Archive for the ‘Data Privacy is a Right Schools Must Not Violate’ Category
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
According to Utah law, a 15-member parent committee must be assembled to review the test questions on the Common Core SAGE test prior to the test being administered statewide.
Members of the committee now report that, contrary to what was reported by the Utah State Office of Education and the media, there was no consensus of approval on SAGE by the parent committee. Several members want to set the record straight. Here is the first of what will be a series of parental testimonies that all was not well with SAGE tests. This comes from committee member Molly Foster, with her permission.
Email from Molly Foster (written to the other members of the 15-parent committee to review SAGE test questions)
… In the spring when I was made aware of the USOE putting words in my mouth I contacted Judy Park several times, through email and phone messages to no avail until I sent a more honest email to her one day, she immediately responded. I will enclose our emailed conversation.
…The results of the SAGE test across the state were not surprising for the 5 Supers I spoke to in southern Utah. Judy Park herself told them in training that the students would fail until they got all the curriculum aligned, this could take years, and quite frankly by then they will have another mandatory program they are shoving down each district’s throat, keeping everybody busy testing instead of teaching, and most importantly nurturing human relationships within their own schools and communities… Let’s not forget that the test scores are also tied to school grades, and teacher performance pay.
As a teacher, I believe formative and summative assessing is best done at district level. An antiquated idea, I know. While our law makers spend their time passing bills with the impression they are providing a little vehicles for educators in their state to produce “college and career ready” students, even “globally” ready for life I have to laugh (in order to not cry).
Last I checked, this is America! The rest of the world is trying to come here to work and live. Remember? We have the liberty and freedom to work and educate people as we so desire. Comparing test scores to kids in Scandinavia or Singapore does nothing. Their kids in the end have no choice of whether they will pursue arts, science, technology, this is decided for them before many have even hit puberty! I love that American kids get to choose. Some may really like science through high school but when they begin college they may find a new love for the arts and find a degree in that pursuit. In America you may even decide NOT to go to college (gasp!). Isn’t this the greatest country?!
The state is not going to get rid of a 38 million dollar exam anytime in the next few years. The parent committee is nothing but a political move they will continue to use to their advantage as long as ya’ll stay quiet and polite. Best case scenario for me would be to administer it only at the end of the year, just like the old state tests.
Cut any ties it has to teacher performance pay, and school grading. If they think this is silly you should tell Judy Park and the rest of the USOE staff and all the legislators to take it themselves three times a year, tell them they will be fired if they don’t score at an appropriate global level. Tell them not to get nervous when they sit down in front of a computer for 2-4 hours a day, for 5 days, 3 times yearly. They might have to start “working to the test” but in the end it will all be worth it, I am sure they will immediately understand why this multi million dollar test is the only way to make them college and career ready. They will see how easy it is to judge their workday hours on a CAT exam, they can grade each employee and determine pay scales on their scores.
You were all a great bunch of parents and I urge you to each speak. Share your personal opinions with the parents, teachers and administrators in your communities, that is why you are there! Be honest with the USOE. Best part…..you don’t have to all have the same opinion!
But you do have the obligation to the people you represent to be their voice. Teachers and administrators cannot safely voice personal opinion. I have a lot of family members and loved ones working in Utah that need more parents to make a stand for education. Lucky for them there are some real smart, delightful people on the committee that will do just that!
Enjoy another round of tests!
Best to each of you!
I am very disturbed at what you said in a recent letter sent to districts across the state:
“There are also concerns that the test questions contain inappropriate content of a social or political nature. Every question on the SAGE assessment has been reviewed by the 15 member parent committee last fall. Every parent on the panel (including the parents that do not support the common core) agreed that there was nothing in the questions that was inappropriate.”
I am on your 15 member parent committee and you know we agreed there were questions that were inappropriate.
It is unfortunate that I have to tell people that the USOE is not a trustworthy entity. I did not intend my participation that week to be a blanket validation for your political purposes.
From Utah State Office of Education’s Dr. Judy Park to Molly Foster:
Molly, I am so sorry that you misunderstood my comments. I am regularly receiving concerns that the questions have inappropriate language and are pushing a social agenda. When we held the parent debrief panel the last day of the parent committee review, when asked if the test questions had inappropriate words or pushed a social agenda (I don’t remember exactly how it was worded), all 15 parents responded that the questions did not. There is no doubt that there were many questions that were flagged by the parent committee. I have freely shared the information you received from John Jesse that showed the number of items that were flagged by the parent committee and the resolution of those items. I am also in the process of preparing the items that were dropped from the test due to the input from the parent committee, for public release. I think it will be very helpful for any interested persons to see the actual items that have been eliminated. I have tried in all of my comments about the parent committee (written or verbal) to honor the great work of the committee and appropriately portray the views and opinions that were shared. I will try to be much more specific in the future to hopefully prevent misunderstanding.
Judy W. Park, Ed.D.
Utah State Office of Education
Student Services and Federal Programs
Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
- Leo Tolstoy
I sat in the Early Life Child Psychology and Education center this week, watching Dr. Gary Thompson’s presentation about Common Core testing, thinking that Dr. Thompson is the fearless kid in the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Dr. Thompson stands armed with honesty, science and evidence, pointing out that the Emperor of SAGE/Common Core tests is stark raving naked. All around Salt Lake City, meanwhile, people play along with the wealthy emperor, pretending that nothing’s wrong with what the whole world seems to have been paid to agree are such smashing, new –dare we call them rigorous— clothes.
What does Dr. Thompson see as he analyzes the Common Core SAGE test in its birthday suit?
He points out foremost that there is such a thing as a code of ethics for the psychological testing of children.
“Wait, wait–” says the State Office of Education– “We’re not doing psychological testing on your kids.” But this does not placate Utahns who fact check for themselves. SAGE/Common Core tests –in addition to being tests of academic subjects– are psychological tests. We know this because:
1) Utah law demands it. HB15, passed in 2012, required Utah’s public and charter schools to administer computer adaptive tests aligned with Common Core. It specified “the use of behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” Behavior indicators are not math, science or language arts data points. They are psychological data points.
2) The SAGE tests are created by Utah’s test contractor, American Institutes for Research (AIR) which is primarily “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research organizations.” Its stated mission is “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation.”
3) The federal Department of Education –which shouldn’t, but does, call shots for the Utah State Office of Education– openly encourages psychological profiling of students via tests, calling it “data-driven decision making,” “a data quality campaign” and other positive-sounding terms. See any of its initiatives, reports and recommendations which do depend on/openly promote psychological profiling of children by testing.
Here’s how Dr. Thompson says that SAGE violates the code of ethics for psychological testing:
Standard 9.03 from the Ethical Principles of Psychologists states that “psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments. SAGE does not do this. The ethics for informed consent include telling the client (in SAGE’s case, the student and parents) what the nature, purpose and anticipated course of services will be; using clear language; allowing the client (student and parents) to ask questions; telling them about involvement of any third parties who may have access to the information gathered via the test; disclosing whether experimentation will be used; informing the client whether the test administrator is a trainee or fully qualified to administer psychological testing; obtaining consent in advance of recording or observing; potential risks; potential limitations; and more.
Each of these codes of conduct were broken by the USOE in implementing SAGE tests on Utah schools.
Standard 9.02 states that “Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established…when such validity or reliability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.”
There have been no independent validity and reliability studies done on SAGE tests, whatsoever, as Dr. Thompson pointed out. Another enormous principal of all scientific forms of testing– broken.
While it is clear that SAGE tests are psychological in nature, and that the tests do not adhere to the code of ethical conduct for psychological testing, there’s even more at stake.
Dr. Thompson pointed out that the future is very close to already here: Game-based assessment, also known as Stealth Assessments, are secret tests embedded in video games for schools that are further eclipsing parental rights and knowledge about what data is being collected while children are at school. Even teachers would not know what exactly is being collected or analyzed when stealth assessments are used in classroom settings.
In a scholarly journal entitled “District Administration” Dr. Thompson read, and shared, that now, in an attempt to lessen student stress, Gates-funded groups are telling us that video games are the education of the future. “District Administration” journal writes that because “complex thinking skills can’t be measured by traditional standardized tests, educators are turning to stealth assessments hidden in video games.” The article continues, “stealth assessments are seamless, so the distinction between learning and assessment is completely blurred. Kids are playing, they are learning, and they are being assessed all at the same time.” Further: “testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction.” Children will be tested all of the time. How does a person opt out of that?
Dr. Thompson’s presentation also touched on many other issues of great importance. He spoke about the vulnerable populations that are forced to take Common Core SAGE tests (unless parents opt them out). These include children with any of a host of learning disabilities, children with depression and anxiety, children with autism and Asberger’s, children with historically poor test taking scores due to cultural bias in testing including African-American and Latino children, children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, children from high-stress poverty homes, children with psychotic disorders, ADHD, and dual exceptional (gifted and learning disordered) to name a few.
He shared from academic journals many ethical considerations associated with Common Core’s pushing of the very young into “rigorous” and age-inappropriate standards. He shared research he’s collected, too, about the use of children’s data for marketing purposes, (quoting from the academic journal article, “Children as Consumers.” This is relevant and troubling because the SAGE test creator, AIR, has open partnerships (and data sharing policies) with numerous corporations that have no restraint on accessing SAGE-collected student information.
Thompson further discussed harm to the brain of a child using Common Core testing practices on every type of child, and using Common Core styled math on every type of learner. He spoke of the brain’s disorganization response to Common Core-styled math pedagogy and to high-stakes tests like SAGE.
This brain-analyzing portion of the presentation must be explained in detail in a separate post. Briefly: the neurological (brain-affecting) Common Core issues raised by Dr. Thompson’s research are extremely important in light of the fact that both Bill Gates (Common Core funder) and our federal government are highly focused on studying and applying research about the neurology of children, right now. The federally approved Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, also known as the White House Neuroscience Initiative, was granted federal funds to invest in brain research and drug development, and not just to prevent Alzheimer’s. Its stated aims: “optimizing interactions between the environment and the brain across the lifespan,” “applying the brain’s information processing capabilities” and “enhancing communication among federal agencies”. Congressman Fattah wrote that he is “a major proponent of brain mapping… understand…the role of individual neurons in controlling our thoughts, movements…”. –Recall that Secretary Duncan mocked the idea that the federal government was involved in this, when it was accused of collecting student data using Common Educational Data Standards. He said, “Let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” Yet that is exactly what the federal Fattah Neuroscience Initiative aims to do. Congressman Fattah has made it clear that brain mapping is the aim of the White House Neuroscience Initiative. Now, let’s use our brains. Who is the only huge, captive group of guinea pigs they have under their control upon whom they can do brain mapping research (call it education) for hours and hours every single day?
Dr. Thompson’s full presentation was long, and I will post it when I get a link to the film. You’ll want to see the whole presentation and discuss it with your local and state representatives on the school boards in detail. Each of the issues touched on in Dr. Thompson’s presentation deserves a chapter or a book written on it.
But to keep it simple, digestible, and close to home, let’s focus on one thing: the thing Dr. Thompson focuses on; the SAGE test. You’ll want to opt your children out of every type of SAGE test: summative (end of year), formative and interim (year round SAGE tests.)
It is the enforcer of Utah’s Common Core and the primary vehicle for massive student data collection right now. We need to get rid of it, or opt individual children –by the thousands and thousands– out of it, so that its data collectors cannot do what they aim to do, and so that Common Core experimental standards cannot take deep root in our schools, cannot dictate teacher salaries, cannot narrowly define and narrowly present what is “education” to our children.
Somebody will look out for students’ mental health, privacy, and happiness, even in this age of politically motivated high-stakes SAGE testing –and soon, in this age of stealth testing. Somebody will look out for the parents’ rights to know about and to guide psychological treatment or analysis of children. Someone will pound on the door of the USOE, the governor, and the legislators’ offices, demanding the end of SAGE tests in Utah schools, demanding answers to the questions that Dr. Thompson and other child psychologists, such as Joan Landes and Dr. Megan Koschnick (video below) have raised.
That someone is that person in your bathroom mirror or it’s nobody, because everybody’s so busy.
Legislators are busy. Teachers are busy. Board members are busy. Reporters are busy. Common Core technological implementers and teacher development conference producers are busy. Everyone is so busy being busy that the busy-ness that matters most of all— our children and our liberty-- have lost precious ground.
It is not too late.
In September, Concerned Citizens of Southern New Jersey held a symposium entitled “No More Common Core,” featuring:
- Dr. Sandra Stotsky, emeritus professor and member of the original Common Core validation committee
- Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University
- Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education
- Dr. Tom Borelli, a molecular biologist
- Deneen Borelli of FreedomWorks
- Dr. Vern Williams of MathReasoning
The symposium was filmed and is posted here in three segments.
One of the event organizers, Janice Lenox, wrote an op-ed in the Cape May County Herald that succinctly explains why this symposium was so needed.
After a tremendous amount of grassroots labor, the Assembly bill against Common Core was read and voted on. Lenox wrote:
“We were there for the vote and absolutely ecstatic when the vote 72-2 in our favor was called. Now, on to the Senate… the Senate president passed over the bill without posting for a vote. We were told that the governor had a meeting with the Senate president and the Teachers Union president and cut a deal. “Regulation, not Legislation” –that’s what the governor wanted. He issued an executive order… He was to assemble a Study Commission to examine the PARCC testing and alleviate the teachers’ assessments for a year… and look at the Common Core… That was July 19 of this year… As of this date, Nov. 1, no Commission of any kind has been named and no information has been forthcoming… We urge Senator Steven Sweeney to do the people’s business and post Senate bill S2154 to the floor for a vote and let the peoples’ voices be heard…. Let teachers teach and parents parent.”
If the good people of New Jersey will simply watch, learn, and share these vital messages from the symposium speakers, and then firmly let Senator Sweeney and their other elected representatives exactly how important this is, maybe this mountain will move move.
Go, New Jersey!
Symposium Part One:
Symposium Part Two:
Symposium Part Three:
One of the reasons that our family moved from Wasatch County to Utah County last month was to be closer to the school in Alpine (Utah County) that my son is attending this year. The 50-mile (times two) daily commute was worth it.
Filled with uniformed students and happy-looking staff, Mountainville Academy’s a cheerful, academically-focused K-9 school that displays the Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People posters all over the school (and incorporates the 7 habits into classwork.) Parents each volunteer 40 or more hours of service to the school, and it shows.
We chose Mountainville Academy because it was one of the few remaining public schools that was using time-tested, excellent Saxon Math (2007 version; pre-Common Core), and it was a rare school where students were grouped by achievement level rather than by age, at least for math. This meant that a sixth grader would often be found in an eighth grade math class, or vice versa, placed not by government tests, but by a “results-remained-in-the-school” performance test.
Also, despite the government mandate that the school administer end-of-year Common Core SAGE/AIR tests, the school had been gracious with parents who chose to opt students out of those end of year tests.
This school year had been good, so far.
But last night, I received a school email that has resulted in our family’s decision that our son will not attend Mountainville next year. I was so sad. I truly felt sold out, as Alyson Williams described it, because this board could not claim ignorance. I had met with them, presented to them, emailed them, shown them links and documentation and countless reasons why this decision would harm the students and the school.
The email, from the school’s academic excellence committee, stated that despite the two presentations I made, and despite other parents also speaking out, the school will abandon “results-remain-in-the-school” performance testing, to adopt year-round, formative SAGE/Common Core testing.
This, the email said, was in the best interests of the children.
I was sickened by the email’s news, but also confused– how can anyone, having received the amount of information and documentation that I presented and emailed to the board and the committee about SAGE/AIR, still say with seriousness that this decision was “in the best interests of the children”?
I don’t get it.
But I’m going to post the email that I gave to the board, which the board had requested from me as a follow-up to my five or ten minute oral presentation. I’m also going to post the email I received last night.
So, is this an epic ruination of a great, formerly-parent-led school, or was this decision made truly “in the best interests of the children”? The school has been altered to its very center. The school-altering decision was made without taking a vote from parents, without even announcing in the weekly “Mountainville Minute” that the school will now be very, very different.
It will be administering Common Core testing throughout the year, and on purpose, voluntarily, rather than only administering the state-mandated end of year SAGE/AIR test. It will necessarily align its teachings more and more to the federal desires for what college-and-career readiness is, because placing students in different levels of learning will be structured all year long now upon common core testing and teaching.
I can’t see any way that this course of action can take place and still keep classic education, Saxon math for example, at the school for long. Because formative tests are utterly Common Core and David-Coleman-club aligned, to get the state version of “excellent” scores on these tests, teachers will be pressured to teach more Common Core and less classic Saxon. The formative tests will form student’s paths and teacher’s definitions of what education now means, and that’s giving up the reins of power, reins that had made this school so unique and wonderful.
Beyond the academic transformation is something probably even more serious: student data privacy. Privacy for Mountainville students is thrown out the window, because individuals and schools were the only defense we had against the federal-corporate partnership that is aiming to rape the nation of its student privacy.
The state government won’t protect us if Mountainville’s board won’t; the state’s SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) tracks children without parental consent or knowledge and gives much of it to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange and to the corporate American Institutes for Research, which is then free to share that data with its countless affiliates, including Data Recognition Corporation and Smarter Balanced Advisory Consortium (SBAC) which happens to be under contract to share its student level data with the federal government. American Institutes for Research, the primary data collector of Utah’s SAGE tests, is a behavioral research organization focused on psychometric data collection and behavior.
All of this is known to Mountainville’s Board of Trustees, and with full knowledge, the Board has decided to still jump on the year-round SAGE testing bandwagon. Neither preserving a classical education nor student data privacy apparently matters too much to the Mountainville Board.
But it does to me.
My heart goes out to the students and their families who will remain at Mountainville, most likely oblivious to the fact that the school’s educational program and their student’s academic and behavioral data privacy just took a very sharp nose dive down.
Here are the emails.
On Oct 13, 2014, at 2:12 PM, Christel wrote:
Dear Mountainville Academy,
I’m following up from last week’s school board meeting with a summary of my concerns underlying my request that Mountainville Academy continue to use the in-house testing system that’s worked so well in past years, rather than switching over to the state’s SAGE/AIR formative testing system.
(I began to study education reforms two and a half years ago and have researched, summarized and posted findings at “Common Core: Education Without Representation” where I hope you will read much more than I can summarize here about student data privacy, the common core experimental standards, and the unconstitutionality and freedom-sapping of recent education reforms.)
The reason my sixth grade son’s commuted 50 miles– from Heber to Alpine– and back, each day this school year (up until this week when our family moved from Heber to Pleasant Grove) is that Mountainville is very different in important, crucial ways, from other public schools. I love those differences and want them to remain in place.
- The use of time-tested Saxon math rather than the kind of experimental Common Core math that’s being taught elsewhere was reason #1 for our choosing Mountainville.
- Reason #2 was the in-house testing that places children where they need to be, rather than placing them in a common pace that does not serve individual needs as well; the fact that these in-house test results remained only at Mountainville, rather than being submitted to state or federal entities– as government-mandated school tests are– was a big deal to me.
If Mountainville switches to SAGE/AIR formative testing, I predict that many parents, like me, will very sadly decide to leave the school. Here’s why:
- LOCAL CONTROL: American Institutes for Research (AIR), the company that writes Utah’s SAGE tests (along with some limited Utah educator input), represents a lack of local control and freedom to me. AIR is federally approved and is officially partnered with the federally funded and micromananged SBAC, Utah’s former Common Core test maker. AIR/SAGE partnership makes Utah indirectly partnered with the federal government via that SBAC partnership. AIR has a progressive, left-leaning agenda, a focus on psychometric rather than academic testing, and a set of values that do not match mine. I do not trust that the questions will be values-neutral nor that the questions will not push children toward pre-determined beliefs that go far beyond traditional academic facts or even critical thinking about traditional truth. I feel this way about AIR based on carefully studying AIR’s own website, mission statement, clients, staff, secretive questions, history; vague responses by the USOE and state leaders in response to parental concerns; the research of Alpine School Board members, and the actual contract between AIR and Utah.
- PARENTAL KNOWLEDGE: Neither Mountainville parents nor teachers are ever allowed to view SAGE tests– not even months after the testing has happened.
- PRIVACY: Privacy will go out the window. What is reported about students by Mountainville to the state, federal and corporate research entities will go from a tiny trickle to a fast-flowing river of data. Formerly, Mountainville performance tests remained at the school level. Now, the state of Utah would be tracking and collecting all in-house formative information on each child, without parental knowledge or consent. While parents can opt out of end of year SAGE tests, they cannot opt out of year -round formative tests while remaining at this school.
- FEEDING THE SLDS: Because the legislature has not clearly defined, as far as I can tell, who owns individual student data in our state, the state is making what I feel is the wrong assumption –that it owns or is entitled to student data. Common sense says that the student and his/her family should own his/her data. Because it’s not clear in current law, our children are unprotected. This is evidenced by the existence of the state longitudinal database system (SLDS) which follows and tracks students without parental knowledge or consent, from the moment a parent registers a child for school (unless it’s private school) until the child is in the workforce. The SLDS system was created to federal specifications, with federal interoperability rules, using $9.6 million federal dollars to build Utah’s SLDS. Every other state also has a federally paid for SLDS. Much student data is shared from the SLDS to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange. Because we do not know exactly what data is shared from Utah to the federal government, we are wise to not feed Utah’s SLDS any more data that we are absolutely required to by state law; i.e., don’t drop our in-house testing and use the state’s SAGE/AIR system.
- FEEDING THE NDCM DATA POINTS: There is a National Data Collection Model at the federal level which requests– it does not mandate, but it requests– over 400 data points about every student in our state. It is an invasion of student and family privacy, yet at the state level, Utah is increasingly conforming to the NDCM requests using its P-20 system promoted in Governor Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 program. I do not see any benefit or need to cooperate with these unethical requests.
- FERPA WAS SHREDDED: We are not protected by formerly protective federal privacy law, FERPA. The Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to make regulatory, policy changes (not laws, but still binding). These changes included reducing the requirement to get parental consent (before viewing/sharing student data) to a “best practice” rather than a mandate. The changes also included redefining personally identifiable information (pii) as biometric information. That means that behavioral data (the type of data AIR specializes in collecting) and biological data can be used to identify students at the federal level. The Federal Register lists fingerprints, blood type, handwriting samples, DNA and many other methods of identifying pii of a student.. We have to ask ourselves whether a vast data-collection archive or student privacy is of greater value to our children. We cannot have control of both.
- DON’T PASS THE BUCK ON PROTECTING CHILDREN: In my experience I have found that most Utah legislators, state school board members and even our governor’s staff do not know nor work to understand these things.. They have not taken the time to understand recent education reform changes, or they see them as a positive thing.
We cannot depend on others to protect our children. We need to be the first line of defense as parents, teachers and local school board members. I ask you to retain Mountainville’s in-house tests, keep the strengths of Mountainville, and reject the opportunity to use Utah’s SAGE/AIR year-round testing system.
Mountainville Academy Parent
(also a Utah credentialed teacher)
Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Request to continue with in-house testing rather than
formative SAGE testing
I just wanted to let you know the status of our SAGE testing decisions.
At Mountainville Academy, we make every decision based on what is best for our students. After listening to all sides with concerns about SAGE testing, we as an academic excellence committee has decided to go ahead with the interim SAGE testing. We feel that it will help students learn and prepare for SAGE testing in the spring. As you know, spring SAGE testing is mandatory and schools are not allowed to opt out of testing.
After reviewing the results from SAGE testing of spring 2014, we recognize the many challenges that come with a new test, but are excited by the tools created to help our students achieve greater understanding of various topics.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. I completely understand your concerns and we will continue to monitor the testing and SAGE program. Thanks for coming to our board and committee meeting.
Board of Trustees
(For those with concerns, look into schools that are not yet taking the path of Common Core year-round testing. In Utah County there’s the (fully aware of the Common Core problem) Maesar Prep (a public chartered jr. and high school), American Heritage (private K-12), Timpanogos (public elementary charter) or one of the many home school co-op academies nearby.)
An Idaho grandmother, Yvonne Hyer, recently wrote a letter to legislators. She didn’t just confront her own representatives about Common Core and student data mining; she signed, stamped, and mailed her letter to one hundred and five members of the Idaho legislature.
On this eve of her ninetieth birthday, Yvonne Hyer told Idaho legislators that she remembers what she was doing when America’s Pearl Harbor was bombed, on a day when the current Idaho legislators weren’t even born.
Her letter warns, “We had all better remember. If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible mistakes.“
(I have added some historical photos to illustrate Yvonne Hyer’s points.)
Yvonne’s letter explained that is was a mistake to give in –during a climate of dissatisfaction, unemployment and economic insecurity– to the comforting lies of collectivist power-grabbers, focused on transforming schools.
Actual illustrated children’s textbook from 1941 Germany (notice Hitler’s agenda embedded in curriculum)
The mistakes seem to be repeating themselves, wrote Yvonne Hyer: American leaders have begun to walk the school-transforming path sketched out by current elected officials and their corporate allies. This reminded Yvonne Hyer of how many listened to the then-heroic young leader of the 1940s, Adolph Hitler, and how nobody stopped him from taking over the schools.
“He gained control over the minds of the German children who became known as Hitler’s Youth. This he did in the school room…” she wrote.
Her letter further explains that one reason the German government mandated what went on in the classroom was to indoctrinate students with “politically correct” idealogy. But there was a second reason.
It was student (and family) data mining which took place in large part the German educational system:
“They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone who spoke against the government or its leaders, even their own parents….There was a lot of spying, to keep them in line… If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get what he wanted…”
“…Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday…. Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core….the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database System, and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart“.
Yvonne is correct.
But will her legislators ponder the wisdom of this woman’s observations –and take action?
Are they aware that no student or family is permitted to opt out of the state longitudinal database system, which does collect massive amounts of student and family information without parental consent– and that this database system has been built in exactly the same, federally-prescribed, interoperable way, in every single one of the fifty states?
Do they realize that she’s completely correct– that Common Core is no different from the power grabbing that’s taken place throughout history, where always, the would-be elites have sought and gained access to and control over the school room?
Do they take a moment to think about the fact that the reason so many were successfully deceived and used as pawns in the widespread power-taking agendas of the past (not limited to Hitler’s Reich; including countless historical examples, past and present, around the world–) the reason for that success was that the official marketing lines sound so very, very appealing?
Will these legislators take a moment to fact check Yvonne’s claims and to fact check the claims about Common Core that gush forth, with exactly the same phrasing, from Boards of Education, federal grant application documents, official federal speeches, corporate educational sales speeches, poised-for-riches Chambers of Commerce and crony moneymakers’ speeches? Why doesn’t any legislature or state school board use its research team to fact-check and motivation-check?
This wise woman’s call for the legislators to wake up and stop the takeover of our schools and our students’ data privacy could not be more important.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Senator ________________,
In just four months, I will be 90 years old. Why is that important and why do I mention it to you? It’s important because I remember World War II.
Most of you serving in the legislature at this time had not even been born then. I remember what I was doing on Dec. 7th 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor! Most of us living then, still remember, just as all of us living now remember what we were doing on Sept. 11th 2001, the morning the Twin Towers were attacked. We had all better remember! If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible experiences. I see many things going on in our country today, not identical, but reminiscent of an earlier time in a different part of the world.
After World War I, much of Europe was in shambles. Millions of men had died in the trenches and open battle fields. As those who survived returned home, they found the additional human cost was staggering. The length of the war, four long years, brought all kinds of problems, starvation not the least among them, along with unemployment, industry having almost shut down, with so many men at the front. In this climate of dissatisfaction, a group calling themselves the “Workers’ Party” was formed.
A young corporal was sent by his superiors to a meeting of the group to investigate. Dressed as a civilian, he blended in and heard a speaker convincingly describe how to get rid of capitalism. He was given a pamphlet called “My Political Awakening” which resonated with his own feelings. In challenging a statement made by own of the workers, he learned that he had a voice and passion that could sway his listeners. He joined the Worker’s party and advanced in its ranks, learned how to work a crowd and thus he entered into politics and in time became one of the most infamous world figures. He used whatever means and schemes, regardless of morality or legality, to achieve his objectives.
Adolph Hitler! What a hey-day he would have had with Common Core’s data mining! He gained control over the minds of German children who became known as “Hitler’s Youth”. This he did in the school room.
They were taught that the Third Reich was supreme and that its leaders had unquestioned authority; this was drilled into them from the earliest grades up. They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone they heard talking against the government or its leaders, even their own parents, and they did; it was so ingrained in them. There was a lot of spying then to find information on people, to keep them in line. If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get the information he wanted.
I know this sounds paranoid because this would never happen in America, but lots of things have happened in our country that we would never have dreamed of.
Of what possible use is all that data that is being gathered through Common Core tests or assessments, and to whom is it important? Ask yourself that question, and while doing so, let the fact cross your mind, that some of the items of information from your child or grandchild’s “data back pack” might just end up biting you. Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday.
Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core. There are many other things about this program that I am deeply concerned about, but the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database Systems and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart at this time.
We know that changing the name to Idaho Core didn’t change anything! We want out!
Those of you not on the Education Committee may not be aware that Common Core is a package deal. It’s either take all of it, or none. It is copyrighted by two private trade groups, “The National Governors Association” and “The Council of Chief State School Officers” the NGA and the CCSSO (check: http://www.corestandards.org/public-license ).
We can add a little of what we would like to the program, 15%, but none of that will be included in the assessments. So if an inquisitive student should choose to study some “outside material” on his own time, none of the knowledge he acquired, regardless of how much effort he put in, or the accuracy or the importance of what he learned, will be counted toward his grade, because it will not be on the prescribed assessment. When I went to school and even when my children went, students were encouraged to reach out and expand their minds, we even got extra credit. We were taught that that was the way people got ahead in the world.
If the teachers’ job and salary and the ranking of their school is dependent on how well his or her students perform on the assessment, who can blame them for “teaching to the test”? Many fine teachers in this awful predicament are disheartened. This was not why they chose a teaching career. Few of them dare to speak up against Common Core because they need to provide for their families.
Common Core is and will be more far reaching and intrusive in our lives than any of us can foresee at the present time. Loss of local control is frightening to me, not just in education, but particularly in education, because of the effect on the minds and hearts of our precious children, the future leaders of our Republic.
Can you please tell me, Senator, why an issue as important as almost completely changing our education system, did not come before the whole legislative body for discussion and debate– time and again? Is not your opinion on this subject, vital as it is to each of us, as important as that of those on the Education Committee? Were you not also elected to uphold Idaho conservative values? You were probably as much in the dark about this as the rest of us; the more people in the dark about it, the more likely it was to be passed, and I think that was planned.
As Common Core is actually being implemented in the classroom and as more people are becoming aware of what this program really is, you will see it becoming more of an issue.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” -Abraham Lincoln
Since Common Core affects all Idahoans, I’m sending this letter to each of you legislators, with my earnest plea that you will consider the ramifications inherent in such power and control as this program gives “somebody”.
Mrs. Yvonne Hyer
Thank you to Yvonne Hyer.