All posts by Oak Norton

Why do States and Schools Pay for this Cr@p from Pearson?

Pearson has made out very well as a provider of education services for many decades, but none like the decade of Common Core. Pearson was involved in the very beginning of the process as one of the players who knew what was happening. It allowed them to produce curricula that matched the standards right out of the gate when the standards were released. States were then bribed to immediately adopt the standards before most publishers could provide reworked curriculum, so districts and schools turned to what was available (Pearson and a couple other major players) to buy their materials. This resulted in hundreds of small education companies being put out of business, unable to afford to rework their curriculum in time without early access to the Common Core standards.

The purpose of this short post isn’t to expose all of Pearson’s connections. That can be dug up elsewhere. I just want to point out a couple things.

First is this one I learned this past week. President Obama directed $350 million to Pearson to create Common Core texts (I think this article I’m linking to should have said tests because the PARCC test was Pearson’s and there was a $350 million grant for CC tests which largely went to Pearson and SBAC which makes me wonder slightly how they arrived at their information). Here’s the new twist though: Pearson gave President Obama a $65 million book deal through their subsidiary Penguin Random House. Quid pro quo anyone? https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/obama-gave-pearson-publishing-350-million-to-create-commoncore-text-and-pearson-gave-obama-a-65-million-dollar-book-deal-in-return/

Second, a couple years ago, Dr. Duke Pesta presented at a special event in Salt Lake City. I posted the video recording to Youtube and it’s had nearly 10,000 views at this point. If you haven’t watched it, here’s your chance. It’s excellent.

https://youtu.be/jWGpCOYre0Q

This past week, a former employee of Pearson posted a comment on the video. It’s what we already knew. Pearson’s massively profitable testing arm is pure crap. Trying to grade hundreds of thousands or millions of tests in giant batches is impossible. They don’t even try.

I worked for Pearson several years ago “grading” high school student essays. Essay graders were broken up into teams of 7 people in a room of 300 people, morning and afternoon shifts, sitting in front of a computer terminal. We were instructed to grade an essay as it appeared on computer screen in less then 5-minutes as Dr. Duke stated, and we were told not to take into consideration grammar, spelling, and cohesiveness of the essays. My team consisted of four high school teachers and three college educated individuals who were not teachers. Pearson’s goal was to grade every essay with a score of 3 or above on a 5 point-scale. Our team was constantly discussing the madness of the work and having confrontations with the supervisors and management team. Thank goodness it was just a temporary job for 3-months, but it was excruciating to see the bad grammar, spelling mistakes, and unintelligible thoughts of those kids.

There is ZERO benefit to students taking these tests. What good is a test without feedback so you can improve, and what good is a score if it’s arbitrary and meaningless? Pearson’s massive hold on states needs to be sliced free and terminated. Schools and districts should bring testing back to the local level so teachers craft a well thought out test, grade it, return it to students for feedback, and in turn give parents something they can tangibly discuss with their children to help them in whatever way they deem appropriate.

Can any legislator or member of the state board of education or other educator justify this? You’re WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS. Why? Is it to say, “we test our students?” That’s a load of crap. You’re indoctrinating and psychologically harming them and should be held accountable for SAGE and Aspire and all the other idiotic standardized tests you’re foisting on our children. You are creating unhealthy stress in children all over this state.

Lastly, I want to point out that Pearson has been caught with it’s pants down knowingly indoctrinating our children through their curricula. Project Veritas got some of the big wigs on hidden camera denigrating the constitution and Christianity and how they put that into their texts unbeknownst to parents. Their goal is to make money and change American culture and they’re doing that through their powerful governmental connections and education industry dominance. Watch it here: https://www.projectveritas.com/tag/pearson/

Utah schools, districts, and the state should completely cut ties with this anti-American, anti-education behemoth. Restore local control and pass the savings from this garbage back into teachers salaries. Eliminating these garbage tests and could provide every Utah teacher with a nice pay increase.

The failure we call Common Core

Numerous articles and studies have been published the last couple years exposing the soft underbelly of the creature we call Common Core. It’s hard outer shell created by legislation and billions of dollars of propaganda, can’t protect it from the reality that is slowing sinking in after years of ruining our school system. The damage caused by Common Core will last longer than what would be caused by Godzilla on a rampage in Tokyo. Our nation’s children will suffer the effects for a lifetime and the legacy of Common Core will be the continued decline of the American education system, to say nothing of the indoctrination and collection of personal and behavioral data taking place.

Please share this post on social media and with legislators. Ask them to get your state off Common Core and return to local control so parents have ultimate control over their children’s education.

I’m just going to share a few items here for the purpose of documenting what we warned about from the very beginning. Until states wake up and get off the Common Core train, our children will continue to suffer. In the absence of states doing the right thing and returning to solid standards and shunning federal “accountability” and funding, the only recourse for families at this point is to take education into your own hands and do what’s best for your children. Enter AgencyBasedEducation.org.

1) NAEP decline

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-secretary-devos-2019-naep-results

Education Secretary Betsy Devos:

“Every American family needs to open The Nation’s Report Card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future. The results are, frankly, devastating. This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students.

Two out of three of our nation’s children aren’t proficient readers. In fact, fourth grade reading declined in 17 states and eighth grade reading declined in 31. The gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite $1 trillion in Federal spending over 40 years designated specifically to help close it.

This must be America’s wake-up call. We cannot abide these poor results any longer. We can neither excuse them away nor simply throw more money at the problem.”

Remember, Common Core was introduced and rolled out to be implemented around 2011. Up to that point, scores were on the rise. Since then, scores have been stagnant or dropped.

2019 Naep Math performance
2019 naep reading scores

2) Common Core hurts low-achieving students

Five years after Common Core, a mysterious spike in failure rate among NY high school students
Potential signs of long-lasting problems for low-achieving students

https://hechingerreport.org/five-years-after-common-core-a-mysterious-spike-in-failure-rate-among-ny-high-school-students/

“There’s pretty decent evidence that low performers didn’t do great in the transition to Common Core.” said Polikoff. “Common Core is more conceptual with math. If you don’t have the basics down, and the teacher is teaching in ways that seem more confusing, you could be worse off.”

Nothing *seems* more confusing than things that actually *are* more confusing.

3) Federal Study: States better off without CC

https://thefederalist.com/2019/05/30/federally-funded-study-common-core-sunk-u-s-kids-test-scores/

“Contrary to our expectation, we found that [Common Core] had significant negative effects on 4th graders’ reading achievement during the 7 years after the adoption of the new standards, and had a significant negative effect on 8th graders’ math achievement 7 years after adoption based on analyses of NAEP composite scores,” the Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction and Learning (C-SAIL) preliminary study said.

4) ACT Scores drop even though the College Board made tests easier to match CCSS

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/10/17/math-scores-slide-to-a-20-year-low.html

The newest batch of ACT scores shows troubling long-term declines in performance, with students’ math achievement reaching a 20-year low

5) California’s math disaster

California decimated their incredible math progress by adopting Common Core. Last year I shared the stats from a Hoover Institute study of how they were crushing it helping minorities and low-income kids achieve greater proficiency in algebra by 8th grade. I guess too much success breeds some kind of bigotry so they adopted Common Core to kill the progress. This graph tells the story in a nutshell, but check out the original post for more information.

CA 8th grade drop from CCSS

The power of a profile

This is from a post on Facebook. The author agreed to let me post this if I kept him anonymous. Please read his brief story and then the content after it.

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In the 1980’s and 1990’s I was a political hit man for the Republican Party. I went to state, regional, and many national level training programs to learn campaign management, fund raising, opposition research, psychology, marketing, and social demographic profiling. 

I spent several days in cap stone training in and around the Reagan White House. While there we were shown the events of concern and interest to the US intelligence agencies. Then we went to a room that had multiple TV’s, like a sports bar, and we watched the early, and late news from multiple sources. 

We were asked if any of the events of interest had been reported on TV? No. Then we were shown how each of the major ‘news stories’ that were aired were paid for, provided, and often fabricated by special interest groups – every single story. Even those stories that don’t directly benefit the paying party are purchased in order to detract or just keep the wheels greased for a future needed favor. That was 1988 and I can only imagine where we are today. 

In 1988 I could only handle about 12 social demographic profile points for each targeted voter.
Hunting and fishing permits, gun ownership, college major, employment, union, political donations, non-political donations, credit card spending, property tax payment and challenge history, license, magazine subscriptions, church affiliation, social club affiliation, fraternity membership, military service, self employment, married, parents, age of children, caring for an adult parent, etc.

With that info I could craft pro and con messages that were highly persuasive to each voter, winning 60%+ of the voters in highly Democrat districts – an impossible feat w/o the data I was trained to gather, interpret, and use.

I was so fascinated with the psychology they taught me, that I eventually developed a successful stage hypnosis show to entertain audiences and increase my skill sets.

Today Google, Youtube, Facebook, and others can ID and target thousands of social demographic profile points on each of us. With their massive data and free communications reach for each voter, they can push, conceal, and change messages to impact state and national votes. Research and internal memos suggest, this election, they can and will readily sway 13% of the national presidential vote away from Donald Trump and other “deplorable” Republicans. They will use their monopoly status to rig the elections, and launch themselves into unprecedented positions of power. Imagine being able to get any national official to vote for anything you put in front of them – or else. 

Trump knows all this. He also knows that the Dems were not satisfied with education, media, and social media on their side, they felt they had to use the IRS, NSA and FBI as well. By the grace of God Trump won. He has been taking down the IRS, FBI and NSA mechanism that was weaponized against us. His next step has got to be to neutralize social media. 

Before the 2020 elections Google, FB, and Youtube are likely to be treated by AG Barr as criminal anti-trust monopolies. Timing is the only question for me. Soon would allow the voters to settle back down and forget but might allow the opposition camps to reorganize, or closer to the election which will impact the voters but keep the opposition from getting back on their feet. I will predict a crack down on social media for anti-trust violations around July of 2020.

PS. I am no longer a hit man for the GOP. When I moved to AZ I contacted party leadership, presented my credentials, and was not welcome. McCain had the party locked up and did not want any outside talent. I was glad to be in a conservative state, get some rest, and raise my boys. Now I am no longer able to physically keep pace with a congressional, senate, or governors campaign.

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What does this have to do with the education system? Everything. Our children have no privacy. A handful of data points on them tell officials everything they need to know about what kind of home they come from.

How is this data gathered? All kinds of avenues that we’ve been pointing out for nearly a decade now. Here’s the latest. Last week, Canyon’s school district sent out this letter to comply with parental notification of student screening for behavior.

“Students in need of additional support…might be ‘at-risk’…for behavior and/or social-emotional challenges.”

This is an opt-out item, not opt-in. Parents, please feel free to opt your children out. No behavioral testing should ever be done on students on an opt-out basis. SAGE tests are behavioral and every parent should opt their children out of those as well. The less governmental tracking of citizens, the better. https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/action-list/opt-out-forms/

Second, because of the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Database System), there is far too much information being stored on our children and being shared between agencies opens up all kinds of problems. It’s an invasion of privacy for our children, and families. A few data points tells a lot about our homes and if you don’t know how much data is being recorded or asked for, check out this post exposing the 187 *PAGE* list of data the government wants to collect on Kindergarten to first graders. https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/what-data-is-collected-from-kindergarteners-without-parental-consent/.

Third, storing this information is not safe. A recent news story told of a teenage computer whiz who found a vulnerability in a popular software product used by many schools (https://www.wired.com/story/teen-hacker-school-software-blackboard-follett). The company didn’t take him seriously, so he used their software with the exploit he found to send out a group message to all parents on the system. That got the attention of the school, and the company. :) He was then suspended, but the company finally woke up and paid attention to the exploit. Our children’s behavioral information being stored on school systems will not be secure. Hack after hack proves this.

We live in dangerous times and everyone wants their slice of data to do analysis (translated as: “can I make the statistics say what I want them to say”; political campaign marketing; mass manipulation; etc…). The state of Utah doesn’t event protect adult privacy (https://www.utahstandardnews.com/73785-2). With the proposed red flag laws popping up over recent shooting events identifying people that someone deems might not ought to have access to guns, it’s a very small step to go further down the totalitarian road and use databases of information on the next type of people that government wants to restrict freedom on. As long as it’s done piecemeal, the people unaffected by the next step are less likely to protest. Freedoms will evaporate little by little. We already have Orwell’s ministry of truth run by Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Speech is being restricted and it’s going to be harder to access alternative views.

With the new school year starting, you should seriously homeschool or at least enroll your children at schools that offer alternatives to Common Core and the database scheming. Until public schools stop the madness, you are doing the right thing. You may feel trapped, but I promise you aren’t. Homeschooling isn’t as hard as it seems and a child who misses a year of school, hasn’t missed out on much.

One of my own children petitioned us to homeschool her during one of her middle schools years. Aside from a math textbook, she studied things she chose to study. An outsider from the department of education would have scoffed at her studies that year, but she had time to explore and determine what she had an interest in. It was almost like a sabbatical year. Then she started experimenting with various options available to her and did a blend of things. By the time she was ready for college, she had NO high school diploma, but she had transcripts from a few institutions as well as a list of things she did homeschooling. She wound up with a 4 year, 75% tuition scholarship to college. You don’t need that piece of paper from a high school.

In fact, college is becoming less important as well. If you want more information, plan on attending the 2019 Agency-Based Education conference (10/26 in Bountiful, UT) where you’ll hear Connor Boyack talk about his new book “Skip College” and I’ll be sharing more information about my daughter’s story and what options are available to you.

Hold Onto Your Kids

I’ve had a paradigm shift in my thinking and it’s thanks to learning some core truths about relationships through the work of Gordon Neufeld, PhD and Gabor Mate, M.D. in their book “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers.” The book is easily one of the most important I’ve ever read (listened to) and I strongly encourage it for parents, but especially educators and school board members.

I got this book some months ago on Audible and was planning to listen to it after a few others. I didn’t know the exact nature of the book so I wasn’t highly motivated. Then a friend prevailed on me how good it was. So I started listening. I never knew these things I never knew. Peer-orientation, parental-orientation, “collecting your kids”, etc… I was captivated.

I had no idea that virtually every problem we find in schools is a direct result or strongly correlated to children who have bonded with their peers over their parents. If the family relationships were stronger, and children were properly oriented to their parents, a whole host of issues could go away, or at least be largely brought under control.

Unfortunately, state compulsory education in the name of “helping” ensure children are educated, is a very big barrier to raising well-adjusted children. No surprise. Get this book and you’ll understand the issues, the root of the problem, and solutions for your own family and your community. It’s a paradigm-shifting experience.

It starts when children are separated from parents at a young age. The benefits of state “daycare” in schools, or even worse, putting your children into pre-school, is debilitating to them. What happens is children who are suddenly taken away from their source of connection to the world (parents) must now form attachments to others without knowing whose in charge. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels spike and they need to find new attachments during that period of stress. They have to form a pecking order of their own. It’s literally a mini “Lord of the Flies” scenario where someone will assert themselves as the leader (boss/bully) and become more aggressive to take that role. The formation of peer attachments CREATES aggression. Time after time.

Want to solve bullying at school? It won’t be solved through anti-bullying programs. Increase parental attachment to their children and make the role models for children steady adults they trust and the problems largely solve themselves.

Why are children acting out sexually? Why do they remain immature as they age? Why are they getting increasingly competitive? It’s all aspects of peer-oriented children.

When parents want their children to get socialization by spending hours at school every day, then homework takes over and kids have hardly any time with family, we are destroying the relationship between parents and children that would allow those children to become mature adults.

The theory that kids need school to learn socialization skills is a myth. Those skills come from proper parental-orientation, observation of parents in socialization situations, and mimicking mature adults instead of immature kids.

This isn’t to say kids can’t play together and socialize, but we need to suppress peer-orientation and increase parental orientation. The book has chapters with suggestions on how to course correct and bring your children back.

The most important thing a child can have in their lives is a loving connection to parents where they know that even when they make a mistake, there is someone there to love them and encourage them. We all know school children can’t give that behavior and won’t. They mock and torment the weak and laugh at those who make mistakes. The successful are pulled down such that they don’t want to be too successful lest anyone feel hurt that they didn’t succeed in doing something.

Another major problem with peer oriented kids is they suppress their creativity and curiosity. They don’t want to stand out lest one of their friends feel bad. Having a strong parental orientation helps solve this as parents want them to succeed and encourage their creativity and success

Preschooled children start schooling stronger than homeschooled children, but homeschooled children finish stronger because they’ve been allowed to mature in a loving way and weren’t pushed into learning too early and fast while separated from their parents (which creates peer oriented kids). The advantages of preschool are largely temporary. The push to have super smart kids by stressing them out with rigorous programs and encouraging “grit” is a big mistake.

If you want well-adjusted, mature, smart kids, make sure the parental orientation is solid, and ensure they have relationships with other adults who can be mentors for them. The notion that kids need school to learn socialization is a lie. The facts are, kids learn to get along with each other by modeling well adjusted adults who interact with other adults and other children. Take a bigger interest in your children’s friends and build relationships with them… Your relationship with them might just be a factor in how they influence your child.

There’s really so much here that destroys much of the prevailing thought on schooling it’s a must-read.

By posting this, someone out there is seeing this as a way to get government into the home to “check up and make sure the parental orientation bond is in place.” That’s already happening and was part of ESSA to come into the home. https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/essa-invades-your-home/. Government is the source of problems, not solutions. If you want real solutions, they are where they have always been, but now more than ever for me. They’re in the home.

What I hope school board members get out of this is that we need to stop with the lies that kids have to be taught early and pushed to excel. There were a couple books written a few decades ago by Raymond and Dorothy Moore (“Better Late than Early” is one) that showed that children should be started later in school, like around age 8, so that they have time to properly bond with parents and not be thrust out of the home before they are ready to leave. They turn out better as human beings and they lose nothing in the way of being behind in school.

For those of you that worry about such an approach, we took this with our son. We read to him but didn’t force him to do “school” work. By the time he was 8 and I saw his peers reading and my son wasn’t, I started to panic thinking he was getting behind. My wife calmed me down and said she’d spoken with other homeschoolers who also took such an agency-based approach to letting kids determine when they were ready, and things would turn out OK. Later that year, he suddenly decided to start reading and within a few months shot right past “grade level” material and just kept going. It was amazing to watch happen. It’s a lie that children will fall behind if they don’t do things on a timetable such as state standards suggest. Those state standards can really mess with children either stressing them beyond what they’re ready for, or holding them back when they are ready to forge ahead.

After listening to this book, I now understand much better why John Taylor Gatto said public schools delay adulthood and extend childhood. I think if parents properly understood what’s happening to their children, they would look much stronger at homeschooling (which is way easier than you think, and way safer for your children), or find other alternatives to the regular public schools children attend. There are some great, creative alternatives to normal every day schooling that treats children with respect and as adults.

Here’s some resources:

Get the book: “Hold Onto Your Kids”

https://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/037550821X

https://www.audible.com/pd/Hold-On-to-Your-Kids-Audiobook/B07FK86WVC

Homeschooling: If you’ve contemplated it but don’t think you can do it, watch these resources. Once you start and see the improvement in your children’s behavior and really connect with them (as they become more parent-oriented), you’ll wish you’d started sooner.

https://www.agencybasededucation.org/options/homeschooling/

There are loads of resources for homeschoolers that you can find online, and there are even schools that cater to homeschool parents.

Dr. Neufeld has lots of clips and even full presentations on YouTube. Here’s a TEDx talk he gave. https://youtu.be/YjfpGGOGDCo

Addendum: May 10, 2019: A recent study from Harvard Medical School confirms that as of 2016, more than 5% of American children are taking some medication for ADHD. One reason is they found that children born in August where a school based age cutoff of September 1st was used, have a 30% greater chance of eventually receiving a diagnosis of ADHD. In other words, the young children we are sending to school are not emotionally ready to be stripped from their families and become agitated and restless. In some states they’ve lowered the age of compulsory education to age 4, and some are considering mandatory pre-school at age 3. This is a disturbing and alarming trend (along with massive misdiagnosis of ADHD). We are damaging children by putting them into school too young and by mandating standards that aren’t developmentally appropriate. I started kindergarten in Pennsylvania when I was 4. The curriculum was having the teacher read to us, finger paint, play with blocks, and have no homework. Today kindergartners are expected to read. That’s total nonsense to put it politely. Keep your children home longer, read to them, and seriously consider homeschooling or private schooling where their environment is more nurturing to their soul. Protect your children from emotionally damaging effects of separation, as well as the indoctrination, safety issues, and nonsense that takes place at school.

(Photo Credit: Gennadiy Poznyakov @ 123RF.com)

Student Indoctrination and Shaming in Provo S.D.

Want to see how social justice and leftist indoctrination works in public schools? Look no farther than “conservative” Provo, Utah. Think all is well in “Happy Valley”? Think this stuff only happens in California? Think again. It’s all over Utah (yes, you can read that sentence two ways).

I think it’s time to fire some teachers and find alternatives to sending your children to schools where their minds and values are warped and parents rights ignored and denigrated. Failure to act means the next generation just continues the slide toward social justice and socialism.

The stories below are from one parent with children at different schools and from multiple teachers. “Oh but surely MY children are just fine.” Ask your children what things are really like at their school. Do teachers engage in these kinds of behaviors? Those are teachers that don’t deserve the title. This isn’t teaching. They need replaced by people who don’t twist minds, lie to students, ignore parental desires, and coerce behavior. Schools are to be a support to families per state law. Instead, we have teachers engaging in child abuse.

If the system can’t police itself, which it clearly can’t, then something needs to change including allowing for punishments for teachers who violate basic principles like these stories illustrate.  This has been going on for years all across the state with teachers violating various laws as documented on this site and others. They never suffer more than a wrist slap unless they get caught doing something severe. Reshaping of minds through social justice techniques is clearly allowed because who wants to punish a teacher, right?

How can legislators be so blind as to not see the negative consequences that are going to come from passage of HB 118 this past session where teachers will now have the state sanctioned power to “incentivize” taking state standardized tests? Unbelievable.

Story 1 – this isn’t teaching

“Recently, my 6th grader was telling me about how they were discussing global warming in their, “science,” class and how man is destroying the planet, resources are being used up and time is running out to an inevitable apocalyptic end of life as we know it if drastic measures aren’t taken to reverse the damage we, humanity, have Done to mother Gaia!

I asked my son if the teacher had said anything about sun spots and the cyclical temperature changes the planet has been going through for as long as recorded history has been recording temperatures? He said, “NO WAY!”

I asked why not and he said, “Are you kidding… you DO NOT disagree with the teacher or you will be in BIG trouble!”

I again asked him, why not? His great-grandfather happens to be a world renowned climatologist who taught at UC Boulder among other major universities during his career and invented complex weather tracking/prediction models. His GGF would laugh out loud when would hear people going on about, “Manmade Global Warming”.  He would say things like, “These idiots think our polar ice caps are melting because of SUVs and Hummers. Well how the hell do they explain the ice caps on Mars melting at a relatively similar rate to ours? Last I checked the only vehicles on mars were electric and there is only one!” He would often talk about solar flares and how they would affect cyclical warming and cooling periods around the solar system depending upon the frequency and extremity of the solar flares happening on the surface of the sun. He would also comment on the level of hubris ,”these idiots must have to think they are significant enough to actually have an impact and make a difference either way.”

My son has heard me talk about these examples before but still wanted to stay out of it. He began to recount a recent example of when another student had been so bold as to offer an opposing position on the, “settled science”, and he was called out into the hall to be chastised by both of the 6th grade home room teachers while both classes watched  through the glass doors. Message sent, loud and clear! Dissenting points of view are not allowed… or at least that is what the perception of the students is at this point. “Perception is reality”, or so the saying goes.

My other son in 8th grade overheard this exchange and seconded the notion that it is not ok to offer an opinion on the issue other than what the teacher presents. He said that he too was going through similar classroom experiences at the middle school.”

[Oak note: Independent thinking not allowed. Both sides of an argument not being presented. This is being taught what to think, not how to think.]

Story 2 – the lies they tell

“My 8th grader was in class the other day when one of the RISE Civics tests were handed out. Everyone was taking the test except my son (who was opted out) so after all the tests were handed out, the teacher walked over to his desk and began to tell him in a voice loud enough for the whole class to hear, that she knew his parents didn’t want him to take the test, but that if he didn’t, he would not be able to graduate high school or even be able to get an associates degree.

She proceeded to list all the things he would be missing out on, which made him feel very uncomfortable in front of his peers and worry about all the negative connotations mentioned if he didn’t take the test. So much so, that he took it, even though we had exempted him previously; Verbally and in writing, to the Principle, office staff and the teacher.

Think about the message sent to all the other students who were witnessing this exchange.

This teacher acted in direct defiance of the parents wishes, publicly shamed and emotionally manipulated a minor in front his peers and violated the current state law relative to the situation.”

[Oak’s comments]

Here’s where you get information on opting your child out of state standardized tests.

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/opt-out-guiding-document/

https://schools.utah.gov/assessment (click parental exclusion and you’ll see the form. There are only 2 tests required: a civics test is required for graduation; and a CTE test is required for specific certification. No state tests are required for elementary or middle school. This teacher obviously knew that and knew this test had no bearing on college degrees. She clearly lied and manipulated this student and should be forced to apologize to the class and explain that she lied and manipulated the situation. She SHOULD be forced to do that, but will it happen? Doubtful. Administrators wouldn’t want to lessen teacher “authority” to the class, but it’s OK to destroy parental authority.)

Story 3 – Social justice and law breaking

“All year, I have been hearing about agenda based, framed questions from my son’s 8th grade English teacher about the, “undocumented immigrants” and the horrible things that are being done to them and constantly going on about how unfair their plight is and how we are doing nothing to help them to get to a better life, etc, etc, etc. I am sure you can imagine all the angles and ways that a teacher in that position, with a captive audience for the entire school year could cover such platitudes. As a side note, this is not the same teacher that has been going on about Global Warming that I mentioned before, that was the science teacher. That teacher just had them do an essay on, “What do you find alarming about Global Warming?” [Oak note: just the title of this assignment is indoctrinating and taking sides.]

Back to English class, he was recently given an assignment to come up with a plan to aid and abet the effort to help illegal aliens cross into the USA. Here is the assignment in his own words. 

‘We had to respond to the question, “What can I do to help immigrants get across the border of the United States of America?” Then, for the assignment, we had to come up with some type of physical object and a plan on what we can execute to succeed in that motive.

It was sort of like a project. We had to build a poster and respond to other related questions like, “What is our solution to this problem, why will it work and how are we going to do it?

Then we had to create a physical object that went with our plan, such as a legislative bill that we would propose, a website or an app or something that in some way correlates to the issue and our solution to it.’

So now, instead of just promoting the breaking of laws by the illegal immigrants, we are apparently getting into training on political activism and breaking the laws ourselves through criminal conspiracy and misprision? I mean, is this not disturbing?”

End Notes

1) Where is the legislator that will protect families and American culture? It’s clearly time for civil punishments where the school systems can’t or won’t monitor and police themselves.

2) I have a daughter attending a Utah college right now on a scholarship who doesn’t have a high school diploma or GED, and solely got that from her ACT score, single page homeschool transcript that showed what she did for four years prior to college, and transcript from an online charter school where she took some classes. Your children can get by just fine without local public schools or they can selectively dual-enroll and just take classes that suit them and homeschool for the rest without the indoctrination. Homeschooling is growing rapidly in Utah and with stories like these it’s not hard to see why. Click here for more information:

https://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/dual-enrolling-your-child/

https://www.agencybasededucation.org/options/homeschooling/ (Is homeschooling right for your family?)

What Kinds of Human Beings Do We Wish to Produce?

Reprinted from Wendy Hart’s blog: https://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/10/what-kinds-of-human-beings-do-we-wish.html

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

The most controversial issues of the twenty-first century will pertain to the ends and means of modifying human behavior and who shall determine them. The first educational question will not be ‘what knowledge is of the most worth?’ but ‘what kinds of human beings do we wish to produce?’ The possibilities virtually defy our imagination.” –John GoodladThe most controversial issues of the twenty-first century will pertain to the ends and means of modifying human behavior and who shall determine them. The first educational question will not be 'what knowledge is of the most worth?' but 'what kinds of human beings do we wish to produce?' The possibilities virtually defy our imagination. - John Goodlad

There are so many buzzwords in education these days: 21st Century Learning, Social-emotional Learning (SEL), GRIT, the 4-C’s (or the 6-C’s), Response to Intervention, Critical Thinking, STEM, Project-based learning, Guide-on-the-side, Engineering Design Model, Workforce, etc. etc. etc.  It’s hard to keep up with them all or even understand what they all mean.

Social Emotional Learning or SEL first really made its appearance (from my perspective) in the Federal re-authorization of No Child Left Behind, called ESSA.  In additional to academic measures, the Feds want us to use “non-cognitive” measures to assess how well schools are doing.  It came to prominence with a focus on GRIT, and a TED talk by a professor who wrote a book on the subject.  Now SEL is everywhere.  The idea is that kids should learn, not just academics, but the skills and dispositions to be successful in the workforce (aka the 21st Century because human nature magically shifted in 2001, I guess).  So, the purpose of schools has shifted from basic academics to creating a comprehensive person.  The only problem is whose vision of that “correct human being” is being implemented?  And is that really what we want from public education?  Who should determine what kind of human being your child should become?  Who is the “we” in ‘what kinds of human beings do we wish to produce’?  (Does the word produce come across as a bit creepy to anyone else?)

On one hand, I can appreciate and understand that we want kids to be well-rounded, kind-hearted, honest, and sympathetic.  On the other, what is the purpose of public schools?  Well that goes back to the age-old debate.  Everyone thinks of it as something different, and way back when, our district mission statement included “democracy” as the purpose of schools.  I disagree.  I think for public schools, the purpose should be academic excellence.  Everything else, should be left to the individual child and his/her family. That’s not to say that teachers don’t teach, especially by example, kindness and honesty.  They do.  But that’s just part of being a good human being, right?  When we focus on dispositions, we necessarily remove our focus from reading, writing, and [a]rithmetic. Supposedly, we are doing both academics (what we are calling the Right Side of the Pyramid) as well as SEL (the Left Side of the Pyramid).  Our goal should be to educate, not to tell you what the purpose of that education is supposed to be.

The other problem I see, is who decides what the appropriate dispositions are for our children to possess?  And what are those definitions?  I’ve found, too often, sadly, that when someone uses a word that sounds good, their meaning may be completely different from my own.

In Alpine, we are focused on the 6 C’s (4 of which are borrowed from the 21st Century Learning 4 C’s).  They are: Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Character, Citizenship.  All sound great.  But what of the child who is introverted and Collaboration means lots of group-work projects?  She might do very well academically IF she’s allowed to work alone, but in a group?  Not so much.  She is learning that she must go along with the group, and the knowledge she gains isn’t as important as the “collaboration” with others.  It also puts young children in a very difficult position if they disagree with how something is going or what is being said.  Citizenship: what kinds of student advocacy do you want your child engaged in?  What if those citizenship perspectives differ from those of your family?  And Critical Thinking (also known as Higher-order thinking) has at least one definition in education that I would whole-heartedly disagree with.

“…a student attains ‘higher order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong”. “A large part of what we call good teaching is a teacher´s ability to obtain affective [emotional] objectives by challenging the student’s fixed beliefs. …a large part of what we call teaching is that the teacher should be able to use education to reorganize a child’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.” —Benjamin Bloom

In short, it’s wrong to be rewarding personality types instead of the knowledge that every child is capable of acquiring.  It’s also wrong to possibly, modify a child’s thoughts, attitudes and feelings, not through reason and the discovery of truth but by using emotional objectives to challenge their ‘fixed beliefs’, those beliefs instilled in them by their families.

If you agree with this shift, then you will be pleased.  If not, you may want to speak up about this dilution of academics with dispositions.

SAGE gets renamed and Utah’s waiver denial

Utah’s state board has just awarded an $80 million contract over 10 years to Pearson and Questar Assessment Inc. to replace the SAGE test that has been used for the past few years. The new tests will be RISE for grades 3-8 and Utah Aspire Plus for grades 9-10.

News article here: https://www.ksl.com/?sid=46336942&nid=148

Those in attendance at this meeting report that this line in the KSL article is really key to this change.

“USBE officials say the new Aspire test is a hybrid between the current Utah Core test questions and the ACT.”

People in attendance at the meeting confirmed that the discussion seemed clear that current Utah Core test questions on SAGE (which the state spent millions creating) would be included in the new tests as part of the test bank.

Wendy Hart mentioned on Facebook that “the former Asst Supt of testing told school board members a few years ago that the main reason they were seriously considering replacing SAGE with Aspire was due to the name recognition of ACT and the hope that parents would find that less toxic than SAGE.”

Compounding this problem is the recent news that Utah’s application to receive a waiver for our high opt-out rate from SAGE has been denied by the feds. You can read the brief letter here:

USED Waiver Denial Letter

The letter specifically mentions Title 1 funds require states to hold “all students to the same State-determined challenging academic standards and annually measures whether students have learned the content those standards demand.” This is why a state standardized test is forced upon students and schools and administrators pressure parents to participate.

As previously pointed out, the amount of funds we get from the feds for Title 1 and special ed total $100 million. In exchange for that money (which they received from us in the first place) they hold our entire state education system hostage.

The letter closes with the need for Utah to “[incentivize] schools to encourage participation of their students in the assessments.”

What this means is over the next year, there may be a push to do away with parental opt-out rights and get parents comfortable with a new test name so they won’t opt out as they have been.

In public comments to the state board, Wendy Hart shared these excellent thoughts.


I am speaking on the denial of the ESSA waiver and ask you to defend Utah’s opt out provision.  The right of parents to direct their own child’s education is protected in Utah law.  But that right is not granted by the State of Utah.  It is merely protected by the laws of our state.  As such, those rights are not rights elected officials can choose to remove at the request of the US Government.

The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  In a 1982, Utah Supreme Court ruling, Justice Dallin H. Oaks stated:  “The rights inherent in family relationships…are the most obvious examples of rights retained by the people.  They are “natural,” “intrinsic,” or “prior” in the sense that our Constitutions presuppose them..” Utah Code says: A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role…

Our current opt out provision is consistent with natural rights and our state and federal constitutions.  We stand on solid, legal grounds.  ESSA is a voluntary grant program from the federal government.  They have no legal right to require parents to not opt their kids out of SAGE testing.  And the Department of Ed will never know, see, or care about the students who are harmed by this policy.  The State of Utah has the solemn DUTY to protect and preserve those parental rights.  And yet, at the point that the Feds offer money and ask us to circumvent those natural rights, should we go ahead and do so?  If ESSA were not a voluntary grant, but were instead legally binding on the state of Utah, it would be declared unconstitutional.  Instead, the US Department of Education can bribe Utahns to give up our state sovereignty and the natural rights of our citizens because they offer a caveat of money if we “choose” to comply. If we agree, we “choose” to remove some of the fundamental rights we each swore an oath to protect.

In that same ruling, Justice Oaks explains: “We conclude that the right of a parent not to be deprived of parental rights without a showing of unfitness, abandonment, or substantial neglect is …so basic to our constitutional order that it ranks among those rights referred to in …the [Utah and the] United States Constitution as being retained by the people.”

With a single vote by this body, in exchange for monetary compensation, parents throughout the state of Utah can be deprived of their parental rights without due process, without showing unfitness or substantial neglect.

We all know from past experience that the US Department of Ed is playing a game of political “chicken”.  They are hoping we will back down.  How can they justify penalizing the State of Utah because we are protecting parental rights and fulfilling our oaths to support the US Constitution and the unalienable rights it was designed to protect?  Please stand strong and tell the US Department of Education they must reconsider.  Inform them you are unable to violate the rights of the people you swore an oath to protect.


I strongly agree with Wendy’s statement.

A motion was made and passed at the state board to ask for a 1 year reprieve on the 95% of students must take the test rule. No idea how the feds will react, but Utah must preserve parental rights, and we must get the feds out of the education of our children.

 

California, a Case Study in how Common Core Decimates Math Progress

A few years ago, Rep. Dana Layton was running a bill on our behalf to remove Common Core from Utah. The day it was to be presented in committee, she let us know that there had been some changes to the bill. Instead of the bill removing Common Core, some members of the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had convinced her to change the bill to a parent review committee over standards. An absolutely worthless bill that unfortunately passed.

I found myself appointed to the elementary math education committee and knew others appointed to the secondary math, science, art, and other committees. Unanimously, our experience was similar across all subjects. We weren’t there for our input.

The bill contained language that the parent committees were to have support from USOE staff to assist in the meetings with whatever the parent committees needed. Instead, USOE members showed up at the meetings and took charge of them, squelching dissenting views.

For example, in my meeting, I took advantage of a moment when one USOE director left the room to pass out a 3-page summary I had prepared of California’s incredible success with it’s math standards and program which over the course of a decade had more than tripled the number of students taking algebra 1 by 8th grade. The really awesome thing about this, was minority groups had a 5-6x increase in proficiency, showing they were narrowing the achievement gap. I wanted to have a discussion about adopting CA’s Green Dot standards and replacing Common Core (since this was to be a “parent” review committee and not a USOE review committee).

During my brief run at trying to introduce this topic, this USOE member returned and immediately announced this was not why we had gathered and we were just going to review the K-6 Common Core standards to make tweaks to them such as determining if one standard belonged in a certain grade or a different one. Nothing major was to change or be discussed.

What this bill did was give the state office of education all the cover they desired for the changes (or non-changes) they wanted to make to the standards. Now they could implement Common Core standards in any subject and say, “the parent review committee passed off on it” (a good portion of the members of the committees were actually appointed by them and had worked with them for years).

This horrible law needs repealed.

Now on to California’s incredible success which I posted about in 2014 on this page:

Solution: Utah should adopt California’s math standards

As this graph shows, California was having massive success in getting more students prepared for algebra 1 by 8th grade.

California's math progress

Now the Hoover Institute has published a research paper on what has happened in California since Common Core has taken over.

The article is here:

https://www.hoover.org/research/californias-common-core-mistake

This graph of student taking algebra 1 by 8th grade says it all. California’s upward climb from their Green Dot standards was working so well, getting students ready for algebra 1 by 8th grade so they could be on track to take calculus by 12th grade, then the Common Core hammer dropped and decimated student achievement.

CA 8th grade drop from CCSSThis incredible drop in students crossed all demographics.

CA minority groupsThe effects damaged the amount of students taking AP calculus exams, hitting the Black community hardest when they were having the biggest increase in takers from the prior standards.

I don’t think this is the social justice outcome the creators of Common Core were hoping for.

This article by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, just published in the New Boston Post, further asks the question if Common Core is racist since Massachusetts also experienced a decline in achievement from it’s Black and Hispanic minority groups under Common Core. It is a second witness to the ill-effects of federal education programs and the consolidation of education into one-size-fits-all programs.

http://newbostonpost.com/2018/05/09/is-common-core-racist-check-out-the-results/

The best thing California and Massachusetts could do for their children is to scrap Common Core and return to the strong education standards they had prior to Bill Gates’ billion-dollar education experiment. Maybe a “class” action suit is in order for all those children whose hopes and dreams have been sent to detention…

What works? Local control and greater freedom for families to do what they know is best for their children. To state legislators and board members, PLEASE, STOP THE EXPERIMENTS!

New Opt-Out Guiding Document

Opt out of common core tests

I was recently sent this document by a teacher who wanted to ensure the public received this information. It was expressed that the below document was recently sent to all LEA’s by Diana Suddreth at the Utah state office of education, regarding rules for handling assessment opt-outs at local schools. Coloration and markings below are from the document.

I am grateful the state office in conjunction with the state board has prepared this document. Hopefully this will clear up some issues parents have had in dealing with their local schools.

********************

Guiding Document – Administration
R277-404

On January 4, 2018 the Utah State Board of Education amended R277-404, which opened a 30-day public comment period on February 1, 2018. One of the amendment reads, “In accordance with Subsection 53G-15-1403(1)(a), an LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to allow a student’s demonstration of proficiency on a state required assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course.”

In addition to this change, several other requirements/restrictions related to the use of statewide assessment results are in Board rule or state statute. These include:

Utah Code 53E-4-303: (This law applies only to statewide assessments in grades 3-8, however R277-404-6(a)(i) prohibits the use of a statewide assessment score to determine the student’s academic grade, or a portion of the student’s academic grade in any grade.)

(4) A student’s score on the standards assessment adopted under Subsection (2) may not be considered in determining:

(a) the student’s academic grade for a course; or

(b) whether the student may advance to the next grade level.

In addition, Board Rule R277-404-7 states:

(3)(b) An LEA may not penalize a student who is exempted from a state required assessment

(8) An LEA may not reward a student for a student’s participation in or performance on a state required assessment (as amended)

Utah Code 53G-6-803 Parental right to academic accommodations includes the following statement: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian. This statute also grants parents, among other rights, the “right to reasonable academic accommodations from the student’s LEA” and “shall allow a student to earn course credit towards high school graduation without completing a course in school by testing out of the course; or demonstrating competency in course standards.” It is in consideration of this statute that the USBE passed the amendment to R277-404.

How should teachers respond to the amendment to R277-404?

Teachers should consider how these changes can support the learning objectives for their students. In their considerations, teachers must not do the following:

a. Use a statewide assessment to reward or punish a student (R277-404-7(7).
b. Allow a statewide assessment score to have a negative impact on the student’s academic grade (R277-404-7(8).
c. Penalize a student for participating in the Parent Exclusion provision (R277-404-7(3)(b).
d. Independent of the parent or guardian, use the demonstrated proficiency of a student on a statewide assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course (r277-404-6(1)(c).

Teachers should also remember that R277-404 provides the following guidance related to Parental Exclusion from Testing. Schools and teachers must allow the following:

a. A parent the right to exempt their child from a state required assessment (R277-404-7(3)(a).
b. Accept the Parental Exclusion form provided by USBE or one created by the LEA (R277-404-7(4)(c).
c. May contact a parent to verify that the parent submitted the exclusion form (R277-404-7(5)(a).
d. Cannot require a parent to meet with a school official regarding their associated request (R277-404-7(5)(b).
e. Shall ensure a student that has been exempted from participating in the statewide assessment is provided an alternative learning experience (R277-404-5(9)
f. May allow an exempted student to be physically present in the room during test administration (R277-404-5(10).

(Click here to view Utah’s parental rights law passed in 2015)