BYU Professor David Wiley: Parents Don’t Need to Know   3 comments

  Professor David Wiley is to be applauded for engaging in actual debate on the Common Core/FERPA issue with people like me.  I appreciate it.  He is rare for being willing to discuss these things without resorting to dismissive name calling as others have done.  Here is what he posted today, along with what Kristen Chevrier and I had to say back, below:

July 20, 2012 at 12:00 am

Christel,

Thanks for this ongoing conversation. I apologize for the choppy nature of my response, but I’m trying to reply point by point to your last post without copying your entire post into the body of mine.

You need PII to conduct the district / university study because you can’t learn anything meaningful by asking, “60% of the people in our district passed algebra – what percentage of our students tested into remedial math at the university?” and getting the answer “49%.” Are all 40% of people who didn’t pass algebra included in that 49%? Clearly some people who passed algebra still tested into remedial math. But what percentage? How well *are* we preparing our kids for college math? To get a meaningful answer you have to ask this question for each individual – did this person pass algebra in the district? Did they then test into developmental math at the university? And you need PII to connect the grade in the high school to the placement exam at the university level. I would guess somewhere between 1 and 3 researchers would see PII as this question was answered.

The exceptions to FERPA are important, but not because they make researchers’ jobs easier. The exceptions are important because some critical forms of large scale research are literally impossible without them. Everyone parent says that they want the teachers and staff in their schools to use research-based practices proven to be effective, but no one seems to want their child’s data to be collected or analyzed so that we can understand what is effective. I will nickname this issue the “freerider problem.” While it is possible to ask some meaningful questions without disclosing PII – and many of these questions have been asked and are well studied – the freerider problem prevents us from answering the important questions that require PII.

The idea that a random person on the street could acquire PII for their neighbor’s child with a persuasive verbal argument – and all due to the exceptions in FERPA – is hyperbole. Please reread the mandatory elements of the written agreements required to govern the un-consented disclosure of PII (in the documents you linked to previously) if you really thought this was possible. But I don’t suspect you did. Hyperbole of this kind does not productively advance the conversation.

For every quote from a prophet or general authority that purportedly proves one non-religious point, you can easily identify another quote that supports the opposing non-religious point. I don’t know that this type of dialogue is particularly productive. You offer Ezra Taft Benson’s quote, “An important test I use in passing judgment upon an act of government is this: If it were up to me as an individual to punish my neighbor for violating a given law, would it offend my conscience to do so?” (I find ellipses often hide important detail, so I’ve listed the complete quote.)

I will offer you Thomas S. Monson’s statement “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of performance accelerates” as a counter to your Ezra Taft Benson quote. I don’t believe Thomas S. Monson was talking about measuring and reporting the aggregate performance of nameless thousands of people. But I’m sure you’ve already thought of another religious leader’s quote that supposedly counters this quote of Thomas S Monson’s, but this game can be played ad infinitum and is, consequently, uninteresting in the grand argument.

Your brief history lesson re: Orwell and Communism comes tantalizingly close to fulfilling Godwin’s Law.

You say, “Public schools sit as a golden grape of opportunity for the data-hungry feds.” A large collection of educational data will be interesting to anyone who cares about using rigorous scientific techniques to improve American schools – but it doesn’t mean they can access it without conforming to the law.

How large a role would you hypothesize parents play in the academic success of their children? If you believe they play a large role, then you already know why researchers would be interested in understanding more about students’ parents.

If the new interpretation of FERPA is so clearly unconstitutional, as you or EPIC (it was unclear) suggest it is, I’m sure the Supreme Court will let us know. Based on my current understanding, I don’t believe it is unconstitutional. However, I am always open to being persuaded by data. As my favorite saying goes, “The facts are always friendly.”

While I won’t go so far as to use your “flabbergasted” language, I guess I just don’t understand the paranoia. The idea that someone would proactively fight to *not* know how to improve their local school’s math instruction – in order to insure that their child’s PII aren’t seen by a couple of researchers – confuses me. That is the scale of un-consented disclosure we’re talking about, and that is the scale of benefit we’re talking about.

 Kristen Chevrier says:
  • Mr. Wiley: Could you please explain why it is necessary to connect student names with data? If you are measuring school, district or state performance, you don’t need to identify individual students. Monitoring the progress of individual students should be the job of the local teachers and parents. I don’t think anyone has a problem with data collection that is not connected with names.

    Kristen Chevrier says:
  • Please note, again, that the FERPA laws have been changed to allow the sharing of PII with the federal government. Please do not deflect this question, again, by saying that “the random person on the street” does not have access to the information. The random hacker does have access and neither the state nor the federal government needs or should have access. All the stats you need can be gathered without PII. So, please explain why anyone wants names.

    Also, the fact that a researcher has an interest in someone does not mean that they should have access to that person’s personal information at will. Researchers should be subject to Constitutional restraints.

  • Dear Professor Wiley,

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I see your line of reasoning similar to Arne Duncan’s, boiling down to this: research is supremely helpful in making improvements to education; therefore, anything that stands in the way of gathering research– such as researchers having to get parental consent before accessing student’s PII, or such as the executive branch technically not being Constitutionally permitted to make regulatory changes to FERPA without Congressional approval– is reduced to optional/unimportant.

    So I ask: Could instructional research possibly be improved  in other, more excellent ways, without resorting to going behind parents’ or Congress’ backs to get access to kids’ data?

    I have no argument with your “needing PII to connect the grade in the high school to the placement exam at the university level” –but researchers should shoulder the inconvenience of getting parental/individual  consent first.  Access by researchers to data, while wonderfully enriching, will never trump families’ and individuals’ authority over personal student data. Not even President Monson  (in the context of his quote that you shared, about measuring performance) would  approve of a policy of going around parents’ backs to measure student performance.

    You identified researchers’  “freerider problem” as not being able to do “critical forms of large scale research” because parents  don’t  “seem to want their child’s data to be collected or analyzed so that we can understand what is effective.”  That is tough; too bad.  If parents are unwilling to have their child’s data collected, we are out of researching luck.  We can not ethically “redistribute the data” any more than we can ethically “redistribute the wealth” against the will of parents and citizens. It amounts to a push for secretiveness that overrides  individual and parental agency and authority.  It may have begun with good intentions as a push for educational improvements via research– but that good is not more good than individual agency, parental authority, transparency and adult student consent.

    We can conduct any large or small scale research in the world, as long as we do so ethically, and that has to include taking the time to do a consent form– inconvenient or not.

    The idea that a random person on the street could acquire PII for their neighbor’s child due to the exceptions in FERPA  is not hyperbole.  While neither you nor I nor any human being has read the entire verbiage of all FERPA documents, I have read the recent exceptions page thoroughly.  It says that anyone who is determined to have “legitimate educational interests,” including a “contractor,” “consultant,” even a school “volunteer” can access this information, being “considered a school official”.  Full text: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=1a7070ed933117bedbac3ab9e0c7458f&rgn=div8&view=text&node=34:1.1.1.1.33.4.132.2&idno=34 “99.31 Under what conditions is prior consent not required to disclose information? (a) An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by §99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:  (1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials, including teachers, within the agency or institution whom the agency or institution has determined to have legitimate educational interests.(B) A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party— ( 1 ) Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees…”

    There it is, in black and white.

    So, I am glad that your favorite saying is, “facts are always friendly.”  I agree.  I would welcome a formal hearing on Common Core and FERPA, so that all facts can be vetted by the good people of Utah and not just by you and I.  Would you agree to help make that happen?

    I hope you are able and willing because of your partnership with the USOE to influence that office to have a hearing. http://www.schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx  See page 25 for your name.

    I doubt the USOE will agree, however, because that office seems to despise transparency.  It published an unreferenced, half-true “fact v. fiction” flier, it won’t answer questions or return emails, it won’t rebut rebuttals of their facts, and it continues to publish statements without verifiability, wherein it just redelivers claims of the Dept. of Education, the SBAC, NGA, NCES, and CCSSO.

    So I thank you again for taking the time to communicate with me.  I have never had such great feedback from anyone on the pro-Common Core side as I’ve had with you.

    Lastly, thanks for bringing up Godwin’s Law (that, given enough time, any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope— inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler and the Nazis.)  There is more than a small spark of truth in Godwin’s Law.  Why? If a discussion is important enough to continue at length, it will inevitably come to the issue that the Nazis vividly illustrated: power to control others at will, versus free agency.

    Though that issue’s been illustrated by WW2, fresh in our collective conscious, it’s been illustrated through time by many power-hungry regimes. In reality, “Freedom as we know it has been experienced by perhaps less than one percent of the human family”  (President Benson).  The freedoms we enjoy were set up via the Constitution by wise people extremely concerned –maybe you would prefer the word  “paranoid” — about losing freedom and rights in the future, or having their descendants lose hold of that rare bird, freedom.

    Freedoms are not un-alterable.  The choices we make, and that you are making, affect others’ freedoms, especially as a top-level educator who affects political decisions concerning education in this state.

    The USOE continues to aid and abet what Bill Evers of Stanford’s Hoover Institute aptly called the “Department of Education’s Immaculate Deception” –meaning Common Core, and its sister, the congressionally unauthorized FERPA regulatory changes.  These decisions were made without meaningful public vetting and 99% of schoolchildrens’ parents in this state still don’t even know what Common Core is nor what FERPA is about. It is up to people like you to right this wrong.

    I hope you will reconsider with gravity the aligning of Utah’s children and BYU’s Education Department with the philosophies and programs of Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Bill Gates, and the whole elitist group of Anti-American education reform activists.

    Christel Swasey

About these ads

3 responses to “BYU Professor David Wiley: Parents Don’t Need to Know

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. You will need to determine if it is the humidity and sweating that you are suffering from, as this can be relatively easy to
    fix. Remove and dispose of moldy material in plastic bags, if possible.
    ” Equipment that is used to measure the saturation of moisture.

  2. POINT BLANK THEIR HAS TO BE SOME KIND OF DISCLIPINE IN ORDER TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE AND
    MAINTAIN A GOOD APPEARANCE. This gadget is one of
    the best buys around if you are looking for the cheapest Internet tablets.
    This tablet is more attractive and charming for internet users and enjoy everywhere
    with your family and friends.

  3. Reading these conversations between the two of you has been helpful for me. Thank you for sharing.

Comments are welcome here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,956 other followers

%d bloggers like this: