Tag Archives: Nationalizing Education

What Did They Used to Say About Common Core? Just Listen!

This post is reprinted with permission from Wendy Hart from her blog entry at:

http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2013/07/what-did-they-used-to-say-about-common.html

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This video contains actual audio from the beginning of the Common Core standards discussion in Utah. Having listened to these meetings, I wanted to make sure some key points were readily accessible and available to everyone.

As human beings, sometimes it’s helpful to go back to original sources instead of listening to talking points.  This information on the Common Core process is invaluable in providing insight from those who were there at the time. What was their perspective, and what was their focus?

Please take a few minutes to watch and to understand what was being said about Common Core from the very beginning, not the least of which was the Utah State Board Agenda Item: “National Common Standards”.  Contrast this to the Utah State Office of Ed flyer which states: “Fiction: Utah adopted nationalized education standards that come with federal strings attached.”  Then ask these questions:

What was the overriding reason for Utah joining in with a group that was developing national, common standards?

Was there any federal involvement, real or implied, that motivated the jump into Common Core?

With all the public involvement, who do you know who was involved in vetting the Common Core standards?

The answers you get may be different from what you are being told.

 

Links to audio files featured in the video:
May 1, 2009 Utah School Board Meeting, Agenda Item: National Common Standards
June 17, 2009 Legislative Interim Education Committee Meeting
Quoted audio starts about 27:30
July 18, 2011 Alpine School Board Training, select the first audio file, quoted starts about 27:14

Orem Common Core Presentation by UACC

If you have not been able to attend one of the Common Core presentations put on by our group, we taped Saturday night’s presentation by Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis, and Christel Swasey. It’s just under 1 hour in length and gives a fantastic overview of the true Common Core agenda. Watch full screen for HD resolution.

Centralized Education Reform by Any Other Name Would Smell

Centralized Education ReformGetting caught up in discussions about whether Common Core is “state led” or a federal program seems a fruitless debate of semantics.

What is the danger of a federally controlled education system that makes “state led” sound better? Those who oppose federal control typically oppose a concentration of power that would dictate one set of educational ideals (yes, even standards represent certain values) to the exclusion of others, establishing an intellectual tyranny of sorts.

Whether one sees Common Core as a federal program, or as the product of an extragovernmental cartel of state leaders (aka state-led) and special interests who had no constitutional commission to affect nationwide education policy in the way that they did, the outcome is the same:

Decisions were concentrated into the hands of a select few and the reforms of one ideology were championed (with the help of federal funds) while all other voices were shut out.

In other words, those who argue that this was not an outright federal mandate have a valid point. Common Core is the result of the second scenario, which is even worse than a direct federal mandate (as if No Child Left Behind wasn’t intrusion enough) from our duly elected representatives in Washington D.C.

This process sets an alarming precedent for circumventing our constitutional representative form of government and seems to establish a safe haven for the collusion of public funds and private interests without the traditional oversight established by law at either the federal or the state level.

I question what seems to be a generally accepted notion that Governors and Chief State School Officers have the legal authority to represent the state in making decisions jointly with other states. I see that as the role of Congress.

Common Core was not a “best practice” that was modeled by one state and copied by others. It was a joint initiative that had never been piloted anywhere… an unusual collaboration between the executive branches of State and Federal government and private interests that was brokered by the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was a process that was not openly accountable to “we the people,” that was not subject to open meetings, open records, lobbying restrictions etc.

There is a long history of disagreement over the best way to teach math, or what books and literature are of the most worth. In a free society, this competition of ideas has traditionally been considered a valuable condition that would encourage innovation, preserve liberty, and provide options. When the results of competing ideas and methodologies can be compared, people can make informed decisions and choose for themselves what works best.

Those who comfort themselves with the remaining sliver of local control over curriculum within the confines of the Common Core standards and tests seem strangely willing to trade some of the last vestiges of local control (unlikely to ever be returned once surrendered) to support an untried philosophy of education that is dismissive of the experience and creativity of our best teachers, and of the primary stewardship of parents over their children.

Meanwhile textbooks, summative assessments, prepackaged curriculum and formative assessments grow ever more homogenous as they align to “common” standards, and the benefits of school choice are practically erased.

If this were just about standards that would be one kind of disagreement… but the furor over Common Core is about a fundamental shift in control over education.

This is about how decisions for education, and perhaps even other “state led” initiatives, are governed going forward.

This is about whether those closest to the children and their needs will be marginalized in favor of overgeneralized policy by bureaucrats and educrats.

This is not just about what our kids will learn, but about who gets to decide.

RNC Unanimously Passes Anti-Common Core Resolution

It’s being reported that the Republican National Committee just unanimously passed an anti-Common Core resolution in their Spring meeting in Los Angeles, CA. This is a significant development which will help encourage other states to follow suit. There is a resolution which will come up at the state GOP convention in May here in Utah, which is similar to this. Please contact your state delegates in your local precinct and share this post with them and encourage them to vote to pass the anti-Common Core resolution in their meeting.

Here is the original resolution text found on the Truth in American Education website. Below the resolution text is an awesome video from a Georgia press conference showing the efforts by legislators and experts on getting Georgia out of Common Core. The momentum is building.

4/18 – Updated language on this resolution to the final approved version

RESOLUTION CONCERNING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS

WHEREAS, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of academic standards, promoted and supported by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a method for conforming American students to uniform (“one size fits all”) achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace, (1.) and

WHEREAS, the NGA and the CCSSO, received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties to advocate for and develop the CCSS strategy, subsequently created the CCSS through a process that was not subject to any freedom of information acts or other sunshine laws, and never piloted the CCSS, and

WHEREAS, even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2.), the Obama Administration accepted the CCSS plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the president’s CCSS agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CCSS before having to commit to them, and

WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CCSS ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CCSS ‘assessments’, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS program includes federally funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data, and

WHEREAS, the CCSS effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts must use Common Core ‘assessments’ based on the Common Core standards to allow all students to advance in the school system and to advance to higher education pursuits; therefore be it

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee, as stated in the 2012 Republican Party Platform, “do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level,” (p35)(3.), which is best based on a free market approach to education for students to achieve individual excellence; and, be it further

RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and be it finally

RESOLVED, the 2012 Republican Party Platform specifically states the need to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, (p36) (3.); and therefore, the Republican National Committee rejects this CCSS plan which creates and fits the country with a nationwide straitjacket on academic freedom and achievement.

References:

1. www.corestandards.org

2. Federal Law 20 USC 1232a-Sec. 1232a. and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 US.C. ch. 70.

http://us-code.vlex.com/vid/prohibition-against-federal-control-19195093

3. http://www.gop.com/rnc_counsel/

 

Check out this great video showing clips from a Georgia press conference featuring experts Jane Robbins, Sandra Stotsky, Ze’ev Wurman, and others.

Framework for a Multistate Human Capital Development Data System

Save a copy of this one. This paper received its funding from …SURPRISE… the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Titled “Framework for a Multistate Human Capital Development Data System,” this paper outlines the population tracking of people in America. Here’s a few salient quotes.

The rise of a globalized knowledge economy requires us to understand the distribution of skills and abilities in our population.

This “human capital development data system” must be developed to answer “master” policy questions that benefit each of the principal state stakeholders – the K-12 education system, the postsecondary system, and labor/workforce development system – both for accountability purposes and to inform improvements in policy and practice.

A more effective data system for accountability and policy and practice improvements could provide answers to such questions. Integrated to enable large-scale longitudinal analyses to support state educational and workforce development policy, student or individual unit-record data, linked together across K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the workforce, comprise what we call a human capital development data system (HCDDS). An HCDDS should be able capable of:
Tracking the stock and flow of the skills and abilities (represented by education and training) of various populations within a given state.
Examining the gaps in educational attainment between population groups, based on demography and socio-economic status.
Incorporating information from multiple states, given the mobility of the U.S. population and the fact that many population centers are located on state boundaries.

We are all cattle now.  

Given the sensitivity of SSNs and the fact that even they cannot match all individual student records “perfectly,” it is probably wise for states to adopt a broader approach to “identity matching.” Such an approach would link records using a larger group of variables corresponding to student characteristics, including but not limited to the SSN (when available) or statewide student identifier.

Use of Social Security Numbers would pin all tracking data to an individual instead of aggregating it and protecting children’s privacy.

While there is still much work to be done in linking K-12 and postsecondary records, states also should be planning now for how to incorporate workforce data into their longitudinal data systems. Indeed, the federal government has made this a basic expectation for states receiving ARRA funds.

When Utah applied for federal money under Race to the Top and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), the feds required us to sign onto a database to track students from preschool through college and into the workforce. Just a year ago the Utah State Office of Education announced their partner in a P20w statewide longitudinal database system that can integrate with other states and federal agencies. <sarcasm>All for research purposes of course.</sarcasm>

Some years ago, Outcome Based Education was shot down by parents when they awoke to what was really going on…the tracking of children and “master” planning for society based on creating good little trained monkeys for the workplace. Children are people. We need to stop treating them like widgets being stamped out at a factory.

Concerned yet? Share this with your legislators and ask them to get us out of Common Core and the Statewide Longitudinal Database System. IT’S NOT GOING TO BE USED JUST FOR RESEARCH. Share fliers with your neighbors. It’s time for an overhaul of our education system that brings it all in-state and gets us off the federal dollars.

 

Common Core is Educational Fascism

What do you get when corporate interests combine with governmental force to take over education? Nationalized educational and economic fascism. Thankfully, more legislators are starting to wake up to the situation.

E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.

The e-mails were obtained by Cohen’s group through public record requests and are available here, complete with a search function. They reveal — conclusively, he said — that foundation staff members worked to promote the interests of some of their funders in  Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana.

The Web site of the Foundation for Excellence in Education used to list some of their donors but no longer does and is not required to list all of its donors to the public under tax rules for 5013C organizations. However, it is known that the foundation has received support from for-profit companies K12 and Pearson and Amplify, as well as the nonprofit College Board.

There are strong connections between FEE and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy:

FEE and ALEC also have had some of the same “experts” as members or staff, part of the revolving door between right-wing groups. They have also collaborated on the annual ALEC education “report card” that grades states’ allegiance to their policy agenda higher than actual student performance. That distorted report card also rewards states that push ALEC’s beloved union-busting measures while giving low grades to states with students who actually perform best on standardized knowledge tests.

So a “non-profit” organization takes donations from companies that want to get in on the Common Core movement and then lobbies for changes to help those corporations get entrenched to make billions. It’s no wonder that ALEC has squashed their anti-Common Core model legislation twice after receiving a sizable donation from the Gates Foundation. You can get all the power and control you want for money and Gates has already spent well in excess of $100 million to promote Common Core and fulfill the contract he signed with UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system.

Pressure Mounts in Some States Against Common Core

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/06/20commoncore_ep.h32.html?tkn=QVVFfrl0VuHMbz97P7yDsN6KYt5Zph01kHae&cmp=clp-edweek

Support for the standards from the private sector and higher education is clear, said Michael Cohen, the president of Achieve, a Washington nonprofit group that helped develop the standards and now helps state governments and others prepare for the common core and its assessments.

“These standards reflect the knowledge and skills needed to go on for higher education and careers,” said Mr. Cohen, who was an assistant education secretary during the Clinton administration.

But the private sector’s involvement and support are seen very differently by opponents of the standards.

Through the common core, public schools will be used to foster “economic fascism” in education, charged former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican from Colorado, who until the start of this year served as the chairman of the Colorado state school board before he left the board.

“This is a 100 percent government-regulated industry emerging before our eyes,” with potentially billions of dollars being sent in its direction, said Mr. Schaffer, who is the principal of Liberty Common High School, a charter school in Fort Collins, Colo.

Legislators previously desperate for federal cash attached to the standards, he said, are “just becoming alerted to what’s going on.”

Economic fascism is right. The corporate interests in America created Common Core. There was nothing “state led” about it. In Utah we have Prosperity 2020 which is working to influence education “success” according to how they want to define it. Isn’t it time parents and children define their own education success according to their own family standards? Prosperity 2020 wants more money for education to come from Utah taxpayers.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865570291/Prosperity-2020-plan-to-improve-education-includes-more-spending-new-revenue.html

One of the comments at the end of the news article was from Ronald Mortensen where he said:

The business leaders behind Prosperity 2020 are always for more taxes as long as the incidence falls on individuals and not on them. Notice that there is no recommendation to increase the corporate tax rate, no proposal to eliminate sales tax exemptions for businesses and no call for the repeal of the business tax breaks that these business leaders have lobbied for and obtained during the past decade.

The Salt Lake Chamber is a leader in this effort and it is no coincidence that it has been designated by Americans for Tax Reform as an “Enemy of the Taxpayer.”

The Utah State Office of Education touts their involvement in the “state led” standards, yet they didn’t even know who was writing them. We’ve adopted math and English, and now the science and social studies standards are being written, and again, nobody knows who is writing the social studies draft standards.

Common Core Social Studies Standards? (I strongly suggest you read this article in its entirety)

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/j-r-wilson-whos-writing-common-core-social-studies-standards/

In November 2012 the CCSSO released Vision for the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies State Standards.  They say they are developing a framework for states to use as a resource as they upgrade their social studies standards and that this will not be a set of standards for states to adopt.  They also say this framework is “being developed through a state-led effort”.  They contend this framework, like the common core state standards, “will be based on evidence and will aim at college and career readiness.”  The CCSSO is not disclosing the names of people on the writing team and tightly controls information about how and what business is being conducted.

I was told by 2 state school board members a while back that we would never adopt common science and social studies standards, just the math and English, yet just a couple weeks ago, state school board member Dixie Allen wrote Christel Swasey and said this:

Christel,

As one of my constituents, I owe you a response to your question.  My New Year’s resolution is to work to be sure that our Core Curriculum contains all the objectives necessary to be sure our students are Career and College Ready as they leave our system of education.  That will require our readdressing our Social Studies and Science Curriculum and evaluate if there are any issues with our current Core Curriculum in Math and Language Arts that needs additions or tweaks.  This is a constant job of the State Board and our specialists at USOE.  However, it is a very worthwhile assignment that truly needs to happen on a continuous basis, as our students change and require different methods of instruction and sometimes different learning objectives to insure they are ready for the 21st Century of higher education and work and are capable of competing on the world’s stage.

Thanks for asking!

Dixie

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It’s only a matter of time before the noose tightens and states realize they’ve lost any hope of preserving local control of education for their citizens. Contact your legislators and ask them to get us out of Common Core. We can do better and preserve our freedom and sovereignty.

 

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.

Wyoming proves the feds control education through Common Core

Wyoming hasn’t complied fast enough with Common Core requirements and are now facing  fines by the federal government. This is conclusive evidence that Common Core is not a “voluntary state-led effort” that we continue to hear from the state office of education, but an entanglement from the federal government.

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/wyoming-proves-that-common-core-is-a-federal-led-initiative/

It’s not too late for Utah to exit and do something superior to Common Core. Sandra Stotsky who helped set up Massachusetts’ top rated ELA standards has volunteered to write (for FREE) the very best standards in the nation for Utah, and we could easily return to our old A- rated math standards which were at least on par and in upper grades superior to Common Core’s math standards.