Common Core Hot Topic in HD48 Forum Tonight: Rep. Mark Baker gets My Endorsement

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Tonight I attended the candidate forum for House District 48 (Rock Springs) with candidates Representative Mark Baker (R) and Joe Bartuto (D). I was pleased that my question concerning the AG’s recent statement on parental right to opt out of testing was selected. I asked, “What is your stance on parental rights and education and your opinion concerning the Attorney General’s statement on opting out of standardized testing?” Baker was quick to point out that parents have the right to direct the education of their children and believes that parents have the right to opt out. He was familiar with the AG’s statement and says he disagrees with it. Barbuto was not familiar with the AG’s statement but stated he wants less testing so that teachers can “just teach”. I found Barbuto’s statement to be rather ironic given the fact that he clearly supports the Common Core State Standards. He made statements in rebuttal to Baker’s comments that Common Core is clearly a top down approach to education and that parents and teachers were left out of the process. Barbuto said, “Common Core is not a federal take over of education and states had input.” I would LOVE to see the proof that Barbuto has that Wyoming was involved or any other state for that matter.

Mark Baker made it clear that it only takes a little research to know the facts on how Common Core was brought to our state and mentioned that there were experts in attendance that would be happy to discuss it. Barbuto mocked this and said he hoped that Baker meant all the teachers in attendance. What I have observed is that teachers and parents claim Wyoming had input because they have been TOLD they had input, NOT due to actually participating in the creation of them. Public comment period does not equate true input or being “state led”. I was teaching in the public school system and I had NO notice, no opportunity, no request to comment on something that would have a major impact on my career.  The only notice I had was when training was available on the newly adopted standards. Again, were is the proof made by those still pushing the “state led” talking point? How is it state led when Bill Gates says he is funding CCSS so that he will have a uniform base of customers, after all the curriculum and testing is aligned? I’d like to see evidence of states actually collaborating to create standards!

Off of my rant…

This is WHY you need to support Mark Baker! Not only is he on the right side of the Common Core fight and education – he is a TRUE conservative that will protect our freedoms. Please take a moment to read his opening and closing statements from tonight’s forum.

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“I would like to thank the individuals and organizations involved for the opportunity to present the differences between my opponent and me. I would also like to thank those individuals that are participating in the crowd here and listening live on the radio. And thank the millions in our military and law enforcement that serve every day to ensure we have free speech.
I am running for re-election because I believe that principles of government must be fought for and protected. Our lifestyle and legacy are critical. I believe I share common principles with the majority of house district 48.
I was raised and went to school here in Rock Springs. I graduated from Rock Springs High and continued onto WWCC where I received two associate’s degrees. While there I served as a senator and the student body president. I then continued my education in Laramie at the University of Wyoming where I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts.
My life experience is broad. I have owned four small businesses. Contrary to Hilary Clinton’s recent statements, businesses do create jobs and as a legislator I have fought hard for continuing an atmosphere where the free market can prosper. As a business owner, I have created jobs. I am convinced the free market is the solution to many of our economic troubles.
I have been a part of various organizations in our community. I spent three years as a volunteer firefighter and worked as a substitute teacher. During the past decade, I have driven truck commercially including delivering hazardous materials in the oil field. I have real life experience with the oil and gas industries and I will continue to fight for an environment that allows our industries to flourish despite President Obama’s attempt to hamper our responsible growth.
As legislators, every vote we cast counts and is subject to criticism. That’s why I feel it is important to disclose that in 2008 and 2012 I did not vote for President Obama. In 2016, I will not vote for Hilary Clinton. Many of the policies we will discuss tonight are linked to the failed policies of our current president. He has continued to force a top down, cookie cutter approach. It is troubling that a federal judge or an appointed administrative position tells us how to manage wolves, grizzly bears, the city boundaries of Riverton, how to define marriage. We continue to see legislation that, “we have to pass to know what is in it”. We need strong voices in Cheyenne that will stand for what is right in the face of political correctness. We cannot elect officials that will just go along to get along. We must support individuals that will stand up on principle and will fight for what is right. There is much more to legislating than glad handing at evening cocktail events and entertaining. Our legislators make decisions that affect all aspects of our lives.
There are fundamental differences between us on policy, experience, morals and approach. As the evening progresses, I know these differences will be evident. And I am looking forward to discussing the issues and taking questions.

My opponent has spent the campaign repeating rhetoric that is strikingly similar to many of the democrat candidates throughout the state. He has hired consultants to design his materials and make phone calls for him and sent other people knocking on the doors of constituents. During this campaign, one theme remains true. My opponent has four sessions of votes that do not reflect the political views of the majority of people in this district.

Let me take a moment and share one legislative ranking system. The Wyoming Liberty Group indexes legislators every year. After each session the group takes every bill and analysis it as to whether it is liberty friendly, unfriendly or neutral. Liberty can be defined as “freedom from unjust government.” Based on the analysis they rank legislators by assigning them a number with 1 being the most Liberty friendly legislator. During my opponent’s last two years he ranked 58th and 60th out of 61. In the last two years, I ranked 13th and 7th, illustrating one more difference between us.

During the session, I would spend evenings alone in the capitol, revising and timing my presentations so that the people of this district would receive the most benefit from the time I spent on the floor. I spent hours answering emails and phone calls from my constituents. I studied bills, and actively involved myself in committee meetings. My opponent sponsored bills, then didn’t show up to present them in committee.

There are fundamental differences between us on policy, experience, morals and approach and only a few of them have been discussed tonight. If you would like more information about me or this campaign, please contact me at 371-5113 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WyoRep48.

Petition for Ensuring Right to OPT OUT of Testing: Reaction to AG’s Opinion

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Wyoming Parents Take Note!  Your right to Opt out of Testing is in Jeopardy!  Please sign our petition provided BELOW to help ensure Governor Mead knows you demand he protect your right.  The right to direct the education of your child as YOU SEE FIT, regardless of our Attorney General’s opinion.

PLEASE DO TWO THINGS RIGHT NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!

1) SIGN THE PETITION to OPT OUT HERE (Full  Petition Text Included)

2) SEND A SIMILAR LETTER TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVES

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core recently informed you about the letter published by our Attorney General, concerning his opinion on opting out of high stakes standardized testing.   They have sent the following letter (copied below) to ALL legislators.   They are asking that you join with other concerned parents standing up for their rights and send a similar letter.

Dear Legislator,

You likely know about the recent AG opinion that parents may not opt out of state tests.  Parents have numerous legitimate reasons to want to do this, especially the nationalized variety like Smarter Balanced.  Besides the concerns over data mining/sharing, data breaches and hacking which as yet have not been satisfactorily addressed, SBAC pilot tests made it clear that to be successful, teachers must teach using math strategies that are educationally controversial and unproven, making nonsense of the notion that districts still would have “control” over how they teach our students.  Further, parents may also determine that the process of taking the test and the stress involved for students in an “accountability” culture does more harm than good when taking the child’s individual needs and gifts into account.

There is already simmering resentment amongst parents in Wyoming when it comes to the quiet onset of the Common Core and the consortium tests intended to follow on its heels.  The Attorney General’s opinion, with its direct affront to parental rights, is very likely to fan the glowing embers in full flame.  The fact that penalties are not outlined in statute begs that the opinion be challenged…either by civil disobedience or lawsuit.  

To avoid this difficult outcome, concerned parents are very much in favor of a clear legislative statement being made in Wyoming about parental rights; you may expect an opportunity to do so this session.  We urge you to review the excellent case made for fundamental rights in this article and be ready to stand up for parental rights when this time comes:  http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/10/13635/

You may also be interested to know that The Center for Education Reform ranks Wyoming 40th among states for “Parent Power”(https://www.edreform.com/in-the-states/parent-power-index/states/wy/).  Will the AG opinion help or hurt Wyoming’s reputation for parental rights?

Thank you for your consideration and your service.  We wish you productivity as the interim continues and a fruitful legislative session, and personal blessing for you and your families.  

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

Green River, WY

SBAC Common Core Testing Not Right for Wyoming: Letter to Select Commitee

Here is an exceptional letter written by Dan Brophy of Jackson Hole.  I have received permission to post it here for you to read.

Mr. Brophy addresses many concerns that surround the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core Testing.  This test is being strongly considered for adoption and replacement of the PAWS test in our state.  I hope that many people read this letter and also contact  those on the Select Committee on Education and Accountability.   This committee will be making a decision on SBAC during the upcoming session beginning January 13th of 2015.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Select Committee:

I write to urge you to abandon consideration of adopting SBAC assessments in Wyoming schools.

This Select Committee, the Governor and the Legislature cannot truthfully state that local control is maintained when Wyoming signs onto the SBAC consortium. Wyoming may be a member of the Executive Committee, but membership conveys no rights for our state to act on its own if it disagrees with test content or methodology, or finds any other problems with the SBAC test. Once you have committed Wyoming to the SBAC path, each of you individually and all of you collectively, as the government of this state, will be as helpless as parents to change anything without the permission of outside entities whose interests do not coincide with Wyoming interests. Not one of you can refute this fact.

Wyoming spends nearly $500 million/year on state community colleges and the University of Wyoming. Surely, within this vast fountain of spending, our state could find the academic expertise and persons to design its own, flexible but superior standards in order to improve, modify or replace PAWS. And why not invite parents into the process – who have basically been ignored?

Common Core is just that: common. By design, every student learns the same things at the same time, which means early-bloomers will end up frustrated and late-bloomers will end up characterized as academically deficient. Learning pace differs by individual, and always will. Applying a rigid standard, including SBAC tests, takes away the flexibility of individual teachers to tailor their learning plans to the pace, talent and interest of each student. The rigidity of Common Core will  unfairly systematize pre-judging of students who have different talents and learn at different paces. Common Core sets up standardized testing as the measure of success, but a student’s education is a much broader effort and accomplishment than test scores.

Do not adopt SBAC – this is not right for our students or their parents. Go back to work and find a Wyoming-designed, Wyoming-controlled testing regime that we can adapt and improve on our own.

Don’t forget this committee will be making a decision on SBAC during the upcoming session beginning January 13th of 2015.  Members on this committee can be found HERE.  PLEASE email them TODAY!   

Thank you!

~Christy

 

Wyoming AG Assalts Parental Rights to Opt Out of High Stakes Testing!

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Former director of the Wyoming Department of Education, Richard Crandall, was faced with several parental requests to opt their children out of statewide assessments. The Wyoming Department of Education initially attempted to answer this question on their own by stating that parents could not opt out. However, when parents challenged this position by asking for the Department to reference the specific Wyoming statute that prohibited parental opt out, no such statute could be provided. Therefore, former Director Crandall turned to the Wyoming Attorney General for an opinion. The letter requesting that opinion was dated April 2014.

Flash forward approximately 5 months. The Wyoming Attorney General issued his opinion to the Wyoming Department of Education. In this opinion dated August 27, 2014, the AG gives the following short answer regarding the parental right to opt out question:

“The rules of the State Board of Education require districts to assess all eligible students. This requirement is within the Board’s statutory authority. Accordingly, districts must assess all eligible students, and students may not opt out of assessment” See the entire letter HERE.

The reasoning given? He believes parental rights have been trumped by the Wyoming Education Accountability Act that was passed in 2011. The Attorney General emphasizes that this accountability system gathers information on students, teachers and schools. Schools are then categorized into one of four performance levels: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations or not meeting expectations. In his interpretation of Wyoming statute, the AG has determined that the State Board of Education by rule, requires as part of district accreditation that ALL students in Wyoming public schools participate in state testing.

Interestingly, the AG does not comment on the lack of penalty language in Wyoming statute. The final statement made in his opinion is that districts may not allow students or their parents to opt out of assessments provided by law. However, what would happen if they did? The statute is not clear and no penalties are provided by law.

Did the Wyoming legislature indeed intend to force ALL students in Wyoming to take statewide assessments, regardless of whether or not parents feel it is appropriate for their child? To date, that question remains unanswered. We would encourage you to speak to your elected officials and ask them to consider addressing a provision for parental opt out in the upcoming 2015 Legislative session. It would take a significant amount of students opting out of statewide assessments to truly impact the federal funding that districts receive under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Watch a video with reaction and commentary concerning the AG’s opinion HERE.

Read the official document from the Wyoming Attorney General  HERE.

Contact the AG’s Department and let them know your how you feel concerning this decision HERE.