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Dixie Allen, Common Core, and Why We Homeschool

Dixie Allen Common CoreUtah proudly claims to be the reddest state in the union — meaning that we like to think we are more conservative than anyone on earth. But we’re not. We’re not much different, collectively, than the nearest progressive, voting in favor of more and more stuff that we want other people to pay for and grabbing greedily for our piece of the pie.

Education is no exception. In fact, it’s probably the best example in my state of throwing it all to government control. When the schools (and unions!) cry for more money, Utahns fall all over themselves to get it for them.

More than bewildered by Utah’s repeated willingness to give up freedoms for messes of federal pottage, I decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth. On August 31, 2013, I had an enlightening — entirely because of its lack of content and transparency — email discussion with Dixie Allen, Utah’s District #12 school board representative. Mine.

Interchange #1

Smith

Hello:

I am in District 12 and want to know your position and voting record on Common Core.

Thank you,

Alison

Allen

Alison,

First let me share with you that I have a unique perspective on Standards because of the years I have spent as a teacher and administrator in public schools.  I have used standards as a teacher, administrator, parent and grandparent.  Thus I see standards as the road map to help students direct their learning toward ultimate learning.

With that in mind I voted to upgrade our standards, as I have done many times in the past to insure our students can compete with students across our nation for college and career opportunities. The Common Core Standards are an improvement of our standards in Mathematics and English/Language Arts.

I am going to send you a copy of some news articles that supports this view.

Dixie Allen
Utah State Board of Education

Analysis

  1. I’m not sure being a paid educator is much of a “unique perspective” when compared to the typical school board member, teachers’ union member, or other education power broker. A homeschooler  or someone heavily involved in alternative education would have a “unique perspective.” Someone committed to getting government out of schools would have a “unique perspective.” Someone interested in serving students without all the conflicts of interest would be a “unique perspective.” But I’m not really convinced someone entrenched in the system and whose livelihood has long come from the system is all that unique.
  2. Ms. Allen doesn’t seem to understand what standards [or Standards] actually are. She seems to believe that standards are good, in and of themselves.”I have used standards…Thus I see standards as a the road map…” She uses it almost as a religious reference. But obviously a guideline, benchmark, or criterion can only be deemed good if the process and the outcome are good — not just because it exists.
  3. Ms. Allen indicates — without specifics — that Common Core is an “upgrade” from the past standards. She does this “to insure our students can compete…” I assume she meant “ensure.” But she gives no reasoning for why Common Core will reach this end, she just repeats that they are an “improvement.”

Interchange #2

Smith

Thank you for responding, Dixie.

Rather than qualifications, I’m looking for clear answers. Bottom line is you voted to implement Common Core. Is that correct? Your “unique perspective” isn’t terribly important to me. That you serve the students of Utah is.

I wonder if you would please elucidate for me how the actual mathematics standards (as this is my primary concern, though there are others) are beneficial to students. I do know what the standards involve, so I’m not asking for an explanation of those standards. I’m also not asking for articles that show a correlation between these standards and improvements, because we both know they don’t exist at this point.

I’m asking why you as a board member believe the accepted math standards will actually improve how students understand and perform in mathematics and what criteria you have used to make that decision.

Thank you,

Alison Moore Smith

Allen

Sorry thought I had made myself clear.

I believe the new math standards are much better than our previous standards. Mainly because we teach all the standards to all students.  As a result we will no longer have students arrive at ninth or tenth grade without the skills to take a math class.

Also the English/Language Arts standards help insure students understand Informational text — not just the classics.

We have already seen the improvement in student learning as measured by the ACT assessment.

Hope that helps answer your questions — but let me know if there are other questions.

Dixie

Analysis

  1. The new math standards are better than the old ones, because…standards.
  2. It’s not about what we teach. They are better because we teach them to everyone. The same. And because…standards.
  3. She believes that teaching everyone the same thing — without respect for the actual content — will prevent 9th and 10th graders from  being unprepared for math classes. Again, there are no specifics about what this means or how it works.

Interchange #3

Smith

Let me try to be more clear.

First, did you vote to implement Core Curriculum? Yes or no would suffice here.

Second, I understand that you think the new standards are better. So far, you have told me that you like them because “we teach all the standards to all students.” This isn’t a criteria that has any academic merit, as I’m sure you can see. I could, for example, say that I’m teaching teenagers to slit their wrists and that it’s better because “we teach it to all the students.” Obviously that doesn’t make it an improvement.

You also say that you have seen the improvement in ACT assessment. Could you be specific about what curriculum was used for which students, how long this was implemented, and how the assessments correlated to those changes?

Third, my question is: what is it about the CC math standards that you think is good? What is it in the standards that is an improvement? What specific implementations are actually benefitting students (and why do you believe this)?

What is it specifically about the MATH standards that will improve math education for Utah students?

Here are some possible things to address:

  • What texts are specifically core aligned? (For example, have you reviewed Core-Plus? Do you approve of it? Why do you think it’s acceptable?)
  • What is your opinion of the integrated math approach required? Why do you think it’s an improvement? Do you know the national stats on these approaches?
  • Do you have math expertise?

Although I would first like to address math, yes, I understand that there is stress on reading “informational texts” in CC. Interestingly, my anecdotal experience is that those who can master classics can also read a brochure or manual with accuracy. Do you have evidence to the contrary? Do you know people who can dissect complex literature who cannot, for example, read the driver’s ed manual?

Alison

Allen

Yes!!!!!!!

Analysis

  1. Alrighty then! We have one solid answer, folks! Dixie Allen did, indeed, vote to implement Common Core in Utah!

Interaction #4

Smith

Thank you for your response. Could you also respond to the second and third items when you have time? (Also the bonus question about “informational texts”?)

Allen

Ok Alison,

It is obvious that I am not going to give you the answers you want or need — but here is an attempt — but it is the best I have:

Second:  Standards are statements of what a student should know and be able to do. Our assessments that will be truly aligned to the new standards will not be given until Spring 2014 — but we are seeing improved assessment grades on the ACT (the college application test) already, because they have been evaluating to the higher standards for a long time — as that is the measurement they believe must be attained to be a successful college student.

Curriculum is not the decision of the State Board, but of the district, schools and teachers in consultation with each other.  The Standards will make reference to material that is to serve as examples, but the local district, school and teachers decide on the curriculum that they believe will best teach the Standards.  Remembering that Standards of what students should know and be able to demonstrate they know — are not tied to any textbook, curriculum or literature.

Third:  I believe the standards are better, because we begin teaching intro to different higher level math and language arts standards early in elementary.  For instance we begin to substitute letters for numbers and help students learn how to solve for the unknown early in elementary.  It is a simple standard when taught correctly and makes the accelerated movement of students in Middle School and Jr. High into Pre-Algebra and Algebra a thing of the past.  All student learn the standards and the schools are offering (when appropriate an accelerated version for those students who need more of a challenge).  Over the past three years since the adoption of the Core Standards, the state office has worked hard with teachers across the state to help them move into these new standards and help them find curriculum and assessment to help them as we come to be completely compliant on the standards.  The Teachers have been wonderful in their response and hard work.

I think I have answered the question on Math — integration at an early age and working on Algebra and Geometry skills from early elementary through early high school.

I have not reviewed or approved of any curriculum.  As stated there are some recommendations in the Standards for examples, but districts, schools and teachers are free to use what they feel is the curriculum that works best.  We do not recommend curriculum.

The math experience I have had is teaching second grade for 6 years, being the principal of elementary for 6 years, a fifth grade school principal for 6 years and a high school principal for 4 years.  However, I have taught my two Junior High grandchildren for the past 3 years using an on-line curriculum that aligned to the core.  I found it very beneficial — although I am not an expert in the field of Algebra or Geometry — but my grandchildren learned a great deal and got outstanding grades.

The only evidence that I have in regard to reading of informational texts comes from the colleges, professors and companies that accept or hire our students.  They resoundingly have suggested that students need to better understand how to read informational texts to preform at a college and work level.  (None the less, I hope our students will also read the Classics — but there does not seem to be the need to completely understand classical literature to get into college or get a quality job.)

I am sure I  haven’t addressed all your questions or concerns.  However, you need to know that the State School Board sets Standards in consultation with the specialists in the fields at the school, college and work levels.  We had those voices examine the Common Core before the adoption and some changes were made per the requests of specialist in the field at our state level.

The one thing that always rings clear to me is that my first year as a high school principal, I had 300 –  9th graders – who were coming to our 10-12 high school that had had no Algebra or Pre-algebra.  We did not offer those classes, but only offered Algebra II, Trig, etc.  We had to establish a remedial math class for these students and the drop out rate that resulted from these students being so far behind in Math was so frustrating.  We established and continued the remedial classes in the 10-12 High School, but students give up if they think they can’t do the work effectively — thus the district developed an Alternative High School and has a low graduation rate as measured by many other districts.

Finally, I just want students to be successful — in our schools, but especially as they seek to attend colleges and find fulfilling careers for their life.  My great hope is that we can do our very best to allow our students to compete with any student anywhere and be successful.

Dixie

Analysis

  1. What is “obvious” is that I’m not going to be satisfied with obfuscating and filibustering rather than answering the actual questions.
  2. Ms. Allen insists, again, on non-specifically declaring the awesomeness of unnamed standards.
  3. Assessments are not yet “truly aligned” to the unspecified standards. Yet even without true alignment, ACT test scores have gone up, because the state has been “evaluating” to the “higher” (and yet unnamed) standards for, pretty much, ever. This is classic educrattese. Let’s dig down:
    1. Current methods to evaluate students aren’t aligned to the CC standards.
    2. ACT scores are going up
    3. Therefore they are going up because Utah schools have been evaluating to CC standards to which they are not aligned.
    4. Right.
  4. As with most (all?) proponents of Common Core, Ms. Allen asserts that the state board (and by extension the federal government) do not dictate curriculum. What she (and most (all?)) proponents of Common Core fail to realize is that dictating standards does dictate curriculum.
    For example, one school administrator I spoke to said teachers were allowed to use any math text. The testing, however, would be based on Core-Plus.
    In other words, teachers were free to use whatever they wanted, as long as their kids could successfully take tests that were based on the Core-Plus text.
    In more other other words, teacher could use whatever they wanted…as long as they jerrymandered it to mimic the particular text that would be tested on.
  5. How does Ms. Allen (or anyone) imagine that we can “we teach all the standards to all students” and then have those particular standards tested, without mapping to a very particular scope and sequence?
  6. In this response, Ms. Allen switches from the awesome-because-everyone-gets-the-same-exact-thing to the idea that the standards are better because “we begin teaching intro to different higher level math and language standards early in elementary.”
    Again, it’s educrattese, lots of jargon with no specifics. Some questions:

    • What “higher level concepts” are introduced in elementary math that were not before?
    • What evidence does she have that these particular unspecified items will make “the accelerated movement of students in Middle School [sic] and Jr. High [sic] into Pre-Algebra [sic] and Algebra [sic] a thing of the past”?
    • Why do we want to remove the supposed “accelerated movement” from arithmetic to algebra with older children?
  7. The Teachers [sic] are wonderful.
  8. She insists that she hasn’t reviewed or approved of curriculum and seems to think this is a good thing. It seems, however, that imposing standards without an actual text or teaching concept to follow is seriously misguided and prone to error. How do you know this can/should be implemented if you have no model for implementation?
  9. Ms. Allen’s math expertise is teaching 2nd grade. For the love of all that is holy.
  10. A near worldwide consensus of those who hire Utah students have confided “resoundingly” to Ms. Allen that kids leaving Utah high schools must be more adept at reading “informational texts.” While she gave no specifics (!), I have a few questions;
    1. Are those graduates who are unable to maneuver through an “informational text” the same ones who are educated in classic literature or are they the ones who are functionally illiterate?
    2. Does the US tax code count as an “informational text”? (In which case only about 27% of CPAs and 0% of politicians (and teachers) deserve a passing grade.)
    3. Do we need to test in Japlish so our kids can assemble their Christmas toys?
    4. If we capitalize like Germans will we have proven we can avoid studying classics…or…er…Classics…and move on to the “higher level” Informational Texts?
  11. Ms. Allen refers to algebra taken in high school as remedial, yet a child could easily take algebra in 10th grade, geometry in 11th, and algebra II/trig in 12th. (This is what the majority of baby boomers did.)
  12. The Brookings Institute found in 2013 that the early math push the Common Core folks are so fond of didn’t do any good. Pushing 8th graders to take algebra didn’t produce math whizzes, didn’t get more kids through calculus before college, and didn’t improve math achievement. In fact, almost the opposite occurred. In a 2012 study in North Carolina found that this early advanced math push resulted in lower test scores and later math failure.
  13. Does it occur to Ms. Allen that the  labeling of algebra as “remedial” for a 10th grader might have more to do with making kids “think they can’t do the work effectively” than having them do what, for many of them, actually is developmentally appropriate? (I didn’t take calculus until college. When did Ms. Allen take it?)

I believe Ms. Allen is sincere in her desire to help, but she is misguided and without the needed expertise. Like the other Nancy-Pelosi-we-have-to-pass-the-bill-to-find-out-what’s-in-it bureaucrats, she’s willing to go along with the latest fad (and money game) at the expense of our children. She is one of many state “leaders” implementing sweeping change without understanding either the process or the impact.

{ 31 comments… add one }

  • TeacherMine January 15, 2014, 1:58 pm

    ***Ms. Allen’s math expertise is teaching 2nd grade. For the love of all that is holy.***

    I laughed so hard my husband came running to see what was up. Just YES. Why are people with elementary education degrees making these decisions. They know NOTHING. Easiest degree ever. (How do I know? I AM a teacher! haha)

  • wannabego January 15, 2014, 7:24 pm

    In my opinion, the school board is just a stepping stone for the education lifers, those who make a living off education by getting a minimal degree, getting hired as teachers, move up to bloated administration, then to government or union positions.

    The position has nothing to do with being intelligent or capable of administering education. Exhibit A: Dixie Allen.

    Not that she’s a bad person, but she doesn’t know what she’s doing and she doesn’t know that she doesn’t know. She doesn’t even know she’s not answering the questions, so she gets annoyed when you ask again.

    She’s just going along with the recommendations she’s heard (from other educators) with a big smile. She’s a team player. Those with this mindset ARE the reason our schools are so mediocre.

  • Marnie January 15, 2014, 7:44 pm

    Just reading this was so frustrating. I have no ill will toward Mrs. Allen. I met her once and she seemed nice enough. My problem is that there is no way to have a discussion about the problems in the education system when those running the mad house are, well, mad.

    This exchange is a perfect example of what is wrong in our schools. Is there anyone up there smart enough that we should bother having a discussion with them?

    Where is Governor Herbert in all this?

  • Molly C January 15, 2014, 9:00 pm

    My daughter took algebra in 10th grade. And then geometry over the summer and college algebra in 11th grade. As an avid hater-of-math, she truly wasn’t ready until 10th grade to take algebra, when she decided she finally needed to learn math and choose to face it. She discovered she loved it and was good at it. How can making all students learn all the same things at the same time be a good thing? Theoretically, it sounds good – makes it way easier to teach, and if you move to a different state, you won’t miss out on anything. Plus testing (ah testing!) will be so much simpler if we’re all learning the same things! The problem is that the education administration is forgetting a a few major things: (1) Students are HUMAN. They are not robots. They are not all the same, they develop differently. (2) Doing well on a test means nothing, except that you’re good at taking tests. (3) Schools will never teach you everything you need to know (or even that they think you need to know). You’re gonna have gaps. (4) Missing the whole point of education. Learning to do well on tests so you can get a job is meaningless on it’s own. Learning who you are and then gaining the skills you need to serve others, that’s what education should be about.

    Informational texts… could we please make english a little MORE BORING!! gah.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 15, 2014, 9:24 pm

    TeacherMine, I’m sorry but — AUGH! If you don’t know math (and statistically most elementary ed majors choose the major to avoid upper level math) recuse yourself from the mathematics course decision making. For the sake of the children and all that.

    wannabego, having homeschooled for nearly two decades, I have really tried to avoid all the unions, administrations, bureaucracies involved in public education. I’m not impressed and have better uses of my time.

    But now that they have decided to get their grubby paws on national curriculum, college entrance tests, and everything else with this inane mashup, many of us are forced to go down a path we’d rather avoid.

    I don’t know Ms. Allen personally, but found it impossible to get very basic information from her, in spite of a great deal of time spent trying. With that as my example, I have to concur that she isn’t equipped to deal with the kinds of decisions she is making.

    Marnie, Governor Herbert — someone I do know (and like) personally (he lived four doors down from my folks for years, until he moved to the governor’s mansion) — does not seem to be our friend on this issue. In fact, he doesn’t seem to be anywhere. He seems just to be going along for the ride and collecting the money.

    He’s not a stupid man, so I can’t figure out where the disconnect is. Too busy with the AG office?
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  • Alison Moore Smith January 15, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Molly C, so many good points. Just keep going.

    1. Teaching every child the same thing at the same time is NOT good. And it’s the height of ANTI-personalization.
    2. Testing proves test-taking skills. Period. (Have you seen the studies showing college entrance tests don’t correlate to college success just like IQ tests don’t correlate to later life success?)
    3. Gaps are unavoidable and, perhaps more to the point, no school administrator can tell which gaps will be detrimental to which kids (that personalization thing, again).
    4. I wish you’d write an entire post about your #4. Can I bribe you?
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  • Christel Swasey January 16, 2014, 11:56 am

    A friend recommended your article. Thanks for posting. I have also posted my own email exchanges with Dixie Allen on my blog as well. Dixie is a nice lady. But she does not understand the importance of local control. This makes her position of power dangerous to us, and to our children\’s education, no matter how nice she is.
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  • Jaime January 16, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Fantastic!! Agree and love the comments. I especially agree with Molly’s #4, this has been my gripe for awhile now.
    I was at the common core debate in Logan last week, and kept asking myself if the board members actually answered the questions. To me it seemed like,
    Please tell us about this ball

    Balls are good. Everyone deserves a ball, if you think that is false it is only because you will never be happy with balls. The experts have told us that balls are good.

    Which experts?

    The ball experts. They are from our colleges and businesses.

    It’s frustrating that the conversations with them are not intellectually honest. I’m finding that conversations with my public school children are getting to be the same type of conversations. Perhaps we really need speech comprehension.

  • annecj January 16, 2014, 5:16 pm

    As to the point that ACT scores are going up, this is completely irrelevant. My daughter is in 11th grade, so she’s one of those kids taking the ACT, but has had NO CC math classes! At least in our school district, CC started with the younger grades and these kids were left in the old math system. So logically then, an improvement in ACT scores from Alpine School District, would only serve to prove that the old math program was working. (I’m not a huge fan of the old math program either, but that is what an improvement in ACT math scores would show.)

  • CarnegieMelonhead January 17, 2014, 1:17 am

    What is the school board election process in Utah? Doesn’t the governor get to hand-select the final candidates? The fact that a woman unable to answer a simple question is making curricular choices for the billion kids on Utah is appalling. I want my money back.

  • Kim Kehrer January 17, 2014, 10:23 am

    I ran for office thinking I could provide experience both in and out of the system but I didn’t get very far. But I am still trying to be active to help all children. I was interviewed by Connor Boyack so here is a little bit about the the process in the website link. For some reason it won’t let me paste it here.

  • Tim Osborn January 17, 2014, 10:29 am

    Alison,

    Dixie is no different than most of all of the other state and local school board members. having served on the Alpine School Board, for 4 years, I noted that I was EXPECTED to get in line with what the administrators brought forth from the BYU Public School Partnership. This could also be from a UofU Public School Partnership or a USU Public School Partnership.

    From the partnerships, the admins brought the ideas for education to the board and then the board was told that this a good idea and the board would be expected to stamp their ‘OK’ to the spending of the monies to fund the ideas. The board members had no idea of the philosophical meanings or even what the ramifications were. Many times over I would not give my ‘OK’ and I would actually start talking with other people and or groups that were contrary to those who were accepted by the district. This would irk the admins and the board presidency to which I would invariably be called in and then get ‘railed on’ in order to get me back in line. I see no difference to what I went through to what Dixie Allen portrayed through her notes to you. She is nothing more than a puppet and she doesn’t even know it, yet she, and all of the other board members who are in line and ‘rubber stamping’ the ideas, feels that she is doing her duty and she goes home at night with a clear conscience because she knows no better.

    Thanks for what you are doing. I tried to stop the ASD from implementing the Common Core before I left the board but I was essentially laughed at by the superintendent and the other admins. Sadly, millions of our precious tax dollars have been wasted in implementing this sad program and sadly they will be also wasted when the program is demolished for then next flavor of the month.

    Tim

  • Kim January 17, 2014, 10:39 am

    I tried to get involved. I was interviewed by Connor Boyack about my experience. Here you can find it in detail.

    http://libertasutah.org/interview/state-school-board-candidate-stopped-in-her-tracks/
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  • Alison Moore Smith January 17, 2014, 1:01 pm

    Tim, thank you for first-hand experience. Your statements match my own experience. And it’s stunning.

    I note that you are a manufacturing engineer in the aerospace industry. And you lost your reelection bid to someone who studied…wait for it…”Elementary Education, Curriculum and Administration.”

    Good heavens.

    This is what happens when people trying to ensure they have a lifelong job convince parents that they are too ignorant to, say, teach a child to read and need “experts” — in other words, people who self-selected to one of the easiest college majors in existence — to make the decisions for them.

    We deserve what we get in the public schools.
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  • Colby Lyons January 17, 2014, 4:35 pm

    Great comments from everyone! Thanks, Ms. Smith for taking the time to go through all this. It must have been very frustrating!! One thing that really concerns me about the whole philosophy of what is being presented is the end goal of education. I’ve heard “college and career ready” so many times I’m starting to turn green!! I can’t remember who mentioned it, but education really is about kids finding their purpose and their personal genius, then gaining the skills needed to accomplish it- not to mention actually learning how to think- not just what and when to think, which seems to be the goal of our education system…

  • Alison Moore Smith January 17, 2014, 5:11 pm

    Colby Lyons, thank you. Well said.

    Although my three oldest kids are in college now (the oldest in graduate school) — go cougars! — I completely agree that the purpose of public education should NOT be more education. The purpose, as you said, should be to find what they want to do and what they can do and find how to pursue that.

    As important as college is to our family, it still isn’t the end all be all of life. My degree is in theater management (a combined bachelor’s of about 50% business, 25% theater, 25% music). My work is as an accountant, web designer, and business owner.

    The internet barely existed when I graduated and certainly wasn’t something we were predicting, so my degree has little to do with what I’m doing now. I’m glad I have the degree, but mostly because of the (often erroneous) perceptions people have about what it means to have one! It’s high time we wake up and see education for what it really is and what it should be. And, maybe more to the point, we see it for what it’s NOT.

    The idea that people the people with education degrees are The Experts in what should be taught and how it should be taught is laughable at best and damning at worst. It’s time for a real education renaissance.
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  • LisaLisa January 17, 2014, 6:53 pm

    This kills me. And no one sees a problem with this?

    Who was on the selection committee that vetted our current board? Tom?

  • Roger January 18, 2014, 4:06 am

    Dixie Allen was my son’s principal for a couple of years. Talking to her in person was no different than your email exchange. She once told me that the schools didn’t need parents or parental involvement. She said she has been teaching kids for along time and the schools did better without parents getting in the way. That was the last year any of my kids ever attended a public school. Doesn’t look like she has improved any in the sixteen years since that conversation .

  • Alison Moore Smith January 18, 2014, 11:22 am

    Unfortunately, Roger, I’m not surprised. My experience with school teachers and administrators has often been the same. They think they know more and you are just a bother to be shuffled out the door. Except, you know, when they have fundraisers and want someone to plan parties and cut things out of construction paper.
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  • Kathleen January 18, 2014, 10:47 pm

    First, I want to know if you needed stitches from beating your head against the wall. Second, I truly believe that our education system is going down the wrong path, like so many of our other systems. Our goals should be to get government out of our schools, healthcare systems and so many other things. Ms. Allen doesn’t seem like she really knows why she voted for the Common Core Standards, but rather just followed the pack.
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  • Karli Froerer Hymas January 21, 2014, 8:45 pm

    Alison,
    Let me clear up something for you. If you expect answers from the state BOE and the like, you need to make one simple change. Stop using big words. They don’t like it. 😉

    Thanks for all you’re doing to help protect our kids!

  • Julieb January 23, 2014, 9:39 am

    I find it almost laughable how emphatic “educrats” are when they assert that they do not dictate curriculum. This universal assertion must be one of the chosen disguises for their ever encroaching force. Why can schools, teachers, and districts be trusted exclusively to know what is best when it comes to curriculum, but not when it comes to setting standards?
    Another common disguise used by those bent on gaining or maintaining power is the assertion of good intentions, such as Ms. Allen’s declaration, “My great hope is that we can do our very best to allow our students to compete with any student anywhere and be successful.” How do standards that are “awesome-because-everyone-gets-the-same-exact-thing” (as Alison succinctly states it) make anyone competitive, distinctive, or set apart from the rest such that they should be the one to “succeed” over another?
    As others have already pointed out, it is fallacious to suppose that the Common Core standards are superior to any standards we have had in the past. Each individual is unique by divine design. One size fits all education is only the starting point upon which each individual is free to build as they desire. It necessarily follows that standards that are set with the idea that there will be “complete compliance” are minimum standards set to the lowest common denominator, not standards that move us toward “ultimate education” as Ms. Allen asserts. It is going above and beyond the minimum that sets one apart and allows them to compete successfully against another. It seems that the real goal of having “completely compliant” standards is to have everyone be an interchangeable cog in the wheel that the “experts” are intent on manipulating to their hearts desire.

  • Dr Gary Thompson January 28, 2014, 12:33 pm

    I spit up my OJ on my toddler cause I was laughing SO hard! You made my day. I added you to my list of “Education Heroes” today. Our clinic is very busy confidentially cleaning up Ms. Allen’s unproven Core programs and testing…whereas the stress it is causing gifted students and minorities is serious as hell. At least 5-9 times a year, our doctors and lawyer descend down to a local school to defend a helpless parent literally save their child from attempting suicide, cutting, or descending into the depths of anxiety hell due to practices related to the Core and “group think”. We feel bad sometimes “stealing” your tax money to do this, but we do what we have to do to save a life. Of course we all have to sign long settlement confidentiality agreements so that voters like you never find out about the carnage we discover, or so that I don’t write a NY Times best seller with stories of my adventures pummeling local schools who dangerously try to play psychologist to the doom of children.

    I gave up on public advocacy against the system at the start of the year to devote my time to treatment and filing suits against districts. Business has never been better. In the first month alone in Utah, we have literally saved the lives of three children/teens who were literally being driven “crazy” by a one size fits all academic, social and emotional model supported by nice ladies like Ms. Allen.

    So I guess since Utah voters are clueless about what is going on, the USOE P.R. Machine is effectively in line with Pres. Obama’s goals, we just have to live with the symbiotic relationship that Ms. Allen has created with Utah’s only integrated Pediatric Psychology, Special Education; & Education Tutoring Center: Ms. Allen screws up kids with programs and “psychology based policies” that have not been subjected to peer review, parents come to us a drop a boat load of money on our laps to clean it up, we drop a Due Process legal proceeding on the District to get the money returned to the parent, a confidentiality agreement is signed, we go home, and repeat the process the next day.

    We kinda are the “Robin Hoods” of Education, except that we aren’t stealing from the “rich”, we are “stealing” from hard working, middle class tax payers of Utah to provide justice to parents whose children have been screwed by this idiotic system.

    The level of contempt we are shown by USOE, Board Members like Ms. Allen, and District administrators state wide is legendary in its scope and intensity. They are frustrated that their propaganda mind games don’t work on doctoral level child clinical psychologists, and their “facts” are actually demanded to be proven by Utah’s only private special education attorney on our staff. Edward D. Flint.

    We celebrate our 3rd Anniversary this March, and we guess in 2-3 more years, when we become a household name for every parent livid at their kids public schools, we all will become millionaires and some rocket scientist in politics is actually going to ask exactly to whom, and why this sacred rax money is going to.

    We will then invite this curious lawmaker to our tax payer funded, corporate yatch and provide details and maybe let them spend some time with the kids and parents whose lives were altered (sometimes permanently) by the special interest policies which form the basis of Ms. Allen’s Common Core education system. We would be thrilled as clinicians and lawyers to assist them with stopping our tax payer funded money train because we have taken an oath that superceeds profit: “Do. No. Harm.”

    Although our Board now has a official policy of no public/political advocacy against proponents of Common Core, I get to live vicariously through smart, funny as hell, and dedicated parents and (former) public servants such as you. Your post literally brightened the day of our entire clinic. Thank you.

    If u ever want an inside peak into what goes on at the clinic, and want to write about it and meet some of these children and families, email me and I will make it happen.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 28, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Gary, thank you for the comment and kind words. I’d love to see your clinic at some point. That would be great information.

    In the first month alone in Utah, we have literally saved the lives of three children/teens who were literally being driven “crazy” by a one size fits all academic, social and emotional model supported by nice ladies like Ms. Allen.

    The idea behind this doesn’t surprise me at all, because I’ve known many families who only began homeschooling in desperation. What shocks me is that the PARENTS of these kids let it get that far. If your child’s life is being ruined in public school, what purpose do the parents think is served by forcing them to be there day after day?
    Alison Moore Smith wants to school you about 12 Steps to Start Homeschooling TomorrowMy Profile

  • Amy Mullins January 31, 2014, 12:32 pm

    Does Utah have an organized group actively fighting Common Core? If so, how do I get involved?

  • Alison Moore Smith January 31, 2014, 5:32 pm

    Amy, the two best sources I know of in Utah are:

    Utahns Against Common Core

    Common Core: Education Without Representation
    Alison Moore Smith wants to school you about 10 Superlative Reasons to Homeschool + BonusMy Profile

  • Sally McDonald January 31, 2014, 7:31 pm

    1. Piaget would be sad that all his work was for naught.

    2. Politicians (who have questionable ethics) listen to ‘companies’ (that steal and go to prison).

    3. Politicians ignore educators that actually teach everyday and know what each Individual needs to be successful.

    4. Just wonder who is making the most money off of ‘selling’ common core.

  • CartoonWorld February 13, 2014, 1:32 am

    When I hear a teacher defend CC I know she is either stupid or doesn’t understand it. Dixie Allen is no exception.

  • Misty Liu March 5, 2014, 6:19 am

    Alison, this is a wonderful piece. It is the basically the straw that broke thi camel’s back. I am going to be moving back to Utah soon and I will actually be getting politically involved in something for the first time in a Long time, mostly thanks to your posting if Dixie Allen’s responses.

    Dixie Allen is unable to write or communicate with you. She cannot understand or comprehend yor questions. She is, from the answers I saw here, only marginally literate. I cannot understand how she is in a position of authority in education when my ten year old daughter could comprehend and communicateuch better.

    You are right about Utahns. Generally speaking, I have found that they are never happier than when they can land a “guaranteed” goverenment job or find a way to get funding go something. They crave being old what to do and are quite comfortable with socialist ideas and they have no idea that they are not “conservative.”

    Except or the ones who aren’t like that, and thankfully there are quite a few!

    Again, I don’t understand how barey literate adult are dictating educational standards, or rather Standards. I don’t understand how we, the people seem powerless, or as Dixie would say, Powerless to do anything to change it.

    Common Core is abusive in its tactics. I has no interest in public education, or rather, Public Education as an entity. I homeschool and always have. But I can’t stand by and watch the abuse of all of these children and do nothing. It is disgusting. Thanks again for posting this.
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  • Ashley Arnold March 28, 2014, 11:22 pm

    Wow, wow, wow. I’m a mom of a one-year-old son and am trying to educate myself on what’s going on with Utah’s education system and my mouth hung open the entire time I was reading this post. I’m honestly baffled. I couldn’t support this post more, or thank you enough for writing it. My sister just pulled her three oldest out of school to start homeschooling because she’s appalled by the way she’s being treated by the school districts in Arizona for raising concern about Common Core. I loved Molly’s comment – our children are not robots and they should be taught to their needs and wants, not the government’s standards. It honestly makes my stomach sick thinking of this! And on another note, can I be somewhat disgusted by Ms. Allen’s lack of writing and vocabulary skills? She’s supposed to be representing the Utah State Board of Education?

  • Felicia February 26, 2015, 1:00 pm

    I can only yell YES! Why is this woman there? To say, “Yes, sir, Governor Herbert! Whatever you say, sir!” (Followed by more of her Obama cheering.)

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