Two Moms Against Common Core

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who is Sir Michael Barber?

Christel Swasey, Renee' Braddy, and Alisa Ellis discuss Sir Michael Barber.  Who is he and why to do we care?  Watch the discussion below:

Christel Swasey writes:

Sir Michael Barber is the Chief Education Advisor at Pearson PLC.   He's an outspoken  Common Core and global common standards promoter whose book, Deliverology 101,  is written "specifically for leaders of American Education reform."
At last month's British Education Summit, Barber gave a speech entitled "Whole System Revolution: The Education Challenge For the Next Decade".
John Seddon, British management guru and president of Vanguard, has a multi-part YouTube series entitled "Why Deliverology Made Things Worse in the UK."
"I don't go around the world bashing Deliverology, but I think I should," said Seddon. Seddon defines "deliverology" as "a top-down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people."
Seddon says "deliverology" imposes arbitrary targets that damage morale.
But in Barber's view, education reform is a "global phenomenon," no longer to be managed by individuals or sovereign countries; education reform has "no more frontiers, no more barriers," he said at the August summit on education.
Barber showed a chart during his summit speech, displayed at 12:06 minutes, which he calls a goal of "whole system revolution," pinpointed as the sum of the following addends: systemic innovation + sameness of standards + structure + human capital.
Sir Michael Barber said: "We want data about how people are doing. We want every child on the agenda." (6:05)  He specifies that "every child" means every "global citizen."
In another clip, Barber praises Common Core (CC) at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) interview.
In yet another interview --also with the CFR-- Barber says, "Can I congratulate the CFR for getting into this issue? I think it's great to see education as an issue of national security and foreign policy as well as economic and domestic policy."
But as we all know, under the U.S. Constitution, education in the U.S. is supposed to be state-led, not a federal or internationally-determined, issue.
Then there's the BBC interview.
In this clip, on the BBC show Hardtalk, Barber outlines the benefits of "private and public partnership."
Pearson "invests," says Barber, by purchasing cheap schools in developing countries in partnership with governments.
Pearson works hand in hand with both nongovernmental agencies (NGA and CCSSO) and with governmental agencies (U.S. Department of Education) to promote global education and Common Core. Because he sees  global control of education and U.S.  Common Core as one and the same.
Evidence? Look at 6:05 on --the August Summit speech.
Barber says that every country should have exactly the same definition of what it "means to be good at maths".
At 4:00 he says that "citizens of the world" including every single child, "all 9 billion people who will be alive in 2050" must know E(K+T+L) --which stands for (Knowledge + Thinking + Leadership) multiplied by "ethical underpinnings."
Then Barber explains that the "ethical underpinning" is "shared understanding" of earth and "sustainability" that every child in every school around the world will learn. Ethics, to Barber, have nothing to do with  individual liberty, the Constitution, or the Golden Rule.  It's about the global collective.
Pearson is very successful in selling Common Core curriculum, online assessments, teacher professional development, and technological resources nationwide.
Common Core is very big business. The Wall Street Journal quotes Pearson's CEO on Common Core as a financial goldmine:
"'It's a really big deal,' says Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson's K-12 division, Pearson School. 'The Common Core standards are affecting literally every part of the business we're involved in.'"
When the BBC interviewer accused Sir Barber of leading Pearson to take over nations' sovereign educational systems,  Barber said, as a defense, "I worked for government.  I love government. I think government is a really important, a big part of the solution."
Advising governments from the U.S. to Pakistan on how to implement nationalized education is Barber/Pearson's specialty.
As the UK Guardian writes:
"...Barber and his graphs have gone global. As McKinsey's hubristically titled "head of global education practice", he has set up a US Education Delivery Unit (albeit as a private sector rather than government venture), co-authored books that claim to identify what makes national education systems successful, and taken the joint chairmanship of a taskforce in Pakistan to establish "national standards" in basic subjects. Now he's becoming chief education adviser to Pearson, owner of Penguin Books and the Financial Times and also, in its own description, "the world's leading learning company", with interests in 70 countries..."
Pearson has long been partnered with Achieve Inc., which is alarming because Achieve, Inc. happens to be a co-author of Barber's "Deliverology 101" and Achieve  also happens to partner  "with NGA and CCSSO on the [Common Core] Initiative, and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the [Common Core] writing and review teams," in Achieve's own words.
These combinations of NGOs, the Pearson company, and the Federal Government, appear to literally be taking over educational decision-making.
Some on the Utah State School Board have said that "We can get out of Common Core anytime we like," but Sir Michael Barber emphasizes the importance of what he's dubbed "irreversible reform."
"If you want irreversible reforms, work on the culture and the minds of teachers and parents," Barber says.
He says this is important; otherwise, parents or traditionalists might repeal what's been done because of their "wish for the past."
He defines "sustainable reform" as "irreversible reform" and aims to "make it so it can never go back to how it was before."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Letter Judge Jackson sent...

In another post I explain how Judge Jackson got some of the research I've been gathering.  After studying out the research, here is a letter he sent to his representative.

Dear Representative McIff:

Thank you for opening a dialogue with my daughter, JaKell Sullivan, regarding the "Common Core" research which she recently shared with us. I indicated that we would glean further information and share it with you. I am now reporting. At this point, I know more than was my original intent and the political pot on this issue seems to be overflowing into two separate schools of thought. Moreover, time is obviously of the essence due to the status of the political calendar.

The first school of thought in Utah comes from the Governor's Office and the State School Board. They are circulating a six page Q&A document: Utah's Common Core, Draft 2.22.12. It poses questions in three groupings 1. Frequently Asked Questions 2. Process 3. Implementation and Future Work. The next to the last question is: What is the role of the federal government in (Common Core) standards implementation? The answer is: The federal government has had NO role in their implementation. The first question on Page 2 is: Who is leading the Common Core State Standards Initiative? The answer is: The Council of Chief State State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center).

The second school of thought comes from several citizens, including concerned mothers and teachers who have done their homework. They have directed me to three basic underlying contract documents which Utah's Executive Branch has agreed to. They conclude that these documents grant control of "Common Core" standards and implementation to the Federal Government, namely the United States Department of Education, ie President Obama's staff.

Based on my examination of -
 1. Memorandum of Understaning/SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium/Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessments Systems Grant Application/CFDA Number: 84.395B,
 2. Smarter Balanced Assesment Consortium - Governance Structure Document, July 1, 2010, Amended November 22, 2011, and
 3. Cooperative Agreement Between the U. S. Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the State of Washington (fiscal agent) dated January 7, 2011, PR/Award #: S395B100003 and S395B100003A (190 pages).
- I Concur with the conclusion of the citizens.
My opinion is based on the plain language of these contracts as set forth in my Memo: To Whom It May Concern, Subject: Federal/State Common Core Initiatives and Standards, Dated April 12, 2012 (4 pages attached). The opinion has detailed analysis of each contract.

This opinion is also supported by a grant award notification letter (GAN) dated September 28, 2010 from Director Conaty of the U. S. Department of Education to Washington State Governor Gregorie. The award is for the Race to the Top Assessment Program. It is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the basis of an approved budget of $159,976,843 for the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. The notice set a deadlilne of January 7, 2011 to finalize the above Cooperative Agreement which bears the same date. The GAN states that it will "include substantial involvement of the U. S. Department of Education".

FYI: I  have also attached a copy of National Federation of Republican Women Resolution, Defeat National Standards for State Schools, Adopted Unaniously at the NFRW 36th Biennial Convention, October 1, 2011 (1 page) .

In the interest of time, I am sharing this message with several other people. I invite them also to examine these materials and share their comments. Your cooperation and assistance are appreciated. Norman H. Jackson, Judge Utah Court of Appeals, Retired.

Judge Jackson

Last month I met a lady who had seen my you tube video and we started corresponding via email.  She asked if I would send her some of my research so she could have her dad look over it and give his legal interpretation.      Little did I know he was a retired Appellate Judge for Utah!!

He looked over the documents I sent his daughter and this is what he found:




Some concerned Utah parents recently asked me to evaluate the following contractual documents:


1. “Memorandum of Understanding/SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium/Race to the Top
Fund Assessment Program: Comprehensive Assessment Systems Grant Application/CFDA Number:

This contract is dated May 14, 2010. The State of Utah became a party to this contract when it was signed
by Superintendent Shumway 05/20/10, School Board President Roberts 05/20/2010, Procurement Official
Beers on 05/25/10 and Governor Herbert on 05/25/10. All participating states signed separate portions of
the document consisting of about seventeen pages each.

The State of Washington signed a separate signature block as the member acting on behalf of ALL states
joining the Consortium. Washington State officials signed the contract and certified as follows:

“I certify on behalf of the Consortium that each member of (it) has agreed to be BOUND by every statement and assurance in the application and that each Governing State is FULLY COMMITTED to the application and WILL SUPPORT its implementation”. Utah is #5 of 16 Governing States. (Page 12)

To be an eligible Consortium, at least 15 states must participate and at least 5 of them must be Governing
States. Washington is designated as both a Governing State and the Lead Procurement State/Lead State for
the Consortium. 30 states have signed the contract with 17 designated as Governing States. Utah is listed as
one of the Governing States above.

Eligibility Requirement (3), Page 15: To remain in the Consortium, each applicant must submit an assurance
that (1) by December 31, 2011, it WILL ADOPT a common set of college and career standards pursuant to NIA definitions and (2) by the 2014-2015 school year, it WILL ADOPT common achievement standards per NIA definitions. Note the mandatory language.

Utah’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) above is numbered pages “UT 1-17”.  It BINDS Utah to the PROGRAM published in the “Federal Register on April 9, 2010 (75 FR 18171-18185).  The stated purposes of the MOU are numbered (a) to (h). Purpose (f) prescribes how a state can enter, EXIT or change status. A state can leave the Consortium “without cause”. BUT IT MUST COMPLY with a FIVE STEP EXIT PROCESS: (1) File a written request and the reasons for it, (2) must include the statutory or policy reasons for it, (3) submit to Project Management Partner with same signatures as the MOU, (4) the Executive Committee is to act on it within a week, and (5) if APPROVED, the Project Management Partner will submit a change of membership to the United States Education Department for its APPROVAL. (Both Approvals are discretionary rather than mandatory.)

Based on the above plain language of this Contract (MOU), I am of the opinion that the State of Utah
is legally bound by and locked into the Consortium on a contractual basis. Further, Utah would find it
difficult to withdraw/exit (1) because there has been substantial performance of the contract by all parties
(assuming there was compliance with past contractual deadlines) and (2) because the exit process requires
discretionary APPROVAL of the Executive Committee of the State partners plus discretionary APPROVAL of the Federal Government. The following Contracts bind Utah to further Common Core Standard provisions.

2. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Governance Structure Document dated July 1, 2010,
Amended November 22, 2011. The amendment was approved by vote of the Governing States on
December 5, 2011 with 16 in favor and 0 opposed.

An official of the State of Utah must have approved this contract by an affirmative vote. I assume it was our
State Superintendent.  In any event, the minutes of the State School Board Meeting held August 6, 2010,
state that the Board officially voted to adopt the Common Core Standards. Moreover, “This document states that it “supersedes the specific GOVERNANCE structure provisions set forth in the MOU”.

Section IV, B sets forth the identical exit process above described.  It appears that Utah now can act by a
VOTE to approve and amend these contracts rather than signing them.

3. Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced
Assessment Consortium and the State of Washington (fiscal agent) dated January 7, 2011. (190

 The objective of this document is “to assist the consortium in fulfilling, at a minimum, the goals articulated
in the consortium’s approved Race to the Top Assessment (RTTA) application per requirements published
in the Federal Register on April 9, 2010”. This award is a cooperative agreement in accord with 34 Code
of Federal Regulations 75.200(b)(4) because the Secretary of Education has determined that substantial
involvement between the U. S. Department of Education is necessary to carry out a successful project.

It contains a Project Management Plan listing the Responsibilities of the Recipient and the Federal
Government. Patrick Rooney is designated as the Program Officer for the United States Department of
Education and Joe Wilhoft is designated as the Program Representative for Washington State (Smarter
Balanced Assessment Consortium). The estimated cost for the work to be performed under this Agreement
2is $159,976,843 and $15,872,696 for a supplemental award.

Article VI – Failure to Address Objectives states: “Failure to comply with the content of this agreement
may result in the Secretary imposing special conditions on the award pursuant to EDGAR Section 80.12 or
taking other enforcement actions, including partly suspending or terminating the award pursuant to EDGAR
Section 80.43.

Appendix E lists fourteen Race to the Top Conditions including: Condition B requires compliance with
sections 14005 and 14006 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Condition C requires
compliance with “all applicable operational and administrative provisions in Titles XV and XVI of the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Appendix A8 contains Budget Tables, Narratives and Detailed Budget Modules. Part A: Summary Table
projects Budgets for four years for the following items:  1. Governance $10,435,922.  2. Assessment Design
$97,950,884. 3. System Design $428,693.  4. Research and Evaluation $5,008,550.  5. Professional Capacity and Outreach $ 7,550,650.  6. Technology $27,074,143.  7. Higher Education Engagement $1,538,977. Total = $149,987,819.  $9,994,724 is then budgeted for three years of Comprehensive Assessments.

Appendix A8-7: Survey of Operational Costs for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium States
itemizes “Estimated Annual Contracted Expenditures for Mathematics and ELA Assessment” divided
between General Funds and Federal Funds:  The estimate for #27 Utah is $383,000 of General Funds and
$1,595,000 of Federal Funds.

In my opinion, the plain language of the three contracts legally binds Utah and the Consortium to proceed
with implementation of the Federal Common Core Standards.

Additionally, this Opinion is supported by the material fact that on September 28, 2010, Director Joseph
Conaty, of the United States Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education,
Academic Improvement And Teacher Quality Programs, delivered to Washington State Governor Gregorie
a grant award notification (GAN) for the Race To The Top Assessment Program. The award was funded by
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the basis of an approved budget of $159,976,843 for the
Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium. The notice set a deadline of January 7, 2011 to finalize the above
Cooperative Agreement which bears the same date.

The GAN states that it will “include substantial involvement on the part of the Department of Education. A
second GAN was enclosed for a supplemental award of $15,872,696 with the same conditions and deadline.


At this point, I have not been able to confirm whether Utah’s Budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 included
funds from the Consortium. Even so, Utah has already been expending funds to implement the Race to the
Top Assessment Program. Also, it is not clear if either our Executive Branch or the Legislature has estimated
the costs Utah will incur during the next four years to implement and align the Program.

 I have located a recent national study which contains some estimates for Utah: National Cost of Aligning
3States and Localities to the Common Core Standards, A Pioneer Institute and American Principles Project
White Paper, No. 82, February 2012.

These are mid-range estimates that only address basic expenditures required for implementation of the new
standards. Also, they are based on a typical standards time horizon of seven (7) years rather than four (4)

Figure 4B, Professional Development Costs for the States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only.
Utah’s estimate is $50,000,000. (Page 16)

Figure 5B, Textbooks and Materials Costs for States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only. Utah’s estimate is $35,000,000. (Page 19)

Figure 6B, Multi-Year Technology Costs for States in Smart Balance Assessment Consortiums Only. Utah’s estimate is $100,000,000. (Page 22)

The study states that “As of this writing, none of the states that have adopted Common Core have released
a cost feasibility analysis of the technology infrastructure and support necessary to administer either of the
testing consortia’s online assessments”. It concludes “Implementation of the Common Core Standards is
likely to represent substantial additional expense to most states. While a handful of states have begun to
analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough public vetting of the
costs and benefits. In particular, there has very little attention to the potential technology infrastructure
costs that currently cash-strapped districts may face in order to implement the Common Core assessments
within a reasonable testing window”.

Queries: Has Utah begun to analyze these costs? Has there been a thorough public vetting of both the costs
and the benefits?

Date: April 12, 2012.
Judge, Norman H. Jackson, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired. (801) 224-4947.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Education Without Representation:

Education Without Representation:  a response to claims of the Utah State School Board’s Common Core flier  

The Utah State Board of Education has circulated a flier which is posted on the official website.
None of the claims of the flier have been backed up with references. This response will be backed up with references to verifiable sources and legally binding documents.
  • The flier says that Utah is "free to change the Utah Core Standards at any time,"
  • and calls the following truth a myth: "Adoption of these new Core Standards threatens the ability of parents, teachers and local school districts to control curriculum." These half-truths are extremely misleading.
FACT: It is true that Utah can change the current Utah Core. But Utah is not free to change the common CCSS standards. And very soon, the CCSS standards will be all we’ll teach. The CCSS standards are the only standards the common test is being written to. The CCSS standards are the only standards that are truly common to all Common Core states. Unique state standards are meaningless in the context of the tests. This has been verified by WestEd, the test maker.
When teachers realize that merit pay and student performance depend on how well teachers teach the CCSS, and not on how well they teach the Utah Core, they will abandon the state core and focus on teaching to the CCSS-based test. Since there is no possibility for Utah to make changes to CCSS, we have given up our educational system if we take the common test. This is education without representation. Already there are significant differences between the Utah Core and the CCSS (such as, we allow lots of classic literature and CCSS does not; it favors slashing literature in favor of infotexts in English classes). When additional wrongheaded changes come to the CCSS standards, under Common Core, Utah will be unable to do anything about it. CCSS has no amendment process.
FACT: The CCSS standards amount to education without representation. They cannot be amended by us, yet they are sure to change over time. A U.S.O.E. lawyer was asked, "Why is there no amendment process for the CCSS standards?" She did not claim that there was one. Instead, she replied: "Why would there need to be? The whole point is to be common." (Email received April 2012 by C. Swasey from C. Lear)
  • The flier states that this is a myth: "Utah adopted nationalized education standards that come with federal strings attached.”
FACT:   Utah's Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education (via the SBAC tests; link below) presents so many federal strings, it's more like federal rope around Utah's neck.
The Cooperative Agreement mandates synchronization of testing arms and testing, mandates giving status updates and written reports and phone conferences with the federal branch and it demands that “across consortia,” member states provide data “on an ongoing basis” for perusal by the federal government. This federal control is, according to G.E.P.A. laws and the U.S. Constitution, an illegal encroachment by the federal government on our state.
FACT: The Federal government paid for the promotion of Common Core. It paid other groups to do what it constitutionally forbiddewn to do. Each group that worked to develop the standards and/or the test were federally funded and each remains under compliance regulations of federal grants. For two examples, PARCC (a testing consortium) was funded through a four-year, $185 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education to delivering a K-12 assessment system. WestED, the other consortium test writer for SBAC, is funded by the executive branch, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Justice. There are many more examples of federal funding and federal promotion of this supposedly state-led initative if you just do a little digging.
FACT: To exit the SBAC, a state must get federal approval and the permission of a majority of consortium states.  (page 297). 
FACT:  When South Carolina recently made moves to sever ties with the Common Core Initiative, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, began to make angry, unsubstatiated attacks, insulting South Carolina.   Duncan had similarly insulted Texas educators on national television and had made incorrect statements about Texas education, when that state refused to join Common Core.
  • The flier states that this is a myth: “Utah taxpayers will have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards.” 

FACT: No cost analysis has been done by Utah. (Ask U.S.O.E. to see one.)
FACT: Other states cited high implementation costs as reasons they rejected the Common Core Initiative. The Texas Education Agency estimated implementing the Common Core standards in the state would result in professional development costs of $60 million for the state and approximately $500 million for local school districts, resulting in a total professional development cost of $560 million. (p. 15) Also, Virginia’s State School Board cited both educational and financial reasons for rejecting Common Core.
FACT: California is asking for tax hikes right now to pay for Common Core Implementation.
FACT: South Carolina’s Governor Haley is right now trying to escape Common Core’s federal and financial entanglements.
  • The flier states that “The Utah Core Standards were created, like those in 44 other states, to address the problem of low expectations.”
This is a half-truth. While some dedicated Utahns have been working to address the problem of low expectations for years, the Common Core Initiative was hastily adopted for financial reasons. Utah agreed to join the Common Core and the SBAC long before the common standards had even been written or released, or any cost analysis or legal analysis had taken place. Utah joined Common Core and the SBAC to get more eligibility points in the points-based “Race to the Top” grant application. While Utah didn’t win the grant money, it stayed tied to Common Core and the SBAC testing consortium afterwards.
  • The flier states that this is a myth:  "Political leaders and education experts oppose the Common Core State Standards."
FACT:  Stanford Professor Michael Kirst testified, among other things, that it is unrealistic to call four year, two year, and vocational school preparation equal college readiness preparation:
FACT:  Professor Sandra Stotsky who served on the CC Validation Committee refused to sign off on the standards as authentic English preparation for college:
FACT: Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman has testified to the South Carolina Legislature that the math standards are insufficient college preparation: and

  • The flier states inaccurately states: “Most thoughtful people on this issue have lined up in favor of the Common Core State Standards.”
FACT: Governor Herbert is in the middle of a legal, educational and financial review of the standards right now. He affirmed to Heber City teachers and citizens last month that he is willing to review the standards and the political complications of the Common Core Initiative and to meet again with the teachers and citizens together with his legal team.
FACT: The majority of gubernatorial candidates and candidates for senate and house representation at the Republican convention have stated that they are directly opposed to the Common Core Initiative.  This fact is verifiable via the document published for the 2012 Republican convention by Alisa Ellis, on which each candidate was asked to state whether he/she was for, against, or still learning, about the Common Core Initiative. 
FACT:  In less than two weeks, more than 1,500 Utah teachers, parents, taxpayers and students have signed the petition at without any advertising or marketing efforts, just by word of mouth.
FACT:   There is a significant group of Utah educators who have not and will not speak out in this forum, although they do have serious concerns about the Common Core.  There is a perception that to speak against the Common Core Initiative is unacceptable or disloyal. This spiral of silence spins from the fear educators have of losing their jobs if they express what they really see. Some educators quietly and confidentially reveal this to others who boldly oppose to Common Core. 
Utah educators might respond well to an anonyomously administered survey, so that educators might feel safer in sharing multicolored rather than all rose colored, experiences from this first year of Common Core Implementation, without having to identify themselves.  Educators who have had a good experience with this first year of implementation of Common Core dare speak out.  But Utah educators who do speak out boldly against common core, if you pay close attention, are those who are on maternity leave or who have sources of income other than educating, for financial support, and are thus unafraid of losing jobs. 
This final point is obviously difficult to substantiate, but ought to be studied and either verified or proven false, by the Utah State School Board. 
Christel Swasey
Heber City
Parent and Teacher

Dear Editor,

It is well known that I've been actively trying to inform the public about concerns others and I have in relationship to the Common Core Initiative.  After presenting to the School Board in March I let them know that I would become a more active participate in what is going on in our local public school system by attending the School Board Meetings regularly.

It is for this reason that I found myself sitting in attendance at our local school board meeting last week on April 19th.  I had not had the opportunity to peruse the agenda prior to the meeting so I was in shock when I looked down at the agenda to see FERPA revision listed.

You see FERPA is Utah’s privacy law.  And when Renee and I presented our concerns about Common Core we let the school board know that we were also concerned about the collection of individual, identifiable data that would be tracked for “research”.  We asked them NOT to change any FERPA laws.  Now I understand that we are just two individuals and we certainly do not run the board but we wanted the board to know that this was a big concern for us.  

I don’t claim to be all knowing but I am actively researching and, as I understand, the National FERPA law is much looser than the UTAH FERPA law so school boards across the state are revising our FERPA laws, not to protect our children, but to give the Federal agency more access to our children’s data.  You may be thinking we always have collected data but it has never been individual, identifiable data before. 

When this action item came up at the meeting the school board very vaguely discussed this issue.  They just said they were adding #8 and #9 to the current FERPA law.  Someone suggested that they put it up for a 30-day review and that was quickly done away with and it was decided right then and there to vote on the revision.  The revision was unanimously passed and they moved on the next item.  The school board then spent 20 minutes asking about a sheet that would have fees on it for school sports for the High School.

I asked for a copy of the revision and the district kindly obliged.  They were adding ways in which “personally identifiable information” can be released “without the prior written consent of the parent” to “certain designated government or educational authorities” and “to organizations conducting studies for specific purposes on behalf of schools” among other things. 

As a citizen and parent I want to protect children in anyway I can.  I see this as a gross violation of my rights as a parent and feel the board should have put this up for public review. 

Alisa Ellis

I spoke with the Superintendent the Monday following this meeting. I asked if he could explain what happened and why they would pass that policy revision without so much as a second thought.  The least they could have done was put it up for public review.  I told him that we had warned him specifically the month before that the FERPA policy would be coming up for review.  

I demanded he tell me who the directive to make such a revision came from.  He told me that they just decided to review the policy.  I told him I find it hard to believe that it just happens to be a coincidence that our district and others around the state just happen to be revising our FERPA policy around the same time.  I once again asked him to tell me who is sending out the directive.  He told me that he goes to so many different meetings it's hard to sort them all out.

He told me they had no choice.  I said then why did it go before a vote.  He said they had to be in compliance.  I again asked why it went before a vote and that in my mind anytime something goes to vote you DO have a choice.  You can choose to stand for something.  I told him to stop thinking I'm here to fight him.  I want to help him.  This is the second time he's told me that he has no choice but to do what he's told.  I said I don't have to use your name but I want to help you so that I never have to hear you say I had to do it.  I want to help you so that you can say no.  You can have a choice.  You can make a decision at the local level because it's in the best interest of our local district.  I want to help you but you are making it difficult.  

He gave me the name of Vicky Gappemeyer.  I asked if she would be able to help me sort out who sent out the directive.  He quickly stuttered that he had actually given her the directive.  He then told me that I don't need to know where the directive came from "all I needed to know if that it needed to be changed to reflect what we had to do."

I closed the conversation by letting him know that I had never been outspoken in my life but that I feel an urgency to do so now and that I fear he's made a great mistake.

Here is the letter that he submitted to our local paper after that:

To Obey, or Not to Obey

Editor: A few citizens have outlined concerns about how a revision to Wasatch School Board’s Policy on Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act could be done so quickly in the Board meeting held April 19, 2012. The citizens were concerned that these changes were made without public input in the meeting and/or without a 30 day review period to let citizens comment. Let me explain how this could be done in a School Board Meeting.

In the meeting on April 19, 2012, the Board discussed an agenda action item entitled, “Revision-FERPA policy”. The discussion was short and centered on the changes proposed and whether there was a need for a 30 day review period. The Board made the decision to not have a 30 day review period for public comment because the revision items on the policy that needed updating to Federal FERPA (34 CFR Part 99) statute, and USOE Board Rule (R277-487-4). Board members knew that these, and all policies that are brought to them are reviewed by our attorneys for compliance to law before they are finalized.

After the meeting, a citizen approached the Board and was upset that the policy would not go out for further review. She also expressed her disappointment that the Board was not representing her concerns about federal control of public education. Board members assured her that the School District is very conscientious about protecting children’s privacy rights, and the Board intends to follow state and federal rules and laws.

Choosing to not agree with these citizens does not mean that the Wasatch Board of Education was deliberately hiding facts. It does not mean that the Board of Education is pushing an agenda that encourages federal involvement with public education. Nor does it mean that we should provide for a 30 day public review for every policy, particularly when no such review can alter the fact that we must comply.

Concerns about Federal FERPA statutes should be handled by Federal officials and our elected U.S. Congressional representatives and senators. Only they have the power to make a difference with federal laws.

Wasatch County School District is subject to federal and state laws. We must be in compliance with them. Not only is a significant amount of federal and state funding at risk if we choose not to comply, but in some cases, other serious ramifications might also occur. It was the intent to be in compliance with federal and state regulations that these revisions were adopted by the Board

Supt. Terry Shoemaker

Wasatch County School District

Read more:The Wasatch Wave - Letters

I wasn't the citizen that approached after the meeting but that was a friend of mine.  

I would like the Superintendent to explain what serious ramifications we might face.  I have been busily researching this FERPA law and will continue to do so.  

Today I talked with Carol Lear who is the lawyer for the USOE.  Unbelievable!!!   She said she is "baffled" that all of the districts are changing their policies.  She started our conversation telling me that we don't have a State FERPA law.  I questioned her on that and she didn't really answer but told me that the Utah FERPA law and the portion they are changing to match the National FERPA law are talking about two different things.  

I conferred with someone I trust and she said it is correct that they are two separate parts of the FERPA law.  The portion being revised by the districts is to release data and the Utah state FERPA is to protect the collection of data.  One has to wonder if they required that we send data will they then come along and require that we collect the data? 

She told me that the ED dept. had every right to change the FERPA law.  I told her that from my understanding they didn't change the law they changed their regulation by circumventing Congress.  She said that happens in all different agencies.  I told her that yes indeed there is a lot of corruption in the Government and we must put a stop to it.  She told me that even Homeland Security changes their laws without going through the proper channels.  I'm not sure what she was trying to do there but I reiterated that yes there is a lot of corruption that needs to be taken care of.  

She told me that I didn't need to "fear".  All I need to do is write my district a letter and demand that they do not release my children's data.  I explained to her that I do not live in fear.  I told her boldly that I am gathering information to increase my knowledge and the more knowledge I gain the more power I have because I am informed.  I do not fear I told her.  I have the responsibility to increase my knowledge so that I can inform other parents of what is going on so that they too can increase their knowledge and stay informed.

She again told me she was baffled and doesn't understand all of the misinformation going around or what the parents are worried about.  I said I will tell her why.  We are not misinformed.  I told her that if she would read the cooperative agreement she would see that we are bound to collect data and triangulate that data across consortia.  I told her that as part of the Recovery act our state had to create a longitudinal database.  I told her that whenever we accept Federal Funds they like to tell us what to do with that money and they set the rules.  

I didn't let her talk anymore but told her that although I respect her interpretation of the law I was going to seek other advice from other lawyers so that I can be armed with as much information as I can.  I thanked her again for helping me to gather as much information as I could so that I could inform other parents.  I told her I may be calling if I needed more information.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Here's my stance...

My response to a candidate when asked to speak with someone that would disagree with my stance on Common Core:

I am happy to talk with her but will not have time today.  Should I put you down as in favor or undecided?

I've spoken with many people about this including the Governor in depth.  I recognize there are many people with varying degrees of opinions about the Common Core initiative.  As stated in my previous email if this were simply about raising standards I would be fully in support.  I have been scouring the Dept. of Ed at the state level and national level for information and asking them MANY questions that have gone unanswered.  Through this research I find the attempt to Nationalize Education in America and I am absolutely NOT in support of this movement.  

The fact sheets that are being put out by the USOE are not backed by evidence and they will not produce the evidence needed when asked for it.  When asked by a friend of mine if they had done a legal analysis on the Cooperative Agreement the legal department of the USOE said they didn't believe such a document existed and once they were presented with the document they began stonewalling her.  I listened to the State School Board meeting when they began this subject.  They describe West Ed approaching the states asking them to meet in Chicago to develop these National Standards.  From the beginning they try to claim that this is not Federally led but openly admit that they are national standards.  The Federal Government is smarter than simply coming outright and demanding that we adopt Federal Standards.  They paid other people to do what they are not allowed to do. 

They talk about this all happening at a critical time because of the stimulus bill.  They state that things are moving rapidly because the CCSSO and the NGA were given money to develop these standards.  They state that ACHEIVE, ACT and many others are willing to write these standards for free but ONLY if we sign the MOU by Monday.  (the meeting was held on a Friday)  They laugh about how the Federal government can just give us large amounts of money or they will just print it.  I know that we didn't receive the RTTT for our individual state but the meeting showed a lack of in depth study.  They even admit that this is not a Race to the Top but a Race for the Money.  They say that the requirements for the RTTT are to join a consortium of states for standards and for assessments.

The USOE is telling people that this all happened before the RTTT but it was only one month before the official announcement and in the MOU it gives the Federal government permission to fund the CCSS through means like RTTT.  This is only a sampling of some of the things I've been going through but it paints a clear picture to me the Ed. Department is trying to side-step law to push their agenda.  I realize that there are some that think nationalizing our education would be good for America.  I, however, do not.

Many say that this is all a political move.  I've never taken a stance on anything before and have never been involved in politics in my life.  Something moved inside of me when I first heard about Common Core and once I started in depthly researching I felt a call to action.

Thank you for keeping an open mind and at least looking into research presented on both sides.  They don't mesh and they should.

Alisa Ellis

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Deseret News Article

The above article did a decent job of trying to tell an even story but just by the title you can tell which way it's slanted.  I need to clear something up - "There's no harm in raising the standards," Ellis said. "I just don't think it should be done the way it's being done." 

 I never said there is no harm in raising the standards.  I told Mr. Wood that I am all for raising standards but I don't think we're doing it the right way. 

If you don't want to read the entire article skip down to the bottom to see the facts they've been looking for.


SALT LAKE CITY — Criticism of the Common Core State Standards is intensifying as Utah's election season progresses.
Utah has been a part of the consortium of states implementing common educational standards for more than two years. But the topic has gained notoriety in recent months, from multiple bills debated during the legislative session asserting the state's educational sovereignty, to candidates for public office frequently being questioned on their support or opposition to the standards.
The Common Core State Standards are a set of achievement benchmarks in mathematics and English language arts. They are voluntarily adopted, with the goal of improving college- and career-readiness among students as well as establishing a degree of educational consistency between states.
To many, however, that push for inter-state consistency and collaboration echoes over-reaching federal control of local education. After 10 years of hearing educators lament the teach-to-the-test burden of No Child Left Behind, many parents are crying foul.
The group Utahns Against Common Core has launched a petition on its website and has gathered more than 1,000 signatures. The petition calls for a withdrawal from the common core standards and demands that full control over curriculum and assessments be given to local school districts. It also calls for the state to develop a five-year plan to remove any and all dependence on federal education funding.
Sydnee Dickson, director of teaching and learning for the State Office of Education, said most of the concerns she's heard regarding the standards are based on misinformation. She said much of the furor over Common Core is politically-motivated — stemming from anti-federal sentiment and ignoring the standards themselves — and is perpetuated by blogs instead of factual data.
"We're already seeing higher pass rates," she said. "Our experience since we began the adoption is that it's changed the instruction. Teachers are expecting more rigor."
Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka said she supports raising education standards in Utah, but doesn't agree that the states needs national benchmarks to do so.
"We don't have to do Common Core to raise mathematics standards," she said. "We don't have to do Common Core to work with other states. Raising standards and Common Core are two different things."
Ruzicka, like many opponents of Common Core, foresees a federal takeover of education with Utah's participation held hostage by federal dollars. Dickson said that there is no tie between adopting the standards and receiving federal funding and emphasized the  standards do not threaten state sovereignty.
"Teachers and school districts are still in control of what is being taught and how it's being taught," she said.
The topic was addressed recently at an April 11 Republican gubernatorial debate. Nearly all the candidates expressed a need for greater local control of education, with Morgan Philpot and William Skokos stating explicitly their opposition to the Common Core State Standards.
"I will fight to get us out of Common Core," Philpot said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Gov. Gary Herbert, who has overseen the adoption of the Common Core standards, instead focused on the need for greater rigor in Utah classrooms and spoke favorably of shutting down the federal Department of Education.
While anti-federal ideology plays a large part in the debate, there is also a concern among some parents, like Alisa Ellis, that the common standards would impede well-performing students from accelerating their education. Ellis has worked with her children to get ahead in math and hopefully complete AP Calculus in their junior year of high school. She said she was unsure what effect the new benchmarks would have on students in the tops of their classes. 
"How can you take a whole nation and put it into the same window without hurting the top and bottom?" Ellis said.
Dickson said that under Common Core, accelerated tracks and honors courses will continue to be available. If a student is gifted enough to skip courses, parents and school districts can work together to make that happen. 
She also said that with AP examinations taken independent of a classroom, there is nothing to stop a student in their junior year from registering for and taking the test if they feel proficient.
Dawn Davies, Utah Parent Teacher Association vice president, agreed with Dickson, saying the standards set a minimum benchmark for each grade but do not prevent anyone from moving ahead. She said the standards help make students better able to meet global and local business needs and prepare students who are entering or exiting the state.
"We are a mobile society and as people come to our state we need to have the high standards," Davies said.
Ruzicka, however, downplayed the need for inter-state consistency as a solution in search of a problem.
Ellis said she is more worried about federal control than the standards themselves. She said she met with Herbert and members of the State Board of Education but that they had failed to answer her questions, instead turning discussion back to the benchmarks raised under Common Core.
"There's no harm in raising the standards," Ellis said. "I just don't think it should be done the way it's being done."
Dickson said officials focus on the standards because that is, in essence, what the Common Core State Standards are. She said the peripheral discussions of socialism — she's heard the standards referred to by opponents as the "Communist" Core — and federal manipulation is little more than political fodder in a campaign season.
"I have yet to hear any of the political comments that are valid," Dickson said. "It's all steeped in fear and not fact."


Well Ms. Dickson here are the facts:

1.        The Governor of Utah has signed Utah on as a governing member of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)( - see page 301) whose assessments include psychometric attribute testing of our children.
·         Psychometric testing is “any test used to quantify a particular aspect of a person's mental abilities or mindset–eg, aptitude, intelligence, mental abilities and personality. See IQ test, Personality testing, Psychological testing.”(
EVIDENCE:  Psychometric testing is a violation of Utah law per code section 53A-302. (
EVIDENCE:  Utah is “committed to implement a plan to identify any existing barriers in state law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system” – (

2.        Membership in SBAC obligates us to work in consensus with 30 other states thus eliminating local control of Utah education.
3.       There are only two organizations, SBAC and PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers), creating assessments for the standards and those groups were funded by the Federal Government.
4.       Utah, along with other states didn’t officially adopt Common Core until being incentivized through the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant process. 
EVIDENCE:  The Whiteboard advisors said, “…the effort gained a great deal of momentum when the Obama Administration included participation in the Common Core as an eligibility criterion for many of the programs created out of the $110 billion stimulus funds. Programs such as Race to the Top rewarded states that not only participated in developing the Common Core, but also adopted them.” (From Education Insider: Common Core Standards and Assessment Coalitions: Whiteboard Advisors)( - pg. 7)
EVIDENCE:  States were given more points for “raising standards” and also for joining a group of states to create assessments.
·         Membership in the assessment groups then required states to adopt Common Core Standards ( – pg. 3
5.        Nearly at the same time as the above RTTT, the Federal Government announced additional incentives with the Race to the Top for Assessments (RTTTA) Funds requiring states to join with other states and create common assessments and standards to receive the prize.
EVIDENCE:  “To be eligible to receive the award an eligible applicant must include a minimum of 15 states.”  ( - pg.12)
EVIDENCE:  “…an eligible applicant must submit assurances from each State that the State will adopt a common set of … standards” (pg. 15)
6.        The Utah State School Board was given a weekend  to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which;
a.        Authorized the creation of Common Core Sate Standards
b.      Gave the Federal Government permission to “provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund. ( pg. 90)
EVIDENCE:  Dr. Hales presented the information about developing Common Standards to the Board on May 1, 2009 and “Indicated that they would like us to sign a MOU on Monday [May 4th] if we are going to participate.”

7.       The Utah State School Board recognized Common Core Standards as National Standards from the beginning as is noted in the State School Board Minutes from April 2009.
EVIDENCE:   “WestEd which is an arm of the US Department of Education has askedfor some that are in that [American Diploma Project ADP] to come together to create some common standards.   All is coming to a peak moment with the stimulus package for national common standards. 
On April 17 Board Leadership has approved her [Superintendent Harrington] travel to visit with CCSSO and the expectation is that Utah might sign a Memorandum of Understanding that we might begin the dialogue.  It will not commit her [Superintendent Harrington] or the Board but would add Utah to the states that are interested in understanding on how we might develop common standards. 
It was clarified that the national standards would focus around language arts and math.”
8.        The Utah State School Board hastily and negligently signed our state up for the Common Core Initiative which included SBAC in an effort to receive money from a Federal grant.
EVIDENCE:  “Part of our Race to the Top Application was participation in a Common Assessment Consortium - Associate Superintendent Judy Park reported that states are scrambling to see who they want to align themselves with or partner with.  Because the federal government required we declare what consortium you were in we were under an impossible deadline.  To make it work we all agreed we would do a Non-binding MOU’s into a Consortium.  Utah along with many other states signed on to multiple consortiums.”  State School Board Meeting Feb. 2010
·          Three of the consortiums joined together forming SBAC and we later signed a binding MOU