Two Moms Against Common Core

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wow! I wish I would have recorded our conversation...

Good thing I brought a witness.

I met with our local superintendent for two hours on Friday and with a very emotional plea begged him to push back for our local rights and to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in America.

We started with him trying to draw on the board a similar drawing to the ones every administrator I've spoken with has drawn.  He quickly set down the chalk when he realized we had put more research into this than he had.  I thanked him for bringing up several items so that I could rebut them.

My issue isn't with raising our standards, but I must say I don't think this raises the standards for all.  I spoke to him of my conversations with the state about the math standards in particular.  I told him of my debate back at forth at the state offices about my younger children finishing a year behind what my older children will be able to do because they are ahead of the Common Core initiative.  I told him that they told me to take the fight back to my local school board because the fight over particulars lies there.  He looked at me dumbfounded and told me no we cannot teach them beyond grade level.  I reminded him I do not want my children to skip a grade but that a teacher should be able to assess the class and the individual students and let them progress accordingly without an artificial ceiling put into place.  I mentioned to him that he may want to take that to the state because they told me something different and that if he could resolve that argument it would help calm some of my concerns but it definitely is not my biggest concern.  He told us that he had people coming to him in support of Common Core.  I have no doubt that is true.  But did you know that the national PTA received millions of dollars to advocate for this new initiative?  (His face fell  as he sits on the State PTA board - no I did not he said)  I won't win the email war I said.  They've got a lot of money pushing their agenda forward.  I do not believe that any of the local or state PTA boards know this but they do know that they are being told to fight hard for this and that they are being sent to advocacy trainings in support of common core.

Did you know that tomorrow in many areas the districts around the state are holding meetings to teach parents about common core?  They are going to say that all of the things I'm saying are myths but they have given no evidence to prove otherwise.  And they are not opening it up to the other side or for questions, as I understand.  This is crazy!!

I told him some of the things that the people putting their money into our education had said and some of the contracts and agreements they have made with world organizations.  I asked him if he wanted people who are saying things like that putting money into our children's education.  He assured me that he did not.  He told us how things are not how they used to be.  He said that as our administrator he has no control but has to do as he is told. He said my hands are tied.   He said he didn't doubt the things we told him but he wasn't sure if it was as bad as we mentioned.  We assured him that maybe that was because he hadn't done his research as we had.  We begged him to do his due diligence before he blindly following what he was being told by our administrators.  I showed him how I am already seeing some of the follies of this new initiative being played out in my own family.  How can you sit there and not stand up for freedom?

We're tired he said.  We've been fighting for a long time Alisa.  I've watched our local freedoms get narrower and narrower, he said.  We told him we would take our fight to the board who were elected to represent the people.  He said they don't represent you anymore.  Our control is gone.  We can do nothing he said.  I said then you won't mind me fighting for our freedom will you?  He said I won't ask you to stop fighting.

I will contact as many parents as I can in this valley and around the state and share my concerns and let them do their own research and make their own conclusion.  I will talk to all of your principals and teachers and beg them to do their own research.  He let me know that I would be a thorn in his side and that it would make his life very difficult to move forward with what he's been given to do.  I told him that I am not out to make his job difficult nor do I hold any of our teachers, principals, etc accountable for these things but I can not sit back and let us be led blindly down this path because the truth is most parents don't even know what Common Core is.  At the most, they know what they were told at SEP's or back to school night that everyone is SOOO super dooper excited that Utah decided to raise it's standards and what a great tool this will be.  Do I believe this?

YES!!!  But for me all of the things I see coming down attached to the standards raise huge red flags and FAR outweigh the benefits.  That's the plan.  It has to look good.  How else would the people pulling the strings get so many to sign onto this?  That is how they operate.  We won't even see the effects of this for many years down the road.  They're smarter than that.  They will slowly wrap a string around our neck one mandate at a time until there are so many cords it becomes nearly impossible to escape.  Yes I know that Arne Duncan said we could get out of the standards whenever we want but tell me how.  We took a waiver to get out of No Child Left Behind because we committed to these standards.  If we decide to get out does that mean we have to pick NCLB back up?  We all know what a raging success that was.  Say they let us out, and they say you don't have to pick back up NCLB will they make us repay all of the Title I money we've been taking?  That was part of the agreement too.

Our State Superintendent has placed our state as one of the governing members of the SBAC (assessments)  which is the assessment consortium that comes along with the CCSSI (common core state standard initiative).  As stated in their rules that makes us bound to keep the Common Core.  I believe we can raise our standards and take the good out of all of this and make it work for our state so that WE have the power without joining this group.  It also states in their laws that everyone has to agree to any changes.

Are there benefits in working with other states?  Doesn't it sound great to have the states the same so that when we move from state to state etc...?  Sure it does!  But we now have to fight with 43 other states if we want to make a change with the standards that would be beneficial to our state, how else would they be common?  It is stated in the by-laws of the SBAC.  We need to work together it says.  Do the administrators in Chicago know what is best for your child?  I know they certainly don't know what is in the best interest of my children.  That's what is great about local control.  I can take the concerns of my children to my administrator and he CAN have the power to make changes and advocate in behalf of my concerns.

We need to pick up our arms and FIGHT for our freedom!!

Thanks for the reminder --

This is what I'm fighting for.

I received this comment on my blog and I wanted to share.  I do not know this person in any way, shape or form.

Alisa, Someone just told me about your blog and I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You! We've never met and I have no idea who you are, but it is so refreshing to see more and more people waking up to the dangers of Common Core because they do their own homework. I am also an independent thinker. I was raised by a mother who escaped from Stalinist Ukraine only a year before Stalin starved 15 million Ukrainians. They saw what was coming. My grandparents saw that the communist state was trying to take over the hearts and minds of the children by forcing them into state run schools at the age of 3, taking away their religion and their connections to family and everything they held dear. My grandmother whispered "They are stealing our children away from us" just before they risked their lives to escape. I grew up in the best California private Catholic schools because my parents saw the problems within the nearby public schools and wanted much more for their children in academics and morality. We grew up with very little, sacrificing everything for a good academic and moral education. I have a degree in education and saw first hand how becoming a teacher was much more about indoctrination than it was about actually teaching children academics. I worked in the classroom until I started my own family. I found I could help other children much more through private tutoring and having a preschool in my home. I spent many years studying religion before I joined the LDS Church. I take freedom, education and religion very seriously because all of them have come at a huge cost for my family. I've always been looked up to by members of the church for standing up for freedom and education. It wasn't till I moved to Utah 3 years ago that I even heard the term "right wing extremist", and that coming from church members who should know better about the importance of freedom, agency, family first, the inspired Constitution and excellent education out of the best books. This term came from the mouths of members who should know that we need to put God first in everything we do and be careful of worldly philosophies that would take us away from family, freedoms and our God. I am constantly amazed that the very people who should understand the principles we stand for are the ones who fight us the most. My fight is not with teachers either, but is about protecting families, the Constitution, Judeo-Christian principles, and the right for parents to educate their children in how they believe is best based on these core beliefs. How dare a few people who think they are the educated elite take away our rights and freedoms to raise our own children in the way we think is best. How dare they take more and more of our hard earned money while forcing upon our children socialized education. My grandparents and my own mother who sacrificed so much to bring us to America to experience a better life and a better education are, I'm sure, blessing us from above for all we are doing to help our children in this crazy world we live in. Bless you for doing your own homework and for standing up for your children's sake and for that of so many others in this state. I pray that more will understand that this is just part of the ongoing battle for our children's souls and freedom. And I pray that they will wake up in enough time to join us.

Thank you for taking the time to read over my blog and share your experience with me.  It truly touched my heart because what she said is exactly what I'm fighting for.

I have been very prayerful as to how I should go about this because I don't want to make enemies but have felt very directed by the Lord in the things that I should do and the value of having this fight.  I went to the temple to help guide me in how I should proceed and whether I should proceed in this cause.  When I opened the Book of Mormon I looked down to see that I had opened them to Alma chapter 51.  I thank my Father in Heaven for giving me the courage to fight this fight.

Here is the description of the chapter:  The king-men seek to change the law and set up a king—Pahoran and the freemen are supported by the voice of the people—Moroni compels the king-men to defend their country or be put to death—Amalickiah and the Lamanites capture many fortified cities—Teancum repels the Lamanite invasion and slays Amalickiah in his tent.

These verses really hit me:

 Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the alawshould be altered.
 But behold, Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered; therefore, he did not hearken to those who had sent in their voices with their petitions concerning the altering of the law.
 Therefore, those who were desirous that the law should be altered were angry with him, and desired that he should no longer be chief judge over the land; therefore there arose a warmadispute concerning the matter, but not unto bloodshed.
 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called aking-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a bkingover the land.
 And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of afreemen; and thus was the bdivision among them, for the freemen had sworn orccovenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government.
 And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the avoice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom.
 Now those who were in favor of kings were those of ahigh birth, and they sought to be bkings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.

I knew after reading these verses that I have to keep fighting for our freedom.

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.

An emotional night --

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.

Here's how it went...

Wow getting involved can take over your life!  Maybe I should rewind and just let someone else fight the fight because this is exhausting.  I know that is not an option because although I've never gotten involved in the past I feel pretty passionate about this.

Things went well yesterday but you sure do feel a lot of scoff and mockery for going against the norm...

First let me say none of my views or concerns are a personal attack on teachers.  I have a great respect for them and their willingness to teach my children.  I don't want any of this to come across any other way but I do feel we as parents need to have a voice also.

My sister posted a link to my last blog post and the following was written on Facebook in response to some questions raised.


Interesting perspective. I love to learn about others' perspectives. I'm in the process of getting ready for school, but would like to share my thoughts - albeit briefly. The common core does not take away the opportunities for subgroups to move above and beyond the average group or move at their own pace. Differentiation within the core is expected in every classroom. The common core is raising expectations for those who fit in the average range. It will require students to develop higher-level thinking skills. It also focuses on the integration of technology and better prepares students for college. It is certainly a step above what Utah - and most of the states - currently have set as their core. I see it as a progressive step toward raising the bar. Isn't that good news for those who have exceptional and gifted children. Private school is always an option. After all - public school is designed for, well, the public. Would she have states design a core for each subgroup and then segregate below, average, and above students and teach them separately? What is the ideal approach? The common core is certainly above and beyond the expectations currently guiding public school curriculum. So much more I would like to share ... but, I am interested in learning more about her perspective. Thanks for sharing - and letting me share. ;)

More questions --

 What do you recommend as a better system for setting curriculum and learning expectations and, subsequently, measuring growth? How are teachers to be evaluated in their effectiveness? In your opinion...What concerns you most about No Child Left Behind? Why and how do you see the establishment of a common core as a threat to school boards? How do you see the common core as different from what each state has previously established as their core? Or do you? I am sincerely interested in your perspective and would enjoy learning about your views. Are you aware that each state has chosen whether or not they will participate? Funding for public education already comes from a combination of federal and state funding. How does adopting a common core impact that?

My Response:

I am all for raising the bar and higher standards. The fact that this feels as though it is a step backward for many students, not all, is only one of my concerns about the Common Core although a very big one. I can assure you that I don't have all of the answers or the perfect solution but I do feel that it would be ignorant to take the Common Core at face value without doing my own research when it will greatly influence the life of my children. Last spring when I was first introduced to the common core it caused me great concern so I started asking questions and wondering if I was the only one that felt this way. Now I would think that the majority of Utahans wouldn't think of themselves as falling for a socialist agenda but I still didn't see how having common standards with such a large diversity of people and cultures did not equate to trying to get everyone equal or the same. Further, I wondered how you could take such a large group and fit them all in the same box without hurting someone. I do however feel that raising the bar is an excellent thing and I do believe than most people will rise to the challenge when so given. It is not the standards that I have a problem with and I'm just walking you through my thought process.

So I started asking questions. I attended a local GATE meeting where they talked with parents about how Common Core would affect our students. They told us that many students are attending college ill-prepared for Math and having to retake remedial math because their skills just weren't up to par. That didn't sit right with me because although I believe that happens, who are they talking about and what colleges are they getting their data from. I had the feeling that they were speaking of the average student and not the gifted students or just the hard working ones. The GATE coordinator then went on to tell us that the teachers were really going to start digging deep to make sure the students were really having a great understanding of the concepts and not just learning the concepts for a test. All of this is good information but I felt as though we were being set up for a bomb because the emphasis was repeated over and over. I mentioned to them that some students are capable of learning a concept well and moving along quickly all at the same time so I wanted to know if the teacher would be able to move students ahead. Once again I was met with we are going to dig deeper. Another parent raised their hand and asked flat out, "Will the teacher be about to teach the students beyond Honors Math 6 next year?" No we were told. Now I don't expect to have completely special treatment but I do expect that teachers should assess the needs of the students in the class and plan curriculum accordingly. Where I live we were talking about a class of only gifted students so the expectation is different than it would have been in one of my other children's classes. I left this meeting feeling very frustrated and started asking more and more questions and finding some alarming things which I will try to address later. We are now into the the school year that I was concerned about so at an SEP I asked the teacher how it was going with the common core. She mentioned that she liked parts of the Language Arts but that the Math was slow for these students. I heard from other parents that the teacher mentioned to them that she was also concerned that the students of her gifted class would be bored the next year in Honors Math 7. Not to mention the fact that the concepts to be taught were behind where my older two children had been taught just a couple of years previous.

Yesterday at the State School Board Meeting they broke off into committee so I followed the committee that would be discussing the Common Core. My concerns were brought up and I was able to address them briefly. I was assured by the members of the board that my claims were false and that they are all for moving students ahead. They mentioned that students would have to take a series of test to be able to move ahead (none of which my older two children had had to do). She then asked if my child was really gifted or if I just thought that. Had my child been tested as gifted. I answered that he is in the gifted program so yes he was tested. They started talking about how students can skip ahead if they need to (which is not what I want) after passing a series of test to determine if they were truly gifted. We couldn't discuss this in detail because of time restraints but I was told this was a local issue that my school district must not be understanding. That is good news but another battle I must fight. As the meeting ended I was approached by the head of the state math department and she asked if I had time to meet with her and the woman in charge of the State Gifted program. We met for about an hour and had a good discussion about my concerns. It was a great meeting because they are a great advocate for the gifted students and not for stifling one's success. They explained that with the new core students would achieve AP calculus by the 12th grade. I mentioned to them that my older two children and many, many others are on the path to achieve AP calculus their 11th grade year so how is that ahead? We talked about how I am not preaching that I want my children to "skip" ahead because I do believe concepts are lost by doing that. We should be building upon principles, which I understand is what they are trying to do with the new standards, but I want to make sure there is room to move more quickly if needed for the student. I told them that I felt like my younger children will be missing a year by being slowed down in math alone because my older two will have an opportunity to fill that 12th grade math slot with another challenging course or even starting a college level math course. Anyway they gave me some fighting power to take back to my schools and I felt that it was time well spent. I should note that it concerned the Math lady that the member of the school board said they would have to pass some gifted assessments to move ahead in math. This also concerned me because my daughter that took pre-algebra in the summer to get ahead did so because at the time they were only teaching the students, in our local school, labeled as gifted pre-Algebra in that particular grade. My daughter is very bright but never passed the gifted test however through hard work and determination she is ranked #1 in her class of 447 students. According to what I was hearing she would have never been given the opportunity to move ahead under the new Core. The Math coordinator is going to take this issue up with the member of the board that made that statement to clarify and make sure that is not true.

Let's move on ahead to my other concerns...

Because of time constraints I can't take the time to write out everything on this matter but my good friend and I have been researching this together and as a former educator I think she will answer your questions better. She has been emailing back and forth with our local representative and I will pull from what she has written.

Let me be clear in letting you know that I DO NOT have any reservations with Utah raising it's standards or the rest of the country for that matter.

1. Are you aware of the groups and individuals who are behind this movement?

That is where my concern lies!  I DO have a huge problem with the Federal Government being in our educational system and any other influential and powerful individuals and from my studying of this, that is exactly what is happening. The facts show clearly where this is coming from and while I have studied and understand the benefits, the risks and cost is much too high and clearly unsafe for us and our children.

I continually hear from you and others that this is not Federally led, but I do not understand how you can say this, as much as it is trying to be portrayed that way, it is so obviously a way for the Federal Government to be involved in Education, just like NCLB and that not only failed, but failed miserably. In Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address he says, "For less than one percent of what our Nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every State in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning - the first time that's happened in a generation." To me this is very telling that the Federal government and even more specifically, Pres. Obama, is behind this and that States were convinced to join the movement because of funds that I understand were named "RTT" or "Raise to the Top" money. While I realize that Utah did not benefit from these funds, the whole thing is crazy and I believe that we are setting up the foundation for a Federal take over and a progressive movement for social reform in America.

2. How can we call these Utah Standards when they are not allowed to be changed? (only added to by 15%, whatever that means?)

If Federal Government is providing the funds, then my experience has been that they will for the most part dictate how the funds are used and that is generally not in our best interest.

I can assure you that higher standards will not ensure a high quality education. High quality teachers will ensure a higher quality of education. These individuals are NOT going to be attracted to the teaching profession under these circumstances, no matter what the pay is. Nor will these teachers want to remain in the field of education. People, including teachers, want to have the freedom to perform their job in the way that they deem best. This includes teachers being able to use a variety of best practices in teaching and not limited to what others deem best for them. What works for one teacher doesn't always work for another and what works for one student doesn't necessarily work best for another. It doesn't mean that one method is better or worse than the other, it's just different and different can be good. I know this from personal experience and I can tell you that when teachers are limited, so are students. While it may sound impressive that students will be able to form and use irregular verbs and compare equivalent fractions at the end of third grade, this is not new, this was already being taught by high quality teachers to their students. I know because I taught third grade and this was a part of my curriculum, regardless of what the standards were for Utah.

This having been said, I am well aware as an educator and a parent that we have teachers and administrators that are not doing an exceptional, not even a good, and maybe even downright poor job of educating or not educating our children and we need to be able replace them with individuals who are capable and desirous to teach in a way that is best for individual students success in learning. I am in favor of the an end to tenure, and that is another discussion by itself.

I can also let you know that while coordinating our curriculum with other states may sound good in theory, in my opinion it may not be best in practice. I have attended numerous teacher training that was put on by National Organizations such as NCTM (National Council of Mathematics) and while they were enjoyable in that it was a fun trip with fellow teachers, for the most part it was a waste of my time and the tax payers dollars. The most effective and valuable teacher training that I received was by fellow master teachers in the field at a local level within my district and surrounding districts that were able to share their best teaching methods and how they were implementing them in their classroom, rather than those deemed best by a National Organization. I loved the partnership that was formed between several districts to partner together to offer teacher training. I always filled my summers and often nights and weekends receiving as much of this valuable and fairly inexpensive training that I could. At a local level is where we will make a difference with our teachers and it is also where we will make a difference with our students and their education.

3. My next question is what happens when a student isn't able to meet the standards? Has that been addressed and how will it be handled?

4. Can we really afford this new program?

While I understand that there is federally money that we will receive for being a part of this, what will be the cost of implementation? My guess is that we will not just fall short, but we will fall way short and we will be left to make up the difference. It is expensive for new curriculum and teacher training and frankly, we are out of money because we continue to spend and spend regardless of our debts. What are we really teaching our children and what are we really leaving them with?

Now to a follow up email that she wrote …

Thanks so much for all the effort and time that you have spent with me on this issue.  I couldn't agree with you more about the federal government's involvement in our education.  I am aware that there were large amounts of money that were awarded to states who signed on early and were able to meet their ridiculous requirements for RTT money.  Thank goodness, we didn't get that money!  And how much money has already been wasted just trying to meet those requirements?  

Even if the federal funds are not currently tied to the Common Core, we will be so indebted to this new curriculum because of all the money that we have spent on it that it will be even more difficult to remove ourselves from it in the future.   That is why I believe NOW is the time to act.  We have seen this same thing happen over and over again with other federal education programs.  But, I still think we have made and are continuing to make a HUGE mistake and it's not too late.  We can get out and I would hope that you would help that happen and be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.  I still believe that regardless of the funds that may be lost, we will be winning, if we opt out.   The federal government takes our money and then they only give it back to us if we spend it how they dictate and this is wrong! I believe that adopting this program will end up costing us more than it is saving us because of all the new curriculum that will need to purchased, testing, teacher and administrator training, and whatever other implementation costs are associated with it.  And what all this money really buying us?  I believe that we are buying an enslavement into the federal government and other individuals who are behind this idea of controlling us from "cradle to grave".  

While this whole thing is fairly new to me, I have become somewhat consumed with learning more and trying to really find out the truth about what is happening in America and more specifically how it is going to affect Utah.  Quite frankly, I am concerned for my own children. I now have children in the public school system for the first time and there is nothing that makes you want to know more than when you realize the impact that these decisions will have upon them, their future, and your family.  I know that you are in the same situation and that is why I trust that you will continue to put this as a top priority.  

As a teacher, I was clueless as to any of the information that I am now learning.  My guess is that a very high percentage of educators, administrators, and school boards fall into this category.  As ashamed as I am to say it, I even gave funds each month out of my paycheck to the NEA, UEA, and PEA.  I didn't do this because I felt like it was a good idea and I supported their motives, I did it because I didn't know any different and it is pushed very, very strongly among educators.  If you were not a member of these organizations, then you were not invited to the meetings and you are almost looked down upon as not being a supporter of educators.  You were made to feel as though your job was in jeopardy and no one would protect you.  I can still tell you the one educator in our school who was not a member of this organization.  It's crazy and I'm ashamed of myself, but, when we know better, we do better!  And, now that I am learning and know better, I feel that I must be involved and do better and help others know too.  Sorry, that you are the one getting the earful, but I'm hopeful that you can help make a difference for good for our state and the education of our children.  

My goal is not to attack or slander or belittle anyone, I just want to make sure they are informed and then go forward making decisions.  Of course, I will only vote for and support candidates that I feel represent my viewpoints.  And, I really do feel like you and I are on the same page and that is one of the reasons why I have chosen to talk to you about this.

I do want to hear both sides and next week I have a meeting arranged with the principal of the elementary school that I worked under in the _____ School District and hopefully she can also shed some of her insight into the Common Core with me.  I respect her as an educator and as a person and look forward to speaking with her.  

Last night in doing some more research I came across a website that I felt was very helpful to me.  I want to share it with you and hope that you would take some time to look into it.

I did want to find out who Alice Linahan is who wrote this article and so I did some research on her as well.  And found out that she is the founder of a group called "Voices Empower".  Voices Empower provides conservative new media consulting services to for-profit and non-profit organizations nationwide.  Founded by Alice Linahan, a conservative, politically-active Texas mom, Voices Empower works in the trenches of the Tea Party movement to break the reliance on the liberal media for news and information. Voices Empower shows you how to harness the power of  new media to help you get your conservative message out.

Bright and early in the morning I am speaking in front of the State School Board sharing with them my concerns about Common Core.  I can't believe I'm doing this but I have felt very strongly about it since learning about it.  Anyway, wish me luck!

Here's my speech:

From the inner city to the small town, from single parent homes to English as a second language, how are we all supposed to fit into a one size fits all system?  Last spring I was handed a pamphlet introducing me to the Common Core and these are the thoughts that ran through my head.  We are all so different, how is locking the bar in the middle the same as raising the bar for all?  By placing an artificial ceiling we’re limiting those who can soar. 

I am a mother of 7 with high aspirations for all my children.  My oldest two were able to get ahead of the common core for which I am very grateful.   One got ahead by testing into advanced classes.  The other sacrificed her summer to take Pre-Algebra so that she could take Algebra in 7th grade.  Brad James of the Salt lake Tribune wrote “The majority of Utah 9th graders will now be taking Secondary Mathematics I, which combines elements of algebra and geometry.”  My daughter is in 8th grade and currently taking Geometry.  She’s ahead of the game, “Now what?”   

My 6th grader ranked in the top 5% of the nation in every single subject of the IOWA test and now he’s stuck at the artificial ceiling that is Honors Math 6.  Now I know you’ve been told we’re going to dig deeper into the concepts because children are learning the concepts too quickly.  I say to you there are some who are capable of digging deep and quick at the same time and some who are not capable of either.  What about them?

Instead of rewarding success and working to correct failure Common Core is forcing everyone to be the same and that sounds a lot like Socialism to me.

In 1969 (Education for Freedom) Former Secretary of Agriculture and prominent Religious leader Ezra T. Benson wrote, "From the very beginning of recorded political thought, man has realized the importance of education as a tremendous potential for both good and evil.  In a free and open society such as ours, a well-rounded education is an essential for the preservation of freedom against the chicanery and demagoguery of aspiring tyrants who would have us ignorantly vote ourselves into bondage.  On the other hand, should the educational system ever fall into the hands of the in-power political faction or into the hands of an obscure but tightly-knit group of professional social reformers, it could be used, not to educate, but to indoctrinate."   

Now I would ask you, why would large money interest like Microsoft and international governing bodies like UNESCO and the UN work so hard to be involved in the local educational system of Utah and pay for access to our students?

Thank you, I stand against the common core