions for a long time. The USOE or State Board members represented to Lt. Governor Bell that we believed the standards were going to indoctrinate children in Marxism. An obvious lie and straw-man argument that was easy to knock over and have obvious effects on him. If the USOE and State Board weren’t pushing misinformation and were transparent in the actual involvement of players involved in Common Core, and explained to the public in clear ways all the entanglements of Common Core, and then used a fully open process to adopt Common Core, this site probably wouldn’t exist because a fair adoption process would have been used. The truth is, the adoption process was not transparent and it’s taken enormous amounts of effort by the public to dig and dig and dig into numerous documents to uncover the whole story. The truth is, Common Core is the stepping stone into nationalizing education. Anyone who looks can see that in the numerous statements and involvement by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. We would welcome productive dialog with the State Board on improving education, but since board members also resort to name calling such as telling legislators that we are just “conspiracy theorists,” that tends to make healthy working relationships difficult.

  • Corinne Aagard says:

    I agree. It is time to change how the state school board is elected. It is so infuriating to go to these meetings and be treated like we have no right to question them. We need to remind them who we are. They work for us and therefore are accountable to us. It is like the employees refusing to answer to their boss. It has to stop! If they continue this we need to demand their resignation. We have a right and a responsibility to find out if a product is worth buying and even if we have already purchased it and it does not work we should be able to return it! This is about our children our greatest stewardship our most sacred responsibility. It is time for Utah to truly take the lead in taking back control of our education and our state sovereignty! If we do not stand to protect our children when will we stand? I have had it with being treated like I am stupid. When John Jessi gave his presentation to the Nebo district he kept saying that really smart people had put this together well I have watched how well really smart people have destroyed our country and our education system, where is the common sense? I do not have a college degree, but that does not make me stupid. We need to get back to the simplicity of things we all need to be able to understand what is going on not just the few who have made it so complicated that we need someone to interpret it all for us. This I know is by design how can the people hold them accountable to something we cannot even understand. No wonder we have lost so much freedom. We need to have the courage to say I DO NOT UNDERSTAND! We have become to worried that people will think we are stupid. The majority of us I would bet do not understand the laws that have been written, because we are not attorneys who understand all the verbiage, well the majority of us are not attorneys and America was not created for the freedom of a few and bondage of many. We are the majority and we need to demand laws we can look at and say yes I agree or no this is not a law that protects our freedom.

  • Bruce Ogden says:

    How to Cure the Common Core

    I Am a Stakeholder
    I am a father and grandfather and also a pediatrician. I have the natural right as a parent to raise my children, hopefully in a stable family. Unfortunately, the American family is under all‐out assault and getting weaker every day. Preserving the American family is the only way I know of to preserve America, its culture, values and its many other political, social and economic successes. Key to the survival of the American family, is to pass our vision of America, our culture, our faith, our honor, our shouldering of personal responsibility, and to pass on our most closely held values and morals from one generation to the next.

    What is Common Core’s Main Purpose?
    Common Core’s main purpose is to abort this generational passing down of America to our children. What better way to effect a “fundamental transformation” of our society than to interrupt the normal culture transfer between parents and children and replace it with a synthetic culture based on the philosophy of Karl Marx? Why are our beloved teachers and respected secular leaders trying to turn the hearts of the children against their parents?

    Increasing federal funding means increasing federal control.
    The root of Common Core lies in the increasing proportion of funding for our local schools coming from the federal government. Every federal dollar (via the Department of Education) comes with strings attached: the federal government has begun telling parents, local teachers, educators, and local political leaders what, when, where and how our children are to be taught. My children are my responsibility (and also that of my wife), and we will determine the content, form and setting of their education. Our children are not a possession of the “collective”, and the collective will not dictate how they will be educated.

    All Education Funding Comes From Parents’ Taxes.
    Let me clarify the funding issue, because the way it’s presented to us it appears that the federal government is doing us a favor by helping fund education, and it’s only fair that we make concessions to the feds since they’re footing the bill. However, the majority of education funding, whether purported to be from local, state or federal sources, comes originally from parents paying taxes.

    School Choice & Free Markets Can Cure the Common Core
    Parents used to pay for local schools and teachers either directly or through local taxes, and consequently parents closely directed the education of their children. If a teacher or school began teaching issues, philosophies or religious principles inconsistent with the desires of the parents, that teacher would be discharged (not possible today with protections from Big Labor Unions), the child would be sent to another school, or the child would be homeschooled. In this system, parents directed the funding, form and setting for their children’s education as they saw fit. Today, we call this archaic system School Choice.

    More Washington Funding Means More Washington Control,
    More recently, a combination of local and state funding of large school districts and the development of the federal Department of Education and their multi‐billion dollar ineffectual programs such as Head Start, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, eScope and Common Core took over funding education and
    have virtually excluded parents from determining anything about the education of their children. Where before, parents directly funded and made decisions about their children’s education, currently most of the funding is non‐local and decisions about the content and quality of educating our children are made by Washington political hacks, with the federal government taking an increasingly larger role in both the funding and the content of our children’s education.

    Parents Pay and Parents Have a Say
    But let’s be clear about the real funding of education‐‐parents continue to pay for ALL funding. Sending an increasing proportion of our tax dollars each year to the IRS, the federal government takes the majority of this money to pay for running government, hiring bureaucrats and paying for earmarks and other pork‐barrel projects. A small portion of parents’ tax payments gets directed back to the states and local governments for education. In return for this sleight of hand, the federal government, in concert with the Big Labor Teachers Unions, may or may not tell parents how and what our children will be taught (it’s really none of our business).

    Since parents are still paying for their childrens’ education , the federal government continues to get the credit for this (sometimes our Governors “sit up and beg” for more federal funding) and the feds have completely rolled over parents in locking in our children to public schools that preach and teach the new synthetic Marxist culture. Is there any way to turn this around?

    Plans:

    1. We must continue to fight the feds (i.e. Common Core) and any state people that are promoting the feds in controlling the education of our children.

    2. Abolish the federal Department of Education and all public employee unions, including teachers and educators unions.

    3. Reduce federal taxes so the feds can stop doing things they’re not permitted to do by the Constitution (like control education).

    4. Increase local taxes in proportion to the federal tax reduction, so the states can take over from the feds that which the feds are prohibited from doing (like funding education) and responsibility falls on the state or the people.

    5. Put parents back in charge of the content, form and setting of their childrens’ education. This should include School Choice to place their children in whatever education setting they wish (including homeschooling) and direct whatever they might pay in taxes for education toward the public schools, charter schools, parochial or private schools, or homeschooling as they wish. This is known as the free market, where schools compete for your business.

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