Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Smarter Balanced Update

Governor Snyder signed the School Omnibus Budget Bill on Tuesday.  Included in the budget was a provision that appears to have blocked the implementation of Smarter Balanced for one year by extending the MEAP.

This is obviously a good thing in many ways.  Thanks to your calls and the the hard work of lawmakers against the Common Core, we were able to cause enough of a stir and provoke a delay.
But what happens next is not clear.  Last year at this same time we had a delay in Common Core funding but by fall HCR 11, a meaningless resolution, was gaveled through by voice vote in the Senate restarted implementation.   There still remains the possibility that the “new” MEAP could contain content SBAC content.   So with good reason, we remain skeptical and cautious.

At this time, we are still encouraging parents to opt-out of all assessments and to vote out any lawmakers who support the Common Core.

A new opt out form will be available later this summer for you to use in the 2014-15 school year.
An Election 2014: Roll Call on the Common Core is available and continually updated to find out where candidates stand on the issue of Common Core.

I will post a follow-up with more details on the assessments and possible outcomes as I research and talk to key lawmakers.  Stay tuned.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Common Core: A cradle-to-career pathway to servitude

Governor Snyder said in his 2011 State of the State Addresss,
"We’ve been spending money without delivering the results to give our young people a bright future. It is time that we view our educational system which runs from pre-natal to lifelong learning. It’s time to start talking about P-20 instead of just K-12. We need to establish a system that focuses on real achievement for all of our children. ”
Holland Public Schools has hopped on board Governor Snyder's P-20 train through the Cradle-to-Career Initiative.  The graphic on their website,  copied below says it all.

Picture 32

Looking at this graphic makes it easier to understand many of the recent initiatives enacted in Michigan. The initiatives listed below may appear disconnected but together they build the P-20 cradle-to-career education pathway envisioned by President Obama, Governor Snyder, major corporations, and many others.
The cradle to career scheme is designed for a managed economy that meets the demand of the state not the dreams of the child.  As students travel the P-20 pathway, their data is collected and stored in Governor Snyder's P-20 State Longitudinal Data System and shared with whoever may have a legitimate educational interest.  Data drives the decisions from birth into the workforce.

Picture 5

The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) insures that their education data will be connected to the workforce.
DQC encourages states to securely link their prekindergarten through grade 12 systems with postsecondary and workforce systems. This way states can better understand student pathways from early childhood programs through K–12 to postsecondary and as they enter into their careers.
Cradle-to-Career education for workforce development is wrong
and contradicts the very purpose of education as defined in the Michigan Constitution.
“Sec. 1. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of  mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Hillsdale Professor Daniel Coupland correctly identified exactly where this all leads in his lecture on common core:
 “As long as students are told that the end of education is a job or a career, they will forever be servants of some master....We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”
Common Core and the entire P-20 cradle-to-career scheme destroys true school choice, local control, educational freedom, and our children's minds and hearts.  This will affect homeschoolers! We must defeat it now or forever be enslaved to it. 

Action Plan:
1.  Opt-out of any common core aligned assessment.  This includes pilot assessments, state assessments, interest surveys, career development plans, SBAC, MEAP, and any other Common Core aligned assessment that helps build the P-20 pathway.  A model form for opting out is available here:  MI_opt_out_form-1

2. Vote-out any pro-common core lawmaker or candidate.  Common Core must be the litmus test issue in all races.  See our Election 2014: Roll Call on the Common Core for a complete list.  Keep checking back as it is frequently updated as new information becomes available.

3.  Organize a Stop Common Core event in your area.  Speakers are available and ready to help make this issue front and center in your community.

4. Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to inform your friends and family about Common Core and the cradle-to-career education scheme.   Share our posts and help make 2014 the year Michigan repeals Common Core!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Homeschoolers Rally Against the Common Core!

Associated Press political journalist, Kimberley Hefling reports on the impact homeschoolers are making against the Common Core. 
Home-schooling mom Jenni White gave some of the loudest cheers when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation to repeal the Common Core education standards....

...n Oklahoma and elsewhere, home-schooling parents, often with their kids, are a frequent presence at legislative hearings and other political functions representing anti-Common Core forces. Sometimes, as in White's case, they are even leading the opposition."
The news out of Oklahoma is great and to know that a homeschooler helped lead the charge is outstanding.  Despite what some may still believe Common Core will affect homeschooling.  Kimberly Hefling references Shane VanderHart of Truth in American Education and Emmett McGroarty of American Principles Project on the concerns homeschoolers have with the Common Core. 
"McGroarty said there is a concern that the ACT and the College Board, which owns the SAT, are moving toward aligning with the standards. That, he said, would leave home-schooling parents no choice other than to follow the standards if they want their kids to do well on the college entrance exams.
An ACT official said the company supports the Common Core standards, but the exam hasn't changed because of them. The College Board, which is revamping the SAT, has said the new version of the exam isn't aligned to a single set of standards.  
The ACT and the College Board were both partners in the development of the standards.  So the idea that the College Board isn't aligning to a single set of standards is misleading and not quite accurate.  The report, Common Core State Standards Alignment produced by College Board states:
From the Report:
The College Board has been a strong advocate for and played an active role in the development of the Common Core State Standards. As part of this collaboration, the College Board helped draft the standards and helped shape the initiative by providing executive guidance on the Common Core Advisory Committee. The goal of the Common Core State Standards — to establish a common set of rigorous expectations to prepare students for college and career readiness — strongly reflects the guiding missions and values of the College Board, as well as of our programs and services....
...The College Board actively works with states and districts as they build their Common Core implementation plans, and we continue to provide guidance and technical assistance in the areas of:

• comprehensive alignment services;
• benchmarking standards, assessments and performance level indicators against college
• Common Core implementation plan development; and professional development.
 Add in the fact that one of the lead architects of the common core, David Coleman, is now President of College Board and the fact influence of Common Core on the assessments and implementation of the Common Core is strong and the potential harm to homeschoolers is great. 

Hefling also references HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly in her piece.
Mike Donnelly of the Home School Legal Defense Association, based in Purcellville, Virginia, said there isn't anything "inherently objectionable" in the Common Core standards, but there is concern that if the standards become more mainstream, there will be more pressure for home-schooled students to conform to them.
 Recently, I've been critical of the HSLDA but I'm going to give Donnelly the benefit of the doubt that this is a  a misquote or he was taken out of context.  HSLDA's own Common Core website provides information on the objectionable philosophy inherent within the Common Core.
"Three threads of philosophy weave through the Common Core—statism, moral relativism, and progressivism, which are revealed both by what is proclaimed and what is omitted. The statist goals of the Common Core are implicit in the lockstep uniformity that is the central thesis of the program. All children in all states will learn the same content in the same manner so that the children may become useful workers. Traditionally, education has been premised on the notion that all education of value is designed to know truth that only can be fully known in God. The omission of the pursuit of truth as a core goal of the Common Core demonstrates its alliance with the dominant philosophy of modern education that there are neither absolute truths nor absolute values. Finally, we see progressivism in the view that all that is new is inherently superior to that which comes from prior generations of human knowledge.

The obvious influence of progressivism and relativism in the structure and goals of the Common Core reveals a view of education that is contrary to the desires of parents and educators who have chosen to pursue homeschooling, private schooling, and other forms of educational choice.
 Overall, the article presents the case that homeschoolers are making a difference and changing the narrative on the Common Core.   And that is good news!

Update:  HSLDA Attorney Mike Donnelly confirmed that the quote is not accurate.

HSLDA's "Cobelligerency" with David Coleman
Does taking the SAT Harm Homeschoolers?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Does taking the SAT harm homeschoolers?

In a recent email and webinar, Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) asserted that 
"At this time, we have not seen any evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way."   
Is that a valid statement?  Simply by looking at the documentation provided on the Common Core website written by HSLDA, the answer is clearly NO.

In their FAQ, Question #7 asks, "Will the common core affect homeschools and private schools."
"The current impact of the Common Core on home and private education is revealed in the expanding state longitudinal databases, shifting college admissions expectations, newly updated curricula, and revised standardized tests. All these are fulfilling education historian Diane Ravitch’s prediction that “no one will escape [the Common Core’s] reach, whether they attend public or private school.”2....
...Perhaps the most immediate threat to homeschool and private school students is the expansion of statewide longitudinal databases. The designers of the new systems fully intend for homeschool and private school students to be part of the massive data collection. At the National Conference on Student Assessment in 2011, officials from Oklahoma explained to CCSSO how the challenge of meeting the data requirements of federal and state education policies are motivating them to “Include student groups not now included (e.g., home-schooled) in the data system.”3

In light of the growing revelations that the government is engaging in massive invasion of privacy in spheres other than education, it is utterly impossible to believe that these databases will not be mined and misused to serve the ulterior purposes of a centralized government intent on growing its own power."
The problem is those pesky homeschoolers won't cooperate!  As freedom loving homeschoolers we don't see the value of being in a P-20 cradle to career data tracking system.

So somehow they are going to have to manipulate us into joining the machine. How do they do that?  Easy peasy.  All Coleman has to is find a credible source that homeschoolers trust to tell us there's no harm in taking the test.

What is tested is what is taught, what is taught is what is thought.  And as an added bonus they get data on us too.

 So Coleman, who already enjoyed a cordial relationship with HSLDA, showed them just enough "evidence" that the content of the SAT is not harmful and together they produce a webinar to preach the good news to the masses."At this time, we have not seen any evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way."  But 

Voila' homeschoolers will fall in line and take the test and by default put into the system.  And that's exactly what happened. 

After listening to Coleman, one homeschool blogger wrote,
"First of all, I’m hopeful that Mr. Coleman is honest and forthright about his claims with regard to the new SAT and its independence from Common Core.  Assuming this, I think many home educators should breathe a sigh of relief about changes to the SAT. If you are focused on establishing a good foundation for your students in math, reading and writing, then your student should be well-prepared for the SAT. "
Mission accomplished.

Once the homeschoolers are lured back into the system, College Board can do whatever it wants with the content.  HSLDA knows this,

The alignment of standardized tests with the Common Core may not seem alarming, because homeschool students consistently score much higher on standardized assessments than public school students. However, as information about the content of newly designed curriculum begins to surface, it is becoming clear that the Common Core’s focus on informational texts makes it easy to accentuate particular schools of thought. For example, English language arts curriculum in Utah inculcates the welfare-state mentality and characterizes a parent’s directions as “nagging.”13 Students taking the SAT, ACT, or the Iowa Tests could soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative lifestyles.

But hey, HSLDA says there's nothing progressive in the evidence they've seen so go ahead and take the test, get your kids data in the system, and help build the machine. But remember, once the P-20 cradle to career machine is built there is no going back to educational freedom.

Coleman said he didn't want to rile up homeschoolers.  Convincing HSLDA is just the way to do it. But  I'm going to do my best to make sure we are riled up and I hope HSLDA will join me in the fight instead of promoting Coleman's propaganda.

Planting the seed that SAT is not harmful is hard to undo once said.  Coleman knows this and will likely at some point begin using HSLDA's own words to defeat them too.  After the test content is changed and HSDLDA is forced to sound a warning, all Coleman has to do is pull out this webinar and their statement.  "Sure," they may say.  "But that was then but this is now. " And everyone will ask but how did HSLDA not know that he was a snake oil salesman? Everyone was saying it and yet they chose to believe him anyway?  The damage is done and HSLDA's credibility is gone.

The evidence is clear.  Don't be fooled, the current and future harm to homeschoolers is great.   Fight on! Don't help build their machine, destroy it!

Related Posts:
HSLDA's "cobelligerency" with David Coleman

Testing and Common Core

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HSLDA's "cobelligerency" with David Coleman

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)  hosted a webinar with College Board President, David Coleman, last Friday.  If you were hoping for a take-down of Coleman it didn’t happen.  The email sent out by HSLDA President Mike Smith before the event gave us a hint at the tone,
At this time, we have not seen any evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way. David Coleman, the president of the College Board, and his team have been incredibly helpful in providing us with comprehensive information about the redesigned SAT, and we are continuing our review.
How HSLDA  can say there is “no evidence” of harm “at this time”  is confusing and misleading.  The test isn’t out yet and the “harm” isn’t just in content, but with the data tracking, and the way exams factor in the P-20 European style education reforms.   Lindsay Burke at the Heritage Foundation articulated many of the concerns with the SAT that she believes will affect “non-Common Core states, private schools, and homeschoolers.”

I talked to an HSLDA representative at length about the webinar on Monday.  In my opinion, HSLDA apears to be listening to Coleman and his Gates paid hack Mark Rodgers, when they should be listening to Churchill instead.

‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’ Winston Churchill

HSLDA appears to think that by engaging Coleman they can keep the test “safe” for homeschoolers. Naive or deceived? I’m not sure which. But Coleman doesn’t give a “S#@%” what any of us think or feel. That’s his famous quote. And yet, HSLDA thinks they can work with him to make sure homeschoolers are not harmed.

HSLDA constantly reminds us that they are against the Common Core.  Philosophically that could be a true statement.   But the fact that they have to keep reminding us means that they are doing things that make it appear to be the exact opposite.  The webinar is the latest example in their confusing history.

The webinar began with Mark Rodgers, a consultant who has done work for Bill Gates, warmly welcoming Coleman.  Rodgers is the head of the Clapham Group and I was told by HSLDA that Coleman is his client.    Rodgers put on a symposium at Wheaton College in the Spring of 2013 with Coleman hoping to convince Christian leaders to find the good in Common Core.   It appears to have worked.  Christianity Today proclaimed  “The Good News of the Common Core.” and in essence declared the Common Core the the coming messiah for bible literacy.  Find common ground and disarm the opposition is their tactic.

Coleman is a slick salesman and with the help of Rodgers it appears they are using “cobelligerency” as an argument to persuade people to their side.

In June of 2013, Rodgers wrote a blog post  titled, Cobeligerency and the College Board,
“Wilberforce coined the term “cobelligerency” to describe his willingness to  work with people he disagreed with on specific causes they shared common concern over.  Several years ago, on a project I worked with for the Gates Foundation, I met David Coleman, currently head of The College Board.  Although we may disagree on a a number of issues, we did agree on C. S. Lewis’ analysis of the decline in reading expressed in his book An Experiment in Criticism.”
Farris did not attend the event but he had a cordial conversations with  Coleman a few months later.  Has HSLDA or Farris adopted the “cobelligerency” mindset with the College Board as well?  Farris wrote,

He acknowledged some good ideas that I shared, and I did the same.
I strongly oppose the Common Core for reasons I shared with him in detail. But I want to do my best to avoid demonizing those who promote it. He is motivated by what he truly thinks is best for education and for kids. I think his plans are unwise, especially when coupled with government coercion. But I will not question either his motives or his character.
We came away believing that each of us is acting in good faith. I think we make better policy decisions when we avoid the invective and simply look to the substance. That much, David Coleman and I have in common..
But, but many say they made the movie Building the Machine. Doesn’t that count for something?  Indeed they did. But it was a documentary that presented both sides and ended with the charge, “So, regardless of which side you support in the reformation of America’s schools…Be involved.”    Is that the charge you would expect from a defense attorney trying to win his case?  Not at all.  I’m told that even some within HSLDA believed the movie was weak and a mistake.   But at least they presented both sides and some of our best voices against Common Core like  Joy Pullmann, Sandra Stotstky, and Ze’ev Wurman were featured.

The webinar was a a one-hour infomercial for Coleman to spew his propaganda unchallenged by experts.  I’m told by those on the call, (it was members only) that Coleman actually apologized for not including homeschoolers in the discussions on Common Core and promised to include a “founding document.”  How humble and gracious of him!  Regrettably, the credibility of HSLDA combined with Coleman’s  fork-tongued rhetoric  appears to have worked on some homeschoolers.   After listening to Coleman, one homeschool blogger wrote,
“First of all, I’m hopeful that Mr. Coleman is honest and forthright about his claims with regard to the new SAT and its independence from Common Core.  Assuming this, I think many home educators should breathe a sigh of relief about changes to the SAT. If you are focused on establishing a good foundation for your students in math, reading and writing, then your student should be well-prepared for the SAT. “
Blasting  homeschoolers with the message that there is “no evidence that the redesigned SAT will harm homeschoolers in any way.” is misleading and mitigates one of the strongest arguments homeschoolers have to fight the Common Core: testing and data.   But hey, at least we found common ground on the founding documents! The case that the SAT will harm homeschoolers is easily made using the words and actions of Gates and Coleman.
  • Gates said, “When the tests are aligned to the Common standards, the curriculum will line up as well.”   Does HSLDA know and believe this? They should they posted that exact quote on the Building the Machine FaceBook page on May 14, 2014.
  • Coleman said , “”If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.” And then there’s the harm caused by data collection.  Coleman loves data and how it can will be used in education to drive the reforms he wants to see.
Why is HSLDA playing the game instead of fighting it?  Why are they blasting the others sides message instead?  The pro-cc side has deep pockets thanks to Gates, the feds and others.  HSLDA relies on membership dues, trusting that the attorneys are representing and defending their interests.  But are they?    Does a good defense attorney present both sides?  No! they are hired to represent their client.   Why are homeschoolers paying for this kind of “defense?l?”
I was once told that Coleman doesn’t want to “rile” up homeschoolers. Thanks to HSLDA he is getting his way. As a homeschool mom of six who has been in the trenches fighting this for years, the blatant undermining by HSLDA on this is a betrayal of trust.  Are they appeasing Coleman to protect their interests at the expense of homeschoolers and educational freedom?  It could be their need for approval from College Board for Advanced Prep distinction at Patrick Henry Prep, the Romeike case, the Constitutional Convention, the Parental Rights Amendments, or something else entirely but something appears to be interfering with the ability to fight the Common Core with clarity and strength. I was around when School-to-Work was defeated in the 90′s.  HSDLA was strong in the fight.   I’m wondering now, where is the HSLDA of old?

Related Posts:
Does taking the SAT harm homeschoolers?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Upcoming Speaking Events

Many have asked where I'll be speaking next.  Here is a tentative schedule for the month of June. 

  • Common Core Community Meeting -  Lyon Twp. LIbrary June 9 at 6:30 PM
  • Common Core event with Pat Colbeck -  Plymouth Cultural Center June 17 at 7 PM
  • Common Community Event - Troy Community Center - June 18 at 7 PM RSVP here

All events are open to the public.  Invite your friends!

You can also learn more at

Stop Common Core in Michigan.
Or at my Facebook Page SpunkyHomeschool

If you would like to have me come speak at your event you can contact me at
spunkyhomeschool at gmail dot com

Monday, June 02, 2014

President of charter school resigns over Common Core

Brian Polet resigned as as board president and from the board of directors of Eagle Crest Charter Academy.  Below is his stinging resignation letter.  Please read and share this letter.

Dear Eagle Crest Charter Academy, National Heritage Academies, and Central Michigan University,

Effective June 30, 2014, I officially resign as board president and from the board of directors of the Eagle Crest Charter Academy. Having been a part of the ECCA board since 1998, I have enjoyed watching it grow from a fledgling 100+ student body to a well respected institution of learning, not only in the West Michigan area, but in the state as a whole. Throughout those years, the challenge of  this board has been to ask the question, “Is it good for our children?” We have now reached a “no” as the answer to that question: Common Core State Standards and its Orwellian sibling, Smarter Balance Assessments. Over the past few months it has come to light that this Academy has suffered the chaos over the past two years of what is commonly called Common Core. Equally apparent is the vim and vigor that CMU and NHA have shown in supporting implementation of CC despite a lack of national testing, trials and experience.

This copy-written, corporate-driven education model has been developed by non-teachers and edu-crats from Washington to Lansing to the detriment of students, parents, taxpayers and local school boards. Without control of curriculum and a limited control of budgets, CC has effectively removed local control from parents and put it the hands of ESPs, the Dept. of Ed and state boards.
As a logical conclusion to this hokum, ECCA has fallen victim to this Soviet-style education. The chaos that has ensued is not the consequence of bad management by NHA, but a result of a flawed educational system.

More disturbing to me is the inability to guarantee the data privacy of our students. Neither NHA or the State Board will be able to protect a child’s data from corporate vultures, marketers, and political interest groups from being used in a malevolent way. Equally troubling is the ability for educational personnel to manipulate tests and assessments to move any student into certain fields or vocations and to modify behavior without consent or knowledge of the parent.

Sadly, as a volunteer I have no “skins” in this game. This puts the board and its individual members at a decided disadvantage against the combined efforts of CMU and NHA. With this in mind, I want no part of a lousy educational model and I refuse to sign my name to a product that confuses, disorients, diminishes and fails to protect our students.

In conclusion, my conversations with CMU and NHA has made it quite clear that this is the model they want. They can have it. With CC, we no longer have the Socratic model of education, but a new Bill Gates vocational schooling for worker bees and drones. Plainly, I have not left education, education has left me and more importantly, our students.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve these many years.

Brian Polet
Eagle Crest Charter Academy Board President