Category Archives: Concerns

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.

The State of Utah is Negotiating Away Parental Rights

Thanks to the federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) – a bill over 1,000 pages long that was passed in a rush after Thanksgiving, 2015 – every state must submit an educational “plan” to the Federal Department of Education (DOE) – essentially asking “permission” for educational practices and programs. One of Utah’s “asks” was the submission of a waiver request – I urge you to read Superintendent Dickson’s excellent letter championing parents rights and reaffirming state law. Current ESSA provisions mandate that 95% of students must participate in the computer-adaptive assessments – the tests formerly known as SAGE in Utah. The request for that waiver was denied by the Federal Department of Education.

Translation – Utah to federal DOE: “DOE, is it okay if we have more than 5% of our students opt out of SAGE testing?”

DOE to Utah: “NO.”

After being denied by the unconstitutional Federal DOE, the State Board asked again for a one year reprieve from reporting requirements. Once again we were denied followed up by a threatening letter by Sec. DeVos. Remember this president and his team vowed that they would eliminate the DOE and uphold state sovereignty. This additional denial and subsequent letter threatening funds from Sec. DeVos is further proof that ESSA strangles state sovereignty and the natural rights of the people.

As new negotiation attempts began, it became clear that Utah would only be “granted” its measly federal funding if it was compliant with the 95% rule. PROBLEM: Thanks to the few vigilant Utah parents who have fought this federal intrusion, there is a Utah state law which doesn’t grant parents the right to opt out – but rather affirms that because of natural God-given rights which parents have, Utah schools would be prohibited from draconian tactics which would penalize Utah families and students from opting out of assessments.

In an email from Superintendent Dickson to elected State Board members, dated July 13, 2018, she explained that Utah’s new negotiated educational plan had been approved, stating: “The Department felt strongly that in order to approve our plan, we needed to include language indicating we will comply with federal law. The approved plan does this.” Sadly, thanks to a manipulation of Robert’s Rules during our Aug. 3 board meeting, the Board did not discuss this new plan that was unilaterally presented to Sec. DeVos by the Superintendent and state board’s staff without board approval.

TRANSLATION: The Superintendent and the Board Chair acted independently of the elected board. In short, the public was not given the chance to weigh in on the ESSA plan because those who were elected to represent them were never given the chance to see or to vote on the new plan. Instead, administration and a single board member presented a plan to the federal DOE that puts it in direct conflict with Utah State law–a state law which prohibits the violation of natural parental rights. In the end, after being denied repeatedly, Utah became fully compliant with Federal dictates, setting aside the promise of the state’s ability to forge their own educational path.

And now, thanks to further ESSA provisions, Utah must submit to federal “auditing” – an invasive probe to determine why so many parents are opting out of assessments, and thereby placing non-compliant schools in a status of “failure” or “remediation”, to be put under the purview of federal overseers.

You may ask: exactly what is the paltry amount of funding Utah receives from the federal government? Unfortunately, the answer will shock and anger you: a whopping 6% of our entire educational budget for 2017-2018 school year. Of that, the amount Utah stands to lose if it stops playing this ridiculous game of “Mother May I” is significantly less (around 2% of Utah’s educational budget).

Utah parents, we are literally selling our birthright as the natural guardians of our children for a mess of pottage – and a pathetically meager mess of pottage at that. And why is the amount so small? Because any dollar that is sent to Washington naturally shrinks as it goes through its laundered process of paying the salaries, benefits, and pensions of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. That dollar shrinks to practically nothing before it ever comes back to the states. And to add insult to injury, we then must play this game of kissing rings and genuflecting, begging holy dispensation from the federal DOE to even get that pathetic, shrunken amount, and facing even more oppressive penalties if we are further non-compliant.

This isn’t about opting out of a test; this is about where we believe our rights come from. Either our rights come from God or man. It should be unacceptable to all Utah parents that we must ask permission of the federal government concerning our children. I urge parents to contact their state legislators requiring them to come up with that 6% – by spending less somewhere else – so we can take back our children’s education. Please contact your State Board members and let them know that you expect them to defend your parental rights. This is an election year and we the people hold the power. Contact those in office and those running for office and see where they stand.

When I was sworn into office, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. This oath requires me to protect the rights of the people that I represent and this newly accepted ESSA plan is in direct violation of those rights. Parents, I know you are tired and it feels like no matter what we do things keep moving forward. But we need you! As an elected official I am merely the point of a spear. We, the people, are needed to give the elected officials the force and the direction for their actions.

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!

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 https://www.prageru.com/petitions/youtube-continues-restrict-many-prageru-videos-fight-back.

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.

Stop FEPA

We just spent Thanksgiving thanking God for our freedom. Now, we must defend it!

STOP Speaker Paul Ryan & Senator Patty Murray’s Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act (FEPA) (H.R. 4174S. 2046) THIS MONDAY! 

It is imperative that concerned citizens begin contacting our US Senators on MONDAY, November 27th, to oppose FEPA. And, that we begin now to contact President Trump to veto this legislation if it passes the Senate. FEPA has already passed the House—on a voice vote under suspended rules. Such shenanigans would be truly laughable if they didn’t mark the death of individual freedom by the hands of big data.

What Does the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act (FEPA) do?

FEPA creates a de facto national database on every individual in America through extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates. Read this important rebuttal to the House Majority’s staff about FEPA.

Who Supports the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act (FEPA)?

Unfortunately, Republicans like Trey Gowdy have joined hands with Democrats on FEPA because it uses language that promotes government transparency. But, data transparency, in our current environment, is designed to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through interoperable data systems—which were streamlined under the Obama administration’s Stimulus Bill to ensure that regions and states follow along with social-justice-aligned policies in education.

FEPA—and Senator Orrin Hatch’s College Transparency Act (CTA)—mark the culmination of efforts made by the United Nation’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to shift America into “Evidenced-Based Policy.” The OECD is a world policy organization that worked with the Obama administration on the Race to the Top program to shift America into globally-defined Competency-Based Education. Both FEPA and CTA work hand-in-hand to support a type of Competency-Based Education that undermines religious freedom. The US Labor Department has also been working with the OECD to ensure America’s shift into global Competency-Based Ed. (more info below). Molly Irwin, Chief Evaluation Officer for the US Dept. of Labor, has been working with the OECD to support the US shift into “Evidence-Based Policy.” See below that her slide-share presentation is for “OECD Governance.”

One of the most telling things about FEPA, is who supports it.

One big-name supporter is Obama administration insider, David Medina who is very excited that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) are building upon the Obama administration’s groundwork on FEPA. Medina runs the progressive organization, Results For America, and their recent headline states,

“Results For America Praises Speaker Ryan and Senator Murray for New Legislation to Advance Evidence-Based Policymaking”

Then they say, “This new bipartisan legislation would help build the What Works infrastructure necessary at each federal agency to use evidence and data when making budget, policy, and management decisions”

We are particularly pleased that Speaker Ryan and Senator Murray included several recommendations in their legislation that Results for America has promoted over the last several years, including the requirement that each federal agency designate a Chief Evaluation Officer, establish an evaluation policy, and develop evidence-building plans. (emphasis added)

David Medina currently serves as the COO and Co-Founder of Results for America. David previously served in the Obama Administration as First Lady Michelle Obama’s deputy chief of staff and as the Peace Corps’ public engagement director. Throughout his career, David has also served as the US Global Leadership Campaign’s government relations director, US Senator John Edwards’ national political director, the 2004 Democratic National Convention Committee’s deputy CEO, an AFL-CIO legislative representative, the Democratic National Committee’s policy director, and US Senator Carol Moseley-Braun’s legislative assistant.

David has served on the University of Chicago’s Alumni Visiting Committee, Human Rights Campaign, Millennium March on Washington, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute national boards of directors. David received his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his M.P.P. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Results for America helps states change their policies to “shift resources” to “what works.”

Isn’t “What Works” a Good Thing?

“What Works” means that people’s choices can be directed by the state because their choices have to serve the purposes of the state. Results For America says, “When it comes to so many of our nation’s great social challenges, progress is within our reach. We know more than ever before about what works for young people, their families and communities.”

Hmmm. Do you recall being at any meetings where you asked Results For America to decide “what works” for you and your family—from cradle to grave? Do you recall asking Results For America to REQUIRE government to hold you and your family accountable for pursuing what THEY decide works?

How Can Evidence-Based Policymaking Undercut Christian Values in our Current Big-Data Environment?

David Medina is just one of many globalists working closely with the UN’s Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) to implement world-wide “Evidence-Based Policies” to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (which are a threat to Christian liberty).

Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd is also doing the OECD’s bidding. (Remember that Jeb was the sole Republican presidential candidate that supported and promoted Common Core).

Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd worked closely with Utah as a pilot-state to implement global Competency-Based Education (Competency-Based Ed where online curriculum, assessments, student information systems and education management systems are interoperable through Common Core’s Common Data Standards).

If you want to know what a threat the OECD is to Christian families and children, read their recent report called Global Competency for an Inclusive World where they say,

“The skills, attitudes and values that shape human behaviour should be rethought, to counter the discriminatory behaviours picked up at school and in the family.”

“All young people should be able to challenge cultural and gender stereotypes, to reflect on the causes and solutions of racial, religious and hate violence and to help create tolerant, integrated societies.”

Then, watch my recent 30-min. presentation at the Agency-Based Education conference in Utah to understand how the Obama administration used Common Core’s Common Education Data Standards to support the OECD’s mission for “Evidence-Based Policy.” It’s entitled, The Battleground for Religious Freedom is in K-12 Assessments: The Powerful Culture War that No One’s Talking About.

If you want to know how desperately the OECD and their partners want this data bill passed, read this important article in The National Pulse entitled, House Leaders Ignore Citizen Concerns and Pass National Database Bill.

Our children and grandchildren deserve to live under freedom’s banner.

TAKE 2 MINUTES RIGHT NOW TO MAKE 2 PHONE CALLS!:

  1. Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 twice, asking for each of your Senators in turn. Tell them to OPPOSE the Foundation’s for Evidence-Based Policy Making Act (S. 2046).
  1. Call President Trump at: Comments: (202) 456-1111 and/or Switchboard: (202) 456-1414. Tell him to VETO the bill if it passes the Senate.

And, remember, that FEPA is supported by another bill sponsored by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch – The College Transparency Act (CTA) (H.R. 2434; S. 1121). This bill must be stopped when it comes up.

Thank you. And, God Bless.

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>

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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.

Whole cities are being turned into Common Core Learning Centers?

The background on Cities of Learning

Cities of LearningCities of Learning (or LRNG Cities) is an initiative propelled by the international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). They are the creators of the international assessments known as PISA (Programme for International Student Achievement). Both the OECD and PISA were developed to support the UN’s goals for global economic transformation.

Through President Obama’s Race to the Top for Assessments initiatives, the OECD has helped to fundamentally transform America’s online assessment systems and teacher training. Where local teachers used to test for children’s academic skills, now unknown researchers assess and measure children’s emotions and behaviors—in and out of school, online. Measuring children’s emotions and behaviors through online curriculum, apps and assessments is part of the international view of Competency-Based Ed.

It might surprise American parents to know what the OECD says about the goals of global Competency-Based Ed. They say, “The skills, attitudes and values that shape human behaviour should be rethought, to counter the discriminatory behaviours picked up at school and in the family.” (OECD, Global Competency for an Inclusive World.)

Cities of Learning, Common Core, Competency-Based Ed and Digital Badges for children

With the advent of Common Core, Competency-Based Ed isn’t about freeing children from “seat time”, it’s about turning whole cities and countries into Common Core 24/7 Learning Centers with citizens all aligning their learning objectives and “competencies” to global economic and social objectives—and all citizens being tracked by big-data. Online learning, tied to Common Core through big-data, is how children are being turned into commodities for the global economy—and how their emotions and behaviors are going to be shaped in order that they will champion globally approved social causes. The OECD says, “All young people should be able to challenge cultural and gender stereotypes, to reflect on the causes and solutions of racial, religious and hate violence and to help create tolerant, integrated societies. A PISA assessment of global competence, developed in consultation with OECD member countries, would offer the first, comprehensive overview of education systems’ success in equipping young people to support the development of peaceful, diverse communities. ”

CollectiveShift (an apt-name for collectivist revolutionaries) is the name of the organization spearheading Cities of Learning in the U.S.—where libraries, museums, after-school clubs, civic organizations, financial institutions and others work hand-in-hand to tie children’s learning to Common Core’s social-emotional competencies. CollectiveShift’s Cities of Learning video tells a dystopian tale where America’s education system is transformed (by the big-data gurus behind Common Core) into a video-gaming system that awards children, and adults alike, digital badges for the privilege of being tracked and researched from cradle to grave.

Global technology standards created the perfect storm for the loss of local curriculum and assessment control

Cities of Learning were made possible with the help of the Obama administration’s Race to the Top for [online] Assessment partners, IMS Global and Bill Gates’ SIF Association. With the help of these two international technology standards organizations, and groups like Mozilla, “thousands of organizations around the world” now “recognize learning achievements” [global competencies] thanks to IMS Global’s Open Badges standards for online assessment “interoperability.”

PR Web wrote a detailed overview of CollectiveShifts collaborative efforts on Cities of Learning and how groups like the Gates Foundation are working to build competency-based assessments into online games.

Collective Shifts’ CEO Connie Yowell wrote an open letter that gives further details about the vast number of tech groups involved in Cities of Learning.

Readers might be interested to know that the Obama administration’s federal Learning Registry and #GoOpen initiative prompted Mozilla’s involvement, along with the involvement of groups like Amazon, Edmodo, Microsoft and others. (Note: Utah was one of the first states to join the #GoOpen initiative).

America’s cities are starting to join in the movement to badge children’s global competencies (also called social-emotional skills)

The 10 Million Better Futures’ website says that “Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with a successful summer program that networked more than 100 organizations and served more the 100,000 students. Chicago is now a City of Learning year round, and this year the initiative is expanding to Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.”

Learn more about some of the cities starting to get involved here:
School’s Out, Cities Are In With Expanded Cities of Learning“:

This story about Pittsburgh is a MUST READ: Pittsburgh is following the P21 Competency Framework (Common Core’s global competency and social-emotional learning framework as promoted by the World Economic Forum). See all the ways in which children’s competencies will be tagged and pay attention to the fact that kids don’t just code, but they code and their “dispositions” are identified.

What you should know about Digital Badges and international technology standards for Competency-Based Ed

Here’s a great blog called, “The Business of Badging and Predicting Children’s Futures. This is a good starting point for the average parent to start understanding what digital badging is and how it works.

Here’s what wiki has to say about Digital Badges lately.

Herehere and here are further background on IMS Global setting the stage for Cities of Learning through Common Core’s Common Education Data Standards which paved the way for globalists to digitally badge children’s global competencies.

Check out this video about IMS Global’s One Roster, which essentially makes it impossible to protect a child’s PII (personally identifiable information).

See here, that Canvas Learning Management Systems—used by Utah students—has now met 12 IMS Global technology specifications.

And, here is a list of all the learning and assessment platforms that IMS Global says are now meeting their specs for “interoperability.” Get some popcorn, you’ll be reading for a while as you mourn the loss of local curriculum and assessment control.

It’s time to take back local control over online curriculum and assessments

Any Congressmen listening? If you are, start thinking about what happens when Ethereum Blockchain technology and digital birth certificates interplay with Cities of Learning. This is an important paper that discusses how technological code and blockchain are replacing government regulation and the law.

Seriously. Parents. Get your kids out of digital curriculum and assessments, in and out of school, unless you can guarantee it’s locally controlled and operated. Many teachers report that they no longer see their students’ online curriculum or assessments anymore because each child is on a computer and on a different “personalized,” computer-adaptive learning plan.

The surest way to take back what your children are taught and tested is this: Take your children away from the digital badgers.

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Editor’s Note: How can you help protect your children? Starve the data beast. Come see if home schooling is right for your children and how to get started at the 2017 Agency-Based Education conference.