Category Archives: Awesome

Parents: 1, SAGE test: 0

Brooke Wardle posted this hilarious and awesome exchange on Facebook and gave permission for me to share it. Syd is Brooke’s child. Dr. Gary Thompson is the other one mentioned below, a friend of Brooke’s and well know to readers of this site.

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So this just happened…
Syd: Dad, my teacher is insisting I take MAP testing as an alternative to Sage since I opted out.
Me: No you don’t.
Syd: She is insisting.
Me: Tell her to call me.
Syd: I did. She said it would not matter.
Me: Hold one sec. (calls Gary Thompson) Gary, can you run by Syd’s school for me. I have you on my emergency contact list to check Syd out. They’re trying to force her to MAP test.
Gary: No problem. I’m actually only about a minute away.
Me to Syd: Syd, Gary is going to check you out.
Syd: OK

Gary walks into school to check Syd out. Principal walks out.
Gary: I’m here to check Sydney out of school or make sure she makes it to the library to work on homework while the other students do their Sage testing.
Principal: We are required to give her an alternative test.
Gary: No, actually you’re not.
Principal: It is a Utah School Board requirement.
Gary: (holds up his phone) Michelle, what is the board’s policy on this?
Michelle: She is under no obligation to take it and the school should honor the parents wishes.
Principal: Who is that??
Gary: Michelle Boulter from the State Board of Education.
Principal: Oh……
Gary: So, is she coming with me or going to the library?
Principal: She is going to the library.

Gary leaves the building
Calls Michelle back

Gary: So, what did you think?
Michelle: What was the name of that school? I need to add them to my audit list………

Boom
Parents 1 Sage testing 0

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Need info on opting out of SAGE? Go to our opt-out page which links to the state form and laws.

Graduate Writes about High School Waste of Time

Last month I had occasion to chat with a youth in my town who recently graduated from high school. The youth commented to me what a waste of time high school had been (graduated from Lone Peak for the curious) and I asked him to explain what he meant. I was surprised at his response and asked him to email me and elaborate on why he felt like it was a waste of time. He desires to remain anonymous but gave permission for me to post his email to me. Here it is.


About my experience with the American School system:

The thing about the school system that most bothered me in retrospective means was that in the first grade I wrote my 4’s exactly the way that the computer shows them with most standard font’s. I was forced to write 4’s with the box at the top instead of the triangle. This bothers me, I was forced to uphold a societal standard or I had assignments marked incorrectly. This is a horrible practice. That was my first true experience with societal standards. My next experience that made me dislike the school system was that throughout all my science classes through elementary evolution was explained and explained again and shoved into your skull. Evolution should not be AT ALL the focus in classes in elementary. The fact that evolution was a huge focus throughout elementary leads to a couple simple assumptions about the thought process of the designers of this system:

1: A child must understand the theory and end result of scientific discovery.

2: The child understanding how we reached these conclusions is secondary.

3: Children are not smart enough to think for themselves so these conclusions must be supported as indisputable facts.

These assumptions were created from these facts about my experience with elementary:

1: Every lesson about evolution never asked us to look at data and reach our own conclusions.

2: Every lesson about evolution in which we had to reach a conclusion ended up strengthening the belief in evolution as a whole.

3: Dinosaurs existed 500 – 100 million years ago throughout 4 or 5 distinct eras, there was no other idea or theory presented to the child with evidence and then asked to reach a conclusion.

4: Lessons involving geology often talked about the “layers” in the earths crust, no other possible explanation of how these layers came to be was presented except for the cookie cutter one (It took millions of years).

Why was the fact that rushing water speeds up the process of petrification, the fact that rushing water can separate sediments into layers and other information that could potentially lead to a different conclusion about the earth explained at all? (IE: A worldwide flood created the layers and caused the petrification of many of the living at the time plants and animals is one such conclusion, this is supported with another piece of evidence: There are petrified trees that exist between layers in the crust, something that would be almost impossible with the cookie cutter millions of years theory, and this one actually makes sense following my religious beliefs.)

My formulated reasoning is simple:
If you want a child to believe something, never tell them the alternative.

(Pictures of rock layers for fun)

CL1

CL2

 

 

 

 

 

IE: The school system is set up to be manipulative, to teach children what the state and the federal government believe is supposed to be upheld, and does not leave room for the child to practice critical thinking and for children to learn how we reached the conclusions we did and other potential conclusions that could be gained from the same evidence.

Why was I never taught about the first 5 presidents of the United States? I know the name of George Washington and that he won us a war but I know nothing of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, or any of the other key players. Why was I taught about Paul Revere but never anything about the other guy (Whose name I forget) who went triple as far in the same night? Why was I taught more about the history of the blacks in America then how the federal government became the way it is? Why is there a higher precedence placed on racial issues than the creation of the most powerful country on earth? Why did I learn nothing of the war of 1812, why did I not learn about Lincoln’s reasoning to turn the Civil wars focus on upholding the union to freeing the slaves? Why was I not taught every single right in the bill of rights and taught why they were put in there, and what they mean?  And why was I not taught reasons why those should be protected? Why was I taught about racial issues and evolution as a focus instead of the history of my country?

Here I am going to try to list the first ten amendments in order without using Google to see if I know them:

1: This is the freedom of speech, religion, press, petition

2: Right to bear arms (Citizens to have guns), Right to have a state militia (To protect from government)

3: Right to not be forced to quarter soldiers (Protect from government)

4:

5: Right to be allowed to not speak if faced with criminal/civil charges. (IE: Pleading the fifth)

6:

7:

8: Cruel and unusual punishment

9:

10:

That’s all I can think of, this is a sign that the system as built does not care about citizens understanding how the government works and why the amendments were set up the way they were. Also I learned more about the amendments in my law enforcement class then my actual government class.

I might write more later and iterate more on my experiences in High School, but think about this: All of the information I now believe, my personal beliefs about government and the school system. I learned NONE of it in school, none. So imagine how many people who didn’t learn what I did who are essentially mentally enslaved to the beliefs set out for them, this is a problem and not one I take lightly and not one any parent who actually cares about their children should take lightly, most of my knowledge about the revolutionary war comes from my Dad talking to us about actual history and why Washington made the decisions he did and how the environment itself played a huge role in them winning if one of many different factors were different on many different battles the British would have won. My favorite quote is by I believe a British general: “As soon as we are about to destroy the rebels the weather sets in, or we lose them…” (This quote is remembered extremely incorrectly but simply serves to iterate my point, we were not taught any information that could lead to any conclusions contrary to what the state wants, if stuff like that quote was taught the idea that the founding fathers had divine guidance and protection would be one that a child could think of and figure out, but that idea is not wanted so they don’t teach it.)

(This is a combining of many different quotes, but I like it so here you go.)

There can never be a master who obeyed his slaves.
And the master cannot have a slave who understands what a slave is.
For once the slave understands what he is he wonders:
Why are you the master, and why am I a slave.
And thus we see that the only thing stopping a slave from being the master is one simple thing.
Knowledge. And once a slave has knowledge. He will never be content with being a slave.
But a slave who has no knowledge or does not seek knowledge, he cannot be anything more than a slave.

What we teach our children and our children’s children and how we teach ourselves is the most important defining characteristic of a generation, and if the government controls the education, we are all slaves.

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Addendum: 7/9/16

This student just provided the quotes he was referencing above:

“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
“It is easier to build strong men, than to repair broken ones.”

-Frederick Douglass

I cannot live without books.”
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

-George Washington

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives”

-James Madison

SB 204 – Parent Rights Update – Stronger Opt Out Rights

Senator Aaron Osmond has listened to a lot of parents this past year and the sometimes horrible situations schools have put their children in forcing them to take tests they were opted out of, lying to children and telling them it was the law and they had to take it, etc… With the recent USOE memo trying to tell parents what they could or couldn’t opt their children out of, this bill is a major relief to parents. Here’s the changes being made. You can find the full text here:

http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0204.html

Words that have a line through them are being removed and if it’s underlined it’s being added.

  (f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a)
89     and Subsection (3) [shall] may not be considered in determining:
90          (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or
91          (ii) whether a student [shall] may advance to the next grade level.

53A-15-1401. Definitions.
132          As used in this part:
133          (1) “Individualized Education Plan” or “IEP” means a written statement, for a student
134     with a disability, that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the Individuals
135     with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.

160          (2) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s written request to
161     retain a student in kindergarten through grade 8 on grade level based on the student’s academic
162     ability or the student’s social, emotional, or physical maturity.
163          (3) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s initial selection of a
164     teacher or request for a change of teacher.
165          (4) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate the request of a student’s parent or guardian
166     to visit and observe any class the student attends.
167          [(5) (a) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a written request of a student’s parent
168     or guardian to excuse the student from attendance for a family event or visit to a health care
169     provider, without obtaining a note from the provider.]
170          [(b) An excused absence provided under Subsection (5)(a) does not diminish
171     expectations for the student’s academic performance.]
172          (5) Notwithstanding Chapter 11, Part 1, Compulsory Education Requirements, an LEA
173     shall record an excused absence for a scheduled family event or a scheduled proactive visit to a
174     health care provider if:
175          (a) the parent or guardian submits a written statement at least one school day before the
176     scheduled absence; and
177          (b) the student agrees to make up course work for school days missed for the scheduled
178     absence in accordance with LEA policy.

192          (9) (a) Upon [the] receipt of a written [request] statement of a student’s parent or
193     guardian, an LEA shall excuse the student from taking [a test that is administered statewide or
194     the National Assessment of Educational Progress.]:
195          (i) any summative, interim, or formative test that is not locally developed; or
196          (ii) any test that is federally mandated or mandated by the state under this title.
197          (b) An LEA may not:
198          (i) require a meeting as a condition of excusing a student from taking a test described
199     in Subsection (9)(a); or
200          (ii) specify the form of a written statement under Subsection (9)(a).
201          (c) A written statement to an LEA to excuse a student from taking a test under
202     Subsection (9)(a) remains in effect across multiple school years until:
203          (i) further notice from the student’s parent or guardian; or
204          (ii) the student is no longer enrolled at the LEA.
205          (d) An LEA may not reward a student for taking a test described in Subsection (9)(a).

217          (11) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to include
218     in an Individualized Education Plan elements that the parent or guardian believes are in the best
219     interest of the child.

State Superintendent affirms natural right to opt-out

Parents may opt out of testing in Utah according to State Superintendent Brad Smith. “The most important legal policy….by constitution, and by what I consider to be natural rights, parents have the right to opt out of anything! They don’t need permission. They don’t need to fill out a form. They don’t need to seek someone else’s response. And, that’s an inherent and integral right of parents.”..“Sage is one of the tests in all of its components that was unambiguously covered by the safe harbor provisions of Section1403 9a. And so that is one that unambiguously there is an opt out provision….But if there’s a question about SAGE, I believe there is unanimity and no ambiguity that SAGE is absolutely something that is subject to..the safe harbor provisions of 1403-9a.”–State Superintendent Brad Smith on the Feb. 2, 2015 USOE memo which restricted things parents could opt their children out of.

If you would like to send Brad a thank you note and encourage him to continue to stand for parental rights, you may email him at brad.smith@schools.utah.gov.

 

Great Meme to share:

Burning the SAGE test

Awesome news from legislators on SAGE tests. In this article from Ben Wood at the SL Tribune, “Utah lawmakers sour on SAGE test,” Ben shows the about face lawmakers like Senator Howard Stephenson have had on these tests. Several years ago Sen. Stephenson was pushing for computer adaptive tests. Now he’s quoted as saying:

“There will be legislation this year to create a task force to look at doing away with the SAGE test entirely,” Stephenson said during a Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee hearing. “I think we need to be looking at the whole issue of whether we should be having end-of-level tests.”

My favorite quote in the article is Rep. LaVar Christensen’s: “If you’re going in the wrong direction, you don’t step on the gas pedal.”

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2174182-155/utah-lawmakers-sour-on-sage-test?fullpage=1

Great Teacher Comment

A great comment by this retired educator. This comment was posted beneath this article:

http://blamecommoncore.com/two-thirds-americans-support-uniform-education-standards

by Dr. John M. Swann

“As a retired educator (District Mathematics Coordinator, High School Principal, Assistant Principal, High School Math Instructor and College Professor with a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Measurement, an Ed.S. in Educational Administration and both M.A. and B.S. in Mathematics Education) I have struggled to get a handle on the Common Core controversy. I totally support federal educational standards which seems to be the problem the political right has with Common Core. With this said, I no longer support Common Core–not because of federal standards imposed on states (which I consider to be a good thing) but because the practices I have found associated with Common Core are educationally unsound. It appears that Common Core has been hijacked by the “Higher Order Thinking Skills” philosophy which stresses process over knowledge. When we constantly try to force students to think at levels of which they are incapable, we deprive them of the knowledge needed to develop those very higher level thinking skills. I first encountered this philosophy as a component of Dr. Maddeline Hunter’s “Program for Effective Teaching” (PET) right here in South Carolina. I was actually one of the first “Trainers” for this program. The program encouraged teachers to attempt stretching thought levels of students but did not neglect building a base of factual knowledge and then applying that data. Unfortunately, “higher order thinking skills” soon became the end all–be all of the program. Dr. Loren Anderson (USC) and others rewrote Bloom’s Taxonomy as a matrix instead of a heirarchy in an effort to address the abuses. But how does stressing higher order thinking skills deprive students? Piagetian Formal Operations is required for so called higher order thinking skills–yet of the thousands of studies done throughout the industrialized world, a population has never been found with more than 33% formal operators. Pushing higher order thinking skills neglects over two-thirds of our students. It is wishful thinking to try to push all of our students there. A companion to “higher order thinking skills” instruction is the “Discovery Method”–another nice idea we do not have time to implement. Suppose you want students to be able to make a rope. You could give each student a piece of rope and have them take it apart. The very brightest students (less than one-third) will will analyze the structure of the rope and might possibly be able to construct some rudimentary form of a rope. However, if you give each students threads of fiber and teach them (process) how to braid the threads into a rope, almost all of the students will be able to produce a functional rope. Education needs to transmit knowledge and process and then encourage application of that learning at the highest functional level of each student. I no longer see this happening as a part of “Common Core”.”

One more great teacher comment came in tonight from a Utah teacher:

“The main impact I am seeing with common core as a special educator of 31 years in Utah, is that we are trained to classify students with disabilities who are about 2 years behind in the curriculum.  The irony being that we are not allowed to teach these students on their proper level of instruction according to the classification data or IEP.  We are now told to teach on grade level for Sage testing.  Daily, I see students who are distressed– trying to do work far beyond their current skills levels.  We no longer fill in the gaps to bringing them up to speed over time, but force feed students material which increases levels of anxiety, poor behaviors and resistance to schooling in general.  I see good kids pushed beyond their limits.  Sadly, disabled students loose confidence, tiring of the endless testing and test prep.  No research that I have ever seen shows that this is proper researched approach toward remediation.  There is no off level testing now and the UAA is only allowed for the very severely disabled.  No lower middle ground.  I’m afraid we are teaching disabled  children to hate school, loose confidence and give up.  Initially special education was enacted as a way to get kids to like school; but we have now come full circle, becoming very top down in authority and organization.”