Category Archives: Concerns

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

This is an informative series of Facebook posts about the Comprehensive Sexuality Education movement/program. They were posted by Jennie Earl who serves on the Utah State Board of Education to help explain what is happening in this area and the agenda of those involved. With permission I am re-posting with light format editing.

The four posts cover these topics:

  1. First, What is CSE and who are the primary players?
  2. Second, Where is CSE found around the nation and in our state?
  3. Third, What can you do to protect your family?
  4. Fourth, What are Utah laws that support family rights?

Post 1 – What is CSE and who are the primary players?

Here is a quick break down of the differences between Comprehensive Sexuality Education CSE (also known as Sexual Risk Reduction) and Abstinence-based Education (also known as Sexual Risk Avoidance).

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

  • Graphic Sexual content often depicting sexual acts
  • Introduction to various sexual behaviors
  • Continually changing definition of abstinence
  • K-12 sexual program often weaved throughout the curriculum
  • Focus on childhood sexual rights
  • Individual pleasure driven
  • Sexual License
  • Casualness about human anatomy
  • Duplicity/advocacy group involvement and removal of parents
  • How to consent /sexual negotiations/foreplay
  • Expectations low or ambiguous
  • All lifestyle relationships are presented as equal
  • Discussion about partners in elementary school
  • Self-sexual expression is valorized and revered
  • Gender theory

Abstinence-based Education

  • Age/medically appropriate content
  • Focus on healthy teen relationships
  • Clear definition of abstinence
  • Only in 5th grade/ middle and high school health education with parent consent
  • Recognize childhood development/innocence/latency period
  • Focus on responsibility to self and others
  • Sexual health for life, self-control/ long-term goal setting
  • Respect for human anatomy
  • Exactness/parent involvement
  • Refusal skills, clear boundaries
  • Clear expectations set high for all youth
  • Positive effects of committed legal relationships like marriage are encouraged
  • Friendships are stressed
  • Value of a person is multifaceted
  • importance of biological sex

The main movers in the US are Planned Parenthood and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) who hold consultative status at the UN. Along with these two organizations, state education policy makers and many advocacy groups work hand-in-hand to push the agenda to remove sexual taboos, “change social norms” and to “transform education”.

For more information about CSE go here.

CSE advocacy groups to be aware of and information from Influencewatch are included here:

The Human Rights Campaign has a program called Welcoming Schools

Southern Poverty Law Center has classroom resources titled “Teaching Tolerance”

This same organization lists Family Watch International as a hate group


Post 2 – Where is CSE found around the nation and in our state?

Comprehensive Sexuality Education or CSE can be found in every state. Here are three examples of what is happening in the US.

1. New Jersey’s bill

2.  Here is an analysis of the final bill passed in Washington in March 2020

A couple of things worth noting from the bill.  CSE will be delivered in K-3 via Social Emotion Learning SEL. Protected classes do not include religion as stated in the analysis.

3.  California’s Healthy Youth Act-information with questions and links

I often here “yes but that is California and we are Utah”.  Where can CSE be found in Utah?

Some local health departments distribute and refer to organizations that promote CSE.  For example look through Weber/Morgan health Department’s site under “Health Promotion” and “Teen Health”.

The relationships link has resources for parents and resources for youth compare the difference between the two.  One of the references for teens says “Build Healthy Relationships” which takes you to:  Notice the primary players on this site (SIECUS and menstoyhub)
Also under “sexual health” Advocates for Youth and Planned Parenthood are two of the three references used for Educators.


This post is from Pro-Life Utah Showing one of the programs offered through Utah’s library system as a summer program.

Utah State Board of Education Core Guides:

In the Spring of 2019 USBE approved new health standards.  Staff then developed with the help of outside agencies “Core Guides” to accompany the standards.  These Core Guides could be used by educators in their classroom.

In August the public contacted Utah State Board members with concerns about CSE advocacy groups listed as resources in the Core Guides.  Many CSE items were removed over the next several months as they were a clear violation of Utah law (thank you to those that emailed or called in), but CSE advocacy groups remain as resources promoted because of their continued presence within the Core Guides.  As of March 2020, a vetting process has been put into place to assist in vetting upcoming and current Core Guides.  The motion to remove the current Core Guides from our site until the new process is fully implemented failed to get enough votes.

For Illustrative purposes I am only going to reference second grade but you can look through the full core guides as I have included the link to it as well.
Third Grade Core Guides:

Human Rights Campaign “Welcoming Schools”, Southern Poverty Law Center “Teaching Tolerance” and GLSEN: Can all be located under Mental and Emotional Health 3.MEH.2 Additional Activities and Resources Link

Advocates for Youth -Under Human Development Standard 3.HD.3 Feeling Safe

Full Core Guides can be found here:

Other areas where CSE advocacy groups can be found:  Suicide prevention coalition groups locally and state wide, bullying programs and policy, some times in English class readings or History class.


Post 3 – What can you do to protect your family?


  • 2- Teach your Family! In the fall as I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious about CSE content I knelt and prayed for help to understand what and how to help my own children and Utah families. That morning I was lead to Ezekiel 44:23 “Teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” You have a unique insight about each of your children and know best what they need. As you strengthen your relationship with your children, youth will naturally want to know exactly where you stand on issues related to human intimacy. They will want to live up to any expectations you set. You are the authority when it comes to your family. The responsibility to teach them falls on your shoulders first. As you seek inspiration you too can find resources and know how to teach important truths to your children and family members.


  • 3- Talk with your local district about the content they allow in the classroom. Utah is not a CSE state! Organizations that advocate for such practices should not be in our schools they are outside Utah law. There are tons of great resources for schools that are usable for all children from many different backgrounds. As a parent in Utah, you can request certain materials not be taught to your child. You can ask to have your child receive an alternate assignment or to be excused as per Utah law ( ). Ask to be part of the Sex Education Materials Review Committee for your local district. Ask how they vet materials. USBE recently approved a vetting process that you could recommend is implemented at your school. Family Watch also has an analysis tool they use. 15-CSE-Analysis-Tool_Template_final_7_18.doc


  • 4- Take a few minutes and meet with your child’s teacher to explain your concerns. Meet with your local school board members.


  • 5- A number of national organizations have put together a parent guide to help families navigate current gender issues in the school setting. In chapter 5 of this guide it includes parent involvement and community building information.


  • 6- Any program used at the school should have evidence demonstrating that it does what it actually says it will do. I have included a link of research conducted by Irene H. Ericksen, M.S. and Stan E. Weed, Ph.D. They have looked at 120 studies of school-based sex education programs and reported on the findings. The full report, short video findings, and an abstract are listed here. An organization called Blueprints looks at Healthy Youth Development programs that are based on scientific evaluations and have strong evidence of effectiveness In the same vein, always check the statistics you are given. For example research conducted by UCLA Williams Institute will have a different approach than research from the Institute for Family Studies. It is good to be familiar with the objective of research entities and their agenda.


  • 7- Find solutions by making recommendations to education leaders of resources you would support using in the classroom. Ascend is an organization that compiles sexual health education resources to be used around the nation. They are a great wealth of information-Here is a statement from them “Sexual Risk Avoidance is an educational approach based on the public health model of primary prevention to empower youth to avoid ALL the risks of sexual activity.” Take a minute to look through their materials. (Check out Heritage Keepers and Real Essentials. They are located on their site.)



  • 9- Attend public meetings. A schedule for local school Community Councils, Local School Boards, Utah State Board of Education and Local Health Departments should be posted on the organization’s webpage or the secretary could direct you to the information. Often these can be found by calling the secretary of the organization or by going to their website. Each will have its own time frame and rules for public comment. For example USBE has public comment within the first hour of their normal monthly meeting. Public Comment is a time for elected officials to listen, so rarely will a response be given during this part of the meeting.


  • 10- USBE has a new vetting process for core guide materials. If the public has concerns with any of the information or organizations on the core guides they can bring their concerns before the Standard and Assessment Committee to be heard. Here is the number to call to get on the agenda. Noralee Green Phone: (801) 538-7515. If you have an ongoing concern and it has not been addressed after talking with local education leaders, USBE has a hotline where our auditing department will investigate

In closing, work within your comfort level and where you can have the greatest impact. Act on your personal impressions for your family and community. Ask others to help and support you in your efforts. Many parents are wanting to be part of the solution but simply are unsure about what to do or where to start.


Post 4 – Utah law that supports family rights

#4 CSE Law Post-this is not all inclusive but key provisions of Utah Law that support families in Utah

(Click on the links to read the whole law)

Parents Rights

  1. a) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.

(d) The state recognizes that:

(i) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage, train, educate, provide and care for, and reasonably discipline the parent’s children; and

(ii) the state’s role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.

(e) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their children.

(3) The Legislature:

(a) recognizes that parents are a child’s first teachers and are responsible for the education of their children;

(b) encourages family engagement and adequate preparation so that students enter the public education system ready to learn; and

(c) intends that the mission detailed in Subsection (2) be carried out through a responsive educational system that guarantees local school communities autonomy, flexibility, and client choice, while holding them accountable for results.

2) The Legislature recognizes that:

(d) the primary responsibility for the education of children within the state resides with their parents and that the role of state and local governments is to support and assist parents in fulfilling that responsibility;

3) Through an integrated curriculum, students shall be taught in connection with regular school work:

(a) honesty, integrity, morality, civility, duty, honor, service, and obedience to law;

(b) respect for and an understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the constitutions of the United States and of the state of Utah;

(c) Utah history, including territorial and preterritorial development to the present;

(d) the essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system;

(e) respect for parents, home, and family;

(f) the dignity and necessity of honest labor; and

(g) other skills, habits, and qualities of character which will promote an upright and desirable citizenry and better prepare students to recognize and accept responsibility for preserving and defending the blessings of liberty inherited from prior generations and secured by the constitution.

Parental participation at local schools

(3) a) Each local school board shall adopt a policy on parental involvement in the schools of the district.

(b) The local school board shall design its policy to build consistent and effective communication among parents, teachers, and administrators.

(c) The policy shall provide parents with the opportunity to be actively involved in their children’s education and to be informed of:

(i) the importance of the involvement of parents in directly affecting the success of their children’s educational efforts; and

(ii) groups and organizations that may provide instruction and training to parents to help improve their children’s academic success and support their academic efforts.

Waivers of Participation

If a parent of a student, or a secondary student, determines that the student’s participation in a portion of the curriculum or in an activity would require the student to affirm or deny a religious belief or right of conscience, or engage or refrain from engaging in a practice forbidden or required in the exercise of a religious right or right of conscience, the parent or the secondary student may request:

(a) a waiver of the requirement to participate; or

(b) a reasonable alternative that requires reasonably equivalent performance by the student of the secular objectives of the curriculum or activity in question.

4) a)The state board shall adopt rules that:

(i) provide that the parental consent requirements of Sections 76-7-322 and 76-7-323 are complied with; and

(ii) require a student’s parent to be notified in advance and have an opportunity to review the information for which parental consent is required under Sections 76-7-322 and 76-7-323.

(6) Except as provided in Section 53G-10-202, political, atheistic, sectarian, religious, or denominational doctrine may not be taught in the public schools.

Health Education

Any course touching these items mush have parent consent

(i) “Sex education instruction” means any course material, unit, class, lesson, activity, or presentation that, as the focus of the discussion, provides instruction or information to a student about:

(A) sexual abstinence;

(B) human sexuality;

(C) human reproduction;

(D) reproductive anatomy;

(E) physiology;

(F) pregnancy;

(G) marriage;

(H) childbirth;

(I) parenthood;

(J) contraception;


(L) sexually transmitted diseases; or

(M) refusal skills, as defined in Section 53G-10-402.

(2) A school shall obtain prior written consent from a student’s parent before the school may provide sex education instruction to the student.

(3) If a student’s parent chooses not to have the student participate in sex education instruction, a school shall:

(a) waive the requirement for the student to participate in the sex education instruction; or

(b) provide the student with a reasonable alternative to the sex education instruction requirement.

(b) The state board shall make rules that, and instruction shall:

(i) stress the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases;

(ii) stress personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity;

(iii) prohibit instruction in:

(A) the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;

(B) the advocacy of premarital or extramarital sexual activity; or

(C) the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; and

methods of strengthening the family; and allow instruction to include information about contraceptive methods or devices that stresses effectiveness, limitations, risks, and information on state law applicable to minors obtaining contraceptive methods or devices.

No funds of the state or its political subdivisions shall be used to provide contraceptive or abortion services to an unmarried minor without the prior written consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.

1) Any person before providing contraceptives to a minor shall notify, whenever possible, the minor’s parents or guardian of the service requested to be provided to such minor. Contraceptives shall be defined as appliances (including but not limited to intrauterine devices), drugs, or medicinal preparations intended or having special utility for prevention of conception.

(2) Any person in violation of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

I am including one rule because it focuses on the local Instructional Materials Commission and parent participation.

An LEA governing board shall annually appoint and review members of the LEA’s curriculum materials review committee on or before August 1.

(b) An LEA’s curriculum materials review committee shall include parents, health professionals, school health educators, and administrators, with at least as many parents as school employees.

(c) The members of an LEA’s committee shall:

(i) meet on a regular basis, as determined by the membership;

(ii) select officers

Youth suicide prevention

(2) In collaboration with the public education suicide prevention coordinator, a school district or charter school, in the secondary grades of the school district or charter school, shall implement a youth suicide prevention program, which, in collaboration with the training, programs, and initiatives described in Section 53G-9-607, shall include programs and training to address:

(g) methods of strengthening the family; and

(h) methods of strengthening a youth’s relationships in the school and community.

Maintaining Constitutional Freedoms in the public Schools

(1) Any instructional activity, performance, or display which includes examination of or presentations about religion, political or religious thought or expression, or the influence thereof on music, art, literature, law, politics, history, or any other element of the curriculum, including the comparative study of religions, which is designed to achieve secular educational objectives included within the context of a course or activity and conducted in accordance with applicable rules or policies of the state and LEA governing boards, may be undertaken in the public schools.

(2) No aspect of cultural heritage, political theory, moral theory, or societal value shall be included within or excluded from public school curricula for the primary reason that it affirms, ignores, or denies religious belief, religious doctrine, a religious sect, or the existence of a spiritual realm or supreme being.

(3) Public schools may not sponsor prayer or religious devotionals.

(4) School officials and employees may not use their positions to endorse, promote, or disparage a particular religious, denominational, sectarian, agnostic, or atheistic belief or viewpoint.

I hope this is helpful for parents working with their local districts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The failure we call Common Core

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

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

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

1) NAEP decline

Education Secretary Betsy Devos:

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

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

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

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

2019 Naep Math performance
2019 naep reading scores

2) Common Core hurts low-achieving students

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

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

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

3) Federal Study: States better off without CC

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

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

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

5) California’s math disaster

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

CA 8th grade drop from CCSS

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.

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:

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!

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.