Opting Out Part II

From KACC’s Lisa on OPTING OUT:

It (opting out) is stressful to me, too. I have been doing it for 3 years; and not just testing, but also opting out of nearly all things technology based. However, we have to because teachers and school district administrations are not applying any “critical thinking” in truly determining what is best for kids. (And, by the way, the schools consider YOUR kids to be THEIR kids. They operate the schools in a manner that elevates THEIR authority above parents.) Whether it’s because they are a newly minted product of our education system, or they just want to survive for themselves and their own families, the outcome is the same: the education of a child is the LAST consideration. Representation for the child is absent from the table. Parents are EXCLUDED and PUSHED OUT from being responsible for their child’s education. Every other “group” and “interest” has representation: teachers and other education institutions, business interests promoting their products and wanting worker bees, social agencies insisting their agendas be compulsorily pushed on every single child of our country, elected officials legislating greater CONTROL over people and using children to obtain and manipulate federal funds and promote their social agendas, and on and on.

And, everybody with a stake in education has deemed parents to be ill-equipped to understanding education. If I had a dime for every time a person in the education field asked me about my “background” in an attempt to try to discredit my questions regarding MY child’s education, I’d be in a much higher income level.

It’s YOUR child you are protecting. NOBODY or NO ORGANIZATION/AGENCY can better raise or make better decisions for YOUR CHILD than you.

When you press for accountability and answers from them, you will find THEY are the ones discredited. Parents have been incrementally and purposefully driven from being included and having responsibility for their children.

So….OPTING OUT and insisting on having a say in how your child is raised and education is what you HAVE TO DO. If you don’t EXERCISE your rights and responsibilities, you will LOSE them. IF YOU DON’T, you will wake up one day with NO ABILITY to decide what’s best for your child. My oldest child is almost 24 and my youngest is 9; our education system has moved significantly in the direction of parental exclusion from when our oldest was in kindergarten.

PLEASE, OPT OUT your children.

PLEASE, INSIST that your decisions regarding how your child is educated be complied with.

PLEASE, ACCEPT NOTHING LESS than full accountability. This includes everything from how funds are spent (state/local funding and PTO fundraising) to the explosion of technology in education (the results have not been proven and everyone else but you and your child are profiting from your child’s intellectual property).

It’s not bravery. You have no choice but to be what you are: THE parent. It’s the great and awesome blessing of being a parent. Your child has been given and entrusted to YOUR CARE and YOUR LOVE. They weren’t created by THE STATE; they were created from within YOU.

Gear up to Opt Out…Part I

I cannot believe I am typing this, but school is just around the corner. :(

Registration is coming up fast (next week for many of us!) and it is the perfect opportunity for you to get your kid(s) OPTED OUT of state testing.

It is recommended that parents to do this at the BEGINNING of the school year. (YES, you can do it at ANY time, but the beginning is best.) We all know about the “big” tests in the spring, which are called “summative” tests. But, there are also many, many smaller tests throughout the school year called “formative” tests. So, it is best that you OPT OUT of all of it. It’s VERY easy to OPT OUT.

Just write a note to your principal(s) saying you want to OPT OUT your kid(s) from all state testing–both formative and summative.

It is also suggested that you request that no data about your kid(s) “leave the building” unless it is required by law.

If ever there is a question about what you will or will not allow your child to participate in, make sure that the administration and the teachers all know your contact information and encourage them to make contact with you so that you can gather the information from them that you need to make a decision about whether or not to allow it.

Call To Action–NO to HR 5

NO to HR 5–Your calls and tweets are needed immediately!

PLEASE Call, Email, Tweet! ‪#‎StopHR5‬
Congressman Huelskamp 202-225-2715
Congresswoman Jenkins 202-225-6601
Congressman Pompeo 202-225-6216
Congressman Yoder 202-225-2865


ALERT: HR 5 will be voted on tomorrow (July 8, 2015) either at 1:30 pm or at 4:30 pm (EST)

Call to ACTION–Your Help is Immediately Needed

The American Principles Project has put together a list of 21 reasons not to approve the Every Child Achieves Act.

Please review this and make calls to Senator Roberts’ and Senator Moran’s offices. The vote could happen as early as Tuesday, July 7, so time is of the essence.

Jerry Moran’s Office: 202.224.6521

Pat Roberts’ Office: 202.224.4774

Remember to be polite but firm, and specifically ask that they vote NO on ECAA (Every Child Achieves Act).

*Pass this around to your friends/family in Kansas and also to your friends/family in other states and ask them to call their senators as well!

Again, time is of the essence and so please make these two phone calls on TUESDAY, JULY 7.






11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.


It’s rare that I like what Europe is doing or think what they are doing is better. However, there are many things about the way things in Finland work that just make sense. Kelly writes, in part, “Students in Finland start formal schooling at the age of seven. Yes, seven! Finland allows their children to be children, to learn through playing and exploring rather than sitting still locked up in a classroom. But don’t they get behind? No! The kids start school when they are actually developmentally ready to learn and focus. This first year is followed by only nine years of compulsory school. Everything after ninth grade is optional and at the age of 16 the students can choose from the following three tracks…”

Originally posted on Filling My Map:

When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we…

View original 3,269 more words

STOP ESEA 4/13/15

Ze’ev Wurman has testified in Kansas to help us stop CC. Stotsky is THE English standards guru of gurus. More about these people at the bottom of the article. These are good people who know their stuff. It is absolutely NOT worth passing a 600+ page bill that does not stop Common Core or remove the intrusive standardized testing.
We are URGING our followers to call their Senators and tell/ask them to STOP the re-authorization of ESEA. Pass the word to friends and family in Kansas and throughout the US.

*This is happening on Tuesday, 4/14/15
For Kansas residents: Senator Jerry Moran 202.224.6521 and Senator Pat Roberts 202.224.4774 (or 620.227.2244).
For all other states: http://www.senate.gov/…/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Taken straight FROM Jay P. Greene’s Blog :

Statement by Burke, Evers, Rebarber, Stotsky, and Wurman on ESEA

The following is a statement by Lindsey M. Burke, Williamson Evers, Theodor Rebarber, Sandra Stotsky, and Ze’ev Wurman that they asked me to post. I have not yet had a chance to think carefully about ESEA re-authorization, but I think their views are worth consideration:

Reauthorizing ESEA: The road to effective education is paved with local control and parent power

Lindsey M. Burke, Williamson Evers, Theodor Rebarber, Sandra Stotsky, and Ze’ev Wurman

In reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2015, Congress should restore the power of state and local governmental authorities. The law as it currently reads has centralized education and moved decision-making to a large and ever-growing federal bureaucracy — far from the schools most students attend.

The current drafts, both the Senate and the House versions, do not return authority to the states and localities or empower parents. The ESEA has evolved from what was described at the outset in 1965 as a measure to help children from low-income families into an instrument of testing mandates and federal control of public K-12 education and, increasingly, of private education as well. The road to effective education is paved with local control and parent power.

We need to reauthorize ESEA in a way that empowers parents and moves authority back to local communities and the state laboratories of democracy where it belongs. Moreover, the reauthorization should abandon the ill-considered idea planted in the Obama administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Flexibility Waivers that our high schools are simply college-prep factories. Instead, the reauthorization should return to the previous widely accepted idea that high schools should prepare young people for American citizenship and to fulfill their individual potential as they see fit. Toward that end, high schools should be permitted to establish several sets of challenging academic standards rather than a single set of standards that purport to deliver self-proclaimed (but actually meaningless) “college-readiness.” Similarly, instead of federal regulations that require that the testing “tail” wag the curriculum “dog,” communities and charter schools must be able to select reliable assessments that align with their locally established curriculum.

Recent attempts to provide better educational opportunities to low-income children through one-size-fits-all requirements and increased federal testing mandates in the various versions of ESEA since its inception have met with little success. As education researcher Helen Ladd concluded in her comments on a 2010 Brookings Institution paper by Thomas Dee and Brian Jacob:

“… First, the null findings for reading indicate to me that to the extent that higher reading scores are an important goal for the country, NCLB is clearly not the right approach. That raises the obvious follow-up question: what is?…

“[T]he suggestive evidence that I have included here on Massachusetts [indicates] that states may be in a better position to promote student achievement than the federal government.”

The 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should restore power to states and localities by allowing states, school districts, and charter schools to opt out fully and completely from the programs and regulations of ESEA, currently reauthorized as No Child Left Behind. When they opt out, states, local school districts, and charter schools would formally and publicly explain the accountability measures that they would use to assure that federal dollars improve the K-12 education of disadvantaged children. They would also provide the rationale that supports these measures.

States and local authorities would thereby be in a position to direct federal dollars to their students’ most pressing education needs. By this we mean that the 2015 reauthorization should follow the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS) approach, which has been offered in previous years.

In addition, the 2015 reauthorization should:

Eliminate mandates, including, but not limited to: Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), federal prescription of annual grade-level testing for each student, the Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) mandate, and maintenance of effort (MOE) regulations. The reauthorized act should not require a single statewide set of standards or assessments in each state, nor approval or review of any state or local district or charter school standards or assessments by the U.S. Department of Education. It should instead allow states, local school districts and charters the choice of what grades and subjects to test, and the number of tests, letting them choose from among a wide range of state-approved standards and aligned valid and reliable tests. Those states that believe annual grade-level testing in specified subjects of each student doesn’t improve student learning could drop it, while those states who believe such testing makes their state more competitive and is useful for teacher and school accountability could keep it. They should provide parents and taxpayers with reasons for their choice. Eliminating the prescriptive and ineffective Highly Qualified Teacher mandate would put states instead in a position to improve teacher quality by requiring teachers to demonstrate content mastery of the subject matter they teach, instead of having to use false measures of effectiveness, such as paper credentials and licensure.

Eliminate programs and, correspondingly, eliminate the spending tied to those programs. The reauthorization bill should eliminate the competitive grant programs that have accumulated over the years (some 60 programs) and cut appropriations for those programs to zero. The proliferation of competitive grant programs is one of the primary means by which Washington has increased its intervention in local school policy over the decades.

Make Title I money portable. Any reauthorization of ESEA should provide states the option to make their Title I dollars portable to follow students to any public or private school of choice. This idea has been fleshed-out by the Brookings Institution’s Russ Whitehurst. Writing in EducationNext magazine, Whitehurst suggested:

Rather than the complicated federal schemes under which funds are currently disbursed to districts, funds should be attached to the student. Individual schools would receive federal funds based on student counts, with a weighting formula to adjust for factors such as the increased burden of educating high-need students and for regional differences in costs. Sometimes called “backpack funding,” weighted funding that follows the student has been shown to direct proportionally more funds to schools that serve needy students than traditional distribution schemes.

Portability of Title I funding, however, does not mean federal mandates should also be portable. Specifically, portability must not be used to extend federal or state standards and testing mandates to any private school that receives funds under the act. Such an extension must be prohibited by specific language in ESEA.

Strengthen prohibitions against national standards and tests. So long as federal K-12 competitive grant programs, conditional waivers, and conditional grants-in-aid exist, the federal education bureaucracy will have trouble resisting the temptation to dictate curriculum content. Despite prohibitions already existing in three federal statutes against meddling in curriculum, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education incentivized states to adopt curriculum-content standards (the Common Core), and they funded national tests designed to secure those content standards in place.

Language in any reauthorization should underscore that the federal government is prohibited from directing curricula, and should further ensure that the federal government may not condition or award preferences in federal grants or contracts to states that adopt any particular academic content standards, tests or curricula, including but not limited to the Common Core standards.

With specific regard to the proposal put forward by Sen. Lamar Alexander, entitled the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015 (a title problematic in and of itself as it continues the notion that high schools are little more than college-prep or career factories), the proposal includes language that runs counter to the goal of restoring state and local control of education. It includes, for example, an assurance that states have “state standards aligned with entrance requirements, without the need for academic remediation, for an institution of higher education in the State.” This assurance needs to be eliminated.

Additionally, to allow for multiple standards and assessments, the language included in the draft that state assessments “are the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all students;” also needs to be eliminated. If the same assessment must be used for all students in the state, there is no possibility of multiple assessments. Moreover, if the authors are serious about restoring state and local control of education, there can be no peer review process of state plans dictated from the federal level, as the current proposal requires. There must also be no federal directives on what local report cards should look like, as the current proposal also contains.

The proposal should also go further in prohibiting the collection of individual student data from the state or other entities. It should also prohibit the federal collection of individual student data from states, contractors, and grantees and prohibit the Secretary of Education from possessing individual student data. All language mandating the content of local report cards should be removed. Parents must be empowered to shape the kind of information they want the teachers they hire and pay for to give them. Report cards are part of local accountability, which must be retained.

Above all, any reauthorization of ESEA should take meaningful steps toward curtailing federal overreach into local school policy. Reauthorization should roll back the host of programs and mandates that burden states and local boards, and allow states, school districts and charter schools to opt out completely, and allow school policy to be set at the local level. For the sake of our children and the future liberty of our country, we need to restore local control of education.


Lindsey M. Burke is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, Williamson M. Evers is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former U.S. assistant secretary of education for planning, evaluation, and policy development, Theodor Rebarber is CEO of AccountabilityWorks, Sandra Stotsky is professor emerita in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Ze’ev Wurman is a former senior policy adviser with the U.S. Department of Education. This article reflects our views individually, not necessarily the views of our organizations.

HB2292 Run Down with Commentary

The House Education Committee vote on HB 2292 to repeal Common Core was last Friday, March 20th. The bill did not pass out of the committee. This important topic affects more than 470,000 Kansas children and families, has a direct impact on the education budget (50% of Kansas’ overall budget), and has been a consistent issue that legislators (including the Governor) admit to hearing about often from “the people.” Tragically, your elected officials are not acting on this issue based on the VERY CLEAR message they hear from you.

Prior to Friday’s vote, proponents of HB 2292 were given exactly 45 minutes during one scheduled hearing day—45 minutes to discuss the many complexities and concerns about Common Core. The liquor licensing bill received 3 days of hearings. No questions were allowed at the hearing for HB 2292. No informational meetings were offered, as suggested by other committee chairs. That’s the best that could be done for Kansas kids??! Here’s a summary of the meeting on Friday the 20th, a meeting that was for the purpose of “discussion and possible action on HB 2292”:

The bill was reintroduced and a reviser delivered a brief summary of the bill. Without ANY discussion of HB 2292, Amanda Grosserode (R)-Lenexa, introduced an 11th hour “substitute” bill. Understand that Rep. Grosserode, who herself commented on her lengthy tenure on this committee, has never proactively put forth a bill to be fully vetted by the public and the legislature. This bill was only introduced in opposition to other proposed legislation. And, it was not even made known to the public until being introduced at this meeting. In fact, the words “Common Core” were not even in her substitute! This substitute did not even call for new standards until 2017, and even then, as pointed out by committee members, “This substitute just maintains the status quo. Why adopt it?” Ultimately, the vote on this distraction did not pass.

Here are some of Rep. Grosserode’s comments made at the meeting (our comments are in italics):
• Difficult topic and issue; have current concerns about the standards
• The “way” we have gone about this (referring to HB2292) has failed to move the needle at all
• She met with the revisors the day prior to this meeting to draft her proposed substitute bill
• Her substitute:
o Recognizes the current system in play
o New standards would be in place in 2017 (Two more years of kids under Common Core standards and the aligned curriculums and assessments. That’s her best proposal?)
o The legislature must adopt/approve the new standards (This is the only part of her proposal that we agree with. It is in HB2292. It’s interesting that Rep. Grosserode’s prior claim of this aspect being “unconstitutional,” and being subsequently rebutted by Sec. Kobach, became a part of her proposal.)
o The substitute calls for reverting to 2010 standards in 2017 if the legislature does not adopt/approve the new standards developed through the normal process. (Since the proposed substitute bill does not explicitly state that Common Core and all its alignments must be removed from Kansas, then what prevents the new standards to be approved in 2017 from being Common Core standards with another name on them? This is what has happened in other states that passed legislation. HB2292 was written to be constitutionally sound and ensure Common Core is truly gone.)
o Must take into account the Rose standards.
o There are some good things in the Common Core standards.

Comments by Rep. Bradford in support of the proposed substitute include:
• Plan to use the existing system to get rid of Common Core
• We will have “new Kansas standards” (How the existing system –under which Common Core was adopted– is supposed to remove Common Core and ensure new standards is not understood.)
• The “perfect” bill will only die in committee
• This substitute is a bill that gets the job done and gets bi-partisan support to get it out of committee

Ultimately the vote on this distraction did not pass.

Understand that while no specifics were ever offered, either at this hearing or in the two months this bill had been made public, assertions are lobbed out there to, in our opinion, cause confusion and inaction. This is a common tactic used by people to take down the opposition when they don’t want to or can’t openly discuss an issue.
These types of assertions include (and were heard at the meeting):
“The committee hasn’t heard from those affected, specifically the students.” (Again all your calls, emails and visits haven’t counted?)
“The bill won’t pass because of its flaws.”
“I don’t know too many that are more conservative than I, but I must deal with other legislators.”
“There’s a wide range of disagreement on HB2292.”
“Am going to pass ‘something’ out of committee.” (It’s easier to vote for “something” that does nothing.)

Additional comments made at the meeting:
“Coordination between the state school board members and the legislature will get Common Core gone.” (Great, agreement between the KS school board members who are staunchly pro-Common Core and a legislature that won’t take on Common Core. How exactly does that remove Common Core?)
“Want KS kids to know what kids from other states do.”
“Are we not supposed to teach kids to count to 100?”
“One size doesn’t fit all. Common Core meets that challenge. It differentiates. Teachers and schools get to decide what to do.”
“Common Core is the first time teachers have been able to teach critical thinking.”
“Kansas College and Career Ready Standards IS Kansas standards, not Common Core.”

Next, John Bradford (R)-Lansing presented two different amendments, both of which did not pass and had little to do with actually repealing Common Core or protecting our kids. After about an hour and a half, time which could have been spent discussing Common Core’s predatory nature and the merits and questions regarding HB2292, there was an abrupt call to vote on the bill (HB 2292). Someone “seconded” the motion just nanoseconds later. The obviously orchestrated plan to kill our bill– before it could be duly considered– continued. Before any real discussion, the vote was allowed to proceed. HB 2292 did not pass. The vote was 10-7 (with one abstaining).

Here’s how they voted:

J Barker (R) (Abilene) –no
T Barton (R) (Leavenworth)-yes
S Boldra (R) (Hays) –no
J Bradford (R) (Lansing) – yes
C Bridges (R) (Wichita) – no
R Bruchman (R) (Leawood) – no
D Dierks (R) (Salina) – no
W Dove (R) (Bonner Springs) – yes
J Ewy (R) (Jetmore) – no
A Grosserode (R) (Lenexa) – yes
D Hedke (R) (Wichita) – yes
J Lunn (R) (Overland Park) -yes
N Lusk (D) (Overland Park) – no
C Macheers (R) (Shawnee) – yes
M Rhoades (R) (Newton) – abstained
C Smith (R) (Pittsburg) – no
E Trimmer (R) (Winfield) – no
V Winn (D) (Kansas City) – no
Chair- Highland (R) (Wamego) – (did not vote)

Regarding the “yes” votes for HB 2292 by two members of this committee, Amanda Grosserode and John Bradford, both were approached repeatedly by this board (early and often) to seek their support for HB 2292 and to iron out any language issues, so as to secure a viable Common Core repeal bill this session to protect Kansas kids. They refused to offer any honest, substantive critiques; instead they listened to detractors who spewed false claims like, “It isn’t constitutional,” and “It will result in a lawsuit by the school board,” or “It will have a $100M fiscal note” – sensational stuff. Politics. It was, from January on: “We don’t have the votes in the house to pass this,” or “We don’t have the votes to pass this out of committee.” Our efforts to meet with them, hear their concerns, and work to favorably pass HB2292 out of committee were not met by them. Instead, they worked to not support HB2292 and offered a LAST MINUTE bill and amendments, and urged fellow committee members to join in support of these changes, to kill HB2292. They did vote “yes” to pass HB2292 out of committee, but considering everything they did prior to prevent its favorable reception and success, it’s difficult to think that it was truly a vote in favor, but rather a “cover” vote.