Parents Demand Real Answers at Alpine District Meeting on Common Core A.I.R. Tests

Yesterday I attended the Alpine School District meeting, where U.S.O.E. representative John Jesse, director of assessments, gave a presentation about the new Common Core testing system created by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  I went with Alisa, Renee, my sister and others whose district is Alpine.  I wanted to compare the attitudes of parents and teachers in Alpine to Wasatch District, where the same meeting was held last Monday.

Alpine’s meeting was so different.

The room was packed, with extra chairs being brought in and still, standing room only.  I have no idea if the majority of people were teachers, principals, or parents, but obviously, many people were concerned and many more came than had been anticipated by the district.

John Jesse had apparently predetermined that no questions would be taken until after the hour-long presentation.  When a parent raised her hand to ask a question, Mr. Jesse said that he would not answer the question until later.

The parent said that it was necessary to answer it now to understand, and other parents shouted out, “Just answer her question,” but Mr. Jesse would not.  The shouts of support continued to the point that Mr. Jesse appeared truly unreasonable, yet he would not budge.

Mr. Jesse lost the respect and confidence of his audience by refusing to answer questions as they came up.

Audience members (parents? teachers? administrators?)  decided to write their questions on the large white board wall on the side of the meeting room.  It was flooded with questions quickly. I wish I would have written them all down to share with you here.

When an audience member asked how long, after a test, parents would be able to see the test items (a week? a month? longer?) Mr. Jesse said that in order to be able to release the tests to the public each year (like ACT, SAT, etc, do), they would need to have a new set of tests created each year.

He said that one set of adaptive test items costs Utah taxpayers $32M. In his words, “It’s so expensive to build these tests, it’s just not possible to make these test items available to parents.”  (Money trumps legal, moral parental rights?!)

One parent asked why we are spending so much money on these tests rather than using the money to reduce class size.

Other parents brought up the illegality of not allowing parents to view test questions (referring to the rule that only 15 parents, appointed by the state, would have that privilege.)  One parent showed Mr. Jesse a copy of the bill that states that the Common Core Computer Adaptive Tests must collect ”behavioral indicators” along with academic indicators.

She also had a copy of the state FERPA (Privacy law) and read portions aloud to Mr. Jesse, showing the violations of Common Core test and data collection.

Alisa and I had to leave early because we were on our way to make a presentation about the Common Core agenda to a group in Murray.  I quickly wrote my billion dollar question on a note and asked my sister if she would ask it.  (Even though I had been standing up, waving my arm back and forth, Mr. Jesse had not called on me during the Q and A.) I had to leave, I thought, without asking my question.

The exit door was next to the presenter.  I decided to ask my question on my way out. So I turned to the audience, the presenter and superintendent. To the best of my recollection (a videotaper –I hope– will post the video of the event soon) this is what I said:

“In medicine, the motto is FIRST DO NOT HARM. The same applies to education. We are here discussing the wonderful technology of the Common Core tests, but the standards on which they are built have not been vetted and there’s not a shred of evidence shown, ever, to prove to us that these standards are not doing harm and that the claims being made about them, claims being replicated across all district websites, are true.  There is no evidence. I am a credentialed Utah teacher and testify to you that the Common Core is a detriment to our students.  I don’t hold Mr. Jesse or Mr. Menlove personally accountable or blame them, but I say to all of us, as a state, we MUST get OUT of Common Core.”

It seemed as if the entire room jumped to its feet and started cheering and applauding. I felt like Pedro after Napoleon Dynamite finishes the dance. The audience was cheering enthusiastically on and on, and I didn’t know what to do.  (Do I take a bow? Do I run out the door?)  I stood and blinked at all the people in shock and joy.

I share this because I want to offer hope to the parents, teachers, school board members and administrators who have yet to attend these A.I.R. trainings.  Parents don’t want Common Core for the kids once they find out what the whole agenda is about.  Parents are standing up. They are speaking out. They are demanding to see evidence of claims.  They don’t want their kids being used as guinea pigs and they don’t like the lack of parental control and stifled teacher voices.

I heard that after I left the meeting, parents passed around a signup list to have a rally at the State Capitol.  But I also heard, sadly, that after I left the meeting, some parents became overly hostile and that Mr. Jesse was hostile as well.

I was not there then; this is hearsay, but I do hope that all those who stand for educational freedom do so with dignity and respect.  We do not wish to humiliate our leaders.  We just want them to do the right thing and study this fully and act then act on the knowledge that we are, in fact, being acted upon by an increasingly oppressive Executive Branch at the federal level.  This is harming quality, legitimate education.  It is harming data privacy rights.  It is removing local control.  We need our leaders to act.  But we do not want to be unkind.

I heard that at the Cedar meeting earlier yesterday, the USOE separated the teachers and the parents because they didn’t want teachers hearing the parental controversy.  This is wrong.  Do not put up with that.  These controversies affect us all.  We are in this together.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the state meetings.  Please share with friends.  Show up and make sure your voice is heard.  These are your children. This is your tax money.  These are your rights.  I think Republicans, Democrats, teachers, parents and administrators can agree that we want no part of education without representation, and no part of education standards and tests that lack references, pilot testing or legitimate vetting.


See NEW Calendar Page

Jordan District4–6 pm Elk Ridge Middle School / Auditorium3659 W 9800 S, South Jordan Wednesday March 20

Granite District4–6 pm District Office / Auditorium A2500 S State Street, Salt Lake City Thursday March 21

Salt Lake District4–6 pm District Office/ Room 116440 E 100 S, Salt Lake City Monday March 25

Washington District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room121 W Tabernacle St., St. George Thursday March 28

Tooele District4–6 pm Stansbury High School / Auditorium 5300 N Aberdeen Lane, Stansbury Park Tuesday April 2

Park City District4–6 pm Ecker Hill Middle School2465 W Kilby Rd, Park City Wednesday April 3

Grand District4–6 pm Grand County High School / Auditorium608 S 400 E, Moab Thursday April 4

San Juan District4–6 pm San Juan High School / Arena Theater311 N 100 E, Blanding Monday April 8

Wasatch District4–6 pm District Office101 E 200 N, Heber Tuesday April 9

Iron District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room2077 W Royal Hunte Dr., Cedar City Tuesday April 9

Carbon District4–6 pm District Office/ Training Room 1251 W 400 N, Price Wednesday April 10

Sevier District4–6 pm District Office/ Training Room180 W 600 N, Richfield Thursday April 11

Box Elder District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room960 S Main, Brigham City Thursday April 11

Alpine District4–6 pm District Office575 N 100 E, American Fork Thursday April 11

Weber District4–6 pm District Office / Board Room5320 Adams Ave. Parkway, Ogden Tuesday April 16

Logan District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room101 West Center, Logan /Tuesday April 16

Juab District4–6 pm Juab High School / Little Theater802 N 650 E, Nephi Wednesday April 17

Nebo District4–6 pm District Office/ Board Room350 S Main, Spanish Fork Thursday April 18

Davis 4–6 pm District Office / Kendell Bldg (2nd Floor)70 E 100 N, Farmington Tuesday April 23

Uintah District 4–6 pm Maeser Training Center1149 N 2500 W, Vernal Thursday April 25

11 thoughts on “Parents Demand Real Answers at Alpine District Meeting on Common Core A.I.R. Tests”

  1. I did not see anyone get hostile and I stayed until almost the very end. What I did see was a lot of frustrated parents, teachers and other concerned citizens like myself that were not getting answers to their questions. We all felt like Mr. Jesse and the other gentleman (I apologize I don’t know his name) that took over for part of the time avoided or sidestepped the questions they finally let people ask. There was more than one parent around me that kept saying, “he is being untruthful” or “he is being misleading”. We wanted answers and I felt like we walked away without being satisfied. One lady asked, “if we already have UTIPS in place why can’t we just make it better instead of joining up with Common Core?” Of course we didn’t get any real answers to this question. It also seemed to me that if the question you were asking as one of the audience was one they particularly wanted to avoid answering they wouldn’t let you ask anymore questions. I also heard several parents around me say it was time to home school. We all need to stand up and say “NO” we are not going to take this. We are not going to except our children being exposed to this kind of “testing” or “data collecting” whatever you want to call it is wrong all the way around. Not to mention the curriculum. It seems by design that they put the meetings at a time that is hard for people to attend. Do they have something to hide? We can’t let them intimidate us we have to demand answers and get us out of this horrible thing called Common Core. We can do better for our kids. They are our future.

  2. I was at the meeting for Alpine last night and I heard you.I’m the one who wanted you to come over by us in the front. Thank you for all you and the others are doing. I only went to high school but I have 35 grandkids and I am so scared for them. I’m doing my homework on common core and I am trying to do what I can to stop it. I was so glad to hear all the comments that were what I wanted to say. Please contact us when you do something that we can help with . We are spreading the word to all we see. I could tell the ones who had been on line and came prepared. I had all my questions in my hands but others ask them first, so thanks to all of you again for loving our children and fighting for us all. Gloria Goss.

  3. I stayed until the bitter end and I never saw any parents get hostile. I did see Mr. Jesse treat parents like they were stupid and I saw him and the Mr. Menlove sidestep questions, patronize those asking questions and get flustered and short with the parents who were there because they care. It was an energetic and passionate group, but I saw no disrespect from parents.

    It was clear to me that the vast majority of those there were against common core. There were several people scattered throughout the room that appeared to be strategic plants who offered positive feedback about the whole program. I was sitting close to a teacher who spoke out in favor of the direction we’re going. At one point during the question segment, he leaned over to a man that was with him and said, “These parents are all about opposition to the liberal agenda. They’re willing to give up a great program because of the liberal people behind it.”

    He’s right. We’re worried about both the agenda AND the people behind it. I don’t want this for my kids and we have to get organized and stop it.

    1. Standing,
      In MO, in my school, our administrators have basically told us that ZcC is oming and we should be ready. We were shown a brief video, created by the government, I assume, that shows what they alledge the CC is meant to do. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but there was no proof provided that this will work, no studies or research referenced. The teachers may have been plants, may be libs at heart, or might have been turned off by the rhetoric and turned against the conservatives just out of habit. That’s ok if they’re upset, I figure. I think it is more important they know WE are upset and concerned.

      I agree with you: he is right on target when he says we don’t likeit because a lib is behind it. But, the truth is deeper. We are against it and the libs because of what they stand for: limited parental involvement so the gov can raise kids the way they need.

      Eerily, this harkens to what Kitty Werthmann teaches about when Hitler GRADUALLY took over Austria and the reeducation of its youth. More at this link. It is worth the read.

  4. I stayed till the end also and never saw anyone get hostile. Frustrated yes, but everyone was pretty civil considering the emotions running high from parents realizing that they were completely being taken out of the equation. Parents are no longer stake holders in this thing called education. We produce human capital for the state and thats about it. The main stake holders we heard about were the state officials and the powerful assessment company. Even the teachers will now play a minor role in education…that of test giver without even being the one who makes up the test or grades it.

  5. Not exactly…at the meeting in my district, we were told how lucky we were that we would help write the test questions. We even get free unpaid training on how to write questions for their tests that might be approved…and if approved, we don’t get paid, but how lucky that all that extra work will look good on our resumes. Aren’t we teachers so excited? It is one thing to write an assessment on a topic taught, but writing for adaptive computer assessments is something else entirely…and back when I was a kid, textbooks at my private school were great and came with reviews, practice and very good tests. That way, the teacher actually had a pretty poorly paid job, but she or he really did work 8 or 9 hour days, no weekends, and did have summers off so it was fair. Now, I am poorly paid, have to write curriculum and assessments, write pacing guides, write scope and sequences, research, find, and often fund books for my curriculum, attend grad courses mandated by the district, attend professional development over the summer which values my time at a little over $10/hour (of course at least I get some pay for that..I don’t get paid for my eleven hour days, the weekend days at school prepping materials and planning out my week and writing units, the full time work writing Core aligned curriculum over the summer, etc.).

    I bet it won’t be long before each teacher is required to write a certain amount of test questions for free. That seems the next illogical step my district or the state will take when overworked teachers aren’t jumping at the chance to write the test we are paying for.

  6. I notice that many of the dates listed for upcoming assessment meetings appear to be different than the dates published at the State School Board site: . The site’s date for Alpine’s assessment presentation shows the correct date (April 11) as opposed to the date shown in this posting (April 16). Is there to be another meeting? Are the postings pertaining to a new or different list or are the dates shown here typos? For instance, we anticipate attending our local Nebo meeting on April 18th. The posting here would suggest the meeting being on the 23rd. We don’t want to miss “it” whenever it is held. Thanks

  7. All,
    I am deeply encouraged by your article and posts. I attended a town hall meeting in St. Louis, MO that state legislators organized with a Common Core reviewer that educated the public about DESE (department of elementary and secondary education) meetings that occured 2 weeks later. DESE was trying to show they HAD educated the public amply about Common Core, however, from the town hall meeting, we knew DESE had selected an incomplete, slanted view of Common Core to share with the public and that this was meant to be but a token meeting to cover their bases. The DESE meeting was mixed: some supporters, some critics who dislike CC for the same reasons expertly stated in your article. Similarly, many public attendees got upset, but overall there was a clear message of discomfort and resistance.

    The website I listed isn’t mine. I learned about the organization and website at the town hall meeting.

    Our MO legislators encouraged us to push for more information to be released and made clear, instead of directly pushing for Common Core to be retracted. The same legislators encouraged us to send letters and emails to other MO legislators asking that the bill be pushed through the House and Senate (state) and this has been granted. The bill stated that the public needed more exposure to the details of CC before it is enacted. Woo hoo! I call it a small victory, but at least it is something.

    Keep up the good work. Getting the word out at this stage and asking questions is working across the country. We are being heard and it is still early enough for new decisions to be made. A small enlightened group CAN make a difference.

    –Me in MO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.