All posts by Oak Norton

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. (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: (Is homeschooling right for your family?)

What Kinds of Human Beings Do We Wish to Produce?

Reprinted from Wendy Hart’s blog:


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:

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:

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.

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

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)

1:1 Technology – Perceptions by a parent and teacher

1:1 Computer Learning[Editor: In order to protect the identify of this parent, she has asked that I not reveal her name or school. If you are a legislator and would like to speak with her, contact me and I can arrange it.]

“He isn’t learning how to write, he has learned how to beat the system and is rewarded constantly for it.”

I’m a mother of 3 children that use to attend a local elementary in Utah. When the school was built they used much of the money for technology and have since received a few technology grants as well. It is one of the most technologically advanced elementary schools in the state. I am a former teacher and was so excited for my kids to attend here. I was very excited for the technology that was going to be available to my kids, that is once they got to the magic 3rd grade. My oldest, who will be in 5th grade for the 2017-2018 school year, is highly advanced for his age. He taught himself how to read with very few lessons from me, did Upstart at a 1st grade level at age 4, almost completed the whole program through 2nd grade, and currently reads on a 10th grade reading level. I never wanted my son to attend public school because they don’t have enough programs and things set up for kids like him, even in the gifted and talented program which he was accepted into as a 1st grader. I thought that our neighborhood school would be great because all we had to do was get him to that magic grade, 3rd grade, and he would get a netbook and could be challenged. Third grade when his peers would finally catch up and start reading to learn, not learning to read. Kindergarten through second grade was rough keeping him interested in learning but with the help of his teacher’s and my willingness to create activities for him to do at school he did all right. We finally made it to 3rd grade and he got his netbook. Then I began noticing a few things.

First of all, I could email my son at any time during the day and he would respond within an hour or so. His 3rd grade teacher was surprised when she received an email from him one day when she was at a training and the sub couldn’t figure something out. We would email a research paper back a forth for a Martin Luther King contest the district held. I wasn’t really needed in his classroom and I didn’t see many papers coming home, which kind of bothered me but I had another child in school so most of my focus was on getting her caught up because she is slower to learn. I definitely noticed a difference in how things worked. Then I began to worry because if my second child didn’t bring home assignments for me to look at and go over with her she wouldn’t have the same success she had been having but we stayed because it was good.

January of 2017 a Standard examiner article came out saying that our school would now be doing Fusion Learning. We hadn’t heard a thing from our very involved principal, and I had just finished serving my second year as PTA president and usually knew what was going on at the school.  I was there 3-5 days a week either volunteering or taking care of PTA something, but knew nothing of this new program that was to change my children’s lives drastically by reducing the number of teachers at the school with a student teacher ratio of 1:45. That is 2 teachers for every 90 kids and 1 full time aid. I began doing research on this new program and found out it was essentially having the computer teach the kids math and reading for 2 hours a day and the kids would do small group projects with the teachers. One teacher would monitor those on the computer along with the tutor if they weren’t needed with the project based learning, and if kids were struggling with a concept they’d pull those few kids into a small group and teach a lesson then send them back to the computers to get the answers right this time. My oldest was not in 4th grade and I hadn’t realized it yet but his class was piloting the program for the school.

I started looking at the consequences of having kids on the computers so much. The American Pediatrics gives a recommendation of so many hours of electronics time that varies by age, but none of that includes time on computers at school. Why? I found articles saying it could cause psychological issues, could aggravate ADHD, narratives showing that kids were learning to manipulate the computers but weren’t really learning the content or improving their skills. So many articles showing how this was most likely a bad experiment and that honestly we wouldn’t know what it was going to do to the kids long term until this group of kids grows up.

I started paying attention to what my then 4th, 3rd, and 1st graders brought home from school. My 1st grader brought home huge stacks of work each week, my 3rd and 4th graders brought home very little. I, their mom, was slowly being cut out of an important part of their day because I couldn’t see what they were learning, ask them questions, or see how they were doing with their studies and help them gain a better understanding of the concepts they weren’t fully understanding.

I noticed that my 4th grader, the child that has never needed help, needed help on the math homework. At first I scolded him for not paying attention in class, but when it kept happening I asked another parent if she was having the same problems. She said yes, so I knew it wasn’t just my son. I asked him what are you doing during math lessons, what is your teacher doing? He said she corrected papers and called a few kids to do small group things. He at the time, was hardly in these small groups. He was given a list of websites to go to and was to complete the tasks there. The homework didn’t have anything to do with what he was learning on the computers because it went with the districts brand new math program they had just written, which is why he couldn’t complete some of the problems on his own. I asked the teacher why he was struggling and her response was that she wanted her students to have to struggle a little bit as they learn, but this was different for my son. I’m totally fine with him struggling with difficult questions but he wasn’t able to do the basics because he wasn’t being taught on paper, he was being taught by a computer.

I noticed that he had learned how to beat the computer, especially when it came to Utah Compose, and was praised continually for it. Every once in a while he would email me something he had written into Utah compose that he’d gotten a high score on. His writing wasn’t great, definitely not what I would expect from him. His ideas were all over the place but he’s being told by a computer that he is amazing so he didn’t want to listen to me when I’d say this is good but if you put like sentences together you’d make more sense, or ask what does this sentence mean? Why is it here? He told me shortly after starting to use Utah Compose, as a 3rd grader, that to get a high score all he needed to do was use big words, proper grammar, commas, and have long sentences. He isn’t learning how to write, he has learned how to beat the system and is rewarded constantly for it.

I then started paying more attention to the few math quizzes that did come home. He’d missed a few questions so I asked him to come explain them to me. This was after he told me that he had completed 4th grade math 5 weeks before the school year ended and shortly before the principal of the school showed me a video of him working on a Minecraft area project for math instead of normal math lessons. The question he had missed was labeling a right angle. I asked him what angle it was. He said I don’t know. So I said remember acute, obtuse, right, and asked him to define each for me. He started with right and said a right triangle has 3 right angles. He became upset when I gave him a funny look and asked him to draw that for me. A response like that I would totally understand from my second child but not from him. It’s very out of character. I said well how many right angles can a triangle have. He responded 3.

I spoke with another parent who told me that with his job he sees things like that all the time. People are learning to beat the computers but aren’t really learning the material. He said if you want to see what a kid is really learning you need to give them a paper test, and as a former teacher I completely agree. There is a science to how kids answer questions. You can learn more about what they know by how they answer the question rather than the answer its self. He said if they really wanted to know how well kids were doing with the computer tests they needed to give kids a computer test then give them the exact same test on paper and see what happens. My son could answer questions on the computer but he couldn’t do it on paper because it takes different skills and he was being set up to fail when he reached Jr. High because in the Jr. High and High Schools computers aren’t used in the classrooms as frequently as they are being used in the elementary.

We recently had to get him a new glasses prescription. The eye doctor was shocked at how much his eyes had changed. It has taken me over 2 years to realize that it was probably because of all the computer time at the school during 3rd grade. Now that he has finished 4th grade I’m wondering if his eyes will be even worse.

Toward the end of the school year my 1st grader would come home extremely agitated and I couldn’t figure out why. Was someone picking on him at school, was something else dangerous going on? Little things, like asking him to put his backpack away, would send him into major fits which usually resulted in an object being thrown. I’m pretty sure he has ADHD and I have noticed at home that the more computer time he had the more explosive his behavior would become. He had not yet met that magic 3rd grade when he would get to use the 1:1 computers so that being the cause of his bad behavior never crossed my mind, or so I thought. Without my knowledge the first grade had been using computer programs, such as IXL, for the last half hour of class every day. I only discovered this after I told his teacher that my children would not be returning to the same school next year due to the usage of technology in the classrooms. She asked me to explain why because I had been one of the major supporters at the school. I told her how explosive my 1st grader became when he was exposed to electronics for long periods of time and that I was concerned for him when he did reach 3rd grade and that I was seeing other problems with my older kids. She then made some comment about how they had been using computers for the last little while for the last part of the day. I said that explains a lot about why he is coming home so agitated. Her response was “really, just a half hour at the end of the day causes that?” Yes, just a half an hour caused him to become easily upset at home. He had been overstimulated so even just the simplest tasks became incredibly frustrating for him.

I have since become a homeschool mom and am now seeing more damage that was caused by computer based learning. My children attend a distance charter school program and are required to take a grade level test quarterly. My oldest who was reading chapter books in kindergarten has been praised like crazy for doing mediocre work. Utah Compose told him his writing was amazing and now when I tell him it needs some work we have constant melt downs. My second, when she gets on the computer to take a test she immediately shuts down and won’t even work through the problems with me. Her basic math skills are almost non-existent, I put part of the blame on Common Core because she was never required to memorized her facts, just understand them. She can explain to me very nicely what a multiplication problem is but she can’t tell me what 6×7 is.  This makes division, a major 4th grade math concept, incredibly difficult. We’ve had to take a major step back, almost a full grade level math wise to catch the things she didn’t master when she was using computers as a major part of her learning. She doesn’t learn on computers. She has had so many negative experiences trying to learn on computers in the past she can’t even handle the required tests with me right there and crumbles when she sees the scores. My third knows that he can just click through problems on the computer and get incorrect answers then be done. He hates learning on the computer. It requires a lot of sitting which is very difficult for a normal 7 year old, let alone a 7 year old with ADHD. If any learning is to be done on the computers, and because of our experience last year we use very little, my kids don’t handle it well. Currently computers and technology are strictly for play or research if we can’t get to the library. Some of that play may include learning but it is still just play. It’s become a mess that I am slowly cleaning up. It’s a very long process. We aren’t even learning to type because it caused too many tantrums and anxiety on children whose only concern should be scraped knees, playing basketball, and learning to ride a bike. They now see a computer test and immediately believe they are horrible and will fail.

When I told the principal I was taking my kids out and sending them to a charter school he said that he had just come out of a meeting with some of the biggest CEO’s. They said they don’t hire people from Utah because we don’t have the computer skills needed. They said 1:1 computers should have happened in elementary 10 years ago.

There are so many opportunities to learn how to use computers. What we really need are people who can solve unique problems in a creative manner and by giving kids the same education and searching for box answers we aren’t going to get that. We need kids who can think outside the box. We need kids who have been kids that had an imagination, where they actually had to create something out of sticks, Legos, actually entertain themselves for more than 15 minutes, kids who have read a variety of books and gone on a million adventures. I went from one of the most supportive parents when it came to technology in the schools, to one now that won’t use it with my own children. I have seen the damage it can do and you don’t know what it will do until the damage has been done. Kids are resilient. They bounce back but the longer they are exposed, the longer it will take. I have 3 very different kids. Each one learns so different but the one thing they all have in common is they don’t learn well on a computer.

The School my kids use to attend recently was named as a Utah State Board of Education Reward school. This means that this Title 1 school is in the top 15% of Title 1 schools in the state and they have a high level of student proficiency and student growth. They attribute much of this to the technology usage in the classrooms. To me this means the kids have learned how to play the system, because that’s what I saw with my own son. The school plans to expand this program next year since they have seen such success. They want to mix the computer based education with project based learning. Essentially the kids will be getting a majority of their basic math and reading on computers. It’s a program we will have nothing to do with and other parents in the area are nervous too.

It’s frustrating because we are assigned to this school, we can’t get a variance to attend another school as they are full with the children that are in their boundaries. Many parents here can’t homeschool or take their kids to a charter. We are a very low income area. In most families both parents have to work just to make the house payment. I have had a few parents come ask me what to do. This isn’t a charter school where you know what you are getting into when you sign up for the lottery, these kids and families have no choice but to send their kids to this experimental program. The principal said that charter schools are going to catch onto this soon and that then the district would be saying why didn’t we do it first when we had the chance. This program probably will work for some kids, and it will look very good on computer based tests but if we really want to see how this computer based learning works we need to give children the same test twice, once on computer and once on paper. Multiple studies are beginning to show that we learn different on paper vs on the computer.

There is a time and a place for technology but from my experience the classrooms in elementary schools are neither the time nor the place. We really don’t know what this is doing to the kids. Studies are beginning to show the technology aggravates ADHD, children are learning to beat the system, and parents are slowly being pushed farther and farther out of their children’s school lives. Please don’t continue to put 1:1 technology into the classrooms until we know the full effects. Allow parents to choose to put their kids into these programs, not just force them into them because they were assigned to the school. Stick with the tried and true paper, pencil, and books. It takes more time, more preparation but the things that are worth the most usually take the longest. Teaching isn’t easy and it is so nice to have a computer grade all your students writing assignments then tell you how they did or to teach math for you so you can help your kids who just don’t get it but it also eliminates your ability to see how they solved a problem. There truly is a science to how kids answer questions. I can look at a students’ work and see exactly why they missed a math problem. I can tell if they were just goofing off to get done quickly, if they don’t understand the concept at all and need extra help, or if they just made a simple addition or subtraction error but understand the concept taught. When a computer is correcting the assignments all I get is the score. A 35% looks the same in a child who has clicked to get done, a child who needs extra help, and a child that forgot to borrow. The difference is one gets it and doesn’t need the extra help from the teacher, one needs a 5 minute reminder, and the other really needs my extra time.

My son was the star pupil in the school. The child they talked about at parent teacher conference saying this would be so amazing, look at what he has done. I’m going to spend part of this upcoming school year undoing what was done as we move to a new school without technology. Please consider my story before expanding this program. Take the time to do the research before using this to solve the teacher shortage. We do have a teacher shortage, our students deserve better but as we “race to the top” we are forgetting learning isn’t quick sprint. It’s a marathon. Some are faster than others, and that’s ok. We aren’t all the same, we don’t all think the same. That’s ok, as long as we learn to get along and care for each other. That is something a computer will never be able to truly teach.

Free Speech is Dead – Guard Your Child’s Curriculum

Oppression Just Ahead - Free Speech is DeadDeep within the halls of the company formerly known by the motto “Don’t Be Evil,” lurks evil. Google isn’t the only one of course. Massively huge companies setting political agendas and engaging in mass manipulation of the public is no surprise these days. You’ve got to protect *your type* of thinking after all. You don’t want someone sharing a viewpoint and convincing others it’s true if it contradicts your viewpoint and you have the power to deny that brush with truth…

Do you know what’s happening around you?

Prager U, that makes thoughtful 5-minute videos explaining different topics has had 30 of their harmless videos restricted on YouTube. Oh wait, they aren’t harmless. They espouse a conservative non-politically correct viewpoint and Google doesn’t want young people exposed to those dangerous ideas. They are now forced to sue Google owned YouTube. If you want to sign their petition or donate to their lawsuit, visit

Twitter jumped into the fray this week as well in the latest undercover video by Project Veritas. They admit to Shadow Banning people where a person might have a ton of followers but those followers don’t get their tweets and they just think nobody is engaging with them.

Further proving their biased bona-fides, Twitter threatened to share Trump’s private messages, even deleted ones, with the FBI.

Try this one too: Google’s New ‘Fact-Checker’ Is Partisan Garbage

Surely this doesn’t extend to education though! That’s SOOOOoooo non-partisan that the mere idea of vetting by political parties is anathema to liberals. “Schools can’t be partisan” they cry. Wake up! They’re already as partisan as it gets and it’s destroying this country.

We already KNOW indoctrination is fully active in education. Partisan elections are to shine a light on candidates by close examination of a segment of society. No more hiding behind meaningless campaign slogans like “For the Children!” Duh! Who isn’t?

Project Veritas already showed that Pearson and other publishers were using the Common Core curriculum market they monopolize to try and change views about Christianity, the 2nd Amendment, and many other topics they have a strong bias against. Check it out here:

Common Core Investigation

That’s printed curriculum that can be viewed by parents with a little effort. So what are parents to do about digital content they can’t easily see? It’s most certainly happening and even worse. With digital platforms, you can track behaviors and attitudes and manipulate the content directly serving up what a publisher deems important for that student to be exposed to. “Intelligent” systems aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be, and the curriculum just keeps expanding. Planned Parenthood helped create the new Common Core sex ed curriculum. The Next Generation Science Standards will be full of bias and Utah was promised we’d never go down this road yet we are. You can’t stop a freight train, but you can bail out and get on another track.

Parents, it’s time to home school or engage in something you can trust to see the curriculum. If you’ve been nervous about it in the past, it’s far easier than you realize and there are tons of resources available to you online. Protect your child not just from political indoctrination, but give them the gift of freedom of time to learn things they have a real desire to learn. There are so many ways to educate and so many more schools popping up all over the place to support these ideas. One that is opening this fall in North Utah County is Alpine Valley Academy which is a self-directed learning school. These schools tend to create 14 times as many entrepreneurs as public schools (per graduate capita). Other options abound. Just look up home school groups and ask around. Some of the charter schools in your area might be doing really creative things for home schoolers such as Canyon Grove Distance Education or My Tech High.

A Teacher’s Lamentation (and a rant)

This was posted to Facebook and I thought it worth sharing. The nonsense teachers go through is only going to increase. Those who care about teaching are retiring in droves, leaving those who don’t mind playing the game in the system which will only make it more and more difficult to get “authentic” teaching.

<rant>Unless we stop the computer adaptive tests and the INSANITY of this accountability and test culture (NOT being pushed by parents), we will destroy the next generation. Please, state board and legislators, end school accountability, school grading, computer adaptive tests, competency-based education, database tracking, and all the other soul-destroying nonsense you’ve enacted. Reverse it before it’s too late.

True accountability is between three people. Parent, student, and teacher. That’s it. If you think because it’s tax money paying for our schools that it gives you the right or creates an obligation to prove to the rest of the state and the federal government just how much standardized learning is being done in the classroom, you’re wrong.  You’re damaging teachers, students, and families. Free the schools. Free the teachers. LOCAL CONTROL IS LOCAL. Let communities run their own programs and do what’s best for families. Drop the state rules and let local schools and families do what they feel is best. Success and failure will be at the hands of the free. Not the hands of those with governmental power to dictate what should be taught and when. Where there is no agency there is no development of the mind.

Oh, and you administrators who accept this nonsense without speaking out, where’s your soul? </rant>


A Teacher’s Story From Facebook:

Tampa Bay, Florida teacher describes growing frustrations of a system in place that snuffs out creativity and life. Is this teacher a complainer? No! They are speaking out for the sake of children and the daily damage done. “After 22 years, I don’t know if I have it in me anymore. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn’t teaching. Everything I am required to do is about preparing my students for “the test.” I spend all day, every day, ramming test prep down my students’ throats. Then I do what seems like 8,000 reams of paperwork each week to prove that I’m ramming test prep down my students’ throats. There is no joy in this for them. I see their blank faces with eyes glazed over. There is no fun or excitement in learning, for they are not really learning.
This past weekend I spent literally every waking hour working, taking breaks only to do laundry and prepare food for my son. I wrote my lesson plans with all of the required “non-negotiables” included and explained. I examined my data to make decisions about what skills might need some reteaching and what skills could be practiced and reinforced in centers. I dutifully created my differentiated centers and made them rigorous (a term that has no business in education). I printed off copies of things on my own printer, using my own ink and paper, because we only get 1000 copies per month. I laminated, cut, and put things in folders to make sure I was all ready for today. Then, in the middle of my ELA block this morning, my principal walked in to do a walk-through. Apparently, this go round was focused on centers because she asked to see mine as she did for all of my teammates, I later learned. Well, I figured this one would be easy after everything I did over the weekend. She looked at them, asked me a couple of questions, and left. My observation notification came through after school and I looked. Imagine my surprise when I received a Basic for Danielson Domain 1e: Designing Coherent instruction. My principal’s only comment… “While it’s good to see differentiated centers there needs to be paired texts and writing in your centers.” Make no mistake, I am open to criticism, especially when criticism is constructive and valid. This, however, is neither constructive nor valid. This is about playing a game. This is about making up a fault that isn’t included in the rubric when you can’t find one that is. This is about making sure that teachers don’t get too many points so we can keep those merit-based raises to a minimum.
This is what education has become. It’s a game, it’s inauthentic, it’s draining. They’re putting out the fire that has blazed inside of me. They’re destroying my soul and my passion. I don’t know what to do now. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn’t teaching.”

Dr. Duke Pesta on the Dangers of Government Schools

Dr. Duke Pesta spoke at the Newquist breakfast event on 9/30/17 and gave an incredible presentation on Common Core and the dangers in and coming to public schools. Please watch this important presentation and then go register for the 2017 Agency-Based Education conference where among other inspiring presentations, you can see if home schooling is right for your family and how to get started. If not home schooling, there are loads of other options including Freedom Project Education (online private school) which Dr. Pesta works for, and many more.

Prosperity 2020 and Fascist Education

Each new thread our state government braids between the Department of Workforce Services and the education system in our state just makes it harder and harder for Utah to sever the cord being created by societal central planners. For decades, society’s central planners have wanted national database tracking from cradle-to-grave to provide for big business to have their optimum input: a well-trained workforce. Exhibit A is Marc Tucker’s letter to Hillary Clinton in 1992. Tucker and his organization have been funded by Bill Gates who as we know, funded Common Core’s creation with the CCSSO and NGA.

People no longer look to history for warnings. If they did, they might notice the dangerous parallels we are following that led to darker times in history. Soon enough, unfortunately, people will remember the phrase, “history repeats itself.”

I’m not an economist or an historian. But if anyone takes the time to study it out a little, it’s easy to see the vast framework marrying government to business (ie. Fascism) in the lucrative education industry. From the White House Learning Registry, to CEDS (Common Education Data Standards), to SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Database Systems), everything is pretty much in place to control exactly what our children are taught, tested on, and rewarded for, and to create behavioral profiles to know just what they’re suited for…according to the central planners.

Business, which has been clamoring for a seat at the trillion dollar school table, is asked by government to step in and save the day. “Please Big Business, tell our schools what you need and we’ll make sure it’s taught so you have a properly trained workforce. We’ll ensure that no child is left behind. You just provide the list of skills and computer adaptive software they need and we’ll pay you to teach them. Don’t you worry about school boards or parents. They don’t know what’s best for their own children and with the convenience of compulsory education, your common training for the youth will become ubiquitous. We will create the greatest generation of workers the world has ever seen. (Oh, and we’ll also set up the regulations to control you for our great strategic vision.)

Anyone that studies what’s happening around the country can put this picture together without much effort, if they are willing to see it.

Now I’m NOT saying all these people involved with Prosperity 2020, the Salt Lake Chamber, or at the Utah Office of Education, are Fascists. I’m saying they are moving us toward Fascist education, wittingly or not. I’m also saying that once everything is firmly in place it’s a quick trip from governmental control point A to point B and so on. I am sure most of these good folks are just obsessed with the economy and making sure kids get jobs after graduating from high school or college. That’s certainly how most politicians get their re-election talking points!

This email from the Salt Lake Chamber instigated this article showing this connection I’m talking about.

It’s all about career training. Learn this, master this skill, take this test, etc… All pointed toward a common goal, rather than a diversity of personal goals.

C.S. Lewis said, “If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.”

Is there a role for business in education? Certainly. It just shouldn’t be setting the focus. For the rest of the story on business and family involvement in education, please check out this article by Autumn Cook on Agency Based Education’s website, called, Aligning Education with the Needs of the Family.

Classical Education, the Counter

What is the counter to workforce training education? It’s often called classical education. You can Google plenty of resources on it, but here’s a wonderful short essay by Terrance Moore called, “A Classical Education for Modern Times.” That can serve as one example. In short, one might say it is an education foundation for the mind and heart instead of training a person in skills for the workforce.

A well-trained person may always have a job based on their skill set. As long as their industry continues to exist.

A well-trained mind can learn just about any skill, and can problem solve by seeing and creating opportunities. They become the ones who run the businesses and employ the skilled laborers. There’s a reason the elite and powerful in this country send their children to expensive private schools instead of putting them in the Common Core public schools they create for the masses.

Classical education is making a strong surge, particularly among home schoolers who have given up on public education in an effort to protect their children or make sure they get the education that is right for them. Freedom WORKS for helping every child get the education that is right for them.

I hope school board members and business owners will focus on meeting the unique and diverse needs of each individual child, as seen and encouraged by their own families, rather than on the labor pool they want right now. Doing so, will in fact, solve both problems, in unexpected and magnificent ways.