Common Core: Our Destruction or Our Opportunity? From a Latter-day Saint Perspective, Part 2b: About Common Core by Joyce Kinmont

June 29, 2013

It’s been a month since I sent out Part 2a. At the time I thought I could easily finish the rest before my husband and I left for Texas for to spend a couple of weeks with our family. As I was packing for the trip, I logged on to watch the Glenn Beck tv program that had been aired that day. What a surprise to find my Eagle Forum friends Gayle Ruzicka and Dalane England and Utah Senator Margaret Dayton on the show. (I later learned that Utah Representative Brian Greene was also there. I don’t know him so I didn’t realize he was there too.) They had all been at a seminar with people from other states to determine how best to get their states out of Common Core. I watched the program twice, got a couple hours of sleep, and then we left to catch our early morning flight.

Here are links to the program:
Utah Eagle Forum Vice President, Dalane England , in green.
Utah Eagle Forum President, Gayle Ruzicka , in purple. Regrettably, we don’t hear what she is saying due to a voiceover.
Utah Senator Margaret Dayton, a wise and courageous legislator. She is identified as she makes her comments.
Utah Representative Brian Greene – I don’t know him but I love him for being an active part of that meeting. Now he has 74 House members to convince.
If you have a legislator, even from another state, who would like to talk to Rep. Greene or Sen. Dayton, their emails are bgreene@le.utah.gov mailto:bgreene@le.utah.gov and mdayton@le.utah.gov

In Texas we spent two wonderful weeks with our daughter and her family. We got home late on a Thursday afternoon, and I went to the UHEA Convention on Friday and Saturday where I chatted with anyone who would listen about Common Core. Some had never heard of it; others thought they were safe as homeschoolers; some charter schools thought they could live with it; and so on. The next Wednesday I went to the state capitol. In all of these places, and in the emails that piled up while I was gone, I’ve learned much more about Common Core. It’s like a Texas tornado – the funnel cloud gets bigger and more frightening as it comes closer. (We didn’t experience a tornado ourselves, but our family drove us through the nearby neighborhoods where homes had recently been randomly damaged or destroyed. Texas wasn’t hit as extensively as Oklahoma was, but what we saw was sobering enough.)

As I read the new information, I began to feel a growing sense of a revolution taking place, mostly in cyberspace! Homeschoolers are right in the middle of it because we have a stake in protecting our right to make our own educational choices. Our emergency job is to chase the funnel clouds away, but our primary job is to build ourselves a stronger family school and help our neighbors do the same. I’m told that in Oklahoma many homes are built with steel walls in one room, anchored to the ground. Seems a good metaphor.

So let’s finish up quickly before the pile gets bigger (I wrote that two weeks ago, and the pile is still growing). Then I hope everyone will have signed up on the blogs of Oak Norton and Christel Swasey and whatever others might help you in your state. I also recommend, again, Glenn Beck and The Blaze tv, which is now available on some cable stations. You might want to visit Glenn’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GlennBeck page.

COMMON CORE
We have talked about the Common Core Standards and the Curriculum; now we need to look at the testing and the data mining.

Testing
The Common Core testing is computerized and adaptive, which means that each question asked is determined by the answer to the previous question. In the hands of those with a social justice agenda, this can be a dangerous indoctrination tool. Adaptive testing is also very expensive.

AIR (American Institutes for Research) is the company hired by the state of Utah to do our testing. They specialize in psychological testing, but in Utah we are assured they are only testing academics. I see no reason to believe that.

AIR will own the tests, and no one in Utah will be allowed access to the questions except for a panel of people who will be allowed to review them. That panel was a bone thrown out to appease the citizen opposition; there are only three parents on the committee. An adaptive test requires thousands of questions, so those three parents certainly won’t see all of them. They may just see sample questions rather than actual ones.

Although Utah has proudly paid $32 million to AIR for the English and Math tests, the tests have not yet been written. In one presentation we were told that they would be ready by early spring of 2014. Yet in state-wide presentations we were told that Utah’s tests will be so good that other states will line up to buy them from us. That made no sense to me. Are those other states just sitting around waiting?

The testing program also includes a complicated plan to equalize or adapt the questions to students in groups: high achievers, above average, below average, and under-achievers. The Assistant Superintendent of my district could not explain to me how the graded results of that system would look recorded on paper. Either he’s lying or, more likely, that part hasn’t been figured out yet either. In a public meeting it was explained that the higher achievers will get more difficult questions and the lower achievers will have less difficult ones on the same subjects. I fear these Progressives are so into redistribution and equalization that they are trying to equalize brains!

One blogger wrote his experience with an employment related adaptive test and said it was exhausting and emotionally draining. I also read about some children in New York for whom the Common Core testing was a horrendous, upsetting, tearful experience.

College entrance exams are being changed to align with the Common Core State(NATIONAL!) Standards. The Utah State Office of Education presenter John Jesse said in a public meeting that if Utah didn’t adopt Common Core “you could never move from Utah.” What I think he was referring to is that a) one of the talking points for Common Core is that school would be the same wherever a student moved, and b) the aligning of college entrance exams to the Common Core Standards and the Common Core Curriculum means your un-Common Core educated child will not pass the test and will not be able to get into college in any Common Cored state.

You might ask: Since Common Core is an indoctrination into Progressivism (or socialism, communism, social justice-ism, or whatever), why would any un-Cored student want to go to a college where the rest of the student body and the professors are Core-educated?

Of course the true expectation is that most students will not attend college at all; most will attend trade schools, and the choice will be made for them by their government early in life. In the letter we shared last time, Marc Tucker talked about essentially blackmailing businesses to voluntarily hire “apprentices” by threatening to pass a law requiring them to do so if they didn’t volunteer. Tucker also wrote that because parents want their children to go to “college” the word “college” must be used instead of anything that sounded vocational. He would add a few classroom courses to the vocational tracks. People aren’t really focusing on the Workforce component of Common Core. Read Tucker and warn your neighbors.

I think about how my homeschooled children were sought after as employees for their work ethic and their talents and abilities. Those qualities easily overrode their lack of a traditional education. Wouldn’t smart colleges and businessmen recruit unCored students? Or are we beyond that point now? The federal government has already proven its ability to take over businesses and control colleges. Homeschoolers could end up completely shut out of just about everything.

On the other hand, the Lord seems to be working on His own plan. Would he bother to have given us new direction in education and missionary work if we were going to lose it all to the “acted upon” program?

Data Collection
The fourth part of Common Core is “data mining,” the collection of hundreds of pieces of academic and personal information about students. This is the issue that seems to be most horrifying to parents.

In Park City UT, a ski resort town, high school students willingly wore sensory wrist bands which recorded stresses, posture, moods, etc. The students also willingly gave DNA samples without parental knowledge or permission. The samples were to be non-identified, but students were told if they would put their name on the envelope they would be entered in a drawing for an ipod. My own District Superintendent said in a public meeting that this project was done by the University of Utah and he would not have allowed it in our District. That was nice, and I relaxed just a little. I shouldn’t have.

At the recent meeting at my state capitol I sat in the audience as Judy Park, USOE (Utah State Office of Education) Associate Superintendent, made a presentation to a Senate committee. She and their six partners, one being Workforce Services, had just completed a five-year project which had been financed by a Federal grant. The legislators were told that the feds have no interest in the data. One asked where the data comes from, and Judy said much of it is fed to the state by Higher Education (such as the University of Utah — and BYU?).

The data shown at the meeting could be helpful. It included information such as student dropout rates in different areas of the state and entry level salaries in specific occupations for 1, 2, and 4 year degrees. But what data wasn’t shown? Do students and parents have access to this data? No. Will they? She didn’t say so. That makes believable the concern that data collections from numerous sources put in the hands of social planners will governor our children’s lives for the rest of their lives.

After the meeting I heard one of Ms. Park’s co-presenters talking with Senator Mark Madsen who was explaining to him that when the Feds pay for a program they can demand the information at any time. Apparently the man was sure that wouldn’t happen and felt the benefits outweighed any risk, because the Senator said, “That’s how we always lose liberty — for promised benefits.” I wished I had recorded that.

Ms. Park had conducted many of the public meetings that were held around the state, and she always assured the audience that no personal data would be shared. John Jesse, USOE Assessment Director, who works for her, presented at other meetings. At one I attended in Ogden UT a lady who must have been reading documents asked about the word “psychometrics.” Jesse said, Oh, don’t worry about that; it merely refers to number crunchers; there’s nothing psychological involved.” Then he took two or three other opportunities to throw out phrases like “We called in the number-crunchers.”

In a Judy Park presentation in Bountiful UT the psychometics question came up again and she gave the standard, misleading answer. Then a man in the back of the room stood up and said he works as a psychometrician and they do indeed work with psychological data.

Just to be sure, I did a search and quickly found that psychometricians are in the field of “psychology.” On The Wise Geek website I learned that “A psychometrician measures and analyzes personality characteristics, intelligence, aptitude and opinions. He also studies the viability of testing procedures, analyzes results, and develops new and improved testing techniques and approaches. Psychometricians are sometimes psychologists as well, but are also often employed in the fields of educational development or human resources.”

Psychological testing and influencing is the specialty of A.I.R. On their website under Education they say:

“AIR believes that reporting assessment data should go beyond simply stating how students performed on the test. Reports should help people change their behavior and inspire educators and parents to take action to improve curriculum, instruction, and student learning.”

I prefer the driver’s license approach: give me the book that tells me what I have to learn to be approved by the government for a specific purpose, such as road safety. Let me take care of my own learning difficulties. And how about a test on the Constitution and its major source book, the Bible, for voting privileges? And let me learn about my children’s needs through observation, study, and personal revelation. I don’t mind having teachers I can go to for wisdom, but it is not the government’s job to forcibly “help me change my behavior” or that of my children. Or to tell us what subjects we must study or who our teachers will be.

Data will also be collected by teacher observation. On a recent blog post, Christel Swasey spoke strongly about a disturbing Department of Education paper called Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance.” “Creepy” is how she described it. Glenn Beck had shown the publication on one of his tv shows in March, when it had just been released. I don’t think anyone really understood it. I suggest you at least read Chapter 3 about measurement tools (p31 of the paper, p48 in the viewer).

Why the prominence of those three words: Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance? Why not Accuracy, Integrity, and Faith? Is this someone’s career project? Or a new religion? Or is it all just an excuse to play a sick psychological game? Creepy it is,

Here’s a quote from Chapter 3:

“Sensors provide constant, parallel streams of data and are used with data mining techniques and self-report measures to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom, and fatigue. The MIT Media Lab Mood Meter (Hernandez, Hoque, & Picard, n.d.) is a device that can be used to detect emotion (smiles) among groups. The Mood Meter includes a camera and a laptop. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces (like distance between corner lips and eyes) to provide a smile intensity score. While this type of tool may not be necessary in a small class of students, it could be useful for examining emotional responses in informal learning environments for large groups, like museums.”

Oh, what fun they’ll be having in their classroom laboratories with our children as their guinea pigs.

Not all teachers want to play the data mining game. Many are already complaining about the amount of time they are required to spend recording information intended to “measure the growth and change in the behaviors and attitudes” of their students. They feel they are becoming “data drones.” How will they feel when they understand that the information is being shared for commercial purposes and for Orwellian experimentation?

Here is what Christel had to say about data mining on Glenn Beck’s program. Here is The Blaze with three segments on data mining. There are three videos on this page. The middle one plays last and is scary.

Now we are almost done, but, alas, I am going to stop again and call this Part 2b.

Just for fun, here’s a short video clip of Utah Senator Madsen. (This is not about Common Core; it is a response to a government nanny bill.)

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