Is the USOE the most subversive Utah agency?

The reader of this site will recall earlier this year when we brought as much pressure as possible on legislators and state school board members to exit from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Utah had signed on as a governing member of this consortium which obligated us to use their tests and that was destructive of our state control of education. The State Board of Education had voted 4-10 against leaving the SBAC early in the year or late last year, but by summer we had got a commitment that the board would vote to leave the SBAC. In their August 2012 board meeting, the State Board voted 12-3 to exit. This article documented the vote and it made an important prediction which has come true.

The article said that someone within the USOE had passed information on to us that the Request for Proposal for state assessments was being specifically written by the USOE in such a way that they would have to choose a vendor that would use the SBAC’s assessments. When I published this charge, at least one state board member told me that was ridiculous.

This week the State Board appointed committee chose the “American Institutes for Research” as the assessment writer.

The USOE prepared a Powerpoint presentation (Link) on this selection and on slide 2 we see that AIR is the “Only organization currently delivering statewide, online adaptive tests approved for ESEA accountability.” The ESEA was our waiver application for No Child Left Behind. Really? AIR is the ONLY organization we can use? We’re already testing an adaptive assessment system. Why can’t we continue with that? Perhaps it’s because it’s not AIR.

Who is AIR you ask?

“AIR is partnering with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a state-led consortium committed to developing tests that use technology to better measure student knowledge and to make tests accessible to all. The Smarter Balanced tests will be delivered online and include innovative items and performance tasks that take advantage of the potential of technology.”

Ahhh, so AIR is partnered with the SBAC and they are the ONLY organization to meet the RFP requirements. What a shocker.

Their mission statement says, “AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged.” Who are these disadvantaged they refer to and why would they focus on behavioral improvements in people’s lives?

One of the worries we had in working with the SBAC was that the lead researcher was Linda Darling-Hammond who co-wrote the book “Learning to Teach for Social Justice.” The concern was that test questions themselves could contain indoctrinating questions. Since we’ve already seen the USOE creating group-think indoctrinating questions for use in textbooks in Utah, it’s clearly a valid concern that Linda Darling-Hammond’s goals of social justice in the classroom will be realized through test questions. If you’re not sure what these other questions could look like that would be indoctrinating, check out these examples.

A quick browse of AIR’s website shows they have sections on “LGBT  Youth,” “Inclusive Development,” “Commitments to the Clinton Global Initiative,” “Child Labor,” “Workforce Development,” “Health Care Delivery,” and “Behavior Change.” Several sections deal with mental health issues in youth and one includes the “Good Behavior Game.”

Why it is that Utah can’t find partners that match our values is beyond me. This left-wing, multiculturalism nonsense is why Utah can’t rise above the rest of the nation in academics. If we focused on educating our children in factual knowledge, we would soar above other Common Core states. It’s painfully obvious that the people in charge of education in this state are as extreme as they come in left-wing agendas and it’s time some of them were fired. Please contact your state legislators and send them this article and ask them strip the USOE of their funding and give it to local districts to control their own standards, assessments, and curriculum. It’s clear the fox is guarding the hen house in Utah education.

Wyoming proves the feds control education through Common Core

Wyoming hasn’t complied fast enough with Common Core requirements and are now facing  fines by the federal government. This is conclusive evidence that Common Core is not a “voluntary state-led effort” that we continue to hear from the state office of education, but an entanglement from the federal government.

It’s not too late for Utah to exit and do something superior to Common Core. Sandra Stotsky who helped set up Massachusetts’ top rated ELA standards has volunteered to write (for FREE) the very best standards in the nation for Utah, and we could easily return to our old A- rated math standards which were at least on par and in upper grades superior to Common Core’s math standards.

Proof that Common Core is Utah’s Road to Constructivism

We’ve previously published some of the nonsense that the USOE is pulling regarding teacher training and curriculum being produced and how heavily constructivist it is, but now here’s evidence they are actively conspiring to hide this from the public.

Internal emails that were received by GRAMA request show that Asst. Superintendent Brenda Hales had asked the people involved with the secondary math 1 book to rewrite the introduction, whitewashing it of typical constructivist terms like “inquiry.” Instead, “balanced” terminology appears verifying that this term is public code language for constructivism.

We’ve know this for years based on Alpine School District doing the same thing to lull parents to sleep over Investigations math, but now it’s internally verified. Bye, bye STEM programs. If you’re a university professor who is already crying over the poor skills freshmen enter your classes with, it’s heading downhill even faster. Read below the emails for the Mathematics Vision Project nonsense.


From the state website we find this gem of constructivist-based education.

Has your state, district or school chosen the Integrated or International pathway of courses?
The MVP classroom experience begins by confronting students with an engaging problem and then allows them to grapple with solving it.  As students’ ideas emerge, take form, and are shared, the teacher orchestrates the student discussions and explorations towards a focused mathematical goal.  As conjectures are made and explored, they evolve into mathematical concepts that the community of learners begins to embrace as effective strategies for analyzing and solving problems. These strategies eventually solidify into a body of practices that belong to the students because they were developed by the students as an outcome of their own creative and logical thinking.  This is how students learn mathematics.  They learn by doing mathematics.  They learn by needing mathematics.  They learn by verbalizing the way they see the mathematical ideas connect and by listening to how their peers perceived the problem.  Students then own the mathematics because it is a collective body of knowledge that they have developed over time through guided exploration. This process describes the Learning Cycle and it informs how teaching should be conducted within the classroom.

Constructivism is essentially socialist math and they’ve written their description perfectly illustrating this. How bad could this be? Remember this “engaging problem” in groupthink about the groundhog?

If BYU’s Math Education department can’t teach HONORS calculus students with this method, it is sheer madness to think schools across the state are going to improve math education with this program. This isn’t what put Massachusetts at the top of the country for math. Homeschooling is looking better and better.

Please email your State School Board member and ask them to stop this constructivist nightmare ( Then email your legislators ( and ask them to step in. It’s clear that the USOE isn’t concerned with what really works in the classroom and pushing this statewide is going to kill Utah’s math future.

Then talk with your local school board member and ask them to reject all materials coming from the USOE. There is no evidence that constructivism produces results.

GRAMA Request Filed on Superintendent Selection

On Monday, November 5th, the below GRAMA request was filed with the legal department of the Utah State Office of Education. The USOE just posted the audio of the interviews with the State Superintendent candidates. You can listen to all 3 by clicking these links.

Dr. Menlove

Dr. Hudnall

Dr. Sentance


USOE Records Officer
Utah State Office of Education
P.O. Box 144200
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-42200

5 November 2012

Dear USOE Records Officer,

Pursuant to Utah’s Government Records and Management Act, I am requesting the following records:

•    All email and all other correspondence to or from any member of the Utah State Board of Education, Superintendent Larry Shumway, Martel Menlove, and/or Judy Park regarding the selection/appointment of a new superintendent, the process and/or criteria for selecting or appointing a new superintendent, the reasons for selecting/appointing Martel Menlove, and/or the reasons for not selecting/appointing other people as superintendent, between the dates of June 1, 2012 and October 31, 2012.
•    All email and all other correspondence regarding Michael (Mike) Sentence, Greg Hudnall, or Martel Menlove, between the dates of June 1, 2012 and October 31, 2012.
•    All records relating to the criteria or process (either proposed, considered, or actually used) for selecting or appointing a superintendent to replace Superintendent Larry Shumway, the reasons for selecting/appointing Martel Menlove, and/or the reasons for not selecting/supporting other people as superintendent.

UCA  63G-2-203 (4) encourages agencies to fulfill a records request without charge. Based on UCA 63G-2-203 (4), I am requesting a waiver of copy costs because releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person.

I believe that the public has a right to examine all the correspondence between State Board members and USOE officials regarding the process of selection and anything that was not transparent to the public throughout that selection process.

The selection of a new superintendent, who oversees the education of Utah’s children and the expenditure of a large amount of public funds is of great interest to the public. Further, in observing the streamed meeting where interviews were conducted, it appears that the person selected was not the top candidate for the position. It is in the public interest to know the grounds upon which the selection was actually made in order to verify that the person was selected for reasons that the public would support.
I recognize that you will respond within 5 business days, however, I am requesting an expedited response as permitted by UCA 63G-2-204 (3)(b).


Oak Norton

Obama’s Career Tracking and Education Reforms: So Much More Than Common Core

Here’s the latest article by Christel Swasey copied from:

Obama’s Career Tracking and Education Reforms: So Much More Than Common Core

The more you study the plans and plots of Obama and of his Federal Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, the more you see the crushing trend.  They crush any individuality and local independence or control over education paths or career paths.  And the Constitution be damned.

Individuals’ desires or states’ desires are not to be taken into account.  The word “accountability” is used as a weapon of coercion.  And the desires of the Collective Government are assumed to best determine what a student studies and what he/she becomes.  “What benefits society?” they ask; they do not ask what benefits the child, or what do the parents want for the child?

The crushing and stifling effect comes from so much more than the Common Core Standards –or even than the Common national testing.  The federal government wants to determine how children will be placed into an almost unalterable path that determines that student’s future based on imposed plans squeezed out of standardized tests early on in life.  They call it Prosperity 2020 in Utah.  They call it Obama’s 2020 Educational Initiative in D.C. They call it Education For All, a part of Agenda 21, at the United Nations.  They all use nice-sounding words but they all slice away at local and individual rights and freedoms over what is to be learned and what is to be eliminated from the learning.

For example, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan makes references to “personalized learning” which sound good.  But what is it, really?  The removal of a student’s choices.  The personalization by the government of that individual’s life path.  It starts with “differentiated diplomas” which call students, to use politically insensitive words, “dumb” “mediocre” and “smart.”  These “differentiated diplomas” will prepare students for differentiated careers– all determined by standardized, high stakes tests and by people who are NOT the student himself/herself.  Nor the parents.  (All “for the good of the collective”.)  I’m not buying it.  Are you?

Career Academies and  “College and Career Readiness*” are the new buzzwords.   The concepts sound good on the surface– to help students get diagnosed with skills and trained for specific career skills as early as possible, to make a direct leap into a career.

But think: what if the student later hates that career and has traded his/her well-rounded, meaningful, whole education for a narrow skill set?  Then where is he/she going to be? Trained to be a plumber, but with desires to be a nurse?  Trained to be a rocket scientist, but with desires to cook?  Trained to pick up trash, but with desires to practice law?  It’s not good.

The educational trend seems to benefit “society” far more than it benefits the individual.  But that’s what socialists are all about.  Communists, too.  The individual never matters; his or her desires are not significant to The Collective.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explains it this way:

” My goal today is to share an outline of our plan to transform career and technical education, or CTE.  Then, with that as context, I’ll discuss our plans to implement the President’s proposed $1 billion investment in career academies…

…First, a career academy is a secondary school program that is organized as a small learning community or a school within a school to provide a supportive, personalized learning environment.

Second, the academy begins by the 9th grade. 

Third, the academy would need to provide a combined academic and technical curriculum that includes CTE courses for which students may receive academic credit. The academy’s curriculum would be organized around a career theme—like the themes identified by NAF: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Health Sciences, or Engineering—and aligned with the State’s college-and career-ready standards*.

Fourth, a career academy provides work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers. 

And, fifth and finally, the academy’s program articulates and reflects the entrance requirements of postsecondary education programs—to ensure that students graduate from high school ready to pursue a degree or credential. 

Now, I’m very interested to hear what you think about our career academies plan, the proposed academy definition, and the CTE Blueprint.”  Full speech here:

* By the way, Duncan’s allusion to “the State’s college-and-career-ready standards” does not mean what you think it means. It’s just common core.  “College and Career Readiness” is like a code term.


So, according to Duncan/Obama, being ready for college and career doesn’t mean being ready for college and career.  Too forthright.

The term means being yoked to a substandard set of educational standards that are the same, same, same and that are non-negotiable and that are NGA/CCSSO copyrighted, with a 15% federally mandated cap on top of that copyright.  (See the definition on the site here: