All posts by Oak Norton

Yes, Utah is Still on Common Core

This past week I attended the state school board meeting to support Natalie Cline and those who would speak on her behalf over the treatment she is receiving from some fellow board members and outside groups, who hate that she has the crazy belief that parents have fundamental rights over their children and a right to know what schools are teaching them.

After the public comment time, I went outside to visit with other people that had come and were holding up signs in support of Natalie. As things slowed down and people started leaving, a lady approached me and saw my classic vintage green t-shirt that reads “No More Common Core.”

She said, “I’ve worked with 5 governors in Utah, and Utah isn’t using Common Core. We have our own standards.”

I had to chuckle. She had no idea who she was talking to. I asked if she knew my name and she didn’t. I told her I ran this website and proceeded to explain that I served on the state elementary math review committee (for one meeting). We were supposed to discuss options for Utah math and I was excited to share why we should transition to California’s excellent “Green Dot” standards from 1999-2000. Instead, the state office of education representatives wouldn’t let us discuss any options to take Utah off Common Core. All they would allow in the meeting was to examine each standard and decide if the standard belonged in that grade level or should be shifted to a grade above or below. I tried to bring up the CA standards and was completely shut down by Diana Suddreth who would tolerate no discussion of moving Utah off Common Core. That’s when I saw how pointless the process was and never returned to waste my time.

This lady then immediately excused herself saying she had to go do something. I saw her a couple more times that morning as she went in and out of the building to speak with others in the crowd. Thankfully, she was wearing a name tag and I looked her up. She was president of the Utah PTA 20 years ago.

If anyone tells you Utah is not on Common Core, they are either ignorant of the facts, a liar, or a Lenin-ite useful idiot. I hope she was just ignorant.

Dr. Martell Menlove, past state superintendent acknowledged this fact in past correspondence you can read in this post: https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/letter-to-dr-menlove-please-verify-utah-core-common-core/

In it he wrote in reply to an email I sent him (emphasis mine):

Mr. Norton,

The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts. I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this. If I have, I apologize.

Thanks for seeking this clarification.

As noted previously, I continue to be willing to meet with you at your convenience to hear your concerns.

Sincerely,

Martell Menlove

From the article I just linked to, you can see a comment from Randall Lund. He went through all the standards and saw that word for word, they were the same. The only real difference is Utah added back cursive handwriting to our standards because it’s insane to remove that from education. Not only is cursive critical to brain development, but we live in Utah, genealogy capital of the world, where records are written in cursive. It took parents 8 months of effort to get the state to put those into the standards.

But, this morning just for fun, I pulled up the Utah Core standards and the national Common Core standards. I randomly picked 5th grade math to compare one section.

Here is the strand for 5th grade operations and algebraic thinking for Common Core.

Common Core 5th grade math sample

Below are the Utah core standards for this same 5th grade strand. You will see the first standard is identical except Utah has taken the bold step to remove an extra “A” from the Common Core nomenclature and simply label this a “Standard” instead of “CCSS Math Content.”

The second standard, Utah has gone to the extreme by splitting up “CCSS Math Content 5.OA.A.2” into parts “a” and “b”, but retaining the same language and examples of what a teacher is to do.

Standard 3 is completely identical.

Utah core 5th grade math sample

Yes, Utah is still on Common Core. We have never veered from the direction our overlords have desired for the children of this state and nation.

Utah Indoctrination

Unless Utah gets off federal education dollars immediately and implements true local control of education by parents at the school level, the indoctrination will continue. For a plan on how to do it, watch this: https://www.agencybasededucation.org/total-transformation-roadmap-local-control-education/

As many across the country are aware, a Lehi, Utah chemistry teacher was fire after the first day of school for going on a threatening anti-parent, pro-gay rant toward her students.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/teacher-utah-trump-video-no-longer-employed

Instead of an atmosphere of inclusion and equity that left-wing teachers preach, they are the worst hypocrites for violating their own “standards.” Only when parents take control at the local level will this nonsense end by terminating teachers that can’t stick to their subject matter.

One mom in Alpine school district showed this video to her children and posted this on Facebook.

I showed this video to my 8th grade daughter who goes to Mountain Ridge. I told her that this video was making national news. She watched it, then I asked her what she thought. She said: “I don’t know why this is going viral. I hear stuff like this from my teachers all the time”.

I showed this video to my oldest who attended American Fork High School and is now at BYU. He watched it and said: “Mom, this is not new. I heard this in High School and I hear this at BYU.”

I knew snippets of their experiences, but now I am painfully aware that this mentality has permeated our local schools. I am sick about it.
That is 100% believable. BYU is one of the worst offenders for social justice and political correctness. Their education department actively promotes this garbage including through math.
Another mom just sent me this picture of a form her seventh grader received in an art class at the new Viewpoint Middle School in Lehi.
(Update: State Superintendent directs all Utah teachers to not ask students for pronouns as it violates federal and state law. https://www.kpcw.org/post/utah-teachers-directed-not-ask-students-pronouns#stream/0)
Pronouns on page

Draper Teacher Resigns over Anti-Parent SEL Indoctrination Content

Mr Sam CrowleyIf you’d like to help this brave teacher out, please make a donation to this GoFundMe.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/xnemf-the-crowley-family

This is copied from Facebook. The same “Second Step” curriculum this teacher mentions is used in multiple school districts in Utah. See if your school is on the known list here, but if not, contact them to be sure. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1760530187472743&id=100005473355853

Opt out of SEL here:
Resignation Letter from Mr. Sam Crowley
Beloved Music Teacher at Draper Park Middle School for being required to teach the Social Emotional Learning program “Second Step” (shared with permission). They didn’t even give his last 2 weeks:
My Dear DPMS families,
This is a difficult email to write.
I have given notice to the School and District of my resignation. I will be leaving Draper Park Middle School within the next two school weeks. This has been a heart-rending decision. I love working with your children, watching them grow and develop. I will miss being with them very much.
I know that this will come as a surprise. It has come as a surprise to me and my family. I intended to be at DPMS for years to come. Unfortunately the social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, “Second Step” was rolled out to Draper Park MS this year. Because I felt uncomfortable when our Admin announced that we would be implementing this program, I spent time reviewing the lessons, videos, teacher scripts, and student handouts from unit 1 for 7th grade curriculum, which is what I would be teaching. The more I watched and read, the more uncomfortable I became.
As a rule, I think that most people will agree that the skills, which the Second Step curriculum is supposed to teach students, are good and helpful. But way that these skills are presented in the Second Step Curriculum is concerning enough to me that I cannot, in good conscience, present the material to my students; material which teaches students that their parents are “roadblocks” to their goals; material which contains propaganda, and encourages students to become activists, among other things. I am especially uncomfortable with the anti-family undertone I have found find in the “Second Step” curriculum (particularly regarding the relationship between the students and their parents, which the curriculum occasionally calls “other generations”.) I am very concerned that this is in our schools.
I shared a detailed list of my concerns with our school Administration, who referred the issue to School Performance at the District level. At every level of interaction with school and district administrators I was treated better than I expected to be. (Parenthetically, Dr. Watts is perhaps the finest, most evenhanded administrator that I have had the pleasure to work with. His hands are tied in this situation. But even so, he has done more than I deserve to support me as we wrestled through this issue. We are fortunate to have him at Draper Park Middle.) My concerns were listened to, and a group at the district have taken the time to look at the relevant content to understand my concerns. Unfortunately, in the end, district personnel kindly told me that that my concerns are unfounded, and that I was seeing what I was “looking for”. They further indicated that the program, as applied in other schools through the district, is working well and helping achieve what they want. I was told that, as a teacher in the district, I am required to teach the concepts from the provided “Second Step” curriculum.
As a kind of compromise, I was offered some small flexibility in the way that I teach the material to the students, as guided an assigned district personnel. But having someone else tell me what I have to teach from a curriculum, which I believe doesn’t belong in the school, is even less appealing than the alternative.
I have advocated for total transparency of the curriculum for parent review, and an opt-out option for parents who are uncomfortable with the course. Because “Second Step” is a copyrighted program requiring a purchased license to access the content, parents can only review the lessons being taught to their students by going into the district office and having district personnel show it to them. No opt-out option will be offered.
I don’t expect all of you to agree with my decision, or that, given the same material to review, you would all feel reason for concern. But I hope that you will understand why I have felt the need to resign: that I cannot teach content to your children that I believe is harmful.
I also want you to know that I have not shared, and will not share, all that I am sharing with you with my students. I do not want to influence your children’s perception of the school, the “Second Step” program, or give them preconceptions about things which might make their time at the school more difficult or stressful. I will tell them that I was asked by the district to do something that I couldn’t do with a clear conscience, but will indicate that I have written to you with more detail so that you can share as much or as little of my concerns as you feel is appropriate.
I hope that you, and your children, will think kindly of me as we part ways. I have tried all that I know to find an acceptable solution which would allow me to stay. I wish all of you, your students, the school and the choir program all the best.
Sincerely,
Sam Crowley
—-
His email with specific concerns sent to his school administration and the Canyons District School Performance office with more details:
Sam Crowley
“Thank you for taking time to visit and hear some of my concerns. Pursuant to our conversation this afternoon, here is a list of my specific concerns relative to the 7th grade (returning student) Second Step course. I acknowledge that my perspective will be different from others, and that not everyone will share my concerns about the material. With the first day of school looming, I have only taken time to go through the first unit of the 7th grade course, which is what I would be teaching. I have read all of the material, teacher notes and scripts, student handouts, scope and sequence, and the lessons which are presented to the class in unit 1. Most of the concepts in the scope and sequence are good skills that I have no objection to. It is in the narrative of the videos, the examples used, and the assignments students work on that I find the material which makes me so uncomfortable.
Before getting into the details of my specific concerns, I want to express my displeasure that curriculum content was not available to teachers and administrators earlier in the year for review. I also want to advocate strongly for total transparency to parents. After reviewing the material myself, I believe it is critical for absolute transparency – that parents have total access to all of the materials used to teach the curriculum; videos, scripts, lessons, student handouts and worksheets, all of it. Parents retain the right to manage the education of their children. I feel strongly that, if Second Step is going to be a mandated curriculum at our schools, there should be an opt-out option allowing parents to remove their children from Second Step SEL courses.
UNIT 1 – General concerns about the unit:
•No discussion of what a worthy goal is.
•No discussion of what to do when a goal is not reached/achieved, even when you plan and work hard.
•Distinct anti-family undertones
Lesson 1
From the introductory video (not the “video” section of the lesson):
1- Students are taught that other generations have not had to “think about the issues” that they to face today. If we follow that thought, that leads to the conclusion that other generations are not prepared to be helpful. Other generations is just nice language for parents, guardians, grandparents, etc. Teaching students that other generations, ie. their parents, are unprepared to help them is the same as saying that their trust and confidence should be in the system, and not the family. It is anti-family.
2- BLM propaganda is included in the video. I am happy to discuss being just and helping to end suffering. But when the only visual cue given to for the students to consider as the narrator speaks about the hardship of dealing with the “injustice and suffering” in the world is video footage of a Black Lives Matter protest, it is biased; it is propaganda. Propaganda has no place in our schools.
Lesson 2
From the video in the “video” section of the lesson
1- Video example promotes students becoming activists and starting campaigns around the school. Activism is loud, pushy, and almost always places people into a closed-mindset. This is counterproductive.
Lesson 3
Concerns across the lesson, video, script, and student handout
1- This lesson is poorly designed and left me with incorrect conclusions about the nature of mistakes and their relationship to progress or success. The lesson video tells the students that if the bridge hadn’t collapsed, the research that led to better, safer bridges wouldn’t have happened. Thus the lesson being taught is that ‘mistakes are necessary’. Or stated another way, we make mistakes to learn. This is wrong. We learn from our mistakes; but we don’t make mistakes to learn. The lesson promotes the idea that the building of the first bridge was not only justified because of what followed after the disaster, but that it was a good thing because progress was made. Not so. A good thing would have been to heed the warnings of engineers who were opposed to the cheaper project, conduct more research, and construct the bridge the right way the first time.
Lesson 4
Concerns across the lesson, video, script, and student handout
1- A discussion about reaching our goals and identifying and planning for “roadblocks” that might keep them from reaching a goal. The lesson gives the following scenario: student has a goal. The student’s parents say that the goal is not an appropriate goal for the student. The lesson asks the students to decide if the parents are an “internal roadblock” or an “external roadblock”. Teaching students that their parents are “roadblocks” is not acceptable. This is anti-family.
Lesson 5
Concerns from the lesson video in the “video” section and with the lesson conclusions
1- Game of Thrones reference in the video. Cartoon student has a book on the desk called “Game of Dragons”. Game of thrones is reprehensible media containing pornography, overt and explicit violence, and all manner of debauchery. The prequel series to game of thrones is ‘House of Dragons’. I discovered this when I googled ‘game of dragons’ to see what came up. There is no place for this in the schools.
2- The lesson promotes the incorrect idea that hard work, bravery, and careful planning will result in success. This is a fallacy. Sometimes, whatever you do, you lose, you don’t make it, you fail. No acknowledgement of this possibility, or the important skill of dealing with this kind of disappointment.
Lesson 7:
Concerns from the video, which is a repeat of the video shown in lesson 2, with the same
I am very uncomfortable that I am being required to teach this content to my students. I hope that I have expressed my thoughts and concerns clearly. I haven’t been able to review the entire course, but it seems reasonable to me to believe that there is sufficient evidence to pause and reconsider what we are teaching.
Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words. ~Robert G. Ingersoll

How is this inclusive?

A few days ago I received an email sent from a Utah State Office of Education employee. I’ll leave the employee anonymous because it’s truly irrelevant since so many employees there are fully on board with this programming.

The email from the state employee is below my response. It was sent to teachers and administrators all over Utah.

******My Letter to this Employee & the State Board of Education

____________, in reviewing your recent email, I noticed this Ham4Progress scholarship you promoted is only available for children that are not white.

“The award is open to students who meet the following eligibility requirements:
·        Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, Asian, or Pacific Islander”

I see this is from a private entity so it’s apparently not state taxpayer funds being used to favor people based on race, but I am troubled why a state employee would promote a scholarship designed only for minorities.

Would you similarly promote a scholarship from another private entity if their scholarship was only for white children?

If not, why not? Would that be racist but this is not? I’m getting confused over how the new politically correct rules work when implemented because they clearly don’t work by logic.

Is the state not committing itself to the practice of “inclusion, diversity, and equity?” How is this inclusive? How does this promote diversity? How is this equitable? There are thousands of scholarship opportunities. Why would you promote this one that doesn’t fall in line with the new state policy???

Inclusive means comprehensive, yet the indoctrination taking place today has inclusive mean everyone but Caucasian. Diversity literally means having people from various ethnicities and backgrounds, but the indoctrination taking place is geared toward excluding Caucasians, conservatives, and Christians. Equity means being fair like the phrase “justice is blind,” but the indoctrination is straight out of Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where some pigs declared themselves “more equal” than others. Instead of equal opportunity, the preaching is for equal outcomes and the exalting of one over another.

The new “racism” is all about pointing the finger to make one race feel guilt, another pride, and the end result is exactly the division Karl Marx preached, not Martin Luther King.

It’s particularly troubling that a Social Studies specialist would send this out. My own deficient background in history and social studies is enough to recognize that all these idiotic policies being implemented lead to DIVISION, not UNION.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

Preaching white fragility, original sin due to whiteness, reparations, micro aggressions, and so on, are anti-Christian teachings. For a state population that is highly Christian, it’s stunning so many have accepted these teachings instead of returning to what the preacher Martin Luther King taught, which is what Jesus taught. Love one another. That solves every problem. Every problem.

All this other nonsense (and that’s putting it mildly) leads to fear and anger, and you know what the wise sage of Star Wars said about that. It’s the path to the dark side and we can plainly discern that’s exactly what’s happening right now. More violence and less tolerance leading to ripping the public apart, the goal of every Marxist who wants revolution which is what the foundation of Antifa and Black Lives Matter is based on, setting race relations back decades in the process.

It is my hope that the state school board will stand up to this nonsense and recognize the incredible harm that this path is promoting. This isn’t a “conservative” issue. It’s not even a race issue. There are evil forces at work seeking to divide people every way they can and it’s unconscionable that the state of Utah is promoting these divisions to state employees.

In a sad way it’s funny that the exact point I’m making is being illustrated in this email that the preaching of inclusion is clearly leading to exclusion.

Only true doctrine changes hearts and minds. Love one another led to the success of the civil rights movement 60 years ago. Historically, that’s the only successful policy for healing racial tension. Go watch the movie Invictus. That terrorist (Nelson Mandela) repented and came to the truth about loving each other and healed his country. The American terrorist Bill Ayers has been preaching the anti-Christ doctrine of social justice for decades and warping the meanings of inclusion, equity, and diversity. It’s a perversion of truth and leads us into dark paths and he’s been wildly successful selling this hatred.

Moses 6: 54. “Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.”

We get what we preach. False doctrine leads to madness. Love conquers all.

Just a final word on your attached “Civil Dialogue” flier. It looks like yet another example of indoctrinating into these false beliefs.

“Teachers will…learn how to counter their own personal bias.”

Well what if a teacher just loves the children and helps them equally? Oh silly me, that can’t be happening. Teachers just don’t understand their own racism, right? This is insulting to teachers.

“Participants will be required to dedicate at least one class period Fall 2021 to practicing civil dialogue with their students…”

Does that mean other classes can be free from civil dialogue? Or is this just another thinly veiled indoctrination event? That would be my guess.

Dear State Board members, what direction do you really want to take Utah? This isn’t education. This isn’t progress.

Oak Norton

*********

Here is the email sent out along with the 2 attachments (1 referenced just above)

    1. Civil Dialogue Utah 3Rs flyer
    2. Image:

UEN's learn at home resources*********

[BEGIN EMAIL]

ABA Division of Public Ed Teacher Institute is Virtual This Year!

Judge John F. Grady Virtual Summer Teachers Institute

July 29th & August 5th, 2021

Here is the link to apply for the ABA Summer Teacher Institute:

Click Here For More Information and to Register

Utah 3Rs Project Civil Dialogue Training for Teachers (Flyer Attached)

The Utah 3Rs Project Civil Dialogue program will be held on the campus of Utah Valley University on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 from 9:00 am-3:00 pm. Optional tours of the Reflection Center and the Roots of Knowledge stained glass exhibit will immediately follow the end of the program.

Teacher incentives include:

  • The first 40 teachers to register will receive $100 stipends, which will be distributed after participants complete the evaluation for the in-service training and report on their Fall classroom civil dialogue session.
  • Participants will receive 6 re-licensure points for participating in the program.

If you are interested please contact Eleesha Tucker at the email address etucker@Utah3Rs.org to register.

More information: Utah 3Rs Project

Summer Professional Development Sessions from the OER Project Team

Virtual professional development sessions are coming up fast! Whether you’re new to OER Project courses or you’re already an active member of our community, this is your chance to strengthen your practice and prepare to guide your students through a year that will be like no other.

They have just launched their PD schedule page (bookmark it now!)

Professional Development Schedule Page and Registration

You are welcome to sign up for any session that interests you. They are opening registrations on a rolling basis, and encourage you to save the dates you’re interested in now.

Scholarship Opportunity – Ham4Progress

Gilder Lehrman is proud to partner with Hamilton on the Ham4Progress Award for Educational Advancement. This award supports college-bound high school students from communities that directly experience the consequences of injustice and discrimination.

The award is open to students who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, Asian, or Pacific Islander
  • College-bound high school junior
  • Minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale
  • Enrolled in a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School

Recipients of the Ham4Progress award will receive $2,500 for educational purposes, such as

  • Test preparation courses
  • Tutoring
  • College visits
  • Technology (laptops, tablets, or other devices used for learning)

Applications are due June 30, 2021.

Please share this link with other teachers in your district and pass it along to eligible students.

How to Deal with Subversive and Inappropriate Content in Your Child’s Classroom

Many people ask what to do when your child is subjected to subversive or inappropriate content at school. It can happen from exposure to inappropriate media, curriculum, teacher’s comments, and even state assessments or surveys.

When it happens (not if) here are the steps to take. If it happened in the past, still try to do this process.

(If you are a teacher forced to teach this content, see step 4b)

0) Prevention (pre-vent before you “vent”)

You should do your best to prevent indoctrination in the first place. Turn in the opt out forms for subversive content, gender ideology, state assessments, and where applicable, digital surveillance of your home. These forms put educators on notice by reminding them of state laws to not touch certain subjects or administer surveys that contain such content.
(https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/action-list/opt-out-forms/)

Then talk with your child about these forms and let them know their teachers are being informed and reminded of certain things that are not to be taught. Teach your children that teachers are not allowed to shame them either (by state law) and what that looks like (embarrass them, reward others, punish them in front of the class, and otherwise coerce them into taking the tests). Give your children permission and instruction that if one of these inappropriate subjects comes up they may walk out of class. Encourage them to inform their friends as well so if the topics arise they can all walk out at once. If the teacher asks what they are doing, they can state they are going to the nurse’s office. Then make sure they absolutely refuse to speak with a school counselor.

Never make your children’s teachers into greater authority figures than you the parent. If you say, “listen to your teacher,” add, “so you can tell me anything they say that goes against what we’ve talked about at home.” If you don’t do this, children will develop a sense that their teacher who is with them all day, is always right and they are teaching them the right things in the right way. For the ultimate protection, consider homeschooling (see item 8 for links).

 

1) When it happens, document everything

As you proceed down these steps, keep track of previous conversations to give a summary to the next person you contact so they know the efforts you have gone through to make corrections and when they say, “did you speak to ____” you can say “yes, and this was their response.” Also, record conversations that you are able to so you have a perfect record of what was said.

Start your documentation by noting:

  • The school this took place at
  • The teacher(s) involved
  • What class, time(s) and date(s)
  • What curriculum material was used if any (book, publisher, periodical, etc…)

 

2) Speak with the Teacher (always speak with respect sharing your concerns, never accusatory. “Share” your concerns.)

a) Do they share your concern?

Yes: Can they and will they stop teaching subversive content?

Yes? Great! Thank the teacher for listening to your concerns. Then inform your child of the outcome and warn them to be watchful and report any infractions to you.

No? Why? Is it their own beliefs or is someone pressuring them to use this material (material can be curriculum content or assessments)? (Principal, District Administration, EDI director (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), School Board?)

b) Are they part of the problem? Document it and move to step 3.

 

3) Speak with the Principal

a) Do they share your concern?

Yes: Can they and will they stop subversive content from being taught?

Yes? Great! Thank the principal for listening and taking action. Make sure they have specific action steps and then follow up to make sure they are done.

No? Who is pressuring them to use this material? (EDI director (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), District Administration, School Board?)

b) Are they part of the problem? Document it and move to step 4.

 

4a) Report to the State Hotline

Utah has a state hotline to report specific instances of indoctrination, student shaming and bullying by teachers, and so on. If the teacher and principal cannot give you satisfaction, report everything immediately then proceed to step 5.

Full instructions: https://www.schools.utah.gov/internalaudit?mid=892&tid=3

Quick reference: call 801-538-7813 or email audit@schools.utah.gov. Share your story with them and email your story to state board members at board@schools.utah.gov. Then also email your story to indoctrination at utahnsagainstcommoncore.com.

 

4b) Teacher help

If you are a teacher who is being forced to teach things against your conscience, please email your story to indoctrination @ utahnsagainstcommoncore.com and let us publish your story anonymously. We will keep you anonymous but please include sufficient information to allow us to contact you and verify your identity.

 

5) Speak with District/Charter School Board member

This person often can’t affect what’s happening directly in a classroom like the teacher or principal so I think it’s best to report things in step 4 and then have this conversation.

a) Do they share your concern?

Yes: Will they work to stop subversive content from being taught in the district?

Yes? Great! However, depending on the issue, the board member may or may not be able to fix the issue. If it requires board action, they (and possibly you) will have to convince others there is a problem in order for the board to take action. This is where petitions and movements often get started since the school board affects the direction of the district. Ask what they will do and how you can help.

No? Who is pressuring them to use this material? (State Board, EDI director (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), Legislature, Federal policy?)

b) Are they part of the problem? Run against them or find someone you can support to run against them. When you complete this process, publicize what their position is with regard to your concern.

 

6) Speak with State Board member

a) Do they share your concern? Did they read the email you sent in step 4a?

Yes: Will they work to stop subversive content from being taught in the state?

Yes? Great, but they are even further removed from the classroom. Ask what they will do and how you can help.

No? Who is pressuring them to use this material? (Legislature, EDI director (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), Federal policy?)

b) Are they part of the problem? Run against them or find someone you can support to run against them. When you complete this process, publicize what their position is with regard to your concern.

 

7) Speak with your House Representative and State Senator

a) Do they share your concern?

Yes: What will they do? Will they hold hearings or run a bill to stop subversive content from being taught in the state?

Yes? Ask how you can help and how to participate in the process.

No? If they agree with you and won’t or can’t do anything about it, ask if they would recommend another legislator who they think might be interested in helping and contact that person.

b) Are they part of the problem? Run against them or find someone you can support to run against them. When you complete this process, publicize what their position is with regard to your concern.

 

8) Next steps

Publish all your documentation.

Gather reinforcements who can help.

Speak with friends and neighbors about the problem. Have cottage meetings.

Start a petition with other like-minded parents and raise awareness.

Run for office and replace the bad actors or find others who are like-minded and willing to do it.

Write letters to the editor.

Homeschool or private school and stop financially supporting any institution that indoctrinates children (including universities). Or dual enroll (https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dual-enrolling-your-child/) to homeschool for the indoctrinating classes while attending school for the others. Homeschooling has come a LONG way over the last 50 years. There are excellent materials that make the job a lot easier and there are plenty of groups for kids to associate with and socialize. They can still participate at local school events with their friends too. For some excellent videos on getting started and being inspired, check out: https://www.agencybasededucation.org/options/homeschooling/

There are many great private schools available that shun Common Core and are freedom oriented. Ask around and find one.

Start a private school. Here’s a workshop discussing how:

https://www.agencybasededucation.org/how-to-start-a-school/

 

9) FAQ

What guidance is the state office giving schools and teachers? Know this so you can inform teachers as well.
https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/opt-out-guiding-document/

“Am I the only one complaining?”
Almost certainly not. This is a common tactic to isolate parents who are voicing their concerns. Some years ago after one particular incident in Alpine School District, I encouraged people to complain to the district. That week, three people contacted me and said the same district administrator had told all of them they were the only one to complain about the issue. Obviously he was lying to them in an effort to minimize their concerns and make them feel alone and weak.

“If I opt my kids out, do they still have to do the practice tests? I have a teacher telling my son too bad.” And: “The teacher is telling my child they will have to do a lot of extra work during the test we opted out of. Is that legal?”
No. Read the state laws here: https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/opt-out-guiding-document/

More Proof Utah’s Governor(s) are All About the Money

With permission I am publishing this Facebook post by Dr. Gary Thompson, one of my two favorite Utah doctors… :)
***
I received this letter last week from a political insider who worked during the Utah-Herbert/Cox Administration. I waited several days to do a background check on the writer before making this public. He/She checked out.
If you want to know why the Cox Administration will never meet with me, and quite frankly, why they are more than likely figuring out a nasty way to destroy my name and honor? Read on:
Doctor Thompson:
“Gary, you do not know me personally. I worked through__________and contacts on the UDOE, mainly ____________back in 2014-16, to try to stop the State’s work in digitizing children and creating electronic figure-prints, and using the data commercially. It was an epic failure.”
“You scared the hell out of the establishment. I suspect Gov. Herbert admin was especially concerned over the potential for you exposing them, and how they circumvented the intent of parental rights and stripped away all local control”
“And you would have exposed how they altered the legal language, so they could digitize minors for profit, while making parents responsible as the primary for exposing them, all while stripping parents of all editorial control over the classroom. You would have shown how digitizing minors completely ignored all the science behind the principle of “do no harm” .”
“And how it was never about improving educational outcomes. It was about them gaining power and the State profiting. In a word, you would have exposed the lie. And they knew you would.”
“What you may not know, is your battle exposed enough of their design as to prevent them from carrying it out in full. And it provided parents a way to take it back without having to fight the beast….”
Here is my [Gary’s] open response to the Cox Administration:
Dear Cox Administration:
I don’t want to fight you, expose you, or have ANY involvement with politics. I do not wish to be on TV, made famous by Tucker Carlson or any media talking head. I do not want to write a book, or receive monies from speaking engagements…..
All I want is to hang out with my beautiful wife and six kids, and to assist her with her efforts of providing trauma level services to the area of the State with the highest youth suicide rate in the country, and to raise my kids via the values passed on by several generations of African Americans in my family system.
Critical Race “Theory” goes directly against those values, and have a strong statistical possibility of harming both my marriage and my biracial children.
5 years ago I promised to “go away” quietly from the public spot light IF your future policies did not directly negatively affect my wife or kids.
I kept mine…but it appears to be that you may be under the direct influence of the Union, BLM, and other woke, left leaning entities which are championing CRT….thus it appears that you are thinking about breaking your promise.
I hope you have the fortitude to stop this harmful garbage in its tracks during the special legislative session coming next month. If not? You will leave me no choice but to come out like a bat out of hell to fight this on both a local and national level.
I won’t come out of this as a “winner”, but I do know this much: Neither will you.
I am more than willing to be “canceled” and shamed fighting for family my against CRT……are you willing to risk your political career and good name over this garbage?
I’ll find out in May.
Best regards;
Gary Thompson, PsyD.

Stop Comprehensive Sexuality Education

The below article is by Natalie Cline, a sitting member of the Utah State School Board. She is not writing on behalf of the board.

I also invite you to watch 4 presentations from a recent Eagle Forum conference which go into some depth about what’s happening in Utah right now:

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/4-critical-presentations-this-is-in-utah/

 

******** FROM NATALIE CLINE

Dear Parent

Please read in full! Important information!

Thank you for having the courage to advocate for your child! Gone are the days you can just sit back and hope your child will be safe at school. The following are some important steps to help you proactively advocate for your child. Please share with other concerned parents.

1) Get Educated on the Harmful Programs in Schools:

Social Emotional Learning programs groom your children to accept Critical Race Theory, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Gender Ideology, BLM Curriculum,  and intersectionality. Learn more here:

CSE: https://www.comprehensivesexualityeducation.org/

https://protectchildhealth.org/webinars/

Gender Ideology:

A perfect example of how they are trying to indoctrinate our teachers and students:  Keynote from the Utah Pride Center’s conference for Utah Educators, held 1/23/2021 “Gender Creative Education: Building an Inclusive and Equitable Learning Community”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nkv_SOyqvM

Critical Race Theory:

https://www.heritage.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/BG3567.pdf

Here is just a handful sources for factual information of the issue which will provide the children valuable education rather than indoctrination:

FACTS by Walter E. Williams, distinguished prof. of economics at George Mason

University (originally from Philadelphia):

https://www.the-dispatch.com/opinion/20190816/walter-e-williams-how-important-is-todays-racial-discrimination

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzNYCPZXvlw

FACTS by Carol Swain, Prof of political science & Law at Vanderbilt University:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_a7dQXilCo

The Plight of the Black People and the myth of Systemic Racism:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TQEbUMX1uug

FACTS: Larry Elder on systemic racism in America

https://www.facebook.com/RealBrigitteGabriel/videos/719032492204373/UzpfSTEwMDAwMTM0ODUwMDI2OTozMTE1NDYxMTE4NTA4ODA4/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlGE9dg7fyM

FACTS: Ben Shapiro debunking viral systemic racism explained video:

http://easternontarionetwork.com/index.php/2020/06/10/ben-shapiro-debunks-viral-systemic-racism-explained-video/

FACTS by Walter E. Williams, distinguished prof. of economics at George Mason

University (originally from Philadelphia):

https://www.the-dispatch.com/opinion/20190816/walter-e-williams-how-important-is-todays-racial-discrimination

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzNYCPZXvlw

Read the first lawsuit of many to come due to subversive indoctrination programs in schools:

https://www.schoolhouserights.org

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs:

https://www.agencybasededucation.org/battleground-religious-freedom-k-12-assessments/

Deep dive into SEL:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1202298819962552&id=100005473355853

SEL’s Massive Data Collection testimony:

https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/video-jane-robbins-testimony-to-congress-on-consent-and-student-data-privacy/

SEL & Transgender Ideology:

https://www.christianpost.com/news/how-schools-are-programming-children-imposing-transgender-ideology-propaganda-expert.html

BLM Curriculum:

https://www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com

Action Civics/Civics Engagement programs: https://www.texaspolicy.com/action-civicsnew-civics-civic-engagement-and-project-based-civics-advances-in-civic-education/

 

2) Opt-out Forms:

1) CSE-gender-ideology-non-consent_form

2) Opt_out_of_subversive_content form

The school will not always tell you when something controversial is going to be taught unless you make your wishes known in unmistakable terms. These opt out forms will help you do just that!

Feel free to edit the forms to include anything not already mentioned that you do not consent to having your child taught or exposed to. For example:

“I do not consent to my child being read stories that include the topic of intersectionality, gender identity/orientation, or homosexuality ideology”

“I do not consent to my child participating in the Second Step program and I request that my child be allowed to go to the library to do an alternative assignment whenever the class is participating in these program materials.”

“I do not consent to my child participating in any discussions, activities, programs, or presentations on the topics of Cultural Proficiency/Competency/Revelance, Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Privilege, White Fragility, Intersectionality, Anti-Racism, Systemic Racism, bias/sensitivity training, Critical/Crucial Conversations (i.e. Critical Race Theory), Social Justice, Racial Justice, etc.”

I would recommend that you add signature lines at the bottom of each form for the principal and teachers to sign showing they read and understand your desires. Have them sign two copies of each opt-out form, one for your records and one to be kept in your child’s official file.

 

3) Know the Laws – and how they pertain to your parental rights and child’s learning environment. Cite these laws whenever asserting your parental authority over your child’s education:

Be sure remind your school that yours and your child’s first amendment rights are guaranteed even at school – freedom of speech, religious freedoms, and rights of conscience – and that Utah code 53G-10-402(6) states that political, atheistic, sectarian, religious, or denominational doctrine may not be taught in the public schools (except as provided in Section 53G-10-202).

Constitutional free speech laws also protect against compelled speech of any kind (i.e. having to choose an identity group, having to state whether they are an oppressor or oppressed, having to state their own preferred pronouns, having to use someone else’s “preferred” pronouns, having to state their sexual orientation,  having to admit guilt for something they didn’t do, having to say they are “racist”, have “privilege” or “power” etc.).

Utah laws protecting parental rights are cited in the attached opt-out form for “subversive content”.

You may want to edit the “sexual content” non-consent form to include the following Utah laws and Board Rules that require parental consent to be given before anything related to sexuality or gender orientation are discussed in class:

https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r277/r277-474.htm

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title53E/Chapter9/53E-9-S203.html?v=C53E-9-S203_2018012420180124

Take this teacher’s advice:

Teacher advice

 

4) If your child is taught or exposed to inappropriate materials in their classroom or library:

1) Find out if your local school board approved the book, curriculum, or program. If they did not, have them remove the inappropriate materials from the classroom, and send out a formal apology to all parents in the school informing them of what happened and what actions they are taking to remedy the situation and ensure it does not happen again. If they did approve it have them remove it from the approved list.

2) Ask teacher/administrator what content on the opt-out forms have already been taught to your child so you can discuss the content with your child, share your family’s values and why these are important to you.

3) Report incident to the Utah Education Hotline: 801-538-7813, include the offending teacher or administrator’s name(s) if you suspect your complaint may require disciplinary action. Also, mail the State School Board with your concerns at board@schools.utah.gov.

 

5) Right to Know: 

Parents have a right to know everything their children are taught.  Assert your parental rights by visiting the school and insisting they let you see all books, curricula, resource materials, and computer programs being used. Ask to be logged in through the student portal so you can see what is only available through the student portals. Write down the names of any programs or curricula being used and research them at home. See attachments below for more helpful tips.

 

6) School Community Counsels:

Find out about your local school community councils on your school’s website and in the attachment below. This is where you as a parent can have a voice in what happens at your child’s school. Attend their meetings and work to get informed parents on the counsel or get on it yourself.

School Community Council Basics Document

 

7) Teach Your Child:

Teach them what is ok and not okay for them to be taught in school so they know when to call you. Not sure what to tell them to watch out for? Study the links in the “Get Educated” section at the beginning of this letter and then you will know.

Teach your child to trust their instincts. If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. If your child is “sick” about what is being taught or presented in class or online, have them tell the teacher they “do not feel well” so they can go to the office and call you. Come up with a code word they can use when they call you so  that you understand they need rescuing from the uncomfortable situation such as a fake name for a relative that if they mention it on the phone you know they are in distress (ex. “Did Uncle Charlie arrive safely?”).  Be sure to follow up with the school about whatever it was that caused your child discomfort.

 

8) Utah Parents United:

Last, but not least, go to http://www.utahparentsunited.org/get-involved.html and join with other concerned parents and learn powerful ways you can advocate for your child! We must stand together to protect our children.

Thank you again for caring about your child enough to get involved!

 

(image by Mykhailo Ridkous @ 123rf.com)

4 Critical Presentations – this is in Utah

Please watch these critically important videos from the 2021 Eagle Forum conference. These issues are here in Utah.

5:33 Gayle Ruzicka, Eagle Forum President speaking on the reproductive mutilation of children happening in our state. Ask your legislators to support HB 92 which prevents surgeons in Utah from performing transgender procedures on minors.

7:16 Jennie Earl (currently serving on the Utah state school board), on critical race theory and cultural Marxism.

Jennie Earl Eagle_Forum_Presentation

7:35 Merrilee Boyack (Abortion-Free Utah and Family Watch International) on comprehensive sex ed in Utah schools.

7:50 Nicholeen Peck – discusses pornography happening in Utah schools through the databases children have access to. Ask your legislators to support HB 38 which requires Utah schools to block obscene and pornographic material from students.

 

The New Content Opt-Out Form

Parents have always had the primary responsibility and authority for their children’s education but state and local authorities, and some individual classroom teachers, often bypass family concerns and legal limitations on what can be taught to children in schools.

As such, a small group of concerned citizens created this new opt-out form and sent it to me. Please download the pdf or copy/paste the below text into your word processor, print it out, sign it, and address it to your child’s teacher and principal.


Opt out of subversive content (Click to download PDF)


Dear _______________________,

It has come to my attention that many entities within public education and the community at large, are pushing an agenda into schools that diminishes the relationship between parent and child, abolishes liberty and personal responsibility, and silences the free exercise of individual conscience.  Specifically, there are groups seeking to divide our nation according to oppressed and oppressor classes, a concept which is a prominent feature of Marxist ideology.

Therefore, please be informed that:

“Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of the state of Utah, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parents’ children” (Utah Code § 62A-4a-201).

The state of Utah recognizes that parents have the “right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide and care for, and reasonably discipline their children(Utah Code § 62A-4a-201) and “supports parents through a responsive educational system that guarantees local school communities autonomy, flexibility, and client choice” (Utah Code § 53E-2-301-3).

In the implementation of “all policies, programs, and responsibilities, the Utah Legislature, the state school board, local school boards, and charter school governing boards” are required to “respect, protect, and further the interests of parents in their children’s public education(Utah Code § 53E-2-201-2(a)).  Furthermore “political, atheistic, sectarian, religious, or denominational doctrine may not be taught in the public schools except as provided in Section 53G-10-202(Utah Code § 53G-10-402).

The Utah Legislature envisions an educated citizenry that “encompasses foundational principles including strong moral and social values, and loyalty and commitment to constitutional government” (Utah Code § 53E-2-301).

As a parent of a child or children in this school, please be advised that:

My child/children will not participate in any activities, receive literature, read text books or literary works, view videos,  attend assemblies,  take assessments, or participate in any activities that disparage the United States Constitution, any of the citizen rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, capitalism, our constitutional republic, law enforcement, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, or the founders of Utah.

I am requesting that none of the following be used in the education of my child/children:

  • Broad negative generalizations about race and privilege.
  • Ideology of an oppressed and oppressor based on characteristics or background not on individual actions. Education should allow for diverse thinking including various religious and ideological groups.
  • Shaming children in any way based on items listed in Utah Code § 53E-9-203. For example, environmentalism that diminishes human life or disparages family size.
  • Any theory of the history of the United States of America or the state of Utah that states a need for fundamental transformation of our constitutions.
  • Diminishing self-government and personal responsibility in favor of collectivism
  • Activities that focus on victim ideology and seek to divide U.S. citizens, communities, or families and pit one group against another (e.g., heterosexism, classism, ableism, racism, Marxism, intersectionality, white fragility, identity grouping, privilege, etc…).

Furthermore, any literature, curriculum materials, assemblies, guest speakers, other media or communication made available from or through political /advocacy groups — especially those associated with “Critical Theory” or “Critical Race Theory” should not be used in the public school environment. (e.g. Black Lives Matter Inc., The 1619 Project, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, etc…)

In accordance with the parameters stated in Utah law, none of the below topics are to be addressed in the curriculum of children in the state of Utah without written parental consent (Utah Code § 53E-9-203).

  • “political philosophies;…
  • sexual behavior, orientation, or attitudes;
  • illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
  • critical appraisals of individuals with whom the student or family member has close family relationships;
  • religious affiliations or beliefs;…”

Educators are required to “comply with all federal, state, and local laws” (R277-217-3) which includes the following prohibited conduct (R277-217-2-23) “exclude a student from participating in any program, deny or grant any benefit to a student, or encourage a student to develop a prejudice on the basis of: (a) race; (b) color; (c) creed; (d) sex; (e) national origin; (f) marital status; (g) political or religious belief; (h) physical or mental condition; (i) family, social, or cultural background; (j) sexual orientation; or (k) gender identification;” LEA’s are required to report violations to the UPPAC (R277-217-5).

I give full consent for the below items to be integrated into the education of my child/children as stated in Utah law (Utah Code § 53-10-204).

  • “respect for and an understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the constitutions of the United States and of the state of Utah;
  • Utah history, including territorial and preterritorial development to the present;
  • the essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system;
  • respect for parents, home, and family;
  • the dignity and necessity of honest labor;
  • and other skills, habits, and qualities of character which will promote an upright and desirable citizenry and better prepare students to recognize and accept responsibility for preserving and defending the blessings of liberty inherited from prior generations and secured by the Constitution.”

Foundational changes being called for by a few will result in the destruction of law and order, healthy families, peace and prosperity, private property rights, and life. This is evidenced by the riots and other alarming behavior currently taking place around our nation. It is a lawful mandate, and my expectation, that public schools preserve a lawful citizenry that will carry forward the legacy and freedom ideals of this great nation.

Sincerely,

Signature:  ____________________________            Child(ren): ________________________________________

(Disclaimer: This document is intended to help parents and educators reference key parental rights laws and is not to be construed as legal counsel.)

How To Clean Up the Common Core Mess

With permission from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, below is an article she wrote that appeared in the New Boston Post about solving Common Core in Massachusetts (or any state).

Utah needs to replace the standards and what Dr. Stotsky outlines below is great for a broad statewide base. However, in my view, it would be better if school districts and charter schools were allowed to set their own standards and just have the state issue broad graduation guidelines. Instead of the SAT/ACT/SAGE/RISE/Aspire tests have students take the Classical Learning Test. When teachers teach to that test, it will be a higher level of learning with more quality materials used to ensure their students perform better. And stop all the database tracking of students. It’s insane and a violation of privacy.

Now Dr. Stotsky:


With the onset of Common Core, Massachusetts’s education standards for public schools have declined. How can the state regain lost ground?

It’s actually not that hard. Solid standards already exist. What’s needed is the will to implement them.

Massachusetts can again develop effective non-Common Core standards for mathematics and English/reading if the state legislature requires either a return to the state’s pre-Common Core standards in English language arts/reading, science, or mathematics, or the development of K-12 standards in mathematics and in English/reading with the following features and guiding policies.

 

In mathematics:

 

1.  Standards for all basic arithmetical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, short and long division) and standard algorithms should be taught at the same grade levels as in Singapore Math’s original series for the elementary grades. The four operations should be learned with all the real numbers, positive and negative, and fractional forms like common fractions, decimals, and percents.

How do we know Singapore Mathematics works? Three Massachusetts public elementary schools in the North Middlesex Regional School District (which serves Ashby, Pepperell, and Townsend, all along the New Hampshire border) began teaching it in 2000. The results were encouraging, as articles hereherehere, and here show.

2.  Standards that enable all children in public elementary schools to be prepared via their mathematics curriculum to enroll in and complete a traditional Algebra I course in grade 7 or 8 before going on to advanced science and math in high school. Before 2010, about half of all grade 8 Massachusetts students had completed a traditional Algebra I course before entering grade 9. It sets them up for success in science, which depends on math.

3.  Standards/lessons from Dolciani-authored or co-authored mathematics textbooks in grade 8 and above, where possible. Mary P. Dolciani and the publisher Houghton Mifflin were known as the “king and queen” of secondary mathematics texbooks — from the 1960s to the 1990s. Dolciani died in 1985. Many, perhaps most, secondary algebra teachers in this country were trained on Dolciani-authored textbooks and continue to value them for their structure and method.

As one teacher commented:  “The books were literate in their context, never watered down, but not so abstract that a high school student couldn’t read and follow. What makes this book so unique is the fact that mathematical induction is introduced in Chapter 3 and is carried throughout the book. Normally mathematical induction is included at the end of a precalculus text and is never covered. No other precalculus book prior or since has used this approach. Mathematical induction is a proof-driven treatment for the topics which follow. It makes the students think in a logical manner and enables them, by proof, to understand the full argument of why certain ‘things happen’ in math as they do.”

4.  Standards for Euclidean geometry (with proofs) addressed in separate units in grades 6, 7, and/or 8 (as in Singapore Math), along with standards for separate algebra units, or in a full course in grade 9.

5.  Standards that enable high-achieving math students to enroll in and complete a traditional Algebra II course in grade 10 or 11 and to study trigonometry or a pre-calculus course in grade 11 or 12.

 

In English/reading:

 

1.  In the primary grades, explicit reading instruction with systematic phonics/phonemic awareness.  Usage/grammar/roots and prefixes/suffixes, as well as sentence structure and spelling (in other words, writing mechanics) should also be taught.

2.  Standards in grades 3-8 that require about half of what all elementary students read in whole-class history or language arts lessons to come from the excellent series of informational books on historical people and events in U.S. and world history published in the 1950s and 1960s by Random House Publishers.  See this link.

3.  Standards in grades 9-12 that require all high school students to become familiar with historically and culturally significant whole works from the following ten Literary Periods: Classical (1200 BCE–455 CE); Medieval (455 CE–1485 CE); Renaissance (1300–1660): Restoration and 18th Century (1660–1790); Colonial and Early National (1600–1830): Romantic (1790–1870): Realism and Naturalism (1870–1910); Modernist (1910–1945); Post World War II (1945–1980); and Contemporary (1980-2020). (“BCE” here refers to “Before Common Era,” often rendered “B.C.” elsewhere; “CE” here refers to “Common Era,” often rendered “A.D.” elsewhere.) Most of these Literary Periods are spelled out in an appendix in the latest version of Florida’s English language arts standards (page 165), together with the names of authors whose works illustrate their features and a list of the features themselves.

4.  Standards for a coherent literature/reading curriculum for K-12 that address, as did the Massachusetts pre-Common Core English language arts/reading standards, all four major types of literature:  poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic literature.  See the appendices in the latest version of Florida’s English language arts standards for lists of recommended titles and authors, from K to grade 12, for poetry, fiction, and dramatic literature.

5.  Reading lists showing titles or authors of well-known informational texts in these literary periods that serve as historical context for the literary works selected by the English teacher for classroom instruction. Appendix A and Appendix B in the 2013 version of the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework (which is a condensed version of the 2001/4 English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, composed by Sandra Stotsky) contain lists of recommended authors for K-8 informational reading (vetted by The Horn Book editors and listed under “essays” or “nonfiction” or “historical documents”), as well as recommended authors for 9-12 (vetted by a diverse group of literary scholars).

6.  Reading passages for test items for each tested grade that come from works by authors in these literary periods. As a committee of Massachusetts secondary school English teachers recommended after the first edition of its English standards in 1997, about 60 percent of the passages should be literary, and 40 percent non-literary. Passages from well-known speeches or biographies may be literary or non-literary. (Again, for lists, see the appendices of the recent Florida English Language Arts standards.)

 

For teacher licensure or certification in Massachusetts:

 

1.  All elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers (grades K-6) should continue to be required to pass the Reading Licensure Test (MTEL 90) developed in Massachusetts in 2001/2 (or its equivalent). This licensure test helped all teachers of young children to teach beginning reading so effectively that Massachusetts students on average earned first place on National Association of Educational Progress tests in grade 4 and grade 8 in reading and in mathematics from 2005 on. (Reading is crucial in mathematics because of word problems.) Massachusetts students still have the highest state averages in the country, probably because many teachers use the methods they learn to pass the test.

For a description of the Reading Licensure Test’s  development, see here.

2.  All prospective elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers should be required to take and pass the Bay State’s elementary mathematics licensure test (MTEL 53). The skills the test forces teachers to learn helped Massachusetts students earn first place on National Association of Educational Progress tests from 2009 on. This test has a relatively low pass rate overall.

3.  All cut-off scores for performance levels on all student or teacher tests should be set by Massachusetts parents, grade 11 or 12 teachers, and state legislators — instead of using the cut-off scores the state is given from outside the state and/or from the United States Department of Education.

4.  The state’s board of higher education and governor need to require the mathematics, science, and English teaching faculty at each public college or university in the state to analyze the state’s current high school standards for grades 9-12, and issue a signed public report containing their analysis.

5.  The governor and state secretary of education need to ask the math and English teaching faculty at each public college in the state to recommend in writing what standards should be added or changed to make sure that Massachusetts high school students are prepared for freshman and sophomore credit-bearing courses at that college if they plan to attend college in Massachusetts.

 

Stopping the Nonsense, and Strengthening Public Education

 

The chief purpose of a standards revision committee would be to strengthen public education in Massachusetts in order to remedy recent federal and state policies designed for low achievers. All students once learned that, regardless of academic achievement, they were politically equal to each other in our civic culture, with a shared civic identity. Yet, policy makers and philanthropists have led low achievers to believe they haven’t succeeded in school because of bigoted educators and communities.

As my last four books try to make clear, all parents and educators must revive the civic mission of their own public schools, and actively help to restore educated citizenship as the goal of K-12 public education. They will also have to help the state legislature to nullify the four-year state “plan” in education that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 for approval under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act without state legislative approval.

Academic standards in public schools aren’t hopeless, but they need help. It starts with the will to do something about them.

 

Sandra Stotsky, former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas.