All posts by Christel Swasey

Common Core an assault on liberties

Ed: This op-ed by Christel Swasey was published in the Deseret News (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765632044/Common-Core-an-assault-on-liberties.html) on 6/13/13.

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Utah state GOP delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?

 

Source Documents for Common Core

Nobody has to choose between relying on the proponents of Common Core, or relying on the opponents of Common Core.

To find out what Common Core really is and does to education and to liberty, study for yourself.

These are just a starter batch. There are more!  Some of these are Utah-specific.  If you are in another state, do a related word search to easily find your own.

 

DOCUMENTS:

The Race to the Top Grant Application

The No Child Left Behind Waiver

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant

The lawsuit against the Department of Education

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education

The speeches of President Obama on education

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange,  the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.

The Common Core English and Math standards

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.

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Here are some explanations of each of the documents, and what you can learn from them.

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The Race to the Top Grant Application  – Utah got points for having a kid-tracking SLDS database system.  Utah got more points for having adopted Common Core.  This was how we got into it.  Despite not winning the grant money, we remained in these systems.

The No Child Left Behind Waiver  – This shows the 15% cap the federal government put on top of the copyrighted, unamendable Common Core standards.

The State Longitudinal Database System Grant  – This is a federally paid-for database that every state in the US now has.  It tracks students within the state.  Aggregated data ion students is sent from this system to the federal EdFacts Exchange.

The lawsuit against the Department of Education  – The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued the DOE for destroying the previously data-privacy protective federal FERPA. The lawsuit explains which terms were redefined, which agencies now have legal access to the private data of students, and much more.

The copyright on Common Core held by CCSSO/NGA  – The fact that there are “terms of use” and a copyright shows that we have no local control over the standards which are written behind closed doors in D.C.

The report entitled “For Each And Every Child” from the Equity and Excellence Commission – This report was commissioned by Obama.  It reveals that redistribution of wealth is the real reason that Obama wants a national education system.

The Cooperative Agreements between the Dept. of Education and the testing consortia – Even though Utah escaped the SBAC and is not bound by the Cooperative Agreement directly, Utah’s current testing group, A.I.R., works closely with SBAC.  This document shows how clearly the DOE has broken laws like the General Educational Provisions Act and the 10th Amendment.  It mandates the synchronizing of tests and the sharing of data to triangulate the SBAC, PARCC and DOE.

The speeches of Secretary Arne Duncan on education – He seems to believe Common Core was Obama’s idea from the start.

The speeches of President Obama on education – Obama’s goal is total control of everything– teachers, tests, money, and toddlers.

The speeches of the CEA of Pearson Ed, Sir Michael Barber – Barber wants every  school on the globe to have the exact same academic standards and to underpin every standard with environmental propaganda.  He also likes having global data on kids and stresses the term “sustainable reform” which is “irreversible reform”.

The speeches of the main funder of Common Core, Bill Gates – He’s funded Common Core almost completely on his own; he’s partnered with Pearson; he says “we won’t know it works until all the tests and curriculum aligns with the standards” so he’s writing curriculum for us all.

The speeches of David Coleman, a noneducator, the architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now promoted to College Board President –He mocks narrative writing, he’s diminished the percentage of classic literature that’s allowable in the standards, he’s not been elected, he’s never taught school, yet he’s almost singlehandedly destroyed the quality and liberty of an English teacher’s classroom. And as he’s now the College Board President, he’s aligning the SAT to his version of what Common standards should be.  This will hurt colleges.

The Dept. of Ed report: Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perserverance  – behavioral indicators of students are wanted by the federal government.  It’s all about control.

The federal websites such as the EdFacts Exchange, the Common Education Data Standards, the National Data Collection Model, and the Data Quality Campaign, sites because three of these four ask us to give personally identifiable information on students, from our state database.  -The first link shows what we already give to the federal government; the others show what the federal government is requesting that we share, which does include intimate, personally identifiable information.

The Common Core English and Math standards – These are the actual standards.

The full contract that Utah has signed with the American Institutes for Research (if you can get a copy from the USOE; it is not online yet). Here is AIR’s common core implementation document.  – This shows that AIR is not an academic testing group but a behavioral research institute.  Parents and teachers may not see the test questions.

Upon This Lack of Evidence We Base Our Children’s Futures

Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making.

This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence.

– Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University, NJ

In the Education Administration Journal, the  AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (Winter 2011 / Volume 7, No. 4) there’s an article by Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University that clearly explains the utter lack of empirical evidence for adopting Common Core.  The full article, “Common Core: An Example of Data-less Decision Making,” is available online, and  following are some highlights:

Although a majority of U.S. states and territories have “made the CCSS the legal law of their land in terms of the mathematics and language arts curricula,” and although “over 170 organizations, education-related and corporations alike, have pledged their support,” still “the evidence presented by its developers, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), seems lacking,” and research on the topic suggests “the CCSS and those who support them are misguided,” writes Dr. Tienken.

Why?

“The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children,” he writes.

Tienken and  many other academics have said that Common Core adoption begs this question: “Surely there must be quality data available publically to support the use of the CCSS to transform, standardize, centralize and essentially de-localize America‘s public education system,” and surely there must be more compelling and methodologically strong evidence available not yet shared with the general public or education researchers to support the standardization of one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world. Or, maybe there is not?”

Tienken calls incorrect the notion that American education is lagging behind international competitors and does not believe the myth that academic tests can predict future economic competitiveness.

Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons.”

He observes: “Tax, trade, health, labor, finance, monetary, housing, and natural resource policies, to name a few, drive our economy, not how students rank on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)” or other tests.

Most interestingly, Tienken observes that the U.S. has had a highly  internationally competitive system up until now.  “The U.S. already has one of the highest percentages of people with high school diplomas and college degrees compared to any other country and we had the greatest number of 15 year-old students in the world score at the highest levels on the 2006 PISA science test (OECD, 2008; OECD, 2009; United Nations, 2010). We produce more researchers and scientists and qualified engineers than our economy can employ, have even more in the pipeline, and we are one of the most economically competitive nations on the globe (Gereffi & Wadhwa, 2005; Lowell, et al., 2009; Council on Competitiveness, 2007; World Economic Forum, 2010).

Tienken calls Common Core “a decision in search of data” ultimately amounting to “nothing more than snake oil.”  He is correct.  The burden of proof is on the proponents to show that this system is a good one.

He writes: “Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data…  Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Many of America‘s education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.

This seems like the ultimate in anti-intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy.”

Further, Dr. Tienken reasons:

“Where is the evidence that national curriculum standards will cause American students to score at the top of international tests or make them more competitive? Some point to the fact that many of the countries that outrank the U.S. have national, standardized curricula. My reply is there are also nations like Canada, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland that have very strong economies, rank higher than the U.S. on international tests of mathematics and science consistently, and do not have a mandated, standardized set of national curriculum standards.”

Lastly, Dr. Tienken asks us to look at countries who have nationalized and standardized education, such as China and Singapore:  “China, another behemoth of centralization, is trying desperately to crawl out from under the rock of standardization in terms of curriculum and testing (Zhao, 2009) and the effects of those practices on its workforce. Chinese officials recognize the negative impacts a standardized education system has had on intellectual creativity. Less than 10% of Chinese workers are able to function in multi-national corporations (Zhao, 2009).

I do not know of many Chinese winners of Nobel Prizes in the sciences or in other the intellectual fields. China does not hold many scientific patents and the patents they do hold are of dubious quality (Cyranoski, 2010).

The same holds true for Singapore. Authorities there have tried several times to move the system away from standardization toward creativity. Standardization and testing are so entrenched in Singapore that every attempt to diversify the system has failed, leaving Singapore a country that has high test scores but no creativity. The problem is so widespread that Singapore must import creative talent from other countries”.

According to Dr. Tienken, Common Core is a case of oversimplification.  It is naive to believe that all children would benefit from mastering the same set of skills, or that it would benefit the country in the long run, to mandate sameness.  He observes that Common Core is “an Orwellian policy position that lacks a basic understanding of diversity and developmental psychology. It is a position that eschews science and at its core, believes it is appropriate to force children to fit the system instead of the system adjusting to the needs of the child.”

Oh, how we agree!

Since when do we trust bureaucracies more than we trust individuals to make correct decisions inside a classroom or a school district?  Since when do we agree force children to fit a predetermined system, instead of having a locally controlled, flexible system that can adjust to the needs of a child?

What madness (or money?) has persuaded even our most American-as-apple-pie organizations — even the national PTA, the U.S. Army, the SAT, most textbook companies and many governors– to advocate for Common Core, when there never was a real shred of valid evidence upon which to base this country-changing decision?

U.S.O.E. Informational Meetings on Common Core Tests: Clueless on the Big Issues

Did you watch the Deseret News live feed of the Davis District meeting tonight?

I had an “A-ha!” moment, as I again watched Judy Park of the Utah State Office of Education present information about the Common Core tests.

I realized that Judy Park just does not know the answers to the big, big questions that are being asked.  She isn’t actually being dishonest; she is simply clueless.  It’s tragic.  I feel almost sorry for her.

What makes me say this?

One example:  When parents asked about the data collection issue she seemed to be blissfully unaware that the Utah State Longitudinal Database System collects personally identifiable information on every student –without parental consent and without any opt-out alternative.

“There’s federal laws. There’s all the protection in the world,” she said, and added a little simile:

As banks can’t give away your money, databases can’t give away your personally identifiable information, she said.

Really?

– Does she not know that there’s a huge lawsuit going on right now because the Department of Education has loosened and ruined privacy regulations so entirely that parental consent has been reduced from a legal requirement to an optional ”best practice”??

– Does she not know that the State Longitudinal Database System is federally interoperable, and that that was one of the conditions of Utah receiving the grant money to build the SLDS in the first place?

– Does she not know that the SLDS is under a (totally unconstitutional) mandate to report to the federal government via the “portal” called the EdFacts Exchange?

– Has she not seen the hundreds of data points that the federal government is “inviting” states to collect and share on students at the National Data Collection Model?

– Has she never studied the Utah Data Alliance and the Data Quality Campaign?

– Is she unaware that the Federal Register (following the shady alterations by the Dept. of Ed to federal FERPA privacy regulations) now redefines key terms such as who is an authorized representative and what is an educational agency, so that without parental consent and without school consent, vendors and corporate researchers can access data collected by the SLDS (State Database)?

– Does she not know that state FERPA is protective and good, but federal FERPA is utterly worthless because of what the Dept. of Education has done?

Ms. Park said:

“FERPA [federal privacy law] doesn’t allow that,”   and:   “I don’t believe that,” and “Personally identifiable information is not even in our state database.”

Dear Ms. Park!   I wish I could believe you.

But last summer, at the Utah Senate Education Committee Meeting, we all heard (and Ms. Park was in the room) when Utah Technology Director John Brandt stood up and testified that “only” a handful of people from each of the agencies comprising the Utah Data Alliance (K-12, Postsecondary, Workforce, etc.) can access the personally identifiable information that the schools collect.  He said it to reassure us that barring dishonesty or hacking, the personally identifiable information was safe.  But he simultaneously revealed that the schools were indeed collecting that personal information.

Sigh.

Why don’t our leaders study this stuff?  Why, why?

Even Ms. Park’s secondary title, which is something about “federal accountability” is disturbing.  It’s an illegal concept to be federally accountable in the realm of state education.  Has nobody read the 10th Amendment to the Constitution at the State Office of Education?  Has no one read the federal law called the General Educational Provisions Act, which forbids —FORBIDS— the federal government from supervising, directing or controlling education or curriculum in ANY WAY.

I am not the only one flabbergasted at what I saw and heard on that live feed of the Davis District meeting today.

 

This portion is posted with permission from clinical psychologist Gary Thompson.

Gary Thompson:

I’m mortified at USOE.

I’m half tempted to shoot off (another) letter to the State Superintendent of Schools demanding that they stop all future “informational”meetings until they themselves either know the correct answers, or can be honest and simply state, “we are investigating these issues currently, and we will get back to you when we know the answers.”

Anything other than that is pure deception, and if they (Judy Park, etc) are deceiving tax paying parents, then they should be asked to resign from their positions of trust. If I hear one more meeting filled with deception and plausible deniability, I may take it upon myself to publicly ask for those resignations myself in a very public manner that will make the my Glenn Beck appearance look like minor league.

It is just common respect. THEY asked for my letter of assistance and clarification. Attorney Flint and myself spent an entire weekend drafting it for them and the parents in our community.

Their response over a week later?

Crickets.

Not even a thank you note…and then they have the gall to present a LIVE feed to the entire State filled with definitive answers to parents questions that not only could they not answer during our 2 hour in person meeting, but asked for our assistance to clarify the issues they did not understand.

How hard would it had been to simply say, “We do not know.” ???
Ms. Parks response to questions regarding adaptive testing to children with learning “quirks” (our new name for disabilities) was so devious and deceptive that I had to turn it off.

Alisa Olsen Ellis, don’t you ever stop this fight as long as you have life in you.

God bless you.

-Gary Thompson

It’s Happened: The Marriage of Pearson and Gates

Pearson and Gates have joined forces. 

Why is a Pearson and Gates combination a nightmare for America, for anyone who cares about competitive free enterprise, constitutional rights regarding education, and local control?

First, a few facts:
1. Pearson, led by Sir Michael Barber, is the biggest education product sales company on earth.
2. Bill Gates is the second richest man on earth, a man who has almost single-handedly funded and marketed the entire Common Core movement.

Gates previously partnered with UNESCO to bring a master curriculum worldwide in his “Education For All” program.  Gates openly values extreme socialism and says that it’s much better than American constitutional government. Listen to Gates at minute 6:20 on this clip. Gates says, “We’ll only know this works when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.”

Pearson’s CEA is Sir Michael Barber, a man whose company colludes with governments worldwide in public-private-partnerships (soft fascism) and believes that children’s data should be gathered on a global scale. Barber pushes his version of “sustainable educational revolution,” worldwide, explaining that sustainable education reforms meanit can never go back to how it was.”  See his speeches on YouTube and his Twitter feeds.

These two mega forces for globalizing and standardizing education have now come together.

In a New York Times article on the partnership, Susan Neuman, a former Education Department official in the George W. Bush administration who is now a professor at the University of Michigan, was quoted:

This is something that’s been missing in all the policy statements on the common core: a sequential curriculum,” Dr. Neuman said. But she worries that Pearson has few rivals.

Pearson already dominates, and this could take it to the extreme,” she said. “This could be problematic for many of our kids. We could get a one size fits all.”

Indeed.

So when my state school board says that Common Core is just a set of minimum standards, not a curriculum, I will point them to this:  the biggest monopolizer of textbooks, technologies and teacher training–Pearson– has now partnered with one of the wealthiest foundations on earth to create a one size fits all curriculum.

Where will private schools and others go to buy books, who don’t want Common Core-aligned curriculum?  How will others stay in business with such huge competition?

Parents Demand Real Answers at Alpine District Meeting on Common Core A.I.R. Tests

Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  I went with Alisa, Renee, my sister and others whose district is Alpine.  I wanted to compare the attitudes of parents and teachers in Alpine to Wasatch District, where the same meeting was held last Monday.

Alpine’s meeting was so different.

The room was packed, with extra chairs being brought in and still, standing room only.  I have no idea if the majority of people were teachers, principals, or parents, but obviously, many people were concerned and many more came than had been anticipated by the district.

John Jesse had apparently predetermined that no questions would be taken until after the hour-long presentation.  When a parent raised her hand to ask a question, Mr. Jesse said that he would not answer the question until later.

The parent said that it was necessary to answer it now to understand, and other parents shouted out, “Just answer her question,” but Mr. Jesse would not.  The shouts of support continued to the point that Mr. Jesse appeared truly unreasonable, yet he would not budge.

Mr. Jesse lost the respect and confidence of his audience by refusing to answer questions as they came up.

Audience members (parents? teachers? administrators?)  decided to write their questions on the large white board wall on the side of the meeting room.  It was flooded with questions quickly. I wish I would have written them all down to share with you here.

When an audience member asked how long, after a test, parents would be able to see the test items (a week? a month? longer?) Mr. Jesse said that in order to be able to release the tests to the public each year (like ACT, SAT, etc, do), they would need to have a new set of tests created each year.

He said that one set of adaptive test items costs Utah taxpayers $32M. In his words, “It’s so expensive to build these tests, it’s just not possible to make these test items available to parents.”  (Money trumps legal, moral parental rights?!)

One parent asked why we are spending so much money on these tests rather than using the money to reduce class size.

Other parents brought up the illegality of not allowing parents to view test questions (referring to the rule that only 15 parents, appointed by the state, would have that privilege.)  One parent showed Mr. Jesse a copy of the bill that states that the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests must collect ”behavioral indicators” along with academic indicators.

She also had a copy of the state FERPA (Privacy law) and read portions aloud to Mr. Jesse, showing the violations of Common Core test and data collection.

Alisa and I had to leave early because we were on our way to make a presentation about the Common Core agenda to a group in Murray.  I quickly wrote my billion dollar question on a note and asked my sister if she would ask it.  (Even though I had been standing up, waving my arm back and forth, Mr. Jesse had not called on me during the Q and A.) I had to leave, I thought, without asking my question.

The exit door was next to the presenter.  I decided to ask my question on my way out. So I turned to the audience, the presenter and superintendent. To the best of my recollection (a videotaper –I hope– will post the video of the event soon) this is what I said:

“In medicine, the motto is FIRST DO NOT HARM. The same applies to education. We are here discussing the wonderful technology of the Common Core tests, but the standards on which they are built have not been vetted and there’s not a shred of evidence shown, ever, to prove to us that these standards are not doing harm and that the claims being made about them, claims being replicated across all district websites, are true.  There is no evidence. I am a credentialed Utah teacher and testify to you that the Common Core is a detriment to our students.  I don’t hold Mr. Jesse or Mr. Menlove personally accountable or blame them, but I say to all of us, as a state, we MUST get OUT of Common Core.”

It seemed as if the entire room jumped to its feet and started cheering and applauding. I felt like Pedro after Napoleon Dynamite finishes the dance. The audience was cheering enthusiastically on and on, and I didn’t know what to do.  (Do I take a bow? Do I run out the door?)  I stood and blinked at all the people in shock and joy.

I share this because I want to offer hope to the parents, teachers, school board members and administrators who have yet to attend these A.I.R. trainings.  Parents don’t want Common Core for the kids once they find out what the whole agenda is about.  Parents are standing up. They are speaking out. They are demanding to see evidence of claims.  They don’t want their kids being used as guinea pigs and they don’t like the lack of parental control and stifled teacher voices.

I heard that after I left the meeting, parents passed around a signup list to have a rally at the State Capitol.  But I also heard, sadly, that after I left the meeting, some parents became overly hostile and that Mr. Jesse was hostile as well.

I was not there then; this is hearsay, but I do hope that all those who stand for educational freedom do so with dignity and respect.  We do not wish to humiliate our leaders.  We just want them to do the right thing and study this fully and act then act on the knowledge that we are, in fact, being acted upon by an increasingly oppressive Executive Branch at the federal level.  This is harming quality, legitimate education.  It is harming data privacy rights.  It is removing local control.  We need our leaders to act.  But we do not want to be unkind.

I heard that at the Cedar meeting earlier yesterday, the USOE separated the teachers and the parents because they didn’t want teachers hearing the parental controversy.  This is wrong.  Do not put up with that.  These controversies affect us all.  We are in this together.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the state meetings.  Please share with friends.  Show up and make sure your voice is heard.  These are your children. This is your tax money.  These are your rights.  I think Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents and administrators can agree that we want no part of education without representation, and no part of education standards and tests that lack references, pilot testing or legitimate vetting.

IF YOUR DISTRICT IS NOT LISTED, CALL THE UTAH STATE OFFICE OF EDUCATION AND ASK FOR A MEETING ABOUT THE COMMON CORE TESTS.

See NEW Calendar Page

Jordan District4–6 pm Elk Ridge Middle School / Auditorium3659 W 9800 S, South Jordan Wednesday March 20

Granite District4–6 pm District Office / Auditorium A2500 S State Street, Salt Lake City Thursday March 21

Salt Lake District4–6 pm District Office/ Room 116440 E 100 S, Salt Lake City Monday March 25

Washington District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room121 W Tabernacle St., St. George Thursday March 28

Tooele District4–6 pm Stansbury High School / Auditorium 5300 N Aberdeen Lane, Stansbury Park Tuesday April 2

Park City District4–6 pm Ecker Hill Middle School2465 W Kilby Rd, Park City Wednesday April 3

Grand District4–6 pm Grand County High School / Auditorium608 S 400 E, Moab Thursday April 4

San Juan District4–6 pm San Juan High School / Arena Theater311 N 100 E, Blanding Monday April 8

Wasatch District4–6 pm District Office101 E 200 N, Heber Tuesday April 9

Iron District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room2077 W Royal Hunte Dr., Cedar City Tuesday April 9

Carbon District4–6 pm District Office/ Training Room 1251 W 400 N, Price Wednesday April 10

Sevier District4–6 pm District Office/ Training Room180 W 600 N, Richfield Thursday April 11

Box Elder District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room960 S Main, Brigham City Thursday April 11

Alpine District4–6 pm District Office575 N 100 E, American Fork Thursday April 11

Weber District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room5320 Adams Ave. Parkway, Ogden Tuesday April 16

Logan District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room101 West Center, Logan /Tuesday April 16

Juab District4–6 pm Juab High School / Little Theater802 N 650 E, Nephi Wednesday April 17

Nebo District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room350 S Main, Spanish Fork Thursday April 18

Davis 4–6 pm District Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor)70 E 100 N, Farmington Tuesday April 23

Uintah District 4–6 pm Maeser Training Center1149 N 2500 W, Vernal Thursday April 25

Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core

Reprinted from http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/hogwash-alert-national-review-on-common-core/

I’m calling for a hogwash alert on today’s National Review article about Common Core.

The ironically titled  The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously.  It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core.

Can anyone take seriously those who praise Common Core while being paid to do so?

The article makes “truth” claims that include the notion that Common Core is “more rigorous,” (where’s the proof?) and that the standards allow policymaking to happen locally.  How can that be? The standards are written behind closed doors in D.C.  The standards are  copyrighted and are unamendable by locals.  There is a 15% cap on adding to them, written into the ESEA  Flexibility Waiver Request.  And there is no amendment process; thus, no local control.

For anyone who has been living under an education reform rock, know this:   Gates is the single biggest promoter and funder of Common Core, bar none.) So, Fordham’s and Manhattan Institute’s writers should not be expected to be objective about Common Core.

If it seems like practically everyone supports Common Core, Gates’ money is why. Bill Gates has said he’s spent $5 BILLION  pushing (his version of) education reform.  He’s bribed the national PTA to advocate for Common Core to parents; he’s paid the CCSSO to develop Common Core; and he owns opinion maker Education Week magazine.  There’s a near-endless list of Gates’ attempts   (very successful, I might add)  to foist his vision of education without voter input.  In 2004, Gates signeda 26 page agreement with UNESCO  to develop a master curriculum for global teacher training.  Robert Muller, the former assistant secretary general of the U.N. is the grandfather of the world core curriculum, the goal being to bring all schools in all nations under one common core curriculum.

The National Review writes that it is a ”right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass.   This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty  of the American Principles Project, has said,  ”Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum.  It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation.  That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards.  A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust).

Republican Jeb Bush is behind the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nongovernmental group which pushes Common Core and is, of course, funded by Gates.   Republican Rupert Murdoch owns not only Fox News, but also the common core implementation company Wireless Generation that’s creating common core testing technology.   Democrat Bob Corcoran, President of GE Foundation (author of cap and trade and carbon footprint taxes to profit GE on green tech) and 49% owner of NBC also bribed the PTA to promote Common Core, and gave an additional $18 million to the states to push common core implementation. Corcoran was seen recently hobnobbing with Utah’s Republican Lt. Governor Greg Bell, business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce, and has testified in the education committee that the opponents of Common Core in Utah “are liars”.  Meanwhile, Republican Todd Huston of Indiana got his largest campaign donation from David Coleman, common core ELA architect;  then, after Huston was elected as an Indiana State Representative and placed on Indiana’s education committee, Coleman hired Huston to be on the College Board.  They are both profiting from the alignment of  and AP courses and alignment of the SAT to the Common Core.  And of course, Huston’s listed on Jeb Bush’s controversial Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even my own Republican Governor Herbert of Utah serves on the elite executive committee of NGA, the Common Core founding group.  He doesn’t make money this way, but he does make lots of corporations happy.

I could go on and on about the Common Core gold-and-glory rush.  I have barely touched the countless Democrats who promote Common Core for gain.  But I don’t want to be up all night.

So, on to the liberals and/or not-right wing radicals who oppose Common Core:

California Democrat/author Rosa Koire  and respected educator like Diane Ravitch  oppose Common Core as an untested academic and political experiment that increases the high-stakes of standardized testing.  They see that Common Core is promoting unrepresentative formations of public-private-partnerships, and promotes teacher-micromanagement.   Chicago history teacher Paul Horton says Common Core turns teacher-artisans into teacher-widgets; he also sees it as a Pearson anti-trust issue.  Teacher Kris Nielsen has written  “Children of the Core” and  teacher Paul Bogush  calls teaching Common Core sleeping with the enemy.  Math teacher Stephanie Sawyer  predicts that with Common Core, there will be an increase in remedial math instruction and an increase in the clientele of tutoring centers.  Writing teacher Laura Gibbs calls the writing standards an inspid brew of gobbledygook.  Anonymously, many teachers have published other concerns in a survey produced by Utahns Against Common Core.

Still, political funders of the standards and corporations selling its implementation try to get away with marginalizing the opposition.  But it can’t be done honestly.  Because it’s not a fight between left and right.

This battle is between the collusion of corporate greed and political muscle versus the  individual voter.

It’s a battle between the individual student, teacher, or parent– versus huge public/private partnerships.  That’s the David and Goliath here.

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children.  It’s about greed and political control.   A simple test:  if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?

Did the authors of the Hogwash article really not know that Common Core wasn’t based on anything like empirical data but simply fluffed up on empty promises and rhetoric, from the beginning.

Where’s the basis for what proponents call  ”rigorous,” ”internationally competitive,”  and “research-based?”  Why won’t the proponents point to proof of “increased rigor” the way the opponents point to proof of increased dumbing downWe know they are fibbing because we know there is no empirical evidence for imposing this experiment on students  in America.  The emperor of Common Core  is wearing no clothes.

Many educators are crying out –even  testifying to legislatures– that Common Core is an academic disaster.  I’m thinking of  Professors Christopher Tienken, Sandra StotskyThomas Newkirk, Ze’ev Wurman, James Milgram, William Mathis, Susan Ohanian, Charlotte Iserbyt, Alan Manning, and others.

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration.  But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create.

First, let’s look at the Common Core textbooks.  Virtually every textbook company in America is aligning now with Common Core.  (So even the states who rejected Common Core, and even private schools and home schools are in trouble; how will they find new textbooks that reflect Massachusetts-high standards?)

Pearson’s latest textbooks show extreme environmentalism and a global citizen creating agenda that marginalizes national constitutions and individual rights in favor of global collectivism. The biggest education sales company of all the Common Core textbook and technology sales monsters on the planet is Pearson, which is led by  mad ”Deliverology” globalist  Sir Michael Barber.   Watch his speeches.

He doesn’t just lead Pearson, the company that is so huge it’s becoming an anti-trust issue.  Sir Michael Barber also speaks glowingly of public private partnerships, of political “revolution,” ”global citizenship” and a need for having global data collection and one set of educational standards for the entire planet.  He’s a political machine.  Under his global common core, diversity, freedom and local control of education need not apply.

Along with some of the gold-rushing colluders chasing Common Core-alignment  product sales, there are political individuals calling educational shots, and these are without exception on the far, far left.  And of these, the National Review is correct in saying that their goal to nationalize U.S. education has been happening   since long before Obama came to power.

But they are wrong in saying that Common Core isn’t a road map to indoctrinating students into far left philosophy.  Power players like Linda Darling-Hammond and Congressman Chaka Fattah  ram socialism and redistribution down America’s throat in education policy, while Pearson pushes it in the curriculum.

It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy.  She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools.  Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written.  She served on the standards validation committee.  She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration;  she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Study her further here to learn the groups she works for, what’s in the books she writes, how many times she quoted herself in her report for the U.S. equity commission, and what she said in last summer’s speech to UNESCO about the need to take swimming pools  away from students.

So yes, there is an undeniable socialism push in Common Core textbooks and in the Department of Education.

Next.

The National Review’s authors claim Common Core won’t “eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.”  By cutting classic literature by 70% for high school seniors, they are absolutely doing exactly that.  The article says that Common Core doesn’t mandate the slashing of literature.  Maybe not.  But the tests sure will.

What teacher, constricted by the knowledge that her job is on the line, will risk lowering the high stakes student scores by teaching beyond what is recommended in the model curriculum  of the national test writers?

And that’s the tragic part for me as an English teacher.

Classic literature is sacred.  Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.

Common Core doesn’t mandate which books to cut; the National Review is correct on that point; but it does pressure English teachers to cut out large selections of great literature, somewhere.  And not just a little bit.  Tons.

Informational text belongs in other classes, not in English.  To read boring, non-literary articles even if they are not all required to be Executive Orders, insulation manuals, or environmental studies (as the major portion of the English language curriculum) is to kill the love of reading.

What will the slashing do to the students’ appreciation for the beauty of the language, to the acquisition of rich vocabulary, to the appreciation for the battle between good and evil?

We become compassionate humans by receiving and passing on classic stories.  Souls are enlarged by exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, the poetic language and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that live in classic literature.

Classic stories create a love for books that cannot be acquired in any other way.  Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dostoevsky, Rand, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings?  Which ones will English teachers cut away first to make room for informational text?

The sly and subtle change will have the same effect on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of  a certain percentage of all classic literature.

How does it differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?

Cutting out basic math skills, such as being able to convert fractions to decimals, is criminal.  Proponents call this learning “fewer but deeper” concepts.  I call it a sin. Common Core also delays the age  at which students should be able to work with certain algorithms, putting students years behind our mathematical competitors in Asia.

For specific curricular reviews of Common Core standards, read Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman’s math and literature reviews in the appendix  of the white paper by Pioneer Institute. (See exhibit A and exhibit B, page 24.)

Next.

The National Review claims that the standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness” and claim they are not a ceiling but a floor.  This is a lie. The standards are bound by a 15% rule; there’s no adding to them beyond 15%.  That’s not a ceiling?

The article claims that ”college and career readiness” doesn’t necessarily mean Common Core.  Well, it does, actually.  The phrase has been defined on the ed. gov website as meaning sameness of standards to a significant number of states.  I would give you a link but this week, so oddly, the Department of Education has removed most of its previous pages.  You can see it reposted here:

The article insists that Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards.  Sure.  But as previously noted: 1) all the big textbook companies have aligned to Common Core.  Where are the options?   2) Common core tests and the new accountability measures put on teachers who will lose their jobs if students don’t score well on Common Core tests will ensure that teachers will only teach Common Core standards.  3) Test writers are making model curriculum and it’s going to be for sale, for sure.

The article falsely claims that “curriculum experts began to devise” the standards.  Not so: the architect of Common Core ELA standards (and current College Board president) is not, nor ever has been, an educator.  In fact, that architect made the list of Top Ten Scariest People in Education Reform.   A top curriculum professor has pointed out that the developers of Common Core never consulted with top curricular universities at all.

The article claims that states who have adopted Common Core could opt out, “and they shouldn’t lose a dime if they do” –but Title I monies have been threatened, and the No Child Left Behind waiver is temporary on conditions of following Common Core, and for those states who did get Race to the Top money (not my state, thank goodness) the money would have to be returned.  Additionally, every state got ARRA stimulus money to build a federally interoperable State Longitudinal Database System.  Do we want to give back millions and millions to ensure that we aren’t part of the de facto national database of children’s longitudinal school-collected, personally identifiable information?

The article states that the goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge.  So then why not read more –not less– actual literature?

The article also leaves out any analysis of the illegality of Common Core. The arrangement appears to be  illegal. Under the Constitution and under the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) the federal government is restricted from even supervising education.

GEPA states: “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…”

And for those still believing the federal government isn’t “exercising direction, supervision or control” of the school system, look at two things.

1.  The federal technical review of tests being mandated by the Department of Education.

2.  The federal mandate that testing consoria must synchronize “across consortia,” that status updates and phone conferences must be made  available to the Dept. of Education regularly, and that data collected must be shared with the federal government “on an ongoing basis”

3.  The recent federal alteration of privacy laws that have taken away parental consent over student data collection.

Finally:  the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?”  Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal…  Aren’t we still?

Truth in American Education vs. “A Complete Resource Guide for Utah’s Core Standards”

Below is a post from Christel Swasey’s blog concerning a massive document the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) put out trying to set the record straight on Common Core. Unfortunately for them, truth is not on their side.

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By Christel Swasey

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/debunking-misconceptions-the-common-core-is-state-led/

Of all the things that the Truth in American Education site has posted, my favorite thing is that title.

Truth in American Education.  The title itself teaches a fact most Americans still don’t realize: that there are loads of lies parading as education reform improvements that need exposure via verifiable, well researched facts.  It does not matter if good people with good intentions, merely parroting information received from other organizations, tell those lies in all sincerity.  Sincerity does not trump truth.  Facts are still facts and the consequences for all of us are huge for aligning our school systems with such lies.

Our children’s futures are at stake, yet few parents stand up.  Why?  For those of us who are naturally non-confrontational and trusting, the title, Truth in American Education, is a wake-up call that we should ask questions, verify claims and demand references for promises being spoken by authority figures in education reform today.  We should know our educational rights under the Constitution and know our rights as parents.

Don’t take unreferenced promises as answers.

Speaking of which: today I became aware of a 204-page document put out by the Utah State Office of Misinformation Education.

It’s called “A Complete Resource Guide  On Utah’s Core Standards.”

You can access the 204-pager here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B745qngYVLvVWXRFeU9MRUIzRTQ/edit?usp=sharing

Rather than waste my afternoon composing yet another rebuttal to the Utah State Office of Education, I will just quote Professor Sandra Stotsky of Arkansas, who has read the 204-page Utah document.

Stotsky served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and was among those who refused to sign off that the Common Core standards were, in fact, adequate.

Of “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards,” Stotsky states, “lies and unsupported claims” abound in the document.

She also writes:

“the writers didn’t even get the committee I was on right.  I was appointed to the Validation Committee, not the Standards Development Committee, and along with the one mathematician on the Validation Committee (and 3 others) declined to sign off on the final version of Common Core’s standards.

The writers keep repeating ad nauseam that Common Core was a state-led effort.  Everyone knows most of the effort was financed by the Gates Foundation and that Gates chose the standards writers who had no qualifications for writing K-12 standards in either ELA or math (David Coleman and Jason Zimba).

… I frankly can’t spend time on people who can’t document with citations their claims.   What country was used for international benchmarking?  Where’s the evidence?
The document simply repeats the false claims made by CCSSO from the beginning.”

What more can I possibly add?

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That is the end of Christel’s article, but I (Oak Norton) want to add one thing about the math write-up this document from the USOE contains.

Whoever wrote the first few pages in the introduction that deals with the history in 2007 of revising the Utah math standards is ill informed and misrepresents several key points. I was heavily involved in this process to get new math standards for Utah and there were people in the USOE who actually worked to torpedo the process. There was supposed to be a comparison of the standards to Singapore and Japan. That never happened and was admitted to.

The USOE document above says that Drs. Milgram and Wu were dissatisfied with the 2007 standards but the Fordham Foundation gave them an A- rating, trying to show Milgram and Wu as out of touch. This is patently false, but this lie gets repeated down through the timeline of events presented by the USOE. Milgram and Wu were pleased with the FINAL product, but what happened prior to finalizing was a stunning indictment of the USOE’s personnel working against the math standards, and what upset these two distinguished standards writers. After Wu made a final review of the standards, he gave dozens of revisions to the USOE. They made NONE of his changes to the standards. When he found out, he was stunned.

Here’s a write-up I did in September 2007 which includes the email from Dr. Wu to Nicole Paulson chastising her for ignoring his revisions.

http://www.oaknorton.com/mathupdates/20070926.cfm

Then read these articles, particularly the first one which has other links to my website for what happened then and what the USOE is doing now to destroy quality math education in Utah.

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/a-recent-history-of-utahs-math-standards/

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/usoe-common-core-death-of-math/

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/reigniting-the-math-wars-over-the-death-of-calculus/

It is clear that whoever prepared this 204 page piece of propaganda isn’t concerned with the truth. They are looking for a big document they can throw at legislators to convince them under the “official seal” that their side of the story is right without them having the time and resources to look up everything in the document. Unfortunately, those who are convinced by this documentation are accepting a house of cards.

 

Stop Common Core Presentation by Christel Swasey

Stop Common Core

Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013

A few months ago a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others.  The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side.  The heated 1700’s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.

In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free.  But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.

There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now.  Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation?  Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms.  Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.

It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people.  The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.  But this is changing dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core.  These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts.  Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.

Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided.  Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students. Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

The standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.

The Common Core is an  untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.  The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children.  The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.

HISTORY:

The Constitution and 10th amendment  have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education.  Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic.  Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments.  This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.

Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities.  Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.

In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “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 Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise.  Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.

The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.  He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue.  Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.

The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic  groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.

We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education.  States did not come together to write and share great ideas.  (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had Massachusetts.)

The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009.  It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states.  The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”.  There were 500 points possible.  Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points.  Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.

Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.

States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible.  By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points.  By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points.  Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait.  Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.

We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.

Gulliver’s First String:  No cost analysis

One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date.  It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.

While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.

If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.

But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children.  One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.

Gulliver’s Second String:  The myth:  that Common Core solves educational problems

The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core.  Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.  Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.

Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports.  Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.

I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so.  Why?

The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.

There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board.  The first question on it is:  Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.

The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.  We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann.  The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.

The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s.  This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them.  Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.

Gulliver’s Third String:   One Size Forever, For All

The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.

Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t  fit our needs.  There is no amendment process.

Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency.  Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.

I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards.  She told me, Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.” Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.

There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education.  We may delete nothing.  We may add no more than 15% to any standard.

So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck.  When we run into another  disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon.  But it gets worse:

Gulliver’s Fourth String:  Problems with national testing

The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing.  It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.

There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.”  Why?  Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.

Why is this bad?  What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO.  It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.

Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states.  This is misleading.

Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested?  The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests.  Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO  will be releasing social studies and science standards.  One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum.  And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.

Gulliver’s Fifth String:  Common Core English:   David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation

The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like,  was wrought almost single-handedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.

Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board.  He is aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards.  He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.

It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.

Does this differ from actual book burning?

It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning.  Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile?  Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom?  And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics?  Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423.  Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank.  And more.  (See:  http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )

David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:

As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”

If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.

This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:

  • No more cursive.
  • Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
  • Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.

Gulliver’s Sixth String:  Weakening Math

The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.

Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:

– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the  country.

– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a non-selective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.

– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.

– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.

There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.

Gulliver’s Seventh String:  Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights

  • A current Utah State School Board member said to me,  “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equalityyou continue to reference freedom over equality.”
  • The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America.  These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education.  The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution.  This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
  • Predestining kids:  Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.”  He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
  • The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent.  Sec. Duncan often says,  ”We have to be transparent about our data.”  (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)

Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have  P-20 tracking councils, and more.

Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.

For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core.  They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”.  But that code phrase is a deception.  College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities.  So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards.   By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards.  It’s like the old Ford Advertisement:  You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.”  Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”

Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.”  It means “non-competitive education.”  Yikes.  Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information

What is the effect of these redefinings?

According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.

The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?

Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection.  They want access to the data.  Words give them access.  This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.

Gulliver’s Eighth String:  Invading Citizen Privacy

The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money.  The SLDS  was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.

But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce.  It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system.  It essentially guides and monitors citizens.

When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children.  I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.

They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked.  Schools are the starting point.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html

While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)

In America, a law is a representative thing.  Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.

But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous.  Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations.  FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example.  Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be.  But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.

Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used:  used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.

I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley.  I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.

What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.

The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.

While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”

The  now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups  (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)

Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )

Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/

http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

In closing:

Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy.  It is important to understand the document.  “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.

Our Department of Education is aware of this.  Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country.  Yes, very limited.  Like, not allowed at all.

We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money.  But we must not allow them any further ground.

The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and  can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.

Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.

Common Core does not improve college readiness.  The educational value of the standards is low.  And even if they were to be  significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.

There is no amendment process for Common Core.  The standards have no checks and balances.  Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers.  It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.

We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding  the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.

Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated:  In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.  He is right.

Thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core.  Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core.  At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core.  The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it.  Let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.

Thank you.

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

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

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/obamas-career-tracking-and-education-reforms-so-much-more-than-common-core/

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:  http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/remarks-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-national-academy-foundation-next-conference

* 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.

NO INDIVIDUAL STATE WHO IS UNDER THE COMMON CORE YOKE CAN MAKE CHANGES NOR DEFINE COLLEGE AND CAREER READY DIFFERENTLY FROM ANY OTHER STATE.

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 Ed.gov site here: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions)