Common Core and FAPE: On a Slippery Slope

Common Core will damage this child

Common Core will damage this child

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and it means your child has the right to a public education that is free and that emphasizes special education and related services that are “designed to meet their unique needs” and to “prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.” 20 USC 1400(d).

This means that children with IEP’s need to receive “meaningful educational benefit.” Before I go any further, I want to help clarify what that means.

On June 28, 1982, in the .S Supreme Court decision, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District, Westchester County et al., versus Rowley by her parents Rowley et ux., the Court held that the requirement of FAPE is met when a child is provided with personalized instruction with sufficient support services to benefit educationally from that instruction.

DB v. Sutton, 07-cv-40191-FDS (D.Mass.2009)required that at a minimum the school district must provide students with “a meaningful, beneficial educational opportunity.”  Polk v. Central Susqehanna, 3rd Ci. 1988, further defined it by stating that educational opportunities must be “meaningful not merely trivial or ‘de mimimus’.”

In Cypress-Fairbanks Indep. School District v. Michael F., the Fifth Circuit Court quoted from Rowley and concluded that “the educational

Common Core will damage this child as well.

Common Core will damage this child as well.

benefit that an IEP is designed to achieve must be meaningful.” In order to determine whether an IEP meets this standard, the Cypress-
Fairbanks court identified four factors: (1) the program is individualized; (2) the program is administered in the least restrictive environment (in the regular classroom as much as possible); (3) the services are provided in a coordinated and collaborative manner; and (4) positive academic and nonacademic benefits are demonstrated.

Hearing officers and courts also consider whether or not the child is advancing from grade to grade and/or is making passing grades regardless of whether the child is at grade level. The Rowley decision itself it states “The grading and advancement system thus constitutes an important factor in determining educational benefit.  Children who graduate from our public school systems are considered by our society to have been ‘educated’ at least to the grade level they have completed, and access to an ‘education’ for handicapped children, is precisely what Congress sought to provide in the Act.”

Why did I just explain all of that to you?

Because Common Core violates IDEA and makes it impossible to provide FAPE for students with IEP’s.

By mandating that all students meet the same standards in their respective grade levels, regardless of ability, Common Core ignores the intricacies presented by disabilities, as well as mandated provisions such as Individualized Educational Plans that are”designed to meet their unique needs.”

Further, it makes it impossible to create meaningful and measurable goals based on Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP), which means starting with baseline information about a child’s knowledge and skills and then developing appropriate goals for progress. Many students with disabilities are not able to perform at grade level, but they are able to learn and to progress.

Example of an appropriate goal: Johnny has a learning disability that makes it difficult for him to process information that he reads. He is in the fifth grade and currently reads at a second grade level. He comprehends 5% of common sight words for third grade reading levels. After identifying what reasonable progress should look like (based on historical evidence), as well as supports and services, an appropriate goal might read “Johnny will increase comprehension of third grade sight words from 5% to 45% by December, and from December to May, Johnny will increase comprehension fro 45% to 90%.

Example of an inappropriate goal (based on the same information) Johnny’s reading skills will be proficient at his grade level by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

The second example is what Common Core dictates.

I reblogged a post a few days ago entitled “Special Needs Out of Luck with Common Core” in which Jill Stine, a Trainer at The Center for College and Career Readiness, openly admits that Common Core does not address special needs students or provide for appropriate accommodations.

This decimates the ability of a student with disabilities to benefit at all from his or her educational experience. In fact, meaningful educational benefit comes to a screeching halt. Common Core puts students with disabilities at the bottom of a very steep corporate-made hill made of steel and ice–harsh, cold, slippery, unnecessary, brutal and impassable–and then tells them to climb it, blind and with no climbing tools. Alone.

When did Arne Duncan and his corporate goons decide that this was ok?

All children CAN learn!

All children CAN learn!

When did it become alright to throw out federal protections that took years to obtain, and that have been strongly upheld by courts, including the Supreme Court?

And how do they sleep at night?

 

Common Core Rebrand?

mad mom 2Ok, I’ve been rather vocal about the underhanded double-talk and lies that Arne and the corporate goons (sounds like a new band–a band that sucks) are using to sell Common Core, but this one really takes the cake.

Talk now is of changing the name, or “rebranding” as Governor Rick Scott in Florida referred to it. Arizona did it–Common  Core’s new name tag is the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards.  Arkansas is talking about it as well. After all, Common Core has gotten a bad rap and there are “misconceptions” about it,  causing people to reject it when they should be embracing it.

Really?! THAT’S what state leadership is spending taxpayer dollars to accomplish? THAT’S the big concern? Creating MORE deception?

You rebrand a product. You don’t rebrand an educational “reform” effort that seriously damages children and education.

You don’t rebrand something that is being used to divide this country and tighten the federal noose around our necks.

You don’t rebrand something that causes so much stress children are physically ill because of it.

You don’t rebrand something that began in the shadows and is now a soup of lies being dumped on the children and educators of this nation while a few elite are counting their money all the way to the bank…and laughing.

You refuse it, you change it, you reject it, but you DON’T rebrand it.

Changing the name perpetuates the deception Common Core is infested with, and undermines the intelligence of the parents,

Know the facts about Common Core!

Know the facts about Common Core!

children and educators in America.  It’s shallow,evil and it ticks me off.

I really  hope you guys are paying attention, because Arne and the corporate goons think we all are stupid.

Are you willing to sit by and watch this happen?

I’m not. I hope you’ll join me in the battle, because it’s a fight well worth fighting.

Common Core Stress: Children are Physically Ill

Common Core Discouragement

Common Core Discouragement

When I read articles discussing the fact that educators are concerned about children “peeing and vomiting” due to stress in school, I get very upset.  I get upset because these are the kinds of symptoms that are red flags for bullying, or other notably unhealthy situations going on in a child’s life that caring adults need to intervene in immediately. I get really upset because the typical causes are not at play here: the problem is school itself.  No, it’s not the schools’ fault, for schools have been put in the same difficult position that parents and students are.  Children, however, are paying the biggest price.

I just read an article this evening, the most recent of a string, that has be highly concerned. Here is one comment from a principal in New York from that article: We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, ‘This is too hard,’ and ‘I can’t do this,’ throughout his test booklet.

Other parents are reporting refusals to go to school, acting out, as well as chronic stomach aches, headaches, and other stress-relates symptoms. I challenge any misguided soul to respond with “They just want attention,” because, yes, they do want attention, much like a drowning person wants attention.

This is not just a bad day at school. This is an ongoing exposure to high amounts of stress that causes permanent damage to children’s brains. The stress hormone cortisol kills brain cells and disrupts the development of young brains. The National

Common Core Stresses Kids

Common Core Stresses Kids

Scientific Council on the Developing Child notes: Frequent or sustained activation of brain systems that respond to stress can lead to heightened vulnerability to a range of behavioral and physiological disorders over a lifetime.

Common Core asks young children to do things their little brains are not capable of doing. Much of the “critical thinking” and “rigor” that Common Core brings to the table draws upon the prefrontal cortex, and this area of the brain is not well-developed in young children, yet they are being forced to try to use it in ways they simply are not able.  Young children are frustrated and, because they do not have the understanding of what is taking place in education, often blame themselves. They think they are simply “dumb,” that there is something wrong with them.  The problem is not the children.

The problem is the creators of the Common Core Standards, and the fact the federal government is forcing it on our schools.  The problem is the fact that nothing about Common Core is evidence-based, and they are NOT internationally benchmarked, as one of their many dishonest selling points claims. The problem is the fact that money takes precedence over the well-being of children. The problem is that the standardized testing dictates the curriculum. The problem is that elitists who care nothing for us or our children have an agenda that is being forced upon this country. And the problem is that our children are the most vulnerable.

Ponder this for a moment: if these same children were having these same symptoms because of stress at home, what do you think would happen? Parents would be slapped with a child abuse charge in a heart beat.  But it’s ok if something else is causing the stress?  I don’t think so.

Now think about this: What happens when there is excessive stress at school and at home?

Students need our help!

Students need our help!

It’s not just younger students either.  Students in middle school and high school are suffering from the effects of unhealthy and sustained stress as well. Cases of self-mutilation have increased, as have anxiety-related diagnosis and depression.  The reasons are evident when students make comments such as “I just can’t handle the pressure” or “It’s too much.” Students are suddenly being made to feel like they aren’t good enough, all because of a score on a test that is proven ineffective and unnecessary. How do you think that will impact the use of drugs for our youth? Many self-medicate as it is, Common Core isn’t going to help.

Stress to some degree is normal, and children have their own brand as part of growing up.  When you factor in disabilities, poverty, social issues, unhealthy homes, children with deployed or absent parents…you get the picture. Now give it a good coating of Common Core. What do you get? Devastation.

I refused (opted out) to have my daughter subjected to standardized testing any longer. In doing so, school became school again for her, and she is learning, in fact excelling in some areas, just fine. With no standardized tests looming on the horizon, and mom celebrating and supporting her daily steps in her own education, she knows that the only thing that matters is that she does her best, one day at a time. That’s more than good enough for me. Nothing else matters.

We can stop Common Core!

We can stop Common Core!

Common Core: Where’s the Common Sense?

Students in non-core home economics class. Stop Common Core!

Students in non-core home economics class. Stop Common Core!

The Common Core Standards preach this:

The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

I love the way this reads (except for the global part). I want this for my child.  Unfortunately, the geniuses who wrote this have no clue how to make it happen. We do.

I was just conversing with someone on Facebook who commented that she saw more value in a student learning to weld than all of the money wasted on standardized testing, setting up data systems and buying new curricula ever two to three years.  I realized that it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone talk about taking a home economics or shop class.

Remember those days?  Kids in my high school often took one of these classes as an elective because it would be easy, when, in fact, I think they gained more than in many other “core” subject classes.

Common Core wants children learning skills that are relevant and can be applied to real-world situations. They also profess to want children to be better prepared for college and/or careers.

Then why does school reform like Common Core keep crowding out opportunities for active learning?

Take home economics, for instance.  A home economics class will probably incorporate cooking, sewing, child care, basic home repairs and improvement, house keeping topics, budgeting and smart shopping, planning menus that have healthy food choices, and running a household (which is a whole set of skills on its own).  As I am thinking about this, I see every math skill my fourth-grader is expected to have mastered by the high school represented here, as well as researching, reading, writing, presenting, critical thinking, logic and creativity.  At a minimum. What’s more, learning these skills doing something creative and fun will stick with students much better than learning the same exact skills sitting in a regular classroom.

A shop class offers the same value. Think of it in today’s terms. Again, just like in home economics (that some boys are awesome in, by they way), I see math, researching, reading, writing, planning, critical thinking, presenting, logic and creativity.

Our students should be able to choose.

High school students in non-core shop class. Stop Common Core!

High school students in non-core shop class. Stop Common Core!

Technology is now an integral part of both arenas.  Think of drafting a set of plans to build an office desk or kitchen cabinets. It might be worthwhile to teach the traditional way as well as have them learn to do so with software as well.  They could start a blog with regular posts, photographs and all.  Another great skill set.

Do you remember the first cake you baked in home ec? It doesn’t matter if it turned well or not–you did it, and chances are, you were proud.  What about the gun rack (I grew up in the South) made in shop class? I know that rocked! The confidence a student gains during a learning experience like this overflows into other areas of life.

As much as one might argue that these are all skills that parents should teach their children, the reality is many don’t. I worked as a case manager for a while, helping people who had never learned things that we did and take for granted. Quite frankly, some parents don’t bother, some families are struggling to make ends meet and there is  no time, and some parents simply don’t know how.

I’ll tell you something else about this kind of active teaching.  Teachers connect with students differently than in a traditional classroom. That connection piece alone is a prominent factor in drop-out prevention.

Common Core pundits want students “college and career ready.”  So do we.  We just know how to do it right.

Stop Common Core.

 

 

Protect the Fight to Stop Common Core

1455108_4946256993576_575780415_nHave you heard about National Don’t Send Your Child to School Day?

I am a warrior mom fighting Common Core and willing to make a statement about the initiative.  I was on board with this effort for a while, but started having second thoughts for several reasons.

About a week ago I engaged in a discussion about possible repercussions to pulling kids out of school to make a political statement. I struggled with it for a while.  I agree that it will definitely make a statement, and statements are definitely needed; however, as someone who is starting to gain credibility in my own school district, and as someone who has seen firsthand some successes in fighting Common Core in Colorado, I am becoming increasingly conscientious of what I say and how I fight.

It is my sense that I will be viewed as irresponsible if I do pull my daughter out, and I agree with Shane Vander Hardt’s latest post in Truth in American Education “Fight Common Core and Send Your Kids to School.” Proponents of Common Core like Michael Petrilli are going to attempt to capitalize on painting those opposed to Common Core as impulsive extremists who have no sense.

Contrary to Petrilli’s statement that in his experience some of the most vocal Common Core opponents do not have their children in public schools, Common Core is being fought across the country by parents and educators, like you and me, who don’t have an extreme bone in their bodies.  Good sense, sound research and evidence, as well as disciplined responses has been a hallmark of the fight against Common Core, and we should strive to keep it that way.

There are many actions that we can take to fight the standards, and opting out of the standardized assessments is a more effective and protected choice. State-specific information and resources are available at United Opt Out National’s website. In addition, Congressmen are beginning to respond, and the foundation of support is growing.

We all have a responsibility to not damage the fight.

 

Are We Really A Free Country?

Freedom-of-Speech-united-states-of-america-21760995-960-720I was doing some research yesterday and ran across some articles discussing the Obama Administration’s definition of terrorism.  One such article was from The Blaze, and I know that Glenn Beck is meticulous about his research, so I pursued the resources he shared, and sure enough, I found the report published by the Department of Homeland Security.  I pulled the following from it:

Detailed information on each category of ideological motivation can be found in the Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism-United States report compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Miller, Smarick, and Simone, 2011). Briefly, the report describes each category as follows: 

Extreme Right-Wing: groups that believe that one’s personal and/or national “way of life” is under
attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent (for some the threat is from a specific
ethnic, racial, or religious group), and believe in the need to be prepared for an attack either by
participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism. Groups may also be fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation), anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty, and believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty. The first sentence includes everybody preparing for emergencies, including preppers, the Boy Scouts, and anyone else who follows the news.  The second sentence includes just about everyone else.  So why have all of the other criteria. Why not make it a one-page memo and move on?  Just for kicks, though, lets look at the rest of the list.

Extreme Left-Wing: groups that want to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes. This category also includes secular left-wing groups that rely heavily on terrorism to overthrow the capitalist system and either establish “a dictatorship of the proletariat” (Marxist-Leninists) or, much more rarely, a decentralized, non-hierarchical political system (anarchists). Hmmmmmm…the Obama Administration is openly funding the Muslim Brotherhood and is arming radical Syrian rebel forces known to be primarily Al Qaeda, although Obama and John Kerry have tried to market the situation differently. In addition, Obama clearly is instituting a socialist/Marxist agenda.

Religious: groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers, impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists), (this takes care of all Christians) forcibly insert religion into the political sphere (e.g., those who seek to politicize religion, such as Christian Reconstructionists and Islamists), and/or bring about Armageddon (apocalyptic millenarian cults; 2010: 17). For example, Jewish Direct Action, Mormon extremist, Jamaat-al-Fuqra, and Covenant, Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) are included in this category. While this document contains the word “Islamists,” please be aware that Obama has since purged hundreds of documents of anything to do with Islam, Jihad, and Muslims. Apparently they are no longer to be considered any kind of a threat. According to FBI spokesman Christopher Allen, “The FBI purged documents according to four criteria: “factual errors”; “poor taste”; employment of “stereotypes” about Arabs or Muslims; or presenting information that “lacked precision.” I would like to see that criteria applied to the rest of the groups that Obama has targeted.

Ethno-Nationalist/Separatist: regionally concentrated groups with a history of organized political autonomy with their own state, traditional ruler, or regional government, who are committed to gaining or regaining political independence through any means and who have supported political movements for autonomy at some time since 1945. Each state in the union meets this criteria, doesn’t it? The Obama Administration has made a clear movement toward weakening state sovereignty, the Common Core Standards Initiative being a glaring example of this effort.

Single Issue: groups or individuals that obsessively focus on very specific or narrowly-defined causes (e.g., anti-abortion, anti-Catholic, anti-nuclear, anti-Castro). This category includes groups from all sides of the political spectrum. If the previous criteria did not catch just about every American in its net, this one certainly does.  I don’t know of any person anywhere that doesn’t have at least one single issue that they feel very strongly about, and are ready to argue it or support it at a moment’s notice.  From rights for students with disabilities and stopping Common Core, to pro-abortion, pro-life, gun rights, gun removal, gay rights activities, anti-gay…who isn’t on this list by this criteria alone? Isn’t the fact that we are FREE to disagree and have our beliefs one of the beautiful principles on which this country was founded? 

When I sit back and digest this information, along with the wealth of reports regarding anti-Christian training in the military, homeschoolers now considered domestic terrorists, Obama’s open disparaging of the Constitution, and parents’ rights under government attack, I see a very clear and discouraging picture of where we are as a nation. This is a non-partisan issue.  It’s an American issue.

I used to be concerned and speak out about our freedoms slowly eroding away right before our eyes and our being oblivious to it.  Now, I am saddened because erosion was apparently too slow–the government now just uses a bulldozer right out in the open.

Have we not enjoyed these freedoms, holding them as fundamental to our nation’s survival? Have not thousands of military members and police men and women sacrificed heavily to protect these freedoms?  Are we truly ready to just give them up.

I have no doubt that I am on a list of some sort, because I am not willing to go quietly. Are you willing to join me?

Are you with me?

Are you with me?

Key words on Domestic Terrorist List

Police Training: Informed Americans Are Terrorists

Standing Near a Terrorist Makes You a Terrorist

 

Common Core: “Sexuality” Education

sex-edBefore you say the National Sexuality Education Standards are not part of Common Core, let me direct you to page 6 of the publication:

“The National Sexuality Education Standards were further informed by the work of the CDC’s Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool(HECAT)3; existing state and international education standards that include sexual health content; the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade; and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, recently adopted by most states.”

The Department of Health and Human Services, of which the CDC is a part, has long since partnered with the Department of Education in standardizing just about everything they possibly can.  Education opened the back door on this one and let these standards slide right in.

Remember the days when it was “sex ed,” all about the reproductive system, girls’ menstruation, and the sexes were separated for this information?  Those days are long gone.

Note the change in the name, from Sex Education to Sexuality Education. That was not an accident.

The Department of Education gave a major contributor of Common Core, Planned Parenthood, a loud voice in writing the standards, and it shows.  For instance:

Page 12 says:
“By the end of 2nd grade, students should be able to: Use proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy.” 

Page 14 says:
“By the end of 5th grade, students should be able to: Describe male and female reproductive systems including body parts and their functions. Identify medically-accurate information about female and male reproductive anatomy.  Define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or a different gender.”

Page 9 has “Guiding Values and Principles,” and this is what you will read there:

“Instruction by qualified sexuality education teachers is essential for student achievement.”
Excuse me? Standard biological information about the reproductive system is fine, teaching values is not.

“Students need opportunities to engage in COOPERATIVE and ACTIVE learning strategies (I really wanted you to catch those two words), and sufficient time must be allocated for students to PRACTICE skills relating to sexuality education.”
Practice? What the h%&$ does that look like?  My daughter better not be practicing anything until she’s married. Just sayin’…

While these are not all of the curriculum highlights that are offensive to many, I have to end with this doozy:

“Students need multiple opportunities and a variety of assessment strategies to determine their achievement of the sexuality education standards and performance.”

I try not to curse, but WTF?!  What does “a variety of assessment strategies” to “determine their achievement of the sexuality education standards and performance” look like, exactly?

Let’s talk about the material that will be used to present the “sexuality education” to our children.

“It’s Perfectly Normal” is a book written by Robie Harris (a board member of Planned Parenthood), illustrated by Michael Emberly, endorsed by Planned Parenthood, and showing up in lower elementary classrooms across the country.

Let’s talk about what is in it.

“It’s Perfectly Normal” addresses sex, sexuality, masturbation, contraception, homosexuality, oral sex, and abortion. It is so graphic that a prison in Washington rejected it, saying that it was too pornographic in nature.  But it’s ok for our school-aged children, apparently.

The book contains graphic illustrations of adult male and female bodies, and encourages children to explore their sexuality.  It teaches them to masturbate, and describes sexual intercourse that “can involved the penis and vagina, or the mouth and the genitals, or the penis and the anus.”  Let me stop right here and say that this is not a commentary on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality.  It is a commentary on what is appropriate for the schools to approach and what needs to be strictly left to the parents.

The book does not even mention chastity or abstinence.  Further, it attacks some religious beliefs by saying “And some religions call masturbation a sin. But  masturbating cannot hurt you.”  Many believe that sexual activity should not take place outside of marriage, and this concept is never raised.

I am not making an effort to tell you what you should believe and how you should act.  I am sharing my very strong belief, shared by millions of other parents across the nation, that these issues are private family matters and should not be in the schools at all.  It is our choice to make decisions about our personal family values and to teach our children when and how WE decide, not the government.

For more information about this issue:

About “It’s Perfectly Normal”

Kindergartners and Sexuality Education

Planned Parenthood’s Site for Teens

It's Perfectly Normal

It’s Perfectly Normal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

American Life League Flyer

Common Core and the Future of This Country: It Is All Connected

cc problsI am writing a book about Common Core from a parent’s perspective.  As I delve into the heart of the federal government’s plans for education, the extensive history behind this movement, as well as the implications, are profound and startling.

Nothing taking place in this country is occurring in a vacuum. It is all connected.

Common Core is not about education. It is about control.  It’s roots go all the way back to the late 1800’s in this country, and even further in world history.  The quest for a few to control the many and corner the market on money and power is phenomenal.  This has been the driving force of history since the beginning of time, and is not only about education.  This movement encompasses religion, globalism, government itself, the economy, finances, education, parenthood, health, freedom, and our very existence.

My journey has led me deeper into the Bible and my relationship with Jesus.  God foretold the things to come, events that are occurring right now, with such clarity I don’t know how I missed it at first. I encourage you to read this article to learn more about this aspect of current events.  I see it now and am grateful, but am saddened that so many more don’t.

Arne Duncan, the current Secretary of Education, once stated during a speech to the United Nations, “Today, education is a global public good unconstrained by national boundaries…education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.  The United States provides over a billion dollars annually to partner countries working on educational reform.”  Changing the world starts at home, and education is the weapon being used against America’s citizens–weapons attacking children–to mold attitudes and values to fit this goal of a global community.

Obamacare mimics Common Core’s prescriptiveness and data collection methods, all designed for the “common good” and to “provide better services.”  Forced services, decided by government agencies, not families and individuals.  Our finances have been tied to both, used as a tool to coerce adhesion.  Education is further tied to “career readiness,” and “human capital tracking.”  That’s right, our students are “human capital” being groomed to meet the workforce expectations laid out by large corporations and our government.

A good example, and one I recommend you read, is the  “Framework for a Multistate Human Capital Development Data System,” that outlines the population tracking of people in America. Here are a few quotes from the document:

The rise of a globalized knowledge economy requires us to understand the distribution of skills and abilities in our population.

This “human capital development data system” must be developed to answer “master” policy questions that benefit each of the principal state stakeholders – theK-12 education system, the postsecondary systemand labor/workforce development system – both for accountability purposes and to inform improvements in policy and practice.

A more effective data system for accountability and policy and practice improvements could provide answers to such questions. Integrated to enable large-scale longitudinal analyses to support state educational and workforce development policy,student or individual unit-record datalinked together across K-12 educationpostsecondary education, and the workforcecomprise what we call a human capital development data system (HCDDS). An HCDDS should be able capable of:
• Tracking the stock and flow of the skills and abilities (represented by education and training) of various populations within a given state.
• Examining the gaps in educational attainment between population groups, based on demography and socio-economic status.
• Incorporating information from multiple states, given the mobility of the U.S. population and the fact that many population centers are located on state boundaries.

Given the sensitivity of SSNs and the fact that even they cannot match all individual student records “perfectly,” it is probably wise for states to adopt a broader approach to “identity matching,” (which includes birthmarks, eye color, hair color, and eventually eye scans).  Such an approach would link records using a larger group of variables corresponding to student characteristics, including but not limited to the SSN (when available) or statewide student identifier.

Use of Social Security Numbers would pin all tracking data to an individual instead of aggregating it and protecting children’s privacy.

While there is still much work to be done in linking K-12 and post-secondary records, states also should be planning now for how to incorporate workforce data into their longitudinal data systems. Indeed, the federal government has made this a basic expectation for states receiving ARRA funds.

I would also like to add, as food for further thought, this quote from the Ten Planks of the Communist Manifesto:

Number Ten states: “Government control of education; free education for all children in public schools; Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form and a Combination of education with industrial production”.

I encourage you to do your own research to truly understand where we are in this country.

For more information:

Mandating Global Citizenship

Truth In American Education

Legal Aspects of Common Core

 

Common Core: Educational Freedoms and Freedom of Religion

bill of rights religionThe federal government’s implementation of Common Core wages war on a number of freedoms, including educational freedoms and freedom of religion.  Educational freedom is a broad topic, and in this article I will talk about a parent’s choice to home school or send their children to a private school.  You will see why I brought freedom of religion into the conversation in just a moment.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression to all Americans.  Freedom of expression means the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition the government for a “redress of grievances,” and the implied rights of association and belief. Freedom of religion guarantees to all Americans the right to practice any religion they choose, as they choose, or to practice no religion at all. Practicing any religion includes making educational decisions based on religious beliefs.  Congress is forbidden to establish any religion as our nation’s official religion, and cannot favor any one religion over others, nor can it tax American citizens in order to support any one religion.

In addition, parental rights are implied in the Constitution and have long been upheld by the Supreme Court. In the 1925 decision of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Court struck down a compulsory attendance act that required all parents to send their students to public schools, instead of private or religious schools. The court concluded that the act was unconstitutional because it “unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.” The choice to home school very clearly falls under this protection.

I want to return to the phrase “and the implied rights of association and belief” for a moment. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion both would not be possible with freedom of thought, logically encompassing accessing reliable information, interpreting and understanding it, thinking, forming opinions and acting upon it as one chooses, all fundamental to implied rights of association and belief.  Freedom of religion and education are often intricately interwoven, and neatly compartmentalizing each one is impossible.  Freedom of expression permeates every aspect of our society, including everything from religion and education, to how we dress and what we watch on television. And “the implied rights of association and belief” are the very fabric that make these freedoms real.

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And that scares governments. Many countries go to great lengths to stifle freedom of expression, which drastically limits or completely inhibits freedoms in other areas, such as religion and education. Germany, for instance, never abolished the law enacted by Adolph Hitler that outlawed homeschooling, and the repercussions were seen just recently in the news with Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children. We also see the horror stories that materialize on the internet every day, stemming from efforts to control educational freedoms and freedom of religion from places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, China, Egypt and Syria.

Yet, our government is attempting to limit these same freedoms here in America.

Fundamental rights are critical to our freedom as Americans, and because of this, the government must meet a substantial burden of proof in order to restrict those rights. They must prove that there is a government interest in restricting the right, and that the government has a specific interest in restricting the right of the particular parents whose actions are being challenged. In 2006, the Supreme Court used this very language when talking about violations of religious liberty. According to the Court, the government must “demonstrate that the compelling interest test is satisfied through application of the challenged law ‘to the person’–the particular claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being substantially burdened.”Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418, 430-431 (2006).

In addition, in 2005 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that a parent’s fundamental right to direct their child’s education ends at the threshold of the school door (Fields v. Palmdale, 427 F3d 1197, 2005), and the Court clearly determined that parents have the right to make reasonable decisions for their child, even in the public schools. It does not include any right to make decisions for others’ children or the school as a whole. The Court set a low standard that parents need to reach to make decisions for their own student, doing so to, again, protect parental rights. The government, however, would have to show that a parent’s request was unreasonable, putting the burden on the government, not on the parents.

Something else I found of interest is the fact that the United States has become part of many United Nations (U.N.) declarations and agreements, and one such declaration, in which the U.S. was instrumental in actually writing, is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.  It specifically provides that the liberty of parents or guardians to choose for their children schools other than those established by the public authorities which conform to minimum educational standards shall be respected.  In addition, Article 13 recognizes parents and guardians have a right to ensure the religious and moral education of their children according to their own convictions. Our constitution provides American citizens with these same rights. However, Common Core contradicts not only our own Constitution, but also the human rights laid out in this declaration. I do not see “except in the United States” noted anywhere in the U.N. document, and the Constitution does not say “except when the federal government changes its mind.”

Many people exercise their freedom to direct their children’s education by homeschooling them.  Many do so for purely educational reasons, and just as many, if not more, do so for religious reasons.  It is our right.  I, myself, have been considering homeschooling my own daughter based on these two freedoms, and Common Core has compelled me to add several more amendments to the list of reasons. That, however, is a conversation for another time.

The federal government has taken giant steps to weaken these freedoms, with complete disregard for the U.S. Constitution, its beliefs proudly displayed for the U.N. and other countries, and human dignity.  It argues that compulsion laws negate the right to home school, and has worked for years to erase God from public view, yet it so eloquently holds these freedoms up for other countries as basic human rights.  How long will we tolerate this double-standard?

For further reading:

German Homeschooling Family

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Current Proposed Parental Rights Amendment

Does Freedom of Religion Have Anything to Do with Common Core?

An Introduction to the Common Core Standards

 

 

In case some of you are not aware, the new Common Core Standards for our nation’s schools has been a hot topic recently. Many, including most parents, are not clear what they are or why they were developed, or what the long-term implications of adopting these standards are for our children.  One reason is, with everything parents have on their plates, it is difficult to spend the time necessary to fully research Common Core and understand what is involved and what it means.  Another reason is that it was open for minimal public comments or debate, and it’s not appeared on any ballot.  Medica coverage was limited until only recently.

This is an issue of extreme importance for families, children, education and the future of our country; therefore, I have committed to researching and bringing information back here in a format that will be easier to understand, one-stop-shopping so to speak, and to providing more information if you would like to dig even deeper.  In the coming  months, I will post the most recent developments, here under Common Core Updates.

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What is Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) mission statement reads “The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”  Common Core Standards shift decision-making from local control to the federal level, and provides international benchmarking, as well as specific reading lists, curriculum material, data collection, health instruction, social and emotional development instruction, and standard testing. The Common Core Standards further create a singular method for providing instruction.

The CCSSI website states that These standards were developed by classroom teachers, school administrators and experts, in order to provide a consistent framework of instruction across the United States so that our children will be prepared for college and the workforce.”  In reality, the developers of the Common Core Standards include the United Nations (U.N.), President Obama, various government agencies including the Department of Health, the Labor Department and various corporations like Bill Gates and Microsoft. The primary author is David Coleman, director of the College Board and Treasurer for Students First, who views poor students as “low hanging fruit.” In future posts, I will present more of the history of Common Core.

Data Collection for School Improvement

The Common Core Standards provide for teachers to visit the students home to gather information about the family, home life, activities, and beliefs of all family members, more than 400 data points in all, that will accumulate each year, starting in preschool and following each student well into adulthood.   All data is loaded into a national data base for tracking and further evaluation. The data will reportedly be used for school improvement purposes and for matching individuals with career choices later in life.  “He is partnering with the Obama Administration’s campaign data team members to use the same techniques on data collection and use of data. This “treasure trove” of student data will be fully utilized under their leadership to drive everything in education from defining effective teachers to determining which students need further interventions inside and outside of the school building.” Decide the need for interventions outside the school building?  In addition, monitors will be used in classrooms to monitor children’s facial expressions and responses to instruction, as well as to monitor classroom activities.  A posture-sensitive chair will monitor posture and reveal a child’s temperament via body language, and bracelets will monitor heart rate and, supposedly, engagement.  This is too fantastic to make up.  See page 44 of the government’s plan in Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverence: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century.

In addition, none of the information is private.  What about FERPA, you ask? Oh, yes, well, that was secretly “altered” to provide the government and third parties access to all information.

This is, by all means, not all there is to Common Core; however, it’s a lot to wrap your brain around, so I will leave it here for now.  Several times a week I will provide in-depth information about many components of Common Core and what it means for you.  In the meantime, I urge you to do some reading on your own.

I would like to leave you with a quote by Alex de Tocqueville:

“It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

I appreciate all viewpoints on this matter, so please leave a comment.  Thank you!