Two Moms Against Common Core

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Glenn Beck on Common Core 3-27-2013

If you missed Glenn Beck's show on Common Core earlier today here are the highlights. I am so amazed at the concise description Glenn was able to give. Once again, I am thrilled to see this issue finally getting national attention. Thank you Glenn and Michelle!!

 Dr. Thompson didn't get to share much of his research. Take a minute to read his important findings about what the schools can collect on your children. Read now

What does common standards mean?

I've been collecting the definitions off of various government documents relating to the Common Core.

I thought I'd share them in light of the fact that elected officials are telling citizens that the 15% requirement is gone now that UT is out of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). Unfortunately, they are mistaken because the definition has been put in place across many documents. The most recent document is from the NCLB waiver.

Our State Office sites a letter from Arne Duncan stating that UT can set our own standards.  He's absolutely right we can but this letter was received before UT applied for the NCLB waiver.  Further, what constitutes Utah's standards?  Is it the 15% that we add in addition to the copyrighted standards?  If you look at the State Office of Education's standards page and scroll down to page three of the ELA standards you'll see these are not Utah's standards.

Don't believe me?  Take a look for yourself:

These are screenshots from "Utah's core" standards a.k.a. Common Core State Standards

1.  Here is where I went to search for the English Language Art Standards:

When I clicked on the link this is what I saw.  At first glance these really do look like UT owns them.

This is page two.  Same story...

From page three:
Notice who owns them.  And we had to get permission to modify them.
I emailed the associate superintendent to ask who we had to get permission from and what exactly we modified.  Once again, my email went unanswered.

I've asked our Governor, State Superintendent and various other officials at the state level if they can write another letter to Secretary Arne Duncan asking if UT can be exempt from the NCLB waiver definition page. My request has gone unanswered...

Here are the definitions (if you don't want to read them all... please scroll down to the bottom and look at the NCLB waiver definitions - UT is bound to this document):

Race to the Top Fund Assessment Program

Definitions page 30
Achievement standard means the level of student achievement on summative assessments that indicates that (a) for the final high school summative assessments in mathematics or English language arts, a student is college- and career-ready (as defined in this notice); or (b) for summative assessments in mathematics or English language arts at a grade level other than the final high school summative assessments, a student is on track to being college- and career-ready (as defined in this notice).   An achievement standard must be determined using empirical evidence over time.

College- and career-ready (or readiness) means, with respect to a student, that the student is prepared for success, without remediation, in credit- bearing entry-level courses in an IHE (as defined in section 101(a) of the HEA), as demonstrated by an assessment score that meets or exceeds the achievement standard (as defined in this notice) for the final high school summative assessment in mathematics or English language arts.

Common set of college- and career- ready standards means a set of academic content standards for grades K–12 that (a) define what a student must know and be able to do at each grade level; (b) if mastered, would ensure that the student is college- and career-ready (as defined in this notice) by the time of high school graduation; and (c) are substantially identical across all States in a consortium. A State may supplement the common set of college- and career-ready standards with additional content standards, provided that the additional standards do not comprise more than 15 percent of the State’s total standards for that content area. 

On track to being college- and career- ready 13 means, with respect to a student, that the student is performing at or above grade level such that the student will be college- and career-ready (as defined in this notice) by the time of high school graduation, as demonstrated by an assessment score that meets or exceeds the achievement standard (as defined in this notice) for the student’s grade level on a summative assessment in mathematics or English language arts.

Performance level descriptor means a statement or description of a set of knowledge and skills exemplifying a level of performance associated with a standard.

Student achievement data means data regarding an individual student’s mastery of tested content standards. Student achievement data from summative assessment components must be reported in a way that can be reliably aggregated across multiple students at the subgroup, 14 classroom, school, LEA, and State levels.

Student growth data means data regarding the change in student achievement data (as defined in this notice) between two or more points in time. Student growth data from summative assessment components must be reported in a way that can be reliably aggregated across multiple students at the subgroup, classroom, school, LEA, and State levels and over a full academic year or course.

Race to the Top

Common set of K-12 standards means a set of content standards that define what students must know and be able to do and that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium. A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State's total standards for that content area.

Student achievement means
(a) For tested grades and subjects:
(1) a student’s score on the State’s assessments under the ESEA; and, as appropriate,
(2) other measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph
(b) of this definition, provided they are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.
(b) For non-tested grades and subjects: alternative measures of student learning and performance such as student scores on pre-tests and end-of-course tests; student performance on English language proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and comparable across classrooms. 

Student growth means the change in student achievement (as defined in this notice) for an individual student between two or more points in time. A State may also include other measures that are rigorous and comparable across classrooms.

Race to the Top Phase 2

Common set of K–12 standards means a set of content standards that define what students must know and be able to do and that are substantially identical

Highly effective teacher means a teacher whose students achieve high rates (e.g., one and one-half grade levels in an academic year) of student growth (as defined in this notice). Sates, LEAs, or schools must include multiple measures, provided that teacher effectiveness is evaluated, in significant part, by student growth (as defined in this notice). Supplemental measures may include, for example, multiple observation-based assessments of teacher performance or evidence of leadership roles (which may include mentoring or leading professional learning communities) that increase the effectiveness of other teachers in the school or LEA.

America COMPETES Act elements means (as specified in section 6401(e)(2)(D) of that Act): (1) A unique statewide student identifier that does not permit a student to be individually identified by users of the system; (2) student-level enrollment, demographic, and program participation information; (3) student-level information about the points at which students exit, transfer in, transfer out, drop out, or complete P–16 education programs; (4) the capacity to communicate with higher education data systems; (5) a State data audit system assessing data quality, validity, and reliability; (6) yearly test records of individual students with respect to assessments under section 1111(b) of the ESEA (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)); (7) information on students not tested by grade and subject; (8) a teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students; (9) student- level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned; (10) student-level college readiness test scores; (11) information regarding the extent to which students transition successfully from secondary school to postsecondary education, including whether students enroll in remedial coursework; and (12) other information determined necessary to address alignment and adequate preparation for success in postsecondary education

NCLB Waiver - in Document entitled ESEA-flexibility – updated June 7, 2012

1. College- and Career-Ready Standards: “College- and career-ready standards” are content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college and career readiness by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level

6. Standards that are Common to a Significant Number of States: “Standards that are common to a significant number of States” means standards that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium that includes a significant number of States. A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for a content area.

State Network of Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs): A “State network of institutions of higher education” means a system of four-year public IHEs that, collectively, enroll at least 50 percent of the students in the State who attend the State’s four-year public IHEs.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Can I Do?

Renee', Christel, and I have been getting questions daily from people asking what they can do. We decided the easiest way to help others would be to create a video answering this question. I'm watching this back and realize that we left a lot of points out. We'll do a follow-up soon. I will post our blogs on this video when I have time to edit but for now tune in and I hope we're at least a little informative.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letter to a State School Board member...

Thanks Dixie ~

I'll take a look at them.  I'm certain that the great things being done can be done without having the common core standards.  Great teachers will always find creative ways to teach and help students excel.

I've never thought that the standards were all bad, because I believe good exists in everything, but as I began researching the privatization and federal over reach far exceed any benefit they have.  They could be perfect standards, which they are far from, and I still could not support them due to the loss of freedom and control.

As I've urged others to do, you must study the entire education reform landscape to see what we see.  I've never said this is entirely about the standards.  You must thoroughly examine the RTTT application (I know we didn't win but we still are moving forward with the changes we agreed to make), the NCLB waiver and all the controls in there, the SLDS, the SIG, the Master Teacher program, the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the CTE transformation, the call for a German Model of education, and many more.  Once you thoroughly study this out you'll be able to see how they all fit together to transform education in America.  While the current education system needs a lot of help, everyone needs to look at this overall picture and decide if that is the America they'd like to see.  Is this how you want your children taught?  There is no empirical evidence proving their success.  I do not want my children experimented on.  You must agree there are problems or you would never have decided to home-school your grandchildren.

I believe we need to be educating our children with a classical education where they are learning to become great thinkers.  I believe by learning how to work hard they will be able to succeed in life.  I do not believe education should be used by businesses to create "good workers" to fill jobs and I believe in Capitalism!  Businesses working with certain branches of government, circumventing the representative form of government gives the people no voice is NOT capitalism.  The push towards preparing for careers is turning us into the second model of creating workers and not thinkers.

We may never agree and that is fine but I will continue to teach others about the research I've found so that they too can decide for themselves.  I'm certain you can value the importance of looking at both sides of an issue and then studying it out in your mind to come up with your own conclusion.

I recognize that there are many people writing positive articles on Edweek but you must acknowledge that Edweek also produces a lot of articles stating the contrary.  There is a very real debate currently going on across the country which should have happened before we adopted them and agreed to these reforms.  It is a travesty to the American people and our representative form of Government.

I've been told that school board members are telling citizens not to listen to us moms because we have an agenda and are a special interest group.  Please enlighten me if you know what they think our agenda is.  
My agenda is only to give my children the best education possible, guard against crony capitalism being promoted by Pearson, Microsoft and others in our state,  and stop federal over reach into our schools so that we can maintain local control. 

And because one of my local board members sent a letter out stating that citizens in our community should not read any of "those mom's blogs" and only go to the State Office for official information, I feel an obligation to share my research with as many people as I can to shed light on the other side of the debate so that citizens can make an informed decision.  

Please let your colleagues know that name calling has never been an appropriate means of discussing an issues.  

Thank you for your time, 
Alisa Ellis

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Common Core: A Mental Health Professional & Parent's Perspective

Thank you Dr. Thompson ~

Dear Mrs. Swasey & Mr. Beck:

I am writing this note on behalf of your joint request to address issues surrounding the Common Core State Standards Act (CCSS) that is currently in the process of being implemented in the vast majority of our public school systems in the country.

By way of background, I’m an African American Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) currently serving as Director of Clinical Training & Community Advocacy at a private child psychology clinic in South Jordan, Utah.  I completed undergraduate education at both the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  In addition to my personal experiences involving my four children in public schools, I have completed multiple thousands of hours in training/therapy/assessment/legal advocacy work with children in both the private and public school settings in multiple western states.   I am also the author of a award winning doctoral project/dissertation which tackled the ago old problem of why many African American school aged children underperform in public schools titled, “Cracking the Da Vince Code of Cognitive Assessment of African American School Aged Children:  A Guide for Parents, Clinicians & Educators” (Thompson, G. 2008).

As a “local clinical community scientist”, I have an ethical obligation to our community at large to provide unbiased opinions regarding issues that affect the education experiences of school-aged children and their respective guardians.  The “Common Core States Standards Act” (CCSS) falls uniquely into this category.    I have devoted many hours reading commentaries and studies, both pro and con, regarding the overall efficacy of CCSS.

In a nutshell, the (mostly) progressive public education community speaks highly of CCSS and its stated goal of raising educational standards across the board in a effort to improve the educational process for all students in the country, particularly under performing African American and Latino students nationwide.  

The (mostly) conservative opponents of CCSS claim that involvement in public school education should be primarily a local/statewide process, and that Federal intrusion into public school education is not effective for multiple alleged reasons.  In addition, there are disputes involving the CCSS curriculum itself whereas proponents cite multiple sources of research that allegedly support the efficacy of the education content.

Opponents also cite similar competing references that support their contention that CCSS curriculum stifles’ teachers’ creativity and that the content, especially in math, is not effective for early learners, gifted students, and children with diagnosed learning disabilities. The amount of information available to voters and parents by “experts”, both for and against CCSS, is overwhelming in its length, complexity and emotional intensity.   Like the Affordable Care Act, the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in the vast majority of public schools nationwide, has caused a seemingly unbridgeable divide in many quarters of this country.

I am not an expert in the development and implementation of core educational curriculum in public schools, so I will not comment on the issue.  I am not an expert on the effects of federal government involvement, verses local involvement, in public school education, so I will not comment on the issue.  I am not a forensic accountant with expertise in the areas of national and local financial accounting tax monies submitted towards public education, so I will not comment on that issue.  I am also not a politician, nor do I represent any special interest groups that could even be remotely tied to the multiple and complex issues surrounding CCSS.  I find the political process in this day and age to be ineffective and personally unfulfilling, and will not comment on the efficacy of education platforms set forth by the three main political parties.   I am, however, an expert in psychological and educational assessment/testing, as well as privacy acts surrounding the use of these tests in both private and educational settings.   My remaining comments will focus on these two issues as they are addressed by the CCSS.

Educational Testing

According to the U.S. Department of Education, CCSS will authorize the use of testing instruments that will measure the “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitude’s and intra personal resources” of public school students under CCSS (USDOE Feb, 2013 Report).  In a nutshell, CCSS simply states that it will develop highly effective assessments that measures….well….almost ”everything.”  

Our clinic performs these comprehensive IEE’s (Individual Education Evaluations) on a daily basis. These test measure “attributes”, “dispositions”, “social skills”, “attitudes” and “intra personal resources” as stated by the USDOE.    In addition, we utilized state of the neuro-cognitive tests that measure the informational process functioning of children in school (Cognitive Assessment System, Naglieri 2002).   

A careful, or even a casual review of a “comprehensive evaluation” would clearly show that the level of information provided about a particular child is both highly sensitive and extremely personal in nature. They are also extremely accurate.  In a private clinic such as ours, we follow strict privacy guidelines regarding patient privacy (HIPPA) and when dealing with educational institutions, we also make sure that we comply with the FERPA Act (Federal Education Reporting & Privacy Act). 

Bluntly put, if a client’s records somehow get into the hands of anyone besides the parents without written consent from the parents, or a court order, our clinic would be shut down in a heartbeat and the clinician who released unauthorized comprehensive assessments would lose their license.   Clinical Psychologists in graduate level classrooms and clinical training sites spend years getting these basic privacy rights pounded into our heads.  Failure to articulate and implement strict privacy guidelines issued by the Federal Government, State licensing boards, or the American Psychological Association (APA) would result in immediate dismissal from graduate school academic institutions, as well as any clinical psychology training sites in either Internship or Residency settings.   

The accuracy of psychological testing has grown in the past 10 years to astonishing levels.  The same tests used in our clinic for assessments, are used in part by federal law enforcement agencies, the military, local police departments, and the Central Intelligence Agency. (Interesting enough, these agencies are also interested in finding out about alleged terrorist’s, serial killers, or airline pilots “attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes and intra personal resources”).  When placed in the “right” hands of trained mental health professionals, psychological testing can save lives.   Placed in the “wrong” hands, psychological testing can ruin lives as well as cause psychological trauma to people if they have knowledge that their results were used for nefarious purposes. 

Below are issues regarding CCSS “testing” policies that have not been addressed by the Common Core to State’s Governors’, State Superintendents, State School Boards, local school district superintendents, local school boards, to parents of children in public school education:

  1. Common Core does not address what types of tests will be utilized on our children.
  2. Common Core does not address, specifically, exactly who is developing these tests.
  3. Common Core does not address the fact that these tests have not yet been developed, and are not available for public consumption or private review by clinical psychology  researchers and psychometric professionals.
  4. Common Core does not address if the soon to be completed tests will be subjected to the same rigorous peer review process that ALL testing instruments are subjected to prior to being released to mental health professionals for their use in the private sector.
  5. Common Core does not state which public school employees would be administering or interpreting these tests.   There is a reason that School Psychologists cannot “practice” outside of their scope in school districts.   As hard working and as wonderful as this group is, their training pales in comparison to the average local clinical psychologist.
  6. Common Core does not address the well documented, peer-reviewed fact that both African American and Latino students, due to cultural issues, tend to have skewed testing results when cultural issues are not addressed prior to the initiation of such testing.  This should probably be addressed if these results are going to be following a student “from cradle to high school graduation.” 
  7. Lastly, once these highly intimate, powerful, and most likely inaccurate testing results are completed, who EXACTLY will have access to all of this data?   Common Core DOES address this issue and it is the subject of the next section.

I mentioned above that our private clinic is subjected to multiple federal, state, and professional association regulations when it comes to protecting and releasing mental health records.   The rationale behind these regulations is obvious in nature both to the professionals, as well as their clients.   Records do not leave our clinic unless the guardians of the children instruct us, or unless a District Court judge orders the release of the records.   In some cases, we are even ethically obligated to fight court orders that request private mental health records.   

Common Core State Standards radically changes this game.  

Prior to CCSS, public school districts were required to adhere to the same rules and regulations regarding private records as our clinic is subjected to.   HIPPA tells us how to store records, were to store records, and whom to release them too.  FERPA (Federal Education Records Protection Act) is subjected to HIPPA requirements when it comes to protecting sensitive education records.   As show herein, educational testing records are highly sensitive and it only makes common sense that this practice of protecting these sensitive records continues.   

Buried in all of the fine print of the CCSS is a provision that allows participating school districts to ignore HIPPA protections.   The newly revised FERPA laws grants school districts and states HIPPA privacywaivers.  

Department of Health & Human Services Regulation Section 160.103 states, in part,:
Protected health information EXCLUDES individually identifiable health information in education records covered by the Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA), as amended 20 U.S.C. 1232 g”.

CCSS also states that this “information” may be distributed to “organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to develop, validate, or administer predictive testing.” (CCSS (6)(i).  

In summary CCSS allows the following by law:

  1. Grants school districts a waiver from FERPA in terms of deleting identifying information on their records.
  2. Allows school districts to then give these identifiable records basically to anyone who they deem to have an viable interest with these records.
  3. These organization or individuals chosen by the government to use this data to develop highly accurate predictive tests with no stated ethical procedures, guidelines, or institutional controls.   (What are they exactly trying to “predict”?”
  4. All without written parental consent.   

The “Comprehensive Statewide Longitudinal Data System,” employed by CCSS that will hold this sensitive data, per DOE webpage, states, “all States implement state longitudinal data systems that involve elements specified in the “America Competes Act”.   I spent two hours pouring over this Act to see if there were any further guidelines to Federal of State officials as such may pertain to privacy issues.   None could be found.    

Proponents of the CCSS point to volumes of articles and promises and policies that state that our children’s data will be private and protected by the national and state data systems that will shortly be implemented per CCSS guidelines.   I have very little doubt that the computer systems employed by Federal, State and local districts that contain this data will be state of the art computer systems.  Others whom are experts in this field may differ strongly).  The point however is this: CCSS does not specify who can have access to their records, or for what specific purposes this sensitive data will be utilized.   When it comes to addressing privacy issues, the CCSS contains abundant, generalized “legal speak”.

In terms of privacy issues, below are issues regarding CCSS “privacy” policies that have not been addressed by the Common Core to State’s Governors, State Superintendents, State School Boards, local school district superintendents, local school boards, to the parents of children in public school education:

  1. Exactly WHO will have access to records obtained by this national/state database?  The generic political answer of “Appropriately designated education officials or private research entities” does not “cut the mustard.”
  2. For what EXACT purpose will this sensitive data be utilized?  
  3. What organizations will have access to identifiable academic records?  Other than generic information regarding race, age, gender and geographic location, why does the Federal database require identifiable information to be accessible? 
  4.  If the political responses to these questions are “all information contained in the database is unidentifiable and securely stored,” then why were changes made to FERPA to allow an exemption to educational privacy rights when it comes to the implementation of Common Core State Standards?
  5. What type of “predictive tests” are currently being designed and who will have access to results of whatever is being measured?


Like the infamous “No Child Left Behind” laws that on some levels (with the sole exceptions of the 2004 IDEA Act included in NCLB), have set back progress of public school education years, I honestly believe that a few lawmakers with good hearts and intentions honestly wanted to find solutions to our public school systems.  I believe also that the Obama Administration wants every child to have a proper and rigorous education and that the implementation of Common Core will bring them closer to that goal.

I am also, however, a local clinical community scientist. In this role I have several serious questions concerning CCSS noted herein which have yet to be answered to my satisfaction as a scientist, education advocate, and parent. I would implore every Governor, State Superintendent, and State School Board member in the country to honestly and openly explore the issues cited above and provide accurate answers to these issues to the public in “plain speak”.

Given the gravity of these issues, I cannot professionally endorse the Common Core State Standards as currently written until pointed clarification is provided by politicians and educators from both party’s endorsing CCSS.  Nor in good conscience can I enroll my toddler in a public school system that utilizes CCSS until these issues are clarified to my satisfaction. 

The issues involving psychological testing and privacy are issues that should be of concern to every parent with a child enrolled in public school.    The power granted federal and state education administrators via the regulations of CCSS are unprecedented in nature.   Some parents will be quite comfortable with CCSS even in light of the issues detailed in this letter.   Some parents would be aghast with the same provisions.   Regardless, parents deserve to be clearly informed about these and other issues surrounding CCSS in a clear and straightforward manner so that they can make educated choices regarding their children’s educations.

On a final note, I wish to publically show my support to the underpaid and overworked public school teachers nationwide.  If I had the power, I would elevate their status to that of a medical doctor in terms of pay and prestige. What they do with the limited resources available, and with the burden of bureaucracy following their every professional move is simply nothing short of amazing.  Our clinic employees several public school teachers (One is a former Utah Teacher of the Year), and school psychologist due to their amazing talents and abilities of reaching the hearts and minds of our young and diverse educational psychology clients.  

There are answers to most of the perplexing questions facing public school officials.  I believe these answers can be readily found in multiple peer-reviewed journals in neuropsychology, clinical psychology, education and public policy.  Answers can also be found by mining the experiences, wants and needs of our hardworking public school teachers on the local and statewide ground level, as well as local parenting organization of various stripes.  Once science and cultural based solution are found and implemented, I believe even cynical conservative lawmakers nationwide would be more willing to pony up additional tax payer money when presented with imaginative, science based educational models in pubic school systems.   On the other hand, simply adding billions of dollars towards a 150-year old foundational system of education in crisis without implementing massive changes is irresponsible, unimaginative, and most likely politically  and monetarily motivated. 

When politics and money are taken out of the public school education policy arena and replaced with common sense and culturally sensitive science, mixed in with local value systems, I believe we, as a nation will make great strides in the goal of educating our children.   

Until that time comes, it is my wish that regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and political affiliations, our country will join together at the grass roots to amicably reach “common core” grounds of restoring our once proud public education system.  

Best regards,

Dr. Gary Thompson
Director of Clinical Training & Community Advocacy Services
Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.

Doctor Thompson can be reached for comment at

Data Collection with Jenni White

Saturday, March 16, 2013

So Grateful...

It's the middle of the night and of course I can't sleep.  Never-mind, that our County Convention is in the morning and I'm supposed to get up and speak for a resolution effectively rejecting the Common Core State Standards.  I should be sleeping...  but I can't.

I am just thinking about how grateful I am that more and more people are taking notice of the concerns that so many have been trying to expose for such a long time.  Thank you Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin for thrusting this issue into the National scene.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  My husband and children thank you too.

I'd never heard of Common Core until the spring of 2011 when I was in one of my children's parent/teacher conferences and was handed a pamphlet alerting me to the fact that our school would be adopting the new standards along with 44 other states.  What?  Where was I when this happened?  How did I miss the vote?  or discussion?  You see, I have 7 children and at that time had 5 in the public school system.  I volunteered regularly in the classroom and happily went about serving in my church and in the children's classroom.  Surely, I would have heard something.  It's not like I was an un-involved parent.

I asked a few questions and didn't really get any answers that satisfied me because it was apparent the teacher didn't really know anything either.  I left and looked over the pamphlet.  (Oh ~ how I wish I'd kept that pamphlet.  Little did I know my life would shortly be changed forever)  [Writing that sentence brings tears to my eyes because of the truthfulness of it - I can never go back to the naive and uninformed citizen I was at that time in my life.]

When I read the pamphlet, I thought, this is complete socialism.  How can you take an entire nation, considering all the many demographics, and put them all on the same page without hurting the top and bottoms students?  Anyway, I spent the next 6 months asking all of my friends and teachers about the Common Core.  I searched the internet and could only find glowing praises of the standards.  How could I be the only one that felt this way?

One fateful day I ran into an old neighbor at the store, who I knew was political, and asked if she knew anything about these standards.  She did AND she had some of the same concerns.  FINALLY!  I was getting somewhere.  She told me she was trying to get someone to come to our town and speak about the Common Core and she would let me know when that was.

I went home and tried to find some of the information we'd talked about and ran into walls again.  I still didn't see anyone else talking about the Common Core on the internet except for singing it's praises.  I continued to talk and talk and talk.  Nothing from anyone except from a dear friend down the street and former teacher.  She listened to my concerns and wanted to find out more too.

About 4 months later I got a call from the neighbor I'd run into at the store.  They were having a meeting!  After the meeting I felt like shouting from the rooftops.  EVERYONE needed to know this information.  I went home and didn't really know what to do.  A few weeks later I went to another meeting and finally direction came.

I had been able to process more information and finally had a starting point.  It had been almost a year since I started worrying about this and trying to figure out where to find more information.

I didn't mean to get up in the middle of the night and type up a long drawn out story.  I will skip ahead and get to the heart of the matter.   -- WARNING -- I'm gonna get religious on you.

I went home and started getting direction from above like I've NEVER gotten in my life.

First, I started reading articles but wasn't satisfied with taking the author's opinion.  I looked at their sources and have since spent more time on official Governmental sites than I care to admit.

I continually felt guided with thoughts and promptings.

I was awoken in the middle of the night on many, many occasions with promptings of places to go research, finding documents that were new and helped shed light on how my state got into this mess.

I was awoken one night with the thought to go and check my son's ACT plan tests.  I stayed in bed and started researching on my phone but couldn't find anything so I finally got up and went to the computer.  I then found all this information showing me that ACT was aligned to the Common Core.  The web just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Three nights in a row, I woke up with the phrase "Connect the dots" running through my head.  Shortly after that, I woke up one Sunday morning at 5 AM (I'm sooo not a morning person) with that phrase again and everything I'd been researching started pouring into my mind.  I had a legal pad next to the bed and I wrote down pages and pages of information.  It was information I had researched but hadn't been able to fit together.

The promptings continued:

Crazy things, like the thought, "you need to pull up the Smarter Balanced contract and go talk to the Governor"  WHAT?  ME?  Uh -- no!  Who goes up and talks to the Governor and demands a meeting?  Certainly not me, miss-stay-clear-of-any-and-all-contention-girl.  But next thing I know, I find myself pulling up the contract and walking up to the Governor at a Meet the candidate event and asking him about this contract with his signature.  "I didn't sign anything", he said.  "Really?"  because here it is.  Next thing I know I'm sitting in the Governor's office with a binder full of information to hand over to him.

Or the thought, "you need to get on the agenda at the State School Board meeting".  Um - no I am not a speaker and have no desire to go give a speech to the State Board of Education.  Where do I find myself?  That's right, giving a speech to the school board and then getting pulled into a room with the head of our gifted and talented program and STEM program telling me how wrong I was and how great the Common core is.  Then the next week being told by my Superintendent that I'm the mom the "state is watching".  Seriously?

You moms should hold a press conference.  You should survey all the candidates to find their position.  You should fly in experts and hold a rally.  You should hold a lunch for all the legislators to teach them and on and on.  I was introduced to many others around the state that were trying to fight this.  It was a collaborative effort.

I've had many other experiences that are too sacred to me to share in this forum, but my point to you is I cannot deny the Spiritual experiences I've had and the direct guidance I've felt.  I just can't.  There are simply too many of them and I would be denying God's hand in my journey if I did.

I'm extremely thankful to my Father in Heaven for these very strong feelings and guidance because I couldn't do this without Divine help.  The Savior has given me the strength to carry on.  Remember, I'm miss-stay-clear-of-any-and-all-contention-girl.  This journey has not been easy, I can't lie.  The toll it has taken my house (don't even get me started - just imagine laundry piles for 9 people - oh and dishes!), the alienation from friends and neighbors, the marginalization from school officials, being labeled as "sadly mis-informed" and "living in fear" and the time away from my family has been a very real challenge but we have been buoyed up and strengthened and for that I am eternally grateful.

Pray for those trying to fight this, pray for the children, pray for this Country!  Pray and then stand up and fight for your freedoms.  There is no other way to get our Country back on track.