Category Archives: News

How To Clean Up the Common Core Mess

With permission from Dr. Sandra Stotsky, below is an article she wrote that appeared in the New Boston Post about solving Common Core in Massachusetts (or any state).

Utah needs to replace the standards and what Dr. Stotsky outlines below is great for a broad statewide base. However, in my view, it would be better if school districts and charter schools were allowed to set their own standards and just have the state issue broad graduation guidelines. Instead of the SAT/ACT/SAGE/RISE/Aspire tests have students take the Classical Learning Test. When teachers teach to that test, it will be a higher level of learning with more quality materials used to ensure their students perform better. And stop all the database tracking of students. It’s insane and a violation of privacy.

Now Dr. Stotsky:

With the onset of Common Core, Massachusetts’s education standards for public schools have declined. How can the state regain lost ground?

It’s actually not that hard. Solid standards already exist. What’s needed is the will to implement them.

Massachusetts can again develop effective non-Common Core standards for mathematics and English/reading if the state legislature requires either a return to the state’s pre-Common Core standards in English language arts/reading, science, or mathematics, or the development of K-12 standards in mathematics and in English/reading with the following features and guiding policies.


In mathematics:


1.  Standards for all basic arithmetical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, short and long division) and standard algorithms should be taught at the same grade levels as in Singapore Math’s original series for the elementary grades. The four operations should be learned with all the real numbers, positive and negative, and fractional forms like common fractions, decimals, and percents.

How do we know Singapore Mathematics works? Three Massachusetts public elementary schools in the North Middlesex Regional School District (which serves Ashby, Pepperell, and Townsend, all along the New Hampshire border) began teaching it in 2000. The results were encouraging, as articles hereherehere, and here show.

2.  Standards that enable all children in public elementary schools to be prepared via their mathematics curriculum to enroll in and complete a traditional Algebra I course in grade 7 or 8 before going on to advanced science and math in high school. Before 2010, about half of all grade 8 Massachusetts students had completed a traditional Algebra I course before entering grade 9. It sets them up for success in science, which depends on math.

3.  Standards/lessons from Dolciani-authored or co-authored mathematics textbooks in grade 8 and above, where possible. Mary P. Dolciani and the publisher Houghton Mifflin were known as the “king and queen” of secondary mathematics texbooks — from the 1960s to the 1990s. Dolciani died in 1985. Many, perhaps most, secondary algebra teachers in this country were trained on Dolciani-authored textbooks and continue to value them for their structure and method.

As one teacher commented:  “The books were literate in their context, never watered down, but not so abstract that a high school student couldn’t read and follow. What makes this book so unique is the fact that mathematical induction is introduced in Chapter 3 and is carried throughout the book. Normally mathematical induction is included at the end of a precalculus text and is never covered. No other precalculus book prior or since has used this approach. Mathematical induction is a proof-driven treatment for the topics which follow. It makes the students think in a logical manner and enables them, by proof, to understand the full argument of why certain ‘things happen’ in math as they do.”

4.  Standards for Euclidean geometry (with proofs) addressed in separate units in grades 6, 7, and/or 8 (as in Singapore Math), along with standards for separate algebra units, or in a full course in grade 9.

5.  Standards that enable high-achieving math students to enroll in and complete a traditional Algebra II course in grade 10 or 11 and to study trigonometry or a pre-calculus course in grade 11 or 12.


In English/reading:


1.  In the primary grades, explicit reading instruction with systematic phonics/phonemic awareness.  Usage/grammar/roots and prefixes/suffixes, as well as sentence structure and spelling (in other words, writing mechanics) should also be taught.

2.  Standards in grades 3-8 that require about half of what all elementary students read in whole-class history or language arts lessons to come from the excellent series of informational books on historical people and events in U.S. and world history published in the 1950s and 1960s by Random House Publishers.  See this link.

3.  Standards in grades 9-12 that require all high school students to become familiar with historically and culturally significant whole works from the following ten Literary Periods: Classical (1200 BCE–455 CE); Medieval (455 CE–1485 CE); Renaissance (1300–1660): Restoration and 18th Century (1660–1790); Colonial and Early National (1600–1830): Romantic (1790–1870): Realism and Naturalism (1870–1910); Modernist (1910–1945); Post World War II (1945–1980); and Contemporary (1980-2020). (“BCE” here refers to “Before Common Era,” often rendered “B.C.” elsewhere; “CE” here refers to “Common Era,” often rendered “A.D.” elsewhere.) Most of these Literary Periods are spelled out in an appendix in the latest version of Florida’s English language arts standards (page 165), together with the names of authors whose works illustrate their features and a list of the features themselves.

4.  Standards for a coherent literature/reading curriculum for K-12 that address, as did the Massachusetts pre-Common Core English language arts/reading standards, all four major types of literature:  poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic literature.  See the appendices in the latest version of Florida’s English language arts standards for lists of recommended titles and authors, from K to grade 12, for poetry, fiction, and dramatic literature.

5.  Reading lists showing titles or authors of well-known informational texts in these literary periods that serve as historical context for the literary works selected by the English teacher for classroom instruction. Appendix A and Appendix B in the 2013 version of the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework (which is a condensed version of the 2001/4 English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, composed by Sandra Stotsky) contain lists of recommended authors for K-8 informational reading (vetted by The Horn Book editors and listed under “essays” or “nonfiction” or “historical documents”), as well as recommended authors for 9-12 (vetted by a diverse group of literary scholars).

6.  Reading passages for test items for each tested grade that come from works by authors in these literary periods. As a committee of Massachusetts secondary school English teachers recommended after the first edition of its English standards in 1997, about 60 percent of the passages should be literary, and 40 percent non-literary. Passages from well-known speeches or biographies may be literary or non-literary. (Again, for lists, see the appendices of the recent Florida English Language Arts standards.)


For teacher licensure or certification in Massachusetts:


1.  All elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers (grades K-6) should continue to be required to pass the Reading Licensure Test (MTEL 90) developed in Massachusetts in 2001/2 (or its equivalent). This licensure test helped all teachers of young children to teach beginning reading so effectively that Massachusetts students on average earned first place on National Association of Educational Progress tests in grade 4 and grade 8 in reading and in mathematics from 2005 on. (Reading is crucial in mathematics because of word problems.) Massachusetts students still have the highest state averages in the country, probably because many teachers use the methods they learn to pass the test.

For a description of the Reading Licensure Test’s  development, see here.

2.  All prospective elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers should be required to take and pass the Bay State’s elementary mathematics licensure test (MTEL 53). The skills the test forces teachers to learn helped Massachusetts students earn first place on National Association of Educational Progress tests from 2009 on. This test has a relatively low pass rate overall.

3.  All cut-off scores for performance levels on all student or teacher tests should be set by Massachusetts parents, grade 11 or 12 teachers, and state legislators — instead of using the cut-off scores the state is given from outside the state and/or from the United States Department of Education.

4.  The state’s board of higher education and governor need to require the mathematics, science, and English teaching faculty at each public college or university in the state to analyze the state’s current high school standards for grades 9-12, and issue a signed public report containing their analysis.

5.  The governor and state secretary of education need to ask the math and English teaching faculty at each public college in the state to recommend in writing what standards should be added or changed to make sure that Massachusetts high school students are prepared for freshman and sophomore credit-bearing courses at that college if they plan to attend college in Massachusetts.


Stopping the Nonsense, and Strengthening Public Education


The chief purpose of a standards revision committee would be to strengthen public education in Massachusetts in order to remedy recent federal and state policies designed for low achievers. All students once learned that, regardless of academic achievement, they were politically equal to each other in our civic culture, with a shared civic identity. Yet, policy makers and philanthropists have led low achievers to believe they haven’t succeeded in school because of bigoted educators and communities.

As my last four books try to make clear, all parents and educators must revive the civic mission of their own public schools, and actively help to restore educated citizenship as the goal of K-12 public education. They will also have to help the state legislature to nullify the four-year state “plan” in education that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 for approval under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act without state legislative approval.

Academic standards in public schools aren’t hopeless, but they need help. It starts with the will to do something about them.


Sandra Stotsky, former senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas.

The power of a profile

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Second, because of the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Database System), there is far too much information being stored on our children and being shared between agencies opens up all kinds of problems. It’s an invasion of privacy for our children, and families. A few data points tells a lot about our homes and if you don’t know how much data is being recorded or asked for, check out this post exposing the 187 *PAGE* list of data the government wants to collect on Kindergarten to first graders.

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Keep Your Promise

(Download the 2017 Utah GOP Convention Flier)

Action Items

Tweet #GovernorKeepYourPromise

Call the governor at: 801-538-1000

Protect your Children’s Privacy – Get the Toolkit

Governor Herbert told Republican delegates during his campaign in 2016, that he would put an end to Common Core and restore local education control. But, nothing came of his promise:

May 4, 2016: Governor Herbert issued a letter and visited the s State School Board to ask them to withdraw from Common Core. The State Board voted to do so, pending funding from the legislature. Nobody followed through to get the legislature to fund it. The Governor should lead out and use his position to keep this promise to Utah.

Trump’s US Education Secretary Pretends like Common Core doesn’t exist (just like Utah’s State School Board):

February 16, 2017: Education Week reported that Trump’s US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told Michigan radio station host Frank Beckmann that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) effectively does away “with the notion of the Common Core.”

April 17, 2016: President Trump’s US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos claimed, “There isn’t really any Common Core anymore.” (In her home state of Michigan, DeVos has heavily promoted Common Core with personal funding to lobbying groups)

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President Obama’s administration designed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to look like the bill was returning power to the states, when the administration had already effectively given power over states and districts to Common Core’s creators through Race to the Top:

December 10, 2015: President Obama signed No Child’s Left Behind’s replacement called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The White House issued a report, and said, “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that President Obama signs today builds upon the significant success of the President’s education policies…”.

The White House further reported, “Today, as President Obama signs that bill into law, the White House is releasing an analysis of progress made in elementary and secondary education since the President took office and how ESSA will cement that progress.”

President Trump’s US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is moving forward with Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and telling Common Core’s creators that THEY represent local control:

May 20, 2017: President Trump’s US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a speech to Common Core’s co-creators, the CCSSO* and told them that the CCSSO would be in charge of state’s and district’s reforms now that Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in place.

*Note: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a CEO led club for all State Superintendents in the country. They co-created Common Core and have effectively taken all the control that State Superintendents have given them. Their recent publications show that their mission is antagonistic to parents and American ideals. See page x and xi of their book about global, online Competency-Based Education and see what they say about American parents.

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The Obama administration designed Race to the Top for Assessments to eliminate state/district control over online curriculum and assessments. States are going along with online curriculum and assessment reforms because they are now backed by ESSA:

President Obama’s Race to the Top for Assessments helps—with the CCSSO’s help—Common Core’s Common Education Data Standards. This initiative was designed to undercut local control over online curriculum and assessments by uniting the Ed Tech industry around common international technology standards. Eventually, tests can become interoperable—globally.

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Utah’s System of Higher Education Partnered with the CCSSO to align K-12 and Higher Ed to Common Core:

July 19, 2016: Utah’s System of Higher Education reported that Utah has partnered with the CCSSO, and other Common Core creators, to “improve teacher preparation for K-20 schools”—with the new guidance from President Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):

October 15, 2016: Utah’s System of Higher Education reported that Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) “provides unique partnership opportunity for Higher Ed and K-12”:

The CCSSO started giving “guidance” to states on online assessment “best practices” and implementation:

President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, Richard Culatta bragged that Common Core’s Next Generation Assessments can collect 100,000 pieces of personal information on EVERY CHILD, EVERY DAY:

The idea of creating massive personal profiles on students’ values, attitudes and behaviors is supported by a Bill Gates’ funded project at Arizona State University through a computer-adaptive learning platform called Knewton:

Knewton’s founder claims that their learning and assessment platforms can collect “5 to 10 million actionable data per student per day” as part of “personalizing learning.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act supports mass data-mining of student’s social-emotional skills (values, attitudes and behaviors):

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Arizona State University and Global Silicon Advisors (ASU+GSV) hosted an Ed Tech Summit at Utah’s Grand America. Many progressive leaders behind Common Core spoke, as did many prominent Utahns. GSV Advisor’s wants to use Common Core to globalize online curriculum and assessments within the next 10 years—finally allowing the global elite to eliminate local school boards:

See page 292 of GSV Advisor’s publication, “American Revolution 2.0” to read their 15-year Strategic Vision:

Trump’s US Education Secretary spoke to ASU+GSV Summit leaders as if they represent parents and local education control:

Deseret News oped by Utah mom, Autumn Foster Cook about the ASU+GSV Summit:

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The elite groups behind Common Core have been open about their desires to use online curriculum and assessments to eliminate local education control:

“Conservative” Fordham Institute:
“…leaving local districts and boards in charge of digital instruction will retard innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration, and smart competition, simultaneously stifling students’ ability to find—and be taught by—the very best educators around the globe.”

Fordham has taken funding from the Gates’ Foundation (the largest funder of Common Core).

Achieve Inc*.:
*Achieve Inc. co-created Common Core with the CCSSO and National Governors Association. Their founder, Louis Gerstner, the former head of IBM, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal after President Obama was elected. The sub headline read: “Let’s abolish local school districts and finally adopt national standards.”

The Gordon Commission:
Jeb Bush’s partner, former Governor Bob Wise, is part of the Gordon Commission—funded through the Obama administration. The 2013 Commission’s report stated:

“The Common Core Standards, and the rethinking of assessments that they are fostering, provide an opportunity to challenge [the] deeply held belief in local control.

In 2011, Jeb Bush and Bob Wise published an oped in Utah’s Deseret News about how Utah was implementing all of their digital learning policies:

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The CCSSO and the Obama administration’s US Department of Education developed Common Core’s Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) so that global elites could profit from gathering private information about student’s values, attitudes and behaviors in the “new global economy”. Massive dossiers on students from cradle to career will create their new “goldmine”:

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Parent Privacy Toolkit

Parents should know how to protect their children’s private learning information from both third-party curriculum and assessment providers and states and districts. Here is an excellent resource, the PARENT TOOLKIT:

Utah Lt. Governor’s Bombshell on Common Core

Spencer CoxRecently given to me by someone who shall remain anonymous, the below emails by Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, while not completely accurate on all points, shows that he recognized problems and tried to get the Governor on board with changing Common Core two years ago. Then he shared his old email again this year during the heat of the campaign. I think the Governor even used some lines from this speech when he spoke to the State Board this summer asking them to replace Common Core and help his campaign which was getting hammered over his strong support for Common Core.

Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes recently endorsed Dr. Gary Thompson stating “Dr. Gary Thompson is a conservative champion who will support common sense policies for students and protect local control. He is a man of integrity who will be a welcome addition to a new and improved state board of education.”

The Utah Technology council recently put out this slate of candidates they recommend voting for (but don’t directly “endorse”). I agree with all of them but district 13 which I have changed to the school teacher running for office that the UEA didn’t endorse (showing they do NOT represent teachers, they represent their own agenda). He’s opposed to federal intrusion and Common Core. Check out his website below.

District 10: DR. GARY THOMPSON – (Eastern Salt Lake County from I-215 to Draper including parts of Cottonwood Heights & Midvale, Sandy, Draper): (
District 11: LISA CUMMINS – (Southwest Salt Lake County including South Jordan, Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale and Northwest Utah County including Cedar Fort & Fairfield) (
District 12: ALISA ELLIS – (Orem, Lindon and Summit, Wasatch, Duchesne, Daggett, Uintah Counties) (
District 13: SCOTT NEILSON – (Provo, Spanish Fork) (
District 15: MICHELLE BOULTER – (Washington & Iron Counties): (

It looks to me like there is some strong support for these candidates!!!

Also, in Alpine School District, please vote for Rachel Thacker in seat 4, and Miriam Ellis in seat 6.


From: “Spencer J. Cox”
Date: April 8, 2016 at 8:10:33 AM MDT
Subject: Fwd: Common Core Thoughts

I don’t mean for this to be an “I told you [him] so,” and it’s probably too late to do anything now. However, I found this email from 2 years ago that I wrote as a proposed statement for the Governor to solve the Common Core dilemma. I’m guessing anything we do now will just look too politically motivated. But if we happen to get reelected, we might consider actually doing something about the growing frustration.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Spencer Cox
Date: May 6, 2014 at 10:17:04 AM MDT
To: “Spencer J. Cox”
Subject: Common Core Thoughts

Let me state at the outset, that I firmly believe in the importance of high academic standards in all subject areas for Utah students. We have a proud history of academic standards in Utah that pre-date the common core. Over the past year, I have listened intently to the growing chorus of concern with regards to the adoption of Common Core standards. While there is clearly a great deal of misinformation being disseminated on both sides of this issue, there are legitimate concerns that I share with those opposed to the Common Core. As I have listened, and researched, it has become clear to me that, although well-intentioned, the conflict, discord and divisiveness associated with these standards is doing more harm than good. Unfortunately, we have lost the focus on what matters most–our students and making sure our teachers have the resources and tools necessary to provide a world-class education. As such, today I announce that I am withdrawing my support for Common Core.

In doing so, I wish to reiterate the three main principals that should guide our actions in Utah when it comes to academic standards for our public schools. These principals are:
1) maintaining high academic standards in all subject areas for all our students
2) keeping the federal government out of education decisions in Utah
3) preserving local control of curriculum, materials and instructional practices

In light of this decision, I am proposing a special session of the legislature for a few distinct reasons. First, to give the legislature an opportunity to weigh in on this debate. While the actual decision on Common Core rests with the State Board of Education, I believe that, as elected representatives of the people, we have a duty to weigh in on this critical debate. As such, I would like to give the legislature an opportunity to make their voices heard.

Next, just as important as the actual educational standards is the PROCESS at which we arrive at those standards. This should be a Utah process and this should be a transparent process. During the last session, the Legislature passed HB342, sponsored by Rep. Layton, which I signed into law. This bill requires the establishment of a standards review committee made up of 7 subject experts including teachers, higher ed faculty, business representatives, along with 10 parents of students currently in public schools. While I believe this is the right concept, today I am proposing legislation to expand of this committee to include….[….] The legislation would further provide direction for this independent to allow for public comment and discourse. If you have a problem with a specific standard, your voice will be heard.

This committee will begin a review of all academic standards, beginning with our math standards, and will make recommendations for improvement in the standards.  Some standards might be removed, some standards might be made more rigorous, and many standards might not be changed at all. I will ask this team to assure that we have rigorous academic standards which will prepare Utah students for entrance into our universities, applied technology colleges, or other specialized training programs without the need for remediation. I will also ask them to report on how the standards are preparing advanced students for placement in accelerated programs in and out of the state. I am inviting parents, teachers, and other members of the general public to submit alternative standards or written suggestions for improvement on the current math and English language arts standards to this team of experts, who will evaluate all suggestions.

Furthermore, the proposed legislation will give the committee the ability to make recommendations regarding implementation of new standards. One of the biggest faults with Common Core has been the unfortunately rushed sometimes shaky implementation in many districts. Too often the problems with implementation have resulted from a lack of available curriculum and a lack of necessary training for our teachers. Because of a significant reduction in professional development days for teachers, it is more difficult than ever for our teachers to understand, prepare for and implement the new standards. I promise to work with the legislature next year to push for an increase in funding for professional development days. We must listen to the concerns and complaints of teachers and administrators who truly understand the needs and difficulties of these critical changes in their classrooms.

I also want to reiterate that, in Utah we take the issue of local control a step further, by requiring that locally-elected school boards and charter schools choose the curriculum, materials, and instructional methods to be used in their schools. As the Governor I will continue to support this local control and will work to shore up state resources for curriculum development at the local level. The State Board of Education is drafting a rule that would require all charter schools and school boards to establish a process for local review and response to curriculum, increasing transparency in this process. This will provide yet another process to ensure that we keep education local.

Two years ago I worked with Sen Margaret Dayton on SB287, which requires Utah to “exit any agreement, contract, memorandum of understanding, or consortium that cedes control of Utah’s core curriculum to any other entity for any reason.” We are currently in complete compliance with this state law, and under my watch we will continue to keep the federal government out of education decisions in Utah. I understand that the State Board of Education is re-evaluating their waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind mandate to confirm that it is also in compliance with this law and look forward to their report. I call upon our congressional delegation to fix and reauthorize No Child Left Behind so that Utah and isn’t forced into the position of having to request a waiver.

In addition to concerns about Common Core, I have also listened to complaints regarding testing in our schools. It is important to note that the new SAGE adaptive testing is NOT tied directly to the Common Core. This testing was first recommended […..] This is a distinctly Utah test, developed in Utah and reviewed in Utah by Utah educators, administrators and parents. I also support the idea of using technology, and computer adaptation, to better assess the knowledge of our students. However, while I believe in the importance of testing and accountability, I share three distinct concerns with testing.

First, the amount of testing. There is rising concern that we have gone from not enough testing to too much testing. Although there is disagreement among experts on this issue, I worry that we might be spending too much of our time testing, and that testing is weighted too heavily in when it comes to evaluating our students and teachers. As such, I will also propose that our independent standards committee also be empowered to evaluate the amount and significance of testing.

Second, I am deeply concerned about the secrecy surrounding this new testing. While I do NOT believe that there are any conspiracies or hidden agendas in the SAGE testing, openness will always be best way to engender trust. If we truly have nothing to hide, then we should stop hiding. While I do not support the wide-release of off all test-questions prior to a test (for obvious reasons), I absolutely believe that students, parents and teachers should have the opportunity to review the questions missed by the student. I call on the State Board to make whatever policy changes are necessary to allow for the release of this information.

Third, I worry about the type of data being collected, the purposes and uses of that data and, critically, the security of that data. While I understand and support the importance of collecting data to improve our education system generally and to respond to the individual education needs of our students, we must be extremely careful in the way we use and store this data. To this end, I have asked Dr. Eric Denna to lead a review of student data collection and protection practices in Utah and issue a report on how we are protecting student privacy and whether or not additional measures need to be taken. Dr. Denna is the director of information technology information services at the University of Utah and previous managed very large information services, such as the worldwide information systems for the LDS church as well as several other large corporations.

Let me conclude by stating that I understand education is a very passionate issue–and it should be. The future of our state and nation depends in a very real way on the education of our children. More than ever, we are competing in a global marketplace and must raise the level of education. We should not be afraid of high standards or hard tests. We can and should expect more of our students, more of our teachers, more of our parents, more of our legislature and more of our governor. I know these changes will not silence all of the critics, but I do hope that we can now take these divisive issues off the table and move forward, together, on the things that really matter.

Common Core’s Role in Hot State School Board Race

Originally posted at Posted with permission.


Senate President Niederhauser and House Speaker Hughes

The State School Board race has never drawn much attention before. But this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, businesses and even top-tier elected officials are personally campaigning and fundraising for and against certain candidates.

Yesterday’s headline was: “Niederhauser and Hughes ask Business Leaders to Help Defeat UEA-Backed School Board Candidates“.  Yesterday, too, business organizations such as the Utah Technology Council and the School Improvement Association joined Niederhauser and Hughes in a fundraising webinar that promoted a slate of pro-Common Core candidates who happen to be not favored by or funded by national teacher’s unions.

I understand why someone with a conscience would campaign against out-of-state big UEA-NEA money buying Utah’s state board election.  So they should.

But I don’t understand why these groups have chosen to campaign against both the anti-Common Core candidates (in blue) as well as against the UEA-backed candidates (in red) as they showed in this slide at yesterday’s insider fundraising webinar:


Nor do I understand why our House Speaker and Senate President don’t see the hypocrisy in speaking against big money buying votes (NEA) while both of them are personally funded by big business money (Education First).

But my bigger questions are: how do the Speaker and the Senate President dare to campaign for Common Core candidates, thus going directly against Governor Herbert’s call to end Common Core alignment in Utah?

How do they dare campaign against the resolution of their own Utah Republican Party that called for the repeal of the Common Core Initiative?

Have they forgotten the reasons that their party is strongly opposed to all that the Common Core Initiative entails?

Have they forgotten Governor Herbert’s letter that called for an end to Common Core and SAGE testing just four months ago? (See letter here.)  For all the talk about wanting to move toward local control and to move against the status quo, this seems odd.

Next to the governorship, there aren’t more powerful offices in the state than those held by House Speaker Hughes and Senate President Niederhauser. So what does this powerful endorsement of a certain slate of candidates signify?

First, it signifies what is probably a sincere concern for (partial) local control: In the fundraising webinar held yesterday (by Hughes, Niederhauser, the School Improvement Network and the Utah Technology Council) the following slide was displayed:  Out of $308,512 raised for the political action of the Utah UEA (teacher’s union) $300,000 of it came from out of state.  Hughes and Niederhauser are right in being alarmed at that money’s probable effect on local control.



(What they didn’t highlight is this: all of the anti-Common Core candidates’ funding, combined, doesn’t come close to what even one of the UEA-funded candidates are spending because none of them are backed by corporate or political powers.)

Secondly, it signifies Utah leadership’s alignment with Obama’s vision for education, which among other things mandates sidelining certain subjects in favor of others. Niederhauser told the Tribune that he didn’t want any board member’s vision to “dominate the board” which, to  him, meant to “supplant business and technology representatives.”  So he wants to make sure that business and technology is at least as dominant as any other interest.   The School Improvement Network is of the same opinion.

We could ask why. Why, specifically, would legislators be endorsing the fields of business and technology over the fields of languages, medicine, history, social work, the arts or any other thing?  And where’s the idealogical division between what NEA wants and what Niederhauser-Hughes want?  Is it fair to speculate that NEA corporate funders are in competition against the Education First corporate funders, and all of this is just an economic struggle pretending to be a struggle for the children’s best interests?  Utah tax dollars are, after all, the passionate pursuit of multiple players in the now $2 Billion per year ed tech sales industry.

Many people know that both Hughes and Niederhauser’s political campaigns are heavily funded by Education First, a Utah political action committee for Prosperity 2020 that puts businesses first.

Not voters first.  Not education –broadly– first; this is education as defined by the ed-tech sales industry and by Obama’s 2020 vision. Read it in their own words.  In an Tribune op-ed taking credit for passing legislation that Education First had lobbied for, you’ll see little focus on funding for paper and pens, school basketballs, violins, gluesticks, old-fashioned books, or heaven forbid, large teachers’ salaries– no, ed funding to Education First means to fund the priorities that precisely (coincidentally?) match Obama’s 2020 vision:  early childhood education (which competes with free enterprise/private preschools), workforce development (China-styled central planning) “community schools” (Obama’s vision to integrate healthcare with academics and with socio-political movements “using government schools as a hub”) and standardized personalized learning (an oxymoron that cements Common Core academics and its data tags).

Don’t mistake this as a fight between tech lovers and tech haters.  None of the candidates for state school board are anti-technology, though the smart ones are pushing for improved laws governing student privacy in this modern age.

So what are Hughes and Niederhauser really saying when they say they’re for the pro-tech candidates?  What does that really mean?  That Utahns should sit back and let the ed tech sales industry, or businesses, sit in the driver’s seat for educational decision-making?  That’s the stated aim of Education First (in Utah) and of Obama’s 2020 (nationally) and, according to his Tribune quote above, it’s also the aim of President Niederhauser.

Education First doggedly, directly, lobbies citizens, governments, and school districts, to strong-arm their narrow vision, that businesses should “help” direct education.  They refer to my child and yours as the economy’s.  They call children “human capital” on their website.  This is, when ripe, the 1992 Hillary-Tucker dream coming true, with the collective economy dictating to the individual on the assembly line.

Education First wants a high “concentration of science and engineering occupations” in Utah, which you may or may not agree with; what I hope you do agree with is that this new, business – public ed partnershipping governance system, with business being handed power to influence schooling, when taken to the extreme, is fascism.  In fascism, there’s no distinction between government and business.  And the voter has no say.

Do we want to walk down that slippery slope?  Do we want the Education First business community to be given power in schools?

Whether promoting science and engineering at the expense of other subject and careers is the will of the people, or not, really doesn’t come in to the discussion. Prosperity 2020 has said that businesses will “provide a business oriented plan to improve results” for schools.

If Hughes or Niederhauser would respond to my emails to them, I would ask them this:  how is it any more helpful toward Constitutional local control–  if that is what you really want– to let businesses take over the driver’s seat for educators, as your financial backers aim to do, than for out of state (NEA) funding to call the same shots?  Either way, students and schools and voters lose personal freedoms to self-appointed experts who think they know best.

So when Niederhauser worries that “big money groups effectively buy the election,” he is right.  The hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring in to NEA-UEA approved candidates’ purses should raise eyebrows.  But shouldn’t the same eyebrows rise too, seeing in-state big money groups like Education First and Prosperity 2020 now, as in the past, funding the pro-Common Core candidates –and funding Hughes and Niederhauser themselves– effectively buying the election in the very same way?

Meanwhile, none of the liberty-first, anti-Common Core candidates,  Alisa Ellis, Lisa Cummins, Michelle Boulter or Dr. Gary Thompson, are richly funded.   All they really have to stand on is true principles of liberty –and word of mouth.

Many voters know that Common Core is anti-local control.  The Governor almost lost in the primary to anti-Common Core challenger Jonathan Johnson because of this.  The Governor was repeatedly booed at political conventions this year because he had been such a promoter of the Common Core, prior to his turnaround.  What will the governor say about Niederhauser’s and Hughes’ current effort?  More importantly, what will voters say?

Dr. Gary Thompson, a district 10 candidate for state school board, said today:

“I was pleased the that the Speaker of the House and Senator Neiderhauser identified who the “anti common core” education candidates are in this election. I was pleased to be labeled as one of them. This provides a clear choice for members in the community to chose from as they please.  Comments made by the Speaker in regards to the UEA did not receive a prior endorsement by this campaign.  I look forward to having a professional, cordial discussion with my UEA endorsed opponent on September 28th regarding education issues that will affect our children in District 10″

For anyone wanting to watch the debates between state school board candidates, please check that schedule here. 


Pictured below are the candidates for state school board that I endorse, whom the UEA, NEA, UTC, SIN, Senate President and House Speaker do not:

For true local control of education:

Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter, Lisa Cummins, Dr. Gary Thompson.

alisa vote


lisa cummins

dr t

Utah is Losing Teachers. Clintons, Gates and Feds are Supplying Them

Lately we’re hearing a lot about America’s teachers leaving their beloved profession.  Utah’s State School Board is answering this problem, not by restoring local control over education, but by doubling-down on federal initiatives that dismantle local control over curriculum.

Here’s what every parent and local school board member needs to know about the teacher shortage:

Believe it or not, the teacher shortage was a pre-planned effect of the Common Core testing initiatives. Yep. As we’ve learned from the history of nations, governments create the problem and then step in with the solution (or noose).

And, now that Utah is losing teachers, guess who is already there to help us train more teachers?  Yep. The good old Feds and their Global partners. This racket is part of federal STEM initiatives.

Utah’s State School Board will begin giving licenses to teachers who receive training from “Master Teachers.” But, ask yourself this, “Who will be training the Master Teachers and who will the Master Teachers be?”

In July 2012, the Obama administration called for funding for its STEM Master Teacher Corp. The  goal is to train (and give federal stipends to) 10,000 Master Teachers in STEM fields—with the end-goal being to train 100,000 STEM teachers in 10 years.

An early announcement for this STEM Master teacher workforce was at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2011 meeting in Chicago. Here’s what 100Kin10 (a group that answered—after helping create—the Obama administration’s call to build the STEM Master Teacher pipeline) said about itself in July 2016,

“100Kin10 was launched five years ago at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Meeting in Chicago in June 2011, with 28 initial partners pledging to go above-and-beyond their existing strategies to help secure 100,000 excellent STEM teachers for America’s classrooms.”

Then, 100Kin10 announced that President Obama was a full partner:

“President Obama Announces 100Kin10 Has Commitments to the Full 100,000 New STEM Teacher Goal”

Then, they said, “100Kin10 joined with President Obama today, on National Teacher Appreciation Day, to announce that it has secured the commitments to train 100,000 new, excellent science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers by 2021, achieving a major milestone in the ambitious goal laid out by the President five years ago. As of today’s announcement, the 100Kin10 network of 280+ national partners has collectively pledged more than $90 million to support the development and ongoing support of 100,000 new STEM teachers; and 30,000 new teachers have already been trained. The President highlighted today’s achievement as a feature of his legacy on education.”

Now, don’t forget that STEM teaching and learning means something different to conservatives than it means to progressives, which is why local control of education is so critical. Remember that President Obama thinks that climate change is the world’s worst threat.

And, speaking to UNESCO in 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said,

“The United States cannot, acting by itself, dramatically reduce poverty and disease or develop sustainable sources of energy. America alone cannot combat terrorism or curb climate change. To succeed, we must collaborate with other countries.

Those new partnerships require American students to develop better critical thinking abilities, cross-cultural understanding, and facility in multiple languages. They also will require U.S. students to strengthen their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math—the STEM fields that anchor much of our innovation in the global economy.

These new partnerships must also inspire students to take a bigger and deeper view of their civic obligations—not only to their countries of origin but to the betterment of the global community. A just and socially responsible society must also be anchored in civic engagement for the public good.”

You’ll want to read the full speech because Arne talks about how Governors jumped onto the Fed’s Common Core bandwagon and that federal education reforms were about global/systemic change, not academic standards.

Bill Gates, the largest funder of Common Core AND the largest funder of the 100Kin10 initiative is in favor of combatting climate change by controlling population.

And, just for a little bit of history, this entire racket was started back in 2009 with the Obama administration’s Educate to Innovate initiative. The White House announced their goals:

  1. Build a CEO-led coalition to leverage the unique capacities of the private sector (what CEO’s do we see leading the STEM initiatives in Utah? Know any of them personally? Share this article with them.)
  2. Prepare 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers over the next decade
  3. Showcase and bolster federal investment in STEM
  4. Broaden participation to inspire a more diverse STEM talent pool

As reported by Science Magazine,
“The president’s plan would be to start with 2500 teachers—50 at 50 sites across the country—and add locations over the next 4 years until there were 10,000 teachers in the corps. The teachers, who would serve for 5 years, would be selected by the local districts and deployed as needed.”

Now, that the Feds have surpassed their first objective, their onto training 100,000 progressive teachers—and Utah’s State School Board is right on board with the federal agenda.

Utah’s State School Board elections could not be more critical than this year. Please. Vote for these candidates (which includes Jonathan Johnson for Governor, #HireJJ) so that we can restore local control over what our teachers learn and teach, and what our children learn about what creates freedom. Hint: It isn’t big government.

Utah Teacher Exposes Anti-Family Online Curriculum

Utah Teacher Shares Insights about State Approved Online Curriculum that Goes Against Family Values

reposted from

A Utah teacher deserves a BIG thank you from parents for taking time to document some of her concerns with the online curriculum used in her high school. The curriculum was approved by the State of Utah. Please take the time to read and share this excellent blog with your family, friends, school board members and legislators.

I would like to preface her blog with this:

In May 2014, conservative columnist George Will asserted that Common Core represented the “thin edge of an enormous wedge” and that “sooner or later you inevitably have a national curriculum.”

What George Will may not have known at the time was that the Obama administration was already using several levers to get states into online curriculum that essentially nationalizes curriculum. One such lever is the #GoOpen Initiative. Utah is a partner (see here and here) in the first consortium of states in the Federal Initiative that are collaborating on online curriculum content. Just as states were incentivized by Waivers and Race to the Top to rubber stamp Common Core standards and assessments, they are being incentivized by the #GoOpen Initiative to rubber stamp curriculum, and to sanction it based on its ability to increase children’s test scores on Common Core-aligned daily, online assessments in learning platforms.

The #GoOpen Initiative is part of a larger global and federal initiative to advance the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). In fact, the US Department of Education appointed a new advisor to help school districts transition to Open Educational Resources. The more states that adopt open-license, no-cost, online curriculum, the more teachers’ curriculum choices can be tracked, and steered, by the Federal Online Learning Registry. The Registry operates like a curriculum filter and ratings system. The Utah Education Network (UEN)—also called the Utah Education Telehealth Network (UETN)— houses online curriculum for Utah schools and is named as the entity implementing Utah’s Master Technology Plan. They are partnered with the Federal Online Learning Registry.

The above realities make it likely that few parents and teachers will know just how anti-family their children’s/students’ curriculum have gotten. We need more teachers to investigate the online curriculum in their schools (as opposed to just using teacher data dashboards to assign curriculum that they don’t see) and to be willing to share what they uncover for the sake of helping parents protect their children’s hearts and minds.

Thank you, Suzan Barnes! You are a hero to us and our children!

  • • • • • • • • • • •

Online Learning: A Wise Choice for Utah Schools?

Originally posted by Suzan Barnes on June 7,  2016 at:

Today online learning is encouraged more and more in our country. Proponents of this method say that computers help students learn better because 1) kids love screens and 2) learning is personalized allowing students to move at their own pace. In this essay, I will show that both of these presumed advantages can turn out to be liabilities. Other liabilities include lack of teacher involvement, lack of real-life experiences, lack of balance in content (specific to Edgenuity online curriculum), and lack of knowledge of content by teachers and parents.

Too Much Screen Time

Yes, kids love screens, and many parents complain that limiting screen-time at home is difficult. Regrettably, extensive use of screens in the classroom only increases screen-time. According to an article by Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. in Psychology Today, multiple studies have shown that too much screen time causes atrophy in the brain’s gray matter where “planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control” originate. Other areas affected are the striatum where socially unacceptable impulses are suppressed, the insula which provides the capacity for empathy and compassion, and the white matter which enables “communication within the brain and from the brain to the body and vice versa.” Dr. Dunckley concludes,

“In short, excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills. Use this research to strengthen your own . . . position on screen management, and to convince others to do the same.”

As shown above, children may be eager to learn in front of a screen, but the damage that occurs is likely to have a negative overall effect on their ability to learn.

Online Learning Is Not Personalized

Proponents of online learning say it is personalized to meet the individual needs of each student. In actuality, during an online lecture, the student and the virtual teacher are unable to communicate which essentially precludes personalization and makes online learning better suited to disseminating a single, subjective view of the world.

Lack of Teacher Involvement

When a teacher delivers a lecture, both the students and the teacher are meaningfully engaged in the lesson content. The students must digest the information and demonstrate their understanding of the subject in order to complete subsequent assignments.

By contrast, the teacher’s involvement in online lessons occurs mainly through use of the dashboard. The dashboard alerts a teacher that an action, such as unlocking a quiz, is needed in order for a student to move forward. The teacher can review a student’s scores on assignments leading up to a quiz, or unlock the quiz without looking at the scores. In either case, familiarity with the lesson material or thoughtful review of the students’ work is not required.

One problem that arises from the lack of thoughtful review is that students can copy material from the lesson content and paste it into the response box to get a score of 100% since the computer merely looks for matching or related words.

Every day I see students who scored 70% to 100% on assignments, score 20% to 50% on the quiz that covers the same material. It is likely that the copy-and-paste feature combined with the lack of teacher/student engagement is responsible for this. For these students, the goal is not to learn but to finish as quickly as possible, and teachers who spend much of their time as dashboard monitors have little time to invest in any individual student’s educational experience.

Lack of Real-Life Experiences

Pediatricians recommend zero screen time for children under 2 years of age. An important reason for this is that looking at a ball on a screen is not the same as looking at, touching, and playing with a real ball. Similarly, students learning from pictures and videos are merely gaining static information which is easily forgotten. Much more effective teaching occurs when students interact with real people who respond to them in real-time and with real interest, tossing ideas back and forth to explore a subject. Should teachers wish to facilitate a group discussion of online curriculum content, they would encounter the following difficulties as a result of different stages of their students’ progression: 1) students who are ahead have already moved on and may feel they are wasting their time with repeated information, and 2) students who are behind may have insufficient background to understand the material.

Lack of Balance in Curriculum Content (Specific to Edgenuity)

As I work with students, I encounter essay assignments that prompt me to look into a particular lesson’s content. For example, an essay topic such as, “Do you think that the Founding Fathers were justified in rebelling against the British government?” makes me wonder what in the lesson might prompt a student to answer in the negative. An essay topic such as, “Write an argumentative editorial that argues for or against young people’s ability to initiate positive change in their communities,” makes me wonder if the curriculum’s definition of “positive change” is the same as my own.

To help readers determine whether or not their values align with the Edgenuity curriculum, I have included the following examples of common themes. My experience is mostly in Language Arts, so it is this subject from which these examples are taken.


Language Arts 9 semester 2 contains a unit called “Fighting for Equality.” Rather than encouraging students to become “color blind,” the curriculum creates division by presenting readings where whites are aggressive or oppressive toward other races, thus encouraging all other races to view themselves as victims.


In Language Arts 11 semester 2, repeated references are made to Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles.” These works lead young women toward dissatisfaction with the role of wife and mother and disrespect for those who fulfill that role. The following themes are drilled into the minds of our young people through repetitious quiz questions.

From “Trifles” –

  • Women face abuses and injustices in a male-dominated society as symbolized by a bird with a broken neck
  • Women are “confined” by the duties of wife and mother
  • Women often feel pressured to conform to society’s expectations

From The Feminine Mystique

  • Women frequently go unheard in a male-dominated society
  • Women can feel suffocated and trapped by society’s expectations
  • Women who are “stuck” at home often have feelings of dissatisfaction, desperation, and hopelessness.

After students read all the excerpts about how women are suffocated by men, an excerpt from Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway ends with the idea that girls are nice to look at, but not worth making the effort to court or marry. This excerpt encourages the boys to objectify women.

While awareness that some women have experienced oppression has some value, and knowledge of how our culture has evolved is an important part of learning about our nation’s history, the Edgenuity curriculum presents no point of view outside of that cited above. No discussion occurs about the benefits that society in general, and children in particular, receive from women who choose to raise their own offspring and provide well-managed homes for their families. Rather than empowering women to use their talents in whatever way they prefer, young women are encouraged to feel like vengeful victims who must continue “the fight” to overcome the abuses perpetrated by men.


Humans are portrayed as enemies of the earth. One article, “Save the Redwoods,” written by John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club,* compared cutting down a sequoia tree to make wood products with passing General George Washington “through the hands of a French cook [to make] good food” (Language Arts 9 semester 1). The Middle School Reading Course semester 1 contains an entire unit called “Environment: Extreme Weather” which presents global warming as a fact illustrating its consequences through articles such as “Global Warming in Siberia,” “Global Warming and Superbugs,” and “Weather of Tomorrow.”.

Video gaming

Middle School Reading semester 1 also includes multiple units on “The World of Gaming” in which students are assigned to read a “Persuasive Essay against ESRB Labeling Restrictions.” The essay assignment is, “What game do you like to play and why?” While helping a student with a quiz, I came upon a reading informing students that gaming helps develop quicker reflexes and suggesting that they could use that as an argument the next time their parents told them they were spending too much time playing video games. Targeting parents who struggle to limit their children’s game time and suggesting that parents do not know best pits young people against their parents rather than encouraging respect and obedience.

A negative world view

Edgenuity is replete with stories and excerpts depicting conflict and oppression. Some examples from Language Arts 10 semester 1 follow:

  • “Diary 24” from “The Freedom Writers Diary” by Erin Gruwell (A homeless black girl starts 10th grade at a school where racial tensions are high)
  • “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan (Mother/daughter conflict)
  • “Identifying Conflict” (A young girl’s experience in a Nazi camp)
  • “An Interview with Marielle Tsukamoto: A First-Hand Account of Japanese Internment”
  • “Night” by Elie Wiesel (A boy’s experience in a Nazi camp)

As stated earlier, knowledge of historical events is a valuable part of an education.  However, when students move from one depressing excerpt to another without class discussions which might offer solutions, parallels, and/or opposing viewpoints they can come away with a negative view of the world in which they live. Without class discussions, lessons generally proceed as follows:

  • Students watch a lecture preparing them for a reading
  • Students read the text
  • Students watch another lecture guiding their interpretation of the readings
  • Students complete at least one assignment pertaining to the material
  • Students are quizzed to make sure that their interpretation is “correct.”
  • The process is repeated

Lack of Knowledge of Content by Teachers and Parents

Ideally, teachers would listen to all the lectures and review the entire curriculum frame by frame and gain first-hand knowledge of the material presented. However, keeping up with dashboard alerts creates a fast-paced situation, and since they trusts the curriculum to cover all Common Core requirements, and this step is not required for students to progress and finish the courses, gaining more than incidental knowledge of the curriculum is generally not a priority. If teachers happen to discover a concept with which they do not agree, they can present an opposing viewpoint in a lecture or during a group discussion. But as mentioned above, group teaching presents its own set of difficulties when students are all in different stages of progression and possibly even studying different subjects altogether. Sharing opposing views with each student separately is too time-consuming and could be construed as pushing the teacher’s person values on an individual, so it is not a viable option.

As for parents, if no textbook ever comes home, they have limited access to the ideas being presented to their children. A parent must be aware of an objectionable teaching before they can counter it.

Many factors make it difficult for online learning to deliver a quality education. Quality learning is facilitated by real people exploring ideas and exchanging views through real-life activities and personal interactions. Through online learning, students are lead to accept the point of view put forward by the makers of the program, and as I have shown, much of the content of Edgenuity presents a divisive agenda promoting racism, feminism, and environmentalism along with a generally negative world view.


* Denigration of human life should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Sierra Club. David Brower, a founder, suggested the following: “Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.” He further stated, “The goal now is a socialist, redistributionist society, which is nature’s proper steward and society’s only hope.”

Governor Herbert calls on State Board to End CC and SAGE

Jonathan Johnson This morning Jonathan Johnson called on Utah to end SAGE testing. Tonight Governor Herbert called on the state board to get Utah out of Common Core standards and SAGE testing. Dang I love election years!Governor Herbert

With Jonathan Johnson defeating Governor Herbert at the GOP convention 55%-45%, largely influenced by Common Core issues, the Governor no doubt had an awakening. I have never doubted the Governor’s intentions to provide a quality education to Utah children, but I still find this move politically opportunistic to try and salvage his chances of being re-elected. Of course, the Governor can make this call knowing he has no authority to actually carry it out. That belongs to the state board…

Having had several discussions with Jonathan Johnson, I know he is fully committed to principles of local control that I’m not sure the governor is committed to at the same level based on his letter. His letter brings out some positives for sure, but I believe it’s time LEA’s (Local Education Agency) had much greater control over their financing, standards, assessments, data collection and privacy, and the state shrunk back in it’s role interfering with local education (and of course the feds are cut out of the picture completely).

In essence, here is what the Governor said:

-Common Core had a poor implementation (Oak: this is the go-to excuse for all failure programs like Investigations math)

-Naturally, he said there is misinformation on the subject, but added for what I think is the first time, that there are legitimate concerns.

-He asks the state board to change out the standards and keep these three principles in mind:
–Maintain high standards in all subject areas
–Keep the feds out of education decisions
–Preserve local control of curriculum, testing, data collection, and instructional practices.

-Make the process public (not something that happened the first time)

-There are shortcomings to the one-size-fits-all approach. We need standards that are flexible to allow a wide variety of curricular decisions by individual school districts.

-Eliminate the SAGE mandate for high school (and evaluate the effectiveness of it in other grade levels)

-“I have eleven grandchildren in Utah public schools. I have seen firsthand the frustration they and their parents have had over an assignment they did not understand and that teachers struggled to teach.”

End of summary.

No doubt this will be nationwide news that Utah’s Governor who has been one of the biggest proponents of Common Core, now wants out. That’s helpful for the entire movement across the country and for that, I’m grateful.

To download a copy of Governor Herbert’s letter, click here.

To see the near immediate response of the state board (ie. at least some of the knew this was happening and prepared this response), click here.

Dr. Duke Pesta: From Farce to Fiction

Dr. Duke Pesta has given hundreds of presentations around the country on Common Core. Below is a link to one of his very best. It shows the origin of Common Core and those involved with it talking about exactly how it came about and how we won’t know for a decade if it works. To the contrary, we are already seeing evidence that it does not work as math and reading scores are declining nationwide.

Dr. Pesta’s video will not allow for embedding so you will have to click this link to watch it.

Michigan just took the best action possible. It dumped Common Core and has adopted the pre-Common Core Massachusetts standards which Fordham said are superior to Common Core.

Time to Admit the Obvious: Common Core Has Failed Spectacularly

The lie that Phil Daro (one of the original drafters of the math standards) declared the creation of Common Core was for social justice to level the playing field, but in reality it is only being played out in that our best and brightest are being held back.  Unfortunately the learning gap between the rich and poor has actually widened under Common Core (as predicted). Here’s a report from Stanford on 200 million student’s scores and what they show. Make no mistake, this is 100% on Common Core even though this article doesn’t mention it. Common Core has been around for six years now with full implementation for at least four.

Local education inequities across U.S. revealed in new Stanford data set

It is unfortunate that when I tried to introduce the elementary math parent review committee to the incredible success California was having with low-socioeconomic students and minorities, increasing their proficiency in algebra one by a 6x factor over 10 years, I was shut down by Diana Suddreth at the USOE. They had no intention of letting Utah switch off Common Core. California’s success didn’t meet the agenda of doing this nationwide experiment on our children.

Governor Herbert’s Outrageous Claim

Governor Herbert's Outrageous ClaimIt’s an election year and I think that’s about all the explanation we need to understand a recent political flier from Governor Herbert. The Governor has to be a little worried about his political race this year. His challenger strongly opposes Common Core and its associated agenda, and Governor Herbert has been one of the strongest advocates for Common Core in the country. It therefore takes special nerve to put out a large color mailer where the very first claim on it is:

Gov Herbert common core

Lets look at some of Governor Herbert’s past love affair with Common Core.

1) In November 2010, Governor Herbert published an article entitled “Governor’s Education Excellence Commission to Consider Action Items for Strategic Plan.” In this document he stated “Our next step is to put the meat on the bones of our plan and outline the clear steps that will allow us to reach our goal.”  Items three and four of his eight point plan was:

“3) Implementing the Common Core Standards.

4. Expanding computer-adaptive, formative assessments based on the Common Core and implementing college- and career- ready assessments such as the ACT cadre of tests.”

2) In February 2014, Governor Herbert was asked by The Blaze about Common Core and stated:

“Common Core was designed initially by the states,” Herbert told TheBlaze. “It’s really just a common goal. It predates my time. Governors were upset about the progress of education. We’re falling behind. So states simply said, ‘Why don’t we have a common goal on language arts and math, and whoever you are in this country, when it comes to getting a high school diploma, you have some kind of minimal proficiency?’ That aspect of it was good.”

“We certainly don’t want to have the government overreaching and dictating to the states, certainly not to Utah, about our methodology, how we’re going to do it, what our textbooks are, what our testing is going to be,” Herbert said.

“In fact in Utah, we’ve passed a law to say that can’t happen. We have a law that says if any of this federal overreach somehow gets into our system, we are mandated to get out of it. I think our education, our state school board, our education leaders, we’ve always controlled our own curriculum, we’ve always controlled our own textbooks and testing. We’ll continue to do that in Utah.”

Once you became governor, it was YOUR pen that sealed the deal by signing us onto the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium which agreed to fully implement Common Core and other federal education agenda items. YOUR signature Governor that “[certified] that as a Governing State [we are] fully committed to the application and will support its implementation.”


Then in 2011, YOU signed the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application which obligated Utah’s support for four major federal reforms. This is the heart of Common Core. It’s never been just about standards although you and the state office of education have tried to make it that. It’s a much wider net.

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application

The four reforms you signed us onto in this document include redistribution of teachers, setting up massive database tracking on students, adopting Common Core standards and assessments, and putting “turnaround” experts in schools so in time, every school will be reshaped by “experts” instead of teachers and parents.

Governor Herbert also signed the Race to the Top Application Assurances for both phase 1 and 2, promising to implement the four federal reforms listed above. Phase 2 was just to tweak our application and increase our chances at getting money from this federal lottery. RTTT phase 1 RTTT phase 2

Frankly, I’m surprised anyone believes Common Core was state led anymore. Except for the constant parroting of that lie by the education establishment and those who fail to actually do their homework, Common Core would have died already.

Here’s just a couple of pieces of the pie.  David Coleman was one of the chief architects of Common Core itself. In 2008, he helped convince Bill Gates to bankroll this effort, and then began the major effort to convince the governors that they should sign on. Listen to David say it himself, and how Common Core was created by a few people in a room on a napkin.

Our own Utah State Office of Education didn’t even know who was on the drafting committee of the original standards when they were being drafted back in 2009-10!

The standards weren’t state-led, they were Gates-led. Bill Gates’ Foundation gave tens of millions of dollars to the NGA and CCSSO to get them to come together on common standards and then a secretive committee wrote the standards. Why was Bill interested in this? He’s openly stated it. Big business opportunities exist when you standardize. It was never about standards. It always included assessments, and yes, curriculum would be forthcoming as Bill Gates stated in 2009, otherwise we would never know if the standards would work.

Then this would unleash huge market forces (translation: big players like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, would demolish and put the small players out of business leaving them to rake in billions of dollars as those with monopoly power always do). Watch Bill state it himself back in 2009. Local control of curriculum? Not so much when the now small group of publishers align their texts to the standards and assessments (and now the college entrance exams, CLEP, AP, and GED).

Finally, even the feds have now admitted they coerced the states into adoption.

3) On April 6, 2014, Governor Herbert appeared on Red Meat Radio and made this statement:

“Now I recognize that there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there, and some of that’s in part because people think we’re involved in the Common Core, and the difference between that and the Utah core, and we think there’s some kind of a federal overreach here, and that’s an exaggeration.”

So in a classic move under pressure, the Governor sought to play a name game. Lets not call it Common Core anymore because that’s a hot potato that the state superintendent already admitted included federal pressure… Lets call it Utah Core and pretend they’re different.

Just a few months earlier in February 2014, I had an email exchange with State Superintendent Martell Menlove. This was his response to this name game. (underlining mine)

Mr. Norton,

The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.

Thanks for seeking this clarification.

As noted previously, I continue to be willing to meet with you at your convenience to hear your concerns.


Martell Menlove

Utah adopted the national Common Core standards two days after they were made public, exactly as written.

4) Now to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which Governor Herbert crows about how wonderful it is for releasing us from the restrictive No Child Left Behind. This is the bill that Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:

“I’m stunned. at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it…

…if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e.,Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

He also said:

“We were intentionally quiet on the bill — they asked us specifically not to praise it — and to let it get through,” he explained. “And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact…. Our goal was to get this bill passed — intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill…. We were very strategically quiet on good stuff.”…

So Arne Duncan and the Obama administration got everything they ever wanted, by staying quiet as Republicans played themselves into their hands. Deft Arne. This should actually be of great concern to people since Arne also wants to “phase out the authority of the states,” in dealing with the disadvantaged, and is a big fan of increasing the length of the school day and week.

In fact, after ESSA passed, the Whitehouse released a document stating: “Not only does ESSA cement progress already made, it embraces much of the vision the Administration has outlined for education policy since 2009.”

ESSA’s text was released just a couple days before the vote, naturally. You wouldn’t want people reading something that size before voting on it. After a massive effort by Alyson Williams and a few dozen parents to dissect it in a day, they got that information to our congressional delegation and all four House members and Senator Mike Lee voted against this bill. Yet Governor Herbert said this about ESSA:

“This is a significant step in the right direction in our work to ensure state control of education policy. This bill reinforces that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It is a clear example of cooperative federalism, which is a core tenant of this association. It emphasizes that states and localities have the freedom to provide students the world-class education they deserve.”

So what is this significant step in the right direction the governor sees?

Click on this link to go to a text comparison of some federal requirements under NCLB and ESSA. They are essentially the same.

We got rid of Annual Yearly Progress under NCLB, but what else happened? The federal secretary of education now has the ability to VETO our state education plans (The [federal] secretary shall ‘‘(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan”). Testing actually increases under ESSA.

We also got these very troubling additions in ESSA.

Private Schools

(B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure such equity for such private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, the State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of this part.’’ (pg. 71)

What? Private schools now get government monitors?!?! Yes.

Family plans

ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.”(pg. 69) The Federal Department of HHS and Education have put together a draft implementation document to show how they recommend this be implemented. Here’s one blogger’s analysis of this plan and below are quotes.

“Implement[s] a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences” (Page 5)
See “parenting interventions” (pg. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16)
ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.” (, Pg. 69)
States shall “become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement;” (IBID, pg. 218)
Provides grants to turn elementary and secondary schools into “Full-Service Community Schools”  with “Pipeline Services” that provide “a continuum of coordinated supports, services, and opportunities for children from birth through… career attainment”, including family health services. (IBID pg. 222, 223, 229)”

What? Family engagement plans with parenting interventions?!?! Yes!
The state is an active participant in a new school-parent compact?!?! Yes!
PRENATAL development tracking through career attainment?!?!?! Yes!
Reducing parents from primarily responsible for their children’s education to a stakeholder in partnership with the state and educators?!?!?!?! Yes!

Governor, which part of this is that “significant step in the right direction” you mentioned above?

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, and the other politicians asleep at the wheel who don’t read bills before you pass or evangelize them. Wait… or DID you actually read it??? Maybe you have so fully embraced federal education policies that you value these new interventions???

5) I can’t leave this article without correcting something else. As I’ve been at some of the meet the candidate events, the Governor and his crew are still touting how the state attorney general issued a report on Common Core that says implementation didn’t cede state authority. For a more complete analysis of that report, read Christel Swasey’s write up here.

Three things came out of this report which the Governor and staff fail to ever bring up. The report states that:

  1. Utah’s math and ELA core, were in fact Common Core, something the Governor kept denying. (see point 3 above)
  2. The US Dept. of Education (by imposing waiver conditions and pushing states to adopt federally approved standards) “has infringed upon local and state authority over public education” and that Utah and other states “consented to this infringement through federal coercion.” (emphasis mine)
  3. The report correctly said that “Utah has the legal ability to repeal” Common Core.

Mr. Governor, may I bring your attention to point 2 again?

As for point 3, the governor is exactly right that we didn’t cede state authority. We just don’t exercise the necessary leadership to get us out of this mess because Governor Herbert is the current president of the National Governor’s Association (NGA) which created Common Core with Bill Gate’s money and withdrawing could prove embarrassing and start a bigger chain reaction among states. Governor, you also promised that math and ELA would be the only Common Core subjects Utah would adopt, but now we’ve adopted the Common Core science standards as well.

I encourage you all to read Christel’s full write-up because there are several things the report got wrong. Also realize that it was the Governor’s office that chose the questions the Attorney General was to answer. There are a host of other questions we wanted to have addressed that weren’t.

6) I just received Governor Herbert’s “Open Letter” on Common Core so I have to add a comment about one of the Governor’s claims here. He says:

“I signed into law SB 287 – a bill that makes it illegal for the federal government to have any control.”

No it doesn’t. No law in our state makes it “illegal” for the federal government to have “any control.” They get all the control we cede to them, and we most certainly have. They dictate flexibility requirements, and as noted above there are numerous controls they possess including veto power over our education plans.

Governor Herbert, at Senator Dayton’s request, I drafted that bill (2012 SB 287) you’re referring to. It was to be our *get out of jail free card,* and it’s largely worthless as you signed it. It doesn’t do what you’re suggesting. Oh it sort of did when I drafted it, where I listed off a bunch of triggers that said if any of these things happen, Utah “shall exit” that federal agreement. Unfortunately by the time it reached your pen, it said, “may exit.” Toothless and spineless thanks to interference from some who were nervous we might actually stand up to the federal government. If it did what you actually suggest, why haven’t you utilized it and showed the feds you mean business since some of those triggers have been pulled?

7) Someone just reminded me about this one. In 2013, 65.5% of state delegates voted for a resolution calling on the Governor, legislature, and state board to get us out of the Common Core agenda. The Governor has just ignored this completely.

In conclusion, any talk of the Common Core standards being “just standards” or “state-led” is an abominable lie. These standards were masterminded by a small secretive group with an agenda. For more information on that agenda, Please read the following articles.

This article constitutes an attempt to set the record straight. I agree with many of the things the Governor has done the past several years and applaud his efforts in blocking funding to Planned Parenthood, signing the parental rights and opt-out bill that Senator Osmond ran, and many other things. This is not meant to be a personal attack on the Governor himself, but he invites a rebuttal when he infers certain things in his advertising and openly states partial facts. His campaign statements do not reflect a reality of events that are well known nationwide, and even in his own Common Core history.

For what it’s worth I have had a number of conversations with Jonathan Johnson, currently running for Governor against Gary Herbert. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a real conversation about education issues with Jonathan, send him further information, and have him actually read it and get back to me and others with specific thoughts on what we sent him. We might not always agree 100% of the time, but he’s actually put in the time and effort to understand a different point of view. In the past we have tried to discuss issues with Governor Herbert but his reply was always, “talk to my education advisor,” (who also happens to support Common Core in a huge way).  As a result of my experience and communications with Jonathan Johnson, I personally endorse him in his bid to become governor. Here are some other important reasons why I support hiring JJ.