Saturday, March 10, 2012

I'm an independent thinker - -

I am not sure where I should start.  I have so many stories to tell and have had a hard time narrowing down the many thoughts flowing through my mind.

As I mentioned in my last post, this fight against Common Core has consumed my life and I have worried that people misunderstand my intentions.  I love learning!!  I always have!  Growing up I did well in school and, for the most part, enjoyed it.  I wasn't the very top of my class but I was pretty darn close and did well enough in school to leave my high school at 17 without graduating and start college at BYU.  Some have argued that I missed the fun of a senior year.  I can't argue either way because I wasn't there but I LOVED college!!!  For me it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.  I was able to graduate with my bachelors at 20 and still did things in college like: take as many religion classes as I could (which I LOVED!), spend a semester studying in Nauvoo, and a summer abroad studying in Jerusalem.  My point is I know I am an intelligent person.  No, I am not trying to say I'm smarter than you.  But I know that I am able to take information presented to me, process it, and come up with my own conclusions.
The administrators in our state school board and state government are telling local school districts that there are some myths being circulated around the state.  It bothers me that, as I fight against the Common Core, people think that I'm just listening to and regurgitating the talking points of some "Right-wing nuts" because that is entirely false.    Yes there are conservative organizations across the country that are digging deep to expose what is going on in the American educational system.  Since first learning about common core, I have been reading day and night to learn as much as I can on both sides of the issue.  Have you?

Last spring, after I was handed a pamphlet on Utah's adoption of Common Core, I started asking questions.  I have been really shocked at the information I'm finding.  It is so much worse than my original worry.  It is a concerted effort to move the United States further down a path toward Socialism.  I know there is some good to implementing Common Core.  I believe that.  I believe that raising our standards is not only good but necessary.  I can see the benefit of having all of the states on the same page.  I'm just not sold that adopting this core with these strings is good for our state or our nation.
I've been talking to parents, teachers, administrators and board members because I feel that it benefits everyone to get both sides to any story.  All year, as I meet with teachers for SEP’s, I've been casually asking questions to get their reaction to these changes.  Some love it but there are many that don't.  Over the past several weeks, I've talked with higher officials and they all tell me the same story.  They even hand me papers that say the same thing.  What's really scary to me is the verbiage they use is the same as statements made by the social reformers who's money it is backing this national movement toward a Common Core.  I often thank them for bringing up the fact that they want my children to be able to compete in a "global economy".  It fuels my fire because if you really look at what the progressives say, it falls right in line with their plans to take over the education system in America.  With the exception of one administrator who was so far to the other side of the political spectrum that she had no qualms about the path this might lead America down, the rest of the officials I’ve spoken with quickly realize that I've done far more research than they have.  They simply can't answer my questions.
Do I believe that our state school board wrote Utah's standards?  Yes, I will let them claim that.  However, I also believe they did so with the guidance of the CCSSO who presented them with a guide as to how to write the standards.  Let me ask you this, “If each state that joined the group really wrote the new standards all on their own how are they all going to have the same standards?”

My uncle, a principal from California, said it this way, "States who receive federal monies for education must adopt the Common Core Standards. If the state adopts the standards, then all schools are required to use them.  The state may add additional standards."

As I stated before, raising our standards and sharing common standards across states is not my real concern.  My concern is that the Bill Gates foundation has poured not just a few millions but $27 million into our education system.  This is after he did this:

2004: Microsoft (Bill Gates) contracts with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to fulfill part of UNESCO’S Millennium Campaign Goals—universal education and educating for a global economy. A “master curriculum” for teacher training in information technologies based standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessment techniques is to be developed. (link)
(UNESCO / Gates Foundation Agreement)
I also have a problem with Bill Gates giving Mark Tucker (NCEE) $1.5 million in 2009 when Tucker says, "The goal is “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same systems for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” (link)

The administrators I've talked to keep telling me "we're failing - our students need to be prepared for a global economy."  The papers I got when I met with the State School board say the same thing.  Based on what I am finding out about the people who are pouring money into education in America leads me to believe that this is not the direction in which America should be heading.  So I'm going to fight this with all I've got. 

We have and will continue to be told that all of this stuff is just a myth.  But there is mounting evidence to back it all up.  One of my cousins put it well when he stated that all the information I'm getting from the State (to contradict what I am finding) is just “words on paper with no concrete foundation.”  I know I'm only one person but I do have a voice so I am determined to open my mouth and speak.

As I’ve emailed back and forth with family members, my uncle (the principal from California) sent me a message in support of Common Core.  We spoke later by phone so I could explain to him that I'm not against the concept of raising our standards and working with other states.  He couldn't believe that Utah is trying to claim that this is not a Federal program.  He said that it is very apparent that this (common core) is driven by the Federal government among others.  As examples, “You can get out if NCLB but only if you adopt CC.” Or “Oh we have lots of money for you with Race to the Top but by the way you better sign up for CC.”  To put it simply, it's a joke that our state officials think the citizenry of Utah are that incompetent.  The sad thing is that most people are buying it.  In truth, most people I talk with don't even know what Common Core is...

My friend (a former educator herself) and I have been trying to inform as many people as we can about our concerns with adopting the common core.  Our issue is not with raising standards, although I do not think they are all perfectly written.  I also want to make it very clear that my fight is not with teachers.  

I have much deeper concerns.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A lot of emotions tonight...

I have been a bit of a cry baby tonight.  This fight against Common Core is taking over my life.  My husband is gone a lot with work right now and it is hard not to feel overwhelmed.  If you come by my house please just ignore the mess because there is too much to do to clean my house right now.

My goal for today was to finish my laundry but between writing blog posts, running kids around, talking to my representative, and meeting with people at our school there just isn't a lot of time.

Just when I think we've helped someone to see our concerns and open their eyes there is another mountain to climb.

Anyway, I'm not a confrontational person by nature so I have been worried that by making my voice heard I'm annoying people and that some of my dear friends are hiding me on Facebook.  Silly I know but I like people and I want them to like me back.  So when I got a text from my sister in law telling me she was proud of me it was like she turned on the faucet and my emotions started flowing.  Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for reading my posts and letting me share my concerns.  And thank you for all of you that have given me encouragement.  It is giving me the strength to keep up the good fight.

Not Federally led??

Think Common Core State Standards are State led? Get the facts:

(Click here to get a 2 page flier you can print or email to share with others)
• 1988: Marc Tucker became the president of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) where he joined up with Hillary Clinton, Mario Cuomo, and Ira Magaziner to get states to move away from local control of their schools and migrate to national standards. (link)
• 1990: George H. W. Bush signed an international agreement entitled, “World Education for All (EFA), the result of a United Nations “World Conference on Education for All” summit. (link)
• 1991: Tucker and Lauren Resnick created New Standards that pushed standards-based reform. (link)
• 1992: Tucker writes “Dear Hillary Letter.” This letter, written to Hillary Clinton, addressed Tucker’s ideas for radical education reform after Bill Clinton’s presidential win. The goal is “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same systems for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” (link)
• 1994: Tucker’s ambitious plan was implemented in three laws passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton: the Goals 2000 Act, the School-to-Work Act Opportunities Act, and the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) called “Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994.” (link)
• 1996: An organization called ACHIEVE, Inc. was formed by the nation’s governors and corporate leaders. (Many of them tied to Marc Tucker and the NCEE). The goals from an Education Summit in Palisades, NY were to ACHIEVE the goals of the 1994 school reform bills. (link)
• 1998: Tucker and Judy Codding created America’s Choice, a comprehensive school reform program, that made sure the national standards were further implemented into schools. (link)
• 2001: George W. Bush renames ESEA “The No Child Left Behind Act” and signed it into law. (link)
• 2004: Microsoft (Bill Gates) contracts with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to fulfill part of UNESCO’S Millennium Campaign Goals—universal education and educating for a global economy. A “master curriculum” for teacher training in information technologies based standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessment techniques is to be developed. (link)
(UNESCO / Gates Foundation Agreement)
• 2005: Bill Gates funds the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce—created by Tucker. States begin adopting its education reform initiative, “Tough Choices or Tough Times.” In 2008, Utah’s Governor Huntsman touts it (see video in link below) and joins with 5 others states (Massachusetts, Delaware, Arizona, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) who adopt it in order to “reinvent their educational systems.” (link)
• 2008: Gates Foundation, along with two other foundations, created Strong American Schools (a successor to the STAND UP campaign launched in 2006, which was an outgrowth of UNESCO’s Millennium Campaign Goals for Universal Education). It calls for American education standards. (link 1) (link 2)
• 2008: Gates Foundation funds the International Benchmarking Advisory Group report for Common Core Standards on behalf of the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and ACHIEVE, Inc. titled, “Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education.” This report shows the United Nations is a member of the International Benchmarking Advisory Group for Common Core Standards. The member of mention is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which developed UNESCO’s Millennium Declaration—partnering with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. (link)
The report states: While states must take the lead, the federal government can help. And the federal government can do that best by playing an enabling role grounded in a new vision for the historic state-federal partnership in education. (link)
• 2009:  Marc Tucker writes a chapter in the book “Change Wars: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change.” One chapter is called International Benchmarking as a Lever for Policy Reform. The book says the UN’s OECD launched Programme for International Student Assessment in 2000 to monitor the outcomes of education. Linda Darling-Hammond also contributes a chapter. Darling-Hammond heads the SBAC (see 2009, December below) (link)
• April, 2009: Gates Foundation members, along with a few dozen others, participate in a Washington conference and produce “Smart Options: Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success.” These ideas were funded by the 2008 Stimulus (ARRA-American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and supported Race to the Top. Priority 1: Develop Common American Standards—also called Career-Ready Standards—in most states by January 2012. (link)
• 2009 (summer): Council of Chief State School Officers, National Governors Association, and ACHIEVE, Inc. agree to partner on a common core standards project. (link)
• 2009 (fall): The U.S. Dept. of Ed signals it will fund $360M for summative assessments aligned to Common Core Standards and begins planning meetings. Two consortia begin competing for this funding: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. States begin adopting Common Core Standards and join one of the consortia in order to receive No Child Left Behind waivers from the U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan. (link)
• 2009 (December): Utah becomes a governing member state of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and is obligated to use the online assessments created by the SBAC which is led by Bill Ayers’ friend, Linda Darling-Hammond. Judy Park, Associate Superintendent, Utah State Office of Ed, eventually co-chairs the Consortia. (link 1)(link 2)
• 2009 (December): Gates Foundation gives the National PTA a $1 million grant to mobilize parents for Common Core Standards. (link 1)(link 2)
• June, 2010: National Governors Association and State Education Chiefs launch Common State Academic Standards. (link)
• April 2011: The SBAC Overview Curriculum and Assessment Conference issues a report stating that CCSS member states must adopt their assessments by Dec. 31, 2011. Further, they must develop tests to be administered in 2014-2015. (link)
• 2011: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) education task force calls for the demise of the Common Core Standards, but puts it on hold after receiving a $376,635 grant from the Gates Foundation. (link)
• 2011: Bill Gates speaks at the November G20 Summit in Cannes and issues his report, “Innovation With Impact: Financing 21st Century Development” stating, “My report will address the financing needed to achieve maximum progress on the Millennium Development Goals, and to make faster progress on development over the next decade.” (link)
• 2011: Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan announces “Today, I promise you that [the Department of Education] will be a committed partner in the national effort to build a more environmentally literate and responsible society… We must advance the sustainability movement through education… Education and sustainability are the keys to our economic future-and our ecological future.” (link)
• 2012: States begin to recognize the loss of local control and enormous cost of implementation of the Common Core Standards. Many states begin pushing back. The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute call the standards unconstitutional per federal education law.
• 2012: States not on Common Core and not meeting the Annual Yearly Progress requirements of NCLB petition congress for relief. Lawmakers working on options are undercut when the Obama White House circumvents congress to grant waivers from NCLB if states adopt Common Core. (link)
Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott stated that the common standards movement amounted to a “desire for a federal takeover of public education.” Now, additional states (who originally signed on), including Massachusetts, Iowa, Kansas, and Virginia, are expressing concerns about the common standards initiative. (link)
Gov. Nikki Haley just signed a letter supporting legislation in South Carolina to block CCSS implementation stating, “South Carolina shouldn’t relinquish control to a consensus of states any more than the federal government.” (link)
Larry Shumway, Utah state superintendent, a member of the CCSSO Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Directors at West Ed which is the project management partner for SBAC assessments, recommends Utah retain its relationship as a governing member of the SBAC (thus forcing Utah to use their tests).
“I am personally opposed to any changes in Utah’s public education governance, either by constitutional amendment or by statutory revision, that would have the effect of centralizing power and decreasing representation.  I oppose changes that would decrease the ability of local boards of education, elected by the citizens of that district, to guide their own schools to meet the needs of their communities as they see it, or that would diminish the ability of 104 elected legislators and 15 elected State Board members to fulfill their responsibilities to lead Utah public education as they represent their constituencies.” -Larry Shumway–State of Education Address October 11, 2011
This seems to me a clear conflict of interest for Mr. Shumway to testify to the Utah legislature on anything related to Common Core or the SBAC.
Gates’ Foundation other contributions during the time frame of consideration and development of the Common Core initiative.
Counsel of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO): 2009–$9,961,842, 2009–$3,185,750, 2010–$743,331, 2011–$9,388,911
National Governor’s Association (NGA): 2008–$2,259,780
Mark Tucker’s NCEE: 2009–$1,500,000
Total: $27,000,000

To any who still harbor the illusion that Common Core State Standards were the product of the states simply coming together, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
Special thanks to the many people involved in digging this information up. Much work has been done by people all around the country to put this information together and help follow the money trail. Please do your part now in passing this information on to everyone you know so they can be educated about what the Common Core Initiative is really all about.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Caleb's tie

Caleb brought me this ribbon and wanted it to be his tie.  So cute!
Can you tell he's still sick?  Just look at those eyes

One of those moments where I eat my words....

I found myself in Sacrament meeting  reliving a conversation I'd had a few weeks ago while Visiting teaching.  Here's how the conversation went...

The toddler at the house we were visiting was so excited we were there she was doing a lot of showing off which its so cute ( really I love it!) but it started us on the following conversation.
I mentioned that when my kids used to be so wild when our home teachers were over (or sometimes in Sacrament meeting or even primary) we would be so frustrated when they left and have the kids practice sitting quietly for a few minutes.  Or at least have them sit on their bottoms because they were often standing on their heads or flipping over the back of the couch.
My partner said Just wait until they're teenagers, then they're punching and poking each other and there's not much you can do about it but it's so embarrassing.  We laughed and I mentioned that luckily ours don't do that and I rattled on about having Amber in between my boys really helped... Yada yada blah blah blah!
Anyway I found myself eating my words yesterday as my boys were punching eachothers legs and arguing as the meeting was  winding down.  I tried to stop them but really only slowed them down.
We've learned over the years how best to space the kids for the most successful sacrament meeting possible.  I'm not implying here that we have the best seated kids I'm just saying we've figured out how to space them so that we have the most likelihood of success with seven kids in a meeting they are supposed to be quiet in.  Believe me we have our moments but it is usually with the younger crew.  I guess it's time to reshuffle.  Oh and maybe let the teenagers practice sitting still at home and keeping their hands to themselves.   Ha!