Posts Tagged ‘Utah Standards’

Proof Utah is on the Hook with SBAC

I have obtained a copy of Utah’s Race to the Top application. In searching the 493 page document the below items appear which evidence directly contradicts the information put out by the Utah State Office of Education which has maintained that Utah is not obligated to anything. Clearly we are. In fact, if Utah was applying for a federal grant (Race to the Top), why are we obligating ourselves in the application for funds, to sign on to Common Core State Standards and assessments created by a non-government entity (SBAC)?

The federal government is simply corralling everyone into these programs to make it easier to nationalize education. Another “sign on the line” lottery so we can spend millions of dollars changing out our standards and assessments in a vain attempt to get federal grant money. Shameful.

If you would like to download a copy of the application, it will be available at this link for 7 days. It is a 40 meg pdf file.

Here are some of the low-lights found in the document.

Pg. 20 “By August 2010, Utah will adopt and begin implementation of K-12 standards in mathematics and literacy created in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers and NGA consortium.

Pg. 21 “By the start of the 2011-12 school year, Utah, working with the SMARTER Balanced Consortium, will begin the piloting of high quality assessments that are aligned with the standards to determine student academic achievement.”

Pg. 286 identifies Utah as a “governing state” member of the SBAC

Pg. 286, item h: “Bind each State in the Consortium to every statement and assurance made in the application through the following signature blocks…Governing State Assurance” (see at the bottom)

Pg. 288 under Responsibilities of States in the Consortium:

  • Each State agrees to the following element of the Consortium’s Assessment System:
    • Adopt the Common Core Standards, which are college- and career-ready standards, and to which the Consortium’s assessment system will be aligned, no later than December 31, 2011.”
  • Each State that is a member of the Consortium in 2014-2015 also agrees to the following:
    • Adopt common achievement standards no later than the 2014-2015 school year,
    • Fully implement statewide the Consortium summative assessment in grades 3-8 and high school for both mathematics and English language arts no later than the 2014-2015 school year,
    • Adhere to the governance as outlined in this document,
    • Agree to support the decisions of the Consortium,
    • Agree to follow agreed-upon timelines,
    • Be willing to participate in the decision-making process and, if a Governing State, final decision, and
    • Identify and implement a plan to address barriers in State law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system.”

In other words, we are required to implement standards, assessments, and abide by the decisions that other states determine. We are also required to find the barriers in state law that might prevent this takeover of education and try to eliminate them.

Pg. 289 “7. Access for the State or its authorized delegate to a secure item and task bank that includes psychometric attributes required to score the assessment in a comparable manner with other State members, and access to other applications determined to be essential to the implementation of the system.”

I’m not feeling really warm and fuzzy with a test bank for our children that includes “psychometric attributes.” What’s that going to look like? “Based on your answers, we’re concerned your family may be teaching you there is a supreme being which is a violation of consortium policy…” (kidding…sort of)

Pg. 297 THE GOOD NEWS!!!

Exit from Consortium
Any State may leave the Consortium without cause, but must comply with the following exit

  • A State requesting an exit from the Consortium must submit in writing their request and reasons for the exit request,
  • The written explanation must include the statutory or policy reasons for the exit,
  • The written request must be submitted to the Project Management Partner with the same signatures as required for the MOU,
  • The Executive Committee will act upon the request within a week of the request, and
  • Upon approval of the request, the Project Management Partner will then submit a change of membership to the USED for approval.”


Governor Gary Herbert signs on the line obligating Utah to all these requirements. Utah is bound thanks to the Governor not understanding what he was obligating Utah to do.

RTTT Contract signed by Governor Herbert

Click to View Enlarged


State Superintendent Reveals Federal Pressure

State Superintendent Reveals Federal Pressure

On March 6th, talk radio host Rod Arquette interviewed State Superintendent Larry Shumway and Alpine School District Board member Wendy Hart (speaking for herself and not the board) on the subject of Common Core. The interview took place just a few days after Sup. Shumway had written a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as a letter to the Senate education standing committee. You can read the Superintendent’s letters by clicking those links. Here are links to download the show portions dealing with Common Core (Shumway, Hart, and a few callers).

Rod Arquette Show (3-6-12) Zip File

Rod Arquette Show (3-6-12) mp3 – listen now (just under 30 minutes)

Here are important clips from the show:

Rod: How about the letter itself, Superintendent.  Why do you think it was important to write?

Larry:  Well, I thought that there were enough people being concerned about the Federal Government’s intrusion into the [Common] Core Standards in Utah that I should make clear where we stood.  I wanted to push back on comments that I’ve heard Secretary [of Education] Duncan make and President Obama make about their participation in the [Common] Core.  These standards are our standards.  We’ve adopted these in our states, and we control them.

Rod: You said you were disappointed.  What did they do to create that disappointment you have?  Are they trying to inch in on this a little bit?

Larry: Well, I’m bothered by things I hear the secretary say in speeches and the President say in speeches where they take credit for these standards.  And I’m bothered by the Department of Education making requirements that are associated with these standards.  They’re not their standards, and so that offends my sensibility and it pushes against our states’ rights of sovereignty in public education.


I applaud State Superintendent Larry Shumway for asserting our state rights to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, however, it is quite obvious to everyone that takes the time to look into the facts that the federal government’s involvement is just getting warmed up. Why is it that educators hated NCLB and the strings attached, but they are excited about getting RTTT money and the strings attached to it (namely adopting Common Core)? When have the feds ever had an altruistic program of giving out money (our own money) without requirements that cost more money than they were giving out?

Utah, it’s time to wake up to what’s happening, or as this Washington Times article points out, “states are likely to become little more than administrative agents for a nationalized K-12 program of instruction”.


Letter to Utah State Board, Part 3

You should read part 1 and part 2 before reading this installment. This is the last exchange of emails with Dixie Allen on the state school board. I think now I have provided everyone with both sides of the story so you can understand the State Board and USOE position better. Again, I strongly encourage you all to do your own research. You don’t need to believe what I’m posting. Many people helped put the timeline and links together on our Common Core page and I encourage you to look at the links and do your own homework and ask yourself if you want the state of Utah to be involved in Common Core. If not, you really ought to consider running for school board, state school board, or legislature to influence these things. The deadline is Thursday March 15. Decisions are being made that will impact your children and grandchildren.



Most of the information you have listed below, we did know.  However much of your concern comes from your lack of the perspective of those working in the system and trying to make a reasonable move to better standards, but with no money or help from our legislature to work to improve our standards.  We were well aware of the improvements of Massachusetts and a few other states, but we did not have the money to evaluate and upgrade the standards to the degree necessary.  So when the Governor’s and Chief School Officers Associations started looking into a quality upgrade for common standards to help our students score better on national and international testing, it was the next important step for our state to move forward.

In answer to who evaluated the Common Core Standards for out state, you need to know that specialists at the State Office of Education, State Board Members, District Curriculum Directors, Teachers, specialists and our partners in the K-16 Alliance.  It is believed that the Governor’s Office also checked out the standards, as they signed off on them and added their support.

Your quotes from professors and others are interesting, but they were not part of any information we saw as we adopted the Common Core Standards, a year and a half ago.  I am not sure I disagree with their take on the Standards, however, we see these standards as a stepping stone to move our students closer to the best standards possible.  If you could listen to how hard our districts, administrators, teachers, parents and students are working to raise the bar high enough to meet the expectation of these standards, you would realize it will take some time to move our state to an ultimate level of curriculum standards.

As I stated before, we did know that the Gates Foundation had help fund the standards.  The Gates Foundation have funded many new programs in the educational arena and did not appear to me to be contributors with a specific agenda.  We knew that money was given to pull these standards together — money we did not have to do such work on our own.

Finally, I don’t believe you still understand that regardless of the reasons that Debra made her statement — your reaction and email was accusatory and not that of someone who wanted to better understand the issue and help move our work forward to the best possible quality standards.  Your email was accusatory and uninformed as to what work we have put into this issue and the agendas we have been hearing from the “far right” which Debra was attempting to address.

Bottom line, we have worked for about four years to move our standards to a higher level to improve our student’s ability to be ready for college and/or careers.  It would be nice if interested individuals like you would help us take this step and then take more if needed when it is appropriate.



Dixie, thank you for clarifying that the board knew the connections with the Gates Foundation but was unaware of the agenda. With this important new knowledge that the public has brought to you, what specific actions will the board now take? Clearly this is game changing.

I find it interesting that you say the legislature wouldn’t help to improve the standards when in fact it was the legislature that forced the state to improve the math standards back in 2007-08. The USOE didn’t want to do it.

The USOE also reviews and modifies standards every few years so your argument doesn’t make sense to me. If the legislature wasn’t funding the raising of the standards, then why would the state adopt Common Core standards without a commitment of money from the legislature? If you knew MA was making improvements to their standards, why not ask a standards writer like Dr. Milgram or Dr. Hu, who both helped us before, to make a recommendation for a small sum of money rather than say we couldn’t afford it? Who made the decision then to adopt Common Core if nobody could be paid to review them? I cannot fathom a circumstance where the legislature wouldn’t have supported a move to top of the line standards, especially when they now have to fund Common Core.

You indicate below that you didn’t see these quotes critical of the Common Core back when you adopted the core and quite frankly, that doesn’t surprise me. These standards were approved before there was even a final version for anyone to review. It was breathtaking to those of us who had to battle the USOE to raise standards just a few short years ago to have these brand new standards sail through so fast. Did you know that before the Fordham Foundation rated them an A- (the same as Utah’s math standards), that the Gates Foundation paid Fordham a sizeable sum of money (ie. bribe)? Did you know that the Fordham Foundation actually said that between Utah’s math standards and the Common Core it was “too close to call” as to which was superior? If the state board is truly concerned with raising the bar, why didn’t we adopt California’s math standards which Fordham listed as “clearly superior” to the Common Core? It leaves the public wondering what the real thought process is at the state level because on a common-sense level, this makes no sense spending millions of dollars for a lateral shift (unless of course RTTT funds were tied to adopting Common Core in which case it’s perfectly logical that the state wanted to pull the slot machine handle in the hopes of getting a federal jackpot).

You indicated in a prior email that Debra’s comment was not talking about people like me but about those who thought these standards were too hard.

However, in this reply you indicate that Debra was in fact talking about people from the “far right”. In that case, I’m quite certain most everyone on this email considers myself, Eagle Forum, and other parents part of the “far right.” So it would appear that my “accusatory” email to Debra was exactly on target with what you are now portraying. Her comment fanned the flames that “right wing” people don’t really care about education and in this case don’t want our children to have career and college ready standards. That was completely uncalled for and that’s why I wrote. I happen to like Debra and most of the members of the board that I’ve been able to speak to, but accusing me of not getting both sides of the story before assuming what Debra meant seems now to be completely baseless. In fact, I’d say the board members are more guilty because the USOE and State Board has been representing to the governor and legislature that Common Core was a state-led effort when it actually seems you knew it was funded by the Gates Foundation.

You end by saying this:

“Bottom line, we have worked for about four years to move our standards to a higher level to improve our student’s ability to be ready for college and/or careers.  It would be nice if interested individuals like you would help us take this step and then take more if needed when it is appropriate.”

I’ll end by saying, are you really saying this to me? :)



Sorry traveling today- Will get back to you later – But wanted you to consider all the changes in relationship to bringing thousands of students and teachers along on this journey of upgrading our standards and curriculum.

Will answer your other questions later.



Letter to Utah State Board, Part 2

Since I was accused of not knowing both sides of the story after sending my first email, and the reply I received was sent to all members of the State School Board, State Superintendent, and others, I feel compelled to share with you both sides of the conversation that followed my initial letter to the state school board (Part 1) so that you may have full disclosure on Common Core issues as viewed by the State Board. I wouldn’t want to be accused of not sharing both sides of the story with you since everyone on the school board now has my perspective.



Debra forwarded your email to our Board, attempting to insure that we hear all sides of the issue on the Common Core Adoption.  Since you and I have had several email conversations about the Mathematics Core over the years, I wanted to tell you how offensive this email is and why.

First, each of us have our understanding of the facts, as they are presented to us and based on our experience.  Our Board Chair, Debra, has a very unique view of the issues surrounding public education by the experiences she has been part of over the past nine years.  She has represented our state at the national level and over the past three years, served as our Chair, with hundreds of meetings with legislators, educational groups, supporters and those who aren’t supporters.  Her facts are based on a multitude of experiences that most of us, but especially someone outside the system cannot even imagine.  She and other members of our Board have worked diligently to evaluate and reevaluate the structure, standards, assessment and all other contributing conditions to provide a quality education for the students of our state.  She knows because of that involvement that part of the push back on the Utah Common Core, is the belief that all students cannot master the necessary skill to be successful.  She also knows that mathematics professionals from another generation cannot fathom starting to teach algebraic and geometric ideas to Kindergarten students and having all students ready and proficient to pass Allegra and Geometry before they exit the school system.  It is so sad that you could be so blind as to not understand that those working in the system might know something beyond what the public knows in regard to the workings of our school system, and part of that not knowing is the belief that all students can’t be ready for college.

Your concerns over the state core curriculum over the years has had some basis.  We have not had the highest quality of math and/or language arts standards to drive our curriculum over the many years we have had Core Standards.  However, the adoption of the Common Core Standards have greatly improved our expectations and are now helping our districts and teachers upgrade the curriculum for each and every student of our state.   These standards were created with the help of the brightest minds in our country (many from our own State Office of Education).   And yes, developing such high quality standards does take money, and that issue is partly why Utah has always had to work and share with others educational professionals, or do without.  As the lowest funded state in the nation, we have little extra money to put into developing standards, curriculum and assessment.  Thus this collaboration is a huge advantage for our state, both in regard to the quality of the standards, but also the money saved in their creation.

I have always valued your input, but am so sad that you would voice your input with such derogatory comments to someone who has worked so hard to help improve education for all the students of the state.  Debra Roberts, our State Board and our State Office of Education deserves more from our constituents who care about education — because as a constituent, you are part of the success or failure of our system.

Please continue to stay involved, but please take the time to stay informed in regard to the multitude of sides to any one issue.

Best Wishes,



Dixie, I am a bit surprised at the tone of your letter to me. You tell me to know both sides of the story before commenting but did you know the things I listed in my letter to Debra? Did the state board know that this was not a state led initiative before you joined in to support it? Did anyone at the state office know that UNESCO and the Gates Foundation were the prime movers behind the Common Core? Did you know that Achieve is Gates funded? Were you fully aware of this agenda when the board signed onto Common Core? If you did, then I sincerely apologize (and this raises a host of new concerns). If not, I encourage you to learn the other side of the story.

As you are probably aware, Debra’s comments came in the middle of a fight at the legislature to reconsider the Common Core standards in light of these discoveries. As you know, I and several others have been spoken ill of for our work. We’ve been called uninformed and worse. You make the point here that Debra was talking about some other people who think Common Core is too hard for our children. I’m not the judge on that, but I can say that I haven’t heard that from anyone except a teacher who deals with children every day who struggle to stay up on their math. Debra’s comment in the context of what was actually happening during the week, may have been a case of bad timing, since the ONLY people being discussed at the legislature or in the press were USOE officials who told legislators and the governor that this was completely a state led initiative, and parents like myself who were working hard to show this was the product of UNESCO and the Gates Foundation who have set us up and only needed states to come together on a common core to have the standards slip into place with everything else that was planned.

Who reviewed Common Core? How did we determine it was better than our old standards? If we really want our children to be “career and college ready” why didn’t we go to one of the best standards available that would have still had significant curricula available for it? It would have been easy to adopt California or Massachusetts’ math standards since there are materials that match them and they are higher rated than Common Core. MA also has great English standards. Here’s a few comments you may find interesting in context of providing the other side of the story on Common Core.

Sandra Stotsky, former assistant superintendent of education in Massachusetts

“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s “standards” and ask the National Governors Association to ask a national organization devoted to authentic literary study (ALSCW, e.g.,) to develop a set of high school literature standards that could serve as the backbone of a coherent literature curriculum from grade 6-12, with successively more difficult texts required from grade to grade.”

Professor Jim Milgram of Stanford, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, wrote this when he declined to sign off on the Common Core standards:

“This is where the problem with these standards is most marked. While the difference between these standards and those of the top states at the end of eighth grade is perhaps somewhat more than one year, the difference is more like two years when compared to the expectations of the high achieving countries—particularly most of the nations of East Asia.”

Dr. Milgram’s comments were validated by a non-American on the review committee who said:

“I cannot in all conscience, endorse statements 2 and 3 [(2) Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity; (3) Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations] The standards are, in my view, much more detailed, and, as Jim Milgram has pointed out, are in important respects less demanding, than the standards of the leading nations.”

This excellent review shows specific examples where California is far easier to comprehend than the Common Core and is the source of these last two quotes.



Continue with part 3

Letter to Utah State Board, Part 1

Last week the Salt Lake Tribune ran an article that had State School Board member Debra Roberts quoted as saying something I viewed as a direct attack on parents concerned about the Common Core implementation. I wrote this letter to her over the weekend and wanted to share it with the public since her comment was very public and needs a response. Yes it’s a pointed email. I do not like writing letters than have an element of venting but there is no more time to waste beating around the bush. I publish this here so that others can see the holes in the arguments being made by the education establishment. Use this and the materials we’ve published about the Common Core to get all the facts and have them at your disposal when public meetings occur. You don’t need to believe anything I’ve written about this. Do your own homework. We’ve listed references in our research but do your own reading and get up to speed on this.



I read the article in the Tribune this last week and was shocked to see them quote you saying this:

“I’m disappointed that there are a few in the state who don’t yet see the value of college and career-readiness standards for our students,” said Debra Roberts, state school board chairwoman.

Are you kidding me? Were you not on the board a few short years ago when we worked so incredibly hard to raise Utah’s math standards from a D to an A- and hit one roadblock after another from the USOE? They said we didn’t need new standards and brought in West Ed to try and prove it (Epic Fail). When we suggested adopting California’s excellent standards they said Utah was unique and California didn’t share our values and standards (and I guess we suddenly developed a strong affinity for the values of 45 other states). We FINALLY prevailed and got much improved standards and all of us fighting for this wondered “WHY ON EARTH DOESN’T THE USOE WANT OUR CHILDREN TO BE COLLEGE AND CAREER READY IN MATH?”

Now Common Core comes along and without the standards even being finalized, the board adopts them. No questions of Utah’s uniqueness at stake here. No questions about proving the quality of the standards against high achieving states or nations because THIS was the product of a state led effort so they must be excellent.

I am outraged that you would make such baseless comments about people like myself. It is entirely inappropriate. What do you actually know about the origin of Common Core? Have you bought into the lie that this was simply the product of the NGA and CCSSO coming together to craft common standards? Have you done your own homework? Did you follow the money trail? Did you discover that this is simply a rehashing of the old “school-to-work” concept? Did you discover that the Gates Foundation paid the NGA and CCSSO millions of dollars to help in this effort? Did you find that the Gates Foundation paid the national PTA millions of dollars to shill for the Common Core and promote it into schools? Did you know the Gates Foundation signed a contract with UNESCO in 2004 to work with them and be in line with the UN’s agenda? Have you read any of it including this line?

“Therefore UNESCO with assistance from Microsoft is embarking on a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a reference master curriculum…”

Are you familiar with Agenda 21? It’s highly driven toward education. Did you know that Common Core standards were one of the last things created and needed to bring about the nationalization of education and loss of local control because ALL THE OTHER COMPONENTS WERE PAID FOR BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT? We have assessments that Utah is required to use since we are governing members of the SBAC. The feds paid over $350 million for them in violation of federal law. We have a massive database to track our children and all their “progress.”

Did you listen to Larry Shumway on Rod Arquette’s show this week? He said he wrote his letter to Arne Duncan not out of concern for what myself and others were saying, but because he’s heard Arne and Pres. Obama talking about the standards as if they had made them. He’s finally seeing part of the net. They put the RTTT cheese out and we adopted their standards hoping against all common sense that they would send Utah somebody else’s money, but alas, we didn’t get any. Now we have contracts with strings.

As you can tell, I’m frustrated and a large part of that is your insult to concerned parents all over the state who want the very best for their children and have very real concerns that the federal government is in takeover mode.

I strongly encourage you to read these recent articles. The state board is soon going to become the administrative extension of the federal DOE.



Continued in Part 2

CCSS: Nationalizing Education


At the Republican state convention a few months ago I had the chance to speak with Utah Governor Gary Herbert for a few minutes and so I brought up the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The governor assured me they weren’t a prelude to a national takeover of education (which by some measures we could conclude that already happened years ago). The governor said the CCSS was the product of states getting together and collaborating to improve the standards.  That is true in part. The states got together. However, some states had better standards than what was produced in the CCSS documents. Rather than 50 experiments in education, we will now have 1. Success and failure is now 100% for our country in either direction, rather than 2% per state. Will the CCSS work? Nobody knows. They’ve never been used. They weren’t even complete when they started being adopted by states. Assessments weren’t ready to look at, but “don’t worry, everything necessary for this system to work 100% is in process…”

When the evidence is examined as a whole, it is difficult to not see the CCSS as the prelude to a national melding of education into a giant pot.  It’s not like everything is isolated and we certainly can’t say that the standards are independent objects for the states to manipulate. If a state signs on, they can’t modify the standards except to add a little to them. So lets look at what else we know is happening that is pushing forward to compliment the CCSS.


Article: Common Core Writers Craft Curriculum Criteria

What? The people that wrote the standards are now telling curriculum designers how to design the curriculum? That sounds like a national curriculum in the works. But that’ll never happen so don’t worry about that.


Article: State Consortium Scales Back Common-Test Design

So you have these “state” standards which are being pushed with the odd national anticipation that very soon all the states will adopt them (even if the standards are worse than their current successful standards such as in MA and CA). Shown on this SBAC timeline, that will be by late this year (2011). By 2013 they will be pilot testing the assessments, field testing in 2014, and 2015 will be when we have “final achievement standards.”  The SBAC is one of a couple of consortia that have received massive amounts of federal funding to develop a set of assessments that will match the CCSS. SBAC’s senior researcher is Linda Darling Hammond, proponent of social justice in the classroom, and constructivist extraordinaire. Anyone want to guess what these assessments will be asking and how they will influence the “final achievement standards?” Does anyone think the CCSS might change by 2015 based on these tests and developing “final” standards?

SBAC CCSS Timeline

SBAC CCSS Timeline


Once you have the standards, curricula to teach them, and assessments to measure student progress, the next thing you’ll want to know is information about the students to see how they are progressing (and of course you’ll want to track the teachers so you know who the ones are that most successfully get students to answer the correct questions on the SBAC social justice tests).


If you didn’t read the post the other day on Marxism and CCSS, here’s the flowchart from page 20 of that pdf someone produced.  Everything fits nice and neat together. I haven’t looked into it myself, but from the title on this map, these relationships all seem to get identified in the Race to the Top grant.

RTTT Grant Connections

RTTT Grant Connections

Financial Cost

I have read estimates that in California alone, implementing these new standards will entail spending several hundred million dollars. Nearly every state was hoping to get Race to the Top funds but only a handful did. Not surprising, Utah got nothing and so implementation of these new standards will be a significant new expense for our state. It will involve teacher training in the new standards, new textbooks written to the standards, and additional costs for switching out assessments and such. Why on earth would we create massive new costs when we already have pretty good math standards and we have high unemployment and a financial disaster brewing in our country?

Local Control

Everyone’s favorite buzz-phrase but which only a few really cherish. The only local control that is going to exist after this will be for home schoolers and private schools. Accepting this package, and make no mistake it is a package, will terminate local control and allow for Educrats in Washington D.C. to determine what is taught, how it’s taught, what’s tested, and what’s tracked. If we’re lucky, they’ll share a little bit with us at the local level.

Science Standards

Here’s a great piece from Ze’ev Wurman on the newly proposed CC science standards. His conclusion as an engineer and educator who has served on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that reviewed the adoption of Common Core for California, is that these standards are going to develop students who appreciate science rather than actually learn science. You can read his article here entitled Education to Raise Technology Consumers instead of Technology Creators. These standards will only serve to dumb down our children and allow for further deteriorating our scientific prowess (if we can even call it that anymore).


There are many people who believe the CCSS are good standards. No doubt they may be better than what some states were using, but that’s no reason to kill innovation between the 50 states, nor to allow for all these separate components to join together. It’s out of our hands though. The only way to avoid this is to reject the CCSS and be a state that is free to innovate and educate as we see fit.

For more information about the CCSS, check out the Truth in American Education website.

Planned Illiteracy

In January of this year, I presented at the Utah Eagle Forum conference along with some other participants. I’ve already posted one of the presentations that I wanted to get out as quick as I could and that was Pamela Smith’s presentation on the SHARP surveys used in our schools. If you haven’t seen that, you definitely want to be aware of what our children are being asked to consider in “harmless” surveys.

Also, when you finish watching my presentation, if you missed watching the video on the U.N.’s global communist agenda, please watch it as well and you’ll see further evidence for the deliberate dumbing down of America.

Last, and as always, another plug for Charlotte Iserbyt’s excellent documentary entitled “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America,” which is a free pdf on her website you can download and look through. She refers to John Goodlad as America’s “premier change agent.”

If you would like to download the slides from this presentation, here’s a link to the Planned Illiteracy Powerpoint slides.


Troubling Utah State Standard

Someone recently emailed me this 6th grade history standard from the Utah state history standards. It’s more important than ever that you know your state school board candidates and make sure they are committed to reviewing what’s being approved for use in Utah. How this is a standard and hasn’t been shouted from the rooftops by someone is stunning.
Standard 4
Objective 3

Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.

  1. Identify rights considered essential for all humans (e.g. health care, education, safety, freedom from fear, freedom of expression).
  2. Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights (e.g. support for sister schools, energy and resource conservation, letter writing, career choices, fundraising efforts).

First students will identify rights that aren’t really rights, and then they’ll go to the next step and propose ways to advocate or devote their life to them.

The new Texas standards are looking better and better for potential adoption in Utah.

Texas vs. Utah Elementary History Standards

I received a copy of this document prepared by Judy Cox and obtained her permission to post it here. I think this is a great job of showing some of the differences between the new Texas standards and the Utah standards.

Contrasting Utah’s Core Curriculum for Grades 3-6 Social Studies with the new Texas Standards for K-5 Grades

In compiling this information, I do not intend to infer that teachers in the State of Utah are not teaching important information in the Social Studies curriculum to our students. I have personally participated with my children in Veterans Day observances, patriotic programs, and pioneer treks that show a concerted effort on teacher’s part to teach our students an appreciation for the country we live in and an understanding of societal relationships and community responsibilities. I am not a professional educator, but a parent who has had three children in Utah schools, and will soon have two grandchildren entering the public school system here in Utah. My knowledge and concern come from study, experience with my own children, and a desire to better the educational experience for my grandchildren and other children in our state.

My intent is to show that the guidelines given to Utah teachers are lacking in specificity of content, and that valuable information, concepts, and ideas are missing from the core curriculum in the state. These standards guide the selection of textbooks and curriculum. Without more exact requirements and guidelines, many details, concepts, ideas, and critical exposure to important historical figures and other social studies components may be missed or ignored, and some concepts may be over-stressed at the expense of others of equal or greater importance. Additionally, parents do not have the assurance of specifics that must be taught in the curriculum when students experience the occasional teacher whose personal opinions and beliefs and/or political ideology supplant the responsibility of teaching the core curriculum.

The new Texas curriculum provides a more thorough and comprehensive look at the founding of our country, the importance of knowing and understanding historical figures, places, and dates, stresses the importance of the knowledge and celebration of our patriotic holidays, and helps students understand the meaning and importance of citizenship and civic responsibility.  The curriculum is rich in examples of men and women who have contributed  to our society and emphasizes  the role individuals play in creating positive changes within our communities, state, and nation.

By citing the following, I hope to bring to light a certain inadequacy within our State curriculum that can, and should be remedied. While neither states’ curriculum is without gaps, by implementing the more specific aspects of Texas’ curriculum we can create a more thorough and rigorous course of study for our Utah students. The importance of this curriculum in our elementary schools cannot be overlooked, and should be given a thorough and comprehensive review.

Judy Cox

Orem, UT

Please note: Utah State Core Curriculum standards have changed for grades K-2 as of 12/2009. These new standards are more extensive and inclusive of key concepts not found in the current grades 3-6 curriculum, which is dated 05/2008. Concepts introduced in the K-2 curriculum are not specifically reinforced in grades 3-6.

Utah Social Studies Core Curriculum Grades 3 – 6

Four areas of focus are found in the Utah State Curriculum: history; geography; economics; civics. Each area of focus is studies as part of the general theme for the year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and culture, Grade 4 the State, and Grade 5 the Nation.

Citizenship is discussed once in the introduction “Essential Goals Used in Developing the Elementary Social Studies Core”, and once specifically in the curriculum as in: “Discover the basis for the patriotic and citizenship traditions we have today (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette, voting)”. The concept of laws is mentioned twice, as in “obedience to laws” and “make laws”. A more comprehensive discussion of laws and their role in citizenship, such as the purpose of rules and laws, in the home, school, community, identifying the benefits of established laws such as providing security and order; the characteristics of good citizenship, such as truthfulness, justice, and examples of historical and other figures, are missing.

The following are NOT specifically mentioned in the curriculum for 3-6 grades in the State of Utah Core Curriculum:

  1. No historical figure that impacted the founding of the country is mentioned by name, i.e. George Washington, John Adams, etc., nor is any Utah state historical figure mentioned by name. The curriculum discusses “leaders”, as in “Identify representative people from selected revolutions” and “ideas and leaders of the 20th Century”.  The only specific people mentioned are “Napoleon, Martin Luther, James Watt, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek”, and figures from the Renaissance era such as “Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis”. The curriculum stresses events but no specific individuals are listed to be studied.
  2. Reciting the pledge. The words “recognize”, “identify”, and “demonstrate respect for” are used, but no requirement is listed for “reciting” the pledge.
  3. A study of the songs, anthems, or mottoes of the US or State of Utah
  4. Holidays or Patriotic Holidays
  5. The word “Republic”
  6. The term “constitutional republic”
  7. The word “Patriotism”
  8. The word “President” (as in the US President)
  9. The word “Congress”
  10. The term “Founding Fathers”
  11. The term “free enterprise system”. “Free market system” is used once as in “assess how the free market system in the United States serves as an engine of change and innovation”. It is also a vocabulary word.
  12. The word “capitalism”.
  13. The names of Government officials, state or national. Students are only asked to compare the roles and responsibilities of state, county, and local officials.
  14. The US is referred to as a Representative Government, but there is no name given to the form of representative government (i.e. constitutional republic or democratic republic)
  15. The word democracy is used numerous times: “In order to participate in civic responsibilities required of participants in democracy”; “Assess differing points of view on the role of the US as a world power (e.g. influencing the spread of democracy..)”; “Benchmark: The modern world has witnessed incredible change in global trade, the spread of democracy, the influence of technology, an increase in environmental awareness and advances in human knowledge”. It is also used as a vocabulary word. No information is given however to the specific form of government of the United States, other than discussing a representative government. The idea of a constitutional republic is never mentioned, leaving the idea that democracy is the form, not just a process, idea, or value.

Texas Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Grades K-5

The following words, concepts and phrases are found in the new Texas curriculum. (See, The new Texas curriculum (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Social Studies, Subchapter A, Elementary. Approved for second reading and final adoption.)


This is for K-5 curriculum. Much of the following is introduced in Kindergarten, and reiterated and built upon throughout the following years.

Eight areas of focus are found in the Texas Social Studies Curriculum: government, citizenship; history; geography; economics; culture; science, technology and society; social studies skills. Each area of focus is studied as part of the general theme for the school year, i.e. Grade 3 studies community and world, Grade 4 studies Texas history, Grade 5 studies the history of the United States.

  1. Introduces and emphasizes the study of historical figures such as Washington, Adams, Texas historical figures, etc. and mentions them specifically by name, throughout the curriculum. In Grade 3 alone, 10 historical men and women are to be taught specifically, along with groups of individuals, such as the “Founding Fathers”. See Texas curriculum website for a list of individuals included for study in the curriculum. Table 1 contains individuals to be “included” in the curriculum. Table 2 is designated as “such as” in the curriculum.
  2. Teaches the Pledge of Allegiance, it’s meaning, and uses the word “recite”.
  3. Students identify anthems and mottoes of the United States and the State of Texas.
  4. Discusses celebrating and understanding patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day, Independence Day, Presidents Day, Constitution Day,  etc.
  5. Uses the word “patriotism”, as in : “enables students to understand the importance of patriotism”.
  6. They give intensive study during one specific week per year to the founding documents of the country. This week is called  “Celebrate Freedom Week”, wherein; Each social studies class shall include, during Celebrate Freedom Week as provided under the TEC, §29.907, or during another full school week as determined by the board of trustees of a school district, appropriate instruction concerning the intent, meaning, and importance of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, in their historical contexts. The study of the Declaration of Independence must include the study of the relationship of the ideas expressed in that document to subsequent American history, including the relationship of its ideas to the rich diversity of our people as a nation of immigrants, the American Revolution, the formulation of the U.S. Constitution, and the abolitionist movement, which led to the Emancipation Proclamation and the women’s suffrage movement. (B) Each school district shall require that, during Celebrate Freedom Week or other week of instruction prescribed under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, students in Grades 3-12 study and recite the following text: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness–That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”
  7. The term “Founding Fathers” is used, names are used, and students are to identify them and explain the contributions they made in the development of the national government.
  8. The terms “President” and “Congress” are used, as in:  “identify past and present leaders in the national government, including the president and selected members of Congress” and “name current public officials, including mayor, governor, and president”.
  9. The terms and meanings of a free enterprise system, and capitalism, are to be identified, as in: “Students identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be referenced as capitalism or the free market system.” Students learn the character and benefits of the system, describe the development of the system within the state and nation, and how the system works.
  10. Citizenship is a specific component of the curriculum. Characteristics of good citizenship are discussed, examples of historical and contemporary figures who exemplify good citizenship are given, and students are encouraged to actively participate in the democratic process*. “Citizenship: The student understands characteristics of good citizenship as exemplified by historical figures and other individuals. The student is expected to: identify characteristics of good citizenship, such as a belief in truthfulness, justice, equality, respect for oneself and others, responsibility in daily life, and participation in government by educating oneself about the issues, respectfully holding public officials to their word, and voting.”
  11. The word “democratic” is used only in the following context: “…and appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation as referenced in the Texas Education Code.” The word democracy is not used. (Note: I am not advocating for removing this term, but rather for placing it within the appropriate context.)
  12. The curriculum clearly and repeatedly discusses the US form of government as a constitutional republic.

*(this is the second of two times that the word “democratic” is used, the other is “democratic values” as in “appreciate the basic democratic values of our state and nation”)