Monday, March 19, 2018

Letter From a Maine Teacher

Below is an unedited article from a Maine teacher that was posted privately. It is posted here with permission.

March 19, 2018

I’ve been having lots of Jerry Maguire moments lately. If you have not seen the film, it is about having late night (any time of the day, really) epiphanies about your job or situation in life. My job is a combination classroom teacher, third and fourth grade to be exact. I’m pretty sure I was hired, in part, due to my many years of teaching experience as well as my specific experience in a combination classroom.

My first year went well in respects to loving the staff and especially the principal. What I found almost unbearable at times was the severe behavior I had to address on a daily level, especially after winter break where some students, who did not initially pose as a behavior problem, suddenly began to unravel. Of course, I internalized all of it and mostly blamed myself for lax classroom management. This past year, I have teamed up with another teacher who has excellent classroom management. It has made a world of difference, and I have enjoyed having the support and camaraderie, but I come to the same place in the year where some of my students are unravelling despite the well defined structure and expectations.

My district has put a lot of money and time into defining the state of affairs in public education and what we can do about it. Poverty and childhood trauma have been a focus of training and subsequent strategies this year. It is no secret that the number one correlation to success in school ties to socio-economic status in life. Yes, I am making a blanket statement, and there are many exceptions, but this is what we see daily in the public school system.

So we go about trying to make up for years of “schooling” that a student did not get at home from engaged and nurturing parents. We meet basic needs by feeding our students, providing their school supplies and even providing after school programs for those needing even more help. Teachers differentiate lessons to meet the needs of all learners with the goal of filling the gap for the lower achievers, but the extra time and effort may or may not show needed gains for those students. I myself find more gains when my whole class participates in the same lesson and I individually assist those needing scaffolding or accommodations.

The problems I see with public education are many, and many books have been written on the subject. I have read some of them including Charlotte Iserbyt’s “the deliberate dumbing down of america.” [sic] Her thousand page account details a century of legislation and practices in modern education. I have also spent the last few years reading current material from fellow educators and activists such as Emily Talmage, Nancy Bailey, Diane Ravitch, and Alison McDowell.

This past year, I have delved into the roots of proficiency based learning and the implication it has on my students. Much of my training in my district has been around how to teach with “targets” and why this is all beneficial for students. We unpack targets, we reference targets and of course, we assess targets. Many of these targets, especially in reading, address higher order thinking as do the standardized tests. Here’s one: “Understands when an author is trying to convince or persuade an audience.” This is a third grade target. If a student is struggling to read, they will certainly not be capable of ascertaining the intentions of the author. This is just one example of the inappropriateness of what we are expected to teach. Many teachers feel the “rigor” we are demanding of students is not developmentally appropriate, and some will question it, but then we get the rhetoric.

The rhetoric sounds fabulous! Who does not want a student thinking critically? Who does not want curriculum that challenges and sets high standards? Who does not want problem solvers and students who are self directed learners? I bought into all of it and was summarily frustrated when I was seeing the complete opposite in my classroom. I saw many students having the hardest time comparing and contrasting with the simplest of texts; I saw students who could not perform basic computation despite reviewing the skill every day; I saw disengaged learners doing the least amount possible. I taught with fidelity those curriculums ( Everyday Math) meant to promote critical thinking. For my top students, it worked fine, but they already had a firm foundation in math facts and number sense. For the rest of my students, it produced confusion and failing scores on assessments. The gap was so great for some that they were scoring at a first grade level on our STAR test, and I wondered how they could be advanced to the next grade and still not qualify for special education.

Things did not make much sense to me until I started reading about Classical Education. My niece was homeschooling using this model and her children were bright and engaged and knew a whole lot more content than my own students. What was the difference? The biggest thing I saw was that they were expected to memorize a vast amount of material. Surprisingly, young children are excellent at this and this trains the brain to hold more and more information in its working memory to facilitate reasoning. Our current public education demeans this practice and calls it archaic and uses derogatory terms such as kill and drill or an outdated industrial model. You see many videos of rows of classroom desks with students going through rote memorization without a thought in their head. You see speakers groaning how we are killing creativity.

What you certainly won’t see in these videos are children singing and smiling as they memorize facts such as the states and capitals or our presidents. You won’t see students able to compute large sums because they practiced this skill hundreds if not thousands of times with smaller numbers. You won’t see middle school students able to write clear and concise essays because they over-practiced English Grammar and sentence structure in elementary school. Many foundational skills are not glamorous, and studying them is hard work. Instead we focus on reaching that top tier of Bloom’s taxonomy without laying a solid foundation of grammar. By grammar, I meant the grammar of all subjects-the vocabulary and rules.

We have been lied to when we are told that children do not need to memorize facts since information is at our fingertips. They can just “look it up.” I can tell you what happens when a child does not memorize math facts. The next skill, whether it be long division, fractions or algebra, is extremely difficult. They expend so much energy on figuring out the facts first, they will often get lost in the algorithm.

The fundamental harm has come from expecting students to be at the dialectic (processing new concepts logically) or rhetoric (explaining concepts to others through writing or speech) stage and bypassing the knowledge (grammar) stage. Imagine expecting students who have just recently learned to read able to produce a five paragraph essay with thesis statement and supporting details. Many haven’t even mastered writing a complete sentence with proper punctuation, yet teachers have to focus our instruction on these lofty goals that few in our classroom will meet.

So, I come to the question I have been asking myself and others for years-just because some students are capable of a task, do we expect all students to rise to this challenge? By setting that bar high in the early grades, we have set up many for failure, and suddenly we find we have to lower the bar for our middle and high school students since they did not get a firm foundation in elementary school. We have not narrowed the gap in learning, but have instead, created a chasm separating haves from have-nots.

I know the furor in Maine has focused on diplomas, but there is so much more that is fundamentally flawed with how we are teaching children today. We need to really look at all of education and not just the end product. We need to ask hard questions and get beyond the rhetoric of what it means to be a 21st century learner. Wisdom is a product of knowledge and understanding. I want my students to get there as much as anyone, but not until they are ready.

Signed: (Anonymous) 

Friday, January 27, 2017

NextGen Standards Review Testimony

Statement in opposition to LD 49, “An Act To Improve Science and EngineeringEducation for Maine Students”  ─  January 25, 2017.

We are Martha and Richard Schwartz, co-authors of the Fordham reports on state science standards in 2005 and 2012 and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our biographical information from the final report on NGSS is at the end of this testimony.

As standards reviewers, we were required to read, understand, and evaluate academic science standards from all fifty states and the District of Columbia – many thousands of pages. The process involved applying criteria relating to science content strengths and weaknesses in rigor, completeness, accuracy, clarity, coherence, specificity and organization.  We found that standards quality varied greatly from state to state, from unusable to almost excellent. For the standards in place in 2012, the best came from California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Indiana, and Virginia.

In the course of reading so many pages, we also acquired an intuitive feeling for which documents were usable, both at the classroom level and for designing and analyzing high-stakes assessments. Here, some of the formal criteria came into play, such as clarity and organization, but also the size of content and skills “bites” required to meet each standard, and a clear sense of what is accomplished when the standard can be said to have been met.

In reading so many standards documents and seeing their wide variability in quality, we obviously saw the potential value of one nationwide (not “national”!) set of high-quality standards and assessments.  Advantages ranging from equity to economy of scale might be realized so we were happy to also review both drafts, and the final publication of the Next Generation Science Standards. They were advertised as high quality, and were shiny and supposedly new and also supposedly able to prepare students for college readiness.   

But it was like a shiny new heavily-advertised model car, and we were the steeped-in-detail mechanics charged to look under the hood. The actual standards disappointed. It was as if under the hood of that shiny car body we found five cylinders missing, a confusing set of assembly directions for all the hoses and wires, spark plugs where the water pump should be, and no bottom to the fuel tank. The car is pretty, but parts are missing or out of order and there is some rust under the paint. It’s hard work to make it run let alone meet expectations. We wound up rating the NGSS, with the same criteria we used for the states, with a score of 5 out of ten (C grade), along with several states we had charitably rated as mediocre.  I urge you to take the time to look under the hood if you decide you want to move ahead with mandating or suggesting NGSS to your schools.

Some things to look for:

Clarity and specificity of requirements
Contrast, for example, an entry from The California Science Standards of the time, which describes some life science expectations for second-grade students with a sample page of NGSS secondary grade earth and life science:

Example from California:

Earth Sciences

3. Earth is composed of land, air, and water. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know characteristics of mountains, rivers, oceans, valleys, deserts, and local landforms.
b. Students know changes in weather occur from day to day and across seasons, affecting Earth and its inhabitants.
c. Students know how to identify resources from Earth that are used in everyday life and understand that many resources can be conserved.

Investigation and Experimentation

4. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:

a. Observe common objects by using the five senses.
b. Describe the properties of common objects.
c. Describe the relative position of objects by using one reference (e.g., above or below).
d. Compare and sort common objects by one physical attribute (e.g., color, shape, texture, size, weight).
e. Communicate observations orally and through drawings.

Then an equivalent sample from NGSS:

NGSS is difficult to navigate and understand.

Content completeness

NGSS content is often vague, is omitted, or explicitly excluded (especially egregious for high school chemistry)

Examples from NGSS
“The structure and interactions of matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces within and between atoms (HS-PS1-3), (secondary to HS-PS2-6)”

PS2.B: Types of Interactions
“Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties, and transformations of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects. (secondary to HS-PS1-1), (secondary to HS-PS1-3), (HS-PS2-6)”

These are vague and allow for any treatment of the suggested subject (chemical bonding) from cursory to complete (for the HS level). Contrast this with the explicit and inclusive treatment from 2012 California standards (asterisks indicate content for more advanced students):

Chemical Bonds

2. Biological, chemical, and physical properties of matter result from the ability of
atoms to form bonds from electrostatic forces between electrons and protons and between atoms and molecules. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a.       Students know atoms combine to form molecules by sharing electrons to form covalent or metallic bonds or by exchanging electrons to form ionic bonds.
b.       Students know chemical bonds between atoms in molecules such as H2, CH4, NH3,H CCH2, N2, Cl2, and many large biological molecules are covalent. 2
c.       Students know salt crystals, such as NaCl, are repeating patterns of positive and negative ions held together by electrostatic attraction.
d.       Students know the atoms and molecules in liquids move in a random pattern relative to one another because the intermolecular forces are too weak to hold the atoms or molecules in a solid form.
e.       Students know how to draw Lewis dot structures.
f.        *Students know how to predict the shape of simple molecules and their polarity from Lewis dot structures.
g.       *Students know how electronegativity and ionization energy relate to bond formation.
h.       *Students know how to identify solids and liquids held together by van der Waals forces or hydrogen bonding and relate these forces to volatility and boiling/melting point temperatures.

In addition, we note that NGSS adheres to current fads in science education and education in general. There is little hard evidence that “scientific thinking” is a content-independent skill which can be taught, nor is it clear that “authentic” activities are usually the best way for students to learn (or even deduce, as claimed) scientific content. This is in no way meant to discourage laboratory experiments, demonstrations, and explorations where appropriate, but these are time-consuming, expensive, and need to be carefully designed to be effective. The reasons many activities don’t work as advertised are too extensive for this testimony, but a good overview can be obtained from a single reference:

Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching.
Paul A. Kirschner , John Sweller & Richard E. Clark - Pages 75-86 | Published online: 08 Jun 2010

In some places the NGSS presents a strange juxtaposition of high content ambition against a lack of a build-up of the prerequisites ideas needed to understand that high content. A classic example occurs in Earth Science, where students are required to:

HS-ESS3-5.          Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
[Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence, for both data and climate model outputs, are for climate changes (such as precipitation and temperature) and their associated impacts (such as on sea level, glacial ice volumes, or atmosphere and ocean composition).] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one example of a climate change and its associated impacts.]

Leaving aside the matter of political controversy, this standard is too much, too sudden, too complicated, and too advanced, given the weak background provided by the standards up to this point. To be able to deal competently with this content at the high-school level, students must already have acquired at least an elementary feel for the chemical composition and physical structure of the atmosphere; its transparency (or not) to electromagnetic radiation at various wavelengths; blackbody radiation (dependence on temperature); mechanism of greenhouse effect in general; heat budgets which include sensible heat as well as heat stored as latent heats (evaporation and freezing); specific heats of various earth materials and their reflectivity; pH - especially of ocean water; the laws of ideal gases; unstable isotopes for dating and stable ones for signals from ice and sediments cores, and many other matters, including an introduction to the methods used in computer models. High school students could certainly deal with all those at an appropriate level and acquire an elementary but realistic sense of “climate science,” but this has to be developed coherently over time. Very little such development is visible in these standards.

Another glaring contradiction in NGSS is its treatment of the mathematics inherent in understanding and doing science. The document talks of math and alignment with math standards glowingly, but we were unable to find even common, simple formulas attached to science concepts.  

NGSS claims to make students college ready. But students who want to (or later decide to) focus on technical (STEM) careers need much more. We did not find sufficient content for strong high school level courses in the physical sciences; chemistry was particularly absent. It might suffice for a student entering a non-selective college in a non-technical major, but this is not sufficient. It fails by criteria for both equity and excellence.

There are two often competing ideas of what standards should be. Minimum requirements, aimed at all students, and Aspirational standards, which are high and may or may not always be reached. We strongly prefer the second, though there is room for the first to exist alongside them. But NGSS, as we can see from the climate change example, provides neither and the emphasis on time-consuming activities lowers the chance for even the minimum being met.

 Martha Schwartz (Earth and Space Science)
Martha Schwartz has taught science and mathematics from seventh grade through early graduate school. She is also experienced in teacher training and professional development. She holds a BS in mathematics from Arizona State University, a teaching credential from UCLA, a master’s degree in geology from California State University, Long Beach, and a PhD in geophysics from the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Assessment Review Panel in science for the state of California and has worked on school improvement, standards, and testing for a variety of organizations.

Richard Schwartz (Chemistry)
Richard Schwartz holds a BS in chemistry from Arizona State University, a teaching credential from UCLA, and a master’s degree in environmental science from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He taught secondary science for thirty-four years, the last thirty-two of which at Torrance High School in Torrance, California. He is a former member of the California Curriculum Commission and a 1995 recipient of the American Chemical Society’s regional award in chemistry teaching. He retired from teaching in 2003 and recently retired from his second career at the University of Southern California, where he helped manage the geochemistry laboratory.
Vote LD 49, ought not to pass.

Monday, January 16, 2017

In a Nutshell - Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 10:00 AM, Cross Building, Room 202 will be a hearing on LD 49, a proposal to saddle Maine students with more inferior standards. Let the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs know that these standards weren't acceptable last session and they aren't now.

What is the problem with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)? NGSS is not about science. It bypasses genuine principles of science replacing them with socio-political indoctrination – this will never promote a scientific thought process. The fundamental basis of these standards is contrary to actual scientific principles and practice. Science is filtered and limited and if taught correctly, science students become problem solvers and critical thinkers. They are taught that all facts must be considered. Therefore, limiting information is counter-intuitive to good science. NGSS is confusing and incompetent.

How does NGSS view Science? NGSS programs young minds toward a particular philosophical viewpoint, rather than experimental observation, with the aim of promoting social activism. Science taught only with philosophically biased information reflects only the author’s viewpoint and desire to dominate the topic and has no value in science education or as proof in empirical science.

The National Academy of Science clearly states what the method and purpose of Science Education should be, “…that the search for knowledge and understanding of the physical universe and of living things that inhabit it should be conducted under conditions of intellectual freedom, without religious, political, or ideological restrictions….that freedom of inquiry and dissemination of ideas require that those so engaged to be free to search where their inquiry leads….without political censorship and without fear of retribution in consequence of unpopularity of their conclusions. Those who challenge existing theories must be protected from retaliatory reactions. “ (National Academy of Science – Resolution 1976).

Science in the Classroom: “…Without freedom to inquire, the scientific enterprise would be ruled by intimidation rather than understanding through inquiry.  If we don’t help students develop sound investigative skills at a very early age, there is no reason to believe that students will be able to think critically and scientifically as they grow older.” (Science in the Elementary School by John Renner, Don Stafford & William Ragan, Harper & Row, 1976)

What do we get with NGSS? The following is an excerpt from the Fordham 2013 report, “Evaluation of NGSS”. Fordham has “long favored high-quality multi-state, even “national” academic standards,” so long as they originate with, and are voluntary for, states. p15. This however is what Fordham found with NGSS. They Identified five significant flaws (Jan. 2013):

  1. Much essential content was omitted. 
  2. The grade-to-grade progression that was a strength of the National Research Council Framework was not fully realized in the NGSS. The result was that some content that was never explicitly stated in earlier grades was nevertheless assumed in later grades.
  3. A number of key terms (e.g., “model” and “design”) were ill defined or inconsistently used and a number of actual errors were scattered throughout. 
  4. Recommended “practices” dominated the NGSS, relegating essential knowledge—which should be the ultimate goal of science education—to secondary status. 
  5. The articulation of “assessment boundaries” in connection with many standards threatened to place an unwarranted ceiling on important learning. How many teachers (due to time restraints) will actually teach students—even advanced students—content and skills that they know in advance “won’t be on the test”? 

Also from the Fordham report on NGSS - Physical Science, Chemistry, and Physics Overview: “NGSS physical science coverage is mediocre throughout grades K–5. Sadly, its quality declines rapidly and steadily in middle school, and still further at the high school level, where little positive can be said. Indeed, the physical science standards fail to lay the foundation for advanced study in high school and beyond, and there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course from the content included in the NGSS.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, (Science Standards, Chester E. Finn Jr. , Kathleen Porter-Magee/Apr 22, 2013) cautions states to consider other options and advises that:

  • Several states have done quite a good job of this on their own.
  • NGSS is therefore not the only possible alternative available to states seeking to replace weak standards with better ones.  
  • Nobody should be talked (or pressured) into hasty decisions that they might later regret regarding so critical an element of American education.”

If Maine would like to consider replacing the Maine Learning Results in Science, we should consider proven, tested, high achieving ones that are not privately owned and which therefore cannot be altered, for instance, the ones used by IN, SC, VA and CA. 

Quick Overview
  • These standards are weak, shallow and lacking in content, especially for grades 6-12 (Life Science, Physical Science, Earth/Space Science, Engineering design).
  • Assessments and explorations, although hands on (which is great), seriously lack practical and academic applications.
  • Valuable foundational academic content is lacking.
  • Use of scientific practices is wholly inadequate and misguided.
  • Use of math is extremely minimal and does not support the whole scope and breadth of Chemistry and Physics.
  • Where is the Chemistry?  Where is the Physics?
  • NGSS introduces socio-political infusion into the field of Science. With NGSS, theory is taught as fact. Examples include:
  • Earth System - Man is bad for the planet.
  • Man causes global warming. This is more about indoctrination, not science. The Science surrounding this theory is highly debatable and any theory of anthropogenic causation should be presented as such. 
  • NGSS focuses just on the sustainable energy sources of wind and solar power to the exclusion of other forms of energy. This is not balanced information. 
Political biases guide the NGSS principles, NOT science. We give this bill a recommendation of Ought Not To Pass!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NCCM Opposed: LD 956 An Act to Allow Community Schools

The bill, LD 956 "An Act to Allow Community Schools", is so utopian that it is surprising anyone could take it seriously; but certainly many will, because for them the ends will justify the means. This seems to be a desperate attempt to save public schools by making them not just part of the community, but the actual community itself; not just guardians of our children while they are at school, but surrogate parents by forcing the children to live at school. Essentially, our children will be held hostage.

This is a tightly woven master plan to turn the community school into the center of all cradle-to-grave needs. Look at the positions schools commonly now have on the payroll; Police officers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, ed-techs, data specialists and many others who arguably are not directly related teaching.

There is a huge moral issue here: Are we going to let our schools, staffed by an army of bureaucrats and social workers, take our children away by keeping them for nearly all their waking hours and acting as their primary caregivers?

Let's look at the practical issues first.

Section 9921

There is no funding mechanism here. So, where will we get the money to provide for all of these services A--X?

  • Has anyone even tried to guess at the cost of providing all of these services? 
  • $250K per year is allocated - seems very low. Is this just to cover salaries for the person appointed in each district to lead the effort? If the community feels this has value, they can contribute directly to fund this effort. Long term success would require 100% commitment – that is best exhibited by willingness to fund.
  • How long will it take to implement these? 
  • Are there any examples?  Are there any model programs that show demonstrable success? 
  • Where will all these providers come from?  Maine already has as shortage of medical and dental professionals; how will this bill provide for more? 
  • Who is responsible for the quality of the services? 
  • Who decides which children and families get which service? 
  • What about Mainers who don't have any children?  Do they get these services too? 
  • Who is responsible for malpractice and abuse claims?
  • Since a "community school" provides access to services A--X "24/7/252", how will schools be structured physically to do this?  Will we have to build new wings for doctors' and dentists' offices?  Will the school districts provide busing to existing facilities?   
  • Using school buses?  And how will districts address the additional staffing needed for doing all of this?
  • What exactly is meant by "Participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships" under the definition of "Community School"? 
  • What exactly do "participate", "coordinate", and "integrate" mean?

Since Maine law gives school board total autonomy from the public, i.e., the boards do not "represent" the members of the community, how can we ethically allow a school board to make such a decision that will literally change the entire structure of the community and binds all of our citizens to this scheme?

Why should we give school boards this power?  Since most boards are nothing but puppets of the superintendents, this will effectively make the superintendent ruler of the district!  Do superintendents have the experience and talent needed to become the next Solomon?

Section 9922

  • How is a school supposed to meet the goals under Subsection 1?  
  • What exactly do these terms mean?  
  • What is the clear definitions and descriptions of when these conditions are met?
  • Some of the initiatives like legal and mental health could raise issues of confidential information breaches that would be illegal. 

How can a board as currently structured perform any of the tasks in Subsection 2?  Will they hire outside consultants?

How much time will the board spend on meeting the conditions of Subsection 3?

  • Who will do the research?  
  • Who will be responsible for the actual work and its accuracy? 
  • Where will the money come from, when our schools are grossly underfunded now?
  • How can the local communities sustain the very likely huge increase in their property taxes?

This is nothing short of the sort of forced collectivization attempted by the Soviet Union in the '20s and '30s. Where is the constitutional authority to do any of this? How can teachers and administrators, who have no experience whatsoever in providing or integrating these services into schools, be asked to do these tasks? What happens to education under the conditions, do proponents of this even care about that?!

Consider the following scenario: You are a father (or mother) of a little daughter, how would you react?

"Daddy, the school is making me have a gynecological exam tomorrow." 
"What!? They didn't tell us!  You're too young!" 
"No, they said it's because of medical science that all girls have to have this because of the averages. And they'll give us the cytomegalovirus vaccine too, because they expect us to start having sex soon; because that's the average." 
"I'm complaining tomorrow and taking you out of school!"  
"No, Daddy, they told me to tell you that if you complain you'll be arrested for child endangerment."

If you have a son, then change the references to homosexuality sensitivity training, including videos.

Since we don't tax anywhere near enough to pay for what we have and need now, where will the money come from to provide all of this?

Let me introduce you to my new company, GCP: Great Communities Partnership.

GCP is funded by Wall Street and Silicon Valley billionaires. We hire the best retired school personnel, nurses, doctors, lawyers, etc.  Everyone needed to provide the services listed in LD 956.

We got so rich, because our lobbyists kept our tax rates near zero for decades, while the public services were starved for cash.

But now we're ready to provide our "business solution to your community needs (TM)".

Of course it will cost money. (Hey!  We're a business.) But don't worry. If you go into tax foreclosure, since you can't afford the property tax hike after we start working for you, then we'll buy your house (cheap) and rent back to you while you work for us (cheap).

But don't call it 21 Century sharecropping. You'll hurt our feeling and be liable for commercial defamation.

Contact the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and tell them to oppose LD 956, An Act to Allow Community Schools.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Press Release - Letter to Senator Alexander - ESEA

This press release was sent out last week. We thought it well worth publishing here because of the importance of the issues involved with the reauthorization of ESEA.

Anita Hoge
Pennsylvanians Restoring Education
Pennsylvanians Against Common Core

Anita B Hoge 724-263-0474
Cheryl Boise 412-389-6896
Ryan Bannister 717-919-2122
Gen Yvette Sutton 610-507-9113
Rich Felice 484-678-2236

February 9, 2015, Pennsylvanians Restoring Education, Pennsylvania Against Common Core, Citizens of Pennsylvania, parents and students are asking Senator Lamar Alexander to stop the REAUTHORIZATION of ESEA: Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 which will amend No Child Left Behind. This legislation violates federal law, the privacy of our children and families, our civil rights, and states' rights.

Senator Alexander,
  • Parents were not invited to testify.
  • Parents demand new hearings and an investigation on the impact of this legislation.
  • The public deserves to know that ESEA eliminates true choice [i.e., not taxpayer funded].
  • The reauthorization of ESEA must be stopped until further study.

The Reauthorization of ESEA must be stopped because the provisions inherent in this legislation will NATIONALIZE EDUCATION. 2 years of the ESEA Flexibility Waiver have proven to the states that have accepted this waiver, exactly what the Reauthorization will mean -- total federal control of education; no state authority, and no local school board autonomy.

No one at the ESEA public hearings addressed the IES, Institute for Educational Sciences of the National Center for Education Statistics, both of which have the contracts for each state to initiate a personally identifiable longitudinal data system. The grants in each state create a national ID for every child. This data collection will be used to monitor EVERY CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES under Title I. In Pennsylvania's NCES grant, this personally identifiable longitudinal system is called a "womb to workplace" data system monitoring all children, adolescents, and adults. The grant also includes wages, human capital, a person's worth or worthlessness to society. The grant also includes babies with data collection of behaviors and dispositions beginning at birth. References to the IES and the data collection is in the ESEA bill. (Source)

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

Why hasn't anyone testified to the fact that in effect the poverty guidelines, as now allowed, are being manipulated to include ALL children in the ESEA Flexibility Waiver, 2013, under the Title I blanket that mandates Common Core to EVERY CHILD. (Source) 

" (5.) The requirement in ESEA section 1114(a)(1) that a school have a poverty percentage of 40 percent or more in order to operate a school wide program. The SEA requests this waiver so that an LEA may implement interventions consistent with the turnaround principles or interventions that are based on the needs of the students in the school and designed to enhance the entire educational program in a school in any of its priority and focus schools that meet the definitions of “priority schools” and “focus schools,” respectively, set forth in the document titled ESEA Flexibility, as appropriate, even if those schools do not have a poverty percentage of 40 percent or more." (emphasis mine)

Title I now has the authority to move and switch funds from one account to another. Funds authorized for different fiscal areas, can now be transferred into Title I. Every child being designated as Title I will necessitate that these funds be funneled toward the states' budgets. And so Title I expands by quantum leaps, making states liable for increased Medicaid expenditures for every child to have mental health wrap-around services as explained below.

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

NAEP has made a claim that this data collection, which includes attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions, is to become the census. Why does your legislation say specifically that the IES, national center for education statistics will monitor all title I programs, that is every child in the United States? Every individual, including teachers, principals, and superintendents, will have a unique national id monitored under title I that was implemented under these NCES longitudinal grants to the states.

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

No one at the public hearings explained INTERVENTIONS FOR "AT RISK" CHILDREN and how that definition would apply under IDEA, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, to IDENTIFY ALL CHILDREN AS "AT RISK" UNDER TITLE I WITH A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER.

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

The social, emotional, and behavioral dispositions were added to the COMMON CORE, now called College and Career Ready Standards by the Chief State School Officers, CCSSO, under the cover of "CITIZENSHIP." What is the definition for NAEP CITIZENSHIP? Taken from Pennsylvania "Getting Inside the EQA Inventory," (Source: ED 103 488, Russell, Nolan; 1974)

A review of literature revealed that the National Assessment of Educational Progress developed nine general citizenship objectives. The criterion for inclusion of any one objective was its relative importance to society as agreed upon by a committee of scholars and lay people.

"These national objectives were used to provide a frame of reference for what was to be measured. Objectives in the factual domain such as (a) knowing structure of government and (b) understanding problems of international relations were not considered in developing the scale. "To assess citizenship, a behavior-referenced model incorporating elements related to the psychological notion of threshold is used. In reference to citizenship, threshold refers to that set of conditions necessary to bring about the desired responses. Thus by introducing conditions of reward and punishment we are able to determine the cutoff levels at which the student will display positive behavior. In this way it is possible to assess not only the students' predisposition to behave in a manner consistent with responsible citizenship but also to provide some measure of the intensity of that predisposition across a wide spectrum of situations." (emphasis mine)

These standards were scored toward "group goals," "group actions," and "group efforts as followers" (pp 19-21) (emphasis mine), even though that particular "positive" goal or action might very well be morally wrong.

The definition for adapting to change was explained as, "methods of coping with freedom."  (Source: Getting Inside the EQA Inventory, Cover; ED 103 488, Russell, Nolan; 1974) (emphasis mine) "The inventory provided information on… (3) Proportion of the student body who demonstrated "minimum positive attitudes." (Source: Getting Inside the EQA Inventory: Grade 11. Russell, Nolan; 1975, Document Resume; ED 109 199)

NAEP HAS CALLED FOR MEASURING THESE NON-COGNITIVE, 21ST CENTURY SKILLS. (Source: May, 2013) THIS IS COMMON CORE! (It doesn't matter which name is being used.) The individual mandate filters down to the individual child to force conformity to these standards. This is a power shift away from local control. These non-academic standards were added in the ESEA Waivers. Is the testing of attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions through the NAEP in the 12th grade, the pivotal criteria for graduation? Is this the government diploma for college and career readiness for students "without the need for remediation?" Has the government defined that no child will move forward without this re-education? How does the federal government SCORE ETHICAL JUDGEMENT? HONESTY? INTERPERSONAL SKILLS? American parents refuse to have their children used as guinea pigs with this type of research and maltreatment.

PENNSYLVANIA VIOLATED FEDERAL LAW, THE PROTECTION OF PUPIL RIGHTS AMENDMENT, PPRA, IN THE PAST STATE ASSESSMENT, EQA, Educational Quality Assessment, FOR MEASURING ATTITUDES, VALUES, BELIEFS, AND DISPOSITIONS. ON October 22, 2014, former Governor Corbett withdrew these non­academic controversial Interpersonal Skills Standards that had re-surfaced, because the Pennsylvania Department of Education was violating federal law that was enacted to protect our children. This is the expansion of mental health into the schools through ESEA. The ESEA Flexibility Waivers mandate that states implement these non-academic social and emotional standards. The interventions in the ESEA legislation mandate that mental health "disabilities" must be identified and remediated in every child to the NAEP group "minimum positive attitude."

We must point out that it is illegal to re-educate and assess students in these sensitive areas, and your legislation must provide informed written parental consent for EVERY child in the United States. Otherwise, every state department of education would be violating federal law, and in Pennsylvania, state policy. This non-academic mental health agenda is blatant in ESEA legislation and therefore, in fact, it may very well be considered child endangerment for parents to knowingly opt their children into this maltreatment and illegal activity. Does a helmet even yet exist that would protect our children from "mind concussion?" ESEA legislation violates federal law.

But yet, no one testified about the expansion of mental health standards and Medicaid to fund these interventions within our neighborhood schools. State budgets will be crushed under this debt when SCHOOLS are able to bill Medicaid for ALL THESE TITLE I "AT RISK CHILDREN." Remember now, that EVERY CHILD will be identified as "at risk." No one testified about the impact of mental health wrap- around services at school by billing Medicaid, although these services are mandated in the ESEA bill. Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

The entire affective domain, testing and remediating values and dispositions, will be codified under this ESEA federal legislation. This is a direct violation of the Protection of Pupils Rights Amendment, PPRA. The resolution of the Hoge complaint, 1990, filed against the Pennsylvania Department of Education, EQA, determined that testing and scoring the attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions of the children in Pennsylvania was in violation of the PPRA. The use of the test broke the law. It must be noted that this illegal activity was underhandedly DIRECTED BY THE NAEP. THE NAEP WANTS THE PSYCHOMETRIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC DATA ON OUR CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES. This NAEP CENSUS will include all data (psychological and demographic) on our children, and their families, their teachers, principals, and superintendents. This is a blatant violation of privacy and Civil Rights.

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

The parents in Pennsylvania can prove that these mental health interventions are being implemented through federal ESEA Title I and IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act guidelines. These behavioral interventions and the data system to identify and monitor our children were exposed in our Press Release to Governor Corbett last December. (Source) Parents will not let this child maltreatment stand. We demand that the tracking and trafficking of personally identifiable psychological data on our children's attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions STOP! The exact same wording for interventions and identifying children through anecdotal screenings throughout your bill, are the exact words in our Press Release.

These Title I funds "following" a CHOICE, TITLE I CHILD will impact the intrusion into private and religious schools, which will be forced into all of the mandates that come with Common Core implementation and EVERY CHILD identified and funded through Title I. This has been done behind closed doors and accomplished very deceptively in the way ESEA has been fast tracked. THIS ESEA REAUTHORIZATION will NATIONALIZE EDUCATION BYPASSING LOCAL CONTROL AND STATE CONTROL ELIMINATING LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT, THE HALLMARK OF A FREE SOCIETY.

Correspondence dated December 29, 2014 from former Governor Corbett's General Counsel, says, in effect: we (the Governor's office and the Pennsylvania Department of Education) are collecting the personally identifiable information on Pennsylvania children and sharing it with others, as permitted by the recent changes in FERPA, Family Education Rights in Privacy Act and IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as follows: "Please be assured that individual student data managed by PDE is in accordance with state and federal laws, including The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g, and it's implementing regulations found at 34 CFR 300.123 and 300.622, and Pennsylvania statutes, regulations, and policies governing the confidentiality of, and access to, students' educational records." (emphasis mine)

Now, Senator Alexander, YOU want to CODIFY this data collection and these psychological interventions into federal law, exactly as had been foreshadowed under the ESEA Flexibility Waiver and President Obama's Executive Order, EO 12866, that neutered FERPA, REMOVING ALL PROTECTIONS OF PRIVACY. Your bill advocates the collection of this personally identifiable information and allows the re-disclosure of this personal data to 3rd party contractors -- data which continues on to be tracked and trafficked into the National Center of Education Statistics, IES, data collection.

Senator Alexander, why has this not been discussed?

Has anyone explained this list of items below in the ESEA LEGISLATION or, perhaps someone can answer, why these interventions are there? Please refer to the hundreds of pages of "at risk interventions" which expand the definitions of a disability. Why does ESEA legislation mandate the re-education and remediation of our children's, including babies', attitudes, values, beliefs, and dispositions in line with the NAEP "trait identifications" as described in the Gordon Commission? (Source) SENATOR ALEXANDER, you are creating financial incentives for children, even babies, to be labeled with these definitions for a mental health disorder -- THROUGH THE FEEDBACK CONTROL LOOP  ACCORDING TO THE RESPONSIVE/NON-RESPONSIVE intervention methods and  manipulations. This data is entered on their permanent electronic education file that can take on a life of its own on the Internet. (Source) Note: HIPAA protections do not cover any educational records.

  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, PBIS
  • Functional Behavioral Assessments
  • Response to Interventions, RTI
  • Multi-Tiered System of Supports, MTSS
  • Specialized Student Support, SSS
  • Student Assistance Programs, SAP
  • Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, IDEA
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Services
  • Mental Health Wrap Around Services
  • 21st Century Community Hub Schools contracted with outside mental health providers
  • Promise Neighborhoods, Promise Schools, same as 21st Century Hubs
  • NCES Exposure of the National ID- Alignment of ALL 50 states
  • NAEP/NCES data collection creating the census- National ID identifying ALL CHILDREN as Title I
  • Exposure of FERPA, allowing data trafficking our personally identifiable information
  • Title I funds "following the child"
  • Choice funds (Title I) for all private and religious schools
  • Expansion of charter schools with no elected boards
  • Destruction of local neighborhood schools and Representative government usurping our vote, our voice through an un-elected board, and removing our taxes from the local level to a regional investment workforce board, or to the state.

Senator Alexander, the states' rights issue has not been discussed at the hearings. Title I funds "follow the child" going directly to every child, bypassing state government. No one at the public hearings explained that CHOICE, TITLE I FUNDS "FOLLOWING THE CHILD" would be used to destroy the financial base of public schools which have elected school boards and are funded by local tax dollars.Furthermore, Senator Alexander, there are 60 pages in your ESEA legislation that would expand CHARTER SCHOOLS OPERATING WITHOUT BOARDS ELECTED BY THE TAXPAYERS AS THEIR REPRESENTATIVES. THIS IS A SET UP FOR CHARTER SCHOOL TAKEOVER OF ALL EDUCATION. Yet, no one explained HOW.

Senator Alexander, there has been no discussion of these issues at your hearings.
The truth of this legislation must be revealed. Stop this Re-authorization of ESEA.