Tag Archives: Arne Duncan

Stop Common Core Presentation by Christel Swasey

Stop Common Core

Talk given by Christel Swasey at the Weber County Republican Women’s Meeting Jan.7, 2013

A few months ago a University of Utah exhibit displayed original documents, newspapers, books and letters written by Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and many others.  The exhibit did not only show the freedom fighters’ side of the argument, but also displayed articulate, meaningful debate from the other side.  The heated 1700’s argument boiled down to either standing for local freedom or standing for America remaining a managed colony under England’s non-representative government.

In retrospect, how obvious it is to us which side was correct; America should be free.  But at the time it was not so clear to all. Both sides had strong arguments that made some sense.

There is a similar, heated battle going on in America over education now.  Will we retain local freedom or will we be a managed colony under the Department of Education’s rule, with no say over testing, education standards and innovation?  Unconstitutional though it is, this is the battle we face today– a battle for control of American classrooms.  Most parents, students, teachers, governors and even State School Board Members seem unaware that it is going on at all.

It’s a battle for constitutional education with local decision making, versus nationalized education without representation. It’s a battle between states retaining the freedom to soar, versus having mediocre sameness of education across states. It’s a battle between teaching the traditional academics versus teaching the extreme political agendas of the Obama Administration; it’s a battle for who gets to decide what is to be planted in the mind of the child.

One of America’s strengths has long been its educated people.  The world flocks to our universities. We have had one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world.  But this is changing dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) leads the changes. The vast majority of states have already replaced previous education standards with Common Core.  These national standards standardize– McDonaldize– a dreary and mediocre education plan for the country that lies far below the previous standards of top-ranking states, such as Massachusetts.  Although many respected organizations have pledged support for the Common Core, evidence is painfully lacking to support Common Core’s claims. The common core proponents are quick to make sweet-sounding claims, but their claims are not referenced and are, in fact, false.

Many independent reviews suggest supporters of Common Core are sorely misguided.  Dr. Michael Kirst of Stanford University pointed out that the standards define college readiness as being the same for 4-year, 2-year, and vocational colleges, essentially dumbing down expectations for university students. Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University pointed out that the standards are meant to save us from what is a myth– the idea that American students are lagging behind international peers; Tienken writes: “When school administrators implement programs and policies built on faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

The standards do not meaningfully increase academic rigor, are not internationally benchmarked, do not adequately prepare students for 4-year universities, were never assessed by top curriculum research universities, were never voted upon by teachers nor the public, do not allow a voice for the individual; have no amendment process, and do rob states of control of education and students of privacy.

The Common Core is an  untested, federally promoted, unfunded experiment.  The standards creators (NGA/CCSSO) have not set up a monitoring plan to test this national experiment, to see what unintended consequences the Core will have on children.  The standards slash the vast majority of classic literature, especially from high school English classes; minimize narrative writing skills acquisition, and push student-investigative, rather than instructive, math at all levels.

HISTORY:

The Constitution and 10th amendment  have long made it clear that only states –not any federal agency– have the right to direct education.  Americans seem to have forgotten that we do not live in a top down kingdom but in a Constitutional republic.  Many believe the federal government has power to rule over the state governments.  This is false. States alone hold the right to educate.

Our Constitution was set up with a vital balance of powers between states and federal powers, and each maintains separate roles and authorities.  Nowhere is any authority given to the federal government to direct education.

In addition to the Constitution’s and the tenth amendment’s giving states sole authority to direct education, another law called the General Educational Provisions Act (GEPA) states: “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…”

So the Common Core standards are a set of national education standards which the federal government are forbidden, by law, to control or supervise.  Yet the standards were foisted upon the states by the federal government with the repeated assertion that they were state-led standards.

The Dept. of Education paid others to do what they were forbidden to do. The common standards were not written by the federal government, but they were financially incentivized by the federal government and then were promoted by private interests. Bill Gates, for example, spent $100M and plans to spend $150M more to push Common Core.  He gave the national PTA $@ million to promote it in schools. Common Core represents an ongoing cash cow for many groups, which explains why the media does not cover this issue.  Many media outlets, even Fox News via Wireless Generation, are entangled in the massive money-making factory that is Common Core implementation. Microsoft and Pearson and others are seeing what a huge opportunity it presents them, as they benefit financially from the newly created false need: millions of new textbooks, teacher development programs, and new testing technologies are called for under the common core and its nationalized tests.

The standards were solely developed –and copyrighted– by nonacademic  groups– the National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  Neither state education agencies nor major curriculum research universities were asked for meaningful input.

We were told that the Common Core was voluntary and “state led,” but it was a case of arm-twisting and financial bribery on the part of the Dept. of Education.  States did not come together to write and share great ideas.  (If that had been the case, we would likely have adopted high standards, instead, like those previously had Massachusetts.)

The first time states were introduced to these national standards was when the federal government bribed states with a shot at a huge grant (our own tax money) in 2009.  It was called Race to the Top, a grant for states.  The Department of Education made a state’s promise to adopt common standards –sight unseen– a prerequisite to getting points in the grant contest called “Race to the Top”.  There were 500 points possible.  Adopting Common Core and its tests gave us some 70 points.  Making the federal tracking database on students, the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) gave us 47 additional points.

Not by any authority of Congress, but by the lure of money –the Stimulus Bill– was Obama’s Race to the Top funded. States were given only two months to apply.

States competed for this money like a taxpayers’ lottery with a points system. There were 500 points possible.  By adopting Common Core tests and standards, a state could earn 70 points.  By implementing the SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System that serves as surveillance on citizens) a state could earn 47 points.  Even though Utah didn’t win any money at all, we took the Race to the Top bait.  Then we were stuck with Common Core standards as well as the SLDS database which would track and control citizens.

We were repeatedly assured, “states can get out of Common Core any time they like” but, like the story of Gulliver, tied down by many strings, we are in fact bound– unless we realize our rights and privileges and assert them firmly to free ourselves while we still may, to shake off the ties that bind us down.

Gulliver’s First String:  No cost analysis

One of the strings that ties us down is the financial obligation of Common Core. No cost analysis has been done by Utah to date.  It’s like a family agreeing to build a house without knowing what it will cost beforehand. It’s absurd. Virginia and Texas rejected Common Core, citing on both educational and financial reasons.

While textbook companies without exception are on a marketing spree with “Common Core Alignment,” it is taxpayers who will carry the burden for the unwanted texts, tests, the professional development, testing technology, data centers, administration and more.

If corporations were getting wealthy at taxpayer expense yet we had agreed to it, by a vote after thorough public vetting, that would be acceptable.

But Common Core never had pre-adoption teacher or parent or media attention, had no public vetting, no vote, and now we see that some of the corporations providing implementation of the common core standards have alarming political agendas that will harm our children.  One example is Pearson, headed by Sir Michael Barber, with whom the Utah State Office of Education has multiple contracts.

Gulliver’s Second String:  The myth:  that Common Core solves educational problems

The second string tying states down, Gulliver-like, is the problem-solving myth, the myth that our many educational problems, such as low expectations or college remediation, are to be solved by Common Core.  Without a doubt, Common Core will worsen our educational problems.  Professor Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, English and Math professors who refused to sign off on the adequacy of the common standards when they served on the official Common Core validation committee, have written and have testified before legislatures that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous at all.

Students in our schools and universities are required to provide references for their reports.  Yet the information provided by official Common Core sites, as well as by our state office of education, is unreferenced and contains half truths and false claims about Common Core.

I asked the Utah State Office of Education to provide me, a Utah teacher, with references to verify the “facts” about Common Core, but the office refused to do so.  Why?

The myth that Common Core solves educational problems is far-reaching and is far from being harmless.

There’s a questionnaire that must be answered by any person wishing to be a candidate for Utah’s state school board.  The first question on it is:  Do you support the Common Core State Standards?

So anyone who for any reason opposes Common Core may not even stand in the candidates’ pool to run for this vital, elected position as a member of the state school board.

The emperor of Common Core is wearing no clothes. Yet, the myth that Common Core solves educational problems is so widespread that most teachers and principals fear raising concerns.  We are experiencing a huge Spiral of Silence. The Spiral of Silence is a well-known communications theory by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann.  The Spiral of Silence phenomenon happens when people fear separation or isolation from those around them, and, believing they are in the minority, they keep their concerns to themselves.

The Spiral theory arose as an explanation for why many Germans remained silent while their Jewish neighbors were being persecuted in the 1940s.  This silence extends to parents and legislators who do not know enough about the common standards to feel comfortable arguing that we should be free of them.  Truly, this movement has slid under the public radar.

Gulliver’s Third String:   One Size Forever, For All

The third string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is the fact that we will never have a vote or a voice in the one-size-fits-all-standards.

Common Core’s copyright, placed on the standards by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, takes away educational flexibility. There is no way a local voice or voices can alter the standards when we discover the system doesn’t  fit our needs.  There is no amendment process.

Additionally, the NGA/CCSSO has zero transparency.  Though the Council of Chief State School Officers holds over one hundred meetings per year, CCSSO meetings are closed to teachers, taxpayers, and the general public.

I asked a lawyer at the Utah State Office of Education what the process would be to amend the standards.  She told me, Why would there need to be [an amendment process]? The whole point is to be common.” Her response illustrates the tragic fact that many of our state education leaders do not appreciate local, constitutional control over education for our state.

There is a 15% cap placed on the NGA/CCSSO’s copyrighted standards, a cap placed on top of the copyright by the Department of Education.  We may delete nothing.  We may add no more than 15% to any standard.

So when we run into a disaster –such as the rule that 12th grade reading material in an English class can contain no more than 30 percent classic literature, and must be 70% informational text, we are stuck.  When we run into another  disaster –such as the rule that Algebra I be introduced in 9th grade, when it used to be an 8th grade topic, we are stuck. We are literally voiceless and bound by the 15% rule plus the copyright it is based upon.  But it gets worse:

Gulliver’s Fourth String:  Problems with national testing

The fourth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is nationalized, federally-supervised, compulsory testing.  It commits our dollars without our input. And the content of the tests will be dictated by the NGA/CCSSO to test writers.

There isn’t even the tiny bit of 15% wiggle room on tests. I wrote to a test writer how they would incorporate the 15% variation in state standards and they told me that it is “in each state’s best interest” not to have “two sets of standards.”  Why?  Because the test won’t be incorporating anything in addition to the national standards.

Why is this bad?  What we are valuing and testing is extremely narrow and cannot be altered by any state, but only by the NGA/CCSSO.  It opens the door for a one-track, politicized agenda to be taught and tested.

Our local leaders continue to refer to “The Utah Core” as if it were not the exact same core as all the other states.  This is misleading.

Teachers and principals will be evaluated and compared using these national tests’ results, so what would motivate them to teach anything beyond or different than what will be tested?  The motivation to be an innovative educator is gone with the high stakes national tests.  Right now Utah has only adopted math and English standards, but soon the NGA/CCSSO  will be releasing social studies and science standards.  One can only imagine how these subjects will be framed by the “progressive” groups who write the tests and shape the curriculum.  And the test writers will be providing model curriculum for states to follow to prepare students for the tests.

Gulliver’s Fifth String:  Common Core English:   David Coleman’s version of what is appropriate for the rest of the nation

The fifth string tying us down, Gulliver-like,  was wrought almost single-handedly by one wrongheaded man with too much power, named David Coleman.

Coleman was the main architect of the English standards for Common Core, despite never having been a teacher himself, and is now president of the College board.  He is aligning the national college entrance exams with Common Core standards.  He holds a dreary, utilitarian vision of the language, without appreciation for classic literature or narrative writing. He has deleted much of it, and has deleted all cursive for students.

It was Coleman’s idea to make all children read 50% informational texts and 50% fiction in English classes, and then gradually to get rid of more and more fiction and classic literature, so that when a student is in 12th grade, he or she is reading 70% informational text and very little classic literature.

Does this differ from actual book burning?

It is as if Coleman mandated that all English teachers must put 70% of their classic textbooks outside the classroom door to be picked up for burning.  Would the teachers put Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Melville, or O’Connor on the pile?  Which classic books would you remove from a high school English classroom?  And what informational texts are being recommended by Common Core proponents to replace the classics?  Among the suggestions: Executive Order 13423.  Writings by the Federal Reserve Bank.  And more.  (See:  http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf )

David Coleman explained why he decided that narrative writing should not be taught:

As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a sh__ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’”

If Coleman were to value a diamond, he would base its worth solely on the fact that it’s the hardest substance in nature. The diamond’s beauty, or its history as the symbol of eternal romance, would not matter. Just so long as the darn rock can drill. That’s how he thinks about reading and writing.

This is why he has gotten rid of all things beautiful in education:

  • No more cursive.
  • Very little classic literature, to make room for mostly informational text.
  • Informational texts to include Executive Order 13423, in the English classroom.

Gulliver’s Sixth String:  Weakening Math

The sixth string tying us down, Gulliver-style, down is weak math. While the Common Core math standards may be an improvement over previous standards in some states, they are deficient for most, including for Utah.

Scholars have written extensively about these standards in reports published by Pioneer Institute and others. They say:

– Common Core replaces the traditional foundations of Euclidean geometry with an experimental approach. This approach has never been successfully used but Common Core imposes this experiment on the  country.

– Common Core excludes certain Algebra II and Geometry content that is currently a prerequisite at almost every four-year state college. This effectively redefines “college-readiness” to mean readiness for a non-selective community college, as a member of the Common Core writing team acknowledged in his testimony before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

– Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.

– Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

– Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.

– Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.

– Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.

There is already evidence that book publishers’ revisions to texts that align with the standards are highly likely to be “inquiry-based”. Discovery and group learning approaches to math have had poor results when they have been used in classrooms across the country.

Gulliver’s Seventh String:  Neither Local Education Leaders Nor Federal Educational Leaders Value American Rights

  • A current Utah State School Board member said to me,  “I have always understood it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution… I have always understood the theme to be equalityyou continue to reference freedom over equality.”
  • The Dept. of Education has created regions for all America.  These regions are to be answerable to the Department of Education.  The creation of regional identities ignores the existence of states and consequently, of states’ rights, under the Constitution.  This is a dangerous affront to our rights as states.
  • Predestining kids:  Secretary Arne Duncan says the government needs to control education and teachers via data-driven decisions. The data will be collected: “… so that every child knows on every step of their educational trajectory what they’re going to do.”  He says, “You should know in fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth grade what your strengths are, what you weaknesses are.” He’s talking about a managed society, not a free society, where children are to be compliant tools for the government’s purposes, not the other way around.
  • The Utah Data Alliance, SLDS system, and the federal Department of Education each seek data at all costs, even without parental consent.  Sec. Duncan often says,  ”We have to be transparent about our data.”  (What Duncan really means is, states have to be transparent about their data to be supervised by the federal government– which is not Constitutional by any stretch of the imagination.)

Duncan’s data transparency statement explains much: why Duncan aims to triangulate data Common Core tests which will be collected and compared under his (unconstitutionally) watchful eye; why Duncan rewrote FERPA regulations without authority or Congressional oversight, why the Department of Education paid states to create SLDS systems to track citizens; why federally, states are pushed to have  P-20 tracking councils, and more.

Duncan’s desire to grab private data is further illustrated by the changes Duncan has led in redefining key terms.

For example, you may notice that federal education leaders seldom refer to this movement as the Common Core.  They use a code phrase (you can verify this on the definitions page at ed.gov) which is “college and career readiness”.  But that code phrase is a deception.  College and Career Readiness does not mean what you think it means; there is a new mediocrity to the standards which has made the same standards appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. It has essentially dumbed down the expectations for 4 year universities.  So college readiness actually means nothing other than common and mediocre standards.   By this definition, states can’t be preparing students for college unless standards are the same as every other state’s and country’s standards.  It’s like the old Ford Advertisement:  You can Have Any Color As Long as it’s Black.”  Secretary Duncan’s version is– “You can have any standards as long as they are the exact same as all other states’ standards.”

Another phrase you’ll hear a lot is “world class education” which doesn’t mean “excellent education.”  It means “non-competitive education.”  Yikes.  Some other phrases that have been officially redefined by the Dept. of Education in federal regulations are: “authorized representative” “education program” and “directory information

What is the effect of these redefinings?

According to a group that has sued the Dept. of Education, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, this redefining has removed legal duties for state and local educational facilities that used to be in place to protect private student data.

The redefinings open up what used to be tightly protected. But why?

Because the Dept. of Education is using the testing consortia to triangulate the tests and to oversee the data collection.  They want access to the data.  Words give them access.  This brings me to Gulliver’s string, and it’s a whopper.

Gulliver’s Eighth String:  Invading Citizen Privacy

The eighth string tying us down, Gulliver-like, is a set of horrific privacy violations. It begins with the fact that Utah built a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) system, as required by the federal government in exchange for money.  The SLDS  was supposed to be a benefit to Utahns. The argument was that the more data they collect, the smarter decisions could be made about education. It sounded logical at first.

But the SLDS tracks children from preschool through workforce.  It interacts with six other Utah state governmental agencies, beyond the K-12 system.  It essentially guides and monitors citizens.

When I found out about this, I wanted to opt out for my children.  I asked the Utah State Office of Education myself whether it is even allowed to have a student attend a school without being tracked by the Utah Data Alliance and the federal SLDS.

They finally gave me a straight answer, after I nagged them many a time, finally, and it was simply ”No.”No child, no citizen may escape tracking. We are all being closely tracked.  Schools are the starting point.

Unknown to most parents, children’s data is being shared beyond the school district with six agencies inside the Utah Data Alliance and with UTREX, according to Utah Technology Director John Brandt. The student data is further to be “mashed” with federal databases, according to federal Education Dept. Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/ed_urges_states_to_make_data_s.html

While Utah’s John Brandt assures us that only a handful of people in Utah have access to the personally identifiable data of children, recent alterations to federal FERPA (Famly Education Rights Privacy Act) regulations which were made by the U.S. Dept of Education, as we noted earlier, have radically redefined terms and widened the window of groups who can access private data without parental consent. (For more on that, see the lawsuit against the U.S. Dept of Education on the subject: http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html)

In America, a law is a representative thing.  Laws are made by people who either directly vote for that law, or who vote for a representative who votes for a law. Then the people must obey the law, or be forcibly punished.

But watch out for rules and regulations, which are not laws, and which come from unelected boards with appointed members who cannot be repealed by us. Rules and regulations are a form of nonrepresentation, and can be dangerous.  Common Core is quickly becoming a snare because of its rules and regulations.  FERPA regulatory changes are a prime example.  Congress never changed the privacy law that FERPA was written originally to be.  But the Department of Education made un-approved regulatory changes to FERPA that are being treated as if they were law today.

Our schools (teachers, adminstrators, and even State Office of Education workers) are being used:  used to collect private data, both academic and nonacademic, about our children and their families.

I choose the word “used” because I do not believe they are maliciously going behind parents’ backs. They are simply expected to comply with whatever the U.S. Dept. of Education asks them to do. And the Dept. of Education is all for the “open data” push as are some notable Utahns, such as Utah Technology Director John Brandt and even some BYU Education professors, notably David Wiley.  I have heard these men speak and they are passionate about getting data at all costs, even at the cost of not pausing for students’ parental consent.

What it means: Courses taken, grades earned, every demographic piece of information, including family names, attitudes and income, can now legally be known by the government via schools.

The U.S. Dept. of Education’s own explanation is here, showing why SLDS systems exist: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

There are 12 elements that states had to share or they would not have received ARRA stimulus money. The twelve elements of the SLDS (State longitudinal data system) include enrollment history, demographic characteristics, student’s scores on tests; info on students, even those who are not tested; transcripts, grades earned; whether they enrolled in remedial courses; and the sharing of data from preschool through postsecondary systems.

While all this data gathering could theoretically, somehow, benefit a child, or community, it can definitely hurt a child. Denial of future opportunities, based on ancient academic or behavioral history, comes to mind. The databases are to share data with anybody they define as “authorized.”

The  now-authorized groups who will access student data will most likely include the A-list “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, as well as corporate educational sales groups  (Microsoft, Pearson, Wireless Generation, and K-12 Inc., Achieve, Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, for example) as well as federal departments that are far outside of education, such as the military, the workforce agencies, etc.)

Furthermore, even psychometric and biometric data (such as student behavioral qualities, DNA, iris and fingerprints) are also acceptable data collection points, to the Dept. of Education (verify: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferparegs.pdf )

Verify these facts on the government’s public sites, such as:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html

http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/stateanalysis/states/UT/

http://www.utahdataalliance.org/links.shtml

http://nces.ed.gov/forum/datamodel/edview/edview.aspx?class=StudentTracking

In closing:

Our country is a miracle in the history of the earth. No other country has ever had such a Constitution that limits and spreads out the power of the government to ensure the maximum liberty of each individual, balancing the need for limited government to prevent anarchy.  It is important to understand the document.  “The powers not delegated to the United States Government are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Nothing could be more clear. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to exercise any power over education.

Our Department of Education is aware of this.  Recent speeches by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan include the fact that the Department is “limited” in this country.  Yes, very limited.  Like, not allowed at all.

We may not be able to take back all the ground we have lost by allowing the federal government to dictate regulations to us in return for our own tax money.  But we must not allow them any further ground.

The states (except for the handful of states that rejected Common Core) are otherwise like the neighbor who does not know where his rights are and  can never know when they are taken and is thus unable to defend them. This neighbor believes he owns a piece of ground which his neighbor also claims, but he doesn’t know its boundaries. The other neighbor continues to encroach further and further onto land which the first neighbor suspects is his, but since he is never certain where the boundary is, he cannot stop the encroachment.

Until we take a firm position and say: “no further,” there is no line. Unless we remember our rights, we have none. My hope is that as a state, we will say “no further,” and hold onto our own right to educate our own children without interference.

Common Core does not improve college readiness.  The educational value of the standards is low.  And even if they were to be  significantly improved, remember that educational standards are meaningless without political freedom.

There is no amendment process for Common Core.  The standards have no checks and balances.  Common Core was never voted upon. Common Core administrators cannot be recalled by a vote. Common Core represents an assumption of power never delegated by the voice of the people. The Common Core Initiative has transferred sovereignty from states to a collective controlled by the National Governors’ Association and by the Council of Chief State School Officers.  It also transferred educational sovereignty from states to testing groups to be overseen by the Department of Education.

We must realize the strength of our position as states under the U.S. Constitution, and must hold up the Constitution, thus holding  the Dept. of Education away from monitoring and directing states’ education.

Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina stated:  In adopting Common Core, states have sold their birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.  He is right.

Thousands of people have signed the petition at Utahns Against Common Core.  Websites and organizations are forming all over the country to fight Common Core.  At least six U.S. Governors staunchly oppose Common Core.  The majority of Utah legislators have said they oppose it.  Let state leaders and school boards know we expect them to be valiant in that effort.

Thank you.

Obama’s Career Tracking and Education Reforms: So Much More Than Common Core

Here’s the latest article by Christel Swasey copied from:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/obamas-career-tracking-and-education-reforms-so-much-more-than-common-core/

Obama’s Career Tracking and Education Reforms: So Much More Than Common Core

The more you study the plans and plots of Obama and of his Federal Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, the more you see the crushing trend.  They crush any individuality and local independence or control over education paths or career paths.  And the Constitution be damned.

Individuals’ desires or states’ desires are not to be taken into account.  The word “accountability” is used as a weapon of coercion.  And the desires of the Collective Government are assumed to best determine what a student studies and what he/she becomes.  “What benefits society?” they ask; they do not ask what benefits the child, or what do the parents want for the child?

The crushing and stifling effect comes from so much more than the Common Core Standards –or even than the Common national testing.  The federal government wants to determine how children will be placed into an almost unalterable path that determines that student’s future based on imposed plans squeezed out of standardized tests early on in life.  They call it Prosperity 2020 in Utah.  They call it Obama’s 2020 Educational Initiative in D.C. They call it Education For All, a part of Agenda 21, at the United Nations.  They all use nice-sounding words but they all slice away at local and individual rights and freedoms over what is to be learned and what is to be eliminated from the learning.

For example, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan makes references to “personalized learning” which sound good.  But what is it, really?  The removal of a student’s choices.  The personalization by the government of that individual’s life path.  It starts with “differentiated diplomas” which call students, to use politically insensitive words, “dumb” “mediocre” and “smart.”  These “differentiated diplomas” will prepare students for differentiated careers– all determined by standardized, high stakes tests and by people who are NOT the student himself/herself.  Nor the parents.  (All “for the good of the collective”.)  I’m not buying it.  Are you?

Career Academies and  “College and Career Readiness*” are the new buzzwords.   The concepts sound good on the surface– to help students get diagnosed with skills and trained for specific career skills as early as possible, to make a direct leap into a career.

But think: what if the student later hates that career and has traded his/her well-rounded, meaningful, whole education for a narrow skill set?  Then where is he/she going to be? Trained to be a plumber, but with desires to be a nurse?  Trained to be a rocket scientist, but with desires to cook?  Trained to pick up trash, but with desires to practice law?  It’s not good.

The educational trend seems to benefit “society” far more than it benefits the individual.  But that’s what socialists are all about.  Communists, too.  The individual never matters; his or her desires are not significant to The Collective.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explains it this way:

” My goal today is to share an outline of our plan to transform career and technical education, or CTE.  Then, with that as context, I’ll discuss our plans to implement the President’s proposed $1 billion investment in career academies…

…First, a career academy is a secondary school program that is organized as a small learning community or a school within a school to provide a supportive, personalized learning environment.

Second, the academy begins by the 9th grade. 

Third, the academy would need to provide a combined academic and technical curriculum that includes CTE courses for which students may receive academic credit. The academy’s curriculum would be organized around a career theme—like the themes identified by NAF: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Health Sciences, or Engineering—and aligned with the State’s college-and career-ready standards*.

Fourth, a career academy provides work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers. 

And, fifth and finally, the academy’s program articulates and reflects the entrance requirements of postsecondary education programs—to ensure that students graduate from high school ready to pursue a degree or credential. 

Now, I’m very interested to hear what you think about our career academies plan, the proposed academy definition, and the CTE Blueprint.”  Full speech here:  http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/remarks-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-national-academy-foundation-next-conference

* By the way, Duncan’s allusion to “the State’s college-and-career-ready standards” does not mean what you think it means. It’s just common core.  “College and Career Readiness” is like a code term.

NO INDIVIDUAL STATE WHO IS UNDER THE COMMON CORE YOKE CAN MAKE CHANGES NOR DEFINE COLLEGE AND CAREER READY DIFFERENTLY FROM ANY OTHER STATE.

So, according to Duncan/Obama, being ready for college and career doesn’t mean being ready for college and career.  Too forthright.

The term means being yoked to a substandard set of educational standards that are the same, same, same and that are non-negotiable and that are NGA/CCSSO copyrighted, with a 15% federally mandated cap on top of that copyright.  (See the definition on the Ed.gov site here: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions)

How do Soros, Agenda 21, and the Open Education movement tie to Utah?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but we all get excited about getting something for nothing. The internet is full of free stuff and has radically altered the way we engage with each other and is one of the greatest disruptive innovators in history.

Open source software has helped change the way we view software business models. Now open education initiatives promise to do the same thing for education and disrupt things in a major way.

Many people are aware of MIT’s online courses you can learn from for free, and then there’s Apple’s iTunes U project which allows for all kinds of material to study from a wide variety of sources. Other open education initiatives invite contributors to license their content and educators are able to purchase it from them.

So how could open education be a bad thing when sharing knowledge like this seems so wonderful? Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Being able to learn is at the center of human growth and joy. However, when knowledge isn’t true, or when it is used to indoctrinate into a political ideology, there is a great danger to society.

George Soros’ name is well-known. As a billionaire he has used his vast resources to take down the economies of a few countries, fund many leftist organizations such as ACORN, SEIU, MoveOn.org, and the ACLU (and over a hundred others). When he invests his resources, it is because he sees an opportunity to promote his far-left agenda.

Soros’ Open Society Institute recently partnered with the Department of Education to promote a global education initiative. Part of that initiative is to fund the “open education” movement. George Soros doesn’t invest in things he can’t feel a measure of control to advance his agenda.

This is eerily reminiscent of the agreement signed by the Gates Foundation with the United Nations education organization UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system. The Gates Foundation soon put things in motion to bring about the nationalization of the American education system first, to advance the global education movement. He did this by donating millions of dollars to the National Governor’s Association and the CCSSO  (Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization) to create Common Core. Gates then paid the national PTA two million dollars to ignorantly promote it nationwide. Overall, the Gates Foundation has put over $100 million into creating and promoting Common Core.

President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, is a big supporter of the Open Education movement and wants teachers to have access to the world’s knowledge. I mean, it’s great that teachers are going to have that access in free resources, but who is going to prepare those materials? Who will review and approve them? (Hopefully not the same people that did the Jordan and Granite math textbooks)

Soros has funded his Open Society organization with $400 million to promote his agenda.

It’s the same agenda that Arne Duncan often talks about and is associated with the United Nations Agenda 21 movement. The big buzzword is “sustainability” and Sec. Duncan is all over it. Sustainability is meant to be the carefully couched word that means everyone needs to recognize we have limited resources and someone a lot smarter (and more powerful) than you should be in control of determining how you live, eat, and breathe. It is part of the United Nations’ and George Soros funded Agenda 21, which is a blueprint for global communism by control of populations and property. It has a variety of paths it advances through, but the green movement is a major part.

In a speech Sec. Duncan gave to the Sustainability Summit in 2010, he opened his views up to the world. I recommend you read his talk if you are interested in the full meal deal, but here are some relevant clips.

“We at the Education Department are energized about joining these leaders in their commitment to preparing today’s students to participate in the green economy, and to be well-educated about the science of sustainability. We must advance the sustainability movement through education.

We need to support activities that provide a variety of educational and training opportunities for teachers and students. A lot of important work is happening at the local levels in states and districts. Maryland is close to adopting a requirement that high school graduates demonstrate environmental literacy before they earn their diploma.

The U.S. Green Building Council is working with school districts and universities to incorporate green technology into schools. These schools not only are good for the environment, they provide a better learning environment for students—and they are cost efficient. The council is bringing together the nation’s strongest advocates for education—representing more than 10 million members across the country to build a national infrastructure of healthy, high-performance schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money. I’m especially excited to hear that this fall the coalition will be reaching out to groups beyond education in the private and public sector. There’s a federal role in supporting this work. We fund the National Clearinghouse on School Facilities, which is a national leader in helping K-12 leaders make school facilities green and sustainable.

…But their work goes beyond our infrastructure. The team is working to create policies that support state efforts to prepare students for jobs in the green economy. At the initiative of the green team, the Department recently issued grants to five states to develop career pathways that will support the green economy. These career pathways will define the academic knowledge and vocational skills that students will need to prepare themselves for green jobs in architecture, agriculture, energy, transportation and waste management. The National Research Center for Career and Technical Education is working closely with these states and, where appropriate, with the business community to design the programs of study that will lead to success in the green industry.

But our commitment has to be about even more than career pathways. It also has to prepare all students with the knowledge they need to be green citizens. In our Blueprint for Reform, the Obama administration is making an unprecedented commitment to promote a well-rounded education for our children. And for the first time, we are proposing that environmental education be part of that well-rounded education.

The Blueprint is our proposal to reauthorize and fix the No Child Left Behind Act. As many of you know, NCLB held schools accountable for student achievement in reading and mathematics. That has led to a narrowing of the curriculum, and no one—teachers, parents, or students—is happy with the state of affairs. We want all students to have access to a well-rounded, world-class curriculum—and that curriculum should include environmental literacy. For the first time ever, the Department of Education will be supporting locally developed models that teach environmental science.”

Isn’t it a little strange that the Obama administration is giving waivers from NCLB for adopting Common Core when 2 years ago he said they were going to reauthorize and fix NCLB? Hmmm, could it be that Common Core, *IS* the re-authorization and fix they were looking for?

Did you notice that Duncan mentions going beyond schools into groups in the private and public sector? That may be part of what’s called 21st Century Schools and Utah is now implementing them through a *FEDERAL GRANT* (ie. strings attached) serving 99 community sites and 21,000 students. What could possibly go wrong with this? Look at page 4 of this document to see the type of indoctrination that is happening.

Some readers will be familiar with John Goodlad from emails I’ve sent out in the past. Goodlad is a prominent national educator and came to BYU in 1983 to help set up the Public School Partnership with surrounding school districts. In 1986 he invited BYU’s Education Department to join his NNER (National Network for Educational Renewal). In time, he fundamentally transformed the education department to almost fully adopt and endorse his agenda. BYU’s Ed dept. even hosted one of his national conferences a few years ago and Goodlad had a conference promoting social justice in the classroom a year ago, and had terrorist/educator Bill Ayers as a keynote speaker at his national conference a year or two ago as well.

Charlotte Iserbyt was a senior policy advisor in the Department of Education during the Reagan administration and she documented the effort to dumb down America by copying documents and publishing a book you can get for free online called, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. In that book, she calls Goodlad, “America’s premier change agent.” His agenda is to fundamentally transform America through the education system.

Goodlad’s agenda is termed the “Agenda for Education in a Democracy” (AED) and by Democracy he literally means direct Democracy, moral relativism, and not the republican form of government the Constitution guarantees to us. In all of the United States there are 30 Goodlad designated “AED Scholars” who he trusts enough to bestow this honor on. Utah is home to at least 4 of them. There are 2 at BYU in the McKay School of Education, and 2 in Alpine School District’s administration. I could provide many quotes from Goodlad, but here are a few relevant ones that illustrate his agenda.

“Educators must resist the quest for certainty. If there were certainty there would be no scientific advancement.  So it is with morals and patriotism.” (Education for Everyone, p. 6.)

“Most youth still hold the same values of their parents…if we do not alter this pattern, if we don’t resocializeour system will decay.” (Education Innovation, Issue 9.)

–John Goodlad: “Report of Task Force C: Strategies for Change,” Schooling for the Future, a report to the President’s Commission on Schools Finance, Issue #9, 1971.

[schools] should liberate students from the ways of thinking imposed by religions and other traditions of thought.” -John Goodlad, “Education and Community,” in Democracy, Education, and the Schools, Roger Stone, pg. 92.

Public education has served as a check on the power of parents, and this is another powerful reason for maintaining it.” – John Goodlad, Developing Democratic Character in the Young, pg. 165

“It is my expectation that Teacher Education for Democracy and Social Justice will become a rich resource for continuing this multi-layered conversation-from democratic belief to democratic action-that is the hallmark of educational renewal.” -John Goodlad’s forward to “Teacher Education for Democracy and Social Justice,” Nicholas Michelli and David Lee Keiser

“Enlightened social engineering is required to face situations that demand global action now… Parents and the general public must be reached also, otherwise, children and youth enrolled in globally oriented programs may find themselves in conflict with values assumed in the home. And then the educational institution frequently comes under scrutiny and must pull back.” – Dr. John I. Goodlad, “Guide to Getting Out Your Message,” National Education Goals Panel Community Action Toolkit: A Do-It-Yourself Kit for Education Renewal (September 1994); 6

Better re-read that last quote. The goal is globally oriented programs like the International Baccalaureate which is a UNESCO partnership program emphasizing sustainability teaching to children and collectivist, socialist indoctrination. Watch the video at the bottom of this page for some very alarming quotes including the anti-family, pantheistic agenda UNESCO espouses.

Another buzzword by educators is a goal of critical thinking training in schools. The purpose of this is to teach and indoctrinate children to think critically about the morals and teachings they have received at home and church. As I have said elsewhere, this doesn’t mean all your children’s teachers in public schools are following this philosophy and trying to indoctrinate them. It just means that they are being fed this philosophy in schools of education and they are susceptible to it and some are passing it on event inadvertently because they trust schools of education where they are told things like “all the studies show this is the best way to teach.” The Texas GOP just added a section to their party platform opposing this indoctrination.

We also see that Goodlad recognizes that when parents wake up to these facts, sometimes they rebel and then it causes the educators to “pull back” for a time. That’s why he says that “parents and the general public must be reached” or else the values they teach children in the home will conflict with the values Goodlad intends to put upon them in the classroom, namely socialism and moral relativism. This is where those 21st Century Schools and Community Learning Centers come in to allow for parents to come and get the steady stream of “sustainability” education.

Goodlad picture in MSE at BYU
One of several Goodlad posters at BYU/MSE

One of the great misconceptions at BYU’s McKay School of Education is that they can push Goodlad so heavily and not have the negative aspects of his agenda seep through to students, teachers, and administrators. In Alpine school district, at least one school bought and passed out one of Goodlad’s books for every teacher and area legislators a few years ago. They can say they don’t believe *everything* Goodlad teaches when you press them on it, but when you hang his posters in the halls and put up plaques with his quotes on them, and openly praise him, you’re sending an overpowering signal to people that you agree with his humanist, moral relativistic, atheistic, social justice, anti-family philosophies. Goodlad gains nationwide credibility when his organizations show he’s a partner with BYU.

Key to the effort of 21st Century Schools is a cradle to grave database tracking system that will hold data on citizens. One of the requirements of Common Core grant funding was to set up a statewide longitudinal database. In Utah this was called the P20w system for preschool to grade 20 (college graduation) to workforce. This is the same Outcome-Based Education nonsense that was defeated in the 90’s by concerned citizens. Mark Tucker wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton after Bill was elected congratulating her and outlining things he would love to see happen to nationalize education and make schools little more than training centers for society’s central planners to determine at early ages where children should go into the workforce. It’s all happening now. Career aptitude tests are being prepared for kindergarteners and 3rd graders, and under Common Core in Utah, by 7th grade students are placed into a math track that will determine what their top math level will be when they graduate.

So where is the Open Education movement today? In the state of Utah, the State Office of Education has fully embraced Open Education initiatives. In January of 2012, they issued this press release stating:

“The Utah State of Office of Education (USOE) today announced it will develop and support open textbooks in the key curriculum areas of secondary language arts, science, and mathematics. USOE will encourage districts and schools throughout the state to consider adopting these textbooks for use beginning this fall.

Open textbooks are textbooks written and synthesized by experts, vetted by peers, and made available online for free access, downloading, and use by anyone. Open textbooks can also be printed through print-on-demand or other printing services for settings in which online use is impossible or impractical. In earlier pilot programs, open textbooks have been printed and provided to more than 3,800 Utah high school science students at a cost of about $5 per book, compared to an average cost of about $80 for a typical high school science textbook.

…The decision to pursue open textbooks at scale comes after two years of successful open textbook pilots led by David Wiley of Brigham Young University’s David O. McKay School of Education. Each pilot was conducted by the BYU-Public School Partnership in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provided funding. Mathematics and science textbooks will be based on books originally published by the CK12 Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in California founded with the mission to produce free and open source K-12 materials aligned to state curriculum.”

Interesting that this is funded by the Hewlett Foundation, a foundation with close ties to George Soros and the Gates Foundation, and has as one of its goals, population reduction through family planning and reproductive services (last 2 paragraphs here).

As noted in the press release, David Wiley at BYU is in charge of Utah’s pilot program and he has listed his resume online. Among his accomplishments he lists the following: Director, USU Center for Open and Sustainable Learning; Founder, Open High School of Utah; and Associate Director of the Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling (or CITES for short). CITES is the Goodlad training center at BYU for teachers and administrators in the BYU Public School Partnership districts to get indoctrinated in the Goodlad educational philosophy before stepping into their roles of shaping our children’s minds. CITES is an organization we have previously written up for not cooperating with an audit that Orem Senator Margaret Dayton was pursuing.

This isn’t to say that David Wiley and all the other people associated with CITES and BYU’s MSE are bad people (David is actually very pleasant in email correspondence I’ve had with him). They’ve just embraced parts of a philosophy that I believe is destructive of American values. No matter how noble some of their goals are like providing open education resources, significant dangers lie ahead. Soros and his education partners are powerful globalists with money and influence looking to push their agenda, and now that the framework is in place, they will pump propaganda into open source materials.

In fact, it appears to have already reached Utah through these types of channels. The recent Granite & Jordan school district math textbook fiasco with textbook problems full of inappropriate leftist propaganda (link 1, link 2, link 3) was a result of copy/pasting math problems from open source materials according to one school board member. People like George Soros know that as schools move toward cheap, open materials, they can insert thousands of propagandizing, social justice type questions which will wind up being thoughtlessly inserted into textbooks for students. No true “critical thinking” skills are required for copy/pasting math problems from one source into another and Utah’s population is as gullible and ready to accept this nonsense as anyone. Even the NCTM has added a new book for teachers on how to teach for Social Justice in the classroom.

Some people will continue to try and dismiss all of this and label it a “conspiracy theory” in the hopes that busy or thoughtless people will ignore it. There is no need to theorize about what is happening in education. It’s plain and simple, out in the open, conspiracy fact. Anyone can research and read exactly what this is all about and I encourage people to read the information in all the links above where it is abundantly clear. In their own words they are moving the national education system into a global system to indoctrinate children. This agenda will be even more obvious in the next article posted to the site.

The chart below illustrates the behemoth that was set up by the federal government and “conspiratorial” partner organizations like the Gates Foundation, PRIOR to them enticing the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State Superintendents Organization with $20 million to get together and create a set of Common Core state standards. They didn’t care what the states developed, they just wanted them all on the same page tied to the same federal strings that would light up this network and be the final piece in the puzzle of nationalizing education. Why has the Gates Foundation put over $100 million into the creation and promotion of Common Core? Because in 2004 they signed an agreement with UNESCO to create a global education system.

RTTT Grant Connections
Click to enlarge

To see a fairly detailed timeline on the implementation of Common Core, please read this post titled The Common Core Lie.

Please share this information with friends, neighbors, and your legislators. It’s not too late to work together to get Utah off federal money which accounts for less than 12% of Utah’s annual education budget revenues (page 4). Being off the federal funds will allow us to chart our own course as it should be.

As for the open education movement, there is a tremendous amount of good that can come from sharing true knowledge and making it freely available. However, much greater scrutiny must be exercised by schools and districts in selecting materials appropriate for students. Much greater involvement from parents examining their children’s school work must also be attended to. With broad-based submissions in the open education space, comes a serious quality control issue. This can be seen both in instances of propaganda finding its way into Granite and Jordan School District’s, and if Jordan school district really had “unsolvable” problems in their book, clearly the materials they chose to use weren’t vetted well, indicting both the author of those materials, and the individuals selecting the materials to use.