Take Action! Advocate for an Elected State Board of Education: Legislators Ask to Hear from the People!

Advocate for an Elected State Board of Education:

Legislators Ask to Hear from the People!

The budget footnote that prohibited the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards demonstrates that the legislature is responding to the people’s concerns over standards adoption and data collection and sharing in Wyoming.

We now have a tremendous opportunity before us!  This is the legislature’s way of responding to the flood of communication they’ve received over education issues this year, and it’s a golden opportunity to be heard.

Let legislators know that you think the State Board should be an elected body, accountable to the people, not political appointees. This would begin a return to local control over education in Wyoming.

THIS FRIDAY  April 25th

Joint Education Committee Hearing

9:00am

Room 302 of the Capitol Building

This public hearing is dealing with the organization of state administration of public education. One of the proposals has been to make the State Board of Education an elected, rather than appointed, body.

You may find the meeting announcement and a link to the agenda here. (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/interimCommittee/2014/04MTG0425.pdf)

TAKE ACTION:

  1. If possible, plan to attend the hearing and testify. Appearing in person has the greatest impact and allows you an opportunity establish relationship and credibility with legislators before and after the meeting. Bring 15 copies of your testimony or submit them to Dave Nelson at lso@wyoleg.gov.
  2. If you cannot attend, contact Dave Nelson at lso@wyoleg.gov with your written testimony, saying you are unable to attend but want to submit comment for the April 25th meeting of the Joint Education Committee.

Thank you for your help as we work to bring local control back to Wyoming Edcuation!

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WyLiberty in Education New Site and Survey!

Wyoming Liberty Group has a new WyLiberty in Education site. Please visit this site and take the quick survey, “Do You Believe Common Core Should be Removed from Wyoming?”

Be sure to sign up to receive information via email as well. The more resources we have to fight Common Core in our state the sooner we can see it removed!

 

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An Absence of Questions: Cindy McKee Testifies Against CCSS and for HB97

Cindy

An Absence of Questions

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.  My name is Cindy McKee.  I live in Savery, WY, where my husband Cody and I operate a cattle ranch.  I am a former public school teacher and am the mother of two children, 10 and 9 years of age.  Thank you for hearing my testimony today.

I am here to urge your support for HB97.  Personally humbled and thoroughly anguished over what I’ve learned over the past 11 months or so about centrally planned education reform sweeping Wyoming and the country, I also am filled at this moment with a deep sense of relief and gratitude toward Almighty God.  No matter the final outcome this month, this bill passed introduction, and has achieved for parents and other taxpayers what should have been constructed in 2009 when the catchy-sounding idea of Common Core was first brought back to Wyoming from places afar:  A genuine forum to ask the right questions about the wisdom of a path we are considering.

As was the first Constitutional Convention, such a forum is messy, it’s arduous, even ugly at times, but it’s within this framework, right here, that the people are actually represented.  I would submit that the entire process of this reform was carefully designed to avoid any real questions, and their absence is what allowed this initiative’s stealth.  It was hoped that Americans, being so busy and all, and with their appetite for brief, simplistic, appealing-sounding talking points that employ soaring language and evasive reassurances, would accept these points as fact and repeat them without bothering with inquiry.  Now that we are discussing why we may have need for an HB 97, we can finally ask them.

We are told:  “These standards are research-based, rigorous, and will ensure college and career readiness”.

Well, let’s dig in.  What is “research-based”?  Wouldn’t that imply that these standards as a whole have been tested and proven themselves in a school somewhere?  That we could actually demonstrate measurable student growth in a verifiable study conducted with a control group?  But that research doesn’t exist – though loaded with promises, there is no evidence from anywhere that these standards deliver results.  And for this we give up our sovereignty?  Or are we actually talking about individual pieces of the standards having some grounding in research?  In that case, couldn’t we also properly say that a new pain-relieving drug combining ibuprofen, morphine, and another untested chemical is research-based too?

Next, what exactly is “rigor”?  It sounds self-explanatory, rather implies higher content goals and more challenging work as a result, does it not?  Like, for example, mastering the times tables in second grade rather than third, or expanding the study of more challenging literature such as Shakespeare or Steinbeck.  Is that how you would explain it to a constituent?

Welcome to one of the most misused terms of the century.  If anything can be called “rigorous” about these utterly middle-range standards, it is the ceaseless demand for students to demonstrate heavily emphasized “strategies”, as exemplified clearly in the math standards, as they attempt to work their way toward mastering the actual content.  Items are now scored not only by the correct numeric answer but by demonstration of being able to navigate the prescribed strategy, even when a standard algorithm is the quickest and most efficient way to get there. The time being wasted and the misery caused in getting students to wrap their heads around playing out all these “strategies” is sad to watch, and probably the primary reason 500 early childhood experts came together to condemn the Common Core as developmentally inappropriate.

Further, a disturbing move toward “informational texts” over classic, traditional literature has been telegraphed and already partly put into place, under the guise that these texts will better prepare students for college and workforce since most materials read there are informational.  But where is the evidence that this practice actually leads to higher literacy and better prepares students for the world?  The full case for the power in real literature and the abuse of power that can be exercised over a people by limiting exposure to it cannot possibly be made in my limited time, but let me make one point.

Does anyone here consider the Federalist Papers easy reading?  I certainly don’t.  Law students at prestigious colleges today struggle to read them and many professors don’t bother, but get this:  The Federalist Papers were material for newspapers in 1787.  They were aimed at the average reader.  Today, editors must restrict the reading level of articles to about the 6th grade to keep papers selling.  Now, what types of books were the people of this time primarily educated with that allowed them to reach this level of easily understanding complex informational text?  That would be the Bible, a book mainly comprised of story and history, but also including some poetry, some law and theological letters, plus a widely used history text by Plutarch called Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, and classical Greek and Roman literature.  I think we have reason to question the “informational text” craze, which often lands students in hopelessly boring, actually less challenging reading.

All right, now, exactly is meant by “career and college readiness”?  And why are these lumped together?  Are readiness for “career” and readiness for “college” really the same thing?  If they are, then what’s a college for?  Shouldn’t the college take care of the “career readiness” part?  Well, you’re right now, not everyone’s going to college.  But aren’t these really very different aims?  Wouldn’t readying students for “career” in high school necessarily compromise true readiness for “college”?  If so, wouldn’t that require some preplanning so students can focus on either “college” or “career” at some point in high school, or more efficiently, even earlier?  Why not just pick out the “career” kids really early and focus their training?  Can anyone see where this might be headed as “new evidence emerges” and future changes are deemed necessary to the Core?  Who will decide?

And since when is “college and career readiness” the total sum of an education?  Isn’t that really only a collateral purpose?  Let’s compare this limited aim to outcomes stated in the Massachusetts School Law of 1789, around the same time average readers could easily digest the Federalist Papers and Greek and Roman literature.  Teachers and instructors were directed to:

“…. impress on the minds of children and youth, committed to their care and instruction, the principles of piety, justice, and a sacred regard to truth, love to their country, humanity, and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry and frugality, chastity, moderation and temperance, and those other virtues which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which the Republican Constitution is structured.  And it shall be the duty of such instructors, to endeavor to lead those under their care (as their ages and capacities will admit) into a particular understanding of the tendency of the before mentioned virtues, to preserve and perfect a Republican Constitution, and to secure the blessings of liberty, as well as to promote their future happiness; and the tendency of the opposite vices to slavery and ruin.” 

These goals talk of shepherding and mentoring literate, virtuous, participating citizens who will actively guard liberty and eagerly pursue happiness. I can’t begin to think of students only as future workers, to be manipulated and cultivated like bacteria in a petri dish.

But this is a new age, reformers say.  Those ideas are “outdated” and we must make students ready for a “21st Century Global Economy”.  Wow.  The very phrase implies that America being involved in a “global economy” is a something brand new and challenging.  As if America had any history that did NOT involve trade and communications in a global economy. Common Core authors assure us that the Standards “lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century” and the Standards ready students for a “technological society”.  Well, now wait a minute.  I grew up without a computer, internet, cell phone, digital photography, or an immersion blender, yet I use all of them well today.  This is really shocking, but I actually taught school without a Smart board, though I’m not bad at using one now.  Did I somehow lose my literacy because technology brought me new tools for communication and work?  Isn’t literacy just…literacy?  Do we really have to be an educrat to know the answer?

And…if the Common Core is only Standards, not curriculum, then why is it written as a set of goals with prescribed strategies intertwined?  When we compare to other high-achieving countries or proven, successful standards, we don’t find that element.  Aren’t standards supposed to be just goals, and the strategies come in as school districts select from various curricula and teachers select and employ the many methods they are trained in?  Isn’t this just going to limit the variations that could appear in “Common Core Aligned Curriculum Materials?”  And with teacher’s jobs and kids futures now so heavily linked to tests, we can safely assume, can’t we, that curriculum will quickly follow what is on these tests?  That’s not choice or control.

I simply must challenge another vague but nice-sounding talking point here.  Only Friday, the Casper-Star Tribune, in its reporting on HB97 passing introduction, faithfully reminded us that the “Common Core Standards were developed by a group of states”.  In other words, they were “State-Led”.  Newspapers repeat it.  Educators repeat it.  Legislators repeat it.  Again, sounds good, easy to remember, the meaning is thoughtlessly assumed.  But I ask you:  What’s your definition of the “state”?  Somehow, I managed to use my pre- “technological society” literacy to employ a 21st-century online version of a rather antiquated tool:  the dictionary.   A “state” is a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.  Now…what’s our form of government here?  That would be a republic, by the people, for the people.  Isn’t that kind of…the legislature?  Who was here in 2009 or perhaps a little before?  Which piece of legislation did you pass to authorize “leading” us into the CCSS initiative?  Never mind, I already know.

Casper Star, like so many, never questioned the assurance they found in well planned, nationally circulated, robotically repeated talking points.  But the newspaper’s statement could only be true if we buy the notion that that our Governor and our State Superintendent of Schools, and subsequently an unelected State Board of Education, can possibly be considered “the state”.  Sounds like you all might just be out of a job.  And if the people of the “states” that supposedly “led” this movement thought it was such a great idea, why does the federal government now have an RFP out for $5 million for a communications strategy to sell the populace on it?

We’re mincing words when we argue about whether this is a “federal” initiative or not.  Anything the federal government enforces, by way of awarding or withholding taxpayer money, answers to the federal government and becomes subject to it.  Actually, this is worse than a federal government initiative.  Their “investment” enforces a privately developed reform, which was completed in secret where decision makers had to agree in writing to maintain confidentiality – no public documents, hearings, or minutes as would appear in an actual “state”.  Does this reflect the way decisions are supposed to be made in a republic?  Are we really supposed to trust in a process that does things this way?

On Wednesday, Representative Wilson argued on the floor of the house against this bill by stating that school districts don’t need chaos and instability.  Who could not agree?  What an utterly foolish decision by leaders to proceed this way, bypassing any kind of genuine process and putting teachers in this awful position.  As a former teacher enduring change after change, I deeply and truly empathize.  But the ultimate question is…what’s more important here?  Moving on to quality standards with proven results, or preserving the comfort of educators by staying a course that is not only inferior, but cedes authority outside our state, making the problems difficult, if not later impossible, to rectify?  Are we really proposing sacrificing our own children so we don’t upset the apple cart?

And speaking of teachers and school districts, here’s another set of zingers:  At what point in this broken process were teachers ever exposed to an environment of discussing pros and cons of Common Core in an unbiased way?  When did teachers ever get to engage the critical thinking skills we all say we want taught to our kids?  Ask hard questions, like who is David Coleman and exactly what qualifies him to write ELA standards?  Or any of the questions I’ve asked above?

The answer is, they never were.  Like state leaders, they were only presented a sales pitch, theirs in the form of  “inservice training” and worse, the sales pitch left no room for any kind of consumer decision.  Teachers were never, not once, presented with potential pitfalls as well as potential advantages, and then asked, “Well, do you think this whole thing is a good idea?” I even count teachers on the standards review committee when I say this, because by the time the review process had begun in Wyoming for ELA and Math Standards in Wyoming, the Governor and State Superintendent had already committed us to the standards by an MOU, as had the school districts when they hastily signed upon the request of the WDE (in 4 days!) their own MOU to authorize the state to apply for RttT funds.  RttT applications required a commitment to “Common Standards” (only one set out there, folks) to have any real chance of winning.  What do you suppose all that said to the group of primarily teachers (who are employed by the state) in their “official” capacity of recommending standards for adoption?  Weren’t those MOUs pretty much a mandate to the committee and the Board?

The broken process is still in force today.  Remember, the Next Generation Science Standards have NOT been adopted in Wyoming, they are being considered.  But somehow teachers know they are coming, even though public comment isn’t even on the schedule yet.  Get this: the subject of a master’s thesis a teacher I very much respect is working on deals with how Common Core ELA standards can be effectively integrated into NGSS lessons in the elementary classroom.  Now, how is it she feels utterly safe that she will not be wasting her time with this topic?  Is THAT the way we do things here?

Representative Wilson also wondered “how many teachers were asked about this idea”, and that this bill’s posting date didn’t allow them time to respond to it.  Well, after all this time and training, I would counter, how in the world are teachers supposed to respond?  Haven’t they already been told, years ago now, before CCSS was even officially adopted, that this was coming, that it was fantabulous and it was time to get rolling on it?  And isn’t it now their JOB to implement it?  Even if they don’t have concerns that they are afraid to express, many are too invested in it now to want to stop.  Who can blame them?

This is why we need HB 97.  It gives us a chance at a real process to improve educational standards in Wyoming, one that genuinely involves the public rather than a meaningless public comment period never shown to have any effect at the very end of the process.  HB 97 limits data collection to only that which is necessary, puts penalties in place for unauthorized sharing and goes a long way in limiting how it may be shared legally.  HB 97 gets Wyoming its control back over education and puts us on a path for real, measurable educational improvement rather than empty promises accompanied by federal “encouragements” that bind our hands.  Most of all, HB 97 will give us a chance to put the inquiry, the critical thinking, the questions, and the elements of a republic back into educational decision making, not only for teachers but for the taxpayers and parents of these precious children in school.

HB97 Passes Introducation with 47-13 Vote! Continue Take Action Emails…

WyomingLeg From Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core

We witnessed the beauty of a free republic in action today in Cheyenne.  Concerned citizens turned out to speak face-to-face with Wyoming legislators.  As this happened, we watched “no” votes turn into “yes” votes as concerned parents challenged the claims that have been made to support the Common Core State Standards, and articulated the many issues that come with them.  The valuable conversations that took place will now be allowed to continue as this bill advances to the House Education Committee.

The efforts of the grassroots were bolstered by the presence of national leaders Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Erin Tuttle and Emmett McGroarty, Esq.  After an inspirational and empowering event the night prior, these leaders accompanied citizens to the Capitol for the bill introduction and proved an invaluable support.

Two articles have covered this important step towards winning this battle to take back education in Wyoming.  Read Shane Vander Hart’s article from Truth in American Eduation here.  Also, another article from WyoFile,  quotes Representative John Freeman’s (D-Rock Springs) “experiment” quote supporting Common Core here.

A second house bill addressing Common Core, Smarter Balanced, and student data collection and sharing (HB168) is expected to be introduced by the end of the week.  Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core supports any effort to safeguard students from the certain negative consequences of the current education reform agenda.  Even though we know we have a solid piece of legislation in HB 97 and for now will continue to direct our primary efforts here, we applaud the thought and  hard work put into this bill and are thrilled that so many in Wyoming are willing to step up, speak out, and take action.

While HB168 awaits introduction, we feel compelled to forge ahead with HB97 as this bill has already been assigned to the House Education committee.

We must once again ask for communication from you to our elected representatives.  Please contact the following committee members and express your support for HB97, keeping your message brief (personalizing it) and including a subject line that states your main request, as legislators are inundated during session and may only get to scanning their e-mails.  Sample subject lines might be “Please vote YES on HB97″ or “HB97 Yes”.  The House Education committee emails are:

Jerry.Paxton@wyoleg.gov, Garry.Piiparinen@wyoleg.gov, Hans.Hunt@wyoleg.gov, David.Northrup@wyoleg.gov, Matt.Teeters@wyoleg.gov, Cathy.Connolly@wyoleg.gov, Albert.Sommers@wyoleg.gov, John.Patton@wyoleg.gov, John.Freeman@wyoleg.gov

 

Click here to see the 1-page overview of the bill which will help you communicate your thoughts.  Thank you so very much…your efforts have made their mark on the legislature, and the only way to keep it going is to keep up the pressure!

Exciting Development in Cheyenne! MEET Rock Star CC Experts! Support NEEDED!!

MEET & GREET with House Bill Overview

February 11th from 7-9 PM

EVERYONE is ASKED TO ATTEND an amazing event at the Kiwanis Community House in Cheyenne! Three national leaders, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Erin Tuttle, and Emmett McGroarty, will be guests (SEE BIOS BELOW).  There will be an overview of the education reform bill and information on its introduction that will take place on February 12th at the Capitol.  The Meet & Greet will also allow time for questions, answers, and mingling.

MAPS and MORE INFO HERE to TAKE BACK WYO EDU in Cheyenne!!!

It is VITAL that anyone that can attend the budget session in Cheyenne next week attend to support Representative Tom Reeder’s bill to remove Common Core, SBAC, and the SLDS (with stronger wording on data privacy) in Wyoming.  Please view Rep. Reeder’s site here to get further clarification on how to support it. You can also contact him with your support if you cannot make it to Cheyenne.

TomReeder

State Representative Tom Reeder’s Site                         PLEASE RSVP for the Meet & Greet

SPECIAL GUESTS!

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Dr. Sandra Stotsky is credited with developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students as well as the strongest academic standards and licensure tests for prospective teachers while serving as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999-2003. She is also known nation-wide for her in-depth analyses of the problems in Common Core’s English language arts standards. Her current research ranges from the deficiencies in teacher preparation programs and teacher licensure tests to the deficiencies in the K-12 reading curriculum and the question of gender bias in the curriculum. She is regularly invited to testify or submit testimony to state boards of education and state legislators on bills addressing licensure tests, licensure standards, and Common Core’s standards (e.g., Utah, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Texas). She currently serves on several committees for the International Dyslexia Association and on the advisory board for Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform. She served on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Systemic Initiative (2009-2010), on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2006-2008), co-authoring its final report as well as two of its task group reports, on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (2006-2010), and on the Steering Committee in 2003-2004 for the framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading assessments for 2009 onward.

Erin Tuttle is a Co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core. She was publicly recognized by Governor Mike Pence for her efforts in passing anti-Common Core legislation in Indiana. She has written extensively on the deficiencies of the standards and has testified before the Indiana Senate. Her organization continues to do educational research and has provided commentary on the Common Core Standards for the Bill Bennett Show, NPR, and local talk radio shows across the country. Their research and comments have been cited by National Review Online, EdWeek, StateImpact and EducationNext.

Emmett McGroarty is the Executive Director of American Principles Project on education. He has led APP Common Core in its mission to defend the rights of parents and promote the future of children. He has published ground-breaking reports on the federal takeover of education (Townhall Magazine, March 2011), its lawless tracking of private child and family data (The New York Post, December 2011), and its lawless infliction of radical values curricula on children (Public Discourse, January 2012). Emmett is a frequent media guest, and his written works have appeared in publications such as Townhall Magazine, The New York Post, The Washington Times, and Public Discourse. He is a graduate of the Fordham School of Law and Georgetown University.

American Principle Project’s Video Summary from Common Core Conference at Notre Dame

*Updated* Take Action – Jan. 8th

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Happy New Year! We have taken a rest to enjoy the Christmas season but are ready again to advocate for the education of Wyoming’s children as we head into 2014.

We want to thank you for signing the letter to Governor Mead that was delivered in December. There were 1165 signatures on the letter and 160 more have been added since then. We are still collecting signatures at http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/letter-governor/

It would be unfortunate for our letter to be overlooked as the Governor-appointed State Board of Education meets this month. The Governor letter stated “We implore you to advise the appointed State Board of Education not to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards at their January meeting.” The Next Generation Science Standards are on the agenda to be discussed and possibly voted into the next phase of the adoption process at the State Board meeting on January 23rd/24th.

TAKE ACTION BY MONDAY: Write the Governor and let him know that you are interested to know of his official response to the letter presented to him on Dec. 9th and the requests outlined therein. If you signed the petition you may want to say something to the effect of, “I was one of the over 1100 concerned parents/constituents who signed the letter delivered to you on Dec 9th. I would like to know of your official response to the letter and the requests made therein.” The original letter can be viewed here for your convenience: http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/letter-governor/

It is important for the Legislature and the State Board of Education to be aware of our requests as well, so please “cc” their emails into your message. The emails are below.

We will be sending out “Take Action” items weekly since the State Board is meeting in a few weeks and then the Legislative budget session begins in early February.

Also, we would like your permission to add your email to our subscriber list. If you haven’t done so already please consider giving us your permission to do so by clicking on the “subscribe” button on the following link: http://wyomingcitizensopposingcommoncore.com/call-action-weekly-item/

Thank you again for participating in the effort to keep local, quality education in Wyoming schools.

Sincerely,

Wyoming Citizens Opposing Common Core
“To”(Governor’s email): governor@wyo.gov

“CC” (Legislature & SBE Emails):

Jim.Anderson.SD02@wyoleg.gov, Hank.Coe@wyoleg.gov, Bill.Landen@wyoleg.gov,
Phil.Nicholas@wyoleg.gov, Chris.Rothfuss@wyoleg.gov, steve.harshman@wyoleg.gov,
Mike.Madden@wyoleg.gov, Tim.Stubson@wyoleg.gov, Matt.Teeters@wyoleg.gov,
Mary.Throne@wyoleg.gov, Mark.Baker@wyoleg.gov, Eric.Barlow@wyoleg.gov,
Rosie.Berger@wyoleg.gov, Stan.Blake@wyoleg.gov, Dave.Blevins@wyoleg.gov,
Gregg.Blikre@wyoleg.gov, Kermit.Brown@wyoleg.gov, Donald.Burkhart@wyoleg.gov,
James.Byrd@wyoleg.gov, Rita.Campbell@wyoleg.gov, Richard.Cannady@wyoleg.gov,
Kathy.Coleman@wyoleg.gov, Cathy.Connolly@wyoleg.gov, Kathy.Davison@wyoleg.gov,
John.Eklund@wyoleg.gov, Ken.Esquibel@wyoleg.gov, Lee.Filer@wyoleg.gov,
John.Freeman@wyoleg.gov, Gerald.Gay@wyoleg.gov, Keith.Gingery@wyoleg.gov,
Patrick.Goggles@wyoleg.gov, Mike.Greear@wyoleg.gov, Matt.Greene@wyoleg.gov,
Marti.Halverson@wyoleg.gov, Elaine.Harvey@wyoleg.gov, Hans.Hunt@wyoleg.gov,
Lynn.Hutchings@wyoleg.gov, Allen.Jaggi@wyoleg.gov, Norine.Kasperik@wyoleg.gov,
Dan.Kirkbride@wyoleg.gov, Kendell.Kroeker@wyoleg.gov, Samuel.Krone@wyoleg.gov,
Lloyd.Larsen@wyoleg.gov, Tom.Lockhart@wyoleg.gov, Bunky.Loucks@wyoleg.gov,
Tom.Lubnau@wyoleg.gov, Robert.McKim@wyoleg.gov, David.Miller@wyoleg.gov,
Glenn.Moniz@wyoleg.gov, Bob.Nicholas@wyoleg.gov, David.Northrup@wyoleg.gov,
John.Patton@wyoleg.gov, Jerry.Paxton@wyoleg.gov, Ruth.Petroff@wyoleg.gov,
Garry.Piiparinen@wyoleg.gov, Tom.Reeder@wyoleg.gov, Mark.Semlek@wyoleg.gov,
Albert.Sommers@wyoleg.gov, Sue.Wallis@wyoleg.gov, Tom.Walters@wyoleg.gov,
Stephen.Watt@wyoleg.gov, Sue.Wilson@wyoleg.gov, Nathan.Winters@wyoleg.gov,
David.Zwonitzer@wyoleg.gov, Dan.Zwonitzer@wyoleg.gov, Jim.Anderson.SD28@wyoleg.gov,
Paul.Barnard@wyoleg.gov, Eli.Bebout@wyoleg.gov, Bruce.Burns@wyoleg.gov,
Cale.Case@wyoleg.gov, Leland.Christensen@wyoleg.gov, Stan.Cooper@wyoleg.gov,
Bernadine.Craft@wyoleg.gov, Dan.Dockstader@wyoleg.gov, Ogden.Driskill@wyoleg.gov,
Fred.Emerich@wyoleg.gov, Floyd.Esquibel@wyoleg.gov, Gerald.Geis@wyoleg.gov,
John.Hastert@wyoleg.gov, Larry.Hicks@wyoleg.gov, John.Hines@wyoleg.gov,
Wayne.Johnson@wyoleg.gov, Curt.Meier@wyoleg.gov, Leslie.Nutting@wyoleg.gov,
Drew.Perkins@wyoleg.gov, Ray.Peterson@wyoleg.gov, Tony.Ross@wyoleg.gov,
John.Schiffer@wyoleg.gov, Charles.Scott@wyoleg.gov, Michael.VonFlatern@wyoleg.gov,
joe.reichardt@wyoboards.gov, sue.belish@wyoboards.gov, kathy.coon@wyoboards.gov,
pete.gosar@wyo.gov, hugh.hageman@wyoboards.gov, scotty.ratliff@wyoboards.gov,
walt.wilcox@wyoboards.gov, kathryn.sessions@wyoboards.gov, belenda.willson@wyoboards.gov,
ken.rathbun@wyoboards.gov, ron.micheli@wyoboards.gov, marykay.hill@wyo.gov

Next Generation Science Standards Concerns

NGSS_LOGO

Below is an excellent breakdown of the problems with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) created by members of  WyomingCitizensOpposingCommonCore.com.  They have also created a brochure to print and hand out with similar information ==>HERE.

I am posting this information to give  parents  talking points for their local school boards about their concerns.  Please consider passing this information on to your local Conservation District chapters and any other organizations you think may be willing to get involved.
The State Board of Education is supposed to vote on the NGSS at their upcoming board meeting in Cheyenne on January 23, 24- so time is of the essence. 

Concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards

Lack of Quality

  • there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course
  • misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content

Opposes Some Wyoming Values

  •  Wyoming’s economy revolves around mining and agriculture, the NGSS have a heavy negative slant at the use of such resources
  • Are regulations, international treaties and alternative energy sources Wyoming’s ideal for solutions to the “negative impacts of human activity?”
  • Does Wyoming value one-sided, unsupported viewpoints as fact?

Non-Objective

  • Religiously non-neutral which would lead to indoctrination, not education
  • Fail to distinguish for students the various definitions of evolution, leading them to assume that the word always denotes the same thing
  • Unconstitutional according to the Wyoming Constitution

Pending Court Case

  • A non-profit in Kansas has filed a complaint against the Kansas Department of Education regarding the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Kansas and Wyoming are both under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Therefore, if a ruling is made at that level, it will apply to Wyoming as well
  • Wyoming should delay the consideration of the NGSS until this case is resolved

 

Lack of Quality

Nine scientists and mathematicians reviewed NGSS for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Fordham gave the standards an overall grade of “C,” (the NAEP and TIMSS standards received the grade of A- from the Fordham Institute).

Overview:  “The NGSS fall short of excellence in several ways, including:

  • overemphasis on practices over essential context
  • omission of much essential content
  • failure to integrate mathematics content that is essential to science learning
  • use of assessment boundaries that put arbitrary ceilings on the content that will be assessed and therefore taught at each grade”

Clarity and Specificity: The presentation of the NGSS is cumbersome and difficult to navigate.  In addition, too many individual performance expectations are vague and poorly worded, with broad references to concepts that lack specific guidance about what, precisely, students should know and be able to do.”

http://www.edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2013/20130820-NGSS-Appendix-Review-and-State-Comparisons/NGSS-comparison-table-wyoming.pdf

Another problem Fordham reviewers found is NGSS focuses on students “performing” at the expense of “memorizing.”   They indicate that in this case “content takes a backseat to practices.” The Fordham report suggests that science education should “build knowledge first so that students will have the storehouse of information and understanding that they need to engage in scientific reasoning and higher level thinking.”

http://www.eagleforum.org/publications/educate/july13/next-generation-science-standards-common-core-incognito.html

 In regards to Physical Science Fordham states:

“NGSS physical science coverage is mediocre throughout grades K–5 and declines rapidly in middle school, and still further at the high school level. Overall, the physical science standards fail to lay the foundation for advanced study in high school and beyond, and there is so little advanced content that it would be impossible to derive a high school physics or chemistry course from the content included in the NGSS.”

“Much of the NGSS document was not written with mathematics in mind.”

“(NGSS) misses several opportunities to build important links between grade- appropriate math and required science content.”

“Given the critical overlap between science and math, as well as the NGSS authors’ intention to align their science expectations with the Common Core math standards, these shortcomings signal a need for caution on the part of states that are serious about implementing the CCSS but that are also considering adopting the NGSS.”

http://www.edexcellence.net/sites/default/files/publication/pdfs/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7.pdf

Wyoming Values

 Does Wyoming believe that all/most human actions lead to negative consequences for the earth?

Agriculture and mining are essential to Wyoming.  There are responsible Wyomingites out there who are involved with agriculture and/or mining that make a living responsibly, efficiently and without destroying the earth.  This perspective is not mentioned in the NGSS.  On the contrary, the unproven negative effects of such practices are taught.  The following example is taken from the NGSS:

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.C: HUMAN IMPACTS ON EARTH SYSTEMS

“How do humans change the planet? Recorded history. . . indicates that human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major impacts on the land, rivers, ocean, and air. Humans affect the quality, availability, and distribution of Earth’s water through the modification of streams, lakes, and groundwater. Large areas of land, including such delicate ecosystems as wetlands, forests, and grasslands, are being transformed by human agriculture, mining, and the expansion of settlements and roads. Human activities now cause land erosion and soil movement annually that exceed all natural processes. Air and water pollution caused by human activities affect the condition of the atmosphere and of rivers and lakes, with damaging effects on other species and on human health. The activities of humans have significantly altered the biosphere, changing or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of many living species. These changes also affect the viability of agriculture or fisheries to support human populations.

The activities and advanced technologies that have built and maintained human civilizations clearly have large consequences for the sustainability of these civilizations and the ecosystems with which they interact.”

Performance Expectation: HS – Human Sustainability (Grade 9-12)

HS-ESS3-4.
Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-ESS3-3.
Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.

HS-ESS3-6.
Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

 

  • Does Wyoming value freedom and enterprise, or federal/international regulation?

The following is taken from the Framework behind the NGSS: “Some negative effects of human activities are reversible…Regulations regarding water and air pollution have greatly reduced acid rain and stream pollution, and international treaties on the use of certain refrigerant gases have halted the growth of the annual ozone hole…”

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13165&page=195

  • Does Wyoming value objective or unsupportive, non-objective education?

Non-Objective

  • The standards fail to present controversial issues objectively (such as climate change, renewable energy and sustainability.)
  • The standards are one-sided in that they disproportionately focus on negative effects of human interaction with the environment

Example:  ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Performance Expectation: MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity (Grades 6-8) MS-ESS3-5.

Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. [Clarification Statement: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion . . . and agricultural activity) . . . Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.]

Disciplinary Core Idea: ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming).

  • Teaches evolution as a fact, starting in elementary grades (current WY standards teach evolution as a theory, and not until 8th grade)

Example:  “By the end of grade 2. Some kinds of plants and animals that once lived on Earth (e.g., dinosaurs) are no
longer found anywhere, although others now living (e.g., lizards) resemble them in some ways.”
(Grade Band Endpoints for LS4.A)

  • The standards address ultimate  religious questions and then use a doctrine or “Rule” that permits only   materialistic or functionally atheistic answers
  • The standards require a materialistic explanation for any phenomenon addressed by science
  • The standards are neither educationally objective nor religiously neutral, because an atheistic or materialistic worldview is consistently affirmed throughout.
  • The Standards fail to present legitimate scientific critiques of materialistic theories regarding the origins of the universe, of life and its diversity

Examples:  Core Idea LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

LS4.A: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity
LS4.B: Natural Selection
LS4.C: Adaptation
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans

Descriptions of these Core Ideas to follow:

The Framework for the NGSS describes the reasoning behind the Core Ideas:

  • There is diversity within species as well as between species. Yet what is learned about the function of a gene or a cell or a process in one organism is relevant to other organisms because of their ecological interactions and evolutionary relatedness. (Framework, page 139, emphasis added)
  • “Finally, the core ideas in the life sciences culminate with the principle that evolution can explain how the diversity that is observed within species has led to the diversity of life across species through a process of descent with adaptive modification. Evolution also accounts for the remarkable similarity of the fundamental characteristics of all species. (Framework, page 140, emphasis added)
  • Evolution and its underlying genetic mechanisms of inheritance and variability are key to understanding both the unity and the diversity of life on Earth. (Framework, page 141)
  • Evolution thus explains both the similarities of genetic material across all species and the multitude of species existing in diverse conditions on Earth—its biodiversity—which humans depend on for natural resources and other benefits to sustain themselves. (Framework, page 161)
  • Biological evolution, the process by which all living things have evolved over many generations from shared ancestors, explains both the unity and the diversity of species.(Framework, page 162,emphasis added)

Bullets source: http://www.copeinc.org/docs/NGSS_PressRelease_final.pdf

Standards  source: http://edu.wyoming.gov/sf-docs/default-document-library/science_standards_draft_09-20-13_sbe_10-7-13.pdf2

Framework Source: http://www.nextgenscience.org/framework-k%E2%80%9312-science-education

The NGSS Are Unconstitutional In Wyoming

The Wyoming Constitution states in Article 7, Section 12 titled “Sectarianism prohibited.”

“No sectarian instruction, qualifications or tests shall be imparted, exacted, applied or in any manner tolerated in the schools of any grade or character controlled by the state, nor shall attendance be required at any religious service therein, nor shall any sectarian tenets or doctrines be taught or favored in any public school or institution that may be established under this constitution.”

The word “sect” is defined as “a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine.”  And doctrine is defined as “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.”

The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards would seem to be a violation of the state constitution.

Pending Court Case

  • The Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards is the subject of a lawsuit filed in a Federal District Court in Kansas in September.
  • Kansas case is relevant to Wyoming because any appeal that goes to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals establishes the federal law, which will be applicable to Wyoming as well.
  • The lawsuit claims that the program seeks to establish an atheistic worldview in our children. Let me read you the first paragraph of the complaint:

“The Plaintiffs, consisting of students, parents and Kansas resident taxpayers, and a representative organization, complain that the adoption by the Defendant State Board of Education on June 11, 2013 of Next Generation Science Standards will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview (the “Worldview”) in violation of the Establishment, Free Exercise, and Speech Clauses of the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.”

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