Category Archives: No Child Left Behind

Time for Test Refusal Letters!

Student backpack test refusal

Fall is nearly here!   Soon the cooler weather and beautiful colors of fall will surround us, and with it, the start of school.   The first tests arrive  within the first two weeks of school, and so it’s a perfect time to complete your refusal letter.

The testing craze has nearly taken over instruction in our schools.   Let me restate.  In OUR schools, a federal testing craze has taken over and has been accepted by our local schools. This started in the days of No Child Left Behind and has snowballed with some districts testing 7 to 8 and up to 14 standardized tests per year in our state of Minnesota.  Our US Dept of Education is calling for daily testing through the online curriculum program titled, “ConnectEd”.

Where will it end?  Will it end on its own?  Although parents were involved during the No Child Left Behind years there was not enough involvement to turn this around.  We are already hearing parent statements about how much testing has gone on in three days of school and the anxiety it is causing their children in the early-start school districts, charters and online.  Enter YOU and I for such a time as now!

MACC and Refuse the Tests have three letter options.  You can always write your own and be as formal or informal as you’d like.  Please be sure to edit the letter with your name, email,  your child’s name and other information.  Sign and hand deliver to your principal, teacher(s), testing director and/or curriculum director.

Test Refusal Letter #1 informs that your child will be refusing testing and surveys.

Test Refusal #1 tests and surveys only

Test Refusal Letter #2 informs that your child will be refusing testing, surveys and data collection, including biometric.

Test Refusal #2 (1)

Test Refusal Letter #3 informs that your child will be refusing testing, surveys, data collection and all online curriculum.  Be sure to ask your principal for a textbook instead of online curriculum.

Refuse Tests #3 (1)

Don’t forget to read this article by Sarah Lahm and her interview with the Minnesota Department of Education on refusing the tests. The MDE states that testing is not tied to funding.  This information is still very much valid.




Evil Will Prevail if we allow “Every Child Achieves Act” (S1177)

9 July, 2015

Evil will prevail if we allow “Every Child Achieves Act” (S1177)

By: Anne Taylor

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot going on in the world:  Most notably, Greece is about to lose it.  The NYSE experienced a “glitch” that suspended trading (call it a hack because no one else is willing to admit to it – maybe the power grid is overloaded – or is it?), the Wall Street Journal’s website went down following the NYSE “glitch”, United Airlines was grounded due to a faulty computer system and thousands “mysteriously” lose power in Washington D.C.

Did I mention that HR5 passed in the House, too?  There has been little, if any attention to these bills and their ramifications that will only allow evil to prevail in our American schools.  Our friends in Utah’s Common Core state group agree.  In fact, I can’t help but agree!  This is because there simply is no other word to describe it.

Below are 6 headline highlights from the article written by Utah’s state group, Common Core:  Education Without Representation, “Six Evil Things Hidden in S.1177 — “No Child Left Behind”.  You may read the full article and their extensive research here.

If this doesn’t raise the red flag alert, then I am concerned for our children’s future and this country.  The following IS NOT what the media is talking about regarding S1177:

  1. The bill aims to kill parental rights in the parental opt-out movement. “Taking away a parent’s authority over his or her own child is a crime that the Fed Ed is willing to try to get away with.  This bill says that states must not only give federally aligned common core tests (they use the code term “college and career ready” which is Common Core) but must collect data from 95 percent of the students.  That aims to kill our huge, growing parents’ opt out movement.  The bill says, “Measures the annual progress of not less than 95 percent of all students, and students in each of the categories of students”. (1111)”
  2. The bill’s master-servant relationship between Fed Ed and State Ed is unconstitutional. “It’s clearly, clearly unconstitutional.  States are supposed to be in charge of their own educational systems.  But in this bill, read: “The state shall submit,” and “The Secretary [Fed Ed] shall have power to disapprove a state plan” (Sec. 1111)   “If a State makes significant changes to its plan at any time…such information shall be submitted to the Secretary”.  That just gives the Fed Ed Secretary power to disapprove a state’s decision to drop Common Core.  (Sec. 1111)”

“Cementing Common Core is not what the authors of S.1177 said were the goals of the bill, yet there it is.  Putting parents last, and making states do the dirty work for the false authorities at the Department of Education, is a deceptive way of getting people to think that there’s less federal involvement, a misleading attempt to get conservative people to pass this bill.”

  1. The bill will suppress student expression of religious and political values. “…repeated use of the concept and term “school climate” –for example, in conditional “formula grants”.  These give the federal government power to model citizenship, to influence what is a federally appropriate world-view, and to pressure schools to suppress student expression of religious values, using each state as enforcer.  (Sec. 4103-4104).  The bill says that money will be conditionally given and that data gathered by the school will determine whether a student holds appropriate beliefs in the “school climate”.  This will allow absolute federal indoctrination in local schools. If family values don’t match Fed Ed values, there will be federally-directed school-based re-education.”

These include “…asking for collection of “school-level data on indicators or measures of school quality, climate and safety, and discipline, including those described in section 1111(d)(1)(C)(v); and risk factors in the community, school, family, or peer-individual domains that are known, through prospective, longitudinal research efforts, to be predictive of drug use, violent behavior, harassment, disciplinary issues, and having an effect on the physical and mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.”

“That pressures schools to conform to federal definitions of mental health, and forces schools to collect longitudinal data to build and analyze children’s psychological profiles.   Schools wanting federal money must intervene if a student’s “mental health” or potential access to “violence” needs “mentoring”. (…by whose definition?)”

*I’ll add that if you’re uncertain what this means, read the “school climate” survey found in the Orono school district I reported on earlier this spring.

“The bill says:  “may include, among other programs and activities— drug and violence prevention activities and programs, including professional development and training for school and specialized instructional support personnel and interested community members in prevention, education, early identification, and intervention mentoring, and, where appropriate, rehabilitation referral, as related to drug and violence prevention… extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time…  school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms…  and appropriate referrals to direct individual or group counseling services” (4105)”

  1. The bill sees government, not families, at the center of the universe– for younger and younger people, for more and more of the time. “It allots money to fulfill Sec. Duncan’s “21st –century community learning centers” (Sec. 4201)  …this bill consumes more family time, giving so much time to government schools.   The “community creep” of Fed Ed schools expands in multiple ways if S.1177 passes.  The Fed Ed Secretary will pay “programs that support extended learning opportunities, including before and after school programs and activities, programs during summer recess periods, and expanded learning time; in accordance with subsections (c) and (d), school-based mental health services, including early identification of mental-health symptoms” — which means more government surveillance of belief and behavior, via more time spent with Fed Ed, and less time spent with Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.”

Notice “…that “and community” is attached after the word “school” repeatedly.  School and community.  School and community.  School and Community.  Why?  What business does the school have, expanding its creep into the community?  Yet that’s exactly what Secretary Duncan has been calling for, for years.  (See the old Charlie Rose interview on Youtube here, where Duncan asks for 6-7 day a week school, extremely long days, all year round, with school replacing home or church as community center.)”

  1. The bill promotes federal definitions of mental health and promotes collection of mental health data.                                           The bill will assume “…that fed ed defines mental health correctly, and for everyone…(promoting) even more data mining than we already have inflicted upon our children.”

“The local educational agency or consortium… shall take into account… school-level data on…   family… predictive of … mental health and well-being of youth in the school and community.” (See 4104)”

“Under a host of other issues identified as federally-politically-correct, your family teachings may not be compliant with federal definitions of mental “well-being” of youth.”  Government, not families, are at the center of the universe when school data is gathered on children without parental consent, used to judge families’ and students’ psychological, religious or belief-based attitudes.”

  1. Toddler Snatching. “I don’t like that the bill puts it hands on preschoolers.”  *(I don’t like it either being that I have a toddler as well!)  “It bullies preschools, too, by mandating federal preschool standards to be enforced by states, as it encourages states to take over toddler time from moms and dads.  I don’t like the time-away-from-family aim nor the data mining aim (without consent of parents, of course). Preschool babies are to be psychologically profiled by the state.  The bill does not state this plainly. You have to connect the dots:  the word “preschool” shows up 43 times in the bill.  Statewide preschool standards align with federal standards, creating nationalization of measurement of citizen babies; federal standards are heavily socio-emotional; it all results in the compilation of psychological data on very young children.  We already had the Dept. of Ed and its partners co-creating Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS) the better to align everyone with, without voter input, and these folks wave banners with their motto (fourth principle): “Continued Commitment to Disaggregation“  of students’ personal data.   Your specific, individual child is wanted in their clutches.  That’s what disaggregation means:  not in a clump; individual.”

Now, will someone tell me there isn’t an elephant in Washington?

Take these highlights – all of them – any one of them at this point!  It’s time to kill this bill!

Continue to call, write and tweet your senators.  WE CANNOT DO THIS ALONE.

Americorp Volunteers: Helping ‘Promise Land’ Communities Succeed or Experts in Data Collection?

Displaying promisezonesamericorpsvistadeployments_original_crop.jpg

(Early 2014 picture of 5 Promise Zones for AmeriCorps VISTA deployments.  Numerous other cities, including Minneapolis, have been added.)

Americorp Volunteers:  Helping ‘Promise Land’ Communities Succeed or Experts in Data Collection?

By: Anne Taylor

A parent recently inquired about their child receiving a letter from an AmeriCorp volunteer at their school district regarding extra tutoring because their child’ s standardized test scores were “below average.”   The child, however, had better than average grades in the classroom.  The parent reported that little, if any information was given to them about AmeriCorp volunteers, much less how they acquired information on their child who appeared to be in need of such services.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – known for his insulting comments on “white suburban moms” in 2013, and most recently called out for threatening federal involvement to families who choose to exercise their parental right by opting their child out of standardized testing, was here in the Twin Cities last week.  You may wonder how this visit, the new “Promise Land,” Universal Pre-K and AmeriCorp volunteers ties in.  First, let me give a quick synopsis of “Promise Land.”

Minneapolis was among eight new “Promise Zones” throughout the U.S.  In short, “the city can get a leg up on the competition when applying for federal grants that create jobs and help close the achievement gap” according to CBS Minnesota.  Essentially, these “zones” are federal designations in an effort to effectively move parts of a city to the front of the line by way of obtaining federal help in tackling poverty.  This is the second year in the making of “Promise Land.”  The Obama administration named the following five communities in 2014:  San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

While job training, property redevelopment and transportation improvement is at the forefront, so are educational programs such as Universal pre-K for 4 year olds:  a program that is gaining a lot of attention on all sides of the isle – not just cost, but concern over potential mandates that may ultimately lower the compulsory age from 7 to 4, as well as the highly controversial need for Unionization of daycare workers and in-home daycare to meet the Common Core-aligned standards via Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge grant that Universal pre-k demands.

This language is already spelled out within the aligned Common Core Standards found in the Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge.  You can also see it in the current Minnesota house bill 1527 that will reduce the compulsory attendance age from 7 to age 6.  We saw this in Chicago, Illinois back in 2013 with the reduction of the compulsory age also from 7 to age 6 passed by the Senate due to all-day Kindergarten.

Standing alongside Mayor Betsy Hodges and Governor Mark Dayton, Secretary Arne Duncan stated he can’t “promise” there would any federal funding to help Minnesota make Universal pre-K happen.  With the legislative session heading to a close, some are curious if this will somehow be slid in by way of the Omnibus K-12 education policy and finance bill.

If you look at the “Promise Zone Overview,” you will see that nearly the entire program is nothing more than a federal pilot project – that by having so many U.S. departments involved, and if you didn’t know any better, could actually serve as a blueprint similar to the tales of “The Hunger Games” or “The Giver.”  For starters, here’s a list of benefited federal partners:  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Labor, National Endowment for the Arts, Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Hmmm…”Corporation for National and Community Service.”  Here’s where I will step in.

I did a two year stint for AmeriCorp VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).  I’ll share with you on what I experienced having this volunteer designation at one time. But first, here’s a little more background.

AmeriCorps VISTA was first enacted in 1963, by President John F. Kennedy who envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.”  Two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson realized Kennedy’s dream and launched what was called the “War on Poverty.” VISTA, like Head Start and other antipoverty programs, was created by The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in order to serve the needs of the poorest Americans.  The program has since grown now having over 8,000 members while serving in over 1,000 projects nationwide.

There are different designations of AmeriCorp.  Depending upon the applicant’s background, work experience, schooling, etc. volunteers may be trained to tutor youth (ie: Reading and Math Corps), work in emergency disaster situations, aid seniors or hired to recruit volunteers for community programming.  As a VISTA volunteer it was my job to recruit, train and increase volunteer retention while working directly with school liaisons, teachers, district heads as well as local organizations to train volunteers with the purpose of increasing numbers and quality of programming.  I was told by AmeriCorp that at least 60% of my time was to train, and to then bring that information back to the organization I represented in order to help grow their programming.

Many of the sites targeted are those with high numbers of poverty in which a school can be a primary focus of interest, particularly with students struggling with reading, math and test scores.  For example, while I worked for a non-profit in the Western suburbs, the program itself actually operated out of the Minnesota Literacy Council in Saint Paul.  From there we were run by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Basically, AmeriCorp offers their entire volunteer services under the umbrella of our government.

Many often misconstrue AmeriCorp volunteers as government paid “employees.”  While we were required to work a minimum of 40 hours per week, we are considered a volunteer at the site who hired us for the year and benefited a government subsidy of a small monthly stipend at barely $900/month.  Because the stipend is below the poverty level and you cannot take on another job during your year of service, volunteers themselves are encouraged during initial training to participate in government run subsidies such as SNAP, EBT cards and health care so that they ‘feel what it’s like’ to be part of this system (and yes, we were told this during training).  If the volunteer is receiving social security or disability, they may continue to have those benefits during their term of service.

I’m not sure if signing up for state benefits was what President Johnson had in mind when he first greeted his 20 volunteers by saying: “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”

Many AmeriCorp volunteers are college students fresh out of school and are in need of job experience or may be taking a year off before getting their Masters.  Others, like me at the time, may be between jobs.  All volunteers are subject to a government background check and passing that check for clearance to be hired for their volunteer position.  Upon the volunteer’s one year completion at their site, one is given a government stipend to use towards college only in the amount of $4,000, or, volunteers may take $1,200 at the end of their term of service.  It is sold as a wonderful opportunity to serve your country and the community while building your resume.

While the intentions are good – and for me personally the experience was very satisfying in the connections I made with families – sadly, we were purely set out to sites as data minions.  Everything collected eventually makes its way back to Washington.  This includes site volunteer information that AmeriCorps volunteers recruited as well as information about the children they are serving and even their families’ information.

How do I know this?  Because as the years progressed, the questions we were required to ask of children and families got more personal.  From reading scores and stats on how often a child showed up for tutoring to criminal family background information – and yes, one could say that included ‘hearsay’ from social workers or even the parents themselves if they disclosed it to us.

Not only were we asked to survey children as young as 3rd grade about our programming, but also our beloved site volunteers that we hired to work with students and young children.  This first started out as non-identifiable, paper surveys and quickly went into a 3rd party electronic survey site that was not confidential, nor private.  We were often put into positions that clearly some were not qualified to be in the first place, only that we continually collected and recorded data.

The amount of information collected was obscene and reported on a strict quarterly basis. Often reports were over 20 pages long that included questionnaires, supplements and written documentation.  It was, and is, in fact, the perfect way to set up data systems for organizations.  Which some may argue is helpful, but did parents of children being tutored or even the volunteers themselves know that their information was going to be shared or even jeopardized at some point?

For those that agreed to have AmeriCorp volunteers at their site, they likely went through AmeriCorp supervisor training and every site that has AmeriCorp volunteers had to apply and meet certain criteria in order to have them in their community, nonprofit or school environment.  I recall our site did have Minnesota Reading Corps (another AmeriCorp volunteer stem) one summer alongside summer youth camps.  There is also Minnesota Math Corps as well to assist with math tutoring.  I will tell you this, looking back, I saw Common Core before we even understood what it was. 

We had well-respected, retired teacher volunteers that were limited in tutoring children in the math  and even reading because they themselves didn’t understand the latest concepts being taught.  Some of the schools at that time (and this was in 2008), were not allowing children to bring home text books to do homework frustrating parents as well as the volunteers for months on end.  Eventually we had to enlist in the help of current teachers for guidance on after-school programming, which ultimately, was short lived.  We were already taking up an immense amount of teacher’s time after school and often had to rely on a school liaison for information.  It was very clear, however, that teachers KNEW THEIR STUDENTS, their potential as well as what needed improving.

Reading was also difficult to establish as many schools no longer teach the basics.  Only in recent years are we now seeing the light shed on Common Core standards that was edged into our schools via Race to the Top (RTTT), the NCLB waivers as well as the lingering threat of HR5.  Remember that even though our state of Minnesota has not formally adopted Common Core math, it is aligned in all the publishing companies in the books the schools use as well as standardized testing.

When a parent shared with me their story on how their child was called out for ‘below average test scores’ I suggested they first and foremost ask the school HOW the AmeriCorp volunteer acquired THEIR child’s information!

Parents:  Did you sign anything at the beginning of the school year from a teacher?

Did you receive a disclosure from a teacher or school principal that AmeriCorp volunteers would be in the school AND was there an opt-out option?

Is there a school liaison that is working with the AmeriCorp volunteers and/or any organizations that may be part the school district?

Parents were told that their child would be pulled from class for tutoring for 90 minutes and during regular classroom time.  Should this be the case in your district, including after school programming parents need to find out why.  Of course parents want their child to succeed, but at what cost in the information collected on their child.

I’m not sure what “Promise Zones” will be providing for our children and their families other than a land of more comprehensive data mining and pure compliancy under the guise of numerous federal departments.  These people’s lives will be completely under a microscope.  However, isn’t that something in of itself that is already here for the rest of us?  This also reminds me of something that civilizations have always fought for: Land.  As Americans, did we ever think we would have to fight for our freedoms again?

The “Promise Land” agenda falls perfectly in line with Arne Duncan’s dream of children in school 6-7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day & year round.  Is this what the people of Minneapolis envisioned when they were the chosen ones to partake in the “Promise Land”?

More MACC Talks Coming Soon to Maple Grove and Eagan

We have more talks coming up soon!

TOMORROW, is the Minnesota Libertarian Convention, April 24th at the Cambria Suites in Maple Grove.   Linda will be speaking at 5:30 on Common Core: Why is it Bad for America?

NEXT WEEK, Thursday, April 30th, we are at Rasmussen College – Eagan in Room 201 at 6:30pm.   We  connect the dots, from federal and corporate mandates to state and local implementation. Please attend to get the WHOLE PICTURE!

Spring Presentations 2015 2nd update