Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Utah & American Institutes for Research

I have grave concerns about Utah’s new student testing company American Institutes for Research. AIR was one of 13 bids received by the State Office of Education which has continued to make the constant and fallacious claim that Common Core is not a federal takeover of education. So why did the State Office of Education then choose, "...the only organization already delivering statewide adaptive tests approved for use under federal education law"? The State Office of Education and I have different views of what constitutes federal control.
The reach of American Institutes for Research goes far beyond U.S. borders. They do everything from partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative in it’s Deworm the World effort to Improving Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes for LGBT Youth to sponsoring Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and the list goes on and on. AIR has it’s hands in a million pies. Hiring AIR is like hiring a single person to build a family home. You wouldn’t do it that way. You would get the very best plumber, the very best framer, the very best electrician you could find. Utah should hire a great testing company, period.
American Institutes for Research has a mission statement which reads, "AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged." I would like to know what that mission statement has to do with end of level testing for students in Utah. Additionally, I am very concerned about what the word "apply" means when it comes to testing Utah students. For example, the AIR web site reads: "Studies indicate that one in five children and adolescents (20 percent) may have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Many youth with mental health disorders develop co-occurring substance abuse issues. An estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need." So will AIR be testing my child for academic achievement or mental wellness? AIR’s site also states: "The Child, Adolescent and Family Branch (CAFB) of the Center for Mental Health Services initiated the National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families to support and enhance services for children and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, or two-spirit (LGBTQI2-S)." So again will those tests be simply academic, or will this company be testing CHILDREN for gay and "two-spirited" inclinations? As a parent, I would prefer a testing company that tests for academic achievement, I simply don’t think these other issues are the business of the state, AIR or the federal government and they have nothing to do with why Utahns send their children to school.
None of this is surprising if you know where AIR gets most of it’s funding. George Soros’s Open Society Foundation is AIR’s biggest client.
Finally, it’s the cost. When the economy is hurting and our dollars are not stretching as far as they once were, Common Core is another huge liability. The SL Tribune has reported that Utah’s new contract with AIR will be an initial outlay of 39 million dollars, but that is just for the "testing system". Currently Utah is able to complete end of level testing for each student at less than $7 per student per year , there are those who believe that the cost of testing, training and evaluation of these tests will cause that cost to rise over 100 year! Accountability Works has estimated between $25 and $50 per student per year, since no cost analysis has been done it impossible to know. In addition to not knowing what we are about to spend, what is the value of what we are about to throw out. Surely Utah has spent millions developing the testing mechanisms that are currently in place. One of the things that drives me nuts about education spending is that the public will hear a cost outlay of what additional monies will be needed to fund the next program, but they never say what will be lost by what we will toss away. (Just an aside, the District of Columbia spends the most on testing per student at $114.00 per student per year and yet their public schools remain notoriously poor.)
In the end, none of this waste and spend social engineering represents the values of a large majority of Utah parents. The results of Race to the Top ancestors like No Child Left Behind and it’s many predecessors are pathetic. It’s truly proof that people don’t get smarter when the move to Washington. Utah’s parents are highly competent, educated and motivated and I believe once they know the disasters that are AIR and Common Core, they are going to want Utah out!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Common Core

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding many aspects of Common Core and the Gate's far left agenda is found throughout the curriculum. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Bill Gates talks about how his foundational views were formed around the dinner table,

GATES: When I was growing up, my parents were almost involved in various volunteer things. My dad was head of Planned Parenthood. And it was very controversial to be involved with that. And so it's fascinating. At the dinner table my parents are very good at sharing the things that they were doing. And almost treating us like adults, talking about that. My mom was on the United Way group that decides how to allocate the money and looks at all the different charities and makes the very hard decisions about where that pool of funds is going to go. So I always knew there was something about really educating people and giving them choices in terms of family size.

In the same interview Gates blames capitalism for the deaths of children in poor countries (that BTW don't even come close to practicing capitalism.)

MOYERS: What does it say to you that half of all 15 year olds in South Africa and Zimbabwe could lose their lives to AIDS? What does it say to you that 11 million children, roughly, die every year from preventable diseases? What does it say to you that of the 4 million babies who die within their first month, 98 percent are from poor countries? What do those statistics tell you about the world? GATES: It really is a failure of capitalism. You know capitalism is this wonderful thing that motivates people, it causes wonderful inventions to be done. But in this area of diseases of the world at large, it's really let us down.

And what is it that Gates is suggesting here?

MOYERS: What is your answer to how it is that the resources of the world are so misallocated?
GATES: It's a mistake. MOYERS: But somebody has to make a mistake. Who makes it? GATES: I think we make it every day by thinking that national borders are you know allow huge inequities to exist across those borders. And I do think this next century, hopefully, will be about a more global view.   In his TED speech in 2010, Innovating  to Zero, Gates talks about his goal of lowering the total population by 10-15%.

Do the values of the Gates foundation represent Utah? No! Repeal Common Core and repeal this far left influence on the curriculum.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Environmentalism & The Culture of Death...

David Attenbourough says, "Humans are a plague on the earth." HERE
This is the far left view of those who wrote the Common Core.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Infant Mortality...

As the health care debate raged, I often wondered about the "infant mortality" argument that I often heard repeated, "the United States ranks 41 in infant mortality." I wondered about this statistic a lot. I've had two very close friends, one who delivered a son 4 weeks premature and the other who delivered a son 6 weeks premature. Both of these boys are alive and doing very well. Another friend works in a neonatal unit here in Utah where they are saving babies that are born weighing only 1 pound. And not only that, they have learned many ways that they can mimic the womb. Premature children used to face a life where they were certain to face many, many challenges. That is no longer certain.
My friend whose son was born 6 weeks premature and weighed just over a pound is a brilliant 1rst grader, a great reader with no physical or mental disabilities at all. My other friend, whose son was born 4 weeks premature is a bit older. While medical science was not nearly as advanced, he still is now in the 90 percentile of growth. He has no physical limitations and is very bright. He does struggle with Aspergers Syndrome, but he is the light of his parents lives and has many, many friends who love him.
These boys were both born in Utah, so to be counted as a live birth they only had to do one thing and that is to TAKE A SINGLE BREATH. In Utah, that is the only requirement. In some European countries, they don't count deaths of very pre-mature babies at all. Others require them to live a certain number of weeks or months. In some African nations, they don't even name their babies until after they are several years old.
After doing some research on my own, I can tell you that I truly believe that if you are born in the United States, you are blessed and have the very best chance of not only being counted as a person, but surviving and thriving.

Here is an excellent article from the National Review